So that true grandeur does not consist in the possession but in the use of noble means. For new-born infants frequently inherit their father's kingdoms and empires. Such an one was Charillus, whom Lycurgus carried in his swaddling-bands to the public table, and resigning his own authority proclaimed king of Lacedaemon. Yet was not the infant thereby the more famous, but he who surrendered to the infant his paternal right, scorning fraud and [p. 500] usurpation. But who could make Aridaeus great, whom Meleager seated in Alexander's throne, differing from a child only in having his swaddling-clothes of purple? Prudently done, that so in a few days it might appear how men govern by virtue, and how by fortune. For after the true prince who swayed the empire, he brought in a mere player; or rather he exposed the diadem of the habitable world upon the brainless head of a mere mute on the stage.
Women may bear the burden of a crown,Yet some may say, it is possible for women and children to confer dignity, riches, and empire upon others. Thus the eunuch Bagoas took the diadem of Persia, and set it upon the head of Oarses and Darius. But for a man to take upon him the burden of a vast dominion, and so to manage his ponderous affairs as not to suffer himself to sink and be overwhelmed under the immense weight of wakeful cares and incessant labor, that is the character which signalizes a person endued with virtue, understanding, and wisdom. All these royal qualities Alexander had, whom some accuse of'being given to wine. But he was a really great man, who was always sober in action and never drunk with the pride of his conquests and vast power; while others intoxicated with the smallest part of his prosperity have ceased to be masters of themselves. For, as the poet sings,—
When a renowned commander puts it on.
The vainer sort, that view their heaps of gold,Thus Clitus, having sunk some three or four of the Grecians galleys near the island Amorgus, called himself Neptune and carried a trident. So Demetrius, to whom [p. 501] Fortune vouchsafed a small portion of Alexander's power, assumed the title of Kataibates (as if descended from heaven), to whom the several cities sent their ambassadors, by the name of God-consulters, and his determinations were called oracles. Lysimachus, having made himself master of some part of the skirts of Alexander's empire, viz., the region about Thrace, swelled to such excess of pride and vain-glory as to break forth into this ranting expression: Now the Byzantines make their addresses to me, because I touch heaven with my spear. At which words, Pasiades of Byzantium being then present said, Let us be gone, lest he pierce heaven with the point of his lance. What shall we, in the next place, think of those who presumed, as imitators of Alexander, to have high thoughts of themselves? Clearchus, having made himself tyrant of Heraclea, carried a sceptre like that of Jupiter's in his hand, and named one of his sons Thunderbolt. Dionysius the Younger called himself the son of Apollo in this inscription:—
Or else advanced at court high places hold,
Grow wanton with those unexpected showers
That Fortune on their happy greatness pours.
The son of Doris, but from Phoebus sprung.His father put to death above ten thousand of his subjects, betrayed his brother out of envy to his enemies, and not enduring to expect the natural death of his mother, at that time very aged, caused her to be strangled, writing in one of his tragedies,—
For tyranny is the mother of injustice.Yet after all this, he named one of his daughters Virtue, another Temperance, and a third Justice. Others there were that assumed the titles of benefactors, others of glorious conquerors, others of preservers, and others usurped the title of great and magnificent. But should we go about to recount their promiscuous marriages like horses, their continual herding among impudent and lawless women, their contaminations of boys, their drumming [p. 502] among effeminate eunuchs, their perpetual gaming, their piping in theatres, their nocturnal revels, and days consumed in riot, it would be a task too tedious to undertake.