The man, indeed, whose goodness is complete and perfect will have no need at all of glory, except so far as glory gives him access to achievement by reason of the confidence men have in him; but a man who is still young and is fond of honours may be allowed to plume and exalt himself somewhat even upon glory, provided that glory is the outcome of noble deeds. For the virtues, which are incipient and budding in the young, are confirmed in their proper development, as Theophrastus says, by the praises of men, and complete their growth under the incentive of pride.
But excess is everywhere harmful, and in the case of men who cherish political ambitions, it is deadly; for it sweeps them away into manifest folly and madness as they grasp after great power, when they refuse to regard what is honourable as glorious, but consider that what is glorious is good. Therefore, what Phocion said to Antipater, who demanded from him some dishonourable service,
‘Thou canst not have Phocion as thy friend and at the same time thy flatterer,’ this, or something akin to this, must be said to the multitude:
‘Ye cannot have the same man as your ruler and your slave.’ Since in this case also one certainly can apply the fable of the serpent whose tail rebelled against its head and demanded the right to lead in turn instead of always following; so it took the lead, and by the folly of its progress got itself into mischief and lacerated the head, which was compelled, contrary to nature, to follow a part that had neither eyes nor ears.
This, as we see, has been the experience of many of the men whose whole political activity is directed towards the winning of popular favour; they made themselves dependent on the multitude, which is borne about at random, and then could neither recover themselves nor put a stop to the progress of disorder.
These remarks upon the glory which comes from the favour of the multitude I have been led to make because I was reminded of its great influence by the fortunes of Tiberius and Caius Gracchus. They were men of most generous natures, and had a most generous rearing, and adopted most generous political principles; and yet they were ruined, I will not say by an immoderate desire for glory, but rather by a fear of losing it. And this fear had no unworthy origin.
For after they had enjoyed great kindness from their fellow citizens, they were ashamed to leave it unpaid, like a debt of money; and so they were forever striving by the excellence of their political services to surpass the honours conferred upon them, and were honoured all the more in consequence of their grateful political services, in this way, after kindling an equal ardour in themselves towards the people and in the people towards themselves, they engaged in enterprises wherein, though they knew it not, it was no longer honourable for them to persist, and already disgraceful for them to stop.
As to this matter, however, my reader will judge for himself from my narrative; and I shall compare with the Gracchi a pair of popular leaders in Sparta, Agis and Cleomenes the kings. For these also tried to exalt the people, just as the Gracchi did, and tried to restore an honourable and just civil polity which had lapsed for a longtime; and like the Gracchi they incurred the hatred of the nobles, who were unwilling to relax their wonted greed. It is true that the Spartans were not brothers; still, they adopted political courses which were kindred and brother to one another. The occasion was as follows.