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

Previous | Next

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   

feared that they would refuse to assist them at all in future, after
seeing the success of the Athenians in the action, and would join
the latter on the strength of their old friendship. Hermocrates,
with some others, accordingly arrived at Camarina from Syracuse, and
Euphemus and others from the Athenians; and an assembly of the
Camarinaeans having been convened, Hermocrates spoke as follows, in
the hope of prejudicing them against the Athenians:

"Camarinaeans, we did not come on this embassy because we were
afraid of your being frightened by the actual forces of the Athenians,
but rather of your being gained by what they would say to you before
you heard anything from us. They are come to Sicily with the pretext
that you know, and the intention which we all suspect, in my opinion
less to restore the Leontines to their homes than to oust us from
ours; as it is out of all reason that they should restore in Sicily
the cities that they lay waste in Hellas, or should cherish the
Leontine Chalcidians because of their Ionian blood and keep in
servitude the Euboean Chalcidians, of whom the Leontines are a colony.
No; but the same policy which has proved so successful in Hellas is
now being tried in Sicily. After being chosen as the leaders of the
Ionians and of the other allies of Athenian origin, to punish the
Mede, the Athenians accused some of failure in military service,
some of fighting against each other, and others, as the case might be,
upon any colourable pretext that could be found, until they thus
subdued them all. In fine, in the struggle against the Medes, the
Athenians did not fight for the liberty of the Hellenes, or the
Hellenes for their own liberty, but the former to make their
countrymen serve them instead of him, the latter to change one
master for another, wiser indeed than the first, but wiser for evil.
"But we are not now come to declare to an audience familiar with
them the misdeeds of a state so open to accusation as is the Athenian,
but much rather to blame ourselves, who, with the warnings we
possess in the Hellenes in those parts that have been enslaved through
not supporting each other, and seeing the same sophisms being now
tried upon ourselves- such as restorations of Leontine kinsfolk and
support of Egestaean allies- do not stand together and resolutely
show them that here are no Ionians, or Hellespontines, or islanders,
who change continually, but always serve a master, sometimes the
Mede and sometimes some other, but free Dorians from independent
Peloponnese, dwelling in Sicily. Or, are we waiting until we be
taken in detail, one city after another; knowing as we do that in no
other way can we be conquered, and seeing that they turn to this plan,
so as to divide some of us by words, to draw some by the bait of an
alliance into open war with each other, and to ruin others by such
flattery as different circumstances may render acceptable? And do we
fancy when destruction first overtakes a distant fellow countryman
that the danger will not come to each of us also, or that he who
suffers before us will suffer in himself alone?
"As for the Camarinaean who says that it is the Syracusan, not he,
that is the enemy of the Athenian, and who thinks it hard to have to
encounter risk in behalf of my country, I would have him bear in
mind that he will fight in my country, not more for mine than for
his own, and by so much the more safely in that he will enter on the
struggle not alone, after the way has been cleared by my ruin, but
with me as his ally, and that the object of the Athenian is not so
much to punish the enmity of the Syracusan as to use me as a blind
to secure the friendship of the Camarinaean. As for him who envies
or even fears us (and envied and feared great powers must always
be), and who on this account wishes Syracuse to be humbled to teach us
a lesson, but would still have her survive, in the interest of his own
security the wish that he indulges is not humanly possible. A man
can control his own desires, but he cannot likewise control
circumstances; and in the event of his calculations proving
mistaken, he may live to bewail his own misfortune, and wish to be

Previous | Next
Site Search