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Plutarch, Plutarch’s Morals, vol. 2 [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. 2.

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About this Title:

Vol. 2 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.

Table of Contents:

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

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: [iii]



    • Periander prepares the banquet, 4.
    • A question proposed to Bias of Priene, 4.
    • Thales ascertained the height of one of the pyramids, and how, 5.
    • Need of preparation for an entertainment, 6.
    • Conversation by the way, 6, 7.
    • Arrival of the company, 7.
    • Anacharsis the Scythian; Eumetis, 8.
    • The seat assigned to a person a frivolous consideration, 9.
    • A prodigy: a child born of a mare, 10.
    • The explanation, 11.
    • Esop relates the fable of the Lydian mule, 11.
    • The frugality of Periander, 12.
    • Anacharsis is questioned respecting the Scythians, 12.
    • A letter is read from Amasis, king of Egypt, proposing a question, 13.
    • Bias suggests an answer to the question, 14.
    • The seven wise men, in turn, reply to the question how a people should be governed, 15.
    • The discussion continued, 16, 17.
    • Answers to other questions, 17, 18.
    • Riddles and their solutions, 19, 20.
    • How should a state be governed? 20.
    • How to govern a house, 21, 22.
    • Talk about drinking wine, 23.
    • The end is worth more than the means, 24.
    • The end of drinking is to nourish and increase friendship, 24.
    • What measure of outward good should be regarded as sufficient, 26.
    • A spare diet, as recommended by Hesiod, 27.
    • Extremes to be avoided, 28.
    • Enjoy freely what we have, but with moderation, 29.
    • A necessity for eating and drinking, 31.
    • But fatal distempers often ensue, 32.
    • The story of Arion and the dolphins, 33–36.
    • The story of Hesiod and the dolphins, 36, 37.
    • Another story about dolphins, 38.
    • The creatures obey the impulse of God, 39.
    • Μηδὲν ἄγαν, “Do not overdo,” 40, 41

    • Young people are fond of fiction, 42.
    • The danger hence arising, 42, 43.
    • We would not interdict to them the reading of poetry, 44.
    • But give them wholesome advice touching the matter, 45.
    • Poets deal much in fiction: it belongs to the very essence of poetry, 46.
    • This contributes greatly to the entertainment of the reader, 46.
    • Evident absurdities must be rejected, 47.
    • Do not receive as literal truth what the poets say of the gods or of the departed, 48.
    • Poetry is an imitative art: the exactness of the imitation, even of a foul action, gives pleasure, 50.
    • If odious and abominable conduct is to be represented in poetry, the expression must correspond, 51.
    • But the poets especially Homer signify their disapproval of such conduct, 52, 53.
    • They often introduce evil examples to Edition: current; Page: [iv] promote moral improvement, 55.
    • The contradictions among poets lessen the credit of what they say, and thus diminish the possible danger, 55.
    • The poets often furnish antidotes to the poison they deal out, 57, 58.
    • We may also quote the philosophers against the poets, 59.
    • In using the names of the gods, the poets often mean only the powers of nature, or fortune, or some second cause, 61, 62.
    • They often use words tropically, and then are not to be taken in the literal sense, 64, 65.
    • Poetry requires variety, hence it never represents the same persons, not even the gods, as uniformly virtuous or prosperous, 66, 67.
    • Therefore the young man must not approve or admire every thing which is said of the heroes of poetry, 68.
    • Instance, Achilles and Agamemnon, 69.
    • Several passages in Homer criticised, 69–72.
    • Criticism on Sophocles, 72.
    • More criticisms and explanations of the Iliad, 74–84, 89, 90.
    • Young men may be taught good morals, and how they differ from bad, by the poets, ib.
    • Boys may learn something useful even from passages wicked and absurd, 83.
    • We may show young persons how passages in the poets, of good tendency, are confirmed by the language of philosophers, 91.
    • Plato and the poets sometimes speak alike, 92.
    • Thus may poetry and philosophy be reconciled, 93, 94.

    • Envy and Hatred are alike opposed to Benevolence, 95.
    • Yet they are distinct passions, 95.
    • Their points of difference, 95, et seq.
    • Hatred regards the hated person as evil; envy regards only the felicity of others, 95.
    • Hatred may be directed against brutes; envy is directed only against man, 96.
    • Brutes may hate but never envy brutes, 96.
    • Envy is always unjust; hatred is often just, 96.
    • Hatred increases as the object grows worse; envy rises higher as the object increases in virtue, 97.
    • Envy often ceases when the object has risen to supreme power; hatred never ceases, 98.

    • Self-love and self-admiration expose a man to the attempts of flatterers, 100.
    • Mean, poor, and worthless people are not flattered, but those of a generous and noble nature, 101.
    • In the choice of friends, let us be wary, yet not over scrupulous, 102.
    • A parasite who is cringing and obsequious is not difficult of detection, 103.
    • The great danger is from those who personate the true friend, yet are selfish and insincere, 104.
    • True friendship arises from a conformity of tempers and dispositions, 105.
    • The flatterer attempts such a conformity, 106.
    • It is not natural and uniform, but a mere disguise, 107.
    • The flatterer is mutable and inconstant, 109.
    • He only reflects the humors of other men, 109.
    • The true friend imitates and commends only what is worthy, 110.
    • The flatterer copies the faults and blemishes of friends, 110, 111.
    • He pretends to have the same diseases, 111.
    • And to suffer the same ill-treatment, 112.
    • Counterfeiting the good qualities of a friend, he yields him the pre-eminence, 112.
    • The flatterer often overdoes, in the effort to make himself agreeable, 114.
    • The true friend is sometimes under the necessity of giving pain, 115.
    • The flatterer deals out undeserved encomium, against which our own conscience protests, 116.
    • Sometimes he Edition: current; Page: [v] utters praise as if he heard it from a third person, 119.
    • Sometimes he flatters men in their vices by deriding the contrary virtues, 119, 120.
    • There is a silent flattery, as when a man yields his place to another, 121.
    • The parasite praises the man of money, 122.
    • His censures, if he deliver any, fall upon venial faults, not on real crimes, 124.
    • He flatters, even while pretending to blame, 125.
    • Men are flattered when reproved for faults directly the reverse of their real ones, 126
    • The friend aims at the improvement of our character; the flatterer works on our weak spots, 128, 129.
    • The friend is open-hearted and natural; the flatterer ceremonious and obsequious, 130.
    • The real friend will assist in no dishonest endeavor: the flatterer has no scruples about the proposal, 131, 132, 134, 135.
    • The kindness of a friend is without parade; that of a flatterer is attended with bustle and show, 133.
    • The flatterer reminds us of his past services; the true friend never, 134.
    • An accurate self-knowledge defends against flattery, 137, 138.
    • We have no need of flattery, 138.
    • Causeless censure may be equally mischievous with causeless praise, 138.
    • How to avoid causeless reprehension of others, 139, et seq.
    • Eliminate from the affair all self-interest, 140.
    • Free our speech from reproachful words, 141.
    • Deliver ourselves with seriousness and dignity, 142.
    • Make our reproofs seasonable, 143.
    • The prosperous need reproof rather than the afflicted, 144.
    • When is severe reproof allowable? 145.
    • Reprove not in presence of another, 148;
    • especially not before inferiors, 149.
    • A reprover should not himself need reproof, 150.
    • In reproving, confess our own fault, 150.
    • Mix with the reproof a little praise, 151.
    • If reproved, do not retort on your monitor, 152.
    • Reprove only on weighty occasions, 152.
    • Avoid a fault-finding, captious habit, 153.
    • Reproof is not offensive, when kindly administered, 154.
    • Reprove with caution and moderation, 155.
    • Care should be used to leave with the reproof a salutary impression, 156.

    • Four interlocutors discourse respecting this doctrine, 157–203.
    • What had been said by a favorer of Epicurus, 157, 158.
    • What the Epicurean doctrine is, 159.
    • It recognizes no pleasure but that which is derived from the senses, 160.
    • Objections to this doctrine, 160, et seq.
    • Pains, as well as pleasures, enter through the senses, and these are keenly felt, 161.
    • Bodily pleasure is feeble and soon over, 161.
    • The remembrance of past pleasure only stimulates desire for more, 163;
    • and this produces a restless habit, 164.
    • No man can safely count on a continuance of what he now enjoys, 165.
    • Hence there must be constant disquiet, 166.
    • A wicked course contributes nothing to assurance of continual enjoyment, 166.
    • Our very bodily constitution places us in constant peril, 167.
    • To escape evil, the Epicureans say, is the supreme good; but this is simply impossible, 167.
    • If it were possible, it would not raise us above the brutes, 168, 169.
    • Freedom from bodily pain is a trivial affair, 169.
    • The Epicurean philosophy rejects the idea of God and of future retribution; this costs effort; the brutes who never had this idea have advantage over the followers of Epicurus, 170.
    • Intellectual enjoyments greatly superior to sensual pleasures, 171.
    • There is great enjoyment in knowledge, 171.
    • An acquaintance with works of genius affords great pleasure, 172.
    • The mathematics afford unspeakable delight, 173.
    • Instances of this in the cases of Eudoxus, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and others, 174.
    • Such pleasures are far Edition: current; Page: [vi] superior and more intense than sensual enjoyments, 174.
    • The Epicurean philosophy eschews these higher and purer delights, 175;
    • and in old age it has nothing left, 176.
    • Epicurus disallows music, 177, 178.
    • He would deprive the mind of its own proper good, and drag it down to the level of the body, 179.
    • The highest good consists in action, 180;
    • especially beneficent action, 180, 181.
    • The pleasures recognized by Epicureans are base and ignoble, 182.
    • They make the stomach the centre, 183.
    • A noble nature despises such pleasures, 184, 185.
    • Great and generous actions are never forgotton, 186;
    • but the memory of sensual gratification is transient, 186.
    • A good reputation affords high satisfaction, 187.
    • This cannot be enjoyed by idle and debauched persons, 188.
    • The Epicureans leave us no hope from God, 189.
    • The fear and worship of God, even when joined with superstition, keep down wickedness and afford much pleasure, 190.
    • This pleasure is shared alike by rich and poor, 191;
    • but Epicureans deny it to themselves, 191.
    • The Deity can neither do nor suffer wrong, 192.
    • Therefore a friend of God must be happy, 193.
    • Of such a satisfaction the followers of Epicurus would deprive us, 194.
    • According to them, death is the extinction of our being, — a gloomy prospect, 195.
    • All men shrink at the idea of annihilation, 197.
    • A dark hereafter is better than none, 198.
    • Epicureanism extinguishes hope and virtue, 199.
    • The hope of another and better life gives additional comfort to the present, 200.
    • Of all this hope and enjoyment the Epicurean doctrine deprives us, and thus debases and contracts our nature, 202, 203.

    • 1. Why do the Romans require a new-married woman to touch fire and water? 204.
    • 2. Why do they light, at nuptials, five torches? 204.
    • 3, 4. Questions about Diana’s temples, 205.
    • 5. Why do persons falsely reported as dead, on their return home from foreign parts, not enter by the door? 206.
    • 6. Why do women kiss their relations? 207.
    • 7. Why are husbands and wives forbidden to receive presents from each other? 208.
    • 8. Why may they not receive a gift from a son-in-law or father-in-law? 209.
    • 9. Why do husbands returning from remote parts send to acquaint their wives of their approach? 209.
    • 10. Why do men in divine service cover their heads, &c.? 209.
    • 11. Why do they sacrifice to Saturn with head uncovered? 210.
    • 12. Why do they esteem Saturn the father of truth? 211.
    • 13. Why do they sacrifice to Honor bareheaded? 211.
    • 14. Why do sons appear at their parents’ funerals with covered heads, &c.? 211.
    • 15. Why do Romans not sacrifice to the god Terminus? 212.
    • 16. Why must not maid-servants enter the temple of Matuta? 212.
    • 17. Why do not women supplicate this goddess in behalf of their children? 213.
    • 18. Why do the rich pay tithes to Hercules? 213.
    • 19. Why does the Roman year begin in January? 213.
    • 20. Why is not myrtle brought into the temple of Bona Dea? 214.
    • 21. Why is worship paid to the woodpecker? 215.
    • 22. Why is Janus described as double-faced? 215.
    • 23. Why are funeral things sold in the temple of Venus Libitina? 216.
    • 24. Explain the Kalends, Nones, and Ides, 216.
    • 25. Why are the days after the Kalends, Nones, and Ides, considered unlucky? 217.
    • 26. Why is white sometimes worn as a sign of mourning? 219.
    • 27. Why are walls reputed sacred but not the gates? 219.
    • 28. Why are children forbidden to swear by Hercules within doors? 220.
    • 29. Why must not the new-married woman step over the threshold but be carried? 221.
    • 30. Why is she to say, “Where thou art Caius, I am Caia”? Edition: current; Page: [vii] 221.
    • 31. Why is the name Thalassius sung at nuptials? 221.
    • 32. Why are effigies of men, in some cases, called Argives? 222.
    • 33. Why did not men in ancient times sup abroad without their sons? 222.
    • 34. Why were funeral rites performed in December instead of February? 223.
    • 35. Why is worship paid to the harlot Laurentia? 223.
    • 36. Why is one gate at Rome known as the Window? 224.
    • 37. Why are spoils taken in war allowed to decay? 225.
    • 38. Why was divination prohibited after the month of August? 225.
    • 39. Why is it unlawful for a man not yet mustered into the army to slay an enemy? 226.
    • 40. Why was it unlawful to anoint a priest of Jupiter in the open air? 226.
    • 41. Why on the ancient coin was Janus stamped, with a ship on the reverse? 228.
    • 42. Why is the temple of Saturn used as the public treasury? 228.
    • 43. Why must ambassadors go to Saturn’s temple, and be there registered? 229.
    • 44. Why must not priests of Jupiter swear? 229.
    • 45. Why at the feast of Venus is wine so freely used? 230.
    • 46. Why would the ancients have the temple of Horta to stand always open? 230.
    • 47. Why did Romulus build the temple of Vulcan without the city? 231.
    • 48. Why were garlands used in the Consualia? 231.
    • 49. Why did candidates for office appear without tunics? 232.
    • 50. Why did the priest of Jupiter, on the death of his wife, resign his office? 232.
    • 51. Why is a dog set before the Lares, and why are the Lares covered with dogs’ skins? 233.
    • 52. Why is a dog sacrificed to Geneta, &c.? 233.
    • 53. Why, at the Capitoline games, are Sardians offered for sale by a crier? 234.
    • 54. Why is the flesh-market called Macellum? 234.
    • 55. Why do the minstrels wear women’s apparel on the Ides of January? 234.
    • 56. Why is it supposed that matrons built the temple of Carmenta? 235.
    • 57. Why is milk plentifully used in the women’s sacrifice to Rumina? 236.
    • 58. Why are some senators called Patres, and others Patres Conscripti? 236.
    • 59. Why was one altar common to Hercules and the Muses? 236.
    • 60. Why, of the two altars of Hercules, do the women not partake of the greater? 237.
    • 61. Why is the name of the tutelary god of Rome not allowed to be mentioned? 237.
    • 62. Why of the Feciales was the Pater Patratus accounted the chief? 238.
    • 63. Why is the Rex Sacrorum forbidden to bear civil office? 238.
    • 64. Why after eating must something always be left on the table? 239.
    • 65. The first congress with a wife, why must it be in the dark? 239.
    • 66. Why was a horse-race round called Flaminia? 239.
    • 67. Whence the name lictors? 239.
    • 68. Why do the Luperci sacrifice a dog? 240.
    • 69. Why upon the Septimontium are chariots not drawn by a pair of horses? 240.
    • 70. Why are convicted thieves called Furciferi? 241.
    • 71. Why is hay bound to the horns of unruly oxen? 241.
    • 72. Why must the lanterns of soothsayers be open at the top? 242.
    • 73. Why were priests, afflicted with sores, forbidden to use divination? 242.
    • 74. Why did Servius Tullius build a temple of Small Fortune? 243.
    • 75. Why did the Romans not extinguish a candle? 243.
    • 76. Why were little moons worn on the shoes? 244.
    • 77. Why was the year Jupiter’s, but the month Juno’s? 244.
    • 78. Why in soothsaying is sinister fortunate? 245.
    • 79. Why might the bones of one who had triumphed be brought into the city? 246.
    • 80. Why were the consuls requested not to come to the supper of the triumpher? 246.
    • 81. Why did not the tribune wear purple? 246.
    • 82. Why, before the chief officers, were the axes carried bound up in rods? 247.
    • 83. Why did the Romans forbid a human sacrifice to barbarians, and offer one themselves? 248.
    • 84. Why does the Roman day begin at midnight? 249.
    • 85. Why of old were women not suffered to grind or to cook? 250.
    • 86. Why are there no marriages in May? 250.
    • 87. Why is the hair of a bride parted with a spear? 251.
    • 88. Why is the money for public plays called lucar? 251.
    • 89. Why is the Quirinalia called the Feast of Fools? 251.
    • 90. Why, at a Edition: current; Page: [viii] sacrifice to Hercules, was no other god mentioned, &c.? 252.
    • 91. Why might not patricians dwell about the Capitol? 252.
    • 92. Why is a garland of oak-leaves put on him who saves a citizen in battle? 252.
    • 93. Why are vultures used in soothsaying? 253.
    • 94. Why is the temple of Aesculapius placed without the city? 254.
    • 95. Why must chaste people abstain from pulse? 254.
    • 96. Why are Vestal Virgins, when unchaste, buried alive? 254.
    • 97. Why, at a horse-race, is the winning horse sacrificed to Mars, &c.? 255.
    • 98. Why do the censors begin their official work by feeding the sacred geese? 255.
    • 99. Why are augurs never deprived of office? 256.
    • 100. Why, at the Ides of August, do the servants feast and the free-women wait on them? 257.
    • 101. Why are boys decorated with the necklace called bulla? 257.
    • 102. Why do boys receive names at nine days old, and girls at eight? 258.
    • 103. Why are those whose fathers are not known called Spurius? 258.
    • 104. Why was Bacchus called Liber Pater? 259.
    • 105. Why are widows married on holidays, but not virgins? 259.
    • 106. Why do the Romans worship Fortuna Primigenia? 260.
    • 107. Whence the term histriones? 260.
    • 108. Why are marriages between persons near akin not practised? 260.
    • 109. Why must not the chief priest of Jupiter touch meal or leaven? 261.
    • 110. Why is he forbidden to touch raw flesh? 261.
    • 111. Why is he forbidden to touch or name dog or goat? 262.
    • 112 Why is he forbidden to touch ivy, or to pass under vine branches? 263.
    • 113. Why is he forbidden to bear civil office? 264.

    • 1. Who are they at Epidaurus called Κονίποδες and Ἂρτυνοι? 265.
    • 2. What woman did the Cumans call Onobatis? 265.
    • 3. Who is the [Editor: illegible character]πεκκαύστρια among the Solenses? 266.
    • 4. Who are the Ἀμνήμονες among the Cnidians, and who is the Ἀϕεστήρ? 266.
    • 5. Who were the Χρηστοί among the Arcadians and Lacedaemonians? 266.
    • 6. Who is Κριθολόγος among the Opuntians? 266.
    • 7. What sort of clouds are the Ploiades? 266.
    • 8. Who is called Platychaetas among the Boeotians? 267.
    • 9. Who at Delphi is called [Editor: illegible character]σιωτήρ? 267.
    • 10. What is Phyxemelum? 268.
    • 11. Who are the Ἀποσϕενδόνητοι? 268.
    • 12. What was Charila among the Delphians? 268.
    • 13. What is the beggars’ meat among the Aenianes? 270.
    • 14. Who were the Coliads among the Ithacans? what was a ϕάγιλος? 271.
    • 15. What is the wooden dog among the Locrians? 271.
    • 16. What thing do the Megarians call ἀϕάβρωμα? 272.
    • 17. Who was called δορύξενος? 272.
    • 18. What is παλιντοκία? 273.
    • 19. What is the Anthedon of which Pythia speaks? 273.
    • 20. What is meant at Priene by darkness at the Oak? 274.
    • 21. Who in Crete were called Κατακαῦται? 274.
    • 22. What was the Sepulchre of the Boys at Chalcedon? 275.
    • 23. Who at Argos are Μιξαρχαγέτας and Ἐλάσιοι? 276.
    • 24. What at Argos is ἔγκνισμα? 276.
    • 25. Who are Ἀλάστωρ, Ἀλιτήριος, and Παλαμναῖος? 276.
    • 26. What is the meaning of a verse sung by certain virgins of Aenos? 276.
    • 27. Why at Rhodes does the crier never enter the chapel of Ocridion? 277.
    • 28. Why at Tenedos does no piper enter the temple, nor must Achilles be named there? 277.
    • 29. Who was the πωλήτης at Epidamnus? 278.
    • 30. What is the shore of Araenus, in Thrace? 278.
    • 31. Why at the feast of Ceres do the women of Eretria roast meat by the sun? 279.
    • 32. Who at Miletus were the Ἀειναῦται? 279.
    • 33. Why do the Chalcidians call a certain place Ἀκμαίων Λέσχη? 279.
    • 34. Who was he that sacrificed an ox to his benefactor? 280.
    • 35. Why did the Bottiaean maids sing, “Let us go to Athens”? 280.
    • 36. Why do the Eleian women Edition: current; Page: [ix] in their hymns say, “O Bacchus, come with an ox foot”? 281.
    • 37. Why is a place at Tanagra called Achilleum? 281.
    • 38. Who among the Boeotians were the Ψολόεις, and the Ὀλεῖαι? 282.
    • 39. Why do the Arcadians stone those who go willingly into the Lycaeum, &c.? 282.
    • 40. Who is Eunostus, tho hero of Tanagra, and why may not women enter his grove? 283.
    • 41. How came there to be a river in Boeotia called Scamander? 284.
    • 42. Whence the saying, “Let this prevail”? 285.
    • 43. Why is the city of the Ithacans called Alalcomenae? 285.
    • 44. Who are the Monophagi in Aegina? 286.
    • 45. Why does a statue of Jupiter in Caria carry an axe and not a thunderbolt? 286.
    • 46. Why do the Trallians call the pulse ὄροβος καθαρτής? 287.
    • 47. Why do the Eleans say, “worse than Sambicus”? 287.
    • 48. Why is the temple of Ulysses at Lacedaemon near the monument of Leucippides? 287.
    • 49. Why do the women of Chalcedon, on meeting other women’s husbands, cover one cheek? 288.
    • 50. Why do the Argives bring their sheep to the grove of Agenor, &c.? 289.
    • 51. Why did the Argive boys in sport call themselves Ballacrades? 289.
    • 52. Why do the men of Elis lead their mares out of their borders, &c.? 289.
    • 53. Why was it a custom amongst the Gnossians that they who borrowed money upon usury should snatch it up and run away? 289.
    • 54. Why in Samos do they call upon Venus of Dexicreon? 289.
    • 55. Why in Samos, when they sacrifice to Mercury, do they allow stealing? 290.
    • 56. Why in Samos is there a place called Πάναιμα? 290.
    • 57. Why in Samos was the Andron called Pedetes? 290.
    • 58. Why is the priest of Hercules in Cos clothed in women’s apparel? 291.
    • 59. Whence the race of Hamaxocylists in Megara? 292.

    • True happiness is not to be bought and sold; wealth will not procure it, 294.
    • The love of money does not cease on the acquisition of money, 295.
    • A man who has much is intent on getting more, 296.
    • He does not need more, but to be relieved of some part of what he has, 296.
    • To possess money, and not to use it, is a distemper of the mind, 297.
    • The love of wealth is never satisfied, 298.
    • It makes of a man a miserable slave, 299.
    • Such men are always in want, 297, et seq.
    • They excite aversion in the beholders, 299.
    • They lay up wealth for their children, 300;
    • who impatiently expect their decease, 301.
    • What is the use of riches? 302.
    • Riches need not be coveted, since our real wants are easily supplied, 303.
    • If there were nobody to see a display of riches besides their possessor, their chief value would cease, 304.
    • When nobody looks on, riches signify nothing, 305.

    • An arrogant boaster is universally condemned, 306.
    • Yet there are times when a man may fitly praise himself, 307.
    • A man may vindicate his worthy acts when maligned by others, 309.
    • Instances of this in Pericles, Pelopidas, Epaminondas, 309.
    • A man grappling with ill-fortune may vindicate himself, 310.
    • A man may do it, if treated ungratefully, 311.
    • Or if unjustly accused of evil acts, 312.
    • A Edition: current; Page: [x] man may indirectly praise himself by praising others who are of similar character, 313.
    • Envy may be forestalled by giving the credit of our good actions to Fortune or to God, 314;
    • and by admissions of partial wrong in our character or conduct, 316, 317.
    • We may praise ourselves when it seems to be for the advantage of others, 318;
    • and when by so doing we may silence an insolent and blustering man, 319.
    • When evil conduct is praised, and we may attract the attention of the company to a worthier example, 320.
    • In general we should avoid talking about ourselves, 321.
    • This habit engenders boasting and vain-glory, 322.
    • It leads to the disparagement of others, 323.
    • We should hear our praises uttered with modesty and caution, 324;
    • otherwise we incur disgrace, 325.

    • Opinion of Plato concerning the soul, 326.
    • Quotation from the Timaeus of Plato, 326.
    • Opinions of Xenocrates and Crantor, 327.
    • Plato held the eternity of matter, 328, 353.
    • Nature of the soul, according to Plato, 329, 330.
    • The material of which the world was formed, originally a shapeless mass existing from eternity, 331.
    • It was arranged in perfect and beautiful forms by God, 331, 336.
    • The soul of the world, 332, 351.
    • Origin of evil, 333, 334.
    • Reconciliation of Plato with himself, 335–337.
    • His real meaning, 337.
    • The four original elements of all created, corporeal things, 337.
    • The soul is both created and uncreated, 338.
    • The subject illustrated by geometry and the doctrine of ratios, 339–345.
    • And by the musical scale, 345–349.
    • Relation of spirit to matter, 350.
    • The opinion of those philosophers refuted who make the soul a compound of both, 351.
    • The soul of the world, what? 352.
    • The divisible and the indivisible: the Other and the Same, 326, 350, 354, et seq.
    • The four elements, how related, 355.
    • Generation, what? 356.
    • Two discordant principles rule the world, — Fate or Necessity, and Intelligence or Wisdom, 357, 358.
    • The soul is not altogether the workmanship of the Deity, 359.
    • Another illustration from geometry, 360.
    • Illustration from the planetary system, 361, 362.
    • And from musical science, 361, 367.

    • Instruction in philosophy not to be denied to men of quality, 368.
    • The true idea of philosophy, 369.
    • If useful to any, it may be especially useful to men who lead and govern, 370.
    • Absurdity of the contrary supposition, 371.
    • Great value of true philosophy, 372.
    • Reputation valuable to a philosopher as a means of usefulness, 373.
    • A philosopher will delight in giving his instructions where they will have the widest influence, 374, 375.
    • Even an ordinary mechanic would be pleased if he knew his machine would be put to a noble use, 376.

    • Introduction, 378
    • Supposed conversation among some friends respecting affairs at Thebes, at the period of the return of the exiles, 379–382.
    • About Pelopidas, Edition: current; Page: [xi] Epaminondas, Charon, Archias, Leontidas, Lysanoridas, 381, 382.
    • Plan for liberating Thebes from the Spartan rule, 382.
    • Strange portents and omens, 383–385.
    • Recourse to Egypt for the interpretation of a strange, antiquated writing, 383–385.
    • The writing interpreted, 386.
    • Folly of superstition, 387.
    • Socrates pursued a more rational method, 387.
    • What shall we think of his Daemon? 388.
    • Was it some trifling thing, as an omen or a sneeze? 389, 391.
    • It could be nothing but sound judgment, 390.
    • A stranger from Italy introduced, 392.
    • His account of affairs at Metapontum, 393.
    • Lysis had escaped from massacre at Metapontum, and been hospitably received at Thebes, 394.
    • Theanor, the stranger, offers money in requital for the kindness bestowed on Lysis, 394.
    • The offer refused, and why, 395.
    • Discourse of Epaminondas thereon, 396–398.
    • Epaminondas has a good Daemon, 399.
    • The conversation turns on the liberation of Thebes from the Spartan garrison, 400.
    • Fear that the plot is discovered, 401.
    • Dreams and omens, 401, 402.
    • The Daemon of Socrates again, 403, 404.
    • A strong impression made on the mind of some extraordinary man is from a Daemon, like that of Socrates, 406.
    • A romantic dream related, 407–411.
    • A descent into the infernal regions, 409.
    • Daemons are seen there; their connection with human beings on earth, 410, 411.
    • The Pythagorean philosophy respecting dreams, daemons, and sacred impulses, 412, 413.
    • Epaminondas refuses to kill any citizen without process of law, 414.
    • Slaughter of the Spartan commanders and liberation of Thebes, 414–423.

    • Uncomfortable houses may be so altered as to be made comfortable, 424.
    • In like manner, we may so change our personal habits as to become agreeable to ourselves and others, 425.
    • One habit needing to be changed may be that of a vain curiosity, 425.
    • Let us make a thorough self-inspection, 426.
    • Those who eagerly pry into the affairs of others are apt to be ignorant of themselves, 427, 428.
    • It is rude and indecent to intrude into the private concerns of others, 429.
    • It is also attended with danger, 430.
    • Curiosity may be wisely and safely indulged by inquiries into the phenomena of nature and the history of great events, 431.
    • But such things do not satisfy a perverse and prurient curiosity, 432.
    • Such curiosity proceeds from spite or envy, 432.
    • People so inclined search into matters which men wish to keep secret, 433.
    • Such people cannot endure the quiet of a country life, 434.
    • They eagerly inquire for news, 434.
    • We carefully guard ourselves against inquisitive persons, 435.
    • The practice procures its own punishment, 437.
    • To cure ourselves of the habit of idle curiosity, forbear to notice little things, 438.
    • Do not peep in at doors and windows, 439.
    • Do not mix with low people, 441.
    • Do not look at beautiful women, 442.
    • Restrain the impulse of curiosity, even in lawful things, 443.
    • Spies and informers, even when employed by the government, are always hated, 444.

    • There can be no progress in virtue while habits of wrong-doing continue unchanged, 446.
    • A change from vice to virtue is not instantaneous, it must be progresive, Edition: current; Page: [xii] 447.
    • The opinion of the Stoics confuted that all men are equally vicious, 448.
    • As there are degrees of moral improvement, they are easily discernible, 494.
    • Constant endeavors to be good may inspire confidence of success, 450.
    • It is a good sign if our efforts after moral improvement become more intense and constant, 451.
    • And if difficulties gradually disappear, 452.
    • Examples given, 453.
    • It is a good sign if the ridicule or opposition of friends do not induce us to leave our studies, 454.
    • What may evince proficiency in virtue, 455.
    • Many fail of advantage from the study of philosophy, 456.
    • In hearing lectures or reading, attend to things spoken rather than the words, 457.
    • Do not read merely to admire the style, 457.
    • Be more ready to hear than to speak, 459.
    • Maintain an unruffled temper, 459.
    • Cultivate presence of mind, 460.
    • Be guided by truth rather than ostentation, 461.
    • Exercise self-restraint, 461;
    • and moderation, 462.
    • Cultivate a serious spirit, 463.
    • Be willing to receive admonition, 464, 465.
    • When in the wrong, willingly acknowledge it, 466.
    • Effects of careful and persistent training, 468.
    • Pleasant dreams indicate proficiency in virtue, 469.
    • Not only love and admire but imitate virtuous examples, 470.
    • Let some virtuous example ever be in our thoughts, 472.
    • Cultivate the acquaintance of the wise and good, 478.
    • Carefully avoid every fault, 474.

    • Does Fortune rule the affairs of men? 475.
    • What influence could it have in the affairs of Aristides, Scipio, Alexander, and men like them? 475.
    • Are there not such things as wisdom, justice, moderation, and fortitude? 476.
    • And are not these qualities of supreme importance? 477.
    • Were it not for our reason, we should be far inferior to the brutes, 478.
    • What place has Fortune in the affairs of carpenters, artists, and painters? 479.
    • If reason and good counsel are of service in the mechanic arts, why not in affairs of state? 480.

    • As our clothing does not impart heat to our bodies, so ample possessions cannot make us happy, 482.
    • Virtue can make any condition in life pleasant and delightful, 483.
    • A man’s vices inflict on him misery which he cannot avoid, 483.
    • They allow him no rest, day or night, 484.
    • Worldly abundance only aggravates the disorders of the mind, 484.
    • Virtue makes a man happy anywhere, 485.

    • Introduction, 486.
    • Avoid the first occasions of discord, 487.
    • There should be a conformity of tastes and manners, 488.
    • The wife must prefer the society of her husband to that of all others, 488.
    • The husband must avoid a morose, imperious behavior, 489.
    • Let all things be managed with the consent of both parties, 489.
    • The wife, if limited in expenses, must cheerfully submit, 490.
    • She must not chide her husband before others, 490.
    • She should study to reflect his character, Edition: current; Page: [xiii] 490.
    • She should share his recreations and his cares, 491.
    • If the husband takes another woman on an excursion of pleasure, let not the wife show anger, 491.
    • The caresses of conjugal life should be proffered by the husband only, 492.
    • A wife must have no private friendships, 492.
    • Meum et tuum must have no place in married life, 493.
    • The petty altercations of man and wife, if of daily occurrence, render the connection insupportable, 494.
    • The parties immediately concerned can best tell where the shoe pinches, 494.
    • A wife wins her husband’s affection most readily by sweetness of disposition, 494.
    • The wife should make a proper use of her mirror, 495.
    • A woman is adorned more by discretion, humility, and modesty, than by gold or diamonds, 495.
    • Anger and reproach should be banished from the household, 496.
    • A wife must not be a slut, 496.
    • She should avoid affectation and being over nice, 497.
    • She should avoid extravagance in dress, 497.
    • She should guard her lips in the hearing of strangers, 498.
    • She must not attempt to control her husband, 498.
    • The husband’s government must be that of love, 498.
    • The wife should so gain her husband’s love as not to lessen his affection for his mother, 499.
    • When the husband is in a passion, it is best for the wife to hold her peace, 500.
    • Women are rarely jealous of their husbands when other women let them alone, 501.
    • Let the husband abstain from unlawful embraces, 503.
    • Let him respect and honor his wife, 504.
    • Concluding counsels, 505–507.
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the seven, — solon, bias, thales, anacharsis, cleobulus, pittacus, chilo.*



ModernGreek: 1. No wonder, my friend Nicarchus, to find old truths so disguised, and the words and actions of men so grossly misrepresented and lamely delivered, seeing people are so disposed to give ear and credit to fictions of yesterday’s standing. For there were not merely seven present at that feast, as you were informed; there were more than double the number. I was there myself in person and familiarly acquainted with Periander (my art had gained me his acquaintance); and Thales boarded at my house, at the request and upon the recommendation of Periander. Whoever then gave you that account of our feast did it very badly; it is plain he did it upon hearsay, and that he was not there among us. Now, since we are together and at leisure, and possibly we may not live to find an opportunity so convenient another time, I will (seeing you desire it) give you a faithful account of the whole proceedings at that meeting.

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ModernGreek: 2. Periander had prepared a dinner for us, not in the town, but in a dining-hall at Lechaeum which stands close to the temple of Venus, to whom there was a sacrifice that day. For having neglected the duty ever since his mother died for love, he was resolved now to atone for the omission, being warned so to do by the dreams of Melissa. In order thereunto, there was provided a rich chariot for every one of the guests. It was summer-time, and every part of the way quite to the seaside was hardly passable, by reason of throngs of people and whole clouds of dust. As soon as Thales espied the chariot waiting at the door, he smilingly discharged it, and we walked through the fields to avoid the press and noise. There was in our company a third person, Niloxenus a Naucratian, an eminent man, who was very intimately acquainted with Solon and Thales in Egypt; he had a message to deliver to Bias, and a letter sealed, the contents whereof he knew not; only he guessed it contained a second question to be resolved by Bias, and in case Bias undertook not to answer it, he had in commission to impart it to the wisest men in Greece. What a fortune is this (quoth Nilox enus) to find you all together! This paper (showing it us) I am bringing to the banquet. Thales replied, after his wonted smiling way, If it contains any hard question, away with it to Priene. Bias will resolve it with the same readiness he did your former problem. What problem was that? quoth he. Why, saith Thales, a certain person sent him a beast for sacrifice with this command, that he should return him that part of his flesh which was best and worst; our philosopher very gravely and wisely pulled out the tongue of the beast, and sent it to the donor; — which single act procured him the name and reputation of a very wise man. It was not this act alone that advanced him in the estimation of the world, quoth Niloxenus; but he joyfully embraces what you so Edition: current; Page: [5] carefully shun, the acquaintance and friendship of kings and great men; and whereas he honors you for divers great accomplishments, he particularly admires you for this invention, that with little labor and no help of any mathematical instrument you took so truly the height of one of the pyramids; for fixing your staff erect at the point of the shadow which the pyramid cast, two triangles being thus made by the tangent rays of the sun, you demonstrated that what proportion one shadow had to the other, such the pyramid bore to the stick.

But, as I said, you are accused of being a hater of kings, and certain back friends of yours have presented Amasis with a paper of yours stuffed with sentences reproachful to majesty; as for instance, being at a certain time asked by Molpagoras the Ionian, what the most absurd thing was you had observed in your notice, you replied, An old king. Another time, in a dispute that happened in your company about the nature of beasts, you affirmed that of wild beasts, a king, of tame, a flatterer was the worst. Such apophthegms must needs be unacceptable to kings, who pretend there is vast difference between them and tyrants. This was Pittacus’s reply to Myrsilus, and it was spoken in jest, quoth Thales; nor was it an old king I said I should marvel at, but an old pilot. In this mistake, however, I am much of the youth’s mind who, throwing a stone at a bitch, hit his stepmother, adding, Not so bad. I therefore esteemed Solon a very wise and good man, when I understood he refused empire; and if Pittacus had not taken upon himself a monarchy, he had never exclaimed, O ye Gods! how hard a matter it is to be good! And Periander, however he seems to be sick of his father’s disease, is yet to be commended that he gives ear to wholesome discourses and converses only with wise and good men, rejecting the advice of Thrasybulus my countryman, who would have persuaded him to chop off the heads of his nobility. For Edition: current; Page: [6] a prince that chooses rather to govern slaves than freemen is like a foolish farmer, who throws his wheat and barley in the streets, to fill his barns with swarms of locusts and whole cages of birds. For government has one good thing to make amends for the many evils attending it, namely, honor and glory, provided the ruler rules good men because he is better than they, and great men seeming to be greater than they. But he that having ascended the throne minds only his own interest and ease, remitting all care and concern for the welfare of the subject, is fitter to tend sheep or to drive horses or to feed cattle than to govern men of reason.

But this stranger (continues he) has engaged us in a deal of impertinent chat, for we have neglected to speak or offer any discourse suitable to the occasion and end of our meeting; for doubtless it becomes the guest, as well as the host, to make preparation beforehand. It is reported that the Sybarites used to invite their neighbors’ wives a whole twelve-month before to their entertainments, that they might have convenient time to trim and adorn themselves; for my part, I am of opinion, that he who would feast as he should ought to allow himself more time for preparation than they, it being a more difficult matter to compose the mind into an agreeable temper than to fit one’s clothes for the outward ornament of the body. For a prudent man comes not hither only to fill his belly, as if he were to fill a bottle, but to be sometimes grave and serious, sometimes pleasant, sometimes to listen to others, and sometimes to speak himself what may benefit or divert the company, if the meeting is intended for any good use or purpose. For if the victuals be not good, men may let them alone, or if the wine be bad, men may use water; but for a weak-headed, impertinent, unmannerly, shallow fellow-commoner there is no cure; he mars all the mirth and music, and spoils the best entertainment in the world. Edition: current; Page: [7] And it will be no easy business to rid one’s self of a sullen temper when once entertained; since we find divers men, affronted in their debauches, have yet remembered the provocation to their dying day, the spite remaining like a surfeit arising from wrong done or anger conceived in drinking wine. Wherefore Chilo did very well and wisely; for when he was invited yesterday, he would not promise to come till he had a particular given him of all their names who were to meet him. For, quoth he, if my business calls me to sea or I am pressed to serve my prince in his wars, there is a necessity upon me to rest contented with whatever company I fall into, though never so unsuitable to my quality or disagreeable to my nature and humor; but voluntarily and needlessly to associate myself with any riffraff rabble would ill become any man pretending to but common discretion.

The Egyptian skeleton which they brought into their feasts and exposed to the view of their guests, with this advice, that they should not in their merriment forget they would shortly be themselves such as that was, — though it was a sight not so acceptable (as may be supposed), — had yet this conveniency and use, to incite the spectators not to luxury and drunkenness but to mutual love and friendship, persuading them not to protract a life in itself short and uncertain by a tedious course of wickedness.

ModernGreek: 3. In discourses of this kind we spent our time by the way, and were now come to the house. Here Thales would not be washed, for he had but a while before anointed himself; wherefore he took a round to view the horse-race and the wrestling-place, and the grove upon the water-side, which was neatly trimmed and beautified by Periander; this he did, not so much to satisfy his own curiosity (for he seldom or never admired any thing he saw), but that he might not disoblige Periander or seem to overlook or despise the glory and magnificence of our host. Edition: current; Page: [8] Of the rest every one, after he had anointed and washed himself, the servants introduced into a particular room, purposely fitted and prepared for the men; they were guided thither through a porch, in which Anacharsis sat, and there was a certain young lady with him arranging his hair. This lady stepping forward to welcome Thales, he saluted her most courteously, and smiling said: Madam, make the stranger fair and pleasant, so that, being (as he is) the mildest man in the world, he may not be fearful and hideous for us to look on. When I was curious to enquire who this lady was whom Thales thus complimented, he said, Do you not yet know the wise and famous Eumetis? — for so her father calls her, though others call her after her father’s name Cleobulina. Doubtless, saith Niloxenus, they call her by this name to commend her judgment and wit, and her reach into the more abstruse and recondite part of learning; for I have myself in Egypt seen and read some problems first started and discussed by her. Not so, saith Thales, for she plays with these as men do with cockal-bones, and encounters boldly all she meets, without study or premeditation; she is a person of an admirable understanding, of a politic capacious mind, of a very obliging conversation, and one that by her rhetoric and the sweetness of her temper prevails upon her father to govern his subjects with the greatest mildness in the world. How popular she is appears, saith Niloxenus, plainly to any that observes her pleasant innocent garb. But pray, continues he, wherefore is it that she shows such tenderness and affection to Anacharsis? Because, replied Thales, he is a temperate and learned man, who fully and freely makes known to her those mysterious ways of dieting and physicing the sick which are now in use among the Scythians; and I doubt not she now coaxes and courts the old gentleman at the rate you see, taking this opportunity to discourse with him and learn something of him.

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As we were come near the dining-room, Alexidemus the Milesian, a bastard son of Thrasybulus the Tyrant, met us. He seemed to be disturbed, and in an angry tone muttered to himself some words which we could not distinctly hear; but espying Thales, and recovering himself out of his disorder, he complained how Periander had put an insufferable affront upon him. He would not permit me, saith he, to go to sea, though I earnestly importuned him, but he would press me to dine with him. And when I came as invited, he assigned me a seat unbecoming my person and character, Aeolians and islanders and others of inferior rank being placed above me; whence it is easy to infer how meanly he thinks of my father, and it is undeniable how this affront put upon me rebounds disgracefully in my parent’s face. Say you so? quoth Thales, are you afraid lest the place lessen or diminish your honor and worth, as the Egyptians commonly hold the stars are magnified or lessened according to their higher or lower place and position? And are you more foolish than that Spartan who, when the perfect of the music had appointed him to sit in the lowest seat in the choir, replied, This is prudently done, for this is the ready way to bring this seat into repute and esteem? It is a frivolous consideration, where or below whom we sit; and it is a wiser part to adapt ourselves to the judgment and humor of our right and left hand man and the rest of the company, that we may approve ourselves worthy of their friendship, when they find we take no pet at our host, but are rather pleased to be placed near such good company. And whosoever is disturbed upon the account of his place seems to be more angry with his neighbor than with his host, but certainly is very troublesome and nauseous to both.

These are fine words, and no more, quoth Alexidemus, for I observe you, the wisest of men, as ambitious as other men; and having said thus, he passed by us doggedly and Edition: current; Page: [10] trooped off. Thales, seeing us admiring the innocence of the man, declared he was a fellow naturally of a blockish, stupid disposition; for when he was a boy, he took a parcel of rich perfume that was presented to Thrasybulus and poured it into a large bowl, and mixing it with a quantity of wine, he drank it off and was ever hated for it. As Thales was talking after this fashion, in comes a servant and tells us it was Periander’s pleasure we would come in and inform him what we thought of a certain creature brought into his presence that instant, whether it were so born by chance or were a prodigy and omen; — himself seeming mightily affected and concerned, for he judged his sacrifice polluted by it. At the same time he walked before us into a certain house adjoining to his garden-wall, where we found a young beardless shepherd, tolerably handsome, who having opened a leathern bag produced and showed us a child born (as he averred) of a mare. His upper part, as far as his neck and his hands, was of human shape, and the rest of his body resembled a perfect horse; his cry was like that of a child newly born. As soon as Niloxenus saw it, he cried out, The Gods deliver us; and away he fled as one sadly affrighted. But Thales eyed the shepherd a considerable while, and then smiling (for it was his way to jeer me perpetually about my art) says he, I doubt not, Diocles, but you have been all this time seeking for some expiatory offering, and intending to call to your aid those Gods whose province and work it is to avert evils from men, as if some great and grievous thing had happened. Why not? quoth I, for undoubtedly this prodigy portends sedition and war, and I fear the dire portents thereof may extend to myself, my wife, and my children, and prove all our ruin; since, before I have atoned for my former fault, the Goddess gives us this second evidence and proof of her displeasure. Thales replied never a word, but laughing went Edition: current; Page: [11] out of the house. Periander, meeting him at the door, enquired what we thought of that creature; he dismissed me, and taking Periander by the hand, said, Whatsoever Diocles shall persuade you to do, do it at your best leisure; but I advise you either not to have such young men to keep your mares, or to give them leave to marry. When Periander heard him out, he seemed infinitely pleased, for he laughed outright, and hugging Thales in his arms he kissed him; then saith he, O Diocles, I am apt to think the worst is over, and what this prodigy portended is now at an end; for do you not apprehend what a loss we have sustained in the want of Alexidemus’s good company at supper?

ModernGreek: 4. When we entered into the house, Thales raising his voice enquired where it was his worship refused to be placed; which being shown him, he sat himself in that very place, and prayed us to sit down by him, and said, I would gladly give any money to have an opportunity to sit and eat with Ardalus. This Ardalus was a Troezenian by birth, by profession a minstrel, and a priest of the Ardalian Muses, whose temple old Ardalus had founded and dedicated. Here Esop, who was sent from Croesus to visit Periander, and withal to consult the oracle at Delphi, sitting by and beneath Solon upon a low stool, told the company this fable: A Lydian mule, viewing his own picture in a river, and admiring the bigness and beauty of his body, raises his crest; he waxes proud, resolving to imitate the horse in his gait and running; but presently, recollecting his extraction, how that his father was but an ass at best, he stops his career and checks his own haughtiness and bravery. Chilo replied, after his short laconic way, You are slow and yet try to run, in imitation of your mule.

Amidst these discourses in comes Melissa and sits her down by Periander; Eumetis followed and came in as we were at supper; then Thales calls to me (I sat me down Edition: current; Page: [12] above Bias), Why do you not make Bias acquainted with the problems sent him from the King by Niloxenus this second time, that he may soberly and warily weigh them? Bias answered, I have been already scared with that news. I have known that Bacchus is otherwise a powerful God, and for his wisdom is termed λύσιος, that is, the interpreter; therefore I shall undertake it when my belly is full of wine. Thus they jested and reparteed and played one upon another all the while they sat at table. Observing the unwonted frugality of Periander at this time, I considered with myself that the entertainment of wise and good men is a piece of good husbandry, and that so far from enhancing a man’s expenses in truth it serves to save charge, the charge (to wit) of costly foreign unguents and junkets, and the waste of the richest wines, which Periander’s state and greatness required him every day in his ordinary treats to expend. Such costly provisions were useless here, and Periander’s wisdom appeared in his frugality. Moreover, his lady had laid aside her richer habit, and appeared in an ordinary, but a very becoming dress.

ModernGreek: 5. Supper now ended, and Melissa having distributed the garlands, we offered sacrifice; and when the minstrel had played us a tune or two, she withdrew. Then Ardalus enquired of Anacharsis, if there were women fiddlers at Scythia. He suddenly and smartly replied, There are no vines there. Ardalus asked a second question, whether the Scythians had any Gods among them. Yes, quoth Anacharsis, and they understand what men say to them; nor are the Scythians of the Grecian opinion (however these last may be the better orators), that the Gods are better pleased with the sounds of flutes and pipes than with the voice of men. My friend, saith Esop, what would you say if you saw our present pipe-makers throw away the bones of fawns and hind-calves, to use those of asses, affirming they yield the sweeter and more melodious sound? Whereupon Edition: current; Page: [13] Cleobulina made one of her riddles about the Phrygian flute, . . . in regard to the sound, and wondered that an ass, a gross animal and no lover of music, should yet afford bones so fit for harmony. Therefore it is doubtless, quoth Niloxenus, that the people of Busiris accuse us Naucratians of folly for using pipes made of asses’ bones, it being an insufferable fault in any of them to listen to the flute or cornet, the sound thereof being (as they esteem it) so like the braying of an ass; and you know an ass is hateful to the Egyptians on account of Typhon.

ModernGreek: 6. There happening here a short silence, Periander, observing Niloxenus willing but not daring to speak, said: I cannot but commend the civility of those magistrates who give audience first to strangers and afterwards to their own citizens; wherefore I judge it convenient that we inhabitants and neighbors should proceed no farther at present in our discourse, and that now attention be given to those royal propositions sent us from Egypt, which the worthy Niloxenus is commissioned to deliver to Bias, who desires that he and we may scan and examine them together. And Bias said: For where or in what company would a man more joyfully adventure to give his opinion than here in this? And since it is his Majesty’s pleasure that I should give my judgment first, in obedience to his commands I will do so, and afterwards they shall come to every one of you in order.

Then Niloxenus delivered the paper to Bias, who broke up the seal and commanded it to be read in all their hearing. The contents were these: —

Amasis the king of Egypt, to Bias, the wisest of the Grecians, greeting. There is a contest between my brother of Ethiopia and myself about wisdom; and being baffled in divers other particulars, he now demands of me a thing absurd and impracticable; for he requires me to drink up Edition: current; Page: [14] the ocean dry. If I be able to read this his riddle, divers cities and towns now in his possession are to be annexed to my kingdom; but if I cannot resolve this hard sentence, and give him the right meaning thereof, he requires of me my right to all the towns bordering upon Elephantina. Consider with speed the premises, and let me receive your thoughts by Niloxenus. Pray lose no time. If in any thing I can be serviceable to your city or friends, you may command me. Farewell.

Bias, having perused and for a little time meditated upon the letter, and whispering Cleobulus in the ear (he sat by him), exclaimed: What a narration is here, O Niloxenus! Will Amasis, who governs so many men and is seized of so many flourishing territories, drink up the ocean for the gain of a few paltry, beggarly villages? Niloxenus replied with a smile: Consider, good sir, what is to be done, if he will obey. Why then, said Bias, let Amasis require the Ethiopian king to stop the streams which from all parts flow and empty themselves in the ocean, until he have drunk out the whole remainder; for I conceive he means the present waters, not those which shall flow into it hereafter. Niloxenus was so overjoyed at this answer, that he could not contain himself. He hugged and kissed the author, and the whole company liked his opinion admirably well; and Chilo laughing desired Niloxenus to get aboard immediately before the sea was consumed, and tell his master he should mind more how to render his government sweet and potable to his people, than how to swallow such a quantity of salt water. For Bias, he told him, understands these things very well, and knows how to oblige your lord with very useful instructions, which if he vouchsafe to attend, he shall no more need a golden basin to wash his feet, to gain respect from his subjects; all will love and honor him for his virtue, though he were ten thousand Edition: current; Page: [15] times more hateful to them than he is. It were well and worthily done, quoth Periander, if all of us did pay him our first-fruits in this kind by the poll (as Homer said). Such a course would bring him an accession of profit greater than the whole profit of the voyage, besides being of no little use to ourselves.

ModernGreek: 7. To this point it is fit that Solon should first speak, quoth Chilo, not only because he is the eldest in the company and therefore sits uppermost at table, but because he governs and gives laws to the amplest and most complete and flourishing republic in the world, that of Athens. Here Niloxenus whispered me in the ear: O Diocles, saith he, how many reports fly about and are believed, and how some men delight in lies which they either feign of their own heads or most greedily swallow from the mouths of others. In Egypt I heard it reported how Chilo had renounced all friendship and correspondence with Solon, because he maintained the mutability of laws. A ridiculous fiction, quoth I, for then he and we must have renounced Lycurgus, who changed the laws and indeed the whole government of Sparta.

Solon, pausing awhile, gave his opinion in these words. I conceive that monarch, whether king or tyrant, were infinitely to be commended, who would exchange his monarchy for a commonwealth. Bias subjoined, And who would be first and foremost in conforming to the laws of his country. Thales added, I reckon that prince happy, who, being old, dies in his bed a natural death. Fourthly, Anacharsis, If he alone be a wise man. Fifthly, Cleobulus said, If he trust none of his courtiers. Sixthly, Pittacus spake thus, If he could cause his subjects to have fear not of him but for him. Lastly, Chilo concluded thus, A magistrate ought to have thoughts, purposes, and resolutions not mean and earthly, but divine and immortal.

When all had given in their judgments upon this point, Edition: current; Page: [16] we requested Periander he would condescend to give the company the satisfaction to let them know his thoughts upon the same head. Disorder and discontent appearing in his countenance, he said, These opinions are enough to scare any wise man from affecting empire. These things, saith Esop after his fault-finding way, ought rather to have been discussed privately among ourselves, lest we be accounted antimonarchical while we desire to be esteemed friends and loyal counsellors. Solon, gently clapping him upon the shoulder and smiling, answered: Do you not perceive that any one would make a king more moderate and a tyrant more favorable, who should persuade him that it is better not to reign than to reign? Then we must believe you before the oracle delivered unto you, quoth Esop, which pronounced that city happy that heard but one crier. Yes, quoth Solon, and Athens, though now a commonwealth, hath but one crier and one magistrate, and that is the law, though the government be democratical; but you, my friend, have been so accustomed to the croaking of ravens and the prating of jays, that you do not hear your own voice. For you maintain it to be the happiness of a city to be under the command of one man, and yet account it the praise of a feast if liberty is allowed every man to speak his mind freely upon what subject he pleases. But you have not prohibited your servants’ drunkenness, as you have forbidden them to love or to use dry ointments. Solon laughed at this; but Cleodorus the physician said: To use dry ointment is like talking when a man is drenched with wine; both are very pleasant. Therefore, saith Chilo, it concerns men the more carefully to avoid it. Esop proceeds, Thales seemed to imply that he should soon grow old.

ModernGreek: 8. Periander said laughing: We suffer deservedly, for, before we have perfected our animadversions and remarks upon the letter, we are fallen upon disputes so strangely foreign to the matter under consideration; and therefore I Edition: current; Page: [17] pray, Niloxenus, read out the remainder of your lord’s letter, and slip not this opportunity to receive what satisfaction all that are present shall be able to give you. The command of the king of Ethiopia, says Niloxenus, is no more and no less than (to use Archilochus’s phrase) a broken scytale; that is, the meaning is inscrutable and cannot be found out. But your friend Amasis was more gentle and civil in his queries; for he commanded him only to resolve him what was most ancient, most beautiful, greatest, wisest, most common, and withal, what was most profitable, most pernicious, most strong, and most easy. Did he resolve and answer every one of these questions? He did, quoth Niloxenus, and do you judge of his answers and the soundness thereof: and it is my prince’s purpose not to misrepresent his responses and condemn unjustly what he saith well, so, where he finds him under a mistake, not to suffer that to pass without correction. His answers to the foresaid questions I will read to you. — What is most ancient? Time. What is greatest? The World. What is wisest? Truth. What is most beautiful? The light. What is most common? Death. What is most profitable? God. What is most pernicious? An evil genius. What is strongest? Fortune. What is most easy? That which is pleasant.

ModernGreek: 9. When Niloxenus had read out these answers, there was a short silence among them; by and by Thales desires Niloxenus to inform him if Amasis approved of these answers. Niloxenus said, he liked some and disliked others. There is not one of them right and sound, quoth Thales, but all are full of wretched folly and ignorance. As for instance, how can that be most ancient whereof part is past, part is now present, and part is yet to come; every man knows it is younger than ourselves and our actions. As to his answer that truth is the most wise thing, it is as incongruous as if he had affirmed the light to be an eye; if Edition: current; Page: [18] he judged the light to be the most beautiful, how could he overlook the sun; as to his solutions concerning the Gods and evil geniuses, they are full of presumption and peril. What he saith of Fortune is void of sense, for her inconstancy and fickleness proceeds from want of strength and power. Nor is death the most common thing; the living are still at liberty, it hath not arrested them. But lest we be censured as having a faculty to find fault only, we will lay down our opinions of these things, and compare them with those of the Ethiopian; and I offer myself first, if Niloxenus pleases, to deliver my opinion on every one singly, and I will relate both questions and answers in that method and order in which they were sent to Ethiopia and read to us. What is most ancient? Thales answered, God, for he had no beginning. What is greatest? Place; the world contains all other things, this surrounds and contains the world. What is most beautiful? The world; for whatever is framed artificially and methodically is a part of it. What is most wise? Time; for it has found out some things already, it will find out the rest in due time. What is most common? Hope; for they that want other things are masters of this. What is most profitable? Virtue; for by a right managery of other things she makes them all beneficial and advantageous. What is most pernicious? Vice; for it depraves the best things we enjoy. What is the most strong? Necessity; for this alone is insuperable. What is most easy? That which is most agreeable to nature; for pleasures themselves are sometimes tedious and nauseating.

ModernGreek: 10. All the consult approved of Thales’s solutions. Then Cleodemus said: My friend Niloxenus, it becomes kings to propound and resolve such questions; but the insolence of that barbarian who would have Amasis drink the sea would have been better fitted by such a smart reprimand as Pittacus gave Alyattes, who sent an imperious letter to the Edition: current; Page: [19] Lesbians. He made him no answer, except to bid him spend his time in eating his hot bread and onions.

Periander here assumed the discourse, and said: It was the manner of the ancient Grecians heretofore, O Cleodemus, to propound doubts to one another; and it hath been told us, that the most famous and eminent poets once met at the grave of Amphidamas in Chalcis. This Amphidamas was a leading citizen, one that had perpetual wars with the Eretrians, and at last lost his life in one of the battles fought for the possession of the Lelantine plain. Now, because the writings of those poets were composed in verse, and so made the argument more knotty and the decision more difficult, and the great names of the antagonists, Homer and Hesiod, whose excellence was so well known, made the umpires timorous and shy to determine; they therefore betook themselves to these sorts of questions, and Homer, says Lesches, propounded this riddle: —

  • Tell me, O Muse, what never was
  • And never yet shall be.

Hesiod answered readily and extempore in this wise: —

  • When steeds with sounding hoof, to win
  • The prize, shall run amain;
  • And at the tomb of mighty Jove
  • Their chariots break in twain.

For this reply he was infinitely commended and won the tripod. Pray tell me, quoth Cleodemus, what difference there is between these riddles and those of Eumetis, which she frames and invents to recreate herself with as much pleasure as other virgins make nets and girdles? They may be fit to offer and puzzle women withal; but for men to beat their brains to find out their mystery would be mighty ridiculous. Eumetis looked like one that had a great mind to reply; but her modesty would not permit her, for her face was filled with blushes. But Esop in her vindication asked: Is it not much more ridiculous that Edition: current; Page: [20] all present cannot resolve the riddle she propounded to us before supper? This was as follows: —

  • A man I saw, who by his fire
  • Did set a piece of brass
  • Fast to a man, so that it seemed
  • To him it welded was.

Can you tell me, said he, how to construe this, and what the sense of it may be? No, said Cleodemus, nor do I care to know what it means. And yet, quoth Esop, no man understands this thing better and practises it more judiciously and successfully than yourself. If you deny it, I have my witnesses ready; for there are your cupping-glasses. Cleodemus laughed outright; for of all the physicians in his time, none used cupping-glasses like him, he being a person that by his frequent and fortunate application thereof brought them first into request in the world.

ModernGreek: 11. Mnesiphilus the Athenian, a friend and favorite of Solon’s, said: O Periander, our discourse, as our wine, ought to be distributed not according to our power or priority, but freely and equally, as in a popular state; for what hath been already discoursed concerning kingdoms and empires signifies little to us who live in a democracy. Wherefore I judge it convenient that every one of you beginning with Solon, should freely and impartially declare his sense of a popular state. The motion pleased all the company; then saith Solon: My friend Mnesiphilus, you heard, together with the rest of this good company, my opinion concerning republics; but since you are willing to hear it again, I hold that city or state happy and most likely to remain democratic, in which those that are not personally injured are yet as forward to question and correct wrongdoers as that person who is more immediately wronged. Bias added, Where all fear the law as they fear a tyrant. Thirdly, Thales said, Where the citizens are neither too rich nor too poor. Fourthly, Anacharsis said, Where, Edition: current; Page: [21] though in all other respects they are equal, yet virtuous men are advanced and vicious persons degraded. Fifthly, Cleobulus said, Where the rulers fear reproof and shame more than the law. Sixthly, Pittacus said, Where bad men are prohibited from ruling, and good men from not ruling. Chilo, pausing a little while, determined that the best and most durable state was where the subject minded the law most and the orators least. Periander concluded with his opinion, that all of them would best approve that democracy which came next and was likest to an arisocracy.

ModernGreek: 12. When they had ended this discourse, I begged they would condescend to direct me how to govern a house; for they were few who had cities and kingdoms to govern, compared with those who had houses and families to manage. Esop laughed and said: I hope you except Anacharsis out of your number; for having no house, he glories because he can be contented with a chariot only, as they say the sun is whirled about from one end of the heavens to the other in his chariot. Therefore, saith Anacharsis, he alone, or he principally, is most free among the Gods, and ever at his own liberty and dispose. He governs all, and is governed and subject to none, but he rides and reigns; and you know not how magnificent and capacious his chariot is; if you did, you would not thus floutingly compare it with our Scythian chariots. For you seem in my apprehension to call these coverings made of wood and mud houses, as if you should call the shell and not the living creature a snail. Therefore you laughed when Solon told you how, when he viewed Croesus’s palace and found it richly and gloriously furnished, he yet could not yield he lived happily until he had tried the inward and invisible state of his mind; for a man’s felicity consists not in the outward and visible favors and blessings of Fortune, but in the inward and unseen perfections and riches of the mind. And you seem to have forgot your own fable of the fox, Edition: current; Page: [22] who, contending with the leopard as to which was beset with more colors and spots, and having referred the matter in controversy to the arbitration of an umpire, desired him to consider not so much the outside as the inside; for, saith he, I have more various and different fetches and tricks in my mind than he has marks or spots in his body. You regard only the handiwork of carpenters and masons and stone-cutters, and call this a house; not what one hath within, his children, his wife, his friends and attendants, with whom if a man lived in an emmet’s bed or a bird’s nest, enjoying in common the ordinary comforts of life, this man may be affirmed to live a happy and a fortunate life.

This is the answer I purpose to return Esop, quoth Anacharsis, and I tender it to Diocles as my share in this discourse; only let the rest give in their opinions, if they please. Solon thought that house most happy where the estate was got without injustice, kept without distrust, and spent without repentance. Bias said, That house is happy where the master does freely and voluntarily at home what the law compels him to do abroad. Thales held that house most happy where the master had most leisure and respite from business. Cleobulus said, That in which the master is more beloved than feared. Pittacus said, That is most happy where superfluities are not required and necessaries are not wanting. Chilo added, That house is most happy where the master rules as a monarch in his kingdom. And he proceeded, When a certain Lacedaemonian desired Lycurgus to establish a democracy in the city, Go you, friend, replied he, and try the experiment first in your own house.

ModernGreek: 13. When they had all given in their opinions upon this point, Eumetis and Melissa withdrew. Then Periander called for a large bowl full of wine, and drank to Chilo; and Chilo likewise drank to Bias. Ardalus then standing up called to Esop, and said: Will you not hand the cup to Edition: current; Page: [23] your friends at this end of the table, when you behold those persons there swilling up all that good liquor, and imparting none to us here, as if the cup were that of Bathycles. But this cup, quoth Esop, is no public cup, it hath stood so long by Solon’s trenchard. Then Pittacus called to Mnesiphilus: Why, saith he, does not Solon drink, but act in contradiction to his own verses? —

  • I love that ruby God, whose blessings flow
  • In tides, to recreate my thirsty maw;
  • Venus I court, the Muses I adore,
  • Who give us wine and pleasures evermore.

Anacharsis subjoined: He fears your severe law, my friend Pittacus, wherein you decreed the drunkard a double punishment. You seem, said Pittacus, a little to fear the penalty, who have adventured heretofore, and now again before my face, to break that law and to demand a crown for the reward of your debauch. Why not, quoth Anacharsis, when there is a reward promised to the hardest drinker? Why should I not demand my reward, having drunk down all my fellows? — or inform me of any other end men drive at in drinking much wine, but to be drunk. Pittacus laughed at this reply, and Esop told them this fable: The wolf seeing a parcel of shepherds in their booth feeding upon a lamb, approaching near them, — What a bustle and noise and uproar would you have made, saith he, if I had but done what you do! Chilo said: Esop hath very justly revenged himself upon us, who awhile ago stopped his mouth; now he observes how we prevented Mnesiphilus’s discourse, when the question was put why Solon did not drink up his wine.

Mnesiphilus then spake to this effect: I know this to be the opinion of Solon, that in every art and faculty, divine and human, the work which is done is more desired than the instrument wherewith it is done, and the end than the means conducing to that end; as, for instance, a weaver Edition: current; Page: [24] thinks a cloak or coat more properly his work than the ordering of his shuttles or the divers motions of his beams. A smith minds the soldering of his irons and the sharpening of the axe more than those little things preparatory to these main matters, as the kindling of the coals and getting ready the stone-dust. Yet farther, a carpenter would justly blame us, if we should affirm it is not his work to build houses or ships but to bore holes or to make mortar; and the Muses would be implacably incensed with him that should say their business is only to make harps, pipes, and such musical instruments, not the institution and correction of manners and the government of those men’s passions who are lovers of singing and masters of music. And agreeably copulation is not the work of Venus, nor is drunkenness that of Bacchus; but love and friendship, affection and familiarity, which are begot and improved by the means of these. Solon terms these works divine, and he professes he loves and now prosecutes them in his declining years as vigorously as ever in his youthful days. That mutual love between man and wife is the work of Venus, the greatness of the pleasure affecting their bodies mixes and melts their very souls; divers others, having little or no acquaintance before, have yet contracted a firm and lasting friendship over a glass of wine, which like fire softened and melted their tempers, and disposed them for a happy union. But in such a company, and of such men as Periander hath invited, there is no need of can and chalice, but the Muses themselves throwing a subject of discourse among you, as it were a sober cup, wherein is contained much of delight and drollery and seriousness too, do hereby provoke, nourish, and increase friendship among you, suffering the can to rest quietly upon the bowl, contrary to the rule which Hesiod* gives for those who have more skill for carousing than for discoursing.

Edition: current; Page: [25]
  • Though all the rest with stated rules we bound,
  • Unmix’d, unmeasured, are thy goblets crown’d:*

for it was the old Greek way, as Homer here tells us, to drink one to another in course and order. So Ajax gave a share of his meat to his next neighbor.

When Mnesiphilus had discoursed after this manner, in comes Chersias the poet, whom Periander had lately pardoned and received into favor upon Chilo’s mediation. Saith Chersias: Does not Jupiter distribute to the Gods their proportion and dividend sparingly and severally, as Agamemnon did to his commanders when his guests drank to one another? If, O Chersias, quoth Cleodemus, as you narrate, certain doves bring him his ambrosia every meal, flying with a world of hardship through the rocks called Planctae (or wandering), can you blame him for his sparingness and frugality and dealing out to his guests by measure?

ModernGreek: 14. I am satisfied, quoth Chersias, and since we are fallen upon our old discourse of housekeeping, which of the company can remember what remains to be said thereof? There remains, if I mistake not, to show what that measure is which may content any man. Cleobulus answered: The law has prescribed a measure for wise men; but as touching fools, I will tell you a story I once heard my mother relate to my brother. On a certain time the moon begged of her mother a coat that would fit her. How can that be done, quoth the mother, for sometimes you are full, sometimes the one-half of you seems lost and perished, sometimes only a pair of horns appear. So, my Chersias, to the desires of a foolish immoderate man no certain measure can be fitted; for, according to the ebbings and flowings of his lust and appetite, and the frequent or seldom casualties that befall him, accordingly his necessities ebb or flow, not unlike Esop’s dog, who, being pinched and ready to starve with cold in winter, was of mind to build Edition: current; Page: [26] himself a house; but when summer came on, he lay all along upon the ground, and stretching himself in the sun thought himself monstrous big, and thought it a needless thing and besides no small piece of work to build him a house proportionable to that bulk and bigness. And do you not observe, O Chersias, continues he, many poor men, — how one while they pinch their bellies, upon what short commons they live, how sparing and niggardly and miserable they are; and another while you may observe the same men as distrustful and covetous withal, as if the plenty of city and country, the riches of king and kingdom were not sufficient to preserve them from want and beggary.

When Chersias had concluded this discourse, Cleodemus began thus: We see you that are wise men possessing these outward goods after an unequal manner. Good sweet sir, answered Cleobulus, the law weaver-like hath distributed to every man a fitting, decent, adequate portion, and in your profession your reason does what the law does here, — when you feed, or diet, or physic your patient, you give not an equal quantity to all, but what you judge to be convenient for each in his circumstances. Ardalus enquires: I pray what law compels our friend and Solon’s host, Epimenides, to abstain from all other victuals, and to content himself with a little composition of his own, which the Greeks call ἄλιμος (hunger-relieving)? This he takes into his mouth and chews, and eats neither dinner nor supper. This instance obliged the whole company to be a little while silent, until Thales in a jesting way replied, that Epimenides did very wisely, for hereby he saved the trouble and charge of grinding and boiling his food, as Pittacus did. I myself sojourning at Lesbos overheard my landlady, as she was very busy at her hand-mill, singing as she used to do at her work, “Grind mill; grind mill; for even Pittacus, the prince of great Mitylene, grinds.”* Quoth Solon Edition: current; Page: [27] Ardalus, I wonder you have not read the law of Epimenides’s frugality in Hesiod’s writings, who prescribes him and others this spare diet; for he was the person that gratified Epimenides with the seeds of this nutriment, when he directed him to enquire how great benefit a man might receive by mallows and asphodel.* Do you believe, said Periander, that Hesiod meant this literally; or rather that, being himself a great admirer of parsimony, he hereby intended to exhort men to use a mean and spare diet, as most healthful and pleasant? For the chewing of mallows is very wholesome, and the stalk of asphodel is very luscious; but this “expeller of hunger and thirst” I take to be rather physic than natural food, consisting of honey and I know not what barbarian cheese, and of many and costly seeds fetched from foreign parts. If to make up this composition so many ingredients were requisite, and so difficult to come by and so expensive, Hesiod might as well have kept his breath to cool his pottage, and never blessed the world with the discovery. And yet I admire how your host, when he went to perform the great purification for the Delians not long since, could overlook the monuments and patterns of the first aliment which the people brought into the temple, — and, among other cheap fruits such as grow of themselves, the mallows and the asphodel; the usefulness and innocency whereof Hesiod seemed in his work to magnify. Not only that, quoth Anacharsis, but he affirms both plants to be great restoratives. You are in the right, quoth Cleodemus; for it is evident Hesiod was no ordinary physician, who could discourse so learnedly and judiciously of diet, of the nature of wines, and of the virtue of waters and baths, and of women, the proper times for procreation, and the site and position of infants in the womb; insomuch, that (as I take it) Esop deserves much more the name of Hesiod’s scholar and disciple than Epimenides, whose great Edition: current; Page: [28] and excellent wisdom the fable of the nightingale and hawk demonstrates. But I would gladly hear Solon’s opinion in this matter; for having sojourned long at Athens and being familiarly acquainted with Epimenides, it is more than probable he might learn of him the grounds upon which he accustomed himself to so spare a diet.

ModernGreek: 15. To what purpose, said Solon, should I trouble him or myself to make enquiry in a matter so plain? For if it be a blessing next to the greatest to need little victuals, then it is the greatest felicity to need none at all. If I may have leave to deliver my opinion, quoth Cleodemus, I must profess myself of a different judgment, especially now we sit at table; for as soon as the meat is taken away, we have removed what belongs to those Gods that are the patrons of friendship and hospitality. As upon the removal of the earth, quoth Thales, there must needs follow an universal confusion of all things, so in forbidding men meat, there must needs follow the dispersion and dissolution of the family, the sacred fire, the cups, the feasts and entertainments, which are the principal and most innocent diversions of mankind; and so all the comforts of society are at end. For to men of business some recreation is necessary, and the preparation and use of victuals conduces much thereunto. Again, to be without victuals would tend to the destruction of husbandry, for want whereof the earth would soon be overgrown with weeds, and through the sloth of men overflowed with waters. And together with this, all arts would fail which are supported and encouraged hereby; nay, more, take away hospitality and the use of victuals, and the worship and honor of the Gods will sink and perish; the sun will have but small and the moon yet smaller reverence, if they afford men only light and heat. And who will build an altar or offer sacrifice to Jupiter Pluvius, or to Ceres the patroness of husbandmen, or to Neptune the preserver of plants and trees? Or how can Edition: current; Page: [29] Bacchus be any longer termed the donor of all good things, if men make no further use of the good things he gives? What shall men sacrifice? What first-fruits shall they offer? In short, the subversion and confusion of the greatest blessings attend this opinion. Promiscuously and indefatigably to pursue all sorts of pleasures I own to be brutish, and to avoid all with a suitable aversion equally blockish; let the mind then freely enjoy such pleasures as are agree able to its nature and temper. But for the body, there is certainly no pleasure more harmless and commendable and fitting than that which springs from a plentiful table, — which is granted by all men; for, placing this in the middle, men converse with one another and share in the provision. As to the pleasures of the bed, men use these in the dark, reputing the use thereof no less shameful and beastly than the total disuse of the pleasures of the table.

Cleodemus having finished this long harangue, I began to this effect. You omit one thing, my friend, how they that decry food decry sleep too, and they that declaim against sleep declaim against dreams in the same breath, and so destroy the primitive and ancient way of divination. Add to this, that our whole life will be of one form and fashion, and our soul enclosed in a body to no purpose; many and those the principal parts thereof are naturally so formed and fashioned as to be organs of nutriment; so the tongue, the teeth, the stomach, and the liver, whereof none are idle, none framed for other use, so that whosoever hath no need of nutriment has no need of his body; that is, in other words, no man hath any need of himself, for every man hath a body of his own. This I have thought fit to offer in vindication of our bellies; if Solon or any other has any thing to object to what I have said, I am willing to hear him.

ModernGreek: 16. Yea, doubtless, replies Solon, or we may be reputed more injudicious than the Egyptians. For when any person Edition: current; Page: [30] dies among them, they open him and show him so dissected to the sun; his guts they throw into the river, to the remaining parts they allow a decent burial, for they think the body now pure and clean; and to speak truly, they are the foulest parts of the body, and like that lower hell crammed with dead carcasses and at the same time flowing with offensive rivers, such as flame with fire and are disturbed with tempests. No live creature feeds upon another living creature, but we first take away their lives, and in that action we do them great wrong; forasmuch as whatsoever is transmuted and turned into another loseth the nature which it had before, and is corrupted that it may become nourishment to the others. Now the very plants have life in them, — that is clear and manifest, for we perceive they grow and spread. But to abstain from eating flesh (as they say Orpheus of old did) is more a pretence than a real avoiding of an injury proceeding from the just use of meat. One way there is, and but one way, whereby a man may avoid offence, namely by being contented with his own, not coveting what belongs to his neighbor. But if a man’s circumstances be such and so hard that he cannot subsist without wronging another man, the fault is God’s, not his. The case being such with some persons, I would fain learn if it be not advisable to destroy, at the same time with injustice, these instruments of injustice, the belly, stomach, and liver, which have no sense of justice or appetite to honesty, and therefore may be fitly compared to your cook’s implements, his knives and his caldrons, or to a baker’s chimney and bins and kneading-tubs. Verily one may observe the souls of some men confined to their bodies, as to a house of correction, barely to do the drudgery and to serve the necessities thereof. It was our own case but even now. While we minded our meat and our bellies, we had neither eyes to see nor ears to hear; but now the table is taken away, we Edition: current; Page: [31] are free to discourse among ourselves and to enjoy one another; and now our bellies are full, we have nothing else to do or care for. And if this condition and state wherein we at present are would last our whole life, we having no wants to fear nor riches to covet (for a desire of superfluities attends a desire of necessaries), would not our lives be much more comfortable and life itself much more desirable?

Yea, but Cleodemus stiffly maintains the necessity of eating and drinking, else we shall want tables and cups, and shall not be able to sacrifice to Ceres and Proserpina. By a parity of reason there is a necessity there should be contentions and wars, that men may have bulwarks and citadels and fortifications by land, fleets and navies abroad at sea, and that having slain hundreds, we may offer sacrifices (called Hecatomphonia) after the Messenian manner. By this reason we shall find men grudging their own health, for (they will say) there will be no need of down or feather beds unless they are sick; and so those healing Gods, and particularly Esculapius, will be vast sufferers, for they will infallibly lose so many fat and rich sacrifices yearly. Nay, the art of chirurgery will perish, and all those ingenious instruments that have been invented for the cure of man will lie by useless and insignificant. And what great difference is there between this and that? For meat is a medicine against hunger, and such as keep a regular diet are said to cure themselves, — I mean such as use meat not for wantonness but of necessity. For it is plain, the prejudices we receive by feeding far surmount the pleasures. And the pleasure of eating fills a very little place in our bodies and very little time. But why should I trouble you or myself with a catalogue of the many vexations which attend that man who is necessitated to provide for a family, and the many difficulties which distract him in his undertaking? For my part, I verily Edition: current; Page: [32] believe Homer had an eye to this very thing, when, to prove the immortality of the Gods, he made use of this very argument, that they were such because they used no victuals;

  • For not the bread of man their life sustains,
  • Nor wine’s inflaming juice supplies their veins;*

intimating meat to be the cause of death as well as the means of sustaining and supporting life. From hence proceed divers fatal distempers caused much more by fulness than by fasting; and to digest what we have eaten proves frequently a harder matter than to provide and procure what we eat. And when we solicitously enquire beforehand what we should do or how we should employ ourselves if we had not such care and business to take up our time, this is as if Danaus’s daughters should trouble their heads to know what they should do if they had no sieves to fill with water. We drudge and toil for necessaries, for want of better and nobler business. As slaves then who have gained their freedom do now and then those drudgeries and discharge those servile employments and offices for their own benefit which they undertook heretofore for their masters’ advantage, so the mind of man, which at present is enslaved to the body and the service thereof, when once it becomes free from this slavery, will take care of itself, and spend its time in contemplation of truth without distraction or disturbance. Such were our discourses upon this head, O Nicarchus.

ModernGreek: 17. And before Solon had fully finished, in came Gorgias, Periander’s brother, who was just returned from Taenarum, whither he had been sent by the advice of the oracle to sacrifice to Neptune and to conduct a deputation. Upon his entrance we welcomed him home; and Periander having among the rest saluted him, Gorgias sat by him upon a bed, and privately whispered something to his brother which we could not hear. Periander by his Edition: current; Page: [33] various gestures and motions discovered different affections; sometimes he seemed sad and melancholic, by and by disturbed and angry; frequently he looked as doubtful and distrustful men use to do; awhile after he lifts up his eyes as is usual with men in a maze. At last recovering himself, saith he, I have a mind to impart to you the contents of this embassy; but I scarce dare do it, remembering Thales’s aphorism, how things impossible or incredible are to be concealed and only things credible and probable are to be related. Bias answered, I crave leave to explain Thales’s saying, We may distrust enemies, even though they speak things credible, and trust friends, even though they relate things incredible; and I suppose by enemies he meant vicious men and foolish, and by friends, wise and good men. Then, brother Gorgias, quoth Periander, I pray relate the whole story particularly.

ModernGreek: 18. Gorgias in obedience to his brother’s command began his story thus: —

When we had fasted now for three days and offered sacrifice upon each of those days, we were all resolved to sit up the third night and spend it in pastime and dancing. The moon shone very bright upon the water, and the sea was exceeding calm and still; this we saw, for we sported ourselves upon the shore. Being thus taken up, all of a sudden we espied a wonderful spectacle off at sea, making with incredible expedition to the adjoining promontory. The violence of the motion made the sea foam again, and the noise was so loud, that the whole company forsook their sport and ran together toward the place, admiring what the matter should be. Before we could make a full discovery of the whole, the motion was so rapid, we perceived divers dolphins, some swimming in a ring or circle, others hastening amain to that part of the shore which was most smooth, and others following after and (as it were) bringing up the rear. In the middle there was a certain Edition: current; Page: [34] heap which we could perceive above the water; but we could not distinctly apprehend what it was, till drawing near the shore we saw all the dolphins flocking together, and having made near the land they safely surrendered their charge, and left out of danger a man breathing and shaking himself. They returned to the promontory, and there seemed to rejoice more than before for this their fortunate undertaking. Divers in the company were affrighted and ran away; myself and a few more took courage, and went on to see and satisfy ourselves what this unusual matter might be; there we found and instantly knew our old acquaintance Arion the musician, who told us his name. He wore that very garment he used when he strove for mastery. We brought him into our tent and found he had received no damage in his passage, save only a little lassitude by the violence of the motion. He told us the whole story of his adventure, — a story incredible to all but such as saw it with their eyes. He told us how, when he had determined to leave Italy, being hastened away by Periander’s letters, he went aboard a Corinthian merchantman then in port and ready to sail; being off at sea with the winds favorable, he observed the seamen bent to ruin him, and the master of the vessel told him as much, and that they purposed to execute their design upon him that very night. In this distress, the poor man (as if inspired by his good Genius) girds about him his heretofore victorious, now his funeral cloak, with a brave resolution to compose and sing his own epitaph, as the swans when they apprehend the approaches of death are reported to do. Being thus habited, he told the seamen he was minded to commit the protection of himself and his fellow-passengers to the providence of the Gods in a Pythian song; then standing upon the poop near the side of the vessel, and having invoked the help and assistance of all the sea Gods, he strikes up briskly and sings to his harp. Before he had half finished his carol, Edition: current; Page: [35] the sun set, and he could discern Peloponnesus before him. The seamen thought it tedious to tarry for the night, wherefore they resolved to murder him immediately, to which purpose they unsheathed their swords. Seeing this, and beholding the master standing with his face covered, he leaped into the sea as far as he could; but before his body sunk he found himself supported by dolphins. At first he was surprised with care and trouble; but by and by, finding himself marching forward with much ease and security, and observing a whole shoal of dolphins flocking about him and joyfully contending which should appear most forward and serviceable in his preservation, and discerning the vessel at a considerable distance behind, he apprehended the nimbleness of his porters; then, and not till then, his fears forsook him, and he professed he was neither so fearful of death nor desirous of life as he was full of ambitious desire to reach the haven of safety, that he might show to all men that he stood in the grace and favor of the Gods, and that he might himself believe more firmly than ever before in their being and goodness. In his passage, as he lifted up his eyes toward heaven, and beheld the stars glittering and twinkling and the moon full and glorious, and the sea calm all about her as she seemed to rise out of it, and yielding him (as it were) a beaten track; he declared, he thought God’s justice had more eyes than one, and that with these many eyes the Gods beheld what was acted here below both by sea and land. With such contemplations he performed his voyage less anxiously, which much abated the tediousness thereof and was a comfort and refreshment to him in his solitude and danger. At last, arriving near the promontory which was both steep and high, and fearing danger in a straight course and direct line, they unanimously veered about, and making to shore with a little compass for security, they delivered Arion to us in safety, so that he plainly perceived and with thanks acknowledged a Providence.

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When Arion had finished this narrative of his escape, I asked him (quoth Gorgias) whither the ship was bound; he told me for Corinth, but it would not be there very suddenly, for when he leaped out of the ship and was carried (as he conceived) about five hundred furlongs, he perceived a calm, which must needs much retard their arrival who were aboard. Gorgias added that, having learned the names of the pilot and master and the colors of the ship, he immediately despatched out ships and soldiers to examine all the ports, all this while keeping Arion concealed, lest the criminals should upon notice of his deliverance escape the pursuit of justice. This action happened very luckily, as if it were directed by the power of the Gods; for as soon as he arrived at Corinth, news was brought him that the same ship was in port, and that his party had seized it and secured all the men, merchants and others. Whereupon Periander commended Gorgias’s discretion and zeal, desiring him to proceed and lose no time, but immediately to clap them in close prison, and to suffer none to come at them to give the least notice of Arion’s miraculous escape.

ModernGreek: 19. Gentlemen, quoth Esop, I remember you derided my dialogue of the daws and crows; and now you can admire and believe as improbable a story of dolphins. You are mightily out, said I, for this is no new story which we believe, but it is recorded in the annals of Ino and Athamas above a thousand years ago. These passages are supernatural, quoth Solon, and much above our reason; what befell Hesiod is of a lower kind, and more proper for our discourse, and if you have not heard of it before, it is worth your hearing.

Hesiod was once entertained at the same house in Locris with a certain Milesian. In this his sojourning time it happened the gentleman’s daughter was got with child by the Milesian; which being discovered, the whole Edition: current; Page: [37] family concluded Hesiod, if not guilty, must be privy to the fact. His innocence was but a weak fence against their jealousy and aspersions; and therefore, rashly censuring him guilty, the brothers of the woman waylaid him in his return home, and slew him and his companion Troilus near the temple of Nemean Jove in Locris. Their carcasses they threw into the sea; that of Troilus was carried into the river Daphnus, and rested upon a certain rock compassed with waters, just above the surface of the sea, which rock bears his name to this day. The body of Hesiod was no sooner fallen upon the surface of the water, but a company of dolphins received it, and conveyed it to Rhium and Molycria. It happened the Locrians were assembled at Rhium that day to feast and make merry, according to the custom which continues still among them. As soon as they perceived a carcass floating or rather swimming towards them, they hastened, not without admiration, to see what it was; and knowing the body to be Hesiod’s, they instantly resolved to find out the murderers. It proved an easy discovery. After conviction they threw them headlong alive into the sea, and ordered their houses to be demolished to the very foundations. The body they buried in the grove of the temple of Jove, that no foreigner might find it out; the reason of this act was that the Orchomenians had searched far and near for it at the instigation of the oracle, who promised them the greatest felicity if they could get the bones of Hesiod and bury them in their city. Now if dolphins are so favorable to dead men, it is very probable they have a strong affection for the living, especially for such as delight in music, whether vocal or instrumental. And this we know undoubtedly, that these creatures delight infinitely in music; they love it, and if any man sings or plays as he sails along in fair weather, they will quietly swim by the side of the ship, and listen till the Edition: current; Page: [38] music is ended. When children bathe in the water and sport themselves, you shall have a parcel of them flock together and sport and swim by them; and they may do it the more securely, since it is a breach of the law of Nature to hurt them. You never heard of any man that fishes for them purposely or hurts them wilfully, unless falling into the nets they spoil the sport, and so, like naughty children, are corrected for their misdemeanors. I very well remember the Lesbians told me how a maid of their town was preserved from drowning by them.

ModernGreek: 20. It was a very true story, quoth Pittacus, and there are divers still alive who will attest it, if need be The builders or founders of Lesbos were commanded by the oracle to sail till they came to a haven called Mesogaeum, there they should sacrifice a bull to Neptune, and for the honor of Amphitrite and the sea-nymphs they should offer a virgin. The principal persons in this colony were seven in number; the eighth was one Echelaus by name, and appointed head of the rest by the oracle himself; and he was a bachelor. A daughter of one of these seven was to be sacrificed, but who it should be was to be decided by lot, and the lot fell upon Smintheus’s sister. Her they dressed most richly, and so apparelled they conveyed her in abundance of state to the water-side, and having composed a prayer for her, they were now ready to throw her overboard. There was in the company a certain ingenuous young gentleman whose name was Enalus; he was desperately in love with this young lady, and his love prompted him to endeavor all he could for her preservation, or at least to perish in the attempt. In the very moment she was to be cast away, he clasps her in his arms and throws himself and her together into the sea. Shortly after there was a flying report they were both conveyed safe to land. A while after Enalus was seen at Lesbos, who gave out they were preserved by dolphins. I could tell you stories Edition: current; Page: [39] more incredible than these, such as would amuse some and please others; but it is impossible to command men’s faith. The sea was so tempestuous and rough, the people were afraid to come too near the waters, when Enalus arrived. A number of polypuses followed him even to Neptune’s temple, the biggest and strongest of which carried a great stone. This Enalus dedicated, and this stone is therefore called Enalus to this day. To be short and to speak all in a few words, — he that knows how to distinguish between the impossible and the unusual, to make a difference between the unlikely and the absurd, to be neither too credulous nor too distrustful, — he hath learned your lesson, Do not overdo.*

ModernGreek: 21. Anacharsis after all this discourse spake to this purpose: Since Thales has asserted the being of a soul in all the principal and most noble parts of the universe, it is no wonder that the most commendable acts are governed by an over-ruling Power; for, as the body is the organ of the soul, so the soul is an instrument in the hand of God. Now as the body has many motions of its own proceeding from itself, but the best and most from the soul, so the soul acts some things by its own power, but in most things it is subordinate to the will and power of God, whose glorious instrument it is. To me it seems highly unreasonable — and I should be but too apt to censure the wisdom of the Gods, if I were convinced — that they use fire, and water, and wind, and clouds, and rain for the preservation and welfare of some and for the detriment and destruction of others, while at the same time they make no use of living creatures that are doubtless more serviceable to their ends than bows are to the Scythians or harps or pipes to the Greeks.

Chersias the poet broke off this discourse, and told the company of divers that were miraculously preserved to his Edition: current; Page: [40] certain knowledge, and more particularly of Cypselus, Periander’s father, who being newly born, his adversary sent a party of bloody fellows to murder him. They found the child in his nurse’s arms, and seeing him smile innocently upon them, they had not the heart to hurt him, and so departed; but presently recalling themselves and considering the peremptoriness of their orders, they returned and searched for him, but could not find him, for his mother had hid him very carefully in a chest.* When he came to years of discretion, and understood the greatness of his former danger and deliverance, he consecrated a chapel at Delphi to Apollo, by whose care he conceived himself preserved from crying in that critical time, and by his cries from betraying his own life. Pittacus, addressing his discourse to Periander, said: It is well done of Chersias to make mention of that chapel, for this brings to my mind a question I several times purposed to ask you but still forgot, namely, — To what intent all those frogs were carved upon the palm-tree before the door, and how they affect either the Deity or the dedicator? Periander remitted him to Chersias for answer, as a person better versed in these matters, for he was present when Cypselus consecrated the chapel. But Chersias smiling would not satisfy them, until they resolved him the meaning of these aphorisms; “Do not overdo,” “Know thyself,” but particularly and principally this, — which had scared divers from wedlock and others from suretyship and others from speaking at all, — “Promise, and you are ruined.” What need we to explain to you these, when you yourself have so mightily magnified Esop’s comment upon each of them. Esop replied: When Chersias is disposed to jest with me upon these subjects, and to jest in earnest, he is pleased to father such sayings and sentences upon Homer, who, bringing in Hector furiously flying upon others, yet at another time represents him as flying Edition: current; Page: [41] from Ajax son of Telamon,* — an argument that Hector knew himself. And Homer made Ulysses approve the saying “Do not overdo,” when he besought his friend Diomedes not to commend him too much nor yet to censure him too much. And for suretyship he exposes it as a matter unsafe, nay highly dangerous, saying that to be bound for idle and wicked men is full of hazard. To confirm this, Chersias reported how Jupiter had thrown Ate headlong out of heaven, because she was by when he made the promise about the birth of Hercules whereby he was circumvented.

Here Solon interrupted: I am of this mind, that we now give ear to the most wise Homer, —

  • But now the night extends her awful shade:
  • The Goddess parts you: be the night obeyed.

If it please the company then, let us sacrifice to the Muses, to Neptune, and to Amphitrite, and so bid each adieu for this night.

This was the conclusion of that meeting, my dear Nicarchus.

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ModernGreek: 1. It may be allowed to be a question fit for the determination of those concerning whom Cato said, Their palates are more sensitive than their hearts, whether that saying of Philoxenus the poet be true or no, The most savory flesh is that which is no flesh, and fish that is no fish. Yet this to me, Marcus Sedatus, is out of question, that those precepts of philosophy which seem not to be delivered with a designed gravity, such as becomes philosophers, take most with persons that are very young, and meet with a more ready acceptance and compliance from them. Whence it is that they do not only read through Esop’s fables and the fictions of poets and the Abaris of Heraclides and Ariston’s Lyco; but they also read such doctrines as relate to the souls of men, if something fabulous be mixed with them, with an excess of pleasure that borders on enthusiasm. Wherefore we are not only to govern their appetites in the delights of eating and drinking, but also (and much more) to inure them to a like temperance in reading and hearing, that, while they make use of pleasure as a sauce, they may pursue that which is wholesome and profitable in those things which they read. For neither can a city be secure if but one gate be left open to receive the enemy, though all the rest be shut; nor a young man safe, though he be sufficiently fortified against the assaults of all other pleasures, whilst he is without any guard against those of the ear. Yea, the nearer the commerce is betwixt Edition: current; Page: [43] the delights of that sense and those of the mind and reason, by so much the more, when he lies open on that side, is he apt to be debauched and corrupted thereby. Seeing therefore we cannot (and perhaps would not if we could) debar young men of the size of my Soclarus and thy Cleander altogether from the reading of poets, yet let us keep the stricter guard upon them, as those who need a guide to direct them in their reading more than in their walks. Upon which consideration, I find myself disposed to send thee at present in writing that discourse concerning Poetry which I had lately an occasion to deliver by word of mouth; that, when thou hast read it over thyself, thou mayst also make such use of it, if thou judgest it may be serviceable to that purpose, as those which are engaged to drink hard do of amethysts (or preservatives against drunkenness), — that is, that thou mayst communicate it to Cleander, to prepossess him therewith; seeing he is naturally endowed with a brisk, piercing, and daring wit, and therefore more prone to be inveigled by that sort of study.

They say of the fish called polypus that

  • His head in one respect is very good,
  • But in another very naughty food;

because, though it be very luscious to eat, yet it is thought to disturb the fancy with frightful and confused dreams. And the like observation may be made concerning poetry, that it affords sweet and withal wholesome nourishment to the minds of young men, but yet it contains likewise no less matter of disturbance and emotion to them that want a right conduct in the study thereof. For of it also, as well as of Egypt, may it be said that (to those who will use it)

  • Its over-fertile and luxuriant field
  • Medicines and poisons intermixt doth yield;

for therein

  • Love with soft passions and rich language drest
  • Oft steals the heart out of th’ ingenuous breast.*
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And indeed such only are endangered thereby, for the charms of that art ordinarily affect not those that are downright sots and naturally incapable of learning. Wherefore, when Simonides was asked why of all men he could not deceive the Thessalians, his answer was, Because they are not so well bred as to be capable of being cajoled by me. And Gorgias used to call tragical poems cheats, wherein he that did cheat was juster than he that did not cheat, and he that was cheated was wiser than he that was not cheated.

It deserves therefore our consideration, whether we shall put young men into Epicurus’s boat, — wherein, having their ears stopped with wax, as those of the men of Ithaca were, they shall be obliged to sail by and not so much as touch at poetry, — or rather keep a guard on them, so as to oblige their judgments by principles of right reason to use it aright, and preserve them from being seduced to their hurt by that which affords them so much delight. For neither did Lycurgus, the valiant son of Dryas (as Homer* calls him) act like a man of sound reason in the course which he took to reform his people that were much inclined to drunkenness, by travelling up and down to destroy all the vines in the country; whereas he should have ordered that every vine should have a well of water near it, that (as Plato saith) the drunken deity might be reduced to temperance by a sober one. For water mixed with wine takes away the hurtful spirits, while it leaves the useful ones in it. Neither should we cut down or destroy the Muses’ vine, poetry; but where we perceive it luxuriates and grows wild through an ungoverned appetite of applause, there ought we to prune away or keep under the fabulous and theatrical branches thereof; and where we find any of the Graces linked to any of the Muses, — that is, where the lusciousness and tempting charms of language Edition: current; Page: [45] are not altogether barren and unprofitable, — there let us bring in philosophy to incorporate with it.

For as, where the mandrake grows near the vine and so communicates something of its force thereto, the wine that is made of its grapes makes the sleep of those that drink it more refreshing; so doth the tempering poetry with the principles of philosophy and allaying their roughness with its fictions render the study of them more easy and the relish of them more grateful to young learners. Wherefore those that would give their minds to philosophical studies are not obliged to avoid poetry altogether, but rather to prepare themselves for philosophy by poems, accustoming themselves to search for and embrace that which may profit in that which pleaseth them, and rejecting and discarding that wherein they find nothing of this nature. For this discrimination is the first step to learning; and when this is attained, then, according to what Sophocles saith, —

  • To have begun well what we do intend
  • Gives hope and prospect of as good an end.

ModernGreek: 2. Let us therefore in the first place possess those whom we initiate in the study of poetry with this notion (as one which they ought always to have at hand), that

  • ’Tis frequently the poet’s guise
  • To intermingle truth with lies; —

which they do sometimes with and sometimes against their wills. They do it with their wills, because they find strict truth too rigid to comply with that sweetness and gracefulness of expression, which most are taken with, so readily as fiction doth. For real truth, though it disgust never so much, must be told as it is, without alteration; but that which is feigned in a discourse can easily yield and shift its garb from the distasteful to that which is more pleasing. And indeed, neither the measures nor the tropes nor the grandeur of words nor the aptness of metaphors Edition: current; Page: [46] nor the harmony of the composition gives such a degree of elegance and gracefulness to a poem as a well-ordered and artificial fiction doth. But as in pictures the colors are more delightful to the eye than the lines, because those give them a nearer resemblance to the persons they were made for, and render them the more apt to deceive the beholder; so in poems we are more apt to be smitten and fall in love with a probable fiction than with the greatest accuracy that can be observed in measures and phrases, where there is nothing fabulous or fictitious joined with it. Wherefore Socrates, being induced by some dreams to attempt something in poetry, and finding himself unapt, by reason that he had all his lifetime been the champion of severe truth, to hammer out of his own invention a likely fiction, made choice of Esop’s fables to turn into verse; as judging nothing to be true poetry that had in it nothing of falsehood. For though we have known some sacrifices performed without pipes and dances, yet we own no poetry which is utterly destitute of fable and fiction. Whence the verses of Empedocles and Parmenides, the Theriaca of Nicander, and the sentences of Theognis, are rather to be accounted speeches than poems, which, that they might not walk contemptibly on foot, have borrowed from poetry the chariot of verse, to convey them the more creditably through the world. Whensoever therefore any thing is spoken in poems by any noted and eminently famous man, concerning Gods or Daemons or virtue, that is absurd or harsh, he that takes such sayings for truths is thereby misled in his apprehension and corrupted with an erroneous opinion. But he that constantly keeps in his mind and maintains as his principle that the witchcraft of poetry consists in fiction, he that can at all turns accost it in this language, —

  • Riddle of art! like which no sphinx beguiles;
  • Whose face on one side frowns while th’ other smiles!
  • Why cheat’st thou, with pretence to make us wise,
  • And bid’st sage precepts in a fool’s disguise? —
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such a one, I say, will take no harm by it, nor admit from it any absurd thing into his belief. But when he meets in poetry with expressions of Neptune’s rending the earth to pieces and discovering the infernal regions,* he will be able to check his fears of the reality of any such accident; and he will rebuke himself for his anger against Apollo for the chief commander of the Greeks, —

  • Whom at a banquet, whiles he sings his praise
  • And speaks him fair, yet treacherously he slays.

Yea, he will repress his tears for Achilles and Agamemnon, while they are represented as mourning after their death, and stretching forth their limber and feeble hands to express their desire to live again. And if at any time the charms of poetry transport him into any disquieting passions, he will quickly say to himself, as Homer very elegantly (considering the propension of women to listen after fables) says in his Necyia, or relation of the state of the dead, —

  • But from the dark dominions speed thy way,
  • And climb the steep ascent to upper day;
  • To thy chaste bride the wondrous story tell,
  • The woes, the horrors, and the laws of hell.

Such things as I have touched upon are those which the poets willingly feign. But more there are which they do not feign, but believing them themselves as their own proper judgments, they put fictitious colors upon them to ingratiate them to us. As when Homer says of Jupiter, —

  • Jove lifts the golden balances, that show
  • The fates of mortal men, and things below.
  • Here each contending hero’s lot he tries,
  • And weighs with equal hand their destinies.
  • Low sinks the scale surcharged with Hector’s fate;
  • Heavy with death it sinks, and hell receives the weight.§

To this fable Aeschylus hath accommodated a whole tragedy Edition: current; Page: [48] which he calls Psychostasia, wherein he introduceth Thetis and Aurora standing by Jupiter’s balances, and deprecating each of them the death of her son engaged in a duel. Now there is no man but sees that this fable is a creature of the poet’s fancy, designed to delight or scare the reader. But this other passage, —

Great Jove is made the treasurer of wars;*

and this other also, —

  • When a God means a noble house to raze,
  • He frames one rather than he’ll want a cause:

these passages, I say, express the judgment and belief of poets who thereby discover and suggest to us the ignorant or mistaken apprehensions they had of the Deities. Moreover, almost every one knows nowadays, that the porten tous fancies and contrivances of stories concerning the state of the dead are accommodated to popular apprehensions, — that the spectres and phantasms of burning rivers and horrid regions and terrible tortures expressed by frightful names are all mixed with fable and fiction, as poison with food; and that neither Homer nor Pindar nor Sophocles ever believed themselves when they wrote at this rate: —

  • There endless floods of shady darkness stream
  • From the vast caves, where mother Night doth teem;


  • There ghosts o’er the vast ocean’s waves did glide,
  • By the Leucadian promontory’s side;


  • There from th’ unfathomed gulf th’ infernal lake
  • Through narrow straits recurring tides doth make.

And yet, as many of them as deplore death as a lamentable thing, or the want of burial after death as a calamitous condition, are wont to break out into expressions of this nature: —

  • O pass not by, my friend; nor leave me here
  • Without a grave, and on that grave a tear;§
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  • Then to the ghosts the mournful soul did fly,
  • Sore grieved in midst of youth and strength to die;*

and again,

  • ’Tis sweet to see the light. O spare me then,
  • Till I arrive at th’ usual age of men:
  • Nor force my unfledged soul from hence, to know
  • The doleful state of dismal shades below.

These, I say, are the speeches of men persuaded of these things, as being possessed by erroneous opinions; and therefore they touch us the more nearly and torment us inwardly, because we ourselves are full of the same impotent passion from which they were uttered. To fortify us therefore against expressions of this nature, let this principle continually ring in our ears, that poetry is not at all solicitous to keep to the strict measure of truth. And indeed, as to what that truth in these matters is, even those men themselves who make it their only study to learn and search it out confess that they can hardly discover any certain footsteps to guide them in that enquiry. Let us therefore have these verses of Empedocles, in this case, at hand: —

  • No sight of man’s so clear, no ear so quick,
  • No mind so piercing, that’s not here to seek;

as also those of Xenophanes: —

  • The truth about the Gods and world, no man
  • E’er was or shall be that determine can;

and lastly, that passage concerning Socrates, in Plato, where he by the solemnity of an oath disclaims all knowledge of those things. For those who perceive that the searching into such matters makes the heads of philosophers themselves giddy cannot but be the less inclined to regard what poets say concerning them.

ModernGreek: 3. And we shall fix our young man yet the more if, when we enter him in the poets, we first describe poetry Edition: current; Page: [50] to him, and tell him that it is an imitating art and doth in many respects correspond to painting; not only acquainting him with that common saying, that poetry is vocal painting and painting silent poetry, but teaching him, moreover, that when we see a lizard or an ape or the face of a Thersites in a picture, we are surprised with pleasure and wonder at it, not because of any beauty in the things, but for the likeness of the draught. For it is repugnant to the nature of that which is itself foul to be at the same time fair; and therefore it is the imitation — be the thing imitated beautiful or ugly — that, in case it do express it to the life, is commended; and on the contrary, if the imitation make a foul thing to appear fair, it is dispraised because it observes not decency and likeness. Now some painters there are that paint uncomely actions; as Timotheus drew Medea killing her children; Theon, Orestes murdering his mother; and Parrhasius, Ulysses counterfeiting madness; yea, Chaerephanes expressed in picture the unchaste converse of women with men. Now in such cases a young man is to be familiarly acquainted with this notion, that, when men praise such pictures, they praise not the actions represented but only the painter’s art, which doth so lively express what was designed in them. Wherefore, in like manner, seeing poetry many times describes by imitation foul actions and unseemly passions and manners, the young student must not in such descriptions (although performed never so artificially and commendably) believe all that is said as true or embrace it as good, but give its due commendation so far only as it suits the subject treated of. For as, when we hear the grunting of hogs and the shrieking of pulleys and the rustling of wind and the roaring of seas, we are, it may be, disturbed and displeased, and yet when we hear any one imitating these or the like noises handsomely (as Parmenio did that of an hog, and Theodorus that of a pulley), we are well Edition: current; Page: [51] pleased; and as we avoid (as an unpleasing spectacle) the sight of sick persons and of a lazar full of ulcers, and yet are delighted to be spectators of the Philoctetes of Aristophon and the Jocasta of Silanion, wherein such wasting and dying persons are well acted; so must the young scholar, when he reads in a poem of Thersites the buffoon or Sisyphus the whoremaster or Batrachus the bawd speaking or doing any thing, so praise the artificial managery of the poet, adapting the expressions to the persons, as withal to look on the discourses and actions so expressed as odious and abominable. For the goodness of things themselves differs much from the goodness of the imitation of them; the goodness of the latter consisting only in propriety and aptness to represent the former. Whence to foul actions foul expressions are most suitable and proper. As the shoes of Demonides the cripple (which, when he had lost them, he wished might suit the feet of him that stole them) were but unhandsome shoes, but yet fit for the man they were made for; so we may say of such expressions as these: —

  • ’Tis worth the while an unjust act to own,
  • When it sets him that does it on a throne;*
  • Get the repute of Just for a disguise,
  • And in it do all things whence gain may rise;
  • A talent dowry! Could I close my eyes
  • In sleep, or live, if thee I should despise?
  • And should I not in hell tormented be,
  • Could I be guilty of profaning thee?

These, it is true, are wicked as well as false speeches, but yet are decent enough in the mouth of an Eteocles, an lxion, and an old griping usurer. If therefore we mind our children that the poets write not such things as praising and approving them, but do really account them base and vicious and therefore accommodate such speeches to Edition: current; Page: [52] base and vicious persons, they will never be damnified by them from the esteem they have of the poets in whom they meet with them. But, on the contrary, the suspicions insinuated into them of the persons will render the words and actions ascribed to them suspected for evil, because proceeding from such evil men. And of this nature is Homer’s representation of Paris, when he describes him running out of the battle into Helen’s bed. For in that he attributes no such indecent act to any other, but only to that incontinent and adulterous person, he evidently declares that he intends that relation to import a disgrace and reproach to such intemperance.

ModernGreek: 4. In such passages therefore we are carefully to observe whether or not the poet himself do anywhere give any intimation that he dislikes the things he makes such persons say; which, in the prologue to his Thais Menander does, in these words: —

  • Therefore, my Muse, describe me now a whore,
  • Fair, bold, and furnished with a nimble tongue;
  • One that ne’er scruples to do lovers wrong;
  • That always craves, and denied shuts her door;
  • That truly loves no man, yet, for her ends,
  • Affection true to every man pretends.

But Homer of all the poets does it best. For he doth beforehand, as it were, bespeak dislike of the evil things and approbation of the good things he utters. Of the latter take these instances: —

  • He readily did the occasion take,
  • And sweet and comfortable words he spake;*
  • By him he stood, and with soft speeches quelled
  • The wrath which in his heated bosom swelled.

And for the former, he so performs it as in a manner solemnly to forbid us to use or heed such speeches as those he mentions, as being foolish and wicked. For example, being to tell us how uncivilly Agamemnon treated the priest, he premises these words of his own, —

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  • Not so Atrides: he with kingly pride
  • Repulsed the sacred sire, and thus replied;*

intimating the insolency and unbecomingness of his answer. And when he attributes this passionate speech to Achilles, —

  • O monster, mix’d of insolence and fear,
  • Thou dog in forehead, and in heart a deer!

he accompanies it with this censure, —

  • Nor yet the rage his boiling breast forsook,
  • Which thus redoubling on Atrides broke;

for it was unlikely that speaking in such anger he should observe any rules of decency.

And he passeth like censures on actions. As on Achilles’s foul usage of Hector’s carcass, —

  • Gloomy he said, and (horrible to view)
  • Before the bier the bleeding Hector threw.§

And in like manner he doth very decently shut up relations of things said or done, by adding some sentence wherein he declares his judgment of them. As when he personates some of the Gods saying, on the occasion of the adultery of Mars and Venus discovered by Vulcan’s artifice, —

  • See the swift God o’ertaken by the lame!
  • Thus ill acts prosper not, but end in shame.

And thus concerning Hecter’s insolent boasting he says, —

  • With such big words his mind proud Hector eased,
  • But venerable Juno he displeased.

And when he speaks of Pandarus’s shooting, he adds, —

  • He heard, and madly at the motion pleased,
  • His polish’d bow with hasty rashness seized.††

Now these verbal intimations of the minds and judgments of poets are not difficult to be understood by any one that will heedfully observe them. But besides these, they give Edition: current; Page: [54] us other hints from actions. As Euripides is reported, when some blamed him for bringing such an impious and flagitious villain as Ixion upon the stage, to have given this answer: But yet I brought him not off till I had fastened him to a torturing wheel. This same way of teaching by mute actions is to be found in Homer also, affording us useful contemplations upon those very fables which are usually most disliked in him. These some men offer force to, that they may reduce them to allegories (which the ancients called ὑπόνοιαι), and tell us that Venus committing adultery with Mars, discovered by the Sun, is to be understood thus: that when the star called Venus is in conjunction with that which hath the name of Mars, bastardly births are produced, and by the Sun’s rising and discovering them they are not concealed. So will they have Juno’s dressing herself so accurately to tempt Jupiter, and her making use of the girdle of Venus to inflame his love, to be nothing else but the purification of that part of the air which draweth nearest to the nature of fire. As if we were not told the meaning of those fables far better by the poet himself. For he teacheth us in that of Venus, if we heed it, that light music and wanton songs and discourses which suggest to men obscene fancies debauch their manners, and incline them to an unmanly way of living in luxury and wantonness, of continually haunting the company of women, and of being

  • Given to fashions, that their garb may please,
  • Hot baths, and couches where they loll at ease.

And therefore also he brings in Ulysses directing the musician thus, —

  • Leave this, and sing the horse, out of whose womb
  • The gallant knights that conquered Troy did come;*

evidently teaching us that poets and musicians ought to receive the arguments of their songs from sober and understanding Edition: current; Page: [55] men. And in the other fable of Juno he excellently shows that the conversation of women with men. and the favors they receive from them procured by sorcery, witchcraft, or other unlawful arts, are not only short, unstable, and soon cloying, but also in the issue easily turned to loathing and displeasure, when once the pleasure is over. For so Jupiter there threatens Juno, when he tells her, —

  • Hear this, remember, and our fury dread,
  • Nor pull the unwilling vengeance on thy head;
  • Lest arts and blandishments successless prove
  • Thy soft deceits and well dissembled love.*

For the fiction and representation of evil acts, when it withal acquaints us with the shame and damage befalling the doers, hurts not but rather profits him that reads them. For which end philosophers make use of examples for our instruction and correction out of historical collections; and poets do the very same thing, but with this difference, that they invent fabulous examples themselves. There was one Melanthius, who (whether in jest or earnest he said it, it matters not much) affirmed that the city of Athens owed its preservation to the dissensions and factions that were among the orators, giving withal this reason for his assertion, that thereby they were kept from inclining all of them to one side, so that by means of the differences among those statesmen there were always some that drew the saw the right way for the defeating of destructive counsels. And thus it is too in the contradictions among poets, which, by lessening the credit of what they say, render them the less powerful to do mischief; and therefore, when comparing one saying with another we discover their contrariety, we ought to adhere to the better side. As in these instances: —

  • The Gods, my son, deceive poor men oft-times.
  • Ans. ’Tis easy, sir, on God to lay our crimes.
  • Edition: current; Page: [56]
  • ’Tis comfort to thee to be rich, is’t not!
  • Ans. No, sir, ’tis bad to be a wealthy sot.
  • Die rather than such toilsome pains to take.
  • Ans. To call God’s service toil’s a foul mistake.

Such contrarieties as these are easily solved, if (as I said) we teach youth to judge aright and to give the better saying preference. But if we chance to meet with any absurd passages without any others at their heels to confute them, we are then to overthrow them with such others as elsewhere are to be found in the author. Nor must we be offended with the poet or grieved at him, but only at the speeches themselves, which he utters either according to the vulgar manner of speaking or, it may be, but in drollery. So, when thou readest in Homer of Gods thrown out of heaven headlong one by another, or Gods wounded by men and quarrelling and brawling with each other, thou mayest readily, if thou wilt, say to him, —

  • Sure thy invention here was sorely out,
  • Or thou hadst said far better things, no doubt;*

yea, and thou dost so elsewhere, and according as thou thinkest, to wit, in these passages of thine: —

  • The Gods, removed from all that men doth grieve,
  • A quiet and contented life do live.
  • Herein the immortal Gods for ever blest
  • Feel endless joys and undisturbed rest.
  • The Gods, who have themselves no cause to grieve,
  • For wretched man a web of sorrow weave.

For these argue sound and true opinions of the Gods; but those other were only feigned to raise passions in men. Again, when Euripides speaks at this rate, —

  • The Gods are better than we men by far,
  • And yet by them we oft deceived are, —

we may do well to quote him elsewhere against himself, where he says better, —

If Gods do wrong, surely no Gods there are.

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So also, when Pindar saith bitterly and keenly,

  • No law forbids us any thing to do,
  • Whereby a mischief may befall a foe,

tell him: But, Pindar, thou thyself sayest elsewhere.

  • The pleasure which injurious acts attends
  • Always in bitter consequences ends.

And when Sophocles speaks thus,

  • Sweet is the gain, wherein to lie and cheat
  • Adds the repute of wit to what we get,

tell him: But we have heard thee say far otherwise,

  • When the account’s cast up, the gain’s but poor
  • Which by a lying tongue augments the store.

And as to what he saith of riches, to wit:

  • Wealth, where it minds to go, meets with no stay;
  • For where it finds not, it can make a way;
  • Many fair offers doth the poor let go,
  • And lose his prize because his purse is low;
  • The fair tongue makes, where wealth can purchase it,
  • The foul face beautiful, the fool a wit: —

here the reader may set in opposition divers other sayings of the same author. For example,

  • From honor poverty doth not debar,
  • Where poor men virtuous and deserving are.
  • Whate’er fools think, a man is ne’er the worse
  • If he be wise, though with an empty purse.
  • The comfort which he gets who wealth enjoys,
  • The vexing care by which ’tis kept destroys.

And Menander also somewhere magnifies a voluptuous life, and inflames the minds of vain persons with these amorous strains,

  • The glorious sun no living thing doth see,
  • But what’s a slave to love as well as we.

But yet elsewhere, on the other side, he fastens on us and pulls us back to the love of virtue, and checks the rage of lust, when he says thus,

  • The life that is dishonorably spent,
  • Be it ne’er so pleasant, yields no true content.
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For these lines are contrary to the former, as they are also better and more profitable; so that by comparing them considerately one cannot but either be inclined to the better side, or at least flag in the belief of the worse.

But now, supposing that any of the poets themselves afford no such correcting passages to solve what they have said amiss, it will then be advisable to confront them with the contrary sayings of other famous men, and therewith to sway the scales of our judgment to the better side. As, when Alexis tempts to debauchery in these verses,

  • The wise man knows what of all things is best,
  • Whilst choosing pleasure he slights all the rest.
  • He thinks life’s joys complete in these three sorts,
  • To drink and eat, and follow wanton sports;
  • And what besides seems to pretend to pleasure,
  • If it betide him, counts it over measure,

we must remember that Socrates said the contrary, to wit: Bad men live that they may eat and drink, whereas good men eat and drink that they may live. And against the man that wrote in this manner,

  • He that designs to encounter with a knave,
  • An equal stock of knavery must have,

seeing he herein advises us to follow other vicious examples, that of Diogenes may well be returned, who being asked by what means a man might revenge himself upon his enemy, answered, By becoming himself a good and honest man. And the same Diogenes may be quoted also against Sophocles, who, writing thus of the sacred mysteries, caused great grief and despair to multitudes of men:

  • Most happy they whose eyes are blest to see
  • The mysteries which here contained be,
  • Before they die! For only they have joy
  • In th’ other world; the rest all ills annoy.

This passage being read to Diogenes, What then! says he, shall the condition of Pataecion, the notorious robber, after death be better than that of Epaminondas, merely for Edition: current; Page: [59] his being initiated in these mysteries? In like manner, when one Timotheus on the theatre, in the praise of the Goddess Diana, called her furious, raging, possessed, mad, Cinesias presently cried out to him aloud, May thy daughter, Timotheus, be such a Goddess! And witty also was that of Bion to Theognis, who said, —

  • One can not say nor do, if poor he be;
  • His tongue is bound to th’ peace, as well as he.*

How comes it to pass then, said he, Theognis, that thou thyself being so poor pratest and gratest our ears in this manner?

ModernGreek: 5. Nor are we to omit in our reading those hints which, from some other words or phrases bordering on those that offend us, may help to rectify our apprehensions. But as physicians use cantharides, believing that, though their bodies be deadly poison, yet their feet and wings are medicinal and can even kill the poison of the flies themselves, so must we deal with poems. If any noun or verb near at hand may assist to the correction of any such saying, and preserve us from putting a bad construction upon it, we should take hold of it and employ it to assist a more favorable interpretation. As some do in reference to those verses of Homer, —

  • Sorrows and tears most commonly are seen
  • To be the Gods’ rewards to wretched men: —
  • The Gods, who have no cause themselves to grieve,
  • For wretched man a web of sorrow weave.

For, they say, he says not of men simply, or of all men, that the Gods weave for them the fatal web of a sorrowful life; but he affirms it only of foolish and imprudent men, whom, because their vices make them such, he therefore calls wretched and miserable.

ModernGreek: 6. Another way whereby those passages which are suspicious in poets may be transferred to a better sense may Edition: current; Page: [60] be taken from the common use of words, which a young man ought indeed to be more exercised in than in the use of strange and obscure terms. For it will be a point of philology which it will not be unpleasant to him to understand, that when he meets with [Editor: illegible character]ιγεδανή in a poet, that word signifies an evil death; for the Macedonians use the word δάνος to signify death. So the Aeolians call victory gotten by patient endurance of hardships ϰαμμονίη; and the Dryopians call daemons πόποι.

But of all things it is most necessary, and no less profitable if we design to receive profit and not hurt from the poets, that we understand how they make use of the names of Gods, as also of the terms of Evil and Good; and what they mean by Fortune and Fate; and whether these words be always taken by them in one and the same sense or rather in various senses, as also many other words are. For so the word οἰ̂ϰος sometimes signifies a material house, as, Into the high-roofed house; and sometimes estate, as, My house is devoured. So the word βίοτος sometimes signifies life, and sometimes wealth. And ἀλύειν is sometimes taken for being uneasy and disquieted in mind, as in

[Editor: illegible character]ς ἔϕαθ’· ἡ δ’ ἀλύουσ’ ἀπεβήσατο, τείρετο δ’ αἰνῶς,*

and elsewhere for boasting and rejoicing, as in

Ἢ ἀλύεις, [Editor: illegible character]τι Ἶρον ἐνίκησας τὸν ἀλήτην.

In like manner ϑοάζειν signifies either to move, as in Euripides when he saith,

Κῆτος ϑοάζον ἐκ Ἀτλαντικῆς ἁλός, —

or to sit, as in Sophocles when he writes thus,

  • Τίνας πόϑ’ ἕδρας τάσδε μοι ϑοάζετε,
  • Ἱκτηρίοις κλάδοισιν ἐξεστεμμένοι.

It is elegant also when they adapt to the present matter, as grammarians teach, the use of words which are commonly of another signification. As here: —

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Νῆ’ ὀλίγην αἰνεῖν, μεγάη δ’ ἐνὶ ϕορτία θέσθαι.

For here αἰνεῖν signifies to praise (instead of ἐπαινε[Editor: illegible character]ν), and to praise is used for to refuse. So in conversation it is common with us to say, ϰαλῶς ἔχει, it is well (i.e., No, I thank you), and to bid any thing fare well (χαίϱειν); by which forms of speech we refuse a thing which we do not want, or receive it not, but still with a civil compliment. So also some say that Proserpina is called ἐπαινή in the notion of παϱαιτητή, to be deprecated, because death is by all men shunned.

And the like distinction of words we ought to observe also in things more weighty and serious. To begin with the Gods, we should teach our youth that poets, when they use the names of Gods, sometimes mean properly the Divine Beings so called, but otherwhiles understand by those names certain powers of which the Gods are the donors and authors, they having first led us into the use of them by their own practice. As when Archilochus prays,

  • King Vulcan, hear thy suppliant, and grant
  • That which thou’rt wont to give and I to want,

it is plain that he means the God himself whom he invokes. But when elsewhere he bewails the drowning of his sister’s husband, who had not obtained lawful burial, and says,

  • Had Vulcan his fair limbs to ashes turned,
  • I for his loss had with less passion mourned,

he gives the name of Vulcan to the fire and not to the Deity. Again, Euripides, when he says,

No; by great Jove I swear, enthroned on high, And bloody Mars,*

means the Gods themselves who bare those names. But when Sophocles saith,

  • Blind Mars doth mortal men’s affairs confound,
  • As the swine’s snout doth quite deface the ground,
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we are to understand the word Mars to denote not the God so called, but war. And by the same word we are to understand also weapons made of hardened brass, in those verses of Homer,

  • These are the gallant men whose noble blood
  • Keen Mars did shed near swift Scamander’s flood.*

Wherefore, in conformity to the instances given, we must conceive and bear in mind that by the names of Jupiter also sometimes they mean the God himself, sometimes Fortune, and oftentimes also Fate. For when they say, —

  • Great Jupiter, who from the lofty hill
  • Of Ida govern’st all the world at will;
  • That wrath which hurled to Pluto’s gloomy realm
  • The souls of mighty chiefs: —
  • Such was the sovereign doom, and such the will of Jove;
  • For who (but who himself too fondly loves)
  • Dares lay his wisdom in the scale with Jove’s? —

they understand Jupiter himself. But when they ascribe the event of all things done to Jupiter as the cause, saying of him, —

  • Many brave souls to hell Achilles sent,
  • And Jove’s design accomplished in th’ event, —

they mean by Jove no more but Fate. For the poet doth not conceive that God contrives mischief against mankind, but he soundly declares the mere necessity of the things themselves, to wit, that prosperity and victory are destined by Fate to cities and armies and commanders who govern themselves with sobriety, but if they give way to passions and commit errors, thereby dividing and crumbling themselves into factions, as those of whom the poet speaks did, they do unhandsome actions, and thereby create great disturbances, such as are attended with sad consequences.

  • For to all unadvised acts, in fine,
  • The Fates unhappy issues do assign.§

But when Hesiod brings in Prometheus thus counselling his brother Epimetheus,

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  • Brother, if Jove to thee a present make,
  • Take heed that from his hands thou nothing take,*

he useth the name of Jove to express Fortune; for he calls the good things which come by her (such as riches, and marriages, and empires, and indeed all external things the enjoyment whereof is unprofitable to them who know not how to use them well) the gifts of Jove. And therefore he adviseth Epimetheus (an ill man, and a fool withal) to stand in fear of and to guard himself from prosperity, as that which would be hurtful and destructive to him.

Again, where he saith,

  • Reproach thou not a man for being poor;
  • His poverty’s God’s gift, as is thy store,

he calls that which befalls men by Fortune God’s gift, and intimates that it is an unworthy thing to reproach any man for that poverty which he falls into by Fortune, whereas poverty is then only a matter of disgrace and reproach when it is attendant on sloth and idleness, or wantonness and prodigality. For, before the name of Fortune was used, they knew there was a powerful cause, which moved irregularly and unlimitedly and with such a force that no human reason could avoid it; and this cause they called by the names of Gods. So we are wont to call divers things and qualities and discourses, and even men themselves, divine. And thus may we rectify many such sayings concerning Jupiter as would otherwise seem very absurd. As these, for instance: —

  • Before Jove’s door two fatal hogsheads, filled
  • With human fortunes, good and bad luck yield: —
  • Of violated oaths Jove took no care,
  • But spitefully both parties crushed by war: —
  • To Greeks and Trojans both this was the rise
  • Of mischief, suitable to Jove’s device.
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These passages we are to interpret as spoken concerning Fortune or Fate, of the causality of both which no account can be given by us, nor do their effects fall under our power. But where any thing is said of Jupiter that is suitable, rational, and probable, there we are to conceive that the names of that God is used properly. As in these instances: —

  • Through others’ ranks he conquering did range,
  • But shunned with Ajax any blows t’ exchange;
  • But Jove’s displeasure on him he had brought,
  • Had he with one so much his better fought.*
  • For though great matters are Jove’s special care,
  • Small things t’ inferior daemons trusted are.

And other words there are which the poets remove and translate from their proper sense by accommodation to various things, which deserve also our serious notice. Such a one, for instance, is ἀϱετή, virtue. For because virtue does not only render men prudent, just, and good, both in their words and deeds, but also oftentimes purchaseth to them honor and power, therefore they call likewise these by that name. So we are wont to call both the olive-tree and the fruit ἐλαία, and the oak-tree and its acorn φηγός, communicating the name of the one to the other. Therefore, when our young man reads in the poets such passages as these, —

  • This law th’ immortal Gods to us have set,
  • That none arrive at virtue but by sweat;
  • The adverse troops then did the Grecians stout
  • By their mere virtue profligate and rout;
  • If now the Fates determined have our death,
  • To virtue we’ll consign our parting breath; —

let him presently conceive that these things are spoken of that most excellent and divine habit in us which we understand to be no other than right reason, or the highest attainment of the reasonable nature, and most agreeable Edition: current; Page: [65] to the constitution thereof. And again, when he reads this,

  • Of virtue Jupiter to one gives more,
  • And lessens, when he lifts, another’s store;

and this,

Virtue and honor upon wealth attend;*

let him not sit down in an astonishing admiration of rich men, as if they were enabled by their wealth to purchase virtue, nor let him imagine that it is in the power of Fortune to increase or lessen his own wisdom; but let him conceive that the poet by virtue meant either glory or power or prosperity or something of like import. For poets use the same ambiguity also in the word χαχότης, evil, which sometimes in them properly signifies a wicked and malicious disposition of mind, as in that of Hesiod,

  • Evil is soon acquired; for everywhere
  • There’s plenty on’t and t’all men’s dwellings near;

and sometimes some evil accident or misfortune, as when Homer says,

  • Sore evils, when they haunt us in our prime,
  • Hasten old age on us before our time.

So also in the word εὐδαιμονία, he would be sorely deceived who should imagine that, wheresoever he meets with it in poets, it means (as it does in philosophy) a perfect habitual enjoyment of all good things or the leading a life every way agreeable to Nature, and that they do not withal by the abuse of such words call rich men happy or blessed, and power or glory felicity. For, though Homer rightly useth terms of that nature in this passage, —

  • Though of such great estates I am possest,
  • Yet with true inward joy I am not blest;§

and Menander in this, —

  • So great’s th’ estate I am endowed withal:
  • All say I’m rich, but none me happy call; —
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yet Euripides discourseth more confusedly and perplexedly when he writes after this manner, —

  • May I ne’er live that grievous blessed life; —
  • But tell me, man, why valuest thou so high
  • Th’ unjust beatitude of tyranny?*

except, as I said, we allow him the use of these words in a metaphorical and abusive sense. But enough hath been spoken of these matters.

ModernGreek: 7. Nevertheless, this principle is not once only but often to be inculcated and pressed on young men, that poetry, when it undertakes a fictitious argument by way of imitation, though it make use of such ornament and illustration as suit the actions and manners treated of, yet disclaims not all likelihood of truth, seeing the force of imitation, in order to the persuading of men, lies in probability. Wherefore such imitation as does not altogether shake hands with truth carries along with it certain signs of virtue and vice mixed together in the actions which it doth represent. And of this nature is Homer’s poetry, which totally bids adieu to Stoicism, the principles whereof will not admit any vice to come near where virtue is, nor virtue to have any thing to do where any vice lodgeth, but affirms that he that is not a wise man can do nothing well, and he that is so can do nothing amiss. Thus they determine in the schools. But in human actions and the affairs of common life the judgment of Euripides is verified, that

  • Virtue and vice ne’er separately exist,
  • But in the same acts with each other twist.

Next, it is to be observed that poetry, waiving the truth of things, does most labor to beautify its fictions with variety and multiplicity of contrivance. For variety bestows upon fable all that is pathetical, unusual, and surprising, and thereby makes it more taking and graceful; whereas what is void of variety is unsuitable to the nature of fable, and so raiseth no Edition: current; Page: [67] passions at all. Upon which design of variety it is, that the poets never represent the same persons always victorious or prosperous or acting with the same constant tenor of virtue; — yea, even the Gods themselves, when they engage in human actions, are not represented as free from passions and errors; — lest, for the want of some difficulties and cross passages, their poems should be destitute of that briskness which is requisite to move and astonish the minds of men.

ModernGreek: 8. These things therefore so standing, we should, when we enter a young man into the study of the poets, endeavor to free his mind from that degree of esteem of the good and great personages in them described as may incline him to think them to be mirrors of wisdom and justice, the chief of princes, and the exemplary measures of all virtue and goodness. For he will receive much prejudice, if he shall approve and admire all that comes from such persons as great, if he dislike nothing in them himself, nor will endure to hear others blame them, though for such words and actions as the following passages import: —

  • Oh! would to all the immortal powers above,
  • Apollo, Pallas, and almighty Jove!
  • That not one Trojan might be left alive,
  • And not a Greek of all the race survive.
  • Might only we the vast destruction shun,
  • And only we destroy the accursed town!
  • Her breast all gore, with lamentable cries,
  • The bleeding innocent Cassandra dies,
  • Murdered by Clytemnestra’s faithless hand:
  • Lie with thy father’s whore, my mother said,
  • That she th’ old man may loathe; and I obeyed:
  • Of all the Gods, O father Jove, there’s none
  • Thus given to mischief but thyself alone.*

Our young man is to be taught not to commend such things as these, no, nor to show the nimbleness of his wit or subtlety in maintaining an argument by finding out plausible colors and pretences to varnish over a bad matter. But Edition: current; Page: [68] we should teach him rather to judge that poetry is an imitation of the manners and lives of such men as are not perfectly pure and unblamable, but such as are tinctured with passions, misled by false opinions, and muffled with ignorance; though oftentimes they may, by the help of a good natural temper, change them for better qualities. For the young man’s mind, being thus prepared and disposed, will receive no damage by such passages when he meets with them in poems, but will on the one side be elevated with rapture at those things which are well said or done, and on the other, will not entertain but dislike those which are of a contrary character. But he that admires and is transported with every thing, as having his judgment enslaved by the esteem he hath for the names of heroes, will be unawares wheedled into many evil things, and be guilty of the same folly with those who imitate the crookedness of Plato or the lisping of Aristotle. Neither must he carry himself timorously herein, nor, like a superstitious person in a temple, tremblingly adore all he meets with; but use himself to such confidence as may enable him openly to pronounce, This was ill or incongruously said, and, That was bravely and gallantly spoken. For example, Achilles in Homer, being offended at the spinning out that war by delays, wherein he was desirous by feats of arms to purchase to himself glory, calls the soldiers together when there was an epidemical disease among them. But having himself some smattering skill in physic, and perceiving after the ninth day, which useth to be decretory in such cases, that the disease was no usual one nor proceeding from ordinary causes, when he stands up to speak, he waives applying himself to the soldiers, and addresseth himself as a councillor to the general, thus: —

  • Why leave we not the fatal Trojan shore,
  • And measure back the seas we cross’d before?*
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And he spake well, and with due moderation and decorum. But when the soothsayer Chalcas had told him that he feared the wrath of the most potent among the Grecians, after an oath that while he lived no man should lay violent hands on him, he adds, but not with like wisdom and moderation,

  • Not e’en the chief by whom our hosts are led,
  • The king of kings, shall touch that sacred head;

in which speech he declares his low opinion or rather his contempt of his chief commander. And then, being farther provoked, he drew his weapon with a design to kill him, which attempt was neither good nor expedient. And therefore by and by he repented his rashness, —

  • He said, observant of the blue-eyed maid;
  • Then in the sheath returned the shining blade;

wherein again he did rightly and worthily, in that, though he could not altogether quell his passion, yet he restrained and reduced it under the command of reason, before it brake forth into such an irreparable act of mischief. Again, even Agamemnon himself talks in that assembly ridiculously, but carries himself more gravely and more like a prince in the matter of Chryseis. For whereas Achilles, when his Briseis was taken away from him,

  • In sullenness withdraws from all his friends,
  • And in his tent his time lamenting spends;

Agamemnon himself hands into the ship, delivers to her friends, and so sends from him, the woman concerning whom a little before he declared that he loved her better than his wife; and in that action did nothing unbecoming or savoring of fond affection. Also Phoenix, when his father bitterly cursed him for having to do with one that was his own harlot, says,

  • Him in my rage I purposed to have killed,
  • But that my hand some God in kindness held;
  • And minded me that Greeks would taunting say,
  • Lo, here’s the man that did his father slay.
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It is true that Aristarchus was afraid to permit these verses to stand in the poet, and therefore censured them to be expunged. But they were inserted by Homer very aptly to the occasion of Phoenix’s instructing Achilles what a pernicious thing anger is, and what foul acts men do by its instigation, while they are capable neither of making use of their own reason nor of hearing the counsel of others. To which end he also introduceth Meleager at first highly offended with his citizens, and afterwards pacified; justly therein reprehending disordered passions, and praising it as a good and profitable thing not to yield to them, but to resist and overcome them, and to repent when one hath been overcome by them.

Now in these instances the difference is manifest. But where a like clear judgment cannot be passed, there we are to settle the young man’s mind thus, by way of distinction. If Nausicaa, having cast her eyes upon Ulysses, a stranger, and feeling the same passion for him as Calypso had before, did (as one that was ripe for a husband) out of wantonness talk with her maidens at this foolish rate, —

  • O Heaven! in my connubial hour decree
  • This man my spouse, or such a spouse as he!*

she is blameworthy for her impudence and incontinence. But if; perceiving the man’s breeding by his discourse, and admiring the prudence of his addresses, she rather wisheth to have such a one for a husband than a merchant or a dancing gallant of her fellow-citizens, she is to be commended. And when Ulysses is represented as rejoicing at Penelope’s jocular conversation with her wooers, and at their presenting her with rich garments and other ornaments,

  • Because she cunningly the fools cajoled,
  • And bartered light words for their heavy gold;

if that joy were occasioned by greediness and covetousness, Edition: current; Page: [71] he discovers himself to be a more sordid prostituter of his own wife than Poliager is wont to be represented on the stage to have been, of whom it is said, —

  • Happy man he, whose wife, like Capricorn,
  • Stores him with riches from a golden horn!

But if through foresight he thought thereby to get them the more within his power, as being lulled asleep in security for the future by the hopes she gave them at present, this rejoicing, joined with confidence in his wife, was rational. Again, when he is brought in numbering the goods which the Phaeacians had set on shore together with himself and departed; if indeed, being himself left in such a solitude, so ignorant where he was, and having no security there for his own person, he is yet solicitous for his goods, lest

  • The sly Phaeacians, when they stole to sea,
  • Had stolen some part of what they brought away;*

the covetousness of the man deserved in truth to be pitied, or rather abhorred. But if, as some say in his defence, being doubtful whether or no the place where he was landed were Ithaca, he made use of the just tale of his goods to infer thence the honesty of the Phaeacians, — because it was not likely they would expose him in a strange place and leave him there with his goods by him untouched, so as to get nothing by their dishonesty, — then he makes use of a very fit test for this purpose, and deserves commendation for his wisdom in that action. Some also there are who find fault with that passage of the putting him on shore when he was asleep, if it really so happened, and they tell us that the people of Tuscany have still a traditional story among them concerning Ulysses, that he was naturally sleepy, and therefore a man whom many men could not freely converse with. But if his sleep was but feigned, and he made use of this pretence only of a natural Edition: current; Page: [72] infirmity, by counterfeiting a nap, to hide the strait he was in at that time in his thoughts, betwixt the shame of sending away the Phaeacians without giving them a friendly collation and hospitable gifts, and the fear he had of being discovered to his enemies by the treating such a company of men together, they then approve it.

Now, by showing young men these things, we shall preserve them from being carried away to any corruption in their manners, and dispose them to the election and imitation of those that are good, as being before instructed readily to disapprove those and commend these. But this ought with the most care to be done in the reading of tragedies wherein probable and subtle speeches are made use of in the most foul and wicked actions. For that is not always true which Sophocles saith, that

From naughty acts good words can ne’er proceed.

For even he himself is wont to apply pleasant reasonings and plausible arguments to those manners and actions which are wicked or unbecoming. And in another of his fellow-tragedians, we may see even Phaedra herself represented as justifying her unlawful affection for Hippolytus by accusing Theseus of ill-carriage towards her. And in his Troades, he allows Helen the same liberty of speech against Hecuba, whom she judgeth to be more worthy of punishment than herself for her adultery, because she was the mother of Paris that tempted her thereto. A young man therefore must not be accustomed to think any thing of that nature handsomely or wittily spoken, nor to be pleased with such colorable inventions; but rather more to abhor such words as tend to the defence of wanton acts than the very acts themselves.

ModernGreek: 9. And lastly, it will be useful likewise to enquire into the cause why each thing is said. For so Cato, when he was a boy, though he was wont to be very observant of all his master’s commands, yet withal used to ask the cause Edition: current; Page: [73] or reason why he so commanded. But poets are not to be obeyed as pedagogues and lawgivers are, except they have reason to back what they say. And that they will not want, when they speak well; and if they speak ill, what they say will appear vain and frivolous. But nowadays most young men very briskly demand the reason of such trivial speeches as these, and enquire in what sense they are spoken:

  • It bodes ill luck, when vessels you set up,
  • To place the ladle on the mixing-cup.
  • Who from his chariot to another’s leaps,
  • Seldom his seat without a combat keeps.*

But to those of greater moment they give credence without examination, as to those that follow:

  • The boldest men are daunted oftentimes,
  • When they’re reproached with their parents’ crimes:
  • When any man is crushed by adverse fate,
  • His spirit should be low as his estate.

And yet such speeches relate to manners, and disquiet men’s lives by begetting in them evil opinions and unworthy sentiments, except they have learned to return answer to each of them thus: “Wherefore is it necessary that a man who is crushed by adverse fate should have a dejected spirit? Yea, why rather should he not struggle against Fortune, and raise himself above the pressures of his low circumstances? Why, if I myself be a good and wise son of an evil and foolish father, does it not rather become me to bear myself confidently upon the account of my own virtue, than to be dejected and dispirited because of my father’s defects?” For he that can encounter such speeches and oppose them after this manner, not yielding himself up to be overset with the blast of every saying, but approving that speech of Heraclitus, that

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  • Whate’er is said, though void of sense and wit,
  • The size of a fool’s intellect doth fit,

will reject many such things as falsely and idly spoken.

ModernGreek: 10. These things therefore may be of use to preserve us from the hurt we might get by the study of poems. Now, as on a vine the fruit oftentimes lies shadowed and hidden under its large leaves and luxuriant branches, so in the poet’s phrases and fictions that encompass them there are also many profitable and useful things concealed from the view of young men. This, however, ought not to be suffered; nor should we be led away from things themselves thus, but rather adhere to such of them as tend to the promoting of virtue and the well forming of our manners. It will not be altogether useless therefore, to treat briefly in the next place of passages of that nature. Wherein I intend to touch only at some particulars, leaving all longer discourses, and the trimming up and furnishing them with a multitude of instances, to those who write more for show and ostentation.

First, therefore, let our young man be taught to understand good and bad manners and persons, and from thence apply his mind to the words and deeds which the poet decently assigns to either of them. For example, Achilles, though in some wrath, speaks to Agamemnon thus decently:

  • Nor, when we take a Trojan town, can I
  • With thee in spoils and splendid prizes vie;*

whereas Thersites to the same person speaks reproachfully in this manner: —

  • ’Tis thine whate’er the warrior’s breast inflames,
  • The golden spoil, and thine the lovely dames.
  • With all the wealth our wars and blood bestow,
  • Thy tents are crowded and thy chests o’erflow.
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Again, Achilles thus: —

  • Whene’er, by Jove’s decree, our conquering powers
  • Shall humble to the dust Troy’s lofty towers;

but Thersites thus: —

Whom I or some Greek else as captive bring.

Again, Diomedes, when Agamemnon taking a view of the army spoke reproachfully to him,

  • To his hard words forbore to make reply,
  • For the respect he bare to majesty;

whereas Stenelus, a man of small note, replies on him thus: —

  • Sir, when you know the truth, what need to lie?
  • For with our fathers we for valor vie.

Now the observation of such difference will teach the young man the decency of a modest and moderate temper, and the unbecoming nauseousness of the contrary vices of boasting and cracking of a man’s own worth. And it is worth while also to take notice of the demeanor of Agamemnon in the same passage. For he passeth by Sthenelus unspoken to; but perceiving Ulysses to be offended, he neglects not him, but applies himself to answer him: —

Struck with his generous wrath, the king replies.*

For to have apologized to every one had been too servile and misbecoming the dignity of his person; whereas equally to have neglected every one had been an act of insolence and imprudence. And very handsome it is that Diomedes, though in the heat of the battle he answers the king only with silence, yet after the battle was over useth more liberty towards him, speaking thus: —

You called me coward, sir, before the Greeks.

It is expedient also to take notice of the different carriage of a wise man and of a soothsayer popularly courting the multitude. For Chalcas very unseasonably makes no scruple Edition: current; Page: [76] to traduce the king before the people, as having been the cause of the pestilence that was befallen them. But Nestor, intending to bring in a discourse concerning the reconciling Achilles to him, that he might not seem to charge Agamemnon before the multitude with the miscarriage his passion had occasioned, only adviseth him thus: —

  • But thou, O king, to council call the old. . . .
  • Wise weighty counsels aid a state distress’d,
  • And such a monarch as can choose the best;

which done, accordingly after supper he sends his ambassadors. Now this speech of Nestor tended to the rectifying of what he had before done amiss; but that of Chalcas, only to accuse and disparage him.

There is likewise consideration to be had of the different manners of nations, such as these. The Trojans enter into battle with loud outcries and great fierceness; but in the army of the Greeks,

  • Sedate and silent move the numerous bands;
  • No sound, no whisper, but the chief’s commands;
  • Those only heard, with awe the rest obey.

For when soldiers are about to engage an enemy, the awe they stand in of their officers is an argument both of courage and obedience. For which purpose Plato teacheth us that we ought to inure ourselves to fear blame and disgrace more than labor and danger. And Cato was wont to say that he liked men that were apt to blush better than those that looked pale.

Moreover, there is a particular character to be noted of the men who undertake for any action. For Dolon thus promiseth: —

  • I’ll pass through all their host in a disguise
  • To their flag-ship, where she at anchor lies.

But Diomedes promiseth nothing, but only tells them he shall fear the less if they send a companion with him; whereby is intimated, that discreet foresight is Grecian and Edition: current; Page: [77] civil, but rash confidence is barbarous and evil; and the former is therefore to be imitated, and the latter to be avoided.

It is a matter too of no unprofitable consideration, how the minds of the Trojans and of Hector too were affected when he and Ajax were about to engage in a single combat. For Aeschylus, when, upon one of the fighters at fisticuffs in the Isthmian games receiving a blow on the face, there was made a great outcry among the people, said: “What a thing is practice! See how the lookers-on only cry out, but the man that received the stroke is silent.” But when the poet tells us, that the Greeks rejoiced when they saw Ajax in his glistering armor, but

  • The Trojans’ knees for very fear did quake,
  • And even Hector’s heart began to ache;*

who is there that wonders not at this difference, — when the heart of him that was to run the risk of the combat only beats inwardly, as if he were to undertake a mere wrestling or running match, but the very bodies of the spectators tremble and shake, out of the kindness and fear which they had for their king?

In the same poet also we may observe the difference betwixt the humor of a coward and a valiant man. For Thersites

  • Against Achilles a great malice had,
  • And wise Ulysses he did hate as bad;

but Ajax is always represented as friendly to Achilles; and particularly he speaks thus to Hector concerning him: —

  • Hector! approach my arm, and singly know
  • What strength thou hast, and what the Grecian foe.
  • Achilles shuns the fight; yet some there are
  • Not void of soul, and not unskill’d in war:

wherein he insinuates the high commendation of that valiant man. And in what follows, he speaks like handsome things of his fellow-soldiers in general, thus: —

Edition: current; Page: [78]
  • Whole troops of heroes Greece has yet to boast,
  • And sends thee one, a sample of her host;

wherein he doth not boast himself to be the only or the best champion, but one of those, among many others, who were fit to undertake that combat.

What hath been said is sufficient upon the point of dissimilitudes; except we think fit to add this, that many of the Trojans came into the enemy’s power alive, but none of the Grecians; and that many of the Trojans supplicated to their enemies, — as (for instance) Adrastus, the sons of Antimachus, Lycaon, — and even Hector himself entreats Achilles for a sepulture; but not one of these doth so, as judging it barbarous to supplicate to a foe in the field, and more Greek-like either to conquer or die.

ModernGreek: 11. But as, in the same plant, the bee feeds on the flower, the goat on the bud, the hog on the root, and other living creatures on the seed and the fruit; so in reading of poems, one man singleth out the historical part, another dwells upon the elegancy and fit disposal of words, as Aristophanes says of Euripides, —

  • His gallant language runs so smooth and round,
  • That I am ravisht with th’ harmonious sound;*

but others, to whom this part of my discourse is directed, mind only such things as are useful to the bettering of manners. And such we are to put in mind that it is an absurd thing, that those who delight in fables should not let any thing slip them of the vain and extravagant stories they find in poets, and that those who affect language should pass by nothing that is elegantly and floridly expressed; and that only the lovers of honor and virtue, who apply themselves to the study of poems not for delight but for instruction’s sake, should slightly and negligently observe what is spoken in them relating to valor, temperance, or justice. Of this nature is the following: —

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  • And stand we deedless, O eternal shame!
  • Till Hector’s arm involve the ships in flame?
  • Haste, let us join, and combat side by side.*

For to see a man of the greatest wisdom in danger of being totally cut off with all those that take part with him, and yet affected less with fear of death than of shame and dishonor, must needs excite in a young man a passionate affection for virtue. And this,

  • Joyed was the Goddess, for she much did prize
  • A man that was alike both just and wise,

teacheth us to infer that the Deity delights not in a rich or a proper or a strong man, but in one that is furnished with wisdom and justice. Again, when the same Goddess (Minerva) saith that the reason why she did not desert or neglect Ulysses was that he was

Gentle, of ready wit, of prudent mind,

she therein tells us that, of all things pertaining to us, nothing is dear to the Gods and divine but our virtue, seeing like naturally delights in like.

And seeing, moreover, that it both seemeth and really is a great thing to be able to moderate a man’s anger, but a greater by far to guard a man’s self beforehand by prudence, that he fall not into it nor be surprised by it, therefore also such passages as tend that way are not slightly to be represented to the readers; for example, that Achilles himself — who was a man of no great forbearance, nor inclined to such meekness — yet warns Priam to be calm and not to provoke him, thus,

  • Move me no more (Achilles thus replies,
  • While kindling anger sparkled in his eyes),
  • Nor seek by tears my steady soul to bend:
  • To yield thy Hector I myself intend:
  • Cease; lest, neglectful of high Jove’s command,
  • I show thee, king, thou tread’st on hostile land;
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and that he himself first washeth and decently covereth the body of Hector and then puts it into a chariot, to prevent his father’s seeing it so unworthily mangled as it was, —

  • Lest the unhappy sire,
  • Provoked to passion, once more rouse to ire
  • The stern Pelides; and nor sacred age,
  • Nor Jove’s command, should check the rising rage.

For it is a piece of admirable prudence for a man so prone to anger, as being by nature hasty and furious, to understand himself so well as to set a guard upon his own inclinations, and by avoiding provocations to keep his passion at due distance by the use of reason, lest he should be unawares surprised by it. And after the same manner must the man that is apt to be drunken forearm himself against that vice; and he that is given to wantonness, against lust, as Agesilaus refused to receive a kiss from a beautiful person addressing to him, and Cyrus would not so much as endure to see Panthea. Whereas, on the contrary, those that are not virtuously bred are wont to gather fuel to inflame their passions, and voluntarily to abandon themselves to those temptations to which of themselves they are endangered. But Ulysses does not only restrain his own anger, but (perceiving by the discourse of his son Telemachus, that through indignation conceived against such evil men he was greatly provoked) he blunts his passion too beforehand, and composeth him to calmness and patience, thus: —

  • There, if base scorn insult my reverend age,
  • Bear it, my son! repress thy rising rage.
  • If outraged, cease that outrage to repel;
  • Bear it, my son! howe’er thy heart rebel.

For as men are not wont to put bridles on their horses when they are running in full speed, but bring them bridled beforehand to the race; so do they use to preoccupy and predispose the minds of those persons with rational considerations to enable them to encounter passion, whom they Edition: current; Page: [81] perceive to be too mettlesome and unmanageable upon the sight of provoking objects.

Furthermore, the young man is not altogether to neglect names themselves when he meets with them; though he is not obliged to give much heed to such idle descants as those of Cleanthes, who, while he professeth himself an interpreter, plays the trifler, as in these passages of Homer: Ζεῦ πάτεϱ Ἴδηθεν μεδέων, and Ζεῦ ἄνα Δωδωναῖε.* For he will needs read the last two of these words joined into one, and make them ἀναδωδωναῖε; for that the air evaporated from the earth by exhalation (ἀνάδοσις) is so called. Yea, and Chrysippus too, though he does not so trifle, yet is very jejune, while he hunts after improbable etymologies. As when he will need force the words εὐϱύοπα Κϱονίδην to import Jupiter’s excellent faculty in speaking and powerfulness to persuade thereby.

But such things as these are fitter to be left to the examination of grammarians; and we are rather to insist upon such passages as are both profitable and persuasive. Such, for instance, as these: —

  • My early youth was bred to martial pains,
  • My soul impels me to the embattled plains!
  • How skill’d he was in each obliging art;
  • The mildest manners, and the gentlest heart.

For while the author tells us that fortitude may be taught, and that an obliging and graceful way of conversing with others is to be gotten by art and the use of reason, he exhorts us not to neglect the improvement of ourselves, but by observing our teachers’ instructions to learn a becoming carriage, as knowing that clownishness and cowardice argue ill-breeding and ignorance. And very suitable to what hath been said is that which is said of Jupiter and Neptune: —

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  • Gods of one source, of one ethereal race,
  • Alike divine, and heaven their native place;
  • But Jove the greater; first born of the skies,
  • And more than men or Gods supremely wise.*

For the poet therein pronounceth wisdom to be the most divine and royal quality of all; as placing therein the greatest excellency of Jupiter himself, and judging all virtues else to be necessarily consequent thereunto. We are also to accustom a young man attentively to hear such things as these: —

  • Urge him with truth to frame his fair replies:
  • And sure he will, for wisdom never lies:
  • The praise of wisdom, in thy youth obtain’d,
  • An act so rash, Antilochus, has stain’d:
  • Say, is it just, my friend, that Hector’s ear
  • From such a warrior such a speech should hear?
  • I deemed thee once the wisest of thy kind,
  • But ill this insult suits a prudent mind.

These speeches teach us that it is beneath wise men to lie or to deal otherwise than fairly, even in games, or to blame other men without just cause. And when the poet attributes Pindarus’s violation of the truce to his folly, he withal declares his judgment that a wise man will not be guilty of an unjust action. The like may we also infer concerning continence, taking our ground for it from these passages: —

  • For him Antaea burn’d with lawless flame,
  • And strove to tempt him from the paths of fame:
  • In vain she tempted the relentless youth,
  • Endued with wisdom, sacred fear, and truth:
  • At first, with worthy shame and decent pride,
  • The royal dame his lawless suit denied!
  • For virtue’s image yet possessed her mind:

in which speeches the poet assigns wisdom to be the cause of continence. And when in exhortations made to encourage soldiers to fight, he speaks in this manner: —

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  • What mean you, Lycians? Stand! O stand, for shame!
  • Yet each reflect who prizes fame or breath,
  • On endless infamy, on instant death;
  • For, lo! the fated time, the appointed shore;
  • Hark! the gates burst, the brazen barriers roar!*

he seems to intimate that continent men are valiant men; because they fear the shame of base actions, and can trample on pleasures and stand their ground in the greatest hazards. Whence Timotheus, in the play called Persae, takes occasion handsomely to exhort the Grecians thus: —

  • Brave soldiers of just shame in awe should stand;
  • For the blushing face oft helps the fighting hand.

And Aeschylus also makes it a point of wisdom not to be blown up with pride when a man is honored, nor to be moved or elevated with the acclamations of a multitude, writing thus of 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.

For it is the part of a wise man to value himself upon the consciousness of his own true worth and excellency.

Whereas, therefore, all inward perfections are reducible to wisdom, it appears that all sorts of virtue and learning are included in it.

ModernGreek: 12. Again, boys may be instructed, by reading the poets as they ought, to draw something that is useful and profitable even from those passages that are most suspected as wicked and absurd; as the bee is taught by Nature to gather the sweetest and most pleasant honey from the harshest flowers and sharpest thorns. It does indeed at the first blush cast a shrewd suspicion on Agamemnon of taking a bribe, when Homer tells us that he discharged that rich man from the wars who presented him with his fleet mare Aethe: —

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  • Whom rich Echepolus, more rich than brave,
  • To ’scape the wars, to Agamemnon gave
  • (Aethe her name), at home to end his days;
  • Base wealth preferring to eternal praise.*

Yet, as saith Aristotle, it was well done of him to prefer a good beast before such a man. For, the truth is, a dog or ass is of more value than a timorous and cowardly man that wallows in wealth and luxury. Again, Thetis seems to do indecently, when she exhorts her son to follow his pleasures and minds him of companying with women. But even here, on the other side, the continency of Achilles is worthy to be considered; who, though he dearly loved Briseis — newly returned to him too, — yet, when he knew his life to be near its end, does not hasten to the fruition of pleasures, nor, when he mourns for his friend Patroclus, does he (as most men are wont) shut himself up from all business and neglect his duty, but only bars himself from recreations for his sorrow’s sake, while yet he gives himself up to action and military employments. And Archilochus is not praiseworthy either, who, in the midst of his mourning for his sister’s husband drowned in the sea, contrives to dispel his grief by drinking and merriment. And yet he gives this plausible reason to justify that practice of his,

  • To drink and dance, rather than mourn, I choose;
  • Nor wrong I him, whom mourning can’t reduce.

