Well, He Just Can’t Wait To Be King

Odysseus on his geras, 11.174–176:

“Tell me of the father and son I left behind,
does my geras still belong to them or does some other man
already have it because they think I will not come home?”

εἰπὲ δέ μοι πατρός τε καὶ υἱέος, ὃν κατέλειπον,
ἢ ἔτι πὰρ κείνοισιν ἐμὸν γέρας, ἦέ τις ἤδη
ἀνδρῶν ἄλλος ἔχει, ἐμὲ δ’ οὐκέτι φασὶ νέεσθαι.

From Beekes 2010

geras

Telemachus on Eurymakhos, 15.518–522:

“… Eurymakhos, the shining son of sharp-minded Polyboios,
whom the Ithakans now look upon the way they would a god.
He is by far the best man remaining and the best
to marry my mother and receive my father’s geras.”

Εὐρύμαχον, Πολύβοιο δαΐφρονος ἀγλαὸν υἱόν,
τὸν νῦν ἶσα θεῷ ᾿Ιθακήσιοι εἰσορόωσι·
καὶ γὰρ πολλὸν ἄριστος ἀνὴρ μέμονέν τε μάλιστα
μητέρ’ ἐμὴν γαμέειν καὶ ᾿Οδυσσῆος γέρας ἕξειν.”

Antinoos on kingship, 1.383–387:

“Then Antinoos, the son of Eupeithes, answered him,
“Telemachus, the gods themselves have taught you
to be a big speaker and to address us boldly.
May Zeus never make you king in sea-girt Ithaca
which is your inheritance by birth.”

τὸν δ’ αὖτ’ ᾿Αντίνοος προσέφη, Εὐπείθεος υἱός·
“Τηλέμαχ’, ἦ μάλα δή σε διδάσκουσιν θεοὶ αὐτοὶ
ὑψαγόρην τ’ ἔμεναι καὶ θαρσαλέως ἀγορεύειν.
μὴ σέ γ’ ἐν ἀμφιάλῳ ᾿Ιθάκῃ βασιλῆα Κρονίων
ποιήσειεν, ὅ τοι γενεῇ πατρώϊόν ἐστιν.”

Telemachus on his geras, 1.388–398:

“Antinoos, even if you are annoyed at whatever I say,
I would still pray to obtain this should Zeus grant it.
Do you really think that this is the worst thing among people?
To be king is not at all bad. A king’s house grows rich quickly
and he is more honored himself. But, certainly, there are other kings of the Achaeans, too, many on sea-girt Ithaka, young and old,
who might have this right, since shining Odysseus is dead.
But I will be master of my household and my servants,
the ones shining Odysseus obtained for me.”

“᾿Αντίνο’, εἴ πέρ μοι καὶ ἀγάσσεαι ὅττι κεν εἴπω,
καί κεν τοῦτ’ ἐθέλοιμι Διός γε διδόντος ἀρέσθαι.
ἦ φῂς τοῦτο κάκιστον ἐν ἀνθρώποισι τετύχθαι;
οὐ μὲν γάρ τι κακὸν βασιλευέμεν· αἶψά τέ οἱ δῶ
ἀφνειὸν πέλεται καὶ τιμηέστερος αὐτός.
ἀλλ’ ἦ τοι βασιλῆες ᾿Αχαιῶν εἰσὶ καὶ ἄλλοι
πολλοὶ ἐν ἀμφιάλῳ ᾿Ιθάκῃ, νέοι ἠδὲ παλαιοί,
τῶν κέν τις τόδ’ ἔχῃσιν, ἐπεὶ θάνε δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν οἴκοιο ἄναξ ἔσομ’ ἡμετέροιο
καὶ δμώων, οὕς μοι ληΐσσατο δῖος ᾿Οδυσσεύς.”

Some things to read

Elton Barker. Entering the Agôn: Dissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography and Tragedy. Oxford, 2009.

Colleen Chaston. “Three Models of Authority in the “Odyssey”.” CW 96 (2002) 3-19.

J. Halverson. “The Succession Issue in the Odyssey.” Greece and Rome 33 (1986) 119–28.

Johannes Haubold. Homer’s People: Epic Poetry and Social Formation. Cambridge: 2000.

Daniel Silvermintz. “Unravelling the Shroud for Laertes and Weaving the Fabric of the City: Kingship and Politics in Homer’s Odyssey.” Polis 21 (2004) 26-41.

Reasons for Revolutions: Wanting To Be Equal Vs. Just Wanting More

Aristotle, Politics 1302 a

“We have already happened to discuss the reason why people are predisposed towards a revolution. People who desire equality rise up in strife when they believe that they have less even though they are allegedly equal to those they oppose. But those who want inequality or their own superiority imagine that even though they are unequal that don’t have more but merely an equal amount. (Of course, these feelings may exist both justly and unjustly. People who are in a lesser position engage in strife in order to become equal; those who are merely equal, do it to become superior.”

Τοῦ μὲν οὖν αὐτοὺς ἔχειν πως πρὸς τὴν μεταβολὴν αἰτίαν καθόλου μάλιστα θετέον περὶ ἧς ἤδη τυγχάνομεν εἰρηκότες. οἱ μὲν γὰρ ἰσότητος ἐφιέμενοι στασιάζουσιν ἂν νομίζωσιν ἔλαττον ἔχειν ὄντες ἴσοι τοῖς πλεονεκτοῦσιν, οἱ δὲ τῆς ἀνισότητος καὶ τῆς ὑπεροχῆς ἂν ὑπολαμβάνωσιν ὄντες ἄνισοι μὴ πλέον ἔχειν ἀλλ᾿ ἴσον ἢ ἔλαττον (τούτων δ᾿ ἔστι2 μὲν ὀρέγεσθαι δικαίως, ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἀδίκως)· ἐλάττους 30τε γὰρ ὄντες ὅπως ἴσοι ὦσι στασιάζουσι, καὶ ἴσοι ὄντες ὅπως μείζους. πῶς μὲν οὖν ἔχοντες στασιάζουσιν, εἴρηται.

 

Plutarch, Solon 94

“The city was following the laws, but they were already expecting a revolution and longing for a different kind of government, not because they were hoping for equality, but because they would have more in a revolution and they would rule over their opposition in every way.”

ὥστε χρῆσθαι μὲν ἔτι τοῖς νόμοις τὴν πόλιν, ἤδη δὲ πράγματα νεώτερα προσδοκᾶν καὶ ποθεῖν ἅπαντας ἑτέραν κατάστασιν, οὐκ ἴσον ἐλπίζοντας, ἀλλὰ πλέον ἕξειν ἐν τῇ μεταβολῇ καὶ κρατήσειν παντάπασι τῶν διαφερομένων.

Cicero, Always Chirping about the Ides of March

Previously we have posted about Cicero’s comments about the Ides of March to Brutus. Here is a letter from Brutus complaining about Cicero.

Letters: Brutus to Atticus, I.17

“You write to me that Cicero is amazed that I say nothing about his deeds. Since you are hassling me, I will write you what I think thanks to your coaxing.

I know that Cicero has done everything with the best intention. What could be more proved to me than his love for the republic? But certain things seem to me, what can I say, that the most prudent man has acted as if inexperienced or ambitiously, this man who was not reluctant to take on Antony as an enemy when he was strongest?

I don’t know what to write to you except a single thing: the boy’s desire and weakness have been increased rather than repressed by Cicero and that he grinds on so far in his indulgence that he does not refrain from invectives that rebound in two ways. For he too has killed many and he must admit that he is an assassin before what he objects to Casca—in which case he acts the part of Bestia to Casca—

Or because we are not tossing about every hour the Ides of March the way he always has the Nones of December in his mouth, will Cicero find fault in the most noble deed from a better vantage point than Bestia and Clodius were accustomed to insult his consulship?

