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Discourse 2

This webpage reproduces one of the

Dio Chrysostom

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1932

The text is in the public domain.

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Discourse 4

(Vol. I) Dio Chrysostom

 p103  The Third Discourse on Kingship

Dio's protest in this Discourse that he is not flattering would seem to indicate clearly that he is addressing Trajan — otherwise his words would be meaningless — and many of the things said point to the existence of very cordial relations between the orator and that emperor. Hence it is inferred that the third Discourse is later than the first. Von Arnim suggests that it was delivered before Trajan on his birthday, September 18th, in A.D. 104.

Stoic and Cynic doctrine as to the nature of the true king is set forth. The reference to the sun is of Stoic origin. Then Trajan, the type of the true king, is contrasted with the Persian king to the latter's disadvantage.

 p105  The Third Discourse on Kingship

1 When Socrates, who, as you also know by tradition,​a lived many years ago, was passing his old age in poverty at Athens, he was asked by someone whether he considered the Persian king​1 a happy man, and replied, "Perhaps so"; but he added that he did not really know, since he had never met him and had no knowledge of his character, implying, no doubt, that a man's happiness is not determined by any external possessions, such as gold plate, cities or lands, for example, or other human beings, but in each case by his own self and his own character.2

2 Now Socrates thought that because he did not know the Persian king's inner life, he did not know his state of happiness either. I, however, most noble Prince,​3 have been in your company and am perhaps as well acquainted with your character as anyone, and know that you delight in truth and frankness rather than in flattery and guile. 3 To begin with, you suspect irrational pleasures just as you do flattering men, and you endure hardship because you believe that it puts virtue to the test. And when I see you, O Prince, perusing the works of the ancients and comprehending their wise and close reasoning, I maintain that you are clearly a blessed man in that you wield a  p107 power second only to that of the gods and nevertheless use that power most nobly. 4 For the man who may taste of everything that is sweet and avoid everything that is bitter, who may pass his life in the utmost ease, who, in a word, may follow his own sweet will, not only without let or hindrance but with the approval of all — 5 when that man, I say, is at once a judge more observant of the law than an empanelled jury, a king of greater equity than the responsible magistrates in our cities, a general more courageous than the soldiers in the ranks, a man more assiduous in all his tasks than those who are forced to work, less covetous of luxury than those who have no means to indulge in luxury, kindlier to his subjects than a loving father to his children, more dreaded by his enemies than are the invincible and irresistible gods — how can one deny that such a man's fortune is a blessing, not to himself alone, but to all others as well?

6 For in the case of the generality of men, those either in private station or holding some petty office, the individual's personal fortune is of slight account and concerns himself alone; but let untold cities yield obedience to a man, let countless nations be governed by his judgment, let tribes of men unnumbered and hostile to one another look to his prudence alone, and that man becomes the saviour and protector of men everywhere — that is, if such be his type. 7 For when a man governs and holds sway over all mankind, his prudence avails to help even the imprudent, since he takes thought for  p109 all alike; his temperance serves to restrain even the intemperate, since his eye is over all alike; his justice gives of itself even to the unjust; and his courage is able, not only to save the less valiant, but even to fire them with greater courage. 8 For no one is such a coward as not to feel reassured when he follows a general with whom victory is certain, nor so exceeding indifferent as to sit at ease when he sees submitting to take orders that man to whom God has apportioned the right to give orders only, nor, again, so completely lost to a sense of shame that he can watch a man toiling in behalf of another although under no necessity to toil — and yet refuse him aid. 9 This, it seems to me, is exactly Homer's view as well; for, after speaking of the ideal king, he concludes by saying,

"And virtuous​4 the people beneath him."​5

Such a king considers virtue a fair possession for others but an absolute necessity for himself. 10 Who, in fact, must exercise greater wisdom than he who is concerned with the weightiest matters; who, a keener sense of justice than he who is above the law; who, a more rigorous self-control than he to whom all things are permissible; who, a stouter courage than he upon whom the safety of everything depends? 11 And who takes greater delight in the works of virtue than he who has all men as spectators and witnesses of his own soul? — so that nothing he may do can ever be hidden any more than the sun can run its  p111 course in darkness; for, in bringing all other things to light, it reveals itself first.

12 These things I say in the full knowledge that my present statements will have to be repeated at greater length; and yet there is no danger of my appearing to speak aught in flattery, since I have given no slight nor fleeting evidence of my sincerity. 13 If, in bygone days when fear made everyone think falsehood a necessity,​6 I was the only one bold enough to tell the truth even at the peril of my life, and yet am lying now when all may speak the truth without incurring danger — then I could not possibly know the time for either frankness or flattery.

14 Again, all who act deliberately do so either for money, for reputation, or for some pleasurable end, or else, I suppose, for virtue's sake and because they honour goodness itself. 15 But I could never bring myself to accept money from anyone, although many are willing to give it. Nay, little as I had, you will find that I not only shared it with others, but actually squandered it many a time. 16 And what sort of pleasure was I seeking, when even those flatterers who openly follow the business acknowledge that to play the flatterer is of all things most distasteful? For what pleasure is there in praising someone else undeservedly merely to be deservedly blamed one's self?

