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BOOK IX. - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 3 
Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 3.
Part of: Plutarch’s Morals, 5 vols.
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This ninth book, Sossius Senecio, contains the discourses we held at Athens at the Muses’ feast, for this number nine is agreeable to the number of the Muses. Nor must you wonder when you find more than ten questions (which number I have observed in my other books) in it; for we ought to give the Muses all that belongs to them, and be as careful of robbing them as of a temple, since we owe them much more and much better things than these.
Concerning Verses Seasonably and Unseasonably applied.
AMMONIUS, PLUTARCH, ERATO, CERTAIN SCHOOLMASTERS, AND FRIENDS OF AMMONIUS.
1.Ammonius, captain of the militia at Athens, would show Diogenianus the proficiency of those youths that learned grammar, geometry, rhetoric, and music; and invited the chief masters of the town to supper. There were a great many scholars at the feast, and almost all his acquaintance. Achilles invited only the single combatants to his feast, intending (as the story goes) that, if in the heat of the encounter they had conceived any anger or ill-will against one another, they might then lay it aside, being made partakers of one common entertainment. But the contrary happened to Ammonius, for the contentions of the masters increased and grew more sharp midst their cups and merriment; and all was disorder and confused babbling.
2. Therefore Ammonius commanded Erato to sing to his harp, and he sang some part of Hesiod’s Works beginning thus,
Contention to one sort is not confined;*
and I commended him for choosing so apposite a song. Then he began to discourse about the seasonable use of verse, that it was not only pleasant but profitable. And straight every one’s mouth was full of that poet who began Ptolemy’s epithalamium (when he married his sister, a wicked and abominable match) thus,
Jove Juno called his sister and his wife;*
and another, who was unwilling to sing after supper to Demetrius the king, but when he sent him his young son Philip to be educated sang thus,
and Anaxarchus who, being pelted with apples by Alexander at supper, rose up and said,
Some God shall wounded be by mortal hand.†
But that Corinthian captive boy excelled all, who, when the city was destroyed, and Mummius, taking a survey of all the free-born children that understood letters, commanded each to write a verse, wrote thus:
Thrice, four times blest, the happy Greeks that fell.‡
For they say that Mummius was affected with it, wept, and gave all the free-born children that were allied to the boy their liberty. And some mentioned the wife of Theodorus the tragedian, who refused his embraces a little before he contended for the prize; but, when he was conqueror and came in unto her, clasped him and said,
Now, Agamemnon’s son, you freely may.§
3. After this a great many sayings were mentioned as unseasonably spoken, it being fit that we should know such and avoid them; — as that to Pompey the Great, to whom, upon his return from a dangerous war, the schoolmaster brought his little daughter, and, to show him what a proficient she was, called for a book, and bade her begin at this line,
and that to Cassius Longinus, to whom a flying report of his son’s dying abroad being brought, and he no ways appearing either to know the certain truth or to clear the doubt, an old senator came and said: Longinus, will you not despise the flying uncertain rumor, as if you neither knew nor had read this line,
For no report is wholly false?*
And he that at Rhodes, to a grammarian demanding a line upon which he might show his skill in the theatre, proposed this,
Fly from the island, worst of all mankind,†
either slyly put a trick upon him, or unwittingly blundered. And this discourse quieted the tumult.
QUESTIONS II. & III.
What is the Reason that Alpha is placed First in the Alphabet, and what is the Proportion between the Number of Vowels and Semi-vowels?
AMMONIUS, HERMEAS, PROTOGENES, PLUTARCH, ZOPYRION.
1.It being the custom of the Muses’ feast to draw lots, and those that were matched to propose curious questions to one another, Ammonius, fearing that two of the same profession might be matched together, ordered, without drawing lots, a geometrician to propose questions to a grammarian, and a master of music to a rhetorician.
2. First therefore, Hermeas the geometrician demanded of Protogenes the grammarian a reason why Alpha was the first letter of the alphabet. And he returned the common answer of the schools, that it was fit the vowels should be set before the mutes and semi vowels. And of the vowels, some being long, some short, some both long and short, it is just that the latter should be most esteemed. And of these that are long and short, that is to be set first which is usually placed before the other two, but never after either; and that is Alpha. For that put either after Iota or Upsilon will not be pronounced, will not make one syllable with them, but as it were resenting the affront and angry at the position, seeks the first as its proper place. But if you place Alpha before either of those, they are obedient, and quietly join in one syllable, as in these words, αὔϱιον, αὐλεῖν, Αἴαντος, αἰδεῖσθαι, and a thousand others. In these three respects therefore, as the conquerors in all the five exercises, it claims the precedence, — that of most other letters by being a vowel, that of other vowels by being double-timed, and lastly, that of these double-timed vowels themselves because it is its natural place to be set before and never after them.
3. Protogenes making a pause, Ammonius, speaking to me, said: What! have you, being a Boeotian, nothing to say for Cadmus, who (as the story goes) placed Alpha the first in order, because a cow is called Alpha by the Phoenicians, and they account it not the second or third (as Hesiod doth) but the first of their necessary things? Nothing at all, I replied, for it is just that, to the best of my power, I should rather assist my own than Bacchus’s grandfather. For Lamprias my grandfather said, that the first articulate sound that is made is Alpha; for the air in the mouth is formed and fashioned by the motion of the lips; now as soon as those are opened, that sound breaks forth, being very plain and simple, not requiring or depending upon the motion of the tongue, but gently breathed forth whilst that lies still. Therefore that is the first sound that children make. Thus ἀίειν, to hear, ᾄδειν, to sing, αὐλεῖν, to pipe, ἀλαλάζειν, to hollow, begin with the letter Alpha; and I think that αἴϱειν, to lift up, and ἀνοίγειν, to open, were fitly taken from that opening and lifting up of the lips when his voice is uttered. Thus all the names of the mutes besides one have an Alpha, as it were a light to assist their blindness; for Pi alone wants it, and Phi and Chi are only Pi and Kappa with an aspirate.
1.Hermeas saying that he approved both reasons, why then (continued I) do not you explain the proportion, if there be any, of the number of the letters; for, in my opinion, there is; and I think so, because the number of mutes and semi-vowels, compared between themselves or with the vowels, doth not seem casual and undesigned, but to be according to the first proportion which you call arithmetical. For their number being nine, eight, and seven, the middle exceeds the last as much as it wants of the first. And the first number being compared with the last, hath the same proportion that the Muses have to Apollo; for nine is appropriated to them, and seven to him. And these two numbers tied together double the middle; and not without reason, since the semi-vowels partake the power of both.
2. And Hermeas replied: It is said that Mercury was the first God that discovered letters in Egypt; and therefore the Egyptians make the figure of an Ibis, a bird dedicated to Mercury, for the first letter. But it is not fit, in my opinion, to place an animal that makes no noise at the head of the letters. Amongst all the numbers, the fourth is peculiarly dedicated to Mercury, because, as some say, the God was born on the fourth day of the month. The first letters called Phoenician from Cadmus are four times four, or sixteen; and of those that were afterward added, Palamedes found four, and Simonides four more. Now amongst numbers, three is the first perfect, as consisting of a first, a middle, and a last; and after that six, as being equal the sum of its own divisors (1+2+3). Of these, six multiplied by four makes twenty-four; and also the first perfect number, three, multiplied by the first cube, eight.
3. Whilst he was discoursing thus, Zopyrion the grammarian sneered and muttered something between his teeth; and, as soon as he had done, cried out that he most egregiously trifled; for it was mere chance, and not design, that gave such a number and order to the letters, as it was mere chance that the first and last verses of Homer’s Iliads have just as many syllables as the first and last of his Odysseys.
Which of Venus’s Hands Diomedes wounded.
HERMEAS, ZOPYRION, MAXIMUS.
1.Hermeas would have replied to Zopyrion, but we desired him to hold; and Maximus the rhetorician proposed to him this far-fetched question out of Homer, Which of Venus’s hands Diomedes wounded. And Zopyrion presently asking him again, Of which leg was Philip lame? — Maximus replied, It is a different case, for Demosthenes hath left us no foundation upon which we may build our conjecture. But if you confess your ignorance in this matter, others will show how the poet sufficiently intimates to an understanding man which hand it was. Zopyrion being at a stand, we all, since he made no reply, desired Maximus to tell us.
2. And he began: The verses running thus,
it is evident that, if he designed to wound her left hand, there had been no need of leaping, since her left hand was opposite to his right. Besides, it is probable that he would endeavor to wound the strongest hand, and that with which she drew away Aeneas; which being wounded, it was likely she would let him go. But more, after she returned to Heaven, Minerva jeeringly said,
And I suppose, sir, when you stroke any of your scholars, you use your right hand, and not your left; and it is likely that Venus, the most dexterous of all the goddesses, soothed the heroines after the same manner.
Why Plato says that Ajax’s Soul came to draw her lot in the twentieth place in Hell.
HYLAS, SOSPIS, AMMONIUS, LAMPRIAS.
1.These discourses made all the other company merry; but Sospis the rhetorician, seeing Hylas the grammarian sit silent and discomposed (for he had not been very happy in his exercises), cried out,
But Ajax’s soul stood far apart;
and raising his voice repeated the rest to him,
To this Hylas, unable to contain, returned a scurvy answer, saying that Ajax’s soul, taking her lot in the twentieth place in hell, changed her nature, according to Plato, for a lion’s; but, for his part, he could not but often think upon the saying of the old comedian,
At this Sospis, laughing heartily, said: But in the mean time, before we have the pack-saddles on, if you have any regard for Plato, tell us why he makes Ajax’s soul, after the lots drawn, to have the twentieth choice. Hylas, with great indignation, refused, thinking that this was a jeering reflection on his former miscarriage. Therefore my brother began thus: What, was not Ajax counted the second for beauty, strength, and courage, and the next to Achilles in the Grecian army? And twenty is the second ten, and ten is the chiefest of numbers, as Achilles of the Greeks. We laughing at this, Ammonius said: Well, Lamprias, let this suffice for a joke upon Hylas; but since you have voluntarily taken upon you to give an account of this matter, leave off jesting, and seriously proceed.
2. This startled Lamprias a little, but, after a short pause, he continued thus: Plato often tells merry stories under borrowed names, but when he puts any fable into a discourse concerning the soul, he hath some considerable meaning in it. The intelligent nature of the heavens he calls a flying chariot, intimating the harmonious whirl of the world. And here he introduceth one Er, the son of Harmonius, a Pamphylian, to tell what he had seen in hell; intimating that our souls are begotten according to harmony, and are agreeably united to our bodies, and that, when they are separated, they are from all parts carried together into the air, and from thence return to second generations. And what hinders but that twentieth (εἰϰοστόν) should intimate that this was not a true story, but only probable and fictitious (εἰϰός), and that the lot fell casually (εἰϰῆ). For Plato always toucheth upon three causes, he being the first and chiefest philosopher that knew how fate agrees with fortune, and how our free-will is mixed and complicated with both. And now he hath admirably discovered what influence each hath upon our affairs. The choice of our life he hath left to our free-will, for virtue and vice are free. But that those who have made a good choice should live religiously, and those who have made an ill choice should lead a contrary life, he leaves to the necessity of fate. But the chances of lots thrown at a venture introduce fortune into the several conditions of life in which we are brought up, which pre-occupates and perverts our own choice. Now consider whether it is not irrational to enquire after a cause of those things that are done by chance. For if the lot seems to be disposed of by design, it ceaseth to be chance and fortune, and becomes fate and providence.
3. Whilst Lamprias was speaking, Marcus the grammarian seemed to be counting to himself, and when he had done, he began thus: Amongst the souls which Homer mentions in his Νεϰυία, Elpenor’s is not to be reckoned as mixed with those in hell, but, his body being not buried, as wandering about the banks of the river Styx. Nor is it fit that we should reckon Tiresias’s soul amongst the rest, —
to discourse and converse with the living even before he drank the sacrifice’s blood. Therefore, Lamprias, if you subtract these two, you will find that Ajax was the twentieth that Ulysses saw, and Plato merrily alludes to that place in Homer’s Νεϰυία.*
What is meant by the Fable about the Defeat of Neptune? and also, Why do the Athenians take out the second day of the month Boedromion?
MENEPHYLUS, HYLAS, LAMPRIAS.
Now when the whole company were grown to a certain uproar, Menephylus, a Peripatetic philosopher, called to Hylas by name and said: You see that this question was not propounded by way of mockery and flouting; but leave now that obstinate Ajax, whose very name (according to Sophocles) is ill-omened, and betake yourself to Neptune. For you are wont to recount unto us how he has been oftentimes overcome, — here by Minerva, in Delphi by Apollo, in Argos by Juno, in Aegina by Jupiter, in Naxos by Bacchus, — and yet has borne himself always mild and gentle in all his repulses. In proof whereof, there is even in this city a temple common to him and Minerva, in which there is also an altar dedicated to Oblivion. Then Hylas, who seemed by this time to be more pleasantly disposed, replied: You have forgotten, Menephylus, that we have abolished the second day of September, not in regard of the moon, but because it was thought to be the day on which Neptune and Minerva contended for the seigniory of Attica. By all means, quoth Lamprias, by as much as Neptune was every way more civil than Thrasybulus, since not being like him a winner, but the loser, . . .
(The rest of this book to Question XIII is lost; with the exception of the titles that follow, and the fragment of Question XII.)
Why the Accords in Music are divided into three.
Wherein the intervals or spaces melodious differ from those that are accordant.
What cause produceth Accord? and also, Why, when two Accordant Strings are touched together, is the Melody ascribed to the Base?
Why, when the Ecliptic Periods of the Sun and the Moon are equal in number, there are more Eclipses of the Moon than of the Sun.
That we continue not always one and the same, in regard of the daily deflux of our Substance.
Whether of the Twain is more probable, that the Number of the Stars is even or odd?
. . but men are to be deceived with oaths. And Glaucias said: I have heard that this speech was used against Polycrates the tyrant, and it may be that it was spoken also to others. But why do you demand this of me? Because verily, quoth Sospis, I see that children play at odd and even with cockal bones, but Academics with words. For it seems to me that such stomachs differ in nothing from them who hold out their clutched fists and ask whether they hold odd or even. Then Protogenes arose and called me by name, saying: What ail we, that we suffer these rhetoricians thus to brave it out and to mock others, being demanded nothing in the mean time, nor put to it to contribute their scot to the conference? — unless peradventure they will come in with the plea that they have no part of this table-talk over the wine, being followers of Demosthenes, who in all his life never drank wine. That is not the reason, said I; but we have put them no questions. And now, unless you have any thing better to ask, methinks I can be even with these fellows, and put them a puzzling question out of Homer, as to a case of repugnance in contrary laws.
A Moot-point out of the Third Book of Homer’s Iliads.
PLUTARCH, PROTOGENES, GLAUCIAS, SOSPIS.
1.What question will you put them, said Protogenes? I will tell you, continued I, and let them carefully attend. Paris makes his challenge in these express words:
And Hector afterwards publicly proclaiming this challenge in these express words:
Menelaus accepted the challenge, and the conditions were sworn to, Agamemnon dictating thus:
Now since Menelaus only overcame but did not kill Paris, each party hath somewhat to say for itself, and against the other. The one may demand restitution, because Paris was overcome; the other deny it, because he was not killed. Now how to determine this case and clear the seeming repugnances doth not belong to philosophers or grammarians, but to rhetoricians, that are well skilled both in grammar and philosophy.
2. Then Sospis said: The challenger’s word is decisive; for the challenger proposed the conditions, and when they were accepted, the other party had no power to make additions. Now the condition proposed in this challenge was not killing, but overcoming; and there was reason that it should be so, for Helen ought to be the wife of the bravest. Now the bravest is he that overcomes; for it often happens that an excellent soldier might be killed by a coward, as is evident in what happened afterward, when Achilles was shot by Paris. For I do not believe that you will affirm, that Achilles was not so brave a man as Paris because he was killed by him, and that it should be called the victory, and not rather the unjust good fortune, of him that shot him. But Hector was overcome before he was killed by Achilles, because he would not stand, but trembled and fled at his approach. For he that refuseth the combat or flies cannot palliate his defeat, and plainly grants that his adversary is the better man. And therefore Iris tells Helen beforehand,
And Jupiter afterwards adjudges the victory to Menelaus in these words:
The conquest leans to Menelaus’s side.†
For it would be ridiculous to call Menelaus a conqueror when he shot Podes, a man at a great distance, before he thought of or could provide against his danger, and yet not allow him the reward of victory over him whom he made fly and sneak into the embraces of his wife, and whom he spoiled of his arms whilst he was yet alive, and who had himself given the challenge, by the terms of which Menelaus now appeared to be the conqueror.
3. Glaucias subjoined: In all laws, decrees, contracts, and promises, those latest made are always accounted more valid than the former. Now the later contract was Agamemnon’s, the condition of which was killing, and not only overcoming. Besides the former was mere words, the latter confirmed by oath; and, by the consent of all, those were cursed that broke them; so that this latter was properly the contract, and the other a bare challenge. And this Priam at his going away, after he had sworn to the conditions, confirms by these words:
for he understood that to be the condition of the contract. And therefore a little after Hector says,
But Jove hath undetermined left our oaths,*
for the combat had not its designed and indisputable determination, since neither of them fell. Therefore this question doth not seem to me to contain any contrariety of law, since the former contract is comprised and overruled by the latter; for he that kills certainly overcomes, but he that overcomes doth not always kill. But, in short, Agamemnon did not annul, but only explain the challenge proposed by Hector. He did not change any thing, but only added the most principal part, placing victory in killing; for that is a complete conquest, but all others may be evaded or disputed, as this of Menelaus, who neither wounded nor pursued his adversary. Now as, where there are laws really contrary, the judges take that side which is plain and indisputable, and mind not that which is obscure; so in this case, let us admit that contract to be most valid which contained killing, as a known and undeniable evidence of victory. But (which is the greatest argument) he that seems to have had the victory, not being quiet, but running up and down the army, and searching all about,
To find neat Paris in the busy throng,†
sufficiently testifies that he himself did not imagine that the conquest was perfect and complete when Paris had escaped. For he did not forget his own words:
Therefore it was necessary for him to seek after Paris, that he might kill him and complete the combat; but since he neither killed nor took him, he had no right to the prize. For he did not conquer him, if we may guess by what he said when he expostulated with Jove and bewailed his unsuccessful attempt:
For in these words he confessed that it was to no purpose to pierce the shield or take the head-piece of his adversary, unless he likewise wounded or killed him.
Some Observations about the Number of the Muses, not commonly known.
HERODES, AMMONIUS, LAMPRIAS, TRYPHON, DIONYSIUS, MENEPHYLUS, PLUTARCH.
1.This discourse ended, we poured out our offerings to the Muses, and together with a hymn in honor of Apollo, the patron of the Muses, we sung with Erato, who played upon the harp, the generation of the Muses out of Hesiod. After the song was done, Herod the rhetorician said: Pray, sirs, hearken. Those that will not admit Calliope to be ours say that she keeps company with kings, not such, I suppose, as are busied in resolving syllogisms or disputing, but such who do those things that belong to rhetoricians and statesmen. But of the rest of the Muses, Clio abets encomiums, for praises are called ϰλέα; and Polymnia history, for her name signifies the remembrance of many things; and it is said that all the Muses were somewhere called Remembrances. And for my part, I think Euterpe hath some relation to us too, if (as Chrysippus says) her lot be agreeableness in discourse and pleasantness in conversation. For it belongs to an orator to converse, as well as plead or give advice; since it is his part to gain the favor of his auditors, and to defend or excuse his client. To praise or dispraise is the commonest theme; and if we manage this artfully, it will turn to considerable account; if unskilfully, we are lost. For that saying,
Gods! how he is honored and beloved by all,*
chiefly, in my opinion, belongs to those men who have a pleasing and persuasive faculty in discourse.
2. Then said Ammonius to Herod: We have no reason to be angry with you for grasping all the Muses, since the goods that friends have are common, and Jove hath begotten a great many Muses, that every man may be plentifully supplied; for we do not all need skill in hunting, military arts, navigation, or any mechanical trades; but learning and instruction is necessary for every one that
Eats the fruits of the spacious earth.†
And therefore Jove made but one Minerva, one Diana, one Vulcan, but many Muses. But why there should be nine, and no more nor less, pray acquaint us; for you, so great a lover of, and so well acquainted with, the Muses, must certainly have considered this matter. What difficulty is there in that? replied Herod. The number nine is in every body’s mouth, as being the first square of the first odd number; and as doubly odd, since it may be divided into three equal odd numbers. Ammonius with a smile subjoined: Boldly said; and pray add, that this number is composed of the first two cubes, one and eight, and according to another composition of two triangles, three and six, each of which is itself perfect. But why should this belong to the Muses more than any other of the Gods? For we have nine Muses, but not nine Cereses, nine Minervas or Dianas. For I do not believe you take it for a good argument, that the Muses must be so many, because their mother’s name (Mnemosyne) consists of just so many letters. Herod smiling, and every body being silent, Ammonius desired our opinions.
3. My brother said, that the ancients celebrated but three Muses, and that to bring proofs for this assertion would be pedantic and uncivil in such a company. The reason of this number was (not as some say) the three different sorts of music, the diatonic, the chromatic, and harmonic, nor those stops that make the intervals nete, mese, and hypate; though the Delphians gave the Muses this name erroneously, in my opinion, appropriating it to one science, or rather to a part of one single science, the harmoniac part of music. But, as I think, the ancients, reducing all arts and sciences which are practised and performed by reason or discourse to three heads, philosophy, rhetoric, and mathematics, accounted them the gifts of three Gods, and named them the Muses. Afterwards, about Hesiod’s time, the sciences being better and more thoroughly looked into, men subdividing them found that each science contained three different parts. In mathematics are comprehended music, arithmetic, and geometry; in philosophy are logic, ethics, and physics. In rhetoric, they say the first part was demonstrative or encomiastic, the second deliberative, the third judicial. None of all which they believed to be without a God or a Muse or some superior power for its patron, and did not, it is probable, make the Muses equal in number to these divisions, but found them to be so. Now, as you may divide nine into threes, and each three into as many units; so there is but one rectitude of reason, which is employed about the supreme truth, and which belongs to the whole in common, while each of the three kinds of science has three Muses assigned to it, and each of these has her separate faculty assigned to her, which she disposes and orders. And I do not think the poets and astrologers will find fault with us for passing over their professions in silence, since they know, as well as we, that astrology is comprehended in geometry, and poetry in music.
4. As soon as he had said this, Trypho the physician subjoined: How hath our art offended you, that you have shut the Museum against us? And Dionysius of Melite added: Sir, you have a great many that will side with you in the accusation; for we farmers think Thalia to be ours, assigning her the care of springing and budding seeds and plants. But I interposing said: Your accusation is not just; for you have bountiful Ceres, and Bacchus who (as Pindar phraseth it) increaseth the trees, the chaste beauty of the fruits; and we know that Aesculapius is the patron of the physicians, and they make their address to Apollo as Paean, but never as the Muses’ chief. All men (as Homer says) stand in need of the Gods, but all stand not in need of all. But I wonder Lamprias did not mind what the Delphians say in this matter; for they affirm that the Muses amongst them were not named so either from the strings or sounds in music; but the universe being divided into three parts, the first portion was of the fixed stars, the second of the planets, the third of those things that are under the concave of the moon; and all these are ordered according to harmonical proportions, and of each portion a Muse takes care; Hypate of the first, Nete of the last, and Mese in the middle, combining as much as possible, and turning about mortal things with the Gods, and earthly with heavenly. And Plato intimates the same thing under the names of the Fates, calling one Atropos, the other Lachesis, and the other Clotho. For he committed the revolutions of the eight spheres to so many Sirens, and not Muses.
5. Then Menephylus the Peripatetic subjoined: The Delphians’ opinion hath indeed somewhat of probability in it; but Plato is absurd in committing the eternal and divine revolutions not to the Muses but to the Sirens, Daemons that neither love nor are benevolent to mankind, wholly passing by the Muses, or calling them by the names of the Fates, the daughters of Necessity. For Necessity is averse to the Muses; but Persuasion being more agreeable and better acquainted with them, in my opinion, than the grace of Empedocles,
Intolerable Necessity abhors.
6. No doubt, said Ammonius, as it is in us a violent and involuntary cause; but in the Gods Necessity is not intolerable, uncontrollable, or violent, unless it be to the wicked; as the law in a commonwealth to the best men is its best good, not to be violated or transgressed, not because they have no power, but because they have no will, to change it. And Homer’s Sirens give us no just reason to be afraid; for he in that fable rightly intimates the power of their music not to be hurtful to man, but delightfully charming, and detaining the souls which pass from hence thither and wander after death; working in them a love for divine and heavenly things, and a forgetfulness of every thing on earth; and they extremely pleased follow and attend them. And from thence some imperfect sound, and as it were echo of that music, coming to us by the means of reason and good precepts, rouseth our souls, and restores the notice of those things to our minds, the greatest part of which lie encumbered with and entangled in disturbances of the flesh and distracting passions. But the generous soul hears and remembers, and her affection for those pleasures riseth up to the most ardent passion, whilst she eagerly desires but is not able to free herself from the body.
It is true, I do not approve what he says; but Plato seems to me, as he hath strangely and unaccountably called the axes spindles and distaffs, and the stars whirls, so to have named the Muses Sirens, as delivering divine things to the ghosts below, as Ulysses in Sophocles says of the Sirens,
Eight of the Muses take care of the spheres, and one of all about the earth. The eight who govern the motions of the spheres maintain the harmony of the planets with the fixed stars and one another. But that one who looks after the place betwixt the earth and moon and takes care of mortal things, by means of speech and song introduceth persuasion, assisting our natural consent to community and agreement, and giveth men as much harmony, grace, and order as is possible for them to receive; introducing this persuasion to smooth and quiet our disturbances, and as it were to recall our wandering desires out of the wrong way, and to set us in the right path. But, as Pindar says,
7. To this discourse Ammonius, as he used to do, subjoined that verse of Xenophanes,
This fine discourse seems near allied to truth.
and desired every one to deliver his opinion. And I, after a short silence, said: As Plato thinks by the name, as it were by tracks, to discover the powers of the Gods, so let us place in heaven and over heavenly things one of the Muses, Urania. And it is likely that those require no distracting variety of cares to govern them, since they have the same single nature for the cause of all their motions. But where are a great many irregularities and disorders, there we must place the eight Muses, that we may have one to correct each particular irregularity and miscarriage. There are two parts in a man’s life, the serious and the merry; and each must be regulated and methodized. The serious part, which instructs us in the knowledge and contemplation of the Gods, Calliope, Clio, and Thalia seem chiefly to look after and direct. The other Muses govern our weak part, which changes presently into wantonness and folly; they do not neglect our brutish and violent passions and let them run their own course, but by apposite dancing, music, song, and orderly motion mixed with reason, bring them down to a moderate temper and condition. For my part, since Plato admits two principles of every action, the natural desire after pleasure, and acquired opinion which covets and wishes for the best, and calls one reason and the other passion, and since each of these is manifold, I think that each requires a considerable and, to speak the truth, a divine direction. For instance, one faculty of our reason is said to be political or imperial, over which Hesiod says Calliope presides; Clio’s province is the noble and aspiring; and Polymnia’s that faculty of the soul which inclines to attain and keep knowledge (and therefore the Sicyonians call one of their three Muses Polymathia); to Euterpe everybody allows the searches into nature and physical speculations, there being no greater, no sincerer pleasure belonging to any other sort of speculation in the world. The natural desire to meat and drink Thalia reduceth from brutish and uncivil to be sociable and friendly; and therefore we say ϑαλιάζειν of those that are friendly, merry, and sociable over their cups, and not of those that are quarrelsome and mad. Erato, together with Persuasion, that brings along with it reason and opportunity, presides over marriages; she takes away and extinguisheth all the violent fury of pleasure, and makes it tend to friendship, mutual confidence, and endearment, and not to effeminacy, lust, or discontent. The delight which the eye or ear receives is a sort of pleasure, either appropriate to reason or to passion, or common to them both. This the two other Muses, Terpsichore and Melpomene, so moderate, that the one may only cheer and not charm, the other only please and not bewitch.
That There are three Parts in Dancing: φοϱά, Motion, σχῆμα Gesture, and δεῖξις, Representation. What each of those is and what is Common to both Poetry and Dancing.
AMMONIUS AND THRASYBULUS.
1.After this, a match of dancing was proposed, and a cake was the prize. The judges were Meniscus the dancing-master, and my brother Lamprias; for he danced the Pyrrhic very well, and in the Palaestra none could match him for the graceful motion of his hands and arms in dancing. Now a great many dancing with more heat than art, some desired two of the company who seemed to be best skilled and took most care to observe their steps, to dance in the style called φοϱὰν παϱὰ φοϱάν. Upon this Thrasybulus, the son of Ammonius, demanded what φοϱά signified, and gave Ammonius occasion to run over most of the parts of dancing.
2. He said they were three, — φοϱά, σχῆμα, and δεῖξις. For dancing is made up of motion and manner (σχέσις), as a song of sounds and stops; stops are the ends of motion. Now the motions they call φοϱαί, and the gestures and likeness to which the motions tend, and in which they end, they call σχήματα: as, for instance, when by their own motions they represent the figure of Apollo, Pan, or any of the raging Bacchae. The third, δεῖξις, is not an imitation, but a plain downright indication of the things represented. For the poets, when they would speak of Achilles, Ulysses, the earth, or heaven, use their proper names, and such as the vulgar usually understand. But for the more lively representation, they use words which by their very sound express some eminent quality in the thing, or metaphors; as when they say that streams do “babble and flash;” that arrows fly “desirous the flesh to wound;” or when they describe an equal battle by saying “the fight had equal heads.” They have likewise a great many significative compositions in their verses. Thus Euripides of Perseus,
He that Medusa slew, and flies in air;
and Pindar of a horse,
and Homer of a race,
So in dancing, the σχῆμα represents the shape and figure, the φοϱά shows some action, passion, or power; but by the δεῖξις are properly and significatively shown the things themselves, for instance, the heaven, earth, or the company. Which, being done in a certain order and method, resembles the proper names used in poetry, decently clothed and attended with suitable epithets. As in these lines,
And in these,
For if poets did not take this liberty, how mean, how grovelling and flat, would be their verse! As suppose they wrote thus,
The same faults may be committed in that sort of dancing called δεῖξις, unless the representation be lifelike and graceful, decent and unaffected. And, in short, we may aptly transfer what Simonides said of painting to dancing, and call dancing mute poetry, and poetry speaking dancing; for poesy doth not properly belong to painting, nor painting to poesy, neither do they any way make use of one another. But poesy and dancing have much in common, especially in that sort of song called Hyporchema, in which is the most lively representation imaginable, dancing doing it by gesture, and poesy by words. So that poesy may bear some resemblance to the colors in painting, while dancing is like the lines which mark out the features of the face. And therefore he who was the most famous writer of Hyporchemes, who here even outdid himself,* sufficiently evidenceth that these two arts stand in need of one another. For, whilst he sings these songs,
. . . . .
he shows what tendency poetry hath to dancing; whilst the sound excites the hands and feet, or rather as it were by some cords distends and raiseth every member of the whole body; so that, whilst such songs are pronounced or sung, they cannot be quiet. But now-a-days no sort of exercise hath such bad depraved music applied to it as dancing; and so it suffers that which Ibycus as to his own concerns was fearful of, as appears by these lines,
For having associated to itself a mean paltry sort of music, and falling from that divine sort of poetry with which it was formerly acquainted, it rules now and domineers amongst foolish and inconsiderate spectators, like a tyrant, it hath subjected nearly the whole of music, but hath lost all its honor with excellent and wise men.
These, my Sossius Senecio, were almost the last discourses which we had at Ammonius’s house during the festival of the Muses.
OF MORAL VIRTUE.
1.My design in this essay is to treat of that virtue which is called and accounted moral, and is chiefly distinguished from the contemplative, in its having for the matter thereof the passions of the mind, and for its form, right reason; and herein to consider the nature of it and how it subsists, and whether that part of the soul wherein it resides be endowed with reason of its own, inherent in itself, or whether it participates of that which is foreign; and if the latter, whether it does this after the manner of those things which are mingled with what is better than themselves, or whether, as being distinct itself but yet under the dominion and superintendency of another, it may be said to partake of the power of the predominant faculty. For that it is possible for virtue to exist and continue altogether independent of matter, and free from all mixture, I take to be most manifest. But in the first place I conceive it may be very useful briefly to run over the opinions of other philosophers, not so much for the vanity of giving an historical account thereof, as that, they being premised, ours may thence receive the greater light and be more firmly established.
2. To begin then with Menedemus of Eretria, he took away both the number and the differences of virtue, by asserting it to be but one, although distinguished by several names; holding that, in the same manner as a mortal and a man are all one, so what we call temperance, fortitude, and justice are but one and the same thing. As for Ariston of Chios, he likewise made virtue to be but one in substance, and called it sanity, which, as it had respect to this or that, was to be variously multiplied and distinguished; just after the same manner as if any one should call our sight, when applied to any white object, by the name of white-look; when to one that is black, by the name of black-look; and so in other matters. For according to him, virtue, when it considers such things as we ought to do or not to do, is called prudence; when it moderates our desires, and prescribes the measure and season for our pleasures, temperance; and when it governs the commerce and mutual contracts of mankind, justice; — in the same manner, for instance, as a knife is one and the same knife still, notwithstanding sometimes it cuts one thing, sometimes another, and just as fire does operate upon different matter, and yet retain the very same nature. Unto which opinion it seems also as if Zeno the Citian did in some measure incline; he defining prudence, while it distributes to every man his own, to be justice; when it teaches what we are to choose and what to reject or avoid, temperance; and with respect to what is to be borne or suffered, fortitude. But it is to be observed, that they who take upon them the defence of Zeno’s notions do suppose him to mean science by what he calls prudence. But then Chrysippus, whilst he imagined from every distinct quality a several and peculiar virtue to be formed, before he was aware, raised (as Plato hath it) a whole swarm of virtues never before known or used among the philosophers. For as from brave he derived bravery; from mild, mildness; and from just, justice; so from pleasant he fetched pleasantness; from good, goodness; from grand, grandeur; and from honest, honesty; placing these and all kind of dexterous application of discourse, all kind of facetiousness of conversation, and all witty turns of expression in the number of virtues, thereby over-running philosophy, which requires nothing less, with a multitude of uncouth, absurd, and barbarous terms.
3. However, all these do commonly agree in this one thing, in supposing virtue to be a certain disposition and faculty of the governing and directive part of the soul, of which reason is the cause; or rather to be reason itself, when it consents to what it ought, and is firm and immutable. And they do likewise think, that that part of the soul which is the seat of the passions, and is called brutal or irrational, is not at all distinct by any physical difference from that which is rational; but that this part of the soul (which they call rational and directive), being wholly turned about and changed by its affections and by those several alterations which are wrought in it with respect either to habit or disposition, becometh either vice or virtue, without having any thing in itself that is really brutal or irrational, but is then called brutal or irrational, when by the over-ruling and prevailing violence of our appetites it is hurried on to something absurd and vicious, against the judgment of reason. For passion, according to them, is nothing else but depraved and intemperate reason, that through a perverse and vicious judgment is grown over-vehement and headstrong.
Now, it seems to me, all these philosophers were perfect strangers to the clearness and truth of this point, that we every one of us are in reality twofold and compound. For, discerning only that composition in us which of the two is most evident, namely that of the soul and body, of the other they knew nothing at all. And yet that in the soul itself also there is a certain composition of two dissimilar and distinct natures, the brutal part whereof, as another body, is necessarily and physically compounded with and conjoined to reason, was, it should seem, no secret to Pythagoras himself, — as some have guessed from his having introduced the study of music amongst his scholars, for the more easy calming and assuaging the mind, as well knowing that it is not in every part of it obedient and subject to precepts and discipline, nor indeed by reason only to be recovered and retrieved from vice, but requires some other kind of persuasives to co-operate with it, to dispose it to such a temper and gentleness as that it may not be utterly intractable and obstinate to the precepts of philosophy. And Plato very strongly and plainly, without the least hesitation, maintained that the soul of the universe is neither simple, uniform, nor uncompounded; but that being mixed, as it were, and made up of that which is always the same and of that which is otherwise, in some places it is continually governed and carried about after a uniform manner in one and the same powerful and predominant order, and in other places is divided into motions and circles, one contrary to the other, unsettled and fortuitous, — whence are derived the beginnings and generation of differences in things. And so, in like manner, the soul of man, being a part or portion of that of the universe, and framed upon reasons and proportions answerable to it, cannot be simple and all of the same nature; but must have one part that is intelligent and rational, which naturally ought to have dominion over a man, and another which, being subject to passion, irrational, extravagant, and unbounded, stands in need of direction and restraint. And this last is again subdivided into two other parts; one whereof, being called corporeal, is called concupiscible, and the other, which sometimes takes part with this and sometimes with reason, and gives respectively to either of them strength and vigor, is called irascible. And that which chiefly discovers the difference between the one and the other is the frequent conflict of the intellect and reason with concupiscence and anger, it being the nature of things that are different amongst themselves to be oftentimes repugnant and disobedient to what is best of all.
These principles at first Aristotle seems most to have relied upon, as plainly enough appears from what he has written. Though afterwards he confounded the irascible and concupiscible together, by joining the one to the other, as if anger were nothing but a thirst and desire of revenge. However, to the last he constantly maintained that the sensual and irrational was wholly distinct from the intellectual and rational part of the soul. Not that it is so absolutely devoid of reason as those faculties of the soul which are sensitive, nutritive, and vegetative, and are common to us with brute beasts and plants; for these are always deaf to the voice of reason and incapable of it, and may in some sort be said to derive themselves from flesh and blood, and to be inseparably attached to the body and devoted to the service thereof; but the other sensual part, subject to the sudden efforts of the passions and destitute of any reason of its own, is yet nevertheless naturally adapted to hear and obey the intellect and judgment, to have regard to it, and to submit itself to be regulated and ordered according the rules and precepts thereof, unless it happen to be utterly corrupted and vitiated by pleasure, which is deaf to all instruction, and by a luxurious way of living.
4. As for those who wonder how it should come to pass, that that which is irrational in itself should yet become obsequious to the dictates of right reason, they seem to me not to have duly considered the force and power of reason, how great and extensive it is, and how far it is able to carry and extend its authority and command, not so much by harsh and arbitrary methods, as by soft and gentle means, which persuade more and gain obedience sooner than all the severities and violences in the world. For even the spirits, the nerves, bones, and other parts of the body are destitute of reason; but yet no sooner do they feel the least motion of the will, reason shaking (as it were), though never so gently, the reins, but all of them observe their proper order, agree together, and pay a ready obedience. As, for instance, the feet, if the impulse of the mind be to run, immediately betake themselves to their office; or if the motion of the will be for the throwing or lifting up of any thing, the hands in a moment fall to their business. And this sympathy or consent of the brutal faculties to right reason, and the ready conformity of them thereto, Homer has most admirably expressed in these verses:
Under such perfect subjection to his reason and judgment had he even his spirits, his blood, and his tears. A most evident proof of this matter we have also from hence, that our natural desires and motions are as soon repressed and quieted as we know we are either by reason or law forbidden to approach the fair ones we at the first view had so great a passion for; a thing which most commonly happens to those who are apt to fall in love at sight with beautiful women, without knowing or examining who they are; for no sooner do they afterwards find their error, by discovering the person with whose charms they were before captivated to be a sister or a daughter, but their flame is presently extinguished by the interposition of reason. And flesh and blood are immediately brought into order, and become obedient to the judgment. It often falls out likewise that, after we have eaten some kinds of meat or fish finely dressed, and by that means artificially disguised, with great pleasure and a very good stomach, at the first moment we understand they were either unclean, or unlawful and forbidden, our judgment being thereby shocked, we feel not only remorse and trouble in our mind, but the conceit reaches farther, and our whole frame is disordered by the nauseous qualms and vomitings thereby occasioned. I fear I should be thought on purpose to hunt after too far-fetched and youthful instances to insert in this discourse, if I should take notice of the lute, the harp, the pipe and flute, and such like musical instruments invented by art, and adapted to the raising or allaying of human passions; which, though they are void of life and sense, do yet most readily accommodate themselves to the judgment, to our passions and our manners, either indulging our melancholy, increasing our mirth, or feeding our wantonness, as we happen at that time to be disposed. And therefore it is reported of Zeno himself, that, going one day to the theatre to hear Amoebeus sing to the lute, he called to his scholars, Come, says he, let us go and learn what harmony and music the guts and sinews of beasts, nay even wood and bones are capable of, by the help of numbers, proportion, and order.
But to let these things pass, I would gladly know of them, whether, when they see domestic animals (as dogs, horses, or birds) by use, feeding, and teaching brought to so high a degree of perfection as that they shall utter articulately some senseful words, and by their motions, gestures, and all their actions, shall approve themselves governable, and become useful to us; and when also they find Achilles in Homer encouraging horses, as well as men, to battle; — whether, I say, after all this, they can yet make any wonder or doubt, whether those faculties of the mind to which we owe our anger, our desires, our joys, and our sorrows, be of such a nature that they are capable of being obedient to reason, and so affected by it as to consent and become entirely subject to it; considering especially that these faculties are not seated without us, or separated from us, or formed by any thing which is not in us, or hammered out by force and violence, but, as they have by nature their entire dependence upon the soul, so they are ever conversant and bred up with it, and also receive their final complement and perfection from use, custom, and practice. For this reason the Greeks very properly call manners ἦθος, custom; for they are nothing else, in short, but certain qualities of the irrational and brutal part of the mind, and hence by them are so named, in that this brutal and irrational part of the mind being formed and moulded by right reason, by long custom and use (which they call ἔθος), has these qualities or differences stamped upon it. Not that reason so much as attempts to eradicate our passions and affections, which is neither possible nor expedient, but only to keep them within due bounds, reduce them into good order, and so direct them to a good end; and thus to generate moral virtue, consisting not in a kind of insensibility, or total freedom from passions, but in the well-ordering our passions and keeping them within measure, which she effects by wisdom and prudence, bringing the faculties of that part of the soul where our affections and appetite are seated to a good habit. For these three things are commonly held to be in the soul, namely, a faculty or aptitude, passion, and habit. This aptitude or faculty then is the principle or very matter of passions; as for example, the power or aptitude to be angry, to be ashamed, to be confident and bold, or the like; passion is the actual exercise of that aptitude or faculty, as anger, shame, confidence, or boldness; and habit is the strength, firmness, and establishment of the disposition or faculty in the irrational part of the soul, gotten by continual use and custom, and which, according as the passions are well or ill governed by reason, becomes either virtue or vice.
5. But, forasmuch as philosophers do not make all virtue to consist in a mediocrity nor call it moral, to show the difference more clearly, it will be necessary to take our rise a little farther off. For of all things then in the universe, some do exist absolutely, simply, and for themselves only; others again relatively, for and with regard to us. Among those things which have an absolute and simple existence are the earth, the heavens, the stars, and the sea; and of such things as have their being relatively, with respect to us, are good and evil, things desirable and to be avoided, and things pleasant and hurtful. And seeing that both are the proper objects of reason, — while it considers the former, which are absolutely and for themselves, it is scientifical and contemplative; and when the other, which have reference to us, it is deliberative and practical. And as the proper virtue in the latter case is prudence, in the former it is science. And between the one and the other, namely, between prudence and science, there is this difference. Prudence consists in a certain application and relation of the contemplative faculties of the soul to those which are practical, for the government of the sensual and irrational part, according to reason. To which purpose prudence has often need of Fortune; whereas neither of that nor of deliberation has science any occasion or want to attain its ends, forasmuch as it has nothing to consider but such things as remain always the same. For as a geometrician never deliberates about a triangle, whether all its three angles be equal to two right angles, because of that he has a clear and distinct knowledge (and men use to deliberate about such things only as are sometimes in one state or condition and sometimes in another, and not of those which are always firm and immutable), so the mind, when merely contemplative, exercising itself about first principles and things permanent, such as retaining the same nature are incapable of mutation, has no room or occasion for deliberation. Whereas prudence, descending to actions full of error and confusion, is very often under the necessity of encountering with fortuitous accidents, and, in doubtful cases, of making use of deliberation, and, to reduce those deliberations into practice, of calling also to its assistance even the irrational faculties, which are (as it were) forcibly dragged to go along with it, and by that means to give a certain vigor or impetus to its determinations. For its determinations do indeed want something which may enliven and give them such an impetus. And moral virtue it is which gives an impetus or vigor to the passions; but at the same time reason, which accompanies that impetus, and of which it stands in great need, does so set bounds thereunto, that nothing but what is moderate appears, and that it neither outruns the proper seasons of action, nor yet falls short of them.
For the sensual faculties, where passions are seated, are subject to motions, some over-vehement, sudden, and quick, and others again too remiss, and more slow and heavy than is convenient. So that, though every thing we do can be good but in one manner, yet it may be evil in several; as there is but one single way of hitting the mark, but to miss it a great many, either by shooting over, or under, or on one side. The business therefore of practical reason, governing our actions according to the order of Nature, is to correct the excesses as well as the defects of the passions, by reducing them to a true mediocrity. For as, when through infirmity of the mind, effeminacy, fear, or laziness, the vehemence and keenness of the appetites are so abated that they are ready to sink and fall short of the good at which they are aimed and directed, there is then this practical reason at hand, exciting and rousing and pushing them onward; so, on the other hand, when it lashes out too far and is hurried beyond all measure, there also is the same reason ready to bring it again within compass and put a stop to its career. And thus, prescribing bounds and giving law to the motions of the passions, it produces in the irrational part of the soul these moral virtues (of which we now treat), which are nothing else but the mean between excess and defect. For it cannot be said that all virtue consists in mediocrity; since wisdom or prudence (one of the intellectual virtues), standing in no need of the irrational faculties, — as being seated in that part of the soul which is pure and unmixed and free from all passions, — is of itself absolutely perfect, the utmost extremity and power of reason, whereby we attain to that perfection of knowledge which is itself most divine and renders us most happy. Whereas moral virtue, which because of the body is so necessary to us, and, to put things in practice, stands in need of the instrumental ministry of the passions (as being so far from promoting the destruction and abolition of irrational powers, as to be altogether employed in the due regulation thereof), is, with respect to its power or quality, the very top and extremity of perfection; but, in respect of the proportion and quantity which it determines, it is mediocrity, in that it takes away all excess on the one hand, and cures all defects on the other.
6. Now mean and mediocrity may be differently understood. For there is one mean which is compounded and made up of the two simple extremes, as in colors, gray, of white and black; and another, where that which contains and is contained is the medium between the containing and the contained, as, for instance, the number eight, between twelve and four. And a third sort there is also, which participates of neither extreme, as for example, all those things which, as being neither good nor evil in themselves, we call adiaphorous, or indifferent. But in none of these ways can virtue be said to be a mean, or mediocrity. For neither is it a mixture of vices, nor, comprehending that which is defective and short, is it comprehended by that which runs out into excess; nor yet is it exempt from the impetuosity and sudden efforts of the passions, in which excess and defect do properly take place. But moral virtue properly doth consist in a mean or mediocrity (and so it is commonly taken), most like to that which there is in our Greek music and harmony. For, whereas there are the highest and lowest musical notes in the extremities of the scale called nete and hypate; so likewise is there in the middle thereof, between these two, another musical note, and that the sweetest of all, called mese (or mean), which does as perfectly avoid the extreme sharpness of the one as it doth the over-flatness of the other. And so also virtue, being a motion and power which is exercised about the brutal and irrational part of the soul, takes away the remission and intention — in a word, the excess and defect — of the appetites, reducing thereby every one of the passions to a due mediocrity and perfect state of rectitude.
For example, fortitude is said to be the mean between cowardice and rashness, whereof the one is a defect, as the other is an excess of the irascible faculty; liberality, between sordid parsimony on the one hand, and extravagant prodigality on the other; clemency between insensibility of injuries and its opposite, revengeful cruelty; and so of justice and temperance; the former being the mean between giving and distributing more or less than is due in all contracts, affairs, and business between man and man, and the latter a just mediocrity between a stupid apathy, touched with no sense or relish of pleasure, and dissolute softness, abandoned to all manner of sensualities.
And from this instance of temperance it is, that we are most clearly given to understand the difference between the irrational and the rational faculties of the soul, and that it so plainly appears to us that the passions and affections of the mind are quite a distinct thing from reason. For otherwise never should we be able to distinguish continence from temperance, nor incontinence from intemperance, in lust and pleasures, if it were one and the same faculty of the soul wherewith we reason and judge, and whereby we desire and covet. Now temperance is that whereby reason governs and manages that part of the soul which is subject to the passions (as it were some wild creature brought up by hand, and made quite tame and gentle), having gained an absolute victory over all its appetites, and brought them entirely under the dominion of it. Whereas we call it continence, when reason has indeed gained the mastery over the appetites and prevailed against them, though not without great pains and trouble, they being perverse and continuing to struggle, as not having wholly submitted themselves; so that it is not without great difficulty able to preserve its government over them, being forced to retain and hold them in, and keep them within compass, as it were, with stripes, with the bit and bridle, while the mind all the time is full of nothing but agony, contentions, and confusion. All which Plato endeavors to illustrate by a similitude of the chariot-horses of the soul, the one whereof, being more unruly, not only kicks and flings at him that is more gentle and tractable, but also thereby so troubles and disorders the driver himself, that he is forced sometimes to hold him hard in, and sometimes again to give him his head,
Lest from his hands the purple reins should slip,
as Simonides speaks.
And from hence we may see why continence is not thought worthy to be placed in the number of perfect virtues, but is taken to be a degree under virtue. For there is not therein produced a mediocrity arising from a symphony of the worst with the better, nor are the excesses of the passions retrenched; nor yet doth the appetite become obedient and subservient to the reasonable faculties, but it both makes and feels disorder and disturbance, being repressed by violence and constraint, and (as it were) by necessity; as in a sedition or faction in a city or state, the contending parties, breathing nothing but war and destruction and ruin to one another, do yet cohabit together (it may be) within the compass of the same walls; insomuch that the soul of the incontinent person, with respect to the conflicts and incongruities therein, may very properly be compared to the city,
And upon the same grounds it is, that incontinence is held to be something less than vice also, but intemperance to be a complete and perfect vice, for therein not the appetite only but reason likewise is debauched and corrupted; and as the former incites and pushes forward the desires and affections to that which is evil, so this, by making an ill judgment, is easily led to consent and agree to the soft whispers and tempting allurements of corrupt lusts and passions, and soon loseth all sense of sin and evil. Whereas incontinence preserves the judgment, by the help of reason, right and sound; but yet, by irresistible force and violence of the passions, is even against judgment drawn away. Moreover, in these respects following it differeth also from intemperance: — inasmuch as reason in that is overpowered by passion, but in this it never so much as struggleth; the incontinent person, after a noble resistance, is at last forced to submit to the tyranny of his lusts, and follow their guidance, while the intemperate approves them, and gladly goes along with and submits to them; one feels remorse for the evil he commits, while the other prides in lewdness and vice. Again, the one wilfully and of his own accord runs into sin; while the other, even against his will, is forced to abandon that which is good.
And this difference between them is not to be collected only from their actions, but may as plainly also be discovered by their words. For at this rate do intemperate persons use to talk:
And thus says another:
as if from his very soul he were wholly abandoned and given up to pleasures and voluptuousness, and even overwhelmed therein. And much of the same mind was he, and his judgment was as totally depraved by his passions, who said,
But quite another spirit do we find running through the sayings of the incontinent:
says one of them. And again,
where not improperly he compares the fluke of an anchor dropped in loose ground to that ill-grounded, feeble, and irresolute reason, which by the vanity, weakness, and luxury of the mind is easily brought to forsake the judgment. And the like metaphor has the poet made use of happily enough in these verses:
where by the cables the poet means the judgment opposing itself against all that is evil or dishonest, which is, however, oftentimes disturbed and broken by violent and sudden gusts of the passions. For, indeed, the intemperate are borne away directly and with full sail to their pleasures; to them they deliver up themselves entirely, and thither it is they bend their whole course. While the incontinent, indirectly only, as endeavoring to sustain and repel the assaults of the passions and withstand their temptations, either is allured and as it were slides into evil, or else is plunged violently into it whether he will or no. As Timon, in his bitter way of raillery, reproaches Anaxarchus,
And neither is a wise man continent, but temperate; nor a fool incontinent, but intemperate; the one taking true pleasure and delight in good, the other having no displeasure against evil. And therefore incontinence is said to be found only in a mind which is sophistical (or which barely makes a show of being governed and directed by prudence), and which has indeed the use of reason, but in so weak and faint a manner, that it is not able to persevere in that which it knows to be right.
7. Thus we have seen the diversity between incontinence and intemperance. And as for continence and temperance, their differences are analogous, and bear proportion to those of the other, but in contrary respects. For remorse, grief, and indignation do always accompany continence; whereas in the mind of a temperate person there is all over such an evenness, calmness, and firmness, that, seeing with what wonderful easiness and tranquillity the irrational faculties go along with reason and submit to its directions, one cannot but call to mind that of the poet:
reason having quite deadened and repressed the vehement raging and furious motions of the passions and affections. But those whose assistance Nature necessarily requires are by reason rendered so agreeable and consenting, so submissive, friendly, and co-operative in the execution of all good designs and purposes, that they neither outrun it, nor recede from it, nor behave themselves disorderly, nor ever show the least disobedience; but every appetite willingly and cheerfully pursues its dictates,
As sucking foal runs by his mother mare.
Which very much confirms what was said by Xenocrates of those who are true philosophers, namely, that they alone do that voluntarily which all others do against their wills for fear of the laws; being diverted and restrained from the pursuit of their pleasures, as a dog is frightened by a whipping or a cat scared by a noise, having regard to nothing else in the matter but their own danger.
It is manifest then from what has been discoursed, that the soul does perceive within itself something that is firm and immovable, totally distinct from its passions and appetites, these being what it does always oppose and is ever contending with. But some there are, nevertheless, who affirm that reason and passion do not materially differ from one another, and that there is not in the soul any faction, sedition, or dissension of two several and contending faculties, but only a shifting, conversion, or alteration of the same reason or rational faculty from one side to the other, backward and forward, which, by reason of the suddenness and swiftness of the change, is not perceptible by us; and therefore, that we do not consider that the same faculty of the soul is by nature so adapted as to be capable of both concupiscence and repentance, of anger and of fear, of being drawn to the commission of any lewdness or evil by the allurements of pleasure, and afterwards of being again retrieved from it. And as for lust, anger, fear, and such like passions, they will have them to be nothing but perverse opinions and false judgments, not arising or formed in any inferior part of the soul, peculiarly belonging to them, but being the advances and returns, or the motions forward and backward, the good likenings and more vehement efforts, and (in a word) such operations and energies of the whole rational and directive faculty as are ready to be turned this way or that with the greatest ease imaginable; like the sudden motions and irruptions in children, the violence and impetuosity whereof, by reason of their imbecility and weakness, are very fleeting and inconstant.
But these opinions are against common sense and experience; for no man ever felt such a sudden change in himself, as that whenever he chose any thing he immediately judged it fit to be chosen, or that, on the other hand, whenever he judged any thing fit to be chosen he immediately made choice of it. Neither does the lover who is convinced by reason that his amour is fit to be broken off, and that he ought to strive against his passion, therefore immediately cease to love; nor on the other side doth he desist reasoning, and cease from being able to give a right judgment of things, even then, when, being softened and overcome by luxury, he delivers himself up a captive to his lusts. But as, while by the assistance of reason he makes opposition to the efforts of his passions, they yet continue to solicit, and at last overcome him; so likewise, when he is overcome and forced to submit to them, by the light of reason does he plainly discern and know that he has done amiss; so that neither by the passions is reason effaced and destroyed, nor yet by reason is he rescued and delivered from them; but, being tossed to and fro between the one and the other, he is a kind of neuter, and participates in common of them both. And those, methinks, who imagine that one while the directive and rational part of the soul is changed into concupiscence and lust, and that by and by reason opposes itself against them, and they are changed into that, are not much unlike them who make the sportsman and his game not to be two, but one body, which, by a nimble and dexterous mutation of itself, one while appears in the shape of the huntsman, and at another turn puts on the form of a wild beast. For as these in a plain evident matter seem to be stark blind, so they in the other case belie even their own senses, seeing they must needs feel in themselves not merely a change or mutation of one and the same thing, but a downright struggle and quarrel between two several and distinct faculties.
But is not, say they, the deliberative power or faculty of a man often divided in itself, and distracted among several opinions contrary to one another, about that which is expedient; and yet is but one, simple, uniform thing? All this we grant to be true; but it does not reach the case we are speaking of. For that part of the soul where reason and judgment are seated is not at variance with itself, but by one and the same faculty is conversant about different reasonings; or rather, there is but one simple power of reasoning, which employs itself on several arguments, as so many different subject-matters. And therefore it is, that no disturbance or uneasiness accompanies those reasonings or deliberations, where the passions do not at all interpose. Nor are we at any time forced, as it were, to choose any thing contrary to the dictates of our own reason, but when, as in a balance, some lurking hidden passions lay something in the scale against reason to weigh it down. And this often falls out to be the case, where it is not reasoning that is opposed to reasoning, but either ambition, or emulation, or favor, or jealousy, or fear, making a show as if there were a variance or contest between two differing reasons, according to that of Homer,
Shame in denial, in acceptance fear;*
and of another poet,
And in determining of controversies about contracts between man and man, it is by the interposition of the passions that so many disputes and delays are created. So likewise in the consultations and counsels of kings, they who design to make their court incline not to one side of the question or debate rather than the other, but only accommodate themselves to their own passions, without any regard to the interest of the public. Which is the reason that in aristocratical governments the magistrates will not suffer orators in their pleadings, by declaiming and haranguing, to raise the passions and move the affections. For reason, not being disturbed or diverted by passion, tends directly to that which is honorable and just; but if the passions are once raised, there immediately follows a mighty controversy and struggle between pleasure and grief on the one hand, and reason and judgment on the other. For otherwise how comes it to pass, that in philosophical disputes and disquisitions we so often and with so little trouble are by others drawn off from our own opinions and wrought upon to change them? — and that Aristotle himself, Democritus, and Chrysippus have without any concern or regret of mind, nay even with great satisfaction to themselves, retracted some of those points which they formerly so much approved of, and were wont so stiffly to maintain? For no passions residing in the contemplative and scientifical part of the soul make any tumult or disturbance therein, and the irrational and brutal faculties remain quiet and calm, without busying themselves to intermeddle in matters of that kind. By which means it falls out, that reason no sooner comes within view of truth, but rejecting that which is false it readily embraces it; forasmuch as there is in the former what is not to be found in the other, namely, a willingness to assent and disagree as there is occasion; whereas in all deliberations had, judgments made, and resolutions taken about such things as are to be reduced into practice, and are mixed and interwoven with the passions and affections, reason meets with much opposition, and is put under great difficulties, by being stopped and interrupted in its course by the brutal faculties of the mind, throwing in its way either pleasure or fear or grief or lust, or some such like temptation or discouragement. And then the decision of these disputes belongs to sense, which is equally affected with both the one and the other; and whichsoever of them gets the mastery, the other is not thereby destroyed, but (though struggling and resisting all the while) is forced only to comply and go along with the conqueror. As an amorous person, for example, finding himself engaged in an amour he cannot approve of, has immediately recourse to his reason, to oppose the force of that against his passion, as having them both together actually subsisting in his soul, plainly discerning them to be several and distinct, and feeling a sensible conflict between the two, while he endeavors (as it were) with his hand to repress and keep down the part which is inflamed and rages so violently within him. But, on the contrary, in those deliberations and disquisitions where the passions have nothing to do, such I mean as belong properly to the contemplative part of the soul, if the reasons are equally balanced, not inclining more to one side than another, then is there no determinate judgment formed, but there remains a doubting, as if there were a rest or suspense of the understanding between two contrary opinions. But if there happen to be any inclination or determination towards one side, that prevailing must needs get the better of the other, but without any regret or obstinate opposition from it against the opinion which is received. In short, whenever the contest seems to be of reason against reason, in that case we have no manner of sense of two distinct powers, but of one simple, uniform faculty only, under different apprehensions or imaginations; but when the dispute is between the irrational part and reason, where nature has so ordered it that neither the victory nor the defeat can be had without anxiety and regret, there immediately the two contending powers divide the soul in the quarrel, and thereby make the difference and distinction between them to be most plain and evident.
8. And not only from their contests, but no less also from the consequences that follow thereupon, may one clearly enough discern the source and original of the passions to be different from that of reason. For since a man may set his affection upon an ingenuous and virtuously disposed child, and no less also upon one that is naughty and dissolute, and since also one may have unreasonable and indecent transports of anger against his children or his parents, and on the contrary, may justly and unblamably be angry in their defence against their enemies and tyrants; as in the one case there is perceived a struggle and dispute of the passions against reason, so in the other may be seen a ready submission and agreement of them, running to its assistance, and lending as it were their helping hand. To illustrate this with a familiar example, — after a good man has in obedience to the laws married a convenient wife, he then in the first place comes to a resolution of conversing and cohabiting with her wisely and honestly, and of making at least a civil husband; but in process of time, custom and constant familiarity having bred within him a true passion for her, he sensibly finds that upon principles of reason his affection and love for her are every day more and more improved and grow upon him. So in like manner, young men having met with kind and gentle masters, to guide and inform their minds in the study of philosophy and sciences, make use of them at first for instruction only and information, but afterwards come to have such an affection for them, that from familiar companions and scholars they become their lovers and admirers, and are so accounted. And the same happens also to most men, with respect to good magistrates in the commonwealth, to their neighbors, and to their kindred; for, beginning an acquaintance upon necessity and interest, for the exchange of the common offices of intercourse and commerce with one another, they do afterwards by degrees, ere they are aware, grow to have a love and friendship for them; reason in such and the like cases having over-persuaded and even compelled the passions to take delight in and pursue what it before had approved of and consented to. As for the poet who said,
doth he not plainly hereby intimate, that he had oftentimes found by experience that this affection of the mind, by a sheepish, shamefaced backwardness, and by foolishly bashful delays against all reason, had lost him the opportunities and seasons of making his fortune, and hindered and disappointed many brave actions and noble enterprises?
9. But these men, though by the force of these arguments sufficiently convinced, do yet seek for evasions, by calling shame by the name of modesty, pleasures by that of joy, and fear by that of caution. No man would go about to blame them for giving things the softest names they can invent, if they would be so just as to bestow these good words upon those passions and affections only which have put themselves under the conduct and direction of reason, and leave those which oppose reason and offer violence to it to be called by their own proper and odious names. But, when fully convinced by the tears they shed, by the trembling of their joints, and by their sudden changing of color back and forward, if instead of plainly calling the passions whereof these are the effects grief and fear, they make use of the fantastic terms of compunctions and conturbations, and to varnish over and disguise the lusts and affections, give them the name only of so many forwardnesses of mind, and I know not what else, they seem not to act like philosophers, but, relying upon little shifts and sophistical artifices, under an amusement of strange words, they vainly hope to cover and conceal the nature of things.
And yet even these men themselves sometimes make use of very proper terms to express these matters; as, for instance, when they call those joys, volitions, and cautions of theirs, not by the name of apathies, as if they were devoid of all manner of passions, but of eupathies. For then is there said to be an eupathy, or good disposition of the affections, when reason hath not utterly destroyed, but composed and adjusted them in the minds of discreet and temperate persons. But what then becomes of vicious and dissolute persons? Why, if they should judge it reasonable to love their parents, instead of a mistress or a gallant, are they unable to perform this; but should they judge it fitting to set their hearts upon a strumpet or a parasite, the judgment is no sooner made, but they are most desperately in love? Now were the passions and judgment one, it could not be but that the passions of love and hatred would immediately follow upon judgments made what to love and hate. But we see the contrary often happen; for the passions, as they submit to some resolutions and judgments, so others again they oppose themselves to, and refuse to comply with. Whence it is that, compelled thereto by truth and the evidence of things, they do not affirm every judgment and determination of reason to be passion, but that only which excites too violent and inordinate an appetite; acknowledging thereby that the faculty we have in us of judging is quite another thing than that which is susceptible of the passions, as is that also which moveth from that which is moved. Nay, even Chrysippus himself, in many places defining patience and continence to be habits of submitting to and pursuing the choice and direction of right reason, doth thereby make it apparent that by the force of truth he was driven to confess that it is one thing in us which is obedient and submissive, but another and quite a different thing which it obeys when it submits, but resists when it does not submit.
10. Now, as for those who make all sins and faults to be equal, to examine whether in other matters they have not also departed from the truth is not at this time and in this place seasonable; since they seem not herein only, but in most things else, to advance unreasonable paradoxes against common sense and experience. For according to them, all our passions and affections are so many faults and whosoever grieves, fears, or desires, commits sin. But with their leave, nothing is more visible and apparent than the mighty difference in those and all other passions, according as we are more or less affected with them. For will any man say that the fear of Dolon was no more than that of Ajax, who, being forced to give way before the enemy,
Or compare the grief of Plato for the death of Socrates to the sorrow and anguish of mind which Alexander felt, when, for having murdered Clitus, he attempted to lay violent hands upon himself. For our grief is commonly increased and augmented above measure by sudden and unexpected accidents. And that which surprises us on the sudden, contrary to our hope and expectation, is much more uneasy and grievous than that which is either foreseen, or not very unlikely to happen; as must needs fall out in the case of those who, expecting nothing more than to see the happiness, advancement, and glory of a friend or a kinsman, should hear of his being put to the most exquisite tortures, as Parmenio did of his son Philotas. And who will ever say that the anger of Magas against Philemon can bear any proportion to the rage of Nicocreon against Anaxarchus? The occasion given was in both cases the same, each of them having severally been bitterly reproached and reviled by the other. For whereas Nicocreon caused Anaxarchus to be broken to pieces and brayed in a mortar with iron pestles, Magas only commanded the executioner to lay the edge of the naked sword upon the neck of Philemon, and so dismissed him. And therefore Plato called anger the nerves of the mind; because, as it may swell and be made more intense by sourness and ill-nature, so may it be slackened and remitted by gentleness and good-nature.
But to elude these and such like objections, they will not allow these intense and vehement efforts of the passions to be according to judgment, or so to proceed from it as if that were therein faulty; but they call them cessations, contractions, and extensions or diffusions, which by the irrational part are capable of being increased or diminished. But that there are also differences of judgment is most plain and evident; for some there are who take poverty to be no evil at all, others who look upon it as a great evil, and others again who esteem it to be the greatest evil and worst thing in the world, insomuch that rather than endure it they would dash themselves in pieces against the rocks, or cast themselves headlong into the sea. And among those who reckon death to be an evil, some are of that opinion, in regard only that it deprives us of the enjoyment of the good things of the world, as others are with respect to the eternal torments and horrible punishments under ground in hell. As for bodily health, some love it no otherwise than as it is agreeable to Nature, and very convenient and useful; while others value it as the most sovereign good, in comparison whereof they make no reckoning of riches or children, no, nor of sceptres and crowns,
Which make men equal to the Gods above.
Nor will they, in fine, allow even virtue itself to signify any thing or be of any use, without good health. So that hence it sufficiently appears that, in the judgments men make of things, they may be mistaken and very faulty with respect to both the extremes of too much and too little; but I shall pursue this argument no farther in this place.
Thus much may, however, fairly be assumed from what has already been said on this head, that even they themselves do allow a plain difference between the judgment and the irrational faculties, by means whereof, they say, the passions become greater and more violent; and so, while they cavil and contend about names and words, they give up the very cause to those who maintain the irrational part of the soul, which is the seat of the passions, to be several and distinct from that faculty by which we reason and make a judgment of things. And indeed Chrysippus, in those books which he wrote of Anomology, — after he has told us that anger is blind, not discerning oftentimes those things which are plain and conspicuous, and as frequently casting a mist upon such things as were before clear and evident, — proceeds a little farther in this manner: For, says he, the passions, being once raised, not only reject and drive away reason and those things which appear otherwise than they would have them, but violently push men forward to actions that are contrary to reason. And then he makes use of the testimony of Menander, saying,
And again the same Chrysippus a little after says: Every rational creature is by Nature so disposed as to use reason in all things, and to be governed by it; but yet oftentimes it falls out that we dispose and reject it, being carried away by another more violent and over-ruling motion. In these words he plainly enough acknowledges what uses in such a case to happen on account of the difference and contest between the passions and reason. And upon any other ground it would be ridiculous (as Plato says) to suppose a man to be sometimes better than himself, and sometimes again worse; one while to be his own master, and another while his own slave.
11. For how could it possibly be, that a man should be better and worse than himself, and at once both his own master and slave, if every one were not in some sort naturally double or twofold, having in himself at the same time a better part and a worse? For so may he be reckoned to have a power over himself and to be better than himself, who has his worse and inferior faculties in obedience and subjection to the superior and more excellent; whereas he who suffers his nobler powers to fall under the government and direction of the intemperate and irrational part of the soul is less and worse than himself, and has wholly lost the command over himself, and is in a state which is contrary to Nature. For by the order of Nature, reason, which is divine, ought to have the sovereignty and dominion over the irrational and brutal faculties, which, deriving their original from the body, and being incorporated, as it were, and thoroughly mixed therewith, bear a very near resemblance to it, are replenished with, and do participate in common of the qualities, properties, and passions thereof; as is plain from our more vehement motions and efforts towards corporeal objects, which always increase or diminish in vigor according to the several changes and alterations which happen in the body. From whence it is that young men are in their lusts and appetites, because of the abundance and warmth of their blood, so quick, forward, hot, and furious; whereas in old men all natural fire being almost extinguished, and the first principles and source of the affections and passions, seated about the liver, being much lessened and debilitated, reason becomes more vigorous and predominant, while the appetites languish and decay together with the body. And after this manner it is that the nature of beasts is framed and disposed to divers passions. For it is not from any strength or weakness of thought, or from any opinions right or wrong which they form to themselves, that some of them are so bold and venturous, and dare encounter any thing, and others of them are fearful and cowardly, shrinking at every danger; but from the force and power of the blood, the spirits, and the body does this diversity of passions in them arise; for that part where the passions are seated, being derived from the body, as from its root, retains all the qualities and propensions of that from whence it is extracted.
Now that in man there is a sympathy and an agreeable and correspondent motion of the body with the passions and appetites, is proved by the paleness and blushings of the face, by the tremblings of the joints, and by the palpitation of the heart; and, on the contrary, by the diffusion or dilatation which we feel upon the hope and expectation of pleasures. But when the mind or intellect doth move of itself alone, without any passion to disorder and ruffle it, then is the body at repose and rests quiet, having nothing at all to do with those acts and operations of the mind; as, when it takes into consideration a proposition in mathematics or some such scientifical thing, it calls not for the aid or assistance of the irrational or brutal faculties. From whence also it is very apparent that there are in us two distinct parts, differing in their powers and faculties from one another.
12. In fine, throughout the whole world, all things (as they themselves are forced to confess, and is evident in itself) are governed and directed, some by a certain habit, some by Nature, others by a brutal or irrational soul, and some again by that which has reason and understanding. Of all which things man does in some measure participate, and is concerned in all the above-mentioned differences. For he is contained by habit, and nourished by Nature; he makes use of reason and understanding; he wants not his share of the irrational soul; he has also in him a native source and inbred principle of the passions, not as adventitious, but necessary to him, which ought not therefore to be utterly rooted out, but only pruned and cultivated. For it is not the method and custom of reason — in imitation either of the manner of the Thracians or of what Lycurgus ordered to be done to the vines — to destroy and tear up all the passions and affections indifferently, good and bad, useful and hurtful together; but rather — like some kind and careful Deity who has a tender regard to the growth and improvement of fruit-trees and plants — to cut away and clip off that which grows wild and rank, and to dress and manage the rest that it may serve for use and profit. For as they who are afraid of being drunk pour not their wine upon the ground, but dilute it with water; so neither do they who fear any violent commotion of their passions go about utterly to destroy and eradicate, but rather wisely to temper and moderate them. And as they who use to break horses and oxen do not go about to take away their goings, or to render them unfit for labor and service, but only strive to cure them of their unluckiness and flinging up their heels, and to bring them to be patient of the bit and yoke, so as to become useful; after the same manner reason makes very good use of the passions, after they are well subdued and made gentle, without either tearing in pieces or over-much weakening that part of the soul which was made to be obedient to her. In Pindar we find it said:
But much more useful than these in their several kinds are the whole brood of passions, when they become attendants to reason, and when, being assistant and obedient to virtue, they give life and vigor to it.
Thus, moderate anger is of admirable use to courage or fortitude; hatred and aversion for ill men promotes the execution of justice; and a just indignation against those who are prosperous beyond what they deserve is then both convenient and even necessary, when with pride and insolence their minds are so swollen and elated, that they need to be repressed and taken down. Neither by any means can a man, though he never so much desire it, be able to separate from friendship a natural propension to affection; from humanity and good nature, tenderness and commiseration; nor from true benevolence, a mutual participation of joy and grief. And if they run into an error who would take away all love that they may destroy mad and wanton passions, neither can those be in the right who, for the sake of covetousness, condemn all other appetites and desires. Which is full as ridiculous as if one should always refuse to run, because one time or other he may chance to catch a fall; or to shoot, because he may sometimes happen to miss the mark; or should forbear all singing, because a discord or a jar is offensive to the ear. For, as in sounds the music and harmony thereof takes away neither the sharpest nor the deepest notes, and in our bodies physic procureth health, not by the destruction of heat and cold, but by a due and proportionable temperature and mixture of them both together; so in the same manner it happeneth in the soul of man, when reason becomes victorious and triumphant by reducing the faculties of the mind which belong to the passions, and all their motions, to a due moderation and mediocrity. And excessive and unmeasurable joy or grief or fear in the soul (not, however, either joy, grief, or fear, simply in itself) may very properly be resembled to a great swelling or inflammation in the body. And therefore Homer, where he says,
does not take away all fear (but that only which is extreme and unmanly), that bravery and courage may not be thought to be fool-hardiness, nor boldness and resolution pass for temerity and rashness. And therefore he that in pleasures and delights can prescribe bounds to his lusts and desires, and in punishing offences can moderate his rage and hatred to the offenders, shall in one case get the reputation not of an insensible, but temperate person, and in the other be accounted a man of justice without cruelty or bitterness. Whereas, if all the passions, if that were possible, were clean rooted out, reason in most men would grow sensibly more dull and inactive than the pilot of a ship in a calm.
And to these things (as it should seem) prudent law-givers having regard have wisely taken care to excite and encourage in commonwealths and cities the ambition and emulation of their people amongst one another, and with trumpets, drums, and flutes to whet their anger and courage against their enemies. For not only in poetry (as Plato very well observes), he that is inspired by the Muses, and as it were possessed by a poetical fury, will make him that is otherwise a master of his trade and an exact critic in poetry appear ridiculous; but also in fighting, those who are elevated and inspired with a noble rage, and a resolution and courage about the common pitch, become invincible, and are not to be withstood. And this is that warlike fury which the Gods, as Homer will have it, infuse into men of honor:
He spoke, and every word new strength inspired;
This more than human rage is from the Gods;*
as if to reason the Gods had joined some or other of passions, as an incitement or, if I may so say, a vehicle to push and carry it forward.
Nay we often see these very men against whom I now dispute exciting and encouraging young persons with praises, and as often checking and rebuking them with severe reprimands; whereupon in the one case there must follow pleasure and satisfaction as necessarily as grief and trouble are produced in the other. For reprehension and admonition certainly strike us with repentance and shame, whereof this is comprehended under fear, as the other is under grief. And these are the things they chiefly make use of for correction and amendment. Which seems to be the reason why Diogenes, to some who had magnified Plato, made this reply: What can there be in him, said he, so much to be valued, who, having been so long a philosopher, has never yet been known so much as to excite the single passion of grief in the mind of any one? And certainly the mathematics cannot so properly be called (to use the words of Xenocrates) the handles of philosophy, as these passions are of young men, namely, bashfulness, desire, repentance, pleasure, pain, ambition; whereon right reason and the law discreetly laying their salutary hands do thereby effectually and speedily reduce a young man into the right way. Agreeably hereunto the Lacedaemonian instructor of youth was in the right, when he professed that he would bring it to pass that youths under his care should take a pleasure and satisfaction in good and have an abhorrence for evil, than which there cannot be a greater or nobler end of the liberal education of youth proposed or assigned.
PLUTARCH’S NATURAL QUESTIONS.
What is the Reason that Sea-water nourishes not Trees?
Is it not for the same reason that it nourishes not earthly animals? For Plato, Anaxagoras, and Democritus think plants are earthly animals. Nor, though sea-water be aliment to marine plants, as it is to fishes, will it therefore nourish earthly plants, since it can neither penetrate the roots, because of its grossness, nor ascend, by reason of its weight; for this, among many other things, shows sea-water to be heavy and terrene, because it more easily bears up ships and swimmers. Or is it because drought is a great enemy to trees? For sea-water is of a drying faculty; upon which account salt resists putrefaction, and the bodies of such as wash in the sea are presently dry and rough. Or is it because oil is destructive to earthly plants, and kills things anointed with it? But sea-water participates of much fatness; for it burns together with it. Wherefore, when men would quench fire, we forbid them to throw on sea-water. Or is it because sea-water is not fit to drink and bitter (as Aristotle says) through a mixture of burnt earth? For a lye is made by the falling of ashes into sweet water, and the dissolution ejects and corrupts what was good and potable, as in us men fevers convert the humors into bile. As for what woods and plants men talk of growing in the Red Sea, they bear no fruit, but are nourished by rivers casting up much mud; therefore they grow not at any great distance from land, but very near to it.
Why do Trees and Seeds thrive better with Rain than with Watering?
Whether is it because (as Laitus thinks) showers, parting the earth by the violence of their fall, make passages, whereby the water may more easily penetrate to the root? Or cannot this be true; and did Laitus never consider that marsh-plants (as cat’s-tail, pond-weeds, and rushes) neither thrive nor sprout when the rains fall not in their season; but it is true, as Aristotle said, rain-water is new and fresh, that of lakes old and stale? And what if this be rather probable than true? For the waters of fountains and rivers are ever fresh, new always arriving; therefore Heraclitus said well, that no man could go twice into the same river. And yet these very waters nourish worse than rain-water. But water from the heavens is light and aerial, and, being mixed with spirit, is the quicker passed and elevated into the plant, by reason of its tenuity. And for this very reason it makes bubbles when mixed with the air. Or does that nourish most which is soonest altered and overcome by the thing nourished? — for this very thing is concoction. On the contrary, inconcoction is when the aliment is too strong to be affected by the thing nourished. Now thin, simple, and insipid things are the most easily altered, of which number is rain-water, which is bred in the air and wind, and falls pure and sincere. But fountain-water, being assimilated to the earth and places through which it passes, is filled with many qualities which render it less nutritive and slower in alteration to the thing nourished. Moreover, that rain-water is easily alterable is an argument; because it sooner putrefies than either spring or river-water. For concoction seems to be putrefaction, as Empedocles says, —
Or, which may most readily be assigned for a reason, is it because rain is sweet and mild, when it is presently sent by the wind? For this reason cattle drink it most greedily, and frogs in expectation of it raise their voice, as if they were calling for rain to sweeten the marsh and to be sauce to the water in the pools. For Aratus makes this a sign of approaching rain,
Why do Herdsmen set Salt before Cattle?
Whether (as many think) to nourish them the more, and fatten them the better? For salt by its acrimony sharpens the appetite, and by opening the passages brings meat more easily to digestion. Therefore Apollonius, Herophilus’s scholar, would not have lean persons, and such as did not thrive, be fed with sweet things and gruel, but ordered them to use pickles and salt things for their food, whose tenuity, serving instead of frication or sifting, might apply the aliment through the passages of the body. Or is it for health’s sake that men give sheep salt to lick, to cut off the redundance of nutriment? For when they are over fat, they grow sick; but salt wastes and melts the fat. And this they observe so well, that they can more easily flay them; for the fat, which agglutinates and fastens the skin, is made thin and weak by the acrimony. The blood also of things that lick salt is attenuated; nor do things within the body stick together when salts are mixed with them. Moreover, consider this, whether the cattle grow more fruitful and more inclined to coition; for bitches do sooner conceive when they are fed with salt victuals, and ships which carry salt are more pestered with mice, by reason of their frequent coition.
Why is the Water of Showers which falls in Thunder and Lightning fitter to Water Seeds? And they are therefore called Thunder-showers.
Is it because they contain much spirit, by reason of their confusion and mixture with the air? And the spirit moving the humor sends it more upwards. Or is it because heat fighting against cold causes thunder and lightning? Whence it is that it thunders very little in winter, but in spring and autumn very much, because of the inequality of temper; and the heat, concocting the humor, renders it friendly and commodious for plants. Or does it thunder and lighten most in the spring for the aforesaid cause, and do the seeds have greater occasion for the vernal rains before summer? Therefore that country which is best watered with rain in spring, as Sicily is, produces abundance of good fruit.
How comes it to pass, that since there be Eight Kinds of Tastes, we find the Salt in no Fruit whatever?
Indeed, at first the olive is bitter, and the grape acid; one whereof afterward turns fat, and the other vinous. But the harshness in dates and the austere in pomegranates turn sweet. Some pomegranates and apples have only a simple acid taste. The pungent taste is frequent in roots and seeds.
Is it because a salt taste is never natural, but arises when the rest are corrupt? Therefore such plants and seeds as are nourished receive no nourishment from salt; it serves indeed some instead of sauce, by preventing a surfeit of other nourishment. Or, as men take away saltness and bitingness from the sea-water by distilling, is saltness so abolished in hot things by heat? Or indeed does the taste (as Plato says) arise from water percolated through a plant, and does even sea-water percolated lose its saltness, being terrene and of gross parts? Therefore people that dig near the sea happen upon wells fit to drink. Several also that draw the sea-water into waxen buckets receive it sweet and potable, the salt and earthy matter being strained out. And straining through clay renders sea-water potable, since the clay retains the earthy parts and does not let them pass through. And since things are so, it is very probable either that plants receive no saltness extrinsically, or, if they do, they put it not forth into fruit; for things terrene and consisting of gross parts cannot pass, by reason of the straitness of the passages. Or may saltness be reckoned a sort of bitterness? For so Homer says:
Plato also says that both these tastes have an abstersive and colliquative faculty; but the salt does it less, nor is it rough. And the bitter seems to differ from the salt in abundance of heat, since the salt has also a drying quality.
What is the Reason that, if a Man frequently pass along Dewy Trees, those Limbs that touch the Wood are seized with a Leprosy?
Whether (as Laitus said) that by the tenuity of the dew the moisture of the skin is fretted away? Or, as smut and mildew fall upon moistened seeds, so, when the green and tender parts on the superficies are fretted and dissolved by the dew, is a certain noxious taint carried and imparted to the most bloodless parts of the body, as the legs and feet, which there eats and frets the superficies? For that by Nature there is a corrosive faculty in dew sufficiently appears, in that it makes fat people lean; and gross women gather it, either with wool or on their clothes, to take down their flesh.
Why in Winter do Ships sail slower in Rivers, but do not so in the Sea?
Whether, because the river-air, which is at all times heavy and slow, being in winter more condensed by the cold, does more resist sailing? Or is it long of the water rather than the air? For the piercing cold makes the water heavy and thick, as one may perceive in a waterclock; for the water passes more slowly in winter than in summer. Theophrastus talks of a well about Pangaeum in Thrace, how that a vessel filled with the water of it weighs twice as much in winter as it does in summer. Besides, hence it is apparent that the grossness of the water makes ships sail slower, because in winter river-vessels carry greater burthens. For the water, being made more dense and heavy, makes the more renitency; but the heat hinders the sea from being condensed or frozen.
Why, since all other Liquors upon moving and stirring about grow cold, does the Sea by being tossed in Waves grow hot?
Whether that motion expels and dissipates the heat of other liquors as a thing adscititious, and the winds do rather excite and increase the innate heat of the sea? Its transparentness is an argument of heat; and so is its not being frozen, though it is terrene and heavy.
Why in Winter is the Sea least salt and bitter to the Taste? For they say that Dionysius the Hydragogue reported this.
Is it that the bitterness of the sea is not devoid of all sweetness, as receiving so many rivers into it; but, since the sun exhales the sweet and potable water thereof, arising to the top by reason of its levity, and since this is done in summer more than in winter, when it affects the sea more weakly by reason of the debility of its heat, that so in winter a great deal of sweetness is left, which tempers and mitigates its excessive poisonous bitterness? And the same thing befalls potable waters; for in summer they are worse, the sun wasting the lightest and sweetest part of them. And a fresh sweetness returns in winter, of which the sea must needs participate, since it moves, and is carried with the rivers into the sea.
Why do Men pour Sea-water upon Wine, and say the Fishermen had an Oracle given them, whereby they were bid to dip Bacchus into the Sea? And why do they that live far from the Sea cast in some Zacynthian Earth toasted?
Whether that heat is good against cold? Or that it quenches heat, by diluting the wine and destroying its strength? Or that the aqueous and aerial part of wine (which is therefore prone to mutation) is stayed by the throwing in of terrene parts, whose nature it is to constipate and condense? Moreover, salts with the sea-water, attenuating and colliquating whatever is foreign and superfluous, suffer no fetidness or putrefaction to breed. Besides, the gross and terrene parts, being entangled with the heavy and sinking together, make a sediment or lees, and so make the wine fine.
Why are they Sicker that Sail on the Sea than they that Sail in fresh Rivers, even in Calm Weather?
Of all the senses, smelling causes nauseousness the most, and of all the passions of the mind, fear. For men tremble and shake and bewray themselves upon apprehension of great danger. They that sail in a river are troubled with neither of these. And the smell of sweet and potable water is familiar to all, and the voyage is without danger. On the sea an unusual smell is troublesome; and men are afraid, not knowing what the issue may be. Therefore tranquillity abroad avails not, while an estuating and disturbed mind disorders the body.
Why does pouring Oil on the Sea make it Clear and Calm?
Is it for that the winds, slipping the smooth oil, have no force, nor cause any waves? This may be probably said in respect of things external; but they say that divers take oil in their mouths, and when they spout it out they have light at the bottom, and it makes the water transparent; so that the slipping of the winds will not hold good here for an argument. Therefore it is to be considered, whether the sea, which is terrene and uneven, is not compacted and made smooth by the dense oil; and so the sea, being compact in itself, leaves passes, and a pellucidity penetrable by the sight. Or whether that the air, which is naturally mixed with the sea, is lucid, but by being troubled grows unequal and shady; and so by the oil’s density, smoothing its inequality, the sea recovers its evenness and pellucidity.
Why do Fishermen’s Nets rot more in Winter than in Summer, since other things rot more in Summer?
Is not that the cause which Theophrastus assigns, — that heat (to wit) shuns the cold, and is constrained by it on every side? Hence the waters are hottest in the bottom of the sea. And so it is on land; for springs are hotter in winter, and then lakes and rivers send up most vapors, because the heat is compelled to the bottom by the prevailing cold. Or it may be, nets do not rot at that time more than at another; but being frozen and dried in the cold, since they are therefore the more easily broken by the waves, they are liable to something like putrefaction and rottenness. And they suffer most in the cold (as strained cords are aptest to break in such a season), because then there be most frequent storms at sea. Therefore fishermen guard their nets with certain tinctures, for fear they should break. Otherwise a net, neither tinged nor daubed with any thing, might more easily deceive the fish; since line is of an air color, and is not easily discerned in the sea.
Why do the Dorians pray for bad making of their hay?
Is it because hay rained upon is never well made? For the grass is cut down green and not dry, wherefore it putrefies when wet with rain water. But when before harvest it rains upon corn, this is a help to it against the hot south winds; which otherwise would not let the grain fill in the ear, but by their heat would hinder and destroy all coalition, unless by watering the earth there came a moisture to cool and moisten the ear.
Why is a fat and deep Soil fruitful of Wheat, and a lean Soil of Barley?
Is it because a stronger grain needs more nourishment, and a weaker a light and thin one? Now barley is weaker and laxer than wheat, therefore it affords but little nourishment. And, as a farther testimony to this reason, wheat, that is ripe in three months, grows in dryer ground; because it is juiceless, and stands in need of less nourishment, and therefore is more easily brought to perfection.
Why do Men say, Sow wheat in Clay and Barley in Dust?
Is the reason (as we said) because wheat takes up more nourishment; and barley cannot bear so much, but is choked with it? Or does wheat, because it is hard and ligneous, thrive better when it is softened and loosened in a moist soil; and barley at the first in a dry soil, because of its rarity? Or is the one temperament congruous and harmless to wheat, because it is hot; and the other to barley, because it is cold? Or are men afraid to sow wheat in a dry soil, because of the ants, which presently lie in wait for it; but they cannot so easily deal with barley nor carry it away, because it is a larger grain?
Why do Men use the Hair of Horses rather than of Mares for Fishing-Lines?
Is it that the males are stronger in those parts, as well as in others, than the females? Or is it that the females spoil the hair of their tails by their staling?
Why is the Sight of a Cuttle-fish a Sign of a great Storm?
Is it because all fishes of the soft kind cannot endure cold, by reason of their nakedness and tenderness? For they are covered neither with shell, skin, or scale, though within they have hard and bony parts. Hence the Greeks call them soft fish. Therefore they easily perceive a storm coming, since they are so soon affected by the cold. When the polypus gets to shore and embraces the rocks, it is a sign the wind is rising; but the cuttle-fish jumps up, to shun the cold and the trouble of the bottom of the sea; for, of all soft fishes, she is the tenderest and soonest hurt.
Why does the Polypus change Color?
Whether, as Theophrastus writes, because it is an animal by nature timorous; and therefore, being disturbed, it changes color with its spirit, as some men do, of whom it is said, an ill man ever changes color? But though this may serve as a reason for changing its color, it will not for the imitation of colors. For the polypus does so change its color, that it is of the color of every stone it comes nigh. Hence that of Pindar, Mind the color of the marine beast, and so converse cunningly in all cities; and that of Theognis:
And they say, that such as are excellent at craftiness and juggling have this in their eye, — that they may the better cheat them they have to deal withal, — ever to imitate the polypus. Some think the polypus can use her skin as a garment, and can put it on or off at pleasure. But if fear occasions this change in the polypus, is not something else more properly the cause? Let us consider what Empedocles says, that effluvia proceed from all things whatever. For not only animals, plants, the earth and sea, but stones, and even brass and iron, do continually send out many effluvia. For all things corrupt and smell, because there runneth always something from them, and they wear continually; insomuch that it is thought that by these effluvia come all attractions and insultations, some supposing embraces, others blows, some impulses, others circuitions. But especially about the sea rocks, when they are wet and cool by the waves (as is most likely), constantly some small particles are washed off, which do not incorporate with other bodies, but either pass by the smaller passages, or pass through the larger. Now the flesh of the polypus, as one may judge by the eye, is hollow, full of pores, and capable of effluvia. When therefore she is afraid, as her spirit changes she changes herself, and by straitening and contracting her body, she encloses the neighboring effluvia. And, as a good token of this argument, the polypus cannot imitate the color of every thing he comes near, nor the chameleon of any thing that is white; but each of these creatures is assimilated only to those things to whose effluvia it has pores proportionable.
What is the Reason, that the Tears of wild Boars are sweet, and the Tears of the Hart salt and hurtful?
The reason seems to be the heat and cold of these animals. For the hart is cold, and the boar is very hot and fiery; therefore the one flies from, the other defends himself against, his pursuers. Now when great store of heat comes to the eyes (as Homer says, with horrid bristles, and eyes darting fire), tears are sweet. Some are of Empedocles’s opinion, who thought that tears proceed from the disturbance of the blood, as whey does from the churning of milk; since therefore boar’s blood is harsh and black, and hart’s blood thin and watery, it is consentaneous that the tears, which the one sheds when excited to anger, and the other when dejected with fear, should be of the same nature.
Why do tame Sows farrow often, some at one time and others at another; and the wild but once a Year, and all of them about the same time at the beginning of summer, whence it is said, —
The wild sow farrowing, that night falls no rain?
Is it because of plentiful feeding, as in very truth fulness doth produce wantonness? For abundance of nourishment breeds abundance of seed both in animals and plants. Now wild sows live by their own toil, and that with fear; the tame have always food enough, either by nature or given them. Or may it not be ascribed to their rest and exercise? For the tame do rest and go not far from their keepers; the wild get to the mountains, and run about, by which means they waste the nutriment, and consume it upon the whole body. Therefore either through continual converse, or abundance of seed, or because the females feed in herds with the males, the tame sows call to mind coition and stir up lust, as Empedocles talks of men. But in wild sows, which feed apart, desire is cold and dull for want of love and conversation. Or is it true, what Aristotle says, that Homer called the wild boar χλούνης, because he had but one stone? For most boars spoil their stones (he says) by rubbing them against stumps of trees.
