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The considerations that actuated these men one and all to choose to die nobly have now been enumerated,—birth, education, habituation to high standards of conduct, and the underlying principles of our form of government in general. The incentives that challenged them severally to be valiant men, depending upon the tribes to which they belonged, I shall next relate.1 All the Erechtheidae were well aware that Erechtheus, from whom they have their name, for the salvation of this land gave his own daughters, whom they call Hyacinthides, to certain death, and so extinguished his race. Therefore they regarded it as shameful, after a being born of immortal gods had sacrificed everything for the liberation of his native land, that they themselves should have been found to have placed a higher value upon a mortal body than upon immortal glory.2

1 The list which here begins is our chief authority for the names and order of precedence of the ten Athenian tribes as established by Cleisthenes in 508 B.C. The particular myths that suit the context, however, are for the most part obscure and of relatively recent origin. For example, the older legends speak of but one daughter of Erechtheus as being sacrificed. The later version is known to Cicero Tusc. Disp. 1.48.116.

2 Hyp. 24 reads in part θνητοῦ σώματος ἀθάνατον δόξαν ἐκτήσαντο, “gained immortal glory at the price of a mortal body.”

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    • Hyperides, Funeral Oration, 24
    • Cicero, Tusculanae Disputationes, 1.48
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