17 Furthermore, flattery seems neither reputable nor honourable even when practised to gain distinction, or from some other worthy motive. Nay, of all vices, I may say, flattery will be found to be the meanest.  p113 18 In the first place, it debases a thing most beautiful and just, even praise, so that it no longer appears honest or sincere, and — what is most outrageous — it gives to vice the prizes of virtue. Flatterers, therefore, do much more harm than those who debase the coinage: for whereas the latter cause us to suspect the coinage, the former destroy our belief in virtue.

19 Then again, as I see the matter, we always call the bad man a fool, and so he really is; but for downright folly the flatterer outdoes all, since he is the only perverter of the truth who had the hardihood to tell his lies to the very persons who know best that he is lying. For who does not know his own business? or who is so stupid as not to know whether work or idleness brings him joy, whether he finds pleasure in over-reaching another or in acting justly, and whether he is the slave of pleasure or a lover of noble deeds?

20 And, further, it seems to me that the flatterer fails worst just where he is most confident that he is succeeding — namely, in pleasing those whom he praises. Nay, he is odious rather than pleasing to them unless they be utter fools. 21 For example, he who congratulates a poor man on his wealth not only lies himself, but holds up to scorn the poverty of the man he congratulates. Again, does not he who praises a most ugly person for his beauty simply cast his ugliness in his teeth? Or how could he who calls a cripple able-bodied please him by reminding him of his misfortune? — The man, however, who lauds the fool for his wisdom is perhaps the most convincing of all on account of the stupidity of his hearer and thus does  p115 all the greater harm, since he induces the fellow to take his own counsel and not trust to intelligent men. 22 But the man who extols the coward as a hero makes the most justifiable use of the folly of him who is flattered; since, if the craven believes him and attempts to perform heroic deeds, he will come to grief all the more speedily. — 23 Yet, generally speaking, when the flatterer is found out, he is not only condemned, but hated as well, since his words are thought to be mockery; while, if he convinces one of the truth of his words, he gets no very great thanks. For what great favour is he thought to confer by simply telling the truth? 24 Besides, he is a much greater rascal than a lying witness: for the latter does not corrupt the judge, he merely deceives him; but the flatterer corrupts at the same time that he praises.

25 Accordingly, that I may not be open to the charge of flattery by my would‑be detractors, and that you on your part may not be accused of a wanting to be praised to your very face, I shall speak of the ideal king, of what sort he should be, and how he differs from the man who pretends to be a ruler but is in reality far from true dominion and kingship. 26 And if anyone shall say that I always say the same things, this will be the same charge that was laid against Socrates. For the story runs that once Hippias of Elis,​7 who had been listening for some time to the words of Socrates about justice and virtue and to his wonted comparisons with pilots, physicians, cobblers and potters, finally made the exclamation natural to a sophist, 27 "The same things once more, Socrates!" to which the  p117 other replied with a laugh, "Yes, and on the same subjects. Now you by reason of your wisdom probably never say the same about the same things, but to me this appears a thing most excellent. We know that liars say many things and all different, while those who stick to the truth cannot find anything else to say than just the truth." 28 So too with me: if I knew of any subject more serious or more suited to you, that is the subject that I should attempt to handle. But as it is, just as I should say that the proper subject for the physician to listen to or discuss is physical health and disease (indeed, the terms applied to physicians, hygieinoi and iatrikoi, mean "men who are concerned with health and with healing"), and for the navigator, seasons and winds and stars (for navigators are rightly termed kybernetikoi, "men concerned with the steering of ships"), so I maintain that the proper subject for the ruler and king is the government and control of men.

29 So in discussing this subject I shall endeavour to set forth the views of Socrates.​8 After the answer about happiness​9 Socrates' interrogator put the following question to him: 30 "Socrates," said he, "you know perfectly well that of all men under the sun that man is most power­ful and in might no whit inferior to the gods themselves who is able to accomplish the seemingly impossible — if it should be his will, to have men walk dryshod over the sea, to sail over the mountains, to drain rivers dry by drinking — 31 or have you not heard that Xerxes, the king of the  p119 Persians, made of the dry land a sea by cutting through the loftiest of the mountains and separating Athos​10 from the mainland, and that he led his infantry through the sea,​11 riding upon a chariot just like Poseidon in Homer's description? And perhaps in the same way the dolphins and the monsters of the deep swam under his raft as the king drove along."

