The Reason for Empire’s Fall

Isocrates, On the Peace 116-119

“If you listen to me, and you stop taking just any kind of advice at all and pay attention to yourselves and the city, you will gain some wisdom and examine what happened to these two cities, ours and Sparta. How did their empires over Greece rise up from pretty basic affairs and then, once they each took unrivaled power, how did they risk enslavement? What was the reason that the Thessalians, who have the most wealth, and the best and most abundant land, fell into poverty, but the Megarians, whose starting point was small and ragged, and even though they did not have land or harbors, or silver minds but were just farming stones, developed the richest economy of the Greeks?

Why do other people frequently control the Thessalians’ fortresses when they have a cavalry over three thousand and countless peltasts beyond that while the Megarians, who have only a small force, control their city as they want? In addition to this, why are the Thessalians always at war against one another while the Megarians who live near the Peloponnesians, the Thebans, and our city manage to survive at peace?

If you work through these questions, you will find that a lack of self-control and arrogance are the cause of our problems, while prudence is responsible for all of our advantages.”

Ἢν οὖν ἐμοὶ πεισθῆτε, παυσάμενοι τοῦ παντάπασιν εἰκῇ βουλεύεσθαι προσέξετε τὸν νοῦν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς καὶ τῇ πόλει, καὶ φιλοσοφήσετε καὶ σκέψεσθε τί τὸ ποιῆσάν ἐστι τὼ πόλη τούτω, λέγω δὲ τὴν ἡμετέραν καὶ τὴν Λακεδαιμονίων, ἐκ ταπεινῶν μὲν πραγμάτων ἑκατέραν ὁρμηθεῖσαν ἄρξαι τῶν Ἑλλήνων, ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἀνυπέρβλητον τὴν δύναμιν ἔλαβον, περὶ ἀνδραποδισμοῦ κινδυνεῦσαι· καὶ διὰ τίνας αἰτίας Θετταλοὶ μέν, μεγίστους πλούτους παραλαβόντες καὶ χώραν ἀρίστην καὶ πλείστην ἔχοντες, εἰς ἀπορίαν καθεστήκασι, Μεγαρεῖς δέ, μικρῶν αὐτοῖς καὶ φαύλων τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑπαρξάντων, καὶ γῆν μὲν οὐκ ἔχοντες οὐδὲ λιμένας οὐδ᾿ ἀργυρεῖα, πέτρας δὲ γεωργοῦντες, μεγίστους οἴκους τῶν Ἑλλήνων κέκτηνται· κἀκείνων μὲν τὰς ἀκροπόλεις ἄλλοι τινὲς ἀεὶ κατέχουσιν, ὄντων αὐτοῖς πλέον τρισχιλίων ἱππέων καὶ πελταστῶν ἀναριθμήτων, οὗτοι δὲ μικρὰν δύναμιν ἔχοντες τὴν αὑτῶν ὅπως βούλονται διοικοῦσιν· καὶ πρὸς τούτοις οἱ μὲν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς πολεμοῦσιν, οὗτοι δὲ μεταξὺ Πελοποννησίων καὶ Θηβαίων καὶ τῆς ἡμετέρας πόλεως οἰκοῦντες εἰρήνην ἄγοντες διατελοῦσιν. ἢν γὰρ ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα διεξίητε πρὸς ὑμᾶς αὐτούς, εὑρήσετε τὴν μὲν ἀκολασίαν καὶ τὴν ὕβριν τῶν κακῶν αἰτίαν γιγνομένην, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην τῶν ἀγαθῶν.

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The Reason for Empire’s Fall

Isocrates, On the Peace 116-119

“If you listen to me, and you stop taking just any kind of advice at all and pay attention to yourselves and the city, you will gain some wisdom and examine what happened to these two cities, ours and Sparta. How did their empires over Greece rise up from pretty basic affairs and then, once they each took unrivaled power, how did they risk enslavement? What was the reason that the Thessalians, who have the most wealth, and the best and most abundant land, fell into poverty, but the Megarians, whose starting point was small and ragged, and even though they did not have land or harbors, or silver minds but were just farming stones, developed the richest economy of the Greeks?

Why do other people frequently control the Thessalians’ fortresses when they have a cavalry over three thousand and countless peltasts beyond that while the Megarians, who have only a small force, control their city as they want? In addition to this, why are the Thessalians always at war against one another while the Megarians who live near the Peloponnesians, the Thebans, and our city manage to survive at peace?

