Plato warned him to fear and be on his guard against “pleasing only himself, for so he would lose all his friends.” (PLUTARCH)

Plato warned him to fear and be on his guard against “pleasing only himself, for so he would lose all his friends.” (PLUTARCH)

In what cases then ought a friend to be vehement, and when ought he to use emphatic freedom of language?

When circumstances call upon him to check some headlong pleasure or rage or insolence, or to curtail avarice, or to correct some foolish negligence.

Thus Solon spoke out to Crœsus, who was corrupted and enervated by insecure good fortune, bidding him look to the end.

Thus Socrates restrained Alcibiades, and wrung from him genuine tears by his reproof, and changed his heart.

Such also was the plain dealing of Cyrus with Cyaxares, and of Plato with Dion, for when Dion was most famous and attracted to himself the notice of all men, by the splendour and greatness of his exploits, Plato warned him to fear and be on his guard against “pleasing only himself, for so he would lose all his friends.”

Speusippus also wrote to him not to plume himself on being a great person only with lads and women, but to see to it that by adorning Sicily with piety and justice and good laws he might make the Academy glorious.

On the other hand Euctus and Eulæus, companions of Perseus, in the days of his prosperity ingratiated themselves with him, and assented to him in all things, and danced attendance upon him, like all the other courtiers, but when he fled after his defeat by the Romans at Pydna, they attacked him and censured him bitterly, reminding him and upbraiding him in regard to everything he had done amiss or neglected to do, till he was so greatly exasperated both from grief and rage that he whipped out his sword and killed both of them.

Let so much suffice for general occasions of freedom of speech. There are also particular occasions, which our friends themselves furnish, that one who really cares for his friends will not neglect, but make use of. In some cases a question, or narrative, or the censure or praise of similar things in other people, gives as it were the cue for freedom of speech.

Thus it is related that Demaratus came to Macedonia from Corinth at the time when Philip was at variance with his wife and son, and when the king asked if the Greeks were at harmony with one another, Demaratus, being his well-wisher and friend, answered, “It is certainly very rich of you, Philip, inquiring as to concord between the Athenians and Peloponnesians, when you don’t observe that your own house is full of strife and variance.”

Good also was the answer of Diogenes, who, when Philip was marching to fight against the Greeks, stole into his camp, and was arrested and brought before him, and the king not recognizing him asked if he was a spy, “Certainly,” replied he, “Philip, I have come to spy out your inconsiderate folly, which makes you, under no compulsion, come here and hazard your kingdom and life on a moment’s cast of the die.” This was perhaps rather too strong a remark.

 

 

 

Plutarch’s Morals
Plutarch



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