« 上一頁繼續 »
parison is made between Patrician haughtiness, and Plebeian experience. The very action which they have only read, I have partly seen, and partly myself achieved. What they know by reading, I know by action. They are pleased to slight my mean birth: I despise their mean characters. Want of birth and fortune is the objection against mé; want of personal worth against them. But are not all men of the same species? What can make a difference between one man and another, but the endowments of the mind? For my part, I shall always look upon the bravest man as the noblest man. Suppose it were inquired of the fathers of such Patricians as Albinus and Bestia, whether, if they had their choice, they would des sire sons of their character, or of mine; what would they answer, but that they should wish the worthiest to be their sons? If the Patricians have reason to despise me, let them likewise despise their ancestors, whose nobility was the fruit of their virtue. Do they envy the honours bestowed upon me? Let them envy likewise my labours, my abstinence, and the dangers I have undergone for my Country; by which I hate acquired them. But those worthless men lead such a life of inactivity, as if they despise d any honours you can bestow; whilst they aspire to ho nours, as if they had deserved them by the most industrious virtue. They arrogate the rewards of activity for their having enjoyed the pleasures of luxury. Yet none can be more lavish than they are, in praise of their ancestors. And they imagine they honour themselves by celebrating their forefathers. Whereas they do the very contrary. For, as much as their ancestors were distinguished for their virtues, so much are they disgraced by their vices. The glory of ancestors casts a light, indeed, upon their posterity but it only serves to show what the descendan's are. It alike exhibits to public view their degeneracy and their worth. I own, I cannot boast of the deeds of my forefathers: but I hope I may answer the cavils of the Patricians, by standing up in defence of what I have myself done. Observe, now, my countrymen, the injustice of the Patricians. They arrogate to themselves honours on account of the exploits done by their forefathers, whilst they will not allow me the due praise for performing the very
same sort of actions in my own person. He has no statues, they cry, of his family. He can trace no valuable line of ancestors. What then! Is it matter of more praise to disgrace one's illustrious ancestors, than to become illustrious by his own good behaviour? What if I can show no statues of my family? I can show the standards, the armour, and the trappings, which I have myself taken from the vanquished; I can show the scars of those wounds, which I have received by facing the enemies of my country. These are my statues. These are the honours I boast of; not left me by inheritance, as theirs; but earned by toil, by abstinence, by valour, amidst clouds of dust, and seas of blood; scenes of action, where those effeminate Patricians, who endeavour, by indirect means, to depreciate me id your esteem, have never dared to show their faces.
CALISTHENES' REPROOF OF CLEON'S FLATTERY TO ALEXANDER.
Ir the king were present, Cleon, there would be no need of my answering to what you have just proposed. He would himself reprove you for endeavouring to draw him into an imitation of foreign absurdities, and for bringing envy upon him by such unmanly flattery. As he is absent, I take upon. me to tell you in his name, that no praise is lasting, but what is rational; and that you do what you can to lessen his glory, instead of adding to it. Heroes have never among us, been deified, till after their death. And whatever may be your way of thinking, Cleon, for my part, I wish the king may not, for many years to come, obtain that honour. You have mentioned, as precedents of what you propose, Hercules and Bacchus. Do you imagine, Cleon, that they were deified over a cup of wine? And are you and I qualified to make gods? Is the king, our sovereign, to receive his divinity from you and me, who are his subjects? First try your power, whether you
can make a king. It is surely easier to make a king, than, a god! to give an earthly dominion, than a throne in heaven. I only wish, that the gods may have heard without offence, the arrogant proposal you have made, of adding one to their number; and that they may still be so propitious to us, as to grant the continuance of that success to our affairs, with which they have hitherto favoured us. For my part, I am not ashamed of my country; nor do I approve of our adopting the rites of foreign nations, or learning from them how we ought to reverence our kings. To receive laws, or rules of conduct from them, what is it, but to confess ourselves inferior to them?
THE SCYTHIAN AMBASSADOR TO ALEXANDER.
Ir your person were as gigantic as your desires, the world would not contain you. Your right-hand would touch the east, and your left the west, at the same time. You grasp at more than you are equal to. From Europe you reach Asia: from Asia you lay hold on Europe. And if you should conquer all mankind, you seem disposed to wage war with woods and shows, with rivers and wild beasts, and to attempt to subdue nature. But have you considered the usual course of things? Have you reflected, that great trees are many years in growing to their height, and are cut down in an hour. It is foolish to think of the fruit only, without considering the height you have to clinib, to come at it. Take care lest, while you strive to reach the top, you fall to the ground, with the branches you have laid hold on. The lion, when dead, is devoured by ravens: and rust consumes the hardness of iron. There is nothing so strong, but it is in danger from what is weak. It will, therefore, be your wisdom to take care how you venture beyond your reach. Besides, what have you to do with the Scythians, or the Scythians with you? We have never invaded Macedon: why should you attack Scythia? We
inhabit vast deserts, and pathless woods, where we do not want to hear the name of Alexander. We are ut disposed to submit to slavery; and we have no ambition to tyrannize over any nation. That you may understand the genius of the Scythians, we present you with a yoke of oxen, an arrow, and a goblet. We use these respec-. tively in our commerce with friends, and with foes. We give to our friends the corn, which we raise by the labour of our oxen. With the goblet we join with them in pouring drink-offerings to the gods; and with arrows we attack our enemies. We have conquered those, who have attempted to tyrannize over us in our own country, and likewise the kings of the Medes and Persians, when they made unjust war upon us; and we have opened to ourselves a way into Egypt. You pretend to be the punisher of robbers; and are yourself the general robber of mankind. You have taken Lydia: you have seized Syria: you are master of Persia: you have subdued the Bactrians; and attacked India. All this will not satisfy you, unless you lay your greedy and insatiable hands upon our flocks and our herds. How imprudent is your conduct! You grasp at riches, the possession of which only increases your avarice. You increase your hunger by what should produce satiety; so that the more you have, the more you desire. But have you forgot how long the conquest of the Bactrians detained you? While you were subduing then, the Sogdians revolted. Your victories serve no other purpose, than to find you employment by producing new wars. For the business of every conquest is two-fold; to win, and to preserve. And though you may be the greatest of warriors, you must expect, that the nations you conquer will endeavour to shake off the yoke as fast as possible. For what people chooses to be under foreign dominion? If you will cross the Tanais, you may travel over Scythia, and observe how extensive a territory we inhabit. But to conquer us is quite another business. Your army is loaded with the cumbrous spoils of many nations. You will find the poverty of the Scythians, at one time, too nimble for your pursuit; and at another time, when you think we are fled far enough from you, you will have us
surprise you in your camp. For the Scythians attack with no less vigour than they flee. Why should we put you in mind of the vastness of the country you will have to conquer! The deserts of Scythia are commonly talked of in Greece; and all the world knows, that our delight is to dwell at large, and not in towns or plantations. It will therefore be your wisdom to keep with strict attention what you have gained. Catching at more, you may lose what you have. We have a proverbial saying in Scythia, That Fortune has no feet, and is furnished only with hands, to distribute her capricious favours; and with fins, to elude the grasp of those, to whom she has been bountiful. You give yourself out to be a god, the son of Jupiter Ammon. It suits the character of a god, to bestow favours on mor tals; not to deprive them of what good they have. But if you are no god, reflect on the precarious condition of hu manity. You will thus show more wisdom, than by dwelTing on those subjects which have puffed up your pride, and made you forget yourself. You see how little you are likely to gain by attempting the conquest of Scythia. On the other hand, you may, if you please, have in us a valu, able alliance. We command the borders of both Europe and Asia. There is nothing between us and Bactria, but the river Tanais; and our territory extends to Thrace, which, as we have heard, borders on Macedon. If you decline attacking us in a hostile manner, you may have our friendship. Nations which have never been at war are on an equal footing. But it is in vain, that confidence is reposed in a conquered people. There can be no sincere friendship between the oppressor and the oppressed. Even in peace, the latter think themselves entitled to the rights of war against the former. We will, if you think good, enter into a treaty with you, according to our manner, which is, not by signing, sealing, or taking the gods to witness, as is the Grecian custom; but by doing actual services. The Scythians are not used to promise; but to perform without promising. And they think an appeal to the gods superfluous; for that those who have no regard for the esteem of men, will not hesitate to offend the gods by perjury. You may therefore consider with your self, whether you had better have a people of such a cha