If you work through these questions, you will find that a lack of self-control and arrogance are the cause of our problems, while prudence is responsible for all of our advantages.”

Ἢν οὖν ἐμοὶ πεισθῆτε, παυσάμενοι τοῦ παντάπασιν εἰκῇ βουλεύεσθαι προσέξετε τὸν νοῦν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς καὶ τῇ πόλει, καὶ φιλοσοφήσετε καὶ σκέψεσθε τί τὸ ποιῆσάν ἐστι τὼ πόλη τούτω, λέγω δὲ τὴν ἡμετέραν καὶ τὴν Λακεδαιμονίων, ἐκ ταπεινῶν μὲν πραγμάτων ἑκατέραν ὁρμηθεῖσαν ἄρξαι τῶν Ἑλλήνων, ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἀνυπέρβλητον τὴν δύναμιν ἔλαβον, περὶ ἀνδραποδισμοῦ κινδυνεῦσαι· καὶ διὰ τίνας αἰτίας Θετταλοὶ μέν, μεγίστους πλούτους παραλαβόντες καὶ χώραν ἀρίστην καὶ πλείστην ἔχοντες, εἰς ἀπορίαν καθεστήκασι, Μεγαρεῖς δέ, μικρῶν αὐτοῖς καὶ φαύλων τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑπαρξάντων, καὶ γῆν μὲν οὐκ ἔχοντες οὐδὲ λιμένας οὐδ᾿ ἀργυρεῖα, πέτρας δὲ γεωργοῦντες, μεγίστους οἴκους τῶν Ἑλλήνων κέκτηνται· κἀκείνων μὲν τὰς ἀκροπόλεις ἄλλοι τινὲς ἀεὶ κατέχουσιν, ὄντων αὐτοῖς πλέον τρισχιλίων ἱππέων καὶ πελταστῶν ἀναριθμήτων, οὗτοι δὲ μικρὰν δύναμιν ἔχοντες τὴν αὑτῶν ὅπως βούλονται διοικοῦσιν· καὶ πρὸς τούτοις οἱ μὲν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς πολεμοῦσιν, οὗτοι δὲ μεταξὺ Πελοποννησίων καὶ Θηβαίων καὶ τῆς ἡμετέρας πόλεως οἰκοῦντες εἰρήνην ἄγοντες διατελοῦσιν. ἢν γὰρ ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα διεξίητε πρὸς ὑμᾶς αὐτούς, εὑρήσετε τὴν μὲν ἀκολασίαν καὶ τὴν ὕβριν τῶν κακῶν αἰτίαν γιγνομένην, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην τῶν ἀγαθῶν.

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Actually, The Destruction of Melos Only Seems Bad…

Isocrates engages in thoroughly familiar apologetics in response to criticism of the Athenian empire. (Yes, this does seem to be in reference to the Melos of the Melian Dialogue)

Isocrates, Panegyricus 100-102

“Before these things, I think that everyone would agree that our city was responsible for the most good things and that we held our empire justly. But after that, some people start to criticize us, that once we obtained power over the sea, we were responsible for many evils for the Greeks and they offer as evidence in their speeches our enslavement of the Melians and the slaughter of the Skiônians.

I am of the opinion, first, that it is no indication of our ruling badly if some of those who were fighting against us appear to have been punished severely, but it is a much greater sign that we were running our allies’ affairs well that none of the states who were still subject to us faced these kinds of disasters.

As a second point, if other states had managed similar affairs more gently, then we could be criticized fairly. But since this did not happen and it is not possible to rule a group of so many states unless you punish those who insult you, how would it not be right to praise us when we actually were able to maintain our empire for so long all while being harsh in the fewest number of cases?”

Μέχρι μὲν οὖν τούτων οἶδ᾿ ὅτι πάντες ἂν ὁμολογήσειαν πλείστων ἀγαθῶν τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἡμετέραν αἰτίαν γεγενῆσθαι, καὶ δικαίως ἂν αὐτῆς τὴν ἡγεμονίαν εἶναι· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτ᾿ ἤδη τινὲς ἡμῶν κατηγοροῦσιν, ὡς ἐπειδὴ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς θαλάττης παρελάβομεν, πολλῶν κακῶν αἴτιοι τοῖς Ἕλλησι κατέστημεν, καὶ τόν τε Μηλίων ἀνδραποδισμὸν καὶ τὸν Σκιωναίων ὄλεθρον ἐν τούτοις τοῖς λόγοις ἡμῖν προφέρουσιν. ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἡγοῦμαι πρῶτον μὲν οὐδὲν εἶναι τοῦτο σημεῖον ὡς κακῶς ἤρχομεν, εἴ τινες τῶν πολεμησάντων ἡμῖν σφόδρα φαίνονται κολασθέντες, ἀλλὰ πολὺ τόδε μεῖζον τεκμήριον ὡς καλῶς διῳκοῦμεν τὰ τῶν συμμάχων, ὅτι τῶν πόλεων τῶν ὑφ᾿ ἡμῖν οὐσῶν οὐδεμία ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς περιέπεσεν. ἔπειτ᾿ εἰ μὲν ἄλλοι τινὲς τῶν αὐτῶν πραγμάτων πραότερον ἐπεμελήθησαν, εἰκότως ἂν ἡμῖν ἐπιτιμῷεν· εἰ δὲ μήτε τοῦτο γέγονε μήθ᾿ οἷόντ᾿ ἐστὶ τοσούτων πόλεων τὸ πλῆθος κρατεῖν, ἢν μή τις κολάζῃ τοὺς ἐξαμαρτάνοντας, πῶς οὐκ ἤδη δίκαιόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ἐπαινεῖν, οἵ τινες ἐλαχίστοις χαλεπήναντες πλεῖστον χρόνον τὴν ἀρχὴν κατασχεῖν ἠδυνήθημεν;

 

A Melian Stater

The Reason for Empire’s Fall

Isocrates, On the Peace 116-119

“If you listen to me, and you stop taking just any kind of advice at all and pay attention to yourselves and the city, you will gain some wisdom and examine what happened to these two cities, ours and Sparta. How did their empires over Greece rise up from pretty basic affairs and then, once they each took unrivaled power, how did they risk enslavement? What was the reason that the Thessalians, who have the most wealth, and the best and most abundant land, fell into poverty, but the Megarians, whose starting point was small and ragged, and even though they did not have land or harbors, or silver minds but were just farming stones, developed the richest economy of the Greeks?

Why do other people frequently control the Thessalians’ fortresses when they have a cavalry over three thousand and countless peltasts beyond that while the Megarians, who have only a small force, control their city as they want? In addition to this, why are the Thessalians always at war against one another while the Megarians who live near the Peloponnesians, the Thebans, and our city manage to survive at peace?

If you work through these questions, you will find that a lack of self-control and arrogance are the cause of our problems, while prudence is responsible for all of our advantages.”

Ἢν οὖν ἐμοὶ πεισθῆτε, παυσάμενοι τοῦ παντάπασιν εἰκῇ βουλεύεσθαι προσέξετε τὸν νοῦν ὑμῖν αὐτοῖς καὶ τῇ πόλει, καὶ φιλοσοφήσετε καὶ σκέψεσθε τί τὸ ποιῆσάν ἐστι τὼ πόλη τούτω, λέγω δὲ τὴν ἡμετέραν καὶ τὴν Λακεδαιμονίων, ἐκ ταπεινῶν μὲν πραγμάτων ἑκατέραν ὁρμηθεῖσαν ἄρξαι τῶν Ἑλλήνων, ἐπεὶ δ᾿ ἀνυπέρβλητον τὴν δύναμιν ἔλαβον, περὶ ἀνδραποδισμοῦ κινδυνεῦσαι· καὶ διὰ τίνας αἰτίας Θετταλοὶ μέν, μεγίστους πλούτους παραλαβόντες καὶ χώραν ἀρίστην καὶ πλείστην ἔχοντες, εἰς ἀπορίαν καθεστήκασι, Μεγαρεῖς δέ, μικρῶν αὐτοῖς καὶ φαύλων τῶν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὑπαρξάντων, καὶ γῆν μὲν οὐκ ἔχοντες οὐδὲ λιμένας οὐδ᾿ ἀργυρεῖα, πέτρας δὲ γεωργοῦντες, μεγίστους οἴκους τῶν Ἑλλήνων κέκτηνται· κἀκείνων μὲν τὰς ἀκροπόλεις ἄλλοι τινὲς ἀεὶ κατέχουσιν, ὄντων αὐτοῖς πλέον τρισχιλίων ἱππέων καὶ πελταστῶν ἀναριθμήτων, οὗτοι δὲ μικρὰν δύναμιν ἔχοντες τὴν αὑτῶν ὅπως βούλονται διοικοῦσιν· καὶ πρὸς τούτοις οἱ μὲν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς πολεμοῦσιν, οὗτοι δὲ μεταξὺ Πελοποννησίων καὶ Θηβαίων καὶ τῆς ἡμετέρας πόλεως οἰκοῦντες εἰρήνην ἄγοντες διατελοῦσιν. ἢν γὰρ ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα διεξίητε πρὸς ὑμᾶς αὐτούς, εὑρήσετε τὴν μὲν ἀκολασίαν καὶ τὴν ὕβριν τῶν κακῶν αἰτίαν γιγνομένην, τὴν δὲ σωφροσύνην τῶν ἀγαθῶν.

