Front Matter Wonderland The Great God Pan The Six Pomegranate Seeds The Birth of Athene The Two Weavers The Purple Flowers Danae and Her Little Son The Quest of Perseus Andromeda and Sea-Monster Acrisius Killed by Perseus Achilles and Briseis Menelaus and Paris Do Battle Hector and Andromache The Horses of Achilles The Death of Hector Polyphemus the Giant Odysseus Escapes from Cave Odysseus Returns to Ithaca Argus the Hound Dies The Bow of Odysseus The Land of Hellas Lycurgus and His Nephew Lycurgus Returns to Sparta Training of the Spartans The Helots Aristomenes and the Fox The Olympian Games The Last King of Athens Cylon Fails to be Tyrant Solon Frees the Slaves Athenians Take Salamis Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant Harmodius and Aristogiton The Law of Ostracism The Bridge of Boats Darius Rewards Histiaeus Histiaeus Shaves His Slave Sardis Is Destroyed Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus Earth and Water Battle of Marathon Miltiades Sails to Paros Aristides is Ostracised The Dream of Xerxes Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont Bravest Men of All Hellas Battle of Thermopylae Battle of Artemisium Themistocles at Salamis Themistocles Tricks Admirals Battle of Salamis Battle of Plataea Delian League Themistocles Deceives Spartans Themistocles is Ostracised Eloquence of Pericles Pericles and Elpinice The City of Athens Great Men of Athens Thebans Attack Plataeans Attica Invaded by Spartans Last Words of Pericles Siege of Plataea The Sentence of Death Brasidas Loses His Shield The Spartans Surrender Brasidas the Spartan Amphipolus Surrenders Alcibiades the Favourite Socrates the Philosopher Alcibiades Praises Socrates Images of Hermes Destroyed Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta The Siege of Syracuse Athenian Army is Destroyed Alcibiades Returns to Athens Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades Walls of Athens Destroyed March of the Ten Thousand Pelopidas and Epaminondas Seven Conspirators Battle of Leuctra Death of Epaminondas The Two Brothers Timoleon exiles Dionysius Icetes Attacks Timoleon Battle of Crimisus Demosthenes' Wish Greatest Orator of Athens The Sacred War Alexander and Bucephalus Alexander and Diogenes Battle of Granicus The Gordian Knot Darius Gallops from Battle Tyre Stormed by Alexander Battle of Gaugamela Alexander Burns Persepolis Alexander Slays Foster-Brother Porus and His Elephant Alexander Is Wounded The Death of Alexander Demosthenes in the Temple

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

The Images of Hermes Are Destroyed

In the island of Sicily there were many different states. In some of these dwelt Greeks who owned Corinth as their mother-city. Trade between Sicily and Corinth was good, and because of this Corinth was growing more powerful than Athens liked.

War broke out in 416 B.C. between Segesta and Selinus, two cities in the west of Sicily. When Selinus was joined by another town named Syracuse, the Segestans in dismay sent to the Athenians to ask for their help.

It had long been the ambition of Alcibiades to conquer Sicily. He believed, too, that it would add to the glory of Athens if the island became part of the Athenian empire.

So he now urged the assembly to send a fleet to Sicily, reminding them that if it could conquer Syracuse, it would then be in its power to ruin the trade of Corinth with Sicily.

He did not tell the Athenians how great his ambitions were, but he told them enough to make them wish to help the Segestans, that they might in this way gain new territory for Athens.

The assembly made up its mind to send ambassadors to Segesta, to find out if the town was able, as she said she was, to provide money to carry on the war, if the Athenians provided soldiers.

When the ambassadors returned in the spring of 415 B.C. they brought back with them a sum of money from the grateful Segestans. They reported, too, that the wealth of the city was far greater than they had dreamed. But although the ambassadors did not know until too late, they had been deceived by the townsfolk.

For the rich plate and splendid ornaments with which the Segestans had adorned each feast to which the ambassadors had been invited, were taken secretly from house to house. So that the gold and silver dishes that dazzled the eyes of the Athenians were always the same, although they believed that each of their hosts owned the splendid dishes with which his table was laden.

The sacred treasures of their temples, too, the Segestans pretended were of gold, while in reality they were of silver.

But the ambassadors were convinced that the people they had visited were rich, and their report made the Athenians ready to do as Alcibiades and his party wished. So it was agreed that sixty vessels should be sent to the help of Segesta.

Nicias, bent as ever on peace, did all he could to hinder the expedition. But when, in spite of all he could say, the assembly still determined to send a fleet to Sicily, he persuaded it at least to increase the number of ships from sixty to a hundred. Nicias himself, along with Lamachus and Alcibiades, was appointed commander of the expedition.

But the night before the fleet was to sail a strange event took place.

All over the city, at the corner of streets, in some niche of a public building, in front of the houses of the citizens, stood statues or busts of the god Hermes, on short pedestals or pillars.

These figures were reverenced by the Athenians, just as the image of the Madonna by the roadside or in villages and towns abroad is worshipped by Roman Catholics.

On the night before the expedition the statues of Hermes were chipped and broken, so that the god could no longer be recognized.

In the morning as the Athenians went along the streets of the city, bent on their usual business, these poor defaced images stared them in the face. Little groups gathered at street corners, before public buildings, wherever they had been used to see the statues of Hermes. At first they gazed at their mutilated god in fear, but fear soon changed to anger.

Who had dared to do this impious thing, they asked one another. It would surely bring down the wrath of the gods on the Sicilian expedition.

It was perhaps natural that the people should suspect their favourite Alcibiades. Was he not often reckless and ever a mischief maker? They were too excited to remember that he was not likely to do anything to delay the expedition on which his heart was set.

When he heard that the people thought that he had defaced the images, Alcibiades demanded to be brought to trial. But no proof had yet been found of his guilt, and it was decided that the fleet should sail, and that Alcibiades should go with it.