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The Sicilian Expedition Was a Potemkin Fleet Author(s): B. Jordan Source: The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol.

50, No. 1 (2000), pp. 63-79 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Classical Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1558935 . Accessed: 15/08/2013 12:50
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50.1 63-79 (2000)Printed in Great Britain ClassicalQuarterly

63

THE SICILIAN EXPEDITION WAS A POTEMKIN FLEET


The speechesof Nicias and Alcibiadesin the debateleadingup to the launchingof the Sicilianexpedition(Thuc.6.9-14, 6.20-3, 6.16-18) containa significantnumber laterchaptersreporting of words,phrases,and themesthat recurin Thucydides' the launchingof the expeditionand its ultimatefate in Sicily.The verbaland thematic echoes often consistof wordsof sight and hearing; themesare amongthe recurring and rivalryand competition,the contrastbetweenpublicand privateexpenditures, the desirefor acquisitionand financialprofit. and striking The echoesarenumerous intended enoughto suggestthatThucydides links to establish between the speeches and the narrative I proposeto strong chapters. argue that Thucydideswished to expose the Sicilianarmadaas a hollow force.Its glitteringfaqadeconcealedits essentialweakness,in the same way that Potemkin's but non-existing farmhouses concealedthe impoverfacades of prosperous-looking ishedcountryside fromCatherine the Greatduringhertourin 1787. THE SPEECH OF ALCIBIADES thatNicias andThucydides The allegations makeagainstAlcibiades at the end of his in Book 6 mainlyhaveto do with the effectof his first speechat the secondassembly the expeditionfromself-interest privatelife on the state:favouring (-rd avroivpdvov to be at by his fellow citizens because of his marvelled 6.12.2), craving UKorr7WV, and therefore horse-breeding 6.12.2),beinga spendthrift wantingto (;'va Oavkaoc^a^;, make money from high office and the expedition(a'd 7roAvrEAELtav '?EA?)qOf TL, 6.12.2 - rd at the risk of 6.15.2), seekingglamourand admiration a't'ta <WEA-qralt, the state (-rw V 6.12.2), ruiningthe state AEWSKLV8UV) '8a atAL7TrpvEUaOaL, 7TT0s his own property whilespending 6.12.2), and being (srnloaLa'SLtKEV, 'LSlavavAovv, a slaveto passionsforwhichhe cannotpay(6.15.3;cf. the contrast also sortoaL 1Sla-_ at 6.15.4).' Alcibiadesnot only refutesthese allegations, but managesto transform them into acts benefitinghis country.With the chargeof horse-breeding Nicias praiseworthy hands him an openingto his most effectivedefence.It allowshim in one stroketo introduceinto his speech the OlympicGames,the greatestathleticfestivalof the the festivities Greeks;the themeof competition,to whichall Greekswereaddicted; werefamiliar; and the rewards followingan athleticvictory,withwhichthe Athenians from such a victory, which they regardedas most desirable.The picturethat he presentsof himself to the assemblyis that of a competitor.He has enteredmore chariotsat Olympiathan any otherprivateperson,has won a victoryand has been of plays.At the present placed secondand fourth,and has competedas a producer timehe is competing withNiciasforthe command of the expedition. Having appealed to the appetite for competitive spectaclesin his audience, Alcibiadesnext expatiates of privateand publicservice.If he upon the relationship has spent his fortune on race horses, and on making his theoriaand his victory
Redetrias vor der sizilischen Expedition (Meisenheim am Glan, 1977), 101-3.

' Thefrequent occurrence of thepublic-private contrast hasalsobeen noted Die byW.Kohl,

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B. JORDAN

celebrations 6.16.2), he has done so in the interestsof the splendid(rw 8LtarpE7E^, and of any of his otherservices state.The sameis trueof his choregiai to the statefor 6.16.3- JAAaAurpvvEcrOat, whichhe makeshimselfshine 6.12.2).2 The (Aat7rpptvojzat, forwhichhe is decried benefitto the statefromhis activities, 6.16.1),is the (Eirlpor-qdS, of power greaterthan the state appearanceof power. It is in fact an appearance is a which claim by the pleonastic actuallypossesses, heavily emphasized comparative W at 6.16.2: r7TEp pJEL Evoutcrav SUvatLLv (cf. 6UvajtLS U6ovoEti-at;LUcrXUs alvcrat, as a diplomathas also benefitedthe state.Althoughhe is, 6.16.3). His performance he hasmanaged thoseof the statesecondto none affairs, again,decriedfor his private 6.16.6d'SKELV--iSta 8-qota uLEraXEtPI~tWo, rtflodqC0Evos-Ta 7toUtLa (ra 't'Sta 6.12.2 6.15.4). dvaAooiv, 1t'a-iSpoul'a, A man who has spenthis private the chargeof self-interest. Finally,he addresses in return. Thesearehonourfor fortuneto helpthe statemayalso fairlyexpectrewards and for himselfcelebrity both himselfand for his ancestors, (Aarppd'r1qrT TrrpoE~aXv, 6.16.5 - E'AAak7rpv'vEcrat, 6.12.2) and a superiorposition in life, which, although ensuresposthumousfame.3All this is summedup by resentedby contemporaries, a benefitfrom investing Alcibiades'maximthat thereis nothingwrongin receiving one's own money in the state, as long as this benefits the state as well (18otLs doesnot sayexplicitly thatthe personal , 6.16.3).Alcibiades rAEct---rV rd7tvA ,eAV benefit includesmaking the accusationthat he is money,but since this is precisely to financialprofitas well. That this is refuting,thereis no doubt that he is referring what he meansis supported turns by the secondpartof his speech,whereAlcibiades his doctrineof private investment forprivate and publicprofitagainstthe Sicilians, so no one in that as to convincethe assemblyof theirsupposedradicalparticularism: mixed rabblebothersto equip himself with arms and armour(ra rr pEp 7T acupLa theirmoneyin the defenceand economyof their 6.17.3).Insteadof investing o&7Aots, country,the Sicilianshoardit and on the contrarytry to get whatever they can out of the publictreasury. An undertone is in of financial also the gain present passagesof his speechin whichhe advocates the extensionof Athens'empire(6.18.2,6.18.4aT0roL OL KaL tcrvpIpaXOt qEA-rcrUO.LOEa). Alcibiades does his bestto claimdisinterested buthe cannothidethe statesmanship, thatin his actionsas a statesman he was guidedto fact, acknowledged by Thucydides, a considerable extentby his own interests.4 The assemblymen, his however, disregard special pleading, for they are impressedby his words about financialgain. They his remarks as a call to conquestand enrichment: most civilians and soldiers interpret to make and for in incomes the future money immediately, hope expect permanent fromtheirnewpossessions. Theirgreedis so greatthatno opponentof the expedition
dares to vote no (6.24.3-4; lyav

mentionedat least fourtimes:6.13.1,6.15.2-4).5The oldermembers of the assembly hope for successor at least for a safe returnof the force,the youngerlong to see new
2 C. Macleod, 'Rhetoric and history', Collected Essays (Oxford, 1983), 71 also points out the echo. 3 The theme of competition and rivalry is amplified by a large number of comparatives and superlatives or their equivalents in Nicias' and Thucydides' characterizationof Alcibiades, and in Alcibiades' speech, which contain at least thirty-two such expressions. Cf. Kohl (n. 1), 102. 4 Macleod (n. 2), 72. 5 For the greed of the Athenians, see M. I. Finley, 'The fifth-century Athenian Empire, a balance-sheet', in P. Garnsey and C. Whittaker (edd.), Imperialismin the Ancient World(Cambridge, 1978), 103; id., Ancient History: Evidenceand Models (London, 1985), 77; D. Kagan, The

r7tvpulav;

cf. Alcibiades' irLrvtulda which has been

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THE SICILIAN EXPEDITION WAS A POTEMKIN FLEET

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sights (6.24.3). The generationgap createdby Nicias (6.13.1) and deprecatedby Alcibiades unlikethe Sicilians, areunitedfor war. (6.18.6)is closed,and all Athenians, THE RESPONSE IN THE HARBOURTO ALCIBIADES OF THE PEOPLE The spectaclethat Alcibiadeshad evokedwith the mentionof his Olympictheoriais in the chaptersdescribing the embarkation and departure of the armada. replicated The crowdsfrom the city gather in the harbouras do the multitudesat Olympia c 6dvEL, KadT O&av,6.31.1), (6.30.2-3). They have come to watch a spectacle (co&pwv, and they see competition,both figurativeand literal,on all sides. Competitionis of the armadawith its predecessors, whichit surpasses in impliedin the comparison costliness and looks (6.31.1-3), and with its intendedadversariesto whom it is the superior(6.31.6).Thereis competitionbetweenits variousconstituentmembers: trierarchs competewith each other to havethe best-lookingand fastest-sailing ship
6.31.3), and the soldiers compete with one another for the best equipment (7rps JAAnAovu~ J~uAAl v, 6.31.3). Following the Olympic victor's at station competes with everybody else (iptv everyone duty every example, yEVErOaL,
(raxvvavruEv,

