Gerrit van Honthorst. Sólon e Creso. 1624
O diálogo clássico entre Sólon e Creso. Sólon fala sobre a felicidade e a instabilidade das coisas humanas. Conforme Heródoto, História, 1, 30-3 (tradução do The Perseus project):
XXX. So for that reason, and to see the world, Solon went to visit Amasis in Egypt and then to Croesus in Sardis. When he got there, Croesus entertained him in the palace, and on the third or fourth day Croesus told his attendants to show Solon around his treasures, and they pointed out all those things that were great and blest.  After Solon had seen everything and had thought about it, Croesus found the opportunity to say, “My Athenian guest, we have heard a lot about you because of your wisdom and of your wanderings, how as one who loves learning you have traveled much of the world for the sake of seeing it, so now I desire to ask you who is the most fortunate man you have seen.”  Croesus asked this question believing that he was the most fortunate of men, but Solon, offering no flattery but keeping to the truth, said, “O King, it is Tellus the Athenian.”  Croesus was amazed at what he had said and replied sharply, “In what way do you judge Tellus to be the most fortunate?” Solon said, “Tellus was from a prosperous city, and his children were good and noble. He saw children born to them all, and all of these survived. His life was prosperous by our standards, and his death was most glorious:  when the Athenians were fighting their neighbors in Eleusis, he came to help, routed the enemy, and died very finely. The Athenians buried him at public expense on the spot where he fell and gave him much honor.”
XXXI. When Solon had provoked him by saying that the affairs of Tellus were so fortunate, Croesus asked who he thought was next, fully expecting to win second prize. Solon answered, “Cleobis and Biton.  They were of Argive stock, had enough to live on, and on top of this had great bodily strength. Both had won prizes in the athletic contests, and this story is told about them: there was a festival of Hera in Argos, and their mother absolutely had to be conveyed to the temple by a team of oxen. But their oxen had not come back from the fields in time, so the youths took the yoke upon their own shoulders under constraint of time. They drew the wagon, with their mother riding atop it, traveling five miles until they arrived at the temple.  When they had done this and had been seen by the entire gathering, their lives came to an excellent end, and in their case the god made clear that for human beings it is a better thing to die than to live. The Argive men stood around the youths and congratulated them on their strength; the Argive women congratulated their mother for having borne such children.  She was overjoyed at the feat and at the praise, so she stood before the image and prayed that the goddess might grant the best thing for man to her children Cleobis and Biton, who had given great honor to the goddess.  After this prayer they sacrificed and feasted. The youths then lay down in the temple and went to sleep and never rose again; death held them there. The Argives made and dedicated at Delphi statues of them as being the best of men.”
XXXII. Thus Solon granted second place in happiness to these men. Croesus was vexed and said, “My Athenian guest, do you so much despise our happiness that you do not even make us worth as much as common men?” Solon replied, “Croesus, you ask me about human affairs, and I know that the divine is entirely grudging and troublesome to us.  In a long span of time it is possible to see many things that you do not want to, and to suffer them, too. I set the limit of a man's life at seventy years;  these seventy years have twenty-five thousand, two hundred days, leaving out the intercalary month.1 But if you make every other year longer by one month, so that the seasons agree opportunely, then there are thirty-five intercalary months during the seventy years, and from these months there are one thousand fifty days.  Out of all these days in the seventy years, all twenty-six thousand, two hundred and fifty of them, not one brings anything at all like another. So, Croesus, man is entirely chance.  To me you seem to be very rich and to be king of many people, but I cannot answer your question before I learn that you ended your life well. The very rich man is not more fortunate than the man who has only his daily needs, unless he chances to end his life with all well. Many very rich men are unfortunate, many of moderate means are lucky.  The man who is very rich but unfortunate surpasses the lucky man in only two ways, while the lucky surpasses the rich but unfortunate in many. The rich man is more capable of fulfilling his appetites and of bearing a great disaster that falls upon him, and it is in these ways that he surpasses the other. The lucky man is not so able to support disaster or appetite as is the rich man, but his luck keeps these things away from him, and he is free from deformity and disease, has no experience of evils, and has fine children and good looks.  If besides all this he ends his life well, then he is the one whom you seek, the one worthy to be called fortunate. But refrain from calling him fortunate before he dies; call him lucky.  It is impossible for one who is only human to obtain all these things at the same time, just as no land is self-sufficient in what it produces. Each country has one thing but lacks another; whichever has the most is the best. Just so no human being is self-sufficient; each person has one thing but lacks another.  Whoever passes through life with the most and then dies agreeably is the one who, in my opinion, O King, deserves to bear this name. It is necessary to see how the end of every affair turns out, for the god promises fortune to many people and then utterly ruins them.”
XXXIII. By saying this, Solon did not at all please Croesus, who sent him away without regard for him, but thinking him a great fool, because he ignored the present good and told him to look to the end of every affair.
