And the slowness and procrastination, the
parts of our character that are most assailed by their criticism, need not
make you blush.If we undertake the war without preparation, we should by hastening its
commencement only delay its conclusion: further, a free and a famous city
has through all time been ours.
The quality which they condemn is really nothing but a wise moderation; thanks to its possession, we alone do not become insolent in success and
give way less than others in misfortune; we are not carried away by the pleasure of hearing ourselves cheered on to
risks which our judgment condemns; nor, if annoyed, are we any the more convinced by attempts to exasperate us
We are both warlike and wise, and it is our sense of order that makes us
so.We are warlike, because self-control contains honor as a chief constituent,
and honor bravery.And we are wise, because we are educated with too little learning to
despise the laws, and with too severe a self-control to disobey them, and
are brought up not to be too knowing in useless matters,—such as
the knowledge which can give a specious criticism of an enemy's plans in
theory, but fails to assail them with equal success in
practice,—but are taught to consider that the schemes of our
enemies are not dissimilar to our own, and that the freaks of chance are not
determinable by calculation.
In practice we always base our preparations against an enemy on the
assumption that his plans are good; indeed, it is right to rest our hopes not on a belief in his blunders, but
on the soundness of our provisions.Nor ought we to believe that there is much difference between man and man,
but to think that the superiority lies with him who is reared in the
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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