“Because [Solon] noticed that his city was often breaking out into civil strife and that some of the citizens welcomed the results because of ambivalence, he made a law particularly aimed at these people: whoever did not pick up arms for one side or the other during a time of civil conflict was to be disenfranchised and have no part of the state.”
“In all honesty, I shall ignore that law of Solon—your countryman and, I suppose, mine too—which mandated death for anyone who was a part of neither side in a time of civil strife [or sedition]: unless you advise otherwise, I will abstain from that side and this one. But the other side is more certain to me—nevertheless, I won’t race ahead of myself on this.”
ego vero Solonis, popularis tui et ut puto etiam mei, legem neglegam, qui capite sanxit si qui in seditione non alterius utrius partis fuisset, et, nisi si tu aliter censes, et hinc abero et illim. sed alterum mihi est certius, nec praeripiam tamen.
Giorgio Agamben, Stasis: Civil War as a Political Paradigm. Stanford, 2015, 16:
“The stasis…takes place neither in the oikos nor in the polis, neither in the family nor in the city; rather, it constitutes a zone of indifference between the unpolitical space of the family and the political space of the city. In transgressing the threshold, the oikos is politicized; conversely, the polis is ‘economised’, that is, it is reduced to an oikos. This means that in the system of Greek politics civil war functions as a threshold of politicisation and depoliticisation, through which the house is exceeded in the city and the city is depoliticized in the family.”
If another person had suffered badly at another person’s hands, he would not make an avowal of his intent for revenge against the perpetrator, so that he would not be suspected in his design. I think that it is the act of a vile man to get the better of someone who is unaware. Having, then, been first injured by you, I warn you to take care of the great revenge coming your way from me, so that before the suffering, you can be chastised by the foreknowledge of it, and after the foreknowledge, you can experience the suffering itself.
“We use ‘self-sufficient’ not to mean a person alone—someone living in isolation—but to include one’s parents, children, spouse, friends, and even fellow citizens, since a human being is a social creature by nature. Now, some limit needs to be observed in these ties—for it will go on endlessly if you extend it to someone’s ancestors and descendants. But that’s a problem for another time.
We posit that self-sufficiency is something which in itself makes life attractive and lacks nothing and for this reason we think it is happiness, since we imagine that happiness is the most preferable of all things when it is not counted with others. It is clear that it is desirable even with the least of the goods—the addition of goods increases the total, since the greater good is always desirable.”
No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
I have stored up as much wealth as god has provided for the reversals of fortune not in the bosom of the earth, as you have suggested, but with those of my friends who wished to accept it as a gift. But you have not graced me by offering yourself enthusiastically to this plan to have some measure of hope in you who are my friends if I should ever lose my power. But indeed, though you have not done it now, take it and make the deed a kind of storing up which will guard our friendship. For I will not regard any part of the earth as trustworthy as I pass it if you, the greatest of my friends, are less sure and abiding than a handful of dust. But if you are doing well, even if I find myself wrapped up by a different fortune, I will in my vanquished state appear to be no less fortunate.
de Ingenuis Moribus et Liberalibus Adulescentiae Studiis (§2):
But while it is right that all people (especially parents) should be such as to seek to educate their children properly and since it is fitting that children should be such that they seem worthy of good parents, yet it is especially true for those who occupy a lofty place in society, whose every saying and deed is exposed to the public eye, that they should be educated in the most important subjects, so that they can be considered worthy of the fortune and rank of dignity which they achieve. It is only fair that those who think that all the best is owed to them should be examples of the best themselves. Nor is there any more sure or stable principle of ruling than that those who get hold of power should be judged by all to be the most worthy of it.
Verum cum omnes homines deceat (parentes quidem in primis) eos esse qui recte erudire suos liberos studeant et filios deinde tales qui parentibus bonis digni videri possint, praecipue tamen qui excelsiore loco sunt, quorumque nihil neque dictum neque factum latere potest, decens est ita principalibus artibus instructos esse, ut et fortuna et gradu dignitatis quam obtinent digni habeantur. Aequum est enim qui sibi summa omnia deberi volunt, debere et eos summa omnia de se praestare. Nec est ulla certior aut stabilior regnandi ratio quam si hi qui regna obtinent, ab omnibus dignissimi omnium regno iudicentur.
“A ruler’s first duty is to save the state itself. This is saved no less in refraining from what is not fitting than from pursuing what is fitting. But the one who shirks or overreaches is no longer a king or a ruler, but in fact becomes a demagogue or a despot. He fills the subjects with hatred and contempt. While the first problem seems to come from being too lenient or a concern for humanity, the second comes from self-regard and harshness.”
