Plutarch's Apophthegms, or Sayings of Kings and Commanders

Translated by E.Hinton of Witney of Oxforshire. Edition by William W. Goodwin, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878.
Annotation of text copyright 2009 David Trumbull, Agathon Associates. All Rights Reserved.

¶ Dedication to the Emperor Trajan and justification for publishing a compilation of sayings many of which appeared already in his Lives for that "In the former treatise speeches and actions are mingled together, and require a reader that is at leisure; but in this the speeches, being as it were the seeds and the illustrations of those lives, are placed by themselves."


Artaxerxes, King of Persia, O Caesar Trajan, greatest of princes, esteemed it no less royal and bountiful kindly and cheerfully to accept small, than to make great presents; and when he was in a progress, and a common country laborer, having nothing else, took up water with both his hands out of the river and presented it to him, he smiled and received it pleasantly, measuring the kindness not by the value of the gift, but by the affection of the giver /1/. And Lycurgus ordained in Sparta very cheap sacrifices, that they might always worship the Gods readily and easily with such things as were at hand /2/. Upon the same account, when I bring a mean and slender present of the common first-fruits of philosophy, accept also (I beseech you) with my good affection these short memorials, if they may contribute any thing to the knowledge of the manners and dispositions of great men, which are more apparent in their words than in their actions. My former treatise contains the lives of the most eminent princes, lawgivers, and generals, both Romans and Grecians; but most of their actions admit a mixture of fortune, whereas such speeches and answers as happened amidst their employments, passions, and events afford us (as in a looking-glass) a clear discovery of each particular temper and disposition. Accordingly Siramnes the Persian, to such as wondered that he usually spoke like a wise man and yet was unsuccessful in his designs, replied: I myself am master of my words, but the king and fortune have power over my actions. In the former treatise speeches and actions are mingled together, and require a reader that is at leisure; but in this the speeches, being as it were the seeds and the illustrations of those lives, are placed by themselves, and will not (I think) be tedious to you, since they will give you in a few words a review of many memorable persons.

¶ Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, died c. 529 B.C. [1] The Persians affect such as are hawk-nosed and think them most beautiful, because Cyrus, the most beloved of their kings, had a nose of that shape.

[2] Cyrus said that those that would not do good for themselves ought to be compelled to do good for others; and that nobody ought to govern, unless he was better than those he governed.

[3] When the Persians were desirous to exchange their hills and rocks for a plain and soft country, he would not suffer them, saying that both the seeds of plants and the lives of men resemble the soil they inhabit /3/.

¶ Darius the Great, King of Persia, 522-485 B.C. [1] Darius the father of Xerxes used to praise himself, saying that he became even wiser in battles and dangers.

[2] When he laid a tax upon his subjects, he summoned his lieutenants, and asked them whether the tax was burthensome or not? When they told him it was moderate, he commanded them to pay half as much as was at first demanded.

[3] As he was opening a pomegranate, one asked him what it was of which he would wish for a number equal to the seeds thereof. He said, "Of men like Zopyrus," who was a loyal person and his friend /4/.

[4] This Zopyrus, after he had maimed himself by cutting off his nose and ears, beguiled the Babylonians; and being trusted by them, he betrayed the city to Darius, who often said that he would not have had Zopyrus maimed to gain a hundred Babylons /5/.

¶ Semiramis, legendary Assyrian Queen. Semiramis built a monument for herself, with this inscription: Whatever king wants treasure, if he open this tomb, he may be satisfied. Darius therefore opening it found no treasure, but another inscription of this import: If thou wert not a wicked person and of insatiable covetousness, thou wouldst not disturb the mansions of the dead /6/.

¶ Xerxes I, King of Assyria, reigned 485465 B.C. [1] Arimenes came out of Bactria as a rival for the kingdom with his brother Xerxes, the son of Darius. Xerxes sent presents to him, commanding those that brought them to say: With these your brother Xerxes now honors you; and if he chance to be proclaimed king, you shall be the next person to himself in the kingdom. When Xerxes was declared king, Arimenes immediately did him homage and placed the crown upon his head; and Xerxes gave him the next place to himself /7/.

[2] Being offended with the Babylonians, who rebelled, and having overcome them, he forbade them weapons, but commanded they should practise singing and playing on the flute, keep brothel-houses and taverns, and wear loose coats.

[3] He refused to eat Attic figs that were brought to be sold, until he had conquered the country that produced them.

[4] When he caught some Grecian scouts in his camp, he did them no harm, but having allowed them to view his army as much as they pleased, he let them go /8/.

¶ Artaxerxes I, King of Persia, reigned 465-425 B.C. [1] Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, surnamed Longimanus (or Long-hand) because he had one hand longer than the other /9/, said, it was more princely to add than to take away.

[2] He first gave leave to those that hunted with him, if they would and saw occasion, to throw their darts before him.

[3] He also first ordained that punishment for his nobles who had offended, that they should be stripped and their garments scourged instead of their bodies; and whereas their hair should have been plucked out, that the same should be done to their turbans.

[4] When Satibarzanes, his chamberlain, petitioned him in an unjust matter, and he understood he did it to gain thirty thousand pieces of money, he ordered his treasurer to bring the said sum, and gave them to him, saying: O Satibarzanes! take it; for when I have given you this, I shall not be poorer, but I had been more unjust if I had granted your petition.

¶ Cyrus the Younger, pretender to throne of Persia, died 401 B.C. Cyrus the Younger, when he was exhorting the Lacedaemonians to side with him in the war, said that he had a stronger heart than his brother, and could drink more wine unmixed than he, and bear it better; that his brother, when he hunted, could scarce sit his horse, or when ill news arrived, his throne. He exhorted them to send him men, promising he would give horses to footmen, chariots to horsemen, villages to those that had farms, and those that possessed villages he would make lords of cities; and that he would give them gold and silver, not by tale but by weight /10/.

Artaxerxes II (Mnemon) King of Persia, ca. 436358 B.C; reigned 404-358 B.C. [1] Artaxerxes, the brother of Cyrus the Younger, called Mnemon, did not only give very free and patient access to any that would speak with him, but commanded the queen his wife to draw the curtains of her chariot, that petitioners might have the same access to her also /11/.

[2] When a poor man presented him with a very fair and great apple, By the Sun, said he, 'tis my opinion, if this person were entrusted with a small city, he would make it great /12/.

[3] In his flight, when his carriages were plundered, and he was forced to eat dry figs and barley-bread, Of how great pleasure, said he, have I hitherto lived ignorant! /13/

¶ Parysatis the mother of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, 5th cen. B.C. Parysatis, the mother of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, advised him that would discourse freely with the king, to use words of fine linen.

¶ Orontes the son-in-law of King Artaxerxes. Orontes, the son-in-law of King Artaxerxes, falling into disgrace and being condemned, said: As arithmeticians count sometimes myriads on their fingers, sometimes units only; in like manner the favorites of kings sometimes can do every thing with them, sometimes little or nothing.

¶ Memnon Memnon, one of King Darius's generals against Alexander, when a mercenary soldier excessively and impudently reviled Alexander, struck him with his spear, adding, I pay you to fight against Alexander, not to reproach him.

¶ Egyptian Kings The Egyptian kings, according unto their law, used to swear their judges that they should not obey the king when he commanded them to give an unjust sentence.

¶ Poltys Poltys king of Thrace, in the Trojan war, being solicited both by the Trojan and Grecian ambassadors, advised Alexander to restore Helen, promising to give him two beautiful women for her.

¶ Teres, King of Thrace, reigned 475445 B.C. Teres, the father of Sitalces, said, when he was out of the army and had nothing to do, he thought there was no difference between him and his grooms.

¶ Cotys, King of Thrace, 384358 B.C. Cotys, when one gave him a leopard, gave him a lion for it. He was naturally prone to anger, and severely punished the miscarriages of his servants. When a stranger brought him some earthen vessels, thin and brittle, but delicately shaped and admirably adorned with sculptures, he requited the stranger for them, and then brake them all in pieces, Lest (said he) my passion should provoke me to punish excessively those that brake them.

¶ Idanthyrsus, King of Scythia. Idathyrsus, King of Scythia, when Darius invaded him, solicited the Ionian tyrants that they would assert their liberty by breaking down the bridge that was made over the Danube: which they refusing to do because they had sworn fealty to Darius, he called them good, honest, lazy slaves /14/.

¶ Ateas Ateas wrote to Philip: You reign over the Macedonians, men that have learned fighting; and I over the Scythians, which can fight with hunger and thirst. As he was rubbing his horse, turning to the ambassadors of Philip, he asked whether Philip did so or not. He took prisoner Ismenias, an excellent piper, and commanded him to play; and when others admired him, he swore it was more pleasant to hear a horse neigh.

