Tuesday 25 August 2015

Marius' attitude to Greek

Plutarch, Marius 2.1-3:
(1) As for the personal appearance of Marius, we have seen a marble statue of him at Ravenna in Gaul, and it very well portrays the harshness and bitterness of character which were ascribed to him. For since he was naturally virile and fond of war, and since he received a training in military rather than in civil life, his temper was fierce when he came to exercise authority.
(2) Moreover, we are told that he never studied Greek literature, and never used the Greek language for any matter of real importance, thinking it ridiculous to study a literature the teachers of which were the subject of another people; and when, after his second triumph and at the consecration of some temple, he furnished the public with Greek spectacles, though he came into the theatre, he merely sat down, and at once went away.
(3) Accordingly, just as Plato was wont to say often to Xenocrates the philosopher, who had the reputation of being rather morose in his disposition, "My good Xenocrates, sacrifice to the Graces," so if Marius could have been persuaded to sacrifice to the Greek Muses and Graces, he would not have put the ugliest possible crown upon a most illustrious career in field and forum, nor have been driven by the blasts of passion, ill-timed ambition, and insatiable greed upon the shore of a most cruel and savage old age. However, his actual career shall at once bring this into clear view.


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