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ISADAS, THE SPARTAN.
The city of Sparta being unexpectedly attacked by a powerful army of Thebans , was in very great danger of falling into the hands of their enemies. The citizens suddenly gathering themselves into a body, fought with a resolution equal to the necessity of their affairs; yet no
one so remarkably distinguished himself on this occasion, to the amazement of both armies, as Isadas the son of Phoebidas, who was at that time in the bloom of his youth, and very remarkable for the comeliness of his person: He was coming out of the bath when the alarm was given , so that he had not time to put on his cloaths, much less his armour; however , transported with a desire to serve his country in so great an exigency, snatching up a spear in one hand, and a sword in the other , he flung himself into the thickest ranks of his enemies. Nothing could withstand his fury : in what part soever he fought he put the enemies to flight without receiving a single wound. Whether, says Plu
tarch, he was the particular care of some god, who rewarded his valour that day with an extraordinary protection, or that his enemies, struck with the unusualness of his dress, and beauty of his shape, supposed him something more than man,
I shall not determine
The gallantry of this action was judged so great by the Spartans , that the Ephori , or chief magistrates, decreed he should be
presented with a garland; but as soon as they had done they fined him in a thousand drachmas for going out to the battle unarmed.
Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, shewed how far he was from being happy, even whilst he abounded in riches, and all the pleasures which riches can procure. Damocles, one of his flatterers was complimenting him upon his
his treasures and the magnificence of his royal state, and affirming, that no monarch ever was greater
or happier than he. « Have you a mind, » Damocles, says the king, to taste this » happiness, and know, by experience, » what my enjoyments are, of which you » have so high an idea ? » Damocles gladly accepted the offer. Upon which the king ordered, that a royal banquet should be prepared, and a gilded couch placed for him , covered with rich embroidery, and sideboards loaded with gold and siver plate of immense value. Pages of extraordinary beauty were ordered to wait on him at table and to obey his commands with the greatest readiness, and the most profound submission. Neither ointments, chaplets of flowers, nor rich perfumes were wanting. The table was loaded with the most exquisite delicacies of every kind. Dainocles fancied himself amongst the Gods. In the midst of all his happiness, he sees let down from the roof exactly over his neck as he lay indulging himself in state, a glittering sword hung by a single hair. The sight of destruction thus threatening him, from on high, soon put a stop to his joy and revelling. The pomp of his attendance and the glitter of the carved plate, gave him no longer any pleasure. He dreads to
stretch forth his hand to the table. He throws off the chaplet of roses. He hastens to remove from his dangerous situation , and at last begs the king to restore him to his former humble condition, having no desire to enjoy any longer such a dreadful kind of happiness.
Cic. Tusc. QUEST.
DAMON AND PYTHIAS.
When Damon was sentenced by Dionysius the tyrant of Syracuse , to die on a certain day, he prayed permission to retire , in the mean time, to his own country, to set the affairs of his disconsolate family in order. This the tyrant intended most peremptorily to refuse, by granting it, as he conceived, on the impossible condition of his procuring soine one to remain as hostage for his return , under equal forfeiture of life. Pythias heard the condition, and did not wait for an application on the part of Damon, He instantly offered himself to confinement in place of his friend, and Damon was accordingly set at liberty,
The king, and all his courtiers, were astonished at this action, as they could not account for it on any allowed principles.Self-interest, in their judgment, was the sole mover of human affairs : and they looked on virtue, friendship benevolence love of country, and the like, as terms invented by the wise , to impose upon the weak. They, therefore, imputed this act of Pythias to the extravagance of his folly ; to a defect of understanding merely, and, no way, to any virtue, or good quality, of heart.
: When the day of the destined execution drew near, the tyrant had the curiosity to visit Pythias in his dungeon. - Having reproached him for the extravagance of his conduct, and rallied him some time on his madness, in presuming that Damon, by his return ,
prove as romantic as himself. - «My lord, said Pythias, with a » firm voice, and noble aspect, I would it » were possible, that I might suffer a thou>> sand deaths , rather than my friend should » fail in any article of his honour. He can» not fail therein , my lord. I am as confi» dent of his virtue, as I am of my own » existence. But I
I beseech the gods,