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Joshua Nudell Truman State University, Kirksville, MO, United States

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Abstract

Histories of the Sicilian Expedition usually focus on Athens, and with good reason: Athens supplied the largest number of ships, all the leaders were Athenians, and Thucydides' account is constructed as an Athenian tragedy that largely subsumes the allies into the crowd of soldiers. Moreover, it was in the aftermath of the disaster that the Aegean poleis slipped through the Athenian grasp. Scholars have offered explanations for the outbreak of the Ionian War that range from anti-Athenian sentiment stemming from wartime measures like the Standards Decree that primed the Athenians to reject Athenian hegemony to a change in Persian policy to an ephemeral mood. When they invoke Sicily, it is to follow Diodorus Siculus in arguing that the failure created contempt for Athenian hegemony (τὴν ἡγεμονίαν αὐτῶν καταφρονηθῆναι, 13. 34. 1). Another cause of the Ionian War, however, has received too little attention: the Ionians who fought in Sicily. In this paper I re-evaluate the Sicilian Expedition from the perspective of the non-Athenians, and particularly the Ionians. These contributions have traditionally been underestimated because Thucydides implies that they had fallen out of practice with warfare and were thus complicit in their own subjugation. Nevertheless, Thucydides' history is littered with accounts of Ionian soldiers fighting far from home, up to and including in the Sicilian Expedition (Thuc. 7. 20. 2; 7. 57. 3). Re-evaluating the evidence for Ionian contributions to the Athenian war effort in turn complicates straightforward assessments of the popularity of the empire and opens the possibility that it was not only Athenian weakness but also the costs borne by the allies that led the Ionians to put in motion the events that led to revolt.

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