For, if he judged himself to do nothing amiss when he followed sports and banquets, sure, we shall not do worse, if in whatever circumstances we follow the study of philosophy, or manage public affairs, or go to the market or to the Academy, or follow our husbandry. Wherefore those corrections also are not to be rejected which Cleanthes and Antisthenes have made use of. For Antisthenes, seeing the Athenians all in a tumult in the theatre, and justly, upon the pronunciation of this verse, —

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Except what men think base, there’s nothing ill,*

presently subjoined this corrective,

What’s base is base, — believe men what they will.

And Cleanthes, hearing this passage concerning wealth:

  • Great is th’ advantage that great wealth attends,
  • For oft with it we purchase health and friends;

presently altered it thus:

  • Great disadvantage oft attends on wealth;
  • We purchase whores with’t and destroy our health.

And Zeno corrected that of Sophocles,

  • The man that in a tyrant’s palace dwells
  • His liberty for’s entertainment sells,

after this manner:

  • No: if he came in free, he cannot lose
  • His liberty, though in a tyrant’s house;

meaning by a free man one that is undaunted and magnanimous, and one of a spirit too great to stoop beneath itself. And why may not we also, by some such acclamations as those, call off young men to the better side, by using some things spoken by poets after the same manner? For example, it is said,

  • ’Tis all that in this life one can require,
  • To hit the mark he aims at in desire.

To which we may reply thus:

  • ’Tis false; except one level his desire
  • At what’s expedient, and no more require.

For it is an unhappy thing and not to be wished, for a man to obtain and be master of what he desires if it be inexpedient. Again this saying,

  • Thou, Agamemnon, must thyself prepare
  • Of joy and grief by turns to take thy share:
  • Thy father, Atreus, sure, ne’er thee begat,
  • To be an unchanged favorite of Fate:
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we may thus invert:

  • Thy father, Atreus, never thee begat,
  • To be an unchanged favorite of Fate:
  • Therefore, if moderate thy fortunes are,
  • Thou shouldst rejoice always, and grief forbear.

Again it is said,

  • Alas! this ill comes from the powers divine,
  • That oft we see what’s good, yet it decline.*

Yea, rather, say we, it is a brutish and irrational and wretched fault of ours, that when we understand better things, we are carried away to the pursuit of those which are worse, through our intemperance and effeminacy. Again, one says,

’Tis not the teacher’s speech but practice moves.

Yea, rather, say we, both the speech and practice, — or the practice by the means of speech, — as the horse is managed with the bridle, and the ship with the helm. For virtue hath no instrument so suitable and agreeable to human nature to work on men withal, as that of rational discourse. Again, we meet with this character of some person:

  • A. Is he more prone to male or female loves?
  • B. He’s flexible both ways, where beauty moves.

But it had been better said thus:

He’s flexible to both, where virtue moves.

For it is no commendation of a man’s dexterity to be tossed up and down as pleasure and beauty move him, but an argument rather of a weak and unstable disposition. Once more, this speech,

  • Religion damps the courage of our minds,
  • And ev’n wise men to cowardice inclines,

is by no means to be allowed; but rather the contrary,

  • Religion truly fortifies men’s minds,
  • And a wise man to valiant acts inclines,
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and gives not occasion of fear to any but weak and foolish persons and such as are ungrateful to the Deity, who are apt to look on that divine power and principle which is the cause of all good with suspicion and jealousy, as being hurtful unto them. And so much for that which I call correction of poets’ sayings.

ModernGreek: 13. There is yet another way of improving poems, taught us well by Chrysippus; which is, by accommodation of any saying, to transfer that which is useful and serviceable in it to divers things of the same kind. For whereas Hesiod saith,

  • If but a cow be lost, the common fame
  • Upon the next ill neighbor lays the blame;*

the same may be applied to a man’s dog or ass or any other beast of his which is liable to the like mischance. Again, Euripides saith,

  • How can that man be called a slave, who slights
  • Ev’n death itself, which servile spirits frights?

the like whereof may be said of hard labor or painful sickness. For as physicians, finding by experience the force of any medicine in the cure of some one disease, make use of it by accommodation, proportionably to every other disease of affinity thereto, so are we to deal with such speeches as are of a common import and apt to communicate their value to other things; we must not confine them to that one thing only to which they were at first adapted, but transfer them to all other of like nature, and accustom young men by many parallel instances to see the communicableness of them, and exercise the promptness of their wits in such applications. So that when Menander says,

Happy is he who wealth and wisdom hath,

they may be able to judge that the same is fitly applicable to glory and authority and eloquence also. And the reproof Edition: current; Page: [88] which Ulysses gives Achilles, when he found him sitting in Scyrus in the apartment of the young ladies,

  • Thou, who from noblest Greeks deriv’st thy race,
  • Dost thou with spinning wool thy birth disgrace?

may be as well given to the prodigal, to him that undertakes any dishonest way of living, yea, to the slothful and unlearned person, thus:

  • Thou, who from noblest Greeks deriv’st thy race,
  • Dost thou with fuddling thy great birth disgrace?

or dost thou spend thy time in dicing, or quail-striking,* or deal in adulterate wares or griping usury, not minding any thing that is great and worthy thy noble extraction? So when they read,

  • For Wealth, the God most serve, I little care,
  • Since the worst men his favors often wear,

they may be able to infer, therefore, as little regard is to be had to glory and bodily beauty and princely robes and priestly garlands, all which also we see to be the enjoyments of very bad men. Again, when they read this passage,

  • A coward father propagates his vice,
  • And gets a son heir to his cowardice,

they may in truth apply the same to intemperance, to superstition, to envy, and all other diseases of men’s minds. Again, whereas it is handsomely said of Homer,

Unhappy Paris, fairest to behold!


Hector, of noble form,

for herein he shows that a man who hath no greater excellency than that of beauty to commend him deserves to Edition: current; Page: [89] have it mentioned with contempt and ignominy, — such expressions we should make use of in like cases to repress the insolence of such as bear themselves high upon the account of such things as are of no real value, and to teach young men to look upon such compellations as “O thou richest of men,” and “O thou that excellest in feasting, in multitudes of attendants, in herds of cattle, yea, and in eloquent speaking itself,” to be (as they are indeed) expressions that import reproach and infamy. For, in truth, a man that designs to excel ought to endeavor it in those things that are in themselves most excellent, and to become chief in the chiefest, and great in the greatest things. Whereas glory that ariseth from things in themselves small and inconsiderable is inglorious and contemptible. To mind us whereof we shall never be at a loss for instances, if, in reading Homer especially, we observe how he applieth the expressions that import praise or disgrace; wherein we have clear proof that he makes small account of the good things either of the body or Fortune. And first of all, in meetings and salutations, men do not call others fair or rich or strong, but use such terms of commendation as these:

  • Son of Laertes, from great Jove deriving
  • Thy pedigree, and skilled in wise contriving;
  • Hector, thou son of Priam, whose advice
  • With wisest Jove’s men count of equal price;
  • Achilles, son of Peleus, whom all story
  • Shall mention as the Grecians’ greatest glory;
  • Divine Patroclus, for thy worth thou art,
  • Of all the friends I have, lodged next my heart.*

And moreover, when they speak disgracefully of any person, they touch not at bodily defects, but direct all their reproaches to vicious actions; as for instance:

  • A dogged-looking, drunken beast thou art,
  • And in thy bosom hast a deer’s faint heart;
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  • Ajax, at brawling valiant still,
  • Whose tongue is used to speaking ill;
  • A tongue so loose hung, and so vain withal,
  • Idomeneus, becomes thee not at all;
  • Ajax, thy tongue doth oft offend;
  • For of thy boasting there’s no end.*

Lastly, when Ulysses reproacheth Thersites, he objecteth not to him his lameness nor his baldness nor his hunched back, but the vicious quality of indiscreet babbling. On the other side, when Juno means to express a dalliance or motherly fondness to her son Vulcan, she courts him with an epithet taken from his halting, thus,

Rouse thee, my limping son!

In this instance, Homer does (as it were) deride those who are ashamed of their lameness or blindness, as not thinking any thing a disgrace that is not in itself disgraceful, nor any person liable to a reproach for that which is not imputable to himself but to Fortune. These two great advantages may be made by those who frequently study poets; — the learning moderation, to keep them from unseasonable and foolish reproaching others with their misfortunes, when they themselves enjoy a constant current of prosperity; and magnanimity, that under variety of accidents they be not dejected nor disturbed, but meekly bear the being scoffed at, reproached, and drolled upon. Especially, let them have that saying of Philemon ready at hand in such cases:

  • That spirit’s well in tune, whose sweet repose
  • No railer’s tongue can ever discompose.

And yet, if one that so rails do himself deserve reprehension, thou mayst take occasion to retort upon him his own vices and inordinate passions; as when Adrastus in the tragedy is assaulted thus by Alcmaeon,

Thy sister’s one that did her husband kill,

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he returns him this answer,

But thou thyself thy mother’s blood did spill.

For as they who scourge a man’s garments do not touch the body, so those that turn other men’s evil fortunes or mean births to matter of reproach do only with vanity and folly enough lash their external circumstances, but touch not their internal part, the soul, nor those things which truly need correction and reproof.

ModernGreek: 14. Moreover, as we have above taught you to abate and lessen the credit of evil and hurtful poems by setting in opposition to them the famous speeches and sentences of such worthy men as have managed public affairs, so will it be useful to us, where we find any things in them of civil and profitable import, to improve and strengthen them by testimonies and proofs taken from philosophers, withal giving these the credit of being the first inventors of them. For this is both just and profitable to be done, seeing by this means such sayings receive an additional strength and esteem, when it appears that what is spoken on the stage or sung to the harp or occurs in a scholar’s lesson is agreeable to the doctrines of Pythagoras and Plato, and that the sentences of Chilo and Bias tend to the same issue with those that are found in the authors which children read. Therefore must we industriously show them that these poetical sentences,

  • Not these, O daughter, are thy proper cares,
  • Thee milder arts befit, and softer wars;
  • Sweet smiles are thine, and kind endearing charms;
  • To Mars and Pallas leave the deeds of arms;
  • Jove’s angry with thee, when thy unmanaged rage
  • With those that overmatch thee doth engage;*

differ not in substance but bear plainly the same sense with that philosophical sentence, Know thyself. And these,

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  • Fools, who by wrong seek to augment their store,
  • And know not how much half than all is more;
  • Of counsel giv’n to mischievous intents,
  • The man that gives it most of all repents;*

are of near kin to what we find in the determination of Plato, in his books entitled Gorgias and Concerning the Commonwealth, to wit, that it is worse to do than to suffer injury, and that a man more endamageth himself when he hurts another, than he would be damnified if he were the sufferer. And that of Aeschylus,

  • Cheer up, friend; sorrows, when they highest climb,
  • What they exceed in measure want in time,

we must inform them, is but the same famous sentence which is so much admired in Epicurus, that great griefs are but short, and those that are of long continuance are but small. The former clause whereof is that which Aeschylus here saith expressly, and the latter but the consequent of that. For if a great and intense sorrow do not last, then that which doth last is not great nor hard to be borne. And those words of Thespis,

  • Seest not how Jove, — because he cannot lie
  • Nor vaunt nor laugh at impious drollery,
  • And pleasure’s charms are things to him unknown, —
  • Among the Gods wears the imperial crown?

wherein differ they from what Plato says, that the divine nature is seated far from both joy and grief? And that saying of Bacchylides,

  • Virtue alone doth lasting honor gain,
  • But men of wretched souls oft wealth attain;

and those of Euripides much of the same import,

  • Hence temperance in my esteem excels,
  • Because it constantly with good men dwells;
  • How much soe’er to honor thou aspire,
  • And strive by riches virtue to acquire,
  • Still shall thy lot to good men wretched seem;
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do they not evidently confirm to us what the philosophers say of riches and other external good things, that without virtue they are fruitless and unprofitable enjoyments?

Now thus to accommodate and reconcile poetry to the doctrines of philosophy strips it of its fabulous and personated parts, and makes those things which it delivers usefully to acquire also the reputation of gravity; and over and above, it inclines the soul of a young man to receive the impressions of philosophical precepts. For he will hereby be enabled to come to them not altogether destitute of some sort of relish of them, not as to things that he has heard nothing of before, nor with an head confusedly full of the false notions which he hath sucked in from the daily tattle of his mother and nurse, — yea, sometimes too of his father and pedant, — who have been wont to speak of rich men as the happy men and mention them always with honor, and to express themselves concerning death and pain with horror, and to look on virtue without riches and glory as a thing of nought and not to be desired. Whence it comes to pass, that when such youths first do hear things of a quite contrary nature from philosophers, they are surprised with a kind of amazement, trouble, and stupid astonishment, which makes them afraid to entertain or endure them, except they be dealt with as those who come out of very great darkness into the light of the bright sun, that is, be first accustomed for a while to behold those doctrines in fabulous authors, as in a kind of false light, which hath but a moderate brightness and is easy to be looked on and borne without disturbance to the weak sight. For having before heard or read from poets such things as these are, —

  • Mourn at one’s birth, as th’ inlet t’ all that grieves;
  • But joy at death, as that which man relieves;
  • Of worldly things a mortal needs but twain;
  • The spring supplies his drink, the earth his grain:
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  • O tyranny, to barbarous nations dear!
  • This in all human happiness is chief,
  • To know as little as we can of grief;*

they are the less disturbed and offended when they hear from philosophers that no man ought to be much concerned about death; that the riches of nature are defined and limited; that the happiness of man’s life doth not consist in the abundance of wealth or vastness of employments or height of authority and power, but in freedom from sorrow, in moderation of passions, and in such a temper of mind as measures all things by the use of Nature.

Wherefore, upon all these accounts, as well as for all the reasons before mentioned, youth stands in need of good government to manage it in the reading of poetry, that being free from all prejudicate opinions, and rather instructed beforehand in conformity thereunto, it may with more calmness, friendliness, and familiarity pass from thence to the study of philosophy.

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ModernGreek: 1. Envy and hatred are passions so like each other that they are often taken for the same. And generally, vice has (as it were) many hooks, whereby it gives unto those passions that hang thereto many opportunities to be twisted and entangled with one another; for as differing diseases of the body agree in many like causes and effects, so do the disturbances of the mind. He who is in prosperity is equally an occasion of grief to the envious and to the malicious man; therefore we look upon benevolence, which is a willing our neighbor’s good, as an opposite to both envy and hatred, and fancy these two to be the same because they have a contrary purpose to that of love. But their resemblances make them not so much one as their unlikeness makes them distinct. Therefore we endeavor to describe each of them apart, beginning at the original of either passion.

ModernGreek: 2. Hatred proceeds from an opinion that the person we hate is evil, if not generally so, at least in particular to us. For they who think themselves injured are apt to hate the author of their wrong; yea, even those who are reputed injurious or malicious to others than ourselves we usually nauseate and abhor. But envy has only one sort of object, the felicity of others. Whence it becomes infinite, and, like an evil or diseased eye, is offended with every thing that is bright. On the other hand, hatred is always determined by the subject it adheres to.

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ModernGreek: 3. Secondly, hatred may be conceived even against brutes; for there are some men who have an antipathy to cats or beetles or toads or serpents. Germanicus could endure neither the crowing nor the sight of a cock; and the Persian Magi were killers of mice, as creatures which they both hated themselves and accounted odious to God. In like manner also all the Arabians and Ethiopians abhor them. But envy is purely a human passion, and directed only against man.

ModernGreek: 4. Envy is not likely to be found among brutes, whose fancies are not moved by the apprehensions of each other’s good or evil; neither can they be spirited with the notions of glorious or dishonorable, by which envy is chiefly stirred up. Yet they have mutual hatred; they kill each other, and wage most incredible wars. The eagles and the dragons fight, the crows and the owls, yea, the little titmouse and linnet; insomuch that it is said, the very blood of these creatures, when slain, will by no means be mixed; but though you would temper them together, they will immediately separate again. The lion also vehemently hates the cock, and the elephant the hog; but this probably proceeds from fear; for what they fear, the same are they inclined to hate.

We see then herein a great difference betwixt envy and hate, that the one is natural to brutes, but they are not at all capable of the other.

ModernGreek: 5. Further, envy is always unjust; for none wrong by being happy, and upon this sole account they are envied. But hatred is often just; for there are some men so much to be avoided and disliked, that we should judge those worthy to be hated themselves who do not shun and detest them. And of this it is no weak evidence, that many will acknowledge they hate, but none will confess they envy; and hatred of the evil is registered amongst laudable things.

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Therefore, as some were commending Charillus, the nephew of Lycurgus and king of Sparta, for his universally mild and gentle disposition, — How, answered his colleague, can Charillus be a virtuous person, who is pleasing even to the vicious? So the poet too, when he had variously and with an infinite curiosity described the deformities of Thersites’s body, easily couched all the baseness of his manners in a word, —

Most hateful to Achilles and Ulysses too;

for to be an enemy to the good is the greatest extravagance of vice.

Men will deny the envy; and when it is alleged, will feign a thousand excuses, pretending they were angry, or that they feared or hated the person, cloaking envy with the name of any passion they can think of, and concealing it as the most loathsome sickness of the soul.

ModernGreek: 6. Moreover, these disturbances of the mind, like plants, must be nourished and augmented by the same roots from which they spring; therefore hatred increases as the persons hated grow worse, while envy swells bigger as the envied rise higher in the true braveries of virtue. Upon this consideration Themistocles, whilst he was yet young, said that he had done nothing gallant, for he was not yet envied. And we know that, as the cantharis is most busy with ripe fruits and roses in their beauty, so envy is most employed about the eminently good and those who are glorious in their places and esteem.

Again, extreme badness makes hatred more vehement and bitter. The Athenians therefore had so utter an abhorrence of those who accused Socrates, that they would neither lend them fire, nor answer them any question, nor wash with them in the same water, but commanded the servants to pour it out as polluted; till these sycophants, Edition: current; Page: [98] no longer able to bear up under the pressure of this hatred, put an end to their own lives.

Yet envy often gives place to the splendor of a matchless prosperity. For it is not likely that any envied Alexander or Cyrus, when they arrived at the height of their conquests and became lords of all. But as the sun, where he passes highest and sends down his beams most directly, has none or very little shadow, so they who are exalted to the meridian of fortune, shining aloof over the head of envy, have scarce any thing of their brightness eclipsed, while envy retires, being driven away by the brightness overspreading it.

On the contrary, hatred is not vanquished by the greatness and glory of its objects. For though Alexander had not one to envy him, yet he had many haters, by whose treacheries at last he fell. So, on the other side, misfortunes cause envy to cease, but take not enmity away; for men will be malicious even toward abject enemies, but none envy the distressed. However, what was said by one of our Sophists, that the envious are tenderly inclinable to pity, is true; and in this appears a great unlikeness of these passions, that hatred leaves neither the happy nor the miserable, but envy becomes languid when its object has either prosperity or adversity in excess.

ModernGreek: 7. We shall better understand this from the poising them together.

Men let go their enmity and hatred, when either they are persuaded they were not injured at all, or if they now believe them to be good whom before they hated as evil, or, lastly, when they are appeased by the insinuations of a benefit received. For as Thucydides saith, A later service or good turn, if it be done at the right moment, will take away the ill resenting of a former fault, though this was greater than the recompense.*

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Yet the first of these removes not envy, for men will persist in this vice, though they know they are not wronged; and the two latter (the esteem or credit of a person, and the bestowing a favor) do exasperate it more. For they most envy the virtuous, as those who are in possession of the chiefest good; and when they receive a kindness from any in prosperity, it is with reluctance, as though they grudged them not only the power but the will of conferring it; the one of which comes from their happy fortune, the other from their virtue. Both are good. Therefore envy is an entirely distinct affection from hatred, since, as we see, the very things that appease the one only rouse and exasperate the other.

ModernGreek: 8. Now let us consider a little the inclination and bent of either passion.

The design of hatred is to endamage; and hence they define it, an insidious desire and purpose of doing hurt. But envy aims not at this. Many envy their familiars and kinsfolk, but have no thoughts of their ruin nor of so much as bringing any troubles upon them; only their felicity is a burden. Though they will perhaps diminish their glory and splendor what they can, yet they endeavor not their utter subversion; being, as it were, content to pull down so much only of an high stately house as hindered the light and obscured them with too great a shade.

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ModernGreek: 1. Plato is of opinion that it is very pardonable in a man to acknowledge that he has any extraordinary passion for himself; and yet the humor is attended with this ill consequent, besides several others, that it renders us incapable of making a right judgment of ourselves. For our affections usually blind our discerning faculties, unless we have learned to raise them above the sordid level of things congenial and familiar to us, to those which are truly noble and excellent in themselves. And hence it is that we are so frequently exposed to the attempts of a parasite, under the disguise and vizard of a friend. For self-love, that grand flatterer within, willingly entertains another from without, who will but soothe up and second the man in the good opinions he has conceived of himself. For he who deservedly lies under the character of one that loves to be flattered is doubtless sufficiently fond of himself: and through abundance of complaisance to his own person, not only wishes but thinks himself master of all those perfections which may recommend him to others. And though indeed it be laudable enough to covet such accomplishments, yet is it altogether unsafe for any man to fancy them inherent in him.

Now, if truth be a ray of the divinity, as Plato says it is, and the source of all the good that derives upon either Gods or men, then certainly the flatterer must be looked Edition: current; Page: [101] upon as a public enemy to all the Gods, and especially to Apollo; for he always acts counter to that celebrated oracle of his, Know thyself, endeavoring to make every man his own cheat, by keeping him ignorant of the good and ill qualities that are in him; whereupon the good never arrive at perfection, and the ill grow incorrigible.

ModernGreek: 2. Did flattery, indeed, as most other misfortunes do, generally or altogether wait on the debauched and ignoble part of mankind, the mischief were of less consequence, and might admit of an easier prevention. But, as worms breed most in sweet and tender woods, so usually the most obliging, the most brave and generous tempers readiliest receive and longest entertain the flattering insect that hangs and grows upon them. And since, to use Simonides’s expression, it is not for persons of a narrow fortune, but for gentlemen of estates, to keep a good stable of horses; so never saw we flattery the attendant of the poor, the inglorious and inconsiderable plebeian, but of the grandees of the world, the distemper and bane of great families and affairs, the plague in kings’ chambers, and the ruin of their kingdoms. Therefore it is a business of no small importance, and one which requires no ordinary circumspection, so to be able to know a flatterer in every shape he assumes, that the counterfeit resemblance some time or other bring not true friendship itself into suspicion and disrepute. For parasites, — like lice, which desert a dying man, whose palled and vapid blood can feed them no longer, — never intermix in dry and insipid business where there is nothing to be got; but prey upon a noble quarry, the ministers of state and potentates of the earth, and afterwards lousily shirk off, if the greatness of their fortune chance to leave them. But it will not be wisdom in us to stay till such fatal junctures, and then try the experiment, which will not only be useless but dangerous and hurtful; for it is a deplorable thing for a man to find himself then destitute Edition: current; Page: [102] of friends, when he most wants them, and has no opportunity either of exchanging his false and faithless friend for a fast and honest one. And therefore we should rather try our friend, as we do our money, whether or not he be passable and current, before we need him. For it is not enough to discover the cheat to our cost, but we must so understand the flatterer, that he put no cheat upon us; otherwise we should act like those who must needs take poison to know its strength, and foolishly hazard their lives to inform their judgment. And as we cannot approve of this carelessness, so neither can we of that too scrupulous humor of those who, taking the measures of true friendship only from the bare honesty and usefulness of the man, immediately suspect a pleasant and easy conversation for a cheat. For a friend is not a dull tasteless thing, nor does the decorum of friendship consist in sourness and austerity of temper, but its very port and gravity is soft and amiable, —

Where Love and all the Graces do reside.*

For it is not only a comfort to the afflicted,

To enjoy the courtesy of his kindest friend,

as Euripides speaks; but friendship extends itself to both fortunes, as well brightens and adorns prosperity as allays the sorrows that attend adversity. And as Evenus used to say that fire makes the best sauce, so friendship, wherewith God has seasoned the circumstances of our mortality, gives a relish to every condition, renders them all easy, sweet, and agreeable enough. And indeed, did not the laws of friendship admit of a little pleasantry and good humor, why should the parasite insinuate himself under that disguise? And yet he, as counterfeit gold imitates the brightness and lustre of the true, always puts on the easiness and freedom of a friend, is always pleasant and obliging, and ready to comply with the humor of his company. And therefore it Edition: current; Page: [103] is no way reasonable either, to look upon every just character that is given us as a piece of flattery; for certainly a due and seasonable commendation is as much the duty of one friend to another as a pertinent and serious reprehension; nay indeed, a sour querulous temper is perfectly repugnant to the laws of friendship and conversation; whereas a man takes a chiding patiently from a friend who is as ready to praise his virtues as to animadvert upon his vices, willingly persuading himself that mere necessity obliged him to reprimand, whom kindness had first moved to commend.

ModernGreek: 3. Why then, some may say, it is infinitely difficult at this rate to distinguish a flatterer from a friend, since there is no apparent difference either betwixt the satisfaction they create or the praises they bestow. Nay, it is observable, that a parasite is frequently more obsequious and obliging than a friend himself. Well, the way then to discover the disparity? Why, I will tell you; if you would learn the character of a true subtle flatterer, who nicks his point secundum artem, you must not, with the vulgar, mistake those sordid smell-feasts and poor trencherslaves for your men, who begin to prate as soon as they have washed their hands in order to dinner, as one says of them, and ere they are well warmed with a good cut of the first dish and a glass of wine, betray the narrow soul that acts them by the nauseous and fulsome buffoonery they vent at table. For sure it needed no great sagacity to detect the flattery of Melanthius, the parasite of Alexander of Pherae, who, being asked how his master was murdered, made answer, With a thrust which went in at his side, but into my belly. Nor must we, again, confine our notions of flatterers to those sharping fellows who ply about rich men’s tables, whom neither fire nor sword nor porter can keep from supper; nor yet to such as were those female parasites of Cyprus, who going into Edition: current; Page: [104] Syria were nick-named Steps, because they cringed so to the great ladies of that country that they mounted their chariots on their backs.

ModernGreek: 4. Well, but after all, who is this flatterer then, whom we ought so industriously to avoid?

I answer: He who neither professes nor seems to flatter; who never haunts your kitchen, is never observed to watch the dial that he may nick your supper-time; who won’t drink to excess, but will keep his brains about him; who is prying and inquisitive, would mix in your business, and wind himself into your secrets: in short, he who acts the friend, not with the air of a comedian or a satirist, but with the port and gravity of a tragedian. For, as Plato says, It is the height of injustice to appear just and be really a knave. So are we to look upon those flatterers as most dangerous who walk not barefaced but in disguise, who make no sport but mind their business; for these often personate the true and sincere friend so exactly, that it is enough to make him fall under the like suspicion of a cheat, unless we be extremely curious in remarking the difference betwixt them. It is storied of Gobryas (one of the Persian nobility, who joined with Darius against the Magi), that he pursued one of them into a dark room, and there fell upon him; during the scuffle Darius came in and drew upon the enemy, but durst not push at him, lest perhaps he might wound his confederate Gobryas with the thrust; whereupon Gobryas bade him, rather than fail, run both through together. But since we can by no means admit of that vulgar saying, Let my friend perish, so my enemy perish with him, but had rather still endeavor at the discovery of a parasite from a friend, notwithstanding the nearness of the resemblance, we ought to use our utmost care, lest at any time we indifferently reject the good with the bad, or unadvisedly retain the bad with the good, the friend and flatterer Edition: current; Page: [105] together. For as those wild grains which usually grow up with wheat, and are of the same figure and bigness with it, are not easily winnowed from it, — for they either cannot pass through the holes of the sieve, if narrow, or pass together with the wheat, if larger, — so is it infinitely difficult to distinguish flattery from friendship, because the one so exquisitely mixes with all the passions, humors, interests, and inclinations of the other.

ModernGreek: 5. Now because the enjoyment of a friend is attended with the greatest satisfaction incident to humanity, therefore the flatterer always endeavors to entrap us by rendering his conversation highly pleasant and agreeable. Again, because all acts of kindness and mutual beneficence are the constant attendants upon true friendship (on which account we usually say, A friend is more necessary than fire or water), therefore the flatterer is ready upon every occasion to obtrude his service upon you, and will with an indefatigable bustle and zeal seek to oblige you if he can.

In the next place, the parasite observes that all true friendship takes its origin from a concurrence of like humors and inclinations, and that the same passions, the same aversions and desires, are the first cement of a true and lasting friendship. He therefore composes his nature, like unformed matter, striving to fit and adapt it by imitation to the person on whom he designs, that it may be pliant and yielding to any impression that he shall think fit to stamp upon it; and, in fine, he so neatly resembles the original, that one would swear, —

Sure thou the very Achilles art, and not his son.

But the most exquisite fineness of a flatterer consists in his imitation of that freedom of discourse which friends particularly use in mutually reprehending each other. For finding that men usually take it for what it really is, the natural language of friendship, as peculiar to it as certain Edition: current; Page: [106] notes or voices are to certain animals, and that, on the contrary, a shy sheepish reservedness looks both rude and unfriendly, he lets not even this proper character of a friend escape his imitation. But as skilful cooks use to correct luscious meats with sharp and poignant sauce, that they may not be so apt to overcharge the stomach; so he seasons his flattery now and then with a little smartness and severity, lest the fulsomeness of repeated dissimulation should pall and cloy the company. And yet his reprehensions always carry something in them that looks not true and genuine; he seems to do it, but with a kind of a sneering and grinning countenance at the best; and though his reproofs may possibly tickle the ear, yet they never strike effectually upon the heart. On these accounts then it is as difficult to discern a flatterer from a friend, as to know those animals again which always wear the livery of the last thing they touch upon. And therefore, since he puts so easily upon us under the disguise and appearance of a friend, it will be our business at present to unmask the hypocrite, and show him in other men’s shapes and colors, as Plato speaks, since he has none properly his own.

ModernGreek: 6. Well then, let us enquire regularly into this affair. We have already asserted, that friendship generally takes its rise from a conformity of tempers and dispositions, whereby different persons come to have the same taste of the like humors, customs, studies, exercises, and employs, as these following verses import: —

  • Old men with old, and boys with boys agree;
  • And women’s clack with women’s company.
  • Men that are crazy, full of sores and pain,
  • Love to diseased persons to complain.
  • And they who labor under adverse fate,
  • Tell their sad stories to th’ unfortunate.

The flatterer then, observing how congenial it is to our natures to delight in the conversation of those who are, as Edition: current; Page: [107] it were, the counterpart of ourselves, makes his first approaches to our affections at this avenue, where he gradually advances (like one making towards a wild beast in a pasture, with a design to tame and bring it to hand) by accommodating himself to the same studies, business, and color of life with the person upon whom he designs, till at last the latter gives him an opportunity to catch him, and becomes tractable by the man who strokes him. All this while the flatterer falls foul upon those courses of life, persons, and things he perceives his cully to disapprove, and again as extravagantly commends those he is pleased to honor with his approbation, still persuading him that his choice and dislike are the results of a solid and discerning judgment and not of passion.

ModernGreek: 7. Well, then, by what signs or tokens shall we be able to know this counterfeit copy of ourselves from a true and genuine likeness?

In the first place, we must accurately remark upon the whole tenor of his life and conversation, whether or not the resemblance he pretends to the original be of any continuance, natural and easy, and all of a piece; whether he square his actions according to any one steady and uniform model, as becomes an ingenuous lover of conversation and friendship, which is all of one thread, and still like itself; for this is a true friend indeed. But the flatterer, who has no principles in him, and leads not a life properly his own, but forms and moulds it according to the various humors and caprices of those he designs to bubble, is never one and the same man, but a mere dapple or trimmer, who changes shapes with his company, like water that always turns and winds itself into the figure of the channel through which it flows. Apes, it seems, are usually caught by their antic mimicry of the motions and gesticulations of men; and yet the men themselves are trepanned by the same craft of imitation in a flatterer, Edition: current; Page: [108] who adapts himself to their several humors, fencing and wrestling with one, singing and dancing with another. If he is in chase of a spark that delights in a pack of dogs, he follows him at the heels, hollowing almost like Phaedra,

  • O what a pleasure ’tis, ye Gods, to wind
  • The shrill-mouthed horn and chase the dappled hind;*

and yet the hunter himself is the game he designs for the toils. If he be in pursuit of some bookish young gentleman, then he is always a poring, he nourishes his reverend beard down to his heels, wears a tattered cloak, affects the careless indifference of a philosopher, and can now discourse of nothing under Plato’s triangles and rectangles. If he chance to fall into the acquaintance of a drunken, idle debauchee who has got an estate,

Then sly Ulysses throws away his rags,

puts off his long robe, mows down his fruitless crop of beard, drinks briskly, laughs modishly on the walks, and drolls handsomely upon the philosophical fops of the town. And thus, they say, it happened at Syracuse; for when Plato first arrived there and Dionysius was wonderfully hot upon the study of philosophy, all the areas in the king’s palace were full of nothing but dust and sand, by reason of the great concourse of geometricians who came to draw their figures and demonstrate there. But no sooner was Plato in disgrace at court, and Dionysius finally fallen from philosophy to wine and women, trifles and intemperance, than learning fell into a general disrepute, and the whole body of the people, as if bewitched by some Circe or other, became universally stupid, idle, and infatuated. Besides this, I appeal to the practices of men notorious for flattery and popularity to back my observation. Witness he who topped them all, Alcibiades, who, when he dwelt at Athens, was as arch and witty as any Athenian of them all, kept Edition: current; Page: [109] his stable of horses, played the good fellow, and was universally obliging; and yet the same man at Sparta shaved close to the skin, wore his cloak, and never bathed but in cold water. When he sojourned in Thrace, he drank and fought like a Thracian; and again, in Tissaphernes’s company in Asia, he acted the part of a soft, arrogant, and voluptuous Asiatic. And thus, by an easy compliance with the humors and customs of the people amongst whom he conversed, he made himself master of their affections and interests. So did not the brave Epaminondas nor Agesilaus, who, though they had to do with great variety of men and manners, and cities of vastly different politics, were still the same men, and everywhere, through the whole circle of their conversation, maintained a port and character worthy of themselves. And so was Plato the same man at Syracuse that he was in the Academy, the same in Dionysius’s court that he was in Dion’s.

ModernGreek: 8. But he who will take the pains to act the dissembler himself, by interchangeably decrying and extolling the same things, discourses, and ways of living, will easily perceive that the opinions of a flatterer are as mutable and inconstant as the colors of a polypus, that he is never consonant to himself nor properly his own man; that all his passions, his love and hatred, his joy and sorrow, are borrowed and counterfeit; and that, in a word, like a mirror, he only receives and represents the several faces or images of other men’s affections and humors. Do but discommend one of your acquaintance a little in his company, and he will tell you it is a wonder you never found him out all this while, for his part he never fancied him in his life. Change but your style and commend him, he presently swears you oblige him in it, gives you a thousand thanks for the gentleman’s sake, and believes your character of him to be just. Tell him you have thoughts of altering your course of life, as for instance, to retire from all public employs to privacy and Edition: current; Page: [110] ease; he immediately wishes that he had retreated long ago from the hurry and drudgery of business and the odium that attends it. Seem but again inclinable to an active life; Why now, says he, you speak like yourself; leisure and ease are sweet, it is true, but withal mean and inglorious. When you have thus trepanned him, it would be proper to cashier him with some such reply as this: —

How now, my friend! What, quite another man!*

I abhor a fellow who servilely complies with whatsoever I propose, and keeps pace with me in all my motions, — my shadow can do that better than yourself, — but my friend must deal plainly and impartially, and assist me faithfully with his judgment. And thus you see one way of discerning a flatterer from a friend.

ModernGreek: 9. Another difference observable betwixt them in the resemblance they bear to each other is, that a true friend will not rashly commend nor imitate every thing, but only what really deserves it; for, as Sophocles says,

He shares with him his loves, but not his hates,

and will scorn to bear any part with him in any base and dishonorable actions, unless, as people sometimes catch blear eyes, he may chance insensibly to contract some ill habit or other by the very contagion of familiarity and conversation. Thus they say Plato’s acquaintance learned his stoop, Aristotle’s his lisp, and Alexander’s the inclination of his neck and the rapidity of his speech. For some persons, ere they are aware, get a touch of the humors and infirmities of those with whom they converse. But now as a true friend endeavors only to copy the fairest originals, so, on the contrary, the flatterer, like the chameleon, which puts on all colors but the innocent white, being unable to reach those strokes of virtue which are worth his imitation, takes care that no failure or imperfection escape him. As unskilful Edition: current; Page: [111] painters, when they cannot hit the features and air of a face, content themselves with the faint resemblance in a wrinkle, a wart, or a scar, so he takes up with his friend’s intemperance, superstition, cholericness, severity to his servants, distrust of his relations and domestics or the like. For, besides that a natural propensity to evil inclines him always to follow the worst examples, he imagines his assuming other men’s vices will best secure him from the suspicion of being disaffected towards them; for their fidelity is often suspected who seem dissatisfied with faults and wish a reformation. Which very thing lost Dion in the good opinion of Dionysius, Samius in Philip’s, Cleomenes in Ptolemy’s, and at last proved the occasion of their ruin. And therefore the flatterer pretends not only to the good humor of a companion, but to the faithfulness of a friend too, and would be thought to have so great a respect for you that he cannot be disgusted at the very worst of your actions, being indeed of the same make and constitution with yourself. Hence you shall have him pretend a share in the most common casualties that befall another, nay, in complaisance, feign even diseases themselves. In company of those who are thick of hearing, he is presently half deaf, and with the dim-sighted can see no more than they do. So the parasites about Dionysius at an entertainment, to humor his blindness, stumbled one upon another and jostled the dishes off his table.

But there are others who refine upon the former by a pretended fellow-suffering in the more private concernments of life, whereby they wriggle themselves deeper into the affections of those they flatter; as, if they find a man unhappily married, or distrustful of his children or domestics, they spare not their own family, but immediately entertain you with some lamentable story of the hard fortune they have met with in their children, their wife, their servants, or relations. For, by the parallel circumstances they pretend Edition: current; Page: [112] to, they seem more passionately concerned for the misfortunes of their friends, who, as if they had already received some pawn and assurance of their fidelity, blab forth those secrets which they cannot afterwards handsomely retract, and dare not betray the least distrust of their new confidant for the future. I myself knew a man who turned his wife out of doors because a gentleman of his acquaintance divorced his, though the latter lady smelt the intrigue afterwards by the messages the flatterer sent to his wife after the pretended divorce and the private visits he was observed to make her. So little did he understand the flatterer who took these following verses for the description of a crab rather than his: —

  • The shapeless thing’s all over paunch and gut:
  • Who can the monster’s mighty hunger glut?
  • It crawls on teeth, and with a watchful eye
  • Does into every secret corner pry.

For this is the true portraiture of those sharpers, who, as Eupolis speaks, sponge upon their acquaintance for a dinner.

ModernGreek: 10. But we will reserve these remarks for a more proper place. In the mean time I must not omit the other artifice observable in his imitation, which is this: that if at any time he counterfeit the good qualities of his friend, he immediately yields him the pre-eminence; whereas there is no competition, no emulation or envy amongst true friends, but whether they are equally accomplished or not, they bear the same even unconcerned temper of mind towards each other. But the flatterer, remembering that he is but to act another’s part, pretends only to such strokes as fall short of the original, and is willing to confess himself outdone in any thing but his vices, wherein alone he claims the precedency to himself; as, if the man he is to wheedle be difficult and morose, he is quite overrun with choler; if something superstitious, he is a perfect enthusiast; if a Edition: current; Page: [113] little in love, for his part he is most desperately smitten. I laughed heartily at such a passage, says one; But I had like to have died with laughter, says the other. But now in speaking of any laudable qualities, he inverts his style; as, I can run fast enough, says he, but you perfectly fly. I can sit an horse tolerably well, but alas! what’s that to this Hippocentaur for good horsemanship? I have a tolerable good genius for poetry, and am none of the worst versifiers of the age;

But thunder is the language of you Gods, not mine.

And thus at the same time he obliges his friend both in approving of his abilities by his owning of them, and in confessing him incomparable in his way by himself coming short of his example. These then are the distinguishing characters of a friend and flatterer, as far as concerns the counterfeit resemblance betwixt them.

ModernGreek: 11. But because, as we have before observed, it is common to them both to please (for a good man is no less taken with the company of his friends than an ill one is with a flatterer’s), let us discriminate them here too. And the way will be to have an eye to the end to which they direct the satisfaction they create, which may be thus illustrated. Your perfumed oils have a fine odoriferous scent, and so, it may be, have some medicines too; but with this difference, that the former are prepared barely for the gratification of the sense, whilst the other, besides their odor, purge, heal, and fatten. Again, the colors used by painters are certainly very florid and the mixture agreeable; and yet so it is in some medicinal compositions too. Wherein then lies the difference? Why, in the end or use for which they are designed, the one purely for pleasure the other for profit. In like manner the civilities of one friend to another, besides the main point of their honesty and mutual advantage, are always attended with an overplus of delight and satisfaction. Edition: current; Page: [114] Nay, they can now and then indulge themselves the liberty of an innocent diversion, a collation, or a glass of wine, and, believe me, can be as cheerful and jocund as the best; all which they use only as sauce, to give a relish to the more serious and weighty concernments of life. To which purpose was that of the poet,

With pleasing chat they did delight each other;

as likewise this too,

Nothing could part our pleasure or our love.*

But the whole business and design of a flatterer is continually to entertain the company with some pastime or other, a little jest, a story well told, or a comical action; and, in a word, he thinks he can never overact the diverting part of conversation. Whereas the true friend, proposing no other end to himself than the bare discharge of his duty, is sometimes pleasant, and as often, it may be, disagreeable, neither solicitously coveting the one, nor industriously avoiding the other, if he judge it the more seasonable and expedient. For as a physician, if need require, will throw in a little saffron or spikenard to qualify his patient’s dose, and will now and then bathe him and feed him up curiously, and yet again another time will prescribe him castor,

  • Or poley, which the strongest scent doth yield
  • Of all the physic plants which clothe the field,

or perhaps will oblige him to drink an infusion of hellebore, — proposing neither the deliciousness of the one nor the nauseousness of the other as his scope and design, but only conducting him by these different methods to one and the same end, the recovery of his health, — in like manner the real friend sometimes leads his man gently on to virtue by kindness, by pleasing and extolling him, as he in Homer,

Edition: current; Page: [115]
  • Dear Teucer, thou who art in high command,
  • Thus draw the bow with thy unerring hand;

and as another speaking of Ulysses,

  • How can I doubt, while great Ulysses stands
  • To lend his counsel and assist our hands?

and again, when he sees correction requisite, he will check him severely, as,

  • Whither, O Menelaus, wouldst thou run,
  • And tempt a fate which prudence bids thee shun?*

and perhaps he is forced another time to second his words with actions, as Menedemus reclaimed his friend Asclepiades’s son, a dissolute and debauched young gentleman, by shutting his doors upon him and not vouchsafing to speak to him. And Arcesilaus forbade Battus his school for having abused Cleanthes in a comedy of his, but after he had made satisfaction and an acknowledgment of his fault, took him into favor again. For we ought to grieve and afflict our friend with design merely of serving him, not of making a rupture betwixt us, and must apply our reprehensions only as pungent and acute medicines, with no other intent than the recovery of the patient. And therefore a friend — like a skilful musician who, to tune his instrument, winds up one string and lets down another — grants some things and refuses others according as their honesty or usefulness prompt him, whereby he often pleases, but is sure always to profit; whereas the parasite, who is continually upon the same humoring string, knows not how to let fall a cross word or commit a disobliging action, but servilely complies with all your desires, and is always in the tune you ask for. And therefore, as Xenophon reports of Agesilaus that he took some delight in being praised by those who would upon occasion dispraise him too, so ought we to judge that only he rejoices and pleases us really as a Edition: current; Page: [116] friend, who will, when need requires, thwart and contradict us; we must suspect their conversation who aim at nothing but our gratification, without the least intermixture of reprehension; and indeed we ought to have ready upon such occasions that repartee of a Lacedaemonian who, hearing King Charillus highly extolled for an excellent person, asked, How he could be so good a man, who was never severe to an ill one?

ModernGreek: 12. They tell us that gad-flies creep into the ears of bulls, and ticks into those of dogs. But I am sure the parasite lays so close siege and sticks so fast to the ears of the ambitious with the repeated praises of their worth, that it is no easy matter to shake him off again. And therefore it highly concerns them to have their apprehensions awake and upon the guard, critically to remark whether the high characters such men lavish out are intended for the person or the thing they would be thought to commend. And we may indeed suppose them more peculiarly designed for the things themselves, if they bestow them on persons absent rather than present; if they covet and aspire after the same qualities themselves which they magnify in others; if they admire the same perfections in the rest of mankind as well as in us, and are never found to falter and belie, either in word or action, the sentiments they have owned. And, what is the surest criterion in this case, we are to examine whether or no we are not really troubled at or ashamed of the commission of those very things for which they applaud us, and could not wish that we had said or acted the quite contrary; for our own consciences, which are above the reach of passion and will not be put upon by all the sly artifices of flattery, will witness against us and spurn at an undeserved commendation. But I know not how it comes to pass, that several persons had rather be pitied than comforted in adversity; and when they have committed a fault, look Edition: current; Page: [117] upon those as enemies and informers who endeavor to chide and lecture them into a sense of their guilt, but caress and embrace them as friends who soothe them up in their vices. Indeed they who continue their applauses to so inconsiderable a thing as a single action, a wise saying, or a smart jest, do only a little present mischief; but they who from single acts proceed to debauch even the habits of the mind with their immoderate praises are like those treacherous servants who, not content to rob the common heap in the granary, filch even that which was chosen and reserved for seed. For, whilst they entitle vice to the name of virtue, they corrupt that prolific principle of action, the genius and disposition of the soul, and poison the fountain whence the whole stream of life derives. Thucydides observes, that in the time of war and sedition the names of good and evil are wont to be confounded according to men’s judgment of circumstances; as, fool-hardiness is called a generous espousal of a friend’s quarrel, a provident delay is nicknamed cowardice, modesty a mere pretext for unmanliness, a prudent slow inspection into things downright laziness.* In like manner, if you observe it, a flatterer terms a profuse man liberal, a timorous man wary, a mad fellow quick and prompt, a stingy miser frugal, an amorous youngster kind and good-natured, a passionate proud fool stout, and a mean-spirited slave courteous and observing. As Plato somewhere remarks, that a lover who is always a flatterer of his beloved object styles a flat nose lovely and graceful, an hawk nose princely, the black manly, and the fair the offspring of the Gods; and observes particularly that the appellation of honey-pale is nothing but the daub of a gallant who is willing to set off his mistress’s pale complexion. Now indeed an ugly fellow bantered into an opinion that he is handsome, or a little man magnified into tall and portly, Edition: current; Page: [118] cannot lie long under the mistake nor receive any great injury by the cheat; but when vice is extolled by the name of virtue, so that a man is induced to sin not only without regret but with joy and triumph, and is hardened beyond the modesty of a blush for his enormities, this sort of flattery, I say, has been fatal even to whole kingdoms. It was this that ruined Sicily, by styling the tyranny of Dionysius and Phalaris nothing but justice and a hatred of villanous practices. It was this that overthrew Egypt, by palliating the king’s effeminacy, his yellings, his enthusiastic rants, and his beating of drums, with the more plausible names of true religion and the worship of the Gods. It was this that had very nigh ruined the stanch Roman temper, by extenuating the voluptuousness, the luxury, the sumptuous shows, and public profuseness of Antony, into the softer terms of humanity, good nature, and the generosity of a gentleman who knew how to use the greatness of his fortune. What but the charms of flattery made Ptolemy turn piper and fiddler? What else put on Nero’s buskins and brought him on the stage? Have we not known several princes, if they sung a tolerable treble, termed Apollos; when they drank stoutly, styled Bacchuses; and upon wrestling, fencing, or the like, immediately dubbed by the name of Hercules, and hurried on by those empty titles to the commission of those acts which were infinitely beneath the dignity of their character?

ModernGreek: 13. And therefore it will be then more especially our concern to look about us when a flatterer is upon the strain of praising; which he is sensible enough of, and accordingly avoids all occasion of suspicion when he attacks us on that side. If indeed he meets with a tawdry fop, or a dull country clown in a leathern jacket, he plays upon him with all the liberty imaginable; as Struthias by way of flattery insulted and triumphed over the sottishness Edition: current; Page: [119] of Bias, when he told him that he had out drunk King Alexander himself, and that he was ready to die of laughter at his encounter with the Cyprian. But if he chance to fall upon an apprehensive man, who can presently smoke a design, especially if he thinks he has an eye upon him and stands upon his guard, he does not immediately assault him with an open panegyric, but first fetches a compass, and softly winds about him, till he has in some measure tamed the untractable creature and brought it to his hand. For he either tells him what high characters he has heard of him abroad (introducing, as the rhetoricians do, some third person), how upon the exchange the other day he happily overheard some strangers and persons of great gravity and worth, who spake extreme honorably of him and professed themselves much his admirers; or else he forges some frivolous and false accusation of him, and then coming in all haste, as if he had heard it really reported, asks him seriously, if he can call to mind where he said or did such a thing. And immediately upon his denial of the matter of fact, which he has reason enough to expect, he takes occasion to fall upon the subject of his commendation; I wondered indeed, says he, to hear that you should calumniate your friend, who never used to speak ill of your enemies; that you should endeavor to rob another man of his estate, who so generously spend your own.

ModernGreek: 14. Others again, like painters who enhance the lustre and beauty of a curious piece by the shades which surround it, slyly extol and encourage men in their vices by deriding and railing at their contrary virtues. Thus, in the company of the debauched, the covetous, and the extortioner, they run down temperance and modesty as mere rusticity; and justice and contentment with our present condition argue nothing in their phrase but a dastardly spirit and an impotence to action. If they fall into the Edition: current; Page: [120] acquaintance of lubbers who love laziness and ease, they stick not to explode the necessary administration of public affairs as a troublesome intermeddling in other men’s business, and a desire to bear office as an useless empty thirst after a name. To wheedle in with an orator, they scout a philosopher; and who so gracious as they with the jilts of the town, by laughing at wives who are faithful to their husbands’ beds as impotent and country-bred? And, what is the most egregious stratagem of all the rest, the flatterer shall traduce himself rather than want a fair opportunity to commend another; as wrestlers put their body in a low posture, that they may the better worst their adversaries. I am a very coward at sea, says he, impatient of any fatigue, and cannot digest the least ill language; but my good friend here fears no colors, can endure all hardness, is an admirable good man, bears all things with great patience and evenness of temper. If he meets with one who abounds in his own sense and affects to appear rigid and singular in his judgment, and, as an argument of the rectitude and steadiness thereof, is always telling you of that of Homer,

  • Let not your praise or dispraise lavish be,
  • Good Diomedes, when you speak of me,*

he applies a new engine to move this great weight. To such a one he imparts some of his private concerns, as being willing to advise with the ablest counsel: he has indeed a more intimate acquaintance with others, but he was forced to trouble him at present: for to whom should we poor witless men have recourse (says he) when we stand in need of advice? Or whom else should we trust? And as soon as he has delivered his opinion, whether it be to the purpose or not, he takes his leave of him with a seeming satisfaction, as if he had received an answer from an oracle. Again, if he perceives a man pretends to be master Edition: current; Page: [121] of a style, he presently presents him with something of his own composing, requesting him to peruse and correct it. Thus Mithridates could no sooner set up for a physician, than some of his acquaintance desired to be cut and cauterized by him, — a piece of flattery that extended beyond the fallacy of bare words, — they imagining that he must needs take it as an argument of their great opinion of his skill, that they durst trust themselves in his hands.

For things divine take many shapes.*

Now to discover the cheat which these insinuations of our own worth might put upon us (a thing that requires no ordinary circumspection), the best way will be to give him a very absurd advice, and to animadvert as impertinently as may be upon his works when he submits them to your censure. For if he makes no reply, but grants and approves of all you assert, and applauds every period with the eulogy of Very right! Incomparably well! — then you have trepanned him, and it is plain that, though

  • He counsel asked, he played another game,
  • To swell you with the opinion of a name.

ModernGreek: 15. But to proceed. As some have defined painting to be mute poetry, so there is a sort of silent flattery which has its peculiar commendation. For as hunters are then surest of their game when they pass under the disguise of travellers, shepherds or husbandmen, and seem not at all intent upon their sport; so the eulogies of a parasite never take more effectually than when he seems least of all to commend you. For he who rises up to a rich man when he comes in company, or who, having begun a motion in the Senate, suddenly breaks off and gives some leading man the liberty of speaking his sense first in the point, such a man’s silence more effectually shows the deference he pays the other’s judgment than if he had avowedly proclaimed it. And hereupon you shall have them always Edition: current; Page: [122] placed in the boxes at the play-house, and perched upon the highest seats at other public entertainments; not that they think them suitable to their quality, but merely for the opportunity of gratifying great men by giving them place. Hence it is likewise, that they open first in all solemn and public assemblies, only that they may give place to another as an abler speaker, and they retract their opinion immediately, if any person of authority, riches, or quality contradict them. So that you may perceive all their concessions, cringes, and respects to be but mere courtship and complaisance, by this easy observation, that they are usually paid to riches, honor, or the like, rather than to age, art, virtue, or other personal endowments.

Thus dealt not Apelles with Megabyzus (one of the Persian nobility), who pretending once to talk I know not what about lines, shades, and other things peculiar to his art, the painter could not but take him up, telling him that his apprentices yonder, who were grinding colors, gazed strangely upon him, admiring his gold and purple ornaments, while he held his tongue, but now could not choose but titter to hear him offer at a discourse upon an argument so much out of his sphere. And when Croesus asked Solon his opinion of felicity, he told him flatly, that he looked upon Tellus, an honest though obscure Athenian, and Biton and Cleobis, as happier than he. But the flatterer will have kings, governors, and men of estates, not only the most signally happy, but the most eminently knowing, the most virtuous, and the most prudent of mankind.

ModernGreek: 16. And now some cannot endure to hear the Stoics, who centre all true riches, generosity, nobility, and royalty itself in the person of a wise man; but with the flatterer it is the man of money that is both orator and poet, and, if he pleases, painter and fiddler too, a good wrestler, an excellent footman, or any thing, for they never stand with Edition: current; Page: [123] him for the victory in those engagements; as Crisson, who had the honor to run with Alexander, let him designedly win the race, which the king being told of afterwards was highly disgusted at him. And therefore I like the observation of Carneades, who used to say that young princes and noblemen never arrived to a tolerable perfection in any thing they learned, except riding; for their preceptors spoil them at school by extolling all their performances, and their wrestling-masters by always taking the foil; whereas the horse, who knows no distinction betwixt a private man and a magistrate, betwixt the rich and the poor, will certainly throw his rider if he knows not how to sit him, let him be of what quality he pleases. And therefore it was but impertinently said of Bion upon this subject, that he who could praise his ground into a good crop were to blame if he bestowed any other tillage upon it. ’Tis granted: nor is it improper to commend a man, if you do him any real kindness thereby. But here is the disparity: that a field cannot be made worse by any commendations bestowed upon it, whereas a man immoderately praised is puffed up, burst, and ruined by it.

ModernGreek: 17. Thus much then for the point of praising; proceed we in the next place to treat of freedom in their reprehensions. And indeed, it were but reasonable that, — as Patroclus put on Achilles’s armor and led his war-horse out into the field, yet durst not for all that venture to wield his spear, — so, though the flatterer wear all the other badges and ensigns of a friend, he should not dare to counterfeit the plain frankness of his discourse, as being “a great, massy, and substantial weapon,” peculiar to him.*

But because, to avoid that scandal and offence which their drunken bouts, their little jests, and ludicrous babling humor might otherwise create, they sometimes put on the face of gravity, and flatter under the vizard of a frown, Edition: current; Page: [124] dropping in now and then a word of correction and reproof, let us examine this cheat too amongst the rest.

And indeed I can compare that trifling insignificant liberty of speech to which he pretends to nothing better than that sham Hercules which Menander introduces in one of his comedies, with a light hollow club upon his shoulder; for, as women’s pillows, which seem sufficiently stuffed to bear up their heads, yield and sink under their weight, so this counterfeit freedom in a flatterer’s conversation swells big and promises fair, that when it shrinks and contracts itself it may draw those in with it who lay any stress upon its outward appearance. Whereas the genuine and friendly reprehension fixes upon real criminals, causing them grief and trouble indeed, but only what is wholesome and salutary; like honey that corrodes but yet cleanses the ulcerous parts of the body, and is otherwise both pleasant and profitable. But of this in its proper place. We shall discourse at present of the flatterer who affects a morose, angry, and inexorable behavior towards all but those upon whom he designs, is peevish and difficult towards his servants, animadverts severely upon the failures of his relations and domestics, neither admires nor respects a stranger but superciliously contemns him, pardons no man, but by stories and complaints exasperates one against another, thinking by these means to acquire the character of an irreconcilable enemy to all manner of vice, that he may be thought one who would not spare his favorites themselves upon occasion, and would neither act nor speak any thing out of a mean and dastardly complaisance.

And if at any time he undertakes his friend, he feigns himself a mere stranger to his real and considerable crimes; but if he catch him in some petty trifling peccadillo, there he takes his occasion to rant him terribly and thunder him severely off; as, if he see any of his goods out of order, if his house be not very convenient, if his Edition: current; Page: [125] beard be not shaven or his clothes unfashionable, if his dog or his horse be not well looked after. But if he slight his parents, neglect his children, treat his wife scornfully, his friends and acquaintance disrespectfully, and squander away his estate, here he dares not open his mouth, and it is the safest way to hold his tongue. Just as if the master of a wrestling-school should indulge his young champion scholar in drinking and wenching, and yet rattle him about his oil-cruise and body-brush; or as if a schoolmaster should severely reprove a boy for some little fault in his pen or writing-book, but take no notice of the barbarisms and solecisms in his language. For the parasite is like him who hearing a ridiculous impertinent orator finds no fault with his discourse but delivery, blaming him only for having hurt his throat with drinking cold water; or like one who, being to peruse and correct some pitiful scribble, falls foul only upon the coarseness of the paper and the blots and negligence of the transcriber. Thus the parasites about Ptolemy, when he pretended to learning, would wrangle with him till midnight about the propriety of an expression, a verse, or a story; but not a word all this while of his cruelty, insults, superstition, and oppressions of the people. Just as if a chirurgeon should pare a man’s nails or cut his hair, to cure him of a fistula, wen, or other carnous excrescence.

ModernGreek: 18. But there are others behind, who outdo all the subtlety of the former, such as can claw and please, even whilst they seem to reprehend. Thus when Alexander had bestowed some considerable reward upon a jester, Agis the Argive, through mere envy and vexation, cried out upon it as a most absurd action; which the king overhearing, he turned him about in great indignation at the insolence, saying, What’s that you prate, sirrah? Why truly, replied the man, I must confess, I am not a little troubled to observe, that all you great men who are descended Edition: current; Page: [126] from Jupiter take a strange delight in flatterers and buffoons; for as Hercules had his Cercopians and Bacchus his Silenuses about him, so I see your majesty is pleased to have a regard for such pleasant fellows too. And one time when Tiberius Caesar was present at the senate, there stood up a certain fawning counsellor, asserting that all free-born subjects ought to have the liberty of speaking their sense freely, and should not dissemble or conceal any thing that they might conceive beneficial to the public; who, having thus awakened the attention of his audience, silence being made, and Tiberius impatient to hear the sequel of the man’s discourse, pursued it in this manner: I must tell you of a fault, Caesar, said he, for which we universally blame you, though no man yet has taken the confidence to speak it openly. You neglect yourself, endanger your sacred person by your too much labor and care, night and day, for the public. And he having harangued several things to the same effect, it is reported that Cassius Severus the orator subjoined: This man’s freedom of speech will ruin him.

ModernGreek: 19. Such artifices as these, I confess, are not very pernicious, but there remains one of a most dangerous consequence to weak men; and that is when a flatterer fastens those vices upon them which are directly contrary to those they are really guilty of. As Himerius, an Athenian parasite, upbraided one of the most miserable and stingy misers of the whole town with carelessness and prodigality, telling him he was afraid he should live to see the day when both he and his children should go a begging. Or, on the contrary, when they object niggardliness and parsimony to one that is lavish and profuse, as Titus Petronius did to Nero. Or when they advise arbitrary and tyrannical princes to lay aside their too much moderation and their unprofitable and unseasonable clemency. And like to these are they who shall pretend to be afraid of a Edition: current; Page: [127] half-witted idiot, as of some notable shrewd fellow; and shall tax an ill-natured censorious man, if at any time he speak honorably of a person of worth, of being too lavish in his commendations. You are always, say they, praising men that deserve it not; for who is he, or what remarkable thing did he ever say or do? But they have yet a more signal opportunity of exercising their talent, when they meet with any difference betwixt lovers or friends; for if they see brothers quarrel, or children despise their parents, or husbands jealous of their wives, they neither admonish them nor blame them for it, but inflame the difference. You don’t understand yourself, say they; you are the occasion of all this clutter by your own soft and submissive behavior. If there chance to have happened some little love-skirmish betwixt a miss and her gallant, then the flatterer interposes boldly and adds fresh fuel to the expiring flame, taking the gentleman to task, and telling him how many things he has done which looked a little hard, were not kind, and deserved a chiding.

  • Ungrateful man! can you forget her charms,
  • And former soft embraces in her arms?*

Thus Antony’s friends persuaded him, when he was smitten with his beloved Cleopatra, that she doted on him, still calling him haughty and hard-hearted man. She, said they, has stripped herself of the glories of a crown and former grandeur, and now languishes with the love of you, attending the motion of your camp in the poor sordid figure of a concubine.

  • But you have steeled your heart, and can unmoved
  • Behold her grief, whom once you so much loved.

Now he was strangely pleased to hear of his little unkindness to his mistress, and was more taken with such a chiding than with the highest character they could have given him; but was not sensible that, under the color of Edition: current; Page: [128] a friendly admonition, they really corrupted and debauched him. For such a rebuke as this is just like the bites of a lecherous woman, for it only tickles and provokes, and pleases even whilst it pains you. And as pure wine taken singly is an excellent antidote against hemlock, but if mixed with it renders the poison incurable, because the heat of the wine quickens its circulation to the heart; so some rascally fellows, knowing very well that the liberty of reproving a friend is a quality very hardly compatible with flattery, and, as I may say, the best remedy against it, mix them both together, and flatter you under the very color and pretext of reprimanding you.

Upon the whole thereof, Bias seems not to have answered him very pertinently, who asked him which he thought was the most hurtful animal, when he replied, Of wild creatures a tyrant, and of tame ones a flatterer. For he might have answered more accurately, that some flatterers indeed are tame creatures, those shirks who ply about your bath and your table; but they whose calumnies, malignity, and inquisitive meddling humor, like so many gins and snares, reach the ladies’ very closets and bed-chambers, are wild, savage, and untractable.

ModernGreek: 20. Now one way of arming ourselves against these assaults will be always to remember that, — since our souls are made up of two different parts, the one sincere, honest, and reasonable, the other brutish, false, and governed by passion, — the friend always adapts his advice and admonitions to the improvement of the better part (like a good physician, who preserves and advances an healthful constitution where he finds it), whilst the flatterer claws and tickles the irrational part of the man only, debauching it from the rules of right reason by the repeated suggestion of soft and sensual delights. For as there are some sorts of meat which assimilate neither with the blood nor with the spirits, and invigorate neither Edition: current; Page: [129] the nerves nor the marrow, but only provoke lust, swell the paunch, and breed putrid flabby flesh; so he who shall give himself the labor to observe will find that the discourses of a flatterer contribute nothing to the improvement of our prudence and understanding, but either only entertain us with the pleasure of some love-intrigue, or make us indiscreetly angry or envious, or blow us up into an empty troublesome opinion of ourselves, or increase our sorrows by pretending to share in them; or else they exasperate any inbred naughtiness that is in us, or our illiberality or distrustfulness, making them harsh, timorous, and jealous, with idle malicious stories, hints, and conjectures of his own. For he always fastens upon and pampers some distemper of the mind, growing, like a botch or bile, upon its inflamed or putrid part only. Are you angry? Revenge yourself, says he. Covet you any thing? Have it. Are you afraid? Fly. Suspect you this or that? Believe it.

But if we find it something difficult to discover him in these attempts upon our passions, because they often violently overpower all the forces of our reason to the contrary, we may then trace him in other instances of his knavery; for he always acts consonant to himself. As, if you are afraid of a surfeit and thereupon are in suspense about your bath and diet, a friend indeed will advise you to act cautiously and take care of your health; but the flatterer persuades you to the bath, bids you feed freely and not starve yourself with mortification. If he observes you want briskness and spirit for action, as being unwilling to undergo the fatigue of a journey or a voyage, he will tell you presently, there is no haste; the business may be well enough deferred, or else transacted by proxy. If at any time you have promised to lend or give a friend a sum of money, and upon second thoughts gladly would, and yet are ashamed to retract your word, the flatterer puts his Edition: current; Page: [130] advice in the worse scale, and inclines the balance to the saving side, and strips you of your squeamish modesty, telling you that you ought not to be so prodigal, who live at great expense and have others to relieve besides him. And therefore, unless we be mere strangers to ourselves, — to our own covetousness, shamelessness, or timidity, — the flatterer cannot easily escape our discovery; for he is the great patron of these disorderly passions, endeavoring always to wind us up to excesses of this kind. But enough of this.

ModernGreek: 21. Let us in the next place discourse of the useful and kind offices which the flatterer seems cheerfully ready upon every occasion to perform, thereby rendering the disparity betwixt him and the true friend extremely perplexed and intricate.

For the temper of a friend, like the language of truth, is (as Euripides says) sincere, natural, without paint or varnish; but that of a flatterer, as it is corrupt and diseased in itself, so stands in need of many curious and exquisite remedies to correct it.* And therefore you shall have friends upon an accidental rencounter, without either giving or receiving a formal salute, content themselves to speak their mutual kindness and familiarity in a nod and a smile; but the flatterer pursues you, runs to meet you, and extends his hand long before he comes at you; and if you chance but to see and salute him first, he swears you must excuse his rudeness, and will produce you witness that he did not see you, if you please. Thus again, a friend dwells not upon every trifling punctilio, is not ceremonious and punctual in the transacting of business, is not inquisitive, and does not intrude into every piece of service; but the parasite is all obedience, all perpetual indefatigable industry, admits no rival in his services, but will wait your commands, which if Edition: current; Page: [131] you lay not upon him, he seems mightily afflicted, the unhappiest man in the world!

ModernGreek: 22. Now these observations are argument enough to convince a man of any tolerable sense, that the friendship such men pretend to is not really virtuous and chaste, but rather a sort of impudent whorish love that obtrudes its embraces upon you.

But, to be more particular, let us first examine the disparity betwixt their promises. For our forefathers well observed, that the offers of a friend run in such terms as these:

  • If I can serve you, sir, if your request
  • Be feasible by me, I’ll do my best;

but the flatterer’s thus:

Command me freely what you will, I’ll do it.*

For the comedians introduce such brave promises as these:

  • Come, sir, let me but fight that fellow there;
  • I’ll beat him soft as sponge or jellies are.

Besides, no real friend will assist in the execution of a design, unless, being first advised with, he approve of it as either honest or useful. Whereas the flatterer, though permitted to consult and give his opinion about an undertaking, not only out of a paltry desire to comply with and gratify his friend at any rate, but lest he should be looked upon as disaffected to the business, servilely closes with and advances his proposal, how unreasonable soever. For there are few rich men or princes of this mind:

  • Give me a friend, though a poor beggar he,
  • Or meaner than the meanest beggar be,
  • If he his thoughts but freely will impart,
  • And boldly speak the language of his heart;

for they, like actors in a tragedy, must have a chorus of their friends to join with them in the concert, or else the Edition: current; Page: [132] claps of the pit to encourage them. Whereupon Merope in the tragedy speaks thus:

  • Make choice of those for friends, who never knew
  • The arts of wheedling and betraying you;
  • But those poor rascals never entertain,
  • Who please you only with design to gain.*

But alas! they invert the counsel, and abominate those who deal freely with them and advise them obstinately for the best, whilst pitiful cringing cheats and impostors are admitted not only into their houses, but into their affections and the nearest concernments of their life. You shall have some of them indeed more plain and simple than the rest, who confess themselves unworthy to consult about such weighty affairs, but are ready to serve you in the executive part of a design. But the more subtle hypocrite comes in at the consult, knits his brows, declares his consent by the gravity of a look or a nod, but speaks never a word, unless perchance, when the great man delivers his opinion, he cries, Lord! sir, you prevented me; I was just going to say so. For, as the mathematicians tell us that surfaces and lines, which are incorporeal and creatures of the understanding only, are neither bended nor moved nor extended of themselves, but are so affected together with the bodies whose extremities they are; so you shall observe the flatterer attends only the motion of another’s sense, opinion, or passion, without any principle of action in himself. So that the disparity betwixt them thus far is easily discernible.

And yet more easily in the manner they perform their good offices. For the kindness s of a friend, like an animate creature, have their most proper virtues deep within, without any parade or pageantry on the outside. Nay, many times, as a faithful physician cures his patient when he least knows of it, so a true friend, either present or Edition: current; Page: [133] absent, as occasion serves, is solicitous about your concerns, when perhaps you know nothing of it. Such was the excellent Arcesilaus, as in his other actions, so particularly in his kindness to Apelles, native of Chios, whom finding extremely indigent in his sickness, he repeated his visit to him with twenty drachms in his pocket; and sitting by his bedside, You have got nothing here, said he, but Empedocles’s elements, fire, water, earth, and the surrounding air; neither, methinks, do you lie easily. And with that, stirring up his pillow, he put the money privately under his head; which when the good old woman his nurse found and in great wonder acquainted Apelles with, Aye, says he, smiling a little, this is a piece of Arcesilaus’s thievery. And the saying that children resemble their parents is found true also in philosophy. For when Cephisocrates was impeached of high treason, and Lacydes, an intimate acquaintance of Arcesilaus, with several others of his friends, stood by him at his trial, the counsel for the state desired that the prisoner’s ring, wherein lay the principal evidence against him, might be produced in court; which Cephisocrates hearing dropped it softly off his finger, and Lacydes observing it set his foot upon it and buried it in the ground. Whereupon being acquitted, and going afterwards to pay his respects and thanks to his judges, one of them (who, it seems, had taken notice of the passages) told him that his thanks were owing to Lacydes, and so related the whole story, when yet Lacydes had never mentioned it.

Thus I am varily persuaded the Gods confer several benefits upon us which we are not sensible of, upon no other motive in the world than the mere pleasure and satisfaction they take in acts of kindness and beneficence.

But on the contrary, the seemingly good offices of a flatterer have nothing of that sincerity and integrity, that simplicity and ingenuousness, which recommend a kindness, but Edition: current; Page: [134] are always attended with bustle and noise, hurry, sweat and contracting the brow, to enhance your opinion of the great pains he has taken for you; like a picture drawn in gaudy colors, with folded torn garments, and full of angles and wrinkles, to make us believe it an elaborate piece and done to the life.

Besides, the flatterer is so extremely troublesome in recounting the weary steps he has taken, the cares he has had upon him, the persons he has been forced to disoblige, with a thousand other inconveniencies he has labored under upon your account, that you will be apt to say, The business was never worth all this din and clutter about it.

For a kindness once upbraided loses its grace, turns a burden, and becomes intolerable. But the flatterer not only reproaches us with his services already past, but at the very instant of their performance; whereas, if a friend be obliged to speak of any civility done another, he modestly mentions it indeed, but attributes nothing to himself. Thus, when the Lacedaemonians supplied the people of Smyrna in great scarcity of provisions, and they gratefully resented and extolled the kindness; Why, replied the Spartans, it was no such great matter, we only robbed ourselves and our cattle of a dinner. For a favor thus bestowed is not only free and ingenuous, but more acceptable to the receiver, because he imagines his benefactor conferred it on him without any great prejudice to himself.

ModernGreek: 23. But the temper of a flatterer is discernible from that of a friend not only in the easiness of his promises and the troublesome impertinence that attends his good offices, but more signally in this, that the one is ready to promote any base and unworthy action, the other those only which are fair and honest. The one labors to please, the other to profit you. For a friend must not, as Gorgias would have him, beg another’s assistance in a just undertaking, and Edition: current; Page: [135] then think to compensate the civility by contributing to several that are unjust.

In wisdom, not in folly, should they join.

And if, after all, he cannot prevail upon him, he may disengage himself with the reply of Phocion to Antipater; Sir, I cannot be both your friend and your flatterer, — that is, Your friend and not your friend at the same time. For we ought to be assistant to him in his honest endeavors indeed, but not in his knaveries; in his counsels, not in his tricks; in appearing as evidence for him, but not in a cheat; and must bear a share in his misfortunes, but not in his acts of injustice. For if a man ought not to be as much as conscious of any unworthiness in his friend, how much less will it become him to partake in it? Therefore, as the Lacedaemonians, defeated and treating of articles of peace with Antipater, prayed him to command them any thing, howsoever grievous and burthensome to the subject, provided it were not base and dishonorable; so a friend, if you want his assistance in a chargeable, dangerous, and laborious enterprise, embarks in the design cheerfully and without reserve; but if such as will not stand with his reputation and honor, he fairly desires to be excused. Whereas, on the contrary, if you offer to put a flatterer upon a difficult or hazardous employment, he shuffles you off and begs your pardon. For but sound him, as you rap a vessel to try whether it be whole or cracked, full or empty; and he shams you off with the noise of some paltry, frivolous excuses. But engage him in any mean, sordid, and inglorious service, abuse him, kick him, trample on him, he bears all patiently and knows no affront. For as the ape, who cannot keep the house like a dog or bear a burden like an horse or plough like an ox, serves to be abused, to play the buffoon, and to make sport; so the parasite, who can neither plead your cause nor be your Edition: current; Page: [136] counsel nor espouse your quarrel, as being averse from all painful and good offices, denies you in nothing that may contribute to your pleasure, turns pander to your lust, pimps for a whore, provides you an handsome entertainment, looks that your bill be reasonable, and sneaks to your miss; but he shall treat your relations with disrespect and impudently turn your wife out of doors, if you commission him. So that you may easily discover him in this particular. For put him upon the most base and dirty actions; he will not spare his own pains, provided he can but gratify you.

ModernGreek: 24. There remains yet another way to discover him by his inclinations towards your intimates and familiars. For there is nothing more agreeable to a true and cordial acquaintance than to love and to be beloved with many; and therefore he always sedulously endeavors to gain his friend the affections and esteem of other men. For being of opinion that all things ought to be in common amongst friends, he thinks nothing ought to be more so than they themselves. But the faithless, the adulterate friend of base alloy, who is conscious to himself of the disservice he does true friendship by that false coin of it which he puts upon us, is naturally full of emulation and envy, even towards those of his own profession, endeavoring to outdo them in their common talent of babbling and buffoonry, whilst he reveres and cringes to his betters, whom he dares no more vie with than a footman with a Lydian chariot, or lead (to use Simonides’s expression) with refined gold. Therefore this light and empty counterfeit, finding he wants weight when put into the balance against a solid and substantial friend, endeavors to remove him as far as he can, like him who, having painted a cock extremely ill, commanded his servant to take the original out of sight; and if he cannot compass his design, then he proceeds to compliment and ceremony, pretending outwardly to admire him as a Edition: current; Page: [137] person far beyond himself, whilst by secret calumnies he blackens and undermines him. And if these chance to have galled and fretted him only and have not thoroughly done their work, then he betakes himself to the advice of Medius, that arch parasite and enemy to the Macedonian nobility, and chief of all that numerous train which Alexander entertained in his court. This man taught his disciples to slander boldly and push home their calumnies; for, though the wound might probably be cured and skinned over again, yet the teeth of slander would be sure to leave a scar behind them. By these scars, or (to speak more properly) gangrenes and cancers of false accusations, fell the brave Callisthenes, Parmenio, and Philotas; whilst Alexander himself became an easy prey to an Agnon, Bagoas, Agesias, and Demetrius, who tricked him up like a barbarian statue, and paid the mortal the adoration due to a God. So great a charm is flattery, and, as it seems, the greatest with those we think the greatest men; for the exalted thoughts they entertain of themselves, and the desire of a universal concurrence in the same opinion from others, both add courage to the flatterer and credit to his impostures. Hills and mountains indeed are not easily taken by stratagem or ambuscade; but a weak mind, swollen big and lofty by fortune, birth, or the like, lies naked to the assaults of every mean and petty aggressor.

ModernGreek: 25. And therefore we repeat here what we advised at our entrance into this discourse, that we cashier every vain opinion of ourselves and all self-love. For their inbred flattery only disposes and prepares us to a more favorable reception of that from without. For, if we did but square our actions according to the famous oracular precept of knowing ourselves, rate things according to their true intrinsic value, and withal, reflecting upon our own nature and education, consider what gross imperfections and failures mix with our words, actions, and affections, we should not lie so Edition: current; Page: [138] open to the attempts of every flatterer who designs upon us. For even Alexander himself, being reminded of his mortality by two things especially, the necessity of sleep and the use of women, began to stagger in the opinion they had made him conceive of his godhead. And did we in like manner but take an impartial survey of those troubles, lapses, and infirmities incident to our nature, we should find we stood in no need of a friend to praise and extol our virtues, but of one rather that would chide and reprimand us for our vices. For first, there are but few who will venture to deal thus roundly and impartially with their friends, and fewer yet who know the art of it, men generally mistaking railing and ill language for a decent and friendly reproof. And then a chiding, like any other physic, if ill-timed, racks and torments you to no purpose, and works in a manner the same effect with pain that flattery does with pleasure. For an unseasonable reprehension may be equally mischievous with an unseasonable commendation, and force your friend to throw himself upon the flatterer; like water which, leaving the too precipitous and rugged hills, rolls down upon the humble valleys below. And therefore we ought to qualify and allay the sharpness of our reproofs with a due temper of candor and moderation, — as we would soften light which is too powerful for a distempered eye, — lest our friends, being plagued and ranted upon every trivial occasion, should at last fly to the flatterer’s shade for their ease and quiet. For all vice, Philopappus, is to be corrected by an intermediate virtue, and not by its contrary extreme, as some do who, to shake off that sheepish bashfulness which hangs upon their natures, learn to be impudent; to lay aside their country breeding, endeavor to be comical; to avoid the imputation of softness and cowardice, turn bullies; out of an abhorrence of superstition, commence atheists; and rather than be reputed fools, play the knave; forcing their Edition: current; Page: [139] inclinations, like a crooked stick, to the opposite extreme, for want of skill to set them straight.