Image result for you see what god did to us man gif

Image result for god didn't do that fear and loathing

Actually, The Destruction of Melos Only Seems Bad…

Isocrates engages in thoroughly familiar apologetics in response to criticism of the Athenian empire. (Yes, this does seem to be in reference to the Melos of the Melian Dialogue)

Isocrates, Panegyricus 100-102

“Before these things, I think that everyone would agree that our city was responsible for the most good things and that we held our empire justly. But after that, some people start to criticize us, that once we obtained power over the sea, we were responsible for many evils for the Greeks and they offer as evidence in their speeches our enslavement of the Melians and the slaughter of the Skiônians.

I am of the opinion, first, that it is no indication of our ruling badly if some of those who were fighting against us appear to have been punished severely, but it is a much greater sign that we were running our allies’ affairs well that none of the states who were still subject to us faced these kinds of disasters.

As a second point, if other states had managed similar affairs more gently, then we could be criticized fairly. But since this did not happen and it is not possible to rule a group of so many states unless you punish those who insult you, how would it not be right to praise us when we actually were able to maintain our empire for so long all while being harsh in the fewest number of cases?”

Μέχρι μὲν οὖν τούτων οἶδ᾿ ὅτι πάντες ἂν ὁμολογήσειαν πλείστων ἀγαθῶν τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἡμετέραν αἰτίαν γεγενῆσθαι, καὶ δικαίως ἂν αὐτῆς τὴν ἡγεμονίαν εἶναι· μετὰ δὲ ταῦτ᾿ ἤδη τινὲς ἡμῶν κατηγοροῦσιν, ὡς ἐπειδὴ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς θαλάττης παρελάβομεν, πολλῶν κακῶν αἴτιοι τοῖς Ἕλλησι κατέστημεν, καὶ τόν τε Μηλίων ἀνδραποδισμὸν καὶ τὸν Σκιωναίων ὄλεθρον ἐν τούτοις τοῖς λόγοις ἡμῖν προφέρουσιν. ἐγὼ δ᾿ ἡγοῦμαι πρῶτον μὲν οὐδὲν εἶναι τοῦτο σημεῖον ὡς κακῶς ἤρχομεν, εἴ τινες τῶν πολεμησάντων ἡμῖν σφόδρα φαίνονται κολασθέντες, ἀλλὰ πολὺ τόδε μεῖζον τεκμήριον ὡς καλῶς διῳκοῦμεν τὰ τῶν συμμάχων, ὅτι τῶν πόλεων τῶν ὑφ᾿ ἡμῖν οὐσῶν οὐδεμία ταύταις ταῖς συμφοραῖς περιέπεσεν. ἔπειτ᾿ εἰ μὲν ἄλλοι τινὲς τῶν αὐτῶν πραγμάτων πραότερον ἐπεμελήθησαν, εἰκότως ἂν ἡμῖν ἐπιτιμῷεν· εἰ δὲ μήτε τοῦτο γέγονε μήθ᾿ οἷόντ᾿ ἐστὶ τοσούτων πόλεων τὸ πλῆθος κρατεῖν, ἢν μή τις κολάζῃ τοὺς ἐξαμαρτάνοντας, πῶς οὐκ ἤδη δίκαιόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ἐπαινεῖν, οἵ τινες ἐλαχίστοις χαλεπήναντες πλεῖστον χρόνον τὴν ἀρχὴν κατασχεῖν ἠδυνήθημεν;

 

A Melian Stater