That Xerxes fellow was a clown . . . he was slavishly devoted to a plane tree, as if the tree was something to be wondered at. At any rate, they say that in the middle of western Turkey [Lydia] he saw a specimen of magnificent proportions and stayed there all day long, for no particular reason, even pitching camp in the deserted region where the tree stood. What's more, he put expensive jewellery on her, honouring her twigs and branches with necklaces and bracelets, and he left her in charge of a caretaker, like a guard protecting a sweetheart from unwanted attentions.
But did any of this add to the noble beauty of the tree? The ornaments it had acquired did not suit it one bit, but just hung there, making no contribution at all to its loveliness, since a plant's assets lie in noble branches, a thick canopy, sturdy trunk, deep roots, the wind as it shivers through the leaves, a spreading pool of shade, the way it changes through the seasons, water from irrigation channels to make it grow, water from the skies to sustain it. Attached to the plane tree or any other tree for that matter, there was nothing noble about Xerxes's robes, and barbarous gold, and all his other gifts.