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SECTION II.: RETROSPECT OF ANCIENT ETHICS. - Sir James Mackintosh, The Miscellaneous Works 
The Miscellaneous Works. Three Volumes, complete in One. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871).
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RETROSPECT OF ANCIENT ETHICS.
Inquiries concerning the nature of Mind, the first principles of Knowledge, the origin and government of the world, appear to have been among the earliest objects which employed the understanding of civilized men. Fragments of such speculation are handed down from the legendary age of Greek philosophy. In the remaining monuments of that more ancient form of civilization which sprung up in Asia, we see clearly that the Braminical philosophers, in times perhaps before the dawn of Western history, had run round that dark and little circle of systems which an unquenchable thirst of knowledge has since urged both the speculators of ancient Greece and those of Christendom to retrace. The wall of adamant which bounds human inquiry in that direction has scarcely ever been discovered by any adventurer, until he has been roused by the shock which drove him back. It is otherwise with the theory of Morals. No controversy seems to have arisen regarding it in Greece till the rise and conflict of the Stoical and Epicurean schools; and the ethical disputes of the modern world originated with the writings of Hobbes about the middle of the seventeenth century. Perhaps the longer abstinence from debate on this subject may have sprung from reverence for Morality. Perhaps also, where the world were unanimous in their practical opinions, little need was felt of exact theory. The teachers of Morals were content with partial or secondary principles,—with the combination of principles not always reconcilable,—even with vague but specious phrases which in any degree explained or seemed to explain the Rules of the Art of Life, appearing, as these last did, at once too evident to need investigation, and too venerable to be approached by controversy.
Perhaps the subtile genius of Greece was in part withheld from indulging itself in ethical controversy by the influence of Socrates, who was much more a teacher of virtue than even a searcher after Truth—
Whom, well inspired, the oracle pronounced Wisest of men.
it was doubtless because he chose that better part that he was thus spoken of by the man whose commendation is glory, and who, from the loftiest eminence of moral genius ever reached by a mortal, was perhaps alone worthy to place a new crown on the brow of the martyr of Virtue.
Aristippus indeed, a wit and a worldling, borrowed nothing from the conversations of Socrates but a few maxims for husbanding the enjoyments of sense. Antisthenes also, a hearer but not a follower, founded a school of parade and exaggeration, which caused his master to disown him by the ingenious rebuke,—“I see your vanity through your threadbare cloak.”* The modest doubts of the most sober of moralists, and his indisposition to fruitless abstractions, were in process of time employed as the foundation of a systematic scepticism;—the most presumptuous, inapplicable, and inconsistent of all the results of human meditation. But though his lessons were thus distorted by the perverse ingenuity of some who heard him, the authority of his practical sense may be traced in the moral writings of those most celebrated philosophers who were directly or indirectly his disciples.
Plato, the most famous of his scholars, the most eloquent of Grecian writers, and the earliest moral philosopher whose writings have come down to us, employed his genius in the composition of dialogues, in which his master performed the principal part. These beautiful conversations would have lost their charm of verisimilitude, of dramatic vivacity, and of picturesque representation of character, if they had been subjected to the constraint of method. They necessarily presuppose much oral instruction. They frequently quote, and doubtless oftener allude to, the opinions of predecessors and contemporaries whose works have perished, and of whose doctrines only some fragments are preserved. In these circumstances, it must be difficult for the most learned and philosophical of his commentators to give a just representation of his doctrines, even if he really framed or adopted a system. The moral part of his works is more accessible.† The vein of thought which runs through them is always visible. The object is to inspire the love of Truth, of Wisdom, of Beauty, especially of Goodness—the highest Beauty, and of that Supreme and Eternal Mind, which contains all Truth and Wisdom, all Beauty and Goodness. By the love or delightful contemplation and pursuit of these transcendent aims for their own sake only, he represented the mind of man as raised from low and perishable objects, and prepared for those high destinies which are appointed for all those who are capable of enjoying them. The application to moral qualities of terms which denote outward beauty, though by him perhaps carried to excess, is an illustrative metaphor, as well warranted by the poverty of language as any other employed to signify the acts or attributes of Mind.* The “beautiful” in his language denoted all that of which the mere contemplation is in itself delightful, without any admixture of organic pleasure, and without being regarded as the means of attaining any farther end. The feeling which belongs to it he called “love;” a word which, as comprehending complacency, benevolence, and affection, and reaching from the neighbourhood of the senses to the most sublime of human thoughts, is foreign to the colder and more exact language of our philosophy; but which, perhaps, then happily served to lure both the lovers of Poetry, and the votaries of Superstition, to the school of Truth and Goodness in the groves of the Academy. He enforced these lessons by an inexhaustible variety of just and beautiful illustrations,—sometimes striking from their familiarity, sometimes subduing by their grandeur; and his works are the storehouse from which moralists have from age to age borrowed the means of rendering moral instruction easier and more delightful. Virtue he represented as the harmony of the whole soul;—as a peace between all its principles and desires, assigning to each as much space as they can occupy, without encroaching on each other;—as a state of perfect health, in which every function was performed with ease, pleasure, and vigour;—as a well-ordered commonwealth, where the obedient passions executed with energy the laws and commands of Reason. The vicious mind presented the odious character, sometimes of discord, of war;—sometimes of disease;—always of passions warring with each other in eternal anarchy. Consistent with himself, and at peace with his fellows, the good man felt in the quiet of his conscience a foretaste of the approbation of God. “Oh, what ardent love would virtue inspire if she could be seen.” “If the heart of a tyrant could be laid bare, we should see how it was cut and torn by its own evil passions and by an avenging conscience.”†
Perhaps in every one of these illustrations, an eye trained in the history of Ethics may discover the germ of the whole or of a part of some subsequent theory. But to examine it thus would not be to look at it with the eye of Plato. His aim was as practical as that of Socrates. He employed every topic, without regard to its place in a system, or even always to its argumentative force, which could attract the small portion of the community then accessible to cultivation; who, it should not be forgotten, had no moral instructor but the Philosopher, unaided, if not thwarted, by the reigning superstition: for Religion had not then, besides her own discoveries, brought down the most awful and the most beautiful forms of Moral Truth to the humblest station in human society.*
Ethics retained her sober spirit in the hands of his great scholar and rival Aristotle, who, though he certainly surpassed all men in acute distinction, in subtile argument, in severe method, in the power of analyzing what is most compounded, and of reducing to simple principles the most various and unlike appearances, yet appears to be still more raised above his fellows by the prodigious faculty of laying aside these extraordinary endowments whenever his present purpose required it;—as in his History of Animals, in his treatises on philosophical criticism, and in his practical writings, political as well as moral. Contrasted as his genius was to that of Plato, not only by its logical and metaphysical attributes, but by the regard to experience and observation of Nature which, in him perhaps alone, accompanied them; (though the two may be considered as the original representatives of the two antagonist tendencies of philosophy—that which would ennoble man, and that which seeks rather to explain nature;) yet opposite as they are in other respects, the master and the scholar combine to guard the Rule of Life against the licentious irruptions of the Sophists.
In Ethics alone their systems differed more in words than in things.† That happiness consisted in virtuous pleasure, chiefly dependent on the state of mind, but not unaffected by outward agents, was the doctrine of both. Both would with Socrates have called happiness “unrepented pleasure.” Neither distinguished the two elements which they represented as constituting the Supreme Good from each other; partly, perhaps, from fear of appearing to separate them. Plato more habitually considered happiness as the natural fruit of Virtue; Aristotle oftener viewed Virtue as the means of attaining happiness. The celebrated doctrine of the Peripatetics, which placed all virtues in a medium between opposite vices, was probably suggested by the Platonic representation of its necessity to keep up harmony between the different parts of our nature. The perfection of a compound machine is attained where all its parts have the fullest scope for action. Where one is so far exerted as to repress others, there is a vice of excess: where any one has less activity than it might exert without disturbing others, there is a vice of defect. The point which all reach without collision with each other, is the mediocrity in which the Peripatetics placed Virtue.
It was not till near a century after the death of Plato that Ethics became the scene of philosophical contest between the adverse schools of Epicurus and Zeno; whose errors afford an instructive example, that in the formation of a theory, partial truth is equivalent to absolute falsehood. As the astronomer who left either the centripetal or the centrifugal force of the planets out of his view, would err as completely as he who excluded both, so the Epicureans and Stoics, who each confined themselves to real but not exclusive principles in Morals, departed as widely from the truth as if they had adopted no part of it. Every partial theory is indeed directly false, inasmuch as it ascribes to one or few causes what is produced by more. As the extreme opinions of one, if not of both, of these schools have been often revived with variations and refinements in modern times, and are still not without influence on ethical systems, it may be allowable to make some observations on this earliest of moral controversies.
“All other virtues,” said Epicurus, “grow from prudence, which teaches that we cannot live pleasurably without living justly and virtuously, nor live justly and virtuously without living pleasurably.”* The illustration of this sentence formed the whole moral discipline of Epicurus. To him we owe the general concurrence of reflecting men in succeeding times, in the important truth that men cannot be happy without a virtuous frame of mind and course of life; a truth of inestimable value, not peculiar to the Epicureans, but placed by their exaggerations in a stronger light;—a truth, it must be added, of less importance as a motive to right conduct than as completing Moral Theory, which, however, it is very far from solely constituting. With that truth the Epicureans blended another position, which indeed is contained in the first words of the above statement; namely, that because Virtue promotes happiness, every act of virtue must be done in order to promote the happiness of the agent. They and their modern followers tacitly assume, that the latter position is the consequence of the former; as if it were an inference from the necessity of food to life, that the fear of death should be substituted for the appetite of hunger as a motive for eating. “Friendship,” says Epicurus, “is to be pursued by the wise man only for its usefulness, but he will begin; as he sows the field in order to reap.”* It is obvious, that if these words be confined to outward benefits, they may be sometimes true, but never can be pertinent; for outward acts sometimes show kindness, but never compose it. If they be applied to kind feeling, they would indeed be pertinent, but they would be evidently and totally false; for it is most certain that no man acquires an affection merely from his belief that it would be agreeable or advantageous to feel it. Kindness cannot indeed be pursued on account of the pleasure which belongs to it; for man can no more know the pleasure till he has felt the affection, than he can form an idea of colour without the sense of sight. The moral character of Epicurus was excellent; no man more enjoyed the pleasure, or better performed the duties of friendship. The letter of his system was no more indulgent to vice than that of any other moralist.† Although, therefore, he has the merit of having more strongly inculcated the connection of Virtue with happiness, perhaps by the faulty excess of treating it as an exclusive principle; yet his doctrine was justly charged with indisposing the mind to those exalted and generous sentiments, without which no pure, elevated, bold, generous, or tender virtues can exist.‡
As Epicurus represented the tendency of Virtue, which is a most important truth in ethical theory, as the sole inducement to virtuous practice; so Zeno, in his disposition towards the opposite extreme, was inclined to consider the moral sentiments, which are the motives of right conduct, as being the sole principles of moral science. The confusion was equally great in a philosophical view, but that of Epicurus was more fatal to interests of higher importance than those of Philosophy. Had the Stoics been content with affirming that Virtue is the source of all that part of our happiness which depends on ourselves, they would have taken a position from which it would have been impossible to drive them; they would have laid down a principle of as great comprehension in practice as their wider pretensions; a simple and incontrovertible truth, beyond which every thing is an object of mere curiosity to man. Our information, however, about the opinions of the more celebrated Stoics is very scanty. None of their own writings are preserved. We know little of them but from Cicero, the translator of Grecian philosophy, and from the Greek compilers of a later age; authorities which would be imperfect in the history of facts, but which are of far less value in the history of opinions, where a right conception often depends upon the minutest distinctions between words. We know that Zeno was more simple, and that Chrysippus, who was accounted the prop of the Stoic Porch, abounded more in subtile distinction and systematic spirit.* His power was attested as much by the antagonists whom he called forth, as by the scholars whom he formed. “Had there been no Chrysippus, there would have been no Carneades,” was the saying of the latter philosopher himself; as it might have been said in the eighteenth century, “Had there been no Hume, there would have been no Kant and no Reid.” Cleanthes, when one of his followers would pay court to him by laying vices to the charge of his most formidable opponent, Arcesilaus the academic, answered with a justice and candour unhappily too rare, “Silence,—do not malign him;—though he attacks Virtue by his arguments, he confirms its authority by his life.” Arcesilaus, whether modestly or churlishly, replied, “I do not choose to be flattered.” Cleanthes, with a superiority of repartee, as well as charity, replied, “Is it flattery to say that you speak one thing and do another?” It would be vain to expect that the fragments of the professors who lectured in the Stoic School for five hundred years, should be capable of being moulded into one consistent system; and we see that in Epictetus at least, the exaggeration of the sect was lowered to the level of Reason, by confining the sufficiency of Virtue to those cases only where happiness is attainable by our voluntary acts. It ought to be added, in extenuation of a noble error, that the power of habit and character to struggle against outward evils has been proved by experience to be in some instances so prodigious, that no man can presume to fix the utmost limit of its possible increase.
