Desiring to heal these evils, and at the same time to inflict some annoyance upon the enemy, he manned a hundred and fifty ships of war, and, after embarking many brave hoplites and horsemen, was on the point of putting out to sea, affording great hope to the citizens, and no less fear to the enemy in consequence of so great a force. But when the ships were already manned, and Pericles had gone aboard his own trireme, it chanced that the sun was eclipsed and darkness came on, and all were thoroughly frightened, looking upon it as a great portent.
Accordingly, seeing that his steersman was timorous and utterly perplexed, Pericles held up his cloak before the man's eyes, and, thus covering them, asked him if he thought it anything dreadful, or portentous of anything dreadful.
‘No,’ said the steersman.
‘How then,’ said Pericles,
‘is yonder event different from this, except that it is something rather larger than my cloak which has caused the obscurity?’ At any rate, this tale is told in the schools of philosophy.
Well, then, on sailing forth, Pericles seems to have accomplished nothing worthy of his preparations, but after laying siege to sacred Epidaurus, which awakened a hope that it might he captured, he had no such good fortune, because of the plague. Its fierce onset destroyed not only the Athenians themselves, but also those who, in any manner soever, had dealings with their forces. The Athenians being exasperated against him on this account, he tried to appease and encourage them.
He did not, however, succeed in allaying their wrath, nor yet in changing their purposes, before they got their hostile ballots into their hands, became masters of his fate, stripped him of his command, and punished him with a fine. The amount of this was fifteen talents, according to those who give the lowest, and fifty, according to those who give the highest figures. The public prosecutor mentioned in the records of the case was Cleon, as Idomeneus says, but according to Theophrastus it was Simmias, and Heracleides Ponticus mentions Lacratides.