Nobility and the Property of the Rich

Euripides, Fragment 462

“I both know and have experienced the hard way
that all people are the friends of men who have.
No one slinks about where there is no food,
But they go where there is wealth and a gathering.
To be ‘well-born’ is also the property of the rich;
But the poor man does well if he dies.”

᾿Επίσταμαι δὲ καὶ πεπείραμαι λίαν,
ὡς τῶν ἐχόντων πάντες ἄνθρωποι φίλοι.
οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἕρπει πρὸς τὸ μὴ τροφὴν ἔχον,
ἀλλ᾿ εἰς τὸ πλοῦτον καὶ συνουσίαν ἔχον.
καὶ τῶν ἐχόντων ηὑγένεια κρίνεται.
ἀνὴρ δ᾿ ἀχρήμων εἰ θάνοι πράσσει καλῶς.

Euripides, obviously, might disagree with Tibullus (1.1-6):

“Let someone else pile up gleaming gold
And hold as many lots of well-plowed land,
Let constant labor frighten him when an enemy’s near
As war’s clarion blasts send his sleep to flight.
But may my poverty guide me through a settled life
as long as my hearth shines with a tireless light.”

Divitias alius fulvo sibi congerat auro
Et teneat culti iugera multa soli,
Quem labor adsiduus vicino terreat hoste,
Martia cui somnos classica pulsa fugent:
Me mea paupertas vita traducat inerti, 5
Dum meus adsiduo luceat igne focus.

Although, in a different fragment, Euripides notes the corrupting force of wealth:

Euripides, fr. 54 (Alexander): On the Educational Merits of Poverty?

“Wealth and too much luxury
Are the wrong lessons for manly men.
Poverty is wretched but at least it raises up
Children better at working and getting things done.”

κακόν τι παίδευμ’ ἦν ἄρ’ εἰς εὐανδρίαν
ὁ πλοῦτος ἀνθρώποισιν αἵ τ’ ἄγαν τρυφαί·
πενία δὲ δύστηνον μέν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως τρέφει
μοχθεῖν τ’ ἀμείνω τέκνα καὶ δραστήρια.

The fabulously wealthy Seneca might agree:

Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium 17.3

“For many, riches have stood in the way of philosophizing; poverty is unimpeded, free from care.”

multis ad philosophandum obstitere divitiae; paupertas expedita est, secura est.

Image result for Ancient Greek riches

Some Latin Passages for a Crisis of State

Cicero, Pro Sulla 12

“The charge of participation in that conspiracy was defended by the very man who was part of it, who investigated it, and was a partner in your plans and your fear.”

Ergo istius coniurationis crimen defensum ab eo est qui interfuit, qui cognovit, qui particeps et consili vestri fuit et timoris;

Pseudo-Sallust, Against Cicero 3

“[A man who] counts the pain of the state as his own glory; as if, indeed, your consulate were not the reason for that conspiracy and through which the republic was torn apart when it possessed you as its protector.”

qui civitatis incommodum in gloriam suam ponit. quasi vero non illius coniurationis causa fuerit consulatus tuus et idcirco res publica disiecta eo tempore quo6 te custodem habebat.

Yesterday evening, I asked friends on Facebook to suggest passages to help frame the firing of FBI Director Comey

Tacitus, Annales 1.2 (Suggested by S. A. Guerriero )

“After the public was disarmed by the murders of Brutus and Cassius, when Pompey had been defeated in Sicily, Lepidus discarded, and Antony had been killed, even the Julian party had Caesar as the remaining leader. Once he gave up the name of triumvir and was declaring himself a consul, happy to safeguard the common people with tribunal powers, he won over the army with payments, the people with food grants, and everyone else with pleasing peace. Then, bit by bit, he began to arrogate to himself the duties of the senate, the executive offices, and the law because there was no one opposing him since the boldest men had died either in battle or by proscription. The remaining nobles discovered themselves increased by honors and wealth as soon as they accepted servitude: they preferred the present safety to ancient dangers. The provinces too were not opposed to this state of affairs because the rule of the Senate and People there had been undermined by the struggles of the powerful and avarice of the officers against which there was the weak defense of laws which were corrupted by force, by nepotism and, finally, bribery.”