32 "I cannot tell you that either," replied Socrates; "I mean whether the man who does such things has the greatest power, as you affirm, or the least power, or none at all. If, for example, he was temperate, brave, and just, if all his acts were marked by judgment, I think he was a power­ful man and really had the greatest might. 33 But if, on the other hand, he was cowardly, foolish, licentious, and lawless, and understood what he did in wanton insolence, then, on the contrary, I think he was a weaker man than the veriest beggar who has not even a clod of earth to break up with the pick to gain his livelihood — to say nothing of breaking through the highest mountains, the feat of which you speak. 34 For he who cannot check a fit of anger, which is often caused by mere trifles; who cannot conquer a lust for the basest things; who cannot thrust pain aside, imaginary as it often is; who cannot endure toil, even to gain pleasure; who cannot drive fear from his soul, though it avails naught in the midst of alarms but works the greatest mischief — must not such a man be greatly lacking in strength, be weaker than a woman, weaker than a  p121 eunuch? 35 Or do you call that man strong who is weaker than the softest of things? — I mean sleep, enchained by which, often without fetters, he cannot help himself, let alone others, nor call to his aid anyone willing to fight in his defence."

36 On hearing this, the other exclaimed: "However, I presume you know, Socrates, that of the entire inhabited world the Persian king rules over the largest and best part; for, excluding Greece, Italy, and a few other peoples scattered throughout Europe, he has made all the rest subject to him; 37 and of what we call Asia he governs everything as far as the Indies, many of whose people are said to own his sway too, as well as the greater part of Africa; while in Europe he governs Thrace and Macedonia. All these he holds in subjection, and this is the reason that he alone has received the title of 'The Great King.' "

38 "But I am not absolutely sure even on this point," replied Socrates, "whether he is king of any city or hamlet at all." "Have you alone," interjected the other, "never heard what all the world knows?" "Yes," he replied, "I do hear many people say just what you are saying — many, both Greeks and barbarians; but what keeps me from forming a definite opinion on the point I raise is this: 39 I do not know, my good sir, whether he is placed in right and lawful authority over all these people and is a man of the stamp I have mentioned time and again. If he is a man of good mind and heart, respects the law, cares for his subjects with an eye to their safety and welfare, and is, to begin with, happy and wise himself, as I have described him, and shares this happiness of his with  p123 others, not divorcing his own interest from that of his subjects, but rejoicing most and regarding himself as most prosperous when he sees his subjects prosperous too — then he is most power­ful and a king in very truth. 40 If, on the other hand, he loves pleasure and wealth, is overbearing and lawless, and is minded to exalt himself alone to the end that he may get the most wealth and enjoy the most and greatest pleasures, leading an idle and effortless life and looking upon his subjects one and all as but slaves and ministers to his own luxury; 41 if he lacks even the quality of a good shepherd, who takes thought for the shelter and pasturing of his own flock, and, besides, keeps off wild beasts and guards it against thieves; nay, if he is the very first to plunder and destroy them and to grant the same privilege to others as though they were veritable spoil of the enemy — never should I style such a ruler either emperor or king. Much rather should I call him a tyrant and oppressor, as Apollo once called the tyrant of Sicyon​12 — yea, even though he had many tiaras, many sceptres, and many obeyed his behests."

Such was the sage's habitual message while he constantly incited to virtue and tried to make both rulers and subjects better.

42 In a similar vein his successors have spoken about government and kingship, following his most wise  p125 doctrine as closely as they might. 43 And the very terms they use make the distinctions clear at the outset. "Government" is defined as the lawful ordering of men and as oversight over men in accordance with law; "monarchy," as an irresponsible government where the king's will is law;​13 44 "tyrant," or rather "tyranny," on the contrary, as the arbitrary and lawless exploitation of men by one regarded as having superior force on his side.

45 The three most conspicuous forms of government — governments based on law and justice and enjoying the favour of heaven and fortune — are expressly named. One is the first to come into existence and the most practicable​14 — that which forms the subject of the present address — where we have a city, or a number of peoples, or the whole world, well ordered by one good man's judgment and virtue; second, the so‑called "aristocracy," 46 where not one man, nor a considerable number of men, but a few, and they the best, are in control — a form of government, at length, far from being either practicable or expedient. It seems to me that Homer too had this in mind when he said:

"The rule

Of the many is not well. One must be chief

In war, and one the king, to whom the son

Of Cronus, crafty in counsel, the sceptre doth give."​15

47 Third, possibly the most impracticable one of all, the one that expects by the self-control and virtue of the  p127 common people some day to find an equitable constitution based on law. Men call it "democracy" — a specious and inoffensive name, if the thing were but practicable.

48 To these forms of government — three in number, as I have said — are opposed three degenerate forms not based on law: The first is "tyranny," where one man's high-handed use of force is the ruin of others. Next comes oligarchy, harsh and unjust, arising from the aggrandizement of a certain few wealthy rascals at the expense of the needy masses. 49 The next in order is a motley impulsive mob​16 of all sorts and conditions of men who know absolutely nothing but are always kept in a state of confusion and anger by unscrupulous demagogues, just as a wild rough sea is whipped this way and that by the fierce blasts.

