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P H O C I O N,

AG i s,

C L E O M E N E S,


M. A N T O N I U S,

M. TUL. Cic ERO.



x i \\r'%^ vX .
vi. V \ v V - v~\fc

r \



P H O C I O N.

EMADES the orator, who had great power
in Athens, becaufe in the administration of pub
lick affairs he always favoured Antipater ami
the Macedonians, being neceflitated to write and fpc-ak
many things below the 'dignity, and contrary to the
cufloms of the city, ufed to lay, " that he ought to be ex-
" cufed for what he did, becauiehe (leered only the wreck
" of the commonwealth. This faying, which in him
xvas too bold and arrogant, feems to be juflly applicable
to Phocion's government ; for Demades was the rock on
which his country fplit, through the diflblutenefs of his
life and adminiftratior, which gave Antipater occafion to
fay of him, after he was grown old, " That he was like a
" facrificed bead, all confumed, except his tongue and his

rbe L I F E of

and fortune were powerful ad-
Phocion - y and the ftate of pub-
wherHie lived, and the calamities with which
.s opprefied, obfcured its luftre and glory,
cles detracts too much from the power of vir-
he fays,

'er is wretched is no longer wife. (2)

Thus much indeed muft be granted to happen in the
conteils between good men and fortune, that inflead of
that honour and gratitude which their conduct deferves,
they often meet with obloquy and reproach, which lef-
fen the opinion that others had entertained of their vir-
tue. And although it be commonly faid, that the
populace is then mofl infulting and contumelious to
good men, when elated by profperity and fuccefs, yet
we often find the contrary to happen : for misfortune
fowiers the minds of men, makes them peevifh and fret-
ful, and renders their ears fo tender and delicate, that
they take offence at every word in which there is the
leaf: harfhnefs and feverity he that reproves them
for their faults, is thought to infult over their misfor-
tunes ; and every free expostulation is interpreted as
contempt. Honey itfelf irritates a fore and ulcerated
part ; and the wifeft counfels, if they are not propofed
in foft and gentle terms, will often incenfe and exafpe-
rate the afflicted. And for this reafon it is that Homer
to exprefs fuch things as are pleafant, frequently ufes
the word Menoeices, which imports their fuitablenefs to
the mind ; becaufe the impreflions of pleafure are re
ceived by the foul without any repugnance or oppofition.
Inflamed eyes love to dwell on brown dark colours, and
ihtm fuch as are bright and glaring. Thus it is with
a people involved in difficulties and calamities ; they are
fo apt to be alarmed upon the flighteit occafions, and
their minds are fo enfeebled by diftrefs, that they can-
not bear any freedom of fpeech, even when the neceility


(0 For they never burnt the was fet apart to be fluffed and
pounch or the tongue with the ferved up at table, and the tongue,
reft of the viftim. The paunch was burnt on the altar at the end


P H O C I O N. 5

of their affairs moft requires it. It is a vjfv hazardous
tafk to govern fuch a people ; for,.^ v|j$?WHprs them
perifhes with them, and he who\* lfcta-4heui the truth
. falls a facrifice beforehand to their re&ntment.

The mathematicians fay that the fun does nqfrriove
entirely the fame way as the heavens, nor yjjHJfff'
rection quite oppofite, but circulating with a* ' jentle*
and almoft infenfible obliquity, communicates his heat
in fuch proportions as to produce that juft mixture of
the elements by which the frame of the world is fup-
ported. Thus in a ftate, .that adminiftration which
continually thwarts the inclinations of the people, will
become odious by fuch unnecefiary rigour ; and on the
other hand, too ready a compliance with the unreafon-
able humours of the giddy multitude (on which fide
ftatefmen moft commonly err) endangers the {lability
of the government. The moft falutary fcheme of po-
licy is that which indulges and yields to. the people in
fome inftances while they continue in a due fubmilTion
to the laws, but exacts from them fuitable returns of
fervice. For fuch a moderate and condefcending treat-
ment will engage fubjects to concur in fchemes which
they would have oppofed if attempts were made to ex-
tort their compliance by mere arbitrary force. This
juft mixture of authority and indulgence is indeed diffi
cult to be accomplished ; but if it can be attained, the
moft enchanting ftrains of mufick give not fuch delight
to the ear as this fublime harmony affords to the mind.
It is thus that the Deity governs the world, not forcibly
over-ruling nature, but with a gentle though irrefiftiblc
influence, guiding all her motions to effect his wile

The example of Cato the younger is a proof of this ;
whofe manners were far from being engaging and
agreeable to the people, and who in his publick con-
duct never made it his ftudy to ingratiate himfelf with
them ; " for he behaved," (3) as Cicero obferves," rather as

" if

of the entertainment, and had li- Homer's Odyfiey.
bations poured upon it. Of this (2) Soph. Antig. . 573.
we meet with many examples in (3) The paflage here alluded

A 3

6 fte L I F E of

" if he had lived in the commonwealth of Plato, than
" among the dregs oT Romulus's pofterity, to which was
" owino 1 his repulfe in his pretenfions to the Confuifhip."
The fame thing happened to him, in my opinion, as
we obferie in fruits ripe out of feafon, which we rather
gazeat and admire, than ufe; for his old-fafhioned vir-
tue, amidft the luxury and corruption which time had
introduced, appeared indeed noble and fplendid, but
fuited not the prefect exigencies, being di {proportioned
to the manners of the age, and, as it were, too ponder-
ous and unwieldy for ufe. Yet his circumftances were
not altogether like Phocion's, who came to the helm
when the ftate was juft finking. Cato's time was, in-
deed, ftormy and tempeftuous ; but he only acted an un-
der part ; he fat not at the helm, but aflifted in managing
the fails and tackle, and lent his helping hand to thofe
that {leered : his manly refolution gave fortune a talk of
time and difficulty in ruining the commonwealth ; and
he had almoft prevailed againfl her, and Rome had like
to have triumphed over Tier by his afliftance, and the
efficacy of his virtue, which we are now to compare with
that of Phocion, not only in the common refemblances
that appear amongft great men, and ftatefmen ; for in-
deed there is fome difference in virtues of the fame de-
nomination, as in the valour of Alcibiades and Epaminon-
das, the prudenceof Themiftocles and Ariflides, the jtiftice
of Numa and Agefilaus : but thefe mens virtues are the
fame, even to the moft minute differences, .having the
fame colour, ftamp, and character imprefied upon them,
fo as not to be diftinguifhable ; their aufterity was tem-
pered with lenity, their valour with caution ; they had
the fame care and folicitude for others, and the fame
difregard for their own fafety ; the fame deteftation of
every thing bafe and di (honourable, and the fame im-
moveable bent towards virtue and juftice. So that it
requires the niceft art and judgment exactly to weigh


to by Plutarch is in Cicero's firft " tamen ille optimo animo utens,
epiftle of the iecond book to At- " & fumma fide, nocet interdum
ticus. " NamCatonemnoftrura, " reip. Dicit enim tanquam in
'- noji tu aa;a.s plus quara ego. Sed " Platonis ^ro^lTla, non tanquam


P H O C I O N. 7

and diftin&ly to exprefs the difference of their talents
and difpofitions. t

As to Cato's extraction, it is confefled by all to be
illuflrious, (as we fhall mention hereafter) and we may
believe Phocion's was not obfcure or ignoble ; for had he
been the Ton of a turner, (as Idomeneus reports)*it had
certainly been remembered to his difparagement by
Hyperides the (on of Glaucippus, who has collected and
uttered a thousand opprobrious things againft him :
nor indeed \vculd it have been pofTible for him in that
cafe to have had fuch a liberal education ; for when lie
was very young lu was Plato's fcholar, and afterwards
a hearer of Xenocrates in the academy, being from his
childhood addicted to the moft excellent and valuable
fludies. Duris tells us that no Athenian ever faw him
laugh or cry, nor go into the publick baths, nor move
his hand from under hit cloak when he appeared drefled
in publick. When abroad, and in the camp, he went
always thinly clad and barefooted, unlefs the froft was
vehement and intolerable ; fo that the foldiers ufed to
fay in merriment, " See, Phocion has got his cloaths on,
" that is a fign of a hard winter." Although he was of

<J *~J

moft eafy converfation and great humanity, his appear-
ance was morofe and four, fo that he was feldom accofted
by any that were ftrangers to him : wherefore when Chares
the orator reproached him once for his fupercilious afpect,
and the Athenians feemed pleafed to hear it, Phocion re-
plied, " The fternnefs of my countenance never made any
tc of you fad, but the mirth of thole fneerers has coft you
" many a tear." In like manner his difcourfe was grave,
nervous, wife and inftru&ive, fententioufly fhort, im-
perious and auftere, and without any grace or erna-
ment. Zeno fays that a philofopher ought not to drop
a word but what is thoroughly tintiured with good
fenfe ; and fuch a fpeaker was Phocion, who crouded
much into little room : and to this probably Polyeudus


" inRomulifeccfcntentiam." But happen till eight years after the
there is not a word here of the re- date of that epiltle, as Xylander
pulfe he met with when he put up and Cruferius have oblcrved.
for the confulfliip. which did not

A 4 ('.) Thla

S fhe L I F E of

the Sphettian alluded, when he faid, that Demoflhenes
was indeed the better orator, but Phocion the moft
powerful fpeaker ; for his words were to be eftimated
like coins, from the intrinfick .value of the metal, not
from the bulk. He was obferved once, when the the-
atre \flas filled with fpectators, to walk mufmg alone be-
hind the fcenes ; upon which one of his friends faid,
" Phocion, you feem very thoughtful ; I ara fb indeed,"
replied he, " for I am confidering how to retrench fomc-
u thing in a fpeech I am to make to the Athenians."
Demofthenes, who entertained a thorough contempt of
the other orators, ufed to whifper to his friends that were
near him, when Phocion rofe up to fpeak, " This is the
" pruning-hook of my periods." But this perhaps was
owing to the authority of the man fmcenot only a word,
but even a nod, from a perfon who is reverenced for his
virtue, is of more weight than themofh elaborate fpeeches
of others.

In his youth he ferved under Chabrias, at that time
general, whom he highly honoured, and by whofe in-
ftructions he was greatly improved in military know-
ledge. In return Phocion helped Chabrias to correct his
temper which was irregular and capricious : for though
he was otherwife heavy and phlcgmatick, he was fo fired
and tranfported in battle, that he threw himfelf headlong
into danger beyond the forwardefl ; which indeed coft
him his life in the ifland of Chio, where he made it a
point to get in firfl with his galley, and to force a de-
fcent in fpite of the enemy. But Phocion being a man
of caution as well as courage, fometimes^ roufed him
when he was fluggifh and inactive, and at other times
moderated his unreafonable fury and impetuofity.
Upon which account Chabrias, who was a good-na-
tured man, loved him extremely, preferred him /in the
army, and by employing him in affairs of the greateft
moment, made him known throughout all Greece. Par-
ticularly in the fea-fight at Naxos, he gave Phocion an
opportunity of acquiring very great reputation ; for he
committed to him the command of the left fpuadron,
v/here the fight was hotteft, and where the controverfy



was foon decided by a fignal victory in favour of the
Athenians. As this was the firft victory obtained by the
Athenians at fe'a with their own iorces over the GR
fmce the taking of their city, they cxpreffed the greatcft
affection for Chabrias, arid began to confider Phocion as
a man capable of the higheft employments. This vic-
tory happened during the celebration of the great myf-
terics; and Chabrias in commemoration of it appointed
an annual distribution of wine to the Athenians on the
fixteenth day of Eoedromion [September,] on which it
was obtained.

Soon after this Chabrias fent Phocion to the iflands to
demand their contributions, and offered him a guard of
twenty fail ; but Phocion told him, " If he intended that
" he fhould go againft them as enemies, that force was ir-
" fignificant ; if he went to them as friends and allies, one
" veifel was fufficient. He therefore took only one galley,
and having vifited the cities, and treated with their go-
vernors in a fincere and open manner, he returned to A-
thens with all the money due from the allies, which he
(hipped on board feveral gallies furjiifhed by them for that
purpofe. Phocion's refpect for Chabrias did not end with
the life of that General ; for after his death he expreiled
a particular concern for all his relations, efpecially for
his fon Ctefippus, whom he laboured to render a good
and valuable man; and though he knew him to be a
fenfelefs untractable youth, he was not difcouraged ne-
verthelefs, but tried every method to rectify his diipofiti-
on, and conceal his follies. Once indeed in one of his ex-
peditions, when the young man behaved very imperti-
nently, afked a great many -improper queflions, and
putting on the air of a General took upon him to inftruct
Phocion himfelf, he cried out, " O Chabrias, Chabrias!
u how great an acknowledgment do I make thee for
" thy friendfhip towards me, in bearing with thy Ion!

Obferving that thole who had the management of pub-
lick affairs had, as if it were by lot, icparately difhibut-
cd the civil and the military offices; that fome, among
whom were Eubulus, Ariftophon, Demoflhenes, Lycur-
gus, and Hypcridcs, employed tliemfelves only in haran-

J0 The L I F E of

guing the people, and propofmg laws ; and that others,
as Diopithes, Meneftheus, Leofthenes, and Chares, ad-
vanced themfelves by the military profeflion only ; he
was defirous to reftore that method of adminiitration
which was pra&ifed by Pericles, Ariflides, and Solon,
wherein the fame perfon a&ed both parts ; for each of
them was, to ufe Archilochus's words,

Mars and the Mufes friends alike defign'd,
fa arts and arms indifferently inclined.

And he confidered that Minerva was fliled the patrouefs
of both civil and military arts.

Phocion- having formed himfelf upon this model, en-
deavoured always 'to promote peace and tranquillity;
yet he was engaged in more wars than any, not only of
his contemporaries, but even of his predeceffors ; not
that he was fond of, or courted military employments,
but he would not decline them when he was called to
them by his country. For it is well known that he was
forty-five times chofen General of the Athenians, and
that he was never once, prefent at the election, but was
always named in his abfence, and fent- for to take upon
him the command : infomuch that thofe of little difcern-
ment wondered to fee the people always prefer Phocion,
who was fo far from humouring them, or courting their
favour, that he always thwarted and oppofed them.
But as princes ufe their buffoons and jeflers at their
meals, for their fport and merriment, fo the Athenians
upon (light occafions entertained themfelves with their
more elegant and accomplifhed orators -, but they were
fo fober and confiderate as to chufe the graveft and wi-
ieft for publick employments, and to prefer to all others
a man who continually oppoftd their humours and incli-
nations. This he made no fcruple to own one day,
when an oracle from Delphi was read in full aflembly,
which informed them, " that the reft of the citizens be-
" ing unanimous, there was one perfon among them
" who diffented from the general opinion." Whereupon
he rofe up and told them, " He was the perfon meant
" by the Oracle, and that they need look no further, for

" that

P H O C 1 O N. u

" that in fhort he diiliked their proceedings." Happen-
ing at another time to give his opinion in a cafe that
under debate, and finding it was received with general
applaufe, he turned about to fomeof his friends, and atk-
cd them " if any foolifh thing had dropped from him un-
" awares ?

One day when the Athenians were making a collection
for the charge of a public facrifice, and he was importuned
to contribute, he bid them " apply themfelves to the
" wealthy," faying, " that for his part hefhould blnfli to
" give them any thing, whilft he was in debt to that man,"
pointing to Callicles the ufurer. Being flill urged in a
clamorous manner, he told them this tale : " A certain
" cov/ard was once fetting out for the wars ; but hearing
" the ravens croak, he threw down his arms, and flood
" flill ; recollecting himfelf a little after, he adventured
*' out again, but (till hearing the fame noife, he made a,
" full flop ; and at laft he faid, You may croak as loud
" as you pleafc, but you mall never tafte my carcafe.

The Athenians urging him at an unfeafonable time to
fall upon the enemy, he peremptorily refu/ed ; and be-
ing upbraided by them with cowardiie and pufillanimi-
ty, he faid to them, " You cannot make me valiant at this
" time, nor can I make you timorous ; however we know
" one another very well." In time of fecurity the people
were very infolent and fevere towards him, demanding
a ftrict account of his conduct ; but he bid them w be
" aiTured of their fafety before they enquired about other
u things." The people being extremely timorous and
humble in times of danger, but very arrogant after peace
was concluded, and clamouring againftPhocion, as one
that envied them the honour of victory, he faid, " My
" friends you are happy you have a leader who knows
" you, otherwife you had long fincebeen undone."

In a controverfy they had with the Boeotians about their
boundaries, which the Athenians were not for deciding
by treaty, but by war, he ad vi fed them " rather to fight
" with words, in which they had the advantage, than
" with arms, in which they were inferior." At another
time, when they difreiifhed what he had propofed, and
would not furTcr him to go on, he faid, " You may force


I2 The L I F E of

" me to do what I would not, but you mall never force me
" againft my judgment to fpeak what I ought not." De-
mofthenes, one of thofe orators that oppofed him in the ad-
miniftration, faid to him one day, Phocion, " the Atheni-
" ans will kill thee fome time or other in fome of their mad
" fits : and thee," faid he, " if ever they come to their
" fenfes." As Polyeuctus the Sphettian was one day in
cxcefiively hot weather haranguing the people, and inci-
ting them to declare war againft Philip, being very cor-
pulent, heranhimfelf out of breath, and fvveated violent-
ly, fo that he was forced to drink feveral draughts of
cold water before he could finifh his difcourfe; which
Phocion obferving faid, " You .ought certainly to declare
*' war againft Philip upon the word of this man ; for what
c are you not to expect from his prowefs when he march-
" es armed againft the enemy, when. you fee he cannot fo
" much as repeat what he has been compofing at his lei-
" fare, without running the hazard of being fufTocated ?"
As Lycurgus was one day inveighing fcurriloufly againft
him in an aflembly of the people, and among other things
accufed him of having advifed the Athenians to deliver
ten of their orators as hoftages to Alexander, who had
fent to demand them, he faid, " I have indeed given
" the Athenians much good advice in my time, but
" they never had the wit to follow it.

