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Now although we have shown ourselves to be of such character and have given so convincing proof that we do not covet the possessions of others, we are brazenly denounced by those who had a hand in the decarchiesIn Athens and in other states under ther influence there was in the oligarchical party a group of Spartan sympathizers who out-Spartaned the Spartans. After the downfall of Athens at the close of the Peloponnesian war, when Sparta became the supreme power in Greece, 404 B.C., governing commissions of ten （“decarchies”） composed of these extremists, with a Spartan harmost and garrison to support them, were set up in most of these states by the Spartan general Lysander （Xen. Hell. 3.4.2）. In Athens the “decarchy” succeeded the rule of the thirty tyrants. Compare what Isocrates says here about the decarchies with Isoc. 5.95 and Isoc. 12.54.—men who have befouled their own countries, who have made the crimes of the past seem insignificant, and have left the would-be
For we have reason to reproach the Lacedaemonians for this also, that in the interest of their own city they compel their neighbors to live in serfdom,In his second letter to Philip, 5, Isocrates urges him to make all the barbarians, excepting those who join forces with him, serfs of the Hellenes. but for the common advantage of their allies they refuse to bring about a similar condition, although it lies in their power to make up their quarrel with us and reduce all the barbarians to a state of subjection to the whole of Hellas.
As for the barbarian, nothing is more to his purpose than to take measures to prevent us from ever ceasing to make war upon each other; while we, on the contrary, are so far from doing anything to embroil his interests or foment rebellion among his subjects that when, thanks to fortune, dissensions do break out in his empire we actually lend him a hand in putting them down. Even now, when the two armies are fighting in Cyprus,Reference to the ten years' war between Artaxerxes and Evagoras, king of Salamis. For Evagoras see introduction to Isoc. 2, and for the war see Isoc. 9.64 ff. we permit him to make use of the oneThe armament of Tiribazus, composed largely of an army of Greek mercenaries and a navy drawn from Ionian Greeks. and to besiege the other,That of Evagoras. although both of them belong to Hellas;
Therefore we must be quick and not waste time, in order that we may not repeat the experience of our fathers.In the Persian Wars. For they, because they took the field later than the barbarians and had to abandon some of their allies,The Ionians in Asia Minor. See Hdt. 5.103. were compelled to encounter great numbers with a small force; whereas, if they had crossed over to the continent in time to be first on the ground, having with them the whole strength of Hellas, they could have subdued each of the nations there in turn.
and, in consequence, some are being put to death contrary to law in their own countries, others are wandering with their women and children in strange lands, and many, compelled through lack of the necessities of life to enlist in foreign armies,The hireling soldiers in Greece were becoming a serious problem. See Isoc. 5.96, 120, 121; Isoc. Letter 9.9. are being slain, fighting for their foes against their friends.Against these ills no one has ever protested; and people are not ashamed to weep over the calamities which have been fabricated by the poets, while they view complacently the real sufferings, the many terrible sufferings, which result from our state of war; and they are so far from feeling pity that they even rejoice more in each other's sorrows than in their own blessings.
But is it not well, you may perhaps ask, on account of the Treaty,The Treaty of Antalcidas. See 115-120 and notes. to curb ourselves and not be over-hasty or make the expedition too soon, seeing that the states which have gained their freedom through the Treaty feel grateful toward the King, because they believe that it was through him that they gained their independence, while those states which have been delivered over to the barbarians complain very bitterly of the Lacedaemonians and only less bitterly of the other Hellenes who entered into the peace, because, in their view, they were forced by them into slavery? But, I reply, is it not our duty to annul this agreement, which has given birth to such a sentiment—the sentiment that the barbarian cares tenderly for Hellas, and stands guard over her peace, while among ourselves are to be found those who outrage and evilly entreat her
Yes, and he has compelled us to engrave this Treaty on pillars of stone and place it in our public templesSee Isoc. 12.107.— a trophy far more glorious for him than those which are set up on fields of battle; for the latter are for minor deeds and a single success, but this treaty stands as a memorial of the entire war and of the humiliation of the whole of Hellas
—it is disgraceful for us, I say, now that all Hellas is being continually outraged, to take not a single step to wreak a common vengeance, although we have it in our power to accomplish deeds as lofty as our dreams. For this war is the only war which is better than peace; it will be more like a sacred mission than a military expedition; and it will profit equally both those who crave the quiet life and those who are eager for war; for it will enable the former to reap the fruits of their own possessions in security and the latter to win great wealth from the possessions of our foes
You will find, if you weigh the matter carefully, that this undertaking is most desirable for us from many points of view. For against whom, pray, ought men to wage war who crave no aggrandizement, but look to the claims of justice alone? Is it not against those who in the past have injured Hellas, and are now plotting against her, and have always been so disposed towards us?