Page images


1. You appear to me, my good friend Timocrates, to be a man of Cyrene, according to the Tyndareus of Alexis

For there if any man invites another
To any banquet, eighteen others come;
Ten chariots, and fifteen pairs of horses,
And for all these you must provide the food,
So that 'twere better to invite nobody

And it would be better for me also to hold my tongue, and not to add anything more to all that has been said already; but since you ask me very earnestly for a discussion on those men who have been notorious for luxury, and on their effeminate practices, you must be gratified.

2. For enjoyment is connected, in the first instance, with appetite; and in the second place, with pleasure. And Sophocles the poet, being a man fond of enjoyment, in order to avoid accusing old age, attributed his impotence in amatory pleasures to his temperance, saying that he was glad to be released from them as from some hard master. But I say that the Judgment of Paris is a tale originally invented by the ancients, as a comparison between pleasure and virtue. Accordingly, when Venus, that is to say pleasure, was preferred, everything was thrown into confusion. And that excellent writer Xenophon seems to me to have invented his fable about Hercules and Virtue on the same principle. For according to Empedocles—

Mars was no god to them, nor gallant War,
Nor Jupiter the king, nor Saturn old,
Nor Neptune; Venus was their only queen.
Her they propitiate and duly worship
With pious images, with beauteous figures
Skilfully carved; with fragrant incenses,
And holy offerings of unmix'd myrrh,
And sweetly smelling frankincense; and many
A pure libation of fresh golden honey
They pour'd along the floor.

And Menander, in his Harp-player, speaking of some one who was very fond of music, says

He was to music much devoted, and

Sought ever pleasing sounds to gratify
His delicate taste.

3. And yet some people say that the desire of pleasure is a natural desire, as may be proved by all animals becoming enslaved by it; as if cowardice, and fear, and all sorts of other passions were not also common to all animals, and yet these are rejected by all who use their reason. Accordingly, to be very eager in the pursuit of pleasure is to go hunting for pain. On which account Homer, wishing to represent pleasure in an odious light, says that the greatest of the gods receive no advantage from their power, but are even much injured by it, if they will allow themselves to be hurried away by the pursuit of pleasure. For all the anxiety which Jupiter, when awake, lavished on the Trojans, was lost in open day, when he abandoned himself to pleasure. And Mars, who was a most valiant deity, was put in chains by Vulcan, who was very powerless, and incurred great disgrace and punishment, when he had given himself up to irrational love; and therefore he says to the Gods, when they came to see him in fetters

Behold, on wrong

Swift vengeance waits, and art subdues the strong.
Dwells there a god on all th' Olympian brow

More swift than Mars, and more than Vulcan slow?
Yet Vulcan conquers, and the God of arms

Must pay the penalty for lawless charms.1

But no one ever calls the life of Aristides a life of pleasure (nous), but that is an epithet they apply to Smindyrides the Sybarite, and to Sardanapalus, though as far as glory went, as Theophrastus says in his book on Pleasure, it was a far more splendid one; but Aristides never devoted himself to luxury as those other men did. Nor would any one call the life of Agesilaus the king of the Lacedæmonians dus; but this name they would apply rather to the life of Ananis, a man who, as far as real glory is concerned, is totally unknown. Nor would one call the life of the heroes who fought 1 This is a blunder of Athenæus. Mars does not say this, but it is the observation made by the gods to each other.

Ωδε δέ τις είπεσκε ἰδὼν ἐς πλήσιον ἄλλον.

Odys. viii. 828.

against Troy-nous; but they would speak in that way much more of the men of the present time; and naturally enough. For the lives of those men were destitute of any luxurious preparation, and, as I might almost say, had no seasoning to them, inasmuch as at that time there was no commercial intercourse between nations, nor were the arts of refinement carried to any degree of accuracy; but the life of men of the present day is planned with entire reference to laziness, and enjoyment, and to all sorts of pastimes.

