Moreover, the other sophists and flatterers in the train of Alexander were annoyed to see Callisthenes eagerly courted by the young men on account of his eloquence, and no less pleasing to the older men on account of his mode of life, which was well-ordered, dignified, and independent, and confirmed the reason given for his sojourn abroad, namely, that he had gone to Alexander from an ardent desire to restore his fellow-citizens to their homes and re-people his native city.
And besides being envied on account of his reputation, he also at times by his own conduct furnished material for his detractors, rejecting invitations for the most part, and when he did go into company, by his gravity and silence making it appear that he disapproved or disliked what was going on, so that even Alexander said in allusion to him:—
‘I hate a wise man even to himself unwise.’
It is said, moreover, that once when a large company had been invited to the king's supper, Callisthenes was bidden, when the cup came to him, to speak in praise of the Macedonians, and was so successful on the theme that the guests rose up to applaud him and threw their garlands at him; whereupon Alexander said that, in the language of Euripides, when a man has for his words
‘A noble subject, it is easy to speak well;’
‘But show us the power of your eloquence,’ said he,
‘by a denunciation of the Macedonians, that they may become even better by learning their faults.’ And so Callisthenes began his palinode, and spoke long and boldly in denunciation of the Macedonians, and after showing that faction among the Greeks was the cause of the increase of Philip's power, added:
But in a time of sedition, the base man too is in
This gave the Macedonians a stern and bitter hatred of him, and Alexander declared that Callisthenes had given a proof, not of his eloquence, but of his ill-will towards the Macedonians.