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The Complete Works Volume 3: Essays and Miscellanies by Plutarch

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continues, by little and little it takes away all dismal
apprehensions and consumes our sorrows. Thus wine, after it hath
heated and disturbed, calms the mind again and quiets the frenzy;
and when men are dead drunk, their passions are at rest.




When I had said these things Aristo, as his habit was, cried out:
A return has been decreed in banquets to a very popular and just
standard, which, because it was driven away by unseasonable
temperance as if by the act of a tyrant, has long remained in
exile. For just as those trained in the canons of the lyre declare
the sesquialter proportion produces the symphony diapente, the
double proportion the diapason, the sesquiterte the diatessaron,
the slowest of all, so the specialists in Bacchic harmonies have
detected three accords between wine and water--Diapente, Diatrion,
Diatessaron. For so they speak and sing, "drink five or three, but
not four." For five have the sesquialter proportion, three cups of
water being mixed in two of wine; three, the double proportion, two
being mixed with one; four, the sesquiterce, three cups of water to
one of wine, which is the epitrite proportion for those exercising
their minds in the council-chamber or frowning over dialectics,
when changes of speeches are expected,--a sober and mild mixture.
But in regard to those proportions of two to one, that mixture
gives the strength by which we are confused and made half drunk,
"Exciting the chords of the soul never moved before." For it does
not admit of sobriety, nor does it induce the senselessness of pure
wine. The most harmonious is the proportion of two to three,
provoking sleep, generating the forgetfulness of cares, and like
that cornfield of Hesiod," which mildly pacifieth children and
heals injuries." It composes in us the harsh and irregular motions
of the soul and secures deep peace for it. Against these sayings
of Aristo no one had anything to offer in reply, since it was quite
evident he was jesting. I suggested to him to take a cup and treat
it as a lyre, tuning it to the harmony and order he praised.
At the same time a slave came offering him pure wine. But he
refused it, saying with a laugh that he was discussing logical not
organic music. To what had been said before my father added that
Jove seemed to have taken, according to the ancients, two nurses,
Ite and Adrastea; Juno one, Euboea; Apollo also two, Truth and
Corythalea; but Bacchus several, because he needed several measures
of water to make him manageable, trained, milder, and more prudent.




Euthydemus of Sunium gave us at an entertainment a very large boar.
The guests wondering at the bigness of the beast, he said that he
had one a great deal larger, but in the carriage the moon had made
it stink; he could not imagine how this should happen, for it was
probable that the sun, being much hotter than the moon, should make
it stink sooner. But, said Satyrus, this is not so strange as the
common practice of the hunters; for, when they send a boar or a doe
to a city some miles distant, they drive a brazen nail into it to
keep it from stinking.

After supper Euthydemus bringing the question into play again,
Moschio the physician said, that putrefaction was a colliquation
of the flesh, and that everything that putrefied grew moister than
before, and that all heat, if gentle, did stir the humors, though
not force them out, but if strong, dry the flesh; and that from
these considerations an answer to the question might be easily
deduced. For the moon gently warming makes the body moist;
but the sun by his violent beams dries rather, and draws all
moisture from them. Thus Archilochus spoke like a naturalist,

I hope hot Sirius's beams will many drain,

And Homer more plainly concerning Hector, over whose body Apollo
spread a thick cloud,

Lest the hot sun should scorch his naked limbs.
(Iliad, xxiii, 190.)

Now the moon's rays are weaker; for, as Ion says,

They do not ripen well the clustered grapes.

When he had done, I said: The rest of the discourse I like very
well, but I cannot consent when you ascribe this effect to the
strength and degree of heat, and chiefly in the hot seasons; for in
winter every one knows that the sun warms little, yet in summer it
putrefies most. Now the contrary should happen, if the gentleness
of the heat were the cause of putrefaction. And besides, the
hotter the season is, so much the sooner meat stinks; and therefore
this effect is not to be ascribed to the want of heat in the moon,
but to some particular proper quality in her beams. For heat is
not different only by degrees; but in fires there are some proper
qualities very much unlike one another, as a thousand obvious
instances will prove. Goldsmiths heat their gold in chaff fires;
physicians use fires of vine-twigs in their distillations;
and tamarisk is the best fuel for a glass-house. Olive-boughs in a
chimney warm very well, but hurt other baths: they spoil the
plastering, and weaken the foundation; and therefore the most
skilful of the public officers forbid those that rent the baths to
burn olive-tree wood, or throw darnel seed into the fire, because
the fumes of it dizzy and bring the headache to those that bathe.
Therefore it is no wonder that the moon differs in her qualities
from the sun; and that the sun should shed some drying, and the
moon some dissolving, influence upon flesh. And upon this account
it is that nurses are very cautious of exposing their infants to
the beams of the moon; for they being full of moisture, as green
plants, are easily wrested and distorted. And everybody knows that
those that sleep abroad under the beams of the moon are not easily
waked, but seem stupid and senseless; for the moisture that the
moon sheds upon them oppresses their faculty and disables their
bodies. Besides, it is commonly said, that women brought to bed
when the moon is a fortnight old, have easy labors; and for this
reason I believe that Diana, which was the same with the moon, was
called the goddess of childbirth. And Timotheus appositely says,

By the blue heaven that wheels the stars,
And by the moon that eases women's pains.

Even in inanimate bodies the power of the moon is very evident.
For trees that are cut in the full of the moon carpenters refuse,
as being soft, and, by reason of their moistness, subject to
corruption; and in its wane farmers usually thresh their wheat,
that being dry it may better endure the flail; for the corn in the
full of the moon is moist, and commonly bruised in threshing.
Besides, they say dough will be leavened sooner in the full, for
then, though the leaven is scarce proportioned to the meal, yet it
rarefies and leavens the whole lump. Now when flesh putrefies, the
combining spirit is only changed into a moist consistence, and the
parts of the body separate and dissolve. And this is evident in
the very air itself, for when the moon is full, most dew falls;
and this Alcman the poet intimates, when he somewhere calls dew the
air's and moon's daughter, saying,

See how the daughter of the Moon and Air
Does nourish all things.

Thus a thousand instances do prove that the light of the moon is
moist, and carries with it a softening and corrupting quality.
Now the brazen nail that is driven through the flesh, if, as they
say, it keeps the flesh from putrefying, doth it by an astringent
quality proper to the brass. The rust of brass physicians use in
astringent medicines, and they say those that dig brass ore have
been cured of a rheum in their eyes, and that the hair upon their
eyelids hath grown again; for the particles rising from the ore,
being insensibly applied to the eyes, stops the rheum and dries up
the humor, and upon this account, perhaps; Homer calls brass [Greek
omitted] and [Greek omitted], and Aristotle says, that wounds made
by a brazen dart or a brazen sword are less painful and sooner
cured than those that are made of iron weapons, because brass hath
something medicinal in itself, which in the very instant is applied
to the wound. Now it is manifest that astringents are contrary to
putrefying, and healing to corrupting qualities. Some perhaps may
say, that the nail being driven through draws all the moisture to
itself, for the humor still flows to the part that is hurt;
and therefore it is said that by the nail there always appears some
speck and tumor; and therefore it is rational that the other parts
should remain sound, when all the corruption gathers about that.


Polybius, my Sossius Senecio, advised Scipio Africanus never to
return from the Forum, where he was conversant about the affairs of
the city, before he had gained one new friend. Where I suppose the
word friend is not to be taken too nicely, to signify a lasting and
unchangeable acquaintance; but, as it vulgarly means, a well-
wisher, and as Dicearchus takes it, when he says that we should
endeavor to make all men well-wishers, but only good men friends.
For friendship is to be acquired by time and virtue; but good-will
is produced by a familiar intercourse, or by mirth and trifling
amongst civil and genteel men, especially if opportunity assists
their natural inclinations to good-nature. But consider whether
this advice may not be accommodated to an entertainment as well as
the Forum; so that we should not break up the meeting before we had
gained one of the company to be a well-wisher and a friend.
Other occasions draw men into the Forum, but men of sense come to
an entertainment as well to get new friends as to make their old
ones merry; indeed, to carry away anything else is sordid and
uncivil, but to depart with one friend more than we had is pleasing
and commendable. And so, on the contrary, he that doth not aim at
this renders the meeting useless and unpleasant to himself, and
departs at last, having been a partaker of an entertainment with
his belly but not with his mind. For he that makes one at a feast
doth not come only to enjoy the meat and drink, but likewise the
discourse, mirth, and genteel humor which ends at last in
friendship and good-will. The wrestlers, that they may hold fast
and lock better, use dust; and so wine mixed with discourse is of
extraordinary use to make us hold fast of, and fasten upon, a
friend. For wine tempered with discourse carries gentle and kind
affections out of the body into the mind; otherwise, it is
scattered through the limbs, and serves only to swell and disturb.
Thus as a marble, by cooling red hot iron, takes away its softness
and makes it hard, fit to be wrought and receive impression;
thus discourse at an entertainment doth not permit the men that are
engaged to become altogether liquid by the wine, but confines and
makes their jocund and obliging tempers very fit to receive an
impression from the seal of friendship if dexterously applied.




The first question of my fourth decade of Table Discourses shall
be concerning different sorts of food eaten at one meal.
When we came to Hyampolis at the feast called Elaphebolia, Philo
the physician gave us a very sumptuous entertainment; and seeing a
boy who came with Philinus feeding upon dry bread and calling for
nothing else, he cried out, O Hercules, well I see the proverb
is verified,

They fought midst stones, but could not take up one,

and presently went out to fetch him some agreeable food. He stayed
some time, and at last brought them dried figs and cheese;
upon which I said: It is usually seen that those that provide
costly and superfluous dainties neglect, or are not well furnished
with, useful and necessary things. I protest, said Philo, I did
not mind that Philinus designs to breed us a young Sosastrus, who
(they say) never all his lifetime drank or ate anything beside
milk, although it is probable that it was some change in his
constitution that made him use this sort of diet; but our Chiron
here,--quite contrary to the old one that bred Achilles from his
very birth,--feeding his son with unbloody food, gives people
reason to suspect that like a grasshopper he keeps him on dew and
air. Indeed, said Philinus, I did not know that we were to meet
with a supper of a hundred beasts, such as Aristomenes made for his
friends; otherwise I had come with some poor and wholesome food
about me, as a specific against such costly and unwholesome
entertainments. For I have often heard that simple diet is not
only more easily provided, but likewise more easily digested, than
such variety. At this Marcion said to Philo: Philinus hath spoiled
your whole provision by deterring guests from eating; but, if you
desire it, I will be surety for you, that such variety is more
easily digested than simple food, so that without fear or distrust
they may feed heartily. Philo desired him to do so.

