Plutarch's Apophthegms, or Sayings of the Romans
Translated by E.Hinton of Witney of Oxforshire.
Edition by William W. Goodwin, Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878.
|¶ M. Curius.||
 When some blamed M. Curius for distributing but a small part of a country he took from the enemy, and
preserving the greater part for the commonwealth, he prayed there might be no Roman who would think that
estate little which was enough to maintain him.
 The Samnites after an overthrow came to him to offer him gold, and found him boiling rape-roots. He answered the Samnites that he that could sup so wanted no gold, and that he had rather rule over those who had gold than have it himself.
|¶ C. Fabricius.||
 C. Fabricius, hearing Pyrrhus had overthrown the Romans, told Labienus, it was Pyrrhus, not the Epirots,
that beat the Romans.
 He went to treat about exchange of prisoners with Pyrrhus, who offered him a great sum of gold, which he refused. The next day Pyrrhus commanded a very large elephant should secretly be placed behind Fabricius, and discover himself by roaring; whereupon Fabricius turned and smiled, saying, I was not astonished either at your gold yesterday or at your beast to-day.
 Pyrrhus invited him to tarry with him, and to accept of the next command under him: That, said he, will be inconvenient for you; for, when the Epirots know us both, they will rather have me for their king than you.
 When Fabricius was consul, Pyrrhus’s physician sent him a letter, wherein he promised him that, if he commanded him, he would poison Pyrrhus. Fabricius sent the letter to Pyrrhus, and bade him conclude that he was a very bad judge both of friends and enemies.
 The plot was discovered; Pyrrhus hanged his physician, and sent the Roman prisoners he had taken without ransom as a present to Fabricius. He, however, refused to accept them, but returned the like number, lest he might seem to receive a reward. Neither did he disclose the conspiracy out of kindness to Pyrrhus, but that the Romans might not seem to kill him by treachery, as if they despaired to conquer him in open war.
|¶ Fabius Maximus.||
 Fabius Maximus would not fight, but chose to spin away the time with
Hannibal, — who wanted both money and provision for his army, — by pursuing and facing him in rocky and
mountainous places. When many laughed at him and called him Hannibal’s schoolmaster, he took little notice of them,
but pursued his own design, and told his friends: He that is afraid of scoffs and reproaches is more a coward
than he that flies from the enemy.
 When Minucius, his fellow-consul, upon routing a party of the enemy, was highly extolled as a man worthy of Rome; I am more afraid, said he, of Minucius’s success than of his misfortune. And not long after he fell into an ambush, and was in danger of perishing with his forces, until Fabius succored him, slew many of the enemy, and brought him off. Whereupon Hannibal told his friends: Did I not often presage that cloud on the hills would some time or other break upon us?
 After the city received the great overthrow at Cannae, he was chosen consul with Marcellus, a daring person and much desirous to fight Hannibal, whose forces, if nobody fought him, he hoped would shortly disperse and be dissolved. Therefore Hannibal said, he feared fighting Marcellus less than Fabius who would not fight.
 He was informed of a Lucanian soldier that frequently wandered out of the camp by night after a woman he loved, but otherwise an admirable soldier; he caused his mistress to be seized privately and brought to him. When she came, he sent for the soldier and told him: It is known you lie out a nights, contrary to the law; but your former good behavior is not forgotten, therefore your faults are forgiven to your merits. Henceforwards you shall tarry with me, for I have your surety. And he brought out the woman to him.
 Hannibal kept Tarentum with a garrison, all but the castle; and Fabius drew the enemy far from it, and by a stratagem took the town and plundered it. When his secretary asked what was his pleasure as to the holy images, Let us leave, said he, the Tarentines their offended Gods.
 When M. Livius, who kept a garrison in the castle, said he took Tarentum by his assistance, others laughed at him; but said Fabius, You say true, for if you had not lost the city, I had not retook it.
 When he was ancient, his son was consul, and as he was discharging his office publicly with many attendants, he met him on horseback. The young man sent a sergeant to command him to alight; when others were at a stand, Fabius presently alighted, and running faster than for his age might be expected, embraced his son. Well done, son, said he, I see you are wise, and know whom you govern, and the grandeur of the office you have undertaken.
|¶ Scipio the Elder.||
 Scipio the Elder spent on his studies what leisure the campaign and government would allow him,
saying, that he did most when he was idle.
 When he took Carthage by storm, some soldiers took prisoner a very beautiful virgin, and came and presented her to him. I would receive her, said he, with all my heart, if I were a private man and not a governor. While he was besieging the city of Badia, wherein appeared above all a temple of Venus, he ordered appearances to be given for actions to be tried before him within three days in that temple of Venus; and he took the city, and was as good as his word. One asked him in Sicily, on what confidence he presumed to pass with his navy against Carthage. He showed him three hundred disciplined men in armor, and pointed to a high tower on the shore; There is not one of these, said he, that would not at my command go to the top of that tower, and cast himself down headlong. Over he went, landed, and burnt the enemy’s camp, and the Carthaginians sent to him, and covenanted to surrender their elephants, ships, and a sum of money. But when Hannibal was sailed back from Italy, their reliance on him made them repent of those conditions. This coming to Scipio’s ear, Nor will I, said he, stand to the agreement if they will, unless they pay me five thousand talents more for sending for Hannibal. The Carthaginians, when they were utterly overthrown, sent ambassadors to make peace and league with him; he bade those that came return immediately, as refusing to hear them before they brought L. Terentius with them, a good man, whom the Carthaginians had taken prisoner. When they brought him, he placed him in the council next himself, on the judgment-seat, and then he transacted with the Carthaginians and put an end to the war. And Terentius followed him when he triumphed, wearing the cap of one that was made free; and when he died, Scipio gave wine mingled with honey to those that were at the funeral, and performed other funeral rites in his honor. But these things were done afterwards. King Antiochus, after the Romans invaded him, sent to Scipio in Asia for peace; That should have been done before, said he, not now when you have received a bridle and a rider. The senate decreed him a sum of money out of the treasury, but the treasurers refused to open it on that day. Then, said he, I will open it myself, for the moneys with which I filled it caused it to be shut. When Paetilius and Quintus accused him of many crimes before the people, — On this very day, said he, I conquered Hannibal and Carthage; I for my part am going with my crown on to the Capitol to sacrifice; and let him that pleaseth stay and pass his vote upon me. Having thus said, he went his way; and the people followed him, leaving his accusers declaiming to themselves.
|¶ T. Quinctius.||T. Quinctius was eminent so early, that before he had been tribune, praetor, or aedile, he was chosen consul. Being sent as general against Philip, he was persuaded to come to a conference with him. And when Philip demanded hostages of him, because he was accompanied with many Romans while the Macedonians had none but himself; You, said Quinctius, have created this solitude for yourself, by killing your friends and kindred. Having overcome Philip in battle, he proclaimed in the Isthmian games that the Grecians were free and to be governed by their own laws. And the Grecians redeemed all the Roman prisoners that in Hannibal’s days were sold for slaves in Greece, each of them with two hundred drachms, and made him a present of them; and they followed him in Rome in his triumph, wearing caps on their heads such as they use to wear who are made free. He advised the Achaeans, who designed to make war upon the Island Zacynthus, to take heed lest, like a tortoise, they should endanger their head by thrusting it out of Peloponnesus. When King Antiochus was coming upon Greece with great forces, and all men trembled at the report of his numbers and equipage, he told the Achaeans this story: Once I dined with a friend at Chalcis, and when I wondered at the variety of dishes, said my host, “All these are pork, only in dressing and sauces they differ.” And therefore be not you amazed at the king’s forces, when you hear talk of spearmen and men-at-arms and choice footmen and horse-archers, for all these are but Syrians, with some little difference in their weapons. Philopoemen, general of the Achaeans, had good store of horses and men-at-arms, but could not tell what to do for money; and Quinctius played upon him, saying, Philopoemen had arms and legs, but no belly; and it happened his body was much after that shape.|
|¶ Cneus Domitius.||Cneus Domitius, — whom Scipio the Great sent in his stead to attend his brother Lucius in the war against Antiochus, — when he had viewed the enemy’s army, and the commanders that were with him advised him to set upon them presently, said to them: We shall scarce have time enough now to kill so many thousands, plunder their baggage, return to our camp, and refresh ourselves too; but we shall have time enough to do all this to-morrow. The next day he engaged them, and slew fifty thousand of the enemy.|
|¶ Publius Licinius.||Publius Licinius, consul and general, being worsted in a horse engagement by Perseus king of Macedon, with what were slain and what were took prisoners, lost two thousand eight hundred men. Presently after the fight, Perseus sent ambassadors to make peace and league with him; and although he was overcome, yet he advised the conqueror to submit himself and his affairs to the pleasure of the Romans.|
|¶ Paulus Aemilius.||Paulus Aemilius, when he stood for his second consulship, was rejected. Afterwards, the war with Perseus and the Macedonians being prolonged by the ignorance and effeminacy of the commanders, they chose him consul. I thank, said he, the people for nothing; they choose me general, not because I want the office, but because they want an officer. As he returned from the hall to his own house, and found his little daughter Tertia weeping, he asked her what she cried for? Perseus, said she (so her little dog was called), is dead. Luckily hast thou spoken, girl, said he, and I accept the omen. When he found in the camp much confident prating among the soldiers, who pretended to advise him and busy themselves as if they had been all officers, he bade them be quiet and only whet their swords, and leave other things to his care. He ordered night-guards should be kept without swords or spears, that they might resist sleep, when they had nothing wherewith to resist the enemy. He invaded Macedonia by the way of the mountains; and seeing the enemy drawn up, when Nasica advised him to set upon them presently, he replied: So I should, if I were of your age; but long experience forbids me, after a march, to fight an army marshalled regularly. Having overcome Perseus, he feasted his friends for joy of the victory, saying, it required the same skill to make an army very terrible to the enemy, and a banquet very acceptable to our friends. When Perseus was taken prisoner, he told Paulus that he would not be led in triumph. That, said he, is as you please, — meaning he might kill himself. He found an infinite quantity of money, but kept none for himself; only to his son-in-law Tubero he gave a silver bowl that weighed five pounds, as a reward of his valor; and that, they say, was the first piece of plate that belonged to the Aemilian family. Of the four sons he had, he parted with two that were adopted into other families; and of the two that lived with him, one of them died at the age of fourteen years, but five days before his triumph; and five days after the triumph, at the age of twelve years died the other. When the people that met him bemoaned and compassionated his calamities, Now, said he, my fears and jealousies for my country are over, since Fortune hath discharged her revenge for our success on my house, and I have paid for all.|
|¶ Cato the Elder.||Cato the Elder, in a speech to the people, inveighed against luxury and intemperance. How hard, said he, is it to persuade the belly, that hath no ears? And he wondered how that city was preserved wherein a fish was sold for more than an ox! Once he scoffed at the prevailing imperiousness of women: All other men, said he, govern their wives; but we command all other men, and our wives us. He said he had rather not be rewarded for his good deeds than not punished for his evil deeds; and at any time he could pardon all other offenders besides himself. He instigated the magistrates to punish all offenders, saying, that they that did not prevent crimes when they might encouraged them. Of young men, he liked them that blushed better than those who looked pale; and hated a soldier that moved his hands as he walked and his feet as he fought, and whose sneeze was louder than his outcry when he charged. He said, he was the worst governor who could not govern himself. It was his opinion that every one ought especially to reverence himself; for every one was always in his own presence. When he saw many had their statues set up, I had rather, says he, men should ask why Cato had no statue, than why he had one. He exhorted those in power to be sparing of exercising their power, that they might continue in power. They that separate honor from virtue, said he, separate virtue from youth. A governor, said he, or judge ought to do justice without entreaty, not injustice upon entreaty. He said, that injustice, if it did not endanger the authors, endangered all besides. He requested old men not to add the disgrace of wickedness to old age, which was accompanied with many other evils. He thought an angry man differed from a madman only in the shorter time which his passion endured. He thought that they who enjoyed their fortunes decently and moderately, were far from being envied; For men do not envy us, said he, but our estates. He said, they that were serious in ridiculous matters would be ridiculous in serious affairs. Honorable actions ought to succeed honorable sayings; Lest, said he, they lose their reputation. He blamed the people for always choosing the same men officers; For either you think, said he, the government little worth, or very few fit to govern. He pretended to wonder at one that sold an estate by the seaside, as if he were more powerful than the sea; for he had drunk up that which the sea could hardly drown. When he stood for the consulship, and saw others begging and flattering the people for votes, he cried out aloud: The people have need of a sharp physician and a great purge; therefore not the mildest but the most inexorable person is to be chosen. For which word he was chosen before all others. Encouraging young men to fight boldly, he oftentimes said, The speech and voice terrify and put to flight the enemy more than the hand and sword. As he warred against Baetica, he was outnumbered by the enemy, and in danger. The Celtiberians offered for two hundred talents to send him a supply, and the Romans would not suffer him to engage to pay wages to barbarians. You are out, said he; for if we overcome, not we but the enemy must pay them; if we are routed, there will be nobody to demand nor to pay either. Having taken more cities, as he saith, than he stayed days in the enemies’ country, he reserved no more of the prey for himself than what he ate or drank. He distributed to every soldier a round of silver, saying, It was better many should return out of the campaign with silver than a few with gold; for governors ought to gain nothing by their governments but honor. Five servants waited on him in the army, whereof one had bought three prisoners; and understanding Cato knew it, before he came into his presence he hanged himself. Being requested by Scipio Africanus to befriend the banished Achaeans, that they might return to their own country, he made as if he would not be concerned in that business; but when the matter was disputed in the senate, rising up, he said: We sit here, as if we had nothing else to do but to argue about a few old Grecians, whether they shall be carried to their graves by our bearers or by those of their own country. Posthumus Albinus wrote a history in Greek, and in it begs the pardon of his readers. Said Cato, jeering him, If the Amphictyonic Council commanded him to write it, he ought to be pardoned.|
|¶ Scipio Junior.||
It is reported that Scipio Junior never bought nor sold nor built any thing for the space of fifty-four years,
and so long as he lived; and that of so great an estate, he left but thirty-three pounds of silver, and two of
gold behind him, although he was lord of Carthage, and enriched his soldiers more than other generals.
