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Discourse 33

This webpage reproduces one of the
Discourses

by
Dio Chrysostom

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1940

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 35

(Vol. III) Dio Chrysostom
Discourses

p335 The Thirty-fourth, or Second Tarsic, Discourse

This Discourse, like the one preceding, was evidently delivered before a public gathering of the citizens of Tarsus. Which of the two was the earlier we have no means of knowing. Both seem to belong to Dio's later years. Yet the tone of each is so distinct as to proclaim two separate visits. In the one the speaker has much to say regarding the decadence of the times, but he still feels at liberty to treat that theme in lighter vein, laughing both at and with his audience and interlarding his remarks with quotations from the ancient poets and with literary criticism, and in general showing himself quite at ease, as indeed would befit one who spoke on invitation. In the other there seems to be no question of an invitation: Dio comes as a messenger from God in time of need. He gives not a single line of verse, and his only reference to classic times consists in the citation of Sparta and Athens as horrible examples of the fate reserved for arrogance and selfishness. The few touches of humour only serve to emphasize the speaker's earnestness.

Thus the two speeches serve to complement each other and to reveal a proud city of ancient origin, thoroughly alive, though suffering from the natural results of too great prosperity. Despite the oriental element in the population, Tarsus could be relied upon to understand allusions to Greek poetry and myth and history, and the gymnasium and the sports connected with it might well explain Paul's fondness for athletic phrase and imagery.

p337 The Thirty-fourth, or Second Tarsic, Discourse

I am well aware, men of Tarsus, that it is customary both here and elsewhere for citizen to mount the platform and give advice; not just any citizens, but those who are prominent and men of wealth, and particularly those who have honourably performed their special services toward the state.1a For it is not reasonable, if I may say so, that you should have your share in the possessions of the wealthy but fail to profit by their intelligence, whatever that may be. And yet, whenever you wish to listen to harpists or pipes or to enjoy the sight of athletes, you do not call upon only men of wealth or your fellow citizens, but rather upon those who have expert knowledge and capacity, and this is true not only of you but of everybody like you.2

2 However, I am well aware also that it is customary for most people to give the name of Cynic to men who dress as I do;3 not only do they think Cynics to be no better than themselves and incompetent in practical affairs, but they consider them to be not even of sound mind to begin with, but a crazy, p339wretched lot. And some are prone to mock and ridicule such people, and all too often not even to endure their silence, much less listen patiently when they speak.

3 And furthermore, I hear that at the present moment you have a personal grievance4 against philosophers, and indeed that you uttered curses against them — not as a class, to be sure, but in a few instances, displaying great reserve and moderation in so doing, inasmuch as you refrained from cursing philosophers in general if merely the philosophers in Tarsus were guilty of some blunder, but possibly failing to note that, though you cursed indeed, it was not really at philosophers. For no one is a philosopher5 who belongs among the unjust and wicked, not even if he goes about more naked than the statues are.6 But those, in truth, who seek to harm their fellow-citizens seem to me somewhat far removed from that classification.

4 Then in what expectation and with what purpose has a man of my stamp come before you at such a crisis? For such a step savours of real madness. I am here because there is nothing which I myself require of you, while on the contrary I have been much concerned to be of service to you. If, then, you refuse to bear with me, clearly it will be your loss and not my own. Yet is it not fitting, if you believe p341that I am really mad,7 that you should for that very reason listen to me? For you must not think that eagles and falcons foretell to mankind what is required of them and that the counsel derived from such creatures is trustworthy because of its spontaneity and its divine inspiration, while refusing to believe that a man who has come, as I have come, having no connection with you from any point of view, has come by divine guidance to address and counsel you. 5 Moreover, the messages of birds of omen require conjecture for their interpretation, whereas, as soon as one has heard my message one can understand its meaning and can take it under consideration, if in fact it clearly is something useful.

But now that I am on the subject,8 I want to tell you something that happened in Phrygia, in order that at the very outset you may have an opportunity to laugh at my expense.9 A man of Phrygia was riding on an ox. And when he spied a crow, having made the proper observation of the omen (for Phrygians are clever at that sort of thing), he hurled a stone at it and, by good luck, struck the bird. Accordingly he was much pleased, and, thinking that his own ill-fortune had thus been diverted to the crow, he picked up the bird, remounted the ox, and rode along. But the crow after a brief interval recovered; and the ox, taking fright, threw the man, and he broke his leg in the fall. So that is the way he fared for having shown ingratitude for the sign.10 6 But I,  methinks, have planned much more safely than the crow, and have come to men who are more p343considerate than the Phrygian. For if I seem to you to be talking rubbish, you will surely not pelt me with stones but will merely raise a hubbub.

