Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF BROTHERLY LOVE. - The Morals, vol. 3
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OF BROTHERLY LOVE. - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 3 
Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 3.
Part of: Plutarch’s Morals, 5 vols.
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OF BROTHERLY LOVE.
1.The ancient statues of Castor and Pollux are called by the Spartans Docana; and they are two pieces of wood one over against the other joined with two other cross ends, and the community and undividedness of this consecrated representation seems to resemble the fraternal love of these two Gods. In like manner do I devote this discourse of Brotherly Love to you, Nigrinus and Quintus, as a gift in common betwixt you both, who well deserve it. For as to the things it advises to, you will, while you already practise them, seem rather to give your testimonies to them than to be exhorted by them. And the satisfaction you have from well-doing will give the more firm durance to your judgment, when you shall find yourselves approved by wise and judicious spectators. Aristarchus the father of Theodectes said indeed once, by way of flout of the Sophists, that formerly there were scarce seven Sophists to be found, but that in his time there could hardly be found so many who were not Sophists. But I see brotherly love is as scarce in our days as brotherly hatred was in ancient times, the instances of which have been publicly exposed in tragedies and public shows for their strangeness. But all in our times, when they have fortuned to have good brothers, do no less admire them than the famed Molionidae, that are supposed to have been born with their bodies joined with each other. And to enjoy in common their fathers’ wealth, friends, and slaves is looked upon as incredible and prodigious, as if one soul should make use of the hands, feet, and eyes of two bodies.
2. And Nature hath given us very near examples of the use of brothers, by contriving most of the necessary parts of our bodies double, as it were, brothers and twins, — as hands, feet, eyes, ears, nostrils, — thereby telling us that all these were thus distinguished for mutual benefit and assistance, and not for variance and discord. And when she parted the very hands into many and unequal fingers, she made them thereby the most curious and artificial of all our members; insomuch that the ancient philosopher Anaxagoras assigned the hands for the reason of all human knowledge and discretion. But the contrary to this seems the truth. For it is not man’s having hands that makes him the wisest animal, but his being naturally reasonable and capable of art was the reason why such organs were conferred upon him. And this also is most manifest to every one, that the reason why Nature out of one seed and source formed two, three, and more brethren was not for difference and opposition, but that their being apart might render them the more capable of assisting one another. For those that were treble-bodied and hundred-handed, if any such there were, while they had all their members joined to each other, could do nothing without them or apart, as brothers can who can live together and travel, undertake public employments and practise husbandry, by one another’s help, if they preserve but that principle of benevolence and concord that Nature hath bestowed upon them. But if they do not, they will not at all differ in my opinion from feet that trip up one another, and fingers that are unnaturally writhen and distorted by one another. Yea, rather, as things moist and dry, cold and hot, partake of one nature in the same body, and by their consent and agreement engender the best and most pleasant temperament and harmony, — without which (they say) there is neither satisfaction nor benefit in either riches or kingship itself, which renders man equal to Gods, — but if excess and discord befall them, they miserably ruinate and confourd the animal; so, where there is an unanimous accordance amongst brothers, the family thrives and flourishes, and friends and acquaintance, like a well furnished choir, in all their actions, words, and thoughts maintain a delightful harmony.
But jarring feuds advance the worst of men,
such as a vile ill-tongued slave at home, an insinuating parasite abroad, or some other envious person. For as diseases in bodies nauseating their ordinary diet incline the appetite to every improper and noxious thing; so calumny freely entertained against relations, and through prejudging credulity enhanced into suspicion, occasions an adopting the pernicious acquaintance of such as are ready enough to crowd into the room of their betters.
3. The Arcadian prophet in Herodotus was forced to supply the loss of one of his feet with an artificial one made of wood. But he who in a difference throws off his brother, and out of places of common resort takes a stranger for his comrade, seems to do no less than wilfully to mangle off a part of himself, attempting to repair the barbarous breach by the unnatural application of an extraneous member. For the ordinary inclinations and desires of men, being after some sort of society or other, sufficiently admonish them to set the highest value upon relations, to pay them all becoming respects, and to have a tender regard for their persons, nothing being more irksome to nature than to live in that destitution and solitude that denies them the happiness of a friend and the privilege of communication. Well therefore was that of Menander:
For a great deal of friendship in the world is really no better and no more than the mere imitation and resemblance of that first affection that Nature wrought in parents towards their children, and in their children towards one another. And whoever has not a particular esteem and regard for this kind of friendship, I know no reason any one has to credit his kindest pretensions. For what shall we make of that man who in his complaisance, either in company or in his letters, salutes his friend by the name of brother, and yet scorns the company of that very brother whose name was so serviceable to him in his compliment? For, as it is the part of a madman to adorn and set out the effigies of his brother, and in the mean time to abuse, beat, and maim his person; so, to value and honor the name in others but to hate and shun the brother himself is likewise an action of one that is not so well in his wits as he should be, and that never yet considered that Nature is a most sacred thing.
4. I remember, when I was at Rome, I undertook an umpirage between two brothers. The one pretended to the study of philosophy, but (as it appeared by the event) with as little reason as to the relation of a brother. For, when I advised him that now was the time for him to show his philosophy, in the prudent managery and government of himself, whilst he was to treat with so dear a relation as a brother, and such a one especially as wanted those advantages of knowledge and education that he had; Your counsel, replied my philosopher, may do well with some illiterate novice or other; but, for my part, I see no such great matter in that which you so gravely allege, our being the issue of the same parents. True, I answered, you declare evidently enough that you make no account of your affinity. But, by your favor, Mr. Philosopher, all of your profession that I ever was acquainted with, whatever their private opinions were, affirm both in their prose and poetry that, next to the Gods and the laws, her conservators and guardians, Nature had assigned to parents the highest honor and veneration. And there is nothing that men can perform more grateful to the Gods, than freely and constantly to pay their utmost acknowledgments and thanks to their parents, and those from whom they received their nurture and education; as, on the other hand, there is no greater argument of a profane and impious spirit than a contemptuous and surly behavior towards them. We are therefore enjoined to take heed of doing any one wrong. But he that demeans not himself with that exactness before his parents that all his actions may afford them a pleasure and satisfaction, though he give them no other distaste, is sure to undergo a very hard censure. Now what can more effectually express the gratitude of children to their parents, or what actions or dispositions in their children can be more delightful and rejoicing, than firm love and amity amongst them?
