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The Athenians were once asking contributions1 for a public sacrifice, and the rest were contributing, but Phocion, after being many times asked to give, said: ‘Ask from these rich men; for I should be ashamed to make a contribution to you before I have paid my debt to this man here,’ pointing to Callicles the money-lender. And once when his audience would not cease shouting and crying him down, he told them this fable. ‘A coward was going forth to war, but when some ravens croaked, he laid down his arms and kept quiet; then he picked them up and was going forth again, and when the ravens croaked once more, he stopped, and said at last: ‘You may croak with all your might, but you shall not get a taste of me.’’ And at another time, when the Athenians urged him to lead forth against the enemy, and called him an unmanly coward because he did not wish to do so, he said: ‘Ye cannot make me bold, nor can I make you cowards. However, we know one another.’ And again, in a time of peril, when the people were behaving very harshly towards him and demanding that he render up accounts of his generalship, ‘My good friends,’ said he, ‘make sure of your safety first.’ Again, when they had been humble and timorous during a war, but then, after peace had been made, were getting bold and denouncing Phocion on the ground that he had robbed them of the victory, ‘Ye are fortunate,’ said he, ‘in having a general who knows you; since otherwise ye had long ago perished.’ Once, too, when the people were unwilling to adjudicate with the Boeotians a question of territory, but wanted to go to war about it, he counselled them to fight with words, in which they were superior, and not with arms, in which they were inferior. Again, when he was speaking and they would not heed or even consent to hear him, he said: ‘Ye can force me to act against my wishes, but ye shall not compel me to speak against my judgement.’ And when Demosthenes, one of the orators in opposition to him, said to him, ‘The Athenians will kill thee, Phocion, should they go crazy,’ he replied: ‘But they will kill thee, should they come to their senses.’ Again, when he saw Polyeuctus the Sphettian, on a hot day, counselling the Athenians to go to war with Philip, and then, from much panting and sweating, since he was really very corpulent, frequently gulping down water, Phocion said: ‘It is meet that ye should be persuaded by this man to go to war; for what do ye think he would do under breastplate and shield, when the enemy were near, if, in making you a premeditated speech, he is in danger of choking to death?’ At another time Lycurgus heaped much abuse upon him in the assembly, and above all because, when Alexander demanded ten of the citizens of Athens,2 Phocion counselled their surrender; Phocion, however, merely said: ‘I have given this people much good and profitable counsel, but they will not listen to me.’

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