Creso só entende a lição depois de ter sido capturado e condenado à morte por Ciro. Prestes a morrer, ele fala a Ciro. O rei persa se admira e manda libertá-lo. História, 1, 86-9:
LXXXVI. The Persians gained Sardis and took Croesus prisoner. Croesus had ruled fourteen years and been besieged fourteen days. Fulfilling the oracle, he had destroyed his own great empire. The Persians took him and brought him to Cyrus,  who erected a pyre and mounted Croesus atop it, bound in chains, with twice seven sons of the Lydians beside him. Cyrus may have intended to sacrifice him as a victory-offering to some god, or he may have wished to fulfill a vow, or perhaps he had heard that Croesus was pious and put him atop the pyre to find out if some divinity would deliver him from being burned alive.  So Cyrus did this. As Croesus stood on the pyre, even though he was in such a wretched position it occurred to him that Solon had spoken with god's help when he had said that no one among the living is fortunate. When this occurred to him, he heaved a deep sigh and groaned aloud after long silence, calling out three times the name “Solon.”  Cyrus heard and ordered the interpreters to ask Croesus who he was invoking. They approached and asked, but Croesus kept quiet at their questioning, until finally they forced him and he said, “I would prefer to great wealth his coming into discourse with all despots.” Since what he said was unintelligible, they again asked what he had said,  persistently harassing him. He explained that first Solon the Athenian had come and seen all his fortune and spoken as if he despised it. Now everything had turned out for him as Solon had said, speaking no more of him than of every human being, especially those who think themselves fortunate. While Croesus was relating all this, the pyre had been lit and the edges were on fire.  When Cyrus heard from the interpreters what Croesus said, he relented and considered that he, a human being, was burning alive another human being, one his equal in good fortune. In addition, he feared retribution, reflecting how there is nothing stable in human affairs. He ordered that the blazing fire be extinguished as quickly as possible, and that Croesus and those with him be taken down, but despite their efforts they could not master the fire.
Apolo salvou Creso. Choveu.
Artamène ou le Grand Cyru. Maior romance de todos os tempos. Sucesso quando lançado. Número de páginas da edição original: mais de 13000. Vai encarar?
Gosto muito do Heródoto. O livro é fantástico. Vale a pena enfrentá-lo.
Parece prolixo. Vive contando histórias de pescador. Mas aí que está. Não é que ele seja crédulo. Nem que goste de enrolar. Todas os fatos importantes e/ou maravilhosos merecem a atenção do Heródoto. Outra coisa. Talvez ele seja um dos gregos que menos olhava para o próprio umbigo. Vivia na periferia do mundo grego. Estava mais próximo de outros povos. Só mais tarde é que foi para Atenas. Era mais fácil para ele ter uma visão de conjunto sine ira et studio. A introdução não deixa dúvidas. O assunto são os feitos gloriosos dos gregos e dos bárbaros. Tudo culmina nas Guerras Médicas. Os fatos são registrados para que não caiam no esquecimento. A inspiração é quase estética. É a descrição do maravilhoso nos acontecimentos humanos. Os editores mais tarde dividiram a obra em nove livros, cada um com o nome de uma musa. Não foi por acaso. São cantos em prosa. Nem é por acaso também que as pessoas gostassem tanto de ouvir aqueles relatos. O livro do Heródoto é uma epopéia em prosa. Uma Ilíada fruto da investigação filosófica daqueles tempos. Afinal, ele era filho de uma Jônia que tinha dado tantos filósofos ilustres.
Nem é justo dizer que o Heródoto não tinha senso crítico. Pelo contrário! A delimitação do assunto, a busca pelas causas da guerra entre gregos e persas, a citação de testemunhas... Existe método sim, senhor! O livro parece às vezes frouxo porque nenhum assunto maravilhoso pode ficar de fora. Sem contar que só um mestre pode articular tanta coisa, sempre com um único propósito. Também é impressionante como ele dá liberdade de direito às fontes. Várias vezes ele põe em dúvida o relato das testemunhas. Mas é um juiz imparcial. Elas têm o direito de contar as versões delas.
Uma das maiores diferenças entre Tucídides e Heródoto é o papel do homem na história. Ambos colocam o homem no centro dos acontecimentos. Mas Tucídides busca uma explicação política dos eventos. Heródoto achava que tudo estava submetido à roda da fortuna. Existe uma instabilidade misteriosa no mundo. Como explicar a derrota do poderoso império Persa? Até hoje, por mais elaboradas que sejam as explicações, aquele acontecimento sempre parece misterioso. Heródoto diz que existem sinais do que vai ocorrer. Porém a gente vive como cegos. Entendemos mal os avisos. A sorte momentânea cria uma ilusão. Só um grande sábio como Sólon tem consciência "antecipada" da fragilidade da vida. Esse tema abre e fecha o livro. Ele é explicitado na vida do Creso e desemboca na desventura do Xerxes. O surgimento e a destruição dos impérios são apenas a manifestação em grande escala dessa verdade. Ela é aplicável à vida de cada pessoa (a vida do Creso une essa verdade nos dois aspectos). Não deixa de ser uma concepção pessimista dos assuntos humanos. Até trágica. Só que existe o outro lado da moeda. Tudo isso é evidência do fantástico. Se as causas estão afastadas de nós, então o que vemos são rastros do divino. A História é também um testemunho piedoso.