HotFreeBooks.com
Plutarch's Morals
by Plutarch
1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

BOHN'S CLASSICAL LIBRARY

PLUTARCH'S MORALS

GEORGE BELL & SONS, LONDON: YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN NEW YORK: 66, FIFTH AVENUE, AND BOMBAY: 53, ESILANADE ROAD CAMBRIDGE: DEIGHTON, BELL & CO.

PLUTARCH'S MORALS

ETHICAL ESSAYS

TRANSLATED

WITH NOTES AND INDEX

BY ARTHUR RICHARD SHILLETO, M.A.

Sometime Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge, Translator of Pausanias.



LONDON GEORGE BELL AND SONS 1898

CHISWICK PRESS:—CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO., TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE.

Transcriber's note: The original book uses often colons instead of semicolons. Spelling of proper names is different in different pages and some words occur in hyphemated and unhyphenated forms. These have not been changed. A couple of commas and periods have been added or removed to improve the reading and only obvious spelling errors have been corrected.



PREFACE.

Plutarch, who was born at Chaeronea in Boeotia, probably about A.D. 50, and was a contemporary of Tacitus and Pliny, has written two works still extant, the well-known Lives, and the less-known Moralia. The Lives have often been translated, and have always been a popular work. Great indeed was their power at the period of the French Revolution. The Moralia, on the other hand, consisting of various Essays on various subjects (only twenty-six of which are directly ethical, though they have given their name to the Moralia), are declared by Mr. Paley "to be practically almost unknown to most persons in Britain, even to those who call themselves scholars."[1] Habent etiam sua fata libelli.

In older days the Moralia were more valued. Montaigne, who was a great lover of Plutarch, and who observes in one passage of his Essays that "Plutarch and Seneca were the only two books of solid learning he seriously settled himself to read," quotes as much from the Moralia as from the Lives. And in the seventeenth century I cannot but think the Moralia were largely read at our Universities, at least at the University of Cambridge. For, not to mention the wonderful way in which the famous Jeremy Taylor has taken the cream of "Conjugal Precepts" in his Sermon called "The Marriage Ring," or the large and copious use he has made in his "Holy Living" of three other Essays in this volume, namely, those "On Curiosity," "On Restraining Anger," and "On Contentedness of Mind," proving conclusively what a storehouse he found the Moralia, we have evidence that that most delightful poet, Robert Herrick, read the Moralia, too, when at Cambridge, so that one cannot but think it was a work read in the University course generally in those days. For in a letter to his uncle written from Cambridge, asking for books or money for books, he makes the following remark: "How kind Arcisilaus the philosopher was unto Apelles the painter, Plutark in his Morals will tell you."[2]

In 1882 the Reverend C. W. King, Senior Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, translated the six "Theosophical Essays" of the Moralia, forming a volume in Bohn's Classical Library. The present volume consists of the twenty-six "Ethical Essays," which are, in my opinion, the cream of the Moralia, and constitute a highly interesting series of treatises on what might be called "The Ethics of the Hearth and Home." I have grouped these Essays in such a manner as to enable the reader to read together such as touch on the same or on kindred subjects.

As is well known, the text of the Moralia is very corrupt, and the reading very doubtful, in many places. In eight of the twenty-six Essays in this volume I have had the invaluable help of the text of Rudolf Hercher; help so invaluable that one cannot but sadly regret that only one volume of the Moralia has yet appeared in the Bibliotheca Teubneriana. Wyttenbach's text and notes I have always used when available, and when not so have fallen back upon Reiske. Reiske is always ingenious, but too fond of correcting a text, and the criticism of him by Wyttenbach is perhaps substantially correct. "In nullo auctore habitabat; vagabatur per omnes: nec apud quemquam tamdiu divertebat, ut in paulo interiorem ejus consuetudinem se insinuaret." I have also had constantly before me the Didot Edition of the Moralia, edited by Frederic Duebner.

Let any reader who wishes to know more about Plutarch, consult the article on Plutarch, in the Ninth Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, by the well-known scholar F. A. Paley. He will also do well to read an Essay on Plutarch by R. W. Emerson, reprinted in Volume III. of the Bohn's Standard Library Edition of Emerson's Works, and Five Lectures on Plutarch by the late Archbishop Trench, published by Messrs. Macmillan and Co. in 1874. All these contain much of interest, and will repay perusal.

In conclusion, I hope this little volume will be the means of making popular some of the best thoughts of one of the most interesting and thoughtful of the ancients, who often seems indeed almost a modern.

Cambridge, March, 1888.

[1] See article Plutarch, in Encyclopaedia Britannica, Ninth Edition.

[2] Grosart's Herrick, vol. i. p. liii. See in this volume, p. 180, and also note to p. 288. Richard Baxter again is always quoting the Moralia.



CONTENTS Page

PREFACE. vii

I. ON EDUCATION 2 II. ON LOVE TO ONE'S OFFSPRING 21 III. ON LOVE 29 IV. CONJUGAL PRECEPTS 70 V. CONSOLATORY LETTER TO HIS WIFE 85 VI. THAT VIRTUE MAY BE TAUGHT 92 VII. ON VIRTUE AND VICE 95 VIII. ON MORAL VIRTUE 98 IX. HOW ONE MAY BE AWARE OF ONE'S PROGRESS IN VIRTUE 118 X. WHETHER VICE IS SUFFICIENT TO CAUSE UNHAPPINESS 138 XI. WHETHER THE DISORDERS OF MIND OR BODY ARE WORSE 142 XII. ON ABUNDANCE OF FRIENDS 145 XIII. HOW ONE MAY DISCERN A FLATTERER FROM A FRIEND 153 XIV. HOW A MAN MAY BE BENEFITED BY HIS ENEMIES 201 XV. ON TALKATIVENESS 214 XVI. ON CURIOSITY 238 XVII. ON SHYNESS 252 XVIII. ON RESTRAINING ANGER 267 XIX. ON CONTENTEDNESS OF MIND 289 XX. ON ENVY AND HATRED 312 XXI. HOW ONE CAN PRAISE ONESELF WITHOUT EXCITING ENVY 315 XXII. ON THOSE WHO ARE PUNISHED BY THE DEITY LATE 331 XXIII. AGAINST BORROWING MONEY 365 XXIV. WHETHER "LIVE UNKNOWN" BE A WISE PRECEPT 373 XXV. ON EXILE 378 XXVI. ON FORTUNE 394

INDEX 401



PLUTARCH'S MORALS.

ON EDUCATION.

Sec. I. Come let us consider what one might say on the education of free children, and by what training they would become good citizens.

Sec. II. It is perhaps best to begin with birth: I would therefore warn those who desire to be fathers of notable sons, not to form connections with any kind of women, such as courtesans or mistresses: for those who either on the father or mother's side are ill-born have the disgrace of their origin all their life long irretrievably present with them, and offer a ready handle to abuse and vituperation. So that the poet was wise, who said, "Unless the foundation of a house be well laid, the descendants must of necessity be unfortunate."[3] Good birth indeed brings with it a store of assurance, which ought to be greatly valued by all who desire legitimate offspring. For the spirit of those who are a spurious and bastard breed is apt to be mean and abject: for as the poet truly says, "It makes a man even of noble spirit servile, when he is conscious of the ill fame of either his father or mother."[4] On the other hand the sons of illustrious parents are full of pride and arrogance. As an instance of this it is recorded of Diophantus,[5] the son of Themistocles, that he often used to say to various people "that he could do what he pleased with the Athenian people, for what he wished his mother wished, and what she wished Themistocles wished, and what Themistocles wished all the Athenians wished." All praise also ought we to bestow on the Lacedaemonians for their loftiness of soul in fining their king Archidamus for venturing to marry a small woman, for they charged him with intending to furnish them not with kings but kinglets.

Sec. III. Next must we mention, what was not overlooked even by those who handled this subject before us, that those who approach their wives for procreation must do so either without having drunk any wine or at least very little. For those children, that their parents begot in drink, are wont to be fond of wine and apt to turn out drunkards. And so Diogenes, seeing a youth out of his mind and crazy, said, "Young man, your father was drunk when he begot you." Let this hint serve as to procreation: now let us discuss education.

Sec. IV. To speak generally, what we are wont to say about the arts and sciences is also true of moral excellence, for to its perfect development three things must meet together, natural ability, theory, and practice. By theory I mean training, and by practice working at one's craft. Now the foundation must be laid in training, and practice gives facility, but perfection is attained only by the junction of all three. For if any one of these elements be wanting, excellence must be so far deficient. For natural ability without training is blind: and training without natural ability is defective, and practice without both natural ability and training is imperfect. For just as in farming the first requisite is good soil, next a good farmer, next good seed, so also here: the soil corresponds to natural ability, the training to the farmer, the seed to precepts and instruction. I should therefore maintain stoutly that these three elements were found combined in the souls of such universally famous men as Pythagoras, and Socrates, and Plato, and of all who have won undying fame. Happy at any rate and dear to the gods is he to whom any deity has vouchsafed all these elements! But if anyone thinks that those who have not good natural ability cannot to some extent make up for the deficiencies of nature by right training and practice, let such a one know that he is very wide of the mark, if not out of it altogether. For good natural parts are impaired by sloth; while inferior ability is mended by training: and while simple things escape the eyes of the careless, difficult things are reached by painstaking. The wonderful efficacy and power of long and continuous labour you may see indeed every day in the world around you.[6] Thus water continually dropping wears away rocks: and iron and steel are moulded by the hands of the artificer: and chariot wheels bent by some strain can never recover their original symmetry: and the crooked staves of actors can never be made straight. But by toil what is contrary to nature becomes stronger than even nature itself. And are these the only things that teach the power of diligence? Not so: ten thousand things teach the same truth. A soil naturally good becomes by neglect barren, and the better its original condition, the worse its ultimate state if uncared for. On the other hand a soil exceedingly rough and sterile by being farmed well produces excellent crops. And what trees do not by neglect become gnarled and unfruitful, whereas by pruning they become fruitful and productive? And what constitution so good but it is marred and impaired by sloth, luxury, and too full habit? And what weak constitution has not derived benefit from exercise and athletics? And what horses broken in young are not docile to their riders? while if they are not broken in till late they become hard-mouthed and unmanageable. And why should we be surprised at similar cases, seeing that we find many of the savagest animals docile and tame by training? Rightly answered the Thessalian, who was asked who the mildest Thessalians were, "Those who have done with fighting."[7] But why pursue the line of argument further? For the Greek name for moral virtue is only habit: and if anyone defines moral virtues as habitual virtues, he will not be beside the mark. But I will employ only one more illustration, and dwell no longer on this topic. Lycurgus, the Lacedaemonian legislator, took two puppies of the same parents, and brought them up in an entirely different way: the one he pampered and cosseted up, while he taught the other to hunt and be a retriever. Then on one occasion, when the Lacedaemonians were convened in assembly, he said, "Mighty, O Lacedaemonians, is the influence on moral excellence of habit, and education, and training, and modes of life, as I will prove to you at once." So saying he produced the two puppies, and set before them a platter and a hare: the one darted on the hare, while the other made for the platter. And when the Lacedaemonians could not guess what his meaning was, or with what intent he had produced the puppies, he said, "These puppies are of the same parents, but by virtue of a different bringing up the one is pampered, and the other a good hound." Let so much suffice for habit and modes of life.

