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This webpage reproduces one of the
Discourses

by
Dio Chrysostom

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1932

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Discourse 2

(Vol. I) Dio Chrysostom
Discourses

p1 The First Discourse on Kingship

The first Discourse as well as the following three has for its subject Kingship, and from internal evidence is thought to have been first delivered before Trajan in Rome immediately after he became emperor. At any rate Dio does not address the Emperor in those terms of intimacy that he uses in the third Discourse.

Dio's conception of the true king is influenced greatly by Homer and Plato. The true king fears the gods and watches over his subjects even as Zeus, the supreme god, watches over all mankind. At the end is a description of the choice made by Heracles, who is the great model of the Cynics.

p3 The First Discourse on Kingship

The story goes that when the flute-player Timotheus1 gave his first exhibition before King Alexander, he showed great musical skill in adapting his playing to the king's character by selecting a piece that was not languishing or slow nor of the kind that would cause relaxation or listlessness, but rather, I fancy, the ringing strain which bears Athena's name and none other. 2 They say, too, that Alexander at once bounded to his feet and ran for his arms like one possessed, such was the exaltation produced in him by the tones of the music and the rhythmic beat of the rendering. The reason why he was so affected was not so much the power of the music as the temperament of the king, which was high-strung and passionate. 3 Sardanapallus,2 for example, would never have been aroused to leave his chamber and the company of his women even by Marsyas3 himself or by Olympus,4 much less by Timotheus or any other of the later artists; nay, I believe that had even Athena herself — were such a thing possible — performed for him her own measure, that king would never have laid hand to arms, but would have been much more likely to leap up and p5dance a fling or else take to his heels; to so depraved a condition had unlimited power and indulgence brought him.

4 In like manner it may fairly be demanded of me that I should show myself as skilful in my province as a master flautist may be in his, and that I should find words which shall be no whit less potent than his notes to inspire courage and high-mindedness — 5 words, moreover, not set to a single mood but at once vigorous and gentle, challenging to war yet also speaking of peace, obedience to law, and true kingliness, inasmuch as they are addressed to one who is disposed, methinks, to be not only a brave but also a law-abiding ruler, one who needs not only high courage but high sense of right also. 6 If, for instance, the skill which Timotheus possessed in performing a warlike strain had been matched by the knowledge of such a composition as could make the soul just and prudent and temperate and humane, and could arouse a man not merely to take up arms but also to follow peace and concord, to honour the gods and to have consideration for men, it would have been a priceless boon to Alexander to have that man live with him as a companion, and to play for him, not only when he sacrificed but at other times also: 7 when, for example, he would give way to unreasoning grief regardless of propriety and decorum,5 or would punish more severely than custom or fairness allowed,6 or would rage fiercely at his own friends and comrades7 or disdain his mortal and real parents.8 8 But unfortunately, skill and proficiency p7in music cannot provide perfect healing and complete relief for defect of character. No indeed! To quote the poet:

"E'en to Asclepius' sons granted not god this boon."9

Nay, it is only the spoken word of the wise and prudent, such as were most men of earlier times, that can prove a competent and perfect guide and helper of a man endowed with a tractable and virtuous nature, and can lead it toward all excellence by fitting encouragement and direction.

9 What subject, then, will clearly be appropriate and worthy of a man of your earnestness, and where shall I find words so nearly perfect, mere wanderer that I am and self-taught philosopher, who find what happiness I can in toil and labour for the most part and employ eloquence only for the encouragement of myself and such others as I meet from time to time? My case is like that of men who in moving or shifting a heavy load beguile their labour by softly chanting or singing a tune — mere toilers that they are and not bards or poets of song. 10 Many, however, are the themes of philosophy, and all are worth hearing and marvellously profitable for any who listen with more than casual attention; but since we have found as our hearer one who is near at hand and ready eagerly to grasp our words, we must summon to our aid Persuasion, the Muses, and Apollo, and pursue our task with the greatest possible devotion.

