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Plutarch, Plutarch’s Morals, vol. 1 [1878]

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Plutarch, 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. 1.

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About this Title:

Vol. 1 of a massive 5 volume work in which Plutarch muses on all manner of topics ranging from virtue and vice, friendship, flattery, the nature of love, stoic philosophy, fate, to the nature of government.

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The text is in the public domain.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

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Edition: current; Page: [i]
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]
CORRECTED AND REVISED BY WILLIAM W. GOODWIN, Ph. D., professor of greek literature in harvard university. WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
Vol. I.
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by little, brown, and company, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.

cambridge: press of john wilson and son.

Edition: current; Page: [v]


The translation of Plutarch’s Morals “by Several Hands” was first published in London in 1684–1694. The fifth edition, “revised and corrected from the many errors of the former editions,” published in 1718, is the basis of the present translation. The earlier translation made by Philemon Holland, Doctor of Physick, published in London in 1603 and again in 1657, has often been of great use in the revision. It hardly need be stated, that the name “Morals” is used by tradition to include all the works of Plutarch except the Lives.

The original editions of the present work contained translations of every grade of merit. Some of the essays were translated by eminent scholars like William Baxter (nephew of Richard Baxter) and Thomas Creech, whose work generally required merely such revision as every translation of such an age would now need. But a large number, including some of the longest and most difficult treatises, were translated by men whose ignorance of Greek — or whatever language was the immediate ancestor of their own version — was only one of their many defects as translators. Perhaps we may gain a better idea than we have had of the scholars of Oxford whom Bentley delighted to torment, from these specimens of the learning of their generation; and it may have been a fortunate thing for some of our translators that Bentley was too much occupied with the wise heads of Christ Church to be able to notice the blunders of men who could write notes saying that the Parthenon is “a Promontory shooting into the Black Sea, where stood a Chappel dedicated to some Virgin God-head, and famous for some Victory thereabout obtain’d;” or who could torture a plain statement that a certain water when stirred produced bubbles (πομφόλυγες) into a story of a Edition: current; Page: [vi] new substance called Pompholyx, “made by Mixture of Brass with the Air”! See Vol. V. p. 337, and Vol. III. p. 517, of the original translation.

Besides the great variety of scholarship and ignorance, each translator had his own theory of translation. While some attempted a literal version, so as even to bracket all words not actually represented in the Greek, others gave a mere paraphrase, which in one case (Mr. Pulleyn’s “Customs of the Lacedaemonians”) became an original essay on the subject, based on the facts supplied by Plutarch. The present editor’s duty, of course, changed with each new style of translation. It would have been impossible to bring the whole work to a uniform standard of verbal correctness, unless essentially a new translation had been made. The original version was often so hopelessly incorrect that no revision was possible; and here the editor cannot flatter himself that he has succeeded in patching the English of the seventeenth century with his own without detriment. Fortunately, the earlier translation of Holland supplied words, and even whole sentences, in many cases in which the other was beyond the help of mere revision. The translation of Holland is generally more accurate than the other, and, on the whole, a more conscientious work; its antiquated style and diffuseness, however, render it less fitted for republication at the present time. Notwithstanding all the defects of the translation which is here revised, it is beyond all question a more readable version than could be made now; and the liveliness of its style will more than make up to most readers for its want of literal correctness. It need not be stated to professional scholars, that translations made in the seventeenth century cannot, even by the most careful revision, be made to answer the demands of modern critical scholarship.

One of the greatest difficulties in preparing the present work has been to decide how much of the antiquated language of the old translation should be retained. On this point the editor has fortunately been able to consult the wisest and most experienced advisers, to whose aid he has been constantly indebted; but even the highest authorities occasionally disagree on the first principles. He is fully aware, therefore, that he has dissatisfied a large number of the friends of Plutarch in this respect; but he is equally sure that he should have dissatisfied an equal number by any other course which he might have followed. The general principle Edition: current; Page: [vii] adopted has been to retain such expressions as were in good use when the translation was made, provided the meaning is obvious or easy to be learned from a dictionary, and to discard such as would be unintelligible to ordinary readers. It has, in some cases, been assumed that the use of a phrase of obvious meaning in this translation is of itself authority for accepting it. On these principles many words and expressions are retained, which are decidedly weaker than their modern equivalents, especially many Latinisms and Gallicisms which now seem pedantic. Even here consistency has been impossible, where the duty of a reviser changed with every new treatise. Perhaps the editor cannot state his own object more correctly, than by saying that he has tried to make each treatise what the original translator would have made it if he had carried out his own purpose conscientiously and thoroughly. Where so many errors were to be corrected, it would be absurd to hope that many have not remained still unnoticed.

The corrupt state of the Greek text of many parts of Plutarch’s Morals must not be overlooked. No complete edition of the Greek has been published since Wyttenbach’s (1795–1800), except the French one by Dübner in the Didot collection. The latter gives no manuscript readings; and although it professes to be based partly on a new collation of the manuscripts in the public library of Paris, nothing distinguishes the changes made on this authority from conjectures of the editor and his predecessors. A slight glance at Wyttenbach will show that many parts of the text are restored by conjecture; and many of the conjectures, though plausible and ingenious, are not such as would be accepted by modern scholarship if they were made in earlier classic authors. A translator must accept many of these under silent protest; to enumerate one-half of them would introduce a critical commentary entirely out of place in a translation. In fact, no critical translation of these treatises is possible, until a thorough revision of the text, with the help of the best manuscripts, has been made; and this is a task from which most scholars would shrink in dismay. In many cases in this edition, blanks have been preferred to uncertain conjectures or traditional nonsense. The treatises on Music, on the Procreation of the Soul, and the two on the Stoics, have many of their dark corners made darker by the utter uncertainty of the Greek text.

Edition: current; Page: [viii]

The essays in this edition follow the same order as in the old translation; but those on Fortune, and on Virtue and Vice, with the Conjugal Precepts, are transferred from the beginning of volume third to the end of volume second. The sections have been numbered in accordance with the modern editions of the Greek text. References to most of the classic authors quoted by Plutarch are given in the foot-notes, except where a quotation is a mere fragment of an unknown work. The tragic fragments are numbered according to the edition of Nauck (Leipsic, 1856). All notes (except these references) introduced by the editor are marked G. A few notes are taken from Holland; and all which are not otherwise marked are retained from the old translation.

In conclusion, the editor must express his warmest thanks to his colleagues at the University and other friends who have kindly aided him with their advice and skill. Without their help, the undertaking would sometimes have seemed hopeless.

Edition: current; Page: [ix]


It is remarkable that of an author so familiar as Plutarch, not only to scholars, but to all reading men, and whose history is so easily gathered from his works, no accurate memoir of his life, not even the dates of his birth and death, should have come down to us. Strange that the writer of so many illustrious biographies should wait so long for his own. It is agreed that he was born about the year 50 a. d. He has been represented as having been the tutor of the Emperor Trajan, as dedicating one of his books to him, as living long in Rome in great esteem, as having received from Trajan the consular dignity, and as having been appointed by him the governor of Greece. He was a man whose real superiority had no need of these flatteries. Meantime, the simple truth is, that he was not the tutor of Trajan, that he dedicated no book to him, was not consul in Rome, nor governor of Greece; appears never to have been in Rome but on two occasions, and then on business of the people of his native city, Chæronæa; and though he found or made friends at Rome, and read lectures to some friends or scholars, he did not know or learn the Latin language there; with one or two doubtful exceptions, never quotes a Latin book; and though the contemporary in his youth, or in his old age, of Persius, Juvenal, Lucan, and Seneca, of Quintilian, Martial, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Elder, and the Younger, he does not cite them, and in return his name is never mentioned by any Roman writer. It would seem that the community of letters and of personal news was even more rare at that day than the want of printing, of railroads and telegraphs, would suggest to us.

But this neglect by his contemporaries has been compensated by an immense popularity in modern nations. Whilst his books were never known to the world in their own Greek tongue, it is Edition: current; Page: [x] curious that the “Lives” were translated and printed in Latin, thence into Italian, French, and English, more than a century before the original “Works” were yet printed. For whilst the “Lives” were translated in Rome in 1471, and the “Morals,” part by part, soon after, the first printed edition of the Greek “Works” did not appear until 1572. Hardly current in his own Greek, these found learned interpreters in the scholars of Germany, Spain, and Italy. In France, in the middle of the most turbulent civil wars, Amyot’s translation awakened general attention. His genial version of the “Lives” in 1559, of the “Morals” in 1572, had signal success. King Henry IV. wrote to his wife, Marie de Medicis: “Vive Dieu. As God liveth, you could not have sent me any thing which could be more agreeable than the news of the pleasure you have taken in this reading. Plutarch always delights me with a fresh novelty. To love him is to love me; for he has been long time the instructor of my youth. My good mother, to whom I owe all, and who would not wish, she said, to see her son an illustrious dunce, put this book into my hands almost when I was a child at the breast. It has been like my conscience, and has whispered in my ear many good suggestions and maxims for my conduct, and the government of my affairs.” Still earlier, Rabelais cites him with due respect. Montaigne, in 1589, says: “We dunces had been lost, had not this book raised us out of the dirt. By this favor of his we dare now speak and write. The ladies are able to read to schoolmasters. ’Tis our breviary.” Montesquieu drew from him his definition of law, and, in his Pensées, declares, “I am always charmed with Plutarch; in his writings are circumstances attached to persons, which give great pleasure;” and adds examples. Saint Evremond read Plutarch to the great Condé under a tent. Rollin, so long the historian of antiquity for France, drew unhesitatingly his history from him. Voltaire honored him, and Rousseau acknowledged him as his master. In England, Sir Thomas North translated the “Lives” in 1579, and Holland the “Morals” in 1603, in time to be used by Shakspeare in his plays, and read by Bacon, Dryden, and Cudworth.

Then, recently, there has been a remarkable revival, in France, in the taste for Plutarch and his contemporaries, led, we may say, by the eminent critic Saint-Beuve. M. Octave Gréard, in a critical work on the “Morals,” has carefully corrected the popular Edition: current; Page: [xi] legends, and constructed from the works of Plutarch himself his true biography. M. Levéque has given an exposition of his moral philosophy, under the title of “A Physician of the Soul,” in the Revue des Deux Mondes; and M. C. Martha, chapters on the genius of Marcus Aurelius, of Persius, and Lucretius, in the same journal; whilst M. Fustel de Coulanges has explored from its roots in the Aryan race, then in their Greek and Roman descendants, the primeval religion of the household.

Plutarch occupies a unique place in literature as an encyclopædia of Greek and Roman antiquity. Whatever is eminent in fact or in fiction, in opinion, in character, in institutions, in science — natural, moral, or metaphysical, or in memorable sayings, drew his attention and came to his pen with more or less fulness of record. He is, among prose-writers, what Chaucer is among English poets, a repertory for those who want the story without searching for it at first hand, — a compend of all accepted traditions. And all this without any supreme intellectual gifts. He is not a profound mind; not a master in any science; not a lawgiver, like Lycurgus or Solon; not a metaphysician, like Parmenides, Plato, or Aristotle; not the founder of any sect or community, like Pythagoras or Zeno; not a naturalist, like Pliny or Linnæus; not a leader of the mind of a generation, like Plato or Goethe. But if he had not the highest powers, he was yet a man of rare gifts. He had that universal sympathy with genius which makes all its victories his own; though he never used verse, he had many qualities of the poet in the power of his imagination, the speed of his mental associations, and his sharp, objective eyes. But what specially marks him, he is a chief example of the illumination of the intellect by the force of morals. Though the most amiable of boon-companions, this generous religion gives him aperçus like Goethe’s.

Plutarch was well-born, well-taught, well-conditioned; a self-respecting, amiable man, who knew how to better a good education by travels, by devotion to affairs private and public; a master of ancient culture, he read books with a just criticism; eminently social, he was a king in his own house, surrounded himself with select friends, and knew the high value of good conversation; and declares in a letter written to his wife that “he finds scarcely an erasure, as in a book well-written, in the happiness of his life.”

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The range of mind makes the glad writer. The reason of Plutarch’s vast popularity is his humanity. A man of society, of affairs; upright, practical; a good son, husband, father, and friend,—he has a taste for common life, and knows the court, the camp, and the judgment-hall, but also the forge, farm, kitchen, and cellar, and every utensil and use, and with a wise man’s or a poet’s eye. Thought defends him from any degradation. He does not lose his way, for the attractions are from within, not from without. A poet in verse or prose must have a sensuous eye, but an intellectual co-perception. Plutarch’s memory is full, and his horizon wide. Nothing touches man but he feels to be his; he is tolerant even of vice, if he finds it genial; enough a man of the world to give even the devil his due, and would have hugged Robert Burns, when he cried,

“O wad ye tak’ a thought and mend!”

He is a philosopher with philosophers, a naturalist with naturalists, and sufficiently a mathematician to leave some of his readers, now and then, at a long distance behind him, or respectfully skipping to the next chapter. But this scholastic omniscience of our author engages a new respect, since they hope he understands his own diagram.

He perpetually suggests Montaigne, who was the best reader he has ever found, though Montaigne excelled his master in the point and surprise of his sentences. Plutarch had a religion which Montaigne wanted, and which defends him from wantonness; and though Plutarch is as plain-spoken, his moral sentiment is always pure. What better praise has any writer received than he whom Montaigne finds “frank in giving things, not words,” dryly adding, “it vexes me that he is so exposed to the spoil of those that are conversant with him.” It is one of the felicities of literary history, the tie which inseparably couples these two names across fourteen centuries. Montaigne, whilst he grasps Étienne de la Boèce with one hand, reaches back the other to Plutarch. These distant friendships charm us, and honor all the parties, and make the best example of the universal citizenship and fraternity of the human mind.

I do not know where to find a book — to borrow a phrase of Ben Johnson’s — “so rammed with life,” and this in chapters chiefly ethical, which are so prone to be heavy and sentimental. Edition: current; Page: [xiii] No poet could illustrate his thought with more novel or striking similes or happier anecdotes. His style is realistic, picturesque, and varied; his sharp objective eyes seeing every thing that moves, shines, or threatens in nature or art, or thought or dreams. Indeed, twilights, shadows, omens, and spectres have a charm for him. He believes in witchcraft and the evil eye, in demons and ghosts, — but prefers, if you please, to talk of these in the morning. His vivacity and abundance never leave him to loiter or pound on an incident. I admire his rapid and crowded style, as if he had such store of anecdotes of his heroes that he is forced to suppress more than he recounts, in order to keep up with the hasting history.

His surprising merit is the genial facility with which he deals with his manifold topics. There is no trace of labor or pain. He gossips of heroes, philosophers, and poets; of virtues and genius; of love and fate and empires. It is for his pleasure that he recites all that is best in his reading: he prattles history. But he is no courtier, and no Boswell: he is ever manly, far from fawning, and would be welcome to the sages and warriors he reports, as one having a native right to admire and recount these stirring deeds and speeches. I find him a better teacher of rhetoric than any modern. His superstitions are poetic, aspiring, affirmative. A poet might rhyme all day with hints drawn from Plutarch, page on page. No doubt, this superior suggestion for the modern reader owes much to the foreign air, the Greek wine, the religion and history of antique heroes. Thebes, Sparta, Athens, and Rome charm us away from the disgust of the passing hour. But his own cheerfulness and rude health are also magnetic. In his immense quotation and allusion, we quickly cease to discriminate between what he quotes and what he invents. We sail on his memory into the ports of every nation, enter into every private property, and do not stop to discriminate owners, but give him the praise of all. ’Tis all Plutarch, by right of eminent domain, and all property vests in this emperor. This facility and abundance make the joy of his narrative, and he is read to the neglect of more careful historians. Yet he inspires a curiosity, sometimes makes a necessity, to read them. He disowns any attempt to rival Thucydides; but I suppose he has a hundred readers where Thucydides finds one, and Thucydides must often thank Plutarch for that one. He has preserved for us a multitude Edition: current; Page: [xiv] of precious sentences, in prose or verse, of authors whose books are lost; and these embalmed fragments, through his loving selection alone, have come to be proverbs of later mankind. I hope it is only my immense ignorance that makes me believe that they do not survive out of his pages, — not only Thespis, Polemos, Euphorion, Ariston, Evenus, &c., but fragments of Menander and Pindar. At all events, it is in reading the fragments he has saved from lost authors that I have hailed another example of the sacred care which has unrolled in our times, and still searches and unrolls papyri from ruined libraries and buried cities, and has drawn attention to what an ancient might call the politeness of Fate, — we will say, more advisedly, the benign Providence which uses the violence of war, of earthquakes, and changed watercourses, to save underground through barbarous ages the relics of ancient art, and thus allows us to witness the upturning of the alphabets of old races, and the deciphering of forgotten languages, so to complete the annals of the forefathers of Asia, Africa, and Europe.

His delight in poetry makes him cite with joy the speech of Gorgias, “that the tragic poet who deceived was juster than he who deceived not, and he that was deceived was wiser than he who was not deceived.”

It is a consequence of this poetic trait in his mind, that I confess that, in reading him, I embrace the particulars, and carry a faint memory of the argument or general design of the chapter; but he is not less welcome, and he leaves the reader with a relish and a necessity for completing his studies. Many examples might be cited of nervous expression and happy allusion, that indicate a poet and an orator, though he is not ambitious of these titles, and cleaves to the security of prose narrative, and only shows his intellectual sympathy with these; yet I cannot forbear to cite one or two sentences which none who reads them will forget. In treating of the style of the Pythian Oracle, he says, —

“Do you not observe, some one will say, what a grace there is in Sappho’s measures, and how they delight and tickle the ears and fancies of the hearers? Whereas the Sibyl, with her frantic grimaces, uttering sentences altogether thoughtful and serious, neither fucused nor perfumed, continues her voice a thousand years through the favor of the Divinity that speaks within her.”

Edition: current; Page: [xv]

Another gives an insight into his mystic tendencies, —

“Early this morning, asking Epaminondas about the manner of Lysis’s burial, I found that Lysis had taught him as far as the incommunicable mysteries of our sect, and that the same Dæmon that waited on Lysis, presided over him, if I can guess at the pilot from the sailing of the ship. The paths of life are large, but in few are men directed by the Dæmons. When Theanor had said this, he looked attentively on Epaminondas, as if he designed a fresh search into his nature and inclinations.”

And here is his sentiment on superstition, somewhat condensed in Lord Bacon’s citation of it: “I had rather a great deal that men should say, There was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say, that there was one Plutarch that would eat up his children as soon as they were born, as the poets speak of Saturn.”

The chapter “On Fortune” should be read by poets, and other wise men; and the vigor of his pen appears in the chapter “Whether the Athenians were more Warlike or Learned,” and in his attack upon Usurers.

There is, of course, a wide difference of time in the writing of these discourses, and so in their merit. Many of them are mere sketches or notes for chapters in preparation, which were never digested or finished. Many are notes for disputations in the lecture-room. His poor indignation against Herodotus was perhaps a youthful prize essay: it appeared to me captious and labored; or perhaps, at a rhetorician’s school, the subject of Herodotus being the lesson of the day, Plutarch was appointed by lot to take the adverse side.

The plain-speaking of Plutarch, as of the ancient writers generally, coming from the habit of writing for one sex only, has a great gain for brevity, and, in our new tendencies of civilization, may tend to correct a false delicacy.

We are always interested in the man who treats the intellect well. We expect it from the philosopher, — from Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, and Kant; but we know that metaphysical studies in any but minds of large horizon and incessant inspiration have their dangers. One asks sometimes whether a metaphysician can treat the intellect well. The central fact is the superhuman intelligence pouring into us from its unknown fountain, to be received with religious awe, and defended from any mixture of our will. But Edition: current; Page: [xvi] this high Muse comes and goes; and the danger is that, when the Muse is wanting, the student is prone to supply its place with microscopic subtleties and logomachy. It is fatal to spiritual health to lose your admiration. “Let others wrangle,” said St. Augustine: “I will wonder.” Plato and Plotinus are enthusiasts, who honor the race; but the logic of the sophists and materialists, whether Greek or French, fills us with disgust. Whilst we expect this awe and reverence of the spiritual power from the philosopher in his closet, we praise it in the man of the world, — the man who lives on quiet terms with existing institutions, yet indicates his perception of these high oracles, as do Plutarch, Montaigne, Hume, and Goethe. These men lift themselves at once from the vulgar, and are not the parasites of wealth. Perhaps they sometimes compromise, go out to dine, make and take compliments; but they keep open the source of wisdom and health. Plutarch is uniformly true to this centre. He had not lost his wonder. He is a pronounced idealist, who does not hesitate to say, like another Berkeley, “Matter is itself privation;” and again, “The Sun is the cause that all men are ignorant of Apollo, by sense withdrawing the rational intellect from that which is to that which appears.” He thinks that “souls are naturally endowed with the faculty of prediction;” he delights in memory, with its miraculous power of resisting time. He thinks that “Alexander invaded Persia with greater assistance from Aristotle than from his father Philip.” He thinks that “he who has ideas of his own is a bad judge of another man’s, it being true that the Eleans would be the most proper judges of the Olympic games, were no Eleans gamesters.” He says of Socrates, that he endeavored to bring reason and things together, and make truth consist with sober sense. He wonders with Plato at that nail of pain and pleasure which fastens the body to the mind. The mathematics give him unspeakable pleasure, but he chiefly liked that proportion which teaches us to account that which is just, equal; and not that which is equal, just.

Of philosophy he is more interested in the results than in the method. He has a just instinct of the presence of a master, and prefers to sit as a scholar with Plato, than as a disputant; and, true to his practical character, he wishes the philosopher not to hide in a corner, but to commend himself to men of public regards and ruling genius: “for, if he once possess such a man with Edition: current; Page: [xvii] principles of honor and religion, he takes a compendious method, by doing good to one, to oblige a great part of mankind.” ’Tis a temperance, not an eclecticism, which makes him adverse to the severe Stoic, or the Gymnosophist, or Diogenes, or any other extremist. That vice of theirs shall not hinder him from citing any good word they chance to drop. He is an eclectic in such sense as Montaigne was, — willing to be an expectant, not a dogmatist.

In many of these chapters it is easy to infer the relation between the Greek philosophers and those who came to them for instruction. This teaching was no play nor routine, but strict, sincere, and affectionate. The part of each of the class is as important as that of the master. They are like the base-ball players, to whom the pitcher, the bat, the catcher, and the scout are equally important. And Plutarch thought, with Ariston, “that neither a bath nor a lecture served any purpose, unless they were purgative.” Plutarch has such a keen pleasure in realities that he has none in verbal disputes; he is impatient of sophistry, and despises the Epicharmian disputations: as, that he who ran in debt yesterday owes nothing to-day, as being another man; so, he that was yesterday invited to supper, the next night comes an unbidden guest, for that he is quite another person.

Except as historical curiosities, little can be said in behalf of the scientific value of the “Opinions of the Philosophers,” the “Questions,” and the “Symposiacs.” They are, for the most part, very crude opinions; many of them so puerile that one would believe that Plutarch in his haste adopted the notes of his younger auditors, some of them jocosely misreporting the dogma of the professor, who laid them aside as memoranda for future revision, which he never gave, and they were posthumously published. Now and then there are hints of superior science. You may cull from this record of barbarous guesses of shepherds and travellers statements that are predictions of facts established in modern science. Usually, when Thales, Anaximenes, or Anaxi mander are quoted, it is really a good judgment. The explanation of the rainbow, of the floods of the Nile, and of the remora, &c., are just; and the bad guesses are not worse than many of Lord Bacon’s.

His Natural History is that of a lover and poet, and not of a Edition: current; Page: [xviii] physicist. His humanity stooped affectionately to trace the virtues which he loved in the animals also. “Knowing and not knowing is the affirmative or negative of the dog; knowing you is to be your friend; not knowing you, your enemy.” He quotes Thucydides, saying, “that not the desire of honor only never grows old, but much less also the inclination to society and affection to the State, which continue even in ants and bees to the very last.”

But though curious in the questions of the schools on the nature and genesis of things, his extreme interest in every trait of character, and his broad humanity, lead him constantly to Morals, to the study of the Beautiful and Good. Hence his love of heroes, his rule of life, and his clear convictions of the high destiny of the soul. La Harpe said “that Plutarch is the genius the most naturally moral that ever existed.”

’Tis almost inevitable to compare Plutarch with Seneca, who, born fifty years earlier, was for many years his contemporary, though they never met, and their writings were perhaps unknown to each other. Plutarch is genial, with an endless interest in all human and divine things; Seneca, a professional philosopher, a writer of sentences, and, though he keep a sublime path, is less interesting, because less humane; and when we have shut his book, we forget to open it again. There is a certain violence in his opinions, and want of sweetness. He lacks the sympathy of Plutarch. He is tiresome through perpetual didactics. He is not happily living. Cannot the simple lover of truth enjoy the virtues of those he meets, and the virtues suggested by them, so to find himself at some time purely contented? Seneca was still more a man of the world than Plutarch; and, by his conversation with the Court of Nero, and his own skill, like Voltaire’s, of living with men of business, and emulating their address in affairs by great accumulation of his own property, learned to temper his philosophy with facts. He ventured far — apparently too far — for so keen a conscience as he inly had. Yet we owe to that wonderful moralist illustrious maxims; as if the scarlet vices of the times of Nero had the natural effect of driving virtue to its loftiest antagonisms. “Seneca,” says L’Estrange, “was a pagan Christian, and is very good reading for our Christian pagans.” He was Buddhist in his cold abstract virtue, with a certain impassibility beyond humanity. He called “pity, that Edition: current; Page: [xix] fault of narrow souls.” Yet what noble words we owe to him: “God divided man into men, that they might help each other;” and again, “The good man differs from God in nothing but duration.” His thoughts are excellent, if only he had a right to say them. Plutarch, meantime, with every virtue under heaven, thought it the top of wisdom to philosophize, yet not appear to do it, and to reach in mirth the same ends which the most serious are proposing.

Plutarch thought “truth to be the greatest good that man can receive, and the goodliest blessing that God can give.” “When you are persuaded in your mind that you cannot either offer or perform any thing more agreeable to the gods than the entertaining a right notion of them, you will then avoid superstition as a no less evil than atheism.” He cites Euripides to affirm, “If gods do aught dishonest, they are no gods,” and the memorable words of Antigone, in Sophocles, concerning the moral sentiment: —

  • “For neither now nor yesterday began
  • These thoughts, which have been ever, nor yet can
  • A man be found who their first entrance knew.”

His faith in the immortality of the soul is another measure of his deep humanity. He reminds his friends that the Delphic oracles have given several answers the same in substance as that formerly given to Coraz the Naxian: —

  • “It sounds profane impiety
  • To teach that human souls e’er die.”

He believes that the doctrine of the Divine Providence, and that of the immortality of the soul, rest on one and the same basis. He thinks it impossible either that a man beloved of the gods should not be happy, or that a wise and just man should not be beloved of the gods. To him the Epicureans are hateful, who held that the soul perishes when it is separated from the body. “The soul, incapable of death, suffers in the same manner in the body, as birds that are kept in a cage.” He believes “that the souls of infants pass immediately into a better and more divine state.”

I can easily believe that an anxious soul may find in Plutarch’s chapter called “Pleasure not attainable by Epicurus,” and his “Letter to his Wife Timoxena,” a more sweet and reassuring argument on the immortality than in the Phædo of Plato; for Edition: current; Page: [xx] Plutarch always addresses the question on the human side, and not on the metaphysical; as Walter Scott took hold of boys and young men, in England and America, and through them of their fathers. His grand perceptions of duty lead him to his stern delight in heroism; a stoic resistance to low indulgence; to a fight with fortune; a regard for truth; his love of Sparta, and of heroes like Aristides, Phocion, and Cato. He insists that the highest good is in action. He thinks that the inhabitants of Asia came to be vassals to one only, for not having been able to pronounce one syllable; which is, No. So keen is his sense of allegiance to right reason, that he makes a fight against Fortune whenever she is named. At Rome he thinks her wings were clipped: she stood no longer on a ball, but on a cube as large as Italy. He thinks it was by superior virtue that Alexander won his battles in Asia and Africa, and the Greeks theirs against Persia.

But this Stoic in his fight with Fortune, with vices, effeminacy, and indolence, is gentle as a woman when other strings are touched. He is the most amiable of men. “To erect a trophy in the soul against anger is that which none but a great and victorious puissance is able to achieve.” — “Anger turns the mind out of doors, and bolts the door.” He has a tenderness almost to tears when he writes on “Friendship,” on “Marriage,” on “the Training of Children,” and on the “Love of Brothers.” “There is no treasure,” he says, “parents can give to their children, like a brother; ’tis a friend given by nature, a gift nothing can supply; once lost, not to be replaced. The Arcadian prophet, of whom Herodotus speaks, was obliged to make a wooden foot in place of that which had been chopped off. A brother, embroiled with his brother, going to seek in the street a stranger who can take his place, resembles him who will cut off his foot to give himself one of wood.”

All his judgments are noble. He thought, with Epicurus, that it is more delightful to do than to receive a kindness. “This courteous, gentle, and benign disposition and behavior is not so acceptable, so obliging or delightful to any of those with whom we converse, as it is to those who have it.” There is really no limit to his bounty: “It would be generous to lend our eyes and ears, nay, if possible, our reason and fortitude to others, whilst we are idle or asleep.” His excessive and fanciful humanity reminds Edition: current; Page: [xxi] one of Charles Lamb, whilst it much exceeds him. When the guests are gone, he “would leave one lamp burning, only as a sign of the respect he bore to fires, for nothing so resembles an animal as fire. It is moved and nourished by itself, and by its brightness, like the soul, discovers and makes every thing apparent, and in its quenching shows some power that seems to proceed from a vital principle, for it makes a noise and resists, like an animal dying, or violently slaughtered;” and he praises the Romans, who, when the feast was over, “dealt well with the lamps, and did not take away the nourishment they had given, but permitted them to live and shine by it.”

I can almost regret that the learned editor of the present republication has not preserved, if only as a piece of history, the preface of Mr. Morgan, the editor and in part writer of this Translation of 1718. In his dedication of the work to the Arch bishop of Canterbury, Wm. Wake, he tells the Primate that “Plutarch was the wisest man of his age, and, if he had been a Christian, one of the best too; but it was his severe fate to flourish in those days of ignorance, which, ’tis a favorable opinion to hope that the Almighty will sometime wink at; that our souls may be with these philosophers together in the same state of bliss.” The puzzle in the worthy translator’s mind between his theology and his reason well re-appears in the puzzle of his sentence.

I know that the chapter of “Apothegms of Noble Commanders” is rejected by some critics as not a genuine work of Plutarch; but the matter is good, and is so agreeable to his taste and genius, that if he had found it, he would have adopted it. If he did not compile the piece, many, perhaps most, of the anecdotes were already scattered in his works. If I do not lament that a work not his should be ascribed to him, I regret that he should have suffered such destruction of his own. What a trilogy is lost to mankind in his Lives of Scipio, Epaminondas, and Pindar!

His delight in magnanimity and self-sacrifice has made his books, like Homer’s Iliad, a bible for heroes; and wherever the Cid is relished, the legends of Arthur, Saxon Alfred, and Richard the Lion-hearted, Robert Bruce, Sydney, Lord Herbert of Cherbury, Cromwell, Nelson, Bonaparte, and Walter Scott’s Chronicles in prose or verse, — there will Plutarch, who told the story of Leonidas, of Agesilaus, of Aristides, Phocion, Themistocles, Demosthenes, Edition: current; Page: [xxii] Epaminondas, Cæsar, Cato, and the rest, sit as the bestower of the crown of noble knighthood, and laureate of the ancient world.

The chapters “On the Fortune of Alexander,” in the “Morals,” are an important appendix to the portrait in the “Lives.” The union in Alexander of sublime courage with the refinement of his pure tastes, making him the carrier of civilization into the East, are in the spirit of the ideal hero, and endeared him to Plutarch. That prince kept Homer’s poems, not only for himself under his pillow in his tent, but carried these for the delight of the Persian youth, and made them acquainted also with the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles. He persuaded the Sogdians not to kill, but to cherish their aged parents; the Persians to reverence, not marry their mothers; the Scythians to bury, and not eat their dead parents. What a fruit and fitting monument of his best days was his city Alexandria to be the birthplace or home of Plotinus, St. Augustine, Synesius, Posidonius, Ammonius, Jamblichus, Porphyry, Origen, Aratus, Apollonius, and Apuleius.

If Plutarch delighted in heroes, and held the balance between the severe Stoic and the indulgent Epicurean, his humanity shines not less in his intercourse with his personal friends. He was a genial host and guest, and delighted in bringing chosen companions to the supper-table. He knew the laws of conversation and the laws of good-fellowship quite as well as Horace, and has set them down with such candor and grace as to make them good reading to-day. The guests not invited to a private board by the entertainer, but introduced by a guest as his companions, the Greeks called shadows; and the question is debated whether it was civil to bring them, and he treats it candidly, but concludes: “Therefore, when I make an invitation, since it is hard to break the custom of the place, I give my guests leave to bring shadows; but when I myself am invited as a shadow, I assure you I refuse to go.” He has an objection to the introduction of music at feasts. He thought it wonderful that a man having a muse in his own breast, and all the pleasantness that would fit an entertainment, would have pipes and harps play, and by that external noise destroy all the sweetness that was proper and his own.

I cannot close these notes without expressing my sense of the valuable service which the Editor has rendered to his Author and to Edition: current; Page: [xxiii] his readers. Professor Goodwin is a silent benefactor to the book, wherever I have compared the editions. I did not know how careless and vicious in parts the old book was, until in recent reading of the old text, on coming on any thing absurd or unintelligible, I referred to the new text, and found a clear and accurate statement in its place. It is the vindication of Plutarch. The correction is not only of names of authors and of places grossly altered or misspelled, but of unpardonable liberties taken by the translators, whether from negligence or freak.

One proof of Plutarch’s skill as a writer is that he bears translation so well. In spite of its carelessness and manifold faults, which, I doubt not, have tried the patience of its present learned editor and corrector, I yet confess my enjoyment of this old version for its vigorous English style. The work of some forty or fifty University men, some of them imperfect in their Greek, it is a monument of the English language at a period of singular vigor and freedom of style. I hope the Commission of the Philological Society in London, charged with the duty of preparing a Critical Dictionary, will not overlook these volumes, which show the wealth of their tongue to greater advantage than many books of more renown as models. It runs through the whole scale of conversation in the street, the market, the coffee-house, the law courts, the palace, the college, and the church. There are, no doubt, many vulgar phrases, and many blunders of the printer; but it is the speech of business and conversation, and in every tone, from lowest to highest.

We owe to these translators many sharp perceptions of the wit and humor of their author, sometimes even to the adding of the point. I notice one, which, although the translator has justified his rendering in a note, the severer criticism of the Editor has not retained. “Were there not a sun, we might, for all the other stars, pass our days in Reverend Dark, as Heraclitus calls it.” I find a humor in the phrase which might well excuse its doubtful accuracy.

It is a service to our Republic to publish a book that can force ambitious young men, before they mount the platform of the county conventions, to read the “Laconic Apothegms” and the “Apothegms of Great Commanders.” If we could keep the secret, and communicate it only to a few chosen aspirants, we Edition: current; Page: [xxiv] might confide that, by this noble infiltration, they would easily carry the victory over all competitors. But, as it was the desire of these old patriots to fill with their majestic spirit all Sparta or Rome, and not a few leaders only, we hasten to offer them to the American people.

Plutarch’s popularity will return in rapid cycles. If over-read in this decade, so that his anecdotes and opinions become commonplace, and to-day’s novelties are sought for variety, his sterling values will presently recall the eye and thought of the best minds, and his books will be reprinted and read anew by coming generations. And thus Plutarch will be perpetually rediscovered from time to time as long as books last.

Edition: current; Page: [xxv]



    • Effect on children of impurity in the parents, 3;
    • of intemperance in the parents, 4.
    • Instruction and training necessary, 5.
    • Training must assist nature, 5.
    • Defective natural parts may be improved by instruction, 5, 6.
    • Diligent effort may supply native deflciencies, 6.
    • A virtuous character partly the effect of custom and habit, 7.
    • Mothers should nurse their own children, 7, 8.
    • Manners of children to be well-formed from the beginning, 8.
    • Care to be taken of their associates, 9
    • Teachers of children to be carefully chosen, 9, 10.
    • Moral character of teachers to be carefully regarded, 10, 11.
    • Unhappy consequences of the ill-training of children, 11, 12.
    • A good education preferable to the gifts of fortune, 12, 13.
    • Learning better than bodily strength, 13.
    • Children should be trained to think before they speak, 14, 15.
    • A pompous style of speech to be avoided, 16.
    • Tameness of speech to be avoided, 16.
    • The principal study of youth should be philosophy, 17, 18.
    • Bodily exercise not to be neglected, 19.
    • Gymnastic and military exercises, 19.
    • Corporal and disgraceful punishments not to be used, 20.
    • Motives to be addressed to the understanding and conscience, 20.
    • Severe tasks not to be imposed on children, 21.
    • Relaxation to be allowed them, 21.
    • Memory to be cultivated, 22.
    • A courteous manner of speaking to be inculcated. 22.
    • Self-control to be taught, 23, 24.
    • Restraint of the tongue, 23, 24.
    • Sotades punished for free speech, 25.
    • Severity to children unwise, 26.
    • Young men to be restrained from vicious company, 28, 29.
    • Flatterers to be avoided, 29.
    • Allowance should be made for youthful impetuosity, 30.
    • Marriage a security for young men, 31.
    • Fathers not to be severe and harsh, but examples to their children, 30, 31.

    • How may a tendency to anger be overcome? i. 34.
    • Not by the interference of other persons, 35.
    • The mind being then under the influence of stormy passion, 36.
    • The aid of reason and judgment is more effectual, 37.
    • Resist the beginning of anger, 37.
    • When inclined to anger, try to be quiet and composed, 38, 39.
    • Anger is unreasonable and foolish, 39.
    • It disfigures the countenance, 40.
    • Tends to one’s dishonor and discredit, 41.
    • Produces absurd and insulting speeches, 42.
    • Is disingenuous and unmanly, 42.
    • Indicates a weak mind, 42.
    • Discovers meanness of spirit, 43.
    • Fortitude consists with a mild temper, 44.
    • Anger can destroy, it Edition: current; Page: [xxvi] cannot restore, 46.
    • It often overreaches itself, 47.
    • Excessive urgency often fails of success, 47.
    • Forbearance towards servants urged, 48.
    • Anger towards servants makes them worse, 48.
    • Never punish in anger, 49.
    • Allow anger to cool, 49.
    • No harm arises from deferring anger, 49.
    • Causes of anger examined; we think we incur contempt without it, 50;
    • it arises from self-love, 52;
    • and a spirit of fault-finding, 52.
    • The absence of these makes a man gentle towards others, 53, 54
    • Nobody can dwell with an angry man, 54.
    • Anger, the essence of all bad passions, 56.
    • Good temper in us will disarm others, 55.
    • Moderate expectations prevent anger, 56.
    • Knowledge of human nature softens anger, 57.
    • Make trial for a few days of abstinence from anger, 59.

    • Bashfulness defined, 60.
    • Two extremes: too much or too little modesty; both to be avoided, 61
    • Bashfulness, an excess of modesty, 61. 62.
    • It is injurious, 62,
    • leaves a person at the mercy of others, 63;
    • a bashful person is liable to imposition, 63;
    • many are thus ruined, 64.
    • Deny an unreasonable request, 65.
    • The fear of giving offence — bashfulness — hinders the proper care of our health, and of our property, 67, 68;
    • exposes to the very evils it seeks to avoid, 69.
    • The people of Asia are slaves, because they cannot say, “No,” 69.
    • Deny recommendation to those not known to be worthy, 71.
    • Undertake no services to which you are not competent, 72.
    • Cheerfully render good offices to those that deserve them, 72;
    • but deny them to the unworthy, 73.
    • We may not violate law and justice to please anybody, 74.
    • Men who would dread to blunder in a matter of literature, often violate law, 74.
    • Err not from the right, either from fear or flattery, 76.
    • Remember what bashfulness has cost us, 77.

    • If men may be taught to sing, dance, and read; to be skilful husbandmen and good riders, — why not to order their lives aright? 78.
    • The practice of virtue is immensely more important than graceful speech and manners, 79.
    • If things of trifling moment may be taught, much more things of the deepest concern, 80.

    • Institutions of Lycurgus, 82.
    • The citizens ate at one table, 82.
    • Conversation at the table, 82.
    • The food: black broth, 83;
    • spare diet, 84.
    • Learning, philosophy, mechanic trades, theatrical performances, utterly banished, 85.
    • Scanty apparel, 86;
    • hard beds, 86;
    • social attachments, 86.
    • A strict watch kept over the young, 87.
    • Respect to the aged, 88.
    • Control by the aged of other people’s children, 88, 89.
    • Children allowed to steal, if the theft were carefully concealed, 89.
    • The Spartan poetry and music, 90;
    • martial music, 91.
    • Tenacity of ancient customs, 92.
    • Funerals, 92, 93;
    • inscriptions, 98.
    • Foreign travel prohibited, 93.
    • A community Edition: current; Page: [xxvii] of children, 93;
    • and of goods and estates, 94.
    • Their warlike expeditions, 94.
    • Their religious worship, 95.
    • The Helots, when drunk, exhibited before the children, 96.
    • None but grave poetry allowed, 96.
    • Meekness and forgiveness of injuries not tolerated, 97.
    • A laconic style of speaking practised, 98.
    • Whipping of boys annually before the altar of Diana, 98.
    • Neglect of maritime affairs, 99.
    • Gold and silver banished, 99.
    • Final overthrow of the institutions of Lycurgus 100.

    • Principles of Greek music: the tetrachord, heptachord, octachord; scale of fifteen notes, 102, 103, note.
    • History of music, 104, et seq.
    • The lyre, 105.
    • Amphion, Linus, Anthes, Pierus, Philammon, Thamyras, &c., 105.
    • Terpander, an inventor, 105, 106, 109, 112, 122.
    • Olympus, 107, 109, 123;
    • Hyagnis, 107;
    • Clonas, 107.
    • History of wind instruments, 108;
    • the flute, ib.
    • Three musical moods, — the Dorian, the Phrygian, the Lydian, 109.
    • Makers of paeans, 110.
    • The enharmonic species of music, 110.
    • Its relations to the diatonic and chromatic, 111.
    • Varieties of rhythm, 112.
    • The harp an invention of Apollo, 113.
    • His statue at Delos a proof of this, ib.
    • Manly and grave music used by the ancients for its worth, 114.
    • The moderns have introduced an inferior sort, 114.
    • The Lydian mood, 114;
    • the Dorian, 115.
    • The chromatic more ancient than the enharmonic scale, 116;
    • though many of the ancient musicians did not use it, 117.
    • Plato’s remarks on harmony, 118.
    • Music a mathematical science, 119.
    • Harmony as related to the senses, 121.
    • Why the Greeks were so careful to teach their children music, 121.
    • The high purposes of music, 121, 122.
    • Archilochus, his improvements, 122, 123.
    • Improvements of Polymnestus, 107, 123.
    • Improvements of Lasus, 123.
    • Decline of the ancient music, 123–125.
    • To learn music, philosophy is needful, 126.
    • Music too much a thing of chance, 126.
    • A sound judgment is necessary, 127.
    • A perfect judgment of music not derived from a partial knowledge, 129.
    • Degeneracy of modern music, 130.
    • Benefits of a proper acquaintance with music, 132;
    • facts in proof of this, 133.

    • Plutarch salutes his friend Paccius, 136.
    • Worldly honor or wealth cannot procure quietness of mind, 137.
    • We should fortify ourselves against trouble, ib.
    • Tranquillity of mind not to be procured by neglect of public or private duty, ib.
    • Idleness is to many an affliction, 138.
    • Changes in life do not remove causes of disquiet, 140.
    • The mind itself renders life pleasant or otherwise, 141.
    • Make the best of our circumstances, 142.
    • Wise men derive benefit even from affliction, 142.
    • No trouble can arise, but good may come of it, 143.
    • Be not soured with the perverseness of others, 144;
    • nor fret at their failings, 145.
    • A consideration of the good we enjoy may help us bear our afflictions, 146.
    • Thus balancing one against the other, 147.
    • Consider what the loss would be of our present enjoyments, 148.
    • Cultivate a contented mind, 148, 149.
    • The want of which creates suffering, 149.
    • Look at those worse off than ourselves, 150.
    • Every one has his particular trouble, 151;
    • therefore give no place to envy, ib.
    • Do not repine Edition: current; Page: [xxviii] because some things are beyond your reach, 152.
    • Let every man know what he can do and be contented with doing it, 154.
    • Let alone what you are not capable of, 155.
    • It is wise to call to mind past enjoyment, 156.
    • Do not distress yourself by dwelling on past sorrows, nor give way to despondency of the future, 157, 158.
    • Neither be too sanguine in your hopes, 159.
    • Afflictions come as a matter of necessity, 161.
    • Outward sufferings do not reach our nobler part, the mind, 162.
    • Death not a real, ultimate evil, 163.
    • The wise man may look down on things terrible to the vulgar, 164.
    • Guilt produces remorse, 165.
    • A clear conscience a rich possession, 165.
    • Life should be full of joy, 166.
    • That it is not to some is their own fault, 167.

    • Ignorance respecting God may lead either to atheism or superstition, 168.
    • Atheism and superstition compared, 168, et seq.
    • Atheism tends to indifference, superstition to terror, 169.
    • Superstition infuses into the mind a constant alarm and dread, 170.
    • Superstition allows of no escape from fear, it permits no hope, 172.
    • It perverts the moral sense, 173, 174.
    • The atheist may be fretful and impatient; the superstitious man charges all his misfortunes and troubles to God, 175.
    • Is full of unreasonable apprehensions, 176.
    • Converts tolerable evils into fatal ones, 177.
    • Misinterprets the course of nature, 177.
    • Is afraid of things that will not hurt him, 177.
    • Allows himself no enjoyment, 178.
    • Entertains dishonorable thoughts of God, 180;
    • and thus is morally wrong, 181.
    • He secretly hates God, and would have no God, 181.
    • Superstition affords an apology for atheism, 182
    • Superstition of the Gauls, Scythians, and Carthaginians; they offered human sacrifices, 182, 183.
    • In avoiding superstition do not fall into atheism, 184.


    • Introduction, 251.
    • The hands to be kept always warm, 252.
    • Accustom yourself in health to the food proper in sickness, 253.
    • Avoid all excess in eating and drinking, especially at feasts, 254.
    • Be prepared to excuse yourself if invited to drink to excess, 255.
    • Partake of agreeable food and drink, when needful; otherwise not, 256.
    • Lean to the side of moderation and abstinence, rather than the gratification of appetite, 257.
    • Intemperance is as destructive of pleasure as of health, 258.
    • Sickness may be avoided by the use of a moderate diet, 259.
    • A luxurious course of living adds to the force of other causes of disease, 260
    • Be especially careful of what you do, when threatened with illness, 261.
    • When the body is out of order, things that are otherwise pleasant become disgusting, 262.
    • Extreme carefulness in our diet should be avoided, 263.
    • Disturbed sleep and distressing dreams show a diseased state of body, 264.
    • Avoid things which have Edition: current; Page: [xxix] proved causes of disease to others, 264, 265.
    • Reading or speaking aloud is to a scholar conducive to health, 266.
    • Yet this must not be carried to excess, 267.
    • The cold bath not to be used after exercise; use the warm bath, 268.
    • Use solid food cautiously and sparingly; light food more freely, 268.
    • Drink wine diluted with water, or water simply, 269, 270.
    • After supper, there should be a considerable interval, to be occupied with gentle exercise either of body or mind, 271, 272.
    • Sufferers from gluttony or excess should not attempt to relieve themselves by physic but by abstinence, 273.
    • Do not fast when there is no need, 274.
    • Idleness is not conducive to health, 275.
    • After severe labor, allow the body to rest, even from pleasure, 276.
    • A man should well study his own case, and know what he can bear, 277.
    • The body and the mind must deal carefully with each other, 278, 279.

    • Ill-will always to be expected, 280.
    • It is not enough that our enemies do us no harm, 281.
    • We may not be able to change bad men into good men, 282.
    • But it is possible to derive good even from bad men, 283.
    • An enemy, in order to discover our failings, carefully watches all our movements and affairs, 283.
    • Learn from this to be wary and circumspect, 284.
    • Learn to be discreet and sober, and to give offence to nobody, 285.
    • Live above reproach, 286, 287.
    • When censured and accused, examine if there be just cause for it, 288.
    • Be willing to hear the truth even from the lips of enemies, 289.
    • If accused unjustly, avoid even the appearance of the supposed wrong, 290.
    • Have you given any occasion for the false accusation? 291.
    • Learn to keep the tongue in subjection, 292.
    • Be magnanimous and kind to your enemy, 293.
    • Indulge no malignant passion, 294.
    • Envy not your enemy’s success, 297.

    • The son of Apollonius had died, 299.
    • Apathy and excessive grief are alike unnatural and improper, 300.
    • Avoid both of these extremes, 300.
    • Uninterrupted happiness is not to be expected, 302.
    • Every thing is subject to change, 303.
    • Evil is to be expected, 304, 305.
    • Sorrow will not remove suffering, 306, 307.
    • Others are in trouble besides ourselves, 308.
    • Why should death be considered so great an evil? 308.
    • Death is but the debt of nature, 309.
    • Death is inevitable, and the termination of all human calamity, 310.
    • Death is the brother of sleep, 311.
    • Death divests us of the body, and thus frees us from great evil, 312.
    • The gods have often sent death as a reward for distinguished piety; illustrated by the cases of Biton and Cleobis, of Agamedes and Trophonius, of Pindar and Euthynous, 313, 314.
    • Even if death be the extinction of our being, it is no evil, and why, 315.
    • Even untimely death may shield from evil, 317.
    • Not long life, but virtuous is desirable, 317, 318.
    • Sorrow for the dead may proceed from selfish considerations, 319.
    • Does the mourner intend to cherish grief as long as he lives? 320.
    • Excessive grief is unmanly, 321.
    • An untimely death differs not much from that which is timely, 322.
    • It may be desirable, 323, 324.
    • Excessive Edition: current; Page: [xxx] grief is unreasonable, 325.
    • The state of the dead is better than that of the living, 326.
    • The evil in the world far exceeds the good, 327.
    • Life is a loan, soon to be recalled, 327.
    • Some people are querulous and can never be satisfied, 329.
    • Death is fixed by fate, 331.
    • Life is short, and should not be wasted in unavailing sorrow, 332.
    • Derive comfort from the example of those who have borne the death of their sons bravely, 332, 333.
    • Providence wisely disposes, 335.
    • Your son died at the best time for him, 335.
    • He is now numbered with the blest, 336.
    • The conclusion; a touching appeal to Apollonius, 339.

    • It is right to praise virtuous women, 340.
    • Virtue in man and woman is the same, 340;
    • even as the poetic art in man and woman is the same, 341.
    • There may be variety, yet unity, 341.
    • Virtue of the Trojan women after landing in Italy, 342.
    • Of the Phocian women in the war with the Thessalians, 343.
    • Of the women of Chios, 344.
    • Of the Argive women and their repulse of the Spartan army, 346.
    • Of the Persian women, 347.
    • Of the Celtic women, 347.
    • Of the Melian women, 348.
    • Of the Tyrrhene women, 349.
    • Of the Lycian women, 351.
    • Of the women of Salmantica in Spain, 352.
    • Of the maidens of Miletus, bent on self-murder, and how this was prevented, 354.
    • Of the maids of Cios, 354.
    • Of the women of Phocis during the Sacred War, 355.
    • Of the Roman Lucretia, Valeria, and Cloelia, 355–357.
    • Of Micca and Megisto, and other women of Elis, during the tyranny of Aristotimus, 357–363.
    • Of Pieria and other women of Myus, at Miletus, 363, 364.
    • Of Polycrita in the war between Naxos and Miletus, 364–366.
    • Of Lampsace, 366.
    • Of Aretaphila, and how she delivered Cyrene from tyranny, 367–371.
    • Of Camma the Galatian, 372.
    • Of Stratonica of Galatia, 373.
    • Of Chiomara of Galatia, 374.
    • Of the women of Pergamus, 374.
    • Of Timoclea at the taking of Thebes, 376.
    • Of Eryxo of Cyrene, 378.
    • Of Xenocrita of Cumae, 380.
    • Of Pythes the Lydian and his wife, 382.

    • Introduction, addressed to Nicander, a young man, 441.
    • Remarks on hearing in general, 442.
    • Of the sense of hearing, as an inlet of thought and feeling, 442.
    • A guard to be placed over it, 443.
    • How to hear with benefit, 443.
    • Faults to be avoided, 444.
    • In hearing a discourse, hear with attention to the close, 445.
    • Guard against envy and ill-nature, 445, 446.
    • Hear with calmness and candor, 446.
    • Endeavor to reap advantage from the speaker’s faults, 447.
    • Yield not to undue admiration, 448.
    • Examine the argument of the speaker apart from his expression, 449.
    • Separate the substance of a discourse from its accessories, 450, 451
    • Interrupt not the speaker with trifling questions, 452.
    • Propose no impertinent questions, 453.
    • Wait till the proper time for asking, 453.
    • Withhold not praise when it is due, 454.
    • Yet bestow not inordinate praise, 455.
    • Something worthy of praise may be found in every discourse, 456.
    • The hearer owes a duty to the speaker no less than the speaker to the hearer, 457.
    • Be not indiscriminate in your praises, 458.
    • Bear admonition in a proper spirit, 459.
    • If you find difficulties in the lecturer’s instructions, ask him to explain, 460, 461.
    • Concluding exhortation, 462, 463.
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    • True friendship a thing of rare occurrence, 464.
    • In the early times, friends went in pairs, Orestes and Pylades, &c., 465.
    • True friendship cannot embrace a multitude, 466.
    • If we have numerous acquaintances, there should be one eminently a friend, 466.
    • The requisites to a true friendship, 467.
    • The difficulty of finding a true friend, 467.
    • Be not hasty in getting friends, 468.
    • Admit none to your confidence without long and thorough trial, 468.
    • As true friendship cements two hearts into one, so a large acquaintance divides and distracts the heart, 469.
    • We cannot discharge the obligations of friendship to a multitude, 470;
    • therefore do not attempt it, 471.
    • Joining one’s self intimately to another involves one in his calamities, 472.
    • Real friendship always has its origin in likeness, even in brutes, 472.
    • There must be a substantial oneness, 473.
    • Therefore it is next to a miracle to find a constant and sure friend, 474.

    • Did he receive his empire as the gift of Fortune? By no means, 475.
    • It was acquired at the expense of many severe wounds, 476, 507;
    • of many hardships and much daring, 477;
    • as the issue of his training under Aristotle, 478.
    • He was himself a great philosopher, 479.
    • He was the great civilizer of Asia, 480.
    • He realized the dreams of philosophers by making the world his country, 481.
    • Uniting the Greeks and the barbarians, 482.
    • Gaining the affection of the vanquished, 483.
    • Aiming to establish universal brotherhood, 484.
    • His philosophy as exhibited in his recorded sayings, 485–489.
    • His generous conduct, 490.
    • His patronage of learned men, 491.
    • So different from other monarchs, 492.
    • His magnanimity, 495.
    • Such a man owes little to Fortune, 496.
    • Contrasted with Sardanapalus, 497.
    • His greatness as seen in the confusion which followed his death, 498.
    • Fortune cannot make an Alexander, 499.
    • His silly imitators attest his greatness, 501.
    • His self-government, 502.
    • The Persian empire was overthrown, not by Fortune, but by the superior genius and virtue of Alexander, 503.
    • Alexander owed nothing to Fortune, 506.
    • His wisdom, his prowess, his many wounds, his constancy and energy, procured his great success, 507–511.
    • Compared with the ablest men of antiquity, he is superior to all, 512, 513.
    • His daring courage, great dangers, and marvellous escape, while besieging a town of the Oxydracae, 513–516.
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ModernGreek: 1. The course which ought to be taken for the training of free-born children, and the means whereby their manners may be rendered virtuous, will, with the reader’s leave, be the subject of our present disquisition.

ModernGreek: 2. In the management of which, perhaps it may be expedient to take our rise from their very procreation. I would therefore, in the first place, advise those who desire to become the parents of famous and eminent children, that they keep not company with all women that they light on; I mean such as harlots, or concubines. For such children as are blemished in their birth, either by the father’s or the mother’s side, are liable to be pursued, as long as they live, with the indelible infamy of their base extraction, as that which offers a ready occasion to all that desire to take hold of it of reproaching and disgracing them therewith. So that it was a wise speech of the poet who said, —

  • Misfortune on that family’s entailed,
  • Whose reputation in its founder failed.*

Wherefore, since to be well born gives men a good stock of confidence, the consideration hereof ought to be of no small value to such as desire to leave behind them a lawful issue. For the spirits of men who are alloyed and Edition: current; Page: [4] counterfeit in their birth are naturally enfeebled and debased; as rightly said the poet again, —

  • A bold and daring spirit is often daunted,
  • When with the guilt of parents’ crimes ’tis haunted.*

So, on the contrary, a certain loftiness and natural gallantry of spirit is wont to fill the breasts of those who are born of illustrious parents. Of which Diophantus, the young son of Themistocles, is a notable instance; for he is reported to have made his boast often and in many companies, that whatsoever pleased him pleased also all Athens: for whatever he liked, his mother liked; and whatever his mother liked, Themistocles liked; and whatever Themistocles liked, all the Athenians liked. Wherefore it was gallantly done of the Lacedaemonian States, when they laid a round fine on their king Archidamus for marrying a little woman, giving this reason for their so doing: that he meant to beget for them not kings, but kinglings.

ModernGreek: 3. The advice which I am, in the next place, about to give, is, indeed, no other than what hath been given by those who have undertaken this argument before me. You will ask me what is that? It is this: that no man keep company with his wife for issue’s sake but when he is sober, having drunk either no wine, or at least not such a quantity as to distemper him; for they usually prove winebibbers and drunkards, whose parents begot them when they were drunk. Wherefore Diogenes said to a stripling somewhat crack-brained and half-witted: Surely, young man, thy father begot thee when he was drunk. Let this suffice to be spoken concerning the procreation of children: and let us pass thence to their education.

ModernGreek: 4. And here, to speak summarily, what we are wont to say of arts and sciences may be said also concerning virtue: that there is a concurrence of three things requisite to the Edition: current; Page: [5] completing thereof in practice, — which are nature, reason, and use. Now by reason here I would be understood to mean learning; and by use, exercise. Now the principles come from instruction, the practice comes from exercise, and perfection from all three combined. And accordingly as either of the three is deficient, virtue must needs be defective. For if nature be not improved by instruction, it is blind; if instruction be not assisted by nature, it is maimed; and if exercise fail of the assistance of both, it is imperfect as to the attainment of its end. And as in husbandry it is first requisite that the soil be fertile, next that the husbandman be skilful, and lastly that the seed he sows be good; so here nature resembles the soil, the instructor of youth the husbandman, and the rational principles and precepts which are taught, the seed. And I would peremptorily affirm that all these met and jointly conspired to the completing of the souls of those universally celebrated men, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, together with all others whose eminent worth hath gotten them immortal glory. And happy is that man certainly, and well-beloved of the Gods, on whom by the bounty of any of them all these are conferred.

And yet if any one thinks that those in whom Nature hath not thoroughly done her part may not in some measure make up her defects, if they be so happy as to light upon good teaching, and withal apply their own industry towards the attainment of virtue, he is to know that he is very much, nay, altogether, mistaken. For as a good natural capacity may be impaired by slothfulness, so dull and heavy natural parts may be improved by instruction; and whereas negligent students arrive not at the capacity of understanding the most easy things, those who are industrious conquer the greatest difficulties. And many instances we may observe, that give us a clear demonstration of the mighty force and successful efficacy of labor and industry. Edition: current; Page: [6] For water continually dropping will wear hard rocks hollow; yea, iron and brass are worn out with constant handling. Nor can we, if we would, reduce the felloes of a cart-wheel to their former straightness, when once they have been bent by force; yea, it is above the power of force to straighten the bended staves sometimes used by actors upon the stage. So far is that which labor effects, though against nature, more potent than what is produced according to it. Yea, have we not many millions of instances more which evidence the force of industry? Let us see in some few that follow. A man’s ground is of itself good; yet, if it be unmanured, it will contract barrenness; and the better it was naturally, so much the more is it ruined by carelessness, if it be ill-husbanded. On the other side, let a man’s ground be more than ordinarily rough and rugged; yet experience tells us that, if it be well manured, it will be quickly made capable of bearing excellent fruit. Yea, what sort of tree is there which will not, if neglected, grow crooked and unfruitful; and what but will, if rightly ordered, prove fruitful and bring its fruit to maturity? What strength of body is there which will not lose its vigor and fall to decay by laziness, nice usage, and debauchery? And, on the contrary, where is the man of never so crazy a natural constitution, who cannot render himself far more robust, if he will only give himself to exercises of activity and strength? What horse well managed from a colt proves not easily governable by the rider? And where is there one to be found which, if not broken betimes, proves not stiff-necked and unmanageable? Yea, why need we wonder at any thing else when we see the wildest beasts made tame and brought to hand by industry? And lastly, as to men themselves, that Thessalian answered not amiss, who, being asked which of his countrymen were the meekest, replied: Those that have received their discharge from the wars.

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But what need of multiplying more words in this matter, when even the notion of the word [Editor: illegible character]θος in the Greek language imports continuance, and he that should call moral virtues customary virtues would seem to speak not incongruously? I shall conclude this part of my discourse, therefore, with the addition of one only instance. Lycurgus, the Lacedaemonian lawgiver, once took two whelps of the same litter, and ordered them to be bred in a quite different manner; whereby the one became dainty and ravenous, and the other of a good scent and skilled in hunting; which done, a while after he took occasion thence in an assembly of the Lacedaemonians to discourse in this manner: Of great weight in the attainment of virtue, fellow-citizens, are habits, instruction, precepts, and indeed the whole manner of life, — as I will presently let you see by example. And, withal, he ordered the producing those two whelps into the midst of the hall, where also there were set down before them a plate and a live hare. Whereupon, as they had been bred, the one presently flies upon the hare, and the other as greedily runs to the plate. And while the people were musing, not perfectly apprehending what he meant by producing those whelps thus, he added: These whelps were both of one litter, but differently bred; the one, you see, has turned out a greedy cur, and the other a good hound. And this shall suffice to be spoken concerning custom and different ways of living.

ModernGreek: 5. The next thing that falls under our consideration is the nursing of children, which, in my judgment, the mothers should do themselves, giving their own breasts to those they have borne. For this office will certainly be performed with more tenderness and carefulness by natural mothers, who will love their children intimately, as the saying is, from their tender nails.* Whereas, both wet and dry nurses, who are hired, love only for their pay, Edition: current; Page: [8] and are affected to their work as ordinarily those that are substituted and deputed in the place of others are. Yea, even Nature seems to have assigned the suckling and nursing of the issue to those that bear them; for which cause she hath bestowed upon every living creature that brings forth young, milk to nourish them withal. And, in conformity thereto, Providence hath also wisely ordered that women should have two breasts, that so, if any of them should happen to bear twins, they might have two several springs of nourishment ready for them. Though, if they had not that furniture, mothers would still be more kind and loving to their own children. And that not without reason; for constant feeding together is a great means to heighten the affection mutually betwixt any persons. Yea, even beasts, when they are separated from those that have grazed with them, do in their way show a longing for the absent. Wherefore, as I have said, mothers themselves should strive to the utmost to nurse their own children. But if they find it impossible to do it themselves, either because of bodily weakness (and such a case may fall out), or because they are apt to be quickly with child again, then are they to chose the honestest nurses they can get, and not to take whomsoever they have offered them. And the first thing to be looked after in this choice is, that the nurses be bred after the Greek fashion. For as it is needful that the members of children be shaped aright as soon as they are born, that they may not afterwards prove crooked and distorted, so it is no less expedient that their manners be well fashioned from the very beginning. For childhood is a tender thing, and easily wrought into any shape. Yea, and the very souls of children readily receive the impressions of those things that are dropped into them while they are yet but soft; but when they grow older, they will, as all hard things are, be more difficult to be wrought upon. And as soft wax is apt to take the stamp of the seal, so are the Edition: current; Page: [9] minds of children to receive the instructions imprinted on them at that age. Whence, also, it seems to me good advice which divine Plato gives to nurses, not to tell all sorts of common tales to children in infancy, lest thereby their minds should chance to be filled with foolish and corrupt notions.* The like good counsel Phocylides, the poet, seems to give in this verse of his:—

  • If we’ll have virtuous children, we should choose
  • Their tenderest age good principles to infuse.

ModernGreek: 6. Nor are we to omit taking due care, in the first place, that those children who are appointed to attend upon such young nurslings, and to be bred with them for play-fellows, be well-mannered, and next that they speak plain, natural Greek; lest, being constantly used to converse with persons of a barbarous language and evil manners, they receive corrupt tinctures from them. For it is a true proverb, that if you live with a lame man, you will learn to halt.

ModernGreek: 7. Next, when a child is arrived at such an age as to be put under the care of pedagogues, great care is to be used that we be not deceived in them, and so commit our children to slaves or barbarians or cheating fellows. For it is a course never enough to be laughed at which many men nowadays take in this affair; for if any of their servants be better than the rest, they dispose some of them to follow husbandry, some to navigation, some to merchandise, some to be stewards in their houses, and some, lastly, to put out their money to use for them. But if they find any slave that is a drunkard or a glutton, and unfit for any other business, to him they assign the government of their children; whereas, a good pedagogue ought to be such a one in his disposition as Phoenix, tutor to Achilles, was.

And now I come to speak of that which is a greater matter, and of more concern than any that I have said. Edition: current; Page: [10] We are to look after such masters for our children as are blameless in their lives, not justly reprovable for their manners, and of the best experience in teaching. For the very spring and root of honesty and virtue lies in the felicity of lighting on good education. And as husbandmen are wont to set forks to prop up feeble plants, so do honest schoolmasters prop up youth by careful instructions and admonitions, that they may duly bring forth the buds of good manners. But there are certain fathers nowadays who deserve that men should spit on them in contempt, who, before making any proof of those to whom they design to commit the teaching of their children, either through unacquaintance, or, as it sometimes falls out, through unskilfulness, intrust them to men of no good reputation, or, it may be, such as are branded with infamy. Although they are not altogether so ridiculous, if they offend herein through unskilfulness; but it is a thing most extremely absurd, when, as oftentimes it happens, though they know and are told beforehand, by those who understand better than themselves, both of the inability and rascality of certain schoolmasters, they nevertheless commit the charge of their children to them, sometimes overcome by their fair and flattering speeches, and sometimes prevailed on to gratify friends who entreat them. This is an error of like nature with that of the sick man, who, to please his friends, forbears to send for the physician that might save his life by his skill, and employs a mountebank that quickly dispatcheth him out of the world; or of him who refuses a skilful shipmaster, and then, at his friend’s entreaty, commits the care of his vessel to one that is therein much his inferior. In the name of Jupiter and all the Gods, tell me how can that man deserve the name of a father, who is more concerned to gratify others in their requests, than to have his children well educated? Or, is not that rather fitly applicable to this case, which Socrates, Edition: current; Page: [11] that ancient philosopher, was wont to say, — that, if he could get up to the highest place in the city, he would lift up his voice and make this proclamation thence: “What mean you, fellow-citizens, that you thus turn every stone to scrape wealth together, and take so little care of your children, to whom, one day, you must relinquish it all?” — to which I would add this, that such parents do like him that is solicitous about his shoe, but neglects the foot that is to wear it. And yet many fathers there are, who so love their money and hate their children, that, lest it should cost them more than they are willing to spare to hire a good schoolmaster for them, they rather choose such persons to instruct their children as are of no worth; thereby beating down the market, that they may purchase ignorance cheap. It was, therefore, a witty and handsome jeer which Aristippus bestowed on a sottish father, who asked him what he would take to teach his child. He answered, A thousand drachms. Whereupon the other cried out: O Hercules, what a price you ask! for I can buy a slave at that rate. Do so, then, said the philosopher, and thou shalt have two slaves instead of one, — thy son for one, and him thou buyest for another. Lastly, how absurd it is, when thou accustomest thy children to take their food with their right hands, and chidest them if they receive it with their left, yet thou takest no care at all that the principles that are infused into them be right and regular.

And now I will tell you what ordinarily is like to befall such prodigious parents, when they have had their sons ill nursed and worse taught. For when such sons are arrived at man’s estate, and, through contempt of a sound and orderly way of living, precipitate themselves into all manner of disorderly and servile pleasures, then will those parents dearly repent of their own neglect of their children’s education, when it is too late to amend it; and vex Edition: current; Page: [12] themselves, even to distraction, at their vicious courses. For then do some of those children acquaint themselves with flatterers and parasites, a sort of infamous and execrable persons, the very pests that corrupt and ruin young men; others maintain mistresses and harlots, insolent and extravagant; others waste their substance; others, again, come to shipwreck on gaming and revelling. And some venture on still more audacious crimes, committing adultery and joining in the orgies of Bacchus, being ready to purchase one bout of debauched pleasure at the price of their lives. If now they had but conversed with some philosopher, they would never have enslaved themselves to such courses as these; though possibly they might have learned at least to put in practice the precept of Diogenes, delivered by him indeed in rude language, but yet containing, as to the scope of it, a great truth, when he advised a young man to go to the public stews, that he might then inform himself, by experience, how things of greatest value and things of no value at all were there of equal worth.

ModernGreek: 8. In brief therefore I say (and what I say may justly challenge the repute of an oracle rather than of advice), that the one chief thing in this matter — which compriseth the beginning, middle, and end of all — is good education and regular instruction; and that these two afford great help and assistance towards the attainment of virtue and felicity. For all other good things are but human and of small value, such as will hardly recompense the industry required to the getting of them. It is, indeed, a desirable thing to be well descended; but the glory belongs to our ancestors. Riches are valuable; but they are the goods of Fortune, who frequently takes them from those that have them, and carries them to those that never so much as hoped for them. Yea, the greater they are, the fairer mark are they for those to aim at who design to make our bags their prize; I mean evil servants and accusers. But Edition: current; Page: [13] the weightiest consideration of all is, that riches may be enjoyed by the worst as well as the best of men. Glory is a thing deserving respect, but unstable; beauty is a prize that men fight to obtain, but, when obtained, it is of little continuance; health is a precious enjoyment, but easily impaired; strength is a thing desirable, but apt to be the prey of diseases and old age. And, in general, let any man who values himself upon strength of body know that he makes a great mistake; for what indeed is any proportion of human strength, if compared to that of other animals, such as elephants and bulls and lions? But learning alone, of all things in our possession, is immortal and divine. And two things there are that are most peculiar to human nature, reason and speech; of which two, reason is the master of speech, and speech is the servant of reason, impregnable against all assaults of fortune, not to be taken away by false accusation, nor impaired by sickness, nor enfeebled by old age. For reason alone grows youthful by age; and time, which decays all other things, increaseth knowledge in us in our decaying years. Yea, war itself, which like a winter torrent bears down all other things before it and carries them away with it, leaves learning alone behind. Whence the answer seems to me very remarkable, which Stilpo, a philosopher of Megara, gave to Demetrius, who, when he levelled that city to the ground and made all the citizens bondmen, asked Stilpo whether he had lost any thing. Nothing, said he, for war cannot plunder virtue. To this saying that of Socrates also is very agreeable; who, when Gorgias (as I take it) asked him what his opinion was of the king of Persia, and whether he judged him happy, returned answer, that he could not tell what to think of him, because he knew not how he was furnished with virtue and learning, — as judging human felicity to consist in those endowments, and not in those which are subject to fortune.

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ModernGreek: 9. Moreover, as it is my advice to parents that they make the breeding up of their children to learning the chiefest of their care, so I here add, that the learning they ought to train them up unto should be sound and wholesome, and such as is most remote from those trifles which suit the popular humor. For to please the many is to displease the wise. To this saying of mine that of Euripides himself bears witness: —

  • I’m better skilled to treat a few, my peers,
  • Than in a crowd to tickle vulgar ears;
  • Though others have the luck on’t, when they babble
  • Most to the wise, then most to please the rabble.*

Besides, I find by my own observation, that those persons who make it their business to speak so as to deserve the favor and approbation of the scum of the people, ordinarily live at a suitable rate, voluptuously and intemperately. And there is reason for it. For they who have no regard to what is honest, so they may make provision for other men’s pleasures, will surely not be very propense to prefer what is right and wholesome before that which gratifies their own inordinate pleasures and luxurious inclinations, and to quit that which humors them for that which restrains them.

If any one ask what the next thing is wherein I would have children instructed, and to what further good qualities I would have them inured, I answer, that I think it advisable that they neither speak nor do any thing rashly; for, according to the proverb, the best things are the most difficult. But extemporary discourses are full of much ordinary and loose stuff, nor do such speakers well know where to begin or where to make an end. And besides other faults which those who speak suddenly are commonly guilty of, they are commonly liable to this great one, that they multiply words without measure; whereas, Edition: current; Page: [15] premeditation will not suffer a man to enlarge his discourse beyond a due proportion. To this purpose it is reported of Pericles, that, being often called upon by the people to speak, he would not, because (as he said) he was unprepared. And Demosthenes also, who imitated him in the managery of public affairs, when the Athenians urged him to give his counsel, refused it with this answer: I have not yet prepared myself. Though it may be that this story is a mere fiction, brought down to us by uncertain tradition, without any credible author. But Demosthenes, in his oration against Midias, clearly sets forth the usefulness of premeditation. For there he says: “I confess, O ye Athenians! that I came hither provided to speak; and I will by no means deny that I have spent my utmost study upon the composing this oration. For it had been a pitiful omission in me, if, having suffered and still suffering such things, I should have neglected that which in this cause was to be spoken by me.”* But here I would not be understood altogether to condemn all readiness to discourse extempore, nor yet to allow the use of it upon such occasions as do not require it; but we are to use it only as we do physic. Still, before a person arrives at complete manhood, I would not permit him to speak upon any sudden incident occasion; though, after he has attained a radicated faculty of speaking, he may allow himself a greater liberty, as opportunity is offered. For as they who have been a long time in chains, when they are at last set at liberty, are unable to walk, on account of their former continual restraint, and are very apt to trip, so they who have been used to a fettered way of speaking a great while, if upon any occasion they be enforced to speak on a sudden, will hardly be able to express themselves without some tokens of their former confinement. But to permit those that are yet children to speak extemporally is to give them Edition: current; Page: [16] occasion for extremely idle talk. A wretched painter, they say, showing Apelles a picture, told him withal that he had taken a very little time to paint it. If thou hadst not told me so, said Apelles, I see cause enough to believe it was a hasty draught; but I wonder that in that space of time thou hast not painted many more such pictures.

I advise therefore (for I return now to the subject that I have digressed from) the shunning and avoiding, not merely of a starched, theatrical, and over-tragical form of speaking, but also of that which is too low and mean. For that which is too swelling is not fit for the managery of public affairs; and that, on the other side, which is too thin is very inapt to work any notable impression upon the hearers. For as it is not only requisite that a man’s body be healthy, but also that it be of a firm constitution, so ought a discourse to be not only sound, but nervous also. For though such as is composed cautiously may be commended, yet that is all it can arrive at; whereas that which hath some adventurous passages in it is admired also. And my opinion is the same concerning the affections of the speaker’s mind. For he must be neither of a too confident nor of a too mean and dejected spirit; for the one is apt to lead to impudence, the other to servility; and much of the orator’s art, as well as great circumspection, is required to direct his course skilfully betwixt the two.

And now (whilst I am handling this point concerning the instruction of children) I will also give you my judgment concerning the frame of a discourse; which is this, that to compose it in all parts uniformly not only is a great argument of a defect in learning, but also is apt, I think, to nauseate the auditory when it is practised; and in no case can it give lasting pleasure. For to sing the same tune, as the saying is, is in every thing cloying and offensive; but men are generally pleased with variety, as in speeches and pageants, so in all other entertainments.

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ModernGreek: 10. Wherefore, though we ought not to permit an ingenuous child entirely to neglect any of the common sorts of learning, so far as they may be gotten by lectures or from public shows; yet I would have him to salute these only as in his passage, taking a bare taste of each of them (seeing no man can possibly attain to perfection in all), and to give philosophy the pre-eminence of them all. I can illustrate my meaning by an example. It is a fine thing to sail round and visit many cities, but it is profitable to fix our dwelling in the best. Witty also was the saying of Bias, the philosopher, that, as the wooers of Penelope, when they could not have their desire of the mistress, contented themselves to have to do with her maids, so commonly those students who are not capable of understanding philosophy waste themselves in the study of those sciences that are of no value. Whence it follows, that we ought to make philosophy the chief of all our learning. For though, in order to the welfare of the body, the industry of men hath found out two arts, — medicine, which assists to the recovery of lost health and gymnastics, which help us to attain a sound constitution, — yet there is but one remedy for the distempers and diseases of the mind, and that is philosophy. For by the advice and assistance thereof it is that we come to understand what is honest, and what dishonest; what is just, and what unjust; in a word, what we are to seek, and what to avoid. We learn by it how we are to demean ourselves towards the Gods, towards our parents, our elders, the laws, strangers, governors, friends, wives, children, and servants. That is, we are to worship the Gods, to honor our parents, to reverence our elders, to be subject to the laws, to obey our governors, to love our friends, to use sobriety towards our wives, to be affectionate to our children, and not to treat our servants insolently; and (which is the chiefest lesson of all) not to be overjoyed in prosperity nor too much dejected in adversity; not to be dissolute in our pleasures, nor in our Edition: current; Page: [18] anger to be transported with brutish rage and fury. These things I account the principal advantages which we gain by philosophy. For to use prosperity generously is the part of a man; to manage it so as to decline envy, of a well governed man; to master our pleasures by reason is the property of wise men; and to moderate anger is the attainment only of extraordinary men. But those of all men I count most complete, who know how to mix and temper the managery of civil affairs with philosophy; seeing they are thereby masters of two of the greatest good things that are, — a life of public usefulness as statesmen, and a life of calm tranquillity as students of philosophy. For, whereas there are three sorts of lives, — the life of action, the life of contemplation, and the life of pleasure, — the man who is utterly abandoned and a slave to pleasure is brutish and mean-spirited; he that spends his time in contemplation without action is an unprofitable man; and he that lives in action and is destitute of philosophy is a rustical man, and commits many absurdities. Wherefore we are to apply our utmost endeavor to enable ourselves for both; that is, to manage public employments, and withal, at convenient seasons, to give ourselves to philosophical studies. Such statesmen were Pericles and Archytas the Tarentine; such were Dion the Syracusan and Epaminondas the Theban, both of whom were of Plato’s familiar acquaintance.

I think it not necessary to spend many more words about this point, the instruction of children in learning. Only it may be profitable at least, or even necessary, not to omit procuring for them the writings of ancient authors, but to make such a collection of them as husbandmen are wont to do of all needful tools. For of the same nature is the use of books to scholars, as being the tools and instruments of learning, and withal enabling them to derive knowledge from its proper fountains.

ModernGreek: 11. In the next place, the exercise of the body must not Edition: current; Page: [19] be neglected; but children must be sent to schools of gymnastics, where they may have sufficient employment that way also. This will conduce partly to a more handsome carriage, and partly to the improvement of their strength. For the foundation of a vigorous old age is a good constitution of the body in childhood. Wherefore, as it is expedient to provide those things in fair weather which may be useful to the mariners in a storm, so is it to keep good order and govern ourselves by rules of temperance in youth, as the best provision we can lay in for age. Yet must they husband their strength, so as not to become dried up (as it were) and destitute of strength to follow their studies. For, according to Plato, sleep and weariness are enemies to the arts.*

But why do I stand so long on these things? I hasten to speak of that which is of the greatest importance, even beyond all that has been spoken of; namely, I would have boys trained for the contests of wars by practice in the throwing of darts, shooting of arrows, and hunting of wild beasts. For we must remember in war the goods of the conquered are proposed as rewards to the conquerors. But war does not agree with a delicate habit of body, used only to the shade; for even one lean soldier that hath been used to military exercises shall overthrow whole troops of mere wrestlers who know nothing of war. But, somebody may say, whilst you profess to give precepts for the education of all free-born children, why do you carry the matter so as to seem only to accommodate those precepts to the rich, and neglect to suit them also to the children of poor men and plebeians? To which objection it is no difficult thing to reply. For it is my desire that all children whatsoever may partake of the benefit of education alike; but if yet any persons, by reason of the narrowness of their estates, cannot Edition: current; Page: [20] make use of my precepts, let them not blame me that give them, but Fortune, which disableth them from making the advantage by them they otherwise might. Though even poor men must use their utmost endeavor to give their children the best education; or, if they cannot, they must bestow upon them the best that their abilities will reach. Thus much I thought fit here to insert in the body of my discourse, that I might the better be enabled to annex what I have yet to add concerning the right training of children.

