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THE CONTRADICTIONS OF THE STOICS. - Plutarch, The Morals, vol. 4 
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. 4.
Part of: Plutarch’s Morals, 5 vols.
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THE CONTRADICTIONS OF THE STOICS.
1.I first lay this down for an axiom, that there ought to be seen in men’s lives an agreement with their doctrines. For it is not so necessary that the pleader (as Aeschines has it) and the law speak one and the same thing, as that the life of a philosopher be consonant to his speech. For the speech of a philosopher is a law of his own and voluntarily imposed on himself, unless they esteem philosophy to be a game, or an acuteness in disputing invented for the gaining of applause, and not — what it really is — a thing deserving our greatest study.
2. Since then there are in their discourses many things written by Zeno himself, many by Cleanthes, and most of all by Chrysippus, concerning policy, governing, and being governed, concerning judging and pleading, and yet there is not to be found in any of their lives either leading of armies, making of laws, going to parliament, pleading before the judges, fighting for their country, travelling on embassies, or bestowing of public gifts, but they have all, feeding (if I may so say) on rest as on the lotus, led their whole lives, and those not short but very long ones, in foreign countries, amongst disputations, books, and walkings; it is manifest that they have lived rather according to the writings and sayings of others than their own professions, having spent all their days in that repose which Epicurus and Hieronymus so much commend.
Chrysippus indeed himself, in his Fourth Book of Lives, thinks there is no difference between a scholastic life and a voluptuous one. I will set down here his very words: “They who are of opinion that a scholastic life is from the very beginning most suitable to philosophers seem to me to be in an error, thinking that men ought to follow this for the sake of some recreation or some other thing like to it, and in that manner to spin out the whole course of their life; that is, if it may be explained, to live at ease. For this opinion of theirs is not to be concealed, many of them delivering it clearly, and not a few more obscurely.” Who therefore did more grow old in this scholastic life than Chrysippus, Cleanthes, Diogenes, Zeno, and Antipater, who left their countries not out of any discontent, but that they might quietly enjoy their delight, studying, and disputing at their leisure. To verify which, Aristocreon, the disciple and intimate friend of Chrysippus, having erected his statue of brass upon a pillar, engraved on it these verses:
Such a one then was Chrysippus, an old man, a philosopher, one who praised the regal and civil life, and thought there was no difference between a scholastic and voluptuous one.
3. But those others of them who intermeddle in state affairs act yet more contradictorily to their own doctrines. For they govern, judge, consult, make laws, punish, and honor, as if those were indeed cities in the government of which they concern themselves, those truly counsellors and judges who are at any time allotted to such offices, those generals who are chosen by suffrages, and those laws which were made by Clisthenes, Lycurgus, and Solon, whom they affirm to have been vicious men and fools. Thus even in the management of state affairs are they at war with themselves.
4. Indeed Antipater, in his writings concerning the difference between Cleanthes and Chrysippus, has related that Zeno and Cleanthes would not be made citizens of Athens, lest they might seem to injure their own countries. I shall not much insist upon it, that, if they did well, Chrysippus acted amiss in suffering himself to be enrolled as a member of that city. But this is very contradictory and absurd, that, removing their persons and their lives so far off amongst strangers, they reserved their names for their countries; which is the same thing as if a man, leaving his wife, and cohabiting and bedding with another, and getting children on her, should yet refuse to contract marriage with the second, lest he might seem to wrong the former.
5. Again, Chrysippus, writing in his treatise of Rhetoric, that a wise man will so plead and so act in the management of a commonwealth, as if riches, glory, and health were really good, confesses that his speeches are inextricable and impolitic, and his doctrines unsuitable for the uses and actions of human life.
6. It is moreover a doctrine of Zeno’s, that temples are not to be built to the Gods; for that a temple is neither a thing of much value nor holy; since no work of carpenters and handicrafts-men can be of much value. And yet they who praise these things as well and wisely said are initiated in the sacred mysteries, go up to the Citadel (where Minerva’s temple stands), adore the shrines, and adorn with garlands the sacraries, being the works of carpenters and mechanical persons. Again, they think that the Epicureans, who sacrifice to the Gods and yet deny them to meddle with the government of the world, do thereby refute themselves; whereas they themselves are more contrary to themselves, sacrificing on altars and in temples, which they affirm ought not to stand nor to have been built.
7. Moreover, Zeno admits (as Plato does) several virtues with various distinctions — to wit, prudence, fortitude, temperance and justice — as being indeed inseparable, but yet divers and different from one another. But again, defining every one of them, he says that fortitude is prudence in executing, justice prudence in distributing, as being one and the same virtue, but seeming to differ in its relation to various affairs when it comes to action. Nor does Zeno alone seem to contradict himself in these matters; but Chrysippus also, who blames Ariston for saying that the other virtues are different habits of one and the same virtue, and yet defends Zeno, who in this manner defines every one of the virtues. And Cleanthes, having in his Commentaries concerning Nature said, that vigor is the striking of fire, which, if it is sufficient in the soul to perform the duties presented to it, is called force and strength; subjoins these very words: “Now this force and strength, when it is in things apparent and to be persisted in, is continence; when in things to be endured, it is fortitude; when about worthiness, it is justice; and when about choosing or refusing, it is temperance.”
8. Against him, who said,
Give not thy judgment till both sides are heard,*
Zeno on the contrary made use of such an argument as this: “If he who spake first has plainly proved his cause, the second is not to be heard, for the question is at an end; and if he has not proved it, it is the same case as if being cited he did not appear, or appearing did nothing but wrangle; so that, whether he has proved or not proved his cause, the second is not to be heard.” And yet he who made this dilemma has written against Plato’s Commonweal, dissolved sophisms, and exhorted his scholars to learn logic, as enabling them to do the same. Now Plato has either proved or not proved those things which he writ in his Commonweal; but in neither case was it necessary to write against him, but wholly superfluous and vain. The same may be said concerning sophisms.
9. Chrysippus is of opinion, that young students should first learn logic, secondly, ethics, and after these, physics, and likewise in this to meddle last of all with the disputes concerning the Gods. Now these things having been often said by him, it will suffice to set down what is found in his Fourth Book of Lives, being thus word for word: “First then, it seems to me, according as it has been rightly said by the ancients, that there are three kinds of philosophical speculations, logical, ethical, and physical, and that of these, the logical ought to be placed first, the ethical second, and the physical third, and that of the physical, the discourse concerning the Gods ought to be the last; wherefore also the traditions concerning this have been styled Τελεταί, or the Endings.” But that very discourse concerning the Gods, which he says ought to be placed the last, he usually places first and sets before every moral question. For he is seen not to say any thing either concerning the ends, or concerning justice, or concerning good and evil, or concerning marriage and the education of children, or concerning the law and the commonwealth; but, as those who propose decrees to states set before them the words To Good Fortune, so he also premises something of Jupiter, Fate, Providence, and of the world’s being one and finite and maintained by one power. None of which any one can be persuaded to believe, who has not penetrated deeply into the discourses of natural philosophy. Hear what he says of this in his Third Book of the Gods: “For there is not to be found any other beginning or any other generation of Justice, but what is from Jupiter and common Nature. From thence must every such thing have its beginning, if we will say any thing concerning good and evil.” And again, in his Natural Positions he says: “For one cannot otherwise or more properly come to the discourse of good and evil, to the virtues, or to felicity, than from common Nature and the administration of the world.” And going farther on, he adds: “For to these we must annex the discourse concerning good and evil, there being no other better beginning or relation thereof, and the speculation of Nature being learned for nothing else, but to understand the difference between good and evil.” According to Chrysippus, therefore, the natural science is both before and after the moral; or rather, it is an inversion of order altogether absurd, if this must be put after those things none of which can be comprehended without this; and his contradicting himself is manifest, when he asserts the discourse of Nature to be the beginning of that concerning good and evil, and yet commands it to be delivered, not before, but after it.
Now, if any one shall say that Chrysippus in his book concerning the Use of Speech has written, that he who applies himself to logic first needs not absolutely to abstain from the rest, but should take as much of them as shall fall in his way, he will indeed say the truth, but will withal confirm the fault. For he oppugns himself, one while commanding that the science concerning God should be taken last and for a conclusion, as being therefore also called Τελετή, and again, another while saying that this is to be learned together with the very first. For order is at an end, if all things must be used at all times. But this is more, that having made the science concerning the Gods the beginning of that concerning good and evil, he bids not those who apply themselves to the ethics to begin with that; but learning these, to take of that also as it shall come in their way, and then to go from these to that, without which, he says, there is no beginning or entrance upon these.