Well then, since you are silent and indulgent toward me, first of all I wish to point out to you one thing, in case you are not fully aware of it — that you need good judgement in the present emergency, and that your problems are such as to merit counsel and much foresight; secondly, that no man in this company can readily advise you as to the proper course of action, some being really ignorant of your true advantage and some being swayed by fear of you or of others, and in certain instances, I dare say, looking rather to their own interests. 7 Next I shall indicate my own opinion with reference to these affairs and suggest by what course of action on your part at the moment and by what general policy in your leadership of the city, things will, as I believe, work out in all respects to your advantage for the future also.

For, men of Tarsus, it has come to pass that you are foremost among your people, not merely because your city is the greatest of all the cities of Cilicia and a metropolis from the start,11 but also because you beyond all others gained the friendly support of the second Caesar.12 For the misfortune that befell the city on his account naturally made him well disposed toward you, and eager that the favours received at his hands should appear in your eyes of greater importance than the misfortunes he had occasioned.13 8 Accordingly everything a man might p345bestow upon those who were truly friends and allies and had displayed such eagerness in his behalf he has bestowed upon you:14 land, laws, honour, control of the river and of the sea in your quarter of the world. And this is why your city grew rapidly, and also because not much time had elapsed since its capture;15 just as with men who have experienced serious illness but have speedily recovered: when they receive adequate care thereafter, they are frequently in better health than before.

9 Furthermore, as to subsequent events at least, contrary to popular belief it benefited your city when some of your superior officers proved to be men of violence and you proceeded to prosecute them.16 Certainly in order to show that you amounted to something, and could aid yourselves and others too — and also, by Zeus, to make their successors not quite so ready to do wrong — it was really beneficial for those men of violence to pay the penalty for their misdeeds; and yet, in another way, it made the city an object of hatred, and gave you the reputation of being naturally captious and prone to bring accusations rashly. For to make many accusations has ere this been held to be a sign of malicious prosecution, especially when the accusation involves men in authority, and is brought before men in authority. For people suspect that the hostility arose, not because you were treated too severely, but because you were unwilling to submit to authority.

p347 10 To continue then, another happening in which you were concerned has, in a measure, turned out like that just mentioned. For the people of Aegae,17 having resumed a foolish quarrel with you, being at fault in the matter of the registers,18 did indeed fail in that enterprise, but they made the dislike against you still greater, and they stealthily developed a prejudice against your city as being obnoxious and oppressive toward the other cities. 11 And these instances, it is true, are drawn from times gone by; but at this present moment the people of Mallus19 certainly are at odds with you and, although wholly in the wrong themselves and guilty of insolence, yet because of their weakness and their inferiority as compared with you, they always assume the air of being the injured party. For it is not what men do that some persons consider but who they are; nor is it the wrong-doers or those who actually resort to force whom they often wish to criticize, but rather those who may be expected to resort to force because they have the greater power. At any rate, if anything had been done by you such as has been done by Mallus in the present instance,20 people would think that you were sacking their cities and starting a revolution and war, and that an army must take the field against you.

12 Well, it is a shame, then," someone will say, "if they are to be at liberty to do whatever they p349please and to derive that advantage from their very helplessness, while we are to be in danger if we make a single move." Granted that it is a shame and unfair, still, if some unfairness is the natural consequence, you should not through obstinacy on that point cause yourselves to be involved in an absurd situation, but should rather look to the future and be on your guard. For what is happening to you resembles what happens in the case of athletes when a smaller man contends against one much larger. 13 For the larger man is not allowed to do anything against the rules, but even if unwittingly he is guilty of a foul, he gets the lash;21 whereas nobody observes the smaller, though he does anything within his power. Accordingly not only in athletics is it the part of a man of discretion and one who is really the better man to win by his strength and overlook these unfair advantages, but also in your case, if you are sensible, you will by justice and by the greatness of your city overcome those who bear you malice, and you will do nothing in anger or vexation. And on that subject more later, as indeed, methinks, I promised in the beginning.22

14 But at the moment I shall treat the other items that still remain, giving to them that fuller consideration which I claim is required by the present crisis. At any rate the hatred and rebellion of Mallus ought to disturb you less than it does. But the fact that your neighbours in Soli and in Adana,23 and possibly some others, are in a similar frame of mind and are not a whit more reasonable, but chafe under your domination and speak ill of you and prefer to be subject to others than yourselves — all this creates the suspicion that possibly the people of Aegae and p351of Mallus also are not wholly unwarranted in their vexation, and that their estrangement has not been due in the one instance to envy and in the other to a determination to get unfair advantage, but that possibly there is an element of truth in what they say about your city, namely, that it does somehow bully and annoy peoples who are weaker. 15 For although these charges are not actually true, still they might do you the same harm as if they were.

