Here was a statesman whose stature measures to that of Solon, Themistocles, Lycurgus among others who was sentenced to death by his countrymen because he was too good for them! Plutarch writes

Phocion and he may be well compared together, not for any mere general resemblances, as though we should say both were good men and great statesmen. For, assuredly, there is difference enough among virtues of the same denomination, as between the bravery of Alcibiades and that of Epaminondas, the prudence of Themistocles and that of Aristides, the justice of Numa and that of Agesilaus. But these men’s virtue, even looking to the most minute points of difference, bear the same colour, stamp, and character impressed upon them, so as not to be distinguishable. The mixture is still made in the same exact proportions whether we look at the combination to be found in them, both of lenity on the one hand, with austerity on the other; their boldness upon some occasions, and caution on others; their extreme solicitude for the public, and perfect neglect of themselves; their fixed and immovable bent to all virtuous and honest actions, accompanied with an extreme tenderness and scrupulosity as to doing anything which might appear mean or unworthy; so that we should need a very nice and subtle logic of discrimination to detect and establish the distinctions between them.

A man moderate in his temperament, cool-headed and just. And a good teacher of discipline. Plutarch tells many examples of his justice and temper such as once when he had to take the Greeks to war and one young soldier feeling so brave left his rank and shortly after seeing the enemy developed cold feet, he reproached him thus

Young man, are you not ashamed twice in one day to desert your station; first than on which I placed you and second the one that on which you placed yourself.

On another occasion, one of his friends warns him that by running counter to the people they would kill him, he says

that will be unjust of them if I give them honest advice, if not, it will be just of them.

His wife says in response to a court jester

for my part, all my ornament is my husband Phocion, now for the twentieth year in office as general at Athens.

There are several more examples of instances of his justice, vision, temper and good sense in Plutarch’s lives. The world would be a better place if were ruled by such statesmen.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

20 thoughts on “Phocion

  1. john zande says:


    And on the other side of the spectrum, we have this nonsense. I just posted this on Arks spot, but can you taste the religious war this nut is offering?


  2. aguywithoutboxers says:

    Excellent example, my Nairobi brother! This is the reason that Plutarch and his wisdom will live in both history and legend long after the current horde of tyrants, despots and thieves have long faded from memory! 🙂


    • makagutu says:

      Plutarch’s parallel lives is a great history book to read.
      If we had just a few Phocions, Solons, Themistocles and Lycurgus then just maybe, just maybe, we would begin to talk of good governance


  3. Mordanicus says:

    A very inspiring example to follow.


  4. Sonel says:

    We can only hope Mak. Great post my friend.
    Have a wonderful day! ♥ Hugs ♥


  5. themodernidiot says:

    Thanks for the post my friend. I like learning new “people” in history 🙂


    • makagutu says:

      Welcome my friend. Learning about some of them shows how low we have gone and about some like Caesar who bribed the populace show how much things have remained the same 2K years later


      • themodernidiot says:

        True. Reading Roman history is a lot like reading the daily newspaper.

        Btw, the quotes in my comment were supposed to enclose the word new, not people lol.


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