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Timon the man-hater, morose and savage as he was, formed a better judgment of this conduct of Alcibiades. Meeting him one day as he was coming out of the assembly, vastly pleased at his having been gratified in all his demands, and at seeing the greatest honours paid him by the people in general, who were attending him in crowds to his house ; so far from shunning him as he did all other men, he on the contrary, ran to meet him, and stretching out his hand to bim in a friendly way: “ Courage, my son,” said he “thou doest right in pushing thy fortune, for your advancement will be the ruin of all these people." The war of Sicily will show that Timon was, not mistaken.
The Athenians, from the time of Pericles, had meditated the conquest of Sicily. However, that wise guide had always endeavoured to check this ambicious and wild project. He used frequently to inculcate upon them, that by living in peace, by supporting their fleet, by contenting themselves with the conquests they had already gained, and by not engaging in hazardous enterprises, they would raise their city to a flourishing condition, and be always superior to their enemies. The authority he had at that time over the people, though it kept them from invading Sicily, could not suppress the desire they had to conquer it, and their eyes were continually upon that island. Some time after the death of Pericles, the Leontines being invaded by the Syracusans, bad sent a deputation to Athens to demand aid. They were originally of Chalcis, an Athenian colony. The chief of the deputies was Gorgias a famous rhetorician, who was reputed the most eloquent man of his times. His elegant and florid diction, heightened by shining figures, which he first employed, charmed the Athenians, who were prodigiously affected with the beau, ties and graces of eloquence. Accordingly the alliance was concluded, and they sent ships to Rhegium to the aid of the Leonlines. The year following they sent a greater number. Two years after they sent a new fleet, something stronger than the former; but the Sicilians having put an end to all their divisions, by the advice of Hermocrates, the fleet was sent back ; and the Athenians' not being able to prevail with themselves to pardon their generals for not conquering Sicily, sent two of them, Pythodorus and Sophocles, into banishment and sentenced the third, Eurymedon, to pay a heavy fine; their prosperity having blinded them to such a degree, that they were persuaded no power was able to resist them. They made several attempts afterwards, and upon pretence of sending from time to time arms and soldiers to such cities as were unjustly treated or oppressed by the Syracusans, they by that means prepared to invade them with a greater force.*
But the person who most inflamed this ardour was Alcibiades, by his feeding the people with splendid hopes, with which he himself was for ever filled, or rather intoxicated. He was every night in bis dreams taking Carthage, subduing Africa, crossing from thence into Italy, and possessing himself of all Peloponnesus, looking upon Sicily not as the scope and end of this war, but as the beginning and the first step of the exploits he revolved in his mind. All the citizens favoured bis views, and without inquiring seriously into matters, were enchanted with the mighty bopes he gave them. This expedition was the only topic of conversation. The young men in the places where the pubJic exercises were performed, and the old men in their shops and elsewhere, were employed in nothing but in drawing the plan of Sicily; in discoursing on the nature and quality of the sea with which it is surrounded ; on its good harbours, and flat shores towards Africa : for these people, infatuated by the speeches of Alcibiades, were, like him, persuaded that they should make Sicily only their military depot and arsenal, from whence they should set out for the conquest of Carthage, and make themselves masters of all' Africa and the sea, as far as the pillars of Hercules.
It is related, that neither Socrates, nor Meton the astronomer, believed thatthis enterprise would be successful; the former, being inspired, as he insinu
* Diod. l. xi p. 99.
ated, by his familiar spirit, who had always warned him of the evils with which he was threatened ; and the other, directed by his reason and good sense, which pointed out what he had to apprehend in respect to the future, induced him to act the madman on this occasion; and to demand, in consideration of the unhappy condition to which he was reduced, that the Athenians would not force away his son, and would disperse with his carrying arms. SECTION VI.-ACCOUNT OF THE SEVERAL PEOPLE WHO INHABITED SICILY.
BEFORE I enter on the relation of the war in Sicily, it will not be improper to give a plan of the couutry, and of the nations who inhabited it: Thucydides begins in the same manner.