¶ Scilurus, King of Scythia. Scilurus on his death-bed, being about to leave fourscore sons surviving, offered a bundle of darts to each of them, and bade them break them. When all refused, drawing out one by one, he easily broke them; thus teaching them that, if they held together, they would continue strong, but if they fell out and were divided, they would become weak /15/.

¶ Gelo [1] Gelo the tyrant, after he had overcome the Carthaginians at Himera, made peace with them, and among other articles compelled them to subscribe this,–that they should no more sacrifice their children to Saturn.

[2] He often marched the Syracusans out to plant their fields, as if it had been to war, that the country might be improved by husbandry, and they might not be corrupted by idleness.

[3] When he demanded a sum of money of the citizens, and thereupon a tumult was raised, he told them he would but borrow it; and after the war was ended, he restored it to them again.

[4] At a feast, when a harp was offered, and others one after another tuned it and played upon it, he sent for his horse, and with an easy agility leaped upon him.

¶ Hiero [1] Hiero, who succeeded Gelo in the tyranny, said he was not disturbed by any that freely spoke against him.

[2] He judged that those that revealed a secret did an injury to those to whom they revealed it; for we hate not only those who tell, but them also that hear what we would not have disclosed.

[3] One upbraided him with his stinking breath, and he blamed his wife that never told him of it; but she said, I thought all men smelt so.

[4] To Xenophanes the Colophonian, who said he had much ado to maintain two servants, he replied: But Homer, whom you disparage, maintains above ten thousand, although he is dead.

[5] He fined Epicharmus the comedian, for speaking unseemly when his wife was by.

¶Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse, 432-367 B.C. [1] Dionysius the Elder, when the public orators cast lots to know in what order they should speak, drew as his lot the letter M. And when one said to him, MWROLOGEIS, You will make a foolish speech, O Dionysius, You are mistaken, said he, MONARCHSO, I shall be a monarch. And as soon as his speech was ended, the Syracusans chose him general.

[2] In the beginning of his tyranny, the citizens rebelled and besieged him; and his friends advised him to resign the government, rather than to be taken and slain by them. But he, seeing a cook butcher an ox and the ox immediately fall down dead, said to his friends: Is it not a hateful thing, that for fear of so short a death we should resign so great a government?

[3] When his son, whom he intended to make his successor in the government, had been detected in debauching a freeman's wife, he asked him in anger, When did you ever know me guilty of such a crime? But you, sir, replied the son, had not a tyrant for your father. Nor will you, said he, have a tyrant for your son, unless you mend your manners.

[4] And another time, going into his son's house and seeing there abundance of silver and gold plate, he cried out: Thou art not capable of being a tyrant, who hast made never a friend with all the plate I have given thee.

[5] When he exacted money of the Syracusans, and they lamenting and beseeching him pretended they had none, he still exacted more, twice or thrice renewing his demands, until he heard them laugh and jeer at him as they went to and fro in the market-place, and then he gave over. Now, said he, since they contemn me, it is a sign they have nothing left.

[6] When his mother, being ancient, requested him to find a husband for her, I can, said he, overpower the laws of the city, but I cannot force the laws of Nature /16/.

[7] Although he punished other malefactors severely, he favored such as stole clothes, that the Syracusans might forbear feasting and drunken clubs.

[8] A certain person told him privately, he could show him a way how he might know beforehand such as conspired against him. Let us know, said he, going aside. Give me, said the person, a talent, that everybody may believe that I have taught you the signs and tokens of plotters; and he gave it him, pretending he had learned them, much admiring the subtilty of the man.

[9] Being asked whether he was at leisure, he replied: God forbid that it should ever befall me.

[10] Hearing that two young men very much reviled him and his tyranny in their cups, he invited both of them to supper; and perceiving that one of them prattled freely and foolishly, but the other drank warily and sparing, he dismissed the first as a drunken fellow whose treason lay no deeper than his wine, and put the other to death as a disaffected and resolved traitor.

[11] Some blaming him for rewarding and preferring a wicked man, and one hated by the citizens; I would have, said he, somebody hated more than myself.

[12] When he gave presents to the ambassadors of Corinth, and they refused them because their law forbade them to receive gifts from a prince to whom they were sent in embassy, he said they did very ill to destroy the only advantage of tyranny, and to declare that it was dangerous to receive a kindness from a tyrant.

[13] Hearing that a citizen had buried a quantity of gold in his house, he sent for it; and when the party removed to another city, and bought a farm with part of his treasure which he had concealed, Dionysius sent for him and bade him take back the rest, since he had now begun to use his money, and was no longer making a useful thing useless.

¶ Dionysius the Younger [1] Dionysius the Younger said that he maintained many Sophists; not that he admired them, but that he might be admired for their sake.

[2] When Polyxenus the logician told him he had baffled him; Yes, said he, in words, but I have caught you in deeds; for you, leaving your own fortune, attend me and mine.

[3] When he was deposed from his government, and one asked him what he got by Plato and philosophy, he answered, That I may bear so great a change of fortune patiently.

[4] Being asked how it came to pass that his father, a private and poor man, obtained the government of Syracuse, and he already possessed of it, and the son of a tyrant, lost it,–My father, said he, entered upon affairs when the democracy was hated, but I, when tyranny was become odious.

[5] To another that asked him the same question, he replied: My father bequeathed to me his government, but not his fortune.

¶ Agathocles [1] Agathocles was the son of a potter. When he became lord and was proclaimed king of Sicily, he was wont to place earthen and golden vessels together, and show them to young men, telling them, Those I made first, but now I make these by my valor and industry.

[2] As he was besieging a city, some from the walls reviling him, saying, Do you hear, potter, where will you have money to pay your soldiers?–he gently answered, I'll tell you, if I take this city. And having taken it by storm, he sold the prisoners, telling them, If you reproach me again, I will complain to your masters.

[3] Some inhabitants of Ithaca complained of his mariners, that making a descent on the island they had taken away some cattle; But your king, said he, came to Sicily, and did not only take away sheep, but put out the shepherd's eyes, and went his way.

¶ Dion Dion, that deposed Dionysius from the tyranny, when he heard Callippus, whom of all his friends and attendants he trusted most, conspired against him, refused to question him for it, saying: It is better for him to die than to live, who must be weary not only of his enemies, but of his friends too.

¶ Archelaus [1] Archelaus, when one of his companions (and none of the best) begged a golden cup of him, bade the boy give it Euripides; and when the man wondered at him, You, said he, are worthy to ask, but he is worthy to receive it without asking.

[2] A prating barber asked him how he would be trimmed. He answered, In silence.

[3] When Euripides at a banquet embraced fair Agatho and kissed him, although he was no longer beardless, he said, turning to his friends: Do not wonder at it, for the beauty of such as are handsome lasts after autumn.

[4] Timotheus the harper, receiving of him a reward less than his expectation, twitted him for it not obscurely; and once singing the short verse of the chorus, You commend earth-born silver, directed it to him. And Archelaus answered him again singing, But you beg it.

[5] When one sprinkled water upon him, and his friends would have had him punish the man, You are mistaken, said he, he did not sprinkle me, but some other person whom he took me to be.

¶ Philip [1] Theophrastus tells us that Philip, the father of Alexander, was not only greater in his port and success, but also freer from luxury than other kings of his time.

[2] He said the Athenians were happy, if they could find every year ten fit to be chosen generals, since in many years he could find but one fit to be a general, and that was Parmenio.

[3] When he had news brought him of divers and eminent successes in one day, O Fortune, said he, for all these so great kindnesses do me some small mischief.

[4] After he had conquered Greece, some advised him to place garrisons in the cities. No, said he, I had rather be called merciful a great while, than lord a little while.

[5] His friends advised him to banish a railer his court. I will not do it, said he, lest he should go about and rail in many places.

[6] Smicythus accused Nicanor for one that commonly spoke evil of King Philip; and his friends advised him to send for him and punish him. Truly, said he, Nicanor is not the worst of the Macedonians; we ought therefore to consider whether we have given him any cause or not. When he understood therefore that Nicanor, being slighted by the king, was much afflicted with poverty, he ordered a boon should be given him. And when Smicythus reported that Nicanor was continually abounding in the king's praises, You see then, said he, that whether we will be well or ill spoken of is in our own power.

[7] He said he was beholden to the Athenian orators, who by reproaching him made him better both in speech and behavior; for I will endeavor, said he, both by my words and actions to prove them liars /17/.

[8] Such Athenians as he took prisoners in the fight at Chaeronea he dismissed without ransom. When they also demanded their garments and quilts, and on that account accused the Macedonians, Philip laughed and said, Do ye not think these Athenians imagine we beat them at cockal?

[9] In a fight he broke his collar-bone, and the surgeon that had him in cure requested him daily for his reward. Take what you will, said he, for you have the key./18/

[10] There were two brothers called Both and Either; perceiving Either was a good understanding busy fellow and Both a silly fellow and good for little, he said: Either is Both, and Both is Neither.

[11] To some that advised him to deal severely with the Athenians he said: You talk absurdly, who would persuade a man that suffers all things for the sake of glory, to overthrow the theatre of glory.

[12] Being arbitrator betwixt two wicked persons, he commanded one to fly out of Macedonia and the other to pursue him.

[13] Being about to pitch his camp in a likely place, and hearing there was no hay to be had for the cattle, What a life, said he, is ours, since we must live according to the convenience of asses!

[14] Designing to take a strong fort, which the scouts told him was exceeding difficult and impregnable, he asked whether it was so difficult that an ass could not come at it laden with gold.

[15] Lasthenes the Olynthian and his friends being aggrieved, and complaining that some of Philip's retinue called them traitors, These Macedonians, said he, are a rude and clownish people, that call a spade a spade.

[16] He exhorted his son to behave himself courteously toward the Macedonians, and to acquire influence with the people, while he could be affable and gracious during the reign of another.

[17] He advised him also to make friends of men of interest in the cities, both good and bad, that afterwards he might make use of these, and suppress those.

[18] To Philo the Theban, who had been his host and given him entertainment while he remained an hostage at Thebes, and afterwards refused to accept any present from him, he said: Do not take from me the title of invincible, by making me inferior to you in kindness and bounty.

[19] Having taken many prisoners, he was selling them, sitting in an unseemly posture, with his tunic tucked up; when one of the captives to be sold cried out, Spare me, Philip, for our fathers were friends. When Philip asked him, Prithee, how or from whence? Let me come nearer, said he, and I'll tell you. When he was come up to him, he said: Let down your cloak a little lower, for you sit indecently. Whereupon said Philip: Let him go, in truth he wisheth me well and is my friend, though I did not know him.

[20] Being invited to supper, he carried many he took up by the way along with him; and perceiving his host troubled (for his provision was not sufficient), he sent to each of his friends, and bade them reserve a place for the cake. They, believing and expecting it, ate little, and so the supper was enough for all.

[21] It appeared he grieved much at the death of Hipparchus the Euboean. For when somebody said it was time for him to die,–For himself, said he, but he died too soon for me, preventing me by his death from returning him the kindness his friendship deserved.

[22] Hearing that Alexander blamed him for having children by several women, Therefore, saith he to him, since you have many rivals with you for the kingdom, be just and honorable, that you may not receive the kingdom as my gift, but by your own merit. He charged him to be observant of Aristotle, and study philosophy, That you may not, said he, do many things which I now repent of doing.

[23] He made one of Antipater's recommendation a judge; and perceiving afterwards that his hair and beard were colored, he removed him, saying, I could not think one that was faithless in his hair could be trusty in his deeds.

[24] As he sate judge in the cause of one Machaetas, he fell asleep, and for want of minding his arguments, gave judgment against him. And when being enraged he cried out, I appeal; To whom, said he, wilt thou appeal? To you yourself, O king, said he, when you are awake to hear me with attention. Then Philip rousing and coming to himself, and perceiving Machaetas was injured, although he did not reverse the sentence, he paid the fine himself.

[25] When Harpalus, in behalf of Crates his kinsman and intimate friend, who was charged with disgraceful crimes, begged that Crates might pay the fine and so cause the action to be withdrawn and avoid public disgrace;–It is better, said he, that he should be reproached upon his own account, than we for him.

[26] His friends being enraged because the Peloponnesians, to whom he had shown favor, hissed at him in the Olympic games, What then, said he, would they do if we should abuse them?

[27] Awaking after he had overslept himself in the army; I slept, said he, securely, for Antipater watched.

[28] Another time, being asleep in the day-time, while the Grecians fretting with impatience thronged at the gates; Do not wonder, said Parmenio to them, if Philip be now asleep, for while you slept he was awake.

[29] When he corrected a musician at a banquet, and discoursed with him concerning notes and instruments, the musician replied: Far be that dishonor from your majesty, that you should understand these things better than I do.

[30] While he was at variance with his wife Olympia and his son, Demaratus the Corinthian came to him, and Philip asked him how the Grecians held together. Demaratus replied: You had need to enquire how the Grecians agree, who agree so well with your nearest relations. Whereupon he let fall his anger, and was reconciled to them.

[31] A poor old woman petitioned and dunned him often to hear her cause; and he answered, I am not at leisure; the old woman bawled out, Do not reign then. He admired the speech, and immediately heard her and others /19/.

¶ Alexander [1] While Alexander was a boy, Philip had great success in his affairs, at which he did not rejoice, but told the children that were brought up with him, My father will leave me nothing to do. The children answered, Your father gets all this for you. But what good, saith he, will it do me, if I possess much and do nothing?

[2] Being nimble and light-footed, his father encouraged him to run in the Olympic race; Yes, said he, if there were any kings there to run with me.

[3] A wench being brought to lie with him late in the evening, he asked why she tarried so long. She answered, I staid until my husband was abed; and he sharply reproved his pages, because through their carelessness he had almost committed adultery.

[4] As he was sacrificing to the Gods liberally, and often offered frankincense, Leonidas his tutor standing by said, O son, thus generously will you sacrifice, when you have conquered the country that bears frankincense. And when he had conquered it, he sent him this letter: I have sent you an hundred talents of frankincense and cassia, that hereafter you may not be niggardly towards the Gods, when you understand I have conquered the country in which perfumes grow.

[5] The night before he fought at the river Granicus, he exhorted the Macedonians to sup plentifully and to bring out all they had, as they were to sup the next day at the charge of their enemies.

[6] Perillus, one of his friends, begged of him portions for his daughters; and he ordered him to receive fifty talents. And when he said, Ten were enough, Alexander replied: Enough for you to receive, but not for me to give.

[7] He commanded his steward to give Anaxarchus the philosopher as much as he should ask for. He asketh, said the steward, for an hundred talents. He doth well, said he, knowing he hath a friend that both can and will bestow so much on him /20/.

[8] Seeing at Miletus many statues of wrestlers that had overcome in the Olympic and Pythian games, And where, said he, were these lusty fellows when the barbarians assaulted your city?

[9] When Ada queen of Caria was ambitious often to send him sauces and sweetmeats delicately prepared by the best cooks and artists, he said, I have better confectioners of my own, viz., my night-travelling for my breakfast, and my spare breakfast for my dinner.

[10] All things being prepared for a fight, his captains asked him whether he had any thing else to command them. Nothing, said he, but that the Macedonians should shave their beards. Parmenio wondering at it, Do you not know, said he, there is no better hold in a fight than the beard?

[11] When Darius offered him ten thousand talents, and to divide Asia equally with him; I would accept it, said Parmenio, were I Alexander. And so truly would I, said Alexander, if I were Parmenio. But he answered Darius, that the earth could not bear two suns, nor Asia two kings /21/

[12] When he was going to fight for the world at Arbela, against ten hundred thousand enemies set in array against him, some of his friends came to him, and told him the discourse of the soldiers in their tents, who had agreed that nothing of the spoils should be brought into the treasury, but they would have all themselves. You tell me good news, said he, for I hear the discourse of men that intend to fight, and not to run away. Several of his soldiers came to him and said: O King! be of good courage, and fear not the multitude of your enemies, for they will not be able to endure the very stink of our sweat.

[13] The army being marshalled, he saw a soldier fitting his thong to his javelin, and dismissed him as a useless fellow, for fitting his weapons when he should use them.

[14] As he was reading a letter from his mother, containing secrets and accusations of Antipater, Hephaestion also (as he was wont) read it along with him. Alexander did not hinder him; but when the letter was read, he took his ring off his finger, and laid the seal of it upon Hephaestion's mouth.

[15] Being saluted as the son of Jupiter in the temple of Ammon by the chief priest; It is no wonder, said he, for Jupiter is by nature the father of all, and calls the best men his sons.

[16] When he was wounded with an arrow in the ankle, and many ran to him that were wont to call him a God, he said smiling: That is blood, as you see, and not, as Homer saith,–

Such humor as distils from blessed Gods. /22/

[17] To some that commended the frugality of Antipater, whose diet was sober and without luxury; Outwardly, said he, Antipater wears white clothes, but within he is all purple.

[18] In a cold winter day one of his friends invited him to a banquet, and there being a little fire on a small hearth, he bid him fetch either wood or frankincense.

[19] Antipatridas brought a beautiful singing woman to supper with him; Alexander, being taken with her visage, asked Antipatridas whether she was his miss or not. And when he confessed she was; O villain, said he, turn her immediately out from the banquet.

