There was a certain Archibiades, nicknamed Laconistes, because, in imitation of the Spartans, he let his beard grow to an extravagant size, always wore a short cloak, and had a scowl on his face. Phocion was once stormily interrupted in the council, and called upon this man for testimony and support in what he said. But when the man rose up and gave such counsel as was pleasing to the Athenians, Phocion seized him by the beard and said:
‘O Archibiades, why, then, didst thou not shave thyself?’ Again, when Aristogeiton the public informer, who was always warlike in the assemblies and tried to urge the people on to action, came to the place of muster leaning on a staff and with both legs bandaged, Phocion spied him from the tribunal when he was afar off, and cried out:
‘Put down Aristogeiton, too, as lame and worthless.’ So that one might wonder how and why a man so harsh and stern got the surname of The Good.
But though it is difficult, it is not impossible, I think, for the same man, like the same wine, to be at once pleasant and austere; just as others, on the contrary, appear to be sweet, but are most unpleasant to those who use them, and most injurious. And yet we are told that Hypereides once said to the people:
‘Do not ask, men of Athens, merely whether I am bitter, but whether I am paid for being bitter,’ as if the multitude were led by their avarice to fear and attack those only who are troublesome and vexatious, and not rather all who use their power to gratify their insolence or envy or wrath or contentiousness. Phocion, then, wrought no injury to any one of his fellow citizens out of enmity, nor did he regard any one of them as his enemy; but he was harsh, obstinate, and inexorable only so far as was necessary to struggle successfully against those who opposed his efforts in behalf of the country, and in other relations of life showed himself well-disposed to all, accessible, and humane, so that he even gave aid to his adversaries when they were in trouble or in danger of being brought to account. When his friends chided him for pleading the cause of some worthless man, he said that good men needed no aid. Again, when Aristogeiton the public informer, who was under condemnation, sent and asked him to come to him, he obeyed the summons and set out for the prison; and when his friends sought to prevent him, he said:
‘Let me go, my good men; for where could one take greater pleasure in meeting Aristogeiton?’