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"All you who in that city have participated in its eloquence and learning, show mercy to men who offer their country as a school for the common use of mankind; and do all you, who have taken part in the most holy Mysteries,1 save the lives of those who initiated you, some by way of showing gratitude for kindly services already received and others, who look forward to partaking of them, not in anger depriving yourselves of that hope. [2] For what place is there to which foreigners may resort for a liberal education once the city of the Athenians has been destroyed? Brief is the hatred aroused by the wrong they have committed, but important and many are their accomplishments which claim goodwill.

"But apart from consideration for the city, one might, in examining the prisoners individually, find those who would justly receive mercy. For the allies of Athens, being under constraint because of the superior power of their rulers, were compelled to join the expedition. [3] It follows, then, that if it is just to take vengeance upon those who have done wrong from design, it would be fitting to treat as worthy of leniency those who sin against their will. What shall I say of Nicias, who from the first, after initiating his policy in the interest of the Syracusans, was the only man to oppose the expedition against Sicily, and who has continually looked after the interests of Syracusans resident in Athens and served as their proxenus?2 [4] It would be extraordinary indeed that Nicias, who had sponsored our cause as a politician in Athens, should be punished, and that he should not be accorded humane treatment because of the goodwill he has shown toward us but because of his service in business of his country should meet with implacable punishment, and that Alcibiades, the man who brought on the war against the Syracusans, should escape his deserved punishment both from us and from the Athenians, whereas he who has proved himself by common consent the most humane among Athenians should not even meet with the mercy accorded to all men. [5] Therefore for my part, when I consider the change in his circumstances, I pity his lot. For formerly, as one of the most distinguished of all Greeks and applauded for his knightly character, he was one to be deemed happy and was admired in every city; [6] but now, with hands bound behind his back in a tunic squalid in appearance, he has experienced the piteous state of captivity, as if Fortune wished to give, in the life of this man, an example of her power. The prosperity which Fortune gives it behooves us to bear as human beings should and not show barbarous savagery toward men of our own race."

1 The Eleusinian Mysteries.

2 On the position of proxenus see Book 12.57.2, note. Nicias' speech in opposition to the expedition is given by Thucydides (Thuc. 6.9-14); cp. also his second speech (Thuc. 6.20-23 and Plut. Nic. 12).

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