previous next
78. 'If any one fancies that not he, but the Syracusan, is the enemy of the Athenian, and asks1 indignantly ‘ Why should I risk myself for you?’ let him consider that in fighting for my country he will be at the same time fighting in mine for his own2. And he will fight with less danger, because I shall still be in existence; he will not carry on the struggle alone, for he will have me for an ally3. Let him consider that the Athenian is not really seeking to chastise the enmity of the Syracusan, but under pretence of attacking me may be quite as desirous of drawing hard and fast the bonds of friendship with him. [2] And if any one from envy, or possibly from fear (for greatness is exposed to both), would have Syracuse suffer that we may receive a lesson, but survive for his own security, he is asking to have a thing which human power cannot compass. For a man may regulate his own desires, but he is not the dispenser of fortune4; [3] the time may come when he will find himself mistaken, and while mourning over his own ruin he may possibly wish that he could still have my prosperity to envy. But he cannot bring me back again when he has once abandoned me and has refused to take his share in the common danger, which, far from being imaginary, is only too real. For though in name you may be saving me, in reality you will be saving yourselves. [4] And you especially, Camarinaeans, who are 'our next neighbours, and on whom the danger will fall next, should have anticipated all this, and not be so slack in your alliance. Instead of our coming to you, you should have come to us. Suppose the Athenians had gone to Camarina first, would you not at this moment be begging and praying for assistance? Then why did not you present yourselves at Syracuse, and say to us in our time of danger, ‘Never yield to the enemy’? But, hitherto, neither you nor any of the Sicilians have shown a spirit like this.

1 In fighting for us you are fighting for yourselves. You might like us to be humbled, but you cannot secure the right amount of humiliation; and when we are fallen you will want to have us back. You should have offered help, and not have waited to be asked.

2 Cp. 3.13 med.

3 Reading ἔρημος.

4 Cp. 4.64 init.

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 (Charles F. Smith)
load focus Notes (E.C. Marchant, 1909)
load focus Greek (1942)
load focus English (Thomas Hobbes, 1843)
load focus English (1910)
hide References (37 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: