Politics and War, Little Change: Thucydides on the Speeches of Plataea and Thebes

Thucydides, 3.56.1-2: the Plataeans’ Complaint

“The Thebans wronged us in many other ways and you know the final thing yourselves, the very reason we are suffering now. For they took our city when there was a truce in place and, worse, during a holy month. We paid them back correctly according to the custom that is accepted by everyone—that it is sacred to defend yourself against an attacking enemy. Therefore we should not for any reason suffer at their hands now.”

‘Θηβαῖοι δὲ πολλὰ μὲν καὶ ἄλλα ἡμᾶς ἠδίκησαν, τὸ δὲ τελευταῖον αὐτοὶ ξύνιστε, δι’ ὅπερ καὶ τάδε πάσχομεν. πόλιν γὰρ αὐτοὺς τὴν ἡμετέραν καταλαμβάνοντας ἐν σπονδαῖς καὶ προσέτι ἱερομηνίᾳ ὀρθῶς τε ἐτιμωρησάμεθα κατὰ τὸν πᾶσι νόμον καθεστῶτα, τὸν ἐπιόντα πολέμιον ὅσιον εἶναι ἀμύνεσθαι, καὶ νῦν οὐκ ἂν εἰκότως δι’ αὐτοὺς βλαπτοίμεθα.

3.62.4: The Theban View on their Capitulation to Persia

“The whole city was not in control of itself when it did this: it is not right to blame it for what it did wrong when there were no laws”

καὶ ἡ ξύμπασα πόλις οὐκ αὐτοκράτωρ οὖσα ἑαυτῆς τοῦτ’ ἔπραξεν, οὐδ’ ἄξιον αὐτῇ ὀνειδίσαι ὧν μὴ μετὰ νόμων ἥμαρτεν.

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