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Apuleius : Florida


The "Florida" is a collection of flamboyant highlights from the speeches of Apuleius, delivered in Africa in the second century A.D. This translation includes five additional fragments (numbers 24-26), which are preserved in the manuscripts of another work by Apuleius ("De Deo Socratis"), but are considered by modern scholars to belong to the Florida. For more information on all aspects of the Florida, see B.T.Lee, "Apuleius' Florida: A Commentary" ( 2005 - Google Books ).

The translation is by H.E.Butler (1909). The translator, who does not have a high opinion of Apuleius' Latin style, concedes that "[The Florida] are never long enough to be tedious, and contain much that is amusing, be the humour unconscious or intentional; and even if we can rarely give whole-hearted admiration to the style, we cannot but marvel at its dexterity, while its very bizarrerie is not without its charm."

Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each fragment in PHI Latin Texts.



[1] L   The exordium to a discourse delivered in a town through which Apuleius passes in the course of a journey.

It is the usual practice of wayfarers with a religious disposition, when they come upon a sacred grove or holy place by the roadside, to utter a prayer, to offer an apple, and pause for a moment from their journeying. So I, on entering the revered walls of your city, feel that, for all my haste, it is my duty to ask your favour, to make an address, and to break the speed of my journey. I cannot conceive anything that could give a traveller juster cause to halt in sign of reverence; no altar crowned with flowers, no grotto shadowed with foliage, no oak bedecked with horns, no beech garlanded with the skins of beasts, no mound whose engirdling hedge proclaims its sanctity, no tree-trunk hewn into the semblance of a god, no turf still wet with libations, no stone astream with precious unguents. For these are but small things, and though there be a few that seek them out and do them worship, the majority note them not and pass them by.

[2] L   Man's sight compared with that of the eagle.

But such was not the opinion of my master Socrates. For once when he saw a youth of handsome appearance who remained for a long time without uttering a syllable, he said to him, 'Say something, that I may see what you are like.' For Socrates felt that a man who spoke not at all was in a sense invisible, since he held that it was not with the bodily vision, but with the mind's eye and the sight of the soul that men should be regarded. In this he disagreed with the soldier in Plautus {Truc_2.6'8}, who says,
  "One man that has eyes is better by far as a witness than ten that have ears."
Indeed, for the purpose of examining men he had practically reversed the meaning of the line to
  "One man that has ears is better by far as a witness than ten that have eyes."

Moreover, if the judgements of the eye were of greater value than those of the soul, we should assuredly have to yield the palm for wisdom to the eagle. For we men cannot see things far removed from us nor yet things that are very near us, but all of us to a certain extent are blind. And if you confine us to the eyes alone with their dim earthly vision, the words of the great poet {Homer, Il_3'12} will be very true, that a cloud as it were is shed upon our eyes and we cannot see beyond a stone's cast. The eagle, on the other hand, soars exceeding high in heaven to the very clouds, and rides on his pinions through all that space where there is rain and snow, regions beyond whose heights thunderbolts and lightnings have no place, even to the very floor of heaven and the topmost verge of the storms of earth. And having towered thus high, with gentle motion he turns his great body to glide to left or right, directing his wings, that are as sails, whither he will by the movement of his tail, which, small though it be, serves as a rudder. Thence he gazes down on the world, staying awhile in that far height the ceaseless rowing of his wings and, poised almost motionless with hovering flight, looks all around him and seeks what prey he shall choose whereon to swoop sudden like a thunderbolt from heaven on high. In one glance he sees all cattle in the field, all beasts upon the mountains, all men in their cities, all threatened at once by his intended swoop, and thence he falls to pierce with his beak and clutch with his claws the unsuspecting lamb, the timid hare, or whatsoever living creature chance offers to his hunger or his talons.

[3] L   The story of Marsyas and his challenge to Apollo.

Hyagnis, according to tradition, was the father and instructor of the piper Marsyas, and skilled in song beyond all others in the years when music was still in its infancy. It is true that as yet the sound of his breath lacked the finer modulations; he knew but a few simple modes and his pipe had but few stops. For the art was but newly born and only just beginning to grow. There is nothing that can attain perfection in its first beginnings; everything must commence by mastering the elements in hope, ere it can attain experience and success. Well, then, before Hyagnis the majority of musicians could do no more than the shepherds or cowherds of Vergilius {Ecl_3'12}, who
  "Made sorry strains on pipes of scrannel straw."

If any of them seemed to have made some real advance in art, even he played only on one pipe or one trumpet. Hyagnis was the first to separate his hands when he played, the first to fill two pipes with one breath, the first to finger stops with either hand and make sweet harmony of shrill treble and booming bass. Marsyas was his son, and though he possessed his father's skill upon the pipe, he was in all else a barbarous Phrygian, with a filthy beard and the grim and shaggy face of a wild beast. All his body was covered with hair and bristles, and yet - good heavens! he is said to have striven for mastery with Apollo. 'Twas hideousness contending with beauty, a rude boor against a sage, a beast against a god. The Muses and Minerva, hiding their amusement, stood by to judge, that they might make a mockery of the monster's uncouth presumption and punish his stupidity. But Marsyas, like the peerless fool he was, never perceived that he was an object of ridicule, and before he began to blow upon his pipes stammered out in his barbarous jargon some insane boasts about himself and Apollo. He prided himself on the mane thrown back from his brow, on his unkempt beard, his shaggy breast, his skill upon the pipes and his lack of wealth. By contrast - oh the absurdity of it! - he blamed Apollo for the opposite of these qualities, for being Apollo, for wearing his hair long, for having a fair face and smooth body, for his skill in so many arts, and for the opulence of his fortune. 'In the first place,' he said, 'his hair is smoothed and plastered into tufts and curls that fall about his brow and hang before his face. His body is fair from head to foot, his limbs shine bright, his tongue gives oracles, and he is equally eloquent in prose or verse, propose which you will. What of his robes so fine in texture, so soft to the touch, aglow with purple? What of his lyre that flashes gold, gleams white with ivory, and shimmers with rainbow gems? What of his song, so cunning and so sweet? Nay, all of these allurements are suited to nothing but luxury. To virtue they bring shame alone!' And then he proceeded to display his own body as the model of perfection. The Muses laughed when they heard him denounce Apollo for possessing gifts such as the wise would pray to possess, and when this boastful piper had been defeated in the contest and had been skinned as though he were a two-footed bear, they left him with his entrails torn and exposed to the air. Thus did Marsyas sing for his own undoing, and such was his fall. As for Apollo he was ashamed of so inglorious a victory.

[4] L   The piper Antigenidas.

There was a certain piper named Antigenidas, whose every note made honeyed harmony. He had skill, too, to make music in every mode, choose which you would, the simple Aeolian or the complex Ionian, the mournful Lydian, the solemn Phrygian, or the warlike Dorian. Being therefore the most famous of all that played upon the pipe, he said that nothing so tormented him, nothing so vexed his heart and soul, as the fact that the musicians who played the trumpet at funerals were dignified by the name of pipers. But he would have endured this identity of names with equanimity, had he ever seen the performance of mimes; for he would have noted that the magistrates, who preside in the theatre, and the characters on the stage, who come in for a good cudgelling, are clad in practically the same purple garments. So too, had he ever watched our games! For he would have seen one presiding, another fighting, yet both of them sharing the same common humanity. He would have noted that the Roman toga is worn alike by him who performs a vow to heaven and by him that lies dead upon the bier, that the Greek pallium serves to shroud the dead no less than to clothe the philosopher.

[5] L   Fragment from the opening of a discourse delivered in a theatre.

You have, I feel assured, come to this theatre with the best will in the world. For you know that the importance of an oration does not depend on the place in which it is delivered, but that the first thing that has to be considered is, 'What form of entertainment is the theatre going to provide?' If it is a mime, you will laugh; if a rope-walker, you will tremble lest he fall; if a comedian, you will applaud him, while, if it be a philosopher, you will learn from him.

[6] L   India and the Gymnosophists.

India is a populous country of enormous extent. It lies far to the east of us, close to the point where ocean turns back upon himself and the sun rises, on that verge where meet the last of lands and the first stars of heaven. Far away it lies, beyond the learned Egyptians, beyond the superstitious Jews and the merchants of Nabataea, beyond the children of Arsaces in their long flowing robes, the Ityraeans, to whom earth gives but scanty harvest, and the Arabs, whose perfumes are their wealth. Wherefore I marvel not so much at the great stores of ivory possessed by these Indians, their harvests of pepper, their exports of cinnamon, their finely-tempered steel, their mines of silver and their rivers of gold. I marvel not so much that in the Ganges they have the greatest of all rivers which
  "Lord of all the waters of the East
  Is cloven and parted in a hundred streams.
  A hundred vales are his, a hundred mouths,
  And hundred-fold the flood that meets the main;"
nor wonder I that the Indians that dwell at the very portals of day are yet of the hue of night, nor that in their land vast serpents engage in combat with huge elephants, to the equal danger and the common destruction of either; for they envelop and bind their prey in slippery coils so that they cannot disengage their feet nor in any wise break the scaly fetters of these clinging snakes, but must needs find vengeance by hurling their vast bulk to the ground and crushing the foe that grips them by the weight of their whole bodies. But it is of the marvels of men rather than of nature that I would speak. For the dwellers in this land are divided into many castes. There is one whose sole skill lies in tending herds of oxen, whence they are known as the oxherds. There are others who are cunning in the barter of merchandise, others who are sturdy warriors in battle and have skill to fight at long range with arrows or hand to hand with swords.

There is, further, one caste that is especially remarkable. They are called gymnosophists. At these I marvel most of all. For they are skilled - not in growing the vine, or grafting fruit-trees, or ploughing the soil. They know not how to till the fields, or wash gold, or break horses, or tame bulls, or to clip or feed sheep or goats. What, then, is their claim to distinction? This: one thing they know outweighing all they know not. They honour wisdom one and all, the old that teach and the young that learn. Nor is there anything more commendable in them than that they hate that their minds should be sluggish and idle. And so, when the table is set in its place, before the viands are served, all the youths leave their homes and professions to flock to the banquet. The masters ask each one of them what good deed he has performed between the rising of the sun and the present hour. Thereupon one tells how he has been chosen as arbiter between two of his fellows, has healed their quarrel, reconciled their strife, dispelled their suspicions and made them friends instead of foes. Another tells how he has obeyed some command of his parents, another relates some discovery that his meditations have brought him or some new knowledge won from another's exposition. And so with the rest of them, they tell their story. He who can give no good reason for joining in the feast is thrust fasting from the doors to go to his work.

[7] L   On Alexander and false philosophers.

The famous Alexander, by far the noblest of all kings, won the title of the Great from the deeds that he had done and the empire he had built, and thus it was secured that the man who had won glory without peer should never be so much as named without a word of praise. For he alone since time began, alone of all whereof man's memory bears record, after he had conquered a world-wide empire such as none may ever surpass, proved himself greater than his fortune. By his energy he challenged the most glorious successes that fortune could bestow, equalled them by his worth, surpassed them by his virtues, and stood alone in peerless glory, so that none might dare even hope for such virtue or pray for such fortune. The life of this Alexander is marked by so many lofty deeds and glorious acts, be it of prowess in the battle or statecraft in the council chamber, that you may marvel at them till you are weary. It is the story of all these great achievements that my friend Clemens, most learned and sweetest of poets, has attempted to glorify in the exquisite strains of his verse.

Now among the most remarkable acts recorded of Alexander is this. Desiring that his likeness should be handed down to posterity with as little variation as possible, he refused to permit it to be profaned by a multitude of artists, and issued a proclamation to all the world over which he ruled that no one should rashly counterfeit the king's likeness in bronze or with the painter's colours, or with the sculptor's chisel. Only Polycletus might portray him in bronze, only Apelles depict him in colour, only Pyrgoteles carve his form with the engraver's chisel. If any other than these three, each supreme in his peculiar art, should be discovered to have set his hand to reproduce the sacred image of the king, he should be punished as severely as though he had committed sacrilege. This order struck such fear into all men that Alexander alone of mankind was always like his portraits, and that every statue, painting, or bronze revealed the same fierce martial vigour, the same great and glorious genius, the same fresh and youthful beauty, the same fair forehead with its back-streaming hair. And would that philosophy could issue a like proclamation that should have equal weight, forbidding unauthorized persons to reproduce her likeness; then the study and contemplation of wisdom in all her aspects would be in the hands of a few good craftsmen who had been carefully trained, and unlettered fellows of base life and little learning would ape the philosopher no longer (though their imitation does not go beyond the professor's gown), and the queen of all studies, whose aim is no less excellence of speech than excellence of life, would no longer be profaned by evil speech and evil living: and, mark you, profanation of either kind is far from hard. What is more readily come by than madness of speech and worthlessness of character? The former springs from contempt of others, the latter from contempt of self. For to show little care for one's own character is self-contempt, while to attack others with uncouth and savage speech is an insult to those that hear you. For is it not the height of insolence, think you, that a man should deem you to rejoice in hearing abuse of the best of men, and should believe that you do not understand evil and wicked words, or, if you do understand them, hold them to be good? What boor, what porter, what shopkeeper is so poor of speech that could not curse more eloquently than these folk, if he would consent to assume the professor's gown?

[8] L   A eulogy of the proconsul of Africa.

He owes more to his personal character than to his rank, although even his rank is one that is shared by few. For out of numberless multitudes of men not many are senators, of senators but few are of noble birth, of the noble but few attain to the rank of consul, of consuls but few are good, and of the good but few are learned. But to confine what I have to say to his high office, 'tis not lightly that any man may assume the insignia of his rank either as regards clothing or foot-gear.

[9] L   A defence of himself against his critics and a laudation of the proconsul Severianus.

If it should so chance that in this magnificent gathering there should sit any of those that envy or hate me, since in a great city persons may always be found who prefer to abuse rather than imitate persons better than themselves, and, since they cannot be like them, affect to hate them. They do this of course in order to illuminate the obscurity that shrouds their own names by the splendour that falls from mine; if then, I say, any one of these envious persons sullies this distinguished audience with the stain of his presence, I would ask him for a moment to cast his eyes round this incredibly vast concourse. When he has contemplated a throng such as before my day never yet gathered to listen to a philosopher, let him consider in his heart how great a risk to his reputation is undertaken by a man who is not used to contempt in appearing here to-day; for it is an arduous task, and far from easy of accomplishment, to satisfy even the moderate expectations of a few. Above all it is difficult for me, for the fame I have already won and your own kindly anticipation of my skill will not permit me to deliver any ill-considered or superficial utterance. For what man among you would pardon me one solecism or condone the barbarous pronunciation of so much as one syllable? Who of you will suffer me to stammer in disorderly and faulty phrases such as might rise to the lips of madmen? In others of course you would pardon such lapses, and very rightly so. But you subject every word that I utter to the closest examination, you weigh it carefully, you try it by the plumb-line and the file, you test it by the polish of the lathe and the sublimity of the tragic buskin. Such is the indulgence accorded to mediocrity, such the severity meted out to distinction. I recognize, therefore, the difficulty of the task that lies before me, and I do not ask you to alter the opinions you entertain of me. Yet I would not have you deceived by false and petty resemblances, for, as I have often said, there are certain strolling beggars who assume a professor's gown to win their livelihood. Not only the proconsul, but the town crier also ascends the tribunal and appears wearing the toga like his master. But the crier stands upon his feet for hours together, or strides to and fro, or bawls his news with all the strength of his lungs. The proconsul, on the contrary, speaks quietly and with frequent pauses, sits while he speaks, and often reads from a written document. This is only natural. For the garrulous voice of the crier is the voice of a hired servant, the words read by the proconsul from a written document constitute a judgement, which, once read, may not have one letter added to it or taken away, but so soon as it is delivered, is set down in the provincial records. My literary position will provide a humble analogy. All that I utter before you is forthwith taken down and read. I can withdraw or change nothing, nor make the least correction. I must therefore be all the more careful in what I say before you, and that too with regard to more than one form of composition. For there is greater variety in the works of my muse than in all the elaborate achievements of Hippias. If you will give me your best attention I will explain what I mean with greater detail and precision.

Hippias was one of the sophists, and surpassed all his fellows in the variety of his accomplishments, while as an orator he was second to none. He was a contemporary of Socrates, and a native of Elis. Of his family nothing is known. But his fame was great, his fortune moderate; moreover he had a noble wit and an extraordinary memory, pursued many branches of study, and had many rivals. This Hippias, of whom I speak, once came to Pisa during the Olympian games arrayed in raiment that was as remarkable to the eye as it was wonderful in its workmanship. For he had purchased nothing of what he wore: it was all the work of his own hands, the clothes in which he was clad, the shoes wherewith he was shod, and the jewels that made him conspicuous. Next his skin he wore an undershirt of triple weft and the finest texture, double dyed with purple. He had woven it for himself in his own house with his own hands. He had for girdle a belt, broidered in Babylonian fashion with many varied colours. In this also no man else had helped him. For outer garment he had a white cloak cast about his shoulders; this cloak also is known to have been the work of his own hands. He had fashioned even the shoes that covered his feet and the ring of gold with its cunningly engraved signet which he displayed on his left hand. Himself he had wrought the circle of gold, had closed the bezel around the gem and engraved the stone. I have not yet told you all the tale of his achievements. But I will not shrink from enumerating all the marvels that he thought it no shame to show. For he proclaimed before that vast concourse that his own hands had fashioned the oil-flask which he carried. It was in shape a flattened sphere, and its outlines were round and smooth. Beside it he showed an exquisite strigil, the handle of which was straight, while the tongue was curved and grooved with hollow channels, so that the hand might have a firm grip and the sweat might be carried off in a trickling stream from the blade. Who could withhold praise from a man who had such manifold knowledge of so many arts, who had won such glory in every branch of knowledge, who was, in fact, a very Daedalus, such skill had he to fashion so many useful instruments? Nay, I myself praise Hippias, but I prefer to imitate his fertile genius in respect of the learning, rather than of the ornaments with which it was so richly equipped. I have, I confess, but indifferent skill in these sedentary arts. When I want clothes I buy them from the weaver, when I want sandals, such as I am now wearing, I purchase them from the shoemaker. I do not carry a ring, since I regard gold and precious stones of as little value as pebbles or lead. As for strigils and oil-flasks and other utensils of the bath I procure them in the market. I will not go to the extent of denying that I am wholly ignorant how to use a shuttle, an awl, a file, a lathe, and other tools of the kind, but I confess that I infinitely prefer to all these instruments one simple pen, with which I may write poems of all kinds, such as may suit with the reciter's wand and the accompaniment of the lyre or grace the comic or the tragic stage. Satires also do I write and riddles, histories also on diverse themes, speeches that the eloquent and dialogues that philosophers have praised. Nay, and I write all these and much besides with equal fluency in Greek and Latin, with equal pleasure, like ardour and uniform skill.

Most excellent proconsul, I would I could offer all these works of mine not in fragments and quotations but in entirety and completeness! Would I might enjoy the priceless boon of your testimony to the merits of all the offspring of my muse! It is not that I lack praise, for my glory has long bloomed fresh and bright before the eyes of all your predecessors, till to-day it is presented to you! But there is none whose admiration I would more gladly win than yours, for I admire you beyond all other men by reason of your surpassing virtues. Such is the ordinance of nature. Praise implies love and, love once given to another, we demand his praise in return. And I acknowledge that I love you; no private tie of interest binds me to you, it is in your public capacity that you have won my devotion. I have never received any favour at your hands, for I have never asked for one. But philosophy has taught me not only to love my benefactors, but even such as may have done me injury, to attach greater importance to justice than to my private interests, and to prefer the furtherance of the public welfare to the service of my own. And so it comes about that while most men love you for the actual benefits conferred upon them by your goodness, I love you for the zeal with which that goodness is inspired. And the secret of my devotion is this. I have seen your moderation in dealing with the affairs of the inhabitants of this province, a moderation which has won the affection of those who have come into contact with you by the benefits you have conferred on them, of those with whom you have never come into contact by the good example you have set. For while many have received your benefits, all have profited by your example. Who would not gladly learn from you by what moderation one may acquire your pleasing gravity, your severity tempered with mercy, your unruffled resolution and the kindly energy of your character? Africa has within my knowledge had no proconsul whom she reverenced more or feared less. Your year of office stands alone; for in it shame rather than fear has been the motive to set a check on crime. No other invested with your power has more often blessed, more rarely terrified: no governor has ever brought a son with him more like his father's virtues than is yours; and for this reason no proconsul has ever resided longer at Carthage than have you. For during the period which you devoted to visiting the province, Honorinus remained with us; wherefore, though we have never regretted our governor's absence more, we have felt it less. For the son has all his father's sense of justice, the youth has all an old man's wisdom, the deputy has all the consul's authority. In a word, he presents such a perfect pattern and likeness of your virtues, that the glory acquired by one so young would, I vow, be a greater source of wonder than your own, save for one fact; he has inherited it from you. Would we might live in the joy of his perpetual presence! What need have we of change of governors? What profit of these short years, these fleeting months of office? Ah! how swiftly pass the days, when the good are with us, how quickly spent the term of power for all the best of those who have ruled over us! Ah! Severianus, the whole province will sigh for your departure. But Honorinus at least is called away by the honours which are his due; the praetorship awaits him; the favour of the two Caesars forms him for the consulate; to-day our love enfolds him, and the hopes of Carthage promise that in the years to come he will be here once more. Your example is our sole comfort; he who has served as deputy shall soon return to us as proconsul!

[10] L   On Providence and its marvels.

  "First hail we thee, O Sun,
  Whose fiery course and rushing steeds reveal
  The glowing splendour of thy ardent flame."

Hail we also the Moon, who learns of his light how she herself may shine, and the influences also of the five planets - Jupiter that brings blessings, Venus that brings pleasure, Mercury the giver of swiftness, Saturn the worker of bane, Mars with his temper of fire. There are also other divine influences, that lie midway 'twixt earth and heaven, influences that we may feel but not see, such as the power of Love and the like, whose force we feel, though we have never seen their form. So too on earth 'tis this force that, in accordance with the wise behests of providence, here bids the lofty peaks of mountains rise, there has spread forth the low flat levels of the plain, has marked out the streams of rivers and the greensward of the meadows, has given birds the power to fly, reptiles to crawl, wild beasts to run, and men to walk.

[11] L   A comparison between those who lack wealth and those who lack virtue.

He whose soul is barren of virtue is like those poor wretches that till a barren inheritance of stony fields, mere heaps of rocks and thorns. Since they may win no harvest from their own wildernesses, and find no fruit in a soil where only
  "Wild oats and darnel rank have mastery"   {Vergilius, Georg_1'154},
conscious of their own poverty they go forth to steal the fruits of others and rifle their gardens, that they may mingle their neighbours' flowers with their own thistles.

[12] L   On the Parrot.

The parrot is an Indian bird, in size very slightly smaller than a dove. But there is nothing dovelike in its hue. For it has nothing of the milky whiteness or dull blue, blended or distinct, nor yet of the pale yellow or iridescence that characterize the dove. The parrot is green from the roots of its feathers to their very tips, save only for the markings on the neck. For its tiny neck is girdled and crowned with a slender band of crimson like a collar of gold, which is of equal brilliance through all its extent. Its beak is extraordinarily hard. If after it has soared to a great height it swoops headlong on to some rock, it breaks the force of its fall with its beak, which it uses as an anchor. Its head is not less hard than its beak. When it is being taught to imitate human speech, it is beaten over the head with an iron wand, that it may recognize its master's command. This is the rod of its school-days. It can be taught to speak from the day of its birth to its second year, while its mouth is still easily formed and its tongue sufficiently soft to learn the requisite modulations. On the other hand, if caught when it is old, it is hard to teach and forgets what it has learned. The parrot which is most easily taught the language of man is one that feeds on acorns and manlike has five toes on each foot. All parrots do not possess this last peculiarity, but there is one point which all have in common: their tongue is broader than that of any other bird. Wherefore they articulate human words more easily owing to the size of their palate and the organ of speech. When it has learnt anything, it sings or rather speaks it out with such perfect imitation that, if you should hear it, you would think a man was speaking; on the contrary if you hear a crow attempting to speak, you would still call the result croaking rather than speech. But crow and parrot are alike in this; they can only utter words that they have been taught. Teach a parrot to curse and it will curse continually, making night and day hideous with its imprecations. Cursing becomes its natural note and its ideal of melody. When it has repeated all its curses, it repeats the same strain again. Should you desire to rid yourself of its bad language, you must either cut out its tongue or send it back as soon as possible to its native woods.

[13] L   A comparison between the eloquence of the philosopher and the song of birds.

. . . For the eloquence bestowed on me by philosophy has no resemblance to the song that nature has given to certain birds which sing but for a brief space and at certain times only. For instance, the swallows sing at morn, the cicadas at noon, the night-owl late in the dark, the screech-owl at even, the horned-owl at midnight, the cock before the dawn. Indeed these animals seem to have made a compact together as to the various times and tones of their song. The crowing of the cock is a sound should wake men from their beds, the horned-owl groans, the screech-owl shrieks, the night-owl cries 'tuwhit, tuwhoo', the cicadas chatter, and the swallows twitter shrill. But the wisdom and eloquence of the philosopher are ready at all times, waken awe in them that hear, are profitable to the understanding, and their music is of every tone.

[14] L   On Crates the Cynic.

These arguments and the like which he had heard from the lips of Diogenes, together with others which suggested themselves to him on other occasions, had such influence with Crates, that at last he rushed out into the market-place and there renounced all his fortune as being a mere filthy encumbrance, a burden rather than a benefit. His action having caused a crowd to collect, he cried in a loud voice, saying, 'Crates, even Crates sets thee free.' Thenceforth he lived not only in solitude, but naked and in perfect freedom and, so long as he lived, his life was happy. And such was the passion he inspired that a maiden of noble birth, spurning suitors more youthful and more wealthy than he, actually went so far as to beg him to marry her. In answer Crates bared his shoulders which were crowned with a hump, placed his wallet, staff and cloak upon the ground, and said to the girl, 'There is all my gear! and your eyes can judge of my beauty. Take good counsel, lest later I find you complaining of your lot.' But Hipparche accepted his conditions, replying that she had already considered the question and taken sufficient counsel, for nowhere in all the world could she find a richer or a fairer husband. 'Take me where you will!' she cried . . .

[15] L   Of the isle of Samos and Pythagoras.

Samos is an island of no great size in the Icarian sea, and lies over against Miletus to the west, with but a small space of sea between them. In whichever direction you sail from this island, though you make no great haste, the next day will see you safe in harbour. The land does not respond readily to the cultivation of corn, and it is waste of time to plough it. But the olive grows better in it, and those who grow vines or vegetables have no fault to find with it. Its farmers are entirely taken up with hoeing the ground and the cultivation of trees, for it is from these rather than from cereals that Samos derives its wealth. The native population is numerous, and the island is visited by many strangers. The capital town is unworthy of its reputation, but the abundant ruins of its walls testify to its former size.

It possesses, however, a temple of Juno famous from remote antiquity: to reach it, if I remember aright, one must follow the shore for not more than twenty stades from the city. The treasury of the goddess is extraordinarily rich, containing great quantities of gold and silver plate, in the form of platters, mirrors, cups, and all manner of utensils. There is also a great quantity of brazen images of different kinds. These are of great antiquity, and remarkable for their workmanship; I may mention one of them in particular, a statue of Bathyllus standing in front of the altar; it was the gift of the tyrant Polycrates, and I think I have never seen anything more perfect. Some hold that it represents Pythagoras, but this opinion is incorrect. The statue represents a youth of remarkable beauty; his hair is parted evenly in the midst of his forehead and streams over either cheek. Behind his hair is longer and reaches down to his shoulders, covering the neck whose sheen one may detect between the tresses. The neck is plump, the jaws full, the cheeks fine, and there is a dimple in the middle of his chin. His pose is that of a player on the lyre. He is looking at the goddess, and has the appearance of one that sings, while his embroidered tunic streams to his very feet. He is girt in the Greek style, and a cloak covers either arm down to the wrists. The rest of the cloak hangs down in graceful folds. His lyre is fastened by an engraved belt, which holds it close to the body. His hands are delicate and taper. The left touches the strings with parted fingers, the right is in the attitude of one that plays and is approaching the lyre with the plectrum, as though ready to strike as soon as the voice ceases for a moment to sing. Meanwhile the song seems to well forth from the delicate mouth, whose lips are half open for the effort. This statue may represent one of the youthful favourites of the tyrant Polycrates hymning his master's love in Anacreontic strain. But it is far from likely that it is a statue of the philosopher Pythagoras. It is true he was a native of Samos, remarkable for his unusual beauty, and skilled beyond all men in harping and all manner of music, and living at the period when Polycrates was lord of Samos. But the philosopher was far from being a favourite of this tyrant.

Indeed Pythagoras fled secretly from the island at the very beginning of the tyrant's reign. He had recently lost his father Mnesarchus, who was, I read, a skilful jeweller excelling in the carving of gems, though it was fame rather than wealth that he sought in the exercise of his art. There are some who assert that Pythagoras was about this time carried to Egypt among the captives of King Cambyses, and studied under the magi of Persia, more especially under Zoroaster the priest of all holy mysteries; later they assert he was ransomed by a certain Gillus, King of Croton. However, the more generally accepted tradition asserts that it was of his own choice he went to study the wisdom of the Egyptians. There he was initiated by their priests into the mighty secrets of their ceremonies, passing all belief; there he learned numbers in all their marvellous combinations, and the ingenious laws of geometry. Not content with these sciences, he next approached the Chaldaeans and the Brahmins, a race of wise men who live in India. Among these Brahmins he sought out the gymnosophists. The Chaldaeans taught him the lore of the stars, the fixed orbits of the wandering lords of heaven, and the influence of each on the births of men. Also they instructed him in the art of healing, and revealed to him remedies in the search for which men have lavished their wealth and wandered far by land and sea. But it was from the Brahmins that he derived the greater part of his philosophy, the arts of teaching the mind and exercising the body, the doctrines as to the parts of the soul and its various transmigrations, the knowledge of the torments and rewards ordained for each man, according to his deserts, in the world of the gods below. Further he had for his master Pherecydes, a native of the island of Syros and the first who dared throw off the shackles of verse and write in the free style of unfettered prose. Pherecydes died of a horrible disease, for his flesh rotted and was devoured of lice; Pythagoras buried him with reverent care. He is said also to have studied the laws of nature under Anaximander of Miletus, to have followed the Cretan Epimenides, a famous prophet skilled also in rites of expiation, that he might learn from him and also Leodamas, the pupil of Creophylus, the reputed guest and rival of the poet Homer. Taught by so many sages, and having drained such deep and varied draughts of learning through all the world, and being moreover dowered with a vast intellect whose grandeur almost passes man's understanding, he was the founder of the science and the inventor of the name of philosophy. The first of all his lessons to his disciples was the lesson of silence. With him meditation was a necessary preliminary to wisdom, meditation set a bridle on all speech, robbed words, which poets style winged, of their pinions and restrained them within the white barrier of the teeth. This, I tell you, was for him the first axiom of wisdom, 'Meditation is learning, speech is unlearning.' His disciples, however, did not refrain from speech all their lives, nor did their master impose dumbness on all for a like space of time. For those of more solid character a brief term of silence was considered sufficient discipline; the more talkative were punished by exile from speech for as much as five years. I may add that my master Plato deviates little or not at all from the principles of this school, and in most of his utterances is a follower of Pythagoras. And that I too might win from my instructors the right to be called one of his followers, I have learned this double lesson in the course of my philosophical studies - to speak boldly when there is need of speech and gladly to be mute when there is need of silence. As a result of this self-command, I think I may say that I have won from your predecessors no less praise for my seasonable silence than approval for the timeliness of my speech.

[16] L   An oration of thanks to Aemilianus Strabo and the senate of Carthage for decreeing a statue in his honour.

Before I begin, illustrious representatives of Africa, to thank you for the statue, with the demand for which you honoured me while I was still with you, setting the seal upon your kindness by actually decreeing its erection during my absence, I wish first to explain to you why I absented myself for a considerable number of days from the sight of my audience and betook myself to the Persian baths, where the healthy may find delightful bathing, and the sick a no less welcome relief. For I have resolved to make it clear to you, to whose service I have dedicated myself irrevocably and for ever, that every moment of my life is well spent. There shall be no action of mine, important or trivial, but you shall be informed of it and pass judgement upon it. Well then! to come to the reason for my sudden departure from the presence of this most distinguished assembly, I will tell you a story of the comic poet Philemon which is not so very unlike my own and will serve to show you how sudden and unexpected are the perils that threaten the life of man. You all are well acquainted with his talents, listen then to a few words concerning his death, or perhaps you would like a few words on his talents as well.

