Beyond the Boundaries of Fantasia: An ancient imagining of the future of leadership

Step Five: Analyzing Cyrus' dialogue with his father, the king Cambyses (1:00)

In Chapter Six of Book One of the Education of Cyrus we find Cyrus returned to his home in Persia, to make plans for his campaign against the Assyrians and to finish his education in the form of a dialogue with his father, the king Cambyses.

Listening for Leadership

Xenophon's Education of Cyrus, Book One, Chapter Six, Translation by Walter Miller

(1.6.1) Now, when Cyrus had gone home and prayed to ancestral Hestia, ancestral Zeus, and the rest of the gods, he set out upon his expedition; and his father also joined in escorting him on his way. And when they were out of the house, it is said to have thundered and lightened with happy auspices for him; and when this manifestation had been made, they proceeded, without taking any further auspices, in the conviction that no one would make void the signs of the supreme god.

(1.6.2) Then, as they went on, his father began to speak to Cyrus on this wise:

“My son, it is evident both from the sacrifices and from the signs from the skies that the gods are sending you forth with their grace and favour; and you yourself must recognize it, for I had you taught this art on purpose that you might not have to learn the counsels of the gods through others as interpreters, but that you yourself, both seeing what is to be seen and hearing what is to be heard, might understand; for I would not have you at the mercy of the soothsayers, in case they should wish to deceive you by saying other things than those revealed by the gods; and furthermore, if ever you should be without a soothsayer, I would not have you in doubt as to what to make of the divine revelations, but by your soothsayer's art I would have you understand the counsels of the gods and obey them.”

(1.6.3) “Aye, father,” said Cyrus, “as you have taught me, I always try to take care, as far as I can, that the gods may be gracious unto us and willingly give us counsel; for I remember,” said he, “having once heard you say that that man would be more likely to have power with the gods, even as with men, who did not fawn upon them when he was in adversity, but remembered the gods most of all when he was in the highest prosperity. And for one's friends also, you said, one ought always to show one's regard in precisely the same way.”

(1.6.4) “Well, my son,” said he, “and owing to that very regard do you not come to the gods with a better heart to pray, and do you not expect more confidently to obtain what you pray for, because you feel conscious of never having neglected them?”

“Yes, indeed, father,” said he; “I feel toward the gods as if they were my friends.”

(1.6.5) “To be sure,” said his father; “and do you remember the conclusion which once we reached—that as people who know what the gods have granted fare better than those who do not; as people who work accomplish more than those who are idle; as people who are careful live more securely than those who are indifferent; so in this matter it seemed to us that those only who had made themselves what they ought to be had a right to ask for corresponding blessings from the gods?”

(1.6.6) “Yes, by Zeus,” said Cyrus; “I do indeed remember hearing you say so, and all the more because I could not help but agree with what you said. For I know that you always used to say that those who had not learned to ride had no right to ask the gods to give them victory in a cavalry battle; and those who did not know how to shoot had no right to ask to excel in marksmanship those who did know how; and those who did not know how to steer had no right to pray that they might save ships by taking the helm; neither had those who did not sow at all any right to pray for a fine crop, nor those who were not watchful in war to ask for preservation; for all that is contrary to the ordinances of the gods. You said, moreover, that it was quite as likely that those who prayed for what was not right should fail of success with the gods as that those who asked for what was contrary to human law should be disappointed at the hands of men.”

(1.6.7) “But, my son, have you forgotten the discussion you and I once had—that it was a great task and one worthy of a man, to do the best he could not only to prove himself a truly good and noble man but also to provide a good living both for himself and his household? And while this was a great task, still, to understand how to govern other people so that they might have all the necessaries of life in abundance and might all become what they ought to be, this seemed to us worthy of all admiration.”

(1.6.8) “Yes, by Zeus, father,” said he, “I do remember your saying this also; and I agreed with you, too, that it was an exceedingly difficult task to govern well; and now,” said he, “I hold this same opinion still, when I consider the matter and think of the principles of governing. When I look at other people, however, and observe what sort of men those are who, in spite of their character, continue to rule over them, and what sort of opponents we are going to have, it seems to me an utter disgrace to show any respect for such as they are and not to wish to go to fight them. To begin with our own friends here,” he continued, “I observe that the Medes consider it necessary for the one who governs them to surpass the governed in greater sumptuousness of fare, in the possession of more money in his palace, in longer hours of sleep, and in a more luxurious manner of life, in every respect, than the governed. But I think,” he added, “that the ruler ought to surpass those under his rule not in self-indulgence, but in taking forethought and willingly undergoing toil.”

