As soon as the apparition vanished, he called his servants to him, who all told him that they had neither heard any voice nor seen any vision. So then he continued watching till the morning, when he went to Cassius, and told him of what he had seen. He, who followed the principles of Epicurus's philosophy, and often used to dispute with Brutus concerning matters of this nature, spoke to him thus upon this occasion: "It is the opinion of our sect, Brutus, that not all that we feel or see is real and true; but that the sense is a most slippery and deceitful thing, and the mind yet more quick and subtle to put the sense in motion and affect it with every kind of change upon no real occasion of fact; just as an impression is made upon wax; and the soul of man, which has in itself both what imprints and what is imprinted on, may most easily, by its own operations, produce and assume every variety of shape and figure. This is evident from the sudden changes of our dreams; in which the imaginative principle, once started by anything matter, goes through a whole series of most diverse emotions and appearances. It is its nature to be ever in motion, and its motion is fantasy or conception. But besides all this, in your case, the body, being tired and distressed with continual toil, naturally works upon the mind, and keeps it in an excited and unusual condition. But that there should be any such thing as supernatural beings, or, if there were, that they should have human shape or voice or power that can reach to us, there is no reason for believing; though I confess I could wish that there were such beings, that we might not rely upon our arms only, and our horses and our navy, all which are so numerous and powerful, but might be confident of the assistance of gods also, in this our most sacred and honorable attempt." With such discourses as these Cassius soothed the mind of Brutus. But just as the troops were going on board, two eagles flew and lighted on the first two ensigns, and crossed over the water with them, and never ceased following the soldiers and being fed by them till they came to Philippi, and there, but one day before the fight, they both flew away.
Brutus had already reduced most of the places and people of these parts; but they now marched on as far as to the coast opposite Thasos, and, if there were any city or man of power that yet stood out, brought them all to subjection. At this point Norbanus was encamped, in a place called the Straits, near Symbolum. Him they surrounded in such sort that they forced him to dislodge and quit the place; and Norbanus narrowly escaped losing his whole army, Caesar by reason of sickness being too far behind; only Antony came to his relief with such wonderful swiftness that Brutus and those with him did not believe when they heard he was come. Caesar came up ten days after, and encamped over against Brutus, and Antony over against Cassius.
The space between the two armies is called by the Romans the Campi Philippi. Never had two such large Roman armies come together to engage each other. That of Brutus was somewhat less in number than that of Caesar, but in the splendidness of the men's arms and richness of their equipage it wonderfully exceeded; for most of their arms were of gold and silver, which Brutus had lavishly bestowed among them. For though in other things he had accustomed his commanders to use all frugality and self-control, yet he thought that the riches which soldiers carried about them in their hands and on their bodies would add something of spirit to those that were desirous of glory, and would make those that were covetous and lovers of gain fight the more valiantly to preserve the arms which were their estate.
Caesar made a view and lustration of his army within his trenches, and distributed only a little corn and but five drachmas to each soldier for the sacrifice they were to make. But Brutus, either pitying this poverty, or disdaining this meanness of spirit in Caesar, first, as the custom was, made a general muster and lustration of the army in the open field, and then distributed a great number of beasts for sacrifice to every regiment, and fifty drachmas to every soldier; so that in the love of his soldiers and their readiness to fight for him Brutus had much the advantage. But at the time of lustration it is reported that an unlucky omen happened to Cassius; for his lictor, presenting him with a garland that he was to wear at sacrifice, gave it him the wrong way up. Further, it is said that some time before, at a certain solemn procession, a golden image of Victory, which was carried before Cassius, fell down by a slip of him that carried it. Besides this there appeared many birds of prey daily about the camp, and swarms of bees were seen in a place within the trenches, which place the soothsayers ordered to be shut out from the camp, to remove the superstition which insensibly began to infect even Cassius himself and shake him in his Epicurean philosophy, and had wholly seized and subdued the soldiers; from whence it was that Cassius was reluctant to put all to the hazard of a present battle, but advised rather to draw out the war until further time, considering that they were stronger in money and provisions, but in numbers of men and arms inferior. But Brutus, on the contrary, was still, as formerly, desirous to come with all speed to the decision of a battle; that so he might either restore his country to her liberty, or else deliver from their misery all those numbers of people whom they harassed with the expenses and the service and exactions of the war. And finding also his light-horse in several skirmishes still to have had the better, he was the more encouraged and resolved; and some of the soldiers having deserted and gone to the enemy, and others beginning to accuse and suspect one another, many of Cassius's friends in the council changed their opinions to that of Brutus. But there was one of Brutus's party, named Atellius, who opposed his resolution, advising rather that they should tarry over the winter. And when Brutus asked him in how much better a condition he hoped to be a year after, his answer was, "If I gain nothing else, yet I shall live so much the longer." Cassius was much displeased at this answer; and among the rest, Atellius was had in much disesteem for it. And so it was presently resolved to give battle the next day.
Brutus that night at supper showed himself very cheerful and full of hope, and reasoned on subjects of philosophy with his friends, and afterwards went to his rest. But Messala says that Cassius supped privately with a few of his nearest acquaintance, and appeared thoughtful and silent, contrary to his temper and custom; that after supper he took him earnestly by the hand, and speaking to him, as his manner was when he wished to show affection, in Greek, said, "Bear witness for me, Messala, that I am brought into the same necessity as Pompey the Great was before me, of hazarding the liberty of my country upon one battle; yet ought we to be of courage, relying on our good fortune, which it were unfair to mistrust, though we take evil counsels." These, Messala says, were the last words that Cassius spoke before he bade him farewell; and that he was invited to sup with him the next night, being his birthday.
As soon as it was morning, the signal of battle, the scarlet coat, was set out in Brutus's and Cassius's camps, and they themselves met in the middle space between their two armies. There Cassius spoke thus to Brutus: "Be it as we hope, O Brutus, that this day we may overcome, and all the rest of our time may live a happy life together; but since the greatest of human concerns are the most uncertain, and since it may be difficult for us ever to see one another again, if the battle should go against us, tell me, what is your resolution concerning flight and death?" Brutus answered, "When I was young, Cassius, and unskillful in affairs, I was led, I know not how, into uttering a bold sentence in philosophy, and blamed Cato for killing himself, as thinking it an irreligious act, and not a valiant one among men, to try to evade the divine course of things, and not fearlessly to receive and undergo the evil that shall happen, but run away from it. But now in my own fortunes I am of another mind; for if Providence shall not dispose what we now undertake according to our wishes, I resolve to put no further hopes or warlike preparations to the proof, but will die contented with my fortune. For I already have given up my life to my country on the Ides of March; and have lived since then a second life for her sake, with liberty and honor." Cassius at these words smiled, and, embracing Brutus said, "With these resolutions let us go on upon the enemy; for either we ourselves shall conquer, or have no cause to fear those that do." After this they discoursed among their friends about the ordering of the battle; and Brutus desired of Cassius that he might command the right wing, though it was thought that this was more fit for Cassius, in regard both of his age and his experience. Yet even in this Cassius complied with Brutus, and placed Messala with the valiantest of all his legions in the same wing, so Brutus immediately drew out his horse, excellently well equipped, and was not long in bringing up his foot after them.
Antony's soldiers were casting trenches from the marsh by which they were encamped, across the plain, to cut off Cassius's communications with the sea. Caesar was to be at hand with his troops to support them, but he was not able to be present himself, by reason of his sickness; and his soldiers, not much expecting that the enemy would come to a set battle, but only make some excursions with their darts and light arms to disturb the men at work in the trenches, and not taking notice of the boons drawn up against them ready to give battle, were amazed when they heard the confused and great outcry that came from the trenches. In the meanwhile Brutus had sent his tickets, in which was the word of battle, to the officers; and himself riding about to all the troops, encouraged the soldiers; but there were but few of them that understood the word before they engaged; the most of them, not staying to have it delivered to them, with one impulse and cry ran upon the enemy. This disorder caused an unevenness in the line, and the legions got severed and divided one from another; that of Messala first, and afterwards the other adjoining, went beyond the left wing of Caesar; and having just touched the extremity, without slaughtering any great number, passing round that wing, fell directly into Caesar's camp. Caesar himself, as his own memoirs tell us, had but just before been conveyed away, Marcus Artorius, one of his friends, having had a dream bidding Caesar be carried out of the camp. And it was believed that he was slain; for the soldiers had pierced his litter, which was left empty, in many places with their darts and pikes. There was a great slaughter in the camp that was taken, and two thousand Lacedaemonians that were newly come to the assistance of Caesar were all cut off together.
