chapter  2
26 Pages

Rhetoric and history (415 BC)

It is summer 415.1 Momentously, the Athenian assembly has just taken its decision to sail to Sicily, and the city is busy with preparations. Thucydides continues (6.27):

One night most of the stone Herms in Athens had their faces mutilated. (These are a local feature, with their familiar squarecut figures, and there are many of them both in private porches and in temples.) Nobody knew who had done it; great rewards were offered by the state for information which would help the search, and they passed a further decree offering immunity to anyone, citizen, alien, or slave, who could give information concerning any other impiety. They took the affair more seriously than one might expect: it was taken as an omen for the expedition, and people thought that it sprang from a revolutionary conspiracy to overthrow the democracy.