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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



10882
Thucydides, The History Of The Peloponnesian War, 1.68-1.71


nan'Lacedaemonians! the confidence which you feel in your constitution and social order, inclines you to receive any reflections of ours on other powers with a certain skepticism. Hence springs your moderation, but hence also the rather limited knowledge which you betray in dealing with foreign politics. 2 Time after time was our voice raised to warn you of the blows about to be dealt us by Athens, and time after time, instead of taking the trouble to ascertain the worth of our communications, you contented yourselves with suspecting the speakers of being inspired by private interest. And so, instead of calling these allies together before the blow fell, you have delayed to do so till we are smarting under it; allies among whom we have not the worst title to speak, as having the greatest complaints to make, complaints of Athenian outrage and Lacedaemonian neglect. 3 Now if these assaults on the rights of Hellas had been made in the dark you might be unacquainted with the facts, and it would be our duty to enlighten you. As it is, long speeches are not needed where you see servitude accomplished for some of us, meditated for others — in particular for our allies — and prolonged preparations in the aggressor against the hour of war. 4 Or what, pray, is the meaning of their reception of Corcyra by fraud, and their holding it against us by force? what of the siege of Potidaea? — places one of which lies most conveniently for any action against the Thracian towns; while the other would have contributed a very large navy to the Peloponnesians?


nannan, ‘Lacedaemonians! the confidence which you feel in your constitution and social order, inclines you to receive any reflections of ours on other powers with a certain skepticism. Hence springs your moderation, but hence also the rather limited knowledge which you betray in dealing with foreign politics. ,Time after time was our voice raised to warn you of the blows about to be dealt us by Athens, and time after time, instead of taking the trouble to ascertain the worth of our communications, you contented yourselves with suspecting the speakers of being inspired by private interest. And so, instead of calling these allies together before the blow fell, you have delayed to do so till we are smarting under it; allies among whom we have not the worst title to speak, as having the greatest complaints to make, complaints of Athenian outrage and Lacedaemonian neglect. ,Now if these assaults on the rights of Hellas had been made in the dark you might be unacquainted with the facts, and it would be our duty to enlighten you. As it is, long speeches are not needed where you see servitude accomplished for some of us, meditated for others—in particular for our allies—and prolonged preparations in the aggressor against the hour of war. ,Or what, pray, is the meaning of their reception of Corcyra by fraud, and their holding it against us by force? what of the siege of Potidaea ?—places one of which lies most conveniently for any action against the Thracian towns; while the other would have contributed a very large navy to the Peloponnesians?


nanFor all this you are responsible. You it was who first allowed them to fortify their city after the Median war, and afterwards to erect the Long Walls, — you who, then and now, are always depriving of freedom not only those whom they have enslaved, but also those who have as yet been your allies. For the true author of the subjugation of a people is not so much the immediate agent, as the power which permits it having the means to prevent it; particularly if that power aspires to the glory of being the liberator of Hellas. We are at last assembled. 2 It has not been easy to assemble, nor even now are our objects defined. We ought not to be still inquiring into the fact of our wrongs, but into the means of our defence. For the aggressors with matured plans to oppose to our indecision have cast threats aside and betaken themselves to action. 3 And we know what are the paths by which Athenian aggression travels, and how insidious is its progress. A degree of confidence she may feel from the idea that your bluntness of perception prevents your noticing her; but it is nothing to the impulse which her advance will receive from the knowledge that you see, but do not care to interfere. 4 You, Lacedaemonians, of all the Hellenes are alone inactive, and defend yourselves not by doing anything but by looking as if you would do something; you alone wait till the power of an enemy is becoming twice its original size, instead of crushing it in its infancy. 5 And yet the world used to say that you were to be depended upon; but in your case, we fear, it said more than the truth. The Mede, we ourselves know, had time to come from the ends of the earth to Peloponnese, without any force of yours worthy of the name advancing to meet him. But this was a distant enemy. Well, Athens at all events is a near neighbor, and yet Athens you utterly disregard; against Athens you prefer to act on the defensive instead of on the offensive, and to make it an affair of chances by deferring the struggle till she has grown far stronger than at first. And yet you know that on the whole the rock on which the barbarian was wrecked was himself, and that if our present enemy Athens has not again and again annihilated us, we owe it more to her blunders than to your protection. 6 Indeed, expectations from you have before now been the ruin of some, whose faith induced them to omit preparation. We hope that none of you will consider these words of remonstrance to be rather words of hostility; men remonstrate with friends who are in error, accusations they reserve for enemies who have wronged them.


