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Such was Gelon's offer, and the Athenian envoy answered him before the Lacedaemonian could speak. “King of the Syracusans,” he said, “Hellas sends us to you to ask not for a leader but for an army. You however, say no word of sending an army without the condition of your being the leader of Hellas; it is the command alone that yoHellas; it is the command alone that you desire. Now as long as you sought the leadership of the whole force, we Athenians were content to hold our peace, knowing that the Laconian was well able to answer for both of us; but since, failing to win the whole, you would gladly command the fleet, we want to let you know how the matter stands. Even if the Laconian should pee will not withstand them, but we will not allow anyone else to be admiral. It would be for nothing, then, that we possess the greatest number of seafaring men in Hellas, if we Athenians yield our command to Syracusans,—we who can demonstrate the longest lineage of all and who alone among the Greeks have never changed our place o
you know how the matter stands. Even if the Laconian should permit you to command it, we would not do so, for the command of the fleet, which the Lacedaemonians do not desire for themselves, is ours. If they should desire to lead it, we will not withstand them, but we will not allow anyone else to be admiral. It would be for nothing, then, that we possess the greatest number of seafaring men in Hellas, if we Athenians yield our command to Syracusans,—we who can demonstrate the longest lineage of all and who alone among the Greeks have never changed our place of habitation;Most Greek populations had traditionally immigrated into their present localities from elsewhere; but the Athenians had no such tradition; their writers often dwell on the fact with pride. of our stock too was the man of whom the poet Homer says that of all who came to Ilion, he was the best man in ordering and marshalling armies.Menestheus: Hom. Il. 2.552. We accordingly cannot be reproached for what we now say.