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ἐπισταμένοις δ᾽ ὐμῖν γράφω—you do not need to be told that. Both in Greek and, still oftener, in Lat. a 1st pers. sing. is used where we prefer to avoid it. With the perf. in Gk., the impers. pass. is preferred to the 1st pers. sing. act. βραχεῖα ἀκμὴ πληρώματος—generally taken to mean the efficient part of a ship's crew is small; and this accords well with the next clause. But the Schol. says οὐ πολλῷ χρόνῳ ἀκμάζει ἡ ναυτικὴ δύναμις, with which agrees Plutarch, Caes. 40 παρεσκευασμένος ἄριστα πᾶσι πρὸς τὸν χρόνον ἠξίου τρίβειν καὶ μαραίνειν τὴν τῶν πολεμίων ἀκμὴν βραχεῖαν οὖσαν. The Schol. is probably right, though βραχὺς in Thuc often = ‘small.’ καὶ ὀλίγοι τῶν ναυτῶν—it is but few of the sailors that both start the ship, and (then) keep rowing (all the time). ἐξορμᾶν means that the sailors start ‘working,’ ξυνέχειν that only few of them continue to work, ξυνεχῶς τὴν εἰρεσίαν ποιοῦνται. Too many of those who work at first ‘get slack’ after a short time: others reserve themselves at the start.
τούτων—Thuc. is very fond of putting the ‘partitive’ τούτων first in the sentence. πάντων ἀπορώτατον—note the idiom. Dem. 8.35 πάντων ἀνθρώπων φαυλότατοι; Dem. 8.58 ἀνοητότατος πάντων; Dem. 9.10 πάντων εὐηθέστατοι; Dem. 3.16 πάντων αἴσχιστα; Dem. 3.31 πάντων ἀνδρειότατον. τό τε μὴ . . . εἶναι . . . καὶ ὅτι—a clause with ὅτι is often combined with a clause in different construction, e.g. Dem. 19.203 ἐπιδεῖξαι καὶ ὅτι ψεύσεται καὶ τὴν δικαίαν ἥτις ἐστὶν ἀπολογία. χαλεπαὶ . . . ἄρξαι—cf. VI. 42 εὐκοσμότεροι καὶ ῥᾴους ἄρχειν. αἱ ὑμέτεραι φύσεις—the common complaint that with Athenian freedom was mingled ἀταξία. The opponents of democracy ascribed the defect to ignorance. It was, however, mainly caused by the too rapid development of the Athenian polity after the Persian wars; the people acquired democratic institutions before they had mastered the lesson of obedience. Only exceptional men like Themistocles and Pericles were able to remedy the defect. ἐπιπληρωσόμεθα—the fut. expressing possibility after the rel. in primary sequence, the only construction in Attie prose, except where the delib. subj. is possible. Homer uses also the subj., generally with κέν. ἀφ᾽ ὦν . . . γίγνεσθαι—both the men that we have and the men that we lose come of necessity from the men that we brought out with us. τά τε ὄντα refers to ὀλίγοι τῶν ναυτῶν above: though but few of the sailors in the ship are really efficient, yet we cannot turn the crews out and supply their places with others —or, if we do, we must draw on the reserves we brought; but they are badly needed to supply our losses. τε . . . καὶ—two distinct things are here joined without repetition of the art., as in Eur. Ion 7 τά τ᾽ ὄντα καὶ μέλλοντα θεσπίζων ἀεί. καὶ ἀπαναλισκόμενα—refers to βραχεῖα ἀκμὴ πληρώματος above. Sickness, exhaustion, and death remove many men in the crews: such losses represent a dead loss on the total sent out, since there is no source of supply except the reserves Notice (1) the chiastie arrangement here—βραχεῖα ἀκμὴ . . . ὀλίγοι . . . τὰ ὄντα . . . ἀπαναλισκόμενα—of which Thuc. is very fond. (2) the neut., used because totals are being dealt with. αἱ γὰρ νῦν—for αἱ γὰρ πόλεις αἱ νῦν οὖσαι ξυμ. Νάξος καὶ Κατάνη—Naxos, though the oldest Greek city in Sicily, was never important. It was destroyed in 403 B.C Pausamas says that no traces of it remained in his day (a slight exaggeration). The site is now oceupied by an orange grove. Cataha was a colony from Naxos. It is an uninteresting town, the aneient remains having been buried by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions; but it is now the second city in Sicily in point of size.
ἓν ἔτι . . . ὥστε—i.e. ‘if they only succeed in gaining over the Italian citres’; the ὥστε clause being epexegetic of ἓν. Cf. Herod. V. 31 εἰ γὰρ τοῦτό γε δοκέει ὑμῖν εἶναι χρηστὸν ὥστε τυραννεύεσθαι τὰς πόλις; Theocr. 14, 58 εἰ δ᾽ οὕτως ἄρα τοι δοκεῖ ὥστ᾽ ἀποδαμεῖν. τῆς Ἰταλίας—already before the Peloponnesian war both the Athenians and Spartans had made alliances in Italy, by which they understood only the S.W. corner of Italy, from Heraclea on the east and the Laus on the west. ὁρῶντα . . . ἐπιβοηθούντων—cf. II. 25 ὄντι ἀσθενεῖ καὶ ἀνθρώπων οὐκ ἐνόντων. ἐν ᾧ—see c. 11.1. διαπεπολεμήσεται—they will bring the war to an end without striking a blow.
ἡδἰω μὲν ἂν—Demosthenes, in the 3rd Olynthiac, says that the old orators, Aristides, Pericles, Nicias, used to speak the truth, not try to please. So Thuc. says of Pericles. Cf. Livy 22.38 contio verior quam gratior. ἤν τι . . . μὴ—should the event fail to correspond with the pleasant antieipation aroused in you by the evil habit some orators have of speaking πρὸς χάριν, πρὸς ἡδονήν. 24 ἀσφαλέστερον—strikes the key-note of Nicias' policy.
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