The mistake of invading sicily at the request of egesta

Background[ edit ] The island of Sicily contained the Elymians, Sikans and the Siculi living in respective communities before the Phoenicians had started their colonisation of Sicily after BC. The Phoenicians had initially planted trading posts all over the coast of Sicily, but never penetrated far inland and ultimately withdrew without resistance to the western half of the island concentrating in the cities of MotyaPanormus and Soluntum with the arrival of the Greek colonists after

The mistake of invading sicily at the request of egesta

This question came up a number of times in last weekend's AMAbut I never really addressed it in detail, so it'll be nice to do that here.

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For us, with the benefit of hindsight, the Sicilian Expedition seems like an obvious blunder. Athens was not in a position to subdue Syracuse, let alone all of Sicily; it only squandered a huge amount of resources and thousands of lives chasing an impossible dream out of sheer arrogant folly.

We can easily see the signs in our main contemporary source, Thucydides, that the expedition was doomed to fail; worse, the Athenians themselves were warned in advance, and knew what would happen, and decided to sail out anyway.

How could this possibly have seemed like the right decision? But the problem here is precisely with our source. The Sicilian Expedition is the central drama of Thucydides' Histories.

In unrivalled detail and with a masterful sense of tragedy, Thucydides lays out for us how the Athenians were goaded into the greatest catastrophe that had ever hit a Greek state, and how they failed to recognise time and again that they were facing annihilation until it was too late.

But this is the storyteller's art. Thucydides completed his work after the end of the Peloponnesian War, and knew exactly what was going to happen. This allowed him to tell the story like a prophecy come true.

He presented his hindsight as foresight, and made us believe the destruction of the Athenian expeditionary force was a foregone conclusion. But Thucydides was still a historian, and we can use the things he tells us to give ourselves a better sense of why the Athenians would have embarked on this mad adventure.

The obligation to the allies First, the expedition of BC was not the first Athenian operation in Sicily. They had previously tried to form local alliances and meddle in local affairs, sending a very significant fleet out in BC to support the people of Leontinoi against the Syracusans.

Segesta, Sicily - Visit the Doric Temple, Segesta | The Thinking Traveller

They figured this would be in their interest in the long run, since many of the Greek states in Sicily were Dorian and were suspected of sending support in the form of grain to their Dorian brethren in the Peloponnesian League. This earlier expedition had left the Athenians with a couple of Sicilian allies, for what little they were worth - the main ones being Egesta also spelled Segesta and the sadly dispossessed Leontinoi.

In BC, the Egestans were caught up in a war against their neighbour Selinous - an ally of Syracuse - and sent to Athens for help. Their envoys spoke to the Assembly and gave them several reasons to send support to Sicily Thuc 6.

Athens had made a formal treaty with Egesta and needed to meet its obligations. If Athens failed to intervene, Egesta might fall, and eventually all remaining Athenian allies on the island would be extinguished, and all of Sicily would become the dominion of Syracuse.

Once united and free of local rivals, the Dorians of Sicily might decide to join the Peloponnesians in against Athens.

Allied invasion of Sicily - Wikipedia

By themselves, none of these arguments may seem strong enough to provoke Athens to send a vast fleet and army to Sicily and start a major war. But there were other considerations that would have been particularly enticing to an empire that had gotten accustomed to getting what it wanted.

The riches of Sicily The "truest cause" of the Sicilian Expedition, says Thucydides, was not an altruistic desire to protect the Egestans, but a desire to conquer the whole of Sicily. This island was famous for its wealth; it was rich in timber and produced a surplus of grain; its cities would add a hefty sum to the tribute of the Athenian empire.

Indeed, the Egestan envoys themselves had done their best to play on Athenian greed as an additional argument in their favour.

They had brought with them to Athens an advance sum of 60 talents in silver - enough to pay the wages of 20 trireme crews for an entire sailing season.Athenian, sent by Athens to Sparta to reply to Sparta's request to buy Athens time to finish building the wall.

The mistake of invading sicily at the request of egesta

Pericles Leader in Athens (statesman), rebuilt the Acropolis and rebuilding in general. Jan 26,  · The Peloponnesian War: The Sicilian debate, sacrilege, false hope Athens responds to the request by sending their own ambassadors to Egesta to see (1) if they had the money to support such an expedition, and (2) how did the war between Egesta and Selinus stand?

Thucydides says Nicias intended to scuttle the invasion by. Mar 25,  · I would like to determine what the Allied forces had in mind when they decided to invade Sicily. I have seen many episodes on the Military channel showing the initial landing of troops invading the western part of Sicily.

Anti-Syracusan sentiment is high in Athens Egesta, another ally of Athens, was under attack by Selinus which was aided by Syracuse this gave the Athenians a perfect excuse to intervene in Sicily Egesta offered to pay the full cost of the Athenian expedition, but Egesta was lying about the amount of money that she had available Athen decided.

Segesta, Greek Egesta, ancient city of Sicily, located on Monte Barbaro about 2 miles (3 km) northwest of modern Calatafimi.

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It was the chief city of the Elymi, a people for whom Thucydides claimed a Trojan origin ; they are archaeologically indistinguishable in the Early Iron Age (c. –c. bc) from their Sicanian neighbours.

Anti-Syracusan sentiment is high in Athens Egesta, another ally of Athens, was under attack by Selinus which was aided by Syracuse this gave the Athenians a perfect excuse to intervene in Sicily Egesta offered to pay the full cost of the Athenian expedition, but Egesta was lying about the amount of money that she had available Athen decided.

Livy on the First Punic War - Livius