Our toga-clad friend Cicero brags that he has stood up to Antony’s war. How does it profit me if the cost of Antony defeated is the resumption of Antony’s place?  Or if our avenger of this evil has turned out to be the author of another—an evil which has a foundation and deeper roots, even if we concede <whether it is true or not> those things which he does come from the fact that he either fears tyranny or Antony as a tyrant?

 But I don’t have gratitude for anyone who does not protest the situation itself provided only that he serves one who is not raging at him. Triumphs, stipends, encouragement with every kind of degree so that it does not shame him to desire the fortune of the man whose name he has taken—is that a mark of a Consular man, of a Cicero?

1Scribis mihi mirari Ciceronem quod nihil significem umquam de suis actis; quoniam me flagitas, coactu tuo scribam quae sentio.

Omnia fecisse Ciceronem optimo animo scio. quid enim mihi exploratius esse potest quam illius animus in rem publicam? sed quaedam mihi videtur—quid dicam? imperite vir omnium prudentissimus an ambitiose fecisse, qui valentissimum Antonium suscipere pro re publica non dubitarit inimicum? nescio quid scribam tibi nisi unum: pueri et cupiditatem et licentiam potius esse irritatam quam repressam a Cicerone, tantumque eum tribuere huic indulgentiae ut se maledictis non abstineat iis quidem quae in ipsum dupliciter recidunt, quod et pluris occidit uno seque prius oportet fateatur sicarium quam obiciat Cascae quod obicit et imitetur in Casca Bestiam. an quia non omnibus horis iactamus Idus Martias similiter atque ille Nonas Decembris suas in ore habet, eo meliore condicione Cicero pulcherrimum factum vituperabit quam Bestia et Clodius reprehendere illius consulatum soliti sunt?

Sustinuisse mihi gloriatur bellum Antoni togatus Cicero noster. quid hoc mihi prodest, si merces Antoni oppressi poscitur in Antoni locum successio et si vindex illius mali auctor exstitit alterius fundamentum et radices habituri altiores, si patiamur, ut iam <dubium sit utrum>ista quae facit dominationem an dominum [an] Antonium timentis sint? ego autem gratiam non habeo si quis, dum ne irato serviat, rem ipsam non deprecatur. immo triumphus et stipendium et omnibus decretis hortatio ne eius pudeat concupiscere fortunam cuius nomen susceperit, consularis aut Ciceronis est?

Image result for Ancient Roman Cicero

 

Worse Through Words: National Emergencies and War

Cicero, Philippic 8.2

“But what is the substance of the controversy? Some people were thinking that the title “war” should not be given in the statement; they were preferring to use the term “national emergency” because they are ignorant not only of the matter but of words too. For a war is possible without a “national emergency”, but a “national emergency”, however, cannot exist without a war. What thing could be a “national emergency” but a trouble so great that a serious fear arises?

This is where the terminology itself for “national emergency” [tumultus] comes from. For our ancestors used to say that there was a “national emergency” in Italy  which was domestic or a “national emergency” in Gaul, which is on our border, but they used to call nothing else that. And that a “national emergency” is, moreover, more serious than a war can be understood from the fact that exemptions from service are valid in war but they are not in “national emergency”.

Therefore, as I was just saying, a war can exist without a “national emergency” but a “national emergency” cannot exist without a war. And since there can be no middle-ground between war and peace, it is true that a “national emergency”, if it is not part of a war, must be part of a peace. And what could be a crazier to say or imagine? But I have gone on too long about a word. Let’s look at the matter itself, Senators, which I do think often can become worse through language.”