When after supper we begged Philinus to discover what he had to
urge against variety of food, he thus began: I am not the author of
this opinion, but our friend Philo here is ever now and then
telling us, first, that wild beasts, feeding on one sort only and
simple diet, are much more healthy than men are; and that those
which are kept in pens are much more subject to diseases and
crudities, by reason of the prepared variety we usually give them.
Secondly, no physician is so daring, so venturous at new
experiments, as to give a feverish patient different sorts of food
at once. No, simple food, and without sauce, as more easy to be
digested, is the only diet they allow. Now food must be wrought on
and altered by our natural powers; in dyeing, cloth of the most
simple color takes the tincture soonest; the most inodorous oil is
soonest by perfumes changed into an essence; and simple diet is
soonest changed, and soonest yields to the digesting power.
For many and different qualities, having some contrariety, when
they meet disagree and corrupt one another; as in a city, a mixed
rout are not easily reduced into one body, nor brought to follow
the same concerns; for each works according to its own nature, and
is very hardly brought to side with another's quality. Now this is
evident in wine; mixed wine inebriates very soon, and drunkenness
is much like a crudity rising from undigested wine; and therefore
the drinkers hate mixed liquors, and those that do mix them do it
privately, as afraid to have their design upon the company
discovered. Every change is disturbing and injurious, and
therefore musicians are very careful how they strike many strings
at once; though the mixture and variety of the notes would be the
only harm that would follow. This I dare say, that belief and
assent can be sooner procured by disagreeing arguments, than
concoction by various and different qualities. But lest I should
seem jocose, waiving this, I will return to Philo's observations
again. We have often heard him declare that it is the quality that
makes meat hard to be digested; that to mix many things together is
hurtful, and begets unnatural qualities; and that every man should
take that which by experience he finds most agreeable to
his temper.

Now if nothing is by its own nature hard to be digested, but it is
the quantity that disturbs and corrupts, I think we have still
greater reason to forbear that variety with which Philo's cook, as
it were in opposition to his master's practice, would draw us on to
surfeits and diseases. For by the different sorts of food and new
ways of dressing, he still keeps up the unwearied appetite, and
leads it from one dish to another, till tasting of everything we
take more than is sufficient and enough; as Hypsipyle's foster-son,

Who, in a garden placed, plucked up the flowers,
One after one, and spent delightful hours;
But still his greedy appetite goes on,
And still he plucked till all the flowers were gone.
(From the "Hypsipyle" of Euripides, Frag. 754.)

But more, methinks, Socrates is here to be remembered, who adviseth
us to forbear those junkets which provoke those that are not hungry
to eat; as if by this he cautioned us to fly variety of meats.
For it is variety that in everything draws us on to use more than
bare necessity requires. This is manifest in all sorts of
pleasures, either of the eye, ear, or touch; for it still proposeth
new provocatives; but in simple pleasures, and such as are confined
to one sort, the temptation never carries us beyond nature's wants.
In short, in my opinion, we should more patiently endure to hear a
musician praise a disagreeing variety of notes, or a perfumer mixed
ointments, than a physician commend the variety of dishes;
for certainly such changes and turnings as must necessarily ensue
will force us out of the right way of health.

Philinus having ended his discourse, Marcion said: In my opinion,
not only those that separate profit from honesty are obnoxious to
Socrates's curse, but those also that separate pleasure from
health, as if it were its enemy and opposite, and not its great
friend and promoter. Pain we use but seldom and unwillingly, as
the most violent instrument. But from all things else, none,
though he would willingly, can remove pleasure. It still attends
when we eat, sleep, bathe, or anoint, and takes care of and nurses
the diseased; dissipating all that is hurtful and disagreeable, by
applying that which is proper, pleasing, and natural. For what
pain, what want, what poison so quickly and so easily cures a
disease as seasonable bathing? A glass of wine, when a man wants
it, or a dish of palatable meat, presently frees us from all
disturbing particles, and settles nature in its proper state, there
being as it were a calm and serenity spread over the troubled
humors. But those remedies that are painful do hardly and by
little and little only promote the cure, every difficulty pushing
on and forcing Nature. And therefore let not Philinus blame us, if
we do not make all the sail we can to fly from pleasure, but more
diligently endeavor to make pleasure and health, than other
philosophers do to make pleasure and honesty, agree. Now, in my
opinion, Philinus, you seem to be out in your first argument, where
you suppose the beasts use more simple food and are more healthy
than men; neither of which is true. The first the goats in Eupolis
confute, for they extol their pasture as full of variety and all
sorts of herbs, in this manner,

We feed almost on every kind of trees,
Young firs, the ilex, and the oak we crop:
Sweet trefoil fragrant juniper, and yew,
Wild olives, thyme,--all freely yield their store.

These that I have mentioned are very different in taste, smell, and
other qualities, and he reckons more sorts which I have omitted.
The second Homer skilfully refutes, when he tells us that the
plague first began amongst the beasts. Besides, the shortness of
their lives proves that they are very subject to diseases;
for there is scarce any irrational creature long lived, besides the
crow and the chough; and those two every one knows do not confine
themselves to simple food, but eat anything. Besides, you take no
good rule to judge what is easy and what is hard of digestion from
the diet of those that are sick; for labor and exercise, and even
to chew our meat well, contribute very much to digestion, neither
of which can agree with a man in a fever. Again, that the variety
of meats, by reason of the different qualities of the particulars,
should disagree and spoil one another, you have no reason to fear.
For if Nature takes from dissimilar bodies what is fit and
agreeable, the diverse nourishment forces many and sundry qualities
into the mass and bulk of the body, applying to every part that
which is meet and fit; so that, as Empedocles words it,

The sweet runs to the sweet, the sour combines
With sour, the sharp with sharp, the salt with salt;

and after being mixed it is spread through the mass by the heat,
the proper parts are separated and applied to the proper members.
Indeed, it is very probable that such bodies as ours, consisting of
parts of different natures, should be nourished and built up rather
of various than of simple matter. But if by concoction there is an
alteration made in the food, this will be more easily performed
when there are different sorts of meat, than when there is only
one, in the stomach; for similars cannot work upon similars and the
very contrariety in the mixture considerably promotes the
alteration of the weakened qualities. But if, Philinus, you are
against all mixture, do not chide Philo only for the variety of his
dishes and sauces, but also for using mixture in his sovereign
antidotes, which Erasistratus calls the gods' hands. Convince him
of absurdity and vanity, when he mixes herbs, metals, and animals,
and things from sea and land, in one potion; and recommend him to
neglect these, and to confine all physic to barley-broth, gourds,
and oil mixed with water. But you urge farther, that variety
enticeth the appetite that hath no command over itself. That is,
good sir, cleanly, wholesome, sweet, palatable, pleasing diet makes
us eat and drink more than ordinary. Why then, instead of fine
flour, do not we thicken our broth with coarse bran? And instead
of asparagus, why do we not dress nettle-tops and thistles;
and leaving this fragrant and pleasant wine, drink sour, harsh
liquor that gnats have been buzzing about a long while?
Because, perhaps you may reply, wholesome feeding doth not consist
in a perfect avoiding of all that is pleasing, but in moderating
the appetite in that respect, and making it prefer profit before
pleasure. But, sir, as a mariner has a thousand ways to avoid a
stiff gale of wind, but when it is clear down and a perfect calm,
cannot raise it again; thus to correct and restrain our extravagant
appetite is no hard matter, but when it grows weak and faint, when
it fails as to its proper objects, then to raise it and make it
vigorous and active again is, sir, a very difficult and hard task.
And therefore variety of viands is as much better than simple food,
which is apt to satisfy by being but of one sort, as it is easier
to stop Nature when she makes too much speed than to force her on
when languishing and faint. Besides, what some say, that fullness
is more to be avoided than emptiness, is not true; but, on the
contrary, fullness then only hurts when it ends in a surfeit or
disease; but emptiness, though it doth no other mischief, is of
itself unnatural. And let this suffice as an answer to what you
proposed. But you sparing men have forgot, that variety is sweeter
and more desired by the appetite, unless too sweet. For, the sight
preparing the way, it is soon assimilated to the eager receiving
body; but that which is not desirable Nature either throws off
again, or keeps it in for mere want. But pray observe this, that I
do not plead for variety in tarts, cakes, or custards;--those are
vain, insignificant, and superfluous things;--but even Plato
allowed variety to those fine citizens of his, setting before them
onions, olives, leeks, cheese, and all sorts of meat and fish, and
besides these, allowed them some comfits.




At a supper in Elis, Agemachus set before us very large mushrooms.
And when all admired at them, one with a smile said, These are
worthy the late thunder, as it were deriding those who imagine
mushrooms are produced by thunder. Some said that thunder did
split the earth, using the air as a wedge for that purpose, and
that by those chinks those that sought after mushrooms were
directed where to find them; and thence it grew a common opinion,
that thunder engenders mushrooms, and not only makes them a passage
to appear; as if one should imagine that a shower of rain breeds
snails, and not rather makes them creep forth and be seen abroad.
Agemachus stood up stiffly for the received opinion, and told us,
we should not disbelieve it only because it was strange, for there
are a thousand other effects of thunder and lightning and a
thousand omens deduced from them, whose causes it is very hard, if
not impossible, to discover; for this laughed-at, this proverbial
mushroom doth not escape the thunder because it is so little, but
because it hath some antipathetical qualities that preserve it from
blasting; as likewise a fig-tree, the skin of a sea-calf (as they
say), and that of the hyena, with which sailors cover the ends of
their sails. And husbandmen call thunder-showers nourishing, and
think them to be so. Indeed, it is absurd to wonder at these
things, when we see the most incredible things imaginable in
thunder, as flame rising out of moist vapors, and from soft clouds
such astonishing noises. Thus, he continued, I prattle, exhorting
you to inquire after the cause; and I shall accept this as your
club for these mushrooms.

Then I began: Agemachus himself helps us exceedingly towards this
discovery; for nothing at the present seems more probable than
that, together with the thunder, oftentimes generative waters fall,
which take that quality from the heat mixed with them. For the
piercing pure parts of the fire break away in lightning; but the
grosser windy part, being wrapped up in cloud, changes it, taking
away the coldness and heating the moisture, altering and being
altered with it, affects it so that it is made fit to enter the
pores of plants, and is easily assimilated to them. Besides, such
rain gives those things which it waters a peculiar temperature and
difference of juice. Thus dew makes the grass sweeter to the
sheep, and the clouds from which a rainbow is reflected make those
trees on which they fall fragrant. And our priests, distinguishing
it by this, call the wood of those trees Iris-struck, fancying that
Iris, or the rainbow, hath rested on them. Now it is probable that
when these thunder and lightning showers with a great deal of
warmth and spirit descend forcibly into the caverns of the earth,
these are rolled around, and knobs and tumors are formed like those
produced by heat and noxious humors in our bodies, which we call
wens or kernels. For a mushroom is not like a plant, neither is it
produced without rain; it hath no root nor sprouts, it depends on
nothing, but is a being by itself, having its substance of the
earth, a little changed and altered. If this discourse seems
frivolous, I assure you that such are most of the effects of
thunder and lightning which we see; and upon that account men think
them to be immediately directed by Heaven, and not depending on
natural causes.

Dorotheus the rhetorician, one of our company, said: You speak
right, sir, for not only the vulgar and illiterate, but even some
of the philosophers, have been of that opinion. I remember here in
this town lightning broke into a house and did a great many strange
things. It let the wine out of a vessel, though the earthen vessel
remained whole; and falling upon a man asleep, it neither hurt him
nor blasted his clothes, but melted certain pieces of silver that
he had in his pocket, defaced them quite, and made them run into a
lump. Upon this he went to a philosopher, a Pythagorean, that
sojourned in the town, and asked the reason; the philosopher
directed him to some expiating rites, and advised him to consider
seriously with himself and go to prayers. And I have been told,
upon a sentinel at Rome, as he stood to guard the temple, burned
the latchet of his shoe, and did no other harm; and several silver
candlesticks lying in wooden boxes, the silver was melted while the
boxes lay untouched. These stories you may believe or not as you
please. But that which is most wonderful, and which everybody
knows, is this,--the bodies of those that are killed by thunderbolt
never putrefy. For many neither burn nor bury such bodies, but let
them lie above ground with a fence about them, so that every one
may see the they remain uncorrupted, confuted by this Euripides's
Clymene, who says thus of Phaeton,

My best beloved, but now he lies
And putrefies in some dark vale.

And I believe brimstone is called [Greek omitted] (DIVINE), because
its smell is like that fiery offensive scent which rises from
bodies that are thunderstruck. And I suppose that, because of this
scent, dogs and birds will not prey on such carcasses. Thus far
have I gone; let him proceed, since he hath been applauded for his
discourse of mushrooms, lest the same jest might be put upon us
that was upon Androcydes the painter. For when in his landscape of
Scylla he painted fish the best and most to the life of anything in
the whole draught, he was said to use his appetite more than his
art, for he naturally loved fish. So some may say that we
philosophize about mushrooms, the cause of whose production is
confessedly doubtful, for the pleasure we take in eating them. ...

And when I put in my suggestion, saying that it was as seasonable
to dispute about thunder and lightning amidst our banquets as it
would be in a comedy to bring in machines to throw out lightning,
the company agreed to omit all other questions relating to the
subject, and desired me only to proceed on this head, Why men
asleep are never struck with lightning. And I, though I knew I
should get no great credit by proposing a cause whose reason was
common to other things, said thus: Lightning is wonderfully
piercing and subtile, partly because it rises from a very pure
substance, and partly because by the swiftness of its motion it
purges itself and throws off all gross earthy particles that are
mixed with it. Nothing, says Democritus, is blasted with
lightning, that cannot resist and stop the motion of the pure
flame. Thus the close bodies, as brass, silver, and the like,
which stop it, feel its force and are melted, because they resist;
whilst rare, thin bodies, and such as are full of pores, are passed
through and are not hurted, as clothes or dry wood. It blasts
green wood or grass, the moisture within them being seized and
kindled by the flame. Now if it is true that men asleep are never
killed by lightning, from what we have proposed, and not from
anything else, we must endeavor to draw the cause. Now the bodies
of those that are awake are stiffer and more apt to resist, all the
parts being full of spirits; which as it were in a harp, distending
and screwing up the organs of sense, makes the body of the animal
firm, close, and compacted. But when men are asleep, the organs
are let down, and the body becomes rare, lax, and loose; and the
spirits failing, it hath abundance of pores, through which small
sounds and smells do flow insensibly. For in that case, there is
nothing that can resist and by this resistance receive any sensible
impression from any objects that are presented, much less from such
as are so subtile and move so swiftly as lightning. Things that
are weak Nature shields from harm, fencing them about with some
hard, thick covering; but those things that cannot be resisted do
less harm to the bodies that yield than to those that oppose their
force. Besides, those that are asleep are not startled at the
thunder; they have no consternation upon them, which kills a great
many that are no otherwise hurt, and we know that thousands die
with the very fear of being killed. Even shepherds teach their
sheep to run together when it thunders, for whilst they lie
scattered they die with fear; and we see thousands fall, which have
no marks of any stroke or fire about them, their souls (as it
seems), like birds, flying out of their bodies at the fright.
For many, as Euripides says,

A clap hath killed, yet ne'er drew drop of blood.

For certainly the hearing is a sense that is soonest and most
vigorously wrought upon, and the fear that is caused by an
astonishing noise raiseth the greatest commotion and disturbance
in the body; from all which men asleep, because insensible, are
secure. But those that are awake are oftentimes killed with fear
before they are touched; the fear contracts and condenses the
body, so that the stroke must be strong, because there is
so considerable a resistance.




At my son Autobulus's marriage, Sossius Senecio from Chaeronea and
a great many other noble persons were present at the same feast;
which gave occasion to this question (Senecio proposed it), why to
a marriage feast more guests are usually invited than to any other.
Nay even those law-givers that chiefly opposed luxury and
profuseness have particularly confined marriage feasts to a set
number. Indeed, in my opinion, he continued, Hecataeus the
Abderite, one of the old philosophers, hath said nothing to the
purpose in this matter, when he tells us that those that marry
wives invite a great many to the entertainment, that many may see
and be witnesses that they being born free take to themselves wives
of the same condition. For, on the contrary, the comedians reflect
on those who revel at their marriages, who make a great ado and are
pompous in their feasts, as such who are taking wives with not much
confidence and courage. Thus, in Menander, one replies to a
bridegroom that bade him beset the house with dishes, ...

Your words are great, but what's this to your bride?

But lest I should seem to find fault with those reasons others
give, only because I have none of my own to produce, continued he,
I will begin by declaring that there is no such evident or public
notice given of any feast as there is of one at a marriage.
For when we sacrifice to the gods, when we take leave of or receive
a friend, a great many of our acquaintance need not know it. But a
marriage dinner is proclaimed by the loud sound of the wedding
song, by the torches and the music, which as Homer expresseth it,

The women stand before the doors to see and hear.
(Iliad, xviii. 495.)

And therefore when everybody knows it, the persons are ashamed to
omit the formality of an invitation, and therefore entertain their
friends and kindred, and every one that they are anyway
acquainted with.

This being generally approved, Well, said Theo, speaking next, let
it be so, for it looks like truth; but let this be added, if you
please, that such entertainments are not only friendly, but also
kindredly, the persons beginning to have a new relation to another
family. But there is something more considerable, and that is
this; since by this marriage two families join in one, the man
thinks it his duty to be civil and obliging to the woman's friends,
and the woman's friends think themselves obliged to return the same
to him and his; and upon this account the company is doubled.
And besides, since most of the little ceremonies belonging to the
wedding are performed by women, it is necessary that, where they
are entertained, their husbands should be likewise present.




Aedepsus in Euboea, where the baths are, is a place by nature every
way fitted for free and gentle pleasures, and withal so beautified
with stately edifices and dining rooms, that one would take it for
no other than the common place of repast for all Greece.
Here, though the earth and air yield plenty of creatures for the
service of men, the sea no less furnisheth the table with variety
of dishes, nourishing a store of delicious fish in its deep and
clear waters. This place is especially frequented in the spring;
for hither at this time of year abundance of people resort,
solacing themselves in the mutual enjoyment of all those pleasures
the place affords, and at spare hours pass away the time in many
useful and edifying discourses. When Callistratus the Sophist
lived here, it was a hard matter to dine at any place besides his
house; for he was so extremely courteous and obliging, that no man
whom he invited to dinner could have the face to say him nay.
One of his best humors was to pick up all the pleasant fellows he
could meet with, and put them in the same room. Sometimes he did,
as Cimon one of the ancients used to do, and satisfactorily treated
men of all sorts and fashions. But he always (so to speak)
followed Celeus, who was the first man, it is said, that assembled
daily a number of honorable persons of distinction, and called the
place where they met the Prytaneum.

Several times at these public meetings divers agreeable discourses
were raised; and it fell out that once a very splendid treat,
adorned with all variety of dainties, gave occasion for inquiries
concerning food, whether the land or sea yielded better. Here when
a great part of the company were highly commanding the land, as
abounding with many choice, nay, an infinite variety of all sorts
of creatures, Polycrates calling to Symmachus, said to him:
But you, sir, being an animal bred between two seas, and brought up
among so many which surround your sacred Nicopolis, will not you
stand up for Neptune? Yes, I will, replied Symmachus, and
therefore command you to stand by me, who enjoy the most pleasant
part of all the Achaean Sea. Well, says Polycrates, the beginning
of my discourse shall be grounded upon custom; for as of a great
number of poets we usually give one, who far excels the rest, the
famous name of poet; so though there be many sorts of dainties, yet
custom has so prevailed that the fish alone, or above all the rest,
is called [Greek omitted], because it is more excellent than all
others. For we do not call those gluttonous and great eaters who
love beef as Hercules, who after flesh used to eat green figs;
nor those that love figs, as Plato; nor lastly, those that are for
grapes, as Arcesilaus; but those who frequent the fish-market, and
soonest hear the market-bell. Thus when Demosthenes had told
Philocrates that the gold he got by treachery was spent upon whores
and fish, he upbraids him as a gluttonous and lascivious fellow.
And Ctesiphon said pat enough, when a certain glutton cried aloud
in company that he should burst asunder: No, by no means let us be
baits for your fish! And what did he mean, do you think, who made
this verse,

You capers gnaw, when you may sturgeon eat?

And what, for God's sake, do those men mean who, inviting one
another to sumptuous collations, usually say: To-day we will dine
upon the shore? Is it not that they suppose, what is certainly
true, that a dinner upon the shore is of all others most delicious?
Not by reason of the waves and stones in that place,--for who upon
the sea-coast would be content to feed upon a pulse or a caper?--
but because their table is furnished with plenty of fresh fish.
Add to this, that sea-food is dearer than any other.
Wherefore Cato inveighing against the luxury of the city, did not
exceed the bounds of truth, when he said that at Rome a fish was
sold for more than an ox. For they sell a small pot of fish for as
much as a hecatomb of sheep and all the accessories of sacrifice.
Besides, as the physician is the best judge of physic, and the
musician of songs; so he is able to give the best account of the
goodness of meat who is the greatest lover of it. For I will not
make Pythagoras and Xenocrates arbitrators in this case;
but Antagoras the poet, and Philoxenus the son of Eryxis, and
Androcydes the painter, of whom it was reported that, when he drew
a landscape of Scylla, he drew fish in a lively manner swimming
round her, because he was a great lover of them. So Antigonus the
king, surprising Antagoras the poet in the habit of a cook,
broiling congers in his tent, said to him: Dost thou think that
Homer was dressing congers when he writ Agamemnon's famous
exploits? And he as smartly replied: Do you think that Agamemnon
did so many famous exploits when he was inquiring who dressed
congers in the camp? These arguments, says Polycrates, I have urged
in behalf of fishmongers, drawing them from testimony and custom.