Why are the Paws of Bears the sweetest and pleasantest Food?
Because the flesh of those parts of the body which concoct aliment the best is sweetest; and that concocts best which transpires most by motion and exercise. But the bear uses the fore-feet most in going and running, and in managing of things, as it were with hands.
Why are the Steps of wild Beasts most difficultly Traced in Spring-time?
Whether the dogs, as Empedocles says, “with noses find the steps of all wild beasts,” and draw in those effluvia which the beasts leave in the ground; but the various smells of plants and flowers lying over the footsteps do in spring-time obscure and confound them, and put the dogs to a loss at winding them? Therefore about Etna in Sicily no man keeps any hunting dogs, because abundance of wild marjoram flourishes and grows there the year round, and the perpetual fragrancy of the place destroys the scent of the wild beasts. There is also a tale, how Proserpine, as she was gathering flowers thereabout, was ravished by Pluto; therefore people, revering that place as an asylum, do not catch any creature that feeds thereabout.
Why are the Tracks of Wild Beasts worse Scented about the Full Moon?
Whether for the foresaid cause? For the full moons bring down the dews; and therefore Alcman calls dew the daughter of Jove and Luna in a verse of his,
Fed by the dew, bred by the Moon and Jove.
For dew is a weak and languid rain, and there is but little heat in the moon; which draws water from the earth, as the sun does; but because it cannot raise it on high, it soon lets it fall.
Why does Frost make Hunting difficult?
Whether is it because the wild beasts leave off going far abroad by reason of the cold, and so leave but few signs of themselves? Therefore some say, beasts spare the neighboring places, that they may not be sore put to it by going far abroad in winter, but may always have food ready at hand. Or is it because that for hunting the track alone is not sufficient, but there must be scent also? And things gently dissolved and loosened by heat afford a smell, but too violent cold binds up the scent, and will not let it reach the sense. Therefore they say that unguents and wine smell least in winter and cold weather; for the then concrete air keeps the scent in, and suffers it not to disperse.
What is the Reason that Brutes, when they ail any thing, seek and pursue Remedies, and are often cured by the use of them?
Dogs eat grass, to make them vomit bile. Swine seek craw-fish, because the eating of them cures the headache. The tortoise, when he has eaten a viper, feeds on wild marjoram. They say, when a bear has surfeited himself and his stomach grows nauseous, he licks up ants, and by devouring them is cured. These creatures know such things neither by experience nor by chance.
Whether, as wax draws the bee, and carcasses the vulture afar off by the scent, do craw-fish so draw swine, wild marjoram the tortoise, and ants the bear, by smells and effluvia accommodated to their nature, they being prompted altogether by sense, without any assistance from reason? Or do not the temperaments of the body create appetites in animals, while diseases create these, producing divers acrimonies, sweetnesses, and other unusual and absurd qualities, the humors being altered; as is plain in women with child, who eat stones and earth? Therefore skilful physicians take their prognostic of recovery or death from the appetites of the sick. For Mnesitheus the physician says that, in the beginning of a disease of the lungs, he that craves onions recovers, and he that craves figs dies; because appetites follow the temperament, and the temperament follows diseases. It is therefore probable that beasts, if they fall not into mortal diseases, have such a disposition and temper, that by following their temper they light on their remedies.
Why does Must, if the Vessel stand in the Cold, continue long sweet?
Is it because the changing of the sweet must into wine is concoction, but cold hinders concoction, because this is caused by heat? Or, on the contrary, is the proper taste of the grape sweet, and is it then said to be ripe, when the sweetness is equally diffused all over it; but does cold, not suffering the heat of the grape to exhale, and keeping it in, conserve the sweetness of the grape? And this is the reason that, in a rainy vintage, must ferments but little; for fermentation proceeds from heat, which the cold does check.
Why, of all Wild Beasts, does not the Boar bite the Toil, although both Wolves and Foxes do this?
Is it because his teeth stand so far within his head, that he cannot well come at the thread? For his lips, by reason of their thickness and largeness, meet close before. Or does he rather rely on his paws and mouth, and with those rend the toil, and with this defend himself against the hunters? His chief refuge is rolling and wallowing; therefore, rather than stand gnawing the toil, he rolls often about, and so clears himself, having no occasion for his teeth.
What is the Reason that we admire Hot Waters (i. e.Baths) and not Cold; since it is plain that Cold is as much the cause of one sort as Heat is of the other?
It is not (as some are of opinion) that heat is a quality, and cold only a privation of that quality, and so that an entity is even less a cause than a non-entity. But we do it because Nature has attributed admiration to what is rare, and she puts men upon enquiry how any thing comes to pass that seldom happens. As Euripides saith,
what wonders he brings out by night, and what beauty he shows forth by day! . . . The rainbow and the varied beauty of the clouds by day, and the lights which burst forth by night . . .
Why are Vines which are rank of leaves, but otherwise fruitless, said τϱαγᾶν?
Is it because very fat goats (τϱάγοι) are less able to procreate, nay, scarce able to use coition, by reason of their fatness? Seed is the superfluity of the aliment which is allotted to the body: now, when either an animal or a plant is of a very strong constitution and grows fat, it is a sign that all the nourishment is spent within, and that there is little and base excrement, or none at all.
Why does the Vine irrigated with Wine die, especially the very Wine made from its own Grapes?
Is it as baldness happens to great wine-bibbers, the heat of the wine evaporating the moisture? Or, as Empedocles saith, “the putrefied water in the wood becomes wine beneath the bark,” . . . thus, when the vine is outwardly irrigated with wine, it is as fire to the vine, and destroys the nutritive faculty. Or, because wine is obstructive, it gets into the roots, stops the passages, and so hinders any moisture from coming to the plant to make it grow and thrive. Or, it may seem contrary to Nature that that should return into the vine which came out of it; for whatsover moisture comes from plants can neither nourish nor be again a part of the plant.
Why doth the Palm alone of all trees bend Upward when a weight is laid thereupon?
Is it that the fiery and spiritual power which it hath, being once provoked and (as it were) angered, putteth forth itself so much the more, and mounteth upward? Or is it because the weight, forcing the boughs suddenly, oppresseth and keepeth down the airy substance which they have, and driveth all of it inward; but the same afterwards, having resumed strength again, maketh head afresh, and more eagerly withstandeth the weight? Or, lastly, is it that the softer and more tender branches, not able to sustain the violence at first, so soon as the burden resteth quiet, by little and little lift up themselves, and make a show as if they rose up against it?
What is the Reason that Pit-water is less nutritive than either that which ariseth out of Springs or that which falleth down from Heaven?
Is it because it is more cold, and withal hath less air in it? Or because it containeth much salt from the earth mingled therewith? — now it is well known that salt above all other things causeth leanness. Or because standing still, and not exercised with running and stirring, it getteth a certain malignant quality, which is hurtful to both plants and animals, and is the cause that it is neither well concocted nor able to feed and nourish any thing? Hence it is that all dead waters of pools are unwholesome, for that they cannot digest and despatch those harmful qualities which they borrow of the evil property of the air or of the earth.
Why is the West Wind held commonly to be the Swiftest, according to this Verse of Homer:
Is it not because this wind is wont to blow when the sky is very well cleansed, and the air is exceeding clear and without all clouds? — for the thickness and impurity of the air doth not a little impeach and interrupt the course of the winds. Or is it rather because the sun, striking through a cold wind with his beams, is the cause that it passeth the faster away? — for whatsoever of cold is drawn in by the force of the winds, when the same is overcome by heat, as it were its enemy, we must think, is driven and set forward further and with greater celerity.
Why cannot Bees abide Smoke?
Whether is it because the passages of their vital spirits are exceeding strait, and, if it chance that smoke be gotten into them and there kept in and intercepted, it is enough to stop the poor bees’ breath, — yea, and to strangle them quite? Or is not the acrimony and bitterness (think you) of the smoke in cause? — for bees are delighted with sweet things, and in very truth they have no other nourishment; and therefore no marvel if they detest and abhor smoke, as a thing for the bitterness most adverse and contrary unto them. Therefore honey-masters, when they make a smoke for to drive away bees, are wont to burn bitter herbs, as hemlock, centaury, &c.
Why will Bees sooner Sting those who newly before have committed Whoredom?
Is it not because it is a creature that wonderfully delighteth in purity, cleanliness, and elegancy, and withal hath a marvellous quick sense of smelling? Because therefore such unclean dealings between man and woman are wont to leave behind much filthiness and impurity, the bees both sooner find them out and also conceive the greater hatred against them. Hereupon it is that in Theocritus the shepherd pleasantly sendeth Venus away unto Anchises to be well stung with bees for her adultery:
And Pindar saith: “Thou little creature, who honey-combs dost frame, and with thy sting hast pricked false impure Rhoecus for his lewd villanies.”
Why do Dogs follow after a Stone that is thrown at them and bite it, letting the Man alone who flung it?
Is it because he can comprehend nothing by imagination nor call a thing to mind, which are gifts and virtues proper to man alone; and therefore, seeing he cannot discern the party that offered him injury, he supposeth that to be his enemy which seemeth in his eye to threaten him, and of it he goes about to be revenged? Or is it that he thinks the stone, while it runs along the ground, to be some wild beast, and according to his nature he intendeth to catch it first; but afterwards, when he seeth himself deceived and put besides his reckoning, he setteth upon the man? Or rather, doth he not hate the man and the stone both alike, but pursueth that only which is next unto him?
Why at a certain time of the year do all She-wolves Whelp within the compass of twelve days?
Antipater in his History of Animals affirms, that shewolves exclude forth their young ones about the time that mast trees shed their blossoms, for upon the taste thereof their wombs open; but if there be none of such blooms to be had, then their young die within the body and never come to light. Moreover, he saith, those countries which bring not forth oaks and mast are never troubled nor spoiled with wolves. Some attribute all this to a tale that goes of Latona; who being with child, and finding no abiding place of rest and safety by reason of Juno for the space of twelve days, went to Delos, and, being transmuted by Jupiter into a wolf, obtained at his hands that all wolves for ever after might within that time be delivered of their young.
How cometh it that Water, seeming White aloft, showeth to be Black in the bottom?
Is it because depth is the mother of darkness, so that it doth dim and mar the sunbeams before they can descend so low as it? As for the uppermost superficies of the water, because it is immediately affected by the sun, it must needs receive the white brightness of the light; the which Empedocles verily approveth in these verses:
Or, since the bottom of the sea and of great rivers is often full of mud, doth it by reflection of the sunbeams represent the like color that the said mud hath? Or is it more probable that the water toward the bottom is not pure and sincere, but corrupted with an earthy quality, — as continually carrying with it somewhat of that by which it runneth and wherewith it is stirred, — and the same settling once to the bottom causeth it to be more troubled and less transparent?
end of vol. iii.
[* ]Works and Days, 11.
[* ]Il. XVIII 356.
[† ]Eurip. Orest. 271.
[‡ ]Odyss. V. 306.
[§ ]Soph. Electra, 2.
[∥ ]Il. III. 428.
[* ]Hesiod, Works and Days, 763.
[† ]Odyss. X. 72.
[* ]Il. V. 335. It is evident from what follows that Plutarch interprets μετάλμενος in this passage having leaped to one side. (G.)
[* ]Il. V. 422.
[* ]What follows, to the beginning of Question XIII., is omitted in the old editions of this translation. (G.)
[* ]See Il. III. 68, 88, 255, and 281.
[* ]Il. III. 137.
[† ]Il. IV. 13.
[‡ ]Il. III. 308.
[* ]Il. VII. 69.
[† ]Il. III. 450.
[‡ ]Il. III. 101.
[* ]Il. III. 365.
[* ]Odyss. X. 38.
[† ]From Simonides.
[* ]Pindar, Pyth. I. 25
[* ]Euripides, Frag. 975; Pindar, Olymp. I. 31; Il. XXIII. 503.
[† ]Hesiod, Theog. 16.
[‡ ]These verses are quoted by Tzetzes with three others as belonging to Hesiod’s Heroic Genealogy. If they are genuine, they contain the earliest reference to Hellen and his three sons. See Fragment XXXII. in Göttling’s Hesiod. (G.)
[* ]The fragments of Simonides may be found in Bergk, Poet. Lyr. Gr. pp. 879, 880 (Nos. 29, 30, 31). They are too mutilated to be translated. (G.)
[* ]Odyss. XIX. 208.
[* ]Soph. Oed. Tyr. 4.
[* ]From Mimnermus.
[† ]From the Chrysippus of Euripides, Frag. 837 and 838.
[* ]Odyss. XII. 168.
[* ]Il. VII. 93.
[* ]Eurip. Hippol. 384.
[* ]Il. XI. 547.
[* ]Il. XIII. 284.
[* ]Il. XV. 262; V. 185.
[* ]Odyss. V. 322.
[* ]Theognis, vs. 215.
[* ]The Questions which follow (XXXII-XXXIX) are not found in the Greek, but are restored from the Latin translation, said to have been made in the 16th century from a Greek manuscript now lost. The version here given is based upon that of Holland. (G.)
[* ]Il. XIX. 415.
[* ]Theoc. I. 105.