The rest of the army, that had not gone round but had engaged the front, easily overthrew them, finding them in great disorder, and slew upon the place three legions; and being carried on with the stream of victory, pursuing those that fled, fell into the camp with them, Brutus himself being there. But they that were conquered took the advantage in their extremity of what the conquerors did not consider. For they fell upon that part of the main body which had been left exposed and separated, where the right wing had broke off from them and hurried away in the pursuit; yet they could not break into the midst of their battle, but were received with strong resistance and obstinacy. Yet they put to flight the left wing, where Cassius commanded, being in great disorder, and ignorant of what had passed on the other wing; and, pursuing them to their camp, they pillaged and destroyed it, neither of their generals being present; for Antony, they say, to avoid the fury of the first onset, had retired into the marsh that was hard by; and Caesar was nowhere to be found after his being conveyed out of the tents; though some of the soldiers showed Brutus their swords bloody, and declared that they had killed him, describing his person and his age. By this time also the center of Brutus's battle had driven back their opponents with great slaughter; and Brutus was everywhere plainly conqueror, as on the other side Cassius was conquered. And this one mistake was the ruin of their affairs, that Brutus did not come to the relief of Cassius, thinking that he, as well as himself, was conqueror; and that Cassius did not expect the relief of Brutus, thinking that he too was overcome. For as a proof that the victory was on Brutus's side, Messala urges his taking three eagles and many ensigns of the enemy without losing any of his own. But now, returning from the pursuit after having plundered Caesar's camp, Brutus wondered that he could not see Cassius's tent standing high, as it was wont, and appearing above the rest, nor other things appearing as they had been; for they had been immediately pulled down and pillaged by the enemy upon their first falling into the camp. But some that had a quicker and longer sight than the rest acquainted Brutus that they saw a great deal of shining armor and silver targets moving to and fro in Cassius's camp, and that they thought, by their number and the fashion of their armor, they could not be those that they left to guard the camp; but yet that there did not appear so great a number of dead bodies thereabouts as it was probable there would have been after the actual defeat of so many legions. This first made Brutus suspect Cassius's misfortune, and, leaving a guard in the enemy's camp, he called back those that were in the pursuit, and rallied them together to lead them to the relief of Cassius, whose fortune had been as follows.
First, he had been angry at the onset that Brutus's soldiers made, without the word of battle or command to charge. Then, after they had overcome, he was as much displeased to see them rush on to the plunder and spoil, and neglect to surround and encompass the rest of the enemy. Besides this, letting himself act by delay and expectation, rather than command boldly and with a clear purpose, he got hemmed in by the right wing of the enemy, and, his horse making with all haste their escape and flying towards the sea, the foot also began to give way, which he perceiving labored as much as ever he could to hinder their flight and bring them back; and, snatching an ensign out of the hand of one that fled, he stuck it at his feet, though he could hardly keep even his own personal guard together. So that at last he was forced to fly with a few about him to a little hill that overlooked the plain. But he himself, being weak-sighted, discovered nothing, only the destruction of his camp, and that with difficulty. But they that were with him saw a great body of horse moving towards him, the same whom Brutus had sent. Cassius believed these were enemies, and in pursuit of him; however, he sent away Titinius, one of those that were with him, to learn what they were. As soon as Brutus's horse saw him coming, and knew him to be a friend and a faithful servant of Cassius, those of them that were his more familiar acquaintance, shouting out for joy and alighting from their horses, shook hands and embraced him, and the rest rode round about him singing and shouting, through their excess of gladness at the sight of him. But this was the occasion of the greatest mischief that could be. For Cassius really thought that Titinius had been taken by the enemy, and cried out, "Through too much fondness of life, I have lived to endure the sight of my friend taken by the enemy before my face." After which words he retired into an empty tent, taking along with him only Pindarus, one of his freedmen, whom he had reserved for such an occasion ever since the disasters in the expedition against the Parthians, when Crassus was slain. From the Parthians he came away in safety; but now, pulling up his mantle over his head, he made his neck bare, and held it forth to Pindarus, commanding him to strike. The head was certainly found lying severed from the body. But no man ever saw Pindarus after, from which some suspected that he had killed his master without his command. Soon after they perceived who the horsemen were, and saw Titinius, crowned with garlands, making what haste he could towards Cassius. But as soon as he understood by the cries and lamentations of his afflicted friends the unfortunate error and death of his general, he drew his sword, and having very much accused and upbraided his own long stay, that had caused it, he slew himself.
Brutus, as soon as he was assured of the defeat of Cassius, made haste to him; but heard nothing of his death till he came near his camp. Then having lamented over his body, calling him "the last of the Romans," it being impossible that the city should ever produce another man of so great a spirit, he sent away the body to be buried at Thasos, lest celebrating his funeral within the camp might breed some disorder. He then gathered the soldiers together and comforted them; and, seeing them destitute of all things necessary, he promised to every man two thousand drachmas in recompense of what he had lost. They at these words took courage, and were astonished at the magnificence of the gift; and waited upon him at his parting with shouts and praises, magnifying him for the only general of all the four who was not overcome in the battle. And indeed the action itself testified that it was not without reason he believed he should conquer; for with a few legions he overthrew all that resisted him; and if all his soldiers had fought, and the most of them had not passed beyond the enemy in pursuit of the plunder, it is very likely that he had utterly defeated every part of them.
There fell of his side eight thousand men, reckoning the servants of the army, whom Brutus calls Briges; and on the other side, Messala says his opinion is that there were slain above twice that number. For which reason they were more out of heart than Brutus, until a servant of Cassius, named Demetrius, came in the evening to Antony, and brought to him the garment which he had taken from the dead body, and his sword; at the sight of which they were so encouraged, that, as soon as it was morning, they drew out their whole force into the field, and stood in battle array. But Brutus found both his camps wavering and in disorder; for his own, being filled with prisoners, required a guard more strict than ordinary over them; and that of Cassius was uneasy at the change of general, besides some envy and rancor, which those that were conquered bore to that part of the army which had been conquerors. Wherefore he thought it convenient to put his army in array, but to abstain from fighting. All the slaves that were taken prisoners, of whom there was a great number that were mixed up, not without suspicion, among the soldiers, he commanded to be slain; but of the freemen and citizens, some he dismissed, saying that among the enemy they were rather prisoners than with him, for with them they were captives and slaves, but with him freemen and citizens of Rome. But he was forced to hide and help them to escape privately, perceiving that his friends and officers were bent upon revenge against them. Among the captives there was one Volumnius, a player, and Sacculio, a buffoon; of these Brutus took no manner of notice, but his friends brought them before him, and accused them that even then in that condition they did not refrain from their jests and scurrilous language. Brutus, having his mind taken up with other affairs, said nothing to their accusation; but the judgment of Messala Corvinus was, that they should be whipped publicly upon a stage, and so sent naked to the captains of the enemy, to show them what sort of fellow drinkers and companions they took with them on their campaigns. At this some that were present laughed; and Publius Casca, he that gave the first wound to Caesar, said, "We do ill to jest and make merry at the funeral of Cassius. But you, O Brutus," he added, "will show what esteem you have for the memory of that general, according as you punish or preserve alive those who will scoff and speak shamefully of him." To this Brutus, in great discomposure replied, "Why then, Casca, do you ask me about it, and not do yourselves what you think fitting?" This answer of Brutus was taken for his consent to the death of these wretched men; so they were carried away and slain.
After this he gave the soldiers the reward that he had promised them; and having slightly reproved them for having fallen upon the enemy in disorder without the word of battle or command, he promised them, that if they behaved themselves bravely in the next engagement, he would give them up two cities to spoil and plunder, Thessalonica and Lacedaemon. This is the one indefensible thing of all that is found fault with in the life of Brutus; though true it may be that Antony and Caesar were much more cruel in the rewards that they gave their soldiers after victory; for they drove out, one might almost say, all the old inhabitants of Italy, to put their soldiers in possession of other men's lands and cities. But indeed their only design and end in undertaking the war was to obtain dominion and empire, whereas Brutus, for the reputation of his virtue, could not be permitted either to overcome or save himself but with justice and honor, especially after the death of Cassius, who was generally accused of having been his adviser to some things that he had done with less clemency. But now, as in a ship, when the rudder is broken by a storm, the mariners fit and nail on some other piece of wood instead of it, striving against the danger not well, but as well as in that necessity they can, so Brutus, being at the head of so great an army, in a time of such uncertainty, having no commander equal to his need, was forced to make use of those that he had, and to do and to say many things according to their advice; which was, in effect, whatever might conduce to the bringing of Cassius's soldiers into better order. For they were very headstrong and intractable, bold and insolent in the camp for want of their general, but in the field cowardly and fearful, remembering that they had been beaten.
Neither were the affairs of Caesar and Antony in any better posture; for they were straitened for provision, and, the camp being in a low ground, they expected to pass a very hard winter. For being driven close upon the marshes, and a great quantity of rain, as is usual in autumn, having fallen after the battle, their tents were all filled with mire and water, which through the coldness of the weather immediately froze. And while they were in this condition, there was news brought to them of their loss at sea. For Brutus's fleet fell upon their ships, which were bringing a great supply of soldiers out of Italy, and so entirely defeated them, that but very few of the men escaped being slain, and they too were forced by famine to feed upon the sails and tackle of the ship. As soon as they heard this, they made what haste they could to come to the decision of a battle, before Brutus should have notice of his good success. For it had so happened that the fight both by sea and land was on the same day, but by some misfortune, rather than the fault of his commanders, Brutus knew not of his victory twenty days after. For had he been informed of this, he would not have been brought to a second battle, since he had sufficient provisions for his army for a long time, and was very advantageously posted, his camp being well sheltered from the cold weather, and almost inaccessible to the enemy, and his being absolute master of the sea, and having at land overcome on that side wherein he himself was engaged, would have made him full of hope and confidence. But it seems, the state of Rome not enduring any longer to be governed by many, but necessarily requiring a monarchy, the divine power, that it might remove out of the way the only man that was able to resist him that could control the empire, cut off his good fortune from coming to the ears of Brutus; though it came but a very little too late, for the very evening before the fight, Clodius, a deserter from the enemy, came and announced that Caesar had received advice of the loss of his fleet, and for that reason was in such haste to come to a battle. But his story met with no credit, nor was he so much as seen by Brutus, being simply set down as one that had had no good information, or invented lies to bring himself into favor.
The same night, they say, the vision appeared again to Brutus, in the same shape that it did before, but vanished without speaking. But Publius Volumnius, a philosopher, and one that had from the beginning borne arms with Brutus, makes no mention of this apparition, but says that the first eagle was covered with a swarm of bees, and that there was one of the captains whose arm of itself sweated oil of roses, and, though they often dried and wiped it, yet it would not cease; and that immediately before the battle, two eagles falling upon each other fought in the space between the two armies, that the whole field kept incredible silence and all were intent upon the spectacle, until at last that which was on Brutus's side yielded and fled. But the story of the Ethiopian is very famous, who meeting the standard-bearer at the opening the gate of the camp, was cut to pieces by the soldiers, that took it for an ill omen.
Brutus, having brought his army into the field and set them in array against the enemy, paused a long while before he would fight; for, as he was reviewing the troops, suspicions were excited, and informations laid against some of them. Besides, he saw his horse not very eager to begin the action, and waiting to see what the foot would do. Then suddenly Camulatus, a very good soldier, and one whom for his valor he highly esteemed, riding hard by Brutus himself, went over to the enemy, the sight of which grieved Brutus exceedingly. So that partly out of anger, and partly out of fear of some greater treason and desertion, he immediately drew on his forces upon the enemy, the sun now declining, about three of the clock in the afternoon. Brutus on his side had the better, and pressed hard on the left wing, which gave way and retreated; and the horse too fell in together with the foot, when they saw the enemy in disorder. But the other wing, when the officers extended the line to avoid its being encompassed, the numbers being inferior, got drawn out too thin in the center, and was so weak here that they could not withstand the charge, but at the first onset fled. After defeating these, the enemy at once took Brutus in the rear, who all the while performed all that was possible for an expert general and valiant soldier, doing everything in the peril, by counsel and by hand, that might recover the victory. But that which had been his superiority in the former fight was to his prejudice in this second. For in the first fight, that part of the enemy which was beaten was killed on the spot; but of Cassius's soldiers that fled few had been slain, and those that escaped, daunted with their defeat, infected the other and larger part of the army with their want of spirit and their disorder. Here Marcus, the son of Cato, was slain, fighting and behaving himself with great bravery in the midst of the youth of the highest rank and greatest valor. He would neither fly nor give the least ground, but, still fighting and declaring who he was and naming his father's name, he fell upon a heap of dead bodies of the enemy. And of the rest, the bravest were slain in defending Brutus.
There was in the field one Lucilius, an excellent man and a friend of Brutus, who, seeing some barbarian horse taking no notice of any other in the pursuit, but galloping at full speed after Brutus, resolved to stop them, though with the hazard of his life; and, letting himself fall a little behind, he told them that he was Brutus. They believed him the rather, because he prayed to be carried to Antony, as if he feared Caesar, but durst trust him. They, overjoyed with their prey, and thinking themselves wonderfully fortunate, carried him along with them in the night, having first sent messengers to Antony of their coming. He was much pleased, and came to meet them; and all the rest that heard that Brutus was taken and brought alive, flocked together to see him, some pitying his fortune, others accusing; him of a meanness unbecoming his former glory, that out of too much love of life he would be a prey to barbarians. When they came near together, Antony stood still, considering with himself in what manner he should receive Brutus. But Lucilius, being brought up to him, with great confidence said: "Be assured, Antony, that no enemy either has taken or ever shall take Marcus Brutus alive (forbid it, heaven, that fortune should ever so much prevail above virtue), but he shall be found, alive or dead, as becomes himself. As for me, I am come hither by a cheat that I put upon your soldiers, and am ready, upon this occasion, to suffer any severities you will inflict." All were amazed to hear Lucilius speak these words. But Antony, turning himself to those that brought him, said: "I perceive, my fellow-soldiers, that you are concerned and take it ill that you have been thus deceived, and think yourselves abused and injured by it; but know that you have met with a booty better than that you sought. For you were in search of an enemy, but you have brought me here a friend. For indeed I am uncertain how I should have used Brutus, if you had brought him alive; but of this I am sure, that it is better to have such men as Lucilius our friends than our enemies." Having said this, he embraced Lucilius, and for the present commended him to the care of one of his friends, and ever after found him a steady and a faithful friend.
Brutus had now passed a little brook, running among trees and under steep rocks, and, it being night, would go no further, but sat down in a hollow place with a great rock projecting before it, with a few of his officers and friends about him. At first, looking up to heaven, that was then full of stars, he repeated two verses, one of which, Volumnius writes, was this: —
Punish, great Jove, the author of these ills.
The other he says he has forgot. Soon after, naming severally all his friends that had been slain before his face in the battle, he groaned heavily, especially at the mentioning of Flavius and Labeo, the latter his lieutenant, and the other chief officer of his engineers. In the meantime, one of his companions, that was very thirsty and saw Brutus in the same condition, took his helmet and ran to the brook for water, when, a noise being heard from the other side of the river, Volumnius, taking Dardanus, Brutus's armor-bearer, with him, went out to see what it was. They returned in a short space, and inquired about the water. Brutus, smiling with much meaning, said to Volumnius, "It is all drunk; but you shall have some more fetched." But he that had brought the first water, being sent again, was in great danger of being taken by the enemy, and, having received a wound, with much difficulty escaped.
Now Brutus guessing that not many of his men were slain in the fight, Statyllius undertook to dash through the enemy (for there was no other way), and to see what was become of their camp; and promised, if he found all things there safe, to hold up a torch for a signal, and then return. The torch was held up, for Statyllius got safe to the camp; but when after a long time he did not return, Brutus said, "If Statyllius be alive, he will come back." But it happened that in his return he fell into the enemy's hands, and was slain.
The night now being far spent, Brutus, as he was sitting, leaned his head towards his servant Clitus and spoke to him; he answered him not, but fell a weeping. After that, he drew aside his armor-bearer, Dardanus, and had some discourse with him in private. At last, speaking to Volumnius in Greek, he reminded him of their common studies and former discipline, and begged that he would take hold of his sword with him, and help him to thrust it through him. Volumnius put away his request, and several others did the like; and someone saying, that there was no staying there, but they needs must fly, Brutus, rising up, said, "Yes, indeed, we must fly, but not with our feet, but with our hands." Then giving each of them his right hand, with a countenance full of pleasure, he said, that he found an infinite satisfaction in this, that none of his friends had been false to him; that as for fortune, he was angry with that only for his country's sake; as for himself, he thought himself much more happy than they who had overcome, not only as he had been a little time ago, but even now in his present condition; since he was leaving behind him such a reputation of his virtue as none of the conquerors with all their arms and riches should ever be able to acquire, no more than they could hinder posterity from believing and saying, that, being unjust and wicked men, they had destroyed the just and the good, and usurped a power to which they had no right. After this, having exhorted and entreated all about him to provide for their own safety, he withdrew from them with two or three only of his peculiar friends; Strato was one of these, with whom he had contracted an acquaintance when they studied rhetoric together. Him he placed next to himself, and, taking hold of the hilt of his sword and directing it with both his hands, he fell upon it, and killed himself. But others say, that not he himself, but Strato, at the earnest entreaty of Brutus, turning aside his head, held the sword, upon which he violently throwing himself, it pierced his breast, and he immediately died. This same Strato, Messala, a friend of Brutus, being, after reconciled to Caesar, brought to him once at his leisure, and with tears in his eyes said, "This, O Caesar, is the man that did the last friendly office to my beloved Brutus." Upon which Caesar received him kindly; and had good use of him in his labors and his battles at Actium, being one of the Greeks that proved their bravery in his service. It is reported of Messala himself, that, when Caesar once gave him this commendation, that though he was his fiercest enemy at Philippi in the cause of Brutus, yet he had shown himself his most entire friend in the fight of Actium, he answered, "You have always found me, Caesar, on the best and justest side."
Brutus's dead body was found by Antony, who commanded the richest purple mantle that he had to be thrown over it, and afterwards the mantle being stolen, he found the thief, and had him put to death. He sent the ashes of Brutus to his mother Servilia. As for Porcia his wife, Nicolaus the philosopher and Valerius Maximus write, that, being desirous to die, but being hindered by her friends, who continually watched her, she snatched some burning charcoal out of the fire, and, shutting it close in her mouth, stifled herself, and died. Though there is a letter current from Brutus to his friends, in which he laments the death of Porcia, and accuses them for neglecting her so that she desired to die rather than languish with her disease. So that it seems Nicolaus was mistaken in the time; for this epistle (if it indeed is authentic, and truly Brutus's) gives us to understand the malady and love of Porcia, and the way in which her death occurred.
COMPARISON OF DION AND BRUTUS
There are noble points in abundance in the characters of these two men, and one to be first mentioned is their attaining such a height of greatness upon such inconsiderable means; and on this score Dion has by far the advantage. For he had no partner to contest his glory, as Brutus had in Cassius, who was not, indeed, his equal in proved virtue and honor, yet contributed quite as much to the service of the war by his boldness, skill, and activity; and some there be who impute to him the rise and beginning of the whole enterprise, saying that it was he who roused Brutus, till then indisposed to stir, into action against Caesar. Whereas Dion seems of himself to have provided not only arms, ships, and soldiers, but likewise friends and partners for the enterprise. Neither did he, as Brutus, collect money and forces from the war itself, but, on the contrary, laid out of his own substance, and employed the very means of his private sustenance in exile for the liberty of his country. Besides this, Brutus and Cassius, when they fled from Rome, could not live safe or quiet, being condemned to death and pursued, and were thus of necessity forced to take arms and hazard their lives in their own defense, to save themselves, rather than their country. On the other hand, Dion enjoyed more ease, was more safe, and his life more pleasant in his banishment, than was the tyrant's who had banished him, when he flew to action, and ran the risk of all to save Sicily.
Take notice, too, that it was not the same thing for the Sicilians to be freed from Dionysius, and for the Romans to be freed from Caesar. The former owned himself a tyrant, and vexed Sicily with a thousand oppressions; whereas Caesar's supremacy, certainly, in the process for attaining it, had inflicted no little trouble on its opponents, but, once established and victorious, it had indeed the name and appearance, but fact that was cruel or tyrannical there was none. On the contrary, in the malady of the times and the need of a monarchical government, he might be thought to have been sent, as the gentlest physician, by no other than a divine intervention. And thus the common people instantly regretted Caesar, and grew enraged and implacable against those that killed him. Whereas Dion's chief offense in the eyes of his fellow-citizens was his having let Dionysius escape, and not having demolished the former tyrant's tomb.
In the actual conduct of war, Dion was a commander without fault, improving to the utmost those counsels which he himself gave, and, where others led him into disaster, correcting and turning everything to the best. But Brutus seems to have shown little wisdom in engaging in the final battle, which was to decide everything, and, when he failed, not to have done his business in seeking a remedy ; he gave all up, and abandoned his hopes, not venturing against fortune even as far as Pompey did, when he had still means enough to rely on in his troops, and was clearly master of all the seas with his ships.
The greatest thing charged on Brutus is, that he, being saved by Caesar's kindness, having saved all the friends whom he chose to ask for, he moreover accounted a friend, and preferred above many, did yet lay violent hands upon his preserver. Nothing like this could be objected against Dion; quite the contrary, whilst he was of Dionysius's family and his friend, he did good service, and was useful to him; but driven from his country, wronged in his wife, and his estate lost, he openly entered upon a war just and lawful. Does not, however, the matter turn the other way? For the chief glory of both was their hatred of tyranny, and abhorrence of wickedness. This was unmixed and sincere in Brutus; for he had no private quarrel with Caesar, but went into the risk singly for the liberty of his country. The other, had he not been privately injured, had not fought. This is plain from Plato's epistles, where it is shown that he was turned out, and did not forsake the court to wage war upon Dionysius. Moreover, the public good made Brutus Pompey's friend (instead of his enemy as he had been) and Caesar's enemy; since he proposed for his hatred and his friendship no other end and standard but justice. Dion was very serviceable to Dionysius whilst in favor; when no longer trusted, he grew angry and fell to arms. And, for this reason, not even were his own friends all of them satisfied with his undertaking, or quite assured that, having overcome Dionysius, he might not settle the government on himself, deceiving his fellow-citizens by some less obnoxious name than tyranny. But the very enemies of Brutus would say that he had no other end or aim, from first to last, save only to restore to the Roman people their ancient government.
And apart from what has just been said, the adventure against Dionysius was nothing equal with that against Caesar. For none that was familiarly conversant with Dionysius but scorned him for his life of idle amusement with wine, women, and dice; whereas it required an heroic soul and a truly intrepid and unquailing spirit so much as to entertain the thought of crushing Caesar so formidable for his ability, his power, and his fortune, whose very name disturbed the slumbers of the Parthian and Indian kings. Dion was no sooner seen in Sicily but thousands ran in to him and joined him against Dionysius; whereas the renown of Caesar, even when dead, gave strength to his friends; and his very name so heightened the person that took it, that from a simple boy he presently became the chief of the Romans; and he could use it for a spell against the enmity and power of Antony. If any object that it cost Dion great trouble and difficulties to overcome the tyrant, whereas Brutus slew Caesar naked and unprovided, yet this itself was the result of the most consummate policy and conduct, to bring it about that a man so guarded around, and so fortified at all points, should be taken naked and unprovided. For it was not on the sudden, nor alone, nor with a few, that he fell upon and killed Caesar; but after long concerting the plot, and placing confidence in a great many men, not one of whom deceived him. For he either at once discerned the best men, or by confiding in them made them good. But Dion, either making a wrong judgment, trusted himself with ill men, or else by his employing them made ill men of good; either of the two would be a reflection on a wise man. Plato also is severe upon him, for choosing such for friends as betrayed him.
Besides, when Dion was killed, none appeared to revenge his death. Whereas Brutus, even amongst his enemies, had Antony that buried him splendidly; and Caesar also took care his honors should be preserved. There stood at Milan in Gaul, within the Alps, a brazen statue, which Caesar in after-times noticed (being a real likeness, and a fine work of art), and passing by it, presently stopped short, and in the hearing of many commended the magistrates to come before him. He told them their town had broken their league, harboring an enemy. The magistrates at first simply denied the thing, and, not knowing what he meant, looked one upon another, when Caesar, turning towards the statue and gathering his brows, said, "Pray, is not that our enemy who stands there?" They were all in confusion, and had nothing to answer; but he, smiling, much commended the Gauls, as who had been firm to their friends, though in adversity, and ordered that the statue should remain standing as he found it.
The philosopher Chrysippus, O Polycrates, quotes an ancient proverb, not as really it should be, apprehending, I suppose, that it sounded too harshly, but so as he thought it would run best, in these words,
Who praise their father but the generous sons?
But Dionysodorus the Troezenian proves him to be wrong, and restores the true reading, which is this, —
Who praise their fathers but degenerate sons?
telling us that the proverb is meant to stop the mouth of those who, having no merit of their own, take refuge in the virtues of their ancestors, and make their advantage of praising them. But, as Pindar hath it,
He that by nature doth inherit From ancestors a noble spirit,
as you do, who make your life the copy of the fairest originals of your family, — such, I say, may take great satisfaction in being reminded, both by hearing others speak and speaking themselves, of the best of their progenitors. For they assume not the glory of praises earned by others out of any want of worth of their own, but, affiliating their own deeds to those of their ancestor, give them honor as the authors both of their descent and manners.
Therefore I have sent to you the life which I have written of your fellow-citizen and forefather Aratus, to whom you are no discredit in point either of reputation or of authority, not as though you had not been most diligently careful to inform yourself from the beginning concerning his actions, but that your sons, Polycrates and Pythocles, may both by hearing and reading become familiar with those family examples which it behooves them to follow and imitate. It is a piece of self-love, and not of the love of virtue, to imagine one has already attained to what is best.
The city of Sicyon, from the time that it first fell off from the pure and Doric aristocracy (its harmony being destroyed, and a mere series of seditions and personal contests of popular leaders ensuing), continued to be distempered and unsettled, changing from one tyrant to another, until, Cleon being slain, Timoclides and Clinias, men of the most repute and power amongst the citizens, were chosen to the magistracy. And the commonwealth now seeming to be in a pretty settled condition, Timoclides died, and Abantidas, the son of Paseas, to possess himself of the tyranny, killed Clinias, and, of his kindred and friends, slew some and banished others. He sought also to kill his son Aratus, whom he left behind him, being but seven years old. This boy in the general disorder getting out of the house with those that fled, and wandering about the city helpless and in great fear, by chance got undiscovered into the house of a woman who was Abantidas's sister, but married to Prophantus, the brother of Clinias, her name being Soso. She, being of a generous temper, and believing the boy had by some supernatural guidance fled to her for shelter, hid him in the house, and at night sent him away to Argos.
Aratus, being thus delivered and secured from this danger, conceived from the first and ever after nourished a vehement and burning hatred against tyrants, which strengthened with his years. Being therefore bred up amongst his father's acquaintance and friends at Argos with a liberal education, and perceiving his body to promise good health and stature, he addicted himself to the exercises of the palaestra, to that degree that he competed in the five games, and gained some crowns; and indeed in his statues one may observe a certain kind of athletic cast, and the sagacity and majesty of his countenance does not dissemble his full diet and the use of the hoe. Whence it came to pass that he less studied eloquence than perhaps became a statesman, and yet he was more accomplished in speaking than many believe, judging by the commentaries which he left behind him, written carelessly and by the way, as fast as he could do it, and in such words as first came to his mind.
In the course of time, Dinias and Aristoteles the logician killed Abantidas, who used to be present in the marketplace at their discussions, and to make one in them; till they, taking the occasion, insensibly accustomed him to the practice, and so had opportunity to contrive and execute a plot against him. After him Paseas, the father of Abantidas, taking upon him the government, was assassinated by Nicocles, who himself set up for tyrant. Of him it is related that he was strikingly like Periander the son of Cypselus, just as it is said that Orontes the Persian bore a great resemblance to Alcmaeon the son of Amphiaraus, and that Lacedaemonian youth, whom Myrsilus relates to have been trodden to pieces by the crowd of those that came to see him upon that report, to Hector.
This Nicocles governed four months, in which, after he had done all kinds of mischief to the city, he very nearly let it fall into the hands of the Aetolians. By this time Aratus, being grown a youth, was in much esteem, both for his noble birth and his spirit and disposition, which, while neither insignificant nor wanting in energy, were solid, and tempered with a steadiness of judgment beyond his years. For which reason the exiles had their eyes most upon him, nor did Nicocles less observe his motions, but secretly spied and watched him, not out of apprehension of any such considerable or utterly audacious attempt, but suspecting he held correspondence with the kings, who were his father's friends and acquaintance. And, indeed, Aratus first attempted this way; but finding that Antigonus, who had promised fair, neglected him and delayed the time, and that his hopes from Egypt and Ptolemy were long to wait for, he determined to cut off the tyrant by himself.
And first he broke his mind to Aristomachus and Ecdelus, the one an exile of Sicyon, the other, Ecdelus, an Arcadian of Megalopolis, a philosopher, and a man of action, having been the familiar friend of Arcesilaus the Academic at Athens. These readily consenting, he communicated with the other exiles, whereof some few, being ashamed to seem to despair of success, engaged in the design; but most of them endeavored to divert him from his purpose, as one that for want of experience was too rash and daring.
Whilst he was consulting to seize upon some post in Sicyonia, from whence he might make war upon the tyrant, there came to Argos a certain Sicyonian, newly escaped out of prison, brother to Xenocles, one of the exiles, who being by him presented to Aratus informed him, that that part of the wall over which he escaped was, inside, almost level with the ground, adjoining a rocky and elevated place, and that from the outside it might be scaled with ladders. Aratus, hearing this, dispatches away Xenocles with two of his own servants, Seuthas and Technon, to view the wall, resolving, if possible, secretly and with one risk to hazard all on a single trial, rather than carry on a contest as a private man against a tyrant by long war and open force. Xenocles, therefore, with his companions, returning having taken the height of the wall, and declaring the place not to be impossible or indeed difficult to get over, but that it was not easy to approach it undiscovered, by reason of some small but uncommonly savage and noisy dogs belonging to a gardener hard by, he immediately undertook the business.
Now the preparation of arms gave no jealousy, because robberies and petty forays were at that time common everywhere between one set of people and another; and for the ladders, Euphranor, the machine-maker, made them openly, his trade rendering him unsuspected, though one of the exiles. As for men, each of his friends in Argos furnished him with ten apiece out of those few they had, and he armed thirty of his own servants, and hired some few soldiers of Xenophilus, the chief of the robber captains, to whom it was given out that they were to march into the territory of Sicyon to seize the king's stud; most of them were sent before, in small parties, to the tower of Polygnotus, with orders to wait there; Caphisias also was dispatched beforehand lightly armed, with four others, who were, as soon as it was dark, to come to the gardener's house, pretending to be travelers, and, procuring their lodging there, to shut up him and his dogs; for there was no other way of getting past. And for the ladders, they had been made to take in pieces, and were put into chests, and sent before hidden upon wagons. In the meantime, some of the spies of Nicocles appearing in Argos, and being said to go privately about watching Aratus, he came early in the morning into the market-place, showing him self openly and conversing with his friends; then he anointed himself in the exercise ground, and, taking with him thence some of the young men that used to drink and spend their time with him, he went home; and presently after several of his servants were seen about the marketplace, one carrying garlands, another buying flambeaus, and a third speaking to the women that used to sing and play at banquets, all which things the spies observing were deceived, and said laughing to one another, "Certainly nothing can be more timorous than a tyrant, if Nicocles, being master of so great a city and so numerous a force, stands in fear of a youth that spends what he has to subsist upon in his banishment in pleasures and day-debauches;" and, being thus imposed upon, they returned home.
But Aratus, departing immediately after his morning meal, and coming to his soldiers at Polygnotus's tower, led them to Nemea; where he disclosed, to most of them for the first time; his true design, making them large promises and fair speeches, and marched towards the city, giving for the word Apollo victorious, proportioning his march to the motion of the moon, so as to have the benefit of her light upon the way, and to be in the garden, which was close to the wall, just as she was setting. Here Caphisias came to him, who had not secured the dogs, which had run away before he could catch them, but had only made sure of the gardener. Upon which most of the company being out of heart and desiring to retreat, Aratus encouraged them to go on, promising to retire in case the dogs were too troublesome; and at the same time sending forward those that carried the ladders, conducted by Ecdelus and Mnasitheus, he followed them himself leisurely, the dogs already barking very loud and following, the steps of Ecdelus and his companions. However, they got to the wall, and reared the ladders with safety. But as the foremost men were mounting them, the captain of the watch that was to be relieved by the morning guard passed on his way with the bell, and there were many lights, and a noise of people coming up. Hearing which, they clapped themselves close to the ladders, and so were unobserved; but as the other watch also was coming up to meet this, they were in extreme danger of being discovered. But when this also went by without observing them, immediately Mnasitheus and Ecdelus got upon the wall, and, possessing themselves of the approaches inside and out, sent away Technon to Aratus, desiring him to make all the haste he could.
Now there was no great distance from the garden to the wall and to the tower, in which latter a large hound was kept. The hound did not hear their steps of himself, whether that he were naturally drowsy, or overwearied the day before, but, the gardener's curs awaking him, he first began to growl and grumble in response, and then as they passed by to bark out aloud. And the barking was now so great, that the sentinel opposite shouted out to the dog's keeper to know why the dog kept such a barking, and whether anything was the matter; who answered, that it was nothing, but only that his dog had been set barking by the lights of the watch and the noise of the bell. This reply much encouraged Aratus's soldiers, who thought the dog's keeper was privy to their design, and wished to conceal what was passing, and that many others in the city were of the conspiracy. But when they came to scale the wall, the attempt then appeared both to require time and to be full of danger, for the ladders shook and tottered extremely unless they mounted them leisurely and one by one, and time pressed, for the cocks began to crow, and the country people that used to bring things to the market would be coming to the town directly. Therefore Aratus made haste to get up himself, forty only of the company being already upon the wall, and, staying but for a few more of those that were below, he made straight to the tyrant's house and the general's office, where the mercenary soldiers passed the night, and, coming suddenly upon them, and taking them prisoners without killing any one of them, he immediately sent to all his friends in their houses to desire them to come to him, which they did from all quarters. By this time the day began to break, and the theater was filled with a multitude that were held in suspense by uncertain reports and knew nothing distinctly of what had happened, until a public crier came forward and proclaimed that Aratus, the son of Clinias, invited the citizens to recover their liberty.
Then at last assured that what they so long looked for was come to pass, they pressed in throngs to the tyrant's gates to set them on fire. And such a flame was kindled, the whole house catching fire, that it was seen as far as Corinth; so that the Corinthians, wondering what the matter could be, were upon the point of coming to their assistance. Nicocles fled away secretly out of the city by means of certain underground passages, and the soldiers, helping the Sicyonians to quench the fire, plundered the house. This Aratus hindered not, but divided also the rest of the riches of the tyrants amongst the citizens. In this exploit, not one of those engaged in it was slain, nor any of the contrary party, fortune so ordering the action as to be clear and free from civil bloodshed. He restored eighty exiles who had been expelled by Nicocles, and no less than five hundred who had been driven out by former tyrants and had endured a long banishment, pretty nearly, by this time, of fifty years' duration. These returning, most of them very poor, were impatient to enter upon their former possessions, and, proceeding to their several farms and houses, gave great perplexity to Aratus, who considered that the city without was envied for its liberty and aimed at by Antigonus, and within was full of disorder and sedition. Wherefore, as things stood, he thought it best to associate it to the Achaean community, and so, although Dorians, they of their own will took upon them the name and citizenship of the Achaeans, who at that time had neither great repute nor much power. For the most of them lived in small towns, and their territory was neither large nor fruitful, and the neighboring sea was almost wholly without a harbor, breaking direct upon a rocky shore. But yet these above others made it appear that the Grecian courage was invincible, whensoever it could only have order and concord within itself and a prudent general to direct it. For though they had scarcely been counted as any part of the ancient Grecian power, and at this time did not equal the strength of one ordinary city, yet by prudence and unanimity, and because they knew how not to envy and malign, but to obey and follow him amongst them that was most eminent for virtue, they not only preserved their own liberty in the midst of so many great cities, military powers, and monarchies, but went on steadily saving and delivering from slavery great numbers of the Greeks.
As for Aratus, he was in his behavior a true statesman, high-minded, and more intent upon the public than his private concerns, a bitter hater of tyrants, making the common good the rule and law of his friendships and enmities. So that indeed he seems not to have been so faithful a friend, as he was a reasonable and gentle enemy, ready, according to the needs of the state, to suit himself on occasion to either side; concord between nations, brotherhood between cities, the council and the assembly unanimous in their votes, being the objects above all other blessings to which he was passionately devoted; backward, indeed, and diffident in the use of arms and open force, but in effecting a purpose underhand, and outwitting cities and potentates without observation, most politic and dexterous. Therefore, though he succeeded beyond hope in many enterprises which he undertook, yet he seems to have left quite as many unattempted, though feasible enough, for want of assurance. For it should seem, that, as the sight of certain beasts is strong in the night but dim by day, the tenderness of the humors of their eyes not bearing the contact of the light, so there is also one kind of human skill and sagacity which is easily daunted and disturbed in actions done in the open day and before the world, and recovers all its self-possession in secret and covert enterprises; which inequality is occasioned in noble minds for want of philosophy, a mere wild and uncultivated fruit of a virtue without true knowledge coming up; as might be made out by examples.
Aratus, therefore, having associated himself and his city to the Achaeans, served in the cavalry, and made himself much beloved by his commanding officers for his exact obedience; for though he had made so large an addition to the common strength as that of his own credit and the power of his country, yet he was as ready as the most ordinary person to be commanded by the Achaean general of the time being, whether he were a man of Dymae, or of Tritaea, or any yet meaner town than these. Having also a present of five and twenty talents sent him from the king, he took them, but gave them all to his fellow-citizens, who wanted money, amongst other purposes, for the redemption of those who had been taken prisoners.
But the exiles being by no means to be satisfied, disturbing continually those that were in possession of their estates, Sicyon was in great danger of falling into perfect desolation; so that, having no hope left but in the kindness of Ptolemy, he resolved to sail to him, and to beg so much money of him as might reconcile all parties. So he set sail from Mothone beyond Malea, designing to make the direct passage. But the pilot not being able to keep the vessel up against a strong wind and high waves that came in from the open sea, he was driven from his course, and with much ado got to shore in Andros, an enemy's land, possessed by Antigonus, who had a garrison there. To avoid which he immediately landed, and, leaving the ship, went up into the country a good way from the sea, having along with him only one friend, called Timanthes; and throwing themselves into some ground thickly covered with wood, they had but an ill night's rest of it. Not long after, the commander of the troops came, and, inquiring for Aratus, was deceived by his servants, who had been instructed to say that he had fled at once over into the island of Euboea. However, he declared the chip, the property on board of her, and the servants, to be lawful prize, and detained them accordingly. As for Aratus, after some few days, in his extremity by good fortune a Roman ship happened to put in just at the spot in which he made his abode, sometimes peeping out to seek his opportunity, sometimes keeping close. She was bound for Syria; but going aboard, he agreed with the master to land him in Caria. In which voyage he met with no less danger on the sea than before. From Caria being after much time arrived in Egypt, he immediately went to the king, who had a great kindness for him, and had received from him many presents of drawings and paintings out of Greece. Aratus had a very good judgment in them, and always took care to collect and send him the most curious and finished works, especially those of Pamphilus and Melanthus.
For the Sicyonian pieces were still in the height of their reputation, as being the only ones whose colors were lasting; so that Apelles himself, even after he had become well known and admired, went thither, and gave a talent to be admitted into the society of the painters there, not so much to partake of their skill, which he wanted not, but of their credit. And accordingly Aratus, when he freed the city, immediately took down the representations of the rest of the tyrants, but demurred a long time about that of Aristratus, who flourished in the time of Philip. For this Aristratus was painted by Melanthus and his scholars, standing by a chariot, in which a figure of Victory was carried, Apelles himself having had a hand in it, as Polemon the geographer reports. It was an extraordinary piece, and therefore Aratus was fain to spare it for the workmanship, and yet, instigated by the hatred he bore the tyrants, commanded it to be taken down. But Nealces the painter, one of Aratus's friends, entreated him, it is said, with tears in his eyes, to spare it, and, finding he did not prevail with him, told him at last he should carry on his war with the tyrants, but with the tyrants alone: "Let therefore the chariot and the Victory stand, and I will take means for the removal of Aristratus;" to which Aratus consenting, Nealces blotted out Aristratus, and in his place painted a palm-tree, not daring to add anything else of his own invention. The feet of the defaced figure of Aristratus are said to have escaped notice, and to be hid under the chariot. By these means Aratus got favor with the king, who, after he was more fully acquainted with him, loved him so much the more, and gave him for the relief of his city one hundred and fifty talents; forty of which he immediately carried away with him, when he sailed to Peloponnesus, but the rest the king divided into installments, and sent them to him afterwards at different times.
Assuredly it was a great thing to procure for his fellow-citizens a sum of money, a small portion of which had been sufficient, when presented by a king to other captains and popular leaders, to induce them to turn dishonest, and betray and give away their native countries to him. But it was a much greater, that by means of this money he effected a reconciliation and good understanding between the rich and poor, and created quiet and security for the whole people. His moderation, also, amidst so great power was very admirable. For being declared sole arbitrator and plenipotentiary for settling the questions of property in the case of the exiles, he would not accept the commission alone, but, associating with himself fifteen of the citizens, with great pains and trouble he succeeded in adjusting matters, and established peace and good-will in the city, for which good service, not only all the citizens in general bestowed extraordinary honors upon him, but the exiles, apart by themselves, erecting his statue in brass, inscribed on it these elegiac verses: —
Your counsels, deeds, and skill for Greece in war Known beyond Hercules's pillars are; But we this image, O Aratus, gave Of you who saved us, to the gods who save, By you from exile to our homes restored, That virtue and that justice to record, To which the blessing Sicyon owes this day Of wealth that's shared alike, and laws that all obey.
By his success in effecting these things, Aratus secured himself from the envy of his fellow-citizens, on account of the benefits they felt he had done them; but king Antigonus being troubled in his mind about him, and designing either wholly to bring him over to his party, or else to make him suspected by Ptolemy, besides other marks of his favor shown to him, who had little mind to receive them, added this too, that, sacrificing to the gods in Corinth, he sent portions to Aratus at Sicyon, and at the feast, where were many guests, he said openly, "I thought this Sicyonian youth had been only a lover of liberty and of his fellow-citizens, but now I look upon him as a good judge of the manners and actions of kings. For formerly he despised us, and, placing his hopes further off, admired the Egyptian riches, hearing so much of their elephants, fleets, and palaces. But after seeing all these at a nearer distance, perceiving them to be but mere stage show and pageantry, he is now come over to us. And for my part I willingly receive him, and, resolving to make great use of him myself, command you to look upon him as a friend." These words were soon taken hold of by those that envied and maligned him, who strove which of them should, in their letters to Ptolemy, attack him with the worst calumnies, so that Ptolemy sent to expostulate the matter with him; so much envy and ill-will did there always attend the so much contended for, and so ardently and passionately aspired to, friendships of princes and great men.
But Aratus, being now for the first time chosen general of the Achaeans, ravaged the country of Locris and Calydon, just over against Achaea, and then went to assist the Boeotians with ten thousand soldiers, but came not up to them until after the battle near Chaeronea had been fought, in which they were beaten by the Aetolians, with the loss of Aboeocritus the Boeotarch, and a thousand men besides. A year after, being again elected general, he resolved to attempt the capture of the Acro-Corinthus, not so much for the advantage of the Sicyonians or Achaeans, as considering that by expelling the Macedonian garrison he should free all Greece alike from a tyranny which oppressed every part of her. Chares the Athenian, having the good fortune to get the better, in a certain battle, of the king's generals, wrote to the people of Athens that this victory was "sister to that at Marathon." And so may this action be very safely termed sister to those of Pelopidas the Theban and Thrasybulus the Athenian, in which they slew the tyrants; except, perhaps, it exceed them upon this account, that it was not against natural Grecians, but against a foreign and stranger domination. The Isthmus, rising like a bank between the seas, collects into a single spot and compresses together the whole continent of Greece; and Acro-Corinthus, being a high mountain springing up out of the very middle of what here is Greece, whensoever it is held with a garrison, stands in the way and cuts off all Peloponnesus from intercourse of every kind, free passage of men and arms, and all traffic by sea and land, and makes him lord of all, that is master of it. Wherefore the younger Philip did not jest, but said very true, when he called the city of Corinth "the fetters of Greece." So that this post was always much contended for, especially by the kings and tyrants; and so vehemently was it longed for by Antigonus, that his passion for it came little short of that of frantic love; he was continually occupied with devising how to take it by surprise from those that were then masters of it, since he despaired to do it by open force.
Therefore Alexander, who held the place, being dead, poisoned by him, as is reported, and his wife Nicaea succeeding in the government and the possession of Acro-Corinthus, he immediately made use of his son, Demetrius, and, giving her pleasing hopes of a royal marriage and of a happy life with a youth, whom a woman now growing old might well find agreeable, with this lure of his son he succeeded in taking her; but the place itself she did not deliver up, but continued to hold it with a very strong garrison, of which he seeming to take no notice, celebrated the wedding in Corinth, entertaining them with shows and banquets everyday, as one that has nothing else in his mind but to give himself up for awhile to indulgence in pleasure and mirth. But when the moment came, and Amoebeus began to sing in the theater, he waited himself upon Nicaea to the play, she being carried in a royally-decorated chair, extremely pleased with her new honor, not dreaming of what was intended. As soon, therefore, as they were come to the turning which led up to the citadel, he desired her to go on before him to the theater, but for himself, bidding farewell to the music, farewell to the wedding, he went on faster than one would have thought his age would have admitted to the Acro-Corinthus, and, finding the gate shut, knocked with his staff, commanding them to open, which they within, being amazed, did. And having thus made himself master of the place, he could not contain himself for joy; but, though an old man, and one that had seen so many turns of fortune, he must needs revel it in the open streets and the midst of the market-place, crowned with garlands and attended with flute-women, inviting everybody he met to partake in his festivity. So much more does joy without discretion transport and agitate the mind than either fear or sorrow. Antigonus, therefore, having in this manner possessed himself of Acro-Corinthus, put a garrison into it of those he trusted most, making Persaeus the philosopher governor.
Now Aratus, even in the lifetime of Alexander, had made an attempt, but, a confederacy being made between Alexander and the Achaeans, he desisted. But now he started afresh, with a new plan of effecting the thing, which was this: there were in Corinth four brothers, Syrians born, one of whom, called Diocles, served as a soldier in the garrison, but the three others, having stolen some gold of the king's, came to Sicyon, to one Aegias, a banker, whom Aratus made use of in his business. To him they immediately sold part of their gold, and the rest one of them, called Erginus, coming often thither, exchanged by parcels. Becoming, by this means, familiarly acquainted with Aegias, and being by him led into discourses concerning the fortress, he told him that in going up to his brother he had observed, in the face of the rock, a side-cleft, leading to that part of the wall of the castle which was lower than the rest. At which Aegias joking with him and saying, "So, you wise man, for the sake of a little gold you have broken into the king's treasure; when you might, if you chose, get money in abundance for a single hour's work, burglary, you know, and treason being punished with the same death," Erginus laughed and told him then, he would break the thing to Diocles (for he did not altogether trust his other brothers), and, returning within a few days, he bargained to conduct Aratus to that part of the wall where it was no more than fifteen feet high, and to do what else should be necessary, together with his brother Diocles.