5. And this may be understood by lesser instances. For, if parents will be displeased when an old servant that has been favored by them shall be reproached and flouted at by the children, or if the plants and the fields wherein they took pleasure be neglected, if the forgetting a dog or a beloved horse fret their humorsome age (that is very apt to be jealous of the love and obedience of their children), if, lastly, when they disaffect and despise those recreations that are pleasing to the eye and ear, or those juvenile exercises and games which they themselves formerly delighted in, — if at any of all these things the parents will be angry and offended, — how will they endure such discord as inflames their children with mutual malice and hatred, fills their mouths with opprobrious and execrating language, and works them into such an inveteracy that the contrary and spiteful method of their actions declares a drift and design of ruining one another? If, I say, those smaller matters provoke their anger, how will all the rest be resented? Who can resolve me? But, on the other hand, where the love of brothers is such that they make up that distance Nature has placed them at (in respect of their different bodies) by united affections, insomuch that their studies and recreations, their earnest and their jest, keep true time and agree exactly together, such a pleasing consort amongst their children proves a nursing melody to the decayed parents to preserve and maintain their quiet and peace in their old (though tender) age. For never was any father so intent upon oratory, ambitious of honor, or craving after riches, as fond of his children. Wherefore neither is it so great a satisfaction to hear them speak well, find them grow wealthy, or see them honored with the power of magistracy, as to be endeared to each other in mutual affection. Wherefore it is reported of Apollonis of Cyzicum, mother of King Eumenes and three other sons, Attalus, Philetaerus, and Athenaeus, that she always accounted herself happy and gave the Gods thanks, not so much for wealth or empire, as because she saw her three sons guarding the eldest, and him reigning securely among his armed brothers. And on the contrary, Artaxerxes, understanding that his son Ochus had laid a plot against his brothers, died with sorrow at the surprise. For the quarrels of brothers are pernicious, saith Euripides, but most of all to the parents themselves. For he that hates and plagues his brother can hardly forbear blaming the father who begot and the mother who bare him.
6. Wherefore Pisistratus, being about to marry again, his sons being grown up to a mature age, gave them their deserved character of praise, together with the reason of his designs for a second marriage, — that he might be the happy father of more such children. Now those who are truly ingenious do not only love one another the more entirely for the sake of their common parents, but they love their very parents for the sake of one another; always owning themselves bound to their parents especially for the mutual happiness that they enjoy in each other, and looking upon their brethren as the dearest and the most valuable treasure they could have received from their parents. And thus Homer elegantly expresses Telemachus bewailing the want of a brother:
But I like not Hesiod’s judgment so well, who is all for a single son’s inheriting. Not so well (I say) from Hesiod, a pupil of the Muses, who being endeared sisters kept always together, and therefore from that inseparate union (ὁμοῦ οὖσαι) were called Muses. To parents therefore the love of brothers is a plain argument of their children’s love to themselves. And to the children of the brothers themselves it is the best of precedents, and that which affords the most effectual advice that can be thought of; as again, they will be forward enough in following the worst of their parents’ humors and inheriting their animosities. But for one who has led his relations a contentious life, and quarrelled himself up into wrinkles and gray hairs, — for such a one to begin a lecture of love to his children is just like him
In a word, his own actions weaken and confute all the arguments of his best counsel. Take Eteocles of Thebes reflecting upon his brother and flying out after this manner:
Suppose, I say, out of this rage, he had presently fallen into the softer strain of good advice to his children, charging them thus:
who is there that would not have despised him? Or what would you have thought of Atreus, after he had treated his brother at a barbarous supper, to hear him afterwards thus instructing his children:
7. It is therefore very needful to throw off those ill dispositions, as being very grievous and troublesome to their parents, and more destructive to children in respect of the ill example. Besides, it occasions many strange censures and much obloquy amongst men. For they will not be apt to imagine that so near and intimate relations as brothers, that have eaten of the same bread and all along participated of the same common maintenance, and who have conversed so familiarly together, should break out into contention, except they were conscious to themselves of a great deal of naughtiness. For it must be some great matter that violates the bonds of natural affection; whence it is that such breaches are so hardly healed up again. For, as those things which are joined together by art, being parted, may by the same art be compacted again, but if there be a fracture in a natural body, there is much difficulty in setting and uniting the broken parts; so, if friendships that through a long tract of time have been firmly and closely contracted come once to be violated, no endeavors will bring them together any more. And brothers, when they have once broke natural affection, are hardly made true friends again; or, if there be some kind of peace made betwixt them, it is like to prove but superficial only, and such as carries a filthy festering scar along with it. Now all enmity between man and man which is attended with these perturbations of quarrelsomeness, passion, envy, recording of an injury, must needs be troublesome and vexatious; but that which is harbored against a brother, with whom they communicate in sacrifices and other religious rites of their parents, with whom they have the same common charnel-house and the same or a near habitation, is much more to be lamented, — especially if we reflect upon the horrid madness of some brothers, in being so prejudiced against their own flesh and blood, that his face and person once so welcome and familiar, his voice all along from his childhood as well beloved as known, should on a sudden become so very detestable. How loudly does this reproach their ill-nature and savage dispositions, that, whilst they behold other brethren lovingly conversing in the same house and dieting together at the same table, managing the same estate and attended by the same servants, they alone divide friends, choose contrary acquaintance, resolving to abandon every thing that their brother may approve of? Now it is obvious to any to understand, that new friends and companions may be compassed and new kindred may come in when the old, like decayed weapons and worn-out utensils, are lost and gone. But there is no more regaining of a lost brother, than of a hand that is cut off or an eye that is beaten out. The Persian woman therefore spake truth, when she preferred the saving her brother’s life before her very children’s, alleging that she was in a possibility of having more children if she should be deprived of those she had, but, her parents being dead, she could hope for no more brothers after him.*
