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XIII.1‑19.3

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

of
Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1950

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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XIII.34‑63

(Vol. V) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

(Book XIII, continued)

p175 (19) 4 Now at that time the whole city of Syracuse offered sacrifice to the gods, and on the next day, after the Assembly had gathered, they considered what disposition they should make of the captives. A man named Diocles, who was a most notable leader of the populace, declared his opinion that the Athenian p177generals should be put to death under torture and the other prisoners should for the present all be thrown into the quarries; but that later the allies of the Athenians should be sold as booty and the Athenians should labour as prisoners under guard, receiving two cotyls1 of barley meal. 5 When this motion had been read, Hermocrates took the floor and endeavoured to show that a fairer thing than victory is to bear the victory with moderation.2 6 But when the people shouted their disapproval and would not allow him to continue, a man named Nicolaüs, who had lost two sons in the war, made his way, supported by his slaves because of his age, to the platform. When the people saw him, they stopped shouting, believing that he would denounce the prisoners. As soon, then, as there was silence, the old man began to speak.

20 1 "Of the misfortunes of the war, men of Syracuse, I have shared in a part, and not the least; for being the father of two sons, I sent them into the struggle on behalf of the fatherland, and I received back, in place of them, a message which announced their death. 2 Therefore, as I miss their companionship each day and call to mind once more that they are dead, I deem them happy, but pity my own lot, believing myself to be the most unfortunate of men. 3 For they, having expended for the salvation of their fatherland the death which mankind owes to Nature, have left behind them deathless renown for themselves, whereas I, bereft at the end of my days of those who were to minister to my old age, bear a p179twofold sorrow, in that it is both the children of my own body and their valour that I miss. 4 For the more gallant their death, the more poignant the memory of themselves they have left behind. I have good reason, then, for hating the Athenians, since it is because of them that I am being guided here, not by my own sons, but, as you can see, by slaves. 5 Now if I perceived, men of Syracuse, that the matter under discussion was merely a decision affecting the Athenians, I with good reason, both because of the misfortunes of our country, shared by all, and because of my personal afflictions, should have dealt bitterly with them; but since, along with consideration of the pity which is shown to unfortunates, the question at issue concerns both the good of the State and the fame of the people of the Syracusans which will be spread abroad to all mankind, I shall direct my proposal solely to the question of expediency.

21 1 "The people of the Athenians have received a punishment their own folly deserved, first of all from the hands of the gods and then from us whom they had wronged. 2 Good it is indeed that the deity involves in unexpected disasters those who begin an unjust war and do not bear their own superiority as men should. 3 For who could have expected that the Athenians, who had removed ten thousand talents3 from Delos to Athens and had dispatched to Sicily two hundred triremes and more than forty thousand men to fight, would ever suffer disasters of such magnitude? for from the preparations they made on such a scale not a ship, not a man has returned home, so that not even a survivor is left to carry to them word of the disaster. 4 Knowing, therefore, men p181of Syracuse, that the arrogant are hated among gods and men, do you, humbling yourselves before Fortune, commit no act that is beyond man's powers. What nobility is there in slaying the man who lies at your feet? What glory is there in wreaking vengeance on him? He who maintains his savagery unalterable amid human misfortunes also fails to take proper account4 of the common weakness of mankind. 5 For no man is so wise that his strength can prevail over Fortune, which of its nature finds delight in the sufferings of men and works swift changes in prosperity.

"Some, perhaps, will say, 'They have committed a wrong, and we have the power to punish them.' 6 But have you, then, not inflicted a many times greater punishment on the Athenian people, and are you not satisfied with your chastisement of the prisoners? For they have surrendered themselves together with their arms, trusting in the reasonableness of their conquerors; it is, therefore, not seemly that they should be cheated of our expected humaneness. 7 For those who maintained unalterable their enmity toward us have died fighting, but these who delivered themselves into our hands have become suppliants, no longer enemies. For those who in battle deliver their persons into the hands of their opponents do so in the hope of saving their lives; and should the men who have shown this trust receive so severe a punishment, though the victims will accept their misfortune, yet the punishers would be called hard-hearted. 8 But p183those who lay claim to leadership, men of Syracuse, should not strive to make themselves strong in arms so much as they should show themselves reasonable in their character.

22 1 "The fact is that subject peoples bide their time against those who dominate them by fear and, because of their hatred, retaliate upon them, but they steadfastly cherish those who exercise their leadership humanely and thereby always aid them in strengthening their supremacy. What destroyed the kingdom of the Medes? Their brutality toward the weaker. 2 For after the Persians revolted from them, their kingdom was attacked by most of the nations also. Else how did Cyrus5 rise from private citizen to the kingship over all of Asia? By his considerate treatment of the conquered. When, for example, he took King Croesus captive, far from doing him any injustice he actually became his benefactor; 3 and in much the same way did he also deal with all the other kings as well as peoples. As a consequence, when the fame of his clemency had been spread abroad to every region, all the inhabitants of Asia vied with one another in entering into alliance with the king.

4 "But why do I speak of things distant in both place and time? In this our city, not long since, Gelon6 rose from private citizen7 to be lord of the whole of Sicily, the cities willingly putting themselves under his authority; for the fairness of the man, combined with his sympathy for the unfortunate, drew all men to him. 5 And since from those times our city has laid claim to the leadership in Sicily, let us not bring into disrepute the fair name our ancestors p185won nor show ourselves brutal and implacable toward human misfortune. Indeed it is not fitting to give envy an occasion to criticize us by saying that we make an unworthy use of our good fortune; for it is a fine thing with us when Fortune is adverse and rejoice in turn at our successes. 6 The advantages which are won in arms are often determined by Fortune and opportunity, but clemency amid constant success is a distinctive mark of the virtue of men whose affairs prosper. Do not, therefore, begrudge our country the opportunity of being acclaimed by all mankind, because it has surpassed the Athenians not only in feats of arms but also in humanity. 7 For it will be manifest that the people who vaunt their superiority to all others in civilization have received by our kindness all consideration, and they who were the first to raise an altar to Mercy8 will find that mercy in the city of the Syracusans. 8 From this it will be clear to all that they suffered a just defeat and we enjoyed a deserved success, if it so be that, although they sought to wrong men who had treated with kindness even their foes, we, on the contrary, defeated men who ventured treacherously to attack a people which shows mercy even to its bitterest enemies. And so the Athenians would not only stand accused by all the world, but even they themselves would condemn themselves, that they had undertaken to wrong such men.

23 1 "A fine thing it is, men of Syracuse, to take p187the lead in establishing a friendship and, by showing mercy to the unfortunate, to make up the quarrel. For goodwill toward our friend should be kept imperishable, but hatred toward our enemies perishable, since by this practice it will come about that one's allies increase in number and one's enemies decrease. 2 But for us to maintain the quarrel forever and to pass it on to children's children is neither kindly nor safe; since it sometimes happens that those who appear to be more powerful turn out to be weaker by the decision of a moment than their former subjects. 3 And a witness to this is the war which has just now ceased: The men who came here to lay siege to the city and, by means of their superior power, threw a wall about it have by a change in fortune become captives, as you can see. It is a fine thing, therefore, by showing ourselves lenient amid the misfortunes of other men, to have reserved for us the hope of mercy from all men, in case some ill befall us of such as come to mortal men. For many are the unexpected things life holds — civic strifes, robberies, wars, amid which one may not easily avoid the peril, being but human. 4 Consequently, if we shall exclude the thought of mercy for the defeated, we shall be setting up, for all time to come, a harsh law against ourselves. For it is impossible that men who have shown no compassion for others should themselves ever carve humane treatment at the hands of another and that men who have outraged others should be treated indulgently, or that we, after murdering so many men contrary to the traditions of the Greeks, should in the reversals which attend life appeal to the usages common to all mankind. 5 For what Greek has ever judged that those who have surrendered themselves and put p189their trust in the kindness of their conquerors are deserving of implacable punishment? or who has ever held mercy less potent than cruelty, precaution than rashness?

