<<<
>>>

The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 128

159. Hearing this Syagros could not contain himself but spoke these words: "Deeply, I trow, would Agamemnon son of Pelops lament, 149 if he heard that the Spartans had had the leadership taken away from them by Gelon and by the Syracusans. Nay, but make thou no further mention of this condition, namely that we should deliver the leadership to thee; but if thou art desirous to come to the assistance of Hellas, know that thou wilt be under the command of the Lacedemonians; and if thou dost indeed claim not to be under command, come not thou to our help at all."

160. To this Gelon, seeing that the speech of Syagros was adverse, set forth to them his last proposal thus: "Stranger from Sparta, reproaches sinking into the heart of a man are wont to rouse his spirit in anger against them; thou however, though thou hast uttered insults against me in thy speech, wilt not bring me to show myself unseemly in my reply. But whereas ye so strongly lay claim to the leadership, it were fitting that I should lay claim to it more than ye, seeing that I am the leader of an army many times as large and of ships many more. Since however this condition is so distasteful to you, 150 we will recede somewhat from our former proposal. Suppose that ye should be leaders of the land-army and I of the fleet; or if it pleases you to lead the sea-forces, I am willing to be leader of those on land; and either ye must be contented with these terms or go away without the alliance which I have to give."

161. Gelon, I say, made these offers, and the envoy of the Athenians, answering before that of the Lacedemonians, replied to him as follows: "O king of the Syracusans, it was not of a leader that Hellas was in want when it sent us to thee, but of an army. Thou however dost not set before us the hope that thou wilt send an army, except thou have the leadership of Hellas; and thou art striving how thou mayest become commander of the armies of Hellas. So long then as it was thy demand to be leader of the whole army of the Hellenes, it was sufficient for us Athenians to keep silence, knowing that the Lacedemonian would be able to make defence even for us both; but now, since being repulsed from the demand for the whole thou art requesting to be commander of the naval force, we tell that thus it is:—not even if the Lacedemonian shall permit thee to be commander of it, will we permit thee; for this at least is our own, if the Lacedemonians do not themselves desire to have it. With these, if they desire to be the leaders, we do not contend; but none others beside ourselves shall we permit to be in command of the ships: for then to no purpose should we be possessors of a sea-force larger than any other which belongs to the Hellenes, if, being Athenians, we should yield the leadership to Syracusans, we who boast of a race which is the most ancient of all and who are of all the Hellenes the only people who have not changed from one land to another; to whom also belonged a man whom Homer the Epic poet said was the best of all who came to Ilion in drawing up an army and setting it in array. 151 Thus we are not justly to be reproached if we say these things."


<<<
>>>