At in quo fuit controversia? Belli nomen ponendum quidam in sententia non putabant: tumultum appellare malebant, ignari non modo rerum sed etiam verborum: potest enim esse bellum ut tumultus non sit, tumultus autem esse sine bello non potest. Quid est enim aliud tumultus nisi perturbatio tanta ut maior timor oriatur? Unde etiam nomen ductum est tumultus. Itaque maiores nostri tumultum Italicum quod erat domesticus, tumultum Gallicum quod erat Italiae finitimus, praeterea nullum nominabant. Gravius autem tumultum esse quam bellum hinc intellegi potest quod bello [Italico] vacationes valent, tumultu non valent. Ita fit, quem ad modum dixi, ut bellum sine tumultu possit, tumultus sine bello esse non possit.4Etenim cum inter bellum et pacem medium nihil sit, necesse est tumultum, si belli non sit, pacis esse: quo quid absurdius dici aut existimari potest? Sed nimis multa de verbo. Rem potius videamus, patres conscripti, quam quidem intellego verbo fieri interdum deteriorem solere.

Frank Schoonover. The scene depicts the bravery of Alvin C. York in 1918.

The Difference Between Power and Strength

Plato, Protagoras 350e-351b

“I do not here or anywhere else claim that the powerful are strong, but instead that the strong are powerful. For I believe that power and strength are not the same thing. One of them—power—comes from knowledge, or from madness, or anger; strength, however, comes from nature and the nourishing of the body.

So, for the first quality, daring and bravery are not the same thing. It can be the case that the brave are in fact daring, but the daring are not all brave. For boldness also comes to men from some type of skill or rage or madness, just like power, whereas bravery comes from nature and the nurturing of the mind.”

ἐγὼ δὲ οὐδαμοῦ οὐδ᾿ ἐνταῦθα ὁμολογῶ τοὺς δυνατοὺς ἰσχυροὺς εἶναι, τοὺς μέντοι ἰσχυροὺς δυνατούς· οὐ γὰρ ταὐτὸν εἶναι δύναμίν τε καὶ ἰσχύν, ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν καὶ ἀπὸ ἐπιστήμης γίγνεσθαι, τὴν δύναμιν, καὶ ἀπὸ μανίας γε καὶ θυμοῦ, ἰσχὺν δὲ ἀπὸ φύσεως καὶ εὐτροφίας τῶν σωμάτων. οὕτω δὲ κἀκεῖ οὐ ταὐτὸν εἶναι θάρσος τε καὶ ἀνδρείαν· ὥστε συμβαίνει τοὺς μὲν ἀνδρείους θαρραλέους εἶναι, μὴ μέντοι τούς γε θαρραλέους ἀνδρείους πάντας· θάρσος μὲν γὰρ καὶ ἀπὸ τέχνης γίγνεται ἀνθρώποις καὶ ἀπὸ θυμοῦ γε καὶ ἀπὸ μανίας, ὥσπερ ἡ δύναμις, ἀνδρεία δὲ ἀπὸ φύσεως καὶ εὐτροφίας τῶν ψυχῶν γίγνεται.

Painting, Oil on Canvas; by McClelland Barclay; 1942;

Gambling With Roman Emperors

Dio Cassius, Roman Histories 59.22 [ AD 39]

“Once, when [Caligula] was playing dice and had learned that he didn’t have any money, he demanded the tax roles of the Gauls and then ordered the wealthiest of them to be killed. He returned to his said that “while you have been competing over a few mere handfuls, I have come into one hundred and fifty million.” And those men died without any plan it all.

A certain one of them, Julius Sacerdos, who was well-to-do but certainly not one of the super-rich to the each that he should have been attached for it, was killed because he had a similar name. Everything happened with as little concern as this.

I don’t need to mention any of the many others who died by name, but I will talk about those for whom history demands some memory. First, he had Lentulus Gaetulicus killed—he was well-reputed in every way and had been an overseer of Germany for ten years all because he was dear to his soldiers. He also killed Lepidus, his lover and beloved, Drusilla’s husband, a man who had joined Gaius himself in having sex with those other sisters, Argippina and Julia. He had even stood for office five years soon than the law allowed and he had kept announcing that he would leave him as the successor of the empire. He sent the soldiers money for that man, as if he had overcome some enemy, and also sent three daggers to Mars the Avenger in Rome.”

κυβεύων δέ ποτε, καὶ μαθὼν ὅτι οὐκ εἴη οἱ ἀργύριον, ᾔτησέ τε τὰς τῶν Γαλατῶν ἀπογραφάς, καὶ ἐξ αὐτῶν τοὺς πλουσιωτάτους θανατωθῆναι κελεύσας, ἐπανῆλθέ τε πρὸς τοὺς συγκυβευτὰς καὶ ἔφη ὅτι “ὑμεῖς περὶ ὀλίγων δραχμῶν ἀγωνίζεσθε, ἐγὼ δὲ ἐς μυρίας καὶ πεντακισχιλίας μυριάδας ἤθροισα.” καὶ οὗτοι μὲν ἐν οὐδενὶ λόγῳ ἀπώλοντο· ἀμέλει εἷς τις αὐτῶν Ἰούλιος Σακερδὼς ἄλλως μὲν εὖ χρημάτων ἥκων, οὐ μέντοι καὶ ὑπερπλουτῶν ὥστε καὶ ἐπιβουλευθῆναι δι᾿ αὐτά, ὅμως ἐξ ἐπωνυμίας ἀπεσφάγη· οὕτως ἀκρίτως πάντα ἐγίγνετο. τῶν δὲ ἄλλων τοὺς μὲν πολλοὺς οὐδὲν δέομαι ὀνομαστὶ καταλέγειν, ὧν δὲ δὴ ἡ ἱστορία τὴν μνήμην ἀπαιτεῖ, φράσω. τοῦτο μὲν γὰρ Γαιτούλικον Λέντουλον, τά τε ἄλλα εὐδόκιμον ὄντα καὶ τῆς Γερμανίας δέκα ἔτεσιν ἄρξαντα, ἀπέκτεινεν, ὅτι τοῖς στρατιώταις ᾠκείωτο· τοῦτο δὲ τὸν Λέπιδον ἐκεῖνον τὸν ἐραστὴν τὸν ἐρώμενον, τὸν τῆς Δρουσίλλης ἄνδρα, τὸν καὶ ταῖς ἄλλαις αὐτοῦ ἀδελφαῖς τῇ τε Ἀγριππίνῃ καὶ τῇ Ἰουλίᾳ μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ ἐκείνου συνόντα, ᾧ πέντε ἔτεσι θᾶσσον τὰς ἀρχὰς παρὰ τοὺς νόμους αἰτῆσαι ἐπέτρεψεν, ὃν καὶ διάδοχον τῆς ἡγεμονίας καταλείψειν ἐπηγγέλλετο, κατεφόνευσε. καὶ τοῖς τε στρατιώταις ἀργύριον ἐπὶ τούτῳ, καθάπερ πολεμίων τινῶν κεκρατηκώς, ἔδωκε, καὶ ξιφίδια τρία τῷ Ἄρει τῷ Τιμωρῷ ἐς τὴν Ῥώμην ἔπεμψε.

NAMABG-Caligula 1.JPG
Portrait de l’empereur Gaius Julius Augustus Germanicus

“Do Not Acquit this Man”

Publilius Syrus, 296

“Acquitting the guilty convicts the judge.”

Iudex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.

Dinarchus, Against Aristogiton 107; 105

“Will you really acquit this damned man who never did you anything good from his first public act but instead has done every evil he could?”

τὸν δὲ κατάρατον τοῦτον, ὃς ἀγαθὸν μὲν ὑμᾶς οὐδεπώποτε πεποίηκεν ἐξ οὗ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν προσελήλυθε, κακὸν δ᾿ ὅ τι δυνατός ἐστιν, ἀφήσετε;

“You have to believe, by god, that he will be no better in the future after getting this judgment from you and will never stop taking bribes against you if you acquit him.”

οὐ γὰρ δὴ μὰ τὸν Ἡρακλέα βελτίω γενήσεσθαι αὐτὸν προσδοκᾶτε συγγνώμης νυνὶ τυγχάνοντα παρ᾿ ὑμῶν, οὐδὲ τὸ λοιπὸν ἀφέξεσθαι τοῦ λαμβάνειν χρήματα καθ᾿ ὑμῶν, ἐὰν νῦν ἀφῆτε αὐτόν.

Seneca, Moral Epistles 97.3

“The crime was less offensive than the acquittal.”

Minus crimine quam absolutione peccatum est

Demosthenes, On the False Legation

“For your reputation, for your religion, for your safety, for every advantage you have, do not acquit this man—no, exact vengeance upon him to make him an example to everyone, to our citizens and to the rest of the world.”

οὔτε γὰρ πρὸς δόξαν οὔτε πρὸς εὐσέβειαν οὔτε πρὸς ἀσφάλειαν οὔτε πρὸς ἄλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ὑμῖν συμφέρει τοῦτον ἀφεῖναι, ἀλλὰ τιμωρησαμένους παράδειγμα ποιῆσαι πᾶσι, καὶ τοῖς πολίταις καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἕλλησιν.

Quintilian, 7.4

“This is a domestic problem, in which sometimes it is enough to claim that there was only one crime, or it was just a mistake, or less severe than is claim for an acquittal”

Est enim domestica disceptatio, in qua et semel peccasse et per errorem et levius quam obiciatur absolutioni nonnumquam sufficit.

Dinarchus, Against Demosthenes 29

“Do not acquit this man, citizens, do not acquit and leave unpunished someone who has signed off on the misfortunes of this state and the world, a man who has been caught in corruption against the state….”

μὴ ἀφῆτε, ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, μὴ ἀφῆτε τὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς τῆς πόλεως καὶ τῶν ἄλλων Ἑλλήνων ἀτυχήμασιν ἐπιγεγραμμένον ἀτιμώρητον, εἰλημμένον ἐπ᾿ αὐτοφώρῳ δῶρα ἔχοντα κατὰ τῆς πόλεως

Lysias, Against Nicomachus 30

“Today you need to change your minds about what you have done. You need to refuse to keep being abused by these people. Don’t reproach those who have done wrong in private! Do not acquit the guilty when it is in your power to punish them.”

νῦν τοίνυν ὑμῖν μεταμελησάτω τῶν πεπραγμένων, καὶ μὴ ὑπὸ τούτων ἀεὶ κακῶς πάσχοντες ἀνέχεσθε, μηδὲ ἰδίᾳ μὲν ὀνειδίζετε τοῖς ἀδικοῦσιν, ἐπειδὰν δ᾿ ἐξῇ δίκην παρ᾿ αὐτῶν λαμβάνειν, ἀποψηφίζεσθε.

Andocides, Against Alcibiades 25

“I will show from the very facts he uses that he is more fit for death than acquittal. I will explain it to you.”

ἐξ αὐτῶν δὲ τούτων ἐπιδείξω αὐτὸν ἐπιτηδειότερον τεθνάναι μᾶλλον ἢ σῴζεσθαι. διηγήσομαι δ᾿ ὑμῖν.

Lysias, Against the Corn-Dealers 17

“You need to understand that it is impossible for you to acquit. If you ignore the charge when they admit that they are conspiring against the traders, then you will seem to make a judgment against the importers. If they were making up any other kind of defense, no one would criticize a vote to acquit since you can choose to believe whatever side you want. But, as things are now, you can’t imagine you are doing something amazing if you acquit unpunished those who admit that they broke the law!”

Ἐνθυμεῖσθαι δὲ χρὴ ὅτι ἀδύνατον ὑμῖν ἐστιν ἀποψηφίσασθαι. εἰ γὰρ ἀπογνώσεσθε ὁμολογούντων αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐμπόρους συνίστασθαι, δόξεθ᾿ ὑμεῖς ἐπιβουλεύειν τοῖς εἰσπλέουσιν. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἄλλην τινὰ ἀπολογίαν ἐποιοῦντο, οὐδεὶς ἂν εἶχε τοῖς ἀποψηφισαμένοις ἐπιτιμᾶν· ἐφ᾿ ὑμῖν γὰρ ὁποτέροις βούλεσθε πιστεύειν· νῦν δὲ πῶς οὐ δεινὰ ἂν δόξαιτε ποιεῖν, εἰ τοὺς ὁμολογοῦντας παρανομεῖν ἀζημίους ἀφήσετε;

acquit

Writing Down the Law

Plato, Laws 890E

 “Hey now, friend. If we put up with ourselves when we were talking about drinking and music, shouldn’t we dedicate the same energy when talking about the gods and these kinds of topics?