ModernGreek: 12. I say now, that children are to be won to follow liberal studies by exhortations and rational motives, and on no account to be forced thereto by whipping or any other contumelious punishments. I will not urge that such usage seems to be more agreeable to slaves than to ingenuous children; and even slaves, when thus handled, are dulled and discouraged from the performance of their tasks, partly by reason of the smart of their stripes, and partly because of the disgrace thereby inflicted. But praise and reproof are more effectual upon free-born children than any such disgraceful handling; the former to incite them to what is good, and the latter to restrain them from that which is evil. But we must use reprehensions and commendations alternately, and of various kinds according to the occasion; so that when they grow petulant, they may be shamed by reprehension, and again, when they better deserve it, they may be encouraged by commendations. Wherein we ought to imitate nurses, who, when they have made their infants cry, stop their mouths with the nipple to quiet them again. It is also useful not to give them such large commendations as to puff them up with pride; for this is the ready way to fill them with a vain conceit of themselves, and to enfeeble their minds.

ModernGreek: 13. Moreover, I have seen some parents whose too much love to their children hath occasioned, in truth, their not loving them at all. I will give light to this assertion by an Edition: current; Page: [21] example to those who ask what it means. It is this: while they are over-hasty to advance their children in all sorts of learning beyond their equals, they set them too hard and laborious tasks, whereby they fall under discouragement; and this, with other inconveniences accompanying it, causeth them in the issue to be ill affected to learning itself. For as plants by moderate watering are nourished, but with over-much moisture are glutted, so is the spirit improved by moderate labors, but overwhelmed by such as are excessive. We ought therefore to give children some time to take breath from their constant labors, considering that all human life is divided betwixt business and relaxation. To which purpose it is that we are inclined by nature not only to wake, but to sleep also; that as we have sometimes wars, so likewise at other times peace; as some foul, so other fair days; and, as we have seasons of important business, so also the vacation times of festivals. And, to contract all in a word, rest is the sauce of labor. Nor is it thus in living creatures only, but in things inanimate too. For even in bows and harps, we loosen their strings, that we may bend and wind them up again. Yea, it is universally seen that, as the body is maintained by repletion and evacuation, so is the mind by employment and relaxation.

Those parents, moreover, are to be blamed who, when they have committed their sons to the care of pedagogues or schoolmasters, never see or hear them perform their tasks; wherein they fail much of their duty. For they ought, ever and anon, after the intermission of some days, to make trial of their children’s proficiency; and not intrust their hopes of them to the discretion of a hireling. For even that sort of men will take more care of the children, when they know that they are regularly to be called to account. And here the saying of the king’s groom is very applicable, that nothing made the horse so fat as the king’s eye.

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But we must most of all exercise and keep in constant employment the memory of children; for that is, as it were, the storehouse of all learning. Wherefore the mythologists have made Mnemosyne, or Memory, the mother of the Muses, plainly intimating thereby that nothing doth so beget or nourish learning as memory. Wherefore we must employ it to both those purposes, whether the children be naturally apt or backward to remember. For so shall we both strengthen it in those to whom Nature in this respect hath been bountiful, and supply that to others wherein she hath been deficient. And as the former sort of boys will thereby come to excel others, so will the latter sort excel themselves. For that of Hesiod was well said, —

  • Oft little add to little, and the account
  • Will swell: heapt atoms thus produce a mount.*

Neither, therefore, let the parents be ignorant of this, that the exercising of memory in the schools doth not only give the greatest assistance towards the attainment of learning, but also to all the actions of life. For the remembrance of things past affords us examples in our consults about things to come.

ModernGreek: 14. Children ought to be made to abstain from speaking filthily, seeing, as Democritus said, words are but the shadows of actions. They are, moreover, to be instructed to be affable and courteous in discourse. For as churlish manners are always detestable, so children may be kept from being odious in conversation, if they will not be pertinaciously bent to maintain all they say in dispute. For it is of use to a man to understand not only how to overcome, but also how to give ground when to conquer would turn to his disadvantage. For there is such a thing sometimes as a Cadmean victory; which the wise Euripides attesteth, when he saith, —

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  • Where two discourse, if the one’s anger rise,
  • The man who lets the contest fall is wise.*

Add we now to these things some others of which children ought to have no less, yea, rather greater care; to wit, that they avoid luxurious living, bridle their tongues, subdue anger, and refrain their hands. Of how great moment each of these counsels is, I now come to inquire; and we may best judge of them by examples. To begin with the last: some men there have been, who, by opening their hands to take what they ought not, have lost all the honor they got in the former part of their lives. So Gylippus the Lacedaemonian, for unsewing the public money-bags, was condemned to banishment from Sparta. And to be able also to subdue anger is the part of a wise man. Such a one was Socrates; for when a hectoring and debauched young man rudely kicked him, so that those in his company, being sorely offended, were ready to run after him and call him to account for it, What, said he to them, if an ass had kicked me, would you think it handsomely done to kick him again? And yet the young man himself escaped not unpunished; for when all persons reproached him for so unworthy an act, and gave him the nickname of Λαχτιςτής, or the kicker, he hanged himself. The same Socrates, — when Aristophanes, publishing his play which he called the Clouds, therein threw all sorts of the foulest reproaches upon him, and a friend of his, who was present Edition: current; Page: [24] at the acting of it, repeated to him what was there said in the same comical manner, asking him withal, Does not this offend you, Socrates? — replied: Not at all, for I can as well bear with a fool in a play as at a great feast. And something of the same nature is reported to have been done by Archytas of Tarentum and Plato. Archytas, when, upon his return from the war, wherein he had been a general, he was informed that his land had been impaired by his bailiff’s negligence, sent for him, and said only thus to him when he came: If I were not very angry with thee, I would severely correct thee. And Plato, being offended with a gluttonous and debauched servant, called to him Speusippus, his sister’s son, and said unto him: Go beat thou this fellow; for I am too much offended with him to do it myself.

These things, you will perhaps say, are very difficult to be imitated. I confess it; but yet we must endeavor to the utmost of our power, by setting such examples before us, to repress the extravagancy of our immoderate, furious anger. For neither are we able to rival the experience or virtue of such men in many other matters; but we do, nevertheless, as sacred interpreters of divine mysteries and priests of wisdom, strive to follow these examples, and, as it were, to enrich ourselves with what we can nibble from them.

And as to the bridling of the tongue, concerning which also I am obliged to speak, if any man think it a small matter or of mean concernment, he is much mistaken. For it is a point of wisdom to be silent when occasion requires, and better than to speak, though never so well. And, in my judgment, for this reason the ancients instituted mystical rites of initiation in religion, that, being in them accustomed to silence, we might thence transfer the fear we have of the Gods to the fidelity required in human secrets. Yea, indeed, experience shows that no man ever Edition: current; Page: [25] repented of having kept silence; but many that they have not done so. And a man may, when he will, easily utter what he hath by silence concealed; but it is impossible for him to recall what he hath once spoken. And, moreover, I can remember infinite examples that have been told me of those that have procured great damages to themselves by intemperance of the tongue; one or two of which I will give, omitting the rest. When Ptolemaeus Philadelphus had taken his sister Arsinoe to wife, Sotades for breaking an obscene jest* upon him lay languishing in prison a great while; a punishment which he deserved for his unseasonable babbling, whereby to provoke laughter in others he purchased a long time of mourning to himself. Much after the same rate, or rather still worse, did Theocritus the Sophist both talk and suffer. For when Alexander commanded the Grecians to provide him a purple robe, wherein, upon his return from the wars, he meant to sacrifice to the Gods in gratitude for his victorious success against the barbarians, and the various states were bringing in the sums assessed upon them, Theocritus said: I now see clearly that this is what Homer calls purple death, which I never understood before. By which speech he made the king his enemy from that time forwards. The same person provoked Antigonus, the king of Macedonia, to great wrath, by reproaching him with his defect, as having but one eye. Thus it was. Antigonus commanded Eutropion his master-cook (then in waiting) to go to this Theocritus and settle some accounts with him. And when he announced his errand to Theocritus, and called frequently about the business, the latter said: I know that thou hast a mind to dish me up raw to that Cyclops; thus reproaching at once the king with the want of his eye, and the cook with his employment. To which Eutropion replied: Then thou shalt lose thy head, as the penalty of thy loquacity and madness Edition: current; Page: [26] And he was as good as his word; for he departed and informed the king, who sent and put Theocritus to death.

Besides all these things, we are to accustom children to speak the truth, and to account it, as indeed it is, a matter of religion for them to do so. For lying is a servile quality, deserving the hatred of all mankind; yea, a fault for which we ought not to forgive our meanest servants.

ModernGreek: 15. Thus far have I discoursed concerning the good-breeding of children, and the sobriety requisite to that age, without any hesitation or doubt in my own mind concerning any thing that I have said. But in what remains to be said, I am dubious and divided in my own thoughts, which, as if they were laid in a balance, sometimes incline this, and sometimes that way. I am therefore loath to persuade or dissuade in the matter. But I must venture to answer one question, which is this: whether we ought to admit those that make love to our sons to keep them company, or whether we should not rather thrust them out of doors, and banish them from their society. For when I look upon those straightforward parents, of a harsh and austere temper, who think it an outrage not to be endured that their sons should have any thing to say to lovers, I am tender of being the persuader or encourager of such a practice. But, on the other side, when I call to mind Socrates, and Plato, and Xenophon, and Aeschines, and Cebes, with an whole troop of other such men, who have approved those masculine loves, and still have brought up young men to learning, public employments, and virtuous living, I am again of another mind, and am much influenced by my zeal to imitate such great men. And the testimony also of Euripides is favorable to their opinion, when he says, —

  • Another love there is in mortals found;
  • The love of just and chaste and virtuous souls.*

And yet I think it not improper here to mention withal Edition: current; Page: [27] that saying of Plato, spoken betwixt jest and earnest, that men of great eminence must be allowed to show affection to what beautiful objects they please.* I would decide then that parents are to keep off such as make beauty the object of their affection, and admit altogether such as direct the love to the soul; whence such loves are to be avoided as are in Thebes and Elis, and that sort which in Crete they call ravishment (ἁϱπαγμός); and such are to be imitated as are in Athens and Sparta.

ModernGreek: 16. But in this matter let every man follow his own judgment. Thus far have I discoursed concerning the right ordering and decent carriage of children. I will now pass thence, to speak somewhat concerning the next age, that of youth. For I have often blamed the evil custom of some, who commit their boys in childhood to pedagogues and teachers, and then suffer the impetuosity of their youth to range without restraint; whereas boys of that age need to be kept under a stricter guard than children. For who does not know that the errors of childhood are small, and perfectly capable of being amended; such as slighting their pedagogues, or disobedience to their teachers’ instructions. But when they begin to grow towards maturity, their offences are oftentimes very great and heinous; such as gluttony, pilfering money from their parents, dicing, revellings, drunkenness, courting of maidens, and defiling of marriage-beds. Wherefore it is expedient that such impetuous heats should with great care be kept under and restrained. For the ripeness of that age admits no bounds in its pleasures, is skittish, and needs a curb to check it; so that those parents who do not hold in their sons with great strength about that time find to their surprise that they are giving their vicious inclinations full swing in the pursuit of the vilest actions. Wherefore it is a duty incumbent Edition: current; Page: [28] upon wise parents, in that age especially, to set a strict watch upon them, and to keep them within the bounds of sobriety by instructions, threatenings, entreaties, counsels, promises, and by laying before them examples of those men (on one side) who by immoderate love of pleasures have brought themselves into great mischief, and of those (on the other) who by abstinence in the pursuit of them have purchased to themselves very great praise and glory. For these two things (hope of honor, and fear of punishment) are, in a sort, the first elements of virtue; the former whereof spurs men on the more eagerly to the pursuit of honest studies, while the latter blunts the edge of their inclinations to vicious courses.

ModernGreek: 17. And in sum, it is necessary to restrain young men from the conversation of debauched persons, lest they take infection from their evil examples. This was taught by Pythagoras in certain enigmatical sentences, which I shall here relate and expound, as being greatly useful to further virtuous inclinations. Such are these. Taste not of fish that have black tails; that is, converse not with men that are smutted with vicious qualities. Stride not over the beam of the scales; wherein he teacheth us the regard we ought to have for justice, so as not to go beyond its measures. Sit not on a choenix; wherein he forbids sloth, and requires us to take care to provide ourselves with the necessaries of life. Do not strike hands with every man; he means we ought not to be over hasty to make acquaintances or friendships with others. Wear not a tight ring; that is, we are to labor after a free and independent way of living, and to submit to no fetters. Stir not up the fire with a sword; signifying that we ought not to provoke a man more when he is angry already (since this is a most unseemly act), but we should rather comply with him while his passion is in its heat. Eat not thy heart; which forbids to afflict our souls, and waste them with vexatious cares Edition: current; Page: [29] Abstain from beans; that is, keep out of public offices, for anciently the choice of the officers of state was made by beans. Put not food in a chamber-pot; wherein he declares that elegant discourse ought not to be put into an impure mind; for discourse is the food of the mind, which is rendered unclean by the foulness of the man who receives it. When men are arrived at the goal, they should not turn back; that is, those who are near the end of their days, and see the period of their lives approaching, ought to entertain it contentedly, and not to be grieved at it.

But to return from this digression, — our children, as I have said, are to be debarred the company of all evil men, but especially flatterers. For I would still affirm what I have often said in the presence of divers fathers, that there is not a more pestilent sort of men than these, nor any that more certainly and speedily hurry youth into precipices. Yea, they utterly ruin both fathers and sons, making the old age of the one and the youth of the other full of sorrow, while they cover the hook of their evil counsels with the unavoidable bait of voluptuousness. Parents, when they have good estates to leave their children, exhort them to sobriety, flatterers to drunkenness; parents exhort to continence, these to lasciviousness; parents to good husbandry, these to prodigality; parents to industry, these to slothfulness. And they usually entertain them with such discourses as these: The whole life of man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it therefore while it lasts, and not spend it to no purpose. Why should you so much regard the displeasure of your father? — an old doting fool, with one foot already in the grave, and ’tis to be hoped it will not be long ere we carry him thither altogether. And some of them there are who procure young men foul harlots, yea, prostitute wives to them; and they even make a prey of those things which the careful fathers have provided for the sustenance of their Edition: current; Page: [30] old age. A cursed tribe! True friendship’s hypocrites, they have no knowledge of plain dealing and frank speech. They flatter the rich, and despise the poor; and they seduce the young, as by a musical charm. When those who feed them begin to laugh, then they grin and show their teeth. They are mere counterfeits, bastard pretenders to humanity, living at the nod and beck of the rich; free by birth, yet slaves by choice, who always think themselves abused when they are not so, because they are not supported in idleness at others’ cost. Wherefore, if fathers have any care for the good breeding of their children, they ought to drive such foul beasts as these out of doors. They ought also to keep them from the companionship of vicious school-fellows, for these are able to corrupt the most ingenuous dispositions.

ModernGreek: 18. These counsels which I have now given are of great worth and importance; what I have now to add touches certain allowances that are to be made to human nature. Again therefore I would not have fathers of an over-rigid and harsh temper, but so mild as to forgive some slips of youth, remembering that they themselves were once young. But as physicians are wont to mix their bitter medicines with sweet syrups, to make what is pleasant a vehicle for what is wholesome, so should fathers temper the keenness of their reproofs with lenity. They may occasionally loosen the reins, and allow their children to take some liberties they are inclined to, and again, when it is fit, manage them with a straighter bridle. But chiefly should they bear their errors without passion, if it may be; and if they chance to be heated more than ordinary, they ought not to suffer the flame to burn long. For it is better that a father’s anger be hasty than severe; because the heaviness of his wrath, joined with unplacableness, is no small argument of hatred towards the child. It is good also not to discover the notice they take of divers faults, and to transfer to such Edition: current; Page: [31] cases that dimness of sight and hardness of hearing that are wont to accompany old age; so as sometimes not to hear what they hear, nor to see what they see, of their children’s miscarriages. We use to bear with some failings in our friends, and it is no wonder if we do the like to our children, especially when we sometimes overlook drunkenness in our very servants. Thou hast at times been too straight-handed to thy son; make him at other whiles a larger allowance. Thou hast, it may be, been too angry with him; pardon him the next fault to make him amends. He hath made use of a servant’s wit to circumvent thee in something; restrain thy anger. He hath made bold to take a yoke of oxen out of the pasture, or he hath come home smelling of his yesterday’s drink; take no notice of it; and if of ointments too, say nothing. For by this means the wild colt sometimes is made more tame. Besides, for those who are intemperate in their youthful lusts, and will not be amended by reproof, it is good to provide wives; for marriage is the strongest bond to hamper wild youth withal. But we must take care that the wives we procure for them be neither of too noble a birth nor of too great a portion to suit their circumstances; for it is a wise saying, drive on your own track.* Whereas men that marry women very much superior to themselves are not so truly husbands to their wives, as they are unawares made slaves to their portions. I will add a few words more, and put an end to these advices. The chiefest thing that fathers are to look to is, that they themselves become effectual examples to their children, by doing all those things which belong to them and avoiding all vicious practices, that in their lives, as in a glass, their children may see enough to give them an aversion to all ill words and actions. For those that chide children for such faults as they themselves fall into Edition: current; Page: [32] unconsciously accuse themselves, under their children’s names. And if they are altogether vicious in their own lives, they lose the right of reprehending their very servants, and much more do they forfeit it towards their sons. Yea, what is more than that, they make themselves even counsellors and instructors to them in wickedness. For where old men are impudent, there of necessity must the young men be so too. Wherefore we are to apply our minds to all such practices as may conduce to the good breeding of our children. And here we may take example from Eurydice of Hierapolis, who, although she was an Illyrian, and so thrice a barbarian, yet applied herself to learning when she was well advanced in years, that she might teach her children. Her love towards her children appears evidently in this Epigram of hers, which she dedicated to the Muses: —

  • Eurydice to the Muses here doth raise
  • This monument, her honest love to praise;
  • Who her grown sons that she might scholars breed,
  • Then well in years, herself first learned to read.

And thus have I finished the precepts which I designed to give concerning this subject. But that they should all be followed by any one reader is rather, I fear, to be wished than hoped. And to follow the greater part of them, though it may not be impossible to human nature, yet will need a concurrence of more than ordinary diligence joined with good fortune.

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ModernGreek: 1.

Those painters, O Fundanus, in my opinion do very wisely, who never finish any piece at the first sitting, but take a review of it at some convenient distance of time; because the eye, being relieved for a time, renews its power by making frequent and fresh judgments, and becomes able to observe many small and critical differences which continual poring and familiarity would prevent it from noticing. Now, because it cannot be that a man should stand off from himself and interrupt his consciousness, and then after some interval return to accost himself again (which is one principal reason why a man is a worse judge of himself than of other men), the next best course that a man can take will be to inspect his friends after some time of absence, and also to offer himself to their examination, not to see whether he be grown old on the sudden, or whether the habit of his body be become better or worse than it was before, but that they may take notice of his manner and behavior, whether in that time he hath made any advance in goodness, or gained ground of his vices. Wherefore, being after two years’ absence returned to Rome, and having since conversed with thee here again for these five months, I think it no great matter of wonder that those good qualities which, by the advantage of a good natural disposition, you were formerly possessed of Edition: current; Page: [34] have in this time received so considerable an increase. But truly, when I behold how that vehement and fiery disposition which you had to anger is now through the conduct of reason become so gentle and tractable, my mind prompts me to say, with Homer, —

O wonder! how much gentler is he grown!*

Nor hath this gentleness produced in thee any laziness or irresolution; but, like cultivation in the earth, it hath caused an evenness and a profundity very effectual unto fruitful action, instead of thy former vehemency and over-eagerness. And therefore it is evident that thy former proneness to anger hath not been withered in thee by any decay of vigor which age might have effected, or spontaneously; but that it hath been cured by making use of some mollifying precepts.

And indeed, to tell you the truth, when I heard our friend Eros say the same thing, I had a suspicion that he did not report the thing as it was, but that out of mere good-will he testified those things of you which ought to be found in every good and virtuous man. And yet you know he cannot be easily induced to depart from what he judges to be true, in order to favor any man. But now, truly, as I acquit him of having therein made any false report of thee, so I desire thee, being now at leisure from thy journey, to declare unto us the means and (as it were) the medicine, by use whereof thou hast brought thy mind to be thus manageable and natural, thus gentle and obedient unto reason.


But in the mean while, O most kind Sylla, you had best beware, lest you also through affection and friendship may be somewhat careless in making an estimate of my affairs. For Eros, having himself also a mind oft-times unable to keep its ground and to contain itself Edition: current; Page: [35] within that obedience which Homer mentions, but subject to be exasperated through an hatred of men’s wickedness, may perhaps think I am grown more mild; just as in music, when the key is changed, that note which before was the base becomes a higher note with respect to others which are now below it.


Neither of these is so, Fundanus; but, I pray you, gratify us all by granting the request I made.

ModernGreek: 2.

This then, O Sylla, is one of those excellent rules given by Musonius which I bear in memory, — that those who would be in sound health must physic themselves all their lives. Now I do not think that reason cures, like hellebore, by purging out itself together with the disease it cures, but by keeping possession of the soul, and so governing and guarding its judgments. For the power of reason is not like drugs, but like wholesome food; and, with the assistance of a good natural disposition, it produceth a healthful constitution in all with whom it hath become familiar.

And as for those good exhortations and admonitions which are applied to passions while they swell and are at their height, they work but slowly and with small success; and they differ in nothing from those strong-smelling things, which indeed do serve to put those that have the falling sickness upon their legs again after they are fallen, but are not able to remove the disease. For whereas other passions, even when they are in their ruff and acme, do in some sort yield and admit reason into the soul, which comes to help it from without; anger does not, as Melanthius says, —

Displace the mind, and then act dismal things;

but it absolutely turns the mind out of doors, and bolts the door against it; and, like those who burn their houses and themselves within them, it makes all things within full Edition: current; Page: [36] of confusion, smoke, and noise, so that the soul can neither see nor hear any thing that might relieve it. Wherefore sooner will an empty ship in a storm at sea admit of a pilot from without, than a man tossed with anger and rage listen to the advice of another, unless he have his own reason first prepared to entertain it.

But as those who expect to be besieged are wont to gather together and lay in provisions of such things as they are like to need, not trusting to hopes of relief from without, so ought it to be our special concern to fetch in from philosophy such foreign helps as it affords against anger, and to store them up in the soul beforehand, seeing that it will not be so easy a matter to provide ourselves when the time is come for using them. For either the soul cannot hear what is spoken without, by reason of the tumult, unless it have its own reason (like the director of the rowers in a ship) ready to entertain and understand whatsoever precept shall be given; or, if it do chance to hear, yet will it be ready to despise what is patiently and mildly offered, and to be exasperated by what shall be pressed upon it with more vehemency. For, since wrath is proud and self-conceited, and utterly averse from compliance with others, like a fortified and guarded tyranny, that which is to overthrow it must be bred within it and be of its own household.

ModernGreek: 3. Now the continuance of anger and frequent fits of it produce an evil habit in the soul called wrathfulness, or a propensity to be angry, which oft-times ends in choleric temper, bitterness, and moroseness. Then the mind becomes ulcerated, peevish, and querulous, and like a thin, weak plate of iron, receives impression and is wounded by even the least occurrence; but when the judgment presently seizes upon wrathful ebullitions and suppresses them, it not only works a cure for the present, but renders the soul firm and not so liable to such impressions for the future. Edition: current; Page: [37] And truly, when I myself had twice or thrice made a resolute resistance unto anger, the like befell me that did the Thebans; who, having once foiled the Lacedaemonians, that before that time had held themselves invincible, never after lost so much as one battle which they fought against them. For I became fully assured in my mind, that anger might be overcome by the use of reason. And I perceived that it might not only be quieted by the sprinkling of cold water, as Aristotle relates, but also be extinguished by putting one into a fright. Yea, according to Homer, many men have had their anger melted and dissipated by sudden surprise of joy. So that I came to this firm resolution, that this passion is not altogether incurable to such as are but willing to be cured; since the beginnings and occasions of it are not always great or forcible; but a scoff, or a jest, or the laughing at one, or a nod only, or some other matter of no great importance, will put many men into a passion. Thus Helen, by addressing her niece in the words beginning, —

O my Electra, now a virgin stale,

provoked her to make this nipping return: —

Thou’rt wise too late, thou shouldst have kept at home.*

And so did Callisthenes provoke Alexander by saying, when the great bowl was going round, I will not drink so deep in honor of Alexander, as to make work for Aesculapius.

ModernGreek: 4. As therefore it is an easy matter to stop the fire that is kindled only in hare’s wool, candle-wick, or a little chaff, but if it have once taken hold of matter that hath solidity and thickness, it soon inflames and consumes, as Aeschylus says, —

With youthful vigor the carpenter’s lofty work;

so he that observes anger while it is in its beginning, and Edition: current; Page: [38] sees it by degrees smoking and taking fire from some speech or chaff-like scurrility, need take no great pains to extinguish it, but oftentimes can put an end to it only by silence or neglect. For as he that adds no fuel to the fire hath already as good as put it out, so he that doth not feed anger at the first, nor blow the fire in himself, hath prevented and destroyed it. Wherefore Hieronymus, although he taught many other useful things, yet hath given me no satisfaction in saying that anger is not perceptible in its birth, by reason of its suddenness, but only after its birth and while it lives; for there is no other passion, while it is gathering and stirring up, which hath its rise and increase so conspicuous and observable. This is very skilfully taught by Homer, by making Achilles suddenly surprised with grief as soon as ever the word fell on his ear, saying of him, —

This said, a sable cloud of grief covered him o’er;*

but making Agamemnon grow angry slowly and need many words to inflame him, so that, if these had been stopped and forbidden when they began, the contest had never grown to that degree and greatness which it did. Wherefore Socrates, as oft as he perceived any fierceness of spirit to rise within him towards any of his friends, setting himself like a promontory to break the waves, would speak with a lower voice, bear a smiling countenance, and look with a more gentle eye; and thus, by bending the other way and moving contrary to the passion, he kept himself from falling or being worsted.

ModernGreek: 5. For the first way, my friend, to suppress anger, as you would a tyrant, is not to obey or yield to it when it commands us to speak high, to look fiercely, and to beat ourselves; but to be quiet, and not increase the passion, as we do a disease, by impatient tossing and crying out. It is Edition: current; Page: [39] true that lovers’ practices, such as revelling, singing, crowning the door with garlands, have a kind of alleviation in them which is neither rude nor unpleasing: —

  • Coming, I asked not who or whose she was,
  • But kissed her door full sweetly, — that I wot;
  • If this be sin, to sin I can but choose.

So the weeping and lamentation which we permit in mourners doubtless carry forth much of the grief together with the tears. But anger, quite on the contrary, is more inflamed by what the angry persons say or do.

The best course then is for a man to compose himself, or else to run away and hide himself and retreat into quiet, as into an haven, as if he perceived a fit of epilepsy coming on, lest he fall, or rather fall upon others; and truly we do most and most frequently fall upon our friends. For we neither love all, nor envy all, nor fear all men; but there is nothing untouched and unset upon by anger. We are angry with our foes and with our friends; with our own children and our parents; nay, with the Gods above, and the very beasts below us, and instruments that have no life, as Thamyras was, —

  • His horn, though bound with gold, he brake in’s ire,
  • He brake his melodious and well-strung lyre;*

and Pandarus, wishing a curse upon himself if he did not burn his bow,

First broken by his hands.

But Xerxes dealt blows and marks of his displeasure to the sea itself, and sent his letters to the mountain in the style ensuing: “O thou wretched Athos, whose top now reaches to the skies, I charge thee, put not in the way of my works stones too big and difficult to be wrought. If thou do, I will cut thee into pieces, and cast thee into the sea.”

For anger hath many terrible effects, and many also that Edition: current; Page: [40] are ridiculous; and therefore of all passions, this of anger is most hated and most contemned, and it is good to consider it in both respects.

ModernGreek: 6. I therefore, whether rightly or not I know not, began this cure with learning the nature of anger by beholding it in other men, as the Lacedaemonians learned what drunkenness was by seeing it in the Helots. And, in the first place, as Hippocrates said that that was the most dangerous disease which made the sick man’s countenance most unlike to what it was, so I observed that men transported with anger also exceedingly change their visage, color, gait, and voice. Accordingly I formed a kind of image of that passion to myself, withal conceiving great in dignation against myself if I should at any time appear to my friends, or to my wife and daughters, so terrible and discomposed, not only with so wild and strange a look, but also with so fierce and harsh a voice, as I had met with in some others of my acquaintance, who by reason of anger were not able to observe either good manners or countenance or graceful speech, or even their persuasiveness and affability in conversation.

Wherefore Caius Gracchus, the orator, being of a rugged disposition and a passionate kind of speaker, had a pipe made for him, such as musicians use to vary their voice higher or lower by degrees; and with this pipe his servant stood behind him while he pronounced, and gave him a mild and gentle note, whereby he took him down from his loudness, and took off the harshness and angriness of his voice, assuaging and charming the anger of the orator,

  • As their shrill wax-joined reed who herds do keep
  • Sounds forth sweet measures, which invite to sleep.*

For my own part, had I a careful and pleasant companion who would show me my angry face in a glass, I should not at all take it ill. In like manner, some are wont to Edition: current; Page: [41] have a looking-glass held to them after they have bathed, though to little purpose; but to behold one’s self unnaturally disguised and disordered will conduce not a little to the impeachment of anger. For those who delight in pleasant fables tell us, that Minerva herself, playing on a pipe, was thus admonished by a satyr: —

  • That look becomes you not, lay down your pipes,
  • And take your arms, and set your cheeks to rights;

but would not regard it; yet, when by chance she beheld the mien of her countenance in a river, she was moved with indignation, and cast her pipes away; and yet here art had the delight of melody to comfort her for the deformity. And Marsyas, as it seems, did with a kind of muzzle and mouth-piece restrain by force the too horrible eruption of his breath when he played, and so corrected and concealed the distortion of his visage: —

  • With shining gold he girt his temples rough,
  • And his wide mouth with thongs that tied behind.

Now anger doth swell and puff up the countenance very indecently, and sends forth a yet more indecent and unpleasant voice, —

Moving the heart-strings, which should be at rest.

For when the sea is tossed and troubled with winds, and casts up moss and sea-weed, they say it is purged; but those impure, bitter, and vain words which anger throws up when the soul has become a kind of whirlpool, defile the speakers, in the first place, and fill them with dishonor, arguing them to have always had such things in them and to be full of them, only now they are discovered to have them by their anger. So for a mere word, the lightest of things (as Plato says), they undergo the heaviest of punishments, being ever after accounted enemies, evil speakers, and of a malignant disposition.

ModernGreek: 7. While now I see all this and bear it in mind, the Edition: current; Page: [42] thought occurs to me, and I naturally consider by myself, that as it is good for one in a fever, so much better is it for one in anger, to have his tongue soft and smooth. For if the tongue in a fever be unnaturally affected, it is indeed an evil symptom, but not a cause of harm; but when the tongue of angry men becomes rough and foul, and breaks out into absurd speeches, it produces insults which work irreconcilable hatred, and proves that a poisonous malevolence lies festering within. For wine does not make men vent any thing so impure and odious as anger doth; and, besides, what proceeds from wine is matter for jest and laughter, but that from anger is mixed with gall and bitterness. And he that is silent in his cups is counted a burthen, and a bore to the company, whereas in anger there is nothing more commended than peace and silence; as Sappho adviseth, —

  • When anger once is spread within thy breast,
  • Shut up thy tongue, that vainly barking beast.

ModernGreek: 8. Nor doth the constant observation of ourselves in anger minister these things only to our consideration, but it also gives us to understand another natural property of anger, how disingenuous and unmanly a thing it is, and how far from true wisdom and greatness of mind. Yet the vulgar account the angry man’s turbulence to be his activity, his loud threats to argue boldness, and his refractoriness strength; as also some mistake his cruelty for an undertaking of great matters, his implacableness for a firmness of resolution, and his morosity for an hatred of that which is evil. For, in truth, both the deeds and motions and the whole mien of angry men do accuse them of much littleness and infirmity, not only when they vex little children, scold silly women, and think dogs and horses and asses worthy of their anger and deserving to be punished (as Ctesiphon the Pancratiast, who vouchsafed to kick the ass Edition: current; Page: [43] that had kicked him first); but even in their tyrannical slaughters, their mean-spiritedness appearing in their bitterness, and their suffering exhibited outwardly in their actions, are but like to the biting of serpents who, when they themselves become burnt and full of pain, violently thrust the venom that inflames them from themselves into those that have hurt them. For as a great blow causes a great swelling in the flesh, so in the softest souls the giving way to a passion for hurting others, like a stroke on the soul, doth make it to swell with anger; and all the more, the greater is its weakness.

For this cause it is that women are more apt to be angry than men are, and sick persons than the healthful, and old men than those who are in their perfect age and strength, and men in misery than such as prosper. For the covetous man is most prone to be angry with his steward, the glutton with his cook, the jealous man with his wife, the vainglorious person with him that speaks ill of him; but of all men there are none so exceedingly disposed to be angry as those who are ambitious of honor, and affect to carry on a faction in a city, which (according to Pindar) is but a splendid vexation. In like manner, from the great grief and suffering of the soul, through weakness especially, there ariseth anger, which is not like the nerves of the soul (as one spake), but like its straining and convulsive motions when it vehemently stirs itself up in its desires and endeavors of revenge.

ModernGreek: 9. Indeed such evil examples as these afford us speculations which are necessary, though not pleasant. But now, from those who have carried themselves mildly and gently in their anger, I shall present you with most excellent sayings and beautiful contemplations; and I begin to contemn such as say, You have wronged a man indeed, and is a man to bear this? — Stamp on his neck, tread him down in the dirt, — and such like provoking speeches, whereby Edition: current; Page: [44] some do very unhandsomely translate and remove anger from the women’s to the men’s apartment. For fortitude, which in other respects agrees with justice, seems only to disagree in respect of mildness, which she claims as more properly her own. For it sometimes befalls even worser men to bear rule over those who are better than themselves; but to erect a trophy in the soul against anger (which Heraclitus says it is an hard thing to fight against, because whatever it resolves to have, it buys at no less a price than the soul itself) is that which none but a great and victorious power is able to achieve, since that alone can bind and curb the passions by its decrees, as with nerves and tendons.

Wherefore I always strive to collect and read not only the sayings and deeds of philosophers, who (wise men say) had no gall in them, but especially those of kings and tyrants. Of this sort was the saying of Antigonus to his soldiers, when, as some were reviling him near his tent, supposing that he had not heard them, he stretched his staff out of the tent, and said: What! will you not stand somewhere farther off, while you revile me? So was that of Arcadio the Achaean, who was ever speaking ill of Philip, exhorting men to flee

Till they should come where none would Philip know.

When afterwards by some accident he appeared in Macedonia, Philip’s friends were of opinion that he ought not to be suffered, but be punished; but Philip meeting him and speaking courteously to him, and then sending him gifts, particularly such as were wont to be given to strangers, bade him learn for the time to come what to speak of him to the Greeks. And when all testified that the man was become a great praiser of Philip, even to admiration, You see, said Philip, I am a better physician than you. And when he had been reproached at the Edition: current; Page: [45] Olympic solemnities, and some said it was fit to make the Grecians smart and rue it for reviling Philip, who had dealt well with them, What then, said he, will they do, if I make them smart? Those things also which Pisistratus did to Thrasybulus, and Porsena to Mutius, were bravely done; and so was that of Magas to Philemon, for having been by him exposed to laughter in a comedy on the public stage, in these words: —

  • Magas, the king hath sent thee letters:
  • Unhappy Magas, thou dost know no letters.

And having taken Philemon as he was by a tempest cast on shore at Paraetonium, he commanded a soldier only to touch his neck with his naked sword and to go quietly away; and then having sent him a ball and huckle-bones, as if he were a child that wanted understanding, he dismissed him. Ptolemy was once jeering a grammarian for his want of learning, and asked him who was the father of Peleus: I will answer you (quoth he) if you will tell me first who was the father of Lagus. This jeer gave the king a rub for the obscurity of his birth, whereat all were moved with indignation, as a thing not to be endured. But, said Ptolemy, if it is not fit for a king to be jeered, then no more is it fit for him to jeer others. But Alexander was more severe than he was wont in his carriage towards Calisthenes and Clitus. Wherefore Porus, being taken captive by him, desired him to treat him like a king; and when Alexander asked him if he desired no more, he answered, When I say like a king, I have comprised all. And hence it is that they call the king of the Gods Meilichius, while the Athenians, I think, call him Maimactes; but the office of punishing they ascribe to the Furies and evil Genii, never giving it the epithet of divine or heavenly.

ModernGreek: 10. As therefore one said of Philip, when he razed the city of Olynthus, But he is not able to build such another Edition: current; Page: [46] city; so may it be said to anger, Thou canst overthrow, and destroy, and cut down; but to restore, to save, to spare, and to bear with, is the work of gentleness and moderation, of a Camillus, a Metellus, an Aristides, and a Socrates; but to strike the sting into one and to bite is the part of pismires and horse-flies. And truly, while I well consider revenge, I find that the way which anger takes for it proves for the most part ineffectual, being spent in biting the lips, gnashing the teeth, vain assaults, and railings full of silly threats; and then it acts like children in a race, who, for want of governing themselves, tumble down ridiculously before they come to the goal towards which they are hastening. Hence that Rhodian said not amiss to the servant of the Roman general, who spake loudly and fiercely to him, It matters not much what thou sayest, but what this your master in silence thinks. And Sophocles, having introduced Neoptolemus and Eurypylus in full armor, gave a high commendation of them when he said, —

  • Into the hosts of brazen-armed men
  • Each boldly charged, but ne’er reviled his foe.

Some indeed of the barbarians poison their swords; but true valor has no need of choler, as being dipped in reason; but anger and fury are weak and easily broken. Wherefore the Lacedaemonians are wont by the sounding of pipes to take off the edge of anger from their soldiers, when they fight; and before they go to battle, to sacrifice to the Muses, that they may have the steady use of their reason; and when they have put their enemies to flight, they pursue them not, but sound a retreat (as it were) to their wrath, which, like a short dagger, can easily be handled and drawn back. But anger makes slaughter of thousands before it can avenge itself, as it did of Cyrus and Pelopidas the Theban. Agathocles, being reviled by some whom he besieged, bore it with mildness; and when one Edition: current; Page: [47] said to him, O Potter, whence wilt thou have pay for thy mercenary soldiers? he answered with laughter, From your city, if I can take it. And when some one from the wall derided Antigonus for his deformity, he answered, I thought surely I had a handsome face: and when he had taken the city, he sold those for slaves who had scoffed at him, protesting that, if they reviled him so again, he would call them to account before their masters.

Furthermore, I observe that hunters and orators are wont to be much foiled by anger. Aristotle reports that the friends of Satyrus once stopped his ears with wax, when he was to plead a cause, that so he might not confound the matter through anger at the revilings of his enemies. Do we not ourselves oftentimes miss of punishing an offending servant, because he runs away from us in fright when he hears our threatening words? That therefore which nurses say to little children — Do not cry, and thou shalt have it — may not unfitly be applied to our mind when angry. Be not hasty, neither speak too loud, nor be too urgent, and so what you desire will be sooner and better accomplished. For as a father, when he sees his son about to cleave or cut something with an hatchet, takes the hatchet himself and doth it for him; so one taking the work of revenge out of the hand of anger doth himself, without danger or hurt, yea, with profit also, inflict punishment on him that deserves it, and not on himself instead of him, as anger oft-times doth.

ModernGreek: 11. Now, whereas all passions do stand in need of discipline, which by exercise tames and subdues their unreasonableness and stubbornness, there is none about which we have more need to be exercised in reference to servants than that of anger. For neither do we envy nor fear them, nor have we any competition for honor with them; but we have frequent fits of anger with them, which cause many offences and errors, by reason of the very power possessed Edition: current; Page: [48] by us as masters, and which bring us easily to the ground, as if we stood in a slippery place with no one standing by to save us. For it is impossible to keep an irresponsible power from offending in the excitement of passion, unless we gird up that great power with gentleness, and can slight the frequent speeches of wife and friends accusing us of remissness. And indeed I myself have by nothing more than by such speeches been incensed against my servants, as if they were spoiled for want of beating. And truly it was late before I came to understand, that it was better that servants should be something the worse by indulgence, than that one should distort himself through wrath and bitterness for the amendment of others. And secondly, observing that many by this very impunity have been brought to be ashamed to be wicked, and have begun their change to virtue more from being pardoned than from being punished, and that they have obeyed some upon their nod only, peaceably, and more willingly than they have done others with all their beating and scourging, I became persuaded of this, that reason was fitter to govern with than anger. For it is not as the poet said, —

Wherever fear is, there is modesty;

but, on the contrary, it is in the modest that that fear is bred which produces moderation, whereas continual and unmerciful beating doth not make men repent of doing evil, but only devise plans for doing it without being detected. And in the third place I always remember and consider with myself, that as he who taught us the art of shooting did not forbid us to shoot, but only to shoot amiss, so no more can it be any hindrance from punishing to teach us how we may do it seasonably and moderately, with benefit and decency. I therefore strive to put away anger, especially by not denying the punished a liberty to plead for themselves, but granting them an hearing. For time gives a Edition: current; Page: [49] breathing-space unto passion, and a delay which mitigates and dissolves it; and a man’s judgment in the mean while finds out both a becoming manner and a proportionable measure of punishing. And moreover hereby, he that is punished hath not any pretence left him to object against the correction given him, if he is punished not out of anger, but being first himself convinced of his fault. And finally we are here saved from the greatest disgrace of all, for by this means the servant will not seem to speak more just things than his master.

As therefore Phocion after the death of Alexander, to hinder the Athenians from rising too soon or believing it too hastily, said: O Athenians, if he is dead to-day, he will be so to-morrow, and on the next day after that; in like manner do I judge one ought to suggest to himself, who through anger is making haste to punish: If it is true to-day that he hath thus wronged thee, it will be true to-morrow, and on the next day, also. Nor will there any inconvenience follow upon the deferring of his punishment for a while; but if he be punished all in haste, he will ever after seem to have been innocent, as it hath oftentimes fallen out heretofore. For which of us all is so cruel as to torment or scourge a servant because, five or ten days before, he burnt the meat, or overturned the table, or did not soon enough what he was bidden? And yet it is for just such things as these, while they are fresh and newly done, that we are so disordered, and become cruel and implacable. For as bodies through a mist, so actions through anger seem greater than they are. Wherefore we ought speedily to recall such considerations as these are to our mind; and when we are unquestionably out of passion, if then to a pure and composed reason the deed to appear to be wicked, we ought to animadvert, and no longer neglect or abstain from punishment, as if we had lost our appetite for it. For there is nothing to which we can more justly impute men’s punishing Edition: current; Page: [50] others in their anger, than to a habit of not punishing them when their anger is over, but growing remiss, and doing like lazy mariners, who in fair weather keep loitering within the haven, and then put themselves in danger by setting sail when the wind blows strong. So we likewise, condemning the remissness and over-calmness of our reason in punishing, make haste to do it while our anger is up, pushing us forward like a dangerous wind.

He that useth food doth it to gratify his hunger, which is natural; but he that inflicts punishment should do it without either hungering or thirsting after it, not needing anger, like sauce, to whet him on to punish; but when he is farthest off from desiring it, then he should do it as a deed of necessity under the guidance of reason. And though Aristotle reports, that in his time servants in Etruria were wont to be scourged while the music played, yet they who punish others ought not to be carried on with a desire of punishing, as of a thing they delight in, nor to rejoice when they punish, and then repent of it when they have done, — whereof the first is savage, the last womanish; but, without either sorrow or pleasure, they should inflict just punishment when reason is free to judge, leaving no pretence for anger to intermeddle.

ModernGreek: 12. But this perhaps may seem to be not a cure of anger, but only a thrusting by and avoiding of such miscarriages as some men fall into when they are angry. And yet, as Hieronymus tells us, although the swelling of the spleen is but a symptom of the fever, the assuaging thereof abates the disease. But, considering well the origin of anger itself, I have observed that divers men fall into anger for different causes; and yet in the minds of all of them was probably an opinion of being despised and neglected. We must therefore assist those who would avoid anger, by removing the act which roused their anger as far as possible from all suspicion of contempt or insult, Edition: current; Page: [51] and by imputing it rather to folly or necessity or disorder of mind, or to the misadventure of those that did it. Thus Sophocles in Antigone: —

  • The best resolved mind in misery
  • Can’t keep its ground, but suffers ecstasy.*

And so Agamemnon, ascribing to Ate the taking away of Briseis, adds: —

  • Since I so foolish was as thee to wrong,
  • I’ll please thee now, and give thee splendid gifts.

For supplication is an act of one who is far from contemning; and when he that hath done an injury appears submissive, he thereby removes all suspicion of contempt. But he that is moved to anger must not expect or wait for such a submission, but must rather take to himself the saying of Diogenes, who, when one said to him, They deride thee, O Diogenes, made answer, But I am not derided; and he must not think himself contemned, but rather himself contemn that man that offends him, as one acting out of weakness or error, rashness or carelessness, rudeness or dotage, or childishness. But, above all, we must bear with our servants and friends herein; for surely they do not despise us as being impotent or slothful, but they think less of us by reason of our very moderation or good-will towards them, some because we are gentle, others because we are loving towards them. But now, alas! out of a surmise that we are contemned, we not only become exasperated against our wives, our servants, and friends, but we oftentimes fall out also with drunken innkeepers, and mariners and ostlers, and all out of a suspicion that they despise us. Yea, we quarrel with dogs because they bark at us, and asses if they chance to rush against us; like him who was going to beat a driver of asses, but Edition: current; Page: [52] when the latter cried out, I am an Athenian, fell to beating the ass, saying, Thou surely art not an Athenian too, and so accosted him with many a bastinado.

ModernGreek: 13. And especially self-love and morosity, together with luxury and effeminacy, breed in us long and frequent fits of anger, which by little and little are gathered together into our souls, like a swarm of bees or wasps. Wherefore there is nothing more conducing to a gentle behavior towards our wife and servants and friends than contentedness and simplicity, if we can be satisfied with what we have, and not stand in need of many superfluities. Whereas the man described in the poet, —

  • Who never is content with boiled or roast,
  • Nor likes his meat, what way soever drest, —

who can never drink unless he have snow by him, or eat bread if it be bought in the market, or taste victuals out of a mean or earthen vessel, or sleep on a bed unless it be swelled and puffed up with feathers, like to the sea when it is heaved up from the bottom; but who with cudgels and blows, with running, calling, and sweating doth hasten his servitors that wait at table, as if they were sent for plasters for some inflamed ulcer, he being slave to a weak, morose, and fault-finding style of life, — doth, as it were by a continual cough or many buffetings, breed in himself, before he is aware, an ulcerous and defluxive disposition unto anger. And therefore the body is to be accustomed to contentment by frugality, and so be made sufficient for itself. For they who need but few things are not disappointed of many; and it is no hard matter, beginning with our food, to accept quietly whatever is sent to us, and not by being angry and querulous at every thing, to entertain ourselves and our friends with the most unpleasant dish of all, which is anger. And surely

Than that supper nought can more unpleasant be,*

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where the servants are beaten and the wife railed at, because something is burnt or smoked or not salt enough, or because the bread is too cold. Arcesilaus was once entertaining his friends and some strangers at a feast; the supper was set on the board, but there wanted bread, the servants having, it seems, neglected to buy any. Now, on such an occasion, which of us would not have rent the very walls with outcries? But he smiling said only: What a fine thing it is for a philosopher to be a jolly feaster! Once also when Socrates took Euthydemus from the wrestling-house home with him to supper, his wife Xanthippe fell upon him in a pelting chase, scolding him, and in conclusion overthrew the table. Whereupon Euthydemus rose up and went his way, being very much troubled at what had happened. But Socrates said to him: Did not a hen at your house the other day come flying in, and do the like? and yet I was not troubled at it. For friends are to be entertained by good-nature, by smiles, and by a hospitable welcome; not by knitting brows, or by striking horror and trembling into those that serve.

We must also accustom ourselves to the use of any cups indifferently, and not to use one rather than another, as some are wont to single some one cup out of many (as they say Marius used to do) or else a drinking-horn, and to drink out of none but that; and they do the same with oil-glasses and brushes, affecting one above all the rest, and when any one of these chances to be broken or lost, then they take it heinously, and punish severely those that did it. And therefore he that is prone to be angry should refrain from such things as are rare and curiously wrought, such as cups and seals and precious stones; for such things distract a man by their loss more than cheap and ordinary things are apt to do. Wherefore when Nero had made an octagonal tent, a wonderful spectacle for cost and beauty, Seneca said to him: You have proved yourself to be a Edition: current; Page: [54] poor man; for if you chance to lose this, you cannot tell where to get such another. And indeed it so fell out that the ship was sunk, and this tent was lost with it. But Nero, remembering the words of Seneca, bore the loss of it with greater moderation.

But this contentedness in other matters doth make a man good-tempered and gentle towards his servants; and if towards servants, then doubtless towards friends and subjects also. We see also that newly bought servants enquire concerning him that bought them, not whether he be superstitious or envious, but whether he be an angry man or not; and that universally, neither men can endure their wives, though chaste, nor women their husbands, though kind, if they be ill-tempered withal; nor friends the conversation of one another. And so neither wedlock nor friendship with anger is to be endured; but if anger be away, even drunkenness itself is counted a light matter For the ferule of Bacchus is a sufficient chastiser of a drunken man, if the addition of anger do not change the God of wine from Lyaeus and Choraeus (the looser of cares and the leader of dances) to the savage and furious deity. And Anticyra (with its hellebore) is of itself able to cure simple madness; but madness mixed with anger furnishes matter for tragedies and dismal stories.

ModernGreek: 14. Neither ought any, even in their playing and jesting, to give way to their anger, for it turns good-will into hatred; nor when they are disputing, for it turns a desire of knowing truth into a love of contention; nor when they sit in judgment, for it adds violence to authority; nor when they are teaching, for it dulls the learner, and breeds in him a hatred of all learning; nor if they be in prosperity, for it increases envy; nor if in adversity, for it makes them to be unpitied, if they are morose and apt to quarrel with those who commiserate them, as Priam did: —

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  • Be gone, ye upbraiding scoundrels, haven’t ye at home
  • Enough, that to help bear my grief ye come?*

On the other hand, good temper doth remedy some things, put an ornament upon others, and sweeten others; and it wholly overcomes all anger and moroseness, by gentleness. As may be seen in that excellent example of Euclid, who, when his brother had said in a quarrel, Let me perish if I be not avenged of you, replied, And let me perish if I do not persuade you into a better mind; and by so saying he straightway diverted him from his purpose, and changed his mind. And Polemon, being reviled by one that loved precious stones well and was even sick with the love of costly signets, answered nothing, but noticed one of the signets which the man wore, and looked wistfully upon it. Whereat the man being pleased said: Not so, Polemon, but look upon it in the sunshine, and it will appear much better to you. And Aristippus, when there happened to be a falling out between him and Aeschines, and one said to him, O Aristippus, what is now become of the friendship that was between you two? answered, It is asleep, but I will go and awaken it. Then coming to Aeschines, he said to him, What? dost thou take me to be so utterly wretched and incurable as not to be worth thy admonition? No wonder, said Aeschines, if thou, by nature so excelling me in every thing, didst here also discern before me what was right and fitting to be done.

  • A woman’s, nay a little child’s soft hand,
  • With gentle stroking easier doth command,
  • And make the bristling boar to couch and fall,
  • Than any boisterous wrestler of them all.

But we that can tame wild beasts and make them gentle, carrying young wolves and the whelps of lions in our arms, do in a fit of anger cast our own children, friends, and companions out of our embraces; and we let loose our Edition: current; Page: [56] wrath like a wild beast upon our servants and fellow citizens. And we but poorly disguise our rage when we give it the specious name of zeal against wickedness; and it is with this, I suppose, as with other passions and diseases of the soul, — although we call one forethought, another liberality, another piety, we cannot so acquit and clear ourselves of any of them.

ModernGreek: 15. And as Zeno has said that the seed was a mixture drawn from all the powers of the soul, in like manner anger seems to be a kind of universal seed extracted from all the passions. For it is taken from grief and pleasure and insolence; and then from envy it hath the evil property of rejoicing at another’s adversity; and it is even worse than murder itself, for it doth not strive to free itself from suffering, but to bring mischief to itself, if it may thereby but do another man an evil turn. And it hath the most odious kind of desire inbred in it, if the appetite for grieving and hurting another may be called a desire.

Wherefore, when we go to the houses of drunkards, we may hear a wench playing the flute betimes in the morning, and behold there, as one said, the muddy dregs of wine, and scattered fragments of garlands, and servants drunk at the door; and the marks of angry and surly men may be read in the faces, brands, and fetters of the servants. “But lamentation is the only bard that is always to be heard beneath the roof” of the angry man, while his stewards are beaten and his maid-servants tormented; so that the spectators, in the midst of their mirth and delight, cannot but pity those sad effects of anger.

ModernGreek: 16. And even those who, out of a real hatred of wickedness, often happen to be surprised with anger, can abate the excess and vehemence of it so soon as they give up their excessive confidence in those with whom they converse. For of all causes this doth most increase anger, when one proves to be wicked whom we took for a good Edition: current; Page: [57] man, or when one who we thought had loved us falls into some difference and chiding with us.

As for my own disposition, thou knowest very well with how strong inclinations it is carried to show kindness to men and to confide in them; and therefore, like those who miss their step and tread on nothing, when I most of all trust to men’s love and, as it were, prop myself up with it, I do then most of all miscarry, and, finding myself disappointed, am troubled at it. And indeed I should never succeed in freeing myself from this too great eagerness and forwardness in my love; but against excessive confidence perhaps I can make use of Plato’s caution for a bridle. For he said that he so commended Helicon, the mathematician, because he thought him a naturally versatile animal; but that he had a jealousy of those who had been well educated in the city, lest, being men and the offspring of men, they should in something or other discover the infirmity of their nature. But when Sophocles says, If you search the deeds of mortals, you will find the most are base, he seems to insult and disparage us over much. Still even such a harsh and censorious judgment as this may make us more moderate in our anger; for it is the sudden and the unexpected which do most drive us to frenzy. But we ought, as Panaetius somewhere said, to imitate Anaxagoras; and as he said upon the death of his son, I knew before that I had begotten but a mortal, so should every one of us use expressions like these of those offences which stir up to anger: I knew, when I bought my servant, that I was not buying a philosopher; I knew that I did not get a friend that had no passions; I knew that I had a wife that was but a woman. But if every one would always repeat the question of Plato to himself, But am not I perhaps such a one myself? and turn his reason from abroad to look into himself, and put restraint upon his reprehension of others, he would not Edition: current; Page: [58] make so much use of his hatred of evil in reproving other men, seeing himself to stand in need of great indulgence. But now every one of us, when he is angry and punishing, can bring the words of Aristides and of Cato: Do not steal, Do not lie, and Why are ye so slothful? And, what is most truly shameful of all, we do in our anger reprove others for being angry, and what was done amiss through anger we punish in our passion, therein not acting like physicians, who

Purge bitter choler with a bitter pill,*

but rather increasing and exasperating the disease which we pretend to cure.

While therefore I am thus reasoning with myself, I endeavor also to abate something of my curiosity; because for any one over curiously to enquire and pry into every thing, and to make a public business of every employment of a servant, every action of a friend, every pastime of a son, every whispering of a wife, causes great and long and daily fits of anger, whereof the product and issue is a peevish and morose disposition. Wherefore God, as Euripides says,

  • Affairs of greatest weight himself directeth,
  • But matters small to Fortune he committeth.

But I think a prudent man ought not to commit any thing at all to Fortune, nor to neglect any thing, but to trust and commit some things to his wife, some things to his servants, and some things to his friends (as a prince to certain vicegerents and accountants and administrators), while he himself is employing his reason about the weightiest matters, and those of greatest concern.

For as small letters hurt the sight, so do small matters him that is too much intent upon them; they vex and stir Edition: current; Page: [59] up anger, which begets an evil habit in him in reference to greater affairs. But above all the rest, I look on that of Empedocles as a divine thing, “To fast from evil.” And I commended also those vows and professions made in prayers, as things neither indecent in themselves nor unbecoming a philosopher, — for a whole year to abstain from venery and wine, serving God with temperance all the while; or else again, for a certain time to abstain from lying, minding and watching over ourselves, that we speak nothing but what is true, either in earnest or in jest. After the manner of these vows then I made my own, supposing it would be no less acceptable to God and sacred than theirs; and I set myself first to observe a few sacred days also, wherein I would abstain from being angry, as if it were from being drunk or from drinking wine, celebrating a kind of Nephalia and Melisponda* with respect to my anger. Then, making trial of myself little by little for a month or two, I by this means in time made some good progress unto further patience in bearing evils, diligently observing and keeping myself courteous in language and behavior, free from anger, and pure from all wicked words and absurd actions, and from passion, which for a little (and that no grateful) pleasure brings with itself great perturbations and shameful repentance. Whence experience, not without some divine assistance, hath, I suppose, made it evident that that was a very true judgment and assertion, that this courteous, gentle, and kindly disposition and behavior is not so acceptable, so pleasing, and so delightful to any of those with whom we converse, as it is to those that have it.

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ModernGreek: 1. Some plants there are, in their own nature wild and barren, and hurtful to seed and garden-sets, which yet among able husbandmen pass for infallible signs of a rich and promising soil. In like manner, some passions of the mind not good in themselves yet serve as first shoots and promises of a disposition which is naturally good, and also capable of much improvement by cultivation. Among these I rank bashfulness, the subject of our present discourse; no ill sign indeed, but the cause and occasion of a great deal of harm. For the bashful oftentimes run into the same enormities as the most hardened and impudent, with this difference only, that the former feel a regret for such miscarriages, but the latter take a pleasure and satisfaction therein. The shameless person is without sense of grief for his baseness, and the bashful is in distress at the very appearance of it. For bashfulness is only modesty in the excess, and is aptly enough named δυσωπία (the being put out of countenance), since the face is in some sense confused and dejected with the mind. For as that grief which casts down the eyes is termed dejection, so that kind of modesty which cannot look another in the face is called bashfulness. The orator, speaking of a shameless fellow, said he carried harlots, not virgins, in his eyes;* on the other hand, the sheepishly bashful betrays Edition: current; Page: [61] no less the effeminacy and softness of his mind in his looks, palliating his weakness, which exposes him to the mercy of impudence, with the specious name of modesty. Cato indeed was wont to say of young persons, he had a greater opinion of such as were subject to color than of those that looked pale; teaching us thereby to look with greater apprehension on the heinousness of an action than on the reprimand which might follow, and to be more afraid of the suspicion of doing an ill thing than of the danger of it. However, too much anxiety and timidity lest we may do wrong is also to be avoided; because many men have become cowards and been deterred from generous undertakings, no less for fear of calumny and detraction than by the danger or difficulty of such attempts.

ModernGreek: 2. While therefore we must not suffer the weakness in the one case to pass unnoticed, neither must we abet or countenance invincible impudence in the other, such as is reported of Anaxarchus, —

  • Whose dog-like carriage and effrontery,
  • Despising infamy, out-faced disgrace.

A convenient mien between both is rather to be endeavored after, by repressing the over impudent, and animating the too meek temper. But as this kind of cure is difficult, so is the restraining such excesses not without danger; for as a gardener, in stubbing up some wild or useless bushes, makes at them carelessly with his spade, or burns them off the ground, but in dressing a vine, or grafting an apple, or pruning an olive, carries his hand with the greatest wariness and deliberation, that he may not unluckily injure the tree; so a philosopher, in removing envy, that useless and untractable plant, or covetousness or immoderate love of pleasure from the mind of youth, may cut deep safely, and make a large scar; but if he be to apply his discourse to some more sensible or delicate part, such as the restraining excess of Edition: current; Page: [62] bashfulness, it lies upon him to be very careful not to cut off or eradicate modesty with the contrary vice. For nurses who too often wipe away the dirt from their infants are apt to tear their flesh and put them to pain. And in like manner we must not so far extirpate all bashfulness in youth as to leave them careless or impudent; but as those that pull down private houses adjoining to the temples of the Gods prop up such parts as are contiguous to them, so in undermining bashfulness, due regard is to be had to adjacent modesty, good nature, and humanity. And yet these are the very qualities by which bashfulness insinuates itself and becomes fixed in a man, flattering him that he is goodnatured, courteous, and civil, and has common sense, and that he is not obstinate and inexorable. The Stoics, therefore, in their discourses of modesty, distinguish all along betwixt that and bashfulness, leaving not so much as ambiguity of terms for a pretence to the vice. However, asking their good leave, we shall make bold to use such words indifferently in either sense; or rather we shall follow the example of Homer, whose authority we have for it, that

  • Much harm oft-times from modesty befalls,
  • Much good oft-times.*

And it was not done amiss of him to make mention of the hurtfulness of it first, because modesty becomes profitable only through reason, which cuts off what is superfluous and leaves a just mean behind.

ModernGreek: 3. In the first place, therefore, the bashful man must be persuaded and satisfied that that distemper of the mind is prejudicial to him, and that nothing which is so can be eligible. And withal, he must be cautious how he suffers himself to be cajoled and led by the nose with the titles of courteous or sociable, in exchange for those of grave, Edition: current; Page: [63] great, and just; nor like Pegasus in Euripides, who, when Bellerophon mounted him,

With trembling stooped more than his lord desired,*

must he debase himself and yield to all who make their addresses to him, for fear of appearing hard and ungentle.

It is recorded of Bocchoris, king of Egypt, a man of a very cruel nature, that the goddess Isis sent a kind of a serpent (called aspis), which winding itself about his head cast a shadow over him from above, and was a means to him of determining causes according to equity. But bashfulness, on the contrary, happening upon remiss and spiritless tempers, suffers them not to express their dislike of any thing or to argue against it, but perverts many times the sentence of arbitrators, and stops the mouths of skilful pleaders, forcing them often to act and speak contrary to their conviction. And the most reckless man will always tyrannize and domineer over such a one, forcing his bashfulness by his own strength of impudence. Upon this account it is that bashfulness, like a low piece of soft ground, can make no resistance and decline no encounter, but is exposed to the meanest actions and vilest passions. But, above all, this is the worst guardian of raw and inexperienced youth. For, as Brutus said, he seems to have had but an ill education that has not learned to deny any thing. And no better overseer is it of the marriage-bed or the woman’s apartment; as the repentant lady in Sophocles accuses the spark that had debauched her, —

Thy tongue, thy flattering tongue prevailed.

So this vice, happening upon a disposition inclinable to debauchery, prepares and opens the way, and leaves all things easy and accessible to such as are ready to prefer their wicked designs. Presents and treats are irresistible baits for common mercenary creatures; but importunity, Edition: current; Page: [64] befriended with bashfulness on their side, has sometimes undone the modestest women. I omit what inconveniences this kind of modesty occasions, when it obliges men to lend their money to such whose credit is blown upon in the world, or to give bail for those they dare not trust; we do this, it is true, with an ill-will, and in our heart reflect upon that old saying, Be bail, and pay for it, yet cannot make use of it in our practice.

ModernGreek: 4. How many this fault has ruined, it is no easy thing to recount. Creon in the play gave a very good lesson for others to follow, when he told Medea, —

  • ’Tis better now to brave thy direst hate,
  • Than curse a foolish easiness too late.*

Yet afterwards, being wrought upon through his bashfulness to grant her but one day longer, he ruined himself and family by it. For the same reason, some, suspecting designs against them of murder or poisoning, have neglected to provide for their safety. Thus Dion could not be ignorant of the treachery of Callippus, yet thought it unfit to entertain such thoughts of his pretended friend and guest, and so perished. So again, Antipater, the son of Cassander, having entertained Demetrius at supper, and being engaged by him for the next night, because he was unwilling to distrust one who had trusted him, went, and had his throat cut after supper. Polysperchon had promised Cassander for an hundred talents to murder Hercules, the son of Alexander by Barsine. Upon this he invites him to sup; but the young man, having some suspicion of the thing, pretends himself indisposed. Polysperchon coming to him said: Sir, above all things endeavor after your father’s courteous behavior and obliging way to his friends, unless haply you look on us with suspicion as if we were compassing your health. The young man out of mere modesty was prevailed upon to go, and Edition: current; Page: [65] was strangled as he sat at meat. It is not therefore (as some will have us believe) insignificant or ridiculous, but on the contrary very wise advice, which Hesiod gives, —

Welcome a friend, but never call thy foe.*

Be not bashful and mealy-mouthed in refusing him that you are satisfied has a pique against you; but never reject him that seemeth to put his trust in you. For if you invite, you must expect to be invited again; and some time or other your entertainment will be repaid you, if bashfulness have once softened or turned the edge of that diffidence which ought to be your guard.

ModernGreek: 5. To the end therefore that we may get the better of this disease, which is the cause of so many evils, we must make our first attempts (as our custom is in other things) upon matters of no great difficulty. As, if one drink to you after you have taken what is sufficient, be not so foolishly modest to do violence to your nature, but rather venture to pass the glass. Another, it may be, would tempt you to play at dice while drinking; be not over-persuaded into a compliance, for fear of being the subject of his drollery, but reply with Xenophanes, when Lasus of Hermione called him coward because he refused to play at dice: Yes, said he, I confess myself the greatest coward in the world, for I dare not do an ill thing. Again, you light upon an impertinent talker, that sticks upon you like a burr; don’t be bashful, but break off the discourse. and pursue your business. These evasions and repulses, whereby our resolution and assurance are exercised in matters of less moment, will accustom us to it by degrees in greater occasions. And here it will be but seasonable to give you a passage, as it is recorded of Demosthenes. The Athenians having one time been moved to send succors to Harpalus, and themselves to engage in a war against Alexander, it happened that Philoxenus, Alexander’s admiral, Edition: current; Page: [66] unexpectedly arrived on their coast; and the people being so astonished as to be speechless for very fear, Demosthenes cried out: How would they endure the sun, who are not able to look against a lamp! Or how would you comport yourself in weightier concerns, while your prince or the people had an awe over you, if you cannot refuse a glass of wine when an acquaintance offers it, or turn off an impertinent babbler, but suffer the eternal trifler to walk over you without telling him, Another time, good sir, at present I am in haste.

ModernGreek: 6. Besides all this, the exercising such a resolution is of great use in praising others. If one of my friend’s harpers play lewdly, or a comedian he has hired at a great rate murder a piece of Menander in the acting, although the vulgar clap their hands and admire, I think it no moroseness on ill-breeding to sit silently all the while, without servilely joining in the common applauses contrary to my judgment. For if you scruple to deal openly with him in these cases, what will you do, should be repeat to you an insipid composition of his own, or submit to your revisal a ridiculous oration? You will applaud, of course, and enter yourself into the list of common parasites and flatterers! But how then can you direct him impartially in the greatest administrations of his life? how be free with him where he fails in any duties of his trust or marriage, or neglects the offices incumbent on him as a member of the community? I must confess, I cannot by any means approve of the reply Pericles made to a friend who besought him to give false evidence, and that too upon oath, when he thus answered: As far as the altar I am wholly at your service. Methinks he went too far. But he that has long before accustomed himself not to commend any thing against his judgment, or applaud an ill voice, or seem pleased with indecent scurrilities, will never suffer things to come to that issue; nor will any one be so bold Edition: current; Page: [67] as to solicit him in this manner: Swear on my side, give false evidence, or bring in an unjust verdict.

ModernGreek: 7. After the same manner we may learn to refuse such as come to borrow considerable sums of us, if we have used to deny in little matters where refusal is easy. As Archelaus, king of Macedon, sat at supper, one of his retinue, a fellow who thought there was nothing so honest as to receive, begged of him a golden cup. But the king commanded a waiter to give it immediately to Euripides: For you, sir, said he, are fit indeed to ask any thing, but to receive nothing; and he deserves to receive, though he lacks the confidence to ask. Thus wisely did he make his judgment, and not bashful timidity, his guide in bestowing favors. Yet we oftentimes, when the honesty, nearness, and necessities of our friends and relations are not motives sufficient to prevail with us to their relief, can give profusely to impudence and importunity, not out of any willingness to bestow our money so ill, but merely for want of confidence and resolution to deny. This was the case of Antigonus the elder. Being wearied out with the importunity of Bias, Give, said he to his servants, one talent to Bias and necessity. Yet at other times he was as expert at encountering such addresses as any prince, and dismissed them with as remarkable answers. Thus a certain Cynic one day begging of him a groat, he made answer, That is not for a prince to give. And the poor man replying, Then bestow a talent, he reparteed briskly, Nor that for a Cynic (or, for a dog) to receive. Diogenes went about begging to all the statues in the Ceramicus; and his answer to some that wondered at his fancy in it was, he was practising how to bear a repulse. But indeed it chiefly lies upon us to exercise ourselves in smaller matters to refuse an unreasonable request, that we may not be at loss how to refuse on occasions of greater magnitude. For no one, as Demosthenes says, who has spent all the money that he had in unnecessary Edition: current; Page: [68] expenses, will have plenty of money that he has not for his necessary expenses.* And our disgrace is increased many fold, if we want what is necessary or decent, and abound in trifles and fopperies.

ModernGreek: 8. Yet bashfulness is not only a bad steward of our estate, but even in weightier concerns it refuses to hearken to the wholesome advice of right reason. Thus, in a dangerous fit of sickness, we send not to the ablest physician, for fear of giving offence to another of our acquaintance. Or, in taking tutors and governors for our children, we make choice of such as obtrude themselves upon us, not such as are better qualified for that service. Or, in our lawsuits, we regard not to obtain counsel learned in the law, because we must gratify the son of some friend or relation, and give him an opportunity to show himself in the world. Nay, lastly, you shall find some that bear the name of philosophers, who call themselves Epicureans or Stoics, not out of choice, or upon the least conviction, but merely to oblige their friends or acquaintance, who have taken advantage of their modesty. Since then the case is so with us, we ought to prepare and exercise ourselves in things that we daily meet with and of course, not so much as indulging that foolish weakness in the choice of a barber or fuller, or in lodging in a paltry inn when better accommodation is to be had, to oblige the landlord who has cringed to us. But if it be merely to break ourselves of such follies, in those cases still we should make use of the best, though the difference be but inconsiderable; as the Pythagoreans were strict in observing not to cross their right knee with the left, or to use an even number with an odd, though all things else were indifferent. We must observe also, when we celebrate a sacrifice or keep a wedding or make a public entertainment, to deny ourselves so far as not to invite any that have been extremely complacent to us or Edition: current; Page: [69] that put themselves upon us, before those who are known for their good-humor or whose conversation is like to prove beneficial. For he that has accustomed himself thus far will hardly be caught and surprised, nay, rather he shall not so much as be tempted, in greater instances.

ModernGreek: 9. And thus much may suffice concerning exercising ourselves. My first use of what has been said is to observe, that all passions and distempers of the mind are still accompanied with those very evils which by their means we hoped to avoid. Thus disgrace pursues ambition; pain and indisposition, sensuality; softness and effeminacy are fretted with troubles; contentiousness with disappointment and defeats. But this is nowhere more conspicuous than in bashfulness, which, endeavoring to avoid the smoke of reproach, throws itself into the fire. Such men, wanting confidence to withstand those that unreasonably importune them, afterwards feel shame before those who justly accuse them, and for fear of a slight private rebuke incur more public disgrace. For example, not having the heart to deny a friend that comes to borrow, in short time they are reduced to the same extremity themselves, and exposed openly. Some again, after promising to help friends in a lawsuit, are ashamed to face the opposite party, and are forced to hide their heads and run away. Many have been so unreasonably weak in this particular as to accept of disadvantageous proposals of marriage for a daughter or sister, and upon second thoughts have been forced to bring themselves off with an arrant lie.

ModernGreek: 10. One made this observation of the people of Asia, that they were all slaves to one man, merely because they could not pronounce that syllable No; but he spake only in raillery. But now the bashful man, though he be not able to say one word, has but to raise his brows or nod downward, as if he minded not, and he may decline many ungrateful and unreasonable offices. Euripides was wont Edition: current; Page: [70] to say, Silence is an answer to a wise man;* but we seem to have greater occasion for it in our dealings with fools and unreasonable persons, for men of breeding and sense will be satisfied with reason and fair words. Upon this account we should be always provided with some notable sayings and choice apothegms of famous and excellent men, to repeat to the bashful, — such as that of Phocion to Antipater, You cannot have me for both a friend and a flatterer; and that of his to the Athenians, when they called upon him to come in for his share to defray the expenses of a festival; I am ashamed, said he, pointing to Callicles his creditor, to contribute towards your follies, without paying this man his due. For, as Thucydides says, It is an ill thing to be ashamed of one’s poverty, but much worse not to make use of lawful endeavors to avoid it. But he that is so foolishly good-natured that he cannot answer one that comes to borrow, —

My friend, no silver white have I in all my caves, —

but gives him a promise to be better provided, —

  • The wretch has made himself a slave to shame,
  • And drags a tiresome, though an unforged chain.

Persaeus, being about to accommodate a friend with a sum of money, paid it publicly in the market, and made the conditions before a banker, remembering, it may be, that of Hesiod, —

  • Seem not thy brother’s honesty to doubt;
  • Yet, smiling, call a witness to his hand.

But when his friend marvelled and asked, How now, so formally and according to law? Yea, quoth he, because I would receive my money again as a friend, and not have to trouble the law to recover it. For many out of bashfulness, not taking care to have good security at Edition: current; Page: [71] first, have been forced afterwards to break with their friends, and to have recourse to law for their money.

ModernGreek: 11. Again, Plato writing to Dionysius, by Helicon of Cyzicus, gives the bearer a good character for honesty and moderation, but withal in the postscript tells him, Yet this I write of a man, who, as such, is by nature an animal subject to change. Xenocrates, though a man of rigid morals, was prevailed upon by this kind of modesty to recommend to Polysperchon a person, as it proved in the end, not so honest as he was reputed. For when the Macedonian in compliment bade him call for whatever he wanted, he presently desired a talent of silver. Polysperchon ordered it accordingly to be paid him, but despatched away letters immediately to Xenocrates, advising him for the future to be better acquainted with those he recommended. Now all this came to pass through Xenocrates’s ignorance of his man; but we oftentimes give testimonials and squander away our money to advance such as we are very well satisfied have no qualification or desert to recommend them, and this too with the forfeiture of our reputation, and without the pleasure that men have who are profuse upon whores and flatterers, but all the while in an agony, and struggling with that impudence which does violence to our reason. Whereas, if at any time, that verse can here be properly used, —

I know the dreadful consequence, and fear,*

when such persons are at a man to forswear himself, or to give a wrong sentence, or to vote for an unjust bill, or lastly to be bound for one that will never be able to pay the debt.

ModernGreek: 12. All passions of the mind have repentance still pursuing them closely, but it overtakes this of bashfulness in the very act. For we give with regret, and we are in confusion Edition: current; Page: [72] while we bear false witness; our reputation is questioned when we engage for others, and when we fail we are condemned by all men. From this imperfection also it proceeds, that many things are imposed upon us not in our power to perform, as to recommend such a man to court, or to carry up an address to the governor, because we dare not, or at least we will not, confess that we are unknown to the prince or that another has more of his ear. Lysander, on the other hand, when he was in disgrace at court, but yet for his great services was thought to preserve something of his former esteem with Agesilaus, made no scruple to dismiss suitors, directing them to such as were more powerful with the king. For it is no disgrace not to be able to do every thing; but to undertake or pretend to what you are not made for is not only shameful, but extremely troublesome and vexatious.

ModernGreek: 13. But to proceed to another head, we must perform all reasonable and good offices to those that deserve them, not forced thereto by fear of shame, but cheerfully and readily. But where any thing prejudicial or unhandsome is required of us, we ought to remember the story that is related of Zeno. Meeting a young man of his acquaintance that slunk away under a wall, as if he would not be seen, and having learned from him that he withdrew from a friend that importuned him to perjure himself, What, replied he, you novice! is that fellow not afraid or ashamed to require of thee what is unreasonable and unjust, and darest thou not stand against him in that which is just and honest? For he that first started that doctrine, that knavery is the best defence against a knave, was but an ill teacher, advising us to keep off wickedness by imitating it. But for such as presume upon our modesty, to keep them off with their own weapons, and not gratify their unreasonable impudence with an easy compliance, is but just and good, and the duty of every wise man.

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ModernGreek: 14. Neither is it a hard matter to put off some mean and ordinary people, which will be apt to prove troublesome to you in that nature. Some shift them off with a jest or a smart repartee; as Theocritus, being asked in the bath to lend his flesh-brush by two persons, whereof one was a stranger to him, and the other a notorious thief, made answer: You, sir, I know not well enough, and you I know too well. And Lysimache, the priestess of Minerva Polias in Athens, when the muleteers that brought the provision for the festival desired her to let them drink, replied, No; for I fear it may grow into a custom. So again, when a captain’s son, a young fluttering bully but a great coward, petitioned Antigonus for promotion, the latter answered: Sir, it is my way to reward my soldiers for their valor, not their parentage.

ModernGreek: 15. But if he that is importunate with us prove a man of great honor or interest (and such persons are not easily answered with excuses, when they come for our vote in the senate or judicial cases), at such a time perhaps it will be neither easy nor necessary to behave ourselves to them as Cato did towards Catulus. Catulus, a person of the highest rank among the Romans, and at that time censor, once waited on Cato, who was then quaestor and still a young man, on behalf of a friend whom Cato had fined; and when he had used a great deal of importunity to no purpose, yet would not be denied, Cato grew out of patience, and told him, It would be an unseemly sight to have the censor dragged hence by my officers. Catulus at this went away, out of countenance and very angry. But consider whether the answers of Agesilaus and Themistocles have not in them much more of candor and equity. Agesilaus, being bidden by his own father to give sentence contrary to law, replied: I have been always taught by you to be observant of the laws, and I shall endeavor to obey you at this time, by doing nothing contrary to them. And Themistocles, when Edition: current; Page: [74] Simonides tempted him to commit a piece of injustice, said: You would be no good poet, should you break the laws of verse; and should I judge against the law, I should make no better magistrate.

ModernGreek: 16. For it is not because of blunders in metre in lyric songs, as Plato observes, that cities and friends are set at variance to their utter ruin and destruction, but because of their blunders with regard to law and justice. Yet there are a sort of men that can be very curious and critical in their verses and letters and lyric measures, and yet would persuade others to neglect that justice and honesty which all men ought to observe in offices, in passing judgments, and in all actions. But these men are to be dealt with after the following manner. An orator perhaps presses you to show him favor in a cause to be heard before you, or a demagogue importunes you when you are a senator: tell him you are ready to please him, on condition that he make a solecism in the beginning of his oration, or be guilty of some barbarous expression in his narration. These terms, for shame, he will not accept; for some we see so superstitiously accurate as not to allow of two vowels meeting one another. Again, you are moved by a person of quality to something of ill reputation: bid him come over the market-place at full noon dancing, or making buffoon-like grimaces; if he refuse, question him once more, whether he think it a more heinous offence to make a solecism or a grimace, than to break a law or to perjure one’s self, or to show more favor to a rascal than to an honest man. Nicostratus the Argive, when Archidamus promised him a vast sum of money and his choice of the Spartan ladies in marriage, if he would deliver up the town Cromnum into his hands, returned him this answer: He could no longer believe him descended from Hercules, he said, because Hercules traversed the world to destroy wicked men, but Archidamus made it his business to debauch those Edition: current; Page: [75] that were good. In like manner, if one that stands upon his quality or reputation presses us to do any thing dishonorable, we must tell him freely, he acts not as becomes a person of his character in the world.

ModernGreek: 17. But if it be a man of no quality that shall importune you, you may enquire of the covetous man, whether he would lend you a considerable sum without any other security than your word; desire the proud man to give you the higher seat; or the ambitious, to quit his pretensions to some honor that lies fair for him. For, to deal plainly, it is a shameful thing that these men should continue so stiff, so resolute, and so unmoved in their vicious habits, while we, who profess ourselves lovers of justice and honesty, have too little command of ourselves not to give up and betray basely the cause of virtue. If they that would practise upon our modesty do this out of desire of glory or power, why should we contract disgrace or infamy to ourselves, to advance the authority or set off the reputation of others? — like those who bestow the reward wrongfully in public games, or betray their trust in collecting the poll, who confer indeed garlands and honors upon other men, but at the same time forfeit their own reputation and good word. But suppose it be matter of interest only that puts them upon it; why should it not appear an unreasonable piece of service for us to forego our reputation and conscience to no other purpose than to satisfy another man’s avarice or make his coffers the heavier? After all, these I am afraid are the grand motives with most men in such cases, and they are even conscious that they are guilty; as men that are challenged and compelled to take too large a glass raise an hundred scruples and make as many grimaces before they drink.

ModernGreek: 18. This weakness of the mind may be compared to a constitution of body that can endure neither heat nor cold. For let them be praised by those that thus impudently Edition: current; Page: [76] set upon them, and they are at once mollified and broken by the flattery; but let them be blamed or so much as suspected by the same men after their suit has been refused, and they are ready to die for woe and fear. We ought therefore to prepare and fortify ourselves against both extremes, so as to be made a prey neither to such as pretend to frighten, nor to such as would cajole us. Thucydides is of opinion, since there is a necessary connection between envy and great undertakings, that he takes the wisest counsel who incurs envy by aiming the highest.* But we who esteem it less difficult to avoid the envy of all men than to escape the censure of those we live among, ought to order things so as rather to grapple with the unjust hatred of evil men, than to deserve their just accusation after we have served their base ends. We ought to go armed against that false and counterfeit praise such men are apt to fling upon us, not suffering ourselves like swine to be scratched and tickled by them, till, having got the advantage of us, they use us after their own pleasure. For they that reach out their ears to flatterers differ very little from such as stand fair and quiet to be tripped up, excepting that the former catch the more disgraceful fall. These put up with the affronts and forbear the correction of wicked men, to get the reputation of good-natured or merciful; or else are drawn into needless and perilous quarrels at the instance of flatterers, who bear them in hand all the while for the only men of judgment, the only men not to be caught with flattery, and call them the only men who have mouths and voices. Bion used to compare these men to pitchers: Take them, said he, by the ears, and you may move them as you please. Thus Alexinus, the sophist, was reporting many scandalous things in the lyceum of Stilpo the Megarian; but when one present informed him that Stilpo always spake very honorably of him, Why truly, Edition: current; Page: [77] says he, he is one of the most obliging and best of men. But now Menedemus, when it was told him that Alexinus often praised him, replied: That may be, but I always talk against him; for he must be bad who either praises a bad man or is blamed by an honest one. So wary was he of being caught by such baits, agreeably to that precept of Hercules in Antisthenes,* who cautioned his sons not to be thankful to such as were used to praise them, — thereby meaning no more than that they should be so far from being wheedled thereby as not even to return their flatteries. That of Pindar was very apposite, and enough to be said in such a case: when one told him, I cry you up among all men, and speak to your advantage on all occasions; and I, replied he, am always very thankful, in that I take care you shall not tell a lie.

ModernGreek: 19. I shall conclude with one general rule, of sovereign use against all the passions and diseases of the mind, but particularly beneficial to such as labor under the present distemper, bashfulness. And it is this: whenever they have given way to this weakness, let them store up carefully such failings in their memory, and taking therein deep and lively impressions of what remorse and disquiet they occasioned, bestow much time in reflecting upon them and keeping them fresh. For as travellers that have got a dangerous fall against such a stone, or sailors shipwrecked upon a particular promontory, keeping the image of their misfortune continually before them, appear fearful and apprehensive not only of the same but even the like dangers; so they that keep in mind the disgraceful and prejudicial effects of bashfulness will soon be enabled to restrain themselves in like cases, and will not easily slip again on any occasion.

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ModernGreek: 1. Men deliberate and dispute variously concerning virtue, whether prudence and justice and the right ordering of one’s life can be taught. Moreover, we marvel that the works of orators, shipmasters, musicians, carpenters, and husbandmen are infinite in number, while good men are only a name, and are talked of like centaurs, giants, and the Cyclops, and that as for any virtuous action that is sincere and unblamable, and manners that are without any touch and mixture of bad passions and affections, they are not to be found; but if Nature of its own accord should produce any thing good and excellent, so many things of a foreign nature mix with it (just as wild and impure productions with generous fruit) that the good is scarce discernible. Men learn to sing, dance, and read, and to be skilful in husbandry and good horsemanship; they learn how to put on their shoes and their garments; they have those that teach them how to fill wine, and to dress and cook their meat; and none of these things can be done as they ought, unless they be instructed how to do them. And will ye say, O foolish men! that the skill of ordering one’s life well (for the sake of which are all the rest) is not to be taught, but to come of its own accord, without reason and without art?

ModernGreek: 2. Why do we, by asserting that virtue is not to be taught, make it a thing that does not at all exist? For if by its Edition: current; Page: [79] being learned it is produced, he that hinders its being learned destroys it. And now, as Plato* says, we never heard that because of a blunder in metre in a lyric song, therefore one brother made war against another, nor that it put friends at variance, nor that cities hereupon were at such enmity that they did to one another and suffered one from another the extremest injuries. Nor can any one tell us of a sedition raised in a city about the right accenting or pronouncing of a word, — as whether we are to say Τελχῖνας or Τέλχινας, — nor that a difference arose in a family betwixt man and wife about the woof and the warp in cloth. Yet none will go about to weave in a loom or to handle a book or a harp, unless he has first been taught, though no great harm would follow if he did, but only the fear of making himself ridiculous (for, as Heraclitus says, it is a piece of discretion to conceal one’s ignorance); and yet a man without instruction presumes himself able to order a family, a wife, or a commonwealth, and to govern very well. Diogenes, seeing a youth devouring his victuals too greedily, gave his tutor a box on the ear, and that deservedly, as judging it the fault of him that had not taught, not of him that had not learned better manners. And what? is it necessary to begin to learn from a boy how to eat and drink handsomely in company, as Aristophanes expresses it, —

  • Not to devour their meat in haste, nor giggle,
  • Nor awkwardly their feet across to wriggle,

and yet are men fit to enter into the fellowship of a family, city, married estate, private conversation, or public office, and to manage it without blame, without any previous instruction concerning good behavior in conversation?

When one asked Aristippus this question, What, are you everywhere? he laughed and said, I throw away the fare of the waterman, if I am everywhere. And why canst not thou also answer, that the salary given to tutors is thrown Edition: current; Page: [80] away and lost, if none are the better for their discipline and instruction. But, as nurses shape and form the body of a child with their hands, so these masters, when the nurses have done with them, first receive them into their charge, in order to the forming of their manners and directing their steps into the first tracks of virtue. To which purpose the Lacedaemonian, that was asked what good he did to the child of whom he had the charge, answered well: I make good and honest things pleasant to children. These masters also teach them to bend down their heads as they go along, to touch salt fish with one finger only, but fresh fish, bread, and flesh with two; thus to scratch themselves, and thus to tuck up their garments.

ModernGreek: 3. Now he that says that the art of physic may be proper for a tetter or a whitlow, but not to be made use of for a pleurisy, a fever, or a frenzy, in what does he differ from him that should say that it is fit there should be schools, and discourses, and precepts, to teach trifling and childish things, but that all skill in greater and more manly things comes from use without art and from accidental opportunity? For as he would be ridiculous who should say, that one who never learned to row ought not to lay hand on the oar, but that he might guide the helm who was never taught it; so is he that gives leave for men to be instructed in other arts, but not in virtue. He seems to be quite contrary to the practice of the Scythians, who, as Herodotus* tells us, put out their servants’ eyes, to prevent them from running away; but he puts the eye of reason into these base and slavish arts, and plucks it from virtue. But the general Iphicrates — when Callias, the son of Chabrias, asked him, What art thou? Art thou an archer or a targeteer, a trooper or a foot-soldier? — answered well, I am none of all these, but one that commands them all. He therefore would be ridiculous that should say that the skill of drawing Edition: current; Page: [81] a bow, of handling arms, of throwing with a sling, and of good horsemanship, might indeed be taught, but the skill of commanding and leading an army came as it happened, one knew not how. And would not he be still more ridiculous who should say that prudence only could not be taught, without which all those arts are useless and unprofitable? When she is the governess, ranking all things in due place and order, every thing is assigned to become useful; for instance, how ungraceful would a feast be, though all concerned were skilful and enough practised in cookery, in dressing and serving up the meat, and in filling the wine as they ought, if all things were not well disposed and ordered among those that waited at the table? . . .

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ModernGreek: 1. It was a singular instance of the wisdom of this nation, in that they took the greatest care they could, by an early sober education, to instil into their youth the principles of virtue and good manners, that so, by a constant succession of prudent and valiant men, they might the better provide for the honor and security of their state, and lay in the minds of every one a solid and good foundation of love and friendship, of prudence and knowledge, of temperance and frugality, of courage and resolution. And therefore their great lawgiver thought it necessary for the ends of government to institute several distinct societies and conventions of the people; amongst which was that of their solemn and public living together at one table, where their custom was to admit their youth into the conversation of their wise and elderly men, that so by daily eating and drinking with them they might insensibly, as it were, be trained up to a right knowledge of themselves, to a just submission to their superiors, and to the learning of whatever might conduce to the reputation of their laws and the interest of their country. For here they were taught all the wholesome rules of discipline, and daily instructed how to demean Edition: current; Page: [83] themselves from the example and practice of their great ones; and though they did not at this public meeting confine themselves to set and grave discourses concerning the civil government, but allowed themselves a larger freedom, by mingling sometimes with their politics the easy and familiar entertainments of mirth and satire, yet this was ever done with the greatest modesty and discretion, not so much to expose the person of any one, as to reprove the fault he had committed. Whatever was transacted at these stated and common feasts was to be locked up in every one’s breast with the greatest silence and secrecy, insomuch as the eldest among them at these assemblies, pointing to the door, acquainted him who entered the room that nothing of what was done or spoken there was to be talked of afterwards.

ModernGreek: 2. At all these public meetings they used a great deal of moderation, they being designed only for schools of temperance and modesty, not for luxury and indecency; their chief dish and only delicacy being a sort of pottage (called by them their black broth, and made of some little pieces of flesh, with a small quantity of blood, salt, and vinegar), and this the more ancient among them generally preferred to any sort of meat whatsoever, as the more pleasing entertainment and of a more substantial nourishment. The younger sort contented themselves with flesh and other ordinary provisions, without tasting of this dish, which was reserved only for the old men. It is reported of Dionysius, the Sicilian tyrant, that having heard of the great fame and commendation of this broth, he hired a certain cook of Lacedaemon, who was thoroughly skilled in the make and composition of it, to furnish his table every day with so great and curious a dainty; and that he might have it in the greatest perfection, enjoined him to spare no cost in the making it agreeable and pleasant to his palate. But it seems the end answered not the pains he took in it; for Edition: current; Page: [84] after all his care and niceness, the king, as soon as he had tasted of it, found it both fulsome and nauseous to his stomach, and spitting it out with great distaste, as if he had taken down a vomit, sufficiently expressed his disapprobation of it. But the cook, not discouraged at this dislike of his master, told the tyrant that he humbly conceived the reason of this disagreeableness to him was not in the pottage, but rather in himself, who had not prepared his body for such food according to the Laconic mode and custom. For hard labors and long exercises and moderate abstinence (the best preparatives to a good and healthy appetite) and frequent bathings in the river Eurotas were the only necessaries for a right relish and understanding of the excellency of this entertainment.

ModernGreek: 3. ’Tis true, their constant diet was very mean and sparing; not what might pamper their bodies or make their minds soft and delicate, but such only as would barely serve to supply the common necessities of nature. This they accustomed themselves to, that so they might become sober and governable, active and bold in the defence of their country; they accounting only such men serviceable to the state, who could best endure the extremes of hunger and cold, and with cheerfulness and vigor run through the fatigues of labor and the difficulties of hardship. Those who could fast longest after a slender meal, and with the least provision satisfy their appetites, were esteemed the most frugal and temperate, and most sprightly and healthful, the most comely and well proportioned; nature, through such a temperance and moderation of diet, not suffering the constitution to run out into an unwieldy bulk or greatness of body (the usual consequence of full tables and too much ease), but rather rendering it thereby nervous and sinewy, of a just and equal growth, and consolidating and knitting together all the several parts and members of it. A very little drink did serve their turn, who never drank Edition: current; Page: [85] but when an extreme thirst provoked them to it; for at all their common entertainments they studied the greatest measures of sobriety, and took care they should be deprived of all kinds of compotations whatsoever. And at night when they returned home, they went cheerfully to their sleep, without the assistance of any light to direct them to their lodging; that being prohibited them as an indecent thing, the better to accustom them to travel in the dark, without any sense of fear or apprehensions of danger.

ModernGreek: 4. They never applied their minds to any kind of learning, further than what was necessary for use and service; nature indeed having made them more fit for the purposes of war than for the improvements of knowledge. And therefore for speculative sciences and philosophic studies, they looked upon them as foreign to their business and unserviceable to their ends of living, and for this reason they would not tolerate them amongst them, nor suffer the professors of them to live within their government. They banished them their cities, as they did all sorts of strangers, esteeming them as things that did debase the true worth and excellency of virtue, which they made to consist only in manly actions and generous exercises, and not in vain disputations and empty notions. So that the whole of what their youth was instructed in was to learn obedience to the laws and injunctions of their governors, to endure with patience the greatest labors, and where they could not conquer, to die valiantly in the field For this reason likewise it was, that all mechanic arts and trades, all vain and insignificant employments, such as regarded only curiosity or pleasure, were strictly prohibited them, as things that would make them degenerate into idleness and covetousness, would render them vain and effeminate, useless to themselves, and unserviceable to the state; and on this account it was that they would never suffer any scenes or Edition: current; Page: [86] interludes, whether of comedy or tragedy, to be set up among them, lest there should be any encouragement given to speak or act any thing that might savor of contempt or contumely against their laws and government, it being customary for the stage to assume an indecent liberty of taxing the one with faults and the other with imperfections.

ModernGreek: 5. As to their apparel, they were as thinly clad as they were dieted, never exceeding one garment, which they wore for the space of a whole year. And this they did, the better to inure them to hardship and to bear up against all the injuries of the weather, that so the extremities of heat and cold should have no influence at all upon their constitution. They were as regardless of their selves as they were negligent of their clothes, denying themselves (unless it were at some stated time of the year) the use of ointments and bathings to keep them clean and sweet, as too expensive and signs of a too soft and delicate temper of body.

ModernGreek: 6. Their youth, as they were instructed and ate in public together, so at night slept in distinct companies in one common chamber, and on no other beds than what were made of reeds, which they had gathered out of the river Eurotas, near the banks of which they grew. This was the only accommodation they had in the summer, but in winter they mingled with the reeds a certain soft and downy thistle, having much more of heat and warmth in it than the other.

ModernGreek: 7. It was freely allowed them to place an ardent affection upon those whose excellent endowments recommended them to the love and consideration of any one; but then this was always done with the greatest innocency and modesty, and every way becoming the strictest rules and measures of virtue, it being accounted a base and dishonorable passion in any one to love the body and not the Edition: current; Page: [87] mind, as those did who in their young men preferred the beauty of the one before the excellency of the other. Chaste thoughts and modest discourses were the usual entertainments of their loves; and if any one was accused at any time either of wanton actions or impure discourse, it was esteemed by all so infamous a thing, that the stains it left upon his reputation could never be wiped out during his whole life.

ModernGreek: 8. So strict and severe was the education of their youth, that whenever they were met with in the streets by your grave and elderly persons, they underwent a close examination; it being their custom to enquire of them upon what business and whither they were going, and if they did not give them a direct and true answer to the question demanded of them, but shamed them with some idle story or false pretence, they never escaped without a rigorous censure and sharp correction. And this they did to prevent their youth from stealing abroad upon any idle or bad design, that so, through the uneasy fears of meeting these grave examiners, and the impossibility of escaping punishment upon their false account and representations of things, they might be kept within due compass, and do nothing that might entrench upon truth or offend against the rules of virtue. Nor was it expected only from their superiors to censure and admonish them upon any miscarriage or indecency whatsoever, but it was strictly required of them under a severe penalty; for he who did not reprove a fault that was committed in his presence, and showed not his just resentments of it by a verbal correction, was adjudged equally culpable with the guilty, and obnoxious to the same punishment. For they could not imagine that person had a serious regard for the honor of their laws and the reputation of their government, who could carelessly pass by any immorality and patiently see the least corruption of good manners in their youth; by which means they took Edition: current; Page: [88] away all occasions of fondness, partiality, and indulgence in the aged, and all presumption, irreverence, and disobedience, and especially all impatiency of reproof, in the younger sort. For not to endure the reprehension of their superiors in such cases was highly disgraceful to them, and ever interpreted as an open renunciation of their authority, and a downright opposing of the justice of their proceedings.

ModernGreek: 9. Besides, when any was surprised in the commission of some notorious offence, he was presently sentenced to walk round a certain altar in the city, and publicly to shame himself by singing an ingenious satire, composed by himself, upon the crime and folly he had been guilty of, that so the punishment might be inflicted by the same hand which had contracted the guilt.

ModernGreek: 10. Their children were brought up in a strict obedience to their parents, and taught from their infancy to pay a profound reverence to all their dictates and commands. And no less were they enjoined to show an awful regard and observance to all their superiors in age and authority, so as to rise up before the hoary head, and to honor the face of the old man, to give him the way when they met him in the streets, and to stand still and remain silent till he was passed by; insomuch as it was indulged them, as a peculiar privilege due to their age and wisdom, not only to have a paternal authority over their own children, servants, and estates, but over their neighbors too, as if they were a part of their own family and propriety; that so in general there might be a mutual care, and an united interest, zealously carried on betwixt them for the private good of every one in particular, as well as for the public good of the communities they lived in. By this means they never wanted faithful counsellors to assist with good advice in all their concerns, nor hearty friends to prosecute each other’s interest as it were their own; by this means they never wanted Edition: current; Page: [89] careful tutors and guardians for their youth, who were always at hand to admonish and instruct them in the solid principles of virtue.

ModernGreek: 11. No one durst show himself refractory to their instructions, nor at the least murmur at their reprehensions; insomuch that, whenever any of their youth had been punished by them for some ill that had been done, and a complaint thereupon made by them to their parents of the severity they had suffered, hoping for some little relief from their indulgence and affection, it was accounted highly dishonorable in them not to add to their punishment by a fresh correction for the folly and injustice of their complaint. For by the common interest of discipline, and that great care that every one was obliged to take in the education of their youth, they had a firm trust and assurance in one another, that they never would enjoin their children the performance of any thing that was in the least unnecessary or unbecoming them.

ModernGreek: 12. Though it might seem very strange and unaccountable in this wise nation, that any thing which had the least semblance of baseness or dishonesty should be universally approved, commended, and encouraged by their laws, yet so it was in the case of theft, whereby their young children were allowed to steal certain things, as particularly the fruit of their orchards or their messes at their feasts. But then this was not done to encourage them to the desires of avarice and injustice, but to sharpen their wits, and to make them crafty and subtle, and to train them up in all sorts of wiles and cunning, watchfulness and circumspection, whereby they were rendered more apt to serve them in their wars, which was upon the matter the whole profession of this commonwealth. And if at any time they were taken in the act of stealing, they were most certainly punished with rods and the penance of fasting; not because they esteemed the stealth criminal, but because they Edition: current; Page: [90] wanted skill and cunning in the management and concealing of it.*

ModernGreek: 14. They spent a great part of their studies in poetry and music, which raised their minds above the ordinary level, and by a kind of artificial enthusiasm inspired them with generous heats and resolutions for action. Their compositions, consisting only of very grave and moral subjects, were easy and natural, in a plain dress, and without any paint or ornament, containing nothing else but the just commendations of those great personages whose singular wisdom and virtue had made their lives famous and exemplary, and whose courage in defence of their country had made their deaths honorable and happy. Nor were the valiant and virtuous only the subject of these songs; but the better to make men sensible of what rewards and honors are due to the memory of such, they made invectives in them upon those who were signally vicious and cowards, as men who died with as much contempt as they had lived with infamy. They generally concluded their poem with a solemn profession of what they would be, boasting of their progress in virtue, agreeable to the abilities of their nature and the expectations of their age.

ModernGreek: 15. At all their public festivals these songs were a great part of their entertainment, where there were three companies of singers, representing the three several ages of nature. The old men made up the first chorus, whose business was to present what they had been after this manner: —

  • That active courage youthful blood contains
  • Did once with equal vigor warm our veins.

To which the chorus, consisting of young men only, thus answers: —

  • Valiant and bold we are, let who will try:
  • Who dare accept our challenge soon shall die.
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The third, which were of young children, replied to them in this manner: —

  • Those seeds which Nature in our breast did sow
  • Shall soon to generous fruits of virtue grow;
  • Then all those valiant deeds which you relate
  • We will excel, and scorn to imitate.*

ModernGreek: 16. They made use of a peculiar measure in their songs, when their armies were in their march towards an enemy, which being sung in a full choir to their flutes seemed proper to excite in them a generous courage and contempt of death. Lycurgus was the first who brought this warlike music into the field, that so he might moderate and soften the rage and fury of their minds in an engagement by solemn musical measures, and that their valor (which should be no boisterous and unruly thing) might always be under the government of their reason, and not of passion. To this end it was always their custom before the fight to sacrifice to the Muses, that they might behave themselves with as much good conduct as with courage, and do such actions as were worthy of memory, and which might challenge the applauses and commendations of every one.

ModernGreek: 17. And indeed so great an esteem and veneration had they for the gravity and simplicity of their ancient music, that no one was allowed to recede in the least from the established rules and measures of it, insomuch as the Ephori, upon complaint made to them, laid a severe mulct upon Terpander (a musician of great note and eminency for his incomparable skill and excellency in playing upon the harp, and who, as he had ever professed a great veneration for antiquity, so ever testified by his eulogiums and commendations the esteem he always had of virtuous and heroic actions), depriving him of his harp, and (as a peculiar punishment) exposing it to the censure Edition: current; Page: [92] of the people, by fixing it upon a nail, because he had added one string more to his instrument than was the usual and stated number, though done with no other design and advantage than to vary the sound, and to make it more useful and pleasant. That music was ever accounted among them the best, which was most grave, simple, and natural. And for this reason too, when Timotheus in their Carnean feasts, which were instituted in honor of Apollo, contended for a preference in his art, one of the Ephori took a knife in his hand, and cut the strings of his harp, for having exceeded the number of seven in it. So severely tenacious were they of their ancient customs and practices, that they would not suffer the least innovation, though in things that were indifferent and of no great importance, lest an indulgence in one thing might have introduced another, till at length by gradual and insensible alterations the whole body of their laws might be disregarded and contemned, and so the main pillar which did support the fabric of their government be weakened and undermined.

ModernGreek: 18. Lycurgus took away that superstition, which formerly indeed had been the practice among them, concerning their sepulchre and funeral solemnities, by permitting them to bury the remains of their departed friends within the city, that so they might the better secure them from the rude and barbarous violence of an enemy, and to erect their monuments for them in separated places joining to their temples; that, having their graves and tombs always before their eyes, they might not only remember but imitate the worthy actions they had done, and so lessen the fears and apprehensions of death with the consideration of those honors they paid their memories when they put off their mortalities. He took away those pollutions which they formerly looked upon as arising from their dead bodies, and prohibited all costly and sumptuous expenses at their funerals, it being very improper for those who while alive Edition: current; Page: [93] generally abstained from whatever was vain and curious to be carried to the grave with any pomp and magnificence. Therefore without the use of drugs and ointments, without any rich odors and perfumes, without any art or curiosity, save only the little ornament of a red vestment and a few olive-leaves, they carried him to the place of burying, where he was, without any formal sorrows and public lamentations, honorably and securely laid up in a decent and convenient sepulchre. And here it was lawful for any one who would be at the trouble to erect a monument for the person deceased, but not to engrave the least inscription on it; this being the peculiar reward of such only who had signalized themselves in war, and died gallantly in defence of their country.

ModernGreek: 19, 20. It was not allowed any of them to travel into foreign countries, lest their conversation should be tinctured with the customs of those places, and they at their return introduce amongst them new modes and incorrect ways of living, to the corruption of good manners and the prejudice of their own laws and usage; for which reason they expelled all strangers from Sparta, lest they should insinuate their vices and their folly into the affections of the people, and leave in the minds of their citizens the bad principles of softness and luxury, ease and covetousness.

ModernGreek: 21. Nothing could sooner forfeit the right and privilege of a citizen, than refusing their children that public education which their laws and country demanded of them. For as none of them were on any account exempt from obedience to their laws, so, if any one out of an extraordinary tenderness and indulgence would not suffer his sons to be brought up according to their strict discipline and institutions, he was straightways disfranchised. For they could not think that person could ever prove serviceable to their government, who had not been educated with the same care and severity with his fellow-subjects. And it was no Edition: current; Page: [94] less a shame and reproach to the parents themselves, who could be of such mean and abject spirits as to prefer the love of their children to the love of their country, and the satisfaction of a fond and imprudent passion to the honor and security of their state.

ModernGreek: 23. Nay further, as there was a community of children, so there was of their goods and estates, it being free for them in case of necessity to make use of their neighbor’s servants, as if they were their own; and not only so, but of their horses and dogs too, unless the owners stood in need of them themselves, whenever they designed the diversion of hunting, an exercise peculiar to this nation, and to which they were accustomed from their youth. And if upon any extraordinary occasion any one was pressed with the want of what his neighbors were possessed of, he went freely to them and borrowed, as though he had been the right proprietary of their storehouses; and being supplied answerably to his necessities, he carefully sealed them up again and left them secure.

ModernGreek: 24. In all their warlike expeditions they generally clothed themselves with a garment of a purple color, as best becoming the profession of soldiers, and carrying in them a signification of that blood they were resolved to shed in the service of their country. It was of use likewise, not only to cast a greater terror into their adversaries and to secure from their discovery the wounds they should receive, but likewise for distinction’s sake, that in the heat and fury of the battle they might discriminate each other from the enemy. They always fought with consideration and cunning, craft being many times of more advantage to them than downright blows; for it is not the multitude of men, nor the strongest arm and the sharpest sword, that make men masters of the field.

ModernGreek: 25. Whenever a victory was gained through a well-contrived stratagem, and thereby with little loss of men and Edition: current; Page: [95] blood, they always sacrificed an ox to Mars; but when the success was purely owing to their valor and prowess, they only offered up a cock to him; it being in their estimation more honorable for their generals and commanders to overcome their enemies by policy and subtlety than by mere strength and courage.

ModernGreek: 26, 27. One great part of their religion lay in their solemn prayers and devotion, which they daily offered up to their Gods, heartily requesting of them to enable them to bear all kinds of injuries with a generous and unshaken mind, and to reward them with honor and prosperity, according to their performances of piety and virtue.

ModernGreek: 28. Besides, it was a great part of that honor they paid their Gods, of whatever sex they were, to adorn them with military weapons and armor, partly out of superstition and an extraordinary reverence they had for the virtue of fortitude, which they preferred to all others, and which they looked upon as an immediate gift of the Gods, as being the greatest lovers and patrons of those who were endued with it; and partly to encourage every one to address his devotions to them for it; insomuch as Venus herself, who in other nations was generally represented naked, had her armor too, as well as her particular altars and worshippers.

ModernGreek: 29. Whenever they take any business of moment in hand, they generally pray to Fortune in a set form of words for their success in it;* it being no better in their esteem than profaneness and irreverence to their Gods to invoke them upon slight and trivial emergencies.

ModernGreek: 30. No discovery of what is bad and vicious comes with greater evidence to the spirits and apprehensions of children, who are unable to bear the force of reason, than that which is offered to them by way of example. Therefore Edition: current; Page: [96] the Spartan discipline did endeavor to preserve their youth (on whom philosophical discourses would have made but small impression) from all kinds of intemperance and excess of wine, by presenting before them all the indecencies of their drunken Helots, persons indeed who were their slaves, and employed not only in all kinds of servile offices, but especially in tilling of their fields and manuring of their ground, which was let out to them at reasonable rates, they paying in every year their returns of rent, according to what was anciently established and ordained amongst them at the first general division of their lands. And if any did exact greater payments from them, it was esteemed an execrable thing amongst them; they being desirous that the Helots might reap gain and profit from their labors, and thereupon be obliged faithfully to serve their masters as well as their own interest with greater cheerfulness and industry. And therefore their lords never required more of them than what bare custom and contracts exacted of them.

ModernGreek: 33. They adjudged it necessary for the preservation of that gravity and seriousness of manners which was required of their youth for the attainments of wisdom and virtue, never to admit of any light and wanton, any ludicrous or effeminate poetry; which made them allow of no poets among them but such only who for their grave and virtuous compositions were approved by the public magistrate; that being hereby under some restraint, they might neither act nor write any thing to the prejudice of good manners, or to the dishonor of their laws and government.

ModernGreek: 34. And therefore it was, that when they heard of Archilochus’s arrival at Sparta (though a Lacedaemonian, and of an excellent wit), yet they presently commanded him to depart the city, having understood how that in a poem of his he had affirmed it was greater wisdom for a man to throw his arms away and secure himself by flight, than to stand Edition: current; Page: [97] to his own defence with the hazard of his life, or therein to die valiantly in the field. His words were after this manner: —

  • Let who will boast their courage in the field,
  • I find but little safety from my shield.
  • Nature’s not Honor’s laws we must obey;
  • This made me cast my useless shield away,
  • And by a prudent flight and cunning save
  • A life, which valor could not, from the grave.
  • A better buckler I can soon regain,
  • But who can get another life again?*

ModernGreek: 35. It was a received opinion amongst many nations, that some of their Gods were propitious only to their men, and others only to their women, which made them sometimes prohibit the one and sometimes the other from being present at their sacred rites and solemnities. But the Lacedaemonians took away this piece of superstition by not excluding either sex from their temples and religious services; but, as they were always bred up to the same civil exercises, so they were to the same common performances of their holy mysteries, so that by an early knowledge of each other there might be a real love and friendship established betwixt them, which ever stood most firm upon the basis of religion.

ModernGreek: 36. Their virtuous man, as he was to do no wrong, so likewise was not to suffer any without a due sense and modest resentment of it; and therefore the Ephori laid a mulct upon Sciraphidas, because he could so tamely receive the many injuries and affronts that were offered him, — concluding that he who was so insensible of his own interest as not to stand up in a bold and honest vindication of himself from the wrongs and injustice that may be done to his Edition: current; Page: [98] good name and honor, would without all doubt be as dull and listless, when an opportunity should invite him to it, in appearing for the defence of the fame and reputation of his country.

ModernGreek: 39. Action and not speaking was the study and commendation of a Spartan, and therefore polite discourses and long harangues were not with them the character of a wise or learned man, their speech being always grave and sententious, without any ornament or tedious argumentation. They accustomed themselves to brevity, and upon every subject to express themselves in the finest words, with as much satire and smartness as possible; insomuch as they had a law among them for the instruction of their youth, by which they were enjoined to practise a close and compendious style in all their orations; which made them banish one Cephisophon, a talkative rhetorician, for boasting publicly that he could upon any subject whatsoever entertain his auditory for a whole day together; alleging this as a sufficient reason for their justification, that it was the part of a good orator to adjust his discourse according to the weight and dignity of the matter he was to treat of.

ModernGreek: 40. There was indeed a strange and unnatural custom amongst them, annually observed at the celebration of the bloody rites of Diana Orthia, where there was a certain number of children, not only of the vulgar sort but of the gentry and nobility, who were whipped almost to death with rods before the altar of the goddess; their parents and relations standing by, and all the while exhorting them to patience and constancy in suffering. Although this ceremony lasted for the space of a whole day, yet they underwent this barbarous rite with such a prodigious cheerfulness and resolution of mind as never could be expected from the softness and tenderness of their age. They did not so much as express one little sigh or groan during the whole solemnity, but out of a certain emulation and desire Edition: current; Page: [99] of glory there was a great contention among them, who should excel his companions in the constancy of enduring the length and sharpness of their pains; and he who held out the longest was ever the most esteemed and valued person amongst them, and the glory and reputation where-with they rewarded his sufferings rendered his after life much more eminent and illustrious.

ModernGreek: 42. They had a very slight regard to maritime affairs, on the account of an ancient law amongst them, whereby they were prohibited from applying of themselves to the becoming of good seamen or engaging themselves in any sea-fight. Afterwards indeed, through the necessity of affairs and the security of their country, they judged it convenient, when they were invaded by the Athenians and other nations, to furnish themselves with a navy; by which it was that Lysander, who was then the general in that expedition, obtained a great victory over the Athenians, and thereby for a considerable time secured the sovereignty of the seas to themselves. But finding afterwards this grievance arising from it, that there was a very sensible corruption of good manners and decay of discipline amongst them, from the conversation of their rude and debauched mariners, they were obliged to lay this profession wholly aside, and by a revival of this law endeavor to retrieve their ancient sobriety, and, by turning the bent and inclinations of the people into their old channel again, to make them tractable and obedient, modest and virtuous. Though indeed they did not long hold to their resolution herein, any more than they were wont to do in other matters of moment, which could not but be variable, according to the circumstances of affairs and the necessities of their government. For though great riches and large possessions were things they hated to death, it being a capital crime and punishment to have any gold or silver in their houses, or to amass up together heaps of money (which was generally made with Edition: current; Page: [100] them of iron or leather), — for which reason several had been put to death, according to that law which banished covetousness out of the city, on the account of an answer of their oracle to Alcamenes and Theopompus, two of their Spartan kings,

That the love of money should be the ruin of Sparta, —

yet notwithstanding the severe penalty annexed to the heaping up much wealth, and the example of those who had suffered for it, Lysander was highly honored and rewarded for bringing in a great quantity of gold and silver to Lacedaemon, after the victory he had gained over the Athenians, and the taking of the city of Athens itself, wherein an inestimable treasure was found. So that what had been a capital crime in others was a meritorious act in him. It is true indeed that as long as the Spartas did adhere closely to the observation of the laws and rules of Lycurgus, and keep their oath religiously to be true to their own government, they outstripped all the other cities of Greece for prudence and valor, and for the space of five hundred years became famous everywhere for the excellency of their laws and the wisdom of their policy. But when the honor of these laws began to lessen and their citizens grew luxurious and exorbitant, when covetousness and too much liberty had softened their minds and almost destroyed the wholesome constitution of their state, their former greatness and power began by little and little to decay and dwindle in the estimation of men. And as by reason of these vices and ill customs they proved unserviceable to themselves, so likewise they became less formidable to others; insomuch as their several allies and confederates, who had with them jointly carried on their common good and interest, were wholly alienated from them. But although their affairs were in such a languishing posture, when Philip of Macedon, after his great victory at Chaeronea, Edition: current; Page: [101] was by the Grecians declared their general both by land and sea, as likewise his son Alexander after the conquest of the Thebans; yet the Lacedaemonians, though their cities had no other walls for their security, but only their own courage, though by reason of their frequent wars they were reduced to low measures and small numbers of men, and thereby become so weak as to be an easy prey to any powerful enemy, yet retaining amongst them some reverence for those few remains of Lycurgus’s institution and government, they could not be brought to assist these two, or any other of their Macedonian kings in their wars and expeditions; neither could they be prevailed with to assist at their common assemblies and consults with them, nor pay any tribute or contributions to them. But when all those laws and customs (which are the main pillars that support a state) enacted by Lycurgus, and so highly approved of by the government, were now universally despised and unobserved, they immediately became a prey to the ambition and usurpation, to the cruelty and tyranny of their fellow-citizens; and having no regard at all to their ancient virtues and constitution, they utterly lost their ancient glory and reputation, and by degrees, as well as weaker nations, did in a very little time everywhere degenerate into poverty, contempt, and servitude; being at present subject to the Romans, like all the other cities of Greece.

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ModernGreek: 1. The wife of Phocion the just was always wont to maintain that her chiefest glory consisted in the warlike achievements of her husband. For my part, I am of Edition: current; Page: [103] opinion that all my glory, not only that peculiar to myself, but also what is common to all my familiar friends and relations, flows from the care and diligence of my master that taught me learning. For the most renowned performances of great commanders tend only to the preservation of some few private soldiers or the safety of a single city or nation, but make neither the soldiers nor the citizens nor the people any thing the better. But true learning, being the essence and body of felicity and the source of prudence, we find to be profitable and beneficial, not only to one house or city or nation, but to all the race of men. Therefore by how much the more the benefit and advantage of learning transcends the profits of military performances, by so much the more is it to be remembered and mentioned, as most worthy your study and esteem.

ModernGreek: 2. For this reason, upon the second day of the Saturnalian festival, the famous Onesicrates invited certain persons, the best skilled in music, to a banquet; by name Soterichus Edition: current; Page: [104] of Alexandria, and Lysias, one of those to whom he gave a yearly pension. After all had done and the table was cleared, — To dive, said he, most worthy friends, into the nature and reason of the human voice is not an argument proper for this merry meeting, as being a subject that requires a more sober scrutiny. But because our chiefest grammarians define the voice to be a percussion of the air made sensible to the ear, and for that we were yesterday discoursing of Grammar, — which is an art that can give the voice form and shape by means of letters, and store it up in the memory as a magazine, — let us consider what is the next science to this which may be said to relate to the voice. In my opinion, it must be music. For it is one of the chiefest and most religious duties belonging to man, to celebrate the praise of the Gods, who gave to him alone the most excelling advantage of articulate discourse, as Homer has observed in the following verses: —

  • With sacred hymns and songs that sweetly please,
  • The Grecian youth all day the Gods appease;
  • Their lofty paeans bright Apollo hears,
  • And still the charming sounds delight his ears.*

Now then, you that are of the grand musical chorus, tell your friends, who was the first that brought music into use; what time has added for the advantage of the science; who have been the most famous of its professors; and lastly, for what and how far it may be beneficial to mankind.

ModernGreek: 3. This the scholar propounded; to which Lysias made reply. Noble Onesicrates, said he, you desire the solution of a hard question, that has been by many already proposed. For of the Platonics the most, of the Peripatetic philosophers the best, have made it their business to compile several treatises concerning the ancient music and the reasons why it came to lose its pristine perfection. Nay, Edition: current; Page: [105] the very grammarians and musicians themselves who arrived to the height of education have expended much time and study upon the same subject, whence has arisen great variety of discording opinions among the several writers. Heraclides in his Compendium of Music asserts, that Amphion, the son of Jupiter and Antiope, was the first that invented playing on the harp and lyric poesy, being first instructed by his father; which is confirmed by a small manuscript, preserved in the city of Sicyon, wherein is set down a catalogue of the priests, poets, and musicians of Argos. In the same age, he tells us, Linus the Euboean composed several elegies; Anthes of Anthedon in Boeotia was the first author of hymns, and Pierus of Pieria the first that wrote in the praise of the Muses. Philammon also, the Delphian, set forth in verse a poem in honor of the nativity of Latona, Diana, and Apollo, and was the first that instituted dancing about the temple of Delphi. Thamyras, of Thracian extraction, had the best voice and the neatest manner of singing of any of his time; so that the poets feigned him to be a contender with the Muses. He is said to have described in a poem the Titans’ war against the Gods. There was also Demodocus the Corcyraean, who is said to have written the Destruction of Troy, and the Nuptials of Vulcan and Venus; and then Phemius of Ithaca composed a poem, entitled The Return of those who came back with Agamemnon from Troy. Not that any of these stories before cited were complied in a style like prose without metre; they were rather like the poems of Stesichorus and other ancient lyric poets, who composed in heroic verse and added a musical accompaniment. The same Heraclides writes that Terpander, the first that instituted the lyric nomes,* set verses of Homer as well as his Edition: current; Page: [106] own to music according to each of these nomes, and sang them at public trials of skill. He also was the first to give names to the lyric nomes. In imitation of Terpander, Clonas, an elegiac and epic poet, first instituted nomes for flute-music, and also the songs called Prosodia.* And Polymnestus the Colophonian in later times used the same measure in his compositions.

ModernGreek: 4. Now the measures appointed by these persons, noble Onesicrates, in reference to such songs as are to be sung to the flutes or pipes, were distinguished by these names, — Apothetus, Elegiac, Comarchius, Schoenion, Cepion, Tenedius, and Trimeles (or of three parts).

To these succeeding ages added another sort, which were called Polymnastia. But the measures set down for those that played and sung to the harp, being the invention of Terpander, were much more ancient than the former. To these he gave the several appellations of Boeotian, Aeolian, Trochaean, the Acute, Cepion, Terpandrian, and Tetraoedian. And Terpander made preludes to be sung to the lyre in heroic verse. Besides, Timotheus testifies how that the lyric nomes were anciently appropriated to epic verses. For Timotheus merely intermixed the dithyrambic style with the ancient nomes in heroic measure, and thus sang them, that he might not seem to make too sudden an innovation upon the ancient music. But as for Terpander, he seems to have been the most excellent composer to the harp of his age, for he is recorded to have been four times in succession a victor at the Pythian games. And certainly he was one of the most ancient musicians in the world; for Glaucus the Italian in his treatise of the ancient poets and musicians asserts him to have lived before Archilochus, affirming him to be the second next to those that first invented wind-music.

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ModernGreek: 5. Alexander in his Collections of Phrygia says, that Olympus was the first that brought into Greece the manner of touching the strings with a quill; and next to him were the Idaean Dactyli; Hyagnis was the first that sang to the pipe; after him his son Marsyas, then Olympus; that Terpander imitated Homer in his verses and Orpheus in his musical compositions; but that Orpheus never imitated any one, since in his time there were none but such as composed to the pipe, which was a manner quite different from that of Orpheus. Clonas, a composer of nomes for flute-music, and somewhat later than Terpander, as the Arcadians affirm, was born in Tegea or, as the Boeotians allege, at Thebes. After Terpander and Clonas flourished Archilochus; yet there are some writers who affirm, that Ardalus the Troezenian taught the manner of composing to wind-music before Clonas. There was also the poet Polymnestus, the son of Meles the Colophonian, who invented the Polymnestian measures. They farther write that Clonas invented the nomes Apothetus and Schoenion. Of Polymnestus mention is made by Pindar and Alcman, both lyric poets; but of several of the lyric nomes said to be instituted by Terpander they make Philammon (the ancient Delphian) author.

ModernGreek: 6. Now the music appropriated to the harp, such as it was in the time of Terpander, continued in all its simplicity, till Phrynis grew into esteem. For it was not the ancient custom to make lyric poems in the present style, or to intermix measures and rhythms. For in each nome they were careful to observe its own proper pitch; whence came the expression nome (from νόμος, law), because it was unlawful to alter the pitch appointed for each one. At length, falling from their devotion to the Gods, they began to sing the verses of Homer and other poets. This is manifest by the proems of Terpander. Then for the form Edition: current; Page: [108] of the harp, it was such as Cepion, one of Terpander’s scholars, first caused to be made, and it was called the Asian harp, because the Lesbian harpers bordering upon Asia always made use of it. And it is said that Periclitus, a Lesbian by birth, was the last harper who won a prize by his skill, which he did at one of the Spartan festivals called Carneia; but he being dead, that succession of skilful musicians, which had so long continued among the Lesbians, expired. Some there are who erroneously believe that Hipponax was contemporary with Terpander, when it is plain that Hipponax lived after Periclitus.

ModernGreek: 7. Having thus discoursed of the several nomes appropriated to the stringed as well as to the wind instruments, we will now speak something in particular concerning those peculiar to the wind instruments. First they say, that Olympus, a Phrygian player upon the flute, invented a certain nome in honor of Apollo, which he called Polycephalus,* or of many heads. This Olympus, they say, was descended from the first Olympus, the scholar of Marsyas, who invented several forms of composition in honor of the Gods; and he, being a boy beloved of Marsyas, and by him taught to play upon the flute, first brought into Greece the laws of harmony. Others ascribe the Polycephalus to Crates, the scholar of Olympus; though Pratinas will have Olympus the younger to be the author of it. The Harmatian nome is also said to be invented by Olympus, the scholar of Marsyas. This Marsyas was by some said to be called Masses; which others deny, not allowing him any other name but that of Marsyas, the son of that Hyagnis who invented the art of playing upon the pipe. But that Edition: current; Page: [109] Olympus was the author of the Harmatian nome is plainly to be seen in Glaucus’s treatise of the ancient poets; and that Stesichorus of Himera imitated neither Orpheus nor Terpander nor Antilochus nor Thales, but Olympus, and that he made use of the Harmatian nome and the dactylic dance, which some rather apply to the Orthian mood, while others aver it to have been the invention of the Mysians, for that some of the ancient pipers were Mysians.

ModernGreek: 8. There was also another mood in use among the ancients, called Cradias, which Hipponax says Mimnermus always delighted in. For formerly they that played upon the flute sang also elegies at the same time set to notes. Which the description of the Panathenaea concerning the musical combat makes manifest. Among the rest, Sacadas of Argos set several odes and elegies to music, he himself being also a good flute-player and thrice a victor at the Pythian games. Of him Pindar makes mention. Now whereas in the time of Polymnestus and Sacadas there existed three musical moods, the Dorian, Phrygian, and Lydian, it is said that Sacadas composed a strophe in every one of those moods, and then taught the choruses to sing the first after the Dorian manner, the second according to the Phrygian, and the third after the Lydian manner; and this nome was called Trimeres (or threefold) by reason of the shifting of the moods, although in the Sicyonian catalogue of the poets Clonas is said to be the inventor of this name.

ModernGreek: 9. Music then received its first constitution from Terpander at Sparta. Of the second constitution, Thaletas the Gortinean, Xenodamus the Cytherean, Xenocritus the Locrian, Polymnestus the Colophonian, and Sacadas the Argive were deservedly acknowledged to be the authors. For these, having introduced the Gymnopaediae into Lacedaemon, settled the so-called Apodeixeis (or Exhibitions) Edition: current; Page: [110] among the Arcadians, and the Endymatia in Argos. Now Thaletas, Xenodamus, and Xenocritus, and their scholars, were poets that addicted themselves altogether to making of paeans; Polymnestus was all for the Orthian or military strain, and Sacadas for elegies. Others, and among the rest Pratinas, affirm Xenodamus to have been a maker of songs for dances (Hyporchemes), and not of paeans; and a tune of Xenodamus is preserved, which plainly appears to have been composed for a dance. Now that a paean differs from a song made for a dance is manifest from the poems of Pindar, who made both.

ModernGreek: 10. Polymnestus also composed nomes for flute-music; but in the Orthian nome he made use of his lyric vein, as the students in harmony declare. But in this we cannot be positive, because we have nothing of certainty concerning it from antiquity; and whether Thaletas of Crete was a composer of hymns is much doubted. For Glaucus, asserting Thaletas to be born after Archilochus, says that he imitated the odes of Archilochus, only he made them longer, and used the Paeonic and Cretic rhythm, which neither Archilochus nor Orpheus nor Terpander ever did; for Thaletas learned these from Olympus, and became a good poet besides. As for Xenocritus the Locrian from Italy, it is much questioned whether he was a maker of paeans or not, as being one that always took heroic subjects with dramatic action for his verses, for which reason some there were who called his arguments Dithyrambic. Moreover, Glaucus asserts Thaletas to have preceded him in time.

ModernGreek: 11. Olympus, by the report of Aristoxenus, is supposed by the musicians to have been the inventor of the enharmonic species of music; for before him there was no other than the diatonic and chromatic. And it is thought that the invention of the enharmonic species was thus brought Edition: current; Page: [111] to pass:* for that Olympus before altogether composing and playing in the diatonic species, and having frequent occasion to shift to the diatonic parhypate, sometimes from the paramese and sometimes from the mese, skipping the diatonic lichanos, he found the beauty that appeared in the new character; and thus, admiring a conjunction or scheme so agreeable to proportion, he made this new species in the Doric mood. For now he held no longer to what belonged either to the diatonic or to the chromatic, but he was already come to the enharmonic. And the first foundations of enharmonic music which he laid were these: in enharmonics the first thing that appears is the spondiasmus, to which none of the divisions of the tetrachord seems properly to belong, unless any one will take the more intense spondiasmus to be diatonic. But he that maintained this would maintain a falsehood and an absurdity in harmony; a falsehood, because it would be less by a diesis than is required by the leading note; an absurdity in harmony, because, even if we should place the proper nature of the Edition: current; Page: [112] more intense spondiasmus in the simple chromatic, it would then come to pass, that two double tones would follow in order, the one compounded, the other uncompounded. For the thick enharmonic now used in the middle notes does not seem to be the invention of the fore-mentioned author. But this is more easily understood by hearing any musician play in the ancient style; for then you shall find the semi-tone in the middle parts to be uncompounded.

These were the beginnings of enharmonic music; afterwards the semitone was also divided, as well in the Phrygian as Lydian moods. But Olympus seems to have advanced music by producing something never known or heard of before, and to have gained to himself the honor of being the most excellent, not only in the Grecian but in all other music.

ModernGreek: 12. Let us now proceed to rhythms; for there were several varieties of these, as well in musical as in rhythmical composition. And here Terpander, among all those novelties with which he adorned music, introduced an elegant manner, that gave it much life. After him, beside the Terpandrian, which he did not relinquish, Polymnestus brought in use another of his own, retaining however the former elegant manner, as did also Thaletas and Sacadas. Other innovations were also made by Alkman and Stesichorus, who nevertheless receded not from the ancient forms. But Crexus, Timotheus, and Philoxenus, and those other poets of the same age, growing more arrogant and studious of novelty, affected those other manners now called Philanthropic and Thematic. For now the fewness of strings and the plainness and majesty of the old music are looked upon as absolutely out of date.

ModernGreek: 13. And now, having discoursed to the best of my ability of the ancient music and the first inventors of it, and how succeeding ages brought it to more and more perfection, I shall make an end, and give way to my friend Soterichus, Edition: current; Page: [113] not only greatly skilled in music but in all the rest of the sciences. For we have always labored rather on the practical than the contemplative part. Which when Lysias had said, he forbare speaking any farther; but then Soterichus thus began.

ModernGreek: 14. Most noble Onesicrates, said he, since you have engaged us to speak our knowledge concerning the most venerable excellencies of music, which is most pleasing to the Gods, I cannot but approve the learning of our master Lysias, and his great memory in reciting all the inventors of the ancient music, and those who have written concerning it. But I must needs say, that he has given us this account, trusting only to what he has found recorded. We on the other side have not heard of any man that was the inventor of the benefits of music, but of the God Apollo, adorned with all manner of virtue. The flute was neither the invention of Marsyas nor Olympus nor Hyagnis; nor was the harp Apollo’s invention only, but as a God he was the inventor of all the music both of the flute and harp. This is manifest from the dances and sacrifices which were solemnized to Apollo, as Alcaeus and others in their hymns relate. His statue also placed in the Temple of Delos holds in his right hand a bow; at his left the Graces stand, with every one a musical instrument in her hands, one carrying a harp, another a flute, another with a shepherd’s pipe set to her lips. And that this is no conceit of mine appears from this, that Anticles and Ister have testified the same in their commentaries upon these things. And the statue is reported to be so ancient, that the artificers were said to have lived in the time of Hercules. The youth also that carries the Tempic laurel into Delphi is accompanied by one playing upon the flute. And the sacred presents of the Hyperboreans were sent of old to Delos, attended with flutes, pipes, and harps. Some have thought that the God himself played upon the flute, as the best of Edition: current; Page: [114] lyrics, Alcman, relates. Corinna also asserts that Apollo was by Minerva taught to pipe. Venerable is therefore music altogether, as being the invention of the Gods.

ModernGreek: 15. The ancients made use of it for its worth, as they did all other beneficial sciences. But our men of art, contemning its ancient majesty, instead of that manly, grave, heaven-born music, so acceptable to the Gods, have brought into the theatres a sort of effeminate musical tattling, mere sound without substance; which Plato utterly rejects in the third book of his commonwealth, refusing the Lydian harmony as fit only for lamentations. And they say that this was first instituted for doleful songs. Aristoxenus, in his first book of music, tells us how that Olympus sang an elegy upon the death of Python in the Lydian mood, though some will have Menalippides to be the author of that song. Pindar, in his paean on the nuptials of Niobe, asserts that the Lydian harmony was first used by Anthippus. Others affirm, that Torebus was the first that made use of that sort of harmony; among the rest, Dionysius the iambic writer.

ModernGreek: 16. The mixed Lydian moves the affections, and is fit for tragedies. This mood, as Aristoxenus alleges, was invented by Sappho, from whom the tragedians learned it and joined it with the Doric. The one becomes a majestic, lofty style, the other mollifies and stirs to pity; both which are the properties of tragedy. The history of music, however, made Pythoclides the flute-player to be the author of it; and Lysis reports that Lamprocles the Athenian, finding that the diazeuxis (or separation of two tetrachords) was not where almost all others thought it had been, but toward the treble, made such a scheme as is now from paramese to the highest hypate. But for the softer Lydian, being contrary to the mixed Lydian and like the Ionian, they say it was invented by Damon the Athenian.

ModernGreek: 17. But as for those sorts of harmony, the one being Edition: current; Page: [115] sad and doleful, the other loose and effeminate, Plato deservedly rejected them, and made choice of the Dorian, as more proper for sober and warlike men; not being ignorant, however (as Aristoxenus discourses in his second book of music), that there might be something advantageous in the rest to a circumspect and wary commonwealth. For Plato gave much attention to the art of music, as being the hearer of Draco the Athenian and Metellus the Agrigentine; but considering, as we have intimated before, that there was much more majesty in the Dorian mood, it was that he preferred. He knew moreover that Alcman, Pindar, Simonides, and Bacchylides had composed several Parthenia in the Doric mood; and that several Prosodia (or supplications to the Gods), several hymns and tragical lamentations, and now and then love verses, were composed to the same melody. But he contented himself with such songs as were made in honor of Mars or Minerva, or else such as were to be sung at solemn offerings, called Spondeia. For these he thought sufficient to fortify and raise the mind of a sober person; not being at all ignorant in the mean time of the Lydian and Ionian, of which he knew the tragedians made use.

ModernGreek: 18. Moreover, the ancients well understood all the sorts of styles, although they used but few. For it was not their ignorance that confined them to such narrow instruments and so few strings; nor was it out of ignorance that Olympus and Terpander and those that came after them would not admit of larger instruments and more variety of strings. This is manifest from the poems of Olympus and Terpander and all those that were their imitators. For, being plain and without any more than three strings, these so far excelled those that were more numerously strung, insomuch that none could imitate Olympus’s play; and they were all inferior to him when they betook themselves to their polychords.

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ModernGreek: 19. Then again, that the ancients did not through ignorance abstain from the third string in the spondaic style, their use of it in play makes apparent. For had they not known the use of it, they would never have struck it in harmony with parhypate; but the elegancy and gravity that attended the spondaic style by omitting the third string induced them to transfer the music to paranete. The same reason may serve for nete; for this in play they struck in concord to mese, but in discord to paranete, although in song it did not seem to them proper to the slow spondaic motion. And not only did they do this, but they did the same with nete of the conjunct heptachords; for in play they struck it in concord to mese and lichanos, and in discord to paranete and parhypate;* but in singing those touches were no way allowable, as being ungrateful to the ear and shaming the performer. As certain it is from the Phrygians that Olympus and his followers were not ignorant of the third string; for they made use of it not only in pulsation, but in their hymns to the Mother of the Gods and several other Phrygian songs. Nor is it less apparent, with regard to the ὑπάται, that they never abstained for want of skill from that tetrachord in the Dorian mood; indeed in other moods they knowingly made use of it, but removed it from the Dorian mood to preserve its elegant gravity.

ModernGreek: 20. The same thing was done also by the tragedians. For the tragedians have never to this day used either the chromatic or the enharmonic scale; while the lyre, many generations older than tragedy, used them from the very beginning. Now that the chromatic was more ancient than the enharmonic is plain. For we must necessarily account it of greater antiquity, according to the custom and use of men themselves; otherwise it cannot be said that Edition: current; Page: [117] any of the differences and distinctions were ancienter the one than the other. Therefore, if any one should allege that Aeschylus or Phrynichus abstained from the chromatic out of ignorance, would he not be thought to maintain a very great absurdity? Such a one might as well aver that Pancrates lay under the same blindness, who avoided it in most, but made use of it in some things; therefore he forebore not out of ignorance, but judgment, imitating Pindar and Simonides and that which is at present called the ancient manner.

ModernGreek: 21. The same may be said of Tyrtaeus the Mantinean, Andreas the Corinthian, Thrasyllus the Phliasian, and several others, who, as we well know, abstained by choice from the chromatic, from transition, from the increased number of strings, and many other common forms of rhythms, tunes, diction, composition, and expression. Telephanes of Megara was so great an enemy to the pipe made of reed (called syrinx), that he would not suffer the instrument maker to join it to the flute (pipe made of wood or horn), and chiefly for that reason forbore to go to the Pythian games. In short, if a man should be thought to be ignorant of that which he makes no use of, there would be found a great number of ignorant persons in this age. For we see that the admirers of the Dorian composition make no use of the Antiginedian; the followers of the Antiginedian reject the Dorian; and other musicians refuse to imitate Timotheus, being almost all bewitched with the trifles and the idle poems of Polyidus. On the other side, if we dive into the business of variety and compare antiquity with the present times, we shall find there was great variety then, and that frequently made use of. For then the variation of rhythm was more highly esteemed, and the change of their manner of play more frequent. We are now lovers of fables, they were then lovers of rhythm. Plain it is therefore, that the ancients did not refrain from Edition: current; Page: [118] broken measures out of ignorance, but out of judgment. And yet what wonder is this, when there are so many other things necessary to human life which are not unknown, though not made use of by those who have no occasion to use them? But they are refused, and the use of them is altogether neglected, as not being found proper on many occasions.

ModernGreek: 22. Having already shown that Plato neither for want of skill nor for ignorance blamed all the other moods and casts of composition, we now proceed to show that he really was skilled in harmony. For in his discourse concerning the procreation of the soul, inserted into Timaeus, he has made known his great knowledge in all the sciences, and of music among the rest, in this manner: “After this,” saith he, “he filled up the double and treble intervals, taking parts from thence, and adding them to the midst between them, so that there were in every interval two middle terms.”* This proem was the effect of his experience in music, as we shall presently make out. The means from whence every mean is taken are three, arithmetical, enharmonical, geometrical. Of these the first exceeds and is exceeded in number, the second in proportion, the third neither in number nor proportion. Plato therefore, desirous to show the harmony of the four elements in the soul, and harmonically also to explain the reason of that mutual concord arising from discording and jarring principles, undertakes to make out two middle terms of the soul in every interval, according to harmonical proportion. Thus in a musical octave there happen to be two middle distances, whose proportion we shall explain. As for the octaves, they keep a double proportion between their two extremes. For example, let the double arithmetical proportion be 6 and 12, this being the interval between the ὑπάτη μέσων and Edition: current; Page: [119] the νήτη διεζευγμένων; 6 therefore and 12 being the two extremes, the former note contains the number 6, and the latter 12. To these are to be added the intermediate numbers, to which the extremes must hold the proportion, the one of one and a third, and the other of one and a half. These are the numbers 8 and 9. For as 8 contains one and a third of 6, so 9 contains one and a half of 6; thus you have one extreme. The other is 12, containing 9 and a third part of 9, and 8 and half 8. These then being the numbers between 6 and 12, and the interval of the octave consisting of a diatessaron and diapente, it is plain that the number 8 belongs to mese, and the number 9 to paramese; which being so, it follows that hypate is to mese as paramese to nete of the disjunct tetrachords; for it is a fourth from the first term to the second of this proportion, and the same interval from the third term to the fourth. The same proportion will be also found in the numbers. For as 6 is to 8, so is 9 to 12; and as 6 is to 9, so is 8 to 12. For 8 is one and a third part of 6, and 12 of 9; while 9 is one and a half part of 6, and 12 of 8. What has been said may suffice to show how great was Plato’s zeal and learning in the liberal sciences.

ModernGreek: 23. Now that there is something of majesty, something great and divine in music, Aristotle, who was Plato’s scholar, thus labors to convince the world: “Harmony,” saith he, “descended from heaven, and is of a divine, noble, and angelic nature; but being fourfold as to its efficacy, it has two means, — the one arithmetical, the other enharmonical. As for its members, its dimensions, and its excesses of intervals, they are best discovered by number and equality of measure, the whole art being contained in two tetrachords.” These are his words. The body of it, he saith, consists of discording parts, yet concording one with another; whose means nevertheless agree according to arithmetical proportion. For the upper Edition: current; Page: [120] string being fitted to the lowest in the ratio of two to one produces a perfect diapason. Thus, as we said before, nete consisting of twelve units, and hypate of six, the paramese accords with hypate according to the sesquialter proportion, and has nine units, whilst mese has eight units. So that the chiefest intervals through the whole scale are the diatessaron (which is the proportion of 4:3), the diapente (which is the proportion of 3:2), and the diapason (which is the proportion of 2:1); while the proportion of 9:8 appears in the interval of a tone. With the same inequalities of excess or diminution, all the extremes are differenced one from another, and the means from the means, either according to the quantity of the numbers or the measure of geometry; which Aristotle thus explains, observing that nete exceeds mese by a third part of itself, and hypate is exceeded by paramese in the same proportion, so that the excesses stand in proportion. For by the same parts of themselves they exceed and are exceeded; that is, the extremes (nete and hypate) exceed and are exceeded by mese and paramese in the same proportions, those of 4:3 and of 3:2. Now these excesses are in what is called harmonic progression. But the distances of nete from mese and of paramese from hypate, expressed in numbers, are in the same proportion (12:8 = 9:6); for paramese exceeds mese by one-eighth of the latter. Again, nete is to hypate as 2:1; paramese to hypate as 3:2; and mese to hypate as 4:3. This, according to Aristotle, is the natural constitution of harmony, as regards its parts and its numbers.

ModernGreek: 24. But, according to natural philosophy, both harmony and its parts consist of even, odd, and also even-odd. Altogether it is even, as consisting of four terms; but its parts and proportions are even, odd, and even-odd. So nete is even, as consisting of twelve units; paramese is odd, of nine; mese even, of eight; and hypate even-odd, Edition: current; Page: [121] of six (i.e., 2×3). Whence it comes to pass, that music — herself and her parts — being thus constituted as to excesses and proportion, the whole accords with the whole, and also with each one of the parts.

ModernGreek: 25. But now as for the senses that are created within the body, such as are of celestial and heavenly extraction, and which by divine assistance affect the understanding of men by means of harmony, — namely, sight and hearing, — do by the very light and voice express harmony. And others which are their attendants, so far as they are senses, likewise exist by harmony; for they perform none of their effects without harmony; and although they are inferior to the other two, they are not independent of them. Nay, those two also, since they enter into human bodies at the very same time with God himself, claim by reason a vigorous and incomparable nature.

ModernGreek: 26. Manifest from hence therefore it is, why the ancient Greeks, with more reason than others, were so careful to teach their children music. For they deemed it requisite by the assistance of music to form and compose the minds of youth to what was decent, sober, and virtuous; believing the use of music beneficially efficacious to incite to all serious actions, especially to the adventuring upon warlike dangers. To which purpose they made use of pipes or flutes when they advanced in battle array against their enemies; like the Lacedaemonians, who upon the same occasion caused the Castorean melody to be played before their battalions. Others inflamed their courage with harps, playing the same sort of harmony when they went to look danger in the face, as the Cretans did for a long time. Others, even to our own times, continue to use the trumpet. The Argives made use of flutes at their wrestling matches called Stheneia; which sort of sport was first instituted in honor of Danaus, but afterwards consecrated to Jupiter Sthenius, or Jupiter the Mighty. And now at Edition: current; Page: [122] this day it is the custom to make use of flutes at the games called Pentathla, although there is now nothing exquisite or antique, nothing like what was customary among men of old time, like the song composed by Hierax for this very game; still, even though it is sorry stuff and nothing exquisite, it is accompanied by flute-music.

ModernGreek: 27. But among the more ancient Greeks, music in theatres was never known, for they employed their whole musical skill in the worship of the Gods and the education of youth; at which time, there being no theatres erected, music was yet confined within the walls of their temples, as being that with which they worshipped the supreme Deity and sang the praises of virtuous men. And it is probable that the word θέατϱον, at a later period, and θεωϱεῖν (to behold) much earlier, were derived from θεός (God). But in our age is such another face of new inventions, that there is not the least remembrance or care of that use of music which related to education; for all our musicians make it their business to court the theatre Muses, and study nothing but compositions for the stage.

ModernGreek: 28. But some will say, Did the ancients invent nothing themselves? Yes, say I, they did invent, but their inventions were grave and decent. For they who have written the history of music attribute to Terpander the addition of the Dorian nete, which before was not in use. Even the whole Mixolydian mood is a new invention. Such were also the Orthian manner of melody with Orthian rhythms, and also the Trochaeus Semantus.* And if we believe Pindar, Terpander was the inventor of the Scolion (or roundelay). Archilochus also invented the rhythmic composition of the iambic trimeter, the change to rhythms of different character, the melo-dramatic delivery, and the Edition: current; Page: [123] accompaniment proper to each of these. He is also presumed to be the author of epodes, tetrameters, the Cretic and the prosodiac rhythms, and the augmentation of the heroic verse. Some make him author also of the elegiac measure, as likewise of the extending the iambic to the paeon epibatus, the prolonged and heroic to the prosodiac and Cretic. And Archilochus is first said to have taught how iambics could be partly recited to the stroke of the lyre and partly sung; from him the tragedians learned it, and from them Crexus took it, and made use of it in dithyrambics. It is thought that he invented also playing on the lyre at intervals in the song, whereas the ancients played only during the singing.

ModernGreek: 29. Of the Hypolydian mood they make Polymnestus the inventor, and the first that taught the lowering and raising of the voice (ἔϰλυσις and ἐϰβολή). To the same Olympus to whom they also ascribe the first invention of Grecian and well-regulated nomic music they attribute likewise the finding out the enharmonic music, the prosodiac measure to which is composed the hymn to Mars, and the chorean measure which he used in the hymns to the Mother of the Gods. Some report him to be the author also of the bacchius. And every one of the ancient songs show that this is so. But Lasus of Hermione, transferring the rhythms to suit the dithyrambic time, and making use of an instrument with many notes, made an absolute innovation upon the ancient music, by the use of more notes, and those more widely distributed.

ModernGreek: 30. In like manner Menalippides the lyric poet, Philoxenus and Timotheus, all forsook the ancient music. For whereas until the time of Terpander the Antissaean the harp had only seven strings, he* added a greater number, and gave its notes a wider range. The wind-music also Edition: current; Page: [124] exchanged its ancient plainness for a more copious variety. For in ancient times, till Menalippides the dithyrambic came into request, the wind-music received salaries from the poets, poetry holding the first rank and the musicians being in the service of the poet. Afterwards that custom grew out of date; insomuch that Pherecrates the comedian brings in Music in woman’s habit, all bruised and battered, and then introduces Justice asking the reason; to which Music thus replies: —

  • ’Tis mine to speak, thy part to hear,
  • And therefore lend a willing ear;
  • Much have I suffered, long opprest
  • By Menalippides, that beast;
  • He haled me from Parnassus’ springs,
  • And plagued me with a dozen strings.
  • His rage howe’er sufficed not yet,
  • To make my miseries complete.
  • Cinesias, that cursed Attic,
  • A mere poetical pragmatic,
  • Such horrid strophes in mangled verse
  • Made the unharmonious stage rehearse,
  • That I, tormented with the pains
  • Of cruel dithyrambic strains,
  • Distorted lay, that you would swear
  • The right side now the left side were.
  • Nor did my miseries end here;
  • For Phrynis with his whirlwind brains,
  • Wringing and racking all my veins,
  • Ruined me quite, while nine small wires
  • With harmonies twice six he tires.
  • Yet might not he so much be blamed,
  • From all his errors soon reclaimed;
  • But then Timotheus with his freaks
  • Furrowed my face, and ploughed my cheeks.
  • Say which of them so vile could be?
  • Milesian Pyrrhias, that was he,
  • Whose fury tortured me much more
  • Than all that I have named before;
  • Where’er I walk the streets alone,
  • If met by him, the angry clown,
  • With his twelve cat-guts strongly bound,
  • He leaves me helpless on the ground.*
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Aristophanes the comic poet, making mention of Philoxenus, complains of his introducing lyric verses among the cyclic choruses, where he brings in Music thus speaking: —

  • He filled me with discordant measures airy,
  • Wicked Hyperbolaei and Niglari;
  • And to uphold the follies of his play,
  • Like a lank radish bowed me every way.

Other comedians have since set forth the absurdity of those who have been slicers and manglers of music.

ModernGreek: 31. Now that the right moulding or ruin of ingenuous manners and civil conduct lies in a well-grounded musical education, Aristoxenus has made apparent. For, of those that were contemporary with him, he gives an account of Telesias the Theban, who in his youth was bred up in the noblest excellences of music, and moreover studied the works of the most famous lyrics, Pindar, Dionysius the Theban, Lamprus, Pratinas, and all the rest who were accounted most eminent; who played also to perfection upon the flute, and was not a little industrious to furnish himself with all those other accomplishments of learning; but being past the prime of his age, he was so bewitched with the theatre’s new fangles and the innovations of multiplied notes, that despising those noble precepts and that solid practice to which he had been educated, he betook himself to Philoxenus and Timotheus, and among those delighted chiefly in such as were most depraved with diversity of notes and baneful innovation. And yet, when he made it his business to make verses and labor both ways, as well in that of Pindar as that of Philoxenus, he could have no success in the latter. And the reason proceeded from the truth and exactness of his first education.

ModernGreek: 32. Therefore, if it be the aim of any person to practise music with skill and judgment, let him imitate the ancient Edition: current; Page: [126] manner; let him also adorn it with those other sciences, and make philosophy his tutor, which is sufficient to judge what is in music decent and useful. For music being generally divided into three parts, diatonic, chromatic, and enharmonie, it behooves one who comes to learn music to understand poetry, which uses these three parts, and to know how to express his poetical inventions in proper musical form.

First therefore we are to consider that all musical learning is a sort of habituation, which does not teach the reason of her precepts at one and the same time to the learner. Moreover, we are to understand that to such an education there is not requisite an enumeration of its several divisions, but every one learns by chance what either the master or scholar, according to the authority of the one and the liberty of the other, has most affection for. But the more prudent sort reject this chance-medley way of learning, as the Lacedaemonians of old, the Mantineans, and Pallenians, who, making choice either of one single method or else but very few styles, used only that sort of music which they deemed most proper to regulate the inclinations of youths.

ModernGreek: 33. This will be apparent, if any one shall examine every one of the parts, and see what is the subject of their several contemplations. For harmony takes cognizance of intervals, systems, classes of harmonious sounds, notes, tones, and systematical transmutations. Farther than this it goes not. And therefore it would be in vain to enquire of harmony, whether the poet have rightly and (so to speak) musically chosen the Dorian for the beginning, the mixed Lydian and Dorian for the end, or the Hypophrygian and Phrygian for the middle. For the industry of harmony reaches not to these, and it is defective in many other things, as not understanding the force and extent of elegant aptness and proper concinnity. Neither did ever the chromatic Edition: current; Page: [127] or enharmonic species arrive to such force of aptitude as to discover the nature and genius of the poem; for that is the work of the poet. It is as plain, that the sound of the system is different from the sound of the descant sung in the same system; which, however, does not belong to the consideration of harmonical studies. There is the same to be said concerning rhythms, for no rhythm can claim to itself the force of perfect aptitude. For we call a thing apt and proper when we consider the nature of it. The reason of this, we say, is either a certain plain and mixed composure, or both; like the enharmonic species of Olympus, by him set in the Phrygian mood and mixed with the paeon epibatos, which rendered the beginning of the key naturally elegant in what is called the nome of Minerva. For having made choice of his key and measure, he only changed the paeon epibatos for the trochee, which produced his enharmonic species. However, the enharmonic species and Phrygian tone remaining together with the whole system, the elegancy of the character was greatly altered. For that which was called harmony in the nome of Minerva was quite another thing from that in the introduction. He then that has both judgment as well as skill is to be accounted the most accurate musician. For he that understands the Dorian mood, not being able withal to discern by his judgment what is proper to it and when it is fit to be made use of, shall never know what he does; nay, he shall quite mistake the nature and custom of the key. Indeed it is much questioned among the Dorians themselves, whether the enharmonic composers be competent judges of the Dorian songs. The same is to be said concerning the knowledge of rhythm. For he that understands a paeon may not understand the proper use of it, though he know the measure of which it consists. Because it is much doubted among those that make use of paeons, whether the bare knowledge make a man capable to determine Edition: current; Page: [128] concerning the proper use of those rhythms; or, as others say, whether it aspire to presume so far. Therefore it behooves that person to have two sorts of knowledge, who will undertake to judge of what is proper and what improper; first, of the custom and manner of elegancy for which such a composition was intended, and next of those things of which the composition consists. And thus, that neither the bare knowledge of harmony, nor of rhythm, nor of any other things that singly by themselves are but a part of the whole body of music, is sufficient to judge and determine either of the one or the other, what has been already said may suffice to prove.

ModernGreek: 34. [Now then, there being three species into which all harmony is divided, equal in the magnitude of systems or intervals and force of notes and tetrachords, we find that the ancients never disputed about any more than one; for they never troubled themselves with the chromatic or diatonic, but differed only about the enharmonic; and there no farther than about the great interval called the diapason. The further subdivision indeed caused some little variance, but they nearly all agreed that harmony itself is but one.*] Therefore he must never think to be a true artist in the understanding and practice of music, who advances no farther than the single knowledge of this or that particular: but it behooves him to trace through all the particular members of it, and so to be master of the whole body, by understanding how to mix and join all the divided members. For he that understands only harmony is confined to a single manner. Wherefore, in short, it is requisite that the sense and understanding concur in judging the parts of music; and that they should neither be too hasty, like those senses which are rash and forward, nor too slow, like those which are dull and heavy; though it may happen Edition: current; Page: [129] sometimes, through the inequality of Nature, that the same senses may be too slow and too quick at the same time. Which things are to be avoided by a sense and judgment that would run an equal course.

ModernGreek: 35. For there are three things at least that at the same instant strike the ear, — the note, the time, and the word or syllable. By the note we judge of the harmony, by the time of the rhythm, and by the word of the matter or subject of the song. As these proceed forth altogether, it is requisite the sense should give them entrance at the same moment. But this is certain, where the sense is not able to separate every one of these and consider the effects of each apart, there it can never apprehend what is well or what is amiss in any. First therefore let us discourse concerning coherence. For it is necessary that coherence accompany the discerning faculty. For judgment of good or bad is not to be made from notes disjoined, broken time, and shattered words, but from coherence. For there is in practice a certain commixture of parts which commonly are not compounded. So much as to coherence.

ModernGreek: 36. We are next to consider whether the masters of music are sufficiently capable of being judges of it. Now I aver the negative. For it is impossible to be a perfect musician and a good judge of music by the knowledge of those things that seem to be but parts of the whole body, as by excellency of hand upon the instrument, or singing readily at first sight, or exquisiteness of the ear, so far as this extends to the understanding of harmony and time. Neither does the knowledge of time and harmony, pulsation or elocution, or whatever else falls under the same consideration, perfect their judgment. Now for the reasons why a musician cannot gain a perfect judgment from any of these, we must endeavor to make them clear. First then it must be granted that, of things about which judgment is to be made, some are perfect and others imperfect. Those Edition: current; Page: [130] things which are perfect are the compositions in general, whether sung or played, and the expression of those, whether upon the instruments or by the voice, with the rest of the same nature. The imperfect are the things to these appertaining, and for whose sake they are made use of. Such are the parts of expression. A second reason may be found in poetry, with which the case is the same. For a man that hears a consort of voices or instruments can judge whether they sing or play in tune, and whether the language be plain or not. But every one of these are only parts of instrumental and vocal expression; not the end itself, but for the sake of the end. For by these and things of the same nature shall the elegancy of elocution be judged, whether it be proper to the poem which the performer undertakes to sing. The same is to be said of the several passions expressed in the poetry.

ModernGreek: 37. The ancients now made principal account of the moral impression, and therefore preferred that fashion of the antique music which was grave and least affected. Therefore the Argives are said to have punished deviation from the ancient music, and to have imposed a fine upon such as first adventured to play with more than seven strings, and to introduce the Mixolydian mood.* Pythagoras, that grave philosopher, rejected the judging of music by the senses, affirming that the virtue of music could be appreciated only by the intellect. And therefore he did not judge of music by the ear, but by the harmonical proportion, and thought it sufficient to fix the knowledge of music within the compass of the diapason.

ModernGreek: 38. But our musicians nowadays have so utterly exploded the most noble of all the moods, which the ancients greatly admired for its majesty, that hardly any among them make the least account of enharmonic distances. And so negligent and lazy are they grown, as to believe the enharmonic Edition: current; Page: [131] diesis to be too contemptible to fall under the apprehension of sense, and they therefore exterminate it out of their compositions, deeming those to be triflers that have any esteem for it or make use of the mood itself. For proof of which they think they bring a most powerful argument, which rather appears to be the dulness of their own senses; as if whatever fled their apprehensions were to be rejected as useless and of no value. And then again they urge that its magnitude cannot be perceived through its concord, like that of the semitone, tone, and other distances; not understanding, that at the same time they throw out the third, fifth, and seventh, of which the one consists of three, the other of five, and the last of seven dieses. And on the same principle all the intervals that are odd should be rejected as useless, inasmuch as none of them is perceptible through concord; and this would include all which by means of even the smallest diesis are measured by odd numbers. Whence it necessarily follows, that no division of the tetrachord would be of use but that which is to be measured by all even intervals, as in the syntonic diatonic, and in the toniaean chromatic.

ModernGreek: 39. But these opinions are not only contrary to appearance, but repugnant one to another. For they themselves chiefly make use of those divisions of tetrachords in which most of the intervals are either unequal or irrational. To which purpose they always soften both lichanos and paranete, and lower even some of the standing sounds by an irrational interval, bringing the trite and paranete to approach them. And especially they applaud the use of those systems in which most of the intervals are irrational, by relaxing not only those tones which are by nature movable, but also some which are properly fixed; as it is plain to those that rightly understand these things.

ModernGreek: 40. Now for the advantages that accrue to men from the use of music, the famous Homer has taught it us, introducing Edition: current; Page: [132] Achilles, in the height of his fury toward Agamemnon, appeased by the music which he learned from Chiron, a person of great wisdom. For thus says he: —

  • Amused at ease, the god-like man they found,
  • Pleased with the solemn harp’s harmonious sound.
  • The well-wrought harp from conquered Thebe came;
  • Of polished silver was its costly frame.
  • With this he soothes his angry soul, and sings
  • The immortal deeds of heroes and of kings.*

Learn, says Homer, from hence the true use of music. For it became Achilles, the son of Peleus the Just, to sing the famous acts and achievements of great and valiant men. Also, in teaching the most proper time to make use of it, he found out a profitable and pleasing pastime for one’s leisure hours. For Achilles, being both valiant and active, by reason of the disgust he had taken against Agamemnon withdrew from the war. Homer therefore thought he could not do better than by the laudable incitements of music and poetry to inflame the hero’s courage for those achievements which he afterwards performed. And this he did, calling to mind the great actions of former ages. Such was then the ancient music, and such the advantages that made it profitable. To which end and purpose we read that Hercules, Achilles, and many others made use of it; whose master, wisest Chiron, is recorded to have taught not only music, but morality and physic.

ModernGreek: 41. In brief therefore, a rational person will not blame the sciences themselves, if any one make use of them amiss, but will adjudge such a failing to be the error of those that abuse them. So that whoever he be that shall give his mind to the study of music in his youth, if he meet with a musical education, proper for the forming and regulating his inclinations, he will be sure to applaud and embrace that which is noble and generous, and to rebuke and blame the contrary, as well in other things as in what belongs to Edition: current; Page: [133] music. And by that means he will become clear from all reproachful actions, for now having reaped the noblest fruit of music, he may be of great use, not only to himself but to the commonwealth: while music teaches him to abstain from every thing indecent both in word and deed, and to observe decorum, temperance, and regularity.

ModernGreek: 42. Now that those cities which were governed by the best laws took care always of a generous education in music, many testimonies may be produced. But for us it shall suffice to have instanced Terpander, who appeased a sedition among the Lacedaemonians, and Thaletas the Cretan, of whom Pratinas writes that, being sent for by the Lacedaemonians by advice of the oracle, he freed the city from a raging pestilence. Homer tells that the Grecians stopped the fury of another noisome pestilence by the power and charms of the same noble science: —

  • With sacred hymns and songs that sweetly please,
  • The Grecian youth all day the Gods appease.
  • Their lofty paeans bright Apollo hears,
  • And still the charming sounds delight his ears.

These verses, most excellent master, I thought requisite to add as the finishing stone to my musical discourse, which were by you cited before* to show the force of harmony. For indeed the chiefest and sublimest end of music is the graceful return of our thanks to the Gods, and the next is to purify and bring our minds to a sober and harmonious temper. Thus, said Soterichus, most excellent master, I have given you what may be called an encyclic discourse of music.

ModernGreek: 43. Nor was Soterichus a little admired for what he had spoken, as one that both by his countenance and speech had shown his zeal and affection for that noble science. After all, said Onesicrates, I must needs applaud this in both of you, that you have kept within your own spheres Edition: current; Page: [134] and observed your proper limits. For Lysias, not insisting any further, undertook only to show us what was necessary to the making a good hand, as being an excellent performer himself. But Soterichus has feasted us with a discovery of the benefit, the theory, the force, and right end of music. But one thing I think they have willingly left for me to say; for I cannot think them guilty of so much bashfulness that they should be ashamed to bring music into banquets, where certainly, if anywhere, it cannot but be very useful, which Homer also confirms to be true: —

Song and the merry dance, the joy of feasts.*

Not that I would have any one believe from these words, that Homer thought music useful only for pleasure and delight, there being a profounder meaning concealed in the verse. For he brought in music to be present at the banquets and revels of the ancients, as believing it then to be of greatest use and advantage to repel and mitigate the inflamming power of the wine. To which our Aristoxenus agrees, who alleges that music was introduced at banquets for this reason, that as wine intemperately drunk weakens both the body and mind, so music by its harmonious order and symmetry assuages and reduces them to their former constitution. And therefore it was that Homer reports that the ancients made use of music at their solemn festivals.