He observed the precept of Polybius, and endeavored never to return from the forum, until by some means or other
he had engaged some one he lighted on to be his friend or companion. While he was yet young, he had such a
repute for valor and knowledge, that Cato the Elder, being asked his opinion of the commanders in Africa, of
whom Scipio was one, answered in that Greek verse, —
Others like shadows fly;
When he came from the army to Rome, the people preferred him, not to gratify him, but because they hoped by his assistance to conquer Carthage with more ease and speed. After he was entered the walls, the Carthaginians defended themselves in the castle, separated by the sea, not very deep. Polybius advised him to scatter caltrops in the water, or planks with iron spikes, that the enemy might not pass over to assault their bulwark. He answered, that it was ridiculous for those who had taken the walls and were within the city to contrive how they might not fight with the enemy. He found the city full of Greek statues and presents brought thither from Sicily, and made proclamation that such as were present from those cities might claim and carry away what belonged to them. When others plundered and carried away the spoil, he would not suffer any that belonged to him, either slave or freeman, to take, nor so much as to buy any of it. He assisted C. Laelius, his most beloved friend, when he stood to be consul, and asked Pompey (who was thought to be a piper’s son) whether he stood or not. He replied, No; and besides promised to join with them in going about and procuring votes, which they believed and expected, but were deceived; for news was brought that Pompey was in the forum, fawning on and soliciting the citizens for himself; whereat others being enraged, Scipio laughed. We may thank our own folly for this, said he, that, as if we were not to request men but the Gods, we lose our time in waiting for a piper. When he stood to be censor, Appius Claudius, his rival, told him that he could salute all the Romans by their names, whereas Scipio scarce knew any of them. You say true, said he, for it hath been my care not to know many, but that all might know me. He advised the city, which then had an army in Celtiberia, to send them both to the army, either as tribunes or lieutenants, that thus the soldiers might be witnesses and judges of the valor of each of them. When he was made censor, he took away his horse from a young man, who, in the time while Carthage was besieged, made a costly supper, in which was a honey-cake, made after the shape of that city, which he named Carthage and set before his guests to be plundered by them; and when the young man asked the reason why he took his horse from him, he said, Because you plundered Carthage before me. As he saw C. Licinius coming towards him, I know, said he, that man is perjured; but since nobody accuses him, I cannot be his accuser and judge too. The senate sent him thrice, as Clitomachus saith, to take cognizance of men, cities, and manners, as an overseer of cities, kings, and countries. As he came to Alexandria and landed, he went with his head covered, and the Alexandrians running about him entreated he would gratify them by uncovering and showing them his desirable face. When he uncovered his head, they clapped their hands with a loud acclamation. The king, by reason of his laziness and corpulency, making a hard shift to keep pace with them, Scipio whispered softly to Panaetius: The Alexandrians have already received some benefit of our visit, for upon our account they have seen their king walk. There travelled with him one friend, Panaetius the philosopher, and five servants, whereof one dying in the journey, he would not buy another, but sent for one to Rome. The Numantines seemed invincible, and having overcome several generals, the people the second time chose Scipio general in that war. When great numbers strived to list them in his army, even that the senate forbade, as if Italy thereby would be left destitute. Nor did they allow him money that was in bank, but ordered him to receive the revenues of tributes that were not yet payable. As to money, Scipio said he wanted none, for of his own and by his friends he could be supplied; but of the decree concerning the soldiers he complained, for the war (he said) was a hard and difficult one, whether their defeat had been caused by the valor of the enemy or by the cowardice of their own men. When he came to the army, he found there much disorder, intemperance, superstition, and luxury. Immediately he drove away the soothsayers, priests, and panders. He ordered them to send away their household stuff, all except kettles, a spit, and an earthen cup. He allowed a silver cup, weighing not more than two pounds, to such as desired it. He forbade them to bathe; and those that anointed themselves were to rub themselves too; for horses wanted another to rub them, he said, only because they had no hand of their own. He ordered them to eat their dinner standing, and to have only such food as was dressed without fire; but they might sit down at supper, to bread, plain porridge, and flesh boiled or roasted. He himself walked about clothed in a black cassock, saying, he mourned for the disgrace of the army. He met by chance with the pack-horses of Memmius, a tribune that carried wine-coolers set with precious stones, and the best Corinthian vessels. Since you are such a one, said he, you have made yourself useless to me and to your country for thirty days, but to yourself all your life long. Another showed him a shield well adorned. The shield, said he, young man, is a fine one, but it becomes a Roman to have his confidence placed rather in his right hand than in his left. To one that was building the rampart, saying his