[20] Again, when Cassander forced a kiss from Pytho, a boy beloved by Evius the piper, and Alexander perceived that Evius was concerned at it, he was extremely enraged at Cassander, and said with a loud voice, It seems nobody must be loved if you can help it.

[21] When he sent such of the Macedonians as were sick and maimed to the sea, they showed him one that was in health and yet subscribed his name among the sick; being brought into the presence and examined, he confessed he used that pretence for the love of Telesippa, who was going to the sea. Alexander asked, of whom he could make inquiries about this Telesippa, and hearing she was a free woman, he said. Therefore, my Antigenes, let us persuade her to stay with us, for to force her to do so when she is a free woman is not according to my custom.

[22] Of the mercenary Grecians that fought against him he took many prisoners. He commanded the Athenians should be kept in chains, because they served for wages when they were allowed a public maintenance; and the Thessalians, because when they had a fruitful country they did not till it; but he set the Thebans free, saying, To them only I have left neither city nor country.

[23] He took captive an excellent Indian archer that said he could shoot an arrow through a ring, and commanded him to show his skill; and when the man refused to do this, he commanded him in a rage to be put to death. The man told them that led him to execution that, not having practised for many days, he was afraid he should miss. Alexander, hearing this, wondered at him and dismissed him with rewards, because he chose rather to die than show himself unworthy of his reputation.

[24] Taxiles, one of the Indian kings, met Alexander, and advised him not to make war nor fight with him, but if he were a meaner person than himself, to receive kindness from him, or if he were a better man, to show kindness to him. He answered, that was the very thing they must fight for, who should exceed the other in bounty.

[25] When he heard the rock called Aornus in India was by its situation impregnable, but the commander of it was a coward; Then, said he, the place is easy to be taken.

[26] Another, commanding a rock thought to be invincible, surrendered himself and the rock to Alexander, who committed the said rock and the adjacent country to his government, saying: I take this for a wise man, who chose rather to commit himself to a good man than to a strong place.

[27] When the rock was taken, his friends said that it exceeded the deeds of Hercules. But I, said he, do not think my actions and all my empire to be compared with one word of Hercules.

[28] He fined some of his friends whom he caught playing at dice in earnest.

[29] Of his chief and most powerful friends, he seemed most to respect Craterus, and to love Hephaestion. Craterus, said he, is the friend of the king; but Hephaestion is the friend of Alexander.

[30] He sent fifty talents to Xenocrates the philosopher, who would not receive them, saying he was not in want. And he asked whether Xenocrates had no friend either; For as to myself, said he, the treasure of Darius is hardly sufficient for me to bestow among my friends.

[31] He demanded of Porus, after the fight, how he should treat him. Royally, said he, like a king. And being again asked, what farther he had to request; All things, said he, are in that word royally. Admiring his wisdom and valor, he gave him a greater government than he had before.

[32] Being told a certain person reviled him, To do good, said he, and to be evil spoken of is kingly.

[33] As he was dying, looking upon his friends, I see, said he, my funeral tournament will be great.

[34] When he was dead, Demades the rhetorician likened the Macedonia army without a general to Polyphemus the Cyclops when his eye was put out.

¶ Ptolemy Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, frequently supped with his friends and lay at their houses; and if at any time he invited them to supper, he made use of their furniture, sending for vessels, carpets, and tables; for he himself had only things that were of constant use about him, saying it was more becoming a king to make others rich than to be rich himself.

¶ Antigonus [1] Antigonus exacted money severely. When one told him that Alexander did not do so, It may be so, said he; Alexander reaped Asia, and I but glean after him.

[2] Seeing some soldiers playing at ball in head-pieces and breast-plates, he was pleased, and sent for their officers, intending to commend them; but when he heard the officers were drinking, he bestowed their commands on the soldiers.

[3] When all men wondered that in his old age his government was mild and easy; Formerly, said he, I sought for power, but now for glory and good-will.

[4] To Philip his son, who asked him in the presence of many when the army would march, What, said he, are you afraid that you only should not hear the trumpet?

[5] The same young man being desirous to quarter at a widow's house that had three handsome daughters, Antigonus called the quartermaster to him: Prithee, said he, help my son out of these straits.

[6] Recovering from a slight disease, he said: No harm; this distemper puts me in mind not to aim at great things, since we are mortal.

[7] Hermodotus in his poems called him Son of the Sun. He that attends my close-stool, said he, sings me no such song.

[8] When one said, All things in kings are just and honorable,–Indeed, said he, for barbarian kings; but for us only honorable things are honorable, and only just things are just.

[9] Marsyas his brother had a cause depending, and requested him it might be examined at his house. Nay, said he, it shall be heard in the judgment-hall, that all may hear whether we do exact justice or not.

[10] In the winter being forced to pitch his camp where necessaries were scarce, some of his soldiers reproached him, not knowing he was near. He opened the tent with his cane, saying: Woe be to you, unless you get you farther off when you revile me.

[11] Aristodemus, one of his friends, supposed to be a cook's son, advised him to moderate his gifts and expenses. Thy words, said he, Aristodemus, smell of the apron.

[12] The Athenians, out of a respect to him, gave one of his servants the freedom of their city. And I would not, said he, have any Athenian whipped by my command.

[13] A youth, scholar to Anaximenes the rhetorician, spoke in his presence a prepared and studied speech; and he asking something which he desired to learn, the youth was silent. What do you say, said he, is all that you have said written in your table-book?

[14] When he heard another rhetorician say, The snow-spread season makes the country fodder spent; Will you not stop, said he, prating to me as you do to the rabble?

[15] Thrasyllus the Cynic begged a drachm of him. That, said he, is too little for a king to give. Why then, said the other, give me a talent. And that, said he, is too much for a Cynic (or for a dog) to receive.

[16] Sending his son Demetrius with ships and land-forces to make Greece free; Glory, said he, from Greece, as from a watch-tower, will shine throughout the world.

[17] Antagoras the poet was boiling a conger, and Antigonus, coming behind him as he was stirring his skillet, said: Do you think, Antagoras, that Homer boiled congers, when he wrote the deeds of Agamemnon? Antagoras replied: Do you think, O King, that Agamemnon, when he did such exploits, was a peeping in his army to see who boiled congers?

[18] After he had seen in a dream Mithridates mowing a golden harvest, he designed to kill him, and acquainted Demetrius his son with his design, making him swear to conceal it. But Demetrius, taking Mithridates aside and walking with him by the seaside, with the pick of his spear wrote on the shore, "Mithridates;" which he understanding, fled into Pontus, and there reigned until his death.

¶ Demetrius [1] Demetrius, while he was besieging Rhodes, found in one of the suburbs the picture of Ialysus made by Protogenes the painter. The Rhodians sent a herald to him, beseeching him not to deface the picture. I will sooner, said he, deface my father's statues, than such a picture. When he made a league with the Rhodians, he left behind him an engine, called the City Taker, that it might be a memorial of his magnificence and of their courage.

[2] When the Athenians rebelled, and he took the city, which had been distressed for want of provision, he called an assembly and gave them corn. And while he made a speech to them concerning that affair, he spoke improperly; and when one that sat by told him how the word ought to be spoken, he said: For this correction I bestow upon you five thousand bushels more.

¶ Antigonus the Second [1] Antigonus the Second–when his father was a prisoner, and sent one of his friends to admonish him to pay no regard to any thing that he might write at the constraint of Seleucus, and to enter into no obligation to surrender up the cities–wrote to Seleucus that he would give up his whole kingdom, and himself for an hostage, that his father might be set free.

[2] Being about to fight by sea with the lieutenants of Ptolemy, and the pilot telling him the enemy outnumbered him in ships, he said: But how many ships do you reckon my presence to be worth?

[3] Once when he gave ground, his enemies pressing upon him, he denied that he fled; but he betook himself (as he said) to an advantage that lay behind him.

[4] To a youth, son of a valiant father, but himself no very great soldier, petitioning he might receive his father's pay; Young man, said he, I pay and reward men for their own, not for their fathers' valor.

[5] When Zeno of Citium, whom he admired beyond all philosophers, died, he said, The theatre of my actions is fallen.

¶ Lysimachus [1] Lysimachus, when he was overcome by Dromichaetas in Thrace and constrained by thirst, surrendered himself and his army. When he was a prisoner, and had drunk; O Gods, said he, for how small a satisfaction have I made myself a slave from a king!

[2] To Philippides the comedian, his friend and companion, he said: What have I that I may impart to you? He answered, What you please, except your secrets.

¶ Antipater [1] Antipater, hearing that Parmenio was slain by Alexander, said: If Parmenio conspired against Alexander, whom may we trust? but if he did not, what is to be done?

[2] Of Demandes the rhetorician, now grown old, he said: As of sacrifices when finished, so there is nothing left of him but his belly and tongue.

