In an oft-quoted section of the Melian Dialogue, the envoys of powerful
Athens attempt to persuade the commissioners of the tiny island of Melos
that an alliance is in the latter’s best interest. Facing inevitable Athenian
subjugation, the Melians state:
Then surely, if such hazards are taken by you to keep your empire and
by your subjects to escape from it, we who are still free would show
ourselves great cowards and weaklings if we failed to face everything that comes rather than submit to slavery.