Well then, consider also the nature of your relations with the general.24 At first there was merely distrust, on the assumption that you were not agreeably disposed toward him; but still he performed his civic duties toward you and you toward him, and there was nothing visible on the surface; but recently you, irritated by the thought that you were getting the worst of it, made a statement, and he on his part was moved to write angrily and to put that anger into operation, a thing he had never done before.

16 'Yes, by Zeus,' some one may retort, 'but at least the business of the city itself and our dealings with one another are proceeding as they should.' Is it not true that but a day or two ago the Assembly took one course and the Council another and that the Elders25 still maintain a position of independence, each body clearly consulting its own self-interest? It was just as if, when a ship is putting in for shore, p353the sailors should seek their own advantage, the pilot his, and the owner his. For even if this comparison26 is made repeatedly, still it is your duty not on that account to disregard it. For it is not that which is told for the first time nor that which one has never heard before which one should eagerly accept as true,27 but rather that which is germane to the situation and may be put to some practical use.

17 "Oh yes," you may reply, "but now we have reached an agreement and are united in our counsel." Nay, who could regard as safe and sure that sort of concord, a concord achieved in anger and of no more than three or four days' standing? Why, you would not say a man was in assured good health who a short time back was burning with fever. Well then, neither must you say you are in concord until, if possible, you have enjoyed a period of concord many times as long as that — at any rate as long as your discord — and just because perhaps on some occasion you all have voiced the same sentiment and experienced the same impulse, you must not for that reason assume that now at last the disease has been eradicated from the city. 18 For the fact is that with discordant instruments of music sometimes the notes do sound in unison for a brief moment, only straightway to clash again. Or again, just as the act of wounding and dismembering takes place quickly and quite easily, but the process p355of healing and knitting together requires time and serious attention, so it is also in the case of cities: quarrelling and party strife within easy reach and frequently occur for paltry reasons, whereas men may not, by Zeus, immediately arrive at a real settlement of their difficulties and acquire the mental state and the confidence of their neighbours befitting such a settlement merely by claiming to be repentant, nor yet by being thought to be repentant.

19 For not among you alone, I dare say, but also among all other peoples, such a consummation requires a great deal of attentive care — or, shall I say, prayer? For only by getting rid of the vices that excite and disturb men, the vices of envy, greed, contentiousness, the striving in each case to promote one's own welfare at the expense of both one's native land and the common weal — only so, I repeat, is it possible ever to breathe the breath of harmony in full strength and vigour and to unite upon a common policy. Since those in whom these and similar vices are prevalent must necessarily be in a constant state of instability, and liable for paltry reasons to clash and be thrown into confusion, just as happens at sea when contrary winds prevail. 20 For, let me tell you, you must not think that there is harmony in the Council itself, nor yet among yourselves, the Assembly. At any rate, if one were to run through the entire list of citizens, I believe he would not discover even two men in Tarsus who think alike, but on the contrary, just as with certain incurable and distressing diseases which are accustomed to pervade the whole body, exempting no member of it from their inroads, p357so this state of discord, this almost complete estrangement of one from another, has invaded your entire body politic.

21 For instance, to leave now the discord of Council and Assembly, of the Youth and the Elders,28 there is a group of no small size which is, as it were, outside the constitution. And some are accustomed to call them 'linen-workers,'29 and at times the citizens are irritated by them and assert that they are a useless rabble and responsible for the tumult and disorder in Tarsus, while at other times they regard them as a part of the city and hold the opposite opinion of them. Well, if you believe them to be detrimental to you and instigators of insurrection and confusion, you should expel them altogether and not admit them to your popular assemblies; but if on the other hand you regard them as being in some measure citizens, not only because they are resident in Tarsus, but also because in most instances they were born here and know no other city, then surely it is not fitting to disfranchise them or to cut them off from association with you. 22 But as it is, they necessarily stand aloof in sentiment from the common interest, reviled as they are and viewed as outsiders. But there is nothing more harmful to a city than such conditions, nothing more conducive to strife and disagreement. Take for example the human body: the bulk that comes with the passing years, if it is in keeping with the rest of the person and natural to it, produces p359well-being and a desirable stature, but otherwise it is a cause stature, but otherwise it is a cause of disease and death.

23 "Well then, what do you bid us do?" I bid you enroll them all as citizens — yes, I do — and just as deserving as yourselves, and not to reproach them or cast them off, but rather to regard them as members of your body politic, as in fact they are. For it cannot be that by the mere payment of five hundred drachmas a man can come to love you and immediately be found worthy of citizenship;30 and, at the same time, that a man who through poverty or through the decision of some keeper-of‑the‑rolls has failed to get the rating of a citizen — although not only he himself had been born in Tarsus, but also his father and his forefathers as well — is therefore incapable of affection for the city or of considering it to be his fatherland; it cannot be that, if a man is a linen-worker, he is inferior to his neighbour and deserves to have his occupation cast in his teeth and to be reviled for it, whereas, if he is a dyer or a cobbler or a carpenter, it is unbecoming to make those occupations a reproach.31a

24 But, speaking generally, it was not, perhaps, with the purpose of treating this special one among the problems of your city nor of pointing out its seriousness that I came before you, but rather that I might make plain to you how you stand with regard to one another, and, by Zeus, to make plain also whether it is expedient that you should rely upon the present system and believe that now you are really p361united. Take, for example, a house or a ship or other things like that; this is the way in which I expect men to make appraisal. They should not consider merely present conditions, to see if the structure affords shelter now or does not let in the sea, but they should consider how as a whole it has been constructed and put together, to see that there are no open seams or rotten planks. 25 And I must add that I do not find existing in your favour now that asset which I said32 had in the past increased the prestige of Tarsus — your having placed to your credit with the Emperor exceptional service and kindness — evidently because he has no further need of such assistance. However, the fact remains that you have no advantage with him over the other dominions; consequently what you obtained from Caesar on that former occasion through your loyalty and friendship you should safeguard for the future through good behaviour and through giving no occasion for criticism.

26 And let no one suppose that in saying this I am advising you to put up with absolutely anybody and to endure any and every thing; nay, my purpose is rather that you, being acquainted with your own situation, may not only take better counsel in the present instance, but may also in the future demand that the man who comes forward to speak shall make his proposals to you, not in an off-hand manner nor on the inspiration of the moment, but with full knowledge and after careful examination of every detail. For the physician who has investigated minutely the symptoms of his patient, so that nothing can escape him, is the one who is likely to administer the best treatment.

p363 27 That your present situation, then, demands careful attention, and a better adviser than those who ascend the rostrum by chance or for mercenary reasons or because of family position, you can perceive in some measure from what follows. For at a time when your own harmony is not assured, and when most of the cities that surround you are not on friendly terms with you, but some are envious through long rivalry with you, while others are actively hostile because of disputes over territory, and still others claim to be subject to annoyance in one form or another, and when the general supposes, to be sure, that your feeling toward him is improving, although you and he have been compelled to clash with one another even previously, and when, furthermore, you are viewed with jealousy because of the very magnitude of your city and the ability you will have to rob your neighbours of many of their possessions — at a time like this, how can you for these reasons fail to require careful and well-considered judgement?

28 "Well then," you interject, "are not the citizens competent to appraise this situation and to give advice regarding it?" Absurd! For if the leaders and statesmen in the cities were competent to hit upon the proper course, all men would always fare handsomely and be free from harm — unless of course some chance misfortune should perversely befall one city or another. But on the contrary, in my opinion, both in former days and at the present time you would find that more dreadful things have happened to cities through ignorance of what is to their interest and through the mistakes of their leaders than the disasters that happen by divine will or through mere chance.

p365 29 For sometimes men without any ability to perceive what is needful, men who have never given heed to their own welfare in the past, incompetent to manage even a village as it should be managed, but recommended only by wealth or family, undertake the task of government; still others undertake that task in the belief that they are displaying diligence if they merely heap up phrases and string them together in any way at all with greater speed than most men can, although in all else they are in no way superior to anybody else. And what is most serious is that these men, not for the sake of what is truly best and in the interest of their country itself, but for the sake of reputation and honours and the possession of greater power than their neighbours, in the pursuit of crowns33 and precedence34 and purple robes,35 fixing their gaze upon these things and staking all upon their attainment, do and say such things as will enhance their own reputations. 30 Consequently one may see in every city many who have been awarded crowns, who sacrifice in public, who come forth arrayed in purple; but a man of probity and wisdom, who is really devoted to his own country, and thinks and speaks the truth, whose influence with the city that follows his advice insures better management and the attainment of some blessing — such a man is hard to find.

31 Yes, this is bound to happen, one might say. For when men think it is those who have performed liturgies1b or will some day do so36 who should counsel p367them, and when, provided a man is gymnasiarch37 or demiourgos,38 he is the only one whom they allow to make a speech — or, by Zeus, the so‑called orators39 — it is very much as if they were to call upon only the heralds or the harpists or the bankers. Accordingly men come forward to address you who are both empty-headed and notoriety-hunters to boot, and it is with mouth agape for the clamour of the crowd, and not at all from sound judgement or understanding, that they speak, but just as if walking in the dark they are always swept along according to the clapping and the shouting.

