The Least Corrupt Politician

Aelian, Varia Historia 14.28

“Someone rebuked the politician Pytheas because he was corrupt. He did not deny the fact, since his own knowledge would not allow it. But he responded that he was corrupt with the least amount of frequency of any of the politicians in Athens.

He clearly thought it was a big deal that he was not like that his whole life and actually believed that the had not acted unjustly because he was not counted among the worst politicians. This was Pytheas’ simplemindedness. By my reckoning, not only is the one who does injustice corrupt, but the one who plans to do it is too.”

28. Ὠνείδισέ τις τῷ ῥήτορι Πυθέᾳ ὅτι κακός ἐστιν. ὁ δὲ οὐκ ἠρνήσατο· τὸ γὰρ συνειδὸς οὐκ ἐπέτρεπεν αὐτῷ. ἀπεκρίνατο δὲ ἐκεῖνο, ἐλάχιστον χρόνον τῶν πεπολιτευμένων Ἀθήνησι γενέσθαι κακός· μέγα φρονῶν δῆλον ὅτι μὴ διὰ τέλους ἦν τοιοῦτος, καὶ ἡγούμενος μὴ ἀδικεῖν, ἐπεὶ μὴ τοῖς πονηροτάτοις παρενεβάλλετο. εὔηθες δὲ τοῦτο τοῦ Πυθέου· οὐ γὰρ μόνον ὁ ἀδικήσας κακὸς ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ ἐννοήσας ἀδικῆσαι, παρά γε ἐμοὶ κριτῇ.

File:The virtuous Athenian mg 0093.jpg
“The Virtuous Athenian” by Joseph-Marie Vien

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