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The aftermath of the defeat in Sicily

Alcibiades' desertion turned out to cause Athens more trouble after the catastrophic end of the Sicilian expedition in 413. While at Sparta he advised the Spartan commanders to establish a permanent base of operations in the Attic countryside.1 In 413 they acted on his advice. Taking advantage of Athenian weakness in the aftermath of the enormous losses in men and equipment sustained in Sicily, they installed a garrison at Decelea2 in northeastern Attica, in sight of the walls of Athens itself only a few miles distant. Spartan forces could now raid the Athenian countryside year around instead of only for a limited time, as in the earlier years of the war when the annual invasions dispatched from Sparta could never linger longer than forty days in Athenian territory. The presence of the garrison made agricultural work in the fields of Attica too dangerous and forced Athens to rely on food imported by sea even more heavily than in the past. The damage to Athenian fortunes increased3 when twenty thousand slaves owned by the state and who worked in Athens' silver mines4 ran away to seek refuge in the Spartan camp. The loss of these slave miners put a stop to the flow of revenue from the veins of silver ore. So immense was the distress caused by the crisis that an extraordinary change was made in Athenian government: a board of ten officials was appointed to manage the affairs of the city, virtually supplanting the council of five hundred.5

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Laurion (Greece) (1)

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