“Where slaughters dire and famines might prevail,
And all the ills which thus mankind assail,”
must inevitably pay the penalty which such evils inflict upon him.
(24) Since in the case of Polycrates at least, in retaliation for the terrible acts of injustice and impiety which he committed, there fell upon him great misery in his subsequent life as a terrible requital for his previous good fortune. Add to this that he was chastised by a mighty sovereign, and was crucified by him, fulfilling the prediction of the oracle: “I knew,” said he, “long before I took it into my head to go to consult the oracle, that I was anointed by the sun and washed by Jupiter,” for these enigmatical assertions, expressed in symbolical language having been originally couched in unintelligible language, afterwards receive a most manifest confirmation by the events which followed them. (25) But it was not only at the end of his existence, but indeed during the whole period of his life from its earliest commencement that he was, though without being aware of it, making his soul to depend wholly on his body; for as he was always in a state of alarm and trepidation, he feared the multitude of enemies who might possibly attack him, being well assured that no one in the world was really well affected towards him, but that every one was hostile to him, and would turn out implacable enemies if he should be unfortunate.
(26) Again, if unsuccessful and yet of neverending precautions those writers who have written the history of Sicily are witnesses, for they say that the tyrant of Sicily suspected even his most affectionately loved wife; and a proof of this is that he ordered the entrance of his chamber by which she was about to have access to him to be strewed with planks, in order that she might never come upon him without being observed, but that the noise and tumult made by her stepping on these boards might indicate her approach beforehand; and besides this he compelled her to come not only without her robe, but even naked in every part, and even in those which ought not to be seen by men. And in addition to this he ordered the whole of the flooring along the road to be cut in width and depth like a trench made by farmers, out of fear lest anything should be secretly concealed so as to plot against him, which would inevitably be detected by the leaps and long steps which a person coming along this path would be compelled to take.
(27) Of how many miseries, then, was that man full who took all these precautions and practised all these contrivances against his own wife, whom he ought to have trusted above all other human beings? But he was like those men who scale precipices and climb over abrupt and steep mountains for the purpose of attaining to a more accurate comprehension of the natures of things in heaven, who at last after they have with great difficulty ascended to some overhanging ridge, find themselves unable to advance any further as they are too much exhausted to think of attempting the remaining portion of the mountain, and also want courage to descend, being giddy at the sight of the chasms and ravines below them; (28) for he, being in love with sovereign power as a godlike thing to be desired above all other objects, looked upon it as unsafe either to remain where he was or to retreat, for he considered that if he remained where he was innumerable other evils would come upon him in rapid and uninterrupted succession, while if he decided on retracing his steps his very life would be in danger, as there were enemies around, if not as to their bodies at all events in their minds, against him.