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UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

by means of intrigue and bluster, succeeded in this work, and not only

Argos, but also Elis and Mantinea, agreed to maintain an alliance with

Athens for a hundred years.

In the next year, B. C. 419, the Athenians were again admitted to the

Olympic games. It was supposed that, just emerging from a long and

ruinous war, she would present but a sorry figure at the great festival.

What, therefore, was the surprise of the assembled states when Alcibiades

himself entered for the games seven four-horse chariots, and with these

gained both the first and the second prize? Besides his display in the

races, he procured from his countrymen one of the richest general

exhibits ever presented on such an occasion; and at the conclusion of the

celebration all Greece rang with the praises of the Athenians.

But Alcibiades was a politician as well as a racer. He visited several

Peloponnesian towns, with the purpose of alienating them more and more

from the Spartan cause. These proceedings continued until the

Lacedaemonians were obliged to resist. They marched into Argos and

gained a position from which they might soon have won a marked success;

but Agis, the commander, permitted himself to be tricked into a truce by

the machinations of Alcibiades, who then gathered a force of Argives and

Athenians and invaded Mantinea. Near the temple of Hercules they were met

by the Spartan army under Agis, and were disastrously defeated. It was

estimated that one thousand one hundred men of the allied forces perished

in the battle. This success induced the state of Argolis to detach itself

from Athens and return to its old relations with the Lacedaemonians.

In the year B. C. 416, the Athenians succeeded in the capture of Melos

and Thera, the only islands in the AEgean not hitherto brought under

their dominion. In the conquest of the Melians-whose only offense

consisted in refusing to surrender to those who had attacked them in a

time of peace-the Athenians crowned all their preceding atrocities by

putting the male citizens of the island to death and selling the women

and children into slavery.

In the mean time, about B. C. 428, the Dorian race in Sicily, under the

leadership of Syracuse, had become identified with the Peloponnesian

league, then at war with Athens. War had been declared against the towns

of Leontini and Camarina, as well as the Italian city of Rhegium.

Hereupon the Leontinians sent their orator, Gorgias, to Athens to solicit

aid. At that time the Athenians voted aid to all the enemies of Sparta;

so a fleet of twenty sail was sent to help the anti-Lacedaemonian league

in the West. .

In the following year another squadron of forty galleys was sent to

Sicily, and it now became apparent that Athens instead of helping others

entertained the covert purpose of helping herself to the possession of

the whole island. A reaction occurred among the Sicilians, and the

expedition was obliged to sail home in disgrace. Three years later,

however, the Leontinians again asked for assistance, but the Athenians

were not then in a condition to give it; but when, in B. C. 416, the

application was renewed from the town of Egesta, then at war with

Selinus, Alcibiades espoused the project, and a resolution of support was

about to be voted; but the cautious Nicias interposed and induced the

assembly first to send an embassy to Egesta to see whether the game was

worth the expenditure. The Egestaeans entertained the envoys. They took

them into the temple of Aphrodite and displayed a vast heap of treasures

which were borrowed for the occasion! They gave a banquet which nearly

exhausted the resources of the town. But the ambassadors were generously

hoodwinked, and took home a glowing account of the luxury of the western

city! So it was at once resolved to espouse the cause of these wealthy

petitioners, and a squadron of a hundred ships-under the joint command of

Nicias, Alcibiades, and Lamachus- was dispatched to Sicily.

No enterprise ever undertaken by the Greeks was more enthusiastically

prosecuted. Crowds of volunteers came forward and begged to be accepted

for the expedition. The three commanders vied with each other in the

equipment of their respective ships.