139.Thus the demand for the banishment of the accursed made by the Lacedaemonians on
the1 occasion of their first
embassy was met by a counter demand on the part of2 Athens.They came again and again, and told the Athenians that they must raise the siege of
Potidaea and restore Aegina to independence.
Above all, and in the plainest terms, they insisted3 that if they wanted to avert war, they must rescind the decree
which excluded the Megarians from the market of Athens and the harbours in the Athenian
But the Athenians would not listen to them, nor rescind the decree; alleging in reply
that the Megarians had tilled the holy ground and the neutral borderland, and had
received their runaway slaves.
Finally, there came from Sparta an embassy, consisting of Rhamphias, Melesippus, and
Hegesander, who said nothing of all this, but only, “The Lacedaemonians desire to
maintain peace;and peace there may be, if you will restore independence to the
Hellenes.”Whereupon the Athenians called an assembly and held a discussion;it seemed best to
them to make up their minds and to give a complete and final answer.
Many came forward to speak, and much was said on both sides, some affirming that they
ought to go to war, and others that this decree about the Megarians should be rescinded
and not stand in the way of peace.At last Pericles the son of Xanthippus, who was the first man of his day at Athens, and
the greatest orator and statesman, came forward and advised as follows:—
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