You have thus heard the history of the
present expedition from the man who most exactly knows what our objects
were; and the remaining generals will, if they can, carry these out just the
same.But that the states in Sicily must succumb if you do not help them, I will
Although the Siceliots, with all their inexperience, might even now be
saved if their forces were united, the Syracusans alone, beaten already in
one battle with all their people and blockaded from the sea, will be unable
to withstand the Athenian armament that is now there.
But if Syracuse falls, all Sicily falls also, and Italy immediately
afterwards; and the danger which I just now spoke of from that quarter will before long
be upon you.
None need therefore fancy that Sicily only is in question; Peloponnese will be so also, unless you speedily do as I tell you, and send
on board ship to Syracuse troops that shall be able to row their ships
themselves, and serve as heavy infantry the moment that they land; and what I consider even more important than the troops, a Spartan as
commanding officer to discipline the forces already on foot and to compel
recusants to serve.The friends that you have already will thus become more confident, and the
waverers will be encouraged to join you.
Meanwhile you must carry on the war here more openly, that the Syracusans
seeing that you do not forget them, may put heart into their resistance, and
that the Athenians may be less able to reinforce their armament.
You must fortify Decelea in Attica, the blow of which the Athenians are
always most afraid and the only one that they think they have not
experienced in the present war; the surest method of harming an enemy being to find out what he most fears,
and to choose this means of attacking him, since every one naturally knows
best his own weak points and fears accordingly.
The fortification in question, while it benefits you, will create
difficulties for your adversaries, of which I shall pass over many, and
shall only mention the chief.Whatever property there is in the country will most of it become yours,
either by capture or surrender; and the Athenians will at once be deprived of their revenues from the
silver mines at Laurium, of their present gains from their land and from the
law courts, and above all of the revenue from their allies, which will be
paid less regularly, as they lose their awe of Athens, and see you
addressing yourselves with vigour to the war.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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