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87. 'The late sea-fight, Peloponnesians, may have made some of you anxious about the one1 which is impending, but it really affords no just ground for alarm. [2] In that battle we were, as you know, ill-prepared, and our whole expedition had a military and not a naval object. Fortune was in many ways unpropitious to us, and this being our first sea-fight we may possibly have suffered a little from inexperience. The defeat which ensued was not the result of cowardice; [3] nor should the unconquerable quality which is inherent in our minds, and refuses to acknowledge the victory of mere force, be depressed by the accident of the event. For though fortune may sometimes bring disaster, yet the spirit of a brave man is always the same, and while he retains his courage he will never allow inexperience to be an excuse for misbehaviour. And whatever be your own inexperience, it is more than compensated by your superiority in valour. [4] The skill of your enemies which you so greatly dread, if united with courage, may be able in the moment of danger to remember and execute the lesson which it has learned, but without courage no skill can do anything at such a time. For fear makes men forget, and skill which cannot fight is useless. [5] And therefore against their greater skill set your own greater valour, and against the defeat which so alarms you set the fact that you were unprepared. But now you have a larger fleet; [6] this turns the balance in your favour; and you will fight close to a friendly shore under the protection of heavy-armed troops. Victory is generally on the side of those who are more numerous and better equipped. [7] So that we have absolutely no reason for anticipating failure. Even our mistakes will be an additional advantage, because they will be a lesson to us. [8] Be of good courage, then, and let every one of you, pilot or sailor, do his own duty and maintain the post assigned to him. [9] We will order the attack rather better than your old commanders, and so give nobody an excuse for cowardice. But, if any one should be inclined to waver, he shall be punished as he deserves, while the brave shall be honoured with the due rewards of their valour.'

1 You a, terrified by our late mishap. But you were then unprepared. Your superior courage outweighs their superior skill, for without courage sill is useless. We for our part will arrange the attack better. But you must all do your duty.

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load focus Notes (E.C. Marchant, 1891)
load focus Greek (1942)
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load focus English (Thomas Hobbes, 1843)
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