Thucydides sicilian expidition essay
The Sicilian Campaign During the 17th year of the Peloponnesian War, with the fight between Athens and Sparta at a stalemate and in the midst of a nominal truce, the Athenians held an Assembly and decided to attack Sicily. The Sicilian Expedition marked a crucial moment in the history of the Peloponnesian War and Thucydides' account thereof.
Finally Wilamowitz finds an inconsistency between 56 and This opinion was amply justified, but it requires explanation why the Spartans should have adopted it just at this moment.
Thucydides opinion on the sicilian expedition
The orator, however, seeks te exaggerate Alcibiades' crimes cf. Nor can we suppose that Thucydides here intended to allude to the results of the removal of Alcibiades from the command in After he was anxious to be on good terms with the democrats at Athens; probably he did not lose hope of reconciliation with them even after his retirement following Notium ; and it would suit him to have as little as possible remembered about his share in the ostracism of a man who 90 P. Summary of Conclusions In this paper, I have advanced two main suggestions : Firstly, Alcibiades was probably an informant of Thucydides for certain incidents recorded in Books V, VI and VIII ; if this is true, it may be assumed that he was also an informant of Thucydides about all the events in which he had a part. In fact that is what motivated Thucydide's to record it in his historical records. Sparta feared the growing power of the Athenians. We can begin with the casus belli, the reason for which the parties were at war. If this were true, the fact that Thucydides is silent about it could hardly be reconciled with the hypothesis that he derived information from Alcibiades ; indeed on West- lake's view, Thucydides VIII 3,1 misinterprets the motive of Agis' winter campaign in Central Greece on which he was supposedly accompanied by Alcibiades. In both chapters Thucydides stresses that he aimed at prer serving an equality between the two sides. This explanation is barely compatible with the present hypothesis and while we may set down his silence to his own negligence or to Alcibiades' failure to mention the incident to him, it must be admitted that it is only plausible to account for Thucydides1 silence in one of these ways, if it is conceded that the analysis given above makes it, highly probable that Thucydides must none the less have had intimate talks with Alcibiades about the events in which Alcibiades had been concerned. Through hubris, a lack of adequate cavalry, and incompetence at home as well as abroad, the Athenians allowed the expedition to turn into a monumental failure, foreshadowing their ultimate defeat in the Ionian War a decade later. The outcome could have been very different had the Athenians taken with them a cavalry up to the task, been guided by a more decisive and aggressive general than Nicias, and had a less capricious demos at home. Wilamowitz [op.
To make matters worse, inthe Spartans declared war upon Athens the Decelean or Ionian Warwhich made it impossible to send additional reinforcements.
According to the speech written for his son by Isocrates, he went for a time to Argos and resided there, till the Athenians demanded his extradition and he was compelled to flee to Sparta XVI 9, cf.
Battle of syracuse
I shall try to show that the second alternative is right by considering. In fact the plan did fail, and we may doubt whether it could have succeeded, even if Alcibiades himself had remained to execute it instead of doing everything possible to thwart it. Ill It may be objected to my theory that if Alcibiades was a principal informant of Thucydides and more particularly if he exercised an influence over him which at times led the historian to magnify Alcibiades' part in shaping events, we should expect Thucydides to give us full and accurate information about all Alcibiades1 doings, so far as they were relevant to the subject to which he chose to confine himself — the war between Athens and Sparta 1 , but that even from the scanty evidence available to supplement Thucydides we can prove that this is not so. In response to this, an Athenian diplomat named Phaeax concluded alliances with Acragas , Camarina and the natives, because the conference at Gela had not taken away the mutual suspicion that was common among Greek cities. Nicias, In evaluating these arguments it should always be remembered that Book VIII is a rough draft, as none has shown better than Wilamowitz, and that it is only natural that it should be in places slipshod and obscure. In contrast, a successful attack on Sicily would allow Athens to gain a significant advantage over its primary opponent, Sparta. It is true that he sailed at once towards Aspendus with a small squadron 88 , and Thucydides 80 P.
Although the Athenians received reinforcements, commanded by Demosthenesthey had not sufficient cavalry to deal with the powerful horsemen of their enemies. In that case we have here an instance 6 68 P. Alcibiades, the third commander, suggested to find more allies, create a base, and attack Syracuse after this had been achieved.
For these reasons it is surely certain that Thucydides is here asserting that the Athenians were ruined because in. First, the very natures of the conflicts were different. BRUNT policy of Alcibiades and of Athens would certainly have been clearer if it hade been illuminated by speeches, and occasions to insert these were not wanting i.
Alcibiades must therefore have been content to say that he had learnt 'the plan from a highly reliable source. If Altei- biades was Thucydides' principal or sole informant for the incidents analysed above, it is natural to suppose that he learned much else from him which he could and probably did confirm from other sources.
It is true, of course, that Argos and Sparta were at war, but hostilities could not prevent the exchange of secret messages'.
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