65.In this speech did Pericles endeavour to appease the anger of the Athenians towards himself and withal to withdraw their thoughts from the present affliction.
But they, though for the state in general they were won and sent to the Lacedaemonians no more but rather inclined to the war, yet they were everyone in particular grieved for their several losses: the poor because entering the war with little, they lost that little;and the rich because they had lost fair possessions, together with goodly houses and costly furniture in them, in the country;but the greatest matter of all was that they had war instead of peace.
And altogether, they deposed not their anger till they had first fined him in a sum of money.
Nevertheless, not long after (as is the fashion of the multitude) they made him general again and committed the whole state to his administration.For the sense of their domestic losses was now dulled, and for the need of the commonwealth they prized him more than any other whatsoever.
For as long as he was in authority in the city in time of peace, he governed the same with moderation and was a faithful watchman of it;and in his time it was at the greatest.
And after the war was on foot, it is manifest that he therein also foresaw what it could do.He lived after the war began two years and six months.
And his foresight in the war was best known after his death.For he told them that if they would be quiet and look to their navy, and during this war seek no further dominion nor hazard the city itself, they should then have the upper hand.But they did contrary in all, and in such other things besides as seemed not to concern the war managed the state, according to their private ambition and covetousness, perniciously both for themselves and their confederates.What succeeded well the honour and profit of it came most to private men, and what miscarried was to the city's detriment in the war.
The reason whereof was this: that being a man of great power both for his dignity and wisdom, and for bribes manifestly the most incorrupt, he freely controlled the multitude and was not so much led by them as he led them.Because, having gotten his power by no evil arts, he would not humour them in his speeches but out of his authority durst anger them with contradiction.
Therefore, whensoever he saw them out of season insolently bold, he would with his orations put them into a fear;and again, when they were afraid without reason, he would likewise erect their spirits and embolden them.
It was in name a state democratical, but in fact a government of the principal man.But they that came after, being more equal amongst themselves and affecting everyone to be the chief, applied themselves to the people and let go the care of the commonwealth.
From whence amongst many other errors, as was likely in a great and dominant city, proceeded also the voyage into Sicily, which was not so much upon mistaking those whom they went against as for want of knowledge in the senders of what was necessary for those that went the voyage.For through private quarrels about who should bear the greatest sway with the people they both abated the vigour of the army and then also first troubled the state at home with division.
Being overthrown in Sicily and having lost, besides other ammunition, the greatest part of their navy, and the city being then in sedition, yet they held out three years both against their first enemies and the Sicilians with them and against most of their revolted confederates besides, and also afterwards against Cyrus the king's son, who took part with and sent money to the Peloponnesians to maintain their fleet and never shrunk till they had overthrown themselves with private dissensions.
So much was in Pericles above other men at that time that he could foresee by what means the city might easily have outlasted the Peloponnesians in this war.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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