Thucydides’ History Book 2: The Funeral Oration

Chapter 43

These men arose fittingly to this city ; and the rest must pray to be on surer footing, and not to be any more un-daring and resolve to have heart for battles, and consider aid not in word alone, should anyone speak at length to you what you know no worse, saying as much good as there is in fending off enemies, but more by daily deed beholding the power of the city and becoming its lover and, when it is esteemed by you to be great, taking to heart that men acquired it by being bold and by knowing what they lacked and by keeping their honour intact in the deed, and even when they were thrown down in any trial, they did not therefore deem it worthy to deprive the city of their own virtue, but sent forth to her his finest share. For having given their bodies for the common good, they received individually the ageless commendation of the most distinguished burial, not more by the way in which they lie, but by the way in which for every opportunity of word and of deed, their reputation is eternally remembered. For the whole earth is a tomb of illustrious men, and not only do inscriptions on stone slabs  mark them in their homeland, but also in the far-off land, dwelling with each man is an unwritten memorial of resolve more than of deed. Vying now with these men and judging that good fortune is freedom, and that the stout-hearted man is free, do not watch the risks of war from the sidelines. For men who have fared poorly in life would not more righteously be lavish with their life, should they have yet hope of good, than those for whom a change to the contrary is risked by living, in whom there are the greatest and most vital matters (at stake), should they stumble in some way. For more grievous to the man who is courageous is the ill-treatment in being a coward [in any dealing] than the death that comes unseen amidst strength and shared hope.

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