The attempt, however, of the Stoics to stretch the bounds of their system beyond the limits of Nature, doomed them to fluctuate between a wild fanaticism on the one hand, and, on the other, concessions which left their differences from other philosophers purely verbal. Many of their doctrines appear to be modifications of their original opinions, introduced as opposition became more formidable. In this manner they were driven to the necessity of admitting that the objects of our desires and appetites are worthy of preference, though they are denied to be constituents of happiness. It was thus that they were obliged to invent a double morality; one for mankind at large, from whom was expected no more than the χαθήχον,—which seems principally to have denoted acts of duty done from inferior or mixed motives; and the other (which they appear to have hoped from their ideal wise man) χατόρθωμα, or perfect observance of rectitude,—which consisted only in moral acts done from mere reverence for Morality, unaided by any feelings; all which (without the exception of pity) they classed among the enemies of Reason and the disturbers of the human soul. Thus did they shrink from their proudest paradoxes into verbal evasions. It is remarkable that men so acute did not perceive and acknowledge, that if pain were not an evil, cruelty would not be a vice; and that, if patience were of power to render torture indifferent, Virtue must expire in the moment of victory. There can be no more triumph, when there is no enemy left to conquer.*
The influence of men’s opinions on the conduct of their lives is checked and modified by so many causes; it so much depends on the strength of conviction, on its habitual combination with feelings, on the concurrence or resistance of interest, passion, example, and sympathy,—that a wise man is not the most forward in attempting to determine the power of its single operation over human actions. In the case of an individual it becomes altogether uncertain. But when the experiment is made on a large scale, when it is long continued and varied in its circumstances, and especially when great bodies of men are for ages the subject of it, we cannot reasonably reject the consideration of the inferences to which it appears to lead. The Roman Patriciate, trained in the conquest and government of the civilized world, in spite of the tyrannical vices which sprung from that training, were raised by the greatness of their objects to an elevation of genius and character unmatched by any other aristocracy, ere the period when, after preserving their power by a long course of wise compromise with the people, they were betrayed by the army and the populace into the hands of a single tyrant of their own order—the most accomplished of usurpers, and, if Humanity and Justice could for a moment be silenced, one of the most illustrious of men. There is no scene in history so memorable as that in which Cæsar mastered a nobility of which Lucullus and Hortensius, Sulpicius and Catulus, Pompey and Cicero, Brutus and Cato were members. This renowned body had from the time of Scipio sought the Greek philosophy as an amusement or an ornament. Some few, “in thought more elevate,” caught the love of Truth, and were ambitious of discovering a solid foundation for the Rule of Life. The influence of the Grecian systems was tried, during the five centuries between Carneades and Constantine, by their effect on a body of men of the utmost originality, energy, and variety of character, in their successive positions of rulers of the world, and of slaves under the best and under the worst of uncontrolled masters. If we had found this influence perfectly uniform, we should have justly suspected our own love of system of having in part bestowed that appearance on it. Had there been no trace of such an influence discoverable in so great an experiment, we must have acquiesced in the paradox, that opinion does not at all affect conduct. The result is the more satisfactory, because it appears to illustrate general tendency without excluding very remarkable exceptions. Though Cassius was an Epicurean, the true representative of that school was the accomplished, prudent, friendly, good-natured time-server Atticus, the pliant slave of every tyrant, who could kiss the hand of Antony, imbrued as it was in the blood of Cicero. The pure school of Plato sent forth Marcus Brutus, the signal humanity of whose life was both necessary and sufficient to prove that his daring breach of venerable rules flowed only from that dire necessity which left no other means of upholding the most sacred principles. The Roman orator, though in speculative questions he embraced that mitigated doubt which allowed most ease and freedom to his genius, yet in those