Isocrates. Isocrates with an English Translation in three volumes, by George Norlin, Ph.D., LL.D. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1928-1980.

Let us, then, remembering all these things, take up the war with greater vigor, and let us not delay in the expectation that others will remedy our present misfortunes, but since these have occurred in our own time, let us ourselves endeavor also to end them. It is just in such emergencies as these that men of worth must show their superiority;

for prosperity helps to hide the baseness even of inferior men,[*](For the thought compare Dem. 2.20.) but adversity speedily reveals every man as he really is; and in adversity we of Sparta must show whether we have been in any wise better nurtured and trained to valor than the rest of mankind.

But indeed we are in no wise without hope that out of our present misfortunes may come a happy issue. For you are, I am sure, not unaware that ere now many events have occurred of such a nature that, at first, all regarded them as calamities and sympathized with those on whom they had fallen, while later everyone came to see that these same reverses had brought about the greatest blessings.

But why need I mention remote instances? Even now we should find that those states which are foremost—Athens and Thebes, I mean—have not derived their great progress from peace, but that, on the contrary, it was in consequence of their recovery from previous reverses in war that one of them was made leader of the Hellenes,[*](The Athenians won their second naval supremacy after the reverses of the Peloponnesian war.) while the other has at the present time become a greater state than anyone ever expected she would be. Indeed, honors and distinctions are wont to be gained, not by repose, but by struggle,

and these we should strive to win, sparing neither our bodies nor our lives nor anything else which we possess. For if we succeed, and are able to raise our city again to the eminence from which she has fallen, we shall be more admired than our ancestors, and shall not only leave to our descendants no opportunity to surpass our valor, but shall make those who wish to sing our praise despair of saying anything equal to our achievements.

Nor must you forget that the attention of the whole world is fixed upon this assembly and on the decision which you shall reach here. Let each one of you, therefore, govern his thoughts as one who is giving an account of his own character in a public theater, as it were, before the assembled Hellenes.

Now it is a simple matter to reach a wise decision on this question. For if we are willing to die for our just rights, not only shall we gain renown, but in time to come we shall be able to live securely; but if we show that we are afraid of danger, we shall plunge ourselves into endless confusion.

Let us, therefore, challenge one another to pay back to our fatherland the price of our nurture, and not suffer Lacedaemon to be outraged and contemned, nor cause those who are friendly to us to be cheated of their hopes, nor let it appear that we value life more highly than the esteem of all the world,

always remembering that it is a nobler thing to exchange a mortal body for immortal glory, and to purchase with a life which at best we shall retain for only a few years a fame which will abide with our descendants throughout all the ages[*](For the language cf. Dem. 60.27, and Hyp. 6.24.)—a far nobler course than to cling greedily to a little span of life and cover ourselves with great disgrace!

But I think that you would most of all be aroused to prosecute the war if in imagination you could see your parents and your children standing, as it were, beside you, the former exhorting you not to disgrace the name of Sparta, nor the laws under which we were reared, nor the memory of the battles fought in their time; the latter demanding the restoration of the country which their forefathers bequeathed to them, together with the dominion and the leadership among the Hellenes which we ourselves received from our fathers. Not a word could we say in answer; never could we deny the justice of either plea.

I do not know what more I need to add, save only this much—that while numberless wars and dangers have fallen to the lot of Sparta, the enemy have never yet raised a trophy over us when a king from my house was our leader. And prudent men, when they have leaders under whom they win success in their battles, should also give heed to them, in preference to all others, when they give counsel regarding impending wars.