Sec. V. The next point to discuss will be nutrition. In my opinion mothers ought to nurse and suckle their own children. For they will bring them up with more sympathy and care, if they love them so intimately and, as the proverb puts it, "from their first growing their nails."[8] Whereas the affection of wet or dry nurses is spurious and counterfeit, being merely for pay. And nature itself teaches that mothers ought themselves to suckle and rear those they have given birth to. And for that purpose she has supplied every female parent with milk. And providence has wisely provided women with two breasts, so that if they should bear twins, they would have a breast for each. And besides this, as is natural enough, they would feel more affection and love for their children by suckling them. For this supplying them with food is as it were a tightener of love, for even the brute creation, if taken away from their young, pine away, as we constantly see. Mothers must therefore, as I said, certainly try to suckle their own children: but if they are unable to do so either through physical weakness (for this contingency sometimes occurs), or in haste to have other children, they must select wet and dry nurses with the greatest care, and not introduce into their houses any kind of women. First and foremost they must be Greeks in their habits. For just as it is necessary immediately after birth to shapen the limbs of children, so that they may grow straight and not crooked, so from the beginning must their habits be carefully attended to. For infancy is supple and easily moulded, and what children learn sinks deeply into their souls while they are young and tender, whereas everything hard is softened only with great difficulty. For just as seals are impressed on soft wax, so instruction leaves its permanent mark on the minds of those still young. And divine Plato seems to me to give excellent advice to nurses not to tell their children any kind of fables, that their souls may not in the very dawn of existence be full of folly or corruption.[9] Phocylides the poet also seems to give admirable advice when he says, "We must teach good habits while the pupil is still a boy."

Sec.VI. Attention also must be given to this point, that the lads that are to wait upon and be with young people must be first and foremost of good morals, and able to speak Greek distinctly and idiomatically, that they may not by contact with foreigners of loose morals contract any of their viciousness. For as those who are fond of quoting proverbs say not amiss, "If you live with a lame man, you will learn to halt."[10]

Sec.VII. Next, when our boys are old enough to be put into the hands of tutors,[11] great care must be taken that we do not hand them over to slaves, or foreigners, or flighty persons. For what happens nowadays in many cases is highly ridiculous: good slaves are made farmers, or sailors, or merchants, or stewards, or money-lenders; but if they find a winebibbing, greedy, and utterly useless slave, to him parents commit the charge of their sons, whereas the good tutor ought to be such a one as was Phoenix, the tutor of Achilles. The point also which I am now going to speak about is of the utmost importance. The schoolmasters we ought to select for our boys should be of blameless life, of pure character, and of great experience. For a good training is the source and root of gentlemanly behaviour. And just as farmers prop up their trees, so good schoolmasters prop up the young by good advice and suggestions, that they may become upright. How one must despise, therefore, some fathers, who, whether from ignorance or inexperience, before putting the intended teachers to the test, commit their sons to the charge of untried and untested men. If they act so through inexperience it is not so ridiculous; but it is to the remotest degree absurd when, though perfectly aware of both the inexperience and worthlessness of some schoolmasters, they yet entrust their sons to them; some overcome by flattery, others to gratify friends who solicit their favours; acting just as if anybody ill in body, passing over the experienced physician, should, to gratify his friend, call him in, and so throw away his life; or as if to gratify one's friend one should reject the best pilot and choose him instead. Zeus and all the gods! can anyone bearing the sacred name of father put obliging a petitioner before obtaining the best education for his sons? Were they not then wise words that the time-honoured Socrates used to utter, and say that he would proclaim, if he could, climbing up to the highest part of the city, "Men, what can you be thinking of, who move heaven and earth to make money, while you bestow next to no attention on the sons you are going to leave that money to?"[12] I would add to this that such fathers act very similarly to a person who should be very careful about his shoe but care nothing about his foot. Many persons also are so niggardly about their children, and indifferent to their interests, that for the sake of a paltry saving, they prefer worthless teachers for their children, practising a vile economy at the expense of their children's ignorance. Apropos of this, Aristippus on one occasion rebuked an empty-headed parent neatly and wittily. For being asked how much money a parent ought to pay for his son's education, he answered, "A thousand drachmae." And he replying, "Hercules, what a price! I could buy a slave for as much;" Aristippus answered, "You shall have two slaves then, your son and the slave you buy."[13] And is it not altogether strange that you accustom your son to take his food in his right hand, and chide him if he offers his left, whereas you care very little about his hearing good and sound discourses? I will tell you what happens to such admirable fathers, when they have educated and brought up their sons so badly: when the sons grow to man's estate, they disregard a sober and well-ordered life, and rush headlong into disorderly and low vices; then at the last the parents are sorry they have neglected their education, bemoaning bitterly when it is too late their sons' debasement. For some of them keep flatterers and parasites in their retinue—an accursed set of wretches, the defilers and pest of youth; others keep mistresses and common prostitutes, wanton and costly; others waste their money in eating; others come to grief through dice and revelling; some even go in for bolder profligacy, being whoremongers and defilers of the marriage bed,[14] who would madly pursue their darling vice if it cost them their lives. Had they associated with some philosopher, they would not have lowered themselves by such practices, but would have remembered the precept of Diogenes, whose advice sounds rather low, but is really of excellent moral intent,[15] "Go into a brothel, my lad, that you may see the little difference between vice and virtue."

Sec. VIII. I say, then, to speak comprehensively (and I might be justly considered in so saying to speak as an oracle, not to be delivering a mere precept), that a good education and sound bringing-up is of the first and middle and last importance; and I declare it to be most instrumental and conducive to virtue and happiness. For all other human blessings compared to this are petty and insignificant. For noble birth is a great honour, but it is an advantage from our forefathers. And wealth is valuable, but it is the acquisition of fortune, who has often taken it away from those who had it, and brought it to those who little expected it; and much wealth is a sort of mark for villanous slaves and informers to shoot at to fill their own purses; and, what is a most important point, even the greatest villains have money sometimes. And glory is noble, but insecure. And beauty is highly desirable, but shortlived. And health is highly valuable, but soon impaired. And strength is desirable, but illness or age soon made sad inroads into it. And generally speaking, if anyone prides himself on his bodily strength, let him know that he is deficient in judgment. For how much inferior is the strength of a man to that of animals, as elephants, bulls, and lions! But education is of all our advantages the only one immortal and divine. And two of the most powerful agencies in man's nature are mind and reason. And mind governs reason, and reason obeys mind; and mind is irremovable by fortune, cannot be taken away by informers, cannot be destroyed by disease, cannot have inroads made into it by old age. For the mind alone flourishes in age; and while time takes away everything else, it adds wisdom to old age. Even war, that sweeps away everything else like a winter torrent, cannot take away education. And Stilpo, the Megarian, seems to me to have made a memorable answer when Demetrius enslaved Megara and rased it to the ground. On his asking whether Stilpo had lost anything, he replied, "Certainly not, for war can make no havoc of virtue." Corresponding and consonant to this is the answer of Socrates, who when asked, I think by Gorgias,[16] if he had any conception as to the happiness of the King of Persia, replied, "I do not know his position in regard to virtue and education: for happiness lies in these, and not in adventitious advantages."

