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Discourse 50

This webpage reproduces one of the

Dio Chrysostom

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1946

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Discourse 52

(Vol. IV) Dio Chrysostom

 p324  The Fifty-first Discourse:
In Reply to Diodorus

Of the Diodorus mentioned in the title of the present Discourse we know absolutely nothing. Dio supplies no clues in the speech itself. In fact, he does not address him directly. Consequently we may infer that the name rests upon reliable tradition. It would appear that the man in question had just made a speech in Assembly lauding some citizen of Prusa. It is plain from § 8 that this citizen had effected certain reforms in connexion with the ephebes.​1 Diodorus may have moved — or seconded — a resolution to give him wider jurisdiction of similar character (cf. § 6). Dio followed him with this brief speech, whose purpose is both to register his own approval of the proposal and at the same time to cast suspicion upon the sincerity of the previous speaker.

If we are left in the dark as to Diodorus, we are in almost equal darkness as to the unnamed recipient of the city's favour. Arnim states confidently that he is Dio's son. This is possible, but the speech provides no proof of the assumption. On the contrary, the speaker exhibits remarkable self-restraint, if we are to think of him as the father of the person who is receiving signal honours. Most of his remarks are devoted to the merits of his city, and when he does refer to the man whom that city is honouring, it is by means of a colourless τούτου or τούδε. In fact, the rather satirical tone of the  p325 opening sentence in § 2, the grudging acknowledgement at the beginning of § 4, and the possible suggestion of hasty judgement contained in the clause εὐθὺς ἡγεισθε καὶ ὑμᾶς ἀμείνους δύνασθαι ποιεῖν (§ 8), give the impression that Dio was not enthusiastic over the task before him.

 p327  The Fifty-first Discourse:
In Reply to Diodorus

My friends, it strikes me as exceedingly surprising when a man who does not approve of some one or does not like him nevertheless rises to praise him in a speech, and on occasion enters into a long eulogy, one very carefully composed. For such a person has on his conscience all that is most disgraceful — envy, meanness of spirit, and, worst of all, servility. Not inappropriately, at any rate, is that term used for it by the ancients in the verse

A slave's word this thou hast spoken.​2

Aye, how could that man be other than a slave, who in the presence of so many people​3 acts at variance with his own thoughts — and that too, not with frankness, but with premeditation and cold calculation — and indulges in frequent flattery and admiration of a person whom he does not like? Indeed that is to put it mildly!

2 As a matter of fact, you know, no doubt, that with us everybody lauds everybody; and so I rejoice with you and count you fortunate if we all are so fond of everybody — for this is the natural inference! However, I wish that, just as it is possible to hear many eulogies in meetings of the Council and of the Assembly, so also it might be in the market-place and  p329 the other places where men come together. But as it is, the words which are spoken are thus or thus in keeping with the place, and, just like those who are training themselves in the schools, we too try our hands at both sides of the question.​4 Therefore, if a stranger attends a meeting of the Assembly, he will imagine that ours is a city of heroes, as it were, or sages; whereas if he bursts into the market-place — there is no need to tell what kind of people he will think us, for you know that yourselves. 3 "What then," some one will exclaim, "have you taken the floor to censure those who praise?" Not so, by Heaven, but in order that, if possible, we may demonstrate our love of humanity and of nobility, not here alone, but in every place and on every occasion.

Now although I observe that the laudation of the gentleman​5 has been made complete by you, so that nothing remains to be added,​6 yet it is fitting that you also should be praised. For you seem to me to be far superior to all other communities. And I should not have said this if I did not think it so too. For example, all the others have an eye only for what is profitable, and those who give them something — or might do so — alone receive their praise; whereas you regard as of great importance both the earnest desire and the willingness to give. 4 And I do not mean by this that our friend has not really rendered much important service, for he has, but rather that for you at least his mere willingness was sufficient. And again, the others stamp with approval the least important achievements — I mean such things as  p331 involve some expenditure of money — whereas you appreciate the greatest things as they deserve. And in fact it is an altogether greater achievement for a man to be really concerned for the city and to show himself well-disposed toward you than it is for him to spend money. Furthermore, while those who admonish, even if only verbally,​7 are hated by most men, but those who delight with flattery are approved to a surprising degree, in your case, on the contrary, he who uses the fullest frankness and reproves those who go astray and tries to bring them to their senses is most admired.

5 Who, then, could fail to admire the kind of city and administration in which the honours conferred outweigh the efforts made to obtain them, in which he who admonishes with kindly intent is more beloved than he who speaks to flatter, in which the masses are more eager to submit to correction and to be set right than to be courted and to live luxuriously? Or who could fail to be amazed at you and, on the other hand, to congratulate this man on having been chosen by men like you as worthy to hold office here?8

6 And yet I myself see that the task that lies before him with regard to you is a great one. For when an entire city and people voluntarily entrusts itself to a man for instruction and chooses him as supervisor of its public morals and gives him the supreme authority over temperance and orderliness and the right conduct of the individual, is that man not confronted by  p333 a mighty task, the task of not being found in any way inferior to your opinion of him? But, that you may recognize the truth of what I say, observe that not one of the men of old, not even of those who have always been admired, has gained from his fellow citizens such honour as you have now bestowed. 7 For instance the illustrious Pericles — who, we are told, flourished at Athens when the city was in its prime — though he repeatedly obtained the post of general, was not deemed worthy of holding office all the time.​9 [But Socrates . . .]10 and that too, not as an administrator of funds nor as one concerned with buildings,​11 but rather with the purpose of making his fellow citizens good men — chose both to admonish the erring ones and, at least so far as lay in his power, to make them better. Yet the men of that day did not tolerate him, because of their own lack of discipline.​12 8 How far superior, then, are you, who submit yourselves to instruction, yes, even demand it, to those who were irritated even if some one of his own accord was eager to do this for them, and who not merely refrained from honouring, but even put to death the man who tried to take them under his care, as the Athenians did in the case of Socrates!

Accordingly, what more beautiful eulogy could any one pronounce, either of this man or of yourselves? For since you have seen that he has improved  p335 the ephebes and the young men, you immediately jump to the conclusion that he can improve you too. And, by Heaven, it is not true that, while the ephebes have need of instruction and virtue, those who are advanced in years, and in fact the entire city, do not. That would be just as if some physician were to think that boys or young men had need of medical attention, but not the adults. 9 Yet must we not concede that in the matter of honours the city's magnanimity is surprising? For what mark of highest esteem have you not eagerly conferred? Have you not voted portraits, statues, embassies to the cities and to the Emperor?​13 Have you not shown honour by public recognition; have you not shown honour by individual greeting? Therefore what man would not be pleased when these rewards are so distinguished? Or what man would not be eager to do you any service in his power? Well then, I at least believe I have spoken in praise of this man too as effectively as I could; for the eulogy directed toward those who approve and honour a man clearly would be that man's highest praise.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The term ephebes was used of young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty. Athens seems to have instituted the system of providing systematic training for such young men, and the system assumed ever greater importance from the fourth century B.C. onward as is witnessed by numerous inscriptions.

2 Euripides, Phoenissae 392.

3 We infer that Dio is addressing the Assembly.

4 Some of Dio's own compositions illustrate the point, e.g.Or. 11.

5 I.e., the unnamed person who is being honoured by the Assembly.

6 It would seem that more than one had sung his praises.

7 For the Greeks, admonition was not confined to mere words. Cf. Aristophanes, Wasps 254‑255:

εἰ νὴ Δί’ αὖθις κονδύλοις νουθετήσεθ’ ἡμᾶς,

ἀποσβέσαντες τοὺς λύχνους ἄπιμεν οἴκαδ’ αὐτοί —

By Zeus, if you admonish us again with your knuckles, we'll douse our lamps and go back home by ourselves.

8 The title of the post to which he is being appointed is not given.

9 Pericles must have been strategus most of the time from his rise to power in 462‑461 B.C. until his death in 429 B.C. Yet he was often subjected to bitter attack, and in the very year before his death he was deposed from office and tried for embezzlement, though later restored.

10 By way of filling out the lacuna, Capps suggests some such phrase as ὁ δὲ Σωκράτης δόξαν μεγίστην ἔλαβεν.

11 The treasury of the Delian Confederacy was removed to Athens in 454 B.C., and there began for Pericles a period of most active building operations, the most notable buildings to his credit being the Parthenon and the Propylaea.

12 Dio is alluding to the condemnation and execution of Socrates in 399 B.C.

13 Dio obviously refers to the honour of serving on such embassies. The MS. reading should be retained.

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