But, says Symmachus, I will go more seriously to work, and more
like a logician. For if that may truly be said to be a relish
which gives meat the best relish, it will evidently follow, that
that is the best sort of relish which gets men the best stomach to
their meat. Therefore, as those philosophers who were called
Elpistics (from the Greek word signifying hope, which above all
others they cried up) averred that there was nothing in the world
which concurred more to the preservation of life than hope, without
whose gracious influence life would be a burden and altogether
intolerable; in the like manner that of all other things may be
said to get us a stomach to our meat without which all meat would
be unpalatable and nauseous. And among all those things the earth
yields, we find no such things as salt, which we can only have from
the sea. First of all, without salt, there would be nothing
eatable which mixed with flour seasons bread also. Neptune and
Ceres had both the same temple. Besides, salt is the most pleasant
of all condiments. For those heroes who like athletes used
themselves to a spare diet, banishing from their tables all vain
and superfluous delicacies, to such a degree that when they
encamped by the Hellespont they abstained from fish, yet for all
this could not eat flesh without salt; which is a sufficient
evidence that salt is the most desirable of all relishes. For as
colors need light, so tastes require salt, that they may affect the
sense, unless you would have them very nauseous and unpleasant.
For, as Heraclitus used to say, a carcass is more abominable than
dung. Now all flesh is dead and part of a lifeless carcass;
but the virtue of salt, being added to it, like a soul, gives it a
pleasing relish and a poignancy. Hence it comes to pass that
before meat men use to take sharp things, and such as have much
salt in them; for these beguile us into an appetite. And whoever
has his stomach sharpened with these sets cheerfully and freshly
upon all other sorts of meat. But if he begin with any other kind
of food, all on a sudden his stomach grows dull and languid.
And therefore salt doth not only make meat but drink palatable.
For Homer's onion, which, he tells us, they were used to eat before
they drank, was fitter for seamen and boatmen than kings.
Things moderately salt, by being pleasing to the mouth, make all
sorts of wine mild and palateable, and water itself of a pleasing
taste. Besides, salt creates none of those troubles which an onion
does, but digests all other kinds of meat, making them tender and
fitter for concoction; so that at the same time it is sauce to the
palate and physic to the body. But all other seafood, besides this
pleasantness, is also very innocent for though it be fleshly, yet
it does not load the stomach as all other flesh does, but is easily
concocted and digested. This Zeno will avouch for me, and Crato
too, who confine sick persons to a fish diet, as of all others the
lightest sort of meat. And it stands with reason, that the sea
should produce the most nourishing and wholesome food, seeing it
yields us the most refined, the purest and therefore the most
agreeable air.

You say right, says Lamprias, but let us think of something else to
confirm what you have spoken. I remember my old grandfather was
used to say in derision of the Jews, that they abstained from most
lawful flesh; but we will say that that is the most lawful meat
which comes from the sea. For we can claim no great right over
land creatures, which are nourished with the same food, draw the
same air, wash in and drink the same water, that we do ourselves;
and when they are slaughtered, they make us ashamed of what we are
doing, with their hideous cries; and then again, by living amongst
us, they arrive at some degree of familiarity and intimacy with us.
But sea creatures are altogether strangers to us, and are born and
brought up as it were in another world; neither does their voice,
look, or any service they have done us plead for their life.
For this kind of creatures are of no use at all to us, nor is there
any necessity that we should love them. But that place which we
inhabit is hell to them, and as soon as ever they enter upon it
they die.




After these things were spoken, and some in the company were minded
to say something in defence of the contrary opinion, Callistratus
interrupted their discourse and said: Sirs, what do you think of
that which was spoken against the Jews, that they abstain from the
most lawful flesh? Very well said, quoth Polycrates, for that is a
thing I very much question, whether it was that the Jews abstained
from swine's flesh because they conferred divine honor upon that
creature, or because they had a natural aversion to it.
For whatever we find in their own writings seems to be altogether
fabulous, except they have some more solid reasons which they have
no mind to discover.

Hence it is, says Callistratus, that I am of an opinion that this
nation has that creature in some veneration; and though it be
granted that the hog is an ugly and filthy creature, yet it is not
quite so vile nor naturally stupid as a beetle, griffin, crocodile,
or cat, most of which are worshipped as the most sacred things by
some priests amongst the Egyptians. But the reason why the hog is
had in so much honor and veneration amongst them is, because as the
report goes, that creature breaking up the earth with its snout
showed the way to tillage, and taught them how to use the
ploughshare, which instrument for that very reason, as some say,
was called HYNIS from [Greek omitted], A SWINE. Now the Egyptians
inhabiting a country situated low and whose soil is naturally soft,
have no need of the plough; but after the river Nile hath retired
from the grounds it overflowed, they presently let in all their
hogs into the fields, and they with their feet and snout break up
the ground, and cover the sown seed. Nor ought this to seem
strange to anyone, that there are in the world those that abstain
from swine's flesh on such an account as this; when it is evident
that in barbarous nations there are other animals had in greater
honor and veneration for lesser reasons, if not altogether
ridiculous. For the field-mouse only for its blindness was
worshipped as a god among the Egyptians, because they were of an
opinion that darkness was before light and that the latter had its
birth from mice about the fifth generation at the new moon;
and moreover that the liver of this creature diminishes in the wane
of the moon. But they consecrate the lion to the sun, because the
lioness alone, of all clawed four-footed beasts, brings forth her
young with their eyesight; for they sleep in a moment, and when
they are asleep their eyes sparkle. Besides, they place gaping
lions' heads for the spouts of their fountains, because Nilus
overflows the Egyptian fields when the sign is Leo: they give it
out that their bird ibis, as soon as hatched, weighs two drachms,
which are of the same weight with the heart of a newborn infant;
and that its legs being spread with the bill an exact equilateral
triangle. And yet who can find fault with the Egyptians for these
trifles, when it is left upon record that the Pythagoreans
worshipped a white cock, and of sea creatures abstained especially
from mullet and urtic. The Magi that descended from Zoroaster
adored the land hedgehog above other creatures but had a deadly
spite against water-rats, and thought that man was dear in the eyes
of the gods who destroyed most of them. But I should think that if
the Jews had such an antipathy against a hog, they would kill it as
the magicians do mice; when, on the contrary, they are by their
religion as much prohibited to kill as to eat it. And perhaps
there may be some reason given for this; for as the ass is
worshipped by them as the first discoverer of fountains, so perhaps
the hog may be had in like veneration, which first taught them to
sow and plough. Nay, some say that the Jews also abstain from
hares, as abominable and unclean creatures.

They have reason for that, said Lamprias, because a hare is so like
an ass which they detest; for in its color, ears, and the sparkling
of its eyes, it is so like an ass, that I do not know any little
creature that represents a great one so much as a hare doth an ass;
except in this likewise imitating the Egyptians, they suppose that
there is something of divinity in the swiftness of this creature,
as also in its quickness of sense; for the eyes of hares are so
unwearied that they sleep with them open. Besides, they seem to
excel all other creatures in quickness of hearing; whence it was
that the Egyptians painted a hare's ear amongst their other
hieroglyphics, as an emblem of hearing. But the Jews do hate
swine's flesh, because all the barbarians are naturally fearful of
a scab and leprosy, which they presume comes by eating such kind of
flesh. For we may observe that all pigs under the belly are
overspread with a leprosy and scab; which may be supposed to
proceed from an ill disposition of body and corruption within,
which breaks out through the skin. Besides, swine's feeding is
commonly so nasty and filthy, that it must of necessity cause
corruptions and vicious humors; for, setting aside those creatures
that are bred from and live upon dung, there is no other creature
that takes so much delight to wallow in the mire and in other
unclean and stinking places. Hogs' eyes are said to be so
flattened and fixed upon the ground, that they see nothing above
them, nor ever look up to the sky, except when turned upon their
back they turn their eyes upwards contrary to nature.
Therefore this creature, at other times most clamorous' when laid
upon his back, is still, as astonished at the unusual sight of the
heavens; while the greatness of the fear he is in (as it is
supposed) is the cause of his silence. And if it be lawful to
intermix our discourse with fables, it is said that Adonis was
slain by a boar. Now Adonis is supposed to be the same with
Bacchus; and there are a great many rites in both their sacrifices
which confirm this opinion. Others will have Adonis to be
Bacchus's paramour; and Phanocles an amorous love-poet writes thus,

Bacchus on hills the fair Adonis saw,
And ravished him, and reaped a wondrous joy.




Here Symmachus, greatly wondering at what was spoken, says:
What, Lamprias, will you permit our tutelar god, called Evius, the
inciter of women, famous for the honors he has conferred upon him
by madmen, to be inscribed and enrolled in the mysteries of the
Jews? Or is there any solid reason that can be given to prove
Adonis to be the same with Bacchus? Here Moeragenes interposing,
said: Do not be so fierce upon him, for I who am an Athenian
answer you, and tell you, in short, that these two are the very
same. And no man is able or fit to bring the chief confirmation of
this truth, but those amongst us who are initiated and skilled in
the triennial [Greek omitted] or chief mysteries of the god.
But what no religion forbids to speak of among friends, especially
over wine, the gift of Bacchus, I am ready at the command of these
gentlemen to disclose.

When all the company requested and earnestly begged it of him;
first of all (says he), the time and manner of the greatest and
most holy solemnity of the Jews is exactly agreeable to the holy
rites of Bacchus; for that which they call the Fast they celebrate
in the midst of the vintage, furnishing their tables with all sorts
of fruits while they sit under tabernacles made of vines and ivy;
and the day which immediately goes before this they call the day of
Tabernacles. Within a few days after they celebrate another feast,
not darkly but openly, dedicated to Bacchus, for they have a feast
amongst them called Kradephoria, from carrying palm-trees, and
Thyrsophoria, when they enter into the temple carrying thyrsi.
What they do within I know not; but it is very probable that they
perform the rites of Bacchus. First they have little trumpets,
such as the Grecians used to have at their Bacchanalia to call upon
their gods withal. Others go before them playing upon harps, which
they call Levites, whether so named from Lusius or Evius,--either
word agrees with Bacchus. And I suppose that their Sabbaths have
some relation to Bacchus; for even now many call the Bacchi by the
name of Sabbi, and they make use of that word at the celebration of
Bacchus's orgies. And this may be discovered out of Demosthenes
and Menander. Nor would it be out of place, were any one to say
that the name Sabbath was given to this feast from the agitation
and excitement [Greek omitted] which the priests of Bacchus
display. The Jews themselves witness no less; for when they keep
the Sabbath, they invite one another to drink till they are drunk;
or if they chance to be hindered by some more weighty business, it
is the fashion at least to taste the wine. Some perhaps may
surmise that these are mere conjectures. But there are other
arguments which will clearly evince the truth of what I assert.
The first may be drawn from their High-priest, who on holidays
enters their temple with his mitre on, arrayed in a skin of a hind
embroidered with gold, wearing buskins, and a coat hanging down to
his ankles; besides, he has a great many little bells depending
from his garment which make a noise as he walks. So in the
nocturnal ceremonies of Bacchus (as the fashion is amongst us),
they make use of music, and call the god's nurses [Greek omitted].
High up on the wall of their temple is a representation of the
thyrsus and timbrels, which surely suits no other god than Bacchus.
Moreover, they are forbidden the use of honey in their sacrifices,
because they suppose that a mixture of honey corrupts and deads the
wine. And honey was used for a libation in former days and with it
the ancients were wont to make themselves drunk, before the vine
was known. And at this day barbarous people who want wine drink
metheglin, allaying the sweetness of the honey by bitter roots,
much of the taste of our wine. The Greeks offered to their gods
these temperate offerings or honey-offerings, as they called them,
because that honey was of a nature quite contrary to wine.
But this is no inconsiderable argument that Bacchus was worshipped
by the Jews, in that, amongst other kinds of punishment, that was
most remarkably odious by which malefactors were forbid the use of
wine for so long a time as the judge thought fit to prescribe.
Those thus punished. ...

(The remainder of the Fourth Book is wanting.)










What is your opinion at present, Sossius Senecio, of the pleasures
of mind and body, is not evident to me;

Because us two a thousand things divide,
Vast shady hills, and the rough ocean's tide.
("Iliad" i. 156)

But formerly, I am sure, you did not lean to nor like their
opinion, who will not allow the soul to have any proper agreeable
pleasure, which without respect to the body she desires for
herself; but define that she lives as a form assistant to the body,
is directed by the passions of it, and, as that is affected, is
either pleased or grieved, or, like a looking-glass, only receives
the images of those sensible impressions made upon the body.
This sordid and debasing opinion is especially confuted as follows;
for at a feast, the genteel well-bred men after supper fall upon
some topic or another as second course, and cheer one another by
their pleasant talk. Now the body hath very little or no share in
this; which evidently proves that this is a particular banquet for
the soul, and that those pleasures are peculiar to her, and
different from those which pass to her through the body and are
vitiated thereby. Now, as nurses, when they feed children, taste a
little of their pap, and have but little pleasure therefrom, but
when the infants are satisfied, leave crying, and go to sleep, then
being at their own disposal, they take such meat and drink as is
agreeable to their own bodies; thus the soul partakes of the
pleasures that arise from eating and drinking, like a nurse, being
subservient to the appetites of the body, kindly yielding to its
necessities and wants, and calming its desires; but when that is
satisfied and at rest, then being free from her business and
servile employment, she seeks her own proper pleasures, revels on
discourse, problems, stories, curious questions, or subtle
resolutions. Nay, what shall a man say, when he sees the dull
unlearned fellows after supper minding such pleasures as have not
the least relation to the body? They tell tales, propose riddles,
or set one another a-guessing at names, comprised and hid under
such and such numbers. Thus mimics, drolls, Menander and his
actors were admitted into banquets, not because they can free the
eye from any pain, or raise any tickling motion in the flesh;
but because the soul, being naturally philosophical and a lover of
instruction, covets its own proper pleasure and satisfaction, when
it is free from the trouble of looking after the body.




Of this we discoursed in your company at Athens, when Strato the
comedian (for he was a man of great credit) flourished. For being
entertained at supper by Boethus the Epicurean, with a great many
more of the sect, as it usually happens when learned and
inquisitive men meet together, the remembrance of the comedy led us
to this inquiry,--Why we are disturbed at the real voices of men,
either angry, pensive, or afraid, and yet are delighted to hear
others represent them, and imitate their gestures, speeches, and
exclamations. Every one in the company gave almost the same
reason. For they said, he that only represents excels him that
really feels, inasmuch as he doth not suffer the misfortunes;
which we knowing are pleased and delighted on that account.

But I, though it was not properly my talent, said that we, being by
nature rational and lovers of ingenuity, are delighted with and
admire everything that is artificially and ingeniously contrived.
For as a bee, naturally loving sweet things, seeks after and flies
to anything that has any mixture of honey in it; so man, naturally
loving ingenuity and elegancy, is very much inclined to accept and
highly approve every word or action that is seasoned with wit and
judgement. Thus, if any one offers a child a piece of bread, and
at the same time, a little dog or ox made in paste, we shall see
the boy run eagerly to the latter; so likewise if anyone, offers
silver in the lump, and another a beast or a cup of the same metal,
he will rather choose that in which he sees a mixture of art and
reason. Upon the same account it is that a child is much in love
with riddles, and such fooleries as are difficult and intricate;
for whatever is curious and subtle doth attract and allure mankind,
as antecedently to all instruction agreeable and proper to it.
And therefore, because he that is really affected with grief or
anger presents us with nothing but the common bare passion, but in
the imitation some dexterity and persuasiveness appears, we are
naturally inclined to be disturbed at the former, whilst the latter
delights us. It is unpleasant to see a sick man, or one at his
last gasp; yet with content we can look upon the picture of
Philoctetes, or the statue of Jocasta, in whose face it is commonly
said that the workmen mixed silver, so that the brass might depict
the face and color of one ready to faint and expire. And this,
said I, the Cyrenaics may use as a strong argument against you
Epicureans, that all the sense of pleasure which arises from the
working of any object on the ear or eye is not in those organs, but
in the intellect itself. Thus the continual cackling of a hen or
cawing of a crow is very ungrateful and disturbing; yet he that
imitates those noises well pleases the hearers. Thus to behold a
consumptive man is no delightful spectacle; yet with pleasure we
can view the pictures and statues of such persons, because the very
imitating hath something in it very agreeable to the mind, which
allures and captivates its faculties. For upon what other account,
for God's sake, from what external impression upon our organs,
should men be moved to admire Parmeno's sow so much as to pass it
into a proverb? Yet it is reported, that Parmeno being very famous
for imitating the grunting of a pig, some endeavoured to rival and
outdo him. And when the hearers, being prejudiced, cried out, Very
well indeed, but nothing comparable to Parmeno's sow; one took a
pig under his arm and came upon the stage. And when, though they
heard the very pig, they still continued, This is nothing
comparable to Parmeno's sow; he threw his pig amongst them, to show
that they judged according to opinion and not truth. And hence it
is very evident, that like motions of the sense do not always raise
like affections in the mind, when there is not an opinion that the
thing done was not neatly and ingeniously performed.



At the solemnity of the Pythian names, there was a consult about
taking away all such sports as had lately crept in and were not of
ancient institution. For after they had taken in the tragedy in
addition to the three ancient, which were as old as the solemnity
itself, the Pythian piper, the harper, and the singer to the harp,
as if a large gate were opened, they could not keep out an infinite
crowd of plays and musical entertainments of all sorts that rushed
in after him. Which indeed made no unpleasant variety, and
increased the company, but yet impaired the gravity and neatness of
the solemnity. Besides it must create a great deal of trouble to
the umpires, and considerable dissatisfaction to very many, since
but few could obtain the prize. It was chiefly agreed upon, that
the orators and poets should be removed; and this determination did
not proceed from any hatred to learning, but forasmuch as such
contenders are the most noted and worthiest men of all, therefore
they reverence them, and were troubled that, when they must judge
every one very deserving, they could not bestow the prize equally
upon all. I, being present at this consult, dissuaded those who
were for removing things from their present settled order, and who
thought this variety as unsuitable to the solemnity as many strings
and many notes to an instrument. And when at supper, Petraeus the
president and director of the sports entertaining us, the same
subject was discoursed on, I defended music, and maintained that
poetry was no upstart intruder, but that it was time out of mind
admitted into the sacred games, and crowns were given to the best
performer. Some straight imagined that I intended to produce some
old musty stories, like the funeral solemnities of Oeolycus the
Thessalian or of Amphidamas the Chalcidean, in which they say Homer
and Hesiod contended for the prize. But passing by these instances
as the common theme of every grammarian, as likewise their
criticisms who, in the description of Patroclus's obsequies in
Homer, read [Greek omitted] ORATORS, and not [Greek omitted],
DARTERS, ("Iliad," xxiii, 886.) as if Achilles had proposed a prize
for the best speaker,--omitting all these, I said that Acastus at
his father Pelias's funeral set a prize for contending poets, and
Sibylla won it. At this, a great many demanding some authority for
this unlikely and incredible relation, I happily recollecting
myself produced Acesander, who in his description of Africa hath
this relation; but I must confess this is no common book.
But Polemo the Athenian's "Commentary of the Treasures of the City
Delphi" I suppose most of you have diligently perused, he being a
very learned man in the Greek Antiquities. In him you shall find
that in the Sicyonian treasure there was a golden book dedicated to
the god, with this inscription: Aristomache, the poetess of
Erythraea, dedicated this after she had got the prize at the
Isthmian games. Nor is there any reason, I continued, why we
should so admire and reverence the Olympic games, as if, like Fate,
they were unalterable, and never admitted any change since the
first institution. For the Pythian, it is true, hath had three or
four musical prizes added; but all the exercises of the body were
for the most part the same from the beginning. But in the 0lympian
all beside racing are late additions. They instituted some, and
abolished them again; such were the races of mules, either rode or
in a chariot as likewise the crown appointed for boys that were
victor's in the five contests. And, in short, a thousand things in
those games are mere novelties. At Pisa they had a single combat,
where he that yielded or was overcome was killed upon the place.
But pray for the future require no author for my story, lest I may
appear ridiculous if amidst my cups I should forget the name.




This question was started, why the Isthmian garland was made of
pine. We were then at supper in Corinth, in the time of the
Isthmian games, with Lucanius the chief priest. Praxiteles the
commentator brought this fable for a reason; it is said that the
body of Melicertes was found fixed to a pine-tree by the sea;
and not far from Megara, there is a place called the Race of a Fair
Lady, through which the Megarians say that Ino, with her son
Melicertes in her arms, ran to the sea. And when many put forth
the common opinion, that the pine-tree garland peculiarly belongs
to Neptune, Lucanius added that it is sacred to Bacchus too, but
yet, for all that, it might also be appropriated to the honor of
Melicertes; this started the question, why the ancients dedicated
the pine to Neptune and Bacchus. As for my part, it did not seem
incongruous to me, for both the gods seem to preside over the moist
and generative principle; and almost all the Greeks sacrifice to
Neptune the nourisher of plants, and to Bacchus the preserver of
trees. Besides, it may be said that the pine peculiarly agrees to
Neptune, not, as Apollodorus thinks, because it grows by the
seaside, or because it loves a bleak place (for some give this
reason), but because it is used in building ships; for it together
with the like trees, as fir and cypress, affords the best and the
lightest timber, and likewise pitch and rosin, without which the
compacted planks would be altogether unserviceable at sea.
To Bacchus they dedicate the pine, because it seasons wine, for
among the pines they say the sweetest and most delicious grapes
grow. The cause of this Theophrastus thinks to be the heat of the
soil; for pines grow most in chalky grounds. Now chalk is hot, and
therefore must very much conduce to the concoction of the wine;
as a chalky spring affords the lightest and sweetest water; and if
chalk is mixed with corn, by its heat it makes the grains swell,
and considerably increases the heap. Besides, it is probable that
the vine itself is bettered by the pine, for that contains several
things which are good to preserve wine. All cover the insides of
wine casks with rosin, and many mix rosin with wine, as the
Euboeans in Greece, and in Italy those that live about the river
Po. From the parts of Gaul about Vienna there is a sort of pitched
wine brought, which the Romans value very much; for such things
mixed with it do not only give it a good flavor, but make the wine
generous, taking away by their gentle heat all the crude, watery,
and undigested particles. When I had said thus much, a rhetorician
in the company, a man well read in all sorts of polite learning,
cried out: Good Gods! was it not but the other day that the
Isthmian garland began to be made of pine? And was not the crown
anciently of twined parsley? I am sure in a certain comedy a
covetous man is brought in speaking thus:--

The Isthmian garland I will sell as cheap
As common wreaths of parsley may be sold.

And Timaeus the historian says that, when the Corinthians were
marching to fight the Carthaginians in the defence of Sicily, some
persons carrying parsley met them, and when several looked upon
this as a bad omen,--because parsley is accounted unlucky, and
those that are dangerously sick we usually say have need of
parsley,--Timoleon encouraged them by putting them in mind of the
Isthmian parsley garland with which the Corinthians used to crown
the conquerors. And besides, the admiral-ship of Antigonus's navy,
having by chance some parsley growing on its poop, was called
Isthmia. Besides, a certain obscure epigram upon an earthen vessel
stopped with parsley intimates the same thing. It runs thus:--

The Grecian earth, now hardened by the flame,
Holds in its hollow belly Bacchus blood;
And hath its mouth with Isthmian branches stopped.

Sure, he continued, they never read these authors, who cry up the
pine as anciently wreathed in the Isthmian garlands, and would not
have it some upstart intruder. The young men yielded presently to
him, as being a man of various reading and very learned.

But Lucanius, with a smile looking upon me, cried out: Good God! here's a deal of learning. But others have taken advantage of our ignorance and unacquaintedness with such matters, and, on the contrary, persuaded us that the pine was the first garland, and that afterwards in honor of Hercules the parsley was received from the Nemean games, which in a little time prevailing, thrust out the pine, as if it were its right to be the wreath; but a little while after the pine recovered its ancient honor, and now flourishes in its glory. I was satisfied, and upon consideration found that I had run across a great many authorities for it. Thus Euphorion writes of Melicertes,

They mourned the youth, and him on pine boughs laid
Of which the Isthmian victors' crowns are made.
Fate had not yet seized beauteous Mene's son
By smooth Asopus; since whose fall the crown
Of parsley wreathed did grace the victor's brow.

And Callimachus is plainer and more express, when he makes
Hercules speak thus of parsley,

This at Isthmian sports
To Neptune's glory now shall be the crown;
The pine shall be disused, which heretofore
In Corinth's fields successful victors wore.

And besides, if I am not mistaken, in Procles's history of the
Isthmian games I met with this passage; at first a pine garland
crowned the conqueror, but when this game began to be reckoned
amongst the sacred, then from the Nemean solemnity the parsley was
received. And this Procles was one of Xenocrates's fellow-
students at the Academy.


("Iliad," ix. 203.)


Some at the table were of opinion that Achilles talked nonsense
when he bade Patroclus "mix the wine stronger," adding
this reason,

For now I entertain my dearest friends.

But Niceratus a Macedonian, my particular acquaintance, maintained
that [Greek omitted] did not signify pure but hot wine; as if it
were derived from [Greek omitted] and [Greek omitted] (LIFE-GIVING
AND BOILING), and it were requisite at the coming of his friends to
temper a fresh bowl, as every one of us in his offering at the
altar pours out fresh wine. But Sosicles the poet, remembering a
saying of Empedocles, that in the great universal change those
things which before were [Greek omitted], UNMIXED, should then be
[Greek omitted], affirmed that [Greek omitted] there signified
[Greek omitted], WELL-TEMPERED, and that Achilles might with a
great deal of reason bid Patroclus provide well-tempered wine for
the entertainment of his friends; and it was absurd (he said) to
use [Greek omitted] for [Greek omitted] any more than [Greek
omitted] for [Greek omitted], or [Greek omitted] for [Greek
omitted], for the comparatives are very properly put for the
positives. My friend Antipater said that years were anciently
called [Greek omitted], and that the particle [Greek omitted] in
composition signified greatness; and therefore old wine, that had
been kept for many years, was called by Achilles [Greek omitted].

I put them in mind that some imagine that [Greek omitted], hot, is
signified by [Greek omitted], and that hotter means really faster,
as when we command servants to move themselves more hotly or in
hotter haste. But I must confess, your dispute is frivolous, since
it is raised upon this supposition that if [Greek omitted],
signifies more pure wine, Achilles's command would be absurd, as
Zoilus of Amphipolis imagined. For first he did not consider that
Achilles saw Phoenix and Ulysses to be old men, who are not pleased
with diluted wine, and upon that account forbade any mixture.
Besides, he having been Chiron's scholar, and from him having
learned the rules of diet, he considered that weaker and more
diluted liquors were fittest for those bodies that lay at ease, and
were not employed in their customary exercise or labor. Thus with
the other provender he gave his horses smallage, and this upon very
good reason; for horses that lie still grow sore in their feet, and
smallage is the best remedy in the world against that. And you
will not find smallage or anything of the same nature given to any
other horses in the whole "Iliad." Thus Achilles, being
experienced in physic, provided suitable provender for his horses,
and used the lightest diet himself, as the fittest whilst he lay at
ease. But those that had been wearied all day in fight he did not
think convenient to treat like those that had lain at ease, but
commanded more pure and stronger wine to be prepared.
Besides, Achilles doth not appear to be naturally addicted to
drinking, but he was of a haughty, inexorable temper.

No pleasant humor, no, soft mind he bore,
But was all fire and rage.
("Iliad," xx. 467.)

And in another place very plainly Homer says, that

Many a sleepless night he knew.
("Iliad," ix. 325.)

Now little sleep cannot content those that drink strong liquors;
and in his railing at Agamemnon, the first ill name he gives him
is drunkard, proposing his great drinking as the chiefest of his
faults. And for these reasons it is likely that, when they came,
he thought his usual mixture too weak and not convenient for them.




At my return from Alexandria all my friends by turns treated me,
inviting all such too as were any way acquainted, so that our
meetings were usually tumultuous and suddenly dissolved;
which disorders gave occasion to discourses concerning the
inconveniences that attend such crowded entertainments. But when
Onesicrates the physician in his turn invited only the most
familiar acquaintance, and men of the most agreeable temper, I
thought that what Plato says concerning the increase of cities
might be applied to entertainments. For there is a certain number
which an entertainment may receive, and still be an entertainment;
but if it exceeds that, so that by reason of the number there
cannot be a mutual conversation amongst all, if they cannot know
one another nor partake of the same jollity, it ceaseth to be such.
For we should not want messengers there, as in a camp, or
boatswains, as in a galley; but we ourselves should immediately
converse with one another. As in a dance, so in an entertainment,
the last man should be placed within hearing of the first.

As I was speaking, my grandfather Lamprias cried out: Then it seems
there is need of temperance not only in our feasts, but also in our
invitations. For methinks there is even an excess in kindness,
when we pass by none of our friends, but draw them all in, as to
see a sight or hear a play. And I think, it is not so great a
disgrace for the entertainer not to have bread or wine enough for
his, guests, as not to have room enough, with which he ought always
to be provided, not only for invited guests, strangers and chance
visitants. For suppose he hath not wine and bread enough, it may
be imputed either to the carelessness or dishonesty of his
servants; but the want of room must be imputed to the imprudence of
the inviter. Hesiod is very much admired for beginning thus,

A vast chaos first was made.
(Hesiod, "Theogony," 116.)

For it was necessary that there should be first a place and room
provided for the beings that were afterward to be produced;
and not as was seen yesterday at my son's entertainment, according
to Anaxagoras's saying,

All lay jumbled together.

But suppose a man hath room and provision enough, yet a large company itself is to be avoided for its own sake, as hindering all familiarity and conversation; and it is more tolerable to let the company have no wine, than to exclude all converse from a feast. And therefore Theophrastus jocularly called the barbers' shops feasts without wine; because those that sit there usually prattle and discourse. But those that invite a crowd at once deprive all of free communication of discourse, or rather make them divide into cabals, so that two or three privately talk together, and neither know nor look on those that sit, as it were, half a mile distant.

Some took this way to valiant Ajax's tent,
And some the other to Achilles' went.
("Iliad," xi. 7.)

And therefore some rich men are foolishly profuse, who build rooms
big enough for thirty tables or more at once; for such a
preparation certainly is for unsociable and unfriendly
entertainments, and such as are fit for a panegyriarch rather than
a symposiarch to preside over. But this may be pardoned in those;
for wealth would not he wealth, it would be really blind and
imprisoned, unless it had witnesses, as tragedies would be devoid
of spectators. Let us entertain few and often, and make that a
remedy against having a crowd at once. For those that invite but
seldom are forced to have all their friends, and all that upon any
account they are acquainted with together; but those that invite
frequently, and but three or four, render their entertainments like
little barks, light and nimble. Besides, the very reason why we
ask friends teaches us to select some out of the number. For as
when we are in want we do not call all together, but only those
that can best afford, help in that particular case,--when we would
be advised, the wiser part; and when we are to have a trial, the
best pleaders; and when we are to go a journey, those that can live
pleasantly and are at leisure,--thus to our entertainments we
should only call those that are at the present agreeable.
Agreeable, for instance, to a prince's entertainment will be the
magistrates, if they are his friends, or chiefest of the city;
to marriage or birthday feasts, all their kindred, and such as are
under the protection of the same Jupiter the guardian of
consanguinity; and to such feasts and merry-makings as this those
are to be invited whose tempers are most suitable to the occasion.
When we offer sacrifice to one god, we do not worship all the
others that belong to the same temple and altar at the same time;
but suppose we have three bowls, out of the first we pour oblations
to some, out of the second to others and out of the third to the
rest, and none of the gods take distaste. And in this a company of
friends may be likened to the company of gods; none takes distaste
at the order of the invitation, if it be prudently managed and
every one allowed a turn.



After this it was presently asked, why the room which at the
beginning of supper seems too narrow for the guest is afterwards
wide enough; when the contrary is most likely, after they are
filled with the supper. Some said the posture of our sitting was
the cause; for they sit when they eat, with their full breadth to
the table, that they may command it with their right hand;
but after they have supped, they sit more sideways, and make an
acute figure with their bodies, and do not touch the place
according to the superficies, if I may so say, but the line. Now as
cockal bones do not take up as much room when they fall upon one
end as when they fall flat, so every one of us at the beginning
sitting broadwise, and with a full face to the table, afterwards
changes the figure, and turns his depth, not his breadth, to the
board. Some attribute it to the beds whereon we sat, for those
when pressed stretch; as strait shoes after a little wearing have
their pores widened, and grow fit for--sometimes too big for--the
foot. An old man in the company merrily said, that the same feast
had two very different presidents and directors; in the beginning,
Hunger, that is not in the least skilled in ordering and disposing,
but afterward Bacchus, whom all acknowledge to be the best orderer
of an army in the world. As therefore Epaminondas, when the
unskilful captains had led their forces into narrow disadvantageous
straits, relieved the phalanx that was fallen foul on itself and
all in disorder, and brought it into good rank and file again;
thus we in the beginning, being like greedy hounds confused and
disordered by hunger, the god (hence named the looser and the
dancesetter) settles us in a friendly and agreeable order.




A discourse happening at supper concerning those that are said to
bewitch or have a bewitching eye, most of the company looked upon
it as a whim, and laughed at it. But Metrius Florus, who then gave
us a supper, said that the strange events wonderfully confirmed the
report; and because we cannot give a reason for the thing,
therefore to disbelieve the relation was absurd, since there are a
thousand things which evidently are, the reasons of which we cannot
readily assign. And, in short, he that requires everything should
be probable destroys all wonder and admiration; and where the cause
is not obvious, there we begin to doubt, that is, to philosophize.
So that they who disbelieve all wonderful relations do in some
measure take away all philosophy. The cause why anything is so,
reason must find out; but that a thing is so, testimony is a
sufficient evidence; and we have a thousand instances of this sort
attested. We know that some men by looking upon young children
hurt them very much, their weak and soft temperature being wrought
upon and perverted, whilst those that are strong and firm are not
so liable to be wrought upon. And Phylarchus tells us that the
Thibians, the old inhabitants about Pontus, were destructive not
only to little children, but to some also of riper years; for those
upon whom they looked or breathed, or to whom they spake, would
languish and grow sick. And this, likely, those of other countries
perceived who bought slaves there. But perhaps this is not so much
to be wondered at, for in touching and handling there is some
apparent principle and cause of the effect. And as when you mix
other birds' wings with the eagles', the plumes waste and suddenly
consume; so there is no reason to the contrary, but that one man's
touch may be good and advantageous, and another's hurtful and
destructive. But that some, by being barely looked upon, are
extremely prejudiced is certain; though the stories are
disbelieved, because the reason is hard to be given.

True, said I, but methinks there is some small track to the cause
of this effect, if you come to the effluvia of bodies. For smell,
voice, breath, and the like, are effluvia from animal bodies, and
material parts that move the senses, which are wrought upon by
their impulse. Now it is very likely that such effluvia must
continually part from animals, by reason of their heat and motion;
for by that the spirits are agitated, and the body, being struck by
those, must continually send forth effluvia. And it is probable
that these pass chiefly through the eye. For the sight, being very
vigorous and active, together with the spirit upon which it
depends, sends forth a strange fiery power; so that by it men act
and suffer very much, and are always proportionably pleased or
displeased, according as the visible objects are agreeable or not.
Love, that greatest and most violent passion of the soul, takes its
beginning from the eye; so that a lover, when he looks upon the
fair, flows out as it were, and seems to mix with her.
And therefore why should any one, that believes men can be affected
and prejudiced by the sight, imagine that they cannot act and hurt
is well? For the mutual looks of mature beauties, and that which
comes from the eye, whether light or a stream of spirits, melt and
dissolve the lovers with a pleasing pain, which they call the
bittersweet of love. For neither by touching or hearing the voice
of their beloved are they so much wounded and wrought upon, as by
looking and being looked upon again. There is such a
communication, such a flame raised by one glance, that those must
be altogether unacquainted with love that wonder at the Median
naphtha, that takes fire at a distance from the flame. For the
glances of a fair one, though at a great distance, quickly kindle a
fire in the lover's breast. Besides every body knows the remedy
for the jaundice; if they look upon the bird called charadrios they
are cured. For that animal seems to be of that temperature and
nature as to receive and draw away the disease, that like a stream
flows out through the eyes; so that the charadrios will not look on
one that hath the jaundice; he cannot endure it, but turns away his
head and shuts his eyes, not envying (as some imagine) the cure he
performs, but being really hurt by the effluvia of the patient.
And of all diseases, soreness of the eyes is the most infectious;
so strong and vigorous is the sight, and so easily does it cause
infirmities in another.

Very right, said Patrocles, and you reason well as to changes
wrought upon the body; but as to the soul, which in some measure
exercises the power of witchcraft, how can this cause any
disturbance by the eye? Sir, I replied, do not you consider that
the soul, when affected, works upon the body? Ideas of love excite
lust, and rage often blinds dogs as they fight with wild beasts.
Sorrow, covetousness, or jealousy makes us change color, and
destroys the habit of the body; and envy more than any passion,
when fixed in the soul, fills the body full of ill humors, and
makes it pale and ugly; which deformities good painters in their
pictures of envy endeavor to represent. Now, when men thus
perverted by envy fix their eyes upon another, and these, being
nearest to the soul, easily draw the venom from it, and send out as
it were poisoned darts, it is no wonder, in my mind, if he that is
looked upon is hurt. Thus the biting of a dog when mad is most
dangerous; and then the seed of a man is most prolific, when he
embraces one that he loves; and in general the affections of the
mind strengthen and invigorate the powers of the body.
And therefore people imagine that those amulets that are
preservative against witchcraft are likewise good and efficacious
against envy; the sight by the strangeness of the spectacle being
diverted, so that it cannot make so strong an impression upon the
patient. This, Florus, is what I can say; and pray sir, accept it
as my club for this entertainment.

Well, said Soclarus, but let us try whether the money be all good
or no; for, in my mind some of it seems brass. But if we admit the
general report about these matters to be true, you know very well
that it is commonly supposed that some have friends, acquaintance,
and even fathers, that have such evil eyes; so that the mothers
will not show their children to them, nor for a long time suffer
them to be looked upon by such; and how can the effects wrought by
these proceed from envy? But what, for God's sake, wilt thou say
to those that are reported to bewitch themselves?--for I am sure
you have heard of such, or at least read these lines:--

Curls once on Eutel's head in order stood;
But when he viewed his figure in a flood,
He overlooked himself, and now they fall ...

For they say that this Eutelidas, appearing very delicate and
beauteous to himself, was affected with that sight and grew sick
upon it, and lost his beauty and his health. Now, pray sir, what
reason can you find for these wonderful effects?

At any other time, I replied, I question not but I shall give you
full satisfaction. But now, sir, after such a large pot as you
have seen me take, I boldly affirm, that all passions which have
been fixed in the soul a long time raise ill humors in the body,
which by continuance growing strong enough to be, as it were, a new
nature, being excited by any intervening accident, force men,
though unwilling, to their accustomed passions. Consider the
timorous, they are afraid even of those things that preserve them.
Consider the pettish, they are angry with their best and dearest
friends. Consider the amorous and lascivious, in the height of
their fury they dare violate a Vestal. For custom is very powerful
to draw the temper of the body to anything that is suitable to it;
and he that is apt to fall will stumble at everything that lies in
his way. So it is no wonder that those that have raised in
themselves an envious and bewitching habit, if according to the
peculiarity of their passion they are carried on to suitable
effects; for when they are once moved, they do that which the
nature of the thing, not which their will, leads them to. For as a
sphere must necessarily move spherically, and a cylinder
cylindrically, according to the difference of their figures;
thus his disposition makes an envious man move enviously to all
things; and it is likely they should chiefly hurt their most
familiar acquaintance and best beloved. And that fine fellow
Eutelidas you mentioned, and the rest that are said to overlook
themselves, may be easily and upon good rational grounds accounted
for; for, according to Hippocrates, a good habit of body, when at
height, is easily perverted, and bodies come to their full maturity
do not stand at a stay there, but fall and waste down to the
contrary extreme. And therefore when they are in very good plight,
and see themselves look much better than they expected, they gaze
and wonder; but then their body being nigh to change, and their
habit declining into a worse condition, they overlook themselves.
And this is done when the effluvia are stopped and reflected by the
water rather than by any other reflecting body; for this exhales
upon them whilst they look upon it, so that the very same particles
which would hurt others must hurt themselves. And this perchance
often happens to young children, and the cause of their diseases is
falsely attributed to those that look upon them.

When I had done, Caius, Florus's son-in-law, said: Then it seems
you make no more reckoning or account of Democritus's images, than
of those of Aegium or Megara; for he delivers that the envious send
out images which are not altogether void of sense or force, but
full of the disturbing and poisonous qualities of those from whom
they come. Now these being mixed with such qualities, and
remaining with and abiding in those persons that injure them both
in mind and body; for this, I think, is the meaning of that
philosopher, a man in his opinion and expressions admirable and
divine. Very true, said I, and I wonder that you did not observe
that I took nothing from those effluvia and images but life and
will; lest you should imagine that, now it is almost midnight, I
brought in spectres and wise and understanding images to terrify
and fright you; but in the morning, if you please, we will talk of
those things.




As we were at supper in Chaeronea, and had all sorts of fruit at
the table, one of the company chanced to speak these verses,

The fig-trees sweet, the apple-trees that bear
Fair fruit, and olives green through all the year.
("Odyssey," vii. 115.)

Upon this there arose a question, why the poet calls apple-trees
particularly [Greek omitted], BEARING FAIR FRUIT. Trypho the
physician said that this epithet was given comparatively in respect
of the tree, because, it being small and no goodly tree to look
upon, bears fair and large fruit. Somebody else said, that the
particular excellencies scattered amongst all other fruits are
united in this alone. As to the touch, it is smooth and polished,
so that it makes the hand that toucheth it odorous without defiling
it; it is sweet to the taste, and to the smell and sight very
pleasing; and therefore there is reason that it should be duly
praised, as being that which congregates and allures all the
senses together.

This discourse pleased us indifferently well. But whereas
Empedocles has thus written,

Why pomegranates so late do thrive,
And apples give a lovely show [Greek omitted];

I guess the epithet to be given to pomegranates, because that at
the end of autumn, and when the heats begin to decrease, they ripen
the fruit; for the sun will not suffer the weak and thin moisture
to thicken into a consistence until the air begins to wax colder;
therefore, says Theophrastus, this only tree ripens its fruit best
and soonest in the shade. But in what sense the philosopher gives
the epithet [Greek omitted], to apples, I much question, since it
is not his custom to try to adorn his verses with varieties of
epithets, as with gay and florid colors. But in every verse he
gives some description of the substance and virtue of the subject
which he treats; as when he calls the body encircling the soul the
mortal-surrounding earth; as also when he calls the air
cloud-gathering, and the liver much blooded.

