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Title: Cicero's Tusculan Disputations
       Also, Treatises On The Nature Of The Gods, And On The Commonwealth

Author: Marcus Tullius Cicero

Release Date: February 9, 2005 [EBook #14988]

Language: English and Latin

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Produced by Ted Garvin, Hagen von Eitzen and the PG Online Distributed
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CICERO’S TUSCULAN DISPUTATIONS, the Republic, and the Nature of the Gods.



LIVY. 2 Vols.











PLATO. [Select Dialogues.]

12mo, Cloth, $1.50 per Volume.

Harper & Brothers will send either of the above works by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States, on receipt of the price.


The greater portion of the Republic was previously translated by Francis Barham, Esq., and published in 1841. Although ably performed, it was not sufficiently close for the purpose of the “Classical Library,” and was therefore placed in the hands of the present editor for revision, as well as for collation with recent texts. This has occasioned material alterations and additions.

The treatise “On the Nature of the Gods” is a revision of that usually ascribed to the celebrated Benjamin Franklin.


Tusculan Disputations

On the Nature of the Gods

On the Commonwealth



In the year a.u.c. 708, and the sixty-second year of Cicero’s age, his daughter, Tullia, died in childbed; and her loss afflicted Cicero to such a degree that he abandoned all public business, and, leaving the city, retired to Asterra, which was a country house that he had near Antium; where, after a while, he devoted himself to philosophical studies, and, besides other works, he published his Treatise de Finibus, and also this treatise called the Tusculan Disputations, of which Middleton gives this concise description:

“The first book teaches us how to contemn the terrors of death, and to look upon it as a blessing rather than an evil;

“The second, to support pain and affliction with a manly fortitude;

“The third, to appease all our complaints and uneasinesses under the accidents of life;

“The fourth, to moderate all our other passions;

“And the fifth explains the sufficiency of virtue to make men happy.”

It was his custom in the opportunities of his leisure to take some friends with him into the country, where, instead of amusing themselves with idle sports or feasts, their diversions were wholly speculative, tending to improve the mind and enlarge the understanding. In this manner he now spent five days at his Tusculan villa in discussing with his friends the several questions just mentioned. For, after employing the mornings in declaiming and rhetorical exercises, they used to retire in the afternoon 8into a gallery, called the Academy, which he had built for the purpose of philosophical conferences, where, after the manner of the Greeks, he held a school, as they called it, and invited the company to call for any subject that they desired to hear explained, which being proposed accordingly by some of the audience became immediately the argument of that day’s debate. These five conferences, or dialogues, he collected afterward into writing in the very words and manner in which they really passed; and published them under the title of his Tusculan Disputations, from the name of the villa in which they were held.



I. At a time when I had entirely, or to a great degree, released myself from my labors as an advocate, and from my duties as a senator, I had recourse again, Brutus, principally by your advice, to those studies which never had been out of my mind, although neglected at times, and which after a long interval I resumed; and now, since the principles and rules of all arts which relate to living well depend on the study of wisdom, which is called philosophy, I have thought it an employment worthy of me to illustrate them in the Latin tongue, not because philosophy could not be understood in the Greek language, or by the teaching of Greek masters; but it has always been my opinion that our countrymen have, in some instances, made wiser discoveries than the Greeks, with reference to those subjects which they have considered worthy of devoting their attention to, and in others have improved upon their discoveries, so that in one way or other we surpass them on every point; for, with regard to the manners and habits of private life, and family and domestic affairs, we certainly manage them with more elegance, and better than they did; and as to our republic, that our ancestors have, beyond all dispute, formed on better customs and laws. What shall I say of our military affairs; in which our ancestors have been most eminent in valor, and still more so 9in discipline? As to those things which are attained not by study, but nature, neither Greece, nor any nation, is comparable to us; for what people has displayed such gravity, such steadiness, such greatness of soul, probity, faith—such distinguished virtue of every kind, as to be equal to our ancestors. In learning, indeed, and all kinds of literature, Greece did excel us, and it was easy to do so where there was no competition; for while among the Greeks the poets were the most ancient species of learned men—since Homer and Hesiod lived before the foundation of Rome, and Archilochus1 was a contemporary of Romulus—we received poetry much later. For it was about five hundred and ten years after the building of Rome before Livius2 published a play in the consulship of C. Claudius, the son of Cæcus, and M. Tuditanus, a year before the birth of Ennius, who was older than Plautus and Nævius.

II. It was, therefore, late before poets were either known or received among us; though we find in Cato de Originibus that the guests used, at their entertainments, to sing the praises of famous men to the sound of the flute; but a speech of Cato’s shows this kind of poetry to have been in no great esteem, as he censures Marcus Nobilior for carrying poets with him into his province; for that consul, as we know, carried Ennius with him into Ætolia. Therefore the less esteem poets were in, the less were 10those studies pursued; though even then those who did display the greatest abilities that way were not very inferior to the Greeks. Do we imagine that if it had been considered commendable in Fabius,3 a man of the highest rank, to paint, we should not have had many Polycleti and Parrhasii? Honor nourishes art, and glory is the spur with all to studies; while those studies are always neglected in every nation which are looked upon disparagingly. The Greeks held skill in vocal and instrumental music as a very important accomplishment, and therefore it is recorded of Epaminondas, who, in my opinion, was the greatest man among the Greeks, that he played excellently on the flute; and Themistocles, some years before, was deemed ignorant because at an entertainment he declined the lyre when it was offered to him. For this reason musicians flourished in Greece; music was a general study; and whoever was unacquainted with it was not considered as fully instructed in learning. Geometry was in high esteem with them, therefore none were more honorable than mathematicians. But we have confined this art to bare measuring and calculating.

III. But, on the contrary, we early entertained an esteem for the orator; though he was not at first a man of learning, but only quick at speaking: in subsequent times he became learned; for it is reported that Galba, Africanus, and Lælius were men of learning; and that even Cato, who preceded them in point of time, was a studious man: then succeeded the Lepidi, Carbo, and Gracchi, and so many great orators after them, down to our own times, that we were very little, if at all, inferior to the Greeks. Philosophy has been at a low ebb even to this present time, and has had no assistance from our own language, and so now I have undertaken to raise and illustrate it, in order that, as I have been of service to my countrymen, when employed on public affairs, I may, if possible, be so likewise in my retirement; and in this I must take the more pains, because there are already many books in the 11Latin language which are said to be written inaccurately, having been composed by excellent men, only not of sufficient learning; for, indeed, it is possible that a man may think well, and yet not be able to express his thoughts elegantly; but for any one to publish thoughts which he can neither arrange skilfully nor illustrate so as to entertain his reader, is an unpardonable abuse of letters and retirement: they, therefore, read their books to one another, and no one ever takes them up but those who wish to have the same license for careless writing allowed to themselves. Wherefore, if oratory has acquired any reputation from my industry, I shall take the more pains to open the fountains of philosophy, from which all my eloquence has taken its rise.

IV. But, as Aristotle,4 a man of the greatest genius, and of the most various knowledge, being excited by the glory of the rhetorician Isocrates,5 commenced teaching young men to speak, and joined philosophy with eloquence: so it is my design not to lay aside my former study of oratory, and yet to employ myself at the same time in this greater and more fruitful art; for I have always thought that to be able to speak copiously and elegantly on the most important questions was the most perfect philosophy. And I have so diligently applied myself to this pursuit, that I have already ventured to have a school like the Greeks. And lately when you left us, having many of my friends about me, I attempted at my Tusculan villa what I could do in that way; for as I formerly used to practise declaiming, which nobody continued longer than myself, so this is now to be the declamation of my old age. I desired any one to propose a question which he wished to have discussed, and then I argued that point either sitting or walking; and so I have compiled the scholæ, as the Greeks call them, of five days, in as many books. We proceeded in this manner: when he who had proposed the subject for discussion had said what he thought proper, I 12spoke against him; for this is, you know, the old and Socratic method of arguing against another’s opinion; for Socrates thought that thus the truth would more easily be arrived at. But to give you a better notion of our disputations, I will not barely send you an account of them, but represent them to you as they were carried on; therefore let the introduction be thus:

V. A. To me death seems to be an evil.

M. What, to those who are already dead? or to those who must die?

A. To both.

M. It is a misery, then, because an evil?

A. Certainly.

M. Then those who have already died, and those who have still got to die, are both miserable?

A. So it appears to me.

M. Then all are miserable?

A. Every one.

M. And, indeed, if you wish to be consistent, all that are already born, or ever shall be, are not only miserable, but always will be so; for should you maintain those only to be miserable, you would not except any one living, for all must die; but there should be an end of misery in death. But seeing that the dead are miserable, we are born to eternal misery, for they must of consequence be miserable who died a hundred thousand years ago; or rather, all that have ever been born.

A. So, indeed, I think.

M. Tell me, I beseech you, are you afraid of the three-headed Cerberus in the shades below, and the roaring waves of Cocytus, and the passage over Acheron, and Tantalus expiring with thirst, while the water touches his chin; and Sisyphus,

Who sweats with arduous toil in vain

The steepy summit of the mount to gain?

Perhaps, too, you dread the inexorable judges, Minos and Rhadamanthus; before whom neither L. Crassus nor M. Antonius can defend you; and where, since the cause lies before Grecian judges, you will not even be able to employ Demosthenes; but you must plead for yourself before a 13very great assembly. These things perhaps you dread, and therefore look on death as an eternal evil.

VI. A. Do you take me to be so imbecile as to give credit to such things?

M. What, do you not believe them?

A. Not in the least.

M. I am sorry to hear that.

A. Why, I beg?

M. Because I could have been very eloquent in speaking against them.

A. And who could not on such a subject? or what trouble is it to refute these monstrous inventions of the poets and painters?6

M. And yet you have books of philosophers full of arguments against these.

A. A great waste of time, truly! for who is so weak as to be concerned about them?

M. If, then, there is no one miserable in the infernal regions, there can be no one there at all.

A. I am altogether of that opinion.

M. Where, then, are those you call miserable? or what place do they inhabit? For, if they exist at all, they must be somewhere.

A. I, indeed, am of opinion that they are nowhere.

M. Then they have no existence at all.

A. Even so, and yet they are miserable for this very reason, that they have no existence.

M. I had rather now have you afraid of Cerberus than speak thus inaccurately.

A. In what respect?

M. Because you admit him to exist whose existence you deny with the same breath. Where now is your sagacity? When you say any one is miserable, you say that he who does not exist, does exist.

A. I am not so absurd as to say that.

14M. What is it that you do say, then?

A. I say, for instance, that Marcus Crassus is miserable in being deprived of such great riches as his by death; that Cn. Pompey is miserable in being taken from such glory and honor; and, in short, that all are miserable who are deprived of this light of life.

M. You have returned to the same point, for to be miserable implies an existence; but you just now denied that the dead had any existence: if, then, they have not, they can be nothing; and if so, they are not even miserable.

A. Perhaps I do not express what I mean, for I look upon this very circumstance, not to exist after having existed, to be very miserable.

M. What, more so than not to have existed at all? Therefore, those who are not yet born are miserable because they are not; and we ourselves, if we are to be miserable after death, were miserable before we were born: but I do not remember that I was miserable before I was born; and I should be glad to know, if your memory is better, what you recollect of yourself before you were born.

VII. A. You are pleasant: as if I had said that those men are miserable who are not born, and not that they are so who are dead.

M. You say, then, that they are so?

A. Yes; I say that because they no longer exist after having existed they are miserable.

M. You do not perceive that you are asserting contradictions; for what is a greater contradiction, than that that should be not only miserable, but should have any existence at all, which does not exist? When you go out at the Capene gate and see the tombs of the Calatini, the Scipios, Servilii, and Metelli, do you look on them as miserable?

A. Because you press me with a word, henceforward I will not say they are miserable absolutely, but miserable on this account, because they have no existence.

M. You do not say, then, “M. Crassus is miserable,” but only “Miserable M. Crassus.”

A. Exactly so.

M. As if it did not follow that whatever you speak of 15in that manner either is or is not. Are you not acquainted with the first principles of logic? For this is the first thing they lay down, Whatever is asserted (for that is the best way that occurs to me, at the moment, of rendering the Greek term ἀξίωμα; if I can think of a more accurate expression hereafter, I will use it), is asserted as being either true or false. When, therefore, you say, “Miserable M. Crassus,” you either say this, “M. Crassus is miserable,” so that some judgment may be made whether it is true or false, or you say nothing at all.

A. Well, then, I now own that the dead are not miserable, since you have drawn from me a concession that they who do not exist at all can not be miserable. What then? We that are alive, are we not wretched, seeing we must die? for what is there agreeable in life, when we must night and day reflect that, at some time or other, we must die?

VIII. M. Do you not, then, perceive how great is the evil from which you have delivered human nature?

A. By what means?

M. Because, if to die were miserable to the dead, to live would be a kind of infinite and eternal misery. Now, however, I see a goal, and when I have reached it, there is nothing more to be feared; but you seem to me to follow the opinion of Epicharmus,7 a man of some discernment, and sharp enough for a Sicilian.

A. What opinion? for I do not recollect it.

M. I will tell you if I can in Latin; for you know I am no more used to bring in Latin sentences in a Greek discourse than Greek in a Latin one.

A. And that is right enough. But what is that opinion of Epicharmus?


I would not die, but yet

Am not concerned that I shall be dead.

A. I now recollect the Greek; but since you have 16obliged me to grant that the dead are not miserable, proceed to convince me that it is not miserable to be under a necessity of dying.

M. That is easy enough; but I have greater things in hand.

A. How comes that to be so easy? And what are those things of more consequence?

M. Thus: because, if there is no evil after death, then even death itself can be none; for that which immediately succeeds that is a state where you grant that there is no evil: so that even to be obliged to die can be no evil, for that is only the being obliged to arrive at a place where we allow that no evil is.

A. I beg you will be more explicit on this point, for these subtle arguments force me sooner to admissions than to conviction. But what are those more important things about which you say that you are occupied?

M. To teach you, if I can, that death is not only no evil, but a good.

A. I do not insist on that, but should be glad to hear you argue it, for even though you should not prove your point, yet you will prove that death is no evil. But I will not interrupt you; I would rather hear a continued discourse.

M. What, if I should ask you a question, would you not answer?

A. That would look like pride; but I would rather you should not ask but where necessity requires.

IX. M. I will comply with your wishes, and explain as well as I can what you require; but not with any idea that, like the Pythian Apollo, what I say must needs be certain and indisputable, but as a mere man, endeavoring to arrive at probabilities by conjecture, for I have no ground to proceed further on than probability. Those men may call their statements indisputable who assert that what they say can be perceived by the senses, and who proclaim themselves philosophers by profession.

A. Do as you please: We are ready to hear you.

M. The first thing, then, is to inquire what death, which seems to be so well understood, really is; for some imagine death to be the departure of the soul from the body; 17others think that there is no such departure, but that soul and body perish together, and that the soul is extinguished with the body. Of those who think that the soul does depart from the body, some believe in its immediate dissolution; others fancy that it continues to exist for a time; and others believe that it lasts forever. There is great dispute even what the soul is, where it is, and whence it is derived: with some, the heart itself (cor) seems to be the soul, hence the expressions, excordes, vecordes, concordes; and that prudent Nasica, who was twice consul, was called Corculus, i.e., wise-heart; and Ælius Sextus is described as Egregie cordatus homo, catus Æliu’ Sextus—that great wise-hearted man, sage Ælius. Empedocles imagines the blood, which is suffused over the heart, to be the soul; to others, a certain part of the brain seems to be the throne of the soul; others neither allow the heart itself, nor any portion of the brain, to be the soul, but think either that the heart is the seat and abode of the soul, or else that the brain is so. Some would have the soul, or spirit, to be the anima, as our schools generally agree; and indeed the name signifies as much, for we use the expressions animam agere, to live; animam efflare, to expire; animosi, men of spirit; bene animati, men of right feeling; exanimi sententia, according to our real opinion; and the very word animus is derived from anima. Again, the soul seems to Zeno the Stoic to be fire.

X. But what I have said as to the heart, the blood, the brain, air, or fire being the soul, are common opinions: the others are only entertained by individuals; and, indeed, there were many among the ancients who held singular opinions on this subject, of whom the latest was Aristoxenus, a man who was both a musician and a philosopher. He maintained a certain straining of the body, like what is called harmony in music, to be the soul, and believed that, from the figure and nature of the whole body, various motions are excited, as sounds are from an instrument. He adhered steadily to his system, and yet he said something, the nature of which, whatever it was, had been detailed and explained a great while before by Plato. Xenocrates denied that the soul had any figure, or anything like a body; but said it was a number, the power of which, as 18Pythagoras had fancied, some ages before, was the greatest in nature: his master, Plato, imagined a threefold soul, a dominant portion of which—that is to say, reason—he had lodged in the head, as in a tower; and the other two parts—namely, anger and desire—he made subservient to this one, and allotted them distinct abodes, placing anger in the breast, and desire under the præcordia. But Dicæarchus, in that discourse of some learned disputants, held at Corinth, which he details to us in three books—in the first book introduces many speakers; and in the other two he introduces a certain Pherecrates, an old man of Phthia, who, as he said, was descended from Deucalion; asserting, that there is in fact no such thing at all as a soul, but that it is a name without a meaning; and that it is idle to use the expression “animals,” or “animated beings;” that neither men nor beasts have minds or souls, but that all that power by which we act or perceive is equally infused into every living creature, and is inseparable from the body, for if it were not, it would be nothing; nor is there anything whatever really existing except body, which is a single and simple thing, so fashioned as to live and have its sensations in consequence of the regulations of nature. Aristotle, a man superior to all others, both in genius and industry (I always except Plato), after having embraced these four known sorts of principles, from which all things deduce their origin, imagines that there is a certain fifth nature, from whence comes the soul; for to think, to foresee, to learn, to teach, to invent anything, and many other attributes of the same kind, such as to remember, to love, to hate, to desire, to fear, to be pleased or displeased—these, and others like them, exist, he thinks, in none of those first four kinds: on such account he adds a fifth kind, which has no name, and so by a new name he calls the soul ἐνδελέχεια, as if it were a certain continued and perpetual motion.

XI. If I have not forgotten anything unintentionally, these are the principal opinions concerning the soul. I have omitted Democritus, a very great man indeed, but one who deduces the soul from the fortuitous concourse of small, light, and round substances; for, if you believe men of his school, there is nothing which a crowd of atoms 19cannot effect. Which of these opinions is true, some God must determine. It is an important question for us, Which has the most appearance of truth? Shall we, then, prefer determining between them, or shall we return to our subject?

A. I could wish both, if possible; but it is difficult to mix them: therefore, if without a discussion of them we can get rid of the fears of death, let us proceed to do so; but if this is not to be done without explaining the question about souls, let us have that now, and the other at another time.

M. I take that plan to be the best, which I perceive you are inclined to; for reason will demonstrate that, whichever of the opinions which I have stated is true, it must follow, then, that death cannot be an evil; or that it must rather be something desirable; for if either the heart, or the blood, or the brain, is the soul, then certainly the soul, being corporeal, must perish with the rest of the body; if it is air, it will perhaps be dissolved; if it is fire, it will be extinguished; if it is Aristoxenus’s harmony, it will be put out of tune. What shall I say of Dicæarchus, who denies that there is any soul? In all these opinions, there is nothing to affect any one after death; for all feeling is lost with life, and where there is no sensation, nothing can interfere to affect us. The opinions of others do indeed bring us hope; if it is any pleasure to you to think that souls, after they leave the body, may go to heaven as to a permanent home.

A. I have great pleasure in that thought, and it is what I most desire; and even if it should not be so, I should still be very willing to believe it.

M. What occasion have you, then, for my assistance? Am I superior to Plato in eloquence? Turn over carefully his book that treats of the soul; you will have there all that you can want.

A. I have, indeed, done that, and often; but, I know not how it comes to pass, I agree with it while I am reading it; but when I have laid down the book, and begin to reflect with myself on the immortality of the soul, all that agreement vanishes.

M. How comes that? Do you admit this—that souls 20either exist after death, or else that they also perish at the moment of death?

A. I agree to that. And if they do exist, I admit that they are happy; but if they perish, I cannot suppose them to be unhappy, because, in fact, they have no existence at all. You drove me to that concession but just now.

M. How, then, can you, or why do you, assert that you think that death is an evil, when it either makes us happy, in the case of the soul continuing to exist, or, at all events, not unhappy, in the case of our becoming destitute of all sensation?

XII. A. Explain, therefore, if it is not troublesome to you, first, if you can, that souls do exist after death; secondly, should you fail in that (and it is a very difficult thing to establish), that death is free from all evil; for I am not without my fears that this itself is an evil: I do not mean the immediate deprivation of sense, but the fact that we shall hereafter suffer deprivation.

M. I have the best authority in support of the opinion you desire to have established, which ought, and generally has, great weight in all cases. And, first, I have all antiquity on that side, which the more near it is to its origin and divine descent, the more clearly, perhaps, on that account, did it discern the truth in these matters. This very doctrine, then, was adopted by all those ancients whom Ennius calls in the Sabine tongue Casci; namely, that in death there was a sensation, and that, when men departed this life, they were not so entirely destroyed as to perish absolutely. And this may appear from many other circumstances, and especially from the pontifical rites and funeral obsequies, which men of the greatest genius would not have been so solicitous about, and would not have guarded from any injury by such severe laws, but from a firm persuasion that death was not so entire a destruction as wholly to abolish and destroy everything, but rather a kind of transmigration, as it were, and change of life, which was, in the case of illustrious men and women, usually a guide to heaven, while in that of others it was still confined to the earth, but in such a manner as still to exist. From this, and the sentiments of the Romans,

In heaven Romulus with Gods now lives,

21as Ennius saith, agreeing with the common belief; hence, too, Hercules is considered so great and propitious a God among the Greeks, and from them he was introduced among us, and his worship has extended even to the very ocean itself. This is how it was that Bacchus was deified, the offspring of Semele; and from the same illustrious fame we receive Castor and Pollux as Gods, who are reported not only to have helped the Romans to victory in their battles, but to have been the messengers of their success. What shall we say of Ino, the daughter of Cadmus? Is she not called Leucothea by the Greeks, and Matuta by us? Nay, more; is not the whole of heaven (not to dwell on particulars) almost filled with the offspring of men?

Should I attempt to search into antiquity, and produce from thence what the Greek writers have asserted, it would appear that even those who are called their principal Gods were taken from among men up into heaven.

XIII. Examine the sepulchres of those which are shown in Greece; recollect, for you have been initiated, what lessons are taught in the mysteries; then will you perceive how extensive this doctrine is. But they who were not acquainted with natural philosophy (for it did not begin to be in vogue till many years later) had no higher belief than what natural reason could give them; they were not acquainted with the principles and causes of things; they were often induced by certain visions, and those generally in the night, to think that those men who had departed from this life were still alive. And this may further be brought as an irrefragable argument for us to believe that there are Gods—that there never was any nation so barbarous, nor any people in the world so savage, as to be without some notion of Gods. Many have wrong notions of the Gods, for that is the nature and ordinary consequence of bad customs, yet all allow that there is a certain divine nature and energy. Nor does this proceed from the conversation of men, or the agreement of philosophers; it is not an opinion established by institutions or by laws; but, no doubt, in every case the consent of all nations is to be looked on as a law of nature. Who is there, then, that does not lament the loss of his friends, principally from 22imagining them deprived of the conveniences of life? Take away this opinion, and you remove with it all grief; for no one is afflicted merely on account of a loss sustained by himself. Perhaps we may be sorry, and grieve a little; but that bitter lamentation and those mournful tears have their origin in our apprehensions that he whom we loved is deprived of all the advantages of life, and is sensible of his loss. And we are led to this opinion by nature, without any arguments or any instruction.

XIV. But the greatest proof of all is, that nature herself gives a silent judgment in favor of the immortality of the soul, inasmuch as all are anxious, and that to a great degree, about the things which concern futurity:

One plants what future ages shall enjoy,

as Statius saith in his Synephebi. What is his object in doing so, except that he is interested in posterity? Shall the industrious husbandman, then, plant trees the fruit of which he shall never see? And shall not the great man found laws, institutions, and a republic? What does the procreation of children imply, and our care to continue our names, and our adoptions, and our scrupulous exactness in drawing up wills, and the inscriptions on monuments, and panegyrics, but that our thoughts run on futurity? There is no doubt but a judgment may be formed of nature in general, from looking at each nature in its most perfect specimens; and what is a more perfect specimen of a man than those are who look on themselves as born for the assistance, the protection, and the preservation of others? Hercules has gone to heaven; he never would have gone thither had he not, while among men, made that road for himself. These things are of old date, and have, besides, the sanction of universal religion.

XV. What will you say? What do you imagine that so many and such great men of our republic, who have sacrificed their lives for its good, expected? Do you believe that they thought that their names should not continue beyond their lives? None ever encountered death for their country but under a firm persuasion of immortality! Themistocles might have lived at his ease; so might Epaminondas; and, not to look abroad and among the ancients 23for instances, so might I myself. But, somehow or other there clings to our minds a certain presage of future ages; and this both exists most firmly, and appears most clearly, in men of the loftiest genius and greatest souls. Take away this, and who would be so mad as to spend his life amidst toils and dangers? I speak of those in power. What are the poet’s views but to be ennobled after death? What else is the object of these lines,

Behold old Ennius here, who erst

Thy fathers’ great exploits rehearsed?

He is challenging the reward of glory from those men whose ancestors he himself had ennobled by his poetry. And in the same spirit he says, in another passage,

Let none with tears my funeral grace, for I

Claim from my works an immortality.

Why do I mention poets? The very mechanics are desirous of fame after death. Why did Phidias include a likeness of himself in the shield of Minerva, when he was not allowed to inscribe his name on it? What do our philosophers think on the subject? Do not they put their names to those very books which they write on the contempt of glory? If, then, universal consent is the voice of nature, and if it is the general opinion everywhere that those who have quitted this life are still interested in something, we also must subscribe to that opinion. And if we think that men of the greatest abilities and virtues see most clearly into the power of nature, because they themselves are her most perfect work, it is very probable that, as every great man is especially anxious to benefit posterity, there is something of which he himself will be sensible after death.

XVI. But as we are led by nature to think there are Gods, and as we discover, by reason, of what description they are, so, by the consent of all nations, we are induced to believe that our souls survive; but where their habitation is, and of what character they eventually are, must be learned from reason. The want of any certain reason on which to argue has given rise to the idea of the shades below, and to those fears which you seem, not without 24reason, to despise; for as our bodies fall to the ground, and are covered with earth (humus), from whence we derive the expression to be interred (humari), that has occasioned men to imagine that the dead continue, during the remainder of their existence, under ground; which opinion has drawn after it many errors, which the poets have increased; for the theatre, being frequented by a large crowd, among which are women and children, is wont to be greatly affected on hearing such pompous verses as these,

Lo! here I am, who scarce could gain this place,

Through stony mountains and a dreary waste;

Through cliffs, whose sharpen’d stones tremendous hung,

Where dreadful darkness spread itself around.

And the error prevailed so much, though indeed at present it seems to me to be removed, that although men knew that the bodies of the dead had been burned, yet they conceived such things to be done in the infernal regions as could not be executed or imagined without a body; for they could not conceive how disembodied souls could exist; and, therefore, they looked out for some shape or figure. This was the origin of all that account of the dead in Homer. This was the idea that caused my friend Appius to frame his Necromancy; and this is how there got about that idea of the lake of Avernus, in my neighborhood,

From whence the souls of undistinguish’d shape,

Clad in thick shade, rush from the open gate

Of Acheron, vain phantoms of the dead.

And they must needs have these appearances speak, which is not possible without a tongue, and a palate, and jaws, and without the help of lungs and sides, and without some shape or figure; for they could see nothing by their mind alone—they referred all to their eyes. To withdraw the mind from sensual objects, and abstract our thoughts from what we are accustomed to, is an attribute of great genius. I am persuaded, indeed, that there were many such men in former ages; but Pherecydes8 the Syrian is the 25first on record who said that the souls of men were immortal, and he was a philosopher of great antiquity, in the reign of my namesake Tullius. His disciple Pythagoras greatly confirmed this opinion, who came into Italy in the reign of Tarquin the Proud; and all that country which is called Great Greece was occupied by his school, and he himself was held in high honor, and had the greatest authority; and the Pythagorean sect was for many ages after in such great credit, that all learning was believed to be confined to that name.

XVII. But I return to the ancients. They scarcely ever gave any reason for their opinion but what could be explained by numbers or definitions. It is reported of Plato that he came into Italy to make himself acquainted with the Pythagoreans; and that when there, among others, he made an acquaintance with Archytas9 and Timæus,10 and learned from them all the tenets of the Pythagoreans; and that he not only was of the same opinion with Pythagoras concerning the immortality of the soul, but that he also brought reasons in support of it; which, if you have nothing to say against it, I will pass over, and say no more at present about all this hope of immortality.

A. What, will you leave me when you have raised my expectations so high? I had rather, so help me Hercules! be mistaken with Plato, whom I know how much you esteem, and whom I admire myself, from what you say of him, than be in the right with those others.

26M. I commend you; for, indeed, I could myself willingly be mistaken in his company. Do we, then, doubt, as we do in other cases (though I think here is very little room for doubt in this case, for the mathematicians prove the facts to us), that the earth is placed in the midst of the world, being, as it were, a sort of point, which they call a κέντρον, surrounded by the whole heavens; and that such is the nature of the four principles which are the generating causes of all things, that they have equally divided among them the constituents of all bodies; moreover, that earthy and humid bodies are carried at equal angles by their own weight and ponderosity into the earth and sea; that the other two parts consist, one of fire, and the other of air? As the two former are carried by their gravity and weight into the middle region of the world, so these, on the other hand, ascend by right lines into the celestial regions, either because, owing to their intrinsic nature, they are always endeavoring to reach the highest place, or else because lighter bodies are naturally repelled by heavier; and as this is notoriously the case, it must evidently follow that souls, when once they have departed from the body, whether they are animal (by which term I mean capable of breathing) or of the nature of fire, must mount upward. But if the soul is some number, as some people assert, speaking with more subtlety than clearness, or if it is that fifth nature, for which it would be more correct to say that we have not given a name to than that we do not correctly understand it—still it is too pure and perfect not to go to a great distance from the earth. Something of this sort, then, we must believe the soul to be, that we may not commit the folly of thinking that so active a principle lies immerged in the heart or brain; or, as Empedocles would have it, in the blood.

XVIII. We will pass over Dicæarchus,11 with his contemporary and fellow-disciple Aristoxenus,12 both indeed 27men of learning. One of them seems never even to have been affected with grief, as he could not perceive that he had a soul; while the other is so pleased with his musical compositions that he endeavors to show an analogy betwixt them and souls. Now, we may understand harmony to arise from the intervals of sounds, whose various compositions occasion many harmonies; but I do not see how a disposition of members, and the figure of a body without a soul, can occasion harmony. He had better, learned as he is, leave these speculations to his master Aristotle, and follow his own trade as a musician. Good advice is given him in that Greek proverb,

Apply your talents where you best are skill’d.

I will have nothing at all to do with that fortuitous concourse of individual light and round bodies, notwithstanding Democritus insists on their being warm and having breath, that is to say, life. But this soul, which is compounded of either of the four principles from which we assert that all things are derived, is of inflamed air, as seems particularly to have been the opinion of Panætius, and must necessarily mount upward; for air and fire have no tendency downward, but always ascend; so should they be dissipated that must be at some distance from the earth; but should they remain, and preserve their original state, it is clearer still that they must be carried heavenward, and this gross and concrete air, which is nearest the earth, must be divided and broken by them; for the soul is warmer, or rather hotter, than that air, which I just now called gross and concrete: and this may be made evident from this consideration—that our bodies, being compounded of the earthy class of principles, grow warm by the heat of the soul.

XIX. We may add, that the soul can the more easily escape from this air, which I have often named, and break 28through it, because nothing is swifter than the soul; no swiftness is comparable to the swiftness of the soul, which, should it remain uncorrupt and without alteration, must necessarily be carried on with such velocity as to penetrate and divide all this atmosphere, where clouds, and rain, and winds are formed, which, in consequence of the exhalations from the earth, is moist and dark: but, when the soul has once got above this region, and falls in with, and recognizes, a nature like its own, it then rests upon fires composed of a combination of thin air and a moderate solar heat, and does not aim at any higher flight; for then, after it has attained a lightness and heat resembling its own, it moves no more, but remains steady, being balanced, as it were, between two equal weights. That, then, is its natural seat where it has penetrated to something like itself, and where, wanting nothing further, it may be supported and maintained by the same aliment which nourishes and maintains the stars.