burthen was very heavy, And deservedly, said he, for you trust more to this wood than to your sword. When he saw the rash confidence of the enemy, he said that he bought security with time; for a good general, like a good physician, useth iron as his last remedy. And yet he fought when he saw it convenient, and routed the enemy. When they were worsted, the elder men child them, and asked why they fled from those they had pursued so often. It is said a Numantine answered, The sheep are the same still, but they have another shepherd. After he had taken Numantia and triumphed a second time, he had a controversy with C. Gracchus concerning the senate and the allies; and the abusive people made a tumult about him as he spake from the pulpit; The outcry of the army, said he, when they charge, never disturbed me, much less the clamor of a rabble of newcomers, to whom Italy is a step-mother (I am well assured) and not a mother. And when they of Gracchus’s party cried out, Kill the Tyrant, — No wonder, said he, that they who make war upon their country would kill me first; for Rome cannot fall while Scipio stands, nor can Scipio live when Rome is fallen.
|¶ Caecilius Metellus.||Caecilius Metellus designing to reduce a strong fort, a captain told him he would undertake to take it with the loss only of ten men; and he asked him, whether he himself would be one of those ten. A young colonel asked him what design he had in the wheel. If I thought my shirt knew, said he, I would pluck it off and burn it. He was at variance with Scipio in his lifetime, but he lamented at his death, and commanded his sons to assist at the hearse; and said, he gave the Gods thanks in the behalf of Rome, that Scipio was born in no other country.|
|¶ C. Marius.||C. Marius was of obscure parentage, pursuing offices by his valor. He pretended to the chief aedileship, and perceiving he could not reach it, the same day he stood for the lesser, and missing of that also, yet for all that he did not despair of being consul. Having a wen on each leg, he suffered one to be cut, and endured the surgeon without binding, not so much as sighing or once contracting his eyebrows; but when the surgeon would cut the other, he did not suffer him, saying the cure was not worth the pain. In his second consulship, Lucius his sister’s son offered unchaste force to Trebonius, a soldier, who slew him; when many pleaded against him, he did not deny but confessed he killed the colonel, and told the reason why. Hereupon Marius called for a crown, the reward of extraordinary valor, and put it upon Trebonius’s head. He had pitched his camp, when he fought against the Teutons, in a place where water was wanting; when the soldiers told him they were thirsty, he showed them a river running by the enemy’s trench. Look you, said he, there is water for you, to be bought for blood; and they desired him to conduct them to fight, while their blood was fluent and not all dried up with thirst. In the Cimbrian war, he gave a thousand valiant Camertines the freedom of Rome, which no law did allow; and to such as blamed him for it he said, I could not hear the laws for the clash of arrows. In the civil war, he lay patiently entrenched and besieged, waiting for a fit opportunity; when Popedius Silon called to him, Marius, if you are so great a general come down and fight. And do you, said he, if you are so great a commander, force me to fight against my will, if you can.|
|¶ Lutatius Catulus.||Lutatius Catulus in the Cimbrian war lay encamped by the side of the river Athesis, and his soldiers, seeing the barbarians attempting to pass the river, gave back; when he could not make them stand, he hastened to the front of them that fled, that they might not seem to fly from their enemies but to follow their commander.|
|¶ Sylla.||Sylla, surnamed the Fortunate, reckoned these two things as the chiefest of his felicities, — the friendship of Metellus Pius, and that he had spared and not destroyed the city of Athens.|
|¶ C. Popilius.||C. Popilius was sent to Antiochus with a letter from the senate, commanding him to withdraw his army out of Egypt, and to renounce the protection of that kingdom during the minority of Ptolemy’s children. When he came towards him in his camp, Antiochus kindly saluted him at a distance, but without returning his saluation he delivered his letter; which being read, the king answered, that he would consider, and give his answer. Whereupon Popilius with his wand made a circle round him, saying, Consider and answer before you go out of this place; and when Antiochus answered that he would give the Romans satisfaction, then at length Popilius saluted and embraced him.|
|¶ Lucullus.||Lucullus in Armenia, with ten thousand foot in armor and a thousand horse, was to fight Tigranes and his army of a hundred and fifty thousand, the day before the nones of October, the same day on which formerly Scipio’s army was destroyed by the Cimbrians. When one told him, The Romans dread and abominate that day; Therefore, said he, let us fight to-day valiantly, that we may change this day from a black and unlucky one to a joyful and festival day for the Romans. His soldiers were most afraid of their men-at-arms; but he bade them be of good courage, for it was more labor to strip than to overcome them. He first came up to their counterscarp, and perceiving the confusion of the barbarians, cried out, Fellow-soldiers, the day’s our own! And when nobody stood him, he pursued, and, with the loss of five Romans, slew above a hundred thousand of them.|
|¶ Cn. Pompeius.||
Cn. Pompeius was as much beloved by the Romans as his father was hated. When he was young, he wholly sided with Sylla,
and before he had borne many offices or was chosen into the senate, he enlisted many soldiers in Italy.
