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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


life and habits, and of the ambition which he showed in all things
soever that he undertook, the mass of the people set him down as a
pretender to the tyranny, and became his enemies; and although
publicly his conduct of the war was as good as could be desired,
individually, his habits gave offence to every one, and caused them to
commit affairs to other hands, and thus before long to ruin the
city. Meanwhile he now came forward and gave the following advice to
the Athenians:
"Athenians, I have a better right to command than others- I must
begin with this as Nicias has attacked me- and at the same time I
believe myself to be worthy of it. The things for which I am abused,
bring fame to my ancestors and to myself, and to the country profit
besides. The Hellenes, after expecting to see our city ruined by the
war, concluded it to be even greater than it really is, by reason of
the magnificence with which I represented it at the Olympic games,
when I sent into the lists seven chariots, a number never before
entered by any private person, and won the first prize, and was second
and fourth, and took care to have everything else in a style worthy of
my victory. Custom regards such displays as honourable, and they
cannot be made without leaving behind them an impression of power.
Again, any splendour that I may have exhibited at home in providing
choruses or otherwise, is naturally envied by my fellow citizens,
but in the eyes of foreigners has an air of strength as in the other
instance. And this is no useless folly, when a man at his own
private cost benefits not himself only, but his city: nor is it unfair
that he who prides himself on his position should refuse to be upon an
equality with the rest. He who is badly off has his misfortunes all to
himself, and as we do not see men courted in adversity, on the like
principle a man ought to accept the insolence of prosperity; or
else, let him first mete out equal measure to all, and then demand
to have it meted out to him. What I know is that persons of this
kind and all others that have attained to any distinction, although
they may be unpopular in their lifetime in their relations with
their fellow-men and especially with their equals, leave to
posterity the desire of claiming connection with them even without any
ground, and are vaunted by the country to which they belonged, not
as strangers or ill-doers, but as fellow-countrymen and heroes. Such
are my aspirations, and however I am abused for them in private, the
question is whether any one manages public affairs better than I do.
Having united the most powerful states of Peloponnese, without great
danger or expense to you, I compelled the Lacedaemonians to stake
their all upon the issue of a single day at Mantinea; and although
victorious in the battle, they have never since fully recovered
confidence.
"Thus did my youth and so-called monstrous folly find fitting
arguments to deal with the power of the Peloponnesians, and by its
ardour win their confidence and prevail. And do not be afraid of my
youth now, but while I am still in its flower, and Nicias appears
fortunate, avail yourselves to the utmost of the services of us
both. Neither rescind your resolution to sail to Sicily, on the ground
that you would be going to attack a great power. The cities in
Sicily are peopled by motley rabbles, and easily change their
institutions and adopt new ones in their stead; and consequently the
inhabitants, being without any feeling of patriotism, are not provided
with arms for their persons, and have not regularly established
themselves on the land; every man thinks that either by fair words
or by party strife he can obtain something at the public expense,
and then in the event of a catastrophe settle in some other country,
and makes his preparations accordingly. From a mob like this you
need not look for either unanimity in counsel or concert in action;
but they will probably one by one come in as they get a fair offer,
especially if they are torn by civil strife as we are told.
Moreover, the Siceliots have not so many heavy infantry as they boast;
just as the Hellenes generally did not prove so numerous as each state

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