I Had to Put Myself In Power

Lucian, Phalaris 1.2

“I was not one of the invisible people in Akragas, if anyone was well born, liberally raised, and fully educated, I was. I always made sure to demonstrate my own public nature to the city, a proper and moderate character to my fellow citizens, and no one ever accused me in that previous period of my life of being violent, or inappropriate, or arrogant, or insulting at all.

But once I saw that people who were in the opposing political faction were conspiring against me and trying everything they could to bring me down—when our city was split in strife—I could find only this escape and safety, the very same preservation for the city too: I had to put myself in power so I could stop the conspirators and compel the city to be more sensible.  Since there was no small number of people who approved these things—those reasonable and patriotic men who knew my plan and the necessity of the attempt, I took over easily with them as my helpers.”

Ἐγὼ γὰρ οὐ τῶν ἀφανῶν ἐν Ἀκράγαντι ὤν, ἀλλ᾿ εἰ καί τις ἄλλος εὖ γεγονὼς καὶ τραφεὶς ἐλευθερίως καὶ παιδείᾳ προσεσχηκώς, ἀεὶ διετέλουν τῇ μὲν πόλει δημοτικὸν ἐμαυτὸν παρέχων, τοῖς δὲ συμπολιτευομένοις ἐπιεικῆ καὶ μέτριον, βίαιον δὲ ἢ σκαιὸν ἢ ὑβριστικὸν ἢ αὐθέκαστον οὐδεὶς οὐδὲν ἐπεκάλει μου τῷ προτέρῳ ἐκείνῳ βίῳ. ἐπειδὴ δὲ ἑώρων τοὺς τἀναντία μοι πολιτευομένους ἐπιβουλεύοντας καὶ ἐξ ἅπαντος τρόπου ἀνελεῖν με ζητοῦντας—διῄρητο δὲ ἡμῶν τότε ἡ πόλις—μίαν ταύτην ἀποφυγὴν καὶ ἀσφάλειαν εὕρισκον, τὴν αὐτὴν ἅμα καὶ τῇ πόλει σωτηρίαν, εἰ ἐπιθέμενος τῇ ἀρχῇ ἐκείνους μὲν ἀναστείλαιμι καὶ παύσαιμι ἐπιβουλεύοντας, τὴν πόλιν δὲ σωφρονεῖν καταναγκάσαιμι· καὶ ἦσαν γὰρ οὐκ ὀλίγοι ταῦτα ἐπαινοῦντες, ἄνδρες μέτριοι καὶ φιλοπόλιδες, οἳ καὶ τὴν γνώμην ᾔδεσαν τὴν ἐμὴν καὶ τῆς ἐπιχειρήσεως τὴν ἀνάγκην· τούτοις οὖν συναγωνισταῖς χρησάμενος ῥᾳδίως ἐκράτησα.

Hieronymus Bosch, “Removing the Rocks from the Head

Leave a Reply