aleator classicus

Reading at Random in Classical Literature

Plutarch, Sayings of Kings and Commanders 172b

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It’s the thought that counts.

Ἀρταξέρξης ὁ Περσῶν βασιλεύς, ὦ μέγιστε αὐτοκράτορ Καῖσαρ Τραϊανέ, οὐχ ἧττον οἰόμενος βασιλικὸν καὶ φιλάνθρωπον εἶναι τοῦ μεγάλα διδόναι τὸ μικρὰ λαμβάνειν εὐμενῶς καὶ προθύμως, ἐπεί, παρελαύνοντος αὐτοῦ καθ’ ὁδόν, αὐτουργὸς ἄνθρωπος καὶ ἰδιώτης οὐδὲν ἔχων ἕτερον ἐκ τοῦ ποταμοῦ ταῖς χερσὶν ἀμφοτέραις ὕδωρ ὑπολαβὼν προσήνεγκεν, ἡδέως ἐδέξατο καὶ ἐμειδίασε, τῇ προθυμίᾳ τοῦ διδόντος οὐ τῇ χρείᾳ τοῦ διδομένου τὴν χάριν μετρήσας.

Artaxerxes, the king of the Persians, o most high emperor Caesar Trajan, thought that receiving small gifts gladly and eagerly was no less regal and kindly to one’s fellow-men than giving large gifts. When Artaxerxes was riding past on the road, a man who was a farmer, and just a member of the general public, took up water from the river (because he had nothing else) in his two hands and offered it to him; the king accepted it pleasantly and with a smile, measuring the favour by the giver’s willingness rather than by the gift’s usefulness.

Written by aleatorclassicus

June 11, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Posted in Plutarch

One Response

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  1. Charming excerpt. I always enjoy anecdotes involving the emperor meeting his subjects. Like the passage where Hadrian was stopped by a woman who wanted him to intervene on some small matter, he replied he was “too busy” and she retorted, “well then, don’t be emperor!”.

    Roma Invicta

    June 11, 2013 at 1:43 PM

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