The Library of History

Page 297

Page 297 In the Sixteenth Year, when Aristomnestes was Archon at Athens, and Titus ClaudiusSpurius, Nautius Lucius Sergius, and Sextus Julius, Military Tribunes, executed the Office of Consuls at Rome, the Ninety First Olympiad was celebrated at Elis, wherein Exaneus of Acragentum was Victor. At that time the Bysantines and Chalcedeans joining with the Thracians, pass'd over with a great Army into Bithynia, and wasted and spoil'd the Country; and after they had taken several small Towns by force, they executed most horrid cruelty. For after they had gathered together a great multitude of Prisoners, of Men, Women and Children, they cut all their Throats.

About the same time, the Aegistines and Seluntines in Sicily went to Blows, upon the Differences between them concerning the Bounds of their Country. For though the River divided the Territories of the several Cities that were at variance, yet the Seluntines pass'd over to the other side, and seiz'd upon the Lands lying next to the River; and incroaching still by little and little, they gain'd the next to them, and laugh'd and jeer'd at those they thus abus'd. Provoked with these Indignities, the Aegistines at first thought to win them by fair Words, and dissuaded them all they could from seizing of other Mens Estates. But when they saw they turn'd a deaf Ear, the Proprietors rose up in Arms, and drove them out of the Country, and so recontinued their ancient Possessions. Upon this, a great Fire of Strife and Contention was kindled, and Armies were rais'd on both sides, to decide the Controversie by the Sword. Both Armies being drawn into the Field, a sharp Battel was fought, in which the Seluntines got the Day, and kill'd a great number of the Aegistines.

The power of the Aegistines being very much weakened by this Slaughter, and so unable of themselves to oppose their Enemy, they First sought Aid and Assistance from them of Acragentum and Syracuse: But these failing them, they sent Ambassadors to Carthage for relief; and they likewise refus'd. Upon which they sought to get Confederates beyond the Seas: And this prov'd successful; for whereas the Leontines had been driven both out of their City and Country by the Syracusians, those that were remaining of these Exiles consulted together and determin'd to enter into a League with the Athenians, from whom they were descended. The matter was debated and decreed in a Common Assembly of all their Allies, that Embassadors should be sent to Athens, to desire their Assistance for the Relief of the oppressed Cities, and withal to promise that they would do their utmost endeavour to serve the Athenians in all their Concerns in Sicily.

When the Ambassadors came to Athens, the Leontines pleaded their Kindred and ancient Allyances; but the Aegistines promis'd a great Sum of Money for the carrying on the War, and with all their power to oppose the Syracusians. Upon this the Athenians thought fit First to send some prudent Citizens to Sicily, better to understand the State and Condition both of the Island and of the Aegistines. When they came to Aegista, the Aegistines with great Ostentation and Vanity, shew'd them a great mass of Treasure, in part their own, and part borrow'd. When the Ambassadors were return'd, and the great Riches of the Aegistines was nois'd Abroad, an Assembly of the People was call'd, where the War to be made in Sicily was propos'd, and where Niceas the Son of Niceratus, a Man of great account amongst the People, argued with great prudence against the War, alledging it impossible both to contend with the Lacedemonians, and likewise to send so great a Force as they must needs do, into parts beyond the Seas. And alledg'd, that when they were not able hitherto to subdue Greece, it was in vain to think to bring the greatest Island of the World under their power. He added moreover, when Carthage, that was of so large an Empire, and had often attempted Sicily, was not able to conquer it, could they suppose that the Athenians, who were far inferior in Strength and Power, could subdue an Island the most potent in Arms of all others in the World? After he had spoken this and much more, suitable to the present Occasion, Alcibiades one of the chief of the Nobility of Athens, persuaded the People to prosecute the War. This Man was the most Eloquent Speaker of all amongst the Citizens, and for the Nobleness of his Birth, and greatness of his Estate, and Skill in Martial Affairs, far exceeded the rest. The People upon his persuasion, without delay rigg'd out a Fleet of

Bibliotheca Historica

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