8. You will ask me then, What shall a man do with an untoward brother? I answer, every kind and degree of friendship is subject to abuse from the persons, and in that respect has its taint, according to that of Sophocles:
For, if you examine the love of relations, the love of associates, or the more sensual passion of fond lovers, you will find none of them all clear, pure, and free from all faults. Wherefore the Spartan, when he married a little wife, said that of evils he had to choose the least. But brothers would do well to bear with one another’s familiar failings, rather than to adventure upon the trial of strangers. For as the former is blameless because it is necessary, so the other is blameworthy because it is voluntary. For it is not to be expected that a sociable guest or a wild crony should be bound by the same
Chains of respect, forged by no human hand,
as one who was nourished from the same breast and carries the same blood in his veins. And therefore it would become a virtuous mind to make a favorable construction of his brother’s miscarriages, and to bespeak him with this candor:
whether debauched with vice or eclipsed with ignorance, for fear my inadvertency to some failing that naturally descends upon you from one of our parents should make me too severe against you. For, as Theophrastus said, as to strangers, judgment must rule affection rather than affection prescribe to judgment; but where nature denies judgment this prerogative, and will not wait for the bushel of salt (as the proverb has it) to be eaten, but has already infused and begun in us the principle of love, there we should not be too rigid and exact in the examining of faults. Now what would you think of men when they can easily dispense with and smile at the sociable vices of their acquaintance, and in the mean time be so implacably incensed with the irregularities of a brother? Or when fierce dogs, horses, wolves, cats, apes, lions, are so much their favorites that they feed and delight in them, and yet cannot stomach only their brother’s passion, ignorance, or ambition? Or of others who have made away their houses and lands to harlots, and quarrelled with their brothers only about the floor or corner of the house? Nay, further, such a prejudice have they to them, that they justify the hating them from the rule of hating every ill thing, maliciously accounting them as such; and they go up and down cursing and reproaching their brothers for their vices, while they are never offended or discontented therewith in others, but are willing enough daily to frequent and haunt their company.
9. And this may serve for the beginning of my discourse. I shall enter upon my instructions not as others do, with the distribution of the parents’ goods, but with advice rather to avoid envious strifes and emulation whilst the parents are living. Agesilaus was punished with a mulct by the Lacedaemonian council for sending every one of the ancient men an ox as a reward of his fortitude; the reason they gave for their distaste was, that by this means he won too much upon the people, and made the commonalty become wholly serviceable to his own private interest. Now I would persuade the son to show all possible honor and reverence to his parents, but not with that greedy design of engrossing all their love to himself, — of which too many have been guilty, working their brethren out of favor, on purpose to make way for their own interest, — a fault which they are apt to palliate with specious, but unjust pretences. For they deprive and cheat their brethren out of the greatest and most valuable good they are capable of receiving from their parents, viz., their kindness and affection, whilst they slyly and disingenuously steal in upon them in their business, and surprise them in their errors, demeaning themselves with all imaginable observance to their parents, and especially with the greatest care and preciseness in those things wherein they see their brethren have been faulty or suspected to be so. But a kind brother, and one that truly deserves the name, will make his brother’s condition his own, freely take upon himself a share of his sufferings, particularly in the anger of his parents, and be ready to do any thing that may conduce to the restoring him into favor; but if he has neglected some opportunity or something which ought to have been done by him, to excuse it upon his nature, as being more ready and seriously disposed for other things. That of Agamemnon therefore was well spoken in the behalf of his brother:
and he says that this charge was delivered him by his brother. Fathers willingly allow of the changing of names and have an inclination to believe their children when they make the best interpretation of their brother’s failings, — as when they call carelessness simple honesty, or stupidity goodness, or, if he be quarrelsome, term him a smart-spirited youth and one that will not endure to be trampled on. By this means it comes to pass, that he who makes his brother’s peace and ingratiates him with his offended father at the same time fairly advances his own interest, and grows deservedly the more in favor.
10. But when the storm is once over, it is necessary to be serious with him, to reprehend him sharply for his crime, discovering to him with all freedom wherein he has been wanting in his duty. For as such guilty brothers are not to be allowed in their faults, neither are they to be insulted with raillery. For to do the latter were to rejoice and find advantage in their failings, and to do the former were to take part in them. Therefore ought they so to manage their severities that they may show a solicitude and concernedness for their brethren and much discomposure and trouble at their follies. Now he is the fittest person to school his brother smartly who has been a ready and earnest advocate in his behalf. But suppose the brother wrongfully charged, it is fitting he should be obsequious to his parents in all other things whatsoever, and to bear with their angry humors; but a defence made before them for a brother that suffers by slander and false accusation is unreprovable and very good. In all such there is no need to fear that check in Sophocles,
Curst son! who with thy father durst contend;*
for there is allowed a liberty of vindicating a traduced brother. And where the parents are convinced of their injury, in cases of this kind defeat is more pleasant to them than victory.
