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The Theological Tractates and The Consolation of Philosophy by Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius

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Tunc me discussa liquerunt nocte tenebrae
Luminibusque prior rediit uigor,
Vt, cum praecipiti glomerantur sidera Coro
Nimbosisque polus stetit imbribus,
Sol latet ac nondum caelo uenientibus astris, 5
Desuper in terram nox funditur;
Hanc si Threicio Boreas emissus ab antro
Verberet et clausam reseret diem,
Emicat ac subito uibratus lumine Phoebus
Mirantes oculos radiis ferit. 10

III.

Then fled the night and darkness did me leave.
Mine eyes their wonted strength receive,
As when swift Corus spreads the stars with clouds
And the clear sky a veil of tempest shrouds
The sun doth lurk, the earth receiveth night.
Lacking the boon of starry light;
But if fierce Boreas, sent from Thrace, make way
For the restoring of the day,
Phoebus with fresh and sudden beams doth rise,
Striking with light our wondering eyes.

III.

Haud aliter tristitiae nebulis dissolutis hausi caelum et ad cognoscendam
medicantis faciem mentem recepi. Itaque ubi in eam deduxi oculos
intuitumque defixi, respicio nutricem meam cuius ab adulescentia laribus
obuersatus fueram Philosophiam. "Et quid," inquam, "tu in has exilii nostri
solitudines o omnium magistra uirtutum supero cardine delapsa uenisti? An
ut tu quoque mecum rea falsis criminationibus agiteris?

"An," inquit illa, "te alumne desererem nec sarcinam quam mei nominis
inuidia sustulisti, communicato tecum labore partirer? Atqui Philosophiae
fas non erat incomitatum relinquere iter innocentis; meam scilicet
criminationem uererer et quasi nouum aliquid acciderit, perhorrescerem?
Nunc enim primum censes apud inprobos mores lacessitam periculis esse
sapientiam? Nonne apud ueteres quoque ante nostri Platonis aetatem magnum
saepe certamen cum stultitiae temeritate certauimus eodemque superstite
praeceptor eius Socrates iniustae uictoriam mortis me adstante promeruit?
Cuius hereditatem cum deinceps Epicureum uulgus ac Stoicum ceterique pro
sua quisque parte raptum ire molirentur meque reclamantem renitentemque
uelut in partem praedae traherent, uestem quam meis texueram manibus,
disciderunt abreptisque ab ea panniculis totam me sibi cessisse credentes
abiere. In quibus quoniam quaedam nostri habitus uestigia uidebantur, meos
esse familiares inprudentia rata nonnullos eorum profanae multitudinis
errore peruertit.

Quod si nec Anaxagorae fugam nec Socratis uenenum nec Zenonis tormenta
quoniam sunt peregrina nouisti, at Canios, at Senecas, at Soranos quorum
nec peruetusta nec incelebris memoria est, scire potuisti. Quos nihil aliud
in cladem detraxit nisi quod nostris moribus instituti studiis improborum
dissimillimi uidebantur. Itaque nihil est quod admirere, si in hoc uitae
salo circumflantibus agitemur procellis, quibus hoc maxime propositum est
pessimis displicere. Quorum quidem tametsi est numerosus exercitus,
spernendus tamen est, quoniam nullo duce regitur, sed errore tantum temere
ac passim lymphante raptatur. Qui si quando contra nos aciem struens
ualentior incubuerit, nostra quidem dux copias suas in arcem contrahit,
illi uero circa diripiendas inutiles sarcinulas occupantur. At nos desuper
inridemus uilissima rerum quaeque rapientes securi totius furiosi tumultus
eoque uallo muniti quo grassanti stultitiae adspirare fas non sit.

III.

In like manner, the mists of sadness dissolved, I came to myself and
recovered my judgment, so that I knew my Physician's face; wherefore
casting mine eyes upon her somewhat stedfastly, I beheld my nurse
Philosophy, in whose house I had remained from my youth, and I said: "O
Mistress of all virtues, for what cause art thou come from heaven into
this our solitary banishment? Art thou come to bear me company in being
falsely accused?"

"Should I," saith she, "forsake thee, my disciple, and not divide the
burden, which thou bearest through hatred of my name, by partaking of
thy labour? But Philosophy never thought it lawful to forsake the
innocent in his trouble. Should I fear any accusations, as though this
were any new matter? For dost thou think that this is the first time
that Wisdom hath been exposed to danger by wicked men? Have we not in
ancient times before our Plato's age had oftentimes great conflicts with
the rashness of folly? And while he lived, had not his master Socrates
the victory of an unjust death in my presence, whose inheritance, when
afterward the mob of Epicures, Stoics, and others (every one for his own
sect) endeavoured to usurp, and as it were in part of their prey, sought
to draw me to them, exclaiming and striving against them; they tore the
garment which I had woven with my own hands, and having gotten some
little pieces of it, thinking me to be wholly in their possession,
departed. Some of whom, because certain signs of my apparel appeared
upon them, were rashly supposed to be my familiar friends, and condemned
accordingly through the error of the profane multitude.

But if thou hast not heard of the flight of Anaxagoras, the poison of
Socrates, nor the torments of Zeno, because they are foreign examples;
yet thou mayst have heard of Canius, of Seneca, of Soranus,[83] whose
memory is both fresh and famous, whom nothing else brought to their
overthrow but that they had been instructed in our school and were
altogether disliking to the humours of wicked men; wherefore thou hast
no cause to marvel, if in the sea of this life we be tossed with
boisterous storms, whose chiefest purpose is to displease the wicked; of
which though there be an huge army, yet it is to be despised, because it
is not governed by any captain, but is carried up and down by
fantastical error without any order at all. And if at any time they
assail us with great force, our captain retireth her band into a
castle,[84] leaving them occupied in sacking unprofitable baggage. And
from above we laugh them to scorn for seeking so greedily after most
vile things, being safe from all their furious assault, and fortified
with that defence which aspiring folly cannot prevail against.

[83] On Julius Kanius or Canius the Stoic cf. Seneca, _De Tranq._ xiv.
4-9; on Soranus cf. Tac. _Annal._ i. 16.

[84] Cf. _arce religionis nostrae, Tr._ iv. (_supra_, p. 54).

IV.

Quisquis composito serenus aeuo
Fatum sub pedibus egit[85] superbum
Fortunamque tuens utramque rectus
Inuictum potuit tenere uultum,
Non illum rabies minaeque ponti 5
Versum funditus exagitantis aestum
Nec ruptis quotiens uagus caminis
Torquet fumificos Vesaeuus ignes
Aut celsas soliti ferire turres
Ardentis uia fulminis mouebit. 10
Quid tantum miseri saeuos tyrannos
Mirantur sine uiribus furentes?
Nec speres aliquid nec extimescas,
Exarmaueris impotentis iram.
At quisquis trepidus pauet uel optat, 15
Quod non sit stabilis suique iuris,
Abiecit clipeum locoque motus
Nectit qua ualeat trahi catenam.

[85] _Fortasse_ iecit; cf. Verg. _Georg._ ii. 491 _sq._

IV.

Who mildly can his age dispose,
And at his feet proud destiny throws:
Who stoutly doth each chance behold,
Keeping his countenance uncontrolled:
Not him the ocean's rage and threat,
Stirring the waves with angry heat,
Nor hot Vesuvius when he casts
From broken hills enflamed blasts,
Nor fiery thunder can dismay,
Which takes the tops of towers away.
Why do fierce tyrants us affright,
Whose rage is far beyond their might?
For nothing hope, nor fear thou harm,
So their weak wrath thou shalt disarm.
But he whom hope or terror takes,
Being a slave, his shield forsakes,
And leaves his place, and doth provide
A chain wherewith his hands are tied.

IV.

"Sentisne," inquit, "haec atque animo inlabuntur tuo, an [Greek: onos
luras]? Quid fles, quid lacrimis manas?

[Greek: Exauda, mae keuthe nooi.]

Si operam medicantis exspectas, oportet uulnus detegas."

Tum ego collecto in uires animo: "Anne adhuc eget admonitione nec per se
satis eminet fortunae in nos saeuientis asperitas? Nihilne te ipsa loci
facies mouet? Haecine est bibliotheca, quam certissimam tibi sedem nostris
in laribus ipsa delegeras? In qua mecum saepe residens de humanarum
diuinarumque rerum scientia disserebas? Talis habitus talisque uultus erat,
*cum tecum naturae secreta rimarer, cum mihi siderum uias radio
describeres, cum mores nostros totiusque uitae rationem ad caelestis
ordinis exempla formares? Haecine praemia referimus tibi obsequentes? Atqui
tu hanc sententiam Platonis ore sanxisti: beatas fore res publicas, si eas
uel studiosi sapientiae regerent uel earum rectores studere sapientiae
contigisset. Tu eiusdem uiri ore hanc sapientibus capessendae rei publicae
necessariam causam esse monuisti, ne improbis flagitiosisque ciuibus urbium
relicta gubernacula pestem bonis ac perniciem ferrent.

Hanc igitur auctoritatem secutus quod a te inter secreta otia didiceram
transferre in actum publicae administrationis optaui. Tu mihi et qui te
sapientium mentibus inseruit deus conscii nullum me ad magistratum nisi
commune bonorum omnium studium detulisse. Inde cum inprobis graues
inexorabilesque discordiae et quod conscientiae libertas habet, pro tuendo
iure spreta potentiorum semper offensio.

Quotiens ego Conigastum in inbecilli cuiusque fortunas impetum facientem
obuius excepi, quotiens Triguillam regiae praepositum domus ab incepta,
perpetrata iam prorsus iniuria deieci, quotiens miseros quos infinitis
calumniis inpunita barbarorum semper auaritia uexabat, obiecta periculis
auctoritate protexi! Numquam me ab iure ad iniuriam quisquam detraxit.
Prouincialium fortunas tum priuatis rapinis tum publicis uectigalibus
pessumdari non aliter quam qui patiebantur indolui.

Cum acerbae famis tempore grauis atque inexplicabilis indicta coemptio
profligatura inopia Campaniam prouinciam uideretur, certamen aduersum
praefectum praetorii communis commodi ratione suscepi, rege cognoscente
contendi et ne coemptio exigeretur, euici. Paulinum consularem uirum cuius
opes Palatinae canes iam spe atque ambitione deuorassent, ab ipsis hiantium
faucibus traxi. Ne Albinum consularem uirum praeiudicatae accusationis
poena corriperet, odiis me Cypriani delatoris opposui. Satisne in me magnas
uideor exaceruasse discordias? Sed esse apud ceteros tutior debui qui mihi
amore iustitiae nihil apud aulicos quo magis essem tutior reseruaui. Quibus
autem deferentibus perculsi sumus? Quorum Basilius olim regio ministerio
depulsus in delationem nostri nominis alieni aeris necessitate compulsus
est. Opilionem uero atque Gaudentium cum ob innumeras multiplicesque
fraudes ire in exilium regia censura decreuisset cumque illi parere
nolentes sacrarum sese aedium defensione tuerentur compertumque id regi
foret, edixit: uti ni intra praescriptum diem Rauenna urbe decederent,
notas insigniti frontibus pellerentur. Quid huic seueritati posse astrui
uidetur? Atqui in eo die deferentibus eisdem nominis nostri delatio
suscepta est. Quid igitur? Nostraene artes ita meruerunt? An illos
accusatores iustos fecit praemissa damnatio? Itane nihil fortunam puduit si
minus accusatae innocentiae, at accusantium uilitatis?[86] At cuius
criminis arguimur summam quaeris? Senatum dicimur saluum esse uoluisse.
Modum desideras? Delatorem ne documenta deferret quibus senatum maiestatis
reum faceret impedisse criminamur.

