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A truce is now concluded for one year. The serious losses of the Athenians in Boeotia and Thrace disposed them to listen to terms; while the Lacedaemonians were more anxious to recover their men than to encourage Brasidas to attempt further conquests.

νομίσαντες Ἀθηναῖοι μέν—cf. ch. 1, 5, ἔπραξαν δὲ οἱ μὲν...οὶ δέ κ.τ.λ. οὐκ ἂν ἔτι προσαποστῆσαι—‘could win over no more (πρός) of their possessions after this’; in other words, they thought that a truce would give them time to secure the rest of their dependencies. ἀφίστημι, in the sense of ‘causing to revolt’, occurs i. 81: the intransitive tenses are much more common.

πρὶν παρασκευάσαιντο—the regular construction after a negative with a past tense; Goodwin, § 67. 1.

καὶ ξυμβῆναι—the sense required is ‘thinking that they might make peace’, or ‘wishing or designing to make peace’. It seems possible that the original participle νομἱσαντες is lost sight of, while the infinitive is governed by the idea of wishing or intending supplied from what has gone before. According to Poppo however ξυμβῆναι depends directly on νομίσαντες, which in this second clause is to be understood in a different sense, νομίζω sometimes being equivalent to cogito, in animo habeo: see note on ch. 86, 16: and for the whole construction cf. ch. 3, 21. Krüger proposes κἂν ξυμβῆναι.

τὰ πλείω—cognate accusative, ‘to make a more general peace’: cf. ch. 30, 23.

ταῦτα ἅπερ ἔδεισαν—i.e. the loss of more towns, which would revolt to Brasidas, if the Athenians had not time for due preparation; see line 5.

άνακωχῆς—a Thucydidean word, which has this form on the invariable authority of the manuscripts; though according to analogy and derivation it should be ἀνοκωχή: see Lid. and Scott, and Poppo on i. 40.

πειρασαμένους—after they had once tasted the blessings of peace. ἐς τὸν πλείω χρόνον—so v. 15, περὶ τοῦ πλείονος χρόνου, contrasted with a year's armistice. The comparative is to be explained as noted on ch. 17, 17: it ‘means the period of several years, generally stipulated in a treaty of peace, as opposed to the brief interval of a mere truce’ (Arnold).

τοὺς γὰρ δὴ ἄνδρας...κρατήσειν—in the following notes it is at first assumed that this sentence is descriptive of the actual feelings of the Lacedaemonians: a different view is noticed afterwards.

περὶ πλείονος—if the reading ὡς ἔτι is right, the meaning seems to be, ‘they were more anxious to recover their men, as (because) Brasidas was still successful’, i.e. they now saw a chance of concluding negotiations with Athens, and this increased their anxiety to get the men back. So we read in v. 16, that the party desirous of peace ‘became much more eager’ (πολλῷ δὴ μᾶλλον προεθυμοῦντο), when they saw a prospect of it. This view agrees with what is said in v. 15, that the Spartans increased their efforts to obtain terms, as soon as the Athenians had been defeated at Delium.

Some editors regard ὡς ἔτι as equivalent to dum, a very questionable interpretation, cf. ch. 76, 6: others read ἕως, in accordance with the scholiast on Ar. Pax, 475, where the passage is cited with ἕως ὅτε. In either case περὶ πλείουος is explained by what follows, the sense being that the Lacedaemonians attached greater importance to the immediate recovery of the captives while Brasidas was still successful, than to the possibility of future conquests with the risk of losing their men; cf. ch. 108, 42, τὰ δὲ καὶ βουλόμενοι μᾶλλον κ.τ.λ. For the phrase περὶ πλείονος ποιεῖσθαι, ‘to esteem of greater value’, cf. ii. 89, περὶ πλείστου ἡγεῖσθε: Hdt. i. 73, περὶ πολλοῦ ποιεόμενος αὑτούς.

καὶ ἔμελλον—‘and they were likely, if he carried his successes further, and placed the contending parties on equal terms, to lose their citizens who had been taken at Sphacteria, though they might be finally victorious in the struggle with Athens’. See the following notes for discussion of details.