Now, as we are usually incited to all sorts of desires by the stimulus of the body, and the more so as we endeavor to rival those who are in possession of what we long for, we shall certainly be happy when, being emancipated from that body, we at the same time get rid of these desires and this rivalry. And that which we do at present, when, dismissing all other cares, we curiously examine and look into anything, we shall then do with greater freedom; and we shall employ ourselves entirely in the contemplation and examination of things; because there is naturally in our minds a certain insatiable desire to know the truth, and the very region itself where we shall arrive, as it gives us a more intuitive and easy knowledge of celestial things, will raise our desires after knowledge. For it was this beauty of the heavens, as seen even here upon earth, which gave birth to that national and hereditary philosophy (as Theophrastus calls it), which was thus excited to a desire of knowledge. But those persons will in a most especial degree enjoy this philosophy, who, while they were only inhabitants of this world and enveloped in darkness, were still desirous of looking into these things with the eye of their mind.

XX. For if those men now think that they have attained 29something who have seen the mouth of the Pontus, and those straits which were passed by the ship called Argo, because,

From Argos she did chosen men convey,

Bound to fetch back the Golden Fleece, their prey;

or those who have seen the straits of the ocean,

Where the swift waves divide the neighboring shores

Of Europe, and of Afric;

what kind of sight do you imagine that will be when the whole earth is laid open to our view? and that, too, not only in its position, form, and boundaries, nor those parts of it only which are habitable, but those also that lie uncultivated, through the extremities of heat and cold to which they are exposed; for not even now is it with our eyes that we view what we see, for the body itself has no senses; but (as the naturalists, ay, and even the physicians assure us, who have opened our bodies, and examined them) there are certain perforated channels from the seat of the soul to the eyes, ears, and nose; so that frequently, when either prevented by meditation, or the force of some bodily disorder, we neither hear nor see, though our eyes and ears are open and in good condition; so that we may easily apprehend that it is the soul itself which sees and hears, and not those parts which are, as it were, but windows to the soul, by means of which, however, she can perceive nothing, unless she is on the spot, and exerts herself. How shall we account for the fact that by the same power of thinking we comprehend the most different things—as color, taste, heat, smell, and sound—which the soul could never know by her five messengers, unless every thing were referred to her, and she were the sole judge of all? And we shall certainly discover these things in a more clear and perfect degree when the soul is disengaged from the body, and has arrived at that goal to which nature leads her; for at present, notwithstanding nature has contrived, with the greatest skill, those channels which lead from the body to the soul, yet are they, in some way or other, stopped up with earthy and concrete bodies; but when we shall be nothing but soul, then nothing will interfere 30to prevent our seeing everything in its real substance and in its true character.

XXI. It is true, I might expatiate, did the subject require it, on the many and various objects with which the soul will be entertained in those heavenly regions; when I reflect on which, I am apt to wonder at the boldness of some philosophers, who are so struck with admiration at the knowledge of nature as to thank, in an exulting manner, the first inventor and teacher of natural philosophy, and to reverence him as a God; for they declare that they have been delivered by his means from the greatest tyrants, a perpetual terror, and a fear that molested them by night and day. What is this dread—this fear? What old woman is there so weak as to fear these things, which you, forsooth, had you not been acquainted with natural philosophy, would stand in awe of?

The hallow’d roofs of Acheron, the dread

Of Orcus, the pale regions of the dead.

And does it become a philosopher to boast that he is not afraid of these things, and that he has discovered them to be false? And from this we may perceive how acute these men were by nature, who, if they had been left without any instruction, would have believed in these things. But now they have certainly made a very fine acquisition in learning that when the day of their death arrives, they will perish entirely. And if that really is the case—for I say nothing either way—what is there agreeable or glorious in it? Not that I see any reason why the opinion of Pythagoras and Plato may not be true; but even although Plato were to have assigned no reason for his opinion (observe how much I esteem the man), the weight of his authority would have borne me down; but he has brought so many reasons, that he appears to me to have endeavored to convince others, and certainly to have convinced himself.

XXII. But there are many who labor on the other side of the question, and condemn souls to death, as if they were criminals capitally convicted; nor have they any other reason to allege why the immortality of the soul appears to them to be incredible, except that they are not 31able to conceive what sort of thing the soul can be when disentangled from the body; just as if they could really form a correct idea as to what sort of thing it is, even when it is in the body; what its form, and size, and abode are; so that were they able to have a full view of all that is now hidden from them in a living body, they have no idea whether the soul would be discernible by them, or whether it is of so fine a texture that it would escape their sight. Let those consider this, who say that they are unable to form any idea of the soul without the body, and then they will see whether they can form any adequate idea of what it is when it is in the body. For my own part, when I reflect on the nature of the soul, it appears to me a far more perplexing and obscure question to determine what is its character while it is in the body—a place which, as it were, does not belong to it—than to imagine what it is when it leaves it, and has arrived at the free æther, which is, if I may so say, its proper, its own habitation. For unless we are to say that we cannot apprehend the character or nature of anything which we have never seen, we certainly may be able to form some notion of God, and of the divine soul when released from the body. Dicæarchus, indeed, and Aristoxenus, because it was hard to understand the existence and substance and nature of the soul, asserted that there was no such thing as a soul at all. It is, indeed, the most difficult thing imaginable to discern the soul by the soul. And this, doubtless, is the meaning of the precept of Apollo, which advises every one to know himself. For I do not apprehend the meaning of the God to have been that we should understand our members, our stature, and form; for we are not merely bodies; nor, when I say these things to you, am I addressing myself to your body: when, therefore, he says, “Know yourself,” he says this, “Inform yourself of the nature of your soul;” for the body is but a kind of vessel, or receptacle of the soul, and whatever your soul does is your own act. To know the soul, then, unless it had been divine, would not have been a precept of such excellent wisdom as to be attributed to a God; but even though the soul should not know of what nature itself is, will you say that it does not even perceive that 32it exists at all, or that it has motion? On which is founded that reason of Plato’s, which is explained by Socrates in the Phædrus, and inserted by me, in my sixth book of the Republic.

XXIII. “That which is always moved is eternal; but that which gives motion to something else, and is moved itself by some external cause, when that motion ceases, must necessarily cease to exist. That, therefore, alone, which is self-moved, because it is never forsaken by itself, can never cease to be moved. Besides, it is the beginning and principle of motion to everything else; but whatever is a principle has no beginning, for all things arise from that principle, and it cannot itself owe its rise to anything else; for then it would not be a principle did it proceed from anything else. But if it has no beginning, it never will have any end; for a principle which is once extinguished cannot itself be restored by anything else, nor can it produce anything else from itself; inasmuch as all things must necessarily arise from some first cause. And thus it comes about that the first principle of motion must arise from that thing which is itself moved by itself; and that can neither have a beginning nor an end of its existence, for otherwise the whole heaven and earth would be overset, and all nature would stand still, and not be able to acquire any force by the impulse of which it might be first set in motion. Seeing, then, that it is clear that whatever moves itself is eternal, can there be any doubt that the soul is so? For everything is inanimate which is moved by an external force; but everything which is animate is moved by an interior force, which also belongs to itself. For this is the peculiar nature and power of the soul; and if the soul be the only thing in the whole world which has the power of self-motion, then certainly it never had a beginning, and therefore it is eternal.”

Now, should all the lower order of philosophers (for so I think they may be called who dissent from Plato and Socrates and that school) unite their force, they never would be able to explain anything so elegantly as this, nor even to understand how ingeniously this conclusion is drawn. The soul, then, perceives itself to have motion, 33and at the same time that it gets that perception, it is sensible that it derives that motion from its own power, and not from the agency of another; and it is impossible that it should ever forsake itself. And these premises compel you to allow its eternity, unless you have something to say against them.

A. I should myself be very well pleased not to have even a thought arise in my mind against them, so much am I inclined to that opinion.

XXIV. M. Well, then, I appeal to you, if the arguments which prove that there is something divine in the souls of men are not equally strong? But if I could account for the origin of these divine properties, then I might also be able to explain how they might cease to exist; for I think I can account for the manner in which the blood, and bile, and phlegm, and bones, and nerves, and veins, and all the limbs, and the shape of the whole body, were put together and made; ay, and even as to the soul itself, were there nothing more in it than a principle of life, then the life of a man might be put upon the same footing as that of a vine or any other tree, and accounted for as caused by nature; for these things, as we say, live. Besides, if desires and aversions were all that belonged to the soul, it would have them only in common with the beasts; but it has, in the first place, memory, and that, too, so infinite as to recollect an absolute countless number of circumstances, which Plato will have to be a recollection of a former life; for in that book which is inscribed Menon, Socrates asks a child some questions in geometry, with reference to measuring a square; his answers are such as a child would make, and yet the questions are so easy, that while answering them, one by one, he comes to the same point as if he had learned geometry. From whence Socrates would infer that learning is nothing more than recollection; and this topic he explains more accurately in the discourse which he held the very day he died; for he there asserts that, any one, who seeming to be entirely illiterate, is yet able to answer a question well that is proposed to him, does in so doing manifestly show that he is not learning it then, but recollecting it by his memory. Nor is it to be accounted for in any other way, how children 34come to have notions of so many and such important things as are implanted, and, as it were, sealed up, in their minds (which the Greeks call ἔννοιαι), unless the soul, before it entered the body, had been well stored with knowledge. And as it had no existence at all (for this is the invariable doctrine of Plato, who will not admit anything to have a real existence which has a beginning and an end, and who thinks that that alone does really exist which is of such a character as what he calls εἴδεα, and we species), therefore, being shut up in the body, it could not while in the body discover what it knows; but it knew it before, and brought the knowledge with it, so that we are no longer surprised at its extensive and multifarious knowledge. Nor does the soul clearly discover its ideas at its first resort to this abode to which it is so unaccustomed, and which is in so disturbed a state; but after having refreshed and recollected itself, it then by its memory recovers them; and, therefore, to learn implies nothing more than to recollect. But I am in a particular manner surprised at memory. For what is that faculty by which we remember? what is its force? what its nature? I am not inquiring how great a memory Simonides13 may be said to have had, or Theodectes,14 or that Cineas15 who was sent to Rome as ambassador from Pyrrhus; or, in more modern times, Charmadas;16 or, very lately, Metrodorus17 35the Scepsian, or our own contemporary Hortensius18: I am speaking of ordinary memory, and especially of those men who are employed in any important study or art, the great capacity of whose minds it is hard to estimate, such numbers of things do they remember.

XXV. Should you ask what this leads to, I think we may understand what that power is, and whence we have it. It certainly proceeds neither from the heart, nor from the blood, nor from the brain, nor from atoms; whether it be air or fire, I know not, nor am I, as those men are, ashamed, in cases where I am ignorant, to own that I am so. If in any other obscure matter I were able to assert anything positively, then I would swear that the soul, be it air or fire, is divine. Just think, I beseech you: can you imagine this wonderful power of memory to be sown in or to be a part of the composition of the earth, or of this dark and gloomy atmosphere? Though you cannot apprehend what it is, yet you see what kind of thing it is, or if you do not quite see that, yet you certainly see how great it is. What, then? Shall we imagine that there is a kind of measure in the soul, into which, as into a vessel, all that we remember is poured? That indeed is absurd; for how shall we form any idea of the bottom, or of the shape or fashion of such a soul as that? And, again, how are we to conceive how much it is able to contain? Shall we imagine the soul to receive impressions like wax, and memory to be marks of the impressions made on the soul? What are the characters of the words, what of the facts themselves? and what, again, is that prodigious greatness which can give rise to impressions of so many things? What, lastly, is that power which investigates secret things, and is called invention and contrivance? Does that man seem to be compounded of this earthly, mortal, and perishing nature who first invented names for everything; 36which, if you will believe Pythagoras, is the highest pitch of wisdom? or he who collected the dispersed inhabitants of the world, and united them in the bonds of social life? or he who confined the sounds of the voice, which used to seem infinite, to the marks of a few letters? or he who first observed the courses of the planets, their progressive motions, their laws? These were all great men. But they were greater still who invented food, and raiment, and houses; who introduced civilization among us, and armed us against the wild beasts; by whom we were made sociable and polished, and so proceeded from the necessaries of life to its embellishments. For we have provided great entertainments for the ears by inventing and modulating the variety and nature of sounds; we have learned to survey the stars, not only those that are fixed, but also those which are improperly called wandering; and the man who has acquainted himself with all their revolutions and motions is fairly considered to have a soul resembling the soul of that Being who has created those stars in the heavens: for when Archimedes described in a sphere the motions of the moon, sun, and five planets, he did the very same thing as Plato’s God, in his Timæus, who made the world, causing one revolution to adjust motions differing as much as possible in their slowness and velocity. Now, allowing that what we see in the world could not be effected without a God, Archimedes could not have imitated the same motions in his sphere without a divine soul.

XXVI. To me, indeed, it appears that even those studies which are more common and in greater esteem are not without some divine energy: so that I do not consider that a poet can produce a serious and sublime poem without some divine impulse working on his mind; nor do I think that eloquence, abounding with sonorous words and fruitful sentences, can flow thus without something beyond mere human power. But as to philosophy, that is the parent of all the arts: what can we call that but, as Plato says, a gift, or, as I express it, an invention, of the Gods? This it was which first taught us the worship of the Gods; and then led us on to justice, which arises from the human race being formed into society; and after that 37it imbued us with modesty and elevation of soul. This it was which dispersed darkness from our souls, as it is dispelled from our eyes, enabling us to see all things that are above or below, the beginning, end, and middle of everything. I am convinced entirely that that which could effect so many and such great things must be a divine power. For what is memory of words and circumstances? What, too, is invention? Surely they are things than which nothing greater can be conceived in a God! For I do not imagine the Gods to be delighted with nectar and ambrosia, or with Juventas presenting them with a cup; nor do I put any faith in Homer, who says that Ganymede was carried away by the Gods on account of his beauty, in order to give Jupiter his wine. Too weak reasons for doing Laomedon such injury! These were mere inventions of Homer, who gave his Gods the imperfections of men. I would rather that he had given men the perfections of the Gods! those perfections, I mean, of uninterrupted health, wisdom, invention, memory. Therefore the soul (which is, as I say, divine) is, as Euripides more boldly expresses it, a God. And thus, if the divinity be air or fire, the soul of man is the same; for as that celestial nature has nothing earthly or humid about it, in like manner the soul of man is also free from both these qualities: but if it is of that fifth kind of nature, first introduced by Aristotle, then both Gods and souls are of the same.

XXVII. As this is my opinion, I have explained it in these very words, in my book on Consolation.19 The origin of the soul of man is not to be found upon earth, for there is nothing in the soul of a mixed or concrete nature, or that has any appearance of being formed or made out of the earth; nothing even humid, or airy, or fiery. For what is there in natures of that kind which has the power of memory, understanding, or thought? which can recollect the past, foresee the future, and comprehend the present? for these capabilities are confined to divine beings; nor can we discover any source from which men could derive them, but from God. There is therefore a peculiar 38nature and power in the soul, distinct from those natures which are more known and familiar to us. Whatever, then, that is which thinks, and which has understanding, and volition, and a principle of life, is heavenly and divine, and on that account must necessarily be eternal; nor can God himself, who is known to us, be conceived to be anything else except a soul free and unembarrassed, distinct from all mortal concretion, acquainted with everything, and giving motion to everything, and itself endued with perpetual motion.

XXVIII. Of this kind and nature is the intellect of man. Where, then, is this intellect seated, and of what character is it? where is your own, and what is its character? Are you able to tell? If I have not faculties for knowing all that I could desire to know, will you not even allow me to make use of those which I have? The soul has not sufficient capacity to comprehend itself; yet, the soul, like the eye, though it has no distinct view of itself, sees other things: it does not see (which is of least consequence) its own shape; perhaps not, though it possibly may; but we will pass that by: but it certainly sees that it has vigor, sagacity, memory, motion, and velocity; these are all great, divine, eternal properties. What its appearance is, or where it dwells, it is not necessary even to inquire. As when we behold, first of all, the beauty and brilliant appearance of the heavens; secondly, the vast velocity of its revolutions, beyond power of our imagination to conceive; then the vicissitudes of nights and days, the fourfold division of the seasons, so well adapted to the ripening of the fruits of the earth, and the temperature of our bodies: and after that we look up to the sun, the moderator and governor of all these things; and view the moon, by the increase and decrease of its light, marking, as it were, and appointing our holy days; and see the five planets, borne on in the same circle, divided into twelve parts, preserving the same course with the greatest regularity, but with utterly dissimilar motions among themselves; and the nightly appearance of the heaven, adorned on all sides with stars; then, the globe of the earth, raised above the sea, and placed in the centre of the universe, inhabited and cultivated in its two opposite extremities, one of which, the 39place of our habitation, is situated towards the north pole, under the seven stars:

Where the cold northern blasts, with horrid sound,

Harden to ice the snowy cover’d ground;

the other, towards the south pole, is unknown to us, but is called by the Greeks ἀντίχθονα: the other parts are uncultivated, because they are either frozen with cold, or burned up with heat; but where we dwell, it never fails, in its season,

To yield a placid sky, to bid the trees

Assume the lively verdure of their leaves:

The vine to bud, and, joyful, in its shoots,

Foretell the approaching vintage of its fruits:

The ripen’d corn to sing, while all around

Full riv’lets glide; and flowers deck the ground:

then the multitude of cattle, fit part for food, part for tilling the ground, others for carrying us, or for clothing us; and man himself, made, as it were, on purpose to contemplate the heavens and the Gods, and to pay adoration to them: lastly, the whole earth, and wide extending seas, given to man’s use. When we view these and numberless other things, can we doubt that they have some being who presides over them, or has made them (if, indeed, they have been made, as is the opinion of Plato, or if, as Aristotle thinks, they are eternal), or who at all events is the regulator of so immense a fabric and so great a blessing to men? Thus, though you see not the soul of man, as you see not the Deity, yet, as by the contemplation of his works you are led to acknowledge a God, so you must own the divine power of the soul, from its remembering things, from its invention, from the quickness of its motion, and from all the beauty of virtue. Where, then, is it seated, you will say?

XXIX. In my opinion, it is seated in the head, and I can bring you reasons for my adopting that opinion. At present, let the soul reside where it will, you certainly have one in you. Should you ask what its nature is? It has one peculiarly its own; but admitting it to consist of fire, or air, it does not affect the present question. Only observe this, that as you are convinced there is a God, though 40you are ignorant where he resides, and what shape he is of; in like manner you ought to feel assured that you have a soul, though you cannot satisfy yourself of the place of its residence, nor its form. In our knowledge of the soul, unless we are grossly ignorant of natural philosophy, we cannot but be satisfied that it has nothing but what is simple, unmixed, uncompounded, and single; and if this is admitted, then it cannot be separated, nor divided, nor dispersed, nor parted, and therefore it cannot perish; for to perish implies a parting-asunder, a division, a disunion, of those parts which, while it subsisted, were held together by some band. And it was because he was influenced by these and similar reasons that Socrates neither looked out for anybody to plead for him when he was accused, nor begged any favor from his judges, but maintained a manly freedom, which was the effect not of pride, but of the true greatness of his soul; and on the last day of his life he held a long discourse on this subject; and a few days before, when he might have been easily freed from his confinement, he refused to be so; and when he had almost actually hold of that deadly cup, he spoke with the air of a man not forced to die, but ascending into heaven.

XXX. For so indeed he thought himself, and thus he spoke: “That there were two ways, and that the souls of men, at their departure from the body, took different roads; for those which were polluted with vices that are common to men, and which had given themselves up entirely to unclean desires, and had become so blinded by them as to have habituated themselves to all manner of debauchery and profligacy, or to have laid detestable schemes for the ruin of their country, took a road wide of that which led to the assembly of the Gods; but they who had preserved themselves upright and chaste, and free from the slightest contagion of the body, and had always kept themselves as far as possible at a distance from it, and while on earth had proposed to themselves as a model the life of the Gods, found the return to those beings from whom they had come an easy one.” Therefore, he argues, that all good and wise men should take example from the swans, who are considered sacred to Apollo, not without reason, but particularly because they seem to have received 41the gift of divination from him, by which, foreseeing how happy it is to die, they leave this world with singing and joy. Nor can any one doubt of this, unless it happens to us who think with care and anxiety about the soul (as is often the case with those who look earnestly at the setting sun), to lose the sight of it entirely; and so the mind’s eye, viewing itself, sometimes grows dull, and for that reason we become remiss in our contemplation. Thus our reasoning is borne about, harassed with doubts and anxieties, not knowing how to proceed, but measuring back again those dangerous tracts which it has passed, like a boat tossed about on the boundless ocean. But these reflections are of long standing, and borrowed from the Greeks. But Cato left this world in such a manner as if he were delighted that he had found an opportunity of dying; for that God who presides in us forbids our departure hence without his leave. But when God himself has given us a just cause, as formerly he did to Socrates, and lately to Cato, and often to many others—in such a case, certainly every man of sense would gladly exchange this darkness for that light: not that he would forcibly break from the chains that held him, for that would be against the law; but, like a man released from prison by a magistrate or some lawful authority, so he too would walk away, being released and discharged by God. For the whole life of a philosopher is, as the same philosopher says, a meditation on death.

XXXI. For what else is it that we do, when we call off our minds from pleasure, that is to say, from our attention to the body, from the managing our domestic estate, which is a sort of handmaid and servant of the body, or from duties of a public nature, or from all other serious business whatever? What else is it, I say, that we do, but invite the soul to reflect on itself? oblige it to converse with itself, and, as far as possible, break off its acquaintance with the body? Now, to separate the soul from the body, is to learn to die, and nothing else whatever. Wherefore take my advice; and let us meditate on this, and separate ourselves as far as possible from the body, that is to say, let us accustom ourselves to die. This will be enjoying a life like that of heaven even while we remain on earth; and 42when we are carried thither and released from these bonds, our souls will make their progress with more rapidity; for the spirit which has always been fettered by the bonds of the body, even when it is disengaged, advances more slowly, just as those do who have worn actual fetters for many years: but when we have arrived at this emancipation from the bonds of the body, then indeed we shall begin to live, for this present life is really death, which I could say a good deal in lamentation for if I chose.

A. You have lamented it sufficiently in your book on Consolation; and when I read that, there is nothing which I desire more than to leave these things; but that desire is increased a great deal by what I have just heard.

M. The time will come, and that soon, and with equal certainty, whether you hang back or press forward; for time flies. But death is so far from being an evil, as it lately appeared to you, that I am inclined to suspect, not that there is no other thing which is an evil to man, but rather that there is nothing else which is a real good to him; if, at least, it is true that we become thereby either Gods ourselves, or companions of the Gods. However, this is not of so much consequence, as there are some of us here who will not allow this. But I will not leave off discussing this point till I have convinced you that death can, upon no consideration whatever, be an evil.

A. How can it, after what I now know?

M. Do you ask how it can? There are crowds of arguers who contradict this; and those not only Epicureans, whom I regard very little, but, somehow or other, almost every man of letters; and, above all, my favorite Dicæarchus is very strenuous in opposing the immortality of the soul: for he has written three books, which are entitled Lesbiacs, because the discourse was held at Mitylene, in which he seeks to prove that souls are mortal. The Stoics, on the other hand, allow us as long a time for enjoyment as the life of a raven; they allow the soul to exist a great while, but are against its eternity.

XXXII. Are you willing to hear then why, even allowing this, death cannot be an evil.

A. As you please; but no one shall drive me from my belief in mortality.

43M. I commend you, indeed, for that; though we should not be too confident in our belief of anything; for we are frequently disturbed by some subtle conclusion. We give way and change our opinions even in things that are more evident than this; for in this there certainly is some obscurity. Therefore, should anything of this kind happen, it is well to be on our guard.

A. You are right in that; but I will provide against any accident.

M. Have you any objection to our dismissing our friends the Stoics—those, I mean, who allow that the souls exist after they have left the body, but yet deny that they exist forever?

A. We certainly may dismiss the consideration of those men who admit that which is the most difficult point in the whole question, namely, that a soul can exist independently of the body, and yet refuse to grant that which is not only very easy to believe, but which is even the natural consequence of the concession which they have made—that if they can exist for a length of time; they most likely do so forever.

M. You take it right; that is the very thing. Shall we give, therefore, any credit to Pauæstius, when he dissents from his master, Plato? whom he everywhere calls divine, the wisest, the holiest of men, the Homer of philosophers, and whom he opposes in nothing except this single opinion of the soul’s immortality: for he maintains what nobody denies, that everything which has been generated will perish, and that even souls are generated, which he thinks appears from their resemblance to those of the men who begot them; for that likeness is as apparent in the turn of their minds as in their bodies. But he brings another reason—that there is nothing which is sensible of pain which is not also liable to disease; but whatever is liable to disease must be liable to death. The soul is sensible of pain, therefore it is liable to perish.

XXXIII. These arguments may be refuted; for they proceed from his not knowing that, while discussing the subject of the immortality of the soul, he is speaking of the intellect, which is free from all turbid motion; but not of those parts of the mind in which those disorders, 44anger and lust, have their seat, and which he whom he is opposing, when he argues thus, imagines to be distinct and separate from the mind. Now this resemblance is more remarkable in beasts, whose souls are void of reason. But the likeness in men consists more in the configuration of the bodies: and it is of no little consequence in what bodies the soul is lodged; for there are many things which depend on the body that give an edge to the soul, many which blunt it. Aristotle, indeed, says that all men of great genius are melancholy; so that I should not have been displeased to have been somewhat duller than I am. He instances many, and, as if it were matter of fact, brings his reasons for it. But if the power of those things that proceed from the body be so great as to influence the mind (for they are the things, whatever they are, that occasion this likeness), still that does not necessarily prove why a similitude of souls should be generated. I say nothing about cases of unlikeness. I wish Panætius could be here: he lived with Africanus. I would inquire of him which of his family the nephew of Africanus’s brother was like? Possibly he may in person have resembled his father; but in his manners he was so like every profligate, abandoned man, that it was impossible to be more so. Whom did the grandson of P. Crassus, that wise and eloquent and most distinguished man, resemble? Or the relations and sons of many other excellent men, whose names there is no occasion to mention? But what are we doing? Have we forgotten that our purpose was, when we had sufficiently spoken on the subject of the immortality of the soul, to prove that, even if the soul did perish, there would be, even then, no evil in death?

A. I remembered it very well; but I had no dislike to your digressing a little from your original design, while you were talking of the soul’s immortality.

M. I perceive you have sublime thoughts, and are eager to mount up to heaven.

XXXIV. I am not without hopes myself that such may be our fate. But admit what they assert—that the soul does not continue to exist after death.

A. Should it be so, I see that we are then deprived of the hopes of a happier life.

45M. But what is there of evil in that opinion? For let the soul perish as the body: is there any pain, or indeed any feeling at all, in the body after death? No one, indeed asserts that; though Epicurus charges Democritus with saying so; but the disciples of Democritus deny it. No sense, therefore, remains in the soul; for the soul is nowhere. Where, then, is the evil? for there is nothing but these two things. Is it because the mere separation of the soul and body cannot be effected without pain? But even should that be granted, how small a pain must that be! Yet I think that it is false, and that it is very often unaccompanied by any sensation at all, and sometimes even attended with pleasure; but certainly the whole must be very trifling, whatever it is, for it is instantaneous. What makes us uneasy, or rather gives us pain, is the leaving all the good things of life. But just consider if I might not more properly say, leaving the evils of life; only there is no reason for my now occupying myself in bewailing the life of man, and yet I might, with very good reason. But what occasion is there, when what I am laboring to prove is that no one is miserable after death, to make life more miserable by lamenting over it? I have done that in the book which I wrote, in order to comfort myself as well as I could. If, then, our inquiry is after truth, death withdraws us from evil, not from good. This subject is indeed so copiously handled by Hegesias, the Cyrenaic philosopher, that he is said to have been forbidden by Ptolemy from delivering his lectures in the schools, because some who heard him made away with themselves. There is, too, an epigram of Callimachus20 on Cleombrotus of Ambracia, who, without any misfortune having befallen him, as he says, threw himself from a wall into the sea, after he had read a book of Plato’s. The book I mentioned of that Hegesias is called Ἀποκαρτερτερῶν, or “A Man who 46starves himself,” in which a man is represented as killing himself by starvation, till he is prevented by his friends, in reply to whom he reckons up all the miseries of human life. I might do the same, though not so fully as he, who thinks it not worth any man’s while to live. I pass over others. Was it even worth my while to live, for, had I died before I was deprived of the comforts of my own family, and of the honors which I received for my public services, would not death have taken me from the evils of life rather than from its blessings?

XXXV. Mention, therefore, some one, who never knew distress; who never received any blow from fortune. The great Metellus had four distinguished sons; but Priam had fifty, seventeen of whom were born to him by his lawful wife. Fortune had the same power over both, though she exercised it but on one; for Metellus was laid on his funeral pile by a great company of sons and daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters; but Priam fell by the hand of an enemy, after having fled to the altar, and having seen himself deprived of all his numerous progeny. Had he died before the death of his sons and the ruin of his kingdom,

With all his mighty wealth elate,

Under rich canopies of state;

would he then have been taken from good or from evil? It would indeed, at that time, have appeared that he was being taken away from good; yet surely it would have turned out advantageous for him; nor should we have had these mournful verses,

Lo! these all perish’d in one flaming pile;

The foe old Priam did of life beguile,

And with his blood, thy altar, Jove, defile.

As if anything better could have happened to him at that time than to lose his life in that manner; but yet, if it had befallen him sooner, it would have prevented all those consequences; but even as it was, it released him from any further sense of them. The case of our friend Pompey21 47was something better: once, when he had been very ill at Naples, the Neapolitans, on his recovery, put crowns on their heads, as did those of Puteoli; the people flocked from the country to congratulate him—it is a Grecian custom, and a foolish one; still it is a sign of good fortune. But the question is, had he died, would he have been taken from good, or from evil? Certainly from evil. He would not have been engaged in a war with his father-in-law;22 he would not have taken up arms before he was prepared; he would not have left his own house, nor fled from Italy; he would not, after the loss of his army, have fallen unarmed into the hands of slaves, and been put to death by them; his children would not have been destroyed; nor would his whole fortune have come into the possession of the conquerors. Did not he, then, who, if he had died at that time, would have died in all his glory, owe all the great and terrible misfortunes into which he subsequently fell to the prolongation of his life at that time?

XXXVI. These calamities are avoided by death, for even though they should never happen, there is a possibility that they may; but it never occurs to a man that such a disaster may befall him himself. Every one hopes to be as happy as Metellus: as if the number of the happy exceeded that of the miserable; or as if there were any certainty in human affairs; or, again, as if there were more rational foundation for hope than fear. But should we grant them even this, that men are by death deprived of good things; would it follow that the dead are therefore in need of the good things of life, and are miserable on that account? Certainly they must necessarily say so. Can he who does not exist be in need of anything? To be in need of has a melancholy sound, because it in effect amounts to this—he had, but he has not; he regrets, he looks back upon, he wants. Such are, I suppose, the distresses 48of one who is in need of. Is he deprived of eyes? to be blind is misery. Is he destitute of children? not to have them is misery. These considerations apply to the living, but the dead are neither in need of the blessings of life, nor of life itself. But when I am speaking of the dead, I am speaking of those who have no existence. But would any one say of us, who do exist, that we want horns or wings? Certainly not. Should it be asked, why not? the answer would be, that not to have what neither custom nor nature has fitted you for would not imply a want of them, even though you were sensible that you had them not. This argument should be pressed over and over again, after that point has once been established, which, if souls are mortal, there can be no dispute about—I mean, that the destruction of them by death is so entire as to remove even the least suspicion of any sense remaining. When, therefore, this point is once well grounded and established, we must correctly define what the term to want means; that there may be no mistake in the word. To want, then, signifies this: to be without that which you would be glad to have; for inclination for a thing is implied in the word want, excepting when we use the word in an entirely different sense, as we do when we say that a fever is wanting to any one. For it admits of a different interpretation, when you are without a certain thing, and are sensible that you are without it, but yet can easily dispense with having it. “To want,” then, is an expression which you cannot apply to the dead; nor is the mere fact of wanting something necessarily lamentable. The proper expression ought to be, “that they want a good,” and that is an evil.

But a living man does not want a good, unless he is distressed without it; and yet, we can easily understand how any man alive can be without a kingdom. But this cannot be predicated of you with any accuracy: it might have been asserted of Tarquin, when he was driven from his kingdom. But when such an expression is used respecting the dead, it is absolutely unintelligible. For to want implies to be sensible; but the dead are insensible: therefore, the dead can be in no want.