nannan, For all this you are responsible. You it was who first allowed them to fortify their city after the Median war, and afterwards to erect the long walls,—you who, then and now, are always depriving of freedom not only those whom they have enslaved, but also those who have as yet been your allies. For the true author of the subjugation of a people is not so much the immediate agent, as the power which permits it having the means to prevent it; particularly if that power aspires to the glory of being the liberator of Hellas . We are at last assembled. ,It has not been easy to assemble, nor even now are our objects defined. We ought not to be still inquiring into the fact of our wrongs, but into the means of our defence. For the aggressors with matured plans to oppose to our indecision have cast threats aside and betaken themselves to action. ,And we know what are the paths by which Athenian aggression travels, and how insidious is its progress. A degree of confidence she may feel from the idea that your bluntness of perception prevents your noticing her; but it is nothing to the impulse which her advance will receive from the knowledge that you see, but do not care to interfere. ,You, Lacedaemonians, of all the Hellenes are alone inactive, and defend yourselves not by doing anything but by looking as if you would do something; you alone wait till the power of an enemy is becoming twice its original size, instead of crushing it in its infancy. ,And yet the world used to say that you were to be depended upon; but in your case, we fear, it said more than the truth. The Mede, we ourselves know, had time to come from the ends of the earth to Peloponnese, without any force of yours worthy of the name advancing to meet him. But this was a distant enemy. Well, Athens at all events is a near neighbor, and yet Athens you utterly disregard; against Athens you prefer to act on the defensive instead of on the offensive, and to make it an affair of chances by deferring the struggle till she has grown far stronger than at first. And yet you know that on the whole the rock on which the barbarian was wrecked was himself, and that if our present enemy Athens has not again and again annihilated us, we owe it more to her blunders than to your protection. ,Indeed, expectations from you have before now been the ruin of some, whose faith induced them to omit preparation. We hope that none of you will consider these words of remonstrance to be rather words of hostility; men remonstrate with friends who are in error, accusations they reserve for enemies who have wronged them.


nanBesides, we consider that we have as good a right as any one to point out a neighbor's faults, particularly when we contemplate the great contrast between the two national characters; a contrast of which, as far as we can see, you have little perception, having never yet considered what sort of antagonists you will encounter in the Athenians, how widely, how absolutely different from yourselves. 2 The Athenians are addicted to innovation, and their designs are characterized by swiftness alike in conception and execution; you have a genius for keeping what you have got, accompanied by a total want of invention, and when forced to act you never go far enough. 3 Again, they are adventurous beyond their power, and daring beyond their judgment, and in danger they are sanguine; your wont is to attempt less than is justified by your power, to mistrust even what is sanctioned by your judgment, and to fancy that from danger there is no release. 4 Further, there is promptitude on their side against procrastination on yours; they are never at home, you are never from it: for they hope by their absence to extend their acquisitions, you fear by your advance to endanger what you have left behind. 5 They are swift to follow up a success, and slow to recoil from a reverse. 6 Their bodies they spend ungrudgingly in their country's cause; their intellect they jealously husband to be employed in her service. 7 A scheme unexecuted is with them a positive loss, a successful enterprise a comparative failure. The deficiency created by the miscarriage of an undertaking is soon filled up by fresh hopes; for they alone are enabled to call a thing hoped for a thing got, by the speed with which they act upon their resolutions. 8 Thus they toil on in trouble and danger all the days of their life, with little opportunity for enjoying, being ever engaged in getting: their only idea of a holiday is to do what the occasion demands, and to them laborious occupation is less of a misfortune than the peace of a quiet life. 9 To describe their character in a word, one might truly say that they were born into the world to take no rest themselves and to give none to others.


