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praises it had won, standing straight before the image, besought the
goddess to bestow on Cleobis and Bito, the sons who had so mightily
honoured her, the highest blessing to which mortals can attain. Her
prayer ended, they offered sacrifice and partook of the holy
banquet, after which the two youths fell asleep in the temple. They
never woke more, but so passed from the earth. The Argives, looking on
them as among the best of men, caused statues of them to be made,
which they gave to the shrine at Delphi."
When Solon had thus assigned these youths the second place,
Croesus broke in angrily, "What, stranger of Athens, is my
happiness, then, so utterly set at nought by thee, that thou dost
not even put me on a level with private men?"
"Oh! Croesus," replied the other, "thou askedst a question
concerning the condition of man, of one who knows that the power above
us is full of jealousy, and fond of troubling our lot. A long life
gives one to witness much, and experience much oneself, that one would
not choose. Seventy years I regard as the limit of the life of man. In
these seventy years are contained, without reckoning intercalary
months, twenty-five thousand and two hundred days. Add an
intercalary month to every other year, that the seasons may come round
at the right time, and there will be, besides the seventy years,
thirty-five such months, making an addition of one thousand and
fifty days. The whole number of the days contained in the seventy
years will thus be twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty,
whereof not one but will produce events unlike the rest. Hence man
is wholly accident. For thyself, oh! Croesus, I see that thou art
wonderfully rich, and art the lord of many nations; but with respect
to that whereon thou questionest me, I have no answer to give, until I
hear that thou hast closed thy life happily. For assuredly he who
possesses great store of riches is no nearer happiness than he who has
what suffices for his daily needs, unless it so hap that luck attend
upon him, and so he continue in the enjoyment of all his good things
to the end of life. For many of the wealthiest men have been
unfavoured of fortune, and many whose means were moderate have had
excellent luck. Men of the former class excel those of the latter
but in two respects; these last excel the former in many. The
wealthy man is better able to content his desires, and to bear up
against a sudden buffet of calamity. The other has less ability to
withstand these evils (from which, however, his good luck keeps him
clear), but he enjoys all these following blessings: he is whole of
limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, happy in his
children, and comely to look upon. If, in addition to all this, he end
his life well, he is of a truth the man of whom thou art in search,
the man who may rightly be termed happy. Call him, however, until he
die, not happy but fortunate. Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite
all these advantages: as there is no country which contains within
it all that it needs, but each, while it possesses some things,
lacks others, and the best country is that which contains the most; so
no single human being is complete in every respect- something is
always lacking. He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and
retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that
man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of
'happy.' But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for
oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them
into ruin."
Such was the speech which Solon addressed to Croesus, a speech
which brought him neither largess nor honour. The king saw him
depart with much indifference, since he thought that a man must be
an arrant fool who made no account of present good, but bade men
always wait and mark the end.
After Solon had gone away a dreadful vengeance, sent of God,
came upon Croesus, to punish him, it is likely, for deeming himself
the happiest of men. First he had a dream in the night, which
foreshowed him truly the evils that were about to befall him in the

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