For all this you are responsible.You it was who first allowed them to fortify their city after the Median
war, and afterwards to erect the long walls,—you who, then and
now, are always depriving of freedom not only those whom they have enslaved,
but also those who have as yet been your allies.For the true author of the subjugation of a people is not so much the
immediate agent, as the power which permits it having the means to prevent
it; particularly if that power aspires to the glory of being the liberator of
Hellas.We are at last assembled.
It has not been easy to assemble, nor even now are our objects defined.We ought not to be still inquiring into the fact of our wrongs, but into
the means of our defence.For the aggressors with matured plans to oppose to our indecision have cast
threats aside and betaken themselves to action.
And we know what are the paths by which Athenian aggression travels, and
how insidious is its progress.A degree of confidence she may feel from the idea that your bluntness of
perception prevents your noticing her; but it is nothing to the impulse which her advance will receive from the
knowledge that you see, but do not care to interfere.
You, Lacedaemonians, of all the Hellenes are alone inactive, and defend
yourselves not by doing anything but by looking as if you would do
something; you alone wait till the power of an enemy is becoming twice its original
size, instead of crushing it in its infancy.
And yet the world used to say that you were to be depended upon; but in your case, we fear, it said more than the truth.The Mede, we ourselves know, had time to come from the ends of the earth to
Peloponnese, without any force of yours worthy of the name advancing to meet
him.But this was a distant enemy.Well, Athens at all events is a near neighbor, and yet Athens you utterly
disregard; against Athens you prefer to act on the defensive instead of on the
offensive, and to make it an affair of chances by deferring the struggle
till she has grown far stronger than at first.And yet you know that on the whole the rock on which the barbarian was
wrecked was himself, and that if our present enemy Athens has not again and
again annihilated us, we owe it more to her blunders than to your
Indeed, expectations from you have before now been the ruin of some, whose
faith induced them to omit preparation.We
hope that none of you will consider these words of remonstrance to be rather
words of hostility; men remonstrate with friends who are in error, accusations they reserve for
enemies who have wronged them.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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