These were the words of Nicias. He meant either to deter the Athenians by bringing home1
to them the vastness of the undertaking, or to provide as far as he could for the security of the expedition if he were compelled to proceed.
The result disappointed him. Far from losing their enthusiasm at the disagreeable prospect, they were more determined than ever; they approved of his advice, and were confident that every chance of danger was now removed.
All alike were seized with a passionate desire to sail, the elder among them convinced that they would achieve the conquest of Sicily,—at any rate such an armament could suffer no disaster; the youth were longing to see with their own eyes the marvels of a distant land, and were confident of a safe return; the main body of the troops expected to receive present pay, and to conquer a country which would be an inexhaustible mine of pay for the future.
The enthusiasm of the majority was so overwhelming that, although some disapproved, they were afraid of being thought unpatriotic if they voted on the other side, and therefore held their peace.