11 Let me state, then, what are the characteristics and disposition of the ideal king, summarizing them as briefly as possible — the king

p9 "to whom the son

Of Saturn gives the sceptre, making him

The lawgiver, that he may rule the rest."10

12 Now it seems to me that Homer was quite right in this as in many other sayings, for it implies that not every king derives his sceptre or this royal office from Zeus, but only the good king, and that he receives it on no other title than that he shall plan and study the welfare of his subjects; he is not to become licentious or profligate, 13 stuffing and gorging with folly, insolence, arrogance, and all manner of lawlessness, by any and every means within his power, a soul perturbed by anger, pain, fear, pleasure, and lusts of every kind, but to the best of his ability he is to devote his attention to himself and his subjects, becoming indeed a guide and shepherd of his people, not, as someone11 has said, a caterer and banqueter at their expense. Nay, he ought to be just such a man as to think that he should sleep at all the whole night though as having no leisure for idleness.12 14 Homer, too, in agreement with all other wise and truthful men, says that no wicked or licentious or avaricious person can ever become a competent ruler or master either of himself or of anybody else, nor will such a man ever be a king even though all the world, both Greeks and barbarians, men and women, affirm the contrary,13 yea, though not only men admire and p11obey him, but the birds of the air and the wild beasts on the mountains no less than men submit to him and do his bidding.

15 Let me speak, then, of the king as Homer conceives him, of him who is in very truth a king; for this discourse of mine, delivered in all simplicity without any flattery or abuse, of itself discerns the king that is like the good one, and commends him in so far as he is like him, while the one who is unlike him it exposes and rebukes. Such a king is, in the first place, regardful of the gods and holds the divine in honour. 16 For it is impossible that the just and good man should repose greater confidence in any other being than in the supremely just and good — the gods. He, however, who, being wicked, imagines that he at any time pleases the gods, in that very assumption lacks piety, for he has assumed that the deity is either foolish or evil. 17 Next after the gods the good king has regard for his fellow-men; he honours and loves the good, yet extends his care to all. Now who takes better care of a herd of cattle than does the herdsman? Who is more helpful and better to flocks of sheep than a shepherd? Who is a truer lover of horses than he who controls the greatest number of horses and derives the greatest benefit from horses? 18 And so who is presumably as great a lover of his fellow-man as he who exercises authority over the greatest number of men and enjoys the highest admiration of men? For it would be strange if men governing beasts, wild and of another blood than theirs, prove more kindly to these their dependants than a monarch to civilized men who are of the same flesh and blood as himself. 19 And further, cattle love their keepers best and are most submissive p13to them; the same is true of horses and their drivers; hunters are protected and loved by their dogs, and in the same way other subject creatures love their masters. 20 How then would it be conceivable that, while beings devoid of intelligence and reason recognize and love those who care for them, that creature which is by far the most intelligent and best understands how to repay kindness with gratitude should fail to recognize, nay, should even plot against, its friends? No indeed! For of necessity the kindly and humane king is not only beloved but even adored by his fellow-men. And because he knows this and is by nature so inclined, he displays a soul benignant and gentle towards all, inasmuch as he regards all as loyal and as his friends.

21 The good king also believes it to be due to his position to have the larger portion, not of wealth or of pleasures, but of painstaking care and anxieties; hence he is actually more fond of toil than many others are of pleasure or of wealth. For he knows that pleasure, in addition to the general harm it does to those who constantly indulge therein, also quickly renders them incapable of pleasure, whereas toil, besides conferring other benefits, continually increases a man's capacity for toil. 22 He alone, therefore, may call his soldiers "fellow-soldiers" and his associates "friends" without making mockery of the word friendship; and not only may he be called by the title "Father" of his people and his subjects,a but he may justify the title by his deeds. In the title "master," however, he can take no delight, nay, not even in relation to his slaves, much less to his free subjects; 23 for he looks upon himself as being king, not for the sake of his individual self, but for the sake of all men.

p15 Therefore he finds greater pleasure in conferring benefits than those benefited do in receiving them, and in this one pleasure he is insatiable. For the other functions of royalty he regards as obligatory; that of benefaction alone he considers both voluntary and blessed. 24 Blessings he dispenses with the most lavish hand, as though the supply were inexhaustible; but of anything hurtful, on the contrary, he can no more be the cause than the sun can be the cause of darkness. Men who have seen and associated with him are loath to leave him, while those who know him only by hearsay are more eager to see him than children are to find their unknown fathers. 25 His enemies fear him, and no one acknowledges himself his foe; but his friends are full of courage, and those exceeding near unto him deem themselves of all men most secure. They who come into his presence and behold him feel neither terror nor fear; but into their hearts creeps a feeling of profound respect, something much stronger and more powerful than fear. For those who fear must inevitably hate and want to escape; those who feel respect must linger and admire.

26 He holds that sincerity and truthfulness are qualities befitting a king and a prudent man, while unscrupulousness and deceit are for the fool and the slave, for he observes that among the wild beasts also it is the most cowardly and ignoble which surpass all the rest in lying and deceiving.

p17 27 Though naturally covetous of honour, and knowing that it is the good that men are prone to honour, he has less hope of winning honour from the unwilling than he has of gaining the friendship of those who hate him.

He is warlike to the extent that the making of war rests with him, and peaceful to the extent that there is nothing left worth his fighting for. For assuredly he is well aware that they who are best prepared for war have it most in their power to live in peace.

28 He is also by nature fond of his companions, fellow-citizens, and soldiers in like measure; for a ruler who is suspicious of the military and has never or rarely seen those who face peril and hardship in support of his kingdom, but continually flatters the unprofitable and unarmed masses, is like a shepherd who does not know those who help him to keep guard, never proffers them food, and never shares the watch with them; for such a man tempts not only the wild beasts, but even his own dogs, to prey upon the fold. 29 He, on the contrary, who pampers his soldiers by not drilling them or encouraging them to work hard and, at the same time, evinces no concern for the people at large, is like a ship-captain who demoralizes his crew with surfeit of food and noonday sleep and takes no thought for his passengers or for his ship as it goes to ruin. 30 And yet if one is above reproach in these two matters, but fails to honour those who are close to him and are called his friends, and does not see to it that they are looked upon by all men as blessed and objects of envy, he becomes a traitor to himself and his kingdom ere he is aware by p19disheartening those who are his friends and suffering nobody else to covet his friendship and by robbing himself of that noblest and most profitable possession: friendship. 31 For who is more indefatigable in toil, when there is occasion for toil, than a friend? Who is readier to rejoice in one's good fortune? Whose praise is sweeter than that of friends? From whose lips does one learn the truth with less pain? What fortress, what bulwarks, what arms are more steadfast or better than the protection of loyal hearts? 32 For whatever is the number of comrades one has acquired, so many are the eyes with which he can see what he wishes, so many the ears with which he can hear what he needs to hear, so many the minds with which he can take thought concerning his welfare. Indeed, it is exactly as if a god had given him, along with his one body, a multitude of souls all full of concern in his behalf.

33 But I will pass over most of the details and give the clearest mark of a true king: he is one whom all good men can praise without compunction not only during his life but even afterwards. And yet, even so, he does not himself covet the praise of the vulgar and the loungers about the market-place, but only that of the free-born and noble, men who would prefer to die rather than be guilty of falsehood. 34 Who, therefore, would not account such a man and such a life blessed? From what remote lands would men not come to see him and to profit from his honourable and upright character? What spectacle is more impressive than that of a noble and diligent king? What can give greater pleasure than a gentle and kindly ruler who desires to serve all and has it in his power so to do? 35 What is more profitable than an p21equitable and just king? Whose life is safer than his whom all alike protect, whose is happier than his who esteems no man an enemy, and whose is freer from vexation than his who has no cause to blame himself? Who is more fortunate, too, than that man whose goodness is known of all?