11. But when the father is dead, it is fitting brothers should close the nearer in affection; immediately in their sadness and sorrow communicating their mutual love, and, in the next place, rejecting the suspicious stories and suggestions of servants, discountenancing their sly methods and subtle applications, and amongst other stories, adverting to the fable of Jupiter’s sons, Castor and Pollux, whose love to one another was such that Pollux, when one was whispering to him somewhat against his brother, killed him with a blow of his fist. And when they come to dividing their parents’ goods, let them take heed that they come not with prejudice and contentious resolutions, giving defiance and shouting the warcry, as so many do. But let them observe with caution that day above all others, as it may be to them the beginning either of mortal enmity or of friendship and concord. And then, either amongst themselves, or, if need be, in the presence of some common and indifferent friend, let them deal fairly and openly, allowing Justice (as Plato says) to draw the lot, giving and receiving what may consist with love and friendship. Thus they will appear to be sharers only in the care and disposal of these things, whilst the propriety and enjoyment is free and common to them all. But they that take an advantage in the controversy, and seize from one another nurses and children who have been fostered and brought up with them, prevailing by their eagerness, may perhaps go away with the gain of a single slave, but they have forfeited in the stead of it the best legacy their parents could have left them, the love and confidence of their brothers. I have known some brothers, without the instigation of lucre, and merely out of a savage disposition, fly upon the goods of their deceased parents with as much ravine and fierceness as they would upon the spoil of an enemy. Such were the actions of Charicles and Antiochus the Opuntians, who divided a silver cup and a garment in two pieces, as though by some tragical imprecation they had been set on
To share the patrimony with a sword.*
Others I have known proclaiming the success of their subtle methods of fierce and eager and sometimes sly and fallacious reasonings, by which means they have compassed larger proportion from their deluded brethren. Whereas their just actions and their kind and humble carriage had less reproached their pride, but raised the esteem of their persons. Wherefore that action of Athenodorus is very memorable, and indeed generally remembered by our countrymen. His elder brother Xeno in the time of his guardianship had wasted a great part of his substance, and at last was condemned for a rape, and all that was left was confiscated. Athenodorus was then but a youth; but when his share of the estate was given to him, he had that regard to his brother, that he brought all his own proportion and freely exposed it to a new division with him. And though in the dividing it he suffered great abuse from him, he resented it not so much as to repent of what he had done, but endured with most remarkable meekness and unconcerned ease his brother’s outrage, that was become notorious throughout all Greece.
12. Solon discoursing about the commonwealth approved of equality, as being that which would occasion no tumult or faction. But this opinion appeared too popular; for by this arithmetical method he would have set up democracy in the room of a far happier government, consisting with a more suitable (viz., a geometrical) proportion. But he that advises brethren in the dividing of an estate should give them Plato’s counsel to the citizens, that they would lay aside self-interest, or, if they cannot be persuaded to that, to be satisfied with an equal division. And this is the way to lay a good and lasting foundation of love and peace betwixt them. Besides that, he may have the advantage of naming eminent instances. Such was that of Pittacus, who, being asked of the Lydian king whether he had any estate, replied that he had twice as much as he wanted, his brother being dead. But since that not only in the affluence or want of riches he that has a less share is liable to hostility with him that has more, but generally, as Plato says, in all inequality there is inquietude and disturbance, and in the contrary a during confidence; so a disparity among brethren tends dangerously to discord. But for them to be equal in all respects, I grant, is impossible. For what through the difference that nature made immediately betwixt them at the first, and what through the following contingencies of their lives, it comes to pass that they contract an envy and hatred against one another, and such abominable humors as render them the plagues not only of their private families but even of commonwealths. And this indeed is a disease which it were well to prevent, or to cure when it is engendered. I would persuade that brother therefore that excels his fellows in any accomplishments, in those very things to communicate and impart to them the utmost he can, that they may shine in his honor, and flourish with his interest. For instance, if he be a good orator, to endeavor to make that faculty theirs, accounting it never the less for being imparted. And care ought to be taken that all this kindness be not followed with a fastidious pride, but rather with such a becoming condescension and familiarity as may secure his worth from envy, and by his own equanimity and sweet disposition, as far as is possible, make up the inequality of their fortunes. Lucullus refused the honor of magistracy on purpose to give way to his younger brother, contentedly waiting for the expiration of his year. Pollux chose rather to be half a deity with his brother than a deity by himself, and therefore to debase himself into a share of mortality, that he might raise his brother as much above it. You then are a happy man, one would think, that can oblige your brother at a cheaper rate, illustrate him with the honor of your virtues, and make him great like yourself, without any damage or derogation. Thus Plato made his brothers famous by mentioning them in the choicest of his books, — Glauco and Adimantus in that concerning the Commonwealth, and Antipho his youngest brother in his Parmenides.
13. Besides, as there is difference in the natures and fortunes of brothers, so neither is it possible that the one should excel the other in every particular thing. The elements exist out of one common matter, yet they are qualified with quite contrary faculties. No one ever saw two brothers by the same father and mother so strangely distinguished that, whereas the one was a Stoic and withal a wise man, — a comely, pleasant, liberal, eminent, wealthy, eloquent, studious, courteous man, — the other was quite contrary to all these. But, however, the vilest, the most despicable things have some proportion of good, or natural disposition to it.
Now therefore, he who has the eminency in other things, if he yet do not hinder nor stifle the credit of what is laudable in his brother, like an ambitious antagonist that grasps at all the applause, but if he rather yield to him, and declare that in many things he excels him, by this means takes away all occasion of envy, which being like fire without fuel, must needs die without it. Or rather he prevents the very beginnings of envy, and suffers it not so much as to kindle betwixt them. But he who, where he knows himself far superior to his brother, calls for his help and advice, whether it be in the business of a rhetorician, a magistrate, or a friend, — in a word, he that neglects or leaves him out in no honorable employment or concern, but joins him with himself in all his noble and worthy actions, employs him when present, waits for him when absent, and makes the world take notice that he is as fit for business as himself, but of a more modest and yielding disposition, — all this while has done himself no wrong, and has bravely advanced his brother.
14. And this is the advice one would offer to the excelling brother. The other should consider that, as his brother excels him in wealth, learning, esteem, he must expect to come behind not him only but millions more,
Who live o’ th’ offsprings of the spacious earth.