These degenerate forms I have merely touched on in passing, though I could point to many mischances and disasters that each of them has suffered in the past, 50 but it is my duty to discuss more carefully the happy and god-given polity at present in force. Now there are many close parallels and striking analogies to this form of government to be found in nature, where herds of cattle and swarms of bees indicate clearly that it is natural for the stronger to govern and care for the weaker. However, there could be no more striking or beautiful illustration than that government of the universe which is under the control of the first and best god.

 p129  51 A ruler of this character is, to begin with, highly favoured of the gods, seeing that he enjoys their greatest respect and confidence, and he will give the first and chief place to religion, not merely confessing but also believing in his heart that there are gods, to the end that he too may have worthy governors under him. 52 And he believes that his own oversight is advantageous to others just as the rule of the gods is to himself. Furthermore, being firmly resolved in his own heart never to receive a gift from wicked men, he believes that the gods also do not delight in the offerings or sacrifices of the unjust, but accept the gifts made by the good alone. Accordingly, he will be zealous to worship them with these also without stint. Of a truth he will never cease honouring them with noble deeds and just acts. Each one, indeed, of the gods he will propitiate as far as within him lies. 53 Virtue he regards as holiness and vice as utter impiety, being firmly persuaded that not only those who rob temples or blaspheme the gods are sinners and accursed but, much more so, the cowardly, the unjust, the licentious, the fools, and, in general, those who act contrary to the power and will of the gods. 54 Furthermore, he believes not only in gods but also in good spirits and demi-gods, which are the souls of good men that have cast off this mortal nature; and in confirming this belief he does no small service to himself as well.

55 Then, the care bestowed on his subjects he does not consider an incidental thing or mere drudgery, when weighed down, let us say, by cares, but as his  p131 own work and profession. And when he is otherwise engaged, he does not feel that he is doing anything worth while or that he is attending to his own business; it is only when he helps men that he thinks he is doing his duty, having been appointed to this work by the greatest god, whom it is not right for him to disobey in aught nor yet to feel aggrieved, believing, as he does, that these tasks are his duty. 56 For no one is so effeminate or enslaved to pleasure as not to like his own occupation even if it chance to be laborious. A sea-captain, for example, never finds his toil at sea irksome, nor a farmer his work in tilling the soil; never is the huntsman wearied by the hardships of the chase; and yet both farming and hunting are most laborious. 57 No indeed, the king does not object to toil and discomfort in behalf of others, nor does he deem his lot any the worse simply because he has to face the most tasks and have the most troubles. For he sees that the sun, too, although inferior to none of the gods, frets not because, to preserve man and life, he must accomplish all his many tasks throughout the ages.

58 And again, he considers courage, self-control, and prudence necessary even for those who disregard justice and wish to play the tyrant, if they are not speedily to perish; nay, he sees that they stand in need of these qualities even more than those others, 59 and that the more such a man is beset by those who hate him and by those who plot against him, while he has no one on whom he can rely or look to for sympathy; so much the more, if he is to remain safe for any time, must he be on the alert and use his wits, guarding  p133 against defeat by his enemies and plotting to have full knowledge of the plotters, and so much the more must he abstain from pleasure and refuse to yield under any pressure to the allurement of high living, sloth, and carnal pleasure — yea, much more than the man beloved by all who has no one plotting against him.

60 Therefore, if the unjust ruler must have the same anxieties as the other — or even more — and much more exacting toil, if he must equally steel himself against pleasure, must equally face danger, how much better it is for him to show justice and virtue rather than wickedness and injustice in doing all this, to win credit rather than censure for his acts, to have the love of men and gods instead of their hate? 61 Besides, man's present is short and uncertain; the most of his life is filled with remembrance of the past and expectation of the future. Which, therefore, of the two men do we think finds joy in remembrance, and which remorse? Which do we think is encouraged by his expectations and which dismayed? Therefore of necessity the life of the good king is more pleasant also.

62 Once more, you see that God has everywhere appointed the superior to care for and rule over the inferior: skill, for instance, over unskilfulness, strength over weakness; and for the foolish he has made the wise to have care and thought, to watch and plan; and with all these responsibilities governing is by no means easy; nay, it is laborious and does not get the greater share of relaxation and ease, but rather of  p135 care and toil. 63 Thus, on board ship the passengers may disregard the sea and not even look at it; yes, not even know "where on earth they are," as the saying is — and many do sail the sea after this fashion in fair weather, some gambling, some singing, some feasting the livelong day. Then when a storm comes on, they wrap themselves up and await the event, while some few retire and do not rise from their beds until they reach port. 64 But the pilot — he must look out to sea, must scan the sky, must see the land in time; nay, nor should what is in the depths escape him either, else he will unexpectedly strike submerged rocks or hidden reefs. 65 He is the only one who during the night has less chance to sleep than the night-watch; while by day, if he does by any chance snatch a wink of sleep, even this is anxious and fitful, since he shouts out frequently, "Furl the sail," or "Hard on the tiller," or gives some other nautical command. And so, even when dozing, he has more thought for the ship than any of the others who are widest awake.

66 To take another illustration: On a campaign, the individual soldier sees to weapons and food for himself alone, and besides, does not furnish them himself but expects to find them ready at hand. It is only his own health, only his own safety that he has to think of. 67 But it is the general's duty to see that all are well equipped, that all are provided with shelter, and to furnish sufficient food not only for the men but for the horses as well; and if all do not have their supplies, he is much more vexed than he would  p137 be if ill himself; while the safety of his men he considers just as important as his own. Indeed, victory is impossible if the soldiers be not saved, and to win victory many good men choose even to die.

68 Again, the body of each one of us, being devoid of intelligence, is not in a position to help itself, nor by its very nature can it take thought for itself; indeed, when the soul departs, it cannot endure even a short time, but suffers immediate decay and dissolution; whereas the soul feels every care in its behalf, is troubled by every fancy when it is hurt, and is greatly distressed. 69 Only when the soul is present is the body sensitive to pain; but the soul is distressed before the pain comes; often, too, through foreboding when it is not going to come. As for death, the body never feels it, but the soul understands it and suffers greatly, now rescuing the body from disease, now from war, rescuing it from storms and rescuing it from the sea. So, while from every point of view the soul is more subject to hardship and suffering than the body, yet it is the more divine and regal part.

70 Then compare the lots of man and woman. Now everyone would admit that man is stronger than woman and more fitted to lead. Consequently, to her falls the larger share of the household tasks, and, for the most part, she remains unacquainted with storms and wars, unacquainted with dangers in general; 71 while it is the man's part, on the other  p139 hand, to serve in the army, to sail the sea, and to do the hard outdoor work. Yet no one would on that account deem women happier than men. 72 Nay, every man whose weakness and lack of virility have led him to emulate their life, as Sardanapallus did, is to this day branded with the shame of it.

73 But this is the best illustration: You see how greatly the sun, being a god, surpasses man in felicity and yet throughout the ages does not grow weary in ministering to us and doing everything to promote our welfare. 74 For what else would one say that the sun accomplishes throughout the ages except what man stands in need of? Does he not cause and mark out the seasons, give growth and nourishment to all living creatures and to all plant life? Does he not lavish upon us the fairest and most delight­ful of visions, even his light, without which we should have no profit of the other beautiful things, be they in heaven or on earth; nay, not even of life itself? And he never grows weary in showering these blessings upon us. 75 Verily one might say that he endures a servitude most exacting; for, if he were to be careless but for a moment and leave his appointed track, absolutely nothing would prevent the whole heavens, the whole earth, and the whole sea from going to wrack and ruin, and all this fair and blissful order from ending in the foulest and most dread disorder. 76 But now, as though touching the strings of the lyre with an artist's touch,​17 he never swerves from his pure and exquisite harmony, ever moving along his  p141 one recurrent track. 77 And since the earth needs warmth to bring forth her produce, to give it increase, and to bring it to perfection, since animals need it likewise both for the preservation of their bodies and for their natural pleasure, and since we, being so utterly dependent in our helplessness, need it above all others, he brings on summer step by step as he approaches nearer and nearer to our habitation, that he may give growth to everything, nourish everything, perfect everything, and spread a divine and wondrous feast of good cheer before man.

78 But when, on the other hand, we and all other things come to need the opposite temperature — for our bodies need to be braced up by cold, plants need hardening, and the earth needs rain — he goes away from us again, withdrawing a moderate distance; 79 and with such perfect nicety of adjustment does he observe his bounds with respect to our advantage that, if in his approach he got a little nearer, he would set everything on fire, and if he went a little too far in his departure, everything would be stiffened with frost.​18 80 And since a sudden change would be too much for our weakness, he brings all this to pass gradually, and in a way he accustoms us insensibly in the spring to endure the heat of summer and in the late autumn gives preliminary training to support the chill of winter — in the one case taking off the chill of winter little by little, in the other, reducing the heat of summer, so that we reach either extreme without discomfort.

81 And furthermore, since it is so great a pleasure to see the light and impossible to do anything without it, and since, when we are asleep, we do absolutely  p143 nothing and make no use of the light, he has made day the time requisite for our waking hours, and turned into night the time necessary for sleep, making a complete revolution around the earth and sending now these men to rest or awakening them, now those: departing from them who no longer need his light and appearing to those who need it again in their turn. And he never grows weary of bringing these things to pass throughout the ages.

82 But where a god, the fairest and most conspicuous of all, does not neglect his eternal watch over man, can it possibly be right for man, intelligent object of the god's care, to feel oppressed by similar duties? Should he not, so far as in him lies, imitate the god's power and goodness? 83 Reasoning thus, the good king endures without repining. He realizes too that toil brings health and salvation and goodly report as well; while, on the other hand, luxurious ease brings quite the opposite. Then again, toil endured ever grows less and easier to support, the while it makes pleasure greater and less harmful if it follows the toil. Ease, on the other hand, makes toil appear more and more difficult in that it lessens pleasure and blunts its edge. 84 The man who lives in the lap of luxury and never puts his hand to a single task, ends by being unable to endure any task or to feel any pleasure at all, however intense. 85 Consequently, he who loves to toil and exercises self-control is not only better qualified to be king but is able to live a much more pleasant life than those in the opposite case.

 p145  86 Friendship, moreover, the good king holds to be the fairest and most sacred of his possessions, believing that the lack of means is not so shameful or perilous for a king as the lack of friends, and that he maintains his happy state, not so much by means of revenues and armies and his other sources of strength, as by the loyalty of his friends. 87 For no one, of and by himself, is sufficient for a single one of even his own needs; and the more and greater the responsibilities of a king are, the greater is the number of co-workers that he needs, and the greater the loyalty required of them, since he is forced to entrust his greatest and most important interests to others or else to abandon them. 88 Furthermore, the law protects the private individual from being easily wronged by men with whom he enters into business relations, either by entrusting them with money, or by making them agents of an estate, or by entering into partner­ship with them in some enterprise; and it does so by punishing the offender. A king, however, cannot look to the law for protection against betrayal of a trust, but must depend upon loyalty. 89 Naturally, those who stand near the king and help him rule the country are the strongest, and from them he has no other protection than their love. Consequently, it is not a safe policy for him to share his power carelessly with the first men he meets; but the stronger he makes his friends, 90 the stronger he becomes himself.

91 Once more, necessary and useful possessions do  p147 not in all cases afford their owner some pleasure, nor does it follow that because a thing is pleasing it is also profitable. On the contrary, many pleasant things prove to be unprofitable. 92 Fortifications, for example, arms, engines, and troops are possessions necessary for a ruler, since without them his authority cannot be maintained, but I do not see what gratification they afford — at least, apart from their utility; 93 and on the other hand, beautiful parks, costly residences, statues, paintings in the exquisite early style, golden bowls, inlaid tables, purple robes, ivory, amber, perfumes, everything to delight the eye, delight­ful music, both vocal and instrumental, and besides these, beautiful maidens and handsome boys — all these evidently subserve no useful purpose whatever, but are obviously the inventions of pleasure. 94 To friendship alone has it have been given to be both the most profitable of all and the most pleasurable of all. To illustrate: I presume that our greatest necessities, arms, walls, troops, and cities, without friends to control them, are neither useful nor profitable; nay, they are exceedingly precarious; while friends, even without these, are helpful. Besides, these things are useful in war only, 95 while for men who are going to live in unbroken peace — if such a thing be possible — they are a useless burden. Without friendship, however, life is insecure even in peace.

96 Once more, the pleasures I have mentioned afford more delight when shared with friends; to enjoy them in solitude is the dreariest thing imaginable, and no one could endure it. But it would be still more disagreeable if you had to share them with  p149 people who disliked you. 97 Nay, what festivity could please unless the most important thing of all were at hand, what symposium could delight you if you lacked the good-will of the guests? What sacrifice is acceptable to the gods without the participants in the feast? 98 Indeed, are not even those love relations the pleasantest and least wanton which are based on the affection of the lovers, and which men whose object is good-will experience in the society of boys or women? 99 Many are the names applied to friendship just as its services undoubtedly are many; but where youth and beauty enter in, there friendship is rightly called love and is held to be the fairest of the gods.

100 Again, salutary drugs are salutary to the sick, but of no use to the well. Of friendship, however, men stand ever in the greatest need, whether in health or in sickness: it helps to defend wealth and relieves poverty; it adds lustre to fame and dims the glare of infamy. 101 It is this alone that makes everything unpleasant seem less so and magnifies everything good. For what misfortune is not intolerable without friendship, and what gift of fortune does not lose its charm if friends be lacking? And although solitude is cheerless and of all things the most terrible, it is not the absence of men that we should consider as solitude, but the absence of friends; for often complete solitude is preferable to the presence of persons not well-disposed. 102 For my part, I have never regarded even good fortune to be such if attended by no friend to rejoice with me, since the severest strokes of misfortune can more easily be borne with friends than the greatest good fortune without them. For with good right I judge that  p151 man most wretched who in misfortune has the largest number to gloat over him but in good fortune no one to rejoice with him. 103 When a man has hosts of excellent friends and his foes areº very few in number — if he has any foe at all — when he has many who love him, still more who admire him, and no one who can censure him, is he not perfectly happy? For such a man has multitudes to share his joy but not one to gloat over him in misfortune, and for this reason he is fortunate in all things, in that he has hosts of friends but not a single enemy.

104 If eyes, ears, tongue, and hands are worth everything to a man that he may be able merely to live, to say nothing of enjoying life, then friends are not less but more useful than these members. 105 With his eyes he may barely see what lies before his feet; but through his friends he may behold even that which is at the ends of the earth. With his ears he can hear nothing save that which is very near; but through those who wish him well 106 he is without tidings of nothing of importance anywhere. With his tongue he communicates only with those who are in his presence, and with his hands, were he never so strong, he can not do the work of more than two men; but through his friends he can hold converse with all the world and accomplish every undertaking, since those who wish him well are saying and doing everything that is in his interest. 107 The most surprising thing of all, however, is that he who is rich in friends is able, although but one man, to do a multiplicity of things at the same time, to deliberate about many matters  p153 simultaneously, to see many things, to hear many things, and to be in many places at once — a thing difficult even for the gods — with the result that there is nothing remaining anywhere that is bereft of his solicitude.