ModernGreek: 44. But for all this, my most honored friends, methinks you have forgot the chiefest thing of all, and that which renders music most majestic. For Pythagoras, Archytas, Plato, and many others of the ancient philosophers, were of opinion, that there could be no motion of the world or rolling of the spheres without the assistance of music, since the Supreme Deity created all things harmoniously. But Edition: current; Page: [135] it would be unseasonable now to enter upon such a discourse, especially at this time, when it would be absurd for Music to transgress her highest and most musical office, which is to give the laws and limits of time and measure to all things. Therefore after he had sung a paean, and offered to Saturn and his offspring, with all the other Gods and the Muses, he dismissed the company.

Edition: current; Page: [136]



ModernGreek: 1. It was late before I received your letter, wherein you make it your request that I would write something to you concerning the tranquility of the mind, and of those things in the Timaeus which require a more perspicuous interpretation. At the same time a very urgent occasion called upon our common friend and companion Eros to sail directly to Rome; that which quickened him to a greater expedition was a dispatch he received from Fundanus, that best of men, who, as his custom is, always enjoins the making haste. Therefore, wanting full leisure to consummate those things justly which you requested, and being on the other side unwilling to send one from me to your dear self empty handed, I have transcribed my commonplace book, and hastily put together those collections which I had by me concerning this subject; for I thought you a man that did not look after flourishes of style and the affected elegance of language, but only required what was instructive in its nature and useful to us in the conduct of our lives. And I congratulate that bravery of temper in you, that though you are admitted into the confidence of princes, and have obtained so great a vogue of eloquence at the bar that no man hath exceeded you, you have not, like the tragic Merops, suffered yourself to be puffed up with the applause of the multitude, and transported beyond those bounds which are prescribed to Edition: current; Page: [137] our passions; but you call to mind that which you have so often heard, that a rich slipper will not cure the gout, a diamond ring a whitlow, nor will an imperial diadem ease the headache. For what advantage is there in honor, riches, or an interest at court, to remove all perturbations of mind and procure an equal tenor of life, if we do not use them with decency when they are present to our enjoyment, and if we are continually afflicted by their loss when we are deprived of them? And what is this but the province of reason, when the sensual part of us grows turbulent and makes excursions, to check its sallies and bring it again within the limits it hath transgressed, that it may not be carried away and so perverted with the gay appearances of things. For as Xenophon gives advice, we ought to remember the Gods and pay them particular devotions when our affairs are prosperous, that so when an exigency presseth us we may more confidently invoke them, now we have conciliated their favor and made them our friends. So wise men always ruminate upon those arguments which have any efficacy against the troubles of the mind before their calamities happen, that so the remedies being long prepared, they may acquire energy, and work with a more powerful operation. For as angry dogs are exasperated by every one’s rating them, and are flattered to be quiet only by his voice to which they are accustomed; so it is not easy to pacify the brutish affections of the soul but by familiar reasons, and such as are used to be administered in such inward distempers.

ModernGreek: 2. Besides, he that affirmed that whosoever would enjoy tranquillity of mind must disengage himself from all private and public concerns, would make us pay dear for our tranquillity by buying it with idleness; as if he should prescribe thus to a sick man: —

Lie still, poor wretch, and keep thy bed.*

Edition: current; Page: [138]

Now stupefaction is a bad remedy for desperate pain in the body, and verily he would be no better physician for the soul who should order idleness, softness, and neglect of friends, kinsfolk, and country, in order to remove its trouble and grief. It is likewise a false position that those live most contentedly who have the least to do; for then by this rule women should be of more sedate dispositions than men, since they only sit at home and mind their domestic affairs. Whereas in fact, as Hesiod expresseth it, —

  • The virgins’ tender limbs are kept from cold;
  • Not the least wind to touch them is so bold;*

but nevertheless we see that grief and troubles and discontentments, arising from jealousy or superstition or vain opinions, flow as it were with a torrent into the apartments of the females. And though Laertes lived twenty years in the fields secluded from the world, and

  • Only a toothless hag did make his bed,
  • Draw him his drink, and did his table spread,

though he forsook his house and country, and fled from a kingdom, yet grief with his sloth and sadness still kept him company. There are some to whom idleness hath been an affliction; as for instance, —

  • But raging still, amidst his navy sat
  • The stern Achilles, steadfast in his hate;
  • Nor mix’d in combat, nor in council join’d;
  • But wasting cares lay heavy on his mind:
  • In his black thoughts revenge and slaughter roll,
  • And scenes of blood rise dreadful in his soul.

And he himself complains of it, being mightily disturbed, after this manner: —

I live an idle burden to the ground.

Hence it is that Epicurus adviseth those who aspire to glory not to stagnate in their ambition, but be in perpetual Edition: current; Page: [139] motion, and so obey the dictates of their genius in managing the commonwealth; because they would be more tormented and would suffer greater damages by idleness, if they were disappointed of that they were in the eager pursuit of. But the philosopher is absurd in this, that he doth not excite men who have abilities to qualify themselves for charges in the government, but only those who are of a restless and unquiet disposition. For the tranquillity and perturbation of the mind are not to be measured by the fewness or multitude of our actions, but by their beauty or turpitude; since the omission of what is good is no less troublesome than the commission of evil.

ModernGreek: 3. As for those who think there is one positive state of life, which is always serene, — some fancying it to be of the husbandmen, others of those which are unmarried, and some of kings, — Menander clearly shows them their error in these verses: —

  • I thought those men, my Phania, always best,
  • Who take no money up at interest;
  • Who disengaged from business spend the day,
  • And in complaints don’t sigh the night away,
  • Who, troubled, lamentable groans don’t fetch,
  • Thus breathing out, Ah! miserable wretch!
  • Those whom despairing thoughts don’t waking keep,
  • But without startings sweetly take their sleep.

He goes on and observes to us, that the same lot of misfortune falls to the rich as well as the poor: —

  • These neighbors slender confines do divide, —
  • Sorrow and human life are still allied.
  • It the luxurious liver doth infest,
  • And robs the man of honor of his rest;
  • In stricter ties doth with the poor engage,
  • With him grows old to a decrepit age.

But as timorous and raw sailors in a boat, when they grow sick with the working of the waves, think they shall overcome their pukings if they go on board of a ship, but there being equally out of order, go into a galley, but are therefore never the better, because they carry their nauseousness Edition: current; Page: [140] and fear along with them; so the several changes of life do only shift and not wholly extirpate the causes of our trouble. And these are only our want of experience, the weakness of our judgment, and a certain impotence of mind which hinders us from making a right use of what we enjoy. The rich man is subject to this uneasiness of humor as well as the poor; the bachelor as well as the man in wedlock. This makes the pleader withdraw from the bar, and then his retirement is altogether as irksome. And this infuseth a desire into others to be presented at court; and when they come there, they presently grow weary of the life.

  • Poor men when sick do peevishly complain,
  • The sense of want doth aggravate their pain.*

For then the wife grows officious in her attendance, the physician himself is a disease, and the bed is not made easy enough to his mind; even his friend importunes him with his visits: —

  • He doth molest him when he first doth come,
  • And when he goes away he’s troublesome,

as Ion expresseth it. But when the heat of the disease is over and the former temperature of the body is restored, then health returns, and brings with it all those pleasant images which sickness chased away; so that he that yesterday refused eggs and delicate cakes and the finest manchets will now snap eagerly at a piece of household bread, with an olive and a few water-cresses.

ModernGreek: 4. So reason makes all sorts of life easy, and every change pleasant. Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds, and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: Do not you think it a matter worthy of lamentation, that, when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one? But Crates with only his Edition: current; Page: [141] scrip and tattered cloak laughed out his life jocosely, as if he had been always at a festival. The great power and command of Agamemnon gave him an equal disturbance: —

  • Look upon Agamemnon, Atreus’s son,
  • What mighty loads of trouble he hath on.
  • He is distracted with perpetual care;
  • Jove that inflicts it gives him strength to bear.*

Diogenes, when he was exposed to sale in the market and was commanded to stand up, not only refused to do it, but ridiculed the auctioneer, with this piece of raillery: What! if you were selling a fish, would you bid it rise up? Socrates was a philosopher in the prison, and discoursed with his friends, though he was fettered. But Phaeton, when he climbed up into heaven, thought himself unhappy there, because nobody would give him his father’s chariot and the horses of the sun. As therefore the shoe is twisted to the shape of the foot and not in the opposite way, so do the affections of the mind render the life conformable to themselves. For it is not custom, as one observed, which makes even the best life pleasant to those who choose it, but it must be prudence in conjunction with it, which makes it not only the best for its kind, but sweetest in its enjoyment. The fountain therefore of tranquillity being in ourselves, let us cleanse it from all impurity and make its streams limpid, that all external accidents, by being made familiar, may be no longer grievous to us, since we shall know how to use them well.

  • Let not these things thy least concern engage;
  • For though thou fret, they will not mind thy rage.
  • Him only good and happy we may call
  • Who rightly useth what doth him befall.

ModernGreek: 5. For Plato compared our life to a game at dice, where we ought to throw for what is most commodious for us, but when we have thrown, to make the best of our casts. Edition: current; Page: [142] We cannot make what chances we please turn up, if we play fair; this lies out of our power. That which is within our power, and is our duty if we are wise, is to accept patiently what Fortune shall allot us, and so to adjust things in their proper places, that what is our own may be disposed of to the best advantage, and what hath happened against our will may offend us as little as possible. But as to men who live without measures and with no prudence, like those whose constitution is so sickly and infirm that they are equally impatient both of heats and colds, prosperity exalts them above their temper, and adversity dejects them beneath it; indeed each fortune disturbs them, or rather they raise up storms to themselves in either, and they are especially querulous under good circumstances. Theodorus, who was called the Atheist, was used to say, that he reached out his instructions with the right hand, and his auditors received them with their left hands. So men of no education, when Fortune would even be complaisant to them, are yet so awkward in their observance, that they take her addresses on the wrong side. On the contrary, men that are wise, as the bees draw honey from the thyme, which is a most unsavory and dry herb, extract something that is convenient and useful even from the most bitter afflictions.

ModernGreek: 6. This therefore let us learn and have inculcated upon us; like the man who threw a stone at a bitch, but hit his step-mother, on which he exclaimed, Not so bad. So we may often turn the direction of what Fortune obtrudes upon us contrary to our desires. Diogenes was driven into banishment, but it was “not so bad” for him; for of an exile he became a philosopher. Zeno of Citium, when he heard that the only ship he had left was sunk by an unmerciful tempest, with all the rich cargo that was in her, brake out into this exclamation: Fortune, I applaud thy contrivance, who by this means hast reduced me to a threadbare cloak Edition: current; Page: [143] and the piazza of the Stoics. What hinders then but that these examples should be the patterns of our imitation? Thou stoodst candidate for a place in the government, and wast baulked in thy hopes; consider that thou wilt live at ease in thy own country, following thy own affairs. Thou wast ambitious to be the confidant of some great person, and sufferedst a repulse; thou wilt gain thus much by it, that thou wilt be free from danger and disembarrassed from business. Again, hast thou managed any affairs full of intricacy and trouble? Hot water doth not so much cherish the soft members of the body, as Pindar* expresseth it, as glory and honor joined with power sweeten all our toils and make labor easy. Hast thou met with any unfortunate success? Hath calumny bit, or envy hissed at thee? There is yet a prosperous gale, which sits fair to convey thee to the port of the Muses and land thee at the Academy. This Plato did, after he made shipwreck of the friendship of Diogenes. And indeed it highly conduceth to the tran quillity of the mind, to look back upon illustrious men and see with what temper they have borne their calamities. For instance, doth it trouble thee that thou wantest children? Consider that kings of the Romans have died without them, — had kingdoms to leave, but no heirs. Doth poverty and low condition afflict thee? It is put to thy option, wouldst thou not rather of all the Boeotians be Epaminondas, and of all the Romans Fabricius? But thy bed is violated, and thy wife is an adulteress. Didst thou never read this inscription at Delphi? —

  • Here am I set by Agis’ royal hand,
  • Who both the earth and ocean did command.

And yet did the report never arrive thee that Alcibiades debauched this king’s wife, Timaea? — and that she herself whispered archly to her maids, that the child was not the genuine offspring of her husband, but a young Alcibiades? Edition: current; Page: [144] Yet this did not obstruct the glory of the man; for, notwithstanding his being a cuckold, he was the greatest and most famous among the Greeks. Nor did the dissolute manners of his daughter hinder Stilpo from enlivening his humor and being the jolliest philosopher of his time; for when Metrocles upbraided him with it, he asked him whether he was the offender or his mad girl. He answered, that it was her sin but his misfortune. To which Stilpo replied: But are not sins lapses? No doubt of it, saith Metrocles. And is not that properly called lapse, when we fall off from the attainment of those things we were in the pursuit of? He could not deny it. He pursued him further with this question: And are not these unlucky traverses misfortunes to them who are thus disappointed? Thus by a pleasant and philosophical reasoning he turned the discourse, and showed the Cynic that his calumny was idle and he barked in vain.

ModernGreek: 7. But there are some whom not only the evil dispositions of their friends and domestics, but those of their enemies, give disturbance to. For a proneness to speak evil of another, anger, envy, ill-nature, a jealous and perverse temper, are the pests of those who are infected with them. And these serve only to trouble and exasperate fools, like the brawls of scolding neighbors, the peevishness of our acquaintance, and the iniquity or want of qualifications in those who administer the government. But thou seemest to me to be especially concerned with affairs of this nature; for, like the physicians mentioned by Sophocles, —

  • Who bitter choler cleanse and scour
  • With drugs as bitter and as sour, —

thou dost let other men’s enormities sour thy blood; which is highly irrational. For, even in matters of private management, thou dost not always employ men of wit and address, which are the most proper for such an execution, but sometimes those of rough and crooked dispositions; Edition: current; Page: [145] and to animadvert upon them for every peccadillo thou must not think belongs to thee, nor is it easy in the performance. But if thou makest that use of them, as chirurgeons do of forceps to pull out teeth or ligatures to bind wounds, and so appear cheerful whatever falls out, the satisfaction of thy mind will delight thee more than the concern at other men’s pravity and malicious humor will disturb thee. Otherwise, as dogs bark at all persons indifferently, so, if thou persecutest everybody that offends thee, thou wilt bring the matter to this pass by thy imprudence, that all things will flow down into this imbecility of thy mind, as a place void and capable of receiving them, and at last thou wilt be filled with nothing but other men’s miscarriages. For if some of the philosophers inveigh against compassion which others’ calamities affect us with, as a soft affection (saying, that we ought to give real assistance to those in distress, and not to be dejected or sympathize with them), and if — which is a thing of higher moment — they discard all sadness and uneasiness when the sense of a vice or a disease is upon us, saying that we ought to cure the indisposition without being grieved; is it not highly consonant to reason, that we should not storm or fret, if those we have to do with are not so wise and honest as they should be? Let us consider the thing truly, my Paccius, lest, whilst we find fault with others, we prove partial in our own respect through inadvertency, and lest our censuring their failings may proceed not so much from a hatred of their vices as from love of ourselves. We should not have our passions moved at every provocation, nor let our desires grow exorbitant beyond what is just; for these little aversions of our temper engender suspicions, and infuse moroseness into us, which makes us surly to those who precluded the way to our ambition, or who made us fall into those disastrous events we would willingly have shunned. But he that hath a smoothness in his nature Edition: current; Page: [146] and a talent of moderation can transact and converse with mankind easily and with mildness.

ModernGreek: 8. Let us recapitulate therefore what we have said. When we are in a fever, every thing that we taste is not only unsavory but bitter; but when we see others relish it without any disgust, we do not then lay the blame either upon the meat or drink, but conclude that only ourselves and the disease are in fault. In like manner we shall cease to bear things impatiently, if we see others enjoy them with alacrity and humor. And this likewise is a great promoter of the tranquillity of the mind, if, amongst those ill successes which carry a dismal appearance, we look upon other events which have a more beautiful aspect, and so blend them together that we may overcome the bad by the mixture of the good. But although, when our eyes are dazzled with too intense a splendor, we refresh our sight by viewing something that is green and florid, yet we fix the optics of our minds upon doleful objects, and compel them to dwell upon the recital of our miseries, plucking them perforce, as it were, from the consideration of what is better. And here we may insert that which was said to a pragmatical fellow, handsomely enough: —

  • Why so quick sighted others’ faults to find,
  • But to thy own so partially art blind?
  • ’Tis malice that exasperates thy mind.

But why, my friend, art thou so acute to discern even thy own misfortunes, and so industrious to renew them and set them in thy sight, that they may be the more conspicuous, while thou never turnest thy consideration to those good things which are present with thee and thou dost enjoy? But as cupping-glasses draw the impurest blood out of the body, so thou dost extract the quintessence of infelicity to afflict thyself. In this thou art no better than the Chian merchant, who, while he sold abundance of his best and most generous wine to others, called for some Edition: current; Page: [147] that was pricked and vapid to taste at supper; and one of his servants asking another what he left his master doing, he made this answer, that he was calling for bad when the good was by him. For most men leave the pleasant and delectable things behind them, and run with haste to embrace those which are not only difficult but intolerable. Aristippus was not of this number, for he knew, even to the niceness of a grain, to put prosperous against adverse fortune into the scale, that the one might outweigh the other. Therefore when he lost a noble farm, he asked one of his dissembled friends, who pretended to be sorry, not only with regret but impatience, for his mishap: Thou hast but one piece of land, but have I not three farms yet remaining? He assenting to the truth of it: Why then, saith he, should I not rather lament your misfortune, since it is the raving only of a mad man to be concerned at what is lost, and not rather rejoice in what is left? Thus, as children, if you rob them of one of their play-games, will throw away the rest, and cry and scream; so, if Fortune infest us only in one part, we grow fearful and abandon ourselves wholly to her attacks.

ModernGreek: 9. But somebody will object to me, What is it that we have? Rather, What is it that we have not? One is honorable, the other is master of a family; this man hath a good wife, the other a faithful friend. Antipater of Tarsus, when he was upon his death-bed and reckoning up all the good events which had befallen him, would not omit a prosperous voyage which he had when he sailed from Cilicia to Athens. Even the trite and common blessings are not to be despised, but ought to take up a room in our deliberations. We should rejoice that we live, and are in health, and see the sun; that there are no wars nor seditions in our country; that the earth yields to cultivation, and that the sea is open to our traffic; that we can talk, be silent, do business, and be at leisure, when we please. Edition: current; Page: [148] They will afford us greater tranquillity of mind present, if we form some just ideas of them when they are absent; if we often call to our remembrance how solicitous the sick man is after health, how acceptable peace is to put out a war, and what a courtesy it will do us to gain credit and acquire friends in a city of note, where we are strangers and unknown; and contrariwise, how great a grief it is to forego these things when we once have them. For surely a thing does not become great and precious when we have lost it, while it is of no account so long as we possess it; for the value of a thing cannot be increased by its loss. But we ought not to take pains to acquire things as being of great value, and to be in fear and trembling lest we may lose them, as if they were precious, and then all the time they are safe in our possession, to neglect them as if they were of no importance. But we are so to use them that we may reap satisfaction and gain a solid pleasure from them, that so we may be the better enabled to endure their loss with evenness of temper. But most men, as Arcesilaus observed, think they must be critics upon other men’s poems, survey their pictures with a curious eye, and examine their statues with all the delicacy of sculpture, but in the meanwhile transiently pass over their own lives, though there be some things in them which will not only detain but please their consideration. But they will not restrain the prospect to themselves, but are perpetually looking abroad, and so become servile admirers of other men’s fortune and reputation; as adulterers are always gloating upon other men’s wives and contemning their own.

ModernGreek: 10. Besides, this is a thing highly conducing to the tranquillity of the mind, for a man chiefly to consider himself and his own affairs. But if this always cannot take place, he should not make comparisons with men of a superior condition to himself; though this is the epidemical Edition: current; Page: [149] frenzy of the vulgar. As for instance, slaves who lie in fetters applaud their good fortune whose shackles are off; those who are loosed from their bonds would be free men by manumission; these again aspire to be citizens; the citizen would be rich; the wealthy man would be a governor of a province; the haughty governor would be a king, and the king a God, hardly resting content unless he can hurl thunderbolts and dart lightning. So all are eager for what is above them, and are never content with what they have.

The wealth of golden Gyges has no delight for me.

Likewise, —

  • No emulation doth my spirits fire,
  • The actions of the Gods I don’t admire.
  • I would not, to be great, a tyrant be;
  • The least appearances I would not see.

But one of Thasis, another of Chios, one of Galatia, and a fourth of Bithynia, not contenting themselves with the rank they enjoyed amongst their fellow-citizens, where they had honor and commands, complain that they have not foreign characters and are not made patricians of Rome; and if they attain that dignity, that they are not praetors; and if they arrive even to that degree, they still think themselves ill dealt with that they are not consuls; and when promoted to the fasces, that they were declared the second, and not the first. And what is all this but ungratefully accusing Fortune, and industriously picking out occasions to punish and torment ourselves? But he that is in his right senses and wise for his own advantage, out of those many millions which the sun looks upon,

Who of the products of the earth do eat,*

if he sees any one in the mighty throng who is more rich and honorable than himself, he is neither dejected in his mind nor countenance, nor doth he pensively sit down Edition: current; Page: [150] deploring his unhappiness, but he walks abroad publicly with an honest assurance. He celebrates his own good genius, and boasts of his good fortune in that it is happier than a thousand other men’s which are in the world. In the Olympic games you cannot gain the victory choosing your antagonist. But in human life affairs allow thee to excel many and to bear thyself aloft, and to be envied rather than envious; unless indeed thou dost match thyself unequally with a Briareus or a Hercules. Therefore, when thou art surprised into a false admiration of him who is carried in his sedan, cast thy eyes downward upon the slaves who support his luxury. When thou art wondering at the greatness of Xerxes crossing the Hellespont, consider those wretches who are digging through Mount Athos, who are urged to their labor with blows, blood being mixed with their sweat; call to mind that they had their ears and noses cut off, because the bridge was broken by the violence of the waves; think upon that secret reflection they have, and how happy they would esteem thy life and condition. Socrates hearing one of his friends crying out, How dear things are sold in this city! the wine of Chios costs a mina, the purple fish three, and a half pint of honey five drachms, — he brought him to the meal-shop, and showed him that half a peck of flour was sold for a penny. ’Tis a cheap city, said he. Then he brought him to the oil-man’s, and told him he might have a quart of olives for two farthings. At last he went to the salesman’s, and convinced him that the purchase of a sleeveless jerkin was only ten drachms. ’Tis a cheap city, he repeated. So, when we hear others declare that our condition is afflicted because we are not consuls and in eminent command, let us then look upon ourselves as living not only in a bare happiness but splendor, in that we do not beg our bread, and are not forced to subsist by carrying of burthens or by flattery.

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ModernGreek: 11. But such is our folly, that we accustom ourselves rather to live for other men’s sakes than our own; and our dispositions are so prone to upbraidings and to be tainted with envy, that the grief we conceive at others’ prosperity lessens the joy we ought to take in our own. But to cure thee of this extravagant emulation, look not upon the outside of these applauded men, which is so gay and brilliant, but draw the gaudy curtain and carry thy eyes inward, and thou shalt find most gnawing disquiets to be dissembled under these false appearances. When the renowned Pittacus, who got him so great a name for his fortitude, wisdom, and justice, was entertaining his friends at a noble banquet, and his spouse in an angry humor came and overturned the table; his guests being extremely disturbed at it, he told them: Every one of you hath his particular plague, and my wife is mine; and he is very happy who hath this only.

  • The pleading lawyer’s happy at the bar;
  • But the scene opening shows a civil war.
  • For the good man hath a domestic strife,
  • He’s slave to that imperious creature, wife.
  • Scolding without doors doth to him belong,
  • But she within them doth claim all the tongue.
  • Pecked by his female tyrant him I see,
  • Whilst from this grievance I myself am free.

These are the secret stings which are inseparable from honor, riches, and dominion, and which are unknown to the vulgar, because a counterfeit lustre dazzleth their sight.

  • All pleasant things Atrides doth adorn;
  • The merry genius smiled when he was born.*

And they compute this happiness from his great stores of ammunition, his variety of managed horses, and his battalions of disciplined men. But an inward voice of sorrow seems to silence all this ostentation with mournful accents: —

Jove in a deep affliction did him plunge.

Observe this likewise: —

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  • Old man, I reverence thy aged head,
  • Who to a mighty length hast spun thy thread;
  • Safe from all dangers, to the grave goest down
  • Ingloriously, because thou art unknown.*

Such expostulations as these with thyself will serve to dispel this querulous humor, which makes thee fondly applaud other people’s conditions and depreciate thy own.

ModernGreek: 12. This likewise greatly obstructs the tranquillity of the mind, that our desires are immoderate and not suited to our abilities of attainment, which, like sails beyond the proportion of the vessel, help only to overset it; so that, being blown up with extravagant expectations, if ill success frustrates our attempts, we presently curse our stars and accuse Fortune, when we ought rather to lay the blame upon our enterprising folly. For we do not reckon him unfortunate who will shoot with a ploughshare, and let slip an ox at a hare. Nor is he born under an unlucky influence who cannot catch a buck with a sling or drag-net; for it was the weakness and perverseness of his mind which inflamed him on to impossible things. The partial love of himself is chiefly in fault, which infuseth a vicious inclination to arrogate, and an insatiable ambition to attempt every thing. For they are not content with the affluence of riches and the accomplishments of the mind, that they are robust, have a complaisance of humor and strength of brain for company, that they are privadoes to princes and governors of cities, unless they have dogs of great sagacity and swiftness, horses of a generous strain, nay, unless their quails and cocks are better than other men’s. Old Dionysius, not being satisfied that he was the greatest potentate of his time, grew angry, even to a frenzy, that Philoxenus the poet exceeded him in the sweetness of his voice, and Plato in the subtleties of disputation; therefore he condemned one to the quarries, and sold the other into Aegina. But Alexander was of another temper; for when Criso the famous Edition: current; Page: [153] runner contended with him for swiftness, and seemed to be designedly lagging behind and yielding the race, he was in a great rage with him. And Achilles in Homer spake very well, when he said: —

  • None of the Greeks for courage me excel;
  • Let others have the praise of speaking well.*

When Megabyzus the Persian came into the shop of Apelles, and began to ask some impertinent questions concerning his art, the famous painter checked him into silence with this reprimand: As long as thou didst hold thy peace, thou didst appear to be a man of condition, and I paid a deference to the eclat of thy purple and the lustre of thy gold; but now, since thou art frivolous, thou exposest thyself to the laughter even of my boys that mix the colors. Some think the Stoics very childish, when they hear them affirm that the wise man must not only deserve that appellation for his prudence, be of exact justice and great fortitude, but must likewise have all the flowers of a rhetorician and the conduct of a general, must have the elegancies of a poet, be very wealthy, and called a king; but these good men claim all these titles for themselves, and if they do not receive them, they grow peevish and are presently out of temper. But the qualifications of the Gods themselves are different; for the one is styled the deity of war, another of the oracle, a third of traffic; and Jupiter makes Venus preside over marriages and be goddess of the nuptial bed, the delicacy of her sex being unapt for martial affairs.

ModernGreek: 13. And there are some things which carry a contrariety in their nature, and cannot be consistent. As for instance, the study of the mathematics and practice in oratory are exercises which require a great leisure and freedom from other concerns; but the intrigues of politics cannot be managed, and the favor of princes cannot be attained or cultivated, without severe application and being involved in Edition: current; Page: [154] affairs of high moment. Then the indulging ourselves to drink wine and eat flesh makes the body strong, but it effeminates the mind. Industry to acquire and care to preserve our wealth do infinitely increase it; but the contempt of riches is the best refreshment in our philosophic journey. Hence it is very manifest that there is a wide difference in things, and that we ought to obey the inscription of the Pythian oracle, that every man should know himself, that he should not constrain his genius but leave it to its own propensions, and then that he should apply himself to that to which he is most adapted, and not do violence to Nature by dragging her perforce to this or that course of life.

  • With generous provender they the horse do feed,
  • That he may win the race with strength and speed.
  • The mighty ox is fitted to the yoke,
  • And by his toil the fertile clods are broke.
  • The dolphin, when a ship he doth espy,
  • Straight the good-natured fish his fins doth ply;
  • By the ship’s motion he his own doth guide,
  • And lovingly swims constant to her side.
  • And if you’d apprehend the foaming boar,
  • The monster by a mastiff must be tore.*

But he is stupid in his wishes who takes it amiss that he is not a lion,

  • Who with a proud insulting air doth tread,
  • Rough as the mountains where he first was bred;

or that he is not a Malta-shock, delicately brought up in the lap of a fond widow. He is not a jot more rational who would be an Empedocles, a Plato, or a Democritus, and write about the universe and the reality of things therein, and at the same time would sleep by the dry side of an old woman, because she is rich, as Euphorion did; or be admitted to debauch with Alexander amongst his club of drunkards, as Medius was; or be concerned that he is not in as high a vogue of admiration as Ismenias was for his riches and Epaminondas for his virtue. For those who run races do not Edition: current; Page: [155] think they have injury done them if they are not crowned with those garlands which are due to the wrestlers, but they are rather transported with joy at their own rewards. “Sparta has fallen to thy lot; honor and adorn her.” Solon hath expressed himself to this purpose: —

  • Virtue for sordid wealth shall not be sold;
  • It’s beauty far outshines the miser’s gold.
  • This without Fortune’s shocks doth still endure;
  • But that’s possession is insecure.*

And Strato, who wrote of physics, when he heard that Menedemus had a great number of scholars, asked: What wonder is it, if more come to wash than to be anointed? And Aristotle, writing to Antipater, declared, that Alexander was not the only one who ought to think highly of himself because his dominion extended over many subjects, since they had a right to think as well of themselves who entertained becoming sentiments of the Gods. So that, by having a just opinion of our own excellences, we shall be disturbed with the less envy against those of other men. But now, although in other cases we do not expect figs from the vine nor grapes from the olive-tree, yet, if we have not the complicated titles of being rich and learned, philosophers in the schools and commanders in the field, if we cannot flatter, and have the facetious liberty to speak what we please, nay, if we are not counted parsimonious and splendid in our expenses at the same time, we grow uneasy to ourselves, and despise our life as maimed and imperfect. Besides, Nature seems to instruct us herself; for, as she ministers different sorts of food to her animals, and hath endowed them with diversity of appetites, — some to eat flesh, others to pick up seed, and others to dig up roots for their nourishment, — so she hath bestowed upon her rational creatures various sorts of accommodations to sustain their being. The shepherd hath one distinct from the ploughman; Edition: current; Page: [156] the fowler hath another peculiar to himself; and the fourth lives by the sea. So that in common equity we ought to labor in that vocation which is appointed and most commodious for us, and let alone the rest; and so not to prove that Hesiod fell short of the truth when he spake after this manner: —

  • The potter hates another of the trade
  • If by his hands a finer dish is made;
  • The smith his brother smudge with scorn doth treat,
  • If he his iron strikes with brisker heat.*

And this emulation is not confined to mechanics and those who follow the same occupations; but the rich man envies the learned. He that hath a bright reputation envies the miser’s guineas, and the pettifogger thinks he is outdone in talking by the sophister. Nay, by Heaven, he that is born free sottishly admires the servile attendance of him who is of the household to a king; and the man that hath patrician blood in his veins calls the comedian happy who acts his part gracefully and with humor, and applauds even the mimic who pleaseth with farce and scaramouchy gestures; thus by a false estimate of happiness they disturb and perplex themselves.

ModernGreek: 14. Now that every man hath a storehouse of trouble and contentment in his own bosom, and that the vessels which contain good and evil are not placed at Jupiter’s threshold, but in the recesses of the mind, the variety of our passions is an abundant demonstration. The fool doth not discern, and consequently cannot mind, the good that is obvious to him, for his thoughts are still intent upon the future; but the prudent man retrieves things that were lost out of their oblivion, by strength of recollection renders them perspicuous, and enjoys them as if they were present. Happiness having only a few coy minutes to be courted in, the man that hath no intellect neglects Edition: current; Page: [157] this opportunity, and so it slides away from his sense and no more belongs to him. But like him that is painted in hell twisting a rope, and who lets the ass that is by him devour all the laborious textures as fast as he makes them, so most men have such a lethargy of forgetfulness upon them, that they lose the remembrance of all great actions, and no more call to mind their pleasant intervals of leisure and repose. The relish of their former banquets is grown insipid, and delight hath left no piquant impression upon their palates; by this means they break as it were the continuity of life, and destroy the union of present things to the past; and dividing yesterday from to-day and to-day from to-morrow, they utterly efface all events, as if they had never been. For, as those who are dogmatical in the schools, and deny the augmentation of bodies by reason of the perpetual flux of all substance, do strip us out of ourselves and make no man to be the same to-day that he was yesterday; so those who bury all things that have preceded them in oblivion, who lose all the notices of former times and let them all be shattered carelessly out of their minds, do every day make themselves void and empty; and they become utterly dependent on the morrow, as if those things which happened last year and yesterday and the day before were not to affect their cognizance and be occurrences worthy their observation.

ModernGreek: 15. This is a great impediment to the tranquillity of the mind. But that which is its more sensible disturbance is this, that as flies upon a mirror easily slide down the smooth and polished parts of it, but stick to those which are rugged and uneven and fall into its flaws, so men let what is cheerful and pleasant flow from them, and dwell only upon sad melancholy remembrances. Nay, as those of Olynthus carry beetles into a certain place, which from the destruction of them is called their slaughter-house, where, all passages being stopped against their escape, they are Edition: current; Page: [158] killed by the weariness of perpetual flying about; so when men have once fallen upon the memory of their former sorrows, no consolation can take them off from the mournful theme. But as in a landscape we draw the most beautiful colors, so we ought to fill the prospect of our minds with the most agreeable and sprightly images; that, if we cannot utterly abolish those which are dark and unpleasant, we may at least obscure them by more gay and lively representations. For as the strings of a lute or bow, so is the harmony of the world alternately tightened and relaxed by vicissitude and change; and in human affairs there is nothing that is unmixed, nothing that is unallied. But as in music there are some sounds which are flat and some sharp, and in grammar some letters that are vocal and some mute, but neither the man of concord nor syntax doth industriously decline one sort, but with the fineness of his art mixeth them together; so in things in this world which carry a direct opposition in their nature one to another, — when, as Euripides expresseth it,

  • The good things with the evil still are joined,
  • And in strict union mutually combined;
  • The chequered work doth beautiful appear,
  • For what is sweet allays the more severe; —

yet we ought not to be discouraged or have any despondencies. But in this case let us imitate the musicians, who drown the harsh cadences with others that more caress the ear; so, by tempering our adverse fortune with what is more prosperous, let us render our lives pleasant and of an equal tone. For that is not true which Menander tells us: —

  • Soon as an infant doth salute the day,
  • A genius his first cryings doth obey,
  • And to his charge comes hastily away;
  • The daemon doth assist the tender lad,
  • Shows him what’s good, and saves him from the bad.

But the opinion of Empedocles deserves more our approbation, who saith that, as soon as any one is born, he is Edition: current; Page: [159] carefully taken up and governed by two guardian spirits. “There were Chthonia and far-seeing Heliope, and bloody Deris and grave-faced Harmonia, Kallisto and Aeschra, Thoösa and Denaea, with lovely Nemertes and black-fruited Asaphaea.”

ModernGreek: 16. By this diversity of characters is expressed only the variety of our passions; and these are the seeds of discontent we brought into the world with us. Since now these disorder our lives and make them unequal, he that is master of himself wishes for the better, but expects the worse; but he useth them both with a moderation suitable to that injunction, Do not any thing too much. For, as Epicurus said, not only does he that is least impatient after to-morrow enjoy it most when it comes; but honor, riches, and power give those the greatest complacency who are not tormented with any apprehensions that the contrary will befall them. For an immoderate craving after things of this nature infuseth a fear of losing them, equal to the first intemperate desire. This deadens the fruition, and makes the pleasure as weak and unstable as flame driven by the wind. But he to whom his reason hath given the assurance that he can boldly say to Fortune,

  • Welcome to me, if good thou bringest aught,
  • And if thou fail, I will take little thought, —

this is the man who can confidently enjoy what is present with him, and who is not afflicted with such cowardice of thoughts as to be in constant alarms lest he should lose his possessions, which would be an intolerable grievance. But let us not only admire but imitate that temper of mind in Anaxagoras, which made him express himself in these words upon the death of his son: —

I knew that I had begotten a mortal.

And let us apply it to all the casualties of our life after this manner. I know my riches have only the duration of a Edition: current; Page: [160] day; I know that the same hand which bestowed authority upon me could spoil me of those ornaments and take it away again; I know my wife to be the best of women, but still a woman; my friend to be faithful, yet the cement might be broken, for he was a man, — which, as Plato saith, is a very inconstant creature. These previous expostulations and preparations, if any thing fall out which is against our mind but not contrary to our expectation, will cure the palpitation of our hearts, make our disturbances settle and go down, and bring our minds to a consistence; not indulging us in these lazy exclamations, Who would have thought it? — I looked for better, and did not expect this. Carneades gives us a short memoir concerning great things, that the cause from whence all our troubles proceed is that they befall unexpectedly. The kingdom of Macedon compared with the Roman empire sank in the competition, for it was only an inconsiderable part of it; yet when Perseus lost it, he not only deplored his own misfortune, but he was thought by all the most abject and miserable of mankind. Yet Aemilius that conquered him, when he delivered up the command of sea and land into the hands of a successor, was crowned and did sacrifice, and was esteemed happy. For he knew, when he received his honor, that it was but temporary, and that he must lay down the authority he had taken up. But Perseus was stripped of his dominions by surprise. The poet hath prettily illustrated what it is for a thing to fall out unexpectedly. For Ulysses, when his dog died, could not forbear crying, yet would not suffer himself to weep when his wife sate by him crying, but stopped his tears; for here he came strengthened with reason and beforehand acquainted with the accident, but before it was the suddenness of the disaster which raised his sorrow and threw him into complaints.

ModernGreek: 17. Generally speaking, those things which happen to Edition: current; Page: [161] us against our will afflict us partly by a pungency that is in their nature, and partly custom and opinion so effeminate us that we are impatient under them. But against all contingencies we should have that of Menander in readiness: —

  • Afflictions to thyself thou dost create,
  • Thy fancy only is unfortunate.

For what are afflictions to thee, if they touch neither thy body nor thy soul? Of this sort is the low extraction of thy father, the adultery of thy wife, the loss of a garland, or being deprived of the upper seat in an assembly. And with all these crosses thou mayest have ease of mind and strength of body. But to those things which in their own nature excite our grief, — such as sickness, pains of the body, and the death of our friends and children, — we ought to apply that of Euripides: —

  • Alas! alas! and well-a-day!
  • But why alas and well away?
  • Naught else to us hath yet been dealt,
  • But that which daily men have felt.

There is no reasoning more effectual to restrain our passions and hinder our minds from falling into despair, than that which sets before us a physical necessity and the common lot of nature. And it is our bodies only that lie exposed to this destiny, and which we offer (as it were) as a handle to Fortune; but the fort-royal is still secure, where our strength lies and our most precious things are treasured up. When Demetrius took Megara, he asked Stilpo whether he had not suffered particular damage in the plundering; to which he made this answer, that he saw nobody that could rob him. So when Fate hath made all the depredations upon us it possibly can and hath left us naked, yet there is something still within us which is out of the reach of the pirate, —

Which conquering Greece could never force away.*

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Therefore we ought not so to vilify and depress our nature as if it could not get the ascendant over Fortune, and had nothing of firmness and stability in it. But we ought rather to consider that, if any part of us is obnoxious to this, it is only that which is the smallest, and the most impure and sickly too; whilst the better and more generous we have the most absolute dominion of, and our chiefest goods are placed in it, such as true discipline, a right notion of things, and reasonings which in their last results bring us unto virtue; which are so far from being abolished, that they cannot be corrupted. We ought likewise, with an invincible spirit and a bold security as regards futurity, to answer Fortune in those words which Socrates retorted upon his judges: Anytus and Meletus may kill, but they cannot hurt me. So she can afflict me with a disease, can spoil me of my riches, disgrace me with my prince, and bring me under a popular odium; but she cannot make a good man wicked, or the brave man a mean and degenerate coward; she cannot cast envy upon a generous temper, or destroy any of those habits of the mind which are more useful to us in the conduct of our lives, when they are within the command of our wills, than the skill of a pilot in a storm. For the pilot cannot mitigate the billows or calm the winds; he cannot sail into the haven as often as he has occasion, or without fear and trembling abide any danger that may befall him; but after having used all his efforts, he at last recommits himself to the fury of the storm, pulls down all his sails by the board, whilst the lower mast is within an inch of the abyss, and sits trembling at the approaching ruin. But the affections of the mind in a wise man procure tranquillity even to the body. For he prevents the beginnings of disease by temperance, a spare diet, and moderate exercise; but if an evil begin more visibly to show itself, as we sometimes steer our ship by rocks which lie in the water, he Edition: current; Page: [163] must then furl in his sails and pass by it, as Asclepiades expresseth it; but if the waves grow turbulent and the sea rougher, the port is at hand, and he may leave this body, as he would a leaky vessel, and swim ashore.

ModernGreek: 18. For it is not so much the desire of life as the fear of death, which makes the fool have such a dependence upon the body, and stick so fast to its embraces. So Ulysses held fast by the fig-tree, dreading Charybdis that lay under him, —

  • Where the wind would not suffer him to stay,
  • Nor would it serve to carry him away,*

so that on this side was but a slender support, and there was inevitable danger on the other. But he who considers the nature of the soul, and that death will transport it to a condition either far better or not much worse than what he now enjoys, hath contempt of death to sustain him as he travelleth on in this pilgrimage of his life, no small viaticum towards tranquillity of mind. For as to one that can live pleasantly so long as virtue and the better part of mankind are predominant, and can depart fearlessly so soon as hostile and unnatural principles prevail, saying to himself, —

Fate shall release me when I please myself;

what in the whole scope of the creation can be thought of that can raise a tumult in such a man, or give him the least molestation? Certainly, he that threw out that brave defiance to Fortune in these words, “I have prevented thee, O Fortune, and have shut up all thy avenues to me,” did not speak it confiding in the strength of walls or bars, or the security of keys; but it was an effect of his learning, and the challenge was a dictate of his reason. And these heights of resolution any men may attain to if they are willing; and we ought not to distrust, or despair of arriving Edition: current; Page: [164] to the courage of saying the same things. Therefore we should not only admire, but be kindled with emulation, and think ourselves touched with the impulse of a divine instinct, which piques us on to the trial of ourselves in matters of less importance; that thereby we may find how our tempers bear to be qualified for greater, and so may not incuriously decline that inspection we ought to have over ourselves, or take refuge in the saying, Perchance nothing will be more difficult than this. For the luxurious thinker, who withdraws himself from severe reflections and is conversant about no objects but what are easy and delectable, emasculates his understanding and contracts a softness of spirit; but he that makes grief, sickness, and banishment the subjects of his meditation, who composeth his mind sedately, and poiseth himself with reason to sustain the burthen, will find that those things are vain, empty, and false which appear so grievous and terrible to the vulgar, as his own reasonings will make out to him in every particular.

ModernGreek: 19. But many are shocked at this saying of Menander, —

No man can tell what will himself befall, —

in the mean while being monstrously ignorant what a noble expedient this is to disperse our sorrows, to contemplate upon and to be able to look Fortune steadily in the face; and not to cherish delicate and effeminate apprehensions of things, like those bred up in the shade, under false and extravagant hopes which have not strength to resist the first adversity. But to the saying of Menander we may make this just and serious reply: It is true that a man while he lives can never say, This will never befall me; but he can say this, I will not do this or that; I will scorn to lie; I will not be treacherous or do a thing ungenerously; I will not defraud or circumvent any one. And to do this lies within the sphere of our performance, and conduceth Edition: current; Page: [165] extremely to the tranquillity of the mind. Whereas, on the contrary, the being conscious of having done a wicked action* leaves stings of remorse behind it, which, like an ulcer in the flesh, makes the mind smart with perpetual wounds; for reason, which chaseth away all other pains, creates repentance, shames the soul with confusion, and punisheth it with torment. But as those who are chilled with an ague or that burn with a fever feel acuter griefs than those who are scorched with the sun or frozen up with the severity of the weather, so those things which are casual and fortuitous give us the least disturbance, because they are external accidents. But the man whom the truth of this makes uneasy, —

  • Another did not run me on this shelf;
  • I was the cause of all the ills myself,

who laments not only his misfortunes but his crimes, finds his agonies sharpened by the turpitude of the fact. Hence it comes to pass, that neither rich furniture nor abundance of gold, not a descent from an illustrious family or greatness of authority, not eloquence and all the charms of speaking can procure so great a serenity of life as a mind free from guilt, kept untainted not only from actions but purposes that are wicked. By this means the soul will be not only unpolluted but undisturbed; the fountain will run clear and unsullied; and the streams that flow from it will be just and honest deeds, ecstasies of satisfaction, a brisk energy of spirit which makes a man an enthusiast in his joy, and a tenacious memory sweeter than hope, which (as Pindar saith) with a virgin warmth cherisheth old age. For as censers, even after they are empty, do for a long time after retain their fragrancy, as Carneades expresseth it, so the good actions of a wise man perfume his mind, and leave a rich scent behind them; so that joy is, as it Edition: current; Page: [166] were, watered with these essences, and owes its flourishing to them. This makes him pity those who not only bewail but accuse human life, as if it were only a region of calamities and a place of banishment appointed for their souls.

ModernGreek: 20. That saying of Diogenes extremely pleaseth me, who, seeing one sprucing himself up very neatly to go to a great entertainment, asked him whether every day was not a festival to a good man. And certainly, that which makes it the more splendid festival is sobriety. For the world is a spacious and beautiful temple; this a man is brought into as soon as he is born, where he is not to be a dull spectator of immovable and lifeless images made by human hands, but is to contemplate sublime things, which (as Plato tells us) the divine mind has exhibited to our senses as likenesses of things in the ideal world, having the principles of life and motion in themselves; such as are the sun, moon, and stars; rivers which are still supplied with fresh accessions of water; and the earth, which with a motherly indulgence suckles the plants and feeds her sensitive creatures. Now since life is the introduction and the most perfect initiation into these mysteries, it is but just that it should be full of cheerfulness and tranquillity. For we are not to imitate the little vulgar, who wait impatiently for the jolly days which are consecrated to Saturn, Bacchus, and Minerva, that they may be merry with hired laughter, and pay such a price to the mimic and stage-dancer for their diversions. At all these games and ceremonies we sit silent and composed; for no man laments when he is initiated in the rites, when he beholds the games of Apollo, or drinks in the Saturnalia. But when the Gods order the scenes at their own festivals, or initiate us into their own mysteries, the enjoyment becomes sordid to us; and we wear out our wretched lives in care, heaviness of spirit, and bitter complaints.

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Men are delighted with the harmonious touches of an instrument; they are pleased likewise with the melody of the birds; and it is not without some recreation that they behold the beasts frolicsome and sporting; but when the frisk is over and they begin to bellow and curl their brows, the ungrateful noise and their angry looks offend them. But as for their own lives, they suffer them to pass away without a smile, to boil with passions, be involved in business, and eaten out with endless cares. And to ease them of their solicitudes, they will not seek out for remedies themselves, nor will they even hearken to the reasons or admit the consolations of their friends. But if they would only give ear to these, they might bear their present condition without fault-finding, remember the past with joy and gratitude, and live without fear or distrust, looking forward to the future with a joyful and lightsome hope.

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ModernGreek: 1. Our great ignorance of the Divine Beings most naturally runs in two streams; whereof the one in harsh and coarse tempers, as in dry and stubborn soils, produces atheism, and the other in the more tender and flexible, as in moist and yielding grounds, produces superstition. Indeed, every wrong judgment, in matters of this nature especially, is a great unhappiness to us; but it is here attended with a passion, or disorder of the mind, of a worse consequence than itself. For every such passion is, as it were, an error inflamed. And as a dislocation is the more painful when it is attended with a bruise, so are the perversions of our understandings, when attended with passion. Is a man of opinion that atoms and a void were the first origins of things? It is indeed a mistaken conceit, but makes no ulcer, no shooting, no searching pain. But is a man of opinion that wealth is his last good? This error contains in it a canker; it preys upon a man’s spirits, it transports him, it suffers him not to sleep, it makes him horn-mad, it carries him over headlong precipices, strangles him, and makes him unable to speak his mind. Are there some again, that take virtue and vice for substantial bodies? This may be sottish conceit indeed, but yet it bespeaks neither lamentations nor groans. But such opinions and conceits as these, —

  • Poor virtue! thou wast but a name, and mere jest,
  • And I, choust fool, did practise thee in earnest,
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and for thee have I quitted injustice, the way to wealth, and excess, the parent of all true pleasure, — these are the thoughts that call at once for our pity and indignation; for they will engender swarms of diseases, like fly-blows and vermin, in our minds.

ModernGreek: 2. To return then to our subject, atheism, which is a false persuasion that there are no blessed and incorruptible beings, tends yet, by its disbelief of a Divinity, to bring men to a sort of unconcernedness and indifferency of temper; for the design of those that deny a God is to ease themselves of his fear. But superstition appears by its appellation to be a distempered opinion and conceit, productive of such mean and abject apprehensions as debase and break a man’s spirit, while he thinks there are divine powers indeed, but withal sour and vindictive ones. So that the atheist is not at all, and the superstitiousis perversely, affected with the thoughts of God; ignorance depriving the one of the sense of his goodness, and superadding to the other a persuasion of his cruelty. Atheism then is but false reasoning single, but superstition is a disorder of the mind produced by this false reasoning.

ModernGreek: 3. Every distemper of our minds is truly base and ignoble; yet some passions are accompanied with a sort of levity, that makes men appear gay, prompt, and erect; but none, we may say, are wholly destitute of force for action. But the common charge upon all sorts of passions is, that they excite and urge the reason, forcing it by their violent stings. Fear alone, being equally destitute of reason and audacity, renders our whole irrational part stupid, distracted, and unserviceable. Therefore it is called δεῖμα because it binds, and τάϱβος because it distracts the mind.* But of all fears, none so dozes and confounds as that of superstition. He fears not the sea that never goes to sea; nor a battle, that Edition: current; Page: [170] follows not the camp; nor robbers, that stirs not abroad; nor malicious informers, that is a poor man; nor emulation, that leads a private life; nor earthquakes, that dwells in Gaul; nor thunderbolts, that dwells in Ethiopia: but he that dreads divine powers dreads every thing, the land, the sea, the air, the sky, the dark, the light, a sound, a silence, a dream. Even slaves forget their masters in their sleep; sleep lightens the irons of the fettered; their angry sores, mortified gangrenes, and pinching pains allow them some intermission at night.

  • Dear sleep, sweet easer of my irksome grief,
  • Pleasant thou art! how welcome thy relief!*

Superstition will not permit a man to say this. That alone will give no truce at night, nor suffer the poor soul so much as to breathe or look up, or respite her sour and dismal thoughts of God a moment; but raises in the sleep of the superstitious, as in the place of the damned, certain prodigious forms and ghastly spectres, and perpetually tortures the unhappy soul, chasing her out of sleep into dreams, lashed and tormented by her own self, as by some other, and charged by herself with dire and portentous injunctions. Neither have they, when awake, enough sense to slight and smile at all this, or to be pleased with the thought that nothing of all that terrified them was real; but they still fear an empty shadow, that could never mean them any ill, and cheat themselves afresh at noonday, and keep a bustle, and are at expense upon the next fortune-teller or vagrant that shall but tell them: —

  • If in a dream hobgoblin thou hast seen,
  • Or felt’st the rambling guards o’ th’ Fairy Queen,

send for some old witch who can purify thee, go dip thyself in the sea, and then sit down upon the bare ground the rest of the day.

O that our Greeks should found such barbarous rites,

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as tumbling in mire, rolling themselves in dunghills, keeping of Sabbaths, monstrous prostrations, long and obstinate sittings in a place, and vile and abject adorations, and all for vain superstition! They that were careful to preserve good singing used to direct the practisers of that science to sing with their mouths in their true and proper postures. Should not we then admonish those that would address themselves to the heavenly powers to do that also with a true and natural mouth, lest, while we are so solicitous that the tongue of a sacrifice be pure and right, we distort and abuse our own with silly and canting language, and thereby expose the dignity of our divine and ancient piety to contempt and raillery? It was not unpleasantly said somewhere by the comedian to those that adorned their beds with the needless ornaments of silver and gold: Since the Gods have given us nothing gratis except sleep, why will you make that so costly? It might as well be said to the superstitious bigot: Since the Gods have bestowed sleep on us, to the intent we may take some rest and forget our sorrows, why will you needs make it a continual irksome tormentor, when you know your poor soul hath ne’er another sleep to betake herself to? Heraclitus saith: They who are awake have a world in common amongst them; but they that are asleep are retired each to his own private world. But the frightful visionary hath ne’er a world at all, either in common with others or in private to himself; for neither can he use his reason when awake, nor be free from his fears when asleep; but he hath his reason always asleep, and his fears always awake; nor hath he either an hiding-place or refuge.

ModernGreek: 4. Polycrates was formidable at Samos, and so was Periander at Corinth; but no man ever feared either of them that had made his escape to an equal and free government. But he that dreads the divine government, as a sort of inexorable and implacable tyranny, whither Edition: current; Page: [172] can he remove? Whither can he fly? What land, what sea can he find where God is not? Wretched and miserable man! in what corner of the world canst thou so hide thyself, as to think thou hast now escaped him? Slaves are allowed by the laws, when they despair of obtaining their freedom, to demand a second sale, in hopes of kinder masters. But superstition allows of no change of Gods; nor could he indeed find a God he would not fear, that dreads his own and his ancestors’ guardians, that quivers at his preservers and benign patrons, and that trembles and shakes at those of whom we ask wealth, plenty, concord, peace, and direction to the best words and actions. Slaves again account it their misfortune to become such, and can say, —

  • Both man and wife in direful slavery,
  • And with ill masters too! Fate’s worst decree!

But how much less tolerable, think you, is their condition, that can never possibly run away, escape, or desert? A slave may fly to an altar, and many temples afford sanctuary to thieves; and they that are pursued by an enemy think themselves safe if they can catch hold on a statue or a shrine. But the superstitious fears, quivers, and dreads most of all there, where others when fearfullest take greatest courage. Never hale a superstitious man from the altar. It is his place of torment; he is there chastised. In one word, death itself, the end of life, puts no period to this vain and foolish dread; but it transcends those limits, and extends its fears beyond the grave, adding to it the imagination of immortal ills; and after respite from past sorrows, it fancies it shall next enter upon never-ending ones. I know not what gates of hell open themselves from beneath, rivers of fire together with Stygian torrents present themselves to view; a gloomy darkness appears full of ghastly spectres and horrid shapes, with dreadful aspects and doleful groans, together with judges and tormentors, Edition: current; Page: [173] pits and caverns, full of millions of miseries and woes. Thus does wretched superstition bring inevitably upon itself by its fancies even those calamities which it has once escaped.

ModernGreek: 5. Atheism is attended with none of this. True indeed, the ignorance is very lamentable and sad. For to be blind or to see amiss in matters of this consequence cannot but be a fatal unhappiness to the mind, it being then deprived of the fairest and brightest of its many eyes, the knowledge of God. Yet this opinion (as hath been said) is not necessarily accompanied with any disordering, ulcerous, frightful, or slavish passion. Plato thinks the Gods never gave men music, the science of melody and harmony, for mere delectation or to tickle the ear, but in order that the confusion and disorder in the periods and harmonies of the soul, which often for want of the Muses and of grace break forth into extravagance through intemperance and license, might be sweetly recalled, and artfully wound up to their former consent and agreement.

  • No animal accurst by Jove
  • Music’s sweet charms can ever love,*

saith Pindar. For all such will rave and grow outrageous straight. Of this we have an instance in tigers, which (as they say), if they hear but a tabor beat near them, will rage immediately and run stark mad, and in fine tear themselves in pieces. They certainly suffer the less inconvenience of the two, who either through defect of hearing or utter deafness are wholly insensible of music, and therefore unmoved by it. It was a great misfortune indeed to Tiresias, that he wanted sight to see his friends and children; but a far greater to Athamas and Agave, to see them in the shape of lions and bucks. And it had been happier for Hercules, when he was distracted, if he could have neither seen nor known his children, than to Edition: current; Page: [174] have used like the worst of enemies those he so tenderly loved.

ModernGreek: 6. Well then, is not this the very case of the atheist, compared with the superstitious? The former sees not the Gods at all, the latter believes that he really sees them; the former wholly overlooks them, but the latter mistakes their benignity for terror, their paternal affection for tyranny, their providence for cruelty, and their frank simplicity for savageness and brutality.

Again, the workman in copper, stone, and wax can persuade such that the Gods are in human shape; for so they make them, so they draw them, and so they worship them. But they will not hear either philosophers or statesmen that describe the majesty of the Divinity as accompanied by goodness, magnanimity, benignity, and beneficence. The one therefore hath neither a sense nor belief of that divine good he might participate of; and the other dreads and fears it. In a word, atheism is an absolute insensibility to God (or want of passion), which does not recognize goodness; while superstition is a blind heap of passions, which imagine the good to be evil. They are afraid of their Gods, and yet run to them; they fawn upon them, and reproach them; they invoke them, and accuse them. It is the common destiny of humanity not to enjoy uninterrupted felicity.

  • Nor pains, nor age, nor labor they e’er bore,
  • Nor visited rough Acheron’s hoarse shore,

saith Pindar of the Gods; but human passions and affairs are liable to a strange multiplicity of uncertain accidents and contingencies.

ModernGreek: 7. Consider well the atheist, and observe his behavior first in things not under the disposal of his will. If he be otherwise a man of good temper, he is silent under his present circumstances, and is providing himself with either remedies or palliatives for his misfortunes. But if he be a Edition: current; Page: [175] fretful and impatient man, his whole complaint is against Fortune. He cries out, that nothing is managed here below either after the rules of a strict justice or the orderly course of a providence, and that all human affairs are hurried and driven without either premeditation or distinction. This is not the demeanor of the superstitious; if the least thing do but happen amiss to him, he sits him down plunged in sorrow, and raises himself a vast tempest of intolerable and incurable passions, and presents his fancy with nothing but terrors, fears, surmises, and distractions, until he hath overwhelmed himself with groans and fears. He blames neither man, nor Fortune, nor the times, nor himself; but charges all upon God, from whom he fancies a whole deluge of vengeance to be pouring down upon him; and, as if he were not only unfortunate but in open hostility with Heaven, he imagines that he is punished by God and is now making satisfaction for his past crimes, and saith that his sufferings are all just and owing to himself. Again, when the atheist falls sick, he reckons up and calls to his remembrance his several surfeits and debauches, his irregular course of living, excessive labors, or unaccustomed changes of air or climate. Likewise, when he miscarries in any public administration, and either falls into popular disgrace or comes to be ill presented to his prince, he searches for the causes in himself and those about him, and asks,

  • Where have I erred? What have I done amiss?
  • What should be done by me that undone is?*

But the fanciful superstitionist accounts every little distemper in his body or decay in his estate, the death of his children, and crosses and disappointments in matters relating to the public, as the immediate strokes of God and the incursions of some vindictive daemon. And therefore he dares not attempt to remove or relieve his disasters, or Edition: current; Page: [176] to use the least remedy or to oppose himself to them, for fear he should seem to struggle with God and to make resistance under correction. If he be sick, he thrusts away the physician; if he be in any grief, he shuts out the philosopher that would comfort and advise him. Let me alone, saith he, to pay for my sins: I am a cursed and vile offender, and detestable both to God and angels. Now suppose a man unpersuaded of a Divinity in never so great sorrow and trouble, you may yet possibly wipe away his tears, cut his hair, and force away his mourning; but how will you come at this superstitious penitentiary, either to speak to him or to bring him any relief? He sits him down without doors in sackcloth, or wrapped up in foul and nasty rags; yea, many times rolls himself naked in mire, repeating over I know not what sins and transgressions of his own; as, how he did eat this thing and drink the other thing, or went some way prohibited by his Genius. But suppose he be now at his best, and laboring under only a mild attack of superstition; you shall even then find him sitting down in the midst of his house all becharmed and bespelled, with a parcel of old women about him, tugging all they can light on, and hanging it upon him as (to use an expression of Bion’s) upon some nail or peg.

ModernGreek: 8. It is reported of Teribazus that, being seized by the Persians, he drew out his scimitar, and being a very stout person, defended himself bravely; but when they cried out and told him he was apprehended by the king’s order, he immediately put up his sword, and presented his hands to be bound. Is not this the very case of the superstitious? Others can oppose their misfortunes, repel their troubles, and furnish themselves with retreats, or means of avoiding the stroke of things not under the disposal of their wills; but the superstitious person, without anybody’s speaking to him, — but merely upon his own saying to himself, This thou undergoest, vile wretch, by the direction of Providence, Edition: current; Page: [177] and by Heaven’s just appointment, — immediately casts away all hope, surrenders himself up, and shuns and affronts his friends that would relieve him. Thus do these sottish fears oftentimes convert tolerable evils into fatal and insupportable ones. The ancient Midas (as the story goes of him), being much troubled and disquieted by certain dreams, grew so melancholy thereupon, that he made himself away by drinking bull’s blood. Aristodemus, king of Messenia, when a war broke out betwixt the Lacedaemonians and the Messenians, upon some dogs howling like wolves, and grass coming up about his ancestors’ domestic altar, and his divines presaging ill upon it, fell into such a fit of sullenness and despair that he slew himself. And perhaps it had been better if the Athenian general, Nicias, had been eased of his folly the same way that Midas and Aristodemus were, than for him to sit still for fear of a lunar eclipse, while he was invested by an enemy, and so be himself made a prisoner, together with an army of forty thousand men (that were all either slain or taken), and die ingloriously. There was nothing formidable in the interposition of the earth betwixt the sun and the moon, neither was there any thing dreadful in the shadow’s meeting the moon at the proper time: no, the dreadfulness lay here, that the darkness of ignorance should blind and befool a man’s reason at a time when he had most occasion to use it.

  • Glaucus, behold!
  • The sea with billows deep begins to roll;
  • The seas begin in azure rods to lie;
  • A teeming cloud of pitch hangs on the sky
  • Right o’er Gyre rocks; there is a tempest nigh;*

which as soon as the pilot sees, he falls to his prayers and invokes his tutelar daemons, but neglects not in the mean time to hold to the rudder and let down the mainyard; and so.

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  • By gathering in his sails, with mighty pain,
  • Escapes the hell-pits of the raging main.

Hesiod* directs his husbandman, before he either plough or sow, to pray to the infernal Jove and the venerable Ceres, but with his hand upon the plough-tail. Homer acquaints us how Ajax, being to engage in a single combat with Hector, bade the Grecians pray to the Gods for him; and while they were at their devotions, he was putting on his armor. Likewise, after Agamemnon had thus prepared his soldiers for the fight, —

  • Each make his spear to glitter as the sun,
  • Each see his warlike target well hung on, —

he then prayed, —

Grant me, great Jove, to throw down Priam’s roof.

For God is the brave man’s hope, and not the coward’s excuse. The Jews indeed once sat on their tails, — it being forsooth their Sabbath day, — and suffered their enemies to rear their scaling-ladders and make themselves masters of their walls, and so lay still until they were caught like so many trout in the drag-net of their own superstition.

ModernGreek: 9. Such then is the behavior of superstition in times of adversity, and in things out of the power of man’s will. Nor doth it a jot excel atheism in the more agreeable and pleasurable part of our lives. Now what we esteem the most agreeable things in human life are our holidays, temple-feasts, initiatings, processionings, with our public prayers and solemn devotions. Mark we now the atheist’s behavior here. ’Tis true, he laughs at all that is done, with a frantic and sardonic laughter, and now and then whispers to a confidant of his, The devil is in these people sure, that can imagine God can be taken with these fooleries: Edition: current; Page: [179] but this is the worst of his disasters. But now the superstitious man would fain be pleasant and gay, but cannot for his heart. The whole town is filled with odors of incense and perfumes, and at the same time a mixture of hymns and sighs fills his poor soul.* He looks pale with a garland on his head, he sacrifices and fears, prays with a faltering tongue, and offers incense with a trembling hand. In a word, he utterly baffles that saying of Pythagoras, that we are then best when we come near the Gods. For the superstitious person is then in his worst and most pitiful condition, when he approaches the shrines and temples of the Gods.

ModernGreek: 10. So that I cannot but wonder at those that charge atheism with impiety, and in the mean time acquit superstition. Anaxagoras was indicted of blasphemy for having affirmed the sun to be a red-hot stone; yet the Cimmerians were never much blamed for denying his being. What? Is he that holds there is no God guilty of impiety, and is not he that describes him as the superstitious do much more guilty? I, for my own part, had much rather people should say of me, that there neither is nor ever was such a man as Plutarch, than they should say: “Plutarch is an unsteady, fickle, froward, vindictive, and touchy fellow; if you invite others to sup with you, and chance to leave out Plutarch, or if some business falls out that you cannot wait at his door with the morning salute, or if when you meet with him you don’t speak to him, he’ll fasten upon you somewhere with his teeth and bite the part through, or catch one of your children and cane him, or turn his beast into your corn and spoil your crop.” When Timotheus the musician was one day singing at Athens an hymn to Diana, in which among other things was this, —

Mad, raving, tearing, foaming Deity, —

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Cinesias, the lyric poet, stood up from the midst of the spectators, and spoke aloud: I wish thee with all my heart such a Goddess to thy daughter, Timotheus. Such like, nay worse, are the conceits of the superstitious about this Goddess Diana: —

  • Thou dost on the bed-clothes jump,
  • And there liest like a lump.
  • Thou dost tantalize the bride,
  • When love’s charms by thee are tied.
  • Thou look’st grim and full of dread,
  • When thou walk’st to find the dead.
  • Thou down chairs and tables rumbl’st,
  • When with Oberon thou tumbl’st.*

Nor have they any milder sentiments of Apollo, Juno, or Venus; for they are equally scared with them all. Alas! what could poor Niobe ever say that could be so reflecting upon the honor of Latona, as that which superstition makes fools believe of her? Niobe, it seems, had given her some hard words, for which she fairly shot her

Six daughters, and six sons full in their prime;

so impatient was she, and insatiate with the calamities of another. Now if the Goddess was really thus choleric and vindictive and so highly incensed with bad language, and if she had not the wisdom to smile at human frailty and ignorance, but suffered herself to be thus transported with passion, I much marvel she did not shoot them too that told this cruel story of her, and charged her both in speech and writing with so much spleen and rancor. We oft accuse Queen Hecuba of barbarous and savage bitterness, for having once said in Homer, —

Would God I had his liver ’twixt my teeth;

yet the superstitious believe, if a man taste of a minnow or Edition: current; Page: [181] bleak, the Syrian Goddess will eat his shins through, fill his body with sores, and dissolve his liver.

ModernGreek: 11. Is it a sin then to speak amiss of the Gods, and is it not to think amiss of them? And is not thinking the cause of speaking ill? For the only reason of our dislike to detraction is that we look upon it as a token of ill-will to us; and we therefore take those for our enemies that misrepresent us, because we look upon them as untrusty and disaffected. You see then what the superstitious think of the divinity, while they fancy the Gods such heady, faithless, fickle, revengeful, cruel, and fretful things. The consequence of which is that the superstitious person must needs both fear and hate them at once. And indeed, how can he otherwise choose, while he thinks the greatest calamities he either doth now or must hereafter undergo are wholly owing to them? Now he that both hates and fears the Gods must of necessity be their enemy. And if he trembles, fears, prostrates, sacrifices, and sits perpetually in their temples, that is no marvel at all. For the very worst of tyrants are complimented and attended, yea, have statues of gold erected to them, by those who in private hate them and wag their heads. Hermolaus waited on Alexander, and Pausanias was of Philip’s guard, and so was Chaerea of Caligula’s; yet every one of these said, I warrant you, in his heart as he went along, —

  • Had I a power as my will is good,
  • Know this, bold tyrant, I would have thy blood.*

The atheist believes there are no Gods; the superstitious would have none, but is a believer against his will, and would be an infidel if he durst. He would be as glad to ease himself of the burthen of his fear, as Tantalus would be to slip his head from under the great stone that hangs over him, and would bless the condition of the atheist as Edition: current; Page: [182] absolute freedom, compared with his own. The atheist now has nothing to do with superstition; while the superstitious is an atheist in his heart, but is too much a coward to think as he is inclined.

ModernGreek: 12. Moreover, atheism hath no hand at all in causing superstition; but superstition not only gave atheism its first birth, but serves it ever since by giving it its best apology for existing, which, although it be neither a good nor a fair one, is yet the most specious and colorable. For men were not at first made atheists by any fault they found in the heavens or stars, or in the seasons of the year, or in those revolutions or motions of the sun about the earth that make the day and night; nor yet by observing any mistake or disorder either in the breeding of animals or the production of fruits. No, it was the uncouth actions and ridiculous and senseless passions of superstition, her canting words, her foolish gestures, her charms, her magic, her freakish processions, her taborings, her foul expiations, her vile methods of purgation, and her barbarous and inhuman penances, and bemirings at the temples, — it was these, I say, that gave occasion to many to affirm, it would be far happier there were no Gods at all than for them to be pleased and delighted with such fantastic toys, and to thus abuse their votaries, and to be incensed and pacified with trifles.

ModernGreek: 13. Had it not been much better for the so much famed Gauls and Scythians to have neither thought nor imagined nor heard any thing of their Gods, than to have believed them such as would be pleased with the blood of human sacrifices, and would account such for the most complete and meritorious of expiations? How much better had it been for the Carthaginians to have had either a Critias or a Diagoras for their first lawmaker, that so they might have believed in neither God nor spirits, than to make such offerings to Saturn as they made? — not such as Empedocles Edition: current; Page: [183] speaks of, where he thus touches the sacrifices of beasts: —

  • The sire lifts up his dear beloved son,
  • Who first some other form and shape did take;
  • He doth him slay and sacrifice anon,
  • And therewith vows and foolish prayers doth make.

But they knowingly and wittingly themselves devoted their own children; and they that had none of their own bought of some poor people, and then sacrificed them like lambs or pigeons, the poor mother standing by the while without either a sigh or tear; and if by chance she fetched a sigh or let fall a tear, she lost the price of her child, but it was nevertheless sacrificed. All the places round the image were in the mean time filled with the noise of hautboys and tabors, to drown the poor infants’ crying. Suppose we now the Typhons and Giants should depose the Gods and make themselves masters of mankind, what sort of sacrifices, think you, would they expect? Or what other expiations would they require? The queen of King Xerxes, Amestris, buried twelve men alive, as a sacrifice to Pluto to prolong her own life; and yet Plato saith, This God is called in Greek Hades, because he is placid, wise, and wealthy, and retains the souls of men by persuasion and oratory. That great naturalist Xenophanes, seeing the Egyptians beating their breasts and lamenting at the solemn times of their devotions, gave them this pertinent and seasonable admonition: If they are Gods (said he), don’t cry for them; and if they are men, don’t sacrifice to them.

ModernGreek: 14. There is certainly no infirmity belonging to us that contains such a multiplicity of errors and fond passions, or that consists of such incongruous and incoherent opinions, as this of superstition doth. It behooves us therefore to do our utmost to escape it; but withal, we must see we do it safely and prudently, and not rashly and inconsiderately, Edition: current; Page: [184] as people run from the incursions of robbers or from fire, and fall into bewildered and untrodden paths full of pits and precipices. For so some, while they would avoid superstition, leap over the golden mean of true piety into the harsh and coarse extreme of atheism.

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King of Persia, O Caesar Trajan, greatest of princes, esteemed it no less royal and bountiful kindly and cheerfully to accept small, than to make great presents; and when he was in a progress, and a common country laborer, having nothing else, took up water with both his hands out of the river and presented it to him, he smiled and received it pleasantly, measuring the kindness not by the value of the gift, but by the affection of the giver. And Lycurgus ordained in Sparta very cheap sacrifices, that they might always worship the Gods readily and easily with such things as were at hand. Upon the same account, when I bring a mean and slender present of the common first-fruits of philosophy, accept also (I beseech you) with my good affection these short memorials, if they may contribute any thing to the knowledge of the manners and dispositions of great men, which are more apparent in their words than in their actions. My former treatise contains the lives of the most eminent princes, lawgivers, and generals, both Romans and Grecians; but most of their actions admit a mixture of fortune, whereas such speeches and answers as happened amidst their employments, passions, and events afford us (as in a looking-glass) a clear discovery of each particular temper and disposition. Accordingly Siramnes the Persian, to such as wondered that Edition: current; Page: [186] he usually spoke like a wise man and yet was unsuccessful in his designs, replied: I myself am master of my words, but the king and fortune have power over my actions. In the former treatise speeches and actions are mingled together, and require a reader that is at leisure; but in this the speeches, being as it were the seeds and the illustrations of those lives, are placed by themselves, and will not (I think) be tedious to you, since they will give you in a few words a review of many memorable persons.


The Persians affect such as are hawk-nosed and think them most beautiful, because Cyrus, the most beloved of their kings, had a nose of that shape. Cyrus said that those that would not do good for themselves ought to be compelled to do good for others; and that nobody ought to govern, unless he was better than those he governed. When the Persians were desirous to exchange their hills and rocks for a plain and soft country, he would not suffer them, saying that both the seeds of plants and the lives of men resemble the soil they inhabit.


Darius the father of Xerxes used to praise himself, saying that he became even wiser in battles and dangers. When he laid a tax upon his subjects, he summoned his lieutenants, and asked them whether the tax was burthensome or not? When they told him it was moderate, he commanded them to pay half as much as was at first demanded. As he was opening a pomegranate, one asked him what it was of which he would wish for a number equal to the seeds thereof. He said, Of men like Zopyrus, — who was a loyal person and his friend. This Zopyrus, after he had maimed himself by cutting off his nose and ears, beguiled the Babylonians; and being trusted by them, he betrayed the city to Darius, who often said that he would not have had Zopyrus maimed to gain a hundred Babylons.


Semiramis built a monument for herself, with Edition: current; Page: [187] this inscription: Whatever king wants treasure, if he open this tomb, he may be satisfied. Darius therefore opening it found no treasure, but another inscription of this import: If thou wert not a wicked person and of insatiable covetousness, thou wouldst not disturb the mansions of the dead.


Arimenes came out of Bactria as a rival for the kingdom with his brother Xerxes, the son of Darius. Xerxes sent presents to him, commanding those that brought them to say: With these your brother Xerxes now honors you; and if he chance to be proclaimed king, you shall be the next person to himself in the kingdom. When Xerxes was declared king, Arimenes immediately did him homage and placed the crown upon his head; and Xerxes gave him the next place to himself. Being offended with the Babylonians, who rebelled, and having overcome them, he forbade them weapons, but commanded they should practise singing and playing on the flute, keep brothel-houses and taverns, and wear loose coats. He refused to eat Attic figs that were brought to be sold, until he had conquered the country that produced them. When he caught some Grecian scouts in his camp, he did them no harm, but having allowed them to view his army as much as they pleased, he let them go.


Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, surnamed Longimanus (or Long-hand) because he had one hand longer than the other, said, it was more princely to add than to take away. He first gave leave to those that hunted with him, if they would and saw occasion, to throw their darts before him. He also first ordained that punishment for his nobles who had offended, that they should be stripped and their garments scourged instead of their bodies; and whereas their hair should have been plucked out, that the same should be done to their turbans. When Satibarzanes, his chamberlain, petitioned him in an unjust matter, and he understood he did it to gain thirty thousand pieces Edition: current; Page: [188] of money, he ordered his treasurer to bring the said sum, and gave them to him, saying: O Satibarzanes! take it; for when I have given you this, I shall not be poorer, but I had been more unjust if I had granted your petition.

Cyrus the Younger.

Cyrus the Younger, when he was exhorting the Lacedaemonians to side with him in the war, said that he had a stronger heart than his brother, and could drink more wine unmixed than he, and bear it better; that his brother, when he hunted, could scarce sit his horse, or when ill news arrived, his throne. He exhorted them to send him men, promising he would give horses to footmen, chariots to horsemen, villages to those that had farms, and those that possessed villages he would make lords of cities; and that he would give them gold and silver, not by tale but by weight.

Artaxerxes Mnemon.

Artaxerxes, the brother of Cyrus the Younger, called Mnemon, did not only give very free and patient access to any that would speak with him, but commanded the queen his wife to draw the curtains of her chariot, that petitioners might have the same access to her also. When a poor man presented him with a very fair and great apple, By the Sun, said he, ’tis my opinion, if this person were entrusted with a small city, he would make it great. In his flight, when his carriages were plundered, and he was forced to eat dry figs and barley-bread, Of how great pleasure, said he, have I hitherto lived ignorant!


Parysatis, the mother of Cyrus and Artaxerxes, advised him that would discourse freely with the king, to use words of fine linen.


Orontes, the son-in-law of King Artaxerxes, falling into disgrace and being condemned, said: As arithmeticians count sometimes myriads on their fingers, sometimes units only; in like manner the favorites of kings sometimes can do every thing with them, sometimes little or nothing.

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Memnon, one of King Darius’s generals against Alexander, when a mercenary soldier excessively and impudently reviled Alexander, struck him with his spear, adding, I pay you to fight against Alexander, not to reproach him.

Egyptian Kings.

The Egyptian kings, according unto their law, used to swear their judges that they should not obey the king when he commanded them to give an unjust sentence.


Poltys king of Thrace, in the Trojan war, being solicited both by the Trojan and Grecian ambassadors, advised Alexander to restore Helen, promising to give him two beautiful women for her.


Teres, the father of Sitalces, said, when he was out of the army and had nothing to do, he thought there was no difference between him and his grooms.


Cotys, when one gave him a leopard, gave him a lion for it. He was naturally prone to anger, and severely punished the miscarriages of his servants. When a stranger brought him some earthen vessels, thin and brittle, but delicately shaped and admirably adorned with sculptures, he requited the stranger for them, and then brake them all in pieces, Lest (said he) my passion should provoke me to punish excessively those that brake them.


Idathyrsus, King of Scythia, when Darius invaded him, solicited the Ionian tyrants that they would assert their liberty by breaking down the bridge that was made over the Danube: which they refusing to do because they had sworn fealty to Darius, he called them good, honest, lazy slaves.


Ateas wrote to Philip: You reign over the Macedonians, men that have learned fighting; and I over the Scythians, which can fight with hunger and thirst. As he was rubbing his horse, turning to the ambassadors of Philip, he asked whether Philip did so or not. He took prisoner Edition: current; Page: [190] Ismenias, an excellent piper, and commanded him to play; and when others admired him, he swore it was more pleasant to hear a horse neigh.


Scilurus on his death-bed, being about to leave fourscore sons surviving, offered a bundle of darts to each of them, and bade them break them. When all refused, drawing out one by one, he easily broke them; thus teaching them that, if they held together, they would continue strong, but if they fell out and were divided, they would become weak.


Gelo the tyrant, after he had overcome the Carthaginians at Himera, made peace with them, and among other articles compelled them to subscribe this, — that they should no more sacrifice their children to Saturn. He often marched the Syracusans out to plant their fields, as if it had been to war, that the country might be improved by husbandry, and they might not be corrupted by idleness. When he demanded a sum of money of the citizens, and thereupon a tumult was raised, he told them he would but borrow it; and after the war was ended, he restored it to them again. At a feast, when a harp was offered, and others one after another tuned it and played upon it, he sent for his horse, and with an easy agility leaped upon him.


Hiero, who succeeded Gelo in the tyranny, said he was not disturbed by any that freely spoke against him. He judged that those that revealed a secret did an injury to those to whom they revealed it; for we hate not only those who tell, but them also that hear what we would not have disclosed. One upbraided him with his stinking breath, and he blamed his wife that never told him of it; but she said, I thought all men smelt so. To Xenophanes the Colophonian, who said he had much ado to maintain two servants, he replied: But Homer, whom you disparage, maintains above ten thousand, although he is dead. He Edition: current; Page: [191] fined Epicharmus the comedian, for speaking unseemly when his wife was by.


