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To this Simonides replied: “Well, the points that you raise seem to me mere trifles. For I notice that many respected men willingly go short in the matter of meat and drink and delicacies, and deliberately abstain from sexual indulgence. [2] But I will show you where you have a great advantage over private citizens. Your objects are vast, your attainment swift: you have luxuries in abundance: you own horses unequalled in excellence, arms unmatched in beauty, superb jewelry for women, stately houses full of costly furniture: moreover you have servants many in number and excellent in accomplishments and you are rich in power to harm enemies and reward friends.”

To this Hiero answered: [3] “Well, Simonides, that the multitude should be deceived by despotic power surprises me not at all, since the mob seems to guess wholly by appearances that one man is happy, another miserable. [4] Despotism flaunts its seeming precious treasures outspread before the gaze of the world: but its troubles it keeps concealed in the heart of the despot, in the place where human happiness and unhappiness are stored away. [5] That this escapes the observation of the multitude I say, I am not surprised. But what does seem surprising to me is that men like you, whose intelligence is supposed to give you a clearer view of most things than your eyes, should be equally blind to it. [6] But I know well enough by experience, Simonides, and I tell you that despots get the smallest share of the greatest blessings, and have most of the greatest evils. [7] Thus, for instance, if peace is held to be a greatest blessing to mankind, very little of it falls to the share of despots: if war is a great evil, of that despots receive the largest share. [8] To begin with, so long as their state is not engaged in a war in which all take part, private citizens are free to go wherever they choose without fear of being killed. But all despots move everywhere as in an enemy's country; at any rate they think they are bound to wear arms continually themselves, and to take an armed escort about with them at all times. [9]

“Secondly, in the event of an expedition against an enemy's country, private citizens at least think themselves safe as soon as they have come home. But when despots reach their own city, they know that they are now among more enemies than ever. [10] Again, suppose that strangers invade their city in superior force; true, the weaker are conscious of danger while they are outside the walls; yet once they are inside the fortress, all feel themselves bestowed in safety. But the despot is not out of danger even when he passes within the palace gates; nay, it is just there that he thinks he must walk most warily. [11] Once again, to private citizens a truce or peace brings rest from war; but despots are never at peace with the people subject to their despotism, and no truce can ever make a despot confident. [12]

“There are, of course, wars that are waged by states against one another, and wars waged by the despot against his oppressed subjects. Now the hardships incidental to these wars that fall on the citizen fall also on the despot. [13] For both must wear arms, be watchful, run risks; and the sting of a defeat is felt by both alike. [14] So far, then, both are equally affected by wars. But the joys that fall to the citizens of states at war are not experienced by despots.1 [15] For, you know, when states defeat their foes in a battle, words fail one to describe the joy they feel in the rout of the enemy, in the pursuit, in the slaughter of the enemy. What transports of triumphant pride! What a halo of glory about them! What comfort to think that they have exalted their city! [16] Everyone is crying: `I had a share in the plan, I killed most'; and it's hard to find where they don't revel in falsehood, claiming to have killed more than all that were really slain. So glorious it seems to them to have won a great victory! [17] But when a despot harbours suspicion, and, well aware that opposition is on foot, puts the conspirators to death, he knows that he does not exalt the city as a whole; he understands that the number of his subjects will be less; he cannot look cheerful; nor does he boast himself of his achievement; nay, he belittles the occurrence as much as possible, and explains, while he is at the work, that there is nothing wrong in what he has done, so far are his deeds from seeming honourable even to himself. [18] Even the death of those whom he feared does not restore him to confidence; he is yet more on his guard afterwards than before. And now I have shown you the kind of war that a despot wages continually.

1 I.e., in the wars that he wages against his subjects. The whole of this paragraph is obscurely expressed and highly artificial; and it has been variously interpreted. The text also is uncertain.

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