Excerpted from Scientific Freedom, originally written by Marcus Tullius Cicero in Tusculan Disputations, Book 5 and translated by C. D. Yonge in 1877:
[King Dionysius II], however, showed himself how happy he really was [among his endless riches and spoils]; for once when Damocles, one of his flatterers, was dilating in conversation on his forces, his wealth, the greatness of his power, the plenty he enjoyed, the grandeur of his royal palaces, and maintaining that no one was ever happier.
“Have you an inclination”, said [Dionysius], “Damocles, as this kind of life pleases you, to have a taste of it yourself, and to make a trial of the good fortune that attends me?” And when [Damocles] said that he should like it extremely, Dionysius ordered him to be laid on a bed of gold with the most exquisite work, and he dressed out a great many sideboards with silver and embossed gold. He then ordered some youths, distinguished for their handsome persons, to wait at his table, and to observe his nod, in order to serve him with what he wanted. There were ointments and garlands; perfumes were burned; tables provided with the most exquisite meats.
Damocles thought himself very happy. In the midst of this apparatus, Dionysius ordered a bright sword to be let down from the ceiling suspended by a single horse-hair, so as to hang over the head of that happy man. After which he neither cast his eye on those handsome waiters, nor on the well-wrought plate; nor touched any of the provisions: presently the garlands fell to pieces. At last he entreated [Dionysius] to give him leave to go, for that now he had no desire to be happy.
Does not Dionysius, then, seem to have declared there can be no happiness for one who is under constant apprehensions?