In proof that in the beginning Demetrius was naturally humane and fond of his companions, the following illustration may be given. Mithridates the son of Ariobarzanes was a companion of his, and an intimate of the same age. He was one of the courtiers of Antigonus, and though he neither was nor was held to be a base fellow, still, in consequence of a dream, Antigonus conceived a suspicion of him.
Antigonus dreamed, namely, that he was traversing a large and fair field and sowing gold-dust. From this, to begin with, there sprang up a golden crop, but when he came back after a little while, he could see nothing but stubble. In his vexation and distress, he heard in his dream sundry voices saying that Mithridates had reaped the golden crop for himself and gone off to the Euxine Sea.
Antigonus was much disturbed by this vision, and after he had put his son under oath of silence, told it to him, adding that he had fully determined to destroy Mithridates and put him out of the way. On hearing this, Demetrius was exceedingly distressed, and when the young man, as was his wont, came to share his diversions with him, though he did not venture to open his lips on the matter or to warn him orally, because of his oath, he gradually drew him away from his friends, and when they were by themselves, with the sharp butt of his lance he wrote on the ground so that he could see it,
‘Fly, Mithridates.’ Mithridates understood, and ran away by night to Cappadocia.
And soon the vision of Antigonus was accomplished for him by fate. For Mithridates made himself master of a large and fair territory, and founded the line of Pontic kings, which, in the eighth generation, was brought to an end by the Romans.1
This, then, is an illustration of the strong natural bent of Demetrius towards kindness and justice.