11. I propose to go through the story of his virtue again, and to summarize it, in order that the praise of it may be more easily remembered.Agesilaus reverenced holy places even when they belonged to an enemy, thinking that he ought to make allies of the gods no less in hostile than in friendly countries.To suppliants of the gods, even if his foes, he did no violence, believing it unreasonable to call robbers of temples sacrilegious and yet to consider those who dragged suppliants from altars pious men.  My hero never failed to dwell on his opinion that the gods have pleasure in righteous deeds no less than in holy temples.In the hour of success he was not puffed up with pride, but gave thanks to the gods. He offered more sacrifices when confident than prayers when in doubt.He was wont to look cheerful when in fear, and to be humble when successful.  Of his friends he welcomed most heartily not the most powerful, but the most devoted.He hated not the man who defended himself when injured, but such as showed no gratitude for a favour.He rejoiced to see the avaricious poor and to enrich the upright, desiring to render right more profitable than wrong.  It was his habit to associate with all sorts and conditions of men, but to be intimate with the good.Whenever he heard men praise or blame others, he thought that he gained as much insight into the character of the critics as of the persons they criticized.If friends proved deceivers he forebore to blame their victims, but he heaped reproaches on those who let an enemy deceive them; and he pronounced deception clever or wicked according as it was practised on the suspicious or the confiding.  The praise of those who were prepared to censure faults they disapproved was pleasing to him, and he never resented candour, but avoided dissimulation like a snare.Slanderers he hated more than thieves, deeming loss of friends graver than loss of money.  The mistakes of private persons he judged leniently, because few interests suffer by their incompetence; but the errors of rulers he treated as serious, since they lead to many troubles.Kingship, he held, demands not indolence, but manly virtue.  He would not allow a statue of himself to be set up, though many wanted to give him one, but on memorials of his mind he laboured unceasingly, thinking the one to be the sculptor's work, the other his own, the one appropriate to the rich, the other to the good.  In the use of money he was not only just but generous, thinking that a just man may be content to leave other men's money alone, but the generous man is required also to spend his own in the service of others.He was ever god-fearing, believing that they who are living life well are not yet happy, but only they who have died gloriously are blessed.  He held it a greater calamity to neglect that which is good knowingly than in ignorance.No fame attracted him unless he did the right work to achieve it.He seemed to me one of the few men who count virtue not a task to be endured but a comfort to be enjoyed. At any rate praise gave him more pleasure than money.Courage, as he displayed it, was joined with prudence rather than boldness, and wisdom he cultivated more by action than in words.  Very gentle with friends, he was very formidable to enemies; and while he resisted fatigue obstinately, he yielded most readily to a comrade, though fair deeds appealed more to his heart than fair faces.To moderation in times of prosperity he added confidence in the midst of danger.  His urbanity found its habitual expression not in jokes but in his manner; and when on his dignity, he was never arrogant, but always reasonable; at least, if he showed his contempt for the haughty, he was humbler than the average man. For he prided himself on the simplicity of his own dress and the splendid equipment of his army, on a strict limitation of his own needs and a boundless generosity to his friends.  Added to this, he was the bitterest of adversaries, but the mildest of conquerors; wary with enemies, but very compliant to friends.While ever ensuring security to his own side, he ever made it his business to bring to nought the designs of his enemy.  By his relatives he was described as “devoted to his family,” by his intimates as “an unfailing friend,”1 by those who served him as “unforgetful,” by the oppressed as “a champion,” by his comrades in danger as “a saviour second to the gods.”In one respect, I think, he was unique.  He proved that, though the bodily strength decays, the vigour of good men's souls is ageless. At any rate, he never wearied in the pursuit of great and noble glory so long as his body could support the vigour of his soul.  What man's youth, then, did not seem weaker than his old age? For who in his prime was so formidable to his foes as Agesilaus at the very limit of human life? Whose removal brought such welcome relief to the enemy as the death of Agesilaus, despite his years? Who gave such confidence to allies as Agesilaus, though now on the threshold of death? What young man was more regretted by his friends than Agesilaus, though he died full of years?  So complete was the record of his service to his fatherland that it did not end even when he died: he was still a bountiful benefactor of the state when he was brought home to be laid in his eternal resting-place, and, having raised up monuments of his virtue throughout the world, was buried with royal ceremony in his own land.2
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.