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Sicilian expedition

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  Quote ironwill Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Sicilian expedition
    Posted: 21-Aug-2005 at 17:29
What do you think went wrong with such a well thought plan for Athens and resulted to the destruction of the Sicilian Expedition? Was it solely the betrayal of Alcibiades, the mind behind the expedition or were other factors behind? How important to the final outcome was the presence of Gylippus? Any thoughts would be welcome.
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  Quote Perseas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2005 at 13:20

I dont believe it was a well-thought plan as you said in first place, neither that the absence of Alkibiades had a decisive role in the defeat of Athenean army. I am all for putting the blame to Nikias hesitancy and lack of initiatives. Nikias had the chance to finish victorious the Sicilian expedition but series of bad decisions were determinant for the Athenean disaster.

Syracousans had the luck to have with their side, capable and efficient generals like Hermocrates, the Corinthean Pythen but mostly Gyllipos changed the whole upshot of the war. From the other hand, the Athenean army had the bad luck of losing Lamachos too early, living Nikias alone as general taking alone all the decisions. From the reinforcements that came later, Demosthenes was an exceptional general with many achievements in his career and he gathered too many valuable characteristics missing from Nikias personality but my take is that he came to Sicily too late. Had he be in Sicily from the start i have no doubt that Atheneans would have won the Sicily expedition.

A mathematician is a person who thinks that if there are supposed to be three people in a room, but five come out, then two more must enter the room in order for it to be empty.
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  Quote Belisarius Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22-Aug-2005 at 21:45
The idea behind the invasion of Syracuse was actually not a bad one. The added resources would have allowed Athens to simply overwhelm the Spartans. The problem was that they sent everything they had against Syracuse, meaning that if it turned into a disaster, they would have nothing left to fight the Spartans and their allies. Unfortunately, it did.

A big factor in the Athenian defeat was the presence of Spartan advisors. These Spartans had been fighting the Athenians for years and knew how and when to hit them. The Spartans trained the army of Syracuse, which before had been disorganized and inexperienced. All other factors acknowledged, the Athenians could have still won if the Spartans were not there.
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  Quote Ahmed The Fighter Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Aug-2005 at 03:19

 This expedition was the begining of the end of Athenean empire,They approached from their target Demosthenes occupied the city but poatia soldiers hide behined a hill and waiting the Athenean to lose their order when the  athenean did they attacked them and the Athenean defeated,Before that the athenean leader nicias was too weak and not fit to command this army in this operation, Alcibiades had a good share in this batlle he fled to sparta but in fact he must go to athens to judge him and encouraged the spartan to send a fleet to help Syracouse  Gylippus led this fleet and sailed to Sicilia,I think Gylippus reinforcement and Nicias weakness were the main reasons.

this bttle is one of great decisive battle in whole history if the Athenean won in it they will gain italy and all Europe instead Rome and the greek language will be the main language instead Latin

"May the eyes of cowards never sleep"
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  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 06:46

Very good thinking, Ahmed. Yes, I also believe that the Sicilian expedition was the most decisive point (along with the Persian and the Punic wars) in the whole ancient history of this part of the world.

Had the Athenians won and conquered Syracusae, the whole Sicily would fall. Sparta would follow soon, and the Athenian hegemony would become an actual empire in no time. After that, the Athenians (and not the Romans) would fight the punic wars with Carthago and lots of things woudl be very different than they are now.

Regarding the initial question, the plan conceived by Alkiviades  was brilliant and it only needed some firm leadership to become a great victory. Nikias was not capable of that kind of leadership, Alkiviades gave his valuable advice to the Spartan and not his countrymen after they tried to call him back and the rest is history.

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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2005 at 21:22

Originally posted by Alkiviades

Had the Athenians won and conquered Syracusae, the whole Sicily would fall.

So sure?

Many more powerful Greek cities lied along the eastern coast of Sicily, standing in Athen's way.  On top of that, the Carthaginians and their western cities certainly wouldn't have stood by for long during an Athenian invasion of the island.  The Selinus-Segestan incident reveals that the Carthaginians were willing to strike at the Greeks. 

Athens would have war on multiple fronts:  Sparta and her allies would still be far from defeat, and Carthaginians, feeling threatened, would be sure to strike.

τρέφεται δέ, ὤ Σώκρατης, ψυχὴ τίνι;
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  Quote Alkiviades Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2005 at 04:01

Hi Lannes

Syracusae was by far the strongest city in Sicily and the main outpost of the Dorian sicilians. Many of the other Greek sicilians were Ionians and therefore rather close to the Athenians. Had Syracusae fallen, even the unwilling would have to join the Athenian hegemony, feeling that their time was due otherwise.

I don't think the Karthagenians would be a match for the Athenians at that point.  A couple of decades later, with Karthago at it's peak of power and wealth, Dionysios of Syracusae sacked all but one of the Karthagenians cities in Sicily, and managed to defeat the Karthagenians in consequitive wars. And that was Syracusae alone, after having alienated most of the other Greeks, not an all-powerfull semi-empire like the Athenian.

As for Sparta and her allies, you should not forget that they depended for their survival on the grain imported by Sicily through Syracusae. The Athenians gave up on the war a few years later, when the Spartans and their allies managed to control their grain trade route, from Skythia via the Bosporous. What makes you think the Spartans could deal with hunger better than the Athenians?

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  Quote Lannes Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-Sep-2005 at 22:53

Originally posted by Alkiviades

I don't think the Karthagenians would be a match for the Athenians at that point.  A couple of decades later, with Karthago at it's peak of power and wealth, Dionysios of Syracusae sacked all but one of the Karthagenians cities in Sicily, and managed to defeat the Karthagenians in consequitive wars. And that was Syracusae alone, after having alienated most of the other Greeks, not an all-powerfull semi-empire like the Athenian.

Dionysius never actually actually won any of his wars with Carthage.  In his first attack as strategos autokrator, he was fended off by the Carthaginian commander, Himilco, when Dionysius had attempted to relieve Gela. After this, the Eastern Greeks had come to the point of certain defeat, and were only saved when a plague hit Himilco's army (resulting in a peace treaty).  A half decade later, Dionysius took the Carthaginian town of Motya, but the town was quickly recaptured upon Himilco's return, after which he again marched to the gates of Syracuse, and was again only stoped by a plague. 

The Carthaginians had been striking through their Greek neighbors in Sicily as they pleased since 408.

Don't fail to take into account either the affect prolonged war in Sicily would've had on the Athenian economic reserve.

As for Sparta and her allies, you should not forget that they depended for their survival on the grain imported by Sicily through Syracusae. The Athenians gave up on the war a few years later, when the Spartans and their allies managed to control their grain trade route, from Skythia via the Bosporous. What makes you think the Spartans could deal with hunger better than the Athenians?

Sparta was hardly alone in her effort against Athens on the mainland though.  Corinth, various Boeotian cities, etc. and of course Persian funding were all factors working against Athens there.  Not to mention that they would also be in their struggle with the natives, Carthaginians, and various Greeks in Sicily simultaneously.

τρέφεται δέ, ὤ Σώκρατης, ψυχὴ τίνι;
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