Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
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4.31But you would, I think, men of Athens, form a better idea of the war and of the total force required, if you considered the geography of the country you are attacking, and if you reflected that the winds and the seasons enable Philip to gain most of his successes by forestalling us. He waits for the Etesian winds [Note] or for the winter, and attacks at a time when we could not possibly reach the seat of war. 4.32Bearing this in mind, we must rely not on occasional levies, or we shall be too late for everything, but on a regular standing army. You have the advantage of winter bases for your troops in Lemnos, Thasos, Sciathos, and the neighboring islands, where are to be found harbors, provisions, and everything that an army needs; and during that season of the year when it is easy to stand close in to shore and the winds are steady, your force will easily lie off his coast and at the mouth of his seaports.

4.33How and when this force is to be employed will be a matter for your duly appointed commander to determine according to circumstances, but what it is your task to provide, that I have put down in my resolution. If, men of Athens, you first provide the funds which I name and then equip the whole force complete, men, ships and cavalry, binding them legally to serve for the duration of the war, and if you make yourselves the stewards and administrators of the funds, looking to your general for an account of his operations, then you will no longer be for ever debating the same question and never making any progress. 4.34More than that, Athenians, you will be depriving Philip of his principal source of revenue. And what is that? For the war against you he makes your allies pay by raiding their sea-borne commerce. Is there any further advantage? Yes, you will be out of reach of injury yourselves. Your past experience will not be repeated, when he threw a force into Lemnos and Imbros and carried your citizens away captive, when he seized the shipping at Geraestus and levied untold sums, or, to crown all, when he landed at Marathon and bore away from our land the sacred trireme, [Note] while you are still powerless to prevent these insults or to send your expeditions at the appointed times. 4.35And yet, men of Athens, how do you account for the fact that the Panathenaic festival and the Dionysia are always held at the right date, whether experts or laymen are chosen by lot to manage them, that larger sums are lavished upon them than upon any one of your expeditions, that they are celebrated with bigger crowds and greater splendor than anything else of the kind in the world, whereas your expeditions invariably arrive too late, whether at Methone or at Pagasae or at Potidaea? 4.36The explanation is that at the festivals everything is ordered by statute; every man among you knows long beforehand who of his tribe is to provide the chorus or who to equip the gymnasium, [Note] what he is to receive, when and from whom he is to receive it, and what he is to do; nothing here is left to chance, nothing is undetermined: but in what pertains to war and its equipment, everything is ill-arranged, ill-managed, ill-defined. Consequently we wait till we have heard some piece of news, and then we appoint our ship-masters, and arrange suits for exchange of property, [Note] and go into committee of ways and means, and next we resolve that the fleet shall be manned by resident aliens and freedmen, 4.37then again by citizens, then by substitutes, then, while we thus delay, the object of our cruise is already lost. Thus the time for action is wasted in preparation, but the opportunities of fortune wait not for our dilatoriness and reluctance. The forces which we fancied would serve us as a stop-gap prove incapable when the crucial moment arrives. Meanwhile Philip has the effrontery to send such letters as these to the Euboeans.Reading of the Letter

4.38Most of what has been read, Athenians, is unfortunately true—possibly, however, not pleasant to listen to. But if all that a speaker passes over, to avoid giving offence, is passed over by the course of events also, then blandiloquence is justified; but if smooth words out of season prove a curse in practice, then it is our disgrace if we hoodwink ourselves, if we shelve whatever is irksome and so miss the time for action, 4.39if we fail to learn the lesson that to manage a war properly you must not follow the trend of events but must forestall them, and that just as an army looks to its general for guidance, so statesmen must guide circumstances, if they are to carry out their policy and not be forced to follow at the heels of chance. 4.40But 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.



Demosthenes, Speeches (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose; rhetoric] [word count] [Dem.].
<<Dem. 4.25 Dem. 4.34 (Greek) >>Dem. 4.45

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