'If then we can once unite, there is no reason for discouragement. But there is every reason why you, who are our allies, should meet us more cordially. We may be sure that help will come to us from Peloponnesus, and the Peloponnesians are far bettersoldiers than the Athenians. Let no one think1
that the caution which professes to be in league with both, and therefore gives aid to neither, is just to us or safe for you.
Such a policy, though it may pretend to impartiality, is really unjust. For if through your absence the victor overcomes and the vanquished falls, have you not abandoned the one to his fate, and allowed the other to commit a crime? How much nobler would it be to join your injured kinsmen, and thereby maintain the common interest of Sicily and save the Athenians, whom you call your friends, from doing wrong!
'To sum up:—We Syracusans are quite aware that there is no use in our dilating to you2
or to any one else on matters which you know as well as ourselves. But we prefer a prayer to you; and solemnly adjure you to consider, that, if you reject us, we, who are Dorians like yourselves, are betrayed by you to Ionians, our inveterate enemies, who are seeking our ruin.
If the Athenians subdue us, your decision will have gained them the day; but the honour will be all their own, and the authors of their victory will be the prize of their victory.
If on the other hand we conquer, you who have brought the peril upon us will have to suffer the penalty.
Reflect then, and take your choice: will you have present safety and slavery, or the hope of delivering yourselves and us, and thereby escaping the dishonour of submitting to the Athenian yoke, and the danger of our enmity, which will not be short-lived? '