But it is highly rude to endeavor to avoid the suspicion of flattery by only being insignificantly troublesome, and it argues an ungenteel, unconversable temper in a man to show his just abhorrency of mean and servile ends in his friendship only by a sour and disagreeable behavior; like the freedman in the comedy, who would needs persuade himself that his railing accusation fell within the limits of that freedom in discourse which every one had right to with his equals. Since therefore it is absurd to incur the suspicion of a flatterer by an over-obliging and obsequious humor, and as absurd, on the other hand, in endeavoring to decline it by an immoderate latitude in our apprehensions, to lose the enjoyments and salutary admonitions of a friendly conversation, and since the measures of what is just and proper in this, as in other things, are to be taken from decency and moderation; the nature of the argument seems to require me to conclude it with a discourse upon this subject.

ModernGreek: 26. Now seeing this liberty of animadverting on other men’s failures is liable to so many exceptions, let us in the first place carefully purge it from all mixture of self-love and interest, lest any private motive, injury, grudge, or dissatisfaction of our own should seem to incite us to the undertaking. For such a chiding as this would not pass for an effect of kindness but of passion, and looks more like complaint than an admonition; for the latter has always something in it that sounds kind and yet awful, whereas the other betrays only a selfish and narrow disposition. And therefore we usually honor and revere our monitor, but contemn and recriminate upon a querulous accuser. As Agamemnon could by no means digest the moderate censures of Achilles, yet bore well enough with the severer reprimand of Ulysses,

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  • O were thy sway the curse of meaner powers,
  • And thou the shame of any host but ours!*

being satisfied of his wisdom and good intentions; for he rated him purely upon the account of the public, the other upon his own. And Achilles himself, though of a rough and untractable disposition and ready enough to find faults where there were none, yet heard Patroclus patiently when he ranted him thus:

  • Unpitying man! no Peleus caused thy birth,
  • Nor did the tender Thetis bring thee forth;
  • But rocks, hard as thy heart, and th’ angry sea
  • Clubbed to produce a monstrous man like thee.

For as Hyperides the orator desired the Athenians to consider not only whether his reflections were sharp, but also whether his sharpness was disinterested and incorrupt; so the reproofs of a friend, if they proceed from a sincere and disinterested affection, create veneration, awe, and confusion in the criminal to whom they are addressed. And if he once perceive that his friend, waiving all offences against himself, chides him purely for those committed against others, he can never hold out against the force of so powerful a rebuke; for the sweet and obliging temper of his monitor gives a keener edge to his admonitions. And therefore it has been wisely said, that especially in heats and differences with our friends we ought to have a peculiar regard to their honor and interest. Nor is it a less argument of friendship, for a man who is laid aside and out of favor himself to turn advocate in behalf of another equally despised and neglected; as Plato being in disgrace with Dionysius begged audience of him, which he readily granting in expectation of being entertained with an account of his grievances, Plato addressed himself to him after this manner: Sir, said he, if you were informed there were a certain ruffian come over into your island of Sicily with design to attempt upon your majesty’s person, Edition: current; Page: [141] but for want of an opportunity could not execute the villany, would you suffer him to go off unpunished? No, by no means, Plato, replied the king; for we ought to detest and revenge not only the overt acts but the malicious intentions of our enemies. Well then, on the other hand, said Plato, if there should come a person to court out of pure kindness and ambition to serve your majesty, and you would not give him an opportunity of expressing it, were it reasonable to dismiss him with scorn and disrespect? Whom do you mean, said Dionysius? Why, Aeschines, replied Plato, as honest and excellent a person as any in the school of Socrates, and of a very edifying conversation; who, having exposed himself to the difficulties of a tedious voyage that he might enjoy the happiness of a philosophical converse with your majesty, has met with nothing but contempt in return to the kindness he intended. This friendly and generous temper of mind so strangely affected Dionysius, that he hugged and embraced Plato, and treated Aeschines with a great deal of honor and magnificence.

ModernGreek: 27. In the next place, let us free our discourse from all contumelious language, all laughter, mockery, and scurrility, which spoil the relish of our reprehensions. For, as when a chirurgeon makes an incision in the flesh he uses decent neatness and dexterity in the operation, without the affected and superfluous gesticulations of a quack or mountebank, so the lancing the sores of a friend may admit indeed of a little humor and urbanity, but that so qualified that it spoil not the seriousness and gravity requisite to the work. For boldness, insolence, and ill language destroy its force and efficacy. And therefore the fiddler reparteed handsomely enough upon Philip, when he undertook to dispute with him about the touch upon his instrument: God forbid that your majesty should be so unhappy as to understand a fiddle better than I do. But Epicharmus was too blunt upon Hiero, who invited him to Edition: current; Page: [142] supper a little after he had put some of his acquaintance to death, when he replied, Aye, but you could not invite me the other day to the sacrifice of my friends. And so was Antiphon too rude in his reflection upon Dionysius, when, on occasion of a discourse about the best sort of bronze, he told him that was the best in his opinion of which the Athenians made statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton. For these scurrilous abusive jests are most certainly disagreeable and pain to no purpose, being but the product of an intemperate wit, and betraying the enmity and ill-nature of him who takes the liberty to use them; and whosoever allows himself in them does but wantonly sport about the brink of that pit which one day will swallow him up. For Antiphon was afterward executed under Dionysius; and Timagenes was in disgrace with Angustus Caesar, not for any extravagant freedom in his discourse, but only because he had taken up a foolish custom of never talking seriously but always scurrilously at every entertainment and walk where the emperor desired his company, —

Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim;*

alleging the pleasantness of his humor as the cause of his favor at court.

Thus you shall meet with several smart and satirical reflections in a comedy; but the mixture of jest and fool in the play, like ill sauce to good meat, abates their poignancy and renders them insignificant; so that, upon the whole, the poet acquires only the character of a saucy and foul-mouthed buffoon, and the auditors lose that advantage which they might otherwise reap from remarks of that nature.

We may do well therefore to reserve our jollity and mirth for more suitable occasions, but we must by all Edition: current; Page: [143] means be serious and candid in our admonitions; which, if they be upon important points, must be so animated with our gestures, passion, and eagerness of voice, as to give them weight and credit and so awaken a tender concern in the persons to whom they are addressed.

We are again to time our reproofs as seasonably as we can; for a mistake in the opportunities, as it is of ill consequence in all other things, is so peculiarly in our reprehensions. And therefore, I presume, it is manifest, we ought not to fall foul upon men in their drink. For first, he who broaches any sour disagreeable discourse amidst the pleasantry and good humor of friends casts a cloud over the serenity of the company, and acts counter to the God Lysius,* who, as Pindar words it, unties the band of all our cares. Besides, such unseasonable remonstrances are not without danger; for wine is apt to warm men into passion, and make them quarrel at the freedom you take. And in short, it is no argument of any brave and generous, but rather of an unmanly temper, not to dare to speak one’s sense when men are sober, but to keep barking like a cowardly cur at table. And therefore we need not enlarge any further upon this topic.

ModernGreek: 28. But because several persons neither will nor dare take their friends to task whilst they thrive and flourish in the world, looking upon prosperity as a state above the reach of a rebuke, but pour forth their invectives like a river that has overflown its banks, insulting and trampling upon them, when Fortune has already laid them at their feet, out of a sort of satisfaction to see their former state and grandeur reduced to the same level of fortune with themselves; it may not be improper to discourse a little upon this argument, and make some reply to that question of Euripides, —

What need is there of friends when Fortune smiles?

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I answer, to lower those lofty and extravagant thoughts which are usually incident to that condition; for wisdom in conjunction with prosperity is a rare talent and the lot of but few. Therefore most men stand in need of a borrowed prudence, to depress the tumors that attend an exuberant felicity; but when the turn of Fortune itself has abated the swelling, a man’s very circumstances are sufficient of themselves to read him a lecture of repentance, so that all other grave and austere corrections are then superfluous and impertinent; and it is on the contrary more proper in such traverses of Fortune to enjoy the company of a compassionate friend,* who will administer some comfort to the afflicted and buoy him up under the pressure of his affairs. So Xenophon relates that the presence of Clearchus, a person of a courteous and obliging aspect, gave new life and courage to his soldiers in the heat of a battle or any other difficult rencounter. But he who chides and upbraids a man in distress, like him who applies a medicine for clearing the sight to a distempered and inflamed eye, neither works a cure nor allays the pain, but only adds anger to his sorrows and exasperates the patient. A man in health indeed will digest a friendly lecture for his wenching, drinking, idleness, continual recreations and bathing, or unseasonable eating; but for a sick man to be told that all this comes of his intemperance, voluptuousness, high feeding, or whoring, is utterly insupportable and worse than the disease itself. O impertinent man! will such a one say, the physicians prescribe me castor and scammony, and I am just making my last will and testament, and do you lie railing and preaching to me lectures of philosophy? And thus men in adversity stand more in need of our humanity and relief than of sharp and sententious reprimands. For neither will a nurse immediately scold at her child that is fallen, but first help him up, Edition: current; Page: [145] wash him, and put him in order again, and then chide and whip him. They tell us a story to this purpose of Demetrius Phalereus, that, when he dwelt an exile at Thebes in mean beggarly circumstances, he was once extremely concerned to observe the philosopher Crates making towards him, expecting to be treated by him with all the roughness of a cynical behavior. But when Crates had addressed himself courteously to him, and discoursed him upon the point of exile, endeavoring to convince him that it had nothing miserable or uneasy in it, but on the contrary rather rescued him from the nice and hazardous management of public affairs, — advising him withal to repose his confidence in himself and his own conscience, — Demetrius was so taken and encouraged by his discourse, that he is reported to have said to his friends, Cursed be those employs which robbed me so long of the acquaintance of such an excellent person. For

  • Soft, friendly words revive th’ afflicted soul;
  • But sharp rebukes are only for a fool.

And this is the way of generous and ingenuous friends. But they who servilely admire you in prosperity, — like old fractures and sprains, which (as Demosthenes* speaks) always ache and pain us when some fresh disease has befallen the body, — stick close to you in the revolution of your fortune, and rejoice and enjoy the change. Whereas, if a man must needs have a remembrancer of a calamity which his own indiscretion hath pulled upon him, it is enough you put him in mind that he owes it not to your advice, for you often dissuaded him from the undertaking.

ModernGreek: 29. Well then, you say, when is a keen reprehension allowable, and when may we chide a friend severely indeed? I answer, when some important occasion requires it, as the stopping him in the career of his voluptuousness, anger, or insolence, the repressing his covetous humor or Edition: current; Page: [146] any other foolish habit. Thus dealt Solon with Croesus, puffed up and debauched with the uncertain greatness of his fortune, when he bade him look to the end. Thus Socrates humbled Alcibiades, forced him into unfeigned tears, and turned his heart, when he argued the case with him. Such, again, were the remonstrances and admonitions of Cyrus to Cyaxares, and of Plato to Dion, who, when the lustre and greatness of his achievements had fixed all men’s eyes upon him, wished him to beware of arrogance and self-conceit, as the readiest way to make all men abandon him. And Speusippus wrote to him, not to pride himself in the little applauses of women and children, but to take care to adorn Sicily with religion, justice, and wholesome laws, that he might render the Academy great and illustrious. So did not Euctus and Eulaeus, two of Perseus’s favorites; who fawned upon and complied with him as obsequiously as any courtier of them all during the success of his arms, but after his defeat at Pydna by the Romans inveighed bitterly against him, reminding him of his past faults, till the man out of mere anger and vexation stabbed them both on the spot. And so much concerning the timing our reproofs in general.

ModernGreek: 30. Now there are several other accidental occasions administered by our friends themselves, which a person heartily solicitous for their interest will lay hold of. Thus some have taken an opportunity of censuring them freely from a question they have asked, from the relation of a story, or the praise or dispraise of the same actions in other men which they themselves have committed.

Thus, they tell us, Demaratus coming from Corinth into Macedonia when Philip and his queen and son were at odds, and being after a gracious reception asked by the king what good understanding there was among the Grecians, replied, as being an old friend and acquaintance of his, Aye, by all means, sir, it highly becomes your majesty Edition: current; Page: [147] to enquire about the concord betwixt the Athenians and Peloponnesians, when you suffer your own family to be the scene of so much discord and contention. And as pert was that of Diogenes, who, entering Philip’s camp as he was going to make war upon the Grecians, was seized upon and brought before the king, who not knowing him asked him if he was a spy. Why, yes truly, said he, I am a spy upon your folly and imprudence, who without any necessity upon you are come hither to expose your kingdoms and your life to the uncertain decision of the cast of a die. This may perhaps seem a little too biting and satirical.

ModernGreek: 31. Another seasonable opportunity of reproving your friend for his vices is when some third person has already mortified him upon the same account. For a courteous and obliging man will dexterously silence his accuser, and then take him privately to task himself, advising him — if for no other reason, yet to abate the insolence of his enemies — to manage himself more prudently for the future. For how could they open their mouths against you, what could they have to reproach you with, if you would but reform such and such vices which render you obnoxious to their censure? And by this means the offence that was given lies at his door who roughly upbraided him; whilst the advantage he reaps is attributed to the person who candidly advised him. But there are some who have got yet a genteeler way of chiding, and that is, by chastising others for faults which they know their friends really stand guilty of. As my master Ammonius, perceiving once at his afternoon lecture that some of his scholars had dined more plentifully than became the moderation of students, immediately commanded one of his freedmen to take his own son and whip him. For what? says he. The youngster, forsooth, must needs have vinegar sauce to his meat; and with that casting his eye upon us, he gave us to understand that we likewise were concerned in the reprehension.

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ModernGreek: 32. Again, we must be cautious how we rebuke a friend in company, always remembering the repartee made upon Plato on that account. For Socrates having fallen one day very severely upon an acquaintance of his at table, Plato could not forbear to take him up, saying, Had it not been more proper, sir, to have spoken these things in private? To which Socrates instantly replied, And had it not been more proper for you to have told me so in private too? And they say, Pythagoras one time ranted a friend of his so terribly before company, that the poor young man went and hanged himself; from which time the philosopher would never chide any man in the presence of another. For the discovery and cure of a vice, like that of a scandalous disease, ought to be in secret, and not like a public show transacted upon the theatre; for it is no way the part of a friend, but a mere cheat and trick, for one man to recommend himself to the standers-by and seek for reputation from the failures of another, like mountebank chirurgeons, who perform their operations on a stage to gain the greater practice. But besides the disgrace that attends a reproof of this nature (a thing that will never work any cure), we are likewise to consider that vice is naturally obstinate and loves to dispute its ground. For what Euripides says is true not only of love,

The more ’tis checked, the more it presses on,

but of any other imperfection. If you lay a man open publicly for it and tell all, you are so far from reforming him that you force him to brave it out. And therefore, as Plato advises that old men who would teach the younger fry reverence should learn to revere them first, so certainly modestly to reprimand is the way to meet with a modest return. For he who warily attacks the criminal works upon his good nature by his own, and so insensibly undermines his vices. And therefore it would be much more proper to observe the rule in Homer

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  • To whisper softly in the ear,
  • Lest standers-by should chance to hear.*

But above all, we ought not to discover the imperfections of an husband before his wife, nor of a father before his children, nor of a lover in company of his mistress, nor of masters in presence of their scholars, or the like; for it touches a man to the quick to be rebuked before those whom he would have think honorably of him. And I verily believe that it was not so much the heat of the wine as the sting of too public a reprehension, that enraged Alexander against Clitus. And Aristomenes, Ptolemy’s preceptor, lost himself by awaking the king, who had dropped asleep one time at an audience of foreign embassadors; for the court parasites immediately took this occasion to express their pretendedly deep resentments of the disgrace done his majesty, suggesting that, if indeed the cares of the government had brought a little seasonable drowsiness upon him, he might have been told of it in private, but should not have had rude hands laid upon his person before so great an assembly; which so affected the king, that he presently sent the poor man a draught of poison, and made him drink it up. And Aristophanes says, Cleon blamed him for railing at Athens before strangers, whereby he incensed the Athenians against him. And therefore they who aim at the interest and reformation of their friends rather than ostentation and popularity, ought amongst other things to beware of exposing them too publicly.

Again, what Thucydides makes the Corinthians say of themselves, that they were persons every way qualified for the reprehension of other men, ought to be the character of every one who sets up for a monitor. For, as Lysander replied upon a certain Megarian, who in a council of allies and confederates had spoken boldly in behalf of Greece, This style of yours, sir, needs a state to back it; so he who Edition: current; Page: [150] takes upon him the liberty of a censor must be a man of a regular conversation himself, — one like Plato, whose life was a continued lecture to Speusippus, or Xenocrates, who, casting his eye one time upon the dissolute Polemon at a disputation, reformed him with the very awfulness of his looks. Whereas the remonstrance of a lewd whiffling fellow will certainly meet with no better entertainment than that of the old proverbial repartee,

Physician, heal thyself.*

ModernGreek: 33. But because several accidental emergencies in conversation will now and then invite a man, though bad enough himself, to correct others, the most dexterous way of doing it will be to involve ourselves in the same guilt with those we reprehend; as in this passage of Homer,

  • Fie, what’s the matter, Diomede, that we
  • Have now forgot our former gallantry?

and in this other,

We are not worth one single Hector all.

Thus Socrates would handsomely twit the young men with their ignorance by professing his own, pretending for his part he had need with them to study morality and make more accurate enquiries into the truth of things. For a confession of the same guilt, and a seeming endeavor to reform ourselves as well as our friends, gives credit to the reprimand and recommends it to their affections. But he who gravely magnifies himself, whilst he imperiously detracts from others, as being a man forsooth of no imperfections, unless his age or a celebrated reputation indeed commands our attention, is only impertinent and troublesome to no purpose. And therefore it was not without reason that Phoenix, checking Achilles for his intemperate anger, confessed his own unhappiness in that particular, how he Edition: current; Page: [151] had like once to have slain his own father through a transport of passion had not the scandalous name of parricide held his hands;* that the hero might not imagine he took that liberty with him because he had never offended in the like kind himself. For such inoffensive reproofs leave a deeper impress behind them, when they seem the result of sympathy rather than contempt.

But because a mind subject to the disorders of passion, like an inflamed eye that cannot bear a great and glaring light, is impatient of a rebuke, without some temperament to qualify and allay its poignancy, therefore the best remedy in this case will be to dash it with a little praise, as in the following:

  • Think, and subdue! on dastards dead to fame
  • I waste no anger, for they feel no shame;
  • But you, the pride, the flower of all our host,
  • My heart weeps blood to see your glory lost!
  • Where, Pandarus, are all thy honors now,
  • Thy winged arrows and unerring bow,
  • Thy matchless skill, thy yet unrivall’d fame,
  • And boasted glory of the Lycian name!

And such rebukes as these are also most effectual in reclaiming those that are ready to fall into gross enormities:

O where are Oedipus and all his riddles now?


Is this the speech of daring Hercules?

For a mixture of both together not only abates and takes off from that roughness and command which a blunt reprehension seems to carry along with it, but raises in a man a generous emulation of himself, whilst the remembrance of his past virtues shames him out of his present vices and makes him propose his former actions for his future example. But if you compare him with other men, as with his fellow-citizens, his contemporaries, or relations, then vice, Edition: current; Page: [152] which loves to dispute the victory, renders him uneasy and impatient under the comparison, and will be apt to make him grumble, and in an huff bid you be gone then to his betters and not trouble him any longer. And therefore we ought not to fall upon other men’s commendations before him whom we take the liberty to rebuke, unless indeed they be his parents; as Agamemnon in Homer, —

Ah! how unlike his sire is Tydeus’ son!*

and Ulysses in the tragedy called the Scyrians, speaking to Achilles, —

  • Dost thou, who sprang from a brave Grecian race
  • By spinning thy great ancestors disgrace?

ModernGreek: 34. It is in the next place very improper for a man immediately to retort or recriminate upon his monitor; for this is the way to occasion heats and animosities betwixt them, and will speak him rather impatient of any reproof at all than desirous to recompensate the kindness of one with another. And therefore it is better to take his chiding patiently for the present; and if he chance afterwards to commit a fault worth your remarking upon, you have then an opportunity of repaying him in his own coin. For being reminded, without the least intimation of a former pique or dissatisfaction, that he himself did not use to overlook the slips of his friend, he will receive the remonstrance favorably at your hands, as being the return of kindness rather than of anger and resentment.

ModernGreek: 35. Moreover, as Thucydides says that he is a wise man who will not venture to incur odium except for matters of the highest concernment, so, when we do undertake the ungrateful office of censor, it ought to be only upon weighty and important occasions. For he who is peevish and angry at everybody and upon every trivial fault, acting Edition: current; Page: [153] rather with the imperious pedantry of a schoolmaster than the discretion of a friend, blunts the edge of his reprehensions in matters of an higher nature, by squandering, like an unskilful physician, that keen and bitter but necessary and sovereign remedy of his reproofs upon many slight distempers that require not so exquisite a cure. And therefore a wise man will industriously avoid the character of being a person who is always chiding and delights in finding faults. Besides that, whosoever is of that little humor that animadverts upon every trifling peccadillo only affords his friend a fairer occasion of being even with him one time or another for his grosser immoralities. As Philotimus the physician, visiting a patient of his who was troubled with an inflammation in his liver, but showed him his forefinger, told him: Sir, your distemper is not a whitlow. In like manner we may take occasion now and then to reply upon a man who carps at trifles in another, — his diversions, pleasantries, or a glass of wine, — Let the gentleman rather, sir, turn off his whore and leave off his dicing; for otherwise he is an admirable person. For he who is dispensed with in smaller matters more willingly gives his friend the liberty of reprimanding him for greater. But there is neither child nor brother nor servant himself able to endure a man of a busy inquisitive humor, who brawls perpetually, and is sour and unpleasant upon every inconsiderable occasion.

ModernGreek: 36. But since a weak and foolish friend, as Euripides says of old age, has its strong as well as its feeble part, we ought to observe both, and cheerfully extol the one before we fall foul upon the other. For as we first soften iron in the fire and then dip it in water, to harden it into a due consistence; so, after we have warmed and mollified our friend by a just commendation of his virtues, we may then safely temper him with a moderate reprehension of his vices. We may then say, Are these actions comparable to Edition: current; Page: [154] the other? Do you not perceive the advantages of a virtuous life? This is what we who are your friends require of you. These are properly your own actions, for which nature designed you; but for the other,

  • Let them for ever from you banished be,
  • To desert mountains or the raging sea.*

For as a prudent physician had rather recover his patient with sleep and good diet than with castor and scammony, so a candid friend, a good father or schoolmaster, will choose to reform men’s manners by commendations rather than reproofs. For nothing in the world renders our corrections so inoffensive and withal so useful as to address ourselves to the delinquent in a kind, affectionate manner. And therefore we ought not to deal roughly with him upon his denial of the matter of fact, nor hinder him from making his just vindication; but we should rather handsomely help him out in his apology and mollify the matter. As Hector to his brother Paris,

Unhappy man, by passion overruled;

suggesting that he did not quit the field, in his encounter with Menelaus, out of cowardice, but mere anger and indignation. And Nestor speaks thus to Agamemnon:

You only yielded to the great impulse.

For to tell a man that he did such a thing through ignorance or inadvertency is, in my opinion, a much more genteel expression than bluntly to say, “You have dealt unjustly or acted basely by me.” And to advise a man not to quarrel with his brother is more civil than to say, “Don’t you envy and malign him.” And “Keep not company with that woman who debauches you” is softer language than “Don’t you debauch her.”

And thus you see with what caution and moderation we Edition: current; Page: [155] must reprehend our friends in reclaiming them from vices to which they are already subjected; whilst the prevention of them doth require a clear contrary method. For when we are to divert them from the commission of a crime, or to check a violent and headstrong passion, or to push on and excite a phlegmatic lazy humor to great things, we may then ascribe their failings to as dishonorable causes as we please.

Thus Ulysses, when he would awaken the courage of Achilles, in one of the tragedies of Sophocles, tells him, that it was not the business of a supper that put him in such a fret, as he pretended, but because he was now arrived within sight of the walls of Troy. And when Achilles, in a great chafe at the affront, swore he would sail back again with his squadron and leave him to himself, Ulysses came upon him again with this rejoinder:

  • Come, sir, ’tis not for this you’d sail away;
  • But Hector’s near, it is not safe to stay.

And thus, by representing to the bold and valiant the danger of being reputed a coward, to the temperate and sober that of being thought a debauchee, and to the liberal and magnificent the chance of being called stingy and sordid, we spur them on to brave actions and divert them from base and ignominious ones.

Indeed, when a thing is once done and past remedy, we ought to qualify and attemperate our reproofs, and commiserate rather than reprimand. But if it be a business of pure prevention, of stopping a friend in the career of his irregularities, our applications must be vehement, inexorable, and indefatigable; for this is the proper season for a man to show himself a true monitor and a friend indeed. But we see that even enemies reprove each other for faults already committed. As Diogenes said pertinently enough to this purpose, that he who would act wisely ought to be surrounded either with good friends or flagrant enemies; Edition: current; Page: [156] for the one always teach us well, and the other as constantly accuse us if we do ill.

But certainly it is much more eligible to forbear the commission of a fault by hearkening to the good advice of our friends, than afterwards to repent of it by reason of the obloquy of our enemies. And therefore, if for no other reason, we ought to apply our reprehensions with a great deal of art and dexterity, because they are the most sovereign physic that a friend can prescribe, and require not only a due mixture of ingredients in the preparation of them but a seasonable juncture for the patient to take them in.

ModernGreek: 37. But because, as it has been before observed, reproofs usually carry something of trouble and vexation along with them, we must imitate skilful physicians, who, when they have made an incision in the flesh, leave it not open to the smart and torment that attends it, but chafe and foment it to assuage the pain. So he who would admonish dexterously must not immediately give a man over to the sting and anguish of his reprehensions, but endeavor to skin over the sore with a more mild and diverting converse; like stone-cutters, who, when they have made a fracture in their statues, polish and brighten them afterwards. But if we leave them in pain with their wounds and resentments, and (as it were) with the scars of our reproofs yet green upon them, they will hardly be brought to admit of any lenitive we shall offer for the future. And therefore they who will take upon them to admonish their friends ought especially to observe this main point, not to leave them immediately upon it, nor abruptly break off the conference with disobliging and bitter expressions.

Edition: current; Page: [157]



ModernGreek: 1. Epicurus’s great confidant and familiar, Colotes, set forth a book with this title to it, that according to the tenets of the other philosophers it is impossible to live. Now what occurred to me then to say against him, in the defence of those philosophers, hath been already put into writing by me. But since upon breaking up of our lecture several things have happened to be spoken afterwards in the walks in further opposition to his party, I thought it not amiss to recollect them also, if for no other reason, yet for this one, that those who will needs be contradicting other men may see that they ought not to run cursorily over the discourses and writings of those they would disprove, nor by tearing out one word here and another there, or by falling foul upon particular passages without the books, to impose upon the ignorant and unlearned.

ModernGreek: 2. Now as we were leaving the school to take a walk (as our manner is) in the place of exercise, Zeuxippus began to us: In my opinion, said he, the debate was managed on our side with more softness and less freedom than was fitting. I am sure, Heraclides sufficiently signified his disgust at us at parting, for handling Epicurus and Metrodorus more roughly than they deserved. Yet you may remember, replied Theon, how you told them that Colotes himself, compared with the rhetoric of those two gentlemen, would appear the complaisantest man alive; Edition: current; Page: [158] for when they have raked together the lewdest terms of ignominy the tongue of man ever used, as buffooneries, trollings, arrogancies, whorings, assassinations, whining counterfeits, vile seducers, and blockheads, they faintly throw them in the faces of Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras, Protagoras, Theophrastus, Heraclides, Hipparchus, and which not, even of the best and most celebrated authorities. So that, should they pass for very knowing men upon all other accounts, yet their very calumnies and reviling language would bespeak them at the greatest distance from philosophy imaginable. For emulation can never enter that God-like consort, nor such fretfulness as wants resolution to conceal its own resentments. Aristodemus then subjoined: Heraclides, you know, is a great philologist; and that may be the reason why he made Epicurus those amends for the poetic din (so that party style poetry) and for the fooleries of Homer; or else, it may be, it was because Metrodorus had libelled that poet in so many books. But let us let these gentlemen pass at present, Zeuxippus, and rather return to what was charged upon the philosophers in the beginning of our discourse, that it is impossible to live according to their tenets. And I see not why we two may not despatch this affair betwixt us, with the good assistance of Theon; for I find this gentleman (meaning me) is already tired. Then Theon said to him,

Our fellows have that garland from us won;

therefore, if you please,

Let’s fix another goal, and at that run.*

We will even prosecute them at the suit of the philosophers, in the following form: We’ll prove, if we can, that it is impossible to live a pleasurable life according to their tenets. Bless me! said I to him, smiling, you seem to me to level your foot at the very bellies of the men, and to Edition: current; Page: [159] design to enter the list with them for their lives, whilst you go about to rob them thus of their pleasure, and they cry out to you,

“Forbear, we’re no good boxers, sir;

no, nor good pleaders, nor good senators, nor good magistrates either;

Our proper talent is to eat and drink,*

and to excite such tender and delicate motions in our bodies as may chafe our imaginations to some jolly delight or gayety.” And therefore you seem to me not so much to take off (as I may say) the pleasurable part, as to deprive the men of their very lives, while you will not leave them to live pleasurably. Nay then, said Theon, if you think so well of this subject-matter, why do you not set in hand to it? By all means, said I, I am for this, and shall not only hear but answer you too, if you shall require it. But I must leave it to you to take the lead.

Then, after Theon had spoken something to excuse himself, Aristodemus said: When we had so short and fair a cut to our design, how have you blocked up the way before us, by preventing us from joining issue with the faction at the very first upon the single point of honesty! For you must grant, it can be no easy matter to drive men already possessed that pleasure is their utmost good yet to believe a life of pleasure impossible to be attained. But now the truth is, that just when they failed of living honestly they failed also of living pleasurably; for to live pleasurably without living honestly is even by themselves allowed inconsistent.

ModernGreek: 3. Theon then said: We may probably resume the consideration of that in the process of our discourse; in the interim we will make use of their concessions. Now they suppose their last good to lie about the belly and such other conveyances of the body as let in pleasure and not Edition: current; Page: [160] pain; and are of opinion, that all the brave and ingenious inventions that ever have been were contrived at first for the pleasure of the belly, or the good hope of compassing such pleasure, — as the sage Metrodorus informs us. By which, my good friend, it is very plain, they found their pleasure in a poor, rotten, and unsure thing, and one that is equally perforated for pains, by the very passages they receive their pleasures by; or rather indeed, that admits pleasure but by a few, but pain by all its parts. For the whole of pleasure is in a manner in the joints, nerves, feet, and hands; and these are oft the seats of very grievous and lamentable distempers, as gouts, corroding rheums, gangrenes, and putrid ulcers. And if you apply to yourself the exquisitest of perfumes or gusts, you will find but some one small part of your body is finely and delicately touched, while the rest are many times filled with anguish and complaints. Besides, there is no part of us proof against fire, sword, teeth, or scourges, or insensible of dolors and aches; yea, heats, colds, and fevers sink into all our parts alike. But pleasures, like gales of soft wind, move simpering, one towards one extreme of the body and another towards another, and then go off in a vapor. Nor are they of any long durance, but, as so many glancing meteors, they are no sooner kindled in the body than they are quenched by it. As to pain, Aeschylus’s Philoctetes affords us a sufficient testimony:

  • The cruel viper ne’er will quit my foot;
  • Her dire envenomed teeth have there ta’en root.

For pain will not troll off as pleasure doth, nor imitate it in its pleasing and tickling touches. But as the clover twists its perplexed and winding roots into the earth, and through its coarseness abides there a long time; so pain disperses and entangles its hooks and roots in the body, and continues there, not for a day or a night, but for several seasons of years, if not for some revolutions of Olympiads, Edition: current; Page: [161] nor scarce ever departs unless struck out by other pains, as by stronger nails. For who ever drank so long as those that are in a fever are adry? Or who was ever so long eating as those that are besieged suffer hunger? Or where are there any that are so long solaced with the conversation of friends as tyrants are racking and tormenting? Now all this is owing to the baseness of the body and its natural incapacity for a pleasurable life; for it bears pains better than it doth pleasures, and with respect to those is firm and hardy, but with respect to these is feeble and soon palled. To which add, that if we are minded to discourse on a life of pleasure, these men won’t give us leave to go on, but will presently confess themselves that the pleasures of the body are but short, or rather indeed but of a moment’s continuance; if they do not design to banter us or else speak out of vanity, when Metrodorus tells us, We many times spit at the pleasures of the body, and Epicurus saith, A wise man, when he is sick, many times laughs at the very extremity of his distemper.

With what consistence then can those that account the pains of the body so light and easy think so highly of its pleasures? For should we allow them not to come behind its pains either in duration or magnitude, they would not yet have their being without them. For Epicurus hath made the removal of all that pains the common definition of all pleasure; as if Nature had intended to advance the pleasurable part only to the destruction of the painful, but would not have it improved any further in magnitude, and as if she only diverted herself with certain useless diversifications after she hath once arrived to an abolition of pain. But now the passage to this, conjoined with an appetence which is the measure of pleasure, is extremely short and soon over. And therefore the sense of their narrow entertainment here hath obliged them to transplant their last end from the body, as from a poor and lean soil, Edition: current; Page: [162] to the mind, in hopes of enjoying there, as it were, large pastures and fair meadows of delights and satisfactions.

  • For Ithaca is no fit place
  • For mettled steeds to run a race.*

Neither can the joys of our poor bodies be smooth and equal; but on the contrary they must be coarse and harsh, and immixed with much that is displeasing and inflamed.

ModernGreek: 4. Zeuxippus then said: And do you not think then they take the right course to begin at the body, where they observe pleasure to have its first rise, and thence to pass to the mind as the more stable and sure part, there to complete and crown the whole?

They do, by Jove, I said; and if, after removing thither, they have indeed found something more consummate than before, they take a course too as well agreeing with nature as becoming men adorned with both contemplative and civil knowledge. But if after all this you still hear them cry out, and protest that the mind of man can receive no satisfaction or tranquillity from any thing under Heaven but the pleasures of the body either in possession or expectance, and that these are its proper and only good, can you forbear thinking they make use of the soul but as a funnel for the body, while they mellow their pleasure by shifting it from one vessel to another, as they rack wine out of an old and leaky vessel into a new one and there let it grow old, and then imagine they have performed some extraordinary and very fine thing? True indeed, time may both keep and recover wine that hath thus been drawn off; but the mind, receiving but the remembrance only of past pleasure, like a kind of scent, retains that and no more. For as soon as it hath given one hiss in the body, it immediately expires, and that little of it that stays behind in the memory is but flat and like a queasy fume; as if a man should lay up and treasure in his fancy Edition: current; Page: [163] what he either ate or drank yesterday, that he may have recourse to that when he wants fresh fare. See now how much more temperate the Cyrenaics are, who, though they have drunk out of the same bottle with Epicurus, yet will not allow men so much as to practise their amours by candle-light, but only under the covert of the dark, for fear seeing should fasten too quick an impression of the images of such actions upon the fancy and thereby too frequently inflame the desire. But these gentlemen account it the highest accomplishment of a philosopher to have a clear and retentive memory of all the various figures, passions, and touches of past pleasure. We will not now say, they present us with nothing worthy the name of philosophy, while they leave the refuse of pleasure in their wise man’s mind, as if it could be a lodging for bodies; but that it is impossible such things as these should make a man live pleasurably, I think is abundantly manifest from hence.

For it will not perhaps seem strange if I assert, that the memory of pleasure past brings no pleasure with it if it seemed but little in the very enjoyment, or to men of such abstinence as to account it for their benefit to retire from its first approaches; when even the most amazed and sensual admirers of corporeal delights remain no longer in their gaudy and pleasant humor than their pleasure lasts them. What remains is but an empty shadow and dream of that pleasure that hath now taken wing and is fled from them, and that serves but for fuel to foment their untamed desires. Like as in those that dream they are adry or in love, their unaccomplished pleasures and enjoyments do but excite the inclination to a greater keenness. Nor indeed can the remembrance of past enjoyments afford them any real contentment at all, but must serve only, with the help of a quick desire, to raise up very much of outrage and stinging pain out of the remains of a feeble and befooling pleasure. Edition: current; Page: [164] Neither doth it befit men of continence and sobriety to exercise their thoughts about such poor things, or to do what one twitted Carneades with, to reckon, as out of a diurnal, how oft they have lain with Hedia or Leontion, or where they last drank Thasian wine, or at what twentieth-day feast they had a costly supper. For such transport and captivatedness of the mind to its own remembrances as this is would show a deplorable and bestial restlessness and raving towards the present and hoped-for acts of pleasure. And therefore I cannot but look upon the sense of these inconveniences as the true cause of their retiring at last to a freedom from pain and a firm state of body; as if living pleasurably could lie in bare imagining this either past or future to some persons. True indeed it is, “that a sound state of body and a good assurance of its continuing must needs afford a most transcending and solid satisfaction to all men capable of reasoning.”

ModernGreek: 5. But yet look first what work they make, while they course this same thing — whether it be pleasure, exemption from pain, or good health — up and down, first from the body to the mind, and then back again from the mind to the body, being compelled to return it to its first origin, lest it should run out and so give them the slip. Thus they pitch the pleasure of the body (as Epicurus says) upon the complacent joy in the mind, and yet conclude again with the good hopes that complacent joy hath in bodily pleasure. Indeed what wonder is it if, when the foundation shakes, the superstructure totter? Or that there should be no sure hope nor unshaken joy in a matter that suffers so great concussion and changes as continually attend a body exposed to so many violences and strokes from without, and having within it the origins of such evils as human reason cannot avert? For if it could, no understanding man would ever fall under stranguries, gripes, consumptions, or dropsies; with some of which Epicurus Edition: current; Page: [165] himself did conflict and Polyaenus with others, while others of them were the deaths of Neocles and Agathobulus. And this we mention not to disparage them, knowing very well that Pherecydes and Heraclitus, both very excellent persons, labored under very uncouth and calamitous distempers. We only beg of them, if they will own their own diseases and not by noisy rants and popular harangues incur the imputation of false bravery, either not to take the health of the whole body for the ground of their content, or else not to say that men under the extremities of dolors and diseases can yet rally and be pleasant. For a sound and hale constitution of body is indeed a thing that often happens, but a firm and steadfast assurance of its continuance can never befall any intelligent mind. But as at sea (according to Aeschylus)

Night to the ablest pilot trouble brings,*

and so will a calm too, for no man knows what will be, — so likewise is it impossible for a soul that dwells in a healthful body, and that places her good in the hopes she hath of that body, to perfect her voyage here without frights or waves. For man’s mind hath not, like the sea, its tempests and storms only from without it, but it also raises up from within far more and greater disturbances. And a man may with more reason look for constant fair weather in the midst of winter than for perpetual exemption from afflictions in his body. For what else hath given the poets occasion to term us creatures of a day, uncertain and unfixed, and to liken our lives to leaves that both spring and fall in the compass of a summer, but the unhappy, calamitous, and sickly condition of the body, whose very utmost good we are warned to dread and prevent? For an exquisite habit, Hippocrates saith, is slippery and hazardous. And

  • He that but now looked jolly, plump, and stout,
  • Like a star shot by Jove, is now gone out;
Edition: current; Page: [166]

as it is in Euripides. And it is a vulgar persuasion, that very handsome persons, when looked upon, oft suffer damage by envy and an evil eye; for (it is said) a body at its utmost vigor will through delicacy very soon admit of changes.

ModernGreek: 6. But now that these men are miserably unprovided for an undisturbed life, you may discern even from what they themselves advance against others. For they say that those who commit wickedness and incur the displeasure of the laws live in constant misery and fear, for, though they may perhaps attain to privacy, yet it is impossible they should ever be well assured of that privacy; whence the ever-impending fear of the future will not permit them to have either complacency or assurance in their present circumstances. But they consider not how they speak all this against themselves. For a sound and healthy state of body they may indeed oftentimes possess, but that they should ever be well assured of its continuance is impossible; and they must of necessity be in constant disquiet and pain for the body with respect to futurity, never succeeding in attaining to that firm and steadfast assurance from it which they expect. But to do no wickedness will contribute nothing to our assurance; for it is not suffering justly but suffering in itself that is dismaying. Nor can it be a matter of trouble to be engaged in villanies one’s self, and not afflictive to suffer by the villanies of others. Neither can it be said that the tyranny of Lachares was less, if it was not more, calamitous to the Athenians, and that of Dionysius to the Syracusans, than they were to the tyrants themselves; for it was disturbing that made them be disturbed; and their first oppressing and pestering of others gave them occasion to expect to suffer ill themselves. Why should a man recount the outrages of rabbles, the barbarities of thieves, or the villanies of inheritors, or yet the contagions of airs and the concursions of seas, by which Epicurus (as Edition: current; Page: [167] himself writeth) was in his voyage to Lampsacus within very little of drowning? The very composition of the body — it containing in it the matter of all diseases, and (to use a pleasantry of the vulgar) cutting thongs for the beast out of its own hide, I mean pains out of the body — is sufficient to render life perilous and uneasy, and that to the good as well as to the bad, if they have learned to place their complacence and assurance in the body and the hopes they have of it, and in nothing else; as Epicurus hath written, as well in many other of his discourses as in that of Man’s End.

ModernGreek: 7. They therefore assign not only a treacherous and unsure ground of their pleasurable living, but also one in all respects despicable and little, if the escaping of evils be the matter of their complacence and last good. But now they tell us, nothing else can be so much as imagined, and nature hath no other place to bestow her good in but only that out of which her evil hath been driven; as Metrodorus speaks in his book against the Sophists. So that this single thing, to escape evil, he says, is the supreme good; for there is no room to lodge this good in where nothing of what is painful and afflicting goes out. Like unto this is that of Epicurus, where he saith: The very essence of good arises from the escaping of bad, and a man’s recollecting, considering, and rejoicing within himself that this hath befallen him. For what occasions transcending joy (he saith) is some great impending evil escaped; and in this lies the very nature and essence of good, if a man attain unto it aright, and contain himself when he hath done, and not ramble and prate idly about it. Oh the rare satisfaction and felicity these men enjoy, that can thus rejoice for having undergone no evil and endured neither sorrow nor pain! Have they not reason, think you, to value themselves for such things as these, and to talk as they are wont when they style themselves immortals and equals to Gods? — and Edition: current; Page: [168] when, through the excessiveness and transcendency of the blessed things they enjoy, they rave even to the degree of whooping and hollowing for very satisfaction that, to the shame of all mortals, they have been the only men that could find out this celestial and divine good that lies in an exemption from all evil? So that their beatitude differs little from that of swine and sheep, while they place it in a mere tolerable and contented state, either of the body, or of the mind upon the body’s account. For even the wiser and more ingenious sort of brutes do not esteem escaping of evil their last end; but when they have taken their repast, they are disposed next by fulness to singing, and they divert themselves with swimming and flying; and their gayety and sprightliness prompt them to entertain themselves with attempting to counterfeit all sorts of voices and notes; and then they make their caresses to one another, by skipping and dancing one towards another; nature inciting them, after they have escaped evil, to look after some good, or rather to shake off what they find uneasy and disagreeing, as an impediment to their pursuit of something better and more congenial.

ModernGreek: 8. For what we cannot be without deserves not the name of good; but that which claims our desire and preference must be something beyond a bare escape from evil. And so, by Jove, must that be too that is either agreeing or congenial to us, according to Plato, who will not allow us to give the name of pleasures to the bare departures of sorrows and pains, but would have us look upon them rather as obscure draughts and mixtures of agreeing and disagreeing, as of black and white, while the extremes would advance themselves to a middle temperament. But oftentimes unskilfulness and ignorance of the true nature of the extreme occasions some to mistake the middle temperament for the extreme and outmost part. Thus do Epicurus and Metrodorus, while they make avoiding of evil to be the very Edition: current; Page: [169] essence and consummation of good, and so receive but as it were the satisfaction of slaves or of rogues newly discharged the gaol, who are well enough contented if they may but wash and supple their sores and the stripes they received by whipping, but never in their lives had one taste or sight of a generous, clean, unmixed, and unulcerated joy. For it follows not that, if it be vexatious to have one’s body itch or one’s eyes to run, it must be therefore a blessing to scratch one’s self, and to wipe one’s eye with a rag; nor that, if it be bad to be dejected or dismayed at divine matters or to be discomposed with the relations of hell, therefore the bare avoiding of all this must be some happy and amiable thing. The truth is, these men’s opinion, though it pretends so far to outgo that of the vulgar, allows their joy but a straight and narrow compass to toss and tumble in, while it extends it but to an exemption from the fear of hell, and so makes that the top of acquired wisdom which is doubtless natural to the brutes. For if freedom from bodily pain be still the same, whether it come by endeavor or by nature, neither then is an undisturbed state of mind the greater for being attained to by industry than if it came by nature. Though a man may with good reason maintain that to be the more confirmed habit of the mind which naturally admits of no disorder, than that which by application and judgment eschews it.

But let us suppose them both equal; they will yet appear not one jot superior to the beasts for being unconcerned at the stories of hell and the legends of the Gods, and for not expecting endless sorrows and everlasting torments hereafter. For it is Epicurus himself that tells us that, had our surmises about celestial things and our foolish apprehensions of death and the pains that ensue it given us no disquiet, we had not then needed to contemplate nature for our relief. For neither have the brutes any weak surmises of the Gods or fond opinions about things after death to disorder Edition: current; Page: [170] themselves with; nor have they as much as imagination or notion that there is any thing in these to be dreaded. I confess, had they left us the benign providence of God as a presumption, wise men might then seem, by reason of their good hopes from thence, to have something towards a pleasurable life that beasts have not. But now, since they have made it the scope of all their discourses of God that they may not fear him, but may be eased of all concern about him, I much question whether those that never thought at all of him have not this in a more confirmed degree than they that have learned to think he can do no harm. For if they were never freed from superstition, they never fell into it; and if they never laid aside a disturbing conceit of God, they never took one up. The like may be said as to hell and the future state. For though neither the Epicurean nor the brute can hope for any good thence; yet such as have no forethought of death at all cannot but be less amused and scared with what comes after it than they that betake themselves to the principle that death is nothing to us. But something to them it must be, at least so far as they concern themselves to reason about it and contemplate it; but the beasts are wholly exempted from thinking of what appertains not to them; and if they fly from blows, wounds, and slaughters, they fear no more in death than is dismaying to the Epicurean himself.

ModernGreek: 9. Such then are the things they boast to have attained by their philosophy. Let us now see what those are they deprive themselves of and chase away from them. For those diffusions of the mind that arise from the body, and the pleasing condition of the body, if they be but moderate, appear to have nothing in them that is either great or considerable; but if they be excessive, besides their being vain and uncertain, they are also importune and petulant; nor should a man term them either mental Edition: current; Page: [171] satisfactions or gayeties, but rather corporeal gratifications, they being at best but the simperings and effeminacies of the mind. But now such as justly deserve the names of complacencies and joys are wholly refined from their contraries, and are immixed with neither vexation, remorse, nor repentance; and their good is congenial to the mind and truly mental and genuine, and not superinduced. Nor is it devoid of reason, but most rational, as springing either from that in the mind that is contemplative and enquiring, or else from that part of it that is active and heroic. How many and how great satisfactions either of these affords us, he that would can never relate. But to hint briefly at some of them. We have the historians before us, which, though they find us many and delightful exercises, still leave our desire after truth insatiate and uncloyed with pleasure, through which even lies are not without their grace. Yea, tales and poetic fictions, while they cannot gain upon our belief, have something in them that is charming to us.

ModernGreek: 10. For do but think with yourself, with what a sting we read Plato’s Atlantic and the conclusion of the Iliad, and how we hanker and gape after the rest of the tale, as when some beautiful temple or theatre is shut up. But now the informing of ourselves with the truth herself is a thing so delectable and lovely as if our very life and being were for the sake of knowing. And the darkest and grimmest things in death are its oblivion, ignorance, and obscurity. Whence, by Jove, it is that almost all mankind encounter with those that would destroy the sense of the departed, as placing the very whole of their life, being, and satisfaction solely in the sensible and knowing part of the mind. For even the things that grieve and afflict us yet afford us a sort of pleasure in the hearing. And it is often seen that those that are disordered by what is told them, even to the degree of weeping, notwithstanding Edition: current; Page: [172] require the telling of it. So he in the tragedy who is told,

Alas! I now the very worst must tell,


I dread to hear it too, but I must hear.*

But this may seem perhaps a sort of intemperateness of delight in knowing every thing, and as it were a stream violently bearing down the reasoning faculty. But now, when a story that hath in it nothing that is troubling and afflictive treats of great and heroic enterprises with a potency and grace of style such as we find in Herodotus’s Grecian and in Xenophon’s Persian history, or in what,

Inspired by heavenly Gods, sage Homer sung,

or in the Travels of Eudoxus, the Foundations and Republics of Aristotle, and the Lives of Famous Men compiled by Aristoxenus; — these will not only bring us exceeding much and great contentment, but such also as is clean and secure from repentance. And who could take greater satisfaction either in eating when a-hungry or drinking when a-dry amongst the Phaeacians, than in going over Ulysses’s relation of his own voyage and rambles? And what man could be better pleased with the embraces of the most exquisite beauty, than with sitting up all night to read over what Xenophon hath written of Panthea, or Aristobulus of Timoclea, or Theopompus of Thebe?

ModernGreek: 11. But now these appertain all solely to the mind. But they chase away from them the delights that accrue from the mathematics also. Though the satisfactions we receive from history have in them something simple and equal , but those that come from geometry, astronomy, and music inveigle and allure us with a sort of nimbleness and variety, and want nothing that is tempting and engaging; their figures attracting us as so many charms, whereof whoever Edition: current; Page: [173] hath once tasted, if he be but competently skilled, will run about singing that in Sophocles,

  • I’m mad; the Muses with new rage inspire me.
  • I’ll mount the hill; my lyre, my numbers fire me.*

Nor doth Thamyras break out into poetic raptures upon any other score; nor, by Jove, Eudoxus, Aristarchus, or Archimedes. And when the lovers of the art of painting are so enamored with the charmingness of their own performances, that Nicias, as he was drawing the Evocation of Ghosts in Homer, often asked his servants whether he had dined or no, and when King Ptolemy had sent him threescore talents for his piece, after it was finished, he neither would accept the money nor part with his work; what and how great satisfactions may we then suppose to have been reaped from geometry and astronomy by Euclid when he wrote his Dioptrics, by Philippus when he had perfected his demonstration of the figure of the moon, by Archimedes when with the help of a certain angle he had found the sun’s diameter to make the same part of the largest circle that that angle made of four right angles, and by Apollonius and Aristarchus who were the inventors of some other things of the like nature? The bare contemplating and comprehending of these now engender in the learners both unspeakable delights and a marvellous height of spirit. And it doth in no wise beseem me, by comparing with these the fulsome debauchees of victualling-houses and stews, to contaminate Helicon and the Muses, —

  • Where swain his flock ne’er fed,
  • Nor tree by hatchet bled.

But these are the verdant and untrampled pastures of ingenious bees; but those are more like the mange of lecherous boars and he-goats. And though a voluptuous temper of mind be naturally fantastic and precipitate, yet Edition: current; Page: [174] never any yet sacrificed an ox for joy that he had gained his will of his mistress; nor did any ever wish to die immediately, might he but once satiate himself with the costly dishes and comfits at the table of his prince. But now Eudoxus wished he might stand by the sun, and inform himself of the figure, magnitude, and beauty of that luminary, though he were, like Phaethon, consumed by it. And Pythagoras offered an ox in sacrifice for having completed the lines of a certain geometric diagram; as Apollodotus tells us,

  • When the famed lines Pythagoras devised,
  • For which a splendid ox he sacrificed.

Whether it was that by which he showed that the [square of the] line that regards the right angle in a triangle is equivalent to the [squares of the] two lines that contain that angle, or the problem about the area of the parabolic section of a cone. And Archimedes’s servants were forced to hale him away from his draughts, to be anointed in the bath; but he notwithstanding drew the lines upon his belly with his strigil. And when, as he was washing (as the story goes of him), he thought of a manner of computing the proportion of gold in King Hiero’s crown by seeing the water flowing over the bathing-stool, he leaped up as one possessed or inspired, crying, “I have found it” (εὕϱηϰα); which after he had several times repeated, he went his way. But we never yet heard of a glutton that exclaimed with such vehemence, “I have eaten,” or of an amorous gallant that ever cried, “I have kissed,” among the many millions of dissolute debauchees that both this and preceding ages have produced. Yea, we abominate those that make mention of their great suppers with too luscious a gust, as men overmuch taken with mean and abject delights. But we find ourselves in one and the same ecstasy with Eudoxus, Archimedes, and Hipparchus; and we readily give assent to Plato when he saith of the mathematics, that while ignorance Edition: current; Page: [175] and unskilledness make men despise them, they still thrive notwithstanding by reason of their charming ness, in despite of contempt.

ModernGreek: 12. These then so great and so many pleasures, that run like perpetual springs and rills, these men decline and avoid; nor will they permit those that put in among them so much as to take a taste of them, but bid them hoist up the little sails of their paltry cock-boats and fly from them. Nay, they all, both he and she philosophers, beg and entreat Pythocles, for dear Epicurus’s sake, not to affect or make such account of the sciences called liberal. And when they cry up and defend one Apelles, they write of him that he kept himself clean by refraining himself all along from the mathematics. But as to history — to pass over their aversedness to other kinds of compositions — I shall only present you with the words of Metrodorus, who in his treatise of the Poets writes thus: Wherefore let it never disturb you, if you know not either what side Hector was of, or the first verses in Homer’s Poem, or again what is in its middle. But that the pleasures of the body spend themselves like the winds called Etesian or Anniversary, and utterly determine when once age is past its vigor, Epicurus himself was not insensible; and there fore he makes it a problematic question, whether a sage philosopher, when he is an old man and disabled for enjoyment, may not still be recreated with having handsome girls to feel and grope him, being not, it seems, of the mind of old Sophocles, who thanked God he had at length escaped from this kind of pleasure, as from an untame and furious master. But, in my opinion, it would be more advisable for these sensual lechers, when they see that age will dry up so many of their pleasures, and that, as Euripides saith,

Dame Venus is to ancient men a foe,*

Edition: current; Page: [176]

in the first place to collect and lay up in store, as against a siege, these other pleasures, as a sort of provision that will not impair and decay; that then, after they have celebrated the venereal festivals of life, they may spend a cleanly after feast in reading over the historians and poets, or else in problems of music and geometry. For it would never have come into their minds so much as to think of these purblind and toothless gropings and spurtings of lechery, had they but learned, if nothing more, to write comments upon Homer or Euripides, as Aristotle, Heraclides, and Dicaearchus did. But I verily persuade myself that their neglecting to take care for such provisions as these, and finding all the other things they employed themselves in (as they use to say of virtue) but insipid and dry, and being wholly set upon pleasure, and the body no longer supplying them with it, give them occasion to stoop to do things both mean and shameful in themselves and unbecoming their age; as well when they refresh their memories with their former pleasures and serve themselves of old ones (as it were) long since dead and laid up in pickle for the purpose, when they cannot have fresh ones, as when again they offer violence to nature by suscitating and kindling in their decayed bodies, as in cold embers, other new ones equally senseless, they having not, it seems, their minds stored with any congenial pleasure that is worth the rejoicing at.

ModernGreek: 13. As to the other delights of the mind, we have already treated of them, as they occurred to us. But their aversedness and dislike to music, that affords us so great delights and such charming satisfactions, a man could not forget if he would, by reason of the inconsistency of what Epicurus saith, when he pronounceth in his book called his Doubts that his wise man ought to be a lover of public spectacles and to delight above any other man in the music and shows of the Bacchanals; and yet he will not admit of music problems or of the critical enquiries of Edition: current; Page: [177] philologists, no, not so much as at a compotation. Yea, he advises such princes as are lovers of the Muses rather to entertain themselves at their feasts either with some narration of military adventures or with the importune scurrilities of drolls and buffoons, than to engage in disputes about music or in questions of poetry. For this very thing he had the face to write in his treatise of Monarchy, as if he were writing to Sardanapalus, or to Nanarus satrap of Babylon. For neither would a Hiero nor an Attalus nor an Archelaus be persuaded to make a Euripides, a Simonides, a Melanippides, a Crates, or a Diodotus rise up from their tables, and to place such scaramuchios in their rooms as a Cardax, an Agrias, or a Callias, or fellows like Thrasonides and Thrasyleon, to make people disorder the house with hollowing and clapping. Had the great Ptolemy, who was the first that formed a consort of musicians, but met with these excellent and royal admonitions, would he not, think you, have thus addressed himself to the Samians:

O Muse, whence art thou thus maligned?

For certainly it can never belong to any Athenian to be in such enmity and hostility with the Muses. But

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

What sayest thou now, Epicurus? Wilt thou get thee up betimes in the morning, and go to the theatre to hear the harpers and flutists play? But if a Theophrastus discourse at the table of Concords, or an Aristoxenus of Varieties, or if an Aristophanes play the critic upon Homer, wilt thou presently, for very dislike and abhorrence clap both thy hands upon thy ears? And do they not hereby make the Scythian king Ateas more musical than this comes to, who, when he heard that admirable flutist Ismenias, detained then by him as a prisoner of war, playing Edition: current; Page: [178] upon the flute at a compotation, swore he had rather hear his own horse neigh? And do they not also profess themselves to stand at an implacable and irreconcilable defiance with whatever is generous and becoming? And indeed what do they ever embrace or affect that is either genteel or regardable, when it hath nothing of pleasure to accompany it? And would it not far less affect a pleasurable way of living, to be disgusted with perfumes and odors, like beetles and vultures, than to shun and abhor the conversation of learned critics and musicians? For what flute or harp ready tuned for a lesson, or

  • What sweetest consort e’er with artful noise,
  • Warbled by softest tongue and best tuned voice,

ever gave Epicurus and Metrodorus such content as the disputes and precepts about consorts gave Aristotle, Theophrastus, Hieronymus, and Dicaearchus? And also the problems about flutes, rhythms, and harmonies; as, for instance, why the slenderer of two flutes of the same longitude should speak flatter? — why, if you raise the pipe, will all its notes be sharp; and flat again, if you lower it? — and why, when clapped to another, will it sound flatter; and sharper again, when taken from it? — why also, if you scatter chaff or dust about the orchestra of a theatre, will the sound be softened? — and why, when one would have set up a bronze Alexander for a frontispiece to a stage at Pella, did the architect advise to the contrary, because it would spoil the actors’ voices? — and why, of the several kinds of music, will the chromatic diffuse and the harmonic compose the mind? But now the several humors of poets, their differing turns and forms of style, and the solutions of their difficult places, have conjoined with a sort of dignity and politeness somewhat also that is extremely agreeable and charming; insomuch that to me they seem to do what was once said by Xenophon, to make a man even forget the joys of Edition: current; Page: [179] love, so powerful and overcoming is the pleasure they bring us.

ModernGreek: 14. Of all this these gentlemen have not the least share, nor do they so much as pretend or desire to have any. But while they are sinking and depressing their contemplative part into the body, and dragging it down by their sensual and intemperate appetites, as by so many weights of lead, they make themselves appear little better than hostlers or graziers that still ply their cattle with hay, straw, or grass, looking upon such provender as the properest and meetest food for them. And is it not even thus they would swill the mind with the pleasures of the body, as hogherds do their swine, while they will not allow it can be gay any longer than it is hoping, feeling, or remembering something that refers to the body; but will not have it either to receive or seek for any congenial joy or satisfaction from within itself? Though what can be more absurd and unreasonable than — when there are two things that go to make up the man, a body and a soul, and the soul besides hath the prerogative of governing — that the body should have its peculiar, natural, and proper good, and the soul none at all, but must sit gazing at the body and simper at its passions, as if she were pleased and affected with them, though indeed she be all the while wholly untouched and unconcerned, as having nothing of her own to choose, desire, or take delight in? For they should either pull off the vizor quite, and say plainly that man is all body (as some of them do, that take away all mental being), or, if they will allow us to have two distinct natures, they should then leave to each its proper good and evil, agreeable and disagreeable, as we find it to be with our senses, each of which is peculiarly adapted to its own sensible, though they all very strangely intercommune one with another. Now the intellect is the proper sense of the mind; and therefore Edition: current; Page: [180] that it should have no congenial speculation, movement, or affection of its own, the attaining to which should be matter of complacency to it, is the most irrational thing in the world, if I have not, by Jove, unwittingly done the men wrong, and been myself imposed upon by some that may perhaps have caluminated them.

ModernGreek: 15. Then I said to him: If we may be your judges, you have not; yea, we must acquit you of having offered them the least indignity; and therefore pray despatch the rest of your discourse with assurance. How! said he, and shall not Aristodemus then succeed me, if you are tired out yourself? Aristodemus said: With all my heart, when you are as much tired as he is; but since you are yet in your vigor, pray make use of yourself, my noble friend, and don’t think to pretend weariness. Theon then replied: What is yet behind, I must confess, is very easy; it being but to go over the several pleasures contained in that part of life that consists in action. Now themselves somewhere say that there is far more satisfaction in doing than in receiving good; and good may be done many times, it is true, by words, but the most and greatest part of good consists in action, as the very name of beneficence tells us and they themselves also attest. For you may remember, continued he, we heard this gentleman tell us but now what words Epicurus uttered, and what letters he sent to his friends, applauding and magnifying Metrodorus, — how bravely and like a spark he quitted the city and went down to the port to relieve Mithrus the Syrian, — and this, though Metrodorus did not then do any thing at all. What and how great then may we presume the pleasures of Plato to have been, when Dion by the measures he gave him deposed the tyrant Dionysius and set Sicily at liberty? And what the pleasures of Aristotle, when he rebuilt his native city Stagira, then levelled with the ground, and brought back its exiled inhabitants? Edition: current; Page: [181] And what the pleasures of Theophrastus and of Phidias, when they cut off the tyrants of their respective countries? For what need a man recount to you, who so well know it, how many particular persons they relieved, not by sending them a little wheat or a measure of meal (as Epicurus did to some of his friends), but by procuring restoration to the banished, liberty to the imprisoned, and restitution of wives and children to those that had been bereft of them? But a man could not, if he would, pass by the sottish stupidity of the man who, though he tramples under foot and vilifies the great and generous actions of Themistocles and Miltiades, yet writes these very words to his friends about himself: “You have given a very gallant and noble testimony of your care of me in the provision of corn you have made for me, and have declared your affection to me by signs that mount to the very skies.” So that, should a man but take that poor parcel of corn out of the great philosopher’s epistle, it might seem to be the recital of some letter of thanks for the delivery or preservation of all Greece or of the commons of Athens.

ModernGreek: 16. We will now forbear to mention that Nature requires very large and chargeable provisions to be made for accomplishing the pleasures of the body; nor can the height of delicacy be had in barley bread and lentil pottage. But voluptuous and sensual appetites expect costly dishes, Thasian wines, perfumed unguents, and varieties of pastry works,

  • And cakes by female hands wrought artfully,
  • Well steep’d in th’ liquor of the gold-wing’d bee;*

and besides all this, handsome young lassies too, such as Leontion, Boidion, Hedia, and Nicedion, that were wont to roam about in Epicurus’s philosophic garden. But now such joys as suit the mind must undoubtedly be grounded Edition: current; Page: [182] upon a grandeur of actions and a splendor of worthy deeds, if men would not seem little, ungenerous, and puerile, but on the contrary, bulky, firm, and brave. But for a man to be elated with pleasures, as Epicurus is, like tarpaulins upon the festivals of Venus, and to vaunt himself that, when he was sick of an ascites, he notwithstanding called his friends together to certain collations and grudged not his dropsy the satisfaction of good liquors, and that, when he called to remembrance the last words of Neocles, he was melted with a peculiar sort of joy intermixed with tears, — no man in his right senses would call these true joys or satisfactions. Nay, I will be bold to say that, if such a thing as that they call a sardonic or grinning laughter can happen to the mind, it is to be found in these forcings and crying laughters. But if any will needs have them still called by the name of joys and satisfactions, let him but yet think how far they are exceeded by the pleasures that here ensue:

Our counsels have proud Sparta’s glory clipt;


Stranger, this is his country Rome’s great star;

and again this,

I know not which to guess thee, man or God.

Now when I set before my eyes the brave achievements of Thrasybulus and Pelopidas, of Aristides engaged at Plataea and Miltiades at Marathon, I am here constrained with Herodotus to declare it my opinion, that in an active state of life the pleasure far exceeds the glory. And Epaminondas herein bears me witness also, when he saith (as is reported of him), that the greatest satisfaction he ever received in his life was that his father and mother had lived to see the trophy set up at Leuctra when himself was general. Let us then compare with Epaminondas’s Epicurus’s mother, rejoicing that she had lived to see her son cooping himself up in a little garden, and getting children in common Edition: current; Page: [183] with Polyaenus upon the strumpet of Cyzicus. As for Metrodorus’s mother and sister, how extravagantly rejoiced they were at his nuptials appears by the letters he wrote to his brother in answer to his; that is, out of his own books. Nay, they tell us bellowing that they have not only lived a life of pleasure, but also exult and sing hymns in the praise of their own living. Now, when our servants celebrate the festivals of Saturn or go in procession at the time of the rural bacchanals, you would scarcely brook the hollowing and din they make, should the intemperateness of their joy and their insensibleness of decorum make them act and speak such things as these:

  • Lean down, boy! why dost sit! let’s tope like mad!
  • Here’s belly-timber store; ne’er spare it, lad.
  • Straight these huzza like wild. One fills up drink;
  • Another plaits a wreath, and crowns the brink
  • O’ th’ teeming bowl. Then to the verdant bays
  • All chant rude carols in Apollo’s praise;
  • While one his door with drunken fury smites,
  • Till he from bed his pretty consort frights.

And are not Metrodorus’s words something like to these when he writes to his brother thus: It is none of our business to preserve the Greeks, or to get them to bestow garlands upon us for our wit, but to eat well and drink good wine, Timocrates, so as not to offend but pleasure our stomachs. And he saith again, in some other place in the same epistles: How gay and how assured was I, when I had once learned of Epicurus the true way of gratifying my stomach; for, believe me, philosopher Timocrates, our prime good lies at the stomach.

ModernGreek: 17. In brief, these men draw out the dimensions of their pleasures like a circle, about the stomach as a centre. And the truth is, it is impossible for those men ever to participate of generous and princely joy, such as enkindles a height of spirit in us and sends forth to all mankind an unmade hilarity and calm serenity, that have taken up a sort of life that is confined, unsocial, inhuman, and uninspired Edition: current; Page: [184] towards the esteem of the world and the love of mankind. For the soul of man is not an abject, little, and ungenerous thing, nor doth it extend its desires (as polyps do their claws) unto eatables only, — yea, these are in an instant of time taken off by the least plenitude, — but when its efforts towards what is brave and generous and the honors and caresses that accrue therefrom are now in their consummate vigor, this life’s duration cannot limit them, but the desire of glory and the love of mankind grasp at whole eternity, and wrestle with such actions and charms as bring with them an ineffable pleasure, and such as good men, though never so fain, cannot decline, they meeting and accosting them on all sides and surrounding them about, while their being beneficial to many occasions joy to themselves.

  • As he passes through the throngs in the city,
  • All gaze upon him as some Deity.*

For he that can so affect and move other men as to fill them with joy and rapture, and to make them long to touch him and salute him, cannot but appear even to a blind man to possess and enjoy very extraordinary satisfactions in himself. And hence it comes that such men are both indefatigable and undaunted in serving the public, and we still hear some such words from them:

Thy father got thee for the common good;


Let’s not give off to benefit mankind.

But what need I instance in those that are consummately good? For if to one of the middling rank of bad men, when he is just a dying, he that hath the power over him (whether his God or prince) should but allow one hour more, upon condition that, after he hath spent that either in some generous action or in sensual enjoyment, he should then presently die, who would in this time choose rather to Edition: current; Page: [185] accompany with Lais or drink Ariusian wine, than to despatch Archias and restore the Thebans to their liberties? For my part I believe none would. For I see that even common sword-players, if they are not utter brutes and savages, but Greek born, when they are to enter the list, though there be many and very costly dishes set before them, yet take more content in employing their time in commending their poor wives to some of their friends, yea, and in conferring freedom on their slaves, than in gratifying their stomachs. But should the pleasures of the body be allowed to have some extraordinary matter in them, this would yet be common to men of action and business.

For they can eat good meat, and red wine drink,*

aye, and entertain themselves with their friends, and perhaps with a greater relish too, after their engagements and hard services, — as did Alexander and Agesilaus, and (by Jove) Phocion and Epaminondas too, — than these gentlemen who anoint themselves by the fireside, and are gingerly rocked about the streets in sedans. Yea, those make but small account of such pleasures as these, as being comprised in those greater ones. For why should a man mention Epaminondas’s denying to sup with one, when he saw the preparations made were above the man’s estate, but frankly telling his friend, “I thought you had intended a sacrifice and not a debauch,” when Alexander himself refused Queen Ada’s cooks, telling her he had better ones of his own, to wit, travelling by night for his dinner, and a light dinner for his supper, and when Philoxenus writing to him about some handsome boys, and desiring to know of him whether he would have him buy them for him, was within a small matter of being discharged his office for it? And yet who might better have them than he? But as Hippocrates saith that of two pains the lesser Edition: current; Page: [186] is obscured by the greater, so the pleasures that accrue from action and the love of glory, while they cheer and refresh the mind, do by their transcendency and grandeur obliterate and extinguish the inferior satisfactions of the body.

ModernGreek: 18. If then the remembering of former good things (as they affirm) be that which most contributes to a pleasurable living, not one of us will then credit Epicurus when he tells us that, while he was dying away in the midst of the strongest agonies and distempers, he yet bore himself up with the memory of the pleasures he formerly enjoyed. For a man may better see the resemblance of his own face in a troubled deep or a storm, than a smooth and smiling remembrance of past pleasure in a body tortured with such lancing and rending pains. But now the memories of past actions no man can put from him that would. For did Alexander, think you, (or indeed could he possibly) forget the fight at Arbela? Or Pelopidas the tyrant Leontiadas? Or Themistocles the engagement at Salamis? For the Athenians to this very day keep an annual festival for the battle at Marathon, and the Thebans for that at Leuctra; and so, by Jove, do we ourselves (as you very well know) for that which Daiphantus gained at Hyampolis, and all Phocis is filled with sacrifices and public honors. Nor is there any of us that is better satisfied with what himself hath either eaten or drunk than he is with what they have achieved. It is very easy then to imagine what great content, satisfaction, and joy accompanied the authors of these actions in their lifetime, when the very memory of them hath not yet after five hundred years and more lost its rejoicing power. The truth is, Epicurus himself allows there are some pleasures derived from fame. And indeed why should he not, when he himself had such a furious lechery and wriggling after glory as made him not only to disown his masters and scuffle about syllables and accents with his fellow-pedant Democritus Edition: current; Page: [187] (whose doctrines he stole verbatim), and to tell his disciples there never was a wise man in the world besides himself, but also to put it in writing how Colotes performed adoration to him, as he was one day philosophizing, by touching his knees, and that his own brother Neocles was used from a child to say, “There neither is, nor ever was in the world, a wiser man than Epicurus,” and that his mother had just so many atoms within her as, when they came together, must have produced a complete wise man? May not a man then — as Callicratidas once said of the Athenian admiral Conon, that he whored the sea — as well say of Epicurus that he basely and covertly forces and ravishes Fame, by not enjoying her publicly but ruffling and debauching her in a corner? For as men’s bodies are oft necessitated by famine, for want of other food, to prey against nature upon themselves, a like mischief to this does vain-glory create in men’s minds, forcing them, when they hunger after praise and cannot obtain it from other men, at last to commend themselves.

ModernGreek: 19. And do not they then that stand so well affected towards applause and fame themselves own they cast away very extraordinary pleasures, when they decline magistrature, public offices, and the favor and confidences of princes, from whom Democritus once said the grandest blessings of human life are derived? For he will never induce any mortal to believe, that he that could so highly value and please himself with the attestation of his brother Neocles and the adoration of his friend Colotes would not, were he clapped by all the Greeks at the Olympiads, go quite out of his wits and even hollow for joy, or rather indeed be elated in the manner spoken of by Sophocles,

Puffed like the down of a gray-headed thistle.

If it be a pleasing thing then to be of a good fame, it is on the contrary afflictive to be of an ill one; and it is most certain that nothing in the world can be more infamous Edition: current; Page: [188] than want of friendship, idleness, atheism, debauchery, and negligence. Now these are looked upon by all men except themselves as inseparable companions of their party. But unjustly, some one may say. Be it so then; for we consider not now the truth of the charge, but what fame and reputation they are of in the world. And we shall forbear at present to mention the many books that have been written to defame them, and the blackening decrees made against them by several republics; for that would look like bitterness. But if the answers of oracles, the providence of the Gods, and the tenderness and affection of parents to their issue, — if civil policy, military order, and the office of magistracy be things to be looked upon as deservedly esteemed and celebrated, it must of necessity then be allowed also, that they that tell us it is none of their business to preserve the Greeks, but they must eat and drink so as not to offend but pleasure their stomachs, are base and ignominious persons, and that their being reputed such must needs extremely humble them and make their lives untoward to them, if they take honor and a good name for any part of their satisfaction.

ModernGreek: 20. When Theon had thus spoken, we thought good to break up our walk to rest us awhile (as we were wont to do) upon the benches. Nor did we continue any long space in our silence at what was spoken; for Zeuxippus, taking his hint from what had been said, spake to us: Who will make up that of the discourse which is yet behind? For it hath not yet received its due conclusion; and this gentleman, by mentioning divination and providence, did in my opinion suggest as much to us; for these people boast that these very things contribute in no small degree to the providing of their lives with pleasure, serenity, and assurance; so that there must be something said to these too. Aristodemus subjoined then and said: As to pleasure, I think there hath been enough said already Edition: current; Page: [189] to evince that, supposing their doctrine to be successful and to attain its own design, it yet doth but ease us of fear and a certain superstitious persuasion, but helps us not to any comfort or joy from the Gods at all; nay, while it brings us to such a state as to be neither disquieted nor pleased with them, it doth but render us in the same manner affected towards them as we are towards the Scythians or Hyrcanians, from whom we expect neither good nor harm. But if something more must yet be added to what hath been already spoken, I think I may very well take it from themselves. And in the first place, they quarrel extremely with those that would take away all sorrowing, weeping, and sighing for the death of friends, and tell them that such unconcernedness as arrives to an insensibility proceeds from some other worse cause, to wit, inhumanity, excessive vain-glory, or prodigious fierceness, and that therefore it would be better to be a little concerned and affected, yea, and to liquor one’s eyes and be melted, with other pretty things of the like kind, which they use foppishly to affect and counterfeit, that they may be thought tender and loving-hearted people. For just in this manner Epicurus expressed himself upon the occasion of the death of Hegesianax, when he wrote to Dositheus the father and to Pyrson the brother of the deceased person; for I fortuned very lately to run over his epistles. And I say, in imitation of them, that atheism is no less an evil than inhumanity and vain-glory, and into this they would lead us who take away with God’s anger the comfort we might derive from him. For it would be much better for us to have something of the unsuiting passion of dauntedness and fear conjoined and intermixed with our sentiments of a Deity, than while we fly from it, to leave ourselves neither hope, comfort, nor assurance in the enjoyment of our good things, nor any recourse to God in our adversity and misfortunes.

