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And again, when fortune shifted her favorThebes became the supreme power in Greece by the battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. and the Thebans and the Peloponnesians were one and all trying to devastate Lacedaemon, we alone among the Hellenes formed361 B.C. an alliance with the Lacedaemonians and helped to save them from destruction.In 362 B.C., when Epaminondas, at the head of the Thebans and their allies, including the Argives, Arcadians, Messenians, and the Eleans, marched on Sparta to destroy her, the Athenians dispatched Iphicrates with an army of twelve thousand to the rescue. See Isoc. 8.105; Xen. Hell. 6.5.23 ff.; Grote, Hist. x. pp. 89 ff.
The Lacedaemonians were the leaders of the Hellenes,The hegemony of Sparta lasted from the battle of Aegospotami, 405 B.C., to the battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. not long ago, on both land and sea, and yet they suffered so great a reversal of fortune when they met defeat at Leuctra that they were deprived of their power over the Hellenes, and lost such of their warriors as chose to die rather than survive defeat at the hands of those over whom they had once been masters.
But what is most deplorable of all is that, during the intervals when their enemies cease from harrying them, they themselves put to death the most eminent and wealthy of their citizens;The conflict between democracy and oligarchy, which raged with varying intensity in most of the Greek cities, in Argos was most bitter. In 371 B.C. occurred a massacre in which twelve hundred of the leading men were slain by the mob. Dio. Sic. 15.57-58; Grote, Hist. ix. p. 417. and they have more pleasure in doing this than any other people have in slaying their foes. The cause of their living in such disorder is none other than the state of war; and if you can put a stop to this, you will not only deliver them from these evils but you will cause them to adopt a better policy with respect to their other interests as well.
And as for the condition of the Thebans, surely you have not failed to note that also. They won a splendid victoryBattle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. and covered themselves with glory, but because they did not make good use of their success they are now in no better case than those who have suffered defeat and failure. For no sooner had they triumphed over their foes than, neglecting everything else, they began to annoy the cities of the Peloponnese;Epaminondas invaded the Peloponnese in 369, 368, 366, 362, stirring up the cities there against Sparta. Dio. Sic. 15.62-75. they made bold to reduce Thessaly to subjection;By conquering Alexander of Pherae. Dio. Sic. 15.67. they threatened their neighbors, the Megarians;The Megarians sided with Sparta when Agesilaus invaded Boeotia in 378. Xen. Hell. 5.4.41. they robbed our city of a portion of its territory;The border town of Oropus, 366 B.C. Xen. Hell. 7.4.1. they ravaged Euboea;See Dem. 18.99. they sent men-of-war to Byzantium,One hundred s
having ceased sacrificing victims at the altars they slaughter one anotherPossibly Isocrates may have in mind the massacre at Corinth in 392 B.C. （Xen. Hell. 4.4.3）, the murder of certain Achaean suppliants, who took refuge in the temple of Heliconian Poseidon （Pausanias vii. 25）, or the slaughter of 1200 prominent citizens in Argos in 371 B.C. （Diodorus xv. 58）. Cf. Isoc. 5.52. there instead; and more people are in exile now from a single city than before from the whole of the Peloponnesus. But although the miseries which I have recounted are so many, those which remain unmentioned far outnumber them; for all the distress and all the horror in the world have come together in this
Likewise the Lacedaemonians, after having set out in ancient times from obscure and humble cities, made themselves, because they lived temperately and under military discipline, masters of the Peloponnesus;See Isoc. 4.61; Isoc. 12.253 ff. whereas later, when they grew overweening and seized the empire both of the sea and of the land, they fell into the same dangers as ourselves.The Spartan supremacy began with the triumph over Athens in 404 B.C. and ended with the defeat at Leuctra, 371 B.C. See Vol I. p. 402, footnote. Cf. Isoc. 5.47. After Leuctra, Athens, in her turn, saved Sparta from destruction. See Isoc. 5.44 and note.
For example, if the Thebans, after the battle which they won over the Lacedaemonians,The Battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C., the end of the Spartan supremacy and the beginning of the Theban hegemony, which lasted but nine years. had contented themselves with liberating the Peloponnesus and making the other Hellenes independentSee Isoc. 5.53 ff. and had thenceforth pursued peace, while we continued to make such blunders, then neither could this man have asked such a question nor could we ourselves have failed to realize how much better moderation is than meddlesomeness.
We have a most convincing proof of this. For imperialism worked the ruin not only of Athens but of the city of the Lacedaemonians also, so that those who are in the habit of praising the virtues of SpartaCf. Isoc. 12.200. cannot argue that we managed our affairs badly because of our democratic government whereas if the Lacedaemonians had taken over the empire the results would have been happy both for the rest of the Hellenes and for themselves. For this power revealed its nature much more quickly in their case.The Spartan supremacy lasted from 404 to 371; the Athenian from 478 to 405 B.C. Indeed it brought it to pass that a polity which over a period of seven hundred yearsFrom the reign of Eurysthenes and Procles, about 1072, to the battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. For the stability of the Spartan constitution see Isoc. 12.257. had never, so far as we know, been disturbed by perils or calamities was shaken and all but destroyed in a short space of time.
You can see at once from this instance best of all how much milder and more moderate we were in our supervision over the affairs of the Hellenes, but you can see it also from what I shall now say. The Spartans remained at the head of Hellas hardly ten years,Isocrates elsewhere views the Spartan supremacy as lasting from the end of the Peloponnesian War, 405-404 B.C., to the battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. See Isoc. 5.47. But later in Isoc. 5.63-64 he speaks of Conon's naval victory at the battle of Cnidus, 394 B.C., as the end of the Spartan rule, since it re-established the maritime influence of Athens. The latter is the version followed here. It is reasonable to say that Sparta's supremacy by sea ceased with the battle of Cnidus and her supremacy by land with Leuctra. while we held the hegemony without interruption for sixty-five years.See Isoc. 4.106, note. And yet it is known to all that states which come under the supremacy of others remain loyal for the longest time to those und
Now both Athens and Lacedaemon incurred the hatred of their subjects and were plunged into war and confusion, but in these circumstances it will be found that our city, although attacked by all the Hellenes and by the barbarians as well, was able to hold out against them for ten years,The last decade of the Peloponnesian War, from what he terms the Decelean War, 413 B.C. （see Isoc. 8.37, 84, note.）, to the fall of Athens 404-403 B.C. while the Lacedaemonians, though still the leading power by land, after waging war against the Thebans alone and being defeated in a single battle,Leuctra, 371 B.C. were stripped of all the possessions which they had held and involved in misfortunes and calamities which were very similar to these which overtook ourselves.See Isoc. 8.1