Sicilian a airs in the years between 422 and 415 are conspicuously absent and either they did not capture the interest of ucydides or there was no source available to him for events there.6 Nonetheless, the silence in the text for the remainder of what we possess as the h book is as a result rather ominous, since it is precisely that lack of any real connection with Sicily or its cities that became almost the pivotal theme in questioning the logic of undertaking what became for the Athenians a catastrophe of the greatest magnitude. An intentional stylistic construction may therefore be present in the narrative and prepares the audience for the ignorance displayed by the Athenian demos about Sicily, its inhabitants and the di culty of waging a war in this region. It is obvious that the vast majority of Athenians would have had no experience or rst-hand knowledge of Sicily or Syracuse and hence relied on what they heard in the assembly, in the agora, or from those who traded or visited the island. So the factor of uncertainty of what lay beyond the horizon was always bound to in uence the citizen body, but the Greeks as a whole had never shied away from adventure and therefore the opposing emotions of caution and impetuosity were built into ucydides’ narrative as the debate over a major overseas expedition developed.7 us as Brock and others before him have shown, in the editing of the text ucydides had already inserted (2.65.1) his opinion of the signi cance of the Sicilian expedition and its e ect on Athenian fortunes. e extensive coverage of the Melian a air (5.84-116) was probably also meant as a preparation for the account of the attack on Syracuse, with its focus on the fate of defeated parties in time of war, a theme that had already occupied the historian’s attention when he covered the stasis in Corcyra a decade earlier.8