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The fable may be exemplified by that of Stesichorus about Phalaris, and that of Aesop, in his defence of the demagogue.

For when the Himereans had elected Phalaris general with absolute power, and were about to give him a body-guard, Stesichorus, after having finished the rest of his argument (or discussion), told them a fable, ‘how a horse was the sole possessor of a meadow, when a stag came, and desiring to take vengeance upon the stag for spoiling his pasture he asked the man (or a man τινά, MS A^{c}, Spengel) if he could help him to chastise the stag: the other assented, on the condition of his accepting a bit and allowing himself to mount him with his javelins: so when he had agreed and the other had mounted, instead of his revenge he himself became a slave henceforth to the man: so likewise you, said he, see to it that ye do not in your desire of vengeance upon your enemies share the fate of the horse: for the bit ye have already—when ye elected a general with absolute power, but if ye grant him a body-guard and let him get on your backs, then henceforward ye will be Phalaris' slaves.’ The same fable is briefly told by Horace, Ep. 1. 10. 34, Cervus equum pugna melior communibus herbis pellebat, &c.

This fable of Stesichorus, which Aristotle here assigns to the age and case of Phalaris, is by Conon ‘a writer in Julius Caesar's time,’ Bentley, Phalaris, Vol. 1. p. 106 (ed. Dyce [p. 101 ed. Wagner]) transferred to that of Gelon; and this latter version is regarded by Bentley as the more probable; ‘the circumstances of Gelon's history seem to countenance Conon.’ ‘If we suppose then with the Arundel marble that Stesichorus lived Ol. LXXIII 3,’ (this is highly improbable; it places Stesichorus' floruit a full century too low, in the year B. C. 486; which should indeed be 485, the year in which Gelon became master of Syracuse, Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, sub anno,) ‘it exactly agrees with the age of Gelon, and Conon's account of the story may seem more credible than Aristotle's. And then all the argument that would settle Phalaris' age from the time of Stesichorus, will vanish into nothing’ (which is probably Bentley's principal reason for maintaining the paradox). Mure, Müller and Clinton, F. H., sub anno 632, place the date of Stesichorus' birth in B. C. 645, 643 or 632, and 632, severally; ‘so that,’ says Müller, H. G. L. ch. XIV 4, (as he lived over 80) ‘he might be a contemporary of the Agrigentine tyrant Phalaris, against whose ambitious projects he is said by Aristotle to have warned his fellow-citizens (he was a native of Himera) in an ingenious fable.’ Mure likewise, Vol. III. p. 226, follows Aristotle. Clinton, F. H., places Phalaris' accession to the throne of Agrigentum in B. C. 570. On Phalaris, see Mr Bunbury's article in Smith's Biographical Dictionary. Mr B. says, it would appear from Aristotle, Rhet. II 20, if there be no mistake in the story there told, that he was at one time master of Himera as well as Agrigentum.

On εἰ δύναιτ᾽ ἂν, see Appendix at the end of this book, On ἂν with the optative after certain particles.

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