Aratus, therefore, agreed to give them sixty talents if he succeeded, but if he failed in his enterprise, and yet he and they came off safe, then he would give each of them a house and a talent. Now the threescore talents being to be deposited in the hands of Aegias for Erginus and his partners, and Aratus neither having so much by him, nor willing, by borrowing it from others, to give anyone a suspicion of his design, he pawned his plate and his wife's golden ornaments to Aegias for the money. For so high was his temper, and so strong his passion for noble actions, that, even as he had heard that Phocion and Epaminondas were the best and justest of the Greeks, because they refused the greatest presents and would not surrender their duty for money, so he now chose to be at the expense of this enterprise privately, and to advance all the cost out of his own property, taking the whole hazard on himself for the sake of the rest that did not so much as know what was doing. And who indeed can withhold, even now, his admiration for and his sympathy with the generous mind of one, who paid so largely to purchase so great a risk, and lent out his richest possessions to have an opportunity to expose his own life, by entering among his enemies in the dead of the night, without desiring any other security for them than the hope of a noble success.
Now the enterprise, though dangerous enough in itself, was made much more so by an error happening through mistake in the very beginning. For Technon, one of Aratus's servants, was sent away to Diocles, that they might together view the wall. Now he had never seen Diocles, but made no question of knowing him by the marks Erginus had given him of him; namely, that he had curly hair, a swarthy complexion, and no beard. Being come, therefore, to the appointed place, he stayed waiting for Erginus and Diocles outside the town, in front of the place called Ornis. In the meantime, Dionysius, elder brother to Erginus and Diocles, who knew nothing at all of the matter, but much resembled Diocles, happened to pass by. Technon, upon this likeness, all being in accordance with what he had been told, asked him if he knew Erginus; and on his replying that he was his brother, taking it for granted that he was speaking with Diocles, not so much as asking his name or staying for any other token, he gave him his hand, and began to discourse with him and ask him questions about matters agreed upon with Erginus. Dionysius, cunningly taking the advantage of his mistake, seemed to understand him very well, and returning towards the city, led him on, still talking, without any suspicion. And being now near the gate, he was just about to seize on him, when by chance again Erginus met them, and, apprehending the cheat and the danger, beckoned to Technon to make his escape, and immediately both of them, betaking themselves to their heels, ran away as fast as they could to Aratus, who for all this despaired not, but immediately sent away Erginus to Dionysius to bribe him to hold his tongue. And he not only effected that, but also brought him along with him to Aratus. But, when they had him, they no longer left him at liberty, but binding him, they kept him close shut up in a room, whilst they prepared for executing their design.
All things being now ready, he commanded the rest of his forces to pass the night by their arms, and taking with him four hundred chosen men, few of whom knew what they were going about, he led them to the gates by the temple of Juno. It was the midst of summer, and the moon was at full, and the night so clear without any clouds, that there was danger lest the arms glistening in the moonlight should discover them. But as the foremost of them came near the city, a mist came off from the sea, and darkened the city itself and the outskirts about it. Then the rest of them, sitting down, put off their shoes, because men both make less noise and also climb surer, if they go up ladders barefooted, but Erginus, taking with him seven young men dressed like travelers, got unobserved to the gate, and killed the sentry with the other guards. And at the same time the ladders were clapped to the walls, and Aratus, having in great haste got up a hundred men, commended the rest to follow as they could, and immediately drawing up his ladders after him, he marched through the city with his hundred men towards the castle, being already overjoyed that he was undiscovered, and not doubting of the success. But while still they were some way off, a watch of four men came with a light, who did not see them, because they were still in the shade of the moon, but were seen plainly enough themselves as they came on directly towards them. So withdrawing a little way amongst some walls and plots for houses, they lay in wait for them; and three of them they killed. But the fourth, being wounded in the head with a sword, fled, crying out that the enemy was in the city. And immediately the trumpets sounded, and all the city was in an uproar at what had happened, and the streets were full of people running up and down, and many lights were seen shining both below in the town, and above in the castle, and a confused noise was to be heard in all parts.
In the meantime, Aratus was hard at work struggling to get up the rocks, at first slowly and with much difficulty, straying continually from the path, which lay deep, and was overshadowed with the crags, leading to the wall with many windings and turnings; but the moon immediately and as if by miracle, it is said, dispersing the clouds, shone out and gave light to the most difficult part of the way, until he got to that part of the wall he desired, and there she overshadowed and hid him, the clouds coming together again. Those soldiers whom Aratus had left outside the gate, near Juno's temple, to the number of three hundred, entering the town, now full of tumult and lights, and not knowing the way by which the former had gone, and finding no track of them, slunk aside, and crowded together in one body under a flank of the cliff that cast a strong shadow, and there stood and waited in great distress and perplexity. For, by this time, those that had gone with Aratus were attacked with missiles from the citadel, and were busy fighting, and a sound of cries of battle came down from above, and a loud noise, echoed back and back from the mountain sides, and therefore confused and uncertain whence it proceeded, was heard on all sides. They being thus in doubt which way to turn themselves, Archelaus, the commander of Antigonus's troops, having a great number of soldiers with him, made up towards the castle with great shouts and noise of trumpets to fall upon Aratus's people, and passed by the three hundred, who, as if they had risen out of an ambush, immediately charged him, killing the first they encountered, and so affrighted the rest, together with Archelaus, that they put them to flight and pursued them until they had quite broke and dispersed them about the city. No sooner were these defeated, but Erginus came to them from those that were fighting above, to acquaint them that Aratus was engaged with the enemy, who defended themselves very stoutly, and there was a fierce conflict at the very wall, and need of speedy help. They therefore desired him to lead them on without delay, and, marching up, they by their shouts made their friends understand who they were, and encouraged them; and the full moon, shining on their arms, made them, in the long line by which they advanced, appear more in number to the enemy than they were; and the echo of the night multiplied their shouts. In short, falling on with the rest, they made the enemy give way, and were masters of the castle and garrison, day now beginning to be bright, and the rising sun shining out upon their success. By this time, also, the rest of his army came up to Aratus from Sicyon, the Corinthians joyfully receiving them at the gates and helping them to secure the king's party.
And now, having put all things into a safe posture, he came down from the castle to the theater, an infinite number of people crowding thither to see him and to hear what he would say to the Corinthians. Therefore drawing up the Achaeans on each side of the stage-passages, he came forward himself upon the stage, with his corslet still on, and his face showing the effects of all his hard work and want of sleep, so that his natural exultation and joyfulness of mind were overborne by the weariness of his body. The people, as soon as he came forth, breaking out into great applauses and congratulations, he took his spear in his right hand, and, resting his body upon it with his knee a little bent, stood a good while in that posture, silently receiving their shouts and acclamations, while they extolled his valor and wondered at his fortune; which being over, standing up, he began an oration in the name of the Achaeans, suitable to the late action, persuading the Corinthians to associate themselves to the Achaeans, and withal delivered up to them the keys of their gates, which had never been in their power since the time of king Philip. Of the captains of Antigonus, he dismissed Archelaus, whom he had taken prisoner, and Theophrastus, who refused to quit his post, he put to death. As for Persaeus, when he saw the castle was lost, he had got away to Cenchreae, where, some time after, discoursing with one that said to him that the wise man only is a true general, "Indeed," he replied, "none of Zeno's maxims once pleased me better than this, but I have been converted to another opinion by the young man of Sicyon." This is told by many of Persaeus. Aratus, immediately after, made himself master of the temple of Juno and haven of Lechaeum, seized upon five and twenty of the king's ships, together with five hundred horses and four hundred Syrians; these he sold. The Achaeans kept guard in the Acro-Corinthus with a body of four hundred soldiers, and fifty dogs with as many keepers.