¶ Antiochus the Third [1] Antiochus the Third wrote to the cities, that if he should at any time write for any thing to be done contrary to the law, they should not obey, but suppose it to be done out of ignorance.

[2] When he saw the Priestess of Diana, that she was exceeding beautiful, he presently removed from Ephesus, lest he should be swayed, contrary to his judgment, to commit some unholy act.

¶ Cyrus the Younger Antiochus the Hawk Antiochus, surnamed the Hawk, warred with his brother Seleucus for the kingdom. After Seleucus was overcome by the Galatians, and was not to be heard of, but supposed to be slain in the fight, he laid aside his purple and went into mourning. A while after, hearing his brother was safe, he sacrificed to the Gods for the good news, and caused the cities under his dominion to put on garlands.

¶ Eumenes Eumenes was thought to be slain by a conspiracy of Perseus. That report being brought to Pergamus, Attalus his brother put on the crown, married his wife, and took upon him the kingdom. Hearing afterwards his brother was alive and upon the way, he met him, as he used to do, with his life-guard, and a spear in his hand. Eumenes embraced him kindly, and whispered in his ear:–

If a widow you will wed,
Wait till you're sure her husband's dead.

But he never afterwards did or spake any thing that showed any suspicion all his lifetime; but when he died, be bequeathed to him his queen and kingdom. In requital of which, his brother bred up none of his own children, although he had many; but when the son of Eumenes was grown up, he bestowed the kingdom on him in his own lifetime.

¶ Pyrrhus the Epriot [1] Pyrrhus was asked by his sons, when they were boys, to whom he would leave the kingdom. To him of you, saith he, that hath the sharpest sword.

[2] Being asked whether Pytho or Caphisius was the better piper, Polysperchon, said he, is the best general.

[3] He joined in battle with the Romans, and twice overcame them, but with the loss of many friends and captains. If I should overcome the Romans, said he, in another fight, I were undone.

[4] Not being able to keep Sicily (as he said) from them, turning to his friends he said: What a fine wrestling ring do we leave to the Romans and Carthaginians!

[5] His soldiers called him Eagle; And I may deserve the title, said he, while I am borne upon the wings of your arms.

[6] Hearing some young men had spoken many reproachful words of him in their drink, he summoned them all to appear before him next day; when they appeared, ne asked the foremost whether they spake such things of him or not. The young man answered: Such words were spoken, O King, and more we had spoken, if we had had more wine.

¶ Antiochus [1] Antiochus, who twice made an inroad into Parthia, as he was once a hunting, lost his friends and servants in the pursuit, and went into a cottage of poor people who did not know him. As they were at supper, he threw out discourse concerning the king; they said for the most part he was a good prince, but overlooked many things he left to the management of debauched courtiers, and out of love of hunting often neglected his necessary affairs; and there they stopped. At break of day the guard arrived at the cottage, and the king was recognized when the crown and purple robes were brought. From the day, said he, on which I first received these, I never heard truth concerning myself till yesterday.

[2] When he besieged Jerusalem, the Jews, in respect of their great festival, begged of him seven days' truce; which he not only granted, but preparing oxen with gilded horns, with a great quantity of incense and perfumes, he went before them to the very gates, and having delivered them as a sacrifice to their priests, he returned back to his army. The Jews wondered at him, and as soon as their festival was finished, surrendered themselves to him.

¶ Themistocles [1] Themistocles in his youth was much given to wine and women. But after Miltiades the general overcame the Persian at Marathon, Themistocles utterly forsook his former disorders; and to such as wondered at the change, he said, The trophy of Miltiades will neither suffer me to sleep nor to be idle.

[2] Being asked whether he would rather be Achilles or Homer,–And pray, said he, which would you rather be, a conqueror in the Olympic games, or the crier that proclaims who are conquerors?

[3] When Xerxes with that great navy made a descent upon Greece, he fearing, if Epicydes (a popular, but a covetous, corrupt, and cowardly person were made general, the city might be lost, bribed him with a sum of money to desist from that pretence.

[4] Adimantus was afraid to hazard a sea-fight, whereunto Themistocles persuaded and encouraged the Grecians. O Themistocles, said he, those that start before their time in the Olympic games are always scourged. Aye; but, Adimantus, said the other, they that are left behind are not crowned. [5] Eurybiades lifted up his cane at him, as if he would strike him. Strike, said he, but hear me.

[6] When he could not persuade Eurybiades to fight in the straits of the sea, he sent privately to Xerxes, advising him that he need not fear the Grecians, for they were running away. Xerxes upon this persuasion, fighting in a place advantageous for the Grecians, was worsted; and then he sent him another message, and bade him fly with all speed over the Hellespont, for the Grecians designed to break down his bridge; that under pretence of saving him he might secure the Grecians.

[7] A man from the little island Seriphus told him, he was famous not upon his own account but through the city where he lived. You say true, said he, for if I had been a Seriphian, I had not been famous; nor would you, if you had been an Athenian.

[8] To Antiphatus, a beautiful person that avoided and despised Themistocles when he formerly loved him, but came to him and flattered him when he was in great power and esteem; Hark you, lad, said he, though late, yet both of us are wise at last.

[9] To Simonides desiring him to give an unjust sentence, You would not be a good poet, said he, if you should sing out of tune; nor I a good governor, if I should give judgment contrary to law.

[10] When his son was a little saucy towards his mother, he said that this boy had more power than all the Grecians, for the Athenians governed Greece, he the Athenians, his wife him, and his son his wife.

[11] He preferred an honest man that wooed his daughter, before a rich man. I would rather, said he, have a man that wants money, than money that wants a man.

[12] Having a farm to sell, he bid the crier proclaim also that it had a good neighbor.

[13] When the Athenians reviled him; Why do you complain, said he, that the same persons so often befriend you? And he compared himself to a row of plane-trees, under which in a storm passengers run for shelter, but in fair weather they pluck the leaves off and abuse them.

[14] Scoffing at the Eretrians, he said, Like the sword-fish, they have a sword indeed, but no heart.

[15] Being banished first out of Athens and afterwards out of Greece, he betook himself to the king of Persia, who bade him speak his mind. Speech, he said, was like to tapestry; and like it, when it was spread, it showed its figures, but when it was folded up, hid and spoiled them. [16] And therefore he requested time until he might learn the Persian tongue, and could explain himself without an interpreter.

[17] Having there received great presents, and being enriched of a sudden; O lads, said he to his sons, we had been undone if we had not been undone.

¶ Myronides Myronides summoned the Athenians to fight against the Boeotians. When the time was almost come, and the captains told him they were not near all come out; They are come, said he, all that intend to fight. And marching while their spirits were up, he overcame his enemies.

¶ Aristides [1] Aristides the Just always managed his offices himself, and avoided all political clubs, because power gotten by the assistance of friends was an encouragement to the unjust.

[2] When the Athenians were fully bent to banish him by an ostracism, an illiterate country fellow came to him with his shell, and asked him to write in it the name of Aristides. Friend, said he, do you know Aristides? Not I, said the fellow, but I do not like his surname of Just. He said no more, but wrote his name in the shell and gave it him.

[3] He was at variance with Themistocles, who was sent on an embassy with him. Are you content, said he, Themistocles, to leave our enmity at the borders? and if you please, we will take it up again at our return.

[4] When he levied an assessment upon the Greeks, he returned poorer by so much as he spent in the journey.

[5] Aeschylus wrote these verses on Amphiaraus:–

His shield no emblem bears; his generous soul
Wishes to be, not to appear, the best;
While the deep furrows of his noble mind
Harvests of wise and prudent counsel bear.

And when they were pronounced in the theatre, all turned their eyes upon Aristides.

¶ Pericles [1] Whenever he entered on his command as general, while he was putting on his war-cloak, he used thus to bespeak himself: Remember, Pericles, you govern freemen, Grecians, Athenians.

[2] He advised the Athenians to demolish Aegina, as a dangerous eyesore to the haven of Piraeus.

[3] To a friend that wanted him to bear false witness and to bind the same with an oath, he said: I am a friend only as far as the altar.

[4] When he lay on his deathbed, he blessed himself that no Athenian ever went into mourning upon his account.

¶ Alcibiades [1] Alcibiades while he was a boy, wrestling in a ring, seeing he could not break his adversary's hold, bit him by the hand; who cried out, You bite like a woman. Not so, said he, but like a lion.

[2] He had a very handsome dog, that cost him seven thousand drachmas; and he cut off his tail, that, said he, the Athenians may have this story to tell of me, and may concern themselves no farther with me.

[3] Coming into a school, he called for Homer's Iliads; and when the master told him he had none of Homer's works, he gave him a box on the ear, and went his way.

[4] He came to Pericles's gate, and being told he was busy a preparing his accounts to be given to the people of Athens, Had he not better, said he, contrive how he might give no account at all?