36 In plain and simple language I have described the good king. If any of his attributes seem to belong to you,14 happy are you in your gracious and excellent nature, and happy are we who share its blessings with you.b

37 It was my purpose, after finishing the description of the good king, to discuss next that supreme king and ruler whom mortals and those who administer the affairs of mortals must always imitate in discharging their responsibilities, directing and conforming their ways as far as possible to his pattern. 38 Indeed, this is Homer's reason for calling true kings "Zeus-nurtured"15 and "like Zeus in counsel";16 and Minos, who had the greatest name for righteousness, he declared was a companion of Zeus.17 In fact, it stands to reason that practically all the kings among Greeks or barbarians who have proved themselves not unworthy of this title have been disciples and emulators of this god. 39 For Zeus alone of the gods has the epithets of "Father" and "King," "Protector of Cities," "Lord of Friends and Comrades," "Guardian of the Race," and also "Protector of Suppliants," "God of Refuge," and "God of Hospitality," these and his countless other titles signifying goodness and the fount of goodness.18 p2340 He is addressed as "King" because of his dominion and power; as "Father," I ween, on account of his solicitude and gentleness; as "Protector of Cities" in that he upholds the law and the commonweal; as "Guardian of the Race" on account of the tie of kinship which unites gods and men; as "Lord of Friends and Comrades" because he brings all men together and wills that they be friendly to one another and never enemy or foe; 41 as "Protector of Suppliants" since he inclines his ear and is gracious to men when they pray; as "God of Refuge" because he gives refuge from evil; as "God of Hospitality" because it is the very beginning of friendship not to be unmindful of strangers or to regard any human being as an alien; and as "God of Wealth and Increase" since he causes all fruitage and is the giver of wealth and substance, not of poverty and want. For all these functions must at the outset be inherent in the royal function and title.

42 I might well speak next of the administration of the universe and tell how the world — the very embodiment of bliss and wisdom — ever sweeps along through infinite time in infinite cycles without cessation, guided by good fortune and a like power divine, and by foreknowledge and a governing purpose most righteous and perfect, and renders us like itself since, in consequence of the mutual kinship of ourselves and it, we are marshalled in order under one ordinance and law and partake of the same polity. 43 He who honours and upholds this polity and does not oppose it in any way is law-abiding, devout and orderly; he, however, who disturbs it, as far as that is possible to him, and violates it or does not know it, is lawless and p25disorderly, whether he be called a private citizen or a ruler, although the offence on the part of the ruler is far greater and more evident to all. 44 Therefore, just as among generals and commanders of legions, cities or provinces, he who most closely imitates your ways and shows the greatest possible conformity with your habits would be by far your dearest comrade and friend, while he who showed antagonism or lacked conformity would justly incur censure and disgrace and, being speedily removed from his office as well, would give way to better men better qualified to govern; 45 so too among kings, since they, I ween, derive their powers and their stewardship from Zeus; the one who, keeping his eyes upon Zeus, orders and governs his people with justice and equity in accordance with the laws and ordinances of Zeus, enjoys a happy lot and a fortunate end, 46 while he who goes astray and dishonours him who entrusted him with his stewardship or gave him this gift, receives no other reward from his great authority and power than merely this: that he has shown himself to all men of his own time and to posterity to be a wicked and undisciplined man, illustrating the storied end of Phaethon, who mounted a mighty chariot of heaven in defiance of his lot but proved himself a feeble charioteer. 47 In somewhat this wise Homer too speaks when he says:

"Whoso bears

A cruel heart, devising cruel things,

On him men call down evil from gods

While living, and pursue him, when he dies,

With scoffs. But whoso is of generous heart

p27 And harbours generous aims, his guests proclaim

His praises far and wide to all mankind,

And numberless are they who call him good."19

48 For my part, I should be most happy and eager, as I have said, to speak on this subject — on Zeus and the nature of the universe. But since it is altogether too vast a theme for the time now at my command and requires a somewhat careful demonstration, perhaps in the future there may be leisure for its presentation. 49 But if you would like to hear a myth, or rather a sacred and withal edifying parable told under the guise of a myth, perhaps a story which I once heard an old woman of Elis or Arcadia relate about Heracles will not appear to you out of place, either now or hereafter when you come to ponder it alone.