10. As for disputing on both sides, he says, that he does not universally reject it, but exhorts us to use it with caution, as is done in pleadings, not with a design really to disprove, but to dissolve their probability. “For to those,” says he, “who endeavor a suspension of assent concerning all things, it is convenient to do this, and it co-operates to what they desire; but as for those who would work and establish in us a certain science according to which we shall professedly live, they ought, on the contrary, to state the first principles, and to direct their novices who are entered from the beginning to the end; and where there is occasion to make mention of contrary discourses, to dissolve their probability, as is done in pleadings.” For this he hath said in express words. Now that it is absurd for philosophers to think that they ought to set down the contrary opinion, not with all its reasons, but like pleaders, disabling it, as if they contended not for truth but victory, we have elsewhere spoken against him. But that he himself has, not here and there in his disputations, but frequently, confirmed the discourses which are contrary to his own opinions, — and that stoutly, and with so much earnestness and contention that it was not for every one to understand what he liked, — the Stoics themselves affirm, who admire the man’s acuteness, and think that Carneades said nothing of his own, but that catching hold of those arguments which Chrysippus alleged for the contrary opinion, he assaulted with them his positions, and often cried out,
Wretch, thy own strength will thee undo,*
as if Chrysippus had given great advantages against himself to those who would disturb and calumniate his doctrines.
But of those things which he has written against custom they are so proud and boasting, that they fear not to affirm, that all the sayings of all the Academics together, if they were collected into one body, are not comparable to what Chrysippus has writ in disparagement of the senses. Which is an evident sign of the ignorance or self-love of the speakers; but this indeed is true, that being afterwards desirous to defend custom and the senses, he was inferior to himself, and the latter treatise was much weaker than the former. So that he contradicts himself; for having always directed the proposing of an adversary’s opinions not with approbation, but with a demonstration of their falsity, he has showed himself more acute in opposing than defending his own doctrines; and having admonished others to take heed of contrary arguments, as withdrawing comprehension, he has been more sedulous in framing such proofs as take away comprehension, than such as confirm it. And yet he plainly shows that he himself feared this, writing thus in his Fourth Book of Lives: “Repugnant arguments and probabilities on the contrary side are not rashly to be proposed, but with caution, lest the hearers distracted by them should let go their conceptions, not being able sufficiently to apprehend the solutions, but so weakly that their comprehensions may easily be shaken. For even those who have, according to custom, preconceived both sensible objects and other things depending on the senses quickly forego them, being distracted by Megarian interrogatories and by others more numerous and forcible.” I would willingly therefore ask the Stoics, whether they think these Megarian interrogatories to be more forcible than those which Chrysippus has written in six books against custom; or rather this should be asked of Chrysippus himself. For observe what he has written about the Megarian reason, in his book concerning the Use of Speech, thus: “Some such things fell out in the discourse of Stilpo and Menedemus; for, whereas they were renowned for wisdom, their disputing has turned to their reproach, their arguments being part clumsy, and the rest violently sophistical.” And yet, good sir, you fear lest those arguments which you deride and term the disgrace of their proposers, as having a manifest faultiness, should divert some from comprehension. And did not you yourself, writing so many books against custom, in which you have added whatever you could invent, ambitiously striving to exceed Arcesilaus, expect that you should perplex some of your readers? For neither does he use slender arguments against custom; but as if he were pleading, he with some passion in himself stirs up the affections of others, telling his opponent that he talks foolishly and labors in vain. And that he may leave no room to deny his speaking of contradictions, he has in his Natural Positions written thus: “It may be lawful for those who comprehend a thing to argue on the contrary side, applying to it that defence which the matter itself affords; and sometimes, when they comprehend neither, to discourse what is alleged for either.” And having said in his book concerning the Use of Speech, that we ought no more to use the force of reason than of arms for such things as are not fitting, he subjoins this: “For they are to be employed for the finding out of truths and for the alliance of them, and not for the contrary, though many men do it.” By “many” perhaps he means those who withhold their assent. But these philosophers, comprehending neither, argue on both sides, believing that, if any thing is comprehensible, thus only or chiefly does truth afford a comprehension of itself. But you, who accuse them, and do yourself write contrary to those things which you comprehend concerning custom, and exhort others with assurance to do the same, confess that you wantonly use the faculty of disputing, out of vain ambition, even on unprofitable and hurtful things.
11. They say, that a good deed is the command, and sin the prohibition of the law; and therefore that the law forbids the wicked many things, but commands them nothing, because they cannot do a good deed. But who is ignorant that he who cannot do a good deed cannot also sin? Therefore they make the law to contradict itself, commanding men those things which they cannot perform, and forbidding them those things from which they cannot abstain. For a man who cannot be temperate cannot but act intemperately; and he who cannot be wise cannot but act foolishly. And they themselves affirm, that those who forbid say one thing, forbid another, and command another. For he who says “Thou shalt not steal” at the same time that he says these words, “Thou shalt not steal,” forbids also to steal, and commands not to steal. The law therefore forbids the wicked nothing, unless it also commands them something. And they say, that the physician bids his disciple to cut and cauterize, omitting to add these words, “seasonably and moderately;” and the musician commands his scholar to play on the harp and sing, omitting “tunably” and “keeping time.” Wherefore also they punish those who do these things unskilfully and faultily; for that they were commanded to do them well, and they have done them ill. If therefore a wise man commands his servant to say or do something, and punishes him for doing it unseasonably or not as he ought, is it not manifest that he commanded him to do a good action and not an indifferent one? But if wise men command wicked ones indifferent things, what hinders but the commands of the law may be also such? Moreover, the impulse (called ὁϱμή) is according to him, the reason of a man commanding him to do something, as he has written in his book of the law. Is not therefore also the aversion (called ’αφοϱμή) a prohibiting reason, and a disinclination a disinclination agreeable to reason? Caution therefore is also reason prohibiting a wise man; for to be cautious is proper only to the wise, and not to the wicked. If then the reason of a wise man is one thing and the law another, wise men have caution contrary to the law; but if the law is nothing else but the reason of a wise man, the law is found to forbid wise men the doing of those things of which they are cautious.
12. Chrysippus says, that nothing is profitable to the wicked, that the wicked have neither use nor need of any thing. Having said this in his First Book of Good Deeds, he says again, that both commodiousness and grace pertain to mean or indifferent things, none of which, according to them, is profitable. In the same place he affirms, that there is nothing proper, nothing convenient for a vicious man, in these words: “On the same principle we declare that there is nothing foreign or strange to the good man, and nothing proper or rightfully belonging to the bad man, since the one is good and the other bad.” Why then does he break our heads, writing particularly in every one of his books, as well natural as moral, that as soon as we are born, we are appropriated to ourselves, our parts, and our offspring? And why in his First Book of Justice does he say that the very brutes, proportionably to the necessity of their young, are appropriated to them, except fishes, whose young are nourished by themselves? For neither have they sense who have nothing sensible, nor they appropriation who have nothing proper; for appropriation seems to be the sense and perception of what is proper.
13. And this opinion is consequent to their principal ones. It is moreover manifest that Chrysippus, though he has also written many things to the contrary, lays this for a position, that there is not any vice greater or any sin more grievous than another, nor any virtue more excellent or any good deed better than another; so that he says in his Third Book of Nature: “As it well beseems Jupiter to glory in himself and his life, to magnify himself, and (if we may so say) to bear up his head, have an high conceit of himself, and speak big, for that he leads a life worthy of lofty speech; so the same things do not misbeseem all good men, since they are in nothing exceeded by Jupiter.” And yet himself, in his Third Book of Justice, says, that they who make pleasure the end destroy justice, but they who say it is only a good do not destroy it. These are his very words: “For perhaps, if we leave this to pleasure, that it is a good but not the end, and that honesty is one of those things which are eligible for themselves, we may preserve justice, making the honest and the just a greater good than pleasure.” But if that only is good which is honest, he who affirms pleasure to be a good is in an error, but he errs less than he who makes it also the end; for the one destroys justice, the other preserves it; and by the one human society is overthrown, but the other leaves a place to goodness and humanity. Now I let pass his saying farther in his book concerning Jupiter, that the virtues increase and go on, lest I may seem to catch at words; though Chrysippus is indeed in this kind very sharp upon Plato and others. But when he forbids the praising of every thing that is done according to virtue, he shows that there is some difference between good deeds. Now he says thus in his book concerning Jupiter: “For since each virtue has its own proper works, there are some of these that are more to be praised than others; for he would show himself to be very frigid, that should undertake to praise and extol any man for holding out the finger stoutly, for abstaining chastely from an old woman ready to drop into the grave, and patiently hearing it said that three are not exactly four.” What he says in his Third Book of the Gods is not unlike to this: “For I moreover think that the praises of such things as to abstain from an old woman who has one foot in the grave, and to endure the bite of a fly, though proceeding from virtue, would be very impertinent.” What other reprehender of his doctrines does this man then expect? For if he who praises such things is frigid, he who asserts every one of them to be a great — nay, a very great good deed — is much more frigid. For if to bear the bite of a fly is equal to the being valiant, and to abstain from an old trot now at the pit’s brink is equal to the being temperate, there is, I think, no difference whether a virtuous man is prized for these or for those. Moreover, in his Second Book of Friendship, teaching that friendships are not for every fault to be dissolved, he has these very expressions: “For it is meet that some faults should be wholly passed by, others lightly reprehended, others more severely, and others deemed worthy a total dissolution of friendship.” And which is more, he says in the same book, that we will converse with some more and some less, so that some shall be more and some less friends; and this diversity extending very far, some are worthy of such an amity, others of a greater; and these will deserve to be so far trusted, those not so far, and the like. For what else has he done in these places, but shown the great diversity there is between these things? Moreover, in his book concerning Honesty, to demonstrate that only to be good which is honest, he uses these words: “What is good is eligible; what is eligible is acceptable; what is acceptable is laudable; and what is laudable is honest.” And again: “What is good is joyous; what is joyous is venerable; what is venerable is honest.” But these speeches are repugnant to himself; for either all good is commendable, and then the abstaining chastely from an old woman is also commendable; or all good is neither venerable nor joyous, and his reason falls to the ground. For how can it possibly be frigid in others to praise any for such things, and not ridiculous for him to rejoice and glory in them?
