Dio Chrysostom, Discourses

Dio Chrysostom (c.40 CE – c.120 CE) was a Greek orator and scholar of the Roman Empire, born in northwest Turkey.

The following is an adaptation of Discourses by Dio Chrysostom, trans. H. Lamar Crosby. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1946.

§ 48. (“A Refusal of the Office of Archon”) Furthermore, since they cannot always be ruled by kings who are philosophers, the most powerful nations have publicly appointed philosophers as superintendents and officers for their kings. Thus the Persians, I believe, appointed those whom they call Magi, because they were acquainted with Nature and understood how the gods should be worshipped; the Egyptians appointed the priests who had the same knowledge as the Magi, devoting themselves to the service of the gods and knowing the how and the wherefore of everything; the Indians appointed Brahmans, because they excel in self-control and righteousness and in their devotion to the divine, as a result of which they know the future better than all other men know their immediate present; the Celts appointed those whom they call druids, these also being devoted to the prophetic art and to wisdom in general. In all these cases the kings were not permitted to do or plan anything without the assistance of these wise men, so that in truth it was they who ruled, while the kings became are servants and the ministers of their will, though they sat on golden thrones, dwelt in great houses, and feasted sumptuously.