6.31.4). The spectacle ends with an actual athletic competition,the ship race to

Aegina (pu1AAavdrotoi'vro, 6.32.2). It is reminiscent of the regattas with triremes

which were one of the events of the Isthmian games, which Athenian theoriai attended.6 Twospectacular regularly racingevents,one with chariots,the otherwith of frame the theme warships, competitionintroduced by Alcibiades' victoryin the Olympicgames. The spectatorsalso observea fleet which,like Alcibiades, is a marvelto behold standsout in beauty theoria, verygood-lookingand eachof its ships,likehis Olympic 6.31.2-3 - r^ 8tarpE7ti, 6.16.2; rrpodE'e, udALta-ra E.7rpE7la,
6.31.6 (OdlpELt,Aa/Li-pdrp-rt, - I'va 6.16.5). It is also 0avuaaljj^, 6.12.2; AaLprrpdrrplt,

(E1rrpE7rnardrq, Aajluipdir-q- rpoauxov, 6.16.5). Because of its daring and splendour the fleet is cried about, famous, 7rEptPo-grsr (6.31.6). The word echoes Alcibiades' irlpo-g-rd = notorious; but since notflo~rIds also has the meaning 'to call upon someone (including

gods) for help',7both adjectives may be heardin a good sense,so that the echo of

in Alcibiades' deliberate-Alcibiades can be calledupon to speechis almostcertainly his An allusion to his service in to the state fact roundsout the visual help country. aspect:just as his actions have given an impressionof Athenianpower to other of this powerto the Greeks,so also the Sicilianexpeditionis a show and portrayal Hellenes (7r36EL8Lr 6.31.1 6.31.4; cf. A V7Tp dpor, Svatvw CLztLV W 6vvd/Ewsg,
aXv Alcibiades and Convinced by following his example of privateinvestmentfor privateand publicprofit,the Athenianshaveinvested heavilyin the expedition,from whichmanyof themexpectto receivea financialreturn. The description of the fleet whichacts as a frame:the Athenians beginsand ends with the themeof acquisition have come to the Piraeus in the hope of gain (pEir' %gv oS KKT77OLVT1O, rda YE?Ao6ols
Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (Ithaca, NY and London, 1981), 283; S. Hornblower, Thucydides(Baltimore, 1987), 173. 6 Thuc. 8.10.1. For regattas with triremes at the Isthmian games, see B. Jordan, The Athenian Navy in the Classical Period (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1975), 154-5, 162. 7 LSJ s.v. i-rrflodiw. 8 The contrasts 'Hellenes-Athenians' and 'foreign-native' are another link between Alcibiades' speech and the departure scene; 6.16.2, 6.16.3 ~ 6.30.1, 6.31.4. vTovoEtiratc;

7rrEpL3o-rosis closer than might appear at first sight. The double meaning of the word

6.16.2-3).8 ?atvETraq,

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resources theirpresent P7T Jv LE AA6v p-WV rd radpxovIra, (rd T/tLEyrT JA7r' are 6.24.3: the 6.31.6;cf. assemblymen E'AknTLEs... rrpoarKTr-aEUGaL SUvaptV80EV saidof Alcibiades, whohopes t86Lov tLaOocopdv a6rdpEtLv, and6.15.2-3, [5Anlrtwv] the satisfaction of his passions exceeds his nrrdpxovaav to makemoneybecause oviuiav). from6.31.1to 6.31.5retails thepublic andprivate Thenarrative for expenditures Thestate hasadopted Alcibiades' in organizing anarmada theexpedition. oAUvrIAEta Ithasspent fortheships, thehyperesiai, andthe thatis roAvvrEAEUcdr`(6.31.1). heavily Thetrierarchs thewages from their ownpocket; funds supplement theyalso (6.31.5). andotherfittings of theirships(ToAvrEAEL, pennants pay for the veryexpensive Thehoplites, andtakemoney the (6.31.5). 6.31.3), alongforfuture expenses rejecting who according to Alcibiades are unwilling of the Sicilians, to arm bad example the best armsand armour at theirownexpense areeagerto procure themselves, I E T 6.31.3 7Ta 6.17.3). TEpt pt KaL r rdo aowa ro7TAot, ('r7Awv TWjV woLtoaUKEUwV, or military whether man,takes person money alongfortravelling Everybody, private in addition to the wagepaid by the state.The cumulation of phrases expenses versus in the is the contrast remarkable: private expense expressing public passage r^S rrO7Ews cVLwaWLV 6floaav, IoV UIpaIEUOpLEVWoV tav, -r7s 7AEwrs o" aa r7eV
Kat EJ`EAEV IcoV j o ca Kat IptlTpaPXoS vCoV'7AKElt J'VaAw'dEtLV, 7TPOETEEAEKElt, tStLoTV To from VK theemphasis on (6.31.4-5). judge placed aVEU70t TOO 8g)[Looiou

with 6.30.2),andthe fleetleavesportwiththe highesthopesfor thefutureas compared

sailors' wages (pLEydatrLs 6.31.3), and has providedthe generalswith Sav&dvats,

as great it would seemthatit wasnearly as thepublic. Thelarge private expenditure Athens areevidence forthesuperabundance of money of Athenian amounts leaving which thewarriors wealth symbolized bythegoldandsilver (6.31.4), cupsfrom pour Almost we libations before hear that soldiers, sailors, leaving port(6.32.1). incidentally alsotakemoney forthepurpose andmerchants overseas of trading along (6.31.5). By the end of chapter 31 the military has virtually a commercial become expedition than andinfactmore weseethat forat6.44.1 not that, venture, non-combatants, many for merchants and so on, builders, millers, looking profit,but also masons, only the fleetin manycargoships. Theexpedition, as another voluntarily accompanied hasobserved, to a large-scale writer amounted effort to plantan Athenian in colony it was,in effect, a 'cityonthemove'.9 Sicily; THESPEECHES OFNICIAS on the matter Nicias'remarks of expenditure and the use of publicandprivate aretheexactopposite of Alcibiades'. theavarice andpenury of the money Knowing Athenians will who to if have the (6.8.1,6.19.2,6.24.1), pay theyapprove projected Niciasin hisfirstspeech to theirparsimony themthat campaign, appeals by telling whoarecareful withtheirownproperty is not)willalsolook people (as Alcibiades out fortheinterests andproperty of thestate(6.9.2). in otherwords, Niciashopes, thathis countrymen willvotedowntheexpedition because it willcostthemmoney. As a further inducement to theAthenians notto go to Sicily herecommends thatthe of 421bespent funds accumulated aftertheplague andthepeace at homefor public
theirown benefit(6.12.1).The restof his advicein this speechis negative; he counsels he does not mentionrewards of honourand only whatnot to do. UnlikeAlcibiades,
in Thucydides' 'Themes accountof the Sicilian Hermes101(1973), expedition', 9 H. C. Avery, 8-11.

