Sunday, December 28, 2008

Defining Moment: Damon and Pythias

I was in Mrs. Kaleva's second grade class when I first heard the story of
Damon and Pythias. She had asked for volunteers to play the different parts in our class play. I didn't then, and don't now, have the acting bug, but there was a benefit to being in the mix.

The king's crown.

Mrs. Kaleva had a crown for the person who would play the king, and man did I want to wear it. My friends made fun of me because I played a boy part but I did NOT care. I was sporting the crown and did I think I was all that...and a bag of chips.

It was because of that crown I was in that little class play and actually paid attention to the story that we were portraying. I remember that story as well today as when I heard it for the first time, over 30 years ago. It made such an impact on me that I actually consider it on of those defining moments in my life. Certainly in regards to the power of friendship, for sure.

I am copying the story of Damon an Pythias so you will be able to enjoy it too:

Pythias and his friend Damon, both followers of the philosopher Pythagoras, traveled to Syracuse. Pythias was accused of plotting against the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius I. As punishment for this crime, Pythias was sentenced to death.
Accepting his sentence, Pythias asked to be allowed to return home one last time, to settle his affairs and bid his family farewell. Not wanting to be taken for a fool, Dionysius refused, believing that once released, Pythias would flee and never return.
Pythias called for Damon and asked him to take his spot while he goes. Dionysius agreed, on the condition that, should Pythias not return when promised, Damon would be put to death in his place. Damon agreed, and Pythias was released.
Dionysius was convinced that Pythias would never return, and as the day Pythias promised to return came and went, Dionysius prepared to execute Damon. But just as the executioner was about to kill Damon, Pythias returned.
Apologizing to his friend for his delay, Pythias told of how pirates had captured his ship on the passage back to Syracuse and thrown him overboard. Dionysius listened to Pythias as he described how he swam to shore and made his way back to Syracuse as quickly as possible, arriving just in the nick of time to save his friend.
Dionysius was so taken with the friends' trust and loyalty, that he freed both Damon and Pythias, and kept them on as counsel to his court.

Besides getting to wear the crown, I walked away from that experience with what I considered to be the "right" definition of how a friend should be. I have always tried to be that friend, and as I wander through this life, I am so blessed to meet people who are worth the effort. :) Love you buddies.