previous next

He could not carry his point, however, but was ordered to set sail. So he put to sea1 along with his fellow generals, having not much fewer than one hundred and forty triremes; fifty-one hundred men-at-arms; about thirteen hundred archers, slingers, and light-armed folk; and the rest of his equipment to correspond. [2] On reaching Italy and taking Rhegium, he proposed a plan for the conduct of the war.2 Nicias opposed it, but Lamachus approved it, and so he sailed to Sicily. He secured the allegiance of Catana, but accomplished nothing further, since he was presently summoned home by the Athenians to stand his trial.

At first, as I have said,3 sundry vague suspicions and calumnies against Alcibiades were advanced by aliens and slaves. [3] Afterwards, during his absence, his enemies went to work more vigorously. They brought the outrage upon the Hermae and upon the Eleusinian mysteries under one and the same design; both, they said, were fruits of a conspiracy to subvert the government, and so all who were accused of any complicity whatsoever therein were cast into prison without trial. The people were provoked with themselves for not bringing Alcibiades to trial and judgment at the time on such grave charges, [4] and any kinsman or friend or comrade of his who fell foul of their wrath against him, found them exceedingly severe. Thucydides neglected to mention4 the informers by name, but others give their names as Diocleides and Teucer. For instance, Phrynichus the comic poet5 referred to them thus:—

Look out too, dearest Hermes, not to get a fall,
And mar your looks, and so equip with calumny
Another Diocleides bent on wreaking harm.
And the Hermes replies:—
I'm on the watch; there's Teucer, too; I would not give
A prize for tattling to an alien of his guilt.

And yet there was nothing sure or steadfast in the statements of the informers. One of them, indeed, was asked how he recognized the faces of the Hermae-defacers, and replied, ‘By the light of the moon.’ This vitiated his whole story, since there was no moon at all when the deed was done. Sensible men were troubled thereat, but even this did not soften the people's feeling towards the slanderous stories. As they had set out to do in the beginning, so they continued, haling and casting into prison any one who was denounced.

1 About the middle of the summer of 415 B.C.

2 Cf. Plut. Nic. 14.3

3 Plut. Nic. 19.1

4 In Thuc. 6.53.2.

5 Kock, Com. Att. Frag. i. p. 385.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1916)
hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.53.2
    • Plutarch, Nicias, 19.1
    • Plutarch, Nicias, 14.3
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: