THE TUSCULAN DISPUTATIONS.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
ON OTHER PERTURBATIONS OF THE MIND.
I. I HAVE often wondered, Brutus, on many occasions, at the ingenuity and virtues of our countrymen; but nothing has surprised me more than their development in those studies, which, though they came somewhat late to us, have been transported into this city from Greece. For the system of auspices, and religious ceremonies, and courts of justice, and appeals to the people, the senate, the establishment of an army of cavalry and infantry, and the whole military discipline, were instituted as early as the foundation of the city by royal authority, partly too by laws, not without the assistance of the Gods. Then with what a surprising and incredible progress did our ancestors advance towards all kind of excellence, when once the republic was freed from the regal power!
Not that this is a proper occasion to treat of the manners and customs of our ancestors, or of the discipline and constitution of the city; for I have elsewhere, particularly in the six books I wrote on the Republic, given a sufficiently accurate account of them. But while I am on this subject, and considering the study of philosophy, I meet with many reasons to imagine that those studies were brought to us from abroad, and not merely imported, but preserved and improved; for they had Pythagoras, a man of consummate wisdom and nobleness of character, in a manner, before their eyes, who was in Italy at the time that Lucius Brutus, the illustrious founder of your nobility, delivered his country from tyranny. As the doctrine of Pythagoras spread itself on all sides, it seems probable to me that it reached this city; and this is not only probable of itself, but it does really appear to have been the case from many remains of it.
For who can imagine that, when it flourished so much in that part of Italy which was called Magna Graecia, and in some of the largest and most powerful cities, in which, first the name of Pythagoras, and then that of those men who were afterward his followers, was in so high esteem; who can imagine, I say, that our people could shut their ears to what was said by such learned men? Besides, it is even my opinion that it was the great esteem in which the Pythagoreans were held, that gave rise to that opinion among those who came after him, that King Numa was a Pythagorean. For, being acquainted with the doctrine and principles of Pythagoras, and having heard from their ancestors that this king was a very wise and just man, and not being able to distinguish accurately between times and periods that were so remote, they inferred, from his being so eminent for his wisdom, that he had been a pupil of Pythagoras.
II. So far we proceed on conjecture. As to the vestiges of the Pythagoreans, though I might collect many, I shall use but a few; because they have no connection with our present purpose. For, as it is reported to have been a custom with them to deliver certain precepts in a more abstruse manner in verse, and to bring their minds from severe thought to a more composed state by songs and musical instruments; so Cato, a writer of the very highest authority, says in his Origins, that it was customary with our ancestors for the guests at their entertainments, every one in his turn, to celebrate the praises and virtues of illustrious men in song to the sound of the flute; from whence it is clear that poems and songs were then composed for the voice. And, indeed, it is also clear that poetry was in fashion from the laws of the Twelve Tables, wherein it is provided that no song should be made to the injury of another.
Another argument of the erudition of those times is, that they played on instruments before the shrines of their Gods, and at the entertainments of their magistrates; but that custom was peculiar to the sect I am speaking of. To me, indeed, that poem of Appius Caecus, which Panaetius commends so much in a certain letter of his which is addressed to Quintus Tubero, has all the marks of a Pythagorean author. We have many things derived from the Pythagoreans in our customs, which I pass over, that we may not seem to have learned that elsewhere which we look upon ourselves as the inventors of. But to return to our purpose. How many great poets as well as orators have sprung up among us! and in what a short time! so that it is evident that our people could arrive at any learning as soon as they had an inclination for it. But of other studies I shall speak elsewhere if there is occasion, as I have already often done.
III. The study of philosophy is certainly of long standing with us; but yet I do not find that I can give you the names of any philosopher before the age of Laelius and Scipio, in whose younger days we find that Diogenes the Stoic, and Carneades the Academic, were sent as ambassadors by the Athenians to our senate. And as these had never been concerned in public affairs, and one of them was a Cyrenean, the other a Babylonian, they certainly would never have been forced from their studies, nor chosen for that employment, unless the study of philosophy had been in vogue with some of the great men at that time; who, though they might employ their pens on other subjects—some on civil law, others on oratory, others on the history of former times—yet promoted this most extensive of all arts, the principle of living well, even more by their life than by their writings. So that of that true and elegant philosophy (which was derived from Socrates, and is still preserved by the Peripatetics and by the Stoics, though they express themselves differently in their disputes with the Academics) there are few or no Latin records; whether this proceeds from the importance of the thing itself, or from men’s being otherwise employed, or from their concluding that the capacity of the people was not equal to the apprehension of them.
But, during this silence, C. Amafinius arose and took upon himself to speak; on the publishing of whose writings the people were moved, and enlisted themselves chiefly under this sect, either because the doctrine was more easily understood, or because they were invited thereto by the pleasing thoughts of amusement, or that, because there was nothing better, they laid hold of what was offered them. And after Amafinius, when many of the same sentiments had written much about them, the Pythagoreans spread over all Italy: but that these doctrines should be so easily understood and approved of by the unlearned is a great proof that they were not written with any great subtlety, and they think their establishment to be owing to this.
IV. But let every one defend his own opinion, for every one is at liberty to choose what he likes: I shall keep to my old custom; and, being under no restraint from the laws of any particular school, which in philosophy every one must necessarily confine himself to, I shall always inquire what has the most probability in every question, and this system, which I have often practiced on other occasions, I have adhered closely to in my Tusculan Disputatious. Therefore, as I have acquainted you with the disputations of the three former days, this book shall conclude the discussion of the fourth day. When we had come down into the Academy, as we had done the former days, the business was carried on thus:
M. Let any one say, who pleases, what he would wish to have discussed.
A. I do not think a wise man can possibly be free from every perturbation of mind.
M. He seemed by yesterday’s discourse to be free from grief; unless you agreed with us only to avoid taking up time.
A. Not at all on that account, for I was extremely satisfied with your discourse.
M. You do not think, then, that a wise man is subject to grief?
A. No, by no means.
M. But if that cannot disorder the mind of a wise man, nothing else can. For what—can such a man be disturbed by fear? Fear proceeds from the same things when absent which occasion grief when present. Take away grief, then, and you remove fear.
The two remaining perturbations are, a joy elate above measure, and lust; and if a wise man is not subject to these, his mind will be always at rest.
A. I am entirely of that opinion.
M. Which, then, shall we do? Shall I immediately crowd all my sails? or shall I make use of my oars, as if I were just endeavoring to get clear of the harbor?
A. What is it that you mean, for I do not exactly comprehend you?
V. M. Because, Chrysippus and the Stoics, when they discuss the perturbations of the mind, make great part of their debate to consist in definitions and distinctions; while they employ but few words on the subject of curing the mind, and preventing it from being disordered. Whereas the Peripatetics bring a great many things to promote the cure of it, but have no regard to their thorny partitions and definitions. My question, then, was, whether I should instantly unfold the sails of my eloquence, or be content for a while to make less way with the oars of logic?
A. Let it be so; for by the employment of both these means the subject of our inquiry will be more thoroughly discussed.
M. It is certainly the better way; and should anything be too obscure, you may examine that afterward.
A. I will do so; but those very obscure points you will, as usual, deliver with more clearness than the Greeks.
M. I will, indeed, endeavor to do so; but it well requires great attention, lest, by losing one word, the whole should escape you. What the Greeks call παθη we choose to name perturbations (or disorders) rather than diseases; in explaining which, I shall follow, first, that very old description of Pythagoras, and afterward that of Plato; for they both divide the mind into two parts, and make one of these partake of reason, and the other they represent without it. In that which partakes of reason they place tranquillity, that is to say, a placid and undisturbed constancy; to the other they assign the turbid motions of anger and desire, which are contrary and opposite to reason. Let this, then, be our principle, the spring of all our reasonings. But notwithstanding, I shall use the partitions and definitions of the Stoics in describing these perturbations; who seem to me to have shown very great acuteness on this question.
VI. Zeno’s definition, then, is this: “A perturbation” (which he calls a παθος) “is a commotion of the mind repugnant to reason, and against nature.” Some of them define it even more briefly, saying that a perturbation is a somewhat too vehement appetite; but by too vehement they mean an appetite that recedes further from the constancy of nature. But they would have the divisions of perturbations to arise from two imagined goods, and from two imagined evils; and thus they become four: from the good proceed lust and joy—joy having reference to some present good, and lust to some future one. They suppose fear and grief to proceed from evils: fear from something future, grief from something present; for whatever things are dreaded as approaching always occasion grief when present. But joy and lust depend on the opinion of good; as lust, being inflamed and provoked, is carried on eagerly towards what has the appearance of good; and joy is transported and exults on obtaining what was desired: for we naturally pursue those things that have the appearance of good, and avoid the contrary.
Wherefore, as soon as anything that has the appearance of good presents itself, nature incites us to endeavor to obtain it. Now, where this strong desire is consistent and founded on prudence, it is by the Stoics called βουλησις, and the name which we give it is volition; and this they allow to none but their wise man, and define it thus: Volition is a reasonable desire; but whatever is incited too violently in opposition to reason, that is a lust, or an unbridled desire, which is discoverable in all fools. And, therefore, when we are affected so as to be placed in any good condition, we are moved in two ways; for when the mind is moved in a placid and calm motion, consistent with reason, that is called joy; but when it exults with a vain, wanton exultation, or immoderate joy, then that feeling may be called immoderate ecstasy or transport, which they define to be an elation of the mind without reason. And as we naturally desire good things, so in like manner we naturally seek to avoid what is evil; and this avoidance of which, if conducted in accordance with reason, is called caution; and this the wise man alone is supposed to have: but that caution which is not under the guidance of reason, but is attended with a base and low dejection, is called fear.
Fear is, therefore, caution destitute of reason. But a wise man is not affected by any present evil; while the grief of a fool proceeds from being affected with an imaginary evil, by which his mind is contracted and sunk, since it is not under the dominion of reason. This, then, is the first definition, which makes grief to consist in a shrinking of the mind contrary to the dictates of reason. Thus, there are four perturbations, and but three calm rational emotions; for grief has no exact opposite.
VII. But they insist upon it that all perturbations depend on opinion and judgment; therefore they define them more strictly, in order not only the better to show how blamable they are, but to discover how much they are in our power. Grief, then, is a recent opinion of some present evil, in which it seems to be right that the mind should shrink and be dejected. Joy is a recent opinion of a present good, in which it seems to be right that the mind should be elated. Fear is an opinion of an impending evil which we apprehend will be intolerable. Lust is an opinion of a good to come, which would be of advantage were it already come, and present with us. But however I have named the judgments and opinions of perturbations, their meaning is, not that merely the perturbations consist in them, but that the effects likewise of these perturbations do so; as grief occasions a kind of painful pricking, and fear engenders a recoil or sudden abandonment of the mind, joy gives rise to a profuse mirth, while lust is the parent of an unbridled habit of coveting. But that imagination, which I have included in all the above definitions, they would have to consist in assenting without warrantable grounds.
Now, every perturbation has many subordinate parts annexed to it of the same kind. Grief is attended with enviousness (invidentia)—I use that word for instruction’s sake, though it is not so common; because envy (invidia) takes in not only the person who envies, but the person, too, who is envied—emulation, detraction, pity, vexation, mourning, sadness, tribulation, sorrow, lamentation, solicitude, disquiet of mind, pain, despair, and many other similar feelings are so too. Under fear are comprehended sloth, shame, terror, cowardice, fainting, confusion, astonishment. In pleasure they comprehend malevolence—that is, pleased at another’s misfortune—delight, boastfulness, and the like. To lust they associate anger, fury, hatred, enmity, discord, wants, desire, and other feelings of that kind.
But they define these in this manner:
VIII. Enviousness (invidentia), they say, is a grief arising from the prosperous circumstances of another, which are in no degree injurious to the person who envies; for where any one grieves at the prosperity of another, by which he is injured, such a one is not properly said to envy—as when Agamemnon grieves at Hector’s success; but where any one, who is in no way hurt by the prosperity of another, is in pain at his success, such a one envies indeed. Now the name “emulation” is taken in a double sense, so that the same word may stand for praise and dispraise: for the imitation of virtue is called emulation (however, that sense of it I shall have no occasion for here, for that carries praise with it); but emulation is also a term applied to grief at another’s enjoying what I desired to have, and am without.
