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_Late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge_



_Formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge_






[_Reprinted from Stereotype plates_.]


LIFE OF CAIUS MARIUS (_By G. Long_.) 221
LIFE OF SULLA (_By G. Long_.) 317
LIFE OF LUCULLUS (_By G. Long_.) 414



I. Cato the elder, speaking to some persons who were praising a man of
reckless daring and audacity in war, observed that there is a
difference between a man's setting a high value on courage, and
setting a low value on his own life - and rightly. For a daring soldier
in the army of Antigonus, but of broken and ill health, being asked by
the king the reason of his paleness, confessed that he was suffering
from some secret disorder. When then the king, anxious for him,
charged his physicians to use the greatest care in their treatment, if
a cure were possible, at length this brave fellow, being restored to
health, was no longer fond of peril and furious in battle, so that
Antigonus reproved him, and expressed surprise at the change. The man
made no secret of his reason, but answered: "My, king, you have made
me less warlike by freeing me from those miseries on account of which
I used to hold my life cheap." And the Sybarite seems to have spoken
to the same effect about the Spartans, when he said that "they do no
great thing by dying in the wars in order to escape from such labours
and such a mode of life as theirs." However, no wonder if the
Sybarites, effete with luxurious debauchery, thought men mad who
despised death for love of honour and noble emulation; whereas the
Lacedæmonians were enabled by their valour both to live and to die
with pleasure, as the elegy shows, which runs thus:

"'Twas not that life or death itself was good,
That these heroic spirits shed their blood:
This was their aim, and this their latest cry,
'Let us preserve our honour, live or die.'"

For neither is avoidance of death blameable, if a man does not cling
to his life from dishonourable motives; nor is exposure to peril
honourable, if it springs from carelessness of life. For this reason
Homer always brings the most daring and warlike heroes into battle
well and beautifully armed, and the Greek lawgivers punish the man who
throws away his shield, but not him who throws away his sword or
spear, showing that it is each man's duty to take more care that he
does not receive hurt himself, than to hurt the enemy, especially if
he be the chief of an army or city.

II. For if, as Iphikrates defined it, the light troops resemble the
hands, the cavalry the feet, the main body the breast and trunk, and
the general the head, then it would appear that he, if he runs into
danger and shows personal daring, risks not only his own life, but
that of all those whose safety depends upon him; and _vice versâ_.
Wherefore Kallikratidas, although otherwise a great man, yet did not
make a good answer to the soothsayer; for when he begged him to beware
of death, which was presaged by the sacrifices, he replied that Sparta
had more men besides himself. No doubt, in fighting either by sea or
land[1] Kallikratidas only counted for one, but as a general, he
combined in his own person the strength of all the rest, so that he by
whose death so many perished, was indeed more than one. A better
answer was that of old Antigonus, who, as he was about to begin a
sea-fight off Andros, some one having said that the enemy's fleet was
the more numerous, asked, "And for how many do you count
_me_?" - setting a high value, as is due, upon a skilful and brave
leader, whose first duty is to keep safe him who preserves all the

So Timotheus said well, when Chares was displaying to the Athenians
the wounds on his body, and his shield pierced by a dart. "Now I,"
said he, "when I was besieging Samos, was quite ashamed if an arrow
fell near me, thinking that I was exposing myself more boyishly than
was fitting for the general and leader of so important a force." In
cases where the personal risk of the general is of great moment to
his army, then he must fight and expose himself without stint, and
disregard those who say that a general should die of old age, or at
any rate, when an old man. But where the gain is small in case of
success, while failure ruins everything, no one demands that the work
of the common soldier be performed at the risk of the general's life.