Dionysius the Elder, when the public orators cast lots to know in what order they should speak, drew as his lot the letter M. And when one said to him, Μωϱολογεῖς, You will make a foolish speech, O Dionysius, You are mistaken, said he, Μοναϱχήσω, I shall be a monarch. And as soon as his speech was ended, the Syracusans chose him general. In the beginning of his tyranny, the citizens rebelled and besieged him; and his friends advised him to resign the government, rather than to be taken and slain by them. But he, seeing a cook butcher an ox and the ox immediately fall down dead, said to his friends: Is it not a hateful thing, that for fear of so short a death we should resign so great a government? When his son, whom he intended to make his successor in the government, had been detected in debauching a freeman’s wife, he asked him in anger, When did you ever know me guilty of such a crime? But you, sir, replied the son, had not a tyrant for your father. Nor will you, said he, have a tyrant for your son, unless you mend your manners. And another time, going into his son’s house and seeing there abundance of silver and gold plate, he cried out: Thou art not capable of being a tyrant, who hast made never a friend with all the plate I have given thee. When he exacted money of the Syracusans, and they lamenting and beseeching him pretended they had none, he still exacted more, twice or thrice renewing his demands, until he heard them laugh and jeer at him as they went to and fro in the market-place, and then he gave over. Now, said he, since they contemn me, it is a sign they have nothing left. When his mother, being ancient, requested him to find a husband for her, I can, said he, overpower the laws of the city, but I cannot force the laws of Nature. Although he punished other malefactors severely, he favored such as stole clothes, that Edition: current; Page: [192] the Syracusans might forbear feasting and drunken clubs. A certain person told him privately, he could show him a way how he might know beforehand such as conspired against him. Let us know, said he, going aside. Give me, said the person, a talent, that everybody may believe that I have taught you the signs and tokens of plotters; and he gave it him, pretending he had learned them, much admiring the subtilty of the man. Being asked whether he was at leisure, he replied: God forbid that it should ever befall me. Hearing that two young men very much reviled him and his tyranny in their cups, he invited both of them to supper; and perceiving that one of them prattled freely and foolishly, but the other drank warily and sparing, he dismissed the first as a drunken fellow whose treason lay no deeper than his wine, and put the other to death as a disaffected and resolved traitor. Some blaming him for rewarding and preferring a wicked man, and one hated by the citizens; I would have, said he, somebody hated more than myself. When he gave presents to the ambassadors of Corinth, and they refused them because their law forbade them to receive gifts from a prince to whom they were sent in embassy, he said they did very ill to destroy the only advantage of tyranny, and to declare that it was dangerous to receive a kindness from a tyrant. Hearing that a citizen had buried a quantity of gold in his house, he sent for it; and when the party removed to another city, and bought a farm with part of his treasure which he had concealed, Dionysius sent for him and bade him take back the rest, since he had now begun to use his money, and was no longer making a useful thing useless.

Dionysius the Younger

said that he maintained many Sophists; not that he admired them, but that he might be admired for their sake. When Polyxenus the logician told him he had baffled him; Yes, said he, in words, but I have caught you in deeds; for you, leaving your own fortune, Edition: current; Page: [193] attend me and mine. When he was deposed from his government, and one asked him what he got by Plato and philosophy, he answered, That I may bear so great a change of fortune patiently. Being asked how it came to pass that his father, a private and poor man, obtained the government of Syracuse, and he already possessed of it, and the son of a tyrant, lost it, — My father, said he, entered upon affairs when the democracy was hated, but I, when tyranny was become odious. To another that asked him the same question, he replied: My father bequeathed to me his government, but not his fortune.


was the son of a potter. When he became lord and was proclaimed king of Sicily, he was wont to place earthen and golden vessels together, and show them to young men, telling them, Those I made first, but now I make these by my valor and industry. As he was besieging a city, some from the walls reviling him, saying, Do you hear, potter, where will you have money to pay your soldiers? — he gently answered, I’ll tell you, if I take this city. And having taken it by storm, he sold the prisoners, telling them, If you reproach me again, I will complain to your masters. Some inhabitants of Ithaca complained of his mariners, that making a descent on the island they had taken away some cattle; But your king, said he, came to Sicily, and did not only take away sheep, but put out the shepherd’s eyes, and went his way.


Dion, that deposed Dionysius from the tyranny, when he heard Callippus, whom of all his friends and attendants he trusted most, conspired against him, refused to question him for it, saying: It is better for him to die than to live, who must be weary not only of his enemies, but of his friends too.


Archelaus, when one of his companions (and none of the best) begged a golden cup of him, bade the boy give it Euripides; and when the man wondered Edition: current; Page: [194] at him, You, said he, are worthy to ask, but he is worthy to receive it without asking. A prating barber asked him how he would be trimmed. He answered, In silence. When Euripides at a banquet embraced fair Agatho and kissed him, although he was no longer beardless, he said, turning to his friends: Do not wonder at it, for the beauty of such as are handsome lasts after autumn.

Timotheus the harper, receiving of him a reward less than his expectation, twitted him for it not obscurely; and once singing the short verse of the chorus, You commend earth-born silver, directed it to him. And Archelaus answered him again singing, But you beg it. When one sprinkled water upon him, and his friends would have had him punish the man, You are mistaken, said he, he did not sprinkle me, but some other person whom he took me to be.


Theophrastus tells us that Philip, the father of Alexander, was not only greater in his port and success, but also freer from luxury than other kings of his time. He said the Athenians were happy, if they could find every year ten fit to be chosen generals, since in many years he could find but one fit to be a general, and that was Parmenio. When he had news brought him of divers and eminent successes in one day, O Fortune, said he, for all these so great kindnesses do me some small mischief. After he had conquered Greece, some advised him to place garrisons in the cities. No, said he, I had rather be called merciful a great while, than lord a little while. His friends advised him to banish a railer his court. I will not do it, said he, lest he should go about and rail in many places. Smicythus accused Nicanor for one that commonly spoke evil of King Philip; and his friends advised him to send for him and punish him. Truly, said he, Nicanor is not the worst of the Macedonians; we ought therefore to consider whether we have given him any cause or not. When he Edition: current; Page: [195] understood therefore that Nicanor, being slighted by the king, was much afflicted with poverty, he ordered a boon should be given him. And when Smicythus reported that Nicanor was continually abounding in the king’s praises, You see then, said he, that whether we will be well or ill spoken of is in our own power. He said he was beholden to the Athenian orators, who by reproaching him made him better both in speech and behavior; for I will endeavor, said he, both by my words and actions to prove them liars. Such Athenians as he took prisoners in the fight at Chaeronea he dismissed without ransom. When they also demanded their garments and quilts, and on that account accused the Macedonians, Philip laughed and said, Do ye not think these Athenians imagine we beat them at cockal? In a fight he broke his collar-bone, and the surgeon that had him in cure requested him daily for his reward. Take what you will, said he, for you have the key.* There were two brothers called Both and Either; perceiving Either was a good understanding busy fellow and Both a silly fellow and good for little, he said: Either is Both, and Both is Neither. To some that advised him to deal severely with the Athenians he said: You talk absurdly, who would persuade a man that suffers all things for the sake of glory, to overthrow the theatre of glory. Being arbitrator betwixt two wicked persons, he commanded one to fly out of Macedonia and the other to pursue him. Being about to pitch his camp in a likely place, and hearing there was no hay to be had for the cattle, What a life, said he, is ours, since we must live according to the convenience of asses! Designing to take a strong fort, which the scouts told him was exceeding difficult and impregnable, he asked whether it was so difficult that an ass could not come at it laden with gold. Lasthenes the Olynthian and his friends being aggrieved, and complaining that some of Philip’s retinue Edition: current; Page: [196] called them traitors, These Macedonians, said he, are a rude and clownish people, that call a spade a spade. He exhorted his son to behave himself courteously toward the Macedonians, and to acquire influence with the people, while he could be affable and gracious during the reign of another. He advised him also to make friends of men of interest in the cities, both good and bad, that afterwards he might make use of these, and suppress those. To Philo the Theban, who had been his host and given him entertainment while he remained an hostage at Thebes, and afterwards refused to accept any present from him, he said: Do not take from me the title of invincible, by making me inferior to you in kindness and bounty. Having taken many prisoners, he was selling them, sitting in an unseemly posture, with his tunic tucked up; when one of the captives to be sold cried out, Spare me, Philip, for our fathers were friends. When Philip asked him, Prithee, how or from whence? Let me come nearer, said he, and I’ll tell you. When he was come up to him, he said: Let down your cloak a little lower, for you sit indecently. Whereupon said Philip: Let him go, in truth he wisheth me well and is my friend, though I did not know him. Being invited to supper, he carried many he took up by the way along with him; and perceiving his host troubled (for his provision was not sufficient), he sent to each of his friends, and bade them reserve a place for the cake. They, believing and expecting it, ate little, and so the supper was enough for all. It appeared he grieved much at the death of Hipparchus the Euboean. For when somebody said it was time for him to die, — For himself, said he, but he died too soon for me, preventing me by his death from returning him the kindness his friendship deserved. Hearing that Alexander blamed him for having children by several women, Therefore, saith he to him, since you have many rivals with you for the kingdom, be just and honorable, that you may not receive the kingdom Edition: current; Page: [197] as my gift, but by your own merit. He charged him to be observant of Aristotle, and study philosophy, That you may not, said he, do many things which I now repent of doing. He made one of Antipater’s recommendation a judge; and perceiving afterwards that his hair and beard were colored, he removed him, saying, I could not think one that was faithless in his hair could be trusty in his deeds. As he sate judge in the cause of one Machaetas, he fell asleep, and for want of minding his arguments, gave judgment against him. And when being enraged he cried out, I appeal; To whom, said he, wilt thou appeal? To you yourself, O king, said he, when you are awake to hear me with attention. Then Philip rousing and coming to himself, and perceiving Machaetas was injured, although he did not reverse the sentence, he paid the fine himself. When Harpalus, in behalf of Crates his kinsman and intimate friend, who was charged with disgraceful crimes, begged that Crates might pay the fine and so cause the action to be withdrawn and avoid public disgrace; — It is better, said he, that he should be reproached upon his own account, than we for him. His friends being enraged because the Peloponnesians, to whom he had shown favor, hissed at him in the Olympic games, What then, said he, would they do if we should abuse them? Awaking after he had overslept himself in the army; I slept, said he, securely, for Antipater watched. Another time, being asleep in the day-time, while the Grecians fretting with impatience thronged at the gates; Do not wonder, said Parmenio to them, if Philip be now asleep, for while you slept he was awake. When he corrected a musician at a banquet, and discoursed with him concerning notes and instruments, the musician replied: Far be that dishonor from your majesty, that you should understand these things better than I do. While he was at variance with his wife Olympia and his son, Demaratus the Corinthian came to him, and Philip asked Edition: current; Page: [198] him how the Grecians held together. Demaratus replied: You had need to enquire how the Grecians agree, who agree so well with your nearest relations. Whereupon he let fall his anger, and was reconciled to them. A poor old woman petitioned and dunned him often to hear her cause; and he answered, I am not at leisure; the old woman bawled out, Do not reign then. He admired the speech, and immediately heard her and others.


While Alexander was a boy, Philip had great success in his affairs, at which he did not rejoice, but told the children that were brought up with him, My father will leave me nothing to do. The children answered, Your father gets all this for you. But what good, saith he, will it do me, if I possess much and do nothing? Being nimble and light-footed, his father encouraged him to run in the Olympic race; Yes, said he, if there were any kings there to run with me. A wench being brought to lie with him late in the evening, he asked why she tarried so long. She answered, I staid until my husband was abed; and he sharply reproved his pages, because through their carelessness he had almost committed adultery. As he was sacrificing to the Gods liberally, and often offered frankincense, Leonidas his tutor standing by said, O son, thus generously will you sacrifice, when you have conquered the country that bears frankincense. And when he had conquered it, he sent him this letter: I have sent you an hundred talents of frankincense and cassia, that hereafter you may not be niggardly towards the Gods, when you understand I have conquered the country in which perfumes grow. The night before he fought at the river Granicus, he exhorted the Macedonians to sup plentifully and to bring out all they had, as they were to sup the next day at the charge of their enemies. Perillus, one of his friends, begged of him portions for his daughters; and he ordered him to receive fifty talents. And when he said, Ten were enough, Edition: current; Page: [199] Alexander replied: Enough for you to receive, but not for me to give. He commanded his steward to give Anaxarchus the philosopher as much as he should ask for. He asketh, said the steward, for an hundred talents. He doth well, said he, knowing he hath a friend that both can and will bestow so much on him. Seeing at Miletus many statues of wrestlers that had overcome in the Olympic and Pythian games, And where, said he, were these lusty fellows when the barbarians assaulted your city? When Ada queen of Caria was ambitious often to send him sauces and sweetmeats delicately prepared by the best cooks and artists, he said, I have better confectioners of my own, viz., my night-travelling for my breakfast, and my spare breakfast for my dinner. All things being prepared for a fight, his captains asked him whether he had any thing else to command them. Nothing, said he, but that the Macedonians should shave their beards. Parmenio wondering at it, Do you not know, said he, there is no better hold in a fight than the beard? When Darius offered him ten thousand talents, and to divide Asia equally with him; I would accept it, said Parmenio, were I Alexander. And so truly would I, said Alexander, if I were Parmenio. But he answered Darius, that the earth could not bear two suns, nor Asia two kings. When he was going to fight for the world at Arbela, against ten hundred thousand enemies set in array against him, some of his friends came to him, and told him the discourse of the soldiers in their tents, who had agreed that nothing of the spoils should be brought into the treasury, but they would have all themselves. You tell me good news, said he, for I hear the discourse of men that intend to fight, and not to run away. Several of his soldiers came to him and said: O King! be of good courage, and fear not the multitude of your enemies, for they will not be able to endure the very stink of our sweat. The army being marshalled, he saw a soldier Edition: current; Page: [200] fitting his thong to his javelin, and dismissed him as a useless fellow, for fitting his weapons when he should use them. As he was reading a letter from his mother, containing secrets and accusations of Antipater, Hephaestion also (as he was wont) read it along with him. Alexander did not hinder him; but when the letter was read, he took his ring off his finger, and laid the seal of it upon Hephaestion’s mouth. Being saluted as the son of Jupiter in the temple of Ammon by the chief priest; It is no wonder, said he, for Jupiter is by nature the father of all, and calls the best men his sons. When he was wounded with an arrow in the ankle, and many ran to him that were wont to call him a God, he said smiling: That is blood, as you see, and not, as Homer saith, —

Such humor as distils from blessed Gods.*

To some that commended the frugality of Antipater, whose diet was sober and without luxury; Outwardly, said he, Antipater wears white clothes, but within he is all purple. In a cold winter day one of his friends invited him to a banquet, and there being a little fire on a small hearth, he bid him fetch either wood or frankincense. Antipatridas brought a beautiful singing woman to supper with him; Alexander, being taken with her visage, asked Antipatridas whether she was his miss or not. And when he confessed she was; O villain, said he, turn her immediately out from the banquet. Again, when Cassander forced a kiss from Pytho, a boy beloved by Evius the piper, and Alexander perceived that Evius was concerned at it, he was extremely enraged at Cassander, and said with a loud voice, It seems nobody must be loved if you can help it. When he sent such of the Macedonians as were sick and maimed to the sea, they showed him one that was in health and yet subscribed his name among the sick; being brought into Edition: current; Page: [201] the presence and examined, he confessed he used that pretence for the love of Telesippa, who was going to the sea. Alexander asked, of whom he could make inquiries about this Telesippa, and hearing she was a free woman, he said. Therefore, my Antigenes, let us persuade her to stay with us, for to force her to do so when she is a free woman is not according to my custom. Of the mercenary Grecians that fought against him he took many prisoners. He commanded the Athenians should be kept in chains, because they served for wages when they were allowed a public maintenance; and the Thessalians, because when they had a fruitful country they did not till it; but he set the Thebans free, saying, To them only I have left neither city nor country. He took captive an excellent Indian archer that said he could shoot an arrow through a ring, and commanded him to show his skill; and when the man refused to do this, he commanded him in a rage to be put to death. The man told them that led him to execution that, not having practised for many days, he was afraid he should miss. Alexander, hearing this, wondered at him and dismissed him with rewards, because he chose rather to die than show himself unworthy of his reputation. Taxiles, one of the Indian kings, met Alexander, and advised him not to make war nor fight with him, but if he were a meaner person than himself, to receive kindness from him, or if he were a better man, to show kindness to him. He answered, that was the very thing they must fight for, who should exceed the other in bounty. When he heard the rock called Aornus in India was by its situation impregnable, but the commander of it was a coward; Then, said he, the place is easy to be taken. Another, commanding a rock thought to be invincible, surrendered himself and the rock to Alexander, who committed the said rock and the adjacent country to his government, saying: I take this for a wise man, who chose rather to commit himself to a Edition: current; Page: [202] good man than to a strong place. When the rock was taken, his friends said that it exceeded the deeds of Hercules. But I, said he, do not think my actions and all my empire to be compared with one word of Hercules. He fined some of his friends whom he caught playing at dice in earnest. Of his chief and most powerful friends, he seemed most to respect Craterus, and to love Hephaestion. Craterus, said he, is the friend of the king; but Hephaestion is the friend of Alexander. He sent fifty talents to Xenocrates the philosopher, who would not receive them, saying he was not in want. And he asked whether Xenocrates had no friend either; For as to myself, said he, the treasure of Darius is hardly sufficient for me to bestow among my friends. He demanded of Porus, after the fight, how he should treat him. Royally, said he, like a king. And being again asked, what farther he had to request; All things, said he, are in that word royally. Admiring his wisdom and valor, he gave him a greater government than he had before. Being told a certain person reviled him, To do good, said he, and to be evil spoken of is kingly. As he was dying, looking upon his friends, I see, said he, my funeral tournament will be great. When he was dead, Demades the rhetorician likened the Macedonian army without a general to Polyphemus the Cyclops when his eye was put out.


Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, frequently supped with his friends and lay at their houses; and if at any time he invited them to supper, he made use of their furniture, sending for vessels, carpets, and tables; for he himself had only things that were of constant use about him, saying it was more becoming a king to make others rich than to be rich himself.


Antigonus exacted money severely. When one told him that Alexander did not do so, It may be so, said he; Alexander reaped Asia, and I but glean after him. Edition: current; Page: [203] Seeing some soldiers playing at ball in head-pieces and breast-plates, he was pleased, and sent for their officers, intending to commend them; but when he heard the officers were drinking, he bestowed their commands on the soldiers. When all men wondered that in his old age his government was mild and easy; Formerly, said he, I sought for power, but now for glory and good-will. To Philip his son, who asked him in the presence of many when the army would march, What, said he, are you afraid that you only should not hear the trumpet? The same young man being desirous to quarter at a widow’s house that had three handsome daughters, Antigonus called the quartermaster to him: Prithee, said he, help my son out of these straits. Recovering from a slight disease, he said: No harm; this distemper puts me in mind not to aim at great things, since we are mortal. Hermodotus in his poems called him Son of the Sun. He that attends my close-stool, said he, sings me no such song. When one said, All things in kings are just and honorable, — Indeed, said he, for barbarian kings; but for us only honorable things are honorable, and only just things are just. Marsyas his brother had a cause depending, and requested him it might be examined at his house. Nay, said he, it shall be heard in the judgment-hall, that all may hear whether we do exact justice or not. In the winter being forced to pitch his camp where necessaries were scarce, some of his soldiers reproached him, not knowing he was near. He opened the tent with his cane, saying: Woe be to you, unless you get you farther off when you revile me. Aristodemus, one of his friends, supposed to be a cook’s son, advised him to moderate his gifts and expenses. Thy words, said he, Aristodemus, smell of the apron. The Athenians, out of a respect to him, gave one of his servants the freedom of their city. And I would not, said he, have any Athenian whipped by my command. A youth, scholar to Anaximenes the rhetorician, Edition: current; Page: [204] spoke in his presence a prepared and studied speech; and he asking something which he desired to learn, the youth was silent. What do you say, said he, is all that you have said written in your table-book? When he heard another rhetorician say, The snow-spread season makes the country fodder spent; Will you not stop, said he, prating to me as you do to the rabble? Thrasyllus the Cynic begged a drachm of him. That, said he, is too little for a king to give. Why then, said the other, give me a talent. And that, said he, is too much for a Cynic (or for a dog) to receive. Sending his son Demetrius with ships and land-forces to make Greece free; Glory, said he, from Greece, as from a watch-tower, will shine throughout the world. Antagoras the poet was boiling a conger, and Antigonus, coming behind him as he was stirring his skillet, said: Do you think, Antagoras, that Homer boiled congers, when he wrote the deeds of Agamemnon? Antagoras replied: Do you think, O King, that Agamemnon, when he did such exploits, was a peeping in his army to see who boiled congers? After he had seen in a dream Mithridates mowing a golden harvest, he designed to kill him, and acquainted Demetrius his son with his design, making him swear to conceal it. But Demetrius, taking Mithridates aside and walking with him by the seaside, with the pick of his spear wrote on the shore, “Fly, Mithridates;” which he understanding, fled into Pontus, and there reigned until his death.


Demetrius, while he was besieging Rhodes, found in one of the suburbs the picture of Ialysus made by Protogenes the painter. The Rhodians sent a herald to him, beseeching him not to deface the picture. I will sooner, said he, deface my father’s statues, than such a picture. When he made a league with the Rhodians, he left behind him an engine, called the City Taker, that it might be a memorial of his magnificence and of their courage. Edition: current; Page: [205] When the Athenians rebelled, and he took the city, which had been distressed for want of provision, he called an assembly and gave them corn. And while he made a speech to them concerning that affair, he spoke improperly; and when one that sat by told him how the word ought to be spoken, he said: For this correction I bestow upon you five thousand bushels more.

Antigonus the Second.

Antigonus the Second — when his father was a prisoner, and sent one of his friends to admonish him to pay no regard to any thing that he might write at the constraint of Seleucus, and to enter into no obligation to surrender up the cities — wrote to Seleucus that he would give up his whole kingdom, and himself for an hostage, that his father might be set free. Being about to fight by sea with the lieutenants of Ptolemy, and the pilot telling him the enemy outnumbered him in ships, he said: But how many ships do you reckon my presence to be worth? Once when he gave ground, his enemies pressing upon him, he denied that he fled; but he betook himself (as he said) to an advantage that lay behind him. To a youth, son of a valiant father, but himself no very great soldier, petitioning he might receive his father’s pay; Young man, said he, I pay and reward men for their own, not for their fathers’ valor. When Zeno of Citium, whom he admired beyond all philosophers, died, he said, The theatre of my actions is fallen.


Lysimachus, when he was overcome by Dromichaetas in Thrace and constrained by thirst, surrendered himself and his army. When he was a prisoner, and had drunk; O Gods, said he, for how small a satisfaction have I made myself a slave from a king! To Philippides the comedian, his friend and companion, he said: What have I that I may impart to you? He answered, What you please, except your secrets.


Antipater, hearing that Parmenio was slain Edition: current; Page: [206] by Alexander, said: If Parmenio conspired against Alexander, whom may we trust? but if he did not, what is to be done? Of Demandes the rhetorician, now grown old, he said: As of sacrifices when finished, so there is nothing left of him but his belly and tongue.

Antiochus the Third.

Antiochus the Third wrote to the cities, that if he should at any time write for any thing to be done contrary to the law, they should not obey, but suppose it to be done out of ignorance. When he saw the Priestess of Diana, that she was exceeding beautiful, he presently removed from Ephesus, lest he should be swayed, contrary to his judgment, to commit some unholy act.

Antiochus Hierax.

Antiochus, surnamed the Hawk, warred with his brother Seleucus for the kingdom. After Seleucus was overcome by the Galatians, and was not to be heard of, but supposed to be slain in the fight, he laid aside his purple and went into mourning. A while after, hearing his brother was safe, he sacrificed to the Gods for the good news, and caused the cities under his dominion to put on garlands.


Eumenes was thought to be slain by a conspiracy of Perseus. That report being brought to Pergamus, Attalus his brother put on the crown, married his wife, and took upon him the kingdom. Hearing afterwards his brother was alive and upon the way, he met him, as he used to do, with his life-guard, and a spear in his hand. Eumenes embraced him kindly, and whispered in his ear: —

  • If a widow you will wed,
  • Wait till you’re sure her husband’s dead.*

But he never afterwards did or spake any thing that showed any suspicion all his lifetime; but when he died, be bequeathed to him his queen and kingdom. In requital of Edition: current; Page: [207] which, his brother bred up none of his own children, although he had many; but when the son of Eumenes was grown up, he bestowed the kingdom on him in his own lifetime.

Pyrrhus the Epirot.

Pyrrhus was asked by his sons, when they were boys, to whom he would leave the kingdom. To him of you, saith he, that hath the sharpest sword. Being asked whether Pytho or Caphisius was the better piper, Polysperchon, said he, is the best general. He joined in battle with the Romans, and twice overcame them, but with the loss of many friends and captains. If I should overcome the Romans, said he, in another fight, I were undone. Not being able to keep Sicily (as he said) from them, turning to his friends he said: What a fine wrestling ring do we leave to the Romans and Carthaginians! His soldiers called him Eagle; And I may deserve the title, said he, while I am borne upon the wings of your arms. Hearing some young men had spoken many reproachful words of him in their drink, he summoned them all to appear before him next day; when they appeared, ne asked the foremost whether they spake such things of him or not. The young man answered: Such words were spoken, O King, and more we had spoken, if we had had more wine.


Antiochus, who twice made an inroad into Parthia, as he was once a hunting, lost his friends and servants in the pursuit, and went into a cottage of poor people who did not know him. As they were at supper, he threw out discourse concerning the king; they said for the most part he was a good prince, but overlooked many things he left to the management of debauched courtiers, and out of love of hunting often neglected his necessary affairs; and there they stopped. At break of day the guard arrived at the cottage, and the king was recognized when the crown and purple robes were brought. From the day, said he, Edition: current; Page: [208] on which I first received these, I never heard truth concerning myself till yesterday. When he besieged Jerusalem, the Jews, in respect of their great festival, begged of him seven days’ truce; which he not only granted, but preparing oxen with gilded horns, with a great quantity of incense and perfumes, he went before them to the very gates, and having delivered them as a sacrifice to their priests, he returned back to his army. The Jews wondered at him, and as soon as their festival was finished, surrendered themselves to him.


Themistocles in his youth was much given to wine and women. But after Miltiades the general overcame the Persian at Marathon, Themistocles utterly forsook his former disorders; and to such as wondered at the change, he said, The trophy of Miltiades will neither suffer me to sleep nor to be idle. Being asked whether he would rather be Achilles or Homer, — And pray, said he, which would you rather be, a conqueror in the Olympic games, or the crier that proclaims who are conquerors? When Xerxes with that great navy made a descent upon Greece, he fearing, if Epicydes (a popular, but a covetous, corrupt, and cowardly person) were made general, the city might be lost, bribed him with a sum of money to desist from that pretence. Adimantus was afraid to hazard a sea-fight, whereunto Themistocles persuaded and encouraged the Grecians. O Themistocles, said he, those that start before their time in the Olympic games are always scourged. Aye; but, Adimantus, said the other, they that are left behind are not crowned. Eurybiades lifted up his cane at him, as if he would strike him. Strike, said he, but hear me. When he could not persuade Eurybiades to fight in the straits of the sea, he sent privately to Xerxes, advising him that he need not fear the Grecians, for they were running away. Xerxes upon this persuasion, fighting in a place advantageous for Edition: current; Page: [209] the Grecians, was worsted; and then he sent him another message, and bade him fly with all speed over the Hellespont, for the Grecians designed to break down his bridge; that under pretence of saving him he might secure the Grecians. A man from the little island Seriphus told him, he was famous not upon his own account but through the city where he lived. You say true, said he, for if I had been a Seriphian, I had not been famous; nor would you, if you had been an Athenian. To Antiphatus, a beautiful person that avoided and despised Themistocles when he formerly loved him, but came to him and flattered him when he was in great power and esteem; Hark you, lad, said he, though late, yet both of us are wise at last. To Simonides desiring him to give an unjust sentence, You would not be a good poet, said he, if you should sing out of tune; nor I a good governor, if I should give judgment contrary to law. When his son was a little saucy towards his mother, he said that this boy had more power than all the Grecians, for the Athenians governed Greece, he the Athenians, his wife him, and his son his wife. He preferred an honest man that wooed his daughter, before a rich man. I would rather, said he, have a man that wants money, than money that wants a man. Having a farm to sell, he bid the crier proclaim also that it had a good neighbor. When the Athenians reviled him; Why do you complain, said he, that the same persons so often befriend you? And he compared himself to a row of plane-trees, under which in a storm passengers run for shelter, but in fair weather they pluck the leaves off and abuse them. Scoffing at the Eretrians, he said, Like the sword-fish, they have a sword indeed, but no heart. Being banished first out of Athens and afterwards out of Greece, he betook himself to the king of Persia, who bade him speak his mind. Speech, he said, was like to tapestry; and like it, when it was spread, it showed its figures, but when Edition: current; Page: [210] it was folded up, hid and spoiled them. And therefore he requested time until he might learn the Persian tongue, and could explain himself without an interpreter. Having there received great presents, and being enriched of a sudden; O lads, said he to his sons, we had been undone if we had not been undone.


Myronides summoned the Athenians to fight against the Boeotians. When the time was almost come, and the captains told him they were not near all come out; They are come, said he, all that intend to fight. And marching while their spirits were up, he overcame his enemies.


Aristides the Just always managed his offices himself, and avoided all political clubs, because power gotten by the assistance of friends was an encouragement to the unjust. When the Athenians were fully bent to banish him by an ostracism, an illiterate country fellow came to him with his shell, and asked him to write in it the name of Aristides. Friend, said he, do you know Aristides? Not I, said the fellow, but I do not like his surname of Just. He said no more, but wrote his name in the shell and gave it him. He was at variance with Themistocles, who was sent on an embassy with him. Are you content, said he, Themistocles, to leave our enmity at the borders? and if you please, we will take it up again at our return. When he levied an assessment upon the Greeks, he returned poorer by so much as he spent in the journey.

Aeschylus wrote these verses on Amphiaraus: —

  • His shield no emblem bears; his generous soul
  • Wishes to be, not to appear, the best;
  • While the deep furrows of his noble mind
  • Harvests of wise and prudent counsel bear.*
Edition: current; Page: [211]

And when they were pronounced in the theatre, all turned their eyes upon Aristides.


Whenever he entered on his command as general, while he was putting on his war-cloak, he used thus to bespeak himself: Remember, Pericles, you govern freemen, Grecians, Athenians. He advised the Athenians to demolish Aegina, as a dangerous eyesore to the haven of Piraeus. To a friend that wanted him to bear false witness and to bind the same with an oath, he said: I am a friend only as far as the altar. When he lay on his deathbed, he blessed himself that no Athenian ever went into mourning upon his account.


Alcibiades while he was a boy, wrestling in a ring, seeing he could not break his adversary’s hold, bit him by the hand; who cried out, You bite like a woman. Not so, said he, but like a lion. He had a very handsome dog, that cost him seven thousand drachmas; and he cut off his tail, that, said he, the Athenians may have this story to tell of me, and may concern themselves no farther with me. Coming into a school, he called for Homer’s Iliads; and when the master told him he had none of Homer’s works, he gave him a box on the ear, and went his way. He came to Pericles’s gate, and being told he was busy a preparing his accounts to be given to the people of Athens, Had he not better, said he, contrive how he might give no account at all? Being summoned by the Athenians out of Sicily to plead for his life, he absconded, saying, that criminal was a fool who studied a defence when he might fly for it. But, said one, will you not trust your country with your cause? No, said he, nor my mother either, lest she mistake and cast a black pebble Edition: current; Page: [212] instead of a white one. When he heard death was decreed to him and his associates, Let us convince them, said he, that we are alive. And passing over to Lacedaemon, he stirred up the Decelean war against the Athenians.


Lamachus chid a captain for a fault; and when he had said he would do so no more, Sir, said he, in war there is no room for a second miscarriage.


Iphicrates was despised because he was thought to be a shoemaker’s son. The exploit that first brought him into repute was this: when he was wounded himself, he caught up one of the enemies and carried him alive and in his armor to his own ship. He once pitched his camp in a country belonging to his allies and confederates, and yet he fortified it exactly with a trench and bulwark. Said one to him, What are ye afraid of? Of all speeches, said he, none is so dishonorable for a general, as I should not have thought it. As he marshalled his army to fight with barbarians, I am afraid, said he, they do not know Iphicrates, for his very name used to strike terror into other enemies. Being accused of a capital crime, he said to the informer: O fellow! what art thou doing, who, when war is at hand, dost advise the city to consult concerning me, and not with me? To Harmodius, descended from the ancient Harmodius, when he reviled him for his mean birth, My nobility, said he, begins in me, but yours ends in you. A rhetorician asked him in an assembly, who he was that he took so much upon him, — horseman, or footman, or archer, or shield-bearer. Neither of them, said he, but one that understands how to command all those.


Timotheus was reputed a successful general, and some that envied him painted cities falling under his net of their own accord, while he was asleep. Said Timotheus, If I take such cities when I am asleep, what do you think I shall do when I am awake? A confident Edition: current; Page: [213] commander showed the Athenians a wound he had received. But I, said he, when I was your general in Samos, was ashamed that a dart from an engine fell near me. The orators set up Chares as one they thought fit to be general of the Athenians. Not to be general, said Timotheus, but to carry the general’s baggage.


Chabrias said, they were the best commanders who best understood the affairs of their enemies. He was once indicted for treason with Iphicrates, who blamed him for exposing himself to danger, by going to the place of exercise, and dining at his usual hour. If the Athenians, said he, deal severely with us, you will die all foul and gut-foundered; I’ll die clean and anointed, with my dinner in my belly. He was wont to say, that an army of stags, with a lion for their commander, was more formidable than an army of lions led by a stag.


When Hegesippus, surnamed Crobylus (i.e. Top-knot), instigated the Athenians against Philip, one of the assembly cried out, You would not persuade us to a war? Yes, indeed, would I, said he, and to mourning clothes and to public funerals and to funeral speeches, if we intend to live free and not submit to the pleasure of the Macedonians.


Pytheas, when he was a young man, stood forth to oppose the decrees made concerning Alexander. One said: Have you, young man, the confidence to speak in such weighty affairs? And why not? said he: Alexander, whom you voted a God, is younger than I am.


Phocion the Athenian was never seen to laugh or cry. In an assembly one told him, You seem to be thoughtful, Phocion. You guess right, said he, for I am contriving how to contract what I have to say to the people of Athens. The Oracle told the Athenians, there was one man in the city of a contrary judgment to all the rest; and the Athenians in a hubbub ordered search to be Edition: current; Page: [214] made, who this should be. I, said Phocion, am the man; I alone am pleased with nothing the common people say or do. Once when he had delivered an opinion which pleased the people, and perceived it was entertained by a general consent, he turned to his friend, and said: Have I not unawares spoken some mischievous thing or other? The Athenians gathered a benevolence for a certain sacrifice; and when others contributed to it, he being often spoken to said: I should be ashamed to give to you, and not to pay this man, — pointing to one of his creditors. Demosthenes the orator told him, If the Athenians should be mad, they would kill you. Like enough, said he, me if they were mad, but you if they were wise. Aristogiton the informer, being condemned and ready to be executed in prison, entreated that Phocion would come to him. And when his friends would not suffer him to go to so vile a person; And where, said he, would you discourse with Aristogiton more pleasantly? The Athenians were offended with the Byzantines, for refusing to receive Chares into their city, who was sent with forces to assist them against Philip. Said Phocion, You ought not to be displeased with the distrust of your confederates, but with your commanders that are not to be trusted. Whereupon he was chosen general, and being trusted by the Byzantines, he forced Philip to return without his errand. King Alexander sent him a present of a hundred talents; and he asked those that brought it, what it should mean that, of all the Athenians, Alexander should be thus kind to him. They answered, because he esteemed him alone to be a worthy and upright person. Pray therefore, said he, let him suffer me to seem as well as to be so. Alexander sent to them for some ships, and the people calling for Phocion by name, bade him speak his opinion. He stood up and told them: I advise you either to conquer yourselves, or else to side with the conqueror. An uncertain Edition: current; Page: [215] rumor happened, that Alexander was dead. Immediately the orators leaped into the pulpit, and advised them to make war without delay; but Phocion entreated them to tarry awhile and know the certainty: For, said he, if he is dead to-day, he will be dead to-morrow, and so forwards. Leosthenes hurried the city into a war, with fond hopes conceited at the name of liberty and command. Phocion compared his speeches to cypress-trees; They are tall, said he, and comely, but bear no fruit. However, the first attempts were successful; and when the city was sacrificing for the good news, he was asked whether he did not wish he had done this himself. I would, said he, have done what has been done, but have advised what I did. When the Macedonians invaded Attica and plundered the seacoasts, he drew out the youth. When many came to him and generally persuaded him by all means to possess himself of such an ascent, and thereon to marshal his army, O Hercules! said he, how many commanders do I see, and how few soldiers? Yet he fought and overcame, and slew Nicion, the commander of the Macedonians. But in a short time the Athenians were overcome, and admitted a garrison sent by Antipater. Menyllus, the governor of that garrison, offered money to Phocion, who was enraged thereby and said: This man is no better than Alexander; and what I refused then I can with less honor receive now. Antipater said, of the two friends he had at Athens, he could never persuade Phocion to accept a present, nor could he ever satisfy Demades with presents. When Antipater requested him to do some indirect thing or other, Antipater, said he, you cannot have Phocion for your friend and flatterer too. After the death of Antipater, democracy was established in Athens, and the assembly decreed the death of Phocion and his friends. The rest were led weeping to execution; but as Phocion passed silently, one of his enemies met him and spat in his face. Edition: current; Page: [216] But he turned himself to the magistrates, and said, Will nobody restrain this insolent fellow? One of those that were to suffer with him lamented and took on: Why, Euippus, said he, are you not pleased that you die with Phocion? When the cup of hemlock was brought to him, being asked whether he had any thing to say to his son; I command you, said he, and entreat you not to think of any revenge upon the Athenians.


Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, when some of his party revolted from him and possessed themselves of Phyle, came to them bearing his baggage on his back. They asked him what he meant by it. Either, said he, to persuade you to return with me, or if I cannot persuade you, to tarry with you; and therefore I come prepared accordingly. An accusation was brought to him against his mother, that she was in love and used secret familiarity with a young man, who out of fear for the most part refused her. This young man he invited to supper, and as they were at supper asked him how he liked his entertainment. He answered, Very well. Thus, said he, you shall be treated daily, if you please my mother. Thrasybulus was in love with his daughter, and as he met her, kissed her; whereupon his wife would have incensed him against Thrasybulus. If, said he, we hate those that love us, what shall we do to them that hate us? — and he gave the maid in marriage to Thrasybulus. Some lascivious drunken persons by chance met his wife, and used unseemly speech and behavior to her; but the next day they begged his pardon with tears. As for you, said he, learn to be sober for the future; but as for my wife, yesterday she was not abroad at all. He designed to marry another wife, and his children asked him whether he could blame them for any thing. By no means, said he, but I commend you, and desire to have more such children as you are.

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Demetrius Phalereus.

Demetrius Phalereus persuaded King Ptolemy to get and study such books as treated of government and conduct; for those things are written in books which the friends of kings dare not advise.


Lycurgus the Lacedaemonian brought long hair into fashion among his countrymen, saying that it rendered those that were handsome more beautiful, and those that were deformed more terrible. To one that advised him to set up a democracy in Sparta, Pray, said he, do you first set up a democracy in your own house. He ordained that houses should be built with saws and axes only, thinking they would be ashamed to bring plate, tapestry, and costly tables into such pitiful houses. He forbade them to contend at boxing or in the double contest of boxing and wrestling, that they might not accustom themselves to be conquered, no, not so much as in jest. He forbade them also to war often against the same people, lest they should make them the more warlike. Accordingly, many years after, when Agesilaus was wounded, Antalcidas told him the Thebans had rewarded him worthily for teaching and accustoming them to war, whether they would or no.


King Charillus, being asked why Lycurgus made so few laws, answered, They who use few words do not need many laws. When one of the Helots behaved rather too insolently towards him, By Castor and Pollux, said he, I would kill you, were I not angry. To one that asked him why the Spartans wore long hair, Because, said he, of all ornaments that is the cheapest.


King Teleclus, when his brother inveighed against the citizens for not giving him that respect which they did to the king, said to him, No wonder, you do not know how to bear injury.


Theopompus, to one that showed him the walls of a city, and asked him if they were not high and Edition: current; Page: [218] beautiful, answered, No, not even if they are built for women.


Archidamus, in the Peloponnesian war, when his allies requested him to appoint them their quota of tributes, replied, War has a very irregular appetite.


Brasidas caught a mouse among his dried figs, which bit him, and he let it go. Whereupon, turning to the company, Nothing, said he, is so small which may not save itself, if it have the valor to defend itself against its aggressors. In a fight he was shot through his shield, and plucking the spear out of his wound, with the same he slew his adversary. When he was asked how he came to be wounded, My shield, said he, betrayed me. It was his fortune to be slain in battle, as he endeavored to liberate the Grecians that were in Thrace. These sent an embassy to Lacedaemon, which made a visit to his mother, who first asked them whether Brasidas died honorably. When the Thracians praised him, and affirmed that there would never be such another man, My friends, said she, you are mistaken; Brasidas indeed was a valiant man, but Lacedaemon hath many more valiant men than he.


King Agis said, The Lacedaemonians are not wont to ask how many, but where the enemy are. At Mantinea he was advised not to fight the enemy that exceeded him in number. It is necessary, said he, for him to fight with many, who would rule over many. The Eleans were commended for managing the Olympic games honorably. What wonder, said he, do they do, if one day in four years they do justice? When the same persons enlarged in their commendation, What wonder is it, said he, if they use justice honorably, which is an honorable thing? To a lewd person, that often asked who was the best man among the Spartans, he answered, He that is most unlike you. When another asked what was the number of the Lacedaemonians, — Sufficient, said he, to defend themselves from Edition: current; Page: [219] wicked men. To another that asked him the same question, If you should see them fight, said he, you would think them to be many.


Dionysius the Tyrant presented Lysander’s daughters with rich garments, which he refused to accept, saying he feared they would seem more deformed in them. To such as blamed him for managing much of his affairs by stratagems, which was unworthy of Hercules from whom he was descended, he answered, Where the lion’s skin will not reach, it must be pieced with the fox’s. When the citizens of Argos seemed to make out a better title than the Lacedaemonians to a country that was in dispute between them, drawing his sword, He that is master of this, said he, can best dispute about bounds of countries. When the Lacedaemonians delayed to assault the walls of Corinth, and he saw a hare leap out of the trench; Do you fear, said he, such enemies as these, whose laziness suffers hares to sleep on their walls? To an inhabitant of Megara, that in a parley spoke confidently unto him, Your words, said he, want the breeding of the city.


Agesilaus said that the inhabitants of Asia were bad freemen and good servants. When they were wont to call the king of Persia the Great King, Wherein, said he, is he greater than I, if he is not more just and wise than I am? Being asked which was better, valor or justice, he answered, We should have no need of valor, if we were all just. When he broke up his camp suddenly by night in the enemy’s country, and saw a lad he loved left behind by reason of sickness, and weeping, It is a hard thing, said he, to be pitiful and wise at the same time. Menecrates the physician, surnamed Jupiter, inscribed a letter to him thus: Menecrates Jupiter to King Agesilaus wisheth joy. And he returned in answer: King Agesilaus to Menecrates wisheth his wits. When the Lacedaemonians overcame the Athenians and their confederates at Corinth, and he Edition: current; Page: [220] heard the number of the enemies that were slain; Alas, said he, for Greece, who hath destroyed so many of her men as were enough to have conquered all the barbarians together. He had received an answer from the Oracle of Jupiter in Olympia, which was to his satisfaction. Afterwards the Ephori bade him consult Apollo in the same case; and to Delphi he went, and asked that God whether he was of the same mind with his father. He interceded for one of his friends with Idrieus of Caria, and wrote to him thus: If Nicias has not offended, set him free; but if he is guilty, set him free for my sake; by all means set him free. Being exhorted to hear one that imitated the voice of a nightingale, I have often, said he, heard nightingales themselves. The law ordained that such as ran away should be disgraced. After the fight at Leuctra, the Ephori, seeing the city void of men, were willing to dispense with that disgrace, and empowered Agesilaus to make a law to that purpose. But he standing in the midst commanded that after the next day the laws should remain in force as before. He was sent to assist the king of Egypt, with whom he was besieged by enemies that outnumbered his own forces; and when they had entrenched their camp, the king commanded him to go out and fight them. Since, said he, they intend to make themselves equal to us, I will not hinder them. When the trench was almost finished, he drew up his men in the void space, and so fighting with equal advantage he overcame them. When he was dying, he charged his friends that no fiction or counterfeit (so he called statues) should be made for him; For if, said he, I have done any honorable exploit, that is my monument; but if I have done none, all your statues will signify nothing.


When Archidamus, the son of Agesilaus, beheld a dart to be shot from an engine newly brought out of Sicily, he cried out, O Hercules! the valor of man is at an end.

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Agis the Younger.

Demades said, the Laconians’ swords were so small, that jugglers might swallow them. That may be, said Agis, but the Lacedaemonians can reach their enemies very well with them. The Ephori ordered him to deliver his soldiers to a traitor. I will not, said he, entrust him with strangers, who betrayed his own men.


To one that promised to give him hardy cocks, that would die fighting, Prithee, said he, give me cocks that will kill fighting.


Paedaretus, when he was not chosen among the Three Hundred (which was the highest office and honor in the city), went away cheerfully and smiling, saying, he was glad if the city had three hundred better citizens than himself.


Damonidas, being placed by him that ordered the chorus in the last rank of it, said: Well done, you have found a way to make this place also honorable.


Archidamus, general of the Argives, enticed Nicostratus to betray a fort, by promises of a great sum, and the marriage of what Lacedaemonian lady he pleased except the king’s daughters. He answered, that Archidamus was none of the offspring of Hercules, for he went about to punish wicked men, but Archidamus to corrupt honest men.


Eudaemonidas beholding Xenocrates, when he was old, in the Academy reading philosophy to his scholars, and being told he was in quest of virtue, asked: And when does he intend to practise it? Another time, when he heard a philosopher arguing that only the wise man can be a good general, This is a wonderful speech, said he, but he that saith it never heard the sound of trumpets.


Antiochus being Ephor, when he heard Philip had given the Messenians a country, asked whether Edition: current; Page: [222] he had granted them that they should be victorious when they fought for that country.


To an Athenian that called the Lacedaemonians unlearned, Therefore we alone, said Antalcidas, have learned no mischief of you. To another Athenian that told him, Indeed, we have often driven you from the Cephissus, he replied, But we never drove you from the Eurotas. When a Sophist was beginning to recite the praise of Hercules; And who, said he, ever spoke against him?


No panic fear ever surprised the army of the Thebans while Epaminondas was their general. He said, to die in war was the most honorable death, and the bodies of armed men ought to be exercised, not as wrestlers, but in a warlike manner. Wherefore he hated fat men, and dismissed one of them, saying, that three or four shields would scarce serve to secure his belly, which would not suffer him to see his members. He was so frugal in his diet that, being invited by a neighbor to supper, and finding there dishes, ointments, and junkets in abundance, he departed immediately, saying: I thought you were sacrificing, and not displaying your luxury. When his cook gave an account to his colleagues of the charges for several days, he was offended only at the quantity of oil; and when his colleagues wondered at him, I am not, said he, troubled at the charge, but that so much oil should be received into my body. When the city kept a festival, and all gave themselves to banquets and drinking, he was met by one of his acquaintance unadorned and in a thoughtful posture. He wondering asked him why he of all men should walk about in that manner. That all of you, said he, may be drunk and revel securely. An ill man, that had committed no great fault, he refused to discharge at the request of Pelopidas; when his miss entreated for him, he dismissed Edition: current; Page: [223] him, saying: Whores are fitting to receive such presents, and not generals. The Lacedaemonians invaded the Thebans, and oracles were brought to Thebes, some that promised victory, others that foretold an overthrow. He ordered those to be placed on the right hand of the judgment seat, and these on the left. When they were placed accordingly, he rose up and said: If you will obey your commanders and unanimously resist your enemies, these are your oracles, — pointing to the better; but if you play the cowards, those, — pointing to the worser. Another time, as he drew nigh to the enemy, it thundered, and some that were about him asked him what he thought the Gods would signify by it. They signify, said he, that the enemy is thunderstruck and demented, since he pitches his camp in a bad place, when he was nigh to a better. Of all the happy and prosperous events that befell him, he said that in this he took most satisfaction, that he overcame the Lacedaemonians at Leuctra while his father and mother, that begot him, were living. Whereas he was wont to appear with his body anointed and a cheerful countenance, the day after that fight he came abroad meanly habited and dejected; and when his friends asked him whether any misfortune had befallen him, No, said he, but yesterday I was pleased more than became a wise man, and therefore to-day I chastise that immoderate joy. Perceiving the Spartans concealed their disasters, and desiring to discover the greatness of their loss, he did not give them leave to take away their dead altogether, but allowed each city to bury its own; whereby it appeared that above a thousand Lacedaemonians were slain. Jason, monarch of Thessaly, was at Thebes as their confederate, and sent two thousand pieces of gold to Epaminondas, then in great want; but he refused the gold, and when he saw Jason, he said: You are the first to commit violence. And borrowing fifty drachms of a citizen, with that money to supply Edition: current; Page: [224] his army he invaded Peloponnesus. Another time, when the Persian king sent him thirty thousand darics, he chid Diomedon severely, asking him whether he sailed so far to bribe Epaminondas; and bade him tell the king, as long as he wished the prosperity of the Thebans, Epaminondas would be his friend gratis, but when he was otherwise minded, his enemy. When the Argives were confederates with the Thebans, the Athenian ambassadors then in Arcadia complained of both, and Callistratus the orator reproached the cities with Orestes and Oedipus. But Epaminondas stood up and said: We confess there hath been one amongst us that killed his father, and among the Argives one that killed his mother; but we banished those that did such things, and the Athenians entertained them. To some Spartans that accused the Thebans of many and great crimes, These indeed, said he, are they that have put an end to your short dialect. The Athenians made friendship and alliance with Alexander the tyrant of Pherae, who was an enemy to the Thebans, and who had promised to furnish them with flesh at half an obol a pound. And we, said Epaminondas, will supply them with wood to that flesh gratis; for if they grow meddlesome, we will make bold to cut all the wood in their country for them. Being desirous to keep the Boeotians, that were grown rusty by idleness, always in arms, when he was chosen their chief magistrate, he used to exhort them, saying: Yet consider what you do, my friends; for if I am your general, you must be my soldiers. He called their country, which was plain and open, the stage of war, which they could keep no longer than their hands were upon their shields. Chabrias, having slain a few Thebans near Corinth, that engaged too hotly near the walls, erected a trophy, which Epaminondas laughed at, saying, it was not a trophy, but a statue of Trivia, which they usually placed in the highway before the gates. One told him that the Athenians Edition: current; Page: [225] had sent an army into Peloponnesus adorned with new armor. What then? said he, doth Antigenidas sigh because Telles hath got new pipes? (Now Antigenidas was an excellent piper, but Telles a vile one.) Understanding his shield-bearer had taken a great deal of money from a prisoner, Come, said he, give me the shield, and buy you a victualling-house to live in; for now you are grown rich and wealthy, you will not hazard your life as you did formerly. Being asked whether he thought himself or Chabrias or Iphicrates the better general, It is hard, said he, to judge while we live. After he returned out of Laconia, he was tried for his life, with his fellow-commanders, for continuing Boeotarch four months longer than the law allowed. He bade the other commanders lay the blame upon him, as if he had forced them, and for himself, he said, his actions were his best speech; but if any thing at all were to be answered to the judges, he entreated them, if they put him to death, to write his fault upon his monument, that the Grecians might know that Epaminondas compelled the Thebans against their will to plunder and fire Laconia, — which in five hundred years before had never suffered the like, — to build Messene two hundred and thirty years after it was sacked, to unite the Arcadians, and to restore liberty to Greece; for those things were done in that expedition. Whereupon the judges arose with great laughter, and refused even to receive the votes against him. In his last fight, being wounded and carried into his tent, he called for Diaphantes and after him for Iollidas; and when he heard they were slain, he advised the Thebans to make their peace with the enemy, since they had never a general left them; as by the event proved true. So well did he understand his countrymen.


Pelopidas, Epaminondas’s colleague, when his friends told him that he neglected a necessary business, that was the gathering of money, replied: In good deed Edition: current; Page: [226] money is necessary for this Nicomedas, pointing to a lame man that could not go. As he was going out to fight, his wife beseeched him to have a care of himself. To others you may give this advice, said he; but a commander and general you must advise that he should save his countrymen. A soldier told him, We are fallen among the enemies. Said he, How are we fallen among them, more than they among us? When Alexander, the tyrant of Pherae, broke his faith and cast him into prison, he reviled him; and when the other told him he did but hasten his death, That is my design, said he, that the Thebans may be exasperated against you, and be revenged on you the sooner. Thebe, the wife of the tyrant, came to him, and told him she wondered to see him so merry in chains. He answered, he wondered more at her, that she could endure Alexander without being chained. When Epaminondas caused him to be released, he said: I thank Alexander, for I have now found by trial that I have not only courage to fight, but to die.


M.’ Curius.

When some blamed M.’ Curius for distributing but a small part of a country he took from the enemy, and preserving the greater part for the commonwealth, he prayed there might be no Roman who would think that estate little which was enough to maintain him. The Samnites after an overthrow came to him to offer him gold, and found him boiling rape-roots. He answered the Samnites that he that could sup so wanted no gold, and that he had rather rule over those who had gold than have it himself.

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C. Fabricius.

C. Fabricius, hearing Pyrrhus had overthrown the Romans, told Labienus, it was Pyrrhus, not the Epirots, that beat the Romans. He went to treat about exchange of prisoners with Pyrrhus, who offered him a great sum of gold, which he refused. The next day Pyrrhus commanded a very large elephant should secretly be placed behind Fabricius, and discover himself by roaring; whereupon Fabricius turned and smiled, saying, I was not astonished either at your gold yesterday or at your beast to-day. Pyrrhus invited him to tarry with him, and to accept of the next command under him: That, said he, will be inconvenient for you; for, when the Epirots know us both, they will rather have me for their king than you. When Fabricius was consul, Pyrrhus’s physician sent him a letter, wherein he promised him that, if he commanded him, he would poison Pyrrhus. Fabricius sent the letter to Pyrrhus, and bade him conclude that he was a very bad judge both of friends and enemies. The plot was discovered; Pyrrhus hanged his physician, and sent the Roman prisoners he had taken without ransom as a present to Fabricius. He, however, refused to accept them, but returned the like number, lest he might seem to receive a reward. Neither did he disclose the conspiracy out of kindness to Pyrrhus, but that the Romans might not seem to kill him by treachery, as if they despaired to conquer him in open war.

Fabius Maximus.

Fabius Maximus would not fight, but chose to spin away the time with Hannibal, — who wanted both money and provision for his army, — by pursuing and facing him in rocky and mountainous places. When many laughed at him and called him Hannibal’s schoolmaster, he took little notice of them, but pursued his own design, and told his friends: He that is afraid of scoffs and reproaches is more a coward than he that flies from the enemy. When Minucius, his fellow-consul, Edition: current; Page: [228] upon routing a party of the enemy, was highly extolled as a man worthy of Rome; I am more afraid, said he, of Minucius’s success than of his misfortune. And not long after he fell into an ambush, and was in danger of perishing with his forces, until Fabius succored him, slew many of the enemy, and brought him off. Whereupon Hannibal told his friends: Did I not often presage that cloud on the hills would some time or other break upon us? After the city received the great overthrow at Cannae, he was chosen consul with Marcellus, a daring person and much desirous to fight Hannibal, whose forces, if nobody fought him, he hoped would shortly disperse and be dissolved. Therefore Hannibal said, he feared fighting Marcellus less than Fabius who would not fight. He was informed of a Lucanian soldier that frequently wandered out of the camp by night after a woman he loved, but otherwise an admirable soldier; he caused his mistress to be seized privately and brought to him. When she came, he sent for the soldier and told him: It is known you lie out a nights, contrary to the law; but your former good behavior is not forgotten, therefore your faults are forgiven to your merits. Henceforwards you shall tarry with me, for I have your surety. And he brought out the woman to him. Hannibal kept Tarentum with a garrison, all but the castle; and Fabius drew the enemy far from it, and by a stratagem took the town and plundered it. When his secretary asked what was his pleasure as to the holy images, Let us leave, said he, the Tarentines their offended Gods. When M. Livius, who kept a garrison in the castle, said he took Tarentum by his assistance, others laughed at him; but said Fabius, You say true, for if you had not lost the city, I had not retook it. When he was ancient, his son was consul, and as he was discharging his office publicly with many attendants, he met him on horseback. The young man Edition: current; Page: [229] sent a sergeant to command him to alight; when others were at a stand, Fabius presently alighted, and running faster than for his age might be expected, embraced his son. Well done, son, said he, I see you are wise, and know whom you govern, and the grandeur of the office you have undertaken.

Scipio the Elder.

Scipio the Elder spent on his studies what leisure the campaign and government would allow him, saying, that he did most when he was idle. When he took Carthage by storm, some soldiers took prisoner a very beautiful virgin, and came and presented her to him. I would receive her, said he, with all my heart, if I were a private man and not a governor. While he was besieging the city of Badia, wherein appeared above all a temple of Venus, he ordered appearances to be given for actions to be tried before him within three days in that temple of Venus; and he took the city, and was as good as his word. One asked him in Sicily, on what confidence he presumed to pass with his navy against Carthage. He showed him three hundred disciplined men in armor, and pointed to a high tower on the shore; There is not one of these, said he, that would not at my command go to the top of that tower, and cast himself down headlong. Over he went, landed, and burnt the enemy’s camp, and the Carthaginians sent to him, and covenanted to surrender their elephants, ships, and a sum of money. But when Hannibal was sailed back from Italy, their reliance on him made them repent of those conditions. This coming to Scipio’s ear, Nor will I, said he, stand to the agreement if they will, unless they pay me five thousand talents more for sending for Hannibal. The Carthaginians, when they were utterly overthrown, sent ambassadors to make peace and league with him; he bade those that came return immediately, as refusing to hear them before they brought Edition: current; Page: [230] L. Terentius with them, a good man, whom the Carthaginians had taken prisoner. When they brought him, he placed him in the council next himself, on the judgment-seat, and then he transacted with the Carthaginians and put an end to the war. And Terentius followed him when he triumphed, wearing the cap of one that was made free; and when he died, Scipio gave wine mingled with honey to those that were at the funeral, and performed other funeral rites in his honor. But these things were done afterwards. King Antiochus, after the Romans invaded him, sent to Scipio in Asia for peace; That should have been done before, said he, not now when you have received a bridle and a rider. The senate decreed him a sum of money out of the treasury, but the treasurers refused to open it on that day. Then, said he, I will open it myself, for the moneys with which I filled it caused it to be shut. When Paetilius and Quintus accused him of many crimes before the people, — On this very day, said he, I conquered Hannibal and Carthage; I for my part am going with my crown on to the Capitol to sacrifice; and let him that pleaseth stay and pass his vote upon me. Having thus said, he went his way; and the people followed him, leaving his accusers declaiming to themselves.

T. Quinctius.

T. Quinctius was eminent so early, that before he had been tribune, praetor, or aedile, he was chosen consul. Being sent as general against Philip, he was persuaded to come to a conference with him. And when Philip demanded hostages of him, because he was accompanied with many Romans while the Macedonians had none but himself; You, said Quinctius, have created this solitude for yourself, by killing your friends and kindred. Having overcome Philip in battle, he proclaimed in the Isthmian games that the Grecians were free and to be governed by their own laws. And the Grecians redeemed all the Roman prisoners that in Hannibal’s days Edition: current; Page: [231] were sold for slaves in Greece, each of them with two hundred drachms, and made him a present of them; and they followed him in Rome in his triumph, wearing caps on their heads such as they use to wear who are made free. He advised the Achaeans, who designed to make war upon the Island Zacynthus, to take heed lest, like a tortoise, they should endanger their head by thrusting it out of Peloponnesus. When King Antiochus was coming upon Greece with great forces, and all men trembled at the report of his numbers and equipage, he told the Achaeans this story: Once I dined with a friend at Chalcis, and when I wondered at the variety of dishes, said my host, “All these are pork, only in dressing and sauces they differ.” And therefore be not you amazed at the king’s forces, when you hear talk of spearmen and men-at-arms and choice footmen and horse-archers, for all these are but Syrians, with some little difference in their weapons. Philopoemen, general of the Achaeans, had good store of horses and men-at-arms, but could not tell what to do for money; and Quinctius played upon him, saying, Philopoemen had arms and legs, but no belly; and it happened his body was much after that shape.

Cneus Domitius.

Cneus Domitius, — whom Scipio the Great sent in his stead to attend his brother Lucius in the war against Antiochus, — when he had viewed the enemy’s army, and the commanders that were with him advised him to set upon them presently, said to them: We shall scarce have time enough now to kill so many thousands, plunder their baggage, return to our camp, and refresh ourselves too; but we shall have time enough to do all this to-morrow. The next day he engaged them, and slew fifty thousand of the enemy.

Publius Licinius.

Publius Licinius, consul and general, being worsted in a horse engagement by Perseus king of Macedon, with what were slain and what were took prisoners, Edition: current; Page: [232] lost two thousand eight hundred men. Presently after the fight, Perseus sent ambassadors to make peace and league with him; and although he was overcome, yet he advised the conqueror to submit himself and his affairs to the pleasure of the Romans.

Paulus Aemilius.

Paulus Aemilius, when he stood for his second consulship, was rejected. Afterwards, the war with Perseus and the Macedonians being prolonged by the ignorance and effeminacy of the commanders, they chose him consul. I thank, said he, the people for nothing; they choose me general, not because I want the office, but because they want an officer. As he returned from the hall to his own house, and found his little daughter Tertia weeping, he asked her what she cried for? Perseus, said she (so her little dog was called), is dead. Luckily hast thou spoken, girl, said he, and I accept the omen. When he found in the camp much confident prating among the soldiers, who pretended to advise him and busy themselves as if they had been all officers, he bade them be quiet and only whet their swords, and leave other things to his care.

He ordered night-guards should be kept without swords or spears, that they might resist sleep, when they had nothing wherewith to resist the enemy. He invaded Macedonia by the way of the mountains; and seeing the enemy drawn up, when Nasica advised him to set upon them presently, he replied: So I should, if I were of your age; but long experience forbids me, after a march, to fight an army marshalled regularly. Having overcome Perseus, he feasted his friends for joy of the victory, saying, it required the same skill to make an army very terrible to the enemy, and a banquet very acceptable to our friends. When Perseus was taken prisoner, he told Paulus that he would not be led in triumph. That, said he, is as you please, — meaning he might kill himself. He found an infinite quantity Edition: current; Page: [233] of money, but kept none for himself; only to his son-in-law Tubero he gave a silver bowl that weighed five pounds, as a reward of his valor; and that, they say, was the first piece of plate that belonged to the Aemilian family. Of the four sons he had, he parted with two that were adopted into other families; and of the two that lived with him, one of them died at the age of fourteen years, but five days before his triumph; and five days after the triumph, at the age of twelve years died the other. When the people that met him bemoaned and compassionated his calamities, Now, said he, my fears and jealousies for my country are over, since Fortune hath discharged her revenge for our success on my house, and I have paid for all.

Cato the Elder.

Cato the Elder, in a speech to the people, inveighed against luxury and intemperance. How hard, said he, is it to persuade the belly, that hath no ears? And he wondered how that city was preserved wherein a fish was sold for more than an ox! Once he scoffed at the prevailing imperiousness of women: All other men, said he, govern their wives; but we command all other men, and our wives us. He said he had rather not be rewarded for his good deeds than not punished for his evil deeds; and at any time he could pardon all other offenders besides himself. He instigated the magistrates to punish all offenders, saying, that they that did not prevent crimes when they might encouraged them. Of young men, he liked them that blushed better than those who looked pale; and hated a soldier that moved his hands as he walked and his feet as he fought, and whose sneeze was louder than his outcry when he charged. He said, he was the worst governor who could not govern himself. It was his opinion that every one ought especially to reverence himself; for every one was always in his own presence. When he saw many had their statues set up, I had rather, says he, men should ask why Cato had no statue, Edition: current; Page: [234] than why he had one. He exhorted those in power to be sparing of exercising their power, that they might continue in power. They that separate honor from virtue, said he, separate virtue from youth. A governor, said he, or judge ought to do justice without entreaty, not injustice upon entreaty. He said, that injustice, if it did not endanger the authors, endangered all besides. He requested old men not to add the disgrace of wickedness to old age, which was accompanied with many other evils. He thought an angry man differed from a madman only in the shorter time which his passion endured. He thought that they who enjoyed their fortunes decently and moderately, were far from being envied; For men do not envy us, said he, but our estates. He said, they that were serious in ridiculous matters would be ridiculous in serious affairs. Honorable actions ought to succeed honorable sayings; Lest, said he, they lose their reputation. He blamed the people for always choosing the same men officers; For either you think, said he, the government little worth, or very few fit to govern. He pretended to wonder at one that sold an estate by the seaside, as if he were more powerful than the sea; for he had drunk up that which the sea could hardly drown. When he stood for the consulship, and saw others begging and flattering the people for votes, he cried out aloud: The people have need of a sharp physician and a great purge; therefore not the mildest but the most inexorable person is to be chosen. For which word he was chosen before all others. Encouraging young men to fight boldly, he oftentimes said, The speech and voice terrify and put to flight the enemy more than the hand and sword. As he warred against Baetica, he was outnumbered by the enemy, and in danger. The Celtiberians offered for two hundred talents to send him a supply, and the Romans would not suffer him to engage to pay wages to barbarians. You are out, said he; for if we overcome, Edition: current; Page: [235] not we but the enemy must pay them; if we are routed, there will be nobody to demand nor to pay either. Having taken more cities, as he saith, than he stayed days in the enemies’ country, he reserved no more of the prey for himself than what he ate or drank. He distributed to every soldier a round of silver, saying, It was better many should return out of the campaign with silver than a few with gold; for governors ought to gain nothing by their governments but honor. Five servants waited on him in the army, whereof one had bought three prisoners; and understanding Cato knew it, before he came into his presence he hanged himself. Being requested by Scipio Africanus to befriend the banished Achaeans, that they might return to their own country, he made as if he would not be concerned in that business; but when the matter was disputed in the senate, rising up, he said: We sit here, as if we had nothing else to do but to argue about a few old Grecians, whether they shall be carried to their graves by our bearers or by those of their own country. Posthumus Albinus wrote a history in Greek, and in it begs the pardon of his readers. Said Cato, jeering him, If the Amphictyonic Council commanded him to write it, he ought to be pardoned.

Scipio Junior.

It is reported that Scipio Junior never bought nor sold nor built any thing for the space of fifty-four years, and so long as he lived; and that of so great an estate, he left but thirty-three pounds of silver, and two of gold behind him, although he was lord of Carthage, and enriched his soldiers more than other generals. He observed the precept of Polybius, and endeavored never to return from the forum, until by some means or other he had engaged some one he lighted on to be his friend or companion. While he was yet young, he had such a repute for valor and knowledge, that Cato the Elder, being asked his opinion of the commanders in Africa, of whom Scipio was one, answered in that Greek verse, —

Edition: current; Page: [236]
  • Others like shadows fly;
  • He only is wise.*

When he came from the army to Rome, the people preferred him, not to gratify him, but because they hoped by his assistance to conquer Carthage with more ease and speed. After he was entered the walls, the Carthaginians defended themselves in the castle, separated by the sea, not very deep. Polybius advised him to scatter caltrops in the water, or planks with iron spikes, that the enemy might not pass over to assault their bulwark. He answered, that it was ridiculous for those who had taken the walls and were within the city to contrive how they might not fight with the enemy. He found the city full of Greek statues and presents brought thither from Sicily, and made proclamation that such as were present from those cities might claim and carry away what belonged to them. When others plundered and carried away the spoil, he would not suffer any that belonged to him, either slave or freeman, to take, nor so much as to buy any of it. He assisted C. Laelius, his most beloved friend, when he stood to be consul, and asked Pompey (who was thought to be a piper’s son) whether he stood or not. He replied, No; and besides promised to join with them in going about and procuring votes, which they believed and expected, but were deceived; for news was brought that Pompey was in the forum, fawning on and soliciting the citizens for himself; whereat others being enraged, Scipio laughed. We may thank our own folly for this, said he, that, as if we were not to request men but the Gods, we lose our time in waiting for a piper. When he stood to be censor, Appius Claudius, his rival, told him that he could salute all the Romans by their names, whereas Scipio scarce knew any of them. You say true, said he, for it hath been my care not to know many, but that all might know me. He advised Edition: current; Page: [237] the city, which then had an army in Celtiberia, to send them both to the army, either as tribunes or lieutenants, that thus the soldiers might be witnesses and judges of the valor of each of them. When he was made censor, he took away his horse from a young man, who, in the time while Carthage was besieged, made a costly supper, in which was a honey-cake, made after the shape of that city, which he named Carthage and set before his guests to be plundered by them; and when the young man asked the reason why he took his horse from him, he said, Because you plundered Carthage before me. As he saw C. Licinius coming towards him, I know, said he, that man is perjured; but since nobody accuses him, I cannot be his accuser and judge too. The senate sent him thrice, as Clitomachus saith, to take cognizance of men, cities, and manners, as an overseer of cities, kings, and countries. As he came to Alexandria and landed, he went with his head covered, and the Alexandrians running about him entreated he would gratify them by uncovering and showing them his desirable face. When he uncovered his head, they clapped their hands with a loud acclamation. The king, by reason of his laziness and corpulency, making a hard shift to keep pace with them, Scipio whispered softly to Panaetius: The Alexandrians have already received some benefit of our visit, for upon our account they have seen their king walk. There travelled with him one friend, Panaetius the philosopher, and five servants, whereof one dying in the journey, he would not buy another, but sent for one to Rome. The Numantines seemed invincible, and having overcome several generals, the people the second time chose Scipio general in that war. When great numbers strived to list them in his army, even that the senate forbade, as if Italy thereby would be left destitute. Nor did they allow him money that was in bank, but ordered him to receive the revenues of tributes that were Edition: current; Page: [238] not yet payable. As to money, Scipio said he wanted none, for of his own and by his friends he could be supplied; but of the decree concerning the soldiers he complained, for the war (he said) was a hard and difficult one, whether their defeat had been caused by the valor of the enemy or by the cowardice of their own men. When he came to the army, he found there much disorder, intemperance, superstition, and luxury. Immediately he drove away the soothsayers, priests, and panders. He ordered them to send away their household stuff, all except kettles, a spit, and an earthen cup. He allowed a silver cup, weighing not more than two pounds, to such as desired it. He forbade them to bathe; and those that anointed themselves were to rub themselves too; for horses wanted another to rub them, he said, only because they had no hand of their own. He ordered them to eat their dinner standing, and to have only such food as was dressed without fire; but they might sit down at supper, to bread, plain porridge, and flesh boiled or roasted. He himself walked about clothed in a black cassock, saying, he mourned for the disgrace of the army. He met by chance with the pack-horses of Memmius, a tribune that carried wine-coolers set with precious stones, and the best Corinthian vessels. Since you are such a one, said he, you have made yourself useless to me and to your country for thirty days, but to yourself all your life long. Another showed him a shield well adorned. The shield, said he, young man, is a fine one, but it becomes a Roman to have his confidence placed rather in his right hand than in his left. To one that was building the rampart, saying his burthen was very heavy, And deservedly, said he, for you trust more to this wood than to your sword. When he saw the rash confidence of the enemy, he said that he bought security with time; for a good general, like a good physician, useth iron as his last remedy. And yet he fought when he saw it convenient, Edition: current; Page: [239] and routed the enemy. When they were worsted, the elder men child them, and asked why they fled from those they had pursued so often. It is said a Numantine answered, The sheep are the same still, but they have another shepherd. After he had taken Numantia and triumphed a second time, he had a controversy with C. Gracchus concerning the senate and the allies; and the abusive people made a tumult about him as he spake from the pulpit; The outcry of the army, said he, when they charge, never disturbed me, much less the clamor of a rabble of newcomers, to whom Italy is a step-mother (I am well assured) and not a mother. And when they of Gracchus’s party cried out, Kill the Tyrant, — No wonder, said he, that they who make war upon their country would kill me first; for Rome cannot fall while Scipio stands, nor can Scipio live when Rome is fallen.

Caecilius Metellus.

Caecilius Metellus designing to reduce a strong fort, a captain told him he would undertake to take it with the loss only of ten men; and he asked him, whether he himself would be one of those ten. A young colonel asked him what design he had in the wheel. If I thought my shirt knew, said he, I would pluck it off and burn it. He was at variance with Scipio in his lifetime, but he lamented at his death, and commanded his sons to assist at the hearse; and said, he gave the Gods thanks in the behalf of Rome, that Scipio was born in no other country.

C. Marius.

C. Marius was of obscure parentage, pursuing offices by his valor. He pretended to the chief aedileship, and perceiving he could not reach it, the same day he stood for the lesser, and missing of that also, yet for all that he did not despair of being consul. Having a wen on each leg, he suffered one to be cut, and endured the surgeon without binding, not so much as sighing or once contracting his eyebrows; but when the surgeon Edition: current; Page: [240] would cut the other, he did not suffer him, saying the cure was not worth the pain. In his second consulship, Lucius his sister’s son offered unchaste force to Trebonius, a soldier, who slew him; when many pleaded against him, he did not deny but confessed he killed the colonel, and told the reason why. Hereupon Marius called for a crown, the reward of extraordinary valor, and put it upon Trebonius’s head. He had pitched his camp, when he fought against the Teutons, in a place where water was wanting; when the soldiers told him they were thirsty, he showed them a river running by the enemy’s trench. Look you, said he, there is water for you, to be bought for blood; and they desired him to conduct them to fight, while their blood was fluent and not all dried up with thirst. In the Cimbrian war, he gave a thousand valiant Camertines the freedom of Rome, which no law did allow; and to such as blamed him for it he said, I could not hear the laws for the clash of arrows. In the civil war, he lay patiently entrenched and besieged, waiting for a fit opportunity; when Popedius Silon called to him, Marius, if you are so great a general come down and fight. And do you, said he, if you are so great a commander, force me to fight against my will, if you can.

Lutatius Catulus.

Lutatius Catulus in the Cimbrian war lay encamped by the side of the river Athesis, and his soldiers, seeing the barbarians attempting to pass the river, gave back; when he could not make them stand, he hastened to the front of them that fled, that they might not seem to fly from their enemies but to follow their commander.


Sylla, surnamed the Fortunate, reckoned these two things as the chiefest of his felicities, — the friendship of Metellus Pius, and that he had spared and not destroyed the city of Athens.

C. Popilius.

C. Popilius was sent to Antiochus with a letter from the senate, commanding him to withdraw his Edition: current; Page: [241] army out of Egypt, and to renounce the protection of that kingdom during the minority of Ptolemy’s children. When he came towards him in his camp, Antiochus kindly saluted him at a distance, but without returning his saluation he delivered his letter; which being read, the king answered, that he would consider, and give his answer. Whereupon Popilius with his wand made a circle round him, saying, Consider and answer before you go out of this place; and when Antiochus answered that he would give the Romans satisfaction, then at length Popilius saluted and embraced him.


Lucullus in Armenia, with ten thousand foot in armor and a thousand horse, was to fight Tigranes and his army of a hundred and fifty thousand, the day before the nones of October, the same day on which formerly Scipio’s army was destroyed by the Cimbrians. When one told him, The Romans dread and abominate that day; Therefore, said he, let us fight to-day valiantly, that we may change this day from a black and unlucky one to a joyful and festival day for the Romans. His soldiers were most afraid of their men-at-arms; but he bade them be of good courage, for it was more labor to strip than to overcome them. He first came up to their counterscarp, and perceiving the confusion of the barbarians, cried out, Fellow-soldiers, the day’s our own! And when nobody stood him, he pursued, and, with the loss of five Romans, slew above a hundred thousand of them.

Cn. Pompeius.

Cn. Pompeius was as much beloved by the Romans as his father was hated. When he was young, he wholly sided with Sylla, and before he had borne many offices or was chosen into the senate, he enlisted many soldiers in Italy. When Sylla sent for him, he returned answer, that he would not muster his forces in the presence of his general, unfleshed and without spoils; nor did he come before that in several fights he had overcome the captains of the enemy. He was sent by Sylla lieutenant-general Edition: current; Page: [242] into Sicily, and being told that the soldiers turned out of the way and forced and plundered the country, he sealed the swords of such as he sent abroad, and punished all other stragglers and wanderers. He had resolved to put the Mamertines, that were of the other side, all to the sword; but Sthenius the orator told him, He would do injustice if he should punish many that were innocent for the sake of one that was guilty; and that he himself was the person that persuaded his friends and forced his enemies to side with Marius. Pompey admired the man, and said, he could not blame the Mamertines for being inveigled by a person who preferred his country beyond his own life; and forgave both the city and Sthenius too. When he passed into Africa against Domitius and overcame him in a great battle, the soldiers saluted him Imperator. He answered, he could not receive that honor, so long as the fortification of the enemy’s camp stood undemolished; upon this, although it rained hard, they rushed on and plundered the camp. At his return, among other courtesies and honors wherewith Sylla entertained him, he styled him The Great; yet when he was desirous to triumph, Sylla would not consent, because he was not yet chosen into the senate. But when Pompey said to those that were about him, Sylla doth not know that more worship the rising than the setting sun, Sylla cried aloud, Let him triumph. Hereat Servilius, one of the nobles, was displeased; the soldiers also withstood his triumph, until he had bestowed a largess among them. But when Pompey replied, I would rather forego my triumph than flatter them, — Now, said Servilius, I see Pompey is truly great and worthy of a triumph. It was a custom in Rome, that knights who had served in the wars the time appointed by the laws should bring their horse into the forum before the censors, and there give an account of their warfare and the commanders under whom Edition: current; Page: [243] they had served. Pompey, then consul, brought also his horse before the censors, Gellius and Lentulus; and when they asked him, as the manner is, whether he had served all his campaigns, All, said he, and under myself as general. Having gotten into his hands the writings of Sertorius in Spain, among which were letters from several leading men in Rome, inviting Sertorius to Rome to innovate and change the government, he burnt them all, by that means giving opportunity to ill-affected persons to repent and mend their manners. Phraates, king of Parthia, sent to him requesting that the river Euphrates might be his bounds. He answered, the Romans had rather the right should be their bounds towards Parthia. L. Lucullus, after he left the army, gave himself up to pleasure and luxury, jeering at Pompey for busying himself in affairs unsuitable to his age. He answered, that government became old age better than luxury. In a fit of sickness, his physician prescribed him to eat a thrush; but when none could be gotten, because they were out of season, one said, that Lucullus had some, for he kept them all the year. It seems then, said he, Pompey must not live, unless Lucullus play the glutton; and dismissing the physician, he ate such things as were easy to be gotten. In a great dearth at Rome, he was chosen by title overseer of the market, but in reality lord of sea and land, and sailed to Africa, Sardinia, and Sicily. Having procured great quantities of wheat, he hastened back to Rome; and when by reason of a great tempest the pilots were loath to hoist sail, he went first aboard himself, and commanding the anchor to be weighed, cried out aloud, There is a necessity of sailing, but there is no necessity of living. When the difference betwixt him and Caesar broke out, and Marcellinus, one of those whom he had preferred, revolted to Caesar and inveighed much against Pompey in the senate; Art thou not ashamed, said he, Marcellinus, to reproach Edition: current; Page: [244] me, who taught you to speak when you were dumb, and fed you full even to vomiting when you were starved? To Cato, who severely blamed him because, when he had often informed him of the growing power of Caesar, such as was dangerous to a democracy, he took little notice of it, he answered, Your counsels were more presaging, but mine more friendly. Concerning himself he freely professed, that he entered all his offices sooner than he expected, and resigned them sooner than was expected by others. After the fight at Pharsalia, in his flight towards Egypt, as he was going out of the ship into the fisher-boat the king sent to attend him, turning to his wife and son, he said nothing to them beside those two verses of Sophocles:

  • Whoever comes within a tyrant’s door
  • Becomes his slave, though he were free before.

As he came out of the boat, when he was struck with a sword, he said nothing; but gave one groan, and covering his head submitted to the murderers.


Cicero the orator, when his name was played upon and his friends advised him to change it, answered, that he would make the name of Cicero more honorable than the name of the Catos, the Catuli, or the Scauri. He dedicated to the Gods a silver cup with a cover, with the first letters of his other names, and instead of Cicero a chick-pea (cicer) engraven. Loud bawling orators, he said, were driven by their weakness to noise, as lame men to take horse. Verres had a son that in his youth had not well secured his chastity; yet he reviled Cicero for his effeminacy, and called him catamite. Do you not know, said he, that children are to be rebuked at home within doors? Metellus Nepos told him he had slain more by his testimony than he had saved by his pleadings. You say true, said he, my honesty exceeds my eloquence. When Metellus asked him who his father was, Your mother, said he, hath made that question a harder one for you to answer Edition: current; Page: [245] than for me. For she was unchaste, while Metellus himself was a light, inconstant, and passionate man. The same Metellus, when Diodotus his master in rhetoric died, caused a marble crow to be placed on his monument; and Cicero said, he returned his master a very suitable gratuity, who had taught him to fly but not to declaim. Hearing that Vatinius, his enemy and otherwise a lewd person, was dead, and the next day that he was alive, A mischief on him, said he, for lying. To one that seemed to be an African, who said he could not hear him when he pleaded, And yet, said he, your ears are of full bore. He had summoned Popilius Cotta, an ignorant blockhead that pretended to the law, as a witness in a cause; and when he told the court he knew nothing of the business, On my conscience, I’ll warrant you, said Cicero, he thinks you ask him a question in the law. Verres sent a golden sphinx as a present to Hortensius the orator, who told Cicero, when he spoke obscurely, that he was not skilled in riddles. That’s strange, said he, since you have a sphinx in your house. Meeting Voconius with his three daughters that were hard favored, he told his friends softly that verse, —

  • Children he hath got,
  • Though Apollo favored not.

