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Plutarch's Lives 

of Themistocles • Pericles • Aristides 

Alcibiades and Coriolanus 

Demosthenes and Cicero 

Caesar and Antony 




With Introductions and No/« 
\olume 12 

P. F. Collier & Son Corporation 


Copyright, 1909 
By P. F. Collier & Son 




Themistocles 5 

Pericles 35 

Aristides 78 

Alcibiades 106 

coriolanus 147 

Comparison of Alcibiades with Coriolanus 186 

Demosthenes 191 

Cicero 218 

Comparison of Demosthenes and Cicero 260 

Cesar 264 

Antony 322 


Plutarch, the great biographer of antiquity, had not the fortune him- 
self to find a biographer. For the facts of his life we are dependent 
wholly upon the fragmentary information that he scattered casually 
throughout his writings. From these we learn that he was born in the 
small Boeotian town of Chaeroneia in Greece, between 46 and 51 A. D., 
of a family of good standing and long residence there; that he married 
a certain Timoxena, to whom he wrote a tender letter of consolation on 
the death of their daughter; and that he had four sons, to two of whom 
he dedicated one of his philosophical treatises. He began the study of 
philosophy at Athens, travelled to Alexandria and in various parts of 
Italy, and sojourned for a considerable period in Rome; but he seems to 
have continued to regard Chaeroneia as his home, and here he did a 
large part of his writing and took his share in public service. As a lecturer 
and teacher of philosophy he achieved considerable repute, and the nature 
of his doctrine may be gathered from the treatises in which the substance 
of many of the lectures has been preserved. His death is placed between 
120 and 130 A. D. 

The ruling passion of Plutarch's life was ethical. His miscellaneous 
writings are known collectively as his "Morals," and though they deal 
with a great variety of themes, the prevailing interest is so strongly 
centred on conduct that the tide is not unsuitable. Many of the subjects 
of his biographies, even, are treated as models of virtue or warnings 
against vice, and as a rule he was more concerned about portraying 
character than about intricacies of political history. 

The "Parallel Lives of Famous Greeks and Romans" have their name 
from the author's plan of setting side by side a Greek statesman, soldier, 
or orator, and a Roman of eminence in the same field, in order to gain 
illumination from the comparison; and in this way he covered almost 
the whole history of Greece and Rome from legendary times to his own 
day. He collected his facts with care and at the expense of great labor, 
and for many periods he is the chief, sometimes the only, source of 
information now accessible. In general, the Greek lives are more learned 
than the Roman, partly, no doubt, because of the greater difficulty of 
getting information as to Roman affairs when he was writing in Greece, 
partly because, as he tells us, his mastery of Latin was incomplete. 

The biographical as distinct from the historical purpose was entirely 
deliberate. "It must be borne in mind," he says in his life of Alexander 



the Great, "that my design is not to write histories but lives. And the 
most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest dis- 
coveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, 
an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclina- 
tions, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the 
bloodiest battles whatsoever. Therefore, as portrait-painters are more 
exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the character is seen, 
than in the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to give my 
more particular attention to the marks and indications of the souls of 
men, and while I endeavor by these to portray their lives, may be free 
to leave more weighty matters and great battles to be treated of by 
others." Most of the critical comment passed upon the "Lives" is but an 
elaboration of these statements of their author. The proportions and the 
significance of political events were often hidden from him, but in his 
portraiture of men he has laid the world under a perpetual debt. 

The influence of these Lives it is almost impossible to exaggerate. All 
classes of people have taken delight in them, from kings to shepherds, 
and it is safe to say that the influence has always been wholesome. Not 
only do they supply a mass of information, vividly and picturesquely 
presented, regarding the leading personalities of some of the greatest 
periods of the world's history, but they offer in concrete and inspiring 
form the ideals of human character in the antique world incarnated in a 
series of great heroic figures. Of few books can it be said with such 
assurance that they will remain a permanent possession of the race. 

The present translation is that made originally by a group of scholars 
in the end of the seventeenth century and published with a life of 
Plutarch by Dryden. This, usually called the Dryden translation, was 
revised in 1859 by Arthur Hugh Clough, who corrected it by the stand- 
ards of modern scholarship, so that it took the place which it still 
occupies as the best version in English for the purposes of the general 


THE birth of Themistocles was somewhat too obscure to 
do him honor. His father, Neocles, was not of the distin- 
guished people of Athens, but of the township of Phrearrhi, 
and of the tribe Leontis; and by his mother's side, as it is reported, 
he was base-born. 

I am not of the noble Grecian race, 
I'm poor Abrotonon, and born in Thrace; 
Let the Greek women scorn me, if they please, 
I was the mother of Themistocles. 

Yet Phanias writes that the mother of Themistocles was not of 
Thrace, but of Caria, and that her name was not Abrotonon, but 
Euterpe; and Neanthes adds farther that she was of Halicarnassus 
in Caria. And, as illegitimate children, including those that were 
of the half-blood or had but one parent an Athenian, had to attend 
at the Cynosarges (a wrestling-place outside the gates, dedicated 
to Hercules, who was also of half-blood amongst the gods, having 
had a mortal woman for his mother), Themistocles persuaded sev- 
eral of the young men of high birth to accompany him to anoint 
and exercise themselves together at Cynosarges; an ingenious device 
for destroying the distinction between the noble and the base-born, 
and between those of the whole and those of the half-blood of 
Athens. However, it is certain that he was related to the house of 
the Lycomedac; for Simonides records, that he rebuilt the chapel 
of Phlya, belonging to that family, and beautified it with pictures 
and other ornaments, after it had been burnt by the Persians. 

It is confessed by all that from his youth he was of a vehement 
and impetuous nature, of a quick apprehension, and a strong and 
aspiring bent for action and great affairs. The holidays and inter- 
vals in his studies he did not spend in play or idleness, as other 
children, but would be always inventing or arranging some oration 



or declamation to himself, the subject of which was generally the 
excusing or accusing his companions, so that his master would often 
say to him, "You, my boy, will be nothing small, but great one 
way or other, for good or else for bad." He received reluctantly and 
carelessly instructions given him to improve his manners and be- 
havior, or to teach him any pleasing or graceful accomplishment, 
but whatever was said to improve him in sagacity, or in manage- 
ment of affairs, he would give attention to, beyond one of his years, 
from confidence in his natural capacities for such things. And thus 
afterwards, when in company where people engaged themselves in 
what are commonly thought the liberal and elegant amusements, he 
was obliged to defend himself against the observations of those who 
considered themselves highly accomplished, by the somewhat arro- 
gant retort, that he certainly could not make use of any stringed 
instrument, could only, were a small and obscure city put into his 
hands, make it great and glorious. Notwithstanding this, Stesim- 
brotus says that Themistocles was a hearer of Anaxagoras, and that 
he studied natural philosophy under Melissus, contrary to chronol- 
ogy; for Melissus commanded the Samians in their siege by Peri- 
cles, who was much Themistocles's junior; and with Pericles, also, 
Anaxagoras was intimate. They, therefore, might rather be credited, 
who report, that Themistocles was an admirer of Mnesiphilus the 
Phrearrhian, who was neither rhetorician nor natural philosopher, 
but a professor of that which was then called wisdom, consisting 
in a sort of political shrewdness and practical sagacity, which had 
begun and continued, almost like a sect of philosophy, from Solon; 
but those who came afterwards, and mixed it with pleadings and 
legal artifices, and transformed the practical part of it into a mere 
art of speaking and an exercise of words, were generally called 
sophists. Themistocles resorted to Mnesiphilus when he had already 
embarked in politics. 

In the first essays of his youth he was not regular nor happily 
balanced; he allowed himself to follow mere natural character, 
which, without the control of reason and instruction, is apt to 
hurry, upon either side, into sudden and violent courses, and very 
often to break away and determine upon the worst; as he afterwards 
owned himself, saying, that the wildest colts make the best horses, 


if they only get properly trained and broken in. But those who 
upon this fasten stories of their own invention, as of his being dis- 
owned by his father, and that his mother died for grief of her son's 
ill fame, certainly calumniate him; and there are others who relate, 
on the contrary, how that to deter him from public business, and 
to let him see how the vulgar behave themselves towards their lead- 
ers when they have at last no farther use of them, his father showed 
him the old galleys as they lay forsaken and cast about upon the 

Yet it is evident that his mind was early imbued with the keenest 
interest in public affairs, and the most passionate ambition for dis- 
tinction. Eager from the first to obtain the highest place, he unhesi- 
tatingly accepted the hatred of the most powerful and influential 
leaders in the city, but more especially of Aristides, the son of Lysi- 
machus, who always opposed him. And yet all this great enmity 
between them arose, it appears, from a very boyish occasion, both 
being attached to the beautiful Stesilaus of Ceos, as Ariston the 
philosopher tells us; ever after which, they took opposite sides, and 
were rivals in politics. Not but that the incompatibility of their lives 
and manners may seem to have increased the difference, for Aristides 
was of a mild nature, and of a nobler sort of character, and, in 
public matters, acting always with a view, not to glory or popu- 
larity, but to the best interests of the state consistendy with safety 
and honesty, he was often forced to oppose Themistocles, and inter- 
fere against the increase of his influence, seeing him stirring up the 
people to all kinds of enterprises, and introducing various innova- 
tions. For it is said that Themistocles was so transported with the 
thoughts of glory, and so inflamed with the passion for great actions, 
that, though he was still young when the battle of Marathon was 
fought against the Persians, upon the skilful conduct of the general, 
Miltiades, being everywhere talked about, he was observed to be 
thoughtful, and reserved, alone by himself; he passed the nights 
without sleep, and avoided all his usual places of recreation, and to 
those who wondered at the change, and inquired the reason of it, 
he gave the answer, that "the trophy of Miltiades would not let him 
sleep." And when others were of opinion that the battle of Mara- 
thon would be an end to the war, Themistocles thought that it was 

8 plutarch's lives 

but the beginning of far greater conflicts, and for these, to the bene- 
fit of all Greece, he kept himself in continual readiness, and his city 
also in proper training, foreseeing from far before what would 

And, first of all, the Athenians being accustomed to divide 
amongst themselves the revenue proceeding from the silver mines 
at Laurium, he was the only man that durst propose to the people 
that this distribution should cease, and that with the money ships 
should be built to make war against the ^Eginetans, who were the 
most flourishing people in all Greece, and by the number of their 
ships held the sovereignty of the sea; and Themistocles thus was 
more easily able to persuade them, avoiding all mention of danger 
from Darius or the Persians who were at a great distance, and their 
coming very uncertain, and at that time not much to be feared; but, 
by a seasonable employment of the emulation and anger felt by the 
Athenians against the jEginetans, he induced them to preparation. 
So that with this money an hundred ships were built, with which 
they afterwards fought against Xerxes. And, henceforward, little 
by little, turning and drawing the city down towards the sea, in 
the belief, that, whereas by land they were not a fit match for their 
next neighbors, with their ships they might be able to repel the Per- 
sians and command Greece, thus, as Plato says, from steady soldiers 
he turned them into mariners and seamen tossed about the sea, and 
gave occasion for the reproach against him, that he took away from 
the Athenians the spear and the shield, and bound them to the bench 
and the oar. These measures he carried in the assembly, against 
the opposition, as Stesimbrotus relates, of Miltiades; and whether 
or no he hereby injured the purity and true balance of government, 
may be a question for philosophers, but that the deliverance of 
Greece came at that time from the sea, and that these galleys re- 
stored Athens again after it was destroyed, were others wanting, 
Xerxes himself would be sufficient evidence, who, though his land- 
forces were still entire, after his defeat at sea, fled away, and thought 
himself no longer able to encounter the Greeks; and, as it seems to 
me, left Mardonius behind him, not out of any hopes he could have 
to bring them into subjection, but to hinder them from pursuing 


Themistocles is said to have been eager in the acquisition of riches, 
according to some, that he might be the more liberal; for loving to 
sacrifice often, and to be splendid in his entertainment of strangers, 
he required a plentiful revenue; yet he is accused by others of 
having been parsimonious and sordid to that degree that he would 
sell provisions which were sent to him as a present. He desired 
Diphilides, who was a breeder of horses, to give him a colt, and 
when he refused it, threatened that in a short time he would turn 
his house into a wooden 1 horse, intimating that he would stir up 
dispute and litigation between him and some of his relations. 

He went beyond all men in the passion for distinction. When 
he was still young and unknown in the world, he entreated Epicles 
of Hermione, who had a good hand at the lute and was much sought 
after by the Athenians, to come and practise at home with him, being 
ambitious of having people inquire after his house and frequent his 
company. When he came to the Olympic games, and was so splen- 
did in his equipage and entertainments, in his rich tents and fur- 
niture, that he strove to outdo Cimon, he displeased the Greeks, 
who thought that such magnificence might be allowed in one who 
was a young man and of a great family but was a great piece of 
insolence in one as yet undistinguished, and without title or means 
for making any such display. In a dramatic contest, the play he paid 
for won the prize, which was then a matter that excited much 
emulation; he put up a tablet in record of it, with the inscription, 
"Themistocles of Phrearrhi was at the charge of it; Phrynichus 
made it; Adimantus was archon." He was well liked by the com- 
mon people, would salute every particular citizen by his own name, 
and always show himself a just judge in questions of business be- 
tween private men; he said to Simonides, the poet of Ceos, who 
desired something of him, when he was commander of the army, 
that was not reasonable, "Simonides, you would be no good poet 
if you wrote false measure, nor should I be a good magistrate if for 
favor I made false law." And at another time, laughing at Simoni- 
des, he said, that he was a man of little judgment to speak against 
the Corinthians, who were inhabitants of a great city, and to have 
his own picture drawn so often, having so ill-looking a face. 
1 Full of people ready for fighting, like the Trojan horse. 


Gradually growing to be great, and winning the favor of the 
people, he at last gained the day with his faction over that of Aristides, 
and procured his banishment by ostracism. When the king of Persia 
was now advancing against Greece, and the Athenians were in con- 
sultation who should be general, and many withdrew themselves of 
their own accord, being terrified with the greatness of the danger, 
there was one Epicydes, a popular speaker, son to Euphemides, a man 
of an eloquent tongue, but of a faint heart, and a slave to riches, who 
was desirous of the command, and was looked upon to be in a fair 
way to carry it by the number of votes; but Themistocles, fearing that, 
if the command should fall into such hands, all would be lost, bought 
off Epicydes and his pretensions, it is said, for a sum of money. 

When the king of Persia sent messengers into Greece, with an 
interpreter, to demand earth and water, as an acknowledgment of 
subjection, Themistocles, by the consent of the people, seized upon 
the interpreter, and put him to death, for presuming to publish the 
barbarian orders and decrees in the Greek language; this is one of the 
actions he is commended for, as also for what he did to Arthmius of 
Zelea, who brought gold from the king of Persia to corrupt the 
Greeks, and was, by an order from Themistocles, degraded and dis- 
franchised, he and his children and his posterity; but that which most 
of all redounded to his credit was, that he put an end to all the civil 
wars of Greece, composed their differences, and persuaded them to 
lay aside all enmity during the war with the Persians; and in this 
great work, Chileus the Arcadian was, it is said, of great assistance 
to him. 

Having taken upon himself the command of the Athenian forces, 
he immediately endeavored to persuade the citizens to leave the city, 
and to embark upon their galleys, and meet with the Persians at a 
great distance from Greece; but many being against this, he led a 
large force, together with the Lacedaemonians, into Tempe, that in 
this pass they might maintain the safety of Thessaly, which had not as 
yet declared for the king; but when they returned without performing 
any thing, and it was known that not only the Thessalians, but all as 
far as Bceotia, were going over to Xerxes, then the Athenians more 
willingly hearkened to the advice of Themistocles to fight by sea, and 
sent him with a fleet to guard the straits of Artemisium. 


When the contingents met here, the Greeks would have the 
Lacedaemonians to command, and Eurybiades to be their admiral; 
but the Athenians, who surpassed all the rest together in number of 
vessels, would not submit to come after any other, till Themistocles, 
perceiving the danger of this contest, yielded his own command to 
Eurybiades, and got the Athenians to submit, extenuating the loss 
by persuading them, that if in this war they behaved themselves like 
men, he would answer for it after that, that the Greeks, of their own 
will, would submit to their command. And by this moderation of 
his, it is evident that he was the chief means of the deliverance of 
Greece, and gained the Athenians the glory of alike surpassing their 
enemies in valor, and their confederates in wisdom. 

As soon as the Persian armada arrived at Aphetae, Eurybiades was 
astonished to see such a vast number of vessels before him, and, 
being informed that two hundred more were sailing round behind 
the island of Sciathus, he immediately determined to retire farther 
into Greece, and to sail back into some part of Peloponnesus, where 
their land army and their fleet might join, for he looked upon the 
Persian forces to be altogether unassailable by sea. But the Eubceans, 
fearing that the Greeks would forsake them, and leave them to the 
mercy of the enemy, sent Pelagon to confer privately with Themis- 
tocles, taking with him a good sum of money, which, as Herodotus 
reports, he accepted and gave to Eurybiades. In this affair none of 
his own countrymen opposed him so much as Architeles, captain of 
the sacred galley, who, having no money to supply his seamen, was 
eager to go home; but Themistocles so incensed the Athenians 
against him, that they set upon him and left him not so much as his 
supper, at which Architeles was much surprised, and took it very 
ill; but Themistocles immediately sent him in a chest a service of 
provisions, and at the bottom of it a talent of silver, desiring him to 
sup to-night, and to-morrow provide for his seamen; if not, he 
would report it amongst the Athenians that he had received money 
from the enemy. So Phanias the Lesbian tells the story. 

Though the fights between the Greeks and Persians in the straits 
of Eubcea were not so important as to make any final decision of the 
war, yet the experience which the Greeks obtained in them was of 
great advantage; for thus, by actual trial and in real danger, they 


found out, that neither number of ships, nor riches and ornaments, 
nor boasting shouts, nor barbarous songs of victory, were any way 
terrible to men that knew how to fight, and were resolved to come 
hand to hand with their enemies; these things they were to despise, 
and to come up close and grapple with their foes. This, Pindar 
appears to have seen, and says justly enough of the fight at Arte- 
misium, that 

"There the sons of Athens set 
The stone that freedom stands on yet." 

For the first step towards victory undoubtedly is to gain courage. 
Artemisium is in Euboea, beyond the city of Histiaca, a sea-beach 
open to the north; most nearly opposite to it stands Olizon, in the 
country which formerly was under Philoctetes; there is a small 
temple there, dedicated to Diana, surnamed of the Dawn, and trees 
about it, around which again stand pillars of white marble; and if 
you rub them with your hand, they send forth both the smell and 
color of saffron. On one of the pillars these verses are engraved, — 

"With numerous tribes from Asia's regions brought 
The sons of Athens on these waters fought; 
Erecting, after they had quelled the Mede, 
To Artemis this record of the deed." 

There is a place still to be seen upon this shore, where, in the middle 
of a great heap of sand, they take out from the bottom a dark 
powder like ashes, or something that has passed the fire; and here, 
it is supposed, the shipwrecks and bodies of the dead were burnt. 

But when news came from Thermopylae to Artemisium, inform- 
ing them that king Leonidas was slain, and that Xerxes had made 
himself master of all the passages by land, they returned back to 
the interior of Greece, the Athenians having the command of the 
rear, the place of honor and danger, and much elated by what had 
been done. 

As Themistocles sailed along the coast, he took notice of the 
harbors and fit places for the enemies' ships to come to land at, and 
engraved large letters in such stones as he found there by chance, 
as also in others which he set up on purpose near to the landing- 
places, or where they were to water; in which inscriptions he called 
upon the Ionians to forsake the Medes, if it were possible, and come 


over to the Greeks, who were their proper founders and fathers, 
and were now hazarding all for their liberties; but, if this could not 
be done, at any rate to impede and disturb the Persians in all engage- 
ments. He hoped that these writings would prevail with the Ionians 
to revolt, or raise some trouble by making their fidelity doubtful to 
the Persians. 

Now, though Xerxes had already passed through Doris and in- 
vaded the country of Phocis, and was burning and destroying the 
cities of the Phocians, yet the Greeks sent them no relief; and, 
though the Athenians earnestly desired them to meet the Persians 
in Bceotia, before they could come into Attica, as they themselves had 
come forward by sea at Artemisium, they gave no ear to their re- 
quest, being wholly intent upon Peloponnesus, and resolved to 
gather all their forces together within the Isthmus, and to build a 
wall from sea to sea in that narrow neck of land; so that the Atheni- 
ans were enraged to see themselves betrayed, and at the same time 
afflicted and dejected at their own destitution. For to fight alone 
against such a numerous army was to no purpose, and the only expe- 
dient now left them was to leave their city and cling to their ships; 
which the people were very unwilling to submit to, imagining that 
it would signify little now to gain a victory, and not understand- 
ing how there could be deliverance any longer after they had once 
forsaken the temples of their gods and exposed the tombs and monu- 
ments of their ancestors to the fury of their enemies. 

Themistocles, being at a loss, and not able to draw the people over 
to his opinion by any human reason, set his machines to work, as 
in a theatre, and employed prodigies and oracles. The serpent of 
Minerva, kept in the inner part of her temple, disappeared; the 
priests gave it out to the people that the offerings which were set for 
it were found untouched, and declared, by the suggestion of The- 
mistocles, that the goddess had left the city, and taken her flight 
before them towards the sea. And he often urged them with the 
oracle 2 which bade them trust to walls of wood, showing them that 

2 "While all things else are taken," said the oracle, "within the boundary of 
Cecrops and the covert of divine Citharron, Zeus grants to Athena that the wall of 
wood alone shall remain uncapturcd; that shall help thee and thy children. Stay not 
for horsemen and an host of men on foot, coming from the mainland; retire turning 
thy back; one day yet thou shalt show thy face. O divine Salamis, but thou shall slay 
children of women, either at the scattering of Demeter or at the gathering." 


came to the island of Salamis, where he fainted away and died, and 
that spot in the island, which is still called the Dog's Grave, is said 
to be his. 

Among the great actions of Themistocles at this crisis, the recall 
of Axistides was not the least, for, before the war, he had been ostra- 
cized by the party which Themistocles headed, and was in banish- 
ment; but now, perceiving that the people regretted his absence, 
and were fearful that he might go over to the Persians to revenge 
himself, and thereby ruin the affairs of Greece, Themistocles pro- 
posed a decree that those who were banished for a time might return 
again, to give assistance by word and deed to the cause of Greece 
with the rest of their fellow-citizens. 

Eurybiades, by reason of the greatness of Sparta, was admiral of 
the Greek fleet, but yet was faint-hearted in time of danger, and 
willing to weigh anchor and set sail for the isthmus of Corinth, 
near which the land army lay encamped; which Themistocles re- 
sisted; and this was the occasion of the well-known words, when 
Eurybiades, to check his impatience, told him that at the Olympic 
games they that start up before the rest are lashed; "And they," 
replied Themistocles, "that are left behind are not crowned." Again, 
Eurybiades lifting up his staff as if he were going to strike, Themis- 
tocles said, "Strike if you will, but hear"; Eurybiades, wondering 
much at his moderation, desired him to speak, and Themistocles 
now brought him to a better understanding. And when one who 
stood by him told him that it did not become those who had neither 
city nor house to lose, to persuade others to relinquish their habita- 
tions and forsake their countries, Themistocles gave this reply : "We 
have indeed left our houses and our walls, base fellow, not thinking 
it fit to become slaves for the sake of things that have no life nor 
soul; and yet our city is the greatest of all Greece, consisting of two 
hundred galleys, which are here to defend you, if you please; but if 
you run away and betray us, as you did once before, the Greeks 
shall soon hear news of the Athenians possessing as fair a country, 
and as large and free a city, as that they have lost." These expres- 
sions of Themistocles made Eurybiades suspect that if he retreated 
the Athenians would fall off from him. When one of Eretria began 

1 6 plutarch's lives 

to oppose him, he said, "Have you any thing to say of war, that are 
like an ink-fish ? you have a sword, but no heart." ' Some say that 
while Themistocles was thus speaking things upon the deck, an owl 
was seen flying to the right hand of the fleet, which came and sate 
upon the top of the mast; and this happy omen so far disposed the 
Greeks to follow his advice, that they presently prepared to fight. 
Yet, when the enemy's fleet was arrived at the haven of Phalerum, 
upon the coast of Attica, and with the number of their ships con- 
cealed all the shore, and when they saw the king himself in person 
come down with his land army to the sea-side, with all his forces 
united, then the good counsel of Themistocles was soon forgotten, 
and the Peloponnesians cast their eyes again towards the Isthmus, 
and took it very ill if any one spoke against their returning home; 
and, resolving to depart that night, the pilots had order what course 
to steer. 

Themistocles, in great distress that the Greeks should retire, and 
lose the advantage of the narrow seas and strait passage, and slip 
home every one to his own city, considered with himself, and con- 
trived that stratagem that was carried out by Sicinnus. This Sicin- 
nus was a Persian captive, but a great lover of Themistocles, and 
the attendant of his children. Upon this occasion, he sent him 
privately to Xerxes, commanding him to tell the king, that Themis- 
tocles, the admiral of the Athenians, having espoused his interest, 
wished to be the first to inform him that the Greeks were ready to 
make their escape, and that he counselled him to hinder their flight, 
to set upon them while they were in this confusion and at a distance 
from their land army, and hereby destroy all their forces by sea. 
Xerxes was very joyful at this message, and received it as from one 
who wished him all that was good, and immediately issued instruc- 
tions to the commanders of his ships, that they should instantly set out 
with two hundred galleys to encompass all the islands, and enclose 
all the straits and passages, that none of the Greeks might escape, 
and that they should afterwards follow with the rest of their fleet at 
leisure. This being done, Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, was the 
first man that perceived it, and went to the tent of Themistocles, not 

' The Teuthis, loligo, or cuttlefish, is said to have a bone or cartilage shaped like a 
sword, and was conceived to have no heart. 


out of any friendship, for he had been formerly banished by his 
means, as has been related, but to inform him how they were en- 
compassed by their enemies. Themistocles, knowing the generosity 
of Aristides, and much struck by his visit at that time, imparted to 
him all that he had transacted by Sicinnus, and entreated him, that, 
as he would be more readily believed among the Greeks, he would 
make use of his credit to help to induce them to stay and fight their 
enemies in the narrow seas. Aristides applauded Themistocles, and 
went to the other commanders and captains of the galleys, and en- 
couraged them to engage; yet they did not perfectly assent to him, 
till a galley of Tenos, which deserted from the Persians, of which 
Panaetius was commander, came in, while they were still doubting, 
and confirmed the news that all the straits and passages were beset; 
and then their rage and fury, as well as their necessity, provoked 
them all to fight. 

As soon as it was day, Xerxes placed himself high up, to view 
his fleet, and how it was set in order. Phanodemus says, he sat upon 
a promontory above the temple of Hercules, where the coast of 
Attica is separated from the island by a narrow channel; but 
Acestodorus writes, that it was in the confines of Megara, upon those 
hills which are called the Horns, where he sat in a chair of gold, 
with many secretaries about him to write down all that was done. 

When Themistocles was about to sacrifice, close to the admiral's 
galley, there were three prisoners brought to him, fine looking men, 
and richly dressed in ornamented clothing and gold, said to be the 
children of Artayctes and Sandauce, sister to Xerxes. As soon as 
the prophet Euphrantides saw them, and observed that at the same 
time the fire blazed out from the offerings with a more than ordi- 
nary flame, and that a man sneezed on the right, which was an 
intimation of a fortunate event, he took Themistocles by the hand, 
and bade him consecrate the three young men for sacrifice, and offer 
them up with prayers for victory to Bacchus the Devourer: so 
should the Greeks not only save themselves, but also obtain victory. 
Themistocles was much disturbed at this strange and terrible 
prophecy, but the common people, who, in any difficult crisis and 
great exigency, ever look for relief rather to strange and extrava- 
gant than to reasonable means, calling upon Bacchus with one voice, 

1 8 plutarch's lives 

led the captives to the altar, and compelled the execution of the 
sacrifice as the prophet had commanded. This is reported by Pha- 
nias the Lesbian, a philosopher well read in history. 

The number of the enemy's ships the poet ^Eschylus gives in his 
tragedy called the Persians, as on his certain knowledge, in the 
following words — 

"Xerxes, I know, did into battle lead 
One thousand ships; of more than usual speed 
Seven and two hundred. So is it agreed." 

The Athenians had a hundred and eighty; in every ship eighteen 
men fought upon the deck, four of whom were archers and the rest 

As Themistocles had fixed upon the most advantageous place, so, 
with no less sagacity, he chose the best time of fighting; for he 
would not run the prows of his galleys against the Persians, nor 
begin the fight till the time of day was come, when there regularly 
blows in a fresh breeze from the open sea, and brings in with it a 
strong swell into the channel; which was no inconvenience to the 
Greek ships, which were low-built, and little above the water, but 
did much hurt to the Persians, which had high sterns and lofty 
decks, and were heavy and cumbrous in their movements, as it pre- 
sented them broadside to the quick charges of the Greeks, who 
kept their eyes upon the motions of Themistocles, as their best ex- 
ample, and more particularly because, opposed to his ship, Aria- 
menes, admiral to Xerxes, a brave man, and by far the best and 
worthiest of the king's brothers, was seen throwing darts and 
shooting arrows from his huge galley, as from the walls of a castle. 
Aminias the Decelean and Sosicles the Pedian, who sailed in the 
same vessel, upon the ships meeting stem to stem, and transfixing 
each the other with their brazen prows, so that they were fastened 
together, when Ariamenes attempted to board theirs, ran at him 
with their pikes, and thrust him into the sea; his body, as it floated 
amongst other shipwrecks, was known to Artemisia, and carried to 

It is reported, that, in the middle of the fight, a great flame rose 
into the air above the city of Eleusis, and that sounds and voices 
were heard through all the Thriasian plain, as far as the sea, sound- 


ing like a number of men accompanying and escorting the mystic 
Iacchus, and that a mist seemed to form and rise from the place 
from whence the sounds came, and, passing forward, fell upon the 
galleys. Others believed that they saw apparitions, in the shape of 
armed men, reaching out their hands from the island of ^Egina 
before the Grecian galleys; and supposed they were the ^Eacidse, 
whom they had invoked to their aid before the battle. The first 
man that took a ship was Lycomedes the Athenian, captain of a 
galley, who cut down its ensign, and dedicated it to Apollo, the 
Laurel-crowned. And as the Persians fought in a narrow arm of 
the sea, and could bring but part of their fleet to fight, and fell foul 
of one another, the Greeks thus equalled them in strength, and 
fought with them till the evening, forced them back, and obtained, 
as says Simonides, that noble and famous victory, than which 
neither amongst the Greeks nor barbarians was ever known more 
glorious exploit on the seas; by the joint valor, indeed, and zeal of 
all who fought, but by the wisdom and sagacity of Themistocles. 

After this sea-fight, Xerxes, enraged at his ill-fortune, attempted, 
by casting great heaps of earth and stones into the sea, to stop up 
the channel and to make a dam, upon which he might lead his 
land-forces over into the island of Salamis. 

Themistocles, being desirous to try the opinion of Aristides, told 
him that he proposed to set sail for the Hellespont, to break the 
bridge of ships, so as to shut up, he said, Asia a prisoner within 
Europe; but Aristides, disliking the design, said, "We have hitherto 
fought with an enemy who has regarded little else but his pleasure 
and luxury; but if we shut him up within Greece, and drive him to 
necessity, he that is master of such great forces will no longer sit 
quiedy with an umbrella of gold over his head, looking upon the 
fight for his pleasure; but in such a strait will attempt all things; 
he will be resolute, and appear himself in person upon all occasions, 
he will soon correct his errors, and supply what he has formerly 
omitted through remissness, and will be better advised in all things. 
Therefore, it is noways our interest, Themistocles," he said, "to take 
away the bridge that is already made, but rather to build another, 
if it were possible, that he might make his retreat with the more 
expedition." To which Themistocles answered, "If this be requi- 

20 plutarch's lives 

site, we must immediately use all diligence, art, and industry, to rid 
ourselves of him as soon as may be;" and to this purpose he found 
out among the captives one of the king of Persia's eunuchs, named 
Arnaces, whom he sent to the king, to inform him that the Greeks, 
being now victorious by sea, had decreed to sail to the Hellespont, 
where the boats were fastened together, and destroy the bridge; but 
that Themistocles, being concerned for the king, revealed this to 
him, that he might hasten towards the Asiatic seas, and pass over 
into his own dominions; and in the mean time would cause delays, 
and hinder the confederates from pursuing him. Xerxes no sooner 
heard this, but, being very much terrified, he proceeded to retreat 
out of Greece with all speed. The prudence of Themistocles and 
Aristides in this was afterwards more fully understood at the battle 
of Plataea, where Mardonius, with a very small fraction of the 
forces of Xerxes, put the Greeks in danger of losing all. 

Herodotus writes, that, of all the cities of Greece, j£gina was 
held to have performed the best service in the war; while all single 
men yielded to Themistocles, though, out of envy, unwillingly; and 
when they returned to the entrance of Peloponnesus, where the sev- 
eral commanders delivered their suffrages at the altar, to determine 
who was most worthy, every one gave the first vote for himself and 
the second for Themistocles. The Lacedxmonians carried him with 
them to Sparta, where, giving the rewards of valor to Eurybiades, 
and of wisdom and conduct to Themistocles, they crowned him 
with olive, presented him with the best chariot in the city, and 
sent three hundred young men to accompany him to the confines 
of their country. And at the next Olympic games, when Themis- 
tocles entered the course, the spectators took no farther notice of 
those who were contesting the prizes, but spent the whole day in 
looking upon him, showing him to the strangers, admiring him, 
and applauding him by clapping their hands, and other expressions 
of joy, so that he himself, much gratified, confessed to his friends 
that he then reaped the fruit of all his labors for the Greeks. 

He was, indeed, by nature, a great lover of honor, as is evident 
from the anecdotes recorded of him. When chosen admiral by the 
Athenians, he would not quite conclude any single matter of busi- 
ness, either public or private, but deferred all till the day they were 


to set sail, that, by despatching a great quantity of business all at 
once, and having to meet a great variety of people, he might make 
an appearance of greatness and power. Viewing the dead bodies 
cast up by the sea, he perceived bracelets and necklaces of gold 
about them, yet passed on, only showing them to a friend that fol- 
lowed him, saying, "Take you these things, for you are not Themis- 
tocles." He said to Antiphates, a handsome young man, who had 
formerly avoided, but now in his glory courted him, "Time, young 
man, has taught us both a lesson." He said that the Athenians did 
not honor him or admire him, but made, as it were, a sort of plane- 
tree of him; sheltered themselves under him in bad weather, and, 
as soon as it was fine, plucked his leaves and cut his branches. When 
the Seriphian told him that he had not obtained this honor by 
himself, but by the greatness of his city, he replied, "You speak 
truth; I should never have been famous if I had been of Seriphus; 
nor you, had you been of Athens." When another of the generals, 
who thought he had performed considerable service for the Athe- 
nians, boastingly compared his actions with those of Themistocles, 
he told him that once upon a time the Day after the Festival found 
fault with the Festival: "On you there is nothing but hurry and 
trouble and preparation, but, when I come, everybody sits down 
quietly and enjoys himself;" which the Festival admitted was true, 
but "if I had not come first, you would not have come at all." "Even 
so," he said, "if Themistocles had not come before, where had you 
been now?" Laughing at his own son, who got his mother, and, by 
his mother's means, his father also, to indulge him, he told him 
that he had the most power of any one in Greece: "For the Athe- 
nians command the rest of Greece, I command the Athenians, your 
mother commands me, and you command your mother." Loving 
to be singular in all things, when he had land to sell, he ordered 
the crier to give notice that there were good neighbors near it. Of 
two who made love to his daughter, he preferred the man of 
worth to the one who was rich, saying he desired a man without 
riches, rather than riches without a man. Such was the character 
of his sayings. 

After these things, he began to rebuild and fortify the city of 
Athens, bribing, as Theopompus reports, the Lacedaemonian ephors 

22 plutarch's lives 

not to be against it, but, as most relate it, overreaching and deceiv- 
ing them. For, under pretext of an embassy, he went to Sparta, 
where, upon the Laceda:monians charging him with rebuilding the 
walls, and Poliarchus coming on purpose from jtgina to denounce 
it, he denied the fact, bidding them to send people to Athens to 
see whether it was so or no; by which delay he got time for the 
building of the wall, and also placed these ambassadors in the 
hands of his countrymen as hostages for him; and so, when 
the Lacedaemonians knew the truth, they did him no hurt, but, 
suppressing all display of their anger for the present, sent him 

Next he proceeded to establish the harbor of Piraeus, observing 
the great natural advantages of the locality and desirous to unite the 
whole city with the sea, and to reverse, in a manner, the policy of 
ancient Athenian kings, who, endeavoring to withdraw their sub- 
jects from the sea, and to accustom them to live, not by sailing 
about, but by planting and tilling the earth, spread the story of the 
dispute between Minerva and Neptune for the sovereignty of Ath- 
ens, in which Minerva, by producing to the judges an olive tree, was 
declared to have won; whereas Themistocles did not only knead 
up, as Aristophanes says, the port and the city into one, but made the 
city absolutely the dependant and the adjunct of the port, and the 
land of the sea, which increased the power and confidence of the 
people against nobility; the authority coming into the hands of 
sailors and boatswains and pilots. Thus it was one of the orders of 
the thirty tyrants, that the hustings in the assembly, which had 
faced towards the sea, should be turned round towards the land; 
implying their opinion that the empire by sea had been the origin 
of the democracy, and that the farming population were not so 
much opposed to oligarchy. 

Themistocles, however, formed yet higher designs with a view 
to naval supremacy. For, after the departure of Xerxes, when the 
Grecian fleet was arrived at Pagasa:, where they wintered, Themis- 
tocles, in a public oration to the people of Athens, told them that 
he had a design to perform something that would tend greatly to 
their interests and safety, but was of such a nature, that it could 
not be made generally public. The Athenians ordered him to im- 


part it to Aristides only; and, if he approved of it, to put it in 
practice. And when Themistocles had discovered to him that his 
design was to burn the Grecian fleet in the haven of Pagasa?, Aris- 
tides, coming out to the people, gave this report of the stratagem 
contrived by Themistocles, that no proposal could be more politic, 
or more dishonorable; on which the Athenians commanded Themis- 
tocles to think no farther of it. 

When the Lacedaemonians proposed, at the general council of the 
Amphictyonians, that the representatives of those cities which were 
not in the league, nor had fought against the Persians, should be 
excluded, Themistocles, fearing that the Thessalians, with those of 
Thebes, Argos, and others, being thrown out of the council, the Lace- 
daemonians would become wholly masters of the votes, and do what 
they pleased, supported the deputies of the cities, and prevailed with 
the members then sitting to alter their opinion in this point, show- 
ing them that there were but one and thirty cities which had par- 
taken in the war, and that most of these, also, were very small; how 
intolerable would it be, if the rest of Greece should be excluded, and 
the general council should come to be ruled by two or three great 
cities. By this, chiefly, he incurred the displeasure of the Lacedae- 
monians, whose honors and favors were now shown to Cimon, 
with a view to making him the opponent of the state policy of 

He was also burdensome to the confederates, sailing about the 
islands and collecting money from them. Herodotus says, that, 
requiring money of those of the island of Andros, he told them 
that he had brought with him two goddesses, Persuasion and Force; 
and they answered him that they had also two great goddesses, 
which prohibited them from giving him any money, Poverty and 
Impossibility. Timocreon, the Rhodian poet, reprehends him some- 
what bitterly for being wrought upon by money to let some who 
were banished return, while abandoning himself, who was his guest 
and friend. The verses are these: — 

"Pausanias you may praise, and Xanthippus he be for, 
For Leutychidas, a third; Aristides, I proclaim, 
From the sacred Athens came, 
The one true man of all; for Themistocles Latona doth abhor, 


"The liar, traitor, cheat, who, to gain his filthy pay, 
Timocreon, his friend, neglected to restore 
To his native Rhodian shore; 
Three silver talents took, and departed (curses with him) on his way, 

"Restoring people here, expelling there, and killing here, 
Filling evermore his purse: and at the Isthmus gave a treat, 
To be laughed at, of cold meat, 

Which they ate, and prayed the gods some one else might give the feast 
another year." 

But after the sentence and banishment of Themistocles, Timocreon 
reviles him yet more immoderately and wildly in a poem which 
begins thus: — 

"Unto all the Greeks repair 
O Muse, and tell these verses there, 
As is fitting and is fair." 

The story is, that it was put to the question whether Timocreon 
should be banished for siding with the Persians, and Themistocles 
gave his vote against him. So when Themistocles was accused of 
intriguing with the Medes, Timocreon made these lines upon 
him: — 

"So now Timocreon, indeed, is not the sole friend of the Mede, 
There are some knaves besides; nor is it only mine that fails, 
But other foxes have lost tails. — " 

When the citizens of Athens began to listen willingly to those who 
traduced and reproached him, he was forced, with somewhat ob- 
noxious frequency, to put them in mind of the great services he had 
performed, and ask those who were offended with him whether 
they were weary with receiving benefits often from the same per- 
son, so rendering himself more odious. And he yet more provoked 
the people by building a temple to Diana with the epithet of Aristo- 
bule, or Diana of Best Counsel; intimating thereby, that he had 
given the best counsel, not only to the Athenians, but to all Greece. 
He built this temple near his own house, in the district called 
Melite, where now the public officers carry out the bodies of such 
as are executed, and throw the halters and clothes of those that are 


strangled or otherwise put to death. There is to this day a small 
figure of Themistocles in the temple of Diana of Best Counsel, 
which represents him to be a person, not only of a noble mind, but 
also of a most heroic aspect. At length the Athenians banished 
him, making use of the ostracism to humble his eminence and au- 
thority, as they ordinarily did with all whom they thought too pow- 
erful, or, by their greatness, disproportionable to the equality 
thought requisite in a popular government. For the ostracism was 
instituted, not so much to punish the offender, as to mitigate and 
pacify the violence of the envious, who delighted to humble emi- 
nent men, and who, by fixing this disgrace upon them, might vent 
some part of their rancor. 

Themistocles being banished from Athens, while he stayed at 
Argos the detection of Pausanias happened, which gave such ad- 
vantage to his enemies, that Leobotes of Agraule, son of Alcmaron, 
indicted him of treason, the Spartans supporting him in the accusa- 

When Pausanias went about this treasonable design, he con- 
cealed it at first from Themistocles, though he were his intimate 
friend; but when he saw him expelled out of the commonwealth, 
and how impatiently he took his banishment, he ventured to com- 
municate it to him, and desired his assistance, showing him the 
king of Persia's letters, and exasperating him against the Greeks, 
as a villainous, ungrateful people. However, Themistocles imme- 
diately rejected the proposals of Pausanias, and wholly refused to 
be a party in the enterprise, though he never revealed his commu- 
nications, nor disclosed the conspiracy to any man, either hoping 
that Pausanias would desist from his intentions, or expecting that 
so inconsiderate an attempt after such chimerical objects would be 
discovered by other means. 

After that Pausanias was put to death, letters and writings being 
found concerning this matter, which rendered Themistocles sus- 
pected, the Laceda?monians were clamorous against him, and his 
enemies among the Athenians accused him; when, being absent 
from Athens, he made his defence by letters, especially against the 
points that had been previously alleged against him. In answer to 
the malicious detractions of his enemies, he merely wrote to the 

26 plutarch's lives 

citizens, urging that he who was always ambitious to govern, and 
not of a character or a disposition to serve, would never sell himself 
and his country into slavery to a barbarous and hostile nation. 

Notwithstanding this, the people, being persuaded by his ac- 
cusers, sent officers to take him and bring him away to be tried 
before a council of the Greeks, but, having timely notice of it, he 
passed over into the island of Corcyra, where the state was under 
obligations to him; for, being chosen as arbitrator in a difference 
between them and the Corinthians, he decided the controversy by 
ordering the Corinthians to pay down twenty talents, and declaring 
the town and island of Leucas a joint colony from both cities. From 
thence he fled into Epirus, and, the Athenians and Lacedaemonians 
still pursuing him, he threw himself upon chances of safety that 
seemed all but desperate. For he fled for refuge to Admetus, king 
of the Molossians, who had formerly made some request to the Athe- 
nians, when Themistocles was in the height of his authority, and had 
been disdainfully used and insulted by him, and had let it appear 
plain enough, that, could he lay hold of him, he would take his re- 
venge. Yet in this misfortune, Themistocles^earing the recent hatred 
of his neighbors and fellow-citizens more than the old displeasure of 
the king, put himself at his mercy, and became an humble suppli- 
ant to Admetus, after a peculiar manner, different from the custom 
of other countries. For taking the king's son, who was then a 
child, in his arms, he laid himself down at his hearth, this being 
the most sacred and only manner of supplication, among the Mo- 
lossians, which was not to be refused. And some say that his wife, 
Phthia, intimated to Themistocles this way of petitioning, and 
placed her young son with him before the hearth; others, that king 
Admetus, that he might be under a religious obligation not to 
deliver him up to his pursuers, prepared and enacted with him a 
sort of stage-play to this effect. At this time, Epicrates of Acharnae 
privately conveyed his wife and children out of Athens, and sent 
them hither, for which afterwards Cimon condemned him and put 
him to death as Stesimbrotus reports, and yet somehow, either for- 
getting this himself, or making Themistocles to be little mindful of 
it, says presendy that he sailed into Sicily, and desired in marriage 
the daughter of Hiero, tyrant of Syracuse, promising to bring the 


Greeks under his power; and, on Hiero refusing him, departed 
thence into Asia; but this is not probable. 

For Theophrastus writes, in his work on Monarchy, that when 
Hiero sent race-horses to the Olympian games, and erected a pa- 
vilion sumptuously furnished, Themistocles made an oration to the 
Greeks, inciting them to pull down the tyrant's tent, and not to 
suffer his horses to run. Thucydides says, that, passing over land 
to the jEgaean Sea, he took ship at Pydna in the bay of Therme, not 
being known to any one in the ship, till, being terrified to see the ves- 
sel driven by the winds near to Naxos, which was then besieged by 
the Athenians, he made himself known to the master and pilot, and, 
partly entreating them, partly threatening that if they went on shore 
he would accuse them, and make the Athenians to believe that they 
did not take him in out of ignorance, but that he had corrupted 
them with money from the beginning, he compelled them to 
bear off and stand out to sea, and sail forward towards the coast 
of Asia. 

A great part of his estate was privately conveyed away by his 
friends, and sent after him by sea into Asia; besides which, there 
was discovered and confiscated to the value of fourscore talents, as 
Theophrastus writes; Theopompus says an hundred; though The- 
mistocles was never worth three talents before he was concerned in 
public affairs. 

When he arrived at Cyme, and understood that all along the 
coast there were many laid wait for him, and particularly Ergoteles 
and Pythodorus (for the game was worth the hunting for such as 
were thankful to make money by any means, the king of Persia 
having offered by public proclamation two hundred talents to him 
that should take him), he fled to jEgac, a small city of the ^olians, 
where no one knew him but only his host Nicogenes, who was the 
richest man in jEolia, and well known to the great men of Inner 
Asia. While Themistocles lay hid for some days in his house, one 
night, after a sacrifice and supper ensuing, Olbius, the attendant 
upon Nicogenes's children, fell into a sort of frenzy and fit of 
inspiration, and cried out in verse, — 

"Night shall speak, and night instruct thee, 
By the voice of night conduct thee." 

28 plutarch's lives 

After this, Themistocles, going to bed, dreamed that he saw a snake 
coil itself up upon his belly, and so creep to his neck; then, as soon 
as it touched his face, it turned into an eagle, which spread its 
wings over him, and took him up and flew away with him a great 
distance; then there appeared a herald's golden wand, and upon 
this at last it set him down securely, after infinite terror and dis- 

His departure was effected by Nicogenes by the following artifice; 
the barbarous nations, and amongst them the Persians especially, 
are extremely jealous, severe, and suspicious about their women, 
not only their wives, but also their bought slaves and concubines, 
whom they keep so strictly that no one ever sees them abroad; they 
spend their lives shut up within doors, and, when they take a jour- 
ney, are carried in close tents, curtained in on all sides, and set upon 
a wagon. Such a travelling carriage being prepared for Themis- 
tocles, they hid him in it, and carried him on his journey, and told 
those whom they met or spoke with upon the road that they were 
conveying a young Greek woman out of Ionia to a nobleman at 

Thucydides and Charon of Lampsacus say that Xerxes was dead, 
and that Themistocles had an interview with his son; but Ephorus, 
Dinon, Clitarchus, Heraclides, and many others, write that he came 
to Xerxes. The chronological tables better agree with the account 
of Thucydides, and yet neither can their statements be said to be 
quite set at rest. 

When Themistocles was come to the critical point, he applied 
himself first to Artabanus, commander of a thousand men, telling 
him that he was a Greek, and desired to speak with the king about 
important affairs concerning which the king was extremely solici- 
tous. Artabanus answered him, "O stranger, the laws of men are 
different, and one thing is honorable to one man, and to others 
another; but it is honorable for all to honor and observe their own 
laws. It is the habit of the Greeks, we are told, to honor, above all 
things, liberty and equality; but amongst our many excellent laws, 
we account this the most excellent, to honor the king, and to wor- 
ship him, as the image of the great preserver of the universe; if, 
then, you shall consent to our laws, and fall down before the king 


and worship him, you may both see him and speak to him; but if 
your mind be otherwise, you must make use of others to intercede 
for you, for it is not the national custom here for the king to give 
audience to any one that doth not fall down before him." Themis- 
tocles, hearing this, replied, "Artabanus, I that come hither to in- 
crease the power and glory of the king, will not only submit my- 
self to his laws, since so it hath pleased the god who exalteth the 
Persian empire to this greatness, but will also cause many more to 
be worshippers and adorers of the king. Let not this, therefore, be 
an impediment why I should not communicate to the king what I 
have to impart." Artabanus asking him, "Who must we tell him 
that you are? for your words signify you to be no ordinary person," 
Themistocles answered, "No man, O Artabanus, must be informed 
of this before the king himself." Thus Phanias relates; to which 
Eratosthenes, in his treatise on Riches, adds, that it was by the 
means of a woman of Eretria, who was kept by Artabanus, that he 
obtained this audience and interview with him. 

When he was introduced to the king, and had paid his reverence 
to him, he stood silent, till the king commanding the interpreter to 
ask him who he was, he replied, "O king, I am Themistocles the 
Athenian, driven into banishment by the Greeks. The evils that 
I have done to the Persians are numerous; but my benefits to them 
yet greater, in withholding the Greeks from pursuit, so soon as the 
deliverance of my own country allowed me to show kindness also 
to you. I come with a mind suited to my present calamities; pre- 
pared alike for favors and for anger; to welcome your gracious 
reconciliation, and to deprecate your wrath. Take my own country- 
men for witnesses of the services I have done for Persia, and make 
use of this occasion to show the world your virtue, rather than to 
satisfy your indignation. If you save me, you will save your suppli- 
ant; if otherwise, will destroy an enemy of the Greeks." He talked 
also of divine admonition, such as the vision which he saw at Nico- 
genes's house, and the direction given him by the oracle of Dodona, 
where Jupiter commanded him to go to him that had a name 
like his, by which he understood that he was sent from Jupiter to 
him, seeing that they both were great, and had the name of kings. 

The king heard him attentively, and, though he admired his tern- 


per and courage, gave him no answer at that time; but, when he 
was with his intimate friends, rejoiced in his great good fortune, 
and esteemed himself very happy in this, and prayed to his god 
Arimanius, that all his enemies might be ever of the same mind 
with the Greeks, to abuse and expel the bravest men amongst them. 
Then he sacrificed to the gods, and presently fell to drinking, and 
was so well pleased, that in the night, in the middle of his sleep, he 
cried out for joy three times, "I have Themistocles the Athenian." 
In the morning, calling together the chief of his court, he had 
Themistocles brought before him, who expected no good of it, 
when he saw, for example, the guards fiercely set against him as 
soon as they learnt his name, and giving him ill language. As he 
came forward towards the king, who was seated, the rest keeping 
silence, passing by Roxanes, a commander of a thousand men, he 
heard him, with a slight groan, say, without stirring out of his 
place, "You subtle Greek serpent, the king's good genius hath 
brought thee hither." Yet, when he came into the presence, and 
again fell down, the king saluted him, and spake to him kindly, 
telling him he was now indebted to him two hundred talents; for it 
was just and reasonable that he should receive the reward which was 
proposed to whosoever should bring Themistocles; and promising 
much more, and encouraging him, he commanded him to speak 
freely what he would concerning the affairs of Greece. Themis- 
tocles replied, that a man's discourse was like to a rich Persian car- 
pet, the beautiful figures and patterns of which can only be shown 
by spreading and extending it out; when it is contracted and folded 
up, they are obscured and lost; and, therefore, he desired time. 
The king being pleased with the comparison, and bidding him 
take what time he would, he desired a year; in which time, having 
learnt the Persian language sufficiently, he spoke with the king by 
himself without the help of an interpreter, it being supposed that he 
discoursed only about the affairs of Greece; but there happening, 
at the same time, great alterations at court, and removals of the 
king's favorites, he drew upon himself the envy of the great people, 
who imagined that he had taken the boldness to speak concerning 
them. For the favors shown to other strangers were nothing in com- 
parison with the honors conferred on him; the king invited him to 


partake of his own pastimes and recreations both at home and 
abroad, carrying him with him a-hunting, and made him his inti- 
mate so far that he permitted him to see the queen-mother, and 
converse frequently with her. By the king's command, he also 
was made acquainted with the Magian learning. 

When Demaratus the Lacedaemonian, being ordered by the king 
to ask whatsoever he pleased, and it should immediately be granted 
him, desired that he might make his public entrance, and be carried 
in state through the city of Sardis, with the tiara set in the royal 
manner upon his head, Mithropaustes, cousin to the king, touched 
him on the head, and told him that he had no brains for the royal 
tiara to cover, and if Jupiter should give him his lightning and thun- 
der, he would not any the more be Jupiter for that; the king also re- 
pulsed him with anger, resolving never to be reconciled to him, but 
to be inexorable to all supplications on his behalf. Yet Themistocles 
pacified him, and prevailed with him to forgive him. And it is re- 
ported, that the succeeding kings, in whose reigns there was a 
greater communication between the Greeks and Persians, when they 
invited any considerable Greek into their service, to encourage him, 
would write, and promise him that he should be as great with them 
as Themistocles had been. They relate, also, how Themistocles, 
when he was in great prosperity, and courted by many, seeing him- 
self splendidly served at his table, turned to his children and said, 
"Children, we had been undone if we had not been undone." Most 
writers say that he had three cities given him, Magnesia, Myus, and 
Lampsacus, to maintain him in bread, meat, and wine. Neanthes 
of Cyzicus, and Phanias, add two more, the city of Palaescepsis, to 
provide him with clothes, and Percote, with bedding and furni- 
ture for his house. 

As he was going down towards the sea-coast to take measures 
against Greece, a Persian whose name was Epixyes, governor of the 
upper Phrygia, laid wait to kill him, having for that purpose pro- 
vided a long time before a number of Pisidians, who were to set 
upon him when he should stop to rest at a city that is called Lion's- 
head. But Themistocles, sleeping in the middle of the day, saw 
the Mother of the gods appear to him in a dream and say unto him, 
"Themistocles, keep back from the Lion's-head, for fear you fall 


into the lion's jaws; for this advice I expect that your daughter 
Mnesiptolema should be my servant." Themistocles was much as- 
tonished, and, when he had made his vows to the goddess, left the 
broad road, and, making a circuit, went another way, changing his 
intended station to avoid that place, and at night took up his rest 
in the fields. But one of the sumpter-horses, which carried the furni- 
ture for his tent, having fallen that day into the river, his servants 
spread out the tapestry, which was wet, and hung it up to dry; in 
the meantime the Pisidians made towards them with their swords 
drawn, and, not discerning exactly by the moon what it was that 
was stretched out, thought it to be the tent of Themistocles, and that 
they should find him resting himself within it but when they came 
near, and lifted up the hangings, those who watched there fell upon 
them and took them. Themistocles, having escaped this great dan- 
ger, in admiration of the goodness of the goddess that appeared to 
him, built, in memory of it, a temple in the city of Magnesia, which 
he dedicated to Dindymene, Mother of the gods, in which he con- 
secrated and devoted his daughter Mnesiptolema to her service. 

When he came to Sardis, he visited the temples of the gods, and 
observing, at his leisure, their buildings, ornaments, and the num- 
ber of their offerings, he saw in the temple of the Mother of the 
gods the statue of a virgin in brass, two cubits high, called the 
water-bringer. Themistocles had caused this to be made and set up 
when he was surveyor of waters at Athens, out of the fines of those 
whom he detected in drawing off and diverting the public water 
by pipes for their private use; and whether he had some regret to 
see this image in captivity, or was desirous to let the Athenians see 
in what great credit and authority he was with the king, he entered 
into a treaty with the governor of Lydia to persuade him to send 
this statue back to Athens, which so enraged the Persian officer, 
that he told him he would write the king word of it. Themistocles, 
being affrighted hereat, got access to his wives and concubines, by 
presents of money to whom, he appeased the fury of the governor; 
and afterwards behaved with more reserve and circumspection, 
fearing the envy of the Persians, and did not, as Theopompus 
writes, continue to travel about Asia, but lived quietly in his own 
house in Magnesia, where for a long time he passed his days in 


great security, being courted by all, and enjoying rich presents, and 
honored equally with the greatest persons in the Persian empire; 
the king, at that time, not minding his concerns with Greece, being 
taken up with the affairs of Inner Asia. 

But when Egypt revolted, being assisted by the Athenians, and 
the Greek galleys roved about as far as Cyprus and Cilicia, and 
Cimon had made himself master of the seas, the king turned his 
thoughts thither, and, bending his mind chiefly to resist the Greeks, 
and to check the growth of their power against him, began to raise 
forces, and send out commanders, and to despatch messengers to 
Themistocles at Magnesia, to put him in mind of his promise, and 
to summon him to act against the Greeks. Yet this did not increase 
his hatred nor exasperate him against the Athenians, neither was 
he any way elevated with the thoughts of the honor and powerful 
command he was to have in this war; but judging, perhaps, that 
the object would not be attained, the Greeks having at that time, 
beside other great commanders, Cimon, in particular, who was 
gaining wonderful military successes; but chiefly, being ashamed to 
sully the glory of his former great actions, and of his many victories 
and trophies, he determined to put a conclusion to his life, agreeable 
to its previous course. He sacrificed to the gods, and invited his 
friends; and, having entertained them and shaken hands with 
them, drank bull's blood, as is the usual story; as others state, a 
poison producing instant death; and ended his days in the city of 
Magnesia, having lived sixty-five years, most of which he had spent 
in politics and in the wars, in government and command. The 
king, being informed of the cause and manner of his death, admired 
him more than ever, and continued to show kindness to his friends 
and relations. 

Themistocles left three sons by Archippe, daughter to Lysander of 
Alopece, — Archeptolis, Polyeuctus, and Cleophantus. Plato the phil- 
osopher mentions the last as a most excellent horseman, but other- 
wise insignificant person; of two sons yet older than these, Neocles 
and Diodes, Neocles died when he was young by the bite of a 
horse, and Diodes was adopted by his grandfather, Lysander. He 
had many daughters, of whom Mnesiptolema, whom he had by a 
second marriage, was wife to Archeptolis, her brother by another 


mother; Italia was married to Panthoides, of the island of Chios; 
Sybaris to Nicomedes the Athenian. After the death of Themis- 
tocles, his nephew, Phrasicles, went to Magnesia, and married, with 
her brothers' consent, another daughter, Nicomache, and took 
charge of her sister Asia, the youngest of all the children. 

The Magnesians possess a splendid sepulchre of Themistocles, 
placed in the middle of their market-place. It is not worth while 
taking notice of what Andocides states in his Address to his Friends 
concerning his remains, how the Athenians robbed his tomb, and 
threw his ashes into the air; for he feigns this, to exasperate the oli- 
garchical faction against the people; and there is no man living but 
knows that Phylarchus simply invents in his history; where he 
all but uses an actual stage machine, and brings in Neocles and 
Demopolis as the sons of Themistocles, to incite or move compas- 
sion, as if he were writing a tragedy. Diodorus the cosmographer 
says, in his work on Tombs, but by conjecture rather than of certain 
knowledge, that near to the heaven of Pirxus, where the land runs 
out like an elbow from the promontory of Alcimus, when you have 
doubled the cape and passed inward where the sea is always calm, 
there is a large piece of masonry, and upon this the tomb of Themis- 
tocles, in the shape of an altar; and Plato the comedian confirms 
this, he believes, in these verses, — 

"Thy tomb is fairly placed upon the strand, 
Where merchants still shall greet it with the land; 
Still in and out 't will see them come and go, 
And watch the galleys as they race below." 

Various honors also and privileges were granted to the kindred 
of Themistocles at Magnesia, which were observed down to our 
times, and were enjoyed by another Themistocles of Athens, with 
whom I had an intimate acquaintance and friendship in the house 
of Ammonius the philosopher. 


CAESAR 1 once, seeing some wealthy strangers at Rome, carry- 
ing up and down with them in their arms and bosoms 
young puppy-dogs and monkeys, embracing and making 
much of them, took occasion not unnaturally to ask whether the 
women in their country were not used to bear children; by that 
prince-like reprimand gravely reflecting upon persons who spend 
and lavish upon brute beasts that affection and kindness which 
nature has implanted in us to be bestowed on those of our own 
kind. With like reason may we blame those who misuse that love 
of inquiry and observation which nature has implanted in our 
souls, by expending it on objects unworthy of the attention either 
of their eyes or their ears, while they disregard such as are excellent 
in themselves, and would do them good. 

The mere outward sense, being passive in responding to the im- 
pression of the objects that come in its way and strike upon it, 
perhaps cannot help entertaining and taking notice of every thing 
that addresses it, be it what it will, useful or unuseful; but, in the 
exercise of his mental perception, every man, if he chooses, has a 
natural power to turn himself upon all occasions, and to change and 
shift with the greatest ease to what he shall himself judge desirable. 
So that it becomes a man's duty to pursue and make after the best 
and choicest of everything, that he may not only employ his con- 
templation, but may also be improved by it. For as that color is 
most suitable to the eye whose freshness and pleasantness stimu- 
lates and strengthens the sight, so a man ought to apply his intel- 
lectual perception to such objects as, with the sense of delight, are 
apt to call it forth, and allure it to its own proper good and advan- 

Such objects we find in the acts of virtue, which also produce 
in the minds of mere readers about them, an emulation and eager- 

1 Probably Augustus. 

36 plutarch's lives 

ness that may lead them on to imitation. In other things there does 
not immediately follow upon the admiration and liking of the thing 
done, any strong desire of doing the like. Nay, many times, on the 
very contrary, when we are pleased with the work, we slight and 
set litde by the workman or artist himself, as, for instance, in per- 
fumes and purple dyes, we are taken with the things themselves 
well enough, but do not think dyers and perfumers otherwise than 
low and sordid people. It was not said amiss by Antisthenes, when 
people told him that one Ismenias was an excellent piper, "It may 
be so," said he, "but he is but a wretched human being, otherwise 
he would not have been an excellent piper." And king Philip, to 
the same purpose, told his son Alexander, who once at a merry- 
meeting played a piece of music charmingly and skilfully, "Are you 
not ashamed, son, to play so well?" For it is enough for a king or 
prince to find leisure sometimes to hear others sing, and he does 
the muses quite honor enough when he pleases to be but present, 
while others engage in such exercises and trials of skill. 

He who busies himself in mean occupations produces, in the very 
pains he takes about things of little or no use, an evidence against 
himself of his negligence and indisposition to what is really good. 
Nor did any generous and ingenuous young man, at the sight of the 
statue of Jupiter at Pisa, ever desire to be a Phidias, or, on seeing 
that of Juno at Argos, long to be a Polycletus, or feel induced by his 
pleasure in their poems to wish to be an Anacreon or Philetas or 
Archilochus. For it does not necessarily follow, that, if a piece of 
work please for its gracefulness, therefore he that wrought it de- 
serves our admiration. Whence it is that neither do such things 
really profit or advantage the beholders, upon the sight of which no 
zeal arises for the imitation of them, nor any impulse or inclination, 
which may prompt any desire or endeavor of doing the like. But 
virtue, by the bare statement of its actions, can so affect men's 
minds as to create at once both admiration of the things done and 
desire to imitate the doers of them. The goods of fortune we would 
possess and would enjoy; those of virtue we long to practise and 
exercise; we are content to receive the former from others, the lat- 
ter we wish others to experience from us. Moral good is a practical 
stimulus; it is no sooner seen, than it inspires an impulse to prac- 


tise; and influences the mind and character not by a mere imitation 
which we look at, but, by the statement of the fact, creates a moral 
purpose which we form. 

And so we have thought fit to spend our time and pains in writ- 
ing of the lives of famous persons; and have composed this tenth 
book upon that subject, containing the life of Pericles, and that of 
Fabius Maximus, who carried on the war against Hannibal, men 
alike, as in their other virtues and good parts, so especially in their 
mild and upright temper and demeanor, and in that capacity to 
bear the cross-grained humors of their fellow-citizens and colleagues 
in office which made them both most useful and serviceable to the 
interests of their countries. Whether we take a right aim at our 
intended purpose, it is left to the reader to judge by what he shall 
here find. 

Pericles was of the tribe Acamantis, and the township Cholargus, 
of the noblest birth both on his father's and mother's side. Xan- 
thippus, his father, who defeated the king of Persia's generals in the 
batde at Mycale, took to wife Agariste, the grandchild of Clisthenes, 
who drove out the sons of Pisistratus, and nobly put an end to their 
tyrannical usurpation, and moreover made a body of laws, and 
settled a model of government admirably tempered and suited for 
the harmony and safety of the people. 

His mother, being near her time, fancied in a dream that she 
was brought to bed of a lion, and a few days after was delivered 
of Pericles, in other respects perfectly formed, only his head was 
somewhat longish and out of proportion. For which reason almost 
all the images and statues that were made of him have the head 
covered with a helmet, the workmen apparently being willing not 
to expose him. The poets of Athens called him Schinocephalos, or 
squill-head, from schinos, a squill, or sea-onion. One of the comic 
poets, Cratinus, in the Chirons, tells us that — 

"Old Chronos once took queen Sedition to wife; 
Which two brought to life 
That tyrant far-famed, 
Whom the gods the supreme skull-compeller 2 have named." 

* Kephalegeretes, a play on Nephelegeretes, the cloud-compeller. 

38 plutarch's lives 

And, in the Nemesis, addresses him — 

"Come, Jove, thou head of gods." 

And a second, Teleclides, says, that now, in embarrassment with 
political difficulties, he sits in the city, — 

"Fainting underneath the load 
Of his own head; and now abroad, 
From his huge galley of a pate, 
Sends forth trouble to the state." 

And a third, Eupolis, in the comedy called the Demi, in a series of 
questions about each of the demagogues, whom he makes in the 
play to come up from hell, upon Pericles being named last, 
exclaims, — 

"And here by way of summary, now we've done, 
Behold, in brief, the heads of all in one." 

The master that taught him music, most authors are agreed, was 
Damon (whose name, they say, ought to be pronounced with the 
first syllable short). Though Aristotle tells us that he was thor- 
oughly practised in all accomplishments of this kind by Pythoclides. 
Damon, it is not unlikely, being a sophist, out of policy, sheltered 
himself under the profession of music to conceal from people in 
general his skill in other things, and under this pretence attended 
Pericles, the young athlete of politics, so to say, as his training- 
master in these exercises. Damon's lyre, however, did not prove 
altogether a successful blind; he was banished the country by ostra- 
cism for ten years, as a dangerous inter-meddler and a favorer of 
arbitrary power, and, by this means, gave the stage occasion to play 
upon him. As, for instance, Plato, the comic poet, introduces a 
character, who questions him — 

"Tell me, if you please, 
Since you're the Chiron who taught Pericles." 

Pericles, also, was a hearer of Zeno, the Eleatic, who treated of 
natural philosophy in the same manner as Parmenides did, but had 
also perfected himself in an art of his own for refuting and silencing 
opponents in argument; as Timon of Phlius describes it, — 


"Also the two-edged tongue of mighty Zeno, who, 
Say what one would, could argue it untrue." 

But he that saw most of Pericles, and furnished him most espe- 
cially with a weight and grandeur of sense, superior to all arts of 
popularity, and in general gave him his elevation and sublimity of 
purpose and of character, was Anaxagoras of Clazomena?; whom 
the men of those times called by the name of Nous, that is, mind, 
or intelligence, whether in admiration of the great and extraordi- 
nary gift he displayed for the science of nature, or because that he 
was the first of the philosophers who did not refer the first ordering 
of the world to fortune or chance, nor to necessity or compulsion, 
but to a pure, unadulterated intelligence, which in all other exist- 
ing mixed and compound things acts as a principle of discrimina- 
tion, and of combination of like with like. 

For this man, Pericles entertained an extraordinary esteem and 
admiration, and, filling himself with this lofty, and, as they call it, 
up-in-the-air sort of thought, derived hence not merely, as was natu- 
ral, elevation of purpose and dignity of language, raised far above 
the base and dishonest buffooneries of mob-eloquence, but, besides 
this, a composure of countenance, and a serenity and calmness in all 
his movements, which no occurrence whilst he was speaking could 
disturb, a sustained and even tone of voice, and various other ad- 
vantages of a similar kind, which produced the greatest effect on 
his hearers. Once, after being reviled and ill-spoken of all day long 
in his own hearing by some vile and abandoned fellow in the open 
market-place, where he was engaged in the despatch of some urgent 
affair, he continued his business in perfect silence, and in the eve- 
ning returned home composedly, the man still dogging him at the 
heels, and pelting him all the way with abuse and foul language; 
and stepping into his house, it being this time dark, he ordered 
one of his servants to take a light, and to go along with the man 
and see him safe home. Ion, it is true, the dramatic poet, says that 
Pericles's manner in company was somewhat over-assuming and 
pompous; and that into his high bearing there entered a good deal 
of slightingness and scorn of others; he reserves his commendation 
for Cimon's ease and pliancy and natural grace in society. Ion, how- 
ever, who must needs make virtue, like a show of tragedies, include 


some comic scenes, 3 we shall not altogether rely upon; Zeno used to 
bid those who called Pericles's gravity the affectation of a charlatan, 
to go and affect the like themselves; inasmuch as this mere counter- 
feiting might in time insensibly instil into them a real love and 
knowledge of those noble qualities. 

Nor were these the only advantages which Pericles derived from 
Anaxagoras's acquaintance; he seems also to have become, by his 
instructions, superior to that superstition with which an ignorant 
wonder at appearances, for example, in the heavens possesses the 
minds of people unacquainted with their causes, eager for the super- 
natural, and excitable through an inexperience which the knowledge 
of natural causes removes, replacing wild and timid superstition by 
the good hope and assurance of an intelligent piety. 

There is a story, that once Pericles had brought to him from a 
country farm of his, a ram's head with one horn, and that Lampon, 
the diviner, upon seeing the horn grow strong and solid out of the 
midst of the forehead, gave it as his judgment, that, there being at 
that time two potent factions, parties, or interests in the city, the 
one of Thucydides and the other of Pericles, the government would 
come about to that one of them in whose ground or estate this token 
or indication of fate had shown itself. But that Anaxagoras, cleav- 
ing the skull in sunder, showed to the bystanders that the brain 
had not filled up its natural place, but being oblong, like an egg, 
had collected from all parts of the vessel which contained it, in a 
point to that place from whence the root of the horn took its rise. 
And that, for that time, Anaxagoras was much admired for his 
explanation by those that were present; and Lampon no less a little 
while after, when Thucydides was overpowered, and the whole 
affairs of the state and government came into the hands of Pericles. 

And yet, in my opinion, it is no absurdity to say that they were 
both in the right, both natural philosopher and diviner, one justly 
detecting the cause of this event, by which it was produced, the other 
the end for which it was designed. For it was the business of the 
one to find out and give an account of what it was made, and in 
what manner and by what means it grew as it did; and of the other 

' Three tragedies represented in succession were followed by a burlesque, the so- 
called satyric drama, which has no connection, it must be remembered, with the moral 
satire of the Romans, but takes its name from the grotesque satyrs of the Greek woods. 


to foretell to what end and purpose it was so made, and what it 
might mean or portend. Those who say that to find out the cause 
of a prodigy is in effect to destroy its supposed signification as such, 
do not take notice that, at the same time, together with divine prodi- 
gies, they also do away with signs and signals of human art and 
concert, as, for instance, the clashings of quoits, fire-beacons, and 
the shadows on sun-dials, every one of which things has its cause, 
and by that cause and contrivance is a sign of something else. But 
these are subjects, perhaps, that would better befit another place. 

Pericles, while yet but a young man, stood in considerable appre- 
hension of the people, as he was thought in face and figure to be 
very like the tyrant Pisistratus, and those of great age remarked 
upon the sweetness of his voice, and his volubility and rapidity in 
speaking, and were struck with amazement at the resemblance. 
Reflecting, too, that he had a considerable estate, and was descended 
of a noble family, and had friends of great influence, he was fearful 
all this might bring him to be banished as a dangerous person; and 
for this reason meddled not at all with state affairs, but in military 
service showed himself of a brave and intrepid nature. But when 
Aristides was now dead, and Themistocles driven out, and Cimon 
was for the most part kept abroad by the expeditions he made in 
parts out of Greece, Pericles, seeing things in this posture, now 
advanced and took his side, not with the rich and few, but with 
the many and poor, contrary to his natural bent, which was far 
from democratical; but, most likely, fearing he might fall under 
suspicion of aiming at arbitrary power, and seeing Cimon on the 
side of the aristocracy, and much beloved by the better and more 
distinguished people, he joined the party of the people, with a view 
at once both to secure himself and procure means against Cimon. 

He immediately entered, also, on quite a new course of life and 
management of his time. For he was never seen to walk in any 
street but that which led to the market-place and the council-hall, 
and he avoided invitations of friends to supper, and all friendly 
visiting and intercourse whatever; in all the time he had to do with 
the public, which was not a little, he was never known to have 
gone to any of his friends to a supper, except that once when his 
near kinsman Euryptolemus married, he remained present till the 


ceremony of the drink-offering, 4 and then immediately rose from 
table and went his way. For these friendly meetings are very quick 
to defeat any assumed superiority, and in intimate familiarity an 
exterior of gravity is hard to maintain. Real excellence, indeed, is 
most recognized when most openly looked into; and in really good 
men, nothing which meets the eyes of external observers so truly 
deserves their admiration, as their daily common life does that of 
their nearer friends. Pericles, however, to avoid any feeling of com- 
monness, or any satiety on the part of the people, presented himself 
at intervals only, not speaking to every business, nor at all times 
coming into the assembly, but, as Critolaus says, reserving himself, 
like the Salaminian galley, 5 for great occasions, while matters of 
lesser importance were despatched by friends or other speakers 
under his direction. And of this number we are told Ephialtes 
made one, who broke the power of the council of Areopagus, giving 
the people, according to Plato's expression, so copious and so strong 
a draught of liberty, that, growing wild and unruly, like an unman- 
ageable horse, it, as the comic poets say, — 

-got beyond all keeping in, 

Champing at Euboea, and among the islands leaping in." 

The style of speaking most consonant to his form of life and the 
dignity of his views he found, so to say, in the tones of that instru- 
ment with which Anaxagoras had furnished him; of his teaching 
he continually availed himself, and deepened the colors of rhetoric 
with the dye of natural science. For having, in addition to his great 
natural genius, attained, by the study of nature, to use the words 
of the divine Plato, this height of intelligence, and this universal 
consummating power, and drawing hence whatever might be of 
advantage to him in the art of speaking, he showed himself far 
superior to all others. Upon which account, they say, he had his 
nickname given him, though some are of opinion he was named 
the Olympian from the public buildings with which he adorned the 
city; and others again, from his great power in public affairs, 

4 The spondai, or libations, which, like the modern grace, concluded the meal, and 
were followed by the dessert. 

* The Salaminia and the Paralus were the two sacred state-galleys of Athens, used 
only on special missions. 


whether of war or peace. Nor is it unlikely that the confluence of 
many attributes may have conferred it on him. However, the come- 
dies represented at the time, which, both in good earnest and in 
merriment, let fly many hard words at him, plainly show that he 
got that appellation especially from his speaking; they speak of his 
"thundering and lightning" when he harangued the people, and of 
his wielding a dreadful thunderbolt in his tongue. 

A saying also of Thucydides, the son of Melesias, stands on rec- 
ord, spoken by him by way of pleasantry upon Pericles's dexterity. 
Thucydides was one of the noble and distinguished citizens, and 
had been his greatest opponent; and, when Archidamus, the king 
of the Lacedaemonians, asked him whether he or Pericles were the 
better wrestler, he made this answer: "When I," said he, "have 
thrown him and given him a fair fall, by persisting that he had 
no fall, he gets the better of me, and makes the bystanders, in spite 
of their own eyes, believe him." The truth, however, is, that Pericles 
himself was very careful what and how he was to speak, insomuch 
that, whenever he went up to the hustings, he prayed the gods that 
no one word might unawares slip from him unsuitable to the matter 
and the occasion. 

He has left nothing in writing behind him, except some decrees; 
and there are but very few of his sayings recorded; one, for exam- 
ple, is, that he said iEgina must, like a gathering in a man's eye, 
be removed from Piraeus; and another, that he said he saw already 
war moving on its way towards them out of Peloponnesus. Again, 
when on a time Sophocles, who was his fellow-commissioner in the 
generalship, was going on board with him, and praised the beauty 
of a youth they met with in the way to the ship, "Sophocles," said 
he, "a general ought not only to have clean hands, but also clean 
eyes." And Stesimbrotus tells us, that, in his encomium on those 
who fell in battle at Samos, he said they were become immortal, as 
the gods were. "For," said he, "we do not see them themselves, 
but only by the honors we pay them, and by the benefits they do us, 
attribute to them immortality; and the like attributes belong also 
to those that die in the service of their country." 

Since Thucydides describes the rule of Pericles as an aristocrati- 
cal government, that went by the name of a democracy, but was, in- 

44 plutarch's lives 

deed, the supremacy of a single great man, while many others say, on 
the contrary, that by him the common people were first encouraged 
and led on to such evils as appropriations of subject territory; allow- 
ances for attending theatres, payments for performing public duties, 
and by these bad habits were, under the influence of his public meas- 
ures, changed from a sober, thrifty people, that maintained them- 
selves by their own labors, to lovers of expense, intemperance, and 
license, let us examine the cause of this change by the actual matters 
of fact. 

At the first, as has been said, when he set himself against Cimon's 
great authority, he did caress the people. Finding himself come 
short of his competitor in wealth and money, by which advantages 
the other was enabled to take care of the poor, inviting every day 
some one or other of the citizens that was in want to supper, and 
bestowing clothes on the aged people, and breaking down the 
hedges and enclosures of his grounds, that all that would might freely 
gather what fruit they pleased, Pericles, thus outdone in popular 
arts, by the advice of one Damonides of CEa, as Aristotle states, 
turned to the distribution of the public moneys; and in a short time 
having bought the people over, what with moneys allowed for 
shows and for service on juries, and what with other forms of pay 
and largess, he made use of them against the council of Areopagus, 
of which he himself was no member, as having never been ap- 
pointed by lot either chief archon, or lawgiver, or king, or captain.' 
For from of old these offices were conferred on persons by lot, and 
they who had acquitted themselves duly in the discharge of them 
were advanced to the court of Areopagus. And so Pericles, having 
secured his power and interest with the populace, directed the exer- 
tions of his party against this council with such success, that most 
of those causes and matters which had been used to be tried there, 
were, by the agency of Ephialtes, removed from its cognizance. 
Cimon, also, was banished by ostracism as a favorer of the Lace- 
daemonians and a hater of the people, though in wealth and noble 

6 Eponymus, Thesmothetes, Basilcus, Polemarchus; titles of the different archons, 
the chief civic dignitaries, who, after the period of the Persian wars, were appointed, 
not by election, but simply by lot, from the whole body of citizens. Hence, at this time, 
the importance of the board of the ten stralcgi, or generals who were elected, and were 
always persons of real or supposed capacity. 


birth he was among the first, and had won several most glorious 
victories over the barbarians, and had rilled the city with money 
and spoils of war; as is recorded in the history of his life. So vast 
an authority had Pericles obtained among the people. 

The ostracism was limited by law to ten years; but the Lacedaemo- 
nians, in the mean time, entering with a great army into the terri- 
tory of Tanagra, and the Athenians going out against them, Cimon, 
coming from his banishment before his time was out, put himself 
in arms and array with those of his fellow-citizens that were of his 
own tribe, and desired by his deeds to wipe off the suspicion of his 
favoring the Lacedaemonians, by venturing his own person along 
with his countrymen. But Pericles's friends, gathering in a body, 
forced him to retire as a banished man. For which cause also Peri- 
cles seems to have exerted himself more in that than in any battle, 
and to have been conspicuous above all for his exposure of himself 
to danger. All Cimon's friends, also, to a man, fell together side 
by side, whom Pericles had accused with him of taking part with 
the Lacedaemonians. Defeated in this battle on their own fron- 
tiers, and expecting a new and perilous attack with return of spring, 
the Athenians now felt regret and sorrow for the loss of Cimon, 
and repentance for their expulsion of him. Pericles, being sensible 
of their feelings, did not hesitate or delay to gratify it, and himself 
made the motion for recalling him home. He, upon his return, con- 
cluded a peace betwixt the two cities; for the Lacedaemonians enter- 
tained as kindly feelings towards him as they did the reverse towards 
Pericles and the other popular leaders. 

Yet some there are who say that Pericles did not propose the order 
for Cimon's return till some private articles of agreement had been 
made between them, and this by means of Elpinice, Cimon's sister; 
that Cimon, namely, should go out to sea with a fleet of two hun- 
dred ships, and be commander-in-chief abroad, with a design to 
reduce the king of Persia's territories, and that Pericles should have 
the power at home. 

This Elpinice, it was thought, had before this time procured 
some favor for her brother Cimon at Pericles's hands, and induced 
him to be more remiss and gentle in urging the charge when Cimon 
was tried for his life; for Pericles was one of the committee 

46 plutarch's lives 

appointed by the commons to plead against him. And when Elpinice 
came and besought him in her brother's behalf, he answered, with 
a smile, "O Elpinice, you are too old a woman to undertake such 
business as this." But, when he appeared to impeach him, he stood 
up but once to speak, merely to acquit himself of his commission, 
and went out of court, having done Cimon the least prejudice of 
any of his accusers. 

How, then, can one believe Idomeneus, who charges Pericles as 
if he had by treachery procured the murder of Ephialtes, the popu- 
lar statesman, one who was his friend, and of his own party in all 
his political course, out of jealousy, forsooth, and envy of his great 
reputation? This historian, it seems, having raked up these stories, 
I know not whence, has befouled with them a man who, perchance, 
was not altogether free from fault or blame, but yet had a noble 
spirit, and a soul that was bent on honor; and where such qualities 
are, there can no such cruel and brutal passion find harbor or gain 
admittance. As to Ephialtes, the truth of the story, as Aristotle has 
told it, is this: that having made himself formidable to the oligarch- 
ical party, by being an uncompromising asserter of the people's 
rights in calling to account and prosecuting those who any way 
wronged them, his enemies, lying in wait for him, by the means of 
Aristodicus the Tanagrxan, privately despatched him. 

Cimon, while he was admiral, ended his days in the Isle of 
Cyprus. And the aristocratical party, seeing that Pericles was al- 
ready before this grown to be the greatest and foremost man of all 
the city, but nevertheless wishing there should be somebody set up 
against him, to blunt and turn the edge of his power, that it might 
not altogether prove a monarchy, put forward Thucydides of Alo- 
pece, a discreet person, and a near kinsman of Cimon's, to conduct 
the opposition against him; who, indeed, though less skilled in war- 
like affairs than Cimon was, yet was better versed in speaking and 
political business, and keeping close guard in the city, and engaging 
with Pericles on the hustings, in a short time brought the govern- 
ment to an equality of parties. For he would not suffer those who 
were called the honest and good (persons of worth and distinction) 
to be scattered up and down and mix themselves and be lost among 
the populace, as formerly, diminishing and obscuring their supe- 


riority amongst the masses; but taking them apart by themselves 
and uniting them in one body, by their combined weight he was 
able, as it were upon the balance, to make a counterpoise to the other 

For, indeed, there was from the beginning a sort of concealed 
split, or seam, as it might be in a piece of iron, marking the different 
popular and aristocratical tendencies; but the open rivalry and con- 
tention of these two opponents made the gash deep, and severed the 
city into the two parties of the people and the few. And so Peri- 
cles, at that time more than at any other, let loose the reins to the 
people, and made his policy subservient to their pleasure, contriving 
continually to have some great public show or solemnity, some ban- 
quet, or some procession or other in the town to please them, coax- 
ing his countrymen like children, with such delights and pleasures 
as were not, however, unedifying. Besides that every year he sent 
out three-score galleys, on board of which there went numbers of 
the citizens, who were in pay eight months, learning at the same 
time and practising the art of seamanship. 

He sent, moreover, a thousand of them into the Chersonese as 
planters, to share the land among them by lot, and five hundred 
more into the isle of Naxos, and half that number to Andros, a 
thousand into Thrace to dwell among the Bisaltae, and others into 
Italy, when the city Sybaris, which now was called Thurii, was to 
be repeopled. And this he did to ease and discharge the city of an 
idle, and, by reason of their idleness, a busy, meddling crowd of 
people; and at the same time to meet the necessities and restore the 
fortunes of the poor townsmen, and to intimidate, also, and check 
their allies from attempting any change, by posting such garrisons, 
as it were, in the midst of them. 

That which gave most pleasure and ornament to the city of 
Athens, and the greatest admiration and even astonishment to all 
strangers, and that which now is Greece's only evidence that the 
power she boasts of and her ancient wealth are no romance or idle 
story, was his construction of the public and sacred buildings. Yet 
this was that of all his actions in the government which his enemies 
most looked askance upon and cavilled at in the popular assem- 
blies, crying out how that the commonwealth of Athens had lost its 

48 plutarch's lives 

reputation and was ill-spoken of abroad for removing the common 
treasure of the Greeks from the isle of Delos into their own cus- 
tody; and how that their fairest excuse for so doing, namely, that 
they took it away for fear the barbarians should seize it, and on 
purpose to secure it in a safe place, this Pericles had made unavail- 
able, and how that "Greece cannot but resent it as an insufferable 
affront, and consider herself to be tyrannized over openly, when she 
sees the treasure, which was contributed by her upon a necessity 
for the war, wantonly lavished out by us upon our city, to gild her 
all over, and to adorn and set her forth, as it were some vain 
woman, hung round with precious stones and figures and temples, 
which cost a world of money." 

Pericles, on the other hand, informed the people, that they were 
in no way obliged to give any account of those moneys to their 
allies, so long as they maintained their defence, and kept off the 
barbarians from attacking them; while in the meantime they did 
not so much as supply one horse or man or ship, but only found 
money for the service; "which money," said he, "is not theirs that 
give it, but theirs that receive it, if so be they perform the conditions 
upon which they receive it." And that it was good reason, that, now 
the city was sufficiently provided and stored with all things necessary 
for the war, they should convert the overplus of its wealth to such 
undertakings, as would hereafter, when completed, give them 
eternal honor, and, for the present, while in process, freely supply 
all the inhabitants with plenty. With their variety of workmanship 
and of occasions for service, which summon all arts and trades and 
require all hands to be employed about them, they do actually put 
the whole city, in a manner, into state-pay; while at the same time 
she is both beautified and maintained by herself. For as those who 
are of age and strength for war are provided for and maintained 
in the armaments abroad by their pay out of the public stock, so, 
it being his desire and design that the undisciplined mechanic multi- 
tude that stayed at home should not go without their share of pub- 
lic salaries, and yet should not have them given them for sitting 
still and doing nothing, to that end he thought fit to bring in 
among them, with the approbation of the people, these vast projects 
of buildings and designs of works, that would be of some continu- 


ance before they were finished, and would give employment to 
numerous arts, so that the part of the people that stayed at home 
might, no less than those that were at sea or in garrisons or on ex- 
peditions, have a fair and just occasion of receiving the benefit and 
having their share of the public moneys. 

The materials were stone, brass, ivory, gold, ebony, cypress-wood; 
and the arts or trades that wrought and fashioned them were smiths 
and carpenters, moulders, founders and braziers, stone-cutters, dyers, 
goldsmiths, ivory-workers, painters, embroiderers, turners; those 
again that conveyed them to the town for use, merchants and mari- 
ners and shipmasters by sea, and by land, cartwrights, cattle-breed- 
ers, waggoners, rope-makers, flax-workers, shoe-makers and leather- 
dressers, road-makers, miners. And every trade in the same nature, 
as a captain in an army has his particular company of soldiers under 
him, had its own hired company of journeymen and laborers be- 
longing to it banded together as in array, to be as it were the instru- 
ment and body for the performance of the service. Thus, to say all 
in a word, the occasions and services of these public works distrib- 
uted plenty through every age and condition. 

As then grew the works up, no less stately in size than exquisite 
in form, the workmen striving to outvie the material and the de- 
sign with the beauty of their workmanship, yet the most wonder- 
ful thing of all was the rapidity of their execution. Undertakings, 
any one of which singly might have required, they thought, for 
their completion, several successions and ages of men, were every 
one of them accomplished in the height and prime of one man's 
political service. Although they say, too, that Zeuxis once, having 
heard Agatharchus the painter boast of despatching his work with 
speed and ease, replied, "I take a long time." For ease and speed 
in doing a thing do not give the work lasting solidity or exactness 
of beauty; the expenditure of time allowed to a man's pains before- 
hand for the production of a thing is repaid by way of interest with 
a vital force for its preservation when once produced. For which 
reason Pericles's works are especially admired, as having been 
made quickly, to last long. For every particular piece of his work 
was immediately, even at that time, for its beauty and elegance, 
antique; and yet in its vigor and freshness looks to this day as if 

50 plutarch's lives 

it were just executed. There is a sort of bloom of newness upon 
those works of his, preserving them from the touch of time, as if 
they had some perennial spirit and undying vitality mingled in the 
composition of them. 

Phidias had the oversight of all the works, and was surveyor- 
general, though upon the various portions other great masters and 
workmen were employed. For Callicrates and Ictinus built the 
Parthenon; the chapel at Eleusis, where the mysteries were cele- 
brated, was begun by Corcebus, who erected the pillars that stand 
upon the floor or pavement, and joined them to the architraves; and 
after his death Metagenes of Xypete added the frieze and the upper 
line of columns; Xenocles of Cholargus roofed or arched the lantern 
on the top of the temple of Castor and Pollux; and the long wall, 
which Socrates says he himself heard Pericles propose to the people, 
was undertaken by Callicrates. This work Cratinus ridicules, as 
long in finishing, — 

" 'Tis long since Pericles, if words would do it, 
Talk'd up the wall; yet adds not one mite to it." 

The Odeum, or music-room, which in its interior was full of seats 
and ranges of pillars, and outside had its roof made to slope and 
descend from one single point at the top, was constructed, we are 
told, in imitation of the king of Persia's Pavilion; this likewise by 
Pericles's order; which Cratinus again, in his comedy called The 
Thracian Women, made an occasion of raillery, — 

"So, we see here, 
Jupiter Long-pate Pericles appear, 
Since ostracism time, he's laid aside his head, 
And wears the new Odeum in its stead." 

Pericles, also, eager for distinction, then first obtained the decree 
for a contest in musical skill to be held yearly at the Panathensea, 
and he himself, being chosen judge, arranged the order and method 
in which the competitors should sing and play on the flute and on 
the harp. And both at that time, and at other times also, they sat 
in this music-room to see and hear all such trials of skill. 

The propylxa, or entrances to the Acropolis, were finished in five 
years' time, Mnesicles being the principal architect. A strange acci- 


dent happened in the course of building, which showed that the 
goddess was not averse to the work, but was aiding and cooperating 
to bring it to perfection. One of the artificers, the quickest and the 
handiest workman among them all, with a slip of his foot fell down 
from a great height, and lay in a miserable condition, the physicians 
having no hopes of his recovery. When Pericles was in distress 
about this, Minerva appeared to him at night in a dream, and or- 
dered a course of treatment, which he applied, and in a short time 
and with great ease cured the man. And upon this occasion it was 
that he set up a brass statue of Minerva, surnamed Health, in the 
citadel near the altar, which they say was there before. But it was 
Phidias who wrought the goddess's image in gold, and he has his 
name inscribed on the pedestal as the workman of it; and indeed 
the whole work in a manner was under his charge, and he had, as 
we have said already, the oversight over all the artists and work- 
men, through Pericles's friendship for him; and this, indeed, made 
him much envied, and his patron shamefully slandered with stories, 
as if Phidias were in the habit of receiving, for Pericles's use, free- 
born women that came to see the works. The comic writers of the 
town, when they had got hold of this story, made much of it, and 
bespattered him with all the ribaldry they could invent, charging 
him falsely with the wife of Menippus, one who was his friend and 
served as lieutenant under him in the wars; and with the birds 
kept by Pyrilampes, an acquaintance of Pericles, who, they pre- 
tended, used to give presents of peacocks to Pericles's female friends. 
And how can one wonder at any number of strange assertions from 
men whose whole lives were devoted to mockery, and who were 
ready at any time to sacrifice the reputation of their superiors to 
vulgar envy and spite, as to some evil genius, when even Stesim- 
brotus the Thasian has dared to lay to the charge of Pericles a 
monstrous and fabulous piece of criminality with his son's wife? 
So very difficult a matter is it to trace and find out the truth of any 
thing by history, when, on the one hand, those who afterwards 
write it find long periods of time intercepting their view, and, on 
the other hand, the contemporary records of any actions and lives, 
partly through envy and ill-will, pardy through favor and flattery, 
pervert and distort truth. 


When the orators, who sided with Thucydides and his party, 
were at one time crying out, as their custom was, against Pericles, 
as one who squandered away the public money, and made havoc 
of the state revenues, he rose in the open assembly and put the 
question to the people, whether they thought that he had laid out 
much; and they saying, "Too much, a great deal," "Then," said he, 
"since it is so, let the cost not go to your account, but to mine; and 
let the inscription upon the buildings stand in my name." When 
they heard him say thus, whether it were out of a surprise to see 
the greatness of his spirit, or out of emulation of the glory of the 
works, they cried aloud, bidding him to spend on, and lay out what 
he thought fit from the public purse, and to spare no cost, till all 
were finished. 

At length, coming to a final contest with Thucydides, which of 
the two should ostracize the other out of the country, and having 
gone through this peril, he drew his antagonist out, and broke up 
the confederacy that had been organized against him. So that now 
all schism and division being at an end, and the city brought to 
evenness and unity, he got all Athens and all affairs that pertained 
to the Athenians into his own hands, their tributes, their armies, 
and their galleys, the islands, the sea, and their wide-extended power, 
partly over other Greeks and partly over barbarians, and all that 
empire, which they possessed, founded and fortified upon subject 
nations and royal friendships and alliances. 

After this he was no longer the same man he had been before, 
nor as tame and gentle and familiar as formerly with the populace, 
so as readily to yield to their pleasures and to comply with the de- 
sires of the multitude, as a steersman shifts with the winds. Quit- 
ting that loose, remiss, and, in some cases, licentious court of the 
popular will, he turned those soft and flowery modulations to the 
austerity of aristocratical and regal rule; and employing this up- 
rightly and undeviatingly for the country's best interests, he was 
able generally to lead the people along, with their own wills and 
consents, by persuading and showing them what was to be done; 
and sometimes, too, urging and pressing them forward extremely 
against their will, he made them, whether they would or no, yield 
submission to what was for their advantage. In which, to say the 
truth, he did but like a skilful physician, who, in a complicated and 


chronic disease, as he sees occasion, at one while allows his patient 
the moderate use of such things as please him, at another while 
gives him keen pains and drugs to work the cure. For there aris- 
ing and growing up, as was natural, all manner of distempered 
feelings among a people which had so vast a command and domin- 
ion, he alone, as a great master, knowing how to handle and deal 
fidy with each one of them, and, in an especial manner, making 
that use of hopes and fears, as his two chief rudders, with the one to 
check the career of their confidence at any time, with the other to 
raise them up and cheer them when under any discouragement, 
plainly showed by this, that rhetoric, or the art of speaking, is, in 
Plato's language, the government of the souls of men, and that her 
chief business is to address the affections and passions, which are 
as it were the strings and keys to the soul, and require a skilful and 
careful touch to be played on as they should be. The source of this 
predominance was not barely his power of language, but, as Thucy- 
dides assures us, the reputation of his life, and the confidence felt 
in his character; his manifest freedom from every kind of corrup- 
tion, and superiority to all considerations of money. Notwithstand- 
ing he had made the city of Athens, which was great of itself, as 
great and rich as can be imagined, and though he were himself 
in power and interest more than equal to many kings and absolute 
rulers, who some of them also bequeathed by will their power to 
their children, he, for his part, did not make the patrimony his 
father left him greater than it was by one drachma. 

Thucydides, indeed, gives a plain statement of the greatness of 
his power; and the comic poets, in their spiteful manner, more than 
hint at it, styling his companions and friends the new Pisistratidae, 
and calling on him to abjure any intention of usurpation, as one 
whose eminence was too great to be any longer proportionable to 
and compatible with a democracy or popular government. And 
Teleclides says the Athenians had surrendered up to him — 

"The tribute of the cities, and with them, the cities too, to do with them 

as he pleases, and undo; 
To build up, if he likes, stone walls around a town; and again, if so he 

likes, to pull them down; 
Their treaties and alliances, power, empire, peace, and war, their wealth 

and their success forevermore." 


Nor was all this the luck of some happy occasion; nor was it the 
mere bloom and grace of a policy that flourished for a season; but 
having for forty years together maintained the first place among 
statesmen such as Ephialtes and Leocrates and Myronides and Ci- 
mon and Tolmides and Thucydides were, after the defeat and ban- 
ishment of Thucydides, for no less than fifteen years longer, in the 
exercise of one continuous unintermitted command in the office, to 
which he was annually reelected, of General, he preserved his in- 
tegrity unspotted; though otherwise he was not altogether idle or 
careless in looking after his pecuniary advantage; his paternal es- 
tate, which of right belonged to him, he so ordered that it might 
neither through negligence be wasted or lessened, nor yet, being 
so full of business as he was, cost him any great trouble or time with 
taking care of it; and put it into such a way of management as he 
thought to be the most easy for himself, and the most exact. All 
his yearly products and profits he sold together in a lump, and sup- 
plied his household needs afterward by buying every thing that he 
or his family wanted out of the market. Upon which account, his 
children, when they grew to age, were not well pleased with his 
management, and the women that lived with him were treated 
with little cost, and complained of his way of housekeeping, where 
every thing was ordered and set down from day to day, and reduced 
to the greatest exactness; since there was not there, as is usual in a 
great family and a plentiful estate, any thing to spare, or over and 
above; but all that went out or came in, all disbursements and all 
receipts, proceeded as it were by number and measure. His manager 
in all this was a single servant, Evangelus by name, a man either 
naturally gifted or instructed by Pericles so as to excel every one 
in this art of domestic economy. 

All this, in truth, was very little in harmony with Anaxagoras's 
wisdom; if, indeed, it be true that he, by a kind of divine impulse 
and greatness of spirit, voluntarily quitted his house, and left his 
land to lie fallow and to be grazed by sheep like a common. But 
the life of a contemplative philosopher and that of an active states- 
man are, I presume, not the same thing; for the one merely em- 
ploys, upon great and good objects of thought, an intelligence that 
requires no aid of instruments nor supply of any external mate- 


rials; whereas the other, who tempers and applies his virtue to 
human uses, may have occasion for affluence, not as a matter of mere 
necessity, but as a noble thing; which was Pericles's case, who 
relieved numerous poor citizens. 

However, there is a story, that Anaxagoras himself, while Peri- 
cles was taken up with public affairs, lay neglected, and that, now 
being grown old, he wrapped himself up with a resolution to die 
for want of food; which being by chance brought to Pericles's ear, 
he was horror-struck, and instantly ran thither, and used all the 
arguments and entreaties he could to him, lamenting not so much 
Anaxagoras's condition as his own, should he lose such a coun- 
sellor as he had found him to be; and that, upon this, Anaxagoras 
unfolded his robe, and showing himself, made answer: "Pericles," 
said he, "even those who have occasion for a lamp supply it with 

The Lacedarmonians beginning to show themselves troubled at 
the growth of the Athenian power, Pericles, on the other hand, to 
elevate the people's spirit yet more, and to raise them to the thought 
of great actions, proposed a decree, to summon all the Greeks in 
what part soever, whether of Europe or Asia, every city, little as 
well as great, to send their deputies to Athens to a general assembly, 
or convention, there to consult and advise concerning the Greek 
temples which the barbarians had burnt down, and the sacrifices 
which were due from them upon vows they had made to their gods 
for the safety of Greece when they fought against the barbarians; 
and also concerning the navigation of the sea, that they might 
henceforward all of them pass to and fro and trade securely, and 
be at peace among themselves. 

Upon this errand, there were twenty men, of such as were above 
fifty years of age, sent by commission; five to summon the Ionians 
and Dorians in Asia, and the islanders as far as Lesbos and Rhodes; 
five to visit all the places in the Hellespont and Thrace, up to 
Byzantium; and other five besides these to go to Bceotia and Phocis 
and Peloponnesus, and from hence to pass through the Locrians 
over to the neighboring continent, as far as Acarnania and Am- 
bracia; and the rest to take their course through Eubcea to the 
CEtaeans and the Malian Gulf, and to the Achxans of Phthiotis and 

56 plutarch's lives 

the Thessalians; all of them to treat with the people as they passed, 
and to persuade them to come and take their part in the debates for 
settling the peace and jointly regulating the affairs of Greece. 

Nothing was effected, nor did the cities meet by their deputies, 
as was desired; the Lacedaemonians, as it is said, crossing the design 
underhand, and the attempt being disappointed and baffled first 
in Peloponnesus. I thought fit, however, to introduce the men- 
tion of it, to show the spirit of the man and the greatness of his 

In his military conduct, he gained a great reputation for wari- 
ness; he would not by his good-will engage in any fight which had 
much uncertainty or hazard; he did not envy the glory of generals 
whose rash adventures fortune favored with brilliant success, how- 
ever they were admired by others; nor did he think them worthy 
his imitation, but always used to say to his citizens that, so far as 
lay in his power, they should continue immortal, and live forever. 
Seeing Tolmides, the son of Tolmarus, upon the confidence of his 
former successes, and flushed with the honor his military actions 
had procured him, making preparation to attack the Boeotians in 
their own country, when there was no likely opportunity, and that 
he had prevailed with the bravest and most enterprising of the 
youth to enlist themselves as volunteers in the service, who besides 
his other force made up a thousand, he endeavored to withhold 
him and to advise him from it in the public assembly, telling him in a 
memorable saying of his, which still goes about, that, if he would 
not take Pericles's advice, yet he would not do amiss to wait and 
be ruled by time, the wisest counsellor of all. This saying, at that 
time, was but slightly commended; but within a few days after, 
when news was brought that Tolmides himself had been defeated 
and slain in battle near Coronea, and that many brave citizens had 
fallen with him, it gained him great repute as well as good-will 
among the people, for wisdom and for love of his countrymen. 

But of all his expeditions, that to the Chersonese gave most sat- 
isfaction and pleasure, having proved the safety of the Greeks who 
inhabited there. For not only by carrying along with him a thou- 
sand fresh citizens of Athens he gave new strength and vigor to the 
cities, but also by belting the neck of land, which joins the penin- 


sula to the continent, with bulwarks and forts from sea to sea, he 
put a stop to the inroads of the Thracians, who lay all about the 
Chersonese, and closed the door against a continual and grievous 
war, with which that country had been long harassed, lying exposed 
to the encroachments and influx of barbarous neighbors, and groan- 
ing under the evils of a predatory population both upon and within 
its borders. 

Nor was he less admired and talked of abroad for his sailing 
round the Peloponnesus, having set out from Pegac, or The Foun- 
tains, the port of Megara, with a hundred galleys. For he not only 
laid waste the sea-coast, as Tolmides had done before, but also, ad- 
vancing far up into main land with the soldiers he had on board, 
by the terror of his appearance drove many within their walls; and 
at Nemea, with main force, routed and raised a trophy over the 
Sicyonians, who stood their ground and joined battle with him. 
And having taken on board a supply of soldiers into the galleys, out 
of Achaia, then in league with Athens, he crossed with the fleet 
to the opposite continent, and, sailing along by the mouth of the 
river Achelous, overran Acarnania, and shut up the CEniada: within 
their city walls, and having ravaged and wasted their country, 
weighed anchor for home with the double advantage of having 
shown himself formidable to his enemies, and at the same time 
safe and energetic to his fellow-citizens; for there was not so much 
as any chance-miscarriage that happened, the whole voyage through, 
to those who were under his charge. 

Entering also the Euxine Sea with a large and finely equipped 
fleet, he obtained for the Greek cities any new arrangements they 
wanted, and entered into friendly relations with them; and to the 
barbarous nations, and kings and chiefs round about them, dis- 
played the greatness of the power of the Athenians, their perfect 
ability and confidence to sail wherever they had a mind, and to 
bring the whole sea under their control. He left the Sinopians thir- 
teen ships of war, with soldiers under the command of Lamachus, 
to assist them against Timesileus the tyrant; and when he and his 
accomplices had been thrown out, obtained a decree that six hun- 
dred of the Athenians that were willing should sail to Sinope and 
plant themselves there with the Sinopians, sharing among them 

58 plutarch's lives 

the houses and land which the tyrant and his party had previously 

But in other things he did not comply with the giddy impulses 
of the citizens, nor quit his own resolutions to follow their fancies, 
when, carried away with the thought of their strength and great suc- 
cess, they were eager to interfere again in Egypt, and to disturb the 
king of Persia's maritime dominions. Nay, there were a good many 
who were, even then, possessed with that unblest and inauspicious 
passion for Sicily, which afterward the orators of Alcibiades's party 
blew up into a flame. There were some also who dreamt of Tuscany 
and of Carthage, and not without plausible reason in their present 
large dominion and the prosperous course of their affairs. 

But Pericles curbed this passion for foreign conquest, and un- 
sparingly pruned and cut down their ever busy fancies for a multi- 
tude of undertakings; and directed their power for the most part to 
securing and consolidating what they had already got, supposing it 
would be quite enough for them to do, if they could keep the Lace- 
daemonians in check; to whom he entertained all along a sense of 
opposition; which, as upon many other occasions, so he particularly 
showed by what he did in the time of the holy war. The Lacedae- 
monians, having gone with an army to Delphi, restored Apollo's 
temple, which the Phocians had got into their possession, to the 
Delphians; immediately after their departure, Pericles, with another 
army, came and restored the Phocians. And the Lacedaemonians 
having engraven the record of their privilege of consulting the 
oracle before others, which the Delphians gave them, upon the fore- 
head of the brazen wolf which stands there, he, also, having received 
from the Phocians the like privilege for the Athenians, had it cut 
upon the same wolf of brass on his right side. 

That he did well and wisely in thus restraining the exertions of 
the Athenians within the compass of Greece, the events themselves 
that happened afterward bore sufficient witness. For, in the first 
place, the Eubceans revolted, against whom he passed over with 
forces; and then, immediately after, news came that the Megarians 
were turned their enemies, and a hostile army was upon the bor- 
ders of Attica, under the conduct of Plistoanax, king of the Lace- 
daemonians. Wherefore Pericles came with his army back again 


in all haste out of Eubcea, to meet the war which threatened at 
home; and did not venture to engage a numerous and brave army 
eager for battle; but perceiving that Plistoanax was a very young 
man, and governed himself mostly by the counsel and advice of 
Cleandrides, whom the ephors had sent with him, by reason of 
his youth, to be a kind of guardian and assistant to him, he privately 
made trial of this man's integrity, and, in a short time, having cor- 
rupted him with money, prevailed with him to withdraw the Pelo- 
ponnesians out of Attica. When the army had retired and dispersed 
into their several states, the Lacedaemonians in anger fined their 
king in so large a sum of money, that, unable to pay it, he quitted 
Lacedxmon; while Cleandrides fled, and had sentence of death 
passed upon him in his absence. This was the father of Gylippus, 
who overpowered the Athenians in Sicily. And it seems that this 
covetousness was an hereditary disease transmitted from father to 
son; for Gylippus also afterwards was caught in foul practices, and 
expelled from Sparta for it. But this we have told at large in the 
account of Lysander. 

When Pericles, in giving up his accounts of this expedition, 
stated a disbursement of ten talents, as laid out upon fit occasion, 
the people, without any question, nor troubling themselves to in- 
vestigate the mystery, freely allowed of it. And some historians, 
in which number is Theophrastus the philosopher, have given it as 
a truth that Pericles every year used to send privately the sum of 
ten talents to Sparta, with which he complimented those in office, 
to keep off the war; not to purchase peace neither, but time, that 
he might prepare at leisure, and be the better able to carry on war 

Immediately after this, turning his forces against the revolters, 
and passing over into the island of Eubcea with fifty sail of ships 
and five thousand men in arms, he reduced their cities, and drove 
out the citizens of the Chalcidians, called Hippobota;, horse-feeders, 
the chief persons for wealth and reputation among them; and re- 
moving all the Histizans out of the country, brought in a planta- 
tion of Athenians in their room; making them his one example of 
severity, because they had captured an Attic ship and killed all on 

60 plutarch's lives 

After this, having made a truce between the Athenians and Lace- 
daemonians for thirty years, he ordered, by public decree, the expe- 
dition against the Isle of Samos, on the ground, that, when they 
were bid to leave off their war with the Milesians, they had not com- 
plied. And as these measures against the Samians are thought to 
have been taken to please Aspasia, this may be a fit point for inquiry 
about the woman, what art or charming faculty she had that enabled 
her to captivate, as she did, the greatest statesmen, and to give the 
philosophers occasion to speak so much about her, and that, too, 
not to her disparagement. That she was a Milesian by birth, the 
daughter of Axiochus, is a thing acknowledged. And they say it 
was in emulation of Thargelia, a courtesan of the old Ionian times, 
that she made her addresses to men of great power. Thargelia was 
a great beauty, extremely charming, and at the same time sagacious; 
she had numerous suitors among the Greeks, and brought all who 
had to do with her over to the Persian interest, and by their means, 
being men of the greatest power and station, sowed the seeds of the 
Median faction up and down in several cities. 7 Aspasia, some say, 
was courted and caressed by Pericles upon account of her knowledge 
and skill in politics. Socrates himself would sometimes go to visit 
her, and some of his acquaintance with him; and those who fre- 
quented her company would carry their wives with them to listen 
to her. Her occupation was any thing but creditable, her house 
being a home for young courtesans. jEschines tells us also, that 
Lysicles, a sheep-dealer, a man of low birth and character, by keep- 
ing Aspasia company after Pericles's death, came to be a chief man 
in Athens. And in Plato's Menexenus, though we do not take the 
introduction as quite serious, still thus much seems to be historical, 
that she had the repute of being resorted to by many of the Atheni- 
ans for instruction in the art of speaking. Pericles's inclination for 
her seems, however, to have rather proceeded from the passion of 
love. He had a wife that was near of kin to him, who had been 
married first to Hipponicus, by whom she had Callias, sm named 
the Rich; and also she brought Pericles, while she lived with him, 
two sons, Xanthippus and Paralus. Afterwards, when they did not 

7 She was married, says Athenzus, to fourteen husbands; a woman of great beauty 
and intellect 


well agree nor like to live together, he parted with her, with her 
own consent, to another man, and himself took Aspasia, and loved 
her with wonderful affection; every day, both as he went out and 
as he came in from the market-place, he saluted and kissed her. 

In the comedies she goes by the nicknames of the new Omphale 
and Deianira, and again is styled Juno. Cratinus, in downright 
terms, calls her a harlot. 

"To find him a Juno the goddess of lust 
Bore that harlot past shame, 
Aspasia by name." 

It should seem, also, that he had a son by her; Eupolis, in his Demi, 
introduced Pericles asking after his safety, and Myronides replying, 

"My son?" "He lives; a man he had been long, 
But that the harlot-mother did him wrong." 

Aspasia, they say, became so celebrated and renowned, that Cyrus 
also, who made war against Artaxerxes for the Persian monarchy, 
gave her whom he loved the best of all his concubines the name of 
Aspasia, who before that was called Milto. She was a Phocacan by 
birth, the daughter of one Hermotimus, and, when Cyrus fell in 
battle, was carried to the king, and had great influence at court. 
These things coming into my memory as I am writing this story, 
it would be unnatural for me to omit them. 

Pericles, however, was particularly charged with having proposed 
to the assembly the war against the Samians, from favor to the 
Milesians, upon the entreaty of Aspasia. For the two states were at 
war for the possession of Priene; and the Samians, getting the better, 
refused to lay down their arms and to have the controversy betwixt 
them decided by arbitration before the Athenians. Pericles, there- 
fore, fitting out a fleet, went and broke up the oligarchical govern- 
ment at Samos, and, taking fifty of the principal men of the town 
as hostages, and as many of their children, sent them to the isle of 
Lemnos, there to be kept, though he had offers, as some relate, of 
a talent a piece for himself from each one of the hostages, and of 
many other presents from those who were anxious not to have a 
democracy. Moreover, Pissuthnes the Persian, one of the king's 
lieutenants, bearing some good-will to the Samians, sent him ten 

62 plutarch's lives 

thousand pieces of gold to excuse the city. Pericles, however, would 
receive none of all this; but after he had taken that course with the 
Samians which he thought fit, and set up a democracy among them, 
sailed back to Athens. 

But they, however, immediately revolted, Pissuthnes having 
privily got away their hostages for them, and provided them with 
means for the war. Whereupon Pericles came out with a fleet a 
second time against them, and found them not idle nor slinking 
away, but manfully resolved to try for the dominion of the sea. The 
issue was, that, after a sharp sea-fight about the island called Tragia, 
Pericles obtained a decisive victory, having with forty-four ships 
routed seventy of the enemy's, twenty of which were carrying 

Together with his victory and pursuit, having made himself mas- 
ter of the port, he laid siege to the Samians, and blocked them up, 
who yet, one way or other, still ventured to make sallies, and fight 
under the city walls. But after that another greater fleet from Athens 
was arrived, and that the Samians were now shut up with a close 
leaguer on every side, Pericles, taking with him sixty galleys, sailed 
out into the main sea, with the intention, as most authors give the 
account, to meet a squadron of Phoenician ships that were coming 
for the Samians' relief, and to fight them at as great distance as 
could be from the island; but, as Stesimbrotus says, with a design 
of putting over to Cyprus; which does not seem to be probable. But 
whichever of the two was his intent, it seems to have been a mis- 
calculation. For on his departure, Melissus, the son of Ithagenes, 
a philosopher, being at that time general in Samos, despising either 
the small number of the ships that were left or the inexperience of 
the commanders, prevailed with the citizens to attack the Athenians. 
And the Samians having won the battle, and taken several of the 
men prisoners, and disabled several of the ships, were masters of 
the sea, and brought into port all necessaries they wanted for the 
war, which they had not before. Aristotle says, too, that Pericles him- 
self had been once before this worsted by this Melissus in a sea-fight. 

The Samians, that they might requite an affront which had before 
been put upon them, branded the Athenians, whom they took 


prisoners, in their foreheads, with the figure of an owl. For so the 
Athenians had marked them before with a Samaena, which is a sort 
of ship, low and flat in the prow, so as to look snub-nosed, but wide 
and large and well-spread in the hold, by which it both carries a 
large cargo and sails well. And it was so called, because the first of 
that kind was seen at Samos, having been built by order of Poly- 
crates the tyrant. These brands upon the Samians' foreheads, they 
say, are the allusion in the passage of Aristophanes, where he says, — 

"For, oh, the Samians are a lettered people." 

Pericles, as soon as news was brought him of the disaster that had 
befallen his army, made all the haste he could to come in to their 
relief, and having defeated Melissus, who bore up against him, and 
put the enemy to flight, he immediately proceeded to hem them in 
with a wall, resolving to master them and take the town, rather with 
some cost and time, than with the wounds and hazards of his citi- 
zens. But as it was a hard matter to keep back the Athenians, who 
were vexed at the delay, and were eagerly bent to fight, he divided 
the whole multitude into eight parts, and arranged by lot that that 
part which had the white bean should have leave to feast and take 
their ease, while the other seven were fighting. And this is the 
reason, they say, that people, when at any time they have been merry, 
and enjoyed themselves, call it white day, in allusion to this white 

Ephorus the historian tells us besides, that Pericles made use of 
engines of battery in this siege, being much taken with the curious- 
ness of the invention, with the aid and presence of Artemon him- 
self, the engineer, who, being lame, used to be carried about in a 
litter, where the works required his attendance, and for that reason 
was called Periphoretus. But Heraclides Ponticus disproves this out 
of Anacreon's poems, where mention is made of this Artemon 
Periphoretus several ages before the Samian war, or any of these 
occurrences. And he says that Artemon, being a man who loved 
his ease, and had a great apprehension of danger, for the most part 
kept close within doors, having two of his servants to hold a brazen 
shield over his head, that nothing might fall upon him from above; 

64 plutarch's lives 

and if he were at any time forced upon necessity to go abroad, 
that he was carried about in a little hanging bed, close to the very 
ground, and that for this reason he was called Periphoretus. 

In the ninth month, the Samians surrendering themselves and 
delivering up the town, Pericles pulled down their walls, and seized 
their shipping, and set a fine of a large sum of money upon them, 
part of which they paid down at once, and they agreed to bring 
in the rest by a certain time, and gave hostages for security. Duris 
the Samian makes a tragical drama out of these events, charging 
the Athenians and Pericles with a great deal of cruelty, which 
neither Thucydides, nor Ephorus, nor Aristotle have given any rela- 
tion of, and probably with little regard to truth; how, for example, 
he brought the captains and soldiers of the galleys into the market- 
place at Miletus, and there having bound them fast to boards for 
ten days, then, when they were already all but half dead, gave order 
to have them killed by beating out their brains with clubs, and their 
dead bodies to be flung out into the open streets and fields, unburied. 
Duris, however, who even where he has no private feeling con- 
cerned, is not wont to keep his narrative within the limits of truth, 
is the more likely upon this occasion to have exaggerated the calami- 
ties which befell his country, to create odium against the Athenians. 
Pericles, however, after the reduction of Samos, returning back to 
Athens, took care that those who died in the war should be hon- 
orably buried, and made a funeral harangue, as the custom is, in 
their commendation at their graves, for which he gained great 
admiration. As he came down from the stage on which he spoke, 
the rest of the women came and complimented him, taking him by 
the hand, and crowning him with garlands and ribbons, like a vic- 
torious athlete in the games; but Elpinice, coming near to him, said, 
"These are brave deeds, Pericles, that you have done, and such as 
deserve our chaplets; who have lost us many a worthy citizen, not in 
a war with Phoenicians or Medes, like my brother Cimon, but for 
the overthrow of an allied and kindred city." As Elpinice spoke 
these words, he, smiling quietly, as it is said, returned her answer 
with this verse, — 

"Old women should not seek to be perfumed." 


Ion says of him, that, upon this exploit of his, conquering the 
Samians, he indulged very high and proud thoughts of himself: 
whereas Agamemnon was ten years a-taking a barbarous city, he 
had in nine months' time vanquished and taken the greatest and 
most powerful of the Ionians. And indeed it was not without reason 
that he assumed this glory to himself, for, in real truth, there was 
much uncertainty and great hazard in this war, if so be, as Thucy- 
dides tells us, the Samian state were within a very little of wresting 
the whole power and dominion of the sea out of the Athenians' 

After this was over, the Peloponnesian war beginning to break 
out in full tide, he advised the people to send help to the Corcyraeans, 
who were attacked by the Corinthians, and to secure to themselves an 
island possessed of great naval resources, since the Peloponnesians 
were already all but in actual hostilities against them. The people 
readily consenting to the motion, and voting an aid and succor for 
them, he despatched Lacedxmonius, Cimon's son, having only ten 
ships with him, as it were out of a design to affront him; for there 
was a great kindness and friendship betwixt Cimon's family and 
the Lacedaemonians; so, in order that Lacedjemonius might lie the 
more open to a charge, or suspicion at least, of favoring the Lace- 
daemonians and playing false, if he performed no considerable ex- 
ploit in this service, he allowed him a small number of ships, and 
sent him out against his will; and indeed he made it somewhat his 
business to hinder Cimon's sons from rising in the state, professing 
that by their very names they were not to be looked upon as native 
and true Athenians, but foreigners and strangers, one being called 
Lacedarmonius, another Thessalus, and the third Eleus; and they 
were all three of them, it was thought, born of an Arcadian woman. 
Being, however, ill spoken of on account of these ten galleys, as 
having afforded but a small supply to the people that were in need, 
and yet given a great advantage to those who might complain of the 
act of intervention, Pericles sent out a larger force afterward to 
Corcyra, which arrived after the fight was over. And when now 
the Corinthians, angry and indignant with the Athenians, accused 
them publicly at Lacedaemon, the Megarians joined with them, com- 

66 plutarch's lives 

plaining that they were, contrary to common right and the articles 
of peace sworn to among the Greeks, kept out and driven away 
from every market and from all ports under the control of the 
Athenians. The ^Eginetans, also, professing to be ill-used and treated 
with violence, made supplications in private to the Lacedaemonians 
for redress, though not daring openly to call the Athenians in ques- 
tion. In the mean time, also, the city of Potidxa, under the dominion 
of the Athenians, but a colony formerly of the Corinthians, had re- 
volted, and was beset with a formal siege, and was a further occasion 
of precipitating the war. 

Yet notwithstanding all this, there being embassies sent to Athens, 
and Archidamus, the king of the Lacedaemonians, endeavoring to 
bring the greater part of the complaints and matters in dispute to 
a fair determination, and to pacify and allay the heats of the allies, 
it is very likely that the war would not upon any other grounds of 
quarrel have fallen upon the Athenians, could they have been pre- 
vailed with to repeal the ordinance against the Megarians, and to 
be reconciled to them. Upon which account, since Pericles was the 
man who mainly opposed it, and stirred up the people's passions to 
persist in their contention with the Megarians, he was regarded as 
the sole cause of the war. 

They say, moreover, that ambassadors went, by order from Lace- 
daemon to Athens about this very business, and that when Pericles 
was urging a certain law which made it illegal to take down or 
withdraw the tablet of the decree, one of the ambassadors, Polyalces 
by name, said, "Well, do not take it down then, but turn it; there is 
no law, I suppose, which forbids that"; 8 which, though prettily said, 
did not move Pericles from his resolution. There may have been, 
in all likelihood, something of a secret grudge and private animosity 
which he had against the Megarians. Yet, upon a public and open 
charge against them, that they had appropriated part of the sacred 
land on the frontier, he proposed a decree that a herald should be 
sent to them, and the same also to the Lacedaemonians, with an 
accusation of the Megarians; an order which certainly shows equit- 
able and friendly proceeding enough. And after that the herald 

* The word for taking down, in the literal sense, is also the technical term for 
revoking, or repealing; hence the Spartans play upon the two senses. "If you may 
not take it down, turn it, with its face to the wall." 


who was sent, by name Anthemocritus, died, and it was believed 
that the Megarians had contrived his death, then Charinus pro- 
posed a decree against them, that there should be an irreconcilable 
and implacable enmity thenceforward betwixt the two common- 
wealths; and that if any one of the Megarians should but set his 
foot in Attica, he should be put to death; and that the commanders, 
when they take the usual oath, should, over and above that, swear 
that they will twice every year make an inroad into the Megarian 
country; and that Anthemocritus should be buried near the Thri- 
asian Gates, which are now called the Dipylon, or Double Gate. 
On the other hand, the Megarians, utterly denying and disowning 
the murder of Anthemocritus, throw the whole matter upon Aspasia 
and Pericles, availing themselves of the famous verses in the Achar- 

"To Megara some of our madcaps ran, 
And stole Si mart ha thence, their courtesan. 
Which exploit the Megarians to outdo, 
Came to Aspasia's house, and took off two." 

The true occasion of the quarrel is not so easy to find out. But of 
inducing the refusal to annul the decree, all alike charge Pericles. 
Some say he met the request with a positive refusal, out of high 
spirit and a view of the state's best interests, accounting that the de- 
mand made in those embassies was designed for a trial of their 
compliance, and that a concession would be taken for a confession 
of weakness, as if they durst not do otherwise; while other some 
there are who say that it was rather out of arrogance and a wilful 
spirit of contention, to show his own strength, that he took occasion 
to slight the Lacedxmonians. The worst motive of all, which is 
confirmed by most witnesses, is to the following effect. Phidias the 
Moulder had, as has before been said, undertaken to make the 
statue of Minerva. Now he, being admitted to friendship with 
Pericles, and a great favorite of his, had many enemies upon this 
account, who envied and maligned him; who also, to make trial in 
a case of his, what kind of judges the commons would prove, should 
there be occasion to bring Pericles himself before them, having 
tampered with Menon, one who had been a workman with Phidias, 
stationed him in the market-place, with a petition desiring public 

68 plutarch's lives 

security upon his discovery and impeachment of Phidias. The 
people admitting the man to tell his story, and the prosecution pro- 
ceeding in the assembly, there was nothing of theft or cheat proved 
against him; for Phidias, from the very first beginning, by the advice 
of Pericles, had so wrought and wrapt the gold that was used in 
the work about the statue, that they might take it all off and make 
out the just weight of it, which Pericles at that time bade the 
accusers do. But the reputation of his works was what brought envy 
upon Phidias, especially that where he represents the fight of the 
Amazons upon the goddesses' shield, he had introduced a likeness 
of himself as a bald old man holding up a great stone with both 
hands, and had put in a very fine representation of Pericles fighting 
with an Amazon. And the position of the hand, which holds out 
the spear in front of the face, was ingeniously contrived to conceal 
in some degree the likeness, which, meantime, showed itself on 
either side. 

Phidias then was carried away to prison, and there died of a 
disease; but, as some say, of poison, administered by the enemies of 
Pericles, to raise a slander, or a suspicion, at least, as though he had 
procured it. The informer Menon, upon Glycon's proposal, the 
people made free from payment of taxes and customs, and ordered 
the generals to take care that nobody should do him any hurt. About 
the same time, Aspasia was indicted of impiety, upon the complaint 
of Hermippus the comedian, who also laid further to her charge that 
she received into her house freeborn women for the uses of Pericles. 
And Diopithes proposed a decree, that public accusation should be 
laid against persons who neglected religion, or taught new doctrines 
about things above," directing suspicion, by means of Anaxagoras, 
against Pericles himself. The people receiving and admitting these 
accusations and complaints, at length, by this means, they came to 
enact a decree, at the motion of Dracontides, that Pericles should 
bring in the accounts of the moneys he had expended, and lodge 
them with the Prytanes; and that the judges, carrying their suffrage 
from the altar in the Acropolis, should examine and determine the 

8 "Supera ac ccelestia," as Cicero translates the words meleora and melarsia, whence 
we have formed our meteorology. The whole Greek religion was based on certain con- 
ceptions of such phenomena, any tampering with which was, therefore, quickly 


business in the city. This last clause Hagnon took out of the decree, 
and moved that the causes should be tried before fifteen hundred 
jurors, whether they should be styled prosecutions for robbery, or 
bribery, or any kind of malversation. Aspasia, Pericles begged off, 
shedding, as iEschines says, many tears at the trial, and personally 
entreating the jurors. But fearing how it might go with Anaxagoras, 
he sent him out of the city. And finding that in Phidias's case he 
had miscarried with the people, being afraid of impeachment, he 
kindled the war, which hitherto had lingered and smothered, and 
blew it up into a flame; hoping, by that means, to disperse and 
scatter these complaints and charges, and to allay their jealousy; the 
city usually throwing herself upon him alone, and trusting to his 
sole conduct, upon the urgency of great affairs and public dangers, 
by reason of his authority and the sway he bore. 

These are given out to have been the reasons which induced 
Pericles not to suffer the people of Athens to yield to the proposals 
of the Lacedaemonians; but their truth is uncertain. 

The Lacedxmonians, for their part, feeling sure that if they 
could once remove him, they might be at what terms they pleased 
with the Athenians, sent them word that they should expel the 
"Pollution" with which Pericles on the mother's side was tainted, 
as Thucydides tells us. But the issue proved quite contrary to what 
those who sent the message expected; instead of bringing Pericles 
under suspicion and reproach, they raised him into yet greater credit 
and esteem with the citizens, as a man whom their enemies most 
hated and feared. In the same way, also, before Archidamus, who 
was at the head of the Peloponnesians, made his invasion into 
Attica, he told the Athenians beforehand, that if Archidamus, while 
he laid waste the rest of the country, should forbear and spare his 
estate, either on the ground of friendship or right of hospitality that 
was betwixt them, or on purpose to give his enemies an occasion of 
traducing him, that then he did freely bestow upon the state all that 
his land and the buildings upon it for the public use. The Lace- 
daemonians, therefore, and their allies, with a great army, invaded 
the Athenian territories, under the conduct of king Archidamus, 
and laying waste the country, marched on as far as Acharnae, and 
there pitched their camp, presuming that the Athenians would never 



endure that, but would come out and fight them for their country's 
and their honor's sake. But Pericles looked upon it as dangerous 
to engage in battle, to the risk o£ the city itself, against sixty thou- 
sand men-at-arms of Peloponnesians and Boeotians; for so many 
they were in number that made the inroad at first; and he endeav- 
ored to appease those who were desirous to fight, and were grieved 
and discontented to see how things went, and gave them good 
words, saying, that "trees, when they are lopped and cut, grow up 
again in a short time, but men, being once lost, cannot easily be 
recovered." He did not convene the people into an assembly, for 
fear lest they should force him to act against his judgment; but, like 
a skilful steersman or pilot of a ship, who, when a sudden squall 
comes on, out at sea, makes all his arrangements, sees that all is 
tight and fast, and then follows the dictates of his skill, and minds 
the business of the ship, taking no notice of the tears and entreaties 
of the sea-sick and fearful passengers, so he, having shut up the 
city gates, and placed guards at all posts for security, followed his 
own reason and judgment, little regarding those that cried out 
against him and were angry at his management, although there 
were a great many of his friends that urged him with requests, and 
many of his enemies threatened and accused him for doing as he did, 
and many made songs and lampoons upon him, which were sung 
about the town to his disgrace, reproaching him with the cowardly 
exercise of his office of general, and the tame abandonment of every- 
thing to the enemy's hands. 

Cleon, also, already was among his assailants, making use of the 
feeling against him as a step to the leadership of the people, as 
appears in the anapaestic verses of Hermippus. 

"Satyr-king, instead of swords, 
Will you always handle words? 
Very brave indeed we find them, 
But a Teles 10 lurks behind them. 

"Yet to gnash your teeth you're seen, 
When the little dagger keen, 
Whetted every day anew, 
Of sharp Cleon touches you." 

10 Apparently some notorious coward. 


Pericles, however, was not at all moved by any attacks, but took 
all patiently, and submitted in silence to the disgrace they threw 
upon him and the ill-will they bore him; and, sending out a fleet of 
a hundred galleys to Peloponnesus, he did not go along with it in 
person, but stayed behind, that he might watch at home and keep 
the city under his own control, till the Peloponnesians broke up their 
camp and were gone. Yet to soothe the common people, jaded and 
distressed with the war, he relieved them with distributions of pub- 
lic moneys, and ordained new divisions of subject land. For having 
turned out all the people of ^Egina, he parted the island among the 
Athenians, according to lot. Some comfort, also, and ease in their 
miseries, they might receive from what their enemies endured. For 
the fleet, sailing round the Peloponnese, ravaged a great deal of the 
country, and pillaged and plundered the towns and smaller cities; 
and by land he himself entered with an army the Megarian country, 
and made havoc of it all. Whence it is clear that the Peloponnesians, 
though they did the Athenians much mischief by land, yet suffering 
as much themselves from them by sea, would not have protracted 
the war to such a length, but would quickly have given it over, as 
Pericles at first foretold they would, had not some divine power 
crossed human purposes. 

In the first place, the pestilential disease, or plague, seized upon 
the city, and ate up all the flower and prime of their youth and 
strength. Upon occasion of which, the people, distempered and 
afflicted in their souls, as well as in their bodies, were utterly enraged 
like madmen against Pericles, and, like patients grown delirious, 
sought to lay violent hands on their physician, or, as it were, their 
father. They had been possessed, by his enemies, with the belief 
that the occasion of the plague was the crowding of the country 
people together into the town, forced as they were now, in the heat 
of the summer-weather, to dwell many of them together even as 
they could, in small tenements and stifling hovels, and to be tied to 
a lazy course of life within doors, whereas before they lived in a 
pure, open and free air. The cause and author of all this, said they, 
is he who on account of the war has poured a multitude of people 
from the country in upon us within the walls, and uses all these 
many men that he has here upon no employ or service, but keeps 


them pent up like cattle, to be overrun with infection from one 
another, affording them neither shift of quarters nor any refresh- 

With the design to remedy these evils, and do the enemy some 
inconvenience, Pericles got a hundred and fifty galleys ready, and 
having embarked many tried soldiers, both foot and horse, was 
about to sail out, giving great hope to his citizens, and no less alarm 
to his enemies, upon the sight of so great a force. And now the 
vessels having their complement of men, and Pericles being gone 
aboard his own galley, it happened that the sun was eclipsed, and it 
grew dark on a sudden, to the affright of all, for this was looked 
upon as extremely ominous. Pericles, therefore, perceiving the steers- 
man seized with fear and at a loss what to do, took his cloak and 
held it up before the man's face, and, screening him with it so that 
he could not see, asked him whether he imagined there was any 
great hurt, or the sign of any great hurt in this, and he answering 
No, "Why," said he, "and what does that differ from this, only that 
what has caused that darkness there, is something greater than a 
cloak?" This is a story which philosophers tell their scholars. Peri- 
cles, however, after putting out to sea, seems not to have done any 
other exploit befitting such preparations, and when he had laid 
siege to the holy city Epidaurus, which gave him some hope of sur- 
render, miscarried in his design by reason of the sickness. For it 
not only seized upon the Athenians, but upon all others, too, that 
held any sort of communication with the army. Finding after this 
the Athenians ill affected and highly displeased with him, he tried 
and endeavored what he could to appease and re-encourage them. 
But he could not pacify or allay their anger, nor persuade or prevail 
with them any way, till they freely passed their votes upon him, 
resumed their power, took away his command from him, and fined 
him in a sum of money; which, by their account that say least, was 
fifteen talents, while they who reckon most, name fifty. The name 
prefixed to the accusation was Cleon, as Idomeneus tells us; Sim- 
mias, according to Theophrastus; and Heradides Ponticus gives it 
as Lacratidas. 

After this, public troubles were soon to leave him unmolested; 
the people, so to say, discharged their passion in their stroke, and 


lost their stings in the wound. But his domestic concerns were in 
an unhappy condition, many of his friends and acquaintance having 
died in the plague time, and those of his family having long since 
been in disorder and in a kind of mutiny against him. For the 
eldest of his lawfully begotten sons, Xanthippus by name, being 
naturally prodigal, and marrying a young and expensive wife, the 
daughter of Tisander, son of Epilycus, was highly offended at his 
father's economy in making him but a scanty allowance, by little and 
little at a time. He sent, therefore, to a friend one day, and borrowed 
some money of him in his father Pericles's name, pretending it was 
by his order. The man coming afterward to demand the debt, Peri- 
cles was so far from yielding to pay it, that he entered an action 
against him. Upon which the young man, Xanthippus, thought him- 
self so ill used and disobliged, that he openly reviled his father; tell- 
ing first, by way of ridicule, stories about his conversations at home, 
and the discourses he had with the sophists and scholars that came 
to his house. As for instance, how one who was a practiser of the 
five games of skill," having with a dart or javelin unawares against 
his will struck and killed Epitimus the Pharsalian, his father spent a 
whole day with Protagoras in a serious dispute, whether the javelin, 
or the man that threw it, or the masters of the games who appointed 
these sports, were, according to the strictest and best reason, to be 
accounted the cause of this mischance. Beside this, Stesimbrotus tells 
us that it was Xanthippus who spread abroad among the people the 
infamous story concerning his own wife; and in general that this 
difference of the young man's with his father, and the breach be- 
twixt them, continued never to be healed or made up till his death. 
For Xanthippus died in the plague time of the sickness. At which 
time Pericles also lost his sister, and the greatest part of his rela- 
tions and friends, and those who had been most useful and service- 
able to him in managing the affairs of state. However, he did not 
shrink or give in upon these occasions, nor betray or lower his high 
spirit and the greatness of his mind under all his misfortunes; he 
was not even so much as seen to weep or to mourn, or even attend 

" These are recorded in a pentameter verse by Simonidcs. 

Halma, podokcicn, discon, aconta, palen. 

Leaping, and swiftness of foot, wrestling, the discus, the dart. 



the burial of any of his friends or relations, till at last he lost his 
only remaining legitimate son. Subdued by this blow, and yet 
striving still, as far as he could, to maintain his principle, and to 
preserve and keep up the greatness of his soul, when he came, how- 
ever, to perform the ceremony of putting a garland of flowers upon 
the head of the corpse, he was vanquished by his passion at the sight, 
so that he burst into exclamations, and shed copious tears, having 
never done any such thing in all his life before. 

The city having made trial of other generals for the conduct of 
war, and orators for business of state, when they found there was 
no one who was of weight enough for such a charge, or of authority 
sufficient to be trusted with so great a command, regretted the loss 
of him, and invited him again to address and advise them, and to 
reassume the office of general. He, however, lay at home in dejec- 
tion and mourning; but was persuaded by Alcibiades and others of 
his friends to come abroad and show himself to the people; who 
having, upon his appearance, made their acknowledgments, and 
apologized for their untowardly treatment of him, he undertook the 
public affairs once more; and, being chosen general, requested that 
the statute concerning base-born children, which he himself had 
formerly caused to be made, might be suspended; that so the name 
and race of his family might not, for absolute want of a lawful 
heir to succeed, be wholly lost and extinguished. The case of the 
statute was thus: Pericles, when long ago at the height of his power 
in the state, having then, as has been said, children lawfully begot- 
ten, proposed a law that those only should be reputed true citizens 
of Athens who were born of such parents as were both Athenians. 
After this, the king of Egypt having sent to the people, by way of 
present, forty thousand bushels of wheat, which were to be shared 
out among the citizens, a great many actions and suits about legiti- 
macy occurred, by virtue of that edict; cases which, till that time, 
had not been known nor taken notice of; and several persons suf- 
fered by false accusations. There were little less than five thousand 
who were convicted and sold for slaves; those who, enduring the 
test, remained in the government and passed muster for true Athe- 
nians were found upon the poll to be fourteen thousand and forty 
persons in number. 


It looked strange, that a law, which had been carried so far 
against so many people, should be cancelled again by the same man 
that made it; yet the present calamity and distress which Pericles 
labored under in his family broke through all objections, and pre- 
vailed with the Athenians to pity him, as one whose losses and 
misfortunes had sufficiently punished his former arrogance and 
haughtiness. His sufferings deserved, they thought, their pity, and 
even indignation, and his request was such as became a man to ask 
and men to grant; they gave him permission to enroll his son in the 
register of his fraternity, giving him his own name. This son after- 
ward, after having defeated the Peloponnesians at Arginusar, was, 
with his fellow-generals, put to death by the people. 

About the time when his son was enrolled, it should seem, the 
plague seized Pericles, not with sharp and violent fits, as it did 
others that had it, but with a dull and lingering distemper, attended 
with various changes and alterations, leisurely, by little and little, 
wasting the strength of his body, and undermining the noble facul- 
ties of his soul. So that Theophrastus, in his Morals, when discussing 
whether men's characters change with their circumstances, and 
their moral habits, disturbed by the ailings of their bodies, start aside 
from the rules of virtue, has left it upon record, that Pericles, when 
he was sick, showed one of his friends that came to visit him, an 
amulet or charm that the women had hung about his neck; as 
much as to say, that he was very sick indeed when he would admit 
of such a foolery as that was. 

When he was now near his end, the best of the citizens and those 
of his friends who were left alive, sitting about him, were speaking 
of the greatness of his merit, and his power, and reckoning up his 
famous actions and the number of his victories; for there were no 
less than nine trophies, which, as their chief commander and con- 
queror of their enemies, he had set up, for the honor of the city. 
They talked thus together among themselves, as though he were 
unable to understand or mind what they said, but had now lost his 
consciousness. He had listened, however, all the while, and attended 
to all, and speaking out among them, said, that he wondered they 
should commend and take notice of things which were as much 
owing to fortune as to any thing else, and had happened to many 

j6 plutarch's lives 

other commanders, and, at the same time, should not speak or make 
mention of that which was the most excellent and greatest thing of 
all. "For," said he, "no Athenian, through my means, ever wore 

He was indeed a character deserving our high admiration, not 
only for his equitable and mild temper, which all along in the many 
affairs of his life, and the great animosities which he incurred, he 
constantly maintained; but also for the high spirit and feeling which 
made him regard it the noblest of all his honors that, in the exercise 
of such immense power, he never had gratified his envy or his pas- 
sion, nor ever had treated any enemy as irreconcilably opposed to 
him. And to me it appears that this one thing gives that otherwise 
childish and arrogant title a fitting and becoming significance; so 
dispassionate a temper, a life so pure and unblemished, in the height 
of power and place, might well be called Olympian, in accordance 
with our conceptions of the divine beings, to whom, as the natural 
authors of all good and of nothing evil, we ascribe the rule and gov- 
ernment of the world. Not as the poets represent, who, while con- 
founding us with their ignorant fancies, are themselves confuted 
by their own poems and fictions, and call the place, indeed, where 
they say the gods make their abode, a secure and quiet seat, free 
from all hazards and commotions, untroubled with winds or with 
clouds, and equally through all time illumined with soft serenity 
and a pure light, as though such were a home most agreeable for a 
blessed and immortal nature; and yet, in the meanwhile, affirm 
that the gods themselves are full of trouble and enmity and anger 
and other passions, which no way become or belong to even men 
that have any understanding. But this will, perhaps, seem a subject 
fitter for some other consideration, and that ought to be treated of 
in some other place. 

The course of public affairs after his death produced a quick and 
speedy sense of the loss of Pericles. Those who, while he lived, re- 
sented his great authority, as that which eclipsed themselves, pres- 
ently after his quitting the stage, making trial of other orators and 
demagogues, readily acknowledged that there never had been in 
nature such a disposition as his was, more moderate and reasonable 
in the height of that state he took upon him, or more grave and 


impressive in the mildness which he used. And that invidious, 
arbitrary power, to which formerly they gave the name of monarchy 
and tyranny, did then appear to have been the chief bulwark of 
public safety; so great a corruption and such a flood of mischief and 
vice followed, which he, by keeping weak and low, had withheld 
from notice, and had prevented from attaining incurable height 
through a licentious impunity. 


ARISTIDES, the son of Lysimachus, was of the tribe Antiochis, 
LJL and township of Alopece. As to his wealth, statements 
A. JL. differ; some say he passed his life in extreme poverty, and 
left behind him two daughters whose indigence long kept them un- 
married: but Demetrius, the Phalerian, in opposition to this general 
report, professes in his Socrates, to know a farm at Phalerum going 
by Aristides's name, where he was interred; and, as marks of his 
opulence, adduces first, the office of archon eponymus, which he 
obtained by the lot of the bean; which was confined to the highest 
assessed families, called the Pentacosiomedimni; second, the ostra- 
cism, which was not usually inflicted on the poorer citizens, but on 
those of great houses, whose station exposed them to envy; third 
and last, that he left certain tripods in the temple of Bacchus, offer- 
ings for his victory in conducting the representation of dramatic 
performances, which were even in our age still to be seen, retaining 
this inscription upon them, "The tribe Antiochis obtained the vic- 
tory: Aristides defrayed the charges: Archestratus's play was acted." 
But this argument, though in appearance the strongest, is of the 
least moment of any. For Epaminondas, who all the world knows 
was educated, and lived his whole life, in much poverty, and also 
Plato, the philosopher, exhibited magnificent shows, the one an en- 
tertainment of flute-players, the other of dithyrambic singers; Dion, 
the Syracusan, supplying the expenses of the latter, and Pelopidas 
those of Epaminondas. For good men do not allow themselves in 
any inveterate and irreconcilable hostility to receiving presents from 
their friends, but while looking upon those that are accepted to be 
hoarded up and with avaricious intentions, as sordid and mean, they 
do not refuse such as, apart from all profit, gratify the pure love of 
honor and magnificence. Panaetius, again, shows that Demetrius was 
deceived concerning the tripod by an identity of name. For, from 



the Persian war to the end of the Peloponnesian, there are upon 
record only two of the name of Aristides, who defrayed the expense 
of representing plays and gained the prize, neither of which was the 
same with the son of Lysimachus; but the father of the one was 
Xenophilus, and the other lived at a much later time, as the way 
of writing, which is that in use since the time of Eudides, and the 
addition of the name of Archestratus prove, a name which, in the 
time of the Persian war, no writer mentions, but which several, dur- 
ing the Peloponnesian war, record as that of a dramatic poet. The 
argument of Panactius requires to be more closely considered. But 
as for the ostracism, every one was liable to it, whom his reputation, 
birth, or eloquence raised above the common level; insomuch that 
even Damon, preceptor to Pericles, was thus banished, because he 
seemed a man of more than ordinary sense. And, moreover, Idome- 
neus says, that Aristides was not made archon by the lot of the bean, 
but the free election of the people. And if he held the office after 
the batde of Plataea, as Demetrius himself has written, it is very 
probable that his great reputation and success in the war, made him 
be preferred for his virtue to an office which others received in con- 
sideration of their wealth. But Demetrius manifesdy is eager not 
only to exempt Aristides, but Socrates likewise, from poverty, as 
from a great evil; telling us that the latter had not only a house of 
his own, but also seventy minx put out at interest with Crito. 

Aristides being the friend and supporter of that Clisthenes, who 
setded the government after the expulsion of the tyrants, and emu- 
lating and admiring Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian above all poli- 
ticians, adhered to the aristocratical principles of government; and 
had Themistocles, son of Neocles, his adversary on the side of the 
populace. Some say that, being boys and bred up together from 
their infancy, they were always at variance with each other in all 
their words and actions as well serious as playful, and that in this 
their early contention they soon made proof of their natural inclina- 
tions; the one being ready, adventurous, and subtle, engaging readily 
and eagerly in every thing; the other of a staid and settled temper, 
intent on the exercise of justice, not admitting any degree of falsity, 
indecorum, or trickery, no, not so much as at his play. Ariston of 

8o plutarch's lives 

Chios' says the first origin of the enmity which rose to so great a 
height, was a love affair; they were rivals for the affection of the 
beautiful Stesilaus of Ceos, and were passionate beyond all modera- 
tion, and did not lay aside their animosity when the beauty that had 
excited it passed away; but, as if it had only exercised them in it, 
immediately carried their heats and differences into public busi- 

Themistocles, therefore, joining an association of partisans, forti- 
fied himself with considerable strength; insomuch that when some 
one told him that were he impartial, he would make a good mag- 
istrate; "I wish," replied he, "I may never sit on that tribunal 
where my friends shall not plead a greater privilege than strangers." 
But Aristides walked, so to say, alone on his own path in politics, 
being unwilling, in the first place, to go along with his associates 
in ill doing, or to cause them vexation by not gratifying their wishes; 
and, secondly, observing that many were encouraged by the sup- 
port they had in their friends to act injuriously, he was cautious; 
being of opinion that the integrity of his words and actions was 
the only right security for a good citizen. 

However, Themistocles making many dangerous alterations, and 
withstanding and interrupting him in the whole series of his actions, 
Aristides also was necessitated to set himself against all Themistocles 
did, partly in self-defence, and partly to impede his power from still 
increasing by the favor of the multitude; esteeming it better to let 
slip some public conveniences, rather than that he by prevailing 
should become powerful in all things. In fine, when he once had 
opposed Themistocles in some measures that were expedient, and 
had got the better of him, he could not refrain from saying, when 
he left the assembly, that unless they sent Themistocles and himself 
to the barathrum, 2 there could be no safety for Athens. Another 
time, when urging some proposal upon the people, though there 
were much opposition and stirring against it, he yet was gaining 

1 More correctly, perhaps, both here and elsewhere, Ariston of Ceos. There were 
two philosophical writers of the name, Ariston of Chios, a stoic, and Ariston of Ceos, 
a Peripatetic. 

2 A pit into which the dead bodies of malefactors, or perhaps living malefactors 
themselves, were thrown. "The gallows" perhaps is the English term most nearly 
corresponding to the barathrum, as commonly spoken of in the Athenian popular 


the day; but just as the president of the assembly was about to put 
it to the vote, perceiving by what had been said in debate the inex- 
pediency of his advice, he let it fall. Also he often brought in his bills 
by other persons, lest Themistocles, through party spirit against 
him, should be any hindrance to the good of the public. 

In all the vicissitudes of public affairs, the constancy he showed 
was admirable, not being elated with honors, and demeaning him- 
self tranquilly and sedately in adversity; holding the opinion that 
he ought to offer himself to the service of his country without mer- 
cenary views and irrespectively of any reward, not only of riches, 
but even of glory itself. Hence it came, probably, that at the recital 
of these verses of iEschylus in the theatre, relating to Amphiaraus. 

"For not at seeming just, but being so 
He aims; and from his depth of soil below, 
Harvests of wise and prudent counsels grow," 

the eyes of all the spectators turned on Aristides, as if this virtue, 
in an especial manner, belonged to him. 

He was a most determined champion for justice, not only against 
feelings of friendship and favor, but wrath and malice. Thus it is 
reported of him that when prosecuting the law against one who was 
his enemy, on the judges after accusation refusing to hear the crimi- 
nal, and proceeding immediately to pass sentence upon him, he rose 
in haste from his seat and joined in petition with him for a hearing, 
and that he might enjoy the privilege of the law. Another time, 
when judging between two private persons, on the one declaring his 
adversary had very much injured Aristides; "Tell me rather, good 
friend," he said, "what wrong he has done you; for it is your cause, 
not my own, which I now sit judge of." Being chosen to the charge 
of the public revenue, he made it appear, that not only those of his 
time, but the preceding officers, had alienated much treasure, and 
especially Themistocles: — 

"Well known he was an able man to be, 
But with his fingers apt to be too free." 

Therefore, Themistocles associating several persons against Aris- 
tides, and impeaching him when he gave in his accounts, caused 

82 plutarch's lives 

him to be condemned of robbing the public; so Idomeneus states; 
but the best and chiefest men of the city much resenting it, he was 
not only exempted from the fine imposed upon him, but likewise 
again called to the same employment. Pretending now to repent him 
of his former practice, and carrying himself with more remissness, he 
became acceptable to such as pillaged the treasury, by not detecting 
or calling them to an exact account. So that those who had their 
fill of the public money began highly to applaud Aristides, and sued 
to the people, making interest to have him once more chosen treas- 
urer. But when they were upon the point of election, he reproved 
the Athenians. "When I discharged my office well and faithfully," 
said he, "I was insulted and abused; but now that I have allowed 
the public thieves in a variety of malpractices, I am considered an 
admirable patriot. I am more ashamed, therefore, of this present 
honor than of the former sentence; and I commiserate your condi- 
tion, with whom it is more praiseworthy to oblige ill men than to 
conserve the revenue of the public." Saying thus, and proceeding to 
expose the thefts that had been committed, he stopped the mouths 
of those who cried him up and vouched for him, but gained real 
and true commendation from the best men. 

When Datis, being sent by Darius under pretence of punishing the 
Athenians for their burning of Sardis, but in reality to reduce the 
Greeks under his dominion, landed at Marathon and laid waste 
the country, among the ten commanders appointed by the Athenians 
for the war, Miltiades was of the greatest name; but the second 
place, both for reputation and power, was possessed by Aristides: 
and when his opinion to join battle was added to that of Miltiades, 
it did much to incline the balance. Every leader by his day having 
the command in chief, when it came to Aristides's turn, he deliv- 
ered it into the hands of Miltiades, showing his fellow officers, that 
it is not dishonorable to obey and follow wise and able men, but, 
on the contrary, noble and prudent. So appeasing their rivalry, and 
bringing them to acquiesce in one and the best advice, he confirmed 
Miltiades in the strength of an undivided and unmolested authority. 
For now every one, yielding his day of command, looked for orders 
only to him. During the fight the main body of the Athenians 
being the hardest put to it, the barbarians, for a long time, making 


opposition there against the tribes Leontis and Antiochis, Themisto- 
des and Aristides being ranged together, fought valiantly; the one 
being of the tribe Leontis, the other of the Antiochis. But after they 
had beaten the barbarians back to their ships, and perceived that 
they sailed not for the isles, but were driven in by the force of sea 
and wind towards the country of Attica; fearing lest they should 
take the city, unprovided of defence, they hurried away thither with 
nine tribes, and reached it the same day. Aristides, being left with 
his tribe at Marathon to guard the plunder and prisoners, did not 
disappoint the opinion they had of him. Amidst the profusion of 
gold and silver, all sorts of apparel, and other property, more than 
can be mentioned, that were in the tents and the vessels which they 
had taken, he neither felt the desire to meddle with any thing him- 
self, nor suffered others to do it; unless it might be some who took 
away any thing unknown to him; as Callias, the torch-bearer, 3 did. 
One of the barbarians, it seems, prostrated himself before this man, 
supposing him to be a king by his hair and fillet; and, when he had 
so done, taking him by the hand, showed him a great quantity of 
gold hid in a ditch. But Callias, most cruel and impious of men, 
took away the treasure, but slew the man, lest he should tell of him. 
Hence, they say, the comic poets gave his family the name of Lacco- 
pluti, or enriched by the ditch, alluding to the place where Callias 
found the gold. Aristides, immediately after this, was archon; al- 
though Demetrius, the Phalerian, says he held the office a litde 
before he died, after the battle of Plata:a. But in the records of the 
successors of Xanthippides, in whose year Mardonius was over- 
thrown at Platxa, amongst very many there mentioned, there is 
not so much as one of the same name as Aristides: while immedi- 
ately after Phxnippus, during whose term of office they obtained the 
victory of Marathon, Aristides is registered. 

Of all his virtues, the common people were most affected with his 
justice, because of its continual and common use; and thus, although 
of mean fortune and ordinary birth, he possessed himself of the 
most kingly and divine appellation of Just; which kings, however, 
and tyrants have never sought after; but have taken delight to be 
surnamed besiegers of cities, thunderers, conquerors, or eagles again, 

'In the festivals of Eleusinian Ceres; an office hereditary in the family of Callias. 

84 plutarch's lives 

and hawks; 4 affecting, it seems, the reputation which proceeds from 
power and violence, rather than that of virtue. Although the divin- 
ity, to whom they desire to compare and assimilate themselves, 
excels, it is supposed, in three things, immortality, power, and vir- 
tue; of which three, the noblest and divinest is virtue. For the ele- 
ments and vacuum have an everlasting existence; earthquakes, 
thunders, storms, and torrents have great power; but in justice 
and equity nothing participates except by means of reason and the 
knowledge of that which is divine. And thus, taking the three vari- 
eties of feeling commonly entertained towards the deity, the sense of 
his happiness, fear, and honor of him, people would seem to think 
him blest and happy for his exemption from death and corruption, 
to fear and dread him for his power and dominion, but to love, 
honor, and adore him for his justice. Yet though thus disposed, they 
covet that immortality which our nature is not capable of, and that 
power the greatest part of which is at the disposal of fortune; but 
give virtue, the only divine good really in our reach, the last place, 
most unwisely; since justice makes the life of such as are in pros- 
perity, power, and authority the life of a god, and injustice turns it 
to that of a beast. 

Aristides, therefore, had at first the fortune to be beloved for this 
surname, but at length envied. Especially when Themistocles spread 
a rumor amongst the people, that, by determining and judging all 
matters privately, he had destroyed the courts of judicature, and was 
secretly making way for a monarchy in his own person, without the 
assistance of guards. Moreover, the spirit of the people, now grown 
high, and confident with their late victory, naturally entertained 
feelings of dislike to all of more than common fame and reputation. 
Coming together, therefore, from all parts into the city, they ban- 
ished Aristides by the ostracism, giving their jealousy of his reputa- 
tion the name of fear of tyranny. For ostracism was not the punish- 
ment of any criminal act, but was speciously said to be the mere 
depression and humiliation of excessive greatness and power; and 
was in fact a gentle relief and mitigation of envious feeling, which 
was thus allowed to vent itself in inflicting no intolerable injury, 

* Demetrius Poliorcctes, or the besieger, Ptolemy Oraunus, or Thunder, and 
Demetrius Nicator, the conqueror, are the probable examples alluded to; with Pyrrhus 
who had the name of Aetus, the eagle, and Anuochus jurnamed Hierax, the hawk. 


only a ten years' banishment. But after it came to be exercised upon 
base and villainous fellows, they desisted from it; Hyperbolus, being 
the last whom they banished by the ostracism. 

The cause of Hyperbolus's banishment is said to have been this. 
Alcibiades and Nicias, men that bore the greatest sway in the city, 
were of different factions. As the people, therefore, were about to 
vote the ostracism, and obviously to decree it against one of them, 
consulting together and uniting their parties, they contrived the 
banishment of Hyperbolus. Upon which the people, being offended, 
as if some contempt or affront was put upon the thing, left off and 
quite abolished it. It was performed, to be short, in this manner. 
Every one taking an ostracon, a sherd, that is, or piece of earthen- 
ware, wrote upon it the citizen's name he would have banished, 
and carried it to a certain part of the market-place surrounded with 
wooden rails. First, the magistrates numbered all the sherds in 
gross (for if there were less than six thousand, the ostracism was im- 
perfect); then, laying every name by itself, they pronounced him 
whose name was written by the larger number, banished for ten 
years, with the enjoyment of his estate. As, therefore, they were 
writing the names on the sherds, it is reported that an illiterate 
clownish fellow, giving Aristides his sherd, supposing him a com- 
mon citizen, begged him to write Aristides upon it; and he being 
surprised and asking if Aristides had ever done him any injury, 
"None at all," said he, "neither know I the man; but I am tired of 
hearing him everywhere called the Just." Aristides, hearing this, is 
said to have made no reply, but returned the sherd with his own 
name inscribed. At his departure from the city, lifting up his hands 
to heaven, he made a prayer, (the reverse, it would seem, of that of 
Achilles), that the Athenians might never have any occasion which 
should constrain them to remember Aristides. 

Nevertheless, three years after, when Xerxes marched through 
Thessaly and Bceotia into the country of Attica, repealing the law, 
they decreed the return of the banished; chiefly fearing Aristides, 
lest, joining himself to the enemy, he should corrupt and bring over 
many of his fellow-citizens to the party of the barbarians; much 
mistaking the man, who, already before the decree, was exerting 
himself to excite and encourage the Greeks to the defence of their 

86 plutarch's lives 

liberty. And afterwards, when Themistocles was general with abso- 
lute power, he assisted him in all ways both in action and coun- 
sel; rendering, in consideration of the common security, the greatest 
enemy he had the most glorious of men. For when Eurybiades was 
deliberating to desert the isle of Salamis, and the galleys of the bar- 
barians putting out by night to sea surrounded and beset the narrow 
passage and islands, and nobody was aware how they were en- 
vironed, Aristides, with great hazard, sailed from /Egina through 
the enemy's fleet; and coming by night to Themistocles's tent, and 
calling him out by himself; "If we have any discretion," said he, 
"Themistocles, laying aside at this time our vain and childish con- 
tention, let us enter upon a safe and honorable dispute, vying with 
each other for the preservation of Greece; you in the ruling and 
commanding, I in the subservient and advising part; even, indeed, 
as I now understand you to be alone adhering to the best advice, in 
counselling without any delay to engage in the straits. And in this, 
though our own party oppose, the enemy seems to assist you. For 
the sea behind, and all around us, is covered with their fleet; so that 
we are under a necessity of approving ourselves men of courage, 
and fighting, whether we will or no; for there is no room left us 
for flight." To which Themistocles answered, "I would not will- 
ingly, Aristides, be overcome by you on this occasion; and shall 
endeavor, in emulation of this good beginning, to outdo it in my 
actions." Also relating to him the stratagem he had framed against 
the barbarians, he entreated him to persuade Eurybiades and show 
him, how it was impossible they should save themselves without 
an engagement; as he was the more likely to be believed. Whence, 
in the council of war, Cleocritus, the Corinthian, telling Themis- 
tocles that Aristides did not like his advice, as he was present and 
said nothing, Aristides answered, That he should not have held his 
peace, if Themistocles had not been giving the best advice; and that 
he was now silent not out of any good-will to the person, but in 
approbation of his counsel. 

Thus the Greek captains were employed. But Aristides perceiv- 
ing Psyttalea, a small island that lies within the straits over against 
Salamis, to be filled by a body of the enemy, put aboard his small 
boats the most forward and courageous of his countrymen, and went 


ashore upon it; and, joining battle with the barbarians, slew them 
all, except such more remarkable persons as were taken alive. 
Amongst these were three children of Sandauce, the king's sister, 
whom he immediately sent away to Themistocles, and it is stated 
that in accordance with a certain oracle, they were, by the command 
of Euphrantides, the seer, sacrificed to Bacchus, called Omestes, or 
the devourer. But Aristides, placing armed men all around the 
island, lay in wait for such as were cast upon it, to the intent that 
none of his friends should perish, nor any of his enemies escape. 
For the closest engagement of the ships, and the main fury of the 
whole batde, seems to have been about this place; for which reason 
a trophy was erected in Psyttalea. 

After the fight, Themistocles, to sound Aristides, told him they 
had performed a good piece of service, but there was a better yet 
to be done, the keeping Asia in Europe, by sailing forthwith to the 
Hellespont, and cutting in sunder the bridge. But Aristides, with an 
exclamation, bid him think no more of it, but deliberate and find out 
means for removing the Mede, as quickly as possible, out of Greece; 
lest being enclosed, through want of means to escape, necessity 
should compel him to force his way with so great an army. So 
Themistocles once more despatched Arnaces, the eunuch, his pris- 
oner, giving him in command privately to advertise the king that 
he had diverted the Greeks from their intention of setting sail for 
the bridges, out of the desire he felt to preserve him. 

Xerxes, being much terrified with this, immediately hasted to 
the Hellespont. But Mardonius was left with the most serviceable 
part of the army, about three hundred thousand men, and was a 
formidable enemy, confident in his infantry, and writing messages 
of defiance to the Greeks: "You have overcome by sea men accus- 
tomed to fight on land, and unskilled at the oar; but there lies 
now the open country of Thessaly; and the plains of Bceotia offer 
a broad and worthy field for brave men, either horse or foot, to 
contend in." But he sent privately to the Athenians, both by letter 
and word of mouth from the king, promising to rebuild their city, 
to give them a vast sum of money, and constitute them lords of all 
Greece on condition they were not engaged in the war. The Lace- 
daemonians, receiving news of this, and fearing, despatched an 

88 plutarch's lives 

embassy to the Athenians, entreating that they would send their 
wives and children to Sparta, and receive support from them for 
their superannuated. For, being despoiled both of their city and 
country, the people were suffering extreme distress. Having given 
audience to the ambassadors, they returned an answer, upon the 
motion of Aristides, worthy of the highest admiration; declaring, 
that they forgave their enemies if they thought all things purchas- 
able by wealth, than which they knew nothing of greater value; 
but that they felt offended at the Lacedaemonians, for looking only 
to their present poverty and exigence, without any remembrance of 
their valor and magnanimity, offering them their victuals, to fight 
in the cause of Greece. Aristides, making this proposal and bring- 
ing back the ambassadors into the assembly, charged them to tell 
the Lacedaemonians, that all the treasure on the earth or under 
it, was of less value with the people of Athens, than the liberty of 
Greece. And, showing the sun to those who came from Mardonius, 
"as long as that retains the same course, so long," said he, "shall 
the citizens of Athens wage war with the Persians for the country 
which has been wasted, and the temples that have been profaned 
and burnt by them." Moreover, he proposed a decree, that the 
priests should anathematize him who sent any herald to the Medes, 
or deserted the alliance of Greece. 

When Mardonius made a second incursion into the country of 
Attica, the people passed over again into the isle of Salamis. Aris- 
tides, being sent to Lacedxmon, reproved them for their delay and 
neglect in abandoning Athens once more to the barbarians; and 
demanded their assistance for that part of Greece which was not 
yet lost. The Ephori, hearing this, made show of sporting all day, 
and of carelessly keeping holy day, (for they were then celebrating 
the Hyacinthian festival), but in the night, selecting five thousand 
Spartans, each of whom was attended by seven Helots, they sent 
them forth unknown to those from Athens. And when Aristides 
again reprehended them, they told him in derision that he either 
doted or dreamed, for the army was already at Oresteum, in their 
march towards the strangers; as they called the Persians. Aristides 
answered, that they jested unseasonably, deluding their friends, in- 
stead of their enemies. Thus says Idomeneus. But in the decree of 


Aristides, not himself, but Cimon, Xanthippus, and Myronides are 
appointed ambassadors. 

Being chosen general for the war, he repaired to Plataea, with 
eight thousand Athenians, where Pausanias, generalissimo of all 
Greece, joined him with the Spartans; and the forces of the other 
Greeks came in to them. The whole encampment of the barbarians 
extended all along the bank of the river Asopus, their numbers 
being so great, there was no enclosing them all, but their baggage 
and most valuable things were surrounded with a square bulwark, 
each side of which was the length of ten furlongs. 

Tisamenus, the Elean, had prophesied to Pausanias and all the 
Greeks, and foretold them victory if they made no attempt upon 
the enemy, but stood on their defence. But Aristides sending to 
Delphi, the god answered, that the Athenians should overcome their 
enemies, in case they made supplication to Jupiter and Juno of 
Cithaeron, Pan, and the nymphs Sphragitides, and sacrificed to the 
heroes Androcrates, Leucon, Pisander, Damocrates, Hypsion, Ac- 
tion, and Polyidus; and if they fought within their own territories 
in the plain of Ceres Eleusinia and Proserpine. Aristides was per- 
plexed upon the tidings of this oracle: since the heroes to whom it 
commanded him to sacrifice had been chieftains of the Plataeans, 
and the cave of the nymphs Sphragitides was on the top of Mount 
Cithaeron, on the side facing the setting sun of summer time; in 
which place, as the story goes, there was formerly an oracle, and 
many that lived in the district were inspired with it, whom they 
called Nympholepti, possessed with the nymphs. But the plain of 
Ceres Eleusinia, and the offer of victory to the Athenians, if they 
fought in their own territories, recalled them again, and transferred 
the war into the country of Attica. In this juncture, Arimnestus, 
who commanded the Platseans, dreamed that Jupiter, the Saviour, 
asked him what the Greeks had resolved upon; and that he an- 
swered, "To-morrow, my Lord, we march our army to Eleusis, 
and there give the barbarians battle according to the directions of 
the oracle of Apollo." And that the god replied, they were utterly 
mistaken, for that the places spoken of by the oracle were within the 
bounds of Platxa, and if they sought there they should find them. 
This manifest vision having appeared to Arimnestus, when he 


awoke he sent for the most aged and experienced of his country- 
men, with whom communicating and examining the matter, he 
found that near Hysia:, at the foot of Mount Cithjcron, there was a 
very ancient temple called the temple of Ceres Eleusinia and Pro- 
serpine. He therefore forthwith took Aristides to the place, which 
was very convenient for drawing up an army of foot, because the 
slopes at the bottom of the mountain Cithxron rendered the plain, 
where it comes up to the temple, unfit for the movements of cavalry. 
Also, in the same place, there was the fane of Androcrates, environed 
with a thick shady grove. And that the oracle might be accom- 
plished in all particulars for the hope of victory, Arimnestus pro- 
posed, and the Platsans decreed, that the frontiers of their country 
towards Attica should be removed, and the land given to the Atheni- 
ans, that they might fight in defence of Greece in their own proper 
territory. This zeal and liberality of the Platxans became so fa- 
mous, that Alexander, many years after, when he had obtained the 
dominion of all Asia, upon erecting the walls of Platsea, caused 
proclamation to be made by the herald at the Olympic games, that 
the king did the Platseans this favor in consideration of their noble- 
ness and magnanimity, because, in the war with the Medes, they 
freely gave up their land and zealously fought with the Greeks. 
The Tegeatans, contesting the post of honor with the Athenians, 
demanded, that, according to custom, the Lacedemonians being 
ranged on the right wing of the battle, they might have the left, 
alleging several matters in commendation of their ancestors. The 
Athenians being indignant at the claim, Aristides came forward; 
"To contend with the Tegeatans," said he, "for noble descent and 
valor, the present time permits not: but this we say to you, O you 
Spartans, and you the rest of the Greeks, that place neither takes 
away nor contributes courage: we shall endeavor by crediting and 
maintaining the post you assign us, to reflect no dishonor on our 
former performances. For we are come, not to differ with our 
friends, but to fight our enemies; not to extol our ancestors, but our- 
selves to behave as valiant men. This battle will manifest how much 
each city, captain, and private soldier is worth to Greece." The coun- 
cil of war, upon this address, decided for the Athenians, and gave 
them the other wing of the battle. 


All Greece being in suspense, and especially the affairs of the 
Athenians unsettled, certain persons of great families and posses- 
sions having been impoverished by the war, and seeing all their 
authority and reputation in the city vanished with their wealth, and 
others in possession of their honors and places, convened privately 
at a house in Platara, and conspired for the dissolution of the demo- 
cratic government; and, if the plot should not succeed, to ruin the 
cause and betray all to the barbarians. These matters being in agita- 
tion in the camp, and many persons already corrupted, Aristides, 
perceiving the design, and dreading the present juncture of time, 
determined neither to let the business pass unanimadverted upon, 
nor yet altogether to expose it; not knowing how many the accusa- 
tion might reach, and willing to set bounds to his justice with a 
view to the public convenience. Therefore, of many that were con- 
cerned, he apprehended eight only, two of whom, who were first 
proceeded against and most guilty, /Eschines of Lampra, and Agesias 
of Acharnac, made their escape out of the camp. The rest he dis- 
missed; giving opportunity to such as thought themselves concealed, 
to take courage and repent; intimating that they had in the war a 
great tribunal, where they might clear their guilt by manifesting 
their sincere and good intentions towards their country. 

After this, Mardonius made trial of the Grecian courage, by send- 
ing his whole number of horse, in which he thought himself much 
the stronger, against them, while they were all pitched at the foot 
of Mount Citharron, in strong and rocky places, except the Megari- 
ans. They, being three thousand in number, were encamped on the 
plain, where they were damaged by the horse charging and making 
inroads upon them on all hands. They sent, therefore, in haste to 
Pausanias, demanding relief, as not being able alone to sustain the 
great numbers of the barbarians. Pausanias, hearing this, and per- 
ceiving the tents of the Megarians already hid by the multitude of 
darts and arrows, and themselves driven together into a narrow 
space, was at a loss himself how to aid them with his battalion of 
heavy-armed Lacedaemonians. He proposed it, therefore, as a point 
of emulation in valor and love of distinction, to the commanders 
and captains who were around him, if any would voluntarily take 
upon them the defence and succor of the Megarians. The rest being 


backward, Aristides undertook the enterprise for the Athenians, 
and sent Olympiodorus, the most valiant of his inferior officers, 
with three hundred chosen men and some archers under his com- 
mand. These being soon in readiness, and running upon the enemy, 
as soon as Masistius, who commanded the barbarians' horse, a man 
of wonderful courage and of extraordinary bulk and comeliness of 
person, perceived it, turning his steed he made towards them. And 
they sustaining the shock and joining battle with him, there was a 
sharp conflict, as though by this encounter they were to try the 
success of the whole war. But after Masistius's horse received a 
wound, and flung him, and he falling could hardly raise himself 
through the weight of his armor, the Athenians, pressing upon him 
with blows, could not easily get at his person, armed as he was, his 
breast, his head, and his limbs all over, with gold and brass and iron; 
but one of them at last, running him in at the visor of his helmet, 
slew him; and the rest of the Persians, leaving the body, fled. The 
greatness of the Greek success was known, not by the multitude of 
the slain, (for an inconsiderable number were killed), but by the 
sorrow the barbarians expressed. For they shaved themselves, their 
horses, and mules for the death of Masistius, and filled the plain 
with howling and lamentation; having lost a person, who, next to 
Mardonius himself, was by many degrees the chief among them, 
both for valor and authority. 

After this skirmish of the horse, they kept from fighting a long 
time; for the soothsayers, by the sacrifices, foretold the victory both 
to Greeks and Persians, if they stood upon the defensive part only, 
but if they became aggressors, the contrary. At length Mardonius, 
when he had but a few days' provision, and the Greek forces in- 
creased continually by some or other that came in to them, impatient 
of delay, determined to lie still no longer, but, passing Asopus by 
daybreak, to fall unexpectedly upon the Greeks; and signified the 
same over night to the captains of his host. But about midnight, a 
certain horseman stole into the Greek camp, and coming to the 
watch, desired them to call Aristides, the Athenian, to him. He 
coming speedily; "I am," said the stranger, "Alexander, king of the 
Macedonians, and am arrived here through the greatest danger in 
the world for the good-will I bear you, lest a sudden onset should 


dismay you, so as to behave in the fight worse than usual. For 
to-morrow Mardonius will give you battle, urged, not by any hope 
of success or courage, but by want of victuals since, indeed, the 
prophets prohibit him the battle, the sacrifices and oracles being un- 
favorable; and the army is in despondency and consternation; but 
necessity forces him to try his fortune, or sit still and endure the 
last extremity of want." Alexander, thus saying, entreated Aristides 
to take notice and remember him, but not to tell any other. But he 
told him, it was not convenient to conceal the matter from Pausanias 
(because he was general) ; as for any other, he would keep it secret 
from them till the batde was fought; but if the Greeks obtained 
the victory, that then no one should be ignorant of Alexander's good- 
will and kindness towards them. After this, the king of the Mace- 
donians rode back again, and Aristides went to Pausanias's tent and 
told him; and they sent for the rest of the captains and gave orders 
that the army should be in batde array. 

Here, according to Herodotus, Pausanias spoke to Aristides, desir- 
ing him to transfer the Athenians to the right wing of the army 
opposite to the Persians, (as they would do better service against 
them, having been experienced in their way of combat, and em- 
boldened with former victories), and to give him the left, where the 
Medizing Greeks were to make their assault. The rest of the 
Athenian captains regarded this as an arrogant and interfering act 
on the part of Pausanias; because, while permitting the rest of the 
army to keep their stations, he removed them only from place to 
place, like so many Helots, opposing them to the greatest strength 
of the enemy. But Aristides said, they were altogether in the wrong. 
If so short a time ago they contested the left wing with the Tege- 
atans, and gloried in being preferred before them, now, when the 
Lacedaemonians give them place in the right, and yield them in a 
manner the leading of the army, how is it they are discontented with 
the honor that is done them, and do not look upon it as an advan- 
tage to have to fight, not against their countrymen and kindred, but 
barbarians, and such as were by nature their enemies? After this, 
the Athenians very readily changed places with the Lacedaemonians, 
and there went words amongst them as they were encouraging each 
other, that the enemy approached with no better arms or stouter 


hearts than those who fought the battle of Marathon; but had the 
same bows and arrows, and the same embroidered coats and gold, 
and the same delicate bodies and effeminate minds within; "while 
we have the same weapons and bodies, and our courage augmented 
by our victories; and fight not like others in defence of our country 
only, but for the trophies of Salamis and Marathon; that they may 
not be looked upon as due to Miltiades or fortune, but to the people 
of Athens." Thus, therefore, were they making haste to change the 
order of their battle. But the Thebans, understanding it by some 
deserters, forthwith acquainted Mardonius; and he, either for fear 
of the Athenians, or a desire to engage the Lacedaemonians, marched 
over his Persians to the other wing, and commanded the Greeks of 
his party to be posted opposite to the Athenians. But this change 
was observed on the other side, and Pausanias, wheeling about again, 
ranged himself on the right, and Mardonius, also at first, took the 
left wing over against the Lacedaemonians. So the day passed with- 
out action. 

After this, the Greeks determined in council to remove their 
camp some distance, to possess themselves of a place convenient for 
watering; because the springs near them were polluted and de- 
stroyed by the barbarian cavalry. But night being come, and the 
captains setting out towards the place designed for their encamping, 
the soldiers were not very ready to follow, and keep in a body, but, 
as soon as they had quitted their first entrenchments, made towards 
the city of Platara; and there was much tumult and disorder as they 
dispersed to various quarters and proceeded to pitch their tents. The 
Lacedaemonians, against their will, had the fortune to be left by the 
rest. For Amompharetus, a brave and daring man, who had long 
been burning with desire of the fight, and resented their many 
lingerings and delays, calling the removal of the camp a mere run- 
ning away and flight, protested he would not desert his post, but 
would there remain with his company, and sustain the charge of 
Mardonius. And when Pausanias came to him and told him he did 
these things by the common vote and determination of the Greeks, 
Amompharetus taking up a great stone and flinging it at Pausanias's 
feet, and "by this token," said he, "do I give my suffrage for the 
battle, nor have I any concern with the cowardly consultations and 


decrees o£ other men." Pausanias, not knowing what to do in the 
present juncture, sent to the Athenians, who were drawing off, to 
stay to accompany him; and so he himself set off with the rest of 
the army for Plataea, hoping thus to make Amompharetus move. 

Meantime, day came upon them; and Mardonius (for he was not 
ignorant of their deserting their camp) having his army in array, 
fell upon the Lacedaemonians with great shouting and noise of 
barbarous people, as if they were not about to join battle, but crush 
the Greeks in their flight. Which within a very little came to pass. 
For Pausanias, perceiving what was done, made a halt, and com- 
manded every one to put themselves in order for the batde; but 
either through his anger with Amompharetus, or the disturbance he 
was in by reason of the sudden approach of the enemy, he forgot 
to give the signal to the Greeks in general. Whence it was, that 
they did not come in immediately, or in a body,to their assistance, 
but by small companies and straggling, when the fight was already 
begun. Pausanias, offering sacrifice, could not procure favorable 
omens, and so commanded the Lacedaemonians, setting down their 
shields at their feet to abide quietly and attend his directions, mak- 
ing no resistance to any of their enemies. And, he sacrificing again 
a second time, the horse charged, and some of the Lacedaemonians 
were wounded. At this time, also, Callicrates, who, we are told, 
was the most comely man in the army, being shot with an arrow 
and upon the point of expiring, said, that he lamented not his death 
(for he came from home to lay down his life in the defence of 
Greece) but that he died without action. The case was indeed hard, 
and the forbearance of the men wonderful; for they let the enemy 
charge without repelling them; and, expecting their proper oppor- 
tunity from the gods and their general, suffered themselves to be 
wounded and slain in their ranks. And some say, that while Pau- 
sanias was at sacrifice and prayers, some space out of the battle- 
array, certain Lydians, falling suddenly upon him, plundered and 
scattered the sacrifice; and that Pausanias and his company, having 
no arms, beat them with staves and whips; and that in imitation 
of this attack, the whipping the boys about the altar, and after it 
the Lydian procession, are to this day practised in Sparta. 

Pausanias, therefore, being troubled at these things, while the 

g/6 plutarch's lives 

priest went on offering one sacrifice after another, turns himself 
towards the temple with tears in his eyes, and, lifting up his hands 
to heaven, besought Juno of Cithaeron, and the other tutelar gods 
of the Plataeans, if it were not in the fates for the Greeks to obtain 
the victory, that they might not perish, without performing some 
remarkable thing, and by their actions demonstrating to their ene- 
mies, that they waged war with men of courage, and soldiers. 
While Pausanias was thus in the act of supplication, the sacrifices 
appeared propitious, and the soothsayers foretold victory. The word 
being given, the Lacedaemonian battalion of foot seemed, on the 
sudden, like some one fierce animal, setting up his bristles, and 
betaking himself to the combat; and the barbarians perceived that 
they encountered with men who would fight it to the death. There- 
fore, holding their wicker-shields before them, they shot their ar- 
rows amongst the Lacedaemonians. But they, keeping together in 
the order of a phalanx, and falling upon the enemies, forced their 
shields out of their hands, and, striking with their pikes at the 
breasts and faces of the Persians, overthrew many of them; who, 
however, fell not either unrevenged or without courage. For taking 
hold of the spears with their bare hands, they broke many of them, 
and betook themselves not without effect to the sword; and making 
use of their falchions and scimitars, and wresting the Lacedaemo- 
nians' shields from them, and grappling with them, it was a long 
time that they made resistance. 

Meanwhile, for some time, the Athenians stood still, waiting for 
the Lacedaemonians to come up. But when they heard much noise 
as of men engaged in fight, and a messenger, they say, came from 
Pausanias, to advertise them of what was going on, they soon 
hasted to their assistance. And as they passed through the plain 
to the place where the noise was, the Greeks, who took part with 
the enemy, came upon them. Aristides, as soon as he saw them, 
going a considerable space before the rest, cried out to them, con- 
juring them by the guardian gods of Greece to forbear the fight, and 
be no impediment or stop to those, who were going to succor the 
defenders of Greece. But when he perceived they gave no attention 
to him, and had prepared themselves for the battle, then turning 
from the present relief of the Lacedaemonians, he engaged them, 


being five thousand in number. But the greatest part soon gave way 
and retreated, as the barbarians also were put to flight. The sharp- 
est conflict is said to have been against the Thebans, the chiefest 
and most powerful persons among them at that time siding zeal- 
ously with the Medes, and leading the multitude not according to 
their own inclinations, but as being subjects of an oligarchy. 

The batde being thus divided, the Lacedaemonians first beat off 
the Persians; and a Spartan, named Arimnestus, slew Mardonius 
by a blow on the head with a stone, as the oracle in the temple of 
Amphiaraus had foretold to him. For Mardonius sent a Lydian 
thither, and another person, a Carian, to the cave of Trophonius. 
This latter, the priest of the oracle answered in his own language. 
But the Lydian sleeping in the temple of Amphiaraus, it seemed 
to him that a minister of the divinity stood before him and com- 
manded him to be gone; and on his refusing to do it, flung a 
great stone at his head, so that he thought himself slain with the 
blow. Such is the story. — They drove the fliers within their walls 
of wood; and, a little time after, the Athenians put the Thebans to 
flight, killing three hundred of the chiefest and of greatest note 
among them in the actual fight itself. For when they began to fly, 
news came that the army of the barbarians was besieged within 
their palisade: and so giving the Greeks opportunity to save them- 
selves, they marched to assist at the fortifications; and coming in 
to the Lacedxmonians, who were altogether unhandy and unex- 
perienced in storming, they took the camp with great slaughter of 
the enemy. For of three hundred thousand, forty thousand only are 
said to have escaped with Artabazus; while on the Greeks' side 
there perished in all thirteen hundred and sixty: of which fifty-two 
were Athenians, all of the tribe Mantis, that fought, says Clidemus, 
with the greatest courage of any; and for this reason the men of this 
tribe used to offer sacrifice for the victory, as enjoined by the oracle, 
to the nymphs Sphragitides at the expense of the public: ninety-one 
were Lacedaemonians, and sixteen Tegeatans. It is strange, there- 
fore, upon what grounds Herodotus can say, that they only, and 
none other, encountered the enemy; for the number of the slain 
and their monuments testify that the victory was obtained by all in 
general; and if the rest had been standing still, while the inhabi- 

98 plutarch's lives 

tants of three cities only had been engaged in the fight, they would 
not have set on the altar the inscription: — 

"The Greeks, when by their courage and their might, 
They had repelled the Persian in the fight, 
The common altar of freed Greece to be, 
Reared this to Jupiter who guards the free." 

They fought this battle on the fourth day of the month Boedromion, 
according to the Athenians, but according to the Boeotians, on the 
twenty-seventh of Panemus; — on which day there is still a conven- 
tion of the Greeks at Plata:a, and the Plataeans still offer sacrifice 
for the victory to Jupiter of freedom. As for the difference of days, 
it is not to be wondered at, since even at the present time, when 
there is a far more accurate knowledge of astronomy, some begin 
the month at one time, and some at another. 

After this, the Athenians not yielding the honor of the day to the 
Lacedaemonians, nor consenting they should erect a trophy, things 
were not far from being ruined by dissension amongst the armed 
Greeks; had not Aristides, by much soothing and counselling the 
commanders, especially Leocrates and Myronides, pacified and per- 
suaded them to leave the thing to the decision of the Greeks. And 
on their proceeding to discuss the matter, Theogiton, the Megarian, 
declared the honor of the victory was to be given some other city, if 
they would prevent a civil war; after him Cleocritus of Corinth 
rising up, made people think he would ask the palm for the Cor- 
inthians, (for next to Sparta and Athens, Corinth was in greatest 
estimation); but he delivered his opinion, to the general admira- 
tion, in favor of the Platarans; and counselled to take away all 
contention by giving them the reward and glory of the victory, 
whose being honored could be distasteful to neither party. This 
being said, first Aristides gave consent in the name of the Athe- 
nians, and Pausanias, then, for the Lacedaemonians. So, being recon- 
ciled, they set apart eighty talents for the Plataeans, with which they 
built the temple and dedicated the image to Minerva, and adorned 
the temple with pictures, which even to this day retain their lustre. 
But the Lacedaemonians and Athenians, each erected a trophy apart 
by themselves. On their consulting the oracle about offering sacri- 
fice, Apollo answered, that they should dedicate an altar to Jupiter 


of freedom, but should not sacrifice till they had extinguished the 
fires throughout the country, as having been defiled by the bar- 
barians, and had kindled unpolluted fire at the common altar at 
Delphi. The magistrates of Greece, therefore, went forthwith and 
compelled such as had fire to put it out; and Euchidas, a Plataean, 
promising to fetch fire, with all possible speed, from the altar of 
the god, went to Delphi, and having sprinkled and purified his 
body, crowned himself with laurel; and taking the fire from the 
altar ran back to Platxa, and got back there before sunset, perform- 
ing in one day a journey of a thousand furlongs; and saluting his 
fellow-citizens and delivering them the fire, he immediately fell 
down, and in a short time after expired. But the Platacans, taking 
him up, interred him in the temple of Diana Euclia, setting this 
inscription over him: "Euchidas ran to Delphi and back again in 
one day." Most people believe that Euclia is Diana, and call her 
by that name. But some say she was the daughter of Hercules, by 
Myrto, the daughter of Mencetius, and sister of Patroclus, and, 
dying a virgin, was worshipped by the Boeotians and Locrians. Her 
altar and image are set up in all their market-places, and those of 
both sexes that are about marrying, sacrificed to her before the 

A general assembly of all the Greeks being called, Aristides pro- 
posed a decree, that the deputies and religious representatives of the 
Greek states should assemble annually at Platxa, and every fifth 
year celebrate the Eleutheria, or games of freedom. And that there 
should be a levy upon all Greece, for the war against the bar- 
barians, of ten thousand spearmen, one thousand horse, and a hun- 
dred sail of ships; but the Platasans to be exempt, and sacred to the 
service of the gods, offering sacrifice for the welfare of Greece. 
These things being ratified, the Platseans undertook the perform- 
ance of annual sacrifice to such as were slain and buried in that 
place; which they still perform in the following manner. On the 
sixteenth day of Msemacterion (which with the Boeotians is Alal- 
comenus) they make their procession, which, beginning by break 
of day, is led by a trumpeter sounding for onset; then follow certain 
chariots loaded with myrrh and garlands; and then a black bull; 
then come the young men of free birth carrying libations of wine 


and milk in large two-handed vessels, and jars of oil and precious 
ointments, none of servile condition being permitted to have any 
hand in this ministration, because the men died in defence of free- 
dom; after all comes the chief magistrate of Plataea, (for whom it 
is unlawful at other times either to touch iron, or wear any other 
colored garment but white), at that time apparelled in a purple 
robe; and, taking a water-pot out of the city record-office, he pro- 
ceeds, bearing a sword in his hand, through the middle of the town 
to the sepulchres. Then drawing water out of a spring, he washes 
and anoints the monuments, and sacrificing the bull upon a pile 
of wood, and making supplication to Jupiter and Mercury of the 
earth, invites those valiant men who perished in the defence of 
Greece, to the banquet and the libations of blood. After this, mixing 
a bowl of wine, and pouring out for himself, he says, "I drink to 
those who lost their lives for the liberty of Greece." These solem- 
nities the Platxans observe to this day. 

Aristides perceived that the Athenians, after their return into the 
city, were eager for a democracy; and deeming the people to de- 
serve consideration on account of their valiant behavior, as also that 
it was a matter of difficulty, they being well armed, powerful, and 
full of spirit with their victories, to oppose them by force, he brought 
forward a decree, that every one might share in the government, 
and the archons be chosen out of the whole body of the Athenians. 
And on Themistocles telling the people in assembly that he had 
some advice for them, which could not be given in public, but was 
most important for the advantage and security of the city, they ap- 
pointed Aristides alone to hear and consider it with him. And on 
his acquainting Aristides that his intent was to set fire to the 
arsenal of the Greeks, for by that means should the Athenians be- 
come supreme masters of all Greece, Aristides, returning to the 
assembly, told them, that nothing was more advantageous than 
what Themistocles designed, and nothing more unjust. The Athe- 
nians, hearing this, gave Themistocles order to desist; such was the 
love of justice felt by the people, and such the credit and confidence 
they reposed in Aristides. 

Being sent in joint commission with Cimon to the war, he took 
notice that Pausanias and the other Spartan captains made them- 


selves offensive by imperiousness and harshness to the confederates; 
and by being himself gentle and considerate with them and by the 
courtesy and disinterested temper which Cimon after his example, 
manifested in the expeditions, he stole away the chief command 
from the Lacedaemonians, neither by weapons, ships, or horses, but 
by equity and wise policy. For the Athenians being endeared to 
the Greeks by the justice of Aristides and by Cimon's moderation, 
the tyranny and selfishness of Pausanias rendered them yet more 
desirable. He on all occasions treated the commanders of the con- 
federates haughtily and roughly; and the common soldiers he pun- 
ished with stripes, or standing under the iron anchor for a whole 
day together; neither was it permitted for any to provide straw for 
themselves to lie on, or forage for their horses, or to come near the 
springs to water before the Spartans were furnished, but servants 
with whips drove away such as approached. And when Aristides 
once was about to complain and expostulate with Pausanias, he told 
him, with an angry look, that he was not at leisure, and gave no 
attention to him. The consequence was that the sea captains and 
generals of the Greeks, in particular, the Chians, Samians, and Les- 
bians, came to Aristides and requested him to be their general, and 
to receive the confederates into his command, who had long de- 
sired to relinquish the Spartans and come over to the Athenians. 
But he answered, that he saw both equity and necessity in what 
they said, but their fidelity required the test of some action, the com- 
mission of which would make it impossible for the multitude to 
change their minds again. Upon which Uliades, the Samian, and 
Antagoras of Chios, conspiring together, ran in near Byzantium 
on Pausanias's galley, getting her between them as she was sailing 
before the rest. But when Pausanias, beholding them, rose up and 
furiously threatened soon to make them know that they had been 
endangering not his galley, but their own countries, they bid him 
go his way, and thank Fortune that fought for him at Plataea; for 
hitherto, in reverence to that, the Greeks had forborne from in- 
flicting on him the punishment he deserved. In fine, they all went 
off and joined the Athenians. And here the magnanimity of the 
Lacedaemonians was wonderful. For when they perceived that 
their generals were becoming corrupted by the greatness of their 


authority, they voluntarily laid down the chief command, and left off 
sending any more of them to the wars, choosing rather to have citi- 
zens of moderation and consistent in the observance of their cus- 
toms, than to possess the dominion of all Greece. 

Even during the command of the Lacedaemonians, the Greeks 
paid a certain contribution towards the maintenance of the war; 
and being desirous to be rated city by city in their due proportion, 
they desired Aristides of the Athenians, and gave him command, 
surveying the country and revenue, to assess every one according to 
their ability and what they were worth. But he, being so largely 
empowered, Greece as it were submitting all her affairs to his sole 
management, went out poor, and returned poorer; laying the tax 
not only without corruption and injustice, but to the satisfaction and 
convenience of all. For as the ancients celebrated the age of Saturn, 
so did the confederates of Athens Aristides's taxation, terming it 
the happy time of Greece; and that more especially, as the sum 
was in a short time doubled, and afterwards trebled. For the assess- 
ment which Aristides made, was four hundred and sixty talents. 
But to this Pericles added very near one third part more; for 
Thucydides says, that in the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, 
the Athenians had coming in from their confederates six hundred 
talents. But after Pericles's death, the demagogues, increasing by 
little and little, raised it to the sum of thirteen hundred talents; not 
so much through the war's being so expensive and chargeable either 
by its length or ill success, as by their alluring the people to spend 
upon largesses and play-houses allowances, and in erecting statues 
and temples. Aristides, therefore, having acquired a wonderful and 
great reputation by this levy of the tribute, Themistocles is said to 
have derided him, as if this had been not the commendation of a 
man, but a money-bag; a retaliation, though not in the same kind, 
for some free words which Aristides had used. For he, when The- 
mistocles once was saying that he thought the highest virtue of a 
general was to understand and foreknow the measures the enemy 
would take, replied, "This, indeed, Themistocles, is simply neces- 
sary, but the excellent thing in a general is to keep his hands from 
taking money." 

Aristides, moreover, made all the people of Greece swear to keep 


the league, and himself took the oath in the name of the Athenians, 
flinging wedges of redhot iron into the sea, after curses against 
such as should make breach of their vow. But afterwards, it would 
seem, when things were in such a state as constrained them to 
govern with a stronger hand, he bade the Athenians to throw the 
perjury upon him, and manage affairs as convenience required. 
And, in general, Theophrastus tells us, that Aristides was, in his 
own private affairs, and those of his fellow-citizens, rigorously just, 
but that in public matters he acted often in accordance with his 
country's policy, which demanded, sometimes, not a little injustice. 
It is reported of him that he said in a debate, upon the motion of 
the Samians for removing the treasure from Delos to Athens, con- 
trary to the league, that the thing indeed was not just, but was 

In fine, having established the dominion of his city over so many 
people, he himself remained indigent; and always delighted as 
much in the glory of being poor, as in that of his trophies; as is 
evident from the following story. Callias, the torchbearer, was re- 
lated to him: and was prosecuted by his enemies in a capital cause, 
in which, after they had slightly argued the matters on which they 
indicted him, they proceeded, beside the point, to address the judges: 
"You know," said they, "Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, who is 
the admiration of all Greece. In what a condition do you think his 
family is in at his house, when you see him appear in public in such 
a threadbare cloak? Is it not probable that one who, out of doors, 
goes thus exposed to the cold, must want food and other necessaries 
at home? Callias, the wealthiest of the Athenians, does nothing to 
relieve either him or his wife and children in their poverty, though 
he is his own cousin, and has made use of him in many cases, 
and often reaped advantage by his interest with you." But Callias, 
perceiving the judges were moved more particularly by this, and 
were exasperated against him, called in Aristides, requiring him to 
testify that when he frequently offered him divers presents, and en- 
treated him to accept them, he had refused, answering, that it be- 
came him better to be proud of his poverty than Callias of his 
wealth: since there are many to be seen that make a good, or a bad 
use of riches, but it is difficult, comparatively, to meet with one who 


supports poverty in a noble spirit; those only should be ashamed of 
it who incurred it against their wills. On Aristides deposing these 
facts in favor of Callias, there was none who heard them, that went 
not away desirous rather to be poor like Aristides, than rich as 
Callias. Thus ^Eschines, the scholar of Socrates, writes. But Plato 
declares, that of all the great and renowned men in the city of 
Athens, he was the only one worthy of consideration; for Themis- 
tocles, Cimon, and Pericles filled the city with porticoes, treasure, 
and many other vain things, but Aristides guided his public life by 
the rule of justice. He showed his moderation very plainly in his 
conduct towards Themistocles himself. For though Themistocles 
had been his adversary in all his undertakings, and was the cause 
of his banishment, yet when he afforded a similar opportunity of 
revenge, being accused to the city, Aristides bore him no malice; 
but while Alcmxon, Cimon, and many others, were prosecuting and 
impeaching him, Aristides alone, neither did, nor said any ill 
against him, and no more triumphed over his enemy in his adver- 
sity, than he had envied him his prosperity. 

Some say Aristides died in Pontus, during a voyage upon the 
affairs of the public. Others that he died of old age at Athens, being 
in great honor and veneration amongst his fellow-citizens. But 
Craterus, the Macedonian, relates his death as follows. After the 
banishment of Themistocles, he says, the people growing insolent, 
there sprung up a number of false and frivolous accusers, impeach- 
ing the best and most influential men and exposing them to the 
envy of the multitude, whom their good fortune and power had 
filled with self-conceit. Amongst these, Aristides was condemned 
of bribery, upon the accusation of Diophantus of Amphitrope, for 
taking money from the Ionians when he was collector of the tribute; 
and being unable to pay the fine, which was fifty minx, sailed to 
Ionia, and died there. But of this Craterus brings no written proof, 
neither the sentence of his condemnation, nor the decree of the 
people; though in general it is tolerably usual with him to set down 
such things and to cite his authors. Almost all others who have 
spoken of the misdeeds of the people towards their generals, collect 
them all together, and tell us of the banishment of Themistocles, 
Miltiades's bonds, Pericles's fine, and the death of Paches in the 


judgment hall, who, upon receiving sentence, killed himself on the 
hustings, with many things of the like nature. They add the ban- 
ishment of Aristides; but of this his condemnation, they make no 

Moreover, his monument is to be seen at Phalerum, which they 
say was built him by the city, he not having left enough even to 
defray funeral charges. And it is stated, that his two daughters 
were publicly married out of the prytaneum, or state-house, by the 
city, which decreed each of them three thousand drachmas for her 
portion; and that upon his son Lysimachus, the people bestowed a 
hundred minas of money, and as many acres of planted land, and 
ordered him besides, upon the motion of Alcibiades, four drachmas 
a day. Furthermore, Lysimachus leaving a daughter, named Poly- 
crite, as Callisthenes says, the people voted her, also, the same allow- 
ance for food with those that obtained the victory in the Olympic 
Games. But Demetrius the Phalerian, Hieronymus the Rhodian, 
Aristoxenus the musician, and Aristotle, (if the Treatise of No- 
bility is to be reckoned among the genuine pieces of Aristode), say 
that Myrto, Aristides's granddaughter, lived with Socrates the phil- 
osopher, who indeed had another wife, but took her into his house, 
being a widow, by reason of her indigence, and want of the necessa- 
ries of life. But Panauius sufficiently confutes this in his books con- 
cerning Socrates. Demetrius the Phalerian, in his Socrates, says 
he knew one Lysimachus, son to the daughter of Aristides, ex- 
tremely poor, who used to sit near what is called the Iaccheum, and 
sustained himself by a table for interpreting dreams and that, upon 
his proposal and representations, a decree was passed by the people, 
to give the mother and aunt of this man half a drachma a day. The 
same Demetrius, when he was legislating himself, decreed each of 
these women a drachma per diem. And it is not to be wondered 
at, that the people of Athens should take such care of people living 
in the city, since hearing the granddaughter of Aristogiton was in 
a low condition in the isle of Lemnos, and so poor nobody would 
marry her, they brought her back to Athens, and, marrying her to 
a man of good birth, gave a farm at Potamus as her marriage- 
portion; and of similar humanity and bounty the city of Athens, 
even in our age, has given numerous proofs, and is justly admired 
and respected in consequence. 


ALCIBIADES, as it is supposed, was anciently descended from 
L-\ Eurysaces, the son of Ajax, by his father's side; and by his 
■a. A. mother's side from Alcmaron. Dinomache, his mother, was 
the daughter of Megacles. His father, Clinias, having fitted out a 
galley at his own expense, gained great honor in the sea-fight at 
Artemisium, and was afterwards slain in the battle of Coronea, 
fighting against the Boeotians. Pericles and Ariphron, the sons of 
Xanthippus, nearly related to him, became the guardians of Alci- 
biades. It has been said not untruly that the friendship which Soc- 
rates felt for him has much contributed to his fame; and certain it 
is, that, though we have no account from any writer concerning the 
mother of Nicias or Demosthenes, of Lamachus or Phormion, of 
Thrasybulus or Theramenes, notwithstanding these were all illus- 
trious men of the same period, yet we know even the nurse of Alci- 
biades, that her country was Lacedimon, and her name Amyda; 
and that Zopyrus was his teacher and attendant; the one being 
recorded by Antisthenes, and the other by Plato. 

It is not, perhaps, material to say any thing of the beauty of 
Alcibiades, only that it bloomed with him in all the ages of his life, 
in his infancy, in his youth, and in his manhood; and, in the pe- 
culiar character becoming to each of these periods, gave him, in 
every one of them, a grace and a charm. What Euripides says, that 

"Of all fair things the autumn, too, is fair," 

is by no means universally true. But it happened so with Alcibiades, 
amongst few others, by reason of his happy constitution and natural 
vigor of body. It is said that his lisping, when he spoke, became 
him well, and gave a grace and persuasiveness to his rapid speech. 
Aristophanes takes notice of it in the verses in which he jests at 

1 06 


Theorus; "How like a colax he is," says Alcibiades, meaning a 
corax, 1 on which it is remarked, 

"How very happily he lisped the truth." 

Archippus also alludes to it in a passage where he ridicules the son 
of Alcibiades; 

"That people may believe him like his father, 
He walks like one dissolved in luxury, 
Lets his robe trail behind him on the ground, 
Carelessly leans his head, and in his talk 
Affects to lisp." 

His conduct displayed many great inconsistencies and variations, 
not unnaturally, in accordance with the many and wonderful vicis- 
situdes of his fortunes; but among the many strong passions of his 
real character, the one most prevailing of all, was his ambition and 
desire of superiority, which appears in several anecdotes told of his 
sayings whilst he was a child. Once being hard pressed in wrestling, 
and fearing to be thrown, he got the hand of his antagonist to his 
mouth, and bit it with all his force; and when the other loosed his 
hold presently, and said, "You bite, Alcibiades, like a woman." 
"No," replied he, "like a lion." Another time as he played at dice 
in the street, being then but a child, a loaded cart came that way, 
when it was his turn to throw; at first he called to the driver to 
stop, because he was to throw in the way over which the cart was 
to pass; but the man giving him no attention and driving on, when 
the rest of the boys divided and gave way, Alcibiades threw him- 
self on his face before the cart, and, stretching himself out, bade 
the carter pass on now if he would; which so startled the man, that 
he put back his horses, while all that saw it were terrified, and, 
crying out, ran to assist Alcibiades. When he began to study, he 
obeyed all his other masters fairly well, but refused to learn upon 
the flute, as a sordid thing, and not becoming a free citizen; saying, 
that to play on the lute or the harp does not in any way disfigure a 
man's body or face, but one is hardly to be known by the most inti- 
mate friends, when playing on the flute. Besides, one who plays on 

1 This fashionable Attic lisp, or slovenly articulation, turned the sound r into /. 
Colax, a flatterer; Corax, a crow. 

108 plutarch's lives 

the harp may speak or sing at the same time; but the use of the flute 
stops the mouth, intercepts the voice, and prevents all articulation. 
"Therefore," said he, "let the Theban youths pipe, who do not know 
how to speak, but we Athenians, as our ancestors have told us, 
have Minerva for our patroness, and Apollo for our protector, one 
of whom threw away the flute, and the other stripped the Flute- 
player of his skin." Thus, between raillery and good earnest, Alci- 
biades kept not only himself but others from learning, as it pres- 
ently became the talk of the young boys, how Alcibiades despised 
playing on the flute, and ridiculed those who studied it. In conse- 
quence of which, it ceased to be reckoned amongst the liberal accom- 
plishments, and became generally neglected. 

It is stated in the invective which Antiphon wrote against Alci- 
biades, that once, when he was a boy, he ran away to the house of 
Democrates, one of those who made a favorite of him, and that 
Ariphron had determined to cause proclamation to be made for 
him, had not Pericles diverted him from it, by saying, that if he 
were dead, the proclaiming of him could only cause it to be discov- 
ered one day sooner, and if he were safe, it would be a reproach to 
him as long as he lived. Antiphon also says, that he killed one of 
his own servants with the blow of a staff in Sibyrtius's wrestling 
ground. But it is unreasonable to give credit to all that is objected 
by an enemy, who makes open profession of his design to defame 

It was manifest that the many well-born persons who were con- 
tinually seeking his company, and making their court to him, were 
attracted and captivated by his brilliant and extraordinary beauty 
only. But the affection which Socrates entertained for him is a 
great evidence of the natural noble qualities and good disposition 
of the boy, which Socrates, indeed, detected both in and under his 
personal beauty; and, fearing that his wealth and station, and the 
great number both of strangers and Athenians who flattered and 
caressed him, might at last corrupt him, resolved, if possible, to in- 
terpose, and preserve so hopeful a plant from perishing in the 
flower, before its fruit came to perfection. For never did fortune 
surround and enclose a man with so many of those things which 
we vulgarly call goods, or so protect him from every weapon of 


philosophy, and fence him from every access of free and searching 
words, as she did Alcibiades; who, from the beginning, was exposed 
to the flatteries of those who sought merely his gratification, such 
as might well unnerve him, and indispose him to listen to any real 
adviser or instructor. Yet such was the happiness of his genius, 
that he discerned Socrates from the rest, and admitted him, whilst 
he drove away the wealthy and the noble who made court to him. 
And, in a little time, they grew intimate, and Alcibiades, listening 
now to language entirely free from every thought of unmanly fond- 
ness and silly displays of affection, finding himself with one who 
sought to lay open to him the deficiencies of his mind, and repress 
his vain and foolish arrogance, 

"Dropped like the craven cock his conquered wing." 

He esteemed these endeavors of Socrates as most truly a means 
which the gods made use of for the care and preservation of youth, 2 
and began to think meanly of himself, and to admire him; to be 
pleased with his kindness, and to stand in awe of his virtue; and, 
unawares to himself, there became formed in his mind that reflex 
image and reciprocation of Love, or Anteros, 3 that Plato talks of. 
It was a matter of general wonder, when people saw him joining 
Socrates in his meals and his exercises, living with him in the same 
tent, whilst he was reserved and rough to all others who made their 
addresses to him, and acted, indeed, with great insolence to some 
of them. As in particular to Anytus, the son of Anthemion, one 
who was very fond of him, and invited him to an entertainment 
which he had prepared for some strangers. Alcibiades refused the 
invitation; but, having drunk to excess at his own house with some 
of his companions, went thither with them to play some frolic; 
and, standing at the door of the room where the guests were en- 
joying themselves, and seeing the tables covered with gold and 
silver cups, he commanded his servants to take away the one half 
of them, and carry them to his own house; and then, disdaining so 
much as to enter into the room himself, as soon as he had done this, 
went away. The company was indignant, and exclaimed at his 

1 In allusion to the philosophical theory which he quoted in the life of Theseus, that 
love is a divine provision for the care of the young. 

' Eros and Anteros, Love and Love-again. 


rude and insulting conduct; Anytus, however, said, on the con- 
trary he had shown great consideration and tenderness in taking 
only a part, when he might have taken all. 

He behaved in the same manner to all others who courted him, 
except only one stranger, who, as the story is told, having but a 
small estate, sold it all for about a hundred staters, which he pre- 
sented to Alcibiades, and besought him to accept. Alcibiades, smil- 
ing and well pleased at the thing, invited him to supper, and, after 
a very kind entertainment, gave him his gold again, requiring him, 
moreover, not to fail to be present the next day, when the public 
revenue was offered to farm, and to outbid all others. The man 
would have excused himself, because the contract was so large, and 
would cost many talents; but Alcibiades, who had at that time a 
private pique against the existing farmers of the revenue, threatened 
to have him beaten if he refused. The next morning, the stranger, 
coming to the market-place, offered a talent more than the exist- 
ing rate; upon which the farmers, enraged and consulting together, 
called upon him to name his sureties, concluding that he could find 
none. The poor man, being startled at the proposal, began to re- 
tire; but Alcibiades, standing at a distance, cried out to the magis- 
trates, "Set my name down, he is a friend of mine; I will be security 
for him." When the other bidders heard this, they perceived that 
all their contrivance was defeated; for their way was, with the 
profits of the second year to pay the rent for the year preceding; 
so that, not seeing any other way to extricate themselves out of the 
difficulty, they began to entreat the stranger, and offered him a sum 
of money. Alcibiades would not surfer him to accept of less than 
a talent; but when that was paid down, he commanded him to 
relinquish the bargain, having by this device relieved his necessity. 

Though Socrates had many and powerful rivals, yet the natural 
good qualities of Alcibiades gave his affection the mastery. His 
words overcame him so much, as to draw tears from his eyes, and 
to disturb his very soul. Yet sometimes he would abandon himself 
to flatterers, when they proposed to him varieties of pleasure, and 
would desert Socrates; who, then, would pursue him, as if he had 
been a fugitive slave. He despised every one else, and had no rev- 
erence or awe for any but him. Cleanthes, the philosopher, speak- 


ing of one to whom he was attached, says his only hold on him was 
by his ears, while his rivals had all the others offered them; and 
there is no question that Alcibiades was very easily caught by 
pleasures; and the expression used by Thucydides about the excesses 
of his habitual course of living gives occasion to believe so. But those 
who endeavored to corrupt Alcibiades, took advantage chiefly of his 
vanity and ambition, and thrust him on unseasonably to undertake 
great enterprises, persuading him, that as soon as he began to con- 
cern himself in public affairs, he would not only obscure the rest 
of the generals and statesmen, but outdo the authority and the repu- 
tation which Pericles himself had gained in Greece. But in the 
same manner as iron which is softened by the fire grows hard with 
the cold, and all its parts are closed again; so, as often as Socrates 
observed Alcibiades to be misled by luxury or pride, he reduced and 
corrected him by his addresses, and made him humble and modest, 
by showing him in how many things he was deficient, and how very 
far from perfection in virtue. 

When he was past his childhood, he went once to a grammar- 
school, and asked the master for one of Homer's books; and he 
making answer that he had nothing of Homer's, Alcibiades gave 
him a blow with his fist, and went away. Another schoolmaster 
telling him that he had Homer corrected by himself; "How?" said 
Alcibiades, "and do you employ your time in teaching children to 
read? You, who are able to amend Homer, may well undertake to 
instruct men." Being once desirous to speak with Pericles, he went 
to his house, and was told there that he was not at leisure, but 
busied in considering how to give up his accounts to the Athenians; 
Alcibiades, as he went away, said, "It were better for him to con- 
sider how he might avoid giving up his accounts at all." 

Whilst he was very young, he was a soldier in the expedition 
against Potida:a, where Socrates lodged in the same tent with him, 
and stood next him in battle. Once there happened a sharp skir- 
mish, in which they both behaved with signal bravery; but Alci- 
biades receiving a wound, Socrates threw himself before him to 
defend him, and beyond any question saved him and his arms 
from the enemy, and so in all justice might have challenged the 
prize of valor. But the generals appearing eager to adjudge the 

ii2 plutarch's lives 

honor to Alcibiades, because of his rank, Socrates, who desired to 
increase his thirst after glory of a noble kind, was the first to give 
evidence for him, and pressed them to crown him, and to decree 
to him the complete suit of armor. Afterwards, in the battle of 
Delium, when the Athenians were routed and Socrates with a few 
others was retreating on foot, Alcibiades, who was on horseback, 
observing it, would not pass on, but stayed to shelter him from the 
danger, and brought him safe off, though the enemy pressed hard 
upon them, and cut off many. But this happened some time after. 
He gave a box on the ear to Hipponicus, the father of Callias, 
whose birth and wealth made him a person of great influence and 
repute. And this he did unprovoked by any passion or quarrel be- 
tween them, but only because, in a frolic, he had agreed with his 
companions to do it. People were justly offended at this insolence, 
when it became known through the city; but early the next morn- 
ing, Alcibiades went to his house and knocked at the door, and, 
being admitted to him, took off his outer garment, and, presenting 
his naked body, desired him to scourge and chastise him as he 
pleased. Upon this Hipponicus forgot all his resentment, and not 
only pardoned him, but soon after gave him his daughter Hip- 
parete in marriage. Some say that it was not Hipponicus, but his 
son Callias, who gave Hipparete to Alcibiades, together with a por- 
tion of ten talents, and that after, when she had a child, Alcibiades 
forced him to give ten talents more, upon pretence that such was 
the agreement if she brought him any children. Afterwards, Callias, 
for fear of coming to his death by his means, declared, in a full 
assembly of the people, that if he should happen to die without 
children, the state should inherit his house and all his goods. Hip- 
parete was a virtuous and dutiful wife, but, at last, growing im- 
patient of the outrages done to her by her husband's continual enter- 
taining of courtesans, as well strangers as Athenians, she departed 
from him and retired to her brother's house. Alcibiades seemed 
not at all concerned at this, and lived on still in the same luxury; 
but the law requiring that she should deliver to the archon in per- 
son, and not by proxy, the instrument by which she claimed a di- 
vorce, when, in obedience to the law, she presented herself before 
him to perform this, Alcibiades came in, caught her up, and carried 


her home through the market-place, no one daring to oppose him, 
nor to take her from him. She continued with him till her death, 
which happened not long after, when Alcibiades had gone to Ephe- 
sus. Nor is this violence to be thought so very enormous or un- 
manly. For the law, in making her who desires to be divorced ap- 
pear in public, seems to design to give her husband an opportunity 
of treating with her, and of endeavoring to retain her. 

Alcibiades had a dog which cost him seventy minas, and was a 
very large one, and very handsome. His tail, which was his princi- 
pal ornament, he caused to be cut off, and his acquaintance ex- 
claiming at him for it, and telling him that all Athens was sorry 
for the dog, and cried out upon him for this action, he laughed, and 
said, "Just what I wanted has happened, then. I wished the Athe- 
nians to talk about this, that they might not say something worse 
of me." 

It is said that the first time he came into the assembly was upon 
occasion of a largess of money which he made to the people. This 
was not done by design, but as he passed along he heard a shout, 
and inquiring the cause, and having learned that there was a dona- 
tive making to the people, he went in amongst them and gave 
money also. The multitude thereupon applauding him, and shout- 
ing, he was so transported at it, that he forgot a quail which 
he had under his robe, and the bird, being frighted with the noise, 
flew off; upon which the people made louder acclamations than 
before, and many of them started up to pursue the bird; and one 
Antiochus, a pilot, caught it and restored it to him, for which he 
was ever after a favorite with Alcibiades. 

He had great advantages for entering public life; his noble birth, 
his riches, the personal courage he had shown in divers battles, and 
the multitude of his friends and dependents, threw open, so to say, 
folding doors for his admittance. But he did not consent to let his 
power with the people rest on any thing, rather than on his own 
gift of eloquence. That he was a master in the art of speaking, the 
comic poets bear him witness; and the most eloquent of public 
speakers, in his oration against Midias, allows that Alcibiades, 
among other perfections, was a most accomplished orator. If, how- 
ever, we give credit to Theophrastus, who of all philosophers was 


the most curious inquirer, and the greatest lover of history, we are 
to understand that Alcibiades had the highest capacity for invent- 
ing, for discerning what was the right thing to be said for any 
purpose, and on any occasion; but, aiming not only at saying what 
was required, but also at saying it well, in respect, that is, of words 
and phrases, when these did not readily occur, he would often pause 
in the middle of his discourse for want of the apt word, and would 
be silent and stop till he could recollect himself, and had considered 
what to say. 

His expenses in horses kept for the public games, and in the num- 
ber of his chariots, were matter of great observation; never did any 
one but he, either private person or king, send seven chariots to 
the Olympic games. And to have carried away at once the first, the 
second, and the fourth prizes, as Thucydides says, or the third, as 
Euripides relates it, outdoes far away every distinction that ever 
was known or thought of in that kind. Euripides celebrates his 
success in this manner: 

" — But my song to you, 
Son of Clinias, is due. 
Victory is noble; how much more 
To do as never Greek before; 
To obtain in the great chariot race 
The first, the second, and third place; 
With easy step advanced to fame, 
To bid the herald three times claim 
The olive for one victor's name." 

The emulation displayed by the deputations of various states, in the 
presents which they made to him, rendered this success yet more 
illustrious. The Ephesians erected a tent for him, adorned magnifi- 
cently; the city of Chios furnished him with provender for his 
horses and with great numbers of beasts for sacrifice; and the Les- 
bians sent him wine and other provisions for the many great enter- 
tainments which he made. Yet in the midst of all this he escaped 
not without censure, occasioned either by the ill-nature of his ene- 
mies or by his own misconduct. For it is said, that one Diomedes, 
an Athenian, a worthy man and a friend to Alcibiades, passionately 
desiring to obtain the victory at the Olympic games, and having 


heard much of a chariot which belonged to the state at Argos, where 
he knew that Alcibiades had great power and many friends, pre- 
vailed with him to undertake to buy the chariot. Alcibiades did 
indeed buy it, but then claimed it for his own, leaving Diomedes 
to rage at him, and to call upon the gods and men to bear witness 
to the injustice. It would seem there was a suit at law commenced 
upon this occasion, and there is yet extant an oration concerning 
the chariot, written by Isocrates in defence of the son of Alcibiades. 
But the plaintiff in this action is named Tisias, and not Diomedes. 
As soon as he began to intermeddle in the government, which 
was when he was very young, he quickly lessened the credit of all 
who aspired to the confidence of the people, except Phiax, the son 
of Erasistratus, and Nicias, the son of Niceratus, who alone could 
contest it with him. Nicias was arrived at a mature age, and was 
esteemed their first general. Phacax was but a rising statesman like 
Alcibiades; he was descended from noble ancestors, but was his 
inferior, as in many other things, so, principally in eloquence. He 
possessed rather the art of persuading in private conversation than 
of debate before the people, and was, as Eupolis said of him, 

"The best of talkers, and of speakers worst." 

There is extant an oration written by Phseax against Alcibiades, in 
which, amongst other things, it is said that Alcibiades made daily 
use at his table of many gold and silver vessels, which belonged to 
the commonwealth, as if they had been his own. 

There was a certain Hyperbolus, of the township of Perithcedac, 
whom Thucydides also speaks of as a man of bad character, a gen- 
eral butt for the mockery of all the comic writers of the time, but 
quite unconcerned at the worst things they could say, and, being 
careless of glory, also insensible of shame; a temper which some 
people call boldness and courage, whereas it is indeed impudence 
and recklessness. He was liked by nobody, yet the people made 
frequent use of him, when they had a mind to disgrace or calumni- 
ate any persons in authority. At this time, the people, by his per- 
suasions, were ready to proceed to pronounce the sentence of ten 
years' banishment, called ostracism. This they made use of to hu- 
miliate and drive out of the city such citizens as outdid the rest in 

n6 plutarch's lives 

credit and power, indulging not so much perhaps their apprehen- 
sions as their jealousies in this way. And when, at this time, there 
was no doubt but that the ostracism would fall upon one of those 
three, Alcibiades contrived to form a coalition of parties, and, com- 
municating his project to Nicias, turned the sentence upon Hyper- 
bolus himself. Others say, that it was not with Nicias, but Phxax, 
that he consulted, and, by help of his party, procured the banishment 
of Hyperbolus, when he suspected nothing less. For, before that 
time, no mean or obscure person had ever fallen under that pun- 
ishment, so that Plato, the comic poet, speaking of Hyperbolus, 
might well say, 

"The man deserved the fate; deny 't who can? 
Yes, but the fate did not deserve the man; 
Not for the like of him and his slave-brands 
Did Athens put the sherd into our hands." 

But we have given elsewhere a fuller statement of what is known 
to us of the matter. 

Alcibiades was not less disturbed at the distinctions which Nicias 
gained amongst the enemies of Athens, than at the honors which 
the Athenians themselves paid to him. For though Alcibiades was 
the proper appointed person* to receive all Lacedaemonians when 
they came to Athens, and had taken particular care of those that 
were made prisoners at Pylos, yet, after they had obtained the peace 
and restitution of the captives, by the procurement chiefly of Nicias, 
they paid him very special attentions. And it was commonly said 
in Greece, that the war was begun by Pericles, and that Nicias 
made an end of it, and the peace was generally called the peace of 
Nicias. Alcibiades was extremely annoyed at this, and, being full 
of envy, set himself to break the league. First, therefore, observing 
that the Argives, as well out of fear as hatred to the Lacedaemo- 
nians, sought for protection against them, he gave them a secret 
assurance of alliance with Athens. And communicating, as well in 
person as by letters, with the chief advisers of the people there, he 

* The Proxcnus, that is, who in the ancient cities exercised, in a private station, 
and as a matter of private magnificence and splendid hospitality (he being always a 
citizen of the state in which he resided) many of the duties of protection now officially 
committed to consuls and resident ministers. 


encouraged them not to fear the Lacedaemonians, nor make con- 
cessions to them, but to wait a little, and keep their eyes on the 
Athenians, who, already, were all but sorry they had made peace, 
and would soon give it up. And, afterwards, when the Lacedaemo- 
nians had made a league with the Boeotians, and had not delivered 
up Panactum entire, as they ought to have done by the treaty, but 
only after first destroying it, which gave great offence to the people 
of Athens, Alcibiades laid hold of that opportunity to exasperate 
them more highly. He exclaimed fiercely against Nicias, and ac- 
cused him of many things, which seemed probable enough: as that, 
when he was general, he made no attempt himself to capture their 
enemies that were shut up in the isle of Sphacteria, but, when they 
were afterwards made prisoners by others, he procured their release 
and sent them back to the Lacedaemonians, only to get favor with 
them; that he would not make use of his credit with them, to pre- 
vent their entering into this confederacy with the Boeotians and 
Corinthians, and yet, on the other side, that he sought to stand in 
the way of those Greeks who were inclined to make an alliance and 
friendship with Athens, if the Lacedaemonians did not like it. 

It happened, at the very time when Nicias was by these arts 
brought into disgrace with the people, that ambassadors arrived 
from Lacedaemon, who, at their first coming, said what seemed 
very satisfactory, declaring that they had full powers to arrange all 
matters in dispute upon fair and equal terms. The council received 
their propositions, and the people was to assemble on the morrow 
to give them audience. Alcibiades grew very apprehensive of this, 
and contrived to gain a secret conference with the ambassadors. 
When they were met, he said: "What is it you intend, you men of 
Sparta? Can you be ignorant that the council always act with 
moderation and respect towards ambassadors, but that the people 
are full of ambition and great designs? So that, if you let them 
know what full powers your commission gives you, they will urge 
and press you to unreasonable conditions. Quit, therefore, this indis- 
creet simplicity, if you expect to obtain equal terms from the Athe- 
nians, and would not have things extorted from you contrary to 
your inclinations, and begin to treat with the people upon some rea- 
sonable articles, not avowing yourselves plenipotentiaries; and I will 

n8 Plutarch's lives 

be ready to assist you, out of good-will to the Lacedaemonians." 
When he had said thus, he gave them his oath for the performance 
of what he promised, and by this way drew them from Nicias to 
rely entirely upon himself, and left them full of admiration of the 
discernment and sagacity they had seen in him. The next day, when 
the people were assembled and the ambassadors introduced, Alci- 
biades, with great apparent courtesy, demanded of them, With what 
powers they were come? They made answer that they were not 
come as plenipotentiaries. 

Instantly upon that, Alcibiades, with a loud voice, as though he 
had received and not done the wrong, began to call them dishonest 
prevaricators, and to urge that such men could not possibly come with 
a purpose to say or do any thing that was sincere. The council was 
incensed, the people were in a rage, and Nicias, who knew nothing 
of the deceit and the imposture, was in the greatest confusion, 
equally surprised and ashamed at such a change in the men. So 
thus the Lacedaemonian ambassadors were utterly rejected, and Alci- 
biades was declared general, who presently united the Argives, the 
Eleans, and the people of Mantinea, into a confederacy with the 

No man commended the method by which Alcibiades effected 
all this, yet it was a great political feat thus to divide and shake 
almost all Peloponnesus, and to combine so many men in arms 
against the Lacedaemonians in one day before Mantinea; and, more- 
over, to remove the war and the danger so far from the frontier of 
the Athenians, that even success would profit the enemy but little, 
should they be conquerors, whereas, if they were defeated, Sparta 
itself was hardly safe. 

After this battle at Mantinea, the select thousand of the army of 
the Argives attempted to overthrow the government of the people 
in Argos, and make themselves masters of the city; and the Lace- 
daemonians came to their aid and abolished the democracy. But 
the people took arms again, and gained the advantage, and Alcibi- 
ades came in to their aid and completed the victory, and persuaded 
them to build long walls, and by that means to join their city to the 
sea, and so to bring it wholly within the reach of the Athenian 
power. To this purpose, he procured them builders and masons 


from Athens, and displayed the greatest zeal for their service, and 
gained no less honor and power to himself than to the common- 
wealth of Athens. He also persuaded the people of Patrae to join 
their city to the sea, by building long walls; and when some one told 
them, by way of warning, that the Athenians would swallow them 
up at last, Alcibiades made answer, "Possibly it may be so, but it 
will be by little and little, and beginning at the feet, whereas the 
Lacedaemonians will begin at the head and devour you all at once." 
Nor did he neglect either to advise the Athenians to look to their 
interests by land, and often put the young men in mind of the oath 
which they had made at Agraulos to the effect that they would ac- 
count wheat and barley, and vines and olives, to be the limits of 
Attica by which they were taught to claim a tide to all land that 
was cultivated and productive. 

But with all these words and deeds, and with all this sagacity 
and eloquence, he intermingled exorbitant luxury and wantonness 
in his eating and drinking and dissolute living; wore long purple 
robes like a woman, which dragged after him as he went through 
the market-place; caused the planks of his galley to be cut away, 
that so he might lie the softer, his bed not being placed on the 
boards, but hanging upon girths. His shield, again, which was 
richly gilded, had not the usual ensigns of the Athenians, but a 
Cupid, holding a thunderbolt in his hand, was painted upon it. The 
sight of all this made the people of good repute in the city feel dis- 
gust and abhorrence, and apprehension also, at his free-living, and 
his contempt of law, as things monstrous in themselves, and indicat- 
ing designs of usurpation. Aristophanes has well expressed the peo- 
ple's feeling towards him: — 

"They love, and hate, and cannot do without him. 
And still more strongly, under a figurative expression, 

"Best rear no lion in your state, 't is true; 
But treat him like a lion if you do." 

The truth is, his liberalities, his public shows, and other munificence 
to the people, which were such as nothing could exceed, the glory of 
his ancestors, the force of his eloquence, the grace of his person, his 


strength of body, joined with his great courage and knowledge in 
military affairs, prevailed upon the Athenians to endure patiently 
his excesses, to indulge many things to him, and, according to their 
habit, to give the softest names to his faults, attributing them to 
youth and good nature. As, for example, he kept Agatharcus, the 
painter, a prisoner till he had painted his whole house, but then 
dismissed him with a reward. He publicly struck Taureas, who 
exhibited certain shows in opposition to him and contended with 
him for the prize. He selected for himself one of the captive Melian 
women, and had a son by her, whom he took care to educate. 
This the Athenians styled great humanity; and yet he was the prin- 
cipal cause of the slaughter of all the inhabitants of the isle of 
Melos who were of age to bear arms, having spoken in favor of 
that decree. When Aristophon, the painter, had drawn Nemea sit- 
ting and holding Alcibiades in her arms, the multitude seemed 
pleased with the piece, and thronged to see it, but older people dis- 
liked and disrelished it, and looked on these things as enormities, 
and movements towards tyranny. So that it was not said amiss by 
Archestratus, that Greece could not support a second Alcibiades. 
Once, when Alcibiades succeeded well in an oration which he 
made, and the whole assembly attended upon him to do him honor, 
Timon the misanthrope did not pass slightly by him, nor avoid him, 
as he did others, but purposely met him, and, taking him by the 
hand, said, "Go on boldly, my son, and increase in credit with the 
people, for thou wilt one day bring them calamities enough." Some 
that were present laughed at the saying, and some reviled Timon; 
but there were others upon whom it made a deep impression; so 
various was the judgment which was made of him, and so irregular 
his own character. 

The Athenians, even in the lifetime of Pericles, had already cast 
a longing eye upon Sicily; but did not attempt any thing till after 
his death. Then, under pretence of aiding their confederates, they 
sent succors upon all occasions to those who were oppressed by the 
Syracusans, preparing the way for sending over a greater force. But 
Alcibiades was the person who inflamed this desire of theirs to the 
height, and prevailed with them no longer to proceed secretly, and 
by litde and little, in their design, but to sail out with a great 


fleet, and undertake at once to make themselves masters of the 
island. He possessed the people with great hopes, and he himself 
entertained yet greater; and the conquest of Sicily, which was the 
utmost bound of their ambition, was but the mere outset of his ex- 
pectation. Nicias endeavored to divert the people from the expedi- 
tion, by representing to them that the taking of Syracuse would be 
a work of great difficulty; but Alcibiades dreamed of nothing less 
than the conquest of Carthage and Libya, and by the accession of 
these conceiving himself at once made master of Italy and of Pelo- 
ponnesus, seemed to look upon Sicily as little more than a magazine 
for the war. The young men were soon elevated with these hopes, 
and listened gladly to those of riper years, who talked wonders of 
the countries they were going to; so that you might see great num- 
bers sitting in the wrestling grounds and public places, drawing on 
the ground the figure of the island and the situation of Libya and 
Carthage. Socrates the philosopher and Meton the astrologer are 
said, however, never to have hoped for any good to the common- 
wealth from this war; the one, it is to be supposed, presaging what 
would ensue, by the intervention of his attendant Genius; and the 
other, either upon rational consideration of the project, or by 
use of the art of divination, conceived fears for its issue, and, feign- 
ing madness, caught up a burning torch, and seemed as if he would 
have set his own house on fire. Others report, that he did not take 
upon him to act the madman, but secretly in the night set his 
house on fire, and the next morning besought the people, that for 
his comfort, after such a calamity, they would spare his son from 
the expedition. By which artifice, he deceived his fellow-citizens, 
and obtained of them what he desired. 

Together with Alcibiades, Nicias, much against his will, was 
appointed general: and he endeavored to avoid the command, not 
the less on account of his colleague. But the Athenians thought the 
war would proceed more prosperously, if they did not send Alci- 
biades free from all restraint, but tempered his heat with the caution 
of Nicias. This they chose the rather to do, because Lamachus, the 
third general, though he was of mature years, yet in several batdes 
had appeared no less hot and rash than Alcibiades himself. When 
they began to deliberate of the number of forces, and of the manner 


of making the necessary provisions, Nicias made another attempt 
to oppose the design, and to prevent the war; but Alcibiades con- 
tradicted him, and carried his point with the people. And one 
Demostratus, an orator, proposing to give the generals absolute 
power over the preparations and the whole management of the 
war, it was presently decreed so. When all things were fitted for 
the voyage, many unlucky omens appeared. At that very time the 
feast of Adonis happened, in which the women were used to expose, 
in all parts of the city, images resembling dead men carried out to 
their burial, and to represent funeral solemnities by lamentations 
and mournful songs. The mutilation, however, of the images of 
Mercury, most of which, in one night, had their faces all disfigured, 
terrified many persons who were wont to despise most things of 
that nature. It was given out that it was done by the Corinthians, 
for the sake of the Syracusans, who were their colony, in hopes that 
the Athenians, by such prodigies, might be induced to delay or 
abandon the war. But the report gained no credit with the people, 
nor yet the opinion of those who would not believe that there was 
any thing ominous in the matter, but that it was only an extrava- 
gant action, committed, in that sort of sport which runs into license, 
by wild young men coming from a debauch. Alike enraged and 
terrified at the thing, looking upon it to proceed from a conspiracy 
of persons who designed some commotions in the state, the coun- 
cil, as well as the assembly of the people, which was held frequently 
in a few days' space, examined diligently every thing that might 
administer ground for suspicion. During this examination, An- 
drocles, one of the demagogues, produced certain slaves and stran- 
gers before them, who accused Alcibiades and some of his friends 
of defacing other images in the same manner, and of having pro- 
fanely acted the sacred mysteries at a drunken meeting, where one 
Theodorus represented the herald, Polytion the torch-bearer, and 
Alcibiades the chief priest, while the rest of the party appeared as 
candidates for initiation, and received the tide of Initiates. These 
were the matters contained in the articles of information, 5 which 
Thessalus, the son of Cimon, exhibited against Alcibiades, for his 

s Eisangclia, the technical term for an indictment before the legislature for misde- 
meanors not coming strictly under the letter of any written law. 


impious mockery of the goddesses, Ceres and Proserpine. The peo- 
ple were highly exasperated and incensed against Alcibiades upon 
this accusation, which, being aggravated by Androcles, the most 
malicious of all his enemies, at first disturbed his friends exceed- 
ingly. But when they perceived that all the seamen designed for 
Sicily were for him, and the soldiers also, and when the Argive 
and Mantinean auxiliaries, a thousand men at arms, openly declared 
that they had undertaken this distant maritime expedition for the 
sake of Alcibiades, and that, if he was ill-used, they would all go 
home, they recovered their courage, and became eager to make use 
of the present opportunity for justifying him. At this his enemies 
were again discouraged, fearing lest the people should be more 
gentle to him in their sentence, because of the occasion they had 
for his service. Therefore, to obviate this, they contrived that some 
other orators, who did not appear to be enemies to Alcibiades, but 
really hated him no less than those who avowed it, should stand up 
in the assembly and say, that it was a very absurd thing that one 
who was created general of such an army with absolute power, 
after his troops were assembled, and the confederates were come, 
should lose the opportunity, whilst the people were choosing his 
judges by lot, and appointing times for the hearing of the cause. 
And, therefore, let him set sail at once; good fortune attend him; and 
when the war should be at an end, he might then in person make 
his defence according to the laws. 

Alcibiades perceived the malice of this postponement, and, ap- 
pearing in the assembly, represented that it was monstrous for him 
to be sent with the command of so large an army, when he lay under 
such accusations and calumnies; that he deserved to die, if he could 
not clear himself of the crimes objected to him; but when he had 
so done, and had proved his innocence, he should then cheerfully 
apply himself to the war, as standing no longer in fear of false 
accusers. But he could not prevail with the people who commanded 
him to sail immediately. So he departed, together with the other 
generals, having with them near 140 galleys, 5,100 men at arms, and 
about 1,300 archers, slingers, and light-armed men, and all the other 
provisions corresponding. 

Arriving on the coast of Italy, he landed at Rhegium, and there 


stated his views of the manner in which they ought to conduct the 
war. He was opposed by Nicias; but Lamachus being of his opin- 
ion, they sailed for Sicily forthwith, and took Catana. This was 
all that was done while he was there, for he was soon after recalled 
by the Athenians to abide his trial. At first, as we before said, there 
were only some slight suspicions advanced against Alcibiades, and 
accusations by certain slaves and strangers. But afterwards, in his 
absence, his enemies attacked him more violently, and confounded 
together the breaking the images with the profanation of the mys- 
teries, as though both had been committed in pursuance of the same 
conspiracy for changing the government. The people proceeded 
to imprison all that were accused, without distinction, and without 
hearing them, and repented now, considering the importance of the 
charge, that they had not immediately brought Alcibiades to his 
trial, and given judgment against him. Any of his friends or ac- 
quaintances who fell into the people's hands, whilst they were in 
this fury, did not fail to meet with very severe usage. Thucydides 
has omitted to name the informers, but others mention Dioclides 
and Teucer. Amongst whom is Phrynichus, the comic poet, in 
whom we find the following: — 

"O dearest Hermes! only do take care, 
And mind you do not miss your footing there; 
Should you get hurt, occasion may arise 
For a new Dioclides to tell lies." 

To which he makes Mercury return this answer: — 

"I will so, for I feel no inclination 
To reward Teucer for more information.'' 

The truth is, his accusers alleged nothing that was certain or solid 
against him. One of them, being asked how he knew the men who 
defaced the images, replying, that he saw them by the light of the 
moon, made a palpable misstatement, for it was just new moon 
when the fact was committed. This made all men of understand- 
ing cry out upon the thing; but the people were as eager as ever to 
receive further accusations, nor was their first heat at all abated, 
but they instantly seized and imprisoned every one that was ac- 


cused. Amongst those who were detained in prison for their trials 
was Andocides the orator, whose descent the historian Hellanicus 
deduces from Ulysses. He was always supposed to hate popular 
government, and to support oligarchy. The chief ground of his 
being suspected of defacing the images was because the great Mer- 
cury, which stood near his house, and was an ancient monument 
of the tribe jEge'is, was almost the only statue of all the remarkable 
ones, which remained entire. For this cause, it is now called the 
Mercury of Andocides, all men giving it that name, though the 
inscription is evidence to the contrary. It happened that Andocides, 
amongst the rest who were prisoners upon the same account, con- 
tracted particular acquaintance and intimacy with one Timseus, a 
person inferior to him in repute, but of remarkable dexterity and 
boldness. He persuaded Andocides to accuse himself and some 
few others of this crime, urging to him that, upon his confession, 
he would be, by the decree of the people, secure of his pardon, 
whereas the event of judgment is uncertain to all men, but to great 
persons, such as he was, most formidable. So that it was better for 
him, if he regarded himself, to save his life by a falsity, than to 
suffer an infamous death, as really guilty of the crime. And if he 
had regard to the public good, it was commendable to sacrifice a 
few suspected men, by that means to rescue many excellent persons 
from the fury of the people. Andocides was prevailed upon, and 
accused himself and some others, and, by the terms of the decree, 
obtained his pardon, while all the persons named by him, except 
some few who had saved themselves by flight, suffered death. To 
gain the greater credit to his information, he accused his own serv- 
ants amongst others. But notwithstanding this, the people's anger 
was not wholly appeased; and being now no longer diverted by the 
mutilators, they were at leisure to pour out their whole rage upon 
Alcibiades. And, in conclusion, they sent the galley named the 
Salaminian, to recall him. But they expressly commanded those 
that were sent, to use no violence, nor seize upon his person, but 
address themselves to him in the mildest terms, requiring him to 
follow them to Athens in order to abide his trial, and clear himself 
before the people. For they feared mutiny and sedition in the army 
in an enemy's country, which indeed it would have been easy for 

126 plutarch's lives 

Alcibiades to effect, if he had wished it. For the soldiers were dis- 
pirited upon his departure, expecting for the future tedious delays, 
and that the war would be drawn out into a lazy length by Nicias, 
when Alcibiades, who was the spur to action, was taken away. For 
though Lamachus was a soldier, and a man of courage, poverty de- 
prived him of authority and respect in the army. Alcibiades, just 
upon his departure, prevented Messena from falling into the hands 
of the Athenians. There were some in that city who were upon the 
point of delivering it up, but he, knowing the persons, gave informa- 
tion to some friends of the Syracusans, and so defeated the whole 
contrivance. When he arrived at Thurii, he went on shore, and, 
concealing himself there, escaped those who searched after him. 
But to one who knew him, and asked him if he durst not trust his 
own native country, he made answer, "In every thing else, yes; but 
in a matter that touches my life, I would not even my own mother, 
lest she might by mistake throw in the black ball instead of the 
white." When, afterwards, he was told that the assembly had pro- 
nounced judgment of death against him, all he said was "I will 
make them feel that I am alive." 
The information against him was conceived in this form: — 
"Thessalus, the son of Cimon, of the township of Lacia, lays in- 
formation that Alcibiades, the son of Clinias, of the township of the 
Scambonidx, has committed a crime against the goddesses Ceres 
and Proserpine, by representing in derision the holy mysteries, and 
showing them to his companions in his own house. Where, being 
habited in such robes as are used by the chief priest when he shows 
the holy things, he named himself the chief priest, Polytion the 
torch-bearer, and Theodorus, of the township of Phegara, the her- 
ald; and saluted the rest of his company as Initiates and Novices. 
All which was done contrary to the laws and institutions of the 
Eumolpidar, and the heralds and priests of the temple at Eleusis." 

He was condemned as contumacious upon his not appearing, 
his property confiscated, and it was decreed that all the priests and 
priestesses should solemnly curse him. But one of them, Theano, 
the daughter of Menon, of the township of Agraule, is said to have 
opposed that part of the decree, saying that her holy office obliged 
her to make prayers, but not execrations. 


Alcibiades, lying under these heavy decrees and sentences, when 
first he fled from Thurii, passed over into Peloponnesus, and re- 
mained some time at Argos. But being there in fear of his ene- 
mies, and seeing himself utterly hopeless of return to his native 
country, he sent to Sparta, desiring safe conduct, and assuring them 
that he would make them amends by his future services for all the 
mischief he had done them while he was their enemy. The Spartans 
giving him the security he desired, he went eagerly, was well re- 
ceived, and, at his very first coming, succeeded in inducing them, 
without any further caution or delay, to send aid to the Syracusans; 
and so roused and excited them, that they forthwith despatched 
Gylippus into Sicily, to crush the forces which the Athenians had 
in Sicily. A second point was to renew the war upon the Athenians 
at home. But the third thing, and the most important of all, was 
to make them fortify Decelea, which above every thing reduced 
and wasted the resources of the Athenians. 

The renown which he earned by these public services was 
equalled by the admiration he attracted to his private life; he capti- 
vated and won over everybody by his conformity to Spartan habits. 
People who saw him wearing his hair close cut, bathing in cold 
water, eating coarse meal, and dining on black broth, doubted, or 
rather could not believe, that he ever had a cook in his house, or 
had ever seen a perfumer, or had worn a mande of Milesian pur- 
ple. For he had, as it was observed, this peculiar talent and artifice 
for gaining men's affections, that he could at once comply with and 
really embrace and enter into their habits and ways of life, and 
change faster than the chameleon. One color, indeed, they say the 
chameleon cannot assume; it cannot make itself appear white; but 
Alcibiades, whether with good men or with bad, could adapt him- 
self to his company, and equally wear the appearance of virtue or 
vice. At Sparta, he was devoted to athletic exercises, was frugal 
and reserved; in Ionia, luxurious, gay, and indolent; in Thrace, al- 
ways drinking; in Thessaly, ever on horseback; and when he lived 
with Tisaphernes, the Persian satrap, he exceeded the Persians them- 
selves in magnificence and pomp. Not that his natural disposition 
changed so easily, nor that his real character was so very variable, 
but, whenever he was sensible that by pursuing his own inclina- 

128 plutarch's lives 

tions he might give offence to those with whom he had occasion 
to converse, he transformed himself into any shape, and adopted 
any fashion, that he observed to be the most agreeable to them. 
So that to have seen him at Lacedarmon, a man, judging by the 
outward appearance, would have said, " Tis not Achilles's son, 
but he himself, the very man" that Lycurgus designed to form; 
while his real feelings and acts would have rather provoked the 
exclamation, " 'Tis the same woman still." For while king Agis 
was absent, and abroad with the army, he corrupted his wife Ti- 
ma?a, and had a child born by her. Nor did she even deny it, but 
when she was brought to bed of a son, called him in public Leoty- 
chides, but, amongst her confidants and attendants, would whisper 
that his name was Alcibiades. To such a degree was she trans- 
ported by her passion for him. He, on the other side, would say, in 
his vain way, he had not done this thing out of mere wantonness 
of insult, nor to gratify a passion, but that his race might one day be 
kings over the Lacedaemonians. 

There were many who told Agis that this was so, but time itself 
gave the greatest confirmation to the story. For Agis, alarmed by 
an earthquake, had quitted his wife, and, for ten months after, was 
never with her; Leotychides, therefore, being born after those ten 
months, he would not acknowledge him for his son; which was 
the reason that afterwards he was not admitted to the succession. 

After the defeat which the Athenians received in Sicily, ambassa- 
dors were despatched to Sparta at once from Chios and Lesbos and 
Cyzicus, to signify their purpose of revolting from the Athenians. 
The Boeotians interposed in favor of the Lesbians, and Pharnabazus 
of the Cyzicenes, but the Lacedarmonians, at the persuasion of Alci- 
biades, chose to assist Chios before all others. He himself, also, 
went instantly to sea, procured the immediate revolt of almost all 
Ionia, and, cooperating with the Lacedaemonian generals, did great 
mischief to the Athenians. But Agis was his enemy, hating him for 
having dishonored his wife, and also impatient of his glory, as 
almost every enterprise and every success was ascribed to Alcibi- 
ades. Others, also, of the most powerful and ambitious amongst the 
Spartans, were possessed with jealousy of him, and, at last, prevailed 
with the magistrates in the city to send orders into Ionia that he 


should be killed. Alcibiades, however, had secret intelligence of 
this, and, in apprehension of the result, while he communicated all 
affairs to the Lacedaemonians, yet took care not to put himself into 
their power. At last he retired to Tisaphernes, the king of Persia's 
satrap, for his security, and immediately became the first and most 
influential person about him. For this barbarian, not being himself 
sincere, but a lover of guile and wickedness, admired his address 
and wonderful subtlety. And, indeed, the charm of daily inter- 
course with him was more than any character could resist or any 
disposition escape. Even those who feared and envied him could 
not but take delight, and have a sort of kindness for him, when 
they saw him and were in his company. So that Tisaphernes, 
otherwise a cruel character, and, above all other Persians, a hater of 
the Greeks, was yet so won by the flatteries of Alcibiades, that he 
set himself even to exceed him in responding to them. The most 
beautiful of his parks, containing salubrious streams and meadows, 
where he had built pavilions, and places of retirement royally and 
exquisitely adorned, received by his direction the name of Alci- 
biades, and was always so called and so spoken of. 

Thus Alcibiades, quitting the interests of the Spartans, whom he 
could no longer trust, because he stood in fear of Agis, endeavored 
to do them ill offices, and render them odious to Tisaphernes, who, 
by his means, was hindered from assisting them vigorously, and 
from finally ruining the Athenians. For his advice was to furnish 
them but sparingly with money, and so wear them out, and con- 
sume them insensibly; when they had wasted their strength upon 
one another, they would both become ready to submit to the king. 
Tisaphernes readily pursued his counsel, and so openly expressed 
the liking and admiration which he had for him, that Alcibiades 
was looked up to by the Greeks of both parties, and the Athenians, 
now in their misfortunes, repented them of their severe sentence 
against him. And he, on the other side, began to be troubled for 
them, and to fear lest, if that commonwealth were utterly destroyed, 
he should fall into the hands of the Lacedaemonians, his enemies. 

At that time the whole strength of the Athenians was in Samos. 
Their fleet maintained itself here, and issued from these head- 
quarters to reduce such as had revolted, and protect the rest of their 


territories; in one way or other still contriving to be a match for 
their enemies at sea. What they stood in fear of, was Tisaphernes 
and the Phoenician fleet of one hundred and fifty galleys, which 
was said to be already under sail; if those came, there remained 
then no hopes for the commonwealth of Athens. Understanding 
this, Alcibiades sent secretly to the chief men of the Athenians, who 
were then at Samos, giving them hopes that he would make Tisa- 
phernes their friend; he was willing, he implied, to do some favor, 
not to the people, nor in reliance upon them, but to the better citi- 
zens, if only, like brave men, they would make the attempt to put 
down the insolence of the people, and, by taking upon them the 
government, would endeavor to save the city from ruin. All of 
them gave a ready ear to the proposal made by Alcibiades, except 
only Phrynichus, of the township of Dirades, one of the generals, 
who suspected, as the truth was, that Alcibiades concerned not him- 
self whether the government were in the people or the better citi- 
zens, but only sought by any means to make way for his return 
into his native country, and to that end inveighed against the peo- 
ple, thereby to gain the others, and to insinuate himself into their 
good opinion. But when Phrynichus found his counsel to be re- 
jected, and that he was himself become a declared enemy of Alci- 
biades, he gave secret intelligence to Astyochus, the enemy's ad- 
miral, cautioning him to beware of Alcibiades, and to seize him as 
a double dealer, unaware that one traitor was making discoveries 
to another. For Astyochus, who was eager to gain the favor of 
Tisaphernes, observing the credit Alcibiades had with him, revealed 
to Alcibiades all that Phrynichus had said against him. Alcibiades 
at once despatched messengers to Samos, to accuse Phrynichus of 
the treachery. Upon this, all the commanders were enraged with 
Phrynichus, and set themselves against him, and he, seeing no other 
way to extricate himself from the present danger, attempted to 
remedy one evil by a greater. He sent to Astyochus to reproach 
him for betraying him, and to make an offer to him at the same 
time, to deliver into his hands both the army and the navy of the 
Athenians. This occasioned no damage to the Athenians, because 
Astyochus repeated his treachery, and revealed also this proposal to 
Alcibiades. But this again was foreseen by Phrynichus, who, expect- 


ing a second accusation from Alcibiades, to anticipate him, adver- 
tised the Athenians beforehand that the enemy was ready to sail in 
order to surprise them, and therefore advised them to fortify their 
camp, and to be in a readiness to go aboard their ships. While the 
Athenians were intent upon doing these things, they received other 
letters from Alcibiades, admonishing them to beware of Phrynichus, 
as one who designed to betray their fleet to the enemy, to which 
they then gave no credit at all, conceiving that Alcibiades, who 
knew perfectly the counsels and preparations of the enemy, was 
merely making use of that knowledge, in order to impose upon 
them in this false accusation of Phrynichus. Yet, afterwards, when 
Phrynichus was stabbed with a dagger in the market-place by 
Hermon, one of the guard, the Athenians, entering into an exami- 
nation of the cause, solemnly condemned Phrynichus of treason, and 
decreed crowns to Hermon and his associates. And now the friends 
of Alcibiades, carrying all before them at Samos, despatched Pisan- 
der to Athens, to attempt a change of government, and to encour- 
age the aristocratical citizens to take upon themselves the govern- 
ment, and overthrow the democracy, representing to them, that, 
upon these terms, Alcibiades would procure them the friendship 
and alliance of Tisaphernes. 

This was the color and pretence made use of by those who de- 
sired to change the government of Athens to an oligarchy. But as 
soon as they prevailed, and had got the administration of affairs 
into their hands, under the name of the Five Thousand (whereas, 
indeed, they were but four hundred), they slighted Alcibiades al- 
together, and prosecuted the war with less vigor; partly because they 
durst not yet trust the citizens, who secretly detested this change, 
and partly because they thought the Lacedaemonians, who always 
befriended the government of the few, would be inclined to give 
them favorable terms. 

The people in the city were terrified into submission, many of 
those who had dared openly to oppose the four hundred having 
been put to death. But those who were at Samos, indignant when 
they heard this news, were eager to set sail instantly for the Piraeus; 
and, sending for Alcibiades, they declared him general, requiring 
him to lead them on to put down the tyrants. He, however, in that 

132 plutarch's lives 

juncture, did not, as it might have been thought a man would, on 
being suddenly exalted by the favor of a multitude, think himself 
under an obligation to gratify and submit to all the wishes of those 
who, from a fugitive and an exile, had created him general of so 
great an army, and given him the command of such a fleet. But, 
as became a great captain, he opposed himself to the precipitate 
resolutions which their rage led them to, and, by restraining them 
from the great error they were about to commit, unequivocally 
saved the commonwealth. For if they then had sailed to Athens, all 
Ionia and the islands and the Hellespont would have fallen into 
the enemies' hands without opposition, while the Athenians, in- 
volved in civil war, would have been fighting with one another 
within the circuit of their own walls. It was Alcibiades alone, or, 
at least, principally, who prevented all this mischief; for he not only 
used persuasion to the whole army, and showed them the danger, 
but applied himself to them, one by one, entreating some, and con- 
straining others. He was much assisted, however, by Thrasybulus 
of Stiria, who, having the loudest voice, as we are told, of all the 
Athenians, went along with him, and cried out to those who were 
ready to be gone. A second great service which Alcibiades did for 
them was, his undertaking that the Phoenician fleet, which the Lace- 
daemonians expected to be sent to them by the king of Persia, should 
either come in aid of the Athenians, or otherwise should not come 
at all. He sailed off with all expedition in order to perform this, 
and the ships, which had already been seen as near as Aspendus, 
were not brought any further by Tisaphernes, who thus deceived 
the Lacedaemonians; and it was by both sides believed that they 
had been diverted by the procurement of Alcibiades. The Laceda:- 
monians, in particular, accused him, that he had advised the Bar- 
barian to stand still, and suffer the Greeks to waste and destroy 
one another, as it was evident that the accession of so great a force 
to either party would enable them to take away the entire dominion 
of the sea from the other side. 

Soon after this, the four hundred usurpers were driven out, the 
friends of Alcibiades vigorously assisting those who were for the 
popular government. And now the people in the city not only de- 
sired, but commanded Alcibiades to return home from his exile. 


He, however, desired not to owe his return to the mere grace and 
commiseration of the people, and resolved to come back, not with 
empty hands, but with glory, and after some service done. To this 
end, he sailed from Samos with a few ships, and cruised on the 
sea of Cnidos, and about the isle of Cos; but receiving intelligence 
there that Mindarus, the Spartan admiral, had sailed with his whole 
army into the Hellespont, and that the Athenians had followed him, 
he hurried back to succor the Athenian commanders, and, by good 
fortune, arrived with eighteen galleys at a critical time. For both 
the fleets having engaged near Abydos, the fight between them had 
lasted till night, the one side having the advantage on one quarter, 
and the other on another. Upon his first appearance, both sides 
formed a false impression; the enemy was encouraged, and the 
Athenians terrified. But Alcibiades suddenly raised the Athenian 
ensign in the admiral ship, and fell upon those galleys of the Pelo- 
ponnesians which had the advantage and were in pursuit. He soon 
put these to flight, and followed them so close that he forced them 
on shore, and broke the ships in pieces, the sailors abandoning them 
and swimming away, in spite of all the efforts of Pharnabazus, who 
had come down to their assistance by land, and did what he could 
to protect them from the shore. In fine, the Athenians, having taken 
thirty of the enemy's ships, and recovered all their own, erected a 
trophy. After the gaining of so glorious a victory, his vanity made 
him eager to show himself to Tisaphernes, and, having furnished 
himself with gifts and presents, and an equipage suitable to his 
dignity, he set out to visit him. But the thing did not succeed as he 
had imagined, for Tisaphernes had been long suspected by the 
Lacedarmonians, and was afraid to fall into disgrace with his king 
upon that account, and therefore thought that Alcibiades arrived 
very opportunely, and immediately caused him to be seized, and 
sent away prisoner to Sardis; fancying, by this act of injustice, to 
clear himself from all former imputations. 

But about thirty days after, Alcibiades escaped from his keepers, 
and, having got a horse, fled to Clazomenar, where he procured 
Tisaphernes additional disgrace by professing he was a party to 
his escape. From there he sailed to the Athenian camp, and, being 
informed there that Mindarus and Pharnabazus were together at 


Cyzicus, he made a speech to the soldiers, telling them that sea- 
fighting, land-fighting, and, by the gods, fighting against fortified 
cities too, must be all one for them, as, unless they conquered every- 
where, there was no money for them. As soon as ever he got them 
on ship-board, he hasted to Proconnesus, and gave command to seize 
all the small vessels they met, and guard them safely in the interior 
of the fleet, that the enemy might have no notice of his coming; 
and a great storm of rain, accompanied with thunder and darkness, 
which happened at the same time, contributed much to the conceal- 
ment of his enterprise. Indeed, it was not only undiscovered by the 
enemy, but the Athenians themselves were ignorant of it, for he com- 
manded them suddenly on board, and set sail when they had aban- 
doned all intention of it. As the darkness presently passed away, 
the Peloponnesian fleet were seen riding out at sea in front of the 
harbor of Cyzicus. Fearing, if they discovered the number of his 
ships, they might endeavor to save themselves by land, he com- 
manded the rest of the captains to slacken, and follow him slowly, 
whilst he, advancing with forty ships, showed himself to the enemy, 
and provoked them to fight. The enemy, being deceived as to their 
numbers, despised them, and, supposing they were to contend with 
those only, made themselves ready and began the fight. But as 
soon as they were engaged, they perceived the other part of the 
fleet coming down upon them, at which they were so terrified that 
they fled immediately. Upon that, Alcibiades, breaking through the 
midst of them with twenty of his best ships, hastened to the shore, 
disembarked, and pursued those who abandoned their ships and 
fled to land, and made a great slaughter of them. Mindarus and 
Pharnabazus, coming to their succor, were utterly defeated. Min- 
darus was slain upon the place, fighting valiantly; Pharnabazus 
saved himself by flight. The Athenians slew great numbers of their 
enemies, won much spoil, and took all their ships. They also made 
themselves masters of Cyzicus, which was deserted by Pharnabazus, 
and destroyed its Peloponnesian garrison, and thereby not only se- 
cured to themselves the Hellespont, but by force drove the Lace- 
daemonians from out of all the rest of the sea. They intercepted 
some letters written to the ephors, which gave an account of this 
fatal overthrow, after their short laconic manner. "Our hopes are 


at an end. Mindarus is slain. The men starve. We know not 
what to do." 

The soldiers who followed Alcibiades in this last fight were so 
exalted with their success, and felt that degree of pride, that, look- 
ing on themselves as invincible, they disdained to mix with the other 
soldiers, who had been often overcome. For it happened not long be- 
fore, Thrasyllus had received a defeat near Ephesus, and, upon that 
occasion, the Ephesians erected their brazen trophy to the disgrace of 
the Athenians. The soldiers of Alcibiades reproached those who 
were under the command of Thrasyllus with this misfortune, at the 
same time magnifying themselves and their own commander, and 
it went so far that they would not exercise with them, nor lodge 
in the same quarters. But soon after, Pharnabazus, with a great 
force of horse and foot, falling upon the soldiers of Thrasyllus, as 
they were laying waste the territory of Abydos, Alcibiades came 
to their aid, routed Pharnabazus, and, together with Thrasyllus, 
pursued him till it was night; and in this action the troops united, 
and returned together to the camp, rejoicing and congratulating 
one another. The next day he erected a trophy, and then proceeded 
to lay waste with fire and sword the whole province which was 
under Pharnabazus, where none ventured to resist; and he took 
divers priests and priestesses, but released them without ransom. 
He prepared next to attack the Chalcedonians, who had revolted 
from the Athenians, and had received a Lacedaemonian governor 
and garrison. But having intelligence that they had removed their 
corn and cattle out of the fields, and were conveying it all to the 
Bithynians, who were their friends, he drew down his army to the 
frontier of the Bithynians, and then sent a herald to charge them 
with this proceeding. The Bithynians, terrified at his approach, 
delivered up to him the booty, and entered into alliance with him. 

Afterwards he proceeded to the siege of Chalcedon, and en- 
closed it with a wall from sea to sea. Pharnabazus advanced with 
his forces to raise the siege, and Hippocrates, the governor of the 
town, at the same time, gathering together all the strength he 
had, made a sally upon the Athenians. Alcibiades divided his 
army so as to engage them both at once, and not only forced 
Pharnabazus to a dishonorable flight, but defeated Hippocrates, 

136 plutarch's lives 

and killed him and a number of the soldiers with him. After this 
he sailed into the Hellespont, in order to raise supplies of money, and 
took the city of Selymbria, in which action, through his precipi- 
tation, he exposed himself to great danger. For some within the 
town had undertaken to betray it into his hands, and, by agreement, 
were to give him a signal by a lighted torch about midnight. But 
one of the conspirators beginning to repent himself of the design, 
the rest, for fear of being discovered, were driven to give the sig- 
nal before the appointed hour. Alcibiades, as soon as he saw the 
torch lifted up in the air, though his army was not in readiness to 
march, ran instantly towards the walls, taking with him about thirty 
men only, and commanding the rest of the army to follow him with 
all possible speed. When he came thither, he found the gate opened 
for him, and entered with his thirty men, and about twenty more 
light-armed men, who were come up to them. They were no sooner 
in the city, but he perceived the Selymbrians all armed, coming down 
upon him; so that there was no hope of escaping if he stayed to 
receive them; and, on the other hand, having been always success- 
ful till that day, wherever he commanded, he could not endure to 
be defeated and fly. So, requiring silence by sound of a trumpet, he 
commanded one of his men to make proclamation that the Selym- 
brians should not take arms against the Athenians. This cooled 
such of the inhabitants as were fiercest for the fight, for they sup- 
posed that all their enemies were within the walls, and it raised 
the hopes of others who were disposed to an accommodation. 
Whilst they were parleying, and propositions making on one side 
and the other, Alcibiades's whole army came up to the town. And 
now, conjecturing rightly, that the Selymbrians were well inclined 
to peace, and fearing lest the city might be sacked by the Thracians, 
who came in great numbers to his army to serve as volunteers, out 
of kindness for him, he commanded them all to retreat without 
the walls. And upon the submission of the Selymbrians, he saved 
them from being pillaged, only taking of them a sum of money, 
and, after placing an Athenian garrison in the town, departed. 

During this action, the Athenian captains who besieged Chalce- 
don concluded a treaty with Pharnabazus upon these articles: That 
he should give them a sum of money; that the Chalcedonians 


should return to the subjection of Athens; and that the Athenians 
should make no inroad into the province whereof Pharnabazus was 
governor; and Pharnabazus was also to provide safe conducts for 
the Athenian ambassadors to the king of Persia. Afterwards, when 
Alcibiades returned thither, Pharnabazus required that he also 
should be sworn to the treaty; but he refused it, unless Pharnabazus 
would swear at the same time. When the treaty was sworn to on 
both sides Alcibiades went against the Byzantines, who had re- 
volted from the Athenians, and drew a line of circumvallation about 
the city. But Anaxilaus and Lycurgus, together with some others, 
having undertaken to betray the city to him upon his engagement 
to preserve the lives and property of the inhabitants, he caused a 
report to be spread abroad, as if, by reason of some unexpected 
movement in Ionia, he should be obliged to raise the siege. And, 
accordingly, that day he made a show to depart with his whole 
fleet; but returned the same night, and went ashore with all his 
men at arms, and, silently and undiscovered, marched up to the 
walls. At the same time, his ships rowed into the harbor with all 
possible violence, coming on with much fury, and with great 
shouts and outcries. The Byzantines, thus surprised and astonished, 
while they all hurried to the defence of their port and shipping, 
gave opportunity to those who favored the Athenians, securely to 
receive Alcibiades into the city. Yet the enterprise was not accom- 
plished without fighting, for the Peloponnesians, Boeotians, and 
Megarians not only repulsed those who came out of the ships, and 
forced them on board again, but, hearing that the Athenians were 
entered on the other side, drew up in order, and went to meet 
them. Alcibiades, however, gained the victory after some sharp 
fighting, in which he himself had the command of the right wing, 
and Theramenes of the left, and took about three hundred, who 
survived of the enemy, prisoners of war. After the battle, not one 
of the Byzantines was slain, or driven out of the city, according to 
the terms upon which the city was put into his hands, that they 
should receive no prejudice in life or property. And thus Anaxi- 
laus, being afterwards accused at Lacedaemon for this treason, 
neither disowned nor professed to be ashamed of the action; for he 
urged that he was not a Lacedaemonian, but a Byzantine, and saw 

138 plutarch's lives 

not Sparta, by Byzantium, in extreme danger; the city so blockaded 
that it was not possible to bring in any new provisions, and the 
Peloponnesians and Boeotians, who were in garrison, devouring the 
old stores, whilst the Byzantines, with their wives and children, 
were starving; that he had not, therefore, betrayed his country to 
enemies, but had delivered it from the calamities of war, and had 
but followed the example of the most worthy Lacedaemonians, who 
esteemed nothing to be honorable and just, but what was profitable 
for their country. The Laceda:monians, upon hearing his defence, 
respected it, and discharged all that were accused. 

And now Alcibiades began to desire to see his native country 
again, or rather to show his fellow-citizens a person who had gained 
so many victories for them. He set sail for Athens, the ships that 
accompanied him, being adorned with great numbers of shields 
and other spoils, and towing after them many galleys taken from 
the enemy, and the ensigns and ornaments of many others which he 
had sunk and destroyed; all of them together amounting to two 
hundred. Little credit, perhaps, can be given to what Duris the 
Samian, who professed to be descended from Alcibiades, adds, that 
Chrysogonus, who had gained a victory at the Pythian games, 
played upon his flute for the galleys, whilst the oars kept time with 
the music; and that Callippides, the tragedian, attired in his buskins, 
his purple robes, and other ornaments used in the theatre, gave the 
word to the rowers, and that the admiral galley entered into the 
port with a purple sail. Neither Theopompus, nor Ephorus, nor 
Xenophon, mentioned them. Nor, indeed, is it credible, that one 
who returned from so long an exile, and such variety of misfor- 
tunes, should come home to his countrymen in the style of revellers 
breaking up from a drinking-party. On the contrary, he entered the 
harbor full of fear, nor would he venture to go on shore, till, stand- 
ing on the deck, he saw Euryptolemus, his cousin, and others of 
his friends and acquaintance, who were ready to receive him, and 
invited him to land. As soon as he was landed, the multitude who 
came out to meet him scarcely seemed so much as to see any of 
the other captains, but came in throngs about Alcibiades, and sa- 
luted him with loud acclamations, and still followed him; those 
who could press near him crowned him with garlands, and they 


who could not come up so close yet stayed to behold him afar off, and 
the old men pointed him out, and showed him to the young ones. 
Nevertheless, this public joy was mixed with some tears, and the 
present happiness was allayed by the remembrance of the miseries 
they had endured. They made reflections, that they could not have 
so unfortunately miscarried in Sicily, or been defeated in any of 
their other expectations, if they had left the management of their 
affairs formerly, and the command of their forces, to Alcibiades, 
since, upon his undertaking the administration, when they were in 
a manner driven from the sea, and could scarce defend the suburbs 
of their city by land, and, at the same time, were miserably dis- 
tracted with intestine factions, he had raised them up from this low 
and deplorable condition, and had not only restored them to their 
ancient dominion of the sea, but had also made them everywhere 
victorious over their enemies on land. 

There had been a decree for recalling him from his banishment 
already passed by the people, at the instance of Critias, the son of 
Callaeschrus, as appears by his elegies, in which he puts Alcibi- 
ades in mind of this service: — 

"From my proposal did that edict come, 
Which from your tedious exile brought you home, 
The public vote at first was moved by me, 
And my voice put the seal to the decree." 

The people being summoned to an assembly, Alcibiades came in 
amongst them, and first bewailed and lamented his own sufferings, 
and, in gentle terms complaining of the usage he had received, im- 
puted all to his hard fortune, and some ill genius that attended him: 
then he spoke at large of their prospects, and exhorted them to cour- 
age and good hope. The people crowned him with crowns of 
gold, and created him general, both at land and sea, with absolute 
power. They also made a decree that his estate should be restored 
to him, and that the Eumolpida: and the holy heralds should ab- 
solve him from the curses which they had solemnly pronounced 
against him by sentence of the people. Which when all the rest 
obeyed, Theodorus, the high-priest, excused himself, "For," said 
he, "if he is innocent, I never cursed him." 

140 plutarch's lives 

But notwithstanding the affairs of Alcibiades went so prosperously, 
and so much to his glory, yet many were still somewhat disturbed, 
and looked upon the time of his arrival to be ominous. For on the 
day that he came into the port, the feast of the goddess Minerva, 
which they call the Plynteria, was kept. It is the twenty-fifth day of 
Thargelion, when the Praxiergidar solemnize their secret rites, taking 
all the ornaments from off her image, and keeping the part of the 
temple where it stands close covered. Hence the Athenians esteem 
this day most inauspicious, and never undertake any thing of im- 
portance upon it; and, therefore, they imagined that the goddess 
did not receive Alcibiades graciously and propitiously, thus hiding 
her face and rejecting him. Yet, notwithstanding, every thing suc- 
ceeded according to his wish. When the one hundred galleys, that 
were to return with him, were fitted out and ready to sail, an honor- 
able zeal detained him till the celebration of the mysteries was 
over. For ever since Decelea had been occupied, as the enemy com- 
manded the roads leading from Athens to Eleusis, the procession, 
being conducted by sea, had not been performed with any proper 
solemnity; they were forced to omit the sacrifices and dances and 
other holy ceremonies, which had usually been performed in the 
way, when they led forth Iacchus. Alcibiades, therefore, judged it 
would be a glorious action, which would do honor to the gods and 
gain him esteem with men, if he restored the ancient splendor to 
these rites, escorting the procession again by land, and protecting it 
with his army in the face of the enemy. For either, if Agis stood 
still and did not oppose, it would very much diminish and obscure 
his reputation, or, in the other alternative, Alcibiades would engage 
in a holy war, in the cause of the gods, and in defence of the most 
sacred and solemn ceremonies; and this in the sight of his country, 
where he should have all his fellow-citizens witnesses of his valor. 
As soon as he had resolved upon this design, and had communicated 
it to the Eumolpidac and heralds, he placed sentinels on the tops 
of the hills, and at the break of day sent forth his scouts. And then 
taking with him the priests and Initiates 6 and the Initiators, and 
encompassing them with his soldiers, he conducted them with great 
order and profound silence; an august and venerable procession, 
' Mystz and MysUgogi. 


wherein all who did not envy him said, he performed at once the 
office of a high-priest and of a general. The enemy did not dare to 
attempt any thing against them, and thus he brought them back in 
safety to the city. Upon which, as he was exalted in his own thought, 
so the opinion which the people had of his conduct was raised to 
that degree, that they looked upon their armies as irresistible and 
invincible while he commanded them; and he so won, indeed, upon 
the lower and meaner sort of people, that they passionately desired 
to have him "tyrant" over them, and some of them did not scruple 
to tell him so, and to advise him to put himself out of the reach of 
envy, by abolishing the laws and ordinances of the people, and sup- 
pressing the idle talkers that were ruining the state, that so he 
might act and take upon him the management of affairs, without 
standing in fear of being called to an account. 

How far his own inclinations led him to usurp sovereign power, 
is uncertain, but the most considerable persons in the city were so 
much afraid of it, that they hastened him on ship-board as speedily 
as they could, appointing the colleagues whom he chose, and allow- 
ing him all other things as he desired. Thereupon he set sail with 
a fleet of one hundred ships, and, arriving at Andros, he there 
fought with and defeated as well the inhabitants as the Lace- 
daemonians who assisted them. He did not, however, take the city; 
which gave the first occasion to his enemies for all their accusations 
against him. Certainly, if ever man was ruined by his own glory, 
it was Alcibiades. For his continual success had produced such an 
idea of his courage and conduct, that, if he failed in any thing he 
undertook, it was imputed to his neglect, and no one would believe 
it was through want of power. For they thought nothing was too 
hard for him, if he went about it in good earnest. They fancied, 
every day, that they should hear news of the reduction of Chios, and 
of the rest of Ionia, and grew impatient that things were not ef- 
fected as fast and as rapidly as they could wish for them. They 
never considered how extremely money was wanting, and that, 
having to carry on war with an enemy who had supplies of all 
things from a great king, he was often forced to quit his armament, 
in order to procure money and provisions for the subsistence of his 
soldiers. This it was which gave occasion for the last accusation 


which was made against him. For Lysander, being sent from Lace- 
darmon with a commission to be admiral of their fleet, and being 
furnished by Cyrus with a great sum of money, gave every sailor 
four obols a day, whereas before they had but three. Alcibiades 
could hardly allow his men three obols, and therefore was con- 
strained to go into Caria to furnish himself with money. He left 
the care of the fleet, in his absence, to Antiochus, an experienced 
seaman, but rash and inconsiderate, who had express orders from 
Alcibiades not to engage, though the enemy provoked him. But 
he slighted and disregarded these directions to that degree, that, 
having made ready his own galley and another, he stood for Ephe- 
sus, where the enemy lay, and, as he sailed before the heads of their 
galleys, used every provocation possible, both in words and deeds. 
Lysander at first manned out a few ships, and pursued him. But 
all the Athenian ships coming in to his assistance, Lysander, also, 
brought up his whole fleet, which gained an entire victory. He 
slew Antiochus himself, took many men and ships, and erected 
a trophy. 

As soon as Alcibiades heard this news, he returned to Samos, 
and loosing from thence with his whole fleet, came and offered 
battle to Lysander. But Lysander, content with the victory he had 
gained, would not stir. Amongst others in the army who hated 
Alcibiades, Thrasybulus, the son of Thrason, was his particular 
enemy, and went purposely to Athens to accuse him, and to exasper- 
ate his enemies in the city against him. Addressing the people, he 
represented that Alcibiades had ruined their affairs and lost their 
ships by mere self-conceited neglect of his duties, committing the 
government of the army, in his absence, to men who gained his 
favor by drinking and scurrilous talking, whilst he wandered up 
and down at pleasure to raise money, giving himself up to every sort 
of luxury and excess amongst the courtesans of Abydos and Ionia, at 
a time when the enemy's navy were on the watch close at hand. It 
was also objected to him, that he had fortified a castle near Bisanthe 
in Thrace, for a safe retreat for himself, as one that either could 
not, or would not, live in his own country. The Athenians gave 
credit to these informations, and showed the resentment and dis- 


pleasure which they had conceived against him, by choosing other 

As soon as Alcibiades heard of this, he immediately forsook the 
army, afraid of what might follow; and, collecting a body of mer- 
cenary soldiers, made war upon his own account against those 
Thracians who 'called themselves free, and acknowledged no king. 
By this means he amassed to himself a considerable treasure, and, 
at the same time, secured the bordering Greeks from the incursions 
of the barbarians. 

Tydeus, Menander, and Adimantus, the new-made generals, were 
at that time posted at jEgospotami, with all the ships which the 
Athenians had left. From whence they were used to go out to sea 
every morning, and offer battle to Lysander, who lay near Lamp- 
sacus; and when they had done so, returning back again, lay, all 
the rest of the day, carelessly and without order, in contempt of the 
enemy. Alcibiades, who was not far off, did not think so slightly 
of their danger, nor neglect to let them know it, but, mounting his 
horse, came to the generals, and represented to them that they had 
chosen a very inconvenient station, where there was no safe harbor, 
and where they were distant from any town; so that they were con- 
strained to send for their necessary provisions as far as Sestos. He 
also pointed out to them their carelessness in suffering the soldiers, 
when they went ashore, to disperse and wander up and down at 
their pleasure, while the enemy's fleet, under the command of one 
general, and strictly obedient to discipline, lay so very near them. 
He advised them to remove the fleet to Sestos. But the admirals not 
only disregarded what he said, but Tydeus, with insulting expres- 
sions, commanded him to be gone, saying, that now not he, but 
others, had the command of the forces. Alcibiades, suspecting some- 
thing of treachery in them, departed, and told his friends, who ac- 
companied him out of the camp, that if the generals had not used 
him with such insupportable contempt, he would within a few days 
have forced the Lacedaemonians, however unwilling, either to have 
fought the Athenians at sea, or to have deserted their ships. Some 
looked upon this as a piece of ostentation only; others said, the 
thing was probable, for that he might have brought down by land 


great numbers of the Thracian cavalry and archers, to assault and 
disorder them in their camp. The event, however, soon made it 
evident how rightly he had judged of the errors which the Atheni- 
ans committed. For Lysander fell upon them on a sudden, when 
they least suspected it, with such fury that Conon alone, with eight 
galleys, escaped him; all the rest, which were about two hundred, 
he took and carried away, together with three thousand prisoners, 
whom he put to death. And within a short time after, he took 
Athens itself, burnt all the ships which he found there, and demol- 
ished their long walls. 

After this Alcibiades, standing in dread of the Lacedemonians, 
who were now masters both at sea and land, retired into Bithynia. 
He sent thither great treasure before him, took much with him, but 
left much more in the castle where he had before resided. But he 
lost great part of his wealth in Bithynia, being robbed by some 
Thracians who lived in those parts, and thereupon determined to go 
to the court of Artaxerxes, not doubting but that the king, if he 
would make trial of his abilities, would find him not inferior to 
Themistocles, besides that he was recommended by a more honor- 
able cause. For he went, not as Themistocles did, to offer his services 
against his fellow-citizens, but against their enemies, and to implore 
the king's aid for the defence of his country. He concluded that 
Pharnabazus would most readily procure him a safe conduct, and 
therefore went into Phrygia to him, and continued to dwell there 
some time, paying him great respect, and being honorably treated 
by him. The Athenians, in the mean time, were miserably afflicted 
at their loss of empire, but when they were deprived of liberty also, 
and Lysander set up thirty despotic rulers in the city, in their ruin 
now they began to turn to those thoughts which, while safety was 
yet possible, they would not entertain; they acknowledged and be- 
wailed their former errors and follies, and judged this second ill- 
usage of Alcibiades to be of all the most inexcusable. For he was 
rejected, without any fault committed by himself; and only because 
they were incensed against his subordinate for having shamefully 
lost a few ships, they much more shamefully deprived the com- 
monwealth of its most valiant and accomplished general. Yet in 
this sad state of affairs, they had still some faint hopes left them, 


nor would they utterly despair of the Athenian commonwealth, 
while Alcibiades was safe. For they persuaded themselves that if 
before, when he was an exile, he could not content himself to live 
idly and at ease, much less now, if he could find any favorable 
opportunity, would he endure the insolence of the Lacedaemonians, 
and the outrages of the Thirty. Nor was it an absurd thing in the 
people to entertain such imaginations, when the Thirty themselves 
were so very solicitous to be informed and to get intelligence of all 
his actions and designs. In fine, Critias represented to Lysander that 
the Lacedaemonians could never securely enjoy the dominion of 
Greece, till the Athenian democracy was absolutely destroyed; and 
though now the people of Athens seemed quietly and patiently to 
submit to so small a number of governors, yet so long as Alcibiades 
lived, the knowledge of this fact would never suffer them to acqui- 
esce in their present circumstances. 

Yet Lysander would not be prevailed upon by these representa- 
tions, till at last he received secret orders from the magistrates of 
Lacedaemon, expressly requiring him to get Alcibiades despatched: 
whether it was that they feared his energy and boldness in enterpris- 
ing what was hazardous, or that it was done to gratify king Agis. 
Upon receipt of this order, Lysander sent away a messenger to 
Pharnabazus, desiring him to put it in execution. Pharnabazus com- 
mitted the affair to Magaeus, his brother, and to his uncle Susa- 
mithres. Alcibiades resided at that time in a small village in Phrygia, 
together with Timandra, a mistress of his. As he slept, he had this 
dream: he thought himself attired in his mistress's habit, and that 
she, holding him in her arms, dressed his head and painted his face 
as if he had been a woman; others say, he dreamed that he saw 
Magarus cut off his head and burn his body; at any rate, it was but 
a little while before his death that he had these visions. Those who 
were sent to assassinate him had not courage enough to enter the 
house, but surrounded it first, and set it on fire. Alcibiades, as soon 
as he perceived it, getting together great quantities of clothes and 
furniture, threw them upon the fire to choke it, and, having wrapped 
his cloak about his left arm, and holding his naked sword in his 
right, he cast himself into the middle of the fire, and escaped se- 
curely through it, before his clothes were burnt. The barbarians, as 

146 plutarch's lives 

soon as they saw him, retreated, and none of them durst stay to 
expect him, or to engage with him, but, standing at a distance, they 
slew him with their darts and arrows. When he was dead, the 
barbarians departed, and Timandra took up his dead body, and, 
covering and wrapping it up in her own robes, she buried it as 
decently and as honorably as her circumstances would allow. It is 
said, that the famous Lais, who was called the Corinthian, though 
she was a native of Hyccara, a small town in Sicily, from whence 
she was brought a captive, was the daughter of this Timandra. 
There are some who agree with this account of Alcibiades's death 
in all points, except that they impute the cause of it neither to Phar- 
nabazus, nor Lysander, nor the Lacedaemonians: but, they say, he 
was keeping with him a young lady of a noble house, whom he had 
debauched, and that her brothers, not being able to endure the indig- 
nity, set fire by night to the house where he was living, and, as he 
endeavored to save himself from the flames, slew him with their 
darts, in the manner just related. 


THE patrician house of the Marcii in Rome produced many 
men of distinction, and among the rest, Ancus Marcius, 
grandson to Numa by his daughter, and king after Tullus 
Hostilius. Of the same family were also Publius and Quintus 
Marcius, which two conveyed into the city the best and most abund- 
ant supply of water they have at Rome. As likewise Censorinus, 
who, having been twice chosen censor by the people, afterwards 
himself induced them to make a law that nobody should bear that 
office twice. But Caius Marcius, of whom I now write, being left 
an orphan, and brought up under the widowhood of his mother, has 
shown us by experience, that, although the early loss of a father may 
be attended with other disadvantages, yet it can hinder none from 
being either virtuous or eminent in the world, and that it is no 
obstacle to true goodness and excellence; however bad men may be 
pleased to lay the blame of their corruptions upon that misfortune 
and the neglect of them in their minority. Nor is he less an evi- 
dence to the truth of their opinion, who conceive that a generous 
and worthy nature without proper discipline, like a rich soil with- 
out culture, is apt, with its better fruits, to produce also much that 
is bad and faulty. While the force and vigor of his soul, and a per- 
severing constancy in all he undertook, led him successfully into 
many noble achievements, yet, on the other side, also, by indulging 
the vehemence of his passion, and through an obstinate reluctance 
to yield or accommodate his humors and sentiments to those of 
people about him, he rendered himself incapable of acting and asso- 
ciating with others. Those who saw with admiration how proof 
his nature was against all the softnesses of pleasure, the hardships 
of service and the allurements of gain, while allowing to that uni- 
versal firmness of his the respective names of temperance, fortitude, 
and justice, yet, in the life of the citizen and the statesman, could not 
choose but be disgusted at the severity and ruggedness of his deport- 


148 plutarch's lives 

ment, and with his overbearing, haughty, and imperious temper. 
Education and study, and the favors of the muses, confer no greater 
benefit on those that seek them, than these humanizing and civiliz- 
ing lessons, which teach our natural qualities to submit to the limita- 
tions prescribed by reason, and to avoid the wildness of extremes. 

Those were times at Rome in which that kind of worth was 
most esteemed which displayed itself in military achievements; one 
evidence of which we find in the Latin word for virtue, which is 
properly equivalent to manly courage. As if valor and all virtue 
had been the same thing, they used as the common term the name 
of the particular excellence. But Marcius, having a more passionate 
inclination than any of that age for feats of war, began at once, 
from his very childhood, to handle arms; and feeling that adventi- 
tious implements and artificial arms would effect little, and be of 
small use to such as have not their native and natural weapons well 
fixed and prepared for service, he so exercised and inured his body 
to all sorts of activity and encounter, that, besides the lightness of 
a racer, he had a weight in close seizures and wrestlings with an 
enemy, from which it was hard for any to disengage himself; so 
that his competitors at home in displays of bravery, loath to own 
themselves inferior in that respect, were wont to ascribe their deficien- 
cies to his strength of body, which they said no resistance and no 
fatigue could exhaust. 

The first time he went out to the wars, being yet a stripling, was 
when Tarquinius Superbus, who had been king of Rome and was 
afterwards expelled, after many unsuccessful attempts, now entered 
upon his last effort, and proceeded to hazard all as it were upon a 
single throw. A great number of the Latins and other people of 
Italy joined their forces, and were marching with him toward the 
city, to procure his restoration; not, however, so much out of a desire 
to serve and oblige Tarquin, as to gratify their own fear and envy 
at the increase of the Roman greatness, which they were anxious to 
check and reduce. The armies met and engaged in a decisive battle, 
in the vicissitudes of which, Marcius, while fighting bravely in the 
dictator's presence, saw a Roman soldier struck down at a little dis- 
tance, and immediately stepped in and stood before him, and slew 
his assailant. The general, after having gained the victory, crowned 


him for this act, one of the first, with a garland of oaken branches; 
it being the Roman custom thus to adorn those who had saved the 
life of a citizen; whether that the law intended some special honor 
to the oak, in memory of the Arcadians, a people the oracle had 
made famous by the name of acorn-eaters; 1 or whether the reason 
of it was because they might easily, and in all places where they 
fought, have plenty of oak for that purpose; or, finally, whether 
the oaken wreath, being sacred to Jupiter, the guardian of the city, 
might, therefore, be thought a proper ornament for one who pre- 
served a citizen. And the oak, in truth, is the tree which bears the 
most and the prettiest fruit of any that grow wild, and is the strong- 
est of all that are under cultivation; its acorns were the principal diet 
of the first mortals, and the honey found in it gave them drink. I 
may say, too, it furnished fowl and other creatures as dainties, in 
producing mistletoe for birdlime to ensnare them. In this battle, 
meantime, it is stated that Castor and Pollux appeared, and, imme- 
diately after the battle, were seen at Rome just by the fountain where 
their temple now stands, with their horses foaming with sweat, and 
told the news of the victory to the people in the Forum. The fif- 
teenth of July, being the day of this conquest, became consequently 
a solemn holiday sacred to the Twin Brothers. 

It may be observed, in general, that when young men arrive 
early at fame and repute, if they are of a nature but slightly touched 
with emulation, this early attainment is apt to extinguish their thirst 
and satiate their small appetite; whereas the first distinctions of more 
solid and weighty characters do but stimulate and quicken them and 
take them away, like a wind, in the pursuit of honor; they look upon 
these marks and testimonies to their virtue not as a recompense 
received for what they have already done, but as a pledge given by 
themselves of what they will perform hereafter, ashamed now to 
forsake or underlive the credit they have won, or, rather, not to 
exceed and obscure all that is gone before by the lustre of their fol- 
lowing actions. Marcius, having a spirit of this noble make, was 
ambitious always to surpass himself, and did nothing, how extraor- 

1 "You ask me for Arcadia," said the oracle to the Spartans, when designing their 
early invasion. "You ask a great thing, I will not grant it. There arc in Arcadia many 
acorn-eaters ready to prevent you. I, however, grudge you nothing. I grant you to 
dance about Tcgea, and measure out the fair plain by the line." 


dinary soever, but he thought he was bound to outdo it at the next 
occasion; and ever desiring to give continual fresh instances of his 
prowess, he added one exploit to another, and heaped up trophies 
upon trophies, so as to make it matter of contest also among his 
commanders, the later still vying with the earlier, which should pay 
him the greatest honor and speak highest in his commendation. Of 
all the numerous wars and conflicts in those days, there was not one 
from which he returned without laurels and rewards. And, whereas 
others made glory the end of their daring, the end of his glory was 
his mother's gladness; the delight she took to hear him praised and 
to see him crowned, and her weeping for joy in his embraces, ren- 
dered him, in his own thoughts, the most honored and most happy 
person in the world. Epaminondas is similarly said to have ac- 
knowledged his feeling, that it was the greatest felicity of his whole 
life that his father and mother survived to hear of his successful 
generalship and his victory at Leuctra. And he had the advantage, 
indeed, to have both his parents partake with him, and enjoy the 
pleasure of his good fortune. But Marcius, believing himself bound 
to pay his mother Volumnia all that gratitude and duty which would 
have belonged to his father, had he also been alive, could never 
satiate himself in his tenderness and respect to her. He took 
a wife, also, at her request and wish, and continued, even after 
he had children, to live still with his mother, without parting 

The repute of his integrity and courage had, by this time, gained 
him a considerable influence and authority in Rome, when the 
senate, favoring the wealthier citizens, began to be at variance with 
the common people, who made sad complaints of the rigorous and 
inhuman usage they received from the money-lenders. For as many 
as were behind with them, and had any sort of property, they 
stripped of all they had, by the way of pledges and sales; and such 
as through former exactions were reduced already to extreme indi- 
gence, and had nothing more to be deprived of, these they led away 
in person and put their bodies under constraint, notwithstanding the 
scars and wounds that they could show in attestation of their pub- 
lic services in numerous campaigns; the last of which had been 
against the Sabines, which they undertook upon a promise made by 


their rich creditors that they would treat them with more gentle- 
ness for the future, Marcus Valerius, the consul, having, by order 
from the senate, engaged also for the performance of it. But when, 
after they had fought courageously and beaten the enemy, there 
was, nevertheless, no moderation or forbearance used, and the sen- 
ate also professed to remember nothing of that agreement, and sat 
without testifying the least concern to see them dragged away like 
slaves and their goods seized upon as formerly, there began now to 
be open disorders and dangerous meetings in the city; and the 
enemy, also, aware of the popular confusion, invaded and laid waste 
the country. And when the consuls now gave notice, that all who 
were of an age to bear arms should make their personal appearance, 
but found no one regard the summons, the members of the govern- 
ment, then coming to consult what course should be taken, were 
themselves again divided in opinion: some thought it most advis- 
able to comply a little in favor of the poor, by relaxing their over- 
strained rights, and mitigating the extreme rigor of the law, while 
others withstood this proposal; Marcius in particular, with more 
vehemence than the rest, alleging that the business of money on 
either side was not the main thing in question, urged that this dis- 
orderly proceeding was but the first insolent step towards open revolt 
against the laws, which it would become the wisdom of the gov- 
ernment to check at the earliest moment. 

There had been frequent assemblies of the whole senate, within 
a small compass of time, about this difficulty, but without any certain 
issue; the poor commonalty, therefore, perceiving there was likely 
to be no redress of their grievances, on a sudden collected in a body, 
and, encouraging each other in their resolution, forsook the city with 
one accord, and seizing the hill which is now called the Holy 
Mount, sat down by the river Anio, without committing any sort of 
violence or seditious outrage, but merely exclaiming, as they went 
along, that they had this long time past been, in fact, expelled and 
excluded from the city by the cruelty of the rich; that Italy would 
everywhere afford them the benefit of air and water and a place 
of burial, which was all they could expect in the city, unless it were, 
perhaps, the privilege of being wounded and killed in time of war 
for the defence of their creditors. The senate, apprehending the con- 


sequences, sent the most moderate and popular men of their own 
order to treat with them. 

Menenius Agrippa, their chief spokesman, after much entreaty to 
the people, and much plain speaking on behalf of the senate, con- 
cluded, at length, with the celebrated fable. "It once happened," he 
said, "that all the other members of a man mutinied against the 
stomach, which they accused as the only idle, uncontributing part 
in the whole body, while the rest were put to hardships and the 
expense of much labor to supply and minister to its appetites. The 
stomach, however, merely ridiculed the silliness of the members, 
who appeared not to be aware that the stomach certainly does receive 
the general nourishment, but only to return it again, and redistrib- 
ute it amongst the rest. Such is the case," he said, "ye citizens, 
between you and the senate. The counsels and plans that are there 
duly digested, convey and secure to all of you, your proper benefit 
and support." 

A reconciliation ensued, the senate acceding to the request of the 
people for the annual election of five protectors for those in need of 
succor, the same that are now called the tribunes of the people; and 
the first two they pitched upon were Junius Brutus and Sicinnius 
Vellutus, their leaders in the secession. 

The city being thus united, the commons stood presently to their 
arms, and followed their commanders to the war with great alacrity. 
As for Marcius, though he was not a little vexed himself to see the 
populace prevail so far, and gain ground of the senators, and might 
observe many other patricians have the same dislike of the late con- 
cessions, he yet besought them not to yield at least to the common 
people in the zeal and forwardness they now showed for their coun- 
try's service, but to prove that they were superior to them, not so 
much in power and riches, as in merit and worth. 

The Romans were now at war with the Volscian nation, whose 
principal city was Corioli; when, therefore, Cominius the consul 
had invested this important place, the rest of the Volscians, fearing 
it would be taken, mustered up whatever force they could from all 
parts, to relieve it, designing to give the Romans battle before the 
city, and so attack them on both sides. Cominius, to avoid this in- 
convenience, divided his army, marching himself with one body to 


encounter the Volscians on their approach from without, and leav- 
ing Titus Lartius, one of the bravest Romans of his time, to com- 
mand the other and continue the siege. Those within Corioli, despis- 
ing now the smallness of their number, made a sally upon them, 
and prevailed at first, and pursued the Romans into their trenches. 
Here it was that Marcius, flying out with a slender company, and 
cutting those in pieces that first engaged him, obliged the other 
assailants to slacken their speed; and then, with loud cries, called 
upon the Romans to renew the battle. For he had, what Cato 
thought a great point in a soldier, not only strength of hand and 
stroke, but also a voice and look that of themselves were a terror 
to an enemy. Divers of his own party now rallying and making up 
to him, the enemies soon retreated; but Marcius, not content to see 
them draw off and retire, pressed hard upon the rear, and drove 
them, as they fled away in haste, to the very gates of their city; 
where, perceiving the Romans to fall back from their pursuit, beaten 
off by the multitude of darts poured in upon them from the walls, 
and that none of his followers had the hardiness to think of falling 
in pellmell among the fugitives and so entering a city full of enemies 
in arms, he, nevertheless, stood and urged them to the attempt, cry- 
ing out, that fortune had now set open Corioli, not so much to 
shelter the vanquished, as to receive the conquerors. Seconded by 
a few that were willing to venture with him, he bore along through 
the crowd, made good his passage, and thrust himself into the gate 
through the midst of them, nobody at first daring to resist him. But 
when the citizens, on looking about, saw that a very small num- 
ber had entered, they now took courage, and came up and attacked 
them. A combat ensued of the most extraordinary description, in 
which Marcius, by strength of hand, and swiftness of foot, and 
daring of soul, overpowering every one that he assailed, succeeded 
in driving the enemy to seek refuge, for the most part, in the inte- 
rior of the town, while the remainder submitted, and threw down 
their arms; thus affording Lartius abundant opportunity to bring 
in the rest of the Romans with ease and safety. 

Corioli being thus surprised and taken, the greater part of the 
soldiers employed themselves in spoiling and pillaging it, while 
Marcius indignandy reproached them, and exclaimed that it was a 


dishonorable and unworthy thing, when the consul and their fellow- 
citizens had now perhaps encountered the other Volscians, and were 
hazarding their lives in battle, basely to misspend the time in run- 
ning up and down for booty, and, under a pretence of enriching 
themselves, keep out of danger. Few paid him any attention, but, 
putting himself at the head of these, he took the road by which 
the consul's army had marched before him, encouraging his com- 
panions, and beseeching them, as they went along, not to give up, 
and praying often to the gods, too, that he might be so happy as to 
arrive before the fight was over, and come seasonably up to assist 
Cominius, and partake in the peril of the action. 

It was customary with the Romans of that age, when they were 
moving into battle array, and were on the point of taking up their 
bucklers, and girding their coats about them, to make at the same 
time an unwritten will, or verbal testament, and to name who should 
be their heirs, in the hearing of three or four witnesses. In this 
precise posture Marcius found them at his arrival, the enemy being 
advanced within view. 

They were not a little disturbed by his first appearance, seeing 
him covered with blood and sweat, and attended with a small train; 
but when he hastily made up to the consul with gladness in his 
looks, giving him his hand, and recounting to him how the city had 
been taken, and when they saw Cominius also embrace and salute 
him, every one took fresh heart; those that were near enough hear- 
ing, and those that were at a distance guessing, what had happened; 
and all cried out to be led to battle. First, however, Marcius de- 
sired to know of him how the Volscians had arrayed their army, 
and where they had placed their best men, and on his answering that 
he took the troops of the Antiates in the centre to be their prime 
warriors, that would yield to none in bravery, "Let me then demand 
and obtain of you," said Marcius, "that we may be posted against 
them." The consul granted the request, with much admiration of 
his gallantry. And when the conflict began by the soldiers darting 
at each other, and Marcius sallied out before the rest, the Volscians 
opposed to him were not able to make head against him; wherever 
he fell in, he broke their ranks, and made a lane through them; but 
the parties turning again, and enclosing him on each side with 


their weapons, the consul, who observed the danger he was in, 
despatched some of the choicest men he had for his rescue. The 
conflict then growing warm and sharp about Marcius, and many 
falling dead in a little space, the Romans bore so hard upon the 
enemies, and pressed them with such violence, that they forced them 
at length to abandon their ground, and to quit the field. And, going 
now to prosecute the victory, they besought Marcius, tired out with 
his toils, and faint and heavy through the loss of blood, that he 
would retire to the camp. He replied, however, that weariness was 
not for conquerors, and joined with them in the pursuit. The rest 
of the Volscian army was in like manner defeated, great numbers 
killed, and no less taken captive. 

The day after, when Marcius, with the rest of the army, presented 
themselves at the consul's tent, Cominius rose, and having rendered 
all due acknowledgment to the gods for the success of that enter- 
prise, turned next to Marcius, and first of all delivered the strongest 
encomium upon his rare exploits, which he had partly been an eye- 
witness of himself, in the late battle, and had partly learned from 
the testimony of Lartius. And then he required him to choose a 
tenth part of all the treasure and horses and captives that had fallen 
into their hands, before any division should be made to others; be- 
sides which, he made him the special present of a horse with trap- 
pings and ornaments, in honor of his actions. The whole army 
applauded; Marcius, however, stepped forth, and declaring his 
thankful acceptance of the horse, and his gratification at the praises 
of his general, said, that all other things, which he could only regard 
rather as mercenary advantages than any significations of honor, he 
must waive, and should be content with the ordinary proportion 
of such rewards. "I have only," said he, "one special grace to beg, 
and this I hope you will not deny me. There was a certain hospitable 
friend of mine among the Volscians, a man of probity and virtue, 
who is become a prisoner, and from former wealth and freedom 
is now reduced to servitude. Among his many misfortunes let my 
intercession redeem him from the one of being sold as a common 
slave." Such a refusal and such a request on the part of Marcius 
were followed with yet louder acclamations; and he had many more 
admirers of this generous superiority to avarice, than of the bravery 

156 plutarch's lives 

he had shown in battle. The very persons who conceived some envy 
and despite to see him so specially honored, could not but acknowl- 
edge, that one who so nobly could refuse reward, was beyond others 
worthy to receive it; and were more charmed with that virtue 
which made him despise advantage, than with any of those former 
actions that had gained him his title to it. It is the higher accom- 
plishment to use money well than to use arms; but not to need it 
is more noble than to use it. 

When the noise of approbation and applause ceased, Cominius, 
resuming, said, "It is idle, fellow-soldiers, to force and obtrude those 
other gifts of ours on one who is unwilling to accept them; let us, 
therefore, give him one of such a kind that he cannot well reject it; 
let us pass a vote, I mean, that he shall hereafter be called Coriolanus, 
unless you think that his performance at Corioli has itself antici- 
pated any such resolution." Hence, therefore, he had his third name 
of Coriolanus, making it all the plainer that Caius was a personal 
proper name, and the second, or surname, Marcius, one common 
to his house and family; the third being a subsequent addition which 
used to be imposed either from some particular act or fortune, bodily 
characteristic, or good quality of the bearer. Just as the Greeks, too, 
gave additional names in old time, in some cases from some achieve- 
ment, Soter, for example, and Callinicus; or personal appearance, 
as Physcon and Grypus; good qualities, Euergetes and Philadelphus; 
good fortune, Eudarmon, the title of the second Battus. 1 Several 
monarchs have also had names given them in mockery, as Antigo- 
nus was called Doson, and Ptolemy, Lathyrus. This sort of title 
was yet more common among the Romans. One of the Metelli was 
surnamed Diadematus, because he walked about for a long time 
with a bandage on his head, to conceal a scar; and another, of the 
same family, got the name of Celer, from the rapidity he displayed 
in giving a funeral entertainment of gladiators within a few days 
after his father's death, his speed and energy in doing which was 
thought extraordinary. There are some, too, who even at this day 
take names from certain casual incidents at their nativity; a child 
that is born when his father is away from home is called Proculus; 

2 Soter, Saviour; Callinicus, Victorious: Physcon, Fat-paunch; Grypus, Hook-nose; 
Euergetes, Benefactor; Philadelphus, Brotherly; Eudzmon, Fortunate; Doson, Going- 
to-give; Lathyrus is not certain. 


or Postumus, if after his decease; and when twins come into the 
world, and one dies at the birth, the survivor has the name of Vopis- 
cus. From bodily peculiarities they derive not only their Syllas and 
Nigers, but their Card and Claudii; wisely endeavoring to accustom 
their people not to reckon either the loss of sight, or any other bodily 
misfortune, as a matter of disgrace to them, but to answer to such 
names without shame, as if they were really their own. But this 
discussion better befits another place. 

The war against the Volscians was no sooner at an end, than the 
popular orators revived domestic troubles, and raised another sedi- 
tion, without any new cause of complaint or just grievance to pro- 
ceed upon, but merely turning the very mischiefs that unavoidably 
ensued from their former contests into a pretext against the patri- 
cians. The greatest part of their arable land had been left unsown 
and without tillage, and the time of war allowing them no means or 
leisure to import provision from other countries, there was an ex- 
treme scarcity. The movers of the people then observing, that there 
was no corn to be bought, and that, if there had been, they had no 
money to buy it, began to calumniate the wealthy with false stories, 
and whisper it about, as if they, out of malice, had purposely con- 
trived the famine. Meanwhile, there came an embassy from the 
Velitrani, proposing to deliver up their city to the Romans, and 
desiring they would send some new inhabitants to people it, as a 
late pestilential disease had swept away so many of the natives, that 
there was hardly a tenth part remaining of their whole community. 
This necessity of the Velitrani was considered by all more prudent 
people as most opportune in the present state of affairs; since the 
dearth made it needful to ease the city of its superfluous members, 
and they were in hope also, at the same time, to dissipate the gather- 
ing sedition by ridding themselves of the more violent and heated 
partisans, and discharging, so to say, the elements of disease and 
disorder in the state. The consuls, therefore, singled out such citizens 
to supply the desolation at Velitra?, and gave notice to others, that 
they should be ready to march against the Volscians, with the politic 
design of preventing intestine broils by employment abroad, and in 
the hope, that when rich as well as poor, plebeians and patricians, 
should be mingled again in the same army and the same camp, and 

158 plutarch's lives 

engage in one common service for the public, it would mutually 
dispose them to reconciliation and friendship. 

But Sicinnius and Brutus, the popular orators, interposed, crying 
out, that the consuls disguised the most cruel and barbarous action 
in the world under that mild and plausible name of a colony, and 
were simply precipitating so many poor citizens into a mere pit of 
destruction, bidding them settle down in a country where the air 
was charged with disease, and the ground covered with dead bodies, 
and expose themselves to the evil influence of a strange and angered 
deity. And then, as if it would not satisfy their hatred to destroy 
some by hunger, and offer others to the mercy of a plague, they must 
proceed to involve them also in a needless war of their own making, 
that no calamity might be wanting to complete the punishment of 
the citizens for refusing to submit to that of slavery to the rich. 

By such addresses, the people were so possessed, that none of 
them would appear upon the consular summons to be enlisted for 
the war; and they showed entire aversion to the proposal for a new 
plantation; so that the senate was at a loss what to say or do. But 
Marcius, who began now to bear himself higher and to feel con- 
fidence in his past actions, conscious, too, of the admiration of the 
best and greatest men of Rome, openly took the lead in opposing 
the favorers of the people. The colony was despatched to Velitrae, 
those that were chosen by lot being compelled to depart upon high 
penalties; and when they obstinately persisted in refusing to enroll 
themselves for the Volscian service, he mustered up his own clients, 
and as many others as could be wrought upon by persuasion, and 
with these made an inroad into the territories of the Antiates, where, 
finding a considerable quantity of corn, and collecting much booty, 
both of cattle and prisoners, he reserved nothing for himself in 
private, but returned safe to Rome, while those that ventured out 
with him were seen laden with pillage, and driving their prey before 
them. This sight filled those that had stayed at home with regret 
for their perverseness, with envy at their fortunate fellow-citizens, 
and with feelings of dislike to Marcius, and hostility to his grow- 
ing reputation and power, which might probably be used against the 
popular interest. 

Not long after he stood for the consulship; when, however, the 


people began to relent and incline to favor him, being sensible what 
a shame it would be to repulse and affront a man of his birth and 
merit, after he had done them so many signal services. It was usual 
for those who stood for offices among them to solicit and address 
themselves personally to the citizens, presenting themselves in the 
forum with the toga on alone, and no tunic under it; either to pro- 
mote their supplications by the humility of their dress, or that such 
as had received wounds might more readily display those marks of 
their fortitude. Certainly, it was not out of suspicion of bribery and 
corruption that they required all such petitioners for their favor to 
appear ungirt and open, without any close garment; as it was much 
later, and many ages after this, that buying and selling crept in at 
their elections, and money became an ingredient in the public suf- 
frages; proceeding thence to attempt their tribunals, and even attack 
their camps, till, by hiring the valiant, and enslaving iron to silver, 
it grew master of the state and turned their commonwealth into a 
monarchy. For it was well and truly said that the first destroyer of 
the liberties of a people is he who first gave them bounties and 
largesses. At Rome the mischief seems to have stolen secretly in, 
and by little and little, not being at once discerned and taken notice 
of. It is not certainly known who the man was that did there first 
either bribe the citizens, or corrupt the courts; whereas, in Athens, 
Anytus, the son of Anthemion, is said to have been the first that 
gave money to the judges, when on his trial, toward the latter end 
of the Peloponnesian war, for letting the fort of Pylos fall into the 
hands of the enemy; in a period while the pure and golden race of 
men were still in possession of the Roman forum. 

Marcius, therefore, as the fashion of candidates was showing the 
scars and gashes that were still visible on his body, from the many 
conflicts in which he had signalized himself during a service of 
seventeen years together they were, so to say, put out of countenance 
at this display of merit, and told one another that they ought in 
common modesty to create him consul. But when the day of elec- 
tion was now come, and Marcius appeared in the forum, with a 
pompous train of senators attending him, and the patricians all 
manifested greater concern, and seemed to be exerting greater efforts 
than they had ever done before on the like occasion, the commons 

160 plutarch's lives 

then fell off again from the kindness they had conceived for him, and 
in the place of their late benevolence, began to feel something of 
indignation and envy; passions assisted by the fear they entertained, 
that if a man of such aristocratic temper, and so influential among 
the patricians, should be invested with the power which that office 
would give him, he might employ it to deprive the people of all 
that liberty which was yet left them. In conclusion, they rejected 
Marcius. Two other names were announced, to the great mortifica- 
tion of the senators, who felt as if the indignity reflected rather upon 
themselves than on Marcius. He, for his part, could not bear the 
affront with any patience. He had always indulged his temper, and 
had regarded the proud and contentious element of human nature as 
a sort of nobleness and magnanimity; reason and discipline had not 
imbued him with that solidity and equanimity which enters so 
largely into the virtues of the statesman. He had never learned how 
essential it is for any one who undertakes public business, and de- 
sires to deal with mankind, to avoid above all things that self-will, 
which, as Plato says, belongs to the family of solitude; and to pur- 
sue, above all things, that capacity so generally ridiculed, of sub- 
mission to ill-treatment. Marcius, straightforward and direct, and 
possessed with the idea that to vanquish and overbear all opposition 
is the true part of bravery, and never imagining that it was the 
weakness and womanishness of his nature that broke out, so to say, 
in these ulcerations of anger, retired, full of fury and bitterness 
against the people. The young patricians, too, all that were proud- 
est and most conscious of their noble birth, had always been devoted 
to his interest, and, adhering to him now, with a fidelity that did 
him no good, aggravated his resentment with the expression of their 
indignation and condolence. He had been their captain, and their 
willing instructor in the arts of war, when out upon expeditions, 
and their model in that true emulation and love of excellence which 
makes men extol, without envy or jealousy, each other's brave 

In the midst of these distempers a large quantity of corn reached 
Rome, a great part bought up in Italy, but an equal amount sent as 
a present from Syracuse, from Gelo, then reigning there. Many 
began now to hope well of their affairs, supposing the city, by this 


means, would be delivered at once, both of its want and discord. 
A council, therefore, being presently held, the people came flocking 
about the senate-house, eagerly awaiting the issue of that delibera- 
tion, expecting that the market-prices would now be less cruel, and 
that what had come as a gift would be distributed as such. There 
were some within who so advised the senate; but Marcius, standing 
up, sharply inveighed against those who spoke in favor of the multi- 
tude, calling them flatterers of the rabble, traitors to the nobility, 
and alleging, that, by such gratifications, they did but cherish those 
ill seeds of boldness and petulance that had been sown among the 
people, to their own prejudice, which they should have done well 
to observe and stifle at their first appearance, and not have suffered 
the plebeians to grow so strong, by granting them magistrates of 
such authority as the tribunes. They were, indeed, even now formid- 
able to the state, since every thing they desired was granted them; 
no constraint was put on their will; they refused obedience to the 
consuls, and, overthrowing all law and magistracy, gave the title of 
magistrate to their private factious leaders. "When things are come 
to such a pass, for us to sit here and decree largesses and bounties 
for them, like those Greeks where the populace is supreme and abso- 
lute, what would it be else," said he, "but to take their disobedience 
into pay, and maintain it for the common ruin of us all ? They cer- 
tainly cannot look upon these liberalities as a reward of public 
service, which they know they have so often deserted; nor yet of 
those secessions, by which they openly renounced their country; 
much less of the calumnies and slanders they have been always so 
ready to entertain against the senate; but will rather conclude that 
a bounty which seems to have no other visible cause or reason, must 
needs be the effect of our fear and flattery; and will, therefore, set 
no limit to their disobedience, nor ever cease from disturbances and 
sedition. Concession is mere madness; if we have any wisdom and 
resolution at all, we shall, on the contrary, never rest till we have 
recovered from them that tribunician power they have extorted from 
us; as being a plain subversion of the consulship, and a perpetual 
ground of separation in our city, that is no longer one, as heretofore, 
but has in this received such a wound and rupture, as is never likely 
to close and unite again, or suffer us to be of one mind, and to give 

1 62 plutarch's lives 

over inflaming our distempers, and being a torment to each other." 
Marcius, with much more to this purpose, succeeded, to an 
extraordinary degree, in inspiring the younger men with the same 
furious sentiments, and had almost all the wealthy on his side, who 
cried him up as the only person their city had, superior alike to 
force and flattery; some of the older men, however, opposed him, 
suspecting the consequences. As, indeed, there came no good of it; 
for the tribunes, who were present, perceiving how the proposal of 
Marcius took, ran out into the crowd with exclamations, calling on 
the plebeians to stand together, and come in to their assistance. The 
assembly met and soon became tumultuous. The sum of what 
Marcius had spoken, having been reported to the people, excited 
them to such fury, that they were ready to break in upon the 
senate. The tribunes prevented this, by laying all the blame on 
Coriolanus, whom, therefore, they cited by their messengers to 
come before them, and defend himself. And when he contemptu- 
ously repulsed the officers who brought him the summons, they came 
themselves, with the ^Ediles, or overseers of the market, proposing 
to carry him away by force, and, accordingly, began to lay hold on 
his person. The patricians, however, coming to his rescue, not only 
thrust off the tribunes, but also beat the iEdiles, that were their sec- 
onds in the quarrel; night, approaching, put an end to the contest. 
But as soon as it was day, the consuls, observing the people to be 
highly exasperated, and that they ran from all quarters and gathered 
in the forum, were afraid for the whole city, so that, convening the 
senate afresh, they desired them to advise how they might best com- 
pose and pacify the incensed multitude by equitable language and 
indulgent decrees; since, if they wisely considered the state of 
things, they would find that it was no time to stand upon terms of 
honor, and a mere point of glory; such a critical conjuncture called 
for gentle methods, and for temperate and humane counsels. The 
majority, therefore, of the senators giving way, the consuls proceeded 
to pacify the people in the best manner they were able, answering 
gently to such imputations and charges as had been cast upon the 
senate, and using much tenderness and moderation in the admoni- 
tions and reproofs they gave them. On the point of the price of 
provisions, they said, there should be no difference at all between 


them. When a great part of the commonalty was grown cool, and 
it appeared from their orderly and peaceful behavior that they had 
been very much appeased by what they had heard, the tribunes, 
standing up, declared, in the name of the people, that since the senate 
was pleased to act soberly and do them reason, they, likewise, should 
be ready to yield in all that was fair and equitable on their side; 
they must insist, however, that Marcius should give in his answer 
to the several charges as follows: first, could he deny that he insti- 
gated the senate to overthrow the government and annul the privi- 
leges of the people? and, in the next place, when called to account 
for it, did he not disobey their summons? and, lastly, by the blows 
and other public affronts to the jEdiles, had he not done all he 
could to commence a civil war? 

These articles were brought in against him, with a design either 
to humble Marcius, and show his submission, if, contrary to his 
nature, he should now court and sue the people; or, if he should 
follow his natural disposition, which they rather expected from their 
judgment of his character, then that he might thus make the breach 
final between himself and the people. 

He came, therefore, as it were, to make his apology, and clear 
himself; in which belief the people kept silence, and gave him a 
quiet hearing. But when, instead of the submissive and deprecatory 
language expected from him, he began to use not only an offensive 
kind of freedom, seeming rather to accuse than apologize, but, as 
well by the tone of his voice as the air of his countenance, displayed 
a security that was not far from disdain and contempt of them, the 
whole multitude then became angry, and gave evident signs of 
impatience and disgust; and Sicinnius, the most violent of the trib- 
unes, after a little private conference with his colleagues, proceeded 
solemnly to pronounce before them all, that Marcius was condemned 
to die by the tribunes of the people, and bid the iEdiles take him to 
the Tarpeian rock, and without delay throw him headlong from the 
precipice. When they, however, in compliance with the order, came 
to seize upon his body, many, even of the plebeian party, felt it to 
be a horrible and extravagant act; the patricians, meantime, wholly 
beside themselves with distress and horror, hurried up with cries 
to the rescue; and while some made actual use of their hands to 

164 plutarch's lives 

hinder the arrest, and,surrounding Marcius, got him in among them, 
others, as in so great a tumult no good could be done by words, 
stretched out theirs, beseeching the multitude that they would not 
proceed to such furious extremities; and at length, the friends and 
acquaintance of the tribunes, wisely perceiving how impossible it 
would be to carry off Marcius to punishment without much blood- 
shed and slaughter of the nobility, persuaded them to forbear every 
thing unusual and odious; not to despatch him by any sudden vio- 
lence, or without regular process, but refer the cause to the general 
suffrage of the people. Sicinnius then, after a little pause, turning 
to the patricians, demanded what their meaning was, thus forcibly 
to rescue Marcius out of the people's hands, as they were going to 
punish him; when it was replied by them, on the other side, and 
the question put, "Rather, how came it into your minds, and what 
is it you design, thus to drag one of the worthiest men of Rome, 
without trial, to a barbarous and illegal execution?" "Very well," 
said Sicinnius, "you shall have no ground in this respect for quarrel 
or complaint against the people. The people grant your request, and 
your partisan shall be tried. We appoint you, Marcius," directing 
his speech to him, "the third market-day ensuing, to appear and 
defend yourself, and to try if you can satisfy the Roman citizens of 
your innocence, who will then judge your case by vote." The patri- 
cians were content with such a truce and respite for that time, and 
gladly returned home, having for the present brought off Marcius 
in safety. 

During the interval before the appointed time (for the Romans 
hold their sessions every ninth day, which from that cause are called 
nundince in Latin), a war fell out with the Antiates, likely to be of 
some continuance, which gave them hope they might one way or 
other elude the judgment. The people, they presumed, would be- 
come tractable, and their indignation lessen and languish by degrees 
in so long a space, if occupation and war did not wholly put it out 
of their mind. But when, contrary to expectation, they made a 
speedy agreement with the people of Antium, and the army came 
back to Rome, the patricians were again in great perplexity, and 
had frequent meetings to consider how things might be arranged, 
without either abandoning Marcius, or yet giving occasion to the 


popular orators to create new disorders. Appius Claudius, whom 
they counted among the senators most averse to the popular interest, 
made a solemn declaration, and told them beforehand, that the 
senate would utterly destroy itself and betray the government, if 
they should once suffer the people to assume the authority of pro- 
nouncing sentence upon any of the patricians; but the oldest sen- 
ators and most favorable to the people maintained, on the other side, 
that the people would not be so harsh and severe upon them, as 
some were pleased to imagine, but rather become more gentle and 
humane upon the concession of that power, since it was not con- 
tempt of the senate, but the impression of being contemned by it, 
which made them pretend to such a prerogative. Let that be once 
allowed them as a mark of respect and kind feeling, and the mere 
possession of this power of voting would at once dispossess them of 
their animosity. 

When, therefore, Marcius saw that the senate was in pain and 
suspense upon his account, divided, as it were, betwixt their kind- 
ness for him and their apprehensions from the people, he desired 
to know of the tribunes what the crimes were they intended to 
charge him with, and what the heads of the indictment they would 
oblige him to plead to before the people; and being told by them 
that he was to be impeached for attempting usurpation, and that 
they would prove him guilty of designing to establish arbitrary gov- 
ernment, stepping forth upon this, "Let me go then," he said, "to 
clear myself from that imputation before an assembly of them; I 
freely offer myself to any sort of trial, nor do I refuse any kind of 
punishment whatsoever; only," he continued, "let what you now 
mention be really made my accusation, and do not you play false 
with the senate." On their consenting to these terms, he came to his 
trial. But when the people met together, the tribunes, contrary to 
all former practice, extorted first, that votes should be taken, not by 
centuries, but tribes; a change, by which the indigent and factious 
rabble, that had no respect for honesty and justice, would be sure 
to carry it against those who were rich and well known, and accus- 
tomed to serve the state in war. In the next place, whereas they had 
engaged to prosecute Marcius upon no other head but that of 
tyranny, which could never be made out against him, they relin- 

1 66 plutarch's lives 

quished this plea, and urged instead, his language in the senate 
against an abatement of the price of corn, and for the overthrow 
of the tribunician power; adding further, as a new impeachment 
the distribution that was made by him of the spoil and booty he had 
taken from the Antiates, when he overran their country, which he 
had divided among those that had followed him, whereas it ought 
rather to have been brought into the public treasury; which last 
accusation did, they say, more discompose Marcius than all the rest, 
as he had not anticipated he should ever be questioned on that sub- 
ject, and, therefore, was less provided with any satisfactory answer 
to it on the sudden. And when, by way of excuse, he began to mag- 
nify the merits of those who had been partakers with him in the 
action, those that had stayed at home, being more numerous than 
the other, interrupted him with outcries. In conclusion, when they 
came to vote, a majority of three tribes condemned him; the penalty 
being perpetual banishment. The sentence of his condemnation 
being pronounced, the people went away with greater triumph and 
exultation than they had ever shown for any victory over enemies; 
while the senate was in grief and deep dejection, repenting now 
and vexed to the soul that they had not done and suffered all things 
rather than give way to the insolence of the people, and permit them 
to assume and abuse so great an authority. There was no need 
then to look at men's dresses, or other marks of distinction,to know 
one from another: any one who was glad was, beyond all doubt, a 
plebeian; any one who looked sorrowful, a patrician. 

Marcius alone, himself, was neither stunned nor humiliated. In 
mien, carriage, and countenance, he bore the appearance of entire 
composure, and while all his friends were full of distress, seemed 
the only man that was not touched with his misfortune. Not that 
either reflection taught him, or gentleness of temper made it natural 
for him, to submit: he was wholly possessed, on the contrary, with 
a profound and deep-seated fury, which passes with many for no 
pain at all. And pain, it is true, transmuted, so to say, by its own 
fiery heat into anger, loses every appearance of depression and feeble- 
ness; the angry man makes a show of energy, as the man in a high 
fever does of natural heat, while, in fact, all this action of the soul 
is but mere diseased palpitation, distention, and inflammation. That 


such was his distempered state appeared presently plainly enough 
in his actions. On his return home, after saluting his mother and 
his wife, who were all in tears and full of loud lamentations, and 
exhorting them to moderate the sense they had of his calamity, he 
proceeded at once to the city gates, whither all the nobility came to 
attend him; and so, not so much as taking any thing with him, or 
making any request to the company, he departed from them, having 
only three or four clients with him. He continued solitary for a few 
days in a place in the country, distracted with a variety of counsels, 
such as rage and indignation suggested to him; and proposing to 
himself no honorable or useful end, but only how he might best 
satisfy his revenge on the Romans, he resolved at length to raise up 
a heavy war against them from their nearest neighbors. He deter- 
mined, first to make trial of the Volscians, whom he knew to be still 
vigorous and flourishing, both in men and treasure, and he imagined 
their force and power was not so much abated, as their spite and 
anger increased, by the late overthrows they had received from the 

There was a man of Antium, called Tullus Aufidius, who, for 
his wealth and bravery and the splendor of his family, had the 
respect and privilege of a king among the Volscians, but whom 
Marcius knew to have a particular hostility to himself, above all 
other Romans. Frequent menaces and challenges had passed in 
battle between them, and those exchanges of defiance to which their 
hot and eager emulation is apt to prompt young soldiers had added 
private animosity to their national feelings of opposition. Yet for all 
this, considering Tullus to have a certain generosity of temper, and 
knowing that no Volscian, so much as he, desired an occasion to 
requite upon the Romans the evils they had done, he did what 
much confirms the saying, that 

"Hard and unequal is with wrath the strife, 
Which makes us buy its pleasure with our life." 

Putting on such a dress as would make him appear to any whom he 
might meet most unlike what he really was, thus, like Ulysses, — 

"The town he entered of his mortal foes." 

1 68 plutarch's lives 

His arrival at Antium was about evening, and though several met 
him in the streets, yet he passed along without being known to any, 
and went directly to the house of Tullus, and, entering undiscovered, 
went up to the fire-hearth, and seated himself there without speak- 
ing a word, covering up his head. Those of the family could not 
but wonder, and yet they were afraid either to raise or question 
him, for there was a certain air of majesty both in his posture and 
silence, but they recounted to Tullus, being then at supper, the 
strangeness of this accident. He immediately rose from table and 
came in, and asked him who he was, and for what business he came 
thither; and then Marcius, unmuffling himself, and pausing awhile, 
"If," said he, "you cannot yet call me to mind, Tullus, or do not 
believe your eyes concerning me, I must of necessity be my own 
accuser. I am Caius Marcius, the author of so much mischief to 
the Volscians; of which, were I seeking to deny it, the surname of 
Coriolanus I now bear would be sufficient evidence against me. 
The one recompense I received for all the hardships and perils I 
have gone through, was the title that proclaims my enmity to your 
nation, and this is the only thing which is still left me. Of all other 
advantages, I have been stripped and deprived by the envy and out- 
rage of the Roman people, and the cowardice and treachery of the 
magistrates and those of my own order. I am driven out as an exile, 
and become an humble suppliant at your hearth, not so much for 
safety and protection (should I have come hither, had I been afraid 
to die?), as to seek vengeance against those that expelled me; which, 
methinks, I have already obtained, by putting myself into your 
hands. If, therefore, you have really a mind to attack your enemies, 
come then, make use of that affliction you see me in to assist the 
enterprise, and convert my personal infelicity into a common bless- 
ing to the Volscians; as, indeed, I am likely to be more serviceable 
in fighting for than against you, with the advantage, which I now 
possess, of knowing all the secrets of the enemy that I am attacking. 
But if you decline to make any further attempts, I am neither de- 
sirous to live myself, nor will it be well in you to preserve a person 
who has been your rival and adversary of old, and now, when he 
offers you his service, appears unprofitable and useless to you." 
Tullus on hearing this, was extremely rejoiced, and giving him his 


right hand, exclaimed, "Rise, Marcius, and be of good courage; it 
is a great happiness you bring to Antium, in the present you make 
us of yourself; expect every thing that is good from the Volscians." 
He then proceeded to feast and entertain him with every display 
of kindness, and for several days after they were in close delibera- 
tion together on the prospects of a war. 

While this design was forming, there were great troubles and 
commotions at Rome, from the animosity of the senators against the 
people, heightened just now by the late condemnation of Marcius. 
Besides that, their soothsayers and priests, and even private persons, 
reported signs and prodigies not to be neglected; one of which is 
stated to have occurred as follows: Titus Latinus, 5 a man of ordi- 
nary condition, but of a quiet and virtuous character, free from all 
superstitious fancies, and yet more from vanity and exaggeration, 
had an apparition in his sleep, as if Jupiter came and bade him tell 
the senate, that it was with a bad and unacceptable dancer that they 
had headed his procession. Having beheld the vision, he said, he 
did not much attend to it at the first appearance; but after he had 
seen and slighted it a second and third time, he had lost a hopeful 
son, and was himself struck with a palsy. He was brought into the 
senate on a litter to tell this, and the story goes, that he had no 
sooner delivered his message there, but he at once felt his strength 
return, and got upon his legs, and went home alone, without need 
of any support. The senators, in wonder and surprise, made a 
diligent search into the matter. That which his dream alluded to 
was this: some citizen had, for some heinous offence, given up a 
servant of his to the rest of his fellows, with charge to whip him 
first through the market, and then to kill him; and while they were 
executing this command, and scourging the wretch, who screwed 
and turned himself into all manner of shapes and unseemly mo- 
tions, through the pain he was in, the solemn procession in honor of 
Jupiter chanced to follow at their heels. Several of the attendants 
on which were, indeed, scandalized at the sight, yet no one of them 
interfered, or acted further in the matter than merely to utter some 
common reproaches and execrations on a master who inflicted so 

3 The correct name is probably Titus Latinius, for which Tiberius Atinius, in Livy, 
is merely a misreading. 


cruel a punishment. For the Romans treated their slaves with great 
humanity in these times, when, working and laboring themselves 
and living together among them they naturally were more gentle 
and familiar with them. It was one of the severest punishments for 
a slave who had committed a fault, to have to take the piece of 
wood which supports the pole of a wagon, and carry it about 
through the neighborhood; a slave who had once undergone the 
shame of this, and been thus seen by the household and the neigh- 
bors, had no longer any trust or credit among them, and had the 
name of furcifer; furca being the Latin word for a prop, or support. 
When, therefore, Latinus had related his dream, and the senators 
were considering who this disagreeable and ungainly dancer could 
be, some of the company, having been struck with the strangeness 
of the punishment, called to mind and mentioned the miserable 
slave who was lashed through the streets and afterward put to death. 
The priests, when consulted confirmed the conjecture; the master 
was punished; and orders given for a new celebration of the pro- 
cession and the spectacles in honor of the god. Numa, in other 
respects also a wise arranger of religious offices, would seem to have 
been especially judicious in his direction, with a view to the attentive- 
ness of the people, that, when the magistrates or priests performed 
any divine worship, a herald should go before, and proclaim with 
a loud voice, Hoc age. Do this you are about, and so warn them to 
mind whatever sacred action they were engaged in, and not suffer 
any business or worldly avocation to disturb and interrupt it; most 
of the things which men do of this kind, being in a manner forced 
from them, and effected by constraint. It is usual with the Romans 
to recommence their sacrifices and processions and spectacles, not 
only upon such a cause as this, but for any slighter reason. If but 
one of the horses which drew the chariots called Tensx, upon which 
the images of their gods were placed, happened to fail and falter, 
or if the driver took hold of the reins with his left hand, they would 
decree that the whole operation should commence anew; and, in 
latter ages, one and the same sacrifice was performed thirty times 
over, because of the occurrence of some defect or mistake or accident 
in the service. Such was the Roman reverence and caution in 
religious matters. 


Marcius and Tullus were now secretly discoursing of their project 
with the chief men of Antium, advising them to invade the Romans 
while they were at variance among themselves. And when shame 
appeared to hinder them from embracing the motion, as they had 
sworn to a truce and cessation of arms for the space of two years, 
the Romans themselves soon furnished them with a pretence, by 
making proclamation, out of some jealousy or slanderous report, in 
the midst of the spectacles, that all the Volscians who had come to 
see them should depart the city before sunset. Some affirm that 
this was a contrivance of Marcius, who sent a man privately to the 
consuls, falsely to accuse the Volscians of intending to fall upon 
the Romans during the games, and to set the city on fire. This 
public affront roused and inflamed their hostility to the Romans; 
and Tullus, perceiving it, made his advantage of it, aggravating the 
fact, and working on their indignation, till he persuaded them, at 
last, to despatch ambassadors to Rome, requiring the Romans to 
restore that part of their country and those towns which they had 
taken from the Volscians in the late war. When the Romans heard 
the message, they indignantly replied, that the Volscians were the 
first that took up arms, but the Romans would be the last to lay 
them down. This answer being brought back, Tullus called a gen- 
eral assembly of the Volscians; and the vote passing for a war, he 
then proposed that they should call in Marcius, laying aside the 
remembrance of former grudges, and assuring themselves that the 
services they should now receive from him as a friend and associate, 
would abundantly outweigh any harm or damage he had done them 
when he was their enemy. Marcius was accordingly summoned, 
and having made his entrance, and spoken to the people, won their 
good opinion of his capacity, his skill, counsel, and boldness, not less 
by his present words than by his past actions. They joined him in 
commission with Tullus, to have full power as general of their 
forces in all that related to the war. And he, fearing lest the time 
that would be requisite to bring all the Volscians together in full 
preparation might be so long as to lose him the opportunity of 
action, left order with the chief persons and magistrates of the city 
to provide other things, while he himself, prevailing upon the most 
forward to assemble and march out with him as volunteers 


without staying to be enrolled, made a sudden inroad into the 
Roman confines, when nobody expected him, and possessed himself 
of so much booty, that the Volscians found they had more than 
they could either carry away or use in the camp. The abundance of 
provision which he gained, and the waste and havoc of the country 
which he made, were, however, of themselves and in his account, the 
smallest results of that invasion; the great mischief he intended, and 
his special object in all, was to increase at Rome the suspicions enter- 
tained of the patricians, and to make them upon worse terms with 
the people. With this view, while spoiling all the fields and destroy- 
ing the property of other men, he took special care to preserve their 
farms and lands untouched, and would not allow his soldiers to 
ravage there, or seize upon any thing which belonged to them. 
From hence their invectives and quarrels against one another broke 
out afresh, and rose to a greater height than ever; the senators re- 
proaching those of the commonalty with their late injustice to Mar- 
cius; while the plebeians, on their side, did not hesitate to accuse 
them of having, out of spite and revenge, solicited him to this enter- 
prise, and thus, when others were involved in the miseries of a war 
by their means, they sat like unconcerned spectators, as being fur- 
nished with a guardian and protector abroad of their wealth and 
fortunes, in the very person of the public enemy. After this incur- 
sion and exploit, which was of great advantage to the Volscians, as 
they learned by it to grow more hardy and to contemn their enemy, 
Marcius drew them off, and returned in safety. 

But when the whole strength of the Volscians was brought to- 
gether into the field, with great expedition and alacrity, it appeared 
so considerable a body, that they agreed to leave part in garrison, 
for the security of their towns, and with the other part to march 
against the Romans. Marcius now desired Tullus to choose which 
of the two charges would be most agreeable to him. Tullus an- 
swered, that since he knew Marcius to be equally valiant with him- 
self, and far more fortunate, he would have him take the command 
of those that were going out to the war, while he made it his care 
to defend their cities at home, and provide all conveniences for the 
army abroad. Marcius thus reinforced, and much stronger than 
before, moved first towards the city called Circaeum, a Roman 


colony. He received its surrender, and did the inhabitants no injury; 
passing thence, he entered and laid waste the country of the Latins, 
where he expected the Romans would meet him, as the Latins were 
their confederates and allies, and had often sent to demand succors 
from them. The people, however, on their part, showing little incli- 
nation for the service, and the consuls themselves being unwilling 
to run the hazard of a battle, when the time of their office was almost 
ready to expire, they dismissed the Latin ambassadors without any 
effect; so that Marcius, finding no army to oppose him, marched 
up to their cities, and, having taken by force Toleria, Lavici, Peda, 
and Bola, all of which offered resistance, not only plundered their 
houses, but made a prey likewise of their persons. Meantime, he 
showed particular regard for all such as came over to his party, and, 
for fear they might sustain any damage against his will, encamped 
at the greatest distance he could, and wholly abstained from the 
lands of their property. 

After, however, that he had made himself master of Bola, a town 
not above ten miles from Rome, where he found great treasure, and 
put almost all the adults to the sword; and when, on this, the other 
Volscians that were ordered to stay behind and protect their cities, 
hearing of his achievements and success, had not patience to remain 
any longer at home, but came hastening in their arms to Marcius, 
saying that he alone was their general and the sole commander they 
would own; with all this, his name and renown spread throughout 
all Italy, and universal wonder prevailed at the sudden and mighty 
revolution in the fortunes of two nations which the loss and the 
accession of a single man had effected. 

All at Rome was in great disorder; they were utterly averse from 
fighting, and spent their whole time in cabals and disputes and 
reproaches against each other; until news was brought that the 
enemy had laid close siege to Lavinium, where were the images and 
sacred things of their tutelar gods, and from whence they derived 
the origin of their nation, that being the first city which .<Eneas 
built in Italy. These tidings produced a change as universal as it 
was extraordinary in the thoughts and inclinations of the people, 
but occasioned a yet stranger revulsion of feeling among the patri- 
cians. The people now were for repealing the sentence against 


Marcius, and calling him back into the city; whereas the senate, 
being assembled to preconsider the decree, opposed and finally re- 
jected the proposal, either out of the mere humor of contradicting 
and withstanding the people in whatever they should desire, or 
because they were unwilling, perhaps, that he should owe his resto- 
ration to their kindness; or having now conceived a displeasure 
against Marcius himself, who was bringing distress upon all alike, 
though he had not been ill treated by all, and was become a declared 
enemy to his whole country, though he knew well enough that the 
principal and all the better men condoled with him, and suffered 
in his injuries. 

This resolution of theirs being made public, the people could 
proceed no further, having no authority to pass any thing by suf- 
frage, and enact it for a law, without a previous decree from the 
senate. When Marcius heard of this, he was more exasperated than 
ever, and, quitting the siege of Lavinium, marched furiously towards 
Rome, and encamped at a place called the Cluilian ditches, about 
five miles from the city. The nearness of his approach did, indeed, 
create much terror and disturbance, yet it also ended their dissen- 
sions for the present; as nobody now, whether consul or senator, 
durst any longer contradict the people in their design of recalling 
Marcius; but, seeing their women running affrighted up and down 
the streets, and the old men at prayer in every temple with tears and 
supplications, and that, in short, there was a general absence among 
them both of courage and wisdom to provide for their own safety, 
they came at last to be all of one mind, that the people had been 
in the right to propose as they did a reconciliation with Marcius, 
and that the senate was guilty of a fatal error to begin a quarrel 
with him when it was a time to forget offences, and they should 
have studied rather to appease him. It was therefore, unanimously 
agreed by all parties, that ambassadors should be despatched, offer- 
ing him return to his country, and desiring he would free them from 
the terrors and distresses of the war. The persons sent by the senate 
with this message were chosen out of his kindred and acquaintance, 
who naturally expected a very kind reception at their first interview, 
upon the score of that relation and their old familiarity and friend- 
ship with him; in which, however, they were much mistaken. Being 


led through the enemy's camp, they found him sitting in state 
amidst the chief men of the Volscians, looking insupportably proud 
and arrogant. He bade them declare the cause of their coming, 
which they did in the most gentle and tender terms, and with a 
behavior suitable to their language. When they had made an end 
of speaking, he returned them a sharp answer, full of bitterness and 
angry resentment, as to what concerned himself, and the ill usage 
he had received from them; but as general of the Volscians, he 
demanded restitution of the cities and the lands which had been 
seized upon during the late war, and that the same rights and 
franchises should be granted them at Rome, which had been before 
accorded to the Latins; since there could be no assurance that a 
peace would be firm and lasting, without fair and just conditions on 
both sides. He allowed them thirty days to consider and resolve. 
The ambassadors being departed, he withdrew his forces out of 
the Roman territory. This, those of the Volscians who had long 
envied his reputation, and could not endure to see the influence he 
had with the people, laid hold of, as the first matter of complaint 
against him. Among them was also Tullus himself, not for any 
wrong done him personally by Marcius, but through the weakness 
incident to human nature. He could not help feeling mortified to 
find his own glory thus totally obscured, and himself overlooked 
and neglected now by the Volscians, who had so great an opinion 
of their new leader, that he alone was all to them, while other cap- 
tains, they thought, should be content with that share of power, 
which he might think fit to accord. From hence the first seeds of 
complaint and accusation were scattered about in secret, and the 
malcontents met and heightened each other's indignation, saying, 
that to retreat as he did, was in effect to betray and deliver up, 
though not their cities and arms, yet what was as bad, the critical 
times and opportunities for action, on which depend the preserva- 
tion or the loss of every thing else; since in less than thirty days' 
space, for which he had given a respite from the war, there might 
happen the greatest changes in the world. Yet Marcius spent not 
any part of the time idly, but attacked the confederates of the enemy, 
ravaged their land, and took from them seven great and populous 
cities in that interval. The Romans, in the meanwhile, durst not 

176 plutarch's lives 

venture out to their relief; but were utterly fearful, and showed no 
more disposition or capacity for action, than if their bodies had been 
struck with a palsy, and become destitute of sense and motion. But 
when the thirty days were expired, and Marcius appeared again 
with his whole army, they sent another embassy to beseech him 
that he would moderate his displeasure, and would withdraw the 
Volscian army, and then make any proposals he thought best for 
both parties; the Romans would make no concessions to menaces, 
but if it were his opinion that the Volscians ought to have any favor 
shown them, upon laying down their arms they might obtain all 
they could in reason desire. 

The reply of Marcius was, that he should make no answer to this 
as general of the Volscians, but, in the quality still of a Roman 
citizen, he would advise and exhort them, as the case stood, not to 
carry it so high, but think rather of just compliance, and return to 
him, before three days were at an end, with a ratification of his 
previous demands; otherwise, they must understand that they 
could not have any further freedom of passing through his camp 
upon idle errands. 

When the ambassadors were come back, and had acquainted the 
senate with the answer, seeing the whole state now threatened as it 
were by a tempest, and the waves ready to overwhelm them, they 
were forced, as we say in extreme perils, to let down the sacred 
anchor. A decree was made, that the whole order of their priests, 
those who initiated in the mysteries or had the custody of them, 
and those who, according to the ancient practice of the country, 
divined from birds, should all and every one of them go in full pro- 
cession to Marcius with their pontifical array, and the dress and 
habit which they respectively used in their several functions, and 
should urge him, as before, to withdraw his forces, and then treat 
with his countrymen in favor of the Volscians. He consented so 
far, indeed, as to give the deputation an admittance into his camp, 
but granted nothing at all, nor so much as expressed himself more 
mildly; but, without capitulating or receding, bade them once for 
all choose whether they would yield or fight, since the old terms 
were the only terms of peace. When this solemn application proved 
ineffectual, the priests, too, returning unsuccessful, they determined 


to sit still within the city, and keep watch about their walls, intend- 
ing only to repulse the enemy, should he offer to attack them, and 
placing their hopes chiefly in time and in extraordinary accidents 
of fortune; as to themselves, they felt incapable of doing any thing 
for their own deliverance; mere confusion and terror and ill-boding 
reports possessed the whole city; till at last a thing happened not 
unlike what we so often find represented, without, however, being 
accepted as true by people in general, in Homer. On some great 
and unusual occasion we find him say: — 

"But him the blue-eyed goddess did inspire;" 
and elsewhere: — 

"But some immortal turned my mind away, 
To think what others of the deed would say;" 

and again: — 

"Were 't his own thought or were 't a god's command." 

People are apt, in such passages, to censure and disregard the poet, 
as if, by the introduction of mere impossibilities and idle fictions, 
he were denying the action of a man's own deliberate thought and 
free choice; which is not, in the least, the case in Homer's repre- 
sentation, where the ordinary, probable, and habitual conclusions 
that common reason leads to are continually ascribed to our own 
direct agency. He certainly says frequently enough: — 

"But I consulted with my own great soul;" 
or, as in another passage: — 

"He spoke. Achilles, with quick pain possessed, 
Revolved two purposes in his strong breast;" 

and in a third: — 

" — Yet never to her wishes won 
The just mind of the brave Bellerophon." 

But where the act is something out of the way and extraordinary, 
and seems in a manner to demand some impulse of divine posses- 
sion and sudden inspiration to account for it, here he does intro- 
duce divine agency, not to destroy, but to prompt the human will; 

178 plutarch's lives 

not to create in us another agency, but offering images to stimulate 
our own; images that in no sort or kind make our action involun- 
tary, but give occasion rather to spontaneous action, aided and sus- 
tained by feelings of confidence and hope. For either we must 
totally dismiss and exclude divine influences from every kind of 
causality and origination in what we do, or else what other way can 
we conceive in which divine aid and cooperation can act? Certainly 
we cannot suppose that the divine beings actually and literally turn 
our bodies and direct our hands and our feet this way or that, to 
do what is right: it is obvious that they must actuate the practical 
and elective element of our nature, by certain initial occasions, by 
images presented to the imagination, and thoughts suggested to the 
mind, such either as to excite it to, or avert and withhold it from, 
any particular course. 

In the perplexity which I have described, the Roman women 
went, some to other temples, but the greater part, and the ladies 
of highest rank, to the altar of Jupiter Capitolinus. Among these 
suppliants was Valeria, sister to the great Poplicola, who did the 
Romans eminent service both in peace and war. Poplicola himself 
was now deceased, as is told in the history of his life; but Valeria 
lived still, and enjoyed great respect and honor at Rome, her life 
and conduct no way disparaging her birth. She, suddenly seized 
with the sort of instinct or emotion of mind which I have described, 
and happily lighting, not without divine guidance, on the right 
expedient, both rose herself, and bade the others rise, and went 
directly with them to the house of Volumnia, the mother of Marcius. 
And coming in and finding her sitting with her daughter-in-law, 
and with her little grandchildren on her lap, Valeria, then sur- 
rounded by her female companions, spoke in the name of them all: — 

"We that now make our appearance, O Volumnia, and you, 
Vergilia, are come as mere women to women, not by direction of 
the senate, or an order from the consuls, or the appointment of any 
other magistrate; but the divine being himself, as I conceive, moved 
to compassion by our prayers, prompted us to visit you in a body, 
and request a thing on which our own and the common safety de- 
pends, and which, if you consent to it, will raise your glory above 
that of the daughters of the Sabines, who won over their fathers 


and their husbands from mortal enmity to peace and friendship. 
Arise and come with us to Marcius; join in our supplication, and 
bear for your country this true and just testimony on her behalf: 
that notwithstanding the many mischiefs that have been done her, 
yet she has never outraged you, nor so much as thought of treating 
you ill, in all her resentment, but does now restore you safe into his 
hands, though there be small likelihood she should obtain from him 
any equitable terms." 

The words of Valeria were seconded by the acclamations of the 
other women, to which Volumnia made answer: — 

"I and Vergilia, my countrywomen, have an equal share with you 
all in the common miseries, and we have the additional sorrow, 
which is wholly ours, that we have lost the merit and good fame of 
Marcius, and see his person confined, rather than protected, by the 
arms of the enemy. Yet I account this the greatest of all misfortunes, 
if indeed the affairs of Rome be sunk to so feeble a state as to have 
their last dependence upon us. For it is hardly imaginable he should 
have any consideration left for us, when he has no regard for the 
country which he was wont to prefer before his mother and wife 
and children. Make use, however, of our service; and lead us, if 
you please, to him; we are able, if nothing more, at least to spend 
our last breath in making suit to him for our country." 

Having spoken thus, she took Vergilia by the hand, and the 
young children, and so accompanied them to the Volscian camp. 
So lamentable a sight much affected the enemies themselves, who 
viewed them in respectful silence. Marcius was then sitting in his 
place, with his chief officers about him, and, seeing the party of 
women advance toward him, wondered what should be the matter; 
but perceiving at length that his mother was at the head of them, 
he would fain have hardened himself in his former inexorable 
temper, but, overcome by his feelings, and confounded at what he 
saw, he did not endure they should approach him sitting in state, 
but came down hastily to meet them, saluting his mother first, and 
embracing her a long time, and then his wife and children, sparing 
neither tears nor caresses, but suffering himself to be borne away 
and carried headlong, as it were, by the impetuous violence of his 

180 plutarch's lives 

When he had satisfied himself, and observed that his mother 
Volumnia was desirous to say something, the Volscian council being 
first called in, he heard her to the following effect: "Our dress and 
our very persons, my son, might tell you, though we should say 
nothing ourselves, in how forlorn a condition we have lived at home 
since your banishment and absence from us; and now consider with 
yourself, whether we may not pass for the most unfortunate of all 
women, to have that sight, which should be the sweetest that we 
could see, converted, through I know not what fatality, to one of 
all others the most formidable and dreadful, — Volumnia to behold 
her son, and Vergilia her husband, in arms against the walls of 
Rome. Even prayer itself, whence others gain comfort and relief 
in all manner of misfortunes, is that which most adds to our con- 
fusion and distress; since our best wishes are inconsistent with 
themselves, nor can we at the same time petition the gods for 
Rome's victory and your preservation, but what the worst of our 
enemies would imprecate as a curse, is the very object of our vows. 
Your wife and children are under the sad necessity, that they must 
either be deprived of you, or of their native soil. As for myself, I 
am resolved not to wait till war shall determine this alternative for 
me; but if I cannot prevail with you to prefer amity and concord to 
quarrel and hostility, and to be the benefactor to both parties, rather 
than the destroyer of one of them, be assured of this from me, and 
reckon steadfastly upon it, that you shall not be able to reach your 
country, unless you trample first upon the corpse of her that brought 
you into life. For it will be ill in me to wait and loiter in the world 
till the day come wherein I shall see a child of mine, either led in 
triumph by his own countrymen, or triumphing over them. Did I 
require you to save your country by ruining the Volscians, then, I 
confess, my son, the case would be hard for you to solve. It is base 
to bring destitution on our fellow-citizens; it is unjust to betray those 
who have placed their confidence in us. But, as it is, we do but 
desire a deliverance equally expedient for them and us: only more 
glorious and honorable on the Volscian side, who as superior in 
arms, will be thought freely to bestow the two greatest of blessings, 
peace and friendship, even when they themselves receive the same. 
If we obtain these, the common thanks will be chiefly due to you 


as the principal cause; but if they be not granted, you alone must 
expect to bear the blame from both nations. The chance of all war 
is uncertain, yet thus much is certain in the present, that you, by 
conquering Rome, will only get the reputation of having undone 
your country; but if the Volscians happen to be defeated under your 
conduct, then the world will say, that, to satisfy a revengeful humor, 
you brought misery on your friends and patrons." 

Marcius listened to his mother while she spoke, without answer- 
ing her a word; and Volumnia, seeing him stand mute also for a 
long time after she had ceased, resumed: "O my son," said she, 
"what is the meaning of this silence ? Is it a duty to postpone every 
thing to a sense of injuries, and wrong to gratify a mother in a 
request like this? Is it the characteristic of a great man to remember 
wrongs that have been done him, and not the part of a great and 
good man to remember benefits such as those that children receive 
from parents, and to requite them with honor and respect? You, 
methinks, who are so relentless in the punishment of the ungrateful, 
should not be more careless than others to be grateful yourself. You 
have punished your country already; you have not yet paid your 
debt to me. Nature and religion, surely, unattended by any con- 
straint, should have won your consent to petitions so worthy and 
so just as these; but if it must be so, I will even use my last resource." 
Having said this, she threw herself down at his feet, as did also his 
wife and children; upon which Marcius, crying out, "O, mother! 
what is it you have done to me?" raised her up from the ground, 
and pressing her right hand with more than ordinary vehemence, 
"You have gained a victory," said he, "fortunate enough for the 
Romans, but destructive to your son; whom you, though none else, 
have defeated." After which, and a little private conference with his 
mother and his wife, he sent them back again to Rome, as they 
desired of him. 

The next morning, he broke up his camp, and led the Volscians 
homeward, variously affected with what he had done; some of them 
complaining to him and condemning his act, others, who were 
inclined to a peaceful conclusion, unfavorable to neither. A third 
party, while much disliking his proceedings, yet could not look 
upon Marcius as a treacherous person, but thought it pardonable in 

1 82 plutarch's lives 

him to be thus shaken and driven to surrender at last, under such 
compulsion. None, however, opposed his commands; they all 
obediently followed him, though rather from admiration of his vir- 
tue, than any regard they now had to his authority. The Roman 
people, meantime, more effectually manifested how much fear and 
danger they had been in while the war lasted, by their deportment 
after they were freed from it. Those that guarded the walls had no 
sooner given notice that the Volscians were dislodged and drawn 
off, but they set open all their temples in a moment, and began to 
crown themselves with garlands and prepare for sacrifice, as they 
were wont to do upon tidings brought of any signal victory. But 
the joy and transport of the whole city was chiefly remarkable in 
the honors and marks of affection paid to the women, as well by 
the senate as the people in general; every one declaring that they 
were, beyond all question, the instruments of the public safety. And 
the senate having passed a decree that whatsoever they would ask 
in the way of any favor or honor should be allowed and done for 
them by the magistrates, they demanded simply that a temple might 
be erected to Female Fortune, the expense of which they offered to 
defray out of their own contributions, if the city would be at the 
cost of sacrifices, and other matters pertaining to the due honor of 
the gods, out of the common treasury. The senate, much com- 
mending their public spirit, caused the temple to be built and a 
statue set up in it at the public charge; they, however, made up a 
sum among themselves, for a second image of Fortune, which 
the Romans say uttered, as it was putting up, words to this effect, 
"Blessed of the gods, O women, is your gift." 

These words they profess were repeated a second time, expecting 
our belief for what seems pretty nearly an impossibility. It may 
be possible enough, that statues may seem to sweat, and to run with 
tears, and to stand with certain dewy drops of a sanguine color; 
for timber and stones are frequently known to contract a kind of 
scurf and rottenness productive of moisture; and various tints may 
form on the surfaces, both from within and from the action of the 
air outside; and by these signs it is not absurd to imagine that the 
deity may forewarn us. It may happen, also, that images and 


statues may sometimes make a noise not unlike that of a moan or 
groan, through a rupture or violent internal separation of the parts; 
but that an articulate voice and such express words, and language 
so clear and exact and elaborate, should proceed from inanimate 
things, is, in my judgment, a thing utterly out of possibility. For 
it was never known that either the soul of man, or the deity him- 
self, uttered vocal sounds and language, alone, without an organized 
body and members fitted for speech. But where history seems in 
a manner to force our assent by the concurrence of numerous and 
credible witnesses, we are to conclude that an impression distinct 
from sensation affects the imaginative part of our nature, and then 
carries away the judgment, so as to believe it to be a sensation: 
just as in sleep we fancy we see and hear, without really doing 
either. Persons, however, whose strong feelings of reverence to the 
deity, and tenderness for religion, will not allow them to deny or in- 
validate any thing of this kind, have certainly a strong argument 
for their faith, in the wonderful and transcendent character of the 
divine power; which admits no manner of comparison with ours, 
either in its nature or its action, the modes or the strength of its 
operations It is no contradiction to reason that it should do things 
that we cannot do, and effect what for us is impracticable: differing 
from us in all respects, in its acts yet more than in other points we 
may well believe it to be unlike us and remote from us. Knowledge 
of divine things for the most part, as Heraclitus says, is lost to us 
by incredulity. 

When Marcius came back to Antium, Tullus, who thoroughly 
hated and greatly feared him, proceeded at once to contrive how 
he might immediately despatch him; as, if he escaped now, he was 
never likely to give him such another advantage. Having, therefore, 
got together and suborned several partisans against him, he re- 
quired Marcius to resign his charge, and give the Volscians an ac- 
count of his administration. He, apprehending the danger of a 
private condition, while Tullus held the office of general and exer- 
cised the greatest power among his fellow-citizens, made answer, 
that he was ready to lay down his commission, whenever those 
from whose common authority he had received it, should think fit 

184 plutarch's lives 

to recall it, and that in the mean time he was ready to give the 
Antiates satisfaction, as to all particulars of his conduct, if they were 
desirous of it. 

An assembly was called, and popular speakers, as had been con- 
certed, came forward to exasperate and incense the multitude; but 
when Marcius stood up to answer, the more unruly and tumultuous 
part of the people became quiet on a sudden, and out of reverence 
allowed him to speak without the least disturbance; while all the 
better people, and such as were satisfied with a peace, made it evi- 
dent by their whole behavior, that they would give him a favor- 
able hearing, and judge and pronounce according to equity. 

Tullus, therefore, began to dread the issue of the defence he was 
going to make for himself; for he was an admirable speaker, and 
the former services he had done the Volscians had procured and 
still preserved for him greater kindness than could be outweighed 
by any blame for his late conduct. Indeed, the very accusation itself 
was a proof and testimony of the greatness of his merits, since peo- 
ple could never have complained or thought themselves wronged, 
because Rome was not brought into their power, but that by his 
means they had come so near to taking it. For these reasons, thei 
conspirators judged it prudent not to make any further delays, nor 
to test the general feeling; but the boldest of their faction, crying 
out that they ought not to listen to a traitor, nor allow him still to 
retain office and play the tyrant among them, fell upon Marcius in 
a body, and slew him there, none of those that were present offering 
to defend him. But it quickly appeared that the action was in no- 
wise approved by the majority of the Volscians, who hurried out 
of their several cities to show respect to his corpse; to which they 
gave honorable interment, adorning his sepulchre with arms and 
trophies, as the monument of a noble hero and a famous general. 
When the Romans heard tidings of his death, they gave no other 
signification either of honor or of anger towards him, but simply 
granted the request of the women, that they might put themselves 
into mourning and bewail him for ten months, as the usage was 
upon the loss of a father or a son or a brother; that being the period 
fixed for the longest lamentation by the laws of Numa Pompilius, 
as is more amply told in the account of him. 


Marcius was no sooner deceased, but the Volscians felt the need 
of his assistance. They quarrelled first with the /Equians, their con- 
federates and their friends, about the appointment of the general of 
their joint forces, and carried their dispute to the length of blood- 
shed and slaughter; and were then defeated by the Romans in a 
pitched battle, where not only Tullus lost his life, but the principal 
flower of their whole army was cut in pieces; so that they were 
forced to submit and accept of peace upon very dishonorable terms, 
becoming subjects of Rome, and pledging themselves to submission. 


HAVING described all their actions that seem to deserve 
commemoration, their military ones, we may say, incline 
the balance very decidedly upon neither side. They both, 
in pretty equal measure, displayed on numerous occasions the daring 
and courage of the soldier, and the skill and foresight of the gen- 
eral; unless, indeed, the fact that Alcibiades was victorious and 
successful in many contests both by sea and land, ought to gain him 
the title of a more complete commander. That so long as they 
remained and held command in their respective countries, they 
eminently sustained, and when they were driven into exile, yet more 
eminently damaged the fortunes of those countries, is common to 
both. All the sober citizens felt disgust at the petulance, the low 
flattery, and base seductions which Alcibiades, in his public life, 
allowed himself to employ with the view of winning the people's 
favor; and the ungraciousness, pride, and oligarchical haughtiness 
which Marcius, on the other hand, displayed in his, were the ab- 
horrence of the Roman populace. Neither of these courses can be 
called commendable; but a man who ingratiates himself by indul- 
gence and flattery, is hardly so censurable as one who, to avoid 
the appearance of flattering, insults. To seek power by servility to 
the people is a disgrace, but to maintain it by terror, violence, and 
oppression, is not a disgrace only, but an injustice. 

Marcius, according to our common conceptions of his character, 
was undoubtedly simple and straightforward; Alcibiades, unscrupu- 
lous as a public man, and false. He is more especially blamed for 
the dishonorable and treacherous way in which, as Thucydides re- 
lates, he imposed upon the Lacedaemonian ambassadors, and dis- 
turbed the continuance of the peace. Yet this policy, which engaged 
the city again in war, nevertheless placed it in a powerful and 

1 86 


formidable position, by the accession, which Alcibiades obtained for 
it, of the alliance of Argos and Mantinea. And Coriolanus also, 
Dionysius relates, used unfair means to excite war between the 
Romans and the Volscians, in the false report which he spread 
about the visitors at the Games; and the motive of this action seems 
to make it the worse of the two; since it was not done, like the other, 
out of ordinary political jealousy, strife, and competition. Simply 
to gratify anger, from which, as Ion says, no one ever yet got any 
return, he threw whole districts of Italy into confusion, and sacri- 
ficed to his passion against his country numerous innocent cities. It 
is true, indeed, that Alcibiades also, by his resentment, was the oc- 
casion of great disasters to his country, but he relented as soon as 
he found their feelings to be changed; and after he was driven out a 
second time, so far from taking pleasure in the errors and inadver- 
tencies of their commanders, or being indifferent to the danger 
they were thus incurring, he did the very thing that Aristides is so 
highly commended for doing to Themistodes: he came to the gen- 
erals who were his enemies, and pointed out to them what they 
ought to do. Coriolanus, on the other hand, first of all attacked 
the whole body of his countrymen, though only one portion of them 
had done him any wrong, while the other, the better and nobler por- 
tion, had actually suffered, as well as sympathized, with him. And, 
secondly, by the obduracy with which he resisted numerous em- 
bassies and supplications, addressed in propitiation of his single 
anger and offence, he showed that it had been to destroy and over- 
throw, not to recover and regain his country, that he had excited 
bitter and implacable hostilities against it. There is, indeed, one 
distinction that may be drawn. Alcibiades, it may be said, was not 
safe among the Spartans, and had the inducements at once of fear 
and of hatred to lead him again to Athens; whereas Marcius could 
not honorably have left the Volscians, when they were behaving 
so well to him: he, in the command of their forces and the enjoy- 
ment of their entire confidence, was in a very different position from 
Alcibiades, whom the Lacedaemonians did not so much wish to 
adopt into their service, as to use, and then abandon. Driven about 
from house to house in the city, and from general to general in 
the camp, the latter had no resort but to place himself in the hands 

1 88 plutarch's lives 

of Tisaphernes; unless, indeed, we are to suppose that his object in 
courting favor with him was to avert the entire destruction of his 
native city, whither he wished himself to return. 

As regards money, Alcibiades, we are told, was often guilty of 
procuring it by accepting bribes, and spent it ill in luxury and dissi- 
pation. Coriolanus declined to receive it, even when pressed upon 
him by his commanders as an honor; and one great reason for the 
odium he incurred with the populace in the discussions about their 
debts was, that he trampled upon the poor, not for money's sake, but 
out of pride and insolence. 

Antipater, in a letter written upon the death of Aristotle the 
philosopher, observes, "Amongst his other gifts he had that of per- 
suasiveness"; and the absence of this in the character of Marcius 
made all his great actions and noble qualities unacceptable to those 
whom they benefited: pride, and self-will, the consort, as Plato calls 
it, of solitude, made him insufferable. With the skill which Alcibi- 
ades, on the contrary, possessed to treat every one in the way most 
agreeable to him, we cannot wonder that all his successes were at- 
tended with the most exuberant favor and honor; his very errors, at 
times, being accompanied by something of grace and felicity. And 
so, in spite of great and frequent hurt that he had done the city, 
he was repeatedly appointed to office and command; while Corio- 
lanus stood in vain for a place which his great services had made 
his due. The one, in spite of the harm he occasioned, could not 
make himself hated, nor the other, with all the admiration he 
attracted, succeed in being beloved by his countrymen. 

Coriolanus, moreover, it should be said, did not as a general 
obtain any successes for his country, but only for his enemies 
against his country. Alcibiades was often of service to Athens, both 
as a soldier and as a commander. So long as he was personally 
present, he had the perfect mastery of his political adversaries; 
calumny only succeeded in his absence. Coriolanus was condemned 
in person at Rome; and in like manner killed by the Volscians, not 
indeed with any right or justice, yet not without some pretext occa- 
sioned by his own acts; since, after rejecting all conditions of peace 
in public, in private he yielded to the solicitations of the women, 
and, without establishing peace, threw up the favorable chances of 


war. He ought, before retiring, to have obtained the consent of 
those who had placed their trust in him; if indeed he considered 
their claims on him to be the strongest. Or, if we say that he did not 
care about the Volscians, but merely had prosecuted the war, which 
he now abandoned, for the satisfaction of his own resentment, then 
the noble thing would have been, not to spare his country for his 
mother's sake, but his mother in and with his country; since both 
his mother and his wife were part and parcel of that endangered 
country. After harshly repelling public supplications, the entreaties 
of ambassadors, and the prayers of priests, to concede all as a private 
favor to his mother was less an honor to her than a dishonor to the 
city which thus escaped, in spite, it would seem, of its own demerits, 
through the intercession of a single woman. Such a grace could, 
indeed, seem merely invidious, ungracious, and unreasonable in 
the eyes of both parties; he retreated without listening to the per- 
suasions of his opponents, or asking the consent of his friends. The 
origin of all lay in his unsociable, supercilious, and self-willed dis- 
position, which, in all cases, is offensive to most people; and when 
combined with a passion for distinction, passes into absolute sav- 
ageness and mercilessness. Men decline to ask favors of the people, 
professing not to need any honors from them; and then are indig- 
nant if they do not obtain them. Metellus, Aristides, and Epami- 
nondas certainly did not beg favors of the multitude; but that was 
because they, in real truth, did not value the gifts which a popular 
body can either confer or refuse; and when they were more than 
once driven into exile, rejected at elections, and condemned in courts 
of justice, they showed no resentment at the ill-humor of their 
fellow-citizens, but were willing and contented to return and be 
reconciled when the feeling altered and they were wished for. He 
who least likes courting favor, ought also least to think of resenting 
neglect: to feel wounded at being refused a distinction can only 
arise from an overweening appetite to have it. 

Alcibiades never professed to deny that it was pleasant to him to 
be honored, and distasteful to him to be overlooked; and, accord- 
ingly, he always tried to place himself upon good terms with all 
that he met; Coriolanus's pride forbade him to pay attentions to 
those who could have promoted his advancement, and yet his love 


of distinction made him feel hurt and angry when he was disre- 
garded. Such are the faulty parts of his character, which in all 
other respects was a noble one. For his temperance, continence, and 
probity, he might claim to be compared with the best and purest of 
the Greeks; not in any sort or kind with Alcibiades, the least scrupu 
lous and most entirely careless of human beings in all these points. 


WHOEVER it was, Sosius, that wrote the poem in honor 
of Alcibiades, upon his winning the chariot-race at the 
Olympian Games, whether it were Euripides, as is most 
commonly thought, or some other person, he tells us, that to a 
man's being happy it is in the first place requisite he should be born 
in "some famous city." But for him that would attain to true happi- 
ness, which for the most part is placed in the qualities and disposi- 
tion of the mind, it is, in my opinion, of no other disadvantage to 
be of a mean, obscure country, than to be born of a small or plain- 
looking woman. For it were ridiculous to think that Iulis, a little 
part of Ceos, which itself is no great island, and iEgina, which an 
Athenian once said ought to be removed, like a small eye-sore, 
from the port of Pirarus, should breed good actors and poets, 1 and 
yet should never be able to produce a just, temperate, wise, and 
high-minded man. Other arts, whose end it is to acquire riches or 
honor, are likely enough to wither and decay in poor and undis- 
tinguished towns; but virtue, like a strong and durable plant, may 
take root and thrive in any place where it can lay hold of an 
ingenuous nature, and a mind that is industrious. I, for my part, 
shall desire that for any deficiency of mine in right judgment or 
action, I myself may be, as in fairness, held accountable, and shall 
not attribute it to the obscurity of my birthplace. 

But if any man undertake to write a history, that has to be col- 
lected from materials gathered by observation and the reading of 
works not easy to be got in all places, nor written always in his 
own language, but many of them foreign and dispersed in other 
hands, for him, undoubtedly, it is in the first place and above all 
things most necessary, to reside in some city of good note, addicted 
to liberal arts, and populous; where he may have plenty of all sorts 

1 Simonidcs, the lyric poet, was born at Iulis in Ceos: and Polus, the celebrated 
actor, who is mentioned in the account, further on, of Demosthenes's death, was a 
native of y£gina. 



of books, and upon inquiry may hear and inform himself of such 
particulars as, having escaped the pens of writers, are more faith- 
fully preserved in the memories of men, lest his work be deficient 
in many things, even those which it can least dispense with. 

But for me, I live in a little town, where I am willing to con- 
tinue, lest it should grow less; and having had no leisure, while I 
was in Rome and other parts of Italy, to exercise myself in the 
Roman language, on account of public business and of those who 
came to be instructed by me in philosophy, it was very late, and in 
the decline of my age, before I applied myself to the reading of 
Latin authors. Upon which that which happened to me, may seem 
strange, though it be true; for it was not so much by the knowl- 
edge of words, that I came to the understanding of things, as by 
my experience of things I was enabled to follow the meaning of 
words. But to appreciate the graceful and ready pronunciation of 
the Roman tongue, to understand the various figures and connec- 
tion of words, and such other ornaments, in which the beauty of 
speaking consists, is, I doubt not, an admirable and delightful ac- 
complishment; but it requires a degree of practice and study which 
is not easy, and will better suit those who have more leisure, and 
time enough yet before them for the occupation. 

And so in this fifth book of my Parallel Lives, in giving an ac- 
count of Demosthenes and Cicero, my comparison of their natural 
dispositions and their characters will be formed upon their actions 
and their lives as statesmen, and I shall not pretend to criticize 
their orations one against the other, to show which of the two was 
the more charming or the more powerful speaker. For there, as 
Ion says, 

"We are but like a fish upon dry land;" 

a proverb which Caecilius perhaps forgot, when he employed his 
always adventurous talents in so ambitious an attempt as a com- 
parison of Demosthenes and Cicero: and, possibly, if it were a thing 
obvious and easy for every man to f^now himself, the precept had not 
passed for an oracle. 

The divine power seems originally to have designed Demosthenes 
and Cicero upon the same plan, giving them many similarities in 


their natural characters, as their passion for distinction and their 
love of liberty in civil life, and their want of courage in dangers 
and war, and at the same time also to have added many accidental 
resemblances. I think there can hardly be found two other orators, 
who, from small and obscure beginnings, became so great and 
mighty; who both contested with kings and tyrants; both lost their 
daughters, were driven out of their country, and returned with 
honor; who, flying from thence again, were both seized upon by 
their enemies, and at last ended their lives with the liberty of their 
countrymen. So that if we were to suppose there had been a trial 
of skill between nature and fortune, as there is sometimes between 
artists, it would be hard to judge, whether that succeeded best in 
making them alike in their dispositions and manners, or this, in the 
coincidences of their lives. We will speak of the eldest first. 

Demosthenes, the father of Demosthenes, was a citizen of good 
rank and quality, as Theopompus informs us, surnamed the Sword- 
maker, because he had a large work-house, and kept servants skil- 
ful in that art at work. But of that which iEschines, the orator, said 
of his mother, that she was descended of one Gylon, who fled his 
country upon an accusation of treason, and of a barbarian woman, 
I can affirm nothing, whether he spoke true, or slandered and ma- 
ligned her. This is certain, that Demosthenes, being as yet but 
seven years old, was left by his father in affluent circumstances, the 
whole value of his estate being little short of fifteen talents, and 
that he was wronged by his guardians, part of his fortune being em- 
bezzled by them, and the rest neglected; insomuch that even his 
teachers were defrauded of their salaries. This was the reason that 
he did not obtain the liberal education that he should have had; 
besides that on account of weakness and delicate health, his mother 
would not let him exert himself, and his teachers forbore to urge 
him. He was meagre and sickly from the first, and hence had his 
nickname of Batalus, given him, it is said, by the boys, in derision 
of his appearance; Batalus being, as some tell us, a certain ener- 
vated flute-player, in ridicule of whom Antiphanes wrote a play. 
Others speak of Batalus as a writer of wanton verses and drinking 
songs. And it would seem that some part of the body, not decent 
to be named, was at that time called batalus by the Athenians. But 

194 plutarch's lives 

the name of Argas, which also they say was a nickname of Demos- 
thenes, was given him for his behavior, as being savage and spiteful, 
argas being one of the poetical words for a snake; or for his dis- 
agreeable way of speaking, Argas being the name of a poet, who 
composed very harshly and disagreeably. So much, as Plato says, 
for such matters. 

The first occasion of his eager inclination to oratory, they say, 
was this. Callistratus, the orator, being to plead in open court for 
Oropus, the expectation of the issue of that cause was very great, 
as well for the ability of the orator, who was then at the height of 
his reputation, as also for the fame of the action itself. Therefore, 
Demosthenes, having heard the tutors and schoolmasters agreeing 
among themselves to be present at this trial, with much importunity 
persuades his tutor to take him along with him to the hearing; who, 
having some acquaintance with the door-keepers, procured a place 
where the boy might sit unseen, and hear what was said. Callis- 
tratus having got the day, and being much admired, the boy began 
to look upon his glory with a kind of emulation, observing how he 
was courted on all hands, and attended on his way by the multi- 
tude; but his wonder was more than all excited by the power of his 
eloquence, which seemed able to subdue and win over any thing. 
From this time, therefore, bidding farewell to other sorts of learn- 
ing and study, he now began to exercise himself, and to take pains 
in declaiming, as one that meant to be himself also an orator. He 
made use of Isxus as his guide to the art of speaking, though Iso- 
crates at that time was giving lessons; whether, as some say, because 
he was an orphan, and was not able to pay Isocrates his appointed 
fee of ten minx, or because he preferred Isxus's speaking, as being 
more business-like and effective in actual use. Hermippus says, 
that he met with certain memoirs without any author's name, in 
which it was written that Demosthenes was a scholar to Plato, and 
learnt much of his eloquence from him; and he also mentions Ctesi- 
bius, as reporting from Callias of Syracuse and some others, that 
Demosthenes secretly obtained a knowledge of the systems of Iso- 
crates and Alcidamas, and mastered them thoroughly. 

As soon, therefore, as he was grown up to man's estate, he began 
to go to law with his guardians, and to write orations against them; 


who, in the mean time, had recourse to various subterfuges and 
pleas for new trials, and Demosthenes, though he was thus, as Thu- 
cydides says, taught his business in dangers, and by his own exer- 
tions was successful in his suit, was yet unable for all this to recover 
so much as a small fraction of his patrimony. He only attained some 
degree of confidence in speaking, and some competent experience 
in it. And having got a taste of the honor and power which are 
acquired by pleadings, he now ventured to come forth, and to under- 
take public business. And, as it is said of Laomedon, the Orcho- 
menian, that by advice of his physician, he used to run long dis- 
tances to keep off some disease of his spleen, and by that means 
having, through labor and exercise, framed the habit of his body, 
he betook himself to the great garland games, 2 and became one of 
the best runners at the long race; so it happened to Demosthenes, 
who, first venturing upon oratory for the recovery of his own pri- 
vate property, by this acquired ability in speaking, and at length, 
in public business, as it were in the great games, came to have the 
preeminence of all competitors in the assembly. But when he first 
addressed himself to the people, he met with great discouragements, 
and was derided for his strange and uncouth style, which was cum- 
bered with long sentences and tortured with formal arguments to a 
most harsh and disagreeable excess. Besides, he had, it seems, a 
weakness in his voice, a perplexed and indistinct utterance and a 
shortness of breath, which, by breaking and disjointing his sen- 
tences, much obscured the sense and meaning of what he spoke. 
So that in the end, being quite disheartened, he forsook the assem- 
bly; and as he was walking carelessly and sauntering about the 
Pirseus, Eunomus, the Thriasian, then a very old man, seeing him, 
upbraided him, saying that his diction was very much like that of 
Pericles, and that he was wanting to himself through cowardice and 
meanness of spirit, neither bearing up with courage against popular 
outcry, nor fitting his body for action, but suffering it to languish 
through mere sloth and negligence. 

Another time, when the assembly had refused to hear him, and 
he was going home with his head muffled up, taking it very heavily, 

'The Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean Games, where the victors were 
crowned with garlands. 

196 plutarch's lives 

they relate that Satyrus, the actor, followed him, and being his fa- 
miliar acquaintance, entered into conversation with him. To whom, 
when Demosthenes bemoaned himself, that having been the most in- 
dustrious of all the pleaders, and having almost spent the whole 
strength and vigor of his body in that employment, he could not yet 
find any acceptance with the people, that drunken sots, mariners, and 
illiterate fellows were heard, and had the hustings for their own, 
while he himself was despised. "You say true, Demosthenes," replies 
Satyrus, "but I will quickly remedy the cause of all this, if you 
will repeat to me some passage out of Euripides or Sophocles." 
Which when Demosthenes had pronounced, Satyrus presently taking 
it up after him, gave the same passage, in his rendering of it, such 
a new form, by accompanying it with the proper mien and gesture, 
that to Demosthenes it seemed quite another thing. By this being 
convinced how much grace and ornament language acquires from 
action, he began to esteem it a small matter, and as good as nothing 
for a man to exercise himself in declaiming, if he neglected enuncia- 
tion and delivery. Hereupon he built himself a place to study in 
under ground, (which was still remaining in our time), and hither 
he would come constantly every day to form his action, and to exer- 
cise his voice; and here he would continue, oftentimes without inter- 
mission, two or three months together, shaving one half of his head, 
that so for shame he might not go abroad, though he desired it ever 
so much. 

Nor was this all, but he also made his conversation with people 
abroad, his common speech, and his business, subservient to his 
studies, taking from hence occasions and arguments as matter to 
work upon. For as soon as he was parted from his company, down 
he would go at once into his study, and run over every thing in 
order that had passed, and the reasons that might be alleged for and 
against it. Any speeches also, that he was present at, he would go 
over again with himself, and reduce into periods; and whatever 
others spoke to him, or he to them, he would correct, transform, 
and vary several ways. Hence it was, that he was looked upon as a 
person of no great natural genius, but one who owed all the power 
and ability he had in speaking to labor and industry. Of the truth 
of which it was thought to be no small sign, that he was very rarely 


heard to speak upon the occasion, but though he were by name 
frequently called upon by the people, as he sat in the assembly, yet 
he would not rise unless he had previously considered the subject, 
and came prepared for it. So that many of the popular pleaders 
used to make it a jest against him; and Pytheas once, scoffing at 
him, said that his arguments smelt of the lamp. To which Demos- 
thenes gave the sharp answer, "It is true, indeed, Pytheas, that your 
lamp and mine are not conscious of the same things." To others, 
however, he would not much deny it, but would admit frankly 
enough, that he neither entirely wrote his speeches beforehand, nor 
yet spoke wholly extempore. And he would affirm, that it was the 
more truly popular act to use premeditation, such preparation being 
a kind of respect to the people; whereas, to slight and take no care 
how what is said is likely to be received by the audience, shows 
something of an oligarchical temper, and is the course of one that 
intends force rather than persuasion. Of his want of courage and 
assurance to speak offhand, they make it also another argument, 
that when he was at a loss, and discomposed, Demades would often 
rise up on the sudden to support him, but he was never observed 
to do the same for Demades. 

Whence then, may some say, was it, that jEschines speaks of him 
as a person so much to be wondered at for his boldness in speaking? 
Or, how could it be, when Python, the Byzantine, "with so much 
confidence and such a torrent of words inveighed against"' the 
Athenians, that Demosthenes alone stood up to oppose him? Or, 
when Lamachus, the Myrina?an, had written a panegyric upon king 
Philip and Alexander, in which he uttered many things in reproach 
of the Thebans and Olynthians, and at the Olympic Games recited 
it publicly, how was it, that he, rising up, and recounting histori- 
cally and demonstratively what benefits and advantages all Greece 
had received from the Thebans and Chalcidians, and on the con- 
trary, what mischiefs the flatterers of the Macedonians had brought 
upon it, so turned the minds of all that were present that the soph- 
ist, in alarm at the outcry against him, secretly made his way out 
of the assembly? But Demosthenes, it should seem, regarded other 
points in the character of Pericles to be unsuited to him; but his 

•These are his own words, quoted from the Oration on the Crown. 

198 plutarch's lives 

reserve and his sustained manner, and his forbearing to speak on 
the sudden, or upon every occasion, as being the things to which 
principally he owed his greatness, these he followed, and endeavored 
to imitate, neither wholly neglecting the glory which present occa- 
sion offered, nor yet willing too often to expose his faculty to the 
mercy of chance. For, in fact, the orations which were spoken by 
him had much more of boldness and confidence in them than those 
that he wrote, if we may believe Eratosthenes, Demetrius the Pha- 
lerian, and the Comedians. Eratosthenes says that often in his speak- 
ing he would be transported into a kind of ecstasy, and Demetrius, 
that he uttered the famous metrical adjuration to the people, 

"By the earth, the springs, the rivers, and the streams," 

as a man inspired, and beside himself. One of the comedians calls 
him a rhopoperperethras* and another scoffs at him for his use of 
antithesis: — 

"And what he took, took back; a phrase to please 
The very fancy of Demosthenes." 

Unless, indeed, this also is meant by Antiphanes for a jest upon the 
speech on Halonesus, which Demosthenes advised the Athenians 
not to ta/^e at Philip's hands, but to tafe backj 

All, however, used to consider Demades, in the mere use of his 
natural gifts, an orator impossible to surpass, and that in what he 
spoke on the sudden, he excelled all the study and preparation of 
Demosthenes. And Ariston, the Chian, has recorded a judgment 
which Theophrastus passed upon the orators; for being asked what 
kind of orator he accounted Demosthenes, he answered, "Worthy 
of the city of Athens;" and then, what he thought of Demades, he 
answered, "Above it." And the same philosopher reports, that Poly- 
euctus, the Sphettian, one of the Athenian politicians about that 

4 A loud declaimer about petty matters; from rhopos, small wares, and perperos, a 
loud talker. 

5 Halonesus had belonged to Athens, but had been seized by pirates, from whom 
Philip took it. He was willing to make a present of it to the Athenians, but 
Demosthenes warned them not on any account to tak.e it, unless it were expressly 
understood that they took, it bac\; Philip had no right to give what it was his duty to 
give back. The distinction thus put was apparently the subject of a great deal of 
pleasantry. Athenxus quotes five other passages from the comic writers, playing upon 
it in the same way. 


time, was wont to say, that Demosthenes was the greatest orator, 
but Phocion the ablest, as he expressed the most sense in the fewest 
words. And, indeed, it is related, that Demosthenes himself, as 
often as Phocion stood up to plead against him, would say to his 
acquaintance, "Here comes the knife to my speech." Yet it does 
not appear whether he had this feeling for his powers of speaking, 
or for his life and character, and meant to say that one word or 
nod from a man who was really trusted, would go further than a 
thousand lengthy periods from others. 

Demetrius, the Phalerian, tells us, that he was informed by De- 
mosthenes himself, now grown old, that the ways he made use of 
to remedy his natural bodily infirmities and defects were such as 
these; his inarticulate and stammering pronunciation he overcame 
and rendered more distinct by speaking with pebbles in his mouth; 
his voice he disciplined by declaiming and reciting speeches or 
verses when he was out of breath, while running or going up steep 
places; and that in his house he had a large looking-glass, before 
which he would stand and go through his exercises. It is told that 
some one once came to request his assistance as a pleader, and 
related how he had been assaulted and beaten. "Certainly," said 
Demosthenes, "nothing of the kind can have happened to you." 
Upon which the other, raising his voice, exclaimed loudly, "What, 
Demosthenes, nothing has been done to me?" "Ah," replied De- 
mosthenes, "now I hear the voice of one that has been injured and 
beaten." Of so great consequence towards the gaining of belief did 
he esteem the tone and action of the speaker. The action which 
he used himself was wonderfully pleasing to the common people; 
but by well-educated people, as, for example, by Demetrius, the 
Phalerian, it was looked upon as mean, humiliating, and unmanly. 
And Hermippus says of iEsion, that, being asked his opinion con- 
cerning the ancient orators and those of his own time, he answered 
that it was admirable to see with what composure and in what high 
style they addressed themselves to the people; but that the orations 
of Demosthenes, when they are read, certainly appear to be superior 
in point of construction, and more effective. 6 His written speeches, 

' ibion was a fellow scholar with Demosthenes. The comparison in his remarks 
gives the superiority in manner to the old speakers, whom he remembered in his 
youth, but in construction, to Demosthenes, his contemporary. 


beyond all question, are characterized by austere tone and by their 
severity. In his extempore retorts and rejoinders, he allowed him- 
self the use of jest and mockery. When Demades said, "Demos- 
thenes teach me! So might the sow teach Minerva!" he replied, 
"Was it this Minerva, that was lately found playing the harlot in 
Collytus?" 7 When a thief, who had the nickname of the Brazen, 
was attempting to upbraid him for sitting up late, and writing by 
candlelight, "I know very well," said he, "that you had rather have 
all lights out; and wonder not, O ye men of Athens, at the many 
robberies which are committed, since we have thieves of brass and 
walls of clay." But on these points, though we have much more 
to mention, we will add nothing at present. We will proceed to 
take an estimate of his character from his actions and his life as a 

His first entering into public business was much about the time 
of the Phocian war, as himself affirms, and may be collected from 
his Philippic orations. For of these, some were made after that 
action was over, and the earliest of them refer to its concluding 
events. It is certain that he engaged in the accusation of Midias 
when he was but two and thirty years old, having as yet no interest 
or reputation as a politician. And this it was, I consider, that in- 
duced him to withdraw the action, and accept a sum of money as 
a compromise. For of himself 

"He was no easy or good-natured man," 

but of a determined disposition, and resolute to see himself righted; 
however, finding it a hard matter and above his strength to deal 
with Midias, a man so well secured on all sides with money, elo- 
quence, and friends, he yielded to the entreaties of those who inter- 
ceded for him. But had he seen any hopes or possibility of prevail- 
ing, I cannot believe that three thousand drachmas could have 
taken off the edge of his revenge. The object which he chose for 
himself in the commonwealth was noble and just, the defence of 
the Grecians against Philip; and in this he behaved himself so 

' "Sus Minervam," the proverb. Collytus, together with Melite, formed the south- 
west, and, apparently, the more agreeable part of Athens. Plutarch, consoling a friend 
who was banished from his native city, tells him people cannot all live where they 
like best; it is not every Athenian can live in Collytus, nor does a man consider himself 
a miserable exile, who has to leave a house in Melite and take one in Diomea. 


worthily that he soon grew famous, and excited attention every- 
where for his eloquence and courage in speaking. He was admired 
through all Greece, the king of Persia courted him, and by Philip 
himself he was more esteemed than all the other orators. His very 
enemies were forced to confess that they had to do with a man of 
mark; for such a character even iEschines and Hyperides give him, 
where they accuse and speak against him. 

