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EPAMINONDAS. No panic fear ever surprised the army of the Thebans while Epaminondas was their general. He said, to die in war was the most honorable death, and the bodies of armed men ought to be exercised, not as wrestlers, but in a warlike manner. Wherefore he hated fat men, and dismissed one of them, saying, that three or four shields would scarce serve to secure his belly, which would not suffer him to see his members. He was so frugal in his diet that, being invited by a neighbor to supper, and finding there dishes, ointments, and junkets in abundance, he departed immediately, saying: I thought you were sacrificing, and not displaying your luxury. When his cook gave an account to his colleagues of the charges for several days, he was offended only at the quantity of oil; and when his colleagues wondered at him, I am not, said he, troubled at the charge, but that so much oil should be received into my body. When the city kept a festival, and all gave themselves to banquets and drinking, he was met by one of his acquaintance unadorned and in a thoughtful posture. He wondering asked him why he of all men should walk about in that manner. That all of you, said he, may be drunk and revel securely. An ill man, that had committed no great fault, he refused to discharge at the request of Pelopidas; when his miss entreated for him, he dismissed [p. 223] him, saying: Whores are fitting to receive such presents, and not generals. The Lacedaemonians invaded the Thebans, and oracles were brought to Thebes, some that promised victory, others that foretold an overthrow. He ordered those to be placed on the right hand of the judgment seat, and these on the left. When they were placed accordingly, he rose up and said: If you will obey your commanders and unanimously resist your enemies, these are your oracles,—pointing to the better; but if you play the cowards, those,—pointing to the worser. Another time, as he drew nigh to the enemy, it thundered, and some that were about him asked him what he thought the Gods would signify by it. They signify, said he, that the enemy is thunderstruck and demented, since he pitches his camp in a bad place, when he was nigh to a better. Of all the happy and prosperous events that befell him, he said that in this he took most satisfaction, that he overcame the Lacedaemonians at Leuctra while his father and mother, that begot him, were living. Whereas he was wont to appear with his body anointed and a cheerful countenance, the day after that fight he came abroad meanly habited and dejected; and when his friends asked him whether any misfortune had befallen him, No, said he, but yesterday I was pleased more than became a wise man, and therefore to-day I chastise that immoderate joy. Perceiving the Spartans concealed their disasters, and desiring to discover the greatness of their loss, he did not give them leave to take away their dead altogether, but allowed each city to bury its own; whereby it appeared that above a thousand Lacedaemonians were slain. Jason, monarch of Thessaly, was at Thebes as their confederate, and sent two thousand pieces of gold to Epaminondas, then in great want; but he refused the gold, and when he saw Jason, he said: You are the first to commit violence. And borrowing fifty drachms of a citizen, with that money to supply [p. 224] his army he invaded Peloponnesus. Another time, when the Persian king sent him thirty thousand darics, he chid Diomedon severely, asking him whether he sailed so far to bribe Epaminondas; and bade him tell the king, as long as he wished the prosperity of the Thebans, Epaminondas would be his friend gratis, but when he was otherwise minded, his enemy. When the Argives were confederates with the Thebans, the Athenian ambassadors then in Arcadia complained of both, and Callistratus the orator reproached the cities with Orestes and Oedipus. But Epaminondas stood up and said: We confess there hath been one amongst us that killed his father, and among the Argives one that killed his mother; but we banished those that did such things, and the Athenians entertained them. To some Spartans that accused the Thebans of many and great crimes, These indeed, said he, are they that have put an end to your short dialect. The Athenians made friendship and alliance with Alexander the tyrant of Pherae, who was an enemy to the Thebans, and who had promised to furnish them with flesh at half an obol a pound. And we, said Epaminondas, will supply them with wood to that flesh gratis; for if they grow meddlesome, we will make bold to cut all the wood in their country for them. Being desirous to keep the Boeotians, that were grown rusty by idleness, always in arms, when he was chosen their chief magistrate, he used to exhort them, saying: Yet consider what you do, my friends; for if I am your general, you must be my soldiers. He called their country, which was plain and open, the stage of war, which they could keep no longer than their hands were upon their shields. Chabrias, having slain a few Thebans near Corinth, that engaged too hotly near the walls, erected a trophy, which Epaminondas laughed at, saying, it was not a trophy, but a statue of Trivia, which they usually placed in the highway before the gates. One told him that the Athenians [p. 225] had sent an army into Peloponnesus adorned with new armor. What then? said he, doth Antigenidas sigh because Telles hath got new pipes? (Now Antigenidas was an excellent piper, but Telles a vile one.) Understanding his shield-bearer had taken a great deal of money from a prisoner, Come, said he, give me the shield, and buy you a victualling-house to live in; for now you are grown rich and wealthy, you will not hazard your life as you did formerly. Being asked whether he thought himself or Chabrias or Iphicrates the better general, It is hard, said he, to judge while we live. After he returned out of Laconia, he was tried for his life, with his fellow-commanders, for continuing Boeotarch four months longer than the law allowed. He bade the other commanders lay the blame upon him, as if he had forced them, and for himself, he said, his actions were his best speech; but if any thing at all were to be answered to the judges, he entreated them, if they put him todeath, to write his fault upon his monument, that the Grecians might know that Epaminondas compelled the Thebans against their will to plunder and fire Laconia,—which in five hundred years before had never suffered the like,—to build Messene two hundred and thirty years after it was sacked, to unite the Arcadians, and to restore liberty to Greece; for those things were done in that expedition. Whereupon the judges arose with great laughter, and refused even to receive the votes against him. In his last fight, being wounded and carried into his tent, he called for Diaphantes and after him fcr Iollidas; and when he heard they were slain, he advised the Thebans to make their peace with the enemy, since they had never a general left them; as by the event proved true.. So well did he understand his countrymen.

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