When Faustus the son of Sylla, being very much in debt, set up a writing that he would sell his goods by auction, he said, I like this proscription better than his father’s. When Pompey and Caesar fell out, he said, I know whom to fly from, but I know not whom to fly to. He blamed Pompey for leaving the city, and for imitating Themistocles rather than Pericles, when his affairs did not resemble the former’s but the latter’s. He changed his mind and went over to Pompey, who asked him where he left his son-in-law Piso. He answered, With your father-in-law Caesar. To one that went over from Caesar to Pompey, saying that in his haste and eagerness he had left his horse behind him, Edition: current; Page: [246] he said, You have taken better care of your horse than of yourself. To one that brought news that the friends of Caesar looked sourly, You do as good as call them, said he, Caesar’s enemies. After the battle in Pharsalia, when Pompey was fled, one Nonius said they had seven eagles left still, and advised to try what they would do. Your advice, said he, were good, if we were to fight with jackdaws. Caesar, now conqueror, honorably restored the statues of Pompey that were thrown down; whereupon Cicero said, that Caesar by erecting Pompey’s statues had secured his own. He set so high a value on oratory, and did so lay out himself especially that way, that having a cause to plead before the centumviri, when the day approached and his slave Eros brought him word it was deferred until the day following, he presently made him free.

C. Caesar.

Caius Caesar, when he was a young man, fled from Sylla, and fell into the hands of pirates, who first demanded of him a sum of money; and he laughed at the rogues for not understanding his quality, and promised them twice as much as they asked him. Afterwards, when he was put into custody until he raised the money, he commanded them to be quiet and silent while he slept. While he was in prison, he made speeches and verses which he read to them, and when they commended them but coldly, he called them barbarians and blockheads, and threatened them in jest that he would hang them. But after a while he was as good as his word; for when the money for his ransom was brought and he discharged, he gathered men and ships out of Asia, seized the pirates and crucified them. At Rome he stood to be chief priest against Catulus, a man of great interest among the Romans. To his mother, who brought him to the gate, he said, To-day, mother, you will have your son high priest or banished. He divorced his wife Pompeia, because she was reported to be over Edition: current; Page: [247] familiar with Clodius; yet when Clodius was brought to trial upon that account, and he was cited as a witness, he spake no evil against his wife; and when the accuser asked him, Why then did you divorce her? — Because, said he, Caesar’s wife ought to be free even from suspicion. As he was reading the exploits of Alexander, he wept and told his friends, He was of my age when he conquered Darius, and I hitherto have done nothing. He passed by a little inconsiderable town in the Alps, and his friends said, they wondered whether there were any contentions and tumults for offices in that place. He stood, and after a little pause answered, I had rather be the first in this town than second in Rome. He said, great and surprising enterprises were not to be consulted upon, but done. And coming against Pompey out of his province of Gaul, he passed the river Rubicon, saying, Let every die be thrown. After Pompey fled to sea from Rome, he went to take money out of the treasury: when Metellus, who had the charge of it, forbade him and shut it against him, he threatened to kill him; whereupon Metellus being astonished, he said to him, This, young man, is harder for me to say than to do. When his soldiers were having a tedious passage from Brundisium to Dyrrachium, unknown to all he went aboard a small vessel, and attempted to pass the sea; and when the vessel was in danger of being overset, he discovers himself to the pilot, crying out, Trust Fortune, and know that you carry Caesar. But the tempest being vehement, his soldiers coming about him and expostulating passionately with him, asking whether he distrusted them and was looking for another army, would not suffer him to pass at that time. They fought, and Pompey had the better of it; but instead of following his blow he retreated to his camp. To-day, said Caesar, the enemy had the victory, but none of them know how to conquer. Pompey commanded his army to stand in array at Pharsalia in their Edition: current; Page: [248] place, and to receive the charge from the enemy. In this Caesar said he was out, thereby suffering the eagerness of his soldiers’ spirits, when they were up and inspired with rage and success, in the midst of their career to languish and expire. After he routed Pharnaces Ponticus at the first assault, he wrote thus to his friends, I came, I saw, I conquered.* After Scipio was worsted in Africa and fled, and Cato had killed himself, he said: I envy thee thy death, O Cato! since thou didst envy me the honor of saving thee. Antonius and Dolabella were suspected by his friends, who advised him to secure them; he answered, I fear none of those fat and lazy fellows, but those pale and lean ones, — meaning Brutus and Cassius. As he was at supper, the discourse was of death, which sort was the best. That, said he, which is unexpected.

Caesar Augustus.

Caesar, who was the first surnamed Augustus, being yet young, demanded of Antony the twenty-five millions of money which he had taken out of the house of Julius Caesar when he was slain, that he might pay the Romans the legacies he had left them, every man seventy-five drachms. But when Antony detained the money, and bade him, if he were wise, let fall his demand, he sent the crier to offer his own paternal estate for sale, and therewith discharged the legacies; by which means he procured a general respect to himself, and to Antony the hatred of the Romans. Rymetalces, king of Thrace, forsook Antony and went over to Caesar; but bragging immoderately in his drink, and nauseously reproaching his new confederates, Caesar drank to one of the other kings, and told him, I love treason but do not commend Edition: current; Page: [249] traitors. The Alexandrians, when he had taken their city, expected great severity from him; but when he came upon the judgment-seat, he placed Arius the Alexandrian by him, and told them: I spare this city, first because it is great and beautiful, secondly for the sake of its founder, Alexander, and thirdly for the sake of Arius my friend. When it was told him that Eros, his steward in Egypt, having bought a quail that beat all he came near and was never worsted by any, had roasted and eaten it, he sent for him; and when upon examination he confessed the fact, he ordered him to be nailed on the mast of the ship. He removed Theodorus, and in his stead made Arius his factor in Sicily, whereupon a petition was presented to him, in which was written, Theodorus of Tarsus is either a baldpate or a thief, what is your opinion? Caesar read it, and subscribed, I think so. Mecaenas, his intimate companion, presented him yearly on his birthday with a piece of plate. Athenodorus the philosopher, by reason of his old age, begged leave that he might retire from court, which Caesar granted; and as Athenodorus was taking his leave of him, Remember, said he, Caesar, whenever you are angry, to say or do nothing before you have repeated the four-and-twenty letters to yourself. Whereupon Caesar caught him by the hand and said, I have need of your presence still; and he kept him a year longer, saying, The reward of silence is a secure reward. He heard Alexander at the age of thirty-two years had subdued the greatest part of the world and was at a loss what he should do with the rest of his time. But he wondered Alexander should not think it a lesser labor to gain a great empire than to set in order what he had gotten. He made a law concerning adulterers, wherein was determined how the accused were to be tried and how the guilty were to be punished. Afterwards, meeting with a young man that was reported to have been familiar with his daughter Julia, being enraged Edition: current; Page: [250] he struck him with his hands; but when the young man cried out, O Caesar! you have made a law, he was so troubled at it that he refrained from supper that day. When he sent Caius his daughter’s son into Armenia, he begged of the Gods that the favor of Pompey, the valor of Alexander, and his own fortune might attend him. He told the Romans he would leave them one to succeed him in the government that never consulted twice in the same affair, meaning Tiberius. He endeavored to pacify some young men that were imperious in their offices; and when they gave little heed to him, but still kept a stir, Young men, said he, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young. Once, when the Athenians had offended him, he wrote to them from Aegina: I suppose you know I am angry with you, otherwise I had not wintered at Aegina. Besides this, he neither said nor did any thing to them. One of the accusers of Eurycles prated lavishly and unreasonably, proceeding so far as to say, If these crimes, O Caesar, do not seem great to you, command him to repeat to me the seventh book of Thucydides; wherefore Caesar being enraged commanded him to prison. But afterwards, when he heard he was descended from Brasidas, he sent for him again, and dismissed him with a moderate rebuke. When Piso built his house from top to bottom with great exactness, You cheer my heart, said he, who build as if Rome would be eternal.

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ModernGreek: 1.

And you, Zeuxippus, diverted Glaucus the physician from entering into a philosophical discourse with you yesterday.


I did not hinder him in the least, friend Moschio, it was he that would not discourse in philosophy. But I feared and avoided giving so contentious a man any opportunity of discourse; for though in physic the man has (as Homer* expresses it) an excellency before most of his profession, yet in philosophy he is not altogether so candid, but indeed so rude in all his disputations, that he is hardly to be borne with, flying (as it were) at us open mouthed. So that it is neither an easy nor indeed a just thing, that we should bear those confusions in terms he makes, when we are disputing about a wholesome diet. Besides, he maintains that the bounds of philosophy and medicine are as distinct as those of the Mysians and Phrygians. And taking hold of some of those things we were discoursing of, perhaps not with all exactness, yet not without some profit, he made scurrilous reflections on them.


But I am ready, Zeuxippus, to hear those and the other things you shall discourse of, with a great deal of pleasure.

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You have naturally a philosophical genius, Moschio, and are troubled to see a philosopher have no kindness for the study of medicine. You are uneasy that he should think it concerns him more to study geometry, logic, and music, than to be desirous to understand

What in his house is well or ill-designed,*

his house being his own body. You shall see many spectators at that play where their charges are defrayed out of the public stock, as they do at Athens. Now among all the liberal arts, medicine not only contains so neat and large a field of pleasure as to give place to none, but she pays plentifully the charges of those who delight in the study of her by giving them health and safety; so that it ought not to be called transgressing the bounds of a philosopher to dispute about those things which relate to health, but rather, all bounds being laid aside, we ought to pursue our studies in the same common field, and so enjoy both the pleasure and the profit of them.


But to pass by Glaucus, who with his pretended gravity would be thought to be so perfect as not to stand in need of philosophy, — do you, if you please, run through the whole discourse, and first, those things which you say were not so exactly handled and which Glaucus carped at.

ModernGreek: 2.

A friend of ours then heard one alleging that to keep one’s hands always warm and never suffer them to be cold did not a little conduce to health; and, on the contrary, keeping the extreme parts of the body cold drives the heat inward, so that you are always in a fever or the fear of one. But those things which force the heat outwards do distribute and draw the matter to all parts, with advantage to our health. If in any work we employ our hands, we are able to keep in them that heat which is Edition: current; Page: [253] induced by their motion. But when we do not work with our hands, we should take all care to keep our extreme parts from cold.

ModernGreek: 3. This was one of those things he ridiculed. The second, as I remember, was touching the food allowed the sick, which he advises us sometimes both to touch and taste when we are in good health, that so we may be used to it, and not be shy of it, like little children, or hate such a diet, but by degrees make it natural and familiar to our appetite; that in our sickness we may not nauseate wholesome diet, as if it were physic, nor be uneasy when we are prescribed any insipid thing, that lacks both the smell and taste of a kitchen. Wherefore we need not squeamishly refuse to eat before we wash, or to drink water when we may have wine, or to take warm drink in summer when there is snow at hand. We must, however, lay aside all foppish ostentation and sophistry as well as vain-glory in this abstinence, and quietly by ourselves accustom our appetite to obey reason with willingness, that thus we may wean our minds long beforehand from that dainty contempt of such food which we feel in time of sickness, and that we may not then effeminately bewail our condition, as if we were fallen from great and beloved pleasures into a low and sordid diet. It was well said, Choose out the best condition you can, and custom will make it pleasant to you. And this will be beneficial in most things we undertake, but more especially as to diet; if, in the height of our health, we introduce a custom whereby those things may be rendered easy, familiar, and, as it were, domestics of our bodies, remembering what some suffer and do in sickness, who fret, and are not able to endure warm water or gruel or bread when it is brought to them, calling them dirty and unseemly things, and the persons who would urge them to them base and troublesome. The bath hath destroyed many whose distemper at the beginning was not Edition: current; Page: [254] very bad, only because they could not endure to eat before they washed; among whom Titus the emperor was one, as his physicians affirm.

ModernGreek: 4. This also was said, that a thin diet is the healthfulest to the body. But we ought chiefly to avoid all excess in meat or drink or pleasure, when there is any feast or entertainment at hand, or when we expect any royal or princely banquet, or solemnity which we cannot possibly avoid; then ought the body to be light and in readiness to receive the winds and waves it is to meet with. It is a hard matter for a man at a feast or collation to keep that mediocrity or bounds he has been used to, so as not to seem rude, precise, or troublesome to the rest of the company. Lest we should add fire to fire, as the proverb is, or one debauch or excess to another, we should take care to imitate that ingenious droll of Philip, which was this. He was invited to supper by a countryman, who supposed he would bring but few friends with him; but when he saw him bring a great many, there not being much provided, he was much concerned at it: which when Philip perceived, he sent privately to every one of his friends, that they should leave a corner for cake; they believing this and still expecting, ate so sparingly that there was supper enough for them all. So we ought beforehand to prepare ourselves against all unavoidable invitations, that there may be room left in our body, not only for the meal and the dessert, but for drunkenness itself, by bringing in a fresh and a willing appetite along with us.

ModernGreek: 5. But if such a necessity should surprise you when you are already loaded or indisposed, in the presence either of persons of quality or of strangers that come in upon you unawares, and you cannot for shame but go and drink with them that are ready for that purpose, then you ought to arm yourself against that modesty and prejudicial shamefacedness with that of Creon in the tragedy, who says, —

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  • ’Tis better, sirs, I should you now displease,
  • Than by complying next day lose my ease.*

He who throws himself into a pleurisy or frenzy, to avoid being censured as an uncivil person, is certainly no well-bred man, nor has he sense of understanding enough to converse with men, unless in a tavern or a cook-shop. Whereas an excuse ingeniously and dexterously made is no less acceptable than compliance. He that makes a feast, though he be as unwilling to taste of it himself as if it was a sacrifice, yet if he be merry and jocund over his glass at table, jesting and drolling upon himself, seems better company than they who are drunk and gluttonized together. Among the ancients, he made mention of Alexander, who after hard drinking was ashamed to resist the importunity of Medius, who invited him afresh to the drinking of wine, of which he died; and of our time, of Regulus the wrestler, who, being called by break of day by Titus Caesar to the bath, went and washed with him, and drinking but once (as they say) was seized with an apoplexy, and died immediately. These things Glaucus in laughter objected to as pedantic. He was not over-fond of hearing farther, nor indeed were we of discoursing more. But do you give heed to every thing that was said.

ModernGreek: 6. First, Socrates advises us to beware of such meats as persuade a man to eat them though he be not hungry, and of those drinks that would prevail with a man to drink them when he is not thirsty. Not that he absolutely forbade us the use of them; but he taught that we might use them where there was occasion for it, suiting the pleasure of them to our necessity, as cities converted the money which was designed for the festivals into a supply for war. For that which is agreeable by nature, so long as it is a part of our nourishment, is proper for us. He that is Edition: current; Page: [256] hungry should eat necessary food and find it pleasant; but when he is freed from his common appetite, he ought not to raise up a fresh one. For, as dancing was no unpleasant exercise to Socrates himself, so he that can make his meal of sweetmeats or a second course receives the less damage. But he that has taken already what may sufficiently satisfy his nature ought by all means to avoid them. And concerning these things, indecorum and ambition are no less to be avoided than the love of pleasure or gluttony. For these often persuade men to eat without hunger or drink without thirst, possessing them with base and troublesome fancies, as if it were indecent not to taste of every thing which is either a rarity or of great price, as udder, Italian mushrooms, Samian cakes, or snow in Egypt. Again, these often incite men to eat things rare and much talked of, they being led to it, as it were, by the scent of vain-glory, and making their bodies to partake of them without any necessity of it, that they may have something to tell others, who shall admire their having eaten such rare and superfluous things. And thus it is with them in relation to fine women; when they are in bed with their own wives, however beautiful and loving they may be, they are no way concerned; but on Phryne or Lais they bestow their money, inciting an infirm and unfit body, and provoking it to intemperate pleasures, and all this out of a vain-glorious humor. Phryne herself said in her old age, that she sold her lees and dregs the dearer because she had been in such repute when she was young.

ModernGreek: 7. It is indeed a great and miraculous thing that, if we allow the body all the pleasures which nature needs and can bear, — or rather, if we struggle against its appetites on most occasions and put it off, and are at last brought with difficulty to yield to its necessities, or (as Plato saith) give way when it bites and strains itself, — after all we should come off without harm. But, on the other hand, Edition: current; Page: [257] those desires which descend from the mind into the body, and urge and force it to obey and accompany them in all their motions and affections, must of necessity leave behind them the greatest and severest ills, as the effects of such infirm and dark delights. The desire of our mind ought no ways to incite our bodies to any pleasure, for the beginning of this is against nature. And as the tickling of one’s armpits forces a laughter, which is neither moderate nor merry, nor indeed properly a laughter, but rather troublesome and like convulsions; so those pleasures which the molested and disturbed body receives from the mind are furious, troublesome, and wholly strangers to nature. Therefore when any rare or noble dish is before you, you will get more honor by refraining from it than partaking of it. Remember what Simonides said, that he never repented that he had held his tongue, but often that he had spoken; so we shall not repent that we have refused a good dish or drunk water instead of Falernian, but the contrary. We are not only to commit no violence on Nature; but when any of those things are offered to her, even if she has a desire for them, we ought oftentimes to direct the appetite to a more innocent and accustomed diet, that she may be used to it and acquainted with it; for as the Theban said (though not over honestly), If the law must be violated, it looks best when it is done for an empire.* But we say better, if we are to take pride in any such thing, it is best when it is in that moderation which conduces to our health. But a narrowness of soul and a stingy humor compel some men to keep under and defraud their genius at home, who, when they enjoy the costly fare of another man’s table, do cram themselves as eagerly as if it were all plunder; then they are taken ill, go home, and the next day find the crudity of their stomachs the reward of their unsatiableness. Wherefore Crates, supposing Edition: current; Page: [258] that luxury and prodigality were the chief cause of seditions and insurrections in a city, in a droll advises that we should never go beyond a lentil in our meals, lest we bring ourselves into sedition. But let every one exhort himself not to increase his meal beyond a lentil, and not to pass by cresses and olives and fall upon pudding and fish, that he may not by his over-eating bring his body into tumults, disturbances, and diarrhoeas; for a mean diet keeps the appetite within its natural bounds, but the arts of cooks and confectioners, with their elaborate dishes and aromatic sauces, do (according to the comedian) push forward and enlarge the bounds of pleasure, and entrench upon those of our profit. I know not how it comes to pass that we should abominate and hate those women that either bewitch or give philters to their husbands, and yet give our meat and drink to our slaves and hirelings, to all but corrupt and poison them. For though that may seem too severe which was said by Arcesilaus against lascivious and adulterous persons, that it signifies little which way one goes about such beastly work;* yet it is not much from our purpose. For what difference is there (to speak ingenuously) whether satyrion moves and whets my lust, or my taste is irritated by the scent of the meat or the sauce, so that, like a part infected with itch, it shall always need scratching and tickling?

ModernGreek: 8. But we shall perhaps discourse against pleasures in another place, and show the beauty and dignity that temperance has within itself; but our present discourse is in praise of many and great pleasures. For diseases do not either rob or spoil us of so much business, hope, journeys, or exercise, as they do of pleasure; so that it is no way convenient for those who would follow their pleasure to neglect their health. There are diseases which will permit a man to study philosophy and to exercise any military Edition: current; Page: [259] office, nay, to act the kingly part. But the pleasures and enjoyments of the body are such as cannot be born alive in the midst of a distemper or if they are, the pleasures they afford are not only short and impure, but mixed with much alloy, and they bear the marks of that storm and tempest out of which they rise. Venus herself delights not in a gorged, but in a calm and serene body; and pleasure is the end of that, as well as it is of meat and drink. Health is to pleasure as still weather to the halcyon, giving it a safe and commodious birth and nest. Prodicus seems elegantly enough to have said, that of all sauces fire was the best; but most true it is to say, that health gives things the most divine and grateful relish. For meat, whether it be boiled, roasted, or stewed, has no pleasure or gusto in it to a sick, surfeited, or nauseous stomach. But a clean and undebauched appetite renders every thing sweet and delightful to a sound body, and (as Homer expresses it) devourable.

ModernGreek: 9. As Demades told the Athenians, who unseasonably made war, that they never treated of peace but in mourning, so we never think of a moderate and slender diet but when we are in a fever or under a course of physic. But when we are in these extremities, we diligently conceal our enormities, though we remember them well enough; yet as many do, we lay the blame of our illness now upon the air, now upon the unhealthfulness of the place or the length of a journey, to take it off from that intemperance and luxury which was the cause of it. As Lysimachus, when he was among the Scythians and constrained by his thirst, delivered up himself and his army into captivity, but afterwards, drinking cold water, cried out, O ye Gods! for how short a pleasure have I thrown away a great felicity! — so in our sickness, we ought to consider with ourselves that, for the sake of a draught of cold water, an unseasonable bath, or good company, we spoil many of our delights as Edition: current; Page: [260] well as our honorable business, and lose many pleasant diversions. The remorse that arises from these considerations wounds the conscience, and sticks to us in our health like a scar, to make us more cautious as to our diet. For a healthful body does not breed any enormous appetite, or such as we cannot prevail with or overcome. But we ought to put on resolution against our extravagant desires or efforts towards enjoyment, esteeming it a low and childish thing to give ear to their complaints and murmurings; for they cease as soon as the cloth is taken away, and will neither accuse you of injustice, nor think you have done them wrong; but on the contrary, you will find them the next day pure and brisk, no way clogged or nauseating. As Timotheus said, when he had a light philosophic dinner the other day with Plato in the Academy, They who dine with Plato never complain the next morning. It is reported that Alexander said, when he had turned off his usual cooks, that he carried always better with him; for his journeys by night recommended his dinner to him, and the slenderness of his dinner recommended his supper.

ModernGreek: 10. I am not ignorant that fevers seize men upon a fatigue or excess of heat or cold. But as the scent of flowers, which in itself is but faint, if mixed with oil is more strong and fragrant; so an inward fulness gives, as it were, a body and substance to external causes and beginnings of sickness. For without this they could do no hurt, but would vanish and fade away if there were lowness of blood and pureness of spirit to receive the motion, which in fulness and superabundance, as in disturbed mud, makes all things polluted, troublesome, and hardly recoverable. We ought not to imitate the good mariner who out of covetousness loads his ship hard and afterwards labors hard to throw out the salt water, by first clogging and overcharging our bodies and endeavoring afterwards to clear them by purges and clysters; but we ought to keep our Edition: current; Page: [261] bodies in right order, that if at any time they should be oppressed, their lightness may keep them up like a cork.

ModernGreek: 11. We ought chiefly to be careful in all predispositions and forewarnings of sickness. For all distempers do not invade us, as Hesiod expresses it, —

In silence, — for the Gods have struck them dumb;*

but the most of them have ill digestion and a kind of a laziness, which are the forerunners and harbingers that give us warning. Sudden heaviness and weariness tell us a distemper is not far off, as Hippocrates affirms, by reason (it seems) of that fulness which doth oppress and load the spirit in the nerves. Some men, when their bodies all but contradict them and invite them to a couch and repose, through gluttony and love of pleasure throw themselves into a bath or make haste to some drinking meeting, as if they were laying in for a siege; being mightily in fear lest the fever should seize them before they have dined. Those who pretend to more elegance are not caught in this manner, but foolishly enough; for, being ashamed to own their qualms and debauch or to keep house all day, when others call them to go with them to the gymnasium, they arise and pull off their clothes with them, doing the same things which they do that are in health. Intemperance and effeminacy make many fly for patronage to the proverb, Wine is best after wine, and one debauch is the way to drive out another. This excites their hopes, and persuades and urges them to rise from their beds and rashly to fall to their wonted excesses. Against which hope he ought to set that prudent advice of Cato, when he says that great things ought to be made less, and the lesser to be quite left off; and that it is better to abstain to no purpose and be at quiet, than to run ourselves into hazard by forcing ourselves either to bath or dinner. For if there be any ill Edition: current; Page: [262] in it, it is an injury to us that we did not watch over ourselves and refrain; but if there be none, it is no inconvenience to your body to have abstained and be made more pure by it. He is but a child who is afraid lest his friends and servants should perceive that he is sick either of a surfeit or a debauch. He that is ashamed to confess the crudity of his stomach to-day will to-morrow with shame confess that he has either a diarrhoea, a fever, or the griping in the guts. You think it is a disgrace to want, but it is a greater disgrace to bear the crudity, heaviness, and fulness of your body, when it has to be carried into the bath, like a rotten and leaky boat into the sea. As some seamen are ashamed to live on shore when there is a storm at sea, yet when they are at sea lie shamefully crying and retching to vomit; so in any suspicion or tendency of the body to any disease, they think it an indecorum to keep their bed one day and not to have their table spread, yet most shamefully for many days together are forced to be purged and plastered, flattering and obeying their physicians, asking for wine or cold water, being forced to do and say many unseasonable and absurd things, by reason of the pain and fear they are in. Those therefore who cannot govern themselves on account of pleasures, but yield to their lusts and are carried away by them, may opportunely be taught and put in mind that they receive the greatest share of their pleasures from their bodies.

ModernGreek: 12. And as the Spartans gave the cook vinegar and salt, and bade him look for the rest in the victim, so in our bodies, the best sauce to whatsoever is brought before us is that our bodies are pure and in health. For any thing that is sweet or costly is so in its own nature and apart from any thing else; but it becomes sweet to the taste only when it is in a body which is delighted with it and which is disposed as nature doth require. But in those bodies which are foul, surfeited, and not pleased with it, it loses its beauty Edition: current; Page: [263] and convenience. Wherefore we need not be concerned whether fish be fresh or bread fine, or whether the bath be warm or your she-friend a beauty; but whether you are not squeamish and foul, whether you are not disturbed and do not feel the dregs of yesterday’s debauch. Otherwise it will be as when some drunken revellers break into a house where they are mourning, bringing neither mirth nor pleasure with them, but increasing the lamentation. So Venus, meats, baths, and wines, in a body that is crazy and out of order, mingled with what is vitiated and corrupted, stir up phlegm and choler, and create great trouble; neither do they bring any pleasure that is answerable to their expectations, or worth either enjoying or speaking of.

ModernGreek: 13. A diet which is very exact and precisely according to rule puts one’s body both in fear and danger; it hinders the gallantry of our soul itself, makes it suspicious of every thing or of having to do with any thing, no less in pleasures than in labors; so that it dares not undertake any thing boldly and courageously. We ought to do by our body as by the sail of a ship in fair and clear weather: — we must not contract it and draw it in too much, nor be too remiss or negligent about it when we have any suspicion upon us, but give it some allowance and make it pliable (as we have said), and not wait for crudities and diarrhoeas, or heat or drowsiness, by which some, as by messengers and apparitors, are frighted and moderate themselves when a fever is at hand; but we must long beforehand guard against the storm, as if the north wind blew at sea.

ModernGreek: 14. It is absurd, as Democritus says, by the croaking of ravens, the crowing of a cock, or the wallowing of a sow in the mire, carefully to observe the signs of windy or rainy weather, and not to prevent and guard ourselves against the motions and fluctuations of our bodies or the indication of a distemper, nor to understand the signs of a storm which is just ready to break forth within ourselves. So Edition: current; Page: [264] that we are not only to observe our bodies as to meat and exercise, whether they use them more sluggishly or unwillingly than they were wont; or whether we be more thirsty and hungry than we use to be; but we are also to take care as to our sleep, whether it be continued and easy, or whether it be irregular and convulsive. For absurd dreams and irregular and unusual fantasies show either abundance or thickness of humors, or else a disturbance of the spirits within. For the motions of the soul show that the body is nigh a distemper. For there are despondencies of mind and fears that are without reason or any apparent cause, which extinguish our hopes on a sudden. Some there are that are sharp and prone to anger, whom a little thing makes sad; and these cry and are in great trouble when ill vapors and fumes meet together and (as Plato says) are intermingled in the ways and passages of the soul. Wherefore those to whom such things happen must consider and remember, that even if there be nothing spiritual, there is some bodily cause which needs to be brought away and purged.

ModernGreek: 15. Besides, it is profitable for him who visits his friends in their sickness to enquire after the causes of it. Let us not sophistically or impertinently discourse about lodgements, irruptions of blood, and commonplaces, merely to show our skill in the terms of art which are used in medicine. But when we have with diligence heard such trivial and common things discoursed of as fulness or emptiness, weariness, lack of sleep, and (above all) the diet which the patient kept before he fell sick, then, — as Plato used to ask himself, after the miscarriage of other men he had been with, Am not I also such a one? — so ought we to take care by our neighbor’s misfortunes, and diligently to beware that we do not fall into them, and afterwards cry out upon our sick-bed, How precious above all other things is health! When another is in sickness, let it teach us Edition: current; Page: [265] how valuable a treasure health is, which we ought to keep and preserve with all possible care. Neither will it be amiss for every man to look into his own diet. If therefore we have been eating, drinking, laboring, or doing any thing to excess, and our bodies give us no suspicion or hint of a distemper, yet ought we nevertheless to stand upon our guard and take care of ourselves, — if it be after venery and labor, by giving of ourselves rest and quiet; if after drinking of wine and feasting, by drinking of water; but especially, after we have fed on flesh or solid meats or eaten divers things, by abstinence, that we may leave no superfluity in our bodies; for these very things, as they are the cause of many diseases, likewise administer matter and force to other causes. Wherefore it was very well said, that to eat — but not to satiety, to labor — but not to weariness, and to keep in nature, are of all things the most healthful. For intemperance in venery takes away that by which vigor our nourishment is elaborated, and causes more superfluity and redundance.

ModernGreek: 16. But we shall begin and treat of each of these, and first we shall discourse of those exercises which are proper for a scholar. And as he that said he should prescribe nothing for the teeth to them that dwelt by the seaside taught them the benefit of the sea-water, so one would think that there was no need of writing to scholars concerning exercise. For it is wonderful what an exercise the daily use of speech is, not only as to health but even to strength. I mean not fleshly and athletic health, or such as makes one’s external parts firm, like the outside of a house, but such as gives a right tone and inward vigor to the vital and noble parts. And that the vital spirit increases strength is made plain by them who anointed the wrestlers, who commanded them, when their limbs were rubbed, to withstand such frictions in some sort, in holding their wind, observing carefully those parts of the body Edition: current; Page: [266] which were smeared and rubbed.* Now the voice, being a motion of the spirit, not superficially but firmly seated in the bowels, as it were in a fountain, increases the heat, thins the blood, purges every vein, opens all the arteries, neither does it permit the coagulation or condensation of any superfluous humor, which would settle like dregs in those vessels which receive and work our nourishment. Wherefore we ought by much speaking to accustom ourselves to this exercise, and make it familiar to us; and if we suspect that our bodies are weaker or more tired than ordinary, by reading or reciting. For what riding in a coach is compared with bodily exercise, that is reading compared with disputing, if you carry your voice softly and low, as it were in the chariot of another man’s words. For disputes bring with them a vehemence and contention, adding the labor of the mind to that of the body. All passionate noise, and such as would force our lungs, ought to be avoided; for irregular and violent strains of our voice may break something within us, or bring us into convulsions. But when a student has either read or disputed, before he walks abroad, he ought to make use of a gentle and tepid friction, to open the pores of his body, as much as is possible, even to his very bowels, that so his spirits may gently and quietly diffuse themselves to the extreme parts of his body. The bounds that this friction ought not to exceed are, that it be done no longer than it is pleasant to our sense and without pain. For he that so allays the disturbance which is within himself and the agitation of his spirits will not be troubled by that superfluity which remains in him; and if it be unseasonable for to walk, or if his business hinder him, it is no great matter; for nature has already received satisfaction. Whether one be at sea or in a public inn, it is not necessary that he should be Edition: current; Page: [267] silent, though all the company laugh at him. For where it is no shame to eat, it is certainly no shame to exercise yourself; but it is worse to stand in awe of and be troubled with seamen, carriers, and innkeepers, that laugh at you not because you play at ball or fight a shadow, but because in your discourse you exercise yourself by teaching others, or by enquiring and learning something yourself, or else by calling to mind something. For Socrates said, he that uses the exercise of dancing had need have a room big enough to hold seven beds; but he that makes either singing or discourse his exercise may do it either standing or lying in any place. But this one thing we must observe, that when we are conscious to ourselves that we are too full, or have been concerned with Venus, or labored hard, we do not too much strain our voice, as so many rhetoricians and readers in philosophy do, some of whom out of glory and ambition, some for reward or private contentions, have forced themselves beyond what has been convenient. Our Niger, when he was teaching philosophy in Galatia, by chance swallowed the bone of a fish; but a stranger coming to teach in his place, Niger, fearing he might run away with his repute, continued to read his lectures, though the bone still stuck in his throat; from whence a great and hard inflammation arising, he, being unable to undergo the pain, permitted a deep incision to be made, by which wound the bone was taken out; but the wound growing worse, and rheum falling upon it, it killed him. But this may be mentioned hereafter in its proper place.

ModernGreek: 17. After exercise to use a cold bath is boyish, and has more ostentation in it than health; for though it may seem to harden our bodies and make them not so subject to outward accidents, yet it does more prejudice to the inward parts, by hindering transpiration, fixing the humors, and condensing those vapors which love freedom and transpiration. Besides, necessity will force those who use cold Edition: current; Page: [268] baths into that exact and accurate way of diet they would so much avoid, and make them take care they be not in the least extravagant, for every such error is sure to receive a bitter reproof. But a warm bath is much more pardonable, for it does not so much destroy our natural vigor and strength as it does conduce to our health, laying a soft and easy foundation for concoction, preparing those things for digestion which are not easily digested without any pain (if they be not very crude and deep lodged), and freeing us from all inward weariness. But when we do sensibly perceive our bodies to be indifferent well, or as they ought to be, we should omit bathing, and anoint ourselves by the fire; which is better if the body stand in need of heat, for it dispenses a warmth throughout. But we should make use of the sun more or less, as the temper of the air permits. So much may suffice to have been said concerning exercises.

ModernGreek: 18. As for what has been said of diet before, if any part of it be profitable in instructing us how we should allay and bring down our appetites, there yet remains one thing more to be advised: that if it be troublesome to treat one’s belly like one broke loose, and to contend with it though it has no ears (as Cato said), then ought we to take care that the quality of what we eat may make the quantity more light; and we should eat cautiously of such food as is solid and most nourishing (for it is hard always to refuse it), such as flesh, cheese, dried figs, and boiled eggs; but more freely of those things which are thin and light, such as moist herbs, fowl, and fish if it be not too fat; for he that eats such things as these may gratify his appetite, and yet not oppress his body. But ill digestion is chiefly to be feared after flesh, for it presently very much clogs us and leaves ill relics behind it. It would be best to accustom one’s self to eat no flesh at all, for the earth affords plenty enough of things fit not only for nourishment, but Edition: current; Page: [269] for delight and enjoyment; some of which you may eat without much preparation, and others you may make pleasant by adding divers other things to them. But since custom is almost a second nature, we may eat flesh, but not to the cloying of our appetites, like wolves or lions, but only to lay as it were a foundation and bulwark for our nourishment, — and then come to other meats and sauces which are more agreeable to the nature of our bodies and do less dull our rational soul, which seems to be enlivened by a light and brisk diet.

ModernGreek: 19. As for liquids, we should never make milk our drink, but rather take it as food, it yielding much solid nourishment. As for wine, we must say to it what Euripides said to Venus: —

  • Thy joys with moderation I would have,
  • And that I ne’er may want them humbly crave.

For wine is the most beneficial of all drinks, the pleasantest medicine in the world, and of all dainties the least cloying to the appetite, provided more regard be given to the opportunity of the time of drinking it than even to its being properly mixed with water. Water, not only when it is mixed with wine, but also if it be drunk by itself between mixed wine and water, makes the mingled wine the less hurtful. We should accustom ourselves therefore in our daily diet to drink two or three glasses of water, which will allay the strength of the wine, and make drinking of water familiar to our body, that so in a case of necessity it may not be looked on as a stranger, and we be offended at it. It so falls out, that some have then the greatest inclination for wine when there is most need they should drink water; for such men, when they have been exposed to great heat of the sun, or have fallen into a chill, or have been speaking vehemently, or have been more than ordinarily thoughtful about any thing, or after any fatigue or labor, are of the opinion that they ought to Edition: current; Page: [270] drink wine, as if nature required some repose for the body and some diversion after its labors. But nature requires no such repose (if you will call pleasure repose), but desires only such an alteration as shall be between pleasure and pain; in which case we ought to abate of our diet, and either wholly abstain from wine, or drink it allayed with very much mixture of water. For wine, being sharp and fiery, increases the disturbances of the body, exasperates them, and wounds the parts affected; which stand more in need of being comforted and smoothed, which water does the best of any thing. If, when we are not thirsty, we drink warm water after labor, exercise, or heat, we find our inward parts loosened and smoothed by it; for the moisture of water is gentle and not violent, but that of wine carries a great force in it, which is no ways agreeable in the fore-mentioned cases. And if any one should be afraid that abstinence would bring upon the body that acrimony and bitterness which some say it will, he is like those children who think themselves much wronged because they may not eat just before the fit of a fever. The best mean between both these is drinking of water. We oftentimes sacrifice to Bacchus himself without wine, doing very well in accustoming ourselves not to be always desirous of wine. Minos made the pipe and the crown be laid aside at the sacrifice when there was mourning. And yet we know an afflicted mind is not at all affected by either the pipe or crown; but there is no body so strong, to which, in commotion or a fever, wine does not do a great deal of injury.

ModernGreek: 20. The Lydians are reported in a famine to have spent one day in eating, and the next in sports and drollery. But a lover of learning and a friend to the Muses, when at any time he is forced to sup later than ordinary, will not be so much a slave to his belly as to lay aside a geographical scheme when it is before him, or his book, or his lyre; but Edition: current; Page: [271] strenuously turning himself, and taking his mind off from eating, he will in the Muses’ name drive away all such desires, as so many Harpies, from his table. Will not the Scythian in the midst of his cups oftentimes handle his bow and twang the string, thereby rousing up himself from that drunkenness in which he was immersed? Will a Greek be afraid, because he is laughed at, by books and letters gently to loosen and unbend any blind and obstinate desire? The young men in Menander, when they were drinking, were trepanned by a bawd, which brought in to them a company of handsome and richly attired women; but every one, as he said,

Cast down his eyes and fell to junketing, —

not one daring to look upon them. Lovers of learning have many fair and pleasant diversions, if they can no other way keep in their canine and brutish appetites when they see the table spread. The bawling of such fellows as anoint wrestlers, and the opinion of pedagogues that it hinders our nourishment and dulls one’s head to discourse of learning at table, are indeed of some force then, when we are called upon to solve a fallacy like the Indus or to dispute about the Kyrieuon at a feast. For though the pith of the palm-tree is very sweet, yet they say it will cause the headache. To discourse of logic at meals is not indeed a very delicious banquet, is rather troublesome, and pains one’s head; but if there be any who will not give us leave to discourse philosophically or ask any question or read any thing at table, though it be of those things which are not only decent and profitable but also pleasantly merry, we will desire them not to trouble us, but to talk in this style to the athletes in the Xystum and the Palaestra, who have laid aside their books and are wont to spend their whole time in jeers and scurrilous jests, being, as Aristo wittily expresses it, smooth and hard, like the pillars in the gymnasium. But we must Edition: current; Page: [272] obey our physicians, who advise us to keep some interval between supper and sleep, and not to heap up together a great deal of victuals in our stomachs and so shorten our breath (lest we presently by crude and fermenting aliment overcharge our digestion), but rather to take some space and breathing-time before we sleep. As those who have a mind to exercise themselves after supper do not do it by running or wrestling, but rather by gentle exercise, such as walking or dancing; so when we intend to exercise our minds after supper, we are not to do it with any thing of business or care, or with those sophistical disputes which bring us into a vain-glorious and violent contention. But there are many questions in natural philosophy which are easy to discuss and to decide; there are many disquisitions which relate to manners, which please the mind (as Homer expresses it) and do no way discompose it. Questions in history and poetry have been by some ingeniously called a second course to a learned man and a scholar. There are discourses which are no way troublesome; and, besides, fables may be told. Nay, it is easier to discourse of the pipe and lyre, or hear them discoursed of, than it is to hear either of them played on. The quantity of time allowed for this exercise is till our meat be gently settled within us, so that our digestion may have power enough to master it.

ModernGreek: 21. Aristotle is of opinion that to walk after supper stirs up our natural heat; but to sleep, if it be soon after, chokes it. Others again say that rest aids digestion, and that motion disturbs it. Hence some walk immediately after supper; others choose rather to keep themselves still. But that man seems to obtain the design of both, who cherishes and keeps his body quiet, not immediately suffering his mind to become heavy and idle, but (as has been said) gently distributing and lightening his spirits by either hearing or speaking some pleasant thing, such as will neither molest nor oppress him.

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ModernGreek: 22. Medicinal vomits and purges, which are the bitter reliefs of gluttony, are not to be attempted without great necessity. The manner of many is to fill themselves because they are empty, and again, because they are full, to empty themselves contrary to nature, being no less tormented with being full than being empty; or rather, they are troubled at their fulness, as being a hindrance of their appetite, and are always emptying themselves, that they may make room for new enjoyment. The damage in these cases is evident; for the body is disordered and torn by both these. It is an inconvenience that always attends a vomit, that it increases and gives nourishment to this insatiable humor. For it engenders hunger, as violent and turbulent as a roaring torrent, which continually annoys a man, and forces him to his meat, not like a natural appetite that calls for food, but rather like inflammation that calls for plasters and physic. Wherefore his pleasures are short and imperfect, and in the enjoyment are very furious and unquiet; upon which there come distentions, and affections of the pores; and retentions of the spirits, which will not wait for the natural evacuations, but run over the surface of the body, so that it is like an overloaded ship, where it is more necessary to throw something overboard than to take any thing more in. Those disturbances in our bellies which are caused by physic corrupt and consume our inward parts, and do rather increase our superfluous humors than bring them away; which is as if one that was troubled at the number of Greeks that inhabited the city, should call in the Arabians and Scythians.

Some are so much mistaken that, in order that they may void their customary and natural superfluities, they take Cnidian-berries or scammony, or some other harsh and incongruous physic, which is more fit to be carried away by purge than it is able to purge us. It is best therefore by a moderate and regular diet to keep our body in order, so Edition: current; Page: [274] that it may command itself as to fulness or emptiness. If at any time there be a necessity, we may take a vomit, but without physic or much tampering, and such a one as will not cause any great disturbance, only enough to save us from indigestion by casting up gently what is superfluous. For as linen cloths, when they are washed with soap and nitre, are more worn out than when they are washed with water only, so physical vomits corrupt and destroy the body. If at any time we are costive, there is no medicine better than some sort of food which will purge you gently and with ease, the trial of which is familiar to all, and the use without any pain. But if it will not yield to those, we may drink water for some days, or fast, or take a clyster, rather than take any troublesome purging physic; which most men are inclined to do, like that sort of women which take things on purpose to miscarry, that they may be empty and begin afresh.

ModernGreek: 23. But to be done with these, there are some on the other side who are too exact in enjoining themselves to periodical and set fasts, doing amiss in teaching nature to want coercion when there is no occasion for it, and making that abstinence necessary which is not so, and all this at times when nature requires her accustomed way of living. It is better to use those injunctions we lay upon our bodies with more freedom, even when we have no ill symptom or suspicion upon us; and so to order our diet (as has been said), that our bodies may be always obedient to any change, and not be enslaved or tied up to one manner of living, nor so exact in regarding the times, numbers, and periods of our actions. For it is a life neither safe, easy, politic, nor like a man, but more like the life of an oyster or the trunk of a tree, to live so without any variety, and in restraint as to our meat, abstinence, motion, and rest; casting ourselves into a gloomy, idle, solitary, unsociable, and inglorious way of living, far remote from the administration Edition: current; Page: [275] of the state, — at least (I may say) in my opinion.

ModernGreek: 24. For health is not to be purchased by sloth and idleness, for those are chief inconveniences of sickness; and there is no difference between him who thinks to enjoy his health by idleness and quiet, and him who thinks to preserve his eyes by not using them, and his voice by not speaking. For such a man’s health will not be any advantage to him in the performance of many things he is obliged to do as a man. Idleness can never be said to conduce to health, for it destroys the very end of it. Nor is it true that they are the most healthful that do least. For Xenocrates was not more healthful than Phocion, or Theophrastus than Demetrius. It signified nothing to Epicurus or his followers, as to that so much talked of good habit of body, that they declined all business, though it were never so honorable. We ought to preserve the natural constitution of our bodies by other means, knowing every part of our life is capable of sickness and health.

The contrary advice to that which Plato gave his scholars is to be given to those who are concerned in public business. For he was wont to say, whenever he left his school; Go to, my boys, see that you employ your leisure in some honest sport and pastime. Now to those that are in public office our advice is, that they bestow their labor on honest and necessary things, not tiring their bodies with small or inconsiderable things. For most men upon accident torment themselves with watchings, journeyings, and running up and down, for no advantage and with no good design, but only that they may do others an injury, or because they envy them or are competitors with them, or because they hunt after unprofitable and empty glory. To such as these I think Democritus chiefly spoke, when he said, that if the body should summon the soul before a court on an action for ill-treatment, the soul would lose the Edition: current; Page: [276] case. And perhaps on the other hand Theophrastus spoke well, when he said metaphorically, that the soul pays a dear house-rent to its landlord the body. But still the body is very much more inconvenienced by the soul, when it is used beyond reason and there is not care enough taken of it. For when it is in passion, action, or any concern, it does not at all consider the body. Jason, being somewhat out of humor, said, that in little things we ought not to stand upon justice, so that in greater things we may be sure to do it. We, and that in reason, advise any public man to trifle and play with little things, and in such cases to indulge himself, so that in worthy and great concerns he may not bring a dull, tired, and weary body, but one that is the better for having lain still, like a ship in the dock, that when the soul has occasion again to call it into business, “it may run with her, like a sucking colt with the mare.”

ModernGreek: 25. Upon which account, when business gives us leave, we ought to refresh our bodies, grudging them neither sleep nor dinner nor that ease which is the medium between pain and pleasure; not taking that course which most men do, who thereby wear out their bodies by the many changes they expose them to, making them like hot iron thrown into cold water, by softening and troubling them with pleasures, after they have been very much strained and oppressed with labor. And on the other side, after they have opened their bodies and made them tender either by wine or venery, they exercise them either at the bar or at court, or enter upon some other business which requires earnest and vigorous action. Heraclitus, when he was in a dropsy, desired his physician to bring a drought upon his body, for it had a glut of rain. Most men are very much in the wrong who, after being tired or having labored or fasted, moisten (as it were) and dissolve their bodies in pleasure, and again force and distend them Edition: current; Page: [277] after those pleasures. Nature does not require that we should make the body amends at that rate. But an intemperate and slavish mind, so soon as it is free from labor, like a sailor, runs insolently into pleasures and delights, and again falls upon business, so that nature can have no rest or leave to enjoy that temper and calmness which it does desire, but is troubled and tormented by all this irregularity. Those that have any discretion never so much as offer pleasure to the body when it is laboring, — for at such times they do not require it at all, — nor do they so much as think of it, their minds being intent upon that employ they are in, either the delight or diligence of the soul getting the mastery over all other desires. Epaminondas is reported wittily to have said of a good man that died about the time of the battle of Leuctra, How came he to have so much leisure as to die, when there was so much business stirring? It may truly be asked concerning a man that is either of public employ or a scholar, What time can such a man spare, either to debauch his stomach or be drunk or lascivious? For such men, after they have done their business, allow quiet and repose to their bodies, reckoning not only unprofitable pains but unnecessary pleasures to be enemies to nature, and avoiding them as such.

ModernGreek: 26. I have heard that Tiberius Caesar was wont to say, that he was a ridiculous man that held forth his hand to a physician after sixty. But it seems to me to be a little too severely said. But this is certain, that every man ought to have skill in his own pulse, for it is very different in every man; neither ought he to be ignorant of the temper of his own body, as to heat and cold, or what things do him good, and what hurt. For he has no sense, and is both a blind and lame inhabitant of his body, that must learn these things from another, and must ask his physicians whether it is better with him in winter or summer; Edition: current; Page: [278] or whether moist or dry things agree best with him, or whether his pulse be frequent or slow. For it is necessary and easy to know such things by custom and experience. It is convenient to understand more what meats and drinks are wholesome than what are pleasant, and to have more skill in what is good for the stomach than in what seems good to the mouth, and in those things that are easy of digestion than in those that gratify our palate. For it is no less scandalous to ask a physician what is easy and what is hard of digestion, and what will agree with your stomach and what not, than it is to ask what is sweet, and what bitter, and what sour. They nowadays correct their cooks, being able well enough to tell what is too sweet, too salt, or too sour, but themselves do not know what will be light or easy of digestion, and agreeable to them. Therefore in the seasoning of broth they seldom err, but they do so scurvily pickle themselves every day as to afford work enough for the physician. For that pottage is not accounted best that is the sweetest, but they mingle bitter and sweet together. But they force the body to partake of many, and those cloying pleasures, either not knowing, or not remembering, that to things that are good and wholesome nature adds a pleasure unmingled with any regret or repentance afterward. We ought also to know what things are cognate and convenient to our bodies, and be able to direct a proper diet to any one upon any change of weather or other circumstance.

ModernGreek: 27. As for those inconveniences which sordidness and poverty bring upon many, as gathering of fruit, continual labor, and running about, and want of rest, which fall heavy upon the weaker parts of the body and such as are inwardly infirm, we need not fear that any man of employ or scholar — to whom our present discourse belongs — should be troubled with them. But there is a severe sort of sordidness as to their studies, which they ought to avoid, by which Edition: current; Page: [279] they are forced many times to neglect their body, oftentimes denying it a supply when it has done its work, making the mortal part of us do its share in work as well as the immortal, and the earthly part as much as the heavenly. But, as the ox said to his fellow-servant the camel, when he refused to ease him of his burthen, It won’t be long before you carry my burthen and me too: which fell out to be true, when the ox died. So it happens to the mind, when it refuses that little relaxation and comfort which it needs in its labor; for a little while after a fever or vertigo seizes us, and then reading, discoursing, and disputing must be laid aside, and it is forced to partake of the body’s distemper. Plato therefore rightly exhorts us not to employ the mind without the body, nor the body without the mind, but to drive them equally like a pair of horses; and when at any time the body toils and labors with the mind, then to be the more careful of it, and thus to gain its well-beloved health, believing that it obliges us with the best of things when it is no impediment to our knowledge and enjoyment of virtue, either in business or discourse.

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ModernGreek: 1. Not to mention, Cornelius Pulcher, your gentle as well as skilful administration of public affairs, for which goodness and humanity you have gotten an interest in mankind, we clearly perceive that in your private conversation you have made a quiet and peaceable way of living your choice and continual practice. By this means you are justly esteemed a useful member of the commonwealth in general, and also a friendly affable companion to those who familiarly converse with you, as being a person free from all sour, rough, and peevish humors. For, as it is said of Crete, we may by great chance discover one single region of the world that never afforded any dens or coverts for wild beasts. But through the long succession of ages, even to this time, there scarce ever was a state or kingdom that hath not suffered under envy, hatred, emulation, the love of strife, fierce and unruly passions, of all others the most productive of enmity and ill-will among men. Nay, if nothing else will bring it to pass, familiarity will at last breed contempt, and the very friendship of men doth frequently draw them into quarrels, that prove sharp and sometimes implacable. Which that wise man Chilo did well understand, who, when he heard another assert that he had no enemy, asked him very pertinently whether he had no friend. In my judgment therefore it is absolutely necessary that a man, especially if he sit at the Edition: current; Page: [281] helm and be engaged to steer the government, should watchfully observe every posture and motion of his enemy, and subscribe to Xenophon’s opinion in this case; who hath set it down as a maxim of the greatest wisdom, that a man should make the best advantage he can of him that is his adversary.

Wherefore, having lately determined to write somewhat on this argument, I have now gathered together all my scattered thoughts and meditations upon it, which I have sent to you, digested into as plain a method as I could; forbearing all along to mention those observations I have heretofore made and written in my Political Precepts, because I know you have that treatise at your hand, and often under your eye.

ModernGreek: 2. Our ancestors were well satisfied and content if they could safely guard themselves from the violent incursions of wild beasts, and this was the end and object of all their contests with these creatures. But their posterity have laid down their weapons of defence, and have invented a quite contrary use of them, making them serviceable to some of the chief ends of human life. For their flesh serves for food, and their hair for clothing; medicines and antidotes are devised out of their entrails; and their skins are converted into armor. So that we may upon good grounds fear that, if these supplies should fail, their manner of life would appear savage, destitute of convenient food and raiment, barbarous and naked.

Although we receive these benefits and comforts from the very beasts, yet some men suppose themselves happy and secure enough, provided they escape all harm from enemies, not regarding Xenophon’s judgment, whom they ought to credit in this matter, that every man endowed with common sense and understanding may, if he please, make his opposites very useful and profitable to him.

Because then we cannot live in this world out of the Edition: current; Page: [282] neighborhood of such as will continually labor to do us injury or oppose us, let us search out some way whereby this advantage and profit from enemies may be acquired.

The best experienced gardener cannot so change the nature of every tree, that it shall yield pleasant and welltasted fruit; neither can the craftiest huntsman tame every beast. One therefore makes the best use he can of his trees, the other of his beast; although the first perhaps are barren and dry, the latter wild and ungovernable. So seawater is unwholesome and not to be drunk; yet it affords nourishment to all sorts of fish, and serves as it were for a chariot to convey those who visit foreign countries. The Satyr would have kissed and embraced the fire the first time he saw it; but Prometheus bids him take heed, else he might have cause to lament the loss of his beard,* if he came too near that which burns all it touches. Yet this very fire is a most beneficial thing to mankind; it bestows upon us the blessings both of light and heat, and serves those who know how to use it for the most excellent instrument of mechanic arts. Directed by these examples, we may be able to take right measures of our enemies, considering that by one handle or other we may lay hold of them for the use and benefit of our lives; though otherwise they may appear very untractable and hurtful to us.

There are many things which, when we have obtained them by much labor and sweat, become nauseous, ungrateful, and directly contrary to our inclinations; but there are some (you know) who can turn the very indispositions of their bodies into an occasion of rest and freedom from business. And hard pains that have fallen upon Edition: current; Page: [283] many men have rendered them only the more robust through vigorous exercise. There are others who, as Diogenes and Crates did, have made banishment from their native country and loss of all their goods a means to pass out of a troublesome world into the quiet and serene state of philosophy and mental contemplation. So the Stoic Zeno welcomed the good fortune, when he heard the ship was broken wherein his adventures were, because she had reduced him to a torn coat, to the safety and innocence of a mean and low condition. For as some creatures of strong constitutions eat serpents and digest them well, — nay, there are some whose stomachs can by a strange powerful heat concoct shells or stones, — while on the contrary, there are the weak and diseased, who loathe even bread and wine, the most agreeable and best supports of human life; so the foolish and inconsiderate spoil the very friendships they are engaged in, but the wise and prudent make good use of the hatred and enmity of men.

ModernGreek: 3. To those then who are discreet and cautious, the most malignant and worst part of enmity becomes advantageous and useful. But what is this you talk of all this while? An enemy is ever diligent and watchful to contrive stratagems and lay snares for us, not omitting any opportunity whereby he may carry on his malicious purposes. He lays siege to our whole life, and turns spy into the most minute action of it; not as Lynceus is said to look into oaks and stones, but by arts of insinuation he gets to the knowledge of our secrets, by our bosom friend, domestic servant, and intimate acquaintance. As much as possibly he can, he enquires what we have done, and labors to dive into the most hidden counsels of our minds. Nay, our friends do often escape our notice, either when they die or are sick, because we are careless and neglect them; but we are apt to examine and pry curiously almost into the very dreams of our enemies.

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Now our enemy (to gratify his ill-will towards us) doth acquaint himself with the infirmities both of our bodies and mind, with the debts we have contracted, and with all the differences that arise in our families, all which he knows as well, if not better, than ourselves. He sticks fast to our faults, and chiefly makes his invidious remarks upon them. Nay, our most depraved affections, that are the worst distempers of our minds, are always the subjects of his inquiry; just as vultures pursue putrid flesh, noisome and corrupted carcasses, because they have no perception of those that are sound and in health. So our enemies catch at our failings, and then they spread them abroad by uncharitable and ill-natured reports.

Hence we are taught this useful lesson for the direction and management of our conversations in the world, that we be circumspect and wary in every thing we speak or do, as if our enemy always stood at our elbow and overlooked every action. Hence we learn to lead blameless and inoffensive lives. This will beget in us vehement desires and earnest endeavors of restraining disorderly passions. This will fill our minds with good thoughts and meditations, and with strong resolutions to proceed in a virtuous and harmless course of life.

For as those commonwealths and cities know best how to value the happiness of having good and wholesome laws, and most admire and love the safety of a quiet and peaceable constitution of things, which have been harassed by wars with their neighbors or by long expeditions; so those persons who have been brought to live soberly by the fear and awe of enemies, who have learned to guard against negligence and idleness, and to do every thing with a view to some profitable end, are by degrees (they know not how) drawn into a habit of living so as to offend nobody, and their manners are composed and fixed in their obedience to virtue by custom and use, with very little help from the Edition: current; Page: [285] reason. For they always carry in their minds that saying of Homer, if we act any thing amiss,

Priam will laugh at us, and all his brood;

our enemies will please themselves and scoff at our defects; therefore we will do nothing that is ridiculous, sinful, base, or ignoble, lest we become a laughing-stock to such as do not love us.

In the theatre we often see great artists in music and singing very supine and remiss, doing nothing as they should, whilst they play or sing alone; but whenever they challenge one another and contend for mastery, they do not only rouse up themselves, but they tune their instruments more carefully, they are more curious in the choice of their strings, and they try their notes in frequent and more harmonious consorts. Just so a man who hath an adversary perpetually to rival him in the well ordering of his life and reputation is thereby rendered more prudent in what he does, looks after his actions more circumspectly, and takes as much care of the accurateness of them as the musician does of his lute or organ. For evil hath this peculiar quality in it, that it dreads an enemy more than a friend. For this cause Nasica, when some thought the Roman affairs were established for ever in peace and safety, after they had razed Carthage and enslaved Greece, declared that even then they were in the greatest danger of all and most likely to be undone, because there were none left whom they might still fear and stand in some awe of.

ModernGreek: 4. And here may be inserted that wise and facetious answer of Diogenes to one that asked him how he might be revenged of his enemy: The only way, says he, to gall and fret him effectually is for yourself to appear a good and honest man. The common people are generally envious and vexed in their minds, as oft as they see the cattle of those they have no kindness for, their dogs, or their horses, in a thriving condition; they sigh, fret, set their Edition: current; Page: [286] teeth, and show all the tokens of a malicious temper, when they behold their fields well tilled, or their gardens adorned and beset with flowers. If these things make them so restless and uneasy, what dost thou think they would do, what a torment would it be to them, if thou shouldst demonstrate thyself in the face of the world to be in all thy carriage a man of impartial justice, a sound understanding, unblamable integrity, of a ready and eloquent speech, sincere and upright in all your dealings, sober and temperate in all that you eat or drink;

  • While from the culture of a prudent mind,
  • Harvests of wise and noble thought you reap.*

Those that are conquered, saith Pindar, must seal up their lips; they dare not open their mouths, no, not even to mutter. But all men in these circumstances are not so restrained; but such chiefly as come behind their opposites in the practice of diligence, honesty, greatness of mind, humanity, and beneficence. These are beautiful and glorious virtues, as Demosthenes says, that are too pure and great to be touched by an ill tongue, that stop the mouths of backbiters, choke them and command them to be silent. Make it thy business therefore to surpass the base; for this surely thou canst do. If we would vex them that hate us, we must not reproach our adversary for an effeminate and debauched person, or one of a boorish and filthy conversation; but instead of throwing this dirt, we ourselves must be remarkable for a steady virtue and a well-governed behavior; we must speak the truth, and carry ourselves civilly and justly towards all who hold any correspondence or maintain any commerce with us. But if at any time a man is so transported by passion as to utter any bitter words, he must take heed that he himself be not Edition: current; Page: [287] chargeable for those crimes for which he upbraids others; he must descend into himself, examine and cleanse his own breast, that no putrefaction nor rottenness be lodged there; otherwise he will be condemned as the physician is by the tragedian: —

Wilt thou heal others, thou thyself being full of sores?*

If a man should jeer you and say that you are a dunce and illiterate, upon this motive you ought to apply your mind to the taking of pains in the study of philosophy and all kinds of learning. If he abuses you for a coward, then raise up your mind to a courageous manliness and an undaunted boldness of spirit. If he tells you you are lascivious and wanton, this scandal may be wiped off by having your mind barred up against all impressions of lust, and your discourse free from the least obscenity. These are allowable returns, and the most cutting strokes you can give your enemy; there being nothing that carries in it more vexation and disgrace, than that scandalous censures should fall back upon the head of him who was the first author of them. For as the beams of the sun reverberated do most severely affect and punish weak eyes, so those calumnies are most vexatious and intolerable which truth retorts back upon their first broachers. For as the north-east wind gathers clouds, so does a vicious life gather unto itself opprobrious speeches.

ModernGreek: 5. Insomuch that Plato, when he was in company with any persons that were guilty of unhandsome actions, was wont thus to reflect upon himself and ask this question, Am I of the like temper and disposition with these men? In like manner, whosoever passes a hard censure upon another man’s life should presently make use of self-examination, and enquire what his own is; by which means he will come to know what his failings are, and how to amend Edition: current; Page: [288] them. Thus the very censures and backbitings of his enemy will redound to his advantage, although in itself this censorious humor is a very vain, empty, and useless thing. For every one will laugh at and deride that man who is humpbacked and baldpated, while at the same time he makes sport with the natural deformities of his brethren; it being a very ridiculous unaccountable thing to scoff at another for those very imperfections for which you yourself may be abused. As Leo Byzantinus replied upon the humpbacked man, who in drollery reflected on the weakness of his eyes, You mock me for a human infirmity, but you bear the marks of divine vengeance on your own back.

Wherefore no man should arraign another of adultery, when he himself is addicted to a more bestial vice. Neither may one man justly accuse another of extravagance or looseness, when he himself is stingy and covetous. Alcmaeon told Adrastus, that he was near akin to a woman that killed her husband; to which Adrastus gave a very pat and sharp answer, — Thou with thy own hands didst murder thy mother.* After the same sarcastical way of jesting did Domitius ask Crassus whether he did not weep for the death of the lamprey that was bred in his fish-pond; to which Crassus makes this present reply, — But have I not heard that you did not weep when you carried out three wives to their burial.

Whence we may infer that it behooves every man who takes upon him to correct or censure another not to be too clamorous or merry upon his faults, but to be guilty of no such crime as may expose him to the chastisement and reproach of others. For the great God seems to have given that commandment of Know thyself to those men more especially who are apt to make remarks upon other men’s actions and forget themselves. So, as Sophocles hath well observed, They often hear that which they would not, because Edition: current; Page: [289] they allow themselves the liberty of talking what they please.

ModernGreek: 6. This is the use that may be lawfully made of censuring and judging our enemies; that we may be sure we are not culpable for the same misdemeanors which we condemn in them. On the contrary, we may reap no less advantage from our being judged and censured by our enemies. In this case Antisthenes spake incomparably well, that if a man would lead a secure and blameless life, it was necessary that he should have either very ingenuous and honest friends, or very furious enemies, because the first would keep him from sinning by their kind admonitions, the latter by their evil words and vehement invectives.

But for as much as in these times friendship is grown almost speechless, and hath left off that freedom it did once use, since it is loquacious in flattery and dumb in admonition, therefore we must expect to hear truth only from the mouths of enemies. As Telephus, when he could find no physician that he could confide in as his friend, thought his adversary’s lance would most probably heal his wound; so he that hath no friend to give him advice and to reprove him in what he acts amiss must bear patiently the rebukes of an enemy, and thereby learn to amend the errors of his ways; considering seriously the object which these severe censures aim at, and not what the person is who makes them. For as he who designed the death of Prometheus the Thessalian, instead of giving the fatal blow, only lanced a swelling that he had, which did really preserve his life and free him from the hazard of approaching death; just so may the harsh reprehensions of enemies cure some distempers of the mind that were before either unknown or neglected, though these angry speeches do originally proceed from malice and ill-will. But many, when they are accused of a crime, do not consider whether they are guilty of the matter alleged against them, but are rather Edition: current; Page: [290] solicitous whether the accuser hath nothing that may be laid to his charge; like the combatants in a match at wrestling, they take no care to wipe off the dirt that sticks upon them, but they go on to besmear one another, and in their mutual strugglings they wallow and tumble into more dirt and filthiness.

It is a matter of greater importance and concern to a man when he is lashed by the slanders of an enemy, by living virtuously to prevent and avert all objections that may be made his life, than it is to scour the spots out of his clothes when they are shown him. And even if any man with opprobrious language object to you crimes you know nothing of, you ought to enquire into the causes and reasons of such false accusations, that you may learn to take heed for the future and be very wary, lest unwittingly you should commit those offences that are unjustly attributed to you, or something that comes near them. Lacydes, king of the Argives, was abused as an effeminate person, because he wore his hair long, used to dress himself neatly, and his mien was finical. So Pompey, though he was very far from any effeminate softness, yet was reflected upon and jeered for being used to scratch his head with one of his fingers. Crassus also suffered much in the like kind, because sometimes he visited a vestal virgin and showed great attention to her, having a design to purchase of her a little farm that lay conveniently for him. So Postumia was suspected of unchaste actions, and was even brought to trial, because she would often be very cheerful and discourse freely in men’s company. But she was found clear of all manner of guilt in that nature. Nevertheless at her dismission, Spurius Minucius the Pontifex Maximus gave her this good admonition, that her words should be always as pure, chaste, and modest as her life was. Themistocles, though he had offended in nothing, yet was suspected of treachery with Pausanias, because he Edition: current; Page: [291] corresponded familiarly with him, and used every day to send him letters and messengers.

ModernGreek: 7. Whenever then any thing is spoken against you that is not true, do not pass it by or despise it because it is false, but forthwith examine yourself, and consider what you have said or done, what you have ever undertaken, or what converse you have ever had that may have given likelihood to the slander; and when this is discovered, decline for the future all things that may provoke any reproachful or foul language from others.

For if troubles and difficulties, into which some men fall either by chance or through their own inadvertency and rashness, may teach others what is fit and safe for them to do, — as Merope says,

  • Fortune hath taken for her salary
  • My dearest goods, but wisdom she hath given;*

why should not we take an enemy for our tutor, who will instruct us gratis in those things we knew not before? For an enemy sees and understands more in matters relating to us than our friends do; because love is blind, as Plato says, in discerning the imperfections of the thing beloved. But spite, malice, ill-will, wrath, and contempt talk much, are very inquisitive and quick-sighted. When Hiero was upbraided by his enemy for having a stinking breath, he returned home and demanded of his wife why she had not acquainted him with it. The innocent good woman makes this answer: I thought all men’s breath had that smell. For those things in men that are conspicuous to all are sooner understood from the information of enemies than from that of friends and acquaintance.

ModernGreek: 8. Furthermore, an exact government of the tongue is a strong evidence of a good mind, and no inconsiderable part of virtue. But since every man naturally is desirous to propagate his conceits, and without a painful force cannot Edition: current; Page: [292] smother his resentments, it is no easy task to keep this unruly member in due subjection, unless such an impetuous affection as anger be thoroughly subdued by much exercise, care, and study. For such things as “saying let fall against our will,” or “a word flying by the range of our teeth,”* or “a speech escaping us by accident,” are all likely to happen to those whose ill-exercised minds (as it were) fall and waste away, and whose course of life is licentious; and we may attribute this to hasty passion or to unsettled judgment. For divine Plato tells us that for a word, which is the lightest of all things, both Gods and men inflict the heaviest penalties. But silence, which can never be called to account, doth not only, as Hippocrates hath observed, extinguish thirst, but it bears up against all manner of slanders with the constancy of Socrates and the courage of Hercules, who was no more concerned than a fly at what others said or did. Now it is certainly not grander or better than this for a man to bear silently and quietly the revilings of an enemy, taking care not to provoke him, as if he were swimming by a dangerous rock; but the practice is better. For whosoever is thus accustomed to endure patiently the scoffs of an enemy will, without any disturbance or trouble, bear with the chidings of a wife, the rebukes of a friend, or the sharper reproofs of a brother. When a father or mother corrects you, you will not be refractory or stubborn under the rod. Xanthippe, though she was a woman of a very angry and troublesome spirit, could never move Socrates to a passion. By being used to bear patiently this heavy sufferance at home, he was ever unconcerned, and not in the least moved by the most scurrilous and abusive tongues he met withal abroad. For it is much better to overcome boisterous passions and to bring the mind into a calm and even frame of spirit, by contentedly undergoing Edition: current; Page: [293] the scoffs, outrages, and affronts of enemies, than to be stirred up to choler or revenge by the worst they can say or do.

ModernGreek: 9. Thus we may show a meek and gentle temper and a submissive bearing of evil in our enmities; and even integrity, magnanimity, and goodness of disposition are also more conspicuous here than in friendship. For it is not so honorable and virtuous to do a friend a kindness, as it is unworthy and base to omit this good office when he stands in need; but it is an eminent piece of humanity, and a manifest token of a nature truly generous, to put up with the affronts of an enemy when you have a fair opportunity to revenge them. For if any one sympathizes with his enemy in his affliction, relieves him in his necessities, and is ready to assist his sons and family if they desire it, any one that will not love this man for his compassion, and highly commend him for his charity, “must have a black heart made of adamant or iron,” as Pindar says.

When Caesar made an edict that the statues of Pompey which were tumbled down should be rebuilt and restored to their former beauty and magnificence, Tully tells him that by setting up again Pompey’s statues he has erected one for himself, an everlasting monument of praise and honor to after ages. So that we must give to every one his due, to an enemy such respect and honor as he truly deserves. Thus a man that praises his enemy for his real deserts shall himself obtain the more honor by it; and whenever he shall correct or censure him, he will be credited in what he does, because every one will believe that he does it out of a dislike and just abhorrence of his vice and not of his person.

By this practice we shall be brought at length to perform the most honorable and worthy actions; for he who is wont to praise and speak the best things of his enemies will never repine at the prosperity or success of his friends Edition: current; Page: [294] and acquaintance; he is never troubled, but rather rejoices, when they thrive and are happy. And what virtue can any man exercise that will be more profitable and delightful to him than this, which takes away from him the bitterness of malice, and doth not only break the teeth of envy, but, by teaching him to rejoice at another man’s felicity, doth double his own enjoyment and satisfaction. As in war many things, although they are bad and evil in themselves, yet have become necessary, and by long custom and prescription have obtained the validity of a law, so that it is not easy to root them out, even by those who thereby suffer much harm; just so doth enmity usher in the mind a long train of vices, meagre envy coupled with grim hatred, restless jealousy and suspicion, unnatural joy at other men’s miseries, and a long remembrance of injuries. Fraud, deceit, and snares, joined to these forces of wickedness, work infinite mischief in the world, yet they appear as no evils at all when they are exerted against an enemy. By this means they make a deep entrance into the mind; they get fast hold of it, and are hardly shaken off. So that, unless we forbear the practice of these ill qualities towards our enemies, they will by frequent acts become so habitual to us, that we shall be apt to make use of them to the manifest wrong and injury of our friends. Wherefore, if Pythagoras was highly esteemed for instructing his disciples to avoid all manner of cruelty against beasts themselves, — so that he himself would redeem them out of their captivity in either the fowler’s or the fisherman’s net, and forbade his followers to kill any creature, — it is surely much better and more manly in our differences with men to show ourselves generous, just, and detesters of all falsehood, and to moderate and correct all base, unworthy, and hurtful passions; that in all our conversation with our friends we may be open-hearted, and that we may not seek to overreach or deceive others in any of our dealings.

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For Scaurus was a professed enemy and an open accuser of Domitius; whereupon a treacherous servant of Domitius comes to Scaurus before the cause was to be heard, and tells him that he has a secret to communicate to him in relation to the present suit, which he knows not of, and which may be very advantageous on his side. Yet Scaurus would not permit him to speak a word, but apprehended him, and sent him back to his master. And when Cato was prosecuting Murena for bribery, and was collecting evidence to support his charge, he was accompanied (according to custom) by certain persons in the interest of the defendant, who watched his transactions. These often asked him in the morning, whether he intended on that day to collect evidence or make other preparation for the trial; and so soon as he told them he should not, they put such trust in him that they went their way. This was a plain demonstration of the extraordinary deference and honor they paid to Cato; but a far greater testimony, and one surpassing all the rest, is it to prove that, if we accustom ourselves to deal justly and uprightly with our enemies, then we shall not fail to behave ourselves so towards our friends.

ModernGreek: 10. Simonides was wont to say that there was no lark without its crest; so the disposition of men is naturally pregnant with strife, suspicion, and envy, which last (as Pindar observes) is “the companion of empty-brained men.” Therefore no man can do any thing that will tend more to his own profit and the preservation of his peace than utterly to purge out of his mind these corrupt affections, and cast them off as the very sink of all iniquity, that they may create no more mischief between him and his friends. This Onomademus, a judicious and wise man, understood well, who, when he was of the prevailing side in a civil commotion at Chios, gave this counsel to his friends, that they should not quite destroy or drive away Edition: current; Page: [296] those of the adverse party, but let some abide there, for fear they should begin to fall out among themselves as soon as their enemies were all out of the way. Therefore, if these uneasy dispositions of the mind be spent and consumed upon enemies, they would never molest or disquiet our friends. Neither doth Hesiod approve of one potter or one singer’s envying another, or that a neighbor or relation or brother should resent it ill that another prospers and is successful in the world.* But if there be no other way whereby we may be delivered from emulation, envy, or contention, we may suffer our minds to vent these passions upon the prosperity of our enemies, and whet the edge and sharpen the point of our anger upon them. For as gardeners that have knowledge and experience in plants expect their roses and violets should grow the better by being set near leeks and onions, — because all the sour juices of the earth are conveyed into these, — so an enemy by attracting to himself our vicious and peevish qualities, may render us less humorsome and more candid and ingenuous to our friends that are in a better or more happy state than ourselves.

Wherefore let us enter the lists with our enemies, and contend with them for true glory, lawful empire, and just gain. Let us not so much debase ourselves as to be troubled and fret at any possessions they enjoy more than we have. Let us rather carefully observe those good qualities wherein our enemies excel us, so that by these motives we may be excited to outdo them in honest diligence, indefatigable industry, prudent caution, and exemplary sobriety; as Themistocles complained that the victory Miltiades got at Marathon would not let him sleep. But whosoever views his adversary exalted far above him in dignities, in pleading of great causes, in administration of state affairs, or in favor and friendship with princes, and doth not put forth Edition: current; Page: [297] all his strength and power to get before him in these things, — this man commonly pines away, and by degrees sinks into the sloth and misery of an envious and inactive life. And we may observe, that envy and hatred do raise such clouds in the understanding, that a man shall not be able to pass a right judgment concerning things which he hates; but whosoever with an impartial eye beholds, and with a sincere mind judges, the life and manners, discourses, and actions of his enemy, will soon understand that many of those things that raise his envy were gotten by honest care, a discreet providence, and virtuous deeds. Thus the love of honorable and brave actions may be kindled and advanced in him, and an idle and lazy course of life may be contemned and forsaken.

ModernGreek: 11. But if our enemies arrive at high places in the courts of princes by flattery or frauds, by bribery or gifts, we should not be troubled at it, but should rather be pleased in comparing our undisguised and honest way of living with theirs which is quite contrary. For Plato, who was a competent judge, was of opinion that virtue was a more valuable treasure than all the riches above the earth or all the mines beneath it. And we ought evermore to have in readiness this saying of Solon:* But we will not give up our virtue in exchange for their wealth. So will we never give up our virtue for the applause of crowded theatres, which may be won by a feast, nor for the loftiest seats among eunuchs, concubines, and royal satraps. For nothing that is worth any one’s appetite, nothing that is handsome or becoming a man, can proceed from that which is in itself evil and base. But, as Plato repeats once and again, the lover cannot see the faults of the thing or person that he loves, and we apprehend soonest what our enemies do amiss; therefore we must let neither our joy at their miscarriages nor our sorrow at their successes Edition: current; Page: [298] be idle and useless to ourselves, but we are bound to consider in both respects, how we may render ourselves better than they are, by avoiding what is faulty and vicious in them, and how we may not prove worse than they, if we imitate them in what they do excel.

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ModernGreek: 1. As soon, Apollonius, as I heard the news of the untimely death of your son, who was very dear to us all, I fell sick of the same grief with you, and shared your misfortune with all the tenderness of sympathy. For he was a sweet and modest young man, devout towards the Gods, obedient to his parents, and obliging to his friends; indeed doing all things that were just. But when the tears of his funeral were scarcely dry, I thought it a time very improper to call upon you and put you in mind that you should bear this accident like a man; for when this unexpected affliction made you languish both in body and mind, I considered then that compassion was more seasonable than advice. For the most skilful physicians do not put a sudden stop to a flux of humors, but give them time to settle, and then foment the swelling by softening and bringing it to a head with medicines outwardly applied.

ModernGreek: 2. So now that a competent time is past — time which brings all things to maturity — since the first surprise of your calamity, I believed I should do an acceptable piece of friendship, if I should now comfort you with those reasons which may lessen your grief and silence your complaints.

  • Soft words alleviate a wounded heart,
  • If you in time will mitigate the smart.*
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Euripides hath said wisely to this purpose: —

  • Our applications should suited be
  • Unto the nature of the malady;
  • Of sorrow we should wipe the tender eyes,
  • But the immoderate weeper should chastise

For of all the passions which move and afflict the mind of man, sorrow in its nature is the most grievous; in some they say it hath produced madness, others have contracted incurable diseases, and some out of the vehemence of it have laid violent hands upon themselves.

ModernGreek: 3. Therefore to be sad, even to an indisposition, for the death of a son proceeds from a principle of nature, and it is out of our power to prevent it. I dislike those who boast so much of hard and inflexible temper which they call apathy, it being a disposition which never happens and never could be of use to us; for it would extinguish that sociable love we ought to have for one another, and which it is so necessary above all things to preserve. But to mourn excessively and to accumulate grief I do affirm to be altogether unnatural, and to result from a depraved opinion we have of things; therefore we ought to shun it as destructive in itself, and unworthy of a virtuous man; but to be moderately affected by grief we cannot condemn. It were to be wished, saith Crantor the Academic, that we could not be sick at all; but when a distemper seizeth us, it is requisite we should have sense and feeling in case any of our members be plucked or cut off. For that talked-of apathy can never happen to a man without great detriment; for as now the body, so soon the very mind would be wild and savage.

ModernGreek: 4. Therefore in such accidents, it is but reasonable that they who are in their right senses should avoid both extremes, of being without any passion at all and of having too much; for as the one argues a mind that is obstinate and fierce, so the other doth one that is soft and effeminate. Edition: current; Page: [301] He therefore hath cast up his accounts the best, who, confining himself within due bounds, hath such ascendant over his temper, as to bear prosperous and adverse fortune with the same equality, whichsoever it is that happens to him in this life. He puts on those resolutions as if he were in a popular government where magistracy is decided by lot; if it luckily falls to his share, he obeys his fortune, but if it passeth him, he doth not repine at it. So we must submit to the dispensation of human affairs, without being uneasy and querulous. Those who cannot do this want prudence and steadiness of mind to bear more happy circumstances; for amongst other things which are prettily said, this is one remarkable precept of Euripides: —

  • If Fortune prove extravagantly kind,
  • Above its temper do not raise thy mind;
  • If she disclaims thee like a jilting dame,
  • Be not dejected, but be still the same,
  • Like gold unchanged amidst the hottest flame.

For it is the part of a wise and well-educated man, not to be transported beyond himself with any prosperous events, and so, when the scene of fortune changeth, to observe still the comeliness and decency of his morals. For it is the business of a man that lives by rule, either to prevent an evil that threatens him, or, when it is come, to qualify its malignity and make it as little as he can, or put on a masculine brave spirit and so resolve to endure it. For there are four ways that prudence concerns herself about any thing that is good; she is either industrious to acquire or careful to preserve, she either augments or useth it well. These are the measures of prudence, and consequently those of all other virtues, by which we ought to square ourselves in either fortune.

For no man lives who always happy is.*

And, by Jove, you should not hinder what ought to be done, —

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Those things which in their nature ought to be.*

ModernGreek: 5. For, as amongst trees some are very thick with fruit, and some bear none at all; amongst living creatures some are very prolific, and some barren; and as in the sea there is alternate vicissitude of calms and tempests, so in human life there are many and various circumstances which distract a man into divers changes of fortune. One considering this matter hath not said much from the purpose: —

  • Think not thyself, O Atreus’ son, forlorn;
  • Thou always to be happy wast not born.
  • Even Agamemnon’s self must be a shade,
  • For thou of frail materials art made.
  • Sorrow and joy alternately succeed;
  • ’Spite of thy teeth, the Gods have so decreed.