Detraction (and I mean by that, jealousy) is a grief even at another’s enjoying what I had a great inclination for. Pity is a grief at the misery of another who suffers wrongfully; for no one is moved by pity at the punishment of a parricide or of a betrayer of his country. Vexation is a pressing grief. Mourning is a grief at the bitter death of one who was dear to you. Sadness is a grief attended with tears. Tribulation is a painful grief. Sorrow, an excruciating grief. Lamentation, a grief where we loudly bewail ourselves. Solicitude, a pensive grief. Trouble, a continued grief. Affliction, a grief that harasses the body. Despair, a grief that excludes all hope of better things to come. But those feelings which are included under fear, they define thus: There is sloth, which is a dread of some ensuing labor; shame and terror, which affect the body—hence blushing attends shame; a paleness, and tremor, and chattering of the teeth attend terror—cowardice, which is an apprehension of some approaching evil; dread, a fear that unhinges the mind, whence comes that line of Ennius,
Then dread discharged all wisdom from my mind;
fainting is the associate and constant attendant on dread; confusion, a fear that drives away all thought; alarm, a continued fear.
IX. The different species into which they divide pleasure come under this description; so that malevolence is a pleasure in the misfortunes of another, without any advantage to yourself; delight, a pleasure that soothes the mind by agreeable impressions on the ear. What is said of the ear may be applied to the sight, to the touch, smell, and taste. All feelings of this kind are a sort of melting pleasure that dissolves the mind. Boastfulness is a pleasure that consists in making an appearance, and setting off yourself with insolence.—The subordinate species of lust they define in this manner: Anger is a lust of punishing any one who, as we imagine, has injured us without cause. Heat is anger just forming and beginning to exist, which the Greeks call θυμωσις. Hatred is a settled anger. Enmity is anger waiting for an opportunity of revenge. Discord is a sharper anger conceived deeply in the mind and heart. Want an insatiable lust. Regret is when one eagerly wishes to see a person who is absent.
Now here they have a distinction; so that with them regret is a lust conceived on hearing of certain things reported of some one, or of many, which the Greeks call κατηγορηματα, or predicaments; as that they are in possession of riches and honors: but want is a lust for those very honors and riches. But these definers make intemperance the fountain of all these perturbations; which is an absolute revolt from the mind and right reason — a state so averse to all rules of reason that the appetites of the mind can by no means be governed and restrained. As, therefore, temperance appeases these desires, making them obey right reason, and maintains the well-weighed judgments of the mind, so intemperance, which is in opposition to this, inflames, confounds, and puts every state of the mind into a violent motion. Thus, grief and fear, and every other perturbation of the mind, have their rise from intemperance.
X. Just as distempers and. sickness are bred in the body from the corruption of the blood, and the too great abundance of phlegm and bile, so the mind is deprived of its health, and disordered with sickness, from a confusion of depraved opinions that are in opposition to one another. From these perturbations arise, first, diseases, which they call νοσηματα; and also those feelings which are in opposition to these diseases, and which admit certain faulty distastes or loathings; then come sicknesses, which are called αρρωστηματα by the Stoics, and these two have their opposite aversions. Here the Stoics, especially Chrysippus, give themselves unnecessary trouble to show the analogy which the diseases of the mind have to those of the body: but, overlooking all that they say as of little consequence, I shall treat only of the thing itself. Let us, then, understand perturbation to imply a restlessness from the variety and confusion of contradictory opinions; and that when this heat and disturbance of the mind is of any standing, and has taken up its residence, as it were, in the veins and marrow, then commence diseases and sickness, and those aversions which are in opposition to these diseases and sicknesses.
XI. What I say here may be distinguished in thought, though they are in fact the same; inasmuch as they both have their rise from lust and joy. For should money be the object of our desire, and should we not instantly apply to reason, as if it were a kind of Socratic medicine to heal this desire, the evil glides into our veins, and cleaves to our bowels, and from thence proceeds a distemper or sickness, which, when it is of any continuance, is incurable, and the name of this disease is covetousness. It is the same with other diseases; as the desire of glory, a passion for women, to which the Greeks give the name of φιλογυνεια: and thus all other diseases and sicknesses are generated. But those feelings which are the contrary of these are supposed to have fear for their foundation, as a hatred of women, such as is displayed in the Woman-hater of Atilius; or the hatred of the whole human species, as Timon is reported to have done, whom they call the Misanthrope. Of the same kind is inhospitality. And all these diseases proceed from a certain dread of such things as they hate and avoid.
But they define sickness of mind to be an overweening opinion, and that fixed and deeply implanted in the heart, of something as very desirable which is by no means so. What proceeds from aversion, they define thus: a vehement idea of something to be avoided, deeply implanted, and inherent in our minds, when there is no reason for avoiding it; and this kind of opinion is a deliberate belief that one understands things of which one is wholly ignorant.
Now, sickness of the mind has all these subordinate divisions: avarice, ambition, fondness for women, obstinacy, gluttony, drunkenness, covetousness, and other similar vices. But avarice is a violent opinion about money, as if it were vehemently to be desired and sought after, which opinion is deeply implanted and inherent in our minds; and the definition of all the other similar feelings resembles these. But the definitions of aversions are of this sort: inhospitality is a vehement opinion, deeply implanted and inherent in your mind, that you should avoid a stranger. Thus, too, the hatred of women, like that felt by Hippolytus, is defined; and the hatred of the human species like that displayed by Timon.
XII. But to come to the analogy of the state of body and mind, which I shall sometimes make use of, though more sparingly than the Stoics. Some men are more inclined to particular disorders than others; and, therefore, we say that some people are rheumatic, others dropsical, not because they are so at present, but because they are often so: some are inclined to fear, others to some other perturbation. Thus in some there is a continual anxiety, owing to which they are anxious; in some a hastiness of temper, which differs from anger, as anxiety differs from anguish: for all are not anxious who are sometimes vexed, nor are they who are anxious always uneasy in that manner: as there is a difference between being drunk and drunkenness; and it is one thing to be a lover, another to be given to women.
And this disposition of particular people to particular disorders is very common: for it relates to all perturbations; it appears in many vices, though it has no name. Some are, therefore, said to be envious, malevolent, spiteful, fearful, pitiful, from a propensity to those perturbations, not from their being always carried away by them. Now this propensity to these particular disorders may be called a sickness from analogy with the body; meaning, that is to say, nothing more than a propensity towards sickness. But with regard to whatever is good, as some are more inclined to different good qualities than others, we may call this a facility or tendency: this tendency to evil is a proclivity or inclination to falling; but where anything is neither good nor bad, it may have the former name.
XIII. Even as there may be, with respect to the body, a disease, a sickness, and a defect, so it is with the mind. They call that a disease where the whole body is corrupted; they call that sickness where a disease is attended with a weakness, and that a defect where the parts of the body are not well compacted together; from whence it follows that the members are misshapen, crooked, and deformed. So that these two, a disease and sickness, proceed from a violent concussion and perturbation of the health of the whole body; but a defect discovers itself even when the body is in perfect health. But a disease of the mind is distinguishable only in thought from a sickness. But a viciousness is a habit or affection discordant and inconsistent with itself through life.
Thus it happens that, in the one case, a disease and sickness may arise from a corruption of opinions; in the other case, the consequence may be inconstancy and inconsistency. For every vice of the mind does not imply a disunion of parts; as is the case with those who are not far from being wise men. With them there is that affection which is inconsistent with itself while it is foolish; but it is not distorted, nor depraved. But diseases and sicknesses are parts of viciousness; but it is a question whether perturbations are parts of the same, for vices are permanent affections: perturbations are such as are restless; so that they cannot be parts of permanent ones.
As there is some analogy between the nature of the body and mind in evil, so is there in good; for the distinctions of the body are beauty, strength, health, firmness, quickness of motion: the same may be said of the mind. The body is said to be in a good state when all those things on which health depends are consistent: the same may be said of the mind when its judgments and opinions are not at variance with one another. And this union is the virtue of the mind, which, according to some people, is temperance itself; others make it consist in an obedience to the precepts of temperance, and a compliance with them, not allowing it to be any distinct species of itself. But, be it one or the other, it is to be found only in a wise man. But there is a certain soundness of mind, which even a fool may have, when the perturbation of his mind is removed by the care and management of his physicians.
And as what is called beauty arises from an exact proportion of the limbs, together with a certain sweetness of complexion, so the beauty of the mind consists in an equality and constancy of opinions and judgments, joined to a certain firmness and stability, pursuing virtue, or containing within itself the very essence of virtue. Besides, we give the very same names to the faculties of the mind as we do to the powers of the body, the nerves, and other powers of action. Thus the velocity of the body is called swiftness: a praise which we ascribe to the mind, from its running over in its thoughts so many things in so short a time.
XIV. Herein, indeed, the mind and body are unlike: that though the mind when in perfect health may be visited by sickness, as the body may, yet the body may be disordered without our fault; the mind cannot. For all the disorders and perturbations of the mind proceed from a neglect of reason; these disorders, therefore, are confined to men: the beasts are not subject to such perturbations, though they act sometimes as if they had reason. There is a difference, too, between ingenious and dull men; the ingenious, like the Corinthian brass, which is long before it receives rust, are longer before they fall into these perturbations, and are recovered sooner: the case is different with the dull. Nor does the mind of an ingenious man fall into every kind of perturbation, for it never yields to any that are brutish and savage; and some of their perturbations have at first even the appearance of humanity, as mercy, grief, and fear.
But the sicknesses and diseases of the mind are thought to be harder to eradicate than those leading vices which are in opposition to virtues; for vices may be removed, though the diseases of the mind should continue, which diseases are not cured with that expedition with which vices are removed. I have now acquainted you with the arguments which the Stoics put forth with such exactness; which they call logic, from their close arguing: and since my discourse has got clear of these rocks, I will proceed with the remainder of it, provided I have been sufficiently clear in what I have already said, considering the obscurity of the subject I have treated.
A. Clear enough; but should there be occasion for a more exact inquiry, I shall take another opportunity of asking you. I expect you now to hoist your sails, as you just now called them, and proceed on your course.
XV. M. Since I have spoken before of virtue in other places, and shall often have occasion to speak again (for a great many questions that relate to life and manners arise from the spring of virtue); and since, as I say, virtue consists in a settled and uniform affection of mind, making those persons praiseworthy who are possessed of her, she herself also, independent of anything else, without regard to any advantage, must be praiseworthy; for from her proceed good inclinations, opinions, actions, and the whole of right reason; though virtue may be defined in a few words to be right reason itself.
The opposite to this is viciousness (for so I choose to translate what the Greeks call κακια, rather than by perverseness; for perverseness is the name of a particular vice; but viciousness includes all), from whence arise those perturbations which, as I just now said, are turbid and violent motions of the mind, repugnant to reason, and enemies in a high degree to the peace of the mind and a tranquil life, for they introduce piercing and anxious cares, and afflict and debilitate the mind through fear; they violently inflame our hearts with exaggerated appetite, which is in reality an impotence of mind, utterly irreconcilable with temperance and moderation, which we sometimes call desire, and sometimes lust, and which, should it even attain the object of its wishes, immediately becomes so elated that it loses all its resolution, and knows not what to pursue; so that he was in the right who said “that exaggerated pleasure was the very greatest of mistakes.” Virtue, then, alone can effect the cure of these evils.
XVI. For what is not only more miserable, but more base and sordid, than a man afflicted, weakened, and oppressed with grief? And little short of this misery is one who dreads some approaching evil, and who, through faintheartedness, is under continual suspense. The poets, to express the greatness of this evil, imagine a stone to hang over the head of Tantalus, as a punishment for his wickedness, his pride, and his boasting. And this is the common punishment of folly; for there hangs over the head of every one whose mind revolts from reason some similar fear.
And as these perturbations of the mind, grief and fear, are of a most wasting nature, so those two others, though of a more merry cast (I mean lust, which is always coveting something with eagerness, and empty mirth, which is an exulting joy), differ very little from madness. Hence you may understand what sort of person he is whom we call at one time moderate, at another modest or temperate, at another constant and virtuous; while sometimes we include all these names in the word frugality, as the crown of all; for if that word did not include all virtues, it would never have been proverbial to say that a frugal man does everything rightly. But when the Stoics apply this saying to their wise man, they seem to exalt him too much, and to speak of him with too much admiration.
XVII. Whoever, then, through moderation and constancy, is at rest in his mind, and in calm possession of himself, so as neither to pine with care, nor be dejected with fear, nor to be inflamed with desire, coveting something greedily, nor relaxed by extravagant mirth—such a man is that identical wise man whom we are inquiring for: he is the happy man, to whom nothing in this life seems intolerable enough to depress him; nothing exquisite enough to transport him unduly. For what is there in this life that can appear great to him who has acquainted himself with eternity and the utmost extent of the universe? For what is there in human knowledge, or the short span of this life, that can appear great to a wise man? whose mind is always so upon its guard that nothing can befall him which is unforeseen, nothing which is unexpected, nothing, in short, which is new.
