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47. 'Think of another great error into which you would fall if you listened to Cleon. [2] At present the popular party are everywhere our1 friends; either they do not join with the oligarchs, or, if compelled to do so, they are always ready to turn against the authors of the revolt; and so in going to war with a rebellious state you have the multitude on your side. [3] But, if you destroy the people of Mytilenè who took no part in the revolt, and who voluntarily surrendered the city as soon as they got arms into their hands; in the first place they were your benefactors, and to slay them would be a crime; in the second place you will play into the hands of the oligarchic parties, who henceforward, in fomenting a revolt, will at once have the people on their side; for you will have proclaimed to all that the innocent and the guilty will share the same fate. [4] Even if they were guilty you should wink at their conduct, and not allow the only friends whom you have left to be converted into enemies. [5] Far more conducive to the maintenance of our empire would it be to suffer wrong willingly, than for the sake of justice to put to death those whom we had better spare. Cleon may speak of a punishment which is just and also expedient, but you will find that, in any proposal like his, the two cannot be combined.

1 If you destroy the Mytilenaeans who put their city into your hands, you will show ingratitude and alienate the popular party everywhere. Even if they were guilty, it would be more expedient to pardon them.

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hide References (21 total)
  • Commentary references to this page (12):
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.21
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.39
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.45
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.46
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.48
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.62
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.78
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER XVII
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER LV
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER LXII
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.39
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.58
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.2.4
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Selections from the Attic Orators, 1.33
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (7):
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