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Philostratus: War versus love


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace


From Lives of the Sophists
Translated by Wilmer Cave Wright

Leon of Byzantium was in his youth a pupil of Plato, but when he reached man’s estate he was called a sophist because he employed so many different styles of oratory, and also because his repartees were so convincing. For example, when Philip brought an army against Byzantium, Leon went out to meet him and said: “Tell me, Philip, what moved you to begin war on us?” And when he replied: “Your birthplace, the fairest of cities, lured me on to love her, and that is why I have come to my charmer’s door.” Leon retorted: “They come not with swords to the beloved’s door who are worthy of requited love. For lovers need not the instruments of war but of music.”

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