XXXVII. But what occasion is there to philosophize 49here in a matter with which we see that philosophy is but little concerned? How often have not only our generals but whole armies, rushed on certain death! But if it had been a thing to be feared, L. Brutus would never have fallen in fight, to prevent the return of that tyrant whom he had expelled; nor would Decius the father have been slain in fighting with the Latins; nor would his son, when engaged with the Etruscans, nor his grandson with Pyrrhus have exposed themselves to the enemy’s darts. Spain would never have seen, in one campaign, the Scipios fall fighting for their country; nor would the plains of Cannæ have witnessed the death of Paulus and Geminus, or Venusia that of Marcellus; nor would the Latins have beheld the death of Albinus, nor the Leucanians that of Gracchus. But are any of these miserable now? Nay, they were not so even at the first moment after they had breathed their last; nor can any one be miserable after he has lost all sensation. Oh, but the mere circumstance of being without sensation is miserable. It might be so if being without sensation were the same thing as wanting it; but as it is evident there can be nothing of any kind in that which has no existence, what can there be afflicting to that which can neither feel want nor be sensible of anything? We might be said to have repeated this over too often, only that here lies all that the soul shudders at from the fear of death. For whoever can clearly apprehend that which is as manifest as the light—that when both soul and body are consumed, and there is a total destruction, then that which was an animal becomes nothing—will clearly see that there is no difference between a Hippocentaur, which never had existence, and King Agamemnon, and that M. Camillus is no more concerned about this present civil war than I was at the sacking of Rome, when he was living.

XXXVIII. Why, then, should Camillus be affected with the thoughts of these things happening three hundred and fifty years after his time? And why should I be uneasy it I were to expect that some nation might possess itself of this city ten thousand years hence? Because so great is our regard for our country, as not to be measured by our own feeling, but by its own actual safety.

50Death, then, which threatens us daily from a thousand accidents, and which, by reason of the shortness of life, can never be far off, does not deter a wise man from making such provision for his country and his family as he hopes may last forever; and from regarding posterity, of which he can never have any real perception, as belonging to himself. Wherefore a man may act for eternity, even though he be persuaded that his soul is mortal; not, indeed, from a desire of glory, which he will be insensible of, but from a principle of virtue, which glory will inevitably attend, though that is not his object. The process, indeed, of nature is this: that just in the same manner as our birth was the beginning of things with us, so death will be the end; and as we were noways concerned with anything before we were born, so neither shall we be after we are dead. And in this state of things where can the evil be, since death has no connection with either the living or the dead? The one have no existence at all, the other are not yet affected by it. They who make the least of death consider it as having a great resemblance to sleep; as if any one would choose to live ninety years on condition that, at the expiration of sixty, he should sleep out the remainder. The very swine would not accept of life on those terms, much less I. Endymion, indeed, if you listen to fables, slept once on a time on Latmus, a mountain of Caria, and for such a length of time that I imagine he is not as yet awake. Do you think that he is concerned at the Moon’s being in difficulties, though it was by her that he was thrown into that sleep, in order that she might kiss him while sleeping. For what should he be concerned for who has not even any sensation? You look on sleep as an image of death, and you take that on you daily; and have you, then, any doubt that there is no sensation in death, when you see there is none in sleep, which is its near resemblance?

XXXIX. Away, then, with those follies, which are little better than the old women’s dreams, such as that it is miserable to die before our time. What time do you mean? That of nature? But she has only lent you life, as she might lend you money, without fixing any certain time for its repayment. Have you any grounds of complaint, 51then, that she recalls it at her pleasure? for you received it on these terms. They that complain thus allow that if a young child dies, the survivors ought to bear his loss with equanimity; that if an infant in the cradle dies, they ought not even to utter a complaint; and yet nature has been more severe with them in demanding back what she gave. They answer by saying that such have not tasted the sweets of life; while the other had begun to conceive hopes of great happiness, and, indeed, had begun to realize them. Men judge better in other things, and allow a part to be preferable to none. Why do they not admit the same estimate in life? Though Callimachus does not speak amiss in saying that more tears had flowed from Priam than his son; yet they are thought happier who die after they have reached old age. It would be hard to say why; for I do not apprehend that any one, if a longer life were granted to him, would find it happier. There is nothing more agreeable to a man than prudence, which old age most certainly bestows on a man, though it may strip him of everything else. But what age is long, or what is there at all long to a man? Does not

Old age, though unregarded, still attend

On childhood’s pastimes, as the cares of men?

But because there is nothing beyond old age, we call that long: all these things are said to be long or short, according to the proportion of time they were given us for. Artistotle saith there is a kind of insect near the river Hypanis, which runs from a certain part of Europe into the Pontus, whose life consists but of one day; those that die at the eighth hour die in full age; those who die when the sun sets are very old, especially when the days are at the longest. Compare our longest life with eternity, and we shall be found almost as short-lived as those little animals.

XL. Let us, then, despise all these follies—for what softer name can I give to such levities?—and let us lay the foundation of our happiness in the strength and greatness of our minds, in a contempt and disregard of all earthly things, and in the practice of every virtue. For at present we are enervated by the softness of our imaginations, 52so that, should we leave this world before the promises of our fortune-tellers are made good to us, we should think ourselves deprived of some great advantages, and seem disappointed and forlorn. But if, through life, we are in continual suspense, still expecting, still desiring, and are in continual pain and torture, good Gods! how pleasant must that journey be which ends in security and ease! How pleased am I with Theramenes! Of how exalted a soul does he appear! For, although we never read of him without tears, yet that illustrious man is not to be lamented in his death, who, when he had been imprisoned by the command of the thirty tyrants, drank off, at one draught, as if he had been thirsty, the poisoned cup, and threw the remainder out of it with such force that it sounded as it fell; and then, on hearing the sound of the drops, he said, with a smile, “I drink this to the most excellent Critias,” who had been his most bitter enemy; for it is customary among the Greeks, at their banquets, to name the person to whom they intend to deliver the cup. This celebrated man was pleasant to the last, even when he had received the poison into his bowels, and truly foretold the death of that man whom he named when he drank the poison, and that death soon followed. Who that thinks death an evil could approve of the evenness of temper in this great man at the instant of dying? Socrates came, a few years after, to the same prison and the same cup by as great iniquity on the part of his judges as the tyrants displayed when they executed Theramenes. What a speech is that which Plato makes him deliver before his judges, after they had condemned him to death!

XLI. “I am not without hopes, O judges, that it is a favorable circumstance for me that I am condemned to die; for one of these two things must necessarily happen—either that death will deprive me entirely of all sense, or else that, by dying, I shall go from hence into some other place; wherefore, if all sense is utterly extinguished, and if death is like that sleep which sometimes is so undisturbed as to be even without the visions of dreams—in that case, O ye good Gods! what gain is it to die? or what length of days can be imagined which would be preferable to such a night? And if the constant course of future time 53is to resemble that night, who is happier than I am? But if on the other hand, what is said be true, namely, that death is but a removal to those regions where the souls of the departed dwell, then that state must be more happy still to have escaped from those who call themselves judges, and to appear before such as are truly so—Minos, Rhadamanthus, Æacus, Triptolemus—and to meet with those who have lived with justice and probity!23 Can this change of abode appear otherwise than great to you? What bounds can you set to the value of conversing with Orpheus, and Musæus, and Homer, and Hesiod? I would even, were it possible, willingly die often, in order to prove the certainty of what I speak of. What delight must it be to meet with Palamedes, and Ajax, and others, who have been betrayed by the iniquity of their judges! Then, also, should I experience the wisdom of even that king of kings, who led his vast troops to Troy, and the prudence of Ulysses and Sisyphus: nor should I then be condemned for prosecuting my inquiries on such subjects in the same way in which I have done here on earth. And even you, my judges, you, I mean, who have voted for my acquittal, do not you fear death, for nothing bad can befall a good man, whether he be alive or dead; nor are his concerns ever overlooked by the Gods; nor in my case either has this befallen me by chance; and I have nothing to charge those men with who accused or condemned me but the fact that they believed that they were doing me harm.” In this manner he proceeded. There is no part of his speech which I admire more than his last words: “But it is time,” says he, “for me now to go hence, that I may die; and for you, that you may continue to live. Which condition of the two is the best, the immortal Gods know; but I do not believe that any mortal man does.”

54XLII. Surely I would rather have had this man’s soul than all the fortunes of those who sat in judgment on him; although that very thing which he says no one except the Gods know, namely, whether life or death is most preferable, he knows himself, for he had previously stated his opinion on it; but he maintained to the last that favorite maxim of his, of affirming nothing. And let us, too, adhere to this rule of not thinking anything an evil which is a general provision of nature; and let us assure ourselves, that if death is an evil, it is an eternal evil, for death seems to be the end of a miserable life; but if death is a misery, there can be no end of that. But why do I mention Socrates, or Theramenes, men distinguished by the glory of virtue and wisdom? when a certain Lacedæmomian, whose name is not so much as known, held death in such contempt, that, when led to it by the ephori, he bore a cheerful and pleasant countenance; and, when he was asked by one of his enemies whether he despised the laws of Lycurgus, “On the contrary,” answered he, “I am greatly obliged to him, for he has amerced me in a fine which I can pay without borrowing, or taking up money at interest.” This was a man worthy of Sparta. And I am almost persuaded of his innocence because of the greatness of his soul. Our own city has produced many such. But why should I name generals, and other men of high rank, when Cato could write that legions have marched with alacrity to that place from whence they never expected to return? With no less greatness of soul fell the Lacedæmonians at Thermopylæ, on whom Simonides wrote the following epitaph:

Go, stranger, tell the Spartans, here we lie,

Who to support their laws durst boldly die.24

What was it that Leonidas, their general, said to them? “March on with courage, my Lacedæmonians. To-night, perhaps, we shall sup in the regions below.” This was a brave nation while the laws of Lycurgus were in force. One of them, when a Persian had said to him in conversation, 55“We shall hide the sun from your sight by the number of our arrows and darts,” replied, “We shall fight, then in the shade.” Do I talk of their men? How great was that Lacedæmonian woman, who had sent her son to battle, and when she heard that he was slain, said, “I bore him for that purpose, that you might have a man who durst die for his country!” However, it is a matter of notoriety that the Spartans were bold and hardy, for the discipline of a republic has great influence.

XLIII. What, then, have we not reason to admire Theodorus the Cyrenean, a philosopher of no small distinction, who, when Lysimachus threatened to crucify him, bade him keep those menaces for his courtiers? “To Theodorus it makes no difference whether he rot in the air or underground.” By which saying of the philosopher I am reminded to say something of the custom of funerals and sepulture, and of funeral ceremonies, which is, indeed, not a difficult subject, especially if we recollect what has been before said about insensibility. The opinion of Socrates respecting this matter is clearly stated in the book which treats of his death, of which we have already said so much; for when he had discussed the immortality of the soul, and when the time of his dying was approaching rapidly, being asked by Criton how he would be buried, “I have taken a great deal of pains,” saith he, “my friends, to no purpose, for I have not convinced our Criton that I shall fly from hence, and leave no part of me behind. Notwithstanding, Criton, if you can overtake me, wheresoever you get hold of me, bury me as you please: but believe me, none of you will be able to catch me when I have flown away from hence.” That was excellently said, inasmuch as he allows his friend to do as he pleased, and yet shows his indifference about anything of this kind. Diogenes was rougher, though of the same opinion; but in his character of a Cynic he expressed himself in a somewhat harsher manner; he ordered himself to be thrown anywhere without being buried. And when his friends replied, “What! to the birds and beasts?” “By no means,” saith he; “place my staff near me, that I may drive them away.” “How can you do that,” they answer, “for you will not perceive them?” “How am I then 56injured by being torn by those animals, if I have no sensation?” Anaxagoras, when he was at the point of death at Lampsacus, and was asked by his friends, whether, if anything should happen to him, he would not choose to be carried to Clazomenæ, his country, made this excellent answer, “There is,” says he, “no occasion for that, for all places are at an equal distance from the infernal regions.” There is one thing to be observed with respect to the whole subject of burial, that it relates to the body, whether the soul live or die. Now, with regard to the body, it is clear that, whether the soul live or die, that has no sensation.

XLIV. But all things are full of errors. Achilles drags Hector, tied to his chariot; he thinks, I suppose, he tears his flesh, and that Hector feels the pain of it; therefore, he avenges himself on him, as he imagines. But Hecuba bewails this as a sore misfortune:

I saw (a dreadful sight) great Hector slain,

Dragg’d at Achilles’ car along the plain.

What Hector? or how long will he be Hector? Accius is better in this, and Achilles, too, is sometimes reasonable:

I Hector’s body to his sire convey’d,

Hector I sent to the infernal shade.

It was not Hector that you dragged along, but a body that had been Hector’s. Here another starts from underground, and will not suffer his mother to sleep:

To thee I call, my once-loved parent, hear,

Nor longer with thy sleep relieve thy care;

Thine eye which pities not is closed—arise;

Ling’ring I wait the unpaid obsequies.

When these verses are sung with a slow and melancholy tune, so as to affect the whole theatre with sadness, one can scarce help thinking those unhappy that are unburied:

Ere the devouring dogs and hungry vultures...

He is afraid he shall not have the use of his limbs so well if they are torn to pieces, but is under no such apprehensions if they are burned:


Nor leave my naked bones, my poor remains,

To shameful violence and bloody stains.

I do not understand what he could fear who could pour forth such excellent verses to the sound of the flute. We must, therefore, adhere to this, that nothing is to be regarded after we are dead, though many people revenge themselves on their dead enemies. Thyestes pours forth several curses in some good lines of Ennius, praying, first of all, that Atreus may perish by a shipwreck, which is certainly a very terrible thing, for such a death is not free from very grievous sensations. Then follow these unmeaning expressions:


On the sharp rock his mangled carcass lie,

His entrails torn, to hungry birds a prey!

May he convulsive writhe his bleeding side,

And with his clotted gore the stones be dyed!

The rocks themselves were not more destitute of feeling than he who was hanging to them by his side; though Thyestes imagines he is wishing him the greatest torture. It would be torture, indeed, if he were sensible; but as he is not, it can be none; then how very unmeaning is this:

Let him, still hovering o’er the Stygian wave,

Ne’er reach the body’s peaceful port, the grave!

You see under what mistaken notions all this is said. He imagines the body has its haven, and that the dead are at rest in their graves. Pelops was greatly to blame in not having informed and taught his son what regard was due to everything.

XLV. But what occasion is there to animadvert on the opinions of individuals, when we may observe whole nations to fall into all sorts of errors? The Egyptians embalm their dead, and keep them in their houses; the Persians dress them over with wax, and then bury them, that they may preserve their bodies as long as possible. It is customary with the Magi to bury none of their order, unless they have been first torn by wild beasts. In Hyrcania, the people maintain dogs for the public use; the nobles have their own—and we know that they have a good breed of dogs; but every one, according to his ability, 58provides himself with some, in order to be torn by them; and they hold that to be the best kind of interment. Chrysippus, who is curious in all kinds of historical facts, has collected many other things of this kind; but some of them are so offensive as not to admit of being related. All that has been said of burying is not worth our regard with respect to ourselves, though it is not to be neglected as to our friends, provided we are thoroughly aware that the dead are insensible. But the living, indeed, should consider what is due to custom and opinion; only they should at the same time consider that the dead are noways interested in it. But death truly is then met with the greatest tranquillity when the dying man can comfort himself with his own praise. No one dies too soon who has finished the course of perfect virtue. I myself have known many occasions when I have seemed in danger of immediate death; oh! how I wish it had come to me! for I have gained nothing by the delay. I had gone over and over again the duties of life; nothing remained but to contend with fortune. If reason, then, cannot sufficiently fortify us to enable us to feel a contempt for death, at all events let our past life prove that we have lived long enough, and even longer than was necessary; for notwithstanding the deprivation of sense, the dead are not without that good which peculiarly belongs to them, namely, the praise and glory which they have acquired, even though they are not sensible of it. For although there be nothing in glory to make it desirable, yet it follows virtue as its shadow; and the genuine judgment of the multitude on good men, if ever they form any, is more to their own praise than of any real advantage to the dead. Yet I cannot say, however it may be received, that Lycurgus and Solon have no glory from their laws, and from the political constitution which they established in their country; or that Themistocles and Epaminondas have not glory from their martial virtue.

XLVI. For Neptune shall sooner bury Salamis itself with his waters than the memory of the trophies gained there; and the Bœotian Leuctra shall perish sooner than the glory of that great battle. And longer still shall fame be before it deserts Curius, and Fabricius, and Calatinus, 59and the two Scipios, and the two Africani, and Maximus, and Marcellus, and Paulus, and Cato, and Lælius, and numberless other heroes; and whoever has caught any resemblance of them, not estimating it by common fame, but by the real applause of good men, may with confidence, when the occasion requires, approach death, on which we are sure that even if the chief good is not continued, at least no evil is. Such a man would even wish to die while in prosperity; for all the favors that could be heaped on him would not be so agreeable to him as the loss of them would be painful. That speech of the Lacedæmonian seems to have the same meaning, who, when Diagoras the Rhodian, who had himself been a conqueror at the Olympic games, saw two of his own sons conquerors there on the same day, approached the old man, and, congratulating him, said, “You should die now, Diagoras, for no greater happiness can possibly await you.” The Greeks look on these as great things; perhaps they think too highly of them, or, rather, they did so then. And so he who said this to Diagoras, looking on it as something very glorious, that three men out of one family should have been conquerors there, thought it could answer no purpose to him to continue any longer in life, where he could only be exposed to a reverse of fortune.

I might have given you a sufficient answer, as it seems to me, on this point, in a few words, as you had allowed the dead were not exposed to any positive evil; but I have spoken at greater length on the subject for this reason, because this is our greatest consolation in the losing and bewailing of our friends. For we ought to bear with moderation any grief which arises from ourselves, or is endured on our own account, lest we should seem to be too much influenced by self-love. But should we suspect our departed friends to be under those evils, which they are generally imagined to be, and to be sensible of them, then such a suspicion would give us intolerable pain; and accordingly I wished, for my own sake, to pluck up this opinion by the roots, and on that account I have been perhaps somewhat more prolix than was necessary.

XLVII. A. More prolix than was necessary? Certainty not, in my opinion. For I was induced, by the former 60part of your speech, to wish to die; but, by the latter, sometimes not to be unwilling, and at others to be wholly indifferent about it. But the effect of your whole argument is, that I am convinced that death ought not to be classed among the evils.

M. Do you, then, expect that I am to give you a regular peroration, like the rhetoricians, or shall I forego that art?

A. I would not have you give over an art which you have set off to such advantage; and you were in the right to do so, for, to speak the truth, it also has set you off. But what is that peroration? For I should be glad to hear it, whatever it is.

M. It is customary, in the schools, to produce the opinions of the immortal Gods on death; nor are these opinions the fruits of the imagination alone of the lecturers, but they have the authority of Herodotus and many others. Cleobis and Biton are the first they mention, sons of the Argive priestess; the story is a well-known one. As it was necessary that she should be drawn in a chariot to a certain annual sacrifice, which was solemnized at a temple some considerable distance from the town, and the cattle that were to draw the chariot had not arrived, those two young men whom I have just mentioned, pulling off their garments, and anointing their bodies with oil, harnessed themselves to the yoke. And in this manner the priestess was conveyed to the temple; and when the chariot had arrived at the proper place, she is said to have entreated the Goddess to bestow on them, as a reward for their piety, the greatest gift that a God could confer on man. And the young men, after having feasted with their mother, fell asleep; and in the morning they were found dead. Trophonius and Agamedes are said to have put up the same petition, for they, having built a temple to Apollo at Delphi, offered supplications to the God, and desired of him some extraordinary reward for their care and labor, particularizing nothing, but asking for whatever was best for men. Accordingly, Apollo signified to them that he would bestow it on them in three days, and on the third day at daybreak they were found dead. And so they say that this was a formal decision pronounced by that God to 61whom the rest of the deities have assigned the province of divining with an accuracy superior to that of all the rest.

XLVIII. There is also a story told of Silenus, who, when taken prisoner by Midas, is said to have made him this present for his ransom—namely, that he informed him25 that never to have been born was by far the greatest blessing that could happen to man; and that the next best thing was to die very soon; which very opinion Euripides makes use of in his Cresphontes, saying,

When man is born, ‘tis fit, with solemn show,

We speak our sense of his approaching woe;

With other gestures and a different eye,

Proclaim our pleasure when he’s bid to die.26

There is something like this in Crantor’s Consolation; for he says that Terinæsus of Elysia, when he was bitterly lamenting the loss of his son, came to a place of divination to be informed why he was visited with so great affliction, and received in his tablet these three verses:

Thou fool, to murmur at Euthynous’ death!

The blooming youth to fate resigns his breath:

The fate, whereon your happiness depends,

At once the parent and the son befriends.27

On these and similar authorities they affirm that the question has been determined by the Gods. Nay, more; Alcidamas, an ancient rhetorician of the very highest reputation, wrote even in praise of death, which he endeavored to establish by an enumeration of the evils of life; and his Dissertation has a great deal of eloquence in it; but 62he was unacquainted with the more refined arguments of the philosophers. By the orators, indeed, to die for our country is always considered not only as glorious, but even as happy: they go back as far as Erechtheus,28 whose very daughters underwent death, for the safety of their fellow-citizens: they instance Codrus, who threw himself into the midst of his enemies, dressed like a common man, that his royal robes might not betray him, because the oracle had declared the Athenians conquerors, if their king was slain. Menœceus29 is not overlooked by them, who, in compliance with the injunctions of an oracle, freely shed his blood for his country. Iphigenia ordered herself to be conveyed to Aulis, to be sacrificed, that her blood might be the cause of spilling that of her enemies.

XLIX. From hence they proceed to instances of a fresher date. Harmodius and Aristogiton are in everybody’s mouth; the memory of Leonidas the Lacedæmonian and Epaminondas the Theban is as fresh as ever. Those philosophers were not acquainted with the many instances in our country—to give a list of whom would take up too much time—who, we see, considered death desirable as long as it was accompanied with honor. But, notwithstanding this is the correct view of the case, we must use much persuasion, speak as if we were endued with some higher authority, in order to bring men to begin to wish to die, or cease to be afraid of death. For if that last day does not occasion an entire extinction, but a change of abode only, what can be more desirable? And if it, on the other hand, destroys, and absolutely puts an end to us, what can be preferable to the having a deep sleep fall on us, in the midst of the fatigues of life, and being thus overtaken, to sleep to eternity? And, should this really 63be the case, then Ennius’s language is more consistent with wisdom than Solon’s; for our Ennius says,

Let none bestow upon my passing bier

One needless sigh or unavailing tear.

But the wise Solon says,

Let me not unlamented die, but o’er my bier

Burst forth the tender sigh, the friendly tear.30

But let us, if indeed it should be our fate to know the time which is appointed by the Gods for us to die, prepare ourselves for it with a cheerful and grateful mind, thinking ourselves like men who are delivered from a jail, and released from their fetters, for the purpose of going back to our eternal habitation, which may be more emphatically called our own; or else to be divested of all sense and trouble. If, on the other hand, we should have no notice given us of this decree, yet let us cultivate such a disposition as to look on that formidable hour of death as happy for us, though shocking to our friends; and let us never imagine anything to be an evil which is an appointment of the immortal Gods, or of nature, the common parent of all. For it is not by hazard or without design that we have been born and situated as we have. On the contrary, beyond all doubt there is a certain power which consults the happiness of human nature; and this would neither have produced nor provided for a being which, after having gone through the labors of life, was to fall into eternal misery by death. Let us rather infer that we have a retreat and haven prepared for us, which I wish we could crowd all sail and arrive at; but though the winds should not serve, and we should be driven back, yet we shall to a certainty arrive at that point eventually, though somewhat later. But how can that be miserable for one which all must of necessity undergo? I have given you a peroration, that you might not think I had overlooked or neglected anything.

A. I am persuaded you have not; and, indeed, that peroration has confirmed me.

64M. I am glad it has had that effect. But it is now time to consult our health. To-morrow, and all the time we continue in this Tusculan villa, let us consider this subject; and especially those portions of it which may ease our pain, alleviate our fears, and lessen our desires, which is the greatest advantage we can reap from the whole of philosophy.



I. Neoptolemus, in Ennius, indeed, says that the study of philosophy was expedient for him; but that it required limiting to a few subjects, for that to give himself up entirely to it was what he did not approve of. And for my part, Brutus, I am perfectly persuaded that it is expedient for me to philosophize; for what can I do better, especially as I have no regular occupation? But I am not for limiting my philosophy to a few subjects, as he does; for philosophy is a matter in which it is difficult to acquire a little knowledge without acquainting yourself with many, or all its branches, nor can you well take a few subjects without selecting them out of a great number; nor can any one, who has acquired the knowledge of a few points, avoid endeavoring with the same eagerness to understand more. But still, in a busy life, and in one mainly occupied with military matters, such as that of Neoptolemus was at that time, even that limited degree of acquaintance with philosophy may be of great use, and may yield fruit, not perhaps so plentiful as a thorough knowledge of the whole of philosophy, but yet such as in some degree may at times deliver us from the dominion of our desires, our sorrows, and our fears; just as the effect of that discussion which we lately maintained in my Tusculan villa seemed to be that a great contempt of death was engendered, which contempt is of no small efficacy towards delivering the mind from fear; for whoever dreads what cannot be avoided can by no means live with a quiet and tranquil mind. But he who is under no 65fear of death, not only because it is a thing absolutely inevitable but also because he is persuaded that death itself hath nothing terrible in it, provides himself with a very great resource towards a happy life. However, I am not tolerant that many will argue strenuously against us; and, indeed, that is a thing which can never be avoided, except by abstaining from writing at all. For if my Orations, which were addressed to the judgment and approbation of the people (for that is a popular art, and the object of oratory is popular applause), have been criticised by some people who are inclined to withhold their praise from everything but what they are persuaded they can attain to themselves, and who limit their ideas of good speaking by the hopes which they conceive of what they themselves may attain to, and who declare, when they are overwhelmed with a flow of words and sentences, that they prefer the utmost poverty of thought and expression to that plenty and copiousness (from which arose the Attic kind of oratory, which they who professed it were strangers to, though they have now been some time silenced, and laughed out of the very courts of justice), what may I not expect, when at present I cannot have the least countenance from the people by whom I used to be upheld before? For philosophy is satisfied with a few judges, and of her own accord industriously avoids the multitude, who are jealous of it, and utterly displeased with it; so that, should any one undertake to cry down the whole of it, he would have the people on his side; while, if he should attack that school which I particularly profess, he would have great assistance from those of the other philosophers.

II. But I have answered the detractors of philosophy in general, in my Hortensius. And what I had to say in favor of the Academics, is, I think, explained with sufficient accuracy in my four books of the Academic Question.

But yet I am so far from desiring that no one should write against me, that it is what I most earnestly wish; for philosophy would never have been in such esteem in Greece itself, if it had not been for the strength which it acquired from the contentions and disputations of the 66most learned men; and therefore I recommend all men who have abilities to follow my advice to snatch this art also from declining Greece, and to transport it to this city; as our ancestors by their study and industry have imported all their other arts which were worth having. Thus the praise of oratory, raised from a low degree, is arrived at such perfection that it must now decline, and, as is the nature of all things, verge to its dissolution in a very short time. Let philosophy, then, derive its birth in Latin language from this time, and let us lend it our assistance, and bear patiently to be contradicted and refuted; and although those men may dislike such treatment who are bound and devoted to certain predetermined opinions, and are under such obligations to maintain them that they are forced, for the sake of consistency, to adhere to them even though they do not themselves wholly approve of them; we, on the other hand, who pursue only probabilities, and who cannot go beyond that which seems really likely, can confute others without obstinacy, and are prepared to be confuted ourselves without resentment. Besides, if these studies are ever brought home to us, we shall not want even Greek libraries, in which there is an infinite number of books, by reason of the multitude of authors among them; for it is a common practice with many to repeat the same things which have been written by others, which serves no purpose but to stuff their shelves; and this will be our case, too, if many apply themselves to this study.

III. But let us excite those, if possible, who have had a liberal education, and are masters of an elegant style, and who philosophize with reason and method.

For there is a certain class of them who would willingly be called philosophers, whose books in our language are said to be numerous, and which I do not despise; for, indeed, I never read them: but still, because the authors themselves declare that they write without any regularity, or method, or elegance, or ornament, I do not care to read what must be so void of entertainment. There is no one in the least acquainted with literature who does not know the style and sentiments of that school; wherefore, since they are at no pains to express themselves well, I 67do not see why they should be read by anybody except by one another. Let them read them, if they please, who are of the same opinions; for in the same manner as all men read Plato and the other Socratics, with those who sprung from them, even those who do not agree with their opinions, or are very indifferent about them; but scarcely any one except their own disciples take Epicurus or Metrodorus into their hands; so they alone read these Latin books who think that the arguments contained in them are sound. But, in my opinion, whatever is published should be recommended to the reading of every man of learning; and though we may not succeed in this ourselves, yet nevertheless we must be sensible that this ought to be the aim of every writer. And on this account I have always been pleased with the custom of the Peripatetics and Academics, of disputing on both sides of the question; not solely from its being the only method of discovering what is probable on every subject, but also because it affords the greatest scope for practising eloquence; a method that Aristotle first made use of, and afterward all the Aristotelians; and in our own memory Plilo, whom we have often heard, appointed one time to treat of the precepts of the rhetoricians, and another for philosophical discussion, to which custom I was brought to conform by my friends at my Tusculum; and accordingly our leisure time was spent in this manner. And therefore, as yesterday before noon we applied ourselves to speaking, and in the afternoon went down into the Academy, the discussions which were held there I have acquainted you with, not in the manner of a narration, but in almost the very same words which were employed in the debate.

IV. The discourse, then, was introduced in this manner while we were walking, and it was commenced by some such an opening as this:

A. It is not to be expressed how much I was delighted, or rather edified, by your discourse of yesterday. For although I am conscious to myself that I have never been too fond of life, yet at times, when I have considered that there would be an end to this life, and that I must some time or other part with all its good things, a certain dread 68and uneasiness used to intrude itself on my thoughts; but now, believe me, I am so freed from that kind of uneasiness that there is nothing that I think less worth any regard.

M. I am not at all surprised at that, for it is the effect of philosophy, which is the medicine of our souls; it banishes all groundless apprehensions, frees us from desires, and drives away fears: but it has not the same influence over all men; it is of very great influence when it falls in with a disposition well adapted to it. For not only does Fortune, as the old proverb says, assist the bold, but reason does so in a still greater degree; for it, by certain precepts, as it were, strengthens even courage itself. You were born naturally great and soaring, and with a contempt for all things which pertain to man alone; therefore a discourse against death took easy possession of a brave soul. But do you imagine that these same arguments have any force with those very persons who have invented, and canvassed, and published them, excepting indeed some very few particular persons? For how few philosophers will you meet with whose life and manners are conformable to the dictates of reason! who look on their profession, not as a means of displaying their learning, but as a rule for their own practice! who follow their own precepts, and comply with their own decrees! You may see some of such levity and such vanity, that it would have been better for them to have been ignorant; some covetous of money, some others eager for glory, many slaves to their lusts; so that their discourses and their actions are most strangely at variance; than which nothing in my opinion can be more unbecoming: for just as if one who professed to teach grammar should speak with impropriety, or a master of music sing out of tune, such conduct has the worst appearance in these men, because they blunder in the very particular with which they profess that they are well acquainted. So a philosopher who errs in the conduct of his life is the more infamous because he is erring in the very thing which he pretends to teach, and, while he lays down rules to regulate life by, is irregular in his own life.

V. A. Should this be the case, is it not to be feared that 69you are dressing up philosophy in false colors? For what stronger argument can there be that it is of little use than that some very profound philosophers live in a discreditable manner?

M. That, indeed, is no argument at all, for as all the fields which are cultivated are not fruitful (and this sentiment of Accius is false, and asserted without any foundation,

The ground you sow on is of small avail;

To yield a crop good seed can never fail),

it is not every mind which has been properly cultivated that produces fruit; and, to go on with the comparison, as a field, although it may be naturally fruitful, cannot produce a crop without dressing, so neither can the mind without education; such is the weakness of either without the other. Whereas philosophy is the culture of the mind: this it is which plucks up vices by the roots; prepares the mind for the receiving of seeds; commits them to it, or, as I may say, sows them, in the hope that, when come to maturity, they may produce a plentiful harvest. Let us proceed, then, as we began. Say, if you please, what shall be the subject of our disputation.

A. I look on pain to be the greatest of all evils.

M. What, even greater than infamy?

A. I dare not indeed assert that; and I blush to think I am so soon driven from my ground.

M. You would have had greater reason for blushing had you persevered in it; for what is so unbecoming—what can appear worse to you, than disgrace, wickedness, immorality? To avoid which, what pain is there which we ought not (I will not say to avoid shirking, but even) of our own accord to encounter, and undergo, and even to court?

A. I am entirely of that opinion; but, notwithstanding that pain is not the greatest evil, yet surely it is an evil.

M. Do you perceive, then, how much of the terror of pain you have given up on a small hint?

A. I see that plainly; but I should be glad to give up more of it.

M. I will endeavor to make you do so; but it is a great 70undertaking, and I must have a disposition on your part which is not inclined to offer any obstacles.

A. You shall have such: for as I behaved yesterday, so now I will follow reason wherever she leads.

VI. M. First, then, I will speak of the weakness of many philosophers, and those, too, of various sects; the head of whom, both in authority and antiquity, was Aristippus, the pupil of Socrates, who hesitated not to say that pain was the greatest of all evils. And after him Epicurus easily gave in to this effeminate and enervated doctrine. After him Hieronymus the Rhodian said, that to be without pain was the chief good, so great an evil did pain appear to him to be. The rest, with the exceptions of Zeno, Aristo, Pyrrho, were pretty much of the same opinion that you were of just now—that it was indeed an evil, but that there were many worse. When, then, nature herself, and a certain generous feeling of virtue, at once prevents you from persisting in the assertion that pain is the chief evil, and when you were driven from such an opinion when disgrace was contrasted with pain, shall philosophy, the preceptress of life, cling to this idea for so many ages? What duty of life, what praise, what reputation, would be of such consequence that a man should be desirous of gaining it at the expense of submitting to bodily pain, when he has persuaded himself that pain is the greatest evil? On the other side, what disgrace, what ignominy, would he not submit to that he might avoid pain, when persuaded that it was the greatest of evils? Besides, what person, if it be only true that pain is the greatest of evils, is not miserable, not only when he actually feels pain, but also whenever he is aware that it may befall him. And who is there whom pain may not befall? So that it is clear that there is absolutely no one who can possibly be happy. Metrodorus, indeed, thinks that man perfectly happy whose body is free from all disorders, and who has an assurance that it will always continue so; but who is there who can be assured of that?

VII. But Epicurus, indeed, says such things that it should seem that his design was only to make people laugh; for he affirms somewhere that if a wise man were to be burned or put to the torture—you expect, perhaps, 71that he is going to say he would bear it, he would support himself under it with resolution, he would not yield to it (and that by Hercules! would be very commendable, and worthy of that very Hercules whom I have just invoked): but even this will not satisfy Epicurus, that robust and hardy man! No; his wise man, even if he were in Phalaris’s bull, would say, How sweet it is! how little do I regard it! What, sweet? Is it not sufficient, if it is not disagreeable? But those very men who deny pain to be an evil are not in the habit of saying that it is agreeable to any one to be tormented; they rather say that it is cruel, or hard to bear, afflicting, unnatural, but still not an evil: while this man who says that it is the only evil, and the very worst of all evils, yet thinks that a wise man would pronounce it sweet. I do not require of you to speak of pain in the same words which Epicurus uses—a man, as you know, devoted to pleasure: he may make no difference, if he pleases, between Phalaris’s bull and his own bed; but I cannot allow the wise man to be so indifferent about pain. If he bears it with courage, it is sufficient: that he should rejoice in it, I do not expect; for pain is, beyond all question, sharp, bitter, against nature, hard to submit to and to bear. Observe Philoctetes: We may allow him to lament, for he saw Hercules himself groaning loudly through extremity of pain on Mount Œta. The arrows with which Hercules presented him were then no consolation to him, when

The viper’s bite, impregnating his veins

With poison, rack’d him with its bitter pains.

And therefore he cries out, desiring help, and wishing to die,

Oh that some friendly hand its aid would lend,

My body from this rock’s vast height to send

Into the briny deep! I’m all on fire,

And by this fatal wound must soon expire.

It is hard to say that the man who was obliged to cry out in this manner was not oppressed with evil, and great evil too.

VIII. But let us observe Hercules himself, who was subdued by pain at the very time when he was on the point 72of attaining immortality by death. What words does Sophocles here put in his mouth, in his Trachiniæ? who, when Deianira had put upon him a tunic dyed in the centaur’s blood, and it stuck to his entrails, says,

What tortures I endure no words can tell,

Far greater these, than those which erst befell

From the dire terror of thy consort, Jove—

E’en stern Eurystheus’ dire command above;

This of thy daughter, Œneus, is the fruit,

Beguiling me with her envenom’d suit,

Whose close embrace doth on my entrails prey,

Consuming life; my lungs forbid to play;

The blood forsakes my veins; my manly heart

Forgets to beat; enervated, each part

Neglects its office, while my fatal doom

Proceeds ignobly from the weaver’s loom.

The hand of foe ne’er hurt me, nor the fierce

Giant issuing from his parent earth.

Ne’er could the Centaur such a blow enforce,

No barbarous foe, nor all the Grecian force;

This arm no savage people could withstand,

Whose realms I traversed to reform the land.

Thus, though I ever bore a manly heart,

I fall a victim to a woman’s art.


Assist, my son, if thou that name dost hear,

My groans preferring to thy mother’s tear:

Convey her here, if, in thy pious heart,

Thy mother shares not an unequal part:

Proceed, be bold, thy father’s fate bemoan,

Nations will join, you will not weep alone.

Oh, what a sight is this same briny source,

Unknown before, through all my labors’ course!

That virtue, which could brave each toil but late,

With woman’s weakness now bewails its fate.

Approach, my son; behold thy father laid,

A wither’d carcass that implores thy aid;

Let all behold: and thou, imperious Jove,

On me direct thy lightning from above:

Now all its force the poison doth assume,

And my burnt entrails with its flame consume.

Crestfallen, unembraced, I now let fall

Listless, those hands that lately conquer’d all;

When the Nemæan lion own’d their force,

And he indignant fell a breathless corse;

The serpent slew, of the Lernean lake,

As did the Hydra of its force partake:

By this, too, fell the Erymanthian boar:

73E’en Cerberus did his weak strength deplore.

This sinewy arm did overcome with ease

That dragon, guardian of the Golden Fleece.

My many conquests let some others trace;

It’s mine to say, I never knew disgrace.31

Can we then, despise pain, when we see Hercules himself giving vent to his expressions of agony with such impatience?

X. Let us see what Æschylus says, who was not only a poet but a Pythagorean philosopher also, for that is the account which you have received of him; how doth he make Prometheus bear the pain he suffered for the Lemnian theft, when he clandestinely stole away the celestial fire, and bestowed it on men, and was severely punished by Jupiter for the theft. Fastened to Mount Caucasus, he speaks thus:

Thou heav’n-born race of Titans here fast bound,

Behold thy brother! As the sailors sound

With care the bottom, and their ships confine

To some safe shore, with anchor and with line;

So, by Jove’s dread decree, the God of fire

Confines me here the victim of Jove’s ire.

With baneful art his dire machine he shapes;

From such a God what mortal e’er escapes?

When each third day shall triumph o’er the night,

Then doth the vulture, with his talons light,

Seize on my entrails; which, in rav’nous guise,

He preys on! then with wing extended flies

Aloft, and brushes with his plumes the gore:

But when dire Jove my liver doth restore,

Back he returns impetuous to his prey,

Clapping his wings, he cuts th’ ethereal way.

Thus do I nourish with my blood this pest,

Confined my arms, unable to contest;

Entreating only that in pity Jove

Would take my life, and this cursed plague remove.

But endless ages past unheard my moan,

Sooner shall drops dissolve this very stone.32

And therefore it scarcely seems possible to avoid calling a man who is suffering, miserable; and if he is miserable, then pain is an evil.

74XI. A. Hitherto you are on my side; I will see to that by-and-by; and, in the mean while, whence are those verses? I do not remember them.

M. I will inform you, for you are in the right to ask. Do you see that I have much leisure?

A. What, then?

M. I imagine, when you were at Athens, you attended frequently at the schools of the philosophers.

A. Yes, and with great pleasure.

M. You observed, then, that though none of them at that time were very eloquent, yet they used to mix verses with their harangues.

A. Yes, and particularly Dionysius the Stoic used to employ a great many.

M. You say right; but they were quoted without any appropriateness or elegance. But our friend Philo used to give a few select lines and well adapted; and in imitation of him, ever since I took a fancy to this kind of elderly declamation, I have been very fond of quoting our poets; and where I cannot be supplied from them, I translate from the Greek, that the Latin language may not want any kind of ornament in this kind of disputation.

But, do you not see how much harm is done by poets? They introduce the bravest men lamenting over their misfortunes: they soften our minds; and they are, besides, so entertaining, that we do not only read them, but get them by heart. Thus the influence of the poets is added to our want of discipline at home, and our tender and delicate manner of living, so that between them they have deprived virtue of all its vigor and energy. Plato, therefore, was right in banishing them from his commonwealth, where he required the best morals, and the best form of government. But we, who have all our learning from Greece, read and learn these works of theirs from our childhood; and look on this as a liberal and learned education.

XII. But why are we angry with the poets? We may find some philosophers, those masters of virtue, who have taught that pain was the greatest of evils. But you, young man, when you said but just now that it appeared so to you, upon being asked by me what appeared greater than infamy, gave up that opinion at a word. Suppose I ask 75Epicurus the same question. He will answer that a trifling degree of pain is a greater evil than the greatest infamy; for that there is no evil in infamy itself, unless attended with pain. What pain, then, attends Epicurus, when he says that very thing, that pain is the greatest evil! And yet nothing can be a greater disgrace to a philosopher than to talk thus. Therefore, you allowed enough when you admitted that infamy appeared to you to be a greater evil than pain. And if you abide by this admission, you will see how far pain should be resisted; and that our inquiry should be not so much whether pain be an evil, as how the mind may be fortified for resisting it. The Stoics infer from some petty quibbling arguments that it is no evil, as if the dispute were about a word, and not about the thing itself. Why do you impose upon me, Zeno? For when you deny what appears very dreadful to me to be an evil, I am deceived, and am at a loss to know why that which appears to me to be a most miserable thing should be no evil. The answer is, that nothing is an evil but what is base and vicious. You return to your trifling, for you do not remove what made me uneasy. I know that pain is not vice—you need not inform me of that: but show me that it makes no difference to me whether I am in pain or not. It has never anything to do, say you, with a happy life, for that depends upon virtue alone; but yet pain is to be avoided. If I ask, why? It is disagreeable, against nature, hard to bear, woful and afflicting.

XIII. Here are many words to express that by so many different forms which we call by the single word evil. You are defining pain, instead of removing it, when you say, it is disagreeable, unnatural, scarcely possible to be endured or borne, nor are you wrong in saying so: but the man who vaunts himself in such a manner should not give way in his conduct, if it be true that nothing is good but what is honest, and nothing evil but what is disgraceful. This would be wishing, not proving. This argument is a better one, and has more truth in it—that all things which Nature abhors are to be looked upon as evil; that those which she approves of are to be considered as good: for when this is admitted, and the dispute 76about words removed, that which they with reason embrace, and which we call honest, right, becoming, and sometimes include under the general name of virtue, appears so far superior to everything else that all other things which are looked upon as the gifts of fortune, or the good things of the body, seem trifling and insignificant; and no evil whatever, nor all the collective body of evils together, appears to be compared to the evil of infamy. Wherefore, if, as you granted in the beginning, infamy is worse than pain, pain is certainly nothing; for while it appears to you base and unmanly to groan, cry out, lament, or faint under pain; while you cherish notions of probity, dignity, honor, and, keeping your eye on them, refrain yourself, pain will certainly yield to virtue, and, by the influence of imagination, will lose its whole force.—For you must either admit that there is no such thing as virtue, or you must despise every kind of pain. Will you allow of such a virtue as prudence, without which no virtue whatever can even be conceived? What, then? Will that suffer you to labor and take pains to no purpose? Will temperance permit you to do anything to excess? Will it be possible for justice to be maintained by one who through the force of pain discovers secrets, or betrays his confederates, or deserts many duties of life? Will you act in a manner consistently with courage, and its attendants, greatness of soul, resolution, patience, and contempt for all worldly things? Can you hear yourself called a great man when you lie grovelling, dejected, and deploring your condition with a lamentable voice; no one would call you even a man while in such a condition. You must therefore either abandon all pretensions to courage, or else pain must be put out of the question.

XIV. You know very well that, even though part of your Corinthian furniture were gone, the remainder might be safe without that; but if you lose one virtue (though virtue in reality cannot be lost), still if, I say, you should acknowledge that you were deficient in one, you would be stripped of all. Can you, then, call yourself a brave man, of a great soul, endued with patience and steadiness above the frowns of fortune? or Philoctetes? for I choose to instance him, rather than yourself, for he certainly was not 77a brave man, who lay in his bed, which was watered with his tears,

Whose groans, bewailings, and whose bitter cries,

With grief incessant rent the very skies.

I do not deny pain to be pain—for were that the case, in what would courage consist?—but I say it should be assuaged by patience, if there be such a thing as patience: if there be no such thing, why do we speak so in praise of philosophy? or why do we glory in its name? Does pain annoy us? Let it sting us to the heart: if you are without defensive armor, bare your throat to it; but if you are secured by Vulcanian armor, that is to say by resolution, resist it. Should you fail to do so, that guardian of your honor, your courage, will forsake and leave you.—By the laws of Lycurgus, and by those which were given to the Cretans by Jupiter, or which Minos established under the direction of Jupiter, as the poets say, the youths of the State are trained by the practice of hunting, running, enduring hunger and thirst, cold and heat. The boys at Sparta are scourged so at the altars that blood follows the lash in abundance; nay, sometimes, as I used to hear when I was there, they are whipped even to death; and yet not one of them was ever heard to cry out, or so much as groan. What, then? Shall men not be able to bear what boys do? and shall custom have such great force, and reason none at all?

XV. There is some difference between labor and pain; they border upon one another, but still there is a certain difference between them. Labor is a certain exercise of the mind or body, in some employment or undertaking of serious trouble and importance; but pain is a sharp motion in the body, disagreeable to our senses.—Both these feelings, the Greeks, whose language is more copious than ours, express by the common name of Πόνος: therefore they call industrious men painstaking, or, rather, fond of labor; we, more conveniently, call them laborious; for laboring is one thing, and enduring pain another. You see, O Greece! your barrenness of words, sometimes, though you think you are always so rich in them. I say, then, that there is a difference between laboring and being in 78pain. When Caius Marius had an operation performed for a swelling in his thigh, he felt pain; when he headed his troops in a very hot season, he labored. Yet these two feelings bear some resemblance to one another; for the accustoming ourselves to labor makes the endurance of pain more easy to us. And it was because they were influenced by this reason that the founders of the Grecian form of government provided that the bodies of their youth should be strengthened by labor, which custom the Spartans transferred even to their women, who in other cities lived more delicately, keeping within the walls of their houses; but it was otherwise with the Spartans.

The Spartan women, with a manly air,

Fatigues and dangers with their husbands share;

They in fantastic sports have no delight,

Partners with them in exercise and fight.

And in these laborious exercises pain interferes sometimes. They are thrown down, receive blows, have bad falls, and are bruised, and the labor itself produces a sort of callousness to pain.

XVI. As to military service (I speak of our own, not of that of the Spartans, for they used to march slowly to the sound of the flute, and scarce a word of command was given without an anapæst), you may see, in the first place, whence the very name of an army (exercitus33) is derived; and, secondly, how great the labor is of an army on its march: then consider that they carry more than a fortnight’s provision, and whatever else they may want; that they carry the burden of the stakes,34 for as to shield, sword, or helmet, they look on them as no more encumbrance than their own limbs, for they say that arms are the limbs of a soldier, and those, indeed, they carry so commodiously that, when there is occasion, they throw down their burdens, and use their arms as readily as their limbs. Why need I mention the exercises of the legions? And how great the labor is which is undergone in the running, encounters, shouts! Hence it is that their minds are worked 79up to make so light of wounds in action. Take a soldier of equal bravery, but undisciplined, and he will seem a woman. Why is it that there is this sensible difference between a raw recruit and a veteran soldier? The age of the young soldiers is for the most part in their favor; but it is practice only that enables men to bear labor and despise wounds. Moreover, we often see, when the wounded are carried off the field, the raw, untried soldier, though but slightly wounded, cries out most shamefully; but the more brave, experienced veteran only inquires for some one to dress his wounds, and says,

Patroclus, to thy aid I must appeal

Ere worse ensue, my bleeding wounds to heal;

The sons of Æsculapius are employ’d,

No room for me, so many are annoy’d.

XVII. This is certainly Eurypylus himself. What an experienced man!—While his friend is continually enlarging on his misfortunes, you may observe that he is so far from weeping that he even assigns a reason why he should bear his wounds with patience.

Who at his enemy a stroke directs,

His sword to light upon himself expects.

Patroclus, I suppose, will lead him off to his chamber to bind up his wounds, at least if he be a man: but not a word of that; he only inquires how the battle went:

Say how the Argives bear themselves in fight?

And yet no words can show the truth as well as those, your deeds and visible sufferings.

Peace! and my wounds bind up;

but though Eurypylus could bear these afflictions, Æsopus could not,

Where Hector’s fortune press’d our yielding troops;

and he explains the rest, though in pain. So unbounded is military glory in a brave man! Shall, then, a veteran soldier be able to behave in this manner, and shall a wise and learned man not be able? Surely the latter might be 80able to bear pain better, and in no small degree either. At present, however, I am confining myself to what is engendered by practice and discipline. I am not yet come to speak of reason and philosophy. You may often hear of old women living without victuals for three or four days; but take away a wrestler’s provisions but for one day, and he will implore the aid of Jupiter Olympius, the very God for whom he exercises himself: he will cry out that he cannot endure it. Great is the force of custom! Sportsmen will continue whole nights in the snow; they will bear being almost frozen upon the mountains. From practice boxers will not so much as utter a groan, however bruised by the cestus. But what do you think of those to whom a victory in the Olympic games seemed almost on a par with the ancient consulships of the Roman people? What wounds will the gladiators bear, who are either barbarians, or the very dregs of mankind! How do they, who are trained to it, prefer being wounded to basely avoiding it! How often do they prove that they consider nothing but the giving satisfaction to their masters or to the people! for when covered with wounds, they send to their masters to learn their pleasure: if it is their will, they are ready to lie down and die. What gladiator, of even moderate reputation, ever gave a sigh? who ever turned pale? who ever disgraced himself either in the actual combat, or even when about to die? who that had been defeated ever drew in his neck to avoid the stroke of death? So great is the force of practice, deliberation, and custom! Shall this, then, be done by

A Samnite rascal, worthy of his trade;

and shall a man born to glory have so soft a part in his soul as not to be able to fortify it by reason and reflection? The sight of the gladiators’ combats is by some looked on as cruel and inhuman, and I do not know, as it is at present managed, but it may be so; but when the guilty fought, we might receive by our ears perhaps (but certainly by our eyes we could not) better training to harden us against pain and death.

XVIII. I have now said enough about the effects of exercise, custom, and careful meditation. Proceed we now 81to consider the force of reason, unless you have something to reply to what has been said.

A. That I should interrupt you! By no means; for your discourse has brought me over to your opinion. Let the Stoics, then, think it their business to determine whether pain be an evil or not, while they endeavor to show by some strained and trifling conclusions, which are nothing to the purpose, that pain is no evil. My opinion is, that whatever it is, it is not so great as it appears; and I say, that men are influenced to a great extent by some false representations and appearance of it, and that all which is really felt is capable of being endured. Where shall I begin, then? Shall I superficially go over what I said before, that my discourse may have a greater scope?

This, then, is agreed upon by all, and not only by learned men, but also by the unlearned, that it becomes the brave and magnanimous—those that have patience and a spirit above this world—not to give way to pain. Nor has there ever been any one who did not commend a man who bore it in this manner. That, then, which is expected from a brave man, and is commended when it is seen, it must surely be base in any one to be afraid of at its approach, or not to bear when it comes. But I would have you consider whether, as all the right affections of the soul are classed under the name of virtues, the truth is that this is not properly the name of them all, but that they all have their name from that leading virtue which is superior to all the rest: for the name “virtue” comes from vir, a man, and courage is the peculiar distinction of a man: and this virtue has two principal duties, to despise death and pain. We must, then, exert these, if we would be men of virtue, or, rather, if we would be men, because virtue (virtus) takes its very name from vir, man.

XIX. You may inquire, perhaps, how? And such an inquiry is not amiss, for philosophy is ready with her assistance. Epicurus offers himself to you, a man far from a bad—or, I should rather say, a very good man: he advises no more than he knows. “Despise pain,” says he. Who is it saith this? Is it the same man who calls pain the greatest of all evils? It is not, indeed, very consistent in him. Let us hear what he says: “If the pain is excessive, 82it must needs be short.” I must have that over again, for I do not apprehend what you mean exactly by “excessive” or “short.” That is excessive than which nothing can be greater; that is short than which nothing is shorter. I do not regard the greatness of any pain from which, by reason of the shortness of its continuance, I shall be delivered almost before it reaches me. But if the pain be as great as that of Philoctetes, it will appear great indeed to me, but yet not the greatest that I am capable of bearing; for the pain is confined to my foot. But my eye may pain me, I may have a pain in the head, or sides, or lungs, or in every part of me. It is far, then, from being excessive. Therefore, says he, pain of a long continuance has more pleasure in it than uneasiness. Now, I cannot bring myself to say so great a man talks nonsense; but I imagine he is laughing at us. My opinion is that the greatest pain (I say the greatest, though it may be ten atoms less than another) is not therefore short, because acute. I could name to you a great many good men who have been tormented many years with the acutest pains of the gout. But this cautious man doth not determine the measure of that greatness or of duration, so as to enable us to know what he calls excessive with regard to pain, or short with respect to its continuance. Let us pass him by, then, as one who says just nothing at all; and let us force him to acknowledge, notwithstanding he might behave himself somewhat boldly under his colic and his strangury, that no remedy against pain can be had from him who looks on pain as the greatest of all evils. We must apply, then, for relief elsewhere, and nowhere better (if we seek for what is most consistent with itself) than to those who place the chief good in honesty, and the greatest evil in infamy. You dare not so much as groan, or discover the least uneasiness in their company, for virtue itself speaks to you through them.

XX. Will you, when you may observe children at Lacedæmon, and young men at Olympia, and barbarians in the amphitheatre, receive the severest wounds, and bear them without once opening their mouths—will you, I say, if any pain should by chance attack you, cry out like a woman? Will you not rather bear it with resolution and constancy? 83and not cry, It is intolerable; nature cannot bear it! I hear what you say: Boys bear this because they are led thereto by glory; some bear it through shame, many through fear, and yet are we afraid that nature cannot bear what is borne by many, and in such different circumstances? Nature not only bears it, but challenges it, for there is nothing with her preferable, nothing which she desires more than credit, and reputation, and praise, and honor, and glory. I choose here to describe this one thing under many names, and I have used many that you may have the clearer idea of it; for what I mean to say is, that whatever is desirable of itself, proceeding from virtue, or placed in virtue, and commendable on its own account (which I would rather agree to call the only good than deny it to be the chief good) is what men should prefer above all things. And as we declare this to be the case with respect to honesty, so we speak in the contrary manner of infamy; nothing is so odious, so detestable, nothing so unworthy of a man. And if you are thoroughly convinced of this (for, at the beginning of this discourse, you allowed that there appeared to you more evil in infamy than in pain), it follows that you ought to have the command over yourself, though I scarcely know how this expression may seem an accurate one, which appears to represent man as made up of two natures, so that one should be in command and the other be subject to it.

XXI. Yet this division does not proceed from ignorance; for the soul admits of a twofold division, one of which partakes of reason, the other is without it. When, therefore, we are ordered to give a law to ourselves, the meaning is, that reason should restrain our rashness. There is in the soul of every man something naturally soft, low, enervated in a manner, and languid. Were there nothing besides this, men would be the greatest of monsters; but there is present to every man reason, which presides over and gives laws to all; which, by improving itself, and making continual advances, becomes perfect virtue. It behooves a man, then, to take care that reason shall have the command over that part which is bound to practise obedience. In what manner? you will say. Why, as a master has over his slave, a general over his 84army, a father over his son. If that part of the soul which I have called soft behaves disgracefully, if it gives itself up to lamentations and womanish tears, then let it be restrained, and committed to the care of friends and relations, for we often see those persons brought to order by shame whom no reasons can influence. Therefore, we should confine those feelings, like our servants, in safe custody, and almost with chains. But those who have more resolution, and yet are not utterly immovable, we should encourage with our exhortations, as we would good soldiers, to recollect themselves, and maintain their honor. That wisest man of all Greece, in the Niptræ, does not lament too much over his wounds, or, rather, he is moderate in his grief:

Move slow, my friends; your hasty speed refrain,

Lest by your motion you increase my pain.

Pacuvius is better in this than Sophocles, for in the one Ulysses bemoans his wounds too vehemently; for the very people who carried him after he was wounded, though his grief was moderate, yet, considering the dignity of the man, did not scruple to say,

And thou, Ulysses, long to war inured,

Thy wounds, though great, too feebly hast endured.

The wise poet understood that custom was no contemptible instructor how to bear pain. But the same hero complains with more decency, though in great pain:

Assist, support me, never leave me so;

Unbind my wounds, oh! execrable woe!

He begins to give way, but instantly checks himself:

Away! begone! but cover first the sore;

For your rude hands but make my pains the more.

Do you observe how he constrains himself? not that his bodily pains were less, but because he checks the anguish of his mind. Therefore, in the conclusion of the Niptræ, he blames others, even when he himself is dying:

Complaints of fortune may become the man,

None but a woman will thus weeping stand.

85And so that soft place in his soul obeys his reason, just as an abashed soldier does his stern commander.

XXII. The man, then, in whom absolute wisdom exists (such a man, indeed, we have never as yet seen, but the philosophers have described in their writings what sort of man he will be, if he should exist); such a man, or at least that perfect and absolute reason which exists in him, will have the same authority over the inferior part as a good parent has over his dutiful children: he will bring it to obey his nod without any trouble or difficulty. He will rouse himself, prepare and arm himself, to oppose pain as he would an enemy. If you inquire what arms he will provide himself with, they will be contention, encouragement, discourse with himself. He will say thus to himself: Take care that you are guilty of nothing base, languid, or unmanly. He will turn over in his mind all the different kinds of honor. Zeno of Elea will occur to him, who suffered everything rather than betray his confederates in the design of putting an end to the tyranny. He will reflect on Anaxarchus, the pupil of Democritus, who, having fallen into the hands of Nicocreon, King of Cyprus, without the least entreaty for mercy or refusal, submitted to every kind of torture. Calanus the Indian will occur to him, an ignorant man and a barbarian, born at the foot of Mount Caucasus, who committed himself to the flames by his own free, voluntary act. But we, if we have the toothache, or a pain in the foot, or if the body be anyways affected, cannot bear it. For our sentiments of pain as well as pleasure are so trifling and effeminate, we are so enervated and relaxed by luxuries, that we cannot bear the sting of a bee without crying out. But Caius Marius, a plain countryman, but of a manly soul, when he had an operation performed on him, as I mentioned above, at first refused to be tied down; and he is the first instance of any one’s having had an operation performed on him without being tied down. Why, then, did others bear it afterward? Why, from the force of example. You see, then, that pain exists more in opinion than in nature; and yet the same Marius gave a proof that there is something very sharp in pain for he would not submit to have the other thigh cut. So that he bore his pain with resolution as a man; but, 86like a reasonable person, he was not willing to undergo any greater pain without some necessary reason. The whole, then, consists in this—that you should have command over yourself. I have already told you what kind of command this is; and by considering what is most consistent with patience, fortitude, and greatness of soul, a man not only restrains himself, but, somehow or other, mitigates even pain itself.

XXIII. Even as in a battle the dastardly and timorous soldier throws away his shield on the first appearance of an enemy, and runs as fast as he can, and on that account loses his life sometimes, though he has never received even one wound, when he who stands his ground has nothing of the sort happen to him, so they who cannot bear the appearance of pain throw themselves away, and give themselves up to affliction and dismay. But they that oppose it, often come off more than a match for it. For the body has a certain resemblance to the soul: as burdens are more easily borne the more the body is exerted, while they crush us if we give way, so the soul by exerting itself resists the whole weight that would oppress it; but if it yields, it is so pressed that it cannot support itself. And if we consider things truly, the soul should exert itself in every pursuit, for that is the only security for its doing its duty. But this should be principally regarded in pain, that we must not do anything timidly, or dastardly, or basely, or slavishly, or effeminately, and, above all things, we must dismiss and avoid that Philoctetean sort of outcry. A man is allowed sometimes to groan, but yet seldom; but it is not permissible even in a woman to howl; for such a noise as this is forbidden, by the twelve tables, to be used even at funerals. Nor does a wise or brave man ever groan, unless when he exerts himself to give his resolution greater force, as they who run in the stadium make as much noise as they can. The wrestlers, too, do the same when they are training; and the boxers, when they aim a blow with the cestus at their adversary, give a groan, not because they are in pain, or from a sinking of their spirits, but because their whole body is put upon the stretch by the throwing-out of these groans, and the blow comes the stronger.

87XXIV. What! they who would speak louder than ordinary are they satisfied with working their jaws, sides, or tongue or stretching the common organs of speech and utterance? The whole body and every muscle is at full stretch if I may be allowed the expression; every nerve is exerted to assist their voice. I have actually seen the knees of Marcus Antonius touch the ground when he was speaking with vehemence for himself, with relation to the Varian law. For, as the engines you throw stones or darts with throw them out with the greater force the more they are strained and drawn back; so it is in speaking, running, or boxing—the more people strain themselves, the greater their force. Since, therefore, this exertion has so much influence—if in a moment of pain groans help to strengthen the mind, let us use them; but if they be groans of lamentation, if they be the expression of weakness or abjectness, or unmanly weeping, then I should scarcely call him a man who yielded to them. For even supposing that such groaning could give any ease, it still should be considered whether it were consistent with a brave and resolute man. But if it does not ease our pain, why should we debase ourselves to no purpose? For what is more unbecoming in a man than to cry like a woman? But this precept which is laid down with respect to pain is not confined to it. We should apply this exertion of the soul to everything else. Is anger inflamed? is lust excited? we must have recourse to the same citadel, and apply to the same arms. But since it is pain which we are at present discussing, we will let the other subjects alone. To bear pain, then, sedately and calmly, it is of great use to consider with all our soul, as the saying is, how noble it is to do so, for we are naturally desirous (as I said before, but it cannot be too often repeated) and very much inclined to what is honorable, of which, if we discover but the least glimpse, there is nothing which we are not prepared to undergo and suffer to attain it. From this impulse of our minds, this desire for genuine glory and honorable conduct, it is that such dangers are supported in war, and that brave men are not sensible of their wounds in action, or, if they are sensible of them, prefer death to the departing but the least step 88from their honor. The Decii saw the shining swords of their enemies when they were rushing into the battle. But the honorable character and the glory of the death which they were seeking made all fear of death of little weight. Do you imagine that Epaminondas groaned when he perceived that his life was flowing out with his blood? No; for he left his country triumphing over the Lacedæmonians, whereas he had found it in subjection to them. These are the comforts, these are the things that assuage the greatest pain.

XXV. You may ask, How the case is in peace? What is to be done at home? How we are to behave in bed? You bring me back to the philosophers, who seldom go to war. Among these, Dionysius of Heraclea, a man certainly of no resolution, having learned fortitude of Zeno, quitted it on being in pain; for, being tormented with a pain in his kidneys, in bewailing himself he cried out that those things were false which he had formerly conceived of pain. And when his fellow-disciple, Cleanthes, asked him why he had changed his opinion, he answered, “That the case of any man who had applied so much time to philosophy, and yet was unable to bear pain, might be a sufficient proof that pain is an evil; that he himself had spent many years at philosophy, and yet could not bear pain: it followed, therefore, that pain was an evil.” It is reported that Cleanthes on that struck his foot on the ground, and repeated a verse out of the Epigonæ:

Amphiaraus, hear’st thou this below?

He meant Zeno: he was sorry the other had degenerated from him.

But it was not so with our friend Posidonius, whom I have often seen myself; and I will tell you what Pompey used to say of him: that when he came to Rhodes, after his departure from Syria, he had a great desire to hear Posidonius, but was informed that he was very ill of a severe fit of the gout; yet he had great inclination to pay a visit to so famous a philosopher. Accordingly, when he had seen him, and paid his compliments, and had spoken with great respect of him, he said he was very sorry that he could not hear him lecture. “But indeed you may,” 89replied the other, “nor will I suffer any bodily pain to occasion so great a man to visit me in vain.” On this Pompey relates that, as he lay on his bed, he disputed with great dignity and fluency on this very subject: that nothing was good but what was honest; and that in his paroxysms he would often say, “Pain, it is to no purpose; notwithstanding you are troublesome, I will never acknowledge you an evil.” And in general all celebrated and notorious afflictions become endurable by disregarding them.