108 Once more, the happy experiences of his friends are bound to delight a good man no less than some joy of his own. For is that man not most blessed who has many bodies with which to be happy when he experiences a pleasure, many souls with which to rejoice when he is fortunate? 109 And if glory be the high goal of the ambitious, he may achieve it many times over through the eulogies of his friends. If wealth naturally gladdens its possessor, he can be rich many times over who shares what he has with his friends.

110 Then, too, while it is a pleasure to show favours to good men and true when one's means are ample, it is also a pleasure to receive gifts when they are deserved and for merit. Hence, he who shows his friends a favour rejoices both as giver and as receiver at the same time. Old, in sooth, is the proverb which says that "Common are the possessions of friends."​19 Therefore, when the good have good things, these will certainly be held in common.

111 Now, while in any other matter, such as leisure, ease, and relaxation, our good king does not wish to have unvarying advantage over private citizens and, indeed, would often be satisfied with less, in the one matter of friendship he does want to have the  p155 larger portion; 112 and he doubtless thinks it in no wise peculiar or strange — nay, he actually exults because young people love him more than they do their parents, and older men more than they do their children, because his associates love him more than they do their peers, and those who know him only by hearsay love him more than they do their nearest neighbours. 113 Extremely fond of kith and kin though he may be, yet, in a way, he considers friendship a greater good than kinship. For a man's friends are useful even without the family tie, but without friendship not even the most nearly related are of service. So high a value does he set on friendship as to hold that at no time has anyone been wronged by a friend, and that such a thing belongs to the category of the impossible; 114 for the moment one is detected doing wrong, he has shown that he was no friend at all. Indeed, all who have suffered any outrage have suffered it at the hands of enemies — friends in name, whom they did not know to be enemies. Such sufferers must blame their own ignorance and not reproach the name of friendship. 115 Furthermore, it is not impossible for a father to be unjust to a son and for a child to sin against its parents; brother, too, may wrong brother in some way; but friendship our king esteems as such an altogether sacred thing that he tries to make even the gods his friends.20

 p157  116 Now, while it may be gathered from all that has been said that tyrants suffer all the ills that are the opposites of the blessings we have enumerated, this is especially true as regards the matter we are now discussing. For the tyrant is the most friendless man in the world, since he cannot even make friends. 117 Those like himself he suspects, since they are evil, and by those unlike himself, and good, he is hated; and the hated man is an enemy to both the just and the unjust. For some men do justly hate him; while others, because they covet the same things, plot against him. 118 And so the Persian king had one special man, called the "king's eye"​21 — not a man of high rank, but just an ordinary one. He did not know that all the friends of a good king are his eyes.

119 And should not the ties of blood and kinship be especially dear to a good king? For he regards his kith and kin as a part of his own soul, 120 and sees to it that they shall not only have a share of what is called the king's felicity, but much more that they shall be thought worthy to be partners in his authority; and he is especially anxious to be seen preferring them in honour, not because of their kinship, but because of their qualifications. And those kinsmen who live honourable lives he loves beyond all others, but those who do not so live he considers, not friends, but relatives. 121 For other friends he may cast off when he has discovered something objectionable in them, but in the case of his kinsmen, he cannot dissolve the tie; but whatever their character, he must allow the title to  p159 be used. 122 His wife, moreover, he regards not merely as the partner of his bed and affections, but also as his helpmate in his counsel and action, and indeed in his whole life.

123 He alone holds that happiness consists, not in flowery ease, but much rather in excellence of character; virtue, not in necessity but in free-will; while patient endurance, he holds, does not mean hardship but safety. His pleasures he increases by toil, and thereby gets more enjoyment out of them, while habit lightens his toil. 124 To him "useful" and "pleasurable" are interchangeable terms; for he sees that plain citizens, if they are to keep well and reach old age, never give nourishment to an identical and inactive body, but that a part of them work first at trades, some of which — such as smithing, shipbuilding, the construction of houses — are very laborious; 125 while those who own land first toil hard at farming, and those who live in the city have some city employment; 126 he sees the leisured class crowd the gymnasia and wrestling-floors — some running on the track, others again wrestling, and others, who are not athletes, taking some form of exercise other than the competitive — in a word, everyone with at least a grain of sense doing something or other and so finding his meat and drink wholesome. 127 But the ruler differs from all these in that his toil is not in vain, and that he is not simply developing his body, but has the accomplishment of things as his end and aim. He attends to some matter needing his supervision, he acts promptly where speed is needed, accomplishes something not  p161 easy of accomplishment, reviews an army, subdues a province, founds a city, bridges rivers, or builds roads through a country.

