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[121] since they were as much superior to those who rule with absolute power as the wisest and gentlest of mankind may be said to excel the wildest and the most savage of the beasts.1 For what among crimes that are unparalleled in their wickedness and cruelty shall we not find to have been perpetrated in the other states and especially in those which at the time of which I am speaking were considered the greatest and even now are so reputed? Has there not abounded in them murder of brothers and fathers and guest-friends;

1 Compare Montaigne, Essays, chapter 42: “Plutarch says somewhere that he does not find so great a difference between beast and beast as he does between man and man; which he says in reference to the internal qualities and perfections of the soul. And, in truth, I find so vast a difference between Epaminondas, according to my judgement of him, and some that I know, who are yet men of good sense, that I would willingly enhance upon Plutarch, and say that there is more difference between such and such a man than there is between such aman and such a beast.”

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