previous next
[110] “But,” they argued against Regulus, “an oath1 extorted by force ought not to have been binding.” As if force could be brought to bear upon a brave man!

“Why, then, did he make the journey to the senate, especially when he intended to plead against the surrender of the prisoners of war?”

Therein you are criticizing what is the noblest feature of his conduct. For he was not content to stand upon his own judgment but took up the case, in order that the judgment might be that of the senate; and had it not been for the weight of his pleading, the prisoners would certainly have been restored to the Carthaginians; and in that case, Regulus would have remained safe at home in his country. But because he thought this not expedient for his country, he believed that it was therefore morally right for him to declare his conviction and to suffer for it.

When they argued also that what is highly expedient 2 may prove to be morally right, they ought rather to say not that it “may prove to be” but that [p. 391] it actually is morally right. For nothing can be expedient which is not at the same time morally right; neither can a thing be morally right just because it is expedient, but it is expedient because it is morally right.

From the many splendid examples in history, therefore, we could not easily point to one either more praiseworthy or more heroic than the conduct of Regulus.

1 (3) the interests of the state higher than personal advantage;

2 (4) nothing expedient unless morally right.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (Walter Miller, 1913)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: