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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1568
AUTHOR: Thucydides (c. 460–c. 400 B.C.)
QUOTATION: Our form of government does not enter into rivalry with the institutions of others. We do not copy our neighbours, but are an example to them. It is true that we are called a democracy, for the administration is in the hands of the many and not of the few. But while the law secures equal justice to all alike in their private disputes, the claim of excellence is also recognised; and when a citizen is in any way distinguished, he is preferred to the public service, not as a matter of privilege, but as the reward of merit. Neither is poverty a bar, but a man may benefit his country whatever be the obscurity of his condition.
ATTRIBUTION: THUCYDIDES, “Funeral Speech of Pericles,” Thucydides, trans. Benjamin Jowett, 2d ed., rev., vol. 1, book 2, section 37, pp. 127–28 (1900).
SUBJECTS: Public service