14. Such indeed he frequently is; but in his disputations against others he takes not the least care of speaking things contrary and dissonant to himself. For in his books of Exhorting, reprehending Plato, who said, that to him who has neither learned nor knows how to live it is profitable not to live, he speaks in this manner: “For this speech is both repugnant to itself, and not at all persuasive. For first insinuating that it is best for us not to live, and in a sort counselling us to die, he will excite us rather to any thing else than to be philosophers; for neither can he who does not live philosophize, nor he who shall live long wickedly and ignorantly become wise.” And going on, he says that it is convenient for the wicked also to continue in life. And afterwards thus, word for word: “First, as virtue, barely taken, has nothing towards our living, so neither has vice any thing to oblige us to depart.” Nor is it necessary to turn over other books, that we may show Chrysippus’s contradictoriness to himself; but in these same, he sometimes with commendation brings forth this saying of Antisthenes, that either understanding or a halter is to be provided, as also that of Tyrtaeus,
Come nigh the bounds of virtue or of death.
Now what else will this show, but that to wicked men and fools not to live is more profitable than to live? And sometimes correcting Theognis, he says, that the poet should not have written,
From poverty to fly; —
but rather thus,
What therefore else does he seem to do, but to set down himself those things and doctrines which, when others write them, he expunges; condemning, indeed, Plato for showing that not to live is better than to live viciously and ignorantly; and yet counselling Theognis to let a man break his neck or throw himself into the sea, that he may avoid vice? For having praised Antisthenes for directing fools to an halter, he again blames him, saying that vice has nothing that should oblige us to depart out of life.
15. Moreover, in his books against the same Plato, concerning Justice, he immediately at the very beginning leaps into a discourse touching the Gods, and says, that Cephalus did not rightly avert men from injustice by the fear of the Gods, and that his doctrine is easily misrepresented, and that it affords to the contrary many arguments and probabilities impugning the discourse concerning divine punishments, as nothing differing from the tales of Acco and Alphito (or Raw-Head and Bloody-Bones), with which women are wont to frighten little children from their unlucky pranks. Having thus traduced Plato, he in other places again praises him, and often alleges this saying of Euripides:
And likewise, in his First Book of Justice citing these verses of Hesiod,
he says, the Gods do these things, that the wicked being punished, others admonished by these examples may less dare to attempt the doing of such things.
Again, in his book of Justice, subjoining, that it is possible for those who make pleasure a good but not the end to preserve also justice, he said in express terms: “For perhaps if we leave this to pleasure, that it is a good but not the end, and that honesty is one of those things which are eligible for themselves, we may preserve justice, making the honest and the just a greater good than pleasure.” So much he says in this place concerning pleasure. But in his book against Plato, accusing him for seeming to make health a good, he says, that not only justice, but also magnanimity, temperance, and all the other virtues will be taken away, if we make pleasure, health, or any thing else which is not honest, to be a good. What therefore is to be said for Plato, we have elsewhere written against him. But here his contradicting himself is manifest, when he says in one place, that if a man supposes that with honesty pleasure also is a good, justice is preserved, and in another, accuses those who make any thing besides honesty to be a good of taking away all the virtues. But that he may not leave any means of making an apology for his contradictions, writing against Aristotle concerning justice, he affirms him not to have spoken rightly when he said, that pleasure being made the end, justice is taken away, and together with justice, every one also of the other virtues. For justice (he says) will indeed be taken away; but there is nothing to hinder the other virtues from remaining and being, though not eligible for themselves, yet good and virtues. Then he reckons up every one of them by name. But it will be better to set down his own words. “For pleasure,” says he, “appearing according to this discourse to be made the end, yet all this seems not to me to be contained in it. Wherefore we must say, that neither any of the virtues is eligible nor any of the vices to be avoided for itself, but that all these things are to be referred to the proposed scope. Yet nothing, according to their opinion, will hinder but that fortitude, prudence, continence, and patience may be good, and their contraries to be avoided.” Has there ever then been any man more peevish in his disputes than he, who has blamed two of the principal philosophers, the one for taking away all virtue, by not making that only to be good which is honest, and the other for not thinking all the virtues except justice to be preserved, though pleasure is made the end? For it is a wonderful licentiousness that, discoursing of the same matters, he should when accusing Plato take away again those very things which himself sets down when reprehending Aristotle. Moreover, in his demonstrations concerning justice, he says expressly, that every good deed is both a lawful action and a just operation; but that every thing which is done according to continence, patience, prudence, or fortitude is a good deed, and therefore also a just operation. Why then does he not also leave justice to them to whom he leaves prudence, fortitude, and continence; since whatever they do well according to the said virtue, they do also justly?
16. Moreover, Plato having said, that injustice, as being the corruption and sedition of the soul, loses not its power even in those who have it within them, but sets the wicked man against himself, and molests and disturbs him; Chrysippus, blaming this, affirms that it is absurdly said, “A man injures himself;” for that injustice is to another, and not to one’s self. But forgetting this, he again says, in his demonstrations concerning justice, that the unjust man is injured by himself and injures himself when he injures another, becoming to himself the cause of transgressing, and undeservedly hurting himself. In his books indeed against Plato, contending that we cannot speak of injustice against one’s self, but against another, he has these words: “For men cannot be unjust by themselves; injustice requires several on opposite sides, speaking contrary one unto another. But no such thing extends to one alone, except inasmuch as he is affected towards his neighbor.” But in his demonstrations he has such discourses as these, concerning the unjust man’s being injurious also to himself: “The law forbids the being any way the author of transgression, and to act unjustly will be transgression. He therefore who is to himself the author of acting unjustly transgresses against himself. Now he that transgresses against any one also injures him; therefore he who is injurious to any one whomsoever is injurious also to himself.” Again: “Sin is a hurt, and every one who sins sins against himself; every one therefore who sins hurts himself undeservedly, and if so, is also unjust to himself.” And farther thus: “He who is hurt by another hurts himself, and that undeservedly. Now that is to be unjust. Every one therefore that is injured, by whomsoever it is, is unjust also to himself.”
17. He says, that the doctrine concerning good and evil which himself introduces and approves is most agreeable to life, and does most of all reach the inbred prenotions; for this he has affirmed in his Third Book of Exhortations. But in his First Book he says, that this doctrine takes a man off from all other things, as being nothing to us, nor co-operating any thing towards felicity. See now, how consonant he is to himself, when he asserts a doctrine which takes us off from life, health, indolence, and integrity of the senses, and says that those things we beg of the Gods are nothing to us, though most agreeable to life and to the common presumptions. But that there may be no denial of his speaking contradictions, in his Third Book of Justice he has said thus: “Wherefore also, from the excellence of their greatness and beauty, we seem to speak things like to fictions, and not according to man or human nature.” Is it then possible that any one can more plainly confess his speaking things contrary to himself than this man does, who affirms those things which (he says) for their excellency seem to be fictions and to be spoken above man and human nature, to be agreeable to life, and most of all to reach the inbred prenotions?
18. In every one of his natural and ethical books, he asserts vice to be the very essence of unhappiness; writing and contending that to live viciously is the same thing as to live unhappily. But in his Third Book of Nature, having said that it is profitable for a fool to live rather than to die, though he is never to become wise, he subjoins: “For such is the nature of good things among men, that evil things are in some sort preferred before indifferent ones.” I let pass therefore, that having elsewhere said that nothing is profitable to fools, he here says that to live foolishly is profitable to them. Now those things being by them called indifferent which are neither bad nor good, when he says that bad things precede them, he says nothing else but that evil things precede those that are not evil, and that to be unhappy is more profitable than not to be unhappy; and if so, he esteems not to be unhappy to be more unprofitable — and if more unprofitable, more hurtful — than to be unhappy. Desiring therefore to mitigate this absurdity, he adds concerning evils: “But it is not these evils that are preferred, but reason; with which it is more convenient to live, though we shall be fools.” First therefore he says that vice and things participating of vice are evil, and that nothing else is so. Now vice is something reasonable, or rather depraved reason. For those therefore who are fools to live with reason, is nothing else but to live with vice. Thence to live being fools is to live being unhappy. In what then is this preferred to indifferent things? For he surely will not say that with regard to happiness unhappiness is to be preferred. But neither, say they, does Chrysippus altogether think that the remaining in life is to be reckoned amongst good things, or the going out of it amongst bad; but both of them amongst indifferent ones, according to Nature. Wherefore also it sometimes becomes meet for the happy to make themselves away, and again for the unhappy to continue in life. Now what greater repugnance can there be than this in the choice and avoiding of things, if it is convenient for those who are in the highest degree happy to forsake those good things that are present, for the want of some one indifferent thing? And yet they esteem none of the indifferent things either desirable or to be avoided; but only good desirable, and only evil to be avoided. So that it comes to pass, according to them, that the reasoning about actions regards neither things desirable nor things refusable; but that aiming at other things, which they neither shun nor choose, they make life and death dependent on these.
