“…he possessed himself of the most kingly and divine appellation of Just…” Plutarch, speaking of Aristides
Some might see reading about great men, especially of the ancient world, as simply a pleasant diversion, or even a kind of escape. Why, one might wonder, should I bother to remember?
Aristides (530-468 BC) certainly gets mentioned in ancient history class. He was one of the greatest of all Athenian statesmen. As a military leader he served with exceptional distinction at Marathon, Salamis, and Plataea. Yet he is far from being a household name, though Western civilization might not be what it is today without him.
What he was most known for was his justice. His incorruptibility while in positions of power was notorious, and this was borne witness by the fact that he lived in near poverty for his whole adult life. His interest was neither power nor wealth; so he wielded the former and avoided the later, for the sake of virtue, and of his people.
Plutarch relates of Aristides:
Of all his virtues, the common people were most affected with his justice, because of its continual and common use; and thus, although of mean fortune and ordinary birth, he possessed himself of the most kingly and divine appellation of ‘Just.’
So the people called him Aristides the Just. His influence then was not restricted to the immediate practical consequences of his leadership. He was a pattern—even while not a perfect one—of what it means to be human.
And he can do for us what he did for his people, when we remember him.
Memory is never simply about the past. To remember who Aristides was, is to begin to imagine who I should be today.
Plutarch (46-120 A.D.), a Boeotian Greek who became a Roman citizen, was especially known as a biographer of famous Greek and Roman men.
Introducing Aristides Mini-Series
Note: For the next few Wednesdays I will present brief sketches of the life and character of Aristides.
III. One Good Politician
Image: This is actually a bust of Themistocles, Aristides’ Athenian contemporary and rival. But it looks much like the bust of Aristides, and I was able to get a better image of this one…
Join the Community.
Become a LifeCraft Member and gain access to our online courses and exclusive content. It's FREE of charge. Period.
If you join as a contributing member, you will help make this content available to an increasing audience and enable me to spend more time in this work. I thank you in advance.
Join the LifeCraft community today and get access to:
- Man of the Household (Course)
- Woman of the Household (Course)
- Concepts Made Clear (Mini-course)
- Dinner at Home (Mini-course)
Discouragement, or at least its temptation, regularly accompanies intentional living. Even if we do not formulate it explicitly we find ourselves feeling “why do the good things I want have to be so difficult?” It is a consolation to know this is not unique to our...
There are important analogies between a father in a family and a ruler in a nation. This is perhaps especially clear in the consequences of their failure. Aquinas writes that “royal dignity is rendered hateful to many people on account of the wickedness of tyrants.”...
“He had no ‘time of his own’ (except in his bed-cell), and yet he was becoming master of his time; he began to know just what he could do with it.” J.R.R. Tolkien, Leaf by Niggle Many of the greatest traps of our day appear in the guise of simple math. One of them...
Husband, father, and professor of Philosophy. LifeCraft springs from one conviction: there is an ancient wisdom about how to live the good life in our homes, with our families; and it is worth our time to hearken to it. Let’s rediscover it together. Learn more.