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Safety In Swift Ruin

Such being the men with whom the decision rested,
Cruel death of Sosicrates.
the determination arrived at was what was to be expected. They not only imprisoned Andronidas and Lagius and their friends, but even the sub-Strategus Sosicrates, on the charge of his having presided at a council and given his voting for sending an embassy to Caecilius Metellus, and in fact of having been the cause of all their misfortunes. Next day they empanelled judges to try them; condemned Sosicrates to death; and having bound him racked him till he died, without however inducing him to say anything that they expected: but they acquitted Lagius, Andronidas and Archippus, partly because the people were scared at the lawless proceeding against Sosicrates, and partly because Diaeus got a talent from Andronidas and forty minae from Archippus; for this man could not relax his usual shameless and abandoned principles in this particular even "in the very pit,"1 as the saying is. He had acted with similar cruelty a short time before also in regard to Philinus of Corinth. For on a charge of his holding communication with Menalcidas2 and favouring the Roman cause, he caused Philinus and his sons to be flogged and racked in each other's sight, and did not desist until the boys and Philinus were all dead. When such madness and ferocity was infecting everybody, as it would not be easy to parallel even among barbarians, it would be clearly very natural to ask why the whole nation did not utterly perish.
Greece is saved by the rapidity of her ruin.
For my part, I think that Fortune displayed her resources and skill in resisting the folly and madness of the leaders; and, being determined at all hazards to save the Achaeans, like a good wrestler, she had recourse to the only trick left; and that was to bring down and conquer the Greeks quickly, as in fact she did. For it was owing to this that the wrath and fury of the Romans did not blaze out farther; that the army of Libya did not come to Greece; and that these leaders, being such men as I have described, did not have an opportunity, by gaining a victory, of displaying their wickedness upon their countrymen. For what it was likely that they would have done to their own people, if they had got any ground of vantage or obtained any success, may be reasonable inferred from what has already been said. And indeed everybody at the time had the proverb on his lips, "had we not perished quickly we had not been saved."3 . . .

1 The pit is the place dug out (σκάμμα) and prepared in the gymnasium for leapers. To be in the pit is to be on the very ground of the struggle, without possibility of escaping it.

2 See note on 30, 17.

3 For this proverb see Plutarch, Themist. 29; de Alex. Virt. 5; de Exil. 7.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
    • Plutarch, Themistocles, 29
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