It was first inhabited by the Lestrygones and the Cyclopes, of whom we do not know any particulars, except what we are told by the poets. The most ancient after these were the Sicani, who called themselves the original inhabitants of this country, though they are thought to have come into it from the neighbourhood of a river in Spain, called Sicanus, whose name they gave to the island, which before was called Trinacria : these people were afterwards confined to the western part of the island. Some Trojans, after the burning of their city, came and settled near them, and built Erix and Egesta,t who ali assumed the name of Elymæi; and were afterwards joined by some inhabitants of Phocis, at their return from the siege of Troy. Those who are properly called Sicilians came from Italy in very great numbers : and having gained a considerable victory over the Sicani, confined them to a corner of their island about three hundred years before the arrival of the Greeks, and in the time of Thucydides they still inhabited the middle part of the island and the northern coast. From them the island was called Sicily. The Phænicians also spread themselves along the coast, and in the little islands which bordered upon it, for the convenience of trade : but after the Greeks began to settle there, they retired into the country of the Elymæi, in order to be nearer Carthage, and abandoned the rest. It was in this manner the barbarians first settled in Sicily. I
With regard to the Greeks, the first of them who crossed into Sicily were the Chalcidians of Eubea, under Theocles, who founded Naxos.Ş The year after, which, according to Dionysius Halicarnasseus, was the third of the seventeenth Olympiad, Archias the Corinthian laid the foundations of Syracuse. Seven years after, the Chalcidians founded Leontium and Catana, after having driven out the inhabitants of the country, who were Sicilians. Other Greeks, who came from Megara, a city of Achaia, about the same time, founded Megara, called Hyblæa, or simply Hybla, from Hyblon, a Sicilian king, by whose permission they had settled in his dominions. It is well known that the Hyblæan honey was very famous among the ancients. A hundred years after, the inhabitants of that city built Selinuntum. Gela, built on a river of the same name, forty, five years after the founding of Syracuse, founded Agrigentum about a hundred and eight years after. Zancle, called afterwards Messana or Messene, by Anaxilas tyrant of Rhegium, who was a native of Messene, a city of Peloponnesus, had several founders, and at different periods. The Zanclians built the city of Hymera : the Syracusans built Acre, Casmene, and Camarina. These are most of the nations, whether Greeks or barbarians, who settled in Sicily. SECTION VII.-THE PEOPLE OF EGESTA IMPLORE AID OF THE ATHENIANS, &c.
ATHENS was in the disposition above related, wnen ambassadors arrived from the people of Egesta, who, in quality of allies, came to implore their aid against the inhabitants of Selinuntum, who were assisted by the Syracusans. It was the sixteenth year of the Peloponnesian war. They represented, among other things, that should they be abandoned, the Syracusans, after seizing their city, as they had done that of Leontium, would possess themselves of all Sicily, and not fail to aid the Peloponnesians who were their founders; and, that they might put them to as little charge as possible, they offered to pay the troops that should be sent to succour them. The Athenians, who bad long waited for an opportunity to declare themselves, sent deputies to Egesta to inquire into the state of affairs, and to see whether there was money enough in the treasury to defray the expense of so great a war. The inhabitants of that city had been so artful, as to borrow from the neighbouring nations-a great number of gold and silver vases, worth an immense sum of money, and of these they inade a show when thé Athenians arrived.*
Plut. in Alcib. p. 199. In Nic. p. 532.
| It is called Segesta by the Romans.
A. M...234. Ant. J. C. 710.
The deputies returned with those of Egesta, who carried sixty talents in ingots, as a month's pay for the galleys which they demanded; and a promise of larger sums, which they said were ready both in the public treasury and in the temples. The people, struck with these fair appearances, the truth of wbich they did not give themselves time to examine, and seduced by the advantageous reports which their deputies made in the view of pleasing them, immediately granted the Egestans their demand, and apprinted Alcibiades, Nicias, and Lamachus, to command the fleet, with full power not only to succour Egesta, and restore the inhabitants of Leontium to their city, but also to regulate the affairs of Sicily, in such a manner as might best suit the interests of the republic.
Nicias was appointed one of the generals, to his very great regret; for, besides other motives which made bim dread that command, he shunned it, because Alcibiades was to be his colleague. But the Athenians promised themselves greater success from this war, should they not resign the whole conduct of it to Alcibiades, but temper bis ardour and audacity with the coolness and wisdom of Nicias.