[5] Being summoned by the Athenians out of Sicily to plead for his life, he absconded, saying, that criminal was a fool who studied a defence when he might fly for it.

[6] But, said one, will you not trust your country with your cause? No, said he, nor my mother either, lest she mistake and cast a black pebble instead of a white one.

[7] When he heard death was decreed to him and his associates, Let us convince them, said he, that we are alive. And passing over to Lacedaemon, he stirred up the Decelean war against the Athenians.

¶ Lamachus Lamachus chid a captain for a fault; and when he had said he would do so no more, Sir, said he, in war there is no room for a second miscarriage.

¶ Iphicrates [1] Iphicrates was despised because he was thought to be a shoemaker's son. The exploit that first brought him into repute was this: when he was wounded himself, he caught up one of the enemies and carried him alive and in his armor to his own ship.

[2] He once pitched his camp in a country belonging to his allies and confederates, and yet he fortified it exactly with a trench and bulwark. Said one to him, What are ye afraid of? Of all speeches, said he, none is so dishonorable for a general, as I should not have thought it.

[3] As he marshalled his army to fight with barbarians, I am afraid, said he, they do not know Iphicrates, for his very name used to strike terror into other enemies.

[4] Being accused of a capital crime, he said to the informer: O fellow! what art thou doing, who, when war is at hand, dost advise the city to consult concerning me, and not with me?

[5] To Harmodius, descended from the ancient Harmodius, when he reviled him for his mean birth, My nobility, said he, begins in me, but yours ends in you.

[6] A rhetorician asked him in an assembly, who he was that he took so much upon him,–horseman, or footman, or archer, or shield-bearer. Neither of them, said he, but one that understands how to command all those.

¶ Timotheus Timotheus was reputed a successful general, and some that envied him painted cities falling under his net of their own accord, while he was asleep. Said Timotheus, If I take such cities when I am asleep, what do you think I shall do when I am awake? A confident commander showed the Athenians a wound he had received. But I, said he, when I was your general in Samos, was ashamed that a dart from an engine fell near me. The orators set up Chares as one they thought fit to be general of the Athenians. Not to be general, said Timotheus, but to carry the general's baggage.

¶ Charbrias [1] Chabrias said, they were the best commanders who best understood the affairs of their enemies.

[2] He was once indicted for treason with Iphicrates, who blamed him for exposing himself to danger, by going to the place of exercise, and dining at his usual hour. If the Athenians, said he, deal severely with us, you will die all foul and gut-foundered; I'll die clean and anointed, with my dinner in my belly.

[3] He was wont to say, that an army of stags, with a lion for their commander, was more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag.

¶ Hegesippus When Hegesippus, surnamed Crobylus (i.e. Top-knot), instigated the Athenians against Philip, one of the assembly cried out, You would not persuade us to a war? Yes, indeed, would I, said he, and to mourning clothes and to public funerals and to funeral speeches, if we intend to live free and not submit to the pleasure of the Macedonians.

¶ Pytheas Pytheas, when he was a young man, stood forth to oppose the decrees made concerning Alexander. One said: Have you, young man, the confidence to speak in such weighty affairs? And why not? said he: Alexander, whom you voted a God, is younger than I am.

¶ Phocion [1] Phocion the Athenian was never seen to laugh or cry.

[2] In an assembly one told him, You seem to be thoughtful, Phocion. You guess right, said he, for I am contriving how to contract what I have to say to the people of Athens.

[3] The Oracle told the Athenians, there was one man in the city of a contrary judgment to all the rest; and the Athenians in a hubbub ordered search to be made, who this should be. I, said Phocion, am the man; I alone am pleased with nothing the common people say or do.

[4] Once when he had delivered an opinion which pleased the people, and perceived it was entertained by a general consent, he turned to his friend, and said: Have I not unawares spoken some mischievous thing or other?

[5] The Athenians gathered a benevolence for a certain sacrifice; and when others contributed to it, he being often spoken to said: I should be ashamed to give to you, and not to pay this man,–pointing to one of his creditors.

[6] Demosthenes the orator told him, If the Athenians should be mad, they would kill you. Like enough, said he, me if they were mad, but you if they were wise.

[7] Aristogiton the informer, being condemned and ready to be executed in prison, entreated that Phocion would come to him. And when his friends would not suffer him to go to so vile a person; And where, said he, would you discourse with Aristogiton more pleasantly?

[8] The Athenians were offended with the Byzantines, for refusing to receive Chares into their city, who was sent with forces to assist them against Philip. Said Phocion, You ought not to be displeased with the distrust of your confederates, but with your commanders that are not to be trusted. Whereupon he was chosen general, and being trusted by the Byzantines, he forced Philip to return without his errand.

[9] King Alexander sent him a present of a hundred talents; and he asked those that brought it, what it should mean that, of all the Athenians, Alexander should be thus kind to him. They answered, because he esteemed him alone to be a worthy and upright person. Pray therefore, said he, let him suffer me to seem as well as to be so.

[10] Alexander sent to them for some ships, and the people calling for Phocion by name, bade him speak his opinion. He stood up and told them: I advise you either to conquer yourselves, or else to side with the conqueror.

[11] An uncertain rumor happened, that Alexander was dead. Immediately the orators leaped into the pulpit, and advised them to make war without delay; but Phocion entreated them to tarry awhile and know the certainty: For, said he, if he is dead to-day, he will be dead to-morrow, and so forwards.

[12] Leosthenes hurried the city into a war, with fond hopes conceited at the name of liberty and command. Phocion compared his speeches to cypress-trees; They are tall, said he, and comely, but bear no fruit. However, the first attempts were successful; and when the city was sacrificing for the good news, he was asked whether he did not wish he had done this himself. I would, said he, have done what has been done, but have advised what I did.

[13] When the Macedonians invaded Attica and plundered the seacoasts, he drew out the youth. When many came to him and generally persuaded him by all means to possess himself of such an ascent, and thereon to marshal his army, O Hercules! said he, how many commanders do I see, and how few soldiers? Yet he fought and overcame, and slew Nicion, the commander of the Macedonians.

[14] But in a short time the Athenians were overcome, and admitted a garrison sent by Antipater. Menyllus, the governor of that garrison, offered money to Phocion, who was enraged thereby and said: This man is no better than Alexander; and what I refused then I can with less honor receive now.

[15] Antipater said, of the two friends he had at Athens, he could never persuade Phocion to accept a present, nor could he ever satisfy Demades with presents.

[16] When Antipater requested him to do some indirect thing or other, Antipater, said he, you cannot have Phocion for your friend and flatterer too.

[17] After the death of Antipater, democracy was established in Athens, and the assembly decreed the death of Phocion and his friends. The rest were led weeping to execution; but as Phocion passed silently, one of his enemies met him and spat in his face. But he turned himself to the magistrates, and said, Will nobody restrain this insolent fellow?

[18] One of those that were to suffer with him lamented and took on: Why, Euippus, said he, are you not pleased that you die with Phocion?

[19] When the cup of hemlock was brought to him, being asked whether he had any thing to say to his son; I command you, said he, and entreat you not to think of any revenge upon the Athenians.

¶ Pisistratus [1] Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, when some of his party revolted from him and possessed themselves of Phyle, came to them bearing his baggage on his back. They asked him what he meant by it. Either, said he, to persuade you to return with me, or if I cannot persuade you, to tarry with you; and therefore I come prepared accordingly.

[2] An accusation was brought to him against his mother, that she was in love and used secret familiarity with a young man, who out of fear for the most part refused her. This young man he invited to supper, and as they were at supper asked him how he liked his entertainment. He answered, Very well. Thus, said he, you shall be treated daily, if you please my mother.

[3] Thrasybulus was in love with his daughter, and as he met her, kissed her; whereupon his wife would have incensed him against Thrasybulus. If, said he, we hate those that love us, what shall we do to them that hate us?–and he gave the maid in marriage to Thrasybulus.

[4] Some lascivious drunken persons by chance met his wife, and used unseemly speech and behavior to her; but the next day they begged his pardon with tears. As for you, said he, learn to be sober for the future; but as for my wife, yesterday she was not abroad at all.

[5] He designed to marry another wife, and his children asked him whether he could blame them for any thing. By no means, said he, but I commend you, and desire to have more such children as you are.

¶ Demetrius Phalereus Demetrius Phalereus persuaded King Ptolemy to get and study such books as treated of government and conduct; for those things are written in books which the friends of kings dare not advise.

¶ Lycurgus [1] Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian brought long hair into fashion among his countrymen, saying that it rendered those that were handsome more beautiful, and those that were deformed more terrible.

[2] To one that advised him to set up a democracy in Sparta, Pray, said he, do you first set up a democracy in your own house.