When Sylla sent for him, he returned answer, that he would not muster his forces in the presence of his general,
unfleshed and without spoils; nor did he come before that in several fights he had overcome the captains of the enemy.
He was sent by Sylla lieutenant-general into Sicily, and being told that the soldiers turned out of the way and forced
and plundered the country, he sealed the swords of such as he sent abroad, and punished all other stragglers and wanderers.
He had resolved to put the Mamertines, that were of the other side, all to the sword; but Sthenius the orator told him,
He would do injustice if he should punish many that were innocent for the sake of one that was guilty; and that he himself
was the person that persuaded his friends and forced his enemies to side with Marius. Pompey admired the man, and said,
he could not blame the Mamertines for being inveigled by a person who preferred his country beyond his own life; and
forgave both the city and Sthenius too. When he passed into Africa against Domitius and overcame him in a great battle,
the soldiers saluted him Imperator. He answered, he could not receive that honor, so long as the fortification of the
enemy’s camp stood undemolished; upon this, although it rained hard, they rushed on and plundered the camp. At his
return, among other courtesies and honors wherewith Sylla entertained him, he styled him The Great; yet when he was
desirous to triumph, Sylla would not consent, because he was not yet chosen into the senate. But when Pompey said
to those that were about him, Sylla doth not know that more worship the rising than the setting sun, Sylla cried
aloud, Let him triumph. Hereat Servilius, one of the nobles, was displeased; the soldiers also withstood his
triumph, until he had bestowed a largess among them. But when Pompey replied, I would rather forego my triumph
than flatter them, — Now, said Servilius, I see Pompey is truly great and worthy of a triumph. It was a custom
in Rome, that knights who had served in the wars the time appointed by the laws should bring their horse into the
forum before the censors, and there give an account of their warfare and the commanders under whom they had served.
Pompey, then consul, brought also his horse before the censors, Gellius and Lentulus; and when they asked him, as
the manner is, whether he had served all his campaigns, All, said he, and under myself as general. Having gotten
into his hands the writings of Sertorius in Spain, among which were letters from several leading men in Rome,
inviting Sertorius to Rome to innovate and change the government, he burnt them all, by that means giving opportunity
to ill-affected persons to repent and mend their manners. Phraates, king of Parthia, sent to him requesting that
the river Euphrates might be his bounds. He answered, the Romans had rather the right should be their bounds
towards Parthia. L. Lucullus, after he left the army, gave himself up to pleasure and luxury, jeering at Pompey
for busying himself in affairs unsuitable to his age. He answered, that government became old age better than luxury.
In a fit of sickness, his physician prescribed him to eat a thrush; but when none could be gotten, because they were
out of season, one said, that Lucullus had some, for he kept them all the year. It seems then, said he, Pompey must
not live, unless Lucullus play the glutton; and dismissing the physician, he ate such things as were easy to be
gotten. In a great dearth at Rome, he was chosen by title overseer of the market, but in reality lord of sea and
land, and sailed to Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily. Having procured great quantities of wheat, he hastened back to
Rome; and when by reason of a great tempest the pilots were loath to hoist sail, he went first aboard himself,
and commanding the anchor to be weighed, cried out aloud, There is a necessity of sailing, but there is no necessity
of living. When the difference betwixt him and Caesar broke out, and Marcellinus, one of those whom he had preferred,
revolted to Caesar and inveighed much against Pompey in the senate; Art thou not ashamed, said he, Marcellinus,
to reproach me, who taught you to speak when you were dumb, and fed you full even to vomiting when you were starved?
