On Anger, Book III, XXII

These should be regarded as examples to be avoided, and what I am about to relate, on the contrary, to be followed, being examples of gentle and lenient conduct in men who both had reasons for anger and power to avenge themselves.

What could have been easier than for Antigonus to order those two common soldiers to be executed who leaned against their king’s tent while doing what all men especially love to do, and run the greatest danger by doing, I mean while they spoke evil of their king.

Antigonus heard all they said, as was likely, since there was only a piece of cloth between the speakers and the listener, who gently raised it, and said, “Go a little further off, for fear the king should hear you.”

He also on one night, hearing some of his soldiers invoking everything that was evil upon their king for having brought them along that road and into that impassable mud, went to those who were in the greatest difficulties, and having extricated them without their knowing who was their helper, said, “Now curse Antigonus, by whose fault you have fallen into this trouble, but bless the man who has brought you out of this slough.”

This same Antigonus bore the abuse of his enemies as good-naturedly as that of his countrymen; thus when he was besieging some Greeks in a little fort, and they, despising their enemy through their confidence in the strength of their position, cut many jokes upon the ugliness of Antigonus, at one time mocking him for his shortness of stature, at another for his broken nose, he answered, “I rejoice, and expect some good fortune because I have a Silenus in my camp.”

After he had conquered these witty folk by hunger, his treatment of them was to form regiments of those who were fit for service, and sell the rest by public auction; nor would he, said he, have done this had it not been better that men who had such evil tongues should be under the control of a master.