17.And this hath my youth and madness, supposed to have been very madness, with familiar and fit words wrought upon the power of the Peloponnesians, and shewing reason for my passion, made my madness now no longer to be feared.But as long as I flourish with it, and Nicias is esteemed fortunate, make you use of both our services.And abrogate not your decree touching the voyage into Sicily, as though the power were great you are to encounter withal.
For the number wherewith their cities are populous is but of promiscuous nations, easily shifting and easily admitting new comers, and consequently not sufficiently armed, any of them, for the defence of their bodies, nor furnished, as the custom of the place appointeth, to fight for their country.
But what any of them thinks he may get by fair speech or snatch from the public by sedition, that only he looks after, with purpose, if he fail, to run the country.And it is not likely that such a rabble should either with one consent give ear to what is told them or unite themselves for the administration of their affairs in common;
but if they hear of fair offers, they will one after one be easily induced to come in, especially if there be seditions amongst them, as we hear there are.
And the truth is, there are neither so many men of arms as they boast of, nor doth it appear that there are so many Grecians there in all as the several cities have every one reckoned for their own number.Nay, even Greece hath much belied itself, and was scarce sufficiently armed in all this war past.
So that the business there, for all that I can by fame understand, is even as I have told you, and will yet be easier.For we shall have many of the barbarians, upon hatred of the Syracusians, to take our parts against them there;and if we consider the case aright, there will be nothing to hinder us at home.
For our ancestors, having the same enemies which they say we leave behind us now in our voyage to Sicily, and the Persian besides, did nevertheless erect the empire we now have by our only odds of strength at sea.
And the hope of the Peloponnesians against us was never less than now it is, though their power were also as great as ever;for they would be able to invade our land, though we went not into Sicily;and by sea they can do us no harm though we go, for we shall leave a navy sufficient to oppose theirs behind us.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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