Quid igitur o magistra censes? Infitiabimur crimen, ne tibi pudor simus? At
uolui nec umquam uelle desistam. Fatebimur? Sed impediendi delatoris opera
cessauit. An optasse illius ordinis salutem nefas uocabo? Ille quidem suis
de me decretis, uti hoc nefas esset, effecerat. Sed sibi semper mentiens
inprudentia rerum merita non potest inmutare nec mihi Socratico decreto fas
esse arbitror uel occuluisse ueritatem uel concessisse mendacium. Verum id
quoquo modo sit, tuo sapientiumque iudicio aestimandum relinquo. Cuius rei
seriem atque ueritatem, ne latere posteros queat, stilo etiam memoriaeque
mandaui.

Nam de compositis falso litteris quibus libertatem arguor sperasse Romanam
quid attinet dicere? Quarum fraus aperta patuisset, si nobis ipsorum
confessione delatorum, quod in omnibus negotiis maximas uires habet, uti
licuisset. Nam quae sperari reliqua libertas potest? Atque utinam posset
ulla! Respondissem Canii uerbo, qui cum a Gaio Caesare Germanici filio
conscius contra se factae coniurationis fuisse diceretur: 'Si ego,' inquit,
'scissem, tu nescisses.' Qua in re non ita sensus nostros maeror hebetauit
ut impios scelerata contra uirtutem querar molitos, sed quae sperauerint
effecisse uehementer admiror. Nam deteriora uelle nostri fuerit fortasse
defectus, posse contra innocentiam, quae sceleratus quisque conceperit
inspectante deo, monstri simile est. Vnde haud iniuria tuorum quidam
familiarium quaesiuit: 'Si quidem deus,' inquit, 'est, unde mala? Bona uero
unde, si non est?' Sed fas fuerit nefarios homines qui bonorum omnium
totiusque senatus sanguinem petunt, nos etiam quos propugnare bonis
senatuique uiderant, perditum ire uoluisse. Sed num idem de patribus quoque
merebamur? Meministi, ut opinor, quoniam me dicturum quid facturumue
praesens semper ipsa dirigebas, meministi, inquam, Veronae cum rex auidus
exitii communis maiestatis crimen in Albinum delatae ad cunctum senatus
ordinem transferre moliretur, uniuersi innocentiam senatus quanta mei
periculi securitate defenderim. Scis me haec et uera proferre et in nulla
umquam mei laude iactasse. Minuit enim quodam modo se probantis
conscientiae secretum, quotiens ostentando quis factum recipit famae
pretium. Sed innocentiam nostram quis exceperit euentus uides; pro uerae
uirtutis praemiis falsi sceleris poenas subimus. Et cuius umquam facinoris
manifesta confessio ita iudices habuit in seueritate concordes ut non
aliquos uel ipse ingenii error humani uel fortunae condicio cunctis
mortalibus incerta submitteret? Si inflammare sacras aedes uoluisse, si
sacerdotes impio iugulare gladio, si bonis omnibus necem struxisse
diceremur, praesentem tamen sententia, confessum tamen conuictumue
punisset. Nunc quingentis fere passuum milibus procul muti atque indefensi
ob studium propensius in senatum morti proscriptionique damnamur. O meritos
de simili crimine neminem posse conuinci!

Cuius dignitatem reatus ipsi etiam qui detulere uiderunt, quam uti alicuius
sceleris admixtione fuscarent, ob ambitum dignitatis sacrilegio me
conscientiam polluisse mentiti sunt. Atqui et tu insita nobis omnem rerum
mortalium cupidinem de nostri animi sede pellebas et sub tuis oculis
sacrilegio locum esse fas non erat. Instillabas enim auribus
cogitationibusque cotidie meis Pythagoricum illud [Greek: hepou theoi].[87]
Nec conueniebat uilissimorum me spirituum praesidia captare quem tu in hanc
excellentiam componebas ut consimilem deo faceres. Praeterea penetral
innocens domus, honestissimorum coetus amicorum, socer etiam sanctus et
aeque ac tu ipsa[88] reuerendus ab omni nos huius criminis suspitione
defendunt. Sed, o nefas, illi uero de te tanti criminis fidem capiunt atque
hoc ipso uidebimur affines fuisse maleficio, quod tuis inbuti disciplinis,
tuis instituti moribus sumus. Ita non est satis nihil mihi tuam profuisse
reuerentiam, nisi ultro tu mea potius offensione lacereris. At uero hic
etiam nostris malis cumulus accedit, quod existimatio plurimorum non rerum
merita sed fortunae spectat euentum eaque tantum iudicat esse prouisa quae
felicitas commendauerit. Quo fit ut existimatio bona prima omnium deserat
infelices. Qui nunc populi rumores, quam dissonae multiplicesque
sententiae, piget reminisci. Hoc tantum dixerim ultimam esse aduersae
fortunae sarcinam, quod dum miseris aliquod crimen affingitur, quae
perferunt meruisse creduntur. Et ego quidem bonis omnibus pulsus,
dignitatibus exutus, existimatione foedatus ob beneficium supplicium tuli.

Videre autem uideor nefarias sceleratorum officinas gaudio laetitiaque
fluitantes, perditissimum quemque nouis delationum fraudibus imminentem,
iacere bonos nostri discriminis terrore prostratos, flagitiosum quemque ad
audendum quidem facinus impunitate, ad efficiendum uero praemiis incitari,
insontes autem non modo securitate, uerum ipsa etiam defensione priuatos.
Itaque libet exclamare:

[86] uilitatis _Glareanus_; uilitas _codd._

[87] [Greek: theon] _codd._

[88] ipsa _Sitzmannus_; ipso _codd._

IV.

"Understandest thou these things," saith she, "and do they make
impression in thy mind? Art thou 'like the ass, deaf to the lyre'? Why
weepest thou? Why sheddest thou so many tears? Speak out; hide not thy
thoughts.[89] If thou expectest to be cured, thou must discover thy
wound.[90]"

Then I, collecting the forces of my mind together, made her answer in
these words: "Doth the cruelty of fortune's rage need further
declaration, or doth it not sufficiently appear of itself? Doth not the
very countenance of this place move thee? Is this the library which thou
thyself hadst chosen to sit in at my house, in which thou hast
oftentimes discoursed with me of the knowledge of divine and human
things? Had I this attire or countenance when I searched the secrets of
nature with thee, when thou describedst unto me the course of the stars
with thy geometrical rod, when thou didst frame my conversation and the
manner of my whole life according to the pattern of the celestial order?
Are these the rewards which thy obedient servants have? But thou didst
decree that sentence by the mouth of Plato: That commonwealths should be
happy, if either the students of wisdom did govern them, or those which
were appointed to govern them would give themselves to the study of
wisdom.[91] Thou by the same philosopher didst admonish us that it is a
sufficient cause for wise men to take upon themselves the government of
the commonwealth, lest, if the rule of cities were left in the hands of
lewd and wicked citizens, they should work the subversion and overthrow
of the good.

Wherefore, following this authority, I desired to practise that by
public administration which I had learnt of thee in private conference.
Thou and God Himself who had inserted thee in the minds of the wise, are
my witnesses that nothing but the common desire of all good men brought
me to be a magistrate. This hath been the cause of my grievous and
irreconcilable disagreements with wicked men, and that which freedom of
conscience carrieth with it, of ever contemning the indignation of
potentates for the defence of justice.

How often have I encountered with Conigastus, violently possessing
himself with poor men's goods? How often have I put back Triguilla,
Provost of the King's house, from injuries which he had begun, yea, and
finished also? How often have I protected, by putting my authority in
danger, such poor wretches as the unpunished covetousness of the
barbarous did vex with infinite reproaches? Never did any man draw me
from right to wrong. It grieved me no less than them which suffered it,
to see the wealth of our subjects wasted, partly by private pillage, and
partly by public tributes.

When in the time of a great dearth things were set at so excessive and
unreasonable a rate that the province of Campania was like to be
altogether impoverished, for the common good I stuck not to contend with
the chief Praetor himself, and the matter was discussed before the King,
and I prevailed so far that it went not forward. I drew Paulinus, who
had been Consul, out of the very mouth of the gaping courtiers, who like
ravenous curs had already in hope and ambition devoured his riches. That
Albinus who had likewise been Consul might not be punished upon
presumptuous[92] and false accusation, I exposed myself to the hatred of
Cyprian his accuser. May I seem to have provoked enmity enough against
myself? But others should so much the more have procured my safety,
since that for the love I bear to justice I left myself no way by the
means of courtiers to be safe. But by whose accusations did I receive
this blow? By theirs who, long since having put Basil out of the King's
service, compelled him now to accuse me, by the necessity which he was
driven to by debt. Opilio likewise and Gaudentius being banished by the
King's decree, for the injuries and manifold deceits which they had
committed, because they would not obey, defended themselves by taking
sanctuary, of which the King hearing, gave sentence, that unless they
departed out of the city of Ravenna within certain days, they should be
branded in the foreheads, and put out by force. What could be added to
this severity? And yet that very day their accusations against me went
for current. What might be the reason of this? Did my dealing deserve
it? Or did the condemnation, which went before, make them just accusers?
Was not fortune ashamed, if not that innocency was accused, yet at least
that it had so vile and base accusers? But what crime was laid to my
charge? Wilt thou have it in one word? I am said to have desired the
Senate's safety. Wilt thou know the manner how? I am blamed for having
hindered their accuser to bring forth evidence by which he should prove
the Senate guilty of treason.

What thinkest thou, O Mistress? Shall I deny this charge, that I may not
shame thee? But it is true, I desired it, neither will I ever cease from
having that desire. Shall I confess it? But I have already left
hindering their accuser. Shall I call it an offence to have wished the
safety of that order? Indeed the Senate with their decrees concerning me
had made it an offence. But folly, always deceiving herself, cannot
change the deserts of things, nor, according to the decree of
Socrates,[93] do I think it is lawful either to conceal the truth or
grant a lie. But how this may be, I leave to thine and Wisdom's censure.
And that posterity may not be ignorant of the course and truth of the
matter, I have put it down in writing.

For why should I speak of those feigned letters, in which I am charged
to have hoped for Roman liberty? The deceit of which would manifestly
have appeared, if it might have been lawful for me to have used the
confession of my very accusers, which in all business is of greatest
force. For what liberty remaineth there to be hoped for? I would to God
there were any! I would have answered as Canius did, who being charged
by Gaius Caesar, son to Germanicus, that he was privy to the conspiracy
made against him, answered: 'If I had been made acquainted with it, thou
shouldest never have known of it.'[94] Neither hath sorrow so dulled my
wits in this matter that I complain of the wicked endeavours of sinful
men against virtue, but I exceedingly marvel to see that they have
brought to pass the things they hoped to do. For the desire of doing
evil may be attributed to our weakness, but that in the sight of God the
wicked should be able to compass whatsoever they contrive against the
innocent, is altogether monstrous. Whence not without cause one of thy
familiar friends[95] demanded: 'If,' saith he, 'there be a God, from
whence proceed so many evils? And if there be no God, from whence cometh
any good?' But let that pass that wicked men, which seek the blood of
all good men, and of the whole Senate, would also have overthrown me,
whom they saw to stand in defence of good men and of the Senate. But did
I deserve the same of the Senators themselves? I suppose thou
rememberest how thou being present didst alway direct me when I went
about to say or do anything. Thou rememberest, I say, when at Verona the
King, being desirous of a common overthrow, endeavoured to lay the
treason, whereof only Albinus was accused, upon the whole order of the
Senate, with how great security of my own danger I defended the
innocency of the whole Senate. Thou knowest that these things which I
say are true, and that I was never delighted in my own praise, for the
secret of a good conscience is in some sort diminished when by declaring
what he hath done a man receiveth the reward of fame. But thou seest to
what pass my innocency is come; instead of the rewards of true virtue, I
undergo the punishment of wickedness, wherewith I am falsely charged.
Was it ever yet seen that the manifest confession of any crime made the
judges so at one in severity, that either the error of man's judgment or
the condition of fortune, which is certain to none, did not incline some
of them to favour? If I had been accused that I would have burnt the
churches, or wickedly have killed the priests, or have sought the death
of all good men, yet sentence should have been pronounced against me
present, having confessed, and being convicted. Now being conveyed five
hundred miles off, dumb and defenceless, I am condemned to death and
proscription for bearing the Senate too much good will. O Senate, which
deserves that never any may be convicted of the like crime!

