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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   


but see it, is just what we stand most in need of at the present
juncture.
"I suppose that no one will dispute that we went to war at first
in order to serve our own several interests, that we are now, in
view of the same interests, debating how we can make peace; and that
if we separate without having as we think our rights, we shall go to
war again. And yet, as men of sense, we ought to see that our separate
interests are not alone at stake in the present congress: there is
also the question whether we have still time to save Sicily, the whole
of which in my opinion is menaced by Athenian ambition; and we ought
to find in the name of that people more imperious arguments for
peace than any which I can advance, when we see the first power in
Hellas watching our mistakes with the few ships that she has at
present in our waters, and under the fair name of alliance
speciously seeking to turn to account the natural hostility that
exists between us. If we go to war, and call in to help us a people
that are ready enough to carry their arms even where they are not
invited; and if we injure ourselves at our own expense, and at the
same time serve as the pioneers of their dominion, we may expect, when
they see us worn out, that they will one day come with a larger
armament, and seek to bring all of us into subjection.
"And yet as sensible men, if we call in allies and court danger,
it should be in order to enrich our different countries with new
acquisitions, and not to ruin what they possess already; and we should
understand that the intestine discords which are so fatal to
communities generally, will be equally so to Sicily, if we, its
inhabitants, absorbed in our local quarrels, neglect the common enemy.
These considerations should reconcile individual with individual,
and city with city, and unite us in a common effort to save the
whole of Sicily. Nor should any one imagine that the Dorians only
are enemies of Athens, while the Chalcidian race is secured by its
Ionian blood; the attack in question is not inspired by hatred of
one of two nationalities, but by a desire for the good things in
Sicily, the common property of us all. This is proved by the
Athenian reception of the Chalcidian invitation: an ally who has never
given them any assistance whatever, at once receives from them
almost more than the treaty entitles him to. That the Athenians should
cherish this ambition and practise this policy is very excusable;
and I do not blame those who wish to rule, but those who are
over-ready to serve. It is just as much in men's nature to rule
those who submit to them, as it is to resist those who molest them;
one is not less invariable than the other. Meanwhile all who see these
dangers and refuse to provide for them properly, or who have come here
without having made up their minds that our first duty is to unite
to get rid of the common peril, are mistaken. The quickest way to be
rid of it is to make peace with each other; since the Athenians menace
us not from their own country, but from that of those who invited them
here. In this way instead of war issuing in war, peace quietly ends
our quarrels; and the guests who come hither under fair pretences
for bad ends, will have good reason for going away without having
attained them.
"So far as regards the Athenians, such are the great advantages
proved inherent in a wise policy. Independently of this, in the face
of the universal consent, that peace is the first of blessings, how
can we refuse to make it amongst ourselves; or do you not think that
the good which you have, and the ills that you complain of, would be
better preserved and cured by quiet than by war; that peace has its
honours and splendours of a less perilous kind, not to mention the
numerous other blessings that one might dilate on, with the not less
numerous miseries of war? These considerations should teach you not to
disregard my words, but rather to look in them every one for his own
safety. If there be any here who feels certain either by right or
might to effect his object, let not this surprise be to him too severe
a disappointment. Let him remember that many before now have tried

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