XXVI. Do we not observe that where those exercises called gymnastic are in esteem, those who enter the lists never concern themselves about dangers? that where the praise of riding and hunting is highly esteemed, they who practice these arts decline no pain? What shall I say of our own ambitious pursuits or desire of honors? What fire have not candidates run through to gain a single vote? Therefore Africanus had always in his hands Xenophon, the pupil of Socrates, being particularly pleased with his saying, that the same labors were not equally heavy to the general and to the common man, because the honor itself made the labor lighter to the general. But yet, so it happens, that even with the illiterate vulgar an idea of honor is of great influence, though they cannot understand what it is. They are led by report and common opinion to look on that as honorable which has the general voice. Not that I would have you, should the multitude be ever so fond of you, rely on their judgment, nor approve of everything which they think right: you must use your own judgment. If you are satisfied with yourself when you have approved of what is right, you will not only have the mastery over yourself (which I recommended to you just now), but over everybody, and everything. Lay this down, then, as a rule, that a great capacity, and lofty elevation of soul, which distinguishes itself most by despising and looking down with contempt on pain, is the most excellent of all things, and the more so if it does not depend on the people and does not aim at applause, but derives its satisfaction from itself. Besides, to me, indeed, everything seems the more commendable the less the people are courted, and the fewer eyes there 90are to see it. Not that you should avoid the public, for every generous action loves the public view; yet no theatre for virtue is equal to a consciousness of it.

XXVII. And let this be principally considered: that this bearing of pain, which I have often said is to be strengthened by an exertion of the soul, should be the same in everything. For you meet with many who, through a desire of victory, or for glory, or to maintain their rights, or their liberty, have boldly received wounds, and borne themselves up under them; and yet those very same persons, by relaxing that intenseness of their minds, were unequal to bearing the pain of a disease; for they did not support themselves under their former sufferings by reason or philosophy, but by inclination and glory. Therefore some barbarians and savage people are able to fight very stoutly with the sword, but cannot bear sickness like men; but the Grecians, men of no great courage, but as wise as human nature will admit of, cannot look an enemy in the face, yet the same will bear to be visited with sickness tolerably, and with a sufficiently manly spirit; and the Cimbrians and Celtiberians are very alert in battle, but bemoan themselves in sickness. For nothing can be consistent which has not reason for its foundation. But when you see those who are led by inclination or opinion, not retarded by pain in their pursuits, nor hindered by it from succeeding in them, you may conclude, either that pain is no evil, or that, notwithstanding you may choose to call an evil whatever is disagreeable and contrary to nature, yet it is so very trifling an evil that it may so effectually be got the better of by virtue as quite to disappear. And I would have you think of this night and day; for this argument will spread itself, and take up more room some time or other, and not be confined to pain alone; for if the motives to all our actions are to avoid disgrace and acquire honor, we may not only despise the stings of pain, but the storms of fortune, especially if we have recourse to that retreat which was pointed out in our yesterday’s discussion; for, as if some God had advised a man who was pursued by pirates to throw himself overboard, saying, “There is something at hand to receive you; either a dolphin will take you up, as it did Arion of 91Methymna; or those horses sent by Neptune to Pelops (who are said to have carried chariots so rapidly as to be borne up by the waves) will receive you, and convey you wherever you please. Cast away all fear.” So, though your pains be ever so sharp and disagreeable, if the case is not such that it is worth your while to endure them, you see whither you may betake yourself. I think this will do for the present. But perhaps you still abide by your opinion.

A. Not in the least, indeed; and I hope I am freed by these two days’ discourses from the fear of two things that I greatly dreaded.

M. To-morrow, then, for rhetoric, as we were saying. But I see we must not drop our philosophy.

A. No, indeed; we will have the one in the forenoon, and this at the usual time.

M. It shall be so, and I will comply with your very laudable inclinations.



I. What reason shall I assign, O Brutus, why, as we consist of mind and body, the art of curing and preserving the body should be so much sought after, and the invention of it, as being so useful, should be ascribed to the immortal Gods; but the medicine of the mind should not have been so much the object of inquiry while it was unknown, nor so much attended to and cultivated after its discovery, nor so well received or approved of by some, and accounted actually disagreeable, and looked upon with an envious eye by many? Is it because we, by means of the mind, judge of the pains and disorders of the body, but do not, by means of the body, arrive at any perception of the disorders of the mind? Hence it comes that the mind only judges of itself when that very faculty by which it is judged is in a bad state. Had nature given us faculties for discerning and viewing herself, and could we go through life by keeping our eye on her—our best guide—92there would be no reason certainly why any one should be in want of philosophy or learning; but, as it is, she has furnished us only with some feeble rays of light, which we immediately extinguish so completely by evil habits and erroneous opinions that the light of nature is nowhere visible. The seeds of virtues are natural to our constitutions, and, were they suffered to come to maturity, would naturally conduct us to a happy life; but now, as soon as we are born and received into the world, we are instantly familiarized with all kinds of depravity and perversity of opinions; so that we may be said almost to suck in error with our nurse’s milk. When we return to our parents, and are put into the hands of tutors and governors, we are imbued with so many errors that truth gives place to falsehood, and nature herself to established opinion.

II. To these we may add the poets; who, on account of the appearance they exhibit of learning and wisdom, are heard, read, and got by heart, and make a deep impression on our minds. But when to these are added the people, who are, as it were, one great body of instructors, and the multitude, who declare unanimously for what is wrong, then are we altogether overwhelmed with bad opinions, and revolt entirely from nature; so that they seem to deprive us of our best guide who have decided that there is nothing better for man, nothing more worthy of being desired by him, nothing more excellent, than honors and commands, and a high reputation with the people; which indeed every excellent man aims at; but while he pursues that only true honor which nature has in view above all other objects, he finds himself busied in arrant trifles, and in pursuit of no conspicuous form of virtue, but only some shadowy representation of glory. For glory is a real and express substance, not a mere shadow. It consists in the united praise of good men, the free voice of those who form a true judgment of pre-eminent virtue; it is, as it were, the very echo of virtue; and being generally the attendant on laudable actions, should not be slighted by good men. But popular fame, which would pretend to imitate it, is hasty and inconsiderate, and generally commends wicked and immoral actions, and throws discredit upon the appearance and beauty of honesty by assuming 93a resemblance of it. And it is owing to their not being able to discover the difference between them that some men ignorant of real excellence, and in what it consists, have been the destruction of their country and of themselves. And thus the best men have erred, not so much in their intentions as by a mistaken conduct. What? is no cure to be attempted to be applied to those who are carried away by the love of money, or the lust of pleasures, by which they are rendered little short of madmen, which is the case of all weak people? or is it because the disorders of the mind are less dangerous than those of the body? or because the body will admit of a cure, while there is no medicine whatever for the mind?

III. But there are more disorders of the mind than of the body, and they are of a more dangerous nature; for these very disorders are the more offensive because they belong to the mind and disturb it; and the mind, when disordered, is, as Ennius says, in a constant error: it can neither bear nor endure anything, and is under the perpetual influence of desires. Now, what disorders can be worse to the body than these two distempers of the mind (for I overlook others), weakness and desire? But how, indeed, can it be maintained that the mind cannot prescribe for itself, when she it is who has invented the medicines for the body, when, with regard to bodily cures, constitution and nature have a great share, nor do all who suffer themselves to be cured find that effect instantly; but those minds which are disposed to be cured, and submit to the precepts of the wise, may undoubtedly recover a healthy state? Philosophy is certainly the medicine of the soul, whose assistance we do not seek from abroad, as in bodily disorders, but we ourselves are bound to exert our utmost energy and power in order to effect our cure. But as to philosophy in general, I have, I think, in my Hortensius, sufficiently spoken of the credit and attention which it deserves: since that, indeed, I have been continually either disputing or writing on its most material branches; and I have laid down in these books all the discussions which took place between myself and my particular friends at my Tusculan villa. But as I have spoken in the two former of pain and death, this book shall be 94devoted to the account of the third day of our disputations.

We came down into the Academy when the day was already declining towards afternoon, and I asked one of those who were present to propose a subject for us to discourse on; and then the business was carried on in this manner:

IV. A. My opinion is, that a wise man is subject to grief.

M. What, and to the other perturbations of mind, as fears, lusts, anger? For these are pretty much like what the Greeks call πάθη. I might call them diseases, and that would be a literal translation, but it is not agreeable to our way of speaking. For envy, delight, and pleasure are all called by the Greeks diseases, being affections of the mind not in subordination to reason; but we, I think, are right in calling the same motions of a disturbed soul perturbations, and in very seldom using the term diseases; though, perhaps, it appears otherwise to you.

A. I am of your opinion.

M. And do you think a wise man subject to these?

A. Entirely, I think.

M. Then that boasted wisdom is but of small account, if it differs so little from madness?

A. What? does every commotion of the mind seem to you to be madness?

M. Not to me only; but I apprehend, though I have often been surprised at it, that it appeared so to our ancestors many ages before Socrates; from whom is derived all that philosophy which relates to life and morals.

A. How so?

M. Because the name madness35 implies a sickness of the mind and disease; that is to say, an unsoundness and an unhealthiness of mind, which they call madness. But the philosophers call all perturbations of the soul diseases, and their opinion is that no fool is ever free from these; but all that are diseased are unsound; and the minds of all fools are diseased; therefore all fools are mad. For they held that soundness of the mind depends on a certain 95tranquillity and steadiness; and a mind which was destitute of these qualities they called insane, because soundness was inconsistent with a perturbed mind just as much as with a disordered body.

V. Nor were they less ingenious in calling the state of the soul devoid of the light of the mind, “a being out of one’s mind,” “a being beside one’s self.” From whence we may understand that they who gave these names to things were of the same opinion with Socrates, that all silly people were unsound, which the Stoics have carefully preserved as being derived from him; for whatever mind is distempered (and, as I just now said, the philosophers call all perturbed motions of the mind distempers) is no more sound than a body is when in a fit of sickness. Hence it is that wisdom is the soundness of the mind, folly a sort of unsoundness, which is insanity, or a being out of one’s mind: and these are much better expressed by the Latin words than the Greek, which you will find the case also in many other topics. But we will discuss that point elsewhere: let us now attend to our present subject. The very meaning of the word describes the whole thing about which we are inquiring, both as to its substance and character. For we must necessarily understand by “sound” those whose minds are under no perturbation from any motion as if it were a disease. They who are differently affected we must necessarily call “unsound.” So that nothing is better than what is usual in Latin, to say that they who are run away with by their lust or anger have quitted the command over themselves; though anger includes lust, for anger is defined to be the lust of revenge. They, then, who are said not to be masters of themselves, are said to be so because they are not under the government of reason, to which is assigned by nature the power over the whole soul. Why the Greeks should call this mania, I do not easily apprehend; but we define it much better than they, for we distinguish this madness (insania), which, being allied to folly, is more extensive, from what we call furor, or raving. The Greeks, indeed, would do so too, but they have no one word that will express it: what we call furor, they call μελαγχολία, as if the reason 96were affected only by a black bile, and not disturbed as often by a violent rage, or fear, or grief. Thus we say Athamas, Alcmæon, Ajax, and Orestes were raving (furere); because a person affected in this manner was not allowed by the Twelve Tables to have the management of his own affairs; therefore the words are not, if he is mad (insanus), but if he begins to be raving (furiosus). For they looked upon madness to be an unsettled humor that proceeded from not being of sound mind; yet such a person might perform his ordinary duties, and discharge the usual and customary requirements of life: but they considered one that was raving as afflicted with a total blindness of the mind, which, notwithstanding it is allowed to be greater than madness, is nevertheless of such a nature that a wise man may be subject to raving (furor), but cannot possibly be afflicted by insanity (insania). But this is another question: let us now return to our original subject.

VI. I think you said that it was your opinion that a wise man was liable to grief.

A. And so, indeed, I think.

M. It is natural enough to think so, for we are not the offspring of flints; but we have by nature something soft and tender in our souls, which may be put into a violent motion by grief, as by a storm; nor did that Crantor, who was one of the most distinguished men that our Academy has ever produced, say this amiss: “I am by no means of their opinion who talk so much in praise of I know not what insensibility, which neither can exist, nor ought to exist”. “I would choose,” says he, “never to be ill; but should I be so, still I should choose to retain my sensation, whether there was to be an amputation or any other separation of anything from my body. For that insensibility cannot be but at the expense of some unnatural ferocity of mind, or stupor of body.”But let us consider whether to talk in this manner be not allowing that we are weak, and yielding to our softness. Notwithstanding, let us be hardy enough, not only to lop off every arm of our miseries, but even to pluck up every fibre of their roots. Yet still something, perhaps, may be left behind, so deep does folly strike its roots: but whatever may be 97left it will be no more than is necessary. But let us be persuaded of this, that unless the mind be in a sound state, which philosophy alone can effect, there can be no end of our miseries. Wherefore, as we began, let us submit ourselves to it for a cure; we shall be cured if we choose to be. I shall advance something further. I shall not treat of grief alone, though that indeed is the principal thing; but, as I originally proposed, of every perturbation of the mind, as I termed it; disorder, as the Greeks call it: and first, with your leave, I shall treat it in the manner of the Stoics, whose method is to reduce their arguments into a very small space; afterward I shall enlarge more in my own way.

VII. A man of courage is also full of faith. I do not use the word confident, because, owing to an erroneous custom of speaking, that word has come to be used in a bad sense, though it is derived from confiding, which is commendable. But he who is full of faith is certainly under no fear; for there is an inconsistency between faith and fear. Now, whoever is subject to grief is subject to fear; for whatever things we grieve at when present we dread when hanging over us and approaching. Thus it comes about that grief is inconsistent with courage: it is very probable, therefore, that whoever is subject to grief is also liable to fear, and to a broken kind of spirits and sinking. Now, whenever these befall a man, he is in a servile state, and must own that he is overpowered; for whoever admits these feelings, must admit timidity and cowardice. But these cannot enter into the mind of a man of courage; neither, therefore, can grief: but the man of courage is the only wise man; therefore grief cannot befall the wise man. It is, besides, necessary that whoever is brave should be a man of great soul; that whoever is a man of a great soul should be invincible; whoever is invincible looks down with contempt on all things here, and considers them, beneath him. But no one can despise those things on account of which he may be affected with grief; from whence it follows that a wise man is never affected with grief: for all wise men are brave; therefore a wise man is not subject to grief. And as the eye, when disordered, is not in a good condition for performing its 98office properly; and as the other parts, and the whole body itself, when unsettled, cannot perform their office and business; so the mind, when disordered, is but ill-fitted to perform its duty. The office of the mind is to use its reason well; but the mind of a wise man is always in condition to make the best use of his reason, and therefore is never out of order. But grief is a disorder of the mind; therefore a wise man will be always free from it.

VIII. And from these considerations we may get at a very probable definition of the temperate man, whom the Greeks call σώφρων: and they call that virtue σωφροσύνην, which I at one time call temperance, at another time moderation, and sometimes even modesty; but I do not know whether that virtue may not be properly called frugality, which has a more confined meaning with the Greeks; for they call frugal men χρησίμους, which implies only that they are useful; but our name has a more extensive meaning: for all abstinence, all innocency (which the Greeks have no ordinary name for, though they might use the word ἀβλάβεια, for innocency is that disposition of mind which would offend no one) and several other virtues are comprehended under frugality; but if this quality were of less importance, and confined in as small a compass as some imagine, the surname of Piso36 would not have been in so great esteem. But as we allow him not the name of a frugal man (frugi), who either quits his post through fear, which is cowardice; or who reserves to his own use what was privately committed to his keeping, which is injustice; or who fails in his military undertakings through rashness, which is folly—for that reason the word frugality takes in these three virtues of fortitude, justice, and prudence, though it is indeed common to all virtues, for they are all connected and knit together. Let us allow, then, frugality itself to be another and fourth virtue; for its peculiar property seems to be, to govern and appease all tendencies to too eager a desire after anything, to restrain lust, and to preserve a decent steadiness in everything. The vice in contrast to this is called prodigality (nequitia). Frugality, I imagine, is derived from the 99word fruge, the best thing which the earth produces; nequitia is derived (though this is perhaps rather more strained; still, let us try it; we shall only be thought to have been trifling if there is nothing in what we say) from the fact of everything being to no purpose (nequicquam) in such a man; from which circumstance he is called also Nihil, nothing. Whoever is frugal, then, or, if it is more agreeable to you, whoever is moderate and temperate, such a one must of course be consistent; whoever is consistent, must be quiet; the quiet man must be free from all perturbation, therefore from grief likewise: and these are the properties of a wise man; therefore a wise man must be free from grief.

IX. So that Dionysius of Heraclea is right when, upon this complaint of Achilles in Homer,

Well hast thou spoke, but at the tyrant’s name

My rage rekindles, and my soul’s in flame:

’Tis just resentment, and becomes the brave,

Disgraced, dishonor’d like the vilest slave37

he reasons thus: Is the hand as it should be, when it is affected with a swelling? or is it possible for any other member of the body, when swollen or enlarged, to be in any other than a disordered state? Must not the mind, then, when it is puffed up, or distended, be out of order? But the mind of a wise man is always free from every kind of disorder: it never swells, never is puffed up; but the mind when in anger is in a different state. A wise man, therefore, is never angry; for when he is angry, he lusts after something; for whoever is angry naturally has a longing desire to give all the pain he can to the person who he thinks has injured him; and whoever has this earnest desire must necessarily be much pleased with the accomplishment of his wishes; hence he is delighted with his neighbor’s misery; and as a wise man is not capable of such feelings as these, he is therefore not capable of anger. But should a wise man be subject to grief, he may likewise 100be subject to anger; for as he is free from anger, he must likewise be free from grief. Again, could a wise man be subject to grief, he might also be liable to pity, or even might be open to a disposition towards envy (invidentia); I do not say to envy (invidia), for that can only exist by the very act of envying: but we may fairly form the word invidentia from invidendo, and so avoid the doubtful name invidia; for this word is probably derived from in and video, looking too closely into another’s fortune; as it is said in the Melanippus,

Who envies me the flower of my children?

where the Latin is invidit florem. It may appear not good Latin, but it is very well put by Accius; for as video governs an accusative case, so it is more correct to say invideo florem than flori. We are debarred from saying so by common usage. The poet stood in his own right, and expressed himself with more freedom.

X. Therefore compassion and envy are consistent in the same man; for whoever is uneasy at any one’s adversity is also uneasy at another’s prosperity: as Theophrastus, while he laments the death of his companion Callisthenes, is at the same time disturbed at the success of Alexander; and therefore he says that Callisthenes met with man of the greatest power and good fortune, but one who did not know how to make use of his good fortune. And as pity is an uneasiness which arises from the misfortunes of another, so envy is an uneasiness that proceeds from the good success of another: therefore whoever is capable of pity is capable of envy. But a wise man is incapable of envy, and consequently incapable of pity. But were a wise man used to grieve, to pity also would be familiar to him; therefore to grieve is a feeling which cannot affect a wise man. Now, though these reasonings of the Stoics, and their conclusions, are rather strained and distorted, and ought to be expressed in a less stringent and narrow manner, yet great stress is to be laid on the opinions of those men who have a peculiarly bold and manly turn of thought and sentiment. For our friends the Peripatetics, notwithstanding all their erudition, gravity, and fluency of language, do not satisfy me about the moderation of these disorders and diseases 101of the soul which they insist upon; for every evil, though moderate, is in its nature great. But our object is to make out that the wise man is free from all evil; for as the body is unsound if it is ever so slightly affected, so the mind under any moderate disorder loses its soundness; therefore the Romans have, with their usual accuracy of expression, called trouble, and anguish, and vexation, on account of the analogy between a troubled mind and a diseased body, disorders. The Greeks call all perturbation of mind by pretty nearly the same name; for they name every turbid motion of the soul πάθος, that is to say, a distemper. But we have given them a more proper name; for a disorder of the mind is very like a disease of the body. But lust does not resemble sickness; neither does immoderate joy, which is an elated and exulting pleasure of the mind. Fear, too, is not very like a distemper, though it is akin to grief of mind, but properly, as is also the case with sickness of the body, so too sickness of mind has no name separated from pain. And therefore I must explain the origin of this pain, that is to say, the cause that occasions this grief in the mind, as if it were a sickness of the body. For as physicians think they have found out the cure when they have discovered the cause of the distemper, so we shall discover the method of curing melancholy when the cause of it is found out.

XI. The whole cause, then, is in opinion; and this observation applies not to this grief alone, but to every other disorder of the mind, which are of four sorts, but consisting of many parts. For as every disorder or perturbation is a motion of the mind, either devoid of reason, or in despite of reason, or in disobedience to reason, and as that motion is excited by an opinion of either good or evil; these four perturbations are divided equally into two parts: for two of them proceed from an opinion of good, one of which is an exulting pleasure, that is to say, a joy elated beyond measure, arising from an opinion of some present great good; the other is a desire which may fairly be called even a lust, and is an immoderate inclination after some conceived great good without any obedience to reason. Therefore these two kinds, the exulting pleasure and the lust, have their rise from an opinion of good, as 102the other two, fear and grief, have from an opinion of evil. For fear is an opinion of some great evil impending over us, and grief is an opinion of some great evil present; and, indeed, it is a freshly conceived opinion of an evil so great that to grieve at it seems right: it is of that kind that he who is uneasy at it thinks he has good reason to be so. Now we should exert, our utmost efforts to oppose these perturbations—which are, as it were, so many furies let loose upon us and urged on by folly—if we are desirous to pass this share of life that is allotted to us with ease and satisfaction. But of the other feelings I shall speak elsewhere: our business at present is to drive away grief if we can, for that shall be the object of our present discussion, since you have said that it was your opinion that a wise man might be subject to grief, which I can by no means allow of; for it is a frightful, miserable, and detestable thing, which we should fly from with our utmost efforts—with all our sails and oars, as I may say.

XII. That descendant of Tantalus, how does he appear to you—he who sprung from Pelops, who formerly stole Hippodamia from her father-in-law, King Œnomaus, and married her by force?—he who was descended from Jupiter himself, how broken-hearted and dispirited does he not seem!

Stand off, my friends, nor come within my shade,

That no pollutions your sound hearts pervade,

So foul a stain my body doth partake.

Will you condemn yourself, Thyestes, and deprive yourself of life, on account of the greatness of another’s crime? What do you think of that son of Phœbus? Do you not look upon him as unworthy of his own father’s light?

Hollow his eyes, his body worn away,

His furrow’d cheeks his frequent tears betray;

His beard neglected, and his hoary hairs

Rough and uncomb’d, bespeak his bitter cares.

O foolish Æetes! these are evils which you yourself have been the cause of, and are not occasioned by any accidents with which chance has visited you; and you behaved as you did, even after you had been inured to your distress, and after the first swelling of the mind had subsided!—whereas grief consists (as I shall show) in the notion of 103some recent evil—but your grief, it is very plain, proceeded from the loss of your kingdom, not of your daughter, for you hated her, and perhaps with reason, but you could not calmly bear to part with your kingdom. But surely it is an impudent grief which preys upon a man for not being able to command those that are free. Dionysius, it is true, the tyrant of Syracuse, when driven from his country, taught a school at Corinth; so incapable was he of living without some authority. But what could be more impudent than Tarquin, who made war upon those who could not bear his tyranny; and, when he could not recover his kingdom by the aid of the forces of the Veientians and the Latins, is said to have betaken himself to Cuma, and to have died in that city of old age and grief!

XIII. Do you, then, think that it can befall a wise man to be oppressed with grief, that is to say, with misery? for, as all perturbation is misery, grief is the rack itself. Lust is attended with heat, exulting joy with levity, fear with meanness, but grief with something greater than these; it consumes, torments, afflicts, and disgraces a man; it tears him, preys upon his mind, and utterly destroys him: if we do not so divest ourselves of it as to throw it completely off, we cannot be free from misery. And it is clear that there must be grief where anything has the appearance of a present sore and oppressing evil. Epicurus is of opinion that grief arises naturally from the imagination of any evil; so that whosoever is eye-witness of any great misfortune, if he conceives that the like may possibly befall himself, becomes sad instantly from such an idea. The Cyrenaics think that grief is not engendered by every kind of evil, but only by unexpected, unforeseen evil; and that circumstance is, indeed, of no small effect on the heightening of grief; for whatsoever comes of a sudden appears more formidable. Hence these lines are deservedly commended:

I knew my son, when first he drew his breath,

Destined by fate to an untimely death;

And when I sent him to defend the Greeks,

War was his business, not your sportive freaks.

XIV. Therefore, this ruminating beforehand upon future evils which you see at a distance makes their approach 104more tolerable; and on this account what Euripides makes Theseus say is much commended. You will give me leave to translate them, as is usual with me:

I treasured up what some learn’d sage did tell,

And on my future misery did dwell;

I thought of bitter death, of being drove

Far from my home by exile, and I strove

With every evil to possess my mind,

That, when they came, I the less care might find.38

But Euripides says that of himself, which Theseus said he had heard from some learned man, for the poet had been a pupil of Anaxagoras, who, as they relate, on hearing of the death of his son, said, “I knew that my son was mortal;” which speech seems to intimate that such things afflict those men who have not thought on them before. Therefore, there is no doubt but that all those things which are considered evils are the heavier from not being foreseen. Though, notwithstanding this is not the only circumstance which occasions the greatest grief, still, as the mind, by foreseeing and preparing for it, has great power to make all grief the less, a man should at all times consider all the events that may befall him in this life; and certainly the excellence and divine nature of wisdom consists in taking a near view of, and gaining a thorough acquaintance with, all human affairs, in not being surprised when anything happens, and in thinking, before the event, that there is nothing but what may come to pass.

Wherefore ev’ry man,

When his affairs go on most swimmingly,

E’en then it most behooves to arm himself

Against the coming storm: loss, danger, exile,

Returning ever, let him look to meet;

His son in fault, wife dead, or daughter sick;

All common accidents, and may have happen’d

That nothing shall seem new or strange. But if

Aught has fall’n out beyond his hopes, all that

Let him account clear gain.39

105XV. Therefore, as Terence has so well expressed what he borrowed from philosophy, shall not we, from whose fountains he drew it, say the same thing in a better manner, and abide by it with more steadiness? Hence came that steady countenance, which, according to Xantippe, her husband Socrates always had; so that she said that she never observed any difference in his looks when he went out and when he came home. Yet the look of that old Roman, M. Crassus, who, as Lucilius says, never smiled but once in his lifetime, was not of this kind, but placid and serene, for so we are told. He, indeed, might well have had the same look at all times who never changed his mind, from which the countenance derives its expression. So that I am ready to borrow of the Cyrenaics those arms against the accidents and events of life by means of which, by long premeditation, they break the force of all approaching evils; and at the same time I think that those very evils themselves arise more from opinion than nature, for if they were real, no forecast could make them lighter. But I shall speak more particularly on these matters after I have first considered Epicurus’s opinion, who thinks that all people must necessarily be uneasy who believe themselves to be in any evils, let them be either foreseen and expected, or habitual to them; for with him evils are not the less by reason of their continuance, nor the lighter for having been foreseen; and it is folly to ruminate on evils to come, or such as, perhaps, never may come: every evil is disagreeable enough when it does come; but he who is constantly considering that some evil may befall him is loading himself with a perpetual evil; and even should such evil never light on him, he voluntarily takes upon himself unnecessary misery, so that he is under constant uneasiness, whether he actually suffers any evil, or only thinks of it. But he makes the alleviation of grief depend on two things—a ceasing to think on evil, and a turning to the contemplation of pleasure. For he thinks that the mind may possibly be under the power of reason, and follow her directions: he forbids us, therefore, to mind trouble, and calls us off from sorrowful reflections; he throws a mist over our eyes to hinder us from the contemplation of misery. Having sounded a retreat 106from this statement, he drives our thoughts on again, and encourages them to view and engage the whole mind in the various pleasures with which he thinks the life of a wise man abounds, either from reflecting on the past, or from the hope of what is to come. I have said these things in my own way; the Epicureans have theirs. However, let us examine what they say; how they say it is of little consequence.

XVI. In the first place, they are wrong in forbidding men to premeditate on futurity and blaming their wish to do so; for there is nothing that breaks the edge of grief and lightens it more than considering, during one’s whole life, that there is nothing which it is impossible should happen, or than, considering what human nature is, on what conditions life was given, and how we may comply with them. The effect of which is that we are always grieving, but that we never do so; for whoever reflects on the nature of things, the various turns of life, and the weakness of human nature, grieves, indeed, at that reflection; but while so grieving he is, above all other times, behaving as a wise man, for he gains these two things by it: one, that while he is considering the state of human nature he is performing the especial duties of philosophy, and is provided with a triple medicine against adversity—in the first place, because he has long reflected that such things might befall him, and this reflection by itself contributes much towards lessening and weakening all misfortunes; and, secondly, because he is persuaded that we should bear all the accidents which can happen to man with the feelings and spirit of a man; and, lastly, because he considers that what is blamable is the only evil. But it is not your fault that something has happened to you which it was impossible for man to avoid. For that withdrawing of our thoughts which he recommends when he calls us off from contemplating our misfortunes is an imaginary action; for it is not in our power to dissemble or to forget those evils which lie heavy on us; they tear, vex, and sting us—they burn us up, and leave no breathing time. And do you order us to forget them (for such forgetfulness is contrary to nature), and at the same time deprive us of the only assistance which nature affords, the being accustomed to them? 107For that, though it is but a slow medicine (I mean that which is brought by lapse of time), is still a very effectual one. You order me to employ my thoughts on something good, and forget my misfortunes. You would say something worthy a great philosopher if you thought those things good which are best suited to the dignity of human nature.

XVII. Should Pythagoras, Socrates, or Plato say to me, Why are you dejected or sad? Why do you faint, and yield to fortune, which, perhaps, may have power to harass and disturb you, but should not quite unman you? There is great power in the virtues; rouse them, if they chance to droop. Take fortitude for your guide, which will give you such spirits that you will despise everything that can befall man, and look on it as a trifle. Add to this temperance, which is moderation, and which was just now called frugality, which will not suffer you to do anything base or bad—for what is worse or baser than an effeminate man? Not even justice will suffer you to act in this manner, though she seems to have the least weight in this affair; but still, notwithstanding, even she will inform you that you are doubly unjust when you both require what does not belong to you, inasmuch as though you who have been born mortal demand to be placed in the condition of the immortals, and at the same time you take it much to heart that you are to restore what was lent you. What answer will you make to prudence, who informs you that she is a virtue sufficient of herself both to teach you a good life and also to secure you a happy one? And, indeed, if she were fettered by external circumstances, and dependent on others, and if she did not originate in herself and return to herself, and also embrace everything in herself, so as to seek no adventitious aid from any quarter, I cannot imagine why she should appear deserving of such lofty panegyrics, or of being sought after with such excessive eagerness. Now, Epicurus, if you call me back to such goods as these, I will obey you, and follow you, and use you as my guide, and even forget, as you order me, all my misfortunes; and I will do this the more readily from a persuasion that they are not to be ranked among evils at all. But you are for bringing my thoughts over to pleasure. 108What pleasures? Pleasures of the body, I imagine, or such as are recollected or imagined on account of the body. Is this all? Do I explain your opinion rightly? for your disciples are used to deny that we understand at all what Epicurus means. This is what he says, and what that subtle fellow, old Zeno, who is one of the sharpest of them, used, when I was attending lectures at Athens, to enforce and talk so loudly of; saying that he alone was happy who could enjoy present pleasure, and who was at the same time persuaded that he should enjoy it without pain, either during the whole or the greatest part of his life; or if, should any pain interfere, if it was very sharp, then it must be short; should it be of longer continuance, it would have more of what was sweet than bitter in it; that whosoever reflected on these things would be happy, especially if satisfied with the good things which he had already enjoyed, and if he were without fear of death or of the Gods.

XVIII. You have here a representation of a happy life according to Epicurus, in the words of Zeno, so that there is no room for contradiction in any point. What, then? Can the proposing and thinking of such a life make Thyestes’s grief the less, or Æetes’s, of whom I spoke above, or Telamon’s, who was driven from his country to penury and banishment? in wonder at whom men exclaimed thus:

Is this the man surpassing glory raised?

Is this that Telamon so highly praised

By wondering Greece, at whose sight, like the sun,

All others with diminish’d lustre shone?