Postquam Bruto et Cassio caesis nulla iam publica arma, Pompeius apud Siciliam oppressus, exutoque Lepido, interfecto Antonio, ne Iulianis quidem partibus nisi Caesar dux reliquus, posito triumviri nomine, consulem se ferens et ad tuendam plebem tribunicio iure contentum, ubi militem donis, populum annona, cunctos dulcedine otii pellexit, insurgere paulatim, munia senatus, magistratuum, legum in se trahere, nullo adversante, cum ferocissimi per acies aut proscriptione cecidissent, ceteri nobilium, quanto quis servitio promptior, opibus et honoribus extollerentur ac novis ex rebus aucti, tuta et praesentia quam vetera et periculosa mallent. Neque provinciae illum rerum statum abnuebant, suspecto senatus populique imperio ob certamina potentium et avaritiam magistratuum, invalido legum auxilio, quae vi, ambitu, postremo pecunia turbabantur.

Image result for Ancient Roman politics Augustus coin

Some lighter fare
Horace Satire 1.9. 75-79 (Suggested by L. Manning)

“By chance I met up with my opponent
And he shouted loudly “Where are you going, criminal?
And also “May I call you to testify?” Then I
Incline my little ear and he rushes the man to court.
There is shouting and running about. And that’s how Apollo saved me.”

casu venit obvius illi
adversarius et ‘quo tu, turpissime?’ magna
inclamat voce, et ‘licet antestari?’ ego vero
oppono auriculam. rapit in ius; clamor utrimque,
undique concursus. sic me servavit Apollo.

Ovid, Tristia 2. 207-210 (Suggested by K. Durkin)

“Though two crimes—a song and a mistake—have destroyed me
I must be silent of my responsibility in the second
Since I am not worth enough to renew your wounds, Caesar,
And it is already too much that you’ve been hurt once,”

perdiderint cum me duo crimina, carmen et error,
alterius facti culpa silenda mihi:
nam non sum tanti, renovem ut tua vulnera, Caesar,
quem nimio plus est indoluisse semel.

Inspired? Want more? Don’t forget the ongoing  virtual conference  “Teaching Leaders and Leadership Through Classics” . (You can participate by registering).

People-devouring, Bribe-Swallowing, People-eating Kings

[Go here for etymologies for tyrant]

Plato, Republic  564a

“It is likely, I said, that tyranny emerges out of no other state except for democracy—the greatest and most savage servitude emerges, I suppose, from the greatest freedom.”

Εἰκότως τοίνυν, εἶπον, οὐκ ἐξ ἄλλης πολιτείας τυραννὶς καθίσταται ἢ ἐκ δημοκρατίας, ἐξ οἶμαι τῆς ἀκροτάτης ἐλευθερίας δουλεία πλείστη τε καὶ ἀγριωτάτη.

 

Hom. Il. 1.231

“You are a people-eating king who rules over nobodies”
δημοβόρος βασιλεὺς ἐπεὶ οὐτιδανοῖσιν ἀνάσσεις·

Apollonius Sophista

“People-eater: one who eats the people’s common goods”
δημοβόρος ὁ τὰ τοῦ δήμου κοινὰ κατεσθίων.

Photius

“People Eater: one who eats the common goods”
Δημοβόρος· ὁ τὰ δημόσια ἐσθίων.

Schol. ad Il. bT ad. Il. 1.231ex

“This [comment] disturbs the masses. For the most serious accusation is making the common goods your own…”

ex. δημοβόρος: κινητικὰ ταῦτα τοῦ πλήθους· μεγίστη γὰρ κατηγορία τὸ σφετερίζεσθαι τὰ κοινά. b(BCE3E4)T

Eustathius, Commentary on the Iliad 1.143.27

“The insult “people-devouring king” is aimed especially at moving the people and provoking Agamemnon to Anger. Just as the term “gift-devourer” emphasizes the evil of taking bribes, just so here the term dêmoboros highlights the injustice which is more subtly announced in the phrase “deprive one of gifts”. Note as well that Agamemnon is maligned not just for drinking [being “wine-heavy”] but also for eating.”

σφόδρα δὲ κινητικὸν τοῦ δήμου τὸ δημοβόρος βασιλεύς καὶ ἐρεθιστικὸν εἰς θυμόν. ὥσπερ δὲ παρ’ ῾Ησιόδῳ τὸ δωροφάγοι ἐπιτείνει τὸ κακὸν τοῦ δωροληπτεῖν, οὕτω κἀνταῦθα τὴν ἀδικίαν τὸ δημοβόρον, ὃ ἠρέμα ὑπελαλήθη καὶ ἐν τῷ «δῶρ’ ἀποαιρεῖσθαι». ὅρα δὲ καὶ ὅτι οὐ μόνον οἰνοβαρὴς ὁ ᾿Αγαμέμνων σκώπτεται ἀλλὰ καὶ βορός.

