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temporaries. Themistocles, Cimon and Pericles, (says he) filled indeed their city with splendid edifices, with porticos, statues, rich ornaments, and other vain superfluities of that kind: but Aristides did all that lay in his power to enrich every part of it with virtue: now, to raise a city to true happiness, it must be made virtuous, not rich.
Plutarch takes notice of another circumstance in Aristides's life, which, though of the simplest kind, reflects the greatest honour on him, and may serve as an excellent lesson, It is in that beautiful a treatise, in which he inquires, whether it is proper for old men to concern themselves with affairs of government; and where he points out admirably well, the various services they may do the state, even in an advanced age. We are not to fancy says he, that all public services require great exertion, such as to harrangue the people, to preside in the government, or to head armies : an old man, whose mind is informed with wisdom, mày, without going from his house, exercise a kind of magistracy in it, which, though secret and obscure, is not therefore the less important: and that is, in training up youth by good counsel, teaching them the various springs of policy, and the path they ought to pursue in the management of public affairs. Aristides, adds Plutarch, was not always in office, but was always of service to his country. His house was a public school of virtue, wisdom, and politics. It was open to all young Athenians, who were lovers of virtue, and these used to consult him as an oracle. He gave them the kindest reception, heard them with patience, instructed them with familiarity; and endeavoured, above all things, to animate their
courage, and inspire them with confidence. It is observed particularly that Cimon, afterwards so famous, was obliged to him for this important service.
Plutarch 6 divided the life of statesmen into three ages. In the first, he would have them learn the principles of government; in the second, reduce them to practice; and in the third, instruct others.
History does not mention the exact time when, nor place where, Aristides died; but then it pays a glorious testimony to his memory, when it assures us, that this great man, who had possessed the highest employments in the republic, and had the absolute disposal of its treasures, died poor, and did not leave money enough to defray the expenses of his funeral; so that the government was obliged to bear the charge of it; and to maintain his family. His a Pag. 795 797 6 He applies on this occasion the custom vsed in Rome, where the Vestals spent the first ten years in learning their office, and this was a kind o noviciate; the next ten years they employed in the exercise of their functions, and the last ten in instrucring the young bovices in them. c Plut, in Arist, p. 334, 335,
daughters were married, and Lysimachus his son was subsistedat the expense of the Prytaneum ; which also gave the daughter of the latter, after his death, the pension with which those were honoured who had been victorious at the Olympic games. Plutarch relates on this occasion, the liberality of the Athenians in favour of the posterity of Aristogiton their deliverer, who had fallen to decay; and he adds, that even in his time, (almost 600 years after) the same goodness and liberality still subsisted : it was glorious for the city, to have preserved for so many centuries its generosity and gratitude; and a strong motive to animate individuals, who were assured that their children would enjoy the rewards which death might prevent themselves from receiving! It was delightful to see the remote posterity of the defenders and deliverers of the commonwealth, who had inherited nothing from their ancestors but the glory of their actions, maintained for so many ages at the expense of the public, in consideration of the services which their families had rendered the state. They lived in this manner with much more honour, and called up the remembrance of their ancestors with much greater splendour, than a multitude of citizens, whose fathers had been anxious only to leave them great estates, which generally do not long survive those who raised them, and often leave their posterity nothing but the odious remembrance of the injustice and oppression by which they were acquired.
The greatest honour which the ancients have done to Aristides, is the having bestowed on him the glorious title of “the Just.” He gained it, not by one particular occurrence of his life, but by the whole tenor of his conduct and actions. Plutarch makes a reflection on this occasion, which being very remarkable I think it incumbent on me not to omit.
a Among the several virtues of Aristides, says this judicious author, that for which he was most renowned, was his justice; because this virtue is of most general use; its benefits extend to a greater number of persons; and it is the foundation, and in a manner the soul of every public office and employment. Hence it was that Aristides, though in low circumstances, and of mean extraction, merited the title of Just; a title, says Plutarch, truly royal, or rather truly divine; but one of which princes are seldom ambitipus, because they are generally ignorant of its beauty and excellency. They choose rather to be called the conquerors of cities, and the thunder-bolts of war; and sometimes even eagles and lions; preferring the vain honour of pom
a Plut. in vit. Arist. p. 331, 323,
6 Peljorretes, Cerauni, Nietores,
pous titles, which convey no other idea than violence and slaughter, to the solid glory of those expressive of goodness and virtue. They do not know, continues Plutarch, that of the three chief attributes of the Deity, of whom kings boast themselves the image, I mean, immortality, power, and justice, that of these three attributes, the first of which excites our admiration and desire, the second fills us with dread and terror, and the third inspires us with love and respect; this last is the only one truly and personally communicated to man, and the only one that can conduct him to the other two; it being impossible for man to become truly immortal and powerful, but by being just.
a Before I resume the sequel of this history, it may not be improper to observe, that it was about this period that the fame of the Greeks, who were still more renowned for the wisdom of their polity than the glory of their victories, induced the Romans to have recourse to their lights and knowlerige. Rome formed under kings, was in want of such laws, as were necessary for the good government of a commonwealth.
For this purpose the Romans sent deputies to copy the laws of the cities of Greece, and particularly those of Athens, which were still better adapted to the popular government that had been established after the expulsion of the kings. On this model, the ten magistrates called Decemviri, who were invested with absolute authority, were created: these digested the laws of the 12 tables, which are the basis of the Roman law.
Sect. XVIII. Death of Xerxes, who is killed by Artabanus. His Charac
ter. • The ill success of Xerxes in his expedition against the Greeks, and which continued afterwards, at length discouraged him. Renouncing all thoughts of war and conquest, he abandoned himself entirely to luxury and ease, and was studious of nothing but his pleasures. Artabanus, a native of Hyrcania, captain of his guards, who had long been one of his chief favourites, found that this dissolute conduct had drawn upon him the contempt of his subjects. He therefore imagined that this would be a favourable opportunity to conspire
a A. M. 3532. A. Rom. 302.
Missi legati Athenas, jussique inclitas leges Solonis describere. & aliarum Græciæ civitatum instituta, gores, juraque noscere. Decen tabutarum leges perlat e sunt (quibus adjectæ postea dua) qui nunc quoque in hoc immesso aljarum super alias privatarum legum cuiuio. fons omnis publici privatique est juris. Liv. l. jii. n. 31 & 34. c A. M. 3531. ADL. J. C. 473. Ctes.c. ii. Diod. I. xi. R. 52. Jastin. I. iii. c. 1, d This was not Artabanus, the uncle of Xerxes, VOL. III.
| against his sovereign; and he carried his ambitious views so 'far as to flatter himself with the hopes of succeeding him in the thrones. It is very likely that he was excited to the commission of this crime, from another motive. Xerxes had commanded him to murder Darius, his eldest son, but for what cause history is silent. As this order had been given at a banquet, and when the company was heated with wine, he did not doubt but that Xerxes would forget it, and therefore was not in haste to obey it: however, he was mistaken, for the king complained of his disobedience, which made Artabanus dread his resentment, and therefore he resolved to prevent him. Accordingly he prevailed upon Mithridates, one of the eunuchs of the palace, and high-chamberlain, to engage in his conspiracy; and by his means entered the chamber where the king lay, and murdered him in his sleep. He then went immediately to Artaxerxes, the third son of Xerxes. He informed him of the murder, charging Darius his eldest brother with it; as if impatience to ascend the throne had prompted in to that execrable deed. He added, that to secure iho crown to himself, he was resolved to murder him also, for which reason it would be absolutely necessary for him to keep upon his guard. These words having made the impression on Artaxerxes, who was still a youth, which Artabanus desired, he went immediately into his brother's apartment, where, being assisted by Artabanus and his guards, he murdered him. Hystaspes, Xerxes's second son, was next heir to the crown after Darius; but as he was then in Bactriana, of which he was governor, Artabanus seated Artaxerxes on the throne, with the design of suffering him to enjoy it no longer than till he had formed a faction strong enough to drive him from it, and ascend it himself. His great authority had gained him a multitude of dependents ; besides this, he had seven sons, who were tall, handsome, strong, courageous, and raised to the highest employments in the empire. The aid he hoped to receive from them, was the chief motive of his raising his views so high. But, whilst he was attempting to complete his design, Artaxerxes being informed of this plot by Megabyzus, who had married one of his sisters, he endeavoured to anticipate him, and killed him before he had an opportunity of putting his treason in execution. His death established this prince in the possession of the kingdom.
Thus we have seen the end of Xerxes, who was one of the most powerful princes that ever lived. It would be needless for me to anticipate the reader, with respect to the judgment he ought to form of him. We see him surrounded
a Arist. Polit. l. v. c. 20. p. 404.
with whatever is greatest and most brilliant in the opinion of mankind: the most extensive empire at that time in the world; immense treasures, and an incredible number of land as well as sea-forces. But all these things are round him, not in him, and add no lustre to his natural qualities : for, by a blindness too common to princes and great men; born in the midst of all terrestrial blessings, heir to boundless power, and a lustre that had cost him nothing, he had accustomed himself to judge of his own talents and personal merit from the exterior of his exalted station and rank. He disregards the wise counsels of Artabanus his uncle, and of Demaratus, who alone had courage enough to speak truth to him; and he abandons himself to courtiers, the adorers of his fortune, whose whole study it was to soothe his passions. He proportions,
and pretends to regulate the success of his enterprises, by the extent of his power. The slavish submission of so many nations no longer soothes his ambition ; and disgusted with too easy an obedience, he takes pleasure. in exercising his power over the elements, in cutting his way through mountains, and making them navigable; in chastising the sea for having broken down his bridge, and in foolishly attempting to shackle the waves, by throwing fetters into them. Puffed up with a childish vanity and a ridiculous pride, he looks upon himself as the arbiter of nature: he imagines, that not a nation in the world will dare to wait his arrival; and fondly and presumptuously relies on the millions of men and ships which he drags after him. But when, after the battle of Salamis, he beholds the sad ruins, the shameful remains of his numberless troops scattered over all Greece«; he then is sensible of the wide difference between an army and a crowd of men. In a word, to form a right judgment of Xerxes, we need but contrast him with a plain citizen of Athens, a Miltiades, Themistocles, or Aristides. In the latter we find all the good sense, prudence, ability in war, valour, and greatness of soul; in the former we see nothing but vanity, pride, obstinacy; the meanest and most grovelling sentiments, and sometimes the most horrid barbarity.
& Stratusque per totam passim Graeciam Xerxes intellexit, quantum ab exercitu turba distaret. Senec. de Benef. l. vi. c. 33.