But, you see, in the army, where good conduct, discipline, submission are most necessary, our people pay no attention to these things.This may be due to the incompetence of the officers. You must have noticed that no one attempts to exercise authority over our harpists, choristers and dancers, if he is incompetent, nor over wrestlers or wrestlers who also box? All who have authority over them can tell where they learned their business; but most of our generals are improvisors.
However, I don’t suppose you are one of this sort. I suppose you can say when you began to learn strategy as well as when you began wrestling. Many of the principles, I think, you have inherited from your father, and many others you have gathered from every source from which you could learn anything useful to a general.
I think, too, that you take much trouble that you may not unconsciously lack any knowledge useful to a general; and if you find that you don’t know anything, you seek out those who have the knowledge, grudging neither gifts nor thanks, that you may learn what you don’t know from them and may have the help of good coaching.
I can see, Socrates, that in saying this you don’t really think I study these things, but you are trying to show me that one who is going to command an army must study all of them; and of course I admit that you are right.
Have you observed, Pericles, that our frontier is protected by great mountains extending to Boeotia, through which there are steep and narrow passes leading into our land, and that the interior is cut across by rugged mountains?Certainly.
Further, have you heard that the Mysians and Pisidians, occupying very rugged country in the Great King’s territory and lightly armed, contrive to overrun and damage the King’s territory and to preserve their own freedom?[*](Anabasis II. v. 13.)Yes, I have heard so.
And don’t you think that active young Athenians, more lightly armed and occupying the mountains that protect our country, would prove a thorn in the side of the enemy and a strong bulwark of defence to our people?Socrates, replied Pericles, I think all these suggestions too have a practical value.
Then, since you like them, adopt them, my good fellow. Any part of them that you carry out will bring honour to you and good to the state; and should you fail in part, you will neither harm the state nor disgrace yourself.