Monday, February 22, 2021


Boxing Like a Barbarian

Demosthenes 4.40-41 (tr. J.H. Vince):
But you, Athenians, possessing unsurpassed resources—fleet, infantry, cavalry, revenues—have never to this very day employed them aright, and yet you carry on war with Philip exactly as a barbarian boxes. The barbarian, when struck, always clutches the place; hit him on the other side and there go his hands. He neither knows nor cares how to parry a blow or how to watch his adversary.

So you, if you hear of Philip in the Chersonese, vote an expedition there; if at Thermopylae, you vote one there; if somewhere else, you still keep pace with him to and fro. You take your marching orders from him; you have never framed any plan of campaign for yourselves, never foreseen any event, until you learn that something has happened or is happening.

ὑμεῖς δ᾽, ὦ ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, πλείστην δύναμιν ἁπάντων ἔχοντες, τριήρεις, ὁπλίτας, ἱππέας, χρημάτων πρόσοδον, τούτων μὲν μέχρι τῆς τήμερον ἡμέρας οὐδενὶ πώποτ᾽ εἰς δέον τι κέχρησθε, οὐδὲν δ᾽ ἀπολείπετε, ὥσπερ οἱ βάρβαροι πυκτεύουσιν, οὕτω πολεμεῖν Φιλίππῳ. καὶ γὰρ ἐκείνων ὁ πληγεὶς ἀεὶ τῆς πληγῆς ἔχεται, κἂν ἑτέρωσε πατάξῃ τις, ἐκεῖσ᾽ εἰσὶν αἱ χεῖρες· προβάλλεσθαι δ᾽ ἢ βλέπειν ἐναντίον οὔτ᾽ οἶδεν οὔτ᾽ ἐθέλει.

καὶ ὑμεῖς, ἂν ἐν Χερρονήσῳ πύθησθε Φίλιππον, ἐκεῖσε βοηθεῖν ψηφίζεσθε, ἂν ἐν Πύλαις, ἐκεῖσε, ἂν ἄλλοθί που, συμπαραθεῖτ᾽ ἄνω κάτω, καὶ στρατηγεῖσθ᾽ ὑπ᾽ ἐκείνου, βεβούλευσθε δ᾽ οὐδὲν αὐτοὶ συμφέρον περὶ τοῦ πολέμου, οὐδὲ πρὸ τῶν πραγμάτων προορᾶτ᾽ οὐδέν, πρὶν ἂν ἢ γεγενημένον ἢ γιγνόμενόν τι πύθησθε.
T. Gwatkin ad loc. (click once or twice to enlarge):

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