4. But Plato, in his Philebus, says "Pleasure is the most insolent of all things; and, as it is reported, in amatory enjoyments, which are said to be the most powerful of all, even perjury has been pardoned by the Gods, as if pleasure was like a child, incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong." And in the eighth book of his Polity, the same Plato has previously dilated upon the doctrine so much pressed by the Epicureans, that, of the desires, some are natural but not necessary, and others neither natural nor necessary, writing thus-"Is not the desire to eat enough for health and strength of body, and for bread and meat to that extent, a necessary desire ?—I think it is.-At all events, the desire for food for these two purposes is necessary, inasmuch as it is salutary, and inasmuch as it is able to remove hunger? -No doubt.-And the desire for meat, too, is a necessary desire, if it at all contributes to a good habit of body?— Most undoubtedly.-What, then, are we to say? Is no desire which goes beyond the appetite for this kind of food, and for other food similar to it, and which, if it is checked in young people, can be entirely stifled, and which is injurious also to the body, and injurious also to the mind, both as far as its intellectual powers are concerned, and also as to its temperance, entitled to be called a necessary one ?—Most certainly not."

5. But Heraclides of Pontus, in his treatise on Pleasure, speaks as follows-"Tyrants and kings, having all kinds of good things in their power, and having had experience of all things, place pleasure in the first rank, on the ground that pleasure makes the nature of man more magnanimous. Accordingly, all those who have honoured pleasure above everything, and who have deliberately chosen to live a life of luxury, have been magnanimous and magnificent people, as,

for instance, the Medes and the Persians. For they, of all men, are those who hold pleasure and luxury in the highest honour; and they, at the same time, are the most valiant and magnanimous of all the barbarians. For to indulge in pleasure and luxury is the conduct of freeborn men and of a liberal disposition. For pleasure relaxes the soul and invigorates it. But labour belongs to slaves and to mean men ; on which account they are contracted in their natural dispositions. And the city of the Athenians, while it indulged in luxury, was a very great city, and bred very magnanimous men. For they wore purple garments, and were clad in embroidered tunics; and they bound up their hair in knots, and wore golden grasshoppers over their foreheads and in their hair and their slaves followed them, bearing folding chairs for them, in order that, if they wished to sit down, they might not be without some proper seat, and forced to put up with any chance seat. And these men were such heroes, that they conquered in the battle of Marathon, and they alone worsted the power of combined Asia. And all those who are the wisest of men, and who have the greatest reputation for wisdom, think pleasure the greatest good. Simonides certainly does when he says—

For what kind of human life

Can be worth desiring,
If pleasure be denied to it?
What kingly power even?
Without pleasure e'en the gods
Have nothing to be envied for.

And Pindar, giving advice to Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse,


Never obscure fair pleasure in your life;

A life of pleasure is the best for man.

And Homer, too, speaks of pleasure and indulgence in the following terms

How sweet the products of a peaceful reign,

The heaven-taught poet and enchanting strain,
The well-fill'd palace, the perpetual feast,
A loud rejoicing, and a people blest!

How goodly seems it ever to employ

Man's social days in union and in joy;

The plenteous board high heap'd with cates divine,
And o'er the foaming bowl the laughing wine.

An lagga, he calls the gods "living at ease." And "at éase" verbly means "without labour;" as if he meant to show by d's expression, that the greatest of all evils is labour and Gode m the

ú, Ou which account Megaclides finds fault with those prera who cara after Homer and Hesiod, and have written Pom Hercules, relating how he led armies and took cities,― wh paced rào greater part of his life among men in the xvorite pleasure, and married a greater number of a then any other man; and who had unacknowledged dica, ly a greater number of virgins, than any other Fou any one might say to those who do not admit all Whenice, my good friends, is it that you attribute to 2 coa oxovadiva love of eating; or whence is it that the


xorgated among men of leaving nothing in the you wo porus a libation to Hercules, if he had no regard plecat on why are the hot springs which rise out of Decoded uucyorally said to bo sacred to Hercules; or why

p you cu cha hatut of calling soft couches the beds of ils i ha despised all those who live luxuriously?

dogs by the later poots represent him as going cut in the gun of a tubber by himself, having a club, and Mand's handy, and how bow. And they say that Stesichorus of 66 62 chia orginal inventor of this fable. But Xanthus sport, who was more ancient than Stesichorus, as sold tells us, does not, according to the statemongooď Abg, keleg clothe him in this dress, but in that which But Sitesichorus perverted a great many


not given by authus, as he does also in the But Antisthenes, when

wow in walled the Prostoa.

01 Ova ple camp was a good, added-" such as brought

[ocr errors]


Mouer, appears to have been the

do de Epicurus, in the matter of that pleasure dues in his mouth; for Ulysses says to

To whom that in sway,

at pricey choop thy coats obey,

ara te over to employ

den won and in joy!

Atex Mod tough houp'd with cates divine,
two who cauling bowl chủ laughing wine,

« PreviousContinue »