Valerius Maximus, Memorable Doings and Sayings

LCL 492: 520-521

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Valerius Maximus

similiterque audierant mille pondo auri, quod Gallis pro obsidione Capitolii omissa debebatur,78 earum cultu expletum. itaque et proprio ingenio et exemplo vetustatis admoniti nulla sibi in re cessandum existimaverunt.

ext. 1Sunt et externa eiusdem propositi exempla. rex Atheniensium Codrus, cum ingenti hostium exercitu Attica regio debellata79 ferro igni vastaretur, diffidentia humani auxilii ad Apollinis Delphici oraculum confugit, perque legatos sciscitatus est quonam modo tam grave illud bellum discuti posset. respondit deus ita finem ei fore si ipse hostili manu occidisset. quod quidem non solum totis Athenis sed80 in castris etiam contrariis percrebruit, eoque factum est ut ediceretur ne quis Codri corpus vulneraret. id postquam cognovit, depositis insignibus imperii famularem cultum induit ac pabulantium hostium globo se obiecit, unumque ex his falce percussum in caedem suam compulit. cuius interitu ne Athenae occiderent effectum est.

ext. 2Ab eodem fonte pietatis Thrasybuli quoque animus manavit. is cum Atheniensium urbem triginta tyrannorum taeterrima dominatione liberare cuperet, parvaque manu maximae rei molem adgrederetur, et quidam e consciis dixisset ‘quantas tandem tibi Athenae per te libertatem consecutae gratias debebunt?’, respondit ‘di faciant ut quantas ipse illis debeo videar rettulisse.’ quo adfectu


Book V

they had heard that the thousand pounds of gold due to the Gauls for raising their siege of the Capitol had been made up out of the matrons’ jewellry. So, admonished by both their own disposition and the example of antiquity, they considered that they should leave no effort untried.10


There are also external examples of the same theme. When the Attic territory was being devastated by fire and sword, beaten down by a vast army of enemies, Codrus, king of the Athenians, in despair of human aid fled for refuge to the oracle of Delphic Apollo and enquired through envoys how that grievous war could be dispelled. The god replied that it would end if Codrus himself fell by an enemy hand. That became common knowledge not only all over Athens but in the opposing camp too, and for that reason an order was issued forbidding any man to wound Codrus’ body. Learning this, the king put off the emblems of command and donning a servant’s dress put himself in the way of an enemy foraging party. He struck one of them with a sickle and drove the man to kill him. By his death Athens was saved from extinction.11

The soul of Thrasybulus derived from the same fount of piety. Desiring to free the city of the Athenians from the evil domination of the Thirty Tyrants, he attempted a large and weighty enterprise with a small band of confederates. One of them asked him: “When Athens has gained freedom through your agency, what thanks will she owe you?” Thrasybulus replied: “May the gods grant that I be thought to have repaid what I owe her.”12 By this attitude he enhanced

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.valerius_maximus-memorable_doings_sayings.2000