Really, this kind of talk is a big help to good law-making, I think, since proclamation about the law remained final when put down in words, as if they are presented for testing for all time so that even if they are hard to hear at the beginning no one needs to worry about it since it is permitted even for the slowest person to go back and read them often, even if they are long, as long as they are useful. That’s why I think that anyone who has any reason or is a bit righteous won’t hesitate to give his strength to such arguments.”

Λ. Τί δαί, ὦ ξένε; περὶ μέθης μὲν καὶ μουσικῆς οὕτω μακρὰ λέγοντας ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς περιεμείναμεν, περὶ θεῶν δὲ καὶ τῶν τοιούτων οὐχ ὑπομενοῦμεν; καὶ μὴν καὶ νομοθεσίᾳ γέ ἐστί που τῇ μετὰ φρονήσεως μεγίστη βοήθεια, διότι τὰ περὶ νόμους προστάγματα ἐν γράμμασι τεθέντα, ὡς δώσοντα εἰς πάντα χρόνον ἔλεγχον, πάντως ἠρεμεῖ, ὥστε οὔτ᾿ εἰ χαλεπὰ κατ᾿ ἀρχὰς ἀκούειν ἐστὶ φοβητέον, ἅ γ᾿ ἔσται καὶ τῷ δυσμαθεῖ πολλάκις ἐπανιόντι σκοπεῖν, οὔτε εἰ μακρά, ὠφέλιμα δέ· διὰ ταῦτα λόγον οὐδαμῇ ἔχει οὐδὲ ὅσιον ἔμοιγε εἶναι φαίνεται τὸ μὴ οὐ βοηθεῖν τούτοις τοῖς λόγοις πάντα ἄνδρα κατὰ δύναμιν.

Genius and the Tyrant

Plato, The Statesman 301c-d

“But when someone in charge acts against both laws and customs, and claims like some genius that whatever is best should be done even against the written law and this desire and ignorance is driven by imitation, shouldn’t that kind of leader be called a Tyrant?

Yup.

So we can say that a tyrant comes to power–and a king, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or democracy, because people are not happy with one perfect monarch and do not believe that there even could be someone worthy of that kind of power, that they would be willing and capable of ruling with virtue and knowledge, distributing what is righteous and just to everyone correctly but instead suspecting them to insult and kill and harm whomever of us they want all the time.

Then, we agree that if such a person did exist, we would be in awe of them and invite them to live with us and run our affairs blissfully in a solely correct form of government.”

ΞΕ. Τί δ᾿, ὅταν μήτε κατὰ νόμους μήτε κατὰ ἔθη πράττῃ τις εἷς ἄρχων, προσποιῆται δὲ ὥσπερ ὁ ἐπιστήμων ὡς ἄρα παρὰ τὰ γεγραμμένα τό γε βέλτιστον ποιητέον, ᾖ δέ τις ἐπιθυμία καὶ ἄγνοια τούτου τοῦ μιμήματος ἡγουμένη, μῶν οὐ τότε τὸν τοιοῦτον ἕκαστον τύραννον κλητέον;

ΣΩ. Τί μήν;