Edition: current; Page: [190]

ModernGreek: 21. We ought, it is true, to remove superstition from the persuasion we have of the Gods, as we would the gum from our eyes; but if that be impossible, we must not root out and extinguish with it the belief which the most have of the Gods; nor is that a dismaying and sour one either, as these gentlemen feign, while they libel and abuse the blessed Providence, representing her as a hobgoblin or as some fell and tragic fury. Yea, I must tell you, there are some in the world that fear God in an excess, for whom yet it would not be better not so to fear him. For, while they dread him as a governor that is gentle to the good and severe to the bad, and are by this one fear, which makes them not to need many others, freed from doing ill and brought to keep their wickedness with them in quiet and (as it were) in an enfeebled languor, they come hereby to have less disquiet than those that indulge the practice of it and are rash and daring in it, and then presently after fear and repent of it. Now that disposition of mind which the greater and ignorant part of mankind, that are not utterly bad, are of towards God, hath, it is very true, conjoined with the regard and honor they pay him, a kind of anguish and astonished dread, which is also called superstition; but ten thousand times more and greater than this are the good hope and true joy that attend it, which both implore and receive the whole benefit of prosperity and good success from the Gods only. And this is manifest by the greatest tokens that can be; for neither do the discourses of those that wait at the temples; nor the good times of our solemn festivals, nor any other actions or sights more recreate and delight us than what we see and do about the Gods ourselves, while we assist at the public ceremonies, and join in the sacred balls, and attend at the sacrifices and initiations. For the mind is not then sorrowful, demiss, and heavy, as she would be if she were addressing Edition: current; Page: [191] to certain tyrants or cruel torturers; but on the contrary, where she is most apprehensive and fullest persuaded the Divinity is present, there she most of all throws off sorrows, tears, and pensiveness, and lets herself loose to what is pleasing and agreeable, to the very degree of tipsiness, frolic, and laughter. In amorous concerns, as the poet said once,

  • When old man and old wife think of love’s fires,
  • Their frozen breasts will swell with new desires;

but now in the public processions and sacrifices not only the old man and the old wife, nor yet the poor and mean man only, but also

The dusty thick-legged drab that turns the mill,

and household-slaves and day-laborers, are strangely elevated and transported with mirth and jovialty. Rich men as well as princes are used at certain times to make public entertainments and to keep open houses; but the feasts they make at the solemnities and sacrifices, when they now apprehend their minds to approach nearest the Divinity, have conjoined with the honor and veneration which they pay him a much more transcending pleasure and satisfaction. Of this, he that hath renounced God’s providence hath not the least share; for what recreates and cheers us at the festivals is not the store of good wine and roast meat, but the good hope and persuasion that God is there present and propitious to us, and kindly accepts of what we do. From some of our festivals we exclude the flute and garland; but if God be not present at the sacrifice, as the solemnity of the banquet, the rest is but unhallowed, unfeast-like, and uninspired. Indeed the whole is but ungrateful and irksome to such a man; for he asks for nothing at all, but only acts his prayers and adorations for fear of the public, and utters expressions contradictory to his philosophy. And when he sacrifices, he stands by and looks upon the priest as he kills Edition: current; Page: [192] the offering but as he doth upon a butcher; and when he hath done, he goes his way, saying with Menander,

  • To bribe the Gods I sacrificed my best,
  • But they ne’er minded me nor my request.

For such a mien Epicurus would have us to put on, and neither to envy nor to incur the hatred of the common sort by doing ourselves with displeasure what others do with delight. For, as Evenus saith,

No man can love what he is made to do.

For which very reason they think the superstitious are not pleased in their minds but in fear while they attend at the sacrifices and mysteries; though they themselves are in no better condition, if they do the same things out of fear, and partake not either of as great good hope as the others do, but are only fearful and uneasy lest they should come to be discovered cheating and abusing the public, upon whose account it is that they compose the books they write about the Gods and the Divine Nature,

  • Involved, with nothing truly said,
  • But all around enveloped;

hiding out of fear the real opinions they contain.

ModernGreek: 22. And now, after the two former ranks of ill and common men, we will in the third place consider the best sort and most beloved of the Gods, and what great satisfactions they receive from their clean and generous sentiments of the Deity, to wit, that he is the Prince of all good things and the Parent of all things brave, and can no more do an unworthy thing than he can be made to suffer it. For he is good, and he that is good can upon no account fall into envy, fear, anger, or hatred; for it is not proper to a hot thing to cool, but to heat; nor to a good thing to do harm. Now anger is by nature at the farthest distance imaginable from complacency, and spleenishness from placidness, and animosity and turbulence from Edition: current; Page: [193] humanity and kindness. For the latter of these proceed from generosity and fortitude, but the former from impotency and baseness. The Deity is not therefore constrained by either anger or kindnesses; but that is because it is natural to it to be kind and aiding, and unnatural to be angry and hurtful. But the great Jove, whose mansion is in heaven and who drives his winged chariot, is the first that descends downwards and orders all things and takes the care of them. But of the other Gods one is surnamed the Distributer, and another the Mild, and a third the Averter of Evil. And according to Pindar,

  • Apollo was by mighty Jove designed
  • Of all the Gods to be to man most kind.

And Diogenes saith, that all things are the Gods’, and friends have all things common, and good men are the Gods’ friends; and therefore it is impossible either that a man beloved of the Gods should not be happy, or that a wise and a just man should not be beloved of the Gods. Can you think then that they that take away Providence need any other chastisement, or that they have not a sufficient one already, when they root out of themselves such vast satisfaction and joy as we that stand thus affected towards the Deity have? Metrodorus, Polyaenus, and Aristobulus were the confidence and rejoicing of Epicurus; the better part of whom he all his lifetime either attended upon in their sicknesses or lamented at their deaths. So did Lycurgus, when he was saluted by the Delphic prophetess,

Dear friend to heavenly Jove and all the Gods.

And did Socrates when he believed that a certain Divinity was used out of kindness to discourse him, and Pindar when he heard Pan sing one of the sonnets he had composed, but a little rejoice, think you? Or Phormio, when he thought he had treated Castor and Pollux at his Edition: current; Page: [194] house? Or Sophocles, when he entertained Aesculapius, as both he himself believed, and others too, that thought the same with him by reason of the apparition that then happened? What opinion Hermogenes had of the Gods is well worth the recounting in his very own words. “For these Gods,” saith he, “who know all things and can do all things, are so friendly and loving to me that, because they take care of me, I never escape them either by night or by day, wherever I go or whatever I am about. And because they know beforehand what issue every thing will have, they signify it to me by sending angels, voices, dreams, and presages.”

ModernGreek: 23. Very amiable things must those be that come to us from the Gods; but when these very things come by the Gods too, this is what occasions vast satisfaction and unspeakable assurance, a sublimity of mind and a joy that, like a smiling brightness, doth as it were gild over our good things with a glory. But now those that are persuaded otherwise obstruct the very sweetest part of their prosperity, and leave themselves nothing to turn to in their adversity; but when they are in distress, look only to this one refuge and port, dissolution and insensibility; just as if in a storm or tempest at sea, some one should, to hearten the rest, stand up and say to them: Gentlemen, the ship hath never a pilot in it, nor will Castor and Pollux come themselves to assuage the violence of the beating waves or to lay the swift careers of the winds; yet I can assure you there is nothing at all to be dreaded in all this, for the vessel will be immediately swallowed up by the sea, or else will very quickly fall off and be dashed in pieces against the rocks. For this is Epicurus’s way of discourse to persons under grievous distempers and excessive pains. Dost thou hope for any good from the Gods for thy piety? It is thy vanity; for the blessed and incorruptible Being is not constrained by either angers or kindnesses. Dost thou Edition: current; Page: [195] fancy something better after this life than what thou hast here? Thou dost but deceive thyself; for what is dissolved hath no sense, and that which hath no sense is nothing to us. Aye; but how comes it then, my good friend, that you bid me eat and be merry? Why, by Jove, because he that is in a great storm cannot be far off a shipwreck; and your extreme peril will soon land you upon Death’s strand. Though yet a passenger at sea, when he is got off from a shattered ship, will still buoy himself up with some little hope that he may drive his body to some shore and get out by swimming; but now the poor soul, according to these men’s philosophy,

Has no escape beyond the hoary main.*

Yea, she presently evaporates, disperses, and perishes, even before the body itself; so that it seems her great and excessive rejoicing must be only for having learned this one sage and divine maxim, that all her misfortunes will at last determine in her own destruction, dissolution, and annihilation.

ModernGreek: 24. But (said he, looking upon me) I should be impertinent, should I say any thing upon this subject, when we have heard you but now discourse so fully against those that would persuade us that Epicurus’s doctrine about the soul renders men more disposed and better pleased to die than Plato’s doth. Zeuxippus therefore subjoined and said: And must our present debate be left then unfinished because of that? Or shall we be afraid to oppose that divine oracle to Epicurus? No, by no means, I said; and Empedocles tells us that

What’s very good claims to be heard twice.

Therefore we must apply ourselves again to Theon; for I think he was present at our former discourse; and moreover, Edition: current; Page: [196] he is a young man, and needs not fear being charged by these young gentlemen with having a bad memory.

ModernGreek: 25. Then Theon, like one constrained, said: Well then, if you will needs have me to go on with the discourse, I will not do as you did, Aristodemus. For you were shy of repeating what this gentleman spoke, but I shall not scruple to make use of what you have said; for I think indeed you did very well divide mankind into three ranks; the first of wicked and very bad men, the second of the vulgar and common sort, and the third of good and wise men. The wicked and bad sort then, while they dread any kind of divine vengeance and punishment at all, and are by this deterred from doing mischief, and thereby enjoy the greater quiet, will live both in more pleasure and in less disturbance for it. And Epicurus is of opinion that the only proper means to keep men from doing ill is the fear of punishments. So that we should cram them with more and more superstition still, and raise up against them terrors, chasms, frights, and surmises, both from heaven and earth, if their being amazed with such things as these will make them become the more tame and gentle. For it is more for their benefit to be restrained from criminal actions by the fear of what comes after death, than to commit them and then to live in perpetual danger and fear.

ModernGreek: 26. As to the vulgar sort, besides their fear of what is in hell, the hope they have conceived of an eternity from the tales and fictions of the ancients, and their great desire of being, which is both the earliest and the strongest of all, exceed in pleasure and sweet content of mind that childish dread. And therefore, when they lose their children, wives or friends, they would rather have them be somewhere and still remain, though in misery, than that they should be quite destroyed, dissolved, and reduced to nothing. And they are pleased when they hear it said of Edition: current; Page: [197] a dying person, that he goes away or departs, and such other words as intimate death to be the soul’s remove and not destruction. And they sometimes speak thus:

But I’ll even there think on my dearest friend;*

and thus:

  • What’s your command to Hector? Let me know;
  • Or to your dear old Priam shall I go?

And (there arising hereupon an erroneous deviation) they are the better pleased when they bury with their departed friends such arms, implements, or clothes as were most familiar to them in their lifetime; as Minos did the Cretan flutes with Glaucus,

Made of the shanks of a dead brindled fawn.

And if they do but imagine they either ask or desire any thing of them, they are glad when they give it them. Thus Periander burnt his queen’s attire with her, because he thought she had asked for it and complained she was acold. Nor doth an Aeacus, an Ascalaphus, or an Acheron much disorder them whom they have often gratified with balls, shows, and music of every sort. But now all men shrink from that face of death which carries with it insensibility, oblivion, and extinction of knowledge, as being dismal, grim, and dark. And they are discomposed when they hear it said of any one, he is perished, or he is gone, or he is no more; and they show great uneasiness when they hear such words as these:

  • Go to the wood-clad earth he must,
  • And there lie shrivelled into dust,
  • And ne’er more laugh or drink, or hear
  • The charming sounds of flute or lyre;

and these:

  • But from our lips the vital spirit fled
  • Returns no more to wake the silent dead.
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ModernGreek: 27. Wherefore they must needs cut the very throats of them that shall with Epicurus tell them, We men were born once for all, and we cannot be born twice, but our not being must last for ever. For this will bring them to slight their present good as little, or rather indeed as nothing at all compared with everlastingness, and therefore to let it pass unenjoyed and to become wholly negligent of virtue and action, as men disheartened and brought to a contempt of themselves, as being but as it were of one day’s continuance and uncertain, and born for no considerable purpose. For insensibility, dissolution, and the conceit that what hath no sense is nothing to us, do not at all abate the fear of death, but rather help to confirm it; for this very thing is it that nature most dreads, —

But may you all return to mould and wet,*

to wit, the dissolution of the soul into what is without knowledge or sense. Now, while Epicurus would have this to be a separation into atoms and void, he doth but further cut off all hope of immortality; to compass which (I can scarce refrain from saying) all men and women would be well contented to be worried by Cerberus, and to carry water into the tub full of holes, so they might but continue in being and not be exterminated. Though (as I said before) there are not very many that stand in fear of these things, they being but the tenets of old women and the fabulous stories of mothers and nurses, — and even they that do fear them yet believe that certain rites of initiation and purgation will relieve them, by which being cleansed they shall play and dance in hell for ever, in company with those that have the privilege of a bright light, clear air, and the use of speech, — still to be deprived of living disturbs all both young and old. For it seems that we

Impatient love the light that shines on earth,

Edition: current; Page: [199]

as Euripides saith. Nor are we easy or without regret when we hear this:

  • Him speaking thus th’ eternal brightness leaves,
  • Where night the wearied steeds of day receives.

ModernGreek: 28. And therefore it is very plain that with the belief of immortality they take away the sweetest and greatest hopes the vulgar sort have. And what shall we then think they take away from the good and those that have led pious and just lives, who expect no ill after death, but on the contrary most glorious and divine things? For, in the first place, champions are not used to receive the garland before they have performed their exercises, but after they have contested and proved victorious; in like manner is it with those that are persuaded that good men have the prize of their conquests after this life is ended; it is marvellous to think to what a pitch of grandeur their virtue raises their spirits upon the contemplation of those hopes, among the which this is one, that they shall one day see those men that are now insolent by reason of their wealth and power, and that foolishly flout at their betters, undergo just punishment. In the next place, none of the lovers of truth and the contemplation of being have here their fill of them; they having but a watery and puddled reason to speculate with, as it were, through the fog and mist of the body; and yet they still look upwards like birds, as ready to take their flight to the spacious and bright region, and endeavor to make their souls expedite and light from things mortal, using philosophy as a study and preparation for death. Thus I account death a truly great and accomplished good thing; the soul being to live there a real life, which here lives not a waking life, but suffers things most resembling dreams. If then (as Epicurus saith) the remembrance of a dead friend be a thing every way complacent; we may easily from thence imagine how great a joy they deprive themselves of who Edition: current; Page: [200] think they do but embrace and pursue the phantoms and shades of their deceased familiars, that have in them neither knowledge nor sense, but who never expect to be with them again, or to see their dear father and dear mother and sweet wife, nor have any hopes of that familiarity and dear converse they have that think of the soul with Pythagoras, Plato, and Homer. Now what their sort of passion is like to was hinted at by Homer, when he threw into the midst of the soldiers, as they were engaged, the shade of Aeneas, as if he had been dead, and afterwards again presented his friends with him himself,

Coming alive and well, as brisk as ever,

at which, he saith,

They all were overjoyed.*

And should not we then, — when reason shows us that a real converse with persons departed this life may be had, and that he that loves may both feel and be with the party that affects and loves him, — relinquish these men that cannot so much as cast off all those airy shades and outside barks for which they are all their time in lamentation and fresh afflictions?

ModernGreek: 29. Moreover, they that look upon death as the commencement of another and better life, if they enjoy good things, are the better pleased with them, as expecting much greater hereafter; but if they have not things here to their minds, they do not much grumble at it, but the hopes of those good and excellent things that are after death contain in them such ineffable pleasures and expectances, that they wipe off and wholly obliterate every defect and every offence from the mind, which, as on a road or rather indeed in a short deviation out of the road, bears whatever befalls it with great ease and moderation. Edition: current; Page: [201] But now, as to those to whom life ends in insensibility and dissolution, — since death brings to them no removal of evils, though it is afflicting in both conditions, yet is it more so to those that live prosperously than to such as undergo adversity. For it cuts the latter but from an uncertain hope of doing better hereafter; but it deprives the former of a certain good, to wit, their pleasurable living. And as those medicinal potions that are not grateful to the palate but yet necessary give sick men ease, but rake and hurt the well; just so, in my opinion, doth the philosophy of Epicurus, which promises to those that live miserably no happiness in death, and to those that do well an utter extinction and dissolution of the mind, while it quite obstructs the comfort and solace of the grave and wise and those that abound with good things, by throwing them down from a happy living into a deprivation of both life and being. From hence then it is manifest, that the contemplation of the loss of good things will afflict us in as great a measure as either the firm hope or present enjoyment of them delights us.

ModernGreek: 30. Yea, themselves tell us, that the contemplation of future dissolution leaves them one most assured and complacent good, to wit, freedom from anxious surmises of incessant and endless evils, and that Epicurus’s doctrine effects this by stopping the fear of death by the belief in the soul’s dissolution. If then deliverance from the expectation of infinite evils be a matter of greatest complacence, how comes it not to be afflictive to be bereft of eternal good things and to miss of the highest and most consummate felicity? For not to be can be good for neither condition, but is on the contrary both against nature and ungrateful to all that have a being. But those it eases of the evils of life through the evils of death have, it is very true, the want of sense to comfort them, while they, as it were, make their escape from life. But, Edition: current; Page: [202] on the other hand, they that change from good things to nothing seem to me to have the most dismaying end of all, it putting a period to their happiness. For Nature doth not fear insensibility as the entrance upon some new thing, but because it is the privation of our present good things. For to say that the destruction of all that we call ours toucheth us not is absurd, for it toucheth us already by the very apprehension. And insensibility afflicts not those that are not, but those that are, when they think what damage they shall sustain by it in the loss of their beings and in being suffered never to emerge from annihilation. Wherefore it is neither the dog Cerberus nor the river Cocytus that has made our fear of death boundless; but the threatened danger of not being, representing it as impossible for such as are once extinct to shift back again into being. For we cannot be born twice, and our not being must last for ever; as Epicurus speaks. For if our end be in not being, and that be infinite and unalterable, then hath privation of good found out an eternal evil, to wit, a never ending insensibleness. Herodotus was much wiser, when he said that God, having given men a taste of the sweets of life, seems to be envious in this regard,* and especially to those that conceit themselves happy, to whom pleasure is but a bait for sorrow, they being but permitted to taste of what they must be deprived of. For what solace or fruition or exultation would not the perpetual injected thought of the soul’s being dispersed into infinity, as into a certain huge and vast ocean, extinguish and quell in those that found their amiable good and beatitude in pleasure? But if it be true (as Epicurus thinks it is) that most men die in very acute pain, then is the fear of death in all respects inconsolable; it bringing us through evils unto a deprivation of good

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ModernGreek: 31. And yet they are never wearied with their brawling and dunning of all persons to take the escape of evil for a good, and yet not to repute privation of good for an evil. But they still confess what we have asserted, that death hath in it nothing of either good hope or solace, but that all that is complacent and good is then wholly extinguished; at which time those men look for many amiable, great, and divine things, that conceive the minds of men to be unperishable and immortal, or at least to go about in certain long revolutions of times, being one while upon earth and another while in heaven, until they are at last dissolved with the universe and then, together with the sun and moon, sublimed into an intellective fire. So large a field and one of so great pleasures Epicurus wholly cuts off, when he destroys (as hath been said) the hopes and graces we should derive from the Gods, and by that extinguishes both in our speculative capacity the desire of knowledge, and in our active the love of glory, and confines and abases our nature to a poor narrow thing, and that not cleanly neither, to wit, the content the mind receives by the body, as if it were capable of no higher good than the escape of evil.

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Question 1. Wherefore do the Romans require a new-married woman to touch fire and water?

Solution. Is it not for one of these reasons; amongst elements and principles, one is masculine and the other feminine; — one (fire) hath in it the principles of motion, the other (water) hath the faculty of a subject and matter? Or is it because fire refines and water cleanseth, and a married wife ought to continue pure and chaste? Or is it because fire without moisture doth not nourish, but is adust, and water destitute of heat is barren and sluggish; so both the male and female apart are of no force, but a conjunction of both in marriage completes society? Or is the meaning that they must never forsake each other, but must communicate in every fortune, and although there be no goods, yet they may participate with each other in fire and water?

Question 2. Why do they light at nuptials five torches, neither more nor less, which they call waxen tapers?

Solution. Whether it be (as Varro saith) that the Praetors use three, but more are permitted to the Aediles, and married persons do light the fire at the Aediles’ torches? Or is it that, having use of many numbers, the odd number was reckoned better and perfecter upon other accounts, and therefore more adapted to matrimony? For the even number admits of division, and the equal parts of opposition and repugnancy, whenas the odd cannot be Edition: current; Page: [205] divided, but being divided into parts leaves always an inequality. The number five is most matrimonial of odd numbers, for three is the first odd and two is the first even, of which five is compounded, as of male and female.

Or rather, because light is a sign of generation, and it is natural to a woman, for the most part, to bring forth so far as five successively, and therefore they use five torches? Or is it because they suppose that married persons have occasion for five Gods, Nuptial Jupiter, Nuptial Juno, Venus, Suada, and above all the rest Diana, whom women invocate in their travail and child-bed sickness?

Question 3. What is the reason that, seeing there are so many of Diana’s temples in Rome, the men refrain going into that only which stands in Patrician Street?

Solution. Is it upon the account of the fabulous story, that a certain man, ravishing a woman that was there worshipping the Goddess, was torn in pieces by dogs; and hence this superstitious practice arose, that men enter not in?

Question 4. Why do they in all other temples of Diana ordinarily nail up stags’ horns against the wall, whenas in that of the Aventine they nail up the horns of cattle?

Solution. Was it to put them in mind of an old casualty? For it is said, that among the Sabines one Antro Coratius had a very comely cow, far excelling all others in handsomeness and largeness, and was told by a certain diviner that whoever should offer up that cow in sacrifice to Diana on the Aventine, his city was determined by fate to be the greatest in the world and have dominion over all Italy. This man came to Rome, with an intention to sacrifice his cow there; but a servant acquainted King Servius privately with this privacy, and the king making it known to Cornelius the priest, Cornelius strictly commands Edition: current; Page: [206] Antro to wash in Tiber before he sacrificed, for the law equires men so to do who would sacrifice acceptably. Wherefore, whilst Antro went to wash, Servius took the opportunity to sacrifice the cow to the Goddess, and nailed up the horns to the wall in the temple. These things are storied by Juba and Varro, only Varro hath not described Antro by that name, neither doth he say that the Sabine was choused by Cornelius the priest, but by the sexton.

Question 5. Wherefore is it that those that are falsely reported to be dead in foreign countries, when they return, they receive not by the doors, but getting up to the roof of the house, they let them in that way?

Solution. Verily the account which Varro gives of this matter is altogether fabulous. For he saith, in the Sicilian war, when there was a great naval fight, and a very false report was rumored concerning many as if they were slain, all of them returning home in a little time died. But as one of them was going to enter in at his doors, they shut together against him of their own accord, neither could they be opened by any that attempted it. This man, falling in a sleep before the doors, saw an apparition in his sleep advising him to let himself down from the roof into the house, and doing so, he lived happily and became an old man; and hence the custom was confirmed to after ages. But consider if these things be not conformable to some usages of the Greeks. For they do not esteem those pure nor keep them company nor suffer them to approach their sacrifices, for whom any funeral was carried forth or sepulchre made as if they were dead; and they say that Aristinus, being one that was become an object of this sort of superstition, sent to Delphi to beg and beseech of the God a resolution of the anxieties and troubles which he had by reason of the custom then in force. Pythia answered thus: —

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  • The sacred rites t’ which child-bed folks conform,
  • See that thou do to blessed Gods perform.

Aristinus, well understanding the meaning of the oracle, puts himself into the women’s hands, to be washed and wrapped in swaddling clouts, and sucks the breasts, in the same manner as when he was newly born; and thus all others do, and such are called Hysteropotmi (i.e. those for whom a funeral was made while living). But some say that these ceremonies were before Aristinus, and that the custom was ancient. Wherefore it is not to be wondered at, if the Romans, when once they suppose a man buried and to have his lot among the dead, do not think it lawful for him to go in at the door whereat they that are about to sacrifice do go out or those that have sacrificed do enter in, but bid them ascend aloft into the air, and thence descend into the open court of the house. For they constantly offer their sacrifices of purification in this open court.

Question 6. Wherefore do women salute their relations with their mouth?

Solution. What if it should be (as many suppose) that women were forbid to drink wine; therefore that those that drank it might not be undiscovered, but convicted when they met with their acquaintance, kissing became a custom? Or is it for the reason which Aristotle the philosopher hath told us? Even that thing which was commonly reported and said to be done in many places, it seems, was enterprised by the Trojan women in the confines of Italy. For after the men arrived and went ashore, the women set the ships on fire, earnestly longing to be discharged of their roving and seafaring condition; but dreading their husbands’ displeasure, they fell on saluting their kindred and acquaintance that met them, by kissing and embracing; whereupon the husbands’ anger being appeased and they reconciled, they used for the future this Edition: current; Page: [208] kind of compliment towards them. Or rather might this usage be granted to women as a thing that gained them reputation and interest, if they appeared hereby to have many and good kindred and acquaintance? Or was it that, it being unlawful to marry kinswomen, a courteous behavior might proceed so far as a kiss, and this was retained only as a significant sign of kindred and a note of a familiar converse among them? For in former time they did not marry women nigh by blood, — as now they marry not aunts or sisters, — but of late they allowed the marrying of cousins for the following reason. A certain man, mean in estate, but on the other hand an honest and a popular man among the citizens, designed to marry his cousin being an heiress, and to get an estate by her. Upon this account he was accused; but the people took little notice of the accusation, and absolved him of the fault, enacting by vote that it might be lawful for any man to marry so far as cousins, but prohibited it to all higher degrees of consanguinity.

Question 7. Why is a husband forbid to receive a gift from his wife, and a wife from her husband?

Solution. What if the reason be as Solon writes it, — describing gifts to be peculiar to dying persons, unless a man being entangled by necessity or wheedled by a woman be enslaved to force which constrains him, or to pleasure which persuades him, — that thus the gifts of husbands and wives became suspected? Or is it that they reputed a gift the basest sign of benevolence (for strangers and they that have no love for us do give us presents), and so took away such a piece of flattery from marriage, that to love and be beloved should be devoid of mercenariness, should be spontaneous and for its own sake, and not for any thing else? Or because women, being corrupted by receiving gifts, are thereby especially brought to admit strangers, did it seem to be a weighty thing to require Edition: current; Page: [209] them to love their own husbands that give them nothing? Or was it because all things ought to be common between them, the husbands’ goods being the wives’, and the wives’ goods the husbands’? For he that accepts that which is given learns thereby to esteem that which is not given the property of another; so that, by giving but a little to each other, they strip each other of all.

Question 8. Why were they prohibited from taking a gift of a son-in-law or of a father-in-law?

Solution. Is it not of a son-in-law, that a man may not seem to convey a gift to his wife by his father’s hands? and of a father-in-law, because it seems just that he that doth not give should not receive?

Question 9. Wherefore is it that they that have wives at home, if they be returning out of the country or from any remote parts, do send a messenger before, to acquaint them that they be at hand?

Solution. Is not this an argument that a man believes his wife to be no idle gossip, whereas to come upon her suddenly and unexpectedly has a show as though he came hastily to catch her and observe her behavior? Or do they send the good tidings of their coming beforehand, as to them that are desirous of them and expect them? Or rather is it that they desire to enquire concerning their wives whether they are in health, and that they may find them at home looking for them? Or because, when the husbands are wanting, the women have more family concerns and business upon their hands, and there are more dissensions and hurly-burly among those that are within doors; therefore, that the wife may free herself from these things and give a calm and pleasant reception to her husband, she hath forewarning of his coming?

Question 10. Wherefore do men in divine service cover their heads; but if they meet any honorable personages Edition: current; Page: [210] when they have their cloaks on their heads, they are uncovered?

Solution. The latter part of the question seems to augment the difficulty of the former. If now the story told of Aeneas be true, that whilst Diomedes was passing by he offered a sacrifice with his head covered, it is rational and consequent that, while we cover our heads before our enemies, when we meet our friends and good men we should be uncovered. This behavior before the Gods therefore is not their peculiar right, but accidental, continuing to be observed since that example of Aeneas.

If there is any thing further to be said, consider whether we ought not to enquire only after the reason why men in divine service are covered, the other being the consequence of it. For they that are uncovered before men of greater power do not thereby ascribe honor unto them, but rather remove envy from them, that they might not seem to demand or to endure the same kind of reverence which the Gods have, or to rejoice that they are served in the same manner as they. But they worship the Gods in this manner, either showing their unworthiness in all humility by the covering of the head, or rather fearing that some unlucky and ominous voice should come to them from abroad whilst they are praying; therefore they pluck up their cloaks about their ears. That they strictly observed these things is manifest in this, that when they went to consult the oracle, they made a great din all about by the tinkling of brass kettles. Or is it as Castor saith, that the Roman usages were conformable to the Pythagoric notion that the daemon within us stands in need of the Gods without us, and we make supplication to them with a covered head, intimating the body’s hiding and absconding of the soul?

Question 11. Why do they sacrifice to Saturn with an uncovered head?

Solution. Is this the reason, that, whereas Aeneas hath Edition: current; Page: [211] instituted the covering of the head in divine service, Saturn’s sacrifice was much more ancient? Or is it that they are covered before celestial Gods, but reckon Saturn an infernal and terrestrial God? Or is it that nothing of the truth ought to be obscure and darkened, and the Romans repute Saturn to be the father of truth?

Question 12. Why do they esteem Saturn the father of truth?

Solution. Is it not the reason that some philosophers believe that Κϱόνος (Saturn) is the same with Χϱόνος (time), and time finds out truth? Or is it for that which was fabled of Saturn’s age, that it was most just and most likely to participate of truth?

Question 13. Why do they sacrifice to Honor (a God so-called) with a bare head?

Solution. Is it because glory is splendid, illustrious, and unveiled, for which cause men are uncovered before good and honorable persons; and for this reason they thus worship the God that bears the name of honor?

Question 14. Why do sons carry forth their parents at funerals with covered heads, but the daughters with uncovered and dishevelled hair?

Solution. Is the reason because fathers ought to be honored by their sons as Gods, but be lamented by their daughters as dead, and so the law hath distributed to both their proper part? Or is it that what is not the fashion is fit for mourning? For it is more customary for women to appear publicly with covered heads, and for men with uncovered. Yea, among the Greeks, when any sad calamity befalls them, the women are polled close but the men wear their hair long, because the usual fashion for men is to be polled and for women to wear their hair long. Or was it enacted that sons should be covered, for the reason we have above mentioned (for verily, saith Varro, they surround their fathers’ sepulchres at funerals, reverencing them as the temples Edition: current; Page: [212] of the Gods; and having burnt their parents, when they first meet with a bone, they say the deceased person is deified), but for women was it not lawful to cover their heads at funerals? History now tells us that the first that put away his wife was Spurius Carbilius, by reason of barrenness; the second was Sulpicius Gallus, seeing her pluck up her garments to cover her head; the third was Publius Sempronius, because she looked upon the funeral games.

Question 15. What is the reason that, esteeming Terminus a God (to whom they offer their Terminalia), they sacrifice no living creature to him?

Solution. Was it that Romulus set no bounds to the country, that it might be lawful for a man to make excursions, to rob, and to reckon every part of the country his own (as the Spartan said) wherever he should pitch his spear; but Numa Pompilius, being a just man and a good commonwealthsman and a philosopher, set the boundaries towards the neighboring countries, and dedicated those boundaries to Terminus as the bishop and protector both of friendship and of peace, and it was his opinion that it ought to be preserved pure and undefiled from blood and slaughter?

Question 16. Why is it that the temple of Matuta is not to be gone into by maid-servants; but the ladies bring in one only, and her they box and cuff?

Solution. If to baste this maid be a sign that they ought not to enter, then they prohibit others according to the fable. For Ino, being jealous of her husband’s loving the servant-maid, is reported to have fell outrageously upon her son. The Grecians say the maid was of an Aetolian family, and was called Antiphera. Therefore with us also in Chaeronea the sexton, standing before the temple of Leucothea (Matuta) holding a wand in his hand, makes proclamation that no man-servant nor maid-servant, neither man nor woman Aetolian, should enter in.

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Question 17. Why do they not supplicate this Goddess for good things for their own children, but for their brethren’s and sisters’ children?

Solution. Was it because Ino was a lover of her sister and nursed up her children, but had hard fortune in her own children? Or otherwise, in that it is a moral and good custom, and makes provision of much benevolence towards relations?

Question 18. Why do many of the richer sort pay tithe of their estates to Hercules?

Solution. Is this the reason, that Hercules sacrificed the tenth part of Geryon’s oxen at Rome? Or that he freed the Romans from the decimation under the Etrurians? Or that these things have no sufficient ground of credit from history, but that they sacrificed bountifully to Hercules, as to a certain monstrous glutton and gormandizer of good cheer? Or did they rather do it, restraining extravagant riches as a nuisance to the commonwealth, as it were to diminish something of that thriving constitution that grows up to the highest pitch of corpulency; being of opinion that Hercules was most of all honored with and rejoiced in these frugalities and contractions of abundance, and that he himself was frugal, content with a little, and every way sparing in his way of living?

Question 19. Why do they take the month of January for the beginning of the new year?

Solution. Anciently March was reckoned the first, as is plain by many other marks and especially by this, that the fifth month from March was called Quintilis, and the sixth Sextilis, and so forward to the last. December was so called, being reckoned the tenth from March; hence it came to pass that some are of opinion and do affirm that the Romans formerly did not complete the year with twelve months, but with ten only, allotting to some of the months above thirty days. But others give us an account that, as Edition: current; Page: [214] December is the tenth from March, January is the eleventh and February the twelfth; in which month they use purifications, and perform funeral rites for the deceased upon the finishing of the year; but this order of the months being changed, they now make January the first, because on the first day of this month (which day they call the Kalends of January) the first consuls were constituted, the kings being deposed. But some speak with a greater probability, which say that Romulus, being a warlike and martial man and reputing himself the son of Mars, set March in the front of all the months, and named it from Mars; but Numa again, being a peaceable prince and ambitious to bring off the citizens from warlike achievements, set them upon husbandry, gave the pre-eminence to January, and brought Janus into a great reputation, as he was more addicted to civil government and husbandry than to warlike affairs. Now consider whether Numa hath not pitched upon a beginning of the year most suitable to our natural disposition. For there is nothing at all in the whole circumvolution of things naturally first or last, but by law or custom some appoint one beginning of time, some another; but they do best who take this beginning from after the winter solstice, when the sun, ceasing to make any further progress, returns and converts his course again to us. For there is then a kind of tropic in nature itself, which verily increaseth the time of light to us and shortens the time of darkness, and makes the Lord and Ruler of the whole current of nature to approach nearer to us.

Question 20. When the women beautify the temple of the Goddess appropriate to women, which they call Bona, why do they bring no myrtle into the house, although they be zealous of using all budding and flowering vegetables?

Solution. Is not the reason (as the fabulous write the story) this, that the wife of Faulius a diviner, having drunk wine secretly and being discovered, was whipped by her Edition: current; Page: [215] husband with myrtle rods; hence the women bring in no myrtle, but offer to her a drink-offering of wine, which they call milk? Or is it this, that, as they abstain from many things, so especially they reserve themselves chaste from all things that appertain to venery when they perform that divine service; for they do not only turn their husbands out of doors but banish from the house every male kind, when they exercise this canonical obedience to their Goddess. They therefore reject myrtle as an abomination, it being consecrated to Venus; and the Venus whom at this day they call Murcia they anciently called Myrtia, as it would seem.

Question 21. Why do the Latins worship a woodpecker, and all of them abstain strictly from this bird?

Solution. Is it because one Picus by the enchantments of his wife transformed himself, and becoming a woodpecker uttered oracles, and gave oraculous answers to them that enquired? Or, if this be altogether incredible and monstrous, there is another of the romantic stories more probable, about Romulus and Remus, when they were exposed in the open field, that not only a she-wolf gave them suck, but a certain woodpecker flying to them fed them; for even now it is very usual that in meads and groves where a woodpecker is found there is also a wolf, as Nigidius writes. Or rather, as they deem other birds sacred to various Gods, so do they deem this sacred to Mars? For it is a daring and fierce bird, and hath so strong a beak as to drill an oak to the heart by pecking, and cause it to fall.

Question 22. Why are they of opinion that Janus was double-faced, and do describe and paint him so?

Solution. Was it because he was a native Greek of Perrhaebia (as they story it), and going down into Italy and cohabiting with the barbarians of the country, changed his language and way of living? Or rather because he persuaded those people of Italy that were savage and lawless Edition: current; Page: [216] to a civil life, in that he converted them to husbandry and formed them into commonwealths?

Question 23. Why do they sell things which pertain to funerals in the temple of Libitina, seeing they are of opinion that Libitina is Venus?

Solution. Was it that this was one of the wise institutions of King Numa, that they might learn not to esteem these things irksome nor fly from them as a defilement? Or rather is it to put us in mind that whatever is born must die, there being one Goddess that presides over them that are born and those that die? And at Delphi there is the statue of Venus Epitymbia (on a tomb), to which at their drink-offerings they call forth the ghosts of the deceased.

Question 24. Why have they three beginnings and appointed periods in the months which have not the same interval of days between?

Solution. What if it be this (as Juba writes), that on the Kalends the magistrates called (ϰαλεῖν) the people, and proclaimed the Nones for the fifth, while the Ides they esteemed an holy day? Or rather that they who define time by the variations of the moon have observed that the moon comes under three greatest variations monthly; the first is when it is obscured, making a conjunction with the sun; the second is when it gets out of the rays of the sun and makes her first appearance after the sun is down; the third is at her fulness, when it is full moon. They call her disappearance and obscurity the Kalends, for every thing hid and privy they call clam, and celare is to hide. The first appearance they call the Nones, by a most fit notation of names, it being the new moon (novilunium); for they call it new moon as we do. Ides are so called either by reason of the fairness and clear form (εἰ̂δος) of the moon standing forth in her complete splendor, or from the name of Jupiter (Διός). But in this matter we are not to search for the exact number of days, nor to abuse this approximate Edition: current; Page: [217] mode of reckoning; seeing that even at this day, when the science of astronomy has made so great increase, the inequality of the motion and course of the moon surpasseth all experience of mathematicians and cannot be reduced to any certain rule of reason.

Question 25. Why do they determine that the days after the Kalends, Nones, and Ides are unfit to travel or go a long journey in?

Solution. Was it (as most men think, and Livy tells us) because on the next day after the Ides of Quintilis (which they now call July), the tribunes of the soldiery marching forth, the army was conquered by the Gauls in a battle about the river Allia and lost the city, whereupon this day was reckoned unlucky; and superstition (as it loves to do) extended this observation further, and subjected the next days after the Nones and Kalends to the same scrupulosity? Or what if this notion meet with much contradiction? For it was on another day they were defeated in battle, which they call Alliensis (from the river) and greatly abominate as unsuccessful; and whereas there be many unlucky days, they do not observe them in all the months alike, but every one in the month it happens in, and it is most improbable that all the next days after the Nones and Kalends simply considered should contract this superstition. Consider now whether — as they consecrated the first of the months to the Olympic Gods, and the second to the infernals, wherein they solemnize some purifications and funeral rites to the ghosts of the deceased — they have so constituted the three which have been spoken of, as it were, the chief and principal days for festival and holy days, designating the next following these to daemons and deceased persons, which days they esteemed unfortunate and unfit for action. And also the Grecians, worshipping their Gods at the new of the moon, dedicated the next day to heroes and daemons, and the second of the cups was mingled on the behalf of the Edition: current; Page: [218] male and female heroes. Moreover, time is altogether a number; and unity, which is the foundation of a number, is of a divine nature. The number next is two, opposite to the first, and is the first of even numbers. But an even number is defective, imperfect, and indefinite; as again an odd number is determinate, definite, and complete. Therefore the Nones succeed the Kalends on the fifth day, the Ides follow the Nones on the ninth, for odd numbers do determine the beginnings. But those even numbers which are next after the beginnings have not that pre-eminence nor influence; hence on such days they take not any actions or journey in hand. Wherefore that of Themistocles hath reason in it. “The Day after the feast contended with the Feast-day, saying that the Feast-day had much labor and toil, but she (the Day after the feast) afforded the fruition of the provision made for the Feast-day, with much leisure and quietness. The Feast-day answered after this wise: Thou speakest truth; but if I had not been, neither hadst thou been.” These things spake Themistocles to the Athenian officers of the army, who succeeded him, signifying that they could never have made any figure in the world had not he saved the city.

Since therefore every action and journey worth our diligent management requires necessary provision and preparation, but the Romans of old made no family provision on feast-days, nor were careful for any thing but that they might attend divine service, — and this they did with all their might, as even now the priests enjoin them in their proclamations when they proceed to the sacrifices, — in like manner they did not rush presently after their festival solemnities upon a journey or any enterprise (because they were unprovided), but finished that day in contriving domestic affairs and fitting themselves for the intended occasion abroad. And as even at this day, after they have said their prayers and finished their devotion, Edition: current; Page: [219] they are wont to stay and sit still in the temples, so they did not join working days immediately to holy days, but made some interval and distance between them, secular affairs bringing many troubles and distractions along with them.

Question 26. Why do women wear for mourning white mantles and white kerchiefs?

Solution. What if they do this in conformity to the Magi, who, as they say, standing in defiance of death and darkness, do fortify themselves with bright and splendid robes? Or, as the dead corpse is wrapped in white, so do they judge it meet that the relations should be conformable thereto? For they beautify the body so, since they cannot the soul; wherefore they wish to follow it as having gone before, pure and white, being dismissed after it hath fought a great and various warfare. Or is it that what is very mean and plain is most becoming in these things? For garments dyed of a color argue either luxury or vanity. Neither may we say less of black than of sea-green or purple, “Verily garments are deceitful, and so are colors.” And a thing that is naturally black is not dyed by art but by nature, and is blended with an intermixed shade. It is white only therefore that is sincere, unmixed, free from the impurity of a dye, and inimitable; therefore most proper to those that are buried. For one that is dead is become simple, unmixed, and pure, freed from the body no otherwise than from a tingeing poison. In Argos they wear white in mourning, as Socrates saith, vestments rinsed in water.

Question 27. Why do they repute every wall immaculate and sacred, but the gates not so?

Solution. Is it (as Varro hath wrote) that the wall is to be accounted sacred, that they might defend it cheerfully and even lay down their lives for it? Upon this very account it appears that Romulus slew his brother, because Edition: current; Page: [220] he attempted to leap over a sacred and inaccessible place, and to render it transcendible and profane; but it could not possibly be that the gates should be kept sacred, through which they carried many things that necessity required, even dead corpses. When they built a city from the foundation, they marked out with a plough the place on which they intended to build it, yoking a bull and a cow together; but when they did set out the bounds of the walls, measuring the space of the gates, they lifted up the ploughshare and carried the plough over it, believing that all the ploughed part should be sacred and inviolable.

Question 28. Why do they prohibit the children to swear by Hercules within doors, but command them to go out of doors to do it?

Solution. Is the reason (as some say) that they are of opinion that Hercules was not delighted in a domestic life, but chose rather to live abroad in the fields? Or rather because he was none of their native country Gods, but a foreigner? For neither do they swear by Bacchus within doors, he being a foreigner, if it be he whom the Greeks call Dionysus. Or what if these things are uttered in sport to amuse children; and is this, on the contrary, for a restraint of a frivolous and rash oath, as Favorinus saith? For that which is done, as it were, with preparation causes delay and deliberation. If a man judges as Favorinus doth of the things recorded about Hercules, it would seem that this was not common to other Gods, but peculiar to him; for history tells us that he had such a religious veneration for an oath, that he swore but once only to Phyleus, son of Augeas. Wherefore the Pythia upbraids the Lacedaemonians with such swearing, as though it would be more laudable and better to pay their vows than to swear.

Question 29. Why do they not permit the new married Edition: current; Page: [221] woman herself to step over the threshold of the house, but the bridemen lift her over?

Solution. What if the reason be that they, taking their first wives by force, brought them thus into their houses, when they went not in of their own accord? Or is it that they will have them seem to enter into that place as by force, not willingly, where they are about to lose their virginity? Or is it a significant ceremony to show that she is not to go out or leave her dwelling-place till she is forced, even as she goes in by force? For with us also in Boeotia they burn the axletree of a cart before the doors, intimating that the spouse is bound to remain there, the instrument of carriage being destroyed.

Question 30. Why do the bridemen that bring in the bride require her to say, “Where thou Caius art, there am I Caia”?

Solution. What if the reason be that by mutual agreement she enters presently upon participation of all things, even to share in the government, and that this is the meaning of it, Where thou art lord and master of the family, there am I also dame and mistress of the family; while these common names they use promiscuously, as the lawyers do Caius, Seius, Lucius, Titius, and the philosophers use the names of Dion and Theon? Or is it from Caia Secilia, an honest and good woman, married to one of Tarquinius’s sons, who had her statue of brass erected in the temple of Sancus? On this statue were anciently hanged sandals and spindles, as significant memorials of her housewifery and industry.

Question 31. Why is that so much celebrated name Thalassius sung at nuptials?

Solution. Is it not from wool-spinning? For the Romans call the Greek τάλαϱος (wool-basket) talasus. Moreover, when they have introduced the bride, they spread a fleece under her; and she, having brought in with her a Edition: current; Page: [222] distaff and a spindle, all behangs her husband’s door with woollen yarn? Or it may be true, as historians report, that there was a certain young man famous in military achievements, and also an honest man, whose name was Thalassius; now when the Romans seized by force on the Sabine daughters coming to see the theatric shows, a comely virgin for beauty was brought to Thalassius by some of the common sort of people and retainers to him, crying out aloud (that they might go the more securely, and that none might stop them or take the wench from them) that she was carried as a wife to Thalassius; upon which the rest of the rabble, greatly honoring Thalassius, followed on and accompanied them with their loud acclamations, praying for and praising Thalassius; that proving a fortunate match, it became a custom to others at nuptials to call over Thalassius, as the Greeks do Hymenaeus.*

Question 32. Why do they that throw the effigies of men from a wooden bridge into the river, in the month of May, about the full moon, call those images Argives?

Solution. Was it that the barbarians that of old inhabited about that place did in this manner destroy the Grecians which they took? Or did their so much admired Hercules reform their practice of killing strangers, and teach them this custom of representing their devilish practice by casting in of images? The ancients have usually called all Grecians Argives. Or else it may be that, since the Arcadians esteemed the Argives open enemies by reason of neighborhood, they that belonged to Evander, flying from Greece and taking up their situation in Italy, kept up that malignity and enmity.

Question 33. Why would they not in ancient times sup abroad without their sons, whilst they were in nonage?

Solution. Was not this custom brought in by Lycurgus, when he introduced the boys to the public mess, that they Edition: current; Page: [223] might be inured to use of pleasures modestly, not savagely and rudely, having their superiors by them as overseers and observers? Verily it is of no small concernment that parents should carry themselves with all gravity and sobriety in the presence of their children. For when old men are debauched, it will necessarily follow (as Plato saith) that young men will be most debauched.

Question 34. What is the reason that, when the other Romans did offer their offerings and libations to the dead in the month of February, Decimus Brutus (as Cicero saith) did it in December? He verily was the first who, entering upon Lusitania, passed from thence with his army over the river Lethe.

Solution. May it not be that, as many were wont to perform funeral rites in the latter part of the day and end of the month, it is rational to believe that at the return of the year and end of the month also he would honor the dead? For December is the last month. Or were those adorations paid to the infernal Gods, and was it the season of the year to honor them when all sorts of fruits had attained ripeness? Or is it because they move the earth at the beginning of seed-time, and it is most meet then to remember the ghosts below? Or is it that this month is by the Romans consecrated to Saturn, whom they reckon to be one of the infernal Gods and not of the supernal? Or that whilst the great feast of Saturnals did last, thought to be attended with the greatest feasting and voluptuous enjoyments, it was judged meet to crop off some first-fruits of these for the dead? Or what if it be a mere lie that only Brutus did sacrifice to the dead in this month, since they solemnize funeral rites for Laurentia and offer drink-offerings at her tomb in the month of December?

Question 35. Why do they adore Laurentia so much, seeing she was a strumpet?

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Solution. They say that Acca Laurentia, the nurse of Romulus, was diverse from this, and her they ascribe honor to in the month of April. But this other Laurentia, they say, was surnamed Fabula, and she became noted on this occasion. A certain sexton that belonged to Hercules, as it seems, leading an idle life, used to spend most of his days at draughts and dice; and on a certain time, when it happened that none of those that were wont to play with him and partake of his sport were present, being very uneasy in himself, he challenged the God to play a game at dice with him for this wager, that if he got the game he should receive some boon from the God, if he lost it he would provide a supper for the God and a pretty wench for him to lie with. Whereupon choosing two dice, one for himself and the other for the God, and throwing them, he lost the game; upon which, abiding by his challenge, he prepared a very splendid table for the God, and picking up Laurentia, a notorious harlot, he set her down to the good cheer; and when he had made a bed for her in the temple, he departed and shut the doors after him. The report went that Hercules came, but had not to do with her after the usual manner of men, and commanded her to go forth early in the morning into the market-place, and whomsoever she first happened to meet with, him she should especially set her heart upon and procure him to be her copemate. Laurentia accordingly arising and going forth happened to meet with a certain rich man, a stale bachelor, whose name was Taruntius. He lying with her made her whilst he lived the governess of his house, and his heiress when he died; some time after, she died and left her estate to the city, and therefore they have her in so great a reputation.

Question 36. Why do they call one gate at Rome the Window, just by which is the bed-chamber of Fortune, so called?

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Solution. Was it because Servius, who became the most successful king, was believed to have conversed with Fortune, who came in to him at a window? Or may this be but a fable; and was it that Tarquinius Priscus the king dying, his wife Tanaquil, being a discreet and royal woman, putting her head out at a window, propounded Servius to the citizens, and persuaded them to proclaim him king; and that this place had the name of it?

Question 37. Why is it that, of the things dedicated to the Gods, the law permits only the spoils taken in war to be neglected and by time to fall into decay, and permits them not to have any veneration nor reparation?

Solution. Is this the reason, that men may be of opinion that the renown of ancestors fades away, and may always be seeking after some fresh monument of fortitude? Or rather because time wears out the marks of contention with our enemies, and to restore and renew them were invidious and malicious? Neither among the Greeks are those men renowned who were the first erectors of stone or brass trophies.

Question 38. Why did Q. Metellus, being a high priest and otherwise reputed a wise man and a statesman, prohibit the use of divination from birds after the Sextile month, now called August?

Solution. Is it not that — as we make such observations about noon or early in the day, and also in the beginning or middle of the month (when the moon is new or increasing), but beware of the times of the days or month’s decline as unlucky — so he also was of opinion that the time of year after eight months was, as it were, the evening of the year, when it declined and hastened towards an end? Or is it because they must use thriving and full-grown birds? For such are in summer; but towards autumn some are moulting and sickly, others chickens and unfledged, others altogether vanished and Edition: current; Page: [226] fled out of the country by reason of the season of the year.

Question 39. Why is it unlawful for such as are not mustered (although they be otherwise conversant in the army) to slay an enemy or wound him?

Solution. This thing Cato Senior hath made clear in a certain epistle, writing to his son and commanding him, if he be discharged of the army having fulfilled his time there, to return; but if he stay, to take commission from the general to march forth in order to wounding and slaying the enemy. Is it the reason, that necessity alone can give warrant for the killing of a man, while he that doth this illegally and without commission is a murderer? Therefore Cyrus commended Chrysantas that, when he was about to slay an enemy and had lifted up his scimitar to take his blow, hearing a retreat sounded, he let the man alone and smote him not, as being prohibited. Or is it that, if a man conflicts and fights with his enemies and falls under a consternation, he ought to be liable to answer for it, and not escape punishment? For verily he doth not advantage his side so much by smiting and wounding him, as he doth mischief by turning his back and flying. Therefore he that is disbanded is freed from martial laws; but when he doth petition to perform the office of a soldier, he doth again subject himself to military discipline and put himself under the command of his general.

Question 40. Wherefore was it unlawful for a priest of Jupiter to be anointed abroad in the air?

Solution. Was it not because it was neither honest nor decent to strip the sons naked whilst the father looked on, nor the son-in-law whilst the father-in-law looked on? Neither in ancient times did they wash together. Verily Jupiter is the father, and that which is abroad in the open air may be especially said to be as it were in the sight of Jupiter. Or is it thus? As it is a profane thing for him Edition: current; Page: [227] to strip himself naked in the temple or holy place, so did they reverence the open air and firmament, as being full of Gods and Daemons? Wherefore we do many necessary things within doors, hiding and covering ourselves in our houses from the sight of the Gods. Or is it that some things are enjoined to the priest only, other things to all by a law delivered by the priest? With us (in Boeotia) to wear a crown, to wear long hair, to carry iron arms, and not to enter the Phocian borders are peculiar, proper pieces of the magistrate’s service; but not to taste autumnal fruits before the autumnal equinox, and not to cut a vine before the spring equinox, are things required of all by the magistrate. For each of these has its season. After the same manner (as it appears) among the Romans it is peculiar to the priest neither to make use of a horse, nor to be absent from home in a journey more than three nights, nor to put off his cap, on which account he is called Flamen.* Many other things are enjoined to all sorts of men by the priest; of which one is not to be anointed abroad in the open air. For the Romans have a great prejudice against dry unction; and they are of opinion that nothing hath been so great a cause to the Grecians of slavery and effeminancy as their fencing and wrestling schools, insinuating so much debauchery and idleness into the citizens, yea, vicious sloth and buggery; yea, that they destroyed the very bodies of youths with sleeping, perambulations, dancing, and delicious feeding, whereby they insensibly fell from the use of arms, and instead of being good soldiers and horsemen, loved to be called nimble, good wrestlers, and pretty men. It is hard for them to avoid these mischiefs who are unclothed in the open air; but they that are anointed within doors Edition: current; Page: [228] and cure themselves at home do commit none of these vices.

Question 41. Why had the ancient coin on one side the image of double-faced Janus stamped, and on the other side the stern or stem of a ship?

Solution. What if it be (as they commonly say) in honor of Saturn, that sailed over into Italy in a ship? Or, if this be no more than what may be said of many others besides (for Janus, Evander, and Aeneas all came by sea into Italy), a man may take this to be more probable: whereas some things serve for the beauty of a city, some things for necessary accommodation, the greatest part of the things that beautify a city is a good constitution of government, and the greatest part for necessary accommodation is good trading; whereas now Janus had erected a good frame of government among them, reducing them to a sober manner of life, and the river being navigable afforded plenty of all necessary commodities, bringing them in partly from the sea and partly from the out-borders of the country, their coin had a significant stamp, on one side the double-faced head of the legislator (as hath been said) by reason of the change made by him in their affairs, and on the other a small ship because of the river. They used also another sort of coin, having engraven on it an ox, a sheep, and a sow, to show that they traded most in such cattle, and got their riches from these; hence were many of the names among the ancients derived, as Suillii, Bubulci, and Porcii, as Fenestella tells us.

Question 42. Why do they use the temple of Saturn for a chamber of public treasury, as also an office of record for contracts?

Solution. Is not this the reason, because this saying hath obtained credit, that there was no avarice or injustice among men while Saturn ruled, but faith and righteousness? Or was it that this God presided over the fruits Edition: current; Page: [229] of the field and husbandry? For the sickle signified as much, and not, as Antimachus was persuaded and wrote with Hesiod, —

  • With crooked falk Saturn ’gainst heavens fought,
  • Cut off his father’s privities, foul bout.

Money is produced from plenty of fruit and the vent of them, therefore they make Saturn the author and preserver of their felicity. That which confirms this is that the conventions assembled every ninth day in the marketplace (which they call Nundinae) they reckon sacred to Saturn, because the abundance of fruit gave the first occasion of buying and selling. Or are these things farfetched, and was the first that contrived this Saturnine chamber of bank Valerius Publicola, upon the suppression of the kings, being persuaded it was a strong place, conspicuous, and not easily undermined by treachery?

Question 43. Wherefore did ambassadors, from whencesoever they came to Rome, go to Saturn’s temple, and there have their names recorded before the treasurers?

Solution. Was this the cause, that Saturn was a foreigner, and therefore much rejoiced in strangers? Or is this better resolved by history? Anciently (as it seems) the quaestors sent entertainment to the ambassadors (they called the present lautia), they took care also of the sick, and buried their dead out of their public stock; but now of late, because of the multitude of ambassadors that come, that expense is left off; yet it remains still in use to bring the ambassadors unto the treasurers, that their names may be recorded.

Question 44. Why is it not lawful for Jupiter’s priests to swear?

Solution. Is it not the reason, that an oath is a kind of test imposed on a free people, but the body and mind of a priest ought to be free from imposition? Or is it not unlikely that he will be disbelieved in smaller matters, who is Edition: current; Page: [230] entrusted with divine and greater? Or is it that every oath concludes with an execration of perjury? And an execration is a fearful and a grievous thing. Hence neither is it thought fit that priests should curse others. Wherefore the priestess at Athens was commended for refusing to curse Alcibiades, when the people required her to do it; for she said, I am a praying not a cursing priestess. Or is it that the danger of perjury is of a public nature, if a perjured and impious person presides in offering up prayers and sacrifices on the behalf of the city?

Question 45. Why is it that in the solemn feast called Veneralia they let wine run so freely out of the temple of Venus?

Solution. Is this the reason (as some say), that Mezentius the Etrurian general sent to make a league with Aeneas, upon the condition that he might have a yearly tribute of wine; Aeneas refusing, Mezentius engaged to the Etrurians that he would take the wine by force of arms and give it to them; Aeneas, hearing of his promise, devoted his wine to the Gods, and after the victory he gathered in the vintage, and poured it forth before the temple of Venus? Or is this a teaching ceremony, that we should feast with sobriety and not excess, as if the Gods were better pleased with the spillers of wine than with the drinkers of it?

Question 46. Wherefore would the ancients have the temple of Horta to stand always open?

Solution. Is this the reason (as Antistius Labeo hath told us), that hortari signifies to quicken one to an action, that Horta is such a Goddess as exhorts and excites to good things, and that they suppose therefore that she ought always to be in business, never procrastinate, therefore not to be shut up or locked? Or is it rather that Hora, as now they call her (the first syllable pronounced long), being a kind of an active and busy Goddess, very circumspect Edition: current; Page: [231] and careful, they were of opinion that she was never lazy nor neglectful of human affairs? Or is it that this is a Greek name, as many others of them are, and signifies a Goddess that always oversees and inspects affairs; and that therefore she has her temple always open, as one that never slumbers nor sleeps? But if Labeo deduceth Hora aright from hortari, consider whether orator may not rather be said to be derived from thence, — since the orator, being an exhorting and exciting person, is a counsellor or leader of the people, — and not from imprecation and prayer (orando), as some say.

Question 47. Why did Romulus build the temple of Vulcan without the city?

Solution. What if it were by reason of that fabled grudge which Vulcan had against Mars for the sake of Venus, that Romulus, being reputed the son of Mars, would not make Vulcan a cohabitant of the same house or city with him? Or may this be a silly reason; and was that temple at first built by Romulus for a senate house and a privy council, for him to consult on state affairs together with Tatius, where they might be retired with the senators, and sit in consultation about matters quietly without interruption from the multitude? Or was it that Rome was formerly in danger of being burnt from heaven; and he thought good to adore that God, but to place his habitation without the city?

Question 48. Wherefore did they, in the feasts called Consualia, put garlands on the horses and asses, and take these beasts off from all work?

Solution. Was it not because they celebrated that feast to Neptune the cavalier, who was called Consus, and the ass takes part and share with the horse in his rest from labor? Or was it that, after navigation came in and traffic by sea, there succeeded a kind of ease and leisure to the cattle in some kind or other?

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Question 49. Wherefore was it a custom among the candidates for magistracy to present themselves in their togas without tunics, as Cato tells us?

Solution. Was it not that they should not carry money in their bosoms to buy votes with? Or is it that they preferred no man as fit for the magistracy for the sake of his birth, riches, or honors, but for his wounds and scars; and that these might be visible to them that came about them, they came without tunics to the elections? Or, as by courteous behavior, supplication, and submission, so by humbling themselves in nakedness did they gain on the affections of the common people?

Question 50. Why did the Flamen Dialis (Jupiter’s priest), when his wife died, lay down his priestly dignity, as Ateius tells us?

Solution. Is it not for this reason, because he that marries a wife and loses her after marriage is more unfortunate than he that never took a wife; for the family of a married man is completed, but the family of him that is married and loseth his wife is not only incomplete but mutilated? Or is it because his wife joins with the husband in consecration (as there are many sacred rites that ought not to be performed unless the wife be present), but to marry another immediately after he hath lost the former wife is not perhaps easy to do, and besides is not convenient? Hence it was not lawful formerly to put away a wife, nor is it at this present lawful; except that Domitian in our remembrance, being petitioned, granted it. The priests were present at this dissolution of marriage, doing many terrible, strange, and uncouth actions. But thou wilt wonder less, if thou art informed by history that, when one of the censors died, his partner was required to lay down his place. When Livius Drusus died, Aemilius Scaurus his colleague would not abandon his government before one of the tribunes of the people committed him to prison.

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Question 51. Why is a dog set before the Lares, whom they properly call Praestites, while the Lares themselves are covered with dogs’ skins?

Solution. Is it that Praestites are they that preside, and it is fit that presidents should be keepers, and should be frightful to strangers (as dogs are) but mild and gentle to those of the family? Or is it rather what some Romans assert, that — as some philosophers who follow Chrysippus are of the opinion that evil spirits wander up and down, which the Gods do use as public executioners of unholy and wicked men — so the Lares are a certain sort of furious and revengeful daemons, that are observers of men’s lives and families, and are here clothed with dogs’ skins and have a dog sitting by them, as being sagacious to hunt upon the foot and to prosecute wicked men?

Question 52. Why do they sacrifice a dog to Mana Geneta, and pray that no home-born should become good?

Solution. Is the reason that Geneta is a deity that is employed about the generation and purgation of corruptible things? For this word signifies a certain flux (i.e. Mana from manare) and generation, or a flowing generation; for as the Greeks do sacrifice a dog to Hecate, so do the Romans to Geneta on the behalf of the natives of the house. Moreover, Socrates saith that the Argives do sacrifice a dog to Eilioneia (Lucina) to procure a facility of delivery. But what if the prayer be not made for men, but for dogs puppied at home, that none of them should be good; for dogs ought to be currish and fierce? Or is it that they that are deceased are pleasantly called good; and hence, speaking mystically in their prayer, they signify their desire that no home-born should die? Neither ought this to seem strange; for Aristotle says that it is written in the treaty of the Arcadians with the Lacedaemonians that none of the Tegeates should be “made good” on account of aid rendered Edition: current; Page: [234] to the party of the Lacedaemonians, i.e. that none should be slain.

Question 53. Why is it that to this very day, while they hold the games at the Capitol, they set Sardians to sale by a crier, and a certain old man goes before in way of derision, carrying a child’s bauble about his neck, which they call bulla?

Solution. Was it because a people of the Tuscans called Veientes maintained a fight a long time with Romulus, and he took this city last of all, and exposed them and their king to sale by an outcry, upbraiding him with his madness and folly? And since the Tuscans were Lydians at first, and Sardis was the metropolis of the Lydians, so they set the Veientes to sale under the name of Sardians, and to this day they keep up the custom in a way of pastime.

Question 54. Why do they call the flesh-market Macellum?

Solution. Was it not by corrupting the word μάγειϱος, a cook, as with many other words, that the custom hath prevailed? For c and g are nigh akin to one another, and g came more lately into use, being inserted among the other letters by Sp. Carbilius; and now by lispers and stammerers l is pronounced instead of r. Or this matter may be made clear by a story. It is reported, that at Rome there was a stout man, a robber, who had robbed many, and being taken with much difficulty, was brought to condign punishment: his name was Macellus, out of whose riches a public meat-market was built, which bare his name.

Question 55. Why are the minstrels allowed to go about the city on the Ides of January, wearing women’s apparel?

Solution. Is it for the reason here rehearsed? This sort of men (as it seems) had great privileges accruing to them from the grant of King Numa, by reason of his Edition: current; Page: [235] godly devotion; which things afterward being taken from them when the Decemviri managed the government, they forsook the city. Whereupon there was a search made for them, and one of the priests, offering sacrifice without music, made a superstitious scruple of so doing. And when they returned not upon invitation, but led their lives in Tibur, a certain freedman told the magistrates privately that he would undertake to bring them. And providing a plentiful feast, as if he had sacrificed to the Gods, he invited the minstrels; women-kind was present also, with whom they revelled all night, sporting and dancing. There on a sudden the man began a speech, and being surprised with a fright, as if his patron had come in upon him, persuaded the pipers to ascend the caravans that were covered all over with skins, saying he would carry them back to Tibur. But this whole business was but a trepan; for he wheeling about the caravan, and they perceiving nothing by reason of wine and darkness, he very cunningly brought them all into Rome by the morning. Most of them, by reason of the night-revel and the drink that they were in, happened to be clothed in flowered women’s robes; whereupon, being prevailed upon by the magistrates and reconciled, it was decreed that they should go up and down the city on that day, habited after this manner.

Question 56. Why are they of opinion that matrons first built the temple of Carmenta, and at this day do they worship her most?

Solution. There is a certain tradition that, when the women were prohibited by the senate from the use of chariots drawn by a pair of horses, they conspired together not to be got with child and breed children, and in this manner to be revenged on their husbands until they revoked the decree and gratified them; which being done, children were begot, and the women, becoming good breeders and very fruitful, built the temple of Carmenta. Some say Edition: current; Page: [236] that Carmenta was Evander’s mother, and going into Italy was called Themis, but as some say, Nicostrata; who, when she sang forth oracles in verse, was called Carmenta by the Latins; for they call verses carmina. There are some of opinion that Carmenta was a Destiny, therefore the matrons sacrifice to her. But the etymology of the word is from carens mente (beside herself), by reason of divine raptures. Hence Carmenta had not her name from carmina; but contrariwise, her verses were called carmina from her, because being inspired she sang her oracles in verse.

Question 57. What is the reason that, when the women do sacrifice to Rumina, they pour forth milk plentifully on the sacrifices, but offer no wine?

Solution. Is it because the Latins call a breast ruma, and that tree (as they say) is called ruminalis under which the she-wolf drew forth her breast to Romulus? And as we call those women that bring up children with milk from the breast breast-women, so did Rumina — who was a wet nurse, a dry nurse, and a rearer of children — not permit wine, as being hurtful to the infants.

Question 58. Why do they call some senators Patres Conscripti, and others only Patres?

Solution. Is not this the reason, that those that were first constituted by Romulus they called Patres and Patricians, as being gentlemen who could show their pedigree; but those that were elected afterwards from among the commonalty they called Patres Conscripti?

Question 59. Why was one altar common to Hercules and the Muses?

Solution. Was it because Hercules taught letters first to Evander’s people, as Juba tells us? And it was esteemed an honorable action of those that taught their friends and relations; for it was but of late that they began to teach for hire. The first that opened a grammar school was Spurius Carbilius, a freeman of Carbilius, the first that divorced his wife.

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Question 60. What is the reason that, of Hercules’s two altars, the women do not partake or taste of the things offered on the greater?

Solution. Is it not because Carmenta’s women came too late for the sacrifices? The same thing happened also to the Pinarii; whence they were excluded from the sacrificial feast, and fasting while others were feasting, they were called Pinarii (from πεινάω). Or is it upon the account of that fabulous story of the coat and Dejaneira?

Question 61. What is the reason that it’s forbidden to mention, enquire after, or name the chief tutelary and guardian God of Rome, whether male or female? — which prohibition they confirm with a superstitious tradition, reporting that Valerius Soranus perished miserably for uttering that name.

Solution. Is this the reason (as some Roman histories tell us), that there are certain kinds of evocations and enchantments, with which they are wont to entice away the Gods of their enemies, and to cause theirs to come and dwell with them; and they feared lest this mischief should befall them from others? As the Tyrians are said to bind fast their images with cords, but others, when they will send any of them to washing or purifying, require sureties for their return; so did the Romans reckon they had their God in most safe and secure custody, he being unexpressible and unknown? Or, as Homer hath versified,

The earth all Gods in common have?*

that men might worship and reverence all Gods that have the earth in common, so did the ancient Romans obscure the Lord of their Salvation, requiring that not only this but all Gods should be reverenced by the citizens?

Question 62. Why among them that were called Feciales (in Greek, peace-makers) was he that was named Edition: current; Page: [238] Pater Patratus accounted the chiefest? But this must be one who hath his father living, and children of his own; and he hath even at this time a certain privilege and trust, for the Praetors commit to those men’s trust the persons of those who, by reason of comeliness and beauty, stand in need of an exact and chaste guardianship.

Solution. Is this the reason, that they must be such whose children reverence them, and who reverence their parents? Or doth the name itself suggest a reason? For patratum will have a thing to be complete and finished; for he whose lot it is to be a father whilst his father liveth is (as it were) perfecter than others. Or is it that he ought to be overseer of oaths and peace, and (according to Homer) to see before and behind? He is such a one especially, who hath a son for whom he consults, and a father with whom he consults.

Question 63. Why is he that is called Rex Sacrorum (who is king of priests) forbid either to take upon him a civil office or to make an oration to the people?

Solution. Was it that of old the kings did perform the most and greatest sacred rites and offered sacrifices together with the priests; but when they kept not within the bounds of moderation and became proud and insolent, most of the Grecians, depriving them of their authority, left to them only this part of their office, to sacrifice to the Gods; but the Romans, casting out kings altogether, gave the charge of the sacrifice to another, enjoining him neither to meddle with public affairs nor to hold office, so that they might seem to be subject to royalty only in their sacrifices, and to endure the name of king only with respect to the Gods? Hence there is a certain sacrifice kept by tradition in the market-place near the Comitia, which as soon as the king (i.e. the chief priest) hath offered, he immediately withdraws himself by flight out of the market-place.

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Question 64. Why do they not suffer the table to be quite voided when it’s taken away, but will have something always to remain upon it?

Solution. What if it be that they would intimate that something of our present enjoyments should be left for the future, and that to-day we should be mindful of to-morrow? Or that they reckon it a piece of manners to repress and restrain the appetite in our present fruitions? For they less desire absent things, who are accustomed to abstain from those that are present. Or was it a custom of courtesy towards household servants? For they do not love so much to take as to partake, deeming that they hold a kind of communion with their masters at the table. Or is it that no sacred thing ought to be suffered to be empty? And the table is a sacred thing.

Question 65. Why doth not a man lie at first with a bride in the light, but when it is dark?

Solution. Is it not for modesty’s sake, for at the first congress he looks upon her as a stranger to him? Or is it that he may be inured to go into his own wife with modesty? Or, as Solon hath written, “Let the bride go into the bed-chamber gnawing a quince, that the first salutation be not harsh and ungrateful.” So did the Roman lawgiver command that, if there should be any thing absurd and unpleasant in her body, she should hide it? Or was it intended to cast infamy upon the unlawful use of venery by causing that the lawful should have certain signs of modesty attending it?

Question 66. Why was one of the horse-race rounds called Flaminia?

Solution. Is it because, when Flaminius, one of the ancients, bestowed a field on the city, they employed its revenue on the horse-races, and with the overplus money built the way which they call Flaminia?

Question 67. Why do they call the rod-bearers lictors?

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Solution. Is this the reason, because these men were wont to bind desperate bullies, and they followed Romulus carrying thongs in their bosoms? The vulgar Romans say alligare, to bind, when the more refined in speech say ligare. Or is now c inserted, when formerly they called them litores, being liturgi, ministers for public service; for λῇτον until this day is writ for public in many of the Grecian laws, which scarce any is ignorant of.

Question 68. Why do the Luperci sacrifice a dog? The Luperci are they that run up and down naked (saving only their girdles) in the Lupercal plays, and slash all that they meet with a whip.

Solution. Is it not because these feats are done for the purification of the city? For they call the month February, and indeed the very day Februatus, and the habit of whip ping with thongs they call februare, the word signifying to cleanse. And to speak the truth, all the Grecians have used, and some do use to this very day, a slain dog for an expiatory sacrifice; and among other sacrifices of purification, they offer whelps to Hecate, and sprinkle those that need cleansing with the puppy’s blood, calling this kind of purifying puppification. Or is it that lupus is λύϰος, a wolf, and Lupercalia are Lycaea; but a dog is at enmity with a wolf, therefore is sacrificed on the Lycaean festivals? Or is it because the dogs do bark at and perplex the Luperci as they scout about the city? Or is it that this sacrifice is offered to Pan, and Pan loves dogs because of his herds of goats.

Question 69. Why, upon the festival called Septimontium, did they observe to abstain from the use of chariots drawn by a pair of horses; and even until now, do they that regard antiquity still abstain? They do observe the Septimontium feast in honor of the addition of the seventh hill to the city, upon which it became Septicollis, sevenhilled Rome.

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Solution. What if it be (as some of the Romans conjecture) because the parts of the city are not as yet everywhere connected? Or if this conceit be nothing to the purpose, what if it be that, when the great work of building the city was finished and they determined to cease the increasing of the city and further, they rested themselves and rested the cattle that bore a share in the labor with them, and provided accordingly that they might participate of the holiday by rest from labor? Or was it that they would have all the citizens always present for the solemnity and return of a festival, especially that which was observed in remembrance of the compact uniting the parts of the city; and that none should desert the city for whose sake the feast is kept, they were not allowed to use their yoke chariots that day?

Question 70. Why do they call those Furciferi which are convict of thefts or any other of those slavish crimes?

Solution. Was it this (which was an argument of the severity of the ancients), that whenever any convicted his servant of any villany, he enjoined him to carry the forked piece of timber that is under the cart (the tongue of the cart), and to go with it through the next villages and neighborhood, to be seen of all, that they might distrust him and be aware of him for the future? This piece of wood we call a prop, the Romans call it furca, a fork; hence he that carries it about is called furcifer, a fork-bearer.

Question 71. Why do they bind hay about the horns of oxen that are wont to push, that they may be shunned by him that meets them?

Solution. It is that by reason of gormandizing and stuffing their guts oxen, asses, horses, and men become mischevous, as Sophocles somewhere saith,

  • Like full-fed colt thou kickest up heels,
  • From stuffed paunch, cheeks, and full meals?

Therefore the Romans say that M. Crassus had hay about Edition: current; Page: [242] his horns, for they that were turbulent men in the commonwealth were wont to stand in awe of him as a revengeful man and one scarce to be meddled with; although afterwards it was said again, that Caesar had taken away Crassus’s hay, being the first man of the republic that withstood and affronted him.

Question 72. Why would they have the lanthorns of the soothsaying priests (which formerly they called Auspices, and now Augures) to be always open at top, and no cover to be put upon them?

Solution. Is it as the Pythagoreans do, who make little things symbols of great matters, — as forbidding to sit down upon a bushel and to stir up the fire with a sword, — so that the ancients used many enigmatical ceremonies, especially about their priests, and such was this of the lanthorn? For the lanthorn is like the body encompassing the soul, the soul being the light withinside, and the understanding and judgment ought to be always open and quick-sighted, and never to be shut up or blown out. And when the winds blow, the birds are unsettled and do not afford sound prognostics, by reason of their wandering and irregularity in flying; by this usage therefore they teach that their soothsayers must not prognosticate when there are high winds, but in still and calm weather, when they can use their open lanthorns.

Question 73. Why were priests that had sores about them forbid to use divination.

Solution. Is not this a significant sign that, whilst they are employed about divine matters, they ought not to be in any pain, nor have any sore or passion in their minds, but to be cheerful, sincere, and without distraction? Or it is but rational, if no man may offer a victim that hath a sore, nor use such birds for soothsaying, that much more they should themselves be free from these blemishes, and be clean, sincere, and sound, when they go about to inspect Edition: current; Page: [243] divine prodigies; for an ulcer seems to be a mutilation and defilement of the body.

Question 74. Why did Servius Tullius build a temple of Small Fortune, whom they call Brevis?

Solution. Was it because he was of a mean original and in a low condition, being born of a captive woman, and by fortune came to be king of Rome? Or did not that change of his condition manifest the greatness rather than the smallness of his fortune? But Servius most of all of them seems to ascribe divine influence to Fortune, giving thereby a reputation to all his enterprises. For he did not only build temples of Hopeful Fortune, of Fortune that averteth evil, of Mild, Primogenial, and Masculine Fortune; but there is a temple also of Private Fortune, another of Regardful Fortune, another of Hopeful Fortune, and the fourth of Virgin Fortune. But why should any one mention any more names, seeing there is a temple also of Ensnaring Fortune, which they name Viscata, as it were ensnaring us when we are as yet afar off, and enforcing us upon business.* Consider this now, whether it be that Servius found that great matters are effected by a small piece of Fortune, and that it often falls out that great things are effected by some or do come to nought by a small thing being done or not done. He built therefore a temple of Small Fortune, teaching us to take care of our business, and not contemn things that happen by reason of their smallness.

Question 75. Why did they not extinguish a candle, but suffer it to burn out of its own accord.

Solution. Is this the reason, that they adored it as being related and akin to unquenchable and eternal fire? Or is it a significant ceremony, teaching us that we are not to kill and destroy any animated creature that is harmless, fire Edition: current; Page: [244] being as it were an animal? For it both needs nourishment and moves itself, and when it is extinguished it makes a noise as if it were then slain? Or doth this usage instruct us that we ought not to make waste of fire or water, or any other necessary thing that we have a superabundance of, but suffer those that have need to use them, leaving them to others when we ourselves have no further use for them?

Question 76. Why do they that would be preferred before others in gentility wear little moons on their shoes?

Solution. Is this the reason (as Castor saith), that this is a symbol of the place of habitation that is said to be in the moon, signifying that after death souls should have the moon under their feet again? Or was this a fashion of renown among families of greatest antiquity, as were the Arcadians of Evander’s posterity, that were called men born before the moon (πϱοσέληνοι)? Or is this, like many other customs, to put men who are lofty and high-minded in mind of the mutability of human affairs to either side, setting the moon before them as an example,

  • When first she comes from dark to light,
  • Trimming, her face becomes fair bright,
  • Increasing, till she’s full in sight;
  • Declining then, leaves nought but night?*

Or was this for a doctrine of obedience to authority, — that they would have us not discontented under it; but, as the moon doth willingly obey her superior and conform unto him, always vamping after the rays of the sun (as Parmenides hath it), so they that are subjects to any prince should be contented with their lower station, in the enjoyment of power and dignity derived from him?

Question 77. Why are they of an opinion that the year is Jupiter’s, but the months Juno’s?

Solution. Is it because Jupiter and Juno reign over the Edition: current; Page: [245] invisible Gods, who are no otherwise seen but by the eyes of our understanding, but the Sun and Moon over the visible? And the Sun verily causeth the year, and the Moon the months. Neither ought we to think that they are bare images of them, but the Sun is Jupiter himself materially, and the Moon Juno herself materially. Therefore they name her Juno (a juvenescendo, the name signifying a thing that is new or grows young) from the nature of the Moon; and they call her Lucina (as it were bright or shining), and they are of opinion that she helps women in their travail-pains. Whence is that of the poets:

  • By azure heaven beset with stars,
  • By th’ moon that hastens births;

for they suppose that women have the easiest travail at the full of the moon.

