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For The Megapolitans   


{2} As it is, if one could alter the fact that they
are known to us, and that they speak the dialect of Attica, I believe that many
would imagine that those on the one side actually were Arcadians, and those on
the other, Spartans. For my part, I see plainly enough the difficulty of
offering the best advice. For you, like them, are deluded, in your desire for
one extreme or the other: and one who endeavours to propose an intermediate
course, which you will not have the patience to understand, will satisfy neither
side and will forfeit the confidence of both.

{3} But in spite of this, I shall
prefer, for my own part, to risk being regarded as an idle chatterer (if such is
really to be my lot), rather than to abandon my conviction as to what is best
for Athens, and leave you to the mercy of those who would deceive you. And while
I shall deal with all other points later, by your leave, I shall take for my
starting-point, in explaining the course which I believe to be best, those
principles which are admitted by all.

{4} There can be no possible question that it is to the interest of the city
that both the Spartans and these Thebans should be weak; and the present
situation, if one may judge at all from what has constantly been asserted in
your presence, is such, that if Orchomenus, Thespiae, and Plataeae[n] are re-
established, Thebes becomes weak; and that if the Spartans can reduce Arcadia to
subjection and destroy Megalopolis, Sparta will recover her former strength.

{5} We must, therefore, take care not to allow the Spartans to attain a formidable
degree of strength, before the Thebans have become insignificant, lest there
should take place, unobserved by us, such an increase in the power of Sparta as
would be out of proportion to the decrease in the power of Thebes which our
interests demand. For it is, of course, out of the question that we should
desire merely to substitute the rivalry of Sparta for that of Thebes: that is
not the object upon which we are bent. Our object is rather that neither people
shall be capable of doing us any injury. That is what will best enable us to
live in security.

{6} But, granted that this is what ought to be, still, we are told, it is a
scandalous thing to choose for our allies the men against whom we were arrayed
at Mantineia, and further, to help them against those whose perils we shared
that day. I agree; but I think that we need to insert the condition, 'provided
that the two parties are willing to act rightly.'

{7} For if all alike prove
willing to keep the peace, we shall not go to the aid of the Megalopolitans,
since there will be no need to do so; and so there will be no hostility whatever
on our part towards our former comrades in battle. They are already our allies,
as they tell us; and now the Arcadians will become our allies as well. What more
could we desire?

{8} But suppose they act wrongfully and think fit to make war.
In that case, if the question before us is whether we are to abandon Megalopolis
to Sparta or not, then I say that, wrong though it is, I will acquiesce in our
permitting this, and declining to oppose our former companions in danger. But if
you all know that, after capturing Megalopolis, they will march against Messene,
let me ask any of those who are now so harshly disposed towards Megalopolis to
say what action he will _then_ advise. No answer will be given.

{9} In fact you
all know that, whether they advise it or not, we _must_ then go to the rescue,
both because of the oath which we have sworn to the Messenians, and because our
interests demand the continued existence of that city. Ask yourselves, then, on
which occasion you can most honourably and generously interpose to check the
aggressions of Sparta--in defence of Megalopolis, or in defence of Messene?

{10}
On the present occasion it will be understood that you are succouring the

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