previous next
[692a] of the royal strain with the temperate potency of age, by making the power of the eight-and-twenty elders of equal weight with that of the kings in the greatest matters. Then your “third saviour,”1 seeing your government still fretting and fuming, curbed it, as one may say, by the power of the ephors, which was not far removed from government by lot. Thus, in your case, according to this account, owing to its being blended of the right elements and possessed of due measure, the kingship not only survived itself but ensured the survival of all else. [692b] For if the matter had lain with Temenus and Cresphontes2 and the lawgivers of their day—whosoever those lawgivers really were,—even the portion of Aristodemus3 could never have survived, for they were not fully expert in the art of legislation; otherwise they could hardly have deemed it sufficient to moderate by means of sworn pledges4 a youthful soul endowed with power such as might develop into a tyranny; but now God has shown of what kind the government ought to have been then, and ought to be now, if it is to endure. That we should understand this, [692c] after the occurrence, is—as I said before5—no great mark of sagacity, since it is by no means difficult to draw an inference from an example in the past; but if, at the time, there had been anyone who foresaw the result and was able to moderate the ruling powers and unify them,—such a man would have preserved all the grand designs then formed, and no Persian or other armament would ever have set out against Greece, or held us in contempt as a people of small account.

Clinias
True. [692d]

Athenian
The way they repulsed the Persians, Clinias, was disgraceful. But when I say “disgraceful,” I do not imply that they did not win fine victories both by land and sea in those victorious campaigns: what I call “disgraceful” is this,—that, in the first place, one only of those three States defended Greece, while the other two were so basely corrupt that one of them6 actually prevented Lacedaemon from assisting Greece by warring against her with all its might, and Argos, the other,—which stood first of the three in the days of the Dorian settlement— [692e] when summoned to help against the barbarian, paid no heed and gave no help.7 Many are the discreditable charges one would have to bring against Greece in relating the events of that war; indeed, it would be wrong to say that Greece defended herself, for had not the bondage that threatened her been warded off by the concerted policy of the Athenians

1 Theopompus, king of Sparta about 750 B.C. The institution of the Ephorate is by some ascribed to him (as here), by others to Lycurgus. Cp. Aristot. Pol. 1313a 19ff.

2 See Plat. Laws 683d.

3 i.e., Lacedaemon: Aristodemus was father of Eurysthenes and Procles (cp. Plat. Laws 683d).

4 Cp. Plat. Laws 684a.

5 Plat. Laws 691b

6 Messene

7 Cp. Hdt. 7.148ff. The reference is to the Persian invasion under Mardonius in 490 B.C.; but there is no other evidence for the charge here made against Messene.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Messene (Greece) (2)
Lacedaemon (Greece) (2)
Argos (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
750 BC (1)
490 BC (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: