40.‘We must not therefore give our confederates hope of pardon, either impetrable by words or purchasable by money, as if their errors were but such as are commonly incident to humanity.For these did us not an injury unwillingly but wittingly conspired against us;
whereas it ought to be involuntary whatsoever is pardonable.Therefore both then at first, and now again, I maintain that you ought not to alter your former decree nor to offend in any of these three most disadvantageous things to empire, pity, delight in plausible speeches, and lenity.
As for pity, it is just to show it on them that are like us and will have pity again but not upon such as not only would not have had pity upon us but must also of necessity have been our enemies forever hereafter.And for the rhetoricians that delight you with their orations, let them play their prizes in matters of less weight and not in such wherein the city for a little pleasure must suffer a great damage, but they for their well speaking must well have.Lastly for lenity, it is to be used towards those that will be our friends hereafter rather than towards such as being suffered to live will still be as they are, not a jot the less our enemies.
In sum I say only this, that if you follow my advice, you shall do that which is both just in respect of the Mytilenaeans and profitable for yourselves;whereas if you decree otherwise, you do not gratify them but condemn yourselves.For if these have justly revolted, you must unjustly have had dominion over them.Nay though your dominion be against reason, yet if you resolve to hold it, you must also, as a matter conducing thereunto, against reason punish them;or else you must give your dominion over, that you may be good without danger.
But if you consider what was likely they would have done to you if they had prevailed, you cannot but think them worthy the same punishment nor be less sensible, you that have escaped, than they that have conspired, especially they having done the injury first.
For such as do an injury without precedent cause persecute most, and even to the death, him they have done it to, as jealous of the danger his remaining enemy may create him;for he that is wronged without cause and escapeth will commonly be more cruel than if it were against any enemy on equal quarrel.
Let us not therefore betray ourselves, but in contemplation of what you were near suffering and how you once prized above all things else to have them in your power, requite them now accordingly.Be not softened at the sight of their present estate, nor forget the danger that hung over our own heads so lately.Give not only unto these their deserved punishment but also unto the rest of our confederates a clear example that death is their sentence whensoever they shall rebel.Which when they know, you shall the less often have occasion to neglect your enemies and fight against your own confederates.’
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
This text was converted to electronic form by optical character recognition and has been proofread to a high level of accuracy.
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.