nannan,Besides, we consider that we have as good a right as any one to point out a neighbor's faults, particularly when we contemplate the great contrast between the two national characters; a contrast of which, as far as we can see, you have little perception, having never yet considered what sort of antagonists you will encounter in the Athenians, how widely, how absolutely different from yourselves. ,The Athenians are addicted to innovation, and their designs are characterized by swiftness alike in conception and execution; you have a genius for keeping what you have got, accompanied by a total want of invention, and when forced to act you never go far enough. ,Again, they are adventurous beyond their power, and daring beyond their judgment, and in danger they are sanguine; your wont is to attempt less than is justified by your power, to mistrust even what is sanctioned by your judgment, and to fancy that from danger there is no release. ,Further, there is promptitude on their side against procrastination on yours; they are never at home, you are never from it: for they hope by their absence to extend their acquisitions, you fear by your advance to endanger what you have left behind. ,They are swift to follow up a success, and slow to recoil from a reverse. , Their bodies they spend ungrudgingly in their country's cause; their intellect they jealously husband to be employed in her service. ,A scheme unexecuted is with them a positive loss, a successful enterprise a comparative failure. The deficiency created by the miscarriage of an undertaking is soon filled up by fresh hopes; for they alone are enabled to call a thing hoped for a thing got, by the speed with which they act upon their resolutions. ,Thus they toil on in trouble and danger all the days of their life, with little opportunity for enjoying, being ever engaged in getting: their only idea of a holiday is to do what the occasion demands, and to them laborious occupation is less of a misfortune than the peace of a quiet life. ,To describe their character in a word, one might truly say that they were born into the world to take no rest themselves and to give none to others.


nanSuch is Athens, your antagonist. And yet, Lacedaemonians, you still delay, and fail to see that peace stays longest with those, who are not more careful to use their power justly than to show their determination not to submit to injustice. On the contrary, your ideal of fair dealing is based on the principle that if you do not injure others, you need not risk your own fortunes in preventing others from injuring you. 2 Now you could scarcely have succeeded in such a policy even with a neighbor like yourselves; but in the present instance, as we have just shown, your habits are old-fashioned as compared with theirs. 3 It is the law as in art, so in politics, that improvements ever prevail; and though fixed usages may be best for undisturbed communities, constant necessities of action must be accompanied by the constant improvement of methods. Thus it happens that the vast experience of Athens has carried her further than you on the path of innovation. 4 Here, at least, let your procrastination end. For the present, assist your allies and Potidaea in particular, as you promised, by a speedy invasion of Attica, and do not sacrifice friends and kindred to their bitterest enemies, and drive the rest of us in despair to some other alliance. 5 Such a step would not be condemned either by the gods who received our oaths, or by the men who witnessed them. The breach of a treaty cannot be laid to the people whom desertion compels to seek new relations, but to the power that fails to assist its confederate. 6 But if you will only act, we will stand by you; it would be unnatural for us to change, and never should we meet with such a congenial ally. 7 For these reasons choose the right course, and endeavor not to let Peloponnese under your supremacy degenerate from the prestige that it enjoyed under that of your ancestors.'


nannan, Such is Athens, your antagonist. And yet, Lacedaemonians, you still delay, and fail to see that peace stays longest with those, who are not more careful to use their power justly than to show their determination not to submit to injustice. On the contrary, your ideal of fair dealing is based on the principle that if you do not injure others, you need not risk your own fortunes in preventing others from injuring you. ,Now you could scarcely have succeeded in such a policy even with a neighbor like yourselves; but in the present instance, as we have just shown, your habits are old-fashioned as compared with theirs. ,It is the law as in art, so in politics, that improvements ever prevail; and though fixed usages may be best for undisturbed communities, constant necessities of action must be accompanied by the constant improvement of methods. Thus it happens that the vast experience of Athens has carried her further than you on the path of innovation. , Here, at least, let your procrastination end. For the present, assist your allies and Potidaea in particular, as you promised, by a speedy invasion of Attica, and do not sacrifice friends and kindred to their bitterest enemies, and drive the rest of us in despair to some other alliance. ,Such a step would not be condemned either by the gods who received our oaths, or by the men who witnessed them. The breach of a treaty cannot be laid to the people whom desertion compels to seek new relations, but to the power that fails to assist its confederate. ,But if you will only act, we will stand by you; it would be unnatural for us to change, and never should we meet with such a congenial ally. ,For these reasons choose the right course, and endeavor not to let Peloponnese under your supremacy degenerate from the prestige that it enjoyed under that of your ancestors.’


