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2 important points here: a) Sparta often lost, b) Persia was always the Big Boy, and spent much of the Peloponnesian War allowing the two Greek states to wear each other down. Too, Spartans were often incompetent, hesitant, or irrational. No one mentions 8.96.4, 411 BCE, 1/
Sparta might easily have seized a weakened Athens: "Had they dared, they might have, but not not only now did Sparta prove the most convenient of enemies for Athens, but also many other times: complete opposites in character, the one swife and the other slow, the one 2/
enterprising the other without daring, the Spartans were particularly profitable to the naval empire. Syracuse [in Sicily] demonstrated this: most like the Athenians in character, they were also the most successful opponents."
That word "character" is pivotal also for 3/
Odysseus' success: line of of the Odyssey, he's the "man of many characters [or manners]; and "profitable" echoes Athens' embrace of "honor, fear, and profit" in a famous speech in Book 1 (1.75, 76). Thucydides master of the linguistic turn. 4/
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