Plutarch's lives (Volume 5) online

. (page 1 of 54)
Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 54)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook







ISTrttion fie (Sfranfi Hujre



2Hje !£oition lie @ranb %uxt at $lutarri)'0 ILtbes ano

aCirittngs is limitrt to ©nt JEljousano sets, of
toijfcfj tljtg is No.

Cicero's Oration against Catiline.
From the painting by Theodor Orosse.







in five volumes
Volumk Five




Palma non sine
pulvere * r r



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1859,

By Little, Brown, and Company,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.

Copyright, 1905,
By Little, Brown, and Company.

S.J. Parkhill & Co., Boston, U. S. A.



Life of Demosthenes ........ 1

Life of Cicero ........ 35

Comparison of Cicero with Demosthenes . . . .89

Life of Demetrius ........ 95

Life of Antony ......... 155

Comparison of Antony with Demetrius . . . 240

Life of Dion 245

Life of Marcus Brutus ....... 302

Comparison of Marcus Brutus with Dion . . . 362

Life of Aratus 367

Life of Artaxerxes . . . . . . . .421

Life of Galba ........ 456

Life of Otho ......... 487

Appendix ......... 507

Index of Historical and Geographical Proper Names . 515
Index for reference as to the Pronunciation of Proper

Names 609



Cicero's Oration against Catiline . . . Frontispiece

From the painting by Theodor Grosse.

Hercules, Farnese ....... Page 158

From a sculpture in the National Museum, Naples.

Mark Antony's Oration over the body of Caesar . " 168

From the painting by J. D. Court.

Galea "458

From a sculpture in the Capitoline Museum, Rome.

Otho " 496

From a sculpture in the Vatican Museum, Rome.


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 happiness, which for the most part is
placed in the qualities and disposition 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-look-
ing 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 re-
moved, like a small eye-sore, from the port of Piraeus,
should breed good actors and poets,* 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 undistinguished 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

* Simonides, the lyric poet, was tioned in the account, further on,
born at Iulis in Ceos ; and Polus, of Demosthenes's death, was a na-
the celebrated actor, who is men- tive of JEgina.

VOL. V. 1 1


that is industrious. I, for my part, shall desire that for
any deficiency of mine in right judgment or action, 1
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 collected 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, un-
doubtedly, it is in the first place and above all things
most necessary, to reside in some city of good note, ad-
dicted to liberal arts, and populous ; where he may have
plenty of all sorts of books, and upon inquiry may hear
and inform himself of such particulars as, having escaped
the pens of writers, are more faithfully 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 continue, 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 knowledge of words, that I came to the under-
standing of things, as by my experience of things I was
enabled to follow the meaning of words. But to appre-
ciate the graceful and ready pronunciation of the Roman
tongue, to understand the various figures and connection
of words, and such other ornaments, in which the beauty
of speaking consists, is, I doubt not, an admirable and
delightful accomplishment ; 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 account 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 Csecilius perhaps forgot, when he em-
ployed his always adventurous talents in so ambitious an
attempt as a comparison of Demosthenes and Cicero: and,
possibly, if it were a thing obvious and easy for every
man to know himself, the precept had not passed for an

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 coinci-
dences 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, sur-
named the Sword-maker, because he had a large work-
house, and kept servants skilful 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 coun-
try upon an accusation of treason, and of a barbarian
woman, I can affirm nothing, whether he spoke true, or
slandered and maligned her. This is certain, that Demos-
thenes, 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 educa-
tion 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 enervated 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 the name of Argas, which also they say was a nick-
name of Demosthenes, was given him for his behavior, as
being savage and spiteful, argas being one of the poeti-
cal words for a snake ; or for his disagreeable way of
speaking, Argas being the name of a poet, who com-


posed 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, Demos-
thenes, having heard the tutors and schoolmasters agree-
ing 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 doorkeepers, procured a place where the boy
might sit unseen, and hear what was said. Callistratus
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 multitude ; 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
learning 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 Isseus as his
guide to the art of speaking, though Isocrates 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 minse, or because he preferred
Isaeus'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 men-
tions Ctesibius, as reporting from Callias of Syracuse and
some others, that Demosthenes secretly obtained a knowl-


edge of the systems of Isocrates and Alcidamas, and mas-
tered 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 re-
course to various subterfuges and pleas for new trials,
and Demosthenes, though he was thus, as Thucydides
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
Orchomenian, that by advice of his physician, he used to
run long distances 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,* 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
cumbered with long sentences and tortured with forma]
arguments to a most harsh and disagreeable excess.
Besides, he had, it seems, a weakness in his voice, a per-
plexed and indistinct utterance and a shortness of breath,

* The Olympic, Pythian, Isthmi- victors were crowned with gar-
&n and Nemean Games, where the lands.


which, by breaking and disjointing his sentences, much
obscured the sense and meaning of what he spoke. So
that in the end, being quite disheartened, he forsook the
assembly ; and as he was walking carelessly and saunter-
ing about the Piraeus, Eunomus, the Thriasian, then a very
old man, seeing him, upbraided him, saying that his dic-
tion 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, they relate that Satyrus, the actor,
followed him, and being his familiar acquaintance, en-
tered into conversation with him. To whom, when De-
mosthenes bemoaned himself, that having been the most
industrious of all the pleaders, and having almost spent
the whole strength and vigor of his body in that employ-
ment, 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,"
replied 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 ges-
ture, 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 exer-
cise himself in declaiming, if he neglected enunciation
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 exercise his voice ; and here he would
continue, oftentimes without intermission, 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 pres-
ent 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 indus-
try. 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 Demosthenes 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 persua-
sion. Of his want of courage and assurance to speak off
hand, 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 ob-
served to do the same for Demades.

Whence then, may some say, was it, that iEschines
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 Athe-
nians, that Demosthenes alone stood up to oppose him ?
Or, when Lamachus, the Myrinsean, had written a pane-
gyric 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 historically
and demonstratively what benefits and advantages all
Greece had received from the Thebans and Chalcidians,
and on the contrary, what mischiefs the flatterers of the
Macedonians had brought upon it, so turned the minds of
all that were present that the sophist, 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 reserve and his sustained manner, and his
forbearing to speak on the sudden, or upon every occa-
sion, as being the things to which principally he owed his

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


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 bold-
ness and confidence in them than those that he wrote, if
we may believe Eratosthenes, Demetrius the Phalerian,
and the Comedians. Eratosthenes says that often in his
speaking he would be transported into a kind of ecstasy,
and Demetrius, that he uttered the famous metrical adju-
ration to the people,

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

as a man inspired, and beside himself. One of the come-
dians 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 ad-
vised the Athenians not to take at Philip's hands, but to
take back.f

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

* A loud declaimer about petty expressly understood that they took

matters ; from rhopos, small wares, it back ; Philip had no right to give

and perperos, a loud talker. what it was his duty to give back.

t Halonesus had belonged to The distinction thus put was appar-

Atheus, but had been seized by ently the subject of a great deal of

pirates, from whom Philip took it. pleasantry. Athenasus quotes five

He was willing to make a present other passages from the comic wri-

"of it to the Athenians, but Demos- ters, playing upon it in the same

thenes warned them not on any way.
account to take it, unless it were


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 philos-
sopher reports, that Polyeuctus, the Sphettian, one of the
Athenian politicians about that 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 him-
self, 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 Demosthenes 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 stam-
mering 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 Demos-
thenes, " 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?"
u Ah," replied Demosthenes, " now I hear the voice of one


that has been injured and beaten." Of so great conse-
quence 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 concerning the an-
cient 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.* His written speeches, beyond all
question, are characterized by austere tone and by their
severity. In his extempore retorts and rejoinders, he
allowed himself the use of jest and mockery. When
Demades said, " Demosthenes teach me ! So might the
sow teach Minerva ! " he replied, " Was it this Minerva,
that was lately found playing the harlot in Collytus ? " f
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, ye
men of Athens, at the many robberies which are com-
mitted, since we have thieves of brass and walls of clay."
But on these points, though we have much more to men-

* iEsion was a fellow scholar ently, the more agreeable part of

with Demosthenes. The compari- Athens. Plutarch, consoling a

son in his remarks gives the supe- friend who was banished from his

riority in manner to the old speak- native city, tells him people cannot

Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives (Volume 5) → online text (page 1 of 54)