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Now since the Leontines had been forced by the Syracusans to leave their city for another place and had thus lost their city and their territory,1 those of them who were living in exile got together and decided once more to take the Athenians, who were their kinsmen, as allies. [2] When they had conferred with the Egestaeans on the matter and come to an agreement, the two cities jointly dispatched ambassadors to Athens, asking the Athenians to come to the aid of their cities, which were victims of ill treatment, and promising to assist the Athenians in establishing order in the affairs of Sicily. [3] When, now, the ambassadors had arrived in Athens, and the Leontines stressed their kinship and the former alliance and the Egestaeans promised to contribute a large sum of money for the war and also to fight as an ally against the Syracusans, the Athenians voted to send some of their foremost men and to investigate the situation on the island and among the Egestaeans. [4] When these men arrived at Egesta, the Egestaeans showed them a great sum of money which they had borrowed partly from their own citizens and partly from neighbouring peoples for the sake of making a good show.2 [5] And when the envoys had returned and reported on the wealth of the Egestaeans, a meeting of the people was convened to consider the matter. When the proposal was introduced to dispatch an expedition to Sicily, Nicias the son of Niceratus, a man who enjoyed the respect of his fellow citizens for his uprightness, counselled against the expedition to Sicily. [6] They were in no position, he declared, at the same time both to carry on a war against the Lacedaemonians and to send great armaments overseas; and so long as they were unable to secure their supremacy over the Greeks, how could they hope to subdue the greatest island in the inhabited world? even the Carthaginians, he added, who possessed a most extensive empire and had waged war many times to gain Sicily, had not been able to subdue the island, and the Athenians, whose military power was far less than that of the Carthaginians, could not possibly win by the spear and acquire the most powerful of the islands.

1 See chaps. 53 f.

2 For this display see Thuc. 6.46.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LEONTI´NI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SEGESTA
    • Smith's Bio, Ni'cias
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.46
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