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Anabasis

Page: 103

"I can imagine a third case, that of some straggler stopping behind, merely to rest for rest's sake, and hindering you in front and us behind alike from pressing on the march. If he got a blow with the fist from me it saved him a thrust with the lance from the enemy. In fact, the opportunity they enjoy to-day of taking vengeance on me for any treatment which I put upon them wrongfully, is derived from their salvation then; whereas, if they had fallen into the enemy's hands, let them ask themselves for what outrage, however great, they could expect to get satisfaction now. My defence," he continued, "is simple: if I chastised any one for his own good, I claim to suffer the same penalties as parents pay their children or masters their boys. Does not the surgeon also cauterise and cut us for our good? But if you really believe that these acts are the outcome of wanton insolence, I beg you to observe that although to-day, thank God! I am heartier than formerly, I wear a bolder front now than then, and I drink more wine, yet I never strike a soul; no, for I see that you have reached smooth water. When storm arises, and a great sea strikes the vessel amidships, a mere shake of the head will make the look-out man furious with the crew in the forecastle, or the helmsman with the men in the stern sheets, for at such a crisis even a slight slip may ruin everything. But I appeal to your own verdict, already recorded, in proof that I was justified in striking these men. You stood by, sirs, with swords, not voting tablets, in your hands, and it was in your power to aid the fellows if you liked; but, to speak the honest truth, you neither aided them nor did you join me in striking the disorderly. In other words, you enabled any evilly-disposed person among them to give rein to his wantonness by your passivity. For if you will be at pains to investigate, you will find that those who were then most cowardly are the ringleaders to-day in brutality and outrage.

"There is Boiscus the boxer, a Thessalian, what a battle he fought then to escape carrying his shield! so tired was he, and to-day I am told he has stripped several citizens of Cotyora of the clothes on their backs. If then you are wise, you will treat this personage in a way the contrary to that in which men treat dogs. A savage dog is tied up on the day and loosed at night, but if you are wise you will tie this fellow up at night and only let him loose in the day.

"But really," he added, "it does surprise me with what keenness you remember and recount the times when I incurred the hatred of some one; but some other occasions when I eased the burden of winter and storm for any of you, or beat off an enemy, or helped to minister to you in sickness and want, not a soul of you remembers these. Or when for any noble deed done by any of you I praised the doer, and according to my ability did honour to this brave man or that; these things have slipped from your memories, and are clean forgotten. Yet it were surely more noble, just, and holy, sweeter and kindlier to treasure the memory of good rather than of evil."


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