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17. 'Men of Athens, the Lacedaemonians have sent us to negotiate for the recovery of our1 countrymen in the island, in the hope that you may be induced to grant us terms such as will be at once advantageous to you and not inglorious to us in our present misfortune. [2] If we speak at length, this will be no departure from the custom of our country. On the contrary, it is our manner not to say much where few words will suffice, but to be more liberal of speech2 when something important has to be said and words are the ministers of action3. [3] Do not receive what we say in a hostile spirit, or imagine that we deem you ignorant and are instructing you, but regard us simply as putting you in mind4 of what you already know to be good policy. [4] For you may turn your present advantage to excellent account, not only keeping what you have won, but gaining honour and glory as well. You will then escape the reverse which is apt to be experienced by men who attain any unusual good fortune; for, having already succeeded beyond all expectation, they see no reason why they should set any limit to their hopes and desires. [5] Whereas they who have oftenest known the extremes of either kind of fortune ought to be most suspicious of prosperity; and this may naturally be expected to be the lesson which experience has taught both us and you.

1 We use few or many words as the occasion requires. You have now a great opportunity of placing yourselves above the chances of fortune.

2 Or, taking λόγοις with διδάσκοντας: 'when some weighty communication has to be made by words, if anything is to be really done.'

3 Or, taking λόγοις with διδάσκοντας: 'when some weighty communication has to be made by words, if anything is to be really done.'

4 Cp. 4.95 init.; 4.126 init.; 5.60 fin.

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  • Commentary references to this page (15):
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Ajax, 537
    • Sir Richard C. Jebb, Commentary on Sophocles: Electra, 214
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 2, 2.87
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 2, 2.88
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 5, 5.34
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 5, 5.39
    • C.E. Graves, Commentary on Thucydides: Book 5, 5.89
    • Gilbert A. Davies, Commentary on Demosthenes: Philippics I, II, III, 42
    • E.C. Marchant, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.76
    • Harold North Fowler, Commentary on Thucydides Book 5, 5.103
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.127
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.137
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.25
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.5
    • Charles D. Morris, Commentary on Thucydides Book 1, 1.83
  • Cross-references to this page (5):
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.1.1
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.2.4
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.5.2
    • Raphael Kühner, Bernhard Gerth, Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, KG 3.pos=7.6
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (3):
    • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Thuc. 4.126
    • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Thuc. 4.95
    • Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Thuc. 5.69
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.126
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.95
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.60
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (15):
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