THE WORKS OF LUCIAN OF SAMOSATA
Complete with exceptions specified in the preface
H. W. FOWLER AND F. G. FOWLER
IN FOUR VOLUMES
What work nobler than transplanting foreign thought into the barren domestic soil? except indeed planting thought of your own, which the fewest are privileged to do.—Sartor Resartus.
At each flaw, be this your first thought: the author doubtless said something quite different, and much more to the point. And then you may hiss me off, if you will.—LUCIAN, Nigrinus, 9.
(LUCIAN) The last great master of Attic eloquence and Attic wit.—Lord Macaulay.
CONTENTS OF VOL. II
THE DEPENDENT SCHOLAR
APOLOGY FOR 'THE DEPENDENT SCHOLAR'
A SLIP OF THE TONGUE IN SALUTATION
HERMOTIMUS, OR THE RIVAL PHILOSOPHIES
HERODOTUS AND AETION
ZEUXIS AND ANTIOCHUS
THE WAY TO WRITE HISTORY
THE TRUE HISTORY
ALEXANDER THE ORACLE-MONGER
THE DEPENDENT SCHOLAR
The dependent scholar! The great man's licensed friend!—if friend, not slave, is to be the word. Believe me, Timocles, amid the humiliation and drudgery of his lot, I know not where to turn for a beginning. Many, if not most, of his hardships are familiar to me; not, heaven knows, from personal experience, for I have never been reduced to such extremity, and pray that I never may be; but from the lips of numerous victims; from the bitter outcries of those who were yet in the snare, and the complacent recollections of others who, like escaped prisoners, found a pleasure in detailing all that they had been through. The evidence of the latter was particularly valuable. Mystics, as it were, of the highest grade, Dependency had no secrets for them. Accordingly, it was with keen interest that I listened to their stories of miraculous deliverance from moral shipwreck. They reminded me of the mariners who, duly cropped, gather at the doors of a temple, with their tale of stormy seas and monster waves and promontories, castings out of cargoes, snappings of masts, shatterings of rudders; ending with the appearance of those twin brethren [Footnote: The Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, who were supposed to appear to sailors in distress.] so indispensable to nautical story, or of some other deus ex machina, who, seated at the masthead or standing at the helm, guides the vessel to some sandy shore, there to break up at her leisure—not before her crew (so benevolent is the God!) have effected a safe landing. The mariner, however, is liberal in embellishment, being prompted thereto by the exigencies of his situation; for by his appearance as a favourite of heaven, not merely a victim of fortune, the number of the charitable is increased. It is otherwise with those whose narrative is of domestic storms, of billows rising mountain high (if so I may phrase it) within four walls. They tell us of the seductive calm that first lured them on to those waters, of the sufferings they endured throughout the voyage, the thirst, the sea-sickness, the briny drenchings; and how at last their luckless craft went to pieces upon some hidden reef or at the foot of some steep crag, leaving them to swim for it, and to land naked and utterly destitute. All this they tell us: but I have ever suspected them of having convenient lapses of memory, and omitting the worst part for very shame. For myself, I shall have no such scruple. All that I have heard, or can reasonably infer, of the evils of dependence, I shall place before you. For either, friend, my penetration is at fault, or you have long had a hankering for this profession.
Yes, I have seen it from the first, whenever the conversation has fallen on this subject of salaried intellects. 'Happy men!' some enthusiast has cried. 'The elite of Rome are their friends. They dine sumptuously, and call for no reckoning. They are lodged splendidly, and travel comfortably—nay, luxuriously—with cushions at their backs, and as often as not a fine pair of creams in front of them. And, as if this were not enough, the friendship they enjoy and the handsome treatment they receive is made good to them with a substantial salary. They sow not, they plough not; yet all things grow for their use.' How I have seen you prick up your ears at such words as these! How wide your mouth has opened to the bait!
Now I will have a clear conscience in this matter. I will not be told hereafter that I saw you swallowing this palpable bait, and never stirred a finger to snatch it from you, and show you the hook while there was yet time; that I watched you nibbling, saw the hook well in and the fish hauled up, and then stood by shedding useless tears. A grave charge, indeed, were I to leave it in your power to bring it; such neglect would admit of no palliation. You shall therefore hear the whole truth. Now, in leisurely fashion, from without, not hereafter from within, shall you examine this weel from which no fish escapes. You shall take in hand this hook of subtle barb. You shall try the prongs of this eel-spear against your inflated cheek; and if you decide that they are not sharp, that they would be easily evaded, that a wound from them would be no great matter, that they are deficient in power and grasp—then write me among those who have cowardice to thank for their empty bellies; and for yourself, take heart of grace, and swoop upon your prey, and cormorant-wise, if you will, swallow all at a gulp.
But however much the present treatise is indebted to you for its existence, its application is not confined to you who are philosophers, whose ambition it is to form your conduct upon serious principles; it extends to the teachers of literature, of rhetoric, of music,—to all, in short, whose intellectual attainments can command a maintenance and a wage. And where the life, from beginning to end, is one and the same for all, the philosopher (I need not say), so far from being a privileged person, has but the additional ignominy of being levelled with the rest, and treated by his paymaster with as scant ceremony as the rest. In conclusion, whatever disclosures I may be led to make, the blame must fall in the first instance on the aggressors, and in the second instance on those who suffer the aggression. For me, unless truth and candour be crimes, I am blameless.
As to the vulgar rabble of trainers and toadies, illiterate, mean-souled creatures, born to obscurity, should we attempt to dissuade them from such pursuits, our labour would be wasted. Nor can we fairly blame them, for putting up any affront, rather than part with their employers. The life suits them; they are in their element. And what other channel is there, into which their energies could be directed? Take away this, their sole vocation, and they are idle cumberers of the earth. They have nothing, then, to complain of; nor are their employers unreasonable in turning these humble vessels to the use for which they were designed. They come into a house prepared for such treatment from the first; it is their profession to endure and suffer wrong.
But the case of educated men, such as I have mentioned above, is another matter; it calls for our indignation, and for our utmost endeavours to restore them to liberty. I think it will not be amiss, if I first examine into the provocations under which they turn to a life of dependence. By showing how trivial, how inadequate these provocations are, I shall forestall the main argument used by the defenders of voluntary servitude. Most of them are content to cloak their desertion under the names of Poverty and Necessity. It is enough, they think, to plead in extenuation, that they sought to flee from this greatest of human ills, Poverty. Theognis comes pat to their purpose. His
Poverty, soul-subduing Poverty,
is in continual requisition, together with other fearful utterances of our most degenerate poets to the same effect. Now if I could see that they really found an escape from poverty in the lives they lead, I would not be too nice on the point of absolute freedom. But when we find them (to use the expression of a famous orator) 'faring like men that are sick,' what conclusion is then left to us to draw? What but this, that here again they have been misled, the very evil which they sold their liberty to escape remaining as it was? Poverty unending is their lot. From the bare pittance they receive nothing can be set apart. Suppose it paid, and paid in full: the whole sum is swallowed up to the last farthing, before their necessities are supplied. I would advise them to think upon better expedients; not such as are merely the protectors and accomplices of Poverty, but such as will make an end of her altogether. What say you, Theognis? Might this be a case for,
Steep plunge from crags into the teeming deep?
For when a pauper, a needy hireling, persuades himself that by being what he is he has escaped poverty, one cannot avoid the conclusion that he labours under some mistake.
Others tell a different tale. For them, mere poverty would have had no terrors, had they been able, like other men, to earn their bread by their labours. But, stricken as they were by age or infirmity, they turned to this as the easiest way of making a living. Now let us consider whether they are right. This 'easy' way may be found to involve much labour before it yields any return; more labour perhaps than any other. To find money ready to one's hand, without toil or trouble on one's own part, would indeed be a dream of happiness. But the facts are otherwise. The toils and troubles of their situation are such as no words can adequately describe. Health, as it turns out, is nowhere more essential than in this vocation, in which a thousand daily labours combine to grind the victim down, and reduce him to utter exhaustion. These I shall describe in due course, when I come to speak of their other grievances. For the present let it suffice to have shown that this excuse for the sale of one's liberty is as untenable as the former.
And now for the true reason, which you will never hear from their lips. Voluptuousness and a whole pack of desires are what induce them to force their way into great houses. The dazzling spectacle of abundant gold and silver, the joys of high feeding and luxurious living, the immediate prospect of wallowing in riches, with no man to say them nay,—these are the temptations that lure them on, and make slaves of free men; not lack of the necessaries of life, as they pretend, but lust of its superfluities, greed of its costly refinements. And their employers, like finished coquettes, exercise their rigours upon these hapless slaves of love, and keep them for ever dangling in amorous attendance; but for fruition, no! never so much as a kiss may they snatch. To grant that would be to give the lover his release, a conclusion against which they are jealously on their guard. But upon hopes he is abundantly fed. Despair might else cure his ardent passion, and the lover be lover no more. So there are smiles for him, and promises; always something shall be done, some favour shall be granted, a handsome provision shall be made for him,—some day. Meanwhile, old age steals upon the pair; the superannuated lover ceases from desire, and his mistress has nothing left to give. Life has gone by, and all they have to show for it is hope.
