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15. Such were the words of Nicias. Most of the Athenians who came forward to speak were in favour of war, and reluctant to rescind the vote which had been already passed, although a few took the other side. [2] The most enthusiastic supporter of the expedition was Alcibiades the son of

Cleinias; he was determined to oppose Nicias, who was always his political enemy and had1 just now spoken of him in disparaging terms; but the desire to command was even a stronger motive with him. He was hoping that he might be the conqueror of Sicily and Carthage; [3] and that success would repair his private fortunes, and gain him money as well as glory. He had a great position among the citizens and was devoted to horse-racing and other pleasures which outran his means. And in the end his wild courses went far to ruin the Athenian state. [4] For the people feared the extremes to which he carried the lawlessness of his personal habits, and the far-reaching purposes which invariably animated him in all his actions. They thought that he was aiming at a tyranny and set themselves against him. And therefore, although his talents as a military commander were unrivalled, they entrusted the administration of the war to others, because they personally objected to his private habits; [5] and so they speedily shipwrecked the state. He now came forward and spoke as follows:—

1 The Athenians refuse to rescind the former vote. The war is strongly advocated by Alcibiades, who wants to gain an empire and to pay his own debts. Thucydides thinks that This his wild courses went far to ruin the state. For not withstanding his extraordinary talents he extraordinary talents he was not trusted, and the conduct of the war was committed to inferior men.

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load focus Notes (Charles F. Smith)
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