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The Complete Works Volume 3: Essays and Miscellanies by Plutarch

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and avoid a defect of their proper food. For to deny what
especially makes a living creature differ from an inanimate object
as given to us for our preservation and conservation (being as it
were the receiver of what supplements and agrees with the nature of
our body) is the argument of one who takes no account of natural
law, especially when he would add that the characteristic proceeds
from the great or small size of the pores. Besides, it is absurd
to think that a body through the want of natural heat should be
chilled, and should not in like manner hunger and thirst through
the want of natural moisture and nourishment. And yet this is more
absurd, that Nature when overcharged should desire to disburden
herself, and yet should not require to be supplied on account of
emptiness, but on account of some condition or other, I know not
what. Moreover, these needs and supplies in relation to animals
have some resemblance to those we see in husbandry. There are a
great many like qualities and like provisions on both sides.
For in a drought we water our grounds, and in case of excessive
heat, we frequently make use of moderate coolers; and when our
fruits are too cold, we endeavor to preserve and cherish them, by
covering and making fences about them. And for such things as are
out of the reach of human power, we implore the assistance of the
gods, that is, to send us softening dews, and sunshines qualified
with moderate winds; that so Nature, being always desirous of a due
mixture, may have her wants supplied. And for this reason I
presume it was that nourishment is called [Greek omitted] (from
[Greek omitted]), because it observes and preserves Nature.
Now Nature is preserved in plants, which are destitute of sense, by
the favorable influence of the circumambient air (as Empedocles
says), moistening them in such a measure as is most agreeable to
their nature. But as for us men, our appetites prompt us on to the
chase and pursuance of whatsoever is wanting to our
natural temperament.

But now let us pass to the examination of the truth of the
arguments that seem to favor the contrary opinion. And for the
first, I suppose that those meats that are palatable and of a quick
and sharp taste do not beget in us an appetite, but rather bite and
fret those parts that receive the nourishment, as we find that
scratching the skin causes itching. And supposing we should grant
that this affection or disposition is the very thing which we call
the appetite, it is probable that, by the operation of such kind of
food as this, the nourishment may be made small, and so much of it
as is convenient for Nature severed from the rest, so that the
indigency proceeds not from the transmutation, but from the
evacuation and purgation of the passages. For sharp, tart, and
salt things grate the inward matter, and by dispersing of it cause
digestion, so that by the concoctions of the old there may arise an
appetite for new. Nor does the cessation of thirst after bathing
spring from the different position of the passages, but from a new
supply of moisture received into the flesh, and conveyed from
thence to them also. And vomiting, by throwing off whatever is
disagreeable to Nature, puts her in a capacity of enjoying what is
most suitable for her. For thirst does not call for a superfluity
of moisture, but only for so much as sufficeth Nature;
and therefore, though a man had plenty of disagreeable and
unnatural moisture, yet he wants still, for that stops the course
of the natural, which Nature is desirous of, and hinders a due
mixture and temperament, till it be cast out and the pores receive
what is most proper and convenient for them. Moreover, a fever
forces all the moisture downward; and the middle parts being in
combustion, it all retires thither, and there is shut up and
forcibly detained. And therefore it is usual with a great many to
vomit, by reason of the density of the inward parts squeezing out
the moisture, and likewise to thirst, by reason of the poor and dry
state the rest of the body is in. But after the violence of the
distemper is once abated, and the raging heat hath left the middle
parts, the moisture begins to disperse itself again; and according
to its natural motion, by a speedy conveyance into all the parts,
it refreshes the entrails, softens and makes tender the dry and
parched flesh. Very often also it causes sweat, and then the
defect which occasioned thirst ceases; for the moisture leaving
that part of the body wherein it was forcibly detained, and out of
which it hardly made an escape, retires to the place where it is
wanted. For as it fares with a garden wherein there is a large
well,--if nobody draw thereof and water it, the herbs must needs
wither and die,--so it fares with a body; if all the moisture be
contracted into one part, it is no wonder if the rest be in want
and dry, till it is diffused again over the other limbs. Just so
it happens to persons in a fever, after the heat of the disease is
over, and likewise to those who go to sleep thirsty. For in these,
sleep draws the moisture to the middle parts, and equally
distributes it amongst the rest, satisfying them all. But, I pray,
what kind of transfiguration of the passages is this which causes
hunger and thirst? For my part, I know no other distinction of the
pores but in respect of their number or that some of them are shut,
others open. As for those that are shut, they can neither receive
meat nor drink; and as for those that are open, they make an empty
space, which is nothing but a want of that which Nature requires.
Thus, sir, when men dye cloth, the liquor in which they dip it hath
very sharp and abstersive particles; which, consuming and scouring
off all the matter that filled the pores, make the cloth more apt
to receive the dye, because its pores are empty and want something
to fill them up.




After we had gone thus far, the master of the feast told the
company that the former points were reasonably well discussed;
and waiving at present the discourse concerning the evacuation and
repletion of the pores, he requested us to fall upon another
question, that is, how it comes to pass that hunger is stayed by
drinking, when, on the contrary, thirst is more violent after
eating. Those who assign the reason to be in the pores seem with a
great deal of ease and probability, though not with so much truth,
to explain the thing. For seeing the pores in all bodies are of
different sorts and sizes, the more capacious receive both dry and
humid nourishment, the lesser take in drink, not meat; but the
vacuity of the former causes hunger, of the latter thirst.
Hence it is that men that thirst are never better after they have
eaten, the pores by reason of their straitness denying admittance
to grosser nourishment, and the want of suitable supply still
remaining. But after hungry men have drunk, the moisture enters
the greater pores, fills the empty spaces, and in part assuages the
violence of the hunger.

Of this effect, said I, I do not in the least doubt, but I do not
approve of the reason they give for it. For if any one should
admit these pores (which some are so unreasonably fond of) to be in
the flesh, he must needs make it a very soft, loose, flabby
substance; and that the same parts do not receive the meat and
drink, but that they run through different canals and strainers in
them, seems to me to be a very strange and unaccountable opinion.
For the moisture mixes with the dry food, and by the assistance of
the natural heat and spirits cuts the nourishment far smaller than
any cleaver or chopping-knife, to the end that every part of it may
be exactly fitted to each part of the body, not applied, as they
would have it, to little vessels and pores, but united and
incorporated with the whole substance. And unless the thing were
explained after this manner, the hardest knot in the question would
still remain unsolved. For a man that has a thirst upon him,
supposing he eats and doth not drink, is so far from quenching,
that he does highly increase it. This point is yet undiscussed.
But mark, said I, whether the positions on my side be clear and
evident or not. In the first place, we take it for granted that
moisture is wasted and destroyed by heat, that the drier parts of
the nourishment qualified and softened by moisture, are diffused
and fly away in vapors. Secondly, we must by no means suppose that
all hunger is a total privation of dry, and thirst of humid
nutriment, but only a moderate one, and such as is sufficient to
cause the one or the other; for whoever are wholly deprived of
either of these, they neither hunger nor thirst, but die instantly.
These things being laid down as a foundation, it will be no hard
matter to find out the cause. For thirst is increased by eating
for this reason, because that meat by its natural siccity contracts
and destroys all that small quantity of moisture which remained
scattered here and there through the body; just as happens in
things obvious to our senses; we see the earth, dust, and the like
presently suck in the moisture that is mixed with them. Now, on
the contrary, drink must of necessity assuage hunger; for the
moisture watering and diffusing itself through the dry and parched
relics of the meat we ate last, by turning them into thin juices,
conveys them through the whole body, and succors the indigent
parts. And therefore with very good reason Erasistratus called
moisture the vehicle of the meat; for as soon as this is mixed with
things which by reason of their dryness, or some other quality, are
slow and heavy, it raises them up and carries them aloft.
Moreover, several men, when they have drunk nothing at all, but
only washed themselves, all on a sudden are freed from a very
violent hunger, because the extrinsic moisture entering the pores
makes the meat within more succulent and of a more nourishing
nature, so that the heat and fury of the hunger declines and
abates; and therefore a great many of those who have a mind to
starve themselves to death live a long time only by drinking water;
that is, as long as the siccity does not quite consume whatever may
be united to and nourish the body.




One of the strangers at the the table, who took wonderful great
delight in drinking of cold water, had some brought to him by the
servants, cooled after this manner; they had hung in the well a
bucket full of the same water, so that it could not touch the sides
of the well, and there let it remain, all night: the next day, when
it was brought to table, it was colder than the water that was
newdrawn. Now this gentleman was an indifferent good scholar, and
therefore told the company that he had learned this from Aristotle,
who gives the reason of it. The reason which he assigned was this.
All water, when it hath been once hot, is afterwards more cold;
as that which is prepared for kings, when it hath boiled a good
while upon the fire, is afterwards put into a vessel set round with
snow, and so made colder; just as we find our bodies more cool
after we have bathed, because the body, after a short relaxation
from heat, is rarefied and more porous, and therefore so much the
more fitted to receive a larger quantity of air, which causes the
alteration. Therefore the water, when it is drawn out of the well,
being first warmed in the air, grows presently cold.

Whereupon we began to commend the man very highly for his happy
memory; but we called in question the pretended reason. For if the
air wherein the vessel hangs be cold, how, I pray, does it heat the
water? If hot, how does it afterwards make it cold? For it is
absurd to say, that the same thing is affected by the same thing
with contrary qualities, no difference at all intervening. While
the gentleman held his peace, as not knowing what to say; there is
no cause, said I, that we should raise any scruple concerning the
nature of the air, forasmuch as we are ascertained by sense that it
is cold, especially in the bottom of a well; and therefore we can
never imagine that it should make the water hot. But I should
rather judge this to be the reason: the cold air, though it cannot
cool the great quantity of water which is in the well, yet can
easily cool each part of it, separate from the whole.




I suppose you may remember that what Aristotle says in his
problems, of little stones and pieces of iron, how it hath been
observed by some that being thrown into the water they temper and
cool it. This is no more than barely asserted by him; but we will
go farther and inquire into the reason of it, the discovery of
which will be a matter of difficulty. Yes, says I, it will so, and
it is much if we hit upon it; for do but consider, first of all, do
not you suppose that the air which comes in from without cools the
water? But now air has a great deal more power and force, when it
beats against stones and pieces of iron. For they do not, like
brazen and earthen vessels, suffer it to pass through; but, by
reason of their solid bulk, beat it back and reflect it into the
water, so that upon all parts the cold works very strongly.
And hence it comes to pass that rivers in the winter are colder
than the sea, because the cold air has a power over them, which by
reason of its depth it has not over the sea, where it is scattered
without any reflection. But it is probable that for another reason
thinner waters may be made colder by the air than thicker, because
they are not so strong to resist its force. Now whetstones and
pebbles make the water thinner by drawing to them all the mud and
other grosser substances that be mixed with it, that so by taking
the strength from it may the more easily be wrought upon by the
cold. But besides, lead is naturally cold, as that which, being
dissolved in vinegar, makes the coldest of all poisons, called
white-lead; and stones, by reason of their density, raise cold in
the bottom of the water. For every stone is nothing else but a
congealed lump of frozen earth, though some more or less than
others; and therefore it is no absurdity to say that stones and
lead, by reflecting the air, increase the coldness of the water.




Then the stranger, after he had made a little pause, said: Men in
love are ambitious to be in company with their sweethearts;
when that is denied them, they desire at least to talk of them.
This is my case in relation to snow; and, because I cannot have it
at present, I am desirous to learn the reason why it is commonly
preserved by the hottest things. For, when covered with chaff and
cloth that has never been at the fuller's, it is preserved a long
time. Now it is strange that the coldest things should be
preserved by the hottest.

Yes, said I, it is a very strange thing, if true. But it is not
so; and we cozen ourselves by presently concluding a thing to be
hot if it have a faculty of causing heat, when as yet we see that
the same garment causes heat in winter, and cold in summer.
Thus the nurse in the tragedy,

In garments thin doth Niobe's children fold,
And sometimes heats and sometimes cools the babes.

The Germans indeed make use of clothes only against the cold, the
Ethiopians only against the heat; but they are useful to us upon
both accounts. Why therefore should we rather say the clothes are
hot, because they cause heat, than cold, because they cause cold?
Nay, if we must be tried by sense, it will be found that they are
more cold than hot. For at the first putting on of a coat it is
cold, and so is our bed when we lie down; but afterwards they grow
hot with the heat of our bodies, because they both keep in the heat
and keep out the cold. Indeed, feverish persons and others that
have a violent heat upon them often change their clothes, because
they perceive that fresh ones at the first putting on are much
colder; but within a very little time their bodies make them as hot
as the others. In like manner, as a garment heated makes us hot,
so a covering cooled keeps snow cold. Now that which causes this
cold is the continual emanations of a subtile spirit the snow has
in it, which spirit, as long as it remains in the snow, keeps it
compact and close; but, after once it is gone, the snow melts and
dissolves into water, and instantly loses its whiteness, occasioned
by a mixture of this spirit with a frothy moisture. Therefore at
the same time, by the help of these clothes, the cold is kept in,
and the external air is shut out, lest it should thaw the concrete
body of the snow. The reason why they make use of cloth that has
not yet been at the fuller's is this, because that in such cloth
the hair and coarse flocks keep it off from pressing too hard upon
the snow, and bruising it. So chaff lying lightly upon it does not
dissolve the body of the snow, besides the chaff lies close and
shuts out the warm air, and keeps in the natural cold of the snow.
Now that snow melts by the evaporating of this spirit, we are
ascertained by sense; for when snow melts it raises a vapor.




Niger, a citizen of ours, was lately come from school, after he had
spent some time under the discipline of a celebrated philosopher,
but had absorbed nothing but those faults by which his master was
odious to others, especially his custom of reproving and of carping
at whatever upon any occasion chanced to be discussed in company.
And therefore, when we were at supper one time at Aristio's, not
content to assume to himself a liberty to rail at all the rest of
the preparations as too profuse and extravagant, he had a pique at
the wine too, and said that it ought not to be brought to table
strained, but that, observing Hesiod's rule, we ought to drink it
new out of the vessel. Moreover, he added that this way of purging
wine takes the strength from it, and robs it of its natural heat,
which, when wine is poured out of one vessel into another,
evaporates and dies. Besides he would needs persuade us that it
showed too much of a vain curiosity, effeminacy, and luxury, to
convert what is wholesome into that which is palatable. For as the
riotous, not the temperate, use to cut cocks and geld pigs, to make
their flesh tender and delicious, even against Nature; just so (if
we may use a metaphor, says he) those that strain wine geld and
emasculate it, whilst their squeamish stomachs will neither suffer
them to drink pure wine, nor their intemperance to drink
moderately. Therefore they make use of this expedient, to the end
that it may render the desire they have of drinking plentifully
more excusable. So they take all the strength from the wine,
leaving the palatableness still: as we use to deal with those with
whose constitution cold water does not agree, to boil it for them.
For they certainly take off all the strength from the wine, by
straining of it. And this is a great argument, that the wine
deads, grows flat, and loses its virtue, when it is separated from
the lees, as from its root and stock; for the ancients for very
good reason called wine lees, as we use to signify a man by his
head or soul, as the principal part of him. So in Greek, grape-
gatherers are said [Greek omitted], the word being derived from
[Greek omitted], which signifies lees; and Homer in one place calls
the fruit of the wine [Greek omitted], and the wine itself high-
colored and red,--not pale and yellow, such as Aristio gives us to
supper, after all the goodness is purged out of it.

Then Aristio smiling presently replied: Sir, the wine I bring to
table does not look so pale and lifeless as you would have it:
but it appears only in the cup to be mild and well qualified.
But for your part, you would glut yourself with night wine, which
raises melancholy vapors; and upon this account you cry out against
purgation, which, by carrying off whatever might cause melancholy
or load men's stomachs, and make them drunk or sick, makes it mild
and pleasant to those that drink it, such as heroes (as Homer tells
us) were formerly wont to drink. And it was not dark wine which he
called [Greek omitted], but clear and transparent; for otherwise he
would never have named brass [Greek omitted], after characterizing
it as man-exalting and resplendent. Therefore as the wise
Anacharsis, discommending some things that the Grecians enjoined,
commended their coals, because they leave the smoke without doors,
and bring the fire into the house; so you judicious men might blame
me for some other reason than this. But what hurt, I pray, have I
done to the wine, by taking from it a turbulent and noisome
quality, and giving it a better taste, though a paler color?
Nor have I brought you wine to the table which, like a sword, hath
lost its edge and vigorous relish, but such as is only purged of
its dregs and filth. But you will say that wine not strained hath
a great deal more strength. Why so, my friend? One that is
frantic and distracted has more strength than a man in his wits;
but when, by the help of hellebore or some other fit diet, he is
come to himself, that rage and frenzy leave him and quite vanish,
and the true use of his reason and health of body presently comes
into its place. In like manner, purging of wine takes from it all
the strength that inflames and enrages the mind, and gives it
instead thereof a mild and wholesome temper; and I think there is a
great deal of difference between gaudiness and cleanliness.
For women, while they paint, perfume, and adorn themselves with
jewels and purple robes, are accounted gaudy and profuse;
yet nobody will find fault with them for washing their faces,
anointing themselves, or platting their hair. Homer very neatly
expresses the difference of these two habits, where he brings in
Juno dressing herself:--

With sweet ambrosia first she washed her skin,
And after did anoint herself with oil.
("Iliad," xiv. 170.)

So much was allowable, being no more than a careful cleanliness.
But when she comes to call for her golden buttons, her curiously
wrought earrings, and last of all puts on her bewitching girdle,
this appears to be an extravagant and idle curiosity, and betrays
too much of wantonness, which by no means becomes a married woman.
Just so they that sophisticate wine by mixing it with aloes,
cinnamon, or saffron bring it to the table like a gorgeous-
apparelled woman, and there prostitute it. But those that only
take from it what is nasty and no way profitable do only purge it
and improve it by their labor. Otherwise you may find fault with
all things whatsoever as vain and extravagant, beginning at the
house you live in. As first, you may say, why is it plastered?
Why does it open especially on that side where it may have the best
convenience for receiving the purest air, and the benefit of the
evening sun? What is the reason that our cups are washed and made
so clean that they shine and look bright? Now if a cup ought to
have nothing that is nasty or loathsome in it, ought that which is
drunk out of the cup to be full of dregs and filth? What need is
there for mentioning anything else? The making corn into bread is
a continual cleansing; and yet what a great ado there is before it
is effected! There is not only threshing, winnowing, sifting, and
separating the bran, but there must be kneading the dough to soften
all parts alike, and a continual cleansing and working of the mass
till all the parts become edible alike. What absurdity is it then
by straining to separate the lees, as it were the filth of the
wine, especially since the cleansing is no chargeable or
painful operation?




There is a certain sacrifice of very ancient institution, which the
chief magistrate or archon performs always in the common-hall, and
every private person in his own house. 'Tis called the driving out
of bulimy; for they whip out of doors some one of their servants
with a bunch of willow rods, repeating these words, Get out of
doors, bulimy; and enter riches and health. Therefore in my year
there was a great concourse of people present at the sacrifice;
and, after all the rites and ceremonies of the sacrifice were over,
when we had seated ourselves again at the table, there was an
inquiry made first of all into the signification of the word
bulimy, then into the meaning of the words which are repeated when
the servant is turned out of doors. But the principal dispute was
concerning the nature of it, and all its circumstances. First, as
for the word bulimy, it was agreed upon by all to denote a great
and public famine, especially among us who use the Aeolic dialect,
putting [Greek omitted] for [Greek omitted]. For it was not called
by the ancients [Greek omitted] but [Greek omitted], that is,
[Greek omitted], much hunger. We concluded that it was not the
same with the disease called Bubrostis, by an argument fetched out
of Metrodorus's Ionics. For the said Metrodorus informs us that
the Smyrnaeans, who were once Aeolians, sacrificed to Bubrostis a
black bull cut into pieces with the skin on, and so burnt it.
Now, forasmuch as every species of hunger resembles a disease, but
more particularly Bulimy, which is occasioned by an unnatural
disposition of the body, these two differ as riches and poverty,
health and sickness. But as the word NAUSEATE [Greek omitted]
first took its name from men who were sea-sick in a ship, and
afterwards custom prevailed so far that the word was applied to all
persons that were any way in like sort affected; so the word
BULIMY, rising at first from hence, was at last extended to a more
large and comprehensive signification. What has been hitherto said
was a general club of the opinions of all those who were at table.

But after we began to inquire after the cause of this disease, the
first thing that puzzled us was to find out the reason why bulimy
seizes upon those that travel in the snow. As Brutus, one time
marching from Dyrrachium to Apollonia in a deep snow, was
endangered of his life by bulimy, whilst none of those that carried
the provisions for the army followed him; just when the man was
ready to faint and die, some of his soldiers were forced to run to
the walls of the enemies' city, and beg a piece of bread of the
sentinels, by the eating of which he was presently refreshed;
for which cause, after Brutus had made himself master of the city,
he treated all the inhabitants very mercifully. Asses and horses
are frequently troubled with bulimy, especially when they are laden
with dry figs and apples; and, which is yet more strange, of all
things that are eaten, bread chiefly refreshes not only men but
beasts; so that, by taking a little quantity of bread, they regain
their strength and go forward on their journey.

After all were silent, I (who had observed that dull fellows and
those of a less piercing judgment were satisfied with and did
acquiesce in the reasons the ancients gave for bulimy, but to men
of ingenuity and industry they only pointed out the way to a more
clear discovery of the truth of the business) mentioned Aristotle's
opinion, who says, that extreme cold without causes extreme heat
and consumption within; which, if it fall into the legs, makes them
lazy and heavy, but if it come to the fountain of motion and
respiration, occasions faintings and weakness. When I had said
that, some of the company opposed it, others held with me.