24 1 "All men sturdily oppose the enemy which is lined up for battle but fall back when he has surrendered, wearing down the hardihood of the former and showing pity for the misfortune of the latter. For our ardour is broken whenever the former enemy, having by a change of fortune become a suppliant, submits to suffer whatever suits the pleasure of his conquerors. 2 And the spirits of civilized men are gripped, I believe, most perhaps by mercy, because of the sympathy which nature has planted in all. The Athenians, for example, although in the Peloponnesian War they had blockaded many Lacedaemonians on the island of Sphacteria9 and taken them captive, released treatment to the Spartans on payment of ransom. 3 On another occasion the Lacedaemonians, when they had taken prisoner many of the Athenians and their allies, disposed of them in the same manner. And in so doing they both acted nobly. 4 For hatred should exist between the Greeks only until victory has been won and punishment only until the enemy has been overcome. And whoever goes farther and wreaks vengeance upon the vanquished who flees for refuge to the leniency of his conqueror is no longer punishing his enemy but, far more, is guilty of an offence against human weakness. 5 For against harshness such as this one may mention the adages of the wise men of old: 'O man, be not high-spirited'; 'Know thyself'; 'Observe how Fortune is lord of all.' For what reason did the ancestors of all the Greeks ordain that the trophies set up in p191celebrating victories in war should be made, not of stone, but of any wood at hand? 6 Was it not in order that the memorials of the enmity, lasting as they would for a brief time, should quickly disappear? Speaking generally, if you wish to establish the quarrel for all time, know that in doing so you are treating with disdain human weakness; for a single moment, a slight turn of Fortune, often brings low the arrogant.

25 1 "If, as is likely, you will make an end of the war, what better time will you find than the present, in which you will make your humane treatment of the prostrate the occasion for friendship? For do not assume that the Athenian people have become completely exhausted by their disaster in Sicily, seeing that they hold sway over practically all the islands of Greece and retain the supremacy over the coasts of both Europe and Asia. 2 Indeed once before, after losing three hundred triremes together with their crews in Egypt,10 they compelled the King,11 who seemed to hold the upper hand, to accept ignominious terms of peace, and again, when their city had been razed to the ground by Xerxes, after a short time they defeated him also and won for themselves the leadership of Greece. 3 For that city has a clever way, in the midst of the greatest misfortunes, of making the greatest growth in power and of never adopting a policy that is mean-spirited. It would be a fine thing, therefore, instead of increasing their enmity, to have the Athenians as allies after sparing the prisoners. 4 For if we put them to death we shall merely be indulging our anger, sating a fruitless passion, whereas if we put them under guard, we p193shall have the gratitude of the men we succoured and the approbation of all other peoples.

26 1 "Yes, some will answer, but there are Greeks who have executed their prisoners. What of it? If praise accrues to them from that deed, let us nevertheless imitate those who have paid heed to their reputation; but if we are the first by whom they are accused, let us not ourselves commit the same crimes as those who by their own admission have sinned. 2 So long as the men who entrusted their lives to our good faith have suffered no irremediable punishment, all men will justly censure the Athenian people; but if they hear that, contrary to the generally accepted customs of mankind, faith has been broken with the captives, they will shift their accusation against us. For in truth, if it can be said of any other people, the prestige of the city of the Athenians deserves our reverence, and we may well return to them our gratitude for the benefactions they have bestowed upon man. 3 For it is they who first gave to the Greeks a share in a food12 gained by cultivation of the soil, which, though they had received it from the gods13 for their exclusive use, they made available to all. They it was who discovered laws, by the application of which the manner of men's living has advanced from the savage and unjust existence to a civilized and just society. It was they who first, by sparing the lives of any who sought refuge with them, contrived to cause the laws on suppliants to prevail among all men, and since they were the authors of these laws, we should not deprive them of their protection. So much to all of you; but some among you I shall remind of the claims of human kindness.

p195 27 1 "All you who in that city have participated in its eloquence and learning, show mercy to men who offer their country as a school for the common use of mankind; and do all you, who have taken part in the most holy Mysteries,14 save the lives of those who initiated you, some by way of showing gratitude for kindly services already received and others, who look forward to partaking of them, not in anger depriving yourselves of that hope. 2 For what place is there to which foreigners may resort for a liberal eunuch once the city of the Athenians has been destroyed? Brief is the hatred aroused by the wrong they have committed, but important and many are their accomplishments which claim goodwill.

