The Third Philippic(Excerpt)
Many speeches are made, men of Athens, at almost every meeting of the Assembly, with reference to the aggressions which Philip has been committing, ever since he concluded the Peace, not only against yourselves but against all other peoples.
And I am sure that all would agree, however little they may act on their belief, that our aim, both in speech and in action, should be to cause him to cease from his insolence and to pay the penalty for it. And yet I see that in fact the treacherous sacrifice of our interests has gone on, until what seems an ill-omened saying may, I fear, be really true - that if all who came forward desired to propose, and you desired to carry, the measures which would make your position as pitiful as it could possibly be, it could not, so I believe, be made worse than it is now.
It may be that there are many reasons for this, and that our affairs did not reach their present condition from any one or two causes. But if you examine the matter aright, you will find that the chief responsibility rests with those whose aim is to win your favor, not to propose what is best. Some of them, men of Athens, so long as they can maintain the conditions which bring them reputation and influence, take no thought for the future and therefore think that you also should take none, while others, by accusing and slandering those who are actively at work, are simply trying to make the city spend its energies in punishing the members of its own body, and so leave Philip free to say and do what he likes.
Such political methods as these, familiar to you as they are, are the real causes of the evil. And I beg you, men of Athens, if I tell you certain truths outspokenly, to let no resentment on your part fall upon me on this account. Consider the matter in this light. In every other sphere of life, you believe that the right of free speech ought to be so universally shared by all who are in the city, that you have extended it both to foreigners and to slaves; and one may see many a servant in Athens speaking his mind with greater liberty than is granted to citizens in some other states: but from the sphere of political counsel you have utterly banished this liberty.
The result is that in your meetings you give yourselves airs and enjoy their flattery, listening to nothing but what is meant to please you, while in the world of facts and events, you are in the last extremity of peril. If then you are still in this mood to-day, I do not know what I can say; but if you are willing to listen while I tell you, without flattery, what your interest requires, I am prepared to speak. For though our position is very bad indeed, and much has been sacrificed, it is still possible, even now, if you will do your duty, to set all right once more.
It is a strange thing, perhaps, that I am about to say, but it is true. The worst feature in the past is that in which lies our best hope for the future. And what is this? It is that you are in your present plight because you do not do any part of your duty, small or great; for of course, if you were doing all that you should do, and were still in this evil case, you could not even hope for any improvement. As it is, Philip has conquered your indolence and your indifference; but he has not conquered Athens. You have not been vanquished, you have never even stirred.
Now if it was admitted by us all that Philip was at war with Athens, and was transgressing the Peace, a speaker would have to do nothing but to advise you as to the safest and easiest method of resistance to him. But since there are some who are in so extraordinary a frame of mind that, though he is capturing cities, though many of your possessions are in his hands, and though he is committing aggressions against all men, they still tolerate certain speakers, who constantly assert at your meetings that it is some of _us_ who are provoking the war, it is necessary to be on our guard and come to a right understanding on the matter.
For there is a danger lest any one who proposes or advises resistance should find himself accused of having brought about the war. Well, I say this first of all, and lay it down as a principle, that if it is open to us to deliberate whether we should remain at peace or should go to war ...
Now if it is possible for the city to remain at peace, if the decision rests with us that I may make this my starting-point, then I say that we ought to do so, and I call upon any one who says that it is so to move his motion, and to act and not to defraud us. But if another with weapons in his hands and a large force about him holds out to you the name of peace while his own acts are acts of war what course remains open to us but that of resistance?
Though if you wish to profess peace in the same manner as he, I have no quarrel with you. But if any man's conception of peace is that it is a state in which Philip can master all that intervenes till at last he comes to attack ourselves, such a conception, in the first place, is madness; and, in the second place, this peace that he speaks of is a peace which you are to observe towards Philip, while he does not observe it towards you: and this it is, this power to carry on war against you, without being met by any hostilities on your part, that Philip is purchasing with all the money that he is spending.
Indeed, if we intend to wait till the time comes when he admits that he is at war with us, we are surely the most innocent persons in the world. Why, even if he comes to Attica itself, to the very Peiraeus, he will never make such an admission, if we are to judge by his dealings with others.
For, to take one instance, he told the Olynthians, when he was five miles from the city, that there were only two alternatives, either they must cease to live in Olynthus, or he to live in Macedonia: but during the whole time before that, whenever any one accused him of any such sentiments, he was indignant and sent envoys to answer the charge. Again, he marched into the Phocians' country, as though visiting his allies. It was by Phocian envoys that he was escorted on the march; and most people in Athens contended strongly that his crossing the Pass would bring no good to Thebes.
Worse still, he has lately seized Pherae and still holds it, though he went to Thessaly as a friend and an ally. And, latest of all, he told those unhappy citizens of Oreus that he had sent his soldiers to visit them and to make kind inquiries; he had heard that they were sick, and suffering from faction, and it was right for an ally and a true friend to be present at such a time.
Now if, instead of giving them warning and using open force, he deliberately chose to deceive these men, who could have done him no harm, though they might have taken precautions against suffering any themselves, do you imagine that he will make a formal declaration of war upon you before he commences hostilities, and that, so long as you are content to be deceived? Impossible! For so long as you, though you are the injured party, make no complaint against him, but accuse some of your own body, he would be the most fatuous man on earth if he were to interrupt your strife and contentions with one another, to bid you turn upon himself, and so to cut away the ground from the arguments by which his hirelings put you off, when they tell you that he is not at war with Athens.
In God's name, is there a man in his senses who would judge by words, and not by facts, whether another was at peace or at war with him? Of course there is not. Why, from the very first, when the Peace had only just been made, before those who are now in the Chersonese had been sent out, Philip was taking Serrhium and Doriscus, and expelling the soldiers who were in the castle of Serrhium and the Sacred Mountain, where they had been placed by your general. But what was he doing, in acting thus? For he had sworn to a Peace. And let no one ask, What do these things amount to? What do they matter to Athens?
For whether these acts were trifles which could have no interest for you is another matter; but the principles of religion and justice, whether a man transgress them in small things or great, have always the same force. What? When he is sending mercenaries into the Chersonese, which the king and all the Hellenes have acknowledged to be yours; when he openly avows that he is going to the rescue, and states it in his letter, what is it that he is doing?
He tells you, indeed, that he is not making war upon you. But so far am I from admitting that one who acts in this manner is observing the Peace which he made with you, that I hold that in grasping at Megara, in setting up tyrants in Euboea, in advancing against Thrace at the present moment, in pursuing his machinations in the Peloponnese, and in carrying out his entire policy with the help of his army, he is violating the Peace and is making war against you.
Unless you mean to say that even to bring up engines to besiege you is no breach of the Peace, until they are actually planted against your walls. But you will not say this; for the man who is taking the steps and contriving the means which will lead to my capture is at war with me, even though he has not yet thrown a missile or shot an arrow.
Now what are the things which would imperil your safety, if anything should happen? The alienation of the Hellespont, the placing of Megara and Euboea in the power of the enemy, and the attraction of Peloponnesian sympathy to his cause. Can I then say that one who is erecting such engines of war as these against the city is at peace with you?
Far from it! For from the very day when he annihilated the Phocians, from that very day, I say, I date the beginning of his hostilities against you. And for your part, I think that you will be wise if you resist him at once; but that if you let him be, you will find that, when you wish to resist, resistance itself is impossible. Indeed, so widely do I differ, men of Athens, from all your other advisers, that I do not think there is any room for discussion to-day in regard to the Chersonese or Byzantium.