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POLITICAL PRECEPTS. - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 5 
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. 5.
Part of: Plutarch’s Morals, 5 vols.
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1.If ever, O Menemachus, that saying of Nestor’s in Homer,
might pertinently be made use of and applied, it is against those exhorting, but nothing teaching nor any way instructing, philosophers. For they do (in this respect) resemble those who are indeed careful in snuffing the lamps, but negligent in supplying them with oil. Seeing therefore that you, being by reason moved to engage yourself in the affairs of the state, desire, as becomes the nobility of your family,
Both to speak and act heroicly†
in the service of your country, and that, not having attained to such maturity of age as to have observed the life of a wise and philosophical man openly spent in the transactions of the state and public debates, and to have been a spectator of worthy examples represented not in word but in deed, you request me to lay you down some political precepts and instructions; I think it no ways becoming me to give you a denial, but heartily wish that the work may be worthy both of your zeal and my forwardness. Now I have, according to your request, made use in this my discourse of sundry and various examples.
2. First then for the administration of state affairs, let there be laid, as a firm and solid foundation, an intention and purpose, having for its principles judgment and reason, and not any impulse from vain-glory, emulation, or want of other employment. For as those who have nothing grateful to them at home frequently spend their time in the forum, though they have no occasion that requires it; so some men, because they have no business of their own worth employing themselves in, thrust themselves into public affairs, using policy as a divertisement. Many also, having been by chance engaged in the negotiations of the commonweal, and being cloyed with them, cannot yet easily quit them; in which they suffer the same with those who, going on board a ship that they may be there a little tossed, and being after carried away into the deep, send forth many a long look towards the shore, being sea-sick and giddy-headed, and yet necessitated to stay and accommodate themselves to their present fortune.
And these do most of all discredit the matter by their repenting and being discontented, when either hoping for glory they fall into disgrace, or expecting to become formidable to others by their power they are engaged in affairs full of dangers and troubles. But he who on a well grounded principle of reason undertakes to act in the public, as an employ very honorable and most beseeming him, is dismayed by none of these things; nor does he therefore change his opinion. For we must not come to the management of the commonweal on a design of gaining and growing rich by it, as Stratocles and Dromoclides exhorted one another to the golden harvest, — so in mirth terming the tribunal, or place of making harangues to the people, — nor yet as seized with some sudden fit of passion, as did heretofore Caius Gracchus, who having, whilst his brothers’ misfortunes were hot, withdrawn himself to a retired life most remote from public affairs, did afterwards, inflamed by indignation at the injuries and affronts put on him by some persons, thrust himself into the state, where being soon filled with affairs and glory, when he sought to desist and desired change and repose, he could not (so great was it grown) find how to lay down his authority, but perished with it. And as for those who through emulation frame themselves for the public as actors for the stage, they must needs repent of their design, finding themselves under a necessity of either serving those whom they think themselves worthy to govern, or disobliging those whom they desire to please. Now I am of opinion, that those who by chance and without foresight stumble upon policy, falling as it were into a pit, cannot but be troubled and repent; whereas they that go leisurely into it, with preparation and a good resolution, comfort themselves moderately in all occurrences, as having no other end of their actions but the discharging of their duty with honor.
3. Now they that have thus grounded their choice within themselves, and rendered it immovable and difficult to be changed, must set themselves to contemplate that disposition of the citizens which, being compounded (as it were) of all their natures, appears most prevalent among them. For the endeavoring presently to form the manners and change the nature of a people is neither easy nor safe, but a work requiring much time and great authority. But as wine in the beginning is overcome by the nature of the drinker, but afterwards, gently warming him and mixing itself in his veins, assimilates and changes him who drinks it into its own likeness, so must a statesman, till he has by his reputation and credit obtained a leading power amongst the people, accommodate himself to the dispositions of the subjects, knowing how to consider and conjecture those things with which the people are naturally delighted and by which they are usually drawn. The Athenians, to wit, are easily moved to anger, and not difficulty changed to mercy, more willing to suspect quickly than to be informed by leisure; and as they are readier to help mean and inconsiderable persons, so do they embrace and esteem facetious and merry speeches; they are exceedingly delighted with those that praise them, and very little offended with such as jeer them; they are terrible even to their governors, and yet courteous to their very enemies. Far other is the disposition of the Carthaginians, severe, rigid, obsequious to their rulers, harsh to their subjects, most abject in their fear, most cruel in their anger, firm in their resolutions, untractable, and hard to be moved by sportive and pleasant discourse. Should Cleon have requested them to defer their assembly, because he had sacrificed to the Gods and was to feast certain strangers, they would not have risen up, laughing and clapping their hands for joy; nor, if Alcibiades, as he was making an harangue to them, had let slip a quail from under his cloak, would they have striven who should catch her and restore her to him again, but would rather have killed them both on the place, as contemning and deriding them; since they banished Hanno for making use of a lion to carry his baggage to the army, accusing him of affecting tyranny. Neither do I think, that the Thebans, if they had been made masters of their enemies’ letters, would have foreborne looking into them, as did the Athenians, when, having taken the messengers of Philip who were carrying a letter superscribed to Olympias, they would not so much as open it, or discover the conjugal secrets of an absent husband, written to his wife. Nor yet do I believe that the Athenians on the other side would have patiently suffered the haughtiness and disdain of Epaminondas, when, refusing to answer an accusation brought against him, he rose up from the theatre, and went away through the midst of the assembly to the place of public exercises. And much less am I of opinion that the Spartans would have endured the contumely and scurrility of Stratocles, who persuaded the people to offer sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Gods, as having obtained the victory, and afterwards, when, being truly informed of the loss they had received, they were angry with him, asked them what injury they had sustained in having through his means spent three days merrily.
Courtly flatterers indeed, like to quail-catchers, by imitating the voices and assimilating themselves to the manners of kings, chiefly insinuate into their favors and entrap them by deceit; but it is not convenient for a statesman to imitate the people’s manners, but to know them, and make use of those things toward every person by which he is most likely to be taken. For the ignorance of men’s humors brings no less disorders and obstacles in commonweals than in the friendships of kings.
4. When therefore you shall have already gotten power and authority amongst the people, then must you endeavor to reform their disposition, treating them gently, and by little and little drawing them to what is better. For the changing of a multitude is a difficult and laborious work. But as for your own manners and behavior, so compose and adorn them, as knowing that you are henceforth to lead your life on an open stage; and if it is no easy task for you wholly to extirpate vice out of your soul, at least take away and retrench those offences which are most notorious and apparent. For you cannot but have heard how Themistocles, when he designed to enter upon the management of public affairs, withdrew himself from drinking and revelling, and fell to watching, fasting, and studying, saying to his intimate friends, that Miltiades’s trophy suffered him not to sleep. And Pericles also so changed himself, both as to the comportment of his body and his manner of living, that he walked gravely, discoursed affably, always showed a staid and settled countenance, continually kept his hand under his robe, and went only that way which led to the assembly and the senate. For a multitude is not so tractable as that it should be easy for every one to take it with safety, but it is a service much to be valued, if, being like a suspicious and skittish beast, it can be so managed that, without being frighted either by sight or voice, it will submit to receive instruction.
These things therefore are not slightly to be observed; nor are we to neglect taking such care of our own life and manners that they may be clear from all stain and reprehension. For statesmen are not only liable to give an account of what they say or do in public; but there is a busy enquiry made into their very meals, beds, marriages, and every either sportive or serious action. For what need we speak of Alcibiades, who, being of all men the most active in public affairs, and withal an invincible commander, perished by his irregularity in living and his audaciousness, and who by his luxury and prodigality rendered the state unbenefited by all his other good qualities? — since the Athenians blamed Cimon’s wine; the Romans, having nothing else to cavil at, found fault with Scipio’s sleeping; and the enemies of Pompey the Great, having observed that he scratched his head with one finger, upbraided him with it. For as a freckle or wart in the face is more prejudicial than stains, maims, and scars in the rest of the body; so little faults, discerned in the lives of princes and statesmen, appear great, through an opinion most men have conceived of government and policy, which they look on as a great and excellent thing, and such as ought to be pure from all absurdity and imperfection. Therefore not unjustly is Livius Drusus commended, who, when several parts of his house lay open to the view of his neighbors, being told by a certain workman that he would for the expense only of five talents alter and remedy that fault, said: I will give thee indeed ten, to make my whole house so transparent that all the city may see how I live. For he was a temperate and modest man. And yet perhaps he had no need of this perspicuity; for many persons pry into those manners, counsels, actions, and lives of statesmen which seem to be most deeply concealed, no less loving and admiring one, and hating and despising another, for their private than for their public transactions. What then! perhaps you may say: Do not cities make use also of such men as live dissolutely and effeminately? True; for as women with child frequently long for stones and chalk, as those that are stomach-sick do for salt-fish and such other meats, which a little after they spit out again and reject; so also the people sometimes through wantonness and petulancy, and sometimes for want of better guides, make use of those that come first to hand, though at the same time detesting and contemning them, and after rejoice at such things spoken against them as the comedian Plato makes the people themselves to say:
And again he brings them in, calling for a basin and feather that they may vomit, and saying,
And a little after,
It feeds a stinking pest, foul Cephalus.
And the Roman people, when Carbo promised them something, and (to confirm it) added an oath and execration, unanimously swore on the contrary that they would not believe him. And in Lacedaemon, when a certain dissolute man named Demosthenes had delivered a very convenient opinion, the people rejected it; but the Ephori, who approved of his advice, having chosen by lot one of the ancient senators, commanded him to repeat the same discourse, pouring it (as it were) out of a filthy vessel into a clean one, that it might be acceptable to the multitude. Of so great moment either way in political affairs is the belief conceived of a person’s disposition and manners.
5. Yet are we not therefore so to lay the whole stress on virtue, as utterly to neglect all gracefulness and efficacy of speech; but esteeming rhetoric, though not the worker, yet a coadjutor and forwarder of persuasion, we should correct that saying of Menander,
The speaker’s manners, not his speech, persuade.
