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[6] A sign that what I have stated is the end which each has in view is the fact that sometimes the speakers will not dispute about the other points. For example, a man on trial does not always deny that an act has been committed or damage inflicted by him, but he will never admit that the act is unjust; for otherwise a trial would be unnecessary. Similarly, the deliberative orator, although he often sacrifices everything else, will never admit that he is recommending what is inexpedient or is dissuading from what is useful; but often he is quite indifferent about showing that the enslavement of neighboring peoples, even if they have done no harm, is not an act of injustice.1 Similarly, those who praise or blame do not consider
whether a man has done what is expedient or harmful, but frequently make it a matter for praise that, disregarding his own interest, he performed some deed of honor. For example, they praise Achilles because he went to the aid of his comrade Patroclus,2 knowing that he was fated to die, although he might have lived. To him such a death was more honorable, although life was more expedient.

1 The omission of οὐκ before ἄδικον has been suggested. The sense would then be: “As to the injustice of enslaving . . . he is quite indifferent.” There is no doubt a reference to the cruel treatment by Athens of the inhabitants of the island of Melos (416 B.C.) for its loyalty to the Spartans during the Peloponnesian war (Thuc. 5.84-116). The Athenian envoys declined to discuss the question of right or wrong, which they said was only possible between equal powers, and asserted that expediency was the only thing that had to be considered. The question of justice or injustice (in the Melian case entirely disregarded), even when taken into account, was merely accessory and intended to serve as a specious justification for the policy of might.

2 To protect his body and avenge his death (Hom. Il. 18.).

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