How to Treat a Defeated Rival

Everyone thought Callisthenes was a lucky man.  He was victorious.  He got the girl.  What went wrong?

Sometimes when we think we have won, we are not in the clear yet.

Aristocleia was the most beautiful young woman in the town of Haliartus, and she had two suitors.  One of them was a local boy, Callisthenes, the hometown hero.

The other suitor was a rich young man from Orchomenus, the next town over.  His name was Strato.  Strato was known to be an impulsive young man and violently in love with Aristocleia.

Strato thought he had her, but at the last minute, Aristocleia changed her mind and chose to marry Callisthenes.

Game over, right?

But after two days – just two days – Strato came and visited to try to bury the hatchet with Callisthenes and Aristocleia’s father.  He accepted his fate, he said, and they were all grown men and countrymen.  He wouldn’t want this matter to affect their friendship.

So they invited Strato, the wild young lover, to the wedding.

On the day of the celebration, unbeknownst to them, Strato infiltrated a number of his friends and associates into the party.  At the key moment, they seized the girl and tried to drag her away.

There was shock as a great struggle ensued over the person of Aristocleia.  As they pulled her in different directions in the violent chaos, the girl herself lost consciousness, and died.

Her groom, Callisthenes, in shame and horror, ran away, never to be seen again in his home country.  Strato, who had caused the misfortune with his violent passion, took out his knife and slew himself on the corpse of Aristocleia.

It is usually considered magnanimous to be gracious to our enemies after we have defeated them.  But violent passions rarely die out quickly (generally it takes more than two days).  Make sure you don’t give a desperate foe an opportunity to think he can still salvage the situation.

Callisthenes and his future father in law should have known better than to trust a passionate man with wounded pride. Learn human nature – that is, acquire sophia – and you may one day avoid untold suffering.

Stay Ancient,


P.S. the cities of Haliartus and Orchomenus in Boeotia feature in the gripping climax of the Life of Lysander, episode 3.  Listen here now, if you haven’t yet!