Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

LCL 108: 116-117

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Thucydides

3αὖθις δὲ οἱ μὲν καὶ παρὰ δύναμιν τολμηταὶ καὶ παρὰ γνώμην κινδυνευταὶ καὶ ἐν τοῖς δεινοῖς εὐέλπιδες· τὸ δὲ ὑμέτερον τῆς τε δυνάμεως ἐνδεᾶ πρᾶξαι τῆς τε γνώμης μηδὲ τοῖς βεβαίοις πιστεῦσαι τῶν τε δεινῶν μηδέποτε οἴεσθαι ἀπολυθήσεσθαι. 4καὶ μὴν καὶ ἄοκνοι πρὸς ὑμὰς μελλητὰς καὶ ἀποδημηταὶ πρὸς ἐνδημοτάτους· οἴονται γὰρ οἱ μὲν τῇ ἀπουσίᾳ ἄν τι κτᾶσθαι, ὑμεῖς δὲ τῷ 5ἐξελθεῖν καὶ τὰ ἑτοῖμα ἂν βλάψαι. κρατοῦντές τε τῶν ἐχθρῶν ἐπὶ πλεῖστον ἐξέρχονται καὶ 6νικώμενοι ἐπ᾿ ἐλάχιστον ἀναπίπτουσιν. ἔτι δὲ τοῖς μὲν σώμασιν ἀλλοτριωτάτοις ὑπὲρ τῆς πόλεως χρῶνται, τῇ δὲ γνώμῃ οἰκειοτάτῃ ἐς τὸ 7πράσσειν τι ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς· καὶ ἃ μὲν ἂν ἐπινοήσαντες μὴ ἐπεξέλθωσιν, οἰκείων στέρεσθαι ἡγοῦνται, ἃ δ᾿ ἂν ἐπελθόντες κτήσωνται, ὀλίγα πρὸς τὰ μέλλοντα τυχεῖν πράξαντες, ἢν δ᾿ ἄρα του καὶ πείρᾳ σφαλῶσιν, ἀντελπίσαντες ἄλλα ἐπλήρωσαν τὴν χρείαν· μόνοι γὰρ ἔχουσί τε ὁμοίως καὶ ἐλπίζουσιν ἃ ἂν ἐπινοήσωσι διὰ τὸ ταχεῖαν τὴν 8ἐπιχείρησιν ποιεῖσθαι ὧν ἂν γνῶσιν. καὶ ταῦτα μετὰ πόνων πάντα καὶ κινδύνων δι᾿ ὅλου τοῦ αἰῶνος μοχθοῦσι, καὶ ἀπολαύουσιν ἐλάχιστα τῶν ὑπαρχόντων διὰ τὸ αἰεὶ κτᾶσθαι καὶ μήτε ἑορτὴν ἄλλο τι ἡγεῖσθαι ἢ τὸ τὰ δέοντα πρᾶξαι ξυμφοράν τε οὐχ ἧσσον ἡσυχίαν ἀπράγμονα ἢ

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Book I

Again, they are bold beyond their strength, venturesome beyond their better judgment, and sanguine in the face of dangers; while your way is to do less than your strength warrants, to distrust even what your judgment is sure of, and when dangers come to despair of deliverance. Nay more, they are prompt in decision, while you are dilatory; they stir abroad, while you are perfect stay-at-homes; for they expect by absence from home to gain something, while you are afraid that, if you go out after something, you may imperil even what you have. If victorious over their enemies, they pursue their advantage to the utmost; if beaten, they fall back as little as possible. Moreover, they use their bodies in the service of their country as though they were the bodies of quite other men, but their minds as though they were wholly their own, so as to accomplish anything on her behalf. And whenever they have conceived a plan but fail to carry it to fulfilment, they think themselves robbed of a possession of their own; and whenever they go after a thing and obtain it, they consider that they have accomplished but little in comparison with what the future has in store for them; but if it so happens that they try a thing and fail, they form new hopes instead and thus make up the loss. For with them alone is it the same thing to hope for and to attain when once they conceive a plan, for the reason that they swiftly undertake whatever they determine upon. In this way they toil, with hardships and dangers, all their life long; and least of all men they enjoy what they have because they are always seeking more, because they think their only holiday is to do their duty, and because they regard untroubled peace as a far

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.thucydides-history_peloponnesian_war.1919