"But apart from consideration for the city, one might, in examining the prisoners individually, find those who would justly receive mercy. For the allies of Athens, being under constraint because of the superior power of their rulers, were compelled to join the expedition. 3 It follows, then, that if it is just to take vengeance upon those who have done wrong from design, it would be fitting to treat as worthy of leniency those who sin against their will. What shall I say of Nicias, who from the first, after initiating his policy in the interest of the Syracusans, was the only man to oppose the expedition against Sicily, and who has continually looked after the interests of Syracusans resident in Athens and served as their proxenus?15 4 It would be extraordinary indeed that Nicias, who had sponsored our cause as a politician in Athens, should be punished, and that he should not be accorded humane treatment because of the goodwill he has shown toward us but because of his p197service in business of his country should meet with implacable punishment, and that Alcibiades, the man who brought on the war against the Syracusans, should escape his deserved punishment both from us and from the Athenians, whereas he who has proved himself by common consent the most humane among Athenians should not even meet with the mercy accorded to all men. 5 Therefore for my part, when I consider the change in his circumstances, I pity his lot. For formerly, as one of the most distinguished of all Greeks and applauded for his knightly character, he was one to be deemed happy and was admired in every city; 6 but now, with hands bound behind his back in a tunic squalid in appearance, he has experienced the piteous state of captivity, as if Fortune wished to give, in the life of this man, an example of her power. The prosperity which Fortune gives it behooves us to bear as human beings should and not show barbarous savagery toward men of our own race."

28 1 Such were the arguments used by Nicolaüs in addressing the people of Syracuse and before he ceased he had won the sympathy of his hearers. But the Laconian Gylippus,16 who still maintained implacable his hatred of Athenians, mounting the rostrum began his argument with that topic. 2 "I am greatly surprised, men of Syracuse, to see that you so quickly, on a matter in which you have suffered grievously by deeds, are moved to change your minds by words.17 For if you who, in order to p199save your city from desolation, faced peril against men who came to destroy your country, have become relaxed in temper, why, then, should we who have suffered no wrong exert ourselves? 3 Do you in heaven's name, men of Syracuse, grant me pardon as I set forth my counsel with all frankness; for, being a Spartan, I have also a Spartan's manner of speech. And first of all one might inquire how Nicolaüs can say, 'Show mercy to the Athenians,' who have rendered his old age piteous because childless, and how, coming before the Assembly in mourner's dress, he can weep and say that you should show pity to the murderers of his own children. 4 For that man is no longer equitable who ceases to think of his nearest of kin after their death but elects to save the lives of his bitterest foes. Why how many of you who are assembled here have mourned sons who have been slain in the war?" (Many of the audience at least raised a great outcry.) 5 And Gylippus interrupting it said, "Do you see, Nicolaüs, those who by their outcry proclaim their misfortune? And how many of you look in vain for brothers or relatives or friends whom you have lost?" (A far greater number shouted agreement.) 6 Gylippus then continued: "Do you observe, Nicolaüs, the multitude of those who have suffered because of Athenians? All these, though guilty of no wrong done to Athenians, have been robbed of their nearest kinsmen, and they are bound to hate the Athenians in as great a measure as they have loved their own.