Well now, that a man for the sake of pleasure should put up with every hardship is perhaps no great matter. Devoted to this one object, he can think of nothing, but how to procure it. Let that pass. Though it seems but a scurvy bargain, a bargain for a slave; to sell one's liberty for pleasures far less pleasant than liberty itself. Still, as I say, let that pass, provided the price is paid. But to endure unlimited pain, merely in the hope that pleasure may come of it, this surely is carrying folly to the height of absurdity. And men do it with their eyes open. The hardships, they know, are certain, unmistakable, inevitable. As to the pleasure, that vague, hypothetic pleasure, they have never had it in all these years, and in all reasonable probability they never will. The comrades of Odysseus forgot all else in the Lotus: but it was while they were tasting its sweets. They esteemed lightly of Honour: but it was in the immediate presence of Pleasure. In men so occupied, such forgetfulness was not wholly unnatural. But to dwell a prisoner, with Famine for company, to watch one's neighbour fattening on the Lotus, and keeping it all to himself, and to forget Honour and Virtue in the bare prospect of a possible mouthful,—by Heaven, it is too absurd, and calls in good truth for Homeric scourgings.
Such, as nearly as I can describe them, are men's motives for taking service with the rich, for handing themselves over bodily, to be used as their employers think fit. There is one class, however, of which I ought perhaps to make mention—those whose vanity is gratified by the mere fact of being seen in the company of well-born and well-dressed men. For there are those who consider this a distinguished privilege; though for my own part I would not give a fig to enjoy and to be seen enjoying the company of the King of Persia, if I was to get nothing by it.
And now, since we understand what it is that these men would be at, let us mentally review their whole career;—the difficulties that beset the applicant before he gains acceptance; his condition when he is duly installed in his office; and the closing scene of his life's drama. You may perhaps suppose that his situation, whatever its drawbacks, is at least attainable without much trouble; that you have but to will it, and the thing is done in a trice. Far from it. Much tramping about is in store for you, much kicking of heels. You will rise early, and stand long before your patron's closed door; you will be jostled; you will hear occasional comments on your impudence. You will be exposed to the vile gabble of a Syrian porter, and to the extortions of a Libyan nomenclator, whose memory must be fee'd, if he is not to forget your name. You must dress beyond your means, or you will be a discredit to your patron; and select his favourite colours, or you will be out of harmony with your surroundings. Finally, you will be indefatigable in following his steps, or rather in preceding them, for you will be thrust forward by his slaves, to swell his triumphal progress. And for days together you will not be favoured with a glance.
But one day the best befalls you. You catch his eye; he beckons you to him, and puts a random question. In that supreme moment what cold sweats, what palpitations, what untimely tremors are yours! and what mirth is theirs who witness your confusion! 'Who was the king of the Achaeans?' is the question: and your answer, as likely as not, 'A thousand sail.' With the charitable this passes for bashfulness; but to the impudent you are a craven, and to the ill-natured a yokel. This first experience teaches you that the condescensions of the great are not unattended with danger; and as you depart you pronounce upon yourself a sentence of utter despair. Thereafter,
many a sleepless night, Many a day of strife shall be thy lot—
not for the sake of Helen, not for the towers of Troy, but for the sevenpence halfpenny of your desire. At length some heaven-sent protector gives you an introduction: the scholar is brought up for examination. For the great man, who has but to receive your flatteries and compliments, this is an agreeable pastime: for you, it is a life-and-death struggle; all is hazarded on the one throw. For it will of course occur to you, that if you are rejected at the first trial, you will never pass current with any one else. A thousand different feelings now distract you. You are jealous of your rivals (for we will assume that there is competition for the post); you are dissatisfied with your own replies; you hope; you fear; you cannot remove your eye from the countenance of your judge. Does he pooh-pooh your efforts? You are a lost man. Was that a smile? You rejoice, and hope rises high. It is only to be expected, that many of the company are your enemies, and others your rivals, and each has his secret shaft to let fly at you from his lurking-place. What a picture! The venerable grey-beard being put through his paces. Is he any use? Some say yes, others no. Time is taken for consideration. Your antecedents are industriously overhauled. Some envious compatriot, some neighbour with a trivial grievance, is asked his opinion; he has but to drop a word of 'loose morality,' and your business is done; 'the man speaks God's truth!' Every one else may testify to your character: their evidence proves nothing; they are suspected; they are venal. The fact is, you must gain every point; there must be no hitch anywhere. That is your only chance of success.
And now, take it that you have succeeded—beyond all expectation. Your words have found favour with the great man. Those friends, by whose judgement in such matters he sets most store, have made no attempt to alter his decision. His wife approves his choice; the steward and the major-domo have neither of them anything against you. No aspersions have been cast on your character; all is propitious, every omen is in your favour. Hail, mighty conqueror, wreathed in the Olympian garland! Babylon is yours, Sardis falls before you. The horn of plenty is within your grasp; pigeons shall yield you milk.
Now, if your crown is to be of anything better than leaves, there must be some solid benefits to compensate you for the labours you have undergone. A considerable salary will be placed at your disposal, and you will draw upon it without ceremony, whenever you have occasion. You will be a privileged person in every respect. As for toils, and muddy tramps, and wakeful nights, the time for those have gone by. Your prayers have been heard: you will take your ease, and sleep your fill. You will do the work you were engaged to do, and not a stroke besides. This, indeed, is what you have a right to expect. There would be no great hardship in bowing one's neck to a yoke so light, so easy—and so superbly gilded. But alas, Timocles, many, nay all of these requirements are unsatisfied. Your office, now that you have got it, is attended with a thousand details insufferable to all but slaves. Let me rehearse them to you; you shall judge for yourself whether any man with the slightest pretence to culture would endure such treatment.
Let me begin with your first invitation to dinner, which may reasonably be expected to follow, as an earnest of the patronage to come. It is brought to you by a most communicative slave, whose goodwill it must be your first care to secure. Five shillings is the least you can slip into his palm, if you would do the thing properly. He has scruples. 'Really, sir—couldn't think of it; no, indeed, sir.' But he is prevailed upon at last, and goes off, grinning from ear to ear. You then look out your best clothes, have your bath, make yourself as presentable as possible, and arrive—in fear and trembling lest you should be the first, which would wear an awkward air, just as it savours of ostentation to arrive last. Accordingly you contrive to hit on the right moment, are received with every attention, and shown to your place, a little above the host, separated from him only by a couple of his intimates. And now you feel as if you were in heaven. You are all admiration; everything you see done throws you into ecstasies. It is all so new and strange! The waiters stare at you, the company watch your movements. Nor is the host without curiosity. Some of his servants have instructions to observe you narrowly, lest your glance should fall too often on his wife or children. The other guests' men perceive your amazement at the novel scene, and exchange jesting asides. From the fact that you do not know what to make of your napkin, they conclude that this is your first experience of dining-out. You perspire with embarrassment; not unnaturally. You are thirsty, but you dare not ask for wine, lest you should be thought a tippler. The due connexion between the various dishes which make their appearance is beyond you: which ought you to take first? which next? There is nothing for it but to snatch a side glance at your neighbour, do as he does, and learn to dine in sequence. On the whole, your feelings are mingled, your spirit perturbed, and stricken with awe. One moment you are envying your host his gold, his ivory, and all his magnificence; the next, you are pitying yourself,—that miserable nonentity which calls its existence life; and then at intervals comes the thought, 'how happy shall I be, sharing in these splendours, enjoying them as if they were my own!' For you conceive of your future life as one continual feast; and the smiling attendance of gracious Ganymedes gives a charming finish to the picture. That line of Homer keeps coming to your lips: Small blame to Trojan or to greaved Achaean, if such happiness as this was to be the reward of their toils and sufferings. Presently healths are drunk. The host calls for a large beaker, and drinks to 'the Professor,' or whatever your title is to be. You, in your innocence, do not know that you ought to say something in reply; you receive the cup in silence, and are set down as a boor.
Apart from this, your host's pledge has secured you the enmity of many of his old friends, with some of whom it was already a grievance, that an acquaintance of a few hours' standing should sit above men who have been drinking the cup of slavery for years. Tongues are busy with you at once. Listen to some of them. 'So! We are to give place to new-comers! It wanted but this. The gates of Rome are open to none but these Greeks. Now what is their claim to be set over our heads? I suppose they think they are conferring a favour on us with their wordy stuff?' 'How he did drink, to be sure!' says another. 'And did you see how he shovelled his food down, hand over hand? Mannerless starveling! He has never so much as dreamt of white bread before. 'Twas the same with the capon and pheasant; much if he left us the bones to pick!' 'My dear sirs' (cries number three), 'I give him five days at the outside; after which you will see him at our end of the table, making like moan with ourselves. He is a new pair of shoes just now, and is treated with all ceremony. Wait till he has been worn a few times, and the mud has done its work; he will be flung under the bed, poor wretch, like the rest of us, to be a receptacle for bugs.' Such are some among the many comments you excite; and, for all we know, mischief may be brewing at this moment.
Meanwhile, you are the guest of the evening, and the principal theme of conversation. Your unwonted situation has led you on to drink more than was advisable. For some time you have been feeling uncomfortable effects from your host's light, eager wine. To get up before the rest would be bad manners: to remain is perilous. The drinking is prolonged; subject upon subject is started, spectacle after spectacle is produced; for your host is determined that you shall see all he has to show. You suffer the torments of the damned. You see nothing of what is going forward: some favourite singer or musician is performing—you hear him not; and while you force out some complimentary phrase, you are praying that an earthquake may swallow up all, or that the news of a fire may break up the party.
Such, my friend, is your first dinner, the best you will ever get. For my part, give me a dinner of herbs, with liberty to eat when I will and as much as I will. I shall spare you the recital of the nocturnal woes that follow your excess. The next morning, you have to come to terms as to the amount of your salary, and the times of payment. Appearing in answer to his summons, you find two or three friends with him. He bids you be seated, and begins to speak. 'You have now seen the sort of way in which we live—no ostentation, no fuss; everything quite plain and ordinary. Now you will consider everything here as your own. It would be a strange thing, indeed, were I to entrust you with the highest responsibility of all, the moral guidance of myself and my children'—if there are children to be taught—'and yet hesitate to place the rest at your disposal. Something, however, must be settled. I know your moderate, independent spirit. I quite realize that you come to us from no mercenary motive, that you are influenced only by the regard and uniform respect which will be assured to you in this house. Still, as I say, something must be settled. Now, my dear sir, tell me yourself, what you think right; remembering that there is something to be expected at the great festivals; for you will not find me remiss in that respect, though I say nothing definite at present; and these occasions, as you know, come pretty frequently in the course of the year. This consideration will no doubt influence you in settling the amount of your salary; and apart from that, it sits well on men of culture like yourself, to be above the thought of money.' Your hopes are blasted at the words, and your proud spirit is tamed. The dream of the millionaire and landed proprietor fades away, as you gradually catch his parsimonious drift. Yet you smirk appreciation of the promise. You are to 'consider everything as your own'; there, surely, is something solid? 'Tis a draught (did you but know it)
That wets the lips, but leaves the palate dry. After an interval of embarrassment, you leave the matter to his decision. He declines the responsibility, and calls for the intervention of one of the company: let him name a sum, at once worthy of your acceptance, and not burdensome to his purse, which has so many more urgent calls upon it. 'Sir,' says this officious old gentleman, who has been a toady from his youth, 'Sir, you are the luckiest man in Rome. Deny it if you can! You have gained a privilege which many a man has longed for, and is not like to obtain at Fortune's hands. You have been admitted to enjoy the company and share the hearth and home of the first citizen of our empire. Used aright, such a privilege will be more to you than the wealth of a Croesus or a Midas. Knowing as I do how many there are—persons of high standing —who would be glad to pay money down, merely for the honour and glory of the acquaintanceship, of being seen in his company, and ranking as his friends and intimates,—knowing this, I am at a loss for words in which to express my sense of your good fortune. You are not only to enjoy this happiness, but to be paid for enjoying it! Under the circumstances, I think we shall satisfy your most extravagant expectations, if we say'— and he names a sum which in itself is of the smallest, quite apart from all reference to your brilliant hopes. However, there is nothing for it but to submit with a good grace. It is too late now for escape; you are in the toils. So you open your mouth for the bit, and are very manageable from the first. You give your rider no occasion to keep a tight rein, or to use the spur; and at last by imperceptible degrees you are quite broken in to him.
The outside world from that time watches you with envy. You dwell within his courts; you have free access; you are become a person of consequence. Yet it is now incomprehensible to you how they can suppose you to be happy. At the same time, you are not without a certain exultation: you cheat yourself from day to day with the thought that there are better things to come. Quite the contrary turns out to be the case. Your prospects, like the proverbial sacrifice of Mandrobulus, dwindle and contract from day to day. Gradually you get some faint glimmerings of the truth. It begins to dawn upon you at last, that those golden hopes were neither more nor less than gilded bubbles: the vexations, on the other hand, are realities; solid, abiding, uncompromising realities. 'And what are these vexations?' you will perhaps exclaim; 'I see nothing so vexatious about the matter; I know not what are the hardships and the drudgery alluded to.' Then listen. And do not confine yourself to the article of drudgery, but keep a sharp look-out for ignominy, for degradation, for everything, in short, that is unworthy of a free man.
Let me remind you then, to begin with, that you are no longer free-born, no longer a man of family. Birth, freedom, ancestry, all these you will leave on the other side of the door, when you enter upon the fulfilment of your servile contract; for Freedom will never bear you company in that ignoble station. You are a slave, wince as you may at the word; and, be assured, a slave of many masters; a downward-looking drudge, from morning till night
serving for sorry wage.
Then again, you are a backward pupil: Servitude was not the nurse of your childhood; you are getting on in years when she takes you in hand; accordingly, you will do her little credit, and give little satisfaction to your lord. Recollections of Freedom will exercise their demoralizing influence upon you, causing you to jib at times, and you will make villanous work of your new profession. Or will your aspirations after Freedom be satisfied, perhaps, with the thought, that you are no son of a Pyrrhias or a Zopyrion, no Bithynian, to be knocked down under the hammer of a bawling auctioneer? My dear sir, when pay-day comes round each month, and you mingle in the herd of Pyrrhiases and Zopyrions, and hold out your hand for the wage that is due to you, what is that but a sale? No need of an auctioneer, for the man who can cry his own wares, and hawks his liberty about from day to day. Wretch! (one is prompted to exclaim, and particularly when the culprit is a professed philosopher) Wretch! Were you captured and sold by a pirate or a brigand, you would bewail your lot, and think that Fortune had dealt hardly with you. Were a man to lay violent hands on you, and claim a master's rights in you, loud and bitter would be your outcry: 'By heaven and earth, 'tis monstrous! I appeal to the laws!' And now, at an age at which a born slave may begin to look towards Freedom, now for a few pence do you sell yourself, your virtue and wisdom, in one parcel? And could Plato's noble words, could all that Chrysippus and Aristotle have said, of the blessings of freedom and the curse of slavery, raise no compunction in you? Do you count it no shame to be pitted against toadies and vulgar parasites? no shame to sit at the noisy banquets of a promiscuous, and for the most part a disreputable company, a Greek among Romans, wearing the foreign garb of philosophy, and stammering their tongue with a foreign accent? How fulsome are your flatteries on these occasions! how indecent your tipplings! And next morning the bell rings, and up you must get, losing the best of your sleep, to trudge up and down with yesterday's mud still on your shoes. Were lupines and wild herbs so scarce with you? had the springs ceased to give their wonted supply, that you were brought to such a pass? No, the cause of your captivity is too clear. Not water, not lupines were the object of your desire, but dainty viands and fragrant wines; and your sin has found you out: you are hooked like a pike by your greedy jaws. We have not far to look for the reward of gluttony. Like a monkey with a collar about its neck, you are kept to make amusement for the company; fancying yourself supremely happy, because you are unstinted in the matter of dried figs. As to freedom and generosity, they are fled, with the memories of Greece, and have left no trace behind them. And would that that were all, the disgrace of falling from freedom to servitude! Would that your employments were not those of a very menial! Consider: are your duties any lighter than those of a Dromo or a Tibius? As to the studies in which your employer professed an interest when he engaged you, they are nothing to him. Shall an ass affect the lyre? Remove from these men's minds the gold and the silver, with the cares that these involve, and what remains? Pride, luxury, sensuality, insolence, wantonness, ignorance. Consuming must be their desire, doubt it not, for the wisdom of Homer, the eloquence of Demosthenes, the sublimity of Plato!
No, your employer has no need of your services in this direction. On the other hand, you have a long beard and a venerable countenance; the Grecian cloak hangs admirably upon your shoulders, and you are known to be a professor of rhetoric, or literature, or philosophy; it will not be amiss, he thinks, to have such pursuits represented in the numerous retinue that marches before him. It will give him an air of Grecian culture, of liberal curiosity in fact. Friend, friend! your stock-in- trade would seem to be not words of wisdom, but a cloak and a beard. If you would do your duty, therefore, be always well in evidence; begin your unfailing attendance from the early hours of the morning, and never quit his side. Now and again he places a hand upon your shoulder, and mutters some nonsense for the benefit of the passers-by, who are to understand that though he walk abroad the Muses are not forgotten, that in all his comings and goings he can find elegant employment for his mind. Breathless and perspiring, you trot, a pitiable spectacle, at the litter's side; or if he walks—you know what Rome is—, up hill and down dale after him you tramp. While he is paying a call on a friend, you are left outside, where, for lack of a seat, you are fain to take out your book and read standing.
Night finds you hungry and thirsty. You snatch an apology for a bath; and it is midnight or near it before you get to dinner. You are no longer an honoured guest; no longer do you engage the attention of the company. You have retired to make room for some newer capture. Thrust into the most obscure corner, you sit watching the progress of dinner, gnawing in canine sort any bones that come down to you and regaling yourself with hungry zest on such tough mallow-leaves—the wrappers of daintier fare— as may escape the vigilance of those who sit above you. No slight is wanting. You have not so much as an egg to call your own; for there is no reason why you should expect to be treated in the same way as a stranger; that would be absurd. The birds that fall to your lot are not like other birds. Your neighbour gets some plump, luscious affair; you, a poor half- chicken, or lean pigeon, an insult, a positive outrage in poultry. As often as not, an extra guest appears unexpectedly, and the waiter solves the difficulty by removing your share (with the whispered consolation that you are 'one of the family'), and placing it before the new-comer. When the joint, be it pork or venison, is brought in to be carved, let us hope that you stand well with the carver, or you will receive a Promethean helping of 'bones wrapped up in fat.' And the way in which a dish is whisked past you, after remaining with your neighbour till he can eat no more!—what free man would endure it, though he were as innocent of gall as any stag? And I have said nothing yet of the wine. While the other guests are drinking of some rare old vintage, you have vile thick stuff, whose colour you must industriously conceal with the help of a gold or silver cup, lest it should betray the estimation in which the drinker is held. It would be something if you could get enough even of this. Alas! you may call and call: the waiter is
as one that marketh not.
Many are your grievances; nay, all is one huge grievance. And the climax is reached, when you find yourself eclipsed by some minion, some dancing- master, some vile Alexandrian patterer of Ionic lays. How should you hope to rank with the minister of Love's pleasures, with the stealthy conveyer of billets-doux? You cower shamefaced in your corner, and bewail your hard lot, as well you may; cursing your luck that you have never a smattering of such graceful accomplishments yourself. I believe you wish that you could turn love-songs, or sing other men's with a good grace; perceiving as you do what a thing it is to be in request. Nay, you could find it in you to play the wizard's, the fortune-teller's part; to deal in thrones and in millions of money. For these, too, you observe, make their way in the world, and are high in favour. Gladly would you enter on any one of these vocations, rather than be a useless castaway. Alas, even these are beyond you; you lack plausibility. It remains for you to give place to others; to endure neglect, and keep your complaints to yourself.
Nay, more. Should some slave whisper that you alone withheld your praise, when his mistress's favourite danced or played, the neglect may cost you dear. Then let your dry throat be as busy as any thirsty frog's. See to it, that your voice is heard leading the chorus of applause; and time after time, when all else are silent, throw in some studied servile compliment. The situation is not without humour. Hungry as you are, ay, and thirsty into the bargain, you must anoint yourself with oil of gladness, and crown your head with garlands. It reminds one of the offerings made by recent mourners at a tomb. The tomb gets the ointment and the garlands, while the mourners drink and enjoy the feast.
If your patron is of a jealous disposition, and has a young wife or handsome children, and you are not wholly without personal attractions, then beware! you are on dangerous ground. Many are the ears of a king, and many the eyes, that see not the truth only, but ever something over and above the truth, lest they should seem to fail of their office. Imagine yourself, therefore, at a Persian banquet. Keep your eyes downwards, lest a eunuch should catch them resting on one of the concubines. For see, there stands another with his bow ever on the stretch: one glance at the forbidden object as you raise your cup, and his arrow is through your jaw before you can put it down.
And now dinner is over; you retire, and snatch a little sleep. But at cock-crow you are aroused. 'Wretch! Worm that I am!' you exclaim. 'To sacrifice the pursuits, the society of former days, the placid life wherein sleep was measured by inclination, and my comings and goings were unfettered, and all to precipitate myself bodily into this hideous gulf! And why? What, in God's name, is my glorious recompense? Was there no other way? Could I not have provided for myself better than this, and preserved liberty and free-will into the bargain? Alas! the lion is fast bound in the net. I am haled hither and thither. Pitiable is my lot, where no honour is to be won, no favour to be hoped for. Untaught, unpractised in the arts of flattery, I am pitted against professionals. I am no choice spirit, no jolly companion; to raise a laugh is beyond me. My presence (well do I know it) is a vexation to my patron, and then most when he is in his most gracious mood. He finds me sullen; and how to attune myself to him I know not. If I wear a grim face, I am a sour fellow, scarcely to be endured. If I assume my most cheerful expression, my smiles arouse his contempt and disgust. As well attempt to act a comic part in the mask of tragedy! And what is the end of it all? My present life has been another's: do I look to have a new life which shall be my own?'
Your soliloquy is interrupted by the bell. The old routine awaits you: you must trudge, and you must stand; and first anoint your limbs, if you would hold out to the end. Dinner will be the same as ever, and go on as late as ever. The change from all your former habits, the wakeful night, the violent exercise, the exhaustion, are slowly undermining your health at this moment, and preparing you for consumption or colic, for asthma or the delights of gout. However, you hold out in spite of all, though many a time your right place would be in bed. But that would never do: that looks like shamming, like shirking your work. The result is that you grow as pallid as a man at the point of death.
So much for your city life. And now for an excursion into the country. I will content myself with a single detail. As likely as not it is a wet day. Your turn for the carriage (as might be expected) comes last. You wait and wait, till at last its return is out of the question, and you are squeezed into some vehicle with the cook, or with my lady's friseur, without even a proper allowance of straw. I shall make no scruple of relating to you an experience of Thesmopolis the Stoic, which I had from his own mouth; a most amusing incident, and just the sort of thing one might expect to find happening again. He was in the service of a certain wealthy and luxurious lady of quality, whom on one occasion he had to accompany on a journey from Rome. The fun began at once. The philosopher received as his travelling companion a beardless exquisite of the pitch-plastering persuasion, by whom, you may be certain, my lady set great store; his name, she informed the philosopher, was 'Robinetta.' Is not this a promising start?—the grave and reverend Thesmopolis, with his hoary beard (you know what a long, venerable affair it is), side by side with this rouged and painted ogler, whose drooping neck and plucked throat suggested the vulture rather than the robin! 'Twas all that Thesmopolis could do to persuade him not to wear his hair-net; and as it was he had a sad journey of it, with the fellow singing and whistling all the time—I daresay he would have danced there and then, if Thesmopolis had not prevented him. But there was more to come, as you will see. 'Thesmopolis,' cries my lady, calling him to her, 'I have a great favour to ask of you; now please don't say no, and don't wait to be asked twice, there's a good creature.' Of course, he said he would do anything she wished. 'I only ask you, because I know you are to be trusted; you are so good-natured and affectionate! I want you to take my little dog Myrrhina in with you, and see that she wants for nothing. Poor little lady! she is soon to become a mother. These hateful, inattentive servants take no notice of me when we are travelling, much less of her. You will be doing me a great kindness, I assure you, in taking charge of her; I am so fond of the sweet little pet!' She prayed and almost wept; and Thesmopolis promised. Imagine the ludicrous picture. The little beast peeping out from beneath the philosophic cloak; within licking distance of that beard, which perhaps still held traces of the thick soup of yesterday; yapping away with its shrill pipe of a voice, as Maltese terriers will; and no doubt taking other liberties, which Thesmopolis did not think worth mentioning. That night at dinner, the exquisite, his fellow traveller, after cracking a passable joke here and there at the expense of the other guests, came to Thesmopolis. 'Of him,' he remarked, 'I have only this to say, that our Stoic has turned Cynic.' According to what I heard, the little animal actually littered in his mantle!
Such are the caprices, nay, the insults, let me rather say, with which the patron gradually breaks the spirit of his dependants. I know myself of an orator, a very free speaker, who was actually ordered to stand up and deliver a speech at table; and a masterly speech it was, trenchant and terse. He received the congratulations of the company on being timed by a wine—instead of a water-clock; and this affront, it is said, he was content to put up, for the consideration of 8 pounds. But what of that? Wait till you get a patron who has poetical or historical tendencies, and spouts passages of his own works all through dinner: you must praise, you must flatter, you must devise original compliments for him,—or die in the attempt. Then there are the beaux, the Adonises and Hyacinths, as you must be careful to call them, undeterred by the eighteen inches or so of nose that some of them carry on their faces. Do your praises halt? 'Tis envy, 'tis treason! Away with you, Philoxenus that you are, to Syracusan quarries!—Let them be orators, let them be philosophers, if they will: what matter for a solecism here and there? Find Attic elegance, find honey of Hymettus in every word; and pronounce it law henceforth, to speak as they speak.
If we had only men to deal with, it would be something: but there are the women too. For among the objects of feminine ambition is this, of having a scholar or two in their pay, to dance attendance at the litter's side; it adds one more to the list of their adornments, if they can get the reputation of culture and philosophy, of turning a song which will bear comparison with Sappho's. So they too keep their philosopher, their orator, or their litterateur; and give him audience—when, think you? Why, at the toilet, by all that is ridiculous, among the rouge-pots and hair-brushes; or else at the dinner-table. They have no leisure at other times. As it is, the philosopher is often interrupted by the entrance of a maid with a billet-doux. Virtue has then to bide her time; for the audience will not be resumed till the gallant has his answer.
At rare intervals, at the Saturnalia or the Feast of Minerva, you will be presented with a sorry cloak, or a worn-out tunic; and a world of ceremony will go to the presentation. The first who gets wind of the great man's intention flies to you with the news of what is in store for you; and the bringer of glad tidings does not go away empty-handed. The next morning a dozen of them arrive, conveying the present, each with his tale of how he spoke up for you, or the hints he threw out, or how he was entrusted with the choice, and chose the best. Not a man of them but departs with your money in his pocket, grumbling that it is no more.
As to that salary, it will be paid to you sixpence at a time, and there will be black looks when you ask for it. Still, you must get it somehow. Ply your patron therefore with flatteries and entreaties, and pay due observance to his steward, and let it be the kind of observance that stewards like best; nor must you forget your kind introducer. You do get something at last; but it all goes to pay the tailor, the doctor, or the shoemaker, and you are left the proud possessor of nothing at all.
Meanwhile, jealousy is rife, and some slander is perhaps working its stealthy way to ears which are predisposed to hear anything to your discredit. For your employer perceives that by this time incessant fatigues have worn you out; you are crippled, you are good for nothing more, and gout is coming on. All the profit that was to be had of you, he has effectually sucked out. Your prime has gone by, your bodily vigour is exhausted, you are a tattered remnant. He begins to look about for a convenient dunghill whereon to deposit you, and for an able-bodied substitute to do your work. You have attempted the honour of one of his minions: you have been trying to corrupt his wife's maid, venerable sinner that you are!—any accusation will serve. You are gagged and turned out neck and crop into the darkness. Away you go, helpless and destitute, with gout for the cheering companion of your old age. Whatever you once knew, you have unlearnt in all these years: on the other hand, you have developed a paunch like a balloon; a monster insatiable, inexorable, which has acquired a habit of asking for more, and likes not at all the unlearning process. It is not to be supposed that any one else will give you employment, at your age; you are like an old horse, whose very hide has deteriorated in value. Not to mention that the worst interpretation will be put upon your late dismissal; you will be credited with adultery, or poisoning, or something of that kind. Your accuser, you see, is convincing even in silence; whereas you—you are a loose- principled, unscrupulous Greek. That is the character we Greeks bear; and it serves us right; I see excellent grounds for the opinion they have of us. Greek after Greek who enters their service sets up (in default of any other practical knowledge) for wizard or poisoner, and deals in love-charms and evil spells; and these are they who talk of culture, who wear grey beards and philosophic cloaks! When these, who are accounted the best of us, stand thus exposed, when men observe their interested servility, their gross flatteries at table and elsewhere, it is not to be wondered at that we have all fallen under suspicion. Those whom they have cast off, they hate, and seek to make an end of them altogether; arguing, naturally enough, that men who know their secrets, and have seen them in all their nakedness, may divulge many a foible which will not bear the light; and the thought is torment to them. The fact is, that these great men are for all the world like handsomely bound books. Outside are the gilt edges and the purple cover: and within? a Thyestes feasts upon his own children; an Oedipus commits incest with his mother; a Tereus woos two sisters at once. Such are these human books: their brilliancy attracts all eyes, but between the purple covers lurks many a horrid tale. Turn over the pages of any one of them, and you find a drama worthy the pen of Sophocles or Euripides: close the volume—all is gilt edge and exquisite tooling. Well may they hate the confidants of such crimes, and plot their destruction! What if the outcast should take to rehearsing in public the tragedy that he has got by heart?
I am minded to give you, after the manner of Cebes, a life-picture of Dependence; with this before your eyes, you may judge for yourself, whether it is the life for you. I would gladly call in the aid of an Apelles or a Parrhasius, an Aetion or a Euphranor, but no such perfect painters are to be found in these days; I must sketch you the picture in outline as best I can. I begin then with tall golden gates, not set in the plain, but high upon a hill. Long and steep and slippery is the ascent; and many a time when a man looks to reach the top, his foot slips, and he is plunged headlong. Within the gates sits Wealth, a figure all of gold (so at least she seems); most fair, most lovely. Her lover painfully scales the height, and draws near to the door; and that golden sight fills him with amazement. The beautiful woman in gorgeous raiment who now takes him by the hand is Hope. As she leads him in, his spirit is stricken with awe. Hope still shows the way; but two others, Despair and Servitude, now take charge of him, and conduct him to Toil, who grinds the poor wretch down with labour, and at last hands him over to Age. He looks sickly now, and all his colour is gone. Last comes Contempt, and laying violent hands on him drags him into the presence of Despair; it is now time for Hope to take wing and vanish. Naked, potbellied, pale and old, he is thrust forth, not by those golden gates by which he entered, but by some obscure back-passage. One hand covers his nakedness; with the other he would fain strangle himself. Now let Regret meet him without, dropping vain tears and heaping misery on misery,—and my picture is complete.
Examine it narrowly in all its details, and see whether you like the idea of going in at my golden front door, to be expelled ignominiously at the back. And whichever way you decide, remember the words of the wise man: 'Blame not Heaven, but your own choice.'
APOLOGY FOR 'THE DEPENDENT SCHOLAR'
I have been guessing how you are likely to have expressed yourself upon reading my essay about dependants. I feel pretty sure you read it all and had a laugh over it; but it is your running and general comment in words that I am trying to piece on to it. If I am any good at divination, this is the sort of thing: To think that a man can set down such a scathing indictment of the life, and then forget it all, get hold of the other end of the stick, and plunge headlong into such manifest conspicuous slavery! Take Midas, Croesus, golden Pactolus, roll them into one, multiply them, and could they induce him to relinquish the freedom which he has loved and consorted with from a child? He is nearly in the clutches of Aeacus, one foot is on the ferryman's boat, and it is now that he lets himself be dragged submissively about by a golden collar. [Footnote: Omitting as a scholium, with Dindorf and Fritzsche, the words: hoia esti ton tryphonton plousion ta sphingia kai ta kourallia.] There is some slight inconsistency between his life and his treatise; the rivers are running up-hill; topsy-turvydom prevails; our recantations are new- fashioned; the first palinodist [Footnote: See Stesichorus in Notes.] mended words with words for Helen of Troy; but we spoil words (those words we thought so wise) with deeds.
Such, I imagine, were your inward remarks. And I dare say you will give me some overt advice to the same effect; well, it will not be ill-timed; it will illustrate your friendship, and do you credit as a good man and a philosopher. If I render your part respectably for you, that will do, and we will pay our homage to the God of words; [Footnote: i.e. Hermes.] if I fail, you will fill in the deficiency for yourself. There, the stage is ready; I am to hold my tongue, and submit to any necessary carving and cauterizing for my good, and you are to plaster me, and have your scalpel handy, and your iron red-hot. Sabinus takes the word, and thus addresses me:
_My dear friend, this treatise of yours has quite rightly been earning you a fine reputation, from its first delivery before the great audience I had described to me, to its private use by the educated who have consulted and thumbed it since. For indeed it presents the case meritoriously; there is study of detail and experience of life in abundance; your views are the reverse of vague; and above all the book is practically useful, chiefly but not exclusively to the educated whom it might save from an unforeseen slavery. However, your mind is changed; the life you described is now the better; good-bye to freedom; your motto is that contemptible line:
Give me but gain, I'll turn from free to slave.
Let none hear the lecture from you again, then; see to it that no copy of it comes under the eyes of any one aware of your present life; ask Hermes to bring Lethe-water from below, enough to drug your former hearers; else you will remind us of the Corinthian tale, and your writing, like Bellerophon's, be your own condemnation. I assure you I see no decent defence you can make, at least if your detractors have the humour to commend the independence of the writings while the writer is a slave and a voluntary beast of burden before their eyes.
They will say with some plausibility: Either the book is some other good man's work, and you a jackdaw strutting in borrowed, plumes; or, if it is really yours, you are a second Salaethus; the Crotoniate legislator made most severe laws against adultery, was much looked up to on the strength of it, and was shortly after taken in adultery with his brother's wife. You are an exact reproduction of Salaethus, they will say; or rather he was not half so bad as you, seeing that he was mastered by passion, as he pleaded in court, and moreover preferred to leap into the flames, like a brave man, when the Crotoniates were moved to compassion and gave him the alternative of exile. The difference between your precept and practice is infinitely more ridiculous; you draw a realistic word-picture of that servile life; you pour contempt on the man who runs into the trap of a rich man's house, where a thousand degradations, half of them self-inflicted, await him; and then in extreme old age, when you are on the border between life and death, you take this miserable servitude upon you and make a sort of circus exhibition of your chains. The conspicuousness of your position will only make the more ridiculous that contrast between your book and your life.
But I need not beat my brains for phrases of reprobation; there is one good enough in a noble tragedy:
Wisdom begins at home; no wisdom, else.
And your censors will find no lack of illustrations against you; some will compare you to the tragic actor; on the stage he is Agamemnon or Creon or great Heracles; but off it, stripped of his mask, he is just Polus or Aristodemus, a hireling liable to be hissed off, or even whipped on occasion, at the pleasure of the audience. Others will say you have had the experience of Queen Cleopatra's monkey: the docile creature used to dance in perfect form and time, and was much admired for the regularity and decorum of its movements, adapted to the voices and instruments of a bridal chorus; alas, one day it spied a fig or almond a little way off on the ground; flutes and measures and steps were all forgotten, the mask was far off in several pieces, and there was he chewing his find.
You, they will say, are the author (for 'actor' would understate the case) who has laid down the laws of noble conduct; and no sooner is the lump of figs presented than the monkey is revealed; your lips are the lips of a philosopher, and your heart is quite other; it is no injustice to say that those sentiments for which you claim admiration have 'wetted your lips, and left your palate dry.' You have not had to wait long for retribution; you spoke unadvisedly in scorn of human needs; and, this little while after, behold you making public renunciation of your freedom! Surely Nemesis was standing behind your back as you drank in the flattering tributes to your superiority; did she not smile in her divine fore-knowledge of the impending change, and mark how you forgot to propitiate her before you assailed the victims whom fortune's mutability had reduced to such courses?
Now I want you to imagine a rhetorician writing on the theme that Aeschines, after his indictment of Timarchus, was himself proved guilty by eyewitnesses of similar iniquity; would, or would not, the amusement of the audience be heightened by the fact that he had got Timarchus punished for offences excused by youth, whereas he was himself an old man at the time of his own guilt? Why, you are like the quack who offered a cough-mixture which was to cure instantaneously, and could hardly get the promise out for coughing._
Yes, Sabinus, and there is plenty more of the same sort for an accuser like you to urge; the subject is all handles; you can take hold of it anywhere. I have been looking about for my best line of defence. Had I better turn craven, face right-about, confess my sin, and have recourse to the regular plea of Chance, Fate, Necessity? Shall I humbly beseech my critics to pardon me, remembering that nothing is in a man's own choice— we are led by some stronger power, one of the three I mentioned, probably, and are not true agents but guiltless altogether, whatever we say or do? Or will you tell me this might do well enough for one of the common herd, but you cannot have me sheltering myself so? I must not brief Homer; it will not serve me to plead:
No mortal man e'er yet escaped his fate;
His thread was spun, then when his mother bare him.
On the other hand, I might avoid that plea as wanting in plausibility, and say that I did not accept this association under the temptation of money or any prospects of that kind, but in pure admiration of the wisdom, strength, and magnanimity of my patron's character, which inspired the wish to partake his activity. But I fear I should only have brought on myself the additional imputation of flattery. It would be a case of 'one nail drives out one nail,' and this time the one left in would be the bigger; for flattery is the most servile, and consequently reckoned the worst, of all vices.
Both these pleas, then, being excluded, what is left me but to confess that I have no sound defence to make? I have indeed one anchor yet aboard: I may whine over age and ill health, and their attendant poverty, from which a man will purchase escape at any cost. The situation tempts me to send an invitation to Euripides's Medea: will she come and recite certain lines of hers on my behalf, kindly making the slight changes needed?—
Too well I know how monstrous is the deed; My poverty, but not my will, consents.
And every one knows the place in Theognis, whether I quote it or not, where he approves of people's flinging themselves to the unplumbed deep from sky-pointing crags, if one may be quit of poverty that way.
That about exhausts the obvious lines of defence; and none of them is very promising. But never fear, my friend, I am not going to try any of them. May never Argos be so hard put to it that Cyllarabis must be sown! nor ever I be in such straits for a tolerable defence as to be driven upon these evasions! No, I only ask you to consider the vast difference between being a hireling in a rich man's house, where one is a slave, and must put up with all that is described in my book—between that and entering the public service, doing one's best as an administrator, and taking the Emperor's pay for it. Go fully into the matter; take the two things separately and have a good look at them; you will find that they are two octaves apart, as the musical people say; the two lives are about as like each other as lead is to silver, bronze to gold, an anemone to a rose, a monkey to a man; there is pay, and there is subordination, in each case; but the essence of the two things is utterly different. In one we have manifest slavery; the new-comers who accept the terms are barely distinguishable from the human chattels a man has bought or bred; but persons who have the management of public business, and give their services to states and nations, are not to have insinuations aimed at them just because they are paid; that single point of resemblance is not to level them down to the others. If that is to be the principle, we had better do away with all such offices at once; governors of whole provinces, prefects of cities, commanders of legions and armies, will all fall under the same condemnation; for they are paid. But of course everything is not to be upset to suit a single case; all who receive pay are not to be lumped together.
It is all a mistake; I never said that all drawers of salaries lived a degraded life; I only pitied those domestic slaves who have been caught by compliments on their culture. My position, you see, is entirely different; my private relations are as they were before, though in a public capacity I am now an active part of the great Imperial machine. If you care to inquire, you will find that my charge is not the least important in the government of Egypt. I control the cause-list, see that trials are properly conducted, keep a record of all proceedings and pleas, exercise censorship over forensic oratory, and edit the Emperor's rescripts with a view to their official and permanent preservation in the most lucid, accurate, and genuine form. My salary comes from no private person, but from the Emperor; and it is considerable, amounting to many hundreds. In the future too there is before me the brilliant prospect of attaining in due course to a governorship or other distinguished employment.
Accordingly I am now going to throw off reserve, come to grips with the charge against me, and prove my case a fortiori. I tell you that nobody does anything for nothing; you may point to people in high places—as high as you like; the Emperor himself is paid. I am not referring to the taxes and tribute which flow in annually from subjects; the chief item in the Emperor's pay is panegyrics, world-wide fame, and grateful devotion; the statues, temples, and consecrated ground which their subjects bestow upon them, what are these but pay for the care and forethought which they apply to public policy and improvements? To compare small things with great, if you will begin at the top of the heap and work down through the grains of which it is composed, you will find that we inferior ones differ from the superior in point of size, but all are wage-earners together.
If the law I laid down had been that no one should do anything, I might fairly have been accused of transgressing it; but as my book contains nothing of the sort, and as goodness consists in doing good, what better use can you make of yourself than if you join forces with your friends in the cause of progress, come out into the open, and let men see that you are loyal and zealous and careful of your trust, not what Homer calls a vain cumberer of the earth?
But before all, my critics are to remember that in me they will be criticizing not a wise man (if indeed there is such a person on earth), but one of the common people, one who has indeed practised rhetoric and won some little reputation therein, but has never been trained up to the perfect virtue of the really great. Well, I may surely be forgiven for that; if any one ever did come up to the ideal of the wise man, it has not been my fortune to meet him. And I confess further that I should be disappointed if I found you criticizing my present life; you knew me long ago when I was making a handsome income out of the public profession of rhetoric; for on that Atlantic tour of yours which included Gaul, you found me numbered among those teachers who could command high fees. Now, my friend, you have my defence; I am exceedingly busy, but could not be indifferent to securing your vote of acquittal; as for others, let them all denounce me with one voice if they will; on them I shall waste no more words than, What cares Hippoclides?
A SLIP OF THE TONGUE IN SALUTATION [Footnote: This piece, which even in the Greek fails to convince us that Asclepius heard the prayer with which it concludes, is still flatter in English, because we have no words of salutation which correspond at once in etymological meaning and in conventional usage to the Greek. The English reader who cares to understand a piece so little worth his attention, will obligingly bear in mind that the Greek word represented here by Joy and Rejoice roughly answered in Lucian's time to our Good- morning and How do you do, as well as to the epistolary My dear——; while that represented by Hail or Health did the work of Good-night, Good-bye, Farewell, and (in letters) Yours truly.]