Such a man takes so exact a survey on all sides of him, that he always knows the proper place and spot to live in free from all the troubles and annoyances of life, and encounters every accident that fortune can bring upon him with a becoming calmness. Whoever conducts himself in this manner will be free from grief, and from every other perturbation; and a mind free from these feelings renders men completely happy; whereas a mind disordered and drawn off from right and unerring reason loses at once, not only its resolution, but its health.—Therefore the thoughts and declarations of the Peripatetics are soft and effeminate, for they say that the mind must necessarily be agitated, but at the same time they lay down certain bounds beyond which that agitation is not to proceed. And do you set bounds to vice? or is it no vice to disobey reason?
Does not reason sufficiently declare that there is no real good which you should desire too ardently, or the possession of which you should allow to transport you? and that there is no evil that should be able to overwhelm you, or the suspicion of which should distract you? and that all these things assume too melancholy or too cheerful an appearance through our own error? But if fools find this error lessened by time, so that, though the cause remains the same, they are not affected in the same manner, after some time, as they were at first, why, surely a wise man ought not to be influenced at all by it. But what are those degrees by which we are to limit it? Let us fix these degrees in grief, a difficult subject, and one much canvassed.—Fannius writes that P. Rutilius took it much to heart that his brother was refused the consulship; but he seems to have been too much affected by this disappointment, for it was the occasion of his death: he ought, therefore, to have borne it with more moderation. But let us suppose that while he was bearing this with moderation, the death of his children had intervened; here would have started a fresh grief, which, admitting it to be moderate in itself, yet still must have been a great addition to the other. Now, to these let us add some acute pains of body, the loss of his fortune, blindness, banishment. Supposing, then, each separate misfortune to occasion a separate additional grief, the whole would be too great to be supportable.
XVIII. The man who attempts to set bounds to vice acts like one who should throw himself headlong from Leucate, persuaded that he could stop himself whenever he pleased. Now, as that is impossible, so a perturbed and disordered mind cannot restrain itself, and stop where it pleases. Certainly whatever is bad in its increase is bad in its birth. Now grief and all other perturbations are doubtless baneful in their progress, and have, therefore, no small share of evil at the beginning; for they go on of themselves when once they depart from reason, for every weakness is self-indulgent, and indiscreetly launches out, and does riot know where to stop. So that it makes no difference whether you approve of moderate perturbations of mind, or of moderate injustice, moderate cowardice, and moderate intemperance; for whoever prescribes bounds to vice admits a part of it, which, as it is odious of itself, becomes the more so as it stands on slippery ground, and, being once set forward, glides on headlong, and cannot by any means be stopped.
XIX. Why should I say more? Why should I add that the Peripatetics say that these perturbations, which we insist upon it should be extirpated, are not only natural, but were given to men by nature for a good purpose? They usually talk in this manner. In the first place, they say much in praise of anger; they call it the whetstone of courage, and they say that angry men exert themselves most against an enemy or against a bad citizen: that those reasons are of little weight which are the motives of men who think thus, as—it is a just war; it becomes us to fight for our laws, our liberties, our country: they will allow no force to these arguments unless our courage is warmed by anger.—Nor do they confine their argument to warriors; but their opinion is that no one can issue any rigid commands without some bitterness and anger.
In short, they have no notion of an orator either accusing or even defending a client without he is spurred on by anger. And though this anger should not be real, still they think his words and gestures ought to wear the appearance of it, so that the action of the orator may excite the anger of his hearer. And they deny that any man has ever been seen who does not know what it is to be angry; and they name what we call lenity by the bad appellation of indolence. Nor do they commend only this lust (for anger is, as I defined it above, the lust of revenge), but they maintain that kind of lust or desire to be given us by nature for very good purposes, saying that no one can execute anything well but what he is in earnest about.
Themistocles used to walk in the public places in the night because he could not sleep; and when asked the reason, his answer was, that Miltiades’s trophies kept him awake. Who has not heard how Demosthenes used to watch, who said that it gave him pain if any mechanic was up in a morning at his work before him? Lastly, they urge that some of the greatest philosophers would never have made that progress in their studies without some ardent desire spurring them on.—We are informed that Pythagoras, Democritus, and Plato visited the remotest parts of the world; for they thought that they ought to go wherever anything was to be learned. Now, it is not conceivable that these things could be effected by anything but by the greatest ardor of mind.
XX. They say that even grief, which we have already said ought to be avoided as a monstrous and fierce beast, was appointed by nature, not without some good purpose, in order that men should lament when they had committed a fault, well knowing they had exposed themselves to correction, rebuke, and ignominy; for they think that those who can bear ignominy and infamy without pain have acquired a complete impunity for all sorts of crimes; for with them reproach is a stronger check than conscience. From whence we have that scene in Afranius borrowed from common life; for when the abandoned son saith, “Wretched that I am!” the severe father replies,
Let him but grieve, no matter what the cause.
And they say the other divisions of sorrow have their use; that pity incites us to hasten to the assistance of others, and to alleviate the calamities of men who have undeservedly fallen into them; that even envy and detraction are not without their use, as when a man sees that another person has attained what he cannot, or observes another to be equally successful with himself; that he who should take away fear would take away all industry in life, which those men exert in the greatest degree who are afraid of the laws and of the magistrates, who dread poverty, ignominy, death, and pain. But while they argue thus, they allow indeed of these feelings being retrenched, though they deny that they either can or should be plucked up by the roots; so that their opinion is that mediocrity is best in everything. When they reason in this manner, what think you—is what they say worth attending to or not?
A. I think it is. I wait, therefore, to hear what you will say in reply to them.
XXI. M. Perhaps I may find something to say; but I will make this observation first: do you take notice with what modesty the Academics behave themselves? for they speak plainly to the purpose. The Peripatetics are answered by the Stoics; they have my leave to fight it out, who think myself no otherwise concerned than to inquire for what may seem to be most probable. Our present business is, then, to see if we can meet with anything in this question which is the probable, for beyond such approximation to truth as that human nature cannot proceed.
The definition of a perturbation, as Zeno, I think, has rightly determined it, is thus: That a perturbation is a commotion of the mind against nature, in opposition to right reason; or, more briefly, thus, that a perturbation is a somewhat too vehement appetite; and when he says somewhat too vehement, he means such as is at a greater distance from the constant course of nature. What can I say to these definitions? The greater part of them we have from those who dispute with sagacity and acuteness: some of them expressions, indeed, such as the “ardors of the mind,” and “the whetstones of virtue,” savoring of the pomp of rhetoricians.
As to the question, if a brave man can maintain his courage without becoming angry, it may be questioned with regard to the gladiators; though we often observe much resolution even in them: they meet, converse, they make objections and demands, they agree about terms, so that they seem calm rather than angry. But let us admit a man of the name of Placideianus, who was one of that trade, to be in such a mind, as Lucilius relates of him,
If for his blood you thirst, the task be mine;
XXII. But we see Ajax in Homer advancing to meet Hector in battle cheerfully, without any of this boisterous wrath. For he had no sooner taken up his arms than the first step which he made inspired his associates with joy, his enemies with fear; so that even Hector, as he is represented by Homer [Il. vii. 211], trembling, condemned himself for having challenged him to fight. Yet these heroes conversed together, calmly and quietly, before they engaged; nor did they show any anger or outrageous behavior during the combat. Nor do I imagine that Torquatus, the first who obtained this surname, was in a rage when he plundered the Gaul of his collar; or that Marcellus’s courage at Clastidium was only owing to his anger. I could almost swear that Africanus, with whom we are better acquainted, from our recollection of him being more recent, was noways inflamed by anger when he covered Alienus Pelignus with his shield, and drove his sword into the enemy’s breast.
There may be some doubt of L. Brutus, whether he was not influenced by extraordinary hatred of the tyrant, so as to attack Aruns with more than usual rashness; for I observe that they mutually killed each other in close fight. Why, then, do you call in the assistance of anger? Would courage, unless it began to get furious, lose its energy? What! do you imagine that Hercules, whom the very courage which you would try to represent as anger raised to heaven, was angry when he engaged the Erymanthian boar, or the Nemaean lion? Or was Theseus in a passion when he seized on the horns of the Marathonian bull? Take care how you make courage to depend in the least on rage. For anger is altogether irrational, and that is not courage which is void of reason.
XXIII. We ought to hold all things here in contempt; death is to be looked on with indifference; pains and labors must be considered as easily supportable. And when these sentiments are established on judgment and conviction, then will that stout and firm courage take place; unless you attribute to anger whatever is done with vehemence, alacrity, and spirit. To me, indeed, that very Scipio [Scipio Nasica] who was chief priest, that favorer of the saying of the Stoics, “That no private man could be a wise man,” does not seem to be angry with Tiberius Gracchus, even when he left the consul in a hesitating frame of mind, and, though a private man himself, commanded, with the authority of a consul, that all who meant well to the republic should follow him.
I do not know whether I have done anything in the republic that has the appearance of courage; but if I have, I certainly did not do it in wrath. Doth anything come nearer madness than anger? And indeed Ennius has well defined it as the beginning of madness. The changing color, the alteration of our voice, the look of our eyes, our manner of fetching our breath, the little command we have over our words and actions, how little do all these things indicate a sound mind! What can make a worse appearance than Homer’s Achilles, or Agamemnon, during the quarrel? And as to Ajax, anger drove him into downright madness, and was the occasion of his death. Courage, therefore, does not want the assistance of anger; it is sufficiently provided, armed, and prepared of itself. We may as well say that drunkenness or madness is of service to courage, because those who are mad or drunk often do a great many things with unusual vehemence. Ajax was always brave; but still he was most brave when he was in that state of frenzy:
The greatest feat that Ajax ever achieved
Shall we say, then, that madness has its use?
XXIV. Examine the definitions of courage: you will find it does not require the assistance of passion. Courage is, then, an affection of mind that endures all things, being itself in proper subjection to the highest of all laws; or it may be called a firm maintenance of judgment in supporting or repelling everything that has a formidable appearance, or a knowledge of what is formidable or otherwise, and maintaining invariably a stable judgment of all such things, so as to bear them or despise them; or, in fewer words, according to Chrysippus (for the above definitions are Sphaerus’s, a man of the first ability as a layer-down of definitions, as the Stoics think. But they are all pretty much alike: they give us only common notions, some one way, and some another).
But what is Chrysippus’s definition? Fortitude, says he, is the knowledge of all things that are bearable, or an affection of the mind which bears and supports everything in obedience to the chief law of reason without fear. Now, though we should attack these men in the same manner as Carneades used to do, I fear they are the only real philosophers; for which of these definitions is there which does not explain that obscure and intricate notion of courage which every man conceives within himself? And when it is thus explained, what can a warrior, a commander, or an orator want more? And no one can think that they will be unable to behave themselves courageously without anger.
What! do not even the Stoics, who maintain that all fools are mad, make the same inferences? for, take away perturbations, especially a hastiness of temper, and they will appear to talk very absurdly. But what they assert is this: they say that all fools are mad, as all dunghills stink; not that they always do so, but stir them, and you will perceive it. And in like manner, a warm-tempered man is not always in a passion; but provoke him, and you will see him run mad. Now, that very warlike anger, which is of such service in war, what is the use of it to him when he is at home with his wife, children, and family? Is there, then, anything that a disturbed mind can do better than one which is calm and steady? Or can any one be angry without a perturbation of mind? Our people, then, were in the right, who, as all vices depend on our manners, and nothing is worse than a passionate disposition, called angry men the only morose men. [Morosus is evidently derived from mores—“Morosus, mos, stubbornness, self-will, etc.”—Riddle and Arnold, Lat. Dict.]
XXV. Anger is in no wise becoming in an orator, though it is not amiss to affect it. Do you imagine that I am angry when in pleading I use any extraordinary vehemence and sharpness? What! when I write out my speeches after all is over and past, am I then angry while writing? Or do you think Aesopus was ever angry when he acted, or Accius was so when he wrote? Those men, indeed, act very well, but the orator acts better than the player, provided he be really an orator; but, then, they carry it on without passion, and with a composed mind.
But what wantonness is it to commend lust! You produce Themistocles and Demosthenes; to these you add Pythagoras, Democritus, and Plato. What! do you then call studies lust? But these studies of the most excellent and admirable things, such as those were which you bring forward on all occasions, ought to be composed and tranquil; and what kind of philosophers are they who commend grief, than which nothing is more detestable? Afranius has said much to this purpose:
Let him but grieve, no matter what the cause.
But he spoke this of a debauched and dissolute youth. But we are inquiring into the conduct of a constant and wise man. We may even allow a centurion or standard-bearer to be angry, or any others, whom, not to explain too far the mysteries of the rhetoricians, I shall not mention here; for to touch the passions, where reason cannot be come at, may have its use; but my inquiry, as I often repeat, is about a wise man.
