Political Toadies, Wrestling, and Lasting Art

(Reader Request Part II) Plutarch, Pericles:

“Get some flunkies for that!”:

“Of true excellence, it may be said that those things appear most noble which are most apparent, and nothing about the lives of good men is so impressive to others as their daily life among their friends. Pericles, in an effort to prevent the people from  developing an overly familiarized satiety, appeared to them only in moments of crisis, and did not speak or appear to the people on every occasion. Rather, as Critolaus says, he gave himself ‘like the Trireme of Salamis’ only to matters of the highest import, while performing his other business by enlisting his friends and some other speakers as toadies.”

τῆς ἀληθινῆς δ’ ἀρετῆς κάλλιστα φαίνεται τὰ μάλιστα φαινόμενα, καὶ τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἀνδρῶν οὐδὲν οὕτω θαυμάσιον τοῖς ἐκτὸς ὡς ὁ καθ’ ἡμέραν βίος τοῖς συνοῦσιν. ὁ δὲ καὶ τῷ δήμῳ, τὸ συνεχὲς φεύγων καὶ τὸν κόρον, οἷον ἐκ διαλειμμάτων ἐπλησίαζεν, οὐκ ἐπὶ παντὶ πράγματι λέγων οὐδ’ ἀεὶ παριὼν εἰς τὸ πλῆθος, ἀλλ’ ἑαυτὸν ὥσπερ τὴν Σαλαμινίαν τριήρη, φησὶ Κριτόλαος, πρὸς τὰς μεγάλας χρείας ἐπιδιδούς, τἆλλα δὲ φίλους καὶ ῥήτορας ἑτέρους καθιεὶς ἔπραττεν.

“Consider some alternative facts…

“An old joke of Thucydides, son of Melesias, was told of Pericles’ remarkable ability in speaking. Thucydides was a member of the ‘Good and Noble’ set, and spent much of his time in political wrangling against Pericles. When Archidamus, the king of the Lacedaemonians, asked whether Thucyidides or Pericles was the better wrestler, Thucydides said, ‘If I throw him down in a match, he argues that he never fell, and wins by persuading the very people who saw him on the ground.’”

     Διαμνημονεύεται δέ τις καὶ Θουκυδίδου τοῦ Μελησίου λόγος εἰς τὴν δεινότητα τοῦ Περικλέους μετὰ παιδιᾶς εἰρημένος. ἦν μὲν γὰρ ὁ Θουκυδίδης τῶν καλῶν καὶ ἀγαθῶν ἀνδρῶν, καὶ πλεῖστον ἀντεπολιτεύσατο τῷ Περικλεῖ χρόνον. ᾿Αρχιδάμου δὲ τοῦ Λακεδαιμονίων βασιλέως πυνθανομένου πότερον αὐτὸς ἢ Περικλῆς παλαίει βέλτιον, „ὅταν” εἶπεν „ἐγὼ καταβάλω παλαίων, ἐκεῖνος ἀντιλέγων ὡς οὐ πέπτωκε, νικᾷ καὶ μεταπείθει τοὺς ὁρῶντας.”

“F*ck your sh*tty art…”

“They say that when the painter Agatharcus was bragging about the speed and facility with which he painted his works, Zeuxis heard him and said, ‘I make mine in and for a long time.’ Indeed, facility and speed in creation do not lend a lasting weight or exactness of beauty to the work. The time paid out in labor on some creation reaps a reward in the preservation of the thing created. On that account, the works of Pericles are all the more astounding, since they were both created so fast and lasted so long.”

καίτοι ποτέ φασιν ᾿Αγαθάρχου τοῦ ζωγράφου μέγα φρονοῦντος ἐπὶ τῷ ταχὺ καὶ ῥᾳδίως τὰ ζῷα ποιεῖν ἀκούσαντα τὸν Ζεῦξιν εἰπεῖν· „ἐγὼ δ’ ἐν πολλῷ χρόνῳ.” ἡ γὰρ ἐν τῷ ποιεῖν εὐχέρεια καὶ ταχύτης οὐκ ἐντίθησι βάρος ἔργῳ μόνιμον οὐδὲ κάλλους ἀκρίβειαν, ὁ δ’ εἰς τὴν γένεσιν τῷ πόνῳ προδανεισθεὶς χρόνος ἐν τῇ σωτηρίᾳ τοῦ γενομένου τὴν ἰσχὺν ἀποδίδωσιν. ὅθεν καὶ μᾶλλον θαυμάζεται τὰ Περικλέους ἔργα, πρὸς πολὺν χρόνον ἐν ὀλίγῳ γενόμενα.

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