The World's Famous Orations/Volume 1/To the Spartans
TO THE SPARTANS
And now I beg that I may not be the worse thought of by any among you, because I am now strenuously attacking my country with its bitterest enemies, tho I formerly had a reputation for patriotism; and that my words may not be suspected on the score of an exile's forwardness. For tho I am an exile, as regards the villainy of those who banished me, I am not one, as regards assistance to you, if you will be persuaded by me; and the party hostile to me was, not you, who only hurt your foes, but rather they who compelled their friends to become their foes.
My patriotism, too, I keep not at a time when I am being wronged, but only while I enjoyed my civil rights in security. Nor do I consider myself to be going against what is still my country, but much rather to be recovering that country which is mine no more. And the patriot, in the true sense, is not that man who, when he has unjustly lost his country, abstains from aggression upon it, but he who, because of his longing for it, endeavors by all means to regain it. Thus, as far as I am concerned, I beg you, Lacedæmonians, fearlessly to command my services, both for danger and trouble of every kind; knowing that argument which is advanced by all, namely, that if as your enemy I did you very great harm, I might also as your friend do you great service; inasmuch as I know the plans of the Athenians, while I only guessed yours. I beg, too, that on your own part also, being convinced that you are consulting about your greatest interests, you will not shrink from the expedition both against Sicily and Attica: that by joining them with a small part of your forces, you may at once preserve the great states in Sicily, and overthrow the present and future power of the Athenians; and may afterwards live in security yourselves, and enjoy a voluntary supremacy over the whole of Greece resting not on force but on affection.
- Delivered in Sparta in 413 B.C. Alcibiades, on being recalled from Sicily to stand trial at Athens, had gone to Sparta, where he prevailed upon its people to assist Syracuse in the war with Athens. Reported by Thucydides. Translated by Henry Dale.