Differences Between Kingship and Tyranny: Aelian, 2.20

“They say that Antigonus the king was popular and mild. It is possible for anyone who has the time to study about him to examine the very sources about the man. He will discover there that he was altogether kind and inoffensive, as I am about to explain. Antigonus, when he saw his son treating their subjects rather violently and rashly, said “Don’t you know, child, that our kingdom is merely a glorified slavery?” This word from Antigonos to his child was rather kind and humane. To whomever this is not the case, he seems to me to know neither what is kingly or political, but rather to have lived under a tyranny”

᾿Αντίγονόν φασι τὸν βασιλέα δημοτικὸν καὶ πρᾶον γενέσθαι. καὶ ὅτῳ μὲν σχολὴ τὰ κατ’ αὐτὸν εἰδέναι καὶ αὐτὰ ἕκαστα ἐξετάζειν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἀνδρός, εἴσεταιἑτέρωθεν• εἰρήσεται δ’ οὖν αὐτοῦ καὶ πάνυ πρᾶον καὶ ἄτυφον ὃ μέλλω λέγειν. ὁ ᾿Αντίγονος οὗτος ὁρῶν τὸν υἱὸν τοῖς ὑπηκόοις χρώμενον βιαιότερόν τε καὶ θρασύτερον ‘οὐκ οἶσθα’ εἶπεν, ‘ὦ παῖ, τὴν βασιλείαν ἡμῶν ἔνδοξον εἶναι δουλείαν;’ καὶ τὰ μὲν τοῦ
᾿Αντιγόνου πρὸς τὸν παῖδα πάνυ ἡμέρως ἔχει καὶ φιλανθρώπως• ὅτῳ δὲ οὐ δοκεῖ ταύτῃ, ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνός γε οὐ δοκεῖ μοι βασιλικὸν ἄνδρα εἰδέναι οὐδὲ πολιτικόν, τυραννικῷ δὲ συμβιῶσαι μᾶλλον.

Krates Gave Up Even His City: Aelian, Varia Historia 3.6

“Krates of Thebes was magnanimous and furnished many examples of it; he was also dismissive of things admired by most men, including money and native home. The fact that he gave all of his wealth to the Thebans is well-recorded. But less well known is another detail: he left Thebes when it was rebuilt and said: “I don’t want a city that some other Alexander will destroy.”

Κράτης ὁ Θηβαῖος τά τε ἄλλα μεγαλόφρων ὢν πεφώραται καὶ καταφρονητικὸς τῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους θαυμαζομένων, ἀτὰρ οὖν καὶ χρημάτων καὶ πατρίδος. ὅτι μὲν οὖν τῆς οὐσίας ἀπέστη τοῖς Θηβαίοις, τοῦτο μὲν καὶ ἐς πάντας ἐξεφοίτησε• τὸ δὲ ἕτερον αὐτοῦ οὐ πᾶσι γνώριμον• ἔστι δὲ ἐκεῖνο. ἀπαλλαττόμενος τῶν Θηβῶν οἰκισθεισῶν πάλιν ἔφη ‘οὐ δέομαι πόλεως, ἣν ᾿Αλέξανδρος κατασκάψει ἄλλος.’

Countless Universes and Critical Horses: Two Anecdotes about Alexander (Aelian 2.3 and 4.28)

(I know I have been painting this site with an Aelian brush, but these two anecdotes are too precious).

2.3: “When Alexander gazed at a likeness of himself in Ephesus painted by Apelles, he didn’t praise it to the worth of its craftsmanship. After his horse approached and neighed toward the horse in the image as if it were real, Apelles said “King, your horse seems to appreciate art much more than you do.”

᾿Αλέξανδρος θεασάμενος τὴν ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ εἰκόνα ἑαυτοῦ τὴν ὑπὸ ᾿Απελλοῦ γραφεῖσαν οὐκ ἐπῄνεσε κατὰ τὴν ἀξίαν τοῦ γράμματος. ἐσαχθέντος δὲ τοῦ ἵππου καὶ χρεμετίσαντος πρὸς τὸν ἵππον τὸν ἐν τῇ εἰκόνι ὡς πρὸς ἀληθινὸν καὶ ἐκεῖνον ‘ὦ βασιλεῦ’ εἶπεν ὁ ᾿Απελλῆς, ‘ἀλλ’ ὅ γε ἵππος ἔοικέ σου γραφικώτερος εἶναι κατὰ πολύ.

4.28:  “I am unable to resist laughing at Alexander the son of Philip if, indeed, when he heard what Democritus says in his writings–that there are endless numbers of universes–he was upset that he wasn’t even master of the one we all share. How much would Democritus have laughed at him, do I even need to say, when laughter was his job?”

