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76. At all events, Lacedaemonians, we may retort that you, in the exercise of your supremacy, manage1 the cities of Peloponnesus to suit your own views; and that if you, and not we, had persevered in the command of the allies long enough to be hated, you would have been quite as intolerable to them as we are, and would have been compelled, for the sake of your own safety, to rule with a strong hand. [2] An empire was offered to us: can you wonder2 that, acting as human nature always will, we accepted it and refused to give it up again, constrained by three allpowerful motives, honour, fear, interest? We are not the first who have aspired to rule; the world has ever held that the weaker must be kept down by the stronger. And we think that we are worthy of power; and there was a time when you thought so too; but now, when you mean expediency you talk about justice. Did justice ever deter any one from taking by force whatever he could? [3] Men who indulge the natural ambition of empire deserve credit if they are in any degree more careful of justice than they need be. [4] How moderate we are would speedily appear if others took our place; indeed our very moderation, which should be our glory, has been unjustly converted into a reproach.

1 The Lacedaemonians would have been worse than they were.

2 B.C. 432.

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