[3] He ordained that houses should be built with saws and axes only, thinking they would be ashamed to bring plate, tapestry, and costly tables into such pitiful houses.

[4] He forbade them to contend at boxing or in the double contest of boxing and wrestling, that they might not accustom themselves to be conquered, no, not so much as in jest.

[5] He forbade them also to war often against the same people, lest they should make them the more warlike. Accordingly, many years after, when Agesilaus was wounded, Antalcidas told him the Thebans had rewarded him worthily for teaching and accustoming them to war, whether they would or no.

¶ Charillus [1] King Charillus, being asked why Lycurgus made so few laws, answered, They who use few words do not need many laws.

[2] When one of the Helots behaved rather too insolently towards him, By Castor and Pollux, said he, I would kill you, were I not angry.

[3] To one that asked him why the Spartans wore long hair, Because, said he, of all ornaments that is the cheapest.

¶ Teleclus King Teleclus, when his brother inveighed against the citizens for not giving him that respect which they did to the king, said to him, No wonder, you do not know how to bear injury.

¶ Theopompus Theopompus, to one that showed him the walls of a city, and asked him if they were not high and beautiful, answered, No, not even if they are built for women.

¶ Archidamus Archidamus, in the Peloponnesian war, when his allies requested him to appoint them their quota of tributes, replied, War has a very irregular appetite.

¶ Brasidas [1] Brasidas caught a mouse among his dried figs, which bit him, and he let it go. Whereupon, turning to the company, Nothing, said he, is so small which may not save itself, if it have the valor to defend itself against its aggressors.

[2] In a fight he was shot through his shield, and plucking the spear out of his wound, with the same he slew his adversary. When he was asked how he came to be wounded, My shield, said he, betrayed me.

[3] It was his fortune to be slain in battle, as he endeavored to liberate the Grecians that were in Thrace. These sent an embassy to Lacedaemon, which made a visit to his mother, who first asked them whether Brasidas died honorably. When the Thracians praised him, and affirmed that there would never be such another man, My friends, said she, you are mistaken; Brasidas indeed was a valiant man, but Lacedaemon hath many more valiant men than he.

¶ Agis [1] King Agis said, The Lacedaemonians are not wont to ask how many, but where the enemy are.

[2] At Mantinea he was advised not to fight the enemy that exceeded him in number. It is necessary, said he, for him to fight with many, who would rule over many.

[3] The Eleans were commended for managing the Olympic games honorably. What wonder, said he, do they do, if one day in four years they do justice? When the same persons enlarged in their commendation, What wonder is it, said he, if they use justice honorably, which is an honorable thing?

[4] To a lewd person, that often asked who was the best man among the Spartans, he answered, He that is most unlike you.

[5] When another asked what was the number of the Lacedaemonians,–Sufficient, said he, to defend themselves from wicked men.

[6] To another that asked him the same question, If you should see them fight, said he, you would think them to be many.

¶ Lysander [1] Dionysius the Tyrant presented Lysander's daughters with rich garments, which he refused to accept, saying he feared they would seem more deformed in them.

[2] To such as blamed him for managing much of his affairs by stratagems, which was unworthy of Hercules from whom he was descended, he answered, Where the lion's skin will not reach, it must be pieced with the fox's.

[3] When the citizens of Argos seemed to make out a better title than the Lacedaemonians to a country that was in dispute between them, drawing his sword, He that is master of this, said he, can best dispute about bounds of countries.

[4] When the Lacedaemonians delayed to assault the walls of Corinth, and he saw a hare leap out of the trench; Do you fear, said he, such enemies as these, whose laziness suffers hares to sleep on their walls?

[5] To an inhabitant of Megara, that in a parley spoke confidently unto him, Your words, said he, want the breeding of the city.

¶ Agesilaus [1] Agesilaus said that the inhabitants of Asia were bad freemen and good servants.

[2] When they were wont to call the king of Persia the Great King, Wherein, said he, is he greater than I, if he is not more just and wise than I am?

[3] Being asked which was better, valor or justice, he answered, We should have no need of valor, if we were all just.

[4] When he broke up his camp suddenly by night in the enemy's country, and saw a lad he loved left behind by reason of sickness, and weeping, It is a hard thing, said he, to be pitiful and wise at the same time.

[5] Menecrates the physician, surnamed Jupiter, inscribed a letter to him thus: Menecrates Jupiter to King Agesilaus wisheth joy. And he returned in answer: King Agesilaus to Menecrates wisheth his wits.

[6] When the Lacedaemonians overcame the Athenians and their confederates at Corinth, and he heard the number of the enemies that were slain; Alas, said he, for Greece, who hath destroyed so many of her men as were enough to have conquered all the barbarians together.

[7] He had received an answer from the Oracle of Jupiter in Olympia, which was to his satisfaction. Afterwards the Ephori bade him consult Apollo in the same case; and to Delphi he went, and asked that God whether he was of the same mind with his father.

[8] He interceded for one of his friends with Idrieus of Caria, and wrote to him thus: If Nicias has not offended, set him free; but if he is guilty, set him free for my sake; by all means set him free.

[9] Being exhorted to hear one that imitated the voice of a nightingale, I have often, said he, heard nightingales themselves. The law ordained that such as ran away should be disgraced.

[10] After the fight at Leuctra, the Ephori, seeing the city void of men, were willing to dispense with that disgrace, and empowered Agesilaus to make a law to that purpose. But he standing in the midst commanded that after the next day the laws should remain in force as before.

[11] He was sent to assist the king of Egypt, with whom he was besieged by enemies that outnumbered his own forces; and when they had entrenched their camp, the king commanded him to go out and fight them. Since, said he, they intend to make themselves equal to us, I will not hinder them. When the trench was almost finished, he drew up his men in the void space, and so fighting with equal advantage he overcame them.

[12] When he was dying, he charged his friends that no fiction or counterfeit (so he called statues) should be made for him; For if, said he, I have done any honorable exploit, that is my monument; but if I have done none, all your statues will signify nothing.

¶ Archidamus When Archidamus, the son of Agesilaus, beheld a dart to be shot from an engine newly brought out of Sicily, he cried out, O Hercules! the valor of man is at an end.

¶ Agis the Younger [1] Demades said, the Laconians' swords were so small, that jugglers might swallow them. That may be, said Agis, but the Lacedaemonians can reach their enemies very well with them.

[2] The Ephori ordered him to deliver his soldiers to a traitor. I will not, said he, entrust him with strangers, who betrayed his own men.

¶ Cleomenes To one that promised to give him hardy cocks, that would die fighting, Prithee, said he, give me cocks that will kill fighting.

¶ Paedaretus Paedaretus, when he was not chosen among the Three Hundred (which was the highest office and honor in the city), went away cheerfully and smiling, saying, he was glad if the city had three hundred better citizens than himself.

¶ Damonidas Damonidas, being placed by him that ordered the chorus in the last rank of it, said: Well done, you have found a way to make this place also honorable.

¶ Nicostratus Archidamus, general of the Argives, enticed Nicostratus to betray a fort, by promises of a great sum, and the marriage of what Lacedaemonian lady he pleased except the king's daughters. He answered, that Archidamus was none of the offspring of Hercules, for he went about to punish wicked men, but Archidamus to corrupt honest men.

¶ Eudaemonidas [1] Eudaemonidas beholding Xenocrates, when he was old, in the Academy reading philosophy to his scholars, and being told he was in quest of virtue, asked: And when does he intend to practise it?

[2] Another time, when he heard a philosopher arguing that only the wise man can be a good general, This is a wonderful speech, said he, but he that saith it never heard the sound of trumpets.

¶ Antiochus Antiochus being Ephor, when he heard Philip had given the Messenians a country, asked whether he had granted them that they should be victorious when they fought for that country.

¶ Antalcidas [1] To an Athenian that called the Lacedaemonians unlearned, Therefore we alone, said Antalcidas, have learned no mischief of you.

[2] To another Athenian that told him, Indeed, we have often driven you from the Cephissus, he replied, But we never drove you from the Eurotas.

[3] When a Sophist was beginning to recite the praise of Hercules; And who, said he, ever spoke against him?

¶ Epaminondas [1] No panic fear ever surprised the army of the Thebans while Epaminondas was their general.

[2] He said, to die in war was the most honorable death, [3] and the bodies of armed men ought to be exercised, not as wrestlers, but in a warlike manner. Wherefore he hated fat men, and dismissed one of them, saying, that three or four shields would scarce serve to secure his belly, which would not suffer him to see his members.

[4] He was so frugal in his diet that, being invited by a neighbor to supper, and finding there dishes, ointments, and junkets in abundance, he departed immediately, saying: I thought you were sacrificing, and not displaying your luxury.