50 Once when I chanced to be wandering in exile — and great is my gratitude to the gods that they thus prevented my becoming an eye-witness of many an act of injustice20 — I visited as many lands as possible, at one time going among the Greeks, at another among barbarians, assuming the guise and dress of a vagabond beggar,

"Demanding crusts, not caldrons fine or swords."21

51 At last I arrived in the Peloponnesus, and keeping quite aloof from the cities, spent my time in the country, as being quite well worth study, mingling with herdsmen and hunters, an honest folk of simple p29habits. 52 As I walked along the Alpheus on my way from Heraea to Pisa,22 I succeeded in finding the road for some distance, but all at once I got into some wood land and rough country, where a number of trails led to sundry herds and flocks, without meeting anybody or being able to inquire my way. So I lost my direction, and at high noon was quite astray. But noticing on a high knoll a clump of oaks that looked like a sacred grove, I made my way thither in the hope of discovering from it some roadway or house. 53 There I found blocks of stone set roughly together, hanging pelts of animals that had been sacrificed, and a number of clubs and staves — all evidently being dedications of herdsmen. At a little distance I saw a woman sitting, strong and tall though rather advanced in years, dressed like a rustic and with some braids of grey hair falling about her shoulders. 54 Of her I made full inquiry about the place, and she most graciously and kindly, speaking in the Dorian dialect, informed me that it was sacred to Heracles and, regarding herself, that she had a son, a shepherd, whose sheep she often tendered herself. She also said that the Mother of the Gods23 had given her the gift of divination and that all the herdsmen and farmers round about consulted her on the raising and preservation of their crops and cattle. 55 "And you too," she continued, "have come into this place by no mere human chance, for I shall not let you depart unblest." Thereupon she at once began to prophesy, saying that the period of my wandering and tribulation would not be long, nay, nor that of mankind at large. p3156 The manner of her prophesying was not that of most men and women who are said to be inspired; she did not gasp for breath, whirl her head about, or try to terrify with her glances, but spoke with entire self-control and moderation.

"Some day," she said, "you will meet a mighty man, the ruler of very many lands and peoples.24 Do not hesitate to tell him this tale of mine even if there be those who will ridicule you for a prating vagabond. 57 For the words of men and all their subtleties are as naught in comparison with the inspiration and speech due to the promptings of the gods. Indeed, of all the words of wisdom and truth current among men about the gods and the universe, none have ever found lodgment in the souls of men except by the will and ordering of heaven and through the lips of the prophets and holy men of old. 58 For instance, they say there once lived in Thrace a certain Orpheus, a Muse's son; and on a certain mountain of Boeotia another, a shepherd who heard the voices of the Muses themselves.25 Those teachers, on the other hand, who without divine possession and inspiration have circulated as true stories born of their own imaginings are presumptuous and wicked.

"Hear, therefore, the following tale and listen with vigilance and attention that you may remember it clearly and pass it on to that man whom I say you will meet. It has to do with this god in whose presence we now are. 59 Heracles was, as all men agree, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, and he was king not only of Argos but of all Greece. (Most people, however, do not know that Heracles was continually absent p33from Argos because he was engaged in making expeditions and defending his kingdom, but they assert that Eurystheus was king at this time. These, however, are but their idle tales.) 60 And he was not only king of Greece, but also held empire over every land from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof, aye, over all peoples where are found shrines of Heracles. 61 He had a simple education too, with none of the elaboration and superfluity devised by the unscrupulous cleverness of contemptible men.

"This, also, is told of Heracles: that he went unclothed and unarmed except for a lion's skin and a club, 62 and they add that he did not set great store by gold or silver or fine raiment, but considered all such things worth nothing save to be given away and bestowed upon others. At any rate he made presents to many men, not only of money without limit and lands and herds of horses and cattle, but also of whole kingdoms and cities. For he fully believed that everything belonged to him exclusively and that gifts bestowed would call out the good-will of the recipients. 63 Another story which men tell is untrue: that he actually went about alone without an army. For it is not possible to overturn cities, cast down tyrants, and to dictate to the whole world without armed forces. It is only because, being self-reliant, zealous of soul, and competent in body, he surpassed all men in labour, that the story arose that he travelled alone and accomplished single-handed whatsoever he desired.

