89.‘Soldiers, having observed your fear of the enemy's number, I have called you together, not enduring to see you terrified with things that are not terrible.
For first, they have prepared this great number and odds of galleys for that they were overcome before and because they are even in their own opinions too weak for us.And next, their present boldness proceeds only from their knowledge in land service, in confidence whereof (as if to be valiant were peculiar unto them) they are now come up, wherein having for the most part prospered, they think to do the same in service by sea.
But in reason the odds must be ours in this as well as it is theirs in the other kind.For in courage they exceed us not;and as touching the advantage of either side, we may better be bold now than they.
And the Lacedaemonians, who are the leaders of the confederates, bring them to fight for the greatest part (in respect of the opinion they have of us) against their wills.For else they would never have undertaken a new battle after they were once so clearly overthrown.
Fear not therefore any great boldness on their part.But the fear which they have of you is far both greater and more certain, not only for that you have overcome them before, but also for this, that they would never believe you would go about to resist unless you had some notable thing to put in practice upon them.
For when the enemy is the greater number, as these are now, they invade chiefly upon confidence of their strength;but they that are much the fewer must have some great and sure design when they dare fight unconstrained.
Wherewith these men now amazed fear us more for our unlikely preparation than they would if it were more proportionable.Besides, many great armies have been overcome by the lesser through unskilfulness and some also by timorousness, both which we ourselves are free from.
As for the battle, I will not willingly fight it in the gulf nor go in thither, seeing that to a few galleys with nimbleness and art against many without art, straitness of room is disadvantage.For neither can one charge with the beak of the galley as is fit unless he have sight of the enemy afar off, or if he be himself over-pressed, again get clear.Nor is there any getting through them or turning to and fro at one's pleasure, which are all the works of such galleys as have their advantage in agility;but the sea fight would of necessity be the same with a battle by land wherein the greater number must have the better.
But of this I shall myself take the best care I am able.In the meantime, keep you your order well in the galleys, and every man receive his charge readily;and the rather because the enemy is at anchor so near us.In the fight have in great estimation order and silence as things of great force in most military actions, especially in a fight by sea;and charge these your enemies according to the worth of your former acts.
You are to fight for a great wager, either to destroy the hope of the Peloponnesian navies or to bring the fear of the sea nearer home to the Athenians.
Again, let me tell you, you have beaten them once already;and men once overcome will not come again to the danger so well resolved as before.’
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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