/ltoOoO

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THE SICILIANEXPEDITION WAS A POTEMKIN FLEET

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superior standing, and promises no personal enrichment. Refusing to speak against his conviction for self-serving reasons, he advises the assemblymen not to risk what rot, they have (ard 6.9.3) for the sake of things unseen and i'irdpxovra, roEWOLOtsr, in warns the and them future, lying against falling in fatal love with distant gain He caps this advice with the maxim 'greed 6.13.1). (38vpwras rJv dlnrVw7wv, achieves least, foresight most', a pointed reference to Alcibiades' Em7LOV/~[a (6.13.1, 6.15.2-4). In his second speech Nicias again raises the stakes by requesting a fleet whose component of infantry troops is not merely ordinary (bavAos,6.21.2), but large enough to deal with the enemy cavalry.If this force is to be adequate for its task, which is to win the war at the first assault, it must consist of an adequate number of Athenian, as opposed to allied or mercenary, forces (ao 8Ltavolas, acrLOEv 7rt7S 6.10.2),10and it must have large 7TapaaKEVOdypEq, 6.21.1-2 ~ -oLdXPE? 8vvd/LEL, amounts of money (6.22). He ends his second speech with an assurance of safety and

whichhe makesdependon wisecounsel,good luck,and,aboveall, a safe,that security is to say a large,army(6.23.3,6.24.1). THE RESPONSE TO NICIASIN THE ASSEMBLY AND IN THE HARBOUR The assemblymenaccept only what they want to hear from Nicias, which is the possible.The assemblymen ignorecompletelythe conditionswith whichNicias had
hedged his assurance; their ears register only what they want to hear: great safety aLar&at, 6.24.2). The rest of Nicias' advice they reject with striking doqJAEd (rroAA)i variations on Nicias' vivid phrase, in fatal love with what is out of reach (8varEpwTas which is still ringing in their ears and echoing in their minds: the love Trjv d7TrrvWv), of sailing out possessed all of them Tad EK7TAEVcraL, 6.24.3). 70rTOLg E'VETE While the older men hope for success ('pwso or at least to save the armada, the younger have a longing for the sights and vistas of a distant land (7TdOw 0EWS KaL O'Ewp'as 7qiS but the assemblymen drror-aqs,6.24.3). Nicias has warned them against FrtOvl[a, Their desire is so desire the voyage anyway (v E'rt7vyFov 70o rTAo03, 6.24.2). excessive (&yav mrrtOvl[a, that the 6.24.2) opponents of the expedition, rejecting yet qualified promise of safety in Sicily. They accept it because it makes the expedition

another of Nicias' admonitions,not to be ashamedof seemingto be cowardsby voting against it (6.13.1), do exactly the opposite:they remainsilent from fear of seemingcowards(6.24.4). and otherGreeksin the harbour havein the mainfollowed Althoughthe Athenians Alcibiades' call to spendand investin the expedition, theyhavealso followedsome of Nicias' recommendations. The armadais a sufficientlyequippedenterprise, and is
the opposite of ordinary (E'r' d4LoXPEWv taLvoLav,6.31.1 'OLdXPEW, rapaaKEv As far as the spec6.21.2; 7rapaaKEv- `adAx,6.31.3 ~ aiAov arpatuis, 6.21.1).11 means'fromAthensitself' (as opposedto 'fromthe allies'or elsewhere) is 0 That aVrdOEv demonstrated 6.26.2:Es -rob7s by 6.25.2:-roeor1tWV ad'rO'EvKa EK Kpg-r7qS; TWrv avkdXov = 'actually 6.22: from KaTaOyOUS 8E Ka a;EvTE UCTrov Kat aoTO E7TOLOV70, E7ZE/OV7ZOV rOv aEVa Atticaitself', so Dover in HCTad loc. Cf. 6.22:Xpm'ka-ra and the scholiast(Hude)on aT-r60Ev, 6.21.2:EK roJ 77tkE-'pov 7d7OUV. " J. Classenand J. Steup(Berlin,1963)ad loc. translate thesewords'ein gewaltiges Untera meaning whichtheyapparently inferfromthe seemingly nehmen','an immense undertaking', means'counterbalancing a need';here stupendous mightof the expedition. basically dsL6'XPEWS it echoesNicias'wordand hasits regular meaning 'adequate'.

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B. JORDAN

Nicias'demandat 6.21.1for a largeforceof Athenians tatorsareconcerned, has also beenmet:the armadais sailingwith the armedmightof one Greekstate,i.e. Athens;
no allied troops or ships are mentioned at 6.31.3 (aig
SvvdtEws,, Again, Nicias' argumentfor taking along as much money as possiblefrom Athens hasbeen (6.22),whichhe makesagainsthis truebeliefin orderto aborttheexpedition, manytalentsin all arebeingtakenfromAthens(6.31.5). respected: 1rdAEwsg

6.31.1).

MANNEROF REPORTING THUCYDIDES' THE ATHENIANS' REACTION A remarkable feature of the narrativereportingthe fleet's departureis its visual a spectacle, as at Olympia, or a scene,as in the theatre, represent aspect.The chapters in which the civiliansare the spectators and the militarythe actors.The spectacleis the gathering of the crowdfromthe city in the harbour, full of actionand movement: the hustle and bustle of embarkation, the motions of the variouscompetitors, the mixing of the wine followedby the pouringof libations,the ships putting to sea
and beginning the race. Ignoring Nicias v, 6.10.2) and following ltuw (rauvXa40vwov Alcibiades (el 71"avXaot0iLEV , 6.18.2, 6.18.4; cf. rv7TE, TErptLdv7TES vxiav 7.7Vv the Athenians do not rest. The vividness of the spectacle is 6.24.4, -oCrvXiav 7,yEv) of visualwordssuchas increased the use and and of

by

beauty,brilliance, gold

silver,

:K7Tov7qOEv, item and take Quitestrikingis the pictureof the peoplewho inspecteach particular

some emotionally charged, semi-poetic words (&dAoqvp'0~s ,

difiogs).12

courage at the sight of it (T7o 'rAi00os

the acousticarecombinedin the religiousceremony at the end of the scenewhenthe herald'strumpetsilencesthe lamentations and other noises of the crowd,and the joined by the civilians,say their prayersand sing the paean departing warriors, (6.32.2). The visual impressionsare intensifiedby the elaborateformal structureof the whole.Relatively shortand simpleclauses(6.30.1,6.31.1,6.31.4)alternate withlonger and more complexperiods(6.30.2, 6.31.2) impartingan extraordinary rhythmand the mainbodyof whichconsistsof two enormous sonorityto the narrative, periodsof formsa diminuendo the second,beginning withEL clauses; expressed by participial ydp (6.31.5), to the contraryis a crescendoconsisting of a series of 7ts ,~AoylaraTo subordinate clausescompressed into a vastconditional period.13 The Athenians reactto the speeches of the two demagogues in two different venues and by two different meansof senseperception: hearingand sight. In the assembly in thePiraeus to whattheyseeunfolding before theyreactto whattheyhave just heard; their eyes. In both places their perceptionsare colouredby the statementsof the that havemadethe strongest on theirminds.Thucydides speakers impression reports the assemblymen's theiremotions negativeresponseto Nicias with wordsdescribing and subjectivethoughts:the Athenians desire,love, long, hope, and fear. In the harbourthey see the sight mainlyas refracted It is throughthe eyes of Alcibiades. Alcibiadeswho has mouldedtheirthoughtsto his own wishesin his speech,and it is the imagesthat he has calledup that float beforetheireyes. Heretoo, as in chapter
"2 The use of OdiBcos is especially effective; used only here by Thucydides, it conveys in Homer the paralysis caused by amazement and surprise:II. 4.79, Od. 3.372. "3 0. Regenbogen, 'Drei Thukydidesinterpretationen',in H. Herter (ed.), Thukydides(Darmstadt, 1968), 10-17, with a full analysis of the formal structureof the periods in 6.31.

dv "Wdpwv, 6.31.1). The visual and EKaCrTTWv

unparalleled weight and power. The first, beginning with 7t pLEv vaVTLKdO (6.31.3),