These verses are Menander’s.

  • If thou, O Trophimus, of all mankind,
  • Uninterrupted happiness couldst find;
  • If when thy mother brought thee forth with pain,
  • Didst this condition of thy life obtain,
  • That only prosperous gales thy sails should fill,
  • And all things happen ’cording to thy will;
  • If any of the Gods did so engage,
  • Such usage justly might provoke thy rage,
  • Matter for smart resentment might afford,
  • For the false Deity did break his word.
  • But if thou unexcepted saw’st the light,
  • Without a promise of the least delight,
  • I say to thee (gravely in tragic style)
  • Thou ought to be more patient all the while.
  • In short, — and to say more there’s no one can, —
  • Which is a name of frailty, thou’rt a man;
  • A creature more rejoicing is not found,
  • None more dejected creeps upon the ground.
  • Though weak, yet he in politics refines,
  • Involves himself in intricate designs;
  • With nauseous business he himself doth cloy,
  • And so the pleasure of his life destroy.
  • In great pursuits thou never hast been cross’d
  • No disappointments have thy projects lost;
  • Nay, such hath been the mildness of thy fate,
  • Hast no misfortune had of any rate;
  • If Fortune is at any time severe,
  • Serene and undisturbed thou must appear.
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But though this be the state of all sublunary things, yet such is the extravagant pride and folly of some men, that if they are raised above the common by the greatness of their riches or functions of magistracy, or if they arrive to any eminent charge in the commonwealth, they presently swell with the titles of their honor, and threaten and insult over their inferiors; never considering what a treacherous Goddess Fortune is, and how easy a revolution it is for things that are uppermost to be thrown down from their height and for humble things to be exalted, and that these changes of Fortune are performed quickly and in the swiftest moments of time. To seek for any certainty therefore in that which is uncertain is the part of those who judge not aright of things: —

  • Like to a wheel that constantly goes round,
  • One part is up whilst t’other’s on the ground.

ModernGreek: 6. But the most sovereign remedy against sorrow is our reason, and out of this arsenal we may arm ourselves with defence against all the casualties of life; for every one ought to lay down this as a maxim, that not only is he himself mortal in his nature, but life itself decays, and things are easily changed into quite the contrary to what they are; for our bodies are made up of perishing ingredients. Our fortunes and our passions too are subject to the same mortality; indeed all things in this world are in perpetual flux, —

Which no man can avoid with all his care.*

It is an expression of Pindar, that we are held to the dark bottom of hell by necessities as hard as iron. And Euripides says: —

  • No worldly wealth is firm and sure;
  • But for a day it doth endure.

And also: —

  • From small beginnings our misfortunes grow,
  • And little rubs our feet do overthrow;
  • A single day is able down to cast
  • Some things from height, and others raise as fast.
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Demetrius Phalereus affirms that this was truly said, but that the poet had been more in the right if for a single day he had put only a moment of time.

  • For earthly fruits and mortal men’s estate
  • Turn round about in one and selfsame rate;
  • Some live, wax strong, and prosper day by day,
  • While others are cast down and fade away.*

And Pindar hath it in another place,

  • What are we, what are we not?
  • Man is but a shadow’s dream.

He used an artificial and very perspicuous hyperbole to draw human life in its genuine colors; for what is weaker than a shadow? Or what words can be found out whereby to express a shadow’s dream? Crantor hath something consonant to this, when, condoling Hippocles upon the loss of his children, he speaks after this manner: —

“These are the things which all the old philosophers talk of and have instructed us in; which though we do not agree to in every particular, yet this hath too sharp a truth in it, that our life is painful and full of difficulties; and if it doth not labor with them in its own nature, yet we ourselves have infected it with that corruption. For the inconstancy of Fortune joined us at the beginning of our journey, and hath accompanied us ever since; so that it can produce nothing that is sound or comfortable unto us; and the bitter potion was mingled for us as soon as we were born. For the principles of our nature being mortal is the cause that our judgment is depraved, that diseases, cares, and all those fatal inconveniences afflict mankind.”

But what need of this digression? Only that we may be made sensible that it is no unusual thing if a man be unfortunate; but we are all subject to the same calamity. For as Theophrastus saith, Fortune surpriseth us unawares, robs us of those things we have got by the sweat of our Edition: current; Page: [305] industry, and spoils the gaudy appearance of a prosperous condition; and this she doth when she pleaseth, not being stinted to any periods of time. These and things of the like nature it is easy for a man to ponder with himself, and to hearken to the sayings of ancient and wise men; among whom divine Homer is the chief, who sung after this manner: —

  • Of all that breathes or grovelling creeps on earth,
  • Most man is vain! calamitous by birth:
  • To-day, with power elate, in strength he blooms;
  • The haughty creature on that power presumes:
  • Anon from Heaven a sad reverse he feels;
  • Untaught to bear, ’gainst Heaven the wretch rebels.
  • For man is changeful, as his bliss or woe;
  • Too high when prosperous, when distress’d too low.*

And in another place: —

  • What or from whence I am, or who my sire
  • (Replied the chief), can Tydeus’ son enquire?
  • Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
  • Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
  • Another race the following spring supplies;
  • They fall successive, and successive rise.
  • So generations in their course decay;
  • So flourish these, when those are past away.

How prettily he managed this image of human life appears from what he hath said in another place: —

  • For what is man? Calamitous by birth,
  • They owe their life and nourishment to earth;
  • Like yearly leaves, that now with beauty crown’d,
  • Smile on the sun, now wither on the ground.

When Pausanias the king of Sparta was frequently bragging of his performances, and bidding Simonides the lyric poet in raillery to give him some wise precept, he, knowing the vain-glory of him that spoke, admonished him to remember that he was a man. Philip the king of Macedon, when he had received three despatches of good news at the same time, of which the first was that his chariots Edition: current; Page: [306] had won the victory in the Olympic games, the second, that his general Parmenio had overcome the Dardanians in fight, and the third, that his wife Olympias had brought him forth an heir, — lifting up his eyes to heaven, he passionately cried out, Propitious Daemon! let the affliction be moderate by which thou intendest to be even with me for this complicated happiness. Theramenes, one of the thirty tyrants of Athens, when he alone was preserved from the ruins of a house that fell upon the rest of his friends as they were sitting at supper, and all came about him to congratulate him on his escape, — broke out in an emphatical accent, Fortune! for what calamity dost thou reserve me? And not long after, by the command of his fellow-tyrants, he was tormented to death.

ModernGreek: 7. But Homer seems to indicate a particular praise to himself, when he brings in Achilles speaking thus to Priam, who was come forth to ransom the body of Hector: —

  • Rise then; let reason mitigate our care:
  • To mourn avails not: man is born to bear.
  • Such is, alas! the Gods’ severe decree:
  • They, only they, are blest, and only free.
  • Two urns by Jove’s high throne have ever stood,
  • The source of evil one, and one of good;
  • From thence the cup of mortal man he fills,
  • Blessings to these, to these distributes ills;
  • To most he mingles both; the wretch decreed
  • To taste the bad unmix’d is cursed indeed;
  • Pursued by wrongs, by meagre famine driven,
  • He wanders, outcast both of earth and heaven.*

Hesiod, who was the next to Homer both in respect of time and reputation, and who professed to be a disciple of the Muses, fancied that all evils were shut up in a box, and that Pandora opening it scattered all sorts of mischiefs through both the earth and seas: —

  • The cover of the box she did remove,
  • And to fly out the crowding mischief strove;
  • But slender hope upon the brims did stay,
  • Edition: current; Page: [307]
  • Ready to vanish into air away;
  • She with retrieve the haggard in did put,
  • And on the prisoner close the box did shut;
  • But plagues innumerable abroad did fly,
  • Infecting all the earth, the seas, and sky,
  • Diseases now with silent feet do creep,
  • Torment us waking, and afflict our sleep.
  • These midnight evils steal without a noise,
  • For Jupiter deprived them of their voice.*

ModernGreek: 8. After these the comedian, talking of those who bear afflictions uneasily, speaks consonantly to this purpose: —

  • If we in wet complaints could quench our grief,
  • At any rate we’d purchase our relief;
  • With proffered gold would bribe off all our fears,
  • And make our eyes distil in precious tears.
  • But the Gods mind not mortals here below,
  • Nor the least thought on our affairs bestow;
  • But with an unregarding air pass by,
  • Whether our cheeks be moist, or whether dry.
  • Unhappiness is always sorrow’s root,
  • And tears do hang from them like crystal fruit.

And Dictys comforts Danae, who was bitterly taking on, after this manner: —

  • Dost think that thy repinings move the grave,
  • Or from its jaws thy dying son can save?
  • If thou would’st lessen it, thy grief compare; —
  • Consider how unhappy others are;
  • How many bonds of slavery do hold;
  • How many of their children robbed grow old;
  • How sudden Fate throws off th’ usurped crown,
  • And in the dirt doth tread the tyrant down.
  • Let this with deep impression in thee sink,
  • And on these revolutions often think.

He bids her consider the condition of those who have suffered equal or greater afflictions, and by such a parallel to comfort up her own distempered mind.

ModernGreek: 9. And here that opinion of Socrates comes in very pertinently, who thought that if all our misfortunes were laid in one common heap, whence every one must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart. After this manner Antimachus the poet allayed Edition: current; Page: [308] his grief when he lost his wife Lyde, whom he tenderly loved; for he writ an elegy upon her, which he called by her own name, and in it he numbered up all the calamities which have befallen great men; and so by the remembrance of other men’s sorrows he assuaged his own. By this it may appear, that he who comforts another who is macerating himself with grief, and demonstrates to him, by reckoning up their several misfortunes, that he suffers nothing but what is common to him with other men, takes the surest way to lessen the opinion he had of his condition, and brings him to believe that it is not altogether so bad as he took it to be.

ModernGreek: 10. Aeschylus also doth justly reprimand those who think death to be an evil, declaring after this manner: —

  • Some as a thing injurious death do fly;
  • But of all mischiefs ’tis the remedy.

And he who spoke thus very nicely imitated him: —

  • Come, with impatience I expect thee, Death;
  • And stop with thy obliging hand my breath:
  • To thee as a physician all resort,
  • And we through tempests sail into thy port.

And it is great to speak this sentence with courage: —

Where is the slave who never fears to die?*

Or this: —

And shadows never scare me, thanks to hell.

But what is it at length in death, that is so grievous and troublesome? For I know not how it comes to pass that, when it is so familiar and as it were related to us, it should seem so terrible. How can it be rational to wonder, if that cleaves asunder which is divisible, if that melts whose nature is liquefaction, if that burns which is combustible, and so, by a parity of reason, if that perisheth which by nature is perishable? For when is it that death is not in us? For, as Heraclitus saith, it is the same thing to be Edition: current; Page: [309] dead and alive, asleep and awake, a young man and decrepit; for these alternately are changed one into another. For as a potter can form the shape of an animal out of his clay and then as easily deface it, and can repeat this backwards and forwards as often as he pleaseth, so Nature too out of the same materials fashioned first our grandfathers, next our fathers, then us, and in process of time will engender others, and again others upon these. For as the flood of our generation glides on without any intermission and will never stop, so in the other direction the stream of our corruption flows eternally on, whether it be called Acheron or Cocytus by the poets. So that the same cause which first showed us the light of the sun carries us down to infernal darkness. And in my mind, the air which encompasseth us seems to be a lively image of the thing; for it brings on the vicissitudes of night and day, life and death, sleeping and waking. For this cause it is that life is called a fatal debt, which our fathers contracted and we are bound to pay; which is to be done calmly and without any complaint, when the creditor demands it; and by this means we shall show ourselves men of sedate passions.

ModernGreek: 11. And I believe Nature, knowing the confusion and shortness of our life, hath industriously concealed the end of it from us, this making for our advantage. For if we were sensible of it beforehand, some would pine away with untimely sorrow, and would die before their death came. For she saw the woes of this life, and with what a torrent of cares it is overflowed, — which if thou didst undertake to number, thou wouldst grow angry with it, and confirm that opinion which hath a vogue amongst some, that death is more desirable than life. Simonides hath glossed upon it after this manner: —

  • Our time is of a short and tender length,
  • Cares we have many, and but little strength;
  • Labors in crowds push one another on,
  • And cruel destiny we cannot shun.
  • Edition: current; Page: [310]
  • The casting of these lots is very just,
  • For good and bad lie in one common dust.

Pindar hath it so: —

  • The Gods unequal have us mortals vexed,
  • For to one good, two evils are annexed:
  • They pay a single joy with double care,
  • And fools such dispensations cannot bear.*

Sophocles so: —

  • Why at a mortal’s death dost thou complain?
  • Thou know’st not what may be his future gain.

And Euripides so: —

  • Dost thou not know the state of human things?
  • A faithful monitor thy instruction brings.
  • Inevitable death hangs o’er our head,
  • And threatens falling by a doubtful thread.
  • There’s no man can be certain over night,
  • If he shall live to see to-morrow’s light.
  • Life without any interruption flows,
  • And the results of fate there’s no man knows.

If then the condition of human life is such as they speak of, why do we not rather applaud their good fortunes who are freed from the drudgery of it, than pity and deplore them, as some men’s folly prompts them to do?

ModernGreek: 12. Socrates said that death was like either to a very deep sleep, or to a journey taken a great way and for a long time, or else to the utter extinction of soul and body; and if we examine each of these comparisons, he said, we shall find that death is not an evil upon any account. For if death is sleep, and no hurt happens to those who are in that innocent condition, it is manifest that neither are the dead ill dealt with. To what purpose should I talk of that which is so tritely known amongst all, that the most profound sleep is always the sweetest? Homer particularly attests it: —

  • His senses all becalmed, he drew his breath,
  • His sleep was sound, and quiet like to death.
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And in many places he saith thus, —

She met Death’s brother, Sleep. —

And again, —

Twin brothers, Sleep and Death, —

thereby representing the similitude (as it were) to the sight, for twins especially indicate similarity. And in another place he saith, Death is brazen sleep, thereby intimating to us that it is insensible. Neither hath he spoken much amiss who calls sleep the lesser mysteries of death; for sleep is really the first initiation into the mysteries of death.

Diogenes the Cynic, when a little before his death he fell into a slumber, and his physician rousing him out of it asked him whether any thing ailed him, wisely answered, Nothing, sir, only one brother anticipates another, — Sleep before Death.

ModernGreek: 13. If death be like a journey, neither upon this account is it an evil, but rather the contrary; for certainly it is the emphasis of happiness to be freed from the incumbrances of the flesh and all those troublesome passions which attend it, which serve only to darken the understanding, and overspread it with all the folly that is incident to human nature.

“The very body,” saith Plato, “procures us infinite disquiet only to supply its daily necessities with food; but if any diseases are coincident, they hinder our contemplations, and stop us in our researches after truth. Besides, it distracts us with irregular desires, fears, and vain amours, setting before us so many fantastic images of things, that the common saying is here most true, that on account of the body we can never become wise. For wars, popular seditions, and shedding of blood by the sword are owing to no other original than this care of the body and gratifying its licentious appetites; for we fight only to get riches, and these Edition: current; Page: [312] we acquire only to please the body; so that those who are thus employed have not leisure to be philosophers. And after all, when we have retrieved an interval of time to seek after truth, the body officiously interrupts us, is so troublesome and importune, that we can by no means discern its nature. Therefore it is evident that, if we will clearly know any thing, we must divest ourselves of the body, and behold things as they are in themselves with the mind itself, that at last we may attain what we so much desire, and what we do profess ourselves the most partial admirers of, which is wisdom. And this we cannot consummately enjoy till after death, as reason teacheth us. For if so be that we can understand nothing clearly as long as we are clogged with flesh, one of these things must needs be, either that we shall never arrive at that knowledge at all, or only when we die; for then the soul will exist by itself, separate from the body; and whilst we are in this life, we shall make the nearest advances towards it, if we have no more to do with the body than what decency and necessity require, if we break off all commerce with it, and keep ourselves pure from its contagion, till God shall give us a final release, and then being pure and freed from all its follies, we shall converse (it is likely) with intelligences as pure as ourselves, with our unaided vision beholding perfect purity, — and this is truth itself. For it is not fit that what is pure should be apprehended by what is impure.”*

Therefore, if death only transports us to another place, it is not to be looked upon as an evil, but rather as an exceeding good, as Plato hath demonstrated. The words of Socrates to his judges seem to me to be spoken even with inspiration: “To fear death, gentlemen, is nothing else than to counterfeit the being wise, when we are not so. For he that fears death pretends to know what he is ignorant Edition: current; Page: [313] of; for no man is certain whether death be not the greatest good that can befall a man, but they positively dread it as if they were sure it was the greatest of evils.” Agreeably to this said one after this manner: —

Let no man fear what doth his labors end; —

and death sets us free even from the greatest evils.

ModernGreek: 14. The Gods themselves bear witness to the truth of this, for many have obtained death as a gratuity from them. The less famous instances I will pass by, that I may not be prolix, and only mention those who are the most celebrated and in all men’s mouths. And in the first place, I will relate what befell Biton and Cleobis, two young men of Argos. They report that their mother being the priestess of Juno, and the time being come that she was to go up to the temple to perform the rites of the Goddess, and those whose office it was to draw her chariot tarrying longer than usual, these two young men harnessed themselves and took it up, and so carried their mother to the temple. She, being extremely taken with the piety of her sons, petitioned the Goddess that she would bestow upon them the best present that could be given to men; accordingly she cast them into that deep sleep out of which they never awoke, taking this way to recompense their filial zeal with death. Pindar writes of Agamedes and Trophonius, that after they had built a temple at Delphi, they requested of Apollo a reward for their work. It was answered them that they should have it within seven days, but in the mean while they were commanded to live freely and indulge their genius; accordingly they obeyed the dictate, and the seventh night they died in their beds. It is said also of Pindar, that when the deputies of the Boeotians were sent to consult the oracle, he desired them to enquire of it which was the best thing amongst men, and that the Priestess of the tripod gave them this answer, — that he Edition: current; Page: [314] could not be ignorant of it, if he was the author of those writings concerning Agamedes and Trophonius; but if he desired personally to know, it should in a little time be made manifest to him; and that Pindar hearing this prepared himself for the stroke of Fate, and died in a short time after. Of Euthynous the Italian there is this memorable story, that he died suddenly, without anybody’s knowing the cause of his death. His father was Elysius the Terinean, who was a man of the first condition for his estate and virtue, being rich and honorable, and this being his only son and heir to all his fortune, which was very great, he had a strong jealousy upon him that he was poisoned, and not knowing how he should come to the information of it, he went into the vault where they invoke the dead, and after having offered sacrifice, as it is enjoined by the law, he slept in the place; when all things were in a midnight silence, he had this vision. His father appeared to him, to whom after having related his lamentable misfortune, he earnestly desired the ghost that he would assist him in finding out the cause. He answered that he was come on purpose to do it. But first, saith he, receive from this one what he hath brought thee, and thereby thou wilt understand the reason of all thy sorrow. The person that the father meant was very like to Euthynous both for years and stature; and the question being put to him who he was, he answered, I am the genius of thy son; and at the same time he reached out a book to him, which he opened and found these verses written therein: —

  • ’Tis ignorance makes wretched men to err;
  • Fate did to happiness thy son prefer.
  • By destined death Euthynous seized we see;
  • So ’twas the better both for him and thee.

These are the stories which the ancients tell us.

ModernGreek: 15. But lastly, if death be the entire dissipation of soul and body (which was the third part of Socrates’s comparison), Edition: current; Page: [315] even then it cannot be an evil. For this would produce a privation of sense, and consequently a complete freedom from all solicitude and care; and if no good, so no evil would befall us. For good and evil alike must by nature inhere in that which has existence and essence; but to that which is nothing, and wholly abolished out of the nature of things, neither of the two can belong. Therefore, when men die, they return to the same condition they were in before they were born. For as, before we came into the world, we were neither sensible of good nor afflicted with evil, so it will be when we leave it; and as those things which preceded our birth did not concern us, so neither will those things which are subsequent to our death: —

  • The dead secure from sorrow safe do lie,
  • ’Tis the same thing not to be born and die.*

For it is the same state of existence after death as it was before we were born. Unless perhaps you will make a difference between having no being at all and the utter extinction of it, after the same manner that you make a distinction between an house and a garment after they are ruined and worn out, and at the time before the one was built and the other made. And if in this case there is no difference, it is plain that there is none between the state before we were born and that after we are dead. It is elegantly said by Arcesilaus, that death, which is called an evil, hath this peculiarly distinct from all that are thought so, that when it is present it gives us no disturbance, but when remote and in expectation only, it is then that it afflicts us. And indeed many out of the poorness of their spirit, having entertained most injurious opinions of it, have died even to prevent death. Epicharmus hath said excellently to this purpose: “It was united, it is now dissolved; it returns back whence it came, — earth to earth, the spirit to regions Edition: current; Page: [316] above. What in all this is grievous? Nothing at all.” But that which Cresphontes in Euripides saith of Hercules, —

  • For if he dwells below, beneath the earth,
  • With those whose life is gone, his strength is nought,

I would have changed into these words, —

  • For if he dwells below, beneath the earth,
  • With those whose life is gone, his woes are o’er.

This Laconic too is very noble: —

  • Others before and after us will be,
  • Whose age we’re not permitted e’er to see.

And again: —

  • These neither did live handsomely nor die,
  • Though both should have been done with decency.

But Euripides hath spoken incomparably well of those who labor under daily indispositions: —

  • I hate the man who studies to defeat
  • The power of death with artificial meat,
  • To baffle and prevent his fate does think,
  • And lengthens out his life with magic drink.
  • Whereas, when he a burden doth become,
  • Then he should die, because he’s troublesome.
  • Old age in modesty should then give place,
  • And so make way unto a brisker race.*

But Merope moved the passion of the theatre with these masculine expressions: —

  • My sons by death are ravished from my side,
  • And I’m a widow, who was once a bride.
  • I am not thus selected to be crossed,
  • Others their sons and husbands too have lost.

And we may not incongruously add these: —

  • What is become of that magnificence?
  • Where is King Croesus with his opulence?
  • Or where is Xerxes with his mighty pride,
  • Who with a bridge did curb the raging tide?
  • Inhabitants of darkness they became,
  • And now are living only in their fame.

Their riches have perished with their bodies.

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ModernGreek: 16. Yes, we may say, but an untimely death from many doth extort groans and passionate complaints. But the way to dry up these sorrows is so expedite and easy, that every vulgar poet hath prescribed it. Consider what consolation a comedian puts in the mouth of one who comforts another upon so sad an occasion: —

  • If this with certainty thou could’st have known,
  • That Fortune always would have kindness shown,
  • That nothing but what’s good would him befall,
  • His death thou justly might’st untimely call.
  • But if calamities were imminent,
  • And Death the fatal mischief did prevent,
  • To give to things the character that’s due,
  • Death was the most obliging of the two.

It therefore being uncertain whether it was for his advantage that he departed this life and was freed from all the miseries that attend it, we had thereby lost all that we fancied we could enjoy in him whilst he was living. And Amphiaraus in the poet doth not do amiss when he consoles the mother of Archemorus, who was even sick with grief for the untimely death of her infant son. He speaks: —

  • There is no man whom sorrow doth not seize;
  • Our children die while others we beget.
  • At last we die ourselves, and mortals grieve
  • As they give dust to dust; but human life
  • Must needs be reaped like a full crop of corn.
  • One man must live, another die: why weep
  • For this, which by necessity must be?
  • There is no hardship in necessity.*

ModernGreek: 17. In general, every one should meditate seriously with himself, and have the concurrence of other men’s opinions with his own, that it is not the longest life which is the best, but that which is the most virtuous. For that musician is not to be commended who plays upon variety of instruments, nor that orator that makes multiplicity of speeches, nor the pilot that conducts many ships, but he of each faculty that doth one of them well; for the beauty of a thing doth not Edition: current; Page: [318] consist in length of time, but in the virtue and seasonable moderation wherewith it is transacted. This is that which is called happy and grateful to the Gods. And for this reason it is that poets celebrate those who have died before they have become old, and propose them for examples, as the most excellent men and of divine extraction, as him for instance,

  • Beloved by Jove and him who gilds the skies,
  • Yet short his date of life.*

And we see in every thing that preference is not given so much to age as to maturity. For amongst trees and plants, those are accounted the most generous which bring forth abundance of fruit, and that early ripe. And amongst living creatures too, those are the most valued which supply us with the accommodations of life in a short time. Besides, if we compare the space of our life with eternity, we shall find no difference betwixt long and short; for according to Simonides, thousands and millions of years are but as a point to what is infinite, or rather the smallest part of that point. They report that about Pontus there are some creatures of such an extempore being that the whole term of their life is confined within the space of a day; for they are brought forth in the morning, are in the prime of their existence at noon, grow old at night, and then die. Dost thou not think that if these had the soul and reason of a man, they would be so affected, and that things would happen to them after the same manner as to us? — that those who died before the meridian would be lamented with tears and groans? — and that we should call them happy who lived their day out? For the measure of a man’s life is the well spending of it, and not the length.

ModernGreek: 18. But such exclamations as this, “the young man ought not to be taken off so abruptly in the vigor of his years,” are very frivolous, and proceed from a great weakness of mind; for who is it that can say what a thing ought to be? Edition: current; Page: [319] But things have been, are, and will be done, which somebody or other will say ought not to be done. But we do not come into this life to be dogmatical and prescribe to it; but we must obey the dictates of the Gods who govern the world, and submit to the establishments of Fate and Providence.

ModernGreek: 19. But when they mourn over those who die so untimely, do they do it upon their own account, or upon that of the deceased? If upon their own, because they have lost that pleasure they thought they should have enjoyed in them, or are deprived of that profit they expected or that relief they flattered themselves they should receive from them in their old age, then self-love and personal interest prescribe the measures of their sorrow; so that upon the result they do not love the dead so much as themselves and their own interest. But if they lament upon the account of the deceased, that is a grief easily to be shaken off, if they only consider that by their very death they will be out of the sphere of any evil that can reach them, and believe the wise and ancient saying, that we should always augment what is good, and extenuate the evil. Therefore if grief is a good thing, let us enlarge and make it as great as we can; but if it is numbered amongst the evils, as in truth it ought to be, let us endeavor all we can to suppress it, make it as inconsiderable as we can, and at last utterly efface it. How easy this is to be done, I will make appear by an illustrious example of consolation. They say that an ancient philosopher came to the Queen Arsinoe, who was then sorrowful for the death of her son, and discoursed her after this manner: “At the time that Jupiter distributed honors amongst his under-deities, it happened that Grief was absent; but he came at last when all the dignities were disposed of, and then desired that he might have some share in the promotions. Jupiter, having no better vacancies left, bestowed upon him sorrow and funeral tears.” He Edition: current; Page: [320] made this inference from the story: “Therefore,” saith he, “as other daemons love and frequent those who give them hospitable reception, so sadness will never come near you, if you do not give it encouragement; but if you caress it with those particular honors which it challengeth as its due, which are sighs and tears, it will have an unlucky affection for you, and will always supply you with fresh occasion that the observance may be continued.” By this plausible speech he seems in a wonderful manner to have buoyed this great woman out of her tears, and to have made her cast off her veil.

ModernGreek: 20. In short, I would ask the mourner whether he designs to put an end to his grief, or to allow the anguish to have the same duration with his life. If this thou hast resolved, I must say thou hast cut out for thyself the most bitter infelicity in the world, and all through the stupidity and softness of thy mind; but if thou wilt ever make a change, why dost thou not make it now, and so free thyself from misery? Apply now the same reasons thou must use a great while hence, to unburden thy mind and ease thy afflictions; and as in bodily distempers the quickest remedy is the best, so bestow the advantage thou must otherwise allow to time upon reason and instruction, and so cease to be unhappy.

ModernGreek: 21. But it is objected, the calamity was sudden, and I did not expect it. But thou oughtest to have done it, and considered the vanity and uncertainty of human affairs, that thy enemies might not have come suddenly upon thee and taken thee unawares. Theseus in Euripides seems to be excellently well prepared for events of this nature, for he saith thus: —

  • This wholesome precept from the wise I learn,
  • To think of misery without concern.
  • My meditating thoughts are always spent
  • Either on death or else on banishment.
  • Foresight of evils doth employ my mind,
  • Edition: current; Page: [321]
  • That me without defence they may not find;
  • And though in ambuscade the mischief lies,
  • Kill me it may, but shall not me surprise.*

But those who are of a degenerate and thoughtless spirit never apply their mind to any thing that is either useful or becoming; but they grow exorbitant in their sorrows, and afflict the innocent body, making it sick for company, as Achaeus expresseth it.

ModernGreek: 22. Therefore Plato doth rightly instruct us to acquiesce in cases of this nature, when it is not manifest whether they be good or evil, and when we get nothing by being uneasy under them; for grief is the greatest obstacle to deliberation as to what is best to be done. Therefore he commands us, as in the casting of dice, to accommodate ourselves to what befalls us, in the way which reason shows us to be best; and when any thing ails us, not to imitate the folly of children, who presently cry out and clap their hands to the place affected, but to accustom our minds to seek at once for remedies which may restore the part that is diseased to its first tone of health, making lamentation give place to the healing art. He that instituted laws for the Lycians commanded the citizens that when they mourned they should put on women’s apparel, intimating thereby that sorrow was an effeminate thing, and therefore was not fit for men of temper and liberal education. For it is indeed a weak and unmanly passion, and women are more subject to it than men, the barbarians more than the Greeks, and the dregs of mankind more than the refined part of them; and even amongst the barbarians, the brave-spirited Celts and Gauls have not a propensity to it, or any that have generous sentiments; but the Egyptians, the Syrians, and the Lydians, and those who resemble them in the softness of their disposition. They report that some of these will hide themselves in retirements under ground, Edition: current; Page: [322] and refuse to behold that sun of which their lamented friend is deprived. Ion, the tragedian, who heard something of this extravagance, introduceth a person speaking after this manner: —

  • Your blooming children’s nurse, I have come forth
  • A suppliant from the caves where I have mourned.

Some of these barbarians have deformed their bodies by cutting off their noses, ears, and other parts of themselves, thinking to gratify the dead by these mutilations, when in doing so they deviated excessively from that moderation which Nature prescribes us.

ModernGreek: 23. And, by Jove, we meet with some persons who affirm that the death of every one is not to be lamented, but only of those who die untimely; for they have not tasted of those things which we call enjoyments in the world, as a nuptial bed, proficiency in learning, the coming up to an height in any thing, the honor of magistracy and charges in the government. It is for the sake of these things that we condole with those who lose friends by untimely death, because they were frustrated of their hopes; but in the meanwhile we are ignorant that a sudden death doth not at all differ from any other, considering the condition of human nature. For as when a journey is enjoined into a remote country, and there is a necessity for every one to undertake it, and none hath liberty to refuse, though some go before and others follow, yet all must arrive at the same stage at last; so when we all lie under an obligation of discharging the same debt, it is not material whether we pay sooner or later. But if any one’s death may be called untimely, and consequently an evil, that appellation suits only with that of children and infants, and especially of those who are newly born. But this we bear steadfastly and with patience; but when those that are grown up die, we take on heavily, because we fondly hoped that when their years were full blown they would then have an uninterrupted Edition: current; Page: [323] state of health. Now if the age of man were limited to the space of twenty years, we should not think that he who had arrived to fifteen died an untimely death, but that he had filled up a just measure of living; but one that had attained twenty, or at least had approached very near it, we should applaud for his good fortune, as if he had enjoyed the most happy and perfect life in the world. So if life were prolonged to two hundred years as its fixed period, and any one died at a hundred, we should howl over him as if he had been hastily cut off.

ModernGreek: 24. It is manifest then, by what hath been said now and what hath been mentioned before, that the death we call untimely is capable of consolation; and the saying is true, that “Troilus wept less than Priam,”* perishing as he did in his youth, while his father’s kingdom flourished and his riches abounded, which Priam afterwards laments as most deplorably lost. For observe what he saith to his son Hector, when he entreats him to decline the battle he was going to fight against Achilles: —

  • Yet shun Achilles! enter yet the wall;
  • And spare thyself, thy father, spare us all!
  • Save thy dear life; or, if a soul so brave
  • Neglect that thought, thy dearer glory save.
  • Pity, while yet I live, these silver hairs;
  • While yet thy father feels the woes he bears,
  • Yet curst with sense! a wretch whom in his rage
  • All trembling on the verge of helpless age
  • Great Jove has placed, sad spectacle of pain!
  • The bitter dregs of Fortune’s cup to drain:
  • To fill with scenes of death his closing eyes,
  • And number all his days by miseries!
  • My heroes slain, my bridal bed o’erturn’d,
  • My daughters ravish’d, and my city burn’d,
  • My bleeding infants dash’d against the floor;
  • These I have yet to see, perhaps yet more!
  • Perhaps even I, reserv’d by angry Fate,
  • The last sad relic of my ruin’d state,
  • (Dire pomp of sovereign wretchedness!) must fall,
  • Edition: current; Page: [324]
  • And stain the pavement of my regal hall;
  • Where famish’d dogs, late guardians of my door,
  • Shall lick their mangled master’s spatter’d gore.
  • But when the Fates, in fulness of their rage,
  • Spurn the hoar head of unresisting age,
  • In dust the reverend lineaments deform,
  • And pour to dogs the life-blood scarcely warm:
  • This, this is misery! the last, the worst,
  • That man can feel, — man, fated to be cursed!
  • He said, and acting what no words can say,
  • Rent from his head the silver locks away.
  • With him the mournful mother bears a part;
  • Yet all her sorrows turn not Hector’s heart.*

Having then so many examples of this kind before thine eyes, thou oughtest to make thyself sensible that not a few have been saved by death from those calamities they would certainly have fallen into had they lived longer. Contenting myself with those I have related already, I will omit the rest, that I may not seem tedious; and these are sufficient to show that we ought not to abandon ourselves to violent sorrow, beyond temper and the bounds of nature.

ModernGreek: 25. Crantor saith, To be innocent is the greatest comfort in afflictions. I assent to him, and affirm that it is the noblest remedy. Besides, the indication of our love to the deceased consists not in grieving ourselves for him, but in paying respect to his fame by honorable remembrance. For no good man deserves elegies, but panegyrics; and we should rather celebrate his loss by an honorable remembrance, than lament it; and offer up rather first-fruits of joy to the Gods, and not tears which sorrow extorts from us. For he who ceaseth to be amongst men becomes partaker of a divine life, is free from the servitude of the body, and all those solicitous cares which they who are embarrassed with a mortal life of necessity must undergo till they have finished the course which Providence hath marked out for them; and this life Nature hath not given us as a perpetual possession, but hath clogged it with restrictions and conditions of fate.

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ModernGreek: 26. Those therefore who are the masters of their reason ought not to be transported by the death of friends beyond the limits of nature and a just moderation unto unprofitable and barbarous complaints, and so wait till that comes upon them which hath happened to many, to have their vital moisture exhausted before their tears, and to be carried to their own graves in those mourning weeds they put on for others, where their sorrow must lie buried with those evils they provoked upon themselves by their own imprudence. To whom that of Homer may be appositely applied: —

  • Whilst others they lament with weeping eyes,
  • The darkness of the night doth them surprise.*

Wherefore in this case we should often thus reason with ourselves: Shall we put an end to our sorrow, or shall we grieve all the days of our life? To make it infinite is the last degree of infatuation; for we have seen those who have been in the deepest circumstances of dejection to be so mitigated by time, that they have banqueted upon those tombs which before they could not endure the sight of without screeching out and beating their breasts, but which they can now dance round with music and all the postures of jollity. Therefore to be obstinate in our grief is the resolution of madness. If then thou hast purposed within thyself that it shall have an end, join this consideration with it, that time will assuage it too; for what is once done even the Deity himself cannot unravel; therefore that which hath happened to us beyond our hope and contrary to our opinion hath palpably shown us what is wont from the same causes to befall others. What’s the result then? Cannot any discipline teach us, nor cannot we reason with ourselves, that —

  • The earth with evils doth abound;
  • As many in the sea are found?
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And thus likewise: —

  • The Fates have so encompassed men with ills,
  • That even the wind can find no entrance?

ModernGreek: 27. For many, as Crantor tells us, and those very wise men, not now but long ago have deplored the condition of human nature, esteeming life a punishment, and to be born a man the highest pitch of calamity; this, Aristotle tells us, Silenus declared when he was brought captive to Midas. I think it best to quote the expressions of the philosopher himself, in his book entitled Eudemus, or Of the Soul, wherein he speaks after this manner: —

“Wherefore, thou best and happiest of mankind, if we think those blessed and happy who have departed this life, then it is not only unlawful but even blasphemy to speak any thing that is false or contumelious of them, since they are now changed into a better and more refined nature. And this my opinion is so old, that the original and author of it is utterly unknown; but it hath been derived down to us even from eternity, so established is the truth of it. Besides, thou seest what is so familiar in men’s mouths, and hath been for many years a trite expression. What is that, saith he? He answered him: It is best not to be born at all; and next to that, it is more eligible to die than to live; and this is confirmed even by divine testimony. Pertinently to this they say that Midas, after hunting, asked his captive Silenus somewhat urgently, what was the most desirable thing amongst men. At first he would return no answer, but was obstinately silent. At last, when Midas would not give over importuning him, he broke out into these words, though very unwillingly: ‘Thou seed of an evil genius and precarious offspring of hard fortune, whose life is but for a day, why dost thou compel me to tell thee those things it is better thou wert ignorant of? For those live the least disturbed who know not their misfortunes; but for men, the best for them is not to be Edition: current; Page: [327] born at all, nor to be made partakers of the most excellent nature; not to be is best for both sexes. This should have the first place in our choice; and the next to this is, when we are born, to die as soon as we can.’ It is plain therefore, that he declared the condition of the dead to be better than that of the living.”

I could bring millions of examples to justify this topic, but I will not be long.

ModernGreek: 28. We are not therefore to lament those who die in the bloom of their years, as if they were spoiled of things which we call enjoyments in a longer life; for it is uncertain, as we have often said, whether they are deprived of good or evil, for the evil in the world far exceeds the good. The good we obtain hardly and with anxious endeavor, but the evil easily befalls us; for they say evils are linked together, and by a mutual dependence of causes follow one another, but the good lie scattered and disjoined, and with great difficulty are brought within the compass of our life. Therefore we seem to have forgot our condition; for not only is it true, as Euripides hath it, that

The things we do possess are not our own;*

but in general no man can claim a strict propriety in any thing he hath: —

  • When Gods do riches lend, it is but just
  • That when they please we should resign our trust.

We ought not therefore to take it amiss if they demand those things which they lent us only for a small time; for even your common brokers, unless they are unjust, will not be displeased if they are called upon to refund their pawns, and if one of them is not altogether so ready to deliver them, thou mayst say to him without any injury, Hast thou forgot that thou receivedst them upon the condition to restore them? The same parity of reason holds amongst all men. The Gods have put life into our hands by a fatal Edition: current; Page: [328] necessity, and there is no prefixed time when what is so deposited will be required of us, as the brokers know not when their pawns will be demanded. If therefore any one is angry when he is dying himself, or resents the death of his children, is it not very plain, that he hath forgot that he himself is a man and that he hath begotten children as frail as himself? For a man that is in his wits cannot be ignorant that he is a mortal creature, and born to this very end that he must die. If Niobe, as it is in the fable, had had this sentence always at hand, that she must at length die, and could not

  • In the ever-flowering bloom of youth remain,
  • Nor loaded with children, like a fruitful tree,
  • Behold the sun’s sweet light, —

she would never have sunk to such a degree of desperation as to desire to throw off her life to ease the burthen of her sorrow, and call upon the Gods to hurry her into the utmost destruction. There are two sentences inscribed upon the Delphic oracle, hugely accommodated to the usages of man’s life, Know thyself, and Nothing too much; and upon these all other precepts depend. And they themselves accord and harmonize with each other, and each seems to illustrate the energy of the other; for in Know thyself is included Nothing too much; and so again in the latter is comprised Know thyself. And Ion hath spoken of it thus: —

  • This sentence, Know thyself, is but a word;
  • But only Jove himself could do the thing.

And thus Pindar: —

  • This sentence briet, Do nothing to excess,
  • Wise men have always praised exceedingly.

ModernGreek: 29. He therefore that hath these impressed upon his mind as the precepts of the Pythian oracle, can easily conform himself to all the affairs of life, and bear them handsomely; considering his nature, so that he is neither lifted up to arrogance upon a prosperous event, nor when Edition: current; Page: [329] an adverse happens, is dejected into complaint through pusillanimity and that fear of death which is so congenial to us; both which proceed from the ignorance of those things which fall out in human life by necessity and fatal decree. The Pythagoreans speak handsomely to this purpose: —

  • Against those evils thou shouldest not repine,
  • Which are inflicted by the powers divine.

Thus the tragedian Aeschylus: —

  • He store of wisdom and of virtue hath,
  • Whom nothing from the Gods provokes to wrath.

Euripides thus: —

  • He that is passive when the Fates command
  • Is wise, and all the Gods doth understand.

In another place so: —

  • He that can bear those things which men befall,
  • Him wise and modest we may justly call.

ModernGreek: 30. But many there are who blame all things; and whatsoever unexpectedly happens to them, they think is procured them by the malignity of Fortune and the spite of some evil genius. Wherefore they are querulous and cry out upon every occasion, inveighing against the bitterness of their mishaps. Their complaints we may not unfitly obviate with this expression, —

The Gods do hurt thee not, but thou thyself, —

even thou thyself through perverseness and want of good instruction. And by reason of this false and deceiving opinion they accuse any kind of death; for if one die upon his travel, they exclaim after this manner: —

  • The wretch, his father being absent, dies;
  • Nor did his aged mother close his eyes.*

If he die in his own country, with his parents about him, they lament that he is ravished out of their hands, and hath left them nothing but regret for his loss. If he Edition: current; Page: [330] die silent, giving them no instructions at parting, they complain thus: —

  • His tender dying words I did not hear,
  • Which I in my remembrance still should bear.*

If he spoke any thing before he breathed out his soul, they keep those last accents as fuel to maintain their sorrow still kindled. If he die a sudden death, they cry out that he is snatched away; if chronical pains waste him, they will tell you that the slow distemper hath emaciated him to death. Thus every appearance, take it which way you will, is sufficient to stir up your complaints. These things the poets have introduced, and the chiefest among them, Homer, who sung after this manner: —

  • As a poor father, helpless and undone,
  • Mourns o’er the ashes of an only son,
  • Takes a sad pleasure the last bones to burn,
  • And pours in tears ere yet they close the urn.

And whether these things are justly lamented doth not yet appear. But see what he elsewhere sings: —

  • Born in his elder years, his only boy,
  • Who was designed his riches to enjoy.

ModernGreek: 31. Who knows but that the Deity, with a fatherly providence and out of tenderness to mankind, foreseeing what would happen, hath taken some purposely out of this life by an untimely death? So we should think that nothing has befallen them which they should have sought to shun, —

For nought that cometh by necessity is hard,

neither of those things which fall out by a precedent ratiocination or a subsequent. And many by a timely death have been withdrawn from greater calamities; so that it hath been good for some never to have been born at all; for others, that as soon as life hath been blown in it should be extinguished; for some, that they should live a little longer; and for others again, that they should be Edition: current; Page: [331] cropped in the prime of their youth. These several sorts of deaths should be taken in good part, since Fate is inevitable. Therefore it becomes men well educated to consider that those who have paid their debt to mortality have only gone before us a little time; that the longest life is but as a point in respect of eternity, and that many who have indulged their sorrow to excess have themselves followed in a small while those that they have lamented, having reaped no profit out of their complaints, but macerated themselves with voluntary afflictions. Since then the time of our pilgrimage in this life is but short, we ought not to consume ourselves with sordid grief, and so render ourselves unhappy by afflicting our minds and tormenting our bodies; but we should endeavor after a more manly and rational sort of life, and not associate ourselves with those who will be companions in grief and by flattering our tears will only excite them the more, but rather with those who will diminish our grief by solemn and generous consolation. And we ought to hear and keep in our remembrance those words of Homer wherewith Hector answers Andromache, comforting her after this manner: —

  • Andromache, my soul’s far better part,
  • Why with untimely sorrows heaves thy heart:
  • No hostile hand can antedate my doom,
  • Till Fate condemns me to the silent tomb.
  • Fix’d is the term to all the race of earth,
  • And such the hard condition of our birth:
  • No force can then resist, no flight can save,
  • All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.*

Which the poet expresseth in another place thus:

The thread which at his birth for him was spun.

ModernGreek: 32. Having these things fixed in our minds, all vain and fruitless sorrow will be superseded; the time that we have all to live being but very short, we ought to spare and Edition: current; Page: [332] husband it, and not lay it out too prodigally upon sorrow, but rather spend it in tranquillity, deserting the mournful colors, and so take care of our own bodies, and consult the safety of those who live with us. It is requisite that we should call to mind what reasons we urged to our kinsmen and friends when they were in the like calamities, when we exhorted them to suffer these usual accidents of life with a common patience, and bear mortal things with humanity; lest being prepared with instructions for other men’s misfortunes, we reap no benefit ourselves out of the remembrance of those consolations, and so do not cure our minds by the sovereign application of reason. For in any thing a delay is less dangerous than in sorrow; and when by every one it is so tritely said, that he that procrastinates in an affair contests with destruction, I think the character will more fitly sit upon him who defers the removing his troubles and the perturbations of his mind.

ModernGreek: 33. We ought also to cast our eyes upon those conspicuous examples who have borne the deaths of their sons generously and with a great spirit; such as were Anaxagoras of Clazomenae, Demosthenes of Athens, Dion of Syracuse, King Antigonus, and many others who have lived either in our times or in the memory of our fathers. They report of Anaxagoras that, when he was reading natural philosophy to his pupils and reasoning with them, sudden news was brought him of the death of his son. He presently stopped short in his lecture, and said this to his auditors, I knew that I begot my son mortal. And of Pericles, who was surnamed Olympius for his wisdom and the strength of his eloquence, when he heard that both his sons were dead, Paralus and Xanthippus, how he behaved himself upon this accident Protagoras tells us in these words. “When his sons,” saith he, “being in the first verdure of their youth and handsome lads, died within eight days, he bore the calamity without any repining; for he was Edition: current; Page: [333] of a pacific temper, from whence there was every day an accession of advantages towards the making him happy, the being free from grief, and thereby acquiring a great reputation amongst his fellow-citizens. For every one that saw him bear this calamity with so brave a resolution thought him magnanimous, and indeed entertained an higher opinion of him than he strictly deserved; for he was conscious to himself of some weakness and defects in cases of this nature.” Now after he had received the news of the death of his sons, he put on a garland according to the custom of his country, and being clothed in white, he made an harangue to the people, was the author of safe and rational counsels, and stirred up the courage of his Athenians to warlike expeditions. Chronicles tell us, that when an express came out of the field to Xenophon the Socratic as he was sacrificing, which acquainted him that his son perished in the fight, he pulled the garland from his head, and enquired after what manner he fell; and it being told him that he died gallantly, making a great slaughter of his enemies, after he had paused awhile to recollect his thoughts and quiet his first emotion of concern with reason, he adorned his head again, finished the sacrifice, and spoke thus to the messengers: I did not make it my request to the Gods, that my son might be immortal or long-lived, for it is not manifest whether this was convenient for him or not, but that he might have integrity in his principles and be a lover of his country; and now I have my desire. Dion of Syracuse, as he was consulting with his friends concerning some affairs, heard a great noise; and crying out and asking what was the matter, he was told the accident, that his son was killed with a fall from the top of the house. He was not at all surprised or astonished at the disaster, but commanded the dead body to be delivered to the women, that they might bury it according to custom. But he went on with his first deliberations, and re-assumed his discourse Edition: current; Page: [334] in that part where this accident had broken it off. It is said that Demosthenes the orator imitated him upon the loss of his only and dearest daughter; about which Aeschines, thinking to upbraid him, spoke after this manner: Within seven days after the death of his daughter, before he had performed the decencies of sorrow, and paid those common rites to the memory of the deceased, he put on a garland, clothed himself in white, and sacrificed, thereby outraging decency, though he had lost his only daughter, the one which had first called him father.* Thus did Aeschines with the strokes of his oratory accuse Demosthenes, not knowing that he rather deserved a panegyric upon this occasion, when he rejected his sorrow and preferred the love of his country to the tenderness and compassion he ought to have for his relations. King Antigonus, when he heard the death of his son Alcyoneus who was slain in battle, looking steadily upon the messengers of these sad tidings, after a little interval of silence and with a modest countenance, spoke thus: O Alcyoneus, thou hast fallen later than I thought thou wouldst, so brisk wast thou to run upon the thickest of thy enemies, having no regard either to thy own safety or to my admonitions. Every one praiseth these men for the bravery of their spirit, but none can imitate what they have done, through the weakness of their minds which proceeds from want of good instruction. But although there are many examples extant, both in the Greek and Roman stories, of those who have borne the death of their relations not only with decency but courage, I think these that I have related to be a sufficient motive to thee to keep tormenting grief at a distance, and so ease thyself of that labor which hath no profit in it and is all in vain.

ModernGreek: 34. For that virtuous men die in the prime of their years by the kindness of the Gods, to whom they are peculiarly Edition: current; Page: [335] dear, I have already told thee in the former part of my discourse, and will give a short hint of it now, bearing witness to that which is so prettily said by Menander: —

He whom the Gods do love dies young.

But perhaps, my dear Apollonius, thou wilt thus object to me: My young Apollonius was blessed by fortune in his life, and I ought first to have died that he might bury me; for this is according to nature. According to our human nature, I confess; but Providence hath other measures, and that supreme order which governs the world is very different; for thy son being now made happy, it was not requisite according to nature that he should tarry in this life longer than the time prefixed him, but that, having consummated the term of his duration, he should perform his fatal journey, Nature recalling him to herself. But he died untimely, you may say. Upon that account he is the happier, not having been sensible of those evils which are incident to life. For Euripides said truly: —

  • The time of being here we style amiss;
  • We call it life, but truly labor ’tis.

Thy Apollonius died in the beautiful flower of his years, a youth in all points perfect, who gained the love, and provoked the emulation of all his contemporaries He was dutiful to his father and mother, obliging to his domestics, was a scholar, and (to comprehend all in a word) he was a lover of mankind. He had a veneration for the old men that were his friends, as if they had been his parents, had an affection for his companions and equals, reverenced his instructors, was hospitable and mild to his guests and strangers, gracious to all, and beloved by all, as well for his attractive countenance as for his lovely affability. Therefore, being accompanied with the applauses of thy piety and his own, he hath only made a digression from this mortal life to eternity, as if he had withdrawn from the entertainment before he grew absurd, and before the staggerings Edition: current; Page: [336] of drunkenness came upon him, which are incident to a long old age. Now if the sayings of the old philosophers and poets are true, as there is probability to think, that honors and high seats of dignity are conferred upon the righteous after they are departed this life, and if, as it is said, a particular region is appointed for their souls to dwell in, you ought to cherish very fair hopes that your son stands numbered amongst those blest inhabitants.

ModernGreek: 35. Of the state of the pious after death, Pindar discourseth after this manner: —

  • There the sun shines with an unsullied light,
  • When all the world below is thick with night.
  • There all the richly scented plants do grow,
  • And there the crimson-colored roses blow;
  • Each flower blooming on its tender stalk,
  • And all these meadows are their evening walk.
  • There trees peculiarly delight the sense,
  • With their exhaled perfumes of frankincense.
  • The boughs their noble burdens cannot hold,
  • The weight must sink them when the fruit is gold.
  • Some do the horse unto the manege bring,
  • Others unto the tuneful lute do sing;
  • There’s plenty to excess of every thing.
  • The region always doth serene appear,
  • The sun and pious flames do make it clear,
  • Where fragrant gums do from the altars rise,
  • When to the Gods they offer sacrifice.

And proceeding farther, in another lamentation he spake thus concerning the soul: —

  • Just we that distribution may call,
  • Which to each man impartially doth fall.
  • It doth decide the dull contentious strife,
  • And easeth the calamities of life.
  • Death doth its efforts on the body spend;
  • But the aspiring soul doth upwards tend.
  • Nothing can damp that bright and subtile flame,
  • Immortal as the Gods from whence it came.
  • But this sometimes a drowsy nap will take,
  • When all the other members are awake.
  • Fancy in various dreams doth to it show,
  • What punishments unto each crime is due;
  • What pleasures are reserved for pious deeds,
  • And with what scourges the incestuous bleeds.
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ModernGreek: 36. Divine Plato hath spoken many things of the immortality of the soul in that book which he calls his Phaedo; not a few in his Republic, his Menon, and his Gorgias; and hath some scattered expressions in the rest of his dialogues. The things which are written by him in his Dialogue concerning the Soul I will send you by themselves, illustrated with my commentaries upon them, according to your request. I will now only quote those which are opportune and to the present purpose, and they are the words of Socrates to Callicles the Athenian, who was the companion and scholar of Gorgias the rhetorician. For so saith Socrates in Plato: —

“Hear then,” saith he, “a most elegant story, which you, I fancy, will think to be a fable, but I take it to be a truth, for the things which I shall tell you have nothing but reality in them. Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, as Homer tells us, divided amongst themselves the kingdom which they received by inheritance from their father; but there was a law established concerning men in the reign of Saturn, which was then valid and still remains in force amongst the Gods, that that mortal which had led a just and pious life should go, when he died, into the fortunate islands of the blest, and there dwell in happiness, free from all misery; but he that had lived impiously and in contempt of the Gods should be shackled with vengeance, and be thrust into that prison which they call Tartarus. In the time of Saturn, and in the first beginning of Jove’s empire, the living judged the living, and that the same day that they were to die; whereupon the decisions of the bench were not rightly managed. Therefore Pluto and his curators under him came out of these fortunate islands, and complained to Jupiter that men were sent to both places who were not worthy. I, saith Jupiter, will take care that this thing be not practised for the future; for the reason that the sentences are now unjustly passed is that the guilty come Edition: current; Page: [338] clothed to the tribunal, and whilst they are yet alive. For some of profligate dispositions are yet palliated with a beautiful outside, with riches, and titles of nobility; and so when they come to be arraigned, many will offer themselves as witnesses to swear that they have lived very pious lives. The judges are dazzled with these appearances, and they sit upon them too in their robes; so that their minds are (as it were) covered and obscured with eyes and ears, and indeed with the encumbrance of the whole body. The judges and the prisoners being clothed is thus a very great impediment. Therefore in the first place the foreknowledge of death is to be taken away; for now they see the end of their line, and Prometheus has been commanded to see that this be no longer allowed. Next they ought to be divested of all dress and ornament, and come dead to the tribunal. The judge himself is to be naked and dead too, that with his own soul he may view the naked soul of each one so soon as he is dead, when he is now forsaken of his relations, and has left behind him all his gayeties in the other world; and so justice will be impartially pronounced. Deliberating on this with myself before I received your advice, I have constituted my sons judges, Minos and Rhadamanthus from Asia, and Aeacus from Europe; these therefore, after they have departed this life, shall assume their character, and exercise it in the field, and in the road where two ways divide themselves, the one leading to the fortunate islands, and the other to the deep abyss; so Rhadamanthus shall judge the Asians, and Aeacus the Europeans. But to Minos I will grant the authority of a final appeal, that if any thing hath escaped the notice of the others, it shall be subjected to his cognizance, as to the last resort of a supreme judge; that so it may be rightly decided what journey every one ought to take. These are the things, Callicles, which I have heard and think to be true; and I draw this rational inference from them, that Edition: current; Page: [339] death in my opinion is nothing else but the separation of two things nearly united, which are soul and body.”*

ModernGreek: 37. These collections, my dear Apollonius, I have joined together with all the accuracy I could, and out of them composed this consolatory letter I now send thee, which is very necessary to dispel thy melancholy humor and put a period to thy sighs. I have paid likewise that deference which became me to the ashes of thy son, who is the darling of the Gods, such an honor being most acceptable to those whom fame hath consecrated to immortality. Thou wilt therefore do handsomely to believe the reasons I have urged to thee, and gratify thy deceased son, by shaking off this unprofitable sorrow, which eats into thy mind and afflicts thy body, and again returning to that course of humor which nature hath chalked out and the former customs of thy life have made familiar to thee. For as, when thy son lived amongst us, he could not without the deepest regret see thee or his mother sad, so now that he is amongst the Gods enjoying the intimacy of their conversation, such a prospect from thence must be much more displeasing. Therefore take up the resolutions of a good and generous man and of one who loved his son, and so extricate thyself, the mother of the lad, thy kinsmen and friends at once from this great infelicity. Betake thyself to a more tranquil sort of life; which, as it will be acceptable to thy son, will also be extremely pleasing to all of us who have that concern for thee that we ought to have.

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Concerning the virtues of women, O Clea, I am not of the same mind with Thucydides. For he would prove that she is the best woman concerning whom there is the least discourse made by people abroad, either to her praise or dispraise; judging that, as the person, so the very name of a good woman ought to be retired and not gad abroad. But to us Gorgias seems more accurate, who requires that not only the face but the fame of a woman should be known to many. For the Roman law seems exceeding good, which permits due praises to be given publicly both to men and women after death. Wherefore when Leontis, a most excellent woman, departed this life, immediately we made a long oration to thee about her, and truly not devoid of philosophical consolation; and now (as thou didst desire) I send thee in writing the rest of my speech and conversation, carrying with it an historical demonstration that the virtue of a man and woman is one and the same. And although it be not composed for the tickling of the ear, yet if there be jucundity in the nature of an example to him that is persuaded of the truth of it, my narration fails not of that grace which works conviction; neither is it ashamed of commixing the Graces with the Muses in the sweetest harmony (as Euripides saith), while it engageth confidence especially through that part of the soul which is studious of grace and beauty. For surely, if, whilst we asserted the art of painting to be the same, whether performed Edition: current; Page: [341] by men or women, we produced the same sort of draughts wrought by women which Apelles, Zeuxis, or Nicomachus hath left, is there any one who would reprehend us as attempting rather to humor and cajole men than to convince them? Verily I do not think it. Moreover, if, whilst we go to make appear that the poetic or comic art is not one thing in men and another in women, we compare Sappho’s verses with Anacreon’s, or the Sibylline oracles with those of Bacis, can any one justly blame this way of argumentation, because it insinuates a credence into the pleased and delighted hearers? No one surely would say this. Neither can a man truly any way better learn the resemblance and the difference between feminine and virile virtue than by comparing together lives with lives, exploits with exploits, as the products of some great art; duly considering whether the magnanimity of Semiramis carries with it the same character and impression with that of Sesostris, or the cunning of Tanaquil the same with that of King Servius, or the discretion of Porcia the same with that of Brutus, or that of Pelopidas with Timoclea, — regarding that quality of these virtues wherein lie their chiefest point and force. Moreover, virtues do admit some other differences, like peculiar colors, by reason of men’s dispositions, and are assimilated to the manners and temperaments of the bodies wherein they are, yea, to the education and manner of diet. Achilles was courageous in one manner, Ajax in another; the subtlety of Ulysses was not like that of Nestor, neither were Cato and Agesilaus just after the same manner; neither was Eirene a lover of her husband as Alcestis was; neither was Cornelia magnanimous in the same way with Olympias. But, for all this, we do not say that there are many kinds of fortitude, prudence, and justice specifically distinct, so long as their individual dissimilitudes exclude none of them from the specific definitions.

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Those things now which are very commonly discoursed of, and of which I know thou hast had the exact history and knowledge from solid books, I will at present omit, unless there be some public and recorded matters worth your hearing, which have escaped the historians of former times.

And seeing that many worthy things, both public and private, have been done by women, it is not amiss to give a brief historical account of those that are public, in the first place.

EXAMPLE 1.: Of the Trojan Women.

Of those that escaped at the taking of Troy the most part were exercised with much tempestuous weather, and being inexperienced in navigation and unacquainted with the sea, they were wafted over into Italy; and about the river Tiber they made a very narrow escape by putting into such ports and havens as they could meet with. Whilst the men went about the country to enquire after pilots, there fell out a discourse among the women, that for a people as fortunate and happy as they had been, any fixed habitation on the land was better than perpetual wandering over the sea; and that they must make a new country for themselves, seeing it was impossible to recover that which they had lost. Upon this, complotting together, they set fire on the ships, Roma (as they say) being one of the first in the attempt. But having done these things, they went to meet their husbands, who were running towards the sea to the relief of the ships; and fearing their indignation, they laid hold some of them on their husbands, and some on their kinsfolk, and fell a kissing them soundly; by which carriage they obtained their charitable reception. Wherefore it hath been formerly, and now remains to be a custom among the Romans, for the women to salute their kinsfolk that come unto them by kissing.

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The Trojans as it seems, being sensible of the strait they were in, and having also made some experience of the natives entertaining them with much bounty and humanity, applauded the exploit of the women, and sat down by the Latins.

EXAMPLE 2.: Of the Phocian Women.

The action of the women of Phocis hath not fallen under the cognizance of any noted writer of that age, and yet there was never a more memorable deed of virtue wrought by women, — the which is attested by those famous sacred rites performed by the Phocians at Hyampolis, and by ancient decrees. The total history of the transaction is particularly recorded in the Life of Daiphantus.

The story of those women is this. There was an implacable war between the Thessalians and the Phocians. For these (the Phocians) slew all the Thessalian governors and magistrates in the cities of Phocis in one day. Whereupon they (the Thessalians) slew two hundred and fifty Phocian hostages, and with their whole host marched up against them through Locris, publishing their resolution to spare no men that were of age, and to sell the women and children for slaves. Daiphantus therefore, the son of Bathyllius, a triumvir, governor of Phocis, persuaded the Phocian men themselves to go to meet the Thessalians in battle; but as for the women, together with their children, that they should assemble them from all the parts of Phocis into one place, which they should pile round with combustible matter, and should leave a watch, to whom they should give in charge, that if he perceived that the men were conquered, he should immediately set fire to the pile and burn all the bodies to ashes. The counsels were agreed to by some, but one stands up and saith: It is just that these things be consented to by the women also, and Edition: current; Page: [344] if they do not cheerfully submit to it, they should have no force offered to them. The account of this discourse being come to the women, they assembled together by themselves, and carried it by vote, and applauded Daiphantus as a man that best consulted the affairs of Phocis; they say also, that the children meeting together privately voted the same things. These matters being thus settled, the Phocians joining battle at Cleonae, a town of Hyampolis, got the victory. Hence the Grecians call this vote of the Phocian women Aponoia (the desperate resolve). And of all the festivals this of the Elaphebolia is the greatest, which they observe to Diana in Hyampolis to this day, in remembrance of this victory.

EXAMPLE 3.: Of the Women of Chios.

The people of Chios possessed themselves of Leuconia upon this occasion following. A certain famous man of the nobles of Chios was married; whilst the bride was drawn in her chariot, King Hippoclus, an intimate friend of the bridegroom’s, being present with the rest, and also fuddled and merry, leaped into the chariot, not designing any incivility, but only to keep up the usual custom and to make sport. However, the bridegroom’s friends slew him. The effects of divine displeasure appearing against the people of Chios, and the oracle commanding them to slay the slayers of Hippoclus, they replied, We have all of us slain Hippoclus. The oracle commanded them all therefore to depart the city, if all did partake of the guilt. So that at length the principals, accessories, and abettors of the murder by any means whatsoever, being not a few in number nor feeble for strength, transplanted themselves into Leuconia, which the Chians had once taken from the Coroneans by the aid of the Erythraeans. Afterward a war arising between them and the Erythraeans, by far the most potent Edition: current; Page: [345] people among the Ionians, when the latter invaded Leuconia, the men of Chios were not able to defend themselves and came to an agreement to depart upon these terms that every one should take with him only one cloak and one coat, and nothing else. But the women of Chios upbraided them as mean-spirited men, that they would lay down their weapons and go naked men through their enemies. And when they made answer that they were sworn so to do, they charged them not to leave their weapons behind them, but to say to their adversaries, that the spear is a cloak and the buckler a coat to every man of courage. The men of Chios being persuaded to these things, and emboldening themselves courageously against the Erythraeans, and showing their weapons, the Erythraeans were amazed at their audacity, and none opposed or hindered them, but were glad of their departure. These men therefore, being taught courage by the women in this manner, made a safe escape.

Many years after this there was another exploit, nothing inferior to this in fortitude, performed by the women of Chios. When Philip, the son of Demetrius, besieged the city, he set forth a barbarous and insolent proclamation, inviting the servants to a defection upon promise of liberty and marriage of their mistresses, saying that he would give them their masters’ wives into their possession. At this the women were dreadfully and outrageously incensed; and also the servants were no less provoked to indignation, and were ready to assist. Therefore they rushed forth furiously and ascended the wall, bringing stones and darts, encouraging and animating the soldiers; so that in the end these women discomfited and repulsed the enemy, and caused Philip to raise his siege, while not so much as one servant fell off to him.

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EXAMPLE 4.: Of the Argive Women.

Of all the renowned actions performed by women, none was more famous than the fight with Cleomenes in the country of Argos, whom Telesilla the poetess by her influence defeated. This woman they say was of an honorable family, but had a sickly body; she therefore sent to consult the oracle concerning her health. Answer was made, that she must be a servant to the Muses. Accordingly she becomes obedient to the Goddess, applying herself to poetry and music; her distempers left her, and she became the mirror of women in the art of poetry. Now when Cleomenes, king of the Spartans, having slain many Argives (but not so many as some fabulously reported, to wit, 7,777), marched up against the city, the youthful women were (as it were) divinely inspired with desperate resolution and courage to repulse the enemies out of their native country.

They take arms under the conduct of Telesilla, they place themselves upon the battlements, they crown the walls, even to the admiration of the enemy; they by a sally beat off Cleomenes, with the slaughter of many of his men; and as for the other king, Demaratus (as Socrates saith), he having entered the city and possessed him of the socalled Pamphyliacum, they beat him out. In this manner the city being preserved, those women that were slain in the engagement they buried by the Argive road; to them that escaped they gave the honor of erecting the statue of Mars, in perpetual memorial of their bravery. Some say this fight was on the seventh day of the month; others say it was on the first day of the month, which is now called the fourth and was anciently called Hermaeus by the Argives; upon which day, even to this time, they perform their Hybristica (i.e., their sacred rites of incivility), clothing the women with men’s coats and cloaks, but the men with women’s veils and petticoats. To repair the scarcity Edition: current; Page: [347] of men, they admitted not slaves, as Herodotus saith, but the best sort of the adjacent inhabitants to be citizens, and married them to the widows; and these the women thought meet to reproach and undervalue at bed and board, as worse than themselves; whence there was a law made, that married women should wear beards when they lay with their husbands.

EXAMPLE 5.: Of the Persian Women.

Cyrus, causing the Persians to revolt from King Astyages and the Medes, was overcome in battle; and the Persians retreating by flight into the city, the enemy pursued so close that they had almost fallen into the city with them. The women ran out to meet them before the city, plucking up their petticoats to their middle, saying, Ye vilest varlets among men, whither so fast? Ye surely cannot find a refuge in these parts, from whence ye came forth. The Persians blushing for shame at the sight and speech, and rebuking themselves, faced about, and renewing the fight routed their enemies. Hence a law was enacted, that when the king enters the city, every woman should receive a piece of gold; and this law Cyrus made. And they say that Ochus, being in other kinds a naughty and covetous king, would always, when he came, compass the city and not enter it, and so deprive the women of their largess; but Alexander entered twice, and gave all the women with child a double benevolence

EXAMPLE 6.: Of the Celtic Women.

There arose a very grievous and irreconcilable contention among the Celts, before they passed over the Alps to inhabit that tract of Italy which now they inhabit, which proceeded to a civil war. The women placing themselves between the armies, took up the controversies, argued them so accurately, and determined them so impartially, Edition: current; Page: [348] that an admirable friendly correspondence and general amity ensued, both civil and domestic. Hence the Celts made it their practice to take women into consultation about peace or war, and to use them as mediators in any controversies that arose between them and their allies. In the league therefore made with Hannibal, the writing runs thus: If the Celts take occasion of quarrelling with the Carthaginians, the governors and generals of the Carthaginians in Spain shall decide the controversy; but if the Carthaginians accuse the Celts, the Celtic women shall be judges.

EXAMPLE 7.: Of the Melian Women.

The Melians standing in need of a larger country constituted Nymphaeus, a handsome man and marvellously comely, the commander for the transplanting of the colony. The oracle enjoined them to continue sailing till they cast away their ships, and there to pitch their colony. It happened that, when they arrived at Caria and went ashore, their ships were broken to pieces by a storm. Some of the Carians which dwelt at Cryassus, whether commiserating their distressed condition or dreading their resolution, invited them to dwell in their neighborhood, and bestowed upon them a part of their country; but then observing their marvellous increase in a little time, they conspired to cut them off by treachery, and provided a feast and great entertainment for that end and purpose. But it came to pass that a certain virgin in Caria, whose name was Caphene, fell in love with Nymphaeus. While these things were in agitation, she could not endure to connive at the destruction of her beloved Nymphaeus, and therefore acquainted him privately with the conspiracy of the citizens against him. When the Cryassians came to invite them, Nymphaeus made this answer: It is not the custom of the Greeks to go to a feast without their wives. The Edition: current; Page: [349] Carians hearing this requested them also to bring their wives; and so explaining the whole transaction to the Melians, he charged the men to go without armor in plain apparel, but that every one of the women should carry a dagger stuck in her bosom, and that each should take her place by her husband. About the middle of supper, their signal token was given to the Carians; the point of time also the Grecians were sensible of. Accordingly the women laid open their bosoms, and the men laid hold of the daggers, and sheathing them in the barbarians, slew them all together. And possessing themselves of the country, they overthrew that city, and built another, which they called New Cryassus. Moreover, Caphene being married to Nymphaeus received due honor and grateful acknowledgments becoming her good services. Here the taciturnity and courage of women is worthy of admiration, that none of them among so many did so much as unwittingly, by reason of fear, betray their trust.

EXAMPLE 8.: Of the Tyrrhene Women.

At the time when the Tyrrhenians inhabited the islands Lemnos and Imbros, they violently seized upon some Athenian women from Brauron, on whom they begat children, which children the Athenians banished from the islands as mixed barbarians. But these arriving at Taenarum were serviceable to the Spartans in the Helotic war, and therefore obtained the privilege of citizens and marriage, but were not dignified with magistracies or admitted to the senate; for they had a suspicion that they would combine together in order to some innovation, and conceived they might shake the present established government. Wherefore the Lacedaemonians, seizing on them and securing them, shut them up close prisoners, seeking to take them off by evident and strong convictions. But the wives of the prisoners, gathering together about the prison, by many Edition: current; Page: [350] supplications prevailed with the jailers that they might be admitted to go to salute their husbands and speak with them. As soon as they came in, they required them to change their clothes immediately and leave them to their wives; while the men, apparelled in their wives’ habits, should go forth. These things being effected, the women stayed behind, prepared to endure all hard usages of the prison, but the deluded keepers let out the men as if they had been their wives. Whereupon they seized upon Taygeta, exciting the Helotic people to revolt, and taking them to their aid; but the Spartans, alarmed by these things into a great consternation, by a herald proclaimed a treaty of peace. And they were reconciled upon these conditions, that they should receive their wives again, and furnished with ships and provisions should make an expedition by sea, and possessing themselves of a land and a city elsewhere should be accounted a colony and allies of the Lacedaemonians. These things did the Pelasgians, taking Pollis for their captain and Crataedas his brother, both Lacedaemonians, and one part of them took up their seat in Melos; but the most part of them, which were shipped with Pollis, sailed into Crete, trying the truth of the oracles, by whom they were told that, when they should lose their Goddess and their anchor, then they should put an end to their roving and there build a city. Wherefore, putting into harbor on that part of Crete called Chersonesus, panic fears fell upon them by night, at which coming under a consternation, they leaped tumultuously on board their ships, leaving on shore for haste the statue of Diana, which was their patrimony brought from Brauron to Lemnos, and from Lemnos carried about with them wherever they went. The tumult being appeased, when they had set sail, they missed this statue; and at the same time Pollis, finding that his anchor had lost one of its beards (for the anchor, having been dragged, as appeared, through some rocky Edition: current; Page: [351] place, was accidentally torn), said that the oracular answer of the Pythia was accomplished. Therefore he gave a sign to tack about, and accordingly made an inroad into that country, conquered those that opposed him in many battles, sat down at Lyctus, and brought many other cities to be tributary to him. And now they repute themselves to be akin to the Athenians on their mothers’ side, and to be Spartan colonies.

EXAMPLE 9.: Of the Lycian Women.

That which is reported to have fallen out in Lycia, although it be fabulous, hath yet common fame attesting it. Amisodarus, as they say, whom the Lycians call Isaras, came from a colony of the Lycians about Zeleia, bringing with him pirate ships, which Chimarrhus, a warlike man, who was also savage and brutish, was commander of. He sailed in a ship which had a lion carved on her head and a dragon on her stern. He did much mischief to the Lycians, so that they could not sail on the sea nor inhabit the towns nigh the sea-coast.

This man Bellerophon pursued with his Pegasus and slew him, and also defeated the Amazons, for which he obtained no due requital, but Iobates the king was most unjust to him; upon which Bellerophon went to the seashore, and made earnest supplication by himself to Neptune that he would render that country barren and unfruitful; and having said his prayers, he faced about. Upon which the waves of the sea arose and overwhelmed the land, and it was a dreadful sight to behold the lofty billows following Bellerophon and drowning the plain. And now, when the men by their deprecation, laboring to put a stop to Bellerophon, availed nothing at all, the women plucking up their petticoats met him full butt; upon which confounded with shame he turned back again, and the flood, as they say, returned with him. But some Edition: current; Page: [352] unriddle the fabulous part of this story, by telling us that it was not by execrations that he brought up the sea; but the fattest part of the plain lying lower than the sea, and a certain ridge extending itself all along the shore which beat off the sea, Bellerophon broke through this, so that the sea forcibly flowed in and overwhelmed the plain; and when the men by their humble addresses obtained nothing, the women assembling about him in multitudes gained respect from him and pacified his wrath. Some tell us that the celebrated Chimaera was a mountain opposite to the sun, which caused reflections of the sun’s beams, and in summer ardent and fiery heats, which spread over the plain and withered the fruits; and Bellerophon, finding out the reason of the mischief, cut through the smoothest part of the cliff, which especially caused these reflections. But on seeing that he was treated ungratefully, his indignation was excited to take vengeance on the Lycians, but was appeased by the women. The reason which Nymphis (in the fourth book concerning Heraclea) doth assign is to me not at all fabulous; for he saith, when Bellerophon slew a certain wild boar, which destroyed the cattle and fruits in the province of the Xanthians, and received no due reward of his service, he prayed to Neptune for vengeance, and obtained that all the fields should cast forth a salt dew and be universally corrupted, the soil becoming bitter; which continued till he, condescendingly regarding the women suppliants, prayed to Neptune, and removed his wrath from them. Hence there was a law among the Xanthians, that they should not for the future derive their names from their fathers, but from their mothers.

EXAMPLE 10.: Of the Women of Salmantica.

When Hannibal, the son of Barca, besieged the great city Salmantica in Spain, before he fought against the Romans, at the first assault the besieged citizens were surprised Edition: current; Page: [353] with fear, insomuch that they consented to grant him his demands, and to give him three hundred talents of silver and three hundred hostages. Upon which he raised his siege; when they changed their minds, and would not perform any thing that they had promised. Wherefore returning again to his siege, he gave command to his soldiers to take the city by storm, and fall to the plundering their goods. At this the barbarians, struck universally into a panic fear, came to terms of composition, for the free citizens to depart the city with their clothes to their backs, but to leave their weapons, goods, slaves, and city behind them. Now the women supposed that, although the enemies would strictly search every man as he departed, yet the women would go untouched. Accordingly, taking scimitars and hiding them under their coats, they fell in with the men as they marched out. When they were all gone out of the city, Hannibal sets a guard of Masaesylian soldiers, fixing their post without the gate, but the rest of his army fell promiscuously into the city to plunder. But the Masaesylians, seeing them busy in carrying away much spoil, were not able any longer to refrain or to mind the charge of their watch, taking it heinously that that was their lot, and therefore left their post and went to take their share of the booty. Upon this the women raised a shout to animate their husbands, and delivered the scimitars into their hands, and they themselves some of them fell upon the sentinels; insomuch that one of them, snatching away the spear of Banon the interpreter, smote him with it, though he was armed with a breastplate. And as for the rest, the men routed and put some to flight and slew others, making their escape by charging through them in a great body together with the women. Hannibal, being made acquainted with these things, pursued them, and those he took he slew; but some betaking themselves to the mountains easily made their escape, and afterwards, sending Edition: current; Page: [354] in their humble supplications, were admitted by him into the city, obtaining indemnity and civil usage.

EXAMPLE 11.: Of the Women of Milesia.

A certain dreadful and monstrous distemper did seize the Milesian maids, arising from some hidden cause. It is most likely the air had acquired some infatuating and venomous quality, that did influence them to this change and alienation of mind; for all on a sudden an earnest longing for death, with furious attempts to hang themselves, did attack them, and many did privily accomplish it. The arguments and tears of parents and the persuasion of friends availed nothing, but they circumvented their keepers in all their contrivances and industry to prevent them, still murdering themselves. And the calamity seemed to be an extraordinary divine stroke and beyond human help, until by the counsel of a wise man a decree of the senate was passed, enacting that those maids who hanged themselves should be carried naked through the market-place. The passage of this law not only inhibited but quashed their desire of slaying themselves. Note what a great argument of good nature and virtue this fear of disgrace is; for they who had no dread upon them of the most terrible things in the world, death and pain, could not abide the imagination of dishonor and exposure to shame even after death.

EXAMPLE 12.: Of the Women of Cios.

It was a custom among the maids of Cios to assemble together in the public temples, and to pass the day together in good fellowship; and there their sweethearts had the felicity to behold how prettily they sported and danced about. In the evening this company went to the house of every particular maid in her turn, and waited upon each other’s parents and brethren very officiously, even to the washing of their feet. It oftentimes so fell out that many young Edition: current; Page: [355] men fell in love with one maid; but they carried it so decently and civilly that, when the maid was espoused to one, the rest presently gave off courting of her. The effect of this good order among the women was that no mention was made of any adultery or fornication among them for the space of seven hundred years.

EXAMPLE 13.: Of the Phocian Women.

When the tyrants of Phocis had taken Delphi, and the Thebans undertook that war against them which was called the Holy War, certain women devoted to Bacchus (which they call Thyades) fell frantic and went a gadding by night, and mistaking their way they came to Amphissa; and being very much tired and not as yet in their right wits, they flung down themselves in the market-place, and fell asleep as they lay scattered up and down here and there. But the wives of the Amphisseans, fearing, because that city was engaged to aid the Phocians in the war and abundance of the tyrants’ soldiery were present in the city, the Thyades might have some indignity put upon them, ran forth all of them into the market-place and stood silently round about them, neither would offer them any disturbance whilst they slept; but when they were awake, they attended their service particularly and brought them refreshments; and in fine, by persuasions obtained leave of their husbands to accompany them and escort them in safety to their own borders.

EXAMPLE 14.: Valeria and Cloelia.

The injury done to Lucretia and her great virtue were the causes of banishing Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh Roman king from Romulus, she being married to an illustrious man, one of the royal race. She was ravished by one of Tarquin’s sons, who was in a way of hospitality entertained by her; and after she had acquainted her Edition: current; Page: [356] friends and family with the abuse offered her, she immediately slew herself. Tarquinius having fallen from his dominion, after many battles that he fought in attempting to regain his kingly government, at last prevailed with Porsena, prince of the Etrurians, to encamp against Rome with a powerful army. Whereupon the Romans, being pressed with war and famine at the same time, likewise knowing that Porsena was not only a great soldier but a just and civil person, resolved to refer the matters against Tarquinius to him as a judge. This proposal Tarquinius obstinately refused to consent unto, saying that Porsena could not be a just arbitrator if he did not remain constant to his military alliance. Whereupon Porsena left him to himself, and made it his endeavor to depart a friend to the Romans, on condition of having restored to him the tracts of land they had cut off from the Etrurians and the captives they had taken. Upon these accepted conditions hostages being given, — ten male children, and ten females (among whom was Valeria, the daughter of Publicola the consul), — he immediately ceased his warlike preparations before the articles of agreement were quite finished. Now the virgin hostages going down to the river, as if they intended only to wash themselves a little further than ordinary from the camp, there, by the instigation of one of them whose name was Cloelia, wrapping their garments about their heads, they cast themselves into that great river Tiber, and assisting one another, swam through those vast depths with much labor and difficulty. There are some who say that Cloelia compassing a horse got upon him, and passing over gently before, the rest swimming after her, conducted, encouraged, and assisted them; the argument they use for this we shall declare anon.

