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We ought also to cast our eyes upon those conspicuous examples who have borne the deaths of their sons generously and with a great spirit; such as were Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, Demosthenes of Athens, Dion of Syracuse, King Antigonus, and many others who have lived either in our times or in the memory of our fathers. They report of Anaxagoras that, when he was reading natural philosophy to his pupils and reasoning with them, sudden news was brought him of the death of his son. He presently stopped short in his lecture, and said this to his auditors, I knew that I begot my son mortal. And of Pericles, who was surnamed Olympius for his wisdom and the strength of his eloquence, when he heard that both his sons were dead, Paralus and Xanthippus, how he behaved himself upon this accident Protagoras tells us in these words. ‘When his sons,’ saith he, ‘being in the first verdure of their youth and handsome lads, died within eight days, he bore the calamity without any repining; for he was [p. 333] of a pacific temper, from whence there was every day an accession of advantages towards the making him happy, the being free from grief, and thereby acquiring a great reputation amongst his fellow-citizens. For every one that saw him bear this calamity with so brave a resolution thought him magnanimous, and indeed entertained an higher opinion of him than he strictly deserved; for he was conscious to himself of some weakness and defects in cases of this nature.’ Now after he had received the news of the death of his sons, he put on a garland according to the custom of his country, and being clothed in white, he made an harangue to the people, was the author of safe and rational counsels, and stirred up the courage of his Athenians to warlike expeditions. Chronicles tell us, that when an express came out of the field to Xenophon the Socratic as he was sacrificing, which acquainted him that his son perished in the fight, he pulled the garland from his head, and enquired after what manner he fell; and it being told him that he died gallantly, making a great slaughter of his enemies, after he had paused awhile to recollect his thoughts and quiet his first emotion of concern with reason, he adorned his head again, finished the sacrifice, and spoke thus to the messengers: I did not make it my request to the Gods, that my son might be immortal or long-lived, for it is not manifest whether this was convenient for him or not, but that he might have integrity in his principles and be a lover of his country; and now I have my desire. Dion of Syracuse, as he was consulting with his friends concerning some affairs, heard a great noise; and crying out and asking what was the matter, he was told the accident, that his son was killed with a fall from the top of the house. He was not at all surprised or astonished at the disaster, but commanded the dead body to be delivered to the women, that they might bury it according to custom. But he went on with his first deliberations, and re-assumed his discourse [p. 334] in that part where this accident had broken it off. It is said that Demosthenes the orator imitated him upon the loss of his only and dearest daughter; about which Aeschines, thinking to upbraid him, spoke after this manner: Within seven days after the death of his daughter, before he had performed the decencies of sorrow, and paid those common rites to the memory of the deceased, he put on a garland, clothed himself in white, and sacrificed, thereby outraging decency, though he had lost his only daughter, the one which had first called him father.1 Thus did Aeschines with the strokes of his oratory accuse Demosthenes, not knowing that he rather deserved a panegyric upon this occasion, when he rejected his sorrow and preferred the love of his country to the tenderness and compassion he ought to have for his relations. King Antigonus, when he heard the death of his son Alcyoneus who was slain in battle, looking steadily upon the messengers of these sad tidings, after a little interval of silence and with a modest countenance, spoke thus: O Alcyoneus, thou hast fallen later than I thought thou wouldst, so brisk wast thou to run upon the thickest of thy enemies, having no regard either to thy own safety or to my admonitions. Every one praiseth these men for the bravery of their spirit, but none can imitate what they have done, through the weakness of their minds which proceeds from want of good instruction. But although there are many examples extant, both in the Greek and Roman stories, of those who have borne the death of their relations not only with decency but courage, I think these that I have related to be a sufficient motive to thee to keep tormenting grief at a distance, and so ease thyself of that labor which hath no profit in it and is all in vain.

1 Aeschines against Ctesiphon, § 77.

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