Author: Xenophon


Here Simonides took up the thread of the discourse[1] as follows: That for the moment, Hiero, you should be out of heart regarding tyranny[2] I do not wonder, since you have a strong desire to be loved by human beings, and you are persuaded that it is your office which balks the realisation of your dream.

[1] Al. "took up the speaker thus."

[2] "In reference to despotic rule."

Now, however, I am no less certain I can prove to you that government[3] implies no obstacle to being loved, but rather holds the advantage over private life so far. And whilst investigating if this be really so, let us not embarass the inquiry by asking whether in proportion to his greater power the ruler is able to do kindness on a grander scale. But put it thus: Two human beings, the one in humble circumstances,[4] the other a despotic ruler, perform a common act; which of these twain will, under like conditions,[5] win the larger thanks? I will begin with the most trifling[6] examples; and first a simple friendly salutation, "Good day," "Good evening," dropped at sight of some one from the lips of here a ruler, there a private citizen. In such a case, whose salutation will sound the pleasanter to him accosted?

[3] {to arkhein}. Cf. "Cyrop." passim.

[4] "A private person."

[5] Lit. "by like expenditure of power."

[6] {arkhomai soi}. Lit. "I’ll begin you with quite commonplace
examples." Holden cf. Shakesp. "Merry Wives," i. 4. 97, "I’ll do
you your master what good I can"; "Much Ado," ii. 3. 115, "She
will sit you." For the distinction between {paradeigmaton} =
examples and {upodeigmata} = suggestions see "Horsem." ii. 2.

Or again,[7] let us suppose that both should have occasion to pronounce a panegyric. Whose compliments will carry farther, in the way of delectation, think you? Or on occasion of a solemn sacrifice, suppose they do a friend the honour of an invitation.[8] In either case it is an honour, but which will be regarded with the greater gratitude, the monarch’s or the lesser man’s?

[7] "Come now."

[8] Cf. "Mem." II. iii. 11 as to "sacrifices as a means of social
enjoyment." Dr. Holden cf. Aristot. "Nic. Eth." VIII. ix. 160,
"And hence it is that these clan communites and hundreds solemnise
sacrifices, in connection with which they hold large gatherings,
and thereby not only pay honour to the gods, but also provide for
themselves holiday and amusement" (R. Williams). Thuc. ii. 38,
"And we have not forgotten to provide for our weary spirits many
relaxations from toil; we have regular games and sacrifices
throughout the year" (Jowett). Plut. "Them." v., {kai gar
philothuten onta kai lampron en tais peri tous xenous dapanais
. . .} "For loving to sacrifice often, and to be splendid in his
entertainment of strangers, he required a plentiful revenue"
(Clough, i. 236). To which add Theophr. "Char." xv. 2, "The
Shameless Man": {eita thusas tois theois autos men deipnein par’
etero, ta de krea apotithenai alsi pasas, k.t.l.}, "then when he
has been sacrificing to the gods, he will put away the salted
remains, and will himself dine out" (Jebb).

Or let a sick man be attended with a like solicitude by both. It is plain, the kind attentions of the mighty potentate[9] arouse in the patient’s heart immense delight.[10]

[9] "Their mightinesses," or as we might say, "their serene
highnesses." Cf. Thuc. ii. 65.

[10] "The greatest jubilance."

Or say, they are the givers of two gifts which shall be like in all respects. It is plain enough in this case also that "the gracious favour" of his royal highness, even if halved, would more than counterbalance the whole value of the commoner’s "donation."[11]

[11] Or, "half the great man’s ’bounty’ more than outweighs the small
man’s present." For {dorema} cf. Aristot. "N. E." I. ix. 2,
"happiness . . . a free gift of God to men."

Nay, as it seems to me, an honour from the gods, a grace divine, is shed about the path of him the hero-ruler.[12] Not only does command itself ennoble manhood, but we gaze on him with other eyes and find the fair within him yet more fair who is to-day a prince and was but yesterday a private citizen.[13] Again, it is a prouder satisfaction doubtless to hold debate with those who are preferred to us in honour than with people on an equal footing with ourselves.

[12] Lit. "attends the footsteps of the princely ruler." Cf. "Cyrop."
II. i. 23, Plat. "Laws," 667 B, for a similar metaphorical use of
the word.

[13] {to arkhein}, "his princely power makes him more noble as a man,
and we behold him fairer exercising rule than when he functioned
as a common citizen." Reading {kallio}, or if {edion}, transl. "we
feast our eyes more greedily upon him."

Why, the minion (with regard to whom you had the gravest fault to find with tyranny), the favourite of a ruler, is least apt to quarrel[14] with gray hairs: the very blemishes of one who is a prince soon cease to be discounted in their intercourse.[15]

[14] Lit. "feels least disgust at age"; i.e. his patron’s years and

[15] Cf. Plat. "Phaedr." 231 B.

The fact is, to have reached the zenith of distinction in itself lends ornament,[16] nay, a lustre effacing what is harsh and featureless and rude, and making true beauty yet more splendid.

[16] Or, "The mere prestige of highest worship helps to adorn." See
Aristot. "N. E." xi. 17. As to {auto to tetimesthai m. s.} I think
it is the {arkhon} who is honoured by the rest of men, which
{time} helps to adorn him. Others seem to think it is the
{paidika} who is honoured by the {arkhon}. If so, transl.: "The
mere distinction, the privilege alone of being highly honoured,
lends embellishment," etc.

Since then, by aid of equal ministrations, you are privileged to win not equal but far deeper gratitude: it would seem to follow, considering the vastly wider sphere of helpfulness which lies before you as administrators, and the far grander scale of your largesses, I say it naturally pertains to you to find yourselves much more beloved than ordinary mortals; or if not, why not?

Hiero took up the challenge and without demur made answer: For this good reason, best of poets, necessity constrains us, far more than ordinary people, to be busybodies. We are forced to meddle with concerns which are the very fount and springhead of half the hatreds of mankind.

We have moneys to exact if we would meet our necessary expenses. Guards must be impressed and sentinels posted wherever there is need of watch and ward. We have to chastise evil-doers; we must put a stop to those who would wax insolent.[17] And when the season for swift action comes, and it is imperative to expedite a force by land or sea, at such a crisis it will not do for us to entrust the affair to easygoers.

[17] Or, "curb the over-proud in sap and blood."

Further than that, the man who is a tyrant must have mercenaries, and of all the burdens which the citizens are called upon to bear there is none more onerous than this, since nothing will induce them to believe these people are supported by the tyrant to add to his and their prestige,[18] but rather for the sake of his own selfishness and greed.

[18] Reading with Breit. {eis timas}, or if the vulg. {isotimous},
transl. "as equal merely to themselves in privilege"; or if with
Schenkl (and Holden, ed. 3) {isotimias}, transl. "their firm
persuasion is these hirelings are not supported by the tyrant in
the interests of equality but of undue influence."


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Chicago: Xenophon, "VIII," Hiero, ed. Firth, John B. and trans. Dakyns, H. G. (Henry Graham) in Hiero Original Sources, accessed February 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PLX8MSIXXN99FT.

MLA: Xenophon. "VIII." Hiero, edited by Firth, John B., and translated by Dakyns, H. G. (Henry Graham), in Hiero, Original Sources. 4 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PLX8MSIXXN99FT.

Harvard: Xenophon, 'VIII' in Hiero, ed. and trans. . cited in , Hiero. Original Sources, retrieved 4 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8PLX8MSIXXN99FT.