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andothermentalprocesses of theAtheniansfind reflexes, 6.24, the subjective feelings, and fear,are encouraged, disbelieve, compare, people.14They hope,lament,consider,

witha tension created inthemoodof the inclauses packed bygreat swings expression of theexpedition's assessment Their is expressed areamazed. subjective power gramcome to see what in their minds is a sufficient the crowd has andincredible matically: With ' LOXpOXEWV W 7Tdc theydpin KaL rrtaLrov (6.31.2). enterprise, (oiV0uav) 8&6voav theexplanation believe to be clause thearmada the following begins whythepeople The otherlongperiod and incredible. sufficient whythe fleetis morea explaining with EL' force,beginning displayof powerand wealththanan invasion ydp rsT tojudge from is alsoa subjective itsconditional form assessment, (6.31.5), AoylaaTro than in in more elsewhere his these andgeneral work, Perhaps Thucydides vagueness. of thedramatist's of creating whoexpress avails himself characters technique chapters which in a dialogue, anda chorus to the protagonists with theirthoughts responds andverbal echoes from their thematic speeches. of the departure sceneexplains somevery Thesubjective, impressionistic quality is first thestrange of theexpedition in it.There of 430under oddfeatures comparison andHagnon withtheSicilian thecommand of Pericles More are numbers (6.31.2-3). 100ships, 300knights, thanforthe latter: and 4,000hoplites, givenfor the former Forthe Sicilian armada arejust two,both the exactnumbers manyalliedtroops. to the fleet:100Athenian shipsanda dailywageof one pertaining significantly drachma forthesailors, numbers thata great were to knowfrom many people likely in the navy. No hoplites, and allies are mentioned forthe theirpastservice knights, of the twoexpeditions is incomplete andtherefore so thatthe comparison armada, is Nicias' Thereason forthevagueness insistence on a purely apparently quitevague. T in the minds thisis nowpredominant force(aU Arr"Ews, of the Athenian 6.31.1); who also remembered the sizeandcomposition of the largeexpedition onlookers In anycase, to thecrowd thetwoforces under to beequal. Nordoes Pericles.'5 appear knowthe amount of money Athens. surmise that it is great the crowd leaving They lavished on decorating thefleet,andfrom from what sums what theysee,i.e.thelarge i.e. Alcibiades' callforprivate andNicias' demand for investment, theyhaveheard, much from rather thanfrom theonlookers do substance, money. Judging impressions, notbother to askthemselves or anyone elsejusthowmuch thefleethasbeen money nordo theywonder what makes fora 'sufficient' force. given, exactly military Finally there is thevery curious as a contrast to the of statement, put expedition 430,thatthe and elaborately armada is 'ornamented fittedout in both its navaland infantry of 430alsowasmade Buttheexpedition andinfantry, and contingents'. up of ships is anisland, benecessary since it should to point outthepresence of ships. Sicily hardly In allof thisThucydides seems to be delving intothepsychology of themasses: with forextraordinarily and in Nicias' demand sea land forces their ears, powerful ringing the Atheniansseem to imagine,somewhat naively,that this beauteousbut conventional forcecomposed of landand sea contingents is somehow the extradouble hadwarned wasnecessary. ordinary bylandandseathatNicias expedition The realitybehindthe impressionism, is that, carried however, awayby the of from a master rhetorician and an victor promises personal optimistic gain Olympic
to boot, the Athenians havebecomethe willingdupesof Alcibiades.

14

Ibid., 12.

'5 Perhaps because Alcibiades had alluded to his policy; so Dover (n. 10), 254-5.

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AND THE ARMADA SELF-EVALUATION ALCIBIADES' The discussion above shows that the departurechapters (6.30-2) contain more verbalechoes from Alcibiades'speechthan they do from Nicias'. The themesthat With the frequencyof the corAlcibiades strikesin his speech also predominate. is evidentlydrivinghome the point, albeit obliquely, hereThucydides respondences that the Sicilian expedition was conceived, organized,equipped, and sent on its its chief advocateand the victorin way mainlyin the spiritand imageof Alcibiades, view of the Sicilians,not Nicias', that prevailed in the the debate.It was Alcibiades' be extended to armada as This to the well: it may apply judgement assembly.16 the perceptions, aims,values,and ambitionsof Alcibiades. represented Alcibiades' Thereis yet anotherlink between the firstpartof it speech,specifically of visual and auralwordsand expressions. (6.16), and the armada:the prominence himselfas othersperceive Alcibiades the him,just as Thucydides represents represents see it. WhatAlcibiades tellsthe assembly arethe impressions armadaas the spectators that othershaveformedof him and of his actions.The kindof honourthat he seeks existsin the eyes of the world.Forhim for himselfand for his ancestors by definition his worth is the worth that others see in him; the word that he uses is s80oa, 'the opinion which others have of one'.17If he is 'cried about', it is others who do the glamourof his personand of his theoriaare what others the crying.Likewise, He tellsthe assembly in the samewaythatthey observethe sporting observe, events.18 whatotherpeoplethinkof thosewho standout by virtueof theirpre-eminent position find them in life, meaninghimself:fellow citizensenvy them, their contemporaries obnoxious, their equals find them still more so. However,posterityboasts about themas benefactors and as kinsmen, evenif no suchkinshipexists. them,and regards Withthis last phraseAlcibiades himselfto the rankof a hero,from maybe elevating whomlatermenwill claima descentthatdoes not exist,19but his remark also reminds the readerthat he spendsmoney that he does not have(6.12.2,6.15.3), and that he of powerthat does not exist (6.16.2):non-existing createsan appearance money is to create power. spent non-existing In sum, Alcibiades gives the assemblyhis own subjectiveassessmentof how others perceivehim and his deeds; he gives them an interpretation of an interwith appearances ratherthan pretation.His discoursedeals mainlywith externals, substance.As Macleod observes,Alcibiadesuses wordsthat denote impressions as opposed to facts: 'he expects resultsfrom the mere fact that Nicias is "evidently
16 Dover (n. 10), 296. Cf. Hornblower (n. 5), 66-77, who adds that Nicias also prevails in a way, because the Athenians voted to send a much largerforce than they had envisaged. But it is worth pointing out that Nicias argues only for a large and adequate force, using no comparatives. In the absence of concrete numbers and comparisons it is impossible to say how large a force the Athenians envisaged; the 100 ships and 5,000 hoplites that Nicias proposed (6.25.3) evidently did not strike them as very large, for they approved them immediately (6.26.1). 17 LSJ s.v. 866a III. 18 The utility to the state of victories in chariot races seems to have been a topic of discussion in the fourth century. The wealthy defendant in Lysias 19.63-4 pleads that his father's victories have brought honour to the state (not to his father or his other forebears, in contrast to Alcibiades). In the view of Xenophon (again in contrast to Alcibiades) the state is not honoured if one single person breeds and enters in the races more teams than the rest of the Hellenes; it is honoured if very many citizens of one state can do so, for this testifies to the state's prosperity (Hiero 11.5). According to Plutarch, Agesilaos persuaded his sister to enter a chariot race at Olympia, because he wanted to demonstrate that this sort of thing was no sign of excellence, but only of having money and being able to squander it (Moralia 212b). '9 Cf. Dover (n. 10), 248.

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successful" and that Athens "will be seen" to sail against Sicily'. Alcibiades 'deals above all in semblances, and his attempt to show that they are something more only rams home this judgement'.20 THE QUALITY OF THE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE A representation of the reflections, reactions, and emotions of a people facing a fateful moment in their history comes under the legitimate purview of the historian. Thucydides does something similar in his narrative of the last battle at Syracuse (see below). But there are some strong hints that he wants to say something else, namely to cast doubt on the quality of the Sicilian expedition. To take some of the more obvious hints first, it inspires no great confidence in the enterprise when the phrase gold and silver cups, the KwrrcpLaTra Xpvad KaL apyvpdL, from which the troops pour libations before the fleet sails (6.32.1), is used again of the gold and silver cups, K7TrrpaTa pvUaG Kaia pyvpdi, with which Egesta led the Athenians to expect money that did not exist (6.46.3). Next there are the double meanings. To the observers, the enterprise is surpassing belief, mTLUTro (6.31.1). But the word also means 'unreliable,not to be trusted'. The expedition is said to be famous, because of its daring, (6.31.6). But the former word may also 7rrFpLBdqTros, T-'AArkL the latter can mean 'recklessness'.21 The mean 'notorious, scandalous', while best-looking force, Evr7rpE7r?n ardrTq (6.31.1), may also be 'the most specious'; this is actually the more common meaning of the word in Thucydides.22 ovala (6.31.4), which seems to refer to Athens' abundance of wealth, is joined with ;flpt in some other passages, where it means 'licence', or 'arrogance'.23With these meanings the expedition becomes an unreliable enterprise that is notorious for its recklessness and arrogant in its aim, and a fleet whose appearance of beauty is deceptive. There is in any case, as any number of historical examples can show, no logical connection between the handsome appearance of a military formation and its fighting power and battle efficiency, any more than there is between the brilliance of Alcibiades' deeds and the power of Athens.24His boast, moreover, that his doings make Athenian power appear greater than it actually is, is a dangerous and often fatal proposition. The intelligent and prudent doctrine, set out by the successful field commander Brasidas, holds the exact opposite: an enemy becomes dangerous only if he is stronger than he appears to be (4.126.4). Yet the strength of the armada, like the arguments of Alcibiades, is mostly semblance, a facade. To the multitude of Greeks at the piers the departing fleet is more a show and demonstration of power and resources than an expedition sailing against an enemy, an impression they have formed from its cost. Nevertheless they believe that the
rTOVOEdTaL, Cf. LSJs.v.amtUros~, dAa. 7TEPLgrIp-roS~ r 22 Thuc. 1.37.4,1.39.2,3.38.4,3.82.2,3.82.8,4.86.6,6.8.4,8.66.1. 23 For the meaning of E'ovalasee Classenand Steup(n. 11)ad loc. who followthe scholiast; Thuc. 1.38.6,3.45.5;LSJs.v.1.2. 24 See,forexample, R. K. Massie, (NewYork,1992),395-400on themagnificent Dreadnought of the shipsin the Victorian appearance RoyalNavy.In the yearsbeforethe turnof the century with the spick-and-span smartness of theirships,with burnishing of captainswerepreoccupied a commander's guns andgleaming hinges.Therewasa cultof paintandbrightwork; shipwasto be as beautiful as his person.Ammunition waspainted blue,gold,andwhiteand thencouldnot be got into the barrel.Handsomeappearance was everything, gunneryand its practicewere of Alexandria in 1881the Englishships fired3,000 ignored.As a result,in the bombardment roundsat the Egyptian forts,butmadeonlyten hits. 20 21

