140.Athenians, I say, as I always have said, that we must never yield to the
Peloponnesians,1 although I know that men are persuaded to go to war in one temper of mind, and
act when the time comes in another, and that their resolutions change with the changes
of fortune.But I see that I must give you the same or nearly the same advice which I gave before,
and I call upon those whom my words may convince to maintain our united determination,
even if we should not escape disaster; or else, if our sagacity be justified by success,
to claim no share of the credits.2The movement of events is often as wayward and incomprehensible3 as the course of human thought;and
this is why we ascribe to chance whatever belies our calculation.
For some time past the designs of the Lacedaemonians have been clear enough, and they
are4 still clearer now.Our agreement says that when differences arise, the two parties shall refer them to
arbitration, and in the mean time both are to retain what they have. But for arbitration they never ask; and when it is offered by us, they refuse it5.They want to redress their grievances by arms and not by argument;and now they come to
us, using the language, no longer of expostulation, but of command.
They tell us to quit Potidaea, to leave Aegina independent, and to rescind the decree
respecting the Megarians.These last ambassadors go further still, and announce that we must give the Hellenes
I would have none of you imagine that he will be fighting for a small matter if we
refuse to annul the Megarian decree, of which they make so much, telling us that its
revocation would prevent the war.You should have no lingering uneasiness about this; you are not really going to war for a trifle.
For in the seeming trifle is involved the trial and confirmation of your whole purpose.If you yield to them in a small matter, they will think that you are afraid, and will
immediately dictate some more oppressive condition;but if you are firm, you will prove
to them that they must treat you as their equals.
I still give you my old advice,—Do not yield to the
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