19. Chrysippus confesses that good things are totally different from bad; and it must of necessity be so, if these make them with whom they are present miserable to the very utmost point, and those render their possessors in the highest degree happy. Now he says, that good and evil things are sensible, writing thus in his First Book of the End: “That good and evil things are perceptible by sense, we are by these reasons forced to say; for not only the passions, with their species, as sorrow, fear, and such others, are sensible; but we may also have a sense of theft, adultery, and the like, and generally, of folly, cowardice, and other vices not a few; and again, not only of joy, beneficence, and many other dependences on good deeds, but also of prudence, fortitude, and the other virtues.” Let us pass by the other absurdities of these things; but that they are repugnant to those things which are delivered by him concerning “the wise man that knows nothing of his being so,” who does not confess? For good, when present, being sensible and having a great difference from evil, is it not most absurd, that he who is of bad become good should be ignorant of it, and not perceive virtue when present, but think that vice is still within him? For either none who has all virtues can be ignorant and doubt of his having them; or the difference of virtue from vice, of happiness from misery, and of a most honest life from a most shameful one, is little and altogether difficult to be discerned, if he who has exchanged the one for the other does not perceive it.
20. He has written one volume of lives divided into four books; in the fourth of these he says, that a wise man meddles with no business but his own, and is employed about his own affairs. His words are these: “For I am of opinion, that a prudent man shuns affairs, meddles little, and at the same time minds his own occasions; civil persons being both minders of their own affairs and meddlers with little else.” He has said almost the same in his book of Things eligible for Themselves, in these very words: “For indeed a quiet life seems to have in it a certain security and freedom from danger, though there are not very many who can comprehend it.” It is manifest that he does not much dissent from Epicurus, who takes away Providence that he may leave God in repose. But the same Chrysippus in his First Book of Lives says, that a wise man willingly takes upon him a kingdom, making his profit by it; and if he cannot reign himself, will dwell with a king, and go to the wars with such a king as was Hydanthyrsus the Scythian or Leucon the Pontic. But I will here also set down his very discourse, that we may see whether, as from the treble and the base strings there arises a symphony in music, so the life of a man who chooses quietness and meddling with little accords with him who, upon any necessity, rides along with the Scythians and manages the affairs of the tyrants in the Bosphorus: “For that a wise man will both go to the wars and live with potentates, we will again consider this hereafter; some indeed upon the like arguments not so much as suspecting this, and we for semblable reasons admitting it.” And a little after: “Not only with those who have proceeded well, and are become proficients in discipline and good manners, as with Leucon and Hydanthyrsus.”
Some there are who blame Callisthenes for sailing to Alexander in hopes to obtain the rebuilding of Olynthus, as Aristotle had procured that of Stagira; and commend Ephorus, Xenocrates, and Menedemus, who rejected Alexander’s invitation. But Chrysippus thrusts his wise man headforwards for the sake of gain, as far as Panticapaeum and the desert of the Scythians. And that he does this for the sake of profit and gain, he has showed before, supposing three ways of gaining most suitable for a wise man, — the first by a kingdom, the second by his friends, and the third, besides these, by teaching of philosophy. And yet he frequently even tires us with his praises of this saying:
What need have men of more than these two things?
And in his books of Nature he says, that a wise man, if he has lost the greatest wealth imaginable, seems to have lost but a single groat. But having there thus elevated and puffed him up, he again here throws him down to mercenariness and sophistry; nay, to asking pay and even to receiving it beforehand, sometimes at the very entrance of his scholar, and otherwhiles after some time past. The latter, he says indeed, is the more civil, but to receive beforehand the more sure; delay being subject to sustain injuries. Now he says thus: “All who are well advised do not require their salary in the same manner, but differently; a multitude of them, as opportunity offers, not promising to make their scholars good men, and that within a year, but to do this, as far as in them lies, within a time agreed on.” And again going on, he says: “But he will know his opportunity, whether he ought to receive his recompense presently at the very entrance (as many have done), or to give them time, this manner being more liable to injuries, but withal, seeming the more courteous.” And how is the wise man a contemner of wealth, who upon a contract delivers virtue for money, and if he has not delivered it, yet requires his reward, as having done what is in him? Or how is he above being endamaged, when he is so cautious lest he be wronged of his recompense? For no man is wronged who is not endamaged. Therefore, though he has elsewhere asserted that a wise man cannot be injured, he here says, that this manner of dealing is liable to injury.
21. In his book of a Commonweal he says, that his citizens will neither act nor prepare any thing for the sake of pleasure, and praises Euripides for having uttered this sentence:
And yet a little after this, going on, he commends Diogenes, who forced his nature to pass from himself in public, and said to those that were present: I wish I could in the same manner drive hunger also out of my belly. What reason then is there to praise in the same books him who rejects all pleasure, and withal, him who for the sake of pleasure does such things, and proceeds to such a degree of filthiness? Moreover, having in his book of Nature written, that Nature has produced many creatures for the sake of beauty, delighting in pulchritude and pleasing herself with variety, and having added a most absurd expression, that the peacock was made for the sake of his tail and for the beauty of it; he has, in his treatise of a Commonweal, sharply reprehended those who bred peacocks and nightingales, as if he were making laws contrary to the lawgiver of the world, and deriding Nature for pleasing herself in the beauty of animals to which a wise man would not give a place in his city. For how can it but be absurd to blame those who nourish these creatures, if he commends Providence which created them? In his Fifth Book of Nature, having said, that bugs profitably awaken us out of our sleep, that mice make us cautious not to lay up every thing negligently, and that it is probable that Nature, rejoicing in variety, takes delight in the production of fair creatures, he adds these words: “The evidence of this is chiefly shown in the peacock’s tail; for here she manifests that this animal was made for the sake of his tail, and not the contrary; so, the male being made, the female follows.” In his book of a Commonweal, having said that we are ready to paint even dunghills, a little after he adds, that some beautify their cornfields with vines climbing up trees, and myrtles set in rows, and keep peacocks, doves, and partridges, that they may hear them cackle and coo, and nightingales. Now I would gladly ask him, what he thinks of bees and honey? For it was of consequence, that he who said bugs were created profitably should also say that bees were created unprofitably. But if he allows these a place in his city, why does he drive away his citizens from things that are pleasing and delight the ear? To be brief, — as he would be very absurd who should blame the guests for eating sweetmeats and other delicacies and drinking of wine, and at the same time commend him who invited them and prepared such things for them; so he that praises Providence, which has afforded fishes, birds, honey, and wine, and at the same time finds fault with those who reject not these things, nor content themselves with
The fruits of Ceres and thirst-quenching springs,
which are present and sufficient to nourish us, seems to make no scruple of speaking things contradictory to himself.
22. Moreover, having said in his book of Exhortations, that the having carnal commerce with our mothers, daughters, or sisters, the eating forbidden food, and the going from a woman’s bed or a dead carcass to the temple, have been without reason blamed, he affirms, that we ought for these things to have a regard to the brute beasts, and from what is done by them conclude that none of these is absurd or contrary to Nature; for that the comparisons of other animals are fitly made for this purpose, to show that neither their coupling, bringing-forth, nor dying in the temples pollutes the Divinity. Yet he again in his Fifth Book of Nature says, that Hesiod rightly forbids the making water into rivers and fountains, and that we should rather abstain from doing this against any altar, or statue of the Gods; and that it is not to be admitted for an argument, that dogs, asses, and young children do it, who have no discretion or consideration of such things. It is therefore absurd to say in one place, that the savage example of irrational animals is fit to be considered, and in another, that it is unreasonable to allege it.
23. To give a solution to the inclinations, when a man seems to be necessitated by exterior causes, some philosophers place in the principal faculty of the soul a certain adventitious motion, which is chiefly manifested in things differing not at all from one another. For when, with two things altogether alike and of equal importance, there is a necessity to choose the one, there being no cause inclining to either, for that neither of them differs from the other, this adventitious power of the soul, seizing on its inclination, determines the doubt. Chrysippus, discoursing against these men, as offering violence to Nature by devising an effect without a cause, in many places alleges the die and the balance, and several other things, which cannot fall or incline either one way or the other without some cause or difference, either wholly within them or coming to them from without; for that what is causeless (he says) is wholly insubsistent, as also what is fortuitous; and in those motions devised by some and called adventitious, there occur certain obscure causes, which, being concealed from us, move our inclinations to one side or other. These are some of those things which are most evidently known to have been frequently said by him; but what he has said contrary to this, not lying so exposed to every one’s sight, I will set down in his own words. For in his book of Judging, having supposed two running for a wager to have exactly finished their race together, he examines what is fit for the judge in this case to do. “Whether,” says he, “may the judge give the palm to which of them he will, because they both happen to be so familiar to him, that he would in some sort seem to bestow on them somewhat of his own? Or rather, since the palm is common to both, may it be, as if lots had been cast, given to either, according to the inclination he chances to have? I say the inclination he chances to have, as when two groats, every way else alike, being presented to us, we incline to one of them and take it.” And in his Sixth Book of Duties, having said that there are some things not worthy of much study or attention, he thinks we ought, as if we had cast lots, to commit the choice of those things to the casual inclination of the mind: “As if,” says he, “of those who try the same two groats in a certain time, some should say this and others that to be good, and there being no more cause for the taking of one than the other, we should leave off making any farther enquiry into their value, and take that which chances to come first to hand; thus casting the lot (as it were) according to some hidden principle, and being in danger of choosing the worse of them.” For in these passages, the casting of lots and the casual inclining of the mind, which is without any cause, introduce the choice of indifferent things.
24. In his Third Book of Dialectics, having said that Plato, Aristotle, and those who came after them, even to Polemon and Straton, but especially Socrates, diligently studied dialectics, and having cried out that one would even choose to err with such and so great men as these, he brings in these words: “For if they had spoken of these things cursorily, one might perhaps have cavilled at this place; but having treated of dialectic skill as one of the greatest and most necessary faculties, it is not probable they should have been so much mistaken, having been such in all the parts of philosophy as we esteem them.” Why then (might some one say to him) do you never cease to oppose and argue against such and so great men, as if you thought them to err in the principal and greatest matters? For it is not probable that they writ seriously of dialectics, and only transitorily and in sport of the beginning, end, Gods, and justice, in which you affirm their discourse to be blind and contradictory to itself, and to have a thousand other faults.
25. In one place he says, that the vice called Ἐπιχαιϱεϰαϰία or the rejoicing at other men’s harms, has no being; since no good man ever rejoiced at another’s evils. But in his Second Book of Good, having declared envy to be a sorrow at other men’s good, — to wit, in such as desire the depression of their neighbors that themselves may excel, — he joins to it this rejoicing at other men’s harms, saying thus: “To this is continguous the rejoicing at other men’s harms, in such as for like causes desire to have their neighbors low; but in those that are turned according to other natural motions, is engendered mercy.” For he manifestly admits the joy at other men’s harms to be subsistent, as well as envy and mercy; though in other places he affirms it to have no subsistence; as he does also the hatred of wickedness, and the desire of dishonest gain.
26. Having in many places said, that those who have a long time been happy are nothing more so, but equally and in like manner with those who have but a moment been partakers of felicity, he has again in many other places affirmed, that it is not fit to stretch out so much as a finger for the obtaining momentary prudence, which flies away like a flash of lightning. It will be sufficient to set down what is to this purpose written by him in his Sixth Book of Moral Questions. For having said, that neither does every good thing equally cause joy, nor every good deed the like glorying, he subjoins these words: “For if a man should have wisdom only for a moment of time or the last minute of life, he ought not so much as to stretch out his finger for such a short-lived prudence.” And yet men are neither more happy for being longer so, nor is eternal felicity more eligible than that which lasts but a moment. If he had indeed held prudence to be a good, producing felicity, as Epicurus thought, one should have blamed only the absurdity and the paradoxicalness of this opinion; but since prudence of itself is not another thing differing from felicity, but felicity itself, how is it not a contradiction to say, that momentary happiness is equally desirable with eternal, and yet that momentary happiness is nothing worth?
27. Chrysippus also says, that the virtues follow one another, and that not only he who has one has all, but also that he who acts according to any one of them acts according to them all; and he affirms, that there is not any man perfect who is not possessed of all the virtues, nor any action perfect to the doing of which all the virtues do not concur. But yet in his Sixth Book of Moral Questions he says, that a good man does not always act valiantly, nor a vicious man always fearfully; for certain objects being presented to the fancies, the one must persist in his judgments, and the other depart from them; and he says that it is not probable a wicked man should be always indulging his lust. If then to act valiantly is the same thing as to use fortitude; and to act timorously as to yield to fear, they cannot but speak contradictions who say, that he who is possessed of either virtue or vice acts at the same time according to all the virtues or all the vices, and yet that a valiant man does not always act valiantly nor a vicious man timorously.
28. He defines Rhetoric to be an art concerning the ornament and the ordering of a discourse that is pronounced. And farther in his First Book he has written thus: “And I am not only of opinion that a regard ought to be had to a liberal and simple adorning of words, but also that care is to be taken for proper delivery, as regards the right elevation of the voice and the compositions of the countenance and hands.” Yet he, who is in this place so curious and exact, again in the same book, speaking of the collision of the vowels, says: “We ought not only to let these things pass, minding somewhat that is better, but also to neglect certain obscurities and defects, nay, solecisms also, of which others, and those not a few, would be ashamed.” Certainly, in one place to allow those who would speak eloquently so carefully to dispose their speech as even to observe a decorum in the very composition of their mouth and hands, and in another place to forbid the taking care of defects and obscurities, and the being ashamed even of committing solecisms, is the property of a man who little cares what he says, but rashly utters whatever comes first into his mouth.
29. Moreover, in his Natural Positions having warned us not to trouble ourselves but to be at quiet about such things as require experience and investigation, he says: “Let us not think after the same manner with Plato, that liquid nourishment is conveyed to the lungs, and dry to the stomach; nor let us embrace other errors like to these.” Now it is my opinion, that to reprehend others, and then not to keep one’s self from falling into those things which one has reprehended, is the greatest of contradictions and shamefullest of errors. But he says, that the connections made by ten axioms amount to above a million in number, having neither searched diligently into it by himself nor attained to the truth by men experienced in it. Yet Plato had to testify for him the most renowned of the physicians, Hippocrates, Philistion, and Dioxippus the disciple of Hippocrates; and of the poets, Euripides, Alcaeus, Eupolis, and Eratosthenes, who all say that the drink passes through the lungs. But all the arithmeticians refel Chrysippus, amongst whom also is Hipparchus, demonstrating that the error of his computation is very great; since the affirmative makes of the ten axioms one hundred and three thousand forty and nine connections, and the negative three hundred and ten thousand nine hundred fifty and two.
30. Some of the ancients have said, that the same befell Zeno which befalls him who has sour wine which he can sell neither for vinegar nor wine; for his “things preferred,” as he called them, cannot be disposed of, either as good or as indifferent. But Chrysippus has made the matter yet far more intricate; for he sometimes says, that they are mad who make no account of riches, health, freedom from pain, and integrity of the body, nor take any care to attain them; and having cited that sentence of Hesiod,
Work hard, O God-born Perses,*
he cries out, that it would be a madness to advise the contrary and say,
Work not, O God-born Perses.
And in his book of Lives he affirms, that a wise man will for the sake of gain live with kings, and teach for money, receiving from some of his scholars his reward beforehand, and making contract with others of them; and in his Seventh Book of Duties he says, that he will not scruple to turn his heels thrice over his head, if for so doing he may have a talent. In his First Book of Good Things, he yields and grants to those that desire it to call these preferred things good and their contraries evil, in these very words: “Any one who will, according to these permutations, may call one thing good and another evil, having a regard to the things themselves, and not wandering elsewhere, not failing in the understanding of the things signified, and in the rest accommodating himself to custom in the denomination.” Having thus in this place set his preferred things so near to good, and mixed them therewith, he again says, that none of these things belongs at all to us, but that reason withdraws and averts us from all such things; for he has written thus in his First Book of Exhortations. And in his Third Book of Nature he says, that some esteem those happy who reign and are rich, which is all one as if those should be reputed happy who make water in golden chamber-pots and wear golden fringes; but to a good man the losing of his whole estate is but as the losing of one groat, and the being sick no more than if he had stumbled. Wherefore he has not filled virtue only, but Providence also, with these contradictions. For virtue would seem to the utmost degree sordid and foolish, if it should busy itself about such matters, and enjoin a wise man for their sake to sail to Bosphorus or tumble with his heels over his head. And Jupiter would be very ridiculous to be styled Ctesius, Epicarpius, and Charitodotes, because forsooth he gives the wicked golden chamber-pots and golden fringes, and the good such things as are hardly worth a groat, when through Jupiter’s providence they become rich. And yet much more ridiculous is Apollo, if he sits to give oracles concerning golden fringes and chamber-pots and the recovering of a stumble.
