[by Lynn C. Rees]
ex autou de tou ergou catênancasthêmen to prôton proagagin autên es t?de, malista men hypo deous, epita cae timês, hysteron cae ôphelias..
And the nature of the case first compelled us to advance our empire to its present height; fear being our principal motive, though honor and interest afterwards came in.
…and second at 1.76.2…
houtôs oud? hêmis thaumaston ouden pepoeêcamen oud? apo tou anthrôpiou tr?pou, i archên te didomenên edexametha cae tautên mê animen hypo triôn tôn megistôn nicêthentes, timês cae deous cae ôphelias, oud? au prôtoe tou toeoutou hyparxantes, all? aei cathestôtos ton hêssô hypo tou dynatôterou catirgesthae, axioe te hama nomizontes inae cae hymin docountes mechri hou ta xympheronta logiz?menoe tôi dicaeôi l?gôi nyn chrêsthe, hon oudis pô paratychon ischui ti ctêsasthae prothis tou mê pleon echin apetrapeto.
It follows that it was not a very wonderful action, or contrary to the common practice of mankind, if we did accept an empire that was offered to us, and refused to give it up under the pressure of three of the strongest motives, fear, honor, and interest. And it was not we who set the example, for it has always been the law that the weaker should be subject to the stronger. Besides, we believed ourselves to be worthy of our position, and so you thought us till now, when calculations of interest have made you take up the cry of justice—a consideration which no one ever yet brought forward to hinder his ambition when he had a chance of gaining anything by might.
There’s a trick found in the distance between 1.75.3 and 1.76.2. E. C. Marchant’s note on 1.75.3 hints at its identity:
In 1.75.3, “fear, honor, and interest” is not an unchanging trinity of human neuroses outside of time but an all too historically grounded sequence of:
- fear: (déous) of the Persian threat triggered by Athens renouncing its 508 BC submission to Persia, heightened by Athenian participation in the sack of Sardis in 498 BC, frustrated in 490 BC at Marathon, and realized in Xerxes‘ 481 BC sack of Athens.
- honor: (times) from abandoning Attica to Xerxes in 480 BC for the common defense, their role in winning at Salamis, re-abandoning Attica in 479 BC just before Plataea, their victory at Mycale that same year, and their later leadership (hegemonía) of resistance to Persia after Sparta went home, a role formalized in the Delian League.
- interest: (óphelos) won by the gradual shift of the Delian League from a voluntary league of military contingents led by Athens to a prison of disarmed and discontented assets owned by Athens.
In 1.76.2, use of the catchphrase is closer in spirit to the use proposed by some users (and even readers) of the History of the Peloponnesian Wars: a fearsome threesome, forever hiding behind every good intent of the heart.
Internet sleuthing of the most amateur kind uncovers other English variations on the catchphrase:
- Google translates the “fear, honor, and interest” as “awe then and price hysteria and benefit” in 1.75.3 and “honor and awe and benefit” in 1.76.2.
- Thomas Hobbes, himself accused of political realism, translated 1.75.3 as…
So that at first we were forced to advance our dominion to what it is, out of the nature of the thing itself; as chiefly for fear, next for honor, and lastly for profit.
…and 1.76.2 as…
So that, though overcome by three the greatest things, honor, fear, and profit, we have both accepted the dominion delivered us and refuse again to surrender it, we have therein done nothing to be wondered at nor beside the manner of men. Nor have we been the first in this kind, but it hath been ever a thing fixed, for the weaker to be kept under by the stronger. Besides, we took the government upon us as esteeming ourselves worthy of the same; and of you also so esteemed, till having computed the commodity, you now fall to allegation of equity; a thing which no man that had the occasion to achieve anything by strength, ever so far preferred as to divert him from his profit
The Attic translated as “interest” by Crawley and “profit” by Hobbes, óphelos, can be read in ways both interesting and profitable. Perseus translates óphelos as “help, aid, succor”. Perseus’s online Greek-English Lexicon (published in 1940) lists a few possible meanings of óphelos:
A. help, aid, succor, esp[ecially]. in war
II. profit, advantage
2. source of gain or profit, service
3. esp. gain made in war, spoil, booty
1 1 Tí o?n tò perissòn to? Ioudaíou, ? tís h? ophéleia t?s peritom?s?
What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision
NASB translates Romans 3:1 as:
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision?
Jerome translated Paul into Latin as:
quid ergo amplius est Iudaeo aut quae utilitas circumcisionis
óphelos is also used in Jude 1:16:
ho?toí eisin gongustaí, mempsímoiroi, katà tàs epithumías heautõn poreu?menoi, kaì tò st?ma autõn lale? hupéronka, thaumázontes pr?s?pa ?pheleías khárin.
Jude 1:16 in the KJV:
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
Jude 1:16 in the NASB:
These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
Jude 1:16 in the Latin of the Vulgate:
hii sunt murmuratores querellosi secundum desideria sua ambulantes et os illorum loquitur superba mirantes personas quaestus causa
óphelos (ófelos) n, plural ophél?
The fear, honor, and profit of heroic cherrypicking.
[Greek characters preserved at The Committee of Public Safety]