Mēnutēs

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Μάλιστα δὲ καὶ πρὸ τῶν πάντων ἐλεύθερος ἔστω τὴν γνώμην καὶ μήτε φοβείσθω μηδένα μήτε ἐλπιζέτω μηδέν, ἐπεὶ ὅμοιος ἔσται τοῖς φαύλοις δικασταῖς πρὸς χάριν ἢ πρὸς ἀπέχθειαν ἐπὶ μισθῷ δικάζουσιν. ἀλλὰ μὴ μελέτω αὐτῷ μήτε Φίλιππος ἐκκεκομμένος τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ὑπὸ Ἀστέρος τοῦ Ἀμφιπολίτου τοῦ τοξότου ἐν Ὀλύνθῳ, ἀλλὰ τοιοῦτος οἷος ἦν δειχθήσεται· μήτ’ εἰ Ἀλέξανδρος ἀνιάσεται ἐπὶ τῇ Κλείτου σφαγῇ ὠμῶς ἐν τῷ συμποσίῳ γενομένῃ, εἰ σαφῶς ἀναγράφοιτο· οὐδὲ Κλέων αὐτὸν φοβήσει μέγα ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ δυνάμενος καὶ κατέχων τὸ βῆμα, ὡς μὴ εἰπεῖν ὅτι ὀλέθριος καὶ μανικὸς ἄνθρωπος οὗτος ἦν· οὐδὲ ἡ σύμπασα πόλις τῶν Ἀθηναίων, ἢν τὰ ἐν Σικελίᾳ κακὰ ἱστορῇ καὶ τὴν Δημοσθένους λῆψιν καὶ τὴν Νικίου τελευτὴν καὶ ὡς ἐδίψων καὶ οἷον τὸ ὕδωρ ἔπινον καὶ ὡς ἐφονεύοντο πίνοντες οἱ πολλοί. ἡγήσεται γὰρ — ὅπερ δικαιότατον — ὑπ’ οὐδενὸς τῶν νοῦν ἐχόντων αὐτὸς ἕξειν τὴν αἰτίαν ἢν τὰ δυστυχῶς ἢ ἀνοήτως γεγενημένα ὡς ἐπράχθη διηγῆται· οὐ γὰρ ποιητὴς αὐτῶν, ἀλλὰ μηνυτὴς ἦν. ὥστε κἂν καταναυμαχῶνται τότε, οὐκ ἐκεῖνος ὁ καταδύων ἐστί, κἂν φεύγωσιν οὐκ ἐκεῖνος ὁ διώκων, ἐκτὸς εἰ μή, εὔξασθαι δέον, παρέλιπεν. ἐπεί τοί γε εἰ σιωπήσας αὐτὰ ἢ πρὸς τοὐναντίον εἰπὼν ἐπανορθώσασθαι ἐδύνατο, ῥᾷστον ἦν ἑνὶ καλάμῳ λεπτῷ τὸν Θουκυδίδην ἀνατρέψαι μὲν τὸ ἐν ταῖς Ἐπιπολαῖς παρατείχισμα, καταδῦσαι δὲ τὴν Ἑρμοκράτους τριήρη καὶ τὸν κατάρατον Γύλιππον διαπεῖραι μεταξὺ ἀποτειχίζοντα καὶ ἀποταφρεύοντα τὰς ὁδούς καὶ τέλος Συρακουσίους μὲν ἐς τὰς λιθοτομίας ἐμβαλεῖν, τοὺς δὲ Ἀθηναίους περιπλεῖν Σικελίαν καὶ Ἰταλίαν μετὰ τῶν πρώτων τοῦ Ἀλκιβιάδου ἐλπίδων. ἀλλ᾽, οἶμαι, τὰ μὲν πραχθέντα οὐδὲ Κλωθὼ ἂν ἔτι ἀνακλώσειεν οὐδὲ Ἄτροπος μετατρέψειε.
(Lucian, Pōs Dei Historian Sungraphein 38)

Above all and before everything else, let his* mind be free, let him fear no one and expect nothing, or else he will be like a bad judge who sells his verdict to curry favour or gratify hatred. He must not be concerned that Philip has had his eye put out by Aster of Amphipolis, the archer at Olynthus — he must show him exactly as he was. Nor must he mind if Alexander is going to be angry when he gives a clear account of the cruel murder of Clitus at the banquet. Neither will Cleon with his great power in the assembly and his mastery of the platform frighten him from saying that he was murderous and lunatic: nor even the entire city of the Athenians if he records the disaster of Sicily, the capture of Demosthenes, and the death of Nicias, the thirst of the troops, the sort of water they drank, and how most of them were slain as they drank it. For he will think quite rightly that no man of sense will blame him if he gives an account of unlucky or stupid actions — he has not been responsible for them, he has merely told the tale. So that if they are ever defeated in a sea-fight it is not he who sank them and if they run away it is not he who drives them on, unless he neglected to say a prayer when he ought. Surely if by ignoring them or reversing them he could set them right, it would have been very easy for Thucydides with one insubstantial pen to overturn the counter-wall at Epipolae, and sink the trireme of Hermocrates, to transfix that cursed man Gylippus in the act of blocking the roads with walls and ditches, and finally to throw the Syracusans into the stone-quarries while the Athenians sailed round Sicily and Italy as Alcibiades had first hoped. No, when what is done is done I fancy that even Clotho could not unspin their destiny or Atropus change their course.

* sc. the historian’s.

(tr. Austin Morris Harmon)

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