When now I had said these things myself, certain grammarians
affirmed, that those apples were called [Greek omitted] by reason
of their vigor and florid manner of growing; for to blossom and
flourish after an extraordinary manner is by the poets expressed
by the word [Greek omitted]. In this sense, Antimachus calls the
city of Cadmeans flourishing with fruit; and Aratus, speaking of
the dog-star Sirius, says that he

To some gave strength, but others did ruin,
Their bloom;

calling the greenness of the trees and the blossoming of the fruit
by the name of [Greek omitted]. Nay, there are some of the Greeks
also who sacrifice to Bacchus surnamed [Greek omitted].
And therefore, seeing the verdure and floridness chiefly recommend
this fruit, philosophers call it [Greek omitted]. But Lamprias our
grandfather used to say that the word [Greek omitted] did not only
denote excess and vehemency, but external and supernal; thus we
call the upper frame of a door [Greek omitted], and the upper
portion of the house [Greek omitted]; and the poet calls the
outward parts of the victim the upper-flesh, as he calls the
entrails the inner-flesh. Let us see therefore, says he, whether
Empedocles did not make use of this epithet in this sense, seeing
that other fruits are encompassed with an outward rind and with
certain coatings and membranes, but the only cortex rind that the
apple has is a glutinous and smooth tunic (or core) containing the
seed, so that the part which can be eaten, and lies without, was
properly called [Greek omitted], that IS OVER or OUTSIDE OF




This discourse ended, the next question was about fig-trees, how so
luscious and sweet fruit should come from so bitter a tree.
For the leaf from its roughness is called [Greek omitted].
The wood of it is full of sap, and as it burns sends forth a very
biting smoke; and the ashes of it thoroughly burnt are so
acrimonious, that they make a lye extremely detersive. And, which
is very strange, all other trees that bud and bear fruit put forth
blossoms too; but the fig-tree never blossoms. And if (as some
say) it is never thunderstruck, that likewise may be attributed to
the sharp juices and bad temper of the stock; for such things are
as secure from thunder as the skin of a sea calf or hyena.
Then said the old man: It is no wonder that when all the sweetness
is separated and employed in making the fruit, that which is left
should be bitter and unsavory. For as the liver, all the gall
being gathered in its proper place, is itself very sweet; so the
fig-tree having parted with its oil and sweet particles to the
fruit, reserves no portion for itself. For that this tree hath
some good juice, I gather from what they say of rue, which growing
under a fig-tree is sweeter than usual, and hath a sweeter and more
palatable juice, as if it drew some sweet particles from the tree
which mollified its offensive and corroding qualities;
unless perhaps, on the contrary, the fig-tree robbing it of its
nourishment draws likewise some of its sharpness and
bitterness away.




Florus, when we were entertained at his house, put this question,
What are those in the proverb who are said to be about the salt and
cummin? Apollophanes the grammarian presently satisfied him,
saying, by that proverb were meant intimate acquaintance, who could
sup together on salt and cummin. Thence we proceeded to inquire
how salt should come to be so much honored as it is; for Homer
plainly says,

And after that he strewed his salt divine
("Iliad," ix. 214.)

and Plato delivers that by man's laws salt is to be accounted most
sacred. And this difficulty was increased by the customs of the
Egyptian priests, who professing chastity eat no salt, no, not so
much as in their bread. For if it be divine and holy, why should
they avoid it?

Florus bade us not mind the Egyptians, but speak according to the
Grecian custom on the present subject. But I replied:
The Egyptians are not contrary to the Greeks in this matter;
for the profession of purity and chastity forbids getting children,
laughter, wine, and many other very commendable and lawful things;
and perhaps these priests avoid salt, as being, according to some
men's opinions, by its heat provocative and apt to raise lust.
Or they refuse it as the most pleasant of all sauces, for indeed
salt may be called the sauce of all sauces; and therefore some call
salt [Greek omitted]; because it makes food, which is necessary for
life, to be relishing and pleasant.

What then, said Florus, shall we say that salt is termed divine for
that reason? Indeed that is very considerable, for men for the
most part deify those common things that are exceeding useful to
their necessities and wants, as water, light, the seasons of the
year; and the earth they do not only think to be divine, but a very
god. Now salt is as useful as either of these, protecting in a way
the food as it comes into the body, and making it palatable and
agreeable to the appetite. But consider farther, whether its power
of preserving dead bodies from rotting a long time be not a divine
property, and opposite to death; since it preserves part, and will
not suffer that which is mortal wholly to be destroyed. But as the
soul, which is our diviner part, connects the limbs of animals, and
keeps the composure from dissolution; thus salt applied to dead
bodies, and imitating the work of the soul, stops those parts that
were falling to corruption, binds and confines them, and so makes
them keep their union and agreement with one another.
And therefore some of the Stoics say, that swine's flesh then
deserves the name of a body, when the soul like salt spreads
through it and keeps the parts from dissolution. Besides, you know
that we account lightning to be sacred and divine, because the
bodies that are thunderstruck do not rot for a long time;
what wonder is it then, that the ancients called salt as well as
lightning divine, since it hath the same property and power?

I making no reply, Philinus subjoined: Do you not think that that
which is generative is to be esteemed divine, seeing God is the
principle of all things? And I assenting, he continued: Salt, in
the opinion of some men, for instance the Egyptians you mentioned,
is very operative that way; and those that breed dogs, when they
find their bitches not apt to be hot, give them salt and seasoned
flesh, to excite and arouse their sleeping lechery and vigor.
Besides, the ships that carry salt breed abundance of mice;
the females, as some imagine, conceiving without the help of the
males, only by licking the salt. But it is most probable that the
salt raiseth an itching in animals, and so makes them salacious and
eager to couple. And perhaps for the same reason they call a
surprising and bewitching beauty, such as is apt to move and
entice, [Greek omitted], SALTISH. And I think the poets had a
respect to this generative power of salt in their fable of Venus
springing from the sea. And it may be farther observed, that they
make all the sea gods very fruitful, and give them large families.
And besides, there are no land animals so fruitful as the sea ones;
agreeable to which observation is that verse of Empedocles,

Leading the foolish race of fruitful fish.


Timotheus the son of Conon, Sossius Senecio, after a full enjoyment
of luxurious campaign diet, being entertained by Plato in his
Academy, at a neat, homely, and (as Ion says) no surfeiting feast
(such an one as is constantly attended by sound sleep, and by
reason of the calm and pleasant state the body enjoys, rarely
interrupted with dreams and apparitions), the next day, being
sensible of the difference, said that those that supped with Plato
were well treated, even the day after the feast. For such a temper
of a body not overcharged, but expedite and fitted for the ready
execution of all its enterprises, is without all doubt a great help
for the more comfortable passing away of the day. But there is
another benefit not inferior to the former, which does usually
accrue to those that sup with Plato, namely, the recollection of
those points that were debated at the table. For the remembrance
of those pleasures which arise from meat and drink is ungenteel,
and short-lived withal, and nothing but the remains of yesterday's
smell. But the subjects of philosophical queries and discourses,
being always fresh after they are imparted, are equally relished by
all, as well by those that were absent as by those that were
present at them; insomuch that learned men even now are as much
partakers of Socrates's feasts as those who really supped with him.
But if things pertaining to the body had afforded any pleasure,
Xenophon and Plato should have left us an account not of the
discourse, but of the great variety of dishes, sauces, and other
costly compositions that were prepared in the houses of Callias and
Agatho. Yet there is not the least mention made of any such
things, though questionless they were as sumptuous as possible;
but whatever things were treated of and learnedly discussed by
their guests were left upon record and transmitted to posterity as
precedents, not only for discoursing at table, but also for
remembering the things that were handled at such meetings.




I present you with this Sixth Book of Table Discourses, wherein the
first thing that cometh to be discussed is an inquiry into the
reason why those that are fasting are more inclinable to drink than
to eat. For the assertion carries in it a repugnancy to the
standing rules of reason; forasmuch as the decayed stock of dry
nourishment seems more naturally to call for its proper supplies.
Whereupon I told the company, that of those things whereof our
bodies are composed, heat only--or, however, above all the rest--
stands in continual need of such accessions; for the truth of which
this may be urged as a convincing argument: neither air, water, nor
earth requires any matter to feed upon, or devours whatsoever lies
next it; but fire alone doth. Hence it comes to pass that young
men, by reason of their greater share of natural heat, have
commonly greater stomachs than old men; whereas on the contrary,
old men can endure fasting much better, for this only reason,
because their natural heat is grown weaker and decayed. Just so we
see it fares with bloodless animals, which by reason of the want of
heat require very little nourishment. Besides, every one of us
finds by experience, that bodily exercises, clamors, and whatever
other actions by violent motion occasion heat, commonly sharpen our
stomachs and get us a better appetite. Now, as I take it, the most
natural and principal nourishment of heat is moisture, as it
evidently appears from flames, which increase by the pouring in of
oil, and from ashes, which are of the driest things in nature;
for after the humidity is consumed by the fire, the terrene and
grosser parts remain without any moisture at all. Add to these,
that fire separates and dissolves bodies by extracting that
moisture which should keep them close and compact. Therefore, when
we are fasting, the heat first of all forces the moisture out of
the relics of the nourishment that remain in the body, and then,
pursuing the other humid parts, preys upon the natural moisture of
the flesh itself. Hence the body like clay becoming dry, wants
drink more than meat; till the heat, receiving strength and vigor
by our drinking, excites an appetite for more substantial food.




After these things were spoke, Philo the physician started the
first question, asserting that thirst did not arise from the want
of nourishment, but from the different transfiguration of certain
passages. For, says he, this may be made evident, partly from what
we see happens to those that thirst in the night, who, if sleep
chance to steal upon them, though they did not drink before, are
yet rid of their thirst; partly from persons in a fever, who, as
soon as the disease abates or is removed, thirst no more. Nay, a
great many men, after they have bathed or vomited, perceive
presently that their thirst is gone; yet none of these add anything
to their former moisture, but only the transfiguration of the pores
causeth a new order and disposition. And this is more evident in
hunger; for many sick persons, at the same time when they have the
greatest need of meat, have no stomach. Others, after they have
filled their bellies, have the same stomachs, and their appetites
are rather increased than abated. There are a great many besides
who loathe all sorts of diet, yet by taking of a pickled olive or
caper recover and confirm their lost appetites. This doth clearly
evince, that hunger proceeds from some change in the pores, and not
from any want of sustenance, forasmuch as such kind of food lessens
the defect by adding food, but increases the hunger; and the
pleasing relish and poignancy of such pickles, by binding and
straitening the mouth of the ventricle, and again by opening and
loosening of it, beget in it a convenient disposition to receive
meat, which we call by the name of appetite.

I must confess this discourse seemed to carry in it some shadow of
reason and probability; but in the main it is directly repugnant to
the chief end of nature, to which appetite directs every animal.
For that makes it desire a supply of what they stand in need of,

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