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56. `The Thebans have inflicted many injuries upon us, and their latest crime, as you are well1 aware, is the cause of our present misfortunes. [2] They came, not only in time of peace, but at a holy season, and attempted to seize our city; we righteously and in accordance with universal law defended ourselves and punished the aggressor; and there is no reason why we should now suffer for their satisfaction. [3] If you take your own present advantage and their present hatred to be the measure of justice, you will prove yourselves, not upright and impartial judges, but the slaves of expediency. [4] The Thebans may appear serviceable now, but of far greater service to you were we and the other Hellenes when you were in far greater danger. For now you invade and menace others, but in those days the Barbarian was threatening to enslave us all, and they were on his side. May we not fairly set our former patriotism against our present offence, if indeed we have offended? [5] You will find that the one more than outweighs the other; for our service to you was performed at a time when very few Hellenes opposed their courage to the power of Xerxes; they were then held in honour, not2 who, looking to their own advantage, made terms with the invader3 and were safe, but who, in the face of danger, dared the better part. [6] Of that number were we, and there was a time when we received the highest honour at your hands, but now we fear that these same principles, which have led us to prefer a just alliance with the Athenians to an interested alliance with you, will be our destruction. [7] Yet when men have been consistent in their conduct, others should show themselves consistent in their judgment of it4. For true expediency is only this—to have an enduring sense of gratitude towards good allies for their services, while we5 do not neglect our own immediate interest.

1 The Thebans attacked us in time of peace: were we wrong in resisting them? If we have erred at all, is not the error outweighed by our former patriotism? Yet the same principle on which we acted then made us refuse to leave the Athenians.

2 Or, reading αὐτοῖς, and referring the word to the Persians: 'who, looking to advantage, forwarded the course of the invader.'

3 Or, reading αὐτοῖς, and referring the word to the Persians: 'who, looking to advantage, forwarded the course of the invader.'

4 This may refer to the judgment of the Spartans on the Plataeans, or to the adhesion of the Plataeans to the Athenians; see note.

5 Reading ἡμῖν

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  • Commentary references to this page (32):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1-150
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 2, 2.5
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 7, 7.48
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.2
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.30
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.37
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.39
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.43
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.57
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.58
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.59
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.60
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.63
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.64
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.65
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.66
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.67
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.81
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 3, 3.9
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER XXXII
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER V
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER LXXIII
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 4, CHAPTER LXXXV
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 5, 5.11
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 5, 5.16
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 5, 5.54
    • Harold North Fowler, Commentary on Thucydides Book 5, 5.11
    • Harold North Fowler, Commentary on Thucydides Book 5, 5.72
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.33
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.55
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, Speech of the Athenian envoys. Chaps. 73-78.
    • Charles F. Smith, Commentary on Thucydides Book 7, 7.50
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 1.3.2
    • Basil L. Gildersleeve, Syntax of Classical Greek, Tenses
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
    • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Thuc. 7.18
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (12):
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