Some historians consider the defeat to have been the turning point in the war, though Athens continued to fight for another decade.
Athens managed to recover remarkably well from the expedition materially, with the principle issue being the loss of manpower rather than the loss of ships.
To small Sicilian cities, Athens was a potential counter to the powerful city of Syracuse, which was strong enough to potentially dominate the island.
The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure—political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a massive armada, and the expedition's primary proponent, Alcibiades, was recalled from command to stand trial before the fleet even reached Sicily. Syracuse, the most powerful state in Sicily, responded exceptionally slowly to the Athenian threat and, as a result, was almost completely invested before the arrival of back up in the form of Spartan general, Gylippus, who galvanized its inhabitants into action.
From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted.
He described the wealth and power of the Sicilian cities Athens would be challenging, and stated that a larger expedition than previously approved would be required, expecting that the prospect of approving such a massive expenditure would prove unappealing to the citizenry. His misreading of the assembly had altered the strategic situation; whereas the loss of 60 ships would have been painful but bearable, the loss of the larger force would be catastrophic.