64 "Moreover, his father took great pains with him, p35implanting in him noble impulses and bringing him into the fellowship of good men. He would also give him guidance for each and every enterprise through birds and burnt offerings and every other kind of divination. 65 And when he saw that the lad wished to be a ruler, not through desire for pleasure and personal gain, which leads most men to love power, but that he might be able to do the greatest good to the greatest number, he recognized that his son was naturally of noble parts, and yet suspected how much in him was mortal and thought of the many baneful examples of luxurious and licentious living among mankind, and of the many men there were to entice a youth of fine natural qualities away from his true nature and his principles even against his will. 66 So with these considerations in mind he despatched Hermes after instructing him as to what he should do. Hermes therefore came to Thebes, where the lad Heracles was being reared, and told him who he was and who had sent him. Then, taking him in charge, he led him over a secret path untrodden of man till he came to a conspicuous and very lofty mountain-peak whose sides were dreadfully steep with sheer precipices and with the deep gorge of a river that encompassed it, whence issued a mighty rumbling and roaring. Now to anyone looking up from below the crest above seemed single; but it was in fact double, rising from a single base; and the two peaks were far indeed from each other. 67 The one of them bore the name Peak Royal and was sacred to Zeus the King; the other, Peak Tyrannous, was named after the giant Typhon. There were two approaches to them from without, each having one. The path that led to Peak Royal was safe and broad, p37so that a person mounted on a car might enter thereby without peril or mishap, if he had the permission of the greatest of the gods. The other was narrow, crooked, and difficult, so that most of those who attempted it were lost over the cliffs and in the flood below, the reason being, methinks, that they transgressed justice in taking that path. 68 Now, as I have said, to most persons the two peaks appear to be practically one and undivided, inasmuch as they see them from a distance; but in fact Peak Royal towers so high above the other that it stands above the clouds in the pure and serene ether itself, whereas the other is much lower, lying in the very thick of the clouds, wrapped in darkness and fog.

69 "Hermes then explained the nature of the place to Heracles as he led him thither. But when Heracles, ambitious youth that he was, longed to see what was within, he said, 'Follow, then, that you may see with your own eyes the difference in all other respects also, things hidden from the foolish.' 70 He therefore took him first to the loftier peak and showed him a woman seated upon a resplendent throne. She was beautiful and stately, clothed in white raiment, and held in her hand a sceptre, not of gold or silver, but of a different substance, pure and much brighter — a figure for all the world like the pictures of Hera. 71 Her countenance was at once radiant and full of dignity, so that all the good could behold it without fear, but no evil person could gaze upon it any more than a man with weak eyes can look up at the orb of the sun; composed and steadfast was her mien, and her glance did not waver. 72 A profound stillness p39and unbroken quiet pervaded the place; everywhere were fruits in abundance and thriving animals of every species. And immense heaps of gold and silver were there, and of bronze and iron; yet she heeded not at all the gold, nor did she take delight in it, but rather in the fruits and living creatures.

73 "Now when Heracles beheld the woman, he was abashed and blushes mantled his cheeks, for he felt that respect and reverence for her which a good son feels for a noble mother. Then he asked Hermes which of the deities she was, and he replied, 'Lo, that is the blessed Lady Royalty, child of King Zeus.' And Heracles rejoiced and took courage in her presence. And again he asked about the women who were with her. 'Who are they?' said he; 'how decorous and stately, like men in countenance!' 74 'Behold,' he replied, 'she who sits there at her right hand, whose glance is both fierce and gentle, is Justice, aglow with a surpassing and resplendent beauty. Beside her sits Civic Order, who is very much like her and differs but slightly in appearance. 75 On the other side is a woman exceeding beautiful, daintily attired, and smiling benignly; they call her Peace. But he who stands near Royalty, just beside the sceptre and somewhat in front of it, a strong man, grey-haired and proud, has the name of Law; but he has also been called Right Reason, Counsellor, Coadjutor, without whom these women are not permitted to take any action or even to purpose one.'

