CALANUS TO ALEXANDER, GREETING

“Your friends are endeavouring to persuade you to apply force and compulsion to the philosophers of the Indians, though not even in their sleep have they beheld our actions; for you will be able indeed to transport our bodies from place to place, but you will not be able to compel our souls to do what they do not like, any more than you would be able to make bricks or timber utter words; we can cause the greatest troubles and the greatest destruction to living bodies; now we are superior to this power; we are burnt even while living, there is no king nor ruler who will ever succeed in compelling us to do what we do not choose to do; and we are in no respect like unto the philosophers of the Greeks, who study speeches to deliver to a public assembly; but our actions do always correspond to our words, and our speeches which are short have a power different from that of our actions, and secure for us freedom and happiness.” (97) At such positive refusals then, and at such brave sentiments, is it not natural for any one to quote that saying of Zeno that, “It would be easier to sink a bladder which was full of wind, than to compel any virtuous man whatever, against his will, to commit any action which he had never intended.” For the soul of such a man will never submit, and can never be defeated, since it has been fortified by right reason with solid doctrines.

XV. (98) Moreover, both poets and historians are witnesses to the real freedom of virtuous men, in whose doctrines both Greeks and barbarians are equally bred up almost from their very cradles, and by which they are improved in their dispositions, changing everything in their souls which is adulterated by a blameable way of bringing up and of living, into good coinage; (99) accordingly just see what Hercules says in Euripides.{12}{see 100:4.}

“Yes, burn and scorch my flesh, and glut your hate,

Drinking my life-warm blood; for heaven’s stars

Shall quit their place, and darken ‘neath the earth,

And earth rise up and take the place of heaven,

Before you wring from me a word of flattery.”

For in real truth flattery, and adulation, and hypocrisy, in which what is uttered is at variance with the sentiments which are really felt, are the most slavish of things. But without any disguise, and in a genuine honest spirit of truth to speak with freedom what is dictated by a clear conscience, is a line of conduct suited to those who are nobly born. (100) Again, do not you see this same virtuous man himself, that even when he is sold he does not appear to be a servant, but he strikes all who behold him with awe, as not being merely free, but as even being about to prove the master of him who has purchased him? (101) At all events, Mercury replies to a man who inquires whether he is worthless–