Of all his virtues, it was his justice that most impressed the multitude, because of its most continual and most general exercise. Wherefore, though poor and a man of the people, he acquired that most kingly and godlike surname of
This no kings or tyrants ever coveted, nay, they rejoiced to be surnamed
‘Conquerors,’ and some
cultivating the reputation which is based on violence and power, as it seems, rather than on virtue. And yet divinity, to which such men are eager to adapt and conform themselves, is believed to have three elements of superiority,—incorruption, power, and virtue; and the most reverend, the divinest of these, is virtue.
For vacuum and the ultimate elements partake of incorruption; and great power is exhibited by earthquakes and thunderbolts, and rushing tornadoes, and invading floods; but in fundamental justice nothing participates except through the exercise of intelligent reasoning powers.
Therefore, considering the three feelings which are generally entertained towards divinity,—envy, fear, and honorable regard, men seem to envy and felicitate the deities for their incorruption and perpetuity; to dread and fear them for their sovereignty and power; but to love and honor and revere them for their justice.
And yet, although men are thus disposed, it is immortality, of which our nature is not capable, and power, the chief disposal of which is in the hands of fortune, that they eagerly desire; while as for virtue, the only divine excellence within our reach, they put it at the bottom of the list, unwisely too, since a life passed in power and great fortune and authority needs justice to make it divine; by injustice it is made bestial.