These prefatory remarks occurred to me in writing the Lives of
Pelopidas and Marcellus, great men who fell in a manner scarce worthy
of themselves: for being both of them most stout in battle, and having
each illustrated his country by splendid campaigns, against, too, the
most terrible antagonists - the one, as we read, having routed
Hannibal, who before was invincible, and the other having in a pitched
battle conquered the Lacedæmonians, the ruling state by sea and
land - yet they without any consideration endangered themselves and
flung away their lives just at the time when there was special need
for such men to live and command. And on this account I have drawn a
parallel between their lives, tracing out the points of resemblance
between them.

III. The family of Pelopidas, the son of Hippokles, was an honourable
one at Thebes, as likewise was that of Epameinondas. Bred in great
affluence, and having early succeeded to a splendid inheritance, he
showed eagerness to relieve the deserving poor, that he might prove
that he had become the master, not the servant of his riches. In most
cases, Aristotle observes, men either do not use their wealth through
narrow-mindedness, or else abuse it through extravagance, and the one
class are always the slaves of their pleasures, the other of their

Now, while all other persons gratefully made use of Pelopidas's
liberality and kindness, Epameinondas alone could not be induced to
share his wealth; he thereupon shared the other's poverty, priding
himself on simplicity of dress and plainness of food, endurance of
fatigue, and thoroughness in the performance of military service; like
Kapaneus, in Euripides, who "had plenty of wealth, but was far from
proud on account of his wealth," for he felt ashamed to be seen using
more bodily luxuries than the poorest Theban citizen. Epameinondas,
whose poverty was hereditary, made it lighter and more easily borne
by the practice of philosophy, and by choosing from the beginning a
single life; while Pelopidas made a brilliant marriage and had
children born to him, yet, in spite of this, diminished his fortune by
disregard of money-making and by giving up all his time to the service
of his country. And when his friends blamed him, and said that he was
treating lightly a necessary of life, the possession of money,
"Necessary, indeed," he answered, "for Nikodemus here," pointing to a
man who was a cripple and blind.

IV. They were both alike in nobleness of spirit, save that Pelopidas
took more pleasure in bodily exercise, and Epameinondas in learning,
and that the one in his leisure time frequented the palæstra and the
hunting field, while the other would listen to and discuss philosophy.
And though they have both many titles to glory, yet judicious persons
think nothing so much to their credit as that their friendship should
have remained from beginning to end unimpaired through so many
important crises, campaigns, and administrations. For any one who
considers the administrations of Aristeides and Themistokles, and
Kimon and Perikles, and Nikias and Alkibiades, how full they were of
mutual enmity, distrust, and jealousy, and then contrasts them with
the kindness and respect shown by Pelopidas to Epameinondas, will
pronounce with truth these men to have really been colleagues in
government and war rather than those who were constantly struggling to
get the better of one another instead of the enemy. The true cause of
this was their virtue, guided by which they sought no glory or gain
for themselves from their deeds, from which envious rivalry always
results, but both, inflamed by a noble desire to see their country
reach its climax of power and renown in their own time, used one
another's successes for this purpose as if they were their own. Not
but what most people think that their closest friendship arose from
the campaign of Mantinea, which they made with a contingent sent from
Thebes to serve with the Lacedæmonians, who were then their friends
and allies. Stationed together in the ranks,[2] and fighting against
the Arcadians, when the wing of the Lacedæmonian army in which they
were gave way, and many took to flight, they closed up together and
beat off their assailants. Pelopidas, having received seven wounds in
front, fell down upon a heap of slain, friends and enemies together;
but Epameinondas, though he thought him desperately[3] hurt, ran
forward and stood in defence of his body and arms, risking his life
alone against a multitude, determined to die rather than leave
Pelopidas lying there. He too was in evil plight, with a spear wound
in the breast, and a sword-cut on the arm, when Agesipolis, the
Spartan king, came to the rescue from the other wing, and most
unexpectedly saved the lives of both.

V. After this, the Spartans behaved towards Thebes outwardly as
friends and allies, but really viewed with suspicion the spirit and
strength of that state. They especially disliked the club presided
over by Ismenias and Androkleides, of which Pelopidas was a member, as
being of democratic and revolutionary principles. Consequently Archias
and Leontidas[4] and Philippus, men of the aristocratic party, wealthy
and unscrupulous, persuaded Phœbidas, a Laconian who was passing
through the town with an armed force, to seize the Kadmeia[5] by
surprise, and, banishing the party that opposed them, establish an
aristocratic oligarchy which would be subservient to Sparta.

He was persuaded to do this, and attacked the unsuspecting Thebans
during the feast of Thesmophoria. When he gained possession of the
height, Ismenias was seized and conveyed to Lacedæmon, and there not
long afterwards made away with. Pelopidas, Pherenikus, and
Androkleides, with many others, went into exile and were outlawed by
proclamation. Epameinondas stayed at home disregarded, not being
thought to be a man of action, because of his philosophical habits,
nor a man of any power, because of his poverty.

VI. When the Lacedæmonians removed Phœbidas from his command and fined
him a hundred thousand drachmas, but nevertheless held the Kadmeia
with a garrison, all the other Greeks wondered at their inconsistency,
in punishing the doer but approving of the deed; but the Thebans, who
had lost their old constitution and were now held in bondage by the
party of Archias and Leontidas, had lost all hope of release from
their tyrants, who they perceived were merely acting as a guard to the
Spartan supremacy in Greece, and therefore could not be put a stop to,
unless their enterprise by sea and land could also be checked.
However, Leontidas and his party, learning that the exiles were living
at Athens, and were popular with the people there, and respected by
the upper classes, began to plot against them, and by sending thither
men who were unknown to the exiles, they killed Androkleides by
stratagem, but failed with the others. There came also despatches from
Lacedæmon to the Athenians, ordering them not to take them in nor to
meddle in the matter, but to banish the exiles, on the ground that
they had been proclaimed to be public enemies by their allies. But the
Athenians, who besides their natural and innate kindness were
returning a debt of gratitude to the Thebans, who had been main
instruments in the re-establishment of their government, and had
decreed that if an Athenian should march in arms against the tyrants
through Bœotia, no Bœotian should see or hear him, did the Theban
exiles no harm.

VII. Now Pelopidas, although one of the youngest of the exiles, yet
used to encourage each of them separately, and would make speeches to
them all, pointing out that it was both dishonourable and wicked for
them to endure to see their country enslaved and garrisoned by
foreigners, and, caring only to save their own lives, to shelter
themselves behind decrees of the Athenians, and to pay servile court
to the orators who had influence with the people. Rather was it, he
urged, their duty to run the greatest risk, taking pattern by the
courage and patriotism of Thrasybulus, so that, as he once, starting
from Thebes, drove out the thirty tyrants from Athens, they also in
their turn, starting from Athens, might set Thebes free. When then he
prevailed with these arguments, they sent secretly to Thebes to
communicate their determination to such of their friends as were left
there. They agreed, and Charon, who was the leading man among them,
offered his house for their reception, and Phillidas proceeded to act
as secretary to the polemarchs, Archias and Philippus. Epameinondas
had long been instilling feelings of patriotism into the youth of
Thebes; for in the gymnasia he would bid them lay hold of the
Lacedæmonians and wrestle with them, and then seeing them pluming
themselves on their success, he would upbraid them, telling them that
they ought rather to feel ashamed at being, through their own
cowardice, in bondage to men whom they so greatly excelled in

VIII. When a day was fixed on for the attempt, the exiles determined
that Pherenikus, with the main body, should remain in the Thriasian[6]
plain, while a few of the youngest men ran the risk of entering the
city; and if anything were to befall these men, the others would take
care that neither their parents nor their children should want for
necessaries. First Pelopidas volunteered for the attempt, then Mellon
and Damokleides and Theopompus, men of the first families, faithful
friends to one another, and ever rivals in glory and bravery. Having
made up a party of twelve in all, and embraced those who were to stay,
and sent a messenger before them to Charon, they set out, dressed in
short cloaks, with hounds and carrying stakes for hunting nets, so
that no one whom they met on the road might suspect them, but that
they might seem to be merely ranging about the country and hunting.
When their messenger reached Charon, and told him that they were on
their way, Charon did not, even now that the danger was close to him,
falter in his determination, but acted like an honourable man, and
received them into his house. But one Hipposthenides, not a bad man,
but one who loved his country and favoured the exiles, yet proved
wanting in that audacity which this emergency, a hazardous one indeed,
and the attempt they had in hand, required.

Apparently the importance of the issue with which he was dealing
turned him dizzy; he with difficulty grasped the idea that, trusting
in the desperate hopes of exiles, these men were in some fashion
about to attempt to overthrow the Lacedæmonian government in Thebes,
and the power of Sparta. He went quietly home, and sent one of his
friends to Mellon and Pelopidas, bidding them put off their design for
the present, to go back to Athens, and await a better opportunity.
Chlidon was the name of the messenger, and he hurriedly went to his
own house, and, leading out his horse, asked for his bridle. His wife
was at her wit's end, as she had it not to give him, but she said that
she had lent it to a neighbour. Hereupon there was a quarrel, and
words of ill omen were used, for his wife said that she wished it
might be a bad journey for him, and for those that sent him; so that
Chlidon, having wasted a great part of the day in this squabble, and
also drawing a bad augury from what had happened, gave up his journey
altogether, and betook himself to something else. So near was this
greatest and most glorious of his adventures of missing its
opportunity at its very outset.

IX. Now Pelopidas and his party changed their clothes with country
people, and separating, came into the city by different ways while it
was still daylight. There was a strong wind, and the weather was
snowy, so that they were the less noticed, as most people had betaken
themselves to their houses on account of the storm; but those who were
in the plot met them as they entered, and brought them to Charon's
house. With the exiles, they amounted to forty-eight in all.

As to their oppressors, Phillidas the secretary, who had been working
with the exiles and knew all their plans, having long before invited
Archias and his friends to a wine party to meet certain courtesans,
intended to endeavour to hand them over to their assailants in as
enervated and intoxicated a condition as possible. However before they
were very far gone in liquor a rumour was brought to their ears,
which, although true, was without confirmation and very vague, to the
effect that the exiles were concealed in the city. Though Phillidas
endeavoured to change the subject, still Archias sent one of his
servants to Charon, ordering him to come instantly. Now it was
evening, and Pelopidas and his party were preparing themselves, in the
house, and had already got their corslets on, and had girt on their
swords. Suddenly, a knock was heard at the door. One of them ran out,
and hearing the servant say that Charon had been sent for by the
polemarchs, he in great trepidation brought the news to the rest. At
once it occurred to all that the plot had been betrayed, and that they
all were lost, without even having done anything worthy of their
courage. Yet they agreed that Charon should comply with the summons
and that he should unsuspiciously present himself before the Spartan
chiefs. He was a man of courage, and slow to lose heart, but now he
was panic-stricken and terrified lest when so many brave citizens lost
their lives, some suspicion of treachery might rest on himself. So,
just when he was going, he brought his son from the women's
apartments, a boy still, but in beauty and strength surpassing all of
his own age, and handed him over to Pelopidas's party, bidding them
treat him as an enemy and show no mercy, if they should find _him_
guilty of any deceit or treachery. Many of them shed tears at the
feeling shown by Charon, and his noble spirit, and all felt shame,
that he should think any of them so base and so affected by their
present danger, as to suspect him or even to blame him, and they
begged him not to mix up his son with them, but put him out of the way
of the coming stroke, that he might be saved and escape from the
tyrants, and some day return and avenge his father and his friends.
But Charon refused to take away his son, for what life, he asked, or
what place of safety could be more honourable to him than an easy
death with his father and so many friends? After praying and embracing
them all, and bidding them be of good cheer, he went away, taking
great pains to adopt a look and tone of voice as different as possible
to that of a conspirator.

X. When he came to the door, Archias and Philippus met him and said,
"Charon, I have heard that some people have come here, and are
concealed in the city, and that some of the citizens are in league
with them." Charon was at first disconcerted, but then enquired who
these persons might be, and who they were that gave them shelter.
Seeing then that Archias knew nothing for certain, he perceived that
the news did not come from any one who knew the truth. "Take care,"
said he, "that this be not a mere idle rumour that is alarming you.
However, I will make due enquiries; for we ought not to disregard
anything." Phillidas, who was present, expressed his approval of this,
and carrying Archias back again plied him with liquor, prolonging his
debauch by holding out the expectation of the women.

Now when Charon returned to his house, he found the conspirators there
prepared to fight, not expecting to survive or to win the day, but to
die gloriously and kill as many of their enemies as possible. He told
Pelopidas's party the truth, and made up some story about Archias to
satisfy the others. This storm was just blown over when Fortune sent a
second upon them. A messenger came from Athens, from Archias the
hierophant[7] to his namesake Archias the Spartan, whose guest and
friend he was, bearing a letter which contained no vague and
conjectural suspicion, but a detailed account of all that was being
done, as was afterwards discovered. Now the messenger, when brought
before Archias who was drunk, gave him the letter, and said, "He who
sent you this letter bade you read it instantly, for he said it was
written about most serious matters." Archias laughing, said, "Serious
matters to-morrow." He took the letter and placed it under the pillow
on which he rested, and again listened to Phillidas about what they
were talking of before. This story, handed down in the form of a
proverb, is current among the Greeks even now.

XI. As the hour for the attempt seemed now to have arrived, they
sallied forth, in two bodies: the one, under Pelopidas and
Damokleides, to attack Leontidas and Hypates, who lived near one
another, while the other, under Charon and Mellon, went to Archias and
Philippus, with women's gowns over their steel corslets, and their
faces concealed by thick wreaths of fir and pine wood; and so when
first they entered the door of the dining-room they caused great
applause and disturbance, as the guests imagined that the
long-expected ladies had at length come. They looked carefully round
the party, and having ascertained who each of the guests were, they
drew their swords, and made for Archias and Philippus. When they thus
betrayed themselves, Phillidas persuaded some few of the guests to
remain quiet, but the rest, who rose and tried to assist the
polemarchs, were easily disposed of on account of their drunken

The task of Pelopidas and his party was a harder one; for they went to
attack Leontidas, a sober and brave man, and, finding his house shut
up, for he was already asleep, they knocked for some time without
rousing any one. At length the servant heard them and came and drew
back the bolt of the door; then, as soon as the leaves of the door
yielded they burst in in a body, and upsetting the servant made for
the bedchamber. Leontidas, guessing from the noise and confusion what
was going on, started up and seized his dagger, but he forgot to put
out the light, and make the men fall upon each other in the darkness.
In full view of them, in a blaze of light, he met them at his chamber
door, and with a blow of his dagger struck down Kephisodorus, the
first man who entered. As he fell dead Leontidas grappled with the
next, Pelopidas. The struggle was a fierce one and rendered difficult
by the narrow passage and the corpse of Kephisodorus lying in it, but
at length Pelopidas gained the upper hand, and having despatched him,
immediately went with his party to attack Hypates. And in the same way
they broke into his house, but he heard them sooner, and fled away to
the neighbours, but was pursued and slain.

XII. Having accomplished this, and joined Mellon's party, they sent
word to the remaining exiles in Attica, and called together the
citizens to complete their deliverance, and as they came, gave them
arms, taking down the trophies which hung in the public colonnades,
and breaking into the workshops of spear-makers and sword-cutlers. And
Epameinondas and Gorgidas, with their party, came to help them, armed;
for they had collected together no small number of the younger men and
the strongest of the elder ones. By this time the whole city was

Online Library46 PlutarchPlutarch's Lives, Volume II → online text (page 1 of 46)