Now, should any one, as the same author says, find his spirits sink with the loss of his fortune, he must apply to those grave philosophers of antiquity for relief, and not to these voluptuaries: for what great abundance of good do they promise? Suppose that we allow that to be without pain is the chief good? Yet that is not called pleasure. But it is not necessary at present to go through the whole: the question is, to what point are we to advance in order to abate our grief? Grant that to be in pain is the greatest evil: whosoever, then, has proceeded so far as not to be in pain, is he, therefore, in immediate possession of the greatest good? Why, Epicurus, do we use any evasions, 109and not allow in our own words the same feeling to be pleasure which you are used to boast of with such assurance? Are these your words or not? This is what you say in that book which contains all the doctrine of your school; for I will perform on this occasion the office of a translator, lest any one should imagine that I am inventing anything. Thus you speak: “Nor can I form any notion of the chief good, abstracted from those pleasures which are perceived by taste, or from what depends on hearing music, or abstracted from ideas raised by external objects visible to the eye, or by agreeable motions, or from those other pleasures which are perceived by the whole man by means of any of his senses; nor can it possibly be said that the pleasures of the mind are excited only by what is good, for I have perceived men’s minds to be pleased with the hopes of enjoying those things which I mentioned above, and with the idea that it should enjoy them without any interruption from pain.” And these are his exact words, so that any one may understand what were the pleasures with which Epicurus was acquainted. Then he speaks thus, a little lower down: “I have often inquired of those who have been called wise men what would be the remaining good if they should exclude from consideration all these pleasures, unless they meant to give us nothing but words. I could never learn anything from them; and unless they choose that all virtue and wisdom should vanish and come to nothing, they must say with me that the only road to happiness lies through those pleasures which I mentioned above.” What follows is much the same, and his whole book on the chief good everywhere abounds with the same opinions. Will you, then, invite Telamon to this kind of life to ease his grief? And should you observe any one of your friends under affliction, would you rather prescribe him a sturgeon than a treatise of Socrates? or advise him to listen to the music of a water organ rather than to Plato? or lay before him the beauty and variety of some garden, put a nosegay to his nose, burn perfumes before him, and bid him crown himself with a garland of roses and woodbines? Should you add one thing more, you would certainly wipe out all his grief.

110XIX. Epicurus must admit these arguments, or he must take out of his book what I just now said was a literal translation; or, rather, he must destroy his whole book, for it is crammed full of pleasures. We must inquire, then, how we can ease him of his grief who speaks in this manner:

My present state proceeds from fortune’s stings;

By birth I boast of a descent from kings;

Hence may you see from what a noble height

I’m sunk by fortune to this abject plight.

What! to ease his grief, must we mix him a cup of sweet wine, or something of that kind? Lo! the same poet presents us with another sentiment somewhere else:

I, Hector, once so great, now claim your aid.

We should assist her, for she looks out for help:

Where shall I now apply, where seek support?

Where hence betake me, or to whom resort?”

No means remain of comfort or of joy,

In flames my palace, and in ruins Troy;

Each wall, so late superb, deformed nods,

And not an altar’s left t’ appease the Gods.

You know what should follow, and particularly this:

Of father, country, and of friends bereft,

Not one of all these sumptuous temples left;

Which, while the fortune of our house did stand,

With rich wrought ceilings spoke the artist’s hand.

O excellent poet! though despised by those who sing the verses of Euphorion. He is sensible that all things which come on a sudden are harder to be borne. Therefore, when he had set off the riches of Priam to the best advantage, which had the appearance of a long continuance, what does he add?

Lo! these all perish’d in one blazing pile;

The foe old Priam of his life beguiled,

And with his blood, thy altar, Jove, defiled.

Admirable poetry! There is something mournful in the subject, as well as in the words and measure. We must drive away this grief of hers: how is that to be done? Shall we lay her on a bed of down; introduce a singer; 111shall we burn cedar, or present here with some pleasant liquor, and provide her something to eat? Are these the good things which remove the most afflicting grief? For you but just now said you knew of no other good. I should agree with Epicurus that we ought to be called off from grief to contemplate good things, if we could only agree upon what was good.

XX. It may be said, What! do you imagine Epicurus really meant this, and that he maintained anything so sensual? Indeed I do not imagine so, for I am sensible that he has uttered many excellent things and sentiments, and delivered maxims of great weight. Therefore, as I said before, I am speaking of his acuteness, not of his morals. Though he should hold those pleasures in contempt which he just now commended, yet I must remember wherein he places the chief good. For he was not contented with barely saying this, but he has explained what he meant: he says that taste, and embraces, and sports, and music, and those forms which affect the eyes with pleasure, are the chief good. Have I invented this? have I misrepresented him? I should be glad to be confuted; for what am I endeavoring at but to clear up truth in every question? Well, but the same man says that pleasure is at its height where pain ceases, and that to be free from all pain is the very greatest pleasure. Here are three very great mistakes in a very few words. One is, that he contradicts himself; for, but just now, he could not imagine anything good unless the senses were in a manner tickled with some pleasure; but now he says that to be free from pain is the highest pleasure. Can any one contradict himself more? The next mistake is, that where there is naturally a threefold division—the first, to be pleased; next, to be in pain; the last, to be affected neither by pleasure nor pain—he imagines the first and the last to be the same, and makes no difference between pleasure and a cessation of pain. The last mistake he falls into in common with some others, which is this: that as virtue is the most desirable thing, and as philosophy has been investigated with a view to the attainment of it, he has separated the chief good from virtue. But he commends virtue, and that frequently; and indeed C. Gracchus, when he had made the 112largest distributions of the public money, and had exhausted the treasury, nevertheless spoke much of defending the treasury. What signifies what men say when we see what they do? That Piso, who was surnamed Frugal, had always harangued against the law that was proposed for distributing the corn; but when it had passed, though a man of consular dignity, he came to receive the corn. Gracchus observed Piso standing in the court, and asked him, in the hearing of the people, how it was consistent for him to take corn by a law he had himself opposed. “It was,” said he, “against your distributing my goods to every man as you thought proper; but, as you do so, I claim my share.” Did not this grave and wise man sufficiently show that the public revenue was dissipated by the Sempronian law? Read Gracchus’s speeches, and you will pronounce him the advocate of the treasury. Epicurus denies that any one can live pleasantly who does not lead a life of virtue; he denies that fortune has any power over a wise man; he prefers a spare diet to great plenty, and maintains that a wise man is always happy. All these things become a philosopher to say, but they are not consistent with pleasure. But the reply is, that he doth not mean that pleasure: let him mean any pleasure, it must be such a one as makes no part of virtue. But suppose we are mistaken as to his pleasure; are we so, too, as to his pain? I maintain, therefore, the impropriety of language which that man uses, when talking of virtue, who would measure every great evil by pain.

XXI. And indeed the Epicureans, those best of men—for there is no order of men more innocent—complain that I take great pains to inveigh against Epicurus. We are rivals, I suppose, for some honor or distinction. I place the chief good in the mind, he in the body; I in virtue, he in pleasure; and the Epicureans are up in arms, and implore the assistance of their neighbors, and many are ready to fly to their aid. But as for my part, I declare that I am very indifferent about the matter, and that I consider the whole discussion which they are so anxious about at an end. For what! is the contention about the Punic war? on which very subject, though M. Cato and L. Lentulus were of different opinions, still there was no 113difference between them. But these men behave with too much heat, especially as the opinions which they would uphold are no very spirited ones, and such as they dare not plead for either in the senate or before the assembly of the people, or before the army or the censors. But, however, I will argue with them another time, and with such a disposition that no quarrel shall arise between us; for I shall be ready to yield to their opinions when founded on truth. Only I must give them this advice: That were it ever so true, that a wise man regards nothing but the body, or, to express myself with more decency, never does anything except what is expedient, and views all things with exclusive reference to his own advantage, as such things are not very commendable, they should confine them to their own breasts, and leave off talking with that parade of them.

XXII. What remains is the opinion of the Cyrenaics, who think that men grieve when anything happens unexpectedly. And that is indeed, as I said before, a great aggravation of a misfortune; and I know that it appeared so to Chrysippus—“Whatever falls out unexpected is so much the heavier.” But the whole question does not turn on this; though the sudden approach of an enemy sometimes occasions more confusion than it would if you had expected him, and a sudden storm at sea throws the sailors into a greater fright than one which they have foreseen; and it is the same in many other cases. But when you carefully consider the nature of what was expected, you will find nothing more than that all things which come on a sudden appear greater; and this upon two accounts: first of all, because you have not time to consider how great the accident is; and, secondly, because you are probably persuaded that you could have guarded against it had you foreseen if, and therefore the misfortune, having been seemingly encountered by your own fault, makes your grief the greater. That it is so, time evinces; which, as it advances, brings with it so much mitigation that though the same misfortunes continue, the grief not only becomes the less, but in some cases is entirely removed. Many Carthaginians were slaves at Rome, and many Macedonians, when Perseus their king was taken prisoner. I saw, 114too, when I was a young man, some Corinthians in the Peloponnesus. They might all have lamented with Andromache,

All these I saw......;

but they had perhaps given over lamenting themselves, for by their countenances, and speech, and other gestures you might have taken them for Argives or Sicyonians. And I myself was more concerned at the ruined walls of Corinth than the Corinthians themselves were, whose minds by frequent reflection and time had become callous to such sights. I have read a book of Clitomachus, which he sent to his fellow-citizens who were prisoners, to comfort them after the destruction of Carthage. There is in it a treatise written by Carneades, which, as Clitomachus says, he had inserted into his book; the subject was, “That it appeared probable that a wise man would grieve at the state of subjection of his country,” and all the arguments which Carneades used against this proposition are set down in the book. There the philosopher applies such a strong medicine to a fresh grief as would be quite unnecessary in one of any continuance; nor, if this very book had been sent to the captives some years after, would it have found any wounds to cure, but only scars; for grief, by a gentle progress and slow degrees, wears away imperceptibly. Not that the circumstances which gave rise to it are altered, or can be, but that custom teaches what reason should—that those things which before seemed to be of some consequence are of no such great importance, after all.

XXIII. It may be said, What occasion is there to apply to reason, or to any sort of consolation such as we generally make use of, to mitigate the grief of the afflicted? For we have this argument always at hand, that nothing ought to appear unexpected. But how will any one be enabled to bear his misfortunes the better by knowing that it is unavoidable that such things should happen to man? Saying this subtracts nothing from the sum of the grief: it only asserts that nothing has fallen out but what might have been anticipated; and yet this manner of speaking has some little consolation in it, though I apprehend not a great deal. Therefore those unlooked-for things have not so much force as to give rise to all our 115grief; the blow perhaps may fall the heavier, but whatever happens does not appear the greater on that account. No, it is the fact of its having happened lately, and not of its having befallen us unexpectedly, that makes it seem the greater. There are two ways, then, of discerning the truth, not only of things that seem evil, but of those that have the appearance of good. For we either inquire into the nature of the thing, of what description, and magnitude, and importance it is—as sometimes with regard to poverty, the burden of which we may lighten when by our disputations we show how few things nature requires, and of what a trifling kind they are—or, without any subtle arguing, we refer them to examples, as here we instance a Socrates, there a Diogenes, and then again that line in Cæcilius,

Wisdom is oft conceal’d in mean attire.

For as poverty is of equal weight with all, what reason can be given why what was borne by Fabricius should be spoken of by any one else as unsupportable when it falls upon themselves? Of a piece with this is that other way of comforting, which consists in pointing out that nothing has happened but what is common to human nature; for this argument doth not only inform us what human nature is, but implies that all things are tolerable which others have borne and are bearing.

XXIV. Is poverty the subject? They tell you of many who have submitted to it with patience. Is it the contempt of honors? They acquaint you with some who never enjoyed any, and were the happier for it; and of those who have preferred a private retired life to public employment, mentioning their names with respect; they tell you of the verse40 of that most powerful king who praises an old man, and pronounces him happy because he was unknown to fame and seemed likely to arrive at the hour of death in obscurity and without notice. Thus, too, they have examples for those who are deprived of their children: they who are under any great grief are comforted by instances of like affliction; and thus the endurance 116of every misfortune is rendered more easy by the fact of others having undergone the same, and the fate of others causes what has happened to appear less important than it has been previously thought, and reflection thus discovers to us how much opinion had imposed on us. And this is what the Telamon declares, “I, when my son was born,” etc.; and thus Theseus, “I on my future misery did dwell;” and Anaxagoras, “I knew my son was mortal.” All these men, by frequently reflecting on human affairs, had discovered that they were by no means to be estimated by the opinion of the multitude; and, indeed, it seems to me to be pretty much the same case with those who consider beforehand as with those who derive their remedies from time, excepting that a kind of reason cures the one, and the other remedy is provided by nature; by which we discover (and this contains the whole marrow of the matter) that what was imagined to be the greatest evil is by no means so great as to defeat the happiness of life. And the effect of this is, that the blow is greater by reason of its not having been foreseen, and not, as they suppose, that when similar misfortunes befall two different people, that man only is affected with grief whom this calamity has befallen unexpectedly. So that some persons, under the oppression of grief, are said to have borne it actually worse for hearing of this common condition of man, that we are born under such conditions as render it impossible for a man to be exempt from all evil.

XXV. For this reason Carneades, as I see our friend Antiochus writes, used to blame Chrysippus for commending these verses of Euripides:

Man, doom’d to care, to pain, disease, and strife,

Walks his short journey thro’ the vale of life:

Watchful attends the cradle and the grave,

And passing generations longs to save:

Last, dies himself: yet wherefore should we mourn?

For man must to his kindred dust return;

Submit to the destroying hand of fate,

As ripen’d ears the harvest-sickle wait.41

117He would not allow a speech of this kind to avail at all to the cure of our grief, for he said it was a lamentable case itself that we were fallen into the hands of such a cruel fate; and that a speech like that, preaching up comfort from the misfortunes of another, was a comfort adapted only to those of a malevolent disposition. But to me it appears far otherwise; for the necessity of bearing what is the common condition of humanity forbids your resisting the will of the Gods, and reminds you that you are a man, which reflection greatly alleviates grief; and the enumeration of these examples is not produced with a view to please those of a malevolent disposition, but in order that any one in affliction may be induced to bear what he observes many others have previously borne with tranquillity and moderation. For they who are falling to pieces, and cannot hold together through the greatness of their grief, should be supported by all kinds of assistance. From whence Chrysippus thinks that grief is called λύπη, as it were λύσις, that is to say, a dissolution of the whole man—the whole of which I think may be pulled up by the roots by explaining, as I said at the beginning, the cause of grief; for it is nothing else but an opinion and judgment formed of a present acute evil. And thus any bodily pain, let it be ever so grievous, may be endurable where any hopes are proposed of some considerable good; and we receive such consolation from a virtuous and illustrious life that they who lead such lives are seldom attacked by grief, or but slightly affected by it.

XXVI. But as besides this opinion of great evil there is this other added also—that we ought to lament what has happened, that it is right so to do, and part of our duty, then is brought about that terrible disorder of mind, grief. And it is to this opinion that we owe all those various and horrid kinds of lamentation, that neglect of our persons, that womanish tearing of our cheeks, that striking on our thighs, breasts, and heads. Thus Agamemnon, in Homer and in Accius,

Tears in his grief his uncomb’d locks;42

from whence comes that pleasant saying of Bion, that the 118foolish king in his sorrow tore away the hairs of his head, imagining that his grief would be alleviated by baldness. But men do all these things from being persuaded that they ought to do so. And thus Æschines inveighs against Demosthenes for sacrificing within seven days after the death of his daughter. But with what eloquence, with what fluency, does he attack him! what sentiments does he collect! what words does he hurl against him! You may see by this that an orator may do anything; but nobody would approve of such license if it were not that we have an idea innate in our minds that every good man ought to lament the loss of a relation as bitterly as possible. And it is owing to this that some men, when in sorrow, betake themselves to deserts, as Homer says of Bellerophon:

Distracted in his mind,

Forsook by heaven, forsaking human kind,

Wide o’er the Aleïan field he chose to stray,

A long, forlorn, uncomfortable way!43

And thus Niobe is feigned to have been turned into stone, from her never speaking, I suppose, in her grief. But they imagine Hecuba to have been converted into a bitch, from her rage and bitterness of mind. There are others who love to converse with solitude itself when in grief, as the nurse in Ennius,

Fain would I to the heavens find earth relate

Medea’s ceaseless woes and cruel fate.44

XXVII. Now all these things are done in grief, from a persuasion of their truth and propriety and necessity; and it is plain that those who behave thus do so from a conviction of its being their duty; for should these mourners by chance drop their grief, and either act or speak for a moment in a more calm or cheerful manner, they presently check themselves and return to their lamentations again, and blame themselves for having been guilty of any intermissions 119from their grief; and parents and masters generally correct children not by words only, but by blows, if they show any levity by either word or deed when the family is under affliction, and, as it were, oblige them to be sorrowful. What! does it not appear, when you have ceased to mourn, and have discovered that your grief has been ineffectual, that the whole of that mourning was voluntary on your part? What does that man say in Terence who punishes himself, the Self-tormentor?

I think I do my son less harm, O Chremes,

As long as I myself am miserable.

He determines to be miserable: and can any one determine on anything against his will?

I well might think that I deserved all evil.

He would think he deserved any misfortune were he otherwise than miserable! Therefore, you see, the evil is in opinion, not in nature. How is it when some things do of themselves prevent your grieving at them? as in Homer, so many died and were buried daily that they had not leisure to grieve: where you find these lines—

The great, the bold, by thousands daily fall,

And endless were the grief to weep for all.

Eternal sorrows what avails to shed?

Greece honors not with solemn fasts the dead:

Enough when death demands the brave to pay

The tribute of a melancholy day.

One chief with patience to the grave resign’d,

Our care devolves on others left behind.45

Therefore it is in our own power to lay aside grief upon occasion; and is there any opportunity (seeing the thing is in our own power) that we should let slip of getting rid of care and grief? It was plain that the friends of Cnæus Pompeius, when they saw him fainting under his wounds, at the very moment of that most miserable and bitter sight were under great uneasiness how they themselves, 120surrounded by the enemy as they were, should escape, and were employed in nothing but encouraging the rowers and aiding their escape; but when they reached Tyre, they began to grieve and lament over him. Therefore, as fear with them, prevailed over grief, cannot reason and true philosophy have the same effect with a wise man?

XXVIII. But what is there more effectual to dispel grief than the discovery that it answers no purpose, and has been undergone to no account? Therefore, if we can get rid of it, we need never have been subject to it. It must be acknowledged, then, that men take up grief wilfully and knowingly; and this appears from the patience of those who, after they have been exercised in afflictions and are better able to bear whatever befalls them, suppose themselves hardened against fortune; as that person in Euripides,

Had this the first essay of fortune been,

And I no storms thro’ all my life had seen,

Wild as a colt I’d broke from reason’s sway;

But frequent griefs have taught me to obey.46

As, then, the frequent bearing of misery makes grief the lighter, we must necessarily perceive that the cause and original of it does not lie in the calamity itself. Your principal philosophers, or lovers of wisdom, though they have not yet arrived at perfect wisdom, are not they sensible that they are in the greatest evil? For they are foolish, and foolishness is the greatest of all evils, and yet they lament not. How shall we account for this? Because opinion is not fixed upon that kind of evil, it is not our opinion that it is right, meet, and our duty to be uneasy because we are not all wise men. Whereas this opinion is strongly affixed to that uneasiness where mourning is concerned, which is the greatest of all grief. Therefore Aristotle, when he blames some ancient philosophers for imagining that by their genius they had brought philosophy 121to the highest perfection, says, they must be either extremely foolish or extremely vain; but that he himself could see that great improvements had been made therein in a few years, and that philosophy would in a little time arrive at perfection. And Theophrastus is reported to have reproached nature at his death for giving to stags and crows so long a life, which was of no use to them, but allowing only so short a span to men, to whom length of days would have been of the greatest use; for if the life of man could have been lengthened, it would have been able to provide itself with all kinds of learning, and with arts in the greatest perfection. He lamented, therefore, that he was dying just when he had begun to discover these. What! does not every grave and distinguished philosopher acknowledge himself ignorant of many things, and confess that there are many things which he must learn over and over again? And yet, though these men are sensible that they are standing still in the very midway of folly, than which nothing can be worse, they are under no great affliction, because no opinion that it is their duty to lament is ever mingled with this knowledge. What shall we say of those who think it unbecoming in a man to grieve? among whom we may reckon Q. Maximus, when he buried his son that had been consul, and L. Paulus, who lost two sons within a few days of one another. Of the same opinion was M. Cato, who lost his son just after he had been elected prætor, and many others, whose names I have collected in my book on Consolation. Now what made these men so easy, but their persuasion that grief and lamentation was not becoming in a man? Therefore, as some give themselves up to grief from an opinion that it is right so to do, they refrained themselves, from an opinion that it was discreditable; from which we may infer that grief is owing more to opinion than nature.

XXIX. It may be said, on the other side, Who is so mad as to grieve of his own accord? Pain proceeds from nature, which you must submit to, say they, agreeably to what even your own Crantor teaches, for it presses and gains upon you unavoidably, and cannot possibly be resisted. So that the very same Oileus, in Sophocles, who had before comforted Telamon on the death of Ajax, on 122hearing of the death of his own son, is broken-hearted. On this alteration of his mind we have these lines:

Show me the man so well by wisdom taught

That what he charges to another’s fault,

When like affliction doth himself betide,

True to his own wise counsel will abide.47

Now, when they urge these things, their endeavor is to prove that nature is absolutely and wholly irresistible; and yet the same people allow that we take greater grief on ourselves than nature requires. What madness is it, then, in us to require the same from others? But there are many reasons for our taking grief on us. The first is from the opinion of some evil, on the discovery and certainty of which grief comes of course. Besides, many people are persuaded that they are doing something very acceptable to the dead when they lament bitterly over them. To these may be added a kind of womanish superstition, in imagining that when they have been stricken by the afflictions sent by the Gods, to acknowledge themselves afflicted and humbled by them is the readiest way of appeasing them. But most men appear to be unaware what contradictions these things are full of. They commend those who die calmly, but they blame those who can bear the loss of another with the same calmness, as if it were possible that it should be true, as is occasionally said in love speeches, that any one can love another more than himself. There is, indeed, something excellent in this, and, if you examine it, something no less just than true, that we love those who ought to be most dear to us as well as we love ourselves; but to love them more than ourselves is absolutely impossible; nor is it desirable in friendship that I should love my friend more than myself, or that he should love me so; for this would occasion much confusion in life, and break in upon all the duties of it.

123XXX. But we will speak of this another time: at present it is sufficient not to attribute our misery to the loss of our friends, nor to love them more than, if they themselves could be sensible of our conduct, they would approve of, or at least not more than we do ourselves. Now as to what they say, that some are not at all appeased by our consolations; and, moreover, as to what they add, that the comforters themselves acknowledge they are miserable when fortune varies the attack and falls on them—in both these cases the solution is easy: for the fault here is not in nature, but in our own folly; and much may be said against folly. But men who do not admit of consolation seem to bespeak misery for themselves; and they who cannot bear their misfortunes with that temper which they recommend to others are not more faulty in this particular than most other persons; for we see that covetous men find fault with others who are covetous, as do the vainglorious with those who appear too wholly devoted to the pursuit of glory. For it is the peculiar characteristic of folly to perceive the vices of others, but to forget its own. But since we find that grief is removed by length of time, we have the greatest proof that the strength of it depends not merely on time, but on the daily consideration of it. For if the cause continues the same, and the man be the same, how can there be any alteration in the grief, if there is no change in what occasioned the grief, nor in him who grieves? Therefore it is from daily reflecting that there is no real evil in the circumstance for which you grieve, and not from the length of time, that you procure a remedy for your grief.

XXXI. Here some people talk of moderate grief; but if such be natural, what occasion is there for consolation? for nature herself will determine, the measure of it: but if it depends on and is caused by opinion, the whole opinion should be destroyed. I think that it has been sufficiently said, that grief arises from an opinion of some present evil, which includes this belief, that it is incumbent on us to grieve. To this definition Zeno has added, very justly, that the opinion of this present evil should be recent. Now this word recent they explain thus: those are not the only recent things which happened a little while ago; but as 124long as there shall be any force, or vigor, or freshness in that imagined evil, so long it is entitled to the name of recent. Take the case of Artemisia, the wife of Mausolus, King of Caria, who made that noble sepulchre at Halicarnassus; while she lived, she lived in grief, and died of it, being worn out by it, for that opinion was always recent with her: but you cannot call that recent which has already begun to decay through time. Now the duty of a comforter is, to remove grief entirely, to quiet it, or draw it off as much as you can, or else to keep it under, and prevent its spreading any further, and to divert one’s attention to other matters. There are some who think, with Cleanthes, that the only duty of a comforter is to prove that what one is lamenting is by no means an evil. Others, as the Peripatetics, prefer urging that the evil is not great. Others, with Epicurus, seek to divert your attention from the evil to good: some think it sufficient to show that nothing has happened but what you had reason to expect; and this is the practice of the Cyrenaics. But Chrysippus thinks that the main thing in comforting is, to remove the opinion from the person who is grieving, that to grieve is his bounden duty. There are others who bring together all these various kinds of consolations, for people are differently affected; as I have done myself in my book on Consolation; for as my own mind was much disordered, I have attempted in that book to discover every method of cure. But the proper season is as much to be attended to in the cure of the mind as of the body; as Prometheus in Æschylus, on its being said to him,

I think, Prometheus, you this tenet hold,

That all men’s reason should their rage control?


Yes, when one reason properly applies;

Ill-timed advice will make the storm but rise.48

XXXII. But the principal medicine to be applied in consolation is, to maintain either that it is no evil at all, 125or a very inconsiderable one: the next best to that is, to speak of the common condition of life, having a view, if possible, to the state of the person whom you comfort particularly. The third is, that it is folly to wear one’s self out with grief which can avail nothing. For the comfort of Cleanthes is suitable only for a wise man, who is in no need of any comfort at all; for could you persuade one in grief that nothing is an evil but what is base, you would not only cure him of grief, but folly. But the time for such precepts is not well chosen. Besides, Cleanthes does not seem to me sufficiently aware that affliction may very often proceed from that very thing which he himself allows to be the greatest misfortune. For what shall we say? When Socrates had convinced Alcibiades, as we are told, that he had no distinctive qualifications as a man different from other people, and that, in fact, there was no difference between him, though a man of the highest rank, and a porter; and when Alcibiades became uneasy at this, and entreated Socrates, with tears in his eyes, to make him a man of virtue, and to cure him of that mean position; what shall we say to this, Cleanthes? Was there no evil in what afflicted Alcibiades thus? What strange things does Lycon say? who, making light of grief, says that it arises from trifles, from things that affect our fortune or bodies, not from the evils of the mind. What, then? did not the grief of Alcibiades proceed from the defects and evils of the mind? I have already said enough of Epicurus’s consolation.

XXXIII. Nor is that consolation much to be relied on, though it is frequently practised, and sometimes has some effect, namely, “That you are not alone in this.” It has its effect, as I said, but not always, nor with every person, for some reject it; but much depends on the application of it; for you ought rather to show, not how men in general have been affected with such evils, but how men of sense have borne them. As to Chrysippus’s method, it is certainly founded in truth; but it is difficult to apply it in time of distress. It is a work of no small difficulty to persuade a person in affliction that he grieves merely because he thinks it right so to do. Certainly, then, as in pleadings we do not state all cases alike (if I may adopt 126the language of lawyers for a moment), but adapt what we have to say to the time, to the nature of the subject under debate, and to the person; so, too, in alleviating grief, regard should be had to what kind of cure the party to be comforted can admit of. But, somehow or other, we have rambled from what you originally proposed. For your question was concerning a wise man, with whom nothing can have the appearance of evil that is not dishonorable; or at least, anything else would seem so small an evil that by his wisdom he would so overmatch it as to make it wholly disappear; and such a man makes no addition to his grief through opinion, and never conceives it right to torment himself above measure, nor to wear himself out with grief, which is the meanest thing imaginable. Reason, however, it seems, has demonstrated (though it was not directly our object at the moment to inquire whether anything can be called an evil except what is base) that it is in our power to discern that all the evil which there is in affliction has nothing natural in it, but is contracted by our own voluntary judgment of it, and the error of opinion.

XXXIV. But the kind of affliction of which I have treated is that which is the greatest; in order that when we have once got rid of that, it may appear a business of less consequence to look after remedies for the others. For there are certain things which are usually said about poverty; and also certain statements ordinarily applied to retired and undistinguished life. There are particular treatises on banishment, on the ruin of one’s country, on slavery, on weakness, on blindness, and on every incident that can come under the name of an evil. The Greeks divide these into different treatises and distinct books; but they do it for the sake of employment: not but that all such discussions are full of entertainment. And yet, as physicians, in curing the whole body, attend to even the most insignificant part of the body which is at all disordered, so does philosophy act, after it has removed grief in general; still, if any other deficiency exists—should poverty bite, should ignominy sting, should banishment bring a dark cloud over us, or should any of those things which I have just mentioned appear, there is for each its appropriate 127consolation, which you shall hear whenever you please. But we must have recourse again to the same original principle, that a wise man is free from all sorrow, because it is vain, because it answers no purpose, because it is not founded in nature, but on opinion and prejudice, and is engendered by a kind of invitation to grieve, when once men have imagined that it is their duty to do so. When, then, we have subtracted what is altogether voluntary, that mournful uneasiness will be removed; yet some little anxiety, some slight pricking, will still remain. They may indeed call this natural, provided they give it not that horrid, solemn, melancholy name of grief, which can by no means consist with wisdom. But how various and how bitter are the roots of grief! Whatever they are, I propose, after having felled the trunk, to destroy them all; even if it should be necessary, by allotting a separate dissertation to each, for I have leisure enough to do so, whatever time it may take up. But the principle of every uneasiness is the same, though they may appear under different names. For envy is an uneasiness; so are emulation, detraction, anguish, sorrow, sadness, tribulation, lamentation, vexation, grief, trouble, affliction, and despair. The Stoics define all these different feelings; and all those words which I have mentioned belong to different things, and do not, as they seem, express the same ideas; but they are to a certain extent distinct, as I shall make appear perhaps in another place. These are those fibres of the roots which, as I said at first, must be traced back and cut off and destroyed, so that not one shall remain. You say it is a great and difficult undertaking: who denies it? But what is there of any excellency which has not its difficulty? Yet philosophy undertakes to effect it, provided we admit its superintendence. But enough of this. The other books, whenever you please, shall be ready for you here or anywhere else.


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 Græcia, and in some of the 129largest 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 Cæcus, which Panætius 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 130not 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 Lælius 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 131spread 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 practised on other occasions, I have adhered closely to in my Tusculan Disputations. 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?

132A. 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 πάθη 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 πάθος) “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 133that 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 βούλησις, 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 134of 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.

135But 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.

136IX. 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 θύμωσις. 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 κατηγορήματα, 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 νοσήματα; and also those feelings which are in opposition 137to these diseases, and which admit certain faulty distastes or loathings; then come sicknesses, which are called ἀῤῥωστήματα 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 φιλογυνεία: 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 138belief 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; 139but 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 140soundness 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 141said, 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 κακία, 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 142hang 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 143a 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 144are 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 not 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 145not 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 146best 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;

His laurels at my feet he shall resign;

Not but I know, before I reach his heart,

First on myself a wound he will impart.

I hate the man; enraged I fight, and straight

In action we had been, but that I wait

Till each his sword had fitted to his hand.

My rage I scarce can keep within command.

147XXII. 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,49 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 148furious, 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 Nemæan 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 Scipio50 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 149are 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 e’er achieved

Was, when his single arm the Greeks relieved.

Quitting the field; urged on by rising rage,

Forced the declining troops again t’engage.

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 Sphærus’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 150not 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.51

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 Æsopus 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.

151XXVI. 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 152is 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 153the 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 154disturbs 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,

Whate’er from fate or from the gods befell,

That human nature can support—52

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 155from 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 156of 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 Nævius is one thing—

’Tis joy indeed to hear my praises sung

By you, who are the theme of honor’s tongue—

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 Cæcilius says,

I hold the man of every sense bereaved

Who grants not Love to be of Gods the chief:

157Whose mighty power whate’er is good effects,

Who gives to each his beauty and defects:

Hence, health and sickness; wit and folly, hence,

The God that love and hatred doth dispense!

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

Who naked bodies first exposed to view.

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 Alcæus, who was 158distinguished 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 Dicæarchus 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,

And thine, dread ruler of the wat’ry store!

Oh! all ye winds, assist me!

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.

159XXXV. 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,

Then peace again. The man who seeks to fix

These restless feelings, and to subjugate

Them to some regular law, is just as wise

As one who’d try to lay down rules by which

Men should go mad.53

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 160instigation of which we see such contention as this between brothers:

Where was there ever impudence like thine?

Who on thy malice ever could refine?54

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,

Some new, unheard-of torment must invent.

Now, what were these inventions? Hear Thyestes:

My impious brother fain would have me eat

My children, and thus serves them up for meat.

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 161should 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, 162for 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.

163BOOK V.


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 164also 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 offences, 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 165ungrateful 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 Σόφοι, 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 166greatest 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 167to 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 168do 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 Atilius55, Quintus Cæpio56, Marcus Aquilius57; 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 169the 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 170noways 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 171happy? 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 172should 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.

