Wherefore greatness lies, not in the possession of good things, but in our use of them, since even infant children inherit their fathers' kingdoms and dominions, even as Charillus,1 whom Lycurgus carried in his swaddling-clothes into the common dining-hall and proclaimed king of Sparta in place of himself. Assuredly it was not the child who was great, but he who surrendered to the child its paternal rights, and did not keep them for himself nor take them away. But who could have made Aridaeus2 great, whom, differing no whit from a child, only that his swaddlingclothes were royal purple, Meleager set on the throne of Alexander? And indeed it was well that he did so, that for a few days it might be observed how it is that men rule by right of virtue and how by gift of Fortune. For in succession to a real competitor for sovereignty Meleager introduced a mere actor, or rather, did a mute figure wearing a crown parade across the stage, as it were, of the inhabited world.
Even a woman can carry a burden if a man impose it upon her.3Conversely, however, one might affirm that it lies within the strength of even a woman or a child to take up and impose the gifts of power and wealth and sovereignty. The eunuch Bagoas4 took up the kingship of Persia and bestowed it upon Oarses and Darius.5 But the ability to sustain and administer [p. 447] great authority when one has once received it, and not to be crushed or turned from ones purpose by the weight and the magnitude of one's activities, is the mark of a man who possesses virtue, sense, and intelligence. This virtue Alexander possessed, whom some accuse of drunkenness and a passion for wine I Rut he was truly a great man, for in his conduct of affairs he was sober, nor was he made drunk nor led to revelling by authority and power ; but others, when they get but a small portion, or even a taste, of power are unable to control themselves :
Bad men, when gorged with wealth, or chancing onCleitus,7 when he had scuttled three or four Greek triremes at Amorgos, caused himself to be proclaimed Poseidon and carried a trident. Demetrius, to whom Fortune added the little that she was able to subtract from Alexander's power, allowed himself to be called ‘The Heaven-descended,’ 8 and the subject states did not send ambassadors to him, but ‘Sacred Deputies,’ and his replies they spoke of as ‘Oracles.’ Lysimacho, who obtained possession of the regions adjoining Thrace, the mere outskirts of the kingdom of Alexander, as it were, reached such a pitch of arrogance and boldness as to say, ‘The Byzantines now come to me when I am touching Heaven with my spear.’ But Pasiades of Byzantium, who was present, said, ‘Let us be off, lest he make a hole in the sky with his spear-point!’ [p. 449] And yet why should anyone mention these men who might have some legitimate ground for pride because of Alexander, when even Clearchus, after he became despot of Heracleia,9 used to carry a thunderbolt,10 and named one of his sons Thunderer? And Dionysius the younger styled himself the son of Apollo in the inscription :
Some honours in the State, caper and prance
When luck, unhoped for, to their house has come.6
Sprung from a Dorian mother by union with Phoebus Apollo.11And Dionysius's father killed ten thousand or more citizens, and, led on by envy, betrayed his brother to the enemy, nor could he wait for his already aged mother to die a few days later, but strangled her12; yet in one of his tragedies he wrote these words13:
The mother of foul wrong is tyranny !Notwithstanding, of his daughters he named one Virtue, another Temperance, a third Justice.14 And yet other persons publicly styled themselves Benefactors,15 Conquerors, Saviours, or The Great; but no one would be able to tell the tale of their marriages one after another, like the matings of horses, as they spent their days with no restraint amid herds of women, their corruption of boys, their beating of drums in the company of emasculated men, their daily dicing, their flute-playing in the public theatres, the night that was too short for them at their dinners, and the day at their breakfasts.