31. But they make this repugnancy yet more evident by their demonstration. For they say, that what may be used both well and ill, the same is neither good nor bad; but fools make an ill use of riches, health, and strength of body; therefore none of these is good. If therefore God gives not virtue to men, — but honesty is eligible of itself, — and yet bestows on them riches and health without virtue, he confers them on those who will use them not well but ill, that is hurtfully, shamefully, and perniciously. Now, if the Gods can bestow virtue and do not, they are not good; but if they cannot make men good, neither can they help them, for except virtue nothing is good and helpful. Now to judge those who are otherwise made good according to virtue and strength . . . is nothing to the purpose, for good men also judge the Gods according to virtue and strength; so that they do no more aid men than they are aided by them.
Now Chrysippus neither professes himself nor any one of his disciples and teachers to be virtuous. What then do they think of others, but those things which they say, — that they are all mad, fools, impious, transgressors of the laws, and in the utmost degree of misery and unhappiness? And yet they say that our affairs, though we act thus miserably, are governed by the providence of the Gods. Now if the Gods, changing their minds, should desire to hurt, afflict, overthrow, and quite crush us, they could not put us in a worse condition than we already are; as Chrysippus demonstrates that life can admit no greater degree either of misery or of unhappiness; so that if it had a voice, it would pronounce these words of Hercules:
Now who can imagine any assertions more repugnant to one another than that of Chrysippus concerning the Gods and that concerning men; when he says, that the Gods do in the best manner possible provide for men, and yet men are in the worst condition imaginable?
32. Some of the Pythagoreans blame him for having in his book of Justice written concerning cocks, that they are usefully procreated, because they awaken us from our sleep, hunt out scorpions, and animate us to battle, breeding in us a certain emulation to show courage; and yet that we must eat them, lest the number of chickens should be greater than were expedient. But he so derides those who blame him for this, that he has written thus concerning Jupiter the Savior and Creator, the father of justice, equity, and peace, in his Third Book of the Gods: “As cities overcharged with too great a number of citizens send forth colonies into other places and make war upon some, so does God give the beginnings of corruption.” And he brings in Euripides for a witness, with others who say, that the Trojan war was caused by the Gods, to exhaust the multitude of men.
But letting pass their other absurdities (for our design is not to enquire what they have said amiss, but only what they have said dissonantly to themselves), consider how he always attributes to the Gods specious and kind appellations, but at the same time cruel, barbarous, and Galatian deeds. For those so great slaughters and carnages, as were the productions of the Trojan war and again of the Persian and Peloponnesian, were no way like to colonies unless these men know of some cities built in hell and under the earth. But Chrysippus makes God like to Deïotarus, the Galatian king, who having many sons, and being desirous to leave his kingdom and house to one of them, killed all the rest; as he that cuts and prunes away all the other branches from the vine, that one which he leaves remaining may grow strong and great. And yet the vine-dresser does this, the sprigs being slender and weak; and we, to favor a bitch, take from her many of her new born puppies, whilst they are yet blind. But Jupiter, having not only suffered and seen men to grow up, but having also both created and increased them, plagues them afterwards, devising occasions of their destruction and corruption; whereas he should rather not have given them any causes and beginnings of generation.
33. However this is but a small matter; but that which follows is greater. For there is no war amongst men without vice. But sometimes the love of pleasure, sometimes the love of money, and sometimes the love of glory and rule is the cause of it. If therefore God is the author of wars, he must be also of sins, provoking and perverting men. And yet himself says in his treatise of Judgment and his Second Book of the Gods, that it is no way rational to say that the Divinity is in any respect the cause of dishonesty. For as the law can in no way be the cause of transgression, so neither can the Gods of being impious; therefore neither is it rational that they should be the causes of any thing that is filthy. What therefore can be more filthy to men than the mutual killing of one another? — to which Chrysippus says that God gives beginnings. But some one perhaps will say, that he elsewhere praises Euripides for saying,
If Gods do aught dishonest, they’re no Gods;
’Tis a most easy thing t’ accuse the Gods;*
as if we were now doing any thing else than setting down such words and sentences of his as are repugnant to one another.
34. Yet that very thing which is now praised may be objected, not once or twice or thrice, but even ten thousand times, against Chrysippus:
’Tis a most easy thing t’ accuse the Gods.
For first having in his book of Nature compared the eternity of motion to a drink made of divers species confusedly mixed together, turning and jumbling the things that are made, some this way, others that way, he goes on thus: “Now the administration of the universe proceeding in this manner, it is of necessity we should be in the condition we are, whether contrary to our own nature we are sick or maimed, or whether we are grammarians or musicians.” And again a little after, “According to this reason we shall say the like of our virtue and vice, and generally of arts or the ignorance of arts, as I have said.” And a little after, taking away all ambiguity, he says: “For no particular thing, not even the least, can be otherwise than according to common Nature and its reason.” But that common Nature and the common reason of Nature are with him Fate and Providence and Jupiter, is not unknown even to the antipodes. For these things are everywhere inculcated by the Stoics; and Chrysippus affirms that Homer said very well,
Jove’s purposes were ripening,*
having respect to Fate and the Nature of the universe, according to which every thing is governed. How then do these agree, both that God is no way the cause of any dishonest thing, and again, that not even the least thing imaginable can be otherwise done than according to common Nature and its reason? For amongst all things that are done, there must of necessity be also dishonest things attributed to the Gods. And though Epicurus indeed turns himself every way, and studies artifices, devising how to deliver and set loose our voluntary free will from this eternal motion, that he may not leave vice irreprehensible; yet Chrysippus gives vice a most absolute liberty, as being done not only of necessity or according to Fate, but also according to the reason of God and best Nature. And these things are yet farther seen in what he says afterwards, being thus word for word: “For common Nature extending to all things, it will be of necessity that every thing, howsoever done in the whole or in any one soever of its parts, must be done according to this common Nature and its reason, proceeding on regularly without any impediment. For there is nothing without that can hinder the administration, nor is there any of the parts that can be moved or habituated otherwise than according to common Nature.” What then are these habits and motions of the parts? It is manifest, that the habits are vices and diseases, covetousness, luxury, ambition, cowardice, injustice; and that the motions are adulteries, thefts, treasons, murders, parricides. Of these Chrysippus thinks, that no one, either little or great, is contrary to the reason of Jupiter, or to his law, justice, and providence; so neither is the transgressing of the law done against the law, nor the acting unjustly against justice, nor the committing of sin against Providence.
35. And yet he says, that God punishes vice, and does many things for the chastising of the wicked. And in his Second Book of the Gods he says, that many adversities sometimes befall the good, not as they do the wicked, for punishment, but according to another dispensation, as it is in cities. And again in these words: “First we are to understand of evils in like manner as has been said before: then, that these things are distributed according to the reason of Jupiter, whether for punishment, or according to some other dispensation, having in some sort respect to the universe.” This therefore is indeed severe, that wickedness is both done and punished according to the reason of Jupiter. But he aggravates this contradiction in his Second Book of Nature, writing thus: “Vice, in reference to grievous accidents, has a certain reason of its own. For it is also in some sort according to the reason of Nature, and, as I may so say, is not wholly useless in respect of the universe. For otherwise also there would not be any good.” Thus does he reprehend those that dispute indifferently on both sides, who, out of a desire to say something wholly singular and more exquisite concerning every thing, affirms, that men do not unprofitably cut purses, calumniate, and play madmen, and that it is not unprofitable there should be unprofitable, hurtful, and unhappy persons. What manner of God then is Jupiter, — I mean Chrysippus’s Jupiter, — who punishes an act done neither willingly nor unprofitably? For vice is indeed, according to Chrysippus’s discourse, wholly reprehensible; but Jupiter is to be blamed, whether he has made vice which is an unprofitable thing, or, having made it not unprofitable, punishes it.
36. Again, in his First Book of Justice, having spoken of the Gods as resisting the injustices of some, he says: “But wholly to take away vice is neither possible nor expedient.” Whether it were not better that law-breaking, injustice, and folly should be taken away, is not the design of this present discourse to enquire. But he himself, as much as in him lies, by his philosophy taking away vice, which it is not expedient to take away, does something repugnant both to reason and God. Besides this, saying that God resists some injustices, he again declares plainly the impiety of sins.
37. Having often written that there is nothing reprehensible, nothing to be complained of in the world, all things being finished according to a most excellent nature, he again elsewhere leaves certain negligences to be reprehended, and those not concerning small or base matters. For having in his Third Book of Substance related that some such things befall honest and good men, he says: “Is it because some things are not regarded, as in great families some bran — yea, and some grains of corn also — are scattered, the generality being nevertheless well ordered; or is it that there are evil Genii set over those things in which there are real and faulty negligence?” And he also affirms that there is much necessity intermixed. I let pass, how inconsiderate it is to compare such accidents befalling honest and good men, as were the condemnation of Socrates, the burning of Pythagoras, whilst he was yet living, by the Cyloneans, the putting to death — and that with torture — of Zeno by the tyrant Demylus, and of Antiphon by Dionysius, with the letting of bran fall. But that there should be evil Genii placed by Providence over such charges, — how can it but be a reproach to God, as it would be to a king, to commit the administration of his provinces to evil and rash governors and captains, and suffer the best of his subjects to be despised and ill-treated by them? And furthermore, if there is much necessity mixed amongst affairs, then God has not power over them all, nor are they all administered according to his reason.
38. He contends much against Epicurus and those that take away providence from the conceptions we have of the Gods, whom we esteem beneficial and gracious to men. And these things being frequently said by them, there is no necessity of setting down the words. Yet all do not conceive the Gods to be good and favorable to us. For see what the Jews and Syrians think of the Gods; see also with how much superstition the poets are filled. But there is not any one, in a manner to speak of, that imagines God to be corruptible or to have been born. And to omit all others, Antipater the Tarsian, in his book of the Gods writes thus, word for word: “At the beginning of our discourse we will briefly repeat the opinion we have concerning God. We understand therefore God to be an animal, blessed and incorruptible, and beneficial to men.” And then expounding every one of these terms he says: “And indeed all men esteem the Gods to be incorruptible.” Chrysippus therefore is, according to Antipater, not one of “all men;” for he thinks none of the Gods, except Fire, to be incorruptible, but that they all equally were born and will die. These things are, in a manner, everywhere said by him. But I will set down his words out of his Third Book of the Gods: “It is otherwise with the Gods. For some of them are born and corruptible, but others not born. And to demonstrate these things from the beginning will be more fit for a treatise of Nature. For the Sun, the Moon, and other Gods who are of a like nature, were begotten; but Jupiter is eternal.” And again going on: “But the like will be said concerning dying and being born, both concerning the other Gods and Jupiter. For they indeed are corruptible, but his parts incorruptible.” With these I compare a few of the things said by Antipater: “Whosoever they are that take away from the Gods beneficence, they attack in some part our preconception of them; and according to the same reason they also do this, who think they participate of generation and corruption.” If then he who esteems the Gods corruptible is equally absurd with him who thinks them not to be provident and gracious to men, Chrysippus is no less in an error than Epicurus. For one of them deprives the Gods of beneficence, the other of incorruptibility.
39. And moreover, Chrysippus, in his Third Book of the Gods treating of the other Gods being nourished, says thus: “The other Gods indeed use nourishment, being equally sustained by it; but Jupiter and the World are sustained after another manner from those who are consumed and were engendered by fire.” Here indeed he declares, that all the other Gods are nourished except the World and Jupiter; but in his First Book of Providence he says. “Jupiter increases till he has consumed all things into himself. For since death is the separation of the soul from the body, and the soul of the World is not indeed separated, but increases continually till it has consumed all matter into itself, it is not to be said that the World dies.” Who can therefore appear to speak things more contradictory to himself than he who says that the same God is now nourished and again not nourished? Nor is there any need of gathering this by argument; for himself has plainly written in the same place: “But the World alone is said to be self-sufficient, because it alone has in itself all things it stands in need of, and is nourished and augmented of itself, the other parts being mutually changed into one another.” He is then repugnant to himself, not only by declaring in one place that all the Gods are nourished except the World and Jupiter, and saying in another, that the World also is nourished; but much more, when he affirms that the World increases by nourishing itself. Now the contrary had been much more probable, to wit, that the World alone does not increase, having its own destruction for its food; but that addition and increase are incident to the other Gods, who are nourished from without, and the World is rather consumed into them, if so it is that the World feeds on itself, and they always receive something and are nourished from that.
40. Secondly, the conception of the Gods contains in it felicity, blessedness, and self-perfection. Wherefore also Euripides is commended for saying:
But Chrysippus in the places I have alleged says, that the World only is self-sufficient, because this alone has in itself all things it needs. What then follows from this, that the World alone is self-sufficient? That neither the Sun, Moon, nor any other of the Gods is self-sufficient, and not being self-sufficient, they cannot be happy or blessed.
41. He says, that the infant in the womb is nourished by Nature, like a plant; but when it is brought forth, being cooled and hardened by the air, it changes its spirit and becomes an animal; whence the soul is not unfitly named Psyche because of this refrigeration (ψύχειν). But again he esteems the soul the more subtile and fine spirit of Nature, therein contradicting himself; for how can a subtile thing be made of a gross one, and be rarefied by refrigeration and condensation? And what is more, how does he, declaring an animal to be made by refrigeration, think the sun to be animated, which is of fire and made of an exhalation changed into fire? For he says in his Third Book of Nature: “Now the change of fire is such, that it is turned by the air into water; and the earth subsiding from this, the air exhales; the air being subtilized, the ether is produced round about it; and the stars are, with the sun, kindled from the sea.” Now what is more contrary to kindling than refrigeration, or to rarefaction than condensation? For the one makes water and earth of fire and air, and the other changes that which is moist and earthy into fire and air. But yet in one place he makes kindling, in another cooling, to be the beginning of auimation. And he moreover says, that when the inflammation is throughout, it lives and is an animal, but being again extinct and thickened, it is turned into water and earth and corporeity. Now in his First Book of Providence he says: “For the world, indeed, being wholly set on fire, is presently also the soul and guide of itself; but when it is changed into moisture, and has changed the soul remaining within it in some sort into a body and soul, so as to consist of these two, it is then after another manner.” Here, forsooth, he plainly says, that the inanimate parts of the world are by inflammation turned into an animated thing, and that again by extinction the soul is relaxed and moistened, being changed into corporeity. He seems therefore very absurd, one while by refrigeration making animals of senseless things, and again, by the same changing the greatest part of the world’s soul into senseless and inanimate things.
But besides this, his discourse concerning the generation of the soul has a demonstration contrary to his own opinion; for he says, that the soul is generated when the infant is already brought forth, the spirit being changed by refrigeration, as by hardening. Now for the soul’s being engendered, and that after the birth, he chiefly uses this demonstration, that the children are for the most part in manners and inclinations like to their parents. Now the repugnancy of these things is evident. For it is not possible that the soul, which is not generated till after the birth, should have its inclination before the birth; or it will fall out that the soul is like before it is generated; that is, it will be in likeness, and yet not be, because it is not yet generated. But if any one says that, the likeness being bred in the tempers of the bodies, the souls are changed when they are generated, he destroys the argument of the soul’s being generated. For thus it may come to pass, that the soul, though not generated, may at its entrance into the body be changed by the mixture of likeness.
42. He says sometimes, that the air is light and mounts upwards, and sometimes, that it is neither heavy nor light. For in his Second Book of Motion he says, that the fire, being without gravity, ascends upwards, and the air like to that; the water approaching more to the earth, and the air to the fire. But in his Physical Arts he inclines to the other opinion, that the air of itself has neither gravity nor levity.
43. He says that the air is by nature dark, and uses this as an argument of its being also the first cold; for that its darkness is opposite to the brightness, and its coldness to the heat of fire. Moving this in his First Book of Natural Questions, he again in his treatise of Habits says, that habits are nothing else but airs; for bodies are contained by these, and the cause that every one of the bodies contained in any habit is such as it is, is the containing air, which they call in iron hardness, in stone solidness, in silver whiteness. These words have in them much absurdity and contradiction. For if the air remains such as it is of its own nature, how comes black, in that which is not white, to be made whiteness; and soft, in that which is not hard, to be made hardness; and rare, in that which is not thick, to be made thickness? But if, being mixed with these, it is altered and made like to them, how is it a habit or power or cause of these things by which it is subdued? For such a change, by which it loses its own qualities, is the property of a patient, not of an agent, and not of a thing containing, but of a thing languishing. Yet they everywhere affirm, that matter, being of its own nature idle and motionless, is subjected to qualities, and that the qualities are spirits, which, being also aërial tensions, give a form and figure to every part of matter to which they adhere. These things they cannot rationally say, supposing the air to be such as they affirm it. For if it is a habit and tension, it will assimilate every body to itself, so that it shall be black and soft. But if by the mixture with these things it receives forms contrary to those it has, it will be in some sort the matter, and not the cause or power of matter.