76 "With all that he heard and saw Heracles was delighted, and he paid close attention, determined p41never to forget it. But when they had come down from the higher peak and were at the entrance to Tyranny, Hermes said, 'Look this way and behold the other woman. It is with her that the majority of men are infatuated and to win her they give themselves much trouble of every kind, committing murder, wretches that they are, son often conspiring against father, father against son, and brother against brother, since they covet and count as felicity that which is the greatest evil — power conjoined with folly.'26 77 He then began by showing Heracles the nature of the entrance, explaining that whereas only one pathway appeared to view, that being about as described above — perilous and skirting the very edge of the precipice — yet there were many unseen and hidden corridors, and that the entire region was undermined on every side and tunnelled, no doubt up to the very throne, and that all the passages and bypaths were smeared with blood and strewn with corpses. Through none, however, of these passages did Hermes lead him, but along the outside one that was less befouled, because, I think, Heracles was to be a mere observer.

78 "When they entered, they discovered Tyranny seated aloft, of set purpose counterfeiting and making herself like to Royalty, but, as she imagined, on a far loftier and more splendid throne, since it was not only adorned with innumerable carvings, but embellished besides with inlaid patterns of gold, ivory, amber, ebony, and substances of every colour. Her p43throne, however, was not secure upon its foundation nor firmly settled, but shook and slouched upon its legs. 79 And in general things were in disorder, everything suggesting vainglory, ostentation, and luxury — many sceptres, many tiaras and diadems for the head. Furthermore, in her zeal to imitate the character of the other woman, instead of the friendly smile Tyranny wore a leer of false humility, and instead of a glance of dignity she had an ugly and forbidding scowl. 80 But in order to assume the appearance of pride, she would not glance at those whom came into her presence but looked over their heads disdainfully. And so everybody hated her, and she herself ignored everybody. She was unable to sit with composure, but would cast her eyes incessantly in every direction, frequently springing up from her throne. She hugged her gold to her bosom in a disgusting manner and then in terror would fling it from her in a heap, then she would forthwith snatch at whatever any passer-by might have, were it never so little. 81 Her raiment was of many colours, purple, scarlet and saffron, with patches of white, too, showing here and there from her skirts, since her cloak was torn in many places. From her countenance glowed all manners of colours27 according to whether she felt terror or anguish or suspicion or anger; while at one moment she seemed prostrate with grief, at another she appeared to be in an exaltation of joy. At one time a quite wanton smile would come over her face, but at the next moment she would be in tears. 82 There was also a throng of p45women about her, but they resembled in no respect those whom I have described as in attendance upon Royalty. These were Cruelty, Insolence, Lawlessness, and Faction, all of whom were bent upon corrupting her and bringing her to ignoble ruin. And instead of Friendship, Flattery was there, servile and avaricious and no less ready for treachery than any of the others, nay rather, zealous above all things to destroy.

83 "Now when Heracles had viewed all this also to his heart's content, Hermes asked him which of the two scenes pleased him and which of the two women. 'Why, it is the other one,' said he, 'whom I admire and love, and she seems to me a veritable goddess, enviable and worthy to be accounted blest; this second woman, on the other hand, I consider so utterly odious and abominable that I would gladly thrust her down from this peak and thus put an end to her.' Whereupon Hermes commended Heracles for this utterance and repeated it to Zeus, who entrusted him with the kingship over all mankind as he considered him equal to the trust.28 84 And so wherever Heracles discovered a tyranny and a tyrant, he chastised and destroyed them, among Greeks and barbarians alike; but wherever he found a kingdom and a king, he would give honour and protection."

This, she maintained, was what made him Deliverer of the earth and of the human race, not the fact that he defended them from the savage beasts — for how little damage could a lion or a wild p47bear inflict? — nay, it was the fact that he chastised savage and wicked men, and crushed and destroyed the power of overweening tyrants. And even to this day Heracles continues this work and you have in him a helper and protector of your government as long as it is vouchsafed you to reign.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 He played at Alexander's wedding. See Athenaeus 12.54.538.

2 A king of Assyria whose name became proverbial as a type of effeminacy and luxury.

3 Mythical Phrygian peasant, or satyr, who played the flute so well that he was emboldened to challenge Apollo to a musical contest.

4 Mythical Greek musician associated with Marsyas.

5 When Alexander's friend Hephaestion died, he had the physician crucified and the battlements taken away from the cities round about.

