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δημοκρατίαν—object of ἔγνων, but in sense subj. of ἄρχειν. ἀδύνατον, ‘incapable of,’ the neut. as in Homer's οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη. ἐν—of the cause.
ἀδεὲς καὶ ἀνεπιβούλευτον give the same thing from two sides: you neither fear your neighbour nor cause him to fear you. ὅ τι ἂν . . ἁμάρτητε ἢ . . ἐνδῶτε—we know too little of the working of the Athenian empire to specify acts of clemency on the part of Athens. From what we do know we should say that Athens was severe enough; but we must remember that the standard of the times was very different from ours: any right that Athens did not take from her allies she regarded as a privilege granted to them. οἴκτῳ is parallel to λόγῳ πεισθέντες; supply αὐτοῖς to ἐνδῶτε. ἐπικινδύνως . . ἐς ὑμᾶς—the emphasis is on this: hence the disloeation of the order. Tr. ‘you think that such weakness does not . . bring danger to you.’ οὐκ ἐς τὴν . . χάριν—‘without gaining the gratitude’; they take a concession as a sign of weakness. τυραννίδα ἔχετε τὴν ἀρχήν—repeating words attributed to Pericles at II. 63. καὶ πρὸς . . ἀρχομένους—paralleI to τυραννίδα, the constr. with πρός (after ἀρχή) like φιλία or πόλεμος πρός. οἵ—very weakly supported by MS. evidence. There is a similar case at IV. 10, where the MSS. give τὸ δυσέμβατον ἡμέτερον νομίζω: μενόντων μὲν ἡμῶν ξύμμαχον γίγνεται, but Dionysius quotes the passage with ὃ μενόντων etc. Without the rel., we must assume an epexegesis of ἄκοντας ἀρχομένους with asyndeton. ἐξ ὧν . . περιγένησθε—for ἐξ ἐκείνων ἄ, internal accus. to π., ‘as a consequence of the superiority you have established over them by strength (hinting at the successive reductions to the status of tributary subjects) and not by their willing obedience.’ εὔνοια as Arist. Eth. IX. 5, 3 says, δι᾽ ἀρετὴν καὶ ἐπιείκειάν τινα γίνεται, ὅταν τῳ φανῇ καλός τις ἢ ἀνδρεῖος.
ὧν ἂν δόξῃ πέρι—for περὶ ἐκείνων ἃ ἃν δόξῃ, ‘as regards measures that we have passed.’ Thus the neut. nom. ἅ is here attracted as in VII. 67 βλάπτεσθαι ἀφ᾽ ὧν ἡμῖν παρεσκεύασται. In (ἃ) ἂν δόξῃ the allusion is to ψηφίσματα passed in the Ecclesia. χείροσι νόμοις . . ἀκύροις—it has been thought that there is an allusion here to definite νόμοι that forbade a psephism to be reconsidered, perhaps within some fixed period (cf. n. on c. 36, 5); but the reference seems more general. (The objection that Cleon would, if there were such an allnsion, definitely threaten a γραφὴ παρανόμων has not much force, for (1) Thuc. does not deal in the technicalities of Attic legal procedure, which were not of sufficiently ‘universal’ interest for him, with his view of history; and (2) in VI. 14 sqq., where Nicias alludes to some rules about the re-discussion of a psephism, Alcibiades, in his rejoinder, makes no capital out of the rules at all—does not even allude to the point.) Arnold thought that the psephism under revision is itself meant under νόμοι, and that the confusion is meant to be intentional on Cleon's part. It is best, I think, to consider the passage intentionally vague and rhetorical: revision of psephisms leads easily to revision of laws in a democracy. This general application is borne out by ἀμαθία τε κτλ., which would be an odd addition to a clause containing a precise reference. κρείσσων ἐστίν—the personal constr.: ‘it is better for a state to have.’ (This explanation is strongly supported by ὠφελιμώτερον (sc. πόλει) and ἄμεινον οἰκοῦσι τὰς πόλεις. Classen says ‘is stronger’; but the point is what is good for a state, not what a state can do.) ἀμαθία μετὰ σωφροσύνης—‘ignorance when combined with self-restraint,’ no doubt a hit at the πεπαιδευμένοι, and the sentiment so outrageous to an educated Athenian, that we must assume that it was really uttered by Cleon in substance. For the evil results of ἀμαθία note the following passage (Euripides, frag.): γνώμαις γὰρ ἀνδρὸς εὖ μὲν οἰκοῦνται πόλεις εὖ δ᾽ οἶκος, εἴς τ᾽ αὖ πόλεμον ἰσχύει μέγα: σοφὸν γὰρ ἓν βούλευμα τὰς πολλὰς χέρας νικᾷ σὺν ὄχλῳ δ᾽ ἀμαθία πλεῖστον κακόν. σωφροσύνη and ἀκολασία are often contrasted in the language of popular philosophy: εὑρήσετε τὴν μὲν ἀκολασίαν . . τῶν κακῶν αἰτίαν γιγνομένην, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην τῶν ἀγαθῶν, Isocr. de pace § 119. In οἵ τε φαυλότεροι κτλ. we meet a sentiment that is frequent in Euripides. πρός—‘as compared with.’
τῶν τε νόμων σοφώτεροι—hence they despise the laws: a reference back to μηδὲ γνωσόμεθα etc. τῶν τε αἰεὶ . . περιγίγνεσθαι—the τε . . τε puts the contempt for laws and the opposition to all counsel on the same footing as joint parts of their conduct. περιγίγνεσθαι, ‘to get the better’ of it, by opposing it. ὡς ἐν ἄλλοις μείζοσιν . . γνώμην—‘as though they could not find any greater subject on which to display their talent’; the subject in debate is just the one, they think, on which they are qualified to give an opinion. (Cf. VII. 64 οὐκ ἂν ἐν ἄλλῳ μᾶλλον καιρῷ ἀποδειξἀμενος.) ἀδυνατώτεροι δὲ . . λόγον—in form exactly parallel to the preceding clause; but τοῦ καλῶς εἰπόντος is certainly possessive gen. to λόγον, together with which it refers to τῶν αἰεὶ λεγομένων ἐς τὸ κοινόν above. To ἀδυνατώτεροι supply ἢ οἱ ξυνετώτεροι. ἀπὸ τοῦ ἴσου—‘fair,’ free from personal bias, cf. c. 42; more often ‘on equal terms.’ For ἀγωνιστής as a ‘rhetorical prize-fighter,’ Bloomfield cites several exx. 34 ὀρθοῦνται—‘have a prosperous course’; cf. particularly II. 60 πόλιν ὀρθουμένην )( σφαλλομένην. Here ὀρθοῦνται τὰ πλείω corresponds to πολλὰ σφάλλουσι τὰς πόλεις above. There is an exactly similar passage in Soph. Antig. 673-6. (The rendering ‘judge rightly’ is certainly wrong.)
ὥς—for οὕτως, usually only with καί, οὐδέ, μηδέ, in prose. παρὰ δόξαν—‘contrary to our opinion,’ not, as in the other cases in Thuc., ‘unexpectedly.’ (The conjecture παρὰ τὸ δόξαν, ‘contrary to what has been decided,’ is plausible; but I agree with Bloomfield that this is not really in point here: it is not borne out by τῶν αἰεὶ λεγομένων . . περιγίγνεσθαι and τοῦ καλῶς εὶπόντος μέμψασθαι λόγον.)
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