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Having taken this stand, his civil policies were always in favour of peace and quiet; and yet he held the office of general more frequently than any man, and I speak not only of the men of his own time, but also of those who came before him. He did not seek the office or canvass for it; nor, on the other hand, did he flee or run away when his city called him. It is generally admitted, indeed, that he held the office of general forty-five times, although he was not even once present at the election, but was always absent when the people summoned and chose him. Therefore men of little understanding are amazed at the conduct of the Athenian people. For Phocion opposed them more than anybody else, and never said or did anything to win their favour; and yet, just as kings are supposed to listen to their flatterers after dinner has begun, so the Athenians made use of their more elegant and sprightly leaders by way of diversion, but when they wanted a commander they were always sober and serious, and called upon the severest and most sensible citizen, one who alone, or more than the rest, arrayed himself against their desires and impulses. Indeed, when an oracle from Delphi was read out in the assembly, declaring that when the rest of the Athenians were of like mind, one man had a mind at variance with the city, Phocion came forward and bade them seek no further, since he himself was the man in question; for there was no one but he who disliked everything they did. And when, as he was once delivering an opinion to the people, he met with their approval, and saw that all alike accepted his argument, he turned to his friends and said: ‘Can it possibly be that I am making a bad argument without knowing it?’

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