32 And yet if someone should tell pilots that they should seek in every way to please their passengers, and that when applauded by them they should steer the ship in whatever way those passengers desired, it would take no great storm to overturn their ship. Frequently, you know, a seasick land-lubber or some nervous female at the sight of rocks fancies that land and harbour are in view and implores the skipper to steer for shore.b 33 But I say that the counsellor who is a good counsellor and fit to be leader of a city should be prepared to withstand absolutely all those things which are considered difficult or vexatious, and especially the vilifications and the anger of the mob. Like the promontories that form our harbours, which receive the full violence of the sea but keep the inner waters calm and peaceful, p369so he too should stand out against the violence of the people, whether they are inclined to burst into a rage or abuse him or take any measures whatever, and he should be wholly unaffected by such outbursts, and neither if they applaud him, should he on that account be elated, nor, if he feels he is being insulted, should he be depressed.

34 However, what happens at Tarsus is not like that. No one of your statesmen, as I am told, holds that40 to be his function, nor is it so any longer with the commons; but, on the contrary, some persons stand absolutely aloof, and some come forward to speak quite casually, barely touching on the issue — as people touch the libation with their lips — claiming that it is not safe for them to dedicate their lives of that government. And yet, though no one could be successful as a ship-owner or money-lender or farmer if he made those occupations a side-issue, still men try to run the government out of their spare time and put everything else ahead of statecraft. 35 And some, in case they do accept office, seek therein only to engage in some enterprise out of which they may emerge with added glory for themselves, making that their sole aim. Accordingly for six months41 they are your 'men of valour,' frequently not to the advantage of the city either. And so at one moment it is So-and‑so who makes the motions, and hard upon his heels comes someone else in quick succession, and then a third; and he who but one brief month p371ago was resplendent and claimed to be the only one who cared for the city cannot be seen even coming to the assembly. 36 It reminds me of a parade, in which each participant, eager to catch the public eye, exerts himself to that end until he has passed beyond the spectators, but when he gets a short distance away, he relaxes his pose and is just one of the many and goes home in happy-go‑lucky style. However, while your president should regard his six months as the limit to his term of office — for so the law prescribes — still the statesman should not, by heaven, observe any set term for the exercise of benevolence toward you and of care and concern for the commonwealth — and that too a term so brief — nay, he should strip for action for that very purpose and hold himself in readiness for service constantly. 37 But at present, just like men who sail with offshore breezes — or rather with gusts from the storm-clouds — so are you swept along, men of Tarsus, though neither such statecraft nor such voyaging has aught of certainty or of safety in it. For such blasts are not the kind to last for ever or to blow devoid of interruption, but they often sink a ship by falling upon it with undiminished violence. And a city of such size and splendour as your own should have men who truly take thought on its behalf. But as things go now, I dare say, under these transitory, short-lived demagogues no good can come to you.

38 Well then, on these topics, as well as on countless others too, there is a great deal one might say. But since I myself also from the very day of my arrival here have played the demagogue for you, p373and that though I find fault with men of that sort, I must notwithstanding express my opinion regarding your present situation, as indeed I promised to do.42 And first of all, your dealings with the general — but what I have to say will cover everything. Very well then, I say that men who find themselves in such a situation as yours,43 which of course is the common situation everywhere today, should be so minded as not, on the one hand, to submit to any and every thing and allow those in authority to treat them simply as they please, no matter to what lengths of insolence and greed they may proceed; nor, on the other hand, to be disposed to put up with nothing disagreeable whatever, or to expect, as you might, that some Minos or Perseus44 will arrive in these days to take care of them. 39 For to refrain entirely from coming to one's own assistance is the conduct of slaves, and it is a serious matter if no remnant of hesitancy or distrust is to be left in the minds of those who deal unfairly. And yet for the populace to incur hatred and be constantly prying into everything is not to your advantage either. For if you get the reputation of making complaints now and then without good reason, and someone gets the better of you — and there are many reasons why this might happen — I fear that you may lose the right of free speech altogether. Pray consider what the people of Ionia have done. They have passed a decree prohibiting accusations against anyone at all. p375So men of sense should foresee all these contingencies and not, like men inexperienced in fighting, rashly abandoning the equipment they have, be defenceless from then on and unable to act at all, not even if an enemy threatens them with slaughter.

40 This, however, I declare as a general principle: that so uncompromising a policy which, although you have no intention to proceed to active measures, nevertheless makes you incur the distrust of your superior officers; but on the contrary, when you decide that you are going to remove some one, and it is thought that he is guilty of such misdeeds that it is not expedient to ignore them, make yourselves ready to convict him and immediately behave toward him as toward a personal enemy, and one who is plotting against you. But regarding a man concerning whom you foresee a different outcome, if you believe him to be guilty of no misdeeds — or none of any importance — or if for whatever reason you do not believe him to deserve such treatment, do not irritate him or move him to anger against the city. 41 In very much the same way, I fancy, if those burdens that we bear are very oppressive and we cannot endure them, we seek to cast them off as speedily as possible, whereas if we are only moderately inconvenienced by them and see that we must carry either the load we have or another that is greater, we consider how they may rest upon our shoulders as lightly as possible.

