History of the Peloponnesian War


Thucydides. The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Hobbes, Thomas. translator. London: John Bohn, 1843.

"And thus much for the profit that will be found by advising wisely concerning the Athenians.

But when peace is confessed by all men to be the best of things, why should we not make it also in respect of ourselves? Or do you think, perhaps, if any of you possess a good thing or be pressed with an evil, that peace is not better than war, to remove the latter or preserve the former, to both; or that it hath not honours and eminence more free from danger, or whatsoever else one might discourse at large concerning war? Which things considered, you ought not to make light of my advice, but rather make use of it, every one to provide for his own safety.

Now if some man be strongly conceited to go through with some design of his, be it by right or by violence, let him take heed that he fail not, so much the more to his grief as it is contrary to his hope, knowing that many men ere now, hunting after revenge on such as had done them injury, and others trusting, by some strength they have had, to take away another's right, have, the first sort, instead of being revenged been destroyed, and the other, instead of winning from others, left behind them what they had of their own.

For revenge succeeds not according to justice, as that because an injury hath been done it should therefore prosper; nor is strength therefore sure because hopeful. It is the instability of fortune that is most predominant in things to come, which, though it be the most deceivable of all things, yet appears to be the most profitable. For whilst every one fear it alike, we proceed against each other with the greater providence.