And not only by such displays did he vex his subjects, who were unused to them, but his luxurious ways of living were also offensive, and above all else the difficulty of getting access to him or conversing with him. For either he would give no audience at all, or he was stern and harsh with his auditors. For instance, he kept an embassy from the Athenians, for whose favour he was more solicitous than for that of any other Greeks, two years in waiting; and when a single envoy came to him from Sparta, he thought himself despised, and was incensed.
However, when he cried,
‘What meanest thou? Have the Spartans sent but one envoy?’ he got the neat and laconic reply,
‘Yea, O king, to one man.’ On one occasion, when he was thought to be riding abroad in a more affable mood than usual, and seemed to encounter his subjects without displeasure, there was a large concourse of people who presented him with written petitions. He received them all and folded them away in his cloak, whereupon the people were delighted and escorted him on his way; but when he came to the bridge over the Axius, he shook out the folds of his cloak and cast all the petitions into the river.
This was a great vexation to the Macedonians, who thought themselves insulted, not ruled, and they called to mind, or listened to those who called to mind, how reasonable Philip used to be in such matters, and how accessible. An old woman once assailed Demetrius as he was passing by, and demanded many times that he give her a hearing.
‘I have no time,’ said Demetrius.
‘Then don't be king,’ screamed the old woman.
Demetrius was stung to the quick, and after thinking upon the matter, went back to his house, and postponing every thing else, for several days devoted himself entirely to those who wished audience of him, beginning with the old woman who had rebuked him.
And surely nothing so befits a king as the work of justice. For
‘Ares is tyrant,’ in the words of Timotheus,1
‘Law is king of all things,’ according to Pindar;2
and Homer speaks of kings as receiving from Zeus for protection and safe-keeping, not city-takers nor bronze-beaked ships, but
‘ordinances of justice’;3
and he calls a disciple and
‘confidant’ of Zeus, not the most warlike or unjust or murderous of kings, but the most just.4
Demetrius, on the contrary, was delighted to receive a surname most unlike those given to the king of the gods; for Zeus is surnamed City-guardian, or City-protector; but Demetrius, City-besieger. Thus a power devoid of wisdom advances evil to the place of good, and makes injustice co-dweller with fame.