29 1 "Will it not be strange, men of Syracuse, if those who have perished chose death on your behalf of their own accord, but that you on their behalf p201shall not exact punishment from even your bitterest enemies? and that, though you praise those who gave their very lives to preserve their country's freedom, you shall make it a matter of greater moment to preserve the lives of the murderers than to safeguard the honour of these men? 2 You have voted to embellish at public expense the tombs of the departed; yet what fairer embellishment will you find than the punishing of their slayers? Unless, by Zeus, it would be by enrolling them among your citizens, you should wish to leave living trophies of the departed. 3 But, it may be said, they have renounced the name of enemies and have become suppliants. On what grounds, pray, would this humane treatment have been accorded them? For those who first established our ordinances regarding these matters prescribed mercy for the unfortunates, but punishment for those who from sheer depravity practise iniquity. 4 In which category, now, are we to place the prisoners? In that of unfortunates? Why, what Fortune compelled them, who had suffered no wrong, to make war on Syracuse, to abandon peace, which all men praise, and to come here with the purpose of destroying your city? 5 Consequently let those who of their free will chose an unjust war bear its hard consequences with courage, and let not those who, if they had conquered, would have kept implacable their cruelty toward you, now that they have been thwarted in their purpose, beg off from punishment by appealing to the human kindness which is due to the prayer of a suppliant. 6 And if they stand convicted of having suffered their serious defeats because of wickedness and greed, let them not blame Fortune for them nor summon to their aid p203the name of 'supplication'. For that term is reserved among men for those who are pure in heart but have found Fortune unkind. 7 These men, however, whose lives have been crammed with every malefaction, have left for themselves no place in the world which will admit them to mercy and refuge.

30 1 "For what utterly shameful deed have they not planned, what deed most shocking have they not perpetrated? It is a distinctive mark of greed that a man, not being content with his own gifts of Fortune, covets those which are distant and belong to someone else; and this these men have done. For though the Athenians were the most prosperous of all the Greeks, dissatisfied with their felicity as if were a heavy burden, they longed to portion out to colonists Sicily, separated as it was from them by so great and expanse of sea, for they had sold the inhabitants into slavery. 2 It is a terrible thing to begin a war, when one has not first been wronged; yet that is what they did. For though they were your friends until then, on a sudden, without warning, with an armament of such strength they laid siege to Syracusans. 3 It is characteristic of arrogant men, anticipating the decision of Fortune, to decree the punishment of peoples not yet conquered; and this also they have left undone. For before the Athenians ever set foot in Sicily they approved a resolution to sell into slavery the citizens of Syracuse and Selinus and to compel the remaining Sicilians to pay tribute. When there is to be found in the same men greediness, treachery, arrogance, what person in his right mind would show them mercy? 4 How then, mark you, did the Athenians treat the Mitylenaeans? Why after conquering them, although the Mitylenaeans p205had no intention of doing them any wrong but only desired their freedom, they voted to put to the sword all the inhabitants of the city.18 A cruel and barbarous deed. 5 And that crime too they committed Greeks, against allies, against men who had often been their benefactors. Let them not now complain if, after having done such things to the rest of mankind, they themselves shall receive like punishment; for it is altogether just that a man should accept his lot without complaint when he is himself affected by the law he has laid down for others. 6 What shall I say also of the Melians,19 whom they reduced by siege and slew from the youth upward? and of the Scionaeans,20 who, although their kinsmen, shared the same fate as the Melians? 7 Consequently two peoples who had fallen foul of Attic fury had left not even any of their number to perform the rites over the bodies of their dead. It is not Scythians who committed such deeds, but the people who claim to excel in love of mankind have by their decrees utterly destroyed these cities. Consider now what they would have done if they had sacked the city of the Syracusans; for men who dealt with their kinsmen with such savagery would have devised a harsher punishment for a people with whom they had no ties of blood.

