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The Gods themselves bear witness to the truth of this, for many have obtained death as a gratuity from them. The less famous instances I will pass by, that I may not be prolix, and only mention those who are the most celebrated and in all men's mouths. And in the first place, I will relate what befell Biton and Cleobis, two young men of Argos. They report that their mother being the priestess of Juno, and the time being come that she was to go up to the temple to perform the rites of the Goddess, and those whose office it was to draw her chariot tarrying longer than usual, these two young men harnessed themselves and took it up, and so carried their mother to the temple. She, being extremely taken with the piety of her sons, petitioned the Goddess that she would bestow upon them the best present that could be given to men; accordingly she cast them into that deep sleep out of which they never awoke, taking this way to recompense their 'filial zeal with death. Pindar writes of Agamedes and Trophonius, that after they had built a temple at Delphi, they requested of Apollo a reward for their work. It was answered them that they should have it within seven days, but in the mean while they were commanded to live freely and indulge their genius; accordingly they obeyed the dictate, and the seventh night they died in their beds. It is said also of Pindar, that when the deputies of the Boeotians were sent to consult the oracle, he desired them to enquire of it which was the best thing amongst men, and that the Priestess of the tripod gave them this answer,—that he [p. 314] could not be ignorant of it, if he was the author of those writings concerning Agamedes and Trophonius; but if he desired personally to know, it should in a little time be made manifest to him; and that Pindar hearing this prepared himself for the stroke of Fate and died in a short time after. Of Euthynous the Italian there is this memorable story, that he died suddenly, without anybody's knowing the cause of his death. His father was Elysius the Terinean, who was a man of the first condition for his estate and virtue, being rich and honorable, and this being his only son and heir to all his fortune, which was very great, he had a strong jealousy upon him that he was poisoned, and not knowing how he should come to the information of it, he went into the vault where they invoke the dead, and after having offered sacrifice, as it is enjoined by the law, he slept in the place; when all things were in a midnight silence, he had this vision. His father appeared to him, to whom after having related his lamentable misfortune, he earnestly desired the ghost that he would assist him in finding out the cause. He answered that he was come on purpose to do it. But first, saith he, receive from this one what he hath brought thee, and thereby thou wilt understand the reason of all thy sorrow. The person that the father meant was very like to Euthynous both for years and stature; and the question being put to him who he was, he answered, I am the genius of thy son; and at the same time he reached out a book to him, which he opened and found these verses written therein:—
'Tis ignorance makes wretched men to err;
Fate did to happiness thy son prefer.
By destined death Euthynous seized we see;
So 'twas the better both for him and thee.
These are the stories which the ancientstell us.

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load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
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