the'tell-tale words' Macleod (n.2),73,whoquotes 8OKEd, 866OLEV,

Ev6`tUTaav.

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as forits is equallyfamousfor its amazingdaringand splendid appearance expedition overthe Sicilians But thisbeliefhas already beenundermined in (6.31.6).25 superiority The Sicilianexpedition the very same chapter. may havebeen the costliestand most the splendidto sailout of 'a singleGreekcity',butin size,the pointthatreallymatters, force sailing from this single city was not even as large as that of 430, as the in 6.31.2-3 shows.It certainly consisted of both shipsandinfantry, butso comparison with nearerobjectives. did the expeditionof 430 whichsailedon a shortercampaign The state may havegone to greatexpensein payinga wage of one drachmato the the going rate,and certainly was no more than the sailors,but this was apparently at the expenseof the state,but the The shipswereprovided moneygivenby Egesta.26 state always providedthe hulls and their gear.27 On this occasion, moreover,the trierarchsreceivedempty ships from the state (i.e. ships without crews),the only Whilethe hopliteswereselected fromsuperior muster instanceof thisin Thucydides.28 of greaturgency rolls,the 700 marineswerethetes(6.43).But in othercircumstances hoplites from the cataloguecould be compelledto serve as marines(8.24.2). The the realitya sizeable of an inferiortype of number hereis pickedfighters, appearance the on board ships.29 hoplite In the debate in the assemblya kind of bidding contest takes place in which Nicias.It is Niciaswho asksfor a strongdomesticforceof ships underbids Alcibiades and of hoplitesfromAthensitself,av'rdOEv (6.21.2,6.22, 6.23.1, 6.25.2),and it is he on the otherhand,nevermentionsnumbers. Instead who namesnumbers. Alcibiades, of the Athenians with his idea of investment he appealsto the cupidityand rapacity as papertigersby delibthe Siciliansand the Peloponnesians for profit,and portrays the strength andminimizing the threatfromthe of the former eratelyunderestimating in his speechhavebeendescribed as exaggerated latter(6.17.8).Thevariousassertions but the outrightmisrepresentations and contradictions or not entirelytrustworthy,30 in the among them are so many and so blatant that they amount to fraudulence have as for Some been instance his claims about overlooked, aggregate. contradictory the Sicilianhoplites;he says in virtuallythe same breaththat no Sicilianbothersto and that the Siciliansdo not have as many providehimself with hopliteequipment
25 Cf. Hornblower of Athenianresources at the (n. 5), 148: 'the splendourand arrogance of Book 6 is brought out by vaguesuperlatives rather thanthe precise enumeration of beginning morenormalmethod'. detail,whichis Thucydides' 26 Thuc.6.8.1;Dover(n. 10),28, 293. 27 Jordan (n. 6), 41-6. 28 When the need arose,the Athenians could resortto conscription to providenavalcrews; has several instances of wholesale Jordan Thucydides conscription, (n. 6), 225-6. V.Gabrielsen, Fleet (Baltimore,1994), 106-8 underestimates the frequency of conFinancingthe Athenian eventhoughhe listsa host of passages in a footnote(p.248). scription fromThuc.8.24.2thatthemarines werenormally thetes. Butin 29 Dover(n. 10),310concludes thatcaseThucydides neednot havespecified thatthe marines on thisoccasionwerethetes. There in Thucydides and elsewhere is otherevidence werenormally showingthatthe marines hoplites, e.g. Thuc.3.95.2~ 3.98.4.Cf.Jordan (n. 6), 195-200. andSteup(n. 11),48; H. D. Westlake, Inividuals in 30 Forexample by Kohl(n. 1), 102;Classen 1968),221; Kagan (n. 5), 182. Dover (n. 10) recognizesAlcibiades' Thucydides (Cambridge, untruths for what they are, e.g. his calling Argos and Mantineia'the most powerfulPelostates'(248),his claimto successful of the Spartans ponnesian diplomacy (249),his descriptions as discouraged afterthebattleof Mantineia, of the Sicilians as a 'disorganized rabble' (250),and of Athensand Sparta in thePersian as enemies wars(252-3),butminimizes someothers;see the next note. Hornblower(n. 5), 57, 63, is more to the point; he speaksof Alcibiades''tinsel his 'egoismandmisleading andthe speciousness andfloridexpression of his phrases', optimism, speech'.

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hoplitesas theyboastof (6.17.3,17.5).Thismeansthattheyhadsome,andsomeis not none.31 Two of Alcibiades'misleadingassertionslead him into anotheregregious were discouraged self-contradiction. If, as he says, the Peloponnesians (6.16.6) and a disorganized mob (6.17.3-5),theycould neverso hopeless(6.17.8),and the Sicilians the prospectthat he hardlyjoin forcesin an attack on Athens.Yet this is precisely the Athenians into a pre-emptive in order to the to launching frighten assembly paints attack against Sicily (6.18.1-3).32 The Siciliansmay or may not havebeen a mixed of commonactionagainstan external thattheyareincapable but his assertion rabble; of Gela,whichin effectejectedan Athen(6.17.3)is beliedby the Congress aggressor ian army from Sicily in 424; the same assemblylistening to Alcibiades in 415 it (4.65).The essentialfraudulence of afterwards punishedthe generalscommanding his speech, in which he also calls the temporarytruce a period of peace (6.18.4),
seems to suggest that the entire raisonnementof the Sicilian expedition was based on

The echoes from spuriousfacts, distortionsof reality,deception,and self-deception.


ALV Alcibiades' speech (V5"ip &~vaCLLv ~vdLacav, SuvataLS70rovoEaL-t, doE4W -nVtv

of thearmada seemto be saying thatits 6.16.2-3) in thedescription laxbs calvETraL, wasalsodeceptive strength apparent (J'TTIEL6LV tUaiAAov 8UVaVfkLEWS, EKatIvcaL 7T7
whatThucydides wantsthe readerto con6.31.4). That this appearsto be precisely that one cannotjudgepower cludeis shownby his trueopinion,expressed elsewhere, use of the carrot,i.e. self-aggrandizement, Alcibiades' shrewd and fromappearances.33 in persuading a credulous the stick,i.e. fearof fallinginto enemyhands,thussucceeds to proceed to its destruction. and easilyswayed peopleto allowthe expedition and greed34 had led the Atheniansto believethe A combination of theircredulity andto ignoreNicias'warning thatEgestawouldfinancetheexpedition, not assurances to trust such promises. The question of money was then also pre-emptedby for profit.As a result,therewasno giveand takein Alcibiades' doctrineof investment the debate about the exact amountsnecessaryto fund the expedition,apart from that it mustsail with as muchmoneyas possible(6.22).Despitethe Nicias'insistence wasthatthe armada was Athens,the reality largeamountsof moneysaidto be leaving Whentheyarrived in Sicilythe generals underfunded. foundthemselves short seriously of money;only thirtytalentswereavailable at Egesta(6.46).Thucydides is quiteclear that each of the different plans of action proposedby Nicias, Alcibiades,and for maintaining Lamachus(6.47-49), aimedat findingresources the force:to extract for the or at least to the from whole collect Egesta army, money sixty talentsEgesta had promised; to make allies of the Sicilians, who would then help with troopsand and to captureenoughSyracusan with whichto feed the army. provisions, property These proposalsleaveno doubt thatlack of moneywas the mainproblem facingthe Afterthe recallof Alcibiades, Niciasand Lamachus continued to deal commanders.35 with this problem; they sailedto Egestain searchof the moneythereand wereforced to wastetime and effortin transporting and sellingthe enslaved for whom Hyccarans

31 Alcibiades also saysthat the Greekstatesraisedadequate of hoplitesonly during number the Peloponnesian war,and thenwith difficulty (6.17.5).For Dover(n. 10),252 this is no more thana rhetorical is so outrageously buttheremark Das GeschichtsfalsethatE. Schwartz, device, werk des Thukydides drastic (Hildesheim, 1960),334-5 proposed changesin the text. 'one defendsoneself againsta superior 32 Cf. Dover (n. 10), 254: Alcibiades' generalization true in Greekhistory'.This is yet another enemyby attackinghim first'is 'not conspicuously of Alcibiades: self-contradiction as discouraged and hopelessand havinglabelledthe Spartans the Sicilians as disorganized andwithouthopliteshe nowsaysthattheyarestronger thanAthens. 34 Cf. above n. 5. Cf.Westlake 33 For example, Thuc. 1.10. (n. 30), 175-6. 35

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they received120 talents(6.62.4).This sumclearlywas not enough,and moremoney fromAthens(6.71.2,6.74.2). had to be foundin Sicilyand requested The privatemoney,whichthose who had followedAlcibiades' examplehad taken along to invest in trade,not only was of no help, but actuallycontributedto the of the force.The foreigners who had been recruited into the navy at disintegration to in and had make deserted whenthe enemy money Sicilypromptly hoped high pay offered sea and on land. Other sailors oppositionby bought up the unexpectedly untrainedHyccaranslaves,no doubt with the money broughtfrom home, and put with the connivance of themselves of their them on boardthe shipsas replacements withthe samemoney. whomtheybribedto permitthe substitution, probably captains, In this way they ruinedthe battle efficiencyof the ships (7.13.2). Nicias gives his of the fleet:deteriorating a full and detailedreportof the disintegration government ships, casualtiesamong the sailors,the desertionof the slaves,and above all the the men fromthe subjectisland-states who desertionof the fleet'slargestcomponent, had been forcedto serve,and who went home as soon as they could (7.13.2,7.57.4). it is the sailorswhomutinyandrefuse afterthe finaldefeatin Syracuse harbour, Later, to go backon boardthe ships(7.72.4). Whilewe thussee the navyfall apart,thereis no similar of the reportof a break-up their and continue to The retain to the bitter end. This is discipline fight army. hoplites who neithersurrender nor desert.Thucydides trueevenof the mercenaries, givesonly a smallhint thatin the armytoo all maynot havebeenright.In the firstbattleoutside someof the foreigners foughthardso thattheymightseetheirowncountries Syracuse again; others fought to save their lives above all, and in the hope of more lenient of theirhomelandsin the future(6.69.3).Whiletheseweregood Atheniantreatment motives for persevering,they do not suggest a particularly high morale or great enthusiasmfor the cause of Athens.Still, when the foreigners were called upon to in the final throesof defeat,only a few of them did so (7.82.1).The only surrender outrightdesertionfromthe ranksof the armythat we hearof was that of the slave attendantsof the hoplites,the counterparts of the deserting slaverowersin the fleet is It remarkable that the and reversals shouldhavehad (7.75.5,7.13.2). many hardships effectonly on the sailorsand not on the land troops,including such a deleterious the mercenaries them. But the historian leaves no doubt about the and among paradoxical tragic reversalin the fortunes of the favouritemilitary service of the Athenian rulerof the sea formorethanfiftyyears,in Sicilyits strength to be democracy; proved its criticalweakness. When he askedfor largenumbersof Athenianhoplites,whichhe did repeatedly, Nicias could not possiblypredictthe loyaltyof the foreigners.36 He was awarethat,
Thuc. 6.21.1, 6.22, 6.23.1.Despitethe verydifficultparenthesis at 23.1, /e 7Trp 7dTO i7rAyv which Steup in Classen and Steup (n. 11) has emended comdTTrALTLK6V, pletely and in my view correctly, it is quite clear that Nicias has in mind very many Athenian hoplites. Cf. Dover (n. 10), 259: 'a force raised at Athens, not merely a match for the enemy, but actually superior', and 260: 'Nikias' most conspicuous fear is that the Athenians will not send enough hoplites'. Cf. also Dover's comment in ThucydidesBook VI (Oxford, 1965), 35: 'The Athenians have thought of the proposed force as a "match"for the enemy; Nikias reminds them that it is not a match in the arm that will be needed for the decisive fighting.' The clearest interpretation of the passage is that in Classen and Steup ad loc.: Nicias has been warning the Athenians in chapter 22 that Athens itself must supply most of what the expedition needs: the most troops, the most provisions, and the most money; the ad'ro`points to a silent contrast, 'for you must not count on others'. Kohl (n. 1), 159-66 surveys the numerous interpretations and emendations of the passage.
36

ItaXLIoV a;Td7J,

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unlike foreigners and mercenaries,the hoplites of Athens could be relied upon to fight, whether they were paid or not (7.48.5), and he may reasonably have expected the soldiers from the subject states and the mercenariesnot to show the same loyalty as his countrymen in a campaign whose sole objective was Athenian self-aggrandizement. Although he wanted to forestall the expedition with his request for a large army of hoplites (6.19.2, 6.24.1), Nicias evidently also believed that such a force would provide him with the security that he sought. Whatever his motives, Nicias failed to achieve either of his aims. The Athenians did not abandon their design, and he did not get the number of soldiers that he wanted. Nicias has been severely criticized by modern historians37 for insisting on an extraordinarilylarge force, but he had very good reasons for it. When he made his case in the assembly, Nicias was speaking from great experience as the commander of invasion forces in amphibious campaigns. In these operations he commanded fleets numbering between sixty and eighty ships and land troops between 2,000 and 4,300 men. The attacks that he led were against islands insignificant compared with Sicily (Melos, Cythera), and against comparatively small territories a mere stone's throw away from Athens (the east coast of the Corinthia, the region around Oropos), or at most one-third of the way to Sicily (Mende and Scione).38When we take account of the size and distance of Sicily, the total inadequacy of the Sicilian expedition leaps to the eye, whether we reckon with the 5,100 hoplites assembled at Corcyra, or include the auxiliaries and the cavalry there, for a total of 6,430. In the matter of hoplites Nicias can be faulted for requesting only 5,000 of them in the assembly;his experience should have told him that many more were needed, although it must be said in fairness to him that this request was a minimum, and that he made it unwillingly, off the top of his head, and without prior consultation with his fellow generals (6.25.2). In any case, as regards the soldiers, Alcibiades' views also prevailed. If the Sicilians had few, if any, hoplites, there was no need to send a particularlylarge Athenian army to the island. As with the matter of money, there was no discussion about hard and fast numbers of hoplites in the assembly; as a result the Athenian fighting men mobilized for Sicily were fewer than those in the expedition of 430. The armada's strength could have been increased by timely and sufficient reinforcements from Athens. These, however, were not forthcoming. Despite Nicias' urgent requests for money and cavalry (6.71.2, 6.74.2, 7.7.3), and his situation reports to Athens (7.8.1, 7.11.1), during the year between the fleet's departure and Nicias' letter, Athens sent to Sicily 250 knights without their horses, 30 mounted archers and 300 talents of silver,enough for only three months' wages of the crews in the 100 Athenian ships (6.94.4). This sum was a mere trifle compared to the sums needed to pay the Athenian crews for the rest of the year, the crews of the allied ships, and the infantry troops, many of whom were mercenaries,to say nothing about the wages for the supply corps personnel who had been hired for pay (6.22), and the price of the horses bought in Sicily (6.93.4, 6.94.1, 6.96.1). The startling insufficiency of the sum becomes even more obvious when we compare it with the 2,000 talents that Athens spent on the siege of Potideia, and the more than 1,276 talents on that of Samos. By the summer of 413 Syracuse itself had spent 2,000 talents on its defence and had incurred
37 For example by Westlake (n. 30), 221; Kagan (n. 5), 190-1; Dover (n. 10), 256, 461; Hornblower (n. 5), 66-7. 38 Melos: Thuc. 3.91.1; Cythera: Thuc. 4.53.1, 4.54.1; Corinthia: Thuc. 4.42.1; Oropos: Thuc. 3.91.3; Mende and Skione: Thuc. 4.129.2.

