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For The Megapolitans   


Plataeae and Thespiae.

{26} Then, if our policy is made plain to all, there is
no one who will not wish to terminate the Thebans' occupation of territory not
their own. But if it is not, not only will our designs be opposed by the
Arcadians, in the belief that the restoration of these towns carries with it
their own ruin, but we shall have troubles without end. For, honestly, where can
we expect to reach an end, when we permit the annihilation of existing cities,
and require the restoration of those that have been annihilated?

{27} It is demanded by those whose speeches display the strongest appearance of
fairness, that the Megalopolitans shall take down the pillars[n] which
commemorate their alliance with Thebes, if they are to be trustworthy allies of
Athens. The Megalopolitans reply that for them it is not pillars, but interest,
that creates friendship; and that it is those who help them, that they consider
to be their allies. Well, that may be their attitude. Nevertheless, my own view
is, roughly speaking, this:--I say that we should simultaneously require the
Megalopolitans to take down the pillars, and the Spartans to keep the peace: and
that in the event of either side refusing to fulfil our request, we should at
once take the part of those who are willing to fulfil it.

{28} For if the
Megalopolitans obtain peace, and yet adhere to the Theban alliance, it will be
clear to all that they prefer the grasping policy of Thebes to that which is
right. If, on the other hand, Megalopolis makes alliance frankly with us, and
the Spartans then refuse to keep the peace, it will surely be clear to all that
what the Spartans desire so eagerly is not the re-establishment of Thespiae, but
an opportunity of subduing the Peloponnese while the Thebans are involved in the
war.[n]

{29} And I am surprised to find that there are some who are alarmed at
the prospect of the enemies of Sparta becoming allies of Thebes, and yet see
nothing to fear in the subjugation of these enemies by Sparta herself; whereas
the experience of the past can teach us that the Thebans always use such allies
against Sparta, while, when Sparta had them, she used to use them against us.

{30} There is another point which I think you should consider. Suppose that you
reject the overtures of the Megalopolitans. If they are annihilated and
dispersed, Sparta can recover her power at once. If they actually survive--for
things have happened before now beyond all hope--they will quite rightly be the
firm allies of Thebes. But suppose you receive them. Then the immediate result,
so far as they are concerned, is that they are saved by you: and as to the
future, let us now transfer our calculation of possible risks to the case of the
Thebans and Spartans.

{31} If the Thebans are crushed, as they ought to be, the
Spartans will not be unduly powerful, for they will always have these Arcadians
at their doors to hold them in check. But if the Thebans actually recover and
survive the attack, they will at least be weaker; for the Arcadians will have
become our allies, and will owe their preservation to us. Thus on every ground
it is to our interest not to sacrifice the Arcadians, nor to let them think that
their deliverance, if they are really saved, is due to themselves, or to any
other people than you.

{32} And now, men of Athens, I solemnly declare that what I have said has been
prompted by no personal feeling, friendly or hostile, towards either side. I
have told you only what I believe to be expedient for you; and I exhort you not
to sacrifice the people of Megalopolis, and to make it your rule, never to
sacrifice a smaller power to a greater.

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