“But the Milesians, as long as they abstained from luxury, conquered the Scythians,” as Ephorus says, "and founded all the cities on the Hellespont, and settled all the country about the Euxine Sea with beautiful cities. And they all betook themselves to Miletus. But when they were enervated by pleasure and luxury, all the valiant character of the city disappeared, as Aristotle tells us; and indeed a proverb arose from them,—
Once on a time Milesians were brave."Heraclides of Pontus, in the second book of his treatise on Justice, says,—"The city of the Milesians fell into misfortunes, on account of the luxurious lives of the citizens and on account of the political factions; for the citizens, not loving equity, destroyed their enemies root and branch. For all the rich men and the populace formed opposite factions (and they call the populace Gergithæ). At first the people got the better, and drove out the rich men, and, collecting the children of those who fled into some threshing-floors, collected a lot of oxen, and so trampled them to death, destroying them in a most impious manner. Therefore, when in their turn the rich men got the upper hand, they smeared over all those whom they got into their power with pitch, and so burnt them alive. And when they were being burnt, they say that many other prodigies were seen, and also that a sacred olive took fire of its own accord; on which account the God drove them for a long time from his oracle; and when they asked the oracle on what account they were driven away, he said—
My heart is grieved for the defenceless Gergithæ,And Clearchus, in his fourth book, says that the Milesians, imitating the luxury of the Colophonians, disseminated it [p. 840] among their neighbours. And then he says that they, when reproved for it, said one to another, “Keep at home your native Milesian wares, and publish them not.”
So helplessly destroy'd; and for the fate
Of the poor pitch-clad bands, and for the tree
Which never more shall flourish or bear fruit.