Selections from a Conversation about Treachery and Deceit

Excerpts from Xenophon, Anabasis, 2.5.6-24

“Because I believe that these kinds of misunderstandings are best addressed through conversations, I have come and I plan to explain to you that you mistrust us wrongly.”

[6] τὰς οὖν τοιαύτας ἀγνωμοσύνας νομίζων συνουσίαις μάλιστα παύεσθαι ἥκω καὶ διδάσκειν σε βούλομαι ὡς σὺ ἡμῖν οὐκ ὀρθῶς ἀπιστεῖς.

“First and foremost, our oaths sworn to the gods keep us from being each other’s enemies. Anyone who understands that he has neglected these oaths, I could never consider happy. For I do not know by what speed or in what location someone could run to escape war with the gods—what obscurity could he flee into or into what safe land could he take refuge? For everywhere is subject to the gods; the gods control everything equally.”

 [7] πρῶτον μὲν γὰρ καὶ μέγιστον οἱ θεῶν ἡμᾶς ὅρκοι κωλύουσι πολεμίους εἶναι ἀλλήλοις: ὅστις δὲ τούτων σύνοιδεν αὑτῷ παρημεληκώς, τοῦτον ἐγὼ οὔποτ᾽ ἂν εὐδαιμονίσαιμι. τὸν γὰρ θεῶν πόλεμον οὐκ οἶδα οὔτ᾽ ἀπὸ ποίου ἂν τάχους οὔτε ὅποι ἄν τις φεύγων ἀποφύγοι οὔτ᾽ εἰς ποῖον ἂν σκότος ἀποδραίη οὔθ᾽ ὅπως ἂν εἰς ἐχυρὸν χωρίον ἀποσταίη. πάντῃ γὰρ πάντα τοῖς θεοῖς ὕποχα καὶ πάντων ἴσον οἱ θεοὶ κρατοῦσι.

“When I consider all these things, it seems so amazing to me that you would distrust us that I would hear most sweetly the name of whoever is so clever at speaking that he can persuade you by saying that we are conspiring against you.” Klearkhos said these things; and Tissaphernes answered…

[15] ἐμοὶ μὲν ταῦτα πάντα ἐνθυμουμένῳ οὕτω δοκεῖ θαυμαστὸν εἶναι τὸ σὲ ἡμῖν ἀπιστεῖν ὥστε καὶ ἥδιστ᾽ ἂν ἀκούσαιμι τὸ ὄνομα τίς οὕτως ἐστὶ δεινὸς λέγειν ὥστε σε πεῖσαι λέγων ὡς ἡμεῖς σοι ἐπιβουλεύομεν. Κλέαρχος μὲν οὖν τοσαῦτα εἶπε: Τισσαφέρνης δὲ ὧδε ἀπημείφθη.

“It is a trait of men who are completely at a loss, without artifice, and bound by compulsion—of men who really are wretches—to want to accomplish something by making false oaths to the gods and falsehoods to men. We, at least, are not so illogical or simple-minded.”

[21] παντάπασι δὲ ἀπόρων ἐστὶ καὶ ἀμηχάνων καὶ ἐν ἀνάγκῃ ἐχομένων, καὶ τούτων πονηρῶν, οἵτινες ἐθέλουσι δι᾽ ἐπιορκίας τε πρὸς θεοὺς καὶ ἀπιστίας πρὸς ἀνθρώπους πράττειν τι. οὐχ οὕτως ἡμεῖς, ὦ Κλέαρχε, οὔτε ἀλόγιστοι οὔτε ἠλίθιοί ἐσμεν.

In saying these things, [Tissaphernes] seemed to Klearkhos to be speaking the truth. So he responded. “Therefore, when we have these reasons to be friends, those men who are trying to force us into enmity through slander are worthy of suffering capital punishment?”

[24] ταῦτα εἰπὼν ἔδοξε τῷ Κλεάρχῳ ἀληθῆ λέγειν: καὶ εἶπεν: οὐκοῦν, ἔφη, οἵτινες τοιούτων ἡμῖν εἰς φιλίαν ὑπαρχόντων πειρῶνται διαβάλλοντες ποιῆσαι πολεμίους ἡμᾶς ἄξιοί εἰσι τὰ ἔσχατα παθεῖν;


Coin of Tissaphernes

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