Eustathius, Commentary to the Iliad 4.448.7

“For the allies of the Trojans eat the public goods of the people and the leaders of the Argives drink the public goods. It has already been shown that, when a division of spoils was made, some portion was granted from the common shares to the king and for the symposia of the best men—the misuse of this makes the king a “people-eater”—by which this means a “consumer of the people’s things. For to claim that dêmoboros is the same as cannibalism [anthropo-phagy], that he eats the people, is both bitter to the thought and harmful to the sense. For it is clear that this is not what is being criticized, because it is not the people [demos] rather than the things of the people, the public goods, as is clear from other compounds like demiopratôn, which Kômikos brings up, or also from the Homeric dêmioergôn.”

οἵ τε γὰρ τῶν Τρώων ἐπίκουροι δήμια ἤσθιον τὰ τῶν λαῶν ἔδοντες, καὶ οἱ τῶν ᾿Αργείων ἡγήτορες δήμια ἔπινον. δεδήλωται γὰρ ἤδη ὅτι δασμοῦ γινομένου μερὶς ἐδίδοτό τις τῷ βασιλεῖ ἐκ τῶν κοινῶν καὶ εἰς τὰ τῶν ἀριστέων συμπόσια, ὧν ἡ παράχρησις δημοβόρον τὸν βασιλέα ποιεῖ, ταὐτὸν δ’ εἰπεῖν δημιοβόρον. [Φάναι γὰρ δημοβόρον τὸν δίκην ἀνθρωποφάγου αὐτὸν τὸν δῆμον ἐσθίοντα δριμὺ μὲν τῇ ἐννοίᾳ, πάνυ δὲ ἀτηρὸν τῇ τροπῇ. Σημείωσαι δὲ καὶ ὅτι ἔκπαλαι μὲν οὐ ψεκτὸν ἦν, ὥσπερ οὐδὲ ὁ δῆμος, οὕτως οὐδὲ ὁ δήμιος οὐδὲ τὸ δήμιον, ὡς δῆλον ἔκ τε τῶν δημιοπράτων, ὧν μέμνηται καὶ ὁ Κωμικός, καὶ ἐκ τῶν ῾Ομηρικῶν δημιοεργῶν.

Theognis 1179-1182

“Kyrnus, revere and fear the gods. For this restrains a man
From doing or saying anything sinful.
Put a people-eating tyrant to rest however you want—
No criticism will come from the gods for that.”

Κύρνε, θεοὺς αἰδοῦ καὶ δείδιθι· τοῦτο γὰρ ἄνδρα
εἴργει μήθ’ ἕρδειν μήτε λέγειν ἀσεβῆ.
δημοφάγον δὲ τύραννον ὅπως ἐθέλεις κατακλῖναι
οὐ νέμεσις πρὸς θεῶν γίνεται οὐδεμία.

Hes. Works and Days 219-223

“Oath runs immediately from crooked judgments.
And a roar rises from wounded Justice where men strike,
Bribe-eating men who apply the law with crooked judgments.

αὐτίκα γὰρ τρέχει ῞Ορκος ἅμα σκολιῇσι δίκῃσιν·
τῆς δὲ Δίκης ῥόθος ἑλκομένης ᾗ κ’ ἄνδρες ἄγωσι
δωροφάγοι, σκολιῇς δὲ δίκῃς κρίνωσι θέμιστας·

263-266

“Guard against these things, kings, and straighten your stories,
Bribe-eaters, forget about your crooked rulings completely.
Who fashions evil for another man brings it on himself.
The vilest end comes for the man who has made evil plans.”

ταῦτα φυλασσόμενοι, βασιλῆς, ἰθύνετε μύθους,
δωροφάγοι, σκολιέων δὲ δικέων ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθεσθε.
οἷ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων,
ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.

Schol ad Hes. Prolg. 125

“He says this educationally, answering to the kings who should make a great effort to make people prosperous even though some of them take bribes. Not only this, he says clearly that if the kingly right is bestowed by the gods to do good, then it is right that kingly men be givers of wealth, and to expunge wrong doing, including a desire for money, for which they should be leaders for others according to the will of the gods.”

ΠΛΟΥΤΟΔΟΤΑΙ. Τοῦτο παιδευτικῶς εἶπεν, ἀποκρινόμενος πρὸς τοὺς βασιλεῖς, οἳ πολλοῦ δέουσιν εὐπόρους ποιεῖν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους δωροφάγοι τινὲς ὄντες. Μονονουχὶ λέγει σαφῶς, εἰ γέρας ἐστὶ βασιλικὸν προτεινόμενον ὑπὸ τῶν θεῶν τὸ ἀγαθοποιεῖν, καὶ πλουτοδότας εἶναι δεῖ τοὺς βασιλικοὺς ἄνδρας, καθαρεύειν τε πάσης κακουργίας, καὶ τῆς τῶν χρημάτων ἐπιθυμίας, ὧν εἰσιν ἄλλοις χορηγοὶ κατὰβούλησιν τῶν θεῶν. PROCLUS.