If a poor mortal has some difficulty in guarding against that spirit of mischief which dwells aloft, he has still more in clearing himself of the absurd consequences when that spirit trips him up. I am in both predicaments at once; coming to make you my morning salutation, which should have taken the orthodox form of Rejoice, I bade you, in a very choice fit of absent-mindedness, Be healthy—a good enough wish in its way, but a little untimely and unconnected with that early hour. I at once went moist and red, not quite aware whether I was on my head or my heels; some of the company took me for a lunatic, no doubt, some thought I was in my second childhood, some that I had not quite got over my last night's wine—though you yourself were the pink of good manners, not showing your consciousness of the slip by any ghost of a smile. It occurred to me to write to myself a little something in the way of comfort, and so modify the distress my blunder gave me—prove to myself that it was not absolutely unpardonable for an old man to transgress etiquette so flagrantly before so many witnesses. As to apology, there could be no occasion for that, when one's slip had resulted in so well- omened a wish.
I began to write expecting my task to be very difficult, but found plenty of material as I went on. I will defer it, however, till I have cleared the way with a few necessary remarks on the three forms—Rejoice or Joy, Prosper or Prosperity, Hail or Health. Joy is a very ancient greeting; but it was not confined to the morning, or the first meeting. They did use it when they first saw one another:
Joy to thee, Lord of this Tirynthian land!
But again at the moment when the wine succeeded to the meal:
Achilles, Joy! We lack not fair repast—
so says Odysseus discharging his embassy. And even at parting:
Joy be with you! And henceforth know me God, No longer mortal man.
In fact the apostrophe was not limited to any particular season, as now to the morning alone; indeed they used it on gloomy, nay, on the most lamentable occasions; in Euripides, Polynices ends his life with the words,
Joy with you! for the darkness closes on me.
Nor was it necessarily significative of friendliness; it could express hatred and the determination to see no more of another. To wish much joy to, was a regular form for ceasing to care about.
The modern use of the word dates back to Philippides the dispatch-runner. Bringing the news of Marathon, he found the archons seated, in suspense regarding the issue of the battle. 'Joy, we win!' he said, and died upon his message, breathing his last in the word Joy. The earliest letter beginning with it is that in which Cleon the Athenian demagogue, writing from Sphacteria, sends the good news of his victory and capture of Spartans at that place. However, later than that we find Nicias writing from Sicily and keeping to the older custom of coming to business at once with no such introduction.
Now the admirable Plato, no bad authority on such matters, would have us reject the salutation Joy altogether; it is a mean wish, wanting in seriousness, according to him; his substitute is Prosperity, which stands for a satisfactory condition both of body and soul; in a letter to Dionysius, he reproves him for commencing a hymn to Apollo with Joy, which he maintains is unworthy of the Pythian, and not fit even for men of any discretion, not to mention Gods.
Pythagoras the mystic has vouchsafed us no writings of his own; but we may infer from his disciples, Ocellus the Lucanian and Archytas, for instance, that he headed his letters neither with Joy nor Prosperity, but recommended beginning with Hail. At any rate all the Pythagoreans in writing to one another (when their tone is serious, that is) started with wishing Health, which they took to be the prime need of soul and body alike, and to include all human blessings. The Pentagram [Footnote: See Pythagoras in Notes.], that interlaced triple triangle which served them as a sort of password, they called by the name Health. They argued that Health included Joy and Prosperity, but that neither of those two was coextensive with Health. Some of them gave to the Quaternion, [Footnote: See Pythagoras in Notes.] which is their most solemn oath, and sums their perfect number, the name of Beginning of Health. Philolaus might be quoted.
But I need hardly go so far back. Epicurus assuredly rejoiced in joy— pleasure was the chief Good in his eyes; yet in his most earnest letters (which are not very numerous), and in those to his most intimate friends, he starts with Hail. And in tragedy and the old comedy you will constantly find it used quite at the beginning. You remember,
Hail to thee, joy be thine—
which puts health before rejoicing clearly enough. And says Alexis:
All hail, my lord; after long time thou comest.
I come in sorry plight, yet wish thee health.
Health first I ask, and next prosperity, Joy thirdly, and to owe not any man.
As for the writer of the drinking-song mentioned in Plato, what says he?—'Best is health, and second beauty, and third wealth'; joy he never so much as names. I need hardly adduce the trite saw:
Chief of them that blessings give, Health, with thee I mean to live.
But, if Health is chief, her gift, which is the enjoyment of health, should rank before other Goods.
I could multiply these examples by the thousand from poets, historians, philosophers, who give Health the place of honour; but you will not require any such childish pedantry of me, wiping out my original offence by another; I shall do better to add a historical anecdote or two which occur to me as relevant.
Eumenes of Cardia, writing to Antipater, states that just before the battle of Issus, Hephaestion came at dawn into Alexander's tent. Either in absence of mind and confusion like mine, or else under a divine impulse, he gave the evening salutation like me—'Hail, sire; 'tis time we were at our posts.' All present were confounded at the irregularity, and Hephaestion himself was like to die of shame, when Alexander said, 'I take the omen; it is a promise that we shall come back safe from battle.'
Antiochus Soter, about to engage the Galatians, dreamed that Alexander stood over him and told him to give his men the password Health; and with this word it was that he won that marvellous victory.
Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, in a letter to Seleucus, just reversed the usual order, bidding him Hail at the beginning, and adding Rejoice at the end instead of wishing him Health; this is recorded by Dionysodorus, the collector of his letters.
The case of Pyrrhus the Epirot is well worth mention; as a general he was only second to Alexander, and he experienced a thousand vicissitudes of fortune. In all his prayers, sacrifices, and offerings, he never asked for victory or increase of his royal dignity, for fame or excessive wealth; his whole prayer was always in one word, Health; as long as he had that, he thought all else would come of itself. And it was true wisdom, in my opinion; he remembered that all other good things are worthless, if health is wanting.
Oh, certainly (says some one); but we have assigned each form to its proper place by this time; and if you disregard that—even though there was no bad meaning in what you did say—you cannot fairly claim to have made no mistake; it is as though one should put a helmet on the shins, or greaves on the head. My dear sir (I reply), your simile would go on all fours if there were any season at all which did not require health; but in point of fact it is needed in the morning and at noonday and at night —especially by busy rulers like you Romans, to whom physical condition is so important. And again, the man who gives you Joy is only beginning auspiciously; it is no more than a prayer; whereas he who bids you Hail is doing you a practical service in reminding you of the means to health; his is more than a prayer, it is a precept.
Why, in that book of instructions which you all receive from the Emperor, is not the first recommendation to take care of your health? Quite rightly; that is the condition precedent of efficiency. Moreover, if I know any Latin, you yourselves, in returning a salutation, constantly use the equivalent of Health.
However, all this does not mean that I have deliberately abandoned Rejoice and substituted Hail for it. I admit that it was quite unintentional; I am not so foolish as to innovate like that, and exchange the regular formulae.
No, I only thank Heaven that my stumble had such very fortunate results, landing me in a better position than I had designed; may it not be that Health itself, or Asclepius, inspired me to give you this promise of health? How else should it have befallen me? In the course of a long life I have never been guilty of such a confusion before.
Or, if I may not have recourse to the supernatural, it is no wonder that my extreme desire to be known to you for good should so confuse me as to work the contrary effect. Possibly, too, one might be robbed of one's presence of mind by the crowd of military persons pushing for precedence, or treating the salutation ceremony in their cavalier fashion.
As to yourself, I feel sure that, however others may have referred it to stupidity, ignorance, or lunacy, you took it as the sign of a modest, simple, unspoiled, unsophisticated soul. Absolute confidence in such matters comes dangerously near audacity and impudence. My first wish would be to make no such blunder; my second that, if I did, the resulting omen should be good.
There is a story told of the first Augustus. He had given a correct legal decision, which acquitted a maligned person of a most serious charge. The latter expressed his gratitude in a loud voice, thus:—'I thank your majesty for this bad and inequitable verdict.' Augustus's attendants raged, and were ready to tear the man to pieces. But the Emperor restrained them; 'Never mind what he said; it is what he meant that matters.' That was Augustus's view. Well, take my meaning, and it was good; or take my word, and it was auspicious.
And now that I have got to this point, I have reason to fear that I may be suspected of having made the slip on purpose, leading up to this apology. O God of health, only grant me that the quality of my piece may justify the notion that I wanted no more than a peg whereon to hang an essay!
HERMOTIMUS, OR THE RIVAL PHILOSOPHIES
Ly. Good morning, Hermotimus; I guess by your book and the pace you are going at that you are on your way to lecture, and a little late. You were conning over something as you walked, your lips working and muttering, your hand flung out this way and that as you got a speech into order in your mind; you were doubtless inventing one of your crooked questions, or pondering some tricky problem; never a vacant mind, even in the streets; always on the stretch and in earnest, bent on advancing in your studies.
