CLEON'S suggestion, so artfully adapted to the motives
which were dominant in the disappointed athlete's
breast, worked as leaven works in a measure of meal.
The two met, according to arrangement, on the fourth
day, the appointed place being the fountain of Peirené.
Before, however, this meeting took place, there had
been a consultation between the conspirators, and
Cleon's plan was discussed.
"Is this all an imagination of yours, Cleon?" asked
Ariston. "Is there any drug that makes a man especially
fleet of foot and long of wind? and is there any other
drug with which you can counteract the effects of the
Cleon smiled. "You are really very encouraging,
Ariston. If you believe half this rigmarole, there
must be many more people in Corinth than I thought who
believe it all. As for the first drug we need not
inquire. There may be such, or there may not. As for
the second, I have no doubt whatever. I know of several
 drugs, though these things are not in my especial
line, which if a man take he will never run quickly
again, or indeed slowly, for the matter of that."
The two other confederates started. Cleon had been
thinking of the plan for some time, and his mind had
become habituated to it. To his companions it came as a
surprise and a blow.
"What," said Ariston, in a faltering voice, "you mean
to poison the man."
"Good words! good words! my friend," cried Cleon in
mocking tones. "Who talked of poison? We administer a
drug, compounded according to a well-known
prescription. No, I am wrong. It is not we who
administer it; it is Dromeus. Suppose that something
happens. Untoward accidents do happen when we have to
do with these powerful agents. It is quite possible
that nothing may be found out. Of ten deaths by
poisoning—no, let me say after the administration of
drugs—seven or eight cause no suspicion. And when there
are suspicions it is very difficult to prove anything.
But let us imagine the worst; I do hope that no harm
will come to our very amiable and promising friend
Eubulus, but if it should, if he should be laid aside,
and people are so unkindly curious as to ask who did
it, what would the answer be? Here is a
 young man in the same house, who has any number of
opportunities of administering the drug, and the
strongest reason for wishing the young fellow out of
the way—a rival likely to be an unsuccessful rival. Who
would think of looking any further? And what should we
do? I should suggest that we should say something to
this effect—'This is a very deplorable affair; we
cannot think of making a profit out of it; we cancel
all the wagers which we laid against our poor friend.
We lament his loss as much as any one, and this is our
way of showing it—a very poor way, but all that we can
do." It is true that we should lose some twenty minas
apiece, but then, think what an advertisement! And,
after all, we shall be out of the hole pretty cheaply."
This was convincing, and Cleon went to the meeting
fully prepared with what had to be said. Dromeus went,
as may be supposed, straight to the point.
"Well," he said, "have you anything further to tell me
about the drug?"
"Yes," replied Cleon, "it is a well-known article in
the trade. They say that it is made out of some herb
which the stags eat to give themselves speed, 'deers'
garlic' they call it.
 That may or may not be true. The medicine-sellers have
a way of inventing these particulars. But I believe
that it is really a very effective thing, probably
because it works on the heart and lungs. However, we
need not trouble ourselves about this; the really
important thing is the counteracting drug. And here we
have a choice of three or four."
I should not like to hurt the poor fellow," said
Dromeus, who, when he was not mastered by his special
faults, was not ill-natured. "He has no business here,
but I should be very sorry to do him a real injury."
"Of course not," replied Cleon. "I should hate doing
any such thing quite as much as you. We understand each
other then. I find the medicine, and you will take an
opportunity of administering it. I would impress upon
you not to lose any time, and to be very careful about
observing the directions that may come with the
medicine. Of course you will contrive that no one
"You are sure," cried Dromeus, who began to feel
somewhat uneasy, "you are sure that it would not do any
"Of course not," answered Cleon. "What do you take me
for? Do I look like a poisoner?"
He certainly looked like a villain, whether he
 had the peculiar poisoner characteristic or no, and
Dromeus could not help thinking so. However, he was too
deeply committed to draw back. "And after all," he
argued with himself—arguments which one half of the
conscience uses to the other half seldom fail to
persuade—"a man cannot help his looks." After a pause
of reflection he went on: "Then I rely upon you. And
when shall you have it ready?"
I shall have it to-day," answered Cleon. "Be here again
at sunset, and I will hand it to you then. If by any
chance I should fail to get it, then come this time
By the time appointed for the meeting Dromeus had
contrived to swallow his scruples. He received the drug
with instructions how to use it. It was in a liquid
form, and was in a very small compass, and so could be
easily dropped into a cup of water. It will suffice to
say that the opportunity was found and duly used.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics