53.the Athenian envoys who had been despatched from Samos with Pisander
arrived at Athens, and made a speech before the people, giving a brief
summary of their views, and particularly insisting that if Alcibiades were
recalled and the democratic constitution changed, they could have the king
as their ally, and would be able to overcome the Peloponnesians.
A number of speakers opposed them on the question of the democracy, the
enemies of Alcibiades cried out against the scandal of a restoration to be
effected by a violation of the constitution, and the Eumolpidae and Ceryces
protested in behalf of the mysteries, the cause of his banishment, and
called upon the gods to avert his recall; when Pisander, in the midst of much opposition and abuse, came forward, and
taking each of his opponents aside asked him the following
question:—In the face of the fact that the Peloponnesians had as
many ships as their own confronting them at sea, more cities in alliance
with them, and the king and Tissaphernes to supply them with money, of which
the Athenians had none left, had he any hope of saving the state, unless
some one could induce the king to come over to their side?
Upon their replying that they had not, he then plainly said to them:
‘This we cannot have unless we have a more moderate form of
government, and put the offices into fewer hands, and so gain the king's
confidence, and forthwith restore Alcibiades, who is the only man living
that can bring this about.The safety of the state, not the form of its government, is for the moment
the most pressing question, as we can always change afterwards whatever we
do not like.'
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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