Question 78. What is the reason that a bird called sinister in soothsaying is fortunate?

Solution. What if this be not true, but the dialect deludes so many? For they render ἀϱιστεϱόν sinistrum; but to permit a thing is sinere, and they say sine when they desire a thing to be permitted; therefore a prognostic permitting an action (being sinisterium) the vulgar do understand and call amiss sinistrum. Or is it as Dionysius saith, that when Ascanius, the son of Aeneas, had pitched battle against Mezentius, a flash of lightning portending victory (as they prognosticated) came on his left hand, and for the future they observed it so; or, as some others say, that this happened to Aeneas? Moreover, the Thebans routing and conquering their enemies by the left wing of the army at Leuctra, they continued in all battles to give the left wing the pre-eminence. Or is it rather as Juba thinks, that to those that look toward the east the north is on the left hand, which verily some make the right hand and superior part of the world? Consider whether the soothsayers do not, as it were, corroborate left-hand things, as the weaker Edition: current; Page: [246] by nature, and do intimate as if they introduced a supply of that defect of power that is in them. Or is it that they think that things terrestrial and mortal stand directly over against heavenly and divine things, and do conjecture that the things which to us are on the left hand the Gods send down from their right hand?

Question 79. Why was it lawful to bring the bones of one that had triumphed (after he was dead and burnt) into the city and lay them there, as Pyrrho the Liparaean hath told us?

Solution. Was it for the honor they had for the deceased? For they granted that not only generals and other eminent persons, but also their offspring, should be buried in the market-place, for example, Valerius and Fabricius. And they say, when the posterity of these persons died, they were brought into the market-place, and a burning firebrand was put under them and immediately taken away; and thus all that might have caused envy was avoided, and the right to the honor was fully confirmed.

Question 80. Why did they that publicly feasted the triumphers humbly request the consuls, and by messengers sent beseech them, not to come to their supper?

Solution. Was it that it was necessary to give the supreme place and most honorable entertainment to the triumpher, and wait upon him home after supper; whereas, the consuls being present, they might do such things to none other but them?

Question 81. Why did not the tribune of the people wear a purple garment, whenas each of the other magistrates wore one?

Solution. What if the tribune is not a magistrate at all? For he neither hath lictors, nor sitting in tribunal doth he determine causes; neither do the tribunes, as the rest, enter upon their office at the beginning of the year, Edition: current; Page: [247] nor do they cease when a dictator is chosen; but as if they translated all magistratic power to themselves, they continue still, being (as it were) no magistrates, but holding another kind of rank. And as some rhetoricians will not have a prohibition to be judicial proceeding, seeing it doth something contrary to judicial proceeding, — for the one brings in an action at law and gives judgment upon it, but the other nonsuits it and dismisseth the cause, — after the like manner they are of opinion that tribuneship is rather a curb to magistracy, and that it is an order standing in opposition to government rather than a piece of government itself; for the tribune’s office and authority is to withstand the magistrate’s authority, even to curtail his extravagant power. Perhaps these and similar reasons may be mere ingenious devices; but in truth, since tribuneship takes its original from the people, popularity is its stronghold, and it is a great thing not to carry it above the rest of the people, but to be like the citizens they have to do with in gesture, habit, and diet. State indeed becomes a consul and a praetor; but as for a tribune (as Caius Curio saith), he must be one that even is trampled upon, not grave in countenance, nor difficult of access, nor harsh to the rabble, but more tractable to them than to others. Hence it was decreed that the tribune’s doors should not be shut, but be open night and day as a haven and place of refuge for distressed people. And the more condescending his outward deportment is, by so much the more doth he increase in his power; for they dignify him as one of public use, and to be resorted to of all sorts even as an altar; therefore by the reverence they give him, he is sacred, holy, and inviolable; and when he makes a public progress, it is a law that every one should cleanse and purify the body as defiled.

Question 82. Why before the chief officers are rods carried bound together, with the axes fastened to them?

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Solution. What if it be a significant ceremony, to show that a magistrate’s anger ought not to be rash and ungrounded? Or is it that, while the rods are leisurely unloosing, they make deliberation and delay in their anger, so that oftentimes they change their sentence as to the punishment? Now, whereas some sort of crimes are curable, some incurable, rods correct the corrigible, but the axes are to cut off the incorrigible.

Question 83. What is the reason that the Romans, when they were informed that the barbarians called Bletonesians had sacrificed a man to the Gods, sent for their magistrates to punish them; but when they made it appear that they did it in obedience to a certain law, they dismissed them, but prohibited the like action for the future; whenas they themselves, not many years preceding, buried two men and two women alive in the Forum Boarium, two of whom were Greeks and two Gauls? For it seems absurd to do this themselves, and yet to reprimand the barbarians as if they were committing profaneness.

Solution. What if this be the reason, that they reckoned it profane to sacrifice a man to the Gods, but necessary to do so to the Daemons? Or were they of opinion that they sinned that did such things by custom or law; but as for themselves, they did it being enjoined to it by the Sibylline books? For it is reported that one Elvia, a virgin, riding on horseback was struck with lightning and cast from her horse, and the horse was found lying uncovered and she naked, as if on set purpose; her clothes had been turned up from her secret parts, also her shoes, rings, and head-gear all lay scattered up and down, here and there; her tongue also was hanging out of her mouth. And when the diviners declared that it was an intolerable disgrace to the holy virgins that it should be published, and that some part of the abuse did touch the cavaliers, a Edition: current; Page: [249] servant of a certain barbarian cavalier informed, that three vestal virgins, Aemilia, Licinia, and Martia, about the same time had been deflowered, and for a long time played the whores with some men, among whom was Butetius, the said informer’s master. The virgins being convict were punished; and the fact appearing heinous, it was thought meet that the priest should consult the Sibylline books, where there were oracles found foretelling these things would come to pass for mischief to the republic, and enjoining them — in order to avert the impending calamity — to provide two Grecians and two Gauls, and bury them alive in that place, in order to the appeasing some alien and foreign Daemons.

Question 84. Why do they take the beginning of the day from the midnight?

Solution. Is the reason that the commonweal had a military constitution at the first? For many matters of concern on military expeditions are managed by night. Or did they make sunrising the beginning of business, and the night the preparation for it? For men ought to come prepared to action, and not to be in preparation when they should be doing, — as Myso is reported to have said to Chilo the Wise, when he was making a fan in winter. Or as the noontide to many is the time for finishing public and weighty affairs, so did it seem meet to make midnight the beginning? This hath this confirmation, that a Roman governor would make no league or confederation in the afternoon. Or is it impossible to take the beginning and end of the day from sunrising to sunsetting? For, as the vulgar measure the beginning of the day by sense to be the first appearance of the sun, and take the first beginning of the night to be the complete withdrawment of the sun from sight, we shall thus have no equinoctial day; but the night which we suppose comes nearest in equality to the day will be manifestly shorter than the day by the diameter Edition: current; Page: [250] of the sun. Which absurdity the mathematicians, going about to solve, have determined that, where the centre of the sun toucheth the horizon, there is the true parting point between day and night. But this contradicts sense; for it must follow that whilst there is much light above the earth, yea, the sun illuminating us, we will not for all this confess it to be day, but must say that it is still night. Whereas then it is hard to take the beginning of the day from the rising and setting of the sun, by reason of the forementioned absurdities, it remains to take the zenith and the nadir for the beginning. The last is best, for the sun’s course from noon is by way of declination from us; but from midnight he takes his course towards us, as sunrising comes on.

Question 85. Wherefore did they not in ancient times suffer women to grind or play the cook?

Solution. Haply, because they remembered the covenant that they made with the Sabines; for after they had robbed them of their daughters, and fighting many battles became reconciled, among other articles of agreement this was recorded, that a wife was not to grind nor play the cook for a Roman husband.

Question 86. Why do they not marry wives in the month of May?

Solution. Is this the reason, that because May is between April and June, — concerning which months they have an opinion that that is sacred to Venus, this to Juno, both of them being nuptial Gods, — they either take an opportunity a little before May, or tarry till it be over? Or is it that in this month they offer the greatest expiatory sacrifice, now casting the images of men from a bridge into the river, and formerly men themselves? Moreover, it is by law required that the Flaminica, the reputed priestess of Juno, should be most sourly sullen during the time, and neither wash nor trim up herself. Or is it because many Edition: current; Page: [251] of the Latins in this month offer oblations unto the dead? And therefore perhaps they worship Mercury in this month, which from Maia derives its name? Or, as some say, is May derived from elder age (maior) and Juno from younger (iunior)? For youth is more suitable to matrimony, as Euripides hath said,

  • Old age the Cyprian queen must ever shun,
  • And Venus from old men in scorn doth run.

Therefore they marry not in May, but tarry till June, which is presently after May.

Question 87. Why do they part the hair of women when they are married with the point of a spear?

Solution. What if it be a significant ceremony, showing that they took their first wives in marriage by force of arms and war? Or is it that they may instruct them that they are to dwell with husbands that are soldiers and warriors, and that they should put on such ornamental attire as is not luxurious or lascivious, but plain? So Lycurgus commanded that all the gates and tops of houses should be built with saw and hatchet, and no other sort of workmen’s instrument should be used about them; yea, he rejected all gayety and superfluity. Or doth this action parabolically intimate divorce, as that marriage can be dissolved only by the sword? Or is it that most of these nuptial ceremonies relate to Juno? For a spear is decreed sacred to Juno, and most of her statues are supported by a spear, and she is surnamed Quiritis, and a spear of old was called quiris, wherefore they surname Mars Quirinus?

Question 88. Why do they call the money that is laid out upon the public plays lucar?

Solution. Is it because there are many groves consecrated to the Gods about the city, which they call luci, and the revenue of these they expend upon the said plays?

Question 89. Why do they call the Quirinalia the Feast of Fools?

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Solution. Was it because they set apart that day for those that were unacquainted with their own curiae, as Juba saith? Or was it for them that did not sacrifice with their tribes, as the rest did, in the Fornicalia, by reason of business or long journeys or ignorance, so that it was allowed to them to solemnize that feast upon this day?

Question 90. What is the reason that, when there is a sacrifice to Hercules, they mention no other God and no dog appears within the enclosure, as Varro saith?

Solution. Is the reason of their naming no other God, because they are of opinion that Hercules was but a half God? And, as some say, Evander built an altar to him and brought him a sacrifice, whilst he was yet here among men. And of all creatures he had most enmity to a dog, for this creature always held him hard to it, as did Cerberus; and that which most of all prejudiced him was that, when Oeonus, the son of Licymnius, was slain for a dog’s sake by the Hippocoontidae, he was necessitated to take up the cudgels, and lost many of his friends and his brother Iphicles.

Question 91. Why was it unlawful for the patricians to dwell about the Capitol?

Solution. Was it because M. Manlius, whilst he dwelt there, affected arbitrary government; upon whose account the family came under an oath of abjuration that no Manlius should for the future bear the name of Marcus? Or was this an ancient suspicion? For the potent men would never leave calumniating Publicola, a most popular man, nor would the common people leave fearing him till he had plucked down his house, which seemed to hang over the market-place.

Question 92. Why do they put on a garland of oaken leaves on him that saves a citizen in battle?

Solution. Is it because it is easy to find an oak everywhere in the military expeditions? Or is it because a Edition: current; Page: [253] crown is sacred to Jupiter and Juno, who in their opinion are the city guardians? Or was it an ancient custom among the Arcadians, who are something akin to the oak? For they repute themselves the first men produced of the earth, as the oak among the vegetables.

Question 93. Why do they for the most part use vultures for soothsaying?

Solution. Was this the reason, because twelve vultures appeared to Romulus upon the building of Rome? Or because of all birds this is least frequent and familiar? For it is not easy to meet with young vultures, but they fly to us unexpectedly from some remote parts; therefore the sight of them is portentous. Or haply they learned this from Hercules, if Herodotus speak true that Hercules rejoiced most in the beginning of an enterprise at the sight of a vulture, being of opinion that a vulture was the justest of all birds of prey. For first, he meddles not with any living creature, neither doth he destroy any thing that hath breath in it, as eagles, hawks, and other fowls do that prey by night, but lives only upon dead carcasses; and next, he passeth by all those of his kind, for none ever saw a vulture feeding on a bird, as eagles and hawks do, which for the most part pursue birds like themselves, and slay them, even as Aeschylus hath it,

A bird that preys on birds, how can’t be clean?

And verily this bird is not pernicious to men, for it neither destroys fruits nor plants, nor is hurtful to any tame animal. Moreover if it be (as the Egyptians fabulously pretend) that the whole kind of them is of the female sex, and that they conceive by the reception of the east wind into their bodies, as the trees do by receiving the west wind, it is most probable that very certain and sound prognostics may be made from them; whereas in other birds (there being so many rapines, flights, and pursuits about copulation) Edition: current; Page: [254] there are great disturbances and uncertainties attending them.

Question 94. For what reason is the temple of Aesculapius placed without the city?

Solution. Was it because they reckoned it a wholesomer kind of living without the city than within? For the Greeks have placed the edifices belonging to Aesculapius for the most part on high places, where the air is pure and clear. Or is it that they suppose this God was fetched from Epidaurus? For the temple of Aesculapius is not close by that city, but at a great distance from it. Or is it that, by a serpent that went on shore out of a trireme galley into the island and disappeared, they think the God himself intimated to them the place of building his temple?

Question 95. Why was it ordained that they that were to live chaste should abstain from pulse?

Solution. Did they, like the Pythagoreans, abominate beans for the causes which are alleged, and the lathyrus and erebinthus as being named from Lethe and Erebus? Or was it because they used pulse for the most part in their funeral feasts and invocations of the dead? Or rather was it because they should bring empty and slender bodies to their purifications and expiations? For pulse are windy, and cause a great deal of excrements that require purging off. Or is it because they irritate lechery, by reason of their flatulent and windy nature?

Question 96. Why do they inflict no other punishment on Vestal Virgins, when they are defiled, than burying them alive?

Solution. Is this the reason, because they burn the dead, and to bury her by fire who hath not preserved sacred the divine fire would be unjust? Or was it that they judged it a wicked act to cut off a person sanctified by the greatest ceremonial purification, and to lay hands on a holy woman; and therefore they contrived a machine Edition: current; Page: [255] for her to die in of herself, and let her down into a vault made under ground, where was placed a candle burning, also some bread and milk and water, and then the den was covered with earth on top? Neither by this execrable manner of devoting them are they exempt from superstition; but to this day the priests going to the place perform purgatory rites.

Question 97. What is the reason that, at the horse-race on the Ides of December, the lucky horse that beats is sacrificed as sacred to Mars; and a certain man, cutting off his tail, brings it to a place called Regia, and besmears the altar with the blood of it; but for the head, one party coming down from the way called Sacred, and others from the Suburra, do fight?

Solution. Whether was it (as some say) that, reckoning that Troy was taken by a horse, they punish a horse, as being the

Renowned Trojan race commixt with Latin boys?

Or is it because a horse is a fierce, warlike, and martial beast, therefore they do sacrifice to the Gods the things that are most acceptable and suitable; and he that conquers is offered, because victory and prowess doth belong to that God? Or is it rather because to stand in battle is the work of God, and they that keep their ranks and files do conquer those that do not keep them but fly, and swiftness of foot is punished as the maintenance of cowardice; so that hereby it is significantly taught that there is no safety to them that run away?

Question 98. What is the reason that the censors entering upon their office do nothing before they have contracted for providing meat for the sacred geese, and for polishing the statue?

Solution. Is this the reason, that they begin with those things that savor of most frugality, and such things as want not much charge and trouble? Or is it in grateful commemoration Edition: current; Page: [256] of what these creatures did of old, when the Gauls invaded Rome and the barbarians scaled the walls of the Capitol by night? For the geese were sensible of it when the dogs were asleep, and they with their gaggling awaked the watch? Or, seeing the censors are the conservers of such things as are of greatest and most necessary concern, — to oversee and narrowly inspect the public sacrifices, and the lives, manners, and diet of men, — do they presently set before their consideration the most vigilant creature, and by the watchfulness of these instruct the citizens not to disregard or neglect sacred things? As for the polishing of the statue, it is necessary, for the minium (wherewith they of old colored the statues) soon fades.

Question 99. What is the reason that of the other priests they depose any one that is condemned or banished, and substitute another in his room; but remove not the augur from his priesthood so long as he lives, though he be convicted of the greatest crimes? They call them augurs who are employed in soothsaying.

Solution. Is the reason (as some say) that they will have none to know the mysteries of the priests who is not a priest? Or that the augur is bound by oath to discover to none the management of sacred things; therefore they refuse to absolve him from his oath, when he is reduced to a private capacity? Or is it that the name of augur is not a title of honor and dignity, but of skill and art? It would therefore be the like case to depose a musician from being a musician or a physician from being a physician, with that of prohibiting a diviner from being a diviner; seeing they cannot take away his faculty, though they deprive him of the title. Moreover they do not substitute augurs, because they will keep to the number of augurs that were at the beginning.

Question 100. What is the reason that in the Ides of Edition: current; Page: [257] August (which at first they called Sextilis) all the men-servants and maid-servants do feast, but the free women make it most of their business to wash and purge their heads?

Solution. Was it that King Servius about this day was born of a captive maid-servant, and hence the servants have a vacation time from work; and that rinsing the head was a thing that took its original from a custom of the maid-servants upon the account of the feast, and finally passed also into the free women?

Question 101. Why do they finify their boys with necklaces, which they call bullae?

Solution. What if this were for the honor of the wives which were taken by force? For as many other things, so this might be one of the injunctions laid on their posterity. Or did they it in honor of Tarquin’s manhood? For it is reported of him that, whilst he was but a boy, being engaged in a battle against the Latins and Tuscans, charging his enemies, he fell from his horse; yet animating those Romans which were engaged in the charge, he led them on courageously. The enemies were put to a remarkable rout, and sixteen thousand were slain; whereupon he had this badge of honor bestowed upon him by his father the king. Or was it that by the ancients it was neither lewd nor dishonorable to love beautiful slaves (as now the comedies testify), but that they resolvedly abstained from freeborn servants; and lest, by coming accidentally on naked boys, they should ignorantly transgress, the free boys wore this mark of distinction? Or was this a protector of good order, and after a manner a curb of incontinency; they being ashamed to pretend to manhood before they have put off the badge of children? That which they say who follow Varro is not probable, that boule by the Aeolians is called bolla, and this is put about children as a teaching sign of good counsel. But consider whether they do not Edition: current; Page: [258] wear it for the moon’s sake. For the visible face of the moon, when it is halved, is not spherical, but shaped like a lentil or a quoit; and (as Empedocles supposeth) so is also the side that is turned away from us.

Question 102. Why do they name boys when they are nine days old, and girls when they are eight?

Solution. Perhaps it’s a natural reason, that girls are forwarder, for the female grows up and comes to full stature and perfection before the male. But they take the day after the seventh, because the seventh is dangerous to infants by reason of the navel-string; for with many it falls off at seven days, and until it falls off, an infant is more like a plant than an animal. Or is it, as the Pythagoreans reckon, that the even number is the feminine, and the odd number the masculine? For it is a fruitful number, and excels the even in respect of its composition. And if these numbers be divided into units, the even, like a female, hath an empty space in the middle; the odd number always leaves a segment full in the middle, wherefore this is fit to be compared to the male, that to the female. Or is it thus, that of all numbers nine is the first square number made of three, which is an odd and perfect number, but eight is the first cube made of two, an even number; whence a male ought to be square, superexcelling, and complete; but a woman, like a cube, constant, a good housewife, and no gadding gossip? This also may be added that, as eight is a cube from the root two, and nine a square from the root three, so the female makes use of two names, and the males of three.

Question 103. Why do they call those whose fathers are not known Spurius?

Solution. It is not verily — as the Grecians suppose and as the rhetoricians say in their determinations — because they are begot of some promiscuous and common seed (as the Greeks say σπόϱος). But Spurius is found Edition: current; Page: [259] among first names, as Sextus, Decimus, Caius. But the Romans do not write all the letters of the first name; but either one letter, as T. for Titus, L. for Lucius, M. for Marcus; or two letters, as Ti. for Tiberius, Cn. for Cnaeus; or three, as Sex. for Sextus, and Ser. for Servius. Now Spurius is of those that are written with two letters, Sp. But with these same letters they write without father, S. for sine, and P. for patre, which truly hath caused the mistake. Moreover, we may meet with another reason, but it is more absurd. They say, that the Sabines called the privities of a woman spurius; and therefore they call him so, by way of reproach, who is born of a woman unmarried and unespoused.

Question 104. Why did they call Bacchus Liber Pater?

Solution. Was the reason because they make him, as it were, the father of liberty to tipplers? For most men become very audacious and are filled with too much licentious prattle, by reason of too much drink. Or is this it, that he hath supplied them with a libamen, a drink-offering? Or is it, as Alexander hath said, that Bacchus is called Eleutherius from his having his abode about Eleutherae, a city of Boeotia?

Question 105. For what cause was it, that on high holidays it was not a custom for virgins to marry, but widows did marry then?

Solution. Is the reason, as Varro saith, that virgins, forsooth, are married weeping, but women with joyful glee, and people are to do nothing of a holiday with a heavy heart nor by compulsion? Or rather is it because it is decent for virgins to marry with more than a few present, but for widows to marry with a great many present is indecent? For the first marriage is zealously affected, the second to be deprecated; yea, they are ashamed to marry a second husband while their first husband lives, and they Edition: current; Page: [260] grieve at doing so even when he is dead. Hence they are pleased more with silence than with tumults and pompous doings; and the feasts do attract the generality of people to them, so that they cannot be at leisure on holidays for such wedding solemnities. Or was it that they that robbed the Sabines of their daughters that were virgins on the feast-day raised thereby a war, and looked therefore upon it as unlucky to marry virgins on holidays?

Question 106. Why do the Romans worship Fortuna Primigenia?

Solution. Was it because Servius, being by Fortune born of a servant-maid, came to rule king in Rome with great splendor? And this is the supposition of most Romans. Or rather is it that Fortune hath bestowed on Rome itself its very original and birth? Or may not this matter require a more natural and philosophical reason, even that Fortune is the original of all things and that Nature itself is produced out of things that come by Fortune, when events that come by chance fall into an order among themselves?

Question 107. Why do the Romans call the artists who appear in the worship of Bacchus histriones?

Solution. Is it for the reason which C. Rufus tells us? For he says, that in ancient time, C. Sulpicius and Licinius Stolo, being consuls, a pestilence raging in Rome, all the actors upon the stage were cut off; wherefore, upon the request of the Romans, many and good artists came from Etruria, among whom he that excelled in fame and had been longest experienced on the public stages was called Histrus, and from him they named all the stage-players.

Question 108. Why do not men marry women that are near akin?

Solution. Is this the reason, that they design by marriage to augment their family concerns and to procure many relations, by giving wives to strangers and marrying Edition: current; Page: [261] wives out of other families? Or do they suspect that the contentions that would happen among relations upon marriage would destroy even natural rights? Or is it that, considering that wives by reason of weakness stand in need of many helpers, they would not have near akin marry together, that their own kindred might stand by them when their husbands wrong them?

Question 109. Why is it not lawful for the high priest of Jupiter, which they call Flamen Dialis, to touch meal or leaven?

Solution. Is it because meal is imperfect and crude nourishment? For the wheat neither hath continued what it was, neither is it made into bread as it must be; but it hath lost the faculty of seed, and hath not attained to usefulness for food. Wherefore the poet hath named meal, by a metaphor, mill-murdered (μυλήφατον), as if the corn were spoiled and destroyed by grinding. Leaven, as it is made by corruption, corrupts the mass that it is mingled with, for it is made thereby looser and weaker; and fermentation is a kind of corruption, which, if it be overmuch, makes the bread sour and spoils it.

Question 110. Why is the same high priest forbid to touch raw flesh?

Solution. Is it because custom makes them averse enough to raw flesh? Or is it that the same reason that makes them averse to meal doth also make them averse to flesh; for it is neither a living creature nor dressed food? Roasting or boiling, being an alteration and change, doth change its form; but fresh and raw flesh offers not a pure and unpolluted object to the eye, but such as is offensive to the eye, and like that of a raw wound.

Question 111. Why do they require the priest to abstain from a dog and a goat, and neither to touch or name them?

Solution. Was it that they abominated the lasciviousness Edition: current; Page: [262] and stink of a goat, or that they suspected it to be a diseased creature? For it seems this animal is more seized with the falling sickness than other creatures, and is contagious to them that eat or touch it while it hath this disease; they say, the cause is the straightness of the windpipe, often intercepting the breath, a sign of which they make the smallness of their voice to be; for it happens to men that are epileptical, that they utter a voice sounding much like the bleat of a goat. Now in a dog there may be less of lasciviousness and of an ill scent; although some say that dogs are not permitted to go into the high streets of Athens — no, not into the island Delos — by reason of their open coition; as if kine, swine, and horses did use coition in bed-chambers, and not openly and lawlessly. They do not know the true reason, — that, because a dog is a quarrelsome creature, they therefore expel dogs out of sanctuaries and sacred temples, giving safe access to suppliants for refuge. Wherefore it is very likely that the priest of Jupiter, being (as it were) an animated and sacred image, granted for refuge to petitioners and suppliants, doth banish or fright away none. For which cause a couch was set for him in the porch of the house, and they that fell on their knees before him had indemnity from stripes or punishment that day; and if one in fetters came and addressed him, he was unloosed, and his fetters were not laid down by the door but thrown from the roof. It would be therefore no advantage that he should carry himself so mild and courteous, if there were a dog at the door, scaring and frighting them that petitioned for sanctuary. Neither did the ancients at all repute this creature clean; for he is offered in sacrifice to none of the celestial Gods, but being sent to Hecate, an infernal Goddess, at the three cross-ways for a supper, takes a share in averting calamities and in expiations. In Lacedaemon they cut puppies in pieces to Mars, that Edition: current; Page: [263] most cruel God. In Boeotia public expiation is made by passing between the parts of a dog divided in twain. But the Romans sacrifice a dog in the cleansing month, on the festival which they call Lupercalia. Hence it was not without cause, to prohibit them whose charge it was to worship the highest and holiest God from making a dog familiar and customed to them.

Question 112. What is the reason that the priest of Jupiter is forbid to toucch an ivy, or to pass over that way that is overspread with vine branches?

Solution. Is it not of the like nature with those precepts of Pythagoras, not to eat in a chair, not to sit upon a measure called a choenix, and not to step over a broom? For the Pythagoreans do not dread and refrain from these things, but they prohibit other things by these. Now to go under a vine hath reference to wine, because it is not lawful for a priest to be drunk. For the wine is above the heads of those that are drunk, and they are depraved and debased thereby; whereas it is requisite that they should be above pleasure and conquer it, but not be subdued by it. As for the ivy, — it being unfruitful and useless to men, as also infirm, and by reason of its infirmity standing in need of other trees to climb upon, though by its shadow and sight of its greenness it doth bewitch the vulgar, — what if they judge it not convenient to nourish it about a house because it bringeth no profit, or to suffer it to clasp about any thing, seeing it is so hurtful to plants that bear it up, while it sticketh fast in the ground? Hence ivy is forbidden at the Olympic festivals, and neither at Athens in Juno’s sacrifices, nor at Thebes in those belonging to Venus, can any wild ivy be seen; though in the Agrionia and Nyctelia (which are services to Bacchus for the most part performed in the dark) it is to be found. Or was this a symbol of the prohibition of revels and sports of Bacchus? For women that were addicted to Bacchanal Edition: current; Page: [264] sports presently ran to the ivy and plucked it off, tearing it in pieces with their hands and gnawing it with their mouths, so that they are not altogether to be disbelieved that say it hath a spirit in it that stirreth and moveth to madness, transporting and bereaving of the senses, and that alone by itself it introduceth drunkenness without wine to those that have an easy inclination to enthusiasm.

Question 113. Why are not these priests allowed to take upon them or attempt civil authority, while they have a lictor and a curule chair for honor’s sake, and in some sort of consolation for their being excluded from magistracies?

Solution. Was it because in some places of Greece the dignity of priesthood was equal with kingship, and therefore they designated not ordinary persons to be priests? Or was it rather, — since they have appointed office-employments, whereas the charge of kings is unmethodical and indefinite, — that it would not be possible, if both fell out at the same time, that he should be able to attend both, but he must of necessity neglect one (both pressing together upon him), sometimes neglecting the worship of God, and sometimes injuring the subjects? Or else, seeing that there is no less necessity than power attending the administration of civil government, and that the ruler of the people (as Hippocrates saith of the physician) doth see weighty matters and hath to do with weighty matters, and from other men’s calamities procures troubles peculiar to himself, did they think him not sacred enough to sacrifice to the Gods and manage the sacrifices who had been present at the condemnation and execution of citizens, and often of some of his own kindred and family, as happened to Brutus?

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Question 1. Who are they at Epidaurus called Κονίποδες and Ἄϱτυνοι?

Solution. The managers of the affairs of the commonwealth were one hundred and eighty men; out of these they elected senators, which they called ἄϱτυνοι. The most part of the common people were conversant in husbandry; these they called ϰονίποδες, because (as may be supposed) they were known by their dirty feet when they came into the city.

Question 2. What woman was that among the Cumans called Onobatis?

Solution. This was one of the women taken in adultery, which they brought into the market-place, and set her upon a certain stone to be seen of all; from thence they took her and set her on ass-back, and led her round about the city, and afterwards set her up again upon the stone; the rest of her life she led under disgrace. Her they called Onobatis (the woman that rode upon an ass); hence they abominated the stone as unclean. There was also a certain magistrate among them, called Phylactes (a conservator); he that had this office kept the prison for the rest of his time; but at the nocturnal convention of the senators he came into the council, and laying hands on the kings led them forth, and detained them in custody until the senate had determined concerning them, by a vote given in private, whether they had acted unrighteously or not.

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Question 3. Who is the Ὑπεϰϰαύστϱια among the Solenses?

Solution. They call the she-priest of Minerva so, because she offers certain sacrifices and oblations for the averting of impending calamities.

Question 4. Who are the Ἀμνήμονες among the Cnidians, and who is the Ἀφεστήϱ?

Solution. The sixty select men chosen from among the nobles, whom they used as overseers and principal counsellors for life in matters of greatest concern, they called Amnemones (as a man may suppose) because they were not accountable to any for what they did, or verily (in my opinion) rather because they were men carrying much business in their memories. And he that put questions to vote was called Aphester.

Question 5. Who were the Χϱηστοί among the Arcadians and Lacedaemonians?

Solution. When the Lacedaemonians were agreed with the Tegeats, they made a league with them, and set up a common pillar on the river Alpheus, upon which this is written, among other things, “Drive out the Messenians from your borders, and make none of them χϱηστοί, good.” Aristotle interpreting this saith, that none of the Tegeats ought to be slain that endeavored to bring aid to the Lacedaemonians.

Question 6. Who is Κϱιθολόγος among the Opuntians?

Solution. The most of the Greeks did use barley at their ancient sacrifices, when the citizens offered their first-fruits; now they called him Crithologus who presided over the sacrifices and received the first-fruits. They had two priests, one that had the chief charge of the divine things, the other of daemonic affairs.

Question 7. What sort of clouds are the Ploiades?

Solution. Showering clouds which were carried up and down were, for the most part, called Ploiades, as Theophrastus Edition: current; Page: [267] hath said expressly in his fourth book of Meteors: “Whereas indeed the Ploiades are those clouds which have a consistency and are not so movable, but as to color white, which discover a kind of different matter, neither very watery nor very windy.”

Question 8. Who is called Platychaetas among the Boeotians?

Solution. They that had many neighboring houses or bordering fields were so called in the Aeolic dialect, as having wide domains.* I will add one saying out of the Thesmophylacian law, seeing there are many. . . .

Question 9. Who is he among the people of Delphi who is called Ὁσιωτήϱ? And why do they call one of the months Bysius?

Solution. They call the slain sacrifice Ὁσιωτήϱ when the ὅσιος (the holy one) is declared. There are five of these holy ones for life, and these transact many things with the prophets, and sacrifice together with them, supposing that they are descended from Deucalion. The month Bysius, as many think, is the same as Φύσιος (natural), for it is in the beginning of the spring, when most things do sprout and put forth buds. But this is not the true reason. For the Delphians do not use b for ph (as the Macedonians, who say Bilippus, Balacrus, and Beronica, for Philippus, Phalacrus, and Pheronica), but instead of p; they for the most part saying βατεῖν for πατεῖν, and βιϰϱόν for πιϰϱόν. Therefore they say Bysius for Pysius, because in that month they enquire of and consult their God Apollo. This is their genuine and country way of speaking. For in that month an oracle is given forth, and they call that week the nativity of Apollo, and the name is Polythous, not because of their baking a sort of cakes called Pthides, but because then their oracle is full of answers and prophecies. For Edition: current; Page: [268] it is but of late that oraculous answers were given to the enquirers every month. In former times Pythia gave answers only once a year, which was on this day, as Callisthenes and Anaxandridas have told us.

Question 10. What is Phyxemelum?

Solution. It is one of the small plants that creep upon the ground, upon whose branches the cattle treading do hinder, hurt, and spoil their growth. Where therefore they have attained some considerable bigness by growth, and escaped the injury of those that use to feed upon them, they are called φυξίμηλα (i.e. that have escaped the danger of cattle), of which Aeschylus is witness.

Question 11. Who are the Ἀποσφενδόνητοι?

Solution. The Eretrians inhabited the island of Corcyra. But when Charicrates set sail from Corinth with a considerable strength and overcame them in battle, the Eretrians took shipping and sailed to their native country; of which thing the inhabitants of that country having timely notice, gave them a repulse, and by slinging stones at them impeded their landing. Now being not able either to persuade or force their way, seeing the multitude was implacably bent against them, they sailed into Thrace and took possession of that country, where they say Metho first inhabited, of whose offspring Orpheus was. The city therefore they call Methone, and of the neighboring inhabitants the men are called Aposphendoneti, i.e. they that were repulsed with sling-stones.

Question 12. What was Charila among the Delphians?

Solution. The Delphians solemnized three nonennial feasts in regular order, of which they call one Stepterium, another Herois, and the third Charila. The Stepterium represents by imitation the fight which Apollo had with Python, and both his flight and pursuit after the fight unto Tempe. For some say that he fled, as needing purification by reason of the slaughter; others say that he pursued Edition: current; Page: [269] Python wounded, and flying along the highway which they now call Sacred, he just missed of being present at his death; for he found him just dead of his wound, and buried by his son, whose name was Aix, as they say. Stepterium therefore is the representation of these or some such things. But as to Herois, it hath for the most part a mysterious reason which the Thyades are acquainted with; but by the things that are publicly acted one may conjecture it to be the calling up of Semele from the lower world. Concerning Charila, they fable some such things as these. A famine by reason of drought seized the Delphians, who came with their wives and children as suppliants to the king’s gate, whereupon he distributed meal and pulse to the better known among them, for there was not sufficient for all. A little orphan girl yet coming and importuning him, he beat her with his shoe, and threw his shoe in her face. She indeed was a poor wandering beggar-wench, but was not of an ignoble disposition; therefore withdrawing herself, she united her girdle and hanged herself. The famine hereupon increasing and many diseases accompanying it, Pythia gives answer to the king, that the maid Charila who slew herself must be expiated. They with much ado at last discovering that this was the maid’s name which was smitten with a shoe, they instituted a certain sacrifice mixed with expiatory rites, which they yet solemnize to this day every ninth year. Whereat the king presides, distributing meal and pulse to all strangers and citizens (for they introduce a kind of an effigy of the wench Charila); and when all have received their doles, the king smites the idol with his shoe. Upon this the governess of the Thyades takes up the image and carries it away to some rocky place, and there putting a halter about its neck, they bury it in the place where they buried Charila when she had strangled herself.

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Question 13. What is the beggars’ meat among the Aenianes?

Solution. Many have been the removes of the Aenianes. First they inhabited the plain of Dotion; thence they were expelled by the Lapithae to the Aethices; from thence they betook themselves to a region of Molossia about the Aous, where they were called Paravaeans; afterward they took possession of Cirrha; they had no sooner landed at Cirrha (Apollo so commanding their king Oenoclus) but they went down to the country bordering on the river Inachus, inhabited by the Inachians and Achaeans. There was an oracle given to the latter, that they would lose all their country if they should part with any of it, — and to the Aenianes, that they would hold it if they should take it of such as freely resigned it. Temo, a noted man among the Aenianes, putting on rags and a scrip, like a beggar, addressed himself to the Inachians; the king, in a way of reproach and scorn, gave him a clod of earth. He receives it and puts it up into his scrip, and absconds himself, making much of his dole; for he presently forsakes the country, begging no more. The old men wondering at this, the oracle came fresh to their remembrance; and going to the king, they told him that he ought not to slight this man, nor suffer him to escape. Temo well perceiving their designs, hastens his flight, and as he fled, vowed a hecatomb to Apollo. Upon this occasion the kings fought hand to hand; and when Phemius, the king of the Aenianes, saw Hyperochus, the king of the Inachians, charging him with a dog at his heels, he said he dealt not fairly to bring a second with him to fight him; whereupon Hyperochus going to drive away the dog, and turning himself about in order to throw a stone at the dog, Phemius slays him. Thus the Aenianes possessed themselves of that region, expelling the Inachians and Achaeans; but they reverence that stone as sacred, and sacrifice to it, Edition: current; Page: [271] wrapping it in the fat of the victim. And when they offer a hecatomb to Apollo, they sacrifice an ox to Jupiter, a choice part of which they distribute to Temo’s posterity, and call it the beggars’ flesh.

Question 14. Who were the Coliads among the Ithacans? And what was a φάγιλος?

Solution. After the slaughter of the suitors, some near related to the deceased made head against Ulysses. Neoptolemus, being introduced by both parties as an arbitrator, determined that Ulysses should remove and hasten out of Cephalenia, Zacynthus, and Ithaca, because of the blood that he had shed there; but that the friends and relations of the suitors should pay a yearly mulct to Ulysses, for the wrong done to his family. Ulysses therefore passed over into Italy; the mulct he devoted to his son, and commanded the Ithacans to pay it. The mulct was meal, wine, honey-combs, oil, salt, and for victims the better grown of the phagili. Aristotle saith phagilus was a lamb. And Telemachus, setting Eumaeus and his people at liberty, placed them among the citizens; and the family of the Coliads is descended from Eumaeus, and that of the Bucolians from Philoetius.

Question 15. What is the wooden dog among the Locrians?

Solution. Locrus was the son of Fuscius, the son of Amphictyon. Of him and Cabya came Locrus, with whom his father falling into contention, and gathering after him a great number of citizens, consulted the oracle about transplanting a colony. The oracle told him that there he should build a city, where he should happen to be bit by a wooden dog. He, wafting over the sea unto the next shore, trod upon a cynosbatus (a sweet brier), and being sorely pained with the prick, he spent many days there; in which time considering the nature of the country, he built Physcus and Hyantheia, and other towns which the Edition: current; Page: [272] Ozolian Locrians inhabited. Some say that the Locrians were called Ozolians (strong-scented people) from Nessus — others again from Python the serpent — cast up there by the surf of the sea, and putrefying upon the shore. And some say that the men wore pelts and ram-goat skins, living for the most part among the herds of goats, and therefore were strong-scented. Others contrariwise say that the country brought forth many flowers, and that this name was from their sweet odor; among them that assert this is Archytas the Amphissean, who hath wrote thus:

Macyna crowned with vines fragrant and sweet.

Question 16. What manner of thing is that among the Megarians called ἀφάβϱωμα?

Solution. Nisus, of whom Nisaea had its name, in the time of his reign married Abrota of Boeotia, the daughter of Onchestus and sister of Megareus, a woman (as it seems) excelling in prudence and singularly modest. When she died, the Megarians cordially lamented her; and Nisus, willing to perpetuate her memory and renown, gave command that the Megarian women should dress in apparel like unto that which she wore, and that dress they called for her sake aphabroma. And verily it is manifest that the oracle countenanced the veneration of this woman; for when the Megarian women would often have altered their garments, the oracle prohibited it.

Question 17. Who was called δοϱύξενος?

Solution. The country of Megaris was anciently settled in villages, the inhabitants being divided into five parts; and they were called Heraenians, Piraenians, Megarians, Cynosurians, and Tripodiscaeans. These the Corinthians drew into a civil war, for they always contrived to bring the Megarians into their power. Yet they waged war with much moderation and neighborly designs; for no man did at all injure the husbandman, and there was a stated ransom Edition: current; Page: [273] determined for all that were taken captives. And this they received after the release of the prisoner, and not before; but he that took the captive prisoner brought him home, gave him entertainment, and then gave him liberty to depart to his own house. Wherefore he that brought in the price of his ransom was applauded, and remained the friend of him that received it, and was called doryxenus, from his being a captive by the spear; but he that dealt fraudulently was reputed an unjust and unfaithful person, not only by the enemy but by his fellow-citizens also.

Question 18. What is παλιντοϰία?

Solution. When the Megarians had expelled Theagenes the tyrant, they managed the commonweal for some time with moderation. But then (to speak with Plato), when their orators had filled out to them, even to excess, the pure strong wine of liberty, they became altogether corrupt, and the poor carried themselves insolently toward the richer sort in this among other things, that they entered into their houses and demanded that they might be feasted and sumptuously treated. But where they prevailed not, they used violence and abusive behavior, and at last enacted a law to enable them to fetch back from the usurers the use-money which at any time they had paid, calling the execution thereof palintocia, i.e. the returning of use-money.

Question 19. What is the Anthedon of which Pythia speaks,

Drink wine on th’ lees, Anthedon’s not thy home?

For Anthedon in Boeotia did not produce much wine.

Solution. Of old they called Calauria Irene from a woman Irene, which they fable to be the daughter of Neptune and Melanthea, the daughter of Alpheus. Afterwards, when the people of Anthes and Hyperes planted there, they called the island Anthedonia and Hyperia. The oracle, as Aristotle saith, was this:

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  • Drink wine on th’ lees, Anthedon’s not thy home,
  • Nor sacred Hypera where thou drank’st pure wine.

Thus Aristotle; but Mnasigeiton saith that Anthus, who was brother to Hypera, was lost when he was an infant, and Hypera rambling about to find him, came at Pherae to Acastus (or Adrastus), where by chance he found Anthus serving as a wine-drawer. There while they were feasting, the boy bringing a cup of wine to his sister, he knew her, and said to her softly,

Drink wine on th’ lees, Anthedon’s not thy home.

Question 20. What is that darkness at the oak, spoken of in Priene?

Solution. The Samians and Prienians waging war with each other, as at other times they sufficiently injured each other, so at a certain great fight the Prienians slew a thousand of the Samians. Seven years after, fighting with the Milesians at the said oak, they lost all the principal and chief of their citizens together, at the time when Bias the Wise (who was sent ambassador from Priene to Samos) was famous. This grievous and sad calamity befalling the women, there was established an execration and oath — to be taken about matters of the greatest concern — by “the Darkness at the Oak,” because their children, fathers, and husbands were there slain.

Question 21. Who were they among the Cretans called Καταϰαῦται?

Solution. They say that the Tyrrhenians took away by force from Brauron the daughters and wives of the Athenians, at the time when they inhabited Lemnos and Imbros; from whence being driven they came to Laconia, and fell into a commixture with that people, even so far as to beget children on the native women. Thus, by reason of jealousy and calumnies, they were again constrained to leave Laconia, and with their wives and children to waft over into Edition: current; Page: [275] Crete, having Pollis and his brother their governors. There waging war with the inhabitants of Crete, they were fain to permit many of them that were slain in battle to lie unburied; in that at first they had no leisure, by reason of the war and peril they were in, and afterwards they shunned the touching of the dead corpses, being corrupted by time and putrefied. Therefore Pollis contrived to bestow certain dignities, privileges, and immunities, some on the priests of the Gods, and some on the buriers of the dead, consecrating their honors to the infernal Deities, that they should remain perpetual to them. Then he divided to his brother a share by lot. The first he named priests, the others catacautae (burners). But as to the government, each of them managed it apart, and had, among other tranquillities, an immunity from those injurious practices which other Cretans were wont to exercise towards one another privily; for they neither wronged them, nor filched or robbed any thing from them.

Question 22. What was the Sepulchre of the Boys at Chalcedon?

Solution. Cothus and Arclus the sons of Zuthus came to Euboea to dwell, the Aeolians possessing the greatest part of the island at that time. The oracle told Cothus, that he should prosper and conquer his enemies if he bought the country. Therefore, going on shore a little after, he happened to meet with some children playing by the seaside; whereupon he fell to play with them, conforming himself to their humors and showing them many outlandish toys. Seeing the children very desirous to have these, he refused to give them any upon any other terms than to receive land for them. The boys, taking up some earth from the ground, gave it to him, receiving the toys, and departed. The Aeolians perceiving what was done, — and the enemies sailing in upon them, — moved by indignation and grief, slew the children and buried them near the Edition: current; Page: [276] wayside that goes from the city to the Euripus; and that place is called the Sepulchre of the Boys.

Question 23. Who is Μιξαϱχαγέτας in Argos? And who are the Ἐλάσιοι?

Solution. They call Castor Mixarchagetas, and are of opinion that he was buried in the country; but they worship Pollux as one of the celestial Deities. Those which they supposed were able to drive away the falling sickness, they called Elasii (expellers), esteeming them to be of the posterity of Alexida the daughter of Amphiaraus.

Question 24. What is that which is called ἔγϰνισμα by the Argives?

Solution. It was a custom among those that lost any of their kindred or acquaintance, presently after mourning to sacrifice to Apollo, and thirty days after to Mercury. For they are of opinion that, as the earth receives the bodies of the deceased, so Mercury receives their souls. Giving then barley to Apollo’s minister, they take the flesh of the sacrifice, and extinguishing the fire as polluted but kindling it again afresh, they boil this flesh, calling it ἔγϰνισμα.

Question 25. Who are Ἀλάστωϱ, Ἀλιτήϱιος, and Παλαμναῖος?

Solution. For we must not give credit to those that say that such are called aliterii who, in the time of dearth, watch the miller (ἀλοῦντα ἐπιτηϱοῦντες) and steal the corn. But he was called Alastor who did exploits not to be forgotten (ἄληστα) but to be had in remembrance for a long time. Aliterius is he whom we should avoid (ἀλεύασθαι) and observe upon the account of his knavery. Such things (saith Socrates) were engraven in plates of brass.

Question 26. What is the meaning of this, that the virgins that follow those that lead the ox from Aenos to Cassiopaea sing, till they approach the borders, in this manner,

To native country dear O may ye ne’er return?

Solution. The Aenianes, being first driven out by the Edition: current; Page: [277] Lapithae, took up their habitation about Aethacia, and then about Molossis and Cassiopaea. But the country affording no staple commodity, and being ill bestead with troublesome neighbors, they went into the Cirraean plain, under the conduct of Oenoclus their king. And when there were great droughts there, by warning from an oracle (as they say) they stoned Oenoclus; and betaking themselves to ramble again, they came into this country which they now possess, being very pleasant and fruitful. Whence with good reason they pray to the Gods that they may never return again to their ancient native country, but may abide where they are in prosperity.

Question 27. What is the reason that at Rhodes the crier never enters into the chapel of Ocridion?

Solution. Was it because Ochimus espoused his daughter Cydippe to Ocridion? But Cercaphus, who was brother to Ochimus, falling in love with the maid, persuaded the crier (for it was the custom to fetch the brides by the crier) to bring her to him when she should be delivered to him. This being accordingly done, Cercaphus got the maid and fled; afterwards, when Ochimus was grown old, he returned. Wherefore it was enacted by the Rhodians that a crier should not enter into the chapel of Ocridion, because of the injustice done by him.

Question 28. What is the reason that at Tenedos a piper might not go into the temple of Tenes, and that no mention might be made of Achilles in that temple?

Solution. Was it because, when his step-mother accused Tenes that he would have lain with her, Molpus a piper bore false witness against him; whereupon Tenes took occasion to fly into Tenedos with his sister? And they say that Achilles was strictly charged by Thetis his mother not to slay Tenes, as one that was much respected by Apollo, and that the Goddess committed the trust to one of the household servants that he should take special care and Edition: current; Page: [278] put him in mind of it, lest Achilles should kill Tenes at unawares. But when Achilles made an incursion into Tenedos and pursued the sister of Tenes, being very fair, Tenes met him and defended his sister; whereupon she escaped, but Tenes was slain. Achilles, knowing him as he fell down dead, slew his own servant, because he being present did not admonish him to the contrary. He buried Tenes, whose temple now remains, into which no piper enters, nor is Achilles named there.

Question 29. Who was the πωλήτης amongst the Epidamnians.

Solution. The Epidamnians, who were neighboring to the Illyrians, perceiving that the citizens that had frequent commerce with them were debauched, and fearing an innovation, made choice of an approved man yearly from amongst them, who should deal as a factor with the barbarians in all matters of trade and traffic, managing the whole business of dealing and commerce on the behalf of all the citizens; and this man was called poletes, or the seller.

Question 30. What is the shore of Araenus in Thrace?

Solution. The Andrians and Chalcidians sailing into Thrace to get them a seat, the city Sane being betrayed was delivered up to them both in common; and being told that Acanthus was deserted by the barbarians, they sent two spies thither. These approaching the city and perceiving all the enemies to be fled, the Chalcidian outruns the other, intending to seize the city for the Chalcidians; but the Andrian, finding himself not able to overtake him, darts his lance and fixeth it exactly in the gates, and saith that he had first seized the city for the Andrians. Hence a great contention arising, they agreed together without a war to make the Erythraeans, Samians, and Parians umpires in all matters of controversy between them. The Erythraeans and Samians brought in the verdict for the Andrians, but the Edition: current; Page: [279] Parians for the Chalcidians; hence the Andrians about this place bound themselves under a curse, that they would not give wives in marriage to the Parians nor take wives of them. Therefore they called the place the Shore of Araenus (i.e. of the curse), whereas before it was called the Shore of the Dragon.

Question 31. In the solemn feasts to the honor of Ceres, why do the Eretrian women roast their meat not at the fire, but by the sun; and why do they not call upon Kalligeneia?

Solution. Was it because it came in course to the women which Agamemnon carried captive from Troy to solemnize a feast to Ceres in this place, and while they were so doing, a fair wind arose, and they suddenly made sail, leaving the sacrifices imperfect.

Question 32. Who were the Ἀειναῦται amongst the Milesians?

Solution. The tyrants Thoas and Damasenor being deposed, two factions got the government of the city, one of which was called Ploutis, the other Cheiromacha, and the potent men prevailing, they settled the state affairs in the association. And when they would sit in council about matters of greatest concern, they went on ship-board and launched out to a great distance from the shore; and when they were agreed upon a point in debate, they sailed back again, and upon this account were called ἀειναῦται (perpetual mariners).

Question 33. Why do the Chalcidians call a certain place about Pyrsopius the Ἀϰμαίων Λέσχη, the Youth’s Conventicle?

Solution. They say that Nauplius, being persecuted by the Achaeans, addressed himself to the Chalcidians for redress, making his defence against the accusation and recriminating on the Achaeans. Whereupon the Chalcidians, refusing to deliver him into their hands lest he should Edition: current; Page: [280] be slain by treachery, granted him a guard of lusty young men, and appointed their post in that place where they had mutual society together and guarded Nauplius.

Question 34. Who was he that sacrificed an ox to his benefactor?

Solution. In a haven of Ithaca there was a pirate ship, in which happened to be an old man who had earthern pots holding pitch. It fell out that an Ithacan skipper named Pyrrhias put into this port, who ransomed the old man upon free cost, only upon his supplication and out of commiseration towards him, and at the request of the old man he purchased also some of his tar-pots. The pirates departing and all fear of danger over, the old fellow brings Pyrrhias to his earthen pots, and shows him a great deal of gold and silver blended amongst the pitch; whereupon Pyrrhias attaining to great riches treated the old man well in all respects, and sacrificed an ox to him. Hence they say proverbially that none hath sacrificed an ox to his benefactor but Pyrrhias.

Question 35. Why was there a custom amongst the Bottiaean maids, as they danced, to sing, “Let us go to Athens”?

Solution. It is reported that the Cretans (in payment of a vow) sent the firstlings of men to Delphi; but when such as were sent found no plentiful provision there, they departed from thence in search of a plantation, and first sat down at Japygia. From thence they went and possessed that part of Thrace which now they have, Athenians being mixed with them; for it is probable that Minos did not destroy those young men which the Athenians sent in a way of tribute, but only detained them in servitude. Some that were descended from these and were accounted Cretans were sent with others to Delphi; so the Bottiaean daughters, in remembrance of their pedigree, sing on their feast-days, “Let us go to Athens.”

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Question 36. Why do the Eleian women in their hymns beseech Bacchus that he will come to their help with an ox’s foot? The hymns run thus: “Come, O hero Bacchus, to thy holy temple placed by the sea; hasten with the Graces to thy temple with a neat’s foot.” Then they redouble this, “O worthy Bull”!

Solution. Was it because some call Bacchus Bull-begot, and some Bull? Or as some say ox-foot for a great foot; as the poet saith ox-eye for a great eye, and βουλάϊος for haughty? Or is it rather, because the foot of an ox is innocent and his bearing horns on his head is pernicious, that so they desire the God may come to them mild and harmless? Or is it because many men are of opinion that this God presides over ploughing and sowing?

Question 37. What is the meaning of that place at Tanagra, before the city, called Achilleum? For it is reported that the city had rather enmity than kindness for Achilles, in that he took Stratonice, the mother of Poemander, by force of arms, and slew Acestor the son of Ephippus.

Solution. Now Poemander the father of Ephippus (whilst the region of Tanagra was still inhabited by villagers), being besieged in Stephon (a village so called) by the Achaeans because he refused to aid them in the wars, left that country the same night, and fortified Poemandria. Policrithus the architect coming in, disparaging his works and making a ridicule of them, leaped over the ditch; Poemander, falling into a rage, catched up a great stone suddenly to throw at him, which had been hid there a great while, lying over some sacred nocturnal relics. This Poemander hurling rashly slung, and missing Policrithus, slew his own son Leucippus. He was then forced by law to depart out of Boeotia and become a wandering and begging pilgrim; neither was that easy for him to do, because of the incursions which the Achaeans made into Edition: current; Page: [282] the region of Tanagra. Wherefore he sent Ephippus his son to beg aid of Achilles. He by persuasion prevailed with Achilles to come, with Tlepolemus the son of Hercules, and with Peneleos the son of Hippalcmus, all of them their kindred. By these Poemander was introduced into Chalcis, and was absolved by Elephenor from the murder; he ascribed great honor to these men, and assigned groves to each of them, of which this kept the name of Achilles’s Grove.

Question 38. Who amongst the Boeotians were the Ψολόεις, and who the Ὀλεῖαι?

Solution. They say that Minos’s daughters — Leucippe, Arsinoe, and Alcathoe — falling mad, had a greedy appetite for man’s flesh, and accordingly cast lots for their children. Whereupon it fell to Leucippe’s lot to produce her son Hippasus to be cut in pieces. The husbands of these women, that were clothed in coarse apparel by reason of sorrow and grief, were called Psoloeis, the women Ὀλεῖαι, that is ὀλοαί (destructive). And to this day the Orchomenians call their posterity so. And it is so ordered that, in the yearly feast called Agrionia, there is a flight and pursuit of them by the priest of Bacchus, with a drawn sword in his hand. It is lawful for him to slay any of them that he takes, and Zoilus a priest of our time slew one. This thing proved unlucky to them; for Zoilus, sickening upon a wound that he got, wasted away for a long time and died; whereupon the Orchomenians, falling under public accusations and condemnations, removed the priesthood from their family, and made choice of the best man in the whole multitude.

Question 39. Why do the Arcadians stone those that go willingly into the Lycaeum, while those that go in ignorantly they carry forth to Eleutherae?

Solution. Is it on the ground that they gained their liberty by being thus absolved, that the story has gained Edition: current; Page: [283] credit? And is this saying “to Eleutherae” the same as “into the region of security,” or “thou shalt come to the seat of pleasure”? Or is the reason to be rendered according to that fabulous story, that of all the sons of Lycaon Eleuther and Lebadus alone were free from that conspiracy against Jupiter, and fled into Boeotia, where the Lebadenses use the like civil polity to that of the Arcadians, and therefore they send them to Eleutherae that enter unwittingly into the inaccessible temple of Jupiter? Or is it (as Architimus saith in his remarks on Arcadia) that some that went into the Lycaeum unawares were delivered up to the Phliasians by the Arcadians, and by the Phliasians to the Megarians, and by the Megarians to the Thebans which inhabit about Eleutherae, where they are detained under rain, thunder, and other direful judgments from Heaven; and upon this account some say this place was called Eleutherae. But the report is not true that he that enters into the Lycaeum casts no shadow, though it hath had a firm belief. And what if this be the reason of that report, that the air converted into clouds looks darkly on them that go in? Or that he that goes in falls down dead? — for the Pythagoreans say that the souls of the deceased do neither give a shadow nor wink. Or is it that the sun only makes a shadow, and the law bereaveth him that entereth here of the sight of the sun? Though this they speak enigmatically; for verily he that goes in is called Elaphus, a stag. Hence the Lacedaemonians delivered up to the Arcadians Cantharion the Arcadian, who went over to the Eleans whilst they waged war with the Arcadians, passing with his booty through the inaccessible temple, and fled to Sparta when the war was ended; the oracle requiring them to restore the stag.

Question 40. Who is Eunostus, the hero of Tanagra; and what is the reason that women may not enter into his grove?

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Solution. Eunostus was the son of Elieus who came of Cephisus and Scias, but they say received his name from Eunosta, the nymph that brought him up. This man was honest and just, and no less temperate and austere. They say that Ochna his niece fell in love with him, who was one of the daughters of Colonus; and when he perceived that she tempted him to lie with her, manifesting his indignation he went and accused her to her brethren. But she had cried Whore first and provoked her brethren, Echimus, Leon, and Bucolus, to kill Eunostus, by her false suggestion that he would have forced her; wherefore these laid wait for the young man and slew him, upon which Elieus secured them. Now Ochna growing penitent and full of terror, as well to discharge the grief she had for her beloved as out of commiseration towards her brethren, confesses the whole truth to Elieus, and he declares it to Colonus, who condemned them. Whereupon Ochna’s brethren fled, but she broke her neck from some high place, as Myrtis the Anthedonian poetess hath told us. Therefore he kept the tomb and grove of Eunostus from the access and approach of women, insomuch that upon earthquakes, droughts, and other portents that often there happened, the Tanagrians made diligent search whether any woman had not by stealth got nigh to that place. And there are some (of whom Clidamus, a man of great fame, is one) who report that Eunostus met them as he was going to the sea to wash himself because a woman had entered into his grove. Diocles also, in his Treatise concerning Shrines, relates the edict of the Tanagrians upon the things that Clidamus declared.

Question 41. Whence is it that in Boeotia there is a river at Eleon called Scamander?

Solution. Deimachus, the son of Eleon and intimate friend of Hercules, bore his part in the siege of Troy. But the war proving long (as it seems), he took to him Edition: current; Page: [285] Glaucia the daughter of Scamander who had fallen in love with him, and got her with child: soon after, fighting against the Trojans, he was slain. Glaucia, fearing that she might be apprehended, fled to Hercules, and acquainted him with her late affection towards Deimachus, and the familiarity she had with him. Hercules, both out of commiseration to the woman, as also for joy that there was an offspring left of so good a man and his intimate acquaintance, took Glaucia on shipboard; and when she was delivered of a son, brought her into Boeotia, and committed her and her child to the care of Eleon. The son was named Scamander, and came to reign over that country. He called the river Inachus by his own name Scamander, and the next rivulet he named from his mother Glaucia; but the fountain he called Acidusa by his own wife’s name, by whom he had three daughters, which they have a veneration for to this day, styling them virgins.

Question 42. Whence was that proverbial speech, “Let this prevail”?

Solution. Dinon the Tarentine general, being a man well skilled in military affairs, when the citizens manifested their dislike of a certain opinion of his by lifting up of hands, as the crier was declaring the majority of votes, stretched forth his right hand and said, This is better. Thus Theophrastus hath told the story; and Apollodorus in his Rhytinus adds this: When the crier had said, ‘These are the most suffrages;’ ‘Aye, but,’ saith Dinon, ‘these are the best,’ and ratifies the suffrages of the minority.

Question 43. Why is the city of the Ithacans called Alalcomenae?

Solution. It is affirmed by most, that it was because Anticlea in the time of her virginity was forcibly seized upon by Sisyphus, and brought forth Ulysses. But Ister the Alexandrian hath acquainted us in his memoirs, that Edition: current; Page: [286] Anticlea was married to Laertes, and being brought to a place about the Alalcomeneum in Boeotia, was delivered of Ulysses; and therefore Ulysses called the city of Ithaca by the same name, to renew the memory of the place in which he had been born.

Question 44. Who are the Monophagi in Aegina?

Solution. Many of the Aeginetans that fought against Troy were slain in those wars, but more of them by storm in the voyaging by sea. The relations therefore receiving those few that were left, and observing the other citizens overwhelmed with sorrow and grief, thought it not convenient to make any public appearances of joy or to sacrifice to the Gods; but every one entertained privately in his own house his relations that were escaped with feasts and entertainments, they themselves giving attendance to their fathers, kinsfolks, brethren, and acquaintance, none of other families being admitted thereto. Hence in imitation of these they celebrate a sacrifice to Neptune, which is called the Thiasi, in which they revel without any noise, each family apart by itself, for the space of sixteen days, without any servant attending them; then offering sacrifices to Venus, they finish this solemn feast. Upon this account they are called Monophagi, i.e. such as feed apart by themselves.

Question 45. What is the reason that the statue of Labradean Jupiter in Caria is made so as to hold an axe lifted up, and not a sceptre or thunderbolt.

Solution. Because Hercules slaying Hippolyta, and taking away from her amongst other weapons her pole-axe, presented it to Omphale. After Omphale the kings of the Lydians carried it, as part of the sacred regalities which they took by succession, until Candaules, disdaining it, gave it to one of his favorites to carry. But afterwards Gyges revolting waged war against him; Arselis also came to the aid of Gyges from the Mylassians with a great Edition: current; Page: [287] strength, slew Candaules with his favorite, and carried away the pole-axe into Caria with other spoils; where furbishing up the statue of Jupiter, he put the axe into his hand and called it the Labradean God, — for the Lydians call an axe labra.

Question 46. What is the reason that the Trallians call the pulse ὄϱοβος by the name ϰαθαϱτής (i.e. purifying), and use it especially in expiations and purifications.

Solution. Was it because the Leleges and Minyae, in former times driving out the Trallians, possessed themselves of the city and that country, and afterwards the Trallians returned and conquered them; and as many of the Leleges as were not slain or fled, but by reason of indigency and weakness were left there, they made no account of whether they lived or died, and therefore enacted a law that any Trallian that slew one of the Minyae or Leleges should be guiltless, provided only that he paid a measure of this pulse to the relatives of the slain person?

Question 47. Why is it spoken by way of proverb amongst the Eleans, “Thou sufferest worse things than Sambicus”?

Solution. It is said that one Sambicus an Elean, having many comrades with him, did break off many of the devoted bronze offerings placed in Olympia and disposed of them, and at length robbed the temple of Diana the Bishopess (which temple is in Elis, and is called Aristarchaeum. Presently after the committing of this sacrilege, he was taken and tormented the space of a year, being examined concerning all his accessories, and so died; hence this proverb arose from his suffering.

Question 48. Why is the temple of Ulysses in Lacedaemon built hard by the monument of the Leucippides?

Solution. One Ergiaeus, of the posterity of Diomedes, Edition: current; Page: [288] by the persuasion of Temenus stole the Palladium from Argos, Leager being conscious of and accessory to the felony, for he was one of the intimates of Temenus. Afterward Leager, by reason of a feud betwixt him and Temenus, went over into Lacedaemon and transported the Palladium thither. The kings receive him readily, and place the Palladium next to the temple of the Leucippides, and sending to Delphi consult the oracle about its safety and preservation. The oracle answered that they must make one of them that stole it the keeper of it. So they erected there the monument of Ulysses, especially since they supposed that hero was related to the city by the marriage of Penelope.

Question 49. What is the reason that it is a custom amongst the Chalcedonian women, that, if at any time they happen to meet with other women’s husbands, especially magistrates, they cover one cheek?

Solution. The Chalcedonians warred against the Bithynians, being provoked thereto by every kind of injury. And Zipoetus being king of the Bithynians, they brought out all their forces, with the addition of Thracian auxiliaries, and were wasting the country with fire and sword. Zipoetus then pitching his camp against them at a place called Phalium, the Chalcedonians, fighting ill through desperateness and disorder, lost about eight thousand soldiers, but were not all cut off, Zipoetus in favor of the Byzantines yielding to a cessation of arms. Now, there being a great scarcity of men in the city of Chalcedon, most of the women were necessitated to marry their freedmen and aliens; others that chose widowhood rather than marriage to such, if they had any occasion to go before judges or magistrates, managed their own affairs, only withdrawing their veil from one side of their face. Then the married women, imitating these as their betters, for modesty’s sake took up the same custom.

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Question 50. Why do the Argives bring their sheep to the grove of Agenor to take ram?

Solution. Was it because Agenor took care to have the fairest sheep, and of all kings possessed the most flocks of sheep?

Question 51. Why did the Argive boys on a certain feast-day call themselves Ballacrades in sport?

Solution. Was it because they report that the first people that were brought by Inachus out of the countries into the plains, lived upon ἀχϱάδες, i.e. wild pears? But wild pears were first discovered by the Grecians in Peloponnesus, while that country was called Apia, whence wild pears came afterwards to be called ἄπιοι.

Question 52. For what reason do the men of Elis lead their mares out of their borders when they would have them leaped by their horses?

Solution. Was it that of all kings Oenomaus was the greatest lover of horses, and being most fond of this creature, imprecated many and great curses upon horses that should leap mares in Elis; wherefore the people, fearing his curse, do abominate this thing?

Question 53. What was the reason of the custom amongst the Gnossians, that those who borrowed money upon usury should snatch it and run away?

Solution. Was it that, in case they should attempt to defraud the usurers, they might be liable for the violence, and thereby receive further punishment?

Question 54. What is the cause that in Samos they call upon Venus of Dexicreon?

Solution. Was this the reason, that the women of Samos, by lasciviousness and bawdry falling into great debauchery, were reformed by Dexicreon, a mountebank, using some charms towards them? Or was it because Dexicreon, being the master of a ship, and sailing to Cyprus on a trading voyage, and being about to take in Edition: current; Page: [290] his lading, was commanded by Venus to lade with water and nothing else, and sail back with all possible speed? Being persuaded hereto, he took in much water and set sail immediately; still winds and a calm detaining him, he sold his water to merchants and seamen distressed with thirst, whereby he gathered up much money; from which he erected a statue to Venus, and called it by his own name. If this story be true, it is manifest that the Goddess intended not only the enriching of one man, but the saving of many alive by one man.

Question 55. What is the reason that amongst the Samians, when they sacrifice to Mercury the munificent, they suffer a man to filch and steal garments if he will?

Solution. Because, when at the command of the oracle they transplanted themselves from that island into Mycale, they lived ten years upon robbery; and after this, sailing back again into their island, they conquered their enemies.

Question 56. Whence is that place in the island Samos called Panaema (Πάναιμα)?

Solution. Was it because the Amazons, flying before Bacchus from the coasts of Ephesus, fell upon Samos, and thereupon Bacchus rigging up his ships wafted over, and joining battle slew abundance of them about that place, which, by reason of the plenty of blood spilled there, the beholders by way of admiration called Panaema? Some say that this slaughter was about Phloeum, and show their bones there; but others say also that Phloeum was rent off from Samos by the dreadful and hideous cry that was uttered at their death.

Question 57. Upon what account was the Andron in Samos called Pedetes?

Solution. The Geomori got the government into their hands, after Demoteles was slain, and after the dissolution of his monarchial constitution. At this time the Megarians waged war with the Perinthians, being a Samian colony, Edition: current; Page: [291] and brought fetters with them (as they say) to put on the captives. When the Geomori were acquainted with these proceedings, they immediately sent aid, sending forth nine commanders and manning thirty ships, two of which, launching forth and lying before the haven, were destroyed with lightning. The commanders, proceeding on their voyage in the rest, subdued the Megarians, and took six hundred of them alive. They were so elevated with this victory, that they meditated the subversion of this Geomoran oligarchy; but the occasion was given by the states themselves writing to them that they should bring the Megarian captives bound in their own fetters. When they received these letters, they showed them privately to the Megarians, persuading them to concur with them in a conspiracy to procure the people’s liberty. A consult was held in common between them about this matter, and they decided that the best way was to beat off the rings from the fetters, and put them on the legs of the Megarians, and fasten them with thongs to their girdles, that they might not fall off nor being loose hinder them in their going. Accordingly they accoutred the men in this manner, and giving each of them a scimitar, they soon sailed back to Samos and landed, and accordingly led the Megarians through the market-place to the council-house, where all the Geomori were sitting together. Then, the sign being given, the Megarians fell on and slew those men. Whereupon, the city being set at liberty, they admitted the Megarians (as many as would) into the number of citizens, and erecting a magnificent edifice, hung up the fetters (πέδαι) in it. From this the house was named Πεδήτης.

Question 58. What is the reason that the chief priest of Hercules in Antimachia at Cos, when he manageth the sacrifice, is clothed in women’s apparel, and wears a mitre upon his head?

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Solution. Hercules, setting sail from Troy with six ships, was attacked by a storm, and lost all his ships but one, with which only he was forced by the wind upon the coast of Cos, and fell upon a place called Laceter, saving nothing besides his men and armor. There happening to meet with a flock of sheep, he requested one ram of the shepherd (the man was called Antagoras), who, being a robust-bodied young man, challenged Hercules to fight with him; and if he were worsted, Hercules should carry away the ram. As soon as this fellow engaged with Hercules, the Meropes came in to the aid of Antagoras; and the Grecians coming in to assist Hercules, a great fight ensued. Whereat (they say) Hercules, overpowered by the multitude, betook himself for refuge to a Thracian woman, and was concealed by disguising himself in woman’s apparel. But when afterwards, conquering the Meropes and passing under purification, he married the daughter of Alciopus, he put on a flowery robe. Hence the priests offer sacrifices in the place where the battle was fought, and the bridegrooms are clothed in women’s apparel when they receive their brides.

Question 59. Whence was the race of Hamaxocylists in Megara?

Solution. In that licentious democracy under which the demanding back of interest money paid to usurers* was introduced and sacrilege was permitted, the Peloponnesians went on a pilgrimage to Delphi through the borders of Megara, and lodged in Aegira by the lake-side with their wives and children, in their caravans, as they best could. There a resolute drunken company of the Megarians in a riotous and cruel manner overturned their wagons, and overwhelmed them in the lake; so that many of the pilgrims were drowned. The Megarians indeed, by reason of the disorder of the government, neglected the Edition: current; Page: [293] punishment of this wickedness; but the Amphictyons, taking into consideration the sanctity of this pilgrimage, punished the actors of this villany, some with banishment, some with death. Hence the posterity of these villains were called Ἁμαξοϰυλισταί, i.e. overturners of wagons.

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ModernGreek: 1. Hippomachus, a master of the exercises, when some were commending a tall man that had long hands as one that promised fair to be good at fisticuffs, replied, A fit man indeed, if the victor’s laurel were to be hanged up aloft, and should be his that could best reach it and take it down. We may say the same to those that esteem so extravagantly and repute it so great a felicity to possess fair fields, stately mansion-houses, and a great deal of money lying by them, — that they were in the right, if happiness were to be bought and sold. You may see indeed many persons that choose rather to be rich and at the same time very miserable, than to part with their money and become happy. But, alas! indolency and repose of spirit, magnanimity, constancy, resolution, and contentment of mind, — these are not a money-purchase. Being wealthy is not despising wealth; nor is possessing things superfluous the same as not needing things superfluous.

ModernGreek: 2. From what other evils then can riches free us, if they deliver us not even from an inordinate desire of them? It is true, indeed, that by drinking men allay their thirst after drink, and by eating they satisfy their longings after food; and he that said,

  • Bestow a coat, of your good will,
  • On poor Hipponax cold and chill

if more clothes had been heaped on than he needed, would have thrown them off, as being ill at ease. But the Edition: current; Page: [295] love of money is not abated by having silver and gold; neither do covetous desires cease by possessing still more But one may say to wealth, as to an insolent quack,

Thy physic’s nought, and makes my illness worse.

When this distemper seizes a man that wants only bread and a house to put his head in, ordinary raiment and such victuals as come first to hand, it fills him with eager desires after gold and silver, ivory and emeralds, hounds and horses; thus taking off the appetite, and carrying it from things that are necessary after things that are troublesome and unusual, hard to come by, and unprofitable when obtained. For no man is poor as to what nature requires and what suffices it; no man takes up money on use to buy meal or cheese, bread or olives; but you may see one man run into debt for the purchase of a sumptuous house, another for an adjoining olive-yard, another for corn-fields or vineyards, another for Galatian mules, and another by a vain expense,

  • For horses fitly paired, with prancing feet
  • To draw the empty chariots through the street,*

has been plunged over head and ears into contracts and use-money, pawns and mortgages. Moreover, as they that use to drink after they have quenched their thirst, and to eat after their hunger is satisfied, vomit up even what they took when they were athirst or hungry; so they that covet things useless and superfluous, enjoy not even those that are necessary. This is the character of these men.

ModernGreek: 3. As for those that spend nothing although they possess much, and yet are always craving more, they may still more increase our wonder at their folly, especially when one calls to mind that of Aristippus, who was wont to say, that when a man eats and drinks liberally and yet is never the nearer Edition: current; Page: [296] being filled, he presently goes to the physician and enquires what is his disease and his indisposition and how he may get rid of it; but if one that has five beds desires ten, and having ten tables is for purchasing as many more, and having land and money in good store is not at all filled, but still is bent, even breaking his natural rest, upon getting more, and when he has never so much never has enough, this man thinks he has no need of a physician to cure him and to show him from what cause his distemper arises. Indeed, when a man is athirst that hath not drunk at all, we expect that upon his drinking his thirstiness should cease; but as for him that drinks and drinks and so goes on without giving over, we do not think such a one needs further repletion, but evacuation; and we advise him by all means to vomit, as knowing that his trouble proceeds not from the want of any thing, but from some sharp humor or preternatural heat that is within him.

Among those persons, therefore, that are for increasing their substance and getting more, he that is poor and indigent may perhaps give over his cares when he has got a house or found a treasure, or, by a friend’s help, has paid his debts and his creditors have discharged him. But as for him that, having more than enough, yet still desires to have more, it is not gold nor silver, not horses, sheep, or oxen, that can cure him of this disease, but he needs evacuation and purgation. For his distemper is not penury and want, but an insatiable desire and thirst after riches, proceeding from a depraved and inconsiderate judgment of things, which if it be not plucked out of men’s minds, like a thing twisting across and contracting them, they will always be in want of superfluities, that is, be craving things they have no need of.

ModernGreek: 4. When a physician visits a patient that has thrown himself upon his bed and lies there groaning and refusing to eat, he feels his pulse and asks him some questions; Edition: current; Page: [297] and finding that he is not at all feverish, he tells him it is his mind that is distempered, and goes his way. When we see therefore a man pining away for more means and sighing sadly at any expenses, forbearing no sordid or painful course that brings him gain, when yet he hath houses and lands, herds and slaves, and clothes enough, what shall we call this man’s disease but poverty of mind? For as for want of money, one friend, as Menander says, by being a benefactor to him can cure it; but as to this other of the mind, all a man’s friends, living or dead, cannot satisfy it. It was therefore a good saying of Solon concerning such persons:

  • Those men that after wealth aspire
  • Set no fixed bounds to their desire.

To those indeed that are wise, the riches that Nature requires are limited, and confined within the compass of their real needs, as within a circle drawn from a centre at a certain distance.

There is also this particular mischief in the love of wealth, that this desire hinders and opposes its own satisfaction, which other desires do procure. For no man abstains from a good morsel because he loves dainties, nor from wine because he thirsts after wine, as these men abstain from using money because they love money. Does it not look like madness and a piteous distemper, for a man not to make use of a garment because he shakes with cold, to refuse to eat bread because he is ready to famish with hunger, and not to use wealth because he is greedy of getting it? This is the evil case that Thrasonides describes: “I have such a thing within by me, I have it in my power, and I will this thing (like those that are madly in love), but I do it not. When I have locked and sealed up all, or have told out so much to the usurers and tradesmen, I scrape together and hunt after more; I quarrel Edition: current; Page: [298] and contend with the servants, the ploughmen and debtors. O Apollo, hast thou ever seen a more wretched man, or any lover more miserable?”

ModernGreek: 5. Sophocles being asked by one whether he was able yet to company with a woman; Heavens defend, said he, I have got my liberty, and by means of my old age have escaped those mad and furious masters. For it is very fit and becoming that, when our pleasures leave us, those desires should do so too, which, as Alcaeus says,

  • ’Twas never any man’s good hap
  • Nor woman’s wholly to escape.

But it is otherwise in the love of wealth, which, like a hard and severe mistress, compels us to get what it forbids us to enjoy, and excites an appetite but denies the pleasure of its gratification. Stratonicus wittily abused the Rhodians for their profuseness, when he said that they builded their houses as if they were immortal, but provided for their tables as if they were to live but a little while. So covetous men seem to be profuse by what they possess, when they are sordid wretches if you consider what they use and enjoy; for they endure labor, but taste no pleasure.

