Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Thucydides
Pages of History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV

Previous | Next

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   

to chastise a wrongdoer, and failing to punish their enemy have not
even saved themselves; while many who have trusted in force to gain an
advantage, instead of gaining anything more, have been doomed to
lose what they had. Vengeance is not necessarily successful because
wrong has been done, or strength sure because it is confident; but the
incalculable element in the future exercises the widest influence, and
is the most treacherous, and yet in fact the most useful of all
things, as it frightens us all equally, and thus makes us consider
before attacking each other.
"Let us therefore now allow the undefined fear of this unknown
future, and the immediate terror of the Athenians' presence, to
produce their natural impression, and let us consider any failure to
carry out the programmes that we may each have sketched out for
ourselves as sufficiently accounted for by these obstacles, and send
away the intruder from the country; and if everlasting peace be
impossible between us, let us at all events make a treaty for as
long a term as possible, and put off our private differences to
another day. In fine, let us recognize that the adoption of my
advice will leave us each citizens of a free state, and as such
arbiters of our own destiny, able to return good or bad offices with
equal effect; while its rejection will make us dependent on others,
and thus not only impotent to repel an insult, but on the most
favourable supposition, friends to our direst enemies, and at feud
with our natural friends.
"For myself, though, as I said at first, the representative of a
great city, and able to think less of defending myself than of
attacking others, I am prepared to concede something in prevision of
these dangers. I am not inclined to ruin myself for the sake of
hurting my enemies, or so blinded by animosity as to think myself
equally master of my own plans and of fortune which I cannot
command; but I am ready to give up anything in reason. I call upon the
rest of you to imitate my conduct of your own free will, without being
forced to do so by the enemy. There is no disgrace in connections
giving way to one another, a Dorian to a Dorian, or a Chalcidian to
his brethren; above and beyond this we are neighbours, live in the
same country, are girt by the same sea, and go by the same name of
Sicilians. We shall go to war again, I suppose, when the time comes,
and again make peace among ourselves by means of future congresses;
but the foreign invader, if we are wise, will always find us united
against him, since the hurt of one is the danger of all; and we
shall never, in future, invite into the island either allies or
mediators. By so acting we shall at the present moment do for Sicily a
double service, ridding her at once of the Athenians, and of civil
war, and in future shall live in freedom at home, and be less
menaced from abroad."
Such were the words of Hermocrates. The Sicilians took his advice,
and came to an understanding among themselves to end the war, each
keeping what they had- the Camarinaeans taking Morgantina at a price
fixed to be paid to the Syracusans- and the allies of the Athenians
called the officers in command, and told them that they were going
to make peace and that they would be included in the treaty. The
generals assenting, the peace was concluded, and the Athenian fleet
afterwards sailed away from Sicily. Upon their arrival at Athens,
the Athenians banished Pythodorus and Sophocles, and fined Eurymedon
for having taken bribes to depart when they might have subdued Sicily.
So thoroughly had the present prosperity persuaded the citizens that
nothing could withstand them, and that they could achieve what was
possible and impracticable alike, with means ample or inadequate it
mattered not. The secret of this was their general extraordinary
success, which made them confuse their strength with their hopes.
The same summer the Megarians in the city, pressed by the
hostilities of the Athenians, who invaded their country twice every
year with all their forces, and harassed by the incursions of their
own exiles at Pegae, who had been expelled in a revolution by the

Previous | Next
Site Search