To Cato, who severely blamed him because, when he had often informed him of the growing power of Caesar, such as was
dangerous to a democracy, he took little notice of it, he answered, Your counsels were more presaging, but mine more
friendly. Concerning himself he freely professed, that he entered all his offices sooner than he expected, and resigned
them sooner than was expected by others. After the fight at Pharsalia, in his flight towards Egypt, as he was going out
of the ship into the fisher-boat the king sent to attend him, turning to his wife and son, he said nothing to them beside
those two verses of Sophocles:
Whoever comes within a tyrant’s door
As he came out of the boat, when he was struck with a sword, he said nothing; but gave one groan, and covering his head submitted to the murderers.
Cicero the orator, when his name was played upon and his friends advised him to change it, answered, that he would make the name of Cicero more honorable than the name of the Catos, the Catuli, or the Scauri. He dedicated to the Gods a silver cup with a cover, with the first letters of his other names, and instead of Cicero a chick-pea (cicer) engraven. Loud bawling orators, he said, were driven by their weakness to noise, as lame men to take horse. Verres had a son that in his youth had not well secured his chastity; yet he reviled Cicero for his effeminacy, and called him catamite. Do you not know, said he, that children are to be rebuked at home within doors? Metellus Nepos told him he had slain more by his testimony than he had saved by his pleadings. You say true, said he, my honesty exceeds my eloquence. When Metellus asked him who his father was, Your mother, said he, hath made that question a harder one for you to answer than for me. For she was unchaste, while Metellus himself was a light, inconstant, and passionate man. The same Metellus, when Diodotus his master in rhetoric died, caused a marble crow to be placed on his monument; and Cicero said, he returned his master a very suitable gratuity, who had taught him to fly but not to declaim. Hearing that Vatinius, his enemy and otherwise a lewd person, was dead, and the next day that he was alive, A mischief on him, said he, for lying. To one that seemed to be an African, who said he could not hear him when he pleaded, And yet, said he, your ears are of full bore. He had summoned Popilius Cotta, an ignorant blockhead that pretended to the law, as a witness in a cause; and when he told the court he knew nothing of the business, On my conscience, I’ll warrant you, said Cicero, he thinks you ask him a question in the law. Verres sent a golden sphinx as a present to Hortensius the orator, who told Cicero, when he spoke obscurely, that he was not skilled in riddles. That’s strange, said he, since you have a sphinx in your house. Meeting Voconius with his three daughters that were hard favored, he told his friends softly that verse, —
Children he hath got,
When Faustus the son of Sylla, being very much in debt, set up a writing that he would sell his goods by auction, he said, I like this proscription better than his father’s. When Pompey and Caesar fell out, he said, I know whom to fly from, but I know not whom to fly to. He blamed Pompey for leaving the city, and for imitating Themistocles rather than Pericles, when his affairs did not resemble the former’s but the latter’s. He changed his mind and went over to Pompey, who asked him where he left his son-in-law Piso. He answered, With your father-in-law Caesar. To one that went over from Caesar to Pompey, saying that in his haste and eagerness he had left his horse behind him, he said, You have taken better care of your horse than of yourself. To one that brought news that the friends of Caesar looked sourly, You do as good as call them, said he, Caesar’s enemies. After the battle in Pharsalia, when Pompey was fled, one Nonius said they had seven eagles left still, and advised to try what they would do. Your advice, said he, were good, if we were to fight with jackdaws. Caesar, now conqueror, honorably restored the statues of Pompey that were thrown down; whereupon Cicero said, that Caesar by erecting Pompey’s statues had secured his own. He set so high a value on oratory, and did so lay out himself especially that way, that having a cause to plead before the centumviri, when the day approached and his slave Eros brought him word it was deferred until the day following, he presently made him free.