For both manners and language ought to concur, unless any one forsooth shall say that — as it is the pilot who steers the ship, and not the rudder, and the rider that turns the horse, and not the bridle — so political virtue, using not eloquence but manners as an helm and bridle, persuades and guides a city, which is (to speak with Plato) an animal most easy to be turned, managing and directing it (as it were) from the poop. For since those great and (as Homer calls them) Jove-begotten kings, setting themselves out with their purple, sceptres, guards, and the very oracles of the Gods, and subjecting to them by their majesty the multitude, as if they were of a better nature and more excellent mould than other men, desired also to be eloquent orators, and neglected neither the gracefulness of speech,
not only venerating Jupiter the counsellor, Mars the slaughterer, and Pallas the warrior, but invocating also Calliope,
Who still attends on regal Majesty,*
by her persuasive oratory appeasing and moderating the fierceness and violence of the people; how is it possible that a private man in a plebeian garb and with a vulgar mien, undertaking to conduct a city, should ever be able to prevail over and govern the multitude, if he is not endowed with alluring and all-persuading eloquence? The captains indeed and pilots of ships make use of others to deliver their commands; but a statesman ought to have in himself not only a spirit of government, but also a commanding faculty of speech, that he may not stand in need of another’s voice, nor be constrained to say, as did Iphicrates when he was run down by the eloquence of Aristophon, “My adversaries have the better actors, but mine is the more excellent play,” nor yet be often obliged to make use of these words of Euripides,
For to these evasions perhaps might an Alcamenes, a Nesiotes, an Ictinus, and any such mechanical persons as get their bread by their hands, be permitted on their oath to have recourse. As it sometime happened in Athens, where, when two architects were examined about the erecting a certain public work, one of them, who was of a free and voluble speech and had his tongue (as we say) well hung, making a long and premeditated harangue concerning the method and order of raising such a fabric, greatly moved the people; but the other, who was indeed the better workman though the worse speaker, coming forth into the midst, only said, “Ye men of Athens, what this man has spoken, I will do.” For those men venerate only Minerva surnamed Ergane (or the Artisan), who, as Sophocles says of them,
But the prophet or minister of Minerva Polias (that is, the protectress of cities) and of Themis (or Justice) the counsellor,
making use of no other instrument but speech, does, by forming and fashioning some things and smoothing and polishing others that, like certain knots in timber or flaws in iron, are averse to his work, embellish and adorn a city. By this means the government of Pericles was in name (as Thucydides† says) a democracy, but in effect the rule of one principal man through the power of his eloquence. For there were living at the same time Cimon, and also Ephialtes and Thucydides,‡ all good men; now Thucydides, being asked by Archidamus, king of the Spartans, whether himself or Pericles were the better wrestler, thus answered: “That is not easily known; for when I in wrestling overthrow him, he, by his words persuading the spectators that he did not fall, gains the victory.” And this did not only bring glory to himself, but safety also to the city; for being persuaded by him, it preserved the happiness it had gotten, and abstained from intermeddling with foreign affairs. But Nicias, though having the same design, yet falling short in the art of persuasion, when he endeavored by his speech, as by a gentle curb, to restrain and turn the people, could not compass it or prevail with them, but was fain to depart, being violently hurried and dragged (as it were) by the neck and shoulders into Sicily. They say, that a wolf is not to be held by the ears; but a people and city are chiefly to be drawn by the ears, and not as some do who, being unpractised in eloquence, seek other absurd and unartificial ways of taking them, and either draw them by the belly, making them feasts and banquets, or by the purse, bestowing on them gifts and largesses, or by the eye, exhibiting to them masks and prizes or public shows of dancers and fencers, — by which they do not so much lead as cunningly catch the people. For to lead a people is to persuade them by reason and eloquence; but such allurements of the multitude nothing differ from the baits laid for the taking of irrational animals.
6. Let not yet the speech of a statesman be youthful and theatrical, as if he were making an harangue composed, like a garland, of curious and florid words; nor again — as Pytheas said of an oration made by Demosthenes, that it smelt of the lamp and sophistical curiosity — let it consist of over-subtle arguments and periods, exactly framed by rule and compass. But as musicians require that the strings of their instruments should be sweetly and gently touched, and not rudely thrummed or beaten; so in the speech of a statesman, both when he counsels and when he commands, there should not appear either violence or cunning, nor should he think himself worthy of commendation for having spoken formally, artificially, and with an exact observation of punctualities; but his whole discourse ought to be full of ingenuous simplicity, true magnanimity, fatherly freedom, and careful providence and understanding, joined with goodness and honesty, gracefulness and attraction, proceeding from grave expressions and proper and persuasive sentences. Now a political oration does much more properly than a juridical one admit of sententious speeches, histories, fables, and metaphors, by which those who moderately and seasonably use them exceedingly move their hearers; as he did who said, Make not Greece one-eyed; and Demades, when he affirmed of himself, that he was to manage the wreck of the state; and Archilochus, when he said
and Pericles, when he commanded the eyesore* of the Piraeus to be taken away; and Phocion, when he pronounced of Leosthenes’s victory, that the beginning or the short course of the war was good, but that he feared the long race that was to follow. But in general, majesty and greatness more benefit a political discourse, a pattern of which may be the Philippics, and (amongst the orations set down by Thucydides) that of Sthenelaidas the Ephor, that of Archidamus at Plataea, and that of Pericles after the plague. But as for those rhetorical flourishes and harangues of Ephorus, Theopompus, and Anaximenes, which they made after they had armed and set in order the battalions, it may be said of them,
None talks thus foolishly so near the sword.†
7. Nevertheless, both taunts and raillery may sometimes be part of political discourse, so they proceed not to injury or scurrility, but are usefully spoken by him who either reprehends or scoffs. But these things seem most to be allowed in answers and replies. For in that manner to begin a discourse as if one had purposely prepared himself for it, is the part of a common jester, and carries with it an opinion of maliciousness; as was incident to the biting jests of Cicero, Cato the Elder, and Euxitheus, an intimate acquaintance of Aristotle, — all of whom frequently began first to jeer; but in him, who does it only in revenge, the seasonableness of it renders it not only pardonable but also graceful. Such was the answer of Demosthenes, when one that was suspected of thievery derided him for writing by night: I know that the keeping my candle burning all night is offensive to you. So when Demades bawled out, Demosthenes forsooth would correct me: thus would the sow (as the proverb has it) teach Minerva; — That Minerva, replied Demosthenes, was not long since taken in adultery. Not ungraceful also was that of Xenaenetus to those citizens who upbraided him with flying when he was general, ’Twas with you, my dear hearts. But in raillery great care is to be taken for the avoiding of excess, and of any thing that may either by its unseasonableness offend the hearers or show the speaker to be of an ungenerous and sordid disposition; — such as were the sayings of Democrates. For he, going up into the assembly, said that, like the city, he had little force but much wind; and after the overthrow at Chaeronea, going forth to the people, he said: I would not have had the state to be in so ill a condition that you should be contented to hear me also giving you counsel. For this showed a mean-spirited person, as the other did a madman; but neither of them was becoming a statesman. Now the succinctness of Phocion’s speech was admired; whence Polyeuctus affirmed, that Demosthenes was the greatest orator, but that Phocion spake most forcibly, for that his discourse did in very few words contain abundance of matter. And Demosthenes, who contemned others, was wont, when Phocion stood up, to say, The hatchet (or pruning-knife) of my orations arises.
8. Let your chief endeavor therefore be, to use to the multitude a premeditated and not empty speech, and that with safety, knowing that Pericles himself, before he made any discourse to the people, was wont to pray that there might not a word pass from him foreign to the business he was to treat of. It is requisite also, that you have a voluble tongue, and be exercised in speaking on all occurrences; for occasions are quick, and bring many sudden things in political affairs. Wherefore also Demosthenes was, as they say, inferior to many, withdrawing and absconding himself when sudden occasion offered. And Theophrastus relates that Alcibiades, desirous to speak not only what he ought but as he ought, often hesitated and stood still in the midst of his speech, seeking and composing expressions fit for his purpose. But he who, as matters and occasions present themselves, rises up to speak, most of all moves, leads, and disposes of the multitude. Thus Leo Byzantius came to make an harangue to the Athenians, being then at dissension amongst themselves; by whom when he perceived himself to be laughed at for the littleness of his stature, What would you do, said he, if you saw my wife, who scarce reaches up to my knees? And the laughter thereupon increasing, Yet, went he on, as little as we are, when we fall out with one another, the city of Byzantium is not big enough to hold us. So Pytheas the orator, who declaimed against the honors decreed to Alexander, when one said to him, Dare you, being so young, discourse of so great matters? made this answer, And yet Alexander, whom you decree to be a God, is younger than I am.
9. It is requisite also for the champion of the commonweal to bring to this not slight but all-concerning contest a firm and solid speech, attended with a strong habit of voice and a long lasting breath, lest, being tired and spent with speaking, he chance to be overcome by
Cato, when he had no hopes of persuading the people or senate, whom he found prepossessed by the courtships and endeavors of the contrary party, was wont to rise up and hold them a whole day with an oration, by that means depriving his adversaries of their opportunity. And thus much concerning the preparation and use of speech may be sufficient for him who can of himself find out and add what necessarily follows from it.
10. There are, moreover, two avenues or ways of entering into the government of the state; the one short and expeditious to the lustre of glory, but not without danger; the other more obscure and slow, but having also greater security. For some there are who, beginning with some great and illustrious action which requires a courageous boldness, do, like to those that from a far extended promontory launch forth into the deep, steer directly into the very midst of public affairs, thinking Pindar to have been in the right when he said,
For the multitude do, through a certain satiety and loathing of those to whom they have been accustomed, more readily receive a beginner; as the beholders do a fresh combatant, and as those dignities and authorities which have a splendid and speedy increase dazzle and astonish envy. For neither does that fire, as Ariston says, make a smoke, nor that glory breed envy, which suddenly and quickly shines forth; but of those who grow up slowly and by degrees, some are attacked on this side, others on that; whence many have withered away about the tribunal, before ever they came to flourish. But when, as they say of Ladas,
any one suddenly and gloriously performs an embassy, triumphs, or leads forth an army, neither the envious nor the disdainful have like power over him as over others. Thus did Aratus ascend to glory, making the overthrow of the tyrant Nicocles his first step to the management of the commonweal. Thus did Alcibiades, settling the alliance with the Mantineans against the Lacedaemonians. Pompey also required a triumph, being not yet admitted into the senate; and when Sylla opposed it, he said to him, More adore the rising than the setting sun; which when Sylla heard, he yielded to him. And the people of Rome on a sudden, contrary to the ordinary course of the law, declared Cornelius Scipio consul, when he stood candidate for the aedileship, not from any vulgar reason, but admiring the victory he had got, whilst he was but a youth, in a single combat fought in Spain, and his conquests a little after, performed at Carthage, when he was a tribune of foot: in respect of which Cato the Elder cried out with a loud voice,
He only’s wise, the rest like shadows fly.*
Now then, since the affairs of the cities have neither wars to be managed, tyrannies to be overthrown, nor leagues and alliances to be treated, what can any one undertake for the beginning of an illustrious and splendid government? There are yet left public causes and embassies to the emperor, which require the courage and prudence of an acute and cautious person. There are also in the cities many good and laudable usages neglected, which may be restored, and many ill practices brought in by custom, to the disgrace or damage of the city, which may be redressed, to gain him the esteem of the people. Moreover, a great suit rightly determined, fidelity in defending a poor man’s cause against a powerful adversary, and freedom of speech in behalf of justice to some unjust nobleman, have afforded some a glorious entrance into the administration of the state. Not a few also have been advanced by enmity and quarrels, having set themselves to attack such men whose dignity was either envied or terrible. For the power of him that is overthrown does with greater glory accrue to his overthrower. Indeed, through envy to contend against a good man, and one that has by virtue been advanced to the chiefest honor, — as Simmias did against Pericles, Alcmaeon against Themistocles, Clodius against Pompey, and Meneclides the orator against Epaminondas, — is neither good for one’s reputation nor otherwise advantageous. For when the multitude, having outraged some good man, soon after (as it frequently happens) repent of their indignation, they think that way of excusing this offence the easiest which is indeed the justest, to wit, the destroying of him who was the persuader and author of it. But the rising up to humble and pull down a wicked person, who has by his audaciousness and cunning subjected the city to himself (such as heretofore Cleon and Clitophon were in Athens), makes a glorious entrance to the management of public affairs, as it were to a play. I am not ignorant also that some, by opposing — as Ephialtes did at Athens, and Phormio amongst the Eleans — an imperious and oligarchical senate, have at the same time obtained both authority and honor; but in this there is great danger to him who is but entering upon the administration of state. Wherefore Solon took a better beginning; for the city of Athens being divided into three parts, the Diacrians (or inhabitants of the hill), the Pedieans (or dwellers on the plain), and the Paralians (or those whose abode was by the water side), he, joining himself with none of them, but acting for the common good of them all, and saying and doing all things for to bring them to concord, was chosen the lawgiver to take away their differences, and by that means settled the state.