128 He does not count himself fortunate just because he can have the best horses, the best arms, the best clothing, and so forth, but because he can have the best friends; and he holds that it is far more disgraceful to have fewer friends among the private citizens than any one of them has. 129 For when a man can select his most trustworthy friends from among all men — and there is scarcely a man who would not gladly accept his advances — surely it is ridiculous that he does not have the best. Most potentates have an eye only for those who get near them no matter how, and for those who are willing to flatter, while they hold all others at a distance and the best men more especially. 130 The true king, however, makes his choice from among all men, esteeming it perverse to import horses from the Nisaean plains​22 because they surpass the Thessalian breed, or hounds from India,​23 and only in the case of men to take those near at hand; 131 since all the means for making friends are his. For instance, the ambitious are won over to friendliness by praise, those who have the gift of leader­ship by participation in the government, the warlike by performing some sort of military service, those having executive ability by the management of affairs, and, assuredly, those with a capacity for love, by intimacy. 132 Now, who is more able to appoint governors? Who needs more executives? Who has it in his power to give  p163 a part in greater enterprises? Who is in a better position to put a man in charge of military operations? Who can confer more illustrious honours? Whose table lends greater distinction? And if friendship could be bought, who has greater means to forestall every possible rival?

133 Since nature made him a man, and man of exalted station in life, he too needs some distraction as it were to relieve his more serious duties; and it is this, alas! which for many has proved to be the source of many ignoble and soul-destroying vices — vices which also destroy the high esteem in which royalty is held. 134 One king, having become enamoured of singing, spent his time warbling and wailing in the theatres and so far forgot his royal dignity that he was content to impersonate the early kings upon the stage;​24 another fell in love with flute-playing;​25 135 but the good king never makes a practice even of listening to such things. He considers hunting the best recreation and finds his greatest delight therein. It makes his body stronger, his heart braver, and affords a field for the practice of every military activity. 136 For he must ride, run, in many cases meet the charge of the big game, endure heat and withstand cold, often be tortured by hunger and thirst, and he becomes habituated to enduring any hardship with pleasure through his passion for the chase. But he does not hold this opinion of the Persian chase. 137 Those people would enclose the game in parks and then, whenever they listed, slaughter it as if it were in a pen, showing that  p165 they neither sought hard work nor ran any risk since their quarry was weak and broken in spirit. But they robbed themselves alike of the joy of uncovering the game, of the excitement in running it down, and of the struggle on coming to close quarters. 138 It is just as if they had claimed to be fond of war and then, letting slip the chance to engage their enemy, had seized the prisoners at home and put them to death.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Darius Nothus: reigned from 424 to 405 B.C.

2 Socrates is reported as giving this answer in Plato, Gorgias 470E.

3 The Emperor Trajan.

4 Virtuous in the sense of possessing the good traits of character just mentioned.

5 Homer, Odyssey 19.114.

6 Under the Emperor Domitian.

7 A Greek sophist who taught in Greece, and especially at Athens. The same account of this conversation is given in Xenophon's Memorabilia 4.4.5 f.

8 Dio is imitating Xenophon's account in the Memorabilia.

9 Cf. § 1.

10 A mountain at the extreme end of the peninsula of Acte which extends into the Aegean Sea. Xerxes, fearing the voyage around it in his invasion of Greece in 480 B.C., had a canal 1½ miles long cut through the isthmus.

11 He crossed the Hellespont, now called the Dardanelles, by a bridge of boats. See Herodotus 7.22, 33‑34.

12 Cleisthenes, the tyrant of Sicyon, consulted the oracle of Delphi as to whether he should banish the cult of Adrastus, and got the reply that Adrastus was king of Sicyon, while he was an oppressor (λευστήρ). See Herodotus 5.67.1 f.

13 This is Aristotle's teaching. Cf. Pol. 7.2.7.

14 Cf. Aristotle, Rhetoric, 1406 A23.

15 Iliad 2.204 f.

16 Cf.  Polybius 10.4.3, ἡ τοῦ πλήθους φορά.

17 Just as Apollo's (the sun god's) lyre had seven strings, so the sun directed the motions of the seven heavenly spheres. See Macrobius 1.19.15.

18 There is a similar observation in Xenophon's Memorabilia, 4.3.8.

19 The proverb in this form is found in the Ἀδελφοί of Menander (Kock fr. 9). Cf. Terence, Adelphi 803: Nam vetus verbum hoc quidemst, communia esse amicorum inter se omnia.

20 He means, apparently, that friendship is such a sacred thing that it is a fitting relation to exist between the gods and men, and that therefore the good king may venture to form it even with the gods without impropriety.

21 He guarded the king in every way. See Herodotus, 110, 112.º

22 A plain south of the Caspian Sea, celebrated for its breed of horses; Strabo, 11.14.9.º Cf. Herodotus, 3.106; 7.40, 196.

23 Cf. Herodotus, 1.192; 7.187.

24 Nero.

25 Ptolemy "Auletes."

Thayer's Note:

a A peculiarly flat translation; the Greek has been better rendered, it seems to me, by John Buchan, Augustus, p166 n.

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