A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

28 [LVIII]

FROM THE RESOLUTION OF THE ATHENIANS TO ATTACK SYRACUSE DOWN TO THE FIRST WINTER AFTER THEIR ARRIVAL IN SICILY

FOR the two or three months immediately succeeding the final resolution taken by the Athenians to invade Sicily, the whole city was elate and bustling with preparation. The prophets, circulators of oracles, and other accredited religious advisers, announced generally the favourable dispositions of the gods, and promised a triumphant result. Each man was anxious to put down his own name for personal service; so that the three generals, Nikias, Alkibiadês, and Lamachus, when they proceeded to make their selection of hoplites, instead of being forced to employ constraint or incur ill-will, had only to choose the fittest among a throng of eager volunteers. Every man provided himself with his best arms and with bodily accoutrements for a long voyage and for the exigencies of a varied land and sea-service. Among the trierarchs (or rich citizens who undertook each in his turn the duty of commanding a ship of war) the competition was yet stronger. Each of them accounted it an honour to be named, and vied with his comrades to exhibit his ship in the most finished state of equipment. The state indeed furnished both the trireme with its essential tackle and oars, and the regular pay for the crew; but the trierarch, even in ordinary cases, usually incurred various expenses besides to make the equipment complete and to keep the crew together. Each trierarch tried to procure for his own ship the best crew, by offers of additional reward to all, but especially to the Thranitæ or rowers on the highest of the three tiers. Besides the best crews which Athens herself could furnish, picked seamen were also required from the subject-allies, and were bid for in the same way by the trierarchs.

Such efforts were much facilitated by the fact that five years had now elapsed since the peace of Nikias, without any considerable warlike operations. While the treasury had become replenished with fresh accumulations, 1 and the

1 Thukyd., vi. 26. I do not trust the statement given in Æschinês, De Fals. Legat., c. 54, p. 302, derived from Andokidês, De Pace, § 8, that 7,000 talents were laid by as an accumulated

-725-

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