31 1 "There is, therefore, no just measure of mercy in store for them to call upon, since as for the use of it on the occasion of their own mishaps they themselves have destroyed it. Where is it worth their while to flee for safety? To gods, whom they have chosen to rob of their traditional honours? To men, whom they have visited only to enslave? Do they call upon Demeter and Corê and their Mysteries now p207that they have laid waste the sacred island21 of these goddesses? 2 Yes, some will say, but not the whole people of the Athenians are to blame, but only Alcibiades who advised this expedition. We shall find, however, that in most cases their advisers pay every attention to the wishes of their audience, so that the voter suggests to the speaker words that suit his own purpose. For the speaker is not the master of the multitude, but the people, by adopting measures that are honest, train the orator to propose what is best. 3 If we shall pardon men guilty of irrevocable injustices when they lay the responsibility upon their advisers, we shall indeed be providing wicked with an easy defence! It is clear that nothing in the world could be more unjust than that, while in the case of benefactions it is not the advisers but the people who receive the thanks of the recipients, in the matter of injustices the punishment is passed on to the speakers.

4 "Yet some have lost their reasoning powers to such a degree as to assert that it is Alcibiades, over whom we have no power, who should be punished, but that we should release the prisoners, who are being led to their deserved punishment, and thus make it known to the world that the people of the Syracusans have no righteous indignation against base men. 5 But if the advocates of the war have in truth been the cause of it, let the people blame the speakers for the consequences of their deception, but you will with justice punish the people for the wrongs which you have suffered. And, speaking generally, if they committed the wrongs with full knowledge that they were so doing, because of their very intention they deserve punishment, but if they entered the war without a considered plan, p209even so they should not be let off, in order that they may not grow accustomed to act offhand in matters which affect the lives of other men. For it is not just that the ignorance of the Athenians should bring destruction to Syracusans or that in a case where the crime is irremediable, the criminals should retain a vehicle of defence.

32 1 "Yet, by Zeus, someone will say, Nicias took the part of the Syracusans in the debate and was the only one who advised against making war. As for what he said there we know it by hearsay, but what has been done here we have witnessed with our own eyes. 2 For the man who there opposed the expedition was here commander of the armament; he who takes the part of Syracusans in debate walled off your city; and he who is humanely disposed toward you, when Demosthenes and all the others wished to break off the siege, alone compelled them to remain and continue the war. Therefore for my part I do not believe that his words should have greater weight with you than his deeds, report than experience, things unseen than things that have been witnessed by all.

3 "Yet, by Zeus, someone will say, it is a good thing not to make our enmity eternal. Very well, then, after the punishment of the malefactors you will, if you so agree, put an end to your enmity in a suitable manner. For it is not just that men who treat their captives like slaves when they are the victors, should, when they in turn are the vanquished, be objects of pity as if they had done no wrong. And though they will have been freed of paying the penalty for their deeds, by specious pleas they will remember the friendship only so long as it is to their advantage. 4 For I omit to mention the fact that, if you take this course, p211you will be wronging not only many others but also the Lacedaemonians, who for your sake both entered upon the war over there and also sent you aid here; for they might have been well content to maintain peace and look on while Sicily was being laid waste.22 5 Consequently, if you free the prisoners and thus enter into friendly relations with Athens, you will be looked upon as traitors to your allies and, when it is in your water to weaken the common enemy, by releasing so great a number of soldiers you will make our enemy again formidable. For I could never bring myself to believe that Athenians, after getting themselves involved in so bitter an enmity, will keep the friendly relation unbroken; on the contrary, while they are weak they will feign goodwill, but when they have recovered their strength, they will carry their original purpose to completion. 6 I therefore adjure you all, in the name of Zeus and all the gods, not to save the lives of your enemies, not to leave your allies in the lurch, not again for a second time to bring peril upon your country. You yourselves, men of Syracuse, if you let these men go and then some ill befalls you, will leave for yourselves not even a respectable defence."23

33 1 After the Laconian had spoken to this effect, the multitude suddenly changed its mind and approved the proposal of Diocles.24 Consequently the general25 and the allies26 were forthwith put to death, and the Athenians were consigned to the quarries; and at a later time such of them as possessed a better p213education were rescued from there by the younger men and thus got away safe, but practically all the rest ended their lives pitiably amid the hardships of this place of confinement.

