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Although I have never been fond of oratory, having in fact always thought that those who cultivate the power of speech are somewhat lacking in capacity for action,1 yet at the moment there is nothing I should value more than the ability to speak as I desire about the question now before us; for in the present crisis I am confident that with this aid I could render a very great service to the state.

1 An allusion to the traditional Spartan fondness for brevity and distrust of eloquence.

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