“Some people blame these traits on Marcus Cato’s cheapness; but others believe he is a model for his rectitude and wisdom, since he counterbalanced the excess of everyone else. But I believe that how he used slaves up as if they were pack animals and then driving them away and selling them when they were old is the mark of a deeply cruel character—one that believes that human beings have nothing in common except for need.
But we know that kindness occupies more territory than justice. For we use law and justice only in reference to human beings, but it is kindness and charity that at times pour out from a gentle character even for the unthinking animals just as water from a full spring. Kind people take care of horses even when they are old and dogs too—not just when they are puppies, but when their old age requires care.”
“A man who has done proper things,
Certainly forgets about Hades.”
Ἀίδα τοι λάθεται
ἄρμενα πράξαις ἀνήρ.
Schol. ad Pin. Ol. 8.72
“He certainly forgets about Hades.” For every man who has accomplished fitting things obtains forgetfulness of Hades by his own choice, and this in fact means death. For, I guess, this is naturally just the thought of those who are troubled: for this sort of thing is the fine action of a fantasy for those who do well.”
“Two anchors are good: two anchors extended from one ship are good and useful in a stormy night, he means. He says that also because Hegesias has two countries, both in Arkadia and among the Syracusans.
Also: the winds are harsh at night. This is clearly about ships, for whom two anchors are need…they are useful. In the same way, the two cities stand against developing troubles.
“[the anchors] are good: this is a clever way of defending the two countries that claim the victor. IT means, just as it is advantageous and profitable to let out two anchors in a storm and the night, it is also a good thing to have two countries.”
“The mighty Centaur laughed brightly
With a soft brow, and immediately offered
His own wisdom: “The locks of holy sex
Are secrets of wise Persuasion, Apollo.
Gods and humans similarly avoid
Climbing quickly into bed openly, for the first time at least.
Even so, your moving lust persuaded you
To offer this speech when it is wrong For you to lie.
Are you really asking where the girl is from, lord?
You’re the one who knows the proper end of all things
And the paths that leads to them-=-
How many leaves the earth sprouts in the spring
And how many sands in the rivers and the sea
Swirl in the waves and the driven winds
Or what will be and where it will come from–
You know all of this well.
But, if it is my duty match one so wise,
I will speak…”
“Pythagoras shut himself in a hole in the ground and told his mother to tell people that he was dead. After that, once he reappeared again later, he was telling fantastic tales of reincarnation and the people Hades, explaining to the living about the matters of the dead. From these stories, he created that kind of repute for himself that, before the Trojan War, he was Aithalidês the son of Hermes and then Euphorbos, and then Hermotimos of Samos, then Delian Pythios and after all of them, Pythagoras.”
“The single solace I still had has been stolen from me. My thoughts were occupied with neither the business of my friends nor the the country’s bureaucracy. Nothing was drawing me to the courts; I couldn’t even look at the Senate. I was imagining–the truth–that I had lost every benefit of my luck and hard work. Yet when I realized that I had this in common with you and some others, I settled myself down and resolved to endure it well. Even while I did this, I had a place where I could retreat and rest, where I could escape all my worries and defeats in conversation and kindness.
But now those injuries I thought were healed are torturing me again thanks to this heavy hit. When I retreated from public life in the past, I found safety and comfort in my home. But I cannot flee from pain at home in public service, as if it offers any relief at all. So I make myself scarce from home and the Forum the same. Neither public nor private life can offer any relief to the pain and anxiety that plague me.”
unum manebat illud solacium quod ereptum est. non amicorum negotiis, non rei publicae procuratione impediebantur cogitationes meae, nihil in foro agere libebat, aspicere curiam non poteram, existimabam, id quod erat, omnis me et industriae meae fructus et fortunae perdidisse. sed cum cogitarem haec mihi tecum et cum quibusdam esse communia et cum frangerem iam ipse me cogeremque illa ferre toleranter, habebam quo confugerem, ubi conquiescerem, cuius in sermone et suavitate omnis curas doloresque deponerem.
Nunc autem hoc tam gravi vulnere etiam illa quae consanuisse videbantur recrudescunt. non enim, ut tum me a re publica maestum domus excipiebat quae levaret, sic nunc domo maerens ad rem publicam confugere possum ut in eius bonis acquiescam. itaque et domo absum et foro, quod nec eum dolorem quem e re publica capio domus iam consolari potest nec domesticum res publica.
