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.

Thucydides, 2.43.3 (Perikles’ Funeral Oration)

 

“The whole earth is the tomb of heroes: their epitaph shines out not just for local attention, but their unwritten memory lives on in the esteem of each man more than on any monument.”

 

ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος, καὶ οὐ στηλῶν μόνον ἐν τῇ οἰκείᾳ σημαίνει ἐπιγραφή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ μὴ προσηκούσῃ ἄγραφος μνήμη παρ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τῆς γνώμης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ ἔργου ἐνδιαιτᾶται.

 

Thucydides 2.40

“We love beauty without extravagance and love the world of the mind without becoming soft.”

 

Φιλοκαλοῦμέν τε γὰρ μετ’ εὐτελείας καὶ φιλοσοφοῦμεν ἄνευ μαλακίας·

Thucydides, 2.43.3 (Perikles’ Funeral Oration)

 

“The whole earth is our heroes’ grave: their epitaph is written not just for local notice, but an unwritten memory lives on in the esteem of each man more than any one monument.”

 

ἀνδρῶν γὰρ ἐπιφανῶν πᾶσα γῆ τάφος, καὶ οὐ στηλῶν μόνον ἐν τῇ οἰκείᾳ σημαίνει ἐπιγραφή, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν τῇ μὴ προσηκούσῃ ἄγραφος μνήμη παρ᾽ ἑκάστῳ τῆς γνώμης μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ ἔργου ἐνδιαιτᾶται.

Thucydides 2. 44. 3-5

 

 

Only the love of honor is ageless; being honored, not making a profit, brings joy to the uselessness of old age

 

τὸ γὰρ φιλότιμον ἀγήρων μόνον, καὶ οὐκ ἐν τῷ ἀχρείῳ τῆς ἡλικίας τὸ κερδαίνειν, ὥσπερ τινές φασι, μᾶλλον τέρπει, ἀλλὰ τὸ τιμᾶσθαι.

 

The full text.

 

Thucydides 2. 44. 3-5

 

τὸ γὰρ φιλότιμον ἀγήρων μόνον, καὶ οὐκ ἐν τῷ ἀχρείῳ τῆς ἡλικίας τὸ κερδαίνειν, ὥσπερ τινές φασι, μᾶλλον τέρπει, ἀλλὰ τὸ τιμᾶσθαι.

 

 

Only the love of honor is ageless; being honored, not making a profit, brings joy to the uselessness of old age