This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
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.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.