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“But now, Simonides,” he continued, “I want to show you all those delights that were mine when I was a private citizen, but which I now find are withheld from me since the day I became a despot. [2] I communed with my fellows then: they pleased me and I pleased them. I communed with myself whenever I desired rest. I passed the time in carousing, often till I forgot all the troubles of mortal life, often till my soul was absorbed in songs and revels and dances, often till the desire of sleep fell on me and all the company. [3] But now I am cut off from those who had pleasure in me, since slaves instead of friends are my comrades; I am cut off from my pleasant intercourse with them, since I see in them no sign of good-will towards me. Drink and sleep I avoid as a snare. [4] To fear a crowd, and yet fear solitude, to fear to go unguarded, and yet fear the very men who guard you, to recoil from attendants unarmed and yet dislike to see them armed—surely that is a cruel predicament! [5] And then, to trust foreigners more than citizens, strangers more than Greeks, to long to keep free men slaves, and yet be forced to make slaves free—do you not think that all these are sure tokens of a soul that is crushed with fear?1 [6] Fear, you know, is not only painful in itself by reason of its presence in the soul, but by haunting us even in our pleasures it spoils them utterly. [7]

“If, like me, you are acquainted with war, Simonides, and ever had the enemy's battle-line close in front of you, call to mind what sort of food you ate at that time, and what sort of sleep you slept. [8] I tell you, the pains that despots suffer are such as you suffered then. Nay, they are still more terrible; for despots believe that they see enemies not in front alone, but all around them.”

To this Simonides made answer: [9] “Excellent words in part, I grant! War is indeed a fearsome thing: nevertheless, Hiero, our way, when we are on active service, is this: we post sentries to guard us, and sup and sleep with a good courage.”

Then Hiero answered: [10] “No doubt you do, Simonides! For your sentries have sentries in front of them—the laws,—and so they fear for their own skins and relieve you of fear. But despots hire their guards like harvesters. [11] Now the chief qualification required in the guards, I presume, is faithfulness. But it is far harder to find one faithful guard than hundreds of workmen for any kind of work, especially when money supplies the guards, and they have it in their power to get far more in a moment by assassinating the despot than they receive from him for years of service among his guards. [12]

“You said that you envy us our unrivalled power to confer benefits on our friends, and our unrivalled success in crushing our enemies. But that is another delusion. [13] For how can you possibly feel that you benefit friends when you know well that he who receives most from you would be delighted to get out of your sight as quickly as possible? For, no matter what a man has received from a despot, nobody regards it as his own, until he is outside the giver's dominion. [14] Or again, how can you say that despots more than others are able to crush enemies, when they know well that all who are subject to their despotism are their enemies and that it is impossible to put them all to death or imprison them—else who will be left for the despot to rule over?—and, knowing them to be their enemies, they must beware of them, and, nevertheless, must needs make use of them? [15] And I can assure you of this, Simonides: when a despot fears any citizen, he is reluctant to see him alive, and yet reluctant to put him to death. To illustrate my point, suppose that a good horse makes his master afraid that he will do him some fatal mischief: the man will feel reluctant to slaughter him on account of his good qualities, and yet his anxiety lest the animal may work some fatal mischief in a moment of danger will make him reluctant to keep him alive and use him. [16] Yes, and this is equally true of all possessions that are troublesome as well as useful: it is painful to possess them, and painful to get rid of them.”

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