34.‘Let us therefore with courage put in readiness our own forces;let us send to the Siculi to confirm those we have, and to make peace and league with others;and let us send ambassadors to the rest of Sicily to show them that it is a common danger, and into Italy to get them into our league, or at least that they receive not the Athenians.
And in my judgment it were our best course to send also to Carthage, for even they are not without expectation of the same danger.Nay, they are in a continual fear that the Athenians will bring war upon them also, even to their city.So that upon apprehension that if they neglect us the trouble will come home to their own door, they will perhaps, either secretly or openly or some way assist us.And of all that now are, they are the best able to do it, if they please.For they have the most gold and silver, by which the wars and all things else are the best expedited.
Let us also send to Lacedaemon and to Corinth, praying them not only to send their succours hither with speed, but also to set on foot the war there.
But that which I think the best course of all, though through an habit of sitting still you will hardly be brought to it, I will nevertheless now tell you what it is.If the Sicilians all together, or if not all, yet if we and most of the rest, should draw together our whole navy, and with two months' provision go and meet the Athenians at Tarentum and the promontory of Iapygia, and let them see that they must fight for their passage over the Ionian gulf before they fight for Sicily, it would both terrify them the most and also put them into a consideration that we, as the watchmen of our country, come upon them out of an amicable territory (for we shall be received at Tarentum), whereas they themselves have a great deal of sea to pass with all their preparations and cannot keep themselves in their order for the length of the voyage;and that for us it will be an easy matter to assail them, coming up slowly as they do and thin.
Again, if lightening their galleys, they shall come up to us more nimbly and more close together, we shall charge upon them already wearied, or we may, if we please, retire again into Tarentum.Whereas they, if they come over but with a part of their provisions, as to fight at sea, shall be driven into want of victuals in those desert parts, and either staying be there besieged, or, attempting to go by, leave behind them the rest of their provision, and be dejected, as not assured of the cities whether they will receive them or not.
I am therefore of opinion that dismayed with this reckoning they will either not put over at all from Corcyra, or whilst they spend time in deliberating and in sending out to explore how many and in what place we are, the season will be lost and winter come;or deterred with our unlookedfor opposition, they will give over the voyage.And the rather for that as I hear the man of most experience amongst their commanders hath the charge against his will and would take a light occasion to return if he saw any considerable stop made by us in the way.
And I am very sure we should be voiced amongst them to the utmost.And as the reports are, so are men's minds;and they fear more such as they hear will begin with them than such as give out that they will no more but defend themselves, because then they think the danger equal.
Which would be now the case of the Athenians.For they come against us with an opinion that we will not fight, deservedly contemning us because we joined not with the Lacedaemonians to pull them down.
But if they should see us once bolder than they looked for, they would be terrified more with the unexpectedness than with the truth of our power itself.Be persuaded therefore, principally to dare to do this, or if not this, yet speedily to make yourselves otherwise ready for the war, and every man to remember that though to show contempt of the enemy be best in the heat of fight, yet those preparations are the surest that are made with fear and opinion of danger.As for the Athenians, they come;and I am sure are already in the way and want only that they are not now here.’
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
This text was converted to electronic form by optical character recognition and has been proofread to a high level of accuracy.
An XML version of this text is available for download,
with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted
changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.