Οὐ γὰρ δὴ δύναμαι πείθειν ἐμαυτὸν μὴ γελᾶν ἐπ’ ᾿Αλεξάνδρῳ τῷ Φιλίππου, εἴ γε ἀπείρους ἀκούων εἶναί τινας κόσμους λέγοντος Δημοκρίτου ἐν τοῖς συγγράμμασιν ὃ δὲ ἠνιᾶτο μηδὲ τοῦ ἑνὸς καὶ κοινοῦ κρατῶν. πόσον δ’ ἂν ἐπ’ αὐτῷ Δημόκριτος ἐγέλασεν αὐτός, τί δεῖ καὶ λέγειν, ᾧ ἔργον τοῦτο ἦν;

Demosthenes Drank Water; Aeschines Drank Wine (Philostratus, Livesof the Sophists 507-8)

“The conflict between Aeschines and Demosthenes began in part because of the fact that the one acted on behalf of the King and the other acted for another—as it seems to me. But there was also a difference of character: and hatred always seems to develop from characters that are strongly opposed to one another without any other cause. And the two were opposed for these reasons. Aeschines was a man who liked to drink, but he was sweet and had kind manners and he had the general charm of Dionysus; indeed, when he was in his youth he played parts for the tragic actors. But Demosthenes had a downcast face, a heavy brow, and he drank water: and for this reason he was assumed a ill-tempered and bad-mannered man….”

διαφορᾶς δ’ ἦρξεν Αἰσχίνῃ καὶ Δημοσθένει καὶ αὐτὸ μὲν τὸ ἄλλον ἄλλῳ βασιλεῖ πολιτεύειν, ὡς δ’ ἐμοὶ φαίνεται, τὸ ἐναντίως ἔχειν καὶ τῶν ἠθῶν, ἐξ ἠθῶν γὰρ ἀλλήλοις ἀντιξόων φύεται μῖσος αἰτίαν οὐκ ἔχον. ἀντιξόω δ’ ἤστην καὶ διὰ τάδε• ὁ μὲν Αἰσχίνης φιλοπότης τε ἐδόκει καὶ ἡδὺς καὶ ἀνειμένος καὶ πᾶν τὸ ἐπίχαρι ἐκ Διονύσου ᾑρηκώς, καὶ γὰρ δὴ καὶ τοῖς βαρυστόνοις ὑποκριταῖς τὸν ἐν μειρακίῳ χρόνον ὑπετραγῴδησεν, ὁ δ’ αὖ συννενοφώς τε ἐφαίνετο καὶ βαρὺς τὴν ὀφρὺν καὶ ὕδωρ πίνων, ὅθεν [ἐν] δυσκόλοις τε καὶ δυστρόποις ἐνεγράφετο…

Xenophon and Alexander! — Eunapius, Lives of the Philosophers and Sophists (Introduction, 453)

“Xenophon the philosopher, the only philosopher who blessed philosophy in both word and deed (in respect to words he still exists in letters and writes of moral excellence; and he was the best in deeds, and through his examples he fathered generals. Alexander, I suggest, would not have been great if not for Xenophon), Xenophon says that it is necessary to record the minor deeds of serious men.”

Ξενοφῶν ὁ φιλόσοφος, ἀνὴρ μόνος ἐξ ἁπάντων φιλοσόφων ἐν λόγοις τε καὶ ἔργοις φιλοσοφίαν κοσμήσας (τὰ μὲν ἐς λόγους ἔστι τε ἐν γράμμασι καὶ ἠθικὴν ἀρετὴν γράφει, τὰ δὲ ἐν πράξεσί τε ἦν ἄριστος, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐγέννα στρατηγοὺς τοῖς ὑποδείγμασιν• ὁ γοῦν μέγας ᾿Αλέξανδρος οὐκ ἂν ἐγένετο μέγας, εἰ μὴ Ξενοφῶν) καὶ τὰ πάρεργά φησι δεῖν τῶν σπουδαίων ἀνδρῶν ἀναγράφειν.

Speaking of Alexander, the sentiment of this passage reminds me of what Plutarch says in his Life of Alexander.

 

Plutarch Life of Alexander 1. 2-3

“A brief deed or comment or even some joke often shows the imprint of a man’s character more than battles of a thousand corpses, the greatest campaigns or sieges of cities.”

ἀλλὰ πρᾶγμα βραχὺ πολλάκις καὶ ῥῆμα καὶ παιδιά τις ἔμφασιν ἤθους ἐποίησε μᾶλλον ἢ μάχαι μυριόνεκροι καὶ παρατάξεις αἱ μέγισται καὶ πολιορκίαι πόλεων.

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