“Willingly now I die; and let no foe

Seize me with violent hands; for I myself

With cheerful courage will put forth my neck.

For God’s sake touch me not; but leave me free,

That having lived in freedom, I may die

Unviolated by a master’s Hand.”{15}{euripides, Hecuba, 548.}

XVIII. (117) Do we then imagine that there can be such a profound love of freedom firmly fixed in women and children, one of which classes is by nature light-minded, and the other is of an age which is easily perverted and liable to stumble, so that they, for the sake of not being deprived of it, cheerfully proceed from death to immortality, but that those men who have tasted of unalloyed wisdom are not at once thoroughly free, bearing about in themselves, as they do, a sort of perpetual fountain of happiness, namely virtue, which no designing or hostile power has ever been able to dissolve, since it has the everlasting inheritance of authority and sovereign power? (118) But in truth we hear of whole nations also, who, for the sake of freedom and of good faith towards their deceased benefactors, have voluntarily encountered utter destruction, as they say that the Xanthians did no long time ago; for when Brutus, one of those men who attacked Julius Caesar, invaded their territory and made war upon them, they, fearing not so much the destruction of their city as slavery at the mercy of a murderer who had killed his king and his benefactor (for Caesar was both to him), resisted at first with great vigour to the very utmost extent of their power, (119) and though they were being gradually destroyed, they still held out; and when at last they had exhausted all their strength, they all collected their wives, and parents, and children into their houses, and there slew them separately, and then collecting the slaughtered bodies in a heap, they set fire to them, and slew themselves on the top of all, and so with a noble and free spirit encountered the fated end of all men. (120) But these men, wishing to escape the pitiless inhumanity of tyrannical enemies, preferred death with glory to an inglorious life; but those to whom the chances of fortune gave a longer life, have endured their dangers and afflictions with fortitude, imitating the courage and endurance of Hercules, for he also showed himself superior to the commands of Eurystheus. (121) Accordingly the Cynic philosopher, Diogenes, exhibited such a loftiness and greatness of spirit, that when he was taken prisoner by some robbers, and when they fed him very sparingly, and scarcely gave him even necessary food, he was not weighed down by the circumstances which surrounded him, and did not fear the inhumanity of the masters into whose power he had fallen, but said “that it was a most absurd thing for pigs or sheep, when they were going to be sold, to be carefully provided with abundant food, so as to be rendered fat and fleshy; but for the most excellent of all animals, man, to be reduced to a skeleton by bad food and continual scarcity, and so to be rendered of less value than before.” (122) And then, when he had obtained sufficient food, and when he was about to be sold with the rest of the captives, he sat down first, and breakfasted with great cheerfulness and courage, giving some of his breakfast to his neighbours. And seeing one of them not merely sorrowful, but in a state of extreme despondency, he said, “Will you not give up being miserable? take what you can get.”