|¶ C. Caesar.||Caius Caesar, when he was a young man, fled from Sylla, and fell into the hands of pirates, who first demanded of him a sum of money; and he laughed at the rogues for not understanding his quality, and promised them twice as much as they asked him. Afterwards, when he was put into custody until he raised the money, he commanded them to be quiet and silent while he slept. While he was in prison, he made speeches and verses which he read to them, and when they commended them but coldly, he called them barbarians and blockheads, and threatened them in jest that he would hang them. But after a while he was as good as his word; for when the money for his ransom was brought and he discharged, he gathered men and ships out of Asia, seized the pirates and crucified them. At Rome he stood to be chief priest against Catulus, a man of great interest among the Romans. To his mother, who brought him to the gate, he said, To-day, mother, you will have your son high priest or banished. He divorced his wife Pompeia, because she was reported to be over familiar with Clodius; yet when Clodius was brought to trial upon that account, and he was cited as a witness, he spake no evil against his wife; and when the accuser asked him, Why then did you divorce her? — Because, said he, Caesar’s wife ought to be free even from suspicion. As he was reading the exploits of Alexander, he wept and told his friends, He was of my age when he conquered Darius, and I hitherto have done nothing. He passed by a little inconsiderable town in the Alps, and his friends said, they wondered whether there were any contentions and tumults for offices in that place. He stood, and after a little pause answered, I had rather be the first in this town than second in Rome. He said, great and surprising enterprises were not to be consulted upon, but done. And coming against Pompey out of his province of Gaul, he passed the river Rubicon, saying, Let every die be thrown. After Pompey fled to sea from Rome, he went to take money out of the treasury: when Metellus, who had the charge of it, forbade him and shut it against him, he threatened to kill him; whereupon Metellus being astonished, he said to him, This, young man, is harder for me to say than to do. When his soldiers were having a tedious passage from Brundisium to Dyrrachium, unknown to all he went aboard a small vessel, and attempted to pass the sea; and when the vessel was in danger of being overset, he discovers himself to the pilot, crying out, Trust Fortune, and know that you carry Caesar. But the tempest being vehement, his soldiers coming about him and expostulating passionately with him, asking whether he distrusted them and was looking for another army, would not suffer him to pass at that time. They fought, and Pompey had the better of it; but instead of following his blow he retreated to his camp. To-day, said Caesar, the enemy had the victory, but none of them know how to conquer. Pompey commanded his army to stand in array at Pharsalia in their place, and to receive the charge from the enemy. In this Caesar said he was out, thereby suffering the eagerness of his soldiers’ spirits, when they were up and inspired with rage and success, in the midst of their career to languish and expire. After he routed Pharnaces Ponticus at the first assault, he wrote thus to his friends, I came, I saw, I conquered. [HlJon, eidon, enikhsa, veni, vidi, vici.] After Scipio was worsted in Africa and fled, and Cato had killed himself, he said: I envy thee thy death, O Cato! since thou didst envy me the honor of saving thee. Antonius and Dolabella were suspected by his friends, who advised him to secure them; he answered, I fear none of those fat and lazy fellows, but those pale and lean ones, — meaning Brutus and Cassius. As he was at supper, the discourse was of death, which sort was the best. That, said he, which is unexpected.|
|¶ Octavian Caesar Augustus|| Caesar, who was the first surnamed Augustus, being yet young, demanded of M. Antonius the twenty-five millions of money which he had taken out of the house of Julius Caesar when he was slain, that he might pay the Romans the legacies he had left them, every man seventy-five drachmas. But when Antonius detained the money, and bade him, if he were wise, let fall his demand, he sent the crier to offer his own paternal estate for sale, and therewith discharged the legacies; by which means he procured a general respect to himself, and to Antonius the hatred of the Romans.|
| Rhoemetalces, king of Thrace, forsook Antonius and went over to Caesar; but bragging immoderately in his drink, and odiously reproaching his new confederates, Caesar drank to one of the other kings, and told him, I love treason but do not commend traitors.|
| The Alexandrians, when he had taken their city, expected great severity from him; but when he came upon the judgement-seat, he placed Areius the Alexandrian by him, Maecenas, his intimate companion, presented him yearly on his birthday with a drinking-bowl.|
| Athenodorus the philosopher, by reason of his old age, begged leave that he might retire from court, which Caesar granted; and as Athenodorus was taking his leave of him, Remember, said he, Caesar, whenever you are angry, to say or do nothing before you have repeated the four-and-twenty letters to yourself. Whereupon Caesar caught him by the hand and said, I have need of your presence still; and he kept him a year longer, saying, The reward of silence is a secure reward.|
| He heard Alexander at the age of thirty-two years had subdued the greatest part of the world he begged of the Gods that the favour of Pompeius, the valour of Alexander, and his own fortune might attend him.|
| He told the Romans he would leave them one to succeed him in the government that never consulted twice in the same affair, meaning Tiberius.|
| He endeavoured to pacify some young men that were imperious in their offices; and when they gave little heed to him, but still kept a stir, Young men, said he, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young.|
| Once, when the Athenians had offended him, he wrote to them from Aegina: I suppose you know I am angry with you, otherwise I had not wintered at Aegina. Besides this, he neither said nor did any thing to them.|
| One of the accusers of Eurycles spoke out lavishly and unreasonably, proceeding so far as to say, If these crimes, O Caesar, do not seem great to you, command him to repeat to me the seventh book of Thucydides [our fourth book] ; wherefore Caesar being enraged commanded him to prison. But afterwards, when he heard he was descended from Brasidas, he sent for him again, and dismissed him with a moderate rebuke.|
 When Piso built his house from top to bottom with great exactness, You cheer my heart, said he, who build as if Rome would be eternal.