XXVI. But even envy, detraction, pity, have their use. Why should you pity rather than assist, if it is in your power to do so? Is it because you cannot be liberal without pity? We should not take sorrows on ourselves upon another’s account; but we ought to relieve others of their grief if we can. But to detract from another’s reputation, or to rival him with that vicious emulation which resembles an enmity, of what use can that conduct be? Now, envy implies being uneasy at another’s good because one does not enjoy it one’s self; but detraction is the being uneasy at another’s good, merely because he enjoys it. How can it be right that you should voluntarily grieve, rather than take the trouble of acquiring what you want to have? for it is madness in the highest degree to desire to be the only one that has any particular happiness. But who can with correctness speak in praise of a mediocrity of evils? Can any one in whom there is lust or desire be otherwise than libidinous or desirous? or can a man who is occupied by anger avoid being angry? or can one who is exposed to any vexation escape being vexed? or if he is under the influence of fear, must he not be fearful? Do we look, then, on the libidinous, the angry, the anxious, and the timid man, as persons of wisdom, of excellence? of which I could speak very copiously and diffusely, but I wish to be as concise as possible.
And so I will merely say that wisdom is an acquaintance with all divine and human affairs, and a knowledge of the cause of everything. Hence it is that it imitates what is divine, and looks upon all human concerns as inferior to virtue. Did you, then, say that it was your opinion that such a man was as naturally liable to perturbation as the sea is exposed to winds? What is there that can discompose such gravity and constancy? Anything sudden or unforeseen? How can anything of this kind befall one to whom nothing is sudden and unforeseen that can happen to man? Now, as to their saying that redundancies should be pared off, and only what is natural remain, what, I pray you, can be natural which may be too exuberant?
XXVII. All these assertions proceed from the roots of errors, which must be entirely plucked up and destroyed, not pared and amputated. But as I suspect that your inquiry is not so much respecting the wise man as concerning yourself (for you allow that he is free from all perturbations, and you would willingly be so too yourself), let us see what remedies there are which may be applied by philosophy to the diseases of the mind. There is certainly some remedy; nor has nature been so unkind to the human race as to have discovered so many things salutary to the body, and none which are medicinal to the mind. She has even been kinder to the mind than to the body; inasmuch as you must seek abroad for the assistance which the body requires, while the mind has all that it requires within itself. But in proportion as the excellency of the mind is of a higher and more divine nature, the more diligence does it require; and therefore reason, when it is well applied, discovers what is best, but when it is neglected, it becomes involved in many errors.
I shall apply, then, all my discourse to you; for though you pretend to be inquiring about the wise man, your inquiry may possibly be about yourself. Various, then, are the cures of those perturbations which I have expounded, for every disorder is not to be appeased the same way. One medicine must be applied to the man who mourns, another to the pitiful, another to the person who envies; for there is this difference to be maintained in all the four perturbations: we are to consider whether our discourse had better be directed to perturbations in general, which are a contempt of reason, or a somewhat too vehement appetite; or whether it would be better applied to particular descriptions, as, for instance, to fear, lust, and the rest, and whether it appears preferable to endeavor to remove that which has occasioned the grief, or rather to attempt wholly to eradicate every kind of grief. As, should any one grieve that he is poor, the question is, Would you maintain poverty to be no evil, or would you contend that a man ought not to grieve at anything? Certainly this last is the best course; for should you not convince him with regard to poverty, you must allow him to grieve; but if you remove grief by particular arguments, such as I used yesterday, the evil of poverty is in some manner removed.
XXVIII. But any perturbation of the mind of this sort may be, as it were, wiped away by the method of appeasing the mind, if you succeed in showing that there is no good in that which has given rise to joy and lust, nor any evil in that which has occasioned fear or grief. But certainly the most effectual cure is to be achieved by showing that all perturbations are of themselves vicious, and have nothing natural or necessary in them. As we see, grief itself is easily softened when we charge those who grieve with weakness and an effeminate mind; or when we commend the gravity and constancy of those who bear calmly whatever befalls them here, as accidents to which all men are liable; and, indeed, this is generally the feeling of those who look on these as real evils, but yet think they should be borne with resignation. One imagines pleasure to be a good, another money; and yet the one may be called off from intemperance, the other from covetousness.
The other method and address, which, at the same time that it removes the false opinion, withdraws the disorder, has more subtlety in it; but it seldom succeeds, and is not applicable to vulgar minds, for there are some diseases which that medicine can by no means remove. For, should any one be uneasy because he is without virtue, without courage, destitute of a sense of duty or honesty, his anxiety proceeds from a real evil; and yet we must apply another method of cure to him, and such a one as all the philosophers, however they may differ about other things, agree in. For they must necessarily agree in this, that commotions of the mind in opposition to right reason are vicious; and that even admitting those things to be evils which occasion fear or grief, and those to be goods which provoke desire or joy, yet that very commotion itself is vicious; for we mean by the expressions magnanimous and brave, one who is resolute, sedate, grave, and superior to everything in this life; but one who either grieves, or fears, or covets, or is transported with passion, cannot come under that denomination; for these things are consistent only with those who look on the things of this world as things with which their minds are unequal to contend.
XXIX. Wherefore, as I before said, the philosophers have all one method of cure, so that we need say nothing about what sort of thing that is which disturbs the mind, but we must speak only concerning the perturbation itself. Thus, first, with regard to desire itself, when the business is only to remove that, the inquiry is not to be, whether that thing be good or evil which provokes lust, but the lust itself is to be removed; so that whether whatever is honest is the chief good, or whether it consists in pleasure, or in both these things together, or in the other three kinds of goods, yet should there be in any one too vehement an appetite for even virtue itself, the whole discourse should be directed to the deterring him from that vehemence. But human nature, when placed in a conspicuous point of view, gives us every argument for appeasing the mind, and, to make this the more distinct, the laws and conditions of life should be explained in our discourse.
Therefore, it was not without reason that Socrates is reported, when Euripides was exhibiting his play called Orestes, to have repeated the first three verses of that tragedy—
What tragic story men can mournful tell,
But, in order to persuade those to whom any misfortune has happened that they can and ought to bear it, it is very useful to set before them an enumeration of other persons who have borne similar calamities. Indeed, the method of appeasing grief was explained in my dispute of yesterday, and in my book on Consolation, which I wrote in the midst of my own grief; for I was not myself so wise a man as to be insensible to grief, and I used this, notwithstanding Chrysippus’s advice to the contrary, who is against applying a medicine to the agitations of the mind while they are fresh; but I did it, and committed a violence on nature, that the greatness of my grief might give way to the greatness of the medicine.
XXX. But fear borders upon grief, of which I have already said enough; but I must say a little more on that. Now, as grief proceeds from what is present, so does fear from future evil; so that some have said that fear is a certain part of grief: others have called fear the harbinger of trouble, which, as it were, introduces the ensuing evil. Now, the reasons that make what is present supportable, make what is to come very contemptible; for, with regard to both, we should take care to do nothing low or grovelling, soft or effeminate, mean or abject. But, notwithstanding we should speak of the inconstancy, imbecility, and levity of fear itself, yet it is of very great service to speak contemptuously of those very things of which we are afraid. So that it fell out very well, whether it was by accident or design, that I disputed the first and second day on death and pain—the two things that are the most dreaded: now, if what I then said was approved of, we are in a great degree freed from fear. And this is sufficient, as far as regards the opinion of evils.
XXXI. Proceed we now to what are goods—that is to say, to joy and desire. To me, indeed, one thing alone seems to embrace the question of all that relates to the perturbations of the mind—the fact, namely, that all perturbations are in our own power; that they are taken up upon opinion, and are voluntary. This error, then, must be got rid of; this opinion must be removed; and, as with regard to imagined evils, we are to make them more supportable, so with respect to goods, we are to lessen the violent effects of those things which are called great and joyous. But one thing is to be observed, that equally relates both to good and evil: that, should it be difficult to persuade any one that none of those things which disturb the mind are to be looked on as good or evil, yet a different cure is to be applied to different feelings; and the malevolent person is to be corrected by one way of reasoning, the lover by another, the anxious man by another, and the fearful by another: and it would be easy for any one who pursues the best approved method of reasoning, with regard to good and evil, to maintain that no fool can be affected with joy, as he never can have anything good. But, at present, my discourse proceeds upon the common received notions.
Let, then, honors, riches, pleasures, and the rest be the very good things which they are imagined to be; yet a too elevated and exulting joy on the possession of them is unbecoming; just as, though it might be allowable to laugh, to giggle would be indecent. Thus, a mind enlarged by joy is as blamable as a contraction of it by grief; and eager longing is a sign of as much levity in desiring as immoderate joy is in possessing; and, as those who are too dejected are said to be effeminate, so they who are too elated with joy are properly called volatile; and as feeling envy is a part of grief, and the being pleased with another’s misfortune is a kind of joy, both these feelings are usually corrected by showing the wildness and insensibility of them: and as it becomes a man to be cautious, but it is unbecoming in him to be fearful, so to be pleased is proper, but to be joyful improper.
I have, in order that I might be the better understood, distinguished pleasure from joy. I have already said above, that a contraction of the mind can never be right, but that an elation of it may; for the joy of Hector in Naevius is one thing—
‘Tis joy indeed to hear my praises sung
but that of the character in Trabea another: “The kind procuress, allured by my money, will observe my nod, will watch my desires, and study my will. If I but move the door with my little finger, instantly it flies open; and if Chrysis should unexpectedly discover me, she will run with joy to meet me, and throw herself into my arms.”
Now he will tell you how excellent he thinks this:
Not even fortune herself is so fortunate.
XXXII. Any one who attends the least to the subject will be convinced how unbecoming this joy is. And as they are very shameful who are immoderately delighted with the enjoyment of venereal pleasures, so are they very scandalous who lust vehemently after them. And all that which is commonly called love (and, believe me, I can find out no other name to call it by) is of such a trivial nature that nothing, I think, is to be compared to it: of which Caecilius says,
I hold the man of every sense bereaved
An excellent corrector of life this same poetry, which thinks that love, the promoter of debauchery and vanity, should have a place in the council of the Gods! I am speaking of comedy, which could not subsist at all without our approving of these debaucheries. But what said that chief of the Argonauts in tragedy?
My life I owe to honor less than love.
What, then, are we to say of this love of Medea?—what a train of miseries did it occasion! And yet the same woman has the assurance to say to her father, in another poet, that she had a husband
Dearer by love than ever fathers were.
XXXIII. However, we may allow the poets to trifle, in whose fables we see Jupiter himself engaged in these debaucheries: but let us apply to the masters of virtue—the philosophers who deny love to be anything carnal; and in this they differ from Epicurus, who, I think, is not much mistaken. For what is that love of friendship? How comes it that no one is in love with a deformed young man, or a handsome old one? I am of opinion that this love of men had its rise from the Gymnastics of the Greeks, where these kinds of loves are admissible and permitted; therefore Ennius spoke well:
The censure of this crime to those is due
Now, supposing them chaste, which I think is hardly possible, they are uneasy and distressed, and the more so because they contain and refrain themselves. But, to pass over the love of women, where nature has allowed more liberty, who can misunderstand the poets in their rape of Ganymede, or not apprehend what Laius says, and what he desires, in Euripides? Lastly, what have the principal poets and the most learned men published of themselves in their poems and songs? What doth Alcaeus, who was distinguished in his own republic for his bravery, write on the love of young men? And as for Anacreon’s poetry, it is wholly on love. But Ibycus of Rhegium appears, from his writings, to have had this love stronger on him than all the rest.
XXXIV. Now we see that the loves of all these writers were entirely libidinous. There have arisen also some among us philosophers (and Plato is at the head of them, whom Dicaearchus blames not without reason) who have countenanced love. The Stoics, in truth, say, not only that their wise man may be a lover, but they even define love itself as an endeavor to originate friendship out of the appearance of beauty. Now, provided there is any one in the nature of things without desire, without care, without a sigh, such a one may be a lover; for he is free from all lust: but I have nothing to say to him, as it is lust of which I am now speaking. But should there be any love—as there certainly is—which is but little, or perhaps not at all, short of madness, such as his is in the Leucadia—
Should there be any God whose care I am—
it is incumbent on all the Gods to see that he enjoys his amorous pleasure.
Wretch that I am!
Nothing is more true, and he says very appropriately,
What, are you sane, who at this rate lament?
He seems even to his friends to be out of his senses: then how tragical he becomes!
Thy aid, divine Apollo, I implore,
He thinks that the whole world ought to apply itself to help his love: he excludes Venus alone, as unkind to him.
Thy aid, O Venus, why should I invoke?
He thinks Venus too much employed in her own lust to have regard to anything else, as if he himself had not said and committed these shameful things from lust.
XXXV. Now, the cure for one who is affected in this manner is to show how light, how contemptible, how very trifling he is in what he desires; how he may turn his affections to another object, or accomplish his desires by some other means; or else to persuade him that he may entirely disregard it: sometimes he is to be led away to objects of another kind, to study, business, or other different engagements and concerns: very often the cure is effected by change of place, as sick people, that have not recovered their strength, are benefited by change of air.