But if he envies all that are so happy, or is the only one in the world that repines at his own brother’s felicity, his malicious temper speaks him one of the most wretched creatures in the world. Wherefore, as Metellus’s opinion was, that the Romans were bound to thank the Gods that Scipio, being such a brave man, was not born in another city; so he who aspires after great things, if he miss of his designs for himself, can do no less than entitle his brother to his best wishes. But some are so unlucky in estimating of virtuous and worthy actions that, whereas they are overjoyed to see their friends grow in esteem, and are not a little proud of entertaining persons of honor or great opulency, their brother’s worth and eminency is in the mean time looked upon with a jealous eye, as though it threatened to cloud and eclipse the splendor of their condition. How do they exalt themselves at the memory of some prosperous exploits of their father, or the wise conduct of their great-grandfather, by all which they are nothing advantaged? But again, how are they daunted and dispirited to see a brother preferred to inheritances, dignities, or honorable marriage? But we should not envy any one; but if this cannot be, we ought at least to turn our malice and rancor out of the family against worse objects, in imitation of those who ease the city of sedition by turning the same upon their enemies without. We may say, as Diomedes said to Glaucus:
15. Brothers should not be like the scales of a balance, the one rising upon the other’s sinking; but rather like numbers in arithmetic, the lesser and greater mutually helping and improving each other. For that finger which is not active in writing or touching musical instruments is not inferior to those that can do both; but they all move and act, one as well as another, and are assistant to each other, which makes the inequality among them seem designed by Nature, when the greatest cannot be without the help of the least that is placed in opposition to it. Thus Craterus and Perilaus, brothers to kings Antigonus and Cassander, betook themselves, the one to managing of military, the other of his domestic affairs. On the other hand, the men like Antiochus, Seleucus, Grypus, and Cyzicenus, disdaining any meaner things than purple and diadems, brought a great deal of trouble and mischief upon one another, and made Greece itself miserable with their quarrels. But in regard that men of ambitious inclinations will be apt to envy those who have got the start of them in honor, I judge it most convenient for brothers to take different methods in pursuit of it, rather than to vex and emulate one another in the same way. Those beasts fight and war one with another who feed in one pasture, and wrestlers are antagonists when they strive in the same game. But those that pretend to different games are the greatest friends, and ready to take one another’s parts with the utmost of their skill and power. So the two sons of Tyndarus, Castor and Pollux, carried the day, — Pollux at cuffs, and Castor at racing. Thus Homer brings in Teucer as expert in the bow, whom his brother Ajax, who was best in close fight,
Protected over with a glittering shield.*
And amongst those who are concerned in the Common wealth a general of an army does not much envy the leaders of the people, nor among those that profess rhetoric do the lawyers envy the sophisters, nor amongst the physicians do those who prescribe rules for diet envy the chirurgeon; but they mutually aid and assert the credit of one another. But for brothers to study to be eminent in the same art and faculty is all the same, amongst ill men, as if rival lovers, courting one and the same mistress, should both strive to gain the greatest interest in her affections. Those indeed that travel different ways can probably do one another but little good; but those who carry on quite different designs, and take several methods in their conversations, avoid envy, and many times do one another a kindness. As Demosthenes and Chares, and again Aeschines and Eubulus, Hyperides and Leosthenes, the one treating the people with their discourses and writings, the others assisting them by action and conduct. Therefore, where the disposition of brothers is such that they cannot agree in prosecuting the same methods of becoming great, it is convenient that one of them should so command himself as to assume the most different inclinations and designs from his brother; that, if they both aim at honor, they may serve their ambition by different means, and that they may cheerfully congratulate each other on the success of their designs, and so enjoy at once their honor and themselves.
16. But, besides this, they must beware of the suggestions of kindred, servants, or even wives, that may work much in a vain-glorious mind. Your brother, say they, is the great man of action, whom the people honor and admire; but nobody comes near or regards you. Now a man that well understood himself would answer, I have indeed a brother that is a plausible man in the world, and the greatest part of his honor I have a right to. For Socrates said that he would rather have Darius for his friend than a Daric. But to a prudent and ingenious brother, it would be as great a satisfaction to see his brother an excellent orator, a person of great wealth or authority, as if he had been any or all these himself. And thus especially may that trouble and discontent, that arises from the great odds that are betwixt brethren, be mitigated. But there are other differences that happen amongst ill-constructed brothers in respect of their age. For, whilst the elder justly claim the privilege of pre-eminence and authority over the younger, they become troublesome and uneasy to them; and the younger, growing pert and refractory, begin to slight and contemn the elder. Hence it is that the younger, looking upon themselves as hated and curbed, decline and stomach their admonitions. The elder again, being fond of superiority, are jealous of their brothers’ advancement, as though it tended to lessen them. Therefore, as we judge of a kindness that it ought to be valued more by the party obliged than by him who bestows it, so, if the elder would be persuaded to set less by his seniority and the younger to esteem it more, there would be no supercilious slighting and contemptuous carriage betwixt them. But, seeing it is fitting the elder should take care of them, lead, and instruct them, and the younger respect, observe, and follow them; it is likewise convenient that the elder’s care should carry more of familiarity in it, and that he should act more by persuasion than command, being readier to express much satisfaction and to applaud his brother when he does well than to reprove and chastise him for his faults. Now the younger’s imitation should be free from such a thing as angry striving. For unprejudiced endeavors in following another speak the esteem of a friend and admirer, the other the envy of an antagonist. Whence it is that those who, out of love to virtue, desire to be like their brother are beloved; but those again who, out of a stomaching ambition, contend to be equal with them meet with answerable usage. But above all other respects due from the younger to the elder, that of observance is most commendable, and occasions the return of a strong affection and equal regard. Such was the obsequious behavior of Cato to his elder brother Caepio all along from their childhood, that, when they came to be men, he had so much overcome him with his humble and excellent disposition, and his meek silence and attentive obedience had begot in him such a reverence towards him, that Caepio neither spake nor did any thing material without him. It is recorded that, when Caepio had sealed some writing of depositions, and his brother coming in was against it, he called for the writing and took off his seal, without so much as asking Cato why he did suspect the testimony. The reverence that Epicurus’s brothers showed him was likewise remarkable, and well merited by his good will and affectionate care for them. They were so especially influenced by him in the way of his philosophy, that they began betimes to entertain a high opinion of his accomplishments, and to declare that there was never a wiser man heard of than Epicurus. If they erred, yet we may here observe the obliging behavior of Epicurus, and the return of their passionate respects to him. And amongst later philosophers, Apollonius the Peripatetic convinced him who said honor was incommunicable, by raising his younger brother Sotion to a higher degree of eminence than himself. Amongst all the good things I am bound to Fortune for, I have that of a kind and affectionate brother Timon, which cannot be unknown to any who have conversed with me, and especially those of my own family.