Such then and so many beginnings has the more splendid way of entering upon state affairs.
11. But many gallant men have chosen the safe and slow method, as Aristides, Phocion, Pammenes the Theban, Lucullus in Rome, Cato, and Agesilaus the Lacedaemonian. For as ivy, twining about the strongest trees, rises up together with them; so every one of these, applying himself, whilst he was yet young and inglorious, to some elder and illustrious personage, and growing up and increasing by little and little under his authority, grounded and rooted himself in the commonweal. For Clisthenes advanced Aristides, Chabrias preferred Phocion, Sylla promoted Lucullus, Maximus raised Cato, Pammenes forwarded Epaminondas, and Lysander assisted Agesilaus. But this last, injuring his own reputation through an unseasonable ambition and jealousy, soon threw off the director of his actions; but the rest honestly, politically, and to the end, venerated and magnified the authors of their advancement, — like bodies which are opposed to the sun, — by reflecting back the light that shone upon them, augmented and rendered more illustrious. Certainly those who looked asquint upon Scipio called him the player, and his companion Laelius the poet or author of his actions; yet was not Laelius puffed up by any of these things, but continued to promote the virtue and glory of Scipio. And Afranius, the friend of Pompey, though he was very meanly descended, yet being at the very point to be chosen consul, when he understood that Pompey favored others, gave over his suit, saying that his obtaining the consulship would not be so honorable as grievous and troublesome to him, if it were against the good-will and without the assistance of Pompey. Having therefore delayed but one year, he enjoyed the dignity and preserved his friendship. Now those who are thus by others led, as it were, by the hand to glory do, in gratifying one, at the same time also gratify the multitude, and incur less odium, if any inconvenience befalls them. Wherefore also Philip (king of Macedon) exhorted his son Alexander, whilst he had leisure during the reign of another, to get himself friends, winning their love by kind and affable behavior.
12. Now he that begins to enter upon the administration of state affairs should choose himself a guide, who is not only a man of credit and authority but is also such for his virtue. For as it is not every tree that will admit and bear the twining of a vine, there being some which utterly choke and spoil its growth; so in states, those who are no lovers of virtue and goodness, but only of honor and sovereignty, afford not young beginners any opportunities of performing worthy actions, but do through envy keep them down and let them languish whom they regard as depriving them of their glory, which is (as it were) their food. Thus Marius, having first in Afric and afterwards in Galatia done many gallant exploits by the assistance of Sylla, forbare any farther to employ him, and utterly cast him off, being really vexed at his growing into repute, but making his pretence the device engraven on his seal. For Sylla, being paymaster under Marius when he was general in Afric, and sent by him to Bocchus, brought with him Jugurtha prisoner; but as he was an ambitious young man, who had but just tasted the sweetness of glory, he received not his good fortune with moderation; but having caused the representation of the action to be engraven on his seal, wore about him Jugurtha delivered into his hands; and this did Marius lay to his charge, when he turned him off. But Sylla, passing over to Catulus and Metellus, who were good men and at difference with Marius, soon after in a civil war drove away and ruined Marius, who wanted but little of overthrowing Rome. Sylla indeed, on the contrary, advanced Pompey from a very youth, rising up to him and uncovering his head as he passed by, and not only giving other young men occasions of doing captain-like actions, but even instigating some that were backward and unwilling. He filled the armies with emulation and desire of honor; and thus he had the superiority over them all, desiring not to be alone, but the first and greatest amongst many great ones. These therefore are the men to whom young statesmen ought to adhere, and with these they should be (as it were) incorporated, not stealing from them their glory, — like Aesop’s wren, which, being carried up on the eagle’s wings, suddenly flew away and got before her, — but receiving it of them with friendship and good-will, since they can never, as Plato says, be able to govern aright, if they have not been first well practised in obedience.
13. After this follows the judgment that is to be had in the choice of friends, in which neither the opinion of Themistocles nor that of Cleon is to be approved. For Cleon, when he first knew that he was to take on him the government, assembling his friends together, brake off friendship with them, as that which often disables the mind, and withdraws it from its just and upright intention in managing the affairs of the state. But he would have done better, if he had cast out of his soul avarice and contention, and cleansed himself from envy and malice. For cities want not men that are friendless and unaccompanied, but such as are good and temperate. Now he indeed drove away his friends; but a hundred heads of fawning flatterers were, as the comedian speaks, licking about him;* and being harsh and severe to those that were civil, he again debased himself to court the favor of the multitude, doing all things to humor them in their dotage, and taking rewards at every man’s hand,† and joining himself with the worst and most distempered of the people against the best. But Themistocles, on the contrary, said to one who told him that he would govern well if he exhibited himself alike to all: May I never sit on that throne on which my friends shall not have more power with me than those who are not my friends. Neither did he well in pinning the state to his friendship, and submitting the common and public affairs to his private favors and affections. And farther, he said to Simonides, when he requested somewhat that was not just: Neither is he a good poet or musician, who sings against measure; nor he an upright magistrate, who gratifies any one against the laws. And it would really be a shameful and miserable thing, that the pilot should choose his mariners, and the master of a ship the pilot,
and that an architect should make choice of such servants and workmen as will not prejudice his work, but take pains in the best manner to forward it; but that a statesman — who, as Pindar has it,
should not presently choose himself like-affected friends and ministers, and such as might co-inspire into him a love of honesty; but that one or other should be always unjustly and violently bending him to other uses. For then he would seem to differ in nothing from a carpenter or mason who, through ignorance or want of experience, uses such squares, rules, and levels as will certainly make his work to be awry. Since friends are the living and intelligent instruments of statesmen, who ought to be so far from bearing them company in their slips and transgressions, that they must be careful they do not, even unknown to them, commit a fault.
And this it was, that disgraced Solon and brought him into disrepute amongst his citizens; for he, having an intention to ease men’s debts and to bring in that which was called at Athens the Seisachtheia (for that was the name given by way of extenuation to the cancelling of debts), communicated this design to some of his friends, who thereupon did a most unjust act; for having got this inkling, they borrowed abundance of money, and the law being a little after brought to light, they appeared to have purchased stately houses, and great store of land with the wealth they had borrowed; and Solon, who was himself injured, was accused to have been a partaker of their injustice. Agesilaus also was most feeble and mean-spirited in what concerned the suits of his friends, being like the horse Pegasus in Euripides,
Who, frighted, bowed his back, more than his rider would,*
so that, being more ready to help them in their misfortunes than was requisite, he seemed to be privy to their injustices. For he saved Phoebidas, who was accused for having without commission surprised the castle of Thebes, called Cadmea, saying that such enterprises were to be attempted without expecting any orders. And when Sphodrias was brought to trial for an unlawful and heinous act, having made an incursion into Attica at such time as the Athenians were allies and confederates of the Spartans, he procured him to be acquitted, being softened by the amorous entreaties of his son. There is also recorded a short epistle of his to a certain prince, written in these words: If Nicias is innocent, discharge him; if he is guilty, discharge him for my sake; but however it is, discharge him. But Phocion (on the contrary) would not so much as appear in behalf of his son-in-law Charicles, when he was accused for having taken money of Harpalus; but having said, Only for acts of justice have I made you my son-in-law, — went his way. And Timoleon the Corinthian, when he could not by admonitions or requests dissuade his brother from being a tyrant, confederated with his destroyers. For a magistrate ought not to be a friend even to the altar (or till he comes to the point of being forsworn), as Pericles sometime said, but no farther than is agreeable to all law, justice, and the utility of the state; any of which being neglected brings a great and public damage, as did the not executing of justice on Sphodrias and Phoebidas, who did not a little contribute to the engaging of Sparta in the Leuctrian war.
