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However, since Themistocles was a reckless agitator, and opposed and thwarted him in every measure of state, Aristides himself also was almost compelled—partly in self-defence, and partly to curtail his adversary's power, which was increasing through the favour of the many—to set himself in opposition to what Themistocles was trying to do, thinking it better that some advantages should escape the people than that his adversary, by prevailing everywhere, should become too strong. [2] Finally there came a time when he opposed and defeated Themistocles in an attempt to carry some really necessary measure. Then he could no longer hold his peace, but declared, as he left the Assembly, that there was no safety for the Athenian state unless they threw both Themistocles and himself into the death-pit. On another occasion he himself introduced a certain measure to the people, and was carrying it through successfully, in spite of the attacks of the opposition upon it, but just as the presiding officer was to put it to the final vote, perceiving, from the very speeches that had been made in opposition to it, the inexpediency of his measure, he withdrew it without a vote. [3] And oftentimes he would introduce his measures through other men, that Themistocles might not be driven by the spirit of rivalry with him to oppose what was expedient for the state.

Altogether admirable was his steadfast constancy amid the revulsions of political feeling. He was not unduly lifted up by his honors, and faced adversity with a calm gentleness, while in all cases alike he considered it his duty to give his services to his country freely and without any reward, either in money, or, what meant far more, in reputation. [4] And so it befell, as the story goes, that when the verses composed by Aeschylus upon Amphiaraus were recited in the theater:—

He wishes not to seem, but rather just to be,
And reap a harvest from deep furrows in a mind
From which there spring up honorable counselings,
1 all the spectators turned their eyes on Aristides, feeling that he, above all men, was possessed of such excellence.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 8.79
  • Cross-references to this page (2):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Aeschylus, Seven Against Thebes, 592
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (3):
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