previous next
These things, my friend, and such like we say and sing to those who, by being banished into an island, have no correspondence or commerce with other people,
Hindered by waves of the surrounding deep,
Which many 'gainst their mind close prisoners keep.
1

But as for thee, who art not assigned to one place only, but forbidden only to live in one, the prohibiting thee one is the giving thee leave to dwell anywhere else besides. If on one hand it is urged thus against you: You are in no office, you are not of the senate, nor preside as moderator at the public games, you may oppose on the other hand thus: We head no factions, we make no expensive treats, nor give long attendance at the governor's gates; we care not at all who is chosen into our province, though he be choleric or unsufferably vexatious.

But just as Archilochus disparaged the island of Thasos because of its asperity and inequality in some places, [p. 27] overlooking its fruitful fields and vineyards, saying thus of it,

Like ridge of ass's back it stood,
Full of wild plants, for nothing good;

so we, whilst we pore upon one part of banishment which is ignominious, overlook its vacancy from business, and that leisure and freedom it affords us.

Men admired the happiness of the Persian kings, that passed their winter in Babylon, their summer in Media, and the pleasant spring-time at Susa. And he that is an exile may, if he pleases, when the mysteries of Ceres are celebrated, go and live at Eleusis; and he may keep the feasts of Bacchus at Argos; at the time of the Pythian games, he may pass over to Delphi, and of the Isthmian, to Corinth, if public spectacles and shows are the things he admires; if not, then he may be idle, or walk, or read, or sleep quietly; and you may add that privilege Diogenes bragged of when he said, ‘Aristotle dines when it seems good to King Philip, but Diogenes when he himself pleases,’ having no business, no magistrate, no prefect to interrupt and disturb his customary way of living.

1 Il. XXI. 59.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1891)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: