. . .Thus1
rightly spoke the great Themistocles to
the generals who succeeded him, for whom he had
opened a way for their subsequent exploits by driving
out the barbarian host and making Greece free. And
rightly will it be spoken also to those who pride themselves on their writings ; for if you take away the men
of action, you will have no men of letters. Take away
Pericles' statesmanship, and Phormio's trophies for
his naval victories at Rhium, and Nicias's valiant deeds
at Cythera and Megara and Corinth, Demosthenes'
Pylos, and Cleon's four hundred captives, Tolmides'
circumnavigation of the Peloponnesus, and Myronides'2
victory over the Boeotians at Oenophyta-take
these away and Thucydides is stricken from your list
of writers. Take away Alcibiades ' spirited exploits in
the Hellespontine region, and those of Thrasyllus by
Lesbos, and the overthrow by Theramenes of the
oligarchy, Thrasybulus and Archinus and the uprising of the Seventy3
from Phyle against the Spartan
hegemony, and Conon's restoration of Athens to her
power on the sea - take these away and Cratippus4
is no more.
Xenophon, to be sure, became his own history
by writing of his generalship and his successes and
recording that it was Themistogenes5
who had compiled an account of them, his purpose
being to win greater credence for his narrative by
referring to himself in the third person, thus favouring another with the glory of the authorship. But
all the other historians, men like Cleitodemus,
Philochorus, Phylarchus, have been for
the exploits of others what actors are for plays,
exhibiting the deeds of the generals and kings, and
merging themselves with their characters as tradition records them, in order that they might share
in a certain effulgence, so to speak, and splendour.
For there is reflected from the men of action upon
the men of letters an image of another's glory,
which shines again there, since the deed is seen,
as in a mirror, through the agency of their words.