There was a man called Archibiades, furnamed La-
coniftes, becaufe he affected to imitate the Lacedaemoni-
ans ; his beard was of an enormous length, his cloak
was old and thread-bare, and his afpect fullen and mo-
rofe. Phocion being one day teafed and contradicted
by the reft in the publick affembly, appealed to this
man for the truth of what he advanced, as to his advo-
cate and compurgator : but finding when he began to
fpeak, that he foothed and flattered the people, he took
him by the beard, and cried, " Nay, Archibiades, if you
" turn flatterer, by all means cut offyour beard." Arifto-
getion the fycophant was a great buftler in the aflem-
blies, and was continually urging the Athenians to war ;
but when they were levying men for the fervice, he
came into the aflembly limping on a crutch, with a



bandage on his leg ; Phocion fpied him afar off, and
cried out from his feat, " Set down Ariftogetion too for
a coward and a cripple." It may be a matter of wonder
to fome, how a man fo ftern and fevere as Phocion was,
fliould notwithftanding acquire among the people the
furname of Good and Gentle ; but I am of opinion that
though it be difficult,- it is not impoiTible for the fame
man to have both the auftere and gentle blended in his
temper, as in fome wines we find the fweet and the four
equally predominant. Others there are on the contrary,
who feem mild and agrcable, but upon a nearer ac-
quaintance are di (covered to be fro ward and malevo-
lent. It is faid of Hyperides the orator, that apologiz-
ing once for the feverity and bitternefs with which he
fpoke, he defired the Athenians " to confider if in that
44 bitternefs of his he could have any view to his own
" private profit or advantage." As if the people were
to reject and avoid thofe only whom avarice had made
troublefome and offenfive, and not much rather fuch who
made an ill ufe of their authority to gratify their pride,
envy, anger, or ambition. But Phocion had no perib-
nal hatred to any one, nor did he look upon any man as
an enemy ; but againft thofe who oppofed his defigns
for the publick good he was obftinately and inflexibly
fevere. As to his behaviour in general, it was eafy,
courteous, and obliging to all, fo that he would ailift
every one in diflreis, and efpoufe the caufe even of
thofe who had moil oppofed him, when they were un-
der profecution. His friends reproaching him for
pleading in behalf of an ill man, he told them, " The
44 innocent had no occafion for an advocate." Ariflogeiton
the fycophant having been convicted, fent to Phccion,
and defired earneftly to fpeak with him in prifbn, where
he lay confined. His friends difluadcd him from going,
but he replied, " I know no place where I would ib
4 ' willingly give Ariftogeiton a meeting."

As for the allies of the Athenians, and the inhabitants
of the iflands, whenever any admiral befides Phocion
was fent, they treated him as an enemy, barricadoed
their gates, blocked up their havens, and removed


I4 the L I F E of

their cattle, fl-ivcs, wives and children out of the coun-
try into the cities -, but upon Phocion's arrival, they
went out in their Chips to meet him at a great diftance
crowned with garlands, and conducted him into their
ports with great demonftrations of joy.

King Philip intending to furprize Eubcea, tranfported a
body of Macedonians thither, and won the cities over to his
intereft by the management of the tyrants, who had the
government in their hands. Upon this Plutarch of Eretria
called in the Athenians, conjuring them to come and de-
liver the ifland out of the hands of the Macedonians, who
had already poffefTed themfelves of it. Phocion was in-
ftantly difpatched with only a fmall force, becaufe it was
expected that all the iflanders would join with him im-
mediately upon his arrival. But upon trial he found the
ifland in the utmoft diforder, it being betrayed and ruin-
ed by the money which Philip had diflributed there ;
infomuch that he ran the greateft rifque imaginable. He
therefore feized on a fmall rifing ground, which was fe-
parated from the plain of Tamynse by a deep ditch.
This he fortified, and inclofed in it the choiceft of his
army, directing his captains not to mind fuch as were
prating, mutinous, and cowardly, though they mould
draggle from the camp or defert. " For," faid he,
** they will not only be diforderly and ungovernable
** themfelves, but be a hinderance to the reft; and
" befides, being confcious to themfelves of the neglect of

Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 41)