Five days after, to basten the execution of the decree, and make the necessary preparations, a second assembly was held. Nicias, who bad time enough to reflect deliberately on the affair proposed, and was still better convinced of the difficulties and dangers which would ensue from it, thought himself obliged to speak with soine vebemence against a project, the consequences of which he foresaw might be very fatal to the republic. He said, “ that it was surprising so important an affair should have been determined almost as soon as it was taken into deliberation : that without once inquiring into matters, they had given credit to whatever was told them by foreigners, who were very lavish of their promises, and whose interest it was to offer mighty things, in ore der to extricate themselves from their imminent danger. After all, what advantage,” said he, "
can accrue from thence to the republic? Have we so few enemies at our doors, that we need go in search of others at a distance from us? Will you act wisely to hazard your present possessions, on the vain hopes of an uncertain advantage ? to meditate new conquests, before you have secured your ancient ones ? to study nothing but the aggrandizing of your state, and quite neglect your own safety? Can you depend in any manner on a truce, which you yourselves know is very precarious ; which you are sensible has been infringed more than once; and which the least defeat on our side may suddenly change into an open war? You are not ignorant how the Lacedæmonians have always been and still continue disposed with regard to us. They detest our government as different from theirs; it is with grief and disdain they see us possessed of the empire of Greece; they consider our glory as their shame and confusion; and there is nothing they would not attempt, to humble a power which excites their jealousy, and keeps them perpetually in fear. These are our real enemies, and these are they whom we ought to guard against. Will it be a proper time to make these reflections, when (after having divided our troops, and while our arms will be employed elsewhere, and we shall be unable to resist them) we shall be attacked ai once by all the forces of Peloponnesus? We are just beginning to breathe after the calamities in which war and the plague had plunged us ; and we are now going to plunge ourselves into greater danger. If we are ambitious of carrying our arms into distant countries, would it not be more expedient to march and reduce the rebels of Thrace, and other nations who are still wavering, and unfixed in their allegiance, than to fly to the succour of the inhabitants of Egesta, about whose welfare we ought to be very indifferent ? And will it suit our interest, to attempt to avenge their injuries, at a time when we do not discover the least resentment for those we ourselves receive ? Let us leave the Sicilia ans to themselves, and not engage in their quarrels, which it is their business to decide. As the inhabitants of Egesta undertook the war without us, let them extricate themselves from it without our interference. Should any of our generals advise you to this enterprise, from an ambitious or self-interested view, merely to make a vain parade of his splendid equipages, or to raise money to support his extravagance, be not guilty of so much imprudence as to sacrifice the interest of the republic to his, or permit him to involve it in the saine ruin with himself. An enterprise of so much importance ought not to be committed wholly to the conduct of a young man.
* A. M. 3588. Ant. J. C. 416. Thucyd. I. vi. p. 413_415. p. 200. In Nic. p. 531
Diod. I. xii. p. 129, 130. Plut. in Alcib
A. M. 3589. Apt. J. C. 415.
Reinember it is prudence, not prejudice and passion, that gives success to affairs.” Nicias concluded with declaring it his opinion, that it would be proper to deliberate again on the affair, in order to prevent the fatal consequences with which their taking rash resolutions might be attended.*
It was plain he had Alcibiades in view, and that his enormous luxury was the object of his censure. And indeed he carried it to an incredible height, and lavished prodigious sums of money on horses, equipages, and moveables, not to mention the delicacy and sumptuousness of his table. He disputed the prize at the Olympic games with seven sets of chariot horses, which no private man had ever done before him; and he was crowned more than once on that occasion. Extraordinary resources were necessary for supporting such luxury; and as avarice often serves as a resource to ambition, there were some grounds to believe, that Alcibiades was no less solicitous for the conquest of Sicily and that of Carthage, (which he pretended would immediately follow,) to enrich bis family, than to render it glorious. It is natural to suppose, that Alcibiades did not let this speech of Nicias go unanswered.
“This,” said Alcibiades, is not the first time that merit has excited jealousy, and glory been made the object of envy. That
very thing which is imputed to me for a crime, reflects, I will presume to say it, honour on my country, and ought to gain me applause. The splendour in which I live; the great sums which I expend, particularly in the public assemblies ; besides their being just and lawful, at the same time give foreigners a greater idea of the glory of Athens; and show, that it is not in such want of money as our enemies imagine. But this is not our present business. Let the world form a judgment of me, not from passion and prejudice, Lut from my actions.
