History of the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides

Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.

Let this suffice to excuse us for our Medism.

We will now endeavor to show that you have injured the Hellenes more than we, and are more deserving of condign punishment.

It was in defence against us, say you, that you became allies and citizens of Athens.

If so, you ought only to have called in the Athenians against us, instead of joining them in attacking others: it was open to you to do this if you ever felt that they were leading you where you did not wish to follow, as Lacedaemon was already your ally against the Mede, as you so much insist; and this was surely sufficient to keep us off, and above all to allow you to deliberate in security.

Nevertheless, of your own choice and without compulsion you chose to throw your lot in with Athens.

And you say that it had been base for you to betray your benefactors; but it was surely far baser and more iniquitous to sacrifice the whole body of the Hellenes, your fellow-confederates, who were liberating Hellas, than the Athenians only, who were enslaving it.

The return that you made them was therefore neither equal nor honorable, since you called them in, as you say, because you were being oppressed yourselves, and then became their accomplices in oppressing others; although baseness rather consists in not returning like for like than in not returning what is justly due but must be unjustly paid.