(1.6.9) “But let me tell you, my boy,” said the other, “there are some instances in which we must wrestle not against men but against actual facts, and it is not so easy to get the better of these without trouble. For instance, you doubtless know that if your army does not receive its rations, your authority will soon come to naught.”

“Yes, father,” said he; “but Cyaxares says that he will furnish supplies for all who come from here, however many they be.”

“But, my son,” said he, “do you mean to say that you are marching out trusting to the funds at the command of Cyaxares?”

“Yes, I do,” said Cyrus.

“But say,” said his father, “do you know how much he has?”

“No, by Zeus,” said Cyrus, “I know nothing about it.”

“And do you nevertheless trust to these uncertainties? And do you not know that you will need many things and that he must now have many other expenses?”

“Yes,” said Cyrus, “I do.”

“Well, then,” said he, “if his resources fail or if he play you false on purpose, how will your army fare?”

“Evidently not very well; but father,” said he, “if you have in mind any means that I might find at my own command for obtaining supplies, tell me about it, while we are still in a friendly country.”

(1.6.10) “Do you ask me, my son,” said he, “where you might yourself find means? Where might you better look to find the means of obtaining supplies than to the one who has an army? Now you are marching out from here with a force of infantry which you would not exchange, I am sure, for any other though many time as large; and you will have for cavalry to support you the Median horse, the best cavalry troops in the world. What nation, then, of those around do you suppose will refuse to serve you, both from the wish to do your side a favour, and for fear of suffering harm? And therefore in common with Cyaxares you should take care that you may never be without any of the things you need to have, and as a matter of habit, too, contrive some means of revenue. And above all I beg you to remember this: never postpone procuring supplies until want compels you to it; but when you have the greatest abundance, then take measures against want. And this is most expedient; for you will obtain more from those upon whom you make demands, if you do not seem to be in want, and besides you will thus be blameless in the eyes of your own soldiers; in this way, furthermore, you will command more respect from others also, and if you wish to do good or ill to any one with your forces, your soldiers will serve you better as long as they have what they need. And let me assure you that the words you say will have more more power to convince, when you can abundantly prove that you are in a position to do both good and ill.”

(1.6.11) “Well, father,” said he, “it seems to me that you are right in all you say, both on other grounds and also because not one of my soldiers will be grateful to me for that which according to the agreement he is to receive; for they know on what terms Cyaxares is having them brought as his allies. But whatever any one receives in addition to what has been agreed upon, that he will consider as a reward, and he will probably be grateful to the giver. But for a man to have an army with which he may do good to his friends and get help in return and try to punish his enemies, and for him then to neglect to make due provision for it, do you think,” said he, “that this is in any way less disgraceful than for a man to have fields and labourers to work them and after all to let his land lie idle and unprofitable? But,” he added, “I, at any rate, shall not fail to provide supplies for my men, whether in a friendly or in a hostile land—you may be certain of that.”

(1.6.12) “Well then, my boy,” said his father, “tell me, do you remember the other points which, we agreed, must not be neglected—eh?”

“Yes,” said he, “I remember well when I came to you for money to pay to the man who professed to have taught me to be a general; and you, while you gave it me, asked a question something like this: ‘Of course,’ you said, ‘the man to whom you are taking the pay has given you instruction in domestic economy as a part of the duties of a general, has he not? At any rate, the soldiers need provisions no whit less than the servants in your house.’ And when I told you the truth and said that he had given me no instruction whatever in this subject, you asked me further whether he had said anything to me about health or strength, inasmuch as it would be requisite for the general to take thought for these matters as well as for the conduct of his campaign.

(1.6.13) And when I said ‘no’ to this also, you asked me once more whether he had taught me any arts that would be the best helps in the business of war. And when I said ‘no’ to this as well, you put this further question, whether he had put me through any training so that I might be able to inspire my soldiers with enthusiasm, adding that in every project enthusiasm or faintheartedness made all the difference in the world. And when I shook my head in response to this likewise, you questioned me again whether he had given me any lessons to teach me how best to secure obedience on the part of an army.

(1.6.14) And when this also appeared not to have been discussed at all, you finally asked me what in the world he had been teaching me that he professed to have been teaching me generalship. And thereupon I answered, ‘tactics.’ And you laughed and went through it all, explaining point by point, as you asked of what conceivable use tactics could be to an army, without provisions and health, and of what use it could be without the knowledge of the arts invented for warfare and without obedience. And when you had made it clear to me that tactics was only a small part of generalship, I asked you if you could teach me any of those things, and you bade me go and talk with the men who were reputed to be masters of military science and find out how each one of those problems was to be met.

(1.6.15) Thereupon I joined myself to those who I heard were most proficient in those branches. And in regard to provisions—I was persuaded that what Cyaxares was to furnish us was enough if it should be forthcoming; and in regard to health—as I had always heard and observed that states that wished to be healthy elected a board of health, and also that generals for the sake of their soldiers took physicians out with them, so also when I was appointed to this position, I immediately took thought for this; and I think,” he added, “that you will find that I have with me men eminent in the medical profession.”

Said his father in reply to this,

(1.6.16) “Yes, my son, but just as there are menders of torn garments, so also these physicians whom you mention heal us when we fall sick. But your responsibility for health will be a larger one than that: you must see to it that your army does not get sick at all.”

“And pray what course shall I take, father,” said he, “that I may be able to accomplish that?”

“In the first place, if you are going to stay for some time in the same neighbourhood, you must not neglect to find a sanitary location for your camp; and with proper attention you can not fail in this. For people are continually talking about unhealthful localities and localities that are healthful; and you may find clear witnesses to either in the physique and complexion of the inhabitants; and in the second place, it is not enough to have regard to the localities only, but tell me what means you adopt to keep well yourself.”

(1.6.17) “In the first place, by Zeus,” said Cyrus, “I try never to eat too much, for that is oppressive; and in the second place, I work off by exercise what I have eaten, for by so doing health seems more likely to endure and strength to accrue.”

“That, then, my son,” said he, “is the way in which you must take care of the rest also.”

“Yes, father,” said he; “but will the soldiers find leisure for taking physical exercise?”

“Nay, by Zeus,” said his father, “they not only can, but they actually must. For if an army is to do its duty, it is absolutely necessary that it never cease to contrive both evil for the enemy and good for itself. What a burden it is to support even one idle man! It is more burdensome still to support a whole household in idleness; but the worst burden of all is to support an army in idleness. For not only are the mouths in an army very numerous but the supplies they start with are exceedingly limited, and they use up most extravagantly whatever they get, so that an army must never be left idle.”

(1.6.18) “Methinks you mean, father,” said he, “that just as a lazy farmer is of no account, so also a lazy general is of no account at all.”

“But at any rate, as regards the energetic general,” said his father, “I can vouch for it that, unless some god do cross him, he will keep his soldiers abundantly supplied with provisions and at the same time in the best physical condition.”

“Yes,” said Cyrus; “but at all events, as to practice in the various warlike exercises, it seems to me, father, that by announcing contests in each one and offering prizes you would best secure practice in them, so that you would have everything prepared for use, whenever you might need it.”

“Quite right, my son,” said he; “for if you do that you may be sure that you will see your companies performing their proper parts like trained sets of dancers.”

(1.6.19) “In the next place,” said Cyrus, “for putting enthusiasm into the soldiers nothing seems to be more effectual than the power of inspiring men with hopes.”

“Yes, my son,” said he; “but that is just as if any one on a hunt should always call up his dogs with the call that he uses when he sees the quarry. For at first, to be sure, he will find them obeying him eagerly; but if he deceives them often, in the end they will not obey him when he calls, even though he really does see a wild beast. So it stands with respect to those hopes also. If any one too often raises false expectations of good things to come, eventually he can gain no credence, even when he holds forth well-grounded hopes. But, my son, you should refrain from saying what you are not perfectly sure of; by making certain others your mouthpiece, however, the desired end may be accomplished; but faith in your own words of encouragement you must keep sacred to the utmost to serve you in the greatest crises.”

“Yes, by Zeus, father,” said Cyrus; “I think you are right in what you say, and I like your idea better.

(1.6.20) And then in regard to keeping the soldiers in a state of obedience, I think, father, that I am not inexperienced in that direction; for you instructed me in obedience from my very childhood on, compelling me to obey you. Then you surrendered me to the charge of my teachers, and they pursued the same course; and when we were in the class of young men, the officer in charge paid especial attention to this same point; and most of the laws seem to me to teach these two things above all else, to govern and to be governed. And now, when I think of it, it seems to me that in all things the chief incentive to obedience lies in this: praise and honour for the obedient, punishment and dishonour for the disobedient.”

(1.6.21) “This, my son, is the road to compulsory obedience, indeed, but there is another road, a short cut, to what is much better—namely, to willing obedience. For people are only too glad to obey the man who they believe takes wiser thought for their interests than they themselves do. And you might recognize that this is so in many instances but particularly in the case of the sick: how readily they call in those who are to prescribe what they must do; and at sea how cheerfully the passengers obey the captain; and how earnestly travellers desire not to get separated from those who they think are better acquainted with the road than they are. But when people think that they are going to get into trouble if they obey, they will neither yield very much for punishment nor will they be moved by gifts; for no one willingly accepts even a gift at the cost of trouble to himself.”

(1.6.22) “You mean to say, father, that nothing is more effectual toward keeping one's men obedient than to seem to be wiser than they?”

“Yes,” said he, “that is just what I mean.”

“And how, pray, father, could one most quickly acquire such a reputation for oneself?”

“There is no shorter road, my son,” said he, “than really to be wise in those things in which you wish to seem to be wise; and when you examine concrete instances, you will realize that what I say is true. For example, if you wish to seem to be a good farmer when you are not, or a good rider, doctor, flute-player, or anything else that you are not, just think how many schemes you must invent to keep up your pretensions. And even if you should persuade any number of people to praise you, in order to give yourself a reputation, and if you should procure a fine outfit for each of your professions, you would soon be found to have practised deception; and not long after, when you were giving an exhibition of your skill, you would be shown up and convicted, too, as an impostor.”

(1.6.23) “But how could one become really wise in foreseeing that which will prove to be useful?”

“Obviously, my son,” said he, “by learning all that it is possible to acquire by learning, just as you learned tactics. But whatever it is not possible for man to learn, nor for human wisdom to foresee, that you may find out from the gods by the soothsayer's art, and thus prove yourself wiser than others; and if you know anything that it would be best to have done, you would show yourself wiser than others if you should exert yourself to get that done; for it is a mark of greater wisdom in a man to strive to secure what is needful than to neglect it.”

(1.6.24) “Yes; but as to the love of one's subjects—and this, it seems to me at least, is one of the most important questions—the same course that you would take if you wished to gain the affection of your friends leads also to that; that is, I think, you must show yourself to be their benefactor.”

“Yes, my son,” said he; “it is a difficult matter, however, always to be in a position to do good to whom you will; but to show that you rejoice with them if any good befall them, that you sympathize with them if any ill betide, that you are eager to help them in times of distress, that you are anxious that they be not crossed in any way, and that you try to prevent their being crossed; it is in these respects somehow that you ought rather to go hand in hand with them.

(1.6.25) And in his campaigns also, if they fall in the summer time, the general must show that he can endure the heat of the sun better than his soldiers can, and that he can endure cold better than they if it be in winter; if the way lead through difficulties, that he can endure hardships better. All this contributes to his being loved by his men.”

“You mean to say, father,” said he, “that in everything the general must show more endurance than his men.”

“Yes,” said he, “that is just what I mean; however, never fear for that, my son; for bear in mind that the same toils do not affect the general and the private in the same way, though they have the same sort of bodies; but the honour of the general's position and the very consciousness that nothing he does escapes notice lighten the burdens for him.”

(1.6.26) “But, father, when once your soldiers had supplies and were well and able to endure toils, and when they were practised in the arts of war and ambitious to prove themselves brave, and when they were more inclined to obey than to disobey, under such circumstances do you not think it would be wise to desire to engage the enemy at the very first opportunity?”

“Yes, by Zeus,” said he; “at any rate, if I expected to gain some advantage by it; otherwise, for my part, the better I though myself to be and the better my followers, the more should I be on my guard, just as we try to keep other things also which we hold most precious in the greatest possible security.”

(1.6.27) “But, father, what would be the best way to gain an advantage over the enemy?”

“By Zeus,” said he, “this is no easy or simple question that you ask now, my son; but, let me tell you, the man who proposes to do that must be designing and cunning, wily and deceitful, a thief and a robber, overreaching the enemy at every point.”

“O Heracles, father,” said Cyrus with a laugh, “what a man you say I must become!”

“Such, my son,” he said, “that you would be at the same time the most righteous and law-abiding man in the world.”

(1.6.28) “Why then, pray, did you use to teach us the opposite of this when we were boys and youths?”

“Aye, by Zeus,” said he; “and so we would have you still towards your friends and fellow-citizens; but, that you might be able to hurt your enemies, do you not know that you all were learning many villainies?”

“No, indeed, father,” said he; “not I, at any rate.”

“Why,” said he, “did you learn to shoot, and why to throw the spear? Why did you learn to ensnare wild boars with nets and pitfalls, and deer with traps and toils? And why were you not used to confront lions and bears and leopards in a fair fight face to face instead of always trying to contend against them with some advantage on your side? Why, do you not know that all this is villainy and deceit and trickery and taking unfair advantage?”

(1.6.29) “Yes, by Zeus,” said he, “toward wild animals however; but if I ever even seemed to wish to deceive a man, I know that I got a good beating for it.”

“Yes,” said he; “for, methinks, we did not permit you to shoot at people nor to throw your spear at them; but we taught you to shoot at a mark, in order that you might not for the time at least do harm to your friends, but, in case there should ever be a war, that you might be able to aim well at men also. And we instructed you likewise to deceive and to take advantage, not in the case of men but of beasts, in order that you might not injure your friends by so doing, but, if there should ever be a war, that you might not be unpractised in these arts.”

(1.6.30) “Well then, father,” said he, “if indeed it is useful to understand both how to do good and how to do evil to men, we ought to have been taught both these branches in the case of men, too.”

(1.6.31) “Yes, my son,” said he; “it is said that in the time of our forefathers there was once a teacher of the boys who, it seems, used to teach them justice in the very way that you propose; to lie and not to lie, to cheat and not to cheat, to slander and not to slander, to take and not to take unfair advantage. And he drew the line between what one should do to one's friends and what to one's enemies. And what is more, he used to teach this: that it was right to deceive friends even, provided it were for a good end, and to steal the possessions of a friend for a good purpose.

(1.6.32) And in teaching these lessons he had also to train the boys to practise them upon one another, just as also in wrestling, the Greeks, they say, teach deception and train the boys to be able to practise it upon one another. When, therefore, some had in this way become expert both in deceiving successfully and in taking unfair advantage and perhaps also not inexpert in avarice, they did not refrain from trying to take an unfair advantage even of their friends.

(1.6.33) In consequence of that, therefore, an ordinance was passed which obtains even unto this day, simply to teach our boys, just as we teach our servants in their relations toward us, to tell the truth and not to deceive and not to take unfair advantage; and if they should act contrary to this law, the law requires their punishment, in order that, inured to such habits, they may become more refined members of society.

(1.6.34) But when they came to be as old as you are now, then it seemed to be safe to teach them that also which is lawful toward enemies; for it does not seem likely that you would break away and degenerate into savages after you had been brought up together in mutual respect. In the same way we do not discuss sexual matters in the presence of very young boys, lest in case lax discipline should give a free rein to their passions the young might indulge them to excess.”

(1.6.35) “True, by Zeus,” said he; “but seeing that I am late in learning about this art of taking advantage of others, do not neglect to teach me, father, if you can, how I may take advantage of the enemy.”

“Contrive, then,” said he, “as far as is in your power, with your own men in good order to catch the enemy in disorder, with your own men armed to come upon them unarmed, and with your own men awake to surprise them sleeping, and then you will catch them in an unfavourable position while you yourself are in a strong position, when they are in sight to you and while you yourself are unseen.”

(1.6.36) “And how, father,” said he, “could one catch the enemy making such mistakes?”

“Why, my son,” said he, “both you and the enemy must necessarily offer many such opportunities; for instance, you must both eat, and you must both sleep, and early in the morning you must almost all at the same time attend to the calls of nature, and you must make use of such roads as you find. All this you must observe, and you must be particularly watchful on the side where you know yourselves to be weaker, and you must attack the enemy above all in that quarter in which you see that they are most vulnerable.”

(1.6.37) “And is it possible to take advantage in these ways only,” said Cyrus, “or in other ways also?”

“Aye, far more in other ways, my son,” said he; “for in these particulars all men, as a rule, take strict precautions; for they know that they must. But those whose business it is to deceive the enemy can catch them off their guard by inspiring them with over-confidence; and, by offering them the opportunity of pursuit, can get them into disorder; and, by leading them on into unfavourable ground by pretended flight, can there turn and attack them.

(1.6.38) However, my son,” he continued, “since you are desirous of learning all these matters, you must not only utilize what you may learn from others, but you must yourself also be an inventor of stratagems against the enemy, just as musicians render not only those compositions which they have learned but try to compose others also that are new. Now if in music that which is new and fresh wins applause, new stratagems in warfare also win far greater applause, for such can deceive the enemy even more successfully.

(1.6.39) “And if you, my son,” he went on, “should do nothing more than apply to your dealings with men the tricks that you used to practise so constantly in dealing with small game, do you not think that you would make a very considerable advance in the art of taking advantage of the enemy? For you used to get up in the coldest winter weather and go out before daylight to catch birds, and before the birds were astir you had your snares laid ready for them and the ground disturbed had been made exactly like the ground undisturbed; and your decoy birds had been so trained as to serve your purposes and to deceive the birds of the same species, while you yourself would lie in hiding so as to see them but not to be seen by them; and you had practised drawing your nets before the birds could escape.

(1.6.40) And again, to catch the hare—because he feeds in the night and hides in the daytime—you used to breed dogs that would find him out by the scent. And because he ran so fast, when he was found, you used to have other dogs trained to catch him by coursing. And in case he escaped even these, you used to find out the runs and the places where hares take refuge and may be caught, and there you would spread out your nets so as to be hardly visible, and the hare in his headlong flight would plunge into them and entangle himself. And lest he escape even from that, you used to station men to watch for what might happen and to pounce upon him suddenly from a place near by. And you yourself from behind shouting with a cry that kept right up with the hare would frighten him so that he would lose his wits and be taken; those in front, on the other hand, you had instructed to keep silent and made them lie concealed in ambush.

(1.6.41) “As I said before, then, if you would employ such schemes on men also, I am inclined to think that you would not come short of any enemy in the world. But if it is ever necessary—as it may well be—to join battle in the open field, in plain sight, with both armies in full array, why, in such a case, my son, the advantages that have been long since secured are of much avail; by that I mean, if your soldiers are physically in good training, if their hearts are well steeled and the arts of war well studied.

(1.6.42) Besides, you must remember well that all those from whom you expect obedience to you will, on their part, expect you to take thought for them. So never be careless, but think out at night what your men are to do for you when day comes, and in the daytime think out how the arrangements for the night may best be made.

(1.6.43) But how you ought to draw up an army in battle array, or how you ought to lead it by day or by night, by narrow ways or broad, over mountains or plains, or how you should pitch camp, or how station your sentinels by night or by day, or how you should advance against the enemy or retreat before them, or how you should lead past a hostile city, or how attack a fortification or withdraw from it, or how you should cross ravines or rivers, or how you should protect yourself against cavalry or spearmen or bowmen, and if the enemy should suddenly come in sight while you are leading on in column, how you should form and take your stand against them, and if they should come in sight from any other quarter than in front as you are marching in phalanx, how you should form and face them, or how any one might best find out the enemy's plans or how the enemy might be least likely to learn his—why should I tell you all these things? For what I, for my part, know, you have often heard; and if any one else had a reputation for understanding anything of that kind, you never neglected to get information from him, nor have you been uninstructed. I think, then, that you should turn this knowledge to account according to circumstances, as each item of it may appear serviceable to you.

(1.6.44) “Learn this lesson, too, from me, my son,” said he; “it is the most important thing of all: never go into any danger either to yourself or to your army contrary to the omens or the auspices, and bear in mind that men choose lines of action by conjecture and do not know in the least from which of them success will come.

(1.6.45) But you may derive this lesson from the facts of history; for many, and men, too, who seemed most wise, have ere now persuaded states to take up arms against others, and the states thus persuaded to attack have been destroyed. And many have made many others great, both individuals and states; and when they have exalted them, they have suffered the most grievous wrongs at their hands. And many who might have treated people as friends and done them favours and received favours from them, have received their just deserts from these very people because they preferred to treat them like slaves rather than as friends. Many, too, not satisfied to live contentedly in the enjoyment of their own proper share, have lost even that which they had, because they have desired to be lords of everything; and many, when they have gained the much coveted wealth, have been ruined by it.

(1.6.46) So we see that mere human wisdom does not know how to choose what is best any more than if any one were to cast lots and do as the lot fell. But the gods, my son, the eternal gods, know all things, both what has been and what is and what shall come to pass as a result of each present or past event; and if men consult them, they reveal to those to whom they are propitious what they ought to do and what they ought not to do. But if they are not willing to give counsel to everybody, that is not surprising; for they are under no compulsion to care for any one unless they will.”

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