Saturday, June 04, 2011

Xerxes and Artaboanos on Risk

49. Then he made answer and said: "O king, neither with this army would any one who has understanding find fault, nor with the number of the ships; and indeed if thou shalt assemble more, the two things of which I speak will be made thereby yet more hostile: and these two things are--the land and the sea. For neither in the sea is there, as I suppose, a harbour anywhere large enough to receive this fleet of thine, if a storm should arise, and to ensure the safety of the ships till it be over; and yet not one alone ought this harbour to be, but there should be such harbours along the whole coast of the continent by which thou sailest; and if there are not harbours to receive thy ships, know that accidents will rule men and not men the accidents. Now having told thee of one of the two things, I am about to tell thee of the other. The land, I say, becomes hostile to thee in this way:--if nothing shall come to oppose thee, the land is hostile to thee by so much the more in proportion as thou shalt advance more, ever stealing on further and further, for there is no satiety of good fortune felt by men: and this I say, that with no one to stand against thee the country traversed, growing more and more as time goes on, will produce for thee famine. Man, however, will be in the best condition, if when he is taking counsel he feels fear, reckoning to suffer everything that can possibly come, but in doing the deed he is bold."

50. Xerxes made answer in these words: "Artabanos, reasonably dost thou set forth these matters; but do not thou fear everything nor reckon equally for everything: for if thou shouldest set thyself with regard to all matters which come on at any time, to reckon for everything equally, thou wouldest never perform any deed. It is better to have good courage about everything and to suffer half the evils which threaten, than to have fear beforehand about everything and not to suffer any evil at all: and if, while contending against everything which is said, thou omit to declare the course which is safe, thou dost incur in these matters the reproach of failure equally with him who says the opposite to this. This then, I say, is evenly balanced: but how should one who is but man know the course which is safe? I think, in no way. To those then who choose to act, for the most part gain is wont to come; but to those who reckon for everything and shrink back, it is not much wont to come. Thou seest the power of the Persians, to what great might it has advanced: if then those who came to be kings before me had had opinions like to thine, or, though not having such opinions, had had such counsellors as thou, thou wouldest never have seen it brought forward to this point. As it is however, by running risks they conducted it on to this: for great power is in general gained by running great risks. We therefore, following their example, are making our march now during the fairest season of the year; and after we have subdued all Europe we shall return back home, neither having met with famine anywhere nor having suffered any other thing which is unpleasant. For first we march bearing with us ourselves great store of food, and secondly we shall possess the corn-crops of all the peoples to whose land and nation we come; and we are making a march now against men who plough the soil, and not against nomad tribes."

49. [1] ὃ δ᾽ ἀμείβετο λέγων «ὦ βασιλεῦ, οὔτε στρατὸν τοῦτον, ὅστις γε σύνεσιν ἔχει, μέμφοιτ᾽ ἂν οὔτε τῶν νεῶν τὸ πλῆθος· ἢν δὲ πλεῦνας συλλέξῃς, τὰ δύο τοι τὰ λέγω πολλῷ ἔτι πολεμιώτερα γίνεται. τὰ δὲ δύο ταῦτα ἐστὶ γῆ τε καὶ θάλασσα. [2] οὔτε γὰρ τῆς θαλάσσης ἐστὶ λιμὴν τοσοῦτος οὐδαμόθι, ὡς ἐγὼ εἰκάζω, ὅστις ἐγειρομένου χειμῶνος δεξάμενός σευ τοῦτο τὸ ναυτικὸν φερέγγυος ἔσται διασῶσαι τὰς νέας. καίτοι οὐκὶ ἕνα αὐτὸν δεῖ εἶναι τὸν λιμένα, ἀλλὰ παρὰ πᾶσαν τὴν ἤπειρον παρ᾽ ἣν δὴ κομίζεαι. [3] οὔκων δὴ ἐόντων τοι λιμένων ὑποδεξίων, μάθε ὅτι αἱ συμφοραὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἄρχουσι καὶ οὐκὶ ὥνθρωποι τῶν συμφορέων. καὶ δὴ τῶν δύο τοι τοῦ ἑτέρου εἰρημένου τὸ ἕτερον ἔρχομαι ἐρέων. [4] γῆ δὲ πολεμίη τῇδέ τοι κατίσταται· εἰ θέλει τοι μηδὲν ἀντίξοον καταστῆναι, τοσούτῳ τοι γίνεται πολεμιωτέρη ὅσῳ ἂν προβαίνῃς ἑκαστέρω, τὸ πρόσω αἰεὶ κλεπτόμενος· εὐπρηξίης δὲ οὐκ ἔστι ἀνθρώποισι οὐδεμία πληθώρη. [5] καὶ δή τοι, ὡς οὐδενὸς ἐναντιευμένου, λέγω τὴν χώρην πλεῦνα ἐν πλέονι χρόνῳ γινομένην λιμὸν τέξεσθαι. ἀνὴρ δὲ οὕτω ἂν εἴη ἄριστος, εἰ βουλευόμενος μὲν ἀρρωδέοι, πᾶν ἐπιλεγόμενος πείσεσθαι χρῆμα, ἐν δὲ τῷ ἔργῳ θρασὺς εἴη.»