173They 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. 174As 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 175a 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 inquiry 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.

176XII. Though Zeno the Cittiæan, 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 manner 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 177high 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, 178then, 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 despatched 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 Lacedæmonians 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 179produce 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 180must 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 181grief, 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 saith,

The wings of Sparta’s pride my counsels clipp’d.

And Africanus boasts,

Who, from beyond Mæotis to the place

Where the sun rises, deeds like mine can trace?

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.

182XVIII. 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,

As to be always strangers to defeat.

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 Lælius, 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 be disappointed by a vain people); but the point is, would you prefer, were it in your power, to be once such a consul as Lælius, 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.

183I 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. Lælius 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. Crassus58, and L. Cæsar59, those excellent men, so renowned both at home and abroad; and even M. Antonius60, the greatest orator whom I ever heard; and C. Cæsar, 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 Lælius; for 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.

XX. Dionysius exercised his tyranny over the Syracusans thirty-eight years, being but twenty-five years old 184when 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, 185the one for showing how he 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 happy61. 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 186to 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 quæstorship 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 187there 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 Achradinæ), 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 murders 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 188pleasures, 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.

189XXV. 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 190virtues, 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, 191Arpinum, 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 Lacedæmon troops of young men, with incredible earnestness contending together with their hands and feet, with their teeth and nails, nay, even ready to expire, rather than own themselves conquered. Is any country of barbarians more uncivilized or desolate than India? Yet they have among them some that are held for wise men, who never wear any clothes all their life long, and who bear the 192snow 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 hold together without happiness, nor happiness 193without 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 194Stoics, 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 Hieronymus62 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. Dinomachus63 and Callipho64 have coupled pleasure with honesty; but Diodorus65 the Peripatetic has joined indolence to honesty. These are the opinions that have some footing; for those of Aristo,66 Pyrrho,67 Herillus,68 and of some others, are quite out of date. Now let us see what weight these men have in 195them, 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, Hieronymus, 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, and, indeed, with all the rest of them; for who is there who is not sufficiently prepared against death and pain? I will begin, with your leave, with him whom we call soft and voluptuous. What! 196does 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 Anacharsis69 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 197from 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 minas, 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 198for 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 travelling over Egypt, his company not keeping up with him, he had some coarse bread presented him in a cottage, upon which he said, “Nothing ever seemed to him pleasanter 199than that bread.” They relate, too, of Socrates, that, once when he was walking very fast till the evening, on his being asked why he did so, his reply was that he was purchasing an appetite by walking, that he might sup the better. And do we not see what the Lacedæmonians 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 Lacedæmonian 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 Lacedæmonians. 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 200have 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;

But what I left, though excellent, is lost.

“What less than this,” says Aristotle, “could be inscribed on the tomb, not of a king, but an ox?” He said that he possessed those things when dead, which, in his lifetime, he could have no longer than 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 201this? 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, 202the 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, Panætius, 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 203and 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,70 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, 204who had served the office of prætor, 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 Homer71 was blind, but we observe 205his painting as well as his poetry. What country, what coast, what part of Greece, what military attacks, what dispositions of battle, what array, 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 206throat 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 207set 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.



I. There are many things in philosophy, my dear Brutus, which are not as yet fully explained to us, and particularly (as you very well know) that most obscure and difficult question concerning the Nature of the Gods, so extremely necessary both towards a knowledge of the human mind and the practice of true religion: concerning which the opinions of men are so various, and so different from each other, as to lead strongly to the inference that ignorance72 is the cause, or origin, of philosophy, and that the Academic philosophers have been prudent in refusing their assent to things uncertain: for what is more unbecoming to a wise man than to judge rashly? or what rashness is so unworthy of the gravity and stability of a philosopher as either to maintain false opinions, or, without the least hesitation, to support and defend what he has not thoroughly examined and does not clearly comprehend?

In the question now before us, the greater part of mankind have united to acknowledge that which is most probable, and which we are all by nature led to suppose, namely, that there are Gods. Protagoras73 doubted whether there were any. Diagoras the Melian and Theodorus of Cyrene entirely believed there were no such beings. But they who have affirmed that there are Gods, have expressed such a variety of sentiments on the subject, and the disagreement between them is so great, that it would be 210tiresome to enumerate their opinions; for they give us many statements respecting the forms of the Gods, and their places of abode, and the employment of their lives. And these are matters on which the philosophers differ with the most exceeding earnestness. But the most considerable part of the dispute is, whether they are wholly inactive, totally unemployed, and free from all care and administration of affairs; or, on the contrary, whether all things were made and constituted by them from the beginning; and whether they will continue to be actuated and governed by them to eternity. This is one of the greatest points in debate; and unless this is decided, mankind must necessarily remain in the greatest of errors, and ignorant of what is most important to be known.

II. For there are some philosophers, both ancient and modern, who have conceived that the Gods take not the least cognizance of human affairs. But if their doctrine be true, of what avail is piety, sanctity, or religion? for these are feelings and marks of devotion which are offered to the Gods by men with uprightness and holiness, on the ground that men are the objects of the attention of the Gods, and that many benefits are conferred by the immortal Gods on the human race. But if the Gods have neither the power nor the inclination to help us; if they take no care of us, and pay no regard to our actions; and if there is no single advantage which can possibly accrue to the life of man; then what reason can we have to pay any adoration, or any honors, or to prefer any prayers to them? Piety, like the other virtues, cannot have any connection with vain show or dissimulation; and without piety, neither sanctity nor religion can be supported; the total subversion of which must be attended with great confusion and disturbance in life.

I do not even know, if we cast off piety towards the Gods, but that faith, and all the associations of human life, and that most excellent of all virtues, justice, may perish with it.

There are other philosophers, and those, too, very great and illustrious men, who conceive the whole world to be directed and governed by the will and wisdom of the Gods; nor do they stop here, but conceive likewise that the Deities 211consult and provide for the preservation of mankind. For they think that the fruits, and the produce of the earth, and the seasons, and the variety of weather, and the change of climates, by which all the productions of the earth are brought to maturity, are designed by the immortal Gods for the use of man. They instance many other things, which shall be related in these books; and which would almost induce us to believe that the immortal Gods had made them all expressly and solely for the benefit and advantage of men. Against these opinions Carneades has advanced so much that what he has said should excite a desire in men who are not naturally slothful to search after truth; for there is no subject on which the learned as well as the unlearned differ so strenuously as in this; and since their opinions are so various, and so repugnant one to another, it is possible that none of them may be, and absolutely impossible that more than one should be, right.

III. Now, in a cause like this, I may be able to pacify well-meaning opposers, and to confute invidious censurers, so as to induce the latter to repent of their unreasonable contradiction, and the former to be glad to learn; for they who admonish one in a friendly spirit should be instructed, they who attack one like enemies should be repelled. But I observe that the several books which I have lately published74 have occasioned much noise and various discourse about them; some people wondering what the reason has been why I have applied myself so suddenly to the study of philosophy, and others desirous of knowing what my opinion is on such subjects. I likewise perceive that many people wonder at my following that philosophy75 chiefly which seems to take away the light, and to bury and envelop things in a kind of artificial night, and that I should so unexpectedly have taken up the defence of a school that has been long neglected and forsaken. But it is a mistake to suppose that this application to philosophical studies has been sudden on my part. I have applied 212myself to them from my youth, at no small expense of time and trouble; and I have been in the habit of philosophizing a great deal when I least seemed to think about it; for the truth of which I appeal to my orations, which are filled with quotations from philosophers, and to my intimacy with those very learned men who frequented my house and conversed daily with me, particularly Diodorus, Philo, Antiochus, and Posidonius,76 under whom I was bred; and if all the precepts of philosophy are to have reference to the conduct of life, I am inclined to think that I have advanced, both in public and private affairs, only such principles as may be supported by reason and authority.

IV. But if any one should ask what has induced me, in the decline of life, to write on these subjects, nothing is more easily answered; for when I found myself entirely disengaged from business, and the commonwealth reduced to the necessity of being governed by the direction and care of one man,77 I thought it becoming, for the sake of the public, to instruct my countrymen in philosophy, and that it would be of importance, and much to the honor and commendation of our city, to have such great and excellent subjects introduced in the Latin tongue. I the less repent of my undertaking, since I plainly see that I have excited in many a desire, not only of learning, but of writing; for we have had several Romans well grounded in the learning of the Greeks who were unable to communicate to their countrymen what they had learned, because they looked upon it as impossible to express that in Latin which they had received from the Greeks. In this point I think I have succeeded so well that what I have done is not, even in copiousness of expression, inferior to that language.

Another inducement to it was a melancholy disposition of mind, and the great and heavy oppression of fortune that was upon me; from which, if I could have found any surer remedy, I would not have sought relief in this pursuit. But I could procure ease by no means better than by not only applying myself to books, but by devoting myself 213to the examination of the whole body of philosophy. And every part and branch of this is readily discovered when every question is propounded in writing; for there is such an admirable continuation and series of things that each seems connected with the other, and all appear linked together and united.

V. Now, those men who desire to know my own private opinion on every particular subject have more curiosity than is necessary. For the force of reason in disputation is to be sought after rather than authority, since the authority of the teacher is often a disadvantage to those who are willing to learn; as they refuse to use their own judgment, and rely implicitly on him whom they make choice of for a preceptor. Nor could I ever approve this custom of the Pythagoreans, who, when they affirmed anything in disputation, and were asked why it was so, used to give this answer: “He himself has said it;” and this “he himself,” it seems, was Pythagoras. Such was the force of prejudice and opinion that his authority was to prevail even without argument or reason.

They who wonder at my being a follower of this sect in particular may find a satisfactory answer in my four books of Academical Questions. But I deny that I have undertaken the protection of what is neglected and forsaken; for the opinions of men do not die with them, though they may perhaps want the author’s explanation. This manner of philosophizing, of disputing all things and assuming nothing certainly, was begun by Socrates, revived by Arcesilaus, confirmed by Carneades, and has descended, with all its power, even to the present age; but I am informed that it is now almost exploded even in Greece. However, I do not impute that to any fault in the institution of the Academy, but to the negligence of mankind. If it is difficult to know all the doctrines of any one sect, how much more is it to know those of every sect! which, however, must necessarily be known to those who resolve, for the sake of discovering truth, to dispute for or against all philosophers without partiality.

I do not profess myself to be master of this difficult and noble faculty; but I do assert that I have endeavored to make myself so; and it is impossible that they who choose 214this manner of philosophizing should not meet at least with something worthy their pursuit. I have spoken more fully on this head in another place. But as some are too slow of apprehension, and some too careless, men stand in perpetual need of caution. For we are not people who believe that there is nothing whatever which is true; but we say that some falsehoods are so blended with all truths, and have so great a resemblance to them, that there is no certain rule for judging of or assenting to propositions; from which this maxim also follows, that many things are probable, which, though they are not evident to the senses, have still so persuasive and beautiful an aspect that a wise man chooses to direct his conduct by them.

VI. Now, to free myself from the reproach of partiality, I propose to lay before you the opinions of various philosophers concerning the nature of the Gods, by which means all men may judge which of them are consistent with truth; and if all agree together, or if any one shall be found to have discovered what may be absolutely called truth, I will then give up the Academy as vain and arrogant. So I may cry out, in the words of Statius, in the Synephebi,

Ye Gods, I call upon, require, pray, beseech, entreat, and implore the attention of my countrymen all, both young and old;

yet not on so trifling an occasion as when the person in the play complains that,

In this city we have discovered a most flagrant iniquity: here is a professed courtesan, who refuses money from her lover;

but that they may attend, know, and consider what sentiments they ought to preserve concerning religion, piety, sanctity, ceremonies, faith, oaths, temples, shrines, and solemn sacrifices; what they ought to think of the auspices over which I preside;78 for all these have relation to the present question. The manifest disagreement among the most learned on this subject creates doubts in those who imagine they have some certain knowledge of the subject.

Which fact I have often taken notice of elsewhere, and 215I did so more especially at the discussion that was held at my friend C. Cotta’s concerning the immortal Gods, and which was carried on with the greatest care, accuracy, and precision; for coming to him at the time of the Latin holidays,79 according to his own invitation and message from him, I found him sitting in his study,80 and in a discourse with C. Velleius, the senator, who was then reputed by the Epicureans the ablest of our countrymen. Q. Lucilius Balbus was likewise there, a great proficient in the doctrine of the Stoics, and esteemed equal to the most eminent of the Greeks in that part of knowledge. As soon as Cotta saw me, You are come, says he, very seasonably; for I am having a dispute with Velleius on an important subject, which, considering the nature of your studies, is not improper for you to join in.

VII. Indeed, says I, I think I am come very seasonably, as you say; for here are three chiefs of three principal sects met together. If M. Piso81 was present, no sect of philosophy that is in any esteem would want an advocate. If Antiochus’s book, replies Cotta, which he lately sent to Balbus, says true, you have no occasion to wish for your friend Piso; for Antiochus is of the opinion that the Stoics do not differ from the Peripatetics in fact, though they do in words; and I should be glad to know what you think of that book, Balbus. I? says he. I wonder that Antiochus, a man of the clearest apprehension, should not see what a vast difference there is between the Stoics, who distinguish the honest and the profitable, not only in name, but absolutely in kind, and the Peripatetics, who blend the honest with the profitable in such a manner that they differ only in degrees and proportion, and not in kind. This is not a little difference in words, but a great one in things; 216but of this hereafter. Now, if you think fit, let us return to what we began with.

With all my heart, says Cotta. But that this visitor (looking at me), who is just come in, may not be ignorant of what we are upon, I will inform him that we were discoursing on the nature of the Gods; concerning which, as it is a subject that always appeared very obscure to me, I prevailed on Velleius to give us the sentiments of Epicurus. Therefore, continues he, if it is not troublesome, Velleius, repeat what you have already stated to us. I will, says he, though this new-comer will be no advocate for me, but for you; for you have both, adds he, with a smile, learned from the same Philo to be certain of nothing.82 What we have learned from him, replied I, Cotta will discover; but I would not have you think I am come as an assistant to him, but as an auditor, with an impartial and unbiassed mind, and not bound by any obligation to defend any particular principle, whether I like or dislike it.

VIII. After this, Velleius, with the confidence peculiar to his sect, dreading nothing so much as to seem to doubt of anything, began as if he had just then descended from the council of the Gods, and Epicurus’s intervals of worlds. Do not attend, says he, to these idle and imaginary tales; nor to the operator and builder of the World, the God of Plato’s Timæus; nor to the old prophetic dame, the Πρόνοια of the Stoics, which the Latins call Providence; nor to that round, that burning, revolving deity, the World, endowed with sense and understanding; the prodigies and wonders, not of inquisitive philosophers, but of dreamers!

For with what eyes of the mind was your Plato able to see that workhouse of such stupendous toil, in which he makes the world to be modelled and built by God? What materials, what tools, what bars, what machines, what servants, were employed in so vast a work? How could the air, fire, water, and earth pay obedience and submit to the will of the architect? >From whence arose those five forms,83 of which the rest were composed, so aptly contributing to frame the mind and produce the senses? It 217is tedious to go through all, as they are of such a sort that they look more like things to be desired than to be discovered.

But, what is more remarkable, he gives us a world which has been not only created, but, if I may so say, in a manner formed with hands, and yet he says it is eternal. Do you conceive him to have the least skill in natural philosophy who is capable of thinking anything to be everlasting that had a beginning? For what can possibly ever have been put together which cannot be dissolved again? Or what is there that had a beginning which will not have an end? If your Providence, Lucilius, is the same as Plato’s God, I ask you, as before, who were the assistants, what were the engines, what was the plan and preparation of the whole work? If it is not the same, then why did she make the world mortal, and not everlasting, like Plato’s God?

IX. But I would demand of you both, why these world-builders started up so suddenly, and lay dormant for so many ages? For we are not to conclude that, if there was no world, there were therefore no ages. I do not now speak of such ages as are finished by a certain number of days and nights in annual courses; for I acknowledge that those could not be without the revolution of the world; but there was a certain eternity from infinite time, not measured by any circumscription of seasons; but how that was in space we cannot understand, because we cannot possibly have even the slightest idea of time before time was. I desire, therefore, to know, Balbus, why this Providence of yours was idle for such an immense space of time? Did she avoid labor? But that could have no effect on the Deity; nor could there be any labor, since all nature, air, fire, earth, and water would obey the divine essence. What was it that incited the Deity to act the part of an ædile, to illuminate and decorate the world? If it was in order that God might be the better accommodated in his habitation, then he must have been dwelling an infinite length of time before in darkness as in a dungeon. But do we imagine that he was afterward delighted with that variety with which we see the heaven and earth adorned? What entertainment could that be to the Deity? If it was any, he would not have been without it so long.

218Or were these things made, as you almost assert, by God for the sake of men? Was it for the wise? If so, then this great design was adopted for the sake of a very small number. Or for the sake of fools? First of all, there was no reason why God should consult the advantage of the wicked; and, further, what could be his object in doing so, since all fools are, without doubt, the most miserable of men, chiefly because they are fools? For what can we pronounce more deplorable than folly? Besides, there are many inconveniences in life which the wise can learn to think lightly of by dwelling rather on the advantages which they receive; but which fools are unable to avoid when they are coming, or to bear when they are come.

X. They who affirm the world to be an animated and intelligent being have by no means discovered the nature of the mind, nor are able to conceive in what form that essence can exist; but of that I shall speak more hereafter. At present I must express my surprise at the weakness of those who endeavor to make it out to be not only animated and immortal, but likewise happy, and round, because Plato says that is the most beautiful form; whereas I think a cylinder, a square, a cone, or a pyramid more beautiful. But what life do they attribute to that round Deity? Truly it is a being whirled about with a celerity to which nothing can be even conceived by the imagination as equal; nor can I imagine how a settled mind and happy life can consist in such motion, the least degree of which would be troublesome to us. Why, therefore, should it not be considered troublesome also to the Deity? For the earth itself, as it is part of the world, is part also of the Deity. We see vast tracts of land barren and uninhabitable; some, because they are scorched by the too near approach of the sun; others, because they are bound up with frost and snow, through the great distance which the sun is from them. Therefore, if the world is a Deity, as these are parts of the world, some of the Deity’s limbs must be said to be scorched, and some frozen.

These are your doctrines, Lucilius; but what those of others are I will endeavor to ascertain by tracing them back from the earliest of ancient philosophers. Thales 219the Milesian, who first inquired after such subjects, asserted water to be the origin of things, and that God was that mind which formed all things from water. If the Gods can exist without corporeal sense, and if there can be a mind without a body, why did he annex a mind to water?

It was Anaximander’s opinion that the Gods were born; that after a great length of time they died; and that they are innumerable worlds. But what conception can we possibly have of a Deity who is not eternal?

Anaximenes, after him, taught that the air is God, and that he was generated, and that he is immense, infinite, and always in motion; as if air, which has no form, could possibly be God; for the Deity must necessarily be not only of some form or other, but of the most beautiful form. Besides, is not everything that had a beginning subject to mortality?

XI. Anaxagoras, who received his learning from Anaximenes, was the first who affirmed the system and disposition of all things to be contrived and perfected by the power and reason of an infinite mind; in which infinity he did not perceive that there could be no conjunction of sense and motion, nor any sense in the least degree, where nature herself could feel no impulse. If he would have this mind to be a sort of animal, then there must be some more internal principle from whence that animal should receive its appellation. But what can be more internal than the mind? Let it, therefore, be clothed with an external body. But this is not agreeable to his doctrine; but we are utterly unable to conceive how a pure simple mind can exist without any substance annexed to it.

Alcmæon of Crotona, in attributing a divinity to the sun, the moon, and the rest of the stars, and also to the mind, did not perceive that he was ascribing immortality to mortal beings.

Pythagoras, who supposed the Deity to be one soul, mixing with and pervading all nature, from which our souls are taken, did not consider that the Deity himself must, in consequence of this doctrine, be maimed and torn with the rending every human soul from it; nor that, when the human mind is afflicted (as is the case in many instances), that part of the Deity must likewise be afflicted, 220which cannot be. If the human mind were a Deity, how could it be ignorant of any thing? Besides, how could that Deity, if it is nothing but soul, be mixed with, or infused into, the world?

Then Xenophanes, who said that everything in the world which had any existence, with the addition of intellect, was God, is as liable to exception as the rest, especially in relation to the infinity of it, in which there can be nothing sentient, nothing composite.

Parmenides formed a conceit to himself of something circular like a crown. (He names it Stephane.) It is an orb of constant light and heat around the heavens; this he calls God; in which there is no room to imagine any divine form or sense. And he uttered many other absurdities on the same subject; for he ascribed a divinity to war, to discord, to lust, and other passions of the same kind, which are destroyed by disease, or sleep, or oblivion, or age. The same honor he gives to the stars; but I shall forbear making any objections to his system here, having already done it in another place.

XII. Empedocles, who erred in many things, is most grossly mistaken in his notion of the Gods. He lays down four natures84 as divine, from which he thinks that all things were made. Yet it is evident that they have a beginning, that they decay, and that they are void of all sense.

Protagoras did not seem to have any idea of the real nature of the Gods; for he acknowledged that he was altogether ignorant whether there are or are not any, or what they are.

What shall I say of Democritus, who classes our images of objects, and their orbs, in the number of the Gods; as he does that principle through which those images appear and have their influence? He deifies likewise our knowledge and understanding. Is he not involved in a very great error? And because nothing continues always in the same state, he denies that anything is everlasting, does he not thereby entirely destroy the Deity, and make it impossible to form any opinion of him?

221Diogenes of Apollonia looks upon the air to be a Deity. But what sense can the air have? or what divine form can be attributed to it?

It would be tedious to show the uncertainty of Plato’s opinion; for, in his Timæus, he denies the propriety of asserting that there is one great father or creator of the world; and, in his book of Laws, he thinks we ought not to make too strict an inquiry into the nature of the Deity. And as for his statement when he asserts that God is a being without any body—what the Greeks call ἀσώματος—it is certainly quite unintelligible how that theory can possibly be true; for such a God must then necessarily be destitute of sense, prudence, and pleasure; all which things are comprehended in our notion of the Gods. He likewise asserts in his Timæus, and in his Laws, that the world, the heavens, the stars, the mind, and those Gods which are delivered down to us from our ancestors, constitute the Deity. These opinions, taken separately, are apparently false; and, together, are directly inconsistent with each other.

Xenophon has committed almost the same mistakes, but in fewer words. In those sayings which he has related of Socrates, he introduces him disputing the lawfulness of inquiring into the form of the Deity, and makes him assert the sun and the mind to be Deities: he represents him likewise as affirming the being of one God only, and at another time of many; which are errors of almost the same kind which I before took notice of in Plato.

XIII. Antisthenes, in his book called the Natural Philosopher, says that there are many national and one natural Deity; but by this saying he destroys the power and nature of the Gods. Speusippus is not much less in the wrong; who, following his uncle Plato, says that a certain incorporeal power governs everything; by which he endeavors to root out of our minds the knowledge of the Gods.

Aristotle, in his third book of Philosophy, confounds many things together, as the rest have done; but he does not differ from his master Plato. At one time he attributes all divinity to the mind, at another he asserts that the world is God. Soon afterward he makes some other essence 222preside over the world, and gives it those faculties by which, with certain revolutions, he may govern and preserve the motion of it. Then he asserts the heat of the firmament to be God; not perceiving the firmament to be part of the world, which in another place he had described as God. How can that divine sense of the firmament be preserved in so rapid a motion? And where do the multitude of Gods dwell, if heaven itself is a Deity? But when this philosopher says that God is without a body, he makes him an irrational and insensible being. Besides, how can the world move itself, if it wants a body? Or how, if it is in perpetual self-motion, can it be easy and happy?

Xenocrates, his fellow-pupil, does not appear much wiser on this head, for in his books concerning the nature of the Gods no divine form is described; but he says the number of them is eight. Five are moving planets;85 the sixth is contained in all the fixed stars; which, dispersed, are so many several members, but, considered together, are one single Deity; the seventh is the sun; and the eighth the moon. But in what sense they can possibly be happy is not easy to be understood.

From the same school of Plato, Heraclides of Pontus stuffed his books with puerile tales. Sometimes he thinks the world a Deity, at other times the mind. He attributes divinity likewise to the wandering stars. He deprives the Deity of sense, and makes his form mutable; and, in the same book again, he makes earth and heaven Deities.

The unsteadiness of Theophrastus is equally intolerable. At one time he attributes a divine prerogative to the mind; at another, to the firmament; at another, to the stars and celestial constellations.

Nor is his disciple Strato, who is called the naturalist, any more worthy to be regarded; for he thinks that the divine power is diffused through nature, which is the cause of birth, increase, and diminution, but that it has no sense nor form.

XIV. Zeno (to come to your sect, Balbus) thinks the law of nature to be the divinity, and that it has the power 223to force us to what is right, and to restrain us from what is wrong. How this law can be an animated being I cannot conceive; but that God is so we would certainly maintain. The same person says, in another place, that the sky is God; but can we possibly conceive that God is a being insensible, deaf to our prayers, our wishes, and our vows, and wholly unconnected with us? In other books he thinks there is a certain rational essence pervading all nature, indued with divine efficacy. He attributes the same power to the stars, to the years, to the months, and to the seasons. In his interpretation of Hesiod’s Theogony,86 he entirely destroys the established notions of the Gods; for he excludes Jupiter, Juno, and Vesta, and those esteemed divine, from the number of them; but his doctrine is that these are names which by some kind of allusion are given to mute and inanimate beings. The sentiments of his disciple Aristo are not less erroneous. He thought it impossible to conceive the form of the Deity, and asserts that the Gods are destitute of sense; and he is entirely dubious whether the Deity is an animated being or not.

Cleanthes, who next comes under my notice, a disciple of Zeno at the same time with Aristo, in one place says that the world is God; in another, he attributes divinity to the mind and spirit of universal nature; then he asserts that the most remote, the highest, the all-surrounding, the all-enclosing and embracing heat, which is called the sky, is most certainly the Deity. In the books he wrote against pleasure, in which he seems to be raving, he imagines the Gods to have a certain form and shape; then he ascribes all divinity to the stars; and, lastly, he thinks nothing more divine than reason. So that this God, whom we know mentally and in the speculations of our minds, from which traces we receive our impression, has at last actually no visible form at all.

XV. Persæus, another disciple of Zeno, says that they who have made discoveries advantageous to the life of man should be esteemed as Gods; and the very things, he says, which are healthful and beneficial have derived their names from those of the Gods; so that he thinks it not sufficient to call them the discoveries of Gods, but he urges that they 224themselves should be deemed divine. What can be more absurd than to ascribe divine honors to sordid and deformed things; or to place among the Gods men who are dead and mixed with the dust, to whose memory all the respect that could be paid would be but mourning for their loss?

Chrysippus, who is looked upon as the most subtle interpreter of the dreams of the Stoics, has mustered up a numerous band of unknown Gods; and so unknown that we are not able to form any idea about them, though our mind seems capable of framing any image to itself in its thoughts. For he says that the divine power is placed in reason, and in the spirit and mind of universal nature; that the world, with a universal effusion of its spirit, is God; that the superior part of that spirit, which is the mind and reason, is the great principle of nature, containing and preserving the chain of all things; that the divinity is the power of fate, and the necessity of future events. He deifies fire also, and what I before called the ethereal spirit, and those elements which naturally proceed from it—water, earth, and air. He attributes divinity to the sun, moon, stars, and universal space, the grand container of all things, and to those men likewise who have obtained immortality. He maintains the sky to be what men call Jupiter; the air, which pervades the sea, to be Neptune; and the earth, Ceres. In like manner he goes through the names of the other Deities. He says that Jupiter is that immutable and eternal law which guides and directs us in our manners; and this he calls fatal necessity, the everlasting verity of future events. But none of these are of such a nature as to seem to carry any indication of divine virtue in them. These are the doctrines contained in his first book of the Nature of the Gods. In the second, he endeavors to accommodate the fables of Orpheus, Musæus, Hesiod, and Homer to what he has advanced in the first, in order that the most ancient poets, who never dreamed of these things, may seem to have been Stoics. Diogenes the Babylonian was a follower of the doctrine of Chrysippus; and in that book which he wrote, entitled “A Treatise concerning Minerva,” he separates the account of Jupiter’s bringing-forth, and the birth of that virgin, from the fabulous, and reduces it to a natural construction.

225XVI. Thus far have I been rather exposing the dreams of dotards than giving the opinions of philosophers. Not much more absurd than these are the fables of the poets, who owe all their power of doing harm to the sweetness of their language; who have represented the Gods as enraged with anger and inflamed with lust; who have brought before our eyes their wars, battles, combats, wounds; their hatreds, dissensions, discords, births, deaths, complaints, and lamentations; their indulgences in all kinds of intemperance; their adulteries; their chains; their amours with mortals, and mortals begotten by immortals. To these idle and ridiculous flights of the poets we may add the prodigious stories invented by the Magi, and by the Egyptians also, which were of the same nature, together with the extravagant notions of the multitude at all times, who, from total ignorance of the truth, are always fluctuating in uncertainty.

Now, whoever reflects on the rashness and absurdity of these tenets must inevitably entertain the highest respect and veneration for Epicurus, and perhaps even rank him in the number of those beings who are the subject of this dispute; for he alone first founded the idea of the existence of the Gods on the impression which nature herself hath made on the minds of all men. For what nation, what people are there, who have not, without any learning, a natural idea, or prenotion, of a Deity? Epicurus calls this πρόληψις; that is, an antecedent conception of the fact in the mind, without which nothing can be understood, inquired after, or discoursed on; the force and advantage of which reasoning we receive from that celestial volume of Epicurus concerning the Rule and Judgment of Things.

XVII. Here, then, you see the foundation of this question clearly laid; for since it is the constant and universal opinion of mankind, independent of education, custom, or law, that there are Gods, it must necessarily follow that this knowledge is implanted in our minds, or, rather, innate in us. That opinion respecting which there is a general agreement in universal nature must infallibly be true; therefore it must be allowed that there are Gods; for in this we have the concurrence, not only of almost all philosophers, but likewise of the ignorant and illiterate. It 226must be also confessed that the point is established that we have naturally this idea, as I said before, or prenotion, of the existence of the Gods. As new things require new names, so that prenotion was called πρόληψις by Epicurus; an appellation never used before. On the same principle of reasoning, we think that the Gods are happy and immortal; for that nature which hath assured us that there are Gods has likewise imprinted in our minds the knowledge of their immortality and felicity; and if so, what Epicurus hath declared in these words is true: “That which is eternally happy cannot be burdened with any labor itself, nor can it impose any labor on another; nor can it be influenced by resentment or favor: because things which are liable to such feelings must be weak and frail.” We have said enough to prove that we should worship the Gods with piety, and without superstition, if that were the only question.

For the superior and excellent nature of the Gods requires a pious adoration from men, because it is possessed of immortality and the most exalted felicity; for whatever excels has a right to veneration, and all fear of the power and anger of the Gods should be banished; for we must understand that anger and affection are inconsistent with the nature of a happy and immortal being. These apprehensions being removed, no dread of the superior powers remains. To confirm this opinion, our curiosity leads us to inquire into the form and life and action of the intellect and spirit of the Deity.

XVIII. With regard to his form, we are directed partly by nature and partly by reason. All men are told by nature that none but a human form can be ascribed to the Gods; for under what other image did it ever appear to any one either sleeping or waking? and, without having recourse to our first notions,87 reason itself declares the same; for as it is easy to conceive that the most excellent nature, either because of its happiness or immortality, should be the most beautiful, what composition of limbs, what conformation of lineaments, what form, what aspect, can be more beautiful than the human? Your sect, Lucilius (not like my friend Cotta, who sometimes says one 227thing and sometimes another), when they represent the divine art and workmanship in the human body, are used to describe how very completely each member is formed, not only for convenience, but also for beauty. Therefore, if the human form excels that of all other animal beings, as God himself is an animated being, he must surely be of that form which is the most beautiful. Besides, the Gods are granted to be perfectly happy; and nobody can be happy without virtue, nor can virtue exist where reason is not; and reason can reside in none but the human form; the Gods, therefore, must be acknowledged to be of human form; yet that form is not body, but something like body; nor does it contain any blood, but something like blood. Though these distinctions were more acutely devised and more artfully expressed by Epicurus than any common capacity can comprehend; yet, depending on your understanding, I shall be more brief on the subject than otherwise I should be. Epicurus, who not only discovered and understood the occult and almost hidden secrets of nature, but explained them with ease, teaches that the power and nature of the Gods is not to be discerned by the senses, but by the mind; nor are they to be considered as bodies of any solidity, or reducible to number, like those things which, because of their firmness, he calls Στερέμνια;88 but as images, perceived by similitude and transition. As infinite kinds of those images result from innumerable individuals, and centre in the Gods, our minds and understanding are directed towards and fixed with the greatest delight on them, in order to comprehend what that happy and eternal essence is.

