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Special thanks to for permission to use this image adapted from their authentic replica of a Spartan spear.

(5.9) 'Men of Peloponnesus, I need not waste words in telling you that we come from a land which has always been brave, and therefore free,6 and that you are Dorians,7 and are about to fight with Ionians whom you have beaten again and again. But I must explain to you my plan of attack; lest you should be disheartened at the seeming disproportion of numbers, because we go into battle not with our whole force but with a handful of men. Our enemies, if I am not mistaken, despise us; they believe that no one will come out against them, and so they have ascended the hill, where they are busy looking about them in disorder, and making but small account of us. Now, he is the most successful general8 who discerns most clearly such mistakes when made by his enemies, and adapts his attack to the character of his own forces, not always assailing them openly and in regular array, but acting according to the circumstances of the case. And the greatest reputation is gained by those stratagems in which a man deceives his enemies most completely, and does his friends most service. Therefore while they are still confident and unprepared, and, if I read their intentions aright, are thinking of withdrawing rather than of maintaining their ground, while they are off their guard and before they have recovered their presence of mind, I and my men will do our best to anticipate their retreat, and will make a rush at the centre of the army. Then, Clearidas, when you see me engaged, and I hope striking panic into them, bring up your troops, the Amphipolitans and the other allies, open the gates suddenly, run out, and lose no time in closing with them. This is the way to terrify them; for reinforcements are always more formidable to an enemy than the troops with which he is already engaged. Show yourself a brave man and a true Spartan, and do you, allies, follow manfully, remembering that readiness, obedience, and a sense of honour are the virtues of a soldier. To-day you have to choose between freedom and slavery; between the name of Lacedaemonian allies, which you will deserve if you are brave, and of servants of Athens. For even if you should be so fortunate as to escape bonds or death, servitude will be your lot, a servitude more cruel than hitherto; and what is more, you will be an impediment to the liberation of the other Hellenes. Do not lose heart; think of all that is at stake; and I will show you that I can not only advise others, but fight myself.'

Special thanks to for permission to use this image adapted from their authentic replica of a Spartan spear.


6.(From 5.9) Cp. iv. 28 med.

7.(From 5.9) Cp. i. 124 init.; vi. 77 med.; vii. 5 fin.; viii. 25 med. and fin.

8.(From 5.9) Cp. iii. 29 fin.

From Thucydides, translated into English, to which is prefixed an essay on inscriptions and a note on the geography of Thucydides, by Benjamin Jowett. Second edition. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1900.

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Special thanks to (link) for graciously permitting images of their ancient art and replicas of armor and weapons to appear in our Thucydides pages.

Background mosaic from the Architectural Ornament collection of the Architectural Engineering Graduate Students Association of The Pennsylvania State University.