Diabolē

iranian.225x0-is-pid6619
Achaemenid nobleman

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

Σοὶ μὲν δὴ ταῦτα, ὦ βασιλεῦ, συμβουλεύω· σὺ δέ, ὦ παῖ Γωβρύεω, παῦσαι λέγων λόγους ματαίους περὶ Ἑλλήνων οὐκ ἐόντων ἀξίων φλαύρως ἀκούειν. Ἕλληνας γὰρ διαβάλλων ἐπείρεις αὐτὸν βασιλέα στρατεύεσθαι· αὐτοῦ δὲ τούτου εἵνεκα δοκέεις μοι πᾶσαν προθυμίην ἐκτείνειν. μή νυν οὕτω γένηται. διαβολὴ γάρ ἐστι δεινότατον, ἐν τῇ δύο μέν εἰσι οἱ ἀδικέοντες, εἷς δὲ ὁ ἀδικεόμενος. ὁ μὲν γὰρ διαβάλλων ἀδικέει οὐ παρεόντος κατηγορέων, ὁ δὲ ἀδικέει ἀναπειθόμενος πρὶν ἢ ἀτρεκέως ἐκμάθῃ· ὁ δὲ δὴ ἀπεὼν τοῦ λόγου τάδε ἐν αὐτοῖσι ἀδικέεται, διαβληθείς τε ὑπὸ τοῦ ἑτέρου καὶ νομισθεὶς πρὸς τοῦ ἑτέρου κακὸς εἶναι. ἀλλ’ εἰ δὴ δεῖ γε πάντως ἐπὶ τοὺς ἄνδρας τούτους στρατεύεσθαι, φέρε, βασιλεὺς μὲν αὐτὸς ἐν ἤθεσι τοῖσι Περσέων μενέτω, ἡμέων δὲ ἀμφοτέρων παραβαλλομένων τὰ τέκνα στρατηλάτεε αὐτὸς σὺ ἐπιλεξάμενός τε ἄνδρας τοὺς ἐθέλεις καὶ λαβὼν στρατιὴν ὁκόσην τινὰ βούλεαι. καὶ ἢν μὲν τῇ σὺ λέγεις ἀναβαίνῃ βασιλέϊ τὰ πρήγματα, κτεινέσθων οἱ ἐμοὶ παῖδες, πρὸς δὲ αὐτοῖσι καὶ ἐγώ· ἢν δὲ τῇ ἐγὼ προλέγω, οἱ σοὶ ταῦτα πασχόντων, σὺν δέ σφι καὶ σύ, ἢν ἀπονοστήσῃς. εἰ δὲ ταῦτα μὲν ὑποδύνειν οὐκ ἐθελήσεις, σὺ δὲ πάντως στράτευμα ἀνάξεις ἐπὶ τὴν Ἑλλάδα, ἀκούσεσθαί τινά φημι τῶν αὐτοῦ τῇδε ὑπολειπομένων Μαρδόνιον, μέγα τι κακὸν ἐξεργασάμενον Πέρσας, ὑπὸ κυνῶν τε καὶ ὀρνίθων διαφορεύμενον ἤ κου ἐν γῇ τῇ Ἀθηναίων ἤ σέ γε ἐν τῇ Λακεδαιμονίων, εἰ μὴ ἄρα καὶ πρότερον κατ’ ὁδόν, γνόντα ἐπ᾽ οἵους ἄνδρας ἀναγινώσκεις στρατεύεσθαι βασιλέα.
(Herodotus, Hist. 7.10ζ-θ)

So that is my advice to you, my lord. As for you, son of Gobryas, you should stop making rude and defamatory remarks about the Greeks when they don’t deserve them. By disparaging the Greeks you encourage the king to march against them; in fact, I think that is exactly what all this effort of yours is for. But I hope this campaign never materializes. Slander is a truly terrible thing, because it involves two men ganging up to wrong a single victim. The one who casts the aspersions does wrong by accusing someone in his absence, and the other person does wrong by believing the lie before he has found out the truth. Meanwhile, the person who is missing from the discussion is the victim of the situation in the sense that he has been defamed by the one person and has acquired a bad reputation in the other one’s mind. However, if there is absolutely no help for it and we must make war on these Greeks, then consider this proposal, Mardonius. While the king stays here in Persia, in his homeland, you pick your men, take an army of any size you want, and lead the expedition. Let each of us gamble the lives of our children on the outcome. If matters turn out as you say they will for the king, let my children be put to death, and I will join them; but if things turn out as I am predicting, let your children suffer that fate, and you too, if you make it back home. If you aren’t prepared to run this risk, but are still determined to take the army overseas to Greece, I can tell you what news of Mardonius will reach the ears of those who stay behind here: they will be told that Mardonius was the cause of a great disaster for Persia, and that you were then torn apart by dogs and birds somewhere in Athenian territory or somewhere in Lacedaemon—that is, if this doesn’t happen earlier, on the way there. Then you will know what kind of men you are trying to persuade the king to attack.’ (tr. Robin Waterfield)

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