moral writings where his heart was most deeply interested, followed the severest sect of Philosophy, and became almost a Stoic. If any conclusion may be hazarded from this trial of systems,—the greatest which History has recorded, we must not refuse our decided, though not undistinguishing, preference to that noble school which preserved great souls untainted at the court of dissolute and ferocious tyrants; which exalted the slave of one of Nero’s courtiers to be a moral teacher of aftertimes;—which for the first, and hitherto for the only time, breathed philosophy and justice into those rules of law which govern the ordinary concerns of every man; and which, above all, has contributed, by the examples of Marcus Portius Cato and of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, to raise the dignity of our species, to keep alive a more ardent love of Virtue, and a more awful sense of duty throughout all generations.*
The result of this short review of the practical philosophy of Greece seems to be, that though it was rich in rules for the conduct of life, and in exhibitions of the beauty of Virtue, and though it contains glimpses of just theory and fragments of perhaps every moral truth, yet it did not leave behind any precise and coherent system; unless we except that of Epicurus, who purchased consistency, method, and perspicuity too dearly by sacrificing Truth, and by narrowing and lowering his views of human nature, so as to enfeeble, if not extinguish, all the vigorous motives to arduous virtue. It is remarkable, that while of the eight professors who taught in the Porch, from Zeno to Posido nius, every one either softened or exaggerated the doctrines of his predecessor; and while the beautiful and reverend philosophy of Plato had, in his own Academy, degenerated into a scepticism which did not spare Morality itself, the system of Epicurus remained without change; and his disciples continued for ages to show personal honours to his memory, in a manner which may seem unaccountable among those who were taught to measure propriety by a calculation of palpable and outward usefulness. This steady adherence is in part doubtless attributable to the portion of truth which the doctrine contains; in some degree perhaps to the amiable and unboastful character of Epicurus; not a little, it may be, to the dishonour of deserting an unpopular cause; but probably most of all to that mental indolence which disposes the mind to rest in a simple system, comprehended at a glance, and easily falling in, both with ordinary maxims of discretion, and with the vulgar commonplaces of satire on human nature.† When all instruction was conveyed by lectures, and when one master taught the whole circle of the sciences in one school, it was natural that the attachment of pupils to a professor should be more devoted than when, as in our times, he can teach only a small portion of a Knowledge spreading towards infinity, and even in his own little province finds a rival in every good writer who has treated the same subject. The superior attachment of the Epicureans to their master is not without some parallel among the followers of similar principles in our own age, who have also revived some part of that indifference to eloquence and poetry which may be imputed to the habit of contemplating all things in relation to happiness, and to (what seems its uniform effect) the egregious miscalculation which leaves a multitude of mental pleasures out of the account. It may be said, indeed, that the Epicurean doctrine has continued with little change to the present day; at least it is certain that no other ancient doctrine has proved so capable of being restored in the same form among the moderns: and it may be added, that Hobbes and Gassendi, as well as some of our own contemporaries, are as confident in their opinions, and as intolerant of scepticism, as the old Epicureans. The resemblance of modern to ancient opinions, concerning some of those questions upon which ethical controversy must always hinge, may be a sufficient excuse for a retrospect of the Greek morals, which, it is hoped, will simplify and shorten subsequent observation on those more recent disputes which form the proper subject of this discourse.
The genius of Greece fell with Liberty. The Grecian philosophy received its mortal wound in the contests between scepticism and dogmatism which occupied the Schools in the age of Cicero. The Sceptics could only perplex, and confute, and destroy. Their occupation was gone as soon as they succeeded. They had nothing to substitute for what they overthrew; and they rendered their own art of no further use. They were no more than venomous animals, who stung their victims to death, but also breathed their last into the wound.
