In this way Scipio disdained to notice an accusation unworthy of his career, being wiser, as I think, than Aristides when charged with theft, or Socrates when accused as he was. Each of these under a like calumny made no reply, unless Socrates said what Plato makes him say. Scipio was more lofty-minded than Epaminondas, too, when he held the office of Bœotarch with Pelopidas and one other. The Thebans gave each of them an army and sent them to assist the Arcadians and Messenians, in war against the Lacedæmlonians, but recalled them on account of certain calumnies, before they had accomplished what they intended to do. Yet they did not turn over the command to their successors for six months, nor until they had driven out the Lacedæmonian garrisons and substituted Arcadians in their places. Epaminondas had compelled his colleagues to take this course and had undertaken that they should be held guiltless. When they returned home the prosecuting officers put them on trial for their lives, separately (for the law made it a capital offence to withhold by force a command which had been assigned to another),
but the other two escaped punishment by exciting pity and
by long speeches, putting the blame on Epaminondas, who had authorized them to say this and who so testified while they were speaking. He was tried last. "I acknowledge," he said, "that I retained the command beyond my time, contrary to law, and that I coerced those whom you have just acquitted. Nor do I deprecate the death penalty, since I have broken the law. I only ask, for my past services, that you inscribe on my tomb, 'Here lies the victor of Leuctra. Although his country had not dared to face this enemy, or even a stranger that wore the Doric cap, he led his fellow-citizens to the very doors of Sparta. His country put him to death for violating the laws for her own good.'" After saying this he stepped down from the rostrum and offered to surrender his person to those who wished to drag him to punishment. The judges, moved to shame by the speech, and to admiration of the defence, and to reverence for the man who had spoken, did not wait to take the vote, but ran out of the court-room. The reader may compare these cases together as he likes.