‘I have not lived so long,
Lacedaemonians, without having had the experience of many wars, and I see
those among you of the same age as myself, who will not fall into the common
misfortune of longing for war from inexperience or from a belief in its
advantage and its safety.
This, the war on which you are now debating, would be one of the greatest
magnitude, on a sober consideration of the matter.
In a struggle with Peloponnesians and neighbors our strength is of the same
character, and it is possible to move swiftly on the different points.But a struggle with a people who live in a distant land, who have also an
extraordinary familiarity with the sea, and who are in the highest state of
preparation in every other department; with wealth private and public, with ships, and horses, and heavy infantry,
and a population such as no one other Hellenic place can equal, and lastly a
number of tributary allies—what can justify us in rashly beginning
such a struggle? wherein is our trust that we should rush on it unprepared?
Is it in our ships?There we are inferior; while if we are to practise and become a match for them, time must
intervene.Is it in our money?There we have a far greater deficiency.We neither have it in our treasury, nor are we ready to contribute it from
our private funds.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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