Demades once came to Phocion’s house and surprised him as he was at dinner; and when he saw his frugal and slender diet, I much wonder, Phocion, says he, that you should manage state affairs, and can dine as you do. For this orator himself pleaded causes and harangued the people only for his gut; and looking upon Athens as affording too little a supply for his luxury, he fetched his provisions from Macedonia. For which cause Antipater, seeing him when he was an old man, compared him to a sacrifice when all was over and there remained nothing of the beast but only the tongue and the stomach. But who would not wonder at thee, O wretched man, who, being able to live as thou dost, — so sordidly, so unlike a man, Edition: current; Page: [299] bestowing nothing on anybody, being currish to thy friends, and without any ambition to serve the public, — yet afflictest thyself and watchest whole nights, hirest out thy labors, liest at catch for inheritances, crouchest to every one, when thou art so well provided by thy sordid parsimony to live at ease?

It is reported of a certain Byzantine, that, surprising a whoremaster with his wife that was very hard-favored, he cried out, O wretch, what compelled thee to do this? — for her dowry is my solace. It is necessary for kings, for procurators under them, for those that covet pre-eminence and rule over cities, that they should heap up treasure; they are forced through ambition, pride, and vain-glory to make feasts, to gratify friends, to maintain a retinue, to send presents, to feed armies, to purchase gladiators. But thou hast so much business lying upon thy hand, tormentest thyself, tumblest up and down, and all this while livest the life of a snail in thy shell through parsimony, and endurest all hardships, receiving no advantage at all; just like the bath-keeper’s ass, that carries the wood and fuel for the fires and is always filled with the smoke and ashes of the stove, but itself is neither bathed nor warmed, washed nor cleansed there.

ModernGreek: 6. I have said enough of this sort of covetousness, which makes a man live the life of an ass or ant. But there is another sort of it which is more savage, that calumniates and gets inheritance by bad arts, that pries into other men’s affairs, that is full of thoughtfulness and cares, counting how many of their friends are yet alive, and after all enjoying nothing of what by all these arts has been heaped up.

As therefore we have a greater aversion and hatred against vipers, poisonous flies, and spiders than against bears and lions, because they kill and destroy men, but serve themselves no farther of their carcasses, which they Edition: current; Page: [300] do not feed upon as those other wild beasts do; so they that become bad and ill men through sordidness and parsimony deserve more of our abhorrence than those that prove such by luxurious living and excess, for they deprive others of what they are neither able nor inclined to make use of themselves. Hence it is that the luxurious, when they are rich and well provided, give some truce to their debaucheries; as Demosthenes said to some that were of opinion that Demades ceased to be an ill man. Now, says he, you see him full and glutted, like lions, that then hunt not after prey. But as for the others, who in the management of affairs propose no end to themselves either of pleasure or profit, their covetous desires have no truce or cessation, they being always empty and standing in need of all things.

ModernGreek: 7. But some perhaps may plead on their behalf, that these men keep and hoard up their wealth for their children and heirs, — to whom they part with nothing whilst they are alive; but, like those mice that live in mines and pick up and eat the golden sands and ore, you cannot come by any of that gold, till you anatomize them to find it after they are dead. But to what end, I pray, would they leave such a deal of money and a great estate to their children and heirs? That they forsooth may preserve it also for others, and those others in like manner shall hand it down to their children (just like those earthen pipes the potters make for a water-course, which retain none of the water themselves, but one pipe only conveys it to the next), till some informing false accuser or tyrant appears and cuts off this keeper in trust, and when his breath is stopped, derives and diverts the course of his wealth into another channel; or, as they say, till some one that is the most wicked of the race devours and consumes all that those who went before him had preserved. For not only, as Euripides says,

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  • Children from slaves derived and baser blood
  • Prove prodigal and lewd, none come to good;

but it is as true of the children of the parsimonious; as Diogenes wittily abused this sort of men, when he said that it was better to be a certain Megarian’s ram than his son. For, under the pretence of training them up and instructing them, they undo and pervert them, implanting in them their own love of money and meanness of spirit, and erecting as it were a fortress for the securing their inheritance in the minds of their heirs.

For the instructions and lessons they give them are such as these: Gain as much and spend as little as may be; value yourself according to what you are worth. But certainly this is not to instruct, but to contract and sew them up, just like a purse, the better to conceal and keep what is put into it. The purse indeed becomes foul and musty after money is put up in it; but the children of the covetous, before they are enriched by their parents, are replenished with covetous desires which they derive from them. And indeed they pay them a deserved reward for their instructions, not loving them because they shall receive a great estate from them, but hating them because they have it not so soon as they fain would. For being taught to admire nothing but wealth, nor knowing any other end of living but to get a great estate, they account the life of their parents to be a hindrance to that of their own, and fancy so much time is taken from their own age as is added to theirs. Wherefore, whilst their parents are yet living, they secretly always steal their pleasures; and what they bestow upon their friends or spend upon their lusts, and even what they give to their teachers, is fetched as it were from another’s estate, not from their own.

But when their parents are dead and they are once possessed of their keys and seals, then their way of living is of another fashion, and they put on another face and Edition: current; Page: [302] aspect, grave, severe, and morose. You hear no more of their former pastimes, nor of exercises with the ball and in wrestling, nor of the Academy or the Lyceum; but they are wholly taken up in examining the servants, looking over writings, in debating matters with those that receive or owe them money. Their hurry of business and thoughtfulness will not give them leave to dine, and they are forced to make the night their time of bathing; the gymnastic schools in which they were educated and the water of Dirce are neglected. If any man ask him, Will you not go and hear the philosopher? How can I, says he, now that my father is dead? I am not at leisure. O miserable wretch! What has thy father left thee to be compared with what he has taken from thee, thy leisure and thy liberty? And yet it is not so much he that hath done it, as the wealth that flows round thee and overpowers thee, which, like the women Hesiod speaks of,

  • Thee without firebrands burns, and unawares
  • Resigns thee up to dotage and gray hairs,*

bringing on thy soul those cares — like untimely wrinkles and old age — that spring from covetous desires and multiplicity of business, that shrivel up all thy vigor and gayety, all sense of honor, all kindness and humanity within thee.

ModernGreek: 8. But some will say, Do you not see rich men live splendidly and spend high? To whom we answer: Dost thou not hear what Aristotle says, that some there are that do not use wealth, and some that abuse it? For neither sort do what is fit and becoming; but what the one sort possess does neither advantage nor adorn them, and what the other sort have does both hurt and dishonor them.

But let us further consider, What is the use of riches, for which men so much admire them? Is it the enjoyment of what suffices nature? Alas! in this respect the Edition: current; Page: [303] wealthy have no advantage of those that are of a meaner fortune; but wealth (as Theophrastus says) is really no wealth and need not be coveted, if Callias, the richest man of Athens, and Ismenias, the wealthiest of Thebes, made use but of the same things that Socrates and Epaminondas did. For as Agathon sent away the music from the room where he feasted to the women’s apartment, contenting himself with the discourses of his guests, so you would reject and send away the purple beds and the high prized tables and all other superfluous things, should you see that the rich make use of the same things with the poor.

I do not mean thou shouldst presently

  • Hang up the rudder in the smoke at ease,
  • And let the mules’ and oxen’s labor cease;*

but much rather the impertinent labor of goldsmiths, turners, perfumers, and cooks, when thou resolvest wisely and soberly to banish all useless things.

But if the things that suffice nature lie in common among those that have and those that want riches, — if rich men pride themselves only in things superfluous, and thou art ready to praise Scopas of Thessaly, who, when one begged somewhat of him he had in his house, as a superfluous thing he had no use for, made answer, “But we rich men count our felicity and happiness to lie in these superfluities, and not in those necessary things,” — if your case be thus, have a care you do not seem like one that magnifies and prefers a pomp and public show at a festival before life itself.

Our country’s feast of Bacchus was in old time celebrated in a more homely manner, though with great mirth and jollity. One carried in procession a vessel of wine and a branch of a vine, afterwards followed one leading a goat, another followed him bearing a basket of dried figs, and after all came a phallus. But all these are now despised Edition: current; Page: [304] and out of date, the procession being made with golden vessels and costly garments, driving of chariots and persons in masquerade. And just thus the things that are necessary and useful in riches are swallowed up by those that are unprofitable and superfluous.

ModernGreek: 9. The most of us commit the mistake of Telemachus. For he through inexperience, or rather want of good taste, when he saw Nestor’s house furnished with beds and tables, garments and carpets, and well stored with sweet and pleasant wine, did not look upon him as so happy a man in being thus well provided with things necessary and useful; but when he beheld the ivory, gold, and amber in Menelaus’s house, he cried out in amazement: —

  • Such, and not nobler, in the realms above,
  • My wonder dictates is the dome of Jove.*

Whereas Socrates or Diogenes would have said rather: —

  • What vain, vexatious, useless things I’ve seen,
  • And good for nothing but to move one’s spleen.

Thou fool, what is it thou sayest? When thou oughtest to have stripped thy wife of her purple and gaudy attire, that she might cease to live luxuriously and to run mad after strangers and their fashions, instead of this, dost thou adorn and beautify thy house, that it may appear like a theatre or a stage to all comers?

ModernGreek: 10. The happiness riches pretend to is such that it depends upon spectators and witnesses; else it would signify nothing at all. But it is quite otherwise when we consider temperance or philosophy, or such knowledge of the Gods as is requisite. For these, though unknown to all other mortals, communicate a peculiar light and great splendor within the soul, and cause a joy that dwells with it as an inmate, whilst it enjoys the chiefest good, though neither Gods nor men may be privy to it. Such a thing is truth, virtue, or the beauty of geometrical and astrological sciences; Edition: current; Page: [305] and do riches, with their bravery and necklaces and all that gaudery that pleases girls, deserve to be compared with any of these? When nobody observes and looks on, riches are truly blind and deprived of light. For if a rich man makes a meal with his wife or familiars alone, he makes no stir about magnificent tables to eat on or golden cups to drink in, but uses those that come next to hand; and his wife, without any gold or purple to adorn her, presents herself in a plain dress. But when he makes a feast, — that is, when the pomp and theatre is to be fitted and prepared, and the scene of riches is to enter, —

  • Then from the ships, with costly goods full fraught,
  • The trevets and the caldrons straight are brought;*

then they provide lamps, and much ado is made about the drinking-cups, they put the cup-bearers into a new dress, they bring forth whatever is made of gold and silver or set with precious stones, thus plainly declaring that they would be looked upon by all for rich men. But even though he should eat his meal alone, he wants hilarity of mind and that contentment which alone makes a feast.

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ModernGreek: 1. He that talks big and arrogantly of himself, Herculanus, is universally condemned as a troublesome and illbred companion. But the most, even of those who in words mightily declaim against him, seem to applaud him in their actions. Euripides could say,

  • If speech grew scarce, and at great rates were sold,
  • Commend himself what lavish fellow would?
  • But since the infinite treasure of the air
  • Praise gratis yields, none truth or falsehood spare;
  • Suffering no damage, though they give their ware.

Yet he often brings in his heroes intolerably boasting, and stuffs their most tragical adventures and passions with improper discourses of themselves. So Pindar declares,

  • Unseasonably to glory
  • Makes harmony with fury;*

but he forbears not to extol his own raptures, which indeed, by the confession of all men, are worthy of the noblest praise.

But those who are crowned for mastery in the games or in the learned combats have others to celebrate their victories, that the people’s ears be not grated with the harsh noises of self-applause. And Timotheus is justly censured as unskilfully and irregularly setting forth his conquest of Edition: current; Page: [307] Phrynis, when he thus proudly boasted it in writing: Happy man wast thou, Timotheus, when the crier proclaimed, ‘The Milesian Timotheus hath vanquished the son of Carbo, the soft Ionian poet.’

It is true then, as Xenophon says, The most pleasant sound that a man can hear is his own praise in another’s mouth; but the most odious thing unto others is a man commending himself. For we brand them as impudent who commend themselves, it becoming them to be modest though they were praised by others; and we account them unjust in arrogating that to themselves which another has the sole propriety of bestowing on them. Besides, if we then are silent, we seem either angry or envious; but if we second their discourse, we are presently entangled and forced to contribute more than we intended, speaking to men’s faces what sounds well only behind their backs; and so we undertake rather the base work of drudging flattery than any real offices of true honor.

ModernGreek: 2. Yet, however, there is a time when a statesman may be the subject of his own discourse, and give a free relation of things he has worthily done or said, as well as other truths; taking care that it be not merely for favor or reputation, but upon some emergent occasion, and especially, when the deeds achieved by him or the parts that be in him be good and honest, then he is not to forbear and say merely that he hath done so or else much like. There is indeed a praise of this kind which bears very excellent and lovely fruit, from whose seeds arise many of the same species very much meliorated and improved. And therefore it is that the wise statesman seeks glory not as the reward or solace of his virtue, nor embraces it merely as the companion of his achievements, but because the being accounted an honorable person and gallant man affords a thousand opportunities of compassing many and more desirable things. For it is easy and delightful to be of use Edition: current; Page: [308] to those who are apt to believe and love us; whereas, if a man lie under calumnies and suspicions, he cannot exert his virtue to the benefit of others without committing a kind of violence upon them.

There may also be more reasons than these, which we must enquire into, that, while we endeavor to avert a frivolous and nauseous applauding of ourselves, we chance not to omit that sort which may be truly useful.

ModernGreek: 3. The praise therefore is vain which a man heaps on himself to provoke others also to praise him, and is chiefly contemptible, as proceeding from an importunate and unseasonable affectation of esteem.

For as they who are ready to die for food are compelled against nature to gnaw off their own flesh, and thus put a miserable end to their famine; so they who mortally hunger after praise, unless some one afford them a little scantling alms of commendation, do violate the laws of decency, shamelessly endeavoring to supply those wants by an unnatural extolling of themselves.

But when they do not on the bare consideration of themselves hunt applause, but strive to obscure the worth of others, by fighting against their praises and opposing their own works and practices to theirs, they add to their vanity an envious and abhorred baseness. He who thrusts his foot into another’s dance is stigmatized with a proverb as a ridiculous and pragmatical clown; but upon envy and jealousy to thrust ourselves between the praises of others, or to interrupt the same with our own self praise, is a thing that we ought equally to beware of. Neither should we allow others to praise us at such a time, but frankly yield the honor to those who are then celebrated, if their merit be real; and though the persons be vicious or unworthy, yet must we not take from them by setting up ourselves; but rather on the other hand we must reprove the unskilful applauders, and demonstrate their encomiums to be Edition: current; Page: [309] improperly and dangerously conferred. It is plain that these errors must be avoided.

ModernGreek: 4. But self-praise is not liable to disgrace or blame when it is delicately handled by way of apology to remove a calumny or accusation. Thus Pericles: But ye are angry at me, a man inferior to none, whether it be in the understanding or interpreting of necessary things; a man who am a lover of my country, and above the meannesses of bribes. For, in speaking with this gallantry of himself, he was not only free from arrogance, vanity, and ambition, but he demonstrated the greatness and spirit of that virtue which could not be dejected itself, and even humbled and tamed the haughtiness of envy. Such men as these will hardly be condemned; but those who would vote against them are won over to their cause, do receive infinite satisfaction, and are agreeably inspirited with this noble boasting, especially if that bravery be steady, and the ground firm on which it stands. This history does frequently discover. For, when the Theban generals accused Pelopidas and Epaminondas that, the time for their office as Boeotarchs being expired, they did not forthwith give up their power, but made an incursion into Laconia and repaired and repeopled Messene, Pelopidas, submitting himself and making many lowly entreaties, very hardly obtained his absolution; but Epaminondas loftily glorying in those actions, and at last declaring he would willingly be put to death so that they would set up his accusation, “Epaminondas hath wasted Laconia, hath settled Messene, and happily united Arcadia into one state, against our will,” they admired him, and the citizens, wondering at the cheerful greatness of his courage, dismissed him with unspeakable pleasantness and satisfaction.

Therefore, when Agamemnon thus reproached Diomedes,

  • O son of Tydeus! — he whose strength could tame
  • The bounding steeds, in arms a mighty name, —
  • Edition: current; Page: [310]
  • Canst thou remote the mingling hosts descry,
  • With han is inactive and a careless eye?

Sthenelus is not to be much condemned for saying,

Ourselves much greater than our ancestors We boast;*

for Sthenelus had not been calumniated himself, but he only patronized his abused friend; and so the cause excused that freedom of speech, which seemed otherwise to have something of the glorioso.

But Cicero’s magnifying his diligence and prudence in Catiline’s trial was not very pleasing to the Romans; yet when Scipio said, they ought not to judge Scipio, who had enstated them in the power of judging all men, they as cended crowned to the Capitol, and sacrificed with him. For Cicero was not necessitated to this, but merely spurred by the desire of glory; while the danger wherein Scipio stood delivered him from envy.

ModernGreek: 5. Now talking after an high and glorious manner proves advantageous, not only to persons in danger of the law or such like eminent distress, but to those also who are clouded in a dull series of misfortunes; and that more properly than when they appear splendid in the world. For what addition can words make to those who already seem possessed of real glory, and do lie indulging and basking in her beams? But those who at present are incapable of ambition, if they express themselves loftily, seem only to bear up against the storms of Fortune, to undergird the greatness of their souls, and to shun that pity and commiseration which supposes a shipwrecked and forlorn condition. As therefore those who in walking affect a stiffness of body and a stretched-out neck are accounted effeminate and foppish, but are commended if in fencing and fighting they keep themselves erect and steady; so the man grappling with ill fortune, if he raise himself to resist her,

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Like some stout boxer, ready with his blow,*

and by a bravery of speech transform himself from abject and miserable to bold and noble, is not to be censured as obstinate and audacious, but honored as invincible and great. So, although Homer described Patroclus in the happinesses of his life as smooth and without envy, yet in death he makes him have something of the bravo, and a soldier’s gallant roughness:

  • Had twenty mortals, each thy match in might,
  • Opposed me fairly, they had sunk in fight.

So Phocion, though otherwise very mild, after the sentence passed on him, showed the greatness of his mind in many respects; particularly to one of his fellow-sufferers, who miserably cried out and bewailed his misfortune, What, says he, is it not a pleasure to thee to die with Phocion?

ModernGreek: 6. Further, a man of state has not less but greater liberty to speak any thing of himself when his merits are rewarded with injurious and unkind returns. Achilles usually gave the Gods their glory, and spoke modestly in this manner:

  • Whene’er, by Jove’s decree, our conquering powers
  • Shall humble to the dust Troy’s lofty towers.

But when he was unhandsomely reproached and aspersed with contumelies, he added swelling words to his anger, and these in his own applause:

I sacked twelve ample cities on the main;

and also these:

  • It was not thus, when, at my sight amazed,
  • Troy saw and trembled, as this helmet blazed.

For apologies claim a great liberty of speech and boasting, as considerable parts of their defence.

Themistocles also, having been guilty of nothing distasteful Edition: current; Page: [312] either in his words or actions, yet perceiving the Athenians glutted with him and beginning to neglect him, forbore not to say: Why, O ye happy people, do ye weary out yourselves by still receiving benefits from the same hands? Upon every storm you fly to the same tree for shelter; yet, when it is fair again, you despoil it of its leaves as you go away.

ModernGreek: 7. They therefore who are injured usually recount their good actions to the ingrate. And, if they also praise those excellences which others are pleased to condemn, they are not only pardonable but altogether without blame. For it is evident they do not reproach others, but apologize for themselves.

This gave Demosthenes a glorious freedom, yet allayed the offensive brightness of his own praises, which almost everywhere shine through his whole Oration on the Crown, in which he extols those embassies and decrees which were so much objected against him.

ModernGreek: 8. Not much unlike this is the insinuating delicacy of an antithesis, when a person, being accused for any thing as a crime, demonstrates its opposite to be base and vicious. So Lycurgus, being upbraided by the Athenians for stopping a sycophant’s mouth with money, said: And what kind of citizen do you then take me to be, who, having so long managed the affairs of the republic amongst you, am at last found rather to have given than to have received money unjustly? And Cicero, Metellus objecting he had cast more by his evidence against them than ever he had acquitted by his pleading for them, replies: Who therefore will not freely declare that Cicero has more honesty and faith than eloquence? Many expressions of this nature are in Demosthenes; particularly, But who might not justly have slain me, if I had endeavored in word only to sully the honors and glorious titles which the city hath? Or, What, think you, would those vile fellows have said, if, Edition: current; Page: [313] whilst I had been curiously poring on other things, the cities had rejected our alliance?* And all his forementioned oration ingeniously dresses these antitheses and solutions of cases with the subtle ornaments of his own praise.

ModernGreek: 9. But this may very profitably be learned therein, that, delicately tempering the encomiums of his auditors with the things relating to himself, he secures himself from being liable to envy, nor becomes suspected of self-love. There he relates in what manner the Athenians behaved themselves to the Euboeans, in what manner to the Thebans, and what benefits they conferred upon those of Byzantium and Chersonesus; in all which he confesses his part was only that of their minister or steward. Thus by a rhetorical deceit, he finely and insensibly instils his own praises into his hearers, who pleasingly hang upon his words, and rejoice at the commemoration of those worthy deeds. Now this joy is immediately seconded by admiration, and admiration is succeeded by a liking and love of that person who so wisely administered the affairs. This Epaminondas seems to have considered, when reviled by Meneclidas, as though he had an higher opinion of himself than ever Agamemnon had. If it be so, says he, Thebans, ’tis you have puffed me up; you, by whose help alone I overthrew the Lacedaemonian empire in one day.

ModernGreek: 10. But since for the most part men are exceedingly displeased with those who are the trumpeters of their own fame, but if they sound forth another’s, are delighted and give them cheerful acclamations; it is hence grown a frequent custom amongst orators, by a seasonable extolling those who have like purposes, actions, and manner of life with theirs, to assure and wheedle over the auditory to themselves. For the hearers know that, though the panegyrist solemnizes another’s worth, he has yet the same endowments of virtue, so that his encomiums will redound Edition: current; Page: [314] to himself. For as he who reproaches any man for faults of which he himself is guilty cannot but perceive he principally upbraids himself, so the virtuous, by giving applauses to the virtuous, offer their own praises to the apprehensive, who will presently cry out, And are not you one of these? Therefore Alexander honoring Hercules, and Androcottus again honoring Alexander, in effect proposed themselves to be in like manner honored by others. So Dionysius scoffing Gelon, and calling him the Gelos (or laughing-stock) of Sicily, was not aware that through envy he had happened to infringe the greatness of his own authority and power.

ModernGreek: 11. These things the man of state must know and observe. Now those who are forced upon their own praises are the more excusable, if they arrogate not the causes wholly to themselves, but ascribe them in part to Fortune and in part to God. Achilles therefore said:

  • Since now at length the powerful will of heaven
  • The dire destroyer to our arm has given.*

And Timoleon did well, who erected a fane to Fortune, and dedicated his house to the Good Genius, to whom he referred the felicity of his attempts. But best of all, Python of Aenos, after he had slain Cotys, coming to Athens and perceiving the orators very busy in applauding him to the people, which displeased many and stirred them up to envy, thus speaks: These things, ye Athenians, some of the Gods have done; our hands were only the instruments of their work. Sylla also prevented envy by perpetually praising Fortune, not his own prowess; and at last surnamed himself Epaphroditus, in acknowledgment that his success proceeded from the care of Venus. For men will more readily impute a defeat to chance or the pleasure of some God than to the virtue of the conqueror; for the one they think to be a good not pertinent to the conqueror, but Edition: current; Page: [315] the other to be a proper defect of their own, which proceedeth from themselves. The laws therefore of Zaleucus were reeeived by the Locrians with the more willingness and delight, because he had told them Minerva constantly appeared to him and dictated and instructed him in those laws, and that they were none of them his own inventions.

ModernGreek: 12. This kind of excuses may be framed as convenient remedies or preventions when we have to do with persons of a difficult or envious humor. But it is not amiss to use some little revocations or corrections of what may seem spoken to our praise, before those who are of a sedate and composed temper. If any commend us as those who have learning, riches, or authority, we should hinder them from choosing such topics, and rather desire of them, if they can, to take notice of us as innocent, good, and useful. Thus we do not so much confer as transfer praises, and seem not to be puffed up with our applauders, but rather to be offended that they have not praised conveniently and for truly meritorious things. We hide also inferior with better qualifications; yet not as desiring to be commended, but as teaching to commend aright. Such forms as these may be referred hither: It is true, I have not walled the city with stones or brick; but if you will view my fortifications, you shall find armor, and horses, and confederates.* But more apt is that of Pericles. When his friends bewailed him in the extremities of death, they put him in mind of his authority and the great offices he had discharged, as also what victories, trophies, and cities he had left the Athenians; but he, raising himself a little, reproved them as fixing only upon common encomiums, and enlarging rather on those of fortune than on those of virtue, whereas they neglected the greatest matter, which was more peculiar to himself, — that he had never been the occasion of any Athenian’s wearing black. And hence Edition: current; Page: [316] the orator may learn, if he be a good man, to transfer the eulogiums of his eloquence to his virtuous life and manners; and the commander who is admired and applauded for his conduct and happy fortune in the wars may freely propose his clemency or justice as more worthy to be praised. Nay, further, it becomes even an emperor, upon a profusion of such glutting praises as flatterers are commonly guilty of, to say something of this nature:

  • No God am I. Why do ye equal me
  • Thus to th’ immortal powers.*

If you know me well, let my justice or temperance, my equanimity or humanity, be rather spoken of. For even envy herself can easily concede the lesser honors to him who refuses the greater; nor will it rob any of true encomiums, not to expect false and vain ones. Therefore several princes, who permitted not themselves to be called Gods or the offspring of the Gods, have yet assumed the titles Philadelphus, Philometor, Evergetes, or Theophilus; and were never offended when they were honored with those glorious yet human appellations.

Again, they who in their writings and sayings are absolute votaries to wisdom by no means will be called σοφοί (or wise men), but can presently swallow the epithet of philosophers (or lovers of wisdom), or that of proficients, or any other easy name which sounds not big nor exposes them to envy; and so they beget and preserve a good esteem. But your rhetorical sophisters, whilst in their orations they gape for the extraordinary acclamations of divine, angelical, wonderful, lose even those common ones of manly or pretty well.

ModernGreek: 13. Now as skilful painters, that they may not offend those that have weak eyes, allay their over-bright and gaudy colors by tempering them with darker; so there are some who will not represent their own praises altogether Edition: current; Page: [317] glaring and immoderately splendid, but cast in some defects, some scapes or slight faults, to take away the danger of displeasure or envy. Epeus intolerably brags of his skill in boxing,

I’ll crush my adversary’s body, break his bones;

yet he would seem to qualify all with this,

Is ’t not enough that I’m in fight unskilled?*

But, to say truth, to excuse his arrogance with so base a confession is ridiculous. He then who would be an exact man corrects himself for his forgetfulness, ignorance, ambition, or eagerness for certain knowledge and discourses. So does Ulysses when he says of the Sirens,

  • Thus the sweet charmers warbled o’er the main,
  • My soul takes wing to meet the heavenly strain;
  • I give the sign, and struggle to be free;

and again, when he sang of his visit to the Cyclops,

  • Their wholesome counsel rashly I declined,
  • Curious to view the man of monstrous kind,
  • And try what social rites a savage lends.

And for the most part it is a good antidote against envy, to mix amongst our praises those faults that are not altogether ungenerous and base. Therefore many temper them not only with confessions of poverty or unskilfulness, but even of vile descent. So Agathocles, carousing amongst the Sicilian youth in golden bowls very curiously wrought, commanded earthen pots to be brought in. See (says he) what diligence, laboriousness, and fortitude can do! Once we made muggen jugs, but now vessels of gold. For his original was so mean and contemptible, that it was thought he had served in a potter’s shop who at last governed almost all Sicily.

ModernGreek: 14. These are the outward preventions or remedies against diseases that may arise from the speaking of one’s Edition: current; Page: [318] self. There are some others inward, which Cato has recourse to when he tells us he was envied for neglecting his domestic affairs and being vigilant whole nights in those of his country. So with this:

  • How shall I boast, who grew so easily,
  • Though mustered ’mongst the common soldiery;
  • Great in my fortune as the bravest be?

And this:

  • But I am loath to lose past labor’s gains;
  • Nor will retreat from a fresh troop of pains.*

For as they who obtain great possessions of houses or lands gratis and with little difficulty are under the eye of envy, but not if their purchases were troublesome and dear, so it is with them who arrive at honor and applause.

ModernGreek: 15. Well then, since it is evident we may praise ourselves not only inoffensively and without being liable to envy, but with great advantage too; that we may seem not to do this for itself, but for a further and better end, first consider whether it may prove for the instruction of the company, by exciting them to a virtuous emulation. For so Nestor’s relation of his own achievements inflamed Patroclus and nine others with a vehement desire of single combat; and we know the counsel that brings persuasive deeds as well as words, a lively exemplar, and an immediate familiar incentive, insouls a man with courage, moves, yea, vehemently spurs him up to such a resolution of mind as cannot doubt the possibility and success of the attempt. This was the reason of that chorus in Lacedaemon consisting of boys, young men, and old men, which thus sang in parts: —

  • Old Men. Once we were young, and bold and strong.
  • Boys. And we shall be no less ere long.
  • Young Men. We now are such; behold us, if you will.

Well and politicly in this public entertainment did the legislator propose to the youth obvious and domestic examples Edition: current; Page: [319] of such as had already performed the things he exhorted them to.

ModernGreek: 16. Moreover, it is not only available for the exciting of a generous emulation, but sometimes requisite for the silencing and taming an insolent and audacious man, to talk a little gloriously of one’s self. As Nestor in this:

  • I have conversed with men more gallant far
  • Than you; much your superiors they in all things were,
  • Nor did they ever to contemn me dare.*

And Aristotle writes to Alexander, that not only those who have mighty empires may think highly of themselves, but they also who have worthy thoughts and notions of the Gods. Such a remark as this is also profitable against enemies, and recalls the spirits:

Weak sons of misery our strength oppose.

And such a reflection as that of Agesilaus, who said concerning the king of Persia, when he heard him called the Great: And who is greater than I, unless he be more just? So Epaminondas answered the Lacedaemonians, when they had spun out a long accusation against the Thebans: I see then we have forced you out of your wonted humor of short speech.

The like to these are proper against adversaries; but amongst our friends and fellow-citizens a seasonable glorying is good not only to humble and throw down their haughtiness, but if they be fearful or astonished, to fetch back their courage and teach them to rally up themselves again. Therefore Cyrus in perils and battles talked at a thundering rate, but otherwise was mild and gentle in discourse. And Antigonus the Second generally was modest and free from blustering; but at the sea-fight at Cos, — one of his friends saying, See you not how much greater the number of the enemy’s ships is than ours? — he answers, And for how many ships dost thou reckon me?

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This Homer seems to have considered, who makes Ulysses, when his friends were dismayed at the noise and horrible waves of Charybdis, immind them of his former stratagems and valor:

  • O friends! O often tried in adverse storms!
  • With ills familiar in more dreadful forms!
  • Deep in the dire Cyclopean den you lay,
  • Yet safe return’d, — Ulysses led the way.*

For this kind of praise is not such as the haranguers to the people or sophistical beggars use, nor those who affect popular humming and applause; but a necessary pledge of that courage and conduct which must be given to hearten up our friends. For we know that opinion and confidence in him whom we esteem endued with the fortitude and experience of a complete captain is, in the crisis of a battle, no small advantage to the obtaining of the day.

ModernGreek: 17. We have before declared the opposing of himself to the reputation and credit of another to be altogether unbefitting a worthy man; but where a vicious praise becomes hurtful and corruptive, creating an earnestness after evil things or an evil purpose in great matters, it is not unprofitable to refuse it; but it becomes us to direct the minds of the company towards better sentiments of things, showing them the difference. For certainly any one will be pleased when he sees many voluntarily abstaining from the vices they heard cried down and reproved; but if baseness be well accounted of, and honor be made to attend on him who pursues pleasure or avarice, where is the nature so happily strong that can resist, much less conquer, the temptation? Therefore a generous and discreet person must set himself against the praises, not of evil men, but of evil actions; for this kind of commendation perverts the judgments of men, and miserably leads them to imitate Edition: current; Page: [321] and emulate unworthy practices as laudable. But they may be easily bewrayed by confronting them with opposite truths. Theodorus the tragedian is reported to have said to Satyrus the comedian, It is not so wonderful an art to move the theatre’s laughter as to force its tears. But if some philosopher should have retorted, Aye; but, friend, it is not so fit and seemly to make men weep, as to remove and free them from their sorrows, it is likely by this odd way of commending himself he would have delighted his hearer, and endeavored to alter or secure his judgment. So Zeno knew how to speak for himself, when the great number of Theophrastus’s scholars was opposed to the fewness of his, saying, His chorus is indeed greater than mine, but mine is sweeter. And Phocion, while Leosthenes yet prospered, being asked by the orators what good he had done the city, replies: Nothing but this, that in my government of you there have been no funeral orations, but all the deceased were buried in the sepulchres of their ancestors. So Crates, by way of antithesis to this epitaph of the glutton,

  • What I have eat is mine; in words my will
  • I’ve had, and of my lust have took my fill,

well opposes these,

  • What I have learnt is mine; I’ve had my thought,
  • And me the Muses noble truths have taught.

This kind of praise is amiable and advantageous, teaching to admire and love convenient and profitable things instead of the superfluous and vain. Thus much for the stating of the question, in what cases and how far self-praise may be inoffensive.

ModernGreek: 18. Now the order of the discourse requires to show how an uncomely and unseasonable affectation of praise may be avoided. Discourse of a man’s self usually sallies from self-love, as from its fort, and is there observed to lay wait, even in those who are vulgarly thought free Edition: current; Page: [322] enough from ambition. Therefore, as it is one of the rules of health to avoid dangerous and unwholesome places, or being in them to take the greater care, so ought there to be a like rule concerning converse and speaking of one’s self. For this kind of talk has slippery occasions, into which we unawares and indiscernibly are apt to fall.

For first (as is above said), ambition usually intrudes into the praises of others with some flourishing remarks to adorn herself. For let a person be commended by his equal or inferior, the mind of the ambitious is tickled and rubbed at the hearing of his praise, and immediately he is hurried by an intemperate desire and precipitation after the like; as the appetite of the hungry is sharpened by seeing others eat.

ModernGreek: 19. In the second place, the story of men’s prosperous actions naturally carries them into the humor of boasting; and joy so far transports them, that they swell with their own words when they would give you a relation of their victories or their success in the business of the state, or of their other publicly applauded actions or orations, and find it difficult to contain themselves and preserve a mean. In which kind of error it is observable that soldiers and mariners are most entangled. Nor is it infrequent with those who return from the government of provinces and the management of great affairs. Such as these, when mention is once made of illustrious and royal personages, presently thrust in some eulogies of themselves, as proceeding from the favor and kind opinion of those princes; and then they fancy they seem not at all to have praised themselves, but to have given only a bare account what great men have said honorably of them. So another sort, little different from these, think they are not discerned when they tell you all the familiarities of kings and emperors with them and their particular applying themselves Edition: current; Page: [323] to them in discourse, and appear to recount them, not as thereby intending their own honor, but as bringing in considerable evidences of singular affability and humanity in persons so exceeding great.

We see then what reason we have to look narrowly to ourselves, that, whilst we confer praises on others, we give no ground for suspicion that we make them but the vehicles of our own, and that, “in pretending to celebrate Patroclus,” under his name we mean romantically ourselves.

ModernGreek: 20. Further, that kind of discourse which consists in dispraising and finding fault is dangerous, and yields opportunity to those that watch it for the magnifying their own little worth. Of this old men are inclinable to be guilty, when, by chastising and debasing others for their vices, they exalt themselves as wonderfully great in the opposite virtues. Indeed to these there must be a very large concession, if they be reverend not only in age, but in virtue and place; for it is not altogether an unprofitable way, since it may sometimes create an extraordinary zeal and emulation of honor in those who are thus spurred up. But otherwise that sort of humor is carefully to be shunned; for reproof is often bitter, and wants a great deal of caution to sweeten and correct it. Now this is not done by the tempering our own praises with the reprehension of another; for he is an unworthy and odious fellow who seeks his own credit through any man’s disgrace, basely endeavoring to build a slight reputation of his virtue upon the discovery of another’s crimes.

ModernGreek: 21. Lastly, as they who are naturally inclined to a dangerous sort of laughter, — which is a kind of violent passion or disease, — must preserve especially the smooth parts of the body from tickling incentives, which cause these parts to yield and relent, thus provoking the passion; so they whose minds are soft and propense to the desires of reputation must carefully beware that they be Edition: current; Page: [324] not precipitated by the ticklings of another’s praises into a vaporing of themselves. They ought rather to blush, if they hear themselves commended, and not put on a brazen face. They ought modestly and handsomely to reprove their applauders as having honored them too much, and not chide them for having been too sparing in their praise. Yet in this many offend, putting those who speak advantageously of them in mind of more things of the same nature; endeavoring to make a huge heap of creditable actions, till by what they themselves add they spoil all that their friends have conferred to the promoting their esteem.

Some there are who flatter themselves, till they are stupidly puffed up; others allure a man to talk of himself, and take him by casting some little gilded temptation in his way; and another sort for a little sport will be putting questions, as those in Menander to the silly braggadocio soldier:

  • How did you get this wound?
  • By a furious dart.
  • For heaven’s sake, how?
  • As from my scaling ladder
  • I mounted the proud walls. See here! Behold!
  • Then I proceed to show my wound
  • With earnest look; but they spoiled all with laughter.

ModernGreek: 22. We must be watchful in all these cases, that we neither of ourselves drop into our own inconvenient praises, nor be hooked into them by others. Now the best and most certain way of security is to look back upon such as we can remember guilty of this fault, and to consider how absurd and ugly it is accounted by all men, and that hardly any thing is in converse a greater disturbance than this.

Hence it is that, though there be no other quality in such persons unpleasing, yet, as if Nature had taught us to abhor and fly it, we hasten out to get a little fresh air; Edition: current; Page: [325] and even the very parasite and indigent flatterers are uneasy, when the wealthy and great men by whose scraps they live begin to admire and extol themselves; nay, they give out that they pay the greatest portion of the shot, when they must give ear to such vanities. Therefore he in Menander cries out,

  • They kill me — I am a macerated guest —
  • With their wise sayings and their soldier’s brags;
  • How base these glorious are!

But these faults are not only to be objected against common soldiers and upstarts who detain others with gaudy and proud relations of their own actions, but also against sophists, philosophers, and commanders who grow full of themselves and talk at a fastuous rate. Therefore it is fit we still remember that another’s dispraise always accompanies the indiscreet praises of ourselves; that the end of vain-glory is disgrace; and that, as Demosthenes tells us, the company will both be offended and judge otherwise of us than we would have them.* Let us then forbear to talk of ourselves, unless the profit that we or our hearers may thence probably reap be considerably great.

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ModernGreek: 1. Since it is your opinion that it would be requisite for me to collect together what I have discoursed and written dispersedly in several treatises explaining, as we apprehended his sense and meaning, what opinion Plato had concerning the soul, as requiring a particular commentary by itself; therefore I have compiled this discourse, which asks for your consideration and pardon not only because the matter itself is by no means easy to be handled, but also because the doctrines herein contained are somewhat contrary to those held by most of the Platonic philosophers. And I will first rehearse the words as they run originally in the text itself of Timaeus.

“There being one substance not admitting of division, but continuing still the same, and another liable to be divided among several bodies, out of both these he produced for a middle mixture a third sort of Substance, partaking of the nature of the Same and of the nature of the Other, and placed it in the midst between that which was indivisible and that which was subject to be corporeally divided. Then taking Edition: current; Page: [327] all three, he blended them into one form, forcibly adapting to the Same the nature of the Other, not readily condescending to a mixture. Now when he had thus mixed them with the Substance, and reduced the three into one, he again divided this whole matter into so many parts as were thought to be necessary; every one of these parts being composed of the Same, the Other, and the Substance And thus he began his division.”

By the way, it would be an endless toil to recite the contentions and disputes that have from hence arisen among his interpreters, and to you indeed superfluous, who are not ignorant yourselves of the greatest part.

But seeing that Xenocrates won to his opinions several of the most eminent philosophers, while he defined the substance of the soul to be number moved by itself; and that many adhered to Crantor the Solian, who affirmed the soul to consist partly of an essence perceptible to the mind, partly of a nature concerned with sensible things and subject to opinions; I am apt to believe that the perspicuity of these matters clearly dilucidated will afford you a fair entrance into the knowledge of the rest.

ModernGreek: 2. Nor does either of the two conjectures require many words of explanation. For the one side pretends that by the mixture of the divisible and indivisible substance no other thing is meant than the generation or original of number, seeing that the unit is undividable but multitude is subject to division; however, that out of these is begot number, unity terminating plurality and putting a period to infinity, which they call the unlimited binary. This binary Zaratas, the scholar of Pythagoras, named the mother, but the unit the father of number; and therefore he believed those numbers were the best which approached nearest in resemblance to the unit. Nevertheless, this number cannot be said to be the soul; for it neither has the power to move, neither can it be moved. But the Same and the Edition: current; Page: [328] Other being blended together, of which one is the original of motion and mutation, the other of rest and stability, from these two springs the soul, which is no less active or passive itself to stay or to be stayed, than to move or to be moved.

But the followers of Crantor, supposing the proper function of the soul to consist in judging of those things which are discernible to the understanding and those which are liable to sense, as also of the differences and similitudes of these things, as well in themselves as in reference one to another, allege the soul to be composed of all, to the end she may have a true knowledge of the whole. Now the things of which the All is composed are fourfold, — the intelligible nature, always immutable and still the same, and the sensitive nature, which is passive and subject to alteration; and also the nature of the Same, and the nature of the Other, in regard the two former in some measure participate also of diversity and identity.

ModernGreek: 3. All these philosophers likewise equally hold that the soul neither derives its beginning from time nor is the product of generation, but that it is endued with several faculties and virtues, into which Plato, as it were, melting and dissolving its substance for contemplation’s sake, supposes it in his discourse to have had its original from procreation and mixture.

The same was his opinion concerning the world; for he knew it to be uncreated and without end, but not perceiving it so easy to apprehend how the structure was reared, or by what order and government supported, unless by admitting its beginning and the causes thereto concurring, he followed that method to instruct himself. These things being thus generally by them laid down, Eudorus will allow to neither side any share of probability; and indeed to me they both seem to have wandered from the opinion of Plato, if we intend to make the most likely rule our Edition: current; Page: [329] guide, — which is not to advance our own conceits, but to come as close as we can to his sense and meaning. Now as to this same mixture (as they call it) of the intelligible and sensitive substance, no reason appears why it should be more the original of the soul than of any other thing that ye can name. For the whole world itself and every one of its parts pretend to no other composition than of a sensitive and an intelligible substance, of which the one affords matter and foundation, the other form and figure to the whole mass. And then again, whate’er there is of material substance, framed and structured by participation and assimilation of the intelligible nature is not only to be felt but visible to the eye; whenas the soul still soars above the reach of all natural apprehension. Neither did Plato ever assert the soul to be number, but a perpetually self-moving nature, the fountain and principle of motion. Only he embellished and adorned the substance of it with number, proportion, and harmony; as being a subject capable of receiving the most goodly form which those ornaments could produce. So that I cannot believe it to be the same thing to compose the soul according to number, and to affirm the soul to be number itself. Nor can it be said to be harmony because harmoniously composed, as he has clearly demonstrated in his Treatise of the Soul. But plain it is, that those philosophers understood not the meaning of the Same and the Other. For they tell us how the Same contributes rest, the Other motion toward the generation of the soul. Though Plato himself, in his treatise entitled the Sophist, disposes and distinguishes Essence, the Same, the Other, together with Motion and Rest, as being five things altogether differing one from another and void of mutual affinity.

ModernGreek: 4. But these men are generally, as the most part of Plato’s readers, timorous and vainly perplexed, using all their endeavors by wresting and tormenting his sense to Edition: current; Page: [330] conceal and hide what he has written, as if it were some terrible novelty not fit for public view, that the world and the soul neither had their beginning and composition from eternity, nor had their essence from a boundless immensity of time, — of which we have particularly spoken already. So that now it shall suffice to say no more than this, that these writers confound and smother (if they do not rather utterly abolish) his eager contest and dispute in behalf of the Gods, wherein Plato confesses himself to have been transported with an ambitious zeal, even beyond the strength of his years, against the atheists of his time. For if the world had no beginning, Plato’s opinion vanishes, — that the soul, much elder than the body, is the principle of all motion and alteration, or (to use his own words) their chieftain and first efficient cause, whose mansion is in Nature’s secret retirements. But what the soul is, what the body, and why the soul is said to have been elder than the body, shall be made appear in the progress of this discourse. The ignorance of this seems to have been the occasion of much doubt and incredulity in reference to the true opinion.

ModernGreek: 5. First therefore, I shall propose my own sentiments concerning these things, desiring to gain credit no otherwise than by the most probable strength of arguments, explaining and reconciling to the utmost of my ability truth and paradox together; after which I shall apply both the explication and demonstration to the words of the text. In my opinion then the business lies thus. The world, saith Heraclitus, neither did any one of all the Gods nor any mortal man create, — as if he had been afraid that, not being able to make out the creation by a Deity, we should be constrained to acknowledge some man to have been the architect of the universe. But certainly far better it is, in submission to Plato’s judgment, to avow, both in discourse and in our songs of praise, that the Edition: current; Page: [331] glory of the structure belongs to God, — for the frame itself is the most beautiful of all masterpieces, and God the most illustrious of all causes, — but that the substance and materials were not created, but always ready at the ordering and disposal of the Omnipotent Builder, to give it form and figure, as near as might be, approaching to his own resemblance. For the creation was not out of nothing, but out of matter wanting beauty and perfection, like the rude materials of a house, a garment, or a statue, lying first in shapeless confusion. For before the creation of the world there was nothing but a confused heap; yet was that confused heap neither without a body, without motion, nor without a soul. The corporeal part was without form or consistence, and the moving part stupid and headlong; and this was the disorder of a soul not guided by reason. God neither incorporated that which is incorporeal, nor conveyed a soul into that which had none before; like a person either musical or poetical, who does not make either the voice or the movement, but only reduces the voice with harmony, and graces the movement with proper measures. Thus God did not make the tangible and resistant solidity of the corporeal substance, nor the imaginative or moving faculties of the soul; but taking these two principles as they lay ready at hand, — the one obscure and dark, the other turbulent and senseless, both imperfect without the bounds of order and decency, — he disposed, digested, and embellished the confused mass, so that he brought to perfection a most absolute and glorious creature. Therefore the substance of the body is no other than that all-receiving Nature, the seat and nurse of all created beings.

ModernGreek: 6. But the substance of the soul, in Philebus, he called an infinite being, the privation of number and proportion; having neither period nor measure either of diminution or excess or distinction or dissimilitude. But as to that Edition: current; Page: [332] order which he alleges in Timaeus to be the mixture of nature with the indivisible substance, but which being applied to bodies becomes liable to division, — he would not have it thought to be a bulk made up by units or points, nor longitude and breadth, which are qualities more consentaneous to bodies than to the soul, but that disorderly unlimited principle, moving both itself and other substances, that which he frequently calls necessity, and which within his treatise of laws he openly styles the disorderly, ill-acting, or harm-doing soul. For such was this soul of herself; but at length she came to partake of understanding, ratiocination, and harmony, that she might be the soul of the world. Now that all-receiving principle of matter enjoyed both magnitude, space, and distance; but beauty, form, and measure of proportion it had none. However, all these it obtained, to the end that, when it came to be thus embellished and adorned, it might assume the form of all the various bodies and organs of the earth, the sea, the heavens, the stars, and of all those infinite varieties of plants and living creatures. Now as for those who attribute to this matter, and not to the soul, that which in Timaeus is called necessity, in Philebus vast disproportion and unlimited exorbitancy of diminution and excess, — they can never maintain it to be the cause of disorder, since Plato always alleges that same matter to be without any form or figures, and altogether destitute of any quality or effectual virtue properly belonging to it; comparing it to such oils as have no scent at all, which the perfumers mix in their tinctures. For there is no likelihood that Plato would suppose that to be the cause and principle of evil which is altogether void of quality in itself, sluggish, and never to be roused on to action, and yet at the same time brand this immensity with the harsh epithets of base and mischievous, and call it necessity repugnant and contumaciously rebellious Edition: current; Page: [333] against God. For this same necessity, which renverses heaven (to use his own phrase in his Politicus) and turns it the quite contrary way from decency and symmetry, together with innate concupiscence, and that inbred confusion of ancient nature, hurly-burly’d with all manner of disorder, before they were wrought and kneaded into the graceful decorum of the world, — whence came they to be conveyed into several varieties of forms and beings, if the subject, which is the first matter, were void of all quality whatsoever and deprived of all efficient cause; more especially the Architect being so good of himself, and intending a frame the nearest approaching to his own perfections? For besides these there is no third principle. And indeed, we should stumble into the perplexed intricacies of the Stoics, should we advance evil into the world out of nonentity, without either any preceding cause or effect of generation, in regard that among those principles that have a being, it is not probable that either real good or that which is destitute of all manner of quality should afford birth or substance to evil. But Plato escaped those pitfalls into which they blundered who came after him; who, neglecting what he carefully embraced, the third principle and energetic virtue in the middle between God and the first matter, maintain the most absurd of arguments, affirming the nature of evils to have crept in spontaneously and adventitiously, I know not how nor by what strange accidents. And yet they will not allow an atom of Epicurus so much as a moment’s liberty to shift in its station, which, as they say, would infer motion out of nonentity without any impulsive cause; nevertheless themselves presuming all this while to affirm that vice and wickedness, together with a thousand other incongruities and vexations afflicting the body, of which no cause can be ascribed to any of the principles, came into being (as it were) “by consequence.”

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ModernGreek: 7. Plato however does not so; who, despoiling the first matter of all manner of distinction, and separating from God, as far as it is possible, the causes of evil, has thus delivered himself concerning the world, in his Politicus. “The world,” saith he, “received from the Illustrious Builder all things beautiful and lovely; but whatsoever happens to be noxious and irregular in heaven, it derives from its ancient habit and disposition, and conveys them into the several creatures.” And a little farther in the same treatise he saith: “In process of time, when oblivion had encroached upon the world, the distemper of its ancient confusion more prevailed, and the hazard is, lest being dissolved it should again be sunk and plunged into the immense abyss of its former irregularity.” But there can be no dissimilitude in the first matter, as being void of quality and distinction.

Of which when Eudemus with several others was altogether ignorant, he seems deridingly to cavil with Plato, and taxes him with asserting the first matter to be the cause, the root, and principle of all evil, which he had at other times so frequently dignified with the tender appellations of mother and nurse. Whereas Plato gives to matter only the titles of the mother and nurse; but the cause of evil he makes to be the moving force residing within it, not governed by order and reason though not without a soul neither, which, in his treatise of the Laws, he calls expressly the soul repugnant and in hostility with that other propitiously and kindly acting. For though the soul be the principle of motion, yet is it the understanding and intelligence which measures that motion by order and harmony, and is the cause of both. For God could not have brought to rest mere sleepy and sluggish matter, but he brought it to rest when it had been troubled and disquieted by a senseless and stupid cause. Neither did he infuse into nature the principles of alteration and affections; Edition: current; Page: [335] but when it was under the pressure of those unruly disorders and alterations, he discharged it of its manifold enormities and irregularities, making use of symmetry, proportion, and number. For these are the most proper instruments, not by alteration and lawless motion to distract the several beings with passions and distinctions, but rather to render them fixed and stable, and nearest in their composition to those things that in themselves continue still the same upon the equal poise of diuturnity. And this, in my judgment, is the sense and meaning of Plato.

ModernGreek: 8. Of which the easy reconciliation of his seeming incongruities and contradiction of himself may serve for the first proof. For indeed no men of judgment would have objected to the most Bacchanalian sophister, more especially to Plato, the guilt of so much inconvenience and impudent rashness in a discourse by him so elaborately studied, as to affirm the same nature in one place never to have been created, in another to have been the effects of generation; — in Phaedrus to assert the soul eternal, in Timaeus to subject it to procreation. The words in Phaedrus need no repetition, as being familiar to nearly every one, wherein he proves the soul to be incorruptible in regard it never had a beginning, and to have never had a beginning because it moves itself. But in Timaeus, “God,” saith he, “did not make the soul a junior to the body, as now we labor to prove it to have been subsequent to the body. For he would never have suffered the more ancient, because linked and coupled with the younger, to have been governed by it; only we, guided I know not how by chance and inconsiderate rashness, frame odd kind of notions to ourselves. But God most certainly composed the soul excelling the body both in seniority of origin and in power, to be mistress and governess of her inferior servant.”* Edition: current; Page: [336] And then again he adds, how that the soul, being turned upon herself, began the divine beginning of an eternal and prudent life. “Now,” saith he, “the body of heaven became visible; but the soul being invisible, nevertheless participating of ratiocination and harmony, by the best of intelligible and eternal beings she was made the best of things created.”* Here then he determines God to be the best of sempiternal beings, the soul to be the most excellent of temporal existences. By which apparent distinction and antithesis he denies that the soul is eternal, and that it never had a beginning.

ModernGreek: 9. And now what other or better reconciliation of these seeming contrarieties than his own explanation, to those that are willing to apprehend it? For he declares to have been without beginning the never procreated soul, that moved all things confusedly and in an irregular manner before the creation of the world. But as for that which God composed out of this and that other permanent and choicest substance, making it both prudent and orderly, and adding of his own, as if it were for form and beauty’s sake, intellect to sense, and order to motion, and which he constituted prince and chieftain of the whole, — that he acknowledges to have had a beginning and to have proceeded from generation. Thus he likewise pronounces the body of the world in one respect to be eternal and without beginning, in another sense to be the work of creation. To which purpose, where he says that the visible structure, never in repose at first but restless in a confused and tempestuous motion, was at length by the hand of God disposed and ranged into majestic order, — where he says that the four elements, fire and water, earth and air, before the stately pile was by them embellished and adorned, caused a prodigious fever and shivering ague in the whole mass of matter, that labored under the combats of their unequal Edition: current; Page: [337] mixtures, — by his urging these things, he gives those bodies room in the vast abyss before the fabric of the universe.

Again, when he says that the body was younger than the soul, and that the world was created, as being of a corporeal substance that may be seen and felt, — which sort of substances must necessarily have a beginning and be created, — it is evidently demonstrable from thence that he ascribes original creation to the nature of bodies. But he is far from being repugnant or contradictory to himself in these sublimest mysteries. For he does not contend, that the same body was created by God or after the same manner, and yet that it was before it had a being, — which would have been to act the part of a juggler; but he instructs us what we ought to understand by generations and creation. Therefore, says he, at first all these things were void of measure and proportion; but when God first began to beautify the whole, the fire and water, earth and air, having perhaps some prints and footsteps of their forms, lay in a huddle jumbled all together, — as probable it is that all things are, where God is absent, — which then he reduced to a comely perfection varied by number and order. Moreover, having told us before that it was a work not of one but of a twofold proportion to bind and fasten the bulky immensity of the whole, which was both solid and of a prodigious profundity, he then comes to declare how God, after he had placed the water and the earth in the midst between the fire and the air, incontinently closed up the heavens into a circular form. Out of these materials, saith he, being four in number, was the body of the world created, agreeing in proportion, and so amicably corresponding together, that being thus embodied and confined within their proper bounds, it is impossible that any dissolution should happen from their own contending force, unless he that riveted the whole frame should go about Edition: current; Page: [338] again to rend it in pieces; — most apparently teaching us, that God was not the parent and architect of the corporeal substance only, or of the bulk and matter, but of the beauty and symmetry and similitude that adorned and graced the whole. The same we are to believe, he thought, concerning the soul; that there is one which neither was created by God nor is the soul of the world, but a certain self-moving and restless efficacy of a giddy and disorderly agitation and impetuosity, irrational and subject to opinion; while the other is that which God himself, having accoutred and adorned it with suitable numbers and proportions, has made queen regent of the created world, herself the product of creation also.

ModernGreek: 10. Now that Plato had this belief concerning these things, and did not for contemplation’s sake lay down these suppositions concerning the creation of the world and the soul, — this, among many others, seems to be an evident signification that, as to the soul, he avers it to be both created and not created, but as to the world, he always maintains that it had a beginning and was created, never that it was uncreated and eternal. What necessity therefore of bringing any testimonies out of Timaeus? For the whole treatise, from the beginning to the end, discourses of nothing else but of the creation of the world. As for the rest, we find that Timaeus, in his Atlantic, addressing himself in prayer to the Deity, calls God that being which of old existed in his works, but now was apparent to reason. In his Politicus, his Parmenidean guest acknowledges that the world, which was the handiwork of God, is replenished with several good things, and that, if there be any thing in it which is vicious and offensive, it comes by mixture of its former incongruous and irrational habit. But Socrates, in the Politics, beginning to discourse of number, which some call by the name of wedlock, says: “The created Divinity has a circular period, which is, as it were, enchased and Edition: current; Page: [339] involved in a certain perfect number;” meaning in that place by created Divinity no other than the world itself.

ModernGreek: 11. The first pair of these numbers consists of one and two, the second of three and four, the third of five and six; neither of which pairs make a tetragonal number, either by themselves or joined with any other figures. The fourth consists of seven and eight, which, being added all together, produce a tetragonal number of thirty-six. But the quaternary of numbers set down by Plato have a more perfect generation, of even numbers multiplied by even distances, and of odd by uneven distances. This quaternary contains the unit, the common original of all even and odd numbers. Subsequent to which are two and three, the first plane numbers; then four and nine, the first squares; and next eight and twenty-seven, the first cubical numbers (not counting the unit). Whence it is apparent, that his intention was not that the numbers should be placed in a direct line one above another, but apart and oppositely one against the other, the even by themselves, and the odd by themselves, according to the scheme here given. In this manner similar numbers will be joined together, which will produce other remarkable numbers, as well by addition as by multiplication.


ModernGreek: 12. By addition thus: two and three make five, four and nine make thirteen, eight and twenty-seven make thirty-five. Of all which numbers the Pythagoreans called five the nourisher, that is to say, the breeding or fostering sound, believing a fifth to be the first of all the intervals of tones which could be sounded. But as for thirteen, Edition: current; Page: [340] they called it the remainder, despairing, as Plato himself did, of being ever able to divide a tone into equal parts. Then five and thirty they named harmony, as consisting of the two cubes eight and twenty-seven, the first that rise from an odd and an even number, as also of the four numbers, six, eight, nine, and twelve, comprehending both harmonical and arithmetical proportion. Which nevertheless will be more conspicuous, being made out in a scheme to the eye.

Admit a right-angled parallelogram, A B C D, the lesser side of which A B consists of five, the longer side A C contains seven squares. Let the lesser division be unequally divided into two and three squares, marked by E; and the larger division in two unequal divisions more of three and four squares, marked by F. Thus A E F G comprehends six, E B G I nine, F G C H eight, and G I H D twelve. By this means the whole parallelogram, containing thirty-five little square areas, comprehends all the proportions of the first concords of music in the number of these little squares. For six is exceeded by eight in a sesquiterce proportion (3:4), wherein the diatessaron is comprehended. And six is exceeded by nine in a sesquialter proportion (2:3), wherein also is included the fifth. Six is exceeded by twelve in duple proportion (1:2), containing the octave; and then lastly, there is the sesquioctave proportion of a tone in eight to nine. And therefore they call that number which comprehends all these proportions harmony. This number is 35, which being multiplied by 6, the product is 210, which is the number of days, they say, which brings those infants to perfection that are born at the seventh month’s end.


ModernGreek: 13. To proceed by way of multiplication, — twice 3 Edition: current; Page: [341] make 6, and 4 times 9 thirty-six, and 8 times 27 produce 216. Thus six appears to be a perfect number, as being equal in its parts; and it is called matrimony, by reason of the mixture of the first even and odd. Moreover it is composed of the original number, which is one, of the first even number, which is two, and the first odd number, which is three. Then for 36, it is the first number which is as well quadrangular as triangular, being quadrangular from 6, and triangular from 8.* The same number arises from the multiplication of the first two square numbers, 4 and 9; as also from the addition of the three cubical numbers, 1, 8, and 27, which being put together make up 36. Lastly, you have a parallelogram with unequal sides, by the multiplication of 12 by 3, or 9 by 4. Take then the numbers of the sides of all these figures, the 6 of the square, the 8 of the triangle, the 9 for the one parallelogram, and the 12 for the other; and there you will find the proportions of all the concords. For 12 to 9 will be a fourth, as nete to paramese. To eight it will prove a fifth, as nete to mese. To six it will be an octave, as nete to hypate. And the two hundred and sixteen is the cubical number proceeding from six which is its root, and so equal to its own perimeter.

ModernGreek: 14. Now these numbers aforesaid being endued with all these properties, the last of them, which is 27, has this peculiar to itself, that it is equal to all those that precede together; besides, that it is the periodical number of the days wherein the moon finishes her monthly course; the Pythagoreans make it to be the tone of all the harmonical intervals. On the other side, they call thirteen the remainder, in regard it misses a unit to be half of twenty-seven. Edition: current; Page: [342] Now that these numbers comprehend the proportions of harmonical concord, is easily made apparent. For the proportion of 2 to 1 is duple, which contains the diapason; as the proportion of 3 to 2 sesquialter, which embraces the fifth; and the proportion of 4 to 3 sesquiterce, which comprehends the diatessaron; the proportion of 9 to 3 triple, including the diapason and diapente; and that of 8 to 2 quadruple, comprehending the double diapason. Lastly, there is the sesquioctave in 8 to 9, which makes the interval of a single tone. If then the unit, which is common, be counted as well to the even as the odd numbers, the whole series will be equal to the sum of the decade. For the even numbers* (1 + 2 + 4 + 8) give 15, the triangular number of five. On the other side, take the odd numbers, 1, 3, 9, and 27, and the sum is 40; by which numbers the skilful measure all musical intervals, of which they call one a diesis, and the other a tone. Which number of 40 proceeds from the force of the quaternary number by multiplication. For every one of the first four numbers being by itself multiplied by four, the products will be 4, 8, 12, 16, which being added all together make 40, comprehending all the proportions of harmony. For 16 is a sesquiterce to 12, duple to 8, and quadruple to 4. Again, 12 holds a sesquialter proportion to 8, and triple to 4. In these proportions are contained the intervals of the diatessaron, diapente, diapason, and double diapason. Moreover, the number 40 is equal to the two first tetragons and the two first cubes being taken both together. For the first tetragons are 1 and 4, the first cubes are 8 and 27, which being added together make 40. Whence it appears that the Platonic quaternary is much more perfect and fuller of variety than the Pythagoric.

ModernGreek: 15. But since the numbers proposed did not afford space Edition: current; Page: [343] sufficient for the middle intervals, therefore there was a necessity to allow larger bounds for the proportions. And now we are to tell you what those bounds and middle spaces are. And first, concerning the medieties (or mean terms); of which that which equally exceeds and is exceeded by the same number is called arithmetical; the other, which exceeds and is exceeded by the same proportional part of the extremes, is called sub-contrary. Now the extremes and the middle of an arithmetical mediety are 6, 9, 12. For 9 exceeds 6 as it is exceeded by 12, that is to say, by the number three. The extremes and middle of the sub-contrary are 6, 8, 12, where 8 exceeds 6 by 2, and 12 exceeds 8 by 4; yet 2 is equally the third of 6, as 4 is the third of 12. So that in the arithmetical mediety the middle exceeds and is exceeded by the same number; but in the sub contrary mediety, the middle term wants of one of the extremes, and exceeds the other by the same part of each extreme; for in the first 3 is the third part of the mean; but in the latter 4 and 2 are third parts each of a different extreme. Whence it is called sub-contrary. This they also call harmonic, as being that whose middle and extremes afford the first concords; that is to say, between the highest and lowermost lies the diapason, between the highest and the middle lies the diapente, and between the middle and lowermost lies the fourth or diatessaron. For suppose the highest extreme to be placed at nete and the lowermost at hypate, the middle will fall upon mese, making a fifth to the uppermost extreme, but a fourth to the lowermost. So that nete answers to 12, mese to 8, and hypate to 6.

ModernGreek: 16. Now the more readily to find out these means Eudorus hath taught us an easy method. For after you have proposed the extremities, if you take the half part of each and add them together, the product shall be the middle, alike in both duple and triple proportions, in arithmetical mediety. Edition: current; Page: [344] But as for sub-contrary mediety, in duple proportion, first having fixed the extremes, take the third part of the lesser and the half of the larger extreme, and the addition of both together shall be the middle; in triple proportion, the half of the lesser and the third part of the larger extreme shall be the mean. As for example, in triple proportion, let 6 be the least extreme, and 18 the biggest; if you take 3 which is the half of 6, and 6 which is the third part of 18, the product by addition will be 9, exceeding and exceeded by the same proportional parts of the extremes. In this manner the mediums are found out; and these are so to be disposed and placed as to fill up the duple and triple intervals. Now of these proposed numbers, some have no middle space, others have not sufficient. Being therefore so augmented that the same proportions may remain, they will afford sufficient space for the aforesaid mediums. To which purpose, instead of a unit they choose the six, as being the first number including in itself a half and third part, and so multiplying all the figures below it and above it by 6, they make sufficient room to receive the mediums, both in double and triple distances, as in the example below: —


Now Plato laid down this for a position, that the intervals of sesquialters, sesquiterces, and sesquioctaves having once arisen from these connections in the first spaces, the Deity filled up all the sesquiterce intervals with sesquioctaves, leaving a part of each, so that the interval left of the part should bear the numerical proportion of 256 to 243.* From these words of Plato they were constrained to enlarge their numbers and make them bigger. Now there must be two numbers following in order in sesquioctave proportion. Edition: current; Page: [345] But the six does not contain a sesquioctave; and if it should be cut up into parts and the units bruised into fractions, this would strangely perplex the study of these things. Therefore the occasion itself advised multiplication; so that, as in changes in the musical scale, the whole scheme was extended in agreement with the first (or base) number. Eudorus therefore, imitating Crantor, made choice of 384 for his first number, being the product of 64 multiplied by 6; which way of proceeding the number 64 led them to, having for its sesquioctave 72. But it is more agreeable to the words of Plato to introduce the half of 384. For the remainder of that will bear a sesquioctave proportion in those numbers which Plato mentions, 256 and 243, if we make use of 192 for the first number. But if the same number be made choice of doubled, the remainder (or leimma) will have the same proportion, but the numbers will be doubled, i.e. 512 and 486. For 256 is in sesquiterce proportion to 192, as 512 to 384. Neither was Crantor’s reduction of the proportions to this number without reason, which made his followers willing to pursue it; in regard that 64 is both the square of the first cube, and the cube of the first square; and being multiplied by 3, the first odd and trigonal, and the first perfect and sesquialter number, it produces 192, which also has its sesquioctave, as we shall demonstrate.

ModernGreek: 17. But first of all, we shall better understand what this leimma or remainder is and what was the opinion of Plato, if we do but call to mind what was frequently bandied in the Pythagorean schools. For interval in music is all that space which is comprehended by two sounds varied in pitch. Of which intervals, that which is called a tone is the full excess of diapente above diatessaron; and this being divided into two parts, according to the opinion of the musicians, makes two intervals, both which they call a semitone. But the Pythagoreans, despairing to divide a tone into equal Edition: current; Page: [346] parts, and therefore perceiving the two divisions to be unequal, called the lesser leimma (or defect), as being lesser than the half. Therefore some there are who make the diatessaron, which is one of the concords, to consist of two tones and a half; others, of two tones and leimma. In which case sense seems to govern the musicians, and demonstration the mathematicians. The proof by demonstration is thus made out. For it is certain from the observation of instruments that the diapason has double proportion, the diapente a sesquialter, the diatessaron a sesquiterce, and the tone a sesquioctave proportion. Now the truth of this will easily appear upon examination, by hanging two weights double in proportion to two strings, or by making two pipes of equal hollowness double in length, the one to the other. For the bigger of the pipes will yield the deep sound, as hypate to nete; and of the two strings, that which is extended by the double weight will be acuter than the other, as nete to hypate; and this is a diapason. In the same manner two longitudes or ponderosities, being taken in the proportion of 3: 2, will produce a diapente; and three to four will yield a diatessaron; of which the latter carries a sesquiterce, the former a sesquialter proportion. But if the same inequality of weight or length be so ordered as nine to eight, it will produce a tonic interval, no perfect concord, but harmonical enough; in regard the strings being struck one after another will yield so many musical and pleasing sounds, but all together a dull and ungrateful noise. But if they are touched in consort, either single or together, thence a delightful melody will charm the ear. Nor is all this less demonstrable by reason. For in music, the diapason is composed of the diapente and diatessaron. But in numbers, the duple is compounded of the sesquialter and sesquiterce. For 12 is a sesquiterce to 9, but a sesquialter to 8, and a duple to 6. Therefore is the duple proportion composed of the Edition: current; Page: [347] sesquialter and sesquiterce, as the diapason of the diapente and diatessaron. For here the diapente exceeds the diatessaron by a tone; there the sesquialter exceeds the sesquiterce by a sesquioctave. Whence it is apparent that the diapason carries a double proportion, the diapente a sesquialter, the diatessaron a sesquiterce, and the tone a sesquioctave.

ModernGreek: 18. This being thus demonstrated, let us see whether the sesquioctave will admit a division into two equal parts; which if it will not do, neither will a tone. However, in regard that 9 and 8, which make the first sesquioctave, have no middle interval, but both being doubled, the space that falls between causes two intervals, thence it is apparent that, if those distances were equal, the sesquioctave also might be divided into equal parts. Now the double of 9 is 18, that of 8 is 16, the intermedium 17; by which means one of the intervals becomes larger, the other lesser; for the first is that of 18 to 17, the second that of 17 to 16. Thus the sesquioctave proportion not being to be otherwise than unequally divided, consequently neither will the tone admit of an equal division. So that neither of these two sections of a divided tone is to be called a semitone, but according as the mathematicians name it, the remainder. And this is that which Plato means, when he says, that God, having filled up the sesquiterces with sesquioctaves, left a part of each; of which the proportion is the same as of 256 to 243. For admit a diatessaron in two numbers comprehending sesquiterce proportion, that is to say, in 256 and 192; of which two numbers, let the lesser 192 be applied to the lowermost extreme, and the bigger number 256 to the uppermost extreme of the tetrachord. Whence we shall demonstrate that, this space being filled up by two sesquioctaves, such an interval remains as lies between the numbers 256 and 243. For the lower string being forced a full tone upward, which is a sesquioctave, it Edition: current; Page: [348] makes 216; and being screwed another tone upward it makes 243. Which 243 exceeds 216 by 27, and 216 exceeds 192 by 24. And then again of these two numbers, 27 is the eighth of 216, and 24 the eighth of 192. So the biggest of these two numbers is a sesquioctave to the middle, and the middle to the least; and the distance from the least to the biggest, that is from 192 to 243, consists of two tones filled up with two sesquioctaves. Which being subtracted, the remaining interval of the whole between 243 and 256 is 13, for which reason they called this number the remainder. And thus I am apt to believe the meaning and opinion of Plato to be most exactly explained in these numbers.

ModernGreek: 19. Others, placing the two extremes of the diatessaron, the acute part in 288, and the lower sound in 216, in all the rest observe the same proportions, only that they take the remainder between the two middle intervals. For the base, being forced up a whole tone, makes 243; and the upper note, screwed downward a full tone, begets 256. Moreover 243 carries a sesquioctave proportion to 216, and 288 to 256; so that each of the intervals contains a full tone, and the residue is that which remains between 243 and 256, which is not a semitone, but something less. For 288 exceeds 256 by 32, and 243 exceeds 216 by 27; but 256 exceeds 243 by 13. Now this excess is less than half of the former. So it is plain that the diatessaron consists of two tones and the residue, not of two tones and a half. Let this suffice for the demonstration of these things. Nor is it a difficult thing to believe, by what has been already said, wherefore Plato, after he had asserted that the intervals of sesquialter, sesquiterce, and sesquioctave had arisen, when he comes to fill up the intervals of sesquiterces with sesquioctaves, makes not the least mention of sesquialters; for that the sesquialter is soon filled up, by adding the sesquiterce Edition: current; Page: [349] to the sesquioctave, or the sesquioctave to the sesquiterce.

ModernGreek: 20. Having therefore shown the manner how to fill up the intervals, and to place and dispose the medieties, had never any person taken the same pains before, I should have recommended the further consideration of it to the recreation of your fancies; but in regard that several most excellent musicians have made it their business to unfold these mysteries with a diligence more than usually exact, — more especially Crantor, Clearchus, and Theodorus, all born in Soli, — it shall suffice only to show how these men differed among themselves. For Theodorus, varying from the other two, and not observing two distinct files or rows of numbers, but placing the duples and triples in a direct line one before another, grounds himself upon that division of the substance which Plato calls the division in length, making two parts (as it were) out of one, not four out of two. Then he says, that the interposition of the mediums ought to take place in that manner, to avoid the trouble and confusion which must arise from transferring out of the first duple into the first triple the intervals which are ordained for the supplement of both. . . . But as for those who take Crantor’s part, they so dispose their numbers as to place planes with planes, tetragons with tetragons, cubes with cubes, opposite to one another, not taking them in file, but alternatively odd to even. [Here is some great defect in the original.]

ModernGreek: 21. . . . Which, being in themselves permanently the same, afford the form and species; but being subject to corporeal division, they become the matter and subject to receive the other’s impression, the common mixture being completed out of both. Now the indivisible substance, which is always one and the same, is not to be thought to be incapable of division by reason of its smallness, like the most minute of bodies, called atoms. But as it is unmixed, Edition: current; Page: [350] and not to be any way affected, but pure and altogether of one sort, it is said not to consist of parts, but to be indivisible. By means of which purity, when it comes in any manner whatsoever to approach and gently touch compounded divisible and differing substances, all their variety ceases and they crowd together into one habit by sympathy and similitude. If now any one will call that substance which admits corporeal separation matter, as a nature subject to the former and partaking of it, the use of that equivocal term will nothing disadvantage our discourse. But they are under a mistake that believe the corporeal to be blended with the indivisible matter. First, for that Plato does not here make use of any one of its names; whereas in other places he calls it the receptacle and nurse, capable of both receiving and fostering the vast infinity of created beings; not divisible among bodies, but rather the body itself parted and divided into single individuals. Then again, what difference would there be between the creation of the world and that of the soul, if the composition of each proceeded from both matter and the intelligible essence? Certainly Plato, as endeavoring to separate the generation of the body from that of the soul, tells us that the corporeal part was by God seated and deposited within it, and that it was outwardly covered and enveloped by it; and after he had thus wrought the soul to its perfection out of proportion, he then proceeds to this argument concerning matter, of which he had no occasion to make mention before when he was producing the soul, as being that which had not its existence from matter.

ModernGreek: 22. The same may be said against the followers of Posidonius. For they seem not altogether to separate the soul from matter; but imagining the essence of limitations to be divisible in reference to bodies, and intermixing it with the intelligible essence, they defined the soul to be an idea Edition: current; Page: [351] (or essential form) of that which has extension in every direction, subsisting in an harmonical proportion of numbers. For (they say) all mathematical objects are disposed between the first intelligible and sensible beings; and since the soul contains the sempiternal nature of things intelligible and the pathetic nature of things subjected to sense, it seems but rational that it should consist of a substance between both. But they were ignorant that God, when the soul was already brought to perfection, afterwards making use of the limitations of bodies to form and shape the matter, confined and environed the dissipated and fleeting substance within the compass of certain surfaces composed of triangles adapted together. And it is even more absurd to make the soul an idea. For the soul is always in motion; the idea is incapable of motion; the one never to be mixed with that which is subjected to sense, the other wrought into the substance of the body. Moreover, God could be said only to imitate an idea, as his pattern; but he was the artificer of the soul, as of a work of perfection. Now enough has been already said to show that Plato does not assert number to be the substance of the soul, only that it is ordered and proportioned by number.

ModernGreek: 23. However this is a common argument against both the former opinions, that neither in corporeal limits nor in numbers there is the least footstep or appearance of that power by which the soul assumes to itself to judge of what is subject to sense. For it was the participation of the intelligible principle that endued it with understanding and the perceiving faculty. But as for opinion, belief, imagination, and its being affected with qualities relating to the body, no man could ever dream that they proceeded simply either from units, or lines, or surfaces. For not only the souls of mortals have a power to judge of what is subject to sense; but the soul of the world also, says Plato, “when it revolves upon itself, and happens once to touch upon any Edition: current; Page: [352] fluid and roving substance or upon any thing indivisible, then being moved throughout its whole self, it gives notice with what this or that thing is identical, to what heterogeneal, and in what relations especially and in what manner it happens to be and to be affected towards each created thing.”* Here he gives at the same time an intimation of the ten Categories or Predicaments; but afterwards he gives us a clearer manifestation of these things. “For when true reason,” says he, “is fixed upon what is subject to sense, and the circle of the Other, observing a just and equal motion, conveys its intelligence to the whole soul, then both opinion and belief become steadfast and certain; on the other side, when it is settled upon ratiocination, and the circle of the Same, turning readily and easily, furnishes its intimations, then of necessity knowledge arrives to perfection. And indeed, whoever shall affirm that any thing in which these two operations take place is any thing besides a soul, may deservedly be thought to speak any thing rather than the truth.”

From whence then does the soul enjoy this motion whereby it comprehends what is subject to sense, different from that other intelligible motion which ends in knowledge? This is a difficult task to resolve, unless we steadfastly assert that Plato here did not compose the soul, so singly considered, but the soul of the world also, of the parts above mentioned, — of the more worthy indivisible substance, and of the less worthy divisible in reference to bodies. And this soul of the world is no other than that motion which gives heat and vigor to thought and fancy, and sympathizes with what is subject to sense, not created, but existing from eternity, like the other soul. For Nature, which had the power of understanding, had also the power of opining. But the intelligible power is subject neither to motion nor affection, being established upon Edition: current; Page: [353] a substance that is still the same. The other is movable and fleeting, as being engaged to an unstable, fluctuating, and disunited matter. In regard the sensible substance was so far from any order, that it was without shape and boundless. So that the power which is fixed in this was capable of producing no clear and well-grounded notions and no certain or well-ordered movements, but only sleepy dreams and deliriums, which amuse and trouble corporeal stupidity; unless by accident they lighted upon the more worthy substance. For it was in the middle between the sensible and discerning faculty, and had a nature conformable and agreeable to both; from the sensible apprehending substance, and borrowing from judgment its power of discerning things intelligible.