[5] When his cook gave an account to his colleagues of the charges for several days, he was offended only at the quantity of oil; and when his colleagues wondered at him, I am not, said he, troubled at the charge, but that so much oil should be received into my body.

[6] When the city kept a festival, and all gave themselves to banquets and drinking, he was met by one of his acquaintance unadorned and in a thoughtful posture. He wondering asked him why he of all men should walk about in that manner. That all of you, said he, may be drunk and revel securely.

[7] An ill man, that had committed no great fault, he refused to discharge at the request of Pelopidas; when his miss entreated for him, he dismissed him, saying: Whores are fitting to receive such presents, and not generals.

[8] The Lacedaemonians invaded the Thebans, and oracles were brought to Thebes, some that promised victory, others that foretold an overthrow. He ordered those to be placed on the right hand of the judgment seat, and these on the left. When they were placed accordingly, he rose up and said: If you will obey your commanders and unanimously resist your enemies, these are your oracles,–pointing to the better; but if you play the cowards, those,–pointing to the worser.

[9] Another time, as he drew nigh to the enemy, it thundered, and some that were about him asked him what he thought the Gods would signify by it. They signify, said he, that the enemy is thunderstruck and demented, since he pitches his camp in a bad place, when he was nigh to a better.

[10] Of all the happy and prosperous events that befell him, he said that in this he took most satisfaction, that he overcame the Lacedaemonians at Leuctra while his father and mother, that begot him, were living.

[11] Whereas he was wont to appear with his body anointed and a cheerful countenance, the day after that fight he came abroad meanly habited and dejected; and when his friends asked him whether any misfortune had befallen him, No, said he, but yesterday I was pleased more than became a wise man, and therefore to-day I chastise that immoderate joy.

[12] Perceiving the Spartans concealed their disasters, and desiring to discover the greatness of their loss, he did not give them leave to take away their dead altogether, but allowed each city to bury its own; whereby it appeared that above a thousand Lacedaemonians were slain.

[13] Jason, monarch of Thessaly, was at Thebes as their confederate, and sent two thousand pieces of gold to Epaminondas, then in great want; but he refused the gold, and when he saw Jason, he said: You are the first to commit violence. And borrowing fifty drachms of a citizen, with that money to supply his army he invaded Peloponnesus.

[14] Another time, when the Persian king sent him thirty thousand darics, he chid Diomedon severely, asking him whether he sailed so far to bribe Epaminondas; and bade him tell the king, as long as he wished the prosperity of the Thebans, Epaminondas would be his friend gratis, but when he was otherwise minded, his enemy.

[15] When the Argives were confederates with the Thebans, the Athenian ambassadors then in Arcadia complained of both, and Callistratus the orator reproached the cities with Orestes and Oedipus. But Epaminondas stood up and said: We confess there hath been one amongst us that killed his father, and among the Argives one that killed his mother; but we banished those that did such things, and the Athenians entertained them.

[16] To some Spartans that accused the Thebans of many and great crimes, These indeed, said he, are they that have put an end to your short dialect.

[17] The Athenians made friendship and alliance with Alexander the tyrant of Pherae, who was an enemy to the Thebans, and who had promised to furnish them with flesh at half an obol a pound. And we, said Epaminondas, will supply them with wood to that flesh gratis; for if they grow meddlesome, we will make bold to cut all the wood in their country for them.

[18] Being desirous to keep the Boeotians, that were grown rusty by idleness, always in arms, when he was chosen their chief magistrate, he used to exhort them, saying: Yet consider what you do, my friends; for if I am your general, you must be my soldiers. He called their country, which was plain and open, the stage of war, which they could keep no longer than their hands were upon their shields.

[19] Chabrias, having slain a few Thebans near Corinth, that engaged too hotly near the walls, erected a trophy, which Epaminondas laughed at, saying, it was not a trophy, but a statue of Trivia, which they usually placed in the highway before the gates.

[20] One told him that the Athenians had sent an army into Peloponnesus adorned with new armor. What then? said he, doth Antigenidas sigh because Telles hath got new pipes? (Now Antigenidas was an excellent piper, but Telles a vile one.)

[21] Understanding his shield-bearer had taken a great deal of money from a prisoner, Come, said he, give me the shield, and buy you a victualling-house to live in; for now you are grown rich and wealthy, you will not hazard your life as you did formerly.

[22] Being asked whether he thought himself or Chabrias or Iphicrates the better general, It is hard, said he, to judge while we live.

[23] After he returned out of Laconia, he was tried for his life, with his fellow-commanders, for continuing Boeotarch four months longer than the law allowed. He bade the other commanders lay the blame upon him, as if he had forced them, and for himself, he said, his actions were his best speech; but if any thing at all were to be answered to the judges, he entreated them, if they put him to death, to write his fault upon his monument, that the Grecians might know that Epaminondas compelled the Thebans against their will to plunder and fire Laconia,–which in five hundred years before had never suffered the like,–to build Messene two hundred and thirty years after it was sacked, to unite the Arcadians, and to restore liberty to Greece; for those things were done in that expedition. Whereupon the judges arose with great laughter, and refused even to receive the votes against him.

[24] In his last fight, being wounded and carried into his tent, he called for Diaphantes and after him for Iollidas; and when he heard they were slain, he advised the Thebans to make their peace with the enemy, since they had never a general left them; as by the event proved true. So well did he understand his countrymen.

¶ Pelopidas [1] Pelopidas, Epaminondas's colleague, when his friends told him that he neglected a necessary business, that was the gathering of money, replied: In good deed money is necessary for this Nicomedas, pointing to a lame man that could not go.

[2] As he was going out to fight, his wife beseeched him to have a care of himself. To others you may give this advice, said he; but a commander and general you must advise that he should save his countrymen.

[3] A soldier told him, We are fallen among the enemies. Said he, How are we fallen among them, more than they among us?

[4] When Alexander, the tyrant of Pherae, broke his faith and cast him into prison, he reviled him; and when the other told him he did but hasten his death, That is my design, said he, that the Thebans may be exasperated against you, and be revenged on you the sooner.

[5] Thebe, the wife of the tyrant, came to him, and told him she wondered to see him so merry in chains. He answered, he wondered more at her, that she could endure Alexander without being chained.

[6] When Epaminondas caused him to be released, he said: I thank Alexander, for I have now found by trial that I have not only courage to fight, but to die.

Here Ends Plutarch's Sayings of Kings and Commanders.


/1/ See Life of Artaxerxes, 5.

/2/ See Life of Lycurgus, 19.

/3/ See Herodotus, Histories, IX, 122.

/4/ See Herodotus, Histories, IV, 143 where this story is told but with Megabazos, not Zopyrus, as the object of Darius' high regard.

/5/ See Herodotus, Histories, III, 154-160.

/6/ See Herodotus, Histories, I, 187 where it is the later Queen Nitocris, not her predecessor Semiramis who built the monument with the inscription warning of covetousness.

/7/ See Of Brotherly Live, 18 for a fuller treatment by Plutarch of the story of Arimenes and Xerxes. Herodotus in Histories, VII, 1-5 names Artobazanes as the brother who contested with Xerxes for the throne; Plutarch differs from Herodotus on several other points in relation to this story.

/8/ See Herodotus, Histories, VII, 146-147.

/9/ See Life of Artaxerxes, 1.

/10/ See Life of Artaxerxes, 6.

/11/ See Life of Artaxerxes, 5.

/12/ See Life of Artaxerxes, 4.

/13/ See Life of Artaxerxes, 12.

/14/ See Herodotus, Histories, IV, 142.

/15/ See On Talkativeness, 17

/16/ See Life of Solon, 20.

/17/ See also Plutarch's How to Profit by One's Enemies.

/18/ The Greek KLEIS (clavis), a key, signifies also the collar-bone.

/19/ Which will remind the reader of the Gospel parable of the widow and the unjust judge related in Luke 18:2-5.

/20/ A lesson for those who raise money for worthy causes: It is good to know men with means to give, to know the extent of their means, and to ask for the extent.

/21/ This anecdote is told also in Life of Alexander, 29.

/22/ Illiad, V. 340.

/23/ Mh spoude ghmai, prin teleuthsant' idhV. From Sophocles's Tyro, Frag. 596.

/24/ Shma d ouk ephn kuklw
Ou gar dokein aristoV all einai Jelei
BaJeian aloka dia frenuV karpoumenoV
Ex hV kedna bkastnei Bouleumata.

Aesch. Sept. 591. Thus the passage stands in all MSS. of Aeschylus; but it is quoted by Plutarch in his Life of Aristides, Chapter 3, with dikaiV in the second verse in the place of aristoV. It has been plausibly conjectured, that the actor who spoke the part intentionally substituted the word dikaiV as a compliment to Aristides, on seeing him in a conspicuous place among the spectators. See Hermann's note on the passage in his edition of Aeschylus.