6 A reference to the destruction of Thebes when it revolted.

7 In a drunken quarrel Alexander slew his friend Cleitus.

8 The story, supported by his mother Olympias, was current that the god Ammon, and not Philip, was his father. See also Discourse 4.19. Consequently he despised Philip.

9 Theognis of Megara, 432 (Bergk-Crusius). Asclepius (Latin Aesculapius) was the god of medicine and healing.

10 Iliad 2.205‑6.

11 Plato (Republic 4.421B) contrasts true guardians of a city with those who would exploit it, whom he calls "caterers." See also ibid., 1.345C, where the same contrast is made.

12 A reminiscence of Homer, Iliad 2.24‑25, where the dream says to Agamemnon: "To sleep the whole night through beseemeth not a man that is a counsellor, to whom a host is entrusted, and upon whom rest so many cares." — Murray in L. C. L.

13 For the thought compare Discourse 4.25.

14 Trajan is meant.

15 In Iliad 2.196 for example.

16 Ibid., 2.169 and 407 for example, where Odysseus is called Διὶ μῆτιν ἀτάλαντον.

17 Odyssey 19.179.

18 Compare Discourse 12.75.

19 Odyssey 19.329‑34.

20 An allusion to the tyranny of Domitian, by whom Dio was banished.

21 Odyssey 17.222; the goatherd Melanthius is taunting Odysseus, who, dressed as a beggar, is on his way to his home. Swords and bowls were honourable gifts for noble strangers.

22 Heraea and Pisa were in the western part of the Peloponnese. The famous Olympian games were held not far from the latter place.

23 Also called the "Great Mother" and Cybele. She was the great goddess of Asia Minor.

24 Trajan.

25 Linus, who was worshipped on Mount Helicon in Boeotia. Virgil (Eclogue 4.55‑6) and Apollodorus (Bibliotheca 1.3.2) also couple the names of Orpheus and Linus.

26 Dio calls power conjoined with folly the greatest evil, but it is power alone that men covet. Yet when the wrong sort of men gain power, folly is the result. Aristotle, Frag. 89, p1492, l. 11 (Berlin ed.) says: Τίκτει . . . ἀπαιδευσία μετ᾽ ἐξουσίας ἄνοιαν. — "Ignorance conjoined with power produces folly."

27 Cf. Plato, Lysis 222B: ὁ δὲ Ἱπποθάλης ὑπὸ τῆς ἡδονῆς παντοδαπὰ ἠφίει χρώματα. — "And Hippothales' countenance from pleasure glowed with all manner of colours."

28 Another account of the choice of Hercules is found in Xenophon's Memorabilia 2.1.21, and in Cicero, de Officiis 1.32. It is said to have been invented by the sophist Prodicus.


Thayer's Notes:

a The title Pater Patriae, "Father of the Country", was among the titles decreed by the Roman Senate to a number of emperors; but it was one of the less automatically given of such titles, and usually not at the beginning of an emperor's rule, but after he had proved himself. This passage helps date Dio's speech, and is presumably the "internal evidence" mentioned in the translator's introduction: Trajan was honored by the title toward the beginning of his reign, in 98 or 99 depending on the authority.

b Spoken like a philosopher, and with the audacity of the Cynic: Dio tells Trajan "If the shoe fits, wear it" — and that is as much flattery as the emperor will get out of him. From the standpoint of humanity, philosophy, and literary sense of proportion, what a refreshing antidote this little paragraph is to the obsequious Panegyric addressed to the same Trajan by Pliny the Younger, loathsome in its servile flatteries, vacuous in its repetitiveness, and bulked out of all proportion in 110 pages of print!

Yet flattery there is, of the most subtle and effective kind, and so understated as to leave no defense against it. Imagine for a moment that little sentence spoken to a person like Domitian: it could not fail to produce in the tyrant some distinctly uncomfortable feelings, and eliciting them would have been a very dangerous thing for Dio to do. The fact that Dio can say this at all testifies to Trajan's decency. Pliny's ramblings, on the other hand, could be addressed with equal safety to the most savage tyrant!


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