previous next
14. 'You to whom I am writing know that the crew of a vessel does not long remain at its1 prime,2 [2] and that the sailors who really start the ship and keep the rowing together are but a fraction of the whole number3 The most hopeless thing of all is that, although I am general, I am not able to put a stop to these disorders, for tempers like yours are not easily controlled, and that we cannot even fill up the crews, whereas the enemy can obtain recruits from many sources. Our daily waste in men and stores can only be replaced out of the supplies which we brought with us; and these we have no means of increasing, for the cities which are now our confederates, Naxos and Catana, are unable to maintain us. [3] There is only one advantage more which the Syracusans can gain over us: if the towns of Italy from which our provisions are derived, seeing in what a plight we are and that you do not come to our help, go over to the enemy, we shall be starved out, and they will have made an end of the war without striking a blow. [4] I could have written you tidings more cheering than these, but none more profitable; for you should be well-informed of our circumstances if you are to take the right steps. Moreover I know your dispositions; you like to hear pleasant things, but afterwards lay the fault on those who tell you them if they are falsified by the event; therefore I think it safer to speak the truth.

1 I cannot prevent these abuses; for your Athenian tempers will not submit to discipline. We are in danger of being starved out. It is better that you should know the truth, however painful.

2 Or, ' and that there are few sailors who can start a ship and keep the rowing together.'

3 Or, ' and that there are few sailors who can start a ship and keep the rowing together.'

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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.

load focus Notes (E.C. Marchant)
load focus Notes (Charles F. Smith)
load focus Greek (1942)
load focus English (1910)
load focus English (Thomas Hobbes, 1843)
hide References (24 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: