Early in the next spring the Athenian envoys returned from Sicily. They were accompanied1
by Egestaeans who brought sixty talents2
of uncoined silver, being a3
month's pay for sixty vessels which they hoped to obtain from Athens.
The Athenians called an assembly, and when they heard both from their own and from the Egestaean envoys, amongst other inviting but untrue statements, that there was abundance of money lying ready in the temples and in the treasury of Egesta4
, they passed a vote that sixty ships should be sent to Sicily; Alcibiades the son of Cleinias, Nicias the son of Niceratus, and Lamachus the son of Xenophanes were appointed commanders with full powers. They were to assist Egesta against Selinus; if this did not demand all their military strength they were empowered to restore the Leontines, and generally to further in such manner as they deemed best the Athenian interests in Sicily.
Five days afterwards another assembly was called to consider what steps should be taken for the immediate equipment of the expedition, and to vote any additional supplies which the generals might require.
Nicias, who had been appointed general against his will, thought that the people had come to a wrong conclusion, and that upon slight if specious grounds they were aspiring to the conquest of Sicily, which was no easy task. So, being desirous of diverting the Athenians from their purpose, he came forward and admonished them in the following terms:—