Was it an inconsiderable service I did the republic, in bringing over, in one day, to its alliance, the people of Elis, of Mantinea, and of Argos, that is, the chief strength of Peloponnesus?, Make use, therefore, te aggrandize your empire, of the youth and folly of Alcibiades, (since his enemies give it that name,) as well as of the wisdom and experience of Nicias; and do not repent, from vain and idle fears, your engaging in an enterprise publicly resolved upon, and which may redound infinitely both to your glory and advantage. The cities of Sicily, weary of the unjust and cruel government of their princes, and still more of the tyrannical authority which Syracuse exercises over them, wait only for a favourable opportunity to declare themselves, and are ready to open their gates to any one who shall offer to break the yoke under which they have so long groaned. Though the citizens of Egesta, as being your allies, should not have a right to your protection ; yet the glory of Athens ought to engage you to support them. States aggrandize themselves by succouring the oppressed, and not by continuing inactive. In the present state of your affairs,
the only way to dispirit your enemies, and show that you are not afraid of them, will be to harass one nation, to check the progress of another, to keep them all employed, and carry your arms into distant countries. Athens was not formed for ease; and it was not by inactivity that your ancestors raised it to the height at which we now see it. For the rest, what hazards will you run by engaging in the enterprise in question ? If it should be crowned with success, you will then possess yourselves of all Greece; and should it not answer your expectations, your feet wiil give you an opportunity of retiring whenever you please. The Lacedæmonians indeed may make an incursion into our country ; but, besides that it would not be in our power to prevent it, though we should not invade Sicily, we still shall preserve the empire of the sea in spite of them; a circumstance which makes our enemies entirely despair of ever being able to conquer us.
Be not therefore biassed by the arguments of Nicias. The only tendency of them is to sow the seeds of discord between the old and young men, who can do nothing without one another; since it is wisdom and courage, counsel and execution, that give success to all enterprises : and this in which we are going to embark, cannot but turn to your glory and advantage.”
The Athenians, Hattered and pleased with the speech of Alcibiades, persisted in their first opinion. Nicias, on the other side, did not depart from his; but at the same time did not dare to oppose Alcibiades any farther. Nicias was naturally of a soft and timid disposition. He was not, like Pericles, master of that lively and vehement eloquence, which, like a torrent, bears down every thing in its way. And indeed the latter, on several occasions, and at several times, had never failed to check the wild starts of the populace, who, even then, meditated the expedition into Sicily; because he was always inflexible, and never slackened the reins of that authority and kind of sovereignty which he had acquired over the people ; whereas Nicias, both by acting aid speaking in an easy, gentle manner, so far from winning over the people, suffered himself to be forcibly and involuntarily carried away; and accordingly he at last yielded to the people, and accepted the command in a war which he plainly foresaw would be attended with the most fatal consequences.
Plutarch makes this reflection in his excellent treatise, where, speaking of the qualities requisite in a statesman, he shows how very necessary eloquence and irflexible constancy and perseverance are to him.
Nicias, not daring to oppose Alcibiades any longer openly, endeavoured to do i: indirectly, by starting a number of difficulties, drawn especially from the great expense of this expedition. He declared, that since they were resolved upon war, they ought to carry it on in such a manner as might suit the exalted reputation to which Athens had attained: that a fleet was not sufficient to oppose so formidable a power as that of the Syracusans and their allies : that they must raise an army, composed of good horse and foot, if they desired to act in a manner worthy of so grand a design: that besides their feet, which was to make them masters at sea, they must have a great number of transports, to carry provisions perpetually to the army, which otherwise could not possibly subsist in an enemy's country : that they must carry vast sums of money with them, without waiting for that promised them by the citizens of Egesta, who perhaps were ready in words only, and very probably might break their promise: that they ought to weigh and examine the disparity there was between themselves and their enemies with regard to the conveniences and wants of the army; the Syracusans being in their own country, in the midst of powerful allies, disposed by inclination, as well as engaged by interest, to assist them with men, arms, horses, and provisions ; whereas the Athenians would (arry on the war in a remote country possessed by their enemies, where, in the winter, news could not be brought them in less than four months time; a country where all things would oppose the Athenians, and nothing be procured but by force of arms; that it would reflect the greatest ignominy on the Athen
* Plut. in Præc. de Ger. Rep. 802.