Otherwise, reason of state is so far from necessitating one to show himself severe on every peccadillo of his friends, that it even permits him, when he has secured the principal affairs of the public, to assist them, stand by them, and labor for them. There are, moreover, certain favors that may be done without envy, as is the helping a friend to obtain an office, or rather the putting into his hands some honorable commission or some laudable embassy, such as for the congratulating or honoring some prince or the making a league of amity and alliance with some state. But if there be some difficult but withal illustrious and great action to be performed, having first taken it upon himself, he may afterwards assume a friend to his assistance, as did Diomedes, whom Homer makes to speak in this manner:
And Ulysses again as kindly attributes to him the praise of the achievement, saying:
For this sort of concession no less adorns the praiser than the praised; but self-conceitedness, as Plato says, dwells with solitude. He ought moreover to associate his friends in those good and kind offices which are done by him, bidding those whom he has benefited to love them and give them thanks, as having been the procurers and counsellors of his favors to them. But he must reject the dishonest and unreasonable request of his friends, yet not churlishly but mildly, teaching and showing them that they are not beseeming their virtue and honor. Never was any man better at this than Epaminondas, who, having denied to deliver out of prison a certain victualler, when requested by Pelopidas, and yet a little after dismissing him at the desire of his miss, said to his friend, These, O Pelopidas, are favors fit for wenches to receive, and not for generals. Cato on the other side acted morosely and insolently, when Catulus the censor, his most intimate and familiar friend, interceded with him for one of those against whom he, being quaestor, had entered process, saying: It would be a shame if you, who ought to reform young men for us, should be thrust out by our servants. For he might, though in effect refusing the requested favor, have yet forborne that severity and bitterness of speech; so that his doing what was displeasing to his friend might have seemed not to have proceeded from his own inclination, but to have been a necessity imposed upon him by law and justice. There are also in the administration of the state methods, not dishonorable, of assisting our poorer friends in the making of their fortune. Thus did Themistocles, who, seeing after a battle one of those which lay dead in the field adorned with chains of gold and jewels, did himself pass by him; but turning back to a friend of his, said, Do you take these spoils, for you are not yet come to be Themistocles. For even the affairs themselves do frequently afford a statesman such opportunities of benefiting his friends; for every man is not a Menemachus. To one therefore give the patronage of a cause, both just and beneficial; to another recommend some rich man, who stands in need of management and protection; and help a third to be employed in some public work, or to some gainful and profitable farm. Epaminondas bade a friend of his go to a certain rich man, and ask him for a talent by the command of Epaminondas, and when he to whom the message was sent came to enquire the reason of it; Because, said Epaminondas, he is a very honest man and poor; but you, by converting much of the city’s wealth to your own use, are become rich. And Xenophon reports, that Agesilaus delighted in enriching his friends, himself making no account of money.
14. Now since, as Simonides says, all larks must have a crest, and every eminent office in a commonweal brings enmities and dissensions, it is not a little convenient for a statesman to be forewarned also of his comportment in these rencounters. Many therefore commend Themistocles and Aristides, who, when they were to go forth on an embassy or to command together the army, laid down their enmity at the confines of the city, taking it up again after their return. Some again are highly pleased with the action of Cretinas the Magnesian. He, having for his rival in the government one Hermias, a man not powerful and rich, but ambitious and high-spirited, when the Mithridatic war came on, seeing the city in danger, desired Hermias either to take the government upon himself and manage the affairs whilst he retired, or, if he would have him take the command of the army, to depart himself immediately, lest they should through their ambitious contention destroy the city. The proposal pleased Hermias, who, saying that Cretinas was a better soldier than himself, did with his wife and children quit the city. Cretinas then escorted him as he went forth, furnishing him out of his own estate with all such things as are more useful to those that fly from home than to those that are besieged; and excellently defending the city, unexpectedly preserved it, being at the point to be destroyed. For if it is generous and proceeding from a magnanimous spirit to cry out,
I love my children, but my country more,
why should it not be readier for every one of them to say, I hate this man, and desire to do him a diskindness, but the love of my country has greater power over me? For not to condescend to be reconciled to an enemy for those very causes for which we ought to abandon even a friend, is even to extremity savage and brutish. But far better did Phocion and Cato, who grounded not any enmity at all on their political differences, but being fierce and obstinate only in their public contests not to recede from any thing they judged convenient for the state, did in their private affairs use those very persons friendly and courteously from whom they differed in the other. For one ought not to esteem any citizen an enemy, unless it be one like Aristion, Nabis, or Catiline, the disease and plague of the city: but as for those that are otherwise at discord, a good magistrate should, like a skilful musician, by gently setting them up or letting them down, bring them to concord; not falling angrily and reproachfully upon those that err, but mildly reprehending them in such like terms as these of Homer’s,
Good friend, I thought you wiser than the rest;*
You could have told a better tale than this;†
nor yet repining at their honors, or sparing to speak freely in commendation of their good actions, if they say or do any thing advantageous to the public. For thus will our reprehension, when it is requisite, be credited, and we shall render them averse to vice, increasing their virtue, and showing, by comparing them, how much the one is more worthy and beseeming them than the other.
But I indeed am also of opinion, that a statesman should in just causes give testimony to his enemies, stand by them when they are accused by sycophants, and discredit imputations brought against them if they are repugnant to their characters; as Nero himself, a little before he put to death Thraseas, whom of all men he both most hated and feared, when one accused him for giving a wrong and unjust sentence, said: I wish Thraseas was but as great a lover of me, as he is a most upright judge. Neither is it amiss for the daunting of others who are by Nature more inclined to vice, when they offend, to make mention of some enemy of theirs who is better behaved, and say, Such a one would not have spoken or acted thus. And some again, when they transgress, are to be put in mind of their virtuous progenitors. Thus Homer says,
Tydeus has left a son unlike himself.*
And Appius, contending in the Comitia with Scipio Africanus, said, How deeply, O Paulus, wouldst thou sigh amongst the infernal shades, wert thou but sensible that Philonicus the publican guards thy son, who is going to stand for the office of censor. For such manner of speeches do both admonish the offender, and become their admonishers. Nestor also in Sophocles, being reproached by Ajax, thus politicly answers him:
And Cato, who had opposed Pompey in his joining with Caesar to force the city, when they fell to open wars, gave his opinion that the conduct of the state should be committed to Pompey, saying, that those who are capable to do the greatest mischiefs are fittest to put a stop to them. For reprehension mixed with praise, and accompanied not with opprobriousness but liberty of speech, working not animosity but remorse and repentance, appears both kind and salutary; but railing expressions do not at all beseem statesmen. Do but look into the speeches of Demosthenes against Aeschines, and of Aeschines against him; and again into what Hyperides has written against Demades, and consider whether Solon, Pericles, Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian, or Pittacus the Lesbian would have spoken in that manner. And yet Demosthenes used this reproachful manner of speaking only in his juridical orations or pleadings; for his Philippics are clean and free from all scoffing and scurrility. For such discourses do not only more disgrace the speakers than the hearers, but do moreover breed confusion in affairs, and disturb counsels and assemblies. Wherefore Phocion did excellently well, who, having broken off his speech to give way to one that railed against him, when the other with much ado held his peace, going on again where he had left off, said: You have already heard what has been spoken of horsemen and heavy armed foot; I am now to treat of such as are light armed and targeteers.
But since many persons can hardly contain themselves on such occasions, and since railers have often their mouths not impertinently stopped by replies; let the answer be short and pithy, not showing any indignation or bitterness of anger, but mildness joined with raillery and gracefulness, yet somewhat tart and biting. Now such especially are the retortings of what has been spoken before. For as darts returning against their caster seem to have been repulsed and beaten back by a certain strength and solidity in that against which they were thrown; so what was spoken seems by the strength and understanding of the reproached to have been turned back upon the reproacher. Such was that reply of Epaminondas to Callistratus, who upbraided the Thebans with Oedipus, and the Argives with Orestes, — one of which had killed his father and the other his mother, — Yet they who did these things, being rejected by us, were received by you. Such also was the repartee of Antalcidas the Spartan to an Athenian, who said to him, We have often driven you back and pursued you from the Cephissus; But we (replied Antalcidas) never yet pursued you from the Eurotas. Phocion also, when Demades cried out, The Athenians if they grow mad, will kill thee; elegantly replied, And thee, if they come again to their wits. So, when Domitius said to Crassus the orator, Did not you weep for the death of the lamprey you kept in your fishpond? — Did not you, said Crassus to him again, bury three wives without ever shedding a tear? These things therefore have indeed their use also in other parts of a man’s life.
15. Moreover, some, like Cato, thrust themselves into every part of polity, thinking a good citizen should not omit any care or industry for the obtaining authority. And these men greatly commend Epaminondas; for that being by the Thebans through envy and in contempt appointed telearch, he did not reject it, but said, that the office does not show the man, but the man also the office. He brought the telearchate into great and venerable repute, which was before nothing but a certain charge of the carrying the dung out of the narrow streets and lanes of the city, and turning of watercourses. Nor do I doubt but that I myself afford matter of laughter to many who come into this our city, being frequently seen in public employed about such matters. But that comes into my assistance which is related of Antisthenes; for, when one wondered to see him carry a piece of stock-fish through the market, ’Tis for myself, said he. But I, on the contrary, say to those who upbraid me for being present at and overseeing the measuring of tiles, or the bringing in and unloading of clay and stones: It is not for myself, but for my country, that I perform this service. For though he who in his own person manages and does many such things for himself may be judged mean-spirited and mechanical, yet if he does them for the public and for his country, he is not to be deemed sordid; but on the contrary, his diligence and readiness, extending even to these small matters, is to be esteemed greater and more highly to be valued. But others there are, that hold Pericles’s manner of acting to have been more magnanimous and august; amongst which Critolaus the Peripatetic, who is of opinion that, as at Athens the Salaminian ship and the Paralus were not launched forth for every service, but only on necessary and great occasions, so a statesman ought to employ himself in the chiefest and greatest affairs, like the King of the universe, who, as Euripides says,
For neither do we approve the excessively ambitious and contentious spirit of Theagenes, who, having obtained the victory not only through the whole course of public games, but also in many other contests, and not only in wrestling but in buffeting and running of long races, at last, being at the anniversary festival supper of a certain hero, after every one was served, according to the custom, he started up, and fell to wrestling, as if it were necessary that no other should conquer when he was present; whence he got together twelve hundred coronets, most of which one would have taken for rubbish.
Now nothing do they differ from him, who strip themselves for every public affair, and render themselves reprehensible by many, becoming troublesome, and being, when they do well, the subject of envy, and when they do ill, of rejoicing. And that industry which was at the beginning admired turns afterwards to contempt and laughter. In this manner it was said; Metiochus leads forth the army, Metiochus oversees the highways, Metiochus bakes the bread, Metiochus bolts the meal, Metiochus does all things, Metiochus shall suffer for it at last. This Metiochus was a follower of Pericles, and made use, it seems, of the power he had with him invidiously and disdainfully. For a statesman ought to find the people when he comes to them (as they say) in love with him, and leave in them a longing after him when he is absent; which course Scipio Africanus also took, dwelling a long time in the country, at the same time both removing from himself the burthen of envy, and giving those leisure to breathe, who seemed to be oppressed by his glory. But Timesias the Clazomenian, who was otherwise a good commonwealths-man, was ignorant of his being envied and hated for doing all things by himself, till the following accident befell him. It happened that, as he passed by where certain boys were striking a cockal-bone out of an hole, some of them said, that the bone was still left within; but he who had stricken it cried out, I wish I had as certainly beaten out Timesias’s brains, as this bone is out of the hole. Timesias, hearing this, and thereby understanding the envy and spite borne him by every one, returned home, where he imparted the matter to his wife, and having commanded her to pack up all and follow him, immediately left both his house and the city. And Themistocles seems to have been in some such condition amongst the Athenians, when he said: How is it, O ye blessed ones, that you are tired with the frequent receiving of benefits?
