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The Complete Works Volume 3: Essays and Miscellanies by Plutarch

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CONTENTS

PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS

THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO LIVE PLEASURABLY ACCORDING TO THE
DOCTRINE OF EPICURUS

THAT A PHILOSOPHER OUGHT CHIEFLY TO CONVERSE WITH GREAT MEN

SENTIMENTS CONCERNING NATURE, WITH WHICH PHILOSOPHERS WERE
DELIGHTED

ABSTRACT OF A DISCOURSE SHOWING THAT THE STOICS SPEAK GREATER
IMPROBABILITIES THAN THE POETS

SYMPOSIACS

COMMON CONCEPTIONS AGAINST THE STOICS

CONTRADICTIONS OF THE STOICS

THE EATING OF FLESH

CONCERNING FATE

AGAINST COLOTES, THE DISCIPLE AND FAVORITE OF EPICURUS

PLATONIC QUESTIONS

LITERARY ESSAYS

THE LIFE AND POETRY OF HOMER

THE BANQUET OF THE SEVEN WISE MEN

HOW A YOUNG MAN OUGHT TO HEAR POEMS

ABSTRACT OF A COMPARISON BETWEEN ARISTOPHANES AND MENANDER

THE MALICE OF HERODOTUS

PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAYS

THAT IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO LIVE PLEASURABLY ACCORDING TO THE
DOCTRINE OF EPICURUS.

PLUTARCH, ZEUXIPPUS, THEON, ARISTODEMUS.

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.

Now as we were leaving the school to take a walk (as our manner is) in the gymnasium, 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 went away disgusted with us, for handling Epicurus and Aletrodorus 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; 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, black-guards, 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 godlike 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.
("Odyssey," xxii, 6)

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 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."
("Odyssey," viii, 246, 248)

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 approve so highly of this subject, 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 insist. 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 propriety! 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 when they failed of living
becomingly they failed also of living pleasurably; for to live
pleasurably without living becomingly is even by themselves
allowed inconsistent.

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 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, 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 a-dry? 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 in the very extremity of his
distemper.

For Ithaca is no fit place
For mettled steeds to run a race.
("Odyssey," iv. 605.)

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.

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, 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 anything 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, a fresh pipe 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 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 candlelight, 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 appeared 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 a-dry 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. 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 detestable 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."

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 place 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 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 an intelligent mind. But as at sea
(according to Aeschylus)

Night to the ablest pilot trouble brings,
(Aechylus, "Suppliants," 770.)

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 ephemeral creatures, uncertain and unfixed, and to liken our
lives to leaves that both spring and fall in the lapse 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;

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 a body at its utmost vigor will through delicacy
very soon admit of changes.

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 being able to reach that firm and steadfast assurance which
they expect. But to do no wickedness will contribute nothing to
our assurance; for it is not suffering unjustly 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 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 make life perilous and uneasy, and that to the good
as well as to the bad, if they have learned to set 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.

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 no more 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 consider 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 speak as they are wont when they style themselves
immortals and equals to gods?--and 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 more prudent 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 fullness 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.

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 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 essence and consummation of good, and so
receive but as it were the satisfaction of slaves or of rogues
newly discharged the jail, 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 heavenly
phenomena 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 opinion about things after death
to disorder themselves with; nor have they as much as imagination
or notion that there is anything 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.

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 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 inquiring, or else from that part of
it that is active and heroic. How many and how great satisfactions
either of these affords us, no one can ever 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.

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 require the telling of it. So he in the tragedy
who is told,

Alas I now the very worst must tell,
replies,
I dread to hear it too, but I must hear.
(Sophocles, "Pedipus Tyrannus," 1169, 1170.)

But this may seem perhaps a sort of intemperateness of delight in
knowing everything, 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 Euxodus, 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?

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 hath once tasted, if he be but competently skilled, will
run about chanting that in Sophocles,

I'm mad; the Muses with new rage inspire me.
I'll mount the hill; my lyre, my numbers fire me.
(From the "Thamyras" of Sophocles, Frag. 225)

Nor doth Thamyras break out into poetic raptures upon any other
score; nor, by Jove, Euxodus, Aristarchus, or Archimedes. And when
the lovers of the art of painting are so enamoured 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 all 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.
(Euripides, "Hippolytus," 75.)

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
erratic and precipitate, yet 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 line that regards
the right angle in a triangle is equivalent to 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;" 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 and unskilledness make men
despise them, they still thrive notwithstanding by reason of their
charmingness, in despite of contempt.

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 therefore 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 untamed 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,
(Euripides, "Aeolus," Frag. 23.)

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 Dicaerchus 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 inflaming 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.

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 inquiries of 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 ruler 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.
(Pindar, "Pythian," i. 25.)

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 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 abhor 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 concerts 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 concerts gave Aristotle, Theophrastus, Hieronymus,
and Dicaerchus? And also the problems about flutes, rhythms, and
harmonies; as, for instance, why the longer 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 depress 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
deadened?--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 love, so powerful and
overcoming is the pleasure they bring us.

In this investigation 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, experiencing, 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 perogative 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 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
calumniated them.

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 I, 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 anything 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? 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 were willing, 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.

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 black 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 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 by happiness, as Epicurus is, like sailors 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 addition of good liquor, 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 artificial 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;
and
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 Platea 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 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. Though, 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, if the intemperateness of their joy and their
insensibleness of decorum should make them act and speak such
things as these:--

Lean down, boy! why dost sit I 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 the door with drunken fury smites,
Till he from bed his loving 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.

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 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.
("Odyssey," viii. 173.)

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;
and
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 accompany with Lais or drink Ariusion wine, than to despatch Archias and restore the Athenians 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 commanding 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,
(See "Iliad," v. 341.)

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 saying
to 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 is forgot in 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.

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 (whose principles 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 coming 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 vainglory create in men's minds, forcing them, when they hunger after praise and cannot obtain it from other men, at last to commend themselves.

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 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.

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 way 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 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 look for neither
good nor harm. But if something more must 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 vainglory, 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 artificially 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 vainglory, 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, content, nor assurance in the enjoyment of
our good things nor any recourse to God in our adversity
and misfortunes.

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 witch 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 is the good hope, the 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 depressed, and
heavy, as if she were approaching 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 joviality. 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 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 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 so Epicurus would have us arrange ourselves, and neither to
envy nor to incur the hatred of the common herd by doing ourselves
with disgust 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 our 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 as 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.

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; neither is it 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 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, 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 Distributor, and another the
Mild, and a third the Averter of Evil. And according to Pindar,

Phoebus 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 he 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. As 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 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 everything will have,
they signify it to me by sending angels, voices, dreams,
and presages."

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 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 danger 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,

Is ne'er more seen without the hoary main.
("Odyssey," v. 410.)

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.

But (said he, looking upon me) I should be impertinent, should I
say anything 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 besides, he is a young
man, and needs not fear being charged by these young gentlemen
with having a bad memory.

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.

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
first 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 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;
("Iliad," xxii. 390.)

and thus:--

What's your command to Hector? Let me know;
And to your dear old Priam shall I go?
(Euripides, "Hecuba," 422.)

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 anything 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 a-cold. 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.
("Iliad," ix. 408.)

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 forever.
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,
(Ibid. vii. 99.)

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 after they are cleansed they shall play and dance in
hell forever, in company with those that have the privilege of a
bright light, clear air, and the use of speech,--yet to be deprived
of living disturbs all both young and old. We

Impatient love the light that shines on earth,
(Euripides, "Hippolytus," 193)

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.

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 dying, but on the contrary most glorious and divine things?
For, in the first place, athletes 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
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 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.
("Iliad," v. 514 and 515)

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?

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 indifference. But now, as to those to whom life
ends in insensibility and dissolution,--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; it 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.

Yea, themselves tell us, that the thought of future dissolution
leaves them one most assured and complacent good, freedom from
anxious surmises of incessant and endless evils, and that
Epicurus's doctrine effects this by stopping the fear of death
through 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 being eased 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, 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 declare that
the destruction of all that we call ours toucheth us not is untrue
for it toucheth us already by the very anticipation.
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 being and in being suffered never to emerge from
nothingness. 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 forever;
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
delights of life, seems to be envious, (Herodotus, vii. 46) 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.

And yet they are never wearied with their brawling and dunning of
all persons to take the escape of evil for a good, no longer 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.

