Why Agathocles Died As He Did
I am quite aware of the miraculous occurrences and
The contemptible character of Agathocles.
embellishments which the chroniclers of this
event have added to their narrative with a view
of producing a striking effect upon their hearers,
making more of their comments on the story than of the story
itself and the main incidents. Some ascribe it entirely to
Fortune, and take the opportunity of expatiating on her fickleness and the difficulty of being on one's guard against her.
Others dwell upon the unexpectedness of the event, and
try to assign its causes and probabilities. It was not my purpose, however, to treat this episode in this way,
because Agathocles was not a man of conspicuous courage or ability as a
soldier; nor particularly successful or worth imitating as a
statesman; nor, lastly, eminent for his acuteness as a courtier
or cunning as an intriguer, by which latter accomplishments
Sosibius and many others have managed to keep one king
after another under their influence to the last day of their
lives. The very opposite of all this may be said of this man.
For though he obtained high promotion owing to Philopator's
feebleness as a king; and though after his death he had the
most favourable opportunity of consolidating his power, he yet
soon fell into contempt, and lost his position and his life at
once, thanks to his own want of courage and vigour.