At length says Soclarus: I like the beginning of this reason very
well, for the bodies of travellers in a great snow must of
necessity be surrounded and condensed with cold; but that from the
heat within there should arise such a consumption as invades the
principle of respiration, I can no way imagine. I rather think,
says he, that abundance of heat penned up in the body consumes the
nourishment, and that failing, the fire as it were goes out.
Here it comes to pass, that men troubled with this bulimy, when
they are ready to starve with hunger, if they eat never so little
meat, are presently refreshed. The reason is, because meat
digested is like fuel for the heat to feed upon.

But Cleomenes the physician would have the word [Greek omitted]
(which signifies hunger) to be added to the making up of the word
[Greek omitted] without sufficient reason; as [Greek omitted], to
drink, is added to [Greek omitted], to swallow; and [Greek omitted]
to incline, into [Greek omitted] to raise the head. Nor is bulimy,
as it seems, a kind of hunger, but an affection in the stomach
causing a faintness on account of the concourse of heat.
Therefore as things that have a good smell recall the spirits of
those that are faint, so bread affects those that are almost
overcome with a bulimy; not that they have any need of food (for
the least piece of it restores them their strength), but the bread
calls back their vigor and languishing spirits. Now that bulimy is
not hunger but a faintness, is manifest from all laboring beasts,
which are seized with it very often through the smell of dry figs
and apples; for a smell does not cause any want of food, but rather
a pain and agitation in the stomach.

These things seemed to be reasonably well urged; and yet it seemed
that much might be said for the contrary opinion, and that it was
possible enough to maintain that bulimy ariseth not from
condensation but rarefication of the stomach. For the spirit which
flows from the snow is nothing but the aether and finest fragment
of the frozen substance, endued with a virtue of cutting and
dividing not only the flesh, but also silver and brazen vessels;
for we see that these are not able to keep in the snow, for it
dissolves and evaporates, and glazes over the outmost superficies
of the vessels with a thin dew, not unlike to ice, which this
spirit leaves as it secretly passes through the pores.
Therefore this piercing spirit, like a flame, seizing upon those
that travel in the snow, seems to burn their outsides, and like
fire to enter and penetrate the flesh. Hence it is that the flesh
is more rarefied, and the heat is extinguished by the cold spirit
that lies upon the superficies of the body; therefore the body
evaporates a dewy thin sweat, which melts away and decays the
strength. Now if a man should sit still at such a time, there
would not much heat fly out of his body. But when the motion of
the body doth quickly heat the nourishment, and that heat bursts
through the thin skin, there must necessarily be a great loss of
strength. Now we know by experience, that cold hath a virtue not
only to condense but also to loosen bodies; for in extreme cold
winters pieces of lead are found to sweat. And when we see that a
bulimy happens where there is no hunger, we may conclude that at
that time the body is rather in a fluid than condensed state.
The reason that bodies are rarefied in winter is because of the
subtility of the spirit; especially when the moving and tiring of
the body stir the heat, which, as soon as it is subtilized and
agitated, flies apace, and spreads itself through the whole body.
Lastly, it is very possible that apples and dry figs exhale some
such thing as this, which rarefies and attenuates the heat of the
beasts; for some things have a natural tendency as well to weaken
as to refresh different creatures.




It was the subject once of a discourse, why, when there are several
sorts of liquids, the poet should give every one of them a peculiar
epithet, calling milk white, honey yellow, wine red, and yet for
all this bestow no other upon oil but what it hath in common with
all other liquids. To this it was answered that, as that is said
to be most sweet which is perfectly sweet, and to be most white
which is perfectly white (I mean here by perfectly that which hath
nothing of a contrary quality mixed with it), so that ought to be
called perfectly humid whereof never a part is dry; and this is
proper to oil.

For first of all, its smoothness shows the evenness of its parts;
for touch it where you please, it is all alike. Besides, you may
see your face in it as perfectly as in a mirror; for there is
nothing rough in it to hinder the reflection, but by reason of its
humidity it reflects to the eye the least particle of light from
every portion. As, on the contrary, milk, of all other liquids,
does not return our images, because it hath too many terrene and
gross parts mixed with it; again, oil of all other liquids makes
the least noise when moved, for it is perfectly humid. When other
liquids are moved or poured out, their hard and grosser parts fall
and dash one against another, and so make a noise by reason of
their roughness. Moreover, oil only is pure and unmixed; for it is
of all other liquids most compact, nor has it any empty spaces and
pores between the dry and earthy parts to receive what chances to
fall upon it. Besides, because of the similitude of its parts, it
is closely joined together, and unfit to be joined to anything
else. When oil froths, it does not let any wind in, by reason of
the contiguity and subtility of its parts; and this is also the
cause why fire is nourished by it. For fire feeds upon nothing but
what is moist, for nothing is combustible but what is so; for when
the fire is kindled, the air turns to smoke, and the terrene and
grosser parts remain in the ashes. Fire only preys upon the
moisture, which is its natural nourishment. Indeed, water, wine,
and other liquors, having abundance of earthy and heavy parts in
them, by falling into fire part it, and by their roughness and
weight smother and extinguish it. But oil, because purely liquid,
by reason of its subtility, is overcome by the fire, and so changed
into flame.

It is the greatest argument that can be of its humidity, that the
least quantity of it spreads itself a great way; for so small a
drop of honey, water, or any other liquid does not extend itself so
far, but very often, by reason of the dry mixed parts, is presently
wasted. Because oil is ductile and soft, men are wont to make use
of it for anointing their bodies; for it runs along and spreads
itself through all the parts, and sticks so firmly to them that it
is not easily washed off. We find by experience, that a garment
wet with water is presently dried again; but it is no easy matter
to wash out the spots and stain of oil, for it enters deep, because
of its most subtile and humid nature. Hence it is that Aristotle
says, that the drops of diluted wine are the hardest to be got out
of clothes, because they are most subtile, and run farther into the
pores of the cloth.




At supper we were commanding Aristio's cook, who, amongst other
dishes that he had dressed very curiously, brought a cock to table
just killed as a sacrifice to Hercules, as tender as though it had
been killed a day or two before. When Aristio told us that this
was no wonder,--seeing such a thing might very easily be done, if
the cock, as soon as he was killed, was hung upon a fig-tree,--we
began to inquire into the reason of what he asserted. Indeed, I
must confess, our eye assures us that a fig-tree sends out a fierce
and strong spirit; which is yet more evident, from what we have
heard said of bulls. That is, a bull, after he is tied to a
fig-tree, though never so mad before, grows presently tame, and
will suffer you to touch him, and on a sudden all his rage and fury
cool and die. But the chiefest cause that works this change is the
sharp acrimonious quality of the tree. For this tree is the
fullest of sap, and so are its figs, wood, and bark; and hence it
comes to pass, that the smoke of fig-wood is most offensive to the
eyes; and when it is burned, its ashes make the best lye to scour
withal. But all these effects proceed from heat. Now there are
some that say, when the sap of this tree thrown into milk curds it,
that this effect does not arise from the irregular figures of the
parts of the milk, which the sap joins and (as it were) sticks
together, the smooth and globose parts being squeezed out, but that
by its heat it loosens the unstable and watery parts of the liquid
body. And we may use as a proof the unprofitableness of the sap of
this tree, which, though it is very sweet, yet makes the worst
liquor in the world. For it is not the inequality in the parts that
affects the smooth part, but what is cold and raw is stopped by
heat. And salt help to do this; for it is hot, and works contrary
to the uniting of the parts just mentioned, causing rather a
dissolution; for to it, above all other things, Nature has given a
dissolving faculty. Therefore the fig-tree sends forth a hot and
sharp spirit, which cuts and boils the flesh of the bird. The very
same thing may be effected by placing the flesh upon a heap of
corn, or near nitre; the heat will produce the same that the
fig-tree did. Now it may be made manifest that wheat is naturally
hot, in that wine, put into a hogshead and placed among wheat, is
presently consumed.


The Romans, Sossius Senecio, remember a pretty saying of a pleasant
man and good companion, who supping alone said that he had eaten
to-day, but not supped; as if a supper always wanted company and
agreement to make it palatable and pleasing. Evenus said that fire
was the sweetest of all sauces in the world. And Homer calls salt
[Greek omitted], divine; and most call it [Greek omitted], graces,
because, mixed with most part of our food, it makes it palatable
and agreeable to the taste. Now indeed the best and most divine
sauce that can be at an entertainment or a supper is a familiar and
pleasant friend; not because he eats and drinks with a man, but
because he participates of and communicates discourse, especially
if the talk be profitable, pertinent, and instructive.
For commonly loose talk over a glass of wine raiseth passions and
spoils company, and therefore it is fit that we should be as
critical in examining what discourses as what friends are fit to be
admitted to a supper; not following either the saying or opinion of
the Spartans, who, when they entertained any young man or a
stranger in their public halls, showed him the door, with these
words, "No discourse goes out this way." What we use to talk of may
be freely disclosed to everybody, because we have nothing in our
discourses that tends to looseness, debauchery, debasing of
ourselves, or back-biting others. Judge by the examples, of which
this seventh book contains ten.




At a summer entertainment, one of the company pronounced that
common verse,

Now drench thy lungs with wine, the Dog appears.

And Nicias of Nicopolis, a physician, presently subjoined: It is no
wonder that Alcaeus, a poet, should be ignorant of that of which
Plato the philosopher was. Though Alcaeus may be defended; for it
is probable that the lungs, lying near the stomach, may participate
of the steam of the liquor, and be drenched with it. But the
philosopher, expressly delivering that most part of our drink
passeth through the lungs, hath precluded all ways of excuse to
those that would be willing to defend him. For it is a very great
and complicated ignorance; for first, it being necessary that our
liquid and dry food should be mixed, it is very probable that the
stomach is the vessel for them both, which throws out the dry food
after it is grown soft and moist into the guts. Besides, the lungs
being a dense and compacted body, how is it possible that, when we
sup gruel or the like, the thicker parts should pass through them?
And this was the objection which Erasistratus rationally made
against Plato. Besides, when he considered for what end every part
of the body was made, and what use Nature designed in their
contrivance, it was easy to perceive that the epiglottis was framed
on purpose that when we drink the windpipe should be shut, and
nothing be suffered to fall upon the lungs. For if anything by
chance gets down that way, we are troubled with retching and
coughing till it is thrown up again. And this epiglottis being
framed so that it may fall on either side, whilst we speak it shuts
the weasand, but when we eat or drink it falls upon the windpipe,
and so secures the passage for our breath. Besides, we know that
those who drink by little and little are looser than those who
drink greedily and large draughts; for in the latter the very force
drives it into their bladders, but in the former it stays, and by
its stay is mixed with and moistens the meat thoroughly. Now this
could not be, if in the very drinking the liquid was separated from
the dry food; but the effect follows, because we mix and convey
them both together, using (as Erasistratus phraseth it) the liquid
as a vehicle for the dry.

Nicias having done, Protogenes the grammarian subjoined, that Homer
was the first that observed the stomach was the vessel of the food,
and the windpipe (which the ancients called [Greek omitted] of the
breath, and upon the same account they called those who had loud
voices [Greek omitted]. And when he describes how Achilles killed
Hector, he says,

He pierced his weasand, where death enters soon;

and adds,

But not his windpipe, so that he could speak,
("Iliad," xxii. 325-329.)

taking the windpipe for the proper passage of the speech
and breath. ...

Upon this, all being silent, Florus began thus: What, shall we
tamely suffer Plato to be run down? By no means, said I, for if we
desert him, Homer must be in the same condition, for he is so far
from denying the windpipe to be the passage for our drink, that the
dry food, in his opinion, goes the same way. For these are
his words:--

From his gullet [Greek omitted] flowed
The clotted wine and undigested flesh.
("Odyssey," ix. 373.)

Unless perchance you will say that the Cyclops, as he had but one
eye, so had but one passage for his food and voice; or would have
[Greek omitted] to signify weasand, not windpipe, as both all the
ancients and moderns use it. I produce this because it is really
his meaning, not because I want other testimonies, for Plato hath
store of learned and sufficient men to join with him. For not to
mention Eupolis, who in his play called the "Flatterers" says,

Protagoras bids us drink a lusty bowl,
That when the Dog appears our lungs may still be moist;

or elegant Eratosthenes, who says,

And having drenched his lungs with purest wine;

even Euripides, somewhere expressly saying,

The wine passed through the hollows of the lungs,

shows that he saw better and clearer than Erasistratus. For he saw
that the lungs have cavities and pores, through which the liquids
pass. For the breath in expiration hath no need of pores, but that
the liquids and those things which pass with them might go through,
it is made like a strainer and full of pores. Besides, sir, as to
the example of gruel which you proposed, the lungs can discharge
themselves of the thicker parts together with the thin, as well as
the stomach. For our stomach is not, as some fancy, smooth and
slippery, but full of asperities, in which it is probable that the
thin and small particles are lodged, and so not taken quite down.
But neither this nor the other can we positively affirm; for the
curious contrivance of Nature in her operation is too hard to be
explained; nor can we be particularly exact upon those instruments
(I mean the spirit and the heat) which she makes use of in her
works. But besides those we have mentioned to confirm Plato's
opinion, let us produce Philistion of Locri, very ancient and very
famous physician, and Hippocrates too, with his disciple Dioxippus;
for they thought of no other passage but that which Plato mentions.
Dioxippus knew very well that precious talk of the epiglottis, but
says, that when we feed, the moist parts are about that separated
from the dry, and the first are carried down the windpipe, the
other down the weasand; and that the windpipe receives no parts of
the food, but the stomach, together with the dry parts, receives
some portion of the liquids. And this is probable, for the
epiglottis lies over the windpipe, as a fence and strainer, that
the drink may get in by little and little, lest descending in a
large full stream, it stop the breath and endanger the life.
And therefore birds have no epiglottis, because they do not sup or
lap when they drink, but take up a little in their beak, and let it
run gently down their windpipe.

These testimonies I think are enough; and reason confirms Plato's
opinion by arguments drawn first from sense. For when the windpipe
is wounded, no drink will go down; but as if the pipe were broken
it runs out, though the weasand be whole and unhurt. And all know
that in the inflammation of the lungs the patient is troubled with
extreme thirst; the heat or dryness or some other cause, together
with the inflammation, making the appetite intense. But a stronger
evidence than all these follows. Those creatures that have very
small lungs, or none at all, neither want nor desire drink, because
to some parts there belongs a natural appetite to drink, and those
that want those parts have no need to drink, nor any appetite to be
supplied by it. But more, the bladder would seem unnecessary;
for, if the weasand receives both meat and drink and conveys it to
the belly, the superfluous parts of the liquids would not want a
proper passage, one common one would suffice as a canal for both
that were conveyed to the same vessel by the same passage. But now
the bladder is distinct from the guts, because the drink goes from
the lungs, and the meat from the stomach; they being separated as
we take them down. And this is the reason that in our water
nothing can be found that either in smell or color resembles dry
food. But if the drink were mixed with the dry meat in the belly,
it must be impregnant with its qualities, and not come forth so
simple and untinged. Besides, a stone is never found in the
stomach, though it is likely that the moisture should be coagulated
there as well as in the bladder, if all the liquor were conveyed
through the weasand then into the belly. But it is probable at the
weasand robs the windpipe of a sufficient quantity of liquor as it
is going down, and useth it to soften and concoct the meat.
And therefore its excrement is never purely liquid; and the lungs,
disposing of the moisture, as of the breath, to all of the parts
that want it, deposit the superfluous portion in the bladder.
And I am sure that this is a much more probable opinion than the
other. But which is the truth cannot perhaps be discovered, and
therefore it is not fit so peremptorily to find fault with the most
acute and most famed philosopher, especially when the matter is so
obscure, and the Platonists can produce such considerable reasons
for their position.


BECOME [Greek omitted]?


We had always some difficulty started about [Greek omitted] and
[Greek omitted], not what humor those words signified (for it is
certain that some, thinking that those seeds which fall on the
oxen's horns bear fruit which is very hard, did by a metaphor call
a stiff untractable fellow by these names), but what was the cause
that seeds falling on the oxen's horns should bear hard fruit.
I had often desired my friends to search no farther, most of all
fearing the passage of Theophrastus, in which he has collected many
things whose causes we cannot discover. Such are the hen's using a
straw to purify herself with after she has laid, the seal's
consuming her rennet when she is caught, the deer's burying his
horns, and the goat's stopping the whole herd by holding a branch
of sea-holly in his mouth; and among the rest he reckoned this is a
thing of which we are certain, but whose cause it is very difficult
to find. But once at supper at Delphi, some of my companions--as
if we were not only better counsellors when our bellies are full
(as one hath it), but wine would make us brisker in our inquiries
and bolder in our resolutions desired me to speak somewhat to
that problem.

I refused, though I had some excellent men on my side, namely,
Euthydemus my fellow-priest, and Patrocles my relative, who brought
several the like instances, which they had gathered both from
husbandry and hunting; for instance, that those officers that are
appointed to watch the coming of the hail avert the storm by
offering a mole's blood or a woman's cloths; that a wild fig being
bound to a garden fig-tree will keep the fruit from falling and
promote their ripening; that deer when they are taken shed salt
tears, and boars sweet. But if you have a mind to such questions,
Euthydemus will presently desire you to give an account of smallage
and cummin; one of the which, if trodden down as it springs, will
grow the better, and the other men curse and blaspheme whilst they
sow it.

This last Florus thought to be an idle foolery; but he said, that
we should not forbear to search into the causes of the other things
as if they were incomprehensible. I have found, said I, your
design to draw me on to this discourse, that you yourself may
afterward give us a solution of the other proposed difficulties.

In my opinion it is cold that causes this hardness in corn and
pulse, by contracting and constipating their parts till the
substance becomes close and extremely rigid; while heat is a
dissolving and softening quality. And therefore those that cite
this verse against Homer,

The season, not the field, bears fruit,

do not justly reprehend him. For fields that are warm by nature,
the air being likewise temperate, bear more mellow fruit than
others. And therefore those seeds that fall immediately on the
earth out of the sower's hand, and are covered presently, and
cherished by being covered, partake more of the moisture and heat
that is in the earth. But those that strike against the oxen's
horns do not enjoy what Hesiod names the best position, but seem to
be scattered rather than sown; and therefore the cold either
destroys them quite, or else, lighting upon them as they lie naked,
condenseth their moisture, and makes them hard and woody.
Thus stones that lie under ground and, plant-animals have softer
parts than those that lie above; and therefore stone-cutters bury
the stones they would work, as if they designed to have them
prepared and softened by the heat; but those that lie above ground
are by the cold made hard, rigid, and very hurtful to the tools.
And if corn lies long upon the floor, the grains become much harder
than that which is presently carried away. And sometimes too a
cold wind blowing whilst they winnow spoils the corn, as it hath
happened at Philippi in Macedonia; and the chaff secures the grains
whilst on the floor. For is it any wonder that as husband-men
affirm, one ridge will bear soft and fruitful, and the very next to
it hard and unfruitful corn or--which is stranger--that in the same
bean-cod some beans are of this sort, some of the other, as more or
less wind and moisture falls upon this or that?




My father-in-law Alexion laughed at Hesiod, for advising us to
drink freely when the barrel is newly broached or almost out, but
moderately when it is about the middle, since there is the best
wine. For who, said he, doth not know, that the middle of wine,
the top of oil, and the bottom of honey is the best? Yet he bids us
spare the middle, and stay till worse wine runs, when the barrel is
almost out. This said, the company minded Hesiod no more, but
began to inquire into the cause of this difference.

We were not at all puzzled about the honey, everybody almost
knowing that that which is lightest is so because it is rare, and
that the heaviest parts are dense and compact, and by reason of
their weight settle below the others. So, if you turn the vessel,
each in a little time will recover its proper place, the heavier
subsiding, and the lighter rising above the rest. And as for the
wine, probable solutions presently appeared; for its strength
consisting in heat, it is reasonable that it should be contained
chiefly in the middle, and there best preserved; for the lower
parts the lees spoil, and the upper are impaired by the neighboring
air. For that the air will impair wine no man doubts, and
therefore we usually bury or cover our barrels, that as little air
as can be might come near them. And besides (which is an evident
sign) a barrel when full is not spoiled so soon as when it is half
empty; because a great deal of air getting into the empty space
troubles and disturbs the liquor, whereas the wine that is in the
unemptied cask is preserved and defended by itself, not admitting
much of the external air, which is apt to injure and corrupt it.

But the oil gave us the most difficulty. One thought that the
bottom of the oil was affected, because it was foul and troubled
with the lees; and that the top was not really better than the
rest, but only seemed so, because it was farthest removed from
those corrupting particles. Others thought the thickness of the
liquor to be the reason, which thickness keeps it from mixing with
other humids, unless blended together and shaken violently;
and therefore it will not mix with air, but keeps it off by its
smoothness and close contexture, so that it hath no power to
corrupt it. But Aristotle seems to be against this opinion, who
hath observed that oil grows sweeter by being kept in vessels not
exactly filled, and afterwards ascribes this melioration to the
air; for more air, and therefore more powerful to produce the
effect, flows into a vessel not well filled.

Well then! said I, the same quality in the air may spoil wine, and
better oil. For long keeping improves wine, but spoils oil.
Now the air keeps oil from growing old; for that which is cooled
continues fresh and new, but that which is kept close up, having no
way to exhale its corrupting parts, presently decays, and grows
old. Therefore it is probable that the air coming upon the
superficies of the oil keepeth it fresh and new. And this is the
reason that the top of wine is worst, and of oil best; because age
betters the one, and spoils the other.




Florus, who observed the ancient manners, would not let the table
be removed quite empty, but always left some meat upon it;
declaring likewise that his father and grandfather were not only
curious in this matter, but would never suffer the lamp after
supper to be put out,--a thing about which the ancient Romans were
very careful,--while those of to-day put it out immediately after
supper, that they may lose no oil. Eustrophus the Athenian being
present said: What could they get by that, unless they knew the
cunning trick of our Polycharmus, who, after long deliberation how
to find out a way to prevent the servants' stealing of the oil, at
last with a great deal of difficulty happened upon this: As soon as
you have put out the lamp, fill it up, and the next morning look
carefully whether it remains full. Then Florus with a smile
replied: Well, since we are agreed about that, let us inquire for
what reason the ancients were so careful about their tables and
their lamps.

First, about the lamps. And his son-in-law Caesernius was of
opinion that the ancients abominated all extinction of fire,
because of the relation that it had to the sacred and eternal
flame. Fire, like man, may be destroyed two ways, either when it
is violently quenched, or when it naturally decays. The sacred
fire was secured against both ways, being always watched and
continually supplied; but the common fire they permitted to go out
of itself, not forcing or violently extinguishing it, but not
supplying it with nourishment, like a useless beast, that they
might not feed it to no purpose.

Lucius, Florus's son, subjoined, that all the rest of the discourse
was very good, but that they did not reverence and take care of
this holy fire because they thought it better or more venerable
than other fire; but, as amongst the Egyptians some worship the
whole species of dogs, wolves, or crocodiles, yet keep but one
wolf, dog, or crocodile (for all could not be kept), so the
particular care which the ancients took of the sacred fire was only
a sign of the respect they had for all fires. For nothing bears
such a resemblance to an animal as fire. It is moved and nourished
by itself, and by its brightness, like the soul, discovers and
makes everything apparent; but in its quenching it principally
shows some power that seems to proceed from our vital principle,
for it makes a noise and resists, like an animal dying or violently
slaughtered. And can you (looking upon me) offer any
better reason?

I can find fault, replied I, with no part of the discourse, yet I
would subjoin, that this custom is an instruction for kindness and
good-will. For it is not lawful for any one that hath eaten
sufficiently to destroy the remainder of the food; nor for him that
hath supplied his necessities from the fountain to stop it up;
nor for him that hath made use of any marks, either by sea or land,
to ruin or deface them; but every one ought to leave those things
that may be useful to those persons that afterwards may have need
of them. Therefore it is not fit, out of a saving covetous humor,
to put out a lamp as soon as we need it not; but we ought to
preserve and let it burn for the use of those that perhaps want its
light. Thus, it would be very generous to lend our ears and eyes,
nay, if possible, our reason and understanding, to others, whilst
we are idle or asleep. Besides, consider whether to stir up men to
gratitude these minute observances were practised. The ancients
did not act absurdly when they highly reverenced an oak.
The Athenians called one fig-tree sacred, and forbade any one to
cut down an olive. For such observances do not (as some fancy)
make men prone to superstition, but persuade us to be communicative
and grateful to one another, by being accustomed to pay this
respect to these senseless and inanimate creatures. Upon the same
reason Hesiod, methinks, adviseth well, who would not have any meat
or broth set on the table out of those pots out of which there had
been no portion offered, but ordered the first-fruits to be given
to the fire, as a reward for the service it did in preparing it.
And the Romans, dealing well with the lamps, did not take away the
nourishment they had once given, but permitted them to live and
shine by it.

When I had said thus, Eustrophus subjoined: This gives us some
light into that query about the table; for they thought that they
ought to leave some portion of the supper for the servants and
waiters, for those are not so well pleased with a supper provided
for them apart, as with the relics of their master's table.
And upon this account, they say, the Persian king did not only send
portions from his own table to his friends, captains, and gentlemen
of his bed-chamber, but had always what was provided for his
servants and his dogs served up to his own table; that as far as
possible all those creatures whose service was useful might seem to
be his guests and companions. For, by such feeding in common and
participation, the wildest of beasts might be made tame and gentle.

Then I with a smile said: But, sir, that fish there, that according
to the proverb is laid up, why do not we bring out into play
together with Pythagoras's choenix, which he forbids any man to sit
upon, thereby teaching us that we ought to leave something of what
we have before us for another time, and on the present day be
mindful of the morrow? We Boeotians use to have that saying
frequently in our mouths, "Leave something for the Medes," ever
since the Medes overran and spoiled Phocis and the marches of
Boeotia; but still, and upon all occasions, we ought to have that
ready, "Leave something for the guests that may come."
And therefore I must needs find fault with that always empty and
starving table of Achilles; for, when Ajax and Ulysses came
ambassadors to him, he had nothing ready, but was forced out of
hand to dress a fresh supper. And when he would entertain Priam,
he again bestirs himself, kills a white ewe, joints and dresses it,
and in that work spent a great part of the night. But Eumaeus (a
wise scholar of a wise master) had no trouble upon him when
Telemachus came home, but presently desired him to sit down, and
feasted him, setting before him dishes of boiled meat,

The cleanly reliques of the last night's feast.

But if this seems trifling, and a small matter, I am sure it is no
small matter to command and restrain appetite while there are
dainties before you to satisfy and please it. For those that are
used to abstain from what is present are not so eager for absent
things as others are.

Lucius subjoining said, that he had heard his grandmother say, that
the table was sacred, and nothing that is sacred ought to be empty.
Besides, continued he, in my opinion, the table hath some
resemblance of the earth; for, besides nourishing us, it is round
and stable, and is fitly called by some Vesta [Greek omitted] from
[Greek omitted]. Therefore as we desire that the earth should
always have and bear something that is useful for us, so we think
that we should not let the table be altogether empty and void of
all provision.




At the Pythian games Callistratus, procurator of the Amphictyons,
forbade a piper, his citizen and friend, who did not give in his
name in due time, to appear in the solemnity, according to the law.
But afterwards entertaining us, he brought him into the room with
the chorus, finely dressed in his robes and with chaplets on his
head, as if he was to contend for the prize. And at first indeed
he played a very fine tune; but afterwards, having tickled and
sounded the humor of the whole company, and found that most were
inclined to pleasure and would suffer him to play what effeminate
and lascivious tunes he pleased, throwing aside all modesty, he
showed that music was more intoxicating than wine to those that
wantonly and unskilfully use it. For they were not content to sit
still and applaud and clap, but many at last leaped from their
seats, danced lasciviously, and made such gentle steps as became
such effeminate and mollifying tunes. But after they had done, and
the company, as it were recovered of its madness, began to come to
itself again, Lamprias would have spoken to and severely chid the
young men; but as fearing he would be too harsh and give offence,
Callistratus gave him a hint, and drew him on by this discourse:--

For my part, I absolve all lovers of shows and music from
intemperance; yet I cannot altogether agree with Aristoxenus, who
says that those pleasures alone deserve the approbation "fine." For
we call viands and ointments fine; and we say we have finely dined,
when we have been splendidly entertained. Nor, in my opinion, doth
Aristotle free those complacencies we take in shows and songs upon
good reason from the charge of excess, saying, that those belong
peculiarly to man, and of other pleasures beasts have a share.
For I am certain that a great many irrational creatures are
delighted with music, as deer with pipes; and to mares, whilst they
are horsing, they play a tune called [Greek omitted]. And Pindar
says, that his songs make him move,

As brisk as Dolphins, whom a charming tune
Hath raised from th' bottom of the quiet flood.

And certain fish are taken by means of dancing; for as the dance
goes on they lift up their heads above water, being much pleased
and delighted with the sight, and twisting their backs this way and
that way, in imitation of the dancers. Therefore I see nothing
peculiar in those pleasures, that they should be accounted proper
to the mind, and all others to belong to the body, so far as to end
there. But music, rhythm, dancing, song, passing through the
sense, fix a pleasure and titilation in the sportive part of the
soul and therefore none of these pleasures is enjoyed in secret,
nor wants darkness nor walls about it, according to the women's
phrase; but circuses and theatres are built for them. And to
frequent shows and music-meetings with company is both more
delightful and more genteel; because we take a great many
witnesses, not of a luxurious and intemperate, but of a pleasant
and respectable, manner of passing away our time.

Upon this discourse of Callistratus, my father Lamprias, seeing the
musicians grow bolder, said: That is not the reason, sir, and, in
my opinion, the ancients were much out when they named Bacchus the
son of Forgetfulness. They ought to have called him his father;
for it seems he hath made you forget that of those faults which are
committed about pleasures some proceed from a loose intemperate
inclination, and others from heedlessness or ignorance. Where the
ill effect is very plain, there intemperate inclination captivates
reason, and forces men to sin; but where the just reward of
intemperance is not directly and presently inflicted, there
ignorance of the danger and heedlessness make men easily wrought
oil and secure. Therefore those that are vicious, either in
eating, drinking, or venery, which diseases, wasting of estates,
and evil reports usually attend, we call intemperate.
For instance, Theodectes, who having sore eyes, when his mistress
came to see him, said,

All hail, delightful light;

or Anaxarchus the Abderite,

A wretch who knew what evils wait on sin,
Yet love of pleasure drove him back again.
Once almost free, he sank again to vice,
That terror and disturber of the wise.

Now those that take all care possible to secure themselves from all
those pleasures that assault them either at the smelling, touch, or
taste, are often surprised by those that make their treacherous
approaches either at the eye or ear. But such, though as much led
away as the others, we do not in like manner call incontinent and
intemperate, since they are ruined through ignorance and want of
experience. For they imagine they are far from being slaves to
pleasures, if they can stay all day in the theatre without meat or
drink; as if a pot forsooth should be mighty proud that a man
cannot take it up by the bottom or the belly and carry it away,
though he can easily do it by the ears. And therefore Agesilaus
said, it was all one whether a man were a CINOEDUS before or
behind. We ought principally to dread those softening delights
that please and tickle through the eyes and ears, and not think
that city not taken which hath all its other gates secured by bars,
portcullises, and chains, if the enemies are already entered
through one and have taken possession; or fancy ourselves
invincible against the assaults of pleasure, because stews will not
provoke us, when the music-meeting or theatre prevails. For we in
one case as much as the other resign up our souls to the
impetuousness of pleasures, which pouring in those potions of
songs, cadences, and tunes, more powerful and bewitching than the
best mixtures of the most skilful cook or perfumer, conquer and
corrupt us; and in the meantime, by our own confession as it were,
the fault is chiefly ours. Now, as Pindar saith, nothing that the
earth and sea hath provided for our tables can be justly blamed;
but neither our meat nor broth, nor this excellent wine which we
drink, hath raised such a noisy tumultous pleasure as those songs
and tunes did, which not only filled the house with clapping and
shouting, but perhaps the whole town. Therefore we ought
principally to secure ourselves against such delights, because they
are more powerful than others; as not being terminated in the body,
like those which allure the touch, taste, or smelling, but
affecting the very intellectual and judging faculties.
Besides, from most other delights, though reason doth not free us,
yet other passions very commonly divert us. Sparing niggardliness
will keep a glutton from dainty fish, and covetousness will confine
a lecher from a costly whore. As in one of Menander's plays, where
every one of the company was to be enticed by the bawd who brought
out a surprising whore, but each of them, though all
boon companions,

Sat sullenly, and fed upon his cates.

For to pay interest for money is a severe punishment that follows
intemperance, and to open our purses is no easy matter. But these
pleasures that are called genteel, and solicit the ears or eyes of
those that are frantic after shows and music, may be had without
any charge at all, in every place almost, and upon every occasion;
they may be enjoyed at the prizes, in the theatre, or at
entertainments, at others cost. And therefore those that have not
their reason to assist and guide them may be easily spoiled.

Silence following upon this, What application, said I, shall reason
make, or how shall it assist? For I do not think it will apply
those ear-covers of Xenocrates, or force us to rise from the table
as soon as we hear a harp struck or a pipe blown. No indeed,
replied Lamprias, but as soon as we meet with the foresaid
intoxications, we ought to make our application to the Muses, and
fly to the Helicon of the ancients. To him that loves a costly
strumpet, we cannot bring a Panthea or Penelope for cure; but one
that delights in mimics and buffoons, loose odes, or debauched
songs, we can bring to Euripides, Pindar, and Menander, that he
might wash (as Plato phraseth it) his salt hearing with fresh
reason. As the exorcists command the possessed to read over and
pronounce Ephesian letters, so we in those possessions, during the
madness of music and the dance, when

We toss our hands with noise, and madly shout,

remembering those venerable and sacred writings, and comparing
with them those odes, poems, and vain empty compositions, shall
not be altogether cheated by them, or permit ourselves to be
carried away sidelong, as by a smooth and undisturbed stream.




Homer makes Menelaus come uninvited to his brother Agamemnon's
treat, when he feasted the commanders;

For well he knew great cares his brother vexed.
("Iliad," ii. 409.)

He did not take notice of the plain and evident omission of his
brother, or show his resentments by not coming, as some surly testy
persons usually do upon such oversights of their best friends;
yet they had rather be overlooked than particularly invited, that
they may have some color for their pettish anger. But about the
introduced guests (which we call shadows) who are not invited by
the entertainer, but by some others of the guests, a question was
started, from whom that custom began. Some thought from Socrates,
who persuaded Aristodemus, who was not invited, to go along with
him to Agatho's, where there happened a pretty jest. For Socrates
by chance staying somewhat behind, Aristodemus went in first;
and this seemed very appropriate, for, the sun shining on their
backs, the shadow ought to go before the body. Afterwards it was
thought necessary at all entertainments, especially of great men,
when the inviter did not know their favorites and acquaintance, to
desire the invited to bring his company, appointing such a set
number, lest they should be put to the same shifts which he was put
to who invited King Philip to his country-house. The king came
with a numerous attendance, but the provision was not equal to the
company. Therefore, seeing his entertainer much cast down, he sent
some about to tell his friends privately, that they should keep one
corner of their bellies for a large cake that was to come.
And they, expecting this, fed sparingly on the meat that was set
before them, so that the provision seemed sufficient for them all.

When I had talked thus waggishly to the company Florus had a mind
to talk gravely concerning these shadows, and have it discussed
whether it was fit for those that were so invited to go, or no.
His son-in-law Caesernius was positively against it. We should,
says he, following Hesiod's advice,

Invite a friend to feast,
("Works and Days," 342.)

or at least we should have our acquaintance and familiars to
participate of our entertainments, mirth, and discourse over a
glass of wine; but now, as ferry-men permit their passengers to
bring in what fardel they please, so we permit others to fill our
entertainments with any persons, let them be good companions or
not. And I should wonder that any man of breeding being so (that
is, not at all) invited, should go; since, for the most part, he
must be unacquainted with the entertainer, or if he was acquainted,
was not thought worthy to be bidden. Nay, he should be more
ashamed to go to such a one, if he considers that it will look like
an upbraiding of his unkindness, and yet a rude intruding into his
company against his will. Besides, to go before or after the guest
that invites him must look unhandsomely, nor is it creditable to go
and stand in need of witnesses to assure the guests that he doth
not come as a principally invited person, but such a one's shadow.
Besides, to attend others bathing or anointing, to observe his
hour, whether he goes early or late, is servile and gnathonical
(for there never was such an excellent fellow as Gnatho to feed at
another man's table). Besides, if there is no more proper time and
place to say,

Speak, tongue, if thou wilt utter jovial things,

than at a feast, and freedom and raillery is mixed with everything
that is either done or said over a glass of wine, how should he
behave himself, who is not a true principally invited guest, but as
it were a bastard and supposititious intruder? For whether he is
free or not, he lies open to the exception of the company.
Besides, the very meanness and vileness of the name is no small
evil to those who do not resent it but can quietly endure to be
called and answer to the name of shadows. For, by enduring such
base names, men are insensibly accustomed and drawn on to base
actions. Therefore, when I make an invitation, for it is hard to
break the custom of a place, I give my guests leave to bring
shadows; but when I myself am invited as a shadow, I assure you I
refuse to go.

A short silence followed this discourse; then Florus began thus:
This last thing you mentioned, sir, is a greater difficulty than
the other. For it is necessary when we invite our friends to give
them liberty to choose their own shadows, as was before hinted;
for to entertain them without their friends is not very obliging,
nor is it very easy to know whom the person we invite would be most
pleased with. Then said I to him: Consider therefore whether those
that give their friends this license to invite do not at the same
time give the invited license to accept the invitation and come to
the entertainment. For it is not fit either to allow or to desire
another to do that which is not decent to be done, or to urge and
persuade to that which no one ought to be persuaded or to consent
to do. When we entertain a great man or stranger, there we cannot
invite or choose his company, but must receive those that come
along with him. But when we feast a friend, it will be more
acceptable if we ourselves invite all, as knowing his acquaintance
and familiars; for it tickles him extremely to see that others take
notice that he hath chiefly a respect for such and such, loves
their company most, and is well pleased when they are honored and
invited as well as he. Yet sometimes we must deal with our friend
as petitioners do when they make addresses to a god; they offer
vows to all that belong to the same altar and the same shrine,
though they make no particular mention of their names. For no
dainties, wine, or ointment can incline a man to merriment, as much
as a pleasant agreeable companion. For as it is rude and ungenteel
to inquire and ask what sort of meat, wine, or ointment the person
whom we are to entertain loves best; so it is neither disobliging
nor absurd to desire him who hath a great many acquaintance to
bring those along with him whose company he likes most, and in
whose conversation he can take the greatest pleasure. For it is
not so irksome and tedious to sail in the same ship, to dwell in
the same house, or be a judge upon the same bench, with a person
whom we do not like, as to be at the same table with him; and the
contrary is fully as pleasant. An entertainment is a communion of
serious or merry discourse or actions; and therefore, to make a
merry company, we should not pick up any person at a venture, but
take only such as are known to one another and sociable. Cooks, it
is true, mix sour and sweet juices, rough and oily, to make their
sauces; but there never was an agreeable table or pleasant
entertainment where the guests were not all of a piece, and all of
the same humor. Now, as the Peripatetics say, the first mover in
nature moves only and is not moved, and the last moved is moved
only but does not move, and between these there is that which moves
and is moved by others; so there is the same analogy between those
three sorts of persons that make up a company,--there is the simple
inviter, the simple invited and the invited that invites another.
We have spoken already concerning the inviter, and it will not be
improper, in my opinion, to deliver my sentiments about the other
two. He that is invited and invites others, should, in my opinion,
be sparing in the number that he brings. He should not, as if he
were to forage in an enemy's country, carry all he can with him;
or, like those who go to possess a new-found land, by the excessive
number of his own friends, incommode or exclude the friends of the
inviter, so that the inviter must be in the same case with those
that set forth suppers to Hecate and the gods who turn away evil,
of which neither they nor any of their family partake, except of
the smoke and trouble. It is true they only speak in waggery
that say,

He that at Delphi offers sacrifice
Must after meat for his own dinner buy.

But the same thing really happens to him who entertains ill-bred
guests or acquaintances, who with a great many shadows, as it were
harpies, tear and devour his provision. Besides, he should not
take anybody that he may come upon along with him to another's
entertainment, but chiefly the entertainer's acquaintance, as it
were contending with him and preceding him in the invitation.
But if that cannot be effected, let him carry such of his own
friends as the entertainer would choose himself; to a civil modest
man, some of complaisant humor; to a learned man, ingenuous
persons; to a man that hath borne office, some of the same rank;
and, in short, such whose acquaintance he hath formerly sought and
would be now glad of. For it will be extremely pleasing and
obliging to bring such into company together; but one who brings to
a feast men who have no likeness at all with the feast-maker, but
who are entire aliens and strangers to him,--as hard drinkers to a
sober man,--gluttons and sumptuous persons to a temperate thrifty
entertainer,--or to a young, merry, boon companion, grave old
philosophers solemnly speaking in their beards,--will be very
disobliging, and turn all the intended mirth into an unpleasant
sourness. The entertained should be as obliging to the entertainer
as the entertainer to the entertained; and then he will be most
obliging, when not only he himself, but all those that come by his
means, are pleasant and agreeable.

The last of the three which remains to be spoken of is he that is
invited by one man to another's feast. Now he that disdains and is
so much offended at the name of a shadow will appear to be afraid
of a mere shadow. But in this matter there is need of a great deal
of caution, for it is not creditable readily to go along with every
one and to everybody. But first you must consider who it is that
invites; for if he is not a very familiar friend, but a rich or
great man, such who, as if upon a stage, wants a large or splendid
retinue, or such who thinks that he puts a great obligation upon
you and does you a great deal of honor by this invitation, you must
presently deny. But if he is your friend and particular
acquaintance, you must not yield upon the first motion: but if
there seems a necessity for some conversation which cannot be put
off till another time, or if he is lately come from a journey or
designs to go on one, and out of mere good-will and affection seems
desirous of your company, and doth not desire to carry a great
many, or strangers, but only some few friends along with him;
or, besides all this, if he designs to bring you thus invited
acquainted with the principal inviter, who is very worthy of your
acquaintance, then consent and go. For as to ill-humored persons,
the more they seize and take hold of us like thorns, we should
endeavor to free ourselves from them or leap over them the more.
If he that invites is a civil and well-bred person, yet doth not
design to carry you to one of the same temper, you must refuse,
lest you should take poison in honey, that is, get the acquaintance
of a bad man by an honest friend. It is absurd to go to one you do
not know, and with whom you never had any familiarity, unless, as I
said before, the person be an extraordinary man, and, by a civil
waiting, upon him at another man's invitation, you design to begin
an acquaintance with him. And those friends you should chiefly go
to as shadows, who would come to you again in the same quality.
To Philip the jester, indeed, he seemed more ridiculous that came
to a feast of his own accord than he that was invited; but to
well-bred and civil friends it is more obliging for men of the same
temper to come at the nick of time with other friends, when
uninvited and unexpected; at once pleasing both to those that
invite and those that entertain. But chiefly you must avoid going
to rulers, rich or great men, lest you incur the deserved censure
of being impudent, saucy, rude, and unseasonably ambitious.




At Chaeronea, Diogenianus the Pertamenian being present, we had a
long discourse once at an entertainment about music; and we had a
great deal of trouble to hold out against a great bearded sophister
of the Stoic sect, who quoted Plato as blaming a company that
admitted flute-girls and were not able to entertain one another
with discourse. And Philip the Prusian, of the same sect, said:
Those guests of Agatho, whose discourse was more sweet than the
sound of any pipe in the world, were no good authority in this
case; for it was no wonder that in their company the flute-girl was
not regarded; but it is strange that, in the midst of the
entertainment, the extreme pleasantness of the discourse had not
made them forget their meat and drink. Yet Xenophon thought it not
indecent to bring in to Socrates, Antisthenes, and the like the
jester Philip; as Homer doth an onion to make the wine relish.
And Plato brought in Aristophanes's discourse of love, as a comedy,
into his entertainment; and at the last, as it were drawing all the
curtains, he shows a scene of the greatest variety imaginable,--
Alcibiades drunk, frolicking, and crowned. Then follows that
pleasant raillery between him and Socrates concerning Agatho, and
the encomium of Socrates; and when such discourse was going on,
good gods! Had it not been allowable, if Apollo himself had come
in with his harp ready to desire the god to forbear till the
argument was out? These men, having such a pleasant way of
discoursing, used these arts and insinuating methods, and graced
their entertainment's by such facetious raillery. But shall we,
being mixed with tradesmen and merchants, and some (as it now and
then happens) ignorants and rustics, banish out of our
entertainments this ravishing delight, or fly the musicians, as if
they were Sirens, as soon as we see them coming? Clitomachus the
wrestler, rising and getting away when any one talked of love, was
much wondered at; and should not a philosopher that banisheth music
from a feast, and is afraid of a musician, and bids his link boy
presently light his link and be gone, be laughed at, since he seems
to abominate the most innocent pleasures, as beetles do ointment?
For, if at any time, certainly over a glass of wine, music should
be permitted, and then chiefly the harmonious god should have the
direction of our souls; so that Euripides, though I like him very
well in other things, shall never persuade me that music, as he
would have it, should be applied to melancholy and grief.
For there sober and serious reason, like a physician, should take
care of the diseased men; but those pleasures should be mixed with
Bacchus, and serve to increase our mirth and frolic. Therefore it
was a pleasant saying of that Spartan at Athens, who, when some new
tragedians were to contend for the prize, seeing the preparations
of the masters of the dances, the hurry and busy diligence of the
instructors, said, the city was certainly mad which sported with so
much pains. He that designs to sport should sport, and not buy his
case and pleasure with great expense, or the loss of that time
which might be useful to other things; but whilst he is feasting
and free from business, those should be enjoyed. And it is
advisable to try amidst our mirth, whether any profit is to be
gotten from our delights.




When Philip had ended, I hindered the sophister from returning an
answer to the discourse, and said: Let us rather inquire,
Diogenianus, since there are a great many sorts of music, which is
fittest for an entertainment. And let us beg this learned man's
judgment in this case; for since he is not prejudiced or apt to be
biased by any sort, there is no danger that he should prefer that
which is pleasantest before that which is best.
Diogenianus joining with me in this request, he presently began.
All other sorts I banish to the theatre and playhouse, and can only
allow that which hath been lately admitted into the entertainments
at Rome, and with which everybody is not yet acquainted. You know,
continued he, that some of Plato's dialogues are purely narrative,
and some dramatic. The easiest of this latter sort they teach
their children to speak by heart; making them to imitate the
actions of those persons they represent, and to form their voice
and affections to be agreeable to the words. This all the grave
and well-bred men exceedingly admire; but soft and effeminate
fellows, whose ears ignorance and ill-breeding hath corrupted, and
who, as Aristoxenus phraseth it, are ready to vomit when they hear
excellent harmony, reject it; and no wonder, when
effeminacy prevails.

Philip, perceiving some of the company uneasy at this discourse,
said: Pray spare us, sir, and be not so severe upon us; for we were
the first that found fault with that custom when it first began to
be countenanced in Rome, and reprehended those who thought Plato
fit to entertain us whilst we were making merry, and who would hear
his dialogues whilst they were eating cates and scattering
perfumes. When Sappho's songs or Anaereon's verses are recited, I
protest I think it decent to set aside my cup. But should I
proceed, perhaps you would think me much in earnest, and designing
to oppose you, and therefore, together with this cup which I
present my friend, I leave it to him to wash your salt ear with
fresh discourse.

Then Diogenianus, taking the cup, said: Methinks this is very sober
discourse, which makes me believe that the wine doth not please
you, since I see no effect of it; so that I fear I ought to be
corrected. Indeed, many sorts of music are not to be rejected;
first, tragedy, as having nothing familiar enough for an
entertainment, and being a representation of actions attended with
grief and extremity of passion. I reject the sort of dancing which
is called Pyladean from Pylades, because it is full of pomp, very
pathetical, and requires a great many persons; but if we would
admit any of those sorts that deserve those encomiums which
Socrates mentions in his discourse about dancing, I like that sort
called Bathyllean, which requires not so high a motion, but hath
something of the character of the Cordax, and resembles the motion
of an Echo, a Pan, or a Satyr frolicking with love. Old comedy is
not fit for men that are making merry, by reason of the excuses
that appear in it; for that vehemency which they use in the
parabasis is loud and indecent, and the liberty they take to scoff
and abuse is very surfeiting, too open, and full of filthy words
and lewd expressions. Besides, as at great men's tables every man
hath a servant waiting at his elbow, so each of his guests would
need a grammarian to sit by him, and explain who is Laespodias in
Eupolis, Cinesias in Plato, and Lampo in Cratinus, and who is each
person that is jeered in the play. Concerning new comedy there is
no need of any long discourse. It is so fitted, so interwoven with
entertainments, that it is easier to have a regular feast without
wine, than without Menander. Its phrase is sweet and familiar, the
Humor innocent and easy, so that there is nothing for men whilst
sober to despise, or when merry to be troubled at. The sentiments
are so natural and unstudied, that midst wine, as it were in fire,
they soften and bend the rigidest temper to be pliable and easy.
And the mixture of gravity and jests seems to be contrived for
nothing so aptly as for the pleasure and profit of those that are
frolicking and making merry. The love-scenes in Menander are
convenient for those who have already drunk their cups, and who in
a short time must retire home to their wives; for in all his plays
there is no love of boys mentioned, and all rapes committed on
virgins and decently in marriages at last. As for misses, if they
are impudent and jilting, they are bobbed, the young gallants
turning sober, and repenting of their lewd courses. But if they
are kind and constant, either their true parents are discovered, or
a time is determined for intrigue, which brings them at last to
obliging modesty and civil kindness. These things to men busied
about other matters may seem scarce worth taking notice of;
but whilst they are making merry, it is no wonder that the
pleasantness and smoothness of the parts should work a neat
conformity and distinction in the hearers and make their manners
like the pattern they have from those genteel characters.

Diogenianus, either designedly or for want of breath ended thus.
And when the sophister attacked him again, and contended that some
of Aristophanes's verses should be read, Philip speaking to me
said: Diogenianus hath had his wish in praising his beloved
Menander, and seems not to care for any of the rest. There are a
great many sorts which we have not at all considered, concerning
which I should be very glad to have your opinion; and the prize for
the carvers we will set up to-morrow, when we are sober, if
Diogenianus and this stranger think fit. Of representations, said
I, some are allegorical, and some are farces; neither of these are
fit for an entertainment; the first by reason of their length and
cost, and the latter being so full of filthy discourse and lewd
actions, that they are not fit to be seen by the foot-boys that
wait on civil masters. Yet the rabble, even with their wives and
young sons, sit quietly to be spectators of such representations as
are apt to disturb the soul more than the greatest debauch in
drink. The harp ever since Homer's time was well acquainted with
feasts and entertainments, and therefore it is not fitting to
dissolve such an ancient friendship and acquaintance; but we should
only desire the harpers to forbear their sad notes and melancholy
tunes, and play only those that are delighting, and fit for such as
are making merry. The pipe, if we would, we cannot reject, for the
libation in the beginning of the entertainment requires that as
well as the garland. Then it insinuates and passeth through the
ears, spreading even to the very soul a pleasant sound, which
produceth serenity and calmness; so that, if the wine hath not
quite dissolved or driven away all vexing solicitous anxiety this,
by the softness and delightful agreeableness of its sound, smooths
and calms the spirits, if so be that it keeps within due bounds,
and doth not elevate too much, and, by its numerous surprising
divisions, raise an ecstasy in the soul which wine hath weakened
and made easy to be perverted. For as brutes do not understand a
rational discourse, yet lie down or rise up at the sound of a shell
or whistle, or of a chirp or clap; so the brutish part of the soul,
which is either incapable of understanding or obeying reason, men
conquer by songs and tunes, and by music reduce it to tolerable
order. But to speak freely what I think, no pipe nor harp simply
played upon, and without a song with it, can be very fit for an
entertainment. For we should still accustom ourselves to take our
chiefest pleasure from discourse, and spend our leisure time in
profitable talk, and use tunes and airs as a sauce for the
discourse, and not singly by themselves, to please the unreasonable
delicacy of our palate. For as nobody is against pleasure that
ariseth from sauce or wine going in with our necessary food, but
Socrates flouts and refuseth to admit that superfluous and vain
pleasure which we take in perfumes and odors at a feast; thus the
sound of a pipe or harp, when singly applied to our ears, we
utterly reject, but if it accompanies words, and together with an
ode feasts and delights our reason, we gladly introduce it. And we
believe the famed Marsyas was punished by Apollo for pretending,
when he had nothing but his single pipe, and his muzzle to apply to
his lips, to contend with the harp and song of the god. Let us
only take care that, when we have such guests as are able to cheer
one another with philosophy and good discourse we do not introduce
anything that may rather prove an uneasy hindrance to the
conversation than promote it. For not only those are fools, who,
as Euripides says, having safety at home and in their own power,
yet would hire some from abroad; but those too who, having
pleasantness enough within, are eager after some external pastimes
to comfort and delight them. That extraordinary piece of honor
which the Persian king showed Antalcidas the Spartan seemed rude
and uncivil, when he dipped a garland composed of crocus and roses
in ointment, and sent it him to wear, by that dipping putting a
slight upon and spoiling the natural sweetness and beauty of the
flowers. He doth as bad, who having a Muse in his own breast, and
all the pleasantness that would fit an entertainment, will have
pipes and harps play, and by that external adventitious noise
destroy all the sweetness that was proper and his own. But in
short, all ear-delights are fittest then, when the company begins
to be disturbed, to fall out, and quarrel, for then they may
prevent raillery and reproach, and stop the dispute that is running
on to sophistical and unpleasant wrangling, and bridle all babbling
declamatory altercations, so that the company may be freed of noise
and quietly composed.




At Nicostratus's table we discoursed of those matters which the
Athenians were to debate of in their next assembly. And one of the
company saying, It is the Persian fashion, sir, to debate midst
your cups; And why, said Glaucias rejoining, not the Grecian
fashion? For it was a Greek that said,

After your belly's full, your counsel's best.

And they were Greeks who with Agamemnon besieged Troy, to whom,
whilst they were eating and drinking,

Old Nestor first began a grave debate;
("Iliad," vii. 324.)

and he himself advised the king before to call the commanders
together for the same purpose:--

For the commanders, sir, a feast prepare,
And see who counsels best, and follow him.
(Ibid, ix. 70 and 74.)

Therefore Greece, having a great many excellent institutions, and
zealously following the customs of the ancients, hath laid the
foundations of her polities in wine. For the assemblies in Crete
called Andria, those in Sparta called Phiditia, were secret
consultations and aristocratical assemblies; such, I suppose, as
the Prytaneum and Thesmothesium here at Athens. And not different
from these is that night-meeting, which Plato mentions, of the best
and most polite men, to which the greatest, the most considerable
and puzzling matters are assigned. And those

Who, when they do design to seek their rest,
To Mercury their just libations pour,
("Odyssey," vii. 138.)

do they not join reason and wine together, since, when they are
about to retire, they make their vows to the wisest god, as if he
was present and particularly president over their actions? But the
ancients indeed call Bacchus the good counsellor, as if he had no
need of Mercury; and for his sake they named the night [Greek
omitted] as it were, GOOD ADVISER.




Whilst Glaucias was discoursing thus, the former tumultuous talk
seemed to be pretty well lulled; and that it might be quite
forgotten, Nicostratus started another question, saying, he never
valued the matter before, whilst he thought it a Persian custom,
but since it was discovered to be the Greek fashion too, it wanted
(he thought) some reason to excuse or defend its seeming absurdity.
For our reason (said he), like our eye, whilst it floats in too
much moisture, is hard to be moved, and unable to perform its
operations. And all sorts of troubles and discontents, like
insects to the sun, creeping forth, and being agitated by a glass
of wine, make the mind irresolute and inconstant. Therefore as a
bed is more convenient for a man whilst making merry than a chair,
because it contains the whole body and keeps it from all disturbing
motion, so it is best to have the soul perfectly at quiet; or, if
that cannot be, we must give it, as to children that will be doing,
not a sword or spear, but a rattle or a ball,--in this following
the example of the god himself, who puts into the hands of those
that are making merry a ferula, the lightest and softest of all
weapons, that, when they are most apt to strike, they may hurt
least. Over a glass of wine men should make only ridiculous slips,
and not such as may prove tragical, lamentable, or of any
considerable concern. Besides, in serious debates, it is chiefly
to be considered, that persons of mean understanding and
unacquainted with business should be guided by the wise and
experienced; but wine destroys this order. Insomuch that Plato
says, wine is called [Greek omitted] because it makes those that
drink it [Greek omitted] think that they have wit; for none over a
glass of wine thinks himself so noble, beauteous, or rich (though
he fancies himself all these), as wise; and therefore wine is
babbling, full of talk, and of a dictating humor; so that we are
rather for being heard than hearing, for leading than being led.
But a thousand such objections may be raised, for they are very
obvious. But let us hear which of the company, either old or
young, can allege anything for the contrary opinion.

Then said my brother cunningly: And do you imagine that any, upon a
sudden, can produce any probable reasons? And Nicostratus
replying, Yes, no doubt, there being so many learned men and good
drinkers in company; he with a smile continued: Do you think, sir,
you are fit to treat of these matters, when wine hath disabled you
to discourse of politics and state affairs? Or is not this all the
same as to think that a man in his liquor doth not see very well
nor understand those that talk and discourse with him, yet hears
the music and the pipers very well? For as it is likely that
useful and profitable things draw and affect the sense more than
fine and gaudy; so likewise they do the mind too. And I shall not
wonder that the nice philosophical speculation should escape a man
who hath drunk freely; but yet, I think, if he were called to
political debates, his wisdom would become more strong and
vigorous. Thus Philip at Chaeronea, being well heated, talked very
foolishly, and was the sport of the whole company; but as soon as
they began to discourse of a truce and peace, he composed his
countenance, contracted his brows, and dismissing all vain, empty
and dissolute thoughts, he gave an excellent, wise, and sober
answer to the Athenians. To drink freely is different from being
drunk, and those that drink till they grow foolish ought to retire
to bed. But as for those that drink freely and are otherwise men
of sense, why should we fear that they will fail in their
understanding or lose their skill, when we see that musicians play
as well at a feast as in a theatre? For when skill and art are
found in the soul, they make the body correct and proper in its
operations, and obedient to the motions of the spirit.
Besides, wine inspirits some men, and raises a confidence and
assurance in them, but not such as is haughty and odious, but
pleasing and agreeable. Thus they say that Aeschylus composed his
tragedies over a bottle, and that all his plays (though Gorgias
thought that one of them, the "Seven against Thebes," was full of
Mars) were Bacchus's. For wine (according to Plato), heating the
soul together with the body, makes the body pliable, quick, and
active, and opens the passages; while the fancies draw in discourse
with boldness, and daring.

For some have a good natural invention, yet whilst they are sober
are too diffident and too close, but midst their wine, like
frankincense, exhale and open at the heat. Besides, wine expels
all fear, which is the greatest hindrance to all consultations, and
quencheth many other degenerate and lazy passions; it opens the
rancor and malice, as it were, the two-leaved doors of the soul,
and displays the whole disposition and qualities of any person in
his discourse. Freedom of speech, and, through that, truth it
principally produceth; which it once wanting, neither quickness of
wit nor experience availeth anything; and many proposing that which
comes next rather hit the matter, than if they warily and
designedly conceal their present sentiments. Therefore there is no
reason to fear that wine will stir up our affections; for it never
stirs up the bad, unless in the worst men, whose judgment is never
sober. But as Theophrastus used to call the barbers' shops
wineless entertainments; so there is a kind of an uncouth wineless
drunkenness always excited either by anger, malice, emulation, or
clownishness in the souls of the unlearned. Now wine, blunting
rather than sharpening many of these passions, doth not make them
sots and foolish, but simple and ingenuous; not negligent of what
is profitable, but desirous of what is good and honest. Now those
that think craft to be cunning, and vanity or closeness to be
wisdom, have reason to think those that over a glass of wine
plainly and ingenuously deliver their opinions to be fools.
But, on the contrary, the ancients called the god the Freer and
Loosener, and thought him considerable in divination; not, as
Euripides says, because he makes men raging mad, but because he
looseth and frees the soul from all base distrustful fear, and puts
them in a condition to speak truth freely to one another.


Those, my Sossius Senecio, who throw philosophy out of
entertainments do worse than those who take away a light. For the
candle being removed, the temperate and sober guests will not
become worse than they were before, being more concerned to
reverence than to see one another. But if dulness and disregard to
good learning wait upon the wine, Minerva's golden lamp itself
could not make the entertainment pleasing and agreeable. For a
company to sit silent and only cram themselves is, in good truth,
swinish and almost impossible. But he that permits men to talk,
yet doth not allow set and profitable discourses, is much more
ridiculous than he who thinks that his guests should eat and drink,
yet gives them foul wine, unsavory and nastily prepared meat.
For no meat nor drink which is not prepared as it ought to be is so
hurtful and unpleasant as discourse which is carried round in
company insignificantly and out of season. The philosophers, when
they would give drunkenness a vile name, call it doting by wine.
Now doting is to use vain and trifling discourse; and when such
babbling is accompanied by wine, it usually ends in most
disagreeable and rude contumely and reproach. It is a good custom
therefore of our women, who in their feasts called Agrionia seek
after Bacchus as if he were run away, but in a little time give
over the search, and cry that he is fled to the Muses and lurks
with them; and some time after, when supper is done, put riddles
and hard questions to one another. For this mystery teaches us,
that midst our entertainments we should use learned and
philosophical discourse, and such as hath a Muse in it; and that
such discourse being applied to drunkenness, everything that is
brutish and outrageous in it is concealed, being pleasingly
restrained by the Muses.

This book, being the eighth of my Symposiacs, begins with that
discourse in which about a year ago, on Plato's birthday,
I was concerned.




On the sixth day of May we celebrated Socrates's birthday, and on
the seventh Plato's; and that first prompted us to such discourse
as was suitable to the meeting, which Diogenianus the Pergamenian
began thus: Ion, said he, was happy in his expression, when he said
that Fortune, though much unlike Wisdom, yet did many things very
much like her; and that she seemed to have some order and design,
not only in placing the nativities of these two philosophers so
near together, but in setting the birthday of the most famous of
the two first, who was also the master of the other. I had a great
deal to say to the company concerning some notable things that fell
out on the same day, as concerning the time of Euripides's birth
and death; for he was born the same day that the Greeks beat Xerxes
by sea at Salamis, and died the same day that Dionysius the elder,
the Sicilian tyrant, was born,--Fortune (as Timaeus hath it) at the
same time taking out of the world a representer, and bringing into
it a real actor, of tragedies. Besides, we remembered that
Alexander the king and Diogenes the Cynic died upon the same day.
And all agreed that Attalus the king died on his own birthday.
And some said, that Pompey the great was killed in Egypt on his
birthday, or, as others will have it, a day before. We remember
Pindar also, who, being born at the time of the Pythian games, made
afterwards a great many excellent hymns in honor of Apollo.

To this Florus subjoined: Now we are celebrating Plato's nativity,
why should we not mention Carneades, the most famous of the whole
Academy, since both of them were born on Apollo's feast;
Plato, whilst they were celebrating the Thargelia at Athens,
Carneades, whilst the Cyrenians kept their Carnea; and both these
feasts are, upon the same day. Nay, the god himself you (he
continued), his priests and prophets, call Hebdomagenes, as if he
were born on the seventh day. And therefore those who make Apollo
Plato's father do not, in my opinion, dishonor the god; since by
Socrates's as by another Chiron's instructions he is become a
physician for the diseases of the mind. And together with this, he
mentioned that vision and voice which forbade Aristo, Plato's
father, to come near or lie with his wife for ten months.

To this Tyndares the Spartan subjoined: It is very fit we should
apply that to Plato,

He seemed not sprung from mortal man, but God.
("Iliad," xxiv. 258.)

But, for my part, I am afraid to beget, as well as to be begotten,
is repugnant to the incorruptibility of the deity. For that
implies a change and passion; as Alexander imagined, when he said

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