‘Lacedaemonians, when we
surrendered our city we trusted in you, and looked forward to a trial more
agreeable to the forms of law than the present, to which we had no idea of
being subjected; the judges also in whose hands we consented to place ourselves were you,
and you only （from whom we thought we were most likely to obtain
justice）, and not other persons, as is now the case.
As matters stand, we are afraid that we have been doubly deceived.We have good reason to suspect, not only that the issue to be tried is the
most terrible of all, but that you will not prove impartial; if we may argue from the fact that no accusation was first brought forward
for us to answer, but we had ourselves to ask leave to speak, and from the
question being put so shortly, that a true answer to it tells against us,
while a false one can be contradicted.
In this dilemma, our safest, and indeed our only course, seems to be to say
something at all risks: placed as we are, we could scarcely be silent
without being tormented by the damning thought that speaking might have
Another difficulty that we have to encounter is the difficulty of
convincing you.Were we unknown to each other we might profit by bringing forward new
matter with which you were unacquainted: as it is, we can tell you nothing
that you do not know already, and we fear, not that you have condemned us in
your own minds of having failed in our duty towards you, and make this our
crime, but that to please a third party we have to submit to a trial the
result of which is already decided.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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