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The Messenians Too Much Inclined to Peace

The Messenian leaders, then, being of oligarchical tendencies, and aiming at their own immediate advantage, were always too much inclined to peace. On many critical occasions indeed they managed to elude fear and danger: but all the while this policy of theirs was accumulating a heavy retribution for themselves; and they finally involved their country in the gravest misfortunes. And the reason in my opinion was this, that being neighbours to two of the most powerful nations in the Peloponnese, or I might almost say in Greece, I mean the Arcadians and Lacedaemonians,—one of which had been irreconcilably hostile to them from the moment they occupied the country, and the other disposed to be friendly and protect them,—they never frankly accepted hostility to the Spartans, or friendship with the Arcadians. Accordingly when the attention of the former was distracted by domestic or foreign war, the Messenians were secure; for they always enjoyed peace and tranquillity from the fact of their country lying out of the road: but when the Lacedaemonians, having nothing else on hand to distract their attention, took to inflicting injuries on them, they were unable to withstand the superior strength of the Lacedaemonians by their own power; and, having failed to secure the support of their true friends, who were ready to do anything for their protection, they were reduced to the alternatives of becoming the slaves of Sparta and enduring her heavy exactions; or of leaving their homes to escape from this servitude, abandoning their country with wives and children. And this has repeatedly happened to them within comparatively recent times.

That the present settlement of the Peloponnese may prove a lasting one, so that no measure such as I am about to describe may be ever necessary, is indeed my earnest wish: but if anything does happen to disturb it, and threaten revolutionary changes, the only hope for the Messenians and Megalopolitans of continuing to occupy their present territory, that I can see, is a recurrence to the policy of Epaminondas. They must resolve, that is to say, upon a cordial and sincere partnership with each other in every danger and labour.

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