Some people think an old love may be driven out by a new one, as one nail drives out another: but, above all things, the man thus afflicted should be advised what madness love is: for of all the perturbations of the mind, there is not one which is more vehement; for (without charging it with rapes, debaucheries, adultery, or even incest, the baseness of any of these being very blamable; not, I say, to mention these) the very perturbation of the mind in love is base of itself, for, to pass over all its acts of downright madness, what weakness do not those very things which are looked upon as indifferent argue?
Affronts and jealousies, jars, squabbles, wars,
Now, is not this inconstancy and mutability of mind enough to deter any one by its own deformity? We are to demonstrate, as was said of every perturbation, that there are no such feelings which do not consist entirely of opinion and judgment, and are not owing to ourselves. For if love were natural, all would be in love, and always so, and all love the same object; nor would one be deterred by shame, another by reflection, another by satiety.
XXXVI. Anger, too, when it disturbs the mind any time, leaves no room to doubt its being madness: by the instigation of which we see such contention as this between brothers:
Where was there ever impudence like thine?
You know what follows: for abuses are thrown out by these brothers with great bitterness in every other verse; so that you may easily know them for the sons of Atreus, of that Atreus who invented a new punishment for his brother:
I who his cruel heart to gall am bent,
Now, what were these inventions? Hear Thyestes:
My impious brother fain would have me eat
To what length now will not anger go? even as far as madness. Therefore we say, properly enough, that angry men have given up their power, that is, they are out of the power of advice, reason, and understanding; for these ought to have power over the whole mind. Now, you should put those out of the way whom they endeavor to attack till they have recollected themselves; but what does recollection here imply but getting together again the dispersed parts of their mind into their proper place? or else you must beg and entreat them, if they have the means of revenge, to defer it to another opportunity, till their anger cools. But the expression of cooling implies, certainly, that there was a heat raised in their minds in opposition to reason; from which consideration that saying of Archytas is commended, who being somewhat provoked at his steward, “How would I have treated you,” said he, “if I had not been in a passion?”
XXXVII. Where, then, are they who say that anger has its use? Can madness be of any use? But still it is natural. Can anything be natural that is against reason? or how is it, if anger is natural, that one person is more inclined to anger than another? or that the lust of revenge should cease before it has revenged itself? or that any one should repent of what he had done in a passion? as we see that Alexander the king did, who could scarcely keep his hands from himself, when he had killed his favorite Clytus, so great was his compunction. Now who that is acquainted with these instances can doubt that this motion of the mind is altogether in opinion and voluntary? for who can doubt that disorders of the mind, such as covetousness and a desire of glory, arise from a great estimation of those things by which the mind is disordered? from whence we may understand that every perturbation of the mind is founded in opinion. And if boldness—that is to say, a firm assurance of mind—is a kind of knowledge and serious opinion not hastily taken up, then diffidence is a fear of an expected and impending evil; and if hope is an expectation of good, fear must, of course, be an expectation of evil.
Thus fear and other perturbations are evils. Therefore, as constancy proceeds from knowledge, so does perturbation from error. Now, they who are said to be naturally inclined to anger, or to pity, or to envy, or to any feeling of this kind, their minds are constitutionally, as it were, in bad health; yet they are curable, as the disposition of Socrates is said to have been; for when Zopyrus, who professed to know the character of every one from his person, had heaped a great many vices on him in a public assembly, he was laughed at by others, who could perceive no such vices in Socrates; but Socrates kept him in countenance by declaring that such vices were natural to him, but that he had got the better of them by his reason.
Therefore, as any one who has the appearance of the best constitution may yet appear to be naturally rather inclined to some particular disorder, so different minds may be more particularly inclined to different diseases. But as to those men who are said to be vicious, not by nature, but their own fault, their vices proceed from wrong opinions of good and bad things, so that one is more prone than another to different motions and perturbations. But, just as it is in the case of the body, an inveterate disease is harder to be got rid of than a sudden disorder; and it is more easy to cure a fresh tumor in the eyes than to remove a defluxion of any continuance.
XXXVIII. But as the cause of perturbations is now discovered, for all of them arise from the judgment or opinion, or volition, I shall put an end to this discourse. But we ought to be assured, since the boundaries of good and evil are now discovered, as far as they are discoverable by man, that nothing can be desired of philosophy greater or more useful than the discussions which we have held these four days. For besides instilling a contempt of death, and relieving pain so as to enable men to bear it, we have added the appeasing of grief, than which there is no greater evil to man. For though every perturbation of mind is grievous, and differs but little from madness, yet we are used to say of others when they are under any perturbation, as of fear, joy, or desire, that they are agitated and disturbed; but of those who give themselves up to grief, that they are miserable, afflicted, wretched, unhappy. So that it doth not seem to be by accident, but with reason proposed by you, that I should discuss grief, and the other perturbations separately; for there lies the spring and head of all our miseries; but the cure of grief, and of other disorders, is one and the same in that they are all voluntary, and founded on opinion; we take them on ourselves because it seems right so to do.
Philosophy undertakes to eradicate this error, as the root of all our evils: let us therefore surrender ourselves to be instructed by it, and suffer ourselves to be cured; for while these evils have possession of us, we not only cannot be happy, but cannot be right in our minds. We must either deny that reason can effect anything, while, on the other hand, nothing can be done right without reason, or else, since philosophy depends on the deductions of reason, we must seek from her, if we would be good or happy, every help and assistance for living well and happily.
WHETHER VIRTUE ALONE BE SUFFICIENT FOR A HAPPY LIFE.
I. THIS fifth day, Brutus, shall put an end to our Tusculan Disputations: on which day we discussed your favorite subject. For I perceive from that book which you wrote for me with the greatest accuracy, as well as from your frequent conversation, that you are clearly of this opinion, that virtue is of itself sufficient for a happy life: and though it may be difficult to prove this, on account of the many various strokes of fortune, yet it is a truth of such a nature that we should endeavor to facilitate the proof of it. For among all the topics of philosophy, there is not one of more dignity or importance. For as the first philosophers must have had some inducement to neglect everything for the search of the best state of life: surely, the inducement must have been the hope of living happily, which impelled them to devote so much care and pains to that study.
Now, if virtue was discovered and carried to perfection by them, and if virtue is a sufficient security for a happy life, who can avoid thinking the work of philosophizing excellently recommended by them, and undertaken by me? But if virtue, as being subject to such various and uncertain accidents, were but the slave of fortune, and were not of sufficient ability to support herself, I am afraid that it would seem desirable rather to offer up prayers, than to rely on our own confidence in virtue as the foundation for our hope of a happy life. And, indeed, when I reflect on those troubles with which I have been so severely exercised by fortune, I begin to distrust this opinion; and sometimes even to dread the weakness and frailty of human nature, for I am afraid lest, when nature had given us infirm bodies, and had joined to them incurable diseases and intolerable pains, she perhaps also gave us minds participating in these bodily pains, and harassed also with troubles and uneasinesses, peculiarly their own.
But here I correct myself for forming my judgment of the power of virtue more from the weakness of others, or of myself perhaps, than from virtue itself: for she herself (provided there is such a thing as virtue; and your uncle Brutus has removed all doubt of it) has everything that can befall mankind in subjection to her; and by disregarding such things, she is far removed from being at all concerned at human accidents; and, being free from every imperfection, she thinks that nothing which is external to herself can concern her. But we, who increase every approaching evil by our fear, and every present one by our grief, choose rather to condemn the nature of things than our own errors.
II. But the amendment of this fault, and of all our other vices and offenses, is to be sought for in philosophy: and as my own inclination and desire led me; from my earliest youth upward, to seek her protection, so, under my present misfortunes, I have had recourse to the same port from whence I set out, after having been tossed by a violent tempest. O Philosophy, thou guide of life! thou discoverer of virtue and expeller of vices! what had not only I myself, but the whole life of man, been without you? To you it is that we owe the origin of cities; you it was who called together the dispersed race of men into social life; you united them together, first, by placing them near one another, then by marriages, and lastly, by the communication of speech and languages. You have been the inventress of laws; you have been our instructress in morals and discipline; to you we fly for refuge; from you we implore assistance; and as I formerly submitted to you in a great degree, so now I surrender up myself entirely to you.
For one day spent well, and agreeably to your precepts, is preferable to an eternity of error. Whose assistance, then, can be of more service to me than yours, when you have bestowed on us tranquillity of life, and removed the fear of death? But Philosophy is so far from being praised as much as she has deserved by mankind, that she is wholly neglected by most men, and actually evil spoken of by many. Can any person speak ill of the parent of life, and dare to pollute himself thus with parricide, and be so impiously ungrateful as to accuse her whom he ought to reverence, even were he less able to appreciate the advantages which he might derive from her? But this error, I imagine, and this darkness has spread itself over the minds of ignorant men, from their not being able to look so far back, and from their not imagining that those men by whom human life was first improved were philosophers; for though we see philosophy to have been of long standing, yet the name must be acknowledged to be but modern.
III. But, indeed, who can dispute the antiquity of philosophy, either in fact or name? For it acquired this excellent name from the ancients, by the knowledge of the origin and causes of everything, both divine and human. Thus those seven Σοφοι, as they were considered and called by the Greeks, have always been esteemed and called wise men by us; and thus Lycurgus many ages before, in whose time, before the building of this city, Homer is said to have lived, as well as Ulysses and Nestor in the heroic ages, are all handed down to us by tradition as having really been what they were called, wise men; nor would it have been said that Atlas supported the heavens, or that Prometheus was bound to Caucasus, nor would Cepheus, with his wife, his son-in-law, and his daughter have been enrolled among the constellations, but that their more than human knowledge of the heavenly bodies had transferred their names into an erroneous fable.
From whence all who occupied themselves in the contemplation of nature were both considered and called wise men; and that name of theirs continued to the age of Pythagoras, who is reported to have gone to Phlius, as we find it stated by Heraclides Ponticus, a very learned man, and a pupil of Plato, and to have discoursed very learnedly and copiously on certain subjects with Leon, prince of the Phliasii; and when Leon, admiring his ingenuity and eloquence, asked him what art he particularly professed, his answer was, that he was acquainted with no art, but that he was a philosopher. Leon, surprised at the novelty of the name, inquired what he meant by the name of philosopher, and in what philosophers differed from other men; on which Pythagoras replied, “That the life of man seemed to him to resemble those games which were celebrated with the greatest possible variety of sports and the general concourse of all Greece. For as in those games there were some persons whose object was glory and the honor of a crown, to be attained by the performance of bodily exercises, so others were led thither by the gain of buying and selling, and mere views of profit; but there was likewise one class of persons, and they were by far the best, whose aim was neither applause nor profit, but who came merely as spectators through curiosity, to observe what was done, and to see in what manner things were carried on there.
And thus, said he, we come from another life and nature unto this one, just as men come out of some other city, to some much frequented mart; some being slaves to glory, others to money; and there are some few who, taking no account of anything else, earnestly look into the nature of things; and these men call themselves studious of wisdom, that is, philosophers: and as there it is the most reputable occupation of all to be a looker-on without making any acquisition, so in life, the contemplating things, and acquainting one’s self with them, greatly exceeds every other pursuit of life.”
IV. Nor was Pythagoras the inventor only of the name, but he enlarged also the thing itself, and, when he came into Italy after this conversation at Phlius, he adorned that Greece, which is called Great Greece, both privately and publicly, with the most excellent institutions and arts; but of his school and system I shall, perhaps, find another opportunity to speak. But numbers and motions, and the beginning and end of all things, were the subjects of the ancient philosophy down to Socrates, who was a pupil of Archelaus, who had been the disciple of Anaxagoras. These made diligent inquiry into the magnitude of the stars, their distances, courses, and all that relates to the heavens. But Socrates was the first who brought down philosophy from the heavens, placed it in cities, introduced it into families, and obliged it to examine into life and morals, and good and evil.
And his different methods of discussing questions, together with the variety of his topics, and the greatness of his abilities, being immortalized by the memory and writings of Plato, gave rise to many sects of philosophers of different sentiments, of all which I have principally adhered to that one which, in my opinion, Socrates himself followed; and argue so as to conceal my own opinion, while I deliver others from their errors, and so discover what has the greatest appearance of probability in every question. And the custom Carneades adopted with great copiousness and acuteness, and I myself have often given in to it on many occasions elsewhere, and in this manner, too, I disputed lately, in my Tusculan villa; indeed, I have sent you a book of the four former days’ discussions; but the fifth day, when we had seated ourselves as before, what we were to dispute on was proposed thus:
V. A. I do not think virtue can possibly be sufficient for a happy life.
M. But my friend Brutus thinks so, whose judgment, with submission, I greatly prefer to yours.
A. I make no doubt of it; but your regard for him is not the business now: the question is now, what is the real character of that quality of which I have declared my opinion. I wish you to dispute on that.
