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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2010
  • First published in: 1850

CHAPTER LXI - From the Destruction of the Athenian Armament in Sicily down to the Oligarchical Conspiracy of the Four Hundred at Athens


Consequences of the ruin of the Athenian armament in Sicily.

Occupation of Dekeleia by the Lacedæmonians—its ruinous effects upon Athens.

In the preceding chapter, we followed to its melancholy close the united armament of Nikias and Demosthenês, first in the harbour and lastly in the neighbourhood of Syracuse, towards the end of September 413 B.C.

The first impression which we derive from the perusal of that narrative is, sympathy for the parties directly concerned—chiefly for the number of gallant Athenians who thus miserably perished, partly also for the Syracusan victors, themselves a few months before on the verge of apparent ruin. But the distant and collateral effects of the catastrophe throughout Greece, were yet more momentous than those within the island in which it occurred.

I have already mentioned that even at the moment when Demosthenês with his powerful armament left Peiræus to go to Sicily, the hostilities of the Peloponnesian confederacy against Athens herself had been already recommenced. Not only was the Spartan king Agis ravaging Attica, but the far more important step of fortifying Dekeleia, for the abode of a permanent garrison, was in course of completion. That fortress, having been begun about the middle of March, was probably by the month of June in a situation to shelter its garrison, which consisted of contingents periodically furnished, and relieving each other alternately, from all the different states of the confederacy, under the permanent command of king Agis himself.

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