“Always keep in mind that all sorts of people from all kinds of occupations and from every country on earth have died. And take this thought to Philistion and Phoibos and Origanion. Turn to the rest of the peoples on earth too.
We have to cross over to the same place where all those clever speakers and so many serious philosophers have gone—Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Socrates—and where those great heroes of old, the brave generals and tyrants have gone too. Among them are Eudoxos, Hipparchus, Archimedes, and other sharp natures, big minds, tireless men, bold men, and those who mock the temporary and disposable nature of life itself, like Menippus and the rest.
Think about all these people, that they have been dead for a long time. Why is this terrible for them? Why worry about those who are no longer named? This one thing is worth much: to keep on living with truth and justice and in good will even among liars and unjust men.”
“This part of precepts should be tossed away because it can’t give to everyone what it guarantees to a small few. Wisdom, however, welcomes all. There’s no difference, really, between the popular madness in general and the kind that requires medical treatment except that the individual suffers from a disease and the masses are afflicted by false opinions. For one, the symptoms of insanity develop from poor health, the other arises from sick minds.
If one offers maxims to a madman about how to speak, or walk, or how to act in public and private, they’d prove to be crazier than the one they’re advising. Someone really needs to treat their black bile and remove the initial cause of the affliction. This is what is required for a diseased mind too. The madness needs to be shed first, otherwise all your words of warning are useless.”
“Ergo ista praeceptiva pars summovenda est, quia quod paucis promittit, praestare omnibus non potest; sapientia autem omnes tenet. Inter insaniam publicamet hanc, quae medicis traditur, nihil interest nisi quod haec morbo laborat, illa opinionibus falsis. Altera causas furoris traxit ex valitudine, altera animi mala valitudo est. Si quis furioso praecepta det, quomodo loqui debeat, quomodo procedere, quomodo in publico se gerere, quomodo in privato, erit ipso, quem monebit, insanior. Ei bilis1 nigra curanda est et ipsa furoris causa removenda. Idem in hoc alio animi furore faciendum est. Ipse discuti debet; alioqui abibunt in vanum monentium verba.”
“Around the same period of time in that summer, the Athenians set siege to the Scionaeans and after killing all the adult men, made the women and childen into slaves and gave the land to the Plataeans.”
This was done by vote of the Athenian democracy led by Cleon: Thucydides 4.122.6. A similar solution was proposed during the Mytilenean debate. Cleon is described by Thucydides as “in addition the most violent of the citizens who also was the most persuasive at that time by far to the people.” (ὢν καὶ ἐς τὰ ἄλλα βιαιότατος τῶν πολιτῶν τῷ τε δήμῳ παρὰ πολὺ ἐν τῷ τότε πιθανώτατος, 3.36.6)
“They were making a judgment about the men there and in their anger it seemed right to them not only to kill those who were present but to slay all the Mytileneans who were adults and to enslave the children and women.”
In his speech in defense of this policy, Cleon reflects on the nature of imperialism and obedience. Although he eventually failed to gain approval for this vote which was overturned, his arguments seem to have worked on later occasions.
“The truth is that because you live without fear day-to-day and there is no conspiring against one another, you think imagine your ‘allies’ to live the same way. Because you are deluded by whatever is presented in speeches you are mistaken in these matters or because you yield to pity, you do not not realize you are being dangerously weak for yourselves and for some favor to your allies.
You do not examine the fact that the power you hold is a tyranny and that those who are dominated by you are conspiring against you and are ruled unwillingly and that these people obey you not because they might please you by being harmed but because you are superior to them by strength rather than because of their goodwill.
The most terrible thing of all is if nothing which seems right to us is established firmly—if we will not acknowledge that a state which has worse laws which are unbendable is stronger than a state with noble laws which are weakly administered, that ignorance accompanied by discipline is more effective than cleverness with liberality, and that lesser people can inhabit states much more efficiently than intelligent ones.
Smart people always want to show they are wiser than the laws and to be preeminent in discussions about the public good, as if there are no more important things where they could clarify their opinions—and because of this they most often ruin their states. The other group of people, on the other hand, because they distrust their own intelligence, think that it is acceptable to be less learned than the laws and less capable to criticize an argument than the one who speaks well. But because they are more fair and balanced judges, instead of prosecutors, they do well in most cases. For this reason, then, it is right that we too, when we are not carried away by the cleverness and the contest of intelligence, do not act to advise our majority against our own opinion.”