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obedience. Is it not then extreme impolicy to incur needlessly new and great dangers, with the view to increase a dominion alreddy so insecure ?

“ As to the dominion which Syracuse may acquire in Sicily, which some desire to represent as highly alarming, far from an object of apprehension, it would rather give us security. For while Sicily is divided, each state will court the favor of the Lacedæmonians, who profess themselves the protectors of independency; but when once the Syracusans are masters of all, they will be less forward in connection with Lacedæmon, and more cautious of opposing the Athenians; whose cause is similar to theirs, and whose interest congenial.

“ For myself,” continued Nicias, " at my years, and after the long course of services in which my fellowcitizens have been witnesses of my conduct, I may venture to say that no man is less anxious for his personal safety. I have large property, through which my welfare is intimately connected with that of the commonwealth. But we owe both life and fortune to our country, and I hold that man to be a good citizen who is duly careful of both. If then there is among you a young man, born to great wealth and splendid situation, whose passion for distinction has nevertheless led him far to exceed, in magnificence, both what suited his means and what became his situation; if he is now appointed to a command above his


but with which, at his years especially, a man is likely to be delighted ; above all, if repairs are wanting to a wasted fortune, which may make such a command desirable to him, tho ruinous to his country, it behooves you to beware how you accede to the advice of such a counsellor. I dread indeed the

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warm passions of that crowd of youths, the followers and supporters of the person of whom I speak : and notwithstanding the decree of the last assembly, all men of sober judgement ought yet to interfere, and prevent rash undertakings, of a magnitude that may involve, with their failure, the downfall of the commonwealth. If therefore, honored as I am, by the voice of my country, with appointment to the chief command of the intended expedition, I may presume to advise, it shall be, that the expedition be not undertaken ; that the Sicilians be left still divided by their seas from Athens

; that the Egestans, as without communication with Athens they ingaged in war with the Selinuntines, so, without our interference they accommodate their differences; and that, in future, the Athenians ingage in no alliances with states which, in their own distress, will claim assistance, but in the distress of Athens could afford none.

Alcibiades, thus particularly called upon, mounted the bema to reply. He began with insisting upon his just pretension to the high command to which he was raised, and with glorying in the extravagances of which he was accused. My ancestors before me," he said, “have been honored for that very conduct which is now imputed to me as criminal. I own, and it is my boast, that I have exceeded them all in magnificence, and I claim merit with my country for it. The supposition had gained, throughout Greece, that Athens was ruined by the war. I have shown that an indi. vidual of Athens could yet outdo what any prince or state had ever done. I sent seven chariots to the Olympian festival, and gained the first, the second, and the fourth prizes : and the figure I


maintained throughout, at that meeting of the whole Greek nation, did not disparage the splendor of my victory. Is this a crime? On the contrary, it is held honorable by the customs of Greece, and reflects honor and renown, even on the country of those who exhibit such magnificence. With regard then to my extravagance, as it has been called, at home, whether in public entertainments or in whatever else, perhaps I may have drawn on me the envy of some of our own citizens : but strangers are more just; and in my liberality and hospitality they admire the greatness of the commonwealth.

“ If then even in these things, comparatively meer private concerns, I have deserved well of my country, let it be inquired what my public conduct has been. Glory, I will own, I ardently desire; but how have I sought to acquire it, and what has been my success ? Have I promoted rash enterprize? Have I been forward, as it is said youth is apt to be, to ingage the commonwealth, wildly and without foresight, in hazardous war? or was it I who, by negotiation, without either danger or expence to yourselves, brought all Peloponnesus to fight your battles for you against Lacedæmon, and reduced that long-dreaded rival state to risk its existence at Mantineia, in arms against its own antient allies? If such have been my services, on first entering upon public business, you need not, I hope, fear but my greater experience will now be advanta geous to you.

“ With regard then to Nicias, who has long and honorably served you in the high situation of general of the commonwealth, tho he has been expressing himself acrimoniously against me, I

reddily acknowledge his merit, and have no objection to serve with him : on the contrary, I think it would become your wisdom to employ us together. Nicias has the reputation of cautious prudence, and singular good fortune; I am said to be more than prudently enterprizing. For want of enterprize his wisdom, and the good fortune with which the gods have been accustomed to bless it, will be unavailing to the commonwealth : checked by his prudence, my disposition to enterprize cannot be dangerous.

“ To come then to the question more immediately before the assembly, the opportunity now offered to the commonwealth, for acquisition in Sicily, ought not to be neglected. The power of the Sicilians, which some would teach you to fear,

, has been much exaggerated. They are a mixed people, little attached to one another, little attached to a country which they consider as scarcely theirs, and little disposed to risk either person or fortune for it; but always reddy for any change, whether of political connection, or of local establishment, that may offer any advantage, or relieve from any distress. Nor is their military force such as some have pretended; several Grecian states and all the barbarians of the iland, will be immediately in your interest. Distracted then by faction, as it is well known the rest are, negotiation, well managed, may soon bring more to your party.

" But it is endevored to alarm you with apprehensions of invasion from Peloponnesus. With regard to this, late experience has demonstrated what may suffice us to know. The Peloponnesians are always able to overrun the open country of Attica even when none of our force is absent on

forein service; and, should the expedition now proposed take place, they can do no more. Ought we then to abandon allies, whom treaties ratified by oath bind us to protect? Is it a just reason for so failing in our ingagements, that those allies are unable to afford us mutual protection?. It was surely not to obtain Egestan forces for the defence of Attica that the treaty was made; but to prevent our enemies in Sicily from injuring Attica, by finding them employment within their own iland. It has been by readiness to ASSIST ALL, whether Greeks or barbarians, that our empire, and ALL empire, has been acquired. Nor, let me add, is it now in our choice how far we will stretch our command; for, possessing empire, we must maintain it, and rather extend than permit any diminution of it; or we shall, more even than weaker states, risk our own subjection to a forein dominion. I will then detain you no longer than to observe, that the command which we possess of the sea, and the party of which we are assured in Sicily, will sufficiently inable us to keep what we may acquire, and sufficiently insure means of retreat if we should fail of our purpose ; so that, with much to hope, we have, from any event of the proposed expedition, little to fear. I am therefore firmly of opinion that your decree for it ought not to be rescinded.”

When the question had been thus fully argued, Demostratus moved, that the preparations for the war and the entire control of it should be vested in the generals. The Greeks followed up all public resolutions by sacrifices and festivals. It happened unluckily, that just before the sailing of the expedition, the feast of Adonis took place. Looking

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