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For The Megapolitans   


only by the Spartans, if they are ready to act honourably, but by all who
disapprove of allowing Thebes to retain what is not her own. But even if it were
made quite plain to us, that without allowing Sparta to subdue the Peloponnese,
we should not be able to take Oropus, I should still think it preferable, if I
may dare to say so, to let Oropus go, rather than sacrifice Messene and the
Peloponnese to Sparta. For our quarrel with them would not, I believe, be
confined to this; since--I will not say what occurs to me; but there are many
risks which we should run.

{19} But, to pass on, it is a monstrous thing to use the hostile actions which,
they say, the Megalopolitans committed against us, under the influence of
Thebes, as a ground of accusation against them to-day; and, when they wish to be
friends and so atone for their action by doing us good, to look askance at them,
to seek for some way of avoiding their friendship, to refuse to recognize that
in proportion to the zeal which my opponents can prove the Megalopolitans to
have shown in supporting Thebes will be the resentment to which my opponents
themselves will deservedly be exposed, for depriving the city of such allies as
these, when they have appealed to you before appealing to Thebes.

{20} Such a
policy is surely the policy of men who wish to make the Arcadians for the second
time the allies of others. And so far as one can forecast the future by
calculation, I am sure, and I believe that most of you will agree with me, that
if the Spartans take Megalopolis, Messene will be in peril; and if they take
Messene also, then I predict that we shall find ourselves allies of Thebes.[n]

{21} It is a far more honourable, a far better, course that we should ourselves
take over the Theban confederacy,[n] refusing to leave the field open to the
cupidity of the Spartans, than that we should be so afraid of protecting the
allies of Thebes, as first to sacrifice them, and then to save Thebes itself;
and, in addition, to be in a state of apprehension for our own safety.

{22} For
if the Spartans capture Megalopolis and become a great power once more, the
prospect, as I conceive it, is not one which this city can view without alarm.
For I can see that even now they are determining to go to war, not to prevent
any evil which threatens them, but to recover their own ancient power: and what
their aims were when they possessed that power, you, I think, know[n] perhaps
better than I, and with that knowledge may well be alarmed.

{23} Now I should be glad if the speakers who profess their hatred for Thebes on
the one side, or for Sparta on the other, would tell me if their professed
hatred is based on consideration for you and your interests, or whether the one
party hates Thebes from an interest in Sparta, and the other Sparta from an
interest in Thebes. If the latter is the case, you should not listen to either,
but treat them as insane: but if the former, why this inordinate exaltation of
one side or the other?

{24} For it is possible, perfectly possible, to humiliate
Thebes without rendering Sparta powerful. Indeed, it is by far the easier
course; and I will try to tell you how it can be done. We all know that, however
unwilling men may be to do what is right, yet up to a certain point they are
ashamed not to do so, and that they withstand wrongdoers openly, particularly if
there are any who receive damage through the wrong done: and we shall find that
what ruins everything and is the source of all evil is the unwillingness to do
what is right without reserve.

{25} Now in order that no such obstacle may stand
in the way of the humiliation of Thebes, let us demand the re-establishment of
Thespiae, Orchomenus, and Plataeae, co-operating with their citizens ourselves,
and requiring others to do so; for the principle of refusing to allow ancient
cities to lie desolate is a right and honourable one. But let us at the same
time decline to abandon Megalopolis and Messene to the aggressors, or to suffer
the destruction of existing and inhabited cities, on the pretext of restoring

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