Now some of those things have indeed been rightly spoken, others not so well. For a statesman ought not to withdraw his affection and providential care from any public affair whatever, nor reserve himself sacred, like the anchor in a ship, for the last necessities and hazards of the state. But as the masters of ships do some things with their own hands, and perform others, sitting afar off, by other instruments, turning and winding them by the hands of others, and making use of mariners, boatswains, and mates, some of which they often call to the stern, putting the helm into their hands; so it is convenient for a statesman sometimes to yield the command to his companions, and to invite them kindly and civilly to the tribunal, not managing all the affairs of the commonweal by his own speeches, decrees, and actions, but having good and faithful men, to employ every one of them in that proper and peculiar station which he finds to be most suitable for him. Thus Pericles used Menippus for the conduct of the armies, by Ephialtes he humbled the council of the Areopagus, by Charinus he passed the law against the Megarians, and sent Lampon to people the city of Thurii. For not only is the greatness of authority less liable to be envied by the people, when it seems to be divided amongst many; but the business also is more exactly done. For as the division of the hand into fingers has not weakened it, but rendered it more commodious and instrumental for the uses to which it serves; so he who in the administration of a state gives part of the affairs to others renders the action more efficacious by communicating it. But he who, through an unsatiable desire of glory or power, lays the whole burthen of the state upon his own shoulders, and applies himself to that for which he is neither fitted by nature nor exercise, — as Cleon did to the leading forth of armies, Philopoemen to the commanding of navies, and Hannibal to haranguing the people, — has no excuse for his errors; but hears that of Euripides objected against him,
being no good orator, you went on an embassage; being of a lazy temper, you thrust yourself into the stewardship; being ignorant in keeping accounts, you would be treasurer; or, being old and infirm, you took on you the command of the army. But Pericles divided his authority with Cimon, reserving to himself the governing within the city, and committing to him the manning of the navy and making war upon the barbarians; for the other was naturally fitted for war, and himself for civil affairs. Eubulus also the Anaphlystian is much commended, that, having credit and authority in matters of the greatest importance, he managed none of the Grecian affairs, nor betook himself to the conducting of the army; but employing himself about the treasure, he augmented the public revenues, and greatly benefited the city by them. But Iphicrates, practising to make declamations at his own house in the presence of many, rendered himself ridiculous; for though he had been no bad orator but an excellently good one, yet ought he to have contented himself with the glory got by arms, and abstaining from the school, to have left it to the sophisters.
16. But since it is incident to every populacy to be malicious and desirous to find fault with their governors, and since they are apt to suspect that many, even useful things, if they pass without being opposed or contradicted, are done by conspiracy, and since this principally brings societies and friendships into obloquy; they must not indeed leave any real enmity or dissension against themselves, as did Onomademus, a demagogue of the Chians, who, having mastered a sedition, suffered not all his adversaries to be expelled the city; lest, said he, we should begin to differ with our friends, when we are wholly freed from our enemies; for this would be indeed a folly. But when the multitude shall have conceived a suspicion against any important beneficial project, they must not, as if it were by confederacy, all deliver the same opinion; but two or three of them must dissent, and mildly oppose their friend, and afterwards, as if they were convinced by reason, change their sentiments; for by this means they draw along with them the people, who think them moved by the beneficialness of the thing. But in small matters, and such as are of no great consequence, it is not amiss to suffer his friends really to differ, every one following his own private reason; that so in the principal and greatest concerns, they may not seem to act upon design, when they shall unanimously agree to what is best.
17. The politician therefore is by nature always the prince of the city, as the king among the bees; and in consideration of this, he ought always to have the helm of public affairs in his hand. But as for those dignities and offices to which persons are nominated and chosen by the suffrages of the people, he should neither too eagerly nor too often pursue them, — the seeking after offices being neither venerable nor popular, — nor yet should he reject them, when the people legally confer them on him and invite him to them, but even though they are below his reputation, he should accept them and willingly employ himself in them; for it is but just that they who have been honored by offices of greater dignity should in return grace those of inferior rank. And in those more weighty and superior employs, such as are the commanding of the armies in Athens, the Prytania in Rhodes, and the Boeotarchy amongst us, he should carry himself with such moderation as to remit and abate something of their grandeur, adding somewhat of dignity and venerableness to those that are meaner and less esteemed, that he may be neither despised for these nor envied for those.
Now it behooves him that enters upon any office, not only to have at hand those arguments of which Pericles put himself in mind when he first received the robe of state: Bethink thyself, Pericles, thou govern’st freemen, thou govern’st Grecians, yea, citizens of Athens; but farther also, he ought to say thus with himself: Thou, being a subject, govern’st a city which is under the obedience of Caesar’s proconsul or lieutenant. Here is no fight in a fair field, this is not the ancient Sardis, nor is this the puissance of the Lydians. Thou must make thy robe scantier, look from the pavilion to the tribunal, and not place too great confidence in thy crown, since thou see’st the Roman’s shoes over thy head. But in this the stage-players are to be imitated, who add indeed to the play their own passionate transports, behavior, and countenance, suitable to the person they represent, but yet give ear to the prompter, and transgress not the rhyme and measures of the faculty granted them by their masters. For an error in government brings not, as in the acting of a tragedy, only hissing and derision; but many have by this means subjected themselves to that
As it befell your countryman Pardalas, when he forgot the limits of his power. Another, being banished from home and confined to a little island, as Solon has it,
For we laugh indeed, when we see little children endeavoring to fasten their father’s shoes on their own feet, or setting their crowns on their own heads in sport. But the governors of cities, foolishly exhorting the people to imitate those works, achievements, and actions of their ancestors which are not suitable to the present times and affairs, elevate the multitude, and although they do things that are ridiculous, they yet meet with a fate which is not fit to be laughed at, unless they are men altogether despised. For there are many other facts of the ancient Greeks, the recital of which to those who are now living may serve to form and moderate their manners; as would be the relating at Athens, not the warlike exploits of their progenitors, but (for example) the decree of amnesty after the expulsion of the Thirty Tyrants; the fining of Phrynicus, who represented in a tragedy the taking of Miletus; how they wore garlands on their heads when Cassander rebuilt Thebes; how, having intelligence of the Scytalism (or slaughter) at Argos in which the Argives put to death fifteen hundred of their own citizens, they commanded a lustration (or expiatory sacrifice) to be carried about in a full assembly; and how, when they were searching of houses for those that were confederated with Harpalus, they passed by only one, which was inhabited by a man newly married. For by the imitating of such things as these, they may even now resemble their ancestors; but the fights at Marathon, Eurymedon, and Plataea, and whatever examples vainly puff up and heighten the multitude, should be left to the schools of the sophisters.
18. Now a statesman ought not only to exhibit himself and his country blameless to the prince, but also to have always for his friend some one of those that are most powerful above, as a firm support of polity; for the Romans are of such a disposition, that they are most ready to assist their friends in their political endeavors. It is good also, when we have received benefit from friendship with princes, to apply it to the advancement of our country; as did Polybius and Panaetius, who through the favor of Scipio to them greatly advantaged their countries for the obtaining felicity. So Caesar Augustus, when he had taken Alexandria, made his entry into it, holding Arius by the hand, and discoursing with him alone of all his familiars; after which he said to the Alexandrians, who expecting the utmost severity supplicated his favor, that he pardoned them first for the greatness of their city, secondly for its builder, Alexander, and thirdly, added he, to gratify this my friend. Is it then fit to compare to this benefit those exceeding gainful commissions and administrations of provinces, in the pursuit of which many even grow old at other men’s doors, leaving their own domestic affairs in the mean time unregarded? Or should we rather correct Euripides, singing and saying that, if one must watch and sue at another’s court and subject one’s self to some great man’s familiarity, it is most commendable so to do for the sake of one’s country; but otherwise, we should embrace and pursue friendships on equal and just conditions.
19. Yet ought not he who renders and exhibits his country obsequious to potent princes to contribute to the oppressing of it, nor having tied its legs to subject also its neck, as some do who, referring all things both great and little to these potentates, upbraid it with servitude, or rather wholly take away the commonwealth, rendering it astonished, timorous, and without command of any thing. For as those who are accustomed neither to sup nor bathe without the physician do not make so much use of their health as Nature affords them; so they who introduce the prince’s judgment into every decree, council, favor, and administration, necessitate the princes to be more masters of them than they desire. Now the cause of this is principally the avarice and ambition of the chief citizens. For either, by injuring their inferiors, they compel them to fly out of the city; or in such things wherein they differ from one another, disdaining to be worsted by their fellow-citizens, they bring in such as are more powerful, whence both the council, people, courts of judicature, and whole magistracy lose their authority. But he ought to appease private citizens by equality, and mightier men by mutual submissions, so as to keep peace within the commonweal, and coolly to determine their affairs; making for these things, as it were for secret diseases, a certain political medicine, both being himself rather willing to be vanquished amongst his fellow-citizens, than to get the better by the injury and dissolution of his country’s rights, and requesting the same of every one else, and teaching them how great a mischief this obstinacy in contending is. But now, rather than they will with honor and benignity mutually yield to their fellow-citizens, kinsmen, neighbors, and colleagues in office, they do, with no less prejudice than shame, carry forth their dissensions to the doors of the pleaders, and put them into the hands of pragmatical lawyers.
Physicians indeed turn and drive forth into the superficies of the body such diseases as they are not able utterly to extirpate; but a statesman, though he cannot keep a city altogether free from internal troubles, yet should, by concealing its disturbance and sedition, endeavor to cure and compose it, so that it may least stand in need of physicians and medicines from abroad. For the intention of a statesman should be fixed upon the public safety, and should shun, as has been said, the tumultuous and furious motion of vain-glory; and yet in his disposition there should be magnanimity,
and who are bravely resolved, not only to hazard their lives against the assaults of invading enemies, but also to struggle with the most difficult affairs, and stem the torrent of the most dangerous and impetuous times. For as he must not himself be a creator of storms and tempests, so neither must he abandon the ship of the state when they come upon it; and as he ought not to raise commotions and drive it into danger, so is he obliged, when it is tossed and is in peril, to give it his utmost assistance, putting forth all his boldness of speech, as he would throw out a sacred anchor when affairs are at the greatest extremity. Such were the difficulties that befell the Pergamenians under Nero, and the Rhodians lately under Domitian, and the Thessalians heretofore in the time of Augustus, when they burned Petraeus alive.
You shall not in this case demurring see,*
or starting back for fear, any one who is truly a statesman; neither shall you find him accusing others and withdrawing himself out of harm’s way; but you shall have him rather going on embassies, sailing to foreign parts, and not only saying first,
but also ready to undergo perils and dangers for the multitude, even though he has not been at all partaker of their crime. For this indeed is a gallant action; and besides its honesty, one only man’s virtue and magnanimity has often wonderfully mitigated the anger conceived against a whole multitude, and dissipated the terror and bitterness with which they were threatened. Such an influence with a king of Persia had the deportment of Sperchis and Bulis, two noble Spartans; and equally prevalent was the speech of Stheno with Pompey, when, being about to punish the Mamertines for their defection, he was told by Stheno, that he would not act justly if he should for one guilty person destroy abundance of innocents; for that he himself had caused the revolt of the city, by persuading his friends and forcing his enemies to that attempt. This speech did so dispose Pompey, that he both pardoned the city and courteously treated Stheno. But Sylla’s host, having used the like virtue towards an unlike person, generously ended his days. For when Sylla, having taken the city of Praeneste, determined to put all the rest of the inhabitants to the sword, and to spare only him for the hospitality that had been between them, he, saying that he would not be indebted for his preservation to the destroyer of his country, thrust himself in amongst his fellow-citizens, and was massacred with them. We ought therefore indeed to deprecate such times as these, and hope for better things.
20. Moreover, we should honor, as a great and sacred thing, every magistracy and magistrate. Now the mutual concord and friendship of magistrates with one another is a far greater honor of magistracy than their diadems and purple-garded robes. Now those who lay for a foundation of friendship their having been fellow-soldiers or having spent their youth together, and take their being joint commanders or co-magistrates for a cause of enmity, cannot avoid being guilty of one of these three evils. For either, regarding their colleagues in government as their equals, they brangle with them; or looking on them as their superiors, they envy them; or esteeming them their inferiors, they despise them; whereas, indeed, one ought to court his superior, advance his inferior, honor his equal, and love and embrace all, as having been made friends, not by eating at the same table, drinking in the same cup, or meeting at the same solemn feast, but by a common and public bond, and having in some sort an hereditary benevolence derived from their country. Scipio therefore was ill spoken of in Rome, for that, making a feast for his friends at the dedication of a temple to Hercules, he invited not to it his colleague Mummius; for, though in other things they took not one another for friends, yet in such occurrences as these they should have mutually honored and caressed each other, for the sake of their common magistracy. If then the omission of so small a civility brought Scipio, who was otherwise an admirable man, under a suspicion of arrogancy; how can he who seeks to impair the dignity of his colleague, or to obfuscate the lustre of his actions, or through insolency to draw and attribute all things to himself, taking them wholly from his companion, be esteemed reasonable and moderate? I remember that, when I was yet but a young man, being jointly with another sent on an embassy to the proconsul, and my companion — I know not on what occasion — stopping by the way, I went on alone and performed the affair. Now when at my return I was to render an account of my charge, my father, taking me aside, admonished me not to say I went but We went, not I spoke but We spoke, and so through all the rest to make my report by associating my companion, and rendering him a sharer in my actions. For this is not only decent and courteous, but also takes from glory what is offensive, that is, envy. Whence it is that great men generally co-ascribe their most glorious actions to their Daemon or Fortune; as did Timoleon, who having destroyed the tyrannies in Sicily, consecrated a temple to Chance; and Python, when, being admired and honored by the Athenians for having slain Cotys, he said, God did this, making use of my hand. But Theopompus, king of the Lacedaemonians, when one said that Sparta was preserved because its kings were well skilled in governing, replied: ’Tis rather because the people are well versed in obeying.
21. These two things then are affected by each other; yet most men both say and think that the business of political instruction is to render the people pliable to be governed. For there are in every city more governed than governors, and every one who lives in a democracy rules only a short time, but is subject all his life, so that it is the most excellent and useful lesson we can learn, to obey those who are set over us, though they are less furnished with authority and reputation.
For it is absurd that a Theodorus or a Polus, the principal actor in a tragedy, should often obey a hireling who plays the third part, and speak humbly to him because he wears a diadem and a sceptre; and that in real actions and in the government of the state, a rich and mighty man should undervalue and contemn a magistrate because he is simple and poor, thus injuring and degrading the dignity of the commonweal by his own; whereas he should rather by his own reputation and authority have increased and advanced that of the magistrate. As in Sparta the kings rose up out of their thrones to the ephors, and whoever else was sent for by them did not slowly obey, but running hastily and with speed through the forum, gave a pattern of obedience to his fellow-citizens, whilst he gloried in honoring the magistrates; not like to some ill-bred and barbarous persons, who, priding themselves in the abundance of their power, affront the judges of the public combats, revile the directors of the dances in the Bacchanals, and deride military commanders and those that preside over the exercises of youth, neither knowing nor understanding that to honor is sometimes more glorious than to be honored. For to a man of great authority in a city, his accompanying and attending on the magistrate is a greater grace than if he were himself accompanied and attended on by him; or rather this indeed would bring trouble and envy, but that brings real glory, and such as proceeds from kindness and good-will. And such a man, being seen sometimes at the magistrate’s door, and saluting him first, and giving him the middle place in walking, does, without taking any thing from himself, add ornament to the city.
22. It is also a popular thing and wins greatly on the multitude, to bear patiently the reproaches and indignation of a magistrate, saying either with Diomedes,
Great glory soon will follow this,*
or this, which was sometime said by Demosthenes, — that he is not now Demosthenes only, but a magistrate, or a director of public dances, or a wearer of a diadem. Let us therefore lay aside our revenge for a time; for either we shall come upon him when he is dismissed from his office, or shall by delaying gain a cessation of anger.
23. Indeed one should in diligence, providence, and care for the public always strive with every magistrate, advising them, — if they are gracious and well behaved, — of such things as are requisite, warning them, and giving them opportunities to make use of such things as have been rightly counselled, and helping them to advance the common good; but if there is in them any sloth, delay, or ill-disposedness to action, then ought one to go himself and speak to the people, and not to neglect or omit the public on pretence that it becomes not one magistrate to be curious and play the busybody in another’s province. For the law always gives the first rank in government to him who does what is just and knows what is convenient. “There was,” says Xenophon,* “one in the army named Xenophon, who was neither general nor inferior commander;” but yet this man, by his skill in what was fit and boldness in attempting, raising himself to command, preserved the Grecians. Now of all Philopoemen’s deeds this is the most illustrious, that Agis† having surprised Messene, and the general of the Achaeans being unwilling and fearful to go and rescue it, he with some of the forwardest spirits did without a commission make an assault and recover it. Yet are we not to attempt innovations on every light or trivial occasion; but only in cases of necessity, as did Philopoemen, or for the performance of some honorable actions, as did Epaminondas when he continued in the Boeotarchy four months longer than was allowed by the law, during which he brake into Laconia and re-edified Messene. Whence, if any complaint or accusation shall on this occasion happen, we may in our defence against such accusation plead necessity, or have the greatness and gallantry of the action as a comfort for the danger.
24. There is recorded a saying of Jason, monarch of the Thessalians, which he always had in his mouth when he outraged or molested any, that there is a necessity for those to be unjust in small matters who will act justly in great ones. Now that speech one may presently discern to have been made by a despot. But more political is this precept, to gratify the populacy with the passing over small things, that we may oppose and hinder them when they are like to offend in greater. For he that will be exact and earnest in all things, never yielding or conniving, but always severe and inexorable, accustoms the people to strive obstinately, and behave themselves perversely towards him.
sometimes by unbending himself and sporting graciously with them, as in the celebrating of festival sacrifices, assisting at public games, and being a spectator at the theatres, and sometimes by seeming neither to see nor hear, as we pass by the faults of such children in our houses; that the faculty of freely chastising and reprehending, being — like a medicine — not antiquated or debilitated by use, but having its full vigor and authority, may more forcibly move and operate on the multitude in matters of greater importance.
Alexander, being informed that his sister was too familiarly acquainted with a certain handsome young man, was not displeased at it, but said, that she also must be permitted to have some enjoyment of the royalty; acting in this concession neither rightly nor as beseemed himself; for the dissolution and dishonoring of the state ought not to be esteemed an enjoyment. But a statesman will not to his power permit the people to injure any private citizens, to confiscate other men’s estates, or to share the public stock amongst them; but will by persuading, instructing, and threatening oppugn such irregular desires, by the feeding and increasing of which Cleon caused many a stinging drone, as Plato says, to breed in the city. But if the multitude, taking occasion from some solemn feast of the country or the veneration of some God, shall be inclined either to exhibit some show, to make some small distribution, to bestow some courteous gratification, or to perform some other magnificence, let them in such matters have an enjoyment both of their liberality and abundance. For there are many examples of such things in the governments of Pericles and Demetrius; and Cimon adorned the market-place by planting rows of plane-trees and making of walks. Cato also, seeing the populacy in the time of Catiline’s conspiracy put in a commotion by Caesar, and dangerously inclined to make a change in the government, persuaded the senate to decree some distributions of money amongst the poor, and this being done appeased the tumult and quieted the sedition. For, as a physician, having taken from his patient great store of corrupt blood, gives him a little innocent nourishment; so a statesman, having taken from the people some great thing which was either inglorious or prejudicial, does again by some small and courteous gratuity still their morose and complaining humor.
25. It is not amiss also dexterously to turn aside the eager desires of the people to other useful things, as Demades did when he had the revenues of the city under his management. For they being bent to send galleys to the assistance of those who were in rebellion against Alexander, and commanding him to furnish out money for that purpose, he said to them: You have money ready, for I have made provision against the Bacchanals, that every one of you may receive half a mina; but if you had rather have it employed this way, make use as you please of your own. And by this means taking them off from sending the fleet, lest they should be deprived of the dividend, he kept the people from offending Alexander. For there are many prejudicial things to which we cannot directly put a stop, but we must for that end make use of turning and winding; as did Phocion, when he was required at an unseasonable time to make an incursion into Boeotia. For he immediately caused proclamation to be made, that all from sixteen years of age to sixty should prepare to follow him; and when there arose upon it a mutiny amongst the old men, he said: There is no hardship put upon you, for I, who am above fourscore years old, shall be your general. In this manner also is the sending of embassies to be put off, by joining in the commission such as are unprepared; and the raising of unprofitable buildings, by bidding them contribute to it; and the following of indecent suits, by ordering the prosecutors to appear together and go together from the court. Now the proposers and inciters of the people to such things are first to be drawn and associated for the doing them; for so they will either by their shifting it off seem to break the matter, or by their accepting of it have their share in the trouble.