17. There are yet other disturbances that brothers near the same age ought to be warned of; they are but small indeed at present, but they are frequent and leave a lasting grudge, such as makes them ready upon all occasions to fret and exasperate one another, and conclude at last in implacable hatred and malice. For, having once begun to fall out in their sports, and to differ about little things, like the feeding and fighting of cocks and other fowl, the exercises of children, the hunting of dogs, the racing of horses, it comes to pass that they have no government of themselves in greater matters, nor the power to restrain a proud and contentious humor. So the great men among the Grecians in our time, disagreeing first about players and musicians, afterward about the bath in Aedepsus, and again about rooms of entertainment, from contending and opposing one another about places, and from cutting and turning water-courses, they were grown so fierce and mad against one another, that they were dispossessed of all their goods by a tyrant, reduced to extreme poverty, and put to very hard shifts. In a word, so miserably were they altered from themselves, that there was nothing of the same but their inveterate hatred remaining in them. Wherefore there is no small care to be taken by brothers in subduing their passions and preventing quarrels about small matters, yielding rather for peace’s sake, and taking greater pleasure in indulging than crossing and conquering one another’s humors. For the ancients accounted the Cadmean victory to be no other than that between the brothers at Thebes, esteeming that the worst and basest of victories. But you will say, Are there not some things wherein men of mild and quiet dispositions may have occasion to dissent from others? There are, doubtless; but then they must take care that the main difference be betwixt the things themselves, and that their passions be not too much concerned. But they must rather have a regard to justice, and as soon as they have referred the controversy to arbitrament, immediately discharge their thoughts of it, for fear too much ruminating leave a deep impression of it in the mind, and render it hard to be forgotten. The Pythagoreans were imitable for this, that, though no nearer related than by mere common discipline and education, if at any time in a passion they broke out into opprobrious language, before the sun set they gave one another their hands, and with them a discharge from all injuries, and so with a mutual salutation concluded friends. For as a fever attending an inflamed sore threatens no great danger to the body, but, if the sore being healed the fever stays, it appears then to be a distemper and to have some deeper cause; so, when among brothers upon the ending of a difference all discord ceases betwixt them, it is an argument that the cause lay in the matter of difference only, but, if the discord survive the decision of the controversy, it is plain that the pretended matter served only for a false scar, drawn over on purpose to hide the cause of an incurable wound.
18. It is worth the while at present to hear an account of a dispute between two foreign brothers, not concerning a little patch of land, nor a few servants or cattle, but no less than the kingdom of Persia. When Darius was dead, some were for Ariamenes’s succeeding to the crown as being eldest son; others were for Xerxes, who was born to Darius of Atossa, the daughter of Cyrus, in the time of his reign over Persia. Ariamenes therefore came from Media in no hostile posture, but very peaceably, to hear the matter determined. Xerxes being there used the majesty and power of a king. But when his brother was come, he laid down his crown and other royal ornaments, went and meeting greeted him. And sending him presents, he gave a charge to his servants to deliver them with these words: With these presents your brother Xerxes expresses the honor he has for you; and, if by the judgment and suffrage of the Persians I be declared king, I place you next to myself. Ariamenes replied: I accept your gifts, but presume the kingdom of Persia to be my right. Yet for all my younger brethren I shall have an honor, but for Xerxes in the first place. The day of determining who should reign being come, the Persians made Artabanus brother to Darius judge. Xerxes excepting against him, confiding most in the multitude, his mother Atossa reproved him, saying: Why, son, are you so shy of Artabanus, your uncle, and one of the best men amongst the Persians? And why should you dread the trial, where the worst you can fear is to be next the throne, and to be called the king of Persia’s brother? Xerxes at length submitting, after some debate Artabanus adjudged the kingdom to Xerxes. Ariamenes presently started up, and went and showed obeisance to his brother, and taking him by the hand, placed him in the throne. And from that time, being placed himself by Xerxes next in the kingdom, he continued the same affection to him, insomuch that, for his brother’s honor engaging himself in the naval fight at Salamis, he was killed there. And this may serve for a clear and unquestionable instance of true kindness and greatness of mind.