ModernGreek: 24. And this the express words of Plato declare. “For this is my opinion,” saith he, “in short, that being, place, and generation were three distinct things even before the heavens were created.”* By place he means matter, as being the seat and receptacle; by being or existence, the intelligible nature; and by generation, the world not being yet created, he designs only that substance which was subject to change and motion, disposed between the forming cause and the thing formed, transmitting hither those shapes and figures which were there contrived and moulded. For which reason it was called divisible; there being a necessity of distributing sense to the sensitive, and imagination to the imaginative faculty. For the sensitive motion, being proper to the soul, directs itself to that which is outwardly sensible. As for the understanding, it was fixed and immovable of itself, but being settled in the soul and becoming its lord and governor, it turns upon itself, and accomplishes a circular motion about that which is always permanent, chiefly laboring to apply itself to the eternally durable substance. Edition: current; Page: [354] With great difficulty therefore did they admit a conjunction, till the divisible at length intermixing with the indivisible, and the restlessly hurried with the sleepy and motionless, constrained the Other to meet and join with the Same. Yet the Other was not motion, as neither was the Same stability, but the principle of distinction and diversity. For both the one and the other proceed from a different principle; the Same from the unit, the Other from the duad; and these were first intermixed with the soul, being fastened and bound together by number, proportion, and harmonical mediums; so that the Other being riveted into the Same begets diversity and disagreement; and the Same being fermented into the Other produces order. And this is apparent from the first powers of the soul, which are judgment and motion. Motion immediately shows itself in the heavens, giving us an example of diversity in identity by the circumvolution of the fixed stars, and of identity in diversity by the order of the planets. For in them the Same bears the chiefest sway; in terrestrial bodies, the contrary principle. Judgment has two principles, — understanding from the Same, to judge of things in general, and sense from the Other, to judge of things in particular. Reason is a mixture of both, becoming intellect in reference to things intelligible, and opinion in things subject to sense; making use of the interdisposed organs of imagination and memory, of which these in the Same produce the Other, and those in the Other make the Same. For understanding is the motion of the considerative faculty about that which is permanent and stable. Opinion is a continuance of the perceptive faculty upon that which is continually in motion. But as for fancy or imagination, being a connection of opinion with sense, the Same has placed it in the memory; and the Other moves it again in the difference between past and present, touching at the same time upon diversity and identity.

Edition: current; Page: [355]

ModernGreek: 25. But now let us take a draught of the corresponding composition of the soul from the structure of the body of the universe. There we find fire and earth, whose nature is such as not to admit of mixture one with another but with great difficulty, or rather is altogether obstinately refractory to mixture and constancy. God therefore, placing air and water in the middle between both, — the air next the fire, the water next the earth, — first of all tempered the middlemost one with another, and next, by the assistance of these two, he brought the two extreme elements not only to mix with the middlemost, but also to a mutual closure or conjunction between themselves. Then he drew together those contrary powers and opposing extremes, the Same and the Other, not immediately, the one adjoining to the other, but placing other substances between; the indivisible next the Same, and the divisible next the Other, disposing each to each in convenient order, and mixing the extremes with the middlemost. After which manner he interweaved and tissued the whole into the form and composition of the soul, completing, as far as it was possible, similitude out of things different and various, and one out of many. Therefore it is alleged by some, that Plato erroneously affirmed the nature of the Other to be an enemy to mixture, as being not only capable to receive it, but a friend of change. Whereas that should have been rather said of the nature of the Same; which, being stable and an utter adversary to mutability, is so far from an easy and willing condescension to mixture, that it flies and abhors it, to the end it may preserve itself pure and free from alteration. But they who make these objections against Plato betray their own ignorance, not understanding that the Same is the idea (or essential form) of those things that always continue in the same state and condition, and that the Other is the idea of those things which are subject to be variously affected; and that it is the Edition: current; Page: [356] peculiar nature of the one to disjoin and separate into many parts whatever it happens to lay hold upon, and of the other to cement and assimilate scattered substances, till they resume one particular form and efficacy.

ModernGreek: 26. And these are the powers and virtues of the soul of the universe. And when they once enter into the organs of corruptible bodies, being themselves incorruptible, there the form of the binary and boundless principle shows itself most briskly, while that of the unmixed and purer principle lies as it were dormant in obscurity. And thus it happens, that a man shall rarely observe any human passion or motion of the understanding, void of reason, where there shall not something appear either of desire or emulation, joy or grief. Several philosophers therefore will have the passions to be so many sorts of reasonings, seeing that desire, grief, and anger are all the effects of judgment. Others allege the virtues themselves to be derived from passions; fortitude depending on fear, temperance on voluptuousness, and justice on love of gain. Now the soul being both speculative and practical, contemplating as well generals as particulars, and seeming to comprehend the one by the assistance of the intellect and the other by the aid of sense, common reason, which encounters the Same in the Other and the Other in the Same, endeavors by certain limits and distinctions to separate one from many and the divisible from the indivisible; but she cannot accomplish her design nor be purely in one or the other, in regard the principles are so oddly interwoven and intermixed and confusedly huddled together.

For this reason did God constitute a receptacle for the Same and the Other, out of the indivisible and divisible substance, to the end there might be order in variety. Now this was generation. For without this the Same could have no variety, and therefore no motion or generation; and the Other could have no order, and therefore no consistence Edition: current; Page: [357] or generation. For should we grant the Same to be different from the Other, and the Other to be the Same with itself, such a commixture would produce nothing generative, but would want a third something, like matter, to receive both and be disposed of by both. And this is that matter which God first composed, when he bounded the movable nature of bodies by the steadfastness of things intelligible.

ModernGreek: 27. Now then, as voice, merely voice, is only an insignificant and brutish noise, but speech is the expression of the mind by significant utterance; as harmony consists of sounds and intervals, — a sound being always one and the same, and an interval being the difference and diversity of sounds, while both being mixed together produce air and melody; — thus the passive nature of the soul was without limits and unstable, but afterwards became determinate, when limits were set and a certain form was given to the divisible and manifold variety of motion. Thus having comprised the Same and the Other, by the similitudes and dissimilitudes of numbers which produce concord out of disagreement, it becomes the life of the world, sober and prudent, harmony itself, and reason overruling necessity mixed with persuasion. This necessity is by most men called fate or destiny, by Empedocles friendship and discord, by Heraclitus the opposite straining harmony of the world, as of a bow or harp, by Parmenides light and darkness, by Anaxagoras mind and infinity, by Zoroaster God and Daemon, naming one Oromasdes, the other Arimanius. Though as for Euripides, he makes use of the disjunctive erroneously for the copulative, where he says,

  • Jove, whether he be
  • Necessity, that Nature’s force controls,
  • Or the intelligence of human souls.

For, indeed, the powers which bear dominion over the Edition: current; Page: [358] universe are necessity and wisdom. This is that therefore which the Egyptians intimate in their fables, feigning that, when Horus was punished and dismembered, he bequeathed his spirit and blood to his father, but his flesh and his fat to his mother. There is no part of the soul which remains pure and unmixed, or separate from the rest; for, according to the opinion of Heraclitus, “harmony latent is of greater value than that which is visible,” as being that wherein the blending Deity concealed and sunk all varieties and dissimilitudes. Nevertheless, there appears in the irrational part a turbulent and boisterous temerity; in the rational part, an orderly and well-marshalled prudence; in the sensitive part, the constraint of necessity; but in the understanding, entire and perfect command of itself. The limiting and bounding power sympathizes with the whole and the indivisible, by reason of the nearness of their relations; on the other side, the dividing power fixes itself upon particulars, by virtue of the divisible substance; and the whole rejoices at the mutation of the Same by means of the Other, as occasion requires. In the like manner, the various inclinations of men to virtue and vice, to pleasure and toil, as also the enthusiasms and raptures of lovers, the combats of honor with lustful desires, plainly demonstrate the mixture of the divine and impassible with the moral and corporeal part; of which Plato himself calls the one concupiscence of pleasures, natural to ourselves; the other an opinion introduced from without, aspiring to the chiefest good. For passible qualities of the soul arise from herself; but she participates of understanding, as being infused from without, by the more worthy principle.

ModernGreek: 28. Nor is the celestial nature privileged from this double society and communion. For sometimes it is seen to incline one way or the other, but it is set right again by the more powerful revolution of the Same, and governs Edition: current; Page: [359] the world. Nay, there shall come a time, as it has happened already, when the world’s moving wisdom shall grow dull and drowsy, drowned in oblivion of its own duty; while that which is familiar and agreeable to the body from the beginning draws and winds back the righthand motion of the universe, causing the wheels to go slow and heavy. Yet shall it not be able to dash in pieces the whole movement, for that the better part, rousing and recollecting herself and observing the pattern and exemplar of God, shall with his aid reduce all things again into their former order. Thus it is demonstrable by many proofs, that the soul was not altogether the workmanship of the Deity, but that having in itself a certain portion of innate evil, it was by him digested and beautified who limited infinity by unity, to the end it might be a substance within the compass of certain limits; intermixing order and mutation, variety and resemblance, by the force of the Same and the Other; and lastly working into all these, as far as it was possible, a mutual community and friendship by the assistance of numbers and harmony.

ModernGreek: 29. Concerning which things, although you have heard frequent discourses, and have likewise read several arguments and disputes committed to writing upon the same subjects, it will not be amiss for me also to give a short account, after a brief repetition of Plato’s own words. “God,” said he, “in the first place withdrew one part from the whole; which done, he took away the double of that; then a third part, sesquialter in proportion to the second, and triple to the first; then a fourth part, double to the second; next a fifth part, being the triple of the third; then a sixth, eight times the first; and lastly a seventh, being twenty-seven times the first. This done, he filled up the duple and triple intervals, retrenching also from thence certain other particles, and placing them in the midst of those intervals; so that in every interval Edition: current; Page: [360] there might be two medieties, the one exceeding and being exceeded by one and the same part of the extremes, the other exceeding and being exceeded by the same number. Now in regard that from these connections in the first spaces there arose the intervals of sesquialters, sesquiterces, and sesquioctaves, he filled up all the sesquiterce intervals with sesquioctaves, leaving a part of each, so that the interval left of the part might bear the numerical proportion of 256 to 243.”*

Here the question will be first concerning the quantity, next concerning the order, and in the third place concerning the force and virtue of the numbers. As to the quantity, we are to consider which he takes in the double and triple intervals. As to the order, whether they are to be placed in one row, according to the direction of Theodorus, or (as Crantor will have them) in the form of a Λ, placing the unit at the top, and the duples and triples apart by themselves in two several files. Lastly, we are to examine of what use and virtue they are in the structure and composition of the soul.

ModernGreek: 30. As to the first, we shall relinquish the opinion of those who affirm that it is enough, in proportions, to consider the nature of the intervals, and of the medieties which fill up their vacancies; and that the demonstration can be made out for any numbers whatsoever that have spaces sufficient to receive the aforesaid proportions. For this being granted, it makes the demonstration obscure, without the help of schemes, and drives us from another theory, which carries with it a delight not unbecoming philosophy.


Beginning therefore from the unit, let us place the duples and triples apart; and there will be on the one side, 2, 4, 8; on the other 3, 9, 27; — seven numbers in all, proceeding forward by Edition: current; Page: [361] multiplication four steps from the unit, which is assumed as the common base. . . . For not only here, but upon other occasions, the sympathy of the quaternary number with the septenary is apparent. There is this peculiar to that tetractys or quaternary number thirty six, so much celebrated by the Pythagoreans, which is more particularly worthy admiration, — that it is composed of the first four even numbers and the first four odd numbers; and it is the fourth connection made of numbers put together in order. The first connection is of one and two; the second of odd numbers. . . . For placing the unit, which is common to both, before, he first takes eight and then twenty-seven, as it were pointing out with the finger where to place each particular sort.

[These places are so depraved in the original, that the sense is lost.]

But it belongs to others to explain these things more accurately and distinctly; while we content ourselves with only what remains, as peculiarly proper to the subject in hand.

ModernGreek: 31. For it was not out of vain-glory, to boast his skill in the mathematical sciences, that Plato inserted in a treatise of natural philosophy this discourse of harmonical and arithmetical medieties, but believing them both apt and convenient to demonstrate the structure and composition of the soul. For some there are who seek these proportions in the swift motions of the spheres of the planets; others rather in the distances, others in the magnitude of the stars; others, more accurate and nice in their enquiry, seek for the same proportions in the diameters of the epicycles; as if the Supreme Architect, for the sake of these, had adapted the soul, divided into seven parts, to the celestial bodies. Many also there are, who hither transfer the inventions of the Pythagoreans, tripling the distances of bodies from the middle. This is done by placing the unit next the fire; three next the Antichthon, Edition: current; Page: [362] or earth which is opposite to our earth; nine next the Earth; 27 next the Moon; 81 next to Mercury; 243 upon Venus; and 729 upon the Sun. The last (729) is both a tetragonal and cubical number, whence it is, that they also call the sun a tetragon and a cube. By this way of tripling they also reduce the other stars to proportion. But these people may be thought to dote and to wander very much from reason, if there by any use of geometrical demonstration, since by their mistakes we find that the most probable proofs proceed from thence; and although geometers do not always make out their positions exactly, yet they approach the nearest to truth when they say that the diameter of the sun, compared with the diameter of the earth, bears the proportion of 12 to 1; while the diameter of the earth to that of the moon carries a triple proportion. And for that which appears to be the least of the fixed stars, the diameter of it is no less than the third part of the diameter of the earth, and the whole globe of the earth to the whole globe of the moon is as twenty-seven to one. The diameters of Venus and the earth bear a duple, the globes or spheres of both an octave proportion. The width of the shadow which causes an eclipse holds a triple proportion to the diameter of the moon; and the deviation of the moon from the middle of the signs, either to the one or the other side, is a twelfth part. Her positions as to the sun, either in triangular or quadrangular distances, give her the form when she appears as in the first quarter and gibbous; but when she comes to be quite round, that is, when she has run through half the signs, she then makes (as it were) a kind of diapason harmony with six notes. But in regard the motions of the sun are slowest when he arrives at the solstices, and swiftest when he comes to the equinoxes, by which he takes from the day or adds to the night, the proportion holds thus. For the first thirty days after the winter solstice, he adds to the day a sixth part of Edition: current; Page: [363] the length whereby the longest night exceeds the shortest; the next thirty days he adds a third part; to all the rest till the equinox he adds a half; and so by sextuple and triple distances he makes even the irregularity of time.

Moreover, the Chaldaeans make the spring to hold the proportion of a diatessaron to autumn; of a diapente to the winter, and of a diapason to the summer. But if Euripides rightly divides the year, where he says,

  • Four months the parching heats of summer reign,
  • And four of hoary winter’s cold complain;
  • Two months doth vernal pride the fields array,
  • And two months more to autumn tribute pay,

then the seasons shall be said to change in octave proportion.

Others there are, who fancy the earth to be in the lowest string of the harp, called proslambanomenos; and so proceeding, they place the moon in hypate, Mercury and Venus in the diatoni and lichani; the sun they likewise place in mese, as in the midst of the diapason, a fifth above the earth and a fourth from the sphere of the fixed stars.

ModernGreek: 32. But neither doth this pleasant conceit of the latter come near the truth, neither do the former attain perfect accuracy. However, they who will not allow the latter to depend upon Plato’s sentiments will yet grant the former to partake of musical proportions; so that, there being five tetrachords, called ὑπάτων, μέσων, συνημμένων, διεζευγμένων, and ὑπεϱβολαίων, in these five distances they place all the planets; making the first tetrachord from the Moon to the Sun and the planets which move with the Sun, that is, Mercury and Venus; the next from the Sun to the fiery planet of Mars; the third between this and Jupiter; the fourth from thence to Saturn; and the fifth from Saturn to the sphere of the fixed stars. So that the sounds and notes which bound the five tetrachords bear the same proportion with the intervals Edition: current; Page: [364] of the planets. Still further, we know that the ancient musicians had two notes called hypate, three called nete, one mese, and one paramese, thus confining their scale to seven standing notes, equal in number to the number of the planets. But the moderns, adding the proslambanomenos, which is a full tone in descent from hypate, have multiplied the scheme into the double diapason, and thereby confounded the natural order of the concords; for the diapente happens to be before the diatessaron, with the addition of the whole tone in the bass. Whereas Plato makes his addition in the upper part; for in his Republic* he says, that every one of the eight spheres rolls about a Siren which is fixed upon each of the tuneful globes, and that they all sing one counterpoint without diversity of modulation, taking every one their peculiar concords, which together complete a melodious consort.

These Sirens sing for their pleasure divine and heavenly tunes, and accompany their sacred circuit and dance with an harmonious song of eight notes. Nor was there necessity of a fuller chorus, in regard that within the confines of eight notes lay the first bounds and limits of all duple and triple proportions; the unit being added to both the even and odd numbers. And certainly from hence it was that the ancients raised their invention of nine Muses; of which eight were employed in celestial affairs, as Plato said; the ninth was to take care of things terrestrial, and to reduce and reform the inequality and confusion of error and jarring variance.

ModernGreek: 33. Now then consider whether the soul does not roll and turn and manage the heavens and the celestial bodies by means of those harmonious concords and equal motions that are wrought and fermented within her, being herself most wise and most just. And such she became by virtue of harmonical proportions, whose images representing Edition: current; Page: [365] things incorporeal are imprinted into the discernible and visible parts and bodies of the world. But the chief and most predominating power is visibly mixed in the soul, which renders her harmonious and obedient to herself, the other parts unanimously yielding to her as the most supreme and the divinest part of all. For the Sovereign Artificer and Creator finding a strange disorder and erroneous confusion in the motions of the decomposed and unruly soul, which was still at variance with herself, some things he divided and separated, others he brought together and reconciled to a mutual sympathy, making use of harmony and numbers. By virtue of which, the slightest and meanest of insensible substances, even stocks and stones, the rinds of trees, and sometimes even the rennets of beasts, by various mixtures, compositions, and temperatures, may become the charming objects of the sight, or afford most pleasing perfumes and wholesome medicaments for the relief of mankind, or be wrought and hollowed to send forth pleasing musical sounds. And for this reason it was that Zeno of Citium encouraged and persuaded youth to frequent the theatres, there to observe the variety of melodious sounds that proceeded from horns or cornets, wooden hautboys, flutes and reeds, or any other musical instruments to which the contrivance of art had rightly applied the reason of number and proportion. Not that we will here maintain, with the Pythagoreans, that all things resemble number, for that requires a long discourse to prove it. But where mutual society and sympathy arise out of discord and dissimilitude, that the cause of this is moderation and order, produced by the power of harmony and number, was a thing not concealed even from the poets. And these give to what is friendly and kind the epithet “evenly fitted;” while, on the other side, men of rugged and malicious dispositions they called “unevenly tempered,” as if enmity and discord were nothing but a Edition: current; Page: [366] sort of a disproportion. For this reason, he who writes Pindar’s elegy gives him this encomium,

To foreigners agreeable, to citizens a friend;*

the poet plainly inferring complacency of humor and the aptitude of a person to fit himself to all tempers to be an excellency aspiring to virtue itself. Which Pindar himself also testifies, saying of Cadmus, that he listened to true music from Apollo himself. Nor must we believe that the theologists, who were the most ancient philosophers, ordered the pictures and statues of the Gods to be made with musical instruments in their hands because they thought the Gods no better than pipers or harpers, but to signify that no work was so becoming to the Gods as accord and harmony.

Now then, as it would be absurd and ridiculous for any man to search for sesquiterces, sesquialters, and duples in the neck, or belly, or sides of a lute or harp, — though every one of these must also be allowed their symmetry of length and thickness, — the harmony and proportion of concords being to be sought for in the sound; so it is most probable that the bodies of the stars, the distances of spheres, and the swiftness of the motions and revolutions, have their sundry proportions, as well one to another as to the whole fabric, like instruments of music well set and tuned, though the measure of the quantity be unknown to us. However, we are to imagine that the principal effect and efficacy of these numbers and proportions, which the Supreme Architect made use of, is that same agreement, harmony, and consent of the soul with itself, by means of which she replenished the heavens themselves, when she came to actuate and perform her office there, with so Edition: current; Page: [367] many infinite beauties, and by which she governs the earth by virtue of the several seasons, and other alterations wisely and artificially measured and varied as well for the generation as preservation of all terrestrial productions.

Edition: current; Page: [368]


ModernGreek: 1. The resolution which you have taken to enter into the friendship and familiarity of Sorcanus, that by the frequent opportunities of conversing with him you may cultivate and improve a soil which gives such early promises of a plentiful harvest, is an undertaking which will not only oblige his relations and friends, but redound very much to the advantage of the public; and (notwithstanding the peevish censures of some morose or ignorant people) it is so far from being an argument of an aspiring and vain-glorious temper, that it shows you to be a lover of virtue and good manners, and a zealous promoter of the common interest of mankind.

They themselves are rather to be accused of an indirect but more vehement sort of ambition, who would not upon any terms be found in the company ar so much as be seen to give a civil salute to a person of quality. For how unreasonable would it be to enforce a well-disposed young Edition: current; Page: [369] gentleman, and one who needs the direction of a wise governor, to such complaints as these: “Would that I might change myself from a Pericles or a Cato to a cobbler like Simon or a grammarian like Dionysius, that I might like them have the conversation of such a man as Socrates, enjoy his company, and hear his instructive lessons of morality.”

So far, I am sure, was Aristo of Chios from being of their humor, that when he was censured for exposing and prostituting the dignity of philosophy by his freedom to all comers, he answered, that he could wish that Nature had given understanding to wild beasts, that they too might be capable of being his hearers. Shall we then deny that privilege to men of interest and power, which this good man would have communicated (if it had been possible) to the brute beasts? But these men have taken a false notion of philosophy, they make it much like the art of statuary, whose business it is to carve out a lifeless image in the most exact figure and proportions, and then to raise it upon its pedestal, where it is to continue for ever. The true philosophy is of a quite different nature; it is a spring and principle of motion wherever it comes; it makes men active and industrious, it sets every wheel and faculty a going, it stores our minds with axioms and rules by which to make a sound judgment, it determines the will to the choice of what is honorable and just; and it wings all our faculties to the swiftest prosecution of it. It is accompanied with an elevation and nobleness of mind, joined with a coolness and sweetness of behavior, and backed with a becoming assurance and inflexible resolution. And from this diffusiveness of the nature of good it follows, that the best and most accomplished men are inclined to converse with persons of the highest condition. Indeed a physician, if he have any good nature and sense of honor, would be more ready to cure an eye Edition: current; Page: [370] which is to see and watch for a great many thousands, than that of a private person; how much more then ought a philosopher to form and fashion, to rectify and cure the soul of such a one, who is (if I may so express it) to inform the body politic, — who is to think and understand for so many others, to be in so great measure the rule of reason, the standard of law, and model of behavior, by which all the rest will square and direct their actions? Suppose a man to have a talent at finding out springs and contriving of aqueducts (a piece of skill for which Hercules and other of the ancients are much celebrated in history), surely he could not so satisfactorily employ himself in sinking a well or deriving water to some private seat or contemptible cottage, as in supplying conduits to some fair and populous city, in relieving an army just perishing with thirst, or in refreshing and adorning with fountains and cool streams the beautiful gardens of some glorious monarch. There is a passage of Homer very pertinent to this purpose, in which he calls Minos Διὸς μεγάλου ὀαϱιστήν, which, as Plato interprets it, signifies the disciple and companion of Jupiter. For it were beneath his dignity indeed to teach private men, such as care only for a family or indulge their useless speculations; but kings are scholars worthy the tuition of a God, who, when they are well advised, just, good, and magnanimous, never fail to procure the peace and prosperity of all their subjects. The naturalists tell us that the eryngium hath such a property with it, that if one of the flock do but taste it, all the rest will stand stock still in the same place till the shepherd hath taken it out of its mouth. Such quickness of action does it have, pervading and spreading itself over every thing that is near it, as if it were fire. The effects of philosophy, however, are different according to the difference of inclinations in men. If indeed it lights on one who loves a dull and Edition: current; Page: [371] inactive sort of life, that makes himself the centre and the little conveniences of life the circumference of all his thoughts, such a one does contract the sphere of her activity, so that having only made easy and comfortable the life of a single person, it fails and dies with him; but when it finds a man of a ruling genius, one fitted for conversation and able to grapple with the difficulties of public business, if it once possess him with principles of honesty, honor, and religion, it takes a compendious method, by doing good to one, to oblige a great part of mankind. Such was the effect of the conversation of Anaxagoras with Pericles, of Plato with Dion, and of Pythagoras with the principal statesmen of all Italy. Cato himself took a voyage, when he had the concern of an expedition lying upon him, to see and hear Athenodorus; and Scipio sent for Panaetius, when he was commissioned by the senate “to take a survey alike of the outrages and the good order which were practised in their provinces,”* as Posidonius observes. Now what a pretty sort of return would it have been in Panaetius to send word back, — “If indeed you were in a private capacity, John a Nokes or John a Stiles, that had a mind to get into some obscure corner or cell, to state cases and resolve syllogisms, I should very gladly have accepted your invitation; but now, because you are the son of Paulus Aemilius who was twice consul, and grandson of that Scipio who was surnamed from his conquest of Hannibal and Africa, I cannot with honor hold any conversation with you!”

ModernGreek: 2. The objections which they bring from the two kinds of discourse, one of which is mental, the other expressed in words or interpretative of the former, are so stale and pedantical, that they are best answered by laughter or silence; and we merely quote the old saying, “I knew Edition: current; Page: [372] this before Theognis was born.” However, thus much shall be said, that the end of them both is friendship, — in the first case with ourselves, in the second case with another. For he that hath attained to virtue by the methods of philosophy hath his mind all in tune and good temper; he is not struck with those reproaches of conscience, which cause the acutest sense of pain and are the natural punishments of our follies; but he enjoys (the great prerogative of a good man) to be always easy and in amity with himself.

  • No factious lusts reason’s just power control,
  • Nor kindle civil discord in his soul.

His passion does not stand in defiance to his reason, nor do his reasonings cross and thwart one the other, but he is always consistent with himself. But the very joys of wicked men are tumultuary and confused, like those who dwell in the borders of two great empires at variance, always insecure, and in perpetual alarms; whilst a good man enjoys an uninterrupted peace and serenity of mind, which excels the other not only in duration, but in sense of pleasure too. As for the other sort of discourse, that which consists in expression of itself to others, Pindar says very well, that it was not mercenary in old time, nor indeed is it so now; but by the baseness and ambition of a few it is made use of to serve their poor secular interests. For if the poets represent Venus herself as much offended with those who make a trade and traffic of the passion of love, how much more reasonably may we suppose that Urania and Clio and Calliope have an indignation against those who set learning and philosophy to sale? Certainly the gifts and endowments of the Muses ought to be privileged from such mean considerations.

If indeed some have made fame and reputation one of the ends of their studies, they used it only as an instrument to get friends; since we find by common observation that Edition: current; Page: [373] men praise only those whom they love. If they sought its own praise, they were as much mistaken as Ixion when he embraced a cloud instead of Juno; for there is nothing so fleeting, so changeable, and so inconstant as popular applause; it is but a pompous shadow, and hath no manner of solidity and duration in it. But a wise man, if he design to engage in business and matters of state, will so far aim at fame and popularity as that he may be better enabled to benefit others; for it is a difficult and very unpleasant task to do good to those who are disaffected to our persons. It is the good opinion men have of us which disposes men to give credit to our doctrine. As light is a greater good to those who see others by it than to those who only are seen, so is honor of a greater benefit to those who behold it than to those whose glory is beheld. But even one who withdraws himself from the noise of the world, who loves privacy and indulges his own thoughts, will show that respect to the good word of the people which Hippolytus did to Venus, — though he abstain from her mysteries, he will pay his devotions at a distance;* but he will not be so cynical and sullen as not to hear with gladness the commendations of virtuous men like himself; he will neither engage himself in a restless pursuit of wealth, interest, or honor, nor will he on the other hand be so rustic and insensible as to refuse them in a moderate degree, when they fairly come in his way; in like manner he will not court and follow handsome and beautiful youth, but will rather choose such as are of a teachable disposition, of a gentle behavior, and lovers of learning. The charms and graces of youth will not make a philosopher shy of their conversation, when the endowments of their minds are answerable to the features of their bodies. The case is the same when greatness of place and fortune concur with a well-disposed mind in the same person; he will not Edition: current; Page: [374] therefore forbear loving and respecting such a one, nor be afraid of the name of a courtier, nor think it a curse that such attendance and dependence should be his fate.

  • They that strive most Dame Venus to eschew
  • Do fault as much as they who her pursue.*

The application is easy to the matter in hand.

A philosopher therefore, if he is of a retired humor, will not shun such persons; while one who generously designs his studies for the public advantage will cheerfully embrace their advances of friendship, will not force them after a troublesome manner to hear him, will lay aside his scholastical terms and distinctions, and will rejoice to discourse and pass his time with them when they are willing and disposed.

  • ModernGreek: 3. I plough the spacious Berecynthian fields,
  • Full six days’ journey wide,

says one boastingly in the poet; the same man, if he were as much a lover of mankind as of husbandry, would much rather bestow his pains on such a farm, the fruits of which would serve a great number, than to be always dressing the olive-yard of some cynical malecontent, which, when all was done, would scarce yield oil enough to dress a salad or to supply his lamp in the long winter evenings. Epicurus himself, who places happiness in the profoundest quiet and sluggish inactivity, as the only secure harbor from the storms of this troublesome world, could not but confess that it is both more noble and delightful to do than to receive a kindness; for there is nothing which produces so humane and genuine a sort of pleasure as that of doing good. He who first gave the names to the three Graces well Edition: current; Page: [375] understood this, for they all signify delectation and joy,* and these surely are far greater and purer in him who does the good turn. This is so evidently true, that we all receive good turns blushing and with some confusion, but we are always gay and well pleased when we are conferring one.

If then it is so pleasant to do good to a few, how are their hearts dilated with joy who are benefactors to whole cities, provinces, and kingdoms? And such benefactors are they who instil good principles into those upon whom so many millions do depend. On the other hand, those who debauch the minds of great men — as sycophants, false informers, and flatterers, worse than both, manifestly do — are the centre of all the curses of a nation, as men who do not only infuse deadly poison into the cistern of a private house, but into the public springs of which so many thousands are to drink. The people therefore laughed at the hangers-on of Callias, whom, as Eupolis says, neither fire nor brass nor steel could keep from supping with him; but as for the favorites of those execrable tyrants Apollodorus, Phalaris, and Dionysius, they racked them, they flayed them alive, they roasted them at slow fires, they looked on them as the very pests of society and disgraces of human nature; for to debauch a simple person is indeed an ill thing, but to corrupt a prince is an infinite mischief. In like manner, he who instructs an ordinary man makes him to pass his life decently and with comfort; but he who instructs a prince, by correcting his errors and clearing his understanding, is a philosopher for the public, by rectifying the very mould and model by which whole nations are formed and regulated. It is the custom of all nations to pay a peculiar honor and deference to their priests; and the reason of it is, because they do not only pray for good things for themselves, their own families and friends, but Edition: current; Page: [376] for whole communities, for the whole state of mankind. Yet we are not so fond as to think that the priests cause the Gods to be givers of good things, or inspire a vein of beneficence into them; but they only make their supplications to a being which of itself is inclinable to answer their requests. But in this a good tutor hath the privilege above the priests, — he effectually renders a prince more disposed to actions of justice, moderation, and mercy, and therefore hath a greater satisfaction of mind when he reflects upon it.

ModernGreek: 4. For my own part, I cannot but think that an ordinary mechanic — for instance, a maker of musical instruments — would be much more attentive and pleased at his work, if he knew that his harp would be touched by the famous Amphion, and in his hand serve for the builder of Thebes, or if that Thales had bespoke it, who was so great a master that by the force of his music he pacified a popular tumult amongst the Lacedaemonians. A good-natured shipwright would ply his work more heartily, if he were making the steerage for the admiral galley of Themistocles when he fought for the liberty of Greece, or of Pompey when he went on his expedition against the pirates: what ecstasy of delight then must a philosopher be in, when he reflects that his scholar is a man of authority, a prince or great potentate, that he is employed in so public a work, giving laws to him who is to give laws to a whole nation, who is to punish vice, and to reward the virtuous with riches and honor? The builder of the Argo certainly would have been mightily pleased, if he had known what noble mariners were to row in his ship, and that at last she should be translated into heaven; and a carpenter would not be half so much pleased to make a coach or plough, as to make the tablets on which Solon’s laws were to be engraved. In like manner the discourses and rules of philosophy, being once deeply stamped and imprinted on the minds of great Edition: current; Page: [377] personages, will stick so close, that the prince shall seem no other than justice incarnate and animated law. This was the design of Plato’s voyage into Sicily, — he hoped that the lectures of his philosophy would serve for laws to Dionysius, and bring his affairs again into a good posture. But the soul of that unfortunate prince was like paper scribbled all over with the characters of vice; its piercing and corroding quality had stained quite through, and sunk into the very substance of his soul. Whereas, if such persons are to profit by sage lessons, they must be taken when they are at full speed.

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caphisias, timotheus, archidamus, children of archinus, lysithides, other companions.

ModernGreek: 1. I heard lately, Caphisias, a neat saying of a painter, comprised in a similitude upon those that came to view his pictures. For he said, the ignorant and unskilful were like those that saluted a whole company together, but the curious and knowing like those that complimented each single person; for the former take no exact, but only one general view of the performance; but those that with judgment examine part by part take notice of every stroke that is either well or ill done in the whole picture. The duller and lazy sort are abundantly satisfied with a short account and upshot of any business. But he that is of a generous and noble temper, that is fitted to be a spectator of virtue, as of a curious piece of art, is more delighted with the particulars. For, upon a general view, much of fortune is discovered; but when the particulars are examined, then appear the art and contrivance, the boldness in conquering intervening accidents, and the reason that was mixed with and tempered the heat and fury of the undertakers. Suppose us to be of this sort, and give us an account of the whole design, how from the very beginning it was carried on, what company you kept, and what particular discourse you had that day; — a thing so much desired, that I protest I would willingly go to Thebes to be Edition: current; Page: [379] informed, did not the Athenians already suspect me to lean too much to the Boeotian interest.


Indeed Archidamus, your kind eagerness after this story is so obliging, that, putting myself above all business (as Pindar says), I should have come on purpose to give you a relation. But since I am now come upon an embassy, and have nothing to do until I receive an answer to my memorial, to be uncivil and not to satisfy the request of an obliging friend would revive the old reproach that hath been cast upon the Boeotians for morose sullenness and hating good discourse, a reproach which began to die in the time of Socrates. But as for the rest of the company, pray sir, are they at leisure to hear such a story? — for I must be very long, since you enjoin me to add the particular discourses that passed between us.


You do not know the men, Caphisias, though they are worthy your acquaintance; men of good families, and no enemies to you. This is Lysithides, Thrasybulus’s nephew; this Timotheus, the son of Conon; these Archinus’s sons; and all the rest my very good acquaintance, so that you need not doubt a favorable and obliging audience.


Very well; but where shall I begin the story? How much of these affairs are you acquainted with already?


We know, Caphisias, how matters stood at Thebes before the exiles returned, — how Archias, Leontidas, and their associates, having persuaded Phoebidas the Spartan in the time of peace to surprise that castle, banished some of the citizens, awed others, took the power into their own hands, and tyrannized against all equity and law. We understood Melon’s and Pelopidas’s designs, having (as you know) entertained them, and having conversed with them ever since they were banished. We knew likewise that the Spartans fined Phoebidas for taking Edition: current; Page: [380] the Cadmea, and in their expedition to Olynthus cashiered him; but sent a stronger garrison, under Lysinoridas and two more, to command the castle; and further, that Ismenias presently after his trial was basely murdered. For Gorgidas wrote constantly to the exiles, and sent them all the news; so that you have nothing to do but only to inform us in the particulars of your friends’ return and the seizing of the tyrants.

ModernGreek: 2.

In those days, Archidamus, all that were concerned in the design, as often as our business required, used to meet at Simmias’s house, who then lay lame of a blow upon his shin. This we covered with a pretence of meeting for improvement and philosophical discourse, and, to take off all suspicion, we many times invited Archias and Leontidas, who were not altogether averse to such conversation. Besides, Simmias, having been a long time abroad and conversant with different nations, was lately returned to Thebes, full of all sorts of stories and strange relations. To him Archias, when free from business, would resort with the youth of Thebes, and sit and hear with a great deal of delight; being better pleased to see us mind philosophy and learning than their illegal actions. Now the same day in which it was agreed that about night the exiles should come privately to town, a messenger, whom none of us all but Charon knew, came from them by Pherenicus’s order, and told us that twelve of the youngest of the exiles were now hunting on the mountain Cithaeron, and designed to come at night, and that he was sent to deliver this and to know in whose house they should be received, that as soon as they entered they might go directly thither. This startling us, Charon put an end to all our doubts by offering to receive them in his house. With this answer the messenger returned.

ModernGreek: 3. But Theocritus the soothsayer, grasping me by the hand, and looking on Charon that went just before us, said: Edition: current; Page: [381] That Charon, Caphisias, is no philosopher, nor so general nor so acute a scholar as thy brother Epaminondas, and yet you see that, Nature leading him, under the direction of the law, to noble actions, he willingly ventures on the greatest danger for the benefit of his country; but Epaminondas, who thinks he knows more of virtue than any of the Boeotians, is dull and inactive; and though opportunity presents, though there cannot be a fairer occasion, and though he is fitted to embrace it, yet he refuseth to join, and will not make one in this generous attempt. And I replied: Courageous Theocritus, we do what upon mature deliberation we have approved, but Epaminondas, being of a contrary opinion and thinking it better not to take this course, rationally complies with his judgment, whilst he refuseth to meddle in those matters which his reason upon our desire cannot approve, and to which his nature is averse. Nor can I think it prudent to force a physician to use fire and a lancet, that promiseth to cure the disease without them. What, said Theocritus, doth he not approve of our method? No, I replied, he would have no citizens put to death without a trial at law; but if we would endeavor to free our country without slaughter and bloodshed, none would more readily comply; but since we slight his reasons and follow our own course, he desires to be excused, to be guiltless of the blood and slaughter of his citizens, and to be permitted to watch an opportunity when he may deliver his country according to equity and right. For this action may go too far, Pherenicus, it is true, and Pelopidas may assault the bad men and the oppressors of the people; but Eumolpidas and Samidas, men of extraordinary heat and violence, prevailing in the night, will hardly sheathe their swords until they have filled the whole city with slaughter and cut in pieces many of the chief men.

ModernGreek: 4. Anaxidorus, overhearing this discourse of mine to Edition: current; Page: [382] Theocritus (for he was just by), bade us be cautious, for Archias with Lysanoridas the Spartan were coming from the castle directly towards us. Upon this advice we left off; and Archias, calling Theocritus aside together with Lysanoridas, privately discoursed him a long while, so that we were very much afraid lest they had some suspicion or notice of our design, and examined Theocritus about it. In the mean time Phyllidas (you know him, Archidamus) who was then secretary to Archias the general, who knew of the exiles coming and was one of the associates, taking me by the hand, as he used to do, before the company, found fault with the late exercises and wrestling he had seen; but afterwards leading me aside, he enquired after the exiles, and asked whether they were resolved to be punctual to the day. And upon my assuring that they were, then he replied, I have very luckily provided a feast to-day to treat Archias, make him drunk, and then deliver him an easy prey to the invaders. Excellently contrived, Phyllidas, said I, and prithee endeavor to draw all or most of our enemies together. That, said he, is very hard, nay, rather impossible; for Archias, being in hopes of the company of some noble women there, will not yield that Leontidas should be present, so that it will be necessary to divide the associates into two companies, that we may surprise both the houses. For, Archias and Leontidas being taken off, I suppose the others will presently fly, or staying make no stir, being very well satisfied if they can be permitted to be safe and quiet. So, said I, we will order it; but about what, I wonder, are they discoursing with Theocritus? And Phyllidas replied, I cannot certainly tell, but I have heard that some omens and oracles portend great disasters and calamities to Sparta; and perhaps they consult him about those matters. Theocritus had just left them, when Phidolaus the Haliartian meeting us said: Simmias would have you stay here a little while, for he is Edition: current; Page: [383] interceding with Leontidas for Amphitheus, and begs that instead of dying, according to the sentence, he may be banished.

ModernGreek: 5. Well, said Theocritus, this happens very opportunely, for I had a mind to ask what was seen and what found in Alcmena’s tomb lately opened amongst you, for perhaps, sir, you were present when Agesilaus sent to fetch the relics to Sparta. And Phidolaus replied: Indeed I was not present at the opening of the grave, for I was not delegated, being extremely concerned and very angry with my fellow-citizens for permitting it to be done. There were found no relics of a body; but a small brazen bracelet, and two earthen pipkins full of earth, which now by length of time was grown very hard and petrified. Upon the monument there was a brazen plate full of strange, because very ancient, letters; for though, when the plate was washed, all the strokes were very easily perceived, yet nobody could make any thing of them; for they were a particular, barbarous, and very like the Egyptian character. And therefore Agesilaus, as the story goes, sent a transcript of them to the king of Egypt, desiring him to show them to the priests, and if they understood them, to send him the meaning and interpretation. But perhaps in this matter Simmias can inform us, for at that time he studied their philosophy and frequently conversed with the priests upon that account. The Haliartii believe the great scarcity and overflowing of the pool that followed were not effects of chance, but a particular judgment upon them for permitting the grave to be opened. And Theocritus, after a little pause, said: Nay, there seem some judgments to hang over the Lacedaemonians themselves, as those omens about which Lysanoridas just now discoursed me portend. And now he is gone to Haliartus to fill up the grave again, and, as the oracle directs, to make some oblations to Alcmena and Aleus; but who this Aleus Edition: current; Page: [384] is, he cannot tell. And as soon as he returns, he must endeavor to find the sepulchre of Dirce, which not one of the Thebans themselves, besides the captains of the horse, knows; for he that goes out of his office leads his successor to the place alone, and in the dark; there they offer some sacrifices, but without fire, and leaving no mark behind them, they separate from one another, and come home again in the dark. So that I believe, Phidolaus, it will be no easy matter for him to discover it. For most of those that have been duly elected to that office are now in exile; nay, all besides Gorgidas and Plato; and they will never ask those, for they are afraid of them. And our present officers are invested in the castle with the spear only and the seal, but know nothing of the tomb, and cannot direct him.

ModernGreek: 6. Whilst Theocritus was speaking, Leontidas and his friends went out; and we going in saluted Simmias, sitting upon his couch, very much troubled because his petition was denied. He, looking up upon us, cried out: Good God! The savage barbarity of these men! And was it not an excellent remark of Thales, who, when his friends asked him, upon his return from his long travels, what strange news he brought home, replied, “I have seen a tyrant an old man.” For even he that hath received no particular injury, yet disliking their stiff pride and haughty carriage, becomes an enemy to all lawless and unaccountable powers. But Heaven perhaps will take these things into consideration. But, Caphisias, do you know that stranger that came lately hither, who he is? And I replied, I do not know whom you mean. Why, said he, Leontidas told me that there was a man at night seen to rise out of Lysis’s tomb, with great pomp and a long train of attendants, and that he had lodged there all night upon beds made of leaves and boughs; for the next morning such were discovered there, with some relics of burnt Edition: current; Page: [385] sacrifices and some milk-oblations; and that in the morning he enquired of every one he met, whether he should find Polymnis’s sons at home. I wonder, said I, who it is, for by your description I guess him to be no mean man.

ModernGreek: 7. Well, said Phidolaus, when he comes we will entertain him; but at the present, Simmias, if you know any thing more of those letters about which we were talking, pray let us have it; for it is said that the Egyptian priests took into consideration the writing of a certain table which Agesilaus had from us when he opened Alcmena’s tomb. As for the table, replied Simmias, I know nothing of it; but Agetoridas the Spartan came to Memphis with letters from Agesilaus to Chonouphis the priest, whilst I, Plato, and Ellopio the Peparethian, studied together at his house. He came by order of the king, who enjoined Chonouphis, if he understood the writing, to send him the interpretation with all speed. And he in three days’ study, having collected all the different sorts of characters that could be found in the old books, wrote back to the king and likewise told us, that the writing enjoined the Greeks to institute games in honor of the Muses; that the characters were such as were used in the time of Proteus, and that Hercules, the son of Amphitryo, then learned them; and that the Gods by this admonished the Greeks to live peaceably and at quiet, to contend in philosophy to the honor of the Muses, and, laying aside their arms, to determine what is right and just by reason and discourse. We then thought that Chonouphis spoke right; and that opinion was confirmed when, as we were sailing from Egypt, about Caria some Delians met us, who desired Plato, being well skilled in geometry, to solve an odd oracle lately delivered by Apollo. The oracle was this: “Then the Delians and all the other Greeks should enjoy some respite from their present evils, when they had doubled the altar at Delos.” They, not comprehending Edition: current; Page: [386] the meaning of the words, after many ridiculous endeavors (for each of the sides being doubled, they had framed a body, instead of twice, eight times as big) made application to Plato to clear the difficulty. He, calling to mind what the Egyptian had told him, said that the God was merry upon the Greeks, who despised learning; that he severely reflected on their ignorance, and admonished them to apply themselves to the deepest parts of geometry; for this was not to be done by a dull short-sighted intellect, but one exactly skilled in the natures and properties of lines; it required skill to find the true proportion by which alone a body of a cubic figure can be doubled, all its dimensions being equally increased. He said that Eudoxus the Cnidian or Helico the Cyzicenian might do this for them; but that was not the thing desired by the God; for by this oracle he enjoined all the Greeks to leave off war and contention, and apply themselves to study, and, by learning and arts moderating the passions, to live peaceably with one another, and profit the community.

ModernGreek: 8. Whilst Simmias was speaking, my father Polymnis came in, and sitting down by him said: Epaminondas desires you and the rest of the company, unless some urgent business requires your attendance, to stay for him here a little while, designing to bring you acquainted with this stranger, who is a very worthy man; and the design upon which he comes is very genteel and honorable. He is a Pythagorean of the Italian sect, and comes hither to make some offerings to old Lysis at his tomb, according to divers dreams and very notable appearances that he hath seen. He hath brought a good sum of money with him, and thinks himself bound to satisfy Epaminondas for keeping Lysis in his old age; and is very eager, though we are neither willing nor desire him, to relieve his poverty. And Simmias, glad at this news, replied: You tell me, sir, Edition: current; Page: [387] of a wonderful man and worthy professor of philosophy; but why doth he not come directly to us? I think, said my father, he lay all night at Lysis’s tomb; and therefore Epaminondas hath now led him to the Ismenus to wash; and when that is done, they will be here. For before he came to our house, he lodged at the tomb, intending to take up the relics of the body and transport them into Italy, if some genius at night should not advise him to forbear.

ModernGreek: 9. As soon as my father had ended this discourse, Galaxidorus cried out: Good Gods! how hard a matter is it to find a man pure from vanity and superstition! For some are betrayed into those fooleries by their ignorance and weakness; others, that they may be thought extraordinary men and favorites of Heaven, refer all their actions to some divine admonition pretending dreams, visions, and the like surprising fooleries for every thing they do. This method indeed is advantageous to those that intend to settle a commonwealth, or are forced to keep themselves up against a rude and ungovernable multitude; for by this bridle of superstition they might manage and reform the vulgar; but these pretences seem not only unbecoming philosophy, but quite opposite to all those fine promises she makes. For having promised to teach us by reason what is good and profitable, falling back again to the Gods as the principle of all our actions, she seems to despise reason, and disgrace that demonstration which is her peculiar glory; and she relies on dreams and visions, in which the worst of men are oftentimes as happy as the best. And therefore your Socrates, Simmias, in my opinion followed the most philosophical and rational method of instructions, choosing that plain and easy way as the most genteel and friendly unto truth, and scattering to the sophisters of the age all those vain pretences which are as it were the smoke of philosophy. And Theocritus taking him up said: What, Edition: current; Page: [388] Galaxidorus, and hath Meletus persuaded you that Socrates contemned all divine things? — for that was part of his accusation. Divine things! by no means, replied Galaxidorus; but having received philosophy from Pythagoras and Empedocles, full of dreams, fables, superstitions, and perfect raving, he endeavored to bring wisdom and things together, and make truth consist with sober sense.

ModernGreek: 10. Be it so, rejoined Theocritus, but what shall we think of his Daemon? Was it a mere juggle? Indeed, nothing that is told of Pythagoras regarding divination seems to me so great and divine. For, in my mind, as Homer makes Minerva to stand by Ulysses in all dangers, so the Daemon joined to Socrates even from his cradle some vision to guide him in all the actions of his life; which going before him, shed a light upon hidden and obscure matters and such as could not be discovered by unassisted human understanding; of such things the Daemon often discoursed with him, presiding over and by divine instinct directing his intentions. More and greater things perhaps you may learn from Simmias and other companions of Socrates; but once when I was present, as I went to Euthyphron the soothsayer’s, it happened, Simmias, — for you remember it, — that Socrates walked up to Symbolum and the house of Andocides, all the way asking questions and jocosely perplexing Euthyphron. When standing still upon a sudden and persuading us to do the like, he mused a pretty while, and then turning about walked through Trunk-makers’ Street, calling back his friends that walked before him, affirming that it was his Daemon’s will and admonition. Many turned back, amongst whom I, holding Euthyphron, was one; but some of the youths keeping on the straight way, on purpose (as it were) to confute Socrates’s Daemon, took along with them Charillus the piper, who came in my company to Athens to see Cebes. Now as they were walking through Gravers’ Row Edition: current; Page: [389] near the court-houses, a herd of dirty swine met them; and being too many for the street and running against one another, they overthrew some that could not get out of the way, and dirted others; and Charillus came home with his legs and clothes very dirty; so that now and then in merriment they would think on Socrates’s Daemon, wondering that it never forsook the man, and that Heaven took such particular care of him.

ModernGreek: 11. Then Galaxidorus: And do you think, Theocritus, that Socrates’s Daemon had some peculiar and extraordinary power? And was it not that this man had by experience confirmed some part of the common necessity which made him, in all obscure and inevident matters, add some weight to the reason that was on one side? For as one grain doth not incline the balance by itself, yet added to one of two weights that are of equal poise, makes the whole incline to that part; thus an omen or the like sign may of itself be too light to draw a grave and settled resolution to any action, yet when two equal reasons draw on either side, if that is added to one, the doubt together with the equality is taken off, so that a motion and inclination to that side is presently produced. Then my father continuing the discourse said: You yourself, Galaxidorus, have heard a Megarian, who had it from Terpsion, say that Socrates’s Daemon was nothing else but the sneezing either of himself or others; for if another sneezed, either before, behind him, or on his right hand, then he pursued his design and went on to action; but if on the left hand, he desisted. One sort of sneezing confirmed him whilst deliberating and not fully resolved; another stopped him when already upon action. But indeed it seems strange that, if sneezing was his only sign, he should not acquaint his familiars with it, but pretend that it was a Daemon that encouraged or forbade him. For that this should proceed from vanity or conceit is not agreeable to the veracity and Edition: current; Page: [390] simplicity of the man; for in those we knew him to be truly great, and far above the generality of mankind. Nor is it likely so grave and wise a man should be disturbed at a casual sound or sneezing, and upon that account leave off what he was about, and give over his premeditated resolutions. Besides all, Socrates’s resolution seems to be altogether vigorous and steady, as begun upon right principles and mature judgment. Thus he voluntarily lived poor all his life, though he had friends that would have been very glad and very willing to relieve him; he still kept close to philosophy, notwithstanding all the discouragements he met with; and at last, when his friends endeavored and very ingeniously contrived his escape, he would not yield to their entreaties, but met death with mirth and cheerfulness, and appeared a man of a steady reason in the greatest extremity. And sure these are not the actions of a man whose designs, when once fixed, could be altered by an omen or a sneeze; but of one who, by some more considerable guidance and impulse, is directed to practise things good and excellent. Besides, I have heard that to some of his friends he foretold the overthrow of the Athenians in Sicily. And before that time, Perilampes the son of Antiphon, being wounded and taken prisoner by us in that pursuit at Delium, as soon as he heard from the ambassadors who came from Athens that Socrates with Alcibiades and Laches fled by Rhegiste and returned safe, blamed himself very much, and blamed also some of his friends and captains of the companies — who together with him were overtaken in their flight about Parnes by our cavalry and slain there — for not obeying Socrates’s Daemon and retreating that way which he led. And this I believe Simmias hath heard as well as I. Yes, replied Simmias, many times, and from many persons; for upon this, Socrates’s Daemon was very much talked of at Athens.

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ModernGreek: 12. Why then, pray, Simmias, said Phidolaus, shall we suffer Galaxidorus drollingly to degrade so considerable a prophetic spirit into an omen or a sneeze; which the vulgar and ignorant, it is true, merrily use about small matters; but when any danger appears, then we find that of Euripides verified, —

None near the edge of swords will mind such toys.*

To this Galaxidorus rejoined: Sir, if Simmias hath heard Socrates himself speak any thing about this matter, I am very ready to hear and believe it with you; but yet what you and Polymnis have delivered I could easily demonstrate to be weak and insignificant. For as in physic the pulse or a whelk is itself but a small thing, yet is a sign of no small things to the physicians; and as the murmuring of the waves or of a bird, or the driving of a thin cloud, is a sign to the pilot of a stormy heaven and troubled sea; thus to a prophetic soul, a sneeze or an omen, though no great matter simply considered in itself, yet may be the sign and token of considerable impending accidents. For every art and science takes care to collect many things from few, and great from small. And as if one that doth not know the power of letters, when he sees a few ill-shapen strokes, should not believe that a man skilled in letters could read in them the famous battles of the ancients, the rise of cities, the acts and calamities of kings, and should assert that some divine power told him the particulars, he would by this ignorance of his raise a great deal of mirth and laughter in the company; so let us consider whether or no we ourselves, being altogether ignorant of every one’s power of divination by which he guesseth at what is to come, are not foolishly concerned when it is asserted that a wise man by that discovers some things obscure and inevident Edition: current; Page: [392] in themselves, and moreover himself declares that it is not a sneeze or voice, but a Daemon, that leads him on to action. This, Polymnis, particularly respects you, who cannot but wonder that Socrates, who by his meekness and humility hath humanized philosophy, should not call this sign a sneeze or a voice, but very pretendingly a Daemon; when, on the contrary, I should have wondered if a man so critical and exact in discourse, and so good at names as Socrates, should have said that it was a sneeze, and not a Daemon, that gave him intimation; as much as if any one should say that he is wounded by a dart, and not with a dart by him that threw it; or as if any one should say that a weight was weighed by the balance, and not with the balance by the one who holds it. For any effect is not the effect of the instrument, but of him whose the instrument is, and who useth it to that effect; and a sign is an instrument, which he that signifies any thing thereby useth to that effect. But, as I said before, if Simmias hath any thing about this matter, let us quietly attend; for no doubt he must have a more perfect knowledge of the thing.

ModernGreek: 13. Content, said Theocritus; but let us first see who these are that are coming, for I think I see Epaminondas bringing in the stranger. Upon this motion, looking toward the door, we saw Epaminondas with his friends Ismenidorus and Bacchylidas and Melissus the musician leading the way, and the stranger following, a man of no mean presence; his meekness and good-nature appeared in his looks, and his dress was grave and becoming. He being seated next Simmias, my brother next me, and the rest as they pleased, and all silent, Simmias speaking to my brother said: Well, Epaminondas, by what name and title must I salute this stranger? — for those are commonly our first compliments, and the beginning of our better acquaintance. And my brother replied: His name, Simmias, Edition: current; Page: [393] is Theanor; by birth he is a Crotonian, a philosopher by profession, no disgrace to Pythagoras’s fame; for he hath taken a long voyage from Italy hither, to evidence by generous actions his eminent proficiency in that school.

The stranger subjoined: But you, Epaminondas, hinder the performance of the best action; for if it is commendable to oblige friends, it is not discommendable to be obliged; for a benefit requires a receiver as well as a giver; by both it is perfected, and becomes a good work. For he that refuseth to receive a favor, as a ball that is struck fairly to him, disgraceth it by letting it fall short of the designed mark; and what mark are we so much pleased to hit or vexed to miss, as our kind intentions of obliging a person that deserves a favor? It is true, when the mark is fixed, he that misseth can blame nobody but himself; but he that refuseth or flies a kindness is injurious to the favor in not letting it attain the desired end. I have told you already what was the occasion of my voyage; the same I would discover to all present, and make them judges in the case. For after the opposite faction had expelled the Pythagoreans, and the Cylonians had burned the remains of that society in their school at Metapontum, and destroyed all but Philolaus and Lysis, — who being young and nimble escaped the flame, — Philolaus flying to the Lucanians was there protected by his friends, who rose for his defence and overpowered the Cylonians; but where Lysis was, for a long time nobody could tell; at last Gorgias the Leontine, sailing from Greece to Italy, seriously told Arcesus that he met and discoursed Lysis at Thebes. Arcesus, being very desirous to see the man, as soon as he could get a passage, designed to put to sea himself; but age and weakness coming on, he took care that Lysis should be brought to Italy alive, if possible; but if not, the relics of his body. The intervening Edition: current; Page: [394] wars, usurpations, and seditions hindered his friends from doing it whilst he lived; but since his death, Lysis’s Daemon hath made very frequent and very plain discoveries to us of his death; and many that were very well acquainted with the matter have told us how courteously you received and civilly entertained him, how in your poor family he was allowed a plentiful subsistence for his age, counted a father of your sons, and died in peace. I therefore, although a young man and but one single person, have been sent by many who are my elders, and who, having store of money, offer it gladly to you who need it, in return for the gracious friendship bestowed upon Lysis. Lysis, it is true, is buried nobly, and your respect, which is more honorable than a monument, must be acknowledged and requited by his familiars and his friends.

ModernGreek: 14. When the stranger had said this, my father wept a considerable time, in memory of Lysis; but my brother, smiling upon me, as he used to do, said: What do we do, Caphisias? Are we to give up our poverty to wealth, and yet be silent? By no means, I replied, let us part with our old friend and the excellent breeder of our youth; but defend her cause, for you are to manage it. My dear father, said he, I have never feared that wealth would take possession of our house, except on account of Caphisias’s body; for that wants fine attire, that he may appear gay and gaudy to his numerous company of lovers, and great supplies of food, that he may be strong to endure wrestling and other exercises of the ring. But since he doth not give up poverty, since he holds fast his hereditary want, like a color, since he, a youth, prides himself in frugality, and is very well content with his present state, what need have we, and what shall we do with wealth? Shall we gild our arms? Shall we, like Nicias the Athenian, adorn our shield with gold, purple, and other gaudy variety of colors, and buy for you, sir, a Milesian cloak, Edition: current; Page: [395] and for my mother a purple gown? For I suppose we shall not consume any upon our belly, or feast more sumptuously than we did before, treating this wealth as a guest of quality and honor! Away, away, son, replied my father; let me never see such a change in our course of living. Well, said my brother, we would not lie lazily at home, and watch over our unemployed riches; for then the bestower’s kindness would be a trouble, and the possession infamous. What need then, said my father, have we of wealth? Upon this account, said Epaminondas, when Jason, the Thessalian general, lately sent me a great sum of money and desired me to accept it, I was thought rude and unmannerly for telling him that he was a knave for endeavoring, whilst he himself loved monarchy, to bribe one of democratical principles and a member of a free state. Your good will, sir (addressing the stranger), which is generous and worthy a philosopher, I accept and passionately admire; but you offer physic to your friends who are in perfect health! If, upon a report that we were distressed and overpowered, you had brought men and arms to our assistance, but being arrived had found all in quietness and peace, I am certain you would not have thought it necessary to leave those supplies which we did not then stand in need of. Thus, since now you came to assist us against poverty as if we had been distressed by it, and find it very peaceable and our familiar inmate, there is no need to leave any money or arms to suppress that which gives us no trouble or disturbance. But tell your acquaintance that they use riches well, and have friends here that use poverty as well. What was spent in keeping and burying Lysis, Lysis himself hath sufficiently repaid, by many profitable instructions, and by teaching us not to think poverty a grievance.

ModernGreek: 15. What then, said Theanor, is it mean to think poverty a grievance? Is it not absurd to fly and be afraid of Edition: current; Page: [396] riches, if no reason, but an hypocritical pretence, narrowness of mind, or pride, prompts one to reject the offer? And what reason, I wonder, would refuse such advantageous and creditable enjoyments as Epaminondas now doth? But, sir, — for your answer to the Thessalian about this matter shows you very ready, — pray answer me, do you think it commendable in some cases to give money, but always unlawful to receive it? Or are the givers and receivers equally guilty of a fault? By no means, replied Epaminondas; but, as of any thing else, so the giving and receiving of money is sometimes commendable and sometimes base. Well then, said Theanor, if a man gives willingly what he ought to give, is not that action commendable in him? Yes. And when it is commendable in one to give, is it not as commendable in another to receive? Or can a man more honestly accept a gift from any one, than from him that honestly bestows? No. Well then, Epaminondas, suppose of two friends, one hath a mind to present, the other must accept. It is true, in a battle we should avoid that enemy who is skilful in hurling his weapon; but in civilities we should neither fly nor thrust back that friend that makes a kind and genteel offer. And though poverty is not so grievous, yet on the other side, wealth is not so mean and despicable a thing. Very true, replied Epaminondas; but you must consider that sometimes, even when a gift is honestly bestowed, he is more commendable who refuses it. For we have many lusts and desires, and the objects of those desires are many. Some are called natural; these proceed from the very constitution of our body, and tend to natural pleasures; others are acquired, and rise from vain opinions and mistaken notions; yet these by the length of time, ill habits, and bad education are usually improved, get strength, and debase the soul more than the other natural and necessary passions. By custom and care any one, with the assistance Edition: current; Page: [397] of reason, may free himself from many of his natural desires. But, sir, all our arts, all our force of discipline, must be employed against the superfluous and acquired appetites; and they must be restrained or cut off by the guidance or edge of reason. For if the contrary applications of reason can make us forbear meat and drink, when hungry or thirsty, how much more easy is it to conquer covetousness or ambition, which will be destroyed by a bare restraint from their proper objects, and a non-attainment of their desired end? And pray, sir, are you not of the same opinion? Yes, replied the stranger. Then, sir, continued Epaminondas, do you not perceive a difference between the exercise itself and the work to which the exercise relates? For instance, in a wrestler, the work is the striving with his adversary for the crown, the exercise is the preparation of his body by diet, wrestling, or the like. So in virtue, you must confess the work to be one thing and the exercise another. Very well, replied the stranger. Then, continued Epaminondas, let us first examine whether to abstain from the base unlawful pleasures is the exercise of continence, or the work and evidence of that exercise? The work and evidence, replied the stranger. But is not the exercise of it such as you practise, when after wrestling, where you have raised your appetites like ravenous beasts, you stand a long while at a table covered with plenty and variety of meats, and then give it to your servants to feast on, whilst you offer mean and spare diet to your subdued appetites? For abstinence from lawful pleasure is exercise against unlawful. Very well, replied the stranger. So, continued Epaminondas, justice is exercise against covetousness and love of money; but so is not a mere cessation from stealing or robbing our neighbor. So he that doth not betray his country or friends for gold doth not exercise against covetousness, for the law perhaps deters, and fear restrains him; but he Edition: current; Page: [398] that refuseth just gain and such as the law allows, voluntarily exercises, and secures himself from being bribed or receiving any unlawful present. For when great, hurtful, and base pleasures are proposed, it is very hard for any one to contain himself, who hath not often despised those which he had power and opportunity to enjoy. Thus, when base bribes and considerable advantages are offered, it will be difficult to refuse, unless he hath long ago rooted out all thoughts of gain and love of money; for other desires will nourish and increase that appetite, and he will easily be drawn to any unjust action who can scarce forbear reaching out his hand to a proffered present. But he that will not lay himself open to the favors of friends and the gifts of kings, but refuseth even what Fortune proffers, and keeps off his appetite, that is eager after and (as it were) leaps forward to an appearing treasure, is never disturbed or tempted to unlawful actions, but hath great and brave thoughts, and hath command over himself, being conscious of none but generous designs. I and Caphisias, dear Simmias, being passionate admirers of such men, beg the stranger to suffer us to be taught and exercised by poverty to attain that height of virtue and perfection.

ModernGreek: 16. My brother having finished this discourse, Simmias, nodding twice or thrice, said: Epaminondas is a great man, but this Polymnis is the cause of his greatness, who gave his children the best education, and bred them philosophers. But, sir, you may end this dispute at leisure among yourselves. As for Lysis (if it is lawful to discover it), pray, sir, do you design to take him out of his tomb and transport him into Italy, or leave him here amongst his friends and acquaintance, who shall be glad to lie by him in the grave? And Theanor with a smile answered: Lysis, good Simmias, no doubt is very well pleased with the place, for Epaminondas supplied him with all things necessary and fitting. But the Pythagoreans have some Edition: current; Page: [399] particular funeral ceremonies, which if any one wants, we conclude he did not make a proper and happy exit. Therefore, as soon as we learned from some dreams that Lysis was dead (for we have certain marks to know the apparitions of the living from images of the dead), most began to think that Lysis, dying in a strange country, was not interred with the due ceremonies, and therefore ought to be removed to Italy that he might receive them there. I coming upon this design, and being by the people of the country directed to the tomb, in the evening poured out my oblations, and called upon the soul of Lysis to come out and direct me in this affair. The night drawing on, I saw nothing indeed, but thought I heard a voice saying: Move not those relics that ought not to be moved, for Lysis’s body was duly and religiously interred; and his soul is sent to inform another body, and committed to the care of another Daemon. And 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 Daemon 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 Daemons. When Theanor had said this, he looked attentively on Epaminondas, as if he designed a fresh search into his nature and inclinations.

ModernGreek: 17. At the same instant the chirurgeon coming in unbound Simmias’s leg and prepared to dress it; and Phyllidas entering with Hipposthenides, extremely concerned, as his very countenance discovered, desired me, Charon, and Theocritus to withdraw into a private corner of the porch. And I asking, Phyllidas, hath any new thing happened? — Nothing new to me, he replied, for I knew and told you that Hipposthenides was a coward, and therefore begged you not to communicate the matter to him or Edition: current; Page: [400] make him an associate. We seeming all surprised, Hipposthenides cried out: For Heaven’s sake, Phyllidas, don’t say so, don’t think rashness to be bravery, and blinded by that mistake ruin both us and the commonwealth; but, if it must be so, let the exiles return again in peace. And Phyllidas in a passion replied, How many, Hipposthenides, do you think are privy to this design? Thirty I know engaged. And why then, continued Phyllidas, would you singly oppose your judgment to them all, and ruin those measures they have all taken and agreed to? What had you to do to send a messenger to desire them to return and not approach to-day, when even chance encouraged and all things conspired to promote the design?

These words of Phyllidas troubled every one; and Charon, looking very angrily upon Hipposthenides, said: Thou coward! what hast thou done? No harm, replied Hipposthenides, as I will make appear if you will moderate your passion and hear what your gray-headed equal can allege. If, Phyllidas, we were minded to show our citizens a bravery that sought danger, and a heart that contemned life, there is day enough before us; why should we wait till the evening? Let us take our swords presently, and assault the tyrants. Let us kill, let us be killed, and be prodigal of our blood. If this may be easily performed or endured, and if it is no easy matter by the loss of two or three men to free Thebes from so great an armed power as possesses it, and to beat out the Spartan garrison, — for I suppose Phyllidas hath not provided wine enough at his entertainment to make all Archias’s guard of fifteen hundred men drunk; or if we despatch him, yet Arcesus and Herippidas will be sober, and upon the watch, — why are we so eager to bring our friends and families into certain destruction, especially since the enemy hath some notice of their return? For Edition: current; Page: [401] why else should the Thespians for these three days be commanded to be in arms and follow the orders of the Spartan general? And I hear that to-day, after examination before Archias when he returns, they design to put Amphitheus to death; and are not these strong proofs that our conspiracy is discovered? Is it not the best way to stay a little, until an atonement is made and the Gods reconciled? For the diviners, having sacrificed an ox to Ceres, said that the burnt offering portended a great sedition and danger to the commonwealth. And besides, Charon, there is another thing which particularly concerns you; for yesterday Hypatodorus, the son of Erianthes, a very honest man and my good acquaintance, but altogether ignorant of our design, coming out of the country in my company, accosted me thus: Charon is an acquaintance of yours, Hipposthenides, but no great crony of mine; yet, if you please, advise him to take heed of some imminent danger, for I had a very odd dream relating to some such matter. Last night methought I saw his house in travail; and he and his friends, extremely perplexed, fell to their prayers round about the house. The house groaned, and sent out some inarticulate sounds; at last a raging fire broke out of it, and consumed the greatest part of the city; and the castle Cadmea was covered all over with smoke, but not fired. This was the dream, Charon, that he told me. I was startled at the present, and that fear increased when I heard that the exiles intended to come to-day to your house, and I am very much afraid that we shall bring mighty mischiefs on ourselves, yet do our enemies no proportionable harm, but only give them a little disturbance; for I think the city signifies us, and the castle (as it is now in their power) them.

ModernGreek: 18. Then Theocritus putting in, and enjoining silence on Charon, who was eager to reply, said: As for my part, Hipposthenides, though all my sacrifices were of good Edition: current; Page: [402] omen to the exiles, yet I never found any greater inducement to go on than the dream you mentioned; for you say that a great and bright fire, rising out of a friend’s house, caught the city, and that the habitation of the enemies was blackened with smoke, which never brings any thing better than tears and disturbance; that inarticulate sounds broke out from us shows that none shall make any clear and full discovery; only a blind suspicion shall arise, and our design shall appear and have its desired effect at the same time. And it is very natural that the diviners should find the sacrifices ill-omened; for both their office and their victims belong not to the public, but to the men in power. Whilst Theocritus was speaking, I said to Hipposthenides, Whom did you send with this message? for if it was not long ago, we will follow him. Indeed, Caphisias, he replied, it is unlikely (for I must tell the truth) that you should overtake him, for he is upon the best horse in Thebes. You all know the man, he is master of the horse to Melon, and Melon from the very beginning hath made him privy to the design. And I, observing him to be at the door, said: What, Hipposthenides, is it Clido, he that last year at Juno’s feast won the single horse-race? Yes, the very same. Who then, continued I, is he that hath stood a pretty while at the court-gate and gazed upon us? At this Hipposthenides turning about cried out: Clido, by Hercules! I’ll lay my life some unlucky accident hath happened. Clido, observing that we took notice of him, came softly from the gate towards us; and Hipposthenides giving him a nod and bidding him deliver his message to the company, for they were all sure friends and privy to the whole plot, he began: Sir, I know the men very well, and not finding you either at home or in the market-place, I guessed you were with them, and came directly hither to give you a full account of the present posture of affairs. You commanded me Edition: current; Page: [403] with all possible speed to meet the exiles upon the mountain, and accordingly I went home to take horse, and called for my bridle; my wife said it was mislaid, and stayed a long time in the hostry, tumbling about the things and pretending to look carefully after it; at last, when she had tired my patience, she confessed that her neighbor’s wife had borrowed it last night; this raised my passion and I chid her, and she began to curse, and wished me a bad journey and as bad a return; all which curses, pray God, may fall upon her own head. At last my passion grew high, and I began to cudgel her, and presently the neighbors and women coming in, there was fine work; I am so bruised that it was as much as I could do to come hither to desire you to employ another man, for I protest I am amazed and in a very bad condition.

ModernGreek: 19. Upon this news we were strangely altered. Just before we were angry with the man that endeavored to put it off; and now the time approaching, the very minute just upon us, and it being impossible to defer the matter, we found ourselves in great anxiety and perplexity. But I, speaking to Hipposthenides and taking him by the hand, bade him be of good courage, for the Gods themselves seemed to invite us to action. Presently we parted. Phyllidas went home to prepare his entertainment, and to make Archias drunk as soon as conveniently he could; Charon went to his house to receive the exiles; and I and Theocritus went back to Simmias again, that having now a good opportunity, we might discourse with Epaminondas.

ModernGreek: 20. We found them engaged in a notable dispute, which Galaxidorus and Phidolaus had touched upon before; the subject of the enquiry was this, — What kind of substance or power was the famed Daemon of Socrates? Simmias’s reply to Galaxidorus’s discourse we did not hear; but he said that, having once asked Socrates about it and received no answer, he never repeated the same question; but he Edition: current; Page: [404] had often heard him declare those to be vain pretenders who said they had seen any divine apparition, while to those who affirmed that they heard a voice he would gladly hearken, and would eagerly enquire into the particulars. And this upon consideration gave us probable reasons to conjecture that this Daemon of Socrates was not an apparition, but rather a sensible perception of a voice, or an apprehension of some words, which after an unaccountable manner affected him; as in a dream there is no real voice, yet we have fancies and apprehensions of words which make us imagine that we hear some speak. This perception in dreams is usual, because the body whilst we are asleep is quiet and undisturbed; but when we are awake, meaner thoughts creep in, and we can hardly bring our souls to observe better advertisements. For being in a hurry of tumultuous passions and distracting business, we cannot compose our mind or make it listen to the discoveries. But Socrates’s understanding being pure, free from passion, and mixing itself with the body no more than necessity required, was easy to be moved and apt to take an impression from every thing that was applied to it; now that which was applied was not a voice, but more probably a declaration of a Daemon, by which the very thing that it would declare was immediately and without audible voice represented to his mind. Voice is like a stroke given to the soul, which receives speech forcibly entering at the ears whilst we discourse; but the understanding of a more excellent nature affects a capable soul, by applying the very thing to be understood to it, so that there is no need of another stroke. And the soul obeys, as it stretches or slackens her affections, not forcibly, as if it wrought by contrary passions, but smoothly and gently, as if it moved flexible and loose reins. And sure nobody can wonder at this, that hath observed what great ships of burden are turned by a small helm, or seen a potter’s wheel move Edition: current; Page: [405] round by the gentle touch of one finger. These are lifeless things, it is true; but being of a frame fit for motion, by reason of their smoothness, they yield to the least impulse. The soul of man, being stretched with a thousand inclinations, as with cords, is the most tractable instrument that is, and if once rationally excited, easy to be moved to the object that is to be conceived; for here the beginnings of the passions and appetites spread to the understanding mind, and that being once agitated, they are drawn back again, and so stretch and raise the whole man. Hence you may guess how great is the force of a conception when it hath entered the mind; for the bones that are insensible, the nerves, the flesh that is full of humors, and the heavy mass composed of all these, lying quiet and at rest, as soon as the soul gives the impulse and raiseth an appetite to move towards any object, are all roused and invigorated, and every member seems a wing to carry it forward to action. Nor is it impossible or even very difficult to conceive the manner of this motion and stirring, by which the soul having conceived any thing draweth after her, by means of appetites, the whole mass of the body. But inasmuch as language, apprehended without any sensible voice, easily excites; so, in my opinion, the understanding of a superior nature and a more divine soul may excite an inferior soul, touching it from without, like as one speech may touch and rouse another, and as light causes its own reflection. We, it is true, as it were groping in the dark, find out one another’s conceptions by the voice; but the conceptions of the Daemons carry a light with them, and shine to those that are able to perceive them, so that there is no need of words such as men use as signs to one another, seeing thereby only the images of the conceptions, and being unable to see the conceptions themselves unless they enjoy a peculiar and (as I said before) a divine light. This may be illustrated from the nature and effect Edition: current; Page: [406] of voice; for the air being formed into articulate sounds, and made all voice, transmits the conception of the soul to the hearer; so that it is no wonder if the air, that is very apt to take impressions, being fashioned according to the object conceived by a more excellent nature, signifies that conception to some divine and extraordinary men. For as a stroke upon a brazen shield, when the noise ariseth out of a hollow, is heard only by those who are in a convenient position, and is not perceived by others; so the speeches of the Daemon, though indifferently applied to all, yet sound only to those who are of a quiet temper and sedate mind, and such as we call holy and divine men. Most believe that Daemons communicate some illuminations to men asleep, but think it strange and incredible that they should communicate the like to them whilst they are awake and have their senses and reason vigorous; as wise a fancy as it is to imagine that a musician can use his harp when the strings are slack, but cannot play when they are screwed up and in tune. For they do not consider that the effect is hindered by the unquietness and incapacity of their own minds; from which inconveniences our friend Socrates was free, as the oracle assured his father whilst he was a boy. For that commanded him to let young Socrates do what he would, not to force or draw him from his inclinations, but let the boy’s humor have its free course; to beg Jupiter’s and the Muses’ blessing upon him, and take no farther care, intimating that he had a good guide to direct him, that was better than ten thousand tutors and instructors.

ModernGreek: 21. This, Phidolaus, was my notion of Socrates’s Daemon, whilst he lived and since his death; and I look upon all they mention about omens, sneezings, or the like, to be dreams and fooleries. But what I heard Timarchus discourse upon the same subject, lest some should think I delight in fables, perhaps it is best to conceal. By no Edition: current; Page: [407] means, cried Theocritus, let’s have it; for though they do not perfectly agree with it, yet I know many fables that border upon truth; but pray first tell us who this Timarchus was, for I never was acquainted with the man. Very likely, Theocritus, said Simmias; for he died when he was very young, and desired Socrates to bury him by Lampocles, the son of Socrates, who was his dear friend, of the same age, and died not many days before him. He being eager to know (for he was a fine youth, and a beginner in philosophy) what Socrates’s Daemon was, acquainting none but Cebes and me with his design, went down into Trophonius’s cave, and performed all the ceremonies that were requisite to gain an oracle. There he stayed two nights and one day, so that his friends despaired of his return and lamented him as lost; but the n