previous next
10. 'My companions in danger, let none of you now on the eve of battle desire to display his wits1 by reckoning up the sum of the perils which surround us; let him rather resolve to meet the enemy without much thought, but with a lively hope that he will survive them all. In cases like these, when there is no choice, reflection is useless, and the sooner danger comes the better. [2] I am sure that our chances are more than equal if we will only stand firm, and, having so many advantages, do not take fright at the numbers of the enemy and throw them all away. The inaccessibility of the place is one of them; [3] this, however, will only aid us if we maintain our position; when we have once retreated, the ground, though difficult in itself, will be easy enough to the enemy, for there will be no one to oppose him. And if we turn and press upon him he will be more obstinate than ever; for his retreat will be next to impossible. On ship-board the Peloponnesians are easily repelled, but once landed they are as good as we are. Of their numbers again we need not be so much afraid; [4] for, numerous as they are, few only can fight at a time, owing to the difficulty of bringing their ships to shore. We are contending against an army superior indeed in numbers, but they are not our equals in other respects; for they are not on land but on water, and ships require many favourable accidents before they can act with advantage. So that I consider their embarrassments to counterbalance our want of numbers. [5] You are Athenians, who know by experience the difficulty of disembarking in the presence of an enemy, and that if a man is not frightened out of his wits at the splashing of oars and the threatening look of a ship bearing down upon him, but is determined to hold his ground, no force can move him. It is now your turn to be attacked, and I call on you to stand fast and not to let the enemy touch the beach at all. Thus you will save yourselves and the place.'

1 Demosthenes advises his men not to think too much before they fight. The chances are in their favour. The place is inaccessible if they keep their ground, but if they retire, very accessible indeed. They are on land, the enemy on water. Let them stand firm, and keep him off the beach.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (C.E. Graves, 1884)
load focus English (Thomas Hobbes, 1843)
load focus English (1910)
load focus Greek (1942)
hide References (58 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: