Agesilaus by Xenophon
To turn to another side, that grace of manner which was his, claims more than passing recognition. Here was a man to whom honour was vouchsafed and power present, and who, to crown all else, held in his hands the sceptre of sovereignty--a kingship not plotted against, but respected and beloved. Yet there was no trace of arrogance to be seen in him, but of tender affection and courteous service to his friends proof in abundance without seeking. Witness the zest with which he shared in the round of lovers' talk; the zeal with which he threw himself into the serious concerns of friends. By dint of a hopeful and cheery disposition and unflagging gaiety of heart he attracted to his side a throng of visitors, who came, not simply for the transaction of some private interest, but rather to pass away the day in pleasant sort. Though little apt himself to use high-swelling words, it did not annoy him to hear others sounding their own praises, which he regarded as a harmless weakness, the pledge at least of high endeavour in the future.
But that he was capable of lofty sentiment and at the right season must not be overlooked. Thus when a letter reached him from the king (I speak of that which was brought by the Persian agent in company with Calleas of Lacedaemon, proposing terms of hospitality and friendship with the Persian monarch), he disdained to accept it, telling the bearer to take back to the king this answer: "He need not be at pains to send him letters in private, but if he could prove himself a friend to Lacedaemon and the well-wisher of Hellas he should have no cause to blame the ardour of his friendship," but added, "if your king be detected plotting, let him not think to find a friend in me. No, not if he sends me a thousand letters." For my part, then, I hold it praiseworthy that, by comparison with pleasing his fellow- Hellenes, Agesilaus scorned such friendship. And this, too, among his tenets I find admirable: the truer title to self-congratulation belonged not to the millionaire, the master of many legions, but to him rather, who, being himself a better man, commanded the allegience of better followers.
And this, in proof of mental forecast, I must needs praise in him. Holding to the belief that the more satraps there were who revolted from the king the surer the gain to Hellas, he did not suffer himself to be seduced, either by gifts or by the mightiness in his power, to be drawn into bonds of friendship with the king, but took precaution rather not to abuse their confidence who were willing to revolt.
And lastly, as beyond all controversy admirable, note this contrast: First, the Persian, who, believing that in the multitude of his riches he had power to lay all things under his feet, would fain have swept into his coffers all the gold and all the silver of mankind: for him, and him alone, the costliest and most precious things of earth. And then this other, who contrariwise so furnished his establishment as to be totally independent of every adventitious aid. And if any one doubts the statement, let him look and see with what manner of dwelling-place he was contented; let him view the palace doors: these are the selfsame doors, he might well imagine, which Aristodemus, the great-great-grandson of Heracles, took and set up in the days of the return. Let him endeavour to view the furniture inside; there he will perceive how the king feasted on high holy days; and he will hear how the king's own daughter was wont to drive to Amyclae in a public basket-carriage. Thus it was that by the adjustment of expenditure to income he was never driven to the commission of any unjust deed for money's sake. And yet if it be a fine thing to hold a fortress impregnable to attck, I count it a greater glory that a man should hold the fortress of his soul inviolable against the assaults of riches, pleasures, fears.