Antiochus’s restless ambition after a crown was as much to be condemned; but still we may admire this in him, that it did not totally extinguish natural affection and destroy the love of a brother. He went to war with his brother Seleucus for the kingdom, himself being the younger brother, and having the assistance of his mother. In the durance of which war Seleucus joins battle with the Galatians and is defeated; being not heard of for a time, he is supposed to be slain and his whole army to be slaughtered by the enemy. Antiochus, understanding it, put off his purple, went into mourning, caused his palace to be shut up, and retired to lament the death of his brother. But, within a short time after, hearing that his brother was safe and raising new forces, he went and offered sacrifices for joy, and commanded his subjects to do the like and to crown themselves with garlands. But the Athenians, though they made a ridiculous story about a falling out amongst the Deities, compensated for the absurdity pretty well in striking out the second day of their month Boedromion, because upon that day Neptune and Minerva were at variance. And why should not we cancel out of our memories, as an unhappy day and no more to be spoken of, that wherein we have differed with any of our family or relations? But rather, far be it from us that the feuds of that day should bury the memory of all that happier time wherein we were educated and conversed together. For, except nature has bestowed those virtues of meekness and patience upon us in vain and to no purpose, we have certainly the greatest reason to exercise them towards our intimate friends and kindred. Now the acknowledgments of the offender and the begging pardon for the crime express a kind and amicable nature no less than the remitting of it. Wherefore it is not for us to slight the anger of those whom we have incensed through our folly, neither should they be so implacable as to refuse an humble submission; but rather, where we have done the wrong, we should endeavor to prevent a distaste by the earliest and humblest acknowledgments and impetrations of pardon, and where we have received any, to be as ready and free in the forgiving of it. Euclides, Socrates’s auditor, was famous in the schools for his mild return to his raving brother, whom he heard bellow out threats against him after this manner: Let me perish, if I be not revenged on you. He answered: And let me perish, if I do not prevail with you to desist from this passion, and to let us be as good friends as ever we were. This Euclides spake; but what king Eumenes did was an act of meekness seldom to be paralleled, and never yet outdone. For Perseus king of Macedon, being his great enemy, had engaged some persons to attempt the killing him. In order to which barbarous act they lay in wait for him at Delphi, and, when they perceived him going from the sea toward the Oracle, came behind him and set upon him with great stones, wounding him in the head and neck, till reeling with his hurt he fell down and was supposed dead. The rumor of this action dispersed every way, and some friends and servants of his coming to Pergamus, who were the amazed spectators of the supposed murder, brought the news. Whereupon Attalus, Eumenes’s eldest brother, a well-tempered man and one that had showed the greatest affection and respect to his brother, was proclaimed king, and not only assumed the crown, but married his deceased brother’s queen, Stratonica. But intelligence coming a while after that Eumenes was alive and coming home, he presently laid aside the crown, and putting on his usual habiliments, went with the rest of the guard to meet and attend him. Eumenes received him with the most affectionate embrace, and saluted the queen with honorable respect and much endearment. And not long after, at his death, he was so free from passion or jealousy against his brother, that he bequeathed to him both his crown and his queen. The return of Attalus to his brother’s kindness was ingenuous and very remarkable. For after his brother’s death he took no care to advance his own children, though he had many, but provided especially for the education of Eumenes’s son, and when he came to age, placed the crown upon his head, and saluted him with the title of king. But Cambyses, being disturbed only with a dream that his brother was like to reign over Asia, without any enquiry after farther evidence or ground for his jealousy, caused him to be put to death. Whereupon the succession went out of Cyrus’s family into the line of Darius, a prince who understood how to share the management of his affairs and even his regal authority not merely with his brothers, but also with his friends.
19. Again, this rule is to be observed, that, whenever any difference happens betwixt brothers, during the time of strangeness especially they hold a correspondence with one another’s friends, but by all means avoid their enemies. The Cretans are herein very observable; who, being accustomed to frequent skirmishes and fights, nevertheless, as soon as they were attacked by a foreign enemy, were reconciled and went together. And that was it which they commonly called Syncretism. For there are some who, like waters running among loose and chinky grounds, overthrow all familiarity and friendship; enemies to both parties, but especially bent upon the ruining of him whose weakness exposes him most to danger. For every sincere substantial friend joins in affection with one that approves himself such to him. And you shall observe, on the other hand, that the most inveterate and peruicious enemy contributes the poison of his ill-nature to heighten the passion of an angry brother. Therefore as the cat, in Aesop, out of pretended kindness asked the sick hen how she did, and she answered, The better if you were further off; after the same manner one would answer an incendiary that throws in words to breed discord, and to that end pries into things that are not to be spoken of, saying: I have no controversy with my brother nor he with me, if neither of us shall hearken to such sycophants as you are. I cannot understand why — seeing it is commonly held convenient for those who have tender eyes and a weak sight to shun those objects that are apt to make a strong reflection — the rule should not hold good in morals, and why those whom we would imagine sick of the trouble of fraternal quarrels and contentions should rather seem to take pleasure in them, and even seek the company of those who will only excite them the more and make all worse. How much more prudential a course would they take in avoiding the enemies of their offended brethren, and rather conversing with their relations and friends or even with their wives, and discovering their grievances to them frankly and with plainness of speech! But some are of that scrupulous opinion, that brothers walking together must not suffer a stone to lie in the way betwixt them, and are very much concerned if a dog happen to run betwixt them; and many such things, being looked upon as ominous, discompose and terrify them. Whereas none of them all any way tends to the breaking of friendship or the causing of dissension; but they are not in the least aware that men of snarling dispositions, base detractors, and instigators of mischief, whom they improvidently admit into their society, are the things that do them the greatest hurt.