M. What! do you deny that virtue can possibly be sufficient for a happy life?
A. It is what I entirely deny.
M. What! is not virtue sufficient to enable us to live as we ought, honestly, commendably, or, in fine, to live well?
A. Certainly sufficient.
M. Can you, then, help calling any one miserable who lives ill? or will you deny that any one who you allow lives well must inevitably live happily?
A. Why may I not? for a man may be upright in his life, honest, praiseworthy, even in the midst of torments, and therefore live well. Provided you understand what I mean by well; for when I say well, I mean with constancy, and dignity, and wisdom, and courage; for a man may display all these qualities on the rack; but yet the rack is inconsistent with a happy life.
M. What, then? is your happy life left on the outside of the prison, while constancy, dignity, wisdom, and the other virtues, are surrendered up to the executioner, and bear punishment and pain without reluctance?
A. You must look out for something new if you would do any good. These things have very little effect on me, not merely from their being common, but principally because, like certain light wines that will not bear water, these arguments of the Stoics are pleasanter to taste than to swallow. As when that assemblage of virtues is committed to the rack, it raises so reverend a spectacle before our eyes that happiness seems to hasten on towards them, and not to suffer them to be deserted by her. But when you take your attention off from this picture and these images of the virtues to the truth and the reality, what remains without disguise is, the question whether any one can be happy in torment?
Wherefore let us now examine that point, and not be under any apprehensions, lest the virtues should expostulate, and complain that they are forsaken by happiness. For if prudence is connected with every virtue, then prudence itself discovers this, that all good men are not therefore happy; and she recollects many things of Marcus Atilius [Marcus Atilius Regulus, first Punic War], Quintus Caepio [Quintus Servilius Caepio, destroyed in 105 B.C., with his army, by the Cimbri], Marcus Aquilius [Marcus Aquilius, in the year 88 B.C., was sent against Mithridates as one of the consular legates; and, being defeated, was delivered up to the king by the inhabitants of Mitylene. Mithridates put him to death by pouring molten gold down his throat.]; and prudence herself, if these representations are more agreeable to you than the things themselves, restrains happiness when it is endeavoring to throw itself into torments, and denies that it has any connection with pain and torture.
VI. M. I can easily bear with your behaving in this manner, though it is not fair in you to prescribe to me how you would have me carry on this discussion. But I ask you if I have effected anything or nothing in the preceding days?
A. Yes; something was done, some little matter indeed.
M. But if that is the case, this question is settled, and almost put an end to.
A. How so?
M. Because turbulent motions and violent agitations of the mind, when it is raised and elated by a rash impulse, getting the better of reason, leave no room for a happy life. For who that fears either pain or death, the one of which is always present, the other always impending, can be otherwise than miserable? Now, supposing the same person — which is often the case — to be afraid of poverty, ignominy, infamy, or weakness, or blindness, or, lastly, slavery, which doth not only befall individual men, but often even the most powerful nations; now can any one under the apprehension of these evils be happy? What shall we say of him who not only dreads these evils as impending, but actually feels and bears them at present? Let us unite in the same person banishment, mourning, the loss of children; now, how can any one who is broken down and rendered sick in body and mind by such affliction be otherwise than very miserable indeed?
What reason, again, can there be why a man should not rightly enough be called miserable whom we see inflamed and raging with lust, coveting everything with an insatiable desire, and, in proportion as he derives more pleasure from anything, thirsting the more violently after them? And as to a man vainly elated, exulting with an empty joy, and boasting of himself without reason, is not he so much the more miserable in proportion as he thinks himself happier? Therefore, as these men are miserable, so, on the other hand, those are happy who are alarmed by no fears, wasted by no griefs, provoked by no lusts, melted by no languid pleasures that arise from vain and exulting joys. We look on the sea as calm when not the least breath of air disturbs its waves; and, in like manner, the placid and quiet state of the mind is discovered when unmoved by any perturbation. Now, if there be any one who holds the power of fortune, and everything human, everything that can possibly befall any man, as supportable, so as to be out of the reach of fear or anxiety, and if such a man covets nothing, and is lifted up by no vain joy of mind, what can prevent his being happy? And if these are the effects of virtue, why cannot virtue itself make men happy?
VII. A. But the other of these two propositions is undeniable, that they who are under no apprehensions, who are noways uneasy, who covet nothing, who are lifted up by no vain joy, are happy: and therefore I grant you that. But as for the other, that is not now in a fit state for discussion; for it has been proved by your former arguments that a wise man is free from every perturbation of mind.
M. Doubtless, then, the dispute is over; for the question appears to have been entirely exhausted.
A. I think, indeed, that that is almost the case.
M. But yet that is more usually the case with the mathematicians than philosophers. For when the geometricians teach anything, if what they have before taught relates to their present subject, they take that for granted which has been already proved, and explain only what they had not written on before. But the philosophers, whatever subject they have in hand, get together everything that relates to it, notwithstanding they may have dilated on it somewhere else. Were not that the case, why should the Stoics say so much on that question, Whether virtue was abundantly sufficient to a happy life? when it would have been answer enough that they had before taught that nothing was good but what was honorable; for, as this had been proved, the consequence must be that virtue was sufficient to a happy life; and each premise may be made to follow from the admission of the other, so that if it be admitted that virtue is sufficient to secure a happy life, it may also be inferred that nothing is good except what is honorable. They, however, do not proceed in this manner; for they would separate books about what is honorable, and what is the chief good; and when they have demonstrated from the one that virtue has power enough to make life happy, yet they treat this point separately; for everything, and especially a subject of such great consequence, should be supported by arguments and exhortations which belong to that alone.
For you should have a care how you imagine philosophy to have uttered anything more noble, or that she has promised anything more fruitful or of greater consequence, for, good Gods! doth she not engage that she will render him who submits to her laws so accomplished as to be always armed against fortune, and to have every assurance within himself of living well and happily—that he shall, in short, be forever happy? But let us see what she will perform? In the mean while, I look upon it as a great thing that she has even made such a promise. For Xerxes, who was loaded with all the rewards and gifts of fortune, not satisfied with his armies of horse and foot, nor the multitude of his ships, nor his infinite treasure of gold, offered a reward to any one who could find out a new pleasure; and yet, when it was discovered, he was not satisfied with it; nor can there ever be an end to lust. I wish we could engage any one by a reward to produce something the better to establish us in this belief.
VIII. A. I wish that, indeed, myself; but I want a little information. For I allow that in what you have stated the one proposition is the consequence of the other; that as, if what is honorable be the only good, it must follow that a happy life is the effect of virtue: so that if a happy life consists in virtue, nothing can be good but virtue. But your friend Brutus, on the authority of Aristo and Antiochus, does not see this; for he thinks the case would be the same even if there were anything good besides virtue.
M. What, then? do you imagine, that I am going to argue against Brutus?
A. You may do what you please; for it is not for me to prescribe what you shall do.
M. How these things agree together shall be examined somewhere else; for I frequently discussed that point with Antiochus, and lately with Aristo, when, during the period of my command as general, I was lodging with him at Athens. For to me it seemed that no one could possibly be happy under any evil; but a wise man might be afflicted with evil, if there are any things arising from body or fortune deserving the name of evils. These things were said, which Antiochus has inserted in his books in many places—that virtue itself was sufficient to make life happy, but yet not perfectly happy; and that many things derive their names from the predominant portion of them, though they do not include everything, as strength, health, riches, honor, and glory: which qualities are determined by their kind, not their number. Thus a happy life is so called from its being so in a great degree, even though it should fall short in some point.
To clear this up is not absolutely necessary at present, though it seems to be said without any great consistency; for I cannot imagine what is wanting to one that is happy to make him happier, for if anything be wanting to him, he cannot be so much as happy; and as to what they say, that everything is named and estimated from its predominant portion, that may be admitted in some things. But when they allow three kinds of evils—when any one is oppressed with every imaginable evil of two kinds, being afflicted with adverse fortune, and having at the same time his body worn out and harassed with all sorts of pains—shall we say that such a one is but little short of a happy life, to say nothing about the happiest possible life?
IX. This is the point which Theophrastus was unable to maintain; for after he had once laid down the position that stripes, torments, tortures, the ruin of one’s country, banishment, the loss of children, had great influence on men’s living miserably and unhappily, he durst not any longer use any high and lofty expressions when he was so low and abject in his opinion. How right he was is not the question; he certainly was consistent. Therefore, I am not for objecting to consequences where the premises are admitted. But this most elegant and learned of all the philosophers is not taken to task very severely when he asserts his three kinds of good; but he is attacked by every one for that book which he wrote on a happy life, in which book he has many arguments why one who is tortured and racked cannot be happy. For in that book he is supposed to say that a man who is placed on the wheel (that is a kind of torture in use among the Greeks) cannot attain to a completely happy life. He nowhere, indeed, says so absolutely; but what he says amounts to the same thing.
Can I, then, find fault with him, after having allowed that pains of the body are evils, that the ruin of a man’s fortunes is an evil, if he should say that every good man is not happy, when all those things which he reckons as evils may befall a good man? The same Theophrastus is found fault with by all the books and schools of the philosophers for commending that sentence in his Callisthenes,
Fortune, not wisdom, rules the life of man.
They say never did philosopher assert anything so languid. They are right, indeed, in that; but I do not apprehend anything could be more consistent, for if there are so many good things that depend on the body, and so many foreign to it that depend on chance and fortune, is it inconsistent to say that fortune, which governs everything, both what is foreign and what belongs to the body, has greater power than counsel. Or would we rather imitate Epicurus? who is often excellent in many things which he speaks, but quite indifferent how consistent he may be, or how much to the purpose he is speaking. He commends spare diet, and in that he speaks as a philosopher; but it is for Socrates or Antisthenes to say so, and not for one who confines all good to pleasure.
He denies that any one can live pleasantly unless he lives honestly, wisely, and justly. Nothing is more dignified than this assertion, nothing more becoming a philosopher, had he not measured this very expression of living honestly, justly, and wisely by pleasure. What could be better than to assert that fortune interferes but little with a wise man? But does he talk thus, who, after he has said that pain is the greatest evil, or the only evil, might himself be afflicted with the sharpest pains all over his body, even at the time he is vaunting himself the most against fortune?
And this very thing, too, Metrodorus has said, but in better language: “I have anticipated you, Fortune; I have caught you, and cut off every access, so that you cannot possibly reach me.” This would be excellent in the mouth of Aristo the Chian, or Zeno the Stoic, who held nothing to be an evil but what was base; but for you, Metrodorus, to anticipate the approaches of fortune, who confine all that is good to your bowels and marrow—for you to say so, who define the chief good by a strong constitution of body, and well-assured hope of its continuance—for you to cut off every access of fortune! Why, you may instantly be deprived of that good. Yet the simple are taken with these propositions, and a vast crowd is led away by such sentences to become their followers.
X. But it is the duty of one who would argue accurately to consider not what is said, but what is said consistently. As in that very opinion which we have adopted in this discussion, namely, that every good man is always happy, it is clear what I mean by good men: I call those both wise and good men who are provided and adorned with every virtue. Let us see, then, who are to be called happy. I imagine, indeed, that those men are to be called so who are possessed of good without any alloy of evil; nor is there any other notion connected with the word that expresses happiness but an absolute enjoyment of good without any evil. Virtue cannot attain this, if there is anything good besides itself. For a crowd of evils would present themselves, if we were to allow poverty, obscurity, humility, solitude, the loss of friends, acute pains of the body, the loss of health, weakness, blindness, the ruin of one’s country, banishment, slavery, to be evils; for a wise man may be afflicted by all these evils, numerous and important as they are, and many others also may be added, for they are brought on by chance, which may attack a wise man; but if these things are evils, who can maintain that a wise man is always happy when all these evils may light on him at the same time?
I therefore do not easily agree with my friend Brutus, nor with our common masters, nor those ancient ones, Aristotle, Speusippus, Xenocrates, Polemon, who reckon all that I have mentioned above as evils, and yet they say that a wise man is always happy; nor can I allow them, because they are charmed with this beautiful and illustrious title, which would very well become Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato, to persuade my mind that strength, health, beauty, riches, honors, power, with the beauty of which they are ravished, are contemptible, and that all those things which are the opposites of these are not to be regarded. Then might they declare openly, with a loud voice, that neither the attacks of fortune, nor the opinion of the multitude, nor pain, nor poverty, occasions them any apprehensions; and that they have everything within themselves, and that there is nothing whatever which they consider as good but what is within their own power.