Image result for ancient greek king vase

Hesiod on Justice and the Corruption of Power (Works and Days, 256-273)

“Justice is a maiden who was born from Zeus.
The gods who live on Olympus honor her
and whenever someone wrongs her by bearing false witness
she sits straightaway at the feet of Zeus, Kronos’ son
and tells him the plans of unjust men so that the people
will pay the price of the wickedness of kings who make murderous plans
and twist her truth by proclaiming false judgments.
Keep these things in mind, bribe-swallowing kings:
whoever wrongs another also wrongs himself;
an evil plan is most evil for the one who makes it.
The eye of Zeus sees everything and knows everything
and even now, if he wishes, will look on us and not miss
what kind of justice the walls of our city protects.
Today, I wouldn’t wish myself to be a just man among men
nor my son, since it bad to be a just man
If anyone who is more unjust has greater rights.
But I hope that Zeus, the counselor, will not let this happen.”

 

ἡ δέ τε παρθένος ἐστὶ Δίκη, Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα,
κυδρή τ’ αἰδοίη τε θεοῖς οἳ ῎Ολυμπον ἔχουσιν,
καί ῥ’ ὁπότ’ ἄν τίς μιν βλάπτῃ σκολιῶς ὀνοτάζων,
αὐτίκα πὰρ Διὶ πατρὶ καθεζομένη Κρονίωνι
γηρύετ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀδίκων νόον, ὄφρ’ ἀποτείσῃ
δῆμος ἀτασθαλίας βασιλέων οἳ λυγρὰ νοεῦντες
ἄλλῃ παρκλίνωσι δίκας σκολιῶς ἐνέποντες.
ταῦτα φυλασσόμενοι, βασιλῆς, ἰθύνετε μύθους,
δωροφάγοι, σκολιέων δὲ δικέων ἐπὶ πάγχυ λάθεσθε.
οἷ αὐτῷ κακὰ τεύχει ἀνὴρ ἄλλῳ κακὰ τεύχων,
ἡ δὲ κακὴ βουλὴ τῷ βουλεύσαντι κακίστη.
πάντα ἰδὼν Διὸς ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ πάντα νοήσας
καί νυ τάδ’, αἴ κ’ ἐθέλῃσ’, ἐπιδέρκεται, οὐδέ ἑ λήθει
οἵην δὴ καὶ τήνδε δίκην πόλις ἐντὸς ἐέργει.
νῦν δὴ ἐγὼ μήτ’ αὐτὸς ἐν ἀνθρώποισι δίκαιος
εἴην μήτ’ ἐμὸς υἱός, ἐπεὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον
ἔμμεναι, εἰ μείζω γε δίκην ἀδικώτερος ἕξει.
ἀλλὰ τά γ’ οὔπω ἔολπα τελεῖν Δία μητιόεντα.

 

Although he holds out the promise of a world governed by just and wise rulers in the Theogony, Hesiod laments the failure of those in power to uphold justice and judge those beneath them fairly in the Works and Days. Those in power or favored by power structures, it seems, have always had their own interests in mind.

 

Some Politicians Get Wealthy in Office; A Few Don’t (Aelian 10.17)

“Kritias says that Themistokles the son of Neokles, before he became a politician, had inherited a family fortune of three talents. After he had been involved in public life, fled, and his property was liquidated, he was exposed as having a wealth greater than one hundred talents. Similarly, before serving the public interest, it seems that Kleon had nothing that was free [of debt]. Afterwards he let behind him a household worth fifty talents.”

 

Λέγει Κριτίας Θεμιστοκλέα τὸν Νεοκλέους πρὶν  ἢ ἄρξασθαι πολιτεύεσθαι, τρία τάλαντα ἔχειν τὴν οὐσίαν τὴν πατρῴαν· ἐπεὶ δὲ τῶν κοινῶν προέστη εἶτα ἔφυγε, καὶ ἐδημεύθη αὐτοῦ ἡ οὐσία, κατεφωράθη ἑκατὸν ταλάντων πλείω οὐσίαν ἔχων. ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Κλέωνα πρὸ τοῦ παρελθεῖν ἐπὶ τὰ κοινὰ μηδὲν τῶν οἰκείων ἐλεύθερον εἶναι· μετὰ δὲ πεντήκοντα ταλάντων τὸν οἶκον ἀπέλιπε.