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In view of all this it is not surprising thatNiciashad to tell a huge debt in addition.39 the Athenians as diplomaticallyas he could that they were not supportingthe expedition (7.14.3). This is also the judgementof Thucydideswho says that the additional and Atheniansfailedto vote the necessary supportfor theirforcesoverseas after so bluntedthe edgeof theirfightingpower(2.65.11).40Evenwhenthe Athenians, to helptheirdepleted themselves Nicias'letter,bestirred armyand fleet(7.7.1, hearing reinforcement thattheysentwasa mereten 7.11.3,7.13, 7.12.4,7.14.2),the immediate ships and twentytalents(7.16.2).41 The secondarmadadid bringsome money,and after the defeat at EpipolaeNicias could say that he had muchmore money than he did not namethe sum, it is impossible to knowhow much As, however, Syracuse. at had time this the Athenians (7.48.5-6). actually money THE ACCOUNTOF THE FINALATHENIANDEFEAT betweenAlcibiades'speechin the summerof 415 and The verbalcorrespondences the story of the armada'sfate in Sicily continue in Book 7. Virtuallythe entire dramatic thematicstructure, setting,and rhetorical expressions presentin his speech in the accountsof the seafight of the launchingarereplicated and in the description of the expeditionary force. harbourand of the finaldestruction in Syracuse of the launching of the fleetand of its destruction The narratives beginin a similar manner,with the manningof the ships (6.30.1, 7.65.1, 7.69.1). The accidentalgeofact of two harbours to havinga similarcircular shapepermitsThucydides graphical a spectacleas at Olympiawith a large Alcibiades'originalmise-en-scene, reproduce Herethe hoplitesof both sidesline the shoreof the harbourto crowdof onlookers. watchthe contest,in this case a navalbattle.As at the gamesin Olympiaand at the from the Piraeus,the emphasisis on the visual: o"XAOs departure Ka-rd Oaav -KEV O (7.71.3); E"KUTWV (6.31.2)~ 8t' JA)tyov ydp olVa59 COpwv, rTo 'A00os r rOv r7 E 7LTVES l80tEV, OEL dWEldpUovv (6.31.1) ~ o0K as_ E a_ a~aToUKro7TOrw0V, Sr OVTO also OL (7.71.3)do-avWaAov (7.71.2);cf. ~ EELXv cdrr cvEodpc~plcav T7"v -vayKa,) 0 opwv, and 7(V to EKa-rUTwv syntactically very close (v TrCV oyEwS, 8PW(koVV TEs f3AEV/IavTES., 7TSVO (7.71.3). The theme of competition,originally introduced with the recitalof by Alcibiades whichreappears in the departure his Olympic scene(6.31.3)in tripartite form,is prizes, resumedhere in the same form. In 6.31.3 the three groupsof contestantsare the trierarchs,hoplites, and military men in general;in 7.70.3 they are the sailors, helmsmen,and marines.The languagein both passagesis similarand occasionally
(Oxford, 1969), no. 55. Syracuse:Thuc. 7.48.5-6, 7.49.1; cf. Avery (n. 9), 38; Inscriptions Gabrielsen (n. 28), 115. 'is not borne 40 A. W Gomme,HCT, 195-6 and JHS 78 (1943),72 wrotethatthis statement own narrative in Books VI and VII', because'the originalexpeditionwas out by Thucydides' splendidly adequateto its object',and because'on each occasionthat Nikias askedfor them,
supplies and reinforcements were sent, and in good measure'. But the first expedition, while splendid, was not adequate, as its numbers and failure show, while, as pointed out above, the support from Athens was minimal until the second expedition arrived. 41 EL'KOUL is the reading of the all manuscripts except one (H) which adds the words KaL EKaTrov.Valla, apparently following H, also has 120 talents. Editors print the reading of H, evidently because, like Dover (n. 10) ad loc., they think that 'probabilityis in favour'of 120. This may also have been the view of the scribe who first added KaL 'EKaTrv. Diodorus, 13.8.7, apparently also thought twenty talents too little, and so increased the sum to 140. For a brief history of the efforts to justify 120, see Classen and Steup (n. 11) ad loc.
39

Potidaea: Thuc. 2.70.2; Samos: R. Meiggs and D. Lewis, A Selection of Greek Historical

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nearly identical:at 6.31.3 the trierarchsare vying with each other to have ships This is echoedin 7.70.3 by rroAA there was great s T- EE7rtL7rAEY EKaWTEpOtS rp poevlta a7ro -rw7v vavUrwv E E~)V ro70, scene the eagernesson the part of the sailorsto sail to the attack.In the departure
EvTrpEvrEta 47vai3s po~EEt Ka 7w raXvvav-rEv.

outstanding in beauty and speed: Es 7taKprara LaKpd7o"T lrpoUv tvro

eV E

TOVi7w9 KaTcaU

hoplites compete to have the best equipment, -wov7TrEp aud a N atUKEUWCv_t'key rt' dvtr eV-tS rTo^v ur7ov3) 7rpT caAA'Aovs-ituAAq0',v(6.31.3); cf. 7.70.3: 7roAA,') Kat ovS (ytyvE70ro), the helmsmenemployed KvUfEpv7q-rwv dLyWVLUtLS T7rpA of the,,7A nauticalart, and therewas countermeasures

greatcompetitionamong many men in general wherever each one them.At 6.31.4the military engagein greatrivalry,

of them was stationed, ) LEKaUTOS upaS ais-o ao V ptv yevEuOat, TOS 6vvffl rrps in 7.70.3: This is answered 7TpoUETLrxOl. o[ E7TL3CtratL atEpdTEUvov... .AE TrEOtalt Td TLSE O aro KaTaaUTpco/LCaTOS T-clAhhs"TEXV7s9, r7TaCs CEKaaUTOS 7rpOUET-aKTo a-TOS ro the marines were seeing to it that the fighting from the -77rELyET 4rpOo. vatrvEuOat,

deckswas no less skilfulthanthatof the sailors; he everysingleone of them,wherever was stationed,stroveto be the best. A similarspiritof rivalryis shownalso by the
boatswains (irpN9 Tv r
arvlKGa qtAOVKl'av, 7.70.7);

the theme of contest and com-

reinforced criticalmomentof decision by the use of meaning petitionis further dydov, and mental struggleat 7.69.2 and 7.71.1, but also retainingits meaningof athletic stillis the echo of athletic contest.Clearer conveyed by the expression competition rT of the contest.Here indecision (7.71.3),thelong-lasting SUVEXEN ula'AArl' T7S LKpLTWs harks back to the &afAAa with ships to Aegina (6.32.2), and ultimatelyto /LLAAa Alcibiades' at Olympia (6.16.2). c/itAAat The acoustic elementthat Thucydidesdeftlyinsinuates into the chapterson the withtheirlargecrowds, whomthe heraldordersto silence(6.30-32.2),finds launching full and loud expressionin his reportof the battle.Ships crashtogether,thereare in the formof questions exhortations andappeals to combatants by name.The roarof battle is so great that orderscannot be heard.Thereis shouting,wailing,cries of announcedlike an victory and cries of defeat.The wailingespecially('Ao vpp0'g), operatic leitmotif in the descriptionof the launching(6.30.2), is expandedand of wordsof hearing: developedfully at the end of the dramawith an accumulation
vpi4p ALE-rfpor (7.71.3), AoovpCLbs,0flo (7.71.4), olCwy5, TrdvoS(7.71.6). The 7gs prayers offered to the gods at the outset (EvXds 6.32.2) now have vooLtoMoELva', become an appeal to the gods for salvation (dvdKA 7.71.3). OEWcv,
,Ao

rLV As in chapter6.31, Thucydides the subjective reports thoughtsand emotionsof the an spectatorswatchingthe combatfromshore:they feel mentalanguish,experience or dejected.At the sight of a nearvictoryor near fear,are encouraged unparalleled becomeso verygreatthattheyrevealtheseemotions defeat,theiranxietyand suspense with the movementof theirbodies(7.71.1-3).The admiration whichNicias had said

terribledefeat,a shock as greatas any experienced before XqS, 7.69.2, 7.60.6, (E'KrT to the Spartansat 7.71.7), and similarto the shock that the Atheniansadministered the Atheniandisasterin Sicilyhas becomethe mirror Pylos and Sphakteria: imageof their successat Pylos.42 Short of a miraclethe Atheniansat this junctureare in a VT U hopeless situation, Ka TOTE S2oe7VcOLS CV7TLUTOV 7 Oj EUO Gat 'Ka TOrr r Tvictorsin the The in this reversal of roles from (7.71.7). tragicironypresent bay at
42

that Alcibiades craves ("'va Oav~yauaOj, 6.12.2), and the astonishment at the daring of the armada (rdo'ApLOd'L4Et,6.31.6), here become a sudden shock at the sight of a

