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DIONYSIUS. Dionysius the Elder, when the public orators cast lots to know in what order they should speak, drew as his lot the letter M. And when one said to him, Μωρολογεῖς, You will make a foolish speech, O Dionysius, You are mistaken, said he, Μοναρχήσω, I shall be a monarch. And as soon as his speech was ended, the Syracusans chose him general. In the beginning of his tyranny, the citizens rebelled and besieged him; and his friends advised him to resign the government, rather than to be taken and slain by them. But he, seeing a cook butcher an ox and the ox immediately fall down dead, said to his friends: Is it not a hateful thing, that for fear of so short a death we should resign so great a government? When his son, whom he intended to make his successor in the government, had been detected in debauching a freeman's wife, he asked him in anger, When did you ever know me guilty of such a crime? But you, sir, replied the son, had not a tyrant for your father. Nor will you, said he, have a tyrant for your son, unless you mend your manners. And another time, going into his son's house and seeing there abundance of silver and gold plate, he cried out: Thou art not capable of being a tyrant, who hast made never a friend with all the plate I have given thee. When he exacted money of the Syracusans, and they lamenting and beseeching him pretended they had none, he still exacted more, twice or thrice renewing his demands, until he heard them laugh and jeer at him as they went to and fro in the market-place, and then he gave over. Now, said he, since they contemn me, it is a sign they have nothing left. When his mother, being ancient, requested him to find a husband for her, I can, said he, overpower the laws of the city, but I cannot force the laws of Nature. Although he punished other malefactors severely, he favored such as stole clothes, that [p. 192] the Syracusans might forbear feasting and drunken clubs. A certain person told him privately, he could show him a way how he might know beforehand such as conspired against him. Let us know, said he, going aside. Give me, said the person, a talent, that everybody may believe that I have taught you the signs and tokens of plotters; and he gave it him, pretending he had learned them, much admiring the subtilty of the man. Being asked whether he was at leisure, he replied: God forbid that it should ever befall me. Hearing that two young men very much reviled him and his tyranny in their cups, he invited both of them to supper; and perceiving that one of them prattled freely and foolishly, but the other drank warily and sparing, he dismissed the first as a drunken fellow whose treason lay no deeper than his wine, and put the other to death as a disaffected and resolved traitor. Some blaming him for rewarding and preferring a wicked man, and one hated by the citizens; I would have, said he, somebody hated more than myself. When he gave presents to the ambassadors of Corinth, and they refused them because their law forbade them to receive gifts from a prince to whom they were sent in embassy, he said they did very ill to destroy the only advantage of tyranny, and to declare that it was dangerous to receive a kindness from a tyrant. Hearing that a citizen had buried a quantity of gold in his house, he sent for it; and when the party removed to another city, and bought a farm with part of his treasure which he had concealed, Dionysius sent for him and bade him take back the rest, since he had now begun to use his money, and was no longer making a useful thing useless.

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load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1889)
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