There is an ancient proverb, Polycrates,1
which the philosopher Chrysippus puts not as it really is, but as he thought better:—
Who will praise a father, except happy sons?
But Dionysodorus of Troezen corrects him, and restores the true form thus:—
Who will praise a father, except unhappy sons?
And he says that the proverb stops the mouths of those who, being worthless in themselves, take refuge in the virtues of certain ancestors and are forever praising them. But surely for a man in whom, to use Pindar's words,
‘the noble spirit naturally displayes itself as inherited from sires,’ and who, like thee, patterns his life after the fairest examples in his family line,—for such men it will be good fortune to be reminded of their noblest progenitors, ever and anon hearing the story of them, or telling it themselves.
For it is not that they lack noble qualities of their own and make their reputation dependent on their praises of others, nay rather, they associate their own careers with the careers of their great ancestors, whom they hail both as founders of their line and as directors of their lives. And therefore, now that I have written the life of Aratus, who was thy countryman and forefather, and to whom thou thyself art no discredit in either reputation or influence, I send it to thee, not as though thou hadst not been at pains from the beginning to have the most precise knowledge of thy great ancestor's career,
but in order that thy sons Polycrates and Pythocles may be reared, now by hearing and now by reading, after examples found in their own family line—examples which it well becomes them to imitate. For it is the lover of himself, and not the lover of goodness, who thinks himself always superior to others.