Her. I admit the impeachment; I was running over the details of what he said in yesterday's lecture. One must lose no chance, you know; the Coan doctor [Footnote: Hippocrates] spoke so truly: ars longa, vita brevis. And what be referred to was only physic—a simpler matter. As to philosophy, not only will you never attain it, however long you study, unless you are wide awake all the time, contemplating it with intense eager gaze; the stake is so tremendous, too,—whether you shall rot miserably with the vulgar herd, or be counted among philosophers and reach Happiness.
Ly. A glorious prize, indeed! however, you cannot be far off it now, if one may judge by the time you have given to philosophy, and the extraordinary vigour of your long pursuit. For twenty years now, I should say, I have watched you perpetually going to your professors, generally bent over a book taking notes of past lectures, pale with thought and emaciated in body. I suspect you find no release even in your dreams, you are so wrapped up in the thing. With all this you must surely get hold of Happiness soon, if indeed you have not found it long ago without telling us.
Her. Alas, Lycinus, I am only just beginning to get an inkling of the right way. Very far off dwells Virtue, as Hesiod says, and long and steep and rough is the way thither, and travellers must bedew it with sweat.
Ly. And you have not yet sweated and travelled enough?
Her. Surely not; else should I have been on the summit, with nothing left between me and bliss; but I am only starting yet, Lycinus.
Ly. Ah, but Hesiod, your own authority, tells us, Well begun is half done; so we may safely call you half-way by this time.
Her. Not even there yet; that would indeed have been much.
Ly. Where shall we put you, then?
Her. Still on the lower slopes, just making an effort to get on; but it is slippery and rough, and needs a helping hand.
Ly. Well, your master can give you that; from his station on the summit, like Zeus in Homer with his golden cord, he can let you down his discourse, and therewith haul and heave you up to himself and to the Virtue which he has himself attained this long time.
Her. The very picture of what he is doing; if it depended on him alone, I should have been hauled up long ago; it is my part that is still wanting.
Ly. You must be of good cheer and keep a stout heart; gaze at the end of your climb and the Happiness at the top, and remember that he is working with you. What prospect does he hold out? when are you to be up? does he think you will be on the top next year—by the Great Mysteries, or the Panathenaea, say?
Her. Too soon, Lycinus.
Ly. By next Olympiad, then?
Her. All too short a time, even that, for habituation to Virtue and attainment of Happiness.
Ly. Say two Olympiads, then, for an outside estimate. You may fairly be found guilty of laziness, if you cannot get it done by then; the time would allow you three return trips from the Pillars of Heracles to India, with a margin for exploring the tribes on the way instead of sailing straight and never stopping. How much higher and more slippery, pray, is the peak on which your Virtue dwells than that Aornos crag which Alexander stormed in a few days?
Her. There is no resemblance, Lycinus; this is not a thing, as you conceive it, to be compassed and captured quickly, though ten thousand Alexanders were to assault it; in that case, the sealers would have been legion. As it is, a good number begin the climb with great confidence, and do make progress, some very little indeed, others more; but when they get half-way, they find endless difficulties and discomforts, lose heart, and turn back, panting, dripping, and exhausted. But those who endure to the end reach the top, to be blessed thenceforth with wondrous days, looking down from their height upon the ants which are the rest of mankind.
Ly. Dear me, what tiny things you make us out—not so big as the Pygmies even, but positively grovelling on the face of the earth. I quite understand it; your thoughts are up aloft already. And we, the common men that walk the earth, shall mingle you with the Gods in our prayers; for you are translated above the clouds, and gone up whither you have so long striven.
Her. If but that ascent might be, Lycinus! but it is far yet.
Ly. But you have never told me how far, in terms of time.
Her. No; for I know not precisely myself. My guess is that it will not be more than twenty years; by that time I shall surely be on the summit.
Ly. Mercy upon us, you take long views!
Her. Ay; but, as the toil, so is the reward.
Ly. That may be; but about these twenty years—have you your master's promise that you will live so long? is he prophet as well as philosopher? or is it a soothsayer or Chaldean expert that you trust? such things are known to them, I understand. You would never, of course, if there were any uncertainty of your life's lasting to the Virtue-point, slave and toil night and day like this; why, just as you were close to the top, your fate might come upon you, lay hold of you by the heel, and lug you down with your hopes unfulfilled.
Her. God forbid! these are words of ill omen, Lycinus; may life be granted me, that I may grow wise, and have if it be but one day of Happiness!
Ly. For all these toils will you be content with your one day?
Her. Content? yes, or with the briefest moment of it.
Ly. But is there indeed Happiness up there—and worth all the pains? How can you tell? You have never been up yourself.
Her. I trust my master's word; and he knows well; is he not on the topmost height?
Ly. Oh, do tell me what he says about it; what is Happiness like? wealth, glory, pleasures incomparable?
Her. Hush, friend! all these have nought to do with the Virtuous life.
Ly. Well, if these will not do, what are the good things he offers to those who carry their course right through?
Her. Wisdom, courage, true beauty, justice, full and firm knowledge of all things as they are; but wealth and glory and pleasure and all bodily things—these a man strips off and abandons before he mounts up, like Heracles burning on Mount Oeta before deification; he too cast off whatever of the human he had from his mother, and soared up to the Gods with his divine part pure and unalloyed, sifted by the fire. Even so those I speak of are purged by the philosophic fire of all that deluded men count admirable, and reaching the summit have Happiness with never a thought of wealth and glory and pleasure—except to smile at any who count them more than phantoms.
Ly. By Heracles (and his death on Oeta), they quit themselves like men, and have their reward, it seems. But there is one thing I should like to know: are they allowed to come down from their elevation sometimes, and have a taste of what they left behind them? or when they have once got up, must they stay there, conversing with Virtue, and smiling at wealth and glory and pleasure?
Her. The latter, assuredly; more than that, a man once admitted of Virtue's company will never be subject to wrath or fear or desire any more; no, nor can he feel pain, nor any such sensation.
Ly. Well, but—if one might dare to say what one thinks—but no—let me keep a good tongue in my head—it were irreverent to pry into what wise men do.
Her. Nay, nay; let me know your meaning.
Ly. Dear friend, I have not the courage.
Her. Out with it, my good fellow; we are alone.
Ly. Well, then—most of your account I followed and accepted—how they grow wise and brave and just, and the rest—indeed I was quite fascinated by it; but then you went on to say they despised wealth and glory and pleasure; well, just there (quite between ourselves, you know) I was pulled up; I thought of a scene t'other day with—shall I tell you whom? Perhaps we can do without a name?
Her. No, no; we must have that too.
Ly. Your own professor himself, then,—a person to whom all respect is due, surely, not to mention his years.
Ly. You know the Heracleot, quite an old pupil of his in philosophy by this time—red-haired—likes an argument?
Her. Yes; Dion, he is called.
Ly. Well, I suppose he had not paid up punctually; anyhow the other day the old man haled him before the magistrate, with a halter made of his own coat; he was shouting and fuming, and if some friends had not come up and got the young man out of his hands, he would have bitten off his nose, he was in such a temper.
Her. Ah, he is a bad character, always an unconscionable time paying his debts. There are plenty of others who owe the professor money, and he has never treated any of them so; they pay him his interest punctually.
Ly. Not so fast; what in the world does it matter to him, if they do not pay up? he is purified by philosophy, and has no further need of the cast clothes of Oeta.
Her. Do you suppose his interest in such things is selfish? no, but he has little ones; his care is to save them from indigence.
Ly. Whereas he ought to have brought them up to Virtue too, and let them share his inexpensive Happiness.
Her. Well, I have no time to argue it, Lycinus; I must not be late for lecture, lest in the end I find myself left behind.
Ly. Don't be afraid, my duteous one; to-day is a holiday; I can save you the rest of your walk.
Her. What do you mean?
Ly. You will not find him just now, if the notice is to be trusted; there was a tablet over the door announcing in large print, No meeting this day. I hear he dined yesterday with the great Eucrates, who was keeping his daughter's birthday. He talked a good deal of philosophy over the wine, and lost his temper a little with Euthydemus the Peripatetic; they were debating the old Peripatetic objections to the Porch. His long vocal exertions (for it was midnight before they broke up) gave him a bad headache, with violent perspiration. I fancy he had also drunk a little too much, toasts being the order of the day, and eaten more than an old man should. When he got home, he was very ill, they said, just managed to check and lock up carefully the slices of meat which he had conveyed to his servant at table, and then, giving orders that he was not at home, went to sleep, and has not waked since. I overheard Midas his man telling this to some of his pupils; there were a number of them coming away.