‘Peloponnesians, the character of
the country from which we have come, one which has always owed its freedom
to valor, and the fact that you are Dorians and the enemy you are about to
fight Ionians, whom you are accustomed to beat, are things that do not need
But the plan of attack that I propose to pursue, this it is as well to
explain, in order that the fact of our adventuring with a part instead of
with the whole of our forces may not damp your courage by the apparent
disadvantage at which it places you.
I imagine it is the poor opinion that he has of us, and the fact that he
has no idea of any one coming out to engage him, that has made the enemy
march up to the place and carelessly look about him as he is doing, without
But the most successful soldier will always be the man who most happily
detects a blunder like this, and who carefully consulting his own means
makes his attack not so much by open and regular approaches, as by seizing
the opportunity of the moment;
and these stratagems, which do the greatest service to our friends by most
completely deceiving our enemies, have the most brilliant name in war.
Therefore, while their careless confidence continues, and they are still
thinking, as in my judgment they are now doing, more of retreat than of
maintaining their position, while their spirit is slack and not high-strung
with expectation, I with the men under my command will, if possible, take
them by surprise and fall with a run upon their center;
and do you, Clearidas, afterwards, when you see me already upon them, and,
as is likely, dealing terror among them, take with you the Amphipolitans,
and the rest of the allies, and suddenly open the gates and dash at them,
and hasten to engage as quickly as you can.
That is our best chance of establishing a panic among them, as a fresh
assailant has always more terrors for an enemy than the one he is
immediately engaged with.
Show yourself a brave man, as a Spartan should; and do you, allies, follow him like men, and remember that zeal, honor, and
obedience mark the good soldier, and that this day will make you either free
men and allies of Lacedaemon, or slaves of Athens; even if you escape without personal loss of liberty or life, your bondage
will be on harsher terms than before, and you will also hinder the
liberation of the rest of the Hellenes.
No cowardice then on your part, seeing the greatness of the issues at
stake, and I will show that what I preach to others I can practise
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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