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“Well, Hiero,” retorted Simonides, “I am not surprised that you are out of heart with despotism for the moment, since you hold that it cuts you off from gaining the affection of mankind, which you covet. Nevertheless, I think I can show you that rule so far from being a bar to popularity, actually has the advantage of a citizen's life. [2] In trying to discover whether this is so, let us for the time being pass over the question whether the ruler, because of his greater power, is able to confer more favours. Assume that the citizen and the despot act alike, and consider which of the two wins the greater measure of gratitude from the same actions.

“You shall have the most trifling examples to begin with. [3] First, suppose that two men greet someone with a friendly remark on seeing him. One is a ruler, the other a citizen. In this case which greeting, do you think, is the more delightful to the hearer? Or again, both commend the same man. Which commendation, do you think, is the more welcome? Suppose that each does the honours when he offers sacrifice. Which invitation, think you, will be accepted with the more sincere thanks? [4] Suppose they are equally attentive to a sick man. Is it not obvious that the attentions of the mightiest bring most comfort to the patient? Suppose they give presents of equal value. Is it not clear in this case too that half the number of favours bestowed by the mightiest count for more than the whole of the plain citizen's gift? [5] Nay, to my way of thinking, even the gods cause a peculiar honour and favour to dance attendance on a great ruler. For not only does rule add dignity of presence to a man, but we find more pleasure in the sight of that man when he is a ruler than when he is a mere citizen, and we take more pride in the conversation of those who rank above us than in that of our equals. [6] And favourites, mark you, who were the subject of your bitterest complaint against despotism, are not offended by old age in a ruler, and take no account of ugliness in the patron with whom they happen to be associated. For high rank in itself is a most striking embellishment to the person: it casts a shade over anything repulsive in him and shows up his best features in a high light. [7] Moreover, inasmuch as equal services rendered by you rulers are rewarded with deeper gratitude, surely, when you have the power of doing far more for others by your activities, and can lavish far more gifts on them, it is natural that you should be much more deeply loved than private citizens.”

Hiero instantly rejoined: [8] “Indeed it is not so, Simonides; for we are forced to engage far oftener than private citizens in transactions that make men hated. [9] Thus, we must extort money in order to find the cash to pay for what we want: we must compel men to guard whatever needs protection: we must punish wrongdoers; we must check those who would fain wax insolent; and when a crisis arises that calls for the immediate despatch of forces by land and sea, we must see that there is no dilly-dallying. [10] Further, a great despot must needs have mercenaries; and no burden presses more heavily on the citizens than that, since they believe that these troops are maintained not in the interests of equality, but for the despot's personal ends.”

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