The Athenians, they say, put no faith in the first tidings of the calamity, most of all because of the messenger who brought them. A certain stranger, as it would seem, landed at the Piraeus, took a seat in a barber's shop, and began to discourse of what had happened as if the Athenians already knew all about it. The barber, on hearing this, before others learned of it, ran at the top of his speed to the upper city, accosted the archons, and at once set the story going in the market place.
Consternation and confusion reigned, naturally, and the archons convened an assembly and brought the man before it. But, on being asked from whom he had learned the matter, he was unable to give any clear answer, and so it was decided that he was a storymaker, and was trying to throw the city into an uproar. He was therefore fastened to the wheel and racked a long time, until messengers came with the actual facts of the whole disaster. So hard was it for the Athenians to believe that Nicias had suffered the fate which he had often foretold to them.