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The Comparison of Timoleon with Aemilius Paulus
By Plutarch

Translated by John Dryden

Such being the story of these two great men's lives, without doubt
in the comparison very little difference will be found between them.
They made war with two powerful enemies: the one against the Macedonians,
and the other with the Carthaginians; and the success was in both
cases glorious. One conquered Macedon from the seventh succeeding
heir of Antigonus; the other freed Sicily from usurping tyrants, and
restored the island to its former liberty. Unless, indeed, it be made
a point of Aemilius's side, that he engaged with Perseus when his
forces were entire, and composed of men that had often successfully
fought with the Romans; whereas Timoleon found Dionysius in a despairing
condition, his affairs being reduced to the last extremity; or, on
the contrary, it be urged in favour of Timoleon, that he vanquished
several tyrants, and a powerful Carthaginian army, with which an inconsiderable
number of men gathered together from all parts, not with such an army
as Aemilius had, of well-disciplined soldiers, experienced in war,
and accustomed to obey; but with such as through the hopes of gain
restored to them, unskilled in fighting and ungovernable. And when
actions are equally glorious, and the means to compass them unequal,
the greatest esteem is certainly due to that general who conquers
with the small power. 

Both have the reputation of having behaved themselves with an uncorrupted
integrity in all the affairs they managed; but Aemilius had the advantage
of being, from his infancy, by the laws and customs of his country
brought up to the proper management of public affairs, which Timoleon
brought himself to by his own efforts. And this is plain; for at that
time all the Romans were uniformly orderly and obedient, respectful
to the laws and to their fellow-citizens: whereas it is remarkable
that not one of the Greek generals commanding in Sicily could keep
himself uncorrupted, except Dion, and of him many entertained a jealousy
that he would establish a monarchy there, after the Lacedaemonian
manner. Timaeus writes, that the Syracusans sent even Gylippus home
dishonourably, and with a reputation lost by the unsatiable covetousness
he displayed when he commanded the army. And numerous historians tell
us of the wicked and perfidious acts committed by Pharax the Spartan
and Callippus the Athenian, with the view of making themselves kings
of Sicily. Yet what were these men, and what strength had they, to
entertain such a thought? The first of them was a follower of Dionysius,
when he was expelled from Syracuse, and the other a hired captain
of foot under Dion, and came into Sicily with him. But Timoleon, at
the request and prayers of the Syracusans, was sent to be their general,
and had no need to seek for power, but had a perfect title, founded
on their own offers, to hold it; and yet no sooner had he freed Sicily
from her oppressors, but he willingly surrendered it. 

It is truly worthy our admiration in Aemilius, that though he conquered
so great and so rich a realm as that of Macedon, yet he would not
touch, nor see any of the money, nor did he advantage himself one
farthing by it, though he was very generous of his own to others.
I would not intend any reflection on Timoleon for accepting of a house
and handsome estate in the country, which the Syracusans presented
him with; there is no dishonour in accepting; but yet there is greater
glory in a refusal, and the supremest virtue is shown in not wanting
what it might fairly take. And as that body is, without doubt, the
most strong and healthful which can the easiest support extreme cold
and excessive heat in the change of seasons, and that the most firm
and collected mind which is not puffed up with prosperity nor dejected
with adversity; so the virtue of Aemilius was eminently seen in his
countenance and behaviour, continuing as noble and lofty upon the
loss of two dear sons, as when he achieved his greatest victories
and triumphs. But Timoleon, after he had justly punished his brother,
a truly heroic action, let his reason yield to a causeless sorrow,
and humiliated with grief and remorse, forbore for twenty years to
appear in any public place, or meddle with any affairs of the commonwealth.
It is truly very commendable to abhor and shun the doing any base
action; but to stand in fear of every kind of censure or disrepute
may argue a gentle and open-hearted, but not an heroic temper.



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