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The Lacedaemonians, on the other hand, about the same time were so far from carrying out the same policy as our ancestors—from waging war on the barbarians and benefiting the Hellenes—that they were not even willing to refrain from aggression, but although they held an alien city and a territory not only adequate but greater than any other city of Hellas possessed, they were not satisfied with what they h
on the contrary, having learned from the actual course of events that while according to law states and territories are deemed to belong to those who have duly and lawfully acquired them, in fact, however, they fall into the hands of those who are most practised in the art of warfare and are able to conquer their enemies in battle—thinking upon these things, they neglected agriculture and the arts and everything else and did not cease laying siege to the cities in the Peloponnesus one by one and doing violence to them until they overthrew them all with the exception of Argos.For the Spartan Conquest of the Peloponnese see Grote, History of Greece 2, pp. 418 ff
And so it resulted from the policy which we pursued that Hellas waxed great, Europe became stronger than Asia, and, furthermore, the Hellenes who were in straitened circumstances received cities and lands, while the barbarians who were wont to be insolent were expelled from their own territory and humbled in their pride; whereas the results of the Spartan policy were that their city alone became strong, dominated all the cities in the Peloponnesus, inspired fear in the other states, and was courted by them for her favor.
And the greatest proof of this is that those who then fought together took the hegemony away from the Lacedaemonians and conferred it upon our ancestors.See Isoc. 4.72. And yet what more competent or trustworthy judges could one find of what then took place than those who had a part in those very struggles? And what benefaction could one mention greater than that which was able to save all Hellas?
Now after these events it came about that each of these cities in turn gained the empire of the seaFor contrast between the empire of Athens and that of Sparta, 53-61, compare Isoc. 4.104 ff.—a power such that whichever state possesses it holds in subjection most of the states of Hellas.Cf. Isoc. 4.16. As to their use of this power in general, I commend neither Athens nor Sparta; for one might find many faults with both. Nevertheless, in this supervisionHere is the inoffensive word e)pime/leia, supervision, to convey the feeling that the empire of Athens cared for the interests of the confederate states. the Athenians surpassed the Lacedaemonians no less than in the deeds which I have just mentioned
You can see at once from this instance best of all how much milder and more moderate we were in our supervision over the affairs of the Hellenes, but you can see it also from what I shall now say. The Spartans remained at the head of Hellas hardly ten years,Isocrates elsewhere views the Spartan supremacy as lasting from the end of the Peloponnesian War, 405-404 B.C., to the battle of Leuctra, 371 B.C. See Isoc. 5.47. But later in Isoc. 5.63-64 he speaks of Conon's naval victory at the battle of Cnidus, 394 B.C., as the end of the Spartan rule, since it re-established the maritime influence of Athens. The latter is the version followed here. It is reasonable to say that Sparta's supremacy by sea ceased with the battle of Cnidus and her supremacy by land with Leuctra. while we held the hegemony without interruption for sixty-five years.See Isoc. 4.106, note. And yet it is known to all that states which come under the supremacy of others remain loyal for the longest time to those und
For what element of glory did he lack who won a position of such exalted honor that, were all the world to unite on the search for a greater, no greater could be found? For he is the only man who was ever deemed worthy to be the leader of the armies of all Hellas. Whether he was elected by all or obtained this honor by himself, I am not able to say. But however this came about, he left no room for the rest of mankind who have in any wise won distinction since his time to surpass the glory which attaches to his name.
And when he obtained this power, he harmed no city of Hellas; nay, so far was he from injuring any one of them that, although he took command of the Hellenes when they were in a state of mutual warfare and confusion and great misfortune, he delivered them from this condition, and, having established concord among them, indifferent to all exploits which are extravagant and spectacular and of no benefit to others, he collected the Hellenes into an army and led them forth against the barbarians.
But not for these things alone might one extol him, but also for the things he did at the same time. For he conceived of his mission in terms so lofty that he was not satisfied with making up his army from all the men in private station whom he desired to have from each of the cities of Hellas, but even persuaded men of the rank of kings, who were accustomed to do in their own states whatsoever they pleased and to give orders to the world at large, to place themselves under his command, to follow him against whomsoever he might lead them, to obey his orders, to abandon their royal manner of living and to share the life of soldiers in the field,