The dignity of which accusation even the very accusers themselves saw,
which that they might obscure by adding some sort of fault, they belied
me that I defiled my conscience with sacrilege, for an ambitious desire
of preferment. But thou, which hadst seated thyself in me, didst repel
from the seat of my mind all desire of mortal things, and within thy
sight there was no place for sacrilege to harbour; for thou didst instil
into my ears and thoughts daily that saying of Pythagoras, 'Follow
God.'[96] Neither was it fitting for me to use the aid of most vile
spirits when thou wast shaping me into that excellency to make me like
to God. Besides the innocency which appeared in the most retired rooms
of my house, the assembly of my most honourable friends, my holy father-
in-law Symmachus, who is as worthy of reverence as thou thyself art, do
clear me from all suspicion of this crime. But O detestable wickedness!
they the rather credit thee with so great a crime, and think me the
nigher to such mischievous dealing, because I am endued with thy
knowledge, and adorned with thy virtues, so that it is not enough that I
reap no commodity for thy respect, unless thou beest also dishonoured
for the hatred conceived against me. And that my miseries may increase
the more, the greatest part do not so much respect the value of things
as the event of fortune, and they esteem only that to be providently
done which the happy success commends. By which means it cometh to pass
that the first loss which miserable men have is their estimation and the
good opinion which was had of them. What rumours go now among the
people, what dissonant and diverse opinions! I cannot abide to think of
them; only this will I say, the last burden of adversity is that when
they which are in misery are accused of any crime, they are thought to
deserve whatsoever they suffer. And I, spoiled of all my goods, bereaved
of my dignities, blemished in my good name, for benefits receive
punishments.

And methinks I see the cursed crews of the wicked abounding with joy and
gladness, and every lost companion devising with himself how to accuse
others falsely, good men lie prostrate with the terror of my danger, and
every lewd fellow is provoked by impunity to attempt any wickedness, and
by rewards to bring it to effect; but the innocent are not only deprived
of all security, but also of any manner of defence. Wherefore I may well
exclaim:

[89] Homer, _Il._ i. 363.

[90] Cf. _Tr._ v. (_supra_, p. 76), _quasi non deterior fiat
inscientiae causa dum tegitur._

[91] Plato, _Rep._ v. 473.

[92] Presumptuous=founded on presumption.

[93] Cp. Plato, _Rep._ vi. 485; the [Greek: philosophos] cannot be
[Greek: philopseudaes.]

[94] _Vide supra_, p. 69. This seems to be the only record of Canius's
retort to Caligula.

[95] i.e. Epicurus, cp. Lact. _De Ira Dei_ xiii.

[96] Cf. [Greek: ho bios apas suntetaktai pros to akolouthein toi
Theoi], Iambl. _De Vita Pyth._ xviii., and Seneca, _De Vita Beata_ xv.

V.

O stelliferi conditor orbis
Qui perpetuo nixus solio
Rapido caelum turbine uersas
Legemque pati sidera cogis,
Vt nunc pleno lucida cornu 5
Totis fratris obuia flammis
Condat stellas luna minores,
Nunc obscuro pallida cornu
Phoebo propior lumina perdat,
Et qui primae tempore noctis 10
Agit algentes Hesperos ortus,
Solitas iterum mutet habenas
Phoebi pallens Lucifer ortu.
Tu frondifluae frigore brumae
Stringis lucem breuiore mora: 15
Tu, cum feruida uenerit aestas,
Agiles nocti diuidis horas.
Tua uis uarium temperat annum
Vt quas Boreae spiritus aufert
Reuehat mites Zephyrus frondes 20
Quaeque Arcturus semina uidit
Sirius altas urat segetes.
Nihil antiqua lege solutum
Linquit propriae stationis opus.
Omnia certo fine gubernans 25
Hominum solos respuis actus
Merito rector cohibere modo.
Nam cur tantas lubrica uersat
Fortuna uices? Premit insontes
Debita sceleri noxia poena, 30
At peruersi resident celso
Mores solio sanctaque calcant
Iniusta uice colla nocentes.
Latet obscuris condita uirtus
Clara tenebris iustusque tulit 35
Crimen iniqui.
Nil periuria, nil nocet ipsis
Fraus mendaci compta colore.
Sed cum libuit uiribus uti,
Quos innumeri metuunt populi 40
Summos gaudent subdere reges.
O iam miseras respice terras
Quisquis rerum foedera nectis.
Operis tanti pars non uilis
Homines quatimur fortunae salo. 45
Rapidos rector comprime fluctus
Et quo caelum regis immensum
Firma stabiles foedere terras."

V.

Creator of the Sky,
Who sittest on Thine eternal throne on high,
Who dost quick motions cause
In all the heavens, and givest stars their laws,
That the pale Queen of Night,
Sometimes receiving all her brother's light,
Should shine in her full pride,
And with her beams the lesser stars should hide;
Sometimes she wants her grace,
When the sun's rays are in less distant place;
And Hesperus that flies,
Driving the cold, before the night doth rise,
And oft with sudden change
Before the sun as Lucifer doth range.[97]
Thou short the days dost make,
When Winter from the trees the leaves doth take;
Thou, when the fiery sun
Doth Summer cause, makest the nights swiftly run.
Thy might doth rule the year,
As northern winds the leaves away do bear,
So Zephyrus from west
The plants in all their freshness doth revest;
And Syrius burns that corn
With which Arcturus did the earth adorn.
None from Thy laws are free,
Nor can forsake their place ordained by Thee.
Thou to that certain end
Governest all things; deniest Thou to intend
The acts of men alone,
Directing them in measure from Thy throne?
For why should slippery chance
Rule all things with such doubtful governance?
Or why should punishments,
Due to the guilty, light on innocents?
But now the highest place
Giveth to naughty manners greatest grace,
And wicked people vex
Good men, and tread unjustly on their necks;
Virtue in darkness lurks,
And righteous souls are charged with impious works,
Deceits nor perjuries
Disgrace not those who colour them with lies,
For, when it doth them please
To show their force, they to their will with ease
The hearts of kings can steer,
To whom so many crouch with trembling fear.
O Thou that joinest with love
All worldly things, look from Thy seat above
On the earth's wretched state;
We men, not the least work thou didst create,
With fortune's blasts do shake;
Thou careful ruler, these fierce tempests slake,
And for the earth provide
Those laws by which Thou heaven in peace dost guide."

[97] Literally, "And that he who as Hesperus, in the early hours of the
night, drives the cold stars before him, should change chariot (lit. his
accustomed reins) and become Lucifer, growing pale in the first rays of
the sun."

V.

Haec ubi continuato dolore delatraui, illa uultu placido nihilque meis
questibus mota: "Cum te," inquit, "maestum lacrimantemque uidissem, ilico
miserum exsulemque cognoui. Sed quam id longinquum esset exilium, nisi tua
prodidisset oratio, nesciebam. Sed tu quam procul a patria non quidem
pulsus es sed aberrasti; ac si te pulsum existimari mauis, te potius ipse
pepulisti. Nam id quidem de te numquam cuiquam fas fuisset. Si enim cuius
oriundo sis patriae reminiscare, non uti Atheniensium quondam multitudinis
imperio regitur, sed

[Greek: heis koiranos estin, heis basileus]

qui frequentia ciuium non depulsione laetetur; cuius agi frenis atque
obtemperare iustitiae summa libertas est. An ignoras illam tuae ciuitatis
antiquissimam legem, qua sanctum est ei ius exulare non esse quisquis in ea
sedem fundare maluerit? Nam qui uallo eius ac munimine continetur, nullus
metus est ne exul esse mereatur. At quisquis eam inhabitare uelle desierit,
pariter desinit etiam mereri. Itaque non tam me loci huius quam tua facies
mouet nec bibliothecae potius comptos ebore ac uitro parietes quam tuae
mentis sedem requiro, in qua non libros sed id quod libris pretium facit,
librorum quondam meorum sententias, collocaui. Et tu quidem de tuis in
commune bonum meritis uera quidem, sed pro multitudine gestorum tibi pauca
dixisti. De obiectorum tibi uel honestate uel falsitate cunctis nota
memorasti. De sceleribus fraudibusque delatorum recte tu quidem strictim
attingendum putasti, quod ea melius uberiusque recognoscentis omnia uulgi
ore celebrentur. Increpuisti etiam uehementer iniusti factum senatus. De
nostra etiam criminatione doluisti, laesae quoque opinionis damna fleuisti.
Postremus aduersum fortunam dolor incanduit conquestusque non aequa meritis
praemia pensari. In extremo Musae saeuientis, uti quae caelum terras quoque
pax regeret, uota posuisti. Sed quoniam plurimus tibi affectuum tumultus
incubuit diuersumque te dolor, ira, maeror distrahunt, uti nunc mentis es,
nondum te ualidiora remedia contingunt. Itaque lenioribus paulisper utemur,
ut quae in tumorem perturbationibus influentibus induruerunt, ad acrioris
uim medicaminis recipiendum tactu blandiore mollescant.

V.

When I had uttered these speeches with continued grief, she, with an
amiable countenance and nothing moved with my complaints, said: "When I
first saw thee sad and weeping, I forthwith knew thee to be in misery
and banishment. But I had not known how far off thou wert banished, if
thy speech had not bewrayed it. O how far art thou gone from thy
country, not being driven away, but wandering of thine own accord! Or if
thou hadst rather be thought to have been driven out, it hath been only
by thyself; for never could any other but thyself have done it; for if
thou rememberest of what country thou art, it is not governed as Athens
was wont to be, by the multitude, but 'one is its ruler, one its
king,'[98] who desires to have abundance of citizens, and not to have
them driven away. To be governed by whose authority, and to be subject
to her laws, is the greatest freedom that can be. Art thou ignorant of
that most ancient law of thy city, by which it is decreed that he may
not be banished that hath made choice of it for his dwelling-place;[99]
for he that is within her fort or hold need not fear lest he deserve to
be banished? But whosoever ceaseth to desire to dwell in it, ceaseth
likewise to deserve so great a benefit. Wherefore the countenance of
this place moveth me not so much as thy countenance doth. Neither do I
much require thy library adorned with ivory adornments, and its crystal
walls, as the seat of thy mind, in which I have not placed books, but
that which makes books to be esteemed of, I mean the sentences of my
books, which were written long since. And that which thou hast said of
thy deserts to the common good, is true indeed, but little in respect of
the many things which thou hast done. That which thou hast reported,
either of the honesty or of the falseness of those things which are
objected against thee, is known to all men. Thou didst well to touch but
briefly the wickedness and deceit of thy accusers, for that the common
people to whose notice they are come do more fitly and largely speak of
them. Thou hast also sharply rebuked the unjust Senate's deed. Thou hast
also grieved at our accusation, and hast bewailed the loss or
diminishing of our good name; and lastly, thy sorrow raged against
fortune, and thou complainedst that deserts were not equally rewarded.
In the end of thy bitter verse, thou desiredst that the earth might be
governed by that peace which heaven enjoyeth. But because thou art
turmoiled with the multitude of affections, grief and anger drawing thee
to divers parts, in the plight thou art now, the more forcible remedies
cannot be applied unto thee; wherefore, for a while, we will use the
more easy, that thy affections, which are, as it were, hardened and
swollen with perturbations, may by gentle handling be mollified and
disposed to receive the force of sharper medicines.

[98] Hom. _Il._ ii. 204.

[99] Cf. Cicero, _Pro domo sua_. 29. 77.

VI.