END OF ONE---------

THAT A PHILOSOPHER OUGHT CHIEFLY TO CONVERSE WITH GREAT MEN.

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 rebound
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 vainglorious 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 or 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 gentleman, and one who needs the direction of a
wise governor, to such complaints as these: "Would that I might
become from a Pericles or a Cato to a cobbler like Simon or a
grammarian like Dionysius, that I might like them talk with such a
man as Socrates, and sit by him."

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 proportion,
and then to raise it upon its pedestal, where it is to continue
forever. 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 which is to see and to 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 [Greek text],
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 swiftness of action does it have, pervading
and inserting itself in everything 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 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 intercourse 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 habits of men good and bad,"
("Odyssey," xvii. 487.) as Posidonius says. 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!"

The objections which they bring from the two kinds of discourse,
one of which is mental, the other like the gift of Mercury
expressed in words or interpretative of the former, are so
frivolous, that they are best answered by laughter or silence;
and we may quote the old saying, "I knew this before Theognis
arose." However, thus much shall be added, that the end of them
both is friendship,--in the first case with ourselves, in the
second 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 converse, 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 should 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 men only praise 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 are sensible of it than to those whose glory is admired.
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; (Euripides, "Hippolytus," 102.) 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
person; he will not 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 try most Dame Venus to despise
Do sin as much as they who her most prize.
(From the "Veiled Hippolytus" of Euripides, Frag. 431.)

The application is easy to the matter in hand.

A philosopher therefore, if he is of a retired humor, will not
avoid such persons; while one who generously designs his studies
for the public advantage will cheerfully embrace their advances of
friendship, will not bore them to hear him, will lay aside his
sophistic terms and distinctions, and will rejoice to discourse and
pass his time with them when they are disposed.

I plough the wide Berecynthian fields,
Full six days' journey long,
(From the "Niobe" of Aechylus, Frag. 153.)

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
malcontent, 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; (Almost the same words with those of our
Saviour, It is more blessed to give than to receive. So that a
man can scarcely be a true Epicurean without practising some of
the maxims of Christianity.) for there is nothing which produces
so humane and genuine a sort of pleasure as that of doing good.
He who gave the names to the three Graces was intelligent, for
they all mean delectation and joy, (Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and
Thalia.) and these feelings surely are far greater and purer in
the giver. 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
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 parasites of Callias,
whom, as Eupolis says, neither with fire nor brass nor steel could
prevent 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,
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 for whole
communities, for the whole state of mankind. Yet we are not so
fond as to think that the priests make 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, of moderation, and mercy, and
therefore hath a greater satisfaction of mind when he reflects
upon it.

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, and if his harp would be touched
by the famous Amphion, and in his hand to serve for the builder of
Thebes, or if that Thales had bespoke it, who was so great a master
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 constructing the rudder 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 chariot or plough, as to cut 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 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, such persons must be taken when
they are on the run, if they are to absorb useful discourses.

END OF TWO--------------

SENTIMENTS CONCERNING NATURE WITH WHICH PHILOSOPHERS
WERE DELIGHTED

BOOK I.

It being our determination to discourse of Natural Philosophy, we
judge it necessary, in the first place and chiefly, to divide the
body of philosophy into its proper members, so that we may know
what is that which is called philosophy, and what part of it is
physical, or the explanation of natural things. The Stoics affirm
that wisdom is the knowledge of things human and divine;
that philosophy is the pursuit of that art which is convenient to
this knowledge; that virtue is the sole and sovereign art which is
thus convenient; and this distributes itself into three general
parts--natural, moral, and logical. By which just reason (they say)
philosophy is tripartite; of which one natural, the other moral,
the third logical. The natural when our inquiries are concerning
the world and all things contained in it; the ethical is the
employment of our minds in those things which concern the manners
of man's life; the logical (which they also call dialectical)
regulates our conversation with others in speaking.
Aristotle, Theophrastus, and after them almost all the Peripatetics
give the same division of philosophy. It is absolutely requisite
that the complete person he contemplator of things which have a
being, and the practiser of those thing which are decent; and this
easily appears by the following instances. If the question be
proposed, whether the sun, which is so conspicuous to us, be
informed of a soul or inanimate, he that makes this disquisition is
the thinking man; for he proceeds no farther than to consider the
nature of that thing which is proposed. Likewise, if the question
be propounded, whether the world be infinite, or whether beyond the
system of this world there is any real being, all these things are
the objects about which the understanding of man is conversant.
But if these be the questions,--what measures must be taken to
compose the well-ordered life of man, what are the best methods to
govern and educate children, or what are the exact rules whereby
sovereigns may command and establish laws,--all these queries are
proposed for the sole end of action, and the man skilled therein is
the moral and practical man.