This Philemon was a poet, a writer of the middle comedy, and composed plays for the stage in competition with Menander and contested against him. He may not have been his equal, he was certainly his rival. Nay, on not a few occasions - I am almost ashamed to mention it - he actually defeated him. However this may be, you will certainly find his works full of humour: the plots are full of wittily contrived intrigue, the dénouements clear, the characters suited to the situations, the words true to life, the jests never unworthy of true comedy, the serious passages never quite on the level of tragedy. Seductions are rare in his plays; if he introduces love affairs, it is as a concession to human weakness. That does not, however, prevent the presence in his plays of the faithless pander, the passionate lover, the cunning slave, the coquetting mistress, the jealous wife whose word is law, the indulgent mother, the crusty uncle, the friend in need, the warlike soldier, aye and hungry parasites, skinflint parents, and saucy whores. One day, long after these excellences had made him famous as a writer of comedy, he happened to give a recitation of a portion of a play which he had just written. He had reached the third act, and was beginning to arouse in his audience those pleasurable emotions so dear to comedy, when a sudden shower descended and forced him to put off the audience gathered to hear him and the recitation which he had just begun. A similar event befell me, you will remember, quite recently when I was addressing you. However, Philemon, at the demand of various persons, promised to finish his recitation the next day without further postponement. On the morrow, therefore, a vast crowd assembled to hear him with the utmost enthusiasm. Everybody who could do so took a seat facing the stage and as near to it as he could get. Late arrivals made signs to their friends to make room for them to sit: those who sat at the end of a row complained of being thrust off their seat into the gangway; the whole theatre was crammed with a vast audience. A hum of conversation arose. Those who had not been present the previous day began to ask what had been recited; those who had been present began to recall what they had heard, and finally when everybody had made themselves acquainted with what had preceded, all began to look forward to what was to come. Meanwhile the day wore on and Philemon failed to come at the appointed time. Some blamed the poet for the delay, more defended him. But when they had sat there for quite an unreasonable length of time and still Philemon did not make his appearance, some of the more active members of the audience were sent to fetch him. They found him lying in his bed - dead. He had just breathed his last, and lay there upon the couch stiff and stark in the attitude of one plunged in meditation. His fingers still were twined about his book, his mouth still pressed against the page he had been reading. But the life had left him; he had forgotten his book, and little cared he now for his audience. Those who had entered the room stood motionless for a space, struck dumb by the strange suddenness of the blow and the wondrous beauty of his death. Then they returned and reported to the people that the poet Philemon, for whom they were waiting that there in the theatre he might finish the drama of his imagination, had finished the one true play, the drama of life, in his own home. To this world he had said 'farewell' and 'applaud', but to his friends 'weep and make your moan'. 'The shower of yesterday,' they continued, 'was an omen of our tears; the comedy has ended in the torch of funeral or ever it could come to the torch of marriage. Nay, since so great a poet has laid aside the mask of this life, let us go straight from the theatre to perform his burial. 'Tis his bones we now must gather to our hearts; his verse must for awhile take second place.'

It was long ago that I first learned the story I have just told you, but the peril I have undergone during the last few days has brought it afresh to my mind. For when my recitation was - as I am sure you remember - interrupted by the rain, at your desire I put it off till the morrow, and in good truth it was nearly with me as it was with Philemon. For on that same day I twisted my ankle so violently at the wrestling school that I almost tore the joint from my leg. However, it returned to its socket, though my leg is still weak with the sprain. But there is more to tell you. My efforts to reduce the dislocation were so great that my body broke out into a profuse sweat and I caught a severe chill. This was followed by agonizing pain in my bowels, which only subsided when its violence was on the point of killing me. A moment more and like Philemon I should have gone to the grave, not to my recital, should have finished not my speech but my destiny, should have brought not my tale but my life to a close. Well then, as soon as the gentle temperature and still more the soothing medical properties of the Persian baths had restored to me the use of my foot - for though it gave naught save the most feeble support, it sufficed me in my eagerness to appear before you - I set forth to perform my pledge. And in the interval you have conferred such a boon upon me that you have not only removed my lameness but have made me positively nimble.

Was I not right to make all speed that I might express my boundless gratitude for the honour which you have conferred unasked? True, Carthage is so illustrious a city that it were an honour to her that a philosopher should beg to be thus rewarded, but I wished the boon you have bestowed on me to have its full value with no taint of detraction, to suffer no loss of grace by any petition on my part, in a word to be wholly disinterested. For he that begs pays so heavily, and so large is the price that he to whom the petition is addressed receives, that, where the necessaries of life are concerned, one had rather purchase them one and all than ask them as a gift. Above all, this principle applies to cases where honours are concerned. He to whom they come as the result of importunate petition owes no gratitude for his success to any save himself. On the other hand, he who receives honours without descending to vexatious canvassing is obliged to the givers for two reasons; he has not asked and yet he has received. The thanks, therefore, which I owe you are double or rather manifold, and my lips shall proclaim them at all times and places. But on the present occasion I will, as is my wont, make public protestation of my gratitude from a written address which I have specially composed in view of this distinction. For assuredly that is the method in which a philosopher should return thanks to a city that has decreed him a public statue. My discourse will, however, depart slightly from this method as a mark of respect to the exalted character and position of Aemilianus Strabo. I hope that I may be able to compose a suitable discourse if only you will permit me to submit it to your approbation to-day. For Strabo is so distinguished a scholar, that his own talents bring him even greater honour than his noble rank and his tenure of the consulate. In what terms, Aemilianus Strabo, who of all men that have been, are, or yet shall be, are most renowned among the virtuous, most virtuous among the renowned, most learned amongst either, in what terms can I hope to thank or commemorate the gracious thoughts you have entertained for me? How may I hope adequately to celebrate the honour to which your kindness has prompted you? How may my speech repay you worthily for the glory conferred by your action? It baffles my imagination. But I will seek earnestly and strive to find a way
  "While breath still rules these limbs and memory
  Is conscious of its being."   {Vergilius, Aen_4'336}

For at the present moment, I will not deny it, the gladness of my heart is too loud for my eloquence, I cannot think for pleasure, delight is master of my soul and bids me rejoice rather than speak. What shall I do? I wish to show my gratitude, but my joy is such that I have not yet leisure to express my thanks. No one, however sour and stern he be, will blame me if the honour bestowed on me makes me no less nervous than appreciative, if the testimony to my merits, delivered by a man of such fame and learning, has transported me with exultation. For he delivered it in the senate of Carthage, a body whose kindness is only equalled by its distinction; and he that spoke was one who had held the consulship, one by whom it were an honour even to be known. Such was the man who appeared before the most illustrious citizens of the province of Africa to sing my praise!

I have been told that two days ago he sent a written request in which he demanded that my statue should be given a conspicuous place, and above all told of the bonds of friendship which began under such honourable circumstances, when we served together beneath the banner of literature and studied under the same masters; he then recorded all the good wishes for his success with which I had welcomed each successive step of his advance in his official career. He had already done me a compliment in remembering that I had once been his fellow student: it was a fresh compliment that so great a man should record my friendship for him as though I were his equal. But he went further. He stated that other peoples and cities had decreed not only statues, but other distinctions as well in my honour. Could anything be added to such a panegyric as this, delivered by the lips of an ex-consul? Yes: for he cited the priesthood I had undertaken, and showed that I had attained the highest honour that Carthage can bestow. But the greatest and most remarkable compliment paid me was this: after producing such a wealth of flattering testimonials he commended me to your notice by himself voting in my favour. Finally, he, a man in whose honour every province rejoices through all the world to erect four or six horse chariots, promised that he would erect my statue at Carthage at his own expense.

What lacks there to sanction and establish my glory and to set it on the topmost pinnacle of fame? I ask you, what is there lacking? Aemilianus Strabo, who has already held the consulship { A.D. 156 } and is destined, as we all hope and pray, soon to be a proconsul, proposed the resolution conferring these honours upon me in the senate-house of Carthage. You gave your unanimous assent to the proposal. Surely in your eyes this was more than a mere resolution, it was a solemn enactment of law. Nay more, all the Carthaginians gathered in this august assembly showed such readiness in granting a site for the statue that they might make it clear to you that, if they put off a resolution for the erection of a second statue, as I hope, to the next meeting of the senate, they were influenced by the desire to show the fullest reverence and respect to their honourable consular, and to avoid seeming to emulate rather than imitate his beneficence. That is to say, they wished to set apart a whole day for the business of conferring on me the public honour still in store. Moreover, these most excellent magistrates, these most gracious chiefs of your city, remembered that the charge with which you men of Carthage had entrusted them was in full harmony with their desires. Would you have me be ignorant, be silent, as to these details? It would be rank ingratitude. Far from that, I offer my very warmest thanks to the whole assembly for their most lavish favour. I could not be more grateful. For they have honoured me with the most flattering applause in that senate-house, where even to be named is the height of honour. And so I have in some sense achieved - pardon my vanity - that which was so hard to achieve, and seemed indeed not unnaturally to be beyond my powers. I have won the affections of the people, the favour of the senate, the approbation of the magistrates and the chief men of the city. What lacks there now to the honour of my statue, save the price of the bronze and the service of the artist? These have never been denied me even in small cities. Much less shall Carthage deny it, Carthage, whose senate, even where greater issues are at stake, decrees and counts not the cost. But I will speak of this more fully at a later date, when you have given fuller effect to your resolution. Moreover, when the time comes for the dedication of my statue, I will proclaim my gratitude to you yet more amply in another written discourse, will declare it to you, noble senators, to you, renowned citizens, to you, my worthy friends. Yes, I will commit my gratitude to the retentive pages of a book, that it may travel through every province and, worlds and ages hence, record my praises of your kindness to all peoples and all time.

[17] L   Fragment of a panegyric on Scipio Orfitus.

I leave it to those who are in the habit of obtruding themselves upon their proconsul's leisure moments to attempt to commend their wits by the exuberance of their speech, and to glorify themselves by affecting to bask in the smiles of your friendship. Both of these offences are far from me, Scipio Orfitus. For on the one hand my poor wit, such as it is, is too well known to all men to have any need of further commendation; on the other hand, I prefer to enjoy rather than to parade the friendship of yourself and such as you; I desire such friendship, but I do not boast of it, for desire can in no case be other than genuine, whereas boasting may always be false. With this in view I have ever cultivated the arts of virtue, I have always sought both here in Africa and when I moved among your friends in Rome to win a fair name both for my character and studies, as you yourself can amply testify, with the result that you should be no less eager to court my friendship than I to long for yours. Reluctance to excuse the rarity of a friend's appearances is a sign that you desire his continual presence; if you delight in the frequency of his visits or are angry with him for neglecting to come, if you welcome his company and regret its cessation, it is clear proof of love, since it is obvious that his presence must be a pleasure whose absence is a pain. But the voice, if it be refrained in continued silence, is as useless as the nostrils when choked by a cold in the head, the ears when they are blocked with dirt, the eyes when they are sealed by cataract. What can the hands do, if they are fettered, or what the feet, if they are shackled? What can the mind that rules and directs us do, if it be relaxed in sleep or drowned in wine or crushed beneath the weight of disease? Nay, as the sword acquires its sheen by usage, and rusts if it lie idle, so the voice is dulled by its long torpor if it be hidden in the sheath of silence. Desuetude must needs beget sloth, and sloth decay. If the tragic actor declaim not daily, the resonance of his voice is dulled and its channels grow hoarse. Wherefore he purges his huskiness by loud and repeated recitation. However, it is vain toil and useless labour for a man to attempt to improve the natural quality of the human voice. There are many sounds that surpass it. The trumpet's blare is louder, the music of the lyre more varied, the plaint of the flute more pleasing, the murmurs of the pipe sweeter, the message of the bugle further heard. I forbear to mention the natural sounds of many animals which challenge admiration by their different peculiarities, as, for instance, the deep bellow of the bull, the wolf's shrill howl, the dismal trumpeting of the elephant, the horse's lively neigh, the bird's piercing song, the angry roar of the lion, together with the cries of other beasts, harsh or musical, according as they are roused by the madness of anger or the charms of pleasure. In place of such cries the gods have given man a voice of narrower compass; but if it give less delight to the ear, it is far more useful to the understanding. Wherefore it should be all the more cultivated by the most frequent use, and that nowhere else than in the presence of an audience presided over by so great a man, and in the midst of so numerous and distinguished a gathering of learned men who come kindly disposed to hear. For my part, if I were skilled to make ravishing music on the lyre, I should never play save before crowded assemblies. It was in solitude that
  "Orpheus to woods, to fish Arion sang."   {Vergilius, Ecl_7'56}

For if we may believe legend, Orpheus had been driven to lonely exile, Arion hurled from his ship. One of them soothed savage beasts, the other charmed beasts that were compassionate: both musicians were unhappy, inasmuch as they strove not for honour nor of their free choice, but for their safety and of hard necessity. I should have admired them more if they had pleased men, not beasts. Such solitude were far better suited to birds, to blackbird and nightingale and swan. The blackbird whistles like a happy boy in distant wilds, the nightingale trills its song of youthful passion in the lonely places of Africa, the swan by far-off rivers chants the music of old age. But he who would produce a song that shall profit boys, youths, and greybeards, must sing it in the midst of thousands of men, even as now I sing the virtues of Orfitus. It is late, perhaps, but it is meant in all earnestness, and may prove no less pleasing than profitable to the boys, the youths, and the old men of Carthage. For all have enjoyed the indulgence of the best of all proconsuls: he has tempered their desires and restrained them with gentle remedies, he has given to boys the boon of plenty, to young men merriment, and to the old security. But now, Scipio, that I have come to touch on your merits, I fear lest either your own noble modesty or my own native bashfulness may close my mouth. But I cannot refrain from touching on a very few of the many virtues which we so justly admire in you. Citizens whom he has saved, show with me that you recognize them!

[18] L   A discourse pronounced before the Carthaginians, incidentally treating of Thales and Protagoras.

You have come in such large numbers to hear me that I feel I ought rather to congratulate Carthage for possessing so many friends of learning among her citizens than demand pardon for myself, the professed philosopher who ventures to speak in public. For the crowd that has collected is worthy of the grandeur of our city, and the place chosen for my speech is worthy of so great a multitude. Moreover, in a theatre we must consider, not the marble of its pavements, not the boards of the stage, nor the columns of the back-scene, nay, nor yet the height of its gables, the splendour of its fretted roofs, the expanse of its tiers of seats; we need not call to mind that this place is sometimes the scene for the foolery of the mime, the dialogue of comedy, the sonorous rant of tragedy, the perilous antics of the rope-walker, the juggler's sleight of hand, the gesticulation of the dancer, with all the tricks of their respective arts that are displayed before the people by other artists. All these considerations may be put on one side; all that we need consider is this, the discourse of the orator and the reasons for the presence of the audience.

Wherefore, just as poets in this place shift the scene to various other cities - take, for instance, the tragic poet who makes his actor say
  "Liber, that dwells on these heights august
  Of famed Cithaeron"
or the comic poet who says
  "Plautus but asks you for a tiny space
  Within the circuit vast of these fair walls,
  Whither without the aid of architect
  He may transport old Athens,"   {Plautus, Truc_prol'1-3} -
even so I beg your leave to shift my scene, not, however, to any distant city overseas, but to the senate-house or public library of Carthage. I ask you, therefore, if any of my utterances be worthy of the senate-house, to imagine that you are listening to me within the very walls of the senate-house; if my words reveal learning, I beg you to regard them as though you were reading them in the public library. Would that I could find words enough to do justice to the magnitude of this assembly and did not falter just when I would be most eloquent. But the old saying is true, that heaven never blesses any man with unmixed and flawless prosperity; even in the keenest joys there is ever some slight undertone of grief, some blend of gall and honey; there is no rose without a thorn. I have often experienced the truth of this, and never more than at the present moment. For the more I realize how ready you are to praise me, the more exaggerated becomes the awe in which I stand of you, and the greater my reluctance to speak. I have spoken to foreign audiences often, and with the utmost fluency, but now that I am confronted with my own folk, I hesitate. Strange to say, I am frightened by what should allure, curbed by what should spur me on, and restrained by what should make me bold. There is much that should give me courage in your presence. I have made my home in your city which I knew well as a boy, and where my student days were spent. You know my philosophic views, my voice is no stranger to you, you have read my books and approved of them. My birthplace is represented in the council of Africa, that is, in your own assembly; my boyhood was spent with you, you were my teachers, it was here that my philosophy found its first inspiration, though 'twas Attic Athens brought it to maturity, and, during the last six years, my voice, speaking in either language, has been familiar to your ears.

Nay more, my books have no higher title to the universal praise that is theirs, than the fact that you have passed a favourable judgement upon them. All these great and varied allurements, appealing as they do to you as well as to me, hamper and intimidate me just in proportion as they attract you to the pleasure of hearing me. I should find it far easier to sing your praises before the citizens of some other city than to your face. To such an extent is it true that modesty is a serious obstacle to one confronted by his fellow citizens, while truth may speak unfettered in the presence of strangers. But always and everywhere I praise you as my parents and the first teachers of my youth, and do my best to repay my debt. But the reward I offer you is not that which the sophist Protagoras stipulated to receive and never got, but that which the wise Thales got without ever stipulating for it. What is it you want? Ah! I understand. I will tell you both stories.