ΞΕ. Οὕτω δὴ τύραννός τε γέγονε, φαμέν, καὶ βασιλεὺς καὶ ὀλιγαρχία καὶ ἀριστοκρατία καὶ δημοκρατία, δυσχερανάντων τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὸν ἕνα ἐκεῖνον μόναρχον, καὶ ἀπιστησάντων μηδένα τῆς τοιαύτης ἀρχῆς ἄξιον ἂν γενέσθαι ποτέ, ὥστε ἐθέλειν καὶ δυνατὸν εἶναι μετὰ ἀρετῆς καὶ ἐπιστήμης ἄρχοντα τὰ δίκαια καὶ ὅσια διανέμειν ὀρθῶς πᾶσι, λωβᾶσθαι δὲ καὶ ἀποκτιννύναι καὶ κακοῦν ὃν ἂν βουληθῇ ἑκάστοτε ἡμῶν· ἐπεὶ γενόμενόν γ᾿ ἂν οἷον λέγομεν ἀγαπᾶσθαί τε ἂν καὶ οἰκεῖν διακυβερνῶντα εὐδαιμόνως ὀρθὴν ἀκριβῶς μόνον πολιτείαν

Paul Klee, “The Ghost of Genius,” 1922

Solon Says: Sue Bad Leaders of State

Aeschines, Against Timarchus

“[Solon] believed that someone who managed their own personal affairs badly would manage matters of state similarly. It did not seem likely to the lawgiver that that the same person who was a scoundrel in private would be a useful citizen in public. He also did not think right that a person should come to speak in public before being prepared for it, not just for words but in life.

And he also thought that advice from a good and noble person, however poorly and simply it was framed, is beneficial to those who hear it, while the words of a person who has no shame, who has made a mockery of his own body and who has shamefully managed his inheritance—well, these words he believed would never help the people who heard them, not even if they were delivered well.

This is why he keeps these kinds of people from the platform, why he forbids them from addressing the public. If someone speaks, then, not merely against these precepts but also for the sack of bribery and criminality, and if the state can no longer endure such a person, he adds “Let any citizens who desires it, and who is able, sue him…”

τὸν γὰρ τὴν ἰδίαν οἰκίαν κακῶς οἰκήσαντα, καὶ τὰ κοινὰ τῆς πόλεως παραπλησίως ἡγήσατο διαθήσειν, καὶ οὐκ ἐδόκει οἷόν τ᾿ εἶναι τῷ νομοθέτῃ τὸν αὐτὸν ἄνθρωπον ἰδίᾳ μὲν εἶναι πονηρόν, δημοσίᾳ δὲ χρηστόν, οὐδ᾿ ᾤετο δεῖν τὸν ῥήτορα ἥκειν ἐπὶ τὸ βῆμα τῶν λόγων ἐπιμεληθέντα πρότερον, ἀλλ᾿ οὐ τοῦ βίου. καὶ παρὰ μὲν ἀνδρὸς καλοῦ καὶ ἀγαθοῦ, κἂν πάνυ κακῶς καὶ ἁπλῶς ῥηθῇ, χρήσιμα τὰ λεγόμενα ἡγήσατο εἶναι τοῖς ἀκούουσι· παρὰ δὲ ἀνθρώπου βδελυροῦ, καὶ καταγελάστως μὲν κεχρημένου τῷ ἑαυτοῦ σώματι, αἰσχρῶς δὲ τὴν πατρῴαν οὐσίαν κατεδηδοκότος, οὐδ᾿ ἂν εὖ πάνυ λεχθῇ συνοίσειν ἡγήσατο τοῖς ἀκούουσι. τούτους οὖν ἐξείργει ἀπὸ τοῦ βήματος, τούτους ἀπαγορεύει μὴ δημηγορεῖν. ἐὰν δέ τις παρὰ ταῦτα μὴ μόνον λέγῃ, ἀλλὰ καὶ συκοφαντῇ καὶ ἀσελγαίνῃ, καὶ μηκέτι τὸν τοιοῦτον ἄνθρωπον δύνηται φέρειν ἡ πόλις, “Δοκιμασίαν μέν,” φησίν, “ἐπαγγειλάτω Ἀθηναίων ὁ βουλόμενος, οἷς ἔξεστιν,” ὑμᾶς δ᾿ ἤδη κελεύει

File:Portrait bust of Sophocles on Herm (known as Solon)-Uffizi.jpg
Bust Labeled “Solon” but Probably actually Sophocles. Sue Me.