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The speech falls into three parts: (1) repelling the suspicion of disloyalty (§§ 1-3), (2) refusing the maintenance offered (§§ 3, 4), (3) demanding an active campaign (§ 5).

τὸ Ἑλληνικόν. This noble assertion of Hellenic nationality may be unhistorical, but it is in harmony with the spirit of the struggle against the Mede. As Myres points out (Anthropology and the Classics, p. 134), ‘H. here first gives us a reasoned scheme of ethnological criteria.’ ‘Common descent, common language, common religion, and common culture, these are the four things that make a nation one, and conversely the things which, if unconformable, hold nations apart.’ He further thinks that H. gives the four criteria in what he regards as the order of their relative importance, and contrasts the somewhat similar order, laying stress first on physical characteristics, adopted by H. (iv. 23) in describing the Argippaei, with that of Aeschylus in the Supplices (234 f.).

ὑμῖν ... ἐκπεπλήρωται, ‘the kindness on your part is complete.’ ὑμῖν and ὑμεῶν sup. are put forward for emphasis. Stein thinks the tone of this one of polite irony, indicating that it was written at a time of tension between Sparta and Athens, but this is uncertain. H. does, however, by his vigorous insistence on the patriotism of Athens, hint at least that Sparta had shown scant gratitude for the great service done her.

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    • Aeschylus, Suppliant Maidens, 234
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