ἐπὶ μεῖζον—cf. i. 17, ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἐχώρησαν δυνάμεως: i. 118, ἐπὶ μέγα ἐχώρησαν δυνάμεως. ἀντίπαλα καταστήσαντος—lit. ‘if he made things equally balanced’: cf. vii. 13, ἐπειδὴ ἐς ἀντίπαλα καθεστήκαμεν: neut. plur. as in ch. 108. It would seem that the Lacedaemonians did not consider that Brasidas was yet on terms of equality with the enemy in Thrace notwithstanding his great successes. Possibly they did not appreciate the importance of his conquests; at any rate we have already seen that their leading men were not desirous of forwarding his enterprise (ch. 108 fin.). Grote supposes the words to mean ‘if he should put himself and his newly-acquired gains in battle-front against the enemy’, i.e. if he should risk losing his conquests by attempting more: but though the sense may be good it is not to be found in the Greek. Moreover, though any further success on the part of Brasidas would put the Spartans in a better position to dictate terms in general, it would certainly interfere with the immediate recovery of the captives, which was the thing they now had most at heart.

τῶν μὲν στέρεσθαι—either ‘to remain deprived of them’ for an indefinite time (Jowett); or ‘to be deprived of them’ by their being put to death. The Athenians had determined to kill the captives in case of any invasion of Attica (ch. 41, 5); and there was therefore reason to fear that they might kill them in exasperation at their losses in Thrace.

τοῖς δέ—either (1) to be taken as instrumental dative with ἀμυνόμενοι, ‘defending themselves, keeping up the struggle, with the others’, i.e. with the rest of their forces as opposed to the captives: so i. 69, τῇ δυνάμει ἀμυνόμενοι: vi. 82, δύναμιν ἀμυνούμεθα: or (2) ‘as for the Athenians’, i.e. in the contest against them; an ethical dative like ch. 10, 13, ὑποχωρήσασι: ch. 56, 1, τοῖς Ἀθηναίοις: ch. 73, 27, τοῖς δέ. In (1) two parts of the Spartan forces are contrasted with μέν and δέ: while (2) contrasts their captured friends with their enemies.

κινδυνεύειν καὶ κρατήσειν—As these words stand they must mean ‘to have a chance of future victory’; lit. ‘to be likely also to prove victorious’. This force of κινδυνεύω however, which is common in Plato and Xenophon, is not found elsewhere in Thucydides, except perhaps in vi. 87, μὴ ἀδεεῖς εἶναι κινδυνεύειν. In other passages the meaning with the inf. is ‘to be in danger of’, e.g. vii. 40, τοῦ παντὸς κινδυνεῦσαι διαφθαρῆναι. The rendering ‘to be in danger of losing final victory’ is good in sense, but does not lie in the words. καί ‘also’ emphasizes κρατήσειν,=actually, eventually. For the future cf. ch. 126, 34, ἐκφοβἡσειν.

It will be seen that it is possible to give a fairly satisfactory sense to the words as they stand in the text. There is however a difficulty in the final clauses τῶν μὲν...τοῖς δέ. The sense required is clearly, ‘though they might be finally victorious, they were certain to lose their men’. We should therefore expect τοῖς μὲν...κρατήσειν τῶν δὲ στέρεσθαι, the clause with μέν being subordinate in sense to that with δέ. Here however the order is reversed. Jowett compares ii. 42, τοὺς μὲν τιμωρεῖσθαι τῶν δ᾽ έφίεσθαι. ‘The emphasis’, he says, ‘is on τῶν μὲν στέρεσθαι: the antithetical form has got the better of the logical point of the sentence’. In ch. 121, 19 we have a somewhat similar inversion.

To obviate the difficulty arising from the order of μέν and δέ, as well as from the doubtful meaning which the text obliges us to attach to κινδυνεύειν, it has been proposed to read μὴ κρατήσειν or κρατήσεσθαι (passive) instead of κρατήσειν. We thus get the sense ‘they were sure to lose their men, and would be in danger of final defeat besides’.

It remains to notice the view of the whole passage which was suggested by Herbst, and is adopted by Classen. It is that Thucydides is giving in his own words the ideas, not of the Lacedaemonians, but of the Athenians; in fact explaining the words ἄπερ ἔδεισαν in line 8. The Athenians thought that the Lacedaemonians were now likely to offer acceptable terms, and they were not unwilling to listen to their offers; for if Brasidas pursued his victorious career, the opportunity would be lost, and the chance was that the Lacedaemonians, though they lost their captives, might prove victorious in the end.

Herbst and Classen attach particular force to ὡς ἔτι Βρασίδας εὐτύχει, to which they give the meaning ‘with his present limit of success’, i.e. before his conquests gave the Spartans an overwhelming advantage. At present they valued the recovery of the men more highly (περὶ πλεἰονος) than might be the case hereafter, when they could insist on terms. (See Appendix.)

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hide References (15 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (15):
    • Aristophanes, Peace, 475
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.73
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.118
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.17
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.40
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.69
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.81
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.89
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.15
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.82
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.87
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.13
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.40
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.42
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.16
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