History of the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides

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

‘If I now address you, Sicilians, it is not because my city is the least in Sicily or the greatest sufferer by the war, but in order to state publicly what appears to me to be the best policy for the whole island.

That war is an evil is a proposition so familiar to every one that it would be tedious to develop it.

No one is forced to engage in it by ignorance, or kept out of it by fear, if he fancies there is anything to be gained by it.

To the former the gain appears greater than the danger, while he latter would rather stand the risk than put up with any immediate sacrifice.

But if both should happen to have chosen the wrong moment for acting in this way, advice to make peace would not be unserviceable;

and this, if we did but see it, is just what we stand most in need of at the present juncture.I suppose that no one will dispute that we went to war at first, in order to serve our own several interests, that we are now, in view of the same interests, debating how we can make peace; and that if we separate without having as we think our rights, we shall go to war again.