Nor can I by any means allow the same person who falls into the vulgar opinion of good and evil to make use of these expressions, which can only become a great and exalted man. Struck with which glory, up starts Epicurus, who, with submission to the Gods, thinks a wise man always happy. He is much charmed with the dignity of this opinion, but he never would have owned that, had he attended to himself; for what is there more inconsistent than for one who could say that pain was the greatest or the only evil to think also that a wise man can possibly say in the midst of his torture, How sweet is this! We are not, therefore, to form our judgment of philosophers from detached sentences, but from their consistency with themselves, and their ordinary manner of talking.
XI. A. You compel me to be of your opinion; but have a care that you are not inconsistent yourself.
M. In what respect?
A. Because I have lately read your fourth book on Good and Evil: and in that you appeared to me, while disputing against Cato, to be endeavoring to show, which in my opinion means to prove, that Zeno and the Peripatetics differ only about some new words; but if we allow that, what reason can there be, if it follows from the arguments of Zeno that virtue contains all that is necessary to a happy life, that the Peripatetics should not be at liberty to say the same? For, in my opinion, regard should be had to the thing, not to words.
M. What! you would convict me from my own words, and bring against me what I had said or written elsewhere. You may act in that manner with those who dispute by established rules. We live from hand to mouth, and say anything that strikes our mind with probability, so that we are the only people who are really at liberty. But, since I just now spoke of consistency, I do not think the inquity in this place is, if the opinion of Zeno and his pupil Aristo be true that nothing is good but what is honorable; but, admitting that, then, whether the whole of a happy life can be rested on virtue alone. Wherefore, if we certainly grant Brutus this, that a wise man is always happy, how consistent he is, is his own business; for who, indeed, is more worthy than himself of the glory of that opinion? Still, we may maintain that such a man is more happy than any one else.
XII. Though Zeno the Cittiaean, a stranger and an inconsiderable coiner of words, appears to have insinuated himself into the old philosophy; still, the prevalence of this opinion is due to the authority of Plato, who often makes use of this expression, “That nothing but virtue can be entitled to the name of good,” agreeably to what Socrates says in Plato’s Gorgias; for it is there related that when some one asked him if he did not think Archelaus the son of Perdiccas, who was then looked upon as a most fortunate person, a very happy man, “I do not know,” replied he, “for I never conversed with him.” “What! is there no other way you can know it by?” “None at all.” “You cannot, then, pronounce of the great king of the Persians whether he is happy or not?” “How can I, when I do not know how learned or how good a man he is?” “What! do you imagine that a happy life depends on that?” “My opinion entirely is, that good men are happy, and the wicked miserable.” “Is Archelaus, then, miserable?” “Certainly, if unjust.”
Now, does it not appear to you that he is here placing the whole of a happy life in virtue alone? But what does the same man say in his funeral oration? “For,” saith he, “whoever has everything that relates to a happy life so entirely dependent on himself as not to be connected with the good or bad fortune of another, and not to be affected by, or made in any degree uncertain by, what befalls another; and whoever is such a one has acquired the best rule of living; he is that moderate, that brave, that wise man, who submits to the gain and loss of everything, and especially of his children, and obeys that old precept; for he will never be too joyful or too sad, because he depends entirely upon himself.”
XIII. From Plato, therefore, all my discourse shall be deduced, as if from some sacred and hallowed fountain. Whence can I, then, more properly begin than from Nature, the parent of all? For whatsoever she produces (I am not speaking only of animals, but even of those things which have sprung from the earth in such a maimer as to rest on their own roots) she designed it to be perfect in its respective kind. So that among trees and vines, and those lower plants and trees which cannot advance themselves high above the earth, some are evergreen, others are stripped of their leaves in winter, and, warmed by the spring season, put them out afresh, and there are none of them but what are so quickened by a certain interior motion, and their own seeds enclosed in every one, so as to yield flowers, fruit, or berries, that all may have every perfection that belongs to it; provided no violence prevents it.
But the force of Nature itself may be more easily discovered in animals, as she has bestowed sense on them. For some animals she has taught to swim, and designed to be inhabitants of the water; others she has enabled to fly, and has willed that they should enjoy the boundless air; some others she has made to creep, others to walk. Again, of these very animals, some are solitary, some gregarious, some wild, others tame, some hidden and buried beneath the earth, and every one of these maintains the law of nature, confining itself to what was bestowed on it, and unable to change its manner of life. And as every animal has from nature something that distinguishes it, which every one maintains and never quits; so man has something far more excellent, though everything is said to be excellent by comparison. But the human mind, being derived from the divine reason, can be compared with nothing but with the Deity itself, if I may be allowed the expression.
This, then, if it is improved, and when its perception is so preserved as not to be blinded by errors, becomes a perfect understanding, that is to say, absolute reason, which is the very same as virtue. And if everything is happy which wants nothing, and is complete and perfect in its kind, and that is the peculiar lot of virtue, certainly all who are possessed of virtue are happy. And in this I agree with Brutus, and also with Aristotle, Xenocrates, Speusippus, Polemon.
XIV. To me such are the only men who appear completely happy; for what can he want to a complete happy life who relies on his own good qualities, or how can he be happy who does not rely on them? But he who makes a threefold division of goods must necessarily be diffident, for how can he depend on having a sound body, or that his fortune shall continue? But no one can be happy without an immovable, fixed, and permanent good. What, then, is this opinion of theirs? So that I think that saying of the Spartan may be applied to them, who, on some merchant’s boasting before him that he had dispatched ships to every maritime coast, replied that a fortune which depended on ropes was not very desirable. Can there be any doubt that whatever may be lost cannot be properly classed in the number of those things which complete a happy life? for of all that constitutes a happy life, nothing will admit of withering, or growing old, or wearing out, or decaying; for whoever is apprehensive of any loss of these things cannot be happy: the happy man should be safe, well fenced, well fortified, out of the reach of all annoyance, not like a man under trifling apprehensions, but free from all such.
As he is not called innocent who but slightly offends, but he who offends not at all, so it is he alone who is to be considered without fear who is free from all fear, not he who is but in little fear. For what else is courage but an affection of mind that is ready to undergo perils, and patient in the endurance of pain and labor without any alloy of fear? Now, this certainly could not be the case if there were anything else good but what depended on honesty alone. But, how can any one be in possession of that desirable and much-coveted security (for I now call a freedom from anxiety a security, on which freedom a happy life depends) who has, or may have, a multitude of evils attending him? How can he be brave and undaunted, and hold everything as trifles which can befall a man? for so a wise man should do, unless he be one who thinks that everything depends on himself.
Could the Lacedaemonians without this, when Philip threatened to prevent all their attempts, have asked him if he could prevent their killing themselves? Is it not easier, then, to find one man of such a spirit as we are inquiring after, than to meet with a whole city of such men? Now, if to this courage I am speaking of we add temperance, that it may govern all our feelings and agitations, what can be wanting to complete his happiness who is secured by his courage from uneasiness and fear, and is prevented from immoderate desires and immoderate insolence of joy by temperance? I could easily show that virtue is able to produce these effects, but that I have explained on the foregoing days.
XV. But as the perturbations of the mind make life miserable, and tranquillity renders it happy; and as these perturbations are of two sorts, grief and fear, proceeding from imagined evils, and as immoderate joy and lust arise from a mistake about what is good, and as all these feelings are in opposition to reason and counsel; when you see a man at ease, quite free and disengaged from such troublesome commotions, which are so much at variance with one another, can you hesitate to pronounce such a one a happy man? Now, the wise man is always in such a disposition; therefore the wise man is always happy. Besides, every good is pleasant; whatever is pleasant may be boasted and talked of; whatever may be boasted of is glorious; but whatever is glorious is certainly laudable, and whatever is laudable doubtless, also, honorable: whatever, then, is good is honorable (but the things which they reckon as goods they themselves do not call honorable); therefore what is honorable alone is good. Hence it follows that a happy life is comprised in honesty alone.
Such things, then, are not to be called or considered goods, when a man may enjoy an abundance of them, and yet be most miserable. Is there any doubt but that a man who enjoys the best health, and who has strength and beauty, and his senses flourishing in their utmost quickness and perfection—suppose him likewise, if you please, nimble and active, nay, give him riches, honors, authority, power, glory—now, I say, should this person, who is in possession of all these, be unjust, intemperate, timid, stupid, or an idiot—could you hesitate to call such a one miserable? What, then, are those goods in the possession of which you may be very miserable? Let us see if a happy life is not made up of parts of the same nature, as a heap implies a quantity of grain of the same kind. And if this be once admitted, happiness must be compounded of different good things, which alone are honorable; if there is any mixture of things of another sort with these, nothing honorable can proceed from such a composition: now, take away honesty, and how can you imagine anything happy? For whatever is good is desirable on that account; whatever is desirable must certainly be approved of; whatever you approve of must be looked on as acceptable and welcome. You must consequently impute dignity to this; and if so, it must necessarily be laudable: therefore, everything that is laudable is good. Hence it follows that what is honorable is the only good. And should we not look upon it in this light, there will be a great many things which we must call good.
XVI. I forbear to mention riches, which, as any one, let him be ever so unworthy, may have them, I do not reckon among goods; for what is good is not attainable by all. I pass over notoriety and popular fame, raised by the united voice of knaves and fools. Even things which are absolute nothings may be called goods; such as white teeth, handsome eyes, a good complexion, and what was commended by Euryclea, when she was washing Ulysses’s feet, the softness of his skin and the mildness of his discourse. If you look on these as goods, what greater encomiums can the gravity of a philosopher be entitled to than the wild opinion of the vulgar and the thoughtless crowd? The Stoics give the name of excellent and choice to what the others call good: they call them so, indeed; but they do not allow them to complete a happy life. But these others think that there is no life happy without them; or, admitting it to be happy, they deny it to be the most happy.
But our opinion is, that it is the most happy; and we prove it from that conclusion of Socrates. For thus that author of philosophy argued: that as the disposition of a man’s mind is, so is the man; such as the man is, such will be his discourse; his actions will correspond with his discourse, and his life with his actions. But the disposition of a good man’s mind is laudable; the life, therefore, of a good man is laudable; it is honorable, therefore, because laudable; the unavoidable conclusion from which is that the life of good men is happy. For, good Gods! did I not make it appear, by my former arguments—or was I only amusing myself and killing time in what I then said?—that the mind of a wise man was always free from every hasty motion which I call a perturbation, and that the most undisturbed peace always reigned in his breast?
A man, then, who is temperate and consistent, free from fear or grief, and uninfluenced by any immoderate joy or desire, cannot be otherwise than happy; but a wise man is always so, therefore he is always happy. Moreover, how can a good man avoid referring all his actions and all his feelings to the one standard of whether or not it is laudable? But he does refer everything to the object of living happily: it follows, then, that a happy life is laudable; but nothing is laudable without virtue: a happy life, then, is the consequence of virtue. And this is the unavoidable conclusion to be drawn from these arguments.
XVII. A wicked life has nothing which we ought to speak of or glory in; nor has that life which is neither happy nor miserable. But there is a kind of life that admits of being spoken of, and gloried in, and boasted of, as Epaminondas says,
The wings of Sparta’s pride my counsels clipped.
And Africanus boasts,
Who, from beyond Maeotis to the place
If, then, there is such a thing as a happy life, it is to be gloried in, spoken of, and commended by the person who enjoys it; for there is nothing excepting that which can be spoken of or gloried in; and when that is once admitted, you know what follows.
Now, unless an honorable life is a happy life, there must, of course, be something preferable to a happy life; for that which is honorable all men will certainly grant to be preferable to anything else. And thus there will be something better than a happy life: but what can be more absurd than such an assertion? What! when they grant vice to be effectual to the rendering life miserable, must they not admit that there is a corresponding power in virtue to make life happy? For contraries follow from contraries. And here I ask what weight they think there is in the balance of Critolaus, who having put the goods of the mind into one scale, and the goods of the body and other external advantages into the other, thought the goods of the mind outweighed the others so far that they would require the whole earth and sea to equalize the scale.
XVIII. What hinders Critolaus, then, or that gravest of philosophers, Xenocrates (who raises virtue so high, and who lessens and depreciates everything else), from not only placing a happy life, but the happiest possible life, in virtue? And, indeed, if this were not the case, virtue would be absolutely lost. For whoever is subject to grief must necessarily be subject to fear too, for fear is an uneasy apprehension of future grief; and whoever is subject to fear is liable to dread, timidity, consternation, cowardice. Therefore, such a person may, some time or other, be defeated, and not think himself concerned with that precept of Atreus,
And let men so conduct themselves in life,
But such a man, as I have said, will be defeated; and not only defeated, but made a slave of. But we would have virtue always free, always invincible; and were it not so, there would be an end of virtue. But if virtue has in herself all that is necessary for a good life, she is certainly sufficient for happiness: virtue is certainly sufficient, too, for our living with courage; if with courage, then with a magnanimous spirit, and indeed, so as never to be under any fear, and thus to be always invincible.