26. But when some great and useful matter, yet such as requires much struggling and industry, is to be taken in hand, endeavor to choose the most powerful of your friends, or rather the mildest of the most powerful; for they will least thwart you and most co-operate with you, having wisdom without a contentious humor. Nevertheless, thoroughly understanding your own nature, you ought, in that for which you are naturally less fit, rather to make choice of such as are of suitable abilities, than of such as are like yourself; as Diomedes, when he went forth to spy, passing by the valiant, took for his companion one that was prudent and cautious. For thus are actions better counterpoised, and there is no contention bred betwixt them, when they desire honor from different virtues and qualities. If therefore you are yourself no good speaker, choose for your assistant in a suit or your companion in an embassy an eloquent man, as Pelopidas did Epaminondas; if you are unfit to persuade and converse with the multitude, being too high-minded for it, as was Callicratidas, take one that is gracious and courtly; if you are infirm of body and unable to undergo fatigues, make choice of one who is robust and a lover of labor, as Nicias did of Lamachus. For thus Geryon would have become admirable, having many legs, hands, and eyes, if only they had been all governed by one soul. But it is in the power of statesmen — by conferring together, if they are unanimous, not only their bodies and wealth, but also their fortunes, authorities, and virtues, to one common use — to perform the same action with greater glory than any one person; not as did the Argonauts, who, having left Hercules, were necessitated to have recourse to female subtleties and be subject to enchantments and sorceries, that they might save themselves and steal away the fleece.
Men indeed entering into some temples leave their gold without; but iron, that I may speak my mind in a word, they never carry into any. Since then the tribunal is a temple common to Jupiter the counsellor and protector of cities, to Themis, and to Justice, from the very beginning, before thou enterest into it, stripping thy soul of avarice and the love of wealth, cast them into the shops of bankers and usurers,
And from them turn thyself,*
esteeming him who heaps up treasures by the management of public affairs to rob the temples, plunder graves, and steal from his friends, and enriching himself by treachery and bearing of false witness, to be an unfaithful counsellor, a perjured judge, a bribe-taking magistrate, and in brief, free from no injustice. Whence it is not necessary to say much concerning this matter.
27. Now ambition, though it is more specious than covetousness, brings yet no less plagues into a state. For it is usually more accompanied with boldness, as being bred, not in slothful and abject spirits, but chiefly in such as are vigorous and active; and the vogue of the people, frequently extolling it and driving it by their praises, renders it thereby headstrong and hard to be managed. As therefore Plato advised, that we should even from our infancy inculcate into young people, that it is not fit for them to wear gold about them abroad nor yet to be possessors of it, as having a peculiar treasure of their own, immixed with their souls, — enigmatically, as I conceive, insinuating the virtue propagated in their natures from the race or stock of which they are descended, — so let us also moderate our ambition by saying, that we have in ourselves uncorrupted gold, that is, honor unmixed, and free from envy and reprehension, which is still augmented by the consideration and contemplation of our acts and jests in the service of the commonweal. Wherefore we stand not in need of honors painted, cast, or engraven in brass, in which what is most admired frequently belongs to another. For the statue of a trumpeter or halberdier is not commended or esteemed for the sake of the person whom it is made to represent, but for that of the workman by whom it is made. And Cato, when Rome was in a manner filled with statues, would not suffer his to be erected, saying, I had rather men should ask why my statue is not set up, than why it is. For such things are subject to envy, and the people think themselves obliged to those who have not received them; whereas those who have received them are esteemed burthensome, as seeking public employs for a reward. For as he does no great or glorious act who, having without danger sailed along the Syrtis, is afterwards cast away in the harbor; so he who, having kept himself safe in passing through the treasury and the management of the public revenues, is caught with a presidency or a place in the Prytaneum, not only dashes against an high promontory, but is likewise drowned.
He then is best, who desires none of these things, but shuns and refuses them all. But if perhaps it is not easy wholly to decline a favor or testimonial of the people’s amity, when they are fully bent to bestow it, yet for those who have in the service of the state contended not for silver or presents, but have fought a fight truly sacred and deserving a crown, let an inscription, a tablet, a decree, or a branch of laurel or olive suffice, such as Epimenides received out of the castle of Athens for having purified the city. So Anaxagoras, putting back the other honors that were given him, desired that on the day of his death the children might have leave to play and intermit their studies. And to the seven Persians who killed the Magi it was granted that they and their posterity should wear their turban on the fore part of the head; for this, it seems, they had made the signal, when they went about that attempt. The honor also which Pittacus received had something political; for being bid to take what portion he would of the land he had gotten for his citizens, he accepted as much as he could reach with the cast of his dart. So Cocles the Roman took as much as he himself, being lame, could plough in a day. For the honor should not be a recompense of the action, but an acknowledgment of gratitude, that it may continue also long, as those did which we have mentioned. But of the three hundred statues erected to Demetrius Phalereus, not one was eaten into by rust or covered with filth, they being all pulled down whilst himself was yet alive; and those of Demades were melted into chamber-pots. Many other honors also have undergone the like fate, being regarded with an ill eye, not only for the wickedness of the receiver, but also for the greatness of the gift. A moderation in the expense is therefore the best and surest preservative of honors; for such as are great, immense, and ponderous are like to unproportioned statues, soon overthrown.
28. Now I here call those honors which the people,
Whose right it is, so name; with them I speak:
as Empedocles has it; since a wise statesman will not despise true honor and favor, consisting in the good-will and friendly disposition of those who gratefully remember his services; nor will he contemn glory by shunning to please his neighbors, as Democritus would have him. For neither the fawning of dogs nor the affection of horses is to be rejected by huntsmen and jockeys; nay, it is both profitable and pleasant to breed in those animals which are brought up in our houses and live with us, such a disposition towards one’s self as Lysimachus’s dog showed to his master, and as the poet relates Achilles’s horses to have had towards Patroclus.* And I am of opinion that bees would fare better if they would make much of those who breed them and look after them, and would admit them to come near them, than they do by stinging them and driving them away; for now their keepers punish them by smothering them with smoke; so they tame unruly horses with short bits; and dogs that are apt to run away, by collaring them and fastening them to clogs. But there is nothing which renders one man so obsequious and submissive to another, as the confidence of his good-will, and the opinion of his integrity and justice. Wherefore Demosthenes rightly affirmed, that the greatest preservative of states against tyrants is distrust. For the part of the soul by which we believe is most apt to be caught. As therefore Cassandra’s gift of prophecy was of no advantage to the citizens of Troy, who would not believe her:
so the confidence the citizens had in Archytas, and their good-will towards Battus, were highly advantageous to those who would make use of them through the good opinion they had of them.
Now the first greatest benefit which is in the reputation of statesmen is the confidence that is had in them, giving them an entrance into affairs; and the second is, that the good-will of the multitude is an armor to the good against those that are envious and wicked; for,
it chases away envy, and renders the plebeian equal in authority to the nobleman, the poor man to the rich, and the private man to the magistrates; and in a word, when truth and virtue are joined with it, it is a strange and favorable wind, directly carrying men into government. And on the other side behold and learn by examples the mischievous effects of the contrary disposition. For those of Italy slew the wife and children of Dionysius, having first violated and polluted them with their lusts; and afterwards burning their bodies, scattered the ashes out of the ship into the sea. But when one Menander, who had reigned graciously over the Bactrians, died afterwards in the camp, the cities indeed by common consent celebrated his funeral; but coming to a contest about his relics, they were difficulty at last brought to this agreement, that his ashes being distributed, every one of them should carry away an equal share, and they should all erect monuments to him. . Again, the Agrigentines, being got rid of Phalaris, made a decree, that none should wear a blue garment; for the tyrant’s attendants had blue liveries. But the Persians, because Cyrus was hawk-nosed, do to this day love such men and esteem them handsomest.
29. That is of all loves the strongest and divinest, which is by cities and states borne to any man for his virtue. But those false-named honors and false testimonials of amity, which have their rise from stage-plays, largesses, and fencings, are not unlike the flatteries of whores; the people always with smiles bestowing an unconstant and short-lived glory on him that presents them and gratifies them.
He therefore who said, the people were first overthrown by him which first bestowed largesses on them, very well understood that the multitude lose their strength, being rendered weaker by receiving. But these bestowers must also know that they destroy themselves, when, purchasing glory at great expenses, they make the multitude haughty and arrogant, as having it in their power to give and take away some very great matter.
30. Yet are we not therefore to act sordidly in the distribution of honorary presents, when there is plenty enough. For the people more hate a rich man who gives nothing of his own, than they do a poor man that robs the public treasury; attributing the former to pride and a contempt of them, but the latter to necessity. First, therefore, let these largesses be made gratis, for so they more oblige the receivers, and strike them with admiration; then, on some occasion that has a handsome and laudable pretence, with the honor of some God wholly drawing the people to devotion; for so there is at the same time bred in them a strong apprehension and opinion that the Deity is great and venerable, when they see those whom they honor and highly esteem so bountifully and readily expending their wealth upon his honor. As therefore Plato forbade young men who were to be liberally educated to learn the Lydian and Phrygian harmony, — one of which excites the mournful and melancholy part of our soul, whilst the other increases its inclination to pleasure and sensual delight, — so do you, as much as possibly you can, drive out of the city all such largesses as either foster and cherish brutality and savageness, or scurrility and lasciviousness; and if that cannot be, at least shun them, and oppose the many when they desire such spectacles; always making the subjects of our expenses useful and modest, having for their end what is good and necessary, or at least what is pleasant and acceptable, without any prejudice or injury.
31. But if your estate be but indifferent, and by its centre and circumference confined to your necessary use, it is neither ungenerous nor base to confess your poverty and give place to such as are provided for those honorary expenses, and not, by taking up money on usury, to render yourself at the same time both miserable and ridiculous by such services. For they whose abilities fall short cannot well conceal themselves, being compelled either to be troublesome to their friends, or to court and flatter usurers, so that they get not any honor or power, but rather shame and contempt by such expenses. It is therefore always useful on such occasions to call to mind Lamachus and Phocion. For Phocion, when the Athenians at a solemn sacrifice called upon him, and often importuned him to give them something, said to them, I should be ashamed to give to you, and not pay this Callicles, — pointing to an usurer who was standing by. And as for Lamachus, he always put down in his bill of charges, when he was general, the money laid out for his shoes and coat. And to Hermon, when he refused the undertaking of an office because of his poverty, the Thessalians ordained a puncheon of wine a month, and a bushel and a half of meal every four days. It is therefore no shame to confess one’s poverty; nor are the poor in cities of less authority than those who feast and exhibit public shows, if they have but gotten freedom of speech and reputation by their virtue.
A statesman ought therefore chiefly to moderate himself on such occasions, and neither, being himself on foot, go into the field against well-mounted cavaliers, nor, being himself poor, vie with those that are rich about race matches, theatrical pomps, and magnificent tables and banquets; but he should rather strive to be like those who endeavor to manage the city by virtue and prudence, always joined with eloquence; in which there is not only honesty and venerableness, but also a gracefulness and attractiveness,
Far more to be desired than Croesus’ wealth.
For a good man is neither insolent nor odious; nor is a discreet person self-conceited,
but he is, on the contrary, courteous, affable, and of easy access to all, having his house always open, as a port of refuge to those that will make use of him, and showing his care and kindness, not only by being assistant in the necessities and affairs of those that have recourse to him, but also by condoling with those that are in adversity, and congratulating and rejoicing with such as have been successful; neither is he troublesome or offensive by the multitude and train of domestics attending him at bath, or by taking up of places in the theatres, nor remarkable by things invidious for luxury and sumptuousness; but he is equal and like to others in his clothes, diet, education of his children, and the garb and attendance of his wife, as desiring in his comportment and manner of living to be like the rest of the people. Then he exhibits himself an intelligent counsellor, an unfeed advocate and courteous arbitrator between men and their wives, and friends at variance amongst themselves; not spending a small part of the day for the service of the commonweal at the tribunal or in the hall of audience, and employing all the test, and the whole remainder of his life, in drawing to himself every sort of negotiations and affairs, as the northcast wind does the clouds; but always employing his cares on the public, and reputing polity (or the administration of the state) as a busy and active life, and not, as it is commonly thought, an easy and idle service; he does by all these and such like things turn and draw the many, who see that all the flatteries and enticements of others are but spurious and deceitful baits, when compared to his care and providence. The flatterers indeed of Demetrius vouchsafed not to give the other potentates of his time, amongst whom Alexander’s empire was divided, the title of kings, but styled Seleucus master of the elephants, Lysimachus treasurer, Ptolemaeus admiral, and Agathocles governor of the isles. But the multitude, though they may at the beginning reject a good and prudent man, yet coming afterwards to understand his veracity and the sincerity of his disposition, esteem him a public-spirited person and a magistrate; and of the others, they think and call one a maintainer of choruses, a second a feaster, and a third a master of the exercises. Moreover, as at the banquets made by Callias or Alcibiades, Socrates only is heard, and to Socrates all men’s eyes are directed; so in sound and healthy states Ismenias bestows largesses, Lichas makes suppers, and Niceratus provides choruses; but it is Epaminondas, Aristides, and Lysander that govern, manage the state, and lead forth the armies. Which if any one considers, he ought not to be dejected or amazed at the glory gotten amongst the people from theatres, banqueting-halls, and public buildings; since it lasts but a short time, being at an end as soon as the prizes and plays are over, and having in them nothing honorable or worthy of esteem.
32. Those that are versed in the keeping and breeding of bees look on that hive to be healthiest and in best condition, where there is most humming, and which is fullest of bustle and noise; but he to whom God has committed the care of the rational and political hive, reputing the felicity of the people to consist chiefly in quietness and tranquillity, will receive and to his power imitate the rest of Solon’s ordinances, but will doubt and wonder what it was that induced him to decree, that he who, when there arises a sedition in the city, adheres to neither party should be reputed infamous. For in the body, the beginning of its change from sickness to health is not wrought by the parts that are infected with the disease, but when the temperature of such parts as are sound, growing powerful, drives away what is contrary to nature; and in a state, where the people are disturbed by a sedition not dangerous and mortal, but which will after a while be composed and allayed, it is of necessity that there be a mixture of much that is uninfected and sound, and that it continue and cohabit in it. For thither flows from the wise what is fit and natural, and passes into the part that is diseased. But when cities are in an universal commotion, they are in danger of being utterly destroyed, unless, being constrained by some necessity and chastisement from abroad, they are by the force of their miseries reduced to wisdom. Yet does it not become you in the time of a sedition to sit as if you were neither sensible nor sorry, praising your own unconcernedness as a quiet and happy life, and taking delight in the error of others. But on such occasions chiefly should you put on the buskin of Theramenes, and conferring with both parties, join yourself to neither. For you will not seem a stranger by not being a partaker in injustice, but a common friend to them all by your assistance; nor will you be envied for your not sharing in the calamity, when you appear equally to condole with every one of them. But the best is, by your providential care to prevent the raising of any sedition; and in this consists the greatest and most excellent point, as it were, of the political art. For you are to consider that, the greatest benefits a city can enjoy being peace, liberty, plenty, abundance of men, and concord, the people have at this time no need of statesmen for the procuring of peace; since all war, whether with Greeks or barbarians, is wholly taken away and banished from us. As for liberty, the people have as much as the emperors think fit to grant them, and more perhaps would not be expedient. The prudent man therefore will beg the Gods to grant to his fellow-citizens the unenvied plenty of the earth, and the kind temper of the seasons, and that wives may bear “children like to their parents,”* and also safety for all that is born and produced.
There remains therefore to a statesman, of all those things that are subject to his charge, this alone, which is inferior to none of the other benefits, the keeping of those who are co-inhabitants of the same city in perpetual concord and friendship, and the taking away of all contentions, animosities, and heart-burnings. In which he shall, as in the differences between friends, so converse with the party appearing to be most injured, as if he himself seemed also a sharer in the injury and equally offended at it, endeavoring afterwards so to appease him, by showing him how much those who pass by injuries excel such as strive to contend and conquer, not only in good-nature and sweetness of disposition, but also in prudence and magnanimity; and how, by remitting a little of their right in small matters, they get the better in the greatest and most important. He shall afterwards admonish them both in general and apart, instructing them in the weakness of the Grecian affairs, which it is better for intelligent men to make the best of, and to live in peace and concord, than to engage in a contest for which fortune has left no reward. For what authority, what glory is there remaining for the conquerors? What power is there, which the least decree of a proconsul cannot abolish or transfer elsewhere, and which, though it should continue, would yet have any thing worth our pains? But since, as a conflagration in a town does not frequently begin in sacred and public places, but a lamp negligently left in a house, or the burning of a little trash or rubbish, raises a great fire and works a common mischief; so sedition in a state is not always kindled by contentions about public affairs, but oftentimes the differences arising from private concerns and jangles, being propagated into the public, have disturbed a whole city. It is no less becoming a statesman to remedy and prevent all these, so that some of them may never have any being, others may quickly be extinguished, and others hindered from increasing or taking hold of the public, and confined amongst the adversaries themselves. And as himself ought to take care for this, so should he advertise others, that private disturbances are the occasion of public ones, and little of great ones, if they are neglected and suffered to proceed without taking care to apply fit remedies to them in the beginning.
In this manner is the greatest and most dangerous disturbance that ever happened in Delphi said to have been occasioned by Crates, whose daughter Orgilaus, the son of Phalis, being about to marry, it happened that the cup they were using in the espousals brake asunder of itself; which he taking for an ill omen, left his bride, and went away with his father. Crates a little after, charging them with taking away a certain golden vessel, used in the sacrifices, caused Orgilaus and his brother, unheard, to be precipitated from the top of a rock to the bottom, and afterwards slew several of their most intimate friends, as they were at their devotions in the temple of Providence. After many such things were perpetrated, the Delphians, putting to death Crates and his companions in the sedition, out of their estates which they called excommunicated, built the temples in the lower part of the town. In Syracuse also there were two young men, betwixt whom there was an extraordinary intimacy, one of which, having taken into his custody his friend’s catamite, vitiated him in his absence. The other at his return, by way of retaliation, debauched his companion’s wife. Then one of the ancient senators, coming into the council, proposed the banishing of them both before the city was ruined by their filling it with enmity. Yet did not he prevail; but a sedition arising on this occasion by very great calamities overturned a most excellently constituted commonweal. You have also a domestical example in the enmity between Pardalus and Tyrrhenus, which wanted little of destroying Sardis by embroiling it in revolt and war on little and private differences. A statesman therefore is not to slight the little offences and heart-burnings which, as diseases in a body, pass speedily from one to another, but to take them in hand, suppress, and cure them. For, as Cato says, by attention and carefulness great matters are made little, and little ones reduced to nothing. Now there is no better artifice of inuring men to this, than the showing one’s self easily pacified in his own private differences, persisting without rancor in matters of the first importance, and managing none with obstinacy, contending wrath, or any other passion, which may work sharpness or bitterness in necessary disputes. For as they bind certain round muffles about the hands of those who combat at buffets, that in their contests there may not arrive any fatal accident, the blows being soft and such as can do no great harm; so in such suits and processes with one’s fellow-citizens, it is best to manage the dispute by making use of pure and simple pretences, and not by sharpening and empoisoning matters, as if they were weapons, with calumnies, malice, and threats, to render them pernicious, great, and public. For he who in this manner carries himself with those with whom he has affairs will have others also subject to him. But contentions about public matters, where private grudges are taken away, are soon appeased, and bring no difficult or fatal mischiefs.
[* ]Il. IX. 55.
[† ]Il. IX. 443.
[* ]Il. IX. 441.
[* ]See Od. VII. 165.
[† ]Eurip. Frag. 977 and 442.
[* ]Od. II. 69.
[† ]Thuc. II. 65.
[‡ ]The son of Melesias, not the historian. (G.)
[* ]So he called the little island Aegina.
[† ]Eurip. Autolycus, Frag. 284, vs. 22.
[* ]A brook near Athens, the waters of which fell with an extraordinary noise. Aristoph. Eq. 137.
[* ]Pind. Olymp. VI. 4.
[† ]From whence they set forth to run.
[* ]See Odyss. X. 495.
[* ]Aristoph. Pac. 756.
[† ]See Aristoph. Eq. 1099.
[* ]Eurip. Bellerophon, Frag. 311.
[* ]Il. X. 242.
[† ]Il. X. 558.
[* ]Il. XVII. 171.
[† ]Il. VII. 358.
[* ]Il. V. 800.
[* ]See Il. XVII. 156.
[* ]See Il. IV. 223.
[* ]Il. IV. 415.
[* ]Xen. Anab. III. 1, 4.
[† ]Probably a mistake for Nabis. See Plutarch’s Life of Philopoemen, § 12. (G.)
[* ]Odyss. V. 350.
[* ]See Il. XIX. 404.
[* ]Il. IV. 130.
[* ]Hesiod, Works and Days, 235.