21. Historical Summary of the Sicilian Expedition
Ellis L. Knox
Boise State University
The Expedition Begins

The force sent to Sicily consisted of 134 triremes and 27,000 men, the largest Athens had ever fielded. It all but exhausted the Athenian treasury, which represented the income of its entire empire and not just of Attica. But it would all be worth it to bring Sparta to its knees.

On the eve of the departure of the fleet there occurred one of those rare events that would be ludicrous if their consequences had not been so dire. Certain public statues were defaced all over the city, and it was widely said that the deed had been done by Alcibiades and his buddies in a drunken rout.

Certainly it was the sort of thing Alcibiades was infamous for: outrageous, impious, more than a little loony. But equally certainly it was just the sort of story that would be manufactured by his enemies to do him mischief.

The fleet sailed. No more than it was gone, charges were brought in the matter of the statues against Alcibiades. Since this was a democracy, and Alcibiades was after all no more than a citizen now accused of a crime, a state ship was sent after the fleet to bring Alcibiades back.

The ship caught up with the fleet and Alcibiades was duly arrested, accused of sacrilege. It was an Athenian madness to gamble on such an expedition and then arrest the man who had conceived it. But it was plain bad policing to let the man get away on the return to Athens.

As the state ship rounded the Peloponnese, Alcibiades gave his captors the slip, dove over the side and swam to shore. Whereupon he went directly to Sparta and proceeded to tell the Spartans every detail of the expedition.

Source: http://history.boisestate.edu/westciv/peloponn/11.htm
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