“I say the same of scoffs, slanders, contumelies, obloquies, defamations, detractions, pasquilling libels, and the like, which may tend any way to our disgrace: ’tis but opinion; if we could neglect, contemn, or with patience digest them, they would reflect on them that offered them at first. A wise citizen, I know not whence, had a scold to his wife: when she brawled, he played on his drum, and by that means madded her more, because she saw that he would not be moved. Diogenes in a crowd when one called him back, and told him how the boys laughed him to scorn, Ego, inquit, non rideor [I am not being laughed at], took no notice of it. Socrates was brought upon the stage by Aristophanes, and misused to his face, but he laughed as if it concerned him not: and as Aelian relates of him, whatsoever good or bad accident or fortune befel him going in or coming out, Socrates still kept the same countenance; even so should a Christian do, as Hierom describes him, per infamiam et bonam famam grassari ad immortalitatem, march on through good and bad reports to immortality, not to be moved: for honesty is a sufficient reward, probitas sibi praemium; and in our times the sole recompense to do well, is, to do well: but naughtiness will punish itself at last, Improbis ipsa nequitia supplicium [to the wicked, their own worthlessness is their punishment]. As the diverb is,
Qui bene fecerunt, illi sua facta sequentur;
Qui male fecerunt, facta sequentur eos:
They that do well, shall have reward at last:
But they that ill, shall suffer for that’s past.
Yea, but I am ashamed, disgraced, dishonoured, degraded, exploded: my notorious crimes and villainies are come to light (deprendi miserum est [it is a miserable thing to be caught]), my filthy lust, abominable oppression and avarice lies open, my good name’s lost, my fortune’s gone, I have been stigmatised, whipped at post, arraigned and condemned, I am a common obloquy, I have lost my ears, odious, execrable, abhorred of God and men. Be content, ’tis but a nine days’ wonder, and as one sorrow drives out another, one passion another, one cloud another, one rumour is expelled by another; every day almost, come new news unto our ears, as how the sun was eclipsed, meteors seen in the air, monsters born, prodigies, how the Turks were overthrown in Persia, an earthquake in Helvetia, Calabria, Japan, or China, an inundation in Holland, a great plague in Constantinople, a fire at Prague, a dearth in Germany, such a man is made a lord, a bishop, another hanged, deposed, pressed to death, for some murder, treason, rape, theft, oppression, all which we do hear at first with a kind of admiration, detestation, consternation, but by and by they are buried in silence: thy father’s dead, thy brother robbed, wife runs mad, neighbour hath killed himself; ’tis heavy, ghastly, fearful news at first, in every man’s mouth, table talk; but after a while who speaks or thinks of it?
It will be so with thee and thine offence, it will be forgotten in an instant, be it theft, rape, sodomy, murder, incest, treason, &c., thou art not the first offender, nor shalt not be the last, ’tis no wonder, every hour such malefactors are called in question, nothing so common, Quocunque in populo, quocunque sub axe [in every population, under every pole]? Comfort thyself, thou art not the sole man. If he that were guiltless himself should fling the first stone at thee, and he alone should accuse thee that were faultless, how many executioners, how many accusers wouldst thou have? If every man’s sins were written in his forehead, and secret faults known, how many thousands would parallel, if not exceed thine offence? It may be the judge that gave sentence, the jury that condemned thee, the spectators that gazed on thee, deserved much more, and were far more guilty than thou thyself. But it is thine infelicity to be taken, to be made a public example of justice, to be a terror to the rest; yet should every man have his desert, thou wouldst peradventure be a saint in comparison; vexat censura columbas [criticism harasses the doves], poor souls are punished; the great ones do twenty thousand times worse, and are not so much as spoken of.”
“After he heard these things, Dêmarêtos was saying the following: “King, since you order me to tell the truth completely and to say things that someone might not be caught in a lie by you later, poverty has always been Greece’s companion, but virtue is acquired, nurtured by wisdom and strong custom. By cultivating this excellence, Greece has warded off both poverty and tyranny.”
“To the Spartan representatives, the Athenians answered as follows: “It was a very human response that the Spartans feared we might make an agreement with the Barbarian. But because we believe it shameful that the Athenian spirit should shudder so, know that there is no amount of gold anywhere or land so exceeding in beauty and location which we would ever wish to take to align with the Persians and enslave Greece.
“There are many, serious reasons which would prevent us from doing these things, even if we were willing: first and greatest are the temples and dedications to the gods which were burned and destroyed. This compels us to seek extreme vengeance rather than making agreements with the man who contrived it. Second, is our common Hellenic blood, our shared language, the shrines of the gods and the sacrifices, customs and ways of living we keep in common—never would it be right for the Athenians to betray these things.
Know this too if you did not happen to know it before, as long as a single Athenian survives there will never be a treaty with Xerxes. Still, we give you thanks for your concern about us, that you have worried for out destroyed home enough that you are willing to supply and feed our people.”
I have sent you some horses all outfitted for the competition, and I have ordered Teucrus to give you the money. If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to write. There can be no request so great that I will not be entirely delighted by if you only ask.