That is the policy of a prudent state. Under such a policy not only will most people be fond of you, but a man will fear to do you wrong, and men in general will not think you to be a wicked populace or an p377unreasoning mob, a mob that acts on a kind of impulse and in headlong fashion. 42 For this thing that your president is now doing45 would truly be altogether foolish, even if you were of a mind to bring accusations — though perhaps it may not yet be the proper moment to quarrel so openly and to make pronouncements; but remember that as soon as one of your fellow-citizens has in a moment of urgent need placed himself at the disposal of the state and gained a brilliant reputation by accusing two officials in quick succession, the masses think that they too must try some such exploit. But that is very much as if a man, on seeing a physician mix with some beneficent drug a small portion also of one that is deadly, and without any further knowledge as to how the medicine was compounded or how much to take, should wish to follow his example. Yet surely the belief that impromptu action in matters of highest moment and political leadership are within the competence of any one who has aspired to undertake it is not far removed from such behaviour.

43 However, when I have made a few more remarks regarding your dealing with the people of Mallus and with the other cities, I shall cease; for you seem to me to have displayed sufficient patience. Well then, with reference to the first — I mean the people of Mallus — if they have behaved at all senselessly, as indeed they have, lay aside your anger, graciously forgive them the revenge that you thought to be your due, and come to terms regarding your boundary dispute, believing that to endure such p379treatment and not to court a quarrel is, as in fact it is, a great achievement and one befitting men who are altogether superior, especially in relation to men so vastly inferior. 44 For there is no danger that you will be thought weaker than any men of Mallus that the future may produce. And do not listen to those who try to stir you up, but, if at all possible, act as your own judges, and, examining the matter with care apart from all malice or partiality for your own interests, make a settlement of the trouble; do not merely refrain from strife and from seeking to gain the advantage by any and all means, but concede and yield to them anything within reason. For just as you have words of praise for those in private life who are reasonable and prefer occasionally to submit to wrong rather than to quarrel with people, so also in public relations we find that cities of that sort are in good repute.

45 No, sand-dunes and swamp-land are of no value — for what revenue is derived from them or what advantage? — yet to show one's self to be honourable and magnanimous is rightly regarded as inexpressibly valuable. For to vie with the whole world in behalf of justice and virtue, and to take the initiative in friendship and harmony, and in these respects to surpass and prevail over all others, is the noblest of all victories and the safest too. But to seek by any and every means to maintain ascendancy in a conflict befits blooded game-cocks rather than men. 46 It may be true that, if Mallus because of the dunes and the p381pasturage on the sand were likely to become greater than Tarsus, you ought possibly to show so much concern; but as it is, disgrace and mockery are all you stand to gain from the objects of your quarrel. "Why, then," you may ask, "did not the people of Mallus scorn those things?" Because they are no better than you are. But, by heaven, it is you who want them to be so.46 However, what I thought fitting was that you should send them messengers and file an oral protest — for that would have been the procedure of superior and sensible men — but to be unduly excited and to have recourse immediately to the assertion of your authority and to feel insulted is rather to be expected of small-town folk.

47 So also with reference to the other cities, I ask that you behave mildly, considerately, with regard to your honour, and not in a spirit of hostility and hatred. For if you do, all men will follow your leadership willingly, with admiration and affection; and that is of more importance than to have Mallus sacrifice in Tarsus and there conduct its litigation.47 For it is of no advantage to you at all to have the people of either Adana or Aegae come to Tarsus to offer sacrifice; it is merely vanity and self-deception and empty, foolish pride. 48 On the other hand, goodwill and a reputation for superiority in virtue and kindliness — those are your true blessings, those are the objects worthy of emulation and serious regard. And you would pay heed to them, since your present behaviour is ridiculous. And whether it is a question of p383Aegaeans quarrelling with you, or Apameans with men of Antioch,48 or, to go farther afield, Smyrnaeans with Ephesians, it is an ass's shadow, as the saying goes, over which they squabble;49 for the right to lead and to wield authority belongs to others.50

49 Yes, there was a time in days gone by when jealous rivalry existed also between Athens and Sparta; and, at first, Sparta held the ascendancy, and then it came to pass that the Greeks inclined rather toward Athens, after the Persian wars. What, then, did the Spartan do? Abandoning his claims upon the islander, the Ionian, and the Greek of Hellespont, he proceeded to teach himself self-control and confined his attention to the affairs of Sparta, understanding clearly that nothing should be held more dear than law and order. Accordingly Sparta achieved its greatest prosperity during that period. 50 And as for the Athenians, it so happened that, as long as the cities were on friendly terms with them, and the Athenians behaved kindly as their leaders, they too prospered; but afterwards, when accusations and ill-will toward them accumulated and they saw fit to rule unwilling subjects, they suffered many disagreeable things. And the first thing of all to happen was to lose their commendation and good repute, and next to lose their power and wealth, and finally to become subject to their foes. And the Spartans had a similar experience: when they too p385once more held the reins of empire, departing from their own former principle, they found themselves in the same position as the Athenians.51 51 And yet those states of old possessed real power and great utility, if it be correct to call self-seeking by that name; whereas anyone seeing the disputes and occasions for hostility of the present time would, methinks, blush for shame, for in reality they make one think of fellow-slaves quarrelling with one another over glory and pre-eminence.

