[9] Alcibiades urges the Spartans to War

[88.7] In the meantime the Syracusan envoys despatched to Corinth and Lacedaemon tried as they passed along the coast to persuade the Italians to interfere with the proceedings of the Athenians, which threatened Italy quite as much as Syracuse. Having arrived at Corinth, they made a speech calling on the Corinthians to assist them on the ground of their common origin. [8] The Corinthians voted at once to aid them heart and soul themselves, and then sent envoys with them to Lacedaemon, to help them to persuade her also to prosecute the war with the Athenians more openly at home and to send reinforcements to Sicily. [9] The envoys from Corinth having reached Lacedaemon found there Alcibiades with his fellow-refugees, who had at once crossed over in a trading vessel from Thurii to Cyllene in Elis [near Olympia] and then to Lacedaemon. He came at the Spartans' invitation, and only after first obtaining a safe conduct, as he feared them for the part he had taken in the affair of Mantinea [where Alcibiades had organized an allied force against the Spartans]. [10] The result was that the Corinthians, Syracusans, and Alcibiades, all urging intervention before the assembly of the Lacedaemonians , succeeded in persuading them [to vote for war]; but the Ephors and other officers, although resolved to send envoys to Syracuse to prevent their surrendering to the Athenians, showed no inclination to send them any troops. Alcibiades then came forward and stirred up the Lacedaemonians by speaking as follows:

[89] 'I am forced first to speak to you of the prejudice with which I am regarded, in order that suspicion may not make you disinclined to listen to me upon public matters. [2] The connection with you as your Proxeni ['goodwill ambassadors'], which the ancestors of our family ... renounced, I personally tried to renew by my good offices towards you, in particular upon the occasion of the disaster at Pylos. But although I maintained this friendly attitude, you yet chose to negotiate the peace with the Athenians through my enemies, and thus to strengthen them and to discredit me. [3] You had therefore no right to complain if I turned to the Mantineans and Argives, and seized other occasions of thwarting and injuring you; and the time has now come when those among you, who in the bitterness of the moment may have been then unfairly angry with me, should look at the matter in its true light, and take a different view. Those again who judged me unfavorably, because I leaned rather to the side of the common people, must not think that their dislike is any better founded. [4] We have always been hostile to tyrants, and all who oppose arbitrary power are called populists; hence we continued to act as leaders of the people; besides which, as democracy was the government of the city, it was necessary in most things to work within the established framework. [5] But we tried to be more moderate than the licentious temper of the times; and while there were others, formerly as now, who tried to lead the multitude astray, the same who banished me, [6] our party was that of the whole people, our creed being to do our part in preserving the form of government under which the city enjoyed the utmost greatness and freedom, and which we had found existing. As for democracy, the men of sense among us knew what it was, and I perhaps as well as any, as I have the more cause to complain of it; but there is nothing new to be said of a patent absurdity-- meanwhile we did not think it safe to alter it under the pressure of your hostility.

[90] So much then for the prejudices with which I am regarded: I now can call your attention to the questions you must consider, and upon which superior knowledge perhaps permits me to speak. [2] We sailed to Sicily first to conquer, if possible, the Sicilians, and after them the Italians also, and finally to assail the empire and city of Carthage. [3] In the event of all or most of these schemes succeeding, we were then to attack Peloponnese, bringing with us the entire force of the Hellenes lately acquired in those parts, and taking a number of barbarians into our pay, such as the Iberians and others in those countries, confessedly the most warlike known, and building numerous galleys in addition to those which we had already, timber being plentiful in Italy; and with this fleet blockading Peloponnese from the sea and assailing it with our armies by land, taking some of the cities by storm, drawing works of circumvallation round others, we hoped without difficulty to effect its reduction, and after this to rule the whole of the Hellenic name.

91.1] You have thus heard the history of the present expedition from the man who most exactly knows what our objects were; and the remaining generals will, if they can, carry these out just the same. But that the states in Sicily must succumb if you do not help them, I will now show. [2] Although the Sicilians, with all their inexperience, might even now be saved if their forces were united, the Syracusans alone, beaten already in one battle with all their people and blockaded from the sea, will be unable to withstand the Athenian armament that is now there. [3] But if Syracuse falls, all Sicily falls also, and Italy immediately afterwards; and the danger which I just now spoke of from that quarter will before long be upon you. [4] None need therefore fancy that Sicily only is in question; Peloponnese will be so also, unless you speedily do as I tell you, and send on board ship to Syracuse troops that shall be able to row their ships themselves, and serve as heavy infantry the moment that they land; and what I consider even more important than the troops, a Spartan as commanding officer to discipline the forces already on foot and to compel recusants to serve. The friends that you have already will thus become more confident, and the waverers will be encouraged to join you. [5] Meanwhile you must carry on the war here more openly, that the Syracusans seeing that you do not forget them, may put heart into their resistance, and that the Athenians may be less able to reinforce their armament. [6] You must fortify Decelea in Attica, the blow of which the Athenians are always most afraid and the only one that they think they have not experienced in the present war; the surest method of harming an enemy being to find out what he most fears, and to choose this means of attacking him, since every one naturally knows best his own weak points and fears accordingly. [7] The fortification [at Decelea] while it benefits you, will create difficulties for your adversaries, of which I shall pass over many, and shall only mention the chief. Whatever property there is in the country will most of it become yours, either by capture or surrender; and the Athenians will at once be deprived of their revenues from the silver mines at Laurium, of their present gains from their land and from the law courts (since foreign litigants will not be able to bring suit there), and above all of the revenue from their allies, which will be paid less regularly, as they are less in awe of Athens, seeing you take the offensive against her.

92] ...[2] Meanwhile I hope that none of you will think any the worse of me if after having hitherto passed as a 'lover of my country' [=philopolis], I now actively join its worst enemies in attacking it, or will suspect what I say as the fruit of an outlaw's enthusiasm. [3] I am an outcast from the iniquity of those who drove me out; I should not be, if you listen to me, an outcast from your service: my worst enemies are not you who rightly harmed your enemies, but they who forced their friends to become enemies. [4] Love of country is not what I feel when I am wronged, but what I felt when secure in my rights as a citizen. Indeed I do not consider that I am now attacking a country that is still mine; I am rather trying to recover one that is mine no longer. The true lover of his country is not he who consents to lose it unjustly rather than attack it, but he who longs for it so much that he will risk anything to recover it. [5] For myself, therefore, Lacedaemonians, I beg you to use me without scruple for danger and trouble of every kind, and to remember the argument in every one's mouth, that if I did you great harm as an enemy, I could likewise do you good service as a friend, inasmuch as I know the plans of the Athenians, while I only guessed yours. For yourselves I entreat you to believe that your most capital interests are now under deliberation; and I urge you to send without hesitation the expeditions to Sicily and Attica; by the presence of a small part of your forces you will save important cities in that island, and you will destroy the power of Athens both present and prospective; after this you will dwell in security and enjoy the supremacy over all Hellas, resting not on force but upon consent and affection.'

[93] Such were the words of Alcibiades. The Lacedaemonians, who had themselves before intended to march against Athens, but were still waiting and looking about them, at once became much more in earnest when they received this particular information from Alcibiades, and considered that they had heard it from the man who best knew the truth of the matter. [2] Accordingly they now turned their attention to the fortifying of Decelea and sending immediate aid to the Sicilians; and naming Gylippus, son of Cleandridas, to the command of the Syracusans, bade him consult with that people and with the Corinthians and arrange for succors reaching the island, in the best and speediest way possible under the circumstances. [3] Gylippus desired the Corinthians to send him at once two ships to Asine, and to prepare the rest that they intended to send, and to have them ready to sail at the proper time. Having settled this, the envoys departed from Lacedaemon.