C. Macleod, 'Thucydides and tragedy', Collected Essays (Oxford, 1983), 142-3.

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78

B. JORDAN

Pylos to losers in the harbourof Syracuseis striking;the wordingof the passage also recallsthe languageof Alcibiades' confidentassertionto the assembly, Kat v'v o aA E -S OUTE aVEA7TLU-rOi .9 rv YqV iWjV 7T pa EyEVV ES HE7TOVV7)ULOL q/a another subtle andhalf-hidden butdeliberate (6.17.8), signpost connecting uf3JdAAEL

in Sicily. attheoutset forconquest, withthed6bicle Alcibiades riches, Hopeful profit,


and wages 6.15.2; AoiEuOat, Xp ('1ArWv ZELKEAt'aV aiat WoqErELV,EXWArr7T~E, GLL OLUELV UEU OOEV Kat LtV 6.24.3; 7TPOUKTJ apyptLOV OoOpaV ErM " Lat 8o LLU 7TrapELV, now see -a 7Tapd~(wv 7TP~urd LEylUTor7L A78lTT rjv rdpxovra, 6.31.6),the Athenians down(dviAmrUrot, all thesehopescomecrashing 7.75.2).43 VLEyadXAr&vri' EqcAt'8-S,

of roles.In his address to the trierarchs Thereis yet anotherstrangereversal before of theveryword(E'AAaVtbpl'vealt) withwhich the battleNiciasusesthe denominative he first attackedAlcibiades,and which Alcibiadesin justifyinghimself had, so to not to betrayanyshining that speak,madehis own.Niciasasksthecaptains reputation the gloriousdeedsof theirancestors, theymayhave,andnot to obliterate dMc^v rTO'TE
KaOE' EcavTO cV

K TglS TaTPLKaS tL? TL TtVa Aa/.7TP'T?7T6S f-7TpOLva Ka' (o7TnPXE 7 V ? 8 (7.69.2).Compare S pE7~ 7r TcLVEf~ aav oL CITpNyovoL cav 7Tarpt8 E~LV, with these expressions Alcibiades' at 6.16.3, Kat and 6.16.5, 0aot iV oua AaptrpvSvotaLt,

r7 is appealing to the samebrilliance of his captains momentNicias thathe hadcensured in Alcibiadestwo years before-another piece of tragicirony.The balance of the whichon the surfaceis a laudation of Atheniandemocracy, also acquires an sentence, Alcibiadean flavouron closerscrutiny. Nicias reminds the trierarchs that Athens,the freeststate of all, affordsall its citizensunrestrained freedomin the conductof their daily life. The languageand the thought seem not too differentfrom Thucydides'
words about on Alcibiades. Compare 7.69.2: dVE7TtrdKTOVU 7TcULV ES TNV ~LvtrTav TO E9 7rTV E'ovUlas with 6.15.4: T-NPLE0YEOS KaTa 7r'S EavrTOU 7rapavoLtalas aoCoLa (JJVKaO' EV 5V OT0 The notion o
E7rpaUEV. of lawlessness at everystepin the dailylife of a manpursuing his is not interest private too far awayfromthe notionof a dailylife thatis subject to no controlwhatsoever. The AaLvrp6d7r7S of Alcibiades runsthroughthe chapters of the Sicilianexpedition like a red threadconnectingeach of the crucialmomentsin its history.It is present twice in his speechto the assembly, it proclaims the grandeur of the departing fleet, and Nicias repeatsit at the battlein Syracuse harbour. At theend of thatbattle,after much fighting, the Syracusansmake their last assault againstthe Athenianships on land the wordis stillringingin (7.71.5).Justbeforethe finalcatastrophe Aa[Lrrpw6 the mindsof the Athenians whentheyareaboutto marchawayafterthe defeatat sea. Those who can still walk rememberthe radianceand boasting with which they had first sailed from Athens and contrast it with their miserableend: dan" ol'as OS o TO rp'rov (7.75.6), while those being left behind Kat ax' arov~x LatLTavKaL 7T9S 8tavoLags
E"KaUTOV yYVOtTO

and(v 7TEpt ELtL TOi^LS E74 [ov TwVOAaftarpdr~1Lt lrpoECaxoV, mfl rdTOS LEv 7TPOYdVOtS 8E It almost as if in the desperation looks of the (6.16.1). 86oav 4b'peL, irarpli&

AartrppdrTqros cry out to friends and relatives (TmfPoWJULEvot, 7.75.4).44 Compare with this Alcibiades' Etodr7dS EctiL, EVO (6.16.1, 6.16.6) and his boast, ol8a 'aUot EmoTlO Aatzvrpdr-Lt
7TPOEUXOV

Ka'raALTrdv'ras-,rv

oat ltra'rpieos,

ral77 a5'x'quav dv

oi

(6.16.5). The wealth, daring, splendour, TrrEp and high hopes that had been the pride of the original expedition have now become an also forma considerable themeconnecting all the chapters on the 43Hope and hopelessness Sicilian expedition;Avery(n. 9), 1-5 buildingon E M. Cornford,Thucydides Mythistoricus (London,1907),worksout theconnection; cf. also Macleod(n. 42), 150. (n. 9), 5. 44 Cf.Avery

&AAA K aprovTwv, arpaav-rwv ad

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THE SICILIAN EXPEDITION WAS A POTEMKIN FLEET

79

empty boast. As Gylippus says, the Athenians wanted to be superior (rrpoSXEtv), but, contrary to their hopes, their boasts have come to nothing, rrapa E'Amrr'a o70T in Thucy(7.66.3). Of the six occurrences of Aa krrpd'-rls avX75qaros a aAAdpLEvot is used dides, four refer to Alcibiades and the Sicilian expedition; (EA)AaWrp'vEuoaat is rarer still. The only twice and only of Alcibiades. The use of av'xryia and av'xqrlau other occurrence besides the threejust cited is Pericles'definition of it: boasting is what lucky but stupid people do (2.62.4).45 CONCLUSION Although it came very close to success, the invading force did not prove strong enough to overpower the enemy at the first assault, as Nicias had rightly argued that it should be able to do (6.23.2).46The Sicilian expedition is an early example of a bad mistake not unknown to later history: throwing armed forces into battle piecemeal and so allowing the victory to slip away.47 The overwhelming power of the first and second expeditions combined into one attacking force probably would have achieved the conquest of Sicily. Separately, as it turned out, they were insufficient. Thucydides was aware of the insufficiency of the original expedition, which he exposes with specific and systematic parallels between the debate in the assembly and the narratives of the launching and the destruction of the whole force. The historian's words suggest that he puts much of the blame for the Sicilian war on Alcibiades. But Thucydides' purpose is greater than merely apportioning blame. Beneath his factual reporting lies the awful truth of the tragic futility of human effort. An entire 'city on the move', caught in a merciless conflict allowing no escape, ends its voyage in total ruin. Universityof California, Santa Barbara B. JORDAN bjordan@humanitas.ucsb.edu

45 AavTrpOTrIg: Thuc. 2.64.5 (speech of Pericles); 4.62.2 (speech of Hermocrates); 6.16.5, 6.31.6, 7.69.2, 7.75.6 (Sicilian expedition). rrppvotat: 6.12.2; AatiTpldvotat:6.16.3 (AlciE'AAal biades). 46 The narrative of the fighting contains several indications that the expedition was not strong enough: Thuc. 6.86.3, 6.100.1-2, 7.4.4, 7.7.4, 7.11.3.

47

their huge battle fleet several ways and threw away their chance of victory: S. E. Morison, The

To cite an examplefrom recenthistory,in the Battle of Midwaythe Japanesedivided

War (Boston,1963),150-63. Twvo-ocean

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