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Throughout our entire treatise our practice has been to employ the customary freedom of speech enjoyed by history, and we have added just praise of good men for their fair deeds and meted out just censure upon bad men whenever they did wrong. By this means, as we believe, we shall lead men whose nature fortunately inclines them to virtue to undertake, because of the immortality fame accords them, the fairest deeds, whereas by appropriate obloquies we shall turn men of the opposite character from their impulse to evil. [2] Consequently, since we have come in our writing to the period when the Lacedaemonians fell upon deep distress in their unexpected defeat at Leuctra, and again in their unlooked-for repulse at Mantineia lost the supremacy over the Greeks, we believe that we should maintain the principle we have set for our writing and set forth the appropriate censure of the Lacedaemonians. [3]

For who would not judge men to be deserving of accusation who had received from their ancestors a supremacy with such firm foundations and that too preserved by the high spirit of their ancestor for over five hundred years, and now beheld it, as the Lacedaemonians of that time did, overthrown by their own folly? And this is easy to understand. For the men who had lived before them won the glory they had by many labours and great struggles, treating their subjects the while fairly and humanely; but their successors used their allies roughly and harshly, stirring up, besides, unjust and insolent wars against the Greeks, and so it is quite to be understood that they lost their rule because of their own acts of folly. [4] For the hatred of those they had wronged found in their disasters an opportunity to retaliate upon their aggressors, and they who had been unconquered from their ancestors' time were now attended by such contempt as, it stands to reason, must befall those who obliterate the virtues that characterized their ancestors. [5] This explains why the Thebans, who for many generations had been subjects of their superiors, when they defeated them to everyone's surprise, became supreme among the Greeks, but the Lacedaemonians, when once they had lost the supremacy, were never at any time able to recover the high position enjoyed by their ancestors. [6]

Now that we have sufficiently censured the Lacedaemonians, we shall in turn pass on to the further course of our history, after we have first set the timelimits of this section. The preceding Book, which is the fourteenth of our narrative, closed with the events concerned with the enslaving of the Rhegians by Dionysius and the capture of Rome by the Gauls, which took place in the year preceding the campaign of the Persians in Cyprus against Evagoras the king. In this Book we shall begin with this war and close with the year preceding the reign of Philip the son of Amyntas.1

1 The book covers the years 386-361 B.C.

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