Sec. IX. And as I advise parents to think nothing more important than the education of their children, so I maintain that it must be a sound and healthy education, and that our sons must be kept as far as possible from vulgar twaddle. For what pleases the vulgar displeases the wise. I am borne out by the lines of Euripides, "Unskilled am I in the oratory that pleases the mob; but amongst the few that are my equals I am reckoned rather wise. For those who are little thought of by the wise, seem to hit the taste of the vulgar."[17] And I have myself noticed that those who practise to speak acceptably and to the gratification of the masses promiscuously, for the most part become also profligate and lovers of pleasure in their lives. Naturally enough. For if in giving pleasure to others they neglect the noble, they would be hardly likely to put the lofty and sound above a life of luxury and pleasure, and to prefer moderation to delights. Yet what better advice could we give our sons than to follow this? or to what could we better exhort them to accustom themselves? For perfection is only attained by neither speaking nor acting at random—as the proverb says, Perfection is only attained by practice.[18] Whereas extempore oratory is easy and facile, mere windbag, having neither beginning nor end. And besides their other shortcomings extempore speakers fall into great disproportion and repetition, whereas a well considered speech preserves its due proportions. It is recorded by tradition that Pericles, when called on by the people for a speech, frequently refused on the plea that he was unprepared. Similarly Demosthenes, his state-rival, when the Athenians called upon him for his advice, refused to give it, saying, "I am not prepared." But this you will say, perhaps, is mere tradition without authority. But in his speech against Midias he plainly sets forth the utility of preparation, for he says, "I do not deny, men of Athens, that I have prepared this speech to the best of my ability: for I should have been a poor creature if, after suffering so much at his hands, and even still suffering, I had neglected how to plead my case."[19] Not that I would altogether reject extempore oratory, or its use in critical cases, but it should be used only as one would take medicine.[20] Up, indeed, to man's estate I would have no extempore speaking, but when anyone's powers of speech are rooted and grounded, then, as emergencies call for it, I would allow his words to flow freely. For as those who have been for a long time in fetters stumble if unloosed, not being able to walk from being long used to their fetters, so those who for a long time have used compression in their words, if they are suddenly called upon to speak off-hand, retain the same character of expression. But to let mere lads speak extempore is to give rise to the acme of foolish talk. A wretched painter once showed Apelles, they say, a picture, and said, "I have just done it." Apelles replied, "Without your telling me, I should know it was painted quickly; I only wonder you haven't painted more such in the time." As then (for I now return from my digression), I advise to avoid stilted and bombastic language, so again do I urge to avoid a finical and petty style of speech; for tall talk is unpopular, and petty language makes no impression. And as the body ought to be not only sound but in good condition, so speech ought to be not only not feeble but vigorous. For a safe mediocrity is indeed praised, but a bold venturesomeness is also admired. I am also of the same opinion with regard to the disposition of the soul, which ought to be neither audacious nor timid and easily dejected: for the one ends in impudence and the other in servility; but to keep in all things the mean between extremes is artistic and proper. And, while I am still on this topic, I wish to give my opinion, that I regard a monotonous speech first as no small proof of want of taste, next as likely to generate disdain, and certain not to please long. For to harp on one string is always tiresome and brings satiety; whereas variety is pleasant always whether to the ear or eye.

Sec. X. Next our freeborn lad ought to go in for a course of what is called general knowledge, but a smattering of this will be sufficient, a taste as it were (for perfect knowledge of all subjects would be impossible); but he must seriously cultivate philosophy. I borrow an illustration to show my meaning: it is well to sail round many cities, but advantageous to live in the best. It was a witty remark of the philosopher Bion,[21] that, as those suitors who could not seduce Penelope took up with her maids as a pis aller, so those who cannot attain philosophy wear themselves out in useless pursuits. Philosophy, therefore, ought to be regarded as the most important branch of study. For as regards the cure of the body, men have found two branches, medicine and exercise: the former of which gives health, and the latter good condition of body; but philosophy is the only cure for the maladies and disorders of the soul. For with her as ruler and guide we can know what is honourable, what is disgraceful; what is just, what unjust; generally speaking, what is to be sought after, what to be avoided; how we ought to behave to the gods, to parents, to elders, to the laws, to foreigners, to rulers, to friends, to women, to children, to slaves: viz., that we ought to worship the gods, honour parents, reverence elders, obey the laws, submit ourselves to rulers, love our friends, be chaste in our relations with women, kind to our children, and not to treat our slaves badly; and, what is of the greatest importance, to be neither over elated in prosperity nor over depressed in adversity,[22] nor to be dissolute in pleasures, nor fierce and brutish in anger. These I regard as the principal blessings that philosophy teaches. For to enjoy prosperity nobly shows a man; and to enjoy it without exciting envy shows a moderate man; and to conquer the passions by reason argues a wise man; and it is not everybody who can keep his temper in control. And those who can unite political ability with philosophy I regard as perfect men, for I take them to attain two of the greatest blessings, serving the state in a public capacity, and living the calm and tranquil life of philosophy. For, as there are three kinds of life, the practical, the contemplative, and the life of enjoyment, and of these three the one devoted to enjoyment is a paltry and animal life, and the practical without philosophy an unlovely and harsh life, and the contemplative without the practical a useless life, so we must endeavour with all our power to combine public life with philosophy as far as circumstances will permit. Such was the life led by Pericles, by Archytas of Tarentum, by Dion of Syracuse, by Epaminondas the Theban, one of whom was a disciple of Plato (viz., Dion). And as to education, I do not know that I need dwell any more on it. But in addition to what I have said, it is useful, if not necessary, not to neglect to procure old books, and to make a collection of them, as is usual in agriculture. For the use of books is an instrument in education, and it is profitable in learning to go to the fountain head.

Sec. XI. Exercise also ought not to be neglected, but we ought to send our boys to the master of the gymnasium to train them duly, partly with a view to carrying the body well, partly with a view to strength. For good habit of body in boys is the foundation of a good old age. For as in fine weather we ought to lay up for winter, so in youth one ought to form good habits and live soberly so as to have a reserve stock of strength for old age. Yet ought we to husband the exertions of the body, so as not to be wearied out by them and rendered unfit for study. For, as Plato says,[23] excessive sleep and fatigue are enemies to learning. But why dwell on this? For I am in a hurry to pass to the most important point. Our lads must be trained for warlike encounters, making themselves efficient in hurling the javelin and darts, and in the chase. For the possessions of those who are defeated in battle belong to the conquerors as booty of war; and war is not the place for delicately brought up bodies: it is the spare warrior that makes the best combatant, who as an athlete cuts his way through the ranks of the enemies. Supposing anyone objects: "How so? As you undertook to give advice on the education of freeborn children, do you now neglect the poor and plebeian ones, and give instructions only suitable to the rich?" It is easy enough to meet such critics. I should prefer to make my teaching general and suitable to all; but if any, through their poverty, shall be unable to follow up my precepts, let them blame fortune, and not the author of these hints. We must try with all our might to procure the best education for the poor as well as the rich, but if that is impossible, then we must put up with the practicable. I inserted those matters into my discourse here, that I might hereafter confine myself to all that appertains to the right education of the young.

Sec. XII. And this I say that we ought to try to draw our boys to good pursuits by entreaties and exhortation, but certainly not by blows or abusive language. For that seems to be more fitting for slaves than the freeborn. For slaves try to shirk and avoid their work, partly because of the pain of blows, partly on account of being reviled. But praise or censure are far more useful than abuse to the freeborn, praise pricking them on to virtue, censure deterring them from vice. But one must censure and praise alternately: when they are too saucy we must censure them and make them ashamed of themselves, and again encourage them by praise, and imitate those nurses who, when their children sob, give them the breast to comfort them. But we must not puff them up and make them conceited with excessive praise, for that will make them vain and give themselves airs.

Sec. XIII. And I have ere now seen some fathers, whose excessive love for their children has turned into hatred. My meaning I will endeavour to make clearer by illustration. While they are in too great a hurry to make their sons take the lead in everything, they lay too much work upon them, so that they faint under their tasks, and, being overburdened, are disinclined for learning. For just as plants grow with moderate rain, but are done for by too much rain, so the mind enlarges by a proper amount of work, but by too much is unhinged. We must therefore give our boys remission from continuous labour, bearing in mind that all our life is divided into labour and rest; thus we find not only wakefulness but sleep, not only war but peace, not only foul weather but fine also, not only working days but also festivals. And, to speak concisely, rest is the sauce of labour. And we can see this not only in the case of animate, but even inanimate things, for we make bows and lyres slack that we may be able to stretch them. And generally the body is preserved by repletion and evacuation, and the soul by rest and work. We ought also to censure some fathers who, after entrusting their sons to tutors and preceptors, neither see nor hear how the teaching is done. This is a great mistake. For they ought after a few days to test the progress of their sons, and not to base their hopes on the behaviour of a hireling; and the preceptors will take all the more pains with the boys, if they have from time to time to give an account of their progress. Hence the propriety of that remark of the groom, that nothing fats the horse so much as the king's eye.[24] And especial attention, in my opinion, must be paid to cultivating and exercising the memory of boys, for memory is, as it were, the storehouse of learning; and that was why they fabled Mnemosyne to be the mother of the Muses, hinting and insinuating that nothing so generates and contributes to the growth of learning as memory. And therefore the memory must be cultivated, whether boys have a good one by nature, or a bad one. For we shall so add to natural good parts, and make up somewhat for natural deficiencies, so that the deficient will be better than others, and the clever will outstrip themselves. For good is that remark of Hesiod, "If to a little you keep adding a little, and do so frequently, it will soon be a lot."[25] And let not fathers forget, that thus cultivating the memory is not only good for education, but is also a great aid in the business of life. For the remembrance of past actions gives a good model how to deal wisely in future ones.