Cum Phoebi radiis graue
Cancri sidus inaestuat,
Tum qui larga negantibus
Sulcis semina credidit,
Elusus Cereris fide 5
Quernas pergat ad arbores.
Numquam purpureum nemus
Lecturus uiolas petas
Cum saeuis aquilonibus
Stridens campus inhorruit, 10
Nec quaeras auida manu
Vernos stringere palmites,
Vuis si libeat frui;
Autumno potius sua
Bacchus munera contulit. 15
Signat tempora propriis
Aptans officiis deus
Nec quas ipse coercuit
Misceri patitur uices.
Sic quod praecipiti uia 20
Certum deserit ordinem
Laetos non habet exitus.

VI.

When hot with Phoebus' beams
The Crab casts fiery gleams,
He that doth then with seed
Th'unwilling furrows feed,
Deceived of his bread
Must be with acorns fed.
Seek not the flowery woods
For violets' sweet buds,
When fields are overcast
With the fierce northern blast,
Nor hope thou home to bring
Vine-clusters in the Spring
If thou in grapes delight:
In autumn Bacchus' might
With them doth deck our clime.
God every several time
With proper grace hath crowned
Nor will those laws confound
Which He once settled hath.
He that with headlong path
This certain order leaves,
An hapless end receives.

VI.

Primum igitur paterisne me pauculis rogationibus statum tuae mentis
attingere atque temptare, ut qui modus sit tuae curationis intellegam?" "Tu
uero arbitratu," inquam, "tuo quae uoles ut responsurum rogato." Tum illa:
"Huncine," inquit, "mundum temerariis agi fortuitisque casibus putas, an
ullum credis ei regimen inesse rationis?" "Atqui," inquam, "nullo
existimauerim modo ut fortuita temeritate tam certa moueantur, uerum operi
suo conditorem praesidere deum scio nec umquam fuerit dies qui me ab hac
sententiae ueritate depellat."

"Ita est," inquit. "Nam id etiam paulo ante cecinisti, hominesque tantum
diuinae exortes curae esse deplorasti. Nam de ceteris quin ratione
regerentur, nihil mouebare. Papae autem! Vehementer admiror cur in tam
salubri sententia locatus aegrotes. Verum altius perscrutemur; nescio quid
abesse coniecto.

"Sed dic mihi, quoniam deo mundum regi non ambigis, quibus etiam
gubernaculis regatur aduertis?" "Vix," inquam, "rogationis tuae sententiam
nosco, nedum ad inquisita respondere queam." "Num me," inquit, "fefellit
abesse aliquid, per quod, uelut hiante ualli robore, in animum tuum
perturbationum morbus inrepserit? Sed dic mihi, meministine, quis sit rerum
finis, quoue totius naturae tendat intentio?" "Audieram," inquam, "sed
memoriam maeror hebetauit." "Atqui scis unde cuncta processerint?" "Noui,"
inquam, deumque esse respondi. "Et qui fieri potest, ut principio cognito
quis sit rerum finis ignores? Verum hi perturbationum mores, ea ualentia
est, ut mouere quidem loco hominem possint, conuellere autem sibique totum
exstirpare non possint.

Sed hoc quoque respondeas uelim, hominemne te esse meministi?" "Quidni,"
inquam, "meminerim?" "Quid igitur homo sit, poterisne proferre?" "Hocine
interrogas an esse me sciam rationale animal atque mortale? Scio et id me
esse confiteor." Et illa: "Nihilne aliud te esse nouisti?" "Nihil."

"Iam scio," inquit, "morbi tui aliam uel maximam causam; quid ipse sis,
nosse desisti. Quare plenissime uel aegritudinis tuae rationem uel aditum
reconciliandae sospitatis inueni. Nam quoniam tui obliuione confunderis, et
exsulem te et exspoliatum propriis bonis esse doluisti. Quoniam uero quis
sit rerum finis ignoras, nequam homines atque nefarios potentes felicesque
arbitraris. Quoniam uero quibus gubernaculis mundus regatur oblitus es, has
fortunarum uices aestimas sine rectore fluitare--magnae non ad morbum modo
uerum ad interitum quoque causae. Sed sospitatis auctori grates, quod te
nondum totum natura destituit. Habemus maximum tuae fomitem salutis ueram
de mundi gubernatione sententiam, quod eam non casuum temeritati sed
diuinae rationi subditam credis. Nihil igitur pertimescas; iam tibi ex hac
minima scintillula uitalis calor inluxerit. Sed quoniam firmioribus
remediis nondum tempus est et eam mentium constat esse naturam, ut quotiens
abiecerint ueras falsis opinionibus induantur ex quibus orta perturbationum
caligo uerum illum confundit intuitum, hanc paulisper lenibus
mediocribusque fomentis attenuare temptabo, ut dimotis fallacium
affectionum tenebris splendorem uerae lucis possis agnoscere.

VI.

First, therefore, wilt thou let me touch and try the state of thy mind
by asking thee a few questions, that I may understand how thou art to be
cured?" To which I answered: "Ask me what questions thou wilt, and I
will answer thee." And then she said: "Thinkest thou that this world is
governed by haphazard and chance? Or rather dost thou believe that it is
ruled by reason?" "I can," quoth I, "in no manner imagine that such
certain motions are caused by rash chance. And I know that God the
Creator doth govern His work, nor shall the day ever come to draw me
from the truth of that judgment."

"It is so," saith she, "for so thou saidst in thy verse a little before,
and bewailedst that only men were void of God's care; for as for the
rest, thou didst not doubt but that they were governed by reason. And
surely I cannot choose but exceedingly admire how thou canst be ill
affected, holding so wholesome an opinion. But let us search further; I
guess thou wantest something, but I know not what.

Tell me, since thou doubtest not that the world is governed by God,
canst thou tell me also by what means it is governed?" "I do scarcely,"
quoth I, "understand what thou askest, and much less am I able to make
thee a sufficient answer." "Was I," quoth she, "deceived in thinking
that thou wantedst something by which, as by the breach of a fortress,
the sickness of perturbations hath entered into thy mind? But tell me,
dost thou remember what is the end of things? Or to what the whole
intention of nature tendeth?" "I have heard it," quoth I, "but grief
hath dulled my memory." "But knowest thou from whence all things had
their beginning?" "I know," quoth I, and answered, that from God. "And
how can it be that, knowing the beginning, thou canst be ignorant of the
end? But this is the condition and force of perturbations, that they may
alter a man, but wholly destroy, and as it were root him out of himself,
they cannot.

But I would have thee answer me to this also; dost thou remember that
thou art a man?" "Why should I not remember it?" quoth I. "Well then,
canst thou explicate what man is?" "Dost thou ask me if I know that I am
a reasonable and mortal living creature? I know and confess myself to be
so." To which she replied: "Dost thou not know thyself to be anything
else?" "Not anything."

"Now I know," quoth she, "another, and that perhaps the greatest, cause
of thy sickness: thou hast forgotten what thou art. Wherefore I have
fully found out both the manner of thy disease and the means of thy
recovery; for the confusion which thou art in, by the forgetfulness of
thyself, is the cause why thou art so much grieved at thy exile and the
loss of thy goods. And because thou art ignorant what is the end of
things, thou thinkest that lewd and wicked men be powerful and happy;
likewise, because thou hast forgotten by what means the world is
governed, thou imaginest that these alternations of fortune do fall out
without any guide, sufficient causes not only of sickness, but also of
death itself. But thanks be to the author of thy health, that Nature
hath not altogether forsaken thee. We have the greatest nourisher of thy
health, the true opinion of the government of the world, in that thou
believest that it is not subject to the events of chance, but to divine
reason. Wherefore fear nothing; out of this little sparkle will be
enkindled thy vital heat. But because it is not yet time to use more
solid remedies, and it is manifest that the nature of minds is such that
as often as they cast away true opinions they are possessed with false,
out of which the darkness of perturbations arising doth make them that
they cannot discern things aright, I will endeavour to dissolve this
cloud with gentle and moderate fomentations; that having removed the
obscurity of deceitful affections, thou mayest behold the splendour of
true light.

VII.

Nubibus atris
Condita nullum
Fundere possunt
Sidera lumen.
Si mare uoluens 5
Turbidus Auster
Misceat aestum,
Vitrea dudum
Parque serenis
Vnda diebus 10
Mox resoluto
Sordida caeno
Visibus obstat.
Quique uagatur
Montibus altis 15
Defluus amnis,
Saepe resistit
Rupe soluti
Obice saxi.
Tu quoque si uis 20
Lumine claro
Cernere uerum,
Tramite recto
Carpere callem,
Gaudia pelle, 25
Pelle timorem
Spemque fugato
Nec dolor adsit.
Nubila mens est
Vinctaque frenis, 30
Haec ubi regnant."

VII.

When stars are shrouded
With dusky night,
They yield no light
Being so clouded.
When the wind moveth
And churneth the sea,
The flood, clear as day,
Foul and dark proveth.
And rivers creeping
Down a high hill
Stand often still,
Rocks them back keeping.
If thou wouldst brightly
See Truth's clear rays,
Or walk those ways
Which lead most rightly,
All joy forsaking
Fear must thou fly,
And hopes defy,
No sorrow taking.
For where these terrors
Reign in the mind,
They it do bind
In cloudy errors."

ANICII MANLII SEVERINI BOETHII

V.C. ET INL. EXCONS. ORD. PATRICII

PHILOSOPHIAE CONSOLATIONIS

LIBER PRIMVS EXPLICIT

INCIPIT LIBER II

I.

Post haec paulisper obticuit atque ubi attentionem meam modesta
taciturnitate collegit, sic exorsa est: "Si penitus aegritudinis tuae
causas habitumque cognovi, fortunae prioris affectu desiderioque tabescis.
Ea tantum animi tui sicuti tu tibi fingis mutata peruertit. Intellego
multiformes illius prodigii fucos et eo usque cum his quos eludere nititur
blandissimam familiaritatem, dum intolerabili dolore confundat quos
insperata reliquerit. Cuius si naturam mores ac meritum reminiscare, nec
habuisse te in ea pulchrum aliquid nec amisisse cognosces, sed ut arbitror
haud multum tibi haec in memoriam reuocare laborauerim. Solebas enim
praesentem quoque blandientemque uirilibus incessere uerbis eamque de
nostro adyto prolatis insectabare sententiis. Verum omnis subita mutatio
rerum non sine quodam quasi fluctu contingit animorum; sic factum est ut tu
quoque paulisper a tua tranquillitate descisceres. Sed tempus est haurire
te aliquid ac degustare molle atque iucundum quod ad interiora transmissum
ualidioribus haustibus uiam fecerit. Adsit igitur Rhetoricae suadela
dulcedinis quae tum tantum recto calle procedit, cum nostra instituta non
deserit cumque hac Musica laris nostri uernacula nunc leuiores nunc
grauiores modos succinat.

Quid est igitur o homo quod te in maestitiam luctumque deiecit? Nouum,
credo, aliquid inusitatumque uidisti. Tu fortunam putas erga te esse
mutatam; erras. Hi semper eius mores sunt ista natura. Seruauit circa te
propriam potius in ipsa sui mutabilitate constantiam. Talis erat cum
blandiebatur, cum tibi falsae inlecebris felicitatis alluderet.
Deprehendisti caeci numinis ambiguos uultus. Quae sese adhuc uelat aliis,
tota tibi prorsus innotuit. Si probas, utere moribus; ne queraris. Si
perfidiam perhorrescis, sperne atque abice perniciosa ludentem. Nam quae
nunc tibi est tanti causa maeroris, haec eadem tranquillitatis esse
debuisset, Reliquit enim te quam non relicturam nemo umquam poterit esse
securus. An uero tu pretiosam aestimas abituram felicitatem? Et cara tibi
est fortuna praesens nec manendi fida et cum discesserit adlatura maerorem.
Quod si nec ex arbitrio retineri potest et calamitosos fugiens facit, quid
est aliud fugax quam futurae quoddam calamitatis indicium? Neque enim quod
ante oculos situm est, suffecerit intueri; rerum exitus prudentia metitur
eademque in alterutro mutabilitas nec formidandas fortunae minas nec
exoptandas facit esse blanditias. Postremo aequo animo toleres oportet
quidquid intra fortunae aream geritur, cum semel iugo eius colla
submiseris. Quod si manendi abeundique scribere legem uelis ei quam tu tibi
dominam sponte legisti, nonne iniurius fueris et inpatientia sortem
exacerbes quam permutare non possis? Si uentis uela committeres, non quo
uoluntas peteret sed quo flatus impellerent, promoueres; si aruis semina
crederes, feraces inter se annos sterilesque pensares. Fortunae te regendum
dedisti; dominae moribus oportet obtemperes. Tu uero uoluentis rotae
impetum retinere conaris? At, omnium mortalium stolidissime, si manere
incipit, fors esse desistit.

THE SECOND BOOK OF BOETHIUS

I.

After this she remained silent for a while; and, having by that her
modesty made me attentive, began in this wise: "If I be rightly informed
of the causes and condition of thy disease, thou languishest with the
affection of thy former fortune, and the change of that alone, as thou
imaginest, hath overthrown so much of thy mind. I know the manifold
illusions of that monster, exercising most alluring familiarity with
them whom she meaneth to deceive, to the end she may confound them with
intolerable grief, by forsaking them upon the sudden, whose nature,
customs, and desert, if thou rememberest, thou shalt know that thou
neither didst possess nor hast lost anything of estimation in it; and,
as I hope, I shall not need to labour much to bring these things to thy
remembrance, for thou wert wont, when she was present, and flattered
thee most, to assail her with manful words, and pursue her with
sentences taken forth of our most hidden knowledge. But every sudden
change of things happeneth not without a certain wavering and
disquietness of mind. And this is the cause that thou also for a while
hast lost thy former tranquillity and peace. But it is time for thee to
take and taste some gentle and pleasant thing which being received may
prepare thee for stronger potions. Wherefore let us use the sweetness of
Rhetoric's persuasions, which then only is well employed when it
forsaketh not our ordinances; and with this, let Music, a little slave
belonging to our house, chant sometime lighter and sometime sadder
notes.

Wherefore, O man, what is it that hath cast thee into sorrow and grief?
Thou hast, methinks, seen something new and unwonted. If thou thinkest
that fortune hath altered her manner of proceeding toward thee, thou art
in an error. This was alway her fashion; this is her nature. She hath
kept that constancy in thy affairs which is proper to her, in being
mutable; such was her condition when she fawned upon thee and allured
thee with enticements of feigned happiness. Thou hast discovered the
doubtful looks of this blind goddess. She, which concealeth herself from
others, is wholly known to thee. If thou likest her, frame thyself to
her conditions, and make no complaint. If thou detestest her treachery,
despise and cast her off, with her pernicious flattery. For that which
hath caused thee so much sorrow should have brought thee to great
tranquillity. For she hath forsaken thee, of whom no man can be secure.
Dost thou esteem that happiness precious which thou art to lose? And is
the present fortune dear unto thee, of whose stay thou art not sure, and
whose departure will breed thy grief? And if she can neither be kept at
our will, and maketh them miserable whom she at last leaveth, what else
is fickle fortune but a token of future calamity? For it is not
sufficient to behold that which we have before our eyes; wisdom
pondereth the event of things, and this mutability on both sides maketh
the threats of fortune not to be feared, nor her flatterings to be
desired. Finally, thou must take in good part whatsoever happeneth unto
thee within the reach of fortune, when once thou hast submitted thy neck
to her yoke. And if to her whom, of thine own accord, thou hast chosen
for thy mistress, thou wouldest prescribe a law how long she were to
stay, and when to depart, shouldst thou not do her mighty wrong, and
with thy impatience make thy estate more intolerable, which thou canst
not better? If thou settest up thy sails to the wind, thou shalt be
carried not whither thy will desirest, but whither the gale driveth. If
thou sowest thy seed, thou considerest that there are as well barren as
fertile years. Thou hast yielded thyself to fortune's sway; thou must be
content with the conditions of thy mistress. Endeavourest thou to stay
the force of the turning wheel? But thou foolishest man that ever was,
if it beginneth to stay, it ceaseth to be fortune.

I.

Haec cum superba uerterit uices dextra
Et aestuantis more fertur Euripi,
Dudum tremendos saeua proterit reges
Humilemque uicti subleuat fallax uultum.
Non illa miseros audit aut curat fletus 5
Vltroque gemitus dura quos fecit ridet.
Sic illa ludit, sic suas probat uires
Magnumque suis demonstrat [100] ostentum, si quis
Visatur una stratus ac felix hora.

[100] monstrat _codd_.

I

The pride of fickle fortune spareth none,
And, like the floods of swift Euripus borne, [101]
Oft casteth mighty princes from their throne,
And oft the abject captive doth adorn.
She cares not for the wretch's tears and moan,
And the sad groans, which she hath caused, doth scorn.
Thus doth she play, to make her power more known,
Showing her slaves a marvel, when man's state
Is in one hour both downcast and fortunate.

[101] Literally, "When fortune with proud right hand plies her changes
and ebbs and flows like foaming Euripus." Euripus was proverbial for
irregular tides.

II.

Vellem autem pauca tecum fortunae ipsius uerbis agitare. Tu igitur an ius
postulet, animaduerte. 'Quid tu homo ream me cotidianis agis querelis? Quam
tibi fecimus iniuriam? Quae tua tibi detraximus bona? Quouis iudice de opum
dignitatumque mecum possessione contende. Et si cuiusquam mortalium
proprium quid horum esse monstraueris, ego iam tua fuisse quae repetis,
sponte concedam.

Cum te matris utero natura produxit, nudum rebus omnibus inopemque suscepi,
meis opibus foui et quod te nunc inpatientem nostri facit, fauore prona
indulgentius educaui, omnium quae mei iuris sunt affluentia et splendore
circumdedi. Nunc mihi retrahere manum libet. Habes gratiam uelut usus
alienis, non habes ius querelae tamquam prorsus tua perdideris. Quid igitur
ingemiscis? Nulla tibi a nobis est allata uiolentia. Opes honores ceteraque
talium mei sunt iuris. Dominam famulae cognoscunt; mecum ueniunt, me
abeunte discedunt. Audacter adfirmem, si tua forent quae amissa conquereris
nullo modo perdidisses. An ego sola meum ius exercere prohibebor? Licet
caelo proferre lucidos dies eosdemque tenebrosis noctibus condere. Licet
anno terrae uultum nunc floribus frugibusque redimire, nunc nimbis
frigoribusque confundere. Ius est mari nunc strato aequore blandiri, nunc
procellis ac fluctibus inhorrescere. Nos ad constantiam nostris moribus
alienam inexpleta hominum cupiditas alligabit? Haec nostra uis est, hunc
continuum ludum ludimus; rotam uolubili orbe uersamus, infima summis summa
infimis mutare gaudemus. Ascende si placet, sed ea lege ne utique[102] cum
ludicri mei ratio poscet, descendere iniuriam putes. An tu mores ignorabas
meos? Nesciebas Croesum regem Lydorum Cyro paulo ante formidabilem mox
deinde miserandum rogi flammis traditum misso caelitus imbre defensum? Num
te praeterit Paulum Persi regis a se capti calamitatibus pias inpendisse
lacrimas? Quid tragoediarum clamor aliud deflet nisi indiscreto ictu
fortunam felicia regna uertentem? Nonne adulescentulus [Greek: doious
pithous ton men hena kakon ton d'heteron eaon] in Iouis limine iacere
didicisti? Quid si uberius de bonorum parte sumpsisti? Quid si a te non
tota discessi? Quid si haec ipsa mei mutabilitas iusta tibi causa est
sperandi meliora? Tamen ne animo contabescas et intra commune omnibus
regnum locatus proprio uiuere iure desideres.

[102] utique _Klussmann_; uti _codd._

II

But I would urge thee a little with Fortune's own speeches. Wherefore
consider thou if she asketh not reason. 'For what cause, O man, chargest
thou me with daily complaints? What injury have I done thee? What goods
of thine have I taken from thee? Contend with me before any judge about
the possession of riches and dignities; and if thou canst show that the
propriety of any of these things belong to any mortal wight, I will
forthwith willingly grant that those things which thou demandest were
thine. When Nature produced thee out of thy mother's womb, I received
thee naked and poor in all respects, cherished thee with my wealth, and
(which maketh thee now to fall out with me) being forward to favour
thee, I had most tender care for thy education, and adorned thee with
the abundance and splendour of all things which are in my power. Now it
pleaseth me to withdraw my hand, yield thanks, as one that hath had the
use of that which was not his own. Thou hast no just cause to complain,
as though thou hadst lost that which was fully thine own. Wherefore
lamentest thou? I have offered thee no violence. Riches, honours, and
the rest of that sort belong to me. They acknowledge me for their
mistress, and themselves for my servants, they come with me, and when I
go away they likewise depart. I may boldly affirm, if those things which
thou complainest to be taken from thee had been thine own, thou shouldst
never have lost them. Must I only be forbidden to use my right? It is
lawful for the heaven to bring forth fair days, and to hide them again
in darksome nights. It is lawful for the year sometime to compass the
face of the earth with flowers and fruits, and sometime to cover it with
clouds and cold. The sea hath right sometime to fawn with calms, and
sometime to frown with storms and waves. And shall the insatiable desire
of men tie me to constancy, so contrary to my custom? This is my force,
this is the sport which I continually use. I turn about my wheel with
speed, and take a pleasure to turn things upside down. Ascend, if thou
wilt, but with this condition, that thou thinkest it not an injury to
descend when the course of my sport so requireth. Didst thou not know my
fashion? Wert thou ignorant how Croesus, King of the Lydians, not long
before a terror to Cyrus, within a while after came to such misery that
he should have been burnt had he not been saved by a shower sent from
heaven?[103] Hast thou forgotten how Paul piously bewailed the
calamities of King Perses his prisoner?[104] What other thing doth the
outcry of tragedies lament, but that fortune, having no respect,
overturneth happy states? Didst thou not learn in thy youth that there
lay two barrels, the one of good things and the other of bad,[105] at
Jupiter's threshold? But what if thou hast tasted more abundantly of the
good? What if I be not wholly gone from thee? What if this mutability of
mine be a just cause for thee to hope for better? Notwithstanding, lose
not thy courage, and, living in a kingdom which is common to all men,
desire not to be governed by peculiar laws proper only to thyself.

[103] Cf. Herod, i. 87.

[104] Cf. Livy xlv. 8. Paul=Aemilius Paulus surnamed Macedonius for his
defeat of Perses last king of Macedonia in 168 B.C.

[105] _Il._ xxiv. 527.

II.

Si quantas rapidis flatibus incitus
Pontus uersat harenas
Aut quot stelliferis edita noctibus
Caelo sidera fulgent
Tantas fundat opes nec retrahat manum 5
Pleno copia cornu,
Humanum miseras haud ideo genus
Cesset flere querellas.
Quamuis uota libens excipiat deus
Multi prodigus auri 10
Et claris auidos ornet honoribus,
Nil iam parta uidentur,
Sed quaesita uorans saeua rapacitas
Altos[106] pandit hiatus.
Quae iam praecipitem frena cupidinem 15
Certo fine retentent,
Largis cum potius muneribus fluens
Sitis ardescit habendi?
Numquam diues agit qui trepidus gemens
Sese credit egentem.' 20

[106] altos _vulg._; alios _codd. opt._

II.

If Plenty as much wealth should give, ne'er holding back her hand,
As the swift winds in troubled seas do toss up heaps of sand,
Or as the stars in lightsome nights shine forth on heaven's face,
Yet wretched men would still accuse their miserable case.
Should God, too liberal of His gold, their greedy wishes hear,
And with bright honour them adorn; yet all that nothing were,
Since ravenous minds, devouring all, for more are ready still.
What bridle can contain in bounds this their contentless will,
When filled with riches they retain the thirst of having more?
He is not rich that fears and grieves, and counts himself but poor.'

III.

His igitur si pro se tecum fortuna loqueretur, quid profecto contra
hisceres non haberes, aut si quid est quo querelam tuam iure tuearis,
proferas oportet. Dabimus dicendi locum." Tum ego: "Speciosa quidem ista
sunt," inquam, "oblitaque Rhetoricae ac Musicae melle dulcedinis; tum
tantum, cum audiuntur, oblectant. Sed miseris malorum altior sensus est.
Itaque cum haec auribus insonare desierint, insitus animum maeror
praegrauat." Et illa: "Ita est," inquit. "Haec enim nondum morbi tui
remedia sed adhuc contumacis aduersum curationem doloris fomenta quaedam
sunt. Nam quae in profundum sese penetrent, cum tempestiuum fuerit
admouebo. Verumtamen ne te existimari miserum uelis, an numerum modumque
tuae felicitatis oblitus es?

Taceo quod desolatum parente summorum te uirorum cura suscepit delectusque
in affinitatem principum ciuitatis, quod pretiosissimum propinquitatis
genus est, prius carus quam proximus esse coepisti. Quis non te
felicissimum cum tanto splendore socerorum, cum coniugis pudore, cum
masculae quoque prolis opportunitate praedicauit? Praetereo, libet enim
praeterire communia, sumptas in adulescentia negatas senibus dignitates; ad
singularem felicitatis tuae cumulum uenire delectat. Si quis rerum
mortalium fructus ullum beatitudinis pondus habet, poteritne illius memoria
lucis quantalibet ingruentium malorum mole deleri, cum duos pariter
consules liberos tuos domo prouehi sub frequentia patrum, sub plebis
alacritate uidisti, cum eisdem in curia curules insidentibus tu regiae
laudis orator ingenii gloriam facundiaeque meruisti, cum in circo duorum
medius consulum circumfusae multitudinis expectationem triumphali
largitione satiasti? Dedisti ut opinor uerba fortunae, dum te illa
demulcet, dum te ut delicias suas fouet. Munus quod nulli umquam priuato
commodauerat abstulisti. Visne igitur cum fortuna calculum ponere? Nunc te
primum liuenti oculo praestrinxit. Si numerum modumque laetorum tristiumue
consideres, adhuc te felicem negare non possis. Quod si idcirco te
fortunatum esse non aestimas, quoniam quae tunc laeta uidebantur abierunt,
non est quod te miserum putes, quoniam quae nunc creduntur maesta
praetereunt. An tu in hanc uitae scaenam nunc primum subitus hospesque
uenisti? Vllamne humanis rebus inesse constantiam reris, cum ipsum saepe
hominem uelox hora dissoluat? Nam etsi rara est fortuitis manendi fides,
ultimus tamen uitae dies mors quaedam fortunae est etiam manentis. Quid
igitur referre putas, tune illam moriendo deseras an te illa fugiendo?

III.

Wherefore if fortune should plead with thee thus in her own defence,
doubtless thou wouldst not have a word to answer her. But if there be
anything which thou canst allege in thy own defence, thou must utter it.
We will give thee full liberty to speak." Then I said: "These things
make a fair show and, being set out with pleasant rhetoric and music,
delight only so long as they are heard. But those which are miserable
have a deeper feeling of their miseries. Therefore, when the sound of
these things is past, hidden sorrow oppresseth the mind." "It is so
indeed," quoth she, "for these be not the remedies of thy disease, but
certain fomentations to assuage thy grief, which as yet resisteth all
cure. But when it shall be time, I will apply that which shall pierce to
the quick. And yet there is no cause why thou shouldst think thyself
miserable. Hast thou forgotten how many ways, and in what degree thou
art happy?

I pass over with silence that, having lost thy father, thou wert
provided for by men of the best sort, and, being chosen to have affinity
with the chiefest of the city, thou begannest sooner to be dear unto
them than to be akin, which is the most excellent kind of kindred. Who
esteemed thee not most happy, having so noble a father-in-law, so chaste
a wife, and so noble sons? I say nothing (for I will not speak of
ordinary matters) of the dignities denied to others in their age, and
granted to thee in thy youth. I desire to come to the singular top of
thy felicity. If any fruit of mortal things hath any weight of
happiness, can the remembrance of that light be destroyed with any cloud
of miseries that can overcast thee? When thou sawst thy two sons being
both Consuls together carried from their house, the Senators
accompanying them, and the people rejoicing with them; when, they
sitting in the Senate in their chairs of state, thou making an oration
in the King's praise deservedst the glory of wit and eloquence. When in
public assembly, thou, standing betwixt thy two sons, didst satisfy with
thy triumphant liberality the expectation of the multitudes gathered
together, I suppose thou flatteredst fortune, while she fawned thus upon
thee, as her dearest friend. Thou obtainedst more at her hands than ever
private man had before thee. Wilt thou then reckon with fortune? This is
the first time that ever she frowned upon thee. If thou considerest the
number and measure of thy joyful and sad accidents, thou canst not
choose but think thyself fortunate hitherto; and if thou esteemest not
thyself fortunate because those things which seemed joyful are past,
there is no cause why thou shouldst think thyself miserable, since those
things which thou now takest to be sorrowful do pass. Comest thou now
first as a pilgrim and stranger into the theatre of this life? Supposest
thou to find any constancy in human affairs, since that man himself is
soon gone? For although things subject to fortune seldom keep touch in
staying, yet the end of life is a certain death, even of that fortune
which remaineth. Wherefore, what matter is it whether thou by dying
leavest it, or it forsaketh thee by flying?

III.

Cum polo Phoebus roseis quadrigis
Lucem spargere coeperit,
Pallet albentes hebetata uultus
Flammis stella prementibus.
Cum nemus flatu Zephyri tepentis 5
Vernis inrubuit rosis,
Spiret insanum nebulosus Auster:
Iam spinis abeat decus.
Saepe tranquillo radiat sereno
Immotis mare fluctibus, 10
Saepe feruentes Aquilo procellas
Verso concitat aequore.
Rara si constat sua forma mundo,
Si tantas uariat uices,
Crede fortunis hominum caducis, 15
Bonis crede fugacibus.
Constat aeterna positumque lege est
Vt constet genitum nihil."

III.

When Phoebus with his rosy team
Showeth his lightsome beam,
The dull and darkened stars retire
Yielding to greater fire.
When Zephyrus his warmth doth bring,
Sweet roses deck the spring;
Let noisome Auster blow apace,
Plants soon will lose their grace.
The sea hath often quiet stood
With an unmoved flood,
And often is turmoiled with waves,
When boisterous Boreas raves.
If thus the world never long tarry
The same, but often vary,
On fading fortunes then rely,
Trust to those goods that fly.
An everlasting law is made,
That all things born shall fade."

IV.

Tum ego: "Vera," inquam, "commemoras, o uirtutum omnium nutrix, nec
infitiari possum prosperitatis meae uelocissimum cursum. Sed hoc est quod
recolentem uehementius coquit. Nam in omni aduersitate fortunae
infelicissimum est genus infortunii fuisse felicem." "Sed quod tu," inquit,
"falsae opinionis supplicium luas, id rebus iure imputare non possis. Nam
si te hoc inane nomen fortuitae felicitatis mouet, quam pluribus maximisque
abundes mecum reputes licet. Igitur si quod in omni fortunae tuae censu
pretiosissimum possidebas, id tibi diuinitus inlaesum adhuc inuiolatumque
seruatur, poterisne meliora quaeque retinens de infortunio iure causari?

Atqui uiget incolumis illud pretiosissimum generis humani decus Symmachus
socer et quod uitae pretio non segnis emeres, uir totus ex sapientia
uirtutibusque factus suarum securus tuis ingemiscit iniuriis. Viuit uxor
ingenio modesta, pudicitia pudore praecellens et, ut omnes eius dotes
breuiter includam, patri similis. Viuit inquam tibique tantum uitae huius
exosa spiritum seruat quoque uno felicitatem minui tuam uel ipsa
concesserim, tui desiderio lacrimis ac dolore tabescit.

Quid dicam liberos consulares quorum iam, ut in id aetatis pueris, uel
paterni uel auiti specimen elucet ingenii? Cum igitur praecipua sit
mortalibus uitae cura retinendae, o te si tua bona cognoscas felicem, cui
suppetunt etiam nunc quae uita nemo dubitat esse cariora! Quare sicca iam
lacrimas. Nondum est ad unum omnes exosa fortuna nec tibi nimium ualida
tempestas incubuit, quando tenaces haerent ancorae quae nec praesentis
solamen nec futuri spem temporis abesse patiantur."

"Et haereant," inquam, "precor; illis namque manentibus, utcumque se res
habeant, enatabimus. Sed quantum ornamentis nostris decesserit, uides." Et
illa: "Promouimus," inquit, "aliquantum, si te nondum totius tuae sortis
piget. Sed delicias tuas ferre non possum qui abesse aliquid tuae
beatitudini tam luctuosus atque anxius conqueraris. Quis est enim tam
conpositae felicitatis ut non aliqua ex parte cum status sui qualitate
rixetur? Anxia enim res est humanorum condicio bonorum et quae uel numquam
tota proueniat uel numquam perpetua subsistat. Huic census exuberat, sed
est pudori degener sanguis; hunc nobilitas notum facit, sed angustia rei
familiaris inclusus esse mallet ignotus. Ille utroque circumfluus uitam
caelibem deflet; ille nuptiis felix orbus liberis alieno censum nutrit
heredi. Alius prole laetatus filii filiaeue delictis maestus inlacrimat.
Idcirco nemo facile cum fortunae suae condicione concordat; inest enim
singulis quod inexpertus ignoret, expertus exhorreat. Adde quod felicissimi
cuiusque delicatissimus sensus est et nisi ad nutum cuncta suppetant, omnis
aduersitatis insolens minimis quibusque prosternitur; adeo perexigua sunt
quae fortunatissimis beatitudinis summam detrahunt. Quam multos esse
coniectas qui sese caelo proximos arbitrentur, si de fortunae tuae
reliquiis pars eis minima contingat? Hic ipse locus quem tu exilium uocas,
incolentibus patria est; adeo nihil est miserum nisi cum putes contraque
beata sors omnis est aequanimitate tolerantis. Quis est ille tam felix qui
cum dederit inpatientiae manus, statum suum mutare non optet? Quam multis
amaritudinibus humanae felicitatis dulcedo respersa est! Quae si etiam
fruenti iucunda esse uideatur, tamen quo minus cum uelit abeat retineri non
possit. Liquet igitur quam sit mortalium rerum misera beatitudo quae nec
apud aequanimos perpetua perdurat necanxios tota delectat.

Quid igitur o mortales extra petitis intra uos positam felicitatem? Error
uos inscitiaque confundit. Ostendam breuiter tibi summae cardinem
felicitatis. Estne aliquid tibi te ipso pretiosius? Nihil inquies. Igitur
si tui compos fueris, possidebis quod nec tu amittere umquam uelis nec
fortuna possit auferre. Atque ut agnoscas in his fortuitis rebus
beatitudinem constare non posse, sic collige. Si beatitudo est summum
naturae bonum ratione degentis nec est summum bonum quod eripi ullo modo
potest, quoniam praecellit id quod nequeat auferri, manifestum est
quoniam[107] ad beatitudinem percipiendam fortunae instabilitas adspirare
non possit. Ad haec quem caduca ista felicitas uehit uel scit eam uel
nescit esse mutabilem. Si nescit, quaenam beata sors esse potest
ignorantiae caecitate? Si scit, metuat necesse est, ne amittat quod amitti
posse non dubitat; quare continuus timor non sinit esse felicem. An uel si
amiserit, neglegendum putat? Sic quoque perexile bonum est quod aequo animo
feratur amissum. Et quoniam tu idem es cui persuasum atque insitum
permultis demonstrationibus scio mentes hominum nullo modo esse mortales
cumque clarum sit fortuitam felicitatem corporis morte finiri, dubitari
nequit, si haec afferre beatitudinem potest, quin omne mortalium genus in
miseriam mortis fine labatur. Quod si multos scimus beatitudinis fructum
non morte solum uerum etiam doloribus suppliciisque quaesisse, quonam modo
praesens facere beatos potest quae miseros transacta non efficit?

[107] quin _codices_.

IV.

To which I answered: "The things which thou reportest are true, O nurse
of all virtues, and I cannot deny the most speedy course of my
prosperity. But this is that which vexeth me most, when I remember it.
For in all adversity of fortune it is the most unhappy kind of
misfortune to have been happy." "But," quoth she, "thou canst not justly
impute to the things themselves that thou art punished for thy false
opinion. For if this vain name of casual felicity moveth thee, let us
make accompt with how many and how great things thou aboundest.
Wherefore, if that which in all thy revenues of fortune thou esteemest
most precious doth still by God's providence remain safe and untouched,
canst thou, retaining the best, justly complain of misfortune?

But thy father-in-law, Symmachus (that most excellent ornament of
mankind) liveth in safety, and for the obtaining of which thou wouldst
willingly spend thy life, that man wholly framed to wisdom and virtues,
being secure of his own, mourneth for thy injuries. Thy wife liveth,
modest in disposition, eminent in chastity, and, to rehearse briefly all
her excellent gifts, like her father. She liveth, I say, and weary of
her life reserveth her breath only for thee. In which alone even I must
grant that thy felicity is diminished, she consumeth herself with tears
and grief for thy sake.

What should I speak of thy children, which have been Consuls, in whom
already, as in children of that age, their father's or grandfather's
good disposition appeareth? Wherefore, since the greatest care that
mortal men have is to save their lives, O happy man that thou art, if
thou knowest thine own wealth, who still hast remaining those things
which no man doubteth to be dearer than life itself? And therefore cease
weeping. Fortune hath not hitherto showed her hatred against you all,
neither art thou assailed with too boisterous a storm, since those
anchors hold fast which permit neither the comfort of the time present
nor the hope of the time to come to be wanting."

"And I pray God," quoth I, "that they may hold fast, for so long as they
remain, howsoever the world goeth we shall escape drowning. But thou
seest how great a part of our ornaments is lost." "We have gotten a
little ground," quoth she, "if thy whole estate be not irksome unto
thee. But I cannot suffer thy daintiness, who with such lamentation and
anxiety complaineth that something is wanting to thy happiness. For who
hath so entire happiness that he is not in some part offended with the
condition of his estate? The nature of human felicity is doubtful and
uncertain, and is neither ever wholly obtained, or never lasteth always.
One man hath great revenues, but is contemned for his base lineage.
Another's nobility maketh him known, but, oppressed with penury, had
rather be unknown. Some, abounding with both, bewail their life without
marriage. Some other, well married but wanting children, provideth
riches for strangers to inherit. Others, finally, having children,
mournfully bewail the vices which their sons or daughters are given to.
So that scarce any man is pleased with the condition of his fortune. For
there is something in every estate, which without experience is not
known, and being experienced doth molest and trouble. Besides that,
those which are most happy are most sensible,[108] and unless all things
fall out to their liking, impatient of all adversity, every little cross
overthrows them, so small are the occasions which take from the most
fortunate the height of their happiness. How many are there, thinkest
thou, which would think themselves almost in Heaven if they had but the
least part of the remains of thy fortune? This very place, which thou
callest banishment, is to the inhabitants thereof their native land. So
true it is that nothing is miserable but what is thought so, and
contrariwise, every estate is happy if he that bears it be content. Who
is so happy that if he yieldeth to discontent, desireth not to change
his estate? How much bitterness is mingled with the sweetness of man's
felicity, which, though it seemeth so pleasant while it is enjoyed, yet
can it not be retained from going away when it will. And by this it
appeareth how miserable is the blessedness of mortal things, which
neither endureth alway with the contented, nor wholly delighteth the
pensive.

Wherefore, O mortal men, why seek you for your felicity abroad, which is
placed within yourselves? Error and ignorance do confound you. I will
briefly show thee the centre of thy chiefest happiness. Is there
anything more precious to thee than thyself? I am sure thou wilt say,
nothing. Wherefore, if thou enjoyest thyself, thou shalt possess that
which neither thou wilt ever wish to lose nor fortune can take away. And
that thou mayst acknowledge that blessedness cannot consist in these
casual things, gather it thus. If blessedness be the chiefest good of
nature endued with reason, and that is not the chiefest good which may
by any means be taken away, because that which cannot be taken away is
better, it is manifest that the instability of fortune cannot aspire to
the obtaining of blessedness. Moreover, he that now enjoyeth this
brittle felicity, either knoweth it to be mutable or no. If not, what
estate can be blessed by ignorant blindness? And if he knoweth it, he
must needs fear lest he lose that which he doubteth not may be lost,
wherefore continual fear permitteth him not to be happy. Or though he
should lose it, doth he think that a thing of no moment? But so it were
a very small good which he would be content to lose. And because thou
art one whom I know to be fully persuaded and convinced by innumerable
demonstrations that the souls of men are in no wise mortal, and since it
is clear that casual felicity is ended by the body's death, there is no
doubt, if this can cause blessedness, but that all mankind falleth into
misery by death. But if we know many who have sought to reap the fruit
of blessedness, not only by death, but also by affliction and torments,
how can present happiness make men happy, the loss of which causeth not
misery?

[108] _i.e._ sensitive.

IV.

Quisquis uolet perennem
Cautus ponere sedem
Stabilisque nec sonori
Sterni flatibus Euri
Et fluctibus minantem 5
Curat spernere pontum,
Montis cacumen alti,
Bibulas uitet harenas.
Illud proteruus Auster
Totis uiribus urget, 10
Hae pendulum solutae
Pondus ferre recusant.
Fugiens periculosam
Sortem sedis amoenae
Humili domum memento 15
Certus figere saxo.
Quamuis tonet ruinis
Miscens aequora uentus,
Tu conditus quieti
Felix robore ualli 20
Duces serenus aeuum
Ridens aetheris iras.

IV.

Who with an heedful care
Will an eternal seat prepare,
Which cannot be down cast
By force of windy blast,
And will the floods despise,
When threatening billows do arise,
He not on hills must stand,
Nor on the dangerous sinking sand.
For there the winds will threat,
And him with furious tempests beat,
And here the ground too weak
Will with the heavy burden break.[109]
Fly then the dangerous case
Of an untried delightful place,
And thy poor house bestow
In stony places firm and low.
For though the winds do sound,
And waves of troubled seas confound:
Yet thou to rest disposed
In thy safe lowly vale inclosed,
Mayst live a quiet age,
Scorning the air's distempered rage.

[109] Literally, "These shifting sands refuse to bear the weight laid
upon them."

V.

Sed quoniam rationum iam in te mearum fomenta descendunt, paulo
ualidioribus utendum puto. Age enim si iam caduca et momentaria fortunae
dona non essent, quid in eis est quod aut uestrum umquam fieri queat aut
non perspectum consideratumque uilescat? Diuitiaene uel uestra uel sui
natura pretiosae sunt? Quid earum potius, aurumne an uis congesta pecuniae?
Atqui haec effundendo magis quam coaceruando melius nitent, si quidem
auaritia semper odiosos, claros largitas facit. Quod si manere apud quemque
non potest quod transfertur in alterum, tunc est pretiosa pecunia cum
translata in alios largiendi usu desinit possideri. At eadem si apud unum
quanta est ubique gentium congeratur, ceteros sui inopes fecerit. Et uox
quidem tota pariter multorum replet auditum; uestrae uero diuitiae nisi
comminutae in plures transire non possunt. Quod cum factum est, pauperes
necesse est faciant quos relinquunt. O igitur angustas inopesque diuitias
quas nec habere totas pluribus licet et ad quemlibet sine ceterorum
paupertate non ueniunt! An gemmarum fulgor oculos trahit? Sed si quid est
in hoc splendore praecipui, gemmarum est lux illa non hominum, quas quidem
mirari homines uehementer admiror. Quid est enim carens animae motu atque
compage quod animatae rationabilique naturae pulchrum esse iure uideatur?
Quae tametsi conditoris opera suique distinctione postremae aliquid
pulchritudinis trahunt, infra uestram tamen excellentiam conlocatae
admirationem uestram nullo modo merebantur. An uos agrorum pulchritudo
delectat? Quidni? Est enim pulcherrimi operis pulchra portio. Sic quondam
sereni maris facie gaudemus; sic caelum sidera lunam solemque miramur. Num
te horum aliquid attingit? Num audes alicuius talium splendore gloriari? An
uernis floribus ipse distingueris aut tua in aestiuos fructus intumescit
ubertas? Quid inanibus gaudiis raperis? Quid externa bona pro tuis
amplexaris? Numquam tua faciet esse fortuna quae a te natura rerum fecit
aliena. Terrarum quidem fructus animantium procul dubio debentur alimentis.
Sed si, quod naturae satis est, replere indigentiam uelis, nihil est quod
fortunae affluentiam petas. Paucis enim minimisque natura contenta est,
cuius satietatem si superfluis urgere uelis, aut iniucundum quod infuderis
fiet aut noxium. Iam uero pulchrum uariis fulgere uestibus putas, quarum si
grata intuitu species est, aut materiae naturam aut ingenium mirabor
artificis. An uero te longus ordo famulorum facit esse felicem? Qui si
uitiosi moribus sint, perniciosa domus sarcina et ipsi domino uehementer
inimica; sin uero probi, quonam modo in tuis opibus aliena probitas
numerabitur? Ex quibus omnibus nihil horum quae tu in tuis conputas bonis
tuum esse bonum liquido monstratur. Quibus si nihil inest appetendae
pulchritudinis, quid est quod uel amissis doleas uel laeteris retentis?
Quod si natura pulchra sunt, quid id tua refert? Nam haec per se a tuis
quoque opibus sequestrata placuissent. Neque enim idcirco sunt pretiosa
quod in tuas uenere diuitias, sed quoniam pretiosa uidebantur, tuis ea
diuitiis adnumerare maluisti. Quid autem tanto fortunae strepitu
desideratis? Fugare credo indigentiam copia quaeritis. Atqui hoc uobis in
contrarium cedit. Pluribus quippe adminiculis opus est ad tuendam pretiosae
supellectilis uarietatem, uerumque illud est permultis eos indigere qui
permulta possideant contraque minimum qui abundantiam suam naturae
necessitate non ambitus superfluitate metiantur. Itane autem nullum est
proprium uobis atque insitum bonum ut in externis ac sepositis rebus bona
uestra quaeratis? Sic rerum uersa condicio est ut diuinum merito rationis
animal non aliter sibi splendere nisi inanimatae supellectilis possessione
uideatur? Et alia quidem suis contenta sunt; uos autem deo mente consimiles
ab rebus infimis excellentis naturae ornamenta captatis nec intellegitis
quantam conditori uestro faciatis iniuriam. Ille genus humanum terrenis
omnibus praestare uoluit; uos dignitatem uestram infra infima quaeque
detruditis. Nam si omne cuiusque bonum eo cuius est constat esse
pretiosius, cum uilissima rerum uestra bona esse iudicatis, eisdem uosmet
ipsos uestra existimatione submittitis; quod quidem haud inmerito cadit.
Humanae quippe naturae ista condicio est ut tum tantum ceteris rebus cum se
cognoscit excellat, eadem tamen infra bestias redigatur, si se nosse
desierit. Nam ceteris animantibus sese ignorare naturae est; hominibus
uitio uenit. Quam uero late patet uester hic error qui ornari posse aliquid
ornamentis existimatis alienis? At id fieri nequit. Nam si quid ex
appositis luceat, ipsa quidem quae sunt apposita laudantur; illud uero his
tectum atque uelatum in sua nihilo minus foeditate perdurat. Ego uero nego
ullum esse bonum quod noceat habenti. Num id mentior? 'Minime,' inquis.
Atqui diuitiae possidentibus persaepe nocuerunt, cum pessimus quisque eoque
alieni magis auidus quidquid usquam auri gemmarumque est se solum qui
habeat dignissimum putat. Tu igitur qui nunc contum gladiumque sollicitus
pertimescis, si uitae huius callem uacuus uiator intrasses, coram latrone
cantares. O praeclara opum mortalium beatitudo quam cum adeptus fueris
securus esse desistis!

V.

But since the soothing of my reasons begins to sink into thee, I will
use those which are somewhat more forcible. Go to the*n, if the gifts of
fortune were not brittle and momentary, what is there in them which can
either ever be made your own, or, well weighed and considered, seemeth
not vile and of no accompt? Are riches precious in virtue either of
their own nature or of yours? What part of them can be so esteemed of?
The gold or the heaps of money? But these make a fairer show when they
are spent than when they are kept. For covetousness alway maketh men
odious, as liberality famous. And if a man cannot have that which is
given to another, then money is precious when, bestowed upon others, by
the use of liberality it is not possessed any longer. But if all the
money in the whole world were gathered into one man's custody, all other
men should be poor. The voice at the same time wholly filleth the ears
of many, but your riches cannot pass to many, except they be diminished,
which being done, they must needs make them poor whom they leave. O
scant and poor riches, which neither can be wholly possessed of many,
and come to none without the impoverishment of others! Doth the
glittering of jewels draw thy eyes after them? But if there be any great
matter in this show, not men but the jewels shine, which I exceedingly
marvel that men admire. For what is there wanting life and members that
may justly seem beautiful to a nature not only endued with life but also
with reason? Which, though by their maker's workmanship and their own
variety they have some part of basest beauty, yet it is so far inferior
to your excellency that it did in no sort deserve your admiration. Doth
the pleasant prospect of the fields delight you? Why not? For it is a
fair portion of a most fair work. So we are delighted with a calm sea,
so we admire the sky, the stars, the sun, and the moon. Do any of these
belong to thee? Darest thou boast of the beauty which any of them have?
Art thou thyself adorned with May flowers? Or doth thy fertility teem
with the fruits of summer? Why rejoicest thou vainly? Why embracest thou
outward goods as if they were thine own? Fortune will never make those
things thine which by the appointment of Nature belong not to thee. The
fruits of the earth are doubtless appointed for the sustenance of living
creatures. But if thou wilt only satisfy want, which sufficeth Nature,
there is no cause to require the superfluities of fortune. For Nature is
contented with little and with the smallest things, and, if, being
satisfied, thou wilt overlay it with more than needs, that which thou
addest will either become unpleasant or hurtful. But perhaps thou
thinkest it a fine thing to go decked in gay apparel, which, if they
make a fair show, I will admire either the goodness of the stuff or the
invention of the workman. Or doth the multitude of servants make thee
happy? Who, if they be vicious, they are a pernicious burden to thy
house, and exceedingly troublesome to their master; and if they be
honest, how shall other men's honesty be counted amongst thy treasures?
By all which is manifestly proved that none of these goods which thou
accountest thine, are thine indeed. And if there is nothing in these
worthy to be desired, why art thou either glad when thou hast them or
sorry when thou losest them? Or what is it to thee, if they be precious
by nature? For in this respect they would have pleased thee, though they
had belonged to others. For they are not precious because they are come
to be thine, but because they seemed precious thou wert desirous to have
them. Now, what desire you with such loud praise of fortune? Perhaps you
seek to drive away penury with plenty. But this falleth out quite
contrary, for you stand in need of many supplies, to protect all this
variety of precious ornaments. And it is true that they which have much,
need much; and contrariwise, that they need little which measure not
their wealth by the superfluity of ambition, but by the necessity of
nature. Have you no proper and inward good, that you seek your goods in
those things which are outward and separated from you? Is the condition
of things so changed that a living creature, deservedly accounted divine
for the gift of reason, seemeth to have no other excellency than the
possession of a little household stuff without life? All other creatures
are content with that they have of their own; and you, who in your mind
carry the likeness of God, are content to take the ornaments of your
excellent nature from the most base and vile things, neither understand
you what injury you do your Creator. He would have mankind to excel all
earthly things; you debase your dignity under every meanest creature.
For if it be manifest that the good of everything is more precious than
that whose good it is, since you judge the vilest things that can be to
be your goods, you deject yourselves under them in your own estimation,
which questionless cometh not undeservedly to pass; for this is the
condition of man's nature, that then only it surpasseth other things
when it knoweth itself, and it is worse than beasts when it is without
that knowledge. For in other living creatures the ignorance of
themselves is nature, but in men it is vice. And how far doth this error
of yours extend, who think that any can be adorned with the ornaments of
another? Which can in no wise be. For if any adjoined thing seem
precious, it is that which is praised, but that which is covered and
enwrapped in it remaineth, notwithstanding, with the foul baseness which
it hath of itself. Moreover, I deny that to be good which hurteth the
possessor. Am I deceived in this? I am sure thou wilt say no. But riches
have often hurt their possessors, since every lewdest companion, who are
consequently most desirous of that which is not their own, think
themselves most worthy to possess alone all the gold and jewels in the
world. Wherefore thou, who with much perturbation fearest now to be
assailed and slain, if thou hadst entered the path of this life like a
poor passenger, needest not be afraid, but mightest rejoice and sing
even in the sight of most ravenous thieves.[110] O excellent happiness
of mortal riches, which, when thou hast gotten, thou hast lost thy
safety!

[110] Cf. Juvenal, _Sat._ x. 19-22.

V.

Felix nimium prior aetas
Contenta fidelibus aruis
Nec inerti perdita luxu,
Facili quae sera solebat
Ieiunia soluere glande. 5
Non Bacchica munera norant
Liquido confundere melle
Nec lucida uellera Serum
Tyrio miscere ueneno.
Somnos dabat herba salubres, 10
Potum quoque lubricus amnis,
Vmbras altissima pinus.
Nondum maris alta secabat
Nec mercibus undique lectis
Noua litora uiderat hospes. 15
Tunc classica saeua tacebant,
Odiis neque fusus acerbis
Cruor horrida tinxerat arua.
Quid enim furor hosticus ulla
Vellet prior arma mouere, 20
Cum uulnera saeua uiderent
Nec praemia sanguinis ulla?
Vtinam modo nostra redirent
In mores tempora priscos!
Sed saeuior ignibus Aetnae 25
Feruens amor ardet habendi.
Heu primus quis fuit ille
Auri qui pondera tecti
Gemmasque latere uolentes
Pretiosa pericula fodit? 30

V.

Too much the former age was blest,
When fields their pleased owners failed not,
Who, with no slothful lust opprest,
Broke their long fasts with acorns eas'ly got.
No wine with honey mixed was,
Nor did they silk in purple colours steep;
They slept upon the wholesome grass,
And their cool drink did fetch from rivers deep.
The pines did hide them with their shade,
No merchants through the dangerous billows went,
Nor with desire of gainful trade
Their traffic into foreign countries sent.
Then no shrill trumpets did amate
The minds of soldiers with their daunting sounds,
Nor weapons were with deadly hate
Dyed with the dreadful blood of gaping wounds.
For how could any fury draw
The mind of man to stir up war in vain,
When nothing but fierce wounds he saw,
And for his blood no recompense should gain?
O that the ancient manners would
In these our latter hapless times return!
Now the desire of having gold
Doth like the flaming fires of Aetna burn.
Ah, who was he that first did show
The heaps of treasure which the earth did hide,
And jewels which lay close below,
By which he costly dangers did provide?

VI.

Quid autem de dignitatibus potentiaque disseram quae uos uerae dignitatis
ac potestatis inscii caelo exaequatis? Quae si in improbissimum quemque
ceciderunt, quae flammis Aetnae eructuantibus, quod diluuium tantas strages
dederint? Certe, uti meminisse te arbitror, consulare imperium, quod
libertatis principium fuerat, ob superbiam consulum uestri ueteres abolere
cupiuerunt, qui ob eandem superbiam prius regium de ciuitate nomen
abstulerant. At si quando, quod perrarum est, probis deferantur, quid in
eis aliud quam probitas utentium placet? Ita fit ut non uirtutibus ex
dignitate sed ex uirtute dignitatibus honor accedat. Quae uero est ista
uestra expetibilis ac praeclara potentia? Nonne, o terrena animalia,
consideratis quibus qui praesidere uideamini? Nunc si inter mures uideres
unum aliquem ius sibi ac potestatem prae ceteris uindicantem, quanto
mouereris cachinno! Quid uero, si corpus spectes, inbecillius homine
reperire queas quos saepe muscularum quoque uel morsus uel in secreta
quaeque reptantium necat introitus? Quo uero quisquam ius aliquod in
quempiam nisi in solum corpus et quod infra corpus est, fortunam loquor,
possit exserere? Num quidquam libero imperabis animo? Num mentem firma sibi
ratione cohaerentem de statu propriae quietis amouebis? Cum liberum quendam
uirum suppliciis se tyrannus adacturum putaret, ut aduersum se factae
coniurationis conscios proderet, linguam ille momordit atque abscidit et in
os tyranni saeuientis abiecit; ita cruciatus, quos putabat tyrannus
materiam crudelitatis, uir sapiens fecit esse uirtutis. Quid autem est quod
in alium facere quisquam[111] possit, quod sustinere ab alio ipse non
possit? Busiridem accipimus necare hospites solitum ab Hercule hospite
fuisse mactatum. Regulus plures Poenorum bello captos in uincla coniecerat,
sed mox ipse uictorum catenis manus praebuit. Vllamne igitur eius hominis
potentiam putas, qui quod ipse in alio potest, ne id in se alter ualeat
efficere non possit? Ad haec si ipsis dignitatibus ac potestatibus inesset
aliquid naturalis ac proprii boni, numquam pessimis prouenirent. Neque enim
sibi solent aduersa sociari; natura respuit ut contraria quaeque iungantur.
Ita cum pessimos plerumque dignitatibus fungi dubium non sit, illud etiam
liquet natura sui bona non esse quae se pessimis haerere patiantur. Quod
quidem de cunctis fortunae muneribus dignius existimari potest, quae ad
improbissimum quemque uberiora perueniunt. De quibus illud etiam
considerandum puto, quod nemo dubitat esse fortem, cui fortitudinem inesse
conspexerit, et cuicumque uelocitas adest manifestum est esse uelocem. Sic
musica quidem musicos medicina medicos rhetorice rhetores facit. Agit enim
cuiusque rei natura quod proprium est nec contrariarum rerum miscetur
effectibus et ultro quae sunt auersa depellit. Atqui nec opes inexpletam
restinguere auaritiam queunt nec potestas sui compotem fecerit quem
uitiosae libidines insolubilibus adstrictum retinent catenis, et collata
improbis dignitas non modo non efficit dignos, sed prodit potius et
ostentat indignos. Cur ita prouenit? Gaudetis enim res sese aliter habentes
falsis compellare nominibus quae facile ipsarum rerum redarguuntur effectu;
itaque nec illae diuitiae nec illa potentia nec haec dignitas iure
appellari potest. Postremo idem de tota concludere fortuna licet in qua
nihil expetendum, nihil natiuae bonitatis inesse manifestum est, quae nec
se bonis semper adiungit et bonos quibus fuerit adiuncta non efficit.

[111] quisque _codd. optimi_.

VI.

Now, why should I discourse of dignities and power which you, not
knowing what true dignity and power meaneth, exalt to the skies? And if
they light upon wicked men, what Aetnas, belching flames, or what deluge
can cause so great harms? I suppose thou rememberest how your ancestors,
by reason of the consuls' arrogancy, desired to abolish that government
which had been the beginning of their freedom, who before, for the same
cause, had removed the government of kings from their city. And if
sometime, which is very seldom, good men be preferred to honours,[112]
what other thing can give contentment in them but the honesty of those

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