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The Thebans, so our elders tell us, when the democracy in our city had been overthrown and Thrasybulus was assembling the exiles in Thebes ready for the seizure of Phyle,Thrasybulus and Anytus, exiled by the Thirty, were received in Thebes. After seizing and holding the fortress of Phyle in Attica in 404 B.C., they subsequently occupied the Piraeus and, with the intervention of Sparta, brought about the restoration of democracy in Athens. although the Spartans were strong and forbade them to admit or let out any Athenian, helped the democrats to return and passed that decree which has so often been read before you, stating that they would turn a blind eye if any Athenian marched through their territory
Now although we have shown ourselves to be of such character and have given so convincing proof that we do not covet the possessions of others, we are brazenly denounced by those who had a hand in the decarchiesIn Athens and in other states under ther influence there was in the oligarchical party a group of Spartan sympathizers who out-Spartaned the Spartans. After the downfall of Athens at the close of the Peloponnesian war, when Sparta became the supreme power in Greece, 404 B.C., governing commissions of ten （“decarchies”） composed of these extremists, with a Spartan harmost and garrison to support them, were set up in most of these states by the Spartan general Lysander （Xen. Hell. 3.4.2）. In Athens the “decarchy” succeeded the rule of the thirty tyrants. Compare what Isocrates says here about the decarchies with Isoc. 5.95 and Isoc. 12.54.—men who have befouled their own countries, who have made the crimes of the past seem insignificant, and have left the would-be
these we must avoid, but first and foremost we should be careful that we are never found doing any cowardly deed or making any unjust concessions to the foe; for it would be shameful if we, who onceSpartan supremacy lasted, theoretically, more than thirty years, from the end of the Peloponnesian War （404 B.C.） to the battle of Leuctra. Meantime, however, the Athenians secured for a short period their second naval empire （378 B.C.）. were thought worthy to rule the Hellenes, should be seen carrying out their commands, and should fall so far below our forefathers that, while they were willing to die in order that they might dictate to others,Thucydides, i. 140, puts in the mouth of Pericles the assertion that the Spartans prefer to resolve their complaints by war and not by words, dictating terms instead of bringing charges. we would not dare to hazard a battle in order that we might prevent others from dictating
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.
Moreover, if we will examine into the history of the most illustrious and the greatest of the other states, we shall find that democratic forms of government are more advantageous for them than oligarchies. For if we compare our own government—which is criticized by everyoneSee Isoc. 7.15.—not with the old democracy which I have described, but with the rule which was instituted by the Thirty,The oligarchy of the thirty “Tyrants,” instituted with the help of the Spartans at the end of the Peloponnesian War, 404 B.C. there is no one who would not consider our present democracy a divine cr
We are concerned about our polity no less than about the safety of the whole state and we know that our democracy flourishes and endures in times of peace and security while in times of war it has twice already been overthrown,By the oligarchical revolution of 411 B.C., when the government of the Four Hundred was established, and that of 404 B.C., when the reign of the Thirty began. but we are hostile to those who desire peace as if suspecting them of favoring oligarchy,For example, Timotheus, who was no flatterer. See Isoc. 15.131 ff. Cf. Isoc. 15.318. while we are friendly to those who advocate war as if assured of their devotion to democracy.
Now that it is not just I can show you by lessons which I have learned from yourselves. For when the Lacedaemonians held this power,After 404 B.C. what eloquence did we not expend in denouncing their rule, contending that it was just for the Hellenes to enjoy independence?