Half is Greater than the Whole: Hesiod on Corruption in the Courtroom

Works and Days, 27-41

“O Perses, keep these things in your mind
and don’t let the evil-hearted strife keep your heart from work
while you lurk about observing conflict in the assembly.
For the season of conflicts and assemblies is a short one
for any man whose life is not abundantly stocked at home
in time, when the earth produces Demeter’s bounty.
After you have made your fill of that, you can reap conflicts and strife
over another’s possessions. It will not be possible for you a second time
to act like this. But let us bring our conflict to a resolution,
with straight judgements, whichever ones are best from Zeus.
For we have already divided up our inheritence, but you
made off with much more as you kowtowed to bribe-taking
kings, the men who long judge this kind of case.
The fools, they do not know how much half is greater than the whole
Nor how much wealth is in mallow and asphodel.”

῏Ω Πέρση, σὺ δὲ ταῦτα τεῷ ἐνικάτθεο θυμῷ,
μηδέ σ’ ῎Ερις κακόχαρτος ἀπ’ ἔργου θυμὸν ἐρύκοι
νείκε’ ὀπιπεύοντ’ ἀγορῆς ἐπακουὸν ἐόντα.
ὤρη γάρ τ’ ὀλίγη πέλεται νεικέων τ’ ἀγορέων τε
ᾧτινι μὴ βίος ἔνδον ἐπηετανὸς κατάκειται
ὡραῖος, τὸν γαῖα φέρει, Δημήτερος ἀκτήν.
τοῦ κε κορεσσάμενος νείκεα καὶ δῆριν ὀφέλλοις
κτήμασ’ ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίοις. σοὶ δ’ οὐκέτι δεύτερον ἔσται
ὧδ’ ἔρδειν• ἀλλ’ αὖθι διακρινώμεθα νεῖκος
ἰθείῃσι δίκῃς, αἵ τ’ ἐκ Διός εἰσιν ἄρισται.
ἤδη μὲν γὰρ κλῆρον ἐδασσάμεθ’, ἄλλα τε πολλὰ
ἁρπάζων ἐφόρεις μέγα κυδαίνων βασιλῆας
δωροφάγους, οἳ τήνδε δίκην ἐθέλουσι δικάσσαι.
νήπιοι, οὐδὲ ἴσασιν ὅσῳ πλέον ἥμισυ παντὸς
οὐδ’ ὅσον ἐν μαλάχῃ τε καὶ ἀσφοδέλῳ μέγ’ ὄνειαρ.

This passage occurs right after Hesiod has described the two different types of Eris. By implication, a man attended by the better strife works hard to put up his own food and does not have time to be sated by strife and conflict over someone else’s possessions (τοῦ κε κορεσσάμενος νείκεα καὶ δῆριν ὀφέλλοις / κτήμασ’ ἐπ’ ἀλλοτρίοις). Only after establishing these principles does Hesiod turn back to the personal conflict: they have already divided their inheritance (ἤδη μὲν γὰρ κλῆρον ἐδασσάμεθ’) but his brother has engaged bribe-taking officials to make a judgment against him to get more.

The Usefulness of History: Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, Praefatio 10-12

“This is what is especially constructive and profitable in the contemplation of history: that you behold evidence of every kind of situation set out as a clear monument to the past. From these examples, you can choose some for you and for your state to imitate; from these you can identify what you should avoid as shameful in design or shameful in outcome. For what remains, either the love of the work I have assumed seduces me or it is true that no state was ever greater; no state was ever more righteous or abundant in good examples; there was no state where luxury and greed arrived on the scene so late; nor any state where respect for restraint and humble property lasted so long. The less there was to have, the less desire there was to have it. Recent riches have induced greed; endless pleasures have increased our need to pursue indulgence and desire approaching all-encompassing destruction.”

Hoc illud est praecipue in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in inlustri posita monmento intueri; inde tibi tuaeque rei publicae quod imitere capias, inde foedum inceptu foedum exitu quod vites. Ceterum aut me amor negotii suscepti fallit, aut nulla unquam res publica nec maior nec sanctior nec bonis exemplis ditior fuit, nec in quam [civitatem] tam serae avaritia luxuriaque immigraverint, nec ubi tantus ac tam diu paupertati ac parsimoniae honos fuerit. Adeo quanto rerum minus, tanto minus cupiditatis erat: nuper divitiae avaritiam et abundantes voluptates desiderium per luxum atque libidinem pereundi perdendique omnia invexere.