Hence it follows that there can be nothing to be repented of, no wants, no lets or hinderances. Thus all things will be prosperous, perfect, and as you would have them, and, consequently, happy; but virtue is sufficient for living with courage, and therefore virtue is able by herself to make life happy. For as folly, even when possessed of what it desires, never thinks it has acquired enough, so wisdom is always satisfied with the present, and never repents on her own account.
XIX. Look but on the single consulship of Laelius, and that, too, after having been set aside (though when a wise and good man like him is outvoted, the people are disappointed of a good consul, rather than he disappointed by a vain people); but the point is, would you prefer, were it in your power, to be once such a consul as LaeIius, or be elected four times, like Cinna? I have no doubt in the world what answer you will make, and it is on that account I put the question to you.
I would not ask every one this question; for some one perhaps might answer that he would not only prefer four consulates to one, but even one day of Cinna’s life to whole ages of many famous men. Laelius would have suffered had he but touched any one with his finger; but Cinna ordered the head of his colleague consul, Cn. Octavius, to be struck off; and. put to death P. Crassus, and L. Caesar, those excellent men, so renowned both at home and abroad; and even M. Antonius, the greatest orator whom I ever heard; and C. Caesar, who seems to me to have been the pattern of humanity, politeness, sweetness of temper, and wit.
Could he, then, be happy who occasioned the death of these men? So far from it, that he seems to be miserable, not only for having performed these actions, but also for acting in such a manner that it was lawful for him to do it, though it is unlawful for any one to do wicked actions; but this proceeds from inaccuracy of speech, for we call whatever a man is allowed to do lawful. Was not Marius happier, I pray you, when he shared the glory of the victory gained over the Cimbrians with his colleague Catulus (who was almost another Laelius; far I look upon the two men as very like one another), than when, conqueror in the civil war, he in a passion answered the friends of Catulus, who were interceding for him, “Let him die?” And this answer he gave, not once only, but often. But in such a case, he was happier who submitted to that barbarous decree than he who issued it. And it is better to receive an injury than to do one; and so it was better to advance a little to meet that death that was making its approaches, as Catulus did, than, like Marius, to sully the glory of six consulships, and disgrace his latter days, by the death of such a man.
Footnotes: P. Crassus was the elder brother of the triumvir Marcus Crassus, 87 B.C. He was put to death by Fimbria, who was in command of some of the troops of Marius.
Lucius Caesar and Caius Caesar were relations (it is uncertain in what degree) of the great Caesar, and were killed by Fimbria on the same occasion as Octavius.
M. Antonius was the grandfather of the triumvir; he was murdered the same year, 87 B.C., by Annius, when Marius and Cinna took Rome.
XX. Dionysius exercised his tyranny over the Syracusans thirty-eight years, being but twenty-five years old when he seized on the government. How beautiful and how wealthy a city did he oppress with slavery! And yet we have it from good authority that he was remarkably temperate in his manner of living, that he was very active and energetic in carrying on business, but naturally mischievous and unjust; from which description every one who diligently inquires into truth must inevitably see that he was very miserable. Neither did he attain what he so greatly desired, even when he was persuaded that he had unlimited power; for, notwithstanding he was of a good family and reputable parents (though that is contested by some authors), and had a very large acquaintance of intimate friends and relations, and also some youths attached to him by ties of love after the fashion of the Greeks, he could not trust any one of them, but committed the guard of his person to slaves, whom he had selected from rich men’s families and made free, and to strangers and barbarians. And thus, through an unjust desire of governing, he in a manner shut himself up in a prison. Besides, he would not trust his throat to a barber, but had his daughters taught to shave; so that these royal virgins were forced to descend to the base and slavish employment of shaving the head and beard of their father. Nor would he trust even them, when they were grown up, with a razor; but contrived how they might burn off the hair of his head and beard with red-hot nutshells.
And as to his two wives, Aristomache, his countrywoman, and Doris of Locris, he never visited them at night before everything had been well searched and examined. And as he had surrounded the place where his bed was with a broad ditch, and made a way over it with a wooden bridge, he drew that bridge over after shutting his bedchamber door. And as he did not dare to stand on the ordinary pulpits from which they usually harangued the people, he generally addressed them from a high tower. And it is said that when he was disposed to play at ball—for he delighted much in it—and had pulled off his clothes, he used to give his sword into the keeping of a young man whom he was very fond of. On this, one of his intimates said pleasantly, “You certainly trust your life with him;” and as the young man happened to smile at this, he ordered them both to be slain, the one for showing how be might be taken off, the other for approving of what had been said by smiling. But he was so concerned at what he had done that nothing affected him more during his whole life; for he had slain one to whom he was extremely partial. Thus do weak men’s desires pull them different ways, and while they indulge one, they act counter to another.
XXI. This tyrant, however, showed himself how happy he really was; for once, when Damocles, one of his flatterers, was dilating in conversation on his forces, his wealth, the greatness of his power, the plenty he enjoyed, the grandeur of his royal palaces, and maintaining that no one was ever happier, “Have you an inclination,” said he, “Damocles, as this kind of life pleases you, to have a taste of it yourself, and to make a trial of the good fortune that attends me?” And when he said that he should like it extremely, Dionysius ordered him to be laid on a bed of gold with the most beautiful covering, embroidered and wrought with the most exquisite work, and he dressed out a great many sideboards with silver and embossed gold. He then ordered some youths, distinguished for their handsome persons, to wait at his table, and to observe his nod, in order to serve him with what he wanted.
There were ointments and garlands; perfumes were burned; tables provided with the most exquisite meats. Damocles thought himself very happy. In the midst of this apparatus, Dionysius ordered a bright sword to be let down from the ceiling, suspended by a single horse-hair, so as to hang over the head of that happy man. After which he neither cast his eye on those handsome waiters, nor on the well-wrought plate; nor touched any of the provisions: presently the garlands fell to pieces. At last he entreated the tyrant to give him leave to go, for that now he had no desire to be happy. Does not Dionysius, then, seem to have declared there can be no happiness for one who is under constant apprehensions? But it was not now in his power to return to justice, and restore his citizens their rights and privileges; for, by the indiscretion of youth, he had engaged in so many wrong steps and committed such extravagances, that, had he attempted to have returned to a right way of thinking, he must have endangered his life.
XXII. Yet, how desirous he was of friendship, though at the same time he dreaded the treachery of friends, appears from the story of those two Pythagoreans: one of these had been security for his friend, who was condemned to die; the other, to release his security, presented himself at the time appointed for his dying: “I wish,” said Dionysius, “you would admit me as the third in your friendship.” What misery was it for him to be deprived of acquaintance, of company at his table, and of the freedom of conversation! especially for one who was a man of learning, and from his childhood acquainted with liberal arts, very fond of music, and himself a tragic poet—how good a one is not to the purpose, for I know not how it is, but in this way, more than any other, every one thinks his own performances excellent. I never as yet knew any poet (and I was very intimate with Aquinius), who did not appear to himself to be very admirable. The case is this: you are pleased with your own works; I like mine. But to return to Dionysius. He debarred himself from all civil and polite conversation, and spent his life among fugitives, bondmen, and barbarians; for he was persuaded that no one could be his friend who was worthy of liberty, or had the least desire of being free.
XXIII. Shall I not, then, prefer the life of Plato and Archytas, manifestly wise and learned men, to his, than which nothing can possibly be more horrid, or miserable, or detestable?
I will present you with an humble and obscure mathematician of the same city, called Archimedes, who lived many years after; whose tomb, overgrown with shrubs and briers, I in my quaestorship discovered, when the Syracusans knew nothing of it, and even denied that there was any such thing remaining; for I remembered some verses, which I had been informed were engraved on his monument, and these set forth that on the top of the tomb there was placed a sphere with a cylinder. When I had carefully examined all the monuments (for there are a great many tombs at the gate Achradinae), I observed a small column standing out a little above the briers, with the figure of a sphere and a cylinder upon it; whereupon I immediately said to the Syracusans—for there were some of their principal men with me there—that I imagined that was what I was inquiring for. Several men, being sent in with scythes, cleared the way, and made an opening for us. When we could get at it, and were come near to the front of the pedestal, I found the inscription, though the latter parts of all the verses were effaced almost half away.
Thus one of the noblest cities of Greece, and one which at one time likewise had been very celebrated for learning, had known nothing of the monument of its greatest genius, if it had not been discovered to them by a native of Arpinum. But to return to the subject from which I have been digressing. Who is there in the least degree acquainted with the Muses, that is, with liberal knowledge, or that deals at all in learning, who would not choose to be this mathematician rather than that tyrant? If we look into their methods of living and their employments, we shall find the mind of the one strengthened and improved with tracing the deductions of reason, amused with his own ingenuity, which is the one most delicious food of the mind; the thoughts of the other engaged in continual nmrders and injuries, in constant fears by night and by day.
Now imagine a Democritus, a Pythagoras, and an Anaxagoras; what kingdom, what riches, would you prefer to their studies and amusements? For you must necessarily look for that excellence which we are seeking for in that which is the most perfect part of man; but what is there better in man than a sagacious and good mind? The enjoyment, therefore, of that good which proceeds from that sagacious mind can alone make us happy; but virtue is the good of the mind: it follows, therefore, that a happy life depends on virtue. Hence proceed all things that are beautiful, honorable, and excellent, as I said above (but this point must, I think, be treated of more at large), and they are well stored with joys. For, as it is clear that a happy life consists in perpetual and unexhausted pleasures, it follows, too, that a happy life must arise from honesty.
XXIV. 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 awhile 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 subtlety in disputing and also clearness of judgment.
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.
XXV. 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 connection 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 connections 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. 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.
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.
XXVI. 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 honorable 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?
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 any one, 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. 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 honorable? 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.
XXVII. 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.
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 arid 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 among 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.
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 favor 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 any one inadvertently have hurt any of these animals, he will submit to any punishment. 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 honor’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.
XXVIII. 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 bold together without happiness, nor happiness without the virtues; 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 every one, and abide by his own opinion. For my part, I cannot form an idea of anything happier than this. 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.
XXIX. 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.
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. 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 favor of a happy life, may be agreeable to the opinions and discipline of all.
XXX. 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 Hieronyrnus asserts; “nothing good but an enjoyment of the principal, or all, or the greatest goods of nature,” as Carneades maintained against the Stoics—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 Callipho 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 Aristo, Pyrrho, Herillus, and of some others, are quite out of date.
Footnotes: Hieronymus was a Rhodian, and a pupil of Aristotle, flourishing about 300 B.C. He is frequently mentioned by Cicero.
We know very little of Dinomachus. Some MSS. have Clitomachus.
Cailipho was in all probability a pupil of Epicurus, but we have no certain information about him.
Diodorus was a Syrian, and succeeded Critolaus as the head of the Peripatetic School at Athens.
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 afterward himself succeeded Lycon.
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.
Herilius 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.
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.
XXXI. 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. 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, Hieronyrnus, and whoever else thinks it worth while 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.
For what seems to you to be the case with Epicurus is the case also with Hieronymus and Carneades, arid, 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. 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.
XXXII. 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? Could the Scythian Anacharsis [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.] 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. 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, carried 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.
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.
XXXIII. 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 any one 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. 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 any one’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.
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, on which account the body rejoices while 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.
XXXIV. 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 traveling 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 be was purchasing an appetite by walking, that he might sup the better.
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.
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. 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.
XXXV. 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 while I partake of them, but the next day also.” Besides, the understanding is impaired when we are full with overeating 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 noways 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; 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;
“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 while he was enjoying them.
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 any one 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.
XXXVI. 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 favor, 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. 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 contemn our ambitious pursuits and our vanities, and would reject all the honors 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. 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 among 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 connection 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.
XXXVII. If, then, honor 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 froward 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! 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, Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus, Antipater, Carneades, Panaetius, Clitomachus, Philo, 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. 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. Altibutius? 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. 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 Polemo, or Arcesilas? Or is that city to be valued much that banishes all her good and wise men? Demaratus, 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?
XXXVIII. 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. 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; 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 [Appius Claudius Caecus, who was censor 310 B.C.], 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.
XXXIX. 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. Diodorus 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 some one 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. Democritus was so blind he could not distinguish white from black; but he knew the difference between good and evil, just and unjust, honorable and base, the useful and useless, great and small. Thus one may live happily without distinguishing colors; 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,
Footnote: 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 honor 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:
Virgins, farewell—and oh! remember me
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? 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.
XL. 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. 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 forever 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!” When Perses 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.
XLI. This is the very same which is said by Epicurus and Hieronymus. Now, if those philosophers, whose opinion it is that virtue has no power of itself, and who say that the conduct which we denominate honorable 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: 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.
XLII. 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.