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You would, I expect, men of Athens, accept it as the equivalent of a large amount of money, if it could be made clear to you what will prove our best policy in the matters now under discussion. This then being so, you are bound to give an eager hearing to all who offer advice. For not only if someone comes forward with a well-considered plan, could you hear and accept it, but also I count it part of your good fortune that more than one speaker may be inspired with suitable suggestions on the spur of the moment, so that out of the multitude of proposals the choice of the best should not be difficult.
And yet, men of Athens, it is reasonable to suggest that the very thing which makes Philip's position most redoubtable is also most encouraging for you. For the swift and opportune movements of war he has an immense advantage over us in the fact that he is the sole director of his own policy, open or secret, that he unites the functions of a general, a ruler and a treasurer, and that he is always at the head of his army; but when it comes to a composition such as he would gladly make with Olynthus, the tables are turned.
I bid you grasp these facts, men of Athens, and weigh well all the important considerations. Make up your minds; rouse your spirits; put your heart into the war, now or never. Pay your contributions cheerfully; serve in person; leave nothing to chance. You have no longer the shadow of an excuse for shirking your duty.
Men of Athens, you must not let slip the opportunity that offers, nor make the blunder you have so often made before. When we returned from the Euboean expeditionThe Athenians took Euboea from the Thebans in 357. and Hierax and Stratocles, the envoys of Amphipolis, mounted this platform and bade you sail and take over their city, if we had shown the same earnestness in our own cause as in defence of the safety of Euboea, Amphipolis would have been yours at once and you would have been relieved of all your subsequent difficulties.
Once again, when news came of the siege of Pydna, of Potidaea, of Methone, of Pagasae,In 357, 356, 354, and 352 respectively. and of the rest of them—not to weary you with a complete catalogue—if we had at that time shown the required zeal in marching to the help of the first that appealed, we should have found Philip today much more humble and accommodating. Unfortunately we always neglect the present chance and imagine that the future will right itself, and so, men of Athens, Philip has us to thank for his prosperity. We have raised him to a greater height than ever king of Macedonia reached before. Today this opportunity comes to us from the Olynthians unsought, a fairer opportunity than we have ever had befo
Men of Athens, let anyone fairly reckon up the blessings we have received of the gods, and though much is amiss, none the less his gratitude will be great—and rightly so: for our many losses in the wari.e. the war about the possession of Amphipolis. may be justly imputed to our own supineness; that we did not suffer these losses long ago and that this opportunity of alliance affords us some compensation, if we choose to accept it, this I for my part should put down as a signal instance of the favor of the gods
I suppose it is with national as with private wealth. If a man keeps what he gains, he is duly grateful to fortune; if he loses it by his own imprudence, he loses along with it the sense of gratitude. So in national affairs, those who fail to use their opportunities aright, fail also to acknowledge the good that the gods have given; for every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue. It is therefore our duty, men of Athens, to keep a careful eye on the future, that by restoring our prosperity we may efface the discredit of the past.
“Well,” some of you may say, “why tell us this now?” Because, men of Athens, I want you to know and realize two things: first, what an expensive game it is to squander your interests one by one; and secondly, the restless activity which is ingrained in Philip's nature, and which makes it impossible for him ever to rest on his laurels. But if Philip adopts the principle that he ought always to be improving his position, and you the principle of never facing your difficulties resolutely, just reflect what is likely to be the end of
Seriously, is anyone here so foolish as not to see that our negligence will transfer the war from Chalcidice to Attica? Yet if that comes to pass, I am afraid, men of Athens, that just as men who borrow money recklessly at high interest enjoy a temporary accommodation only to forfeit their estates in the end, so we may find that we have paid a heavy price for our indolence, and because we consult our own pleasure in everything, may hereafter come to be forced to do many of the dfficult things for which we had no liking, and may finally endanger our possessions here in Attica itself.
Now someone may tell me that to find fault is easy and in any one's power, but that it needs a statesman to expound the policy demanded by our circumstances. But I am not unaware, men of Athens, that if anything goes wrong, you often vent your disappointment, not on the responsible agents, but on those who happen to have addressed you last. I shall not, however, consult my own safety by keeping back what I believe to be for your true interests.