Though his nature was most gentle and most kind, his countenance made him seem forbidding and sullen, so that hardly any one of those who were not on intimate terms cared to converse with him alone. Therefore, when Chares once made the Athenians laugh by speaking of Phocion's frowning brows,
‘No harm,’ said Phocion,
‘has come to you from this brow of mine; but these men's laughter has cost the city many a tear.’ And in like manner Phocion's language, also, was salutary in its excellent inventions and happy conceits, although it had a brevity which was rather imperious, severe, and unpleasant. For, as Zeno used to say that a philosopher should immerse his words in meaning before he utters them, so Phocion's language had most meaning in fewest words. And this is probably what Polyeuctus the Sphettian had in mind when he said that Demosthenes was a most excellent orator, but Phocion a most powerful speaker. For, as a valuable coin has greatest worth in smallest bulk, so effective speech would seem to indicate much with few words. Indeed, it is said that once upon a time, when, the theatre was filling up with people, Phocion himself was walking about behind the scenes lost in thought and that when one of his friends remarked:
‘You seem to be considering, Phocion,’ he replied:
‘Yes, indeed, I am considering whether I can shorten the speech which I am to deliver to the Athenians.’ And Demosthenes, who held the other orators in great contempt, when Phocion rose to speak, was wont to say quietly to his friends:
‘Here comes the pruning-knife of my speeches.’
But perhaps this must be referred to Phocion's character; since a word or a nod merely from a good man is of more convincing weight than any number of elaborate periods.