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For some time past the Athenians had been covetous of Sicily because of the fertility of its land, and so at the moment, gladly accepting the proposals of Gorgias, they voted to send an allied force to the Leontines, offering as their excuse the need and request of their kinsmen, whereas in fact they were eager to get possession of the island. [2] And indeed not many years previously, when the Corinthians and Cercyraeans were at war with one another and both were bent upon getting the Athenians as allies,1 the popular Assembly chose the alliance with the Cercyraeans for the reason that Cercyra was advantageously situated on the sea route to Sicily. [3] For, speaking generally, the Athenians, having won the supremacy of the sea and accomplished great deeds, not only enjoyed the aid of many allies and possessed powerful armaments, but also had taken over a great sum of ready money, since they had transferred from Delos to Athens the funds of the confederacy of the Greeks,2 which amounted to more than ten thousand talents; they also enjoyed the services of great commanders who had stood the test of actual leadership; and by means of all these assets it was their hope not only to defeat the Lacedaemonians but also, after they had won the supremacy over all Greece, to lay hands on Sicily. [4]

These, then, were the reasons why the Athenians voted to give aid to the Leontines, and they sent twenty ships to Sicily and as generals Laches and Charoeades. These sailed to Rhegium, where they added to their force twenty ships from the Rhegians and the other Chalcidian colonists. Making Rhegium their base they first of all overran the islands of the Liparaeans3 because they were allies of the Syracusans, and after this they sailed to Locri,4 where they captured five ships of the Locrians, and then laid siege to the stronghold of Mylae.5 [5] When the neighbouring Sicilian Greeks came to the aid of the Mylaeans, a battle developed in which the Athenians were victorious, slaying more than a thousand men and taking prisoner not less than six hundred; and at once they captured and occupied the stronghold. [6]

While these events were taking place there arrived forty ships which the Athenian people had sent, deciding to push the war more vigorously; the commanders were Eurymedon and Sophocles. When all the triremes were gathered into one place, a fleet of considerable strength had been fitted out, consisting as it did of eighty triremes. [7] But since the war was dragging on, the Leontines entered into negotiations with the Syracusans and came to terms with them. Consequently the Athenian triremes sailed back home, and the Syracusans, granting the Leontines the right of citizenship, made them all Syracusans and their city a stronghold of the Syracusans.

Such were the affairs in Sicily at this time.

1 Cp. chap. 33.

2 The Confederacy of Delos.

3 The group of small volcanic islands west of the toe of Italy; cp. Book 5.7.

4 Epizephyrian Locris on the east shore of the toe of Italy.

5 On the north coast of Sicily west of Messene.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (7):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LEONTI´NI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LI´PARA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LOCRI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MESSA´NA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MYLAE
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), RHE´GIUM
    • Smith's Bio, Charoe'ades
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