A third age of Grecian literature indeed arose at Alexandria, under the Macedonian kings of Egypt; laudably distinguished by exposition, criticism, and imitation (sometimes abused for the purposes of literary forgery), and still more honoured by some learned and highly-cultivated poets, as well as by diligent cultivators of History and Science; among whom a few began, about the first preaching of Christianity, to turn their minds once more to that high Philosophy which seeks for the fundamental principles of human knowledge. Philo, a learned and philosophical Hebrew, one of the flourishing colony of his nation established in that city, endeavoured to reconcile the Platonic philosophy with the Mosaic Law and the Sacred Books of the Old Testament. About the end of the second century, when the Christians, Hebrews, Pagans, and various other sects of semi- or pseudo-Christian Gnostics appear to have studied in the same schools, the almost inevitable tendency of doctrines, however discordant, in such circumstances to amalgamate, produced its full effect under Ammonius Saccas, a celebrated professor, who, by selection from the Greek systems, the Hebrew books, and the Oriental religions, and by some concession to the rising spirit of Christianity, of which the Gnostics had set the example, composed a very mixed system, commonly designated as the Eclectic philosophy. The controversies between his contemporaries and followers, especially those of Clement and Origen, the victorious champions of Christianity, with Plotimus and Porphyry, who endeavoured to preserve Paganism by clothing it in a disguise of philosophical Theism, are, from the effects towards which they contributed, the most memorable in the history of human opinion.* But their connection with modern Ethics is too faint to warrant any observation in this place, on the imperfect and partial memorials of them which have reached us. The death of Boethius in the West, and the closing of the Athenian Schools by Justinian, may be considered as the last events in the history of ancient philosophy.†
[* ] Diog. Laert. lib. vi. Ælian, lib. ix. cap. 35.
[† ] Heyse, Init. Phil. Plat. 1827;—a hitherto in complete work of great perspicuity and elegance, in which we must excuse the partiality which belongs to a labour of love.
[* ] The most probable etymology of “ϰαλός” seems to be from ϰάιω to burn. What burns commonly shines. “Schön,” in German, which means beautiful, is derived from “scheinen,” to shine. The word ϰαλός was used for right, so early as the Homeric Poems. Ιλ. xvii. 19. In the philosophical age it became a technical term, with little other remains of the metaphorical sense than what the genius and art of a fine writer might sometimes rekindle. “Honestum” the term by which Cicero translates the “ϰαλόν,” being derived from outward honours, is a less happy metaphor. In our language, the terms, being from foreign roots, contribute nothing to illustrate the progress of thought.
[† ] Let it not be forgotten, that for this terrible description, Socrates, to whom it is ascribed by Plato (Πολ. I.) is called “Præstantissimus sapientiæ,” by a writer of the most masculine understanding, the least subject to be transported by enthusiasm.—Tac. Ann. lib. vi. cap. 6. “Quæ rulnera!” says Cicero, in alluding to the same passage.—De Off. lib. iii. cap. 21.
[* ] There can hardly be a finer example of Plato’s practical morals than his observations on the treatment of slaves. “Genuine humanity and real probity,” says he, “are brought to the test, by the behaviour of a man to slaves, whom he may wrong with impunity.” Διάδηλος γὰρ ὁ φύσει ϰαὶ μὴ πλαστῶς σέϐων τὴν δίϰην, μισῶν δὲ ὄντως τὸ ἄδιϰον ἐν τούτοις τῶν ὰνθρώπων ἐν οἱς αὺτῷ ῤᾴδιον ἀδιϰεῖν,—Νομ. lib. vi. cap. 19. That Plato was considered as the fountain of ancient morals, would be sufficiently evident from Cicero alone: “Ex hoc igitur Platonis, quasi quodam sancto augustoque fontenostra omnis manabit oratio.”—Tusc. Quæst. lib. v. cap. 12. Perhaps the sober Quintilian meant to mingle some censure with the highest praise: “Plato, qui eloquendi facultate divinâ quâdam et Homericâ, multum supra prosam orationem surgit.” De Inst. Orat. lib. x. cap. 1.
[† ] “Una et consentiensduobus vocabulis philosophiæ forma instituta est, Academicorum et Peripateticorum; qui rebus congruentes nominibus differebant.”—Cic. Acad. Quæst. lib. i. cap. 4. Βούλεται (Απιστοτελης) διττὸν εἶνα τὸν ϰατὰ φιλοσοφίαι λόγον· τὸν μὲν πραϰτιϰόν, τὸν δὲ ϑεωοητιϰόν ϰαὶ τοῦ πραϰτιϰοῦ, τόν τε ἠθιϰὸν ϰαὶ πολιτιϰόν· τοῦ δὲ ϑεωρητιϰοῦ, τόν τε φυσιϰὸν, ϰαὶ λογιϰὸν.—Diog. Laert. lib. v. § 28.
[* ] Diog. Laert. lib. x. § 132.
[* ] Τὴν φιλιαν διὰ τῆς χρείας.—Diog. Laert. lib. x. § 120. “Hic est locus,” Gassendi confesses, “ob quem Epicurus non parum vexatur, quando nemo non reprehendit, parari amicitiam non sui, sed utilitatis gratiâ”.