As soon as the Romans saw the maids had made such a clever escape, they admired indeed their fortitude and resolution, but did not approve of their return, not abiding Edition: current; Page: [357] to be worse in their faith than any one man; therefore they charged the maids to return back, and sent them away with a safe conduct. Tarquinius laid wait for them as they passed the river, and wanted but little of intercepting the virgins. But Valeria with three of her household servants made her flight to the camp of Porsena; and as for the rest, Aruns, Porsena’s son, gave them speedy help and delivered them from the enemies. When they were brought, Porsena looking upon them commanded them to tell him which of them advised and first attempted this enterprise; all of them being surprised with fear, except Cloelia, were silent, but she said, that she was the author of it; at which Porsena, mightily surprised, commanded an horse curiously adorned with trappings should be brought, which he gave to Cloelia, and dismissed them all with much generosity and civility; and this is the ground which many make of saying that Cloelia passed through the river on horseback. Others deny this story, but yet say that Porsena admiring the undauntedness and confidence of the maid, as being beyond what is commonly in a woman, bestowed a present on her becoming a man champion. It is certain that there is the statue of a woman on horseback by the side of the Sacred Way, which some say represents Cloelia, others, Valeria.

EXAMPLE 15.: Of Micca and Megisto.

Aristotimus having usurped tyranny over the people of Elis in Peloponnesus, against whom he prevailed by the aid of King Antigonus, used not his power with any meekness or moderation. For he was naturally a savage man; and being in servile fear of a band of mixed barbarians, who guarded his person and his government, he connived at many injurious and cruel things which his subjects suffered at their hands, among which was the calamity of Philodemus. This man had a beautiful daughter, whose Edition: current; Page: [358] name was Micca. This maid one of the tyrant’s captains of auxiliaries, called Lucius, attempted to lie with, more out of a design to debauch her than for any love he had to her; and for this end he sent to fetch her to him. The parents verily seeing the strait they were in advised her to go; but the maid, being of a generous and courageous spirit, clasped about her father, beseeching him with earnest entreaties that he would rather see her put to death than that her virginity should be filthily and wickedly violated. Some delay being made, Lucius himself starts up in the midst of his cups, enraged with wrath and lust, and drunk with wine; and finding Micca laying her head on her father’s knees, he instantly commanded her to go along with him; but she refusing, he rent off her clothes, and whipped her stark naked, she stoutly enduring the smart in silence. When her father and mother perceived that by their tears they could not avail or bring any succor to her, they turned to imploring the help of both Gods and men, as persons that were oppressed by the most cruel and unrighteous proceedings. But this barbarous fellow, drunk and raging every way with madness, ran the maid through as she lay with her face in her father’s bosom. Neither was the tyrant affected with these cruelties, but slew many and sent more into exile; for they say eight hundred took their flight into Aetolia, petitioning the tyrant that their wives and children might come to them. A little after he made proclamation, permitting the women that would to go to their husbands, carrying with them all their household goods that they pleased; but when he perceived that all the women received the proclamation with pleasure (for the number was above six hundred), he charged them all to go in great companies on the appointed day, as if he intended to consult for their safety. When the day came, they crowded at the gates with their goods packed up, carrying their children, some in their arms and some in carts, and stayed Edition: current; Page: [359] for one another. All on a sudden many of the tyrant’s creatures made towards them in great haste, crying aloud to them to stay, while they were yet at great distance from them; and as they approached, they charged the women to return back. Likewise turning about their chariots and carts, they forced them upon them, drove the horses through the midst of them without fear or wit, suffering the women neither to follow nor to stay, nor to reach forth any help to the perishing infants, some of whom were killed falling out of the carts, others run over by the carts. So they drove them in (as so many sheep which butchers drive along), hauling and whipping them as they thronged upon one another, till they had crowded them all into a prison; but their goods they returned to Aristotimus. The people of Elis taking these things very heinously, the priestesses devoted to Bacchus (which they call the Sixteen), taking with them their suppliant boughs and wreaths belonging to the service of their God, went to meet Aristotimus in the market-place; the guards, out of a reverential awe, stood off and gave way to their approach. These priestesses stood still at first with silence, solemnly reaching forth their supplicatory rods; but as soon as they appeared as petitioners and deprecators of his wrath against the women, he fell into a great rage at the guards, exclaiming against them that they had suffered the priestesses to approach his presence, and he caused some to be thrust away, others to be beaten and dragged through the market-place, and fined them two talents apiece.

These things being transacted in this manner, one Hellanicus moved a conspiracy against this tyrant. He was a man who, by reason of old age and the loss of two sons by death, was unsuspected of the tyrant, as being altogether unlikely for action. In the mean time also the exiles waft themselves over from Aetolia, and take Amymona, a very convenient place on the borders to entrench a camp in, Edition: current; Page: [360] where they received great numbers of the citizens who made their escape by flight from Elis. Aristotimus being startled at these things went in to the imprisoned women, and thinking to work them to his pleasure more by fear than by favor, charged them to send letters to their husbands, enjoining them to depart out of the coasts; if they would not write, he threatened them to slay their children before their eyes, and then put them (the mothers) to death by torments. Whilst he was long provoking and urging them to declare whether they would obey his mandates or not, most of them answered him nothing, but looked with silence one upon another, signifying by nods and gestures that they were not at all affrighted at his threat. But Megisto the wife of Timocleon, who both in respect of her husband and her own excellent accomplishments carried the port of a princess among them, would not vouchsafe to rise off her seat to him nor permit the rest so to do, but as she sat, she gave him this answer: —

“Verily if thou wert a discreet man, thou wouldst not after this manner discourse with women about their husbands, but wouldst send to them as to our lords, finding out better language than that by which thou hast deluded us. But if thou thyself despairest to prevail with them, and therefore undertakest to trepan them by our means, do not hope to put a cheat upon us again. And may they never be guilty of such baseness, that for the saving their wives and little ones they will desert that liberty of their native country; for it is not so great a prejudice to them to lose us, whom even now they are deprived of, as it will be benefit to set the subjects at liberty from thy cruelty and oppression.”

Aristotimus, being not able to refrain himself at this speech of Megisto, required that her son should be brought, as if it were to slay him before her eyes; but whilst the officer was seeking out the child, that was in the Edition: current; Page: [361] company of other children playing and wrestling together, his mother called him by his name, and said: Come hither, my child; before thou hast any sense and understanding, be thou delivered from bitter tyranny; for it would be much more grievous to me to see thee basely enslaved than to see thee die. At which Aristotimus drawing his sword upon the mother herself, and transported with rage, was going to fall upon her, when one of his favorites, Cylon by name (esteemed his trusty confidant, but in reality a hater of him, and a confederate with Hellanicus in the conspiracy), put a stop to him, and averted him in an humble manner, telling him: This is an ignoble and woman-like carriage, not at all becoming a person of a princely mind and a statesman. Hereupon Aristotimus scarcely coming to his senses departed. Now observe what an ominous prodigy happened to him. It was about noon, when he was taking some repose, his wife sitting by; and whilst his servants were providing dinner, an eagle was seen in the air floating over the house, which did, as it were considerately and on purpose, let fall a stone of an handsome bigness upon that part of the roof of the house which was over the apartment where Aristotimus lay. At the same time there was also a great rattling from above, together with an outcry made by the people that were abroad looking upon the bird. Upon which Aristotimus, falling into a great consternation and examining the matter, sent and called his soothsayer which he usually consulted in his public concerns, and being in great perplexity, desired to be satisfied what that prodigy meant. The soothsayer bade him be of good cheer, for it signified that Jupiter now wakened and assisted him. But to the citizens that he could confide in he said, that vengeance would no longer be delayed from falling on the tyrant’s head. Wherefore it was concluded by Hellanicus and his friends not to defer any longer, but to bring matters to an issue the next day. Edition: current; Page: [362] At night Hellanicus imagined in his sleep that he saw one of his dead sons stand by him saying, What is the matter with thee, O father! that thou sleepest? To-morrow thou shalt be governor of this city. Being animated by his vision, he encouraged the rest concerned with him. Now Aristotimus was informed that Craterus, coming to his aid with great forces, was encamped in Olympia; upon which he became so confidently secure, that he ventured to go without his guards into the market-place, Cylon only accompanying him. Wherefore Hellanicus, observing this opportunity, did not think good to give the signal to those that were to undertake the enterprise with him, but with a clear voice and lifting up both his hands, he spake saying: O ye good men! why do ye delay? Here is a fair theatre in the midst of your native country for you to contend in for the prize of valor. Whereupon Cylon in the first place drawing his sword smote one of Aristotimus’s waiting gentlemen; but Thrasybulus and Lampis making a brisk opposition, Aristotimus escaped by flight into the temple of Jupiter. Here slaying him, they dragged forth his corpse into the market-place, and proclaimed liberty to the citizens. Neither were the men there much before the women, who immediately ran forth with joyful acclamations, environing the men and binding triumphant garlands about their heads. The multitude presently rushed on upon the tyrant’s palace, where his wife shutting herself into her bed-chamber hanged herself. He had also two daughters, maidens of most beautiful complexions, ripe for marriage. Those they laid hands on, and haled forth, with a desperate resolution to slay them, but first to torment and abuse them. But Megisto, with the rest of the women, meeting them called out with a loud voice: Will they perpetrate such enormities who reckon themselves a free people, in imitation of the practices of audacious and libidinous tyrants? The multitude reverencing the gravity of this Edition: current; Page: [363] matron, pleading with them so undauntedly as also affectionately with tears, they resolved to lay aside this opprobrious way of proceeding, and to cause them to die by their own hands. As they were therefore returned into the chamber, they required the maids immediately to be their own executioners. Muro, the eldest, untying her girdle and tying it about her neck, saluted her sister, and exhorted her to be careful and do whatever she saw her do; lest (as she said) we come to our death in a base and unworthy manner. But the younger desiring it might be her lot to die first, she delivered her the girdle, saying: I did never deny thee any thing thou didst ever desire, neither will I now; take this favor also. I am resolved to bear and endure that which is more grievous than death to me, to see my most dear sister die before me. Upon this, when she had instructed her sister how to put the girdle so as to strangle her, and perceived her dead, she took her down and covered her. And now the eldest sister, whose turn was next, besought Megisto to take care of her, and not suffer her to lie indecently after she was dead. So that there was not any one present that was so bitter and vehement a tyrant-hater that he did not lament and compassionate these maidens upon their brave and virtuous behavior.

Of the innumerable famous exploits performed by women, these examples may suffice. But as for their particular virtues, we will describe them according as they offer themselves scattered here and there, not supposing that our present history doth necessarily require an exact order of time.

EXAMPLE 16.: Of Pieria.

Some of the Ionians who came to dwell at Miletus, falling into contention with the sons of Neleus, departed to Edition: current; Page: [364] Myus, and there took up their situation, where they suffered many injuries from the Milesians; for they made war upon them by reason of their revolt from them. This war was not indeed without truces or commerce, but upon certain festival days the women of Myus went to Miletus. Now there was at Myus Pythes, a renowned man among them, who had a wife called Iapygia, and a daughter Pieria. Pythes, when there was a time of feasting and sacrificing to Diana among the Milesians, which they called Neleis, sent his wife and daughter, who desired to participate of the said feast; when one of the most potent sons of Neleus, Phrygius by name, fell in love with Pieria. He desired to know what service he could do which might be most acceptable to her. She told him, that he should bring it to pass that she with many others might have their frequent recourse thither. Hence Phrygius understood that she desired friendship and peace with the citizens of Miletus; accordingly he finished the war. Whence arose that great honor and renown of Pieria in both cities; insomuch that the Milesian women do to this day make use of this benediction to new married wives, that their husbands may love them so as Phrygius loved Pieria.

EXAMPLE 17.: Of Polycrita.

A war arose between the Naxians and Milesians upon the account of Neaera, the wife of Hypsicreon, a Milesian. For she fell in love with Promedon a Naxian, who was Hypsicreon’s guest. Promedon lies with his beloved Neaera; and she, fearing her husband’s displeasure, took shipping with her Promedon, who carried her over into Naxos and placed her a supplicant to Vesta. The Naxians not restoring her upon demand, for the sake of Promedon and making her devotion to Vesta their pretence, a war arose. To the assistance of the Milesians came in many others; and of the Ionians the Erythraeans were most ready. So Edition: current; Page: [365] that this war was of long continuance, and had great calamities attending it. But as it was begun by the lewdness of a woman, so it was ended by a woman’s policy. Diognetus, a colonel of the Erythraeans, holding a fortification committed to his keeping, which was cast up against the Naxians, lying naturally to great advantage and well furnished with ammunition, took great spoils from the Naxians; yea, he captivated both free married women and virgins; with one of which, called Polycrita, he fell in love, and treated her not as a captive but after the manner of a married wife. Now a festival coming in turn to be celebrated among the Milesians in the camp, and all of them given to their cups and luxury, Polycrita petitioned Diognetus that he would be pleased to permit her to send some part of the cakes to her brethren. He permitting and bidding her do it, she thrust into a cake a piece of lead engraven with writing, and commanded the bearer to say to her brethren that they alone by themselves should eat up what she had sent. Accordingly they met with the plate of lead, and read Polycrita’s hand-writing, advising them that night to fall upon their enemies, who, by reason of excess caused by their feastings, were overcome with wine and therefore in a careless secure condition. They acquainted the officers with it, and urged them to accompany them forth against the enemies. Upon engagement the stronghold being gotten and many slain, Polycrita by entreaty of her countrymen obtained the life of Diognetus and preserved him. But she being met by her countrymen at the gate, who received her with acclamations of joy and garlands, and greatly applauded her deed, could not bear the greatness of the joy, but died, falling down at the gate of the citadel, where she was buried; and it is called the Sepulchre of Envy, as though some envious fortune had grudged Polycrita the fruition of so great honor. And thus do the Naxian writers declare the history. But Aristotle saith, that Polycrita was not Edition: current; Page: [366] taken captive, but that by some other way or means Diognetus seeing her fell in love with her, and was ready to give and do all that he could for the enjoying her. Polycrita promised to consent to him, provided she might obtain one only thing of him; concerning which, as the philosopher saith, she required an oath of Diognetus. When he had sworn, she required Delium to be delivered up to her (for the stronghold was called Delium), otherwise she would not yield to go with him. He, being besotted with lust and for his oath’s sake, delivered up the place into the hands of Polycrita, and she to her countrymen. From henceforward they adjusted matters so equally, that the Naxians had free converse, as they pleased, with the Milesians.

EXAMPLE 18.: Of Lampsace.

There were two brethren, Phobus and Blepsus, twins of the stock of Codrus, natives of Phocaea; of which two Phobus, the elder, threw himself from the Leucadian rocks into the sea, as Charon of Lampsacus hath told us in history. This Phobus, having potency and royal dignity, took a voyage into Parium upon the account of his own private concerns; and becoming a friend and guest to Mandron king of the Bebrycians, the same that were called Pituoëssans, he aided and assisted him in the war against those of the bordering inhabitants that molested him. So that when Phobus was returning back by sea, Mandron showed great civility to him, promising to give him a part of his country and city, if he would bring over the Phocaeans and plant them as inhabitants in Pituoëssa. Phobus therefore persuading his countrymen sent his brother to conduct them over as planters, and likewise the obligation was performed on Mandron’s part according to expectation. But the Phocaeans taking great booty, prey, and spoils from the neighboring barbarians, were first envied, and afterwards became a terror to the Bebrycians; and therefore they desired Edition: current; Page: [367] to be rid of them. As for Mandron, being an honest and righteous person, they could not possess him against the Grecians; but he taking a long journey, they provided to destroy the Phocaeans by treachery. Mandron had a daughter called Lampsace, a virgin, who was acquainted with the plot; and first she endeavored to take off her friends and familiars from it, admonishing them what a dreadful and ungodly enterprise they were going upon, — to murder men that were benefactors, military auxiliaries, and now citizens. But when she could not prevail with them, she declared to the Grecians secretly what was plotting, and wished them to stand upon their guard. Upon this, the Phocaeans provided a sacrifice and feast, and invited the Pituoëssans into the suburbs; on which, dividing themselves into two parts, with one they surprised the walls of the city, with the other they slew the men. Thus taking the city, they sent to Mandron, desiring him to join with their own rulers in the government. As for Lampsace, she died of a sickness, and they buried her sumptuously, and called the city Lampsace after her name. But when Mandron, avoiding all suspicion of betraying his people, refused to come to dwell among them, and desired this favor at their hands, that they would send him the wives and children of the deceased, the Phocaeans most readily sent them, offering them no injury at all. And ascribing in the first place heroic renown to Lampsace, in the last place they decreed a sacrifice to her as a Goddess, which they continue yearly to offer.

EXAMPLE 19.: Aretaphila.

Aretaphila, a Cyrenaean, was not of ancient time, but lived in the time of the Mithridatic war. She arrived at such a degree of fortitude and experience in counsel as might be compared with the conduct of any heroic ladies. She was the daughter of Aeglator and the wife of Phaedimus, Edition: current; Page: [368] both renowned men. She was a great beauty, excelling in discretion, and was not unacquainted with the most knotty pieces of policy; but the common disasters of her native country rendered her famous. Nicocrates, having then usurped the tyranny over the Cyrenaeans, not only murdered many other citizens, but also assassinated Melanippus, a priest of Apollo, with his own hand, and held the priesthood himself. He slew also Phaedimus, the husband of Aretaphila, and married Aretaphila against her will. Unto a thousand other villanies he added this, that he set guards at the gates, who mangled the dead corpses as they were carrying forth, pricking them with their daggers and clapping hot irons to them, lest any citizen should be carried out privily under pretence of being a dead corpse. Aretaphila’s own proper calamities were very grievous to her, although the tyrant, for the love that he bare to her, suffered her to enjoy a great part of his regal power; for his love had subdued him unto her, and to her alone was he gentle and manageable, being very rude and savage in his behavior to others. But that which troubled her more than other things was to see her miserable country suffering such horrid things in so base a manner; one citizen being slaughtered after another, without any hopes of a vindictive justice from any. The exiles also were altogether enfeebled, affrighted, and scattered here and there. Aretaphila therefore supposed herself to be the only hope remaining for the state; and emulating the famous and brave enterprises of Thebe of Pherae, although she was destitute of the faithful friends and helpers which circumstances afforded to Thebe, she laid a plan to despatch her husband by poison. But in setting herself about it, providing the materials, and trying many experiments with poisons, the matter could not be hid, but was discovered; and there being proof made of the attempt, Calbia, Nicocrates’s mother, being naturally of a murdering implacable Edition: current; Page: [369] spirit, presently adjudged Aretaphila to torments and then to death. But love abated the rage of Nicocrates, and put him upon delay; and the vigorous manner in which Aretaphila met the accusation and defended herself gave some plausible ground for his hesitation. But when she was convicted by the clearest proofs, and the preparation she had made for the poison was even in sight, admitting no denial, she confessed that she provided poison, but not deadly poison. But truly, O sir, she said, I am contending for matters of great concern, no less indeed than the honor and power which by thy gracious favor I reap the fruit of. I am maligned by many ill women, whose poisons and treacheries I stand in fear of, and therefore have been persuaded to contrive something on the other side in my own defence. These are haply foolish and woman-like plots, but not such as deserve death, unless it seem good to thee as judge to take away thy wife’s life on account of love-potions and charms, which she has used because she wishes to be loved by thee more than thou wouldst have her. Notwithstanding this defence which Aretaphila had made for herself, Nicocrates thought good to commit her to torments; and Calbia presided in the judicature, rigid and inexorable. But Aretaphila bore up invincibly under her tortures, till Calbia herself was tired, sore against her will. But Nicocrates being pacified discharged her, and was sorry he had tortured her. And it was not very long ere he went in again unto her, being highly transported with affection, renewing his favor towards her with honors and courteous behavior. But she would not be brought under by flattery, who had held out so stoutly under tortures and pains; and an emulation of victory, conjoined with the love of honesty, made her betake herself to other measures.

She had a daughter marriageable, an excellent beauty. Her she presented for a bait to the tyrant’s brother, a young stripling and lasciviously addicted. There was a report, Edition: current; Page: [370] that Aretaphila used such enchantments and witchcrafts towards the maid, that she plainly charmed and destroyed the young man’s reason. He was called Leander. After he was entangled, he petitioned his brother and accomplished the marriage. Now the maid, being instructed by her mother, instigated and persuaded him to set the city at liberty, insinuating that he himself could not live long free under an arbitrary government, nor could he marry a wife or reserve her to himself. Also some friends, Aretaphila’s favorites, suggested to him continually some accusations or surmises concerning his brother. But as soon as he perceived that Aretaphila was counselling and aiding in these matters, he undertook the business, and excited Daphnis a household servant, who slew Nicocrates by his command. In what followed, he attended not so much to Aretaphila, but presently manifested by his actions that he was rather a fratricide than a tyrannicide; for he managed his affairs perversely and foolishly. But yet he had some honor for Aretaphila, and she had some influence with him; neither did she manage any enmity or open opposition against him, but ordered her affairs privily. First of all, she stirred up an African war against him, and incited Anabus, a certain duke, to invade his borders and approach the city; and then she buzzed into Leander’s head suspicions against the favorites and officers, saying that they were not forward to fight but rather ambitious of peace and tranquillity, which indeed (she said) the state of affairs and the security of his dominion required of him if he would hold his subjects in firm subjection; and she would effect a cessation of arms and bring Anabus to a parley with him, if he would permit it, before an incurable war should break forth. Leander gave her commission. First she treated with the African, and with the promise of great presents and treasures begged that he would seize Leander when he came to treat with him. The African was persuaded, Edition: current; Page: [371] but Leander was backward to it; only for the respect that he bore to Aretaphila, who said that she would be present, he went unarmed and unguarded. But as he came nigh and saw Anabus, he made a halt, and would have waited the coming of his guards; only Aretaphila being present sometimes encouraged him, sometimes reviled him. But at last, when he still hesitates, she undauntedly lays hold on him, and dragging him resolutely along, delivers him to the barbarian. He was immediately seized, confined, and bound, and kept prisoner by the African, until Aretaphila’s friends, with other citizens, procured the treasures promised. Many people acquainted with this ran forth to the parley; and as soon as they saw Aretaphila, they were so transported that they had like to have forgot their indignation against the tyrant, and reckoned the punishing him of no great concern. But the first work after the enjoyment of their liberty was the saluting Aretaphila, between acclamations of joy and weeping, and falling down before her, as before the statue of one of the Gods. And the people flocked in one after another, so that they scarcely had time that evening to receive Leander again and return into the city. When they had satisfied themselves in honoring and applauding Aretaphila, they turned themselves to the tyrants; and Calbia they burnt alive, Leander they sewed up in a sack and threw him into the sea, but they voted that Aretaphila should bear her share in the government together with the statesmen, and be taken into counsel. But she, by great sufferings having acted a tragi-comedy consisting of various parts, and at last obtained the reward of the garland, as soon as she saw the city set at liberty, betook herself to her private apartment; and casting off all multiplicity of business, she led the rest of her time in spinning, and finished her days in tranquillity among her friends and acquaintance.

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EXAMPLE 20.: Camma.

There were two most potent persons among the tetrarchs of Galatia, allied by kin to each other, Sinatus and Synorix; one of which, Sinatus, took a maid to wife, Camma by name, very comely to behold for person and favor, but principally to be admired for virtue. For she was not only modest and loving to her husband, but discreet and of a generous mind. And by reason of her gentle and courteous behavior she was extremely acceptable to her inferiors; yea, that which rendered her more eminently renowned was, that being a priest of Diana (for the Galatians worship that goddess most) she did always appear magnificently adorned in all sacred processions and at the sacrifices. Wherefore Synorix, falling in love with her, could not prevail either by persuasions or violence, whilst her husband lived. He commits a horrid crime, — he slays Sinatus treacherously, — and not long after accosts Camma, whilst she abode within the temple, and bore Synorix’s crime not in an abject and despondent manner, but with a mind intent upon revenge on Synorix, and only waiting an opportunity. He was importunate in his humble addresses, neither did he seem to use arguments that were without all show of honesty. For as in other things he pretended that he far excelled Sinatus, so he slew him for the love he bare to Camma and for no other wicked design. The woman’s denials were at first not very peremptory, and then by little and little she seemed to be softened towards him. Her familiars and friends also lay at her in the service and favor of Synorix, who was a man of great power, persuading and even forcing her. In fine therefore she consented, and accordingly sent for him to come to her, that the mutual contract and covenant might be solemnized in the presence of the Goddess. When he came, she received him with much courtesy, and bringing him before the altar and pouring out Edition: current; Page: [373] some of the drink-offering upon the altar out of the bowls, part of the remainder she drank herself and part she gave him to drink. The cup was poisoned mead. As she saw him drink it all up, she lifted up a shrill loud voice, and fell down and worshipped her Goddess, saying: I call thee to witness, O most reverend Divinity! that for this very day’s work’s sake I have over-lived the murder of Sinatus, no otherwise taking any comfort in this part of my life but in the hope of revenge that I have had. And now I go down to my husband. And for thee, the lewdest person among men, let thy relations prepare a sepulchre, instead of a bride-chamber and nuptials. When the Galatian heard these things, and perceived the poison to wamble up and down and indispose his body, he ascended his chariot, hoping to be relieved by the jogging and shaking. But he presently alighted, and put himself into a litter, and died that evening. Camma continued all that night, and being told that he had ended his life, she comfortably and cheerfully expired.

EXAMPLE 21.: Stratonica.

Galatia also produced Stratonica the wife of Deiotarus, and Chiomara the wife of Ortiagon, both of them women worth remembrance. Stratonica knowing that her husband wanted children of his own body to succeed in his kingdom, she being barren persuaded him to beget a child on another woman, and subject it to her tutelage. Deiotarus admiring her proposal, committed all to her care upon that account. She provided a comely virgin for him from among the captives, Electra by name, and brought her to lie with Deiotarus. The children begotten of her she educated very tenderly and magnificently, as if they had been her own.

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EXAMPLE 22.: Chiomara.

It fell out that Chiomara, the wife of Ortiagon, was taken captive with other women, in the time when the Romans under Cneus Manlius overcame the Galatians of Asia in battle. The centurion that took her made use of his fortune soldier-like and defiled her; for he was, as to voluptuousness and covetousness, an ill-bred and insatiable man, over whom avarice had gotten an absolute conquest. A great quantity of gold being promised by the woman for her ransom, in order to her redemption he brought her to a certain bank of a river. As the Galatians passed over and paid him the money in gold, and received Chiomara into their possession, she gave an intimation of her pleasure to one of them by nod, — to smite the Roman while he was kissing and taking his leave of her. He obeyed her commands and cut off his head. She takes it, wraps it up in her apron, and carries it with her; and as she comes to her husband, she casts down the head before him, at which being startled he said, O wife! thy fidelity is noble. Yea, verily, replied she, it is a nobler thing that there is now but one man alive that hath ever lain with me. Polybius saith that he discoursed with this woman at Sardis, and admired her prudence and discretion.

EXAMPLE 23.: Of the Woman of Pergamus.

When Mithridates sent for sixty noblemen of Galatia as friends, he seemed to carry himself abusively and imperiously towards them, which they were all mightily provoked at. Poredorix, a man of a robust body and lofty mind, who was no less than tetrarch of the Tosiopae, designed to lay hold on Mithridates, seizing him when he should be determining causes on the bench of judicature in the gymnasium, and to force him bench and all into the ditch; Edition: current; Page: [375] but by a certain chance he went not up to the place of judicature that day, but sent for the Galatians to come home to him to his house. Poredorix encouraged them all to be of good courage, and when they should be all come together there, to fall upon him on every side, slay him, and cut his body in pieces. This conspiracy was not unknown to Mithridates, an intimation of it being given him; accordingly he delivers up the Galatians one by one to be slain. But calling to mind a young man among them, who excelled in comeliness and beauty all whom he knew, he commiserated him and repented himself and was apparently grieved, supposing him slain among the first, and also sent his command, that if he were alive he should remain so. The young man’s name was Bepolitanus. There was a strange accident befell this man. When he was apprehended, he had on very gay and rich apparel, which the executioner desired to preserve clean from being stained with blood; and undressing the young man leisurely, he saw the king’s messengers running to him and calling out the name of the youth. So that covetousness, which is the ruin of many, unexpectedly saved the life of Bepolitanus. But Poredorix being slain was cast forth unburied, and none of his friends did dare to come near him; only a certain woman of Pergamus, that was conversant with him while he lived at Galatia, attempted to cover his corpse and bury it. But when the guards perceived her, they laid hold on her and brought her before the king. And it is reported that Mithridates was much affected at the sight of her, the young maid seeming altogether harmless, and the more so, as it seemed, because he knew that love was the reason of her attempt. He gave her leave therefore to take away the corpse and bury it, and to take grave-clothes and ornaments at his cost.

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EXAMPLE 24.: Timoclea.

Theagenes the Theban, who held the same sentiments with regard to his country’s welfare with Epaminondas, Pelopidas, and the other most worthy Thebans, was slain in Chaeronea, in the common disaster of Greece, even then when he had conquered his enemies and was in pursuit of them. For it was he that answered one who cried out aloud to him, How far wilt thou pursue? Even (saith he) to Macedonia. When he was dead, his sister survived him, who gave testimony that he was nobly descended, and that he was naturally a great man and excellently accomplished. Moreover, this woman was so fortunate as to reap a great benefit by her prowess, so that the more public calamities fell upon her, so much the easier she bore them. For when Alexander took Thebes and the soldiers fell a plundering, some in one part and some in another, it happened that a man, neither civil nor sober but mischievous and mad, took up his quarters in Timoclea’s house. He was a captain to a Thracian company, and the king’s namesake, but nothing like him; for he having no regard either to the family or estate of this woman, when he had swilled himself in wine after supper, commanded her to come and lie with him. Neither ended he here, but enquired for gold and silver, whether she had not some hid by her; sometimes threatening as if he would kill her, sometimes flattering as if he would always repute her in the place of a wife. She, taking the occasion offered by him, said: “Would God I had died before this night came, rather than lived to it; that though all other things had been lost, I might have preserved my body free from abuse. But now seeing it is thus come to pass, and Divine Providence hath thus disposed of it that I must repute thee my guardian, lord, and husband, I will not hold any thing from thee that is thine own. And as for Edition: current; Page: [377] myself, I see I am at thy disposition. As for corporeal enjoyments, the world was mine, I had silver bowls, I had gold, and some money; but when this city was taken, I commanded my maids to pack it up altogether, and threw it, or rather put it for security, into a well that had no water in it. Neither do many know of it, for it hath a covering, and nature hath provided a shady wood round about it. Take then these things, and much good may they do thee; and they shall lie by thee, as certain tokens and marks of the late flourishing fortune and splendor of our family.”

When the Macedonian heard these things, he stayed not for day, but presently went to the place by Timoclea’s conduct, commanding the garden-door to be shut, that none might perceive what they were about. He descended in his morning vestment. But the revengeful Clotho brought dreadful things upon him by the hand of Timoclea, who stood on the top of the well; for as soon as she perceived by his voice that he reached the bottom, she threw down abundance of stones upon him, and her maids rolled in many and great ones, till they had dashed him to pieces and buried him under them. As soon as the Macedonians came to understand this and had taken up the corpse, there having been late proclamation that none of the Thebans should be slain, they seized her and carried her before the king and declared her audacious exploit; but the king, who by the gravity of her countenance and stateliness of her behavior did perceive in her something that savored of the greatest worth and nobility, asked her first, What woman art thou? She courageously and undauntedly answered: Theagenes was my brother, who was a commander at Chaeronea, and lost his life fighting against you in defence of the Grecian liberty, that we might not suffer any such thing; and seeing I have suffered things unworthy of my rank, I refuse not to die; for it is better Edition: current; Page: [378] so to do than to experience another such a night as the last, which awaits me unless thou forbid it. All the most tender-spirited persons that were present broke out into tears; but Alexander was not for pitying her, as being a woman above pity. But he admired her fortitude and eloquence, which had taken strong hold on him, and charged his officers to have a special care and look to the guards, lest any such abuse be offered again to any renowned family; and dismissed Timoclea, charging them to have a special regard to her and all that should be found to be of her family.

EXAMPLE 25.: Eryxo.

Arcesilaus was the son of Battus who was surnamed Felix, not at all like to his father in his conversation. His father, when he lived, laid a fine of a talent upon him for making fortifications about his house. After his father’s death he being of a rugged disposition (therefore surnamed the Severe), and following the counsels of Laarchus, an ill friend, became a tyrant instead of a king. For Laarchus affecting the government for himself, either banished or slew the noblemen of Cyrene, and charged the fault upon Arcesilaus; and at last casting him into a wasting and grievous disease, by giving him the sea-hare in his drink, he deprived him of his life. So that Laarchus assumed the government, under pretence of being protector to Arcesilaus’s young son Battus; but the youth, by reason either of his lameness or youthful age, was contemned. As for his mother, many made addresses to her, being a modest and courteous woman, and she had many of the commons and nobility at her devotion. Therefore Laarchus, pretending to be her humble servant, would needs marry her, and thereby take Battus to the dignity of being son and then allow him a share in the government. But Eryxo (for that was the woman’s name), taking counsel of her brethren, bade Laarchus Edition: current; Page: [379] treat with them as if she had designed marriage; Laarchus accordingly treating with Eryxo’s brethren, they on purpose delay and prolong the business. Eryxo sends one of her maid-servants acquainting him, that for the present her brethren did oppose the match, but if they could but accomplish it so as to lie together once, her brethren would cease arguing the matter any farther, and would give their consent. He should therefore come to her by night, if he pleased; an entrance being once made in a business, the rest will succeed well enough. These things were mighty pleasing to Laarchus, and he was much inflamed by the woman’s obliging carriage towards him, and declared that he would come to whatever place she should command him. These things Eryxo transacted with the privity of Polyarchus, her eldest brother. A time being now appointed for the congress, Polyarchus placed himself in his sister’s bed-chamber, together with two young men that were sword-men, all out of sight, to revenge the death of his father, whom Laarchus had lately murdered. Eryxo sending at the time to acquaint him, he entered without his guard, and the young men falling upon him, he was wounded with the sword and died; the corpse immediately they threw over the wall. Battus they brought forth and proclaimed king over his father’s dominions, and Polyarchus restored to the Cyrenaeans their ancient constitution of government. There were present at that time many soldiers of Amasis, the Egyptian king; whom Laar chus had employed and found faithful, and by whose means he had been not a little formidable to the citizens. These sent messengers to accuse Polyarchus and Eryxo to Amasis. At this the king was greatly incensed, and determined to make war upon the Cyrenaeans. But it happened that his mother died, and while he was solemnizing her funeral, ambassadors came and brought the news of his intentions to Cyrene. Wherefore it was thought best by Polyarchus to Edition: current; Page: [380] go and apologize for himself. Eryxo would not desert him, but was resolved to accompany him and run the same hazard with him. Nor would his mother Critola leave him, though she was an old woman; for great was her dignity, she being the sister of old Battus, surnamed Felix. As soon as they came into Egypt, as others with admiration approved of the exploit, so even Amasis himself did not a little applaud the chastity and fortitude of Eryxo, honoring her with presents and royal attendance, with which he sent back Polyarchus and the ladies into Cyrene.

EXAMPLE 26.: Xenocrita.

Xenocrita of Cumae deserves no less to be admired for her exploits against Aristodemus the tyrant, whom some have supposed to be surnamed the Effeminate, being ignorant of the true story. He was called by the barbarians Malakos (that is soft and effeminate) with regard merely to his youth; because, when he was a mere stripling, with other companions of the same age who wore long hair (whence they were called Coronistae, as it seems from their long hair), he became famous in the war against the barbarians. He was also not only renowned for resolution and activity, but very exceedingly remarkable for his discretion and providence; insomuch that being admired by the citizens he proceeded to the highest dominion among them. He was to bring aid to the Romans when they were in war with the Etrurians, who engaged to restore Tarquinius Superbus to his kingdom; in all which expedition, that was very long, he managed all affairs so as to ingratiate himself with the military part of the citizens, aiming more at the making himself head of a popular faction than general of the army. He accordingly prevails with them to join with him in attacking the senate, and in casting out the citizens of highest rank and most potent into exile. Afterwards becoming tyrant, he was flagitious in his carriage Edition: current; Page: [381] towards women and free-born youth, and exceeded even himself in vileness. For history reports of him how that he accustomed the boys to wear their hair long and set with golden ornaments, and the girls he compelled to be polled round, and to wear youths’ jerkins and short-tailed petticoats. Notwithstanding, he had a peculiar affection for Xenocrita, a girl of Cumae, left behind by her exiled father. Her he kept, but could not bring over to his humor by any insinuations or persuasions, neither had he gained her father’s consent; however, he reckoned the maid would be brought to love him by constant conversation with him, since she would be envied and reputed very happy by the citizens. But these things did not at all besot the maid; but she took it heinously that she must be constrained to dwell with him, not espoused or married. Neither did she less long for the liberty of her native country than did those who were hated by the tyrant.

It happened about that time that Aristodemus was casting up an entrenchment about the borders of Cumae, a work neither necessary nor profitable, only because he was resolved to tire out the citizens with hard toil and labor; for every one was required to carry out a stinted number of baskets of earth daily, in order to the delving this ditch. A certain maid, as she saw Aristodemus approaching, ran aside and covered her face with her apron; but when Aristodemus was withdrawn, the young men would sport and jest with her, asking her whether out of modesty she avoided only the sight of Aristodemus and was not so affected towards other men. She made answer designedly, rather than otherwise, that of the Cumaeans Aristodemus was the only man. This sentence thus spoken verily touched them all very near, for it provoked the generousminded men among them for very shame to the recovering of their liberties. And it is said that Xenocrita was heard to say, that she had rather carry earth for her father, if he Edition: current; Page: [382] were at home, than participate in the great luxury and pomp of Aristodemus. These things added courage to them that were about to make an insurrection against Aristodemus, which Thymoteles had the chief management of; for Xenocrita providing them safe admittance, they easily rushed in upon Aristodemus, unarmed and unguarded, and slew him. In this manner the city of Cumae gained its liberty, by the virtue of two women; one by suggesting and invigorating the enterprise, the other by bringing it to an issue. When honors and great presents were tendered to Xenocrita, she refused all; but requested one thing, that she might bury the corpse of Aristodemus. This they delivered her, and made her a priestess of Ceres; reckoning that, as it was a deserved honor bestowed on her, so she would be no less acceptable to the Goddess.

EXAMPLE 27.: The Wife of Pythes.

It is reported that the wife of Pythes, who lived at the time of Xerxes, was a wise and courteous woman. Pythes, as it seems, finding by chance some gold mines, and falling vastly in love with the riches got out of them, was insatiably and beyond measure exercised about them; and he brought down likewise the citizens, all of whom alike he compelled to dig or carry or refine the gold, doing nothing else; many of them dying in the work, and all being quite worn out. Their wives laid down their petition at his gate, addressing themselves to the wife of Pythes. She bade them all depart and be of good cheer; but those goldsmiths which she confided most in she required to wait upon her, and confining them commanded them to make up golden loaves, all sorts of junkets and summer-fruits, all sorts of fish and flesh meats, in which she knew Pythes was most delighted. All things being provided, Pythes coming home then (for he happened to go a long journey) and asking for his supper, his wife set a golden table before him, having Edition: current; Page: [383] no edible food upon it, but all golden. Pythes admired the workmanship for its imitation of nature. When, however, he had sufficiently fed his eyes, he called in earnest for something to eat; but his wife, when he asked for any sort, brought it of gold. Whereupon being provoked, he cried out, I am an hungered. She replied: Thou hast made none other provisions for us; every skilful science and art being laid aside, no man works in husbandry; but neglecting sowing, planting, and tilling the ground, we delve and search for useless things, killing ourselves and our subjects. These things moved Pythes, but not so as to give over all his works about the mine; for he now commanded a fifth part of the citizens to that work, the rest he converted to husbandry and manufactures. But when Xerxes made an expedition into Greece, Pythes, being most splendid in his entertainments and presents, requested a gracious favor of the king, that since he had many sons, one might be spared from the camp to remain with him, to cherish his old age. At which Xerxes in a rage slew this son only which he desired, and cut him in two pieces, and commanded the army to march between the two parts of the corpse. The rest he took along with him, and all of them were slain in the wars. At which Pythes fell into a despairing condition, so that he fell under the like suffering with many wicked men and fools. He dreaded death, but was weary of his life; yea, he was willing not to live, but could not cast away his life. He had this project. There was a great mound of earth in the city, and a river running by it, which they called Pythopolites. In that mound he prepared him a sepulchre, and diverted the stream so as to run just by the side of the mound, the river lightly washing the sepulchre. These things being finished, he enters into the sepulchre, committing the city and all the government thereof to his wife; commanding her not to come to him, but to send his supper daily laid on a sloop, till the sloop Edition: current; Page: [384] should pass by the sepulchre with the supper untouched; and then she should cease to send, as supposing him dead. He verily passed in this manner the rest of his life; but his wife took admirable care of the government, and brought in a reformation of all things amiss among the people.

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Of Agasicles.

Agasicles the Spartan king, when one wondered why, since he was a great lover of instruction, he would not admit Philophanes the Sophist, freely said, I ought to be their scholar whose son I am. And to one enquiring how a governor should be secure without guards, he replied, If he rules his subjects as fathers do their sons.

Of Agesilaus the Great.

Agesilaus the Great, being once chosen steward of a feast, and asked by the butler how much wine he allowed every guest, returned: If you have a great deal provided, as much as every one calls for; if but a little, give them all an equal share. When he saw a malefactor resolutely endure his torments, How great a rascal is this fellow, he cried out, that uses patience, bravery, and courage, in such an impious and dishonest case! To one commending an orator for his skill in amplifying petty matters he said, I don’t think that shoemaker a good workman that makes a great shoe for a little foot. When one in discourse said to him, Sir, you have assented to such a thing already, and repeated it very often, he replied, Yes, if it is right; but if not, I said so indeed but never assented. And the other rejoining, But, sir, a king is obliged to perform whatever he hath granted by his nod;* No more, he returned, than Edition: current; Page: [386] those that petition him are bound to make none but good and just requests, and to consider all circumstances of time and what befits a king. When he heard any praise or censure, he thought it as necessary to enquire into the character of those that spake as of those of whom they spake. While he was a boy, at a certain solemnity of naked dancing, the person that ordered that affair put him in a dishonorable place; and he, though already declared king, endured it, saying, I’ll show that it is not the places that grace men, but men the places. To a physician prescribing him a nice and tedious course of physic, he said, By Castor and Pollux, unless I am destined to live at any rate, I surely shall not if I take all this. Whilst he stood by the altar of Minerva Chalcioecus sacrificing an ox, a louse bit him. At this he never blushed, but cracked him before the whole company, adding these words, By all the Gods, it is pleasant to kill a plotter at the very altar. Another time seeing a boy pull a mouse by the tail out of his hole, and the mouse turn and bite the boy’s fingers and so escape; he bade his companions take notice of it, saying, If so little a creature will oppose injurious violence, what think ye that men ought to do?

Being eager for war against the Persians to free the Asiatic Greeks, he consulted the oracle of Jupiter at Dodona; and that telling him to go on as he designed, he brought the answer to the Ephors, upon which they ordered him to go to Delphi and put the same question. He went, and put it in this form: Apollo, are you of the same mind with your father? And the oracle agreeing, he was chosen general and the war began. Now Tissaphernes, at first being afraid of Agesilaus, came to articles, and agreed that the Greek cities should be free and left to their own laws; but afterward procuring a great army from the king, he declared war against him unless he should presently leave Asia. Glad of this treachery of Tissaphernes, he marched Edition: current; Page: [387] as if his design was to make an inroad upon Caria; but when Tissaphernes had brought his troops thither, he turned upon Phrygia, and took a great many cities and abundance of rich spoil, saying to his friend: To break one’s promise is indeed impious; but to outwit an enemy is not only just and glorious, but profitable and sweet. Being inferior to the enemy in horse, he retreated to Ephesus, and ordered all the wealthy to provide each a man and horse, which should excuse them from personal service in his wars. By which means, in the room of rich cowards, he was soon furnished with stout men and able horses; and this he said he did in imitation of Agamemnon, who agreed for a serviceable mare to discharge a wealthy coward. When he ordered the captives to be sold naked and the chapmen came, a thousand bid money for the clothes, but all derided the bodies of the men, which were tender and white by reason of their delicate breeding, as useless and worth nothing. He said to his soldiers, Look, those are the things for which ye fight, and these are the things with whom ye fight. Having beaten Tissaphernes in Lydia and killed many of his men, he wasted the territories of the king; and the king sending money and desiring a peace, Agesilaus replied: To grant peace is in the power only of the commonwealth. I delight to enrich my soldiers rather than myself, and think it agreeable to the honor of the Greeks not to receive gifts from their enemies but to take spoils.

Megabates the son of Spithridates, a very pretty boy, who thought himself very well beloved, coming to him to offer a kiss and an embrace, he turned away his head. But when the boy had not appeared a long time, Agesilaus enquired after him; and his friends replied, that it was his own fault, since he derided the kiss of the pretty boy, and the youth was afraid to come again. Agesilaus, standing silent and musing a pretty while, said: Well, I will use no Edition: current; Page: [388] persuasions, for methinks I had rather conquer such desires than take the most popular city of my enemies; for it is better to preserve our own than rob others of their liberty. In all things else he was very exact, and a strict observer of the law; but in his friends’ concerns he thought that to be too scrupulous was a bare pretence to cloak unwillingness to use his interest. And agreeable to this, there is extant a small note of his, interceding for a friend to one Idrieus a Carian: If Nicias is not guilty, discharge him; if he is, discharge him for my sake; but by all means pray let him be discharged. This was his usual humor in his friends’ concerns, yet sometimes profit and convenience was preferred; for once breaking up his camp in disorder, and leaving one that he loved behind him sick, when he begged and beseeched him with tears to have compassion, he turned and said, How hard it is to be pitiful and wise at once! His diet was the same with that of his attendants; he never fed to satisfy, nor drank himself drunk; he used sleep not as a master, but as a servant to his affairs; and was so fitted to endure heat or cold, that he alone was undisturbed at the change of seasons. He lodged amongst his soldiers, and his bed was as mean as any; and this he had always in his mouth: It befits a governor to excel private men not in delicacy and softness, but in bravery and courage. And therefore when one asked him what good Lycurgus’s laws had brought to Sparta, he replied, Contempt of pleasure. And to one that wondered at his and the other Lacedaemonians’ mean fare and poor attire, he said, From this course of life, sir, we reap liberty. And to one advising him to indulge more, saying, Chance is uncertain, and you may never have the opportunity again, he replied, I accustom myself so that, let whatever change happen, I shall need no change. When he was grown old, he continued the same course; and to one asking him why at his age in very cold weather he would not wear a coat, he replied, that Edition: current; Page: [389] the youth may imitate, having the old men and governors for example.

The Thasians, when he marched through their country, presented him with corn, geese, sweetmeats, honey-cakes, and all sorts of delicacies, both of meat and drink; he accepted the corn, but commanded them to carry back the rest, as useless and unprofitable to him. But they importunately pressing him to take all, he ordered them to be given to the Helots; and when some asked the reason, he replied, They that profess bravery ought not to meddle with such delicacies; and whatever takes with slaves cannot be agreeable to the free. Another time the Thasians, after considerable benefits received, made him a God and dedicated temples to his honor, and sent an embassy to compliment him on that occasion. When he had read over the honors the ambassadors had brought him, Well, said he, and can your country make men Gods? And they affirming, Go to, he rejoined, make yourselves all Gods first; and when that is done, I’ll believe you can make me one. The Greeks in Asia decreeing him statues, he wrote thus to them: Let there be no representation of me, either painted, founded, or engraved. In Asia, seeing a house roofed with square beams, he asked the master whether trees in their country were grown square. And he replying, No, but round; What then, said he, if they grew square, would you make them round? Being asked how far Sparta’s bounds extended, shaking a spear he replied, As far as this will reach. And to another enquiring why Sparta was without walls, he showed the citizens in arms, saying, Look, these are the walls of Sparta. And to another that put the same question he replied, Cities should be walled not with stones and timber, but with the courage of the inhabitants; and his friends he advised to strive to be rich not in money, but in bravery and virtue. When he would have his soldiers do any thing quickly, he before them all put the Edition: current; Page: [390] first hand to it; he was proud that he wrought as much as any, and valued himself more upon ruling his own desires than upon being king. When one saw a lame Spartan marching to the war, and endeavored to procure a horse for him, How, said he, don’t you know that war needs those that will stay, not those that will fly? Being asked how he got this great reputation, he replied, By contemning death. And another time, one enquiring why the Spartans used pipes and music when they fought, he said, When all move in measure, it may be known who is brave and who a coward. When he heard one magnifying the king of Persia’s happiness, who was but young, Yes, said he, Priam himself was not unhappy at that age.

When he had conquered a great part of Asia, he designed to march against the King himself, to break his quiet and hinder him from corrupting the popular men amongst the Greeks, but being recalled by the Ephors to oppose the designs which the other Greek states, bought with the King’s gold, were forming against Sparta, he said, A good ruler should be governed by the laws, — and sailed away from Asia, leaving the Greeks there extremely sorry at his departure. And because the stamp of the Persian money was an archer, he said, when he broke up his camp, that he was driven out of Asia by thirty thousand of the King’s archers. For so many pieces of gold being carried to Thebes and Athens by Timocrates, and distributed amongst the popular men, the people were excited to war upon the Spartans. And this epistle he sent to the Ephors: —

AGESILAUS to the EPHORS, Greeting.

We have subdued a great part of Asia, driven out the barbarians, and furnished Ionia with arms. But since you command me back, I follow, nay almost come before this epistle; for I am not governor for myself, but for the Edition: current; Page: [391] commonwealth. And then a king truly rules according to justice, when he is governed by the laws, the Ephors, or others that are in authority in the commonwealth.

Passing the Hellespont, he marched through Thrace, but made no applications to any of the barbarians, only sending to know whether he marched through the country of an enemy or a friend. All the others received him as friends and guided him in his march; only the Troadians (of whom, as story says, even Xerxes bought his passage) demanded of Agesilaus a hundred talents of silver and as many women. But he scoffingly replied, Why then do not you come presently to receive what you demand? And leading on his army, he fought them; and having destroyed a considerable number, he marched through. To the king of Macedon he sent the same question; and he replying that he would consider of it, Let him consider, saith he, and we will be marching on. Upon which the king, surprised at his daring temper and afraid of his force, admitted him as a friend. The Thessalians having assisted his enemies, he wasted their country, and sent Xenocles and Scythes to Larissa in order to make a treaty. These being seized and detained, all others stomached it extremely, and were of opinion that Agesilaus should besiege and storm Larissa. But he replying that he would not give either of their lives for all Thessaly, he had them delivered upon articles. Hearing of a battle fought near Corinth, in which very few of the Spartans, but many of the Corinthians, Athenians, and their allies were slain, he did not appear joyful, or puffed up with his victory, but fetching a deep sigh cried out, Unhappy Greece, that hath destroyed herself men enough to have conquered all the barbarians! The Pharsalians pressing upon him and distressing his forces with five hundred horse, he charged them, and after the rout raised a trophy at the foot of Edition: current; Page: [392] Narthacium. And this victory pleased him more than all the others he had won, because with his single cavalry he had beaten those that vaunted themselves as the best horsemen in the world. Diphridas bringing him commands immediately upon his march to make an inroad into Boeotia, — though he designed the same thing in a short time, when he should be better prepared, — he obeyed, and sending for twenty thousand men from the camp at Corinth, marched into Boeotia; and at Coronea joining battle with the Thebans, Athenians, Argives, Corinthians, and Locrians altogether, he won, though desperately wounded himself, the greatest battle (as Xenophon affirms) that was fought in his age. And yet when he returned, after so much glory and so many victories, he made no alteration in his course of life.

When he saw some of the citizens think themselves brave fellows for breeding horses for the race, he persuaded his sister Cunisca to get into a chariot and put in for the prize at the Olympian games, intending by that way to convince the Greeks that it was no argument of bravery, but of wealth and profuse expense. Having Xenophon the philosopher at his house, and treating him with great consideration, he urged him to send for his children and have them brought up in Sparta, where they might learn the most excellent of arts, how to govern and how to be governed. And at another time being asked by what means the Lacedaemonians flourished above others, Because, says he, they are more studious than others how to rule and how to obey. When Lysander was dead, he found a strong faction, which Lysander upon his return from Asia had associated against him, and was very eager to show the people what manner of citizen Lysander was whilst he lived. And finding among Lysander’s papers an oration composed by Cleon of Halicarnassus, about new designs and changing the government, which Edition: current; Page: [393] Lysander was to speak to the people, he resolved to publish it. But when an old politician, perusing the discourse and fearing its effect upon the people, advised him not to dig up Lysander but rather bury the speech with him, he followed the advice, and made no more of it. Those of the contrary faction he did not openly molest, but by cunning contrivance he got some of them into office, and then showed them to be rascals when in power. And then defending them or getting their pardon when accused, he brought them over to his own side, so that he had no enemy at last. To one desiring him to write to his acquaintance in Asia, that he might have justice done him, he replied, My acquaintance will do thee justice, though I do not write. One showed him the wall of a city strongly built and well fortified, and asked him whether he did not think it a fine thing. Yes, by heaven, he replied, for women, but not for men to live in. To a Megarian talking great things of his city he said, Youth, thy words want an army.

What he saw others admire he seemed not so much as to know; and when Callipides, a man famous among the Greeks for acting tragedies and caressed by all, met him and saluted him, and then impudently intruding amongst his companions showed himself, supposing that Agesilaus would take notice of him and begin some familiar discourse, and at last asked, Doth not your majesty know me? Have not you heard who I am? — he looked upon him and said, Art not thou Callipides, the Merry Andrew?* (For that is the name the Lacedaemonians give an actor.) Being once desired to hear a man imitate a nightingale, he refused, saying, I have often heard the bird itself. Menecrates the physician, for his good success in some desperate diseases, was called Jupiter; and priding himself in the name, he presumed to write to Agesilaus thus: Menecrates Jupiter to King Agesilaus wisheth good health. Reading Edition: current; Page: [394] no more, he presently wrote back: King Agesilaus to Menecrates wisheth a sound mind.

When Conon and Pharnabazus with the king’s navy were masters of the sea and wasted the coasts of Laconia, and Athens — Pharnabazus defraying the charges — was surrounded with a wall, the Lacedaemonians made a peace with the Persian; and sending Antalcidas, one of their citizens, to Tiribazus, they agreed to deliver into the King’s hands all the Asiatic Greeks, for whose freedom Agesilaus fought. Upon which account Agesilaus was not at all blemished by this dishonorable treaty; for Antalcidas was his enemy, and clapped up a peace on purpose because the war raised Agesilaus and got him glory. When one said, The Lacedaemonians are becoming medized, he replied, Rather the Medes are becoming laconized. And being asked which was the better virtue, courage or justice, he said: Courage would be good for nothing, if there were no justice; and if all men were just, there would be no need of courage. The Asians being wont to style the king of Persia The Great; How, said he, is he greater than I am, if he is not more just or temperate? And he used to say, The Greeks in Asia are mean-spirited freemen, but stout slaves. And being asked how one might get the greatest reputation amongst men, he replied, By speaking the best and doing the bravest things. And he had this saying commonly in his mouth, A commander should be daring against his enemy, and kind and good-natured to his own soldiers. When one asked him what boys should learn; That, said he, which they shall use when men. When he sat judge upon a cause, the accuser spake floridly and well; but the defendant meanly and ever now and then repeated these words, Agesilaus, a king should assist the laws. What, said he, dost thou think, if any one dug down thy house or took away thy coat, a mason or a weaver would assist thee?

A letter being brought him from the king of Persia by Edition: current; Page: [395] a Persian that came with Callias the Spartan, after the peace was concluded, offering him friendship and kind entertainment, he would not receive it, bidding the messenger tell the king that there was no need to send private letters to him; for if he was a friend to Sparta and meant well to Greece, he would do his best to be his friend; but if he designed upon their liberty, he might know that, though he received a thousand letters from him, he would be his enemy. He was very fond of his children; and it is reported that once toying with them he got astride upon a reed as upon a horse, and rode about the room; and being seen by one of his friends, he desired him not to speak of it till he had children of his own. When he had fought often with the Thebans and was wounded in the battle, Antalcidas, as it is reported, said to him: Indeed, sir, you have received a very fair reward for instructing the Thebans, whom, when ignorant and unwilling, you have forced to learn the art of war. For story tells us, the Lacedaemonians at that time by frequent skirmishes had made the Thebans better soldiers than themselves. And therefore Lycurgus, the old lawgiver, forbade them to fight often with the same nation, lest the enemy should learn their discipline. When he understood that the allies took it very ill, that in their frequent expeditions they, being great in number, followed the Spartans that were but few; designing to show their mistake about the number, he ordered all the allies to sit down in one body and the Lacedaemonians in another by themselves. Then he made proclamation that all the potters should rise first; and when they stood up, the braziers next; then the carpenters, next the masons, and so all other traders in order. Now almost all the allies stood up and not one of the Spartans, for their law forbids them all mechanical employments. Then said Agesilaus, with a smile, See now how many soldiers we provide more than you. When at the battle of Leuctra many Edition: current; Page: [396] of the Spartans fled and upon that account were obnoxious to the laws, the Ephors, seeing the city had but few men and stood in great need of soldiers at that time, would free them from the infamy and yet still keep the laws in force. Upon that account they put the power of making laws into the hands of Agesilaus; and he coming into the assembly said, I will make no new laws, nor will I add any thing to those you already have, nor take therefrom, nor change them in any wise; but I will order that the laws you already have be in force from to-morrow.

Epaminondas rushing on with a torrent and tide of force, and the Thebans and their allies being puffed up with this victory, though he had but an inconsiderable number, Agesilaus repulsed them from the city and forced them to retreat. In the battle at Mantinea, he advised the Spartans to neglect the others and fight Epaminondas only, saying: The wise alone is the stout man, and the cause of victory; and therefore if we take him off, we shall quickly have the rest; for they are fools and worth nothing. And it happened accordingly; for Epaminondas having the better of the day and the Spartans being routed, as he turned about and encouraged his soldiers to pursue, a Lacedaemonian gave him his death-wound. He falling, the Spartans that fled with Agesilaus rallied and turned the victory; the Thebans appearing to have much the worse, and the Spartans the better of the day. When Sparta had a great many hired soldiers in pay, and wanted money to carry on the war, Agesilaus, upon the king of Egypt’s desire, went to serve him for money. But the meanness of his habit brought him into contempt with the people of that country; for they, according to their bad notions of princes, expected that the king of Sparta should appear like the Persian, gaudily attired. But in a little time he sufficiently convinced them that majesty and glory were to be gotten by prudence and courage. When he found his men discouraged Edition: current; Page: [397] at the number of the enemy (for they were 200,000) and their own fewness, just before the engagement, without any man’s privity, he contrived how to encourage them: in the hollow of his left hand he wrote victory, and taking the liver from the priest, he put it into that hand, and held it a pretty while, pretending he was in doubt and perplexity at some appearance, till the characters were imprinted on the flesh; and then he showed it to the soldiers, telling them the Gods gave certain signs of victory by these characters. Upon which, thinking they had sure evidence of good success, they marched resolutely to the battle. When the enemy much exceeded them in number and were making an entrenchment round his camp, and Nectabius, whom then he assisted, urged him to fight; I would not, said he, hinder our enemies from making their number as small as ours. And when the trench was almost drawn round, ordering his army to the space between, and so fighting upon equal terms, with those few soldiers he had he routed and killed abundance of the enemy, and sent home a great treasure. Dying on his voyage from Egypt, he commanded his attendants not to make any figure or representation of his body; For, said he, if I have done any brave action, that will preserve my memory; if not, neither will a thousand statues, the works of base mechanics.

Of Agesipolis the Son of Cleombrotus.

Agesipolis the son of Cleombrotus, when one told him that Philip had razed Olynthus in a few days, said, Well, but he is not able to build such another in twice that time. To one saying that whilst he was king he himself was an hostage with some other youths, and not their wives or children, he replied, Very good, for it is fit we ourselves should suffer for our own faults. When he designed to send for some whelps from home, and one said, Sir, none Edition: current; Page: [398] must be carried out of the country, he replied, Nor men heretofore, but now they may.

Of Agesipolis the Son of Pausanias.

Agesipolis the son of Pausanias, when the Athenians appealed to the Megarians as arbitrators of the differences between them, said, It is a shame, Athenians, that those who were once the lords of all Greece should understand what is right and just less than the people of Megara.

Of Agis the Son of Archidamus.

Agis the son of Archidamus, when the Ephors gave orders, Go take the youth, and follow this man into his own country, and he shall guide thee to the very citadel, said: How can it be prudent to trust so many youths to the fidelity of him who betrays his own country? Being asked what art was chiefly learned in Sparta, To know, he replied, how to govern and to be governed. He used to say, The Spartans do not enquire how many the enemy are, but where they are. At Mantinea, being advised not to fight the enemy, who exceeded him in number, he said, It is necessary for him to fight a great many that would rule a great many. To one enquiring how many the Spartans were, Enough, he replied, to keep rascals at a distance. Marching by the walls of Corinth, and perceiving them to be high and strong and stretching out to a great length, he said, What women live there? To an orator that said speech was the best thing, he rejoined, You then, when you are silent, are worth nothing. When the Argives, after they had been once beaten, faced him more boldly than before; on seeing many of the allies disheartened, he said, Courage, sirs! for when we conquerors shake, what do you think is the condition of the conquered? To an ambassador from the Abderites, after he had ended his long speech, enquiring what answer he should carry to his Edition: current; Page: [399] city, he replied, This: As long as you talked, so long I quietly heard. Some commending the Eleans for exact justice in determining the prizes at the Olympian games, he said, What great wonder is it, that in four years they can be just one day? To some that told him he was envied by the heirs of the other royal family, Well, said he, their own misfortunes will torment them, and my own and my friends’ success besides. When one advised him to give the flying enemy room to run, he said, How shall we fight those that stand to it and resist, if we dare not engage those whom their cowardice makes fly? When one proposed a way to free Greece, well contrived indeed but hard to be brought about, he said, Friend, thy words want an army and a treasure. To one saying, Philip won’t let you set foot upon any other part of Greece, he returned, Sir, we have room enough in our own country. An ambassador from Perinthus to Lacedaemon, after a long tedious speech, asking what answer he should carry back to the Perinthians, he said, What but this? — that thou couldst hardly find an end to thy talk, and I kept silent. He went by himself ambassador to Philip; and Philip saying, What! but one? he replied, I am an ambassador but to one. An old man, observing that the ancient laws were neglected and that new evil customs crept in, said to him, when he was now grown old himself, All things here at Sparta are turned topsy-turvy. He replied with a joke: If it is so, it is agreeable to reason; for when I was a boy, I heard my father say that all things were then topsy-turvy; and he heard his father say the same; and it is no wonder if succeeding times are worse than the preceding; but it is a wonder if they happen to be better, or but just as good. Being asked how a man could be always free, he replied, If he contemns death.

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Of Agis the Younger.

Agis the Younger, when Demades said, The Spartans’ swords are so short that our jugglers can easily swallow them, replied, Yet the Spartans can reach their enemies with these swords. A base fellow often asking who was the bravest of the Spartans, he said, He that is most unlike thee.

Of Agis the Last.

Agis, the last king of Lacedaemon, being taken and condemned by the Ephors without hearing, as he was led to the gallows, saw one of the officers weeping. Do not weep for me, he said, who, being so unjustly, so barbarously condemned, am in a better condition than my murderers. And having spoken thus, he quietly submitted himself to the halter.

Of Acrotatus.

Acrotatus, when his parents commanded him to join in some unjust action, refused for some time; but when they grew importunate, he said: When I was under your power I had no notion of justice, but now you have delivered me to my country and her laws, and to the best of your power have taught me loyalty and justice, I shall endeavor to follow these rather than you. And since you would have me to do that which is best, and since just actions are best for a private man and much more for a governor, I shall do what you would have me, and refuse what you command.

Of Alcamenes the Son of Teleclus.

Alcamenes the son of Teleclus, being asked how a ruler might best secure his government, replied, By slighting gain. And to another enquiring why he refused the presents the Messenians made him he said, Because, if I had taken them, I and the laws could never have agreed. Edition: current; Page: [401] When one said that though he had wealth enough he lived but meanly, he replied, Well, it is a glory for one that hath abundance to live as reason not as appetite directs.

Of Alexandridas.

Alexandridas, the son of Leo, said to one that was much concerned at his banishment from the city, Good sir, be not concerned that you must leave the city, but that you have left justice. To one that talked to the Ephors very pertinently but a great deal too much he said, Sir, your discourse is very good, but ill-timed. And when one asked him why they let their Helot slaves cultivate the fields, and did not take care of them themselves, he replied, Because we acquired our land not caring for it but for ourselves. Another saying, Desire of reputation causes abundance of mischief, and those are happy that are free from it; Then, he subjoined, it follows that villains are happy; for do you think that he that commits sacrilege or doth an injury takes any care for credit and reputation? Another asking why in a battle the Spartans venture so boldly into danger, Because, said he, we train ourselves to have a reverential regard for our lives, not, as others do, to tremble for them. Another demanding why the judges took so many days to pass sentence in a capital cause, and why he that was acquitted still remained liable to be brought to trial, he replied: They consult so long, because if they make a mistake in judgment and condemn a man to death, they cannot correct their judgment; and the accused still remains liable, because this provision might enable them to give even a better judgment than before.

Of Anaxander the Son of Eurycrates.

Anaxander, the son of Eurycrates, to one asking him why the Spartans laid up no money in the exchequer, replied, that the keepers of it might not be tempted to be knaves.

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Of Anaxilas.

Anaxilas, when one wondered for what reason the Ephors did not rise up to the king, since the kings made them, said, It is for the same reason for which they are appointed Ephors (or overseers).

Of Androclidas.

Androclidas a Spartan, being maimed in his leg, enlisted in the army; and when some refused him because he was maimed, he said, It must not be those that can run away, but those that can stand to it, that must fight the enemy.

Of Antalcidas.

Antalcidas, when he was to be initiated in the Samothracian mysteries, and was asked by the priest what great sin he had committed in all his life, replied, If I have committed any, the Gods know it already. To an Athenian that called the Lacedaemonians illiterate he said, True; for we alone have learned no ill from you. Another Athenian saying, We have often beat you back from the Cephissus, he subjoined, But we never repulsed you from the Eurotas. To another demanding how one might please most men, he replied, By speaking what delights, and doing what profits them. A Sophist being about to read him an encomium of Hercules, he said, Why, who has blamed him? To Agesilaus, when he was wounded in a battle by the Thebans, he said, Sir, you have a fine reward for forcing them to learn the art of war; for, by the many skirmishes Agesilaus had with them, they learned discipline and became good soldiers. He said, The youth are the walls of Sparta, and the points of their spears its bounds. To one enquiring why the Lacedaemonians fought with such short swords he replied, We come up close to our enemies.

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Of Antiochus.

Antiochus, one of the Ephors, when he heard Philip had bestowed some lands on the Messenians, said, Well, but hath Philip also given them forces, that they may be able to defend his gift?

Of Aregeus.

Aregeus, when some praised not their own but other men’s wives, said: Faith, about virtuous women there should be no common talk; and what beauty they have none but their own husbands should understand. As he was walking through Selinus, a city of Sicily, he saw this epitaph upon a tomb, —

  • Those that extinguished the tyrannic flame,
  • Surprised by war and hasty fate,
  • Though they are still alive in lasting fame,
  • Lie buried near Selinus’ gate; —

and said: You died deservedly for quenching it when already in a flame; for you should have hindered it from coming to a blaze.

Of Ariston.

Ariston, when one commended the saying of Cleomenes, — who, being asked what a good king should do, replied, Good turns to his friends, and evil to his enemies, — said: How much better is it, sir, to do good to our friends, and make our enemies our friends! Though upon all hands it is agreed Socrates spoke this first, yet he hath the credit of it too. To one asking how many the Spartans were in number he replied, Enough to chase our enemies. An Athenian making a funeral oration in praise of those that fell by the hand of the Lacedaemonians, he said, What brave fellows then were ours, that conquered these!

Of Archidamidas.

Archidamidas said to one commending Charilas for being kind to all alike, How can he deserve commendation, Edition: current; Page: [404] that is gentle to the wicked and unjust? When one was angry with Hecataeus the Sophist because when admitted to the public entertainment he said nothing, he said, Sir, you seem not to understand that he that knows how to speak knows also when to speak.

Of Archidamus the Son of Zeuxidamus.

Archidamus the son of Zeuxidamus, when one asked him who were governors at Sparta, replied, The laws, and the magistrates according to those laws. To one that praised a fiddler and admired his skill he said, How must you prize brave men, when you can give a fiddler such a commendation! When one recommending a musician to him said, This man plays well upon the harp, he returned, And we have this man who makes broth well; — as if it were no more to raise pleasure and tickle with a sound than with meats and broths. To one that promised to make his wine sweet he said, To what purpose? for we shall spend the more, and ruin our public mess. When he besieged Corinth, seeing some hares started under the very walls, he said to his soldiers, Our enemies may be easily surprised. Two choosing him arbitrator, he brought them both into the temple of Minerva of the Brazen House, and made them swear to stand to his determination; and when they had both sworn, he said, I determine that you shall not go out of this temple, till you have ended all the differences between you. Dionysius the Sicilian tyrant sending his daughters some very rich apparel, he refused it, saying, When this is on, I am afraid they will look ugly and deformed. When he saw his son rashly engaging the Athenians, he said, Pray get more strength or less spirit.

Of Archidamus the Son of Agesilaus.

Archidamus the son of Agesilaus, when Philip after the battle at Chaeronea sent him a haughty letter, returned Edition: current; Page: [405] this answer, If you measure your shadow, you will find it no greater than before the victory. And being asked how much land the Spartans possessed, he said, As much as their spears reach. Periander, a physician, being well skilled in his profession and of good credit, but writing very bad poems, he said to him, Why, Periander, instead of a good physician are you eager to be called a bad poet? In the war with Philip, when some advised him to fight at some distance from his own country, he replied, Let us not mind that, but whether we shall fight bravely and beat our enemies. To some who commended him for routing the Arcadians he said, It had been better if we had been too hard for them in policy rather than in strength. When he invaded Arcadia, understanding that the Eleans were ready to oppose him, he wrote thus: Archidamus to the Eleans; It is good to be quiet. The allies in the Peloponnesian war consulting what treasure would be sufficient to carry on the war, and desiring to set the tax, he said, War cannot be put on a certain allowance. As soon as ever he saw a dart shot out of an engine brought from Sicily, he cried out, Good God! true valor is gone for ever. When the Greeks refused to obey him or to stand to those conditions which he had made with Antigonus and Craterus the Macedonians, but would be free, alleging that the Spartans would prove more rigorous lords than the Macedonians, he said: A sheep always uses the same voice, but a man various and many, till he hath perfected his designs.

Of Astycratidas.

Astycratidas, after Agis the king was beaten by Antigonus at Megalopolis, was asked, What will you Spartans do? will you serve the Macedonians? He replied, Why so, can Antipater hinder us from dying in the defence of Sparta?

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Of Bias.

Bias being surprised by an ambush that Iphicrates the Athenian general had laid, and his soldiers demanding what must be done, he replied, You must provide for your own safety, and I must fight manfully and die.

Of Brasidas.

Brasidas catching a mouse amongst some dry figs, the mouse bit him; upon which he let her go, and said to his companions, There is nothing so little but it may preserve itself, if it dares resist the invaders. In a battle, being shot through the shield into the body, he drew the dart out and with it killed the enemy. And one asking how his wound came, he replied, By the treachery of my shield. As he was leading forth his army, he wrote to the Ephors, I will accomplish what I wish in this war, or I will die for it. Being killed as he fought to free the Greeks in Thrace, the ambassadors that were sent to Sparta to condole his loss made a visit to his mother Argileonis. And the first question she asked was, whether Brasidas died bravely. And the Thracians extolling him and saying there was no such man in the world; You mistake, sir, said she, it is true, Brasidas was a good man, but Sparta can show many who are better.

Of Damonidas.

Damonidas, when the master of the festival set him in the lowest place in the choral dance, said, Well, sir, you have found a way to make this place, which was infamous before, noble and honorable.

Of Damis.

Damis to some letters that were sent to him by Alexander, intimating that he should vote Alexander a God, Edition: current; Page: [407] returned this answer: We are content that Alexander (if he will) be called a God.

Of Damindas.

Damindas, when Philip invaded Peloponnesus, and one said that the Spartans would suffer great mischiefs unless they accepted his proposals, said, Thou woman-man, what misery can we suffer that despise death?

Of Dercyllidas.

Dercyllidas, being sent ambassador to Pyrrhus, — who was then with his army on the borders of Sparta, and required them either to receive their king Cleonymus, or he would make them know they were no better than other men, — replied, If he is a God, we do not fear him, for we have committed no fault; if a man, we are as good as he.

Of Demaratus.

Demaratus, — when Orontes talked very roughly to him, and one said, Demaratus, Orontes uses you very roughly, — replied, I have no reason to be angry, for those that speak to please do the mischief, not those that talk out of malice. To one enquiring why they disgrace those that lose their shields in a battle and not those that lose their head-pieces or breastplates, he answered, Because these serve for their private safety only, but their shield for the common defence and strength of the whole army. Hearing one play upon the harp, he said, The man seems to play the fool well. In a certain assembly, when he was asked whether he held his tongue because he was a fool or for want of words, he replied, A fool cannot hold his tongue. When one asked him why being king he fled Sparta, he answered, Because the laws rule there. A Persian having by many presents enticed the boy that he loved from him, and saying, Edition: current; Page: [408] Spartan, I have caught your love; No, faith, he answered, but you have bought him. One having revolted from the king of Persia, and by Demaratus’s persuasion returning again to his obedience, and the king designing his death, Demaratus said: It is dishonorable, O king, whilst he was an enemy not to be able to punish him for his revolt, and to kill him now he is a friend. To a parasite of the king that often jeered him about his exile he said: Sir, I will not fight you, for you have lost your post in life.*

Of Emprepes.

Emprepes, one of the Ephors, cut out two of the nine strings of Phrynis the musician’s harp with a hatchet, saying, Do not abuse music.

Of Epaenetus.

Epaenetus said that liars were the cause of all villanies and injustice in the world.

Of Euboidas.

Euboidas, hearing some commend another man’s wife, disliked it and said, Strangers who are not of the house should never speak of the manner of any woman.

Of Eudamidas the Son of Archidamus.

Eudamidas, the son of Archidamus and brother of Agis, seeing Xenocrates, now grown old, philosophizing in the Academy with some of his acquaintance, asked what old man that was. And it being answered, He is a wise man, and one of those that seek after virtue; he replied, When will he use it, if he is seeking of it now? Another time, when he heard a philosopher discoursing that none but a Edition: current; Page: [409] learned man could be a good general, he said, Indeed the discourse is admirable, but he that makes it is of no credit in this matter, for he hath never heard a trumpet sound. Just as Xenocrates had finished his discourse, Eudamidas came into his school, and when one of his companions said, As soon as we came he ended; So he ought, he replied, if he had spoken all that was needful on the subject. And the other saying, Yet it were a pleasant thing to hear him, he replied, If we visited one that had supped already, should we desire him to sit down again? When one asked him why, when all the citizens voted a war with the Macedonians, he appeared for peace, he answered, Because I have no mind to convince them of their mistake. And when another encouraged them to this war, mentioning their various victories over the Persians, he said, Sir, you appear not to see that this would be as absurd as to set upon fifty wolves because you have beaten a thousand sheep. A musician playing very well, some asked him what manner of man he was in his opinion, and he answered, A great seducer in a small matter. Hearing one commending Athens, he said, Who could have reason to praise that city which no man ever loved because he had been made better in it? An Argive saying that the Spartans being taken from their own customs grew worse by travel, he replied, But you, when you come into Sparta, do not return worse, but much better. When Alexander ordered by public proclamation in the Olympic games, that all exiles whatever, except the Thebans, had free liberty to return to their own country, Eudamidas said: This is a woful proclamation to you Thebans, but yet honorable; for of all the Grecians Alexander fears only you. Being asked why before a battle they sacrificed to the Muses, he replied, That our brave actions may be worthily recorded.

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Of Eurycratidas the Son of Anaxandridas.

Eurycratidas the son of Anaxandridas, when one asked him why the Ephor sat every day to determine causes about contracts, replied, That we may learn to keep our word even with our enemies.

Of Zeuxidamus.

Zeuxidamus, when one asked him why they did not set down all their laws concerning bravery and courage in writing and let the young men read them, answered, Because they should be accustomed to mind valiant actions, rather than books and writings. An Aetolian saying that war was better than peace for those that would be brave men, No, faith, said he, but death is better than life.

Of Herondas.

Herondas, when one at Athens was condemned for idleness, being informed of it desired one to show him the man that had been convicted of so gentlemanly an offence.

Of Thearidas.

Thearidas whetting his sword, being asked, Is it sharp, Thearidas? replied, Yes, sharper than a slander.

Of Themisteas.

Themisteas the prophet foretold to King Leonidas his own and his soldiers’ destruction at Thermopylae, and being commanded by Leonidas to return to Sparta, under pretence of informing the state how affairs stood, but really that he might not perish with the rest, he refused, saying, I was sent as a soldier, not as a courier to carry news.

Of Theopompus.

Theopompus, when one asked him how a monarch may be safe, replied, If he will give his friends just freedom to speak Edition: current; Page: [411] the truth, and to the best of his power not allow his subjects to be oppressed. To a guest of his that said, In my own country I am called a lover of the Spartans, he replied, It would be more honorable for you to be called a lover of your citizens than a lover of the Spartans. An ambassador from Elis saying that his city sent him because he was the only man amongst them that admired and followed the Spartan way of living, Theopompus asked, And pray, sir, which way is best, yours or the other citizens? And the ambassador replying, Mine; he subjoined, How then can that city stand, in which amongst so many inhabitants there is but one good man? When one said that Sparta was preserved because the kings knew how to govern; No, he replied, but because the citizens know how to be governed. The Pylians voting him greater honors, he wrote to them thus, Moderate honors time augments, but it defaces the immoderate.

Of Thorycion.

Thorycion on his return from Delphi, seeing Philip’s army possessed of the narrow passage at the Isthmus, said, Peloponnesus hath very bad porters in you Corinthians.

Of Thectamenes.

Thectamenes, when the Ephors condemned him to die, went away smiling; and one of the company asked him whether he despised the judicial proceedings of Sparta. No, said he, but I am glad that I am ordered to pay a fine which I can pay out of my own stock, without being beholden to any man or taking up money upon interest.

Of Hippodamus.

Hippodamus, when Agis was joined in command with Archidamus, being sent with Agis to Sparta to look after affairs there, said, But shall I not die a more glorious death Edition: current; Page: [412] fighting valiantly in defence of Sparta? He was above fourscore years of age, yet he put on his armor, fought on the right hand of the king, and died bravely.

Of Hippocratidas.

Hippocratidas, when the governor of Caria sent him word that he had a Spartan in his hands who concealed a conspiracy that he was privy to, and asked how he should deal with him, returned this answer: If you have done him any great kindness, kill him; if not, banish him as a base fellow, too mean-spirited to be good. A youth whom his lover followed meeting him and blushing at the encounter, he said: You should keep such company that, whoever sees you, you will have no reason to change color.

Of Calliccratidas.

Callicratidas the admiral, when some of Lysander’s friends desired him to permit them to kill one of the enemy, and offered fifty talents for the favor, though he wanted money extremely to buy provision for his soldiers, refused; and when Cleander urged him, and said, Sir, I would have taken the money if I were you, he replied, So would I, were I Cleander. When he came to Sardis to Cyrus the Younger, who was then an ally of the Lacedaemonians, about a sum of money to equip his navy, on the first day he ordered his officers to tell Cyrus that he desired audience; but being told that he was drinking, Well, said he, I shall stay till he hath done. But understanding that he could not be admitted that day, he presently left the court, and thereupon was thought a rude and uncivil fellow. On the next day, when he received the same answer and could not be admitted, he said, I must not be so eager for money as to do any thing unbecoming Sparta. And presently he returned to Ephesus, cursing those who had first endured the insolence of the barbarians, and had taught them to Edition: current; Page: [413] rely upon their wealth and abuse others; and he swore to his companions that as soon as ever he came to Sparta, he would do all that lay in his power to reconcile the Greek states, that they might be more dreadful to the barbarians, and not forced to seek assistance from them to ruin one another. Being asked what manner of men the Ionians were, he replied, Bad freemen, but good slaves. When Cyrus sent his soldiers their pay, and some particular presents to himself, he received the pay, but sent back the presents, saying that there was no need of any private friendship between them, for the common league with the Lacedaemonians included him. Designing to engage near Arginusae, when Hermon the pilot said, It is advisable to tack about, for the Athenians exceed us in number; he exclaimed: What then! it is base and dishonorable to Sparta to fly, but to stand to it and die or conquer is brave and noble. As he was sacrificing before the battle, when he heard the priest presaging that the army would conquer but the captain fall, undauntedly he said: Sparta doth not depend on one man; my country will receive no great loss by my death, but a considerable one by my yielding to the enemy. And ordering Cleander to succeed as admiral, he readily engaged, and died in the battle.

Of Cleombrotus the Son of Pausanias.

Cleombrotus, the son of Pausanias, when a friend of his contended with his father which was the best man, said, Sir, my father must be better than you, till you get a son as well as he.

Of Cleomenes the Son of Anaxandridas.