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Cicero : Tusculan Disputations

-   Book 5 , 68-121


Translated by C.D. Yonge (1877). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section. Click on ** to go to the translator's footnotes.



Previous sections (1-67)

[24.] [68] But that what I propose to demonstrate to you may not rest on mere words only, I must set before you the picture of something, as it were, living and moving in the world, that may dispose us more for the improvement of the understanding and real knowledge. Let us, then, pitch upon some man perfectly acquainted with the most excellent arts; let us present him for a while to our own thoughts, and figure him to our own imaginations. In the first place, he must necessarily be of an extraordinary capacity; for virtue is not easily connected with dull minds. Secondly, he must have a great desire of discovering truth, from whence will arise that threefold production of the mind; one of which depends on knowing things, and explaining nature: the other in defining what we ought to desire, and what to avoid: the third in judging of consequences and impossibilities: in which consists both subtilty in disputing, and also clearness of judgment. [69] L   Now with what pleasure must the mind of a wise man be affected, which continually dwells in the midst of such cares and occupations as these, when he views the revolutions and motions of the whole world, and sees those innumerable stars in the heavens, which, though fixed in their places, have yet one motion in common with the whole universe, and observes the seven other stars, some higher, some lower, each maintaining their own course, while their motions, though wandering, have certain defined and appointed spaces to run through, the sight of which doubtless urged and encouraged those ancient philosophers to exercise their investigating spirit on many other things. Hence arose an inquiry after the beginnings, and, as it were, seeds from which all things were produced and composed; what was the origin of every kind of thing, whether animate or inanimate, articulately speaking or mute; what occasioned their beginning and end, and by what alteration and change one thing was converted into another: whence the earth originated, and by what weights it was balanced: by what caverns the seas were supplied: by what gravity all things being carried down tend always to the middle of the world, which in any round body is the lowest place.

[25.] [70] A mind employed on such subjects, and which night and day contemplates them, contains in itself that precept of the Delphic God, so as to "know itself," and to perceive its connexion with the divine reason, from whence it is filled with an insatiable joy. For reflections on the power and nature of the Gods raise in us a desire of imitating their eternity. Nor does the mind, that sees the necessary dependences and connexions that one cause has with another, think it possible that it should be itself confined to the shortness of this life. Those causes, though they proceed from eternity to eternity, are governed by reason and understanding. [71] L   And he who beholds them and examines them, or rather he whose view takes in all the parts and boundaries of things, with what tranquillity of mind does he look on all human affairs, and on all that is nearer him! Hence proceeds the knowledge of virtue; hence arise the kinds and species of virtues; hence are discovered those things which nature regards as the bounds and extremities of good and evil; by this it is discovered to what all duties ought to be referred, and which is the most eligible manner of life. And when these and similar points have been investigated, the principal consequence which is deduced from them, and that which is our main object in this discussion, is the establishment of the point - that virtue is of itself sufficient to a happy life.

[72] The third qualification of our wise man is the next to be considered, which goes through and spreads itself over every part of wisdom; it is that whereby we define each particular thing, distinguish the genus from its species, connect consequences, draw just conclusions, and distinguish truth from falsehood, which is the very art and science of disputing; which is not only of the greatest use in the examination of what passes in the world, but is likewise the most rational entertainment, and that which is most becoming to true wisdom. Such are its effects in retirement. Now let our wise man be considered as protecting the republic; what can be more excellent than such a character? By his prudence he will discover the true interests of his fellow-citizens, by his justice he will be prevented from applying what belongs to the public to his own use; and in short, he will be ever governed by all the virtues which are many and various? To these let us add the advantage of his friendships; in which the learned reckon not only a natural harmony and agreement of sentiments throughout the conduct of life, but the utmost pleasure and satisfaction in conversing and passing our time constantly with one another. What can be wanting to such a life as this, to make it more happy than it is? Fortune herself must yield to a life stored with such joys. Now if it be a happiness to rejoice in such goods of the mind, that is to say, in such virtues, and if all wise men enjoy thoroughly these pleasures, it must necessarily be granted that all such are happy.

[26.] [73] L   A. What, when in torments and on the rack?

M. Do you imagine I am speaking of him as laid on roses and violets? Is it allowable even for Epicurus (who only puts on the appearance of being a philosopher, and who himself assumed that name for himself,) to say, (though as matters stand, I commend him for his saying,) that a wise man might at all times cry out, though he be burned, tortured, cut to pieces, "How little I regard it!" Shall this be said by one who defines all evil as pain, and measures every good by pleasure; who could ridicule whatever we call either honourable or base, and could declare of us that we were employed about words, and uttering mere empty sounds; and that nothing is to be regarded by us, but as it is perceived to be smooth or rough by the body? What, shall such a man as this, as I said, whose understanding is little superior to the beasts, be at liberty to forget himself; and not only to despise fortune, when the whole of his good and evil is in the power of fortune, but to say, that he is happy in the most racking torture, when he had actually declared pain to be not only the greatest evil, but the only one? [74] Nor did he take any trouble to provide himself with those remedies which might have enabled him to bear pain; such as firmness of mind, a shame of doing anything base, exercise, and the habit of patience, precepts of courage, and a manly hardiness: but he says that he supports himself on the single recollection of past pleasures, as if anyone, when the weather was so hot as that he was scarcely able to bear it, should comfort himself by recollecting that he was once in my country Arpinum, where he was surrounded on every side by cooling streams: for I do not apprehend how past pleasures can allay present evils. [75] L   But when he says that a wise man is always happy, who would have no right to say so if he were consistent with himself, what may they not do, who allow nothing to be desirable, nothing to be looked on as good but what is honourable? Let, then, the Peripatetics and old Academics follow my example, and at length leave off muttering to themselves; and openly and with a clear voice let them be bold to say, that a happy life may not be inconsistent with the agonies of Phalaris's bull.

[27.] [76] But to dismiss the subtleties of the Stoics, which I am sensible I have employed more than was necessary, let us admit of three kinds of goods: and let them really be kinds of goods, provided no regard is had to the body, and to external circumstances, as entitled to the appellation of good in any other sense than because we are obliged to use them: but let those other divine goods spread themselves far in every direction, and reach the very heavens. Why, then, may I not call him happy, nay, the happiest of men, who has attained them? Shall a wise man be afraid of pain? which is, indeed, the greatest enemy to our opinion. For I am persuaded that we are prepared and fortified sufficiently, by the disputations of the foregoing days, against our own death, or that of our friends, against grief and the other perturbations of the mind. But pain seems to be the sharpest adversary of virtue: that it is which menaces us with burning torches; that it is which threatens to crush our fortitude, and greatness of mind, and patience. [77] L   Shall virtue then yield to this? Shall the happy life of a wise and consistent man succumb to this? Good Gods! how base would this be! Spartan boys will bear to have their bodies torn by rods without uttering a groan. I myself have seen at Lacedaemon, troops of young men, with incredible earnestness contending together with their hands and feet, with their teeth and nails, nay even ready to expire, rather than own themselves conquered. Is any country of barbarians more uncivilized or desolate than India? Yet they have amongst them some that are held for wise men, who never wear any clothes all their life long, and who bear the snow of Caucasus, and the piercing cold of winter, without any pain: and who if they come in contact with fire endure being burned without a groan. [78] The women too, in India, on the death of their husbands have a regular contest, and apply to the judge to have it determined which of them was best beloved by him; for it is customary there for one man to have many wives. She in whose favour it is determined exults greatly, and being attended by her relations is laid on the funeral pile with her husband: the others, who are postponed, walk away very much dejected. Custom can never be superior to nature: for nature is never to be got the better of. But our minds are infected by sloth and idleness, and luxury, and languor, and indolence: we have enervated them by opinions, and bad customs. Who is there who is unacquainted with the customs of the Egyptians? Their minds being tainted by pernicious opinions, they are ready to bear any torture, rather than hurt an ibis, a snake, a cat, a dog, or a crocodile: and should anyone inadvertently have hurt any of these animals, he will submit to any punishment. [79] L   I am speaking of men only. As to the beasts, do they not bear cold and hunger, running about in woods, and on mountains and deserts? will they not fight for their young ones till they are wounded? Are they afraid of any attacks or blows? I mention not what the ambitious will suffer for honour's sake, or those who are desirous of praise on account of glory, or lovers to gratify their lust. Life is full of such instances.

[28.] [80] But let us not dwell too much on these questions, but rather let us return to our subject. I say, and say again, that happiness will submit even to be tormented; and that in pursuit of justice, and temperance, and still more especially and principally fortitude, and greatness of soul, and patience, it will not stop short at sight of the executioner; and when all other virtues proceed calmly to the torture, that one will never halt, as I said, on the outside and threshold of the prison: for what can be baser, what can carry a worse appearance, than to be left alone, separated from those beautiful attendants? not however that this is by any means possible: for neither can the virtues hold together without happiness, nor happiness without the virtues: [81] L   so that they will not suffer her to desert them, but will carry her along with them, to whatever torments, to whatever pain they are led. For it is the peculiar quality of a wise man to do nothing that he may repent of, nothing against his inclination: but always to act nobly, with constancy, gravity, and honesty: to depend on nothing as certainty: to wonder at nothing, when it falls out, as if it appeared strange and unexpected to him: to be independent of everyone, and abide by his own opinion. For my part, I cannot form an idea of anything happier than this. [82] The conclusion of the Stoics is indeed easy; for since they are persuaded that the end of good is to live agreeably to nature, and to be consistent with that - as a wise man should do so, not only because it is his duty, but because it is in his power, it must of course follow, that whoever has the chief good in his power, has his happiness so too. And thus the life of a wise man is always happy. You have here what I think may be confidently said of a happy life, and as things now stand, very truly also, unless you can advance something better.

[29.] A. Indeed I cannot; but I should be glad to prevail on you, unless it is troublesome (as you are under no confinement from obligations to any particular sect, but gather from all of them whatever strikes you most as having the appearance of probability), as you just now seemed to advise the Peripatetics and the Old Academy, boldly to speak out without reserve, "that wise men are always the happiest," - I should be glad to hear how you think it consistent for them to say so, when you have said so much against that opinion, and the conclusions of the Stoics.

[83] L   M. I will make use, then, of that liberty which no one has the privilege of using in philosophy but those of our school, whose discourses determine nothing, but take in everything, leaving them, unsupported by the authority of any particular person, to be judged of by others, according to their weight. And as you seem desirous of knowing how it is that, notwithstanding the different opinions of philosophers with regard to the ends of goods, virtue has still sufficient security for the effecting of a happy life - which security, as we are informed, Carneades used indeed to dispute against; but he disputed as against the Stoics, whose opinions he combated with great zeal and vehemence - I however shall handle the question with more temper; for if the Stoics have rightly settled the ends of goods, the affair is at an end; for a wise man must necessarily be always happy. [84] But let us examine, if we can, the particular opinions of the others, that so this excellent decision, if I may so call it, in favour of a happy life, may be agreeable to the opinions and discipline of all.

[30.] These then are the opinions, as I think, that are held and defended: the first four are simple ones; "that nothing is good but what is honest," according to the Stoics: "nothing good but pleasure," as Epicurus maintains: "nothing good but a freedom from pain," as Hieronymus ** asserts: "nothing good but an enjoyment of the principal, or all, or the greatest goods of nature," as Carneades maintained against the Stoics:- [85] L   these are simple, the others are mixed propositions. Then there are three kinds of goods; the greatest being those of the mind, the next best those of the body, the third are external goods, as the Peripatetics call them, and the old Academics differ very little from them. Dinomachus ** and Calliphon ** have coupled pleasure with honesty: but Diodorus, ** the Peripatetic, has joined indolence to honesty. These are the opinions that have some footing; for those of Ariston, ** Pyrrhon, ** Herillus, ** and of some others, are quite out of date. Now let us see what weight these men have in them, excepting the Stoics, whose opinion I think I have sufficiently defended; and indeed I have explained what the Peripatetics have to say; excepting that Theophrastus, and those who followed him, dread and abhor pain in too weak a manner. The others may go on to exaggerate the gravity and dignity of virtue, as usual; and then, after they have extolled it to the skies, with the usual extravagance of good orators, it is easy to reduce the other topics to nothing by comparison, and to hold them up to contempt. They who think that praise deserves to be sought after, even at the expense of pain, are not at liberty to deny those men to be happy, who have obtained it. Though they may be under some evils, yet this name of happy has a very wide application.

[31.] [86] For even as trading is said to be lucrative, and farming advantageous, not because the one never meets with any loss, nor the other with any damage from the inclemency of the weather, but because they succeed in general: so life may be properly called happy, not from its being entirely made up of good things, but because it abounds with these to a great and considerable degree. [87] L   By this way of reasoning, then, a happy life may attend virtue even to the moment of execution; nay, may descend with her into Phalaris's bull, according to Aristotle, Xenocrates, Speusippus, Polemon; and will not be gained over by any allurements to forsake her. Of the same opinion will Calliphon and Diodorus be: for they are both of them such friends to virtue, as to think that all things should be discarded and far removed that are incompatible with it. The rest seem to be more hampered with these doctrines, but yet they get clear of them; such as Epicurus, Hieronymus, and whoever else thinks it worthwhile to defend the deserted Carneades: for there is not one of them who does not think the mind to be judge of those goods, and able sufficiently to instruct him how to despise what has the appearance only of good or evil. [88] For what seems to you to be the case with Epicurus, is the case also with Hieronymus and Carneades, and indeed with all the rest of them: for who is there who is not sufficiently prepared against death and pain? I will begin, with your leave, with him whom we call soft and voluptuous. What! does he seem to you to be afraid of death or pain, when he calls the day of his death happy; and who, when he is afflicted by the greatest pains, silences them all by recollecting arguments of his own discovering? And this is not done in such a manner as to give room for imagining that he talks thus wildly from some sudden impulse: but his opinion of death is, that on the dissolution of the animal, all sense is lost; and what is deprived of sense is, as he thinks, what we have no concern at all with. And as to pain too, he has certain rules to follow then: if it be great, the comfort is, that it must be short; if it be of long continuance, then it must be supportable. [89] L   What then? Do those grandiloquent gentlemen state anything better than Epicurus, in opposition to these two things which distress us the most? And as to other things, do not Epicurus and the rest of the philosophers seem sufficiently prepared? Who is there who does not dread poverty? And yet no true philosopher ever can dread it.

[32.] But with how little is this man himself satisfied? No one has said more on frugality. For when a man is far removed from those things which occasion a desire of money, from love, ambition, or other daily extravagance, why should he be fond of money, or concern himself at all about it? [90] Could the Scythian Anacharsis ** disregard money, and shall not our philosophers be able to do so? We are informed of an epistle of his, in these words: "Anacharsis to Hanno, greeting. My clothing is the same as that with which the Scythians cover themselves; the hardness of my feet supplies the want of shoes; the ground is my bed, hunger my sauce, my food milk, cheese, and flesh. So you may come to me as to a man in want of nothing. But as to those presents you take so much pleasure in, you may dispose of them to your own citizens, or to the immortal gods." And almost all philosophers, of all schools, excepting those who are warped from right reason by a vicious disposition, might have been of this same opinion. [91] L   Socrates, when on one occasion he saw a great quantity of gold and silver carried in a procession, cried out, "How many things are there which I do not want!"

Xenocrates, when some ambassadors from Alexander had brought him fifty talents, which was a very large sum of money in those times, especially at Athens, took the ambassadors to sup in the Academy; and placed just a sufficiency before them, without any apparatus. When they asked him, the next day, to whom he wished the money which they had for him to be paid: "What?" said he, "did you not perceive by our slight repast of yesterday, that I had no occasion for money?" But when he perceived that they were somewhat dejected, he accepted of thirty minae, that he might not seem to treat with disrespect the king's generosity. [92] But Diogenes took a greater liberty, like a Cynic, when Alexander asked him if he wanted anything: "Just at present," said he, "I wish that you would stand a little out of the line between me and the sun," for Alexander was hindering him from sunning himself. And indeed this very man used to maintain how much he surpassed the Persian king, in his manner of life and fortune; for that he himself was in want of nothing, while the other never had enough; and that he had no inclination for those pleasures of which the other could never get enough to satisfy himself: and that the other could never obtain his.

[33.] [93] L   You see, I imagine, how Epicurus has divided his kinds of desires, not very acutely perhaps, but yet usefully: saying, that they are "partly natural and necessary; partly natural, but not necessary; partly neither. That those which are necessary may be supplied almost for nothing; for that the things which nature requires are easily obtained." As to the second kind of desires, his opinion is, that anyone may easily either enjoy or go without them. And with regard to the third, since they are utterly frivolous, being neither allied to necessity nor nature, he thinks that they should be entirely rooted out. [94] On this topic a great many arguments are adduced by the Epicureans; and those pleasures which they do not despise in a body, they disparage one by one, and seem rather for lessening the number of them: for as to wanton pleasures, on which subject they say a great deal, these, say they, are easy, common, and within anyone's reach; and they think that if nature requires them, they are not to be estimated by birth, condition, or rank, but by shape, age, and person: and that it is by no means difficult to refrain from them, should health, duty, or reputation require it; but that pleasures of this kind may be desirable, where they are attended with no inconvenience, but can never be of any use. [95] L   And the assertions which Epicurus makes with respect to the whole of pleasure, are such as show his opinion to be that pleasure is always desirable, and to be pursued merely because it is pleasure; and for the same reason pain is to be avoided, because it is pain. So that a wise man will always adopt such a system of counterbalancing as to do himself the justice to avoid pleasure, should pain ensue from it in too great a proportion; and will submit to pain, provided the effects of it are to produce a greater pleasure: so that all pleasurable things, though the corporeal senses are the judges of them, are still to be referred to the mind, [96] on which account the body rejoices, whilst it perceives a present pleasure; but that the mind not only perceives the present as well as the body, but foresees it, while it is coming, and even when it is past will not let it quite slip away. So that a wise man enjoys a continual series of pleasures, uniting the expectation of future pleasure to the recollection of what he has already tasted. The like notions are applied by them to high living; and the magnificence and expensiveness of entertainments are deprecated, because nature is satisfied at a small expense.

[34.] [97] L   For who does not see this, that an appetite is the best sauce? When Darius, in his flight from the enemy, had drunk some water which was muddy and tainted with dead bodies, he declared that he had never drunk anything more pleasant; the fact was, that he had never drunk before when he was thirsty. Nor had Ptolemy ever eaten when he was hungry: for as he was travelling over Egypt, his company not keeping up with him, he had some coarse bread presented him in a cottage: upon which he said, "Nothing ever seemed to him pleasanter than that bread." They relate too of Socrates, that, once when he was walking very fast till the evening, on his being asked why he did so, his reply was that he was purchasing an appetite by walking, that he might sup the better. [98] And do we not see what the Lacedaemonians provide in their Phiditia? where the tyrant Dionysius supped, but told them he did not at all like that black broth, which was their principal dish; on which he who dressed it said, "It was no wonder, for it wanted seasoning." Dionysius asked what that seasoning was; to which it was replied, "Fatigue in hunting, sweating, a race on the banks of Eurotas, hunger, and thirst:" for these are the seasonings to the Lacedaemonian banquets. And this may not only be conceived from the custom of men, but from the beasts, who are satisfied with anything that is thrown before them, provided it is not unnatural, and they seek no farther. [99] L   Some entire cities, taught by custom, delight in parsimony, as I said but just now of the Lacedaemonians. Xenophon has given an account of the Persian diet; who never, as he saith, use anything but cresses with their bread, not but that, should nature require anything more agreeable, many things might be easily supplied by the ground, and plants in great abundance, and of incomparable sweetness. Add to this, strength and health, as the consequence of this abstemious way of living. [100] Now compare with this, those who sweat and belch, being crammed with eating, like fatted oxen: then will you perceive that they who pursue pleasure most, attain it least: and that the pleasure of eating lies not in satiety, but appetite.

[35.] They report of Timotheus, a famous man at Athens, and the head of the city, that having supped with Plato, and being extremely delighted with his entertainment, on seeing him the next day, he said, "Your suppers are not only agreeable whilst I partake of them, but the next day also." Besides, the understanding is impaired when we are full with over-eating and drinking. There is an excellent epistle of Plato to Dion's relations, in which there occurs as nearly as possible these words: "When I came there, that happy life so much talked of, devoted to Italian and Syracusan entertainments, was no ways agreeable to me; to be crammed twice a day, and never to have the night to yourself, and the other things which are the accompaniments of this kind of life, by which a man will never be made the wiser, but will be rendered much less temperate; [101] L   for it must be an extraordinary disposition that can be temperate in such circumstances." How, then, can a life be pleasant without prudence and temperance? Hence you discover the mistake of Sardanapalus, the wealthiest king of the Assyrians, who ordered it to be engraved on his tomb,

I still have what in food I did exhaust,
But what I left, though excellent, is lost.

"What less than this," says Aristotle, "could be inscribed on the tomb, not of a king but an ox?" He said that he possessed those things when dead, which, in his lifetime, he could have no longer than whilst he was enjoying them. [102] Why, then, are riches desired? And wherein doth poverty prevent us from being happy? In the want, I imagine, of statues, pictures, and diversions. But if anyone is delighted with these things, have not the poor people the enjoyment of them more than they who are the owners of them in the greatest abundance? For we have great numbers of them displayed publicly in our city. And whatever store of them private people have, they cannot have a great number, and they but seldom see them, only when they go to their country seats; and some of them must be stung to the heart when they consider how they came by them. The day would fail me, should I be inclined to defend the cause of poverty: the thing is manifest, and nature daily informs us how few things there are, and how trifling they are, of which she really stands in need.

[36.] [103] L   Let us inquire, then, if obscurity, the want of power, or even the being unpopular, can prevent a wise man from being happy. Observe if popular favour, and this glory which they are so fond of, be not attended with more uneasiness than pleasure. Our friend Demosthenes was certainly very weak in declaring himself pleased with the whisper of a woman who was carrying water, as is the custom in Greece, and who whispered to another, "That is he - that is Demosthenes." What could be weaker than this? and yet what an orator he was! But although he had learned to speak to others, he had conversed but little with himself. [104] We may perceive, therefore, that popular glory is not desirable of itself; nor is obscurity to be dreaded. "I came to Athens," saith Democritus, "and there was no one there that knew me:" this was a moderate and grave man who could glory in his obscurity. Shall musicians compose their tunes to their own tastes; and shall a philosopher, master of a much better art, seek to ascertain, not what is most true, but what will please the people? Can anything be more absurd than to despise the vulgar as mere unpolished mechanics, taken singly, and to think them of consequence when collected into a body? These wise men would despise our ambitious pursuits, and our vanities, and would reject all the honours which the people could voluntarily offer to them: but we know not how to despise them till we begin to repent of having accepted them. [105] L   There is an anecdote related by Heraclitus the natural philosopher, of Hermodorus the chief of the Ephesians, that he said, "that all the Ephesians ought to be punished with death, for saying, when they had expelled Hermodorus out of their city, that they would have no one amongst them better than another; but that if there were any such, he might go elsewhere to some other people." Is not this the case with the people everywhere? do they not hate every virtue that distinguishes itself? What! was not Aristides (I had rather instance in the Greeks than ourselves) banished his country for being eminently just? What troubles, then, are they free from who have no connexion whatever with the people! What is more agreeable than a learned retirement? I speak of that learning which makes us acquainted with the boundless extent of nature, and the universe, and which even while we remain in this world discovers to us both heaven, earth, and sea.

[37.] [106] If, then, honour and riches have no value, what is there else to be afraid of? Banishment, I suppose; which is looked on as the greatest evil. Now, if the evil of banishment proceeds not from ourselves, but from the perverse disposition of the people, I have just now declared how contemptible it is. But if to leave one's country be miserable, the provinces are full of miserable men; very few of the settlers in which ever return to their country again. But exiles are deprived of their property! [107] L   What, then! has there not been enough said on bearing poverty? But with regard to banishment, if we examine the nature of things, not the ignominy of the name, how little does it differ from constant travelling? in which some of the most famous philosophers have spent their whole life: as Xenocrates, Crantor, Arcesilas, Lacydes, Aristotle, Theophrastus, Zenon, Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Antipater, Carneades, Panaetius, Clitomachus, Philon, Antiochus, Posidonius, and innumerable others; who from their first setting out never returned home again. Now what ignominy can a wise man be affected with (for it is of such a one that I am speaking) who can be guilty of nothing which deserves it; for there is no occasion to comfort one who is banished for his deserts. [108] Lastly, they can easily reconcile themselves to every accident who measure all their objects and pursuits in life by the standard of pleasure; so that in whatever place that is supplied, there they may live happily. Thus what Teucer said may be applied to every case:

Wherever I am happy, is my country.

Socrates, indeed, when he was asked where he belonged to, replied, "The world;" for he looked upon himself as a citizen and inhabitant of the whole world. How was it with T. Albucius? Did he not follow his philosophical studies with the greatest satisfaction at Athens, although he was banished? which, however, would not have happened to him, if he had obeyed the laws of Epicurus, and lived peaceably in the republic. [109] L   In what was Epicurus happier, living in his own country, than Metrodorus who lived at Athens? Or did Plato's happiness exceed that of Xenocrates, or Polemon, or Arcesilas? Or is that city to be valued much, that banishes all her good and wise men? Damaratus, the father of our king Tarquin, not being able to bear the tyrant Cypselus, fled from Corinth to Tarquinii, settled there, and had children. Was it, then, an unwise act in him to prefer the liberty of banishment to slavery at home?

[38.] [110] Besides the emotions of the mind, all griefs and anxieties are assuaged by forgetting them, and turning our thoughts to pleasure. Therefore, it was not without reason that Epicurus presumed to say that a wise man abounds with good things, because he may always have his pleasures: from whence it follows, as he thinks, that that point is gained, which is the subject of our present inquiry, that a wise man is always happy. [111] L   What! though he should be deprived of the senses of seeing and hearing? Yes; for he holds those things very cheap. For, in the first place, what are the pleasures of which we are deprived by that dreadful thing, blindness? For though they allow other pleasures to be confined to the senses, yet the things which are perceived by the sight do not depend wholly on the pleasure the eyes receive; as is the case when we taste, smell, touch, or hear; for, in respect of all these senses, the organs themselves are the seat of pleasure; but it is not so with the eyes. For it is the mind which is entertained by what we see; but the mind may be entertained in many ways, even though we could not see at all. I am speaking of a learned and a wise man, with whom to think is to live. But thinking in the case of a wise man does not altogether require the use of his eyes in his investigations; [112] for if night does not strip him of his happiness, why should blindness, which resembles night, have that effect? For the reply of Antipater the Cyrenaic, to some women who bewailed his being blind, though it is a little too obscene, is not without its significance. "What do you mean?" saith he; "do you think the night can furnish no pleasure?" And we find by his magistracies and his actions, that old Appius ** too, who was blind for many years, was not prevented from doing whatever was required of him, with respect either to the republic or his own affairs. It is said, that C. Drusus's house was crowded with clients. When they, whose business it was, could not see how to conduct themselves, they applied to a blind guide.

[39.] [113] L   When I was a boy, Cn. Aufidius, a blind man, who had served the office of praetor, not only gave his opinion in the senate, and was ready to assist his friends, but wrote a Greek history, and had a considerable acquaintance with literature. Diodotus the Stoic was blind, and lived many years at my house. He, indeed, which is scarcely credible, besides applying himself more than usual to philosophy, and playing on the flute, agreeably to the custom of the Pythagoreans, and having books read to him night and day, in all which he did not want eyes, contrived to teach geometry, which, one would think, could hardly be done without the assistance of eyes, telling his scholars how and where to draw every line. They relate of Asclepiades, a native of Eretria, and no obscure philosopher, when someone asked him what inconvenience he suffered from his blindness, that his reply was, "He was at the expense of another servant." So that, as the most extreme poverty may be borne, if you please, as is daily the case with some in Greece; so blindness may easily be borne, provided you have the support of good health in other respects. [114] Democritus was so blind he could not distinguish white from black: but he knew the difference betwixt good and evil, just and unjust, honourable and base, the useful and useless, great and small. Thus one may live happily without distinguishing colours; but without acquainting yourself with things, you cannot; and this man was of opinion, that the intense application of the mind was taken off by the objects that presented themselves to the eye, and while others often could not see what was before their feet, he travelled through all infinity. It is reported also that Homer ** was blind, but we observe his painting, as well as his poetry. What country, what coast, what part of Greece, what military attacks, what dispositions of battle, what army, what ship, what motions of men and animals can be mentioned which he has not described in such a manner as to enable us to see what he could not see himself? What, then! can we imagine that Homer, or any other learned man, has ever been in want of pleasure and entertainment for his mind? [115] L   Were it not so, would Anaxagoras, or this very Democritus, have left their estates and patrimonies, and given themselves up to the pursuit of acquiring this divine pleasure? It is thus that the poets who have represented Tiresias the augur as a wise man and blind, never exhibit him as bewailing his blindness. And Homer, too, after he had described Polyphemus as a monster and a wild man, represents him talking with his ram, and speaking of his good fortune, inasmuch as he could go wherever he pleased and touch what he would. And so far he was right, for that Cyclops was a being of not much more understanding than his ram.

[40.] [116] Now, as to the evil of being deaf: M. Crassus was a little thick of hearing; but it was more uneasiness to him that he heard himself ill spoken of, though, in my opinion, he did not deserve it. Our Epicureans cannot understand Greek, nor the Greeks Latin: now, they are deaf reciprocally as to each other's language, and we are all truly deaf with regard to those innumerable languages which we do not understand. They do not hear the voice of the harper; but then they do not hear the grating of a saw when it is setting, or the grunting of a hog when his throat is being cut, nor the roaring of the sea when they are desirous of rest. And if they should chance to be fond of singing, they ought in the first place to consider that many wise men lived happily before music was discovered; besides, they may have more pleasure in reading verses than in hearing them sung. [117] L   Then, as I before referred the blind to the pleasures of hearing, so I may the deaf to the pleasures of sight: moreover, whoever can converse with himself doth not need the conversation of another. But suppose all these misfortunes to meet in one person: suppose him blind and deaf - let him be afflicted with the sharpest pains of body, which, in the first place, generally of themselves make an end of him; still, should they continue so long, and the pain be so exquisite, that we should be unable to assign any reason for our being so afflicted - still, why, good Gods! should we be under any difficulty? For there is a retreat at hand: death is that retreat - a shelter where we shall for ever be insensible. Theodorus said to Lysimachus, who threatened him with death, "It is a great matter, indeed, for you to have acquired the power of a Spanish fly!" [118] When Perseus entreated Paulus not to lead him in triumph, "That is a matter which you have in your own power," said Paulus. I said many things about death in our first day's disputation, when death was the subject; and not a little the next day, when I treated of pain; which things if you recollect, there can be no danger of your looking upon death as undesirable, or at least it will not be dreadful.

That custom which is common among the Grecians at their banquets should, in my opinion, be observed in life:- Drink, say they, or leave the company: and rightly enough; for a guest should either enjoy the pleasure of drinking with others, or else not stay till he meets with affronts from those that are in liquor. Thus, those injuries of fortune which you cannot bear, you should flee from.

[41.] This is the very same which is said by Epicurus and Hieronymus. [119] L   Now, if those philosophers, whose opinion it is that virtue has no power of itself, and who say that the conduct which we denominate honourable and laudable is really nothing, and is only an empty circumstance set off with an unmeaning sound, can nevertheless maintain that a wise man is always happy, what, think you, may be done by the Socratic and Platonic philosophers. Some of these allow such superiority to the goods of the mind, as quite to eclipse what concerns the body and all external circumstances. But others do not admit these to be goods; they make everything depend on the mind: [120] whose disputes Carneades used, as a sort of honorary arbitrator, to determine. For, as what seemed goods to the Peripatetics were allowed to be advantages by the Stoics, and as the Peripatetics allowed no more to riches, good health, and other things of that sort, than the Stoics, when these things were considered according to their reality, and not by mere names, his opinion was that there was no ground for disagreeing. Therefore, let the philosophers of other schools see how they can establish this point also. It is very agreeable to me that they make some professions worthy of being uttered by the mouth of a philosopher, with regard to a wise man's having always the means of living happily.

[42.] [121] L   But as we are to depart in the morning, let us remember these five days' discussions; though, indeed, I think I shall commit them to writing: for how can I better employ the leisure which I have, of whatever kind it is, and whatever it be owing to? and I will send these five books also to my friend Brutus, by whom I was not only incited to write on philosophy, but, I may say, provoked. And by so doing, it is not easy to say what service I may be of to others; at all events, in my own various and acute afflictions, which surround me on all sides, I cannot find any better comfort for myself.

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FOOTNOTES

11. Hieronymus was a Rhodian, and a pupil of Aristotle, flourishing about 300 B.C. He is frequently mentioned by Cicero.

12. We know very little of Dinomachus. Some MSS. have Clitomachus.

13. Callipho was in all probability a pupil of Epicurus, but we have no certain information about him.

14. Diodorus was a Syrian, and succeeded Critolaus as the head of the Peripatetic School at Athens.

15. Aristo was a native of Ceos, and a pupil of Lycon, who succeeded Straton as the head of the Peripatetic School, 270 B.C.. He afterwards himself succeeded Lycon.

16. Pyrrho was a native of Elis, and the originator of the sceptical theories of some of the ancient philosophers. He was a contemporary of Alexander.

17. Herillus was a disciple of Zeno of Cittium, and therefore a Stoic. He did not, however, follow all the opinions of his master: he held that knowledge was the chief good. Some of the treatises of Cleanthes were written expressly to confute him.

18. Anacharsis was (Herod, iv. 76) son of Gnurus and brother of Saulius, king of Thrace. He came to Athens while Solon was occupied in framing laws for his people; and by the simplicity of his way of living, and his acute observations on the manners of the Greeks, he excited such general admiration, that he was reckoned by some writers among the seven wise men of Greece.

19. This was Appius Claudius Caecus, who was censor 310 B.C., and who, according to Livy, was afflicted with blindness by the gods for persuading the Potitii to instruct the public servants in the way of sacrificing to Hercules. He it was who made the Via Appia.

20. The fact of Homer's blindness rests on a passage in the Hymn to Apollo, quoted by Thucydides as a genuine work of Homer, and which is thus spoken of by one of the most accomplished scholars that this country or this age has ever produced:-"They are indeed beautiful verses, and if none worse had ever been attributed to Homer, the Prince of Poets would have had little reason to complain.

"He has been describing the Delian festival in honour of Apollo and Diana, and concludes this part of the poem with an address to the women of that island, to whom it is to be supposed that he had become familiarly known by his frequent recitations:

Χαίρετε δ᾽ υμεῖς πᾶσαι, ἐμεῖο δὲ καὶ μετόπισθε
μνήσασθ᾽, ὅπποτέ κέν τις ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων
ἐνθάδ᾽ ἀνείρηται ξεῖνος ταλαπείριος ἐλθὼν
ὦ κοῦραι, τίς δ᾽ ὕμμιν ἀνὴρ ἥδιστος ἀοιδῶν
ἐνθάδε πωλεῖται καὶ τέῳ τέρπεσθε μάλιστα?
ὑμεῖς δ᾽ εὖ μάλα πᾶσαι ὑποκρίνασθε ἀφ᾽ ἡμῶν,
Τυφλὸς ἀνὴρ, οἰκεῖ δὲ Χίῳ ἐνὶ παιπαλοέσσῃ,
τοῦ πᾶσαι μετόπισθεν ἀριστεύουσιν ἀοιδαί.
 
Virgins, farewell - and oh! remember me
Hereafter, when some stranger from the sea,
A hapless wanderer, may your isle explore,
And ask you, "Maids, of all the bards you boast,
Who sings the sweetest, and delights you most?"
Oh! answer all - "A blind old man, and poor,
Sweetest he sings, and dwells on Chios' rocky shore."

- Coleridge's Introduction to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets.





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