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By Donald Kagan

Why did the Peace of Nicias fail to reconcile Athens and Sparta? within the 3rd quantity of his landmark four-volume historical past of the Peloponnesian warfare, Donald Kagan examines the years among the signing of the peace treaty and the destruction of the Athenian excursion to Sicily in 413 B.C. The relevant determine within the narrative is the Athenian flesh presser and basic Nicias, whose regulations formed the treaty and whose army concepts performed an enormous position within the assault opposed to Sicily.

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The Athenians then voted-Thucydides' impl ication is they have been unanimous-to supply their generals ful l powers in determ in­ ing the dimensions of the excursion and "to act in no matter what method appeared top to them for Athens . " 1 03 Nicias' smart maneuver had failed d isastrously. H is perfor­ mance reminds the reader of h is identical motion through the assem­ bly in forty two five which handled the Spartans trapped on Sphac­ teria. On that party N icias had provided to relinquish his command to the green and it seems that incompetent Cleon . He anticipated Cleon to refuse and so be d iscredited , yet N icias misinterpret the nature of the meeting, which egged Cleon on until eventually he couldn't reject the supply. the implications might have been d isastrous for Athens, for T hucydides tells us that the "sensible males" inspiration it most probably that Cleon may lead his troops to defeat. That scene ended com ically, with Cleon's brash delivers caus­ ing the meeting to burst into laughter, yet in spite of everything Cleon made reliable his boast and taken the Spartan prisoners domestic to Athens. 1 04 Karl Marx stated that h istory repeats itself, the 1st time as tragedy and the second one time as farce. Nicias' profession turns out to demonstrate the other precept. the 1st time he had attempted an ironic maneuver within the Athenian meeting the implications have been comi­ cal yet lucky; the second one time they have been tragic. H is habit within the moment meeting was once decisive in changing i nto an unlimited en­ terprise an day trip that, publ icly , had invol ved l imited objec­ tives and run restricted hazards . Now able to trying the con­ quest of Sicily, the Athenian excursion used to be of this kind of measurement that its defeat may well suggest nearly overall d isaster. If N icias had stated not anything on the moment meeting or had limited himself to the acknowledged issues of how and capacity, the Athenians might have despatched merely 60 ships 1 026. 24. three . 1 036. 26. 2 . 1 04For a dialogue of this incident see Kagan, Archidamian conflict, 2 39-247 . the choice TO assault SICILY 191 to Sici ly. H is reopening of the query invited the potent and inspiring speech of Alcibiades. In his personal moment speech he prompt an funding of fellows, funds, and ships which no different Athenian pol itician might have dared to propose-and in assemblies none had. Thucydides' portrait of the Athen ian plenty, greed ily keen from the outset to overcome Sicily and able to make an unlimited excursion for that goal, isn't j ustified by way of any of the facts that he provides. l O S we haven't any cause to doubt the accu racy of this photo, notwithstanding, after the second one meeting. What moved the Athenians from a wary and restricted enterprise to a daring and unlim ited dedication was once the reassurance that they had obtained from the piou s , lucky, and wary N icias. S uch assu rance from this sort of resource swept all earlier than it, kindl ing new goals and heightening these which had already been voiced. with no N icias' i ntervention there may were an Athenian exped ition opposed to Sicily in four 1 five , yet there couldn't were a catastrophe.

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