20. Therefore (this discourse suggesting one thing after another) Theophrastus said well: If there ought to be all things common amongst friends, why should not the best of those things, their friends themselves, be communicated? And this is advice that cannot be too soon tendered to brethren, for their separate acquaintance and conversation conduce to the estranging them from one another. For those who affect divers friends will be apt to delight in them so much as to emulate them, and will therefore be easily drawn and persuaded by them; for friendships have their distinctive marks and manners, and there is no greater argument of a different genius and disposition than the choice of different friends. Wherefore neither the common table nor the common recreations nor any other sort of intimacy comprehends so much of amity betwixt brothers, as to be united in their interest and to have the same common friends and enemies; for ordinary friendship suffers neither calumnies nor clashings, but if there be any anger or discontent, honest and impartial friends make an end of it. For as tin unites and solders up broken brass, being put to the ends and attempered to the nature of the broken pieces; so it is the part of a friend betwixt two brothers, to suit and accommodate himself to the humors of both, that he may confirm and secure their friendship. But those of different and uncomplying tempers are like improper notes in music, that serve only to spoil the consort, and offend the ear with a harsh noise. It is a question therefore whether Hesiod was in the right or not when he said:
Let not thy friend become thy brother’s peer.*
For one of an even behavior, that freely communicates himself between both, may by his interest in both contract a firm and happy tie and engagement of love between brothers. But Hesiod, it seems, spoke of those he suspected, — the greatest part and the worst sort of friends, — men of envious and selfish designs. He is wise who avoids such friends; and if in the mean time he divide his kindness equally between a true friend and a brother, let him do it with this reserve always, that the brother have the preference in magistracy and the management of public affairs, that he have the greater respect shown him in invitations and in contracting acquaintance with great persons, and in any thing that looks honorable and great in the eyes of the people, that the pre-eminence be given to Nature; for in these instances to prefer a friend does him not so much credit as that base and unworthy action of lessening and slighting a brother does the vilifying brother disgrace. But several have given their opinions in this thing. That of Menander is very well,
No one who loves will bear to be contemned.
This may remind brothers to preserve a tender regard to one another, and not to presume that Nature will overcome all their slights and disdain. A horse naturally loves a man, and a dog his master; but, if they are neglected in what is fitting and necessary for them, they will grow strange and unmanageable. The body, that is so intimately united to the soul, if the soul suspend a careful influence from it, will not be forward to assist it in its operations; it may rather spoil and cross them.
21. Now as the kind regards of brother to brother are highly commendable, so may they be expressed to the greater advantage, when he confines them not wholly to his person, but pays them, as occasion serves, rather by reflection to his kindred and such as retain to him; when he maintains a kind and complaisant humor amidst all contingencies, when he obliges the servile part of the family with a courteous and affable carriage, when he is grateful to the physician and good friends for the safe recovery of his brother, and is ready to go upon any expedition or service for him. Again, it is highly commendable in him to have the highest esteem and honor for his brother’s wife, reputing and honoring her as the most sacred of all his brother’s sacred treasures, and thus to do honor to him; condoling with her when she is neglected, and appeasing her when she is angered; if she have a little offended, to intercede and sue for her peace; if there have been any private difference between himself and his brother, to make his complaint before her in order to a reconcilement. But especially let him be much troubled at his brother’s single state; or, if he be married, at his want of children. If not married, let him follow him with arguments and persuasions, to teaze him with rebukes and reproaches, and to do every thing that may incline him to enter into a conjugal state. When he has children, let him express his affection and respects to both parents with the greater ardency. Let him love the children equally with his own, but be more favorable and indulgent to them, that, if it chance that they commit some of their youthful faults, they may not run away and hide themselves among naughty acquaintances through fear of their parents’ anger, but may have in their uncle a recourse and refuge, where they will be admonished lovingly and will find an intercessor to make their excuse and get their pardon. So Plato reclaimed his nephew Speusippus, that was far gone in idleness and debauchery; the young man, impatient of his parents’ reprehensions, ran away from them, who were more impatient of his extravagancies. His uncle expressed nothing of disturbance at all this, but continued calm and free from passion; whereupon Speusippus was seized with an extraordinary shame, and from that time became an admirer of both his uncle and his philosophy. Many of Plato’s friends blamed him that he had not instructed the youth; he made answer, that he instructed him by his life and conversation, from which he might learn, if he pleased, the difference betwixt ill and virtuous actions. The father of Aleuas the Thessalian, looking upon his son as of a fierce and injurious nature, kept him under with a great deal of severity, but his uncle received him with as great kindness. When therefore the Thessalians sent some lots to the oracle at Delphi, to enquire by them who should be their king, his uncle stole in one lot privately in the name of Aleuas; the priestess answered from the oracle, that Aleuas should be king. His father being surprised averred that there was never a lot thrown in for Aleuas that he knew of; at last all concluded that some mistake was committed in putting down the names, whereupon they sent again to enquire of the oracle. The priestess, confirming her first words, answered:
Thus Aleuas was by the oracle, through his uncle’s kind policy, declared king; by which means he surmounted all his ancestors, and advanced his family into a splendid condition. For it is prudence in a brother, when he beholds with joy the brave and worthy actions of his nephews growing great and honorable by their own deserts, to prompt and encourage them on by congratulation and applause. For to praise his own son may be absurd and offensive, but to commend the good actions of a brother’s son, is an excellent thing, and one which proceeds from no self-interest, nor any other principle but a true veneration for virtue. Now the very name of uncle (θεῖος) intimates that mutual beneficence and friendship that ought to be between him and his nephews. Besides this, we have a precedent from those that are of a sublimer make and nature than ourselves. Hercules, who was the father of sixty-eight sons, had a brother’s son that was as dear to him as any of his own; and even to this time Hercules and his nephew Iolaus have in many places one common altar betwixt them, and share in the same adorations. He is called literally Hercules’s assistant. And when his brother Iphicles was slain in a battle at Lacedaemon, in his exceeding grief he left the whole of Peloponnesus. Also Leucothea, her sister being dead, took her infant, nursed him up, and consecrated him with herself among the deities; from whence the Roman matrons, upon the festivals of Leucothea (whom they call also Matuta) have a custom of nursing their sisters’ children instead of their own, during the time of the festival.
[* ]Odyss. XVI. 117.
[† ]Euripides, Frag.1071.
[* ]Eurip. Phoeniss. 504 and 536.
[* ]See Sophocles, Antig. 905-912.
[† ]Odyss. XIII. 331.
[* ]Il. X. 122.
[* ]Soph. Antig. 742.
[* ]Eurip. Phoeniss. 68.
[* ]Il. VI. 227.
[* ]Il. VIII. 272.
[* ]Hesiod, Works and Days, 707