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[8]

Those, however, who lived before our times, and particularly those who lived near the time of Homer, were—and among the Greeks were assumed to be—some such people as Homer describes. And see what Herodotus says concerning that king of the Scythians against whom Dareius made his expedition, and the message which the king sent back to him.1 See also what Chrysippus2 says concerning the kings of the Bosporus, the house of Leuco.3 And not only the Persian letters4 are full of references to that straightforwardness of which I am speaking but also the memoirs written by the Egyptians, Babylonians, and Indians. And it was on this account that Anacharsis,5 Abaris,6 and other men of the sort were in fair repute among the Greeks, because they displayed a nature characterized by complacency, frugality, and justice. But why should I speak of the men of olden times? For when Alexander, the son of Philip, on his expedition against the Thracians beyond the Haemus,7 invaded the country of the Triballians8 and saw that it extended as far as the Ister and the island of Peuce9 in the Ister, and that the parts on the far side were held by the Getae, he went as far as that,10 it is said, but could not disembark upon the island because of scarcity of boats (for Syrmus, the king of the Triballi had taken refuge there and resisted his attempts); he did, however, cross over to the country of the Getae, took their city, and returned with all speed to his home-land, after receiving gifts from the tribes in question and from Syrmus. And Ptolemaeus,11 the son of Lagus,12 says that on this expedition the Celti who lived about the Adriatic joined Alexander for the sake of establishing friendship and hospitality, and that the king received them kindly and asked them when drinking what it was that they most feared, thinking they would say himself, but that they replied they feared no one, unless it were that Heaven might fall on them, although indeed they added that they put above everything else the friendship of such a man as he. And the following are signs of the straightforwardness of the barbarians: first, the fact that Syrmus refused to consent to the debarkation upon the island and yet sent gifts and made a compact of friendship; and, secondly, that the Celti said that they feared no one, and yet valued above everything else the friendship of great men. Again, Dromichaetes was king of the Getae in the time of the successors of Alexander. Now he, when he captured Lysimachus13 alive, who had made an expedition against him, first pointed out the poverty both of himself and of his tribe and likewise their independence of others, and then bade him not to carry on war with people of that sort but rather to deal with them as friends; and after saying this he first entertained him as a guest, and made a compact of friendship, and then released him. Moreover, Plato in his Republic thinks that those who would have a well-governed city should flee as far as possible from the sea, as being a thing that teaches wickedness, and should not live near it.14

1 Cp. 7. 3. 14. Dareius sent a message to King Idanthyrsus in which he reproached the latter for fleeing and not fighting. Idanthyrsus replied that he was not fleeing because of fear, but was merely doing what he was wont to do in time of peace; and if Dareius insisted on a fight, he might search out and violate the ancestral tombs, and thus come to realize whether or no the Scythians would fight; “and in reply to your assertion that you are my master, I say ‘howl on’” (Herodotus, 4.127).

2 Chrysippus of Soli (fl. about 230 B.C.), the Stoic philosopher, was a prolific writer, but with the exception of a few fragments his works are lost. The present reference is obviously to his treatise on Modes of Life, which is quoted by Plut. De Stoicorum Repugnantiis 20.3 = 1043 B).

3 Leuco, who succeeded his father Satyrus I, reigned from 393 to 353 B.C. (see 7. 4. 4).

4 i.e., the letters of Persian kings, such as those quoted by Herodotus.

5 Anacharsis was a Scythian prince and philosopher, one of the “Seven Sages,” a traveller, long a resident of Athens (about 590 B.C.), a friend of Solon, and (according to Ephorus) and inventor (7. 3. 9). See Hdt. 4.76

6 Abaris was called the “Hyperborean” priest and prophet of Apollo, and is said to have visited Athens in the eighth century, or perhaps much later. According to the legend, he healed the sick,m travelled round the world, without once eating, on a golden arrow given him by Apollo, and delivered Sparta from a plague.

7 The Balkan Mountains.

8 A Thracian tribe.

9 See 7. 3. 15 and footnote.

10 i.e., as far as the island.

11 Ptolemaeus Soter, “whom the Macedon (Paus. 1.6), was founder of the Egyptian dynasty and reigned 323-285 B.C.

12 Lagus married Arsinoë, a concubine of Philip.

13 Lysimachus, one of Alexander's generals and successors, obtained Thrace as his portion in the division of the provinces after Alexander's death (323 B.C.), assuming the title of king 306 B.C. He was taken captive, and released, by Dromichaetes 291 B.C.

14 Corais and Groskurd point out that the reference should have been, not to the Republic, but to the Plat. Laws 4.704-705, where Plato discusses the proper place for founding a city; cp. Aristot. Pol. 7.6 on the same subject.

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