'I must endeavour first of all to remove a prejudice against myself, lest through suspicion of me you should turn a deaf ear to considerations of public interest.
My ancestors in consequence1
of some misunderstanding renounced the office of Lacedaemonian proxenus; I myself resumed it, and did you many good offices, especilially after your misfortune at Pylos. m My anxiety to serve you never ceased, but when you were making peace with Athens you negotiated through my enemies, thereby conferring power on them, and bringing dishonour upon me2
And if I then turned to the Mantineans and Argives and opposed you in that or in any other way, you were rightly served, and any one who while the wound was recent may have been unduly exasperated against me should now take another and a truer view. Or, again, if any one thought the worse of me because I was inclined to the people, let him acknowledge that here too there is no real ground of offence.
Any power adverse to despotism is called democracy, and my family have always retained the leadership of the people in their hands because we have been the persistent enemies of tyrants. Living too under a popular government, how could we avoid in a great degree conforming to circumstances? However, we did our best to observe political moderation amid the prevailing licence.
But there were demagogues, as there always have been, who led the people into evil ways, and it was they who drove me out3
. Whereas we were the leaders of the state as a whole4
, and not of a part only;
it was our view that all ought to combine in maintaining that form of government which had been inherited by us, and under which the city enjoyed the greatest freedom and glory. Of course, like all sensible men, we knew only too well what democracy is, and I better than any one, who have so good a reason for abusing it. The follies of democracy are universally admitted, and there is nothing new to be said about them. But we could not venture to change our form of government when an enemy like yourselves was so near to us.