Page:Essays and Addresses.djvu/385
Megabyzus and Dareius support democracy, oligarchy and monarchy by arguments which no Persian could have used. And in filling up such outlines, my aim has been to make the speaker say what, under the circumstances, seemed most opportune (τὰ δέοντα μάλιστα).
The last phrase is noticeable as marking a limit of dramatic purpose. According to the regular usage of the words (τὰ δέοντα) in Thucydides, it can mean only "what the occasion required"—not necessarily what was most suitable to the character of the speaker. The latter idea would have been expressed by a different phrase (τὰ προσήκοντα). That is, in filling up the framework supplied by the reported "general sense" of a speech, Thucydides has freely exercised his own judgment on the situation. Suppose a report to have reached him in this shape: "Hermocrates spoke in the congress at Gela, urging the Sicilian cities to lay aside their feuds and unite against Athens." In composing on this theme, the first thought of Thucydides would be, "What were the best arguments available?" rather than, "What arguments would Hermocrates have used?" This general rule would, of course, be liable to various degrees of modification in cases where the speaker was well known to the historian as having marked traits of character, opinion or style.
- Thuc. i. 70, τὸ τὰ δέοντα πρᾶξαι: 138, αὐτοσχεδιάζειν τὰ δέοντα: ii. 43, γιγνώσκοντες τὰ δέοντα: ii. 60, γνῶναι τε τὰ δέοντα καὶ ἑρμηνεῦσαι ταῦτα.