Sec. XIV. We must also keep our sons from filthy language. For, as Democritus says, Language is the shadow of action. They must also be taught to be affable and courteous. For as want of affability is justly hateful, so boys will not be disagreeable to those they associate with, if they yield occasionally in disputes. For it is not only excellent to know how to conquer, but also to know how to be defeated, when victory would be injurious, for there is such a thing as a Cadmean victory.[26] I can cite wise Euripides as a witness of the truth of what I say, who says, "When two are talking, and one of them is in a passion, he is the wiser who first gives way."[27]

I will next state something quite as important, indeed, if anything, even more important. That is, that life must be spent without luxury, the tongue must be under control, so must the temper and the hands. All this is of extreme importance, as I will show by examples. To begin with the last case, some who have put their hands to unjust gains, have lost all the fruits of their former life, as the Lacedaemonian Gylippus,[28] who was exiled from Sparta for embezzling the public money. To be able to govern the temper also argues a wise man. For Socrates, when a very impudent and disgusting young fellow kicked him on one occasion, seeing all the rest of his class vexed and impatient, even to the point of wanting to prosecute the young man, said, "What! If a young ass kicked me would you have me kick it back?" Not that the young fellow committed this outrage on Socrates with impunity, for as all reviled him and nicknamed him the kicker, he hung himself. And when Aristophanes brought his "Clouds" on the stage, and bespattered Socrates with his gibes and flouts, and one of the spectators said, "Aren't you vexed, Socrates, at his exhibiting you on the stage in this comic light?" he answered, "Not I, by Zeus, for I look upon the theatre as only a large supper party."[29] Very similar to this was the behaviour of Archytas of Tarentum and Plato. The former, on his return from war, where he had been general, finding his land neglected, called his bailiff, and said to him, "You would have caught it, had I not been very angry." And Plato, very angry with a gluttonous and shameless slave, called his sister's son Speusippus, and said, "Go and beat him, for I am too angry." But someone will say, these examples are difficult and hard to follow. I know it. But we must try, as far as possible, following these examples, to avoid ungovernable and mad rage. For we cannot in other respects equal those distinguished men in their ability and virtue, nevertheless we must, like initiating priests of the gods and torchbearers of wisdom, attempt as far as possible to imitate and nibble at their practice. Then, again, if anyone thinks it a small and unimportant matter to govern the tongue, another point I promised to touch on, he is very far from the reality. For silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech. And that is, I think, the reason why the ancients instituted the mysteries that we, learning therein to be silent, might transfer our secrecy to the gods to human affairs. And no one ever yet repented of his silence, while multitudes have repented of their speaking. And what has not been said is easy to say, while what has been once said can never be recalled. I have heard of myriads who have fallen into the greatest misfortunes through inability to govern their tongues. Passing over the rest, I will mention one or two cases in point. When Ptolemy Philadelphus married his sister Arsinoe, Sotades said, "You are contracting an unholy marriage."[30] For this speech he long lingered in prison, and paid the righteous penalty for his unseasonable babbling, and had to weep a long time for making others laugh. Theocritus the Sophist similarly cracked his jokes, and had to pay even a greater penalty. For when Alexander ordered the Greeks to furnish him with purple robes to wear at the sacrifices on his triumphal return from war against the barbarians, and his subjects contributed so much per head, Theocritus said, "Before I doubted, but now I am sure, that this is the purple death Homer speaks of."[31] By this speech he made Alexander his enemy. The same Theocritus put Antigonus, the King of the Macedonians, a one-eyed man, into a thundering rage by alluding to his misfortune. For the King sent his chief cook, Eutropio, an important person at his court, to go and fetch Theocritus before him to confer with him, and when he had frequently requested him to come without avail, Theocritus at last said, "I know well you wish to serve me up raw to the Cyclops;" flouting the King as one-eyed and the cook with his profession. Eutropio replied, "You shall lose your head, and pay the penalty for this babbling and mad insolence;" and reported his words to the King, who sent and had his head taken off. Our boys must also be taught to speak the truth as a most sacred duty; for to lie is servile, and most hateful in all men, hardly to be pardoned even in poor slaves.

Sec. XV. Thus much have I said about the good conduct and self-control of boys without any doubt or hesitation: but as to what I am now going to say I am doubtful and undecided, and like a person weighed in the scales against exactly his weight, and feel great hesitation as to whether I should recommend or dissuade the practice. But I must speak out. The question is this—whether we ought to let the lovers of our boys associate and be with them, or on the contrary, debar them from their company and scare them off. For when I look at fathers self-opinionated sour and austere, who think their sons having lovers a disgrace not to be borne, I am rather afraid of recommending the practice. But when, on the other hand, I think of Socrates, Xenophon, AEschines, Cebes, and all the company of those men who have approved of male loves, and who have introduced their minions to learning, to high positions in the State, and to good morals, I change my opinion, and am moved to emulate those men. And Euripides seems to favour these views in the passage, "But there is among mortals another love, that of the righteous temperate and pure soul."[32] Nor must we omit the remark of Plato, which seems to mix seriousness with mirth, that "those who have distinguished themselves ought to be permitted to kiss any handsome boy they like."[33] Those then that seek only carnal enjoyment must be kept off, but those that love the soul must be encouraged. And while the loves common at Thebes and Elis, and the so-called rape at Crete, must be avoided, the loves of Athens and Lacedaemon should be emulated.

Sec. XVI. As to this matter, therefore, let every parent follow his inclination. And now, as I have spoken about the good and decent behaviour of boys, I shall change my subject and speak a little about youths. For I have often censured the introducers of bad habits, who have set over boys tutors and preceptors, but have given to youths full liberty, when they ought, on the contrary, to have watched and guarded them more than boys. For who does not know that the offences of boys are petty and easily cured, and proceed from the carelessness of tutors or want of obedience to preceptors; but the faults of young men are often grave and serious, as gluttony, and robbing their fathers, and dice, and revellings, and drinking-bouts, and deflowering of maidens, and seducing of married women. Such outbreaks ought to be carefully checked and curbed. For that prime of life is prodigal in pleasure, and frisky, and needs a bridle, so that those parents who do not strongly check that period, are foolishly, if unawares, giving their youths license for vice.[34] Sensible parents, therefore, ought during all that period to guard and watch and restrain their youths, by precepts, by threats, by entreaties, by advice, by promises, by citing examples,[35] on the one hand, of those who have come to ruin by being too fond of pleasure, on the other hand, of those who by their self-control have attained to praise and good report. For these are, as it were, the two elements of virtue, hope of honour, and fear of punishment; the former inciting to good practices, the latter deterring from bad.

Sec. XVII. We ought, at all hazards, to keep our boys also from association with bad men, for they will catch some of their villany. This was the meaning of Pythagoras' enigmatical precepts, which I shall quote and explain, as they give no slight momentum towards the acquisition of virtue: as, Do not touch black tails: that is, do not associate with bad men.[36] Do not go beyond the balance: that is, we must pay the greatest attention to justice and not go beyond it. Do not sit on a measure: that is, do not be lazy, but earn tomorrow's bread as well as to-day's. Do not give everyone your right hand: that is, do not be too ready to strike up a friendship. Do not wear a tight ring: that is, let your life be free, do not bind yourself by a chain. Do not poke the fire with a sword: that is, do not provoke an angry person, but yield to such. Do not eat the heart: do not wear away the heart by anxiety. Abstain from beans: that is, do not meddle in state affairs, for the voting for offices was formerly taken by beans. Do not put your food in the chamber-pot: that is, do not throw your pearls before swine, for words are the food of the mind, and the villany of men twist them to a corrupt meaning. When you have come to the end of a journey do not look back: that is, when people are going to die and see that their end is near, they ought to take it easily and not be dejected. But I will return from my digression. We must keep our boys, as I said, from association with all bad men, but especially from flatterers. For, as I have often said to parents, and still say, and will constantly affirm, there is no race more pestilential, nor more sure to ruin youths swiftly, than the race of flatterers, who destroy both parents and sons root and branch, making the old age of the one and the youth of the others miserable, holding out pleasure as a sure bait. The sons of the rich are by their fathers urged to be sober, but by them to be drunk; by their fathers to be chaste, by them to wax wanton; by their fathers to save, by them to spend; by their fathers to be industrious, by them to be lazy. For they say, "'Our life's but a span;'[37] we can only live once; why should you heed your father's threats? he's an old twaddler, he has one foot in the grave; we shall soon hoist him up and carry him off to burial." Some even pimp for them and supply them with prostitutes or even married women, and cut huge slices off the father's savings for old age, if they don't run off with them altogether. An accursed tribe, feigning friendship, knowing nothing of real freedom, flatterers of the rich, despisers of the poor, drawn to young men by a sort of natural logic,[38] showing their teeth and grinning all over when their patrons laugh,[39] misbegotten brats of fortune and bastard elements in life, living according to the nod of the rich, free in their circumstances, but slaves by inclination, when they are not insulted thinking themselves insulted, because they are parasites to no purpose. So, if any father cares for the good bringing-up of his sons, he must banish from his house this abominable race. He must also be on his guard against the viciousness of his sons' schoolfellows, for they are quite sufficient to corrupt the best morals.

Sec. XVIII. What I have said hitherto is apropos to my subject: I will now speak a word to the men. Parents must not be over harsh and rough in their natures, but must often forgive their sons' offences, remembering that they themselves were once young. And just as doctors by infusing a sweet flavour into their bitter potions find delight a passage to benefit, so fathers must temper the severity of their censure by mildness; and sometimes relax and slacken the reins of their sons' desires, and again tighten them; and must be especially easy in respect to their faults, or if they are angry must soon cool down. For it is better for a father to be hot-tempered than sullen, for to continue hostile and irreconcilable looks like hating one's son. And it is good to seem not to notice some faults, but to extend to them the weak sight and deafness of old age, so as seeing not to see, and hearing not to hear, their doings. We tolerate the faults of our friends; why should we not that of our sons? often even our slaves' drunken debauches we do not expose. Have you been rather near? spend more freely. Have you been vexed? let the matter pass. Has your son deceived you by the help of a slave? do not be angry. Did he take a yoke of oxen from the field, did he come home smelling of yesterday's debauch? wink at it. Is he scented like a perfume shop? say nothing. Thus frisky youth gets broken in.[40]

Sec. XIX. Those of our sons who are given to pleasure and pay little heed to rebuke, we must endeavour to marry, for marriage is the surest restraint upon youth. And we must marry our sons to wives not much richer or better born, for the proverb is a sound one, "Marry in your own walk of life."[41] For those who marry wives superior to themselves in rank are not so much the husbands of their wives as unawares slaves to their dowries.[42]

Sec. XX. I shall add a few remarks, and then bring my subject to a close. Before all things fathers must, by a good behaviour, set a good example to their sons, that, looking at their lives as a mirror, they may turn away from bad deeds and words. For those fathers who censure their sons' faults while they themselves commit the same, are really their own accusers, if they know it not, under their sons' name; and those who live a depraved life have no right to censure their slaves, far less their sons. And besides this they will become counsellors and teachers of their sons in wrongdoing; for where old men are shameless youths will of a certainty have no modesty. We must therefore take all pains to teach our sons self-control, emulating the conduct of Eurydice, who, though an Illyrian and more than a barbarian, to teach her sons educated herself though late in life, and her love to them is well depicted in the inscription which she offered to the Muses: "Eurydice of Hierapolis made this offering to the Muses, having conceived a vast love for knowledge. For when a mother with sons full-grown she learnt letters, the preservers of knowledge."

To carry out all these precepts would be perhaps a visionary scheme; but to attain to many, though it would need a happy disposition and much care, is a thing possible to human nature.[43]

[3] Euripides, "Here. Fur." 1261, 1262.

[4] Euripides, "Hippol." 424, 425.

[5] Cleophantus is the name given to this lad by other writers.

[6] Compare Sophocles, "Oedipus Tyrannus," 112, 113.

[7] The Thessalians were very pugnacious. Cf. Isocrates, "Oratio de Pace," p. 316. [Greek: ohi men (Thettaloi) sphisin autois haei polemousin].

[8] A proverbial expression among the ancients for earliest childhood. See Erasmus, "Adagia."

[9] Plato, "Republic," ii. p. 429, E.

[10] See Erasmus, "Adagia."

[11] It is difficult to know how to render the word [Greek: paidagogos] in English. He was the slave who took the boy to school, and generally looked after him from his seventh year upward. Tutor or governor seems the best rendering. He had great power over the boy entrusted to him.

[12] Plato, "Clitophon," p. 255, D.

[13] Compare Diogenes Laertius, ii. 72.

[14] Reading [Greek: koitophthorountes], the excellent emendation of Wyttenbach.

[15] From the heathen standpoint of course, not from the Christian. Compare the advice of Cato in Horace's "Satires," Book i. Sat. ii. 31-35. It is a little difficult to know what Diogenes' precept really means. Is it that vice is universal? Like Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure," Act ii. Sc. ii. 5. "All sects, all ages smack of this vice."

[16] He was asked by Polus, see Plato, "Gorgias," p. 290, F.

[17] "Hippolytus," 986-989.

[18] Cf. Plato, "Cratylus," p. 257, E. [Greek: o pai Hipponikou Hermogenes, palaia paroimia, oti chalepa ta kala estin ope echei mathein]. So Horace, "Sat." i. ix. 59, 60, "Nil sine magno Vita labore dedit mortalibus."

[19] "Midias," p. 411, C.

[20] i.e., occasionally and sparingly.

[21] Diogenes Laertius assigns the remark to Aristippus, while Stobaeus fathers it on Aristo.

[22] A favourite thought with the ancients. Compare Isocrates, "Admonitio ad Demonicum," p. 18; and Aristotle, "Nic. Eth.," iv. 3.

[23] "Republic," vii. p. 489, E.

[24] A famous Proverb. It is "the master's eye" generally, as in Xenophon, "Oeconom." xii. 20; and Aristotle, "Oeconom." i. 6.

[25] "Works and Days," 361, 362. The lines were favourite ones with our author. He quotes them again, Sec. 3, of "How one may be aware of one's Progress in Virtue."

[26] See Pausanias, ix. 9. Also Erasmus, "Adagia."

[27] A fragment from the "Protesilaus" of Euripides. Our "It takes two to make a quarrel."

[28] See Plutarch's Lysander.

[29] Or symposium, where all sorts of liberties were taken.

[30] I have softened his phrase. His actual words were very coarse, and would naturally be resented by Ptolemy. See Athenaeus, 621, A.

[31] See "Iliad," v. 83; xvi. 334; xx, 477.

[32] A fragment from the "Dictys" of Euripides.

[33] "Republ." v. 463, F. sq.

[34] Cf. Shakespeare's "Winter Tale," Act iii. sc. iii. 59-63.

[35] As Horace's father did. See "Satires," Book i. Sat. iv. 105-129.

[36] What we call black sheep.

[37] From Simonides. Cf. Seneca, "Epist." xlix. "Punctum est quod vivimus, et adhuc puncto minus."

[38] Reading with Wyttenbach, [Greek: hos ek logikes technes.]

[39] Like Carker in Dombey.

[40] Compare the character of Micio in the "Adelphi" of Terence.

[41] This saying is assigned by Diogenes Laertius to Pittacus.

[42] Compare Plautus, "Asinaria," i. l. 74. "Argentum accepi: dote imperum vendidi." Compare also our author, "Whether Vice is sufficient to cause Unhappiness," Sec. i.

[43] Wyttenbach thinks this treatise is not Plutarch's. He bases his conclusion partly on external, partly on internal, grounds. It is not quoted by Stobaeus, or any of the ancients, before the fourteenth century. And its style is not Plutarch's; it has many words foreign to Plutarch: it has "nescio quid novum ac peregrinum, ab illa Plutarchea copia et gravitate diversum leve et inane." Certainly its matter is superior to its manner.



ON LOVE TO ONE'S OFFSPRING.

Sec. I. Appeals to foreign law-courts were first devised among the Greeks through mistrust of one another's justice, for they looked on justice as a necessity not indigenous among them. Is it not on much the same principle that the philosophers, in regard to some of their questions, owing to their variety of opinion, have appealed to the brute creation as to a strange state, and submitted the decision to their instincts and habits as not to be talked over and impartial? Or is it a general charge against human infirmity that, having different opinions on the most necessary and important things, we seek in horses and dogs and birds how to marry and beget and rear children, as though we had no means of making our own nature known, and appeal to the habits and instincts of the brute creation, and call them in to bear witness against the many deviations from nature in our lives, which from the first are confused and disorderly. For among the brutes nature remains ever the same, pure and simple, but in men, owing to reason and habit, like oil in the hands of the perfumers, being mixed up with many added opinions, it becomes various and loses its original simplicity. And let us not wonder that the brutes follow nature more closely than human beings, for in that respect even they are outstripped by inanimate things, which, being dowered neither with imagination nor any appetite or inclination contrary to nature, ever continue in the one path which nature has prescribed for them, as if they were tied and bound. But in brutes the gentleness of mood inspired by reason, the subtlety, the love of freedom, are not qualities found in excess, but they have unreasonable appetites and desires, and act in a roundabout way within certain limits, riding, as it were, at the anchor of nature, and only going straight under bit and bridle. But in man reason, which is absolute master, inventing different modes and fashions of life, has left no plain or evident trace of nature.[44]

Sec. II. Consider in their marriages how much the animals follow nature. For they do not wait for any legislation about bachelor or late-married, like the citizens of Lycurgus and Solon, nor do they fear penalties for childlessness, nor are they anxious for the jus trium liberorum,[45] like many of the Romans, who only marry and have children for the privileges it bestows, not to have heirs, but to be qualified for succeeding themselves to inheritances. Then, again, the male animal does not go with the female at all times; for its aim is not pleasure but procreation: so in the season of spring, the most appropriate time for such pairings,[46] the female being submissive and tender attracts the male by her beautiful condition of body, coming as she does from the dew and fresh pastures, and when pregnant modestly retires and takes thought for the birth and safety of her offspring. We cannot adequately describe all this, but every animal exhibits for its young affection and forethought and endurance and unselfishness. We call the bee wise, and celebrate its "making the yellow honey,"[47] flattering it for its tickling sweetness; but we neglect the wisdom and ingenuity of other creatures, both as regards the birth and bringing up of their young. For example, the kingfisher after conception weaves its nest with the thorns of the marine needle, making it round and oblong in shape like a fisherman's basket, and after deftly and closely weaving it together, subjects it to the action of the sea waves, that its surface may be rendered waterproof by this plash and cement, and it is hard for even iron or stone to break it. And what is more wonderful still, so symmetrically is the entrance of the nest adjusted to the kingfisher's shape and size, that no beast either greater or smaller can enter it, they even say that it does not admit the sea, or even the very smallest things. And cats, when they breed, very often let their kittens go out and feed, and take them back into their entrails again.[48] And the bear, a most savage and ugly beast, gives birth to its young without shape or joints, and with its tongue as with an instrument moulds its features, so that it seems to give form as well as life to its progeny. And the lion in Homer, "whom the hunters meet in the wood with its whelps, exulting in its strength, which so frowns that it hides its eyes,"[49] does it not intend to bargain with the hunters for its whelps? For universally the love of animals for their offspring makes timid ones bold, and lazy ones energetic, and greedy ones unselfish. And so the bird in Homer, feeding its young "with its beak, with whatever it has captured, even though it goes ill with itself,"[50] nourishes its young at the cost of its own hunger, and when the food is near its maw abstains from it, and holds it tightly in its mouth, that it may not gulp it down unawares. "And so a bitch bestriding her tender pups, barks at a strange man, and yearns for the fray,"[51] making her fear for them a sort of second anger. And partridges when they are pursued with their young let them fly on, and, contriving their safety, themselves fly so near the sportsmen as to be almost caught, and then wheel round, and again fly back and make the sportsmen hope to catch them, till at last, having thus provided for the safety of their young, they lead the sportsmen on a long way. As to hens, we see every day how they watch over their chicks, dropping their wings over some, and letting others climb on their backs, or anywhere about them, and clucking for joy all the time: and though they fly from dogs and dragons when only afraid for themselves, if they are afraid for their chicks they stand their ground and fight valiantly. Are we to suppose then that nature has only implanted these instincts in fowls and dogs and bears, anxious only about their offspring, to put us mortals out of countenance and to give us a bad name? considering these examples for us to follow, while disgrace justly attaches to our inhumanity, for mankind only is accused of having no disinterested affection, and of not knowing how to love except in regard to advantage. For that line is greatly admired in the theatres, "Man loves man only for reward," and is the view of Epicurus, who thinks that the father so loves his son, the mother her child, children their parents. Whereas, if the brutes could understand conversation, and if anyone were to introduce horses and cows and dogs and birds into a common theatre,[52] and were to change the sentiment into "neither do dogs love their pups, nor horses their foals, nor birds their young, out of interest, but gratuitously and by nature," it would be recognized by the affections of all of them to be a true sentiment. Why it would be disgraceful, great God, that birth and travail and procreation should be gratis and mere nature among the beasts, while among mankind they should be merely mercenary transactions!

Sec. III. But such a statement is not true or worthy of credit. For as nature, in wild growths, such as wild vines, wild figs, or wild olives, makes the fruit imperfect and inferior to the fruit of cultivated trees, so has she given to the brutes an imperfect affection for their kind, one neither marked by justice nor going beyond commodity: whereas to man, a logical and social animal, she has taught justice and law, and honour to the gods, and building of cities, and philanthropy, and has contributed the noble and goodly and fruitful seeds of all these in love to one's offspring, thereby following the very first elements that are found in the construction of the body. For nature is everywhere perfect and artistic and complete, and, to borrow the expression of Erasistratus, has nothing tawdry about her: but one cannot adequately describe all the processes appertaining to birth, nor would it be perhaps decent to pry too closely into such hidden matters, and to particularize too minutely all their wondrous ingenuity. But her contrivance and dispensation of milk alone is sufficient to prove nature's wonderful care and forethought. For all the superfluous blood in women, that owing to their languor and thinness of spirit floats about on the surface and oppresses them, has a safety-valve provided by nature in the menses, which relieve and cleanse the rest of the body, and fit the womb for conception in due season. But after conception nature stops the menses, and arrests the flow of the blood, using it as aliment for the babe in the womb, until the time arrives for its birth, and it requires a different kind of food. At this stage the blood is most ingeniously changed into a supply of milk, not diffused all over the body, but externally in the breasts, so that the babe can with its mouth imbibe the gentle and soothing nutriment.[53] But all these various processes of nature, all this economy, all this forethought, would be useless, had not nature also implanted in mothers love to their offspring and anxiety for their welfare.

"For of all things, that on the earth do breathe Or creep, man is by far the wretchedest."[54]

And the poet's words are especially applicable to a newborn babe. For there is nothing so imperfect, so helpless, so naked, so shapeless, so foul as a newborn babe: to whom almost alone nature has given an impure outlet to the light of day: being kneaded with blood, and full of defilement, and like one killed rather than born: which no one would touch, or lift up, or kiss, or embrace, but from natural affection. And that is why all the animals have their udders under the belly, women alone have their breasts high on their bodies, that they can lift up their babes to kiss, to dandle, and to fondle: seeing that their bearing and rearing children comes not from necessity but love.

Sec. IV. Refer the question to the ancient inhabitants of the earth, to the first mothers and fathers. There was no law ordering them to have families, no expectation of advantage or return to be got out of them. I should rather say that mothers would be likely to be hostile and bear malice to their babes, owing to the great danger and pains of travail. And women say the lines, "When the sharp pangs of travail seize on the pregnant woman, then come to her aid the Ilithyiae, who help women in hard childbirth, those daughters of Hera, goddesses of travail,"[55] were not written by Homer, but by some Homerid who had been a mother, or was even then in the throes of travail, and who vividly felt the sharp pain in her womb. But the love to one's offspring implanted by nature, moves and influences the mother even then: in the very height of her throes, she neglects not nor flees from her babe, but turns to it and smiles at it, and takes it up and caresses it, though she derives no pleasure or utility from it, but with pain and sorrow receives it, "warming it and fostering it in swaddling clothes, with unintermittent assiduity both night and day."[56] What hope of gain or advantage had they in those days? nay, or even now? for the hopes of parents are uncertain, and have to be long waited for. He who plants a vine in the spring equinox, gleans its vintage in the autumnal equinox; he who sows corn when the Pleiads set, reaps it when they rise; cattle and horses and birds have produce at once fit for use; whereas man's bringing up is toilsome, his growth slow; and as excellence flowers late, most fathers die before their sons attain to fame. Neocles lived not to see Themistocles' victory at Salamis, nor Miltiades Cimon's at the Eurymedon, nor did Xanthippus hear Pericles haranguing, nor did Aristo hear Plato philosophizing, nor did their fathers know of the triumphs of Euripides and Sophocles. They heard them faltering in speech and lisping in syllables, the poor parents saw their errors in revelling and drinking and love-affairs, so that of all Evenus'[57] lines, that one alone is most remembered and quoted, "to a father a son is always a cause of fear or pain." Nevertheless, parents do not cease to bring up sons, even when they can least need them. For it is ridiculous to suppose that the rich, when they have sons, sacrifice and rejoice that they will have people to take care of them and to bury them; unless indeed they bring up sons from want of heirs; as if one could not find or fall in with anyone who would be willing to have another's property! Why, the sand on the sea shore, and the dust, and the wings of birds of varied note, are less numerous than the number of would-be heirs. For had Danaus, the father of fifty daughters, been childless, he would have had more heirs, and of a different spirit. For sons have no gratitude, nor regard, nor veneration for inheritance; but take it as a debt; whereas the voices of strangers which you hear round the childless man, are like those lines in the play, "O People, first bathe, after one decision in the courts, then eat, drink, gobble, take the three-obol-piece."[58] And what Euripides has said, "Money finds friends for men, and has the greatest power among mankind," is not merely a general truth, but is especially true in the case of the childless. For those the rich entertain to dinner, those great men pay court to, to those alone orators give their services gratis. "A mighty personage is a rich man, whose heir is unknown." It has at any rate made many much loved and honoured, whom the possession of one child would have made unloved and insignificant. Whence we see that there is no power or advantage to be got from children, but that the love of them, alike in mankind as among the animals, proceeds entirely from nature.

Sec. V. What if this natural affection, like many other virtues, is obscured by badness, as a wilderness chokes a garden? Are we to say that man does not love himself by nature, because many cut their throats or throw themselves down precipices? Did not Oedipus put out his eyes? And did not Hegesias by his speeches make, many of his hearers to commit suicide?[59] "Fatality has many different aspects."[60] But all these are diseases and maladies of the soul driving a man contrary to nature out of his wits: as men themselves testify even against themselves. For if a sow destroys one of its litter, or a bitch one of its pups, men are dejected and troubled, and think it an evil omen, and sacrifice to the gods to avert any bad results, on the score that it is natural to all to love and cherish their offspring, unnatural to destroy it. For just as in mines the gold is conspicuous even though mixed up with earth, so nature manifests plainly love to offspring even in instances of faulty habits and affections. For when the poor do not rear their children, it is from fear that if reared to man's estate they would be more than ought to be the case servile, and have little culture, and be debarred of all advantages: so, thinking poverty the worst of all evils, they cannot bear to give it their children, any more than they would some bad disease.[61]

[44] Much of this is very corrupt in the Greek. I have tried to get the best sense I could; but it is very obscure. Certainly Plutarch's style is often very harsh and crabbed.

[45] The jus trium liberorum assigned certain privileges to the father of three children, under the Roman Emperors. Frequent allusions are made to this law by the ancient writers.

[46] Compare Lucretius, i. 10-20.

[47] A quotation from Simonides.

[48] We are not bound to swallow all the ancients tell us. Credat Judaeus Apella!

[49] "Iliad," xvii. 134-136.

[50] "Iliad," ix. 324. Quoted again in "How one may be aware of one's Progress in Virtue," Sec. 8.

[51] "Odyssey," xx. 14, 15.

[52] A theatre, that is, in which animals and birds and human beings should meet in common.

[53] All that is said here about the milk, the menses, and the blood, I have been obliged somewhat to condense and paraphrase. The ancients sometimes speak more plainly than we can. Ever and anon one must pare down a phrase or word in translating an ancient author. It is inevitable. Verbum sat sapienti.

[54] Homer, "Iliad," xvii. 446, 447.

[55] Ibid. xi. 269-271.

[56] A fragment from Euripides, according to Xylander.

[57] Evenus of Paros was an Elegiac Poet.

[58] Aristophanes, "Equites," 50, 51.

[59] See Cicero "Tuscul." i. 34.

[60] Euripides, "Alcestis," 1159; "Helena," 1688; "Andromache," 1284; "Bacchae," 1388.

[61] The discourse breaks off abruptly. It is directed against the Epicureans. It throws ridicule on appealing to the affection of brutes for their offspring instead of appealing to human nature.



ON LOVE.

FLAVIANUS AND AUTOBULUS, THE OPENERS OF THE DIALOGUE, ARE BROTHERS. THE OTHER SPEAKERS ARE THEIR FATHER, DAPHNAEUS, PROTOGENES, PISIAS, AND OTHERS.

I. Flavianus.—You say that it was on Mount Helicon, Autobulus, that those conversations took place about Love, which you are now about to narrate to us at our request, as you either wrote them down, or at least remember them from frequently asking our father about them.

Autobulus.—It was on Mount Helicon among the Muses, Flavianus, when the people of Thespiae were celebrating their Festival to the God of Love, which they celebrate very magnificently and splendidly every five years to that God, as also to the Muses.

Flavianus.—Do you know what all of us who have come to this audience intend to ask of you?

Autobulus.—No, but I shall know if you tell me.

Flavianus.—Remove from your discourse for this once the poet's meadows and shades, and talk about ivy and yews, and all other commonplaces of that kind that writers love to introduce, with more zeal than discretion, in imitation of Plato's Ilissus and the famous willow and the gentle slope of grass.[62]

Autobulus.—My dear Flavianus, my narrative needs not any such exordium. The occasion that caused the conversation simply demands a chorus for the action and a stage, nothing else is wanting to the drama, let us only pray to the Mother of the Muses to be propitious, and give me memory for my narrative.

Sec. II. Long ago our father, before we were born, having lately married our mother, had gone to sacrifice to the God of Love, in consequence of a dispute and variance that broke out among their parents, and took our mother to the Festival, for she also had her part in the vow and sacrifice. Some of their intimate friends journeyed with them from the town where they lived, and when they got to Thespiae they found there Daphnaeus the son of Archidamus, a lover of Lysandra the daughter of Simo, and of all her suitors the one who stood highest in her favour, and Soclarus the son of Aristio, who had come from Tithorea. And there were there also Protogenes of Tarsus, and Zeuxippus from Sparta, strangers, and my father said most of the most notable Boeotians were there also. For two or three days they went about the town in one another's company, as it was likely they would do, quietly carrying on philosophical discussions in the wrestling-schools and theatres: after that, to avoid a wearisome contest of harpers, decided beforehand by canvassing and cabal, most broke up their camp as if they had been in a hostile country, and removed to Mount Helicon, and bivouacked there with the Muses. In the morning they were visited by Anthemion and Pisias, both men of good repute, and very great friends of Baccho, who was surnamed the Handsome, and also rivals of one another somewhat through their affection for him. Now you must know that there was at Thespiae a lady called Ismenodora, famous for her wealth and good family, and of uncommon good repute for her virtuous life: for she had been a widow some time without a breath of slander lighting upon her, though she was young and good-looking. As Baccho was the son of a friend and crony of hers, she had tried to bring about a marriage between him and a maiden who was her own relation, but by frequently being in his company and talking to him she had got rather smitten with him herself. And hearing much in his favour, and often talking about him, and seeing that many noble young men were in love with him, she fell violently in love with him, and, being resolved to do nothing unbecoming to her fair fame, determined to marry and live openly with him. And the matter seeming in itself rather odd, Baccho's mother looked rather askance at the proposed matrimonial alliance as being too high and splendid for her son, while some of his companions who used to go out hunting with him, frightening him and flouting him with Ismenodora's being rather too old for him, really did more to break off the match than those who seriously opposed it. And Baccho, being only a youth, somehow felt a little ashamed at the idea of marrying a widow, but, neglecting the opinions of everybody else, he submitted the decision as to the expediency of the marriage to Pisias and Anthemion, the latter being his cousin, though older than him, and the former the gravest[63] of his lovers. Pisias objected to the marriage, and upbraided Anthemion with throwing the youth away on Ismenodora. Anthemion replied that it was not well in Pisias, being a good fellow in other respects, to imitate depraved lovers by shutting out his friend from house and marriage and wealth, merely that he might enjoy the sight of him as long as possible naked and in all his virgin bloom at the wrestling-schools.

Sec. III. To avoid getting estranged by provoking one another on the question, they came and chose our father and his companions as umpires on the matter. And of the other friends, as if by concerted arrangement, Daphnaeus espoused the view of Anthemion, and Protogenes the view of Pisias. And Protogenes inveighing somewhat too freely against Ismenodora, Daphnaeus took him up and said, "Hercules, what are we not to expect, if Protogenes is going to be hostile to love? he whose whole life, whether in work or at play, has been devoted to love, in forgetfulness of letters, in forgetfulness of his country, not like Laius, away from his country only five days, his was only a torpid and land love: whereas your love 'unfolding its swift wings,' flew over the sea from Cilicia to Athens, merely to gaze at and saunter about with handsome boys. For that was the original reason, doubtless, of Protogenes' journey abroad."

Sec. IV. And some laughter ensuing, Protogenes replied, "Do I really seem to you now to be hostile to love, and not to be fighting for love against ungovernable lust, which with most disgraceful acts and emotions assumes the most honourable of titles?" Whereupon Daphnaeus, "Do you call the marriage and union of man and woman most disgraceful, than which no holier tie exists nor ever did?" Protogenes replied, "Why, as all this is necessary for the human race to continue, our legislators do not act amiss in crying up marriage and eulogizing it to the masses, but of genuine love there is not a particle in the woman's side of a house;[64] and I also say that you who are sweet on women and girls only love them as flies love milk, and bees the honey-comb, and butchers and cooks calves and birds, fattening them up in darkness.[65] But as nature leads one to eat and drink moderately and sufficiently, and excess in this is called gluttony and gormandizing, so the mutual desires between men and women are natural; but that headlong, violent, and uncontrollable passion for the sex is not rightly called love. For love, when it seizes a noble and young soul, ends in virtue through friendship; but these violent passions for women, at the best, aim only at carnal enjoyment and reaping the harvest of a beauteous prime, as Aristippus showed in his answer to one who told him Lais loved him not, 'No more,' he said, 'do meat and wine love me, but I gladly enjoy both.'[66] For the end of passion is pleasure and fruition: but love, when it has once lost the promise of friendship, will not remain and continue to cherish merely for beauty that which gives it pain, where it gives no return of friendship and virtue. You remember the husband in the play saying to his wife, 'Do you hate me? I can bear that hatred very easily, since of my dishonour I make money.' Not a whit more really in love than this husband is the one, who, not for gain but merely for the sexual appetite, puts up with a peevish and unsympathetic wife, as Philippides, the comic poet, ridiculed the orator, Stratocles, 'You scarce can kiss her if she turns her back on you.' If, however, we ought to give the name of love to this passion, then is it an effeminate and bastard love, and like at Cynosarges,[67] taking us to the woman's side of the house: or rather as they say there is a genuine mountain eagle, which Homer called 'black, and a bird of prey,' and there are other kinds of spurious eagles, which catch fish and lazy birds in marshes, and often in want of food emit an hungry wail: so the genuine love is the love of boys, a love not 'flashing with desire,' as Anacreon said the love of maidens was, nor 'redolent of ointment and sprightly,' but you will see it plain and without airs in the schools of the philosophers, or perhaps in the gymnasiums and wrestling-schools, keenly and nobly pursuing youths, and urging on to virtue those who are well worthy of attention: but that soft and stay-at-home love, spending all its time in women's bosoms and beds, always pursuing effeminate delights, and enervated by unmanly, unfriendly, and unimpassioned pleasures, we ought to condemn as Solon condemned it: for he forbade slaves to love boys or to anoint them with oil, while he allowed them to associate with women. For friendship is noble and refined, whereas pleasure is vulgar and illiberal. Therefore, for a slave to love boys is neither liberal or refined: for it is merely the love of copulation, as the love of women."

Sec. V. Protogenes was intending to go on at greater length, when Daphnaeus stopped him and said, "You do well, by Zeus, to mention Solon, and we too may use him as the test of an amorous man. Does he not define such a one in the lines, 'As long as you love boys in the glorious flower of their youth for their kisses and embraces.' And add to Solon the lines of AEschylus, 'You did not disdain the honour of the thighs, O thankless one after all my frequent kisses.'[68] For some laugh at them if they bid lovers, like sacrificing priests and seers, to inspect thighs and loins; but I think this a mighty argument in behalf of the love of women. For if the unnatural commerce with males does not take away or mar the amorous propensity, much more likely is it that the natural love of women will end in friendship after the favour. For, Protogenes, the yielding of the female to the male was called by the ancients the favour. Thus Pindar says Hephaestus was the son of Hera 'without any favours':[69] and Sappho, addressing a girl not yet ripe for marriage, says to her, 'You seemed to me a little girl, too young for the favour.' And someone asks Hercules, 'Did you obtain the girl's favour by force or by persuasion?' But the love of males for males, whether rape or voluntary—pathicks effeminately submitting, to use Plato's words, 'to be treated bestially'—is altogether a foul and unlovely favour. And so I think Solon wrote the lines quoted above 'in his hot youth,' as Plato puts it; but when he became older wrote these other lines, 'Now I delight in Cyprus-born Aphrodite, and in Dionysus, and in the Muses: all these give joys to men': as if, after the heat and tempest of his boyish loves, he had got into a quiet haven of marriage and philosophy. But indeed, Protogenes, if we look at the real facts of the case, the love for boys and women is really one and the same passion: but if you wish in a disputatious spirit to make any distinction, you will find that this boy-love goes beyond all bounds, and, like some late-born and ill-begotten bastard brat, seeks to expel its legitimate brother the older love, the love of women. For indeed, friend, it is only yesterday or the day before, since the strippings and exposures of the youths in the gymnasiums, that this boy-love crept in, and gently insinuated itself and got a footing, and at last in a little time got fully-fledged in the wrestling-schools, and has now got fairly unbearable, and insults and tramples on conjugal love, that love that gives immortality to our mortal race, when our nature has been extinguished by death, kindling it again by new births. And this boy-love denies that pleasure is its aim: for it is ashamed and afraid to confess the truth: but it needs some specious excuse for the liberties it takes with handsome boys in their prime: the pretext is friendship and virtue. So your boy-lover wallows in the dust, bathes in cold water, raises his eyebrows, gives himself out for a philosopher, and lives chaste abroad because of the law: but in the stillness of night

'Sweet is the ripe fruit when the guard's withdrawn.'[70]

But if, as Protogenes says, there is no carnal intercourse in these boy-familiarities, how is it Love, if Aphrodite is not present, whom it is the destiny of Love to cherish and pay court to, and to partake of just as much honour and power as she assigns to him? But if there is any Love without Aphrodite, as there is drunkenness without wine in drinks made from figs and barley, the disturbing it will be fruitless and without effect, and surfeiting and disgusting."

Sec. VI. At the conclusion of this speech, it was clear that Pisias was vexed and indignant with Daphnaeus; and after a moment's silence he began: "O Hercules! what levity and audacity for men to state that they are tied to women as dogs to bitches, and to banish the god of Love from the gymnasiums and public walks, and light of day and open intercourse, and to restrict him to brothels[71] and philtres and incantations of wanton women: for to chaste women, I am sure, it belongs not either to love or be loved." At this point our father told me he interposed, and took Protogenes by the hand, and said to him:

"'This word of yours rouses the Argive host,'

and of a verity Pisias makes us to side with Daphnaeus by his extravagant language, charging marriage with being a loveless intercourse, and one that has no participation in divine friendship, although we can see that it is an intercourse, if erotic persuasion and favour fail, that cannot be restrained by shame and fear as by bit and bridle." Thereupon Pisias said, "I care little about his arguments; but I see that Daphnaeus is in the same condition as brass: for, just as it is not worked upon so much by the agency of fire as by the molten and liquid brass fused with it, so is he not so much captivated by the beauty of Lysandra as by his association with one who is the victim of the gentle passion; and it is plain that, if he doesn't take refuge with us, he will soon melt away in the flame altogether. But I see, what Anthemion would very much like, that I am offending the Court, so I stop." "You amuse us," said Anthemion: "but you ought from the first to have spoken to the point."

Sec. VII. "I say then," continued Pisias, "and give it out boldly, as far as I am concerned, let every woman have a lover; but we ought to guard against giving the wealth of Ismenodora to Baccho, lest, if we involve him in so much grandeur and magnificence, we unwittingly lose him in it, as tin is lost in brass. For if the lad were to marry quite a plain and insignificant woman, it would be great odds whether he would keep the upper hand, as wine mixed with water; and Ismenodora seems already marked out for sway and command; for otherwise she would not have rejected such illustrious and wealthy suitors to woo a lad hardly yet arrived at man's estate, and almost requiring a tutor still. And therefore men of sense prune the excessive wealth of their wives, as if it had wings that required clipping; for this same wealth implants in them luxury, caprice, and vanity, by which they are often elated and fly away altogether: but if they remain, it would be better to be bound by golden fetters, as in Ethiopia, than to a woman's wealth."

Sec. VIII. Here Protogenes put in, "You say nothing about the risk we run of unseasonably and ridiculously reversing the well-known advice of Hesiod:

'If seasonable marriage you would make, Let about thirty be the bridegroom's age, The bride be in the fifth year of her womanhood:'[72]

if we thus marry a lad hardly old enough for marriage to a woman so many years older, than himself, as dates and figs are forced. You will say she loves him passionately: who prevents her, then, from serenading at his doors, singing her amorous ditty, putting garlands on his statues, and wrestling and boxing with her rivals in his affections? For all these are what people in love do. And let her lower her eyebrows, and give up the airs of a coquette, and assume the appearance of those that are deeply smitten. But if she is modest and chaste, let her decorously stay at home and await there her lovers and sweethearts; for any sensible man would be disgusted and flee from a woman who took the initiative in love, far less would he be likely to marry her after such a barefaced wooing."

Sec. IX. When Protogenes had done speaking, my father said, "Do you see, Anthemion, that they force us to intervene again, who have no objection to dance in the retinue of conjugal Love?" "I do," said Anthemion, "but pray defend Love at some length, as you are on his side, and moreover come to the rescue of wealth,[73] with which Pisias seeks to scare us." Thereupon my father began, "What on earth will not be brought as a charge against a woman, if we are to reject Ismenodora because she is in love and has money? Granted she loves sway and is rich? What then, if she is young and handsome? And what if she plumes herself somewhat on the lustre of her race? Have not chaste women often something of the morose and peevish in their character almost past bearing? Do they not sometimes get called waspish and shrewish by virtue of their very chastity? Would it be best then to marry off the street some Thracian Abrotonus, or some Milesian Bacchis, and seal the bargain by the present of a handful of nuts? But we have known even such turn out intolerable tyrants, Syrian flute-girls and ballet-dancers, as Aristonica, and Oenanthe with her tambourine, and Agathoclea, who have lorded it over kings' diadems.[74] Why Syrian Semiramis was only the servant and concubine of one of king Ninus's slaves, till Ninus the great king seeing and falling in love with her, she got such power over him that she thought so cheap of him, that she asked to be allowed one day to sit on the royal throne, with the royal diadem on her head, and to transact state affairs. And Ninus having granted her permission, and having ordered all his subjects to obey her as himself, she first gave several very moderate orders to make trial of the guards; but when she saw that they obeyed her without the slightest hesitation, she ordered them to seize Ninus and put him in fetters, and at last put him to death; and all her commands being obeyed, she ruled over Asia for a long time with great lustre. And was not Belestiche a foreign woman off the streets, although at Alexandria she has shrines and temples, with an inscription as Aphrodite Belestiche, which she owes to the king's love? And she who has in this very town[75] a temple and rites in common with Eros, and at Delphi stands in gold among kings and queens, by what dowry got she her lovers? But just as the lovers of Semiramis, Belestiche, and Phryne, became their prey unconsciously through their weakness and effeminacy, so on the other hand poor and obscure men, having contracted alliances with rich women of rank, have not been thereby spoilt nor merged their personality, but have lived with their wives on a footing of kindness, yet still kept their position as heads of the house. But he that abases his wife and makes her small, like one who tightens the ring on a finger too small for it fearing it will come off,[76] is like those who cut their mares' tails off and then take them to a river or pond to drink, when they say that sorrowfully discerning their loss of beauty these mares lose their self-respect and allow themselves to be covered by asses.[77] To select a wife for wealth rather than for her excellence or family is dishonourable and illiberal; but it is silly to reject wealth when it is accompanied by excellence and family. Antigonus indeed wrote to his officer who had garrisoned Munychia[78] to make not only the collar strong but the dog lean, that he might undermine the strength of the Athenians; but it becomes not the husband of a rich or handsome woman to make his wife poor or ugly, but by his self-control and good sense, and by not too extravagantly showing his admiration for her, to exhibit himself as her equal not her slave, and (to borrow an illustration from the scales) to add just so much weight to his character as shall over-balance her, yet only just. Moreover, both Ismenodora and Baccho are of a suitable age for marriage and procreation of children; Ismenodora, I hear, is still in her prime, and" (here my father smiled slily at Pisias) "she is certainly not a bit older than her rivals, and has no grey hairs, as some of those who consort with Baccho have. And if their union is seasonable, who knows but that she may be a better partner for him than any young woman? For young couples do not blend and mix well together, and it takes a long time and is not an easy process for them to divest themselves of their pride and spirit, and at first there's a good deal of dirty weather and they don't pull well together, and this is oftenest the case when there's love on both sides, and, just as a storm wrecks the ship if no pilot is on board, so their marriage is trouble and confusion, neither party knowing how either to rule or to give way properly. And if the baby is under the nurse, and the boy under the master, and the lad under the master of the gymnasium, and the youth under his lover, and the full-grown man under the law and magistrate, and no one is his own master and exempt from obedience to someone, what wonder would it be if a sensible woman rather older than her husband would direct well the life of a young man, being useful to him by reason of her superior wisdom, and acceptable to him for her sweetness and gentleness? And to sum up the whole matter," said he, "we Boeotians ought to revere Hercules, and so find no fault in any inequality of age in marriages, seeing that he gave his own wife Megara in marriage to Iolaus, though he was only sixteen and she three-and-thirty."[79]

Sec. X. As the conversation was going on, our father said that a friend of Pisias came galloping up from the town to report an act of marvellous audacity. Ismenodora, it appears, thinking Baccho had no personal dislike to the match, but only stood in awe of his friends who tried to dissuade him from it, determined that she would not let the young fellow slip through her fingers. Accordingly, she sent for the most active and intimate[80] of her male friends, and for some of her female cronies, and instructed them as to what part they should play, and waited for the hour when Baccho was accustomed regularly to pass by her house on his way to the wrestling-school. And as he passed by on this occasion with two or three of his companions, anointed for the exercise, Ismenodora met him at the door and just touched his cloak, and her friends rushed out all together and prettily seized the pretty fellow as he was in his cloak and jersey,[81] and hurried him into the house and at once locked the doors. And the women inside at once divested him of his cloak and put on him a bridal robe; and the servants ran about the town and put olive wreaths and laurel garlands at the doors of Baccho's house as well as Ismenodora's, and a flute-girl went up and down the street playing and singing the wedding-song. And some of the inhabitants of Thespiae and the strangers laughed, others were indignant and tried to make the superintendents of the gymnasium move in the matter, for they have great power in Thespiae over the youths, and pay great attention to their actions. And now there was no more talk about the sports, but everyone left the theatre for the neighbourhood of Ismenodora's house, and there stood in groups talking and disputing about what had happened.

Sec. XI. Now when Pisias' friend had come up like an aide-de-camp in war, "bloody with spurring, fiery red with haste," to report this news that Ismenodora had seized Baccho, my father said that Zeuxippus smiled, and being a great lover of Euripides repeated the line,

"Lady, though rich, thou hast thy sex's feelings."

But Pisias jumped up and cried out, "Ye gods, what will be the end of license like this which will overthrow our town? Already we are fast tending to lawlessness through our independence. And yet it is perhaps ridiculous to be indignant about law and justice, when nature itself is trampled upon by being thus subjected to women? Saw even Lemnos ever the like of this?[82] Let us go," he continued, "let us go and hand over to the women the gymnasium and council-hall, if the townsmen have lost all their nerve." Pisias then left the company, and Protogenes went with him, partly sympathizing with his indignation, but still endeavouring to cool him. And Anthemion said, "'Twas a bold deed and certainly does savour somewhat of Lemnos—I own it now we are alone—this Ismenodora must be most violently in love." Hereupon Soclarus said, with a sly smile, "You don't think then that this rape and detention was an excuse and stratagem on the part of a wily young man to escape from the clutches of his lovers, and fly of his own volition to the arms of a rich and handsome widow?" "Pray don't say so, Soclarus," said Anthemion, "pray don't entertain any such suspicions of Baccho, for even if he were not by nature most simple and naive, he would not have concealed the matter from me to whom he divulges all his secrets, especially as he knows that I have always been very anxious he should marry Ismenodora. But as Heraclitus says truly, It is more difficult to control love than anger; for whatever love has a fancy to, it will buy even at the cost of life, money, and reputation. Who lives a more quiet life in our town than Ismenodora? When did ever any ugly rumour attach itself to her? When did ever any breath of suspicion sully her house? Some divine inspiration, beyond human calculation, seems now to have possessed her."

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10     Next Part
Home - Random Browse