Since he was disposed to be thus cautious of public informers, he would neither dine with a fellow citizen, nor indulge in general interchange of views or familiar social intercourse; indeed, he had no leisure for such pastimes, but when he was general, he remained at the War Department till night, and when he was councillor, he was first to reach and last to leave the council. And even if he had no public business to transact, he was inaccessible and hard to come at, keeping close at home with his doors bolted.
His friends used to accost those who were in waiting at his door and beg them to be indulgent with Nicias, for he was even then engaged upon sundry urgent matters of public business.
The man who most aided him in playing this role, and helped him to assume his costume of pompous dignity, was Hiero. He had been reared in the household of Nicias, and thoroughly instructed by him in letters and literature. He pretended to be the son of Dionysius, surnamed Chalcus, whose poems1
are indeed extant, and who, as leader of the colonizing expedition to Italy, founded Thurii.2
This Hiero it was who managed for Nicias his secret dealings with the seers, and who was forever putting forth among the people moving tales about the life of severe hardships which his patron led for the sake of the city.
‘Why!’ said he,
‘even when he takes his bath and when he eats his dinner, some public business or other is sure to confront him; he neglects his private interests in his anxiety for the common good, and scarcely gets to sleep till others wake.
That's the reason why he is physically all run down, and is not affable or pleasant to his friends, nay, he has actually lost these too, in addition to his substance, and all in the service of the city. Other public men not only win friends but enrich them- selves through their influence as public speakers, and then fare sumptuously, and make a plaything of the service of the city.’ In point of fact, such was the life of Nicias that he could say of himself what Agamemnon did:—
Sooth, as master of my life3
My pomp I have, and to the populace I'm a slave.