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



Previous | Next
                  

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


party was that of the whole people, our creed being to do our part
in preserving the form of government under which the city enjoyed
the utmost greatness and freedom, and which we had found existing.
As for democracy, the men of sense among us knew what it was, and I
perhaps as well as any, as I have the more cause to complain of it;
but there is nothing new to be said of a patent absurdity; meanwhile
we did not think it safe to alter it under the pressure of your
hostility.
"So much then for the prejudices with which I am regarded: I now can
call your attention to the questions you must consider, and upon which
superior knowledge perhaps permits me to speak. We sailed to Sicily
first to conquer, if possible, the Siceliots, and after them the
Italiots also, and finally to assail the empire and city of
Carthage. In the event of all or most of these schemes succeeding,
we were then to attack Peloponnese, bringing with us the entire
force of the Hellenes lately acquired in those parts, and taking a
number of barbarians into our pay, such as the Iberians and others
in those countries, confessedly the most warlike known, and building
numerous galleys in addition to those which we had already, timber
being plentiful in Italy; and with this fleet blockading Peloponnese
from the sea and assailing it with our armies by land, taking some
of the cities by storm, drawing works of circumvallation round others,
we hoped without difficulty to effect its reduction, and after this to
rule the whole of the Hellenic name. Money and corn meanwhile for
the better execution of these plans were to be supplied in
sufficient quantities by the newly acquired places in those countries,
independently of our revenues here at home.
"You have thus heard the history of the present expedition from
the man who most exactly knows what our objects were; and the
remaining generals will, if they can, carry these out just the same.
But that the states in Sicily must succumb if you do not help them,
I will now show. Although the Siceliots, with all their
inexperience, might even now be saved if their forces were united, the
Syracusans alone, beaten already in one battle with all their people
and blockaded from the sea, will be unable to withstand the Athenian
armament that is now there. But if Syracuse falls, all Sicily falls
also, and Italy immediately afterwards; and the danger which I just
now spoke of from that quarter will before long be upon you. None need
therefore fancy that Sicily only is in question; Peloponnese will be
so also, unless you speedily do as I tell you, and send on board
ship to Syracuse troops that shall able to row their ships themselves,
and serve as heavy infantry the moment that they land; and what I
consider even more important than the troops, a Spartan as
commanding officer to discipline the forces already on foot and to
compel recusants to serve. The friends that you have already will thus
become more confident, and the waverers will be encouraged to join
you. Meanwhile you must carry on the war here more openly, that the
Syracusans, seeing that you do not forget them, may put heart into
their resistance, and that the Athenians may be less able to reinforce
their armament. You must fortify Decelea in Attica, the blow of
which the Athenians are always most afraid and the only one that
they think they have not experienced in the present war; the surest
method of harming an enemy being to find out what he most fears, and
to choose this means of attacking him, since every one naturally knows
best his own weak points and fears accordingly. The fortification in
question, while it benefits you, will create difficulties for your
adversaries, of which I shall pass over many, and shall only mention
the chief. Whatever property there is in the country will most of it
become yours, either by capture or surrender; and the Athenians will
at once be deprived of their revenues from the silver mines at
Laurium, of their present gains from their land and from the law
courts, and above all of the revenue from their allies, which will
be paid less regularly, as they lose their awe of Athens and see you
addressing yourselves with vigour to the war. The zeal and speed

Previous | Next
Site Search