44. It is often said by Chrysippus, that there is without the world an infinite vacuum, and that this infinity has neither beginning, middle, nor end. And by this the Stoics chiefly refute that spontaneous motion of the atoms downward, which is taught by Epicurus; there not being in infinity any difference according to which one thing is thought to be above, another below. But in his Fourth Book of Things Possible, having supposed a certain middle place and middle region, he says that the world is situated there. The words are these: “Wherefore, if it is to be said of the world that it is corruptible, this seems to want proof; yet nevertheless it rather appears to me to be so. However, its occupation of the place wherein it stands cooperates very much towards its seeming to be incorruptible, because it is in the midst; since if it were thought to be anywhere else, corruption would absolutely take hold of it.” And again, a little after: “For so also in a manner has essence happened eternally to possess the middle place, being immediately from the beginning such as it is; so that both by another manner and through this chance it admits not any corruption, and is therefore eternal.” These words have one apparent and visible contradiction, to wit, his admitting a certain middle place and middle region in infinity. They have also a second, more obscure indeed, but withal more absurd than this. For thinking that the world would not have remained incorruptible if its situation had happened to have been in any other part of the vacuum, he manifestly appears to have feared lest, the parts of essence moving towards the middle, there should be a dissolution and corruption of the world. Now this he would not have feared, had he not thought that bodies do by nature tend from every place towards the middle, not of essence, but of the region containing essence; of which also he has frequently spoken, as of a thing impossible and contrary to Nature; for that (as he says) there is not in the vacuum any difference by which bodies are drawn rather this way than that way, but the construction of the world is the cause of motion, bodies inclining and being carried from every side to the centre and middle of it. It is sufficient to this purpose, to set down the text out of his Second Book of Motion; for having discoursed, that the world indeed is a perfect body, but that the parts of the world are not perfect, because they have in some sort respect to the whole and are not of themselves; and going forward concerning its motion, as having been framed by Nature to be moved by all its parts towards compaction and cohesion, and not towards dissolution and breaking, he says thus: “But the universe thus tending and being moved to the same point, and the parts having the same motion from the nature of the body, it is probable that all bodies have this first motion according to Nature towards the centre of the world, — the world being thus moved as regards itself, and the parts being thus moved as being its parts.” What then ailed you, good sir (might some one say to him), that you have so far forgotten those words, as to affirm that the world, if it had not casually possessed the middle place, would have been dissoluble and corruptible? For if it is by Nature so framed as always to incline towards the middle, and its parts from every side tend to the same, into what place soever of the vacuum it should have been transposed, — thus containing and (as it were) embracing itself, — it would have remained incorruptible and without danger of breaking. For things that are broken and dissipated suffer this by the separation and dissolution of their parts, every one of them hasting to its own place from that which it had contrary to Nature. But you, being of opinion that, if the world should have been seated in any other place of the vacuum, it would have been wholly liable to corruption, and affirming the same, and therefore asserting a middle in that which naturally can have no middle, — to wit, in that which is infinite, — have indeed dismissed these tensions, coherences, and inclinations, as having nothing available to its preservation, and attributed all the cause of its permanency to the possession of place. And, as if you were ambitious to confute yourself, to the things you have said before you join this also: “In whatsoever manner every one of the parts moves, being coherent to the rest, it is agreeable to reason that in the same also the whole should move by itself; yea, though we should, for argument’s sake, imagine and suppose it to be in some vacuity of this world; for as, being kept in on every side, it would move towards the middle, so it would continue in the same motion, though by way of disputation we should admit that there were on a sudden a vacuum round about it.” No part then whatsoever, though encompassed by a vacuum, loses its inclination moving it towards the middle of the world; but the world itself, if chance had not prepared it a place in the middle, would have lost its containing vigor, the parts of its essence being carried some one way, some another.
45. And these things indded contain great contradictions to natural reason; but this is also repugnant to the doctrine concerning God and Providence, that assigning to them the least causes, he takes from them the most principal and greatest. For what is more principal than the permanency of the world, or that its essence, united in its parts, is contained in itself? But this, as Chrysippus says, fell out casually. For if the possession of place is the cause of incorruptibility, and this was the production of chance, it is manifest that the preservation of the universe is a work of chance, and not of Fate and Providence.
46. Now, as for his doctrine of possibles, how can it but be repugnant to his doctrine of Fate? For if that is not possible which either is true or shall be true, as Diodorus has it, but every thing which is capable of being, though it never shall be, is possible, there will be many things possible which will never be according to invincible, inviolable, and all-conquering Fate. And thus either Fate will lose its power; or if that, as Chrysippus thinks, has existence, that which is susceptible of being will often fall out to be impossible. And every thing indeed which is true will be necessary, being comprehended by the principal of all necessities; and every thing that is false will be impossible, having the greatest cause to oppose its ever being true. For how is it possible that he should be susceptible of dying on the land, who is destined to die at sea? And how is it possible for him who is at Megara to come to Athens, if he is prohibited by Fate?
47. But moreover, the things that are boldly asserted by him concerning fantasies or imaginations are very opposite to Fate. For desiring to show that fantasy is not of itself a perfect cause of consent, he says, that the Sages will prejudice us by imprinting false imaginations in our minds, if fantasies do of themselves absolutely cause consent; for wise men often make use of falsity against the wicked, representing a probable imagination, — which is yet not the cause of consent, for then it would be also a cause of false apprehension and error. Any one therefore, transferring these things from the wise man to Fate, may say, that consents are not caused by Fate; for if they were, false consents and opinions and deceptions would also be by Fate, and men would be endamaged by Fate. Thus the reason which exempts the wise man from doing hurt also demonstrates at the same time that Fate is not the cause of all things. For if men neither opine nor are prejudiced by Fate, it is manifest also that they neither act rightly nor are wise nor remain firm in their sentiments nor have utility by Fate, but that there is an end of Fate’s being the cause of all things. Now if any one shall say that Chrysippus makes not Fate the absolute cause of all things, but only a procatarctical (or antecedent) one, he will again show that he is contradictory to himself, since he excessively praises Homer for saying of Jupiter,
as also Euripides for these words,
And himself writes many things agreeable to these. In fine, he says that nothing, be it never so little, either rests or is moved otherwise than according to the reason of Jupiter, which is the same thing with Fate. Moreover, the antecedent cause is weaker than the absolute one, and attains not to its effect when it is subdued by others that rise up against it. But he himself, declaring Fate to be an invincible, unimpeachable, and inflexible cause, calls it Atropos,‡ Adrasteia,§ Necessity, and Pepromene (as putting a limit to all things). Whether then shall we say, that neither consents nor virtues nor vices nor doing well nor doing ill is in our power? Or shall we affirm, that Fate is deficient, that terminating destiny is unable to determine, and that the motions and habits of Jupiter cannot accomplish? For the one of these two consequences will follow from Fate’s being an absolute, the other from its being only antecedent cause. For if it is an absolute cause, it takes away our free will and leaves nothing in our power; and if it is only antecedent, it loses its being unimpeachable and effectual. For not once or ten times, but everywhere, especially in his Physics, he has written, that there are many obstacles and impediments to particular natures and motions, but none to that of the universe. And how can the motion of the universe, extending as it does to particular ones, be undisturbed and unimpeached, if these are stopped and hindered? For neither can the nature of man be free from impediment, if that of the foot or hand is not so; nor can the motion of a ship but be hindered, if there are any obstacles about the sails or the operation of the oars.
Besides all this, if the fantasies are not according to Fate, neither are they causes of consents; but if, because it imprints fantasies leading to consent, the consents are said to be according to Fate, how is it not contrary to itself, imprinting in the greatest matters different imaginations and such as draw the understanding contrary ways? For (they say) those who adhere to one of them, and withhold not their consent, do amiss: if they yield to obscure things, they stumble; if to false, they are deceived; if to such as are not commonly comprehended, they opine. And yet one of these three is of necessity, — either that every fantasy is not the work of Fate, or that every receipt and consent of fantasy is faultless, or that Fate itself is not irreprehensible. For I do not know how it can be blameless, proposing to us such fantasies that not the resisting or going against them, but the following and yielding to them, is blamable. Moreover, both Chrysippus and Antipater, in their disputes against the Academics, take not a little pains to prove that we neither act nor are incited without consent, saying, that they build on fictions and false suppositions who think that, a proper fantasy being presented, we are presently incited, without having either yielded or consented. Again, Chrysippus says, that God imprints in us false imaginations, as does also the wise man; not that they would have us consent or yield to them, but only that we should act and be incited with regard to that which appears; but we, being evil, do through infirmity consent to such fantasies. Now the perplexity and discrepancy of these discourses among themselves are not very difficult to be discerned. For he that would not have men consent but only act according to the fantasies which he presents unto them — whether he be God or a wise man — knows that the fantasies are sufficient for acting, and that consents are superfluous. For if, knowing that the imagination gives us not an instinct to work without consent, he ministers to us false and probable fantasies, he is the voluntary cause of our falling and erring by assenting to incomprehensible things.
[* ]In the Pseudo-Phocylidea, vs. 87 (Bergk).
[* ]Il. VI. 407.
[* ]See Theognis, vs. 175.
[* ]Works and Days, 242.
[* ]Works and Days, 299.
[* ]Eurip. Herc. Fur. 1245.
[* ]From the Bellerophontes of Euripides, Frag. 294; and the Archelaus, Frag. 256.
[* ]Il. I. 5.
[* ]Hercules Furens, 1345.
[* ]Il. XV. 109. The words “or good” are not found in Homer. (G.)
[† ]Eurip. Suppliants, 734.
[‡ ]That is, Unchangeable.
[§ ]That is, Unavoidable.