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18. 'Look only at the calamity which has just overtaken us, who formerly enjoyed the greatest1 prestige of any Hellenic state, but are now come hither to ask of you the boon which at one time we should have thought ourselves better able to confer. [2] You cannot attribute our mishap to any want of power; nor to the pride which an increase of power fosters. We were neither stronger nor weaker than before, but we erred in judgment, and to such errors all men are liable. [3] Therefore you should not suppose that, because your city and your empire are powerful at this moment, you will always have fortune on your side. [4] The wise ensure their own safety by not making too sure of their gains, and when disasters come they can meet them more intelligently; they know that war will go on its way whithersoever chance may lead, and will not restrict itself to the limits which he who begins to meddle with it would fain prescribe. They of all men will be least likely to meet with reverses, because they are not puffed up with military success, and they will be most inclined to end the struggle in the hour of victory. It will be for your honour, Athenians, to act thus towards us. [5] And then the victories which you have gained already cannot be attributed to mere luck; as they certainly will be if, rejecting our prayer, you should hereafter encounter disasters, a thing which is not unlikely to happen. Whereas you may if you will leave to posterity a reputation for power and wisdom which no danger can affect.

1 Take warning from our disaster. In your hour of prosperity show that you know when to stop.

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load focus English (Thomas Hobbes, 1843)
load focus Greek (1942)
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