(6.25) At last an Athenian came forward and, calling upon Nicias, said that they would have no more excuses and delays; he must speak out and say what forces the people were to vote him. He replied, with some unwillingness, that he would prefer to consider the matter at leisure with his colleagues, but that, as far as he could see at present, they ought to have at least a hundred triremes of their own; of these a certain number might be used as transports,25 and they must order more triremes from their allies. Of heavy-armed troops they would require in all, including Athenians and allies, not less than five thousand, and more if they could possibly have them; the rest of the armament must be in proportion, and should comprise archers to be procured both at home and from Crete, and slingers. These forces, and whatever else seemed to be required, the generals would make ready before they started.
(6.26) Upon this the Athenians at once decreed that the generals should be empowered to act as they thought best in the interest of the state respecting the numbers of the army and the whole management of the expedition. Then the preparations began. Lists for service were made up at home and orders given to the allies. The city had newly recovered from the plague and from the constant pressure of war; a new population had grown up; there had been time for the accumulation of money during the peace; so that there was abundance of everything at command.
(6.27) While they were in the midst of their preparations, the Hermae or square stone figures carved after the ancient Athenian fashion, and standing everywhere at the doorways both of temples and private houses, in one night had nearly all of them throughout the city their faces mutilated. The offenders were not known, but great rewards were publicly offered for their detection, and a decree was passed that any one, whether citizen, stranger, or slave, might without fear of punishment disclose this or any other profanation of which he was cognisant. The Athenians took the matter greatly to heart--it seemed to them ominous of the fate of the expedition; and they ascribed it to conspirators who wanted to effect a revolution and to overthrow the democracy.
(6.28) Certain metics and servants gave information, not indeed about the Hermae, but about the mutilation of other statues which had shortly before been perpetrated by some young men in a drunken frolic: they also said that the mysteries were repeatedly profaned by the celebration of them in private houses, and of this impiety they accused, among others, Alcibiades. A party who were jealous of his influence over the people, which interfered with the permanent establishment of their own, thinking that if they could get rid of him they would be supreme,26 took up and exaggerated the charges against him, clamorously insisting that both the mutilation of the Hermae and the profanation of the mysteries were part of a conspiracy against the democracy, and that he was at the bottom of the whole affair. In proof they alleged the excesses of his ordinary life, which were unbecoming in the citizen of a free state.
(6.29) He strove then and there to clear himself of the charges, and also offered to be tried before he sailed (for all was now ready), in order that, if he were guilty, he might be punished, and if acquitted, might retain his command. He adjured his countrymen to listen to no calumnies which might be propagated against him in his absence; and he protested that they would be wiser in not sending a man who had so serious an imputation hanging over him on a command so important. But his enemies feared that if the trial took place at once he would have the support of the army; and that the people would be lenient, and would not forget that27 he had induced the Argives and some Mantineans to join in the expedition. They therefore exerted themselves to postpone the trial. To this end they suborned fresh speakers, who proposed that he should sail now and not delay the expedition, but should return and stand his trial within a certain number of days. Their intention was that he should be recalled and tried when they had stirred up a stronger feeling against him, which they could better do in his absence. So it was decided that Alcibiades should sail.