What then? Is there nothing noble in this our day to merit one's serious pursuit? The greatest things, yes the only things worthy of serious pursuit, were present then, are present now, and always will be; and over these no man, surely, has control, whether to confer them on another or to take them away from him who has them, but, on the contrary, they are always at one's disposal, whether it be a private citizen or the body politic. But the discussion of these matters perhaps would take too long. 52 And yet I am not unaware that the philosophers are believed by many to be engaged in relaxing everything and in slackening the serious pursuit of practical affairs and on that account in working more harm than good.52 It is just as if one should wish to watch a musician tuning his instrument, and then, seeing the same man slacken some strings53 p387and tighten others again, should scoff at him. 53 That in fact is precisely the situation in civic matters. For the base and unprofitable pursuits and ambitions have become more tense than is fitting, and all who are swayed by them, through no one's fault but their own, become broken men, as one may say; but those pursuits and ambitions which aim at what is noblest are wholly relaxed. And consider, for example, if you will, the tension that marks covetousness, that marks incontinence!

But I seem to be going too far afield, and, like those who in calm weather swim too far, I seem not to foresee what lies ahead.54


The Editor's Notes:

1a 1b These special services, called liturgies, were a form of tax imposed upon the wealthier citizens involved the outlay of money for such public needs at equipping and training of a chorus or the maintenance of a trireme. Sometimes the liturgy was performed in niggardly fashion; cf. Aristophanes, Acharnians 1150‑5.

2 That is, citizens of all Greek states.

3 For the conventional appearance of the philosopher and the popular attitude toward it see Or. 33.14 and 72.2.

4 The special grievance to which he refers — like so many of the allusions in this Discourse — has escaped our knowledge. We do know that, for a time at least, philosophers played a prominent part in the affairs of Tarsus. Cf. Or. 33.48 and Strabo 14.5.14.º

5 Here and in the sentence to follow Dio dwells on the literal meaning of philosopher: lover of wisdom.

6 Cf. Or. 35.3. Possibly Dio has in mind the Gymnosophists of India (Brachmanes); cf. Lucian, Fugitivi 6 and 7.

7 Madness was early associated with divine inspiration and guidance.

8 The subject of omens and their interpretations.

9 Dio is making a frank appeal for the good-humoured sympathy of his audience, a purpose which he successfully achieves.

10 This sounds very like a fable of Aesop.

11 Cf. Or. 33.17. Note that the word "metropolis" no longer bears the ancient meaning, "mother-city," but has come to mean very much what it means today. "From the start" refers, not to the founding of Tarsus, but presumably to the creation of Cilicia as a Roman province in 66 B.C., from which time Tarsus seems to have played a leading rôle.

12 That is, Augustus.

13 Loyal to the Caesars, Tarsus had opposed Cassius and his associates; but in 42 B.C. Cassius entered the city and levied a contribution of 1500 talents. Cf. Cassius Dio 47.30‑31.

14 After Philippi both Augustus and Antony showed special favour to Tarsus. Among other things, independence and exemption from taxation were granted the city. Cf. Cassius Dio 47.31 and Appian, Bellum Civile 5.7.

15 That is, by Cassius.

16 Cf. § 42. Dio appears to use the term ἡγεμόνες repeatedly in this Discourse with reference to 'leaders' who owed their authority, not to election, but to appointment.

17 A Cilician city some miles east of Tarsus, on the gulf of Issus, now Ayas Kalê. Cf. also §§ 14, 47, 48.

18 The precise nature of the "registers" is unknown; but the incident is typical of the general resentment in Cilicia at the overlordship of Tarsus. Cf. especially § 14.

19 On the river Pyramus, a short distance east of Tarsus. The quarrel involved certain territorial claims as well as the requirement that Cilicians come to Tarsus for certain religious and judicial purposes. Cf. §§ 43‑47.

20 Presumably Mallus had seized the territory in dispute, territory which Dio calls worthless (§§ 45‑6).

21 Athletic scenes on Greek vases depict an official with arm upraised to administer punishment for infraction of the rules. On scourging athletes cf. Or. 31.119.

22 § 7.

