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144. I have many other reasons for believing that you will conquer, but you must not be extending1 your empire while you are at war, or run into unnecessary dangers. I am more afraid of our own mistakes than of our enemies' designs. [2] But of all this I will speak again when the time of action comes; for the present, let us send the ambassadors away, giving them this answer: ‘ That we will not exclude the Megarians from our markets and harbours, if the Lacedaemonians will cease to expel foreigners, whether ourselves or our allies, from Sparta; for the treaty no more forbids the one than the other. That we will concede independence to the cities, if they were independent when we made the treaty, and as soon as the Lacedaemonians allow their allied states a true independence, not for the interest of Lacedaemon, but everywhere for their own. Also that we are willing to offer arbitration according2 to the treaty. And that we do not want to begin a war, but intend to defend ourselves if attacked. ’ This answer will be just, and befits the dignity of the city. [3] We must be aware however that war will come; and the more willing we are to accept the situation, the less ready will our enemies be to lay hands upon us. Remember that where dangers are greatest, there the greatest honours are to be won by men and states. [4] Our fathers, when they withstood the Persian, had no such3 power as we have; what little they had they forsook: not by good fortune but by wisdom, and not by power but by courage, they drove the Barbarian away and raised us to our present height of greatness. We must be worthy of them, and resist our enemies to the utmost, that we may hand down our empire unimpaired to posterity.

1 Let our answer be: We will grant independence to our allies, if the Lacedaemonians will allow their subjects to choose their own form of government.

2 We do not want war, but offer arbitration. Still peace is hopeless; and we must prepare for war in a spirit worthy of our fathers.

3 B.C. 432.

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