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27. While they were in the midst of their preparations, the Hermae or square stone figures carved1 after the ancient Athenian fashion, and standing everywhere at the doorways both of temples and private houses, in one night had nearly all of them throughout the city their faces mutilated. [2] The offenders were not known, but great rewards were publicly offered for their detection, and a decree was passed that any one, whether citizen, stranger, or slave, might without fear of punishment disclose this or any other profanation of which he was cognisant. [3] The Athenians took the matter greatly to heart—it seemed to them ominous of the fate of the expedition; and they ascribed it to conspirators who wanted to effect a revolution and to overthrow the democracy.

1 Meanwhile occurs the outrage on the Hermae: of it are suspected of designs against the democracy.

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