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The History Of Herodotus Volume 2 of 2

Page: 149

235. He made answer: "O king, if thou dost in very earnest take counsel with me, it is right that I declare to thee the best thing. What if thou shouldest send three hundred ships from thy fleet to attack the Laconian land? Now there is lying near it an island named Kythera, about which Chilon, who was a very wise man among us, said that it would be a greater gain for the Spartans that it should be sunk under the sea than that it should remain above it; for he always anticipated that something would happen from it of such a kind as I am now setting forth to thee: not that he knew of thy armament beforehand, but that he feared equally every armament of men. Let thy forces then set forth from this island and keep the Lacedemonians in fear; and while they have a war of their own close at their doors, there will be no fear for thee from them that when the remainder of Hellas is being conquered by the land-army, they will come to the rescue there. Then after the remainder of Hellas has been reduced to subjection, from that moment the Lacedemonian power will be left alone and therefore feeble. If however thou shalt not do this, I will tell thee what thou must look for. There is a narrow isthmus leading to the Peloponnese, and in this place thou must look that other battles will be fought more severe than those which have taken place, seeing that all the Peloponnesians have sworn to a league against thee: but if thou shalt do the other thing of which I spoke, this isthmus and the cities within it will come over to thy side without a battle."

236. After him spoke Achaimenes, brother of Xerxes and also commander of the fleet, who chanced to have been present at this discourse and was afraid lest Xerxes should be persuaded to do this: "O king," he said, "I see that thou art admitting the speech of a man who envies thy good fortune, or is even a traitor to thy cause: for in truth the Hellenes delight in such a temper as this; they envy a man for his good luck, and they hate that which is stronger than themselves. And if, besides other misfortunes which we have upon us, seeing that four hundred of our ships 237 have suffered wreck, thou shalt send away another three hundred from the station of the fleet to sail round Peloponnese, then thy antagonists become a match for thee in fight; whereas while it is all assembled together our fleet is hard for them to deal with, and they will not be at all a match for thee: and moreover the whole sea-force will support the land-force and be supported by it, if they proceed onwards together; but if thou shalt divide them, neither wilt thou be of service to them nor they to thee. My determination is rather to set thy affairs in good order 238 and not to consider the affairs of the enemy, either where they will set on foot the war or what they will do or how many in number they are; for it is sufficient that they should themselves take thought for themselves, and we for ourselves likewise: and if the Lacedemonians come to stand against the Persians in fight, they will assuredly not heal the wound from which they are now suffering." 239


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