So that I cannot imagine what ground Theopompus had to say, 
that Demosthenes was of a fickle, unsettled disposition, and could 
not long continue firm either to the same men or the same affairs; 
whereas the contrary is most apparent, for the same party and post 
in politics which he held from the beginning, to these he kept con- 
stant to the end; and was so far from leaving them while he lived, 
that he chose rather to forsake his life than his purpose. He was 
never heard to apologize for shifting sides like Demades, who 
would say, he often spoke against himself, but never against the 
city; nor as Melanopus, who, being generally against Callistratus, 
but being often bribed off with money, was wont to tell the people, 
"The man indeed is my enemy, but we must submit for the good 
of our country;" nor again as Nicodemus, the Messenian, who 
having first appeared on Cassander's side and afterwards taken 
part with Demetrius, said the two things were not in themselves 
contrary, it being always most advisable to obey the conqueror. We 
have nothing of this kind to say against Demosthenes, as one who 
would turn aside or prevaricate, either in word or deed. There 
could not have been less variation in his public acts if they had all 
been played, so to say, from first to last, from the same score. 
Panaetius, the philosopher, said, that most of his orations are so 
written, as if they were to prove this one conclusion, that what is 
honest and virtuous is for itself only to be chosen; as that of the 
Crown, that against Aristocrates, that for the Immunities, and the 
Philippics; in all which he persuades his fellow<itizens to pursue 
not that which seems most pleasant, easy, or profitable; but declares 
over and over again, that they ought in the first place to prefer that 
which is just and honorable, before their own safety and preservation. 
So that if he had kept his hands clean, if his courage for the wars 
had been answerable to the generosity of his principles, and the 

202 plutarch's lives 

dignity of his orations, he might deservedly have his name placed, 
not in the number of such orators as Mcerocles, Polyeuctus, and 
Hyperides, but in the highest rank with Cimon, Thucydides, and 

Certainly amongst those who were contemporary with him, Pho- 
cion, though he appeared on the less commendable side in the com- 
monwealth, and was counted as one of the Macedonian party, never- 
theless, by his courage and his honesty, procured himself a name 
not inferior to those of Ephialtes, Aristides, and Cimon. But De- 
mosthenes, being neither fit to be relied on for courage in arms, as 
Demetrius says, nor on all sides inaccessible to bribery (for how 
invincible soever he was against the gifts of Philip and the Mace- 
donians, yet elsewhere he lay open to assault, and was overpowered 
by the gold which came down from Susa and Ecbatana), was there- 
fore esteemed better able to recommend than to imitate the virtues 
of past times. And yet (excepting only Phocion), even in his life 
and manners, he far surpassed the other orators of his time. None 
of them addressed the people so boldly; he attacked the faults, 
and opposed himself to the unreasonable desires of the multitude, 
as may be seen in his orations. Theopompus writes, that the Athe- 
nians having by name selected Demosthenes, and called upon him 
to accuse a certain person, he refused to do it; upon which the as- 
sembly being all in an uproar, he rose up and said, "Your coun- 
sellor, whether you will or no, O ye men of Athens, you shall 
always have me; but a sycophant or false accuser, though you would 
have me, I shall never be." And his conduct in the case of Antiphon 
was perfectly aristocratical; whom, after he had been acquitted in 
the assembly, he took and brought before the court of Areopagus, 
and, setting at naught the displeasure of the people, convicted him 
there of having promised Philip to burn the arsenal; whereupon 
the man was condemned by that court, and suffered for it. He 
accused, also, Theoris, the priestess, amongst other mirdemeanors, 
of having instructed and taught the slaves to deceive and cheat 
their masters, for which the sentence of death passed upon her, and 
she was executed. 

The oration which Apollodorus made use of, and by it carried 


the cause against Timotheus, the general, in an action of debt, it is 
said was written for him by Demosthenes; as also those against 
Phormion and Stephanus, in which latter case he was thought to 
have acted dishonorably, for the speech which Phormion used 
against Apollodorus was also of his making; he, as it were, having 
simply furnished two adversaries out of the same shop with weapons 
to wound one another. Of his orations addressed to the public 
assemblies, that against Androtion, and those against Timocrates 
and Aristocrates, were written for others, before he had come for- 
ward himself as a politician. They were composed, it seems, 
when he was but seven or eight and twenty years old. That against 
Aristogiton, and that for the Immunities, he spoke himself, at the 
request, as he says, of Ctesippus, the son of Chabrias, but, as some 
say, out of courtship to the young man's mother. Though, in fact, 
he did not marry her, for his wife was a woman of Samos, as 
Demetrius, the Magnesian, writes, in his book on Persons of the 
same Name. It is not certain whether his oration against jEschines, 
for Misconduct as Ambassador, was ever spoken; although Idome- 
neus says that iEschines wanted only thirty voices to condemn him. 
But this seems not to be correct, at least so far as may be conjectured 
from both their orations concerning the Crown; for in these, neither 
of them speaks clearly or directly of it, as a cause that ever came to 
trial. But let others decide this controversy. 

It was evident, even in time of peace, what course Demosthenes 
would steer in the commonwealth; for whatever was done by the 
Macedonian, he criticized and found fault with, and upon all occa- 
sions was stirring up the people of Athens, and inflaming them 
against him. Therefore, in the court of Philip, no man was so 
much talked of, or of so great account as he; and when he came 
thither, one of the ten ambassadors who were sent into Macedonia, 
though all had audience given them, yet his speech was answered 
with most care and exactness. But in other respects, Philip enter- 
tained him not so honorably as the rest, neither did he show him 
the same kindness and civility with which he applied himself to 
the party of iEschines and Philocrates. So that, when the others 
commended Philip for his able speaking, his beautiful person, nay, 


and also for his good companionship in drinking, Demosthenes 
could not refrain from cavilling at these praises; the first, he said, 
was a quality which might well enough become a rhetorician, the 
second a woman, and the last was only the property of a sponge; 
no one of them was the proper commendation of a prince. 

But when things came at last to war, Philip on the one side being 
not able to live in peace, and the Athenians, on the other side, 
being stirred up by Demosthenes, the first action he put them upon 
was the reducing of Eubcea, which, by the treachery of the tyrants, 
was brought under subjection to Philip. And on his proposition, 
the decree was voted, and they crossed over thither and chased the 
Macedonians out of the island. The next, was the relief of the By- 
zantines and Perinthians, whom the Macedonians at that time 
were attacking. He persuaded the people to lay aside their enmity 
against these cities, to forget the offences committed by them in 
the Confederate War, and to send them such succors as eventually 
saved and secured them. Not long after, he undertook an embassy 
through the States of Greece, which he solicited and so far in- 
censed against Philip, that, a few only excepted, he brought them 
all into a general league. So that, besides the forces composed of 
the citizens themselves, there was an army consisting of fifteen 
thousand foot and two thousand horse, and the money to pay these 
strangers was levied and brought in with great cheerfulness. On 
which occasion it was, says Theophrastus, on the allies requesting 
that their contributions for the war might be ascertained and stated, 
Crobylus, the orator, made use of the saying, "War can't be fed at 
so much a day." Now was all Greece up in arms, and in great 
expectation what would be the event. The Eubceans, the Achxans, 
the Corinthians, the Megarians, the Leucadians, and Corcyracans, 
their people and their cities, were all joined together in a league. 
But the hardest task was yet behind, left for Demosthenes, to 
draw the Thebans into this confederacy with the rest. Their coun- 
try bordered next upon Attica, they had great forces for the war, 
and at that time they were accounted the best soldiers of all Greece, 
but it was no easy matter to make them break with Philip, who, 
by many good offices, had so lately obliged them in the Phocian 
war; especially considering how the subjects of dispute and vari- 


ance between the two cities were continually renewed and exas- 
perated by petty quarrels, arising out of the proximity of their 

But after Philip, being now grown high and puffed up with his 
good success at Amphissa, on a sudden surprised Elatea and pos- 
sessed himself of Phocis, and the Athenians were in a great con- 
sternation, none durst venture to rise up to speak, no one knew 
what to say, all were at a loss, and the whole assembly in silence 
and perplexity, in this extremity of affairs, Demosthenes was the 
only man who appeared, his counsel to them being alliance with the 
Thebans. And having in other ways encouraged the people, and, 
as his manner was, raised their spirits up with hopes, he, with some 
others, was sent ambassador to Thebes. To oppose him, as Marsyas 
says, Philip also sent thither his envoys, Amyntas and Clearchus, 
two Macedonians, besides Daochus, a Thessalian, and Thrasydacus. 
Now the Thebans, in their consultations, were well enough aware 
what suited best with their own interest, but every one had before 
his eyes the terrors of war, and their losses in the Phocian troubles 
were still recent; but such was the force and power of the orator, 
fanning up, as Theopompus says, their courage, and firing their 
emulation, that casting away every thought of prudence, fear, or 
obligation, in a sort of divine possession, they chose the path of 
honor, to which his words invited them. And this success, thus 
accomplished by an orator, was thought to be so glorious and of 
such consequence, that Philip immediately sent heralds to treat and 
petition for a peace: all Greece was aroused, and up in arms to help. 
And the commanders-in-chief, not only of Attica, but of Boeotia, 
applied themselves to Demosthenes, and observed his directions. 
He managed all the assemblies of the Thebans, no less than those 
of the Athenians; he was beloved both by the one and by the other, 
and exercised the same supreme authority with both; and that not 
by unfair means, or without just cause, as Theopompus professes, 
but indeed it was no more than was due to his merit. 

But there was, it should seem, some divinely-ordered fortune, 
commissioned, in the revolution of things, to put a period at this 
time to the liberty of Greece, which opposed and thwarted all their 
actions, and by many signs foretold what should happen. Such 

206 plutarch's lives 

were the sad predictions uttered by the Pythian priestess, and this 
old oracle cited out of the Sibyl's verses, — 

"The battle on Thermodon that shall be 
Safe at a distance I desire to see, 
Far, like an eagle, watching in the air. 
Conquered shall weep, and conqueror perish there." 

This Thermodon, they say, is a little rivulet here in our country 
in Chaeronea, running into the Cephisus. But we know of none that 
is so called at the present time; and can only conjecture that the 
streamlet which is now called Hacmon, and runs by the Temple of 
Hercules, where the Grecians were encamped, might perhaps in 
those days be called Thermodon, and after the fight, being filled 
with blood and dead bodies, upon this occasion, as we guess, might 
change its old name for that which it now bears. Yet Duris says 
that this Thermodon was no river, but that some of the soldiers, 
as they were pitching their tents and digging trenches about them, 
found a small stone statue, which, by the inscription, appeared to 
be the figure of Thermodon, carrying a wounded Amazon in his 
arms; and that there was another oracle current about it, as fol- 
lows: — 

"The batde on Thermodon that shall be, 
Fail not, black raven, to attend and see; 
The flesh of men shall there abound for thee." 

In fine, it is not easy to determine what is the truth. But of 
Demosthenes it is said, that he had such great confidence in the 
Grecian forces, and was so excited by the sight of the courage and 
resolution of so many brave men ready to engage the enemy, that 
he would by no means endure they should give any heed to oracles, 
or hearken to prophecies, but gave out that he suspected even the 
prophetess herself, as if she had been tampered with to speak in 
favor of Philip. The Thebans he put in mind of Epaminondas, the 
Athenians, of Pericles who always took their own measures and 
governed their actions by reason, looking upon things of this kind 
as mere pretexts for cowardice. Thus far, therefore, Demosthenes 
acquitted himself like a brave man. But in the fight he did nothing 
-honorable, nor was his performance answerable to his speeches. 


For he fled, deserting his place disgracefully, and throwing away 
his arms, not ashamed, as Pytheas observed, to belie the inscription 
written on his shield, in letters o£ gold, "With good fortune." 

In the mean time Philip, in the first moment of victory, was so 
transported with joy, that he grew extravagant, and going out, after 
he had drunk largely, to visit the dead bodies, he chanted the first 
words of the decree that had been passed on the motion of Demos- 

"The motion of Demosthenes, Demosthenes's son," 8 

dividing it metrically into feet, and marking the beats. 

But when he came to himself, and had well considered the dan- 
ger he was lately under, he could not forbear from shuddering at 
the wonderful ability and power of an orator who had made him 
hazard his life and empire on the issue of a few brief hours. The 
fame of it also reached even to the court of Persia, and the king 
sent letters to his lieutenants, commanding them to supply Demos- 
thenes with money, and to pay every attention to him, as the only 
man of all the Grecians who was able to give Philip occupation 
and find employment for his forces near home, in the troubles of 
Greece. This afterwards came to the knowledge of Alexander, by 
certain letters of Demosthenes which he found at Sardis, and by 
other papers of the Persian officers, stating the large sums which 
had been given him. 

At this time, however, upon the ill success which now happened 
to the Grecians, those of the contrary faction in the commonwealth 
fell foul upon Demosthenes, and took the opportunity to frame sev- 
eral informations and indictments against him. But the people not 
only acquitted him of these accusations, but continued towards him 
their former respect, and still invited him, as a man that meant well, 
to take a part in public affairs. Insomuch that when the bones of 
those who had been slain at Charronea were brought home to be sol- 
emnly interred, Demosthenes was the man they chose to make the 
funeral oration. They did not show, under the misfortunes which 
befell them, a base or ignoble mind, as Theopompus writes in his 

8 Demosthenes Demosthcnous, Paianieus, tad' eipen. "Demosthenes, the son of 
Demosthenes, of the Paranian township, made this motion," — the usual form of the 
commencement of the Votes of the Athenian Assembly. 

208 plutarch's lives 

exaggerated style, but, on the contrary, by the honor and respect 
paid to their counsellor, they made it appear that they were noway 
dissatisfied with the counsels he had given them. The speech, there- 
fore, was spoken by Demosthenes. But the subsequent decrees he 
would not allow to be passed in his own name, but made use of 
those of his friends, one after another, looking upon his own as 
unfortunate and inauspicious; till at length he took courage again 
after the death of Philip, who did not long oudive his victory at 
Chxronea. And this, it seems, was that which was foretold in the 
last verse of the oracle, 

"Conquered shall weep, and conqueror perish there." 

Demosthenes had secret intelligence of the death of Philip, and 
laying hold of this opportunity to prepossess the people with cour- 
age and better hopes for the future, he came into the assembly with 
a cheerful countenance pretending to have had a dream that pre- 
saged some great good fortune for Athens; and, not long after, 
arrived the messengers who brought the news of Philip's death. No 
sooner had the people received it, but immediately they offered 
sacrifice to the gods, and decreed that Pausanias should be pre- 
sented with a crown. Demosthenes appeared publicly in a rich 
dress, with a chaplet on his head, though it were but the seventh 
day since the death of his daughter, as is said by ^Eschines, who 
upbraids him upon this account, and rails at him as one void of 
natural affection towards his children. Whereas, indeed, he rather 
betrays himself to be of a poor, low spirit, and effeminate mind, if 
he really means to make wailings and lamentation the only signs 
of a gende and affectionate nature, and to condemn those who bear 
such accidents with more temper and less passion. For my own 
part, I cannot say that the behavior of the Athenians on this occa- 
sion was wise or honorable, to crown themselves with garlands 
and to sacrifice to the Gods for the death of a Prince who, in the 
midst of his success and victories, when they were a conquered peo- 
ple, had used them with so much clemency and humanity. For 
besides provoking fortune, it was a base thing, and unworthy in 
itself, to make him a citizen of Athens, and pay him honors while 
he lived, and yet as soon as he fell by another's hand, to set no 


bounds to their jollity, to insult over him dead, and to sing tri- 
umphant songs of victory, as if by their own valor they had van- 
quished him. I must at the same time commend the behavior of 
Demosthenes, who, leaving tears and lamentations and domestic 
sorrows to the women, made it his business to attend to the interests 
of the commonwealth. And I think it the duty of him who would 
be accounted to have a soul truly valiant, and fit for government, 
that, standing always firm to the common good, and letting private 
griefs and troubles find their compensation in public blessings, he 
should maintain the dignity of his character and station, much more 
than actors who represent the persons of kings and tyrants, who, we 
see, when they either laugh or weep on the stage, follow, not their 
own private inclinations, but the course consistent with the subject 
and with their position. And if, moreover, when our neighbor is in 
misfortune, it is not our duty to forbear offering any consolation, 
but rather to say whatever may tend to cheer him, and to invite 
his attention to any agreeable objects, just as we tell people who 
are troubled with sore eyes, to withdraw their sight from bright and 
offensive colors to green, and those of a softer mixture, from whence 
can a man seek, in his own case, better arguments of consolation for 
afflictions in his family, than from the prosperity of his country, by 
making public and domestic chances count, so to say, together, and 
the better fortune of the state obscure and conceal the less happy 
circumstances of the individual. I have been induced to say so 
much, because I have known many readers melted by ^Eschines's 
language into a soft and unmanly tenderness. 

But now to return to my narrative. The cities of Greece were in- 
spirited once more by the efforts of Demosthenes to form a league 
together. The Thebans, whom he had provided with arms, set upon 
their garrison, and slew many of them; the Athenians made prepara- 
tions to join their forces with them; Demosthenes ruled supreme 
in the popular assembly, and wrote letters to the Persian officers who 
commanded under the king in Asia, inciting them to make war 
upon the Macedonian, calling him child and simpleton.' But as 
soon as Alexander had settled matters in his own country, and 

* Margites, the name of the character held up to ridicule in an old poem ascribed to 
Homer,— the boy, who, though fully grown up, has never attained the sense or wits of 


came in person with his army into Bceotia, down fell the courage 
of the Athenians, and Demosthenes was hushed; the Thebans, de- 
serted by them, fought by themselves, and lost their city. After 
which, the people of Athens, all in distress and great perplexity, 
resolved to send ambassadors to Alexander, and amongst others, 
made choice of Demosthenes for one; but his heart failing him for 
fear of the king's anger, he returned back from Cithxron, and left 
the embassy. In the mean time, Alexander sent to Athens, requir- 
ing ten of their orators to be delivered up to him, as Idomeneus 
and Duris have reported, but as the most and best historians say, 
he demanded these eight only, — Demosthenes, Polyeuctus, Ephi- 
altes, Lycurgus, Mcerocles, Demon, Callisthenes, and Charidemus. 
It was upon this occasion that Demosthenes related to them the 
fable in which the sheep are said to deliver up their dogs to the 
wolves; himself and those who with him contended for the people's 
safety, being, in his comparison, the dogs that defended the flock, and 
Alexander "the Macedonian arch wolf." He further told them, "As 
we see corn-masters sell their whole stock but a few grains of wheat 
which they carry about with them in a dish, as a sample of the rest, so 
you, by delivering up us, who are but a few, do at the same time un- 
awares surrender up yourselves all together with us;" so we find it 
related in the history of Aristobulus, the Cassandrian. The Athe- 
nians were deliberating, and at a loss what to do, when Demades, 
having agreed with the persons whom Alexander had demanded, for 
five talents, undertook to go ambassador, and to intercede with the 
king for them; and, whether it was that he relied on his friendship 
and kindness, or that he hoped to find him satiated, as a lion glutted 
with slaughter, he certainly went, and prevailed with him both to 
pardon the men, and to be reconciled to the city. 

So he and his friends, when Alexander went away, were great 
men, and Demosthenes was quite put aside. Yet when Agis, the 
Spartan, made his insurrection, he also for a short time attempted 
a movement in his favor; but he soon shrunk back again, as the 
Athenians would not take any part in it, and, Agis being slain, the 
Lacedaemonians were vanquished. During this time it was that the 
indictment against Ctesiphon, concerning the Crown, was brought 
to trial. The action was commenced a little before the batde in 


Chaeronea, when Chaerondas was archon, but it was not proceeded 
with till about ten years after, Aristophon being then archon. Never 
was any public cause more celebrated than this, alike for the fame 
of the orators, and for the generous courage of the judges, who, 
though at that time the accusers of Demosthenes were in the height 
of power, and supported by all the favor of the Macedonians, yet 
would not give judgment against him, but acquitted him so honor- 
ably, that jEschines did not obtain the fifth part of their suffrages 
on his side, so that, immediately after, he left the city, and spent the 
rest of his life in teaching rhetoric about the island of Rhodes, 
and upon the continent in Ionia. 

It was not long after that Harpalus fled from Alexander, and 
came to Athens out of Asia; knowing himself guilty of many mis- 
deeds into which his love of luxury had led him, and fearing the 
king, who was now grown terrible even to his best friends. Yet 
this man had no sooner addressed himself to the people, and de- 
livered up his goods, his ships, and himself to their disposal, but the 
other orators of the town had their eyes quickly fixed upon his 
money, and came in to his assistance, persuading the Athenians to 
receive and protect their suppliant. Demosthenes at first gave advice 
to chase him out of the country, and to beware lest they involved 
their city in a war upon an unnecessary and unjust occasion. But 
some few days after, as they were taking an account of the treasure, 
Harpalus, perceiving how much he was pleased with a cup o£ 
Persian manufacture, and how curiously he surveyed the sculpture 
and fashion of it, desired him to poise it in his hand, and consider 
the weight of the gold. Demosthenes, being amazed to feel how 
heavy it was, asked him what weight it came to. "To you," said 
Harpalus, smiling, "it shall come with twenty talents." And pres- 
endy after, when night drew on, he sent him the cup with so many 
talents. Harpalus, it seems, was a person of singular skill to dis- 
cern a man's covetousness by the air of his countenance, and the 
look and movements of his eyes. For Demosthenes could not re- 
sist the temptation, but admitting the present, like an armed garri- 
son, into the citadel of his house, he surrendered himself up to the 
interest of Harpalus. The next day, he came into the assembly with 
his neck swathed about with wool and rollers, and when they called 


on him to rise up and speak, he made signs as if he had lost his 
voice. But the wits, turning the matter to ridicule, said that cer- 
tainly the orator had been seized that night with no other than a 
silver quinsy. And soon after, the people, becoming aware of the 
bribery, grew angry, and would not suffer him to speak, or make 
any apology for himself, but ran him down with noise; and one 
man stood up, and cried out, "What, ye men of Athens, will you not 
hear the cup-bearer?" So at length they banished Harpalus out of 
the city; and fearing lest they should be called to account for the 
treasure which the orators had purloined, they made a strict in- 
quiry, going from house to house; only Callicles, the son of Arrhe- 
nidas, who was newly married, they would not suffer to be searched, 
out of respect, as Theopompus writes, to the bride, who was within. 
Demosthenes resisted the inquisition, and proposed a decree to 
refer the business to the court of Areopagus, and to punish those 
whom that court should find guilty. But being himself one of the 
first whom the court condemned, when he came to the bar, he was 
fined fifty talents, and committed to prison; where, out of shame 
of the crime for which he was condemned, and through the weak- 
ness of his body, growing incapable of supporting the confinement, 
he made his escape, by the carelessness of some and by the conniv- 
ance of others of the citizens. We are told, at least, that he had not 
fled far from the city, when, finding that he was pursued by some 
of those who had been his adversaries, he endeavored to hide him- 
self. But when they called him by name, and coming up nearer to 
him, desired he would accept from them some money which they 
had brought from home as a provision for his journey, and to that 
purpose only had followed him, when they entreated him to take 
courage, and to bear up against his misfortune, he burst out into 
much greater lamentation, saying, "But how is it possible to sup- 
port myself under so heavy an affliction, since I leave a city in 
which I have such enemies, as in any other it is not easy to find 
friends." He did not show much fortitude in his banishment, 
spending his time for the most part in ^Egina and Troezen, and, 
with tears in his eyes, looking towards the country of Attica. And 
there remain upon record some sayings of his, little resembling 
those sentiments of generosity and bravery which he used to ex- 


press when he had the management of the commonwealth. For, 
as he was departing out of the city, it is reported, he lifted up his 
hands towards the Acropolis, and said, "O Lady Minerva, how is 
it that thou takest delight in three such fierce untractable beasts, 
the owl, the snake, and the people?" The young men that came to 
visit and converse with him, he deterred from meddling with state 
affairs, telling them, that if at first two ways had been proposed 
to him, the one leading to the speaker's stand and the assembly, the 
other going direct to destruction, and he could have foreseen the 
many evils which attend those who deal in public business, such as 
fears, envies, calumnies, and contentions, he would certainly have 
taken that which led straight on to his death. 

But now happened the death of Alexander, while Demosthenes 
was in this banishment which we have been speaking of. And the 
Grecians were once again up in arms, encouraged by the brave at- 
tempts of Leosthenes, who was then drawing a circumvallation 
about Antipater, whom he held close besieged in Lamia. Pytheas, 
therefore, the orator, and Callimedon, called the Crab, fled from 
Athens, and taking sides with Antipater, went about with his 
friends and ambassadors to keep the Grecians from revolting and 
taking part with the Athenians. But, on the other side, Demos- 
thenes, associating himself with the ambassadors that came from 
Athens, used his utmost endeavors and gave them his best assistance 
in persuading the cities to fall unanimously upon the Macedonians, 
and to drive them out of Greece. Phylarchus says that in Arcadia 
there happened a rencounter between Pytheas and Demosthenes, 
which came at last to downright railing, while the one pleaded 
for the Macedonians, and the other for the Grecians. Pytheas said, 
that as we always suppose there is some disease in the family to 
which they bring asses' milk, so wherever there comes an embassy 
from Athens, that city must needs be indisposed. And Demos- 
thenes answered him, retorting the comparison: "Asses' milk is 
brought to restore health, and the Athenians come for the safety 
and recovery of the sick." With this conduct the people of Athens 
were so well pleased, that they decreed the recall of Demosthenes 
from banishment. The decree was brought in by Demon the Paea- 
nian, cousin to Demosthenes. So they sent him a ship to JEgina, 


and he landed at the port of Piraeus, where he was met and joyfully 
received by all the citizens, not so much as an Archon or a priest 
staying behind. And Demetrius, the Magnesian, says, that he lifted 
up his hands towards heaven, and blessed this day of his happy 
return, as far more honorable than that of Alcibiades; since he was 
recalled by his countrymen, not through any force or constraint 
put upon them, but by their own good-will and free inclinations. 
There remained only his pecuniary fine, which, according to law, 
could not be remitted by the people. But they found out a way to 
elude the law. It was a custom with them to allow a certain quan- 
tity of silver to those who were to furnish and adorn the altar for 
the sacrifice of Jupiter Soter. This office, for that turn, they be- 
stowed on Demosthenes, and for the performance of it ordered him 
fifty talents, the very sum in which he was condemned. 

Yet it was no long time that he enjoyed his country after his 
return, the attempts of the Greeks being soon all utterly defeated. 
For the battle at Cranon happened in Metagitnion, in Boedromion 
the garrison entered into Munychia, and in the Pyanepsion follow- 
ing died Demosthenes after this manner. 

Upon the report that Antipater and Craterus were coming to 
Athens, Demosthenes with his party took their opportunity to 
escape privily out of the city; but sentence of death was, upon the 
motion of Demades, passed upon them by the people. They dis- 
persed themselves, flying some to one place, some to another; and 
Antipater sent about his soldiers into all quarters to apprehend 
them. Archias was their captain, and was thence called the exile- 
hunter. He was a Thurian born, and is reported to have been an 
actor of tragedies, and they say that Polus, of iEgina, the best actor 
of his time, was his scholar; but Hermippus reckons Archias 
among the disciples of Lacritus, the orator, and Demetrius says, he 
spent some time with Anaximenes. This Archias finding Hyperides 
the orator, Aristonicus of Marathon, and Himerseus, the brother 
of Demetrius the Phalerian, in yEgina, took them by force out of 
the temple of iEacus, whither they were fled for safety, and sent 
them to Antipater, then at Cleonac, where they were all put to death; 
and Hyperides, they say, had his tongue cut out. 

Demosthenes, he heard, had taken sanctuary at the temple of 


Neptune in Calauria, and, crossing over thither in some light ves- 
sels, as soon as he had landed himself, and the Thracian spear-men 
that came with him, he endeavored to persuade Demosthenes to 
accompany him to Antipater, as if he should meet with no hard 
usage from him. But Demosthenes, in his sleep the night before, 
had a strange dream. It seemed to him that he was acting a tragedy, 
and contended with Archias for the victory; and though he ac- 
quitted himself well, and gave good satisfaction to the spectators, 
yet for want of better furniture and provision for the stage, he lost 
the day. And so, while Archias was discoursing to him with many 
expressions of kindness, he sate still in the same posture, and look- 
ing up steadfastly upon him, "O Archias," said he, "I am as little 
affected by your promises now as I used formerly to be by your 
acting." Archias at this beginning to grow angry and to threaten 
him, "Now," said Demosthenes, "you speak like the genuine Mace- 
donian oracle; before you were but acting a part. Therefore forbear 
only a little, while I write a word or two home to my family." 
Having thus spoken, he withdrew into the temple, and taking a 
scroll, as if he meant to write, he put the reed into his mouth, and 
biting it, as he was wont to do when he was thoughtful or writing, 
he held it there for some time. Then he bowed down his head and 
covered it. The soldiers that stood at the door, supposing all this 
to proceed from want of courage and fear of death, in derision 
called him effeminate, and faint-hearted, and coward. And Archias, 
drawing near, desired him to rise up, and repeating the same kind 
things he had spoken before, he once more promised him to make 
his peace with Antipater. But Demosthenes, perceiving that now 
the poison had pierced and seized his vitals, uncovered his head, 
and fixing his eyes upon Archias, "Now," said he, "as soon as you 
please you may commence the part of Creon in the tragedy, and 
cast out this body of mine unburied. But, O gracious Neptune, 1, 
for my part, while I am yet alive, arise up and depart out of this 
sacred place; though Antipater and the Macedonians have not left 
so much as thy temple unpolluted." After he had thus spoken and 
desired to be held up, because already he began to tremble and stag- 
ger, as he was going forward, and passing by the altar, he fell down, 
and with a groan gave up the ghost. 

216 plutarch's lives 

Ariston says that he took the poison out of a reed, as we have 
shown before. But Pappus, a certain historian whose history was 
recovered by Hermippus, says, that as he fell near the altar, there 
was found in his scroll this beginning only of a letter, and nothing 
more, "Demosthenes to Antipater." And that when his sudden 
death was much wondered at, the Thracians who guarded the doors 
reported that he took the poison into his hand out of a rag, and put it 
into his mouth, and that they imagined it had been gold which he 
swallowed; but the maid that served him, being examined by the 
followers of Archias, affirmed that he had worn it in a bracelet for a 
long time, as an amulet. And Eratosthenes also says that he kept 
the poison in a hollow ring, and that that ring was the bracelet 
which he wore about his arm. There are various other state- 
ments made by the many authors who have related the story, but 
there is no need to enter into their discrepancies; yet I must not 
omit what is said by Demochares, the relation of Demosthenes, who 
is of opinion, it was not by the help of poison that he met with 
so sudden and so easy a death, but that by the singular favor and 
providence of the gods he was thus rescued from the cruelty of the 
Macedonians. He died on the sixteenth of Pyanepsion, the most 
sad and solemn day of the Thesmophoria, which the women ob- 
serve by fasting in the temple of the goddess. 

Soon after his death, the people of Athens bestowed on him such 
honors as he had deserved. They erected his statue of brass; they 
decreed that the eldest of his family should be maintained in the 
Prytaneum; and on the base of his statue was engraven the famous 
inscription, — 

"Had you for Greece been strong, as wise you were, 
The Macedonian had not conquered her." 

For it is simply ridiculous to say, as some have related, that Demos- 
thenes made these verses himself in Calauria, as he was about to 
take the poison. 

A little before he went to Athens, the following incident was said 
to have happened. A soldier, being summoned to appear before 
his superior officer, and answer to an accusation brought against 
him, put that little gold which he had into the hands of Demos- 


thenes's statue. The fingers of this statue were folded one within 
another, and near it grew a small plane-tree, from which many 
leaves, either accidentally blown thither by the wind, or placed so 
on purpose by the man himself, falling together, and lying round 
about the gold, concealed it for a long time. In the end, the soldier 
returned, and found his treasure entire, and the fame of this inci- 
dent was spread abroad. And many ingenious persons of the city 
competed with each other, on this occasion, to vindicate the integ- 
rity of Demosthenes, in several epigrams which they made on the 

As for Demades, he did not long enjoy the new honors he now 
came in for, divine vengeance for the death of Demosthenes pursu- 
ing him into Macedonia, where he was justly put to death by those 
whom he had basely flattered. They were weary of him before, but 
at this time the guilt he lay under was manifest and undeniable. 
For some of his letters were intercepted, in which he had en- 
couraged Perdiccas 10 to fall upon Macedonia, and to save the Gre- 
cians, who, he said, hung only by an old rotten thread, meaning 
Antipater. Of this he was accused by Dinarchus, the Corinthian, 
and Cassander was so enraged, that he first slew his son in his 
bosom, and then gave orders to execute him; who might now at 
last, by his own extreme misfortunes, learn the lesson, that traitors, 
who make sale of their country, sell themselves first; a truth which 
Demosthenes had often foretold him, and he would never believe. 
Thus, Sosius, you have the life of Demosthenes, from such accounts 
as we have either read or heard concerning him. 

10 This, apparently, is one of Plutarch's slips of memory. It was not Perdiccas, but 
Antigonus; and so he tells the story himself in the life of Phocion. 


IT is generally said, that Helvia, the mother of Cicero, was both 
well born and lived a fair life; but of his father nothing is 
reported but in extremes. For whilst some would have him 
the son of a fuller, and educated in that trade, others carry back 
the origin of his family to Tullus Attius, an illustrious king of the 
Volscians, who waged war not without honor against the Romans. 
However, he who first of that house was surnamed Cicero seems 
to have been a person worthy to be remembered; since those who 
succeeded him not only did not reject, but were fond of the name, 
though vulgarly made a matter of reproach. For the Latins call a 
vetch Cicer, and a nick or dent at the tip of his nose, which resem- 
bled the opening in a vetch, gave him the surname of Cicero. 

Cicero, whose story I am writing, is said to have replied with 
spirit to some of his friends, who recommended him to lay aside 
or change the name when he first stood for office and engaged in 
politics, that he would make it his endeavor to render the name of 
Cicero more glorious than that of the Scauri and Catuli. And when 
he was quaestor in Sicily, and was making an offering of silver 
plate to the gods, and had inscribed his two names, Marcus and 
Tullius, instead of the third he jestingly told the artificer to en- 
grave the figure of a vetch by them. Thus much is told us about 
his name. 

Of his birth it is reported, that his mother was delivered without 
pain or labor, on the third of the new Calends, 1 the same day on 
which now the magistrates of Rome pray and sacrifice for the em- 
peror. It is said, also, that a vision appeared to his nurse, and fore- 
told the child she then suckled should afterwards become a great 
benefit to the Roman States. To such presages, which might in 
general be thought mere fancies and idle talk, he himself erelong 
gave the credit of true prophecies. For as soon as he was of an age 
1 The third of January. 


to begin to have lessons, he became so distinguished for his talent, 
and got such a name and reputation amongst the boys, that their 
fathers would often visit the school, that they might see young 
Cicero, and might be able to say that they themselves had witnessed 
the quickness and readiness in learning for which he was re- 
nowned. And the more rude among them used to be angry with 
their children, to see them, as they walked together, receiving Cicero 
with respect into the middle place. And being, as Plato would have 
the scholar-like and philosophical temper, eager for every kind of 
learning, and indisposed to no description of knowledge or in- 
struction, he showed, however, a more peculiar propensity to poetry; 
and there is a poem now extant, made by him when a boy, in tet- 
rameter verse, called Pontius Glaucus. And afterwards, when he 
applied himself more curiously to these accomplishments, he had 
the name of being not only the best orator, but also the best poet 
of Rome. And the glory of his rhetoric still remains, notwithstand- 
ing the many new modes in speaking since his time; but his verses 
are forgotten and out of all repute, so many ingenious poets having 
followed him. 

Leaving his juvenile studies, he became an auditor of Philo the 
Academic, whom the Romans, above all the other scholars of Clito- 
machus, admired for his eloquence and loved for his character. He 
also sought the company of the Mucii, who were eminent states- 
men and leaders in the senate, and acquired from them a knowl- 
edge of the laws. For some short time he served in arms under 
Sylla, in the Marsian war. But perceiving the commonwealth run- 
ning into factions, and from faction all things tending to an abso- 
lute monarchy, he betook himself to a retired and contemplative 
life, and conversing with the learned Greeks, devoted himself to 
study, till Sylla had obtained the government, and the common- 
wealth was in some kind of settlement. 

At this time, Chrysogonus, Sylla's emancipated slave, having 
laid an information about an estate belonging to one who was said 
to have been put to death by proscription, had bought it himself 
for two thousand drachmas. And when Roscius, the son and heir 
of the dead, complained, and demonstrated the estate to be worth 
two hundred and fifty talents, Sylla took it angrily to have his actions 


questioned, and preferred a process against Roscius for the murder 
of his father, Chrysogonus managing the evidence. None of the 
advocates durst assist him, but fearing the cruelty of Sylla, avoided 
the cause. The young man, being thus deserted, came for refuge 
to Cicero. Cicero's friends encouraged him, saying he was not 
likely ever to have a fairer and more honorable introduction to pub- 
lic life; he therefore undertook the defence, carried the cause, and 
got much renown for it. 

But fearing Sylla, he travelled into Greece, and gave it out that 
he did so for the benefit of his health. And indeed he was lean and 
meagre, and had such a weakness in his stomach, that he could 
take nothing but a spare and thin diet, and that not till late in the 
evening. His voice was loud and good, but so harsh and unman- 
aged that in vehemence and heat of speaking he always raised it to 
so high a tone, that there seemed to be reason to fear about his 

When he came to Athens, he was a hearer of Antiochus of 
Ascalon, with whose fluency and elegance of diction he was much 
taken, although he did not approve of his innovations in doctrine. 
For Antiochus had now fallen off from the New Academy, as they 
call it, and forsaken the sect of Carneades, whether that he was 
moved by the argument of manifestness 2 and the senses, or, as some 
say, had been led by feelings of rivalry and opposition to the follow- 
ers of Clitomachus and Philo to change his opinions, and in most 
things to embrace the doctrine of the Stoics. But Cicero rather 
affected and adhered to the doctrines of the New Academy; and 
purposed with himself, if he should be disappointed of any employ- 
ment in the commonwealth, to retire hither from pleading and 
political affairs, and to pass his life with quiet in the study of 

But after he had received the news of Sylla's death, and his body, 
strengthened again by exercise, was come to a vigorous habit, his 
voice managed and rendered sweet and full to the ear and pretty 
well brought into keeping with his general constitution, his friends 

1 According to a proposed correction, "by the manifestness of the senses." But the 
enargeia, or manifettness of things seen and felt, seems to be the recognized name of 
the argument against the sceptical views of the New Academy as to the possibility of 
certain knowledge. See Cicero's Academics, II. 6. 


at Rome earnestly soliciting him by letters, and Antiochus also urg- 
ing him to return to public affairs, he again prepared for use his 
orator's instrument of rhetoric, and summoned into action his po- 
litical faculties, diligently exercising himself in declamations, and 
attending the most celebrated rhetoricians of the time. He sailed 
from Athens for Asia and Rhodes. Amongst the Asian masters, he 
conversed with Xenocles of Adramyttium, Dionysius of Magnesia, 
and Menippus of Caria; at Rhodes, he studied oratory with Apol- 
lonius, the son of Molon, and philosophy with Posidonius. Apol- 
lonius, we are told, not understanding Latin, requested Cicero to 
declaim in Greek. He complied willingly, thinking that his faults 
would thus be better pointed out to him. And after he finished, 
all his other hearers were astonished, and contended who should 
praise him most, but Apollonius, who had shown no signs of excite- 
ment whilst he was hearing him, so also now, when it was over, 
sate musing for some considerable time, without any remark. And 
when Cicero was discomposed at this, he said, "You have my praise 
and admiration, Cicero, and Greece my pity and commiseration, 
since those arts and that eloquence which are the only glories that 
remain to her, will now be transferred by you to Rome." 

And now when Cicero, full of expectation, was again bent upon 
political affairs, a certain oracle blunted the edge of his inclination; 
for consulting the god of Delphi how he should attain most glory, 
the Pythoness answered, by making his own genius and not the 
opinion of the people the guide of his life; and therefore at first he 
passed his time in Rome cautiously, and was very backward in pre- 
tending to public offices, so that he was at that time in little esteem, 
and had got the names, so readily given by low and ignorant people 
in Rome, of Greek and Scholar. But when his own desire of fame 
and the eagerness of his father and relations had made him take in 
earnest to pleading, he made no slow or gentle advance to the first 
place, but shone out in full lustre at once, and far surpassed all the 
advocates of the bar. At first, it is said, he, as well as Demosthenes, 
was defective in his delivery, and on that account paid much atten- 
tion to the instructions, sometimes of Roscius the comedian, and 
sometimes of ^sop the tragedian. They tell of this ^Esop, that 
whilst he was representing on the theatre Atreus deliberating the 


revenge of Thyestes, he was so transported beyond himself in the 
heat of action, that he struck with his sceptre one of the servants, 
who was running across the stage, so violently, that he laid him 
dead upon the place. And such afterwards was Cicero's delivery, 
that it did not a little contribute to render his eloquence persuasive. 
He used to ridicule loud speakers, saying that they shouted be- 
cause they could not speak, like lame men who get on horseback 
because they cannot walk. And his readiness and address in sar- 
casm, and generally in witty sayings, was thought to suit a pleader 
very well, and to be highly attractive, but his using it to excess 
offended many, and gave him the repute of ill nature. 

He was appointed quaestor in a great scarcity of corn, and had 
Sicily for his province, where, though at first he displeased many, 
by compelling them to send their provisions to Rome, yet after they 
had had experience of his care, justice, and clemency, they honored 
him more than ever they did any of their governors before. It hap- 
pened, also, that some young Romans of good and noble families, 
charged with neglect of discipline and misconduct in military service, 
were brought before the prxtor in Sicily. Cicero undertook their 
defence, which he conducted admirably, and got them acquitted. 
So returning to Rome with a great opinion of himself for these 
things, a ludicrous incident befell him, as he tells us himself. Meet- 
ing an eminent citizen in Campania, whom he accounted his friend, 
he asked him what the Romans said and thought of his actions, as 
if the whole city had been filled with the glory of what he had done. 
His friend asked him in reply, "Where is it you have been, Cicero?" 
This for the time utterly mortified and cast him down, to perceive 
that the report of his actions had sunk into the city of Rome as into 
an immense ocean, without any visible effect or result in reputation. 
And afterwards considering with himself that the glory he con- 
tended for was an infinite thing, and that there was no fixed end 
nor measure in its pursuit, he abated much of his ambitious thoughts. 
Nevertheless, he was always excessively pleased with his own praise, 
and continued to the very last to be passionately fond of glory; 
which often interfered with the prosecution of his wisest resolutions. 

On beginning to apply himself more resolutely to public business, 
he remarked it as an unreasonable and absurd thing that artificers, 


using vessels and instruments inanimate, should know the name, 
place, and use of every one of them, and yet the statesman, whose 
instruments for carrying out public measures are men, should be 
negligent and careless in the knowledge of persons. And so he not 
only acquainted himself with the names, but also knew the particu- 
lar place where every one of the more eminent citizens dwelt, what 
lands he possessed, the friends he made use of, and those that were 
of his neighborhood, and when he travelled on any road in Italy, he 
could readily name and show the estates and seats of his friends 
and acquaintances. Having so small an estate, though a sufficient 
competency for his own expenses, it was much wondered at that 
he took neither fees nor gifts from his clients, and more especially, 
that he did not do so when he undertook the prosecution of Verres. 
This Verres, who had been pranor of Sicily, and stood charged by 
the Sicilians of many evil practices during his government there, 
Cicero succeeded in getting condemned, not by speaking, but in a 
manner by holding his tongue. For the prxtors, favoring Verres, 
had deferred the trial by several adjournments to the last day, in 
which it was evident there could not be sufficient time for the advo- 
cates to be heard, and the cause brought to an issue. Cicero, there- 
fore, came forward, and said there was no need of speeches; and 
after producing and examining witnesses, he required the judges to 
proceed to sentence. However, many witty sayings are on record, 
as having been used by Cicero on the occasion. When a man named 
Carcilius, one of the freed slaves, who was said to be given to Jewish 
practices, would have put by the Sicilians, and undertaken the prose- 
cution of Verres himself, Cicero asked, "What has a Jew to do with 
swine?" verres being the Roman word for boar. And when Verres 
began to reproach Cicero with effeminate living, "You ought," re- 
plied he, "to use this language at home, to your sons;" Verres having 
a son who had fallen into disgraceful courses. Hortensius the orator, 
not daring directly to undertake the defence of Verres, was yet per- 
suaded to appear for him at the laying on of the fine, and received 
an ivory sphinx for his reward; and when Cicero, in some passage 
of his speech, obliquely reflected on him, and Hortensius told him 
he was not skilful in solving riddles, "No," said Cicero, "and yet 
you have the Sphinx in your house!" 


Verres was thus convicted; though Cicero, who set the fine at 
seventy-five myriads,* lay under the suspicion of being corrupted by 
bribery to lessen the sum. But the Sicilians, in testimony of their 
gratitude, came and brought him all sorts of presents from the island, 
when he was ardile; of which he made no private profit himself, but 
used their generosity only to reduce the public price of provisions. 

He had a very pleasant seat at Arpi, 4 he had also a farm near 
Naples, and another about Pompeii, but neither of any great value. 
The portion of his wife, Terentia, amounted to ten myriads, and 
he had a bequest valued at nine myriads of denarii; upon these he 
lived in a liberal but temperate style, with the learned Greeks and 
Romans that were his familiars. He rarely, if at any time, sat down 
to meat till sunset, and that not so much on account of business, as 
for his health and the weakness of his stomach. He was otherwise in 
the care of his body nice and delicate, appointing himself, for ex- 
ample, a set number of walks and rubbings. And after this manner 
managing the habit of his body, he brought it in time to be health- 
ful, and capable of supporting many great fatigues and trials. His 
father's house he made over to his brother, living himself near the 
Palatine hill, that he might not give the trouble of long journeys 
to those that made suit to him. And, indeed, there were not fewer 
daily appearing at his door, to do their court to him, than there 
were that came to Crassus for his riches, or to Pompey for his power 
amongst the soldiers, these being at that time the two men of the 
greatest repute and influence in Rome. Nay, even Pompey himself 
used to pay court to Cicero, and Cicero's public actions did much to 
establish Pompey 's authority and reputation in the state. 

Numerous distinguished competitors stood with him for the 
praetor's office; but he was chosen before them all, and managed the 
decision of causes with justice and integrity. It is related that 
Licinius Macer, a man himself of great power in the city, and sup- 
ported also by the assistance of Crassus, was accused before him of 
extortion, and that, in confidence on his own interest and the dili- 

' Seventy-five ten thousands, i. e. 750,000 drachmas; Plutarch most likely counting 
the drachma as equivalent to the denarius. But the sum docs not agree with the figures 
given in Cicero's own orations, and must be regarded as quite uncertain. 

4 Plutarch calls it Arpi, which is far from Rome, in Apulia, but it is, of course, 
Arpinum, Cicero's native place. 


gence of his friends, whilst the judges were debating about the sen- 
tence, he went to his house, where hastily trimming his hair and 
putting on a clean gown, as already acquitted, he was setting of] 
again to go to the Forum; but at his hall door meeting Crassus, who 
told him that he was condemned by all the votes, he went in again, 
threw himself upon his bed, and died immediately. This verdict 
was considered very creditable to Cicero, as showing his careful 
management of the courts of justice. On another occasion, Vatinius. 
a man of rude manners and often insolent in court to the magistrates, 
who had large swellings on his neck, came before his tribunal and 
made some request, and on Cicero's desiring further time to con- 
sider it, told him that he himself would have made no question 
about it, had he been pranor. Cicero, turning quickly upon him, 
answered, "But I, you see, have not the neck that you have." * 

When there were but two or three days remaining in his office. 
Manilius was brought before him, and charged with peculation. 
Manilius had the good opinion and favor of the common people, 
and was thought to be prosecuted only for Pompey's sake, whose 
particular friend he was. And therefore, when he asked a space 
of time before his trial, and Cicero allowed him but one day, and 
that the next only, the common people grew highly offended, be- 
cause it had been the custom of the praetors to allow ten days at 
least to the accused: and the tribunes of the people having called 
him before the people, and accused him, he, desiring to be heard, 
said, that as he had always treated the accused with equity and hu- 
manity, as far as the law allowed, so he thought it hard to deny 
the same to Manilius, and that he had studiously appointed that day 
of which alone, as prartor, he was master, and that it was not the 
part of those that were desirous to help him, to cast the judgment 
of his cause upon another praetor. These things being said made 
a wonderful change in the people, and, commending him much for 
it, they desired that he himself would undertake the defence of 
Manilius; which he willingly consented to, and that principally for 
the sake of Pompey, who was absent. And, accordingly, taking 

•The strong, thick neck was both in Greek and Latin the sign of the pushing, 
unscrupulous man, who would take no refusal and stick at no doubt or difficulty. So 
in the life of Marius. 

226 plutarch's lives 

his place before the people again, he delivered a bold invective upon 
the oligarchical party and on those who were jealous of Pompey. 

Yet he was preferred to the consulship no less by the nobles than 
the common people, for the good of the city; and both parties 
jointly assisted his promotion, upon the following reasons. The 
change of government made by Sylla, which at first seemed a sense- 
less one, by time and usage had now come to be considered by the 
people no unsatisfactory setdement. But there were some that en- 
deavored to alter and subvert the whole present state of affairs, not 
from any good motives, but for their own private gain; and Pompey 
being at this time employed in the wars with the kings of Pontus 
and Armenia, there was no sufficient force at Rome to suppress any 
attempts at a revolution. These people had for their head a man of 
bold, daring, and restless character, Lucius Catiline, who was ac- 
cused, besides other great offences, of deflouring his virgin daughter, 
and killing his own brother; for which latter crime, fearing to be 
prosecuted at law, he persuaded Sylla to set him down, as though he 
were yet alive, amongst those that were to be put to death by pro- 
scription. This man the profligate citizens choosing for their cap- 
tain, gave faith to one another, amongst other pledges, by sacrificing 
a man and eating of his flesh; and a great part of the young men 
of the city were corrupted by him, he providing for every one 
pleasures, drink, and women, and profusely supplying the expense 
of these debauches. Etruria, moreover, had all been excited to re- 
volt, as well as a great part of Gaul within the Alps. But Rome 
itself was in the most dangerous inclination to change, on account 
of the unequal distribution of wealth and property, those of highest 
rank and greatest spirit having impoverished themselves by shows, 
entertainments, ambition of offices, and sumptuous buildings, and 
the riches of the city having thus fallen into the hands of mean and 
low-born persons. So that there wanted but a slight impetus to set 
all in motion, it being in the power of every daring man to overturn 
a sickly commonwealth. 

Catiline, however, being desirous of procuring a strong position 
to carry out his designs, stood for the consulship, and had great hopes 
of success, thinking he should be appointed, with Caius Antonius 
as his colleague, who was a man fit to lead neither in a good cause nor 


in a bad one, but might be a valuable accession to another's power. 
These things the greatest part of the good and honest citizens appre- 
hending, put Cicero upon standing for the consulship; whom the 
people readily receiving, Catiline was put by, so that he and Caius 
Antonius were chosen, although amongst the competitors he was 
the only man descended from a father of the equestrian, and not 
of the senatorial order. 

Though the designs of Catiline were not yet publicly known, yet 
considerable preliminary troubles immediately followed upon the 
consulship. For, on the one side, those who were disqualified by the 
laws of Sylla from holding any public offices, being neither incon- 
siderable in power nor in number, came forward as candidates and 
caressed the people for them; speaking many things truly and justly 
against the tyranny of Sylla, only that they disturbed the government 
at an improper and unseasonable time; on the other hand, the 
tribunes of the people proposed laws to the same purpose, consti- 
tuting a commission of ten persons, with unlimited powers, in whom 
as supreme governors should be vested the right of selling the pub- 
lic lands of Italy and Syria and Pompey's new conquests, of judging 
and banishing whom they pleased, of planting colonies, of taking 
moneys out of the treasury, and of levying and paying what soldiers 
should be thought needful. And several of the nobility favored this 
law, but especially Caius Antonius, Cicero's colleague, in hopes of 
being one of the ten. But what gave the greatest fear to the nobles 
was, that he was thought privy to the conspiracy of Catiline, and 
not to dislike it, because of his great debts. 

Cicero, endeavoring in the first place to provide a remedy against 
this danger, procured a decree assigning to him the province of 
Macedonia, he himself declining that of Gaul, which was offered to 
him. And this piece of favor so completely won over Antonius, that 
he was ready to second and respond to, like a hired player, what- 
ever Cicero said for the good of the country. And now, having made 
his colleague thus tame and tractable, he could with greater courage 
attack the conspirators. And, therefore, in the senate, making an 
oration against the law of the ten commissioners, he so confounded 
those who proposed it, that they had nothing to reply. And when 
they again endeavored, and, having prepared things beforehand, 

228 plutarch's lives 

had called the consuls before the assembly of the people, Cicero, 
fearing nothing, went first out, and commanded the senate to follow 
him, and not only succeeded in throwing out the law, but so entirely 
overpowered the tribunes by his oratory, that they abandoned all 
thought of their other projects. 

For Cicero, it may be said, was the one man above all others, 
who made the Romans feel how great a charm eloquence lends 
to what is good, and how invincible justice is, if it be well spoken; 
and that it is necessary for him who would dexterously govern a 
commonwealth, in action, always to prefer that which is honest 
before that which is popular, and in speaking, to free the right and 
useful measure from every thing that may occasion offence. An in- 
cident occurred in the theatre, during his consulship, which showed 
what his speaking could do. For whereas formerly the knights of 
Rome were mingled in the theatre with the common people, and 
took their places amongst them as it happened, Marcus Otho, when 
he was praetor, was the first who distinguished them from the other 
citizens, and appointed them a proper seat, which they still enjoy 
as their special place in the theatre. This the common people took 
as an indignity done to them, and, therefore, when Otho appeared 
in the theatre, they hissed him; the knights, on the contrary, re- 
ceived him with loud clapping. The people repeated and increased 
their hissing; the knights continued their clapping. Upon this, turn- 
ing upon one another, they broke out into insulting words, so that 
the theatre was in great disorder. Cicero, being informed of it, came 
himself to the theatre, and summoning the people into the temple of 
Bellona, he so effectually chid and chastised them for it, that, again 
returning into the theatre, they received Otho with loud applause, 
contending with the knights who should give him the greatest 
demonstrations of honor and respect. 

The conspirators with Catiline, at first cowed and disheartened, 
began presently to take courage again. And assembling themselves 
together, they exhorted one another boldly to undertake the design 
before Pompey's return, who, as it was said, was now on his march 
with his forces for Rome. But the old soldiers of Sylla were Catiline's 
chief stimulus to action. They had been disbanded all about Italy, 
but the greatest number and the fiercest of them lay scattered among 


the cities of Etruria, entertaining themselves with dreams of new 
plunder and rapine amongst the hoarded riches of Italy. These, 
having for their leader Manlius, who had served with distinction 
in the wars under Sylla, joined themselves to Catiline, and came to 
Rome to assist him with their suffrages at the election. For he again 
pretended to the consulship, having resolved to kill Cicero in a 
tumult at the elections. Also, the divine powers seemed to give 
intimation of the coming troubles, by earthquakes, thunderbolts, 
and strange appearances. Nor was human evidence wanting, certain 
enough in itself, though not sufficient for the conviction of the noble 
and powerful Catiline. Therefore Cicero, deferring the day of elec- 
tion, summoned Catiline into the senate, and questioned him as to 
the charges made against him. Catiline, believing there were many 
in the senate desirous of change, and to give a specimen of him- 
self to the conspirators present, returned an audacious answer, "What 
harm," said he, "when I see two bodies, the one lean and consump- 
tive with a head, the other great and strong without one, if I put 
a head to that body which wants one?" This covert representation 
of the senate and the people excited yet greater apprehensions in 
Cicero. He put on armor, and was attended from his house by the 
noble citizens in a body; and a number of the young men went 
with him into the Plain. Here, designedly letting his tunic slip 
partly off from his shoulders, he showed his armor underneath, and 
discovered his danger to the spectators; who, being much moved at 
it, gathered round about him for his defence. At length, Catiline 
was by a general suffrage again put by, and Silanus and Murena 
chosen consuls. 

Not long after this, Catiline's soldiers got together in a body in 
Etruria, and began to form themselves into companies, the day ap- 
pointed for the design being near at hand. About midnight, some 
of the principal and most powerful citizens of Rome, Marcus Cras- 
sus, Marcus Marcellus, and Scipio Mettellus went to Cicero's house, 
where, knocking at the gate, and calling up the porter, they com- 
manded him to awake Cicero, and tell him they were there. The 
business was this: Crassus's porter after supper had delivered to 
him letters brought by an unknown person. Some of them were 
directed to others, but one to Crassus, without a name; this only 


Crassus read, which informed him that there was a great slaughter 
intended by Catiline, and advised him to leave the city. The others 
he did not open, but went with them immediately by Cicero, being 
affrighted at the danger, and to free himself of the suspicion he lay 
under for his familiarity with Catiline. Cicero, considering the mat- 
ter, summoned the senate at break of day. The letters he brought 
with him, and delivered them to those to whom they were directed, 
commanding them to read them publicly; they all alike contained 
an account of the conspiracy. And when Quintus Arrius, a man 
of praetorian dignity, recounted to them, how soldiers were collect- 
ing in companies in Etruria, and Manlius stated to be in motion with 
a large force, hovering about those cities, in expectation of intelli- 
gence from Rome, the senate made a decree, to place all in the hands 
of the consuls, who should undertake the conduct of every thing, 
and do their best to save the state. 6 This was not a common thing, 
but only done by the senate in case of imminent danger. 

After Cicero had received this power, he committed all affairs 
outside to Quintus Metellus, but the management of the city he 
kept in his own hands. Such a numerous attendance guarded him 
every day when he went abroad, that the greatest part of the market- 
place 7 was filled with his train when he entered it. Catiline, impatient 
of further delay, resolved himself to break forth and go to Manlius, 
but he commanded Marcius and Cethegus to take their swords, 
and go early in the morning to Cicero's gates, as if only intending 
to salute him, and then to fall upon him and slay him. This a noble 
lady, Fulvia, coming by night, discovered to Cicero, bidding him 
beware of Cethegus and Marcius. They came by break of day, and 
being denied entrance, made an outcry and disturbance at the gates, 
which excited all the more suspicion. But Cicero, going forth, sum- 
moned the senate into the temple of Jupiter Stator, which stands at 
the end of the Sacred Street, going up to the Palatine. And when 
Catiline with others of his party also came, as intending to make 
his defence, none of the senators would sit by him, but all of them 
left the bench where he had placed himself. And when he began 

1 Dent operam consules ne quid rcspublica dctrimenti capiat," the usual form for 
suspending other authority, and arming the consuls with discretionary power; much 
the same as placing the town in a state of siege. 

' The Forum. 


to speak, they interrupted him with outcries. At length Cicero, 
standing up, commanded him to leave the city, for since one gov- 
erned the commonwealth with words, the other with arms, it was 
necessary there should be a wall betwixt them. Catiline, therefore, 
immediately left the town, with three hundred armed men; and 
assuming, as if he had been a magistrate, the rods, axes, and military 
ensigns, he went to Manlius, and having got together a body of near 
twenty thousand men, with these he marched to the several cities, 
endeavoring to persuade or force them to revolt. So it being now 
come to open war, Antonius was sent forth to fight him. 

The remainder of those in the city whom he had corrupted, 
Cornelius Lent ul us kept together and encouraged. He had the sur- 
name Sura, and was a man of a noble family, but a dissolute liver, 
who for his debauchery was formerly turned out of the senate, and 
was now holding the office of prauor for the second time, as the 
custom is with those who desire to regain the dignity of senator. It 
is said that he got the surname Sura upon this occasion; being 
quxstor in the time of Sylla, he had lavished away and consumed a 
great quantity of the public moneys, at which Sylla being provoked, 
called him to give an account in the senate; he appeared with great 
coolness and contempt, and said he had no account to give, but they 
might take this, holding up the calf of his leg, as boys do at ball, 
when they have missed. Upon which he was surnamed Sura, sura 
being the Roman word for the calf of the leg. Being at another 
time prosecuted at law, and having bribed some of the judges, he 
escaped only by two votes, and complained of the needless expense 
he had gone to in paying for a second, as one would have sufficed 
to acquit him. This man, such in his own nature, and now inflamed 
by Catiline, false prophets and fortune-tellers had also corrupted 
with vain hopes, quoting to him fictitious verses and oracles, and 
proving from the Sibylline prophecies that there were three of the 
name Cornelius designed by fate to be monarchs of Rome; two of 
whom, Cinna and Sylla, had already fulfilled the decree, and that 
divine fortune was now advancing with the gift of monarchy for 
the remaining third Cornelius; and that therefore he ought by all 
means to accept it, and not lose opportunity by delay, as Catiline 
had done. 

232 plutarch's lives 

Lentulus, therefore, designed no mean or trivial matter, for he 
had resolved to kill the whole senate, and as many other citizens 
as he could, to fire the city, and spare nobody, except only Pompey's 
children, intending to seize and keep them as pledges of his recon- 
ciliation with Pompey. For there was then a common and strong 
report that Pompey was on his way homeward from his great expe- 
dition. The night appointed for the design was one of the Satur- 
nalia; swords, flax, and sulphur they carried and hid in the house 
of Cethegus; and providing one hundred men, and dividing the city 
into as many parts, they had allotted to every one singly his proper 
place, so that in a moment many kindling the fire, the city might be 
in a flame all together. Others were appointed to stop up the aque- 
ducts, and to kill those who should endeavor to carry water to put 
it out. Whilst these plans were preparing, it happened there were 
two ambassadors from the Allobroges staying in Rome; a nation 
at that time in a distressed condition, and very uneasy under the 
Roman government. These Lentulus and his party judging useful 
instruments to move and seduce Gaul to revolt, admitted into the 
conspiracy, and they gave them letters to their own magistrates, and 
letters to Catiline; in those they promised liberty, in these they ex- 
horted Catiline to set all slaves free, and to bring them along with 
him to Rome. They sent also to accompany them to Catiline, one 
Titus, a native of Croton, who was to carry those letters to him. 

These counsels of inconsidering men, who conversed together 
over wine and with women, Cicero watched with sober industry 
and forethought, and with most admirable sagacity, having several 
emissaries abroad, who observed and traced with him all that was 
done, and keeping also a secret correspondence with many who pre- 
tended to join in the conspiracy. He thus knew all the discourse 
which passed betwixt them and the strangers; and lying in wait 
for them by night, he took the Crotonian with his letters, the 
ambassadors of the Allobroges acting secretly in concert with him. 

By break of day, he summoned the senate into the temple of 
Concord, where he read the letters and examined the informers. 
Junius Silanus further stated, that several persons had heard Cethe- 
gus say, that three consuls and four praetors were to be slain; Piso, 
also, a person of consular dignity testified other matters of the like 


nature; and Caius Sulpicius, one of the prauors, being sent to Cethe- 
gus's house, found there a quantity of darts and of armor, and a 
still greater number of swords and daggers, all recently whetted. 
At length, the senate decreeing indemnity to the Crotonian upon his 
confession of the whole matter, Lentulus was convicted, abjured his 
office (for he was then prastor), and put off his robe edged with 
purple in the senate, changing it for another garment more agree- 
able to his present circumstances. He, thereupon, with the rest of 
his confederates present, was committed to the charge of the prxtors 
in free custody. 

It being evening, and the common people in crowds expecting 
without, Cicero went forth to them, and told them what was done, 
and then, attended by them, went to the house of a friend and 
near neighbor; for his own was taken up by the women, who were 
celebrating with secret rites the feast of the goddess whom the 
Romans call the Good, and the Greeks, the Women's goddess. For 
a sacrifice is annually performed to her in the consul's house, either 
by his wife or mother, in the presence of the vestal virgins. And 
having got into his friend's house privately, a few only being present, 
he began to deliberate how he should treat these men. The sever- 
est, and the only punishment fit for such heinous crimes, he was 
somewhat shy and fearful of inflicting, as well from the clemency 
of his nature, as also lest he should be thought to exercise his author- 
ity too insolently, and to treat too harshly men of the noblest birth 
and most powerful friendships in the city; and yet, if he should use 
them more mildly, he had a dreadful prospect of danger from them. 
For there was no likelihood, if they suffered less than death, they 
would be reconciled, but rather, adding new rage to their former 
wickedness, they would rush into every kind of audacity, while he 
himself, whose character for courage already did not stand very high 
with the multitude, would be thought guilty of the greatest coward- 
ice and want of manliness. 

Whilst Cicero was doubting what course to take, a portent hap- 
pened to the women in their sacrificing. For on the altar, where the 
fire seemed wholly extinguished, a great and bright flame issued 
forth from the ashes of the burnt wood; at which others were 
affrighted, but the holy virgins called to Terentia, Cicero's wife, and 


bade her haste to her husband, and command him to execute what 
he had resolved for the good of his country, for the goddess had 
sent a great light to the increase of his safety and glory. Terentia, 
therefore, as she was otherwise in her own nature neither tender- 
hearted nor timorous, but a woman eager for distinction (who, as 
Cicero himself says, would rather thrust herself into his public 
affairs, than communicate her domestic matters to him), told him 
these things, and excited him against the conspirators. So also did 
Quintus his brother, and Publius Nigidius, one of his philosophical 
friends, whom he often made use of in his greatest and most weighty 
affairs of state. 

The next day, a debate arising in the senate about the punishment 
of the men, Silanus, being the first who was asked his opinion, 
said, it was fit they should be all sent to the prison, and there suffer 
the utmost penalty. To him all consented in order till it came to 
Caius Caesar, who was afterwards dictator. He was then but a 
young man, and only at the outset of his career, but had already 
directed his hopes and policy to that course by which he afterwards 
changed the Roman state into a monarchy. Of this others foresaw 
nothing; but Cicero had seen reason for strong suspicion, though 
without obtaining any sufficient means of proof. And there were 
some indeed that said that he was very near being discovered, and 
only just escaped him; others are of opinion that Cicero voluntarily 
overlooked and neglected the evidence against him, for fear of his 
friends and power; for it was very evident to everybody, that if 
Caesar was to be accused with the conspirators, they were more likely 
to be saved with him, than he to be punished with them. 

When, therefore, it came to Caesar's turn to give his opinion, he 
stood up and proposed that the conspirators should not be put to 
death, but their estates confiscated, and their persons confined in 
such cities in Italy as Cicero should approve, there to be kept in 
custody till Catiline was conquered. To this sentence, as it was the 
most moderate, and he that delivered it a most powerful speaker, 
Cicero himself gave no small weight, for he stood up and, turning 
the scale on either side, spoke in favor partly of the former, partly 
of Caesar's sentence. And all Cicero's friends, judging Caesar's sen- 
tence most expedient for Cicero, because he would incur the less 


blame if the conspirators were not put to death, chose rather the 
latter; so that Silanus, also, changing his mind, retracted his opinion, 
and said he had not declared for capital, but only the utmost pun- 
ishment, which to a Roman senator is imprisonment. The first man 
who spoke against Caesar's motion was Catulus Lutatius. Cato fol- 
lowed, and so vehemently urged in his speech the strong suspicion 
about Caesar himself, and so filled the senate with anger and resolu- 
tion, that a decree was passed for the execution of the conspirators. 
But Caesar opposed the confiscation of their goods, not thinking it 
fair that those who had rejected the mildest part of his sentence 
should avail themselves of the severest. And when many insisted 
upon it, he appealed to the tribunes, but they would do nothing; 
till Cicero himself yielding, remitted that part of the sentence. 

After this, Cicero went out with the senate to the conspirators; 
they were not all together in one place, but the several praetors had 
then, some one, some another, in custody. And first he took Len- 
tulus from the Palatine, and brought him by the Sacred Street, 
through the middle of the market-place, a circle of the most emi- 
nent citizens encompassing and protecting him. The people, af- 
frighted at what was doing, passed along in silence, especially the 
young men; as if, with fear and trembling, they were undergoing a 
rite of initiation into some ancient, sacred mysteries of aristocratic 
power. Thus passing from the market-place, and coming to the gaol, 
he delivered Lentulus to the officer, and commanded him to execute 
him; and after him Cethegus, and so all the rest in order, he brought 
and delivered up to execution. And when he saw many of the con- 
spirators in the market-place, still standing together in companies, 
ignorant of what was done, and waiting for the night, supposing the 
men were still alive and in a possibility of being rescued, he called 
out in a loud voice, and said, "They did live"; for so the Romans, 
to avoid inauspicious language, name those that are dead. 

It was now evening, when he returned from the market-place 
to his own house, the citizens no longer attending him with silence, 
nor in order, but receiving him, as he passed, with acclamations and 
applauses, and saluting him as the saviour and founder of his coun- 
try. A bright light shone through the streets from the lamps and 
torches set up at the doors, and the women showed lights from the 

236 plutarch's lives 

tops of the houses, to honor Cicero, and to behold him returning 
home with a splendid train of the most principal citizens; amongst 
whom were many who had conducted great wars, celebrated tri- 
umphs, and added to the possessions of the Roman empire, both by 
sea and land. These, as they passed along with him, acknowledged 
to one another, that though the Roman people were indebted to 
several officers and commanders of that age for riches, spoils, and 
power, yet to Cicero alone they owed the safety and security of all 
these, for delivering them from so great and imminent a danger. 
For though it might seem no wonderful thing to prevent the design, 
and punish the conspirators, yet to defeat the greatest of all conspira- 
cies with so little disturbance, trouble, and commotion, was very 
extraordinary. For the greater part of those who had flocked in to 
Catiline, as soon as they heard the fate of Lentulus and Cethegus, 
left and forsook him, and he himself, with his remaining forces, 
joining battle with Antonius, was destroyed with his army. 

And yet there were some who were very ready both to speak ill 
of Cicero, and to do him hurt for these actions; and they had for 
their leaders some of the magistrates of the ensuing year, as Carsar, 
who was one of the prators, and Metellus and Bestia, the tribunes. 
These, entering upon their office some few days before Cicero's con- 
sulate expired, would not permit him to make any address to the 
people, but, throwing the benches before the Rostra, hindered his 
speaking, telling him he might, if he pleased, make the oath of with- 
drawal from office, and then come down again. Cicero, accordingly, 
accepting the conditions, came forward to make his withdrawal; and 
silence being made, he recited his oath, not in the usual, but in a 
new and peculiar form, namely, that he had saved his country, and 
preserved the empire; the truth of which oath all the people con- 
firmed with theirs. Caesar and the tribunes, all the more exasper- 
ated by this, endeavored to create him further trouble, and for this 
purpose proposed a law for calling Pompey home with his army, to 
put an end to Cicero's usurpation. But it was a very great advan- 
tage for Cicero and the whole commonwealth that Cato was at that 
time one of the tribunes. For he, being of equal power with the rest, 
and of greater reputation, could oppose their designs. He easily de- 
feated their other projects, and, in an oration to the people, so highly 


extolled Cicero's consulate, that the greatest honors were decreed 
him, and he was publicly declared the Father of his Country, which 
title he seems to have obtained, the first man who did so, when Cato 
gave it him in this address to the people. 

At this time, therefore, his authority was very great in the city; 
but he created himself much envy, and offended very many, not 
by any evil action, but because he was always lauding and magni- 
fying himself. For neither senate, nor assembly of the people, nor 
court of judicature could meet, in which he was not heard to talk of 
Catiline and Lentulus. Indeed, he also filled his books and writings 
with his own praises, to such an excess as to render a style, in itself 
most pleasant and delightful, nauseous and irksome to his hearers; 
this ungrateful humor, like a disease, always cleaving to him. Never- 
theless, though he was intemperately fond of his own glory, he was 
very free from envying others, and was, on the contrary, most lib- 
erally profuse in commending both the ancients and his contempo- 
raries, as any one may see in his writings. And many such sayings 
of his are also remembered; as that he called Aristotle a river of 
flowing gold, and said of Plato's Dialogues, that if Jupiter were to 
speak, it would be in language like theirs. He used to call Theo- 
phrastus his special luxury. And being asked which of Demos- 
thenes's orations he liked best, he answered, the longest. And yet 
some affected imitators of Demosthenes have complained of some 
words that occur in one of his letters, to the effect that Demosthenes 
sometimes falls asleep in his speeches; forgetting the many high 
encomiums he continually passes upon him, and the compliment he 
paid him when he named the most elaborate of all his orations, 
those he wrote against Antony, Philippics. And as for the eminent 
men of his own time, either in eloquence or philosophy, there was 
not one of them whom he did not, by writing or speaking favorably 
of him, render more illustrious. He obtained of Caesar, when in 
power, the Roman citizenship for Cratippus, the Peripatetic, and got 
the court of Areopagus, by public decree, to request his stay at 
Athens, for the instruction of their youth, and the honor of their 
city. There are letters extant from Cicero to Herodes, and others to 
his son, in which he recommends the study of philosophy under 
Cratippus. There is one in which he blames Gorgias, the rhetorician, 

238 plutarch's lives 

for enticing his son into luxury and drinking, and, therefore, forbids 
him his company. And this, and one other to Pelops, the Byzantine, 
are the only two of his Greek epistles which seem to be written in 
anger. In the first, he justly reflects on Gorgias, if he were what he 
was thought to be, a dissolute and profligate character; but in the 
other, he rather meanly expostulates and complains with Pelops, for 
neglecting to procure him a decree of certain honors from the 

Another illustration of his love of praise is the way in which 
sometimes, to make his orations more striking, he neglected de- 
corum and dignity. When Munatius, who had escaped conviction 
by his advocacy, immediately prosecuted his friend Sabinus, he said 
in the warmth of his resentment, "Do you suppose you were ac- 
quitted for your own merits, Munatius, and was it not that I so dark- 
ened the case, that the court could not see your guilt?" When from 
the Rostra he had made an eulogy on Marcus Crassus, with much ap- 
plause, and within a few days after again as publicly reproached 
him, Crassus called to him, and said, "Did not you yourself two 
days ago, in this same place, commend me?" "Yes," said Cicero, "I 
exercised my eloquence in declaiming upon a bad subject." At an- 
other time, Crassus had said that no one of his family had ever lived 
beyond sixty years of age, and afterwards denied it, and asked, 
"What should put it into my head to say so?" "It was to gain the 
people's favor," answered Cicero; "you knew how glad they would 
be to hear it." When Crassus expressed admiration of the Stoic 
doctrine, that the good man is always rich, "Do you not mean," 
said Cicero, "their doctrine that all things belong to the wise?" 
Crassus being generally accused of covetousness. One of Crassus's 
sons, who was thought so exceedingly like a man of the name of 
Axius as to throw some suspicion on his mother's honor, made a 
successful speech in the senate. Cicero on being asked how he liked 
it, replied with the Greek words, Axios Crassou.* 

When Crassus was about to go into Syria, he desired to leave 

* Which may mean, cither worthy of Crassus, or Crassus's son Axius. The jest on 
the Stoic doctrines is also rather obscure. Crassus appears to have praised the first 
dictum in its proper philosophical sense; that the only truly rich man is he who is 
virtuous; Cicero suggests, that a text which is more to Crassus's purpose is the other, 
that the wise man is the possessor of all things, that is, may make himself as rich as he 


Cicero rather his friend than his enemy, and, therefore, one day 
saluting him, told him he would come and sup with him, which the 
other as courteously received. Within a few days after, on some of 
Cicero's acquaintances interceding for Vatinius, as desirous of rec- 
onciliation and friendship, for he was then his enemy, "What," he 
replied, "does Vatinius also wish to come and sup with me?" Such 
was his way with Crassus. When Vatinius, who had swellings in his 
neck, was pleading a cause, he called him the tumid orator; and 
having been told by some one that Vatinius was dead, on hearing 
presently after that he was alive, "May the rascal perish," said he, 
"for his news not being true." 

Upon Caesar's bringing forward a law for the division of the 
lands in Campania amongst the soldiers, many in the senate opposed 
it; amongst the rest, Lucius Gellius, one of the oldest men in the 
house, said it should never pass whilst he lived. "Let us postpone 
it," said Cicero, "Gellius does not ask us to wait long." There was a 
man of the name of Octavius, suspected to be of African descent. 
He once said, when Cicero was pleading that he could not hear him; 
"Yet there are holes," said Cicero, "in your ears." * When Metellus 
Nepos told him, that he had ruined more as a witness, than he had 
saved as an advocate, "I admit," said Cicero, "that I have more 
truth than eloquence." To a young man who was suspected of 
having given a poisoned cake to his father, and who talked largely 
of the invectives he meant to deliver against Cicero, "Better these," 
replied he, "than your cakes." Publius Sextius, having amongst 
others retained Cicero as his advocate in a certain cause, was yet 
desirous to say all for himself, and would not allow anybody to 
speak for him; when he was about to receive his acquittal from the 
judges, and the ballots were passing, Cicero called to him, "Make 
haste, Sextius, and use your time; to-morrow you will be nobody." 
He cited Publius Cotta to bear testimony in a certain cause, one who 
affected to be thought a lawyer, though ignorant and unlearned; to 
whom, when he had said, "I know nothing of the matter," he 
answered, "You think, perhaps, we ask you about a point of law." 
To Metellus Nepos, who, in a dispute between them, repeated sev- 

*The marks of the cars having been bored for ear-rings would be considered proof 
of his being of barbarian origin. 


eral times, "Who was your father, Cicero?" he replied, "Your mother 
has made the answer to such a question in your case more difficult;" 
Nepos's mother having been of ill repute. The son, also, was of a 
giddy, uncertain temper. At one time, he suddenly threw up his 
office of tribune, and sailed off into Syria to Pompey; and imme- 
diately after, with as little reason, came back again. He gave his 
tutor, Philagrus, a funeral with more than necessary attention, and 
then set up the stone figure of a crow over his tomb. "This," said 
Cicero, "is really appropriate; as he did not teach you to speak, but 
to fly about." When Marcus Appius, in the opening of some speech 
in a court of justice, said that his friend had desired him to employ 
industry, eloquence, and fidelity in that cause, Cicero answered, 
"And how have you had the heart not to accede to any one of his 

To use this sharp raillery against opponents and antagonists in 
judicial pleading seems allowable rhetoric. But he excited much ill 
feeling by his readiness to attack any one for the sake of a jest. A 
few anecdotes of this kind may be added. Marcus Aquinius, who 
had two sons-in-law in exile, received from him the name of king 
Adrastus. 10 Lucius Cotta, an intemperate lover of wine, was censor 
when Cicero stood for the consulship. Cicero, being thirsty at the 
election, his friends stood round about him while he was drinking. 
"You have reason to be afraid," he said, "lest the censor should be 
angry with me for drinking water." Meeting one day Voconius 
with his three very ugly daughters, he quoted the verse, 

"He reared a race without Apollo's leave." 
When Marcus Gellius, who was reputed the son of a slave, had read 
several letters in the senate with a very shrill, and loud voice, "Won- 
der not," said Cicero, "he comes of the criers." When Faustus Sylla, 
the son of Sylla the dictator, who had during his dictatorship, by 
public bills proscribed and condemned so many citizens, had so far 
wasted his estate, and got into debt, that he was forced to publish 
his bills of sale, Cicero told him that he liked these bills much better 

10 Adrastus, king of Argos, married his daughters to the exiles, Tydeus and Polynices. 
The verse below, quoted from a tragedy, must refer to Laius and his son, born 
against the warning of the oracle, CEdipus. "Without Apollo's leave" would be a 
phrase like "invita Minerva" applied to any unsuccessful, or infelicitous, or injudicious 


than those of his father. By this habit he made himself odious with 
many people. 

But Clodius's faction conspired against him upon the following 
occasion. Clodius was a member of a noble family, in the flower of 
his youth, and of a bold and resolute temper. He, being in love with 
Pompeia, Cxsar's wife, got privately into his house in the dress and 
attire of a music-girl ; the women being at that time offering there the 
sacrifice which must not be seen by men, and there was no man pres- 
ent. Clodius, being a youth and beardless, hoped to get to Pompeia 
among the women without being taken notice of. But coming into 
a great house by night, he missed his way in the passages, and a 
servant belonging to Aurelia, Caesar's mother, spying him wander- 
ing up and down, inquired his name. Thus being necessitated to 
speak, he told her he was seeking for one of Pompeia's maids, Abra 
by name; and she, perceiving it not to be a woman's voice, shrieked 
out, and called in the women; who, shutting the gates, and search- 
ing every place, at length found Clodius hidden in the chamber of 
the maid with whom he had come in. This matter being much 
talked about, Carsar put away his wife, Pompeia, and Clodius was 
prosecuted for profaning the holy rites. 

Cicero was at this time his friend, for he had been useful to him 
in the conspiracy of Catiline, as one of his forwardest assistants and 
protectors. But when Clodius rested his defence upon this point, 
that he was not then at Rome, but at a distance in the country, 
Cicero testified that he had come to his house that day, and con- 
versed with him on several matters; which thing was indeed true, 
although Cicero was thought to testify it not so much for the 
truth's sake as to preserve his quiet with Terentia his wife. For she 
bore a grudge against Clodius on account of his sister Clodia's wish- 
ing, as it was alleged, to marry Cicero, and having employed for 
this purpose the intervention of Tullus, a very intimate friend of 
Cicero's; and his frequent visits to Clodia, who lived in their neigh- 
borhood, and the attentions he paid to her had excited Terentia's 
suspicions, and, being a woman of a violent temper, and having the 
ascendant over Cicero, she urged him on to taking a part against 
Clodius, and delivering his testimony. Many other good and honest 
citizens also gave evidence against him, for perjuries, disorders, brib- 


ing the people, and debauching women. Lucullus proved, by his 
women-servants, that he had debauched his youngest sister when she 
was Lucullus's wife; and there was a general belief that he had done 
the same with his two other sisters, Tenia, whom Marcius Rex, and 
Clodia, whom Metellus Celer had married; the latter of whom was 
called Quadrantia, because one of her lovers had deceived her with 
a purse of small copper money instead of silver, the smallest copper 
coin being called a quadrant. Upon this sister's account, in particu- 
lar, Clodius's character was attacked. Notwithstanding all this, 
when the common people united against the accusers and witnesses 
and the whole party, the judges were affrighted, and a guard was 
placed about them for their defence; and most of them wrote their 
sentences on the tablets in such a way, that they could not well be 
read. It was decided, however, that there was a majority for his 
acquittal, and bribery was reported to have been employed; in ref- 
erence to which Catulus remarked, when he next met the judges, 
"You were very right to ask for a guard, to prevent your money 
being taken from you." And when Clodius upbraided Cicero that 
the judges had not believed his testimony, "Yes," said he, "five and 
twenty of them trusted me, and condemned you, and the other 
thirty did not trust you, for they did not acquit you till they had 
got your money." 

Cxsar, though cited, did not give his testimony against Clodius, 
and declared himself not convinced of his wife's adultery, but that 
he had put her away because it was fit that Caesar's house should 
not be only free of the evil fact, but of the fame too. 

Clodius, having escaped this danger, and having got himself 
chosen one of the tribunes, immediately attacked Cicero, heaping up 
all matters and inciting all persons against him. The common 
people he gained over with popular laws; to each of the consuls he 
decreed large provinces, to Piso, Macedonia, and to Gabinius, Syria; 
he made a strong party among the indigent citizens, to support him 
in his proceedings, and had always a body of armed slaves about 
him. Of the three men then in greatest power, Crassus was Cicero's 
open enemy, Pompey indifferently made advances to both, and 
Caesar was going with an army into Gaul. To him, though not his 
friend (what had occurred in the time of the conspiracy having 


created suspicions between them), Cicero applied, requesting an 
appointment as one of his lieutenants in the province. Caesar accepted 
him, and Clodius, perceiving that Cicero would thus escape his 
tribunician authority, professed to be inclinable to a reconciliation, 
laid the greatest fault upon Terentia, made always a favorable men- 
tion of him, and addressed him with kind expressions, as one who 
felt no hatred or ill-will, but who merely wished to urge his com- 
plaints in a moderate and friendly way. By these artifices, he so 
freed Cicero of all his fears, that he resigned his appointment to 
Caesar, and betook himself again to political affairs. At which Caesar 
being exasperated, joined the party of Clodius against him, and 
wholly alienated Pompey from him; he also himself declared in a 
public assembly of the people, that he did not think Lentulus and 
Cethegus, with their accomplices, were fairly and legally put to 
death without being brought to trial. And this, indeed, was the 
crime charged upon Cicero, and this impeachment he was sum- 
moned to answer. And so, as an accused man, and in danger for 
the result, he changed his dress, and went round with his hair un- 
trimmed, in the attire of a suppliant, to beg the people's grace. But 
Clodius met him in every corner, having a band of abusive and 
daring fellows about him, who derided Cicero for his change of dress 
and his humiliation, and often, by throwing dirt and stones at him, 
interrupted his supplication to the people. 

However, first of all, almost the whole equestrian order changed 
their dress with him, and no less than twenty thousand young 
gendemen followed him with their hair untrimmed, and suppli- 
cating with him to the people. And then the senate met, to pass a 
decree that the people should change their dress as in time of pub- 
lic sorrow. But the consuls opposing it, and Clodius with armed 
men besetting the senate-house, many of the senators ran out, cry- 
ing out and tearing their clothes. But this sight moved neither 
shame nor pity; Cicero must either fly or determine it by the sword 
with Clodius. He entreated Pompey to aid him, who was on pur- 
pose gone out of the way, and was staying at his country-house in 
the Alban hills; and first he sent his son-in-law Piso to intercede 
with him, and afterwards set out to go himself. Of which Pompey 
being informed, would not stay to see him, being ashamed at the 


remembrance of the many conflicts in the commonwealth which 
Cicero had undergone in his behalf, and how much of his policy he 
had directed for his advantage. But being now Caesar's son-in-law, 
at his instance he had set aside all former kindness, and, slipping 
out at another door, avoided the interview. Thus being forsaken 
by Pompey, and left alone to himself, he fled to the consuls. Gabi- 
nius was rough with him, as usual, but Piso spoke more courteously, 
desiring him to yield and give place for a while to the fury of 
Clodius, and await a change of times, and to be now, as before, his 
country's savior from the peril of these troubles and commotions 
which Clodius was exciting. 

Cicero, receiving this answer, consulted with his friends. Lucul- 
lus advised him to stay, as being sure to prevail at last; others to fly, 
because the people would soon desire him again, when they should 
have enough of the rage and madness of Clodius. This last Cicero 
approved. But first he took a statue of Minerva, which had been 
long set up and greatly honored in his house, and carrying it to the 
capitol, there dedicated it, with the inscription, "To Minerva, Pa- 
troness of Rome." And receiving an escort from his friends, about 
the middle of the night he left the city, and went by land through 
Lucania, intending to reach Sicily. 

But as soon as it was publicly known that he was fled, Clodius 
proposed to the people a decree of exile, and by his own order inter- 
dicted him fire and water, prohibiting any within five hundred miles 
in Italy to receive him into their houses. Most people, out of respect 
for Cicero, paid no regard to this edict, offering him every atten- 
tion, and escorting him on his way. But at Hipponium, a city of 
Lucania, now called Vibo, one Vibius, a Sicilian by birth, who, 
amongst many other instances of Cicero's friendship, had been made 
head of the state engineers when he was consul, would not receive 
him into his house, sending him word he would appoint a place in 
the country for his reception. Caius Vergilius, the praetor of Sicily, 
who had been on the most intimate terms with him, wrote to him to 
forbear coming into Sicily. At these things Cicero being disheart- 
ened, went to Brundusium, whence putting forth with a prosperous 
wind, a contrary gale blowing from the sea carried him back to Italy 
the next day. He put again to sea, and having reached Dyrrachium, 


on his coming to shore there, it is reported that an earthquake and 
a convulsion in the sea happened at the same time, signs which the 
diviners said intimated that his exile would not be long, for these 
were prognostics of change. Although many visited him with respect, 
and the cities of Greece contended which should honor him most, 
he yet continued disheartened and disconsolate, like an unfortunate 
lover, often casting his looks back upon Italy; and, indeed, he was 
become so poor-spirited, so humiliated and dejected by his misfor- 
tunes, as none could have expected in a man who had devoted so 
much of his life to study and learning. And yet he often desired his 
friends not to call him orator, but philosopher, because he had made 
philosophy his business, and had only used rhetoric as an instru- 
ment for attaining his objects in public life. But the desire of glory" 
has great power in washing the tinctures of philosophy out of the 
souls of men, and in imprinting the passions of the common people, 
by custom and conversation, in the minds of those that take a part 
in governing them, unless the politician be very careful so to engage 
in public affairs as to interest himself only in the affairs themselves, 
but not participate in the passions that are consequent to them. 

Clodius, having thus driven away Cicero, fell to burning his 
farms and villas, and afterwards his city house, and built on the site 
of it a temple to Liberty. The rest of his property he exposed to sale 
by daily proclamation, but nobody came to buy. By these courses he 
became formidable to the noble citizens, and, being followed by the 
commonalty, whom he had filled with insolence and licentiousness, 
he began at last to try his strength against Pompey, some of whose 
arrangements in the countries he conquered, he attacked. The dis- 
grace of this made Pompey begin to reproach himself for his cow- 
ardice in deserting Cicero, and, changing his mind, he now wholly 
set himself with his friends to contrive his return. And when 
Clodius opposed it, the senate made a vote that no public measure 

" Doxa, the Greek word for "the desire of glory," should, perhaps, be translated 
"opinion." It is, in its original sense, "what people think," and is commonly used for 
people's good opinion, "glory," or "reputation." On the other hand, the philosophers 
employ it to express opinion, which may be false, as opposed to knowledge, which 
must be of the truth. If a philosopher, engaged in politics, does not confine his atten- 
tion strictly to definite objects and acts, but lets himself be affected by the results, by 
people's good or bad opinion about them, his real convictions and knowledge will soon 
be overpowered. 

246 plutarch's lives 

should be ratified or passed by them till Cicero was recalled. But 
when Lentulus was consul, the commotions grew so high upon this 
matter, that the tribunes were wounded in the Forum, and Quintus, 
Cicero's brother, was left as dead, lying unobserved amongst the 
slain. The people began to change in their feelings; and Annius 
Milo, one of their tribunes, was the first who took confidence to 
summon Clodius to trial for acts of violence. Many of the common 
people and out of the neighboring cities formed a party with Pom- 
pey, and he went with them, and drove Clodius out of the Forum, 
and summoned the people to pass their vote. And, it is said, the 
people never passed any suffrage more unanimously than this. The 
senate, also, striving to outdo the people, sent letters of thanks to 
those cities which had received Cicero with respect in his exile, and 
decreed that his house and his country-places, which Clodius had 
destroyed, should be rebuilt at the public charge. 

Thus Cicero returned sixteen months after his exile, and the 
cities were so glad, and people so zealous to meet him, that what he 
boasted of afterwards, that Italy had brought him on her shoulders 
home to Rome, was rather less than the truth. And Crassus himself, 
who had been his enemy before his exile, went then voluntarily to 
meet him, and was reconciled, to please his son Publius, as he said, 
who was Cicero's affectionate admirer. 

Cicero had not been long at Rome, when, taking the opportunity 
of Clodius's absence, he went, with a great company, to the capitol, 
and there tore and defaced the tribunician tables, in which were 
recorded the acts done in the time of Clodius. And on Clodius 
calling him in question for this, he answered, that he, being of the 
patrician order, had obtained the office of tribune against law, and, 
therefore, nothing done by him was valid. Cato was displeased at 
this, and opposed Cicero, not that he commended Clodius, but rather 
disapproved of his whole administration; yet, he contended, it was 
an irregular and violent course for the senate to vote the illegality 
of so many decrees and acts, including those of Cato's own govern- 
ment in Cyprus and at Byzantium. This occasioned a breach be- 
tween Cato and Cicero, which though it came not to open enmity, 
yet made a more reserved friendship between them. 

After this, Milo killed Clodius, and, being arraigned for the mur- 


der, he procured Cicero as his advocate. The senate, fearing lest the 
questioning of so eminent and high-spirited a citizen as Milo might 
disturb the peace of the city, committed the superintendence of this 
and of the other trials to Pompey, who should undertake to main- 
tain the security alike of the city and of the courts of justice. Pom- 
pey, therefore, went in the night, and occupying the high grounds 
about it, surrounded the Forum with soldiers. Milo, fearing lest 
Cicero, being disturbed by such an unusual sight, should conduct his 
cause the less successfully, persuaded him to come in a litter into the 
Forum, and there repose himself till the judges were set, and the 
court filled. For Cicero, it seems, not only wanted courage in arms, 
but, in his speaking also, began with timidity, and in many cases 
scarcely left off trembling and shaking when he had got thoroughly 
into the current and substance of his speech. Being to defend 
Licinius Murena against the prosecution of Cato, and being eager to 
outdo Hortensius, who had made his plea with great applause, 
he took so little rest that night, and was so disordered with thought 
and over-watching, that he spoke much worse than usual. And so 
now, on quitting his litter to commence the cause of Milo, at the 
sight of Pompey, posted, as it were, and encamped with his troops 
above, and seeing arms shining round about the Forum, he was so 
confounded, that he could hardly begin his speech, for the trembling 
of his body, and hesitance of his tongue; whereas Milo, meantime, 
was bold and intrepid in his demeanor, disdaining either to let his 
hair grow, or to put on the mourning habit. And this, indeed, seems 
to have been one principal cause of his condemnation. Cicero, how- 
ever, was thought not so much to have shown timidity for himself, 
as anxiety about his friend. 

He was made one of the priests, whom the Romans call Augurs, 
in the room of Crassus the younger, dead in Parthia. Then he was 
appointed by lot, to the province of Cilicia, and set sail thither with 
twelve thousand foot and two thousand six hundred horse. He had 
orders to bring back Cappadocia to its allegiance to Ariobarzanes, its 
king; which settlement he effected very completely without recourse 
to arms. And perceiving the Cilicians, by the great loss the Romans 
had suffered in Parthia, and the commotions in Syria, to have be- 
come disposed to attempt a revolt, by a gentle course of government 

248 plutarch's lives 

he soothed them back into fidelity. He would accept none of the 
presents that were offered him by the kings; he remitted the charge 
of public entertainments, but daily, at his own house, received the 
ingenious and accomplished persons of the province, not sumptu- 
ously, but liberally. His house had no porter, nor was he ever found 
in bed by any man, but early in the morning, standing or walking 
before his door, he received those who came to offer their salutations. 
He is said never once to have ordered any of those under his com- 
mand to be beaten with rods, or to have their garments rent. He 
never gave contumelious language in his anger, nor inflicted punish- 
ment with reproach. He detected an embezzlement, to a large 
amount, in the public money, and thus relieved the cities from their 
burdens, and at the same time that he allowed those who made resti- 
tution, to retain without further punishment their rights as citizens. 
He engaged too, in war, so far as to give a defeat to the banditti who 
infested Mount Amanus, for which he was saluted by his army 
Imperator. To Caecilius 12 the orator, who asked him to send him 
some panthers from Cilicia, to be exhibited on the theatre at Rome, 
he wrote, in commendation of his own actions, that there were no 
panthers in Cilicia, for they were all fled to Caria, in anger that 
in so general a peace they had become the sole objects of attack. 
On leaving his province, he touched at Rhodes, and tarried for 
some length at Athens, longing much to renew his old studies. He 
visited the eminent men of learning, and saw his former friends and 
companions; and after receiving in Greece the honors that were 
due to him, returned to the city, where every thing was now just 
as it were in a flame, breaking out into a civil war. 

When the senate would have decreed him a triumph, he told 
them he had rather, so differences were accommodated, follow the 
triumphal chariot of Caesar. In private, he gave advice to both, 
writing many letters to Carsar, and personally entreating Pompey; 
doing his best to soothe and bring to reason both the one and the 
other. But when matters became incurable, and Caesar was ap- 
proaching Rome, and Pompey durst not abide it, but, with many 
honest citizens, left the city, Cicero, as yet, did not join in the flight, 
and was reputed to adhere to Caesar. And it is very evident he was 

12 Probably Cxlius. 


in his thoughts much divided, and wavered painfully between both, 
for he writes in his epistles, "To which side should I turn? Pom- 
pey has the fair and honorable plea for war; and Caesar, on the other 
hand, has managed his affairs better, and is more able to secure 
himself and his friends. So that I know whom I should fly, not 
whom I should fly to." But when Trebatius, one of Caesar's friends, 
by letter signified to him that Carsar thought it was his most desirable 
course to join his party, and partake his hopes, but if he considered 
himself too old a man for this, then he should retire into Greece, 
and stay quietly there, out of the way of either party, Cicero, won- 
dering that Caesar had not written himself, gave an angry reply 
that he should not do any thing unbecoming his past life. Such is 
the account to be collected from his letters. 

But as soon as Caesar was marched into Spain, he immediately 
sailed away to join Pompey. And he was welcomed by all but Cato; 
who, taking him privately, chid him for coming to Pompey. As for 
himself, he said, it had been indecent to forsake that part in the 
commonwealth which he had chosen from the beginning; but 
Cicero might have been more useful to his country and friends, if, 
remaining neuter, he had attended and used his influence to moder- 
ate the result, instead of coming hither to make himself, without 
reason or necessity, an enemy to Caesar, and a partner in such great 
dangers. By this language, partly, Cicero's feelings were altered, and 
partly, also, because Pompey made no great use of him. Although, 
indeed, he was himself the cause of it by his not denying that he was 
sorry he had come, by his depreciating Pompey's resources, finding 
fault underhand with his counsels, and continually indulging in 
jests and sarcastic remarks on his fellow-soldiers. Though he went 
about in the camp with a gloomy and melancholy face himself, he 
was always trying to raise a laugh in others, whether they wished 
it or not. It may not be amiss to mention a few instances. To 
Domitius, on his preferring to a command one who was no soldier, 
and saying, in his defence, that he was a modest and prudent person, 
he replied, "Why did not you keep him for a tutor for your chil- 
dren?" On hearing Theophanes, the Lesbian, who was master of 
the engineers in the army, praised for the admirable way in which 
he had consoled the Rhodians for the loss of their fleet, "What a 

250 plutarch's lives 

thing it is," he said, "to have a Greek in command!" When Caesar 
had been acting successfully, and in a manner blockading Pompey, 
Lentulus was saying it was reported that Caesar's friends were out of 
heart; "Because," said Cicero, "they do not wish Caesar well." To one 
Marcius, who had just come from Italy, and told them that there was 
a strong report at Rome that Pompey was blocked up, he said, "And 
you sailed hither to see it with your own eyes." To Nonius, encour- 
aging them after a defeat to be of good hope, because there were 
seven eagles still left in Pompey's camp, "Good reason for encour- 
agement," said Cicero, "if we were going to fight with jack-daws." 
Labienus insisted on some prophecies to the effect that Pompey 
would gain the victory; "Yes," said Cicero, "and the first step in 
the campaign has been losing our camp." 

After the battle of Pharsalia was over, at which he was not pres- 
ent for want of health, and Pompey was fled, Cato, having con- 
siderable forces and a great fleet at Dyrrachium, would have had 
Cicero commander-in-chief, according to law, and the precedence 
of his consular dignity. And on his refusing the command, and 
wholly declining to take part in their plans for continuing the war, 
he was in the greatest danger of being killed, young Pompey and 
his friends calling him traitor, and drawing their swords upon him; 
only that Cato interposed, and hardly rescued and brought him out 
of the camp. 

Afterwards, arriving at Brundusium, he tarried there sometime 
in expectation of Caesar, who was delayed by his affairs in Asia and 
Egypt. And when it was told him that he was arrived at Tarentum, 
and was coming thence by land to Brundusium, he hastened towards 
him, not altogether without hope, and yet in some fear of making 
experiment of the temper of an enemy and conqueror in the pres- 
ence of many witnesses. But there was no necessity for him either 
to speak or do anything unworthy of himself; for Caesar, as soon 
as he saw him coming a good way before the rest of the company, 
came down to meet him, saluted him, and, leading the way, con- 
versed with him alone for some furlongs. And from that time 
forward he continued to treat him with honor and respect; so that, 
when Cicero wrote an oration in praise of Cato, Caesar, in writing 


an answer to it, took occasion to commend Cicero's own life and elo- 
quence, comparing him to Pericles and Theramenes. Cicero's oration 
was called Cato; Carsar's, anti-Cato. 

So also, it is related that when Quintus Ligarius was prosecuted 
for having been in arms against Caesar, and Cicero had undertaken 
his defence, Caesar said to his friends, "Why might we not as well 
once more hear a speech from Cicero? Ligarius, there is no question, 
is a wicked man and an enemy." But when Cicero began to speak, 
he wonderfully moved him, and proceeded in his speech with such 
varied pathos, and such a charm of language, that the color of 
Caesar's countenance often changed, and it was evident that all the 
passions of his soul were in commotion. At length, the orator touch- 
ing upon the Pharsalian battle, he was so affected that his body 
trembled, and some of the papers he held dropped out of his hands. 
And thus he was overpowered, and acquitted Ligarius. 

Henceforth, the commonwealth being changed into a monarchy, 
Cicero withdrew himself from public affairs, and employed his 
leisure in instructing those young men that would, in philosophy; 
and by the near intercourse he thus had with some of the noblest 
and highest in rank, he again began to possess great influence in the 
city. The work and object which he set himself was to compose 
and translate philosophical dialogues and to render logical and 
physical terms into the Roman idiom. For he it was, as it is said, 
who first or principally gave Latin names to phantasia, syncatathesis, 
epoh\he, catalepsis" atomon, ameres, f^enon, and other such technical 
terms, which, either by metaphors or other means of accommoda- 
tion, he succeeded in making intelligible and expressible to the 

13 Phantasia, sensation excited by some external object, "impulsione oblata extrinse- 
cus," Cicero renders by visum; syncatathesis, the act of acceptance on our part, he calls 
assensio or assenstis; epol^he is the suspension of assent, "suspensio assensionis"; 
catalepsis, or comprehensio, is the next step in perception after assensio; atomon has 
been turned, but not by Cicero, into insecabile; he calls atoms ind'widua corpora, or 
individua, using the same word also for ameres; /(enon is inane or vacuum. Most of 
these terms are introduced in the Academics, see I. 11, II. 6 and 18, and the curious 
illustration from Zeno in 47. Pointing with his left hand to his right, as it lay open 
and outspread. Here, said he, is sensation, visum, phantasia; letting the fingers begin 
to close, this, he proceeded, is assent, syncatathesis; by closing his hand he exemplified 
comprehension or catalepsis; and, at last, seizing it with his left, such, he said, is 
knowledge. Phantasia, of course, is etymologically our fancy, and epok.he, in the sense 
of a point in time to pause at, our epoch. 


Romans. For his recreation, he exercised his dexterity in poetry, and 
when he was set to it, would make five hundred verses in a night. 
He spent the greatest part of his time at his country house near 
Tusculum. He wrote to his friends that he led the life of Laertes, 14 
either jestingly, as his custom was, or rather from a feeling of ambi- 
tion for public employment, which made him impatient under the 
present state of affairs. He rarely went to the city, unless to pay his 
court to Caesar. He was commonly the first amongst those who 
voted him honors, and sought out new terms of praise for himself and 
for his actions. As, for example, what he said of the statues of Pom- 
pey, which had been thrown down, and were afterwards by Caesar's 
orders set up again: that Caesar, by this act of humanity, had indeed 
set up Pompey's statues, but he had fixed and established his own. 
He had a design, it is said, of writing the history of his country, 
combining with it much of that of Greece, and incorporating in it 
all the stories and legends of the past that he had collected. But his 
purposes were interfered with by various public and various private 
unhappy occurrences and misfortunes; for most of which he was 
himself in fault. For first of all, he put away his wife Terentia, by 
whom he had been neglected in the time of the war, and sent away 
destitute of necessaries for his journey; neither did he find her kind 
when he returned from Italy, for she did not join him at Brun- 
dusium, where he staid a long time, nor would allow her young 
daughter, who undertook so long a journey, decent attendance, or 
the requisite expenses; besides, she left him a naked and empty 
house, and yet had involved him in many and great debts. These 
were alleged as the fairest reasons for the divorce. But Terentia, who 
denied them all, had the most unmistakable defence furnished her 
by her husband himself, who not long after married a young maiden 
for the love of her beauty, as Terentia upbraided him; or as Tiro, 
his emancipated slave, has written, for her riches to discharge his 
debts. For the young woman was very rich, and Cicero had the 
custody of her estate, being left guardian in trust; and being in- 
debted many myriads of money, he was persuaded by his friends 

14 "Who," says the description in the first book of the Odyssey, "comes no more to 
the city, but lives away in pain and grief on his land, with one old woman to feed 
him, when he tires himself with tottering about his vineyard." So, also, when Ulysses 
goes to see him, in the last book. 


and relations to marry her, notwithstanding his disparity of age, 
and to use her money to satisfy his creditors. Antony, who mentions 
this marriage in his answer to the Philippics, reproaches him for 
putting away a wife with whom he had lived to old age; adding 
some happy strokes of sarcasm on Cicero's domestic, inactive, un- 
soldier-like habits. Not long after this marriage, his daughter died 
in child-bed at Lentulus's house, to whom she had been married 
after the death of Piso, her former husband. The philosophers from 
all parts came to comfort Cicero; for his grief was so excessive, 
that he put away his new-married wife, because she seemed to be 
pleased at the death of Tullia. And thus stood Cicero's domestic 
affairs at this time. 

He had no concern in the design that was now forming against 
Caesar, although, in general, he was Brutus's most principal confi- 
dant, and one who was as aggrieved at the present, and as desirous 
of the former state of public affairs, as any other whatsoever. But 
they feared his temper, as wanting courage, and his old age, in which 
the most daring dispositions are apt to be timorous. 

As soon, therefore, as the act was committed by Brutus and Cas- 
sius, and the friends of Caesar were got together, so that there was 
fear the city would again be involved in a civil war, Antony, being 
consul, convened the senate, and made a short address recommend- 
ing concord. And Cicero, following with various remarks such as 
the occasion called for, persuaded the senate to imitate the Atheni- 
ans, and decree an amnesty for what had been done in Caesar's case, 
and to bestow provinces on Brutus and Cassius. But neither of these 
things took effect. For as soon as the common people, of themselves 
inclined to pity, saw the dead body of Carsar borne through the 
market-place, and Antony showing his clothes filled with blood, and 
pierced through in every part with swords, enraged to a degree of 
frenzy, they made a search for the murderers, and with firebrands 
in their hands ran to their houses to burn them. They, however, 
being forewarned, avoided this danger; and expecting many more 
and greater to come, they left the city. 

Antony on this was at once in exultation, and every one was in 
alarm with the prospect that he would make himself sole ruler, 
and Cicero in more alarm than any one. For Antony, seeing his 


influence reviving in the commonwealth, and knowing how closely 
he was connected with Brutus, was ill-pleased to have him in the 
city. Besides, there had been some former jealousy between them, 
occasioned by the difference of their manners. Cicero, fearing the 
event, was inclined to go as lieutenant with Dolabella into Syria. 
But Hirtius and Pansa, consuls elect as successors of Antony, good 
men and lovers of Cicero, entreated him not to leave them, under- 
taking to put down Antony if he would stay in Rome. And he, 
neither distrusting wholly, nor trusting them, let Dolabella go 
without him, promising Hirtius that he would go and spend his 
summer at Athens, and return again when he entered upon his 
office. So he set out on his journey; but some delay occurring in his 
passage, new intelligence, as often happens, came suddenly from 
Rome, that Antony had made an astonishing change, and was doing 
all things and managing all public affairs at the will of the senate, 
and that there wanted nothing but his presence to bring things to a 
happy settlement. And therefore, blaming himself for his cowardice, 
he returned again to Rome, and was not deceived in his hopes at 
the beginning. For such multitudes flocked out to meet him, that 
the compliments and civilities which were paid him at the gates, 
and at his entrance into the city, took up almost one whole day's 

On the morrow, Antony convened the senate, and summoned 
Cicero thither. He came not, but kept his bed, pretending to be ill 
with his journey; but the true reason seemed the fear of some design 
against him, upon a suspicion and intimation given him on his way 
to Rome. Antony, however, showed great offence at the affront, 
and sent soldiers, commanding them to bring him or burn his house; 
but many interceding and supplicating for him, he was contented 
to accept sureties. Ever after, when they met, they passed one an- 
other with silence, and continued on their guard, till Cxsar, the 
younger, 15 coming from Apollonia, entered on the first Cxsar's inher- 
itance, and was engaged in a dispute with Antony about two thou- 
sand five hundred myriads of money, which Antony detained from 
the estate. 

Upon this, Philippus, who married the mother, and Marcellus, 

15 Augustus. 


who married the sister of young Caesar, came with the young man 
to Cicero, and agreed with him that Cicero should give them the 
aid of his eloquence and political influence with the senate and 
people, and Caesar give Cicero the defence of his riches and arms. 
For the young man had already a great party of the soldiers of 
Caesar about him. And Cicero's readiness to join him was founded, 
it is said, on some yet stronger motives; for it seems, while Pompey 
and Caesar were yet alive, Cicero, in his sleep, had fancied him- 
self engaged in calling some of the sons of the senators into the 
capitol, Jupiter being about, according to the dream, to declare one 
of them the chief ruler of Rome. The citizens, running up with 
curiosity, stood about the temple, and the youths, sitting in their 
purple-bordered robes, kept silence. On a sudden the doors opened, 
and the youths, arising one by one in order, passed round the god, 
who reviewed them all, and, to their sorrow, dismissed them; but 
when this one was passing by, the god stretched forth his right 
hand and said, "O ye Romans, this young man, when he shall be 
lord of Rome, shall put an end to all your civil wars." It is said that 
Cicero formed from his dream a distinct image of the youth, and 
retained it afterwards perfectly, but did not know who it was. The 
next day, going down into the Campus Martius, he met the boys 
returning from their gymnastic exercises, and the first was he, just 
as he had appeared to him in his dream. Being astonished at it, he 
asked him who were his parents. And it proved to be this young 
Caesar, whose father was a man of no great eminence, Octavius, 
and his mother, Attia, Caesar's sister's daughter; for which reason, 
Caesar, who had no children, made him by will the heir of his house 
and property. From that time, it is said that Cicero studiously 
noticed the youth whenever he met him, and he as kindly received 
the civility; and by fortune he happened to be born when Cicero 
was consul. 

These were the reasons spoken of; but it was principally Cicero's 
hatred of Antony, and a temper unable to resist honor, which 
fastened him to Caesar, with the purpose of getting the support of 
Caesar's power for his own public designs. For the young man went 
so far in his court to him, that he called him Father; at which 
Brutus was so highly displeased that, in his epistles to Atticus he 

256 plutarch's lives 

reflected on Cicero, saying, it was manifest, by his courting Caesar 
for fear of Antony, he did not intend liberty to his country, but an 
indulgent master to himself. Notwithstanding, Brutus took Cicero's 
son, then studying philosophy at Athens, gave him a command, and 
employed him in various ways, with a good result. Cicero's own 
power at this time was at the greatest height in the city, and he 
did whatsoever he pleased; he completely overpowered and drove 
out Antony, and sent the two consuls, Hirtius and Pansa, with an 
army, to reduce him; and, on the other hand, persuaded the senate 
to allow Caesar the lictors and ensigns of a praetor, as though he were 
his country's defender. But after Antony was defeated in battle, 
and the two consuls slain, the armies united, and ranged them- 
selves with Caesar. And the senate, fearing the young man, and his 
extraordinary fortune, endeavored, by honors and gifts, to call off 
the soldiers from him, and to lessen his power; professing there was 
no further need of arms, now Antony was put to flight. 

This giving Caesar an affright, he privately sends some friends to 
entreat and persuade Cicero to procure the consular dignity for 
them both together; saying he should manage the affairs as he 
pleased, should have the supreme power, and govern the young man 
who was only desirous of name and glory. And Caesar himself con- 
fessed, that in fear of ruin, and in danger of being deserted, he had 
seasonably made use of Cicero's ambition, persuading him to stand 
with him, and to accept the offer of his aid and interest for the 

And now, more than at any other time, Cicero let himself be 
carried away and deceived, though an old man, by the persuasions 
of a boy. He joined him in soliciting votes, and procured the good- 
will of the senate, not without blame at the time on the part of 
his friends; and he, too, soon enough after, saw that he had ruined 
himself, and betrayed the liberty of his country. For the young 
man, once established, and possessed of the office of consul, bade 
Cicero farewell; and, reconciling himself to Antony and Lepidus, 
joined his power with theirs, and divided the government, like a 
piece of property, with them. Thus united, they made a schedule of 
above two hundred persons who were to be put to death. But the 
greatest contention in all their debates was on the question of 


Cicero's case. Antony would come to no conditions, unless he should 
be the first man to be killed. Lepidus held with Antony, and Csesar 
opposed them both. They met secretly and by themselves, for three 
days together, near the town of Bononia. The spot was not far from 
the camp, with a river surrounding it. Caesar, it is said, contended 
earnestly for Cicero the first two days; but on the third day he 
yielded, and gave him up. The terms of their mutual concessions 
were these: that Caesar should desert Cicero, Lepidus his brother 
Paulus, and Antony, Lucius Carsar, his uncle by his mother's side. 
Thus they let their anger and fury take from them the sense of 
humanity, and demonstrated that no beast is more savage than man, 
when possessed with power answerable to his rage. 

Whilst these things were contriving, Cicero was with his brother 
at his country-house near Tusculum; whence, hearing of the pro- 
scriptions, they determined to pass to Astura, a villa of Cicero's 
near the sea, and to take shipping from thence for Macedonia to 
Brutus, of whose strength in that province news had already been 
heard. They travelled together in their separate litters, overwhelmed 
with sorrow; and often stopping on the way till their litters came 
together, condoled with one another. But Quintus was the more dis- 
heartened, when he reflected on his want of means for his journey; 
for, as he said, he had brought nothing with him from home. And 
even Cicero himself had but a slender provision. It was judged, 
therefore, most expedient that Cicero should make what haste he 
could to fly, and Quintus return home to provide necessaries, and 
thus resolved, they mutually embraced, and parted with many tears. 

Quintus, within a few days after, betrayed by his servants to those 
who came to search for him, was slain, together with his young son. 
But Cicero was carried to Astura, where, finding a vessel, he imme- 
diately went on board her, and sailed as far as Circaeum with a pros- 
perous gale; but when the pilots resolved immediately to set sail 
from thence, whether fearing the sea, or not wholly distrusting the 
faith of Caesar, he went on shore, and passed by land a hundred 
furlongs, as if he was going for Rome. But losing resolution and 
changing his mind, he again returned to the sea, and there spent 
the night in fearful and perplexed thoughts. Sometimes he resolved 
to go into Caesar's house privately, and there kill himself upon the 

258 plutarch's lives 

altar of his household gods, to bring divine vengeance upon him; 
but the fear of torture put him off this course. And after passing 
through a variety of confused and uncertain counsels, at last he let 
his servants carry him by sea to Capita?, 16 where he had a house, an 
agreeable place to retire to in the heat of summer, when the Etesian 
winds are so pleasant. 

There was at that place a chapel of Apollo, not far from the 
sea-side, from which a flight of crows rose with a great noise, and 
made toward Cicero's vessel as it rowed to land, and lighting on 
both sides of the yard, some croaked, others pecked the ends of the 
ropes. This was looked upon by all as an ill omen; and, therefore, 
Cicero went again ashore, and entering his house, lay down upon 
his bed to compose himself to rest. Many of the crows settled about 
the window, making a dismal cawing; but one of them alighted 
upon the bed where Cicero lay covered up, and with its bill by little 
and little pecked off the clothes from his face. His servants, seeing 
this, blamed themselves that they should stay to be spectators of 
their master's murder, and do nothing in his defence, whilst the 
brute creatures came to assist and take care of him in his undeserved 
affliction; and, therefore, partly by entreaty, partly by force, they 
took him up, and carried him in his litter towards the sea-side. 

But in the mean time the assassins were come with a band of 
soldiers, Herennius, a centurion, and Popillius, a tribune, whom 
Cicero had formerly defended when prosecuted for the murder of 
his father. Finding the doors shut, they broke them open, and 
Cicero not appearing, and those within saying they knew not where 
he was, it is stated that a youth, who had been educated by Cicero 
in the liberal arts and sciences, an emancipated slave of his brother 
Quintus, Philologus by name, informed the tribune that the litter 
was on its way to the sea through the close and shady walks. The 
tribune, taking a few with him, ran to the place where he was to 
come out. And Cicero, perceiving Herennius running in the walks, 
commanded his servants to set down the litter; and stroking his 
chin, as he used to do, with his left hand, he looked steadfastly upon 
his murderers, his person covered with dust, his beard and hair 

'• This, as we find from other authority, means Caieta, the present Gaeta. Nothing 
is known of any such place as Capitz. Formiz, the present Mola di Gaeta, is close 
by; and here Cicero is known to have had a villa, the Formianum. 


untrimmed, and his face worn with his troubles. So that the greatest 
part of those that stood by covered their faces whilst Herennius 
slew him. And thus was he murdered, stretching forth his neck 
out of the litter, being now in his sixty-fourth year. Herennius 
cut off his head, and, by Antony's command, his hands also, by 
which his Philippics were written; for so Cicero styled those orations 
he wrote against Antony, and so they are called to this day. 

When these members of Cicero were brought to Rome, Antony 
was holding an assembly for the choice of public officers; and when 
he heard it, and saw them, he cried out, "Now let there be an end 
of our proscriptions." He commanded his head and hands to be 
fastened up over the Rostra, where the orators spoke; a sight which 
the Roman people shuddered to behold, and they believed they saw 
there not the face of Cicero, but the image of Antony's own soul. 
And yet amidst these actions he did justice in one thing, by deliver- 
ing up Philologus to Pomponia, the wife of Quintus, who, having 
got his body into her power, besides other grievous punishments, 
made him cut off his own flesh by pieces, and roast and eat it; for 
so some writers have related. But Tiro, Cicero's emancipated slave, 
has not so much as mentioned the treachery of Philologus. 

Some long time after, Carsar, I have been told, visiting one of his 
daughter's sons, found him with a book of Cicero's in his hand. 
The boy for fear endeavored to hide it under his gown; which 
Caesar perceiving, took it from him, and turning over a great part 
of the book standing, gave it him again, and said, "My child, this 
was a learned man, and a lover of his country." " And immediately 
after he had vanquished Antony, being then consul, he made Cice- 
ro's son his colleague in the office; and under that consulship, the 
senate took down all the statues of Antony, and abolished all the 
other honors that had been given him, and decreed that none of 
that family should thereafter bear the name of Marcus; and thus the 
final acts of the punishment of Antony were, by the divine powers, 
devolved upon the family of Cicero. 

"It is not easy to find any projwr equivalent for the word here translated by 
"learned." Logios, derived from logos, which is indifferently speech and reason 
(thinking and speaking being both powers of articulating), may be one who tut 
thought much and well, one who has much to say, and one who can say it well. 


THESE are the most memorable circumstances recorded in 
history of Demosthenes and Cicero which have come to 
our knowledge. But omitting an exact comparison of their 
respective faculties in speaking, yet thus much seems fit to be said; 
that Demosthenes, to make himself a master in rhetoric, applied all 
the faculties he had, natural or acquired, wholly that way; that he 
far surpassed in force and strength of eloquence all his contempo- 
raries in political and judicial speaking, in grandeur and majesty 
all the panegyrical orators, and in accuracy and science all the logi- 
cians and rhetoricians of his day; 1 that Cicero was highly educated, 
and by his diligent study became a most accomplished general 
scholar in all these branches, having left behind him numerous 
philosophical treatises of his own on Academic principles; as, indeed, 
even in his written speeches, both political and judicial, we see 
him continually trying to show his learning by the way. And one 
may discover the different temper of each of them in their speeches. 
For Demosthenes's oratory was without all embellishment and jest- 
ing, wholly composed for real effect and seriousness; not smelling of 
the lamp, as Pytheas scoffingly said, but of the temperance, thought- 
fulness, austerity, and grave earnestness of his temper. Whereas 
Cicero's love of mockery often ran him into scurrility; and in his 
love of laughing away serious arguments in judicial cases by jests 
and facetious remarks, with a view to the advantage of his clients, 
he paid too little regard to what was decent; saying, for example, in 
his defence of Cxlius, that he had done no absurd thing in such 
plenty and affluence to indulge himself in pleasures, it being a kind 
of madness not to enjoy the things we possess, especially since 
the most eminent philosophers have asserted pleasure to be the 

1 The political, the judicial, and the panegyrical departments were the three varieties 
of oratory. To the practitioners in these are added the sophistic, the logic and rhetoric 



chiefest good. So also we are told, that when Cicero, being consul, 
undertook the defence of Murena against Cato's prosecution, by 
way of bantering Cato, he made a long series of jokes upon the 
absurd paradoxes, as they are called, of the Stoic sect; so that a loud 
laughter passing from the crowd to the judges, Cato, with a quiet 
smile, said to those that sat next to him, "My friends, what an amus- 
ing consul we have." 

And, indeed, Cicero was by natural temper very much disposed 
to mirth and pleasantry, and always appeared with a smiling and 
serene countenance. But Demosthenes had constant care and 
thoughtfulness in his look, and a serious anxiety, which he seldom, 
if ever, laid aside; and, therefore, was accounted by his enemies, as 
he himself confessed, morose and ill-mannered. 

Also, it is very evident, out of their several writings, that Demos- 
thenes never touched upon his own praises but decently and with- 
out offence when there was need of it, and for some weightier end; 
but, upon other occasions modestly and sparingly. But Cicero's im- 
measurable boasting of himself in his orations argues him guilty of 
an uncontrollable appetite for distinction, his cry being evermore 
that arms should give place to the gown, and the soldier's laurel 
to the tongue. 2 And at last we find him extolling not only his deeds 
and actions, but his orations also, as well those that were only 
spoken, as those that were published; as if he were engaged in a 
boyish trial of skill, who should speak best, with the rhetoricians, 
Isocrates and Anaximenes, not as one who could claim the task to 
guide and instruct the Roman nation, the 

"Soldier full-armed, terrific to the foe." 

It is necessary, indeed, for a political leader to be an able speaker; 
but it is an ignoble thing for any man to admire and relish the 
glory of his own eloquence. And, in this matter, Demosthenes had 
a more than ordinary gravity and magnificence of mind, account- 
ing his talent in speaking nothing more than a mere accomplish- 
ment and matter of practice, the success of which must depend 
gready on the good-will and candor of his hearers, and regarding 

* Translating Cicero's famous verse upon himself — 

Cedanc arma togz, concedat laurea linguae 

262 plutarch's lives 

those who pride themselves on such accounts to be men of a low 
and petty disposition. 

The power of persuading and governing the people did, indeed, 
equally belong to both, so that those who had armies and camps at 
command stood in need of their assistance; as Chares, Diopithes, 
and Leosthenes of Demosthenes's, Pompey and young Cxsar of 
Cicero's, as the latter himself admits in his Memoirs addressed to 
Agrippa and Maecenas. But what are thought and commonly said 
most to demonstrate and try the tempers of men, namely, author- 
ity, and place, by moving every passion, and discovering every 
frailty, these are things which Demosthenes never received; nor 
was he ever in a position to give such proof of himself, having never 
obtained any eminent office, nor led any of those armies into the 
field against Philip which he raised by his eloquence. Cicero, on 
the other hand, was sent quaestor into Sicily, and proconsul into 
Cilicia and Cappadocia, at a time when avarice was at the height, 
and the commanders and governors who were employed abroad, 
as though they thought it a mean thing to steal, set themselves to 
seize by open force; so that it seemed no heinous matter to take 
bribes, but he that did it most moderately was in good esteem. And 
yet he, at this time, gave the most abundant proofs alike of his 
contempt of riches and of his humanity and good-nature. And at 
Rome, when he was created consul in name, but indeed received 
sovereign and dictatorial authority against Catiline and his con- 
spirators, he attested the truth of Plato's prediction, that then the 
miseries of states would be at an end, when by a happy fortune 
supreme power, wisdom, and justice should be united in one. 5 

It is said, to the reproach of Demosthenes, that his eloquence was 
mercenary; that he privately made orations for Phormion and 
Apollodorus, though adversaries in the same cause; that he was 
charged with moneys received from the king of Persia, and con- 
demned for bribes from Harpalus. And should we grant that all 
those (and they are not few) who have made these statements 
against him have spoken what is untrue, yet that Demosthenes was 
not the character to look without desire on the presents offered him 
out of respect and gratitude by royal persons, and that one who lent 

* Or, as the dictum is in his Republic, "When the philosopher should be king." 


money on maritime usury was likely to be thus indifferent, is what 
we cannot assert. But that Cicero refused, from the Sicilians when 
he was quxstor, from the king of Cappadocia when he was pro- 
consul, and from his friends at Rome when he was in exile, many 
presents, though urged to receive them, has been said already. 

Moreover, Demosthenes's banishment was infamous, upon con- 
viction for bribery; Cicero's very honorable, for ridding his coun- 
try of a set of villains. Therefore, when Demosthenes fled his coun- 
try, no man regarded it; for Cicero's sake the senate changed their 
habit, and put on mourning, and would not be persuaded to make 
any act before Cicero's return was decreed. Cicero, however, passed 
his exile idly in Macedonia. But the very exile of Demosthenes 
made up a great part of the services he did for his country; for he 
went through the cities of Greece, and everywhere, as we have said, 
joined in the conflict on behalf of the Grecians, driving out the 
Macedonian ambassadors, and approving himself a much better 
citizen than Themistocles and Alcibiades did in the like fortune. 
And, after his return, he again devoted himself to the same pub- 
lic service, and continued firm to his opposition to Antipater and 
the Macedonians. Whereas Lxlius reproached Cicero in the senate 
for sitting silent when Caesar, a beardless youth, asked leave to come 
forward, contrary to the law, as a candidate for the consulship; and 
Brutus, in his epistles, charges him with nursing and rearing a 
greater and more heavy tyranny than that they had removed. 

Finally, Cicero's death excites our pity; for an old man to be 
miserably carried up and down by his servants, flying and hiding 
himself from that death which was, in the course of nature, so near 
at hand; and yet at last to be murdered. Demosthenes, though he 
seemed at first a little to supplicate, yet, by his preparing and keep- 
ing the poison by him, demands our admiration; and still more 
admirable was his using it. When the temple of the god no longer 
afforded him a sanctuary, he took refuge, as it were, at a mightier 
altar, freeing himself from arms and soldiers, and laughing to scorn 
the cruelty of Antipater. 


A FTER Sylla became master of Rome, he wished to make 
L.\ Caesar put away his wife Cornelia, daughter of Cinna, the 
■L. .m. late sole ruler of the commonwealth, but was unable to 
effect it either by promises or intimidation, and so contented him- 
self with confiscating her dowry. The ground of Sylla's hostility 
to Caesar, was the relationship between him and Marius; for Marius, 
the elder, married Julia, the sister of Caesar's father, and had by her 
the younger Marius, who consequently was Caesar's first cousin. 
And though at the beginning, while so many were to be put to 
death and there was so much to do, Caesar was overlooked by 
Sylla, yet he would not keep quiet, but presented himself to the 
people as a candidate for the priesthood, though he was yet a mere 
boy. Sylla, without any open opposition, took measures to have him 
rejected, and in consultation whether he should be put to death, 
when it was urged by some that it was not worth his while to con- 
trive the death of a boy, he answered, that they knew little who 
did not see more than one Marius in that boy. Caesar, on being in- 
formed of this saying, concealed himself, and for a considerable 
time kept out of the way in the country of the Sabines, often chang- 
ing his quarters, till one night, as he was removing from one 
house to another on account of his health, he fell into the hands of 
Sylla's soldiers, who were searching those parts in order to appre- 
hend any who had absconded. Caesar, by a bribe of two talents, 
prevailed with Cornelius, their captain, to let him go, and was 
no sooner dismissed but he put to sea, and made for Bithynia. After 
a short stay there with Nicomedes, the king, in his passage back he 
was taken near the island Pharmacusa by some of the pirates, who, 
at that time, with large fleets of ships and innumerable smaller 
vessels infested the seas everywhere. 

When these men at first demanded of him twenty talents for his 
ransom, he laughed at them for not understanding the value of 


CESAR 265 

their prisoner, and voluntarily engaged to give them fifty. He 
presently despatched those about him to several places to raise the 
money, till at last he was left among a set of the most bloodthirsty 
people in the world, the Cilicians, only with one friend and two 
attendants. Yet he made so little of them, that when he had a mind 
to sleep, he would send to them, and order them to make no noise. 
For thirty-eight days, with all the freedom in the world, he amused 
himself with joining in their exercises and games, as if they had 
not been his keepers, but his guards. He wrote verses and speeches, 
and made them his auditors, and those who did not admire them, 
he called to their faces illiterate and barbarous, and would often, 
in raillery, threaten to hang them. They were greatly taken with 
this, and attributed his free talking to a kind of simplicity and 
boyish playfulness. As soon as his ransom was come from Miletus, 
he paid it, and was discharged, and proceeded at once to man 
some ships at the port of Miletus, and went in pursuit of the pirates, 
whom he surprised with their ships still stationed at the island, and 
took most of them. Their money he made his prize, and the men 
he secured in prison at Pergamus, and made application to Junius, 
who was then governor of Asia, to whose office it belonged, as 
praetor, to determine their punishment. Junius, having his eye upon 
the money, for the sum was considerable, said he would think at 
his leisure what to do with the prisoners, upon which Ca?sar took 
his leave of him, and went off to Pergamus, where he ordered the 
pirates to be brought forth and crucified; the punishment he had 
often threatened them with whilst he was in their hands, and they 
little dreamed he was in earnest. 

In the mean time Sylla's power being now on the decline, Cjesar's 
friends advised him to return to Rome, but he went to Rhodes, and 
entered himself in the school of Apollonius, Molon's son, a famous 
rhetorician, one who had the reputation of a worthy man, and had 
Cicero for one of his scholars. Caesar is said to have been admirably 
fitted by nature to make a great statesman and orator, and to have 
taken such pains to improve his genius this way, that without dis- 
pute he might challenge the second place. More he did not aim at, 
as choosing to be first rather amongst men of arms and power, and, 
therefore, never rose to that height of eloquence to which nature 

266 plutarch's lives 

would have carried him, his attention being diverted to those ex- 
peditions and designs which at length gained him the empire. And 
he himself, in his answer to Cicero's panegyric on Cato, desires his 
reader not to compare the plain discourse of a soldier with the 
harangues of an orator who had not only fine parts, but had em- 
ployed his life in this study. 

When he was returned to Rome, he accused Dolabella of mal- 
administration, and many cities of Greece came in to attest it. Dola- 
bella was acquitted, and Caesar, in return for the support he had 
received from the Greeks, assisted them in their prosecution of 
Publius Antonius for corrupt practices, before Marcus Lucullus, 
praetor of Macedonia. In this cause he so far succeeded, that An- 
tonius was forced to appeal to the tribunes at Rome, alleging that in 
Greece he could not have fair play against Grecians. In his plead- 
ings at Rome, his eloquence soon obtained him great credit and 
favor, and he won no less upon the affections of the people by the 
affability of his manners and address, in which he showed a tact 
and consideration beyond what could have been expected at his 
age; and the open house he kept, the entertainments he gave, and 
the general splendor of his manner of life contributed little by 
little to create and increase his political influence. His enemies 
slighted the growth of it at first, presuming it would soon fail when 
his money was gone; whilst in the mean time it was growing up 
and flourishing among the common people. When his power at 
last was established and not to be overthrown, and now openly 
tended to the altering of the whole constitution, they were aware 
too late, that there is no beginning so mean, which continued appli- 
cation will not make considerable, and that despising a danger at 
first, will make it at last irresistible. Cicero was the first who 
had any suspicions of his designs upon the government, and, as 
a good pilot is apprehensive of a storm when the sea is most 
smiling, saw the designing temper of the man through this dis- 
guise of good-humor and affability, and said, that in general, in 
all he did and undertook, he detected the ambition for absolute 
power, "but when I see his hair so carefully arranged, and observe 
him adjusting it with one finger, I cannot imagine it should enter 


into such a man's thoughts to subvert the Roman state." But of this 
more hereafter. 

The first proof he had of the people's good-will to him, was when 
he received by their suffrages a tribuneship in the army, and came 
out on the list with a higher place than Caius Popilius. A second 
and clearer instance of their favor appeared upon his making a mag- 
nificent oration in praise of his aunt Julia, wife to Marius, publicly 
in the forum, at whose funeral he was so bold as to bring forth the 
images of Marius, which nobody had dared to produce since the 
government came into Sylla's hands, Marius's party having from 
that time been declared enemies of the State. When some who were 
present had begun to raise a cry against Caesar, the people an- 
swered with loud shouts and clapping in his favor, expressing their 
joyful surprise and satisfaction at his having, as it were, brought 
up again from the grave those honors of Marius, which for so 
long a time had been lost to the city. It had always been the cus- 
tom at Rome to make funeral orations in praise of elderly matrons, 
but there was no precedent of any upon young women till Caesar 
first made one upon the death of his own wife. This also procured 
him favor, and by this show of affection he won upon the feelings 
of the people, who looked upon him as a man of great tenderness 
and kindness of heart. After he had buried his wife, he went as 
quarstor into Spain under one of the prauors, named Vetus, whom 
he honored ever after, and made his son his own quxstor, when he 
himself came to be prztor. After this employment was ended, he 
married Pompeia, his third wife, having then a daughter by Cor- 
nelia, his first wife, whom he afterwards married to Pompey the 
Great. He was so profuse in his expenses, that before he had any 
public employment, he was in debt thirteen hundred talents, and 
many thought that by incurring such expense to be popular, he 
changed a solid good for what would prove but a short and un- 
certain return; but in truth he was purchasing what was of the 
greatest value at an inconsiderable rate. When he was made sur- 
veyor of the Appian Way, he disbursed, besides the public money, 
a great sum out of his private purse; and when he was xdile, he 
provided such a number of gladiators, that he entertained the people 

268 plutarch's lives 

with three hundred and twenty single combats, and by his great 
liberality and magnificence in theatrical shows, in processions, and 
public feastings, he threw into the shade all the attempts that had 
been made before him, and gained so much upon the people, that 
every one was eager to find out new offices and new honors for him 
in return for his munificence. 

There being two factions in the city, one that of Sylla, which 
was very powerful, the other that of Marius, which was then broken 
and in a very low condition, he undertook to revive this and to 
make it his own. And to this end, whilst he was in the height of 
his repute with the people for the magnificent shows he gave as 
aedile, he ordered images of Marius, and figures of Victory, with 
trophies in their hands, to be carried privately in the night and 
placed in the capitol. Next morning, when some saw them bright 
with gold and beautifully made, with inscriptions upon them, re- 
ferring to Marius's exploits over the Cimbrians, they were surprised 
at the boldness of him who had set them up, nor was it difficult to 
guess who it was. The fame of this soon spread and brought to- 
gether a great concourse of people. Some cried out that it was an 
open attempt against the established government thus to revive 
those honors which had been buried by the laws and decrees of the 
senate; that Caesar had done it to sound the temper of the people 
whom he had prepared before, and to try whether they were tame 
enough to bear his humor, and would quietly give way to his in- 
novations. On the other hand, Marius's party took courage, and it 
was incredible how numerous they were suddenly seen to be, and 
what a multitude of them appeared and came shouting into the 
capitol. Many, when they saw Marius's likeness, cried for joy, and 
Caesar was highly extolled as the one man, in the place of all others, 
who was a relation worthy of Marius. Upon this the senate met, 
and Catulus Lutatius, one of the most eminent Romans of that 
time, stood up and inveighed against Caesar, closing his speech 
with the remarkable saying, that Caesar was now not working 
mines, but planting batteries to overthrow the state. But when 
Caesar had made an apology for himself, and satisfied the senate, his 
admirers were very much animated, and advised him not to depart 
from his own thoughts for any one, since with the people's good 

CiESAR 269 

favor he would erelong get the better of them all, and be the first 
man in the commonwealth. 

At this time, Metellus, the High-Priest, died, and Catulus and 
Isauricus, persons of the highest reputation, and who had great in- 
fluence in the senate, were competitors for the office; yet Caesar 
would not give way to them, but presented himself to the people as 
a candidate against them. The several parties seeming very equal, 
Catulus, who, because he had the most honor to lose, was the most 
apprehensive of the event, sent to Cxsar to buy him off, with offers 
of a great sum of money. But his answer was, that he was ready 
to borrow a larger sum than that, to carry on the contest. Upon the 
day of election, as his mother conducted him out of doors with 
tears, after embracing her, "My mother," he said, "to-day you will 
see me either High-Priest, or an exile." When the votes were taken, 
after a great struggle, he carried it, and excited among the senate 
and nobility great alarm lest he might now urge on the people to 
every kind of insolence. And Piso and Catulus found fault with 
Cicero for having let Csesar escape, when in the conspiracy of 
Catiline he had given the government such advantage against him. 
For Catiline, who had designed not only to change the present 
state of affairs, but to subvert the whole empire and confound all, 
had himself taken to flight, while the evidence was yet incomplete 
against him, before his ultimate purposes had been properly dis- 
covered. But he had left Lentulus and Cethegus in the city to 
supply his place in the conspiracy, and whether they received any 
secret encouragement and assistance from Caesar is uncertain; all 
that is certain is, that they were fully convicted in the senate, and 
when Cicero, the consul, asked the several opinions of the senators, 
how they would have them punished, all who spoke before Csesar 
sentenced them to death; but Caesar stood up and made a set speech, 
in which he told them, that he thought it without precedent and 
not just to take away the lives of persons of their birth and distinc- 
tion before they were fairly tried, unless there was an absolute ne- 
cessity for it; but that if they were kept confined in any towns of 
Italy Cicero himself should choose, till Catiline was defeated, then 
the senate might in peace and at their leisure determine what was 
best to be done. 


This sentence of his carried so much appearance of humanity, 
and he gave it such advantage by the eloquence with which he 
urged it, that not only those who spoke after him closed with it, 
but even they who had before given a contrary opinion, now came 
over to his, till it came about to Catulus's and Cato's turn to speak. 
They warmly opposed it, and Cato intimated in his speech the sus- 
picion of Caesar himself, and pressed the matter so strongly, that 
the criminals were given up to suffer execution. As Caesar was 
going out of the senate, many of the young men who at that time 
acted as guards to Cicero, ran in with their naked swords to assault 
him. But Curio, it is said, threw his gown over him, and conveyed 
him away, and Cicero himself, when the young men looked up to see 
his wishes, gave a sign not to kill him, either for fear of the people, or 
because he thought the murder unjust and illegal. If this be true, I 
wonder how Cicero came to omit all mention of it in his book about 
his consulship. He was blamed, however, afterwards, for not having 
made use of so fortunate an opportunity against Caesar, as if he 
had let it escape him out of fear of the populace, who, indeed, 
showed remarkable solicitude about Caesar, and some time after, 
when he went into the senate to clear himself of the suspicions he 
lay under, and found great clamors raised against him, upon the 
senate in consequence sitting longer than ordinary, they went up 
to the house in a tumult, and beset it, demanding Caesar, and re- 
quiring them to dismiss him. Upon this, Cato, much fearing some 
movement among the poor citizens, who were always the first to 
kindle the flame among the people, and placed all their hopes 
in Caesar, persuaded the senate to give them a monthly allowance of 
corn, an expedient which put the commonwealth to the extraordi- 
nary charge of seven million five hundred thousand drachmas in 
the year, but quite succeeded in removing the great cause of terror 
for the present, and very much weakened Caesar's power, who at 
that time was just going to be made praetor, and consequently would 
have been more formidable by his office. 

But there was no disturbance during his praetorship, only what 
misfortune he met with in his own domestic affairs. Publius Clo- 
dius was a patrician by descent, eminent both for his riches and 
eloquence, but in licentiousness of life and audacity exceeded the 

CiCSAR 271 

most noted profligates of the day. He was in love with Pompeia, 
Caesar's wife, and she had no aversion to him. But there was strict 
watch kept on her apartment, and Caesar's mother, Aurelia, who 
was a discreet woman, being continually about her, made any inter- 
view very dangerous and difficult. The Romans have a goddess 
whom they call Bona, the same whom the Greeks call Gynaccea. 
The Phrygians, who claim a peculiar title to her, say she was 
mother to Midas. The Romans profess she was one of the Dryads, 
and married to Faun us. The Grecians affirm that she is the mother 
of Bacchus whose name is not to be uttered, and, for this reason, 
the women who celebrate her festival, cover the tents with vine- 
branches, and, in accordance with the fable, a consecrated serpent 
is placed by the goddess. It is not lawful for a man to be by, nor 
so much as in the house, whilst the rites are celebrated, but the 
women by themselves perform the sacred offices, which are said to 
be much the same with those used in the solemnities of Orpheus. 
When the festival comes, the husband, who is either consul or 
prxtor, and with him every male creature, quits the house. The 
wife then taking it under her care, sets it in order, and the principal 
ceremonies are performed during the night, the women playing 
together amongst themselves as they keep watch, and music of 
various kinds going on. 

As Pompeia was at that time celebrating this feast, Clodius, who 
as yet had no beard, and so thought to pass undiscovered, took upon 
him the dress and ornaments of a singing woman, and so came 
thither, having the air of a young girl. Finding the doors open, he 
was without any stop introduced by the maid, who was in the in- 
trigue. She presently ran to tell Pompeia, but as she was away a 
long time, he grew uneasy waiting for her, and left his post and 
traversed the house from one room to another, still taking care to 
avoid the lights, till at last Aurelia's woman met him, and invited 
him to play with her, as the women did among themselves. He 
refused to comply, and she presently pulled him forward, and asked 
him who he was, and whence he came. Clodius told her he was 
waiting for Pompeia's own maid, Abra, 1 being in fact her own 

1 Abra was the Greek word for the favorite waiting-maid; and was, also, this girl's 
own proper name. Clodius said he was waiting for Pompeia's Abra, that being, also, 
as it happened, her name. 


name also, and as he said so, betrayed himself by his voice. Upon 
which the woman shrieking, ran into the company where there 
were lights, and cried out, she had discovered a man. The women 
were all in a fright. Aurelia covered up the sacred things and 
stopped the proceedings, and having ordered the doors to be shut, 
went about with lights to find Clodius, who was got in the maid's 
room that he had come in with, and was seized there. The women 
knew him, and drove him out of doors, and at once, that same 
night, went home and told their husbands the story. In the morn- 
ing, it was all about the town, what an impious attempt Clodius 
had made, and how he ought to be punished as an offender, not 
only against those whom he had affronted, but also against the 
public and the gods. Upon which one of the tribunes impeached 
him for profaning the holy rites, and some of the principal senators 
combined together and gave evidence against him, that besides 
many other horrible crimes, he had been guilty of incest with his 
own sister, who was married to Lucullus. But the people set them- 
selves against this combination of the nobility, and defended Clo- 
dius, which was of great service to him with the judges, who took 
alarm and were afraid to provoke the multitude. Caesar at once dis- 
missed Pompeia, but being summoned as a witness against Clodius, 
said he had nothing to charge him with. This looking like a para- 
dox, the accuser asked him why he parted with his wife. Caesar re- 
plied, "I wished my wife to be not so much as suspected." Some 
say that Caesar spoke this as his real thought; others, that he did it 
to gratify the people, who were earnest to save Clodius. Clodius, at 
any rate, escaped; most of the judges giving their opinions so writ- 
ten as to be illegible, that they might not be in danger from the 
people by condemning him, nor in disgrace with the nobility by 
acquitting him. 

Caesar, in the mean time, being out of his pranorship, had got 
the province of Spain, but was in great embarrassment with his 
creditors, who, as he was going off, came upon him, and were very 
pressing and importunate. This led him to apply himself to Cras- 
sus, who was the richest man in Rome, but wanted Caesar's youth- 
ful vigor and heat to sustain the opposition against Pompey. Cras- 
sus took upon him to satisfy those creditors who were not uneasy 

CiESAR 273 

to him, and would not be put off any longer, and engaged himself 
to the amount of eight hundred and thirty talents, upon which 
Caesar was now at liberty to go to his province. In his journey, as 
he was crossing the Alps, and passing by a small village of the 
barbarians with but few inhabitants and those wretchedly poor, 
his companions asked the question among themselves by way of 
mockery, if there were any canvassing for offices there; any con- 
tention which should be uppermost, or feuds of great men one 
against another. To which Caesar made answer seriously, "For my 
part, I had rather be the first man among these fellows, than the 
second man in Rome." It is said that another time, when free from 
business in Spain, after reading some part of the history of Alexan- 
der, he sat a great while very thoughtful, and at last burst out into 
tears. His friends were surprised, and asked him the reason of it. 
"Do you think," said he, "I have not just cause to weep, when I 
consider that Alexander at my age had conquered so many nations, 
and I have all this time done nothing that is memorable?" As soon 
as he came into Spain he was very active, and in a few days had 
got together ten new cohorts of foot in addition to the twenty which 
were there before. With these he marched against the Calaici and 
Lusitani and conquered them, and advancing as far as the ocean, 
subdued the tribes which never before had been subject to the Ro- 
mans. Having managed his military affairs with good success, he 
was equally happy in the course of his civil government. He took 
pains to establish a good understanding amongst the several states, 
and no less care to heal the differences between debtors and credi- 
tors. He ordered that the creditor should receive two parts of the 
debtor's yearly income, and that the other part should be managed 
by the debtor himself, till by this method the whole debt was at last 
discharged. This conduct made him leave his province with a fair 
reputation; being rich himself, and having enriched his soldiers, and 
having received from them the honorable name of Imperator. 

There is a law among the Romans, that whoever desires the honor 
of a triumph must stay without the city and expect his answer. And 
another, that those who stand for the consulship shall appear per- 
sonally upon the place. Caesar was come home at the very time of 
choosing consuls, and being in a difficulty between these two op- 

274 plutarch's lives 

posite laws, sent to the senate a desire that since he was obliged to 
be absent, he might sue for the consulship by his friends. Cato, 
being backed by the law, at first opposed his request; afterwards 
perceiving that Caesar had prevailed with a great part of the senate 
to comply with it, he made it his business to gain time, and went on 
wasting the whole day in speaking. Upon which Caesar thought fit 
to let the triumph fall, and pursued the consulship. Entering the 
town and coming forward immediately, he had recourse to a piece 
of state-policy by which everybody was deceived but Cato. This 
was the reconciling of Crassus and Pompey, the two men who then 
were most powerful in Rome. There had been a quarrel between 
them, which he now succeeded in making up, and by this means 
strengthened himself by the united power of both, and so under 
the cover of an action which carried all the appearance of a piece 
of kindness and good-nature, caused what was in effect a revolution 
in the government. For it was not the quarrel between Pompey 
and Caesar, as most men imagine, which was the origin of the civil 
wars, but their union, their conspiring together at first to subvert 
the aristocracy, and so quarreling afterwards between themselves. 
Cato, who often foretold what the consequence of this alliance 
would be, had then the character of a sullen, interfering man, but 
in the end the reputation of a wise but unsuccessful counsellor. 

Thus Caesar being doubly supported by the interests of Crassus 
and Pompey, was promoted to the consulship, and triumphantly 
proclaimed with Calpurnius Bibulus. When he entered on his 
office, he brought in bills which would have been preferred with 
better grace by the most audacious of the tribunes than by a con- 
sul, in which he proposed the plantation of colonies and division of 
lands, simply to please the commonalty. The best and most honor- 
able of the senators opposed it, upon which, as he had long wished 
for nothing more than for such a colorable pretext, he loudly pro- 
tested how much against his will it was to be driven to seek sup- 
port from the people, and how the senate's insulting and harsh con- 
duct left no other course possible for him, than to devote himself 
henceforth to the popular cause and interest. And so he hurried 
out of the senate, and presenting himself to the people, and there 
placing Crassus and Pompey, one on each side of him, he asked 

CESAR 275 

them whether they consented to the bills he had proposed. They 
owned their assent, upon which he desired them to assist him 
against those who had threatened to oppose him with their swords. 
They engaged they would, and Pompey added further, that he 
would meet their swords with a sword and buckler too. These 
words the nobles much resented, as neither suitable to his own dig- 
nity, nor becoming the reverence due to the senate, but resembling 
rather the vehemence of a boy, or the fury of a madman. But the 
people were pleased with it. In order to get a yet firmer hold upon 
Pompey, Caesar having a daughter, Julia, who had been before 
contracted to Servilius Caepio, now betrothed her to Pompey, and 
told Servilius he should have Pompey's daughter, who was not un- 
engaged either, but promised to Sylla's son, Faustus. A little time 
after, Caesar married Calpurnia, the daughter of Piso, and got Piso 
made consul for the year following. Cato exclaimed loudly against 
this, and protested with a great deal of warmth, that it was intoler- 
able the government should be prostituted by marriages, and that 
they should advance one another to the commands of armies, prov- 
inces, and other great posts, by means of women. Bibulus, Caesar's 
colleague, finding it was to no purpose to oppose his bills, but that 
he was in danger of being murdered in the forum, as also was Cato, 
confined himself to his house, and there let the remaining part of 
his consulship expire. Pompey, when he was married, at once filled 
the forum with soldiers, and gave the people his help in passing 
the new laws, and secured Caesar the government of all Gaul, both 
on this and the other side of the Alps, together with Illyricum and 
the command of four legions for five years. Cato made some at- 
tempts against these proceedings, but was seized and led off on the 
way to prison by Caesar, who expected he would appeal to the trib- 
unes. But when he saw that Cato went along without speaking 
a word, and not only the nobility were indignant, but that the peo- 
ple, also, out of respect for Cato's virtue, were following in silence, 
and with dejected looks, he himself privately desired one of the 
tribunes to rescue Cato. As for the other senators, some few of 
them attended the house, the rest being disgusted, absented them- 
selves. Hence Considius, a very old man, took occasion one day 
to tell Caesar, that the senators did not meet because they were 

276 plutarch's lives 

afraid of his soldiers. Cxsar asked, "Why don't you then, out of 
the same fear, keep at home?" To which Considius replied, that 
age was his guard against fear, and that the small remains of his 
life were not worth much caution. But the most disgraceful thing 
that was done in Caesar's consulship, was his assisting to gain the 
tribuneship for the same Clodius who had made the attempt upon 
his wife's chastity, and intruded upon the secret vigils. He was 
elected on purpose to effect Cicero's downfall; nor did Cxsar leave 
the city to join his army, till they two had overpowered Cicero, and 
driven him out of Italy. 

Thus far we have followed Caesar's actions before the wars of 
Gaul. After this, he seems to begin his course afresh, and to enter 
upon a new life and scene of action. And the period of those wars 
which he now fought, and those many expeditions in which he sub- 
dued Gaul, showed him to be a soldier and general not in the 
least inferior to any of the greatest and most admired commanders 
who had ever appeared at the head of armies. For if we compare 
him with the Fabii, the Metelli, the Scipios, and with those who 
were his contemporaries, or not long before him, Sylla Marius, the 
two Luculli, or even Pompey himself, whose glory, it may be said, 
went up at that time to heaven for every excellence in war, we shall 
find Caesar's actions to have surpassed them all. One he may be 
held to have outdone in consideration of the difficulty of the coun- 
try in which he fought, another in the extent of territory which he 
conquered; some, in the number and strength of the enemies whom 
he defeated; one man, because of the wildness and perfidiousness 
of the tribes whose good-will he conciliated, another in his human- 
ity and clemency to those he overpowered; others, again in his gifts 
and kindnesses to his soldiers; all alike in the number of the battles 
which he fought and the enemies whom he killed. For he had not 
pursued the wars in Gaul full ten years, when he had taken by 
storm above eight hundred towns, subdued three hundred states, 
and of the three millions of men, who made up the gross sum of 
those with whom at several times he engaged, he had killed one 
million, and taken captive a second. 

He was so much master of the good-will and hearty service of his 
soldiers, that those who in other expeditions were but ordinary men, 

CESAR 277 

displayed a courage past defeating or withstanding when they went 
upon any danger where Caesar's glory was concerned. Such a one 
was Acilius, who, in the sea-fight before Marseilles, had his right 
hand struck off with a sword, yet did not quit his buckler out of his 
left, but struck the enemies in the face with it, till he drove them 
off, and made himself master of the vessel. Such another was Cas- 
sius Scaeva, who, in a battle near Dyrrhachium, had one of his eyes 
shot out with an arrow, his shoulder pierced with one javelin, and 
his thigh with another; and having received one hundred and thirty 
darts upon his target, called to the enemy, as though he would sur- 
render himself. But when two of them came up to him, he cut off 
the shoulder of one with a sword, and by a blow over the face 
forced the other to retire, and so with the assistance of his friends, 
who now came up, made his escape. Again, in Britain, when some 
of the foremost officers had accidentally got into a morass full of 
water, and there were assaulted by the enemy, a common soldier, 
whilst Caesar stood and looked on, threw himself into the midst 
of them, and after many signal demonstrations of his valor, rescued 
the officers, and beat off the barbarians. He himself, in the end, took 
to the water, and with much difficulty, pardy by swimming, pardy 
by wading, passed it, but in the passage lost his shield. Caesar and 
his officers saw it and admired, and went to meet him with joy and 
acclamation. But the soldier, much dejected and in tears, threw him- 
self down at Caesar's feet, and begged his pardon for having let 
go his buckler. Another time in Africa, Scipio having taken a ship 
of Caesar's in which Granius Petro, lately appointed quaestor, was 
sailing, gave the other passengers as free prize to his soldiers, but 
thought fit to offer the quaestor his life. But he said it was not usual 
for Caesar's soldiers to take, but give mercy, and having said so, fell 
upon his sword and killed himself. 

This love of honor and passion for distinction were inspired into 
them and cherished in them by Caesar himself, who, by his unspar- 
ing distribution of money and honors, showed them that he did 
not heap up wealth from the wars for his own luxury, or the 
gratifying his private pleasures, but that all he received was but a 
public fund laid by for the reward and encouragement of valor, and 
that he looked upon all he gave to deserving soldiers as so much 

278 Plutarch's lives 

increase to his own riches. Added to this, also, there was no danger 
to which he did not willingly expose himself, no labor from which 
he pleaded an exemption. His contempt of danger was not so much 
wondered at by his soldiers, because they knew how much he cov- 
eted honor. But his enduring so much hardship, which he did to 
all appearance beyond his natural strength, very much astonished 
them. For he was a spare man, had a soft and white skin, was dis- 
tempered in the head, and subject to an epilepsy, which, it is said, 
first seized him at Corduba. But he did not make the weakness 
of his constitution a pretext for his ease, but rather used war as the 
best physic against his indispositions; whilst by indefatigable jour- 
neys, coarse diet, frequent lodging in the field, and continual la- 
borious exercise, he struggled with his diseases, and fortified his 
body against all attacks. He slept generally in his chariots or lit- 
ters, employing even his rest in pursuit of action. In the day he 
was thus carried to the forts, garrisons, and camps, one servant 
sitting with him, who used to write down what he dictated as he 
went, and a soldier attending behind with his sword drawn. He 
drove so rapidly, that when he first left Rome, he arrived at the 
river Rhone within eight days. He had been an expert rider from 
his childhood; for it was usual with him to sit with his hands joined 
together behind his back, and so to put his horse to its full speed. 
And in this war he disciplined himself so far as to be able to dic- 
tate letters from on horseback, and to give directions to two who 
took notes at the same time, or, as Oppius says, to more. And it is 
thought that he was the first who contrived means for communicat- 
ing with friends by cipher, when either press of business, or the 
large extent of the city, left him no time for a personal conference 
about matters that required despatch. How little nice he was in 
his diet, may be seen in the following instance. When at the table 
of Valerius Leo, who entertained him at supper at Milan, a dish of 
asparagus was put before him, on which his host instead of oil had 
poured sweet ointment. Caesar partook of it without any disgust, 
and reprimanded his friends for finding fault with it. "For it was 
enough," said he, "not to eat what you did not like; but he who 
reflects on another man's want of breeding, shows he wants it as 
much himself." Another time upon the road he was driven by a 

CiESAR 279 

storm into a poor man's cottage, where he found but one room, and 
that such as would afford but a mean reception to a single person, 
and therefore told his companions, places of honor should be given 
up to the greater men, and necessary accommodations to the weaker, 
and accordingly ordered that Oppius, who was in bad health, should 
lodge within, whilst he and the rest slept under a shed at the door. 

His first war in Gaul was against the Helvetians and Tigurini, 
who having burnt their own towns, twelve in number, and four 
hundred villages, would have marched forward through that part 
of Gaul which was included in the Roman province, as the Cim- 
brians and Teutons formerly had done. Nor were they inferior to 
these in courage; and in numbers they were equal, being in all 
three hundred thousand, of which one hundred and ninety thou- 
sand were fighting men. Carsar did not engage the Tigurini in 
person, but Labienus, under his directions, routed them near the 
river Arar. The Helvetians surprised Caesar, and unexpectedly set 
upon him as he was conducting his army to a confederate town. He 
succeeded, however, in making his retreat into a strong position, 
where, when he had mustered and marshalled his men, his horse 
was brought to him; upon which he said, "When I have won the 
battle, I will use my horse for the chase, but at present let us go 
against the enemy," and accordingly charged them on foot. After a 
long and severe combat, he drove the main army out of the field, 
but found the hardest work at their carriages and ramparts, where 
not only the men stood and fought but the women also and children 
defended themselves, till they were cut to pieces; insomuch that the 
fight was scarcely ended till midnight. This action, glorious in it- 
self, Carsar crowned with another yet more noble, by gathering in a 
body all the barbarians that had escaped out of the battle, above 
one hundred thousand in number, and obliging them to reoccupy 
the country which they had deserted, and the cities which they had 
burnt. This he did for fear the Germans should pass in and possess 
themselves of the land whilst it lay uninhabited. 

His second war was in defence of the Gauls against the Germans, 
though some time before he had made Ariovistus, their king, recog- 
nized at Rome as an ally. But they were very insufferable neigh- 
bours to those under his government; and it was probable, when 

280 plutarch's lives 

occasion offered, they would renounce the present arrangements, 
and march on to occupy Gaul. But finding his officers timorous, 
and especially those of the young nobility who came along with him 
in hopes of turning their campaigns with him into a means for their 
own pleasure or profit, he called them together, and advised them 
to march off, and not run the hazard of a battle against their inclina- 
tions, since they had such weak and unmanly feelings; telling them 
that he would take only the tenth legion, and march against the 
barbarians, whom he did not expect to find an enemy more for- 
midable than the Cimbri, nor, he added, should they find him a 
general inferior to Marius. Upon this, the tenth legion deputed 
some of their body to pay him their acknowledgments and thanks, 
and the other legions blamed their officers, and all, with great vigor 
and zeal, followed him many days' journey till they encamped 
within two hundred furlongs of the enemy. Ariovistus's courage 
to some extent was cooled upon their very approach; for never ex- 
pecting the Romans would attack the Germans, whom he had 
thought it more likely they would not venture to withstand even 
in defence of their own subjects, he was the more surprised at Cae- 
sar's conduct, and saw his army to be in consternation. They were 
still more discouraged by the prophecies of their holy women, who 
foretell the future by observing the eddies of rivers, and taking 
signs from the windings and noise of streams, and who now warned 
them not to engage before the next new moon appeared. Caesar 
having had intimation of this, and seeing the Germans lie still, 
thought it expedient to attack them whilst they were under these 
apprehensions, rather than sit still and wait their time. Accordingly 
he made his approaches to the strongholds and hills on which they 
lay encamped, and so galled and fretted them, that at last they 
came down with great fury to engage. But he gained a signal vic- 
tory, and pursued them for four hundred furlongs, as far as the 
Rhine; all which space was covered with spoils and bodies of the 
slain. Ariovistus made shift to pass the Rhine with the small re- 
mains of an army, for it is said the number of the slain amounted 
to eighty thousand. 

After this action, Caesar left his army at their winter-quarters in 
the country of the Sequani, and in order to attend to affairs at Rome, 

CESAR 28l 

went into that part of Gaul which lies on the Po, and was part of 
his province; for the river Rubicon divides Gaul, which is on this 
side the Alps, from the rest of Italy. There he sat down and em- 
ployed himself in courting people's favor; great numbers coming 
to him continually, and always finding their requests answered; 
for he never failed to dismiss all with present pledges of his kind- 
ness in hand, and further hopes for the future. And during all this 
time of the war in Gaul, Pompey never observed how Caesar was 
on the one hand using the arms of Rome to effect his conquests, and 
on the other was gaining over and securing to himself the favor of 
the Romans, with the wealth which those conquests obtained him. 
But when he heard that the Belgae, who were the most powerful of 
all the Gauls, and inhabited a third part of the country, were re- 
volted, and had got together a great many thousand men in arms, 
he immediately set out and took his way thither with great expedi- 
tion, and falling upon the enemy as they were ravaging the Gauls, 
his allies, he soon defeated and put to flight the largest and least 
scattered division of them. For though their numbers were great, 
yet they made but a slender defence, and the marshes and deep 
rivers were made passable to the Roman foot by the vast quantity 
of dead bodies. Of those who revolted, all the tribes that lived near 
the ocean came over without fighting, and he, therefore, led his 
army against the Nervii, the fiercest and most warlike people of 
all in those parts. These live in a country covered with continuous 
woods, and having lodged their children and property out of the 
way in the depth of the forest, fell upon Caesar with a body of sixty 
thousand men, before he was prepared for them, while he was mak- 
ing his encampment. They soon routed his cavalry, and having sur- 
rounded the twelfth and seventh legions, killed all the officers, and 
had not Carsar himself snatched up a buckler, and forced his way 
through his own men to come up to the barbarians, or had not the 
tenth legion, when they saw him in danger, run in from the tops of 
the hills, where they lay, and broken through the enemy's ranks 
to rescue him, in all probability not a Roman would have been 
saved. But now, under the influence of Caesar's bold example, they 
fought a battle, as the phrase is, of more than human courage, and 
yet with their utmost efforts they were not able to drive the enemy 

282 plutarch's lives 

out of the field, but cut them down fighting in their defence. For 
out of sixty thousand men, it is stated that not above five hundred 
survived the battle, and of four hundred of their senators not above 

When the Roman senate had received news of this, they voted 
sacrifices and festivals to the gods, to be strictly observed for the 
space of fifteen days, a longer space than ever was observed for any 
victory before. The danger to which they had been exposed by the 
joint outbreak of such a number of nations was felt to have been 
great; and the people's fondness for Caesar gave additional lustre to 
successes achieved by him. He now, after settling everything in 
Gaul, came back again, and spent the winter by the Po, in order 
to carry on the designs he had in hand at Rome. All who were 
candidates for offices used his assistance, and were supplied with 
money from him to corrupt the people and buy their votes, in return 
of which, when they were chosen, they did all things to advance his 
power. But what was more considerable, the most eminent and 
powerful men in Rome in great numbers came to visit him at Lucca, 
Pompey, and Crassus, and Appius, the governor of Sardinia, and 
Nepos, the proconsul of Spain, so that there were in the place at 
one time one hundred and twenty lictors, and more than two hun- 
dred senators. In deliberation here held, it was determined that 
Pompey and Crassus should be consuls again for the following 
year; that Caesar should have a fresh supply of money, and that his 
command should be renewed to him for five years more. It seemed 
very extravagant to all thinking men, that those very persons who 
had received so much money from Caesar should persuade the sen- 
ate to grant him more, as if he were in want. Though in truth it 
was not so much upon persuasion as compulsion, that, with sor- 
row and groans for their own acts, they passed the measure. Cato 
was not present, for they had sent him seasonably out of the way 
into Cyprus; but Favonius, who was a zealous imitator of Cato, 
when he found he could do no good by opposing it, broke out of 
the house, and loudly declaimed against these proceedings to the 
people, but none gave him any hearing; some slighting him out of 
respect to Crassus and Pompey, and the greater part to gratify 
Caesar, on whom depended their hopes. 

CJESAX. 283 

After this, Ca»sar returned again to his forces in Gaul, where he 
found that country involved in a dangerous war, two strong na- 
tions of the Germans having lately passed the Rhine, to conquer it; 
one of them called the Usipes, the other the Tenteritac. 2 Of the war 
with this people, Caesar himself has given this account in his com- 
mentaries, that the barbarians, having sent ambassadors to treat 
with him, did, during the treaty, set upon him in his march, by 
which means with eight hundred men they routed five thousand 
of his horse, who did not suspect their coming; that afterwards they 
sent other ambassadors to renew the same fraudulent practices, 
whom he kept in custody, and led on his army against the barba- 
rians, as judging it mere simplicity to keep faith with those who 
had so faithlessly broken the terms they had agreed to. But Tanu- 
sius states, that when the senate decreed festivals and sacrifices for 
this victory, Cato declared it to be his opinion that Caesar ought to 
be given into the hands of the barbarians, that so the guilt which 
this breach of faith might otherwise bring upon the state, might 
be expiated by transferring the curse on him, who was the occa- 
sion of it. Of those who passed the Rhine, there were four hundred 
thousand cut off; those few who escaped were sheltered by the 
Sugambri, a people of Germany. Caesar took hold of this pretence 
to invade the Germans, being at the same time ambitious of the 
honor of being the first man that should pass the Rhine with an 
army. He carried a bridge across it, though it was very wide, and 
the current at that particular point very full, strong, and violent, 
bringing down with its waters trunks of trees, and other lumber, 
which much shook and weakened the foundations of his bridge. 
But he drove great piles of wood into the bottom of the river above 
the passage, to catch and stop these as they floated down, and thus 
fixing his bridle upon the stream, successfully finished his bridge, 
which no one who saw could believe to be the work but of ten 

In the passage of his army over it, he met with no opposition; 
the Suevi themselves, who are the most warlike people of all Ger- 

1 The Usipetcs and Tenctcri of Cxsar's own narrative. The Sugambri below are 
the same as the Sigambri or Sicambri in the neighborhood of the river Sicg. Tanusius 
was an historical writer, and is quoted by Suetonius. The bridge was probably a little 
below Coolenz. 

284 plutarch's lives 

many, flying with their effects into the deepest and most densely 
wooded valleys. When he had burnt all the enemy's country, and 
encouraged those who embraced the Roman interest, he went back 
into Gaul, after eighteen days' stay in Germany. But his expedition 
into Britain was the most famous testimony of his courage. For 
he was the first who brought a navy into the western ocean, or who 
sailed into the Atlantic with an army to make war; and by invading 
an island, the reported extent of which had made its existence a 
matter of controversy among historians, many of whom questioned 
whether it were not a mere name and fiction, not a real place, he 
might be said to have carried the Roman empire beyond the limits 
of the known world. He passed thither twice from that part of 
Gaul which lies over against it, and in several battles which he 
fought, did more hurt to the enemy than service to himself, for the 
islanders were so miserably poor, that they had nothing worth being 
plundered of. When he found himself unable to put such an end 
to the war as he wished, he was content to take hostages from the 
king, and to impose a tribute, and then quitted the island. At his 
arrival in Gaul, he found letters which lay ready to be conveyed 
over the water to him from his friends at Rome, announcing his 
daughter's death, who died in labor of a child by Pompey. Csesar 
and Pompey both were much afflicted with her death, nor were 
their friends less disturbed, believing that the alliance was now 
broken, which had hitherto kept the sickly commonwealth in peace, 
for the child also died within a few days after the mother. The 
people took the body of Julia, in spite of the opposition of the 
tribunes, and carried it into the field of Mars, and there her funeral 
rites were performed, and her remains are laid. 

Caesar's army was now grown very numerous, so that he was 
forced to disperse them into various camps for their winter-quarters, 
and he having gone himself to Italy, as he used to do, in his ab- 
sence a general outbreak throughout the whole of Gaul com- 
menced, and large armies marched about the country, and attacked 
the Roman quarters, and attempted to make themselves masters of 
the forts where they lay. The greatest and strongest party of the 
rebels, under the command of Abriorix, cut off Cotta and Titurius 
with all their men, while a force of sixty thousand strong besieged 

CiESAR 285 

the legion under the command of Cicero,' and had almost taken 
it by storm, the Roman soldiers being all wounded, and having 
quite spent themselves by a defence beyond their natural strength. 
But Caesar, who was at a great distance, having received the news, 
quickly got together seven thousand men, and hastened to relieve 
Cicero. The besiegers were aware of it, and went to meet him, 
with great confidence that they should easily overpower such an 
handful of men. Caesar, to increase their presumption, seemed to 
avoid fighting, and still marched off, till he found a place conveni- 
ently situated for a few to engage against many, where he en- 
camped. He kept his soldiers from making any attack upon the 
enemy, and commanded them to raise the ramparts higher, and 
barricade the gates, that by show of fear, they might heighten the 
enemy's contempt of them. Till at last they came without any order 
in great security to make an assault, when he issued forth, and put 
them to flight with the loss of many men. 

This quieted the greater part of the commotions in these parts of 
Gaul and Caesar, in the course of the winter, visited every part of 
the country, and with great vigilance took precautions against all 
innovations. For there were three legions now come to him to 
supply the place of the men he had lost, of which Pompey furnished 
him with two, out of those under his command; the other was 
newly raised in the part of Gaul by the Po. But in a while the seeds 
of war, which had long since been secretly sown and scattered by 
the most powerful men in those warlike nations, broke forth into 
the greatest and most dangerous war that ever was in those parts, 
both as regards the number of men in the vigor of their youth who 
were gathered and armed from all quarters, the vast funds of money 
collected to maintain it, the strength of the towns, and the difficulty 
of the country where it was carried on. It being winter, the rivers 
were frozen, the woods covered with snow, and the level country 
flooded, so that in some places the ways were lost through the depth 
of the snow; in others, the overflowing of marshes and streams made 
every kind of passage uncertain. All which difficulties made it seem 
impracticable for Caesar to make any attempt upon the insurgents. 
Many tribes had revolted together, the chief of them being the Ar- 

* Quiutus Cicero, the orator's brother. Abriorix is Ambiorix of the Commentaries. 

286 plutarch's lives 

verni and Carnutini; 4 the general who had the supreme command 
in war was Vergentorix, whose father the Gauls had put to death 
on suspicion of his aiming at absolute government. 

He having disposed his army in several bodies, and set officers 
over them, drew over to him all the country round about as far as 
those that lie upon the Arar, and having intelligence of the opposi- 
tion which Caesar now experienced at Rome, thought to engage all 
Gaul in the war. Which if he had done a little later, when Caesar 
was taken up with the civil wars, Italy had been put into as great 
a terror as before it was by the Cimbri. But Carsar, who above all 
men was gifted with the faculty of making the right use of every 
thing in war, and most especially of seizing the right moment, as 
soon as he heard of the revolt, returned immediately the same way 
he went, and showed the barbarians, by the quickness of his march 
in such a severe season, that an army was advancing against them 
which was invincible. For in the time that one would have thought 
it scarce credible that a courier or express should have come with 
a message from him, he himself appeared with all his army, ravag- 
ing the country, reducing their posts, subduing their towns, receiv- 
ing into his protection those who declared for him. Till at last the 
Edui, who hitherto had styled themselves brethren to the Romans, 
and had been much honored by them, declared against him, and 
joined the rebels, to the great discouragement of his army. Accord- 
ingly he removed thence, and passed the country of the Lingones, 
desiring to reach the territories of the Sequani, who were his 
friends, and who lay like a bulwark in front of Italy against the 
other tribes of Gaul. There the enemy came upon him, and sur- 
rounded him with many myriads, whom he also was eager to engage; 
and at last, after some time and with much slaughter, gained on 
the whole a complete victory; though at first he appears to have 
met with some reverse, and the Aruveni show you a small sword 
hanging up in a temple, which they say was taken from Caesar. 
Caesar saw this afterwards himself, and smiled, and when his friends 

* The Arverni, the same people whom he presently calls (he Aruveni, of the moun- 
tains of Auvergne, and the Carnutes of the country around Orleans. Vergentorix 
appears to be a Greek abbreviation of Vercingctorix, the full name given by Czsar, 
which is itself conceived to have been not a proper name, but a tide. 

CiESAR 287 

advised it should be taken down, would not permit it, because he 
looked upon it as consecrated. 

After the defeat, a great part of those who had escaped, fled with 
their king into a town called Alesia, which Carsar besieged, though 
the height of the walls, and number of those who defended them, 
made it appear impregnable; and meantime, from without the 
walls, he was assailed by a greater danger than can be expressed. 
For the choice men of Gaul, picked out of each nation, and well 
armed, came to relieve Alesia, to the number of three hundred 
thousand; nor were there in the town less than one hundred and 
seventy thousand. So that Caesar being shut betwixt two such 
forces, was compelled to protect himself by two walls, one towards 
the town, the other against the relieving army, as knowing if these 
forces should join, his affairs would be entirely ruined. The danger 
that he underwent before Alesia, 5 justly gained him great honor on 
many accounts, and gave him an opportunity of showing greater 
instances of his valor and conduct than any other contest had done. 
One wonders much how he should be able to engage and defeat 
so many thousands of men without the town, and not be perceived 
by those within, but yet more, that the Romans themselves, who 
guarded their wall which was next the town, should be strangers to 
it. For even they knew nothing of the victory, till they heard the 
cries of the men and lamentations of the women who were in the 
town, and had from thence seen the Romans at a distance carrying 
into their camp a great quantity of bucklers, adorned with gold and 
silver, many breastplates stained with blood, besides cups and tents 
made in the Gallic fashion. So soon did so vast an army dissolve 
and vanish like a ghost or dream, the greatest part of them being 
killed upon the spot. Those who were in Alesia, having given 
themselves and Csesar much trouble, surrendered at last; and Ver- 
gentorix, who was the chief spring of all the war, putting his best 
armor on, and adorning his horse, rode out of the gates, and made 

5 Alesia is identified with Alise, or with the summit of Mount Auxois, near Flavifjny, 
not far from Dijon. The course of Roman occupation, interposing between Central 
Gaul and the German competitors for its possession, seems to follow the line of the 
Rhone and Saone upwards, and the Meuse and Moselle downwards, from Marseilles 
and Lyons to Treves and the Rhine. Alesia is near the head waters of the Saone, 

288 plutarch's lives 

a turn about Caesar as he was sitting, then quitted his horse, threw 
off his armor, and remained seated quietly at Caesar's feet until he 
was led away to be reserved for the triumph. 

Caesar had long ago resolved upon the overthrow of Pompey, as 
had Pompey, for that matter, upon his. For Crassus, the fear of 
whom had hitherto kept them in peace, having now been killed in 
Parthia, if the one of them wished to make himself the greatest 
man in Rome, he had only to overthrow the other; and if he again 
wished to prevent his own fall, he had nothing for it but to be 
beforehand with him whom he feared. Pompey had not been long 
under any such apprehensions, having till lately despised Caesar, 
as thinking it no difficult matter to put down him whom he him- 
self had advanced. But Caesar had entertained this design from the 
beginning against his rivals, and had retired, like an expert wrestler, 
to prepare himself apart for the combat. Making the Gallic wars 
his exercise-ground, he had at once improved the strength of his 
soldiery, and had heightened his own glory by his great actions, 
so that he was looked on as one who might challenge comparison 
with Pompey. Nor did he let go any of those advantages which 
were now given him both by Pompey himself and the times, and 
the ill government of Rome, where all who were candidates for 
offices publicly gave money, and without any shame bribed the peo- 
ple, who having received their pay, did not contend for their bene- 
factors with their bare suffrages, but with bows, swords, and slings. 
So that after having many times stained the place of election with 
the blood of men killed upon the spot, they left the city at last 
without a government at all, to be carried about like a ship with- 
out a pilot to steer her; while all who had any wisdom could only 
be thankful if a course of such wild and stormy disorder and mad- 
ness might end no worse than in a monarchy. Some were so bold 
as to declare openly, that the government was incurable but by a 
monarchy, and that they ought to take that remedy from the hands 
of the gentlest physician, meaning Pompey, who, though in words 
he pretended to decline it, yet in reality made his utmost efforts to 
be declared dictator. Cato perceiving his design, prevailed with the 
senate to make him sole consul, that with the offer of a more legal 
sort of monarchy he might be withheld from demanding the die- 


tatorship. They over and above voted him the continuance of his 
provinces, for he had two, Spain and all Africa, which he governed 
by his lieutenants, and maintained armies under him, at the yearly 
charge of a thousand talents out of the public treasury. 

Upon this Caesar also sent and petitioned for the consulship, and 
the continuance of his provinces. Pompey at first did not stir in it, 
but Marcellus and Lentulus opposed it, who had always hated 
Caesar, and now did every thing, whether fit or unfit, which might 
disgrace and affront him. For they took away the privilege of Ro- 
man citizens from the people of New Comum, who were a colony 
that Caesar had lately planted in Gaul; and Marcellus, who was then 
consul, ordered one of the senators of that town, then at Rome, to 
be whipped, and told him he laid that mark upon him to signify 
he was no citizen of Rome, bidding him, when he went back again, 
to show it to Caesar. After Marcellus's consulship, Caesar began to 
lavish gifts upon all the public men out of the riches he had taken 
from the Gauls; discharged Curio, the tribune, from his great debts; 
gave Paulus, then consul, fifteen hundred talents, with which he 
built the noble court of justice 6 adjoining the forum, to supply the 
place of that called the Fulvian. Pompey, alarmed at these prepara- 
tions, now openly took steps, both by himself and his friends, to 
have a successor appointed in Caesar's room, and sent to demand 
back the soldiers whom he had lent him to carry on the wars in 
Gaul. Caesar returned them, and made each soldier a present of 
two hundred and fifty drachmas. The officer who brought them 
home to Pompey, spread amongst the people .no very fair or favor- 
able report of Caesar, and flattered Pompey himself with false sug- 
gestions that he was wished for by Caesar's army; and though his 
affairs here were in some embarrassment through the envy of some, 
and the ill state of the government, yet there the army was at his 
command, and if they once crossed into Italy, would presently de- 
clare for him; so weary were they of Caesar's endless expeditions, 
and so suspicious of his designs for a monarchy. Upon this Pom- 
pey grew presumptuous, and neglected all warlike preparations, as 
fearing no danger, and used no other means against him than mere 
speeches and votes, for which Caesar cared nothing. And one of 

'Or basilica. 


his captains, it is said, who was sent by him to Rome, standing 
before the senate-house one day, and being told that the senate 
would not give Caesar a longer time in his government, clapped his 
hand on the hilt of his sword, and said, "But this shall." 

Yet the demands which Caesar made had the fairest colors of 
equity imaginable. For he proposed to lay down his arms, and that 
Pompey should do the same, and both together should become pri- 
vate men, and each expect a reward of his services from the public. 
For that those who proposed to disarm him, and at the same time 
to confirm Pompey in all the power he held, were simply establish- 
ing the one in the tyranny which they accused the other of aiming 
at. When Curio made these proposals to the people in Caesar's 
name, he was loudly applauded, and some threw garlands towards 
him, and dismissed him as they do successful wrestlers, crowned 
with flowers. Antony, being tribune, produced a letter sent from 
Caesar on this occasion, and read it, though the consuls did what they 
could to oppose it. But Scipio, Pompey 's father-in-law, proposed in 
the senate, that if Caesar did not lay down his arms within such a 
time, he should be voted an enemy; and the consuls putting it to the 
question, whether Pompey should dismiss his soldiers, and again, 
whether Caesar should disband his, very few assented to the first, 
but almost all to the latter. But Antony proposing again, that both 
should lay down their commissions, all but a very few agreed to it. 
Scipio was upon this very violent, and Lentulus the consul cried 
aloud, that they had need of arms, and not of suffrages, against a 
robber; so that the senators for the present adjourned, and appeared 
in mourning as a mark of their grief for the dissension. 

Afterwards there came other letters from Caesar, which seemed 
yet more moderate, for he proposed to quit every thing else, and 
only to retain Gaul within the Alps, Illyricum, and two legions, till 
he should stand a second time for consul. Cicero, the orator, who 
was lately returned from Cilicia, endeavored to reconcile differences, 
and softened Pompey, who was willing to comply in other things, 
but not to allow him the soldiers. At last Cicero used his persua- 
sions with Caesar's friends to accept of the provinces, and six thou- 
sand soldiers only, and so to make up the quarrel. And Pompey 
was inclined to give way to this, but Lentulus, the consul, would 


not hearken to it, but drove Antony and Curio out of the senate- 
house with insults, by which he afforded Caesar the most plausible 
pretence that could be, and one which he could readily use to in- 
flame the soldiers, by showing them two persons of such repute and 
authority, who were forced to escape in a hired carriage in the 
dress of slaves. For so they were glad to disguise themselves, when 
they fled out of Rome. 

There were not about him at that time above three hundred 
horse, and five thousand foot; for the rest of his army, which was 
left behind the Alps, was to be brought after him by officers who 
had received orders for that purpose. But he thought the first mo- 
tion towards the design which he had on foot did not require large 
forces at present, and that what was wanted was to make this first 
step suddenly, and so as to astound his enemies with the boldness 
of it; as it would be easier, he thought, to throw them into con- 
sternation by doing what they never anticipated, than fairly to 
conquer them, if he had alarmed them by his preparations. And 
therefore, he commanded his captains and other officers to go only 
with their swords in their hands, without any other arms, and 
make themselves masters of Ariminum, a large city of Gaul, with as 
little disturbance and bloodshed as possible. He committed the 
care of these forces to Hortensius, and himself spent the day in 
public as a stander-by and spectator of the gladiators, who exercised 
before him. A little before night he attended to his person, and then 
went into the hall, and conversed for some time with those he had 
invited to supper, till it began to grow dusk, when he rose from 
table, and made his excuses to the company, begging them to stay 
till he came back, having already given private directions to a few 
immediate friends, that they should follow him, not all the same 
way, but some one way, some another. He himself got into one of 
the hired carriages, and drove at first another way, but presently 
turned towards Ariminum. When he came to the river Rubicon, 
which parts Gaul within the Alps from the rest of Italy, his thoughts 
began to work, now he was just entering upon the danger, and he 
wavered much in his mind, when he considered the greatness of 
the enterprise into which he was throwing himself. He checked his 
course, and ordered a halt, while he revolved with himself, and 


often changed his opinion one way and the other, without speak- 
ing a word. This was when his purposes fluctuated most; pres- 
ently he also discussed the matter with his friends who were about 
him, (of which number Asinius Pollio was one), computing how 
many calamities his passing that river would bring upon mankind, 
and what a relation of it would be transmitted to posterity. At 
last, in a sort of passion, casting aside calculation, and abandoning 
himself to what might come, and using the proverb frequently in 
their mouths who enter upon dangerous and bold attempts, "The 
die is cast," with these words he took the river. Once over, he used 
all expedition possible, and before it was day reached Ariminum, 
and took it. It is said that the night before he passed the river, he 
had an impious dream, that he was unnaturally familiar with his 
own mother. 

As soon as Ariminum was taken, wide gates, so to say, were 
thrown open, to let in war upon every land alike and sea, and with 
the limits of the province, the boundaries of the laws were trans- 
gressed. Nor would one have thought that, as at other times, the 
mere men and women fled from one town of Italy to another in 
their consternation, but that the very towns themselves left their 
sites, and fled for succor to each other. The city of Rome was over- 
run as it were with a deluge, by the conflux of people flying in from 
all the neighboring places. Magistrates could no longer govern, 
nor the eloquence of any orator quiet it; it was all but suffering 
shipwreck by the violence of its own tempestuous agitation. The 
most vehement contrary passions and impulses were at work every 
where. Nor did those who rejoiced at the prospect of the change 
altogether conceal their feelings, but when they met, as in so great 
a city they frequently must, with the alarmed and dejected of the 
other party, they provoked quarrels by their bold expressions of 
confidence in the event. Pompey, sufficiently disturbed of himself, 
was yet more perplexed by the clamors of others; some telling him 
that he justly suffered for having armed Caesar against himself and 
the government; others blaming him for permitting Carsar to be 
insolently used by Lentulus, when he made such ample conces- 
sions, and offered such reasonable proposals towards an accommo- 
dation. Favonius bade him now stamp upon the ground; for once 
talking big in the senate, he desired them not to trouble themselves 

CAESAR. 293 

about making any preparations for the war, for that he himself, 
with one stamp of his foot, would fill all Italy with soldiers. Yet 
still Pompey at that time had more forces than Caesar; but he was 
not permitted to pursue his own thoughts, but being continually 
disturbed with false reports and alarms, as if the enemy was close 
upon him and carrying all before him, he gave way, and let 
himself be borne down by the general cry. He put forth an 
edict declaring the city to be in a state of anarchy, and left it 
with orders that the senate should follow him, and that no one 
should stay behind who did not prefer tyranny to their country 
and liberty. 

The consuls at once fled, without making even the usual sacri- 
fices; so did most of the senators, carrying off their own goods in as 
much haste as if they had been robbing their neighbors. Some, 
who had formerly much favored Caesar's cause, in the prevailing 
alarm, quitted their own sentiments, and without any prospect of 
good to themselves, were carried along by the common stream. It 
was a melancholy thing to see the city tossed in these tumults, like 
a ship given up by her pilots, and left to run, as chance guides her, 
upon any rock in her way. Yet, in spite of their sad condition, peo- 
ple still esteemed the place of their exile to be their country for 
Pompey 's sake, and fled from Rome, as if it had been Caesar's camp. 
Labienus even, who had been one of Caesar's nearest friends, and 
his lieutenant, and who had fought by him zealously in the Gallic 
wars, now deserted him, and went over to Pompey. Caesar sent 
all his money and equipage after him, and then sat down before 
Corfinium, which was garrisoned with thirty cohorts under the 
command of Domitius. He, in despair of maintaining the de- 
fence, requested a physician, whom he had among his attendants, 
to give him poison; and taking the dose, drank it, in hopes of 
being dispatched by it. But soon after, when he was told that 
Caesar showed the utmost clemency towards those he took pris- 
oners, he lamented his misfortune, and blamed the hastiness of his 
resolution. His physician consoled him, by informing him that 
he had taken a sleeping draught, not a poison; upon which, much 
rejoiced, and rising from his bed, he went presently to Caesar, and 
gave him the pledge of his hand, yet afterwards again went over 
to Pompey. The report of these actions at Rome, quieted those 


who were there, and some who had fled thence returned. Caesar 
took into his army Domitius's soldiers, as he did all those whom 
he found in any town enlisted for Pompey's service. Being now 
strong and formidable enough, he advanced against Pompey him- 
self, who did not stay to receive him, but fled to Brundisium, having 
sent the consuls before with a body of troops to Dyrrhachium. Soon 
after, upon Caesar's approach, he set to sea, as shall be more par- 
ticularly related in his Life. Caesar would have immediately pur- 
sued him, but wanted shipping, and therefore went back to Rome, 
having made himself master of all Italy without bloodshed in the 
space of sixty days. When he came thither, he found the city more 
quiet than he expected, and many senators present, to whom he 
addressed himself with courtesy and deference, desiring them to 
send to Pompey about any reasonable accommodations towards a 
peace. But nobody complied with this proposal; whether out of 
fear of Pompey, whom they had deserted, or that they thought 
Caesar did not mean what he said, but thought it his interest to talk 
plausibly. Afterwards, when Metellus, the tribune, would have 
hindered him from taking money out of the public treasure, and 
adduced some laws against it, Caesar replied, that arms and laws 
had each their own time; "If what I do displeases you, leave the 
place; war allows no free talking. When I have laid down my 
arms, and made peace, come back and make what speeches you 
please. And this," he added, "I will tell you in diminution of my 
own just right, as indeed you and all others who have appeared 
against me and are now in my power, may be treated as I please." 
Having said this to Metellus, he went to the doors of the treasury, and 
the keys being not to be found, sent for smiths to force them open. 
Metellus again making resistance, and some encouraging him in it, 
Caesar, in a louder tone, told him he would put him to death, if he 
gave him any further disturbance. "And this," said he, "you know, 
young man, is more disagreeable for me to say, than to do." These 
words made Metellus withdraw for fear, and obtained speedy exe- 
cution henceforth for all orders that Caesar gave for procuring 
necessaries for the war. 

He was now proceeding to Spain, with the determination of first 
crushing Afranius and Varro, Pompey's lieutenants, and making 

CjEsar 295 

himself master of the armies and provinces under them, that he 
might then more securely advance against Pompey, when he had 
no enemy left behind him. In this expedition his person was often 
in danger from ambuscades, and his army by want of provisions, 
yet he did not desist from pursuing the enemy, provoking them to 
fight, and hemming them with his fortifications, till by main force 
he made himself master of their camps and their forces. Only the 
generals got off, and fled to Pompey. 

When Carsar came back to Rome, Piso, his father-in-law, advised 
him to send men to Pompey, to treat of a peace; but Isauricus, to 
ingratiate himself with Cxsar, spoke against it. After this, being 
created dictator by the senate, he called home the exiles, and gave 
back their rights as citizens to the children of those who had suf- 
fered under Sylla; he relieved the debtors by an act remitting some 
part of the interest on their debts, and passed some other measures 
of the same sort, but not many. For within eleven days he resigned 
his dictatorship, and having declared himself consul, with Servilius 
Isauricus, hastened again to the war. He marched so fast, that he 
left all his army behind him, except six hundred chosen horse, and 
five legions, with which he put to sea in the very middle of win- 
ter, about the beginning of the month January, (which corresponds 
pretty nearly with the Athenian month Posideon), and having past 
the Ionian Sea, took Oricum and Apollonia, and then sent back 
the ships to Brundisium, to bring over the soldiers who were left 
behind in the march. They, while yet on the march, their bodies 
now no longer in the full vigor of youth, and they themselves 
weary with such a multitude of wars, could not but exclaim against 
Caesar, "When at last, and where, will this Carsar let us be quiet? 
He carries us from place to place, and uses us as if we were not to 
be worn out, and had no sense of labor. Even our iron itself is 
spent by blows, and we ought to have some pity on our bucklers 
and breastplates, which have been used so long. Our wounds, if 
nothing else, should make him see that we are mortal men, whom 
he commands, subject to the same pains and sufferings as other 
human beings. The very gods themselves cannot force the winter 
season, or hinder the storms in their time; yet he pushes forward, 
as if he were not pursuing, but flying from an enemy." So they 

296 plutarch's lives 

talked as they marched leisurely towards Brundisium. But when 
they came thither, and found Caesar gone off before them, their 
feelings changed, and they blamed themselves as traitors to their 
general. They now railed at their officers for marching so slowly, 
and placing themselves on the heights overlooking the sea towards 
Epirus, they kept watch to see if they could espy the vessels which 
were to transport them to Caesar. 

He in the mean time was posted in Apollonia, but had not an 
army with him able to fight the enemy, the forces from Brundisium 
being so long in coming, which put him to great suspense and 
embarrassment what to do. At last he resolved upon a most haz- 
ardous experiment, and embarked, without any one's knowledge, 
in a boat of twelve oars, to cross over to Brundisium, though the sea 
was at that time covered with a vast fleet of the enemies. He got on 
board in the night time, in the dress of a slave, and throwing him- 
self down like a person of no consequence, lay along at the bottom 
of the vessel. The river Anius 7 was to carry them down to sea, and 
there used to blow a gentle gale every morning from the land, 
which made it calm at the mouth of the river, by driving the waves 
forward; but this night there had blown a strong wind from the 
sea, which overpowered that from the land, so that where the 
river met the influx of the sea-water and the opposition of the 
waves, it was extremely rough and angry; and the current was 
beaten back with such a violent swell, that the master of the boat 
could not make good his passage, but ordered his sailors to tack 
about and return. Caesar, upon this, discovers himself, and taking 
the man by the hand, who was surprised to see him there, said, "Go 
on, my friend, and fear nothing; you carry Caesar and his fortune 
in your boat." The mariners, when they heard that, forgot the 
storm, and laying all their strength to their oars, did what they could 
to force their way down the river. But when it was to no purpose, 
and the vessel now took in much water, Caesar finding himself in 
such danger in the very mouth of the river, much against his will 
permitted the master to turn back. When he was come to land, his 
soldiers ran to him in a multitude, reproaching him for what he 
had done, and indignant that he should think himself not strong 

'The Aous or iCas. 

CESAR 297 

enough to get a victory by their sole assistance, but must disturb 
himself, and expose his life for those who were absent, as if he 
could not trust those who were with him. 

After this, Antony came over with the forces from Brundisium, 
which encouraged Caesar to give Pompey battle, though he was en- 
camped very advantageously, and furnished with plenty of provi- 
sions both by sea and land, whilst he himself was at the beginning 
but ill-supplied, and before the end was extremely pinched for want 
of necessaries, so that his soldiers were forced to dig up a kind of 
root which grew there, and tempering it with milk, to feed on it. 
Sometimes they made a kind of bread of it, and advancing up to 
the enemy's outposts, would throw in these loaves, telling them, 
that as long as the earth produced such roots they would not give up 
blockading Pompey. But Pompey took what care he could, that 
neither the loaves nor the words should reach his men, who were 
out of heart and despondent, through terror at the fierceness and 
hardiness of their enemies, whom they looked upon as a sort of 
wild beasts. There were continual skirmishes about Pompey's out- 
works, in all which Caesar had the better, except one, when his 
men were forced to fly in such a manner that he had like to have 
lost his camp. For Pompey made such a vigorous sally on them 
that not a man stood his ground; the trenches were filled with the 
slaughter, many fell upon their own ramparts and bulwarks, 
whither they were driven in flight by the enemy. Carsar met them, 
and would have turned them back, but could not. When he went 
to lay hold of the ensigns, those who carried them threw them 
down, so that the enemies took thirty-two of them. He himself 
narrowly escaped; for taking hold of one of his soldiers, a big and 
strong man, that was flying by him, he bade him stand and face 
about; but the fellow, full of apprehensions from the danger he was 
in, laid hold of his sword, as if he would strike Caesar, but Caesar's 
armor-bearer cut off his arm. Caesar's affairs were so desperate at 
that time, that when Pompey, either through over-cautiousness, or 
his ill fortune, did not give the finishing stroke to that great suc- 
cess, but retreated after he had driven the routed enemy within their 
camp, Caesar, upon seeing his withdrawal, said to his friends, "The 
victory to-day had been on the enemies' side, if they had had a gen- 

298 plutakch's lives 

eral who knew how to gain it." When he was retired into his tent, 
he laid himself down to sleep, but spent that night as miserably 
as ever he did any, in perplexity and consideration with himself, 
coming to the conclusion that he had conducted the war amiss. For 
when he had a fertile country before him, and all the wealthy cities 
of Macedonia and Thessaly, he had neglected to carry the war 
thither, and had sat down by the seaside, where his enemies had 
such a powerful fleet, so that he was in fact rather besieged by the 
want of necessaries, than besieging others with his arms. Being 
thus distracted in his thoughts with the view of the difficulty and 
distress he was in, he raised his camp, with the intention of ad- 
vancing towards Scipio, who lay in Macedonia; hoping either to 
entice Pompey into a country where he should fight without the 
advantage he now had of supplies from the sea, or to overpower 
Scipio, if not assisted. 

This set all Pompey's army and officers on fire to hasten and 
pursue Caesar, whom they concluded to be beaten and flying. But 
Pompey was afraid to hazard a battle on which so much depended, 
and being himself provided with all necessaries for any length of 
time, thought to tire out and waste the vigor of Caesar's army, which 
could not last long. For the best part of his men, though they had 
great experience, and showed an irresistible courage in all engage- 
ments, yet by their frequent marches, changing their camps," at- 
tacking fortifications, and keeping long night-watches, were getting 
worn-out and broken; they being now old, their bodies less fit for 
labor, and their courage, also, beginning to give way with the failure 
of their strength. Besides, it was said that an infectious disease, oc- 
casioned by their irregular diet, was prevailing in Caesar's army, 
and what was of greatest moment, he was neither furnished with 
money nor provisions, so that in a little time he must needs fall 
of himself. 

For these reasons Pompey had no mind to fight him, but was 
thanked for it by none but Cato, who rejoiced at the prospect of 
sparing his fellow-citizens. For he when he saw the dead bodies of 
those who had fallen in the last batde on Caesar's side, to the num- 

' Or, perhaps more probably, "raising fortifications," which had been very much 
their occupation latterly. Up to this point the campaign had been a war of intrench- 


CESAR 299 

ber of a thousand, turned away, covered his face, and shed tears. 
But every one else upbraided Pompey for being reluctant to fight, 
and tried to goad him on by such nicknames as Agamemnon, and 
king of kings, as if he were in no hurry to lay down his sovereign 
authority, but was pleased to see so many commanders attending 
on him, and paying their attendance at his tent. Favonius, who 
affected Cato's free way of speaking his mind, complained bit- 
terly that they should eat no figs even this year at Tusculum, be- 
cause of Pompey 's love of command. Afranius, who was lately 
returned out of Spain, and on account of his ill success there, la- 
bored under the suspicion of having been bribed to betray the army, 
asked why they did not fight this purchaser of provinces. Pompey 
was driven, against his own will, by this kind of language, into 
offering battle, and proceeded to follow Caesar. Csesar had found 
great difficulties in his march, for no country would supply him 
with provisions, his reputation being very much fallen since his 
late defeat. But after he took Gomphi, a town of Thessaly, he not 
only found provisions for his army, but physic too. For there they 
met with plenty of wine, which they took very freely, and heated 
with this, sporting and revelling on their march in bacchanalian 
fashion, they shook off the disease, and their whole constitution 
was relieved and changed into another habit. 

When the two armies were come into Pharsalia,' and both en- 
camped there, Pompey's thoughts ran the same way as they had 
done before, against fighting, and the more because of some un- 
lucky presages, and a vision he had in a dream. 10 But those who 
were about him were so confident of success, that Domitius, and 
Spinther, and Scipio, as if they had already conquered, quarrelled 
which should succeed Czsar in the pontificate. And many sent to 
Rome to take houses fit to accommodate consuls and prxtors, as 
being sure of entering upon those offices, as soon as the battle was 
over. The cavalry especially were obstinate for fighting, being splen- 

' "Into Pharsalia," is properly "into the territory of the town of Pharsalus," and in 
other passages where the battle is mentioned in the translation by the name, as the 
Romans use it, of Pharsalia, the Greek is Pharsalus. 

10 Here follows the words, "He fancied he saw himself in the theatre, receiving the 
plaudits of the people." Either the text is incomplete, and the remainder of the 
description has been lost, or else it is the imperfect explanation added in the margin 
by an annotator. The full account is given in the Life of Pompey. 

300 plutarch's lives 

didly armed and bravely mounted, and valuing themselves upon 
the fine horses they kept, and upon their own handsome persons; 
as also upon the advantage of their numbers, for they were five 
thousand against one thousand of Caesar's. Nor were the numbers 
of the infantry less disproportionate, there being forty-five thousand 
of Pompey's, against twenty-two thousand of the enemy. 

Caesar, collecting his soldiers together, told them that Corfinius 11 
was coming up to them with two legions, and that fifteen cohorts 
more under Calenus were posted at Megara and Athens; he then 
asked them whether they would stay till these joined them, or would 
hazard the battle by themselves. They all cried out to him not to 
wait, but on the contrary to do whatever he could to bring about an 
engagement as soon as possible. When he sacrificed to the gods 
for the lustration of his army, upon the death of the first victim, the 
augur told him, within three days he should come to a decisive 
action. Caesar asked him whether he saw any thing in the entrails, 
which promised an happy event. "That," said the priest, "you can 
best answer yourself; for the gods signify a great alteration from 
the present posture of affairs. If, therefore, you think yourself well 
off now, expect worse fortune; if unhappy, hope for better." The 
night before the battle, as he walked the rounds about midnight, 
there was a light seen in the heaven, very bright and flaming, which 
seemed to pass over Caesar's camp, and fall into Pompey's. And 
when Caesar's soldiers came to relieve the watch in the morning, 
they perceived a panic disorder among the enemies. However, he 
did not expect to fight that day, but set about raising his camp 
with the intention of marching towards Scotussa. 

But when the tents were now taken down, his scouts rode up to 
him, and told him the enemy would give him battle. With this 
news he was extremely pleased, and having performed his devotions 
to the gods, set his army in battle array, dividing them into three 
bodies. Over the middlemost he placed Domitius Calvinus; An- 
tony commanded the left wing, and he himself the right, being 
resolved to fight at the head of the tenth legion. But when he saw 
the enemy's cavalry taking position against him, being struck with 
their fine appearance and their number, he gave private orders that 

11 Cornificius. 

CJESAS. 301 

six cohorts from the rear of the army should come round and join 
him, whom he posted behind the right wing, and instructed them 
what they should do, when the enemy's horse came to charge. On 
the other side, Pompey commanded the right wing, Domitius the 
left, and Scipio, Pompey's father-in-law, the centre. The whole 
weight of the cavalry was collected on the left wing, with the intent 
that they should outflank the right wing of the enemy, and rout 
that part where the general himself commanded. For they thought 
no phalanx of infantry could be solid enough to sustain such a 
shock, but that they must necessarily be broken and shattered all to 
pieces upon the onset of so immense a force of cavalry. When they 
were ready on both sides to give the signal for battle, Pompey com- 
manded his foot who were in the front, to stand their ground, and 
without breaking their order, receive quietly the enemy's first at- 
tack, till they came within javelin's cast. Cxsar, in this respect, also, 
blames Pompey's generalship, as if he had not been aware how the 
first encounter, when made with an impetus and upon the run, 
gives weight and force to the strokes, and fires the men's spirits into 
a flame, which the general concurrence fans to full heat. He himself 
was just putting the troops into motion and advancing to the action, 
when he found one of his captains, a trusty and experienced soldier, 
encouraging his men to exert their utmost. Caesar called him by 
his name, and said, "What hopes, Caius Crassinius, and what 
grounds for encouragement?" Crassinius stretched out his hand, 
and cried in a loud voice, "We shall conquer nobly, Caesar; and I 
this day will deserve your praises, either alive or dead." So he said, 
and was the first man to run in upon the enemy, followed by the 
hundred and twenty soldiers about him, and breaking through the 
first rank, still pressed on forwards with much slaughter of the 
enemy, till at last he was struck back by the wound of a sword, 
which went in at his mouth with such force that it came out at his 
neck behind. 

Whilst the foot was thus sharply engaged in the main battle, on 
the flank Pompey's horse rode up confidently, and opened their 
ranks very wide, that they might surround the right wing of Caesar. 
But before they engaged, Caesar's cohorts rushed out and attacked 
them, and did not dart their javelins at a distance, nor strike 


at the thighs and legs, as they usually did in close battle, but aimed 
at their faces. For thus Caesar had instructed them, in hopes that 
young gentlemen, who had not known much of battles and wounds, 
but came wearing their hair long, in the flower of their age and 
height of their beauty, would be more apprehensive of such blows, 
and not care for hazarding both a danger at present and a blemish 
for the future. And so it proved, for they were so far from bearing 
the stroke of the javelins, that they could not stand the sight of 
them, but turned about, and covered their faces to secure them. 
Once in disorder, presently they turned about to fly; and so most 
shamefully ruined all. For those who had beat them back, at once 
outflanked the infantry, and falling on their rear, cut them to pieces. 
Pompey, who commanded the other wing of the army, when he 
saw his cavalry thus broken and flying, was no longer himself, nor 
did he now remember that he was Pompey the Great, but like one 
whom some god had deprived of his senses, retired to his tent 
without speaking a word, and there sat to expect the event, till the 
whole army was routed, and the enemy appeared upon the works 
which were thrown up before the camp, where they closely engaged 
with his men, who were posted there to defend it. Then first he 
seemed to have recovered his senses, and uttering, it is said, only 
these words, "What, into the camp too?" he laid aside his general's 
habit, and putting on such clothes as might best favor his flight, 
stole off. What fortune he met with afterwards, how he took shelter 
in Egypt, and was murdered there, we tell you in his Life. 

Carsar, when he came to view Pompey 's camp, and saw some of 
his opponents dead upon the ground, others dying, said, with a 
groan, "This they would have; they brought me to this necessity. 
I, Caius Carsar, after succeeding in so many wars, had been con- 
demned, had I dismissed my army." 12 These words, Pollio says, 
Carsar spoke in Latin at that time, and that he himself wrote them 
in Greek; adding, that those who were killed at the taking of the 
camp, were most of them servants; and that not above six thousand 
soldiers fell. Carsar incorporated most of the foot whom he took 
prisoners, with his own legions, and gave a free pardon to many 

" "Hoc volucrunt; tantis rebus jjcstis C. Cxsar condom natus cssem, nisi ab exercltu 
auxilium petissem," quoted from Asinius Pollio, by Suetonius. 

CESAR 303 

of the distinguished persons, and amongst the rest, to Brutus, who 
afterwards killed him. He did not immediately appear after the 
battle was over, which put Caesar, it is said, into great anxiety for 
him; nor was his pleasure less when he saw him present himself 

There were many prodigies that foreshowed this victory, but the 
most remarkable that we are told of, was that at Tralles. In the 
temple of Victory stood Carsar's statue. The ground on which it 
stood was naturally hard and solid, and the stone with which it 
was paved still harder; yet it is said that a palm-tree shot itself up 
near the pedestal of this statue. In the city of Padua, one Caius 
Cornelius, who had the character of a good augur, the fellow- 
citizen and acquaintance of Livy, the historian, happened to be 
making some augural observations that very day when the battle 
was fought. And first, as Livy tells us, he pointed out the time of 
the fight, and said to those who were by him, that just then the 
battle was begun, and the men engaged. When he looked a second 
time, and observed the omens, he leaped up as if he had been in- 
spired, and cried out, "Ca?sar, you are victorious." This much sur- 
prised the standers by, but he took the garland which he had on 
from his head, and swore he would never wear it again till the 
event should give authority to his art. This Livy positively states 
for a truth. 

Carsar, as a memorial of his victory, gave the Thessalians their 
freedom, and then went in pursuit of Pompey. When he was come 
into Asia, to gratify Theopompus, the author of the collection of 
fables, he enfranchised the Cnidians, and remitted one third of their 
tribute to all the people of the province of Asia. When he came to 
Alexandria, where Pompey was already murdered, he would look 
upon Theodotus, who presented him with his head, but taking only 
his signet, shed tears. Those of Pompey's friends who had been 
arrested by the king of Egypt, as they were wandering in those parts, 
he relieved, and offered them his own friendship. In his letter to 
his friends at Rome, he told them that the greatest and most signal 
pleasure his victory had given him, was to be able continually to 
save the lives of fellow-citizens who had fought against him. As to 
the war in Egypt, some say it was at once dangerous and dishonor- 


able, and noways necessary, but occasioned only by his passion for 
Cleopatra. Others blame the ministers of the king, and especially 
the eunuch Pothinus, who was the chief favorite, and had lately 
killed Pompey, who had banished Cleopatra, and was now secretly 
plotting Caesar's destruction, (to prevent which, Caesar from that 
time began to sit up whole nights, under pretence of drinking, for 
the security of his person), while openly he was intolerable in his 
affronts to Caesar, both by his words and actions. For when Caesar's 
soldiers had musty and unwholesome corn measured out to them, 
Pothinus told them they must be content with it, since they were 
fed at another's cost. He ordered that his table should be served 
with wooden and earthen dishes, and said Caesar had carried off 
all the gold and silver plate, under pretence of arrears of debt. For 
the present king's father owed Caesar one thousand seven hundred 
and fifty myriads of money; Caesar had formerly remitted to his 
children the rest, but thought fit to demand the thousand myriads 
at that time, to maintain his army. Pothinus told him that he had 
better go now and attend to his other affairs of greater conse- 
quence, and that he should receive his money at another time with 
thanks. Caesar replied that he did not want Egyptians to be his 
counsellors, and soon after privately sent for Cleopatra from her 

She took a small boat, and one only of her confidents, Apollo- 
dorus, the Sicilian, along with her, and in the dusk of the evening 
landed near the palace. She was at a loss how to get in undiscov- 
ered, till she thought of putting herself into the coverlet of a bed 
and lying at length, whilst Apollodorus tied up the bedding and 
carried it on his back through the gates to Caesar's apartment. Cae- 
sar was first captivated by this proof of Cleopatra's bold wit, and 
was afterwards so overcome by the charm of her society, that he 
made a reconciliation between her and her brother, on condition 
that she should rule as his colleague in the kingdom. A festival was 
kept to celebrate this reconciliation, where Caesar's barber, a busy, 
listening fellow, whose excessive timidity made him inquisitive into 
every thing, discovered that there was a plot carrying on against 
Caesar by Achillas, general of the king's forces, and Pothinus, the 
eunuch. Caesar, upon the first intelligence of it, set a guard upon 

C^SAR 305 

the hall where the feast was kept, and killed Pothinus. Achillas 
escaped to the army, and raised a troublesome and embarrassing war 
against Ca?sar, which it was not easy for him to manage with his 
few soldiers against so powerful a city and so large an army. The 
first difficulty he met with was want of water, for the enemies had 
turned the canals." Another was, when the enemy endeavored to 
cut off his communication by sea, he was forced to divert that dan- 
ger by setting fire to his own ships, which, after burning the docks, 
thence spread on and destroyed the great library. A third was, when 
in an engagement near Pharos, he leaped from the mole into a small 
boat, to assist his soldiers who were in danger, and when the Egyp- 
tians pressed him on every side, he threw himself into the sea, and 
with much difficulty swam off. This was the time when, according 
to the story, he had a number of manuscripts in his hand, which, 
though he was continually darted at, and forced to keep his head 
often under water, yet he did not let go, but held them up safe 
from wetting in one hand, whilst he swam with the other. His 
boat, in the mean time, was quickly sunk. At last, the king having 
gone off to Achillas and his party, Ca:sar engaged and conquered 
them. Many fell in that battle, and the king himself was never 
seen after. Upon this, he left Cleopatra queen of Egypt, who soon 
after had a son by him, whom the Alexandrians called Carsarion, 
and then departed for Syria. 

Thence he passed to Asia, where he heard that Domitius was 
beaten by Pharnaces, son of Mithridates, and had fled out of Pontus 
with a handful of men; and that Pharnaces pursued the victory 
so eagerly, that though he was already master of Bithynia and 
Cappadocia, he had a further design of attempting the Lesser Ar- 
menia, and was inviting all the kings and tetrarchs there to rise. 
Ca*sar immediately marched against him with three legions, fought 
him near Zela, drove him out of Pontus, and totally defeated his 
army. When he gave Amantius, a friend of his at Rome, an account 
of this action, to express the promptness and rapidity of it, he used 
three words, I came, saw, and conquered, which in Latin 14 having 

" By which Alexandria, there being no springs, was wholly supplied. 

14 Vcni, Vidi, Vici. A tablet with this inscription was displayed in the triumph which 
was afterwards celebrated for this war. Amantius does not seem to be a true Roman 
name. It has been corrected into Caius Matius, a well-known friend of Cisar's. 

306 plutarch's lives 

all the same cadence, carry with them a very suitable air of brevity. 

Hence he crossed into Italy, and come to Rome at the end of that 
year, for which he had been a second time chosen dictator, though 
that office had never before lasted a whole year, and was elected 
consul for the next. He was ill spoken of, because upon a mutiny of 
some soldiers, who killed Cosconius and Galba, who had been 
praetors, he gave them only the slight reprimand of calling them 
Citizens, instead of Fellow-Soldiers, and afterwards assigned to each 
man a thousand drachmas, besides a share of lands in Italy. He 
was also reflected on for Dolabella's extravagance, Amantius's cov- 
etousness, Antony's debauchery, and Corfinius's profuseness, who 
pulled down Pompey's house, and rebuilt it, as not magnificent 
enough; for the Romans were much displeased with all these. But 
Caesar, for the prosecution of his own scheme of government, 
though he knew their characters and disapproved them, was forced 
to make use of those who would serve him. 

After the battle of Pharsalia, Cato and Scipio fled into Africa, 
and there, with the assistance of king Juba, got together a con- 
siderable force, which Cisar resolved to engage. He, accordingly, 
passed into Sicily about the winter-solstice, and to remove from his 
officers' minds all hopes of delay there, encamped by the sea-shore, 
and as soon as ever he had a fair wind, put to sea with three thou- 
sand foot and a few horse. When he had landed them, he went back 
secretly, under some apprehensions for the larger part of his army, 
but met them upon the sea, and brought them all to the same 
camp. There he was informed that the enemies relied much upon an 
ancient oracle, that the family of the Scipios should be always vic- 
torious in Africa. There was in his army a man, otherwise mean and 
contemptible, but of the house of the Africani, and his name Scipio 
Sallutio. This man Caesar, (whether in raillery, to ridicule Scipio, 
who commanded the enemy, or seriously to bring over the omen to 
his side, it were hard to say), put at the head of his troops, as if he 
were general, in all the frequent battles which he was compelled to 
fight. For he was in such want both of victualling for his men, 
and forage for his horses, that he was forced to feed the horses 
with sea-weed, which he washed thoroughly to take off its saltness, 
and mixed with a little grass, to give it a more agreeable taste. The 

CESAR 307 

Numidians, in great numbers, and well horsed, whenever he went, 
came up and commanded the country. Cscsar's cavalry being one 
day unemployed, diverted themselves with seeing an African, who 
entertained them with dancing and at the same time playing upon 
the pipe to admiration. They were so taken with this, that they 
alighted, and gave their horses to some boys, when on a sudden the 
enemy surrounded them, killed some, pursued the rest, and fell in 
with them into their camp; and had not Caesar himself and Asinius 
Pollio come to their assistance, and put a stop to their flight, the 
war had been then at an end. In another engagement, also, the 
enemy had again the better, when Caesar, it is said, seized a standard- 
bearer, who was running away, by the neck, and forcing him to face 
about, said, "Look, that is the way to the enemy." 

Scipio, flushed with this success at first, had a mind to come to 
one decisive action. He therefore left Afranius and Juba in two dis- 
tinct bodies not far distant, and marched himself towards Thapsus, 
where he proceeded to build a fortified camp above a lake, to serve 
as a centre-point for their operations, and also as a place of refuge. 
Whilst Scipio was thus employed, Cxsar with incredible despatch 
made his way through thick woods, and a country supposed to be 
impassable, cut off one party of the enemy, and attacked another in 
the front. Having routed these, he followed up his opportunity and 
the current of his good fortune, and on the first onset carried 
Afranius's camp, and ravaged that of the Numidians, Juba, their 
king, being glad to save himself by flight; so that in a small part of 
a single day he made himself master of three camps, and killed fifty 
thousand of the enemy, with the loss only of fifty of his own men. 
This is the account some give of that fight. Others say, he was not 
in the action, but that he was taken with his usual distemper just 
as he was setting his army in order. He perceived the approaches of 
it, and before it had too far disordered his senses, when he was 
already beginning to shake under its influence, withdrew into a 
neighboring fort, where he reposed himself. Of the men of consular 
and prartorian dignity that were taken after the fight, several Caesar 
put to death, others anticipated him by killing themselves. 

Cato had undertaken to defend Utica, and for that reason was 
not in the batde. The desire which Caesar had to take him alive, 

308 plutarch's lives 

made him hasten thither; and upon the intelligence that he had 
despatched himself, he was much discomposed, for what reason is 
not so well agreed. He certainly said, "Cato, I must grudge you your 
death, as you grudged me the honor of saving your life." Yet the 
discourse he wrote against Cato after his death, is no great sign of 
his kindness, or that he was inclined to be reconciled to him. For 
how is it probable that he would have been tender of his life, when 
he was so bitter against his memory? But from his clemency to 
Cicero, Brutus, and many others who fought against him, it may be 
divined that Caesar's book was not written so much out of animosity 
to Cato, as in his own vindication. Cicero had written an encomium 
upon Cato, and called it by his name. A composition by so great a 
master upon so excellent a subject, was sure to be in every one's 
hands. This touched Carsar, who looked upon a panegyric on his 
enemy, as no better than an invective against himself; and therefore 
he made in his Anti-Cato, a collection of whatever could be said in 
his derogation. The two compositions, like Cato and Caesar them- 
selves, have each of them their several admirers. 

Caesar, upon his return to Rome, did not omit to pronounce before 
the people a magnificent account of his victory, telling them that 
he had subdued a country which would supply the public every 
year with two hundred thousand attic bushels of corn, and three 
million pounds weight of oil. He then led three triumphs for Egypt, 
Pontus, and Africa, the last for the victory over, not Scipio, but king 
Juba, as it was professed, whose little son was then carried in the tri- 
umph, the happiest captive that ever was, who of a barbarian Nu- 
midian, came by this means to obtain a place among the most 
learned historians of Greece. After the triumphs, he distributed re- 
wards to his soldiers, and treated the people with feasting and shows. 
He entertained the whole people together at one feast, where twenty- 
two thousand dining couches were laid out; and he made a display 
of gladiators, and of battles by sea, in honor, as he said, of his 
daughter Julia, though she had been long since dead. When these 
shows were over, an account was taken of the people, who, from 
three hundred and twenty thousand, were now reduced to one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand. So great a waste had the civil war made in 

CESAR 309 

Rome alone, not to mention what the other parts of Italy and the 
provinces suffered. 

He was now chosen a fourth time consul, and went into Spain 
against Pompey's sons. They were but young, yet had gathered to- 
gether a very numerous army, and showed they had courage and 
conduct to command it, so that Caesar was in extreme danger. The 
great battle was near the town of Munda, in which Caesar seeing his 
men hard pressed, and making but a weak resistance, ran through 
the ranks among the soldiers, and crying out, asked them whether 
they were not ashamed to deliver him into the hands of boys? 
At last, with great difficulty, and the best efforts he could make, he 
forced back the enemy, killing thirty thousand of them, though with 
the loss of one thousand of his best men. When he came back from 
the fight, he told his friends that he had often fought for victory, 
but this was the first time that he had ever fought for life. This 
battle was won on the feast of Bacchus, the very day in which 
Pompey, four years before, had set out for the war. The younger 
of Pompey's sons escaped; but Didius, some days after the fight, 
brought the head of the elder to Carsar. This was the last war he 
was engaged in. The triumph which he celebrated for this victory, 
displeased the Romans beyond any thing. For he had not defeated 
foreign generals, or barbarian kings, but had destroyed the chil- 
dren and family of one of the greatest men of Rome, though un- 
fortunate; and it did not look well to lead a procession in celebration 
of the calamities of his country, and to rejoice in those things for 
which no other apology could be made either to gods or men, than 
their being absolutely necessary. Besides that, hitherto he had never 
sent letters or messengers to announce any victory over his fellow- 
citizens, but had seemed rather to be ashamed of the action, than 
to expect honor from it. 

Nevertheless his countrymen, conceding all to his fortune, and 
accepting the bit, in the hope that the government of a single per- 
son would give them time to breathe after so many civil wars and 
calamities, made him dictator for life. This was indeed a tyranny 
avowed, since his power now was not only absolute, but perpetual 
too. Cicero made the first proposals to the senate for conferring 


honors upon him, which might in some sort be said not to exceed the 
limits of ordinary human moderation. But others, striving which 
should deserve most, carried them so excessively high, that they 
made Caesar odious to the most indifferent and moderate sort of 
men, by the pretension and the extravagance of the titles which 
they decreed him. His enemies, too, are thought to have had some 
share in this, as well as his flatterers. It gave them advantage against 
him, and would be their justification for any attempt they should 
make upon him; for since the civil wars were ended, he had nothing 
else that he could be charged with. And they had good reason to 
decree a temple to Clemency, in token of their thanks for the mild 
use he made of his victory. For he not only pardoned many of those 
who fought against him, but, further, to some gave honors and 
offices; as particularly to Brutus and Cassius, who both of them 
were praetors. Pompey's images that were thrown down, he set up 
again, upon which Cicero also said that by raising Pompey's statues 
he had fixed his own. When his friends advised him to have a guard, 
and several offered their service, he would not hear of it; but said 
it was better to suffer death once, than always to live in fear of it. He 
looked upon the affections of the people to be the best and surest 
guard, and entertained them again with public feasting, and general 
distributions of corn; and to gratify his army, he sent out colonies 
to several places, of which the most remarkable were Carthage and 
Corinth; which as before they had been ruined at the same time, so 
now were restored and repeopled together. 

As for the men of high rank, he promised to some of them future 
consulships and praetorships, some he consoled with other offices and 
honors, and to all held out hopes of favor by the solicitude he showed 
to rule with the general goodwill; insomuch that upon the death 
of Maximus one day before his consulship was ended, he made 
Caninius Revilius consul for that day. And when many went to 
pay the usual compliments and attentions to the new consul, "Let 
us make haste," said Cicero, "lest the man be gone out of his office 
before we come." 

Caesar was born to do great things, and had a passion after honor, 
and the many noble exploits he had done did not now serve as an 
inducement to him to sit still and reap the fruit of his past labors, 

CESAR 311 

but were incentives and encouragements to go on, and raised in him 
ideas of still greater actions, and a desire of new glory, as if the 
present were all spent. It was in fact a sort of emulous struggle with 
himself, as it had been with another, how he might outdo his past 
actions by his future. In pursuit of these thoughts, he resolved to 
make war upon the Parthians, and when he had subdued them, to 
pass through Hyrcania; thence to march along by the Caspian Sea to 
Mount Caucasus, and so on about Pontus, till he came into Scythia; 
then to overrun all the countries bordering upon Germany, and 
Germany itself; and so to return through Gaul into Italy, after 
completing the whole circle of his intended empire, and bounding it 
on every side by the ocean. While preparations were making for 
this expedition, he proposed to dig through the isthmus on which 
Corinth stands; and appointed Anienus to superintend the work. 
He had also a design of diverting the Tiber, and carrying it by a 
deep channel directly from Rome to Circeii, and so into the sea near 
Tarracina, that there might be a safe and easy passage for all mer- 
chants who traded to Rome. Besides this, he intended to drain all the 
marshes by Pomentium and Setia, and gain ground enough from 
the water to employ many thousands of men in tillage. He pro- 
posed further to make great mounds on the shore nearest Rome, to 
hinder the sea from breaking in upon the land, to clear the coast 
at Ostia of all the hidden rocks and shoals that made it unsafe for 
shipping, and to form ports and harbors fit to receive the large 
number of vessels that would frequent them. 

These things were designed without being carried into effect; 
but his reformation of the calendar, in order to rectify the irregu- 
larity of time, was not only projected with great scientific ingenuity, 
but was brought to its completion, and proved of very great use. 
For it was not only in ancient times that the Romans had wanted a 
certain rule to make the revolutions of their months fall in with the 
course of the year, so that their festivals and solemn days for sacri- 
fice were removed by little and little, till at last they came to be kept 
at seasons quite the contrary to what was at first intended, but even 
at this time the people had no way of computing the solar year; 
only the priests could say the time, and they, at their pleasure, with- 
out giving any notice, slipped in the intercalary month, which they 

312 plutarch's lives 

called Mercedonius. Numa was the first who put in this month, but 
his expedient was but a poor one and quite inadequate to correct all 
the errors that arose in the returns of the annual cycles, as we have 
shown in his Life. Caesar called in the best philosophers and mathe- 
maticians of his time to settle the point, and out of the systems he 
had before him, formed a new and more exact method of correcting 
the calendar, which the Romans use to this day, and seem to suc- 
ceed better than any nation in avoiding the errors occasioned by 
the inequality of the cycles. Yet even this gave offence to those 
who looked with an evil eye on his position, and felt oppressed 
by his power. Cicero, the orator, when some one in his company 
chanced to say, the next morning Lyra would rise, replied, "Yes, 
in accordance with the edict," as if even this were a matter of com- 

But that which brought upon him the most apparent and mortal 
hatred, was his desire of being king; which gave the common people 
the first occasion to quarrel with him, and proved the most specious 
pretence to those who had been his secret enemies all along. Those, 
who would have procured him that title, gave it out, that it was 
foretold in the Sybils' books that the Romans should conquer the 
Parthians when they fought against them under the conduct of a 
king, but not before. And one day, as Caesar was coming down from 
Alba to Rome, some were so bold as to salute him by the name of 
king; but he finding the people disrelish it, seemed to resent it 
himself, and said his name was Caesar, not king. Upon this, there 
was a general silence, and he passed on looking not very well 
pleased or contented. Another time, when the senate had conferred 
on him some extravagant honors, he chanced to receive the message 
as he was sitting on the rostra, where, though the consuls and praetors 
themselves waited on him, attended by the whole body of the senate, 
he did not rise, but behaved himself to them as if they had been 
private men, and told them his honors wanted rather to be re- 
trenched than increased. This treatment offended not only the 
senate, but the commonalty, too, as if they thought the affront upon 
the senate equally reflected upon the whole republic; so that all who 
could decently leave him went off, looking much discomposed. 
Caesar, perceiving the false step he had made, immediately retired 

CESAR 313 

home; and laying his throat bare, told his friends that he was ready 
to offer this to any one who would give the stroke. But afterwards 
he made the malady from which he suffered, the excuse for his 
sitting, saying that those who are attacked by it, lose their presence 
of mind, if they talk much standing; that they presently grow giddy, 
fall into convulsions, and quite lose their reason. But this was not 
the reality, for he would willingly have stood up to the senate, had 
not Cornelius Balbus, one of his friends, or rather flatterers, hin- 
dered him. "Will you not remember," said he, "you are Caesar, 
and claim the honor which is due to your merit?" 

He gave a fresh occasion of resentment by his affront to the trib- 
unes. The Lupercalia were then celebrated, a feast at the first insti- 
tution belonging, as some writers say, to the shepherds, and having 
some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. Many young noblemen 
and magistrates run up and down the city with their upper gar- 
ments off, striking all they meet with thongs of hide, by way of 
sport; and many women, even of the highest rank, place themselves 
in the way, and hold out their hands to the lash, as boys in a school 
do to the master, out of a belief that it procures an easy labor to 
those who are with child, and makes those conceive who are bar- 
ren. Caesar, dressed in a triumphal robe, seated himself in a golden 
chair at the rostra, to view this ceremony. Antony, as consul, was 
one of those who ran this course, and when he came into the forum, 
and the people made way for him, he went up and reached to Caesar 
a diadem wreathed with laurel. Upon this, there was a shout, but 
only a slight one, made by the few who were planted there for that 
purpose; but when Caesar refused it, there was universal applause. 
Upon the second offer, very few, and upon the second refusal, all 
again applauded. Caesar finding it would not take, rose up, and 
ordered the crown to be carried into the capitol. Caesar's statues 
were afterwards found with royal diadems on their heads. Flavius 
and Marullus, two tribunes of the people, went presently and pulled 
them off, and having apprehended those who first saluted Caesar 
as king, committed them to prison. The people followed them with 
acclamations, and called them by the name of Brutus, because Bru- 
tus was the first who ended the succession of kings, and transferred 
the power which before was lodged in one man into the hands of 

314 plutarch's lives 

the senate and people. Ca-sar so far resented this, that he displaced 
Marullus and Flavius; and in urging his charges against them, at 
the same time ridiculed the people, by himself giving the men more 
than once the names of Bruti, and Cumsei. 15 

This made the multitude turn their thoughts to Marcus Brutus, 
who, by his father's side, was thought to be descended from that 
first Brutus, and by his mother's side from the Servilii, another 
noble family, being besides nephew and son-in-law to Cato. But the 
honors and favors he had received from Carsar, took off the edge 
from the desires he might himself have felt for overthrowing the 
new monarchy. For he had not only been pardoned himself after 
Pompey's defeat at Pharsalia, and had procured the same grace for 
many of his friends, but was one in whom Carsar had a particular 
confidence. He had at that time the most honorable prartorship of 
the year, and was named for the consulship four years after, being 
preferred before Cassius, his competitor. Upon the question as to 
the choice, Caesar, it is related, said that Cassius had the fairer pre- 
tensions, but that he could not pass by Brutus. Nor would he after- 
wards listen to some who spoke against Brutus, when the conspir- 
acy against him was already afoot, but laying his hand on his body, 
said to the informers, "Brutus will wait for this skin of mine," inti- 
mating that he was worthy to bear rule on account of his virtue, 
but would not be base and ungrateful to gain it. Those who desired 
a change, and looked on him as the only, or at least the most proper, 
person to effect it, did not venture to speak with him; but in the 
night-time laid papers about his chair of state, where he used to sit 
and determine causes, with such sentences in them as, "You are 
asleep, Brutus," "You are no longer Brutus." Cassius, when he per- 
ceived his ambition a little raised upon this, was more instant than 
before to work him yet further, having himself a private grudge 
against Caesar, for some reasons that we have mentioned in the Life 
of Brutus. Nor was Carsar without suspicions of him, and said 
once to his friends, "What do you think Cassius is aiming at? I 
don't like him, he looks so pale." And when it was told him that 
Antony and Dolabella were in a plot against him, he said he did not 

15 Brutus, in Latin, means heavy, stupid; and the Cumzans were for one reason or 
other proverbial for dulncss. 

CiESAR 315 

fear such fat, luxurious men, but rather the pale, lean fellows, mean- 
ing Cassius and Brutus. 

Fate, however, is to all appearances more unavoidable than unex- 
pected. For many strange prodigies and apparitions are said to have 
been observed shortly before the event. As to the lights in the heav- 
ens, the noises heard in the night, and the wild birds which perched 
in the forum, these are not perhaps worth taking notice of in so 
great a case as this. Strabo, the philosopher, tells us that a number 
of men were seen, looking as if they were heated through with fire, 
contending with each other; that a quantity of flame issued from 
the hand of a soldier's servant, so that they who saw it thought he 
must be burnt, but that after all he had no hurt. As Caesar was sacri- 
ficing, the victim's heart was missing, a very bad omen, because 
no living creature can subsist without a heart. One finds it also 
related by many, that a soothsayer bade him prepare for some great 
danger on the ides of March. When the day was come, Caesar, as 
he went to the senate, met this soothsayer, and said to him by way 
of raillery, "The ides of March are come;" who answered him 
calmly, "Yes, they are come, but they are not past." The day before 
this assassination, he supped with Marcus Lepidus; and as he was 
signing some letters, according to his custom, as he reclined at 
table, there arose a question what sort of death was the best. At 
which he immediately, before any one could speak, said, "A sudden 

After this, as he was in bed with his wife, all the doors and 
windows of the house flew open together; he was starded at the 
noise, and the light which broke into the room, and sat up in his 
bed, where by the moonshine he perceived Calpurnia fast asleep, 
but heard her utter in her dream some indistinct words and in- 
articulate groans. She fancied at that time she was weeping over 
Carsar, and holding him butchered in her arms. Others say this 
was not her dream, but that she dreamed that a pinnacle which the 
senate, as Livy relates, had ordered to be raised on Caesar's house by 
way of ornament and grandeur, was tumbling down, which was the 
occasion of her tears and ejaculations. When it was day, she begged 
of Caesar, if it were possible, not to stir out, but to adjourn the sen- 
ate to another time; and if he slighted her dreams, that he would 

316 plutarch's lives 

be pleased to consult his fate by sacrifices, and other kinds of divina- 
tion. Nor was he himself without some suspicion and fears; for he 
never before discovered any womanish superstition in Calpurnia, 
whom he now saw in such great alarm. Upon the report which the 
priests made to him, that they had killed several sacrifices, and 
still found them inauspicious, he resolved to send Antony to dis- 
miss the senate. 

In this juncture, Decimus Brutus, surnamed Albinus, one whom 
Caesar had such confidence in that he made him his second heir, 
who nevertheless was engaged in the conspiracy with the other 
Brutus and Cassius, fearing lest if Caesar should put off the senate 
to another day, the business might get wind, spoke scoffingly and in 
mockery of the diviners, and blamed Caesar for giving the senate so 
fair an occasion of saying he had put a slight upon them, for that 
they were met upon his summons, and were ready to vote unani- 
mously, that he should be declared king of all the provinces out of 
Italy, and might wear a diadem in any other place but Italy, by 
sea or land. If any one should be sent to tell them they might break 
up for the present, and meet again when Calpurnia should chance 
to have better dreams, what would his enemies say? Or who would 
with any patience hear his friends, if they should presume to defend 
his government as not arbitrary and tyrannical? But if he was pos- 
sessed so far as to think this day unfortunate, yet it were more decent 
to go himself to the senate, and to adjourn it in his own person. 
Brutus, as he spoke these words, took Caesar by the hand, and con- 
ducted him forth. He was not gone far from the door, when a 
servant of some other person's made towards him, but not being able 
to come up to him, on account of the crowd of those who pressed 
about him, he made his way into the house, and committed him- 
self to Calpurnia, begging of her to secure him till Caesar returned, 
because he had matters of great importance to communicate to him. 

Artemidorus, a Cnidian, a teacher of Greek logic, and by that 
means so far acquainted with Brutus and his friends as to have got 
into the secret, brought Caesar in a small written memorial, the heads 
of what he had to depose. He had observed that Caesar, as he re- 
ceived any papers, presently gave them to the servants who attended 
on him; and therefore came as near to him as he could, and said, 

CESAR 317 

"Read this, Caesar, alone, and quickly, for it contains matter of great 
importance which nearly concerns you." Caesar received it, and tried 
several times to read it, but was still hindered by the crowd of 
those who came to speak to him. However, he kept it in his hand 
by itself till he came into the senate. Some say it was another who 
gave Caesar this note, and that Artemidorus could not get to him, 
being all along kept off by the crowd. 

All these things might happen by chance. But the place which 
was destined for the scene of this murder, in which the senate met 
that day, was the same in which Pompey's statue stood and was one 
of the edifices which Pompey had raised and dedicated with his 
theatre to the use of the public, plainly showing that there was 
something of a supernatural influence which guided the action, and 
ordered it to that particular place. Cassius, just before the act, is 
said to have looked towards Pompey's statue, and silently implored 
his assistance, though he had been inclined to the doctrines of 
Epicurus. But this occasion and the instant danger, carried him 
away out of all his reasonings, and filled him for the time with a 
sort of inspiration. As for Antony, who was firm to Caesar, and a 
strong man, Brutus Albinus kept him outside the house, and delayed 
him with a long conversation contrived on purpose. When Caesar 
entered, the senate stood up to show their respect to him, and of 
Brutus's confederates, some came about his chair and stood behind 
it, others met him, pretending to add their petitions to those of 
Tillius Cimber, in behalf of his brother, who was in exile; and they 
followed him with their joint supplications till he came to his seat. 
When he was sat down, he refused to comply with their requests, 
and upon their urging him further, began to reproach them sev- 
erally for their importunities, when Tillius, laying hold of his robe 
with both his hands, pulled it down from his neck, which was the sig- 
nal for the assault. Casca gave him the first cut, in the neck, which 
was not mortal nor dangerous, as coming from one who at the 
beginning of such a bold action was probably very much disturbed. 
Caesar immediately turned about, and laid his hand upon the dag- 
ger and kept hold of it. And both of them at the same time cried 
out, he that received the blow, in Latin, "Vile Casca, what does 
this mean?" and he that gave it, in Greek, to his brother, "Brother, 

318 plutarch's lives 

help!" Upon this first onset, those who were not privy to the design 
were astonished, and their horror and amazement at what they saw 
were so great, that they durst not fly nor assist Cxsar, nor so much 
as speak a word. But those who came prepared for the business in- 
closed him on every side, with their naked daggers in their hands. 
Which way soever he turned, he met with blows, and saw their 
swords levelled at his face and eyes, and was encompassed, like a 
wild beast in the toils, on every side. For it had been agreed they 
should each of them make a thrust at him, and flesh themselves with 
his blood; for which reason Brutus also gave him one stab in the 
groin. Some say that he fought and resisted all the rest, shifting 
his body to avoid the blows, and calling out for help, but that when 
he saw Brutus's sword drawn, he covered his face with his robe 
and submitted, letting himself fall, whether it were by chance, or 
that he was pushed in that direction by his murderers, at the foot 
of the pedestal on which Pompey's statue stood, and which was thus 
wetted with his blood. So that Pompey himself seemed to have pre- 
sided, as it were, over the revenge done upon his adversary, who lay 
here at his feet, and breathed out his soul through his multitude of 
wounds, for they say he received three and twenty. And the con- 
spirators themselves were many of them wounded by each other, 
whilst they all levelled their blows at the same person. 

When Caesar was dispatched, Brutus stood forth to give a reason 
for what they had done, but the senate would not hear him, but 
flew out of doors in all haste, and filled the people with so much 
alarm and distraction that some shut up their houses, others left 
their counters and shops. All ran one way or the other, some to 
the place to see the sad spectacle, others back again after they had 
seen it. Antony and Lepidus, Caesar's most faithful friends, got off 
privately, and hid themselves in some friends' houses. Brutus and 
his followers, being yet hot from the deed, marched in a body 
from the senate-house to the capitol with their drawn swords, not 
like persons who thought of escaping, but with an air of confidence 
and assurance, and as they went along, called to the people to resume 
their liberty, and invited the company of any more distinguished 
people whom they met. And some of these joined the procession 
and went up along with them, as if they also had been of the con- 

CESAR 319 

spiracy, and could claim a share in the honor of what had been done. 
As, for example, Caius Octavius and Lentulus Spinther, who suf- 
fered afterwards for their vanity, being taken off by Antony and the 
young Caesar, and lost the honor they desired, as well as their lives, 
which it cost them, since no one believed they had any share in the 
action. For neither did those who punished them profess to revenge 
the fact, but the ill-will. The day after, Brutus with the rest came 
down from the capitol, and made a speech to the people, who 
listened without expressing either any pleasure or resentment, but 
showed by their silence that they pitied Cxsar, and respected Brutus. 
The senate passed acts of oblivion for what was past, and took 
measures to reconcile all parties. They ordered that Carsar should 
be worshipped as a divinity, and nothing, even of the slightest con- 
sequence, should be revoked, which he had enacted during his gov- 
ernment. At the same time they gave Brutus and his followers the 
command of provinces, and other considerable posts. So that all 
people now thought things were well settled, and brought to the 
happiest adjustment. 

But when Caesar's will was opened, and it was found that he had 
left a considerable legacy to each one of the Roman citizens, and 
when his body was seen carried through the market-place all man- 
gled with wounds, the multitude could no longer contain themselves 
within the bounds of tranquillity and order, but heaped together a 
pile of benches, bars, and tables, which they placed the corpse on, 
and setting fire to it, burnt it on them. Then they took brands from 
the pile, and ran some to fire the houses of the conspirators, others 
up and down the city, to find out the men and tear them to pieces, 
but met, however, with none of them, they having taken effectual 
care to secure themselves. 

One Cinna, a friend of Cisar's, chanced the night before to have 
an odd dream. He fancied that Caesar invited him to supper, and 
that upon his refusal to go with him, Caesar took him by the hand 
and forced him, though he hung back. Upon hearing the report 
that Ca?sar's body was burning in the market-place, he got up and 
went thither, out of respect to his memory, though his dream gave 
him some ill apprehensions, and though he was suffering from a 
fever. One of the crowd who saw him there, asked another who that 


was, and having learned his name, told it to his next neighbor. It 
presently passed for a certainty that he was one of Carsar's murder- 
ers, as, indeed, there was another Cinna, a conspirator, and they, 
taking this to be the man, immediately seized him, and tore him 
limb from limb upon the spot. 

Brutus and Cassius, frightened at this, within a few days retired 
out of the city. What they afterwards did and suffered, and how 
they died, is written in the Life of Brutus. Caesar died in his fifty- 
sixth year, not having survived Pompey above four years. That 
empire and power which he had pursued through the whole course 
of his life with so much hazard, he did at last with much difficulty 
compass, but reaped no other fruits from it than the empty name 
and invidious glory. But the great genius which attended him 
through his lifetime, even after his death remained as the avenger 
of his murder, pursuing through every sea and land all those who 
were concerned in it, and suffering none to escape, but reaching all 
who in any sort or kind were either actually engaged in the fact, or 
by their counsels any way promoted it. 

The most remarkable of mere human coincidences was that which 
befell Cassius, who, when he was defeated at Philippi, killed him- 
self with the same dagger which he had made use of against Cxsar. 
The most signal preternatural appearances were the great comet, 
which shone very bright for seven nights after Carsar's death, and 
then disappeared, and the dimness of the sun," whose orb continued 
pale and dull for the whole of that year, never showing its ordinary 
radiance at its rising, and giving but a weak and feeble heat. The 
air consequently was damp and gross, for want of stronger rays to 
open and rarify it. The fruits, for that reason, never properly 
ripened, and began to wither and fall off for want of heat, before 
they were fully formed. But above all, the phantom which appeared 
to Brutus showed the murder was not pleasing to the gods. The 
story of it is this. 

-Solcm quis dicere falsum 

Audcat? illc etiam czcos insure tumultus 
Sarpe monet, fraudemque ct opcrta tumescere bclla. 
Ille etiam exstincto miscratus Cxsarc Romam; 
Cum caput obscura nitidum fcrrupne texit, 
Impiaque xternam timuerunt szcula noctem. 

Virg. Georg. 1. 463. 


Brutus, being to pass his army from Abydos to the continent on 
the other side, laid himself down one night, as he used to do, in his 
tent, and was not asleep, but thinking of his affairs, and what events 
he might expect. For he is related to have been the least inclined 
to sleep of all men who have commanded armies, and to have had 
the greatest natural capacity for continuing awake, and employ- 
ing himself without need of rest. He thought he heard a noise at 
the door of his tent, and looking that way, by the light of his lamp, 
which was almost out, saw a terrible figure, like that of a man, but 
of unusual stature and severe countenance. He was somewhat 
frightened at first, but seeing it neither did nor spoke any thing to 
him, only stood silently by his bedside, he asked who it was. The 
spectre answered him, "Thy evil genius, Brutus, thou shalt see me 
at Philippi." Brutus answered courageously, "Well, I shall see you," 
and immediately the appearance vanished. When the time was 
come, he drew up his army near Philippi against Antony and Caesar, 
and in the first battle won the day, routed the enemy, and plun- 
dered Carsar's camp. The night before the second battle, the same 
phantom appeared to him again, but spoke not a word. He pres- 
ently understood his destiny was at hand, and exposed himself to 
all the danger of the battle. Yet he did not die in the fight, but 
seeing his men defeated, got up to the top of a rock, and there 
presenting his sword to his naked breast, and assisted, as they say, 
by a friend, who helped him to give the thrust, met his death. 


THE grandfather of Antony was the famous pleader, whom 
Marius put to death for having taken part with Sylla. His 
father was Antony, surnamed of Crete, not very famous 
or distinguished in public life, but a worthy, good man, and par- 
ticularly remarkable for his liberality, as may appear from a single 
example. He was not very rich, and was for that reason checked in 
the exercise of his good-nature by his wife. A friend that stood in 
need of money came to borrow of him. Money he had none, but 
he bade a servant bring him water in a silver basin, with which, 
when it was brought, he wetted his face, as if he meant to shave; 
and, sending away the servant upon another errand, gave his friend 
the basin, desiring him to turn it to his purpose. And when there 
was, afterwards, a great inquiry for it in the house, and his wife 
was in a very ill humor, and was going to put the servants one by 
one to the search, he acknowledged what he had done, and begged 
her pardon. 

His wife was Julia, of the family of the Caesars, who, for her 
discretion and fair behavior, was not inferior to any of her time. 
Under her, Antony received his education, she being, after the death 
of his father, remarried to Cornelius Lentulus, who was put to death 
by Cicero for having been of Catiline's conspiracy. This, probably, 
was the first ground and occasion of that mortal grudge that An- 
tony bore Cicero. He says, even, that the body of Lentulus was 
denied burial, till, by application made to Cicero's wife, it was 
granted to Julia. But this seems to be a manifest error, for none 
of those that suffered in the consulate of Cicero had the right of 
burial denied them. Antony grew up a very beautiful youth, but, by 
the worst of misfortunes, he fell into the acquaintance and friendship 
of Curio, a man abandoned to his pleasures; who, to make Antony's 
dependence upon him a matter of greater necessity, plunged him 
into a life of drinking and dissipation, and led him through a course 



of such extravagance, that he ran, at that early age, into debt to 
the amount of two hundred and fifty talents. For this sum, Curio 
became his surety; on hearing which, the elder Curio, his father, 
drove Antony out of his house. After this, for some short time, he 
took part with Clodius, the most insolent and outrageous dema- 
gogue of the time, in his course of violence and disorder; but, 
getting weary, before long, of his madness, and apprehensive of the 
powerful party forming against him, he left Italy, and travelled into 
Greece, where he spent his time in military exercises and in the study 
of eloquence. He took most to what was called the Asiatic taste in 
speaking, which was then at its height, and was, in many ways, 
suitable to his ostentatious, vaunting temper, full of empty flour- 
ishes and unsteady efforts for glory. 

After some stay in Greece, he was invited by Gabinius, who had 
been consul, to make a campaign with him in Syria, which at first 
he refused, not being willing to serve in a private character, but, 
receiving a commission to command the horse, he went along with 
him. His first service was against Aristobulus, who had prevailed 
with the Jews to rebel. Here he was himself the first man to scale 
the largest of the works, and beat Aristobulus out of all of them; 
after which he routed, in a pitched battle, an army many times over 
the number of his, killed almost all of them, and took Aristobulus 
and his son prisoners. This war ended, Gabinius was solicited by 
Ptolemy to restore him to his kingdom of Egypt, and a promise 
made of ten thousand talents reward. Most of the officers were 
against this enterprise, and Gabinius himself did not much like it, 
though sorely tempted by the ten thousand talents. But Antony, 
desirous of brave actions, and willing to please Ptolemy, joined in 
persuading Gabinius to go. And whereas all were of opinion that 
the most dangerous thing before them was the march to Pelusium, 
in which they would have to pass over a deep sand, where no fresh 
water was to be hoped for, along the Ecregma and the Serbonian 
marsh (which the Egyptians call Typhon's breathing-hole, and 
which is, in probability, water left behind by, or making its way 
through from, the Red Sea, which is here divided from the Mediter- 
ranean by a narrow isthmus), Antony, being ordered thither with 
the horse, not only made himself master of the passes, but won 


Pelusium itself, a great city, took the garrison prisoners, and, by this 
means, rendered the march secure to the army, and the way to vic- 
tory not difficult for the general to pursue. The enemy, also, reaped 
some benefit of his eagerness for honor. For when Ptolemy, after 
he had entered Pelusium, in his rage and spite against the Egyptians, 
designed to put them to the sword, Antony withstood him, and 
hindered the execution. In all the great and frequent skirmishes and 
battles, he gave continual proofs of his personal valor and military 
conduct; and once in particular, by wheeling about and attacking 
the rear of the enemy, he gave the victory to the assailants in the 
front, and received for this service signal marks of distinction. Nor 
was his humanity towards the deceased Archelaus less taken notice 
of. He had been formerly his guest and acquaintance, and, as he 
was now compelled, he fought him bravely while alive, but, on his 
death, sought out his body and buried it with royal honors. The 
consequence was that he left behind him a great name among the 
Alexandrians, and all who were serving in the Roman army looked 
upon him as a most gallant soldier. 

He had also a very good and noble appearance; his beard was 
well grown, his forehead large, and his nose aquiline, giving him al- 
together a bold, masculine look, that reminded people of the faces 
of Hercules in paintings and sculptures. It was, moreover, an ancient 
tradition, that the Antonys were descended from Hercules, by a son 
of his called Anton; and this opinion he thought to give credit to, 
by the similarity of his person just mentioned, and also by the 
fashion of his dress. For, whenever he had to appear before large 
numbers, he wore his tunic girt low about the hips, a broadsword on 
his side, and over all a large, coarse mantle. What might seem to 
some very insupportable, his vaunting, his raillery, his drinking in 
public, sitting down by the men as they were taking their food, 
and eating, as he stood, off the common soldiers' tables, made him 
the delight and pleasure of the army. In love affairs, also, he was 
very agreeable; he gained many friends by the assistance he gave 
them in theirs, and took other people's raillery upon his own with 
good-humor. And his generous ways, his open and lavish hand in 
gifts and favors to his friends and fellow-soldiers, did a great deal 
for him in his first advance to power, and, after he had become 


great, long maintained his fortunes, when a thousand follies were 
hastening their overthrow. One instance of his liberality I must re- 
late. He had ordered payment to one of his friends of twenty-five 
myriads of money, or decies, as the Romans call it, and his steward, 
wondering at the extravagance of the sum, laid all the silver in a 
heap, as he should pass by. Antony, seeing the heap, asked what it 
meant; his steward replied, "The money you have ordered to be 
given to your friend." So, perceiving the man's malice, said he, 
"I thought the decies had been much more; 't is too little; let it be 
doubled." This, however, was at a later time. 

When the Roman state finally broke up into two hostile factions, 
the aristocratical party joining Pompey, who was in the city, and 
the popular side seeking help from Caesar, who was at the head of 
an army in Gaul, Curio, the friend of Antony, having changed his 
party and devoted himself to Cxsar, brought over Antony also to 
his service. And the influence which he gained with the people by his 
eloquence and by the money which was supplied by Caesar enabled 
him to make Antony, first, tribune of the people, and then, augur. 
And Antony's accession to office was at once of the greatest advan- 
tage to Caesar. In the first place, he resisted the consul Marcellus, 
who was putting under Pompey's orders the troops who were already 
collected, and was giving him power to raise new levies; he, on the 
other hand, making an order that they should be sent into Syria 
to reinforce Bibulus, who was making war with the Parthians, and 
that no one should give in his name to serve under Pompey. Next, 
when the senators would not suffer Caesar's letters to be received 
or read in the senate, by virtue of his office he read them publicly, 
and succeeded so well, that many were brought to change their 
mind; Carsar's demands, as they appeared in what he wrote, being 
but just and reasonable. At length, two questions being put in the 
senate, the one, whether Pompey should dismiss his army, the other, 
if Caesar his, some were for the former, for the latter all, except 
some few, when Antony stood up and put the question, if it would 
be agreeable to them that both Pompey and Caesar should dismiss 
their armies. This proposal met with the greatest approval, they 
gave him loud acclamations, and called for it to be put to the vote. 
But when the consuls would not have it so, Caesar's friends again 

326 plutarch's lives 

made some new offers, very fair and equitable, but were strongly op- 
posed by Cato, and Antony himself was commanded to leave the 
senate by the consul Lentulus. So, leaving them with execrations, 
and disguising himself in a servant's dress, hiring a carriage with 
Quintus Cassius, he went straight away to Caesar, declaring at once, 
when they reached the camp, that affairs at Rome were conducted 
without any order or justice, that the privilege of speaking in the 
senate was denied the tribunes, and that he who spoke for common 
fair dealing was driven out and in danger of his life. 

Upon this, Caesar set his army in motion, and marched into Italy; 
and for this reason it is that Cicero writes in his Philippics, that 
Antony was as much the cause of the civil war, as Helen was of the 
Trojan. But this is but a calumny. For Caesar was not of so slight or 
weak a temper as to suffer himself to be carried away, by the indig- 
nation of the moment, into a civil war with his country, upon the 
sight of Antony and Cassius seeking refuge in his camp, meanly 
dressed and in a hired carriage, without ever having thought of it 
or taken any such resolution long before. This was to him, who 
wanted a pretence of declaring war, a fair and plausible occasion; 
but the true motive that led him was the same that formerly led 
Alexander and Cyrus against all mankind, the unquenchable thirst 
of empire, and the distracted ambition of being the greatest man in 
the world, which was impracticable for him, unless Pompey were 
put down. So soon, then, as he had advanced and occupied Rome, 
and driven Pompey out of Italy, he purposed first to go against the 
legions that Pompey had in Spain, and then cross over and follow 
him with the fleet that should be prepared during his absence, in 
the mean time leaving the government of Rome to Lepidus, as 
praetor, and the command of the troops and of Italy to Antony, as 
tribune of the people. Antony was not long in getting the hearts 
of the soldiers, joining with them in their exercises, and for the most 
part living amongst them, and making them presents to the utmost 
of his abilities; but with all others he was unpopular enough. He 
was too lazy to pay attention to the complaints of persons who were 
injured; he listened impatiently to petitions; and he had an ill name 
for familiarity with other people's wives. In short, the government 
of Caesar (which, so far as he was concerned himself, had the appear- 


ance of any thing rather than a tyranny), got a bad repute through 
his friends. And of these friends, Antony, as he had the largest 
trust, and committed the greatest errors, was thought the most 
deeply in fault. 

Ca?sar, however, at his return from Spain, overlooked the charges 
against him, and had no reason ever to complain, in the employ- 
ments he gave him in the war, of any want of courage, energy, or 
military skill. He himself, going aboard at Brundusium, sailed over 
the Ionian Sea with a few troops, and sent back the vessels with 
orders to Antony and Gabinius to embark the army, and come over 
with all speed into Macedonia. Gabinius, having no mind to put 
to sea in the rough, dangerous weather of the winter season, was 
for marching the army round by the long land route; but Antony, 
being more afraid lest Caesar might suffer from the number of his 
enemies, who pressed him hard, beat back Libo, who was watching 
with a fleet at the mouth of the haven of Brundusium, by attacking 
his galleys with a number of small boats, and, gaining thus an op- 
portunity, put on board twenty thousand foot and eight hundred 
horse, and so set out to sea. And, being espied by the enemy and 
pursued, from this danger he was rescued by a strong south wind, 
which sprang up and raised so high a sea, that the enemy's galleys 
could make little way. But his own ships were driving before it 
upon a lee shore of cliffs and rocks running sheer to the water, 
where there was no hope of escape, when all of a sudden the wind 
turned about to south-west, and blew from land to the main sea, 
where Antony, now sailing in security, saw the coast all covered 
with the wreck of the enemy's fleet. For hither the galleys in pur- 
suit had been carried by the gale, and not a few of them dashed 
to pieces. Many men and much property fell into Antony's hands; 
he took also the town of Lissus, and, by the seasonable arrival of so 
large a reinforcement, gave Caesar great encouragement. 

There was not one of the many engagements that now took place 
one after another in which he did not signalize himself; twice he 
stopped the army in its full flight, led them back to a charge, and 
gained the victory. So that not without reason his reputation, next 
to Caesar's, was greatest in the army. And what opinion Caesar him- 
self had of him well appeared when for the final battle in Pharsalia, 

328 plutarch's lives 

which was to determine every thing, he himself chose to lead the 
right wing, committing the charge of the left to Antony, as to the 
best officer of all that served under him. After the battle, Caesar, 
being created dictator, went in pursuit of Pompey, and sent Antony 
to Rome, with the character of Master of the Horse, who is in office 
and power next to the dictator, when present, and in his absence 
is the first, and pretty nearly indeed the sole magistrate. For on the 
appointment of a dictator, with the one exception of the tribunes, 
all other magistrates cease to exercise any authority in Rome. 

Dolabella, however, who was tribune, being a young man and 
eager for change, was now for bringing in a general measure for 
cancelling debts, and wanted Antony, who was his friend, and for- 
ward enough to promote any popular project, to take part with him 
in this step. Asinius and Trebellius were of the contrary opinion, 
and it so happened at the same time, Antony was crossed by a ter- 
rible suspicion that Dolabella was too familiar with his wife; and in 
great trouble at this, he parted with her (she being his cousin, and 
daughter to Caius Antonius, the colleague of Cicero), and, taking 
part with Asinius, came to open hostilities with Dolabella, who had 
seized on the forum, intending to pass his law by force. Antony, 
backed by a vote of the senate that Dolabella should be put down 
by force of arms, went down and attacked him, killing some of his, 
and losing some of his own men; and by this action lost his favor 
with the commonalty, while with the better class and with all well 
conducted people his general course of life made him, as Cicero 
says, absolutely odious, utter disgust being excited by his drinking 
bouts at all hours, his wild expenses, his gross amours, the day spent 
in sleeping or walking off his debauches, and the night in banquets 
and at theatres, and in celebrating the nuptials of some comedian or 
buffoon. It is related that, drinking all night at the wedding of 
Hippias, the comedian, on the morning, having to harangue the 
people, he came forward, overcharged as he was, and vomited be- 
fore them all, one of his friends holding his gown for him. Sergius, 
the player, was one of the friends who could do most with him; also 
Cytheris, a woman of the same trade, whom he made much of, 
and who, when he went his progress, accompanied him in a litter, 
and had her equipage, not in any thing inferior to his mother's; 


while every one, moreover, was scandalized at the sight of the 
golden cups that he took with him, fitter for the ornaments of a 
procession than the uses of a journey, at his having pavilions set up, 
and sumptuous morning repasts laid out by river sides and in groves, 
at his having chariots drawn by lions, and common women and 
singing girls quartered upon the houses of serious fathers and 
mothers of families. And it seemed very unreasonable that Caesar, 
out of Italy, should lodge in the open field, and, with great fatigue 
and danger, pursue the remainder of a hazardous war, whilst others, 
by favor of his authority, should insult the citizens with their 
impudent luxury. 

All this appears to have aggravated party quarrels in Rome, and 
to have encouraged the soldiers in acts of license and rapacity. And, 
accordingly, when Carsar came home, he acquitted Dolabella, and, 
being created the third time consul, took, not Antony, but Lepidus, 
for his colleague. Pompey's house being offered for sale, Antony 
bought it, and, when the price was demanded of him, loudly com- 
plained. This, he tells us himself, and because he thought his former 
services had not been recompensed as they deserved, made him not 
follow Csesar with the army into Libya. However, Carsar, by deal- 
ing gently with his errors, seems to have succeeded in curing him 
of a good deal of his folly and extravagance. He gave up his former 
courses, and took a wife, Fulvia, the widow of Clodius the dema- 
gogue, a woman not born for spinning or housewifery, nor one that 
could be content with ruling a private husband, but prepared to 
govern a first magistrate, or give orders to a commander-in-chief. 
So that Cleopatra had great obligations to her for having taught 
Antony to be so good a servant, he coming to her hands tame and 
broken into entire obedience to the commands of a mistress. He 
used to play all sorts of sportive, boyish tricks, to keep Fulvia in good- 
humor. As, for example, when Caesar, after his victory in Spain, 
was on his return, Antony, among the rest, went out to meet him; 
and, a rumor being spread that Ca:sar was killed and the enemy 
marching into Italy, he returned to Rome, and, disguising himself, 
came to her by night muffled up as a servant that brought letters 
from Antony. She, with great impatience, before she received the 
letter, asks if Antony were well, and instead of an answer he gives 


her the letter; and, as she was opening it, took her about the neck 
and kissed her. This little story of many of the same nature, I give 
as a specimen. 

There was nobody of any rank in Rome that did not go some 
days' journey to meet Caesar on his return from Spain; but Antony 
was the best received of any, admitted to ride the whole journey 
with him in his carriage, while behind came Brutus Albinus, and 
Octavian, his niece's son, who afterwards bore his name and reigned 
so long over the Romans. Carsar being created, the fifth time, con- 
sul, without delay chose Antony for his colleague, but, designing 
himself to give up his own consulate to Dolabella, he acquainted 
the senate with his resolution. But Antony opposed it with all his 
might, saying much that was bad against Dolabella, and receiving 
the like language in return, till Caesar could bear with the indecency 
no longer, and deferred the matter to another time. Afterwards, 
when he came before the people to proclaim Dolabella, Antony cried 
out that the auspices were unfavorable, so that at last Carsar, much 
to Dolabella's vexation, yielded and gave it up. And it is credible 
that Carsar was about as much disgusted with the one as the other. 
When some one was accusing them both to him, "It is not," said he, 
"these well-fed, long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the 
hungry looking;" meaning Brutus and Cassius, by whose conspiracy 
he afterwards fell. 

And the fairest pretext for that conspiracy was furnished, with- 
out his meaning it, by Antony himself. The Romans were cele- 
brating their festival, called the Lupercalia, when Caesar, in his tri- 
umphal habit, and seated above the Rostra in the market-place, was 
a spectator of the sports. The custom is, that many young noble- 
men and of the magistracy, anointed with oil and having straps of 
hide in their hands, run about and strike, in sport, at every one they 
meet. Antony was running with the rest; but, omitting the old 
ceremony, twining a garland of bay round a diadem, he ran up to 
the Rostra, and, being lifted up by his companions, would have put 
it upon the head of Caesar, as if by that ceremony he were declared 
king. Caesar seemingly refused, and drew aside to avoid it, and 
was applauded by the people with great shouts. Again Antony 
pressed it, and again he declined its acceptance. And so the dispute 


between them went on for some time, Antony's solicitations receiv- 
ing but little encouragement from the shouts of a few friends, and 
Caesar's refusal being accompanied with the general applause of 
the people; a curious thing enough, that they should submit with 
patience to the fact, and yet at the same time dread the name as the 
destruction of their liberty. Caesar, very much discomposed at what 
had past, got up from his seat, and, laying bare his neck, said, he 
was ready to receive the stroke, if any one of them desired to give it. 
The crown was at last put on one of his statues, but was taken down 
by some of the tribunes, who were followed home by the people 
with shouts of applause. Caesar, however, resented it, and deposed 

These passages gave great encouragement to Brutus and Cassius, 
who, in making choice of trusty friends for such an enterprise, were 
thinking to engage Antony. The rest approved, except Trebonius, 
who told them that Antony and he had lodged and travelled to- 
gether in the last journey they took to meet Caesar, and that he had 
let fall several words, in a cautious way, on purpose to sound him; 
that Antony very well understood him, but did not encourage it; 
however, he had said nothing of it to Caesar, but had kept the secret 
faithfully. The conspirators then proposed that Antony should die 
with him, which Brutus would not consent to, insisting that an 
action undertaken in defence of right and the laws must be main- 
tained unsullied, and pure of injustice. It was setded that Antony, 
whose bodily strength and high office made him formidable, should, 
at Caesar's entrance into the senate, when the deed was to be done, 
be amused outside by some of the party in a conversation about some 
pretended business. 

So when all was proceeded with, according to their plan, and 
Caesar had fallen in the senate-house, Antony, at the first moment, 
took a servant's dress, and hid himself. But, understanding that the 
conspirators had assembled in the Capitol, and had no further de- 
sign upon any one, he persuaded them to come down, giving them 
his son as a hostage. That night Cassius supped at Antony's house, 
and Brutus with Lepidus. Antony then convened the senate, and 
spoke in favor of an act of oblivion, and the appointment of Brutus 
and Cassius to provinces. These measures the senate passed; and 


resolved that all Caesar's acts should remain in force. Thus Antony 
went out of the senate with the highest possible reputation and 
esteem; for it was apparent that he had prevented a civil war, and 
had composed, in the wisest and most statesmanlike way, questions 
of the greatest difficulty and embarrassment. But these temperate 
counsels were soon swept away by the tide of popular applause, 
and the prospects, if Brutus were overthrown, of being without 
doubt the ruler-in-chief. As Caesar's body was conveying to the 
tomb, Antony, according to the custom, was making his funeral 
oration in the market-place, and, perceiving the people to be infinitely 
affected with what he had said, he began to mingle with his praises 
language of commiseration, and horror at what had happened, and, 
as he was ending his speech, he took the under-clothes of the dead, 
and held them up, shewing them stains of blood and the holes of 
the many stabs, calling those that had done this act villains and 
bloody murderers. All which excited the people to such indignation, 
that they would not defer the funeral, but, making a pile of tables 
and forms in the very market-place, set fire to it; and every one, 
taking a brand, ran to the conspirators' houses, to attack them. 

Upon this, Brutus and his whole party left the city, and Caesar's 
friends joined themselves to Antony. Calpurnia, Carsar's wife, 
lodged with him the best part of the property, to the value of four 
thousand talents; he got also into his hands all Caesar's papers, 
wherein were contained journals of all he had done, and draughts 
of what he designed to do, which Antony made good use of; for by 
this means he appointed what magistrates he pleased, brought whom 
he would into the senate, recalled some from exile, freed others out 
of prison, and all this as ordered so by Carsar. The Romans, in 
mockery, gave those who were thus benefited the name of Charon- 
ites, 1 since, if put to prove their patents, they must have recourse to 
the papers of the dead. In short, Antony's behavior in Rome was 
very absolute, he himself being consul, and his two brothers in great 
place; Caius, the one, being praetor, and Lucius, the other, tribune 
of the people. 

1 Suetonius says Orcini; which was the common name given, even in the law-books, 
to slaves manumitted by their owner, after his death, by his will. Charonitcr, freedmen 
of Charon, may have been a Greek translation of the Latin Orcini, freedmen of Orcus, 
or the world below; or it was perhaps a more familiar word for the same thing. 


While matters went thus in Rome, the young Caesar, Caesar's 
niece's son, and by testament left his heir, arrived at Rome from 
Apollonia, where he was when his uncle was killed. The first thing 
he did was to visit Antony, as his father's friend. He spoke to him 
concerning the money that was in his hands, and reminded him of 
the legacy Ca?sar had made of seventy-five drachmas to every 
Roman citizen. Antony, at first, laughing at such discourse from so 
young a man, told him he wished he were in his health, and that 
he wanted good counsel and good friends, to tell him the burden 
of being executor to Caesar would sit very uneasily upon his young 
shoulders. This was no answer to him; and, when he persisted in 
demanding the property, Antony went on treating him injuriously 
both in word and deed, opposed him when he stood for the tribune's 
office, and, when he was taking steps for the dedication of his father's 
golden chair, as had been enacted, he threatened to send him to 
prison if he did not give over soliciting the people. This made the 
young Caesar apply himself to Cicero, and all those that hated 
Antony; by them he was recommended to the senate, while he him- 
self courted the people, and drew together the soldiers from their 
setdements, till Antony got alarmed, and gave him a meeting in the 
Capitol, where, after some words, they came to an accommodation. 

That night Antony had a very unlucky dream, fancying that his 
right hand was thunderstruck. And, some few days after, he was 
informed that Caesar was plotting to take his life. Caesar explained, 
but was not believed, so that the breach was now made as wide as 
ever; each of them hurried about all through Italy to engage, by 
great offers, the old soldiers that lay scattered in their settlements, 
and to be the first to secure the troops that still remained undis- 

Cicero was at this time the man of greatest influence in Rome. 
He made use of all his art to exasperate people against Antony, and 
at length persuaded the senate to declare him a public enemy, to 
send Caesar the rods and axes and other marks of honor usually 
given to praetors, and to issue orders to Hirtius and Pansa, who were 
the consuls, to drive Antony out of Italy. The armies engaged near 
Modena, and Caesar himself was present and took part in the battle. 
Antony was defeated, but both the consuls were slain. Antony, in 


his flight, was overtaken by distresses of every kind, and the worst of 
all of them was famine. But it was his character in calamities to be 
better than at any other time. Antony, in misfortune, was most nearly 
a virtuous man. It is common enough for people, when they fall 
into great disasters, to discern what is right, and what they ought 
to do; but there are but few who in such extremities have the 
strength to obey their judgment, either in doing what it approves 
or avoiding what it condemns; and a good many are so weak as to 
give way to their habits all the more, and are incapable of using 
their minds. Antony, on this occasion, was a most wonderful ex- 
ample to his soldiers. He, who had just quitted so much luxury 
and sumptuous living, made no difficulty now of drinking foul 
water and feeding on wild fruits and roots. Nay, it is related they 
ate the very bark of trees, and, in passing over the Alps, lived upon 
creatures that no one before had ever been willing to touch. 

The design was to join the army on the other side the Alps, com- 
manded by Lepidus, who he imagined would stand his friend, he 
having done him many good offices with Ca?sar. On coming up and 
encamping near at hand, finding he had no sort of encouragement 
offered him, he resolved to push his fortune and venture all. His 
hair was long and disordered, nor had he shaved his beard since his 
defeat; in this guise, and with a dark colored cloak flung over him, 
he came into the trenches of Lepidus, and began to address the 
army. Some were moved at his habit, others at his words, so that 
Lepidus, not liking it, ordered the trumpets to sound, that he might 
be heard no longer. This raised in the soldiers yet a greater pity, so 
that they resolved to confer secredy with him, and dressed Lzlius 
and Clodius in women's clothes, and sent them to see him. They 
advised him without delay to attack Lepidus's trenches, assuring him 
that a strong party would receive him, and, if he wished it, would 
kill Lepidus. Antony, however, had no wish for this, but next morn- 
ing marched his army to pass over the river that parted the two 
camps. He was himself the first man that stepped in, and, as he went 
through towards the other bank, he saw Lepidus's soldiers in great 
numbers reaching out their hands to help him, and beating down 
the works to make him way. Being entered into the camp, and 
finding himself absolute master, he nevertheless treated Lepidus 


with the greatest civility, and gave him the title of Father, when he 
spoke to him, and, though he had everything at his own command, 
he left him the honor of being called the general. This fair usage 
brought over to him Munatius Plancus, who was not far off with 
a considerable force. Thus in great strength he repassed the Alps, 
leading with him into Italy seventeen legions and ten thousand 
horse, besides six legions which he left in garrison under the com- 
mand of Varius, one of his familiar friends and boon companions, 
whom they used to call by the nickname of Cotylon. 2 

Caesar, perceiving that Cicero's wishes were for liberty, had ceased 
to pay any further regard to him, and was now employing the 
mediation of his friends to come to a good understanding with 
Antony. They both met together with Lepidus in a small island, 
where the conference lasted three days. The empire was soon deter- 
mined of, it being divided amongst them as if it had been their 
paternal inheritance. That which gave them all the trouble was to 
agree who should be put to death, each of them desiring to destroy 
his enemies and to save his friends. But, in the end, animosity to 
those they hated carried the day against respect for relations and 
affection for friends; and Caesar sacrificed Cicero to Antony, Antony 
gave up his uncle Lucius Caesar, and Lepidus received permission to 
murder his brother Paulus, or, as others say, yielded his brother to 
them. I do not believe anything ever took place more truly savage 
or barbarous than this composition, for, in this exchange of blood for 
blood, they were equally guilty of the lives they surrendered and of 
those they took; or, indeed more guilty in the case of their 
friends, for whose deaths they had not even the justification of 
hatred. To complete the reconciliation, the soldiery, coming about 
them, demanded that confirmation should be given to it by some 
alliance of marriage; Caesar should marry Clodia, the daughter of 
Fulvia, wife to Antony. This also being agreed to, three hundred 
persons were put to death by proscription. Antony gave orders to 
those that were to kill Cicero, to cut off his head and right hand, 
with which he had written his invectives against him; and, when 
they were brought before him, he regarded them joyfully, actually 
bursting out more than once into laughter, and, when he had satiated 
'From Cotyle, a cup. 

336 plutarch's lives 

himself with the sight of them, ordered them to be hung up above 
the speaker's place in the forum, thinking thus to insult the dead, 
while in fact he only exposed his own wanton arrogance, and his 
unworthiness to hold the power that fortune had given him. His 
uncle Lucius Caesar, being closely pursued, took refuge with his 
sister, who, when the murderers had broken into her house and were 
pressing into her chamber, met them at the door, and, spreading out 
her hands, cried out several times, "You shall not kill Lucius Caesar 
till you first dispatch me, who gave your general his birth;" and in 
this manner she succeeded in getting her brother out of the way, 
and saving his life. 

This triumvirate was very hateful to the Romans, and Antony 
most of all bore the blame, because he was older than Caesar, and 
had greater authority than Lepidus, and withal he was no sooner 
settled in his affairs, but he returned to his luxurious and dissolute 
way of living. Besides the ill reputation he gained by his general 
behavior, it was some considerable disadvantage to him his living in 
the house of Pompey the Great, who had been as much admired for 
his temperance and his sober, citizen-like habits of life, as ever he was 
for having triumphed three times. They could not without anger 
see the doors of that house shut against magistrates, officers, and 
envoys, who were shamefully refused admittance, while it was filled 
inside with players, jugglers, and drunken flatterers, upon whom 
were spent the greatest part of the wealth which violence and cruelty 
procured. For they did not limit themselves to the forfeiture of the 
estates of such as were proscribed, defrauding the widows and fami- 
lies, nor were they contented with laying on every possible kind of 
tax and imposition; but, hearing that several sums of money were, as 
well by strangers as citizens of Rome, deposited in the hands of the 
vestal virgins, they went and took the money away by force. When it 
was manifest that nothing would ever be enough for Antony, Caesar 
at last called for a division of property. The army was also divided 
between them, upon their march into Macedonia to make war with 
Brutus and Cassius, Lepidus being left with the command of the 

However, after they had crossed the sea and engaged in opera- 
tions of war, encamping in front of the enemy, Antony opposite 


Cassius, and Caesar opposite Brutus, Caesar did nothing worth relat- 
ing, and all the success and victory were Antony's. In the first battle, 
Caesar was completely routed by Brutus, his camp taken, he himself 
very narrowly escaping by flight. As he himself writes in his Me- 
moirs, he retired before the battle, on account of a dream which 
one of his friends had. But Antony, on the other hand, defeated 
Cassius; though some have written that he was not actually present 
in the engagement, and only joined afterwards in the pursuit. Cas- 
sius was killed, at his own entreaty and order, by one of his most 
trusted freedmen, Pindarus, not being aware of Brutus's victory. 
After a few days' interval, they fought another battle, in which 
Brutus lost the day, and slew himself; and Caesar being sick, Antony 
had almost all the honor of the victory. Standing over Brutus's dead 
body, he uttered a few words of reproach upon him for the death 
of his brother Caius, who had been executed by Brutus's order in 
Macedonia in revenge of Cicero; but, saying presently that Hor- 
tensius was most to blame for it, he gave order for his being slain 
upon his brother's tomb, and, throwing his own scarlet mande, 
which was of great value, upon the body of Brutus, he gave charge 
to one of his own freedmen to take care of his funeral. This man, as 
Antony came to understand, did not leave the mantle with the 
corpse, but kept both it and a good part of the money that should 
have been spent in the funeral for himself; for which he had him 
put to death. 

But Caesar was conveyed to Rome, no one expecting that he would 
long survive. Antony, proposing to go to the eastern provinces to 
lay them under contribution, entered Greece with a large force. The 
promise had been made that every common soldier should receive 
for his pay five thousand drachmas; so it was likely there would be 
need of pretty severe taxing and levying to raise money. However, to 
the Greeks he showed at first reason and moderation enough; he 
gratified his love of amusement by hearing the learned men dispute, 
by seeing the games, and undergoing initiation; and in judicial mat- 
ters he was equitable, taking pleasure in being styled a lover of 
Greece, but, above all, in being called a lover of Athens, to which city 
he made very considerable presents. The people of Megara wished 
to let him know that they also had something to show him, and in- 

338 plutarch's lives 

vited him to come and see their senate-house. So he went and exam- 
ined it, and on their asking him how he liked it, told them it was 
"not very large, but extremely ruinous." At the same time, he had 
a survey made of the temple of the Pythian Apollo, as if he had 
designed to repair it, and indeed he had declared to the senate his 
intention so to do. 

However, leaving Lucius Censorinus in Greece, he crossed over 
into Asia, and there laid his hands on the stores of accumulated 
wealth, while kings waited at his door, and queens were rivalling 
one another, who should make him the greatest presents or appear 
most charming in his eyes. Thus, whilst Caesar in Rome was wear- 
ing out his strength amidst seditions and wars, Antony, with noth- 
ing to do amidst the enjoyments of peace, let his passions carry him 
easily back to the old course of life that was familiar to him. A set 
of harpers and pipers, Anaxenor and Xuthus, the dancing-man 
Metrodorus, and a whole Bacchic rout of the like Asiatic exhibitors, 
far outdoing in license and buffoonery the pests that had followed 
out of Italy, came in and possessed the court; the thing was past 
patience, wealth of all kinds being wasted on objects like these. The 
whole of Asia was like the city in Sophocles, loaded, at one time, 

" with incense in the air, 

Jubilant songs, and outcries of despair." 

When he made his entry into Ephesus, the women met him 
dressed up like Bacchantes, and the men and boys like Satyrs and 
Fauns, and throughout the town nothing was to be seen but spears 
wreathed about with ivy, harps, flutes, and psaltries, while Antony in 
their songs was Bacchus the Giver of Joy and the Gende. And 
so indeed he was to some, but to far more the Devourer and the Sav- 
age, 3 for he would deprive persons of worth and quality of their for- 
tunes to gratify villains and flatterers, who would sometimes beg the 
estates of men yet living, pretending they were dead, and, obtaining 
a grant, take possession. He gave his cook the house of a Magnesian 
citizen, as a reward for a single highly successful supper, and, at last, 

3 "Charidotes and Mrilichius in their songs, but too often, in reality, Omestet and 
Agrionius." These are all epithets applied in various forms of worship to the Greek 
Dionysus or Bacchus. It was to Bacchus Omestcs, the Devourer, that the Greeks, is 
the battle of Salamis, offered the Persian princes. See the story in the lives of 
Themistocles and Aristides. 


when he was proceeding to lay a second whole tribute on Asia, 
Hybreas, speaking on behalf of the cities, took courage, and told him 
broadly, but aptly enough for Antony's taste, "If you can take two 
yearly tributes, you can doubtless give us a couple of summers, and 
a double harvest time;" and put it to him in the plainest and boldest 
way, that Asia had raised two hundred thousand talents for his 
service: "If this has not been paid to you, ask your collectors for it; 
if it has, and is all gone, we are ruined men." These words touched 
Antony to the quick, who was simply ignorant of most things that 
were done in his name; not that he was so indolent, as he was 
prone to trust frankly in all about him. For there was much sim- 
plicity in his character; he was slow to see his faults, but, when he 
did see them, was extremely repentant, and ready to ask pardon of 
those he had injured; prodigal in his acts of reparation, and severe 
in his punishments, but his generosity was much more extravagant 
than his severity; his raillery was sharp and insulting, but the edge of 
it was taken off by his readiness to submit to any kind of repartee; 
for he was as well contented to be rallied, as he was pleased to rally 
others. And this freedom of speech was, indeed, the cause of many of 
his disasters. He never imagined that those who used so much lib- 
erty in their mirth would flatter or deceive him in business of conse- 
quence, not knowing how common it is with parasites to mix their 
flattery with boldness, as confectioners do their sweetmeats with 
something biting, to prevent the sense of satiety. Their freedoms and 
impertinences at table were designed expressly to give to their obse- 
quiousness in council the air of being not complaisance, but con- 

Such being his temper, the last and crowning mischief that could 
befall him came in the love of Cleopatra, to awaken and kindle to 
fury passions that as yet lay still and dormant in his nature, and to 
stifle and finally corrupt any elements that yet made resistance in him, 
of goodness and a sound judgment. He fell into the snare thus. When 
making preparation for the Parthian war, he sent to command her to 
make her personal appearance in Cilicia, to answer an accusation, 
that she had given great assistance, in the late wars, to Cassius. Del- 
lius, who was sent on this message, had no sooner seen her face, and 
remarked her adroitness and subdety in speech, but he felt con- 


vinced that Antony would not so much as think of giving any mo- 
lestation to a woman like this; on the contrary, she would be the 
first in favor with him. So he set himself at once to pay his court to 
the Egyptian, and gave her his advice, "to go," in the Homeric style, 
to Cilicia, "in her best attire," 4 and bade her fear nothing from An- 
tony, the gentlest and kindest of soldiers. She had some faith in 
the words of Dellius, but more in her own attractions, which, hav- 
ing formerly recommended her to Caesar and the young Cnzus 
Pompey, she did not doubt might prove yet more successful with 
Antony. Their acquaintance was with her when a girl, young, and 
ignorant of the world, but she was to meet Antony in the time of 
life when women's beauty is most splendid, and their intellects are 
in full maturity. 5 She made great preparation for her journey, of 
money, gifts, and ornaments of value, such as so wealthy a kingdom 
might afford, but she brought with her her surest hopes in her own 
magic arts and charms. 

She received several letters, both from Antony and from his 
friends, to summon her, but she took no account of these orders; and 
at last, as if in mockery of them, she came sailing up the river Cyd- 
nus, in a barge with gilded stern and outspread sails of purple, while 
oars of silver beat time to the music of flutes and fifes and harps. She 
herself lay all along, under a canopy of cloth of gold, dressed as 
Venus in a picture, and beautiful young boys, like painted Cupids, 
stood on each side to fan her. Her maids were dressed like Sea 
Nymphs and Graces, some steering at the rudder, some working 
at the ropes. The perfumes diffused themselves from the vessel to 
the shore, which was covered with multitudes, part following the 
galley up the river on either bank, part running out of the city to see 
the sight. The market-place was quite emptied, and Antony at last 
was left alone sitting upon the tribunal; while the word went 
through all the multitude, that Venus was come to feast with Bac- 
chus, for the common good of Asia. On her arrival, Antony sent to 
invite her to supper. She thought it fitter he should come to her; so, 

* "To go to Ida in her best attire" is the verse, in which Plutarch merely substitutes 
Cilicia for Ida. See the Iliad Book, XIV. 162, where Juno is described as setting forth 
to beguile Jupiter from bis watch on Mount Ida, while Neptune shall check the 

5 She was now about twenty-eight years old. 


willing to show his good-humor and courtesy, he complied, and 
went. He found the preparation to receive him magnificent beyond 
expression, but nothing so admirable as the great number of lights; 
for on a sudden there was let down altogether so great a number of 
branches with lights in them so ingeniously disposed, some in 
squares, and some in circles, that the whole thing was a spectacle that 
has seldom been equalled for beauty. 

The next day, Antony invited her to supper, and was very desirous 
to outdo her as well in magnificence as contrivance; but he found he 
was altogether beaten in both, and was so well convinced of it, 
that he was himself the first to jest and mock at his poverty of wit, 
and his rustic awkwardness. She, perceiving that his raillery was 
broad and gross, and savored more of the soldier than the courtier, 
rejoined in the same taste, and fell into it at once, without any sort 
of reluctance or reserve. For her actual beauty, it is said, was not 
in itself so remarkable that none could be compared with her, or 
that no one could see her without being struck by it, but the con- 
tact of her presence, if you lived with her, was irresistible; the attrac- 
tion of her person, joining with the charm of her conversation, and 
the character that attended all she said or did, was something be- 
witching. It was a pleasure merely to hear the sound of her voice, 
with which, like an instrument of many strings, she could pass from 
one language to another; so that there were few of the barbarian 
nations that she answered by an interpreter; to most of them she 
spoke herself, as to the Ethiopians, Troglodytes, Hebrews, Arabians, 
Syrians, Medes, Parthians, and many others, whose language she 
had learnt; which was all the more surprising, because most of the 
kings her predecessors scarcely gave themselves the trouble to ac- 
quire the Egyptian tongue, and several of them quite abandoned the 

Antony was so captivated by her, that, while Fulvia his wife 
maintained his quarrels in Rome against Caesar by actual force of 
arms, and the Parthian troops, commanded by Labienus (the king's 
generals having made him commander-in-chief), were assembled in 
Mesopotamia, and ready to enter Syria, he could yet suffer himself 
to be carried away by her to Alexandria, there to keep holiday, like 
a boy, in play and diversion, squandering and fooling away in enjoy- 



ments that most costly, as Antiphon says, of all valuables, time. 
They had a sort of company, to which they gave a particular name, 
calling it that of the Inimitable Livers. The members entertained 
one another daily in turn, with an extravagance of expenditure be- 
yond measure or belief. Philotas, a physician of Amphissa, who was 
at that time a student of medicine in Alexandria, used to tell my 
grandfather Lamprias, that, having some acquaintance with one of 
the royal cooks, he was invited by him, being a young man, to come 
and see the sumptuous preparations for supper. So he was taken 
into the kitchen, where he admired the prodigious variety of all 
things; but particularly, seeing eight wild boars roasting whole, says 
he, "Surely you have a great number of guests." The cook laughed 
at his simplicity, and told him there were not above twelve to sup, 
but that every dish was to be served up just roasted to a turn, and 
if any thing was but one minute ill-timed, it was spoiled; "And," 
said he, "maybe Antony will sup just now, maybe not this hour, 
maybe he will call for wine, or begin to talk, and will put it off. So 
that," he continued, "it is not one, but many suppers must be had 
in readiness, as it is impossible to guess at his hour." This was 
Philotas's story; who related besides, that he afterwards came to be 
one of the medical attendants of Antony's eldest son by Fulvia, and 
used to be invited pretty often, among other companions, to his table, 
when he was not supping with his father. One day another physician 
had talked loudly, and given great disturbance to the company, 
whose mouth Philotas stopped with this sophistical syllogism: "In 
some states of fever the patient should take cold water; every one 
who has a fever is in some state of fever; therefore in a fever cold 
water should always be taken." The man was quite struck dumb, 
and Antony's son, very much pleased, laughed aloud, and said, 
"Philotas, I make you a present of all you see there," pointing to a 
sideboard covered with plate. Philotas thanked him much, but was 
far enough from ever imagining that a boy of his age could dispose 
of things of that value. Soon after, however, the plate was all 
brought to him, and he was desired to set his mark upon it; and 
when he put it away from him, and was afraid to accept the present, 
"What ails the man?" said he that brought it; "do you know that he 
who gives you this is Antony's son, who is free to give it, if it were 


all gold? but if you will be advised by me, I would counsel you to 
accept of the value in money from us; for there may be amongst the 
rest some antique or famous piece of workmanship, which Antony 
would be sorry to part with." These anecdotes my grandfather told 
us Philotas used frequently to relate. 

To return to Cleopatra; Plato admits four sorts of flattery, 6 but 
she had a thousand. Were Antony serious or disposed to mirth, she 
had at any moment some new delight or charm to meet his wishes; 
at every turn she was upon him, and let him escape her neither by 
day nor by night. She played at dice with him, drank with him, 
hunted with him; and when he exercised in arms, she was there to 
see. At night she would go rambling with him to disturb and tor- 
ment people at their doors and windows, dressed like a servant- 
woman, for Antony also went in servant's disguise, and from these 
expeditions he often came home very scurvily answered, and some- 
times even beaten severely, though most people guessed who it was. 
However, the Alexandrians in general liked it all well enough, and 
joined good humoredly and kindly in his frolic and play, saying 
they were much obliged to Antony for acting his tragic parts at 
Rome, and keeping his comedy for them. It would be trifling with- 
out end to be particular in his follies, but his fishing must not be 
forgotten. He went out one day to angle with Cleopatra, and, being 
so unfortunate as to catch nothing in the presence of his mistress, he 
gave secret orders to the fishermen to dive under water, and put 
fishes that had been already taken upon his hooks; and these he 
drew so fast that the Egyptian perceived it. But, feigning great ad- 
miration, she told everybody how dexterous Antony was, and in- 
vited them next day to come and see him again. So, when a num- 
ber of them had come on board the fishing boats, as soon as he had 
let down his hook, one of her servants was beforehand with his 
divers, and fixed upon his hook a salted fish from Pontus. Antony, 

* See the Gorgias, chapter 1 9. The four Flatteries are the four Counterfeit Arts, 
which profess to do good to men's bodies and souls, and in reality only gratify their 
pleasures. The legislator's place is thus usurped by the sophist, the false rcasoncr, in 
deliberative assemblies; that of the judge by the rhetorician or pleader; the medical 
adviser is supplanted by the purveyor of luxuries, and the gymnastic teacher by the 
adorner of the person. The four genuine Arts are nomothetic, dicaniC iatrik.c, and 
gymnastike; the four corresponding Flatteries are sophistike, rhetorikji, opsopoiiks. and 

344 plutarch's lives 

feeling his line give, drew up the prey, and when, as may be imag- 
ined, great laughter ensued, "Leave," said Cleopatra, "the fishing- 
rod, general, to us poor sovereigns of Pharos and Canopus; your 
game is cities, provinces, and kingdoms." 

Whilst he was thus diverting himself and engaged in this boys' 
play, two despatches arrived; one from Rome, that his brother Lucius 
and his wife Fulvia, after many quarrels among themselves, had 
joined in war against Carsar, and, having lost all, had fled out of 
Italy; the other bringing little better news, that Labienus, at the 
head of the Parthians, was overrunning Asia, from Euphrates and 
Syria as far as Lydia and Ionia. So, scarcely at last rousing himself 
from sleep, and shaking off the fumes of wine, he set out to attack 
the Parthians, and went as far as Phoenicia; but, upon the receipt of 
lamentable letters from Fulvia, turned his course with two hundred 
ships to Italy. And, in his way, receiving such of his friends as fled 
from Italy, he was given to understand that Fulvia was the sole 
cause of the war, a woman of a restless spirit and very bold, and 
withal her hopes were that commotions in Italy would force Antony 
from Cleopatra. But it happened that Fulvia, as she was coming to 
meet her husband, fell sick by the way, and died at Sicyon, so that 
an accommodation was the more easily made. For when he reached 
Italy, and Carsar showed no intention of laying any thing to his 
charge, and he on his part shifted the blame of every thing on Fulvia, 
those that were friends to them would not surfer that the time should 
be spent in looking narrowly into the plea, but made a reconcili- 
ation first, and then a partition of the empire between them, taking 
as their boundary the Ionian Sea, the eastern provinces falling to 
Antony, to Caesar the western, and Africa being left to Lepidus. And 
an agreement was made, that every one in their turn, as they thought 
fit, should make their friends consuls, when they did not choose to 
take the offices themselves. 

These terms were well approved of, but yet it was thought some 
closer tie would be desirable; and for this, fortune offered occasion. 
Caesar had an elder sister, not of the whole blood, for Attia was his 
mother's name, hers Ancharia. This sister, Octavia, he was ex- 
tremely attached to, as, indeed, she was, it is said, quite a wonder of 
a woman. Her husband, Caius Marcellus, had died not long before, 


and Antony was now a widower by the death of Fulvia; for, though 
he did not disavow the passion he had for Cleopatra, yet he disowned 
any thing of marriage, reason, as yet, upon this point, still maintain- 
ing the debate against the charms of the Egyptian. Everybody con- 
curred in promoting this new alliance, fully expecting that with the 
beauty, honor, and prudence of Octavia, when her company should, 
as it was certain it would, have engaged his affections, all would be 
kept in the safe and happy course of friendship. So, both parties 
being agreed, they went to Rome to celebrate the nuptials, the senate 
dispensing with the law by which a widow was not permitted to 
marry till ten months after the death of her husband. 

Sextus Pompeius was in possession of Sicily, and with his ships, 
under the command of Menas, the pirate, and Menecrates, so in- 
fested the Italian coast, that no vessels durst venture into those seas. 
Sextus had behaved with much humanity towards Antony, having 
received his mother when she fled with Fulvia, and it was therefore 
judged fit that he also should be received into the peace. They met 
near the promontory of Misenum, by the mole of the port, Pompey 
having his fleet at anchor close by, and Antony and Caesar their 
troops drawn up all along the shore. There it was concluded that 
Sextus should quietly enjoy the government of Sicily and Sardinia, 
he conditioning to scour the seas of all pirates, and to send so much 
corn every year to Rome. 

This agreed on, they invited one another to supper, and by lot it 
fell to Pompey's turn to give the first entertainment, and Antony, 
asking where it was to be, "There," said he, pointing to the admiral- 
galley, a ship of six banks of oars, "that is the only house that Pom- 
pey is heir to of his father's." 7 And this he said, reflecting upon 
Antony, who was then in possession of his father's house. Having 
fixed the ship on her anchors, and formed a bridgeway from the 
promontory to conduct on board of her, he gave them a cordial wel- 
come. And when they began to grow warm, and jests were passing 
freely on Antony and Cleopatra's loves, Menas, the pirate, whispered 
Pompey in the ear, "Shall I," said he, "cut the cables, and make you 
master not of Sicily only and Sardinia, but of the whole Roman 

7 "In Carinis," according to Dion Cassius, was the answer. "In the Carina:," which 
might mean either the ships, or the quarter called the Carina:, at Rome, in which 
stood his father's house. 

346 plutarch's lives 

empire?" Pompey, having considered a little while, returned him 
answer, "Menas, this might have been done without acquainting me; 
now we must rest content; I do not break my word." And so, having 
been entertained by the other two in their turns, he set sail for 

After the treaty was completed, Antony despatched Ventidius 
into Asia, to check the advance of the Parthians, while he, as a com- 
pliment to Caesar, accepted the office of priest to the deceased Caesar. 
And in any state affair and matter of consequence, they both be- 
haved themselves with much consideration and friendliness for each 
other. But it annoyed Antony, that in all their amusements, on any 
trial of skill or fortune, Caesar should be constantly victorious. He 
had with him an Egyptian diviner, one of those who calculate nativ- 
ities, who, either to make his court to Cleopatra, or that by the rules 
of his art he found it to be so, openly declared to him, that though 
the fortune that attended him was bright and glorious, yet it was 
overshadowed by Cxsar's; and advised him to keep himself as far 
distant as he could from that young man; "for your Genius," said 
he, "dreads his; when absent from him yours is proud and brave, 
but in his presence unmanly and dejected;" and incidents that oc- 
curred appeared to show that the Egyptian spoke truth. For when- 
ever they cast lots for any playful purpose, or threw dice, Antony 
was still the loser; and repeatedly, when they fought game-cocks 
or quails, Caesar's had the victory. This gave Antony a secret dis- 
pleasure, and made him put the more confidence in the skill of his 
Egyptian. So, leaving the management of his home affairs to 
Caesar, he left Italy, and took Octavia, who had lately borne him a 
daughter, along with him into Greece. 

Here, whilst he wintered in Athens, he received the first news of 
Ventidius's successes over the Parthians, of his having defeated 
them in a battle, having slain Labienus and Pharnapates, the best 
general their king, Hyrodes, possessed. For the celebrating of which 
he made a public feast through Greece, and for the prizes which 
were contested at Athens he himself acted as steward, and, leaving 
at home the ensigns that are carried before the general, he made his 
public appearance in a gown and white shoes, with the steward's 
wands marching before; and he performed his duty in taking the 


combatants by the neck, to part them, when they had fought enough. 
When the time came for him to set out for the war, he took a 
garland from the sacred olive, and, in obedience to some oracle, he 
filled a vessel with the water of the Clepsydra, 8 to carry along with 
him. In this interval, Pacorus, the Parthian king's son, who was 
marching into Syria with a large army, was met by Ventidius, who 
gave him battle in the country of Cyrrhestica, slew a large number 
of his men, and Pacorus among the first. This victory was one of the 
most renowned achievements of the Romans, and fully avenged their 
defeats under Crassus, the Parthians being obliged, after the loss of 
three battles successively, to keep themselves within the bounds of 
Media and Mesopotamia. Ventidius was not willing to push his 
good fortune further, for fear of raising some jealousy in Antony, 
but, turning his arms against those that had quitted the Roman 
interest, he reduced them to their former obedience. Among the rest, 
he besieged Antiochus, king of Commagene, in the city of Samosata, 
who made an offer of a thousand talents for his pardon, and a 
promise of submission to Antony's commands. But Ventidius told 
him that he must send to Antony, who was already on his march, 
and had sent word to Ventidius to make no terms with Antiochus, 
wishing that at any rate this one exploit might be ascribed to him, 
and that people might not think that all his successes were won by 
his lieutenants. The siege, however, was long protracted; for when 
those within found their offers refused, they defended themselves 
stoutly, till, at last, Antony, finding he was doing nothing, in shame 
and regret for having refused the first offer, was glad to make an 
accommodation with Antiochus for three hundred talents. And, 
having given some orders for the affairs of Syria, he returned to 
Athens; and, paying Ventidius the honors he well deserved, dis- 
missed him to receive his triumph. He is the only man that has 
ever yet triumphed for victories obtained over the Parthians; he 
was of obscure birth, but, by means of Antony's friendship, obtained 
an opportunity of showing his capacity, and doing great things; and 
his making such glorious use of it gave new credit to the current 
observation about Qesar and Antony, that they were more fortu- 

1 The Clepsydra was a sacred spring, still to be found, inclosed in a chapel in the 
rock, on the north side of the Acropolis, near the cave of Apollo and Pan. 

348 plutarch's lives 

nate in what they did by their lieutenants than in their own per- 
sons. For Sossius, also, had great success, and Canidius, whom he 
left in Armenia, defeated the people there, and also the kings of 
the Albanians and Iberians, and marched victorious as far as Cau- 
casus, by which means the fame of Antony's arms had become great 
among the barbarous nations. 

He, however, once more, upon some unfavorable stories, taking 
offence against Caesar, set sail with three hundred ships for Italy, 
and, being refused admittance to the port of Brundusium, made for 
Tarentum. There his wife Octavia, who came from Greece with 
him, obtained leave to visit her brother, she being then great with 
child, having already borne her husband a second daughter; and as 
she was on her way, she met Caesar, with his two friends Agrippa 
and Maecenas, and, taking these two aside, with great entreaties 
and lamentations she told them, that of the most fortunate woman 
upon earth, she was in danger of becoming the most unhappy; for 
as yet every one's eyes were fixed upon her as the wife and sister of 
the two great commanders, but, if rash counsels should prevail, and 
war ensue, "I shall be miserable," said she, "without redress; for on 
what side soever victory falls, I shall be sure to be a loser." Caesar was 
overcome by these entreaties, and advanced in a peaceable temper 
to Tarentum, where those that were present beheld a most stately 
spectacle; a vast army drawn up by the shore, and as great a fleet 
in the harbor, all without the occurrence of any act of hostility; 
nothing but the salutations of friends, and other expressions of joy 
and kindness, passing from one armament to the other. Antony first 
entertained Caesar, this also being a concession on Caesar's part to 
his sister; and when at length an agreement was made between 
them, that Caesar should give Antony two of his legions to serve 
him in the Parthian war, and that Antony should in return leave 
with him a hundred armed galleys, Octavia further obtained of her 
husband, besides this, twenty light ships for her brother, and 
of her brother, a thousand foot for her husband. So, having parted 
good friends, Caesar went immediately to make war with Pompey 
to conquer Sicily. And Antony, leaving in Caesar's charge his wife 
and children, and his children by his former wife Fulvia, set sail 
for Asia. 


But the mischief that thus long had lain still, the passion for 
Cleopatra, which better thoughts had seemed to have lulled and 
charmed into oblivion, upon his approach to Syria, gathered strength 
again, and broke out into a flame. And, in fine, like Plato's restive 
and rebellious horse of the human soul, 9 flinging off all good and 
wholesome counsel, and breaking fairly loose, he sends Fonteius 
Capito to bring Cleopatra into Syria. To whom at her arrival he 
made no small or trifling present, Phoenicia, Coele-Syria, Cyprus, 
great part of Cilicia, that side of Judara which produces balm, that 
part of Arabia where the Nabatharans extend to the outer sea; pro- 
fuse gifts, which much displeased the Romans. For, although he 
had invested several private persons in great governments and king- 
doms, and bereaved many kings of theirs, as Antigonus of Judaea, 
whose head he caused to be struck off (the first example of that 
punishment being inflicted on a king), yet nothing stung the 
Romans like the shame of these honors paid to Cleopatra. Their dis- 
satisfaction was augmented also by his acknowledging as his own 
the twin children he had by her, giving them the name of Alex- 
ander and Cleopatra, and adding, as their surnames, the titles of 
Sun and Moon. But he, who knew how to put a good color on 
the most dishonest action, would say, that the greatness of the 
Roman empire consisted more in giving than in taking kingdoms, 
and that the way to carry noble blood through the world was by 
begetting in every place a new line and series of kings; his own 
ancestor had thus been born of Hercules; Hercules had not limited 
his hopes of progeny to a single womb, nor feared any law like 
Solon's, or any audit of procreation, but had freely let nature take 
her will in the foundation and first commencement of many families. 

After Phraates had killed his father Hyrodes, and taken posses- 
sion of his kingdom, many of the Parthians left their country; 
among the rest, Monacses, a man of great distinction and authority, 
sought refuge with Antony, who, looking on his case as similar to 
that of Themistocles, and likening his own opulence and magnanim- 

•The soul of man has in it a driver and two horses, the one strong and willing, 
quick to obey, and eager for applause and for honorable praise; the other unruly and 
ill-conditioned, greedy and violent, whom only flogging and the goad can control. Do 
what the driver within us will, our better horse may be seduced at times from his 
duty, his evil yoke-fellow may obtain the mastery, and bear away all to destruction. 


ity to those of the former Persian kings, gave him three cities, 
Larissa, Arethusa, and Hierapolis, which was formerly called Bam- 
byce. But when the king of Parthia soon recalled him, giving him 
his word and honor for his safety, Antony was not unwilling to give 
him leave to return, hoping thereby to surprise Phraates, who would 
believe that peace would continue; for he only made the demand of 
him, that he should send back the Roman ensigns which were taken 
when Crassus was slain, and the prisoners that remained yet alive. 
This done, he sent Cleopatra into Egypt, and marched through 
Arabia and Armenia; and, when his forces came together, and were 
joined by those of his confederate kings (of whom there were very 
many, and the most considerable, Artavasdes, king of Armenia, 
who came at the head of six thousand horse and seven thousand 
foot), he made a general muster. There appeared sixty thousand 
Roman foot, ten thousand horse, Spaniards and Gauls, who counted 
as Romans; and, of other nations, horse and foot, thirty thousand. 
And these great preparations, that put the Indians beyond Bactria 
into alarm, and made all Asia shake, were all, we are told, rendered 
useless to him because of Cleopatra. For, in order to pass the winter 
with her, the war was pushed on before its due time; and all he did 
was done without perfect consideration, as by a man who had no 
proper control over his faculties, who, under the effects of some drug 
or magic, was still looking back elsewhere, and whose object was 
much more to hasten his return than to conquer his enemies. 

For, first of all, when he should have taken up his winter-quarters 
in Armenia, to refresh his men, who were tired with long marches, 
having come at least eight thousand furlongs, and then have taken 
the advantage in the beginning of the spring to invade Media, before 
the Parthians were out of winter-quarters, he had not patience to 
expect his time, but marched into the province of Atropatene, leaving 
Armenia on the left hand, and laid waste all that country. Secondly, 
his haste was so great, that he left behind the engines absolutely 
required for any siege, which followed the camp in three hundred 
wagons, and, among the rest, a ram eighty feet long; none of which 
was it possible, if lost or damaged, to repair or to make the like, as 
the provinces of the upper Asia produce no trees long or hard 
enough for such uses. Nevertheless, he left them all behind, as a 


mere impediment to his speed, in the charge of a detachment under 
the command of Statianus, the wagon-officer. He himself laid siege 
to Phraata, a principal city of the king of Media, wherein were that 
king's wife and children. And when actual need proved the great- 
ness of his error in leaving the siege train behind him, he had noth- 
ing for it but to come up and raise a mound against the walls, with 
infinite labor and great loss of time. Meantime Phraates, coming 
down with a large army, and hearing that the wagons were left 
behind with the battering engines, sent a strong party of horse, by 
which Statianus was surprised, he himself and ten thousand of his 
men slain, the engines all broken in pieces, many taken prisoners, 
and, among the rest, king Polemon. 

This great miscarriage in the opening of the campaign much 
discouraged Antony's army, and Artavasdes, king of Armenia, 
deciding that the Roman prospects were bad, withdrew with all his 
forces from the camp, although he had been the chief promoter of 
the war. The Parthians, encouraged by their success, came up to 
the Romans at the siege, and gave them many affronts; upon which 
Antony, fearing that the despondency and alarm of his soldiers 
would only grow worse if he let them lie idle, taking all the horse, 
ten legions, and three prauorian cohorts of heavy infantry, resolved 
to go out and forage, designing by this means to draw the enemy 
with more advantage to a battle. To effect this, he marched a day's 
journey from his camp, and, finding the Parthians hovering about, 
in readiness to attack him while he was in motion, he gave orders 
for the signal of battle to be hung out in the encampment, but, at 
the same time, pulled down the tents, as if he meant not to fight, 
but to lead his men home again; and so he proceeded to lead them 
past the enemy, who were drawn up in a half-moon, his orders being 
that the horse should charge as soon as the legions were come up 
near enough to second them. The Parthians, standing still while 
the Romans marched by them, were in great admiration of their 
army, and of the exact discipline it observed, rank after rank passing 
on at equal distances in perfect order and silence, their pikes all 
ready in their hands. But when the signal was given, and the horse 
turned short upon the Parthians, and with loud cries charged them, 
they bravely received them, though they were at once too near for 

352 plutarch's lives 

bowshot; but the legions, coming up with loud shouts and rattling 
of their arms, so frightened their horses and indeed the men them- 
selves, that they kept their ground no longer. Antony pressed them 
hard, in great hopes that this victory should put an end to the war; 
the foot had them in pursuit for fifty furlongs, and the horse for 
thrice that distance, and yet, the advantage summed up, they had but 
thirty prisoners, and there were but fourscore slain. So that they 
were all filled with dejection and discouragement, to consider, that 
when they were victorious, their advantage was so small, and that 
when they were beaten, they lost so great a number of men as they 
had done when the carriages were taken. 

The next day, having put the baggage in order, they marched 
back to the camp before Phraata, in the way meeting with some 
scattering troops of the enemy, and, as they marched further, with 
greater parties, at length with the body of the enemy's army, fresh 
and in good order, who defied them to battle, and charged them on 
every side, and it was not without great difficulty that they reached 
the camp. There Antony, finding that his men had in a panic 
deserted the defence of the mound, upon a sally of the Medes, re- 
solved to proceed against them by decimation, as it is called, which 
is done by dividing the soldiers into tens, and, out of every ten, put- 
ting one to death, as it happens by lot. The rest he gave orders should 
have, instead of wheat, their rations of corn and barley. 

The war was now become grievous to both parties, and the pros- 
pect of its continuance yet more fearful to Antony, in respect that 
he was threatened with famine; for he could no longer forage with- 
out wounds and slaughter. And Phraates, on the other side, was 
full of apprehension that, if the Romans were to persist in carrying 
on the siege, the autumnal equinox being past and the air already 
closing in for cold, he should be deserted by his soldiers, who would 
suffer any thing rather than wintering in open field. To prevent 
which, he had recourse to the following deceit: he gave orders to 
those of his men who had made most acquaintance among the 
Roman soldiers, not to pursue too close when they met them for- 
aging, but to suffer them to carry off some provision; moreover, 
that they should praise their valor, and declare that it was not with- 
out just reason that their king looked upon the Romans as the 


bravest men in the world. This done, upon further opportunity 
they rode nearer in, and, drawing up their horses by the men, began 
to revile Antony for his obstinacy; that whereas Phraates desired 
nothing more than peace, and an occasion to show how ready he was 
to save the lives of so many brave soldiers, he, on the contrary, gave 
no opening to any friendly offers, but sat awaiting the arrival of the 
two fiercest and worst enemies, winter and famine, from whom it 
would be hard for them to make their escape, even with all the 
good-will of the Parthians to help them. Antony, having these re- 
ports from many hands, began to indulge the hope; nevertheless, he 
would not send any message to the Parthian till he had put the 
question to these friendly talkers, whether what they said was said 
by orders of their king. Receiving answer that it was, together 
with new encouragement to believe them, he sent some of his friends 
to demand once more the standards and prisoners, lest, if he should 
ask nothing, he might be supposed to be too thankful to have leave 
to retreat in quiet. The Parthian king made answer, that as for 
the standards and prisoners, he need not trouble himself; but if he 
thought fit to retreat, he might do it when he pleased, in peace and 
safety. Some few days, therefore, being spent in collecting the bag- 
gage, he set out upon his march. On which occasion, though there 
was no man of his time like him for addressing a multitude, or 
for carrying soldiers with him by the force of words, out of shame 
and sadness he could not find in his heart to speak himself, but 
employed Domitius jEnobarbus. And some of the soldiers resented 
it, as an undervaluing of them; but the greater number saw the 
true cause, and pitied it, and thought it rather a reason why they 
on their side should treat their general with more respect and 
obedience than ordinary. 

Antony had resolved to return by the same way he came, which 
was through a level country clear of all trees; but a certain Mardian 
came to him (one that was very conversant with the manners of the 
Parthians, and whose fidelity to the Romans had been tried at the 
battle where the machines were lost), and advised him to keep the 
mountains close on his right hand, and not to expose his men, 
heavily armed, in a broad, open, riding country, to the attacks of a 
numerous army of light-horse and archers; that Phraates with fair 

354 plutarch's lives 

promises had persuaded him from the siege on purpose that he 
might with more ease cut him off in his retreat; but, if so he pleased, 
he would conduct him by a nearer route, on which moreover he 
should find the necessaries for his army in greater abundance. 
Antony upon this began to consider what was best to be done; he 
was unwilling to seem to have any mistrust of the Parthians after 
their treaty; but, holding it to be really best to march his army the 
shorter and more inhabited way, he demanded of the Mardian some 
assurance of his faith, who offered himself to be bound until the 
army came safe into Armenia. Two days he conducted the army 
bound, and, on the third, when Antony had given up all thought 
of the enemy, and was marching at his ease in no very good order, 
the Mardian, perceiving the bank of a river broken down, and the 
water let out and overflowing the road by which they were to pass, 
saw at once that this was the handiwork of the Parthians, done out 
of mischief, and to hinder their march; so he advised Antony to 
be upon his guard, for that the enemy was nigh at hand. And no 
sooner had he begun to put his men in order, disposing the slingers 
and dart-men in convenient intervals for sallying out, but the Parthi- 
ans came pouring in on all sides, fully expecting to encompass them, 
and throw the whole army into disorder. They were at once at- 
tacked by the light troops, whom they galled a good deal with their 
arrows; but, being themselves as warmly entertained with the slings 
and darts, and many wounded, they made their retreat. Soon after, 
rallying up afresh, they were beat back by a battalion of Gallic horse, 
and appeared no more that day. 

By their manner of attack Antony seeing what to do, not only 
placed the slings and darts as a rear guard, but also lined both 
flanks with them, and so marched in a square battle, giving order 
to the horse to charge and beat off the enemy, but not to follow them 
far as they retired. So that the Parthians, not doing more mischief 
for the four ensuing days than they received, began to abate in their 
zeal, and, complaining that the winter season was much advanced, 
pressed for returning home. 

But, on the fifth day, Flavius Gallus, a brave and active officer, 
who had a considerable command in the army, came to Antony, 
desiring of him some light-infantry out of the rear, and some horse 


out of the front, with which he would undertake to do some con- 
siderable service. Which when he had obtained, he beat the enemy 
back, not withdrawing, as was usual, at the same time, and retreat- 
ing upon the mass of the heavy infantry, but maintaining his own 
ground, and engaging boldly. The officers who commanded in the 
rear, perceiving how far he was getting from the body of the army, 
sent to warn him back, but he took no notice of them. It is said 
that Titius the quxstor snatched the standards and turned them 
round, upbraiding Gallus with thus leading so many brave men to 
destruction. But when he on the other side reviled him again, and 
commanded the men that were about him to stand firm, Titius 
made his retreat, and Gallus, charging the enemies in the front, 
was encompassed by a party that fell upon his rear, which at length 
perceiving, he sent a messenger to demand succor. But the com- 
manders of the heavy infantry, Canidius amongst others, a particu- 
lar favorite of Antony's, seem here to have committed a great over- 
sight. For, instead of facing about with the whole body, they sent 
small parties, and, when they were defeated, they still sent out small 
parties, so that by their bad management the rout would have spread 
through the whole army, if Antony himself had not marched from 
the van at the head of the third legion, and, passing this through 
among the fugitives, faced the enemies, and hindered them from any 
further pursuit. 

In this engagement were killed three thousand, five thousand 
were carried back to the camp wounded, amongst the rest Gallus, 
shot through the body with four arrows, of which wounds he died. 
Antony went from tent to tent to visit and comfort the rest of them, 
and was not able to see his men without tears and a passion of grief. 
They, however, seized his hand with joyful faces, bidding him go 
and see to himself and not be concerned about them, calling him 
their emperor and their general, and saying that if he did well they 
were safe. For in short, never in all these times can history make 
mention of a general at the head of a more splendid army; whether 
you consider strength and youth, or patience and sufferance in labors 
and fatigues; but as for the obedience and affectionate respect they 
bore their general, and the unanimous feeling amongst small and 
great alike, officers and common soldiers, to prefer his good opinion 

356 plutarch's lives 

of them to their very lives and being, in this part of military excel- 
lence it was not possible that they could have been surpassed by the 
very Romans of old. For this devotion, as I have said before, there 
were many reasons, as the nobility of his family, his eloquence, his 
frank and open manners, his liberal and magnificent habits, his 
familiarity in talking with everybody, and, at this time particularly, 
his kindness in assisting and pitying the sick, joining in all their 
pains, and furnishing them with all things necessary, so that the sick 
and wounded were even more eager to serve than those that were 
whole and strong. 

Nevertheless, this last victory had so encouraged the enemy, that, 
instead of their former impatience and weariness, they began soon 
to feel contempt for the Romans, staying all night near the camp, 
in expectation of plundering their tents and baggage, which they 
concluded they must abandon; and in the morning new forces 
arrived in large masses, so that their number was grown to be not 
less, it is said, than forty thousand horse; and the king had sent 
the very guards that attended upon his own person, as to a sure and 
unquestioned victory. For he himself was never present in any fight. 
Antony, designing to harangue the soldiers, called for a mourning 
habit, that he might move them the more, but was dissuaded by his 
friends; so he came forward in the general's scarlet cloak, and ad- 
dressed them, praising those that had gained the victory, and 
reproaching those that had fled, the former answering him with 
promises of success, and the latter excusing themselves, and telling 
him they were ready to undergo decimation, or any other punish- 
ment he should please to inflict upon them, only entreating that he 
would forget and not discompose himself with their faults. At 
which he lifted up his hands to heaven, and prayed the gods, that 
if to balance the great favors he had received of them any judgment 
lay in store, they would pour it upon his head alone, and grant his 
soldiers victory. 

The next day they took better order for their march, and the 
Parthians, who thought they were marching rather to plunder than 
to fight, were much taken aback, when they came up and were re- 
ceived with a shower of missiles, to find the enemy not disheartened, 
but fresh and resolute. So that they themselves began to lose courage. 


But at the descent of a hill where the Romans were obliged to pass, 
they got together, and let fly their arrows upon them as they moved 
slowly down. But the full-armed infantry, facing round, received 
the light troops within; and those in the first rank knelt on one 
knee, holding their shields before them, the next rank holding theirs 
over the first, and so again others over these, much like the tiling 
of a house, or the rows of seats in a theatre, the whole affording 
sure defence against arrows, which glance upon them without doing 
any harm. The Parthians, seeing the Romans down upon their 
knees, could not imagine but that it must proceed from weariness; 
so that they laid down their bows, and taking their spears, made 
a fierce onset, when the Romans, with a great cry, leapt upon their 
feet, striking hand to hand with their javelins, slew the foremost, and 
put the rest to flight. After this rate it was every day, and the trouble 
they gave made the marches short; in addition to which famine 
began to be felt in the camp, for they could get but little corn, and 
that which they got they were forced to fight for; and, besides this, 
they were in want of implements to grind it and make bread. For 
they had left almost all behind, the baggage horses being dead or 
otherwise employed in carrying the sick and wounded. Provision 
was so scarce in the army that an Attic quart of wheat sold for fifty 
drachmas, and barley loaves for their weight in silver. And when 
they tried vegetables and roots, they found such as are commonly 
eaten very scarce, so that they were constrained to venture upon 
any they could get, and, among others, they chanced upon an herb 
that was mortal, first taking away all sense, and understanding. He 
that had eaten of it remembered nothing in the world, and employed 
himself only in moving great stones from one place to another, 
which he did with as much earnestness and industry as if it had been 
a business of the greatest consequence. Through all the camp there 
was nothing to be seen but men grubbing upon the ground at 
stones, which they carried from place to place. But in the end they 
threw up bile and died, as wine, moreover, which was the one anti- 
dote, failed. When Antony saw them die so fast, and the Parthian 
still in pursuit, he was heard to exclaim several times over, "O, the 
Ten Thousand!" as if in admiration of the retreat of the Greeks 
with Xenophon, who, when they had a longer journey to make from 

358 plutarch's lives 

Babylonia, and a more powerful enemy to deal with, nevertheless 
came home safe. 

The Parthians, finding that they could not divide the Roman 
army, nor break the order of their battle, and that withal they had 
been so often worsted, once more began to treat the foragers with 
professions of humanity; they came up to them with their bows 
unbended, telling them that they were going home to their houses; 
that this was the end of their retaliation, and that only some Median 
troops would follow for two or three days, not with any design to 
annoy them, but for the defence of some of the villages further on. 
And, saying this, they saluted them and embraced them with a 
great show of friendship. This made the Romans full of confidence 
again, and Antony, on hearing of it, was more disposed to take the 
road through the level country, being told that no water was to be 
hoped for on that through the mountains. But while he was pre- 
paring thus to do, Mithridates came into the camp, a cousin to 
Monxses, of whom we related that he sought refuge with the Ro- 
mans, and received in gift from Antony the three cities. Upon his 
arrival, he desired somebody might be brought to him that could 
speak Syriac or Parthian. One Alexander, of Antioch, a friend of 
Antony's was brought to him, to whom the stranger, giving his 
name, and mentioning Mona?ses as the person who desired to do 
the kindness, put the question, did he see that high range of hills, 
pointing at some distance. He told him yes. "It is there," said he, 
"the whole Parthian army lie in wait for your passage; for the great 
plains come immediately up to them, and they expect that, confiding 
in their promises, you will leave the way of the mountains, and take 
the level route. It is true that in passing over the mountains you 
will suffer the want of water, and the fatigue to which you have 
become familiar, but if you pass through the plains, Antony must 
expect the fortune of Crassus." 

This said, he departed. Antony, in alarm, calling his friends in 
council, sent for the Mardian guide, who was of the same opinion. 
He told them that, with or without enemies, the want of any certain 
track in the plain, and the likelihood of their losing their way, were 
quite objection enough; the other route was rough and without 
water, but then it was but for a day. Antony, therefore, changing 


his mind, marched away upon this road that night, commanding 
that every one should carry water sufficient for his own use; but 
most of them being unprovided with vessels, they made shift with 
their helmets, and some with skins. As soon as they started, the 
news of it was carried to the Parthians, who followed them, con- 
trary to their custom, through the night, and at sunrise attacked 
the rear, which was tired with marching and want of sleep, and not 
in condition to make any considerable defence. For they had got 
through two hundred and forty furlongs that night, and at the end 
of such a march to find the enemy at their heels, put them out of 
heart. Besides, having to fight for every step of the way increased 
their distress from thirst. Those that were in the van came up to a 
river, the water of which was extremely cool and clear, but brackish 
and medicinal, and, on being drunk, produced immediate pains in 
the bowels and a renewed thirst. Of this the Mardian had fore- 
warned them, but they could not forbear, and, beating back those 
that opposed them, they drank of it. Antony ran from one place 
to another, begging they would have a litde patience, that not far 
off there was a river of wholesome water, and that the rest of the 
way was so difficult for the horse, that the enemy could pursue them 
no further; and, saying this, he ordered to sound a retreat to call 
those back that were engaged, and commanded the tents should be 
set up, that the soldiers might at any rate refresh themselves in 
the shade. 

But the tents were scarce well put up, and the Parthians begin- 
ning, according to their custom, to withdraw, when Mithridates 
came again to them, and informed Alexander, with whom he had 
before spoken, that he would do well to advise Antony to stay where 
he was no longer than needs he must, that, after having refreshed 
his troops, he should endeavor with all diligence to gain the next 
river, that the Parthians would not cross it, but so far they were 
resolved to follow them. Alexander made his report to Antony, who 
ordered a quantity of gold plate to be carried to Mithridates, who, 
taking as much as he could well hide under his clothes, went his 
way. And, upon this advice, Antony, while it was yet day, broke 
up his camp, and the whole army marched forward without receiv- 
ing any molestation from the Parthians, though that night by their 

360 plutarch's lives 

own doing was in effect the most wretched and terrible that they 
passed. For some of the men began to kill and plunder those whom 
they suspected to have any money, ransacked the baggage, and 
seized the money there. In the end, they laid hands on Antony's 
own equipage, and broke all his rich tables and cups, dividing the 
fragments amongst them. Antony, hearing such a noise and such 
a stirring to and fro all through the army, the belief prevailing that 
the enemy had routed and cut off a portion of the troops, called 
for one of his freedmen, then serving as one of his guards, Rhamnus 
by name, and made him take an oath that, whenever he should give 
him orders, he would run his sword through his body and cut off 
his head, that he might not fall alive into the hands of the Parthians, 
nor, when dead, be recognized as the general. While he was in this 
consternation, and all his friends about him in tears, the Mardian 
came up, and gave them all new life. He convinced them, by the 
coolness and humidity of the air, which they could feel in breathing 
it, that the river which he had spoken of was now not far off, and 
the calculation of the time that had been required to reach it came, 
he said, to the same result, for the night was almost spent. And, 
at the same time, others came with information that all the con- 
fusion in the camp proceeded only from their own violence and 
robbery among themselves. To compose this tumult, and bring 
them again into some order after their distraction, he commanded 
the signal to be given for a halt. 

Day began to break, and quiet and regularity were just reappear- 
ing, when the Parthian arrows began to fly among the rear, and 
the light armed troops were ordered out to battle. And, being sec- 
onded by the heavy infantry, who covered one another as before 
described with their shields, they bravely received the enemy, who 
did not think convenient to advance any further, while the van of 
the army, marching forward leisurely in this manner came in sight 
of the river, and Antony, drawing up the cavalry on the banks to 
confront the enemy, first passed over the sick and wounded. And, 
by this time, even those who were engaged with the enemy had 
opportunity to drink at their ease; for the Parthians, on seeing the 
river, unbent their bows, and told the Romans they might pass 


over freely, and made them great compliments in praise of their 
valor. Having crossed without molestation, they rested themselves 
awhile, and presently went forward, not giving perfect credit to the 
fair words of their enemies. Six days after this last battle, they 
arrived at the river Araxes, which divides Media and Armenia, and 
seemed, both by its deepness and the violence of the current, to be 
very dangerous to pass. A report, also, had crept in amongst them, 
that the enemy was in ambush, ready to set upon them as soon as 
they should be occupied with their passage. But when they were got 
over on the other side, and found themselves in Armenia, just as if 
land was now sighted after a storm at sea, they kissed the ground 
for joy, shedding tears and embracing each other in their delight. 
But taking their journey through a land that abounded in all sorts 
of plenty, they ate, after their long want, with that excess of every 
thing they met with, that they suffered from dropsies and dysen- 

Here Antony, making a review of his army, found that he had lost 
twenty thousand foot and four thousand horse, of which the better 
half perished, not by the enemy, but by diseases. Their march was 
of twenty-seven days from Phraata, during which they had beaten 
the Parthians in eighteen batdes, though with little effect or lasting 
result, because of their being so unable to pursue. By which it is 
manifest that it was Artavasdes who lost Antony the benefit of the 
expedition. For had the sixteen thousand horsemen whom he led 
away out of Media, armed in the same style as the Parthians and 
accustomed to their manner of fight, been there to follow the pursuit 
when the Romans put them to flight, it is impossible they could have 
rallied so often after their defeats, and reappeared again as they 
did to renew their attacks. For this reason, the whole army was very 
earnest with Antony to march into Armenia to take revenge. But 
he, with more reflection, forbore to notice the desertion, and con- 
tinued all his former courtesies, feeling that the army was wearied 
out, and in want of all manner of necessaries. Afterwards, however, 
entering Armenia, with invitations and fair promises he prevailed 
upon Artavasdes to meet him, when he seized him, bound him, and 
carried him to Alexandria, and there led him in a triumph; one of 

362 plutarch's lives 

the things which most offended the Romans, who felt as if all the 
honors and solemn observances of their country were, for Cleo- 
patra's sake, handed over to the Egyptians. 

This, however, was at an after time. For the present, marching 
his army in great haste in the depth of winter through continual 
storms of snow, he lost eight thousand of his men, and came with 
much diminished numbers to a place called the White Village, 
between Sidon and Berytus, on the sea-coast, where he waited for 
the arrival of Cleopatra. And, being impatient of the delay she made, 
he bethought himself of shortening the time in wine and drunk- 
enness, and yet could not endure the tediousness of a meal, but 
would start from table and run to see if she were coming. Till at 
last she came into port, and brought with her clothes and money 
for the soldiers. Though some say that Antony only received the 
clothes from her and distributed his own money in her name. 

A quarrel presently happened between the king of Media and 
Phraates of Parthia, beginning, it is said, about the division of the 
booty that was taken from the Romans, and creating great appre- 
hension in the Median lest he should lose his kingdom. He sent, 
therefore, ambassadors to Antony, with offers of entering into a 
confederate war against Phraates. And Antony, full of hopes at 
being thus asked, as a favor, to accept that one thing, horse and 
archers, the want of which had hindered his beating the Parthians 
before, began at once to prepare for a return to Armenia, there to 
join the Medes on the Araxes, and begin the war afresh. But Oc- 
tavia, in Rome, being desirous to see Antony, asked Caesar's leave to 
go to him; which he gave her, not so much, say most authors, to 
gratify his sister, as to obtain a fair pretence to begin the war upon 
her dishonorable reception. She no sooner arrived at Athens, but by 
letters from Antony she was informed of his new expedition, and his 
will that she should await him there. And, though she were much 
displeased, not being ignorant of the real reason of this usage, yet 
she wrote to him to know to what place he would be pleased she 
should send the things she had brought with her for his use; for 
she had brought clothes for his soldiers, baggage, catde, money, and 
presents for his friends and officers, and two thousand chosen sol- 
diers sumptuously armed, to form praetorian cohorts. This message 


was brought from Octavia to Antony by Niger, one of his friends, 
who added to it the praises she deserved so well. Cleopatra, feeling 
her rival already, as it were, at hand, was seized with fear, lest if 
to her noble life and her high alliance, she once could add the charm 
of daily habit and affectionate intercourse, she should become irre- 
sistible, and be his absolute mistress for ever. So she feigned to be 
dying for love of Antony, bringing her body down by slender diet; 
when he entered the room, she fixed her eyes upon him in a rapture, 
and when he left, seemed to languish and half faint away. She took 
great pains that he should see her in tears, and, as soon as he noticed 
it, hastily dried them up and turned away, as if it were her wish 
that he should know nothing of it. All this was acting while he 
prepared for Media; and Cleopatra's creatures were not slow to 
forward the design, upbraiding Antony with his unfeeling, hard- 
hearted temper, thus letting a woman perish whose soul depended 
upon him and him alone. Octavia, it was true, was his wife, and had 
been married to him because it was found convenient for the affairs 
of her brother that it should be so, and she had the honor of the 
title; but Cleopatra, the sovereign queen of many nations, had been 
contented with the name of his mistress, nor did she shun or despise 
the character whilst she might see him, might live with him, and 
enjoy him; if she were bereaved of this, she would not survive the 
loss. In fine, they so melted and unmanned him, that, fully believ- 
ing she would die if he forsook her, he put of? the war and returned 
to Alexandria, deferring his Median expedition until next summer, 
though news came of the Parthians being all in confusion with 
intestine disputes. Nevertheless, he did some time after go into that 
country, and made an alliance with the king of Media, by marriage 
of a son of his by Cleopatra to the king's daughter, who was yet 
very young; and so returned, with his thoughts taken up about 
the civil war. 

When Octavia returned from Athens, Caesar, who considered she 
had been injuriously treated, commanded her to live in a separate 
house; but she refused to leave the house of her husband, and en- 
treated him, unless he had already resolved, upon other motives, 
to make war with Antony, that he would on her account let it alone; 
it would be intolerable to have it said of the two greatest commanders 

364 plutarch's lives 

in the world, that they had involved the Roman people in a civil 
war, the one out of passion for, the other out of resentment about, a 
woman. And her behavior proved her words to be sincere. She 
remained in Antony's house as if he were at home in it, and took 
the noblest and most generous care, not only of his children by her, 
but of those by Fulvia also. She received all the friends of Antony 
that came to Rome to seek office or upon any business, and did her 
utmost to prefer their requests to Caesar; yet this her honorable 
deportment did but, without her meaning it, damage the reputa- 
tion of Antony; the wrong he did to such a woman made him hated. 
Nor was the division he made among his sons at Alexandria less 
unpopular; it seemed a theatrical piece of insolence and contempt 
of his country. For, assembling the people in the exercise ground, 
and causing two golden thrones to be placed on a platform of silver, 
the one for him and the other for Cleopatra, and at their feet lower 
thrones for their children, he proclaimed Cleopatra queen of Egypt, 
Cyprus, Libya, and Ccele-Syria, and with her conjointly Carsarion, 
the reputed son of the former Ca?sar, who left Cleopatra with child. 
His own sons by Cleopatra were to have the style of kings of kings; 
to Alexander he gave Armenia and Media, with Parthia, so soon 
as it should be overcome; to Ptolemy, Phoenicia, Syria, and Cilicia. 
Alexander was brought out before the people in the Median cos- 
tume, the tiara and upright peak, and Ptolemy, in boots and mantle 
and Macedonian cap done about with the diadem; for this was the 
habit of the successors of Alexander, as the other was of the Medes 
and Armenians. And, as soon as they had saluted their parents, the 
one was received by a guard of Macedonians, the other by one of 
Armenians. Cleopatra was then, as at other times when she ap- 
peared in public, dressed in the habit of the goddess Isis, and gave 
audience to the people under the name of the New Isis. 

Caesar, relating these things in the senate, and often complaining 
to the people, excited men's minds against Antony. And Antony 
also sent messages of accusation against Caesar. The principal of 
his charges were these: first, that he had not made any division with 
him of Sicily, which was lately taken from Pompey; secondly, that 
he had retained the ships he had lent him for the war; thirdly, that 
after deposing Lepidus, their colleague, he had taken for himself 


the army, governments, and revenues formerly appropriated to him; 
and, lastly, that he had parcelled out almost all Italy amongst his 
own soldiers, and left nothing for his. Caesar's answer was as fol- 
lows: that he had put Lepidus out of government because of his 
own misconduct; that what he had got in war he would divide 
with Antony, so soon as Antony gave him a share of Armenia; that 
Antony's soldiers had no claims in Italy, being in possession of 
Media and Parthia, the acquisitions which their brave actions under 
their general had added to the Roman empire. 

Antony was in Armenia when this answer came to him, and im- 
mediately sent Canidius with sixteen legions towards the sea; but 
he, in the company of Cleopatra, went to Ephesus, whither ships 
were coming in from all quarters to form the navy, consisting, ves- 
sels of burden included, of eight hundred vessels, of which Cleo- 
patra furnished two hundred, together with twenty thousand talents, 
and provision for the whole army during the war. Antony, on the 
advice of Domitius and some others, bade Cleopatra return into 
Egypt, there to expect the event of the war; but she, dreading some 
new reconciliation by Octavia's means, prevailed with Canidius, by 
a large sum of money, to speak in her favor with Antony, pointing 
out to him that it was not just that one that bore so great a part 
in the charge of the war should be robbed of her share of glory in 
the carrying it on; nor would it be politic to disoblige the Egyptians, 
who were so considerable a part of his naval forces; nor did he see 
how she was inferior in prudence to any one of the kings that were 
serving with him; she had long governed a great kingdom by her- 
self alone, and long lived with him, and gained experience in public 
affairs. These arguments (so the fate that destined all to Caesar 
would have it), prevailed; and when all their forces had met, they 
sailed together to Samos, and held high festivities. For, as it was 
ordered that all kings, princes, and governors, all nations and cities 
within the limits of Syria, the Maeotid Lake, Armenia, and Illyria, 
should bring or cause to be brought all munitions necessary for war, 
so was it also proclaimed that all stage-players should make their 
appearance at Samos; so that, while pretty nearly the whole world 
was filled with groans and lamentations, this one island for some 
days resounded with piping and harping, theatres filling, and chor- 

366 plutarch's lives 

uses playing. Every city sent an ox as its contribution to the sacrifice, 
and the kings that accompanied Antony competed who should make 
the most magnificent feasts and the greatest presents; and men 
began to ask themselves, what would be done to celebrate the vic- 
tory, when they went to such an expense of festivity at the opening 
of the war. 

This over, he gave Priene to his players for a habitation, 10 and set 
sail for Athens, where fresh sports and play-acting employed him. 
Cleopatra, jealous of the honors Octavia had received at Athens (for 
Octavia was much beloved by the Athenians), courted the favor 
of the people with all sorts of attentions. The Athenians, in requital, 
having decreed her public honors, deputed several of the citizens to 
wait upon her at her house; amongst whom went Antony as one, he 
being an Athenian citizen, and he it was that made the speech. He 
sent orders to Rome to have Octavia removed out of his house. She 
left it, we are told, accompanied by all his children, except the eldest 
by Fulvia, who was then with his father, weeping and grieving that 
she must be looked upon as one of the causes of the war. But the 
Romans pitied, not so much her, as Antony himself, and more par- 
ticularly those who had seen Cleopatra, whom they could report 
to have no way the advantage of Octavia either in youth or in beauty. 

The speed and extent of Antony's preparations alarmed Cisar, 
who feared he might be forced to fight the decisive battle that sum- 
mer. For he wanted many necessaries, and the people grudged very 
much to pay the taxes; freemen being called upon to pay a fourth 
part of their incomes, and freed slaves an eighth of their property, 
so that there were loud outcries against him, and disturbances 
throughout all Italy. And this is looked upon as one of the greatest 
of Antony's oversights, that he did not then press the war. For he 
allowed time at once for Caesar to make his preparations, and for 
the commotions to pass over. For while people were having their 
money called for, they were mutinous and violent; but, having paid 

10 It seems to have been usual for the guild or company of performers in this part 
of Asia ("Ionia, as far as the Hellespont"), to have a city of their own, a sort of 
headquarters, whence they went out, and where once a year they held a festival of 
their own. Formerly, says Strabo, it had been Teos; intestine troubles drove them 
thence to Ephesus; king Attalus gave them Myonnesus; and afterwards Lebedus, in 
Roman times, a half abandoned town, "Gabiis desertior atque Fidenis vicus" was only 
too glad to receive them. Sec Strabo, XIV., 29. 


it, they held their peace. Titius and Plancus, men of consular dig- 
nity and friends to Antony, having been ill used by Cleopatra, whom 
they had most resisted in her design of being present in the war, 
came over to Ca?sar, and gave information of the contents of An- 
tony's will, with which they were acquainted. It was deposited in 
the hands of the vestal virgins, who refused to deliver it up, and 
sent Carsar word, if he pleased, he should come and seize it himself, 
which he did. And, reading it over to himself, he noted those places 
that were most for his purpose, and, having summoned the senate, 
read them publicly. Many were scandalized at the proceeding, think- 
ing it out of reason and equity to call a man to account for what was 
not to be until after his death. Caesar specially pressed what Antony 
said in his will about his burial; for he had ordered that even if he 
died in the city of Rome, his body, after being carried in state 
through the forum, should be sent to Cleopatra at Alexandria. 
Calvisius, a dependant of Caesar's, urged other charges in connection 
with Cleopatra against Antony; that he had given her the library 
of Pergamus, containing two hundred thousand distinct volumes; 
that at a great banquet, in the presence of many guests, he had risen 
up and rubbed her feet, to fulfil some wager or promise; that he had 
suffered the Ephesians to salute her as their queen; that he had fre- 
quently at the public audience of kings and princes received amor- 
ous messages written in tablets made of onyx and crystal, and read 
them openly on the tribunal; that when Furnius, a man of great au- 
thority and eloquence among the Romans, was pleading, Cleopatra 
happening to pass by in her chair, Antony started up and left them in 
the middle of their cause, to follow at her side and attend her home. 
Calvisius, however, was looked upon as the inventor of most of 
these stories. Antony's friends went up and down the city to gain 
him credit, and sent one of themselves, Geminius, to him to beg 
him to take heed, and not allow himself to be deprived by vote of 
his authority, and proclaimed a public enemy to the Roman state. 
But Geminius no sooner arrived in Greece but he was looked upon 
as one of Octavia's spies; at their suppers he was made a continual 
butt for mockery, and was put to sit in the least honorable places; 
all which he bore very well, seeking only an occasion of speaking 
with Antony. So, at supper, being told to say what business he came 

368 plutarch's lives 

about, he answered he would keep the rest for a soberer hour, but 
one thing he had to say, whether full or fasting, that all would go 
well if Cleopatra would return to Egypt. And on Antony show- 
ing his anger at it, "You have done well, Geminius," said Cleopatra, 
"to tell your secret without being put to the rack." So Geminius, 
after a few days, took occasion to make his escape and go to Rome. 
Many more of Antony's friends were driven from him by the inso- 
lent usage they had from Cleopatra's flatterers, amongst whom were 
Marcus Silanus and Dellius the historian. And Dellius says he was 
afraid of his life, and that Glaucus, the physician, informed him of 
Cleopatra's design against him. She was angry with him for having 
said that Antony's friends were served with sour wine, while at 
Rome Sarmentus, Caesar's little page (his delicia, as the Romans call 
it), drank Falernian." 

As soon as Caesar had completed his preparations, he had a decree 
made, declaring war on Cleopatra, and depriving Antony of the 
authority which he had let a woman exercise in his place. Caesar 
added that he had drunk potions that had bereaved him of his 
senses, and that the generals they would have to fight with would be 
Mardion the eunuch, Pothinus, Iras, Cleopatra's hair-dressing girl, 
and Charmion, who were Antony's chief state-councillors. 

These prodigies are said to have announced the war. Pisaurum, 
where Antony had setded a colony, on the Adriatic sea, was swal- 
lowed up by an earthquake; sweat ran from one of the marble 
statues of Antony at Alba for many days together, and, though fre- 
quently wiped off, did not stop. When he himself was in the city 
of Patrae, the temple of Hercules was struck by lightning, and, at 
Athens, the figure of Bacchus was torn by a violent wind out of the 
Batde of the Giants, and laid flat upon the theatre;" with both which 
deities Antony claimed connection, professing to be descended from 
Hercules, and from his imitating Bacchus in his way of living hav- 

11 Suetonius tells us that it was one of the habitual amusements of Augustus to play 
and talk with children of this kind, who were sought out for him chiefly in Syria and 
Mauritania. They were specially selected for their smallness; but he had no liking 
for dwarfs or deformed children, who were often kept by other great people in Rome 
as their playthings, so called, delicto or delicitt, much in the same sense as the pet- 
bird of Catullus's mistress, "Passer, delicia- mear puellar." 

11 The Battle of the Giants with the Gods was a piece of sculpture in the south wall 
of the Acropolis, just above the Dionysiac theatre in the side of the rock underneath. 


ing received the name of Young Bacchus. The same whirlwind at 
Athens also brought down, from amongst many others which were 
not disturbed, the colossal statues of Eumenes and Attalus, which 
were inscribed with Antony's name. And in Cleopatra's admiral- 
galley, which was called the Antonias, a most inauspicious omen 
occurred. Some swallows had built in the stern of the galley, but 
other swallows came, beat the first away, and destroyed their nests. 

When the armaments gathered for the war, Antony had no less 
than five hundred ships of war, including numerous galleys of eight 
and ten banks of oars, as richly ornamented as if they were meant 
for a triumph. He had a hundred thousand foot and twelve thou- 
sand horse. He had vassal kings attending, Bocchus of Libya, Tar- 
condemus of the Upper Cilicia, Archelaus of Cappadocia, Phila- 
delphus of Paphlagonia, Mithridates of Commagene, and Sadalas 
of Thrace; all these were with him in person. Out of Pontus Pole- 
mon sent him considerable forces, as did also Malchus from Arabia, 
Herod the Jew, and Amyntas, king of Lycaonia and Galatia; also 
the Median king sent some troops to join him. Cxsar had two 
hundred and fifty galleys of war, eighty thousand foot, and horse 
about equal to the enemy. Antony's empire extended from Eu- 
phrates and Armenia to the Ionian sea and the Illyrians; Carsar's 
from Illyria to the westward ocean, and from the ocean all along 
the Tuscan and Sicilian sea. Of Africa, Csesar had all the coast 
opposite to Italy, Gaul, and Spain, as far as the Pillars of Hercules, 
and Antony the provinces from Cyrene to Ethiopia. 

But so wholly was he now the mere appendage to the person of 
Cleopatra, that, although he was much superior to the enemy in 
land-forces, yet, out of complaisance to his mistress, he wished the 
victory to be gained by sea, and that, too, when he could not but 
see how, for want of sailors, his captains, all through unhappy 
Greece, were pressing every description of men, common travellers 
and ass-drivers, harvest laborers, and boys, and for all this the vessels 
had not their complements, but remained, most of them, ill-manned 
and badly rowed. Caesar, on the other side, had ships that were 
built not for size or show, but for service, not pompous galleys, but 
light, swift, and perfectly manned; and from his headquarters at 
Tarentum and Brundusium he sent messages to Antony not to 


protract the war, but come out with his forces; he would give him 
secure roadsteads and ports for his fleet, and, for his land army to 
disembark and pitch their camp, he would leave him as much 
ground in Italy, inland from the sea, as a horse could traverse in a 
single course. Antony, on the other side, with the like bold language, 
challenged him to a single combat, though he were much the older; 
and, that being refused, proposed to meet him in the Pharsalian 
fields, where Caesar and Pompey had fought before. But whilst 
Antony lay with his fleet near Actium, where now stands Nicopolis, 
Caesar seized his opportunity and crossed the Ionian sea, securing 
himself at a place in Epirus called the Ladle." And when those about 
Antony were much disturbed, their land-forces being a good way 
off, "Indeed," said Cleopatra, in mockery, "we may well be fright- 
ened if Caesar has got hold of the Ladle!" 

On the morrow, Antony, seeing the enemy sailing up, and fear- 
ing lest his ships might be taken for want of the soldiers to go on 
board of them, armed all the rowers, and made a show upon the decks 
of being in readiness to fight; the oars were mounted as if waiting 
to be put in motion, and the vessels themselves drawn up to face 
the enemy on either side of the channel of Actium, as though they 
were properly manned, and ready for an engagement. And Caesar, 
deceived by this stratagem, retired. He was also thought to have 
shown considerable skill in cutting off the water from the enemy 
by some lines of trenches and forts, water not being plentiful any- 
where else, nor very good. And again, his conduct to Domitius was 
generous, much against the will of Cleopatra. For when he had 
made his escape in a little boat to Caesar, having then a fever upon 
him, although Antony could not but resent it highly, yet he sent 
after him his whole equipage, with his friends and servants; and 
Domitius, as if he would give a testimony to the world how repent- 
ant he had become on his desertion and treachery being thus mani- 
fest, died soon after. Among the kings also, Amyntas and Deiotarus 
went over to Caesar. And the fleet was so unfortunate in every thing 
that was undertaken, and so unready on every occasion, that Antony 
was driven again to put his confidence in the land-forces. Canidius, 
too, who commanded the legions, when he saw how things stood, 
13 Toryne is the name which has this meaning. 


changed his opinion, and now was of advice that Cleopatra should 
be sent back, and that, retiring into Thrace or Macedonia, the quar- 
rel should be decided in a land fight. For Dicomes, also, the king 
of the Getac, promised to come and join him with a great army, 
and it would not be any kind of disparagement to him to yield the 
sea to Csesar, who, in the Sicilian wars, had had such long practice 
in ship-fighting; on the contrary, it would be simply ridiculous for 
Antony, who was by land the most experienced commander living, 
to make no use of his well-disciplined and numerous infantry, scatter- 
ing and wasting his forces by parcelling them out in the ships. But 
for all this, Cleopatra prevailed that a sea-fight should determine all, 
having already an eye to flight, and ordering all her affairs, not so 
as to assist in gaining a victory, but to escape with the greatest safety 
from the first commencement of a defeat. 

There were two long walls, extending from the camp to the sta- 
tion of the ships, between which Antony used to pass to and fro 
without suspecting any danger. But Caesar, upon the suggestion of 
a servant that it would not be difficult to surprise him, laid an am- 
bush, which, rising up somewhat too hastily, seized the man that 
came just before him, he himself escaping narrowly by flight. 

When it was resolved to stand to a fight at sea, they set fire to all 
the Egyptian ships except sixty; and of these the best and largest, 
from ten banks down to three, he manned with twenty thousand 
full-armed men, and two thousand archers. Here it is related that 
a foot captain, one that had fought often under Antony, and had 
his body all mangled with wounds, exclaimed, "O, my general, 
what have our wounds and swords done to displease you, that you 
should give your confidence to rotten timbers? Let Egyptians and 
Phoenicians contend at sea, give us the land, where we know well 
how to die upon the spot or gain the victory." To which he 
answered nothing, but, by his look and motion of his hand seem- 
ing to bid him be of good courage, passed forwards, having already, 
it would seem, no very sure hopes, since when the masters proposed 
leaving the sails behind them, he commanded they should be put 
aboard, "For we must not," said he, "let one enemy escape." 

That day and the three following the sea was so rough they could 
not engage. But on the fifth there was a calm, and they fought; 

372 plutarch's lives 

Antony commanding with Publicola the right, and Ccelius the left 
squadron, Marcus Octavius and Marcus Instelus the centre. Caesar 
gave the charge of the left to Agrippa, commanding in person on 
the right. As for the land-forces, Canidius was general for Antony, 
Taurus for Caesar; both armies remaining drawn up in order along 
the shore. Antony in a small boat went from one ship to another, 
encouraging his soldiers, and bidding them stand firm, and fight as 
steadily on their large ships as if they were on land. The masters 
he ordered that they should receive the enemy lying still as if they 
were at anchor, and maintain the entrance of the port, which was a 
narrow and difficult passage. Of Caesar they relate, that, leaving his 
tent and going round, while it was yet dark, to visit the ships, he 
met a man driving an ass, and asked him his name. He answered 
him that his own name was "Fortunate, and my ass," says he, "is 
called Conquerer." u And afterwards, when he disposed the beaks 
of the ships in that place in token of his victory, the statue of this 
man and his ass in bronze were placed amongst them. After exam- 
ining the rest of his fleet, he went in a boat to the right wing, and 
looked with much admiration at the enemy lying perfectly still in 
the straits, in all appearance as if they had been at anchor. For 
some considerable length of time he actually thought they were so, 
and kept his own ships at rest, at a distance of about eight furlongs 
from them. But about noon a breeze sprang up from the sea, and 
Antony's men, weary of expecting the enemy so long, and trusting 
to their large tall vessels, as if they had been invincible, began to ad- 
vance the left squadron. Caesar was overjoyed to see them move, and 
ordered his own right squadron to retire, that he might entice them 
out to sea as far as he could, his design being to sail round and 
round, and so with his light and well-manned galleys to attack 
these huge vessels, which their size and their want of men made 
slow to move and difficult to manage. 

When they engaged, there was no charging or striking of one 
ship by another, because Antony's, by reason of their great bulk, 
were incapable of the rapidity required to make the stroke effectual, 
and, on the other side, Caesar's durst not charge head to head on 
Antony's, which were all armed with solid masses and spikes of 
14 Eutychus the name of the man, and Nicon that of the ass. 


brass; nor did they like even to run in on their sides, which were so 
strongly built with great squared pieces of timber, fastened together 
with iron bolts, that their vessels' beaks would easily have been 
shattered upon them. So that the engagement resembled a land 
fight, or, to speak yet more properly, the attack and defence of a 
fortified place; for there were always three or four vessels of Caesar's 
about one of Antony's, pressing them with spears, javelins, poles, 
and several inventions of fire, which they flung among them, An- 
tony's men using catapults also, to pour down missiles from wooden 
towers. Agrippa drawing out the squadron under his command to 
outflank the enemy, Publicola was obliged to observe his motions, 
and gradually to break off from the middle squadron, where some 
confusion and alarm ensued, while Arruntius 15 engaged them. But 
the fortune of the day was still undecided, and the battle equal, 
when on a sudden Cleopatra's sixty ships were seen hoisting sail and 
making out to sea in full flight, right through the ships that were 
engaged. For they were placed behind the great ships, which, in 
breaking through, they put into disorder. The enemy was aston- 
ished to see them sailing off with a fair wind towards Peloponnesus. 
Here it was that Antony showed to all the world that he was no 
longer actuated by the thoughts and motives of a commander or a 
man, or indeed by his own judgment at all, and what was once said 
as a jest, that the soul of a lover lives in some one else's body, he 
proved to be a serious truth. For, as if he had been born part of 
her, and must move with her wheresoever she went, as soon as he 
saw her ship sailing away, he abandoned all that were fighting and 
spending their lives for him, and put himself aboard a galley of 
five ranks of oars, taking with him only Alexander of Syria and 
Scellias, to follow her that had so well begun his ruin and would 
hereafter accomplish it. 

She, perceiving him to follow, gave the signal to come aboard. 
So, as soon as he came up with them, he was taken into the ship. 
But without seeing her or letting himself be seen by her, he went 
forward by himself, and sat alone, without a word, in the ship's 
prow, covering his face with his two hands. In the meanwhile, 
some of Catsar's light Liburnian ships, that were in pursuit, came 

15 Arruntius commanded in Czsar's centre. 


in sight. But on Antony's commanding to face about, they all gave 
back except Eurycles the Laconian, who pressed on, shaking a 
lance from the deck, as if he meant to hurl it at him. Antony, stand- 
ing at the prow, demanded of him, "Who is this that pursues An- 
tony?" "I am," said he, "Eurycles, the son of Lachares, armed with 
Caesar's fortune to revenge my father's death." Lachares had been 
condemned for a robbery, and beheaded by Antony's orders. How- 
ever, Eurycles did not attack Antony, but ran with his full force 
upon the other admiral-galley (for there were two of them), and 
with the blow turned her round, and took both her and another 
ship, in which was a quantity of rich plate and furniture. So soon 
as Eurycles was gone, Antony returned to his posture, and sate 
silent, and thus he remained for three days, either in anger with 
Cleopatra, or wishing not to upbraid her, at the end of which they 
touched at Taenarus. Here the women of their company succeeded 
first in bringing them to speak, and afterwards to eat and sleep to- 
gether. And, by this time, several of the ships of burden and some 
of his friends began to come in to him from the rout, bringing news 
of his fleet's being quite destroyed, but that the land-forces, they 
thought, still stood firm. So that he sent messengers to Canidius to 
march the army with all speed through Macedonia into Asia. And, 
designing himself to go from Taenarus into Africa, he gave one of 
the merchant ships, laden with a large sum of money, and vessels of 
silver and gold of great value, belonging to the royal collections, to 
his friends, desiring them to share it amongst them, and provide for 
their own safety. They refusing his kindness with tears in their 
eyes, he comforted them with all the goodness and humanity 
imaginable, entreating them to leave him, and wrote letters in their 
behalf to Theophilus, his steward, at Corinth, that he would pro- 
vide for their security, and keep them concealed till such time as 
they could make their peace with Caesar. This Theophilus was the 
father of Hipparchus, who had such interest with Antony, who was 
the first of all his freedmen that went over to Caesar, and who settled 
afterwards at Corinth. In this posture were affairs with Antony. 

But at Actium, his fleet, after a long resistance to Caesar, and suf- 
fering the most damage from a heavy sea that set in right ahead, 


scarcely, at four in the afternoon, gave up the contest, with the loss 
of not more than five thousand men killed, but of three hundred 
ships taken, as Carsar himself has recorded. Only few had known 
of Antony's flight; and those who were told of it could not at first 
give any belief to so incredible a thing, as that a general who had 
nineteen entire legions and twelve thousand horse upon the sea- 
shore, could abandon all and fly away; and he, above all, who had 
so often experienced both good and evil fortune, and had in a thou- 
sand wars and battles been inured to changes. His soldiers, how- 
ever, would not give up their desires and expectations, still fancying 
he would appear from some part or other, and showed such a gen- 
erous fidelity to his service, that, when they were thoroughly assured 
that he was fled in earnest, they kept themselves in a body seven 
days, making no account of the messages that Caesar sent to them. 
But at last, seeing that Canidius himself, who commanded them, 
was fled from the camp by night, and that all their officers had quite 
abandoned them, they gave way, and made their submission to the 
conqueror. After this, Caesar set sail for Athens, where he made 
a settlement with Greece, and distributed what remained of the 
provision of corn that Antony had made for his army among the 
cities, which were in a miserable condition, despoiled of their 
money, their slaves, their horses, and beasts of service. My great- 
grandfather Nicarchus used to relate, that the whole body of the 
people of our city were put in requisition to carry each one a cer- 
tain measure of corn upon their shoulders to the sea-side near Anti- 
cyra, men standing by to quicken them with the lash. They had 
made one journey of the kind, but when they had just measured out 
the corn and were putting it on their backs for a second, news came 
of Antony's defeat, and so saved Chaeronea, for all Antony's pur- 
veyors and soldiers fled upon the news, and left them to divide the 
corn among themselves. 

When Antony came into Africa, he sent on Cleopatra from Parae- 
tonium into Egypt, and staid himself in the most entire solitude that 
he could desire, roaming and wandering about with only two 
friends, one a Greek, Aristocrates, a rhetorician, and the other a 
Roman, Lucilius, of whom we have elsewhere spoken, how, at 

376 Plutarch's lives 

Philippi, to give Brutus time to escape, he suffered himself to be 
taken by the pursuers, pretending he was Brutus. Antony gave him 
his life, and on this account he remained true and faithful to him 
to the last. 

But when also the officer who commanded for him in Africa, to 
whose care he had committed all his forces there, took them over to 
Caesar, he resolved to kill himself, but was hindered by his friends. 
And coming to Alexandria, he found Cleopatra busied in a most 
bold and wonderful enterprise. Over the small space of land which 
divides the Red Sea from the sea near Egypt, which may be con- 
sidered also the boundary between Asia and Africa, and in the nar- 
rowest place is not much above three hundred furlongs across, over 
this neck of land Cleopatra had formed a project of dragging her 
fleet, and setting it afloat in the Arabian Gulf, thus with her soldiers 
and her treasure to secure herself a home on the other side, where 
she might live in peace, far away from war and slavery. But the 
first galleys which were carried over being burnt by the Arabians 
of Petra, and Antony not knowing but that the army before Actium 
still held together, she desisted from her enterprise, and gave orders 
for the fortifying all the approaches to Egypt. But Antony, leaving 
the city and the conversation of his friends, built him a dwelling- 
place in the water, near Pharos, upon a little mole which he cast 
up in the sea, and there, secluding himself from the company of 
mankind, said he desired nothing but to live the life of Timon; as, 
indeed, his case was the same, and the ingratitude and injuries 
which he suffered from those he had esteemed his friends, made him 
hate and mistrust all mankind. 

This Timon was a citizen of Athens, and lived much about the 
Peloponnesian war, as may be seen by the comedies of Aristophanes 
and Plato, in which he is ridiculed as the hater and enemy of man- 
kind. He avoided and repelled the approaches of every one, but 
embraced with kisses and the greatest show of affection Alcibiades, 
then in his hot youth. And when Apemantus was astonished, and 
demanded the reason, he replied that he knew this young man 
would one day do infinite mischief to the Athenians. He never ad- 
mitted any one into his company, except at times this Apemantus, 
who was of the same sort of temper, and was an imitator of his way 


of life. At the celebration of the festival of flagons, 16 these two kept 
the feast together, and Apemantus saying to him, "What a pleasant 
party, Timon!" "It would be," he answered, "if you were away." 
One day he got up in a full assembly on the speaker's place, and 
when there was a dead silence and great wonder at so unusual a 
sight, he said, "Ye men of Athens, I have a little plot of ground, 
and in it grows a fig-tree, on which many citizens have been pleased 
to hang themselves; and now, having resolved to build in that place, 
I wished to announce it publicly, that any of you who may be de- 
sirous may go and hang yourselves before I cut it down." He died 
and was buried at Halac, near the sea, where it so happened that, 
after his burial, a land-slip took place on the point of the shore, and 
the sea, flowing in, surrounded his tomb, and made it inaccessible 
to the foot of man. It bore this inscription: — 

"Here am I laid, my life of misery done. 
Ask not my name, I curse you every one." 

And this epitaph was made by himself while yet alive; that which 
is more generally known is by Callimachus: — 

"Timon, the misanthrope, am I below. 
Go, and revile me, traveller, only go." 

Thus much of Timon, of whom much more might be said. 
Canidius now came, bringing word in person of the loss of the 
army before Actium. Then he received news that Herod of Judaea 
was gone over to Carsar with some legions and cohorts, and that the 
other kings and princes were in like manner deserting him, and 
that, out of Egypt, nothing stood by him. All this, however, seemed 
not to disturb him, but as if he were glad to put away all hope, that 
with it he might be rid of care, and leaving his habitation by the 
sea, which he called the Timoneum, he was received by Cleopatra in 
the palace, and set the whole city in to a course of feasting, drink- 
ing, and presents. The son of Caesar and Cleopatra was registered 
among the youths, and Antyllus, his own son by Fulvia, received the 
gown without the purple border, given to those that are come of 

16 "The Flapons," or Choes, was the second day of the Anthcsterian feast of Bac- 
chus, and was observed by the Athenians as a special day of conviviality, when they 
met in parties, and drank together. 

378 plutarch's lives 

age; in honor of which the citizens of Alexandria did nothing but 
feast and revel for many days. They themselves broke up the Order 
of the Inimitable Livers, and constituted another in its place, not 
inferior in splendor, luxury, and sumptuosity, calling it that of the 
Diers together." For all those that said they would die with Antony 
and Cleopatra gave in their names, for the present passing their 
time in all manner of pleasures, and a regular succession of banquets. 
But Cleopatra was busied in making a collection of all varieties of 
poisonous drugs, and, in order to see which of them were the least 
painful in the operation, she had them tried upon prisoners con- 
demned to die. But, finding that the quick poisons always worked 
with sharp pains, and that the less painful were slow, she next tried 
venomous animals, and watched with her own eyes whilst they 
were applied,one creature to the body of another. This was her daily 
practice, and she pretty well satisfied herself that nothing was com- 
parable to the bite of the asp, which, without convulsion or groaning, 
brought on a heavy drowsiness and lethargy, with a gende sweat on 
the face, the senses being stupefied by degrees; the patient, in appear- 
ance, being sensible of no pain, but rather troubled to be disturbed 
or awakened, like those that are in a profound natural sleep. 

At the same time, they sent ambassadors to Caesar into Asia, 
Cleopatra asking for the kingdom of Egypt for her children, and 
Antony, that he might have leave to live as a private man in Egypt, 
or, if that were thought too much, that he might retire to Athens. 
In lack of friends, so many having deserted, and others not being 
trusted, Euphronius, his son's tutor, was sent on this embassy. For 
Alexas of Laodicea, who, by the recommendation of Timagenes, 
became acquainted with Antony at Rome, and had been more 
powerful with him than any Greek, and was, of all the instruments 
which Cleopatra made use of to persuade Antony, the most violent, 
and the chief subverted of any good thoughts that, from time to 
time, might rise in his mind in Octavia's favor, had been sent before 
to dissuade Herod from desertion; but, betraying his master, stayed 
with him, and, confiding in Herod's interest, had the boldness to 
come into Caesar's presence. Herod, however, was not able to help 

17 It was a name well known on the stage. There were two, if not three, comedies, 
called the Synapothneskpntcs, and one of them had been translated into Latin by 
Plautus, as the Commorients. 


him, for he was immediately put in chains, and sent into his own 
country, where, by Carsar's order, he was put to death. This reward 
of his treason Alexas received while Antony was yet alive. 

Cxsar would not listen to any proposals for Antony, but he made 
answer to Cleopatra, that there was no reasonable favor which she 
might not expect, if she put Antony to death, or expelled him from 
Egypt. He sent back with the ambassadors his own freedman 
Thyrsus, a man of understanding, and not at all ill-qualified for 
conveying the messages of a youthful general to a woman so proud 
of her charms and possessed with the opinion of the power of her 
beauty. But by the long audiences he received from her, and the 
special honors which she paid him, Antony's jealousy began to be 
awakened; he had him seized, whipped, and sent back; writing 
Cxsar word that the man's busy, impertinent ways had provoked 
him; in his circumstances he could not be expected to be very 
patient: "But if it offend you," he added, "you have got my freed- 
man, Hipparchus, with you; hang him up and scourge him to 
make us even." But Cleopatra, after this, to clear herself, and to 
allay his jealousies, paid him all the attentions imaginable. When 
her own birthday came, she kept it as was suitable to their fallen 
fortunes; but his was observed with the utmost prodigality of 
splendor and magnificence, so that many of the guests sate down in 
want, and went home wealthy men. Meantime, continual letters 
came to Cxsar from Agrippa, telling him his presence was extremely 
required at Rome. 

And so the war was deferred for a season. But, the winter being 
over, he began his march; he himself by Syria, and his captains 
through Africa. Pelusium being taken, there went a report as if it 
had been delivered up to Caesar by Seleucus, not without the con- 
sent of Cleopatra; but she, to justify herself, gave up into Antony's 
hands the wife and children of Seleucus to be put to death. She had 
caused to be built, joining to the temple of Isis, several tombs and 
monuments of wonderful height, and very remarkable for the work- 
manship; thither she removed her treasure, her gold, silver, emeralds, 
pearls, ebony, ivory, cinnamon, and, after all, a great quantity of 
torchwood and tow. Upon which Caesar began to fear lest she 
should, in a desperate fit, set all these riches on fire; and, therefore, 

380 plutarch's lives 

while he was marching towards the city with his army, he omitted 
no occasion of giving her new assurances of his good intentions. 
He took up his position in the Hippodrome, where Antony made a 
fierce sally upon him, routed his horse, and beat them back into 
their trenches, and so returned with great satisfaction to the palace, 
where, meeting Cleopatra, armed as he was, he kissed her, and 
commended to her favor one of his men, who had most signalized 
himself in the fight, to whom she made a present of a breastplate 
and helmet of gold; which he having received, went that very night 
and deserted to Caesar. 

After this, Antony sent a new challenge to Caesar, to fight him 
hand to hand; who made him answer that he might find several 
other ways to end his life; and he, considering with himself that 
he could not die more honorably than in battle, resolved to make an 
effort both by land and sea. At supper, it is said, he bade his servants 
help him freely, and pour him out wine plentifully, since to-morrow, 
perhaps, they should not do the same, but be servants to a new 
master, whilst he should lie on the ground, a dead corpse, and 
nothing. His friends that were about him wept to hear him talk so; 
which he perceiving, told them he would not lead them to a batde 
in which he expected rather an honorable death than either safety 
or victory. That night, it is related, about the middle of it, when 
the whole city was in a deep silence and general sadness, expecting 
the event of the next day, on a sudden was heard the sound of all 
sorts of instruments, and voices singing in tune, and the cry of a 
crowd of people shouting and dancing, like a troop of bacchanals 
on its way. This tumultuous procession seemed to take its course 
right through the middle of the city to the gate nearest the enemy; 
here it became loudest, and suddenly passed out. People who 
reflected considered this to signify that Bacchus, the god whom 
Antony had always made it his study to copy and imitate, had now 
forsaken him. 

As soon as it was light, he marched his infantry out of the city, 
and posted them upon a rising ground, from whence he saw his 
fleet make up to the enemy. There he stood in expectation of the 
event; but as soon as the fleets came near to one another, his men 
saluted Caesar's with their oars; and, on their responding, the whole 


body of the ships, forming into a single fleet, rowed up direct to the 
city. Antony had no sooner seen this, but the horse deserted him, 
and went over to Caesar; and his foot being defeated, he retired into 
the city, crying out that Cleopatra had betrayed him to the enemies 
he had made for her sake. She, being afraid lest in his fury and 
despair he might do her a mischief, fled to her monument, and 
letting down the falling doors, which were strong with bars and 
bolts, she sent messengers who should tell Antony she was dead. 
He, believing it, cried out, "Now, Antony, why delay longer? Fate 
has snatched away the only pretext for which you could say you 
desired yet to live." Going into his chamber, and there loosening 
and opening his coat of armor, "I am not," said he, "troubled, Cleo- 
patra, to be at present bereaved of you, for I shall soon be with you; 
but it distresses me that so great a general should be found of a 
tardier courage than a woman." He had a faithful servant, whose 
name was Eros; he had engaged him formerly to kill him when he 
should think it necessary, and now he put him to his promise. Eros 
drew his sword, as designing to kill him, but, suddenly turning 
round, he slew himself. And as he fell dead at his feet, "It is well 
done, Eros," said Antony; "you show your master how to do what 
you had not the heart to do yourself;" and so he ran himself into 
the belly, and laid himself upon the couch. The wound, however, 
was not immediately mortal; and the flow of blood ceasing when 
he lay down, presently he came to himself, and entreated those that 
were about him to put him out of his pain; but they all fled out of 
the chamber, and left him crying out and struggling, until Diomede, 
Cleopatra's secretary, came to him, having orders from her to bring 
him into the monument. 

When he understood she was alive, he eagerly gave order to the 
servants to take him up, and in their arms was carried to the door 
of the building. Cleopatra would not open the door, but, looking 
from a sort of window, she let down ropes and cords, to which 
Antony was fastened; and she and her two women, the only persons 
she had allowed to enter the monument, drew him up. Those that 
were present say that nothing was ever more sad than this spectacle, 
to see Antony, covered all over with blood and just expiring, thus 
drawn up, still holding up his hands to her, and lifting up his body 

382 plutarch's lives 

with the little force he had left. As, indeed, it was no easy task for 
the women; and Cleopatra, with all her force, clinging to the rope, 
and straining with her head to the ground, with difficulty pulled him 
up, while those below encouraged her with their cries, and joined 
in all her effort and anxiety. When she had got him up, she laid 
him on the bed, tearing all her clothes, which she spread upon him; 
and beating her breasts with her hands, lacerating herself, and 
disfiguring her own face with the blood from his wounds, she called 
him her lord, her husband, her emperor, and seemed to have pretty 
nearly forgotten all her own evils, she was so intent upon his mis- 
fortunes. Antony, stopping her lamentations as well as he could, 
called for wine to drink, either that he was thirsty, or that he 
imagined that it might put him the sooner out of pain. When he 
had drunk, he advised her to bring her own affairs, so far as might 
be honorably done, to a safe conclusion, and that, among all the 
friends of Caesar, she should rely on Proculeius; that she should not 
pity him in this last turn of fate, but rather rejoice for him in remem- 
brance of his past happiness, who had been of all men the most 
illustrious and powerful, and, in the end, had fallen not ignobly, a 
Roman by a Roman overcome. 

Just as he breathed his last, Proculeius arrived from Caesar; for 
when Antony gave himself his wound, and was carried in to Cleo- 
patra, one of his guards, Dercetaeus, took up Antony's sword and 
hid it; and, when he saw his opportunity, stole away to Caesar, and 
brought him the first news of Antony's death, and withal showed 
him the bloody sword. Caesar, upon this, retired into the inner part 
of his tent, and giving some tears to the death of one that had been 
nearly allied to him in marriage, his colleague in empire, and com- 
panion in so many wars and dangers, he came out to his friends, and, 
bringing with him many letters, he read to them with how much 
reason and moderation he had always addressed himself to Antony, 
and in return what overbearing and arrogant answers he received. 
Then he sent Proculeius to use his utmost endeavors to get Cleopatra 
alive into his power; for he was afraid of losing a great treasure, 
and, besides, she would be no small addition to the glory of his 
triumph. She, however, was careful not to put herself in Proculeius's 
power; but from within her monument, he standing on the outside 


of a door, on the level of the ground, which was strongly barred, but 
so that they might well enough hear one another's voice, she held 
a conference with him; she demanding that her kingdom might be 
given to her children, and he bidding her be of good courage, and 
trust Caesar for every thing. 

Having taken particular notice of the place, he returned to Caesar, 
and Gallus was sent to parley with her the second time; who, being 
come to the door, on purpose prolonged the conference, while Pro- 
culeius fixed his scaling-ladders in the window through which the 
women had pulled up Antony. And so entering, with two men to fol- 
low him, he went straight down to the door where Cleopatra was dis- 
coursing with Gallus. One of the two women who were shut up in 
the monument with her cried, out, "Miserable Cleopatra, you are 
taken prisoner!" Upon which she turned quick, and, looking at 
Proculeius, drew out her dagger, which she had with her to stab her- 
self. But Proculeius ran up quickly, and, seizing her with both his 
hands, "For shame," said he, "Cleopatra; you wrong yourself and 
Caesar much, who would rob him of so fair an occasion of showing 
his clemency, and would make the world believe the most gentle of 
commanders to be a faithless and implacable enemy." And so, 
taking the dagger out of her hand, he also shook her dress to see if 
there were any poison hid in it. After this, Caesar sent Epaphroditus, 
one of his freedmen, with orders to treat her with all the gentleness 
and civility possible, but to take the strictest precautions to keep 
her alive. 

In the meanwhile, Caesar made his entry into Alexandria with 
Areius the philosopher at his side, holding him by the hand and 
talking with him; desiring that all his fellow-citizens should see 
what honor was paid to him, and should look up to him accordingly 
from the very first moment. Then, entering the exercise-ground, he 
mounted a platform erected for the purpose, and from thence com- 
manded the citizens (who, in great fear and consternation, fell 
prostrate at his feet) to stand up, and told them, that he freely ac- 
quitted the people of all blame, first, for the sake of Alexander, who 
built their city; then, for the city's sake itself, which was so large and 
beautiful; and, thirdly, to gratify his friend Areius. 

Such great honor did Areius receive from Caesar; and by his inter- 

384 plutarch's lives 

cession many lives were saved, amongst the rest that of Philostratus, 
a man, of all the professors of logic that ever were, the most ready 
in extempore speaking, but quite destitute of any right to call him- 
self one of the philosophers of the Academy. Caesar, out of disgust 
at his character, refused all attention to his entreaties. So, growing 
a long, white beard, and dressing himself in black, he followed 
behind Areius, shouting out the verse, 

"The wise, if they are wise, will save the wise." 

Which Caesar hearing, gave him his pardon, to prevent rather any 
odium that might attach to Areius, than any harm that Philostratus 
might suffer. 

Of Antony's children, Antyllus, his son by Fulvia, being betrayed 
by his tutor, Theodorus, was put to death; and while the soldiers 
were cutting off his head, his tutor contrived to steal a precious 
jewel which he wore about his neck, and put it into his pocket, 
and afterwards denied the fact, but was convicted and crucified. 
Cleopatra's children, with their attendants, had a guard set on them, 
and were treated very honorably. Caesarion, who was reputed to be 
the son of Caesar the Dictator, was sent by his mother, with a great 
sum of money, through ./Ethiopia, to pass into India; but his tutor, 
a man named Rhodon, about as honest as Theodorus, persuaded 
him to turn back, for that Caesar designed to make him king. Caesar 
consulting what was best to be done with him, Areius, we are told 

"Too many Ccesars are not well." J* 

So, afterwards, when Cleopatra was dead, he was killed. 

Many kings and great commanders made petition to Caesar for 
the body of Antony, to give him his funeral rites; but he would not 
take away his corpse from Cleopatra, by whose hands he was buried 
with royal splendor and magnificence, it being granted to her to 
employ what she pleased on his funeral. In this extremity of grief 

18 A parody on Homer's famous words, 

Too many leaders are not well; the way 
Is to have one commander to obey, 
One king, of Zeus appointed for the tway. 

ou\ agathon po/ukaisar;> being a slight variation upon ou\ agathon polukovwic. 
Kaisar is the Greek form of Czsar; and Koiran, or Koiranos is a captain or chief. 


and sorrow, and having inflamed and ulcerated her breasts with 
beating them, she fell into a high fever, and was very glad of the 
occasion, hoping, under this pretext, to abstain from food, and so to 
die in quiet without interference. She had her own physician, 
Olympus, to whom she told the truth, and asked his advice and 
help to put an end to herself, as Olympus himself has told us, in a 
narrative which he wrote of these events. But Carsar, suspecting her 
purpose, took to menacing language about her children, and ex- 
cited her fears for them, before which engines her purpose shook 
and gave way, so that she suffered those about her to give her what 
meat or medicine they pleased. 

Some few days after, Cxsar himself came to make her a visit and 
comfort her. She lay then upon her pallet-bed in undress, and, on 
his entering in, sprang up from off her bed, having nothing on but 
the one garment next her body, and flung herself at his feet, her 
hair and face looking wild and disfigured, her voice quivering, and 
her eyes sunk in her head. The marks of the blows she had given 
herself were visible about her bosom, and altogether her whole per- 
son seemed no less afflicted than her soul. But, for all this, her old 
charm, and the boldness of her youthful beauty had not wholly left 
her, and, in spite of her present condition, still sparkled from 
within, and let itself appear in all the movements of her counte- 
nance. Caesar, desiring her to repose herself, sat down by her; and, 
on this opportunity, she said something to justify her actions, at- 
tributing what she had done to the necessity she was under, and to 
her fear of Antony; and when Carsar, on each point, made his ob- 
jections, and she found herself confuted, she broke off at once into 
language of entreaty and deprecation, as if she desired nothing 
more than to prolong her life. And at last, having by her a list of her 
treasure, she gave it into his hands; and when Seleucus, one of her 
stewards, who was by, pointed out that various articles were omitted, 
and charged her with secreting them, she flew up and caught him 
by the hair, and struck him several blows on the face. Carsar smiling 
and withholding her, "Is it not very hard, Cassar," said she, "when 
you do me the honor to visit me in this condition I am in, that I 
should be accused by one of my own servants of laying by some 
women's toys, not meant to adorn, be sure, my unhappy self, but 

386 plutarch's lives 

that I might have some little present by me to make your Octavia 
and your Livia, that by their intercession I might hope to find you 
in some measure disposed to mercy?" Caesar was pleased to hear 
her talk thus, being now assured that she was desirous to live. And, 
therefore, letting her know that the things she had laid by she 
might dispose of as she pleased, and his usage of her should be 
honorable above her expectation, he went away, well satisfied that 
he had overreached her, but, in fact, was himself deceived. 

There was a young man of distinction among Caesar's compan- 
ions, named Cornelius Dolabella. He was not without a certain 
tenderness for Cleopatra, and sent her word privately, as she had 
besought him to do, that Caesar was about to return through Syria, 
and that she and her children were to be sent on within three days. 
When she understood this, she made her request to Caesar that he 
would be pleased to permit her to make oblations to the departed 
Antony; which being granted, she ordered herself to be carried to 
the place where he was buried, and there, accompanied by her 
women, she embraced his tomb with tears in her eyes, and spoke 
in this manner: "O, dearest Antony," said she, "it is not long since 
that with these hands I buried you; then they were free, now I am 
a captive, and pay these last duties to you with a guard upon me, for 
fear that my just griefs and sorrows should impair my servile body, 
and make it less fit to appear in their triumph over you. No further 
offerings or libations expect from me; these are the last honors 
that Cleopatra can pay your memory, for she is to be hurried away 
far from you. Nothing could part us whilst we lived, but death 
seems to threaten to divide us. You, a Roman born, have found a 
grave in Egypt; I, an Egyptian, am to seek that favor, and none 
but that, in your country. But if the gods below, with whom you 
now are, either can or will do any thing (since those above have 
betrayed us), suffer not your living wife to be abandoned; let me 
not be led in triumph to your shame, but hide me and bury me 
here with you, since, amongst all my bitter misfortunes, nothing has 
afflicted me like this brief time that I have lived away from you." 

Having made these lamentations, crowning the tomb with gar- 
lands and kissing it, she gave orders to prepare her a bath, and, 


coming out of the bath, she lay down and made a sumptuous meal. 
And a country fellow brought her a little basket, which the guards 
intercepting and asking what it was, the fellow put the leaves which 
lay uppermost aside, and showed them it was full of figs; and on 
their admiring the largeness and beauty of the figs, he laughed, and 
invited them to take some, which they refused, and, suspecting noth- 
ing, bade him carry them in. After her repast, Cleopatra sent to 
Carsar a letter which she had written and sealed; and, putting every- 
body out of the monument but her two women, she shut the doors. 
Cxsar, opening her letter, and finding pathetic prayers and en- 
treaties that she might be buried in the same tomb with Antony, 
soon guessed what was doing. At first he was going himself in all 
haste, but, changing his mind, he sent others to see. The thing 
had been quickly done. The messengers came at full speed, and 
found the guards apprehensive of nothing; but on opening the 
doors, they saw her stone-dead, lying upon a bed of gold, set out 
in all her royal ornaments. Iras, one of her women, lay dying at 
her feet, and Charmion, just ready to fall, scarce able to hold up 
her head, was adjusting her mistress's diadem. And when one that 
came in said angrily, "Was this well done of your lady, Charmion?" 
"Extremely well," she answered, "and as became the descendant of 
so many kings"; and as she said this, she fell down dead by the 

Some relate that an asp was brought in amongst those figs and 
covered with the leaves, and that Cleopatra had arranged that it 
might settle on her before she knew, but, when she took away some 
of the figs and saw it, she said, "So here it is," and held out her bare 
arm to be bitten. Others say that it was kept in a vase, and that 
she vexed and pricked it with a golden spindle till it seized her 
arm. But what really took place is known to no one. Since it was 
also said that she carried poison in a hollow bodkin, about which 
she wound her hair; yet there was not so much as a spot found, 
or any symptom of poison upon her body, nor was the asp seen 
within the monument; only something like the trail of it was said 
to have been noticed on the sand by the sea, on the part towards 
which the building faced and where the windows were. Some relate 

388 plutarch's lives 

that two faint puncture-marks were found on Cleopatra's arm, and 
to this account Caesar seems to have given credit; for in his triumph 
there was carried a figure of Cleopatra, with an asp clinging to her. 
Such are the various accounts. But Caesar, though much disappointed 
by her death, yet could not but admire the greatness of her spirit, 
and gave order that her body should be buried by Antony with 
royal splendor and magnificence. Her women, also, received honor- 
able burial by his directions. Cleopatra had lived nine and thirty 
years, during twenty-two of which she had reigned as queen, and 
for fourteen had been Antony's partner in his empire. Antony, ac- 
cording to some authorities, was fifty-three, according to others, 
fifty-six years old. His statues were all thrown down, but those of 
Cleopatra were left untouched; for Archibius, one of her friends, 
gave Caesar two thousand talents to save them from the fate of 

Antony left by his three wives seven children, of whom only 
Antyllus, the eldest, was put to death by Caesar; Octavia took the 
rest, and brought them up with her own. Cleopatra, his daughter 
by Cleopatra, was given in marriage to Juba, the most accomplished 
of kings; and Antony, his son by Fulvia, attained such high favor, 
that whereas Agrippa was considered to hold the first place with 
Caesar, and the sons of Livia the second, the third, without dispute, 
was possessed by Antony. Octavia, also, having had by her first 
husband, Marcellus, two daughters, and one son named Marcellus, 
this son Caesar adopted, and gave him his daughter in marriage; 
as did Octavia one of the daughters to Agrippa. But Marcellus 
dying almost immediately after his marriage, she, perceiving that 
her brother was at a loss to find elsewhere any sure friend to be his 
son-in-law, was the first to recommend that Agrippa should put 
away her daughter and marry Julia. To this Caesar first, and then 
Agrippa himself, gave assent; so Agrippa married Julia, and Oc- 
tavia, receiving her daughter, married her to the young Antony. 
Of the two daughters whom Octavia had borne to Antony, the one 
was married to Domitius Ahenobarbus; and the other, Antonia, 
famous for her beauty and discretion, was married to Drusus, the 
son of Livia, and step-son to Caesar. Of these parents were born 
Germanicus and Claudius. Claudius reigned later; and of the chil- 


dren of Germanicus, Caius, after a reign of distinction, was killed 
with his wife and child; Agrippina, after bearing a son, Lucius 
Domitius, to Ahenobarbus, was married to Claudius Caesar, who 
adopted Domitius, giving him the name of Nero Germanicus. He 
was emperor in our time, and put his mother to death, and with his 
madness and folly came not far from ruining the Roman empire, 
being Antony's descendant in the fifth generation.