CHAPTER I.

WHAT IS NATURE?

Since we have undertaken to make a diligent search into Nature, I
cannot but conclude it necessary to declare what Nature is. It is
very absurd to attempt a discourse of the essence of natural
things, and not to understand what is the power and sphere of
Nature. If Aristotle be credited, Nature is the principle of
motion and rest, in that thing in which it exists as a principle
and not by accident. For all things that are conspicuous to our
eyes, which are neither fortuitous nor necessary, nor have a divine
original, nor acknowledge any such like cause, are called natural
and enjoy their proper nature. Of this sort are earth, fire,
water, air, plants, animals; to these may be added all things
produced from them, such as showers, hail, thunders, hurricanes,
and winds. All these confess they had a beginning, none of these
were from eternity, but had something as the origin of them;
and likewise animals and plants have a principle whence they are
produced. But Nature, which in all these things hath the priority,
is not only the principle of motion but of repose; whatsoever
enjoys the principle of motion, the same has a possibility to find
a dissolution. Therefore on this account it is that Nature is the
principle of motion and rest.

CHAPTER II.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRINCIPLE AND AN ELEMENT?

The followers of Aristotle and Plato conclude that elements are
discriminated from principles. Thales the Milesian supposeth that
a principle and the elements are one and the same thing, but it is
evident that they vastly differ one from another. For the
elements are things compounded; but we do pronounce that
principles admit not of a composition, nor are the effects of any
other being. Those which we call elements are earth, water, air,
and fire. But we call those principles which have nothing prior
to them out of which they are produced; for otherwise not these
themselves, but rather those things whereof they are produced,
would be the principles. Now there are some things which have a
pre-existence to earth and water, from which they are begotten;
to wit, matter, which is without form or shape; then form, which we
call [Greek omitted] (actuality); and lastly, privation.
Thales therefore is most in error, by affirming that water is both
an element and a principle.

CHAPTER III.

WHAT ARE PRINCIPLES?

Thales the Milesian doth affirm that water is the principle from
whence all things in the universe spring. This person appears to
be the first of philosophers; from him the Ionic sect took its
denomination, for there are many families and successions amongst
philosophers. After he had professed philosophy in Egypt, when he
was very old, he returned to Miletus. He pronounced, that all
things had their original from water, and into water all things
are resolved. His first ground was, that whatsoever was the
prolific seed of all animals was a principle, and that is moist;
so that it is probable that all things receive their original from
humidity. His second reason was, that all plants are nourished
and fructified by that thing which is moist, of which being
deprived they wither away. Thirdly, that that fire of which the
sun and stars are made is nourished by watery exhalations,--yea,
and the world itself; which moved Homer to sing that the
generation of it was from water:--

The ocean is
Of all things the kind genesis.
(Iliad, xiv. 246.)

Anaximander, who himself was a Milesian, assigns the principle of
all things to the Infinite, from whence all things flow, and into
the same are corrupted; hence it is that infinite worlds are
framed, and those dissolve again into that whence they have their
origin. And thus he farther proceeds, For what other reason is
there of an Infinite but this, that there may be nothing deficient
as to the generation or subsistence of what is in Nature? There is
his error, that he doth not acquaint us what this Infinite is,
whether it be air, or water, or earth, or any other such like body.
Besides he is mistaken, in that, giving us the material cause, he
is silent as to the efficient cause of beings; for this thing
which he makes his Infinite can be nothing but matter;
but operation cannot come about in the sphere of matter, except an
efficient cause be annexed.

Anaximenes his fellow-citizen pronounceth, that air is the
principle of all beings; from it all receive their original, and
into it all return. He affirms that our soul is nothing but air;
it is that which constitutes and preserves; the whole world is
invested with spirit and air. For spirit and air are synonymous.
This person is in this deficient, in that he concludes that of pure
air, which is a simple body and is made of one only form, all
animals are composed. It is not possible to think that a single
principle should be the matter of all things, from whence they
receive their subsistence; besides this there must be an operating
cause. Silver (for example) is not of itself sufficient to frame a
drinking cup; an operator also is required, which is the
silversmith. The like may be applied to vessels made of wood,
brass, or any other material.

Anaxagoras the Clazomenian asserted Homoeomeries (or parts similar
or homogeneous) to be the original cause of all beings; it seemed
to him impossible that anything could arise of nothing or be
dissolved into nothing. Let us therefore instance in nourishment,
which appears simple and uniform, such as bread which we owe to
Ceres and water which we drink. Of this very nutriment, our hair,
our veins, our arteries, nerves, bones, and all our other parts are
nourished. These things thus being performed, it must be granted
that the nourishment which is received by us contains all those
things by which these of us are produced. In it there are those
particles which are producers of blood, bones, nerves, and all
other parts; these particles (he thought) reason discovers for us.
For it is not necessary that we should reduce all things under the
objects of sense; for bread and water are fitted to the senses, yet
in them there are those particles latent which are discoverable
only by reason. It being therefore plain that there are particles
in the nourishment similar to what is produced by it, he terms
these homogeneous parts, averring that they are the principles of
beings. Matter is according to him these similar parts, and the
efficient cause is a Mind, which orders all things that have an
existence. Thus he begins his discourse: "All things were confused
one among another; but Mind divided and brought them to order."
In this he is to be commended, that he yokes together matter and an
intellectual agent.

Archelaus the son of Apollodorus, the Athenian, pronounceth, that
the principles of all things have their origin from an infinite air
rarefied or condensed. Air rarefied is fire, condensed is water.

These philosophers, the followers of Thales, succeeding one
another, made up that sect which takes to itself the denomination
of the Ionic.

Pythagoras the Samian, the son of Mnesarchus, from another origin
deduces the principles of all things; it was he who first called
philosophy by its name. He thought the first principles to be
numbers, and those symmetries in them which he styles harmonies;
and the composition of both he terms elements, called geometrical.
Again, he places unity and the indefinite binary number amongst the
principles. One of these principles ends in an efficient and
forming cause, which is Mind, and that is God; the other to the
passive and material part, and that is the visible world.
Moreover, the nature of number (he saith) consists in the ten; for
all people, whether Grecians or barbarians, reckon from one to ten,
and thence return to one again. Farther he avers the virtue of ten
consists in the quaternion; the reason whereof is this,--if any
person start from one, and add numbers so as to take in the
quaternary, he shall complete the number ten; if he passes the
four, he shall go beyond the ten; for one, two, three, and four
being added up together make ten. The nature of numbers,
therefore, if we regard the units, abideth in the ten; but if we
regard its power, in the four. Therefore the Pythagoreans say that
their most sacred oath is by that god who delivered to them
the quaternary.

By th' founder of the sacred number four,
Eternal Nature's font and source, they swore.

Of this number the soul of man is composed; for mind, knowledge,
opinion, and sense are the four that complete the soul, from which
all sciences, all arts, all rational faculties derive themselves.
For what our mind perceives, it perceives after the manner of a
thing that is one, the soul itself being a unity; as for instance,
a multitude of persons are not the object of our sense nor are
comprehended by us, for they are infinite; our understanding gives
the general concept of A MAN, in which all individuals agree.
The number of individuals is infinite; the generic or specific
nature of all being is a unit, or to be apprehended as one only
thing; from this one conception we give the genuine measures of all
existence, and therefore we affirm that a certain class of beings
are rational and discoursive. But when we come to give the nature
of a horse, it is that animal which neighs; and this being common
to all horses, it is manifest that the understanding, which hath
such like conceptions, is in its nature unity. It follows that the
number called the infinite binary must be science; in every
demonstration or belief belonging to science, and in every
syllogism, we draw that conclusion which is in dispute from those
propositions which are by all granted, by which means another
proposition is obtained from the premises. The comprehension of
these we call knowledge; for which reason science is the binary
number. But opinion is the ternary; for that rationally follows
from comprehension. The objects of opinion are many things, and

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