|Do not fly Iberia
Translated by Wilmer Cave Wright
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And now do you want me [Note 1] to tell you also my tutor's [Note 2] name and the nationality of the man who used to say these things? He was a barbarian, by the gods and goddesses; by birth he was a Scythian, and he had the same name as the man [Note 3] who persuaded Xerxes to invade Greece. Moreover he was a eunuch, a word which, twenty months ago, was constantly heard and revered, though it is now applied as an insult and a term of abuse. He had been brought up under the patronage of my grandfather, in order that he might instruct my mother in the poems of Homer and Hesiod. And since she, after giving birth to me her first and only child, died a few months later, snatched away while she was still a young girl by the motherless maiden from so many misfortunes that were to come, I was handed over to him after my seventh year. From that time he won me over to these views of his, and led me to school by one straight path; and since neither he himself desired to know any other nor allowed me to travel by any other path, it is he who has caused me to be hated by all of you. However, if you agree, let us make a truce with him, you and I, and make an end of our quarrel. For he neither knew that I should visit you nor did he anticipate that, even supposing I was likely to come here, it would be as a ruler, and that too over so great an empire as the gods bestowed on me; though they did not do so, believe me, without using great compulsion both towards him who offered and him who accepted it. For neither of us had the air of being willing; since he who offered that honour or favour or whatever you may please to call it, was unwilling to bestow it, while he who received it was sincere in steadily refusing it. This matter, however, is and shall be as the gods will. But perhaps if my tutor had foreseen this he would have exercised much forethought to the end that I might, as far as possible, seem agreeable in your eyes. What then, you will ask, is it not possible even now for me to lay aside my character, and to repent of the boorish temper that was bred in me in earlier days? Habit, as the saying goes, is second nature. But to fight with nature is hard; and to shake off the training of thirty years is very difficult, especially when it was carried on with such painful effort, and I am already more than thirty years old. "Well and good," you answer, "but what is the matter with you that you try to hear and decide cases about contracts? For surely your tutor did not teach you this also, since he did not even know whether you would govern." Yes, it was that terrible old man who convinced me that I ought to do so; and you also do well to help me to abuse him, since he is of all men most responsible for my way of life; though he too, you must know, had in his turn been misled by others. Theirs are names that you have often met when they are ridiculed in Comedy -- I mean Plato and Socrates, Aristotle and Theophrastus. This old man in his folly was first convinced by them, and then he got hold of me, since I was young and loved literature, and convinced me that if I would emulate those famous men in all things I should become better, not perhaps than other men -- for it was not with them that I had to compete -- but certainly better than my former self. Accordingly, since I had no choice in the matter, I obeyed him, and now I am no longer able to change my character, though indeed I often wish I could, and I blame myself for not granting to all men impunity for all wrong-doing. But then the words of the Athenian stranger in Plato occur to my mind: "Though he who does no wrong himself is worthy of honor, he who does not allow the wicked to do wrong is worthy of more than twice as much honour. For whereas the former is responsible for one man only, the latter is responsible for many others besides himself, when he reports to the magistrates the wrong-doing of the rest. And he who as far as he can helps the magistrates to punish wrong-doers, himself being the great and powerful man in the city, let him I say be proclaimed as winner of the prize for virtue. And we ought to utter the same eulogy with regard to temperance also, and wisdom and all the other good qualities that such a man possesses, and which are such that he is able not only to have them himself but also to impart them to other men."
Event: Xerxes invades Greece