Jeff Tirey wrote:Hi Daivid, it's good to speak with you.
And good to speak to you.
Jeff Tirey wrote:I didn't read the full article, so it looks like I'm commenting out of context.
Well the focus of the article was on stuff not relevant to these forums so its a probably a good thing that you have drawn us away from that.
Jeff Tirey wrote:But to the point of the Athenian invasion of Sicily, I didn't say Athenians were stupid,
Not in so many words ...
Jeff Tirey wrote:... but I am saying that they made a horrible decision that at the outset, the majority thought was the right course of action.
On the facts, history tells us it was a colossal failure. It was a conflict started in the middle of the Peloponnesian War and all in the expedition were lost. To you're point, maybe it could have gone better if the leaders held a different course, but I think that can be said in any conflict. The whole lesson of the Peloponnesian war is that wars start off in small places for small things and have a way of getting bigger, deadlier and more out of control than anyone could have imagined at the start.
But for the Athenians who votes yes at the outset, I don't believe they fully appreciated the land size of Sicily, the dynamics of the region, nor how the conflict was a land conflict despite Syracuse being on the coast. I could be wrong about this, my memory of this subject is not as sharp and I have never studied this conflict in detail.
Thukydides does indeed say that the people did not appreciate the size of the island but we don't need to take his words at face value. They may initially have thought this but Nikias convinced them otherwise. Why else would they have agreed to enlarge the expedition when he asked them to do?
Nikias' motive in demanding an enlarged force was scare the people off the idea. That failed. However the original plan depended on there being a small force to be the core of an anti Syracuse alliance. The larger force was unambiguously an army of conquest and so destroyed hope of gaining allies.
But essentially the problem was not the people being rash but them playing safe. They wanted to have Nikias in charge because they thought they could rely on him to withdraw if there was any danger of a disaster. Everything up to that point suggested that that was exactly how Nikias would react.
No one could have anticipated that it would be Nikias' caution - that is his reaction to the eclipse - that would make the disaster total.
They made sensible calculations on the basis of the information available to them.