“If it had not been for the pernicious power of envy, men would not so have exalted vengeance above innocence and profit above justice” — Thucydides
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In this quote, ancient Greek historian Thucydides seems to be commenting on some negative human tendencies that can undermine fairness and order in society. He suggests that “envy” – a sense of discontent with others’ success or possessions – leads people to prioritize vengeance and retaliation over showing mercy or acting with compassion.
Additionally, Thucydides implies that the pursuit of profit and self-interest above principles of justice can stem from envy. The quote portrays envy as a “pernicious power” that corrupts human motivations, causing innocence to be punished while the desire for gain is excused.
Overall, Thucydides appears to be advocating that societies function best when people are not driven by envy of others and instead uphold justice and mercy as higher priorities than vengeance or profit-seeking at any cost.