[† ] It is due to him to observe, that he treated humanity towards slaves, as one of the characteristics of a wise man. Ὄυτε χιλάσειν οἰχέτας, ἐλεήσειν μέν τω, χαὶ συγγνώμην τινὶ ἕξειν τῶι σπουδ αίων.—Diog. Laert. lib. x. § 118. It is not unworthy of remark, that neither Plato nor Epicurus thought it necessary to abstain from these topics in a city full of slaves, many of whom were men not destitute of knowledge.
[‡ ] “Nil generosum, nil magnificum sapit.”—De Fin. lib. i. cap. 7.
[* ] “Chrysippus, qui fulcire putatur porticum Stoicorum.”—Acad. Quæst. lib. ii. cap. 24. Elsewhere (De Orat. lib. i. cap. 12.—De Fin. lib. iv. cap. 3.), “Acutissimus, sed in scribendo exilis et jejunus, scripsit rhetoricam seu potiùs obmutescendi artem;”—nearly as we should speak of a Schoolman.
[* ] “Patience, sovereign o’er transmuted ill.” But as soon as the ill was really “transmuted” into good, it is evident that there was no longer any scope left for the exercise of patience.
[* ] Of all testimonies to the character of the Stoics, perhaps the most decisive is the speech of the vile sycophant Capito, in the mock impeachment of Thrasea Pætus, before a senate of slaves: “Ut quondam C. Cæsarem et M. Catonem, ita nunc te, Nero, et Thraseam, avida discordiarum civitas loquitur . . . . . Ista secta Tuberones et Favonios, veteri quoque reipublicæ ingrata nomina, genuit.”—Tacit. Ann. lib. xvi. cap. 22. See Appendix, Note A .
[† ] The progress of commonplace satire on sexes or professions, and (he might have added) on nations, has been exquisitely touched by Gray in his Remarks on Lydgate; a fragment containing passages as finely thought and written as any in English prose. General satire on mankind is still more absurd; for no invective can be so unreasonable as that which is founded on falling short of an ideal standard.
[* ] The change attempted by Julian, Porphyry, and their friends, by which Theism would have become the popular Religion, may be estimated by the memorable passage of Tacitus on the Theism of the Jews. In the midst of all the obloquy and opprobrium with which he loads that people, his tone suddenly rises, when he comes to contemplate them as the only nation who paid religious honours to the Supreme and Eternal Mind alone, and his style swells at the sight of so sublime and wonderful a scene. “Summum illud et æternum, neque mutabile, neque interiturum.” Hist. lib. v. cap. 5.
[† ] The punishment of death was inflicted on Pagans by a law of Constantius. “Volumus cunctos sacrificiis abstinere: si aliquid hujusmodi perpetraverint, gladio ultore sternantur.” Cod. Just. lib. i. tit. xi. ‘de Paganis.’ From the authorities cited by Gibbon, (note, chap. xi.) as well as from some research, it should seem that the edict for the suppression of the Athenian schools was not admitted into the vast collection of laws enacted or systematized by Justinian.
[Note A. page 103.]The remarks of Cicero on the Stoicism of Cato are perhaps the most perfect specimen of that refined raillery which attains the object of the orator without general injustice to the person whose authority is for the moment to be abated:—
“Accessit his tot doctrina non moderata, nec mitis, sed, ut mihi videtur, paulo asperior et durior quam aut veritas aut natura patiatur.” After an enumeration of the Stoical paradoxes, he adds: “Hæc homo ingeniosissimus, M. Cato, auctoribus eruditissimis inductus, arripuit; neque disputandi causa, ut magna pars, sed ita vivendi . . . Nostri autem isti (fatebor enim, Cato, me quoque in adolescentia diffisum ingenio meo quæsisse adjumenta doctrinæ) nostri, inquam, illi a Platone atque Aristotele moderati homines et temperati aiunt apud sapientem valere aliquando gratiam; viri boni esse miseren; . . . omnes virtutes mediocritate quadam esse moderatas. Hos ad magistros si qua te fortuna, Cato, cum ista natura detulisset, non tu quidem vir melior esses, nec fortior, nec temperantior, nec justior (neque enim esse potes), sed paulo ad lenitatem propensior.”—Pro Murena.—Cap. xxix.—xxxi.