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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


Lacedaemonians, who had no right to give orders to us more than we
to them, except that of being the strongest at that moment; and
being appointed leaders of the King's former subjects, we continue
to be so, thinking that we are least likely to fall under the dominion
of the Peloponnesians, if we have a force to defend ourselves with,
and in strict truth having done nothing unfair in reducing to
subjection the Ionians and islanders, the kinsfolk whom the Syracusans
say we have enslaved. They, our kinsfolk, came against their mother
country, that is to say against us, together with the Mede, and,
instead of having the courage to revolt and sacrifice their property
as we did when we abandoned our city, chose to be slaves themselves,
and to try to make us so.
"We, therefore, deserve to rule because we placed the largest
fleet and an unflinching patriotism at the service of the Hellenes,
and because these, our subjects, did us mischief by their ready
subservience to the Medes; and, desert apart, we seek to strengthen
ourselves against the Peloponnesians. We make no fine profession of
having a right to rule because we overthrew the barbarian
single-handed, or because we risked what we did risk for the freedom
of the subjects in question any more than for that of all, and for our
own: no one can be quarrelled with for providing for his proper
safety. If we are now here in Sicily, it is equally in the interest of
our security, with which we perceive that your interest also
coincides. We prove this from the conduct which the Syracusans cast
against us and which you somewhat too timorously suspect; knowing that
those whom fear has made suspicious may be carried away by the charm
of eloquence for the moment, but when they come to act follow their
interests.
"Now, as we have said, fear makes us hold our empire in Hellas,
and fear makes us now come, with the help of our friends, to order
safely matters in Sicily, and not to enslave any but rather to prevent
any from being enslaved. Meanwhile, let no one imagine that we are
interesting ourselves in you without your having anything to do with
us, seeing that, if you are preserved and able to make head against
the Syracusans, they will be less likely to harm us by sending
troops to the Peloponnesians. In this way you have everything to do
with us, and on this account it is perfectly reasonable for us to
restore the Leontines, and to make them, not subjects like their
kinsmen in Euboea, but as powerful as possible, to help us by annoying
the Syracusans from their frontier. In Hellas we are alone a match for
our enemies; and as for the assertion that it is out of all reason
that we should free the Sicilian, while we enslave the Chalcidian, the
fact is that the latter is useful to us by being without arms and
contributing money only; while the former, the Leontines and our other
friends, cannot be too independent.
"Besides, for tyrants and imperial cities nothing is unreasonable if
expedient, no one a kinsman unless sure; but friendship or enmity is
everywhere an affair of time and circumstance. Here, in Sicily, our
interest is not to weaken our friends, but by means of their
strength to cripple our enemies. Why doubt this? In Hellas we treat
our allies as we find them useful. The Chians and Methymnians govern
themselves and furnish ships; most of the rest have harder terms and
pay tribute in money; while others, although islanders and easy for us
to take, are free altogether, because they occupy convenient positions
round Peloponnese. In our settlement of the states here in Sicily,
we should therefore; naturally be guided by our interest, and by fear,
as we say, of the Syracusans. Their ambition is to rule you, their
object to use the suspicions that we excite to unite you, and then,
when we have gone away without effecting anything, by force or through
your isolation, to become the masters of Sicily. And masters they must
become, if you unite with them; as a force of that magnitude would
be no longer easy for us to deal with united, and they would be more
than a match for you as soon as we were away.
"Any other view of the case is condemned by the facts. When you

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