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

3 results
1. Hesiod, Works And Days, 618-694, 411 (8th cent. BCE - 7th cent. BCE)

411. In time when first your sickles for the field
2. Euripides, Suppliant Women, 306-310, 328-331, 343-345, 411, 954, 232 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

3. Thucydides, The History of The Peloponnesian War, 1.32-1.43, 1.69-1.88, 1.71.3, 1.76.2, 1.120, 1.124, 2.59, 2.65.7, 3.30, 3.37-3.48, 3.53-3.67, 4.59-4.64, 4.85-4.87, 4.92, 8.96.5 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

1.71.3. It is the law as in art, so in politics, that improvements ever prevail; and though fixed usages may be best for undisturbed communities, constant necessities of action must be accompanied by the constant improvement of methods. Thus it happens that the vast experience of Athens has carried her further than you on the path of innovation. 1.76.2. It follows that it was not a very wonderful action, or contrary to the common practice of mankind, if we did accept an empire that was offered to us, and refused to give it up under the pressure of three of the strongest motives, fear, honor, and interest. And it was not we who set the example, for it has always been the law that the weaker should be subject to the stronger. Besides, we believed ourselves to be worthy of our position, and so you thought us till now, when calculations of interest have made you take up the cry of justice—a consideration which no one ever yet brought forward to hinder his ambition when he had a chance of gaining anything by might. 2.65.7. He told them to wait quietly, to pay attention to their marine, to attempt no new conquests, and to expose the city to no hazards during the war, and doing this, promised them a favorable result. What they did was the very contrary, allowing private ambitions and private interests, in matters apparently quite foreign to the war, to lead them into projects unjust both to themselves and to their allies—projects whose success would only conduce to the honor and advantage of private persons, and whose failure entailed certain disaster on the country in the war. 8.96.5. But here, as on so many other occasions the Lacedaemonians proved the most convenient people in the world for the Athenians to be at war with. The wide difference between the two characters, the slowness and want of energy of the Lacedaemonians as contrasted with the dash and enterprise of their opponents, proved of the greatest service, especially to a maritime empire like Athens . Indeed this was shown by the Syracusans, who were most like the Athenians in character, and also most successful in combating them.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
agricultural calendar Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
agriculture, as a metapoetic metaphor in hesiod Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
alcibiades Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 259, 449
athenagoras Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 524
athenian character Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 141
athens Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
attica Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 669
authority, poetic Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
brasidas Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
cleon Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
contingency Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
corcyra Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 259, 524, 669
corcyraeans Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 259
corinth Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 259, 471, 669
corinthian gulf Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 449
corinthians Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 141
debate Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
democracy and monarchy, debate between theseus and theban herald on Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
diodotus Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
epidamnos Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 259
epitaphios Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
eris Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
eros, patriotic Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
food Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
hesiod Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
hipparchos (son of peisistratus) Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 669
historiography, canon of Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
justice Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
leucimme Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 259
mantinea, battle of Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 471
monarchy and democracy, debate between theseus and theban herald on Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
narrative Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
nicias Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 218, 449
peloponnesian war Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
pericles Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269; Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
perses Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
philosopher, political Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
phormio Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 218, 449
poetry, and aristocratic power Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
politics, eros, patriotic Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
rhetoric Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
sicilian debate Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 218
sicilian expedition Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 449, 471
sicily Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 471
speeches Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
suppliant women aithras intercession with theseus in Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
suppliant women theban herald, debate on democracy and monarchy between theseus and Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
suppliant women war, deliberation of Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
teutiaplus Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
thucydides, mytilenean debate Kingsley Monti and Rood, The Authoritative Historian: Tradition and Innovation in Ancient Historiography (2022) 269
thucydides, son of melesias, audience, reader Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 471
thucydides Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
timeliness Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
trojan war, the Kirichenko, Greek Literature and the Ideal: The Pragmatics of Space from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Age (2022) 88
tukhe(chance)' Pucci, Euripides' Revolution Under Cover: An Essay (2016) 118
women Papaioannou Serafim and Demetriou, The Ancient Art of Persuasion across Genres and Topics (2019) 92
xenophon, ps.-xenophon, ath. pol. Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 141