Protagoras was a sophist with knowledge on an extraordinary number of subjects, and one of the most eloquent among the first inventors of the art of rhetoric. He was a fellow citizen and contemporary of the physicist Democritus, and it was from Democritus he derived his learning. The story runs that Protagoras made a rash bargain with his pupil Euathlus, contracting for an exceptionally high fee on the following conditions. The money was to be paid if Euathlus was successful in the first suit he pleaded in court. The young man therefore first learned all the methods employed to win the votes of the jurors, all the tricks of opposing counsel, and all the artifices of oratory. This he did with ease, for he was a very clever fellow with a natural aptitude for strategy. When he had satisfied himself that he had learned all he desired to know, he began to show reluctance to perform his part of the contract. At first he baffled his teacher's requests for payment by interposing various ingenious delays, and for a considerable time refused either to plead in court or to pay the stipulated fee. At last Protagoras called him into court, set forth the conditions under which he had accepted him as a pupil, and propounded the following dilemma. 'If I win,' he said, 'you must pay the fee, for you will be condemned to do so. If you win, you will still have to pay under the terms of your contract. For you will have won the first suit you have ever pleaded. So if you win, you lose under the terms of the contract: if you are defeated, you lose by the sentence of the court.' What more would you have? The jury thought the argument a marvel of shrewdness and quite irrefutable. But Euathlus showed himself a very perfect pupil of so cunning a master, and turned back the dilemma on its inventor. 'In that case,' he replied, 'I owe your fee under neither count. For either I win and am acquitted by the court, or lose and am released from the bargain, which states that I do not owe you the fee if I am defeated in my first case in court. And this is my first case! So in any case I come off scot free; if I lose, I am saved by the contract; if I win, by the verdict of the jury.' What think you? Does not the opposition of these sophistic arguments remind you of brambles, that the wind has entangled one with another? They cling together; thorns of like length on either side, each penetrating to an equal depth, each dealing wound for wound. So we will leave Protagoras' reward to shrewd and greedy folk. It involves too many thorny difficulties. Far better is that other reward, which they say was suggested by Thales.

Thales of Miletus was easily the most remarkable of the famous seven sages. For he was the first of the Greeks to discover the science of geometry, was a most accurate investigator of the laws of nature, and a most skilful observer of the stars. With the help of a few small lines he discovered the most momentous facts: the revolution of the years, the blasts of the winds, the wanderings of the stars, the echoing miracle of thunder, the slanting path of the zodiac, the annual turnings of the sun, the waxing of the moon when young, her waning when she has waxed old, and the shadow of her eclipse; of all these he discovered the laws. Even when he was far advanced into the vale of years, he evolved a divinely inspired theory concerning the period of the sun's revolution through the circle in which he moves in all his majesty. This theory, I may say, I have not only learned from books, but have also proved its truth by experiment. This theory Thales is said to have taught soon after its discovery to Mandrolytus of Priene. The latter, fascinated by the strangeness and novelty of his newly acquired knowledge, bade Thales choose whatever recompense he might desire in return for such precious instruction. 'It is enough recompense,' replied Thales the wise, 'if you will refrain from claiming as your own the theory I have taught you, whenever you begin to impart it to others, and will proclaim me and no other as the discoverer of this new law.' In truth that was a noble recompense, worthy of so great a man and beyond the reach of time. For that recompense has been paid to Thales down to this very day, and shall be paid to all eternity by all of us who have realized the truth of his discoveries concerning the heavens.

Such is the recompense I pay you, citizens of Carthage, through all the world, in return for the instruction that Carthage gave me as a boy. Everywhere I boast myself your city's nursling, everywhere and in every way I sing your praises, do zealous honour to your learning, give glory to your wealth and reverent worship to your gods. Now, therefore, I will begin by speaking of the god Aesculapius. With what more auspicious theme could I engage your ears? For he honours the citadel of our own Carthage with the protection of his undoubted presence. See, I will sing to you both in Greek and Latin a hymn which I have composed to his glory and long since dedicated to him. For I am well known as a frequenter of his rites, my worship of him is no new thing, my priesthood has received the smile of his favour, and ere now I have expressed my veneration for him both in prose and verse. Even so now I will chant a hymn to his glory both in Greek and Latin. I have prefaced it with a dialogue likewise in both tongues, in which Sabidius Severus and Julius Persius shall speak together. They are men who are deservedly bound alike to one another, and to you and the public weal by the closest ties of friendship. Both are equally distinguished for their learning, their eloquence, and their benevolence. It is difficult to say whether they are more remarkable for their great moderation, their ready energy, or the distinction of their career. They are united one to another by the most complete harmony. There is but one point on which rivalry exists between them, namely this: they dispute which has the greater love for Carthage; for this they contend with all their strength and all their soul, and neither is vanquished in the contest. Thinking, then, that you would be most delighted to listen to their conversation, and that such a theme suited my powers and would be a welcome offering to the god, I begin at the outset of my book by making one of my fellow students of Athens demand of Persius in Greek what was the subject of the declamation delivered by myself on the previous day in the temple of Aesculapius. As the dialogue proceeds I introduce Severus to their company. His part is written in the language of Rome. For Persius, although a master of Latin, shall yet to-day speak to you in the Attic tongue.

[19] L   A story of the physician Asclepiades.

The famous Asclepiades, who ranks among the greatest of doctors, indeed, if you except Hippocrates, as the very greatest, was the first to discover the use of wine as a remedy. It requires, however, to be administered at the proper moment, and it was in the discovery of the right moment that he showed especial skill, noting most carefully the slightest symptom of disorder or undue rapidity of the pulse. It chanced that once, when he was returning to town from his country house, he observed an enormous funeral procession in the suburbs of the city. A huge multitude of men who had come out to perform the last honours stood round about the bier, all of them plunged in deep sorrow and wearing worn and ragged apparel. He asked whom they were burying, but no one replied; so he went nearer to satisfy his curiosity and to see who it might be that was dead, or, it may be, in the hope to make some discovery in the interests of his profession. Be this as it may, he certainly snatched the man from the jaws of death as he lay there on the verge of burial. The poor fellow's limbs were already covered with spices, his mouth filled with sweet-smelling unguent. He had been anointed and was all ready for the pyre. But Asclepiades looked upon him, took careful note of certain signs, handled his body again and again and perceived that the life was still in him, though scarcely to be detected. Straightway he cried out 'He lives! Throw down your torches, take away your fire, demolish the pyre, take back the funeral feast and spread it on his board at home'. While he spoke a murmur arose; some said that they must take the doctor's word, others mocked at the physician's skill. At last, in spite of the opposition offered even by his relations, perhaps because they had already entered into possession of the dead man's property, perhaps because they did not yet believe his words, Asclepiades persuaded them to put off the burial for a brief space. Having thus rescued him from the hands of the undertaker, he carried the man home, as it were from the very mouth of hell, and straightway revived the spirit within him, and by means of certain drugs called forth the life that still lay hidden in the secret places of the body.

[20] L   A panegyric on his own talents.

There is a remarkable saying of a wise man concerning the pleasures of the table to the effect that, 'The first glass quenches thirst, the second makes merry, the third kindles desire, the fourth madness.' But in the case of a draught from the Muses' fountain the reverse is true. The more cups you drink and the more undiluted the draught the better it will be for your soul's good. The first cup is given by the master that teaches you to read and write and redeems you from ignorance, the second is given by the teacher of literature and equips you with learning, the third arms you with the eloquence of the rhetorician. Of these three cups most men drink. I, however, have drunk yet other cups at Athens - the imaginative draught of poetry, the clear draught of geometry, the sweet draught of music, the sharper draught of dialectic, and the nectar of all philosophy, whereof no man may ever drink enough. For Empedocles composed verse, Plato dialogues, Socrates hymns, Epicharmus music, Xenophon histories, and Xenocrates satire. But your friend Apuleius cultivates all these branches of art together and worships all nine Muses with equal zeal. His enthusiasm is, I admit, in advance of his capacity, but that perhaps makes him all the more praiseworthy, inasmuch as in all high enterprises it is the effort that merits praise, success is after all a matter of chance. As an illustration I may remind you, that the law punishes even the premeditation of crime, though the criminal's purpose may never have been carried out; the hand may be pure, but there is blood upon the soul, and that suffices. As, then, to call down the doom of law it suffices to purpose deeds meet for punishment, so to win praise it is sufficient to essay deeds worthy of the voice of fame; and what greater or surer claim to praise may any man have than to glorify Carthage? For you, her citizens, are full of learning to a man, your boys learn, your young men display, and your old men teach all manner of knowledge. Carthage is the venerable instructress of our province, Carthage is the heavenly muse of Africa, Carthage is the fount whence all the Roman world draws draughts of inspiration.

[21] L   An excuse for delay caused by social duties.

Sometimes even when haste is most incumbent on us, the delays that slow our progress may bring such honour, that often we shall be glad to have been thwarted of our purpose. For instance, take the case of persons who are compelled to journey in such high haste, that they prefer the perils of the saddle to a seat in a carriage on account of the trouble caused by their baggage, the weight of the vehicle, the delays to progress, the roughness of the track, not to mention the boulders that beset the route, the tree trunks fallen across the way, the rivers that intersect the level, and the steep slopes of the mountains. Well, then, those who wish to avoid all these obstacles select a horse of tried endurance, mettle, and speed, that is to say, one strong to bear and swift to go, like the horse described by Lucilius that
  "With one sole stride passes over plain and hill."
None the less, if as this horse bears them along on the wings of his speed, they chance to see some great personage, a man of noble birth, high wisdom, and universal fame, then, however pressing their haste, they refrain their speed that they may do him honour, slacken their pace and rein in their horse: then straightway leaping to the ground they transfer to their left hand the switch, which they carry wherewith to beat the horse, and with right hand thus left free approach the great man and salute him. If it please him for a while to ask questions of them, they will walk with him for a while and talk with him: in fact they will gladly suffer any amount of delay in the performance of the duty which they owe him.

[22] L   On the Virtues of Crates.

Crates, the well-known disciple of Diogenes, was honoured at Athens by the men of his own day as though he had been a household god. No house was ever closed to him, no head of a family had ever so close a secret as to regard Crates as an unseasonable intruder: he was always welcome; there was never a quarrel, never a lawsuit between kinsfolk, but he was accepted as mediator and his word was law. The poets tell that Hercules of old by his valour subdued all the wild monsters of legend, beast or man, and purged all the world of them. Even so our philosopher was a very Hercules in the conquest of anger, envy, avarice, lust, and all the other monstrous sins that beset the human soul. He expelled all these pests from their minds, purged households, and tamed vice. Nay, he too went half-naked and was distinguished by the club he carried, aye, and he sprang from that same Thebes, where Hercules, men say, was born. Even before he became Crates pure and simple, he was accounted one of the chief men in Thebes: his family was noble, his establishment numerous, his house had a fair and ample porch: his lands were rich and his clothing sumptuous. But later, when he understood that the wealth which had been transmitted to him, carried with it no safeguard whereon he might lean as on a staff in the ways of life, but that all was fragile and transitory, that all the wealth that is in all the world was of no assistance to a virtuous life....

[23] L   On the uncertainty of fortune.

Imagine some good ship, wrought by skilled hands, well built within and fairly adorned without, with rudder answering to the touch, taut rigging, lofty mast, resplendent tops, and shining sails; in a word, supplied with all such gear as may serve either for use or the delight of the eye. Imagine all this and then think how easily, if the tempest and no helmsman be her guide, the deep may engulf her or the reefs grind her to pieces with all her goodly gear. Again, when physicians enter a sick man's house to visit him, none of them bids the invalid be of good cheer on account of the exquisite balconies with which they see the house to be adorned, nor on account of the fretted ceilings all overlaid with gold, or the multitudes of handsome boys and youths that stand about the couch in his chamber. Rather the physician sits down by the man's bedside, takes his hand, feels it and explores the beat and movements of the pulse. If he discovers any irregularity or disorder, he informs his patient that he is seriously ill. Our rich man is bidden fast: on that day mid all the abundant store of his own house, he touches not even bread: and meanwhile all his slaves feast and are merry, and their servile state makes no difference to them.

[24] { fragment I } L   An improvisation.

You have asked me to give you an improvisation. Listen then. You have heard me speak prepared, now hear me unprepared. I think I risk but little in making an attempt to speak without premeditation in view of the extraordinary approval which I have won by my set speeches. For having pleased you by more serious efforts, I have no fear of displeasing you when I speak on a frivolous subject. But in order that you may know me in all my infinite variety, make trial of me in what Lucilius called
  "The improviser's formless art,"
and see whether I have the same skill at short notice as I have after preparation; if indeed there be any of you who have never heard the trifles I toss off on the spur of the moment. You will listen to them with the same critical exactitude that I have bestowed on their composition, but with greater complaisance, I hope, than I can feel in reciting them. For prudent judges are wont to judge finished works by a somewhat severe standard, but are far more complaisant to improvisations. For you weigh and examine all that is actually written, but in the case of extempore speaking pardon and criticism go hand in hand, as it is right they should. For what we read forth from manuscript will remain such as it was when set down, even though you say nothing, but those words which I must utter now and the travail of whose birth you must share with me, will be just such as your favour shall make them. For the more I modify my style to suit your taste, the more I shall please you. I see that you hear me gladly. From this moment it lies with you to furl or spread my sails, that they hang not slack and drooping nor be reefed and furled.

{ fragment II }

I will try to apply the saying of Aristippus. Aristippus was the founder of the Cyrenaic school of philosophy and was a disciple of Socrates - a fact which he regarded as the greater honour of the two. A certain tyrant asked him what benefit he had derived from so long and so devoted a study of philosophy. 'It has given me the power,' replied Aristippus, 'to converse with all men without fear or concern.'

{ fragment III }

My speech has begun with a certain abruptness of expression due to the suddenness with which the subject suggested itself to me. It is as though I were building a loose wall in which one must be content to pile the stones haphazard without filling the interior with rubble, levelling the front, or making all lines true to rule. For in building up this speech I shall not bring stones from my own quarry, hewn foursquare and planed on all sides with their outer edge cut smooth and level, so that the nail slips lightly over it. No! at every point I must fit in material that is rough and uneven, or slippery and smooth, or jagged, projecting and angular, or round and rolling. There will be no correction by rule, no measure or proportion, no attention to the perpendicular. For it is impossible to produce a thing on the spur of the moment and to give it careful consideration, nor is there anything in the world that can hope at one and the same time to be praised for its care and admired for its speed.

[25] { fragment IV } L   The fable of the fox and the crow.

I have complied with the desire of certain persons who just now begged me to speak extempore. But, by Hercules, I fear that I may suffer the fate that befell the crow in Aesop's fable: namely, that in the attempt to win this new species of glory I may lose the little I have already acquired. What is this parable, you ask me? I will gladly turn fabulist for awhile. A crow and a fox caught sight of a morsel of food at the same moment and hurried to seize it. Their greed was equal, but their speed was not. The fox ran, but the crow flew, with the result that the bird was too quick for the quadruped, sailed down the wind on extended pinions, outstripped and forestalled him. Then, rejoicing at his victory in the race for the booty, the crow flew into a neighbouring oak and sat out of reach on the topmost bough. The fox being unable to hurl a stone, launched a trick at him and reached him. For coming up to the foot of the tree, he stopped there, and seeing the robber high above him exulting in his booty, began to praise him with cunning words. 'Fool that I was thus vainly to contend with Apollo's bird! For his body is exquisitely proportioned, neither exceeding small nor yet too large, but just of the size demanded by use and beauty; his plumage is soft, his head sharp and fine, his beak strong. Nay, more, he has wings with which to follow, keen eyes with which to see, and claws with which to seize his prey. As for his colour, what can I say? There are two transcendent hues, the blackness of pitch and the whiteness of snow, the colours that distinguish night and day. Both of these hues Apollo has given to the birds he loves, white to the swan and black to the crow. Would he had given the latter a voice like the sweet song he has conferred upon the swan, that so fair a bird, so far excelling all the fowls of the air, might not live, as now he lives, voiceless, the darling of the god of eloquence, but himself mute and tongueless.' When the crow heard that, though possessed of so many qualities, there yet lacked this one, he was seized with a desire to utter as loud a cry as possible, that the swan might not have the advantage of him in this respect at any rate, and forgetting the morsel which he held in his beak, he opened his mouth to its widest extent, and thus lost by his song what his wings had won him, while the fox recovered by craft what his feet had lost him. Let us reduce this fable to the smallest number of words possible. The crow, to prove himself musical - for the fox pretended that this, the absence of a voice, was the sole slur on such exquisite beauty - began to croak, and delivered over the spoil which he carried in his mouth to the enemy who had thus ensnared him.

[26] { fragment V } L   A transition from Greek to Latin.

I have known for a long time what it is your demonstrations demand: namely, that I should deal with the rest of my material in Latin. For I remember that at the very beginning, when you were divided in opinion, I promised that neither party among you, neither those who insisted on Greek nor those who insisted on Latin, should go away without hearing the language he desired. Wherefore, if it seems good to you, let us consider that my speech has been Attic long enough. It is time to migrate from Greece to Latium. For we are now almost half through our inquiry and, as far as I can see, the second half does not yield to the first part which I have delivered in Greek. It is as strong in argument, as full of epigram, as rich in illustration and as admirable in style.


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