23 Soli and Adana were near neighbours of Tarsus, to west and east respectively.

24 The term στρατηγός occurs in the records of many cities of that day. His functions and authority were not always the same. Cf. Mitteis und Wilcken, Grundzüge und Chrestomathie der Papyruskunde, s.v. στρατηγός. The precise status of the general at Tarsus is unknown. Was he chosen by the citizens or appointed by Rome? Was it to Rome that he wrote? Possibly he was at odds with the prytanis (§ 42).

25 Poland, Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesen, p99, maintains that the Elders formed a distinct political organization both in Tarsus and in many other cities of that time.

26 Dio seems to be apologizing for comparing Tarsus to a ship and warning against treating the comparison lightly as a figure that is trite. The passage has caused some trouble, but the text seems sound.

27 Dio may have in mind the saying of Homer, Odyssey 1.351‑2: "for men praise that song the most which comes the newest to their ears" (Murray, L. C. L.).

28 The phrase τούς τε νέους καὶ τοὺς γέροντας seems natural enough in such a connection, but see § 16 and Poland, Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesen, p95. Poland cites evidence to show that both groups formed political organizations.

29 Poland, op. cit., p117, views the "linen-workers" as a guild.º It may be remarked that weavers are said to be in relatively low repute in the Orient to‑day.

30 Tarsus was evidently a timocracy.

31 St. Paul was a tent-maker (Acts 18.3), yet he claimed to be a 'citizen' of Tarsus (Acts 21.39).

32 See § 7.

33 Greeks had long awarded crowns as a mark of distinction for public service.

34 Literally, the privilege of a front seat.

35 An innovation of Roman times.

36 Cf. § 1. Since the liturgies were assigned to men of wealth, it was easy to know in advance who were likely to be called upon for such service.

37 An important liturgy at Tarsus. Antony gave the city a gymnasium and appointed Boethus gymnasiarch.

38 Thucydides (5.49.9), Demosthenes (18.157), and Polybius (23.5.16) testify to the existence of such an official in the Peloponnese. At Tarsus he seems to have stood first in authority.

39 The phrase οἱ ῥήτορες seems to signify a definite standing at Tarsus. It is frequent in Greek literature.

40 That is, the stalwart leadership advocated in the preceding paragraph.

41 Apparently the regular term of office at Tarsus and not restricted to the prytanis (§ 36). No wonder the administration of affairs was chaotic! On the prytanis, see also § 42. Aristotle, Politics 1305A, states that Miletus too had a single prytanis.

42 Cf. §§ 7 and 24. The logical nexus may not be apparent on the surface. In the first sentence of the paragraph Dio seems to be dismissing the topic just treated; but then he recalls that he has not wholly fulfilled his promise. His calling himself a demagogue resembles the device employed in § 5 to win the crowd to have side by a touch of humour.

43 Apparently he refers to the situation of control by officials sent from Rome.

44 Minos is selected as typifying wisdom and justice, Perseus as having a special interest in Tarsus.

45 We cannot be sure what Dio has in mind. Perhaps in the crisis to which he refers so often the prytanis has taken sides with the people against the general. There may have been talk of removing the general from office.

46 That is, "better than you are." Dio taunts his audience with expecting from their foes a higher moral standard than they themselves maintained.

47 The 'allies' of Athens in the fifth century B.C. had to settle inter-state disputes in Athenian courts. They were not, however, compelled to worship in Athens. For the quarrel between Aegae and Adana and Tarsus, see also Or. 33.51, and 34.10 and 14.

48 Dio seems to mean the Apamea and Antioch of Commagenê, north-east of Tarsus. The precise nature of their dispute is unknown; the same holds good regarding Smyrna and Ephesus.

49 A proverbial saying used by Sophocles, Plato, Aristophanes and others. The proverb seems to have originated in an amusing tale recorded by pseudo-Plutarch (Vitae X Oratorum, p401) and included among the fables of Aesop. Vid. Halm, Fabulae Aesopicae, 339.

50 Rome, after all, was supreme.

51 A fair summary of the course of Greek affairs during the century following the Persian wars.

52 This criticism of the philosopher is as old as Plato, who devotes much space in his Republic to the defence of real philosophers as practical men. See especially Republic 473D, 487B‑489D. Cf. Plutarch, Moralia 776C, for a vigorous refutation of the charge of impracticality.

53 For this unusual meaning of φθόγγων, cf. Or. 10.19. Philostratus, Apollonius 5.21, uses that word of the 'stops' of a pipe.

54 This sudden termination of the theme is a bit perplexing. The figure contained in Dio's concluding sentence suggests the fear of 'stormy weather.' Possibly he sensed that his hearers were getting restless.


Thayer's Notes:

a Contrast Dio's humane spirit with Plutarch's (Pericles, 2).

b For an example of a landlubber's "Get me off this boat!", which the ship's crew could only resist so long, see Rutilius Namatianus, de Reditu, 337 ff. The captain must have been very irritated.


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