Peithô's Web    Thucydides Home  Jowett TOC 
 

THUCYDIDES: THE JOWETT TRANSLATION*


Special thanks to www.hellenic-art.com for permission to use this image adapted from their authentic replica of a Spartan spear.
7.61-7.657.69-7.73

(7.66) 'That our actions so far have been glorious, and that in the coming conflict we shall be fighting for a glorious prize, most of you, Syracusans and allies, seem to be aware: what else would have inspired you with so much energy? But if any one has failed to understand our position, we will enlighten him. The Athenians came hither intending to enslave first of all Sicily, and then, if they succeeded, Peloponnesus and the rest of Hellas, they having already the largest dominion of any Hellenic power, past or present. But you set mankind the example of withstanding that invincible navy; which you have now defeated in several engagements at sea, and which you will probably defeat in this. For when men are crippled in what they assume to be their strength, any vestige of self-respect is more completely lost than if they had never believed in themselves at all. When once their pride has had a fall they throw away the power of resistance which they might still exert. And this we may assume to be the condition of the Athenians.

(7.67) 'Far otherwise is it with us. The natural courage, which even in the days of our inexperience dared to risk all, is now better assured, and when we have the further conviction that he is the strongest who has overcome the strongest, the hopes of every one are redoubled. And in all enterprises the highest hopes infuse the greatest courage. Their imitation of our modes of fighting will be useless to them. To us they come naturally, and we shall readily adapt ourselves to any arrangements of ours which they have borrowed. But to them the employment of troops on deck is a novelty; they will be encumbered with crowds of hoplites and crowds of javelin-men, Acarnanians and others, who are mere awkward landsmen put into a ship, and will not even know how to discharge their darts when they are required to keep their places. Will they not make the ships unsteady? And their own movements will be so unnatural to them that they will all fall into utter confusion. The greater number of the enemy's ships will be the reverse of an advantage to him, should any of you fear your inequality in that respect; for a large fleet confined in a small space will be hampered in action and far more likely to suffer from our devices. And I would have you know what I believe on the best authority to be the simple truth. Their misfortunes paralyse them, and they are driven to despair at finding themselves helpless. They have grown reckless, and have no confidence in their own plans. They will take their chance as best they can, and either force a way out to sea, or in the last resort retreat by land; for they know that they cannot in any case be worse off than they are.

(7.68) 'Against such disorder, and against hateful enemies whose good fortune has run away from them to us, let us advance with fury. We should remember in the first place that men are doing a most lawful act when they take vengeance upon an enemy and an aggressor, and that they have a right to satiate their heart's animosity; secondly, that this vengeance, which is proverbially the sweetest of all things, will soon be within our grasp. I need not tell you that they are our enemies, and our worst enemies. They came against our land that they might enslave us, and if they had succeeded they would have inflicted the greatest sufferings on our men, and the worst indignities upon our wives and children; and would have stamped a name of dishonour upon our whole city. Wherefore let no one's heart be softened towards them. Do not congratulate yourselves at the mere prospect of getting safely rid of them. Even if they conquer they can only depart. But supposing that we obtain, as we most likely shall, the fulness of our desires, in the punishment of the Athenians and in the confirmation to Sicily of the liberties which she now enjoys, how glorious will be our prize! Seldom are men exposed to hazards in which they lose little if they fail, and win all if they succeed.'

7.61-7.657.69-7.73
Special thanks to www.hellenic-art.com for permission to use this image adapted from their authentic replica of a Spartan spear.


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.

Scanned and edited specially for Peithô's Web. Jowett's footnotes have been converted to endnotes. Peithô's Web accepts no liability whatsoever for errors or any other problem with the texts or their use.


Special thanks to Hellenic-art.com (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.