Dying to Kill a Tyrant

Cod. Paris. Suppl. gr., Gnomologium Parisinum , 134f. 266v

“Phalaris, after Peristhenes sent him the wives of Euboulos and Aristophantes who had conspired against them so they might die, asked the women if they had known about the conspiracy their husbands planned. They said that not only did they know about it, but that they had begged them to kill the tyrant. And when he asked in turn what evil this was for, they responded, “It is nothing personal, but for a communal injustice. For it is a communal crime when a free state is enslaved.”

He followed up with another question, “What fate did you meet? For you would certainly pay a deserved penalty for your hatred…” and they interrupted, “if we died.” This stalled his anger because he was amazed by the extreme nobility of these answers and judged that women who were prepared to die with such uprightness should live instead of dying.”

Φάλαρις, Περισθένους τὴν Εὐβούλου καὶ τὴν ᾽Αριστοφάντου γυναῖκα τῶν ἐπιβουλευσάντων αὐτῶι πέμψαντος ὡς ἀπολουμένας, ἐπεὶ ἤιρετο, εἰ συνήιδεσαν τὴν ἐπιβουλὴν τοῖς ἀνδράσιν, αἱ δὲ ἔφασαν οὐ τοῦτο μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ παροτρῦναι τυραννοκτονῆσαι. καὶ αὖθις ἐρομένου τοῦ Φαλάριδος ἀνθ᾽ ὅτου κακοῦ, αἱ δὲ εἶπον· ‘οὐδενὸς μὲν ἰδίου, τῆς δὲ κοινῆς ἀδικίας· κοινὴ γὰρ τὸ καταδουλοῦσθαι πόλιν ἐλευθέραν’. εἶθ᾽ αὖθις ἐπανερομένου ‘ὑμεῖς δὲ τί πεπόνθατε; τοιγαροῦν δίκην ἀποτίσαιτ’ ἄν μοι τοῦ μίσους τὴν κατ᾽ ἀξίαν᾽, αἱ δὲ προσέθησαν ‘ἀποθανοῦσαι’, ὑφήιρηκε τῆς ὀργῆς, ἀγασθεὶς τὸ ὑπερβάλλον τῆς εὐγενείας ἐν ταῖς ἀποκρίσεσι, καὶ ζῆν μᾶλλον ἢ τεθνάναι κρίνας τὰς μετὰ τοιαύτης ἀρετῆς ἀποθνήσκειν προηιρημένας.

Phalaris condemning the sculptor Perillus to the Bronze Bull, after Baldassare Peruzzi by Pierre Woeiriot

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