50. [1] ἀμείβεται Ξέρξης τοῖσιδε. «Ἀρτάβανε, οἰκότως μὲν σύ γε τούτων ἕκαστα διαιρέαι· ἀτὰρ μήτε πάντα φοβέο μήτε πᾶν ὁμοίως ἐπιλέγεο. εἰ γὰρ δὴ βούλοιο ἐπὶ τῷ αἰεὶ ἐπεσφερομένῳ πρήγματι τὸ πᾶν ὁμοίως ἐπιλέγεσθαι, ποιήσειας ἂν οὐδαμὰ οὐδέν· κρέσσον δὲ πάντα θαρσέοντα ἥμισυ τῶν δεινῶν πάσχειν μᾶλλον ἢ πᾶν χρῆμα προδειμαίνοντα μηδαμὰ μηδὲν παθεῖν. [2] εἰ δὲ ἐρίξων πρὸς πᾶν τὸ λεγόμενον μὴ τὸ βέβαιον ἀποδέξεις, σφάλλεσθαι ὀφείλεις ἐν αὐτοῖσι ὁμοίως καὶ ὁ ὑπεναντία τούτοισι λέξας. τοῦτο μέν νυν ἐπ᾽ ἴσης ἔχει· εἰδέναι δὲ ἄνθρωπον ἐόντα κῶς χρὴ τὸ βέβαιον; δοκέω μὲν οὐδαμῶς. τοῖσι τοίνυν βουλομένοισι ποιέειν ὡς τὸ ἐπίπαν φιλέει γίνεσθαι τὰ κέρδεα, τοῖσι δὲ ἐπιλεγομένοισί τε πάντα καὶ ὀκνέουσι οὐ μάλα ἐθέλει. [3] ὁρᾷς τὰ Περσέων πρήγματα ἐς ὃ δυνάμιος προκεχώρηκε. εἰ τοίνυν ἐκεῖνοι οἱ πρὸ ἐμεῦ γενόμενοι βασιλέες γνώμῃσι ἐχρέωντο ὁμοίῃσι καὶ σύ, ἢ μὴ χρεώμενοι γνώμῃσι τοιαύτῃσι ἄλλους συμβούλους εἶχον τοιούτους, οὐκ ἄν κοτε εἶδες αὐτὰ ἐς τοῦτο προελθόντα· νῦν δὲ κινδύνους ἀναρριπτέοντες ἐς τοῦτο σφέα προηγάγοντο. μεγάλα γὰρ πρήγματα μεγάλοισι κινδύνοισι ἐθέλει καταιρέεσθαι. [4] ἡμεῖς τοίνυν ὁμοιεύμενοι ἐκείνοισι ὥρην τε τοῦ ἔτεος καλλίστην πορευόμεθα, καὶ καταστρεψάμενοι πᾶσαν τὴν Εὐρώπην νοστήσομεν ὀπίσω, οὔτε λιμῷ ἐντυχόντες οὐδαμόθι οὔτε ἄλλο ἄχαρι οὐδὲν παθόντες. τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ αὐτοὶ πολλὴν φορβὴν φερόμενοι πορευόμεθα, τοῦτο δέ, τῶν ἄν κου ἐπιβέωμεν γῆν καὶ ἔθνος, τούτων τὸν σῖτον ἕξομεν· ἐπ᾽ ἀροτῆρας δὲ καὶ οὐ νομάδας στρατευόμεθα ἄνδρας.»


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