2 After the termination of the war Diocles set up the laws for the Syracusans, and it came to pass that this man experienced a strange reversal of fortune. For having become implacable in fixing penalties and severe in punishing offenders, he wrote in the laws that, if any man should appear in the market-place carrying a weapon, the punishment should be death, and he made no allowance for either ignorance or any other circumstance. 3 And when word had been received that enemies were in the land, he set forth carrying a sword; but since sudden civil strife had arisen and there was uproar in the market-place, he thoughtlessly entered the market-place with the sword. And when one of the ordinary citizens, noticing this, said that he himself was annulling his own laws, he cried out, "Not so, by Zeus, I will even uphold them." And drawing the sword he slew himself.27

These, then, were the events of this year.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 An almost starvation fare of about one pint.

2 His words in Plutarch, Nicias, 28.2 are: τοῦ νικᾶν κρεῖττόν ἐστι τὸ καλῶς χρῆσθαι τῇ νίκῃ ("Better than victory is a noble use of victory").

3 Given as "some eight thousand" in Book 12.38.2.

4 Literally "do an injustice to." The "weakness" of mankind lies in their being subject to the whim of Fortune. The conqueror of to‑day may to‑morrow be pleading for mercy from to‑day's conquered. We should not shut our eyes to the universal law that a turn of Fortune may make the weak strong, the unfortunate favoured of Fortune. The same thought recurs twice infra, chap. 24.2 (ἀδικεῖν) and 6 (ὑπερφρονεῖν τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην ἀσθένειαν), where the rôle of Fortune in the affairs of men is specifically mentioned.

5 King of Persia, 550‑529 B.C.

Jona Lendering's Note: These dates were corrected in 1880. The first known document to the sole rule of Cambyses (31 August 530) can be found in J. N. Strassmeier, Cambyses (1890), #1.

6 "General" of Syracuse, 485‑478 B.C. For his great victory over the Carthaginians at Himera see Book 11.22 ff.

7 Not strictly true, since Gelon was tyrant of Gela when he was called to Syracuse by the aristocratic party.

8 It was a boast of the Athenians that their city had always been a refuge for the distressed, such as Orestes and Oedipus and the children of Heracles. The altar of Mercy and its grove were well known to the ancient world and are described at length in one of the more famous passages of the Thebaid (12.481‑511; tr. in the L. C. L.) of Statius, who calls it the altar of "gentle Clemency."

9 Cp. Book 12.61 ff.

10 Around Memphis; cp. Book 11.74‑77 passim.

11 Of Persia; cp. Book 12.4.

12 Reference is to the discovery of corn (wheat); although in Book 5.4, 69 Diodorus states that wheat was first discovered in Sicily and from there passed to the Athenians.

13 The "gift of Demeter."

14 The Eleusinian Mysteries.

15 On the position of proxenus see p45, n1. Nicias' speech in opposition to this expedition is given by Thucydides (6.9‑14); cp. also his second speech (ibid. 20‑23 and Plutarch, Nicias, 12).

16 The general of the forces sent by the Lacedaemonians to the aid of Syracuse; cp. chap. 7.

17 Cp. "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here" (Lincoln, The Gettysburg Oration).

18 This decree was not actually carried out; cp. Book 12.55.8 f.

19 Cp. Book 12.80.5.

20 Cp. Book 12.76.3.

21 Sicily.

22 At the first request of the Syracusans for aid the Lacedaemonians did no more than send their general Gylippus (chap. 7), not wishing to break the peace with Athens. But early in 413 they declared war on Athens, seized and fortified Deceleia in Attica, and began sending troops on merchant ships to Sicily.

23 Plutarch (Nicias, 28.2) and Thucydides (7.86.2) state that Gylippus proposed that the lives of the generals be spared, since he wished to take them back with him to Sparta.

24 Cp. chap. 19.4.

25 Demosthenes and Nicias.

26 Associated with the Athenians. But Diocles had proposed (chap. 19.4) that the allies should be sold as booty.

27 See Book 12.19.


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Page updated: 7 Nov 08