XIX. Surely the mighty power of the Infinite Being is most worthy our great and earnest contemplation; the nature of which we must necessarily understand to be such that everything in it is made to correspond completely to some other answering part. This is called by Epicurus ἰσονομία; that is to say, an equal distribution or even disposition of things. From hence he draws this inference, 228that, as there is such a vast multitude of mortals, there cannot be a less number of immortals; and if those which perish are innumerable, those which are preserved ought also to be countless. Your sect, Balbus, frequently ask us how the Gods live, and how they pass their time? Their life is the most happy, and the most abounding with all kinds of blessings, which can be conceived. They do nothing. They are embarrassed with no business; nor do they perform any work. They rejoice in the possession of their own wisdom and virtue. They are satisfied that they shall ever enjoy the fulness of eternal pleasures.

XX. Such a Deity may properly be called happy; but yours is a most laborious God. For let us suppose the world a Deity—what can be a more uneasy state than, without the least cessation, to be whirled about the axle-tree of heaven with a surprising celerity? But nothing can be happy that is not at ease. Or let us suppose a Deity residing in the world, who directs and governs it, who preserves the courses of the stars, the changes of the seasons, and the vicissitudes and orders of things, surveying the earth and the sea, and accommodating them to the advantage and necessities of man. Truly this Deity is embarrassed with a very troublesome and laborious office. We make a happy life to consist in a tranquillity of mind, a perfect freedom from care, and an exemption from all employment. The philosopher from whom we received all our knowledge has taught us that the world was made by nature; that there was no occasion for a workhouse to frame it in; and that, though you deny the possibility of such a work without divine skill, it is so easy to her, that she has made, does make, and will make innumerable worlds. But, because you do not conceive that nature is able to produce such effects without some rational aid, you are forced, like the tragic poets, when you cannot wind up your argument in any other way, to have recourse to a Deity, whose assistance you would not seek, if you could view that vast and unbounded magnitude of regions in all parts; where the mind, extending and spreading itself, travels so far and wide that it can find no end, no extremity to stop at. In this immensity of breadth, length, and height, a most boundless company of innumerable atoms 229are fluttering about, which, notwithstanding the interposition of a void space, meet and cohere, and continue clinging to one another; and by this union these modifications and forms of things arise, which, in your opinions, could not possibly be made without the help of bellows and anvils. Thus you have imposed on us an eternal master, whom we must dread day and night. For who can be free from fear of a Deity who foresees, regards, and takes notice of everything; one who thinks all things his own; a curious, ever-busy God?

Hence first arose your Εἱμαρμένη, as you call it, your fatal necessity; so that, whatever happens, you affirm that it flows from an eternal chain and continuance of causes. Of what value is this philosophy, which, like old women and illiterate men, attributes everything to fate? Then follows your μαντικὴ, in Latin called divinatio, divination; which, if we would listen to you, would plunge us into such superstition that we should fall down and worship your inspectors into sacrifices, your augurs, your soothsayers, your prophets, and your fortune-tellers.

Epicurus having freed us from these terrors and restored us to liberty, we have no dread of those beings whom we have reason to think entirely free from all trouble themselves, and who do not impose any on others. We pay our adoration, indeed, with piety and reverence to that essence which is above all excellence and perfection. But I fear my zeal for this doctrine has made me too prolix. However, I could not easily leave so eminent and important a subject unfinished, though I must confess I should rather endeavor to hear than speak so long.

XXI. Cotta, with his usual courtesy, then began. Velleius, says he, were it not for something which you have advanced, I should have remained silent; for I have often observed, as I did just now upon hearing you, that I cannot so easily conceive why a proposition is true as why it is false. Should you ask me what I take the nature of the Gods to be, I should perhaps make no answer. But if you should ask whether I think it to be of that nature which you have described, I should answer that I was as far as possible from agreeing with you. However, before I enter on the subject of your discourse and what you 230have advanced upon it, I will give you my opinion of yourself. Your intimate friend, L. Crassus, has been often heard by me to say that you were beyond all question superior to all our learned Romans; and that few Epicureans in Greece were to be compared to you. But as I knew what a wonderful esteem he had for you, I imagined that might make him the more lavish in commendation of you. Now, however, though I do not choose to praise any one when present, yet I must confess that I think you have delivered your thoughts clearly on an obscure and very intricate subject; that you are not only copious in your sentiments, but more elegant in your language than your sect generally are. When I was at Athens, I went often to hear Zeno, by the advice of Philo, who used to call him the chief of the Epicureans; partly, probably, in order to judge more easily how completely those principles could be refuted after I had heard them stated by the most learned of the Epicureans. And, indeed, he did not speak in any ordinary manner; but, like you, with clearness, gravity, and elegance; yet what frequently gave me great uneasiness when I heard him, as it did while I attended to you, was to see so excellent a genius falling into such frivolous (excuse my freedom), not to say foolish, doctrines. However, I shall not at present offer anything better; for, as I said before, we can in most subjects, especially in physics, sooner discover what is not true than what is.

XXII. If you should ask me what God is, or what his character and nature are, I should follow the example of Simonides, who, when Hiero the tyrant proposed the same question to him, desired a day to consider of it. When he required his answer the next day, Simonides begged two days more; and as he kept constantly desiring double the number which he had required before instead of giving his answer, Hiero, with surprise, asked him his meaning in doing so: “Because,” says he, “the longer I meditate on it, the more obscure it appears to me.” Simonides, who was not only a delightful poet, but reputed a wise and learned man in other branches of knowledge, found, I suppose, so many acute and refined arguments occurring to him, that he was doubtful which was the truest, and therefore despaired of discovering any truth.

231But does your Epicurus (for I had rather contend with him than with you) say anything that is worthy the name of philosophy, or even of common-sense?

In the question concerning the nature of the Gods, his first inquiry is, whether there are Gods or not. It would be dangerous, I believe, to take the negative side before a public auditory; but it is very safe in a discourse of this kind, and in this company. I, who am a priest, and who think that religions and ceremonies ought sacredly to be maintained, am certainly desirous to have the existence of the Gods, which is the principal point in debate, not only fixed in opinion, but proved to a demonstration; for many notions flow into and disturb the mind which sometimes seem to convince us that there are none. But see how candidly I will behave to you: as I shall not touch upon those tenets you hold in common with other philosophers, consequently I shall not dispute the existence of the Gods, for that doctrine is agreeable to almost all men, and to myself in particular; but I am still at liberty to find fault with the reasons you give for it, which I think are very insufficient.

XXIII. You have said that the general assent of men of all nations and all degrees is an argument strong enough to induce us to acknowledge the being of the Gods. This is not only a weak, but a false, argument; for, first of all, how do you know the opinions of all nations? I really believe there are many people so savage that they have no thoughts of a Deity. What think you of Diagoras, who was called the atheist; and of Theodorus after him? Did not they plainly deny the very essence of a Deity? Protagoras of Abdera, whom you just now mentioned, the greatest sophist of his age, was banished by order of the Athenians from their city and territories, and his books were publicly burned, because these words were in the beginning of his treatise concerning the Gods: “I am unable to arrive at any knowledge whether there are, or are not, any Gods.” This treatment of him, I imagine, restrained many from professing their disbelief of a Deity, since the doubt of it only could not escape punishment. What shall we say of the sacrilegious, the impious, and the perjured? If Tubulus Lucius, Lupus, or Carbo the son of 232Neptune, as Lucilius says, had believed that there were Gods, would either of them have carried his perjuries and impieties to such excess? Your reasoning, therefore, to confirm your assertion is not so conclusive as you think it is. But as this is the manner in which other philosophers have argued on the same subject, I will take no further notice of it at present; I rather choose to proceed to what is properly your own.

I allow that there are Gods. Instruct me, then, concerning their origin; inform me where they are, what sort of body, what mind, they have, and what is their course of life; for these I am desirous of knowing. You attribute the most absolute power and efficacy to atoms. Out of them you pretend that everything is made. But there are no atoms, for there is nothing without body; every place is occupied by body, therefore there can be no such thing as a vacuum or an atom.

XXIV. I advance these principles of the naturalists without knowing whether they are true or false; yet they are more like truth than those statements of yours; for they are the absurdities in which Democritus, or before him Leucippus, used to indulge, saying that there are certain light corpuscles—some smooth, some rough, some round, some square, some crooked and bent as bows—which by a fortuitous concourse made heaven and earth, without the influence of any natural power. This opinion, C. Velleius, you have brought down to these our times; and you would sooner be deprived of the greatest advantages of life than of that authority; for before you were acquainted with those tenets, you thought that you ought to profess yourself an Epicurean; so that it was necessary that you should either embrace these absurdities or lose the philosophical character which you had taken upon you; and what could bribe you to renounce the Epicurean opinion? Nothing, you say, can prevail on you to forsake the truth and the sure means of a happy life. But is that the truth? for I shall not contest your happy life, which you think the Deity himself does not enjoy unless he languishes in idleness. But where is truth? Is it in your innumerable worlds, some of which are rising, some falling, at every moment of time? Or is it in your atomical corpuscles, 233which form such excellent works without the direction of any natural power or reason? But I was forgetting my liberality, which I had promised to exert in your case, and exceeding the bounds which I at first proposed to myself. Granting, then, everything to be made of atoms, what advantage is that to your argument? For we are searching after the nature of the Gods; and allowing them to be made of atoms, they cannot be eternal, because whatever is made of atoms must have had a beginning: if so, there were no Gods till there was this beginning; and if the Gods have had a beginning, they must necessarily have an end, as you have before contended when you were discussing Plato’s world. Where, then, is your beatitude and immortality, in which two words you say that God is expressed, the endeavor to prove which reduces you to the greatest perplexities? For you said that God had no body, but something like body; and no blood, but something like blood.

XXV. It is a frequent practice among you, when you assert anything that has no resemblance to truth, and wish to avoid reprehension, to advance something else which is absolutely and utterly impossible, in order that it may seem to your adversaries better to grant that point which has been a matter of doubt than to keep on pertinaciously contradicting you on every point: like Epicurus, who, when he found that if his atoms were allowed to descend by their own weight, our actions could not be in our own power, because their motions would be certain and necessary, invented an expedient, which escaped Democritus, to avoid necessity. He says that when the atoms descend by their own weight and gravity, they move a little obliquely. Surely, to make such an assertion as this is what one ought more to be ashamed of than the acknowledging ourselves unable to defend the proposition. His practice is the same against the logicians, who say that in all propositions in which yes or no is required, one of them must be true; he was afraid that if this were granted, then, in such a proposition as “Epicurus will be alive or dead to-morrow,” either one or the other must necessarily be admitted; therefore he absolutely denied the necessity of yes or no. Can anything 234show stupidity in a greater degree? Zeno,89 being pressed by Arcesilas, who pronounced all things to be false which are perceived by the senses, said that some things were false, but not all. Epicurus was afraid that if any one thing seen should be false, nothing could be true; and therefore he asserted all the senses to be infallible directors of truth. Nothing can be more rash than this; for by endeavoring to repel a light stroke, he receives a heavy blow. On the subject of the nature of the Gods, he falls into the same errors. While he would avoid the concretion of individual bodies, lest death and dissolution should be the consequence, he denies that the Gods have body, but says they have something like body; and says they have no blood, but something like blood.

XXVI. It seems an unaccountable thing how one soothsayer can refrain from laughing when he sees another. It is yet a greater wonder that you can refrain from laughing among yourselves. It is no body, but something like body! I could understand this if it were applied to statues made of wax or clay; but in regard to the Deity, I am not able to discover what is meant by a quasi-body or quasi-blood. Nor indeed are you, Velleius, though you will not confess so much. For those precepts are delivered to you as dictates which Epicurus carelessly blundered out; for he boasted, as we see in his writings, that he had no instructor, which I could easily believe without his public declaration of it, for the same reason that I could believe the master of a very bad edifice if he were to boast that he had no architect but himself: for there is nothing of the Academy, nothing of the Lyceum, in his doctrine; nothing but puerilities. He might have been a pupil of Xenocrates. O ye immortal Gods, what a teacher was he! And there are those who believe that he actually was his pupil; but he says otherwise, and I shall give more credit to his word than to another’s. He confesses that he was a pupil of a certain disciple of Plato, one Pamphilus, at Samos; for he lived there when he was young, with his father and his brothers. His father, Neocles, was a farmer in those parts; 235but as the farm, I suppose, was not sufficient to maintain him, he turned school-master; yet Epicurus treats this Platonic philosopher with wonderful contempt, so fearful was he that it should be thought he had ever had any instruction. But it is well known he had been a pupil of Nausiphanes, the follower of Democritus; and since he could not deny it, he loaded him with insults in abundance. If he never heard a lecture on these Democritean principles, what lectures did he ever hear? What is there in Epicurus’s physics that is not taken from Democritus? For though he altered some things, as what I mentioned before of the oblique motions of the atoms, yet most of his doctrines are the same; his atoms—his vacuum—his images—infinity of space—innumerable worlds, their rise and decay—and almost every part of natural learning that he treats of.

Now, do you understand what is meant by quasi-body and quasi-blood? For I not only acknowledge that you are a better judge of it than I am, but I can bear it without envy. If any sentiments, indeed, are communicated without obscurity, what is there that Velleius can understand and Cotta not? I know what body is, and what blood is; but I cannot possibly find out the meaning of quasi-body and quasi-blood. Not that you intentionally conceal your principles from me, as Pythagoras did his from those who were not his disciples; or that you are intentionally obscure, like Heraclitus. But the truth is (which I may venture to say in this company), you do not understand them yourself.

XXVII. This, I perceive, is what you contend for, that the Gods have a certain figure that has nothing concrete, nothing solid, nothing of express substance, nothing prominent in it; but that it is pure, smooth, and transparent. Let us suppose the same with the Venus of Cos, which is not a body, but the representation of a body; nor is the red, which is drawn there and mixed with the white, real blood, but a certain resemblance of blood; so in Epicurus’s Deity there is no real substance, but the resemblance of substance.

Let me take for granted that which is perfectly unintelligible; then tell me what are the lineaments and figures 236of these sketched-out Deities. Here you have plenty of arguments by which you would show the Gods to be in human form. The first is, that our minds are so anticipated and prepossessed, that whenever we think of a Deity the human shape occurs to us. The next is, that as the divine nature excels all things, so it ought to be of the most beautiful form, and there is no form more beautiful than the human; and the third is, that reason cannot reside in any other shape.

First, let us consider each argument separately. You seem to me to assume a principle, despotically I may say, that has no manner of probability in it. Who was ever so blind, in contemplating these subjects, as not to see that the Gods were represented in human form, either by the particular advice of wise men, who thought by those means the more easily to turn the minds of the ignorant from a depravity of manners to the worship of the Gods; or through superstition, which was the cause of their believing that when they were paying adoration to these images they were approaching the Gods themselves. These conceits were not a little improved by the poets, painters, and artificers; for it would not have been very easy to represent the Gods planning and executing any work in another form, and perhaps this opinion arose from the idea which mankind have of their own beauty. But do not you, who are so great an adept in physics, see what a soothing flatterer, what a sort of procuress, nature is to herself? Do you think there is any creature on the land or in the sea that is not highly delighted with its own form? If it were not so, why would not a bull become enamored of a mare, or a horse of a cow? Do you believe an eagle, a lion, or a dolphin prefers any shape to its own? If nature, therefore, has instructed us in the same manner, that nothing is more beautiful than man, what wonder is it that we, for that reason, should imagine the Gods are of the human form? Do you suppose if beasts were endowed with reason that every one would not give the prize of beauty to his own species?

XXVIII. Yet, by Hercules (I speak as I think)! though I am fond enough of myself, I dare not say that I excel in beauty that bull which carried Europa. For the question 237here is not concerning our genius and elocution, but our species and figure. If we could make and assume to ourselves any form, would you be unwilling to resemble the sea-triton as he is painted supported swimming on sea-monsters whose bodies are partly human? Here I touch on a difficult point; for so great is the force of nature that there is no man who would not choose to be like a man, nor, indeed, any ant that would not be like an ant. But like what man? For how few can pretend to beauty! When I was at Athens, the whole flock of youths afforded scarcely one. You laugh, I see; but what I tell you is the truth. Nay, to us who, after the examples of ancient philosophers, delight in boys, defects are often pleasing. Alcæus was charmed with a wart on a boy’s knuckle; but a wart is a blemish on the body; yet it seemed a beauty to him. Q. Catulus, my friend and colleague’s father, was enamored with your fellow-citizen Roscius, on whom he wrote these verses:

As once I stood to hail the rising day,

Roscius appearing on the left I spied:

Forgive me, Gods, if I presume to say

The mortal’s beauty with th’ immortal vied.

Roscius more beautiful than a God! yet he was then, as he now is, squint-eyed. But what signifies that, if his defects were beauties to Catulus?

XXIX. I return to the Gods. Can we suppose any of them to be squint-eyed, or even to have a cast in the eye? Have they any warts? Are any of them hook-nosed, flap-eared, beetle-browed, or jolt-headed, as some of us are? Or are they free from imperfections? Let us grant you that. Are they all alike in the face? For if they are many, then one must necessarily be more beautiful than another, and then there must be some Deity not absolutely most beautiful. Or if their faces are all alike, there would be an Academy90 in heaven; for if one God does not differ from another, there is no possibility of knowing or distinguishing them.

What if your assertion, Velleius, proves absolutely false, that no form occurs to us, in our contemplations on the 238Deity, but the human? Will you, notwithstanding that, persist in the defence of such an absurdity? Supposing that form occurs to us, as you say it does, and we know Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, Neptune, Vulcan, Apollo, and the other Deities, by the countenance which painters and statuaries have given them, and not only by their countenances, but by their decorations, their age, and attire; yet the Egyptians, the Syrians, and almost all barbarous nations,91 are without such distinctions. You may see a greater regard paid by them to certain beasts than by us to the most sacred temples and images of the Gods; for many shrines have been rifled, and images of the Deities have been carried from their most sacred places by us; but we never heard that an Egyptian offered any violence to a crocodile, an ibis, or a cat. What do you think, then? Do not the Egyptians esteem their sacred bull, their Apis, as a Deity? Yes, by Hercules! as certainly as you do our protectress Juno, whom you never behold, even in your dreams, without a goat-skin, a spear, a shield, and broad sandals. But the Grecian Juno of Argos and the Roman Juno are not represented in this manner; so that the Grecians, the Lanuvinians, and we, ascribe different forms to Juno; and our Capitoline Jupiter is not the same with the Jupiter Ammon of the Africans.

XXX. Therefore, ought not a natural philosopher—that is, an inquirer into the secrets of nature—to be ashamed of seeking a testimony to truth from minds prepossessed by custom? According to the rule you have laid down, it may be said that Jupiter is always bearded, Apollo always beardless; that Minerva has gray and Neptune azure eyes; and, indeed, we must then honor that Vulcan at Athens, made by Alcamenes, whose lameness through his thin robes appears to be no deformity. Shall we, therefore, receive a lame Deity because we have such an account of him?

Consider, likewise, that the Gods go by what names we give them. Now, in the first place, they have as many names as men have languages; for Vulcan is not called Vulcan in Italy, Africa, or Spain, as you are called Velleius in all countries. Besides, the Gods are innumerable, though the list of their names is of no great length even 239in the records of our priests. Have they no names? You must necessarily confess, indeed, they have none; for what occasion is there for different names if their persons are alike?

How much more laudable would it be, Velleius, to acknowledge that you do not know what you do not know than to follow a man whom you must despise! Do you think the Deity is like either me or you? You do not really think he is like either of us. What is to be done, then? Shall I call the sun, the moon, or the sky a Deity? If so, they are consequently happy. But what pleasures can they enjoy? And they are wise too. But how can wisdom reside in such shapes? These are your own principles. Therefore, if they are not of human form, as I have proved, and if you cannot persuade yourself that they are of any other, why are you cautious of denying absolutely the being of any Gods? You dare not deny it—which is very prudent in you, though here you are not afraid of the people, but of the Gods themselves. I have known Epicureans who reverence92 even the least images of the Gods, though I perceive it to be the opinion of some that Epicurus, through fear of offending against the Athenian laws, has allowed a Deity in words and destroyed him in fact; so in those his select and short sentences, which are called by you κυρίαι δόξαι,93 this, I think, is the first: “That being which is happy and immortal is not burdened with any labor, and does not impose any on any one else.”

XXXI. In his statement of this sentence, some think that he avoided speaking clearly on purpose, though it was manifestly without design. But they judge ill of a man who had not the least art. It is doubtful whether he means that there is any being happy and immortal, or that if there is any being happy, he must likewise be immortal. They do not consider that he speaks here, indeed, ambiguously; but in many other places both he and Metrodorus explain themselves as clearly as you have done. But he believed there are Gods; nor have I ever seen any one 240who was more exceedingly afraid of what he declared ought to be no objects of fear, namely, death and the Gods, with the apprehensions of which the common rank of people are very little affected; but he says that the minds of all mortals are terrified by them. Many thousands of men commit robberies in the face of death; others rifle all the temples they can get into: such as these, no doubt, must be greatly terrified, the one by the fears of death, and the others by the fear of the Gods.

But since you dare not (for I am now addressing my discourse to Epicurus himself) absolutely deny the existence of the Gods, what hinders you from ascribing a divine nature to the sun, the world, or some eternal mind? I never, says he, saw wisdom and a rational soul in any but a human form. What! did you ever observe anything like the sun, the moon, or the five moving planets? The sun, terminating his course in two extreme parts of one circle,94 finishes his annual revolutions. The moon, receiving her light from the sun, completes the same course in the space of a month.95 The five planets in the same circle, some nearer, others more remote from the earth, begin the same courses together, and finish them in different spaces of time. Did you ever observe anything like this, Epicurus? So that, according to you, there can be neither sun, moon, nor stars, because nothing can exist but what we have touched or seen.96 What! have you ever seen the Deity himself? Why else do you believe there is any? If this doctrine prevails, we must reject all that history relates or reason discovers; and the people who inhabit inland countries must not believe there is such a thing as the sea. This is so narrow a way of thinking that if you had been born in Seriphus, and never had been from out of that island, where you had frequently been in the habit of seeing little hares and foxes, you would not, therefore, believe that there are such beasts as lions and panthers; 241and if any one should describe an elephant to you, you would think that he designed to laugh at you.

XXXII. You indeed, Velleius, have concluded your argument, not after the manner of your own sect, but of the logicians, to which your people are utter strangers. You have taken it for granted that the Gods are happy. I allow it. You say that without virtue no one can be happy. I willingly concur with you in this also. You likewise say that virtue cannot reside where reason is not. That I must necessarily allow. You add, moreover, that reason cannot exist but in a human form. Who, do you think, will admit that? If it were true, what occasion was there to come so gradually to it? And to what purpose? You might have answered it on your own authority. I perceive your gradations from happiness to virtue, and from virtue to reason; but how do you come from reason to human form? There, indeed, you do not descend by degrees, but precipitately.

Nor can I conceive why Epicurus should rather say the Gods are like men than that men are like the Gods. You ask what is the difference; for, say you, if this is like that, that is like this. I grant it; but this I assert, that the Gods could not take their form from men; for the Gods always existed, and never had a beginning, if they are to exist eternally; but men had a beginning: therefore that form, of which the immortal Gods are, must have had existence before mankind; consequently, the Gods should not be said to be of human form, but our form should be called divine. However, let this be as you will. I now inquire how this extraordinary good fortune came about; for you deny that reason had any share in the formation of things. But still, what was this extraordinary fortune? Whence proceeded that happy concourse of atoms which gave so sudden a rise to men in the form of Gods? Are we to suppose the divine seed fell from heaven upon earth, and that men sprung up in the likeness of their celestial sires? I wish you would assert it; for I should not be unwilling to acknowledge my relation to the Gods. But you say nothing like it; no, our resemblance to the Gods, it seems, was by chance. Must I now seek for arguments to refute this doctrine seriously? I wish I could 242as easily discover what is true as I can overthrow what is false.

XXXIII. You have enumerated with so ready a memory, and so copiously, the opinions of philosophers, from Thales the Milesian, concerning the nature of the Gods, that I am surprised to see so much learning in a Roman. But do you think they were all madmen who thought that a Deity could by some possibility exist without hands and feet? Does not even this consideration have weight with you when you consider what is the use and advantage of limbs in men, and lead you to admit that the Gods have no need of them? What necessity can there be of feet, without walking; or of hands, if there is nothing to be grasped? The same may be asked of the other parts of the body, in which nothing is vain, nothing useless, nothing superfluous; therefore we may infer that no art can imitate the skill of nature. Shall the Deity, then, have a tongue, and not speak—teeth, palate, and jaws, though he will have no use for them? Shall the members which nature has given to the body for the sake of generation be useless to the Deity? Nor would the internal parts be less superfluous than the external. What comeliness is there in the heart, the lungs, the liver, and the rest of them, abstracted from their use? I mention these because you place them in the Deity on account of the beauty of the human form.

Depending on these dreams, not only Epicurus, Metrodorus, and Hermachus declaimed against Pythagoras, Plato, and Empedocles, but that little harlot Leontium presumed to write against Theophrastus: indeed, she had a neat Attic style; but yet, to think of her arguing against Theophrastus! So much did the garden of Epicurus97 abound with these liberties, and, indeed, you are always complaining against them. Zeno wrangled. Why need I mention Albutius? Nothing could be more elegant or humane than Phædrus; yet a sharp expression would disgust the old man. Epicurus treated Aristotle with great contumely. He foully slandered Phædo, the disciple of Socrates. He pelted Timocrates, the brother of his companion Metrodorus, with whole volumes, because he disagreed with him in some trifling point of philosophy. He 243was ungrateful even to Democritus, whose follower he was; and his master Nausiphanes, from whom he learned nothing, had no better treatment from him.

XXXIV. Zeno gave abusive language not only to those who were then living, as Apollodorus, Syllus, and the rest, but he called Socrates, who was the father of philosophy, the Attic buffoon, using the Latin word Scurra. He never called Chrysippus by any name but Chesippus. And you yourself a little before, when you were numbering up a senate, as we may call them, of philosophers, scrupled not to say that the most eminent men talked like foolish, visionary dotards. Certainly, therefore, if they have all erred in regard to the nature of the Gods, it is to be feared there are no such beings. What you deliver on that head are all whimsical notions, and not worthy the consideration even of old women. For you do not seem to be in the least aware what a task you draw on yourselves, if you should prevail on us to grant that the same form is common to Gods and men. The Deity would then require the same trouble in dressing, and the same care of the body, that mankind does. He must walk, run, lie down, lean, sit, hold, speak, and discourse. You need not be told the consequence of making the Gods male and female.

Therefore I cannot sufficiently wonder how this chief of yours came to entertain these strange opinions. But you constantly insist on the certainty of this tenet, that the Deity is both happy and immortal. Supposing he is so, would his happiness be less perfect if he had not two feet? Or cannot that blessedness or beatitude—call it which you will (they are both harsh terms, but we must mollify them by use)—can it not, I say, exist in that sun, or in this world, or in some eternal mind that has not human shape or limbs? All you say against it is, that you never saw any happiness in the sun or the world. What, then? Did you ever see any world but this? No, you will say. Why, therefore, do you presume to assert that there are not only six hundred thousand worlds, but that they are innumerable? Reason tells you so. Will not reason tell you likewise that as, in our inquiries into the most excellent nature, we find none but the divine nature can be happy and eternal, so the same divine nature surpasses us in 244excellence of mind; and as in mind, so in body? Why, therefore, as we are inferior in all other respects, should we be equal in form? For human virtue approaches nearer to the divinity than human form.

XXXV. To return to the subject I was upon. What can be more childish than to assert that there are no such creatures as are generated in the Red Sea or in India? The most curious inquirer cannot arrive at the knowledge of all those creatures which inhabit the earth, sea, fens, and rivers; and shall we deny the existence of them because we never saw them? That similitude which you are so very fond of is nothing to the purpose. Is not a dog like a wolf? And, as Ennius says,

The monkey, filthiest beast, how like to man!

Yet they differ in nature. No beast has more sagacity than an elephant; yet where can you find any of a larger size? I am speaking here of beasts. But among men, do we not see a disparity of manners in persons very much alike, and a similitude of manners in persons unlike? If this sort of argument were once to prevail, Velleius, observe what it would lead to. You have laid it down as certain that reason cannot possibly reside in any but the human form. Another may affirm that it can exist in none but a terrestrial being; in none but a being that is born, that grows up, and receives instruction, and that consists of a soul, and an infirm and perishable body; in short, in none but a mortal man. But if you decline those opinions, why should a single form disturb you? You perceive that man is possessed of reason and understanding, with all the infirmities which I have mentioned interwoven with his being; abstracted from which, you nevertheless know God, you say, if the lineaments do but remain. This is not talking considerately, but at a venture; for surely you did not think what an encumbrance anything superfluous or useless is, not only in a man, but a tree. How troublesome it is to have a finger too much! And why so? Because neither use nor ornament requires more than five; but your Deity has not only a finger more than he wants, but a head, a neck, shoulders, sides, a paunch, back, hams, hands, feet, thighs, and legs. Are 245these parts necessary to immortality? Are they conducive to the existence of the Deity? Is the face itself of use? One would rather say so of the brain, the heart, the lights, and the liver; for these are the seats of life. The features of the face contribute nothing to the preservation of it.

XXXVI. You censured those who, beholding those excellent and stupendous works, the world, and its respective parts—the heaven, the earth, the seas—and the splendor with which they are adorned; who, contemplating the sun, moon, and stars; and who, observing the maturity and changes of the seasons, and vicissitudes of times, inferred from thence that there must be some excellent and eminent essence that originally made, and still moves, directs, and governs them. Suppose they should mistake in their conjecture, yet I see what they aim at. But what is that great and noble work which appears to you to be the effect of a divine mind, and from which you conclude that there are Gods? “I have,” say you, “a certain information of a Deity imprinted in my mind.” Of a bearded Jupiter, I suppose, and a helmeted Minerva.

But do you really imagine them to be such? How much better are the notions of the ignorant vulgar, who not only believe the Deities have members like ours, but that they make use of them; and therefore they assign them a bow and arrows, a spear, a shield, a trident, and lightning; and though they do not behold the actions of the Gods, yet they cannot entertain a thought of a Deity doing nothing. The Egyptians (so much ridiculed) held no beasts to be sacred, except on account of some advantage which they had received from them. The ibis, a very large bird, with strong legs and a horny long beak, destroys a great number of serpents. These birds keep Egypt from pestilential diseases by killing and devouring the flying serpents brought from the deserts of Lybia by the south-west wind, which prevents the mischief that may attend their biting while alive, or any infection when dead. I could speak of the advantage of the ichneumon, the crocodile, and the cat; but I am unwilling to be tedious; yet I will conclude with observing that the barbarians paid divine honors to beasts because of the benefits 246they received from them; whereas your Gods not only confer no benefit, but are idle, and do no single act of any description whatever.

XXXVII. “They have nothing to do,” your teacher says. Epicurus truly, like indolent boys, thinks nothing preferable to idleness; yet those very boys, when they have a holiday, entertain themselves in some sportive exercise. But we are to suppose the Deity in such an inactive state that if he should move we may justly fear he would be no longer happy. This doctrine divests the Gods of motion and operation; besides, it encourages men to be lazy, as they are by this taught to believe that the least labor is incompatible even with divine felicity.

But let it be as you would have it, that the Deity is in the form and image of a man. Where is his abode? Where is his habitation? Where is the place where he is to be found? What is his course of life? And what is it that constitutes the happiness which you assert that he enjoys? For it seems necessary that a being who is to be happy must use and enjoy what belongs to him. And with regard to place, even those natures which are inanimate have each their proper stations assigned to them: so that the earth is the lowest; then water is next above the earth; the air is above the water; and fire has the highest situation of all allotted to it. Some creatures inhabit the earth, some the water, and some, of an amphibious nature, live in both. There are some, also, which are thought to be born in fire, and which often appear fluttering in burning furnaces.

In the first place, therefore, I ask you, Where is the habitation of your Deity? Secondly, What motive is it that stirs him from his place, supposing he ever moves? And, lastly, since it is peculiar to animated beings to have an inclination to something that is agreeable to their several natures, what is it that the Deity affects, and to what purpose does he exert the motion of his mind and reason? In short, how is he happy? how eternal? Whichever of these points you touch upon, I am afraid you will come lamely off. For there is never a proper end to reasoning which proceeds on a false foundation; for you asserted likewise that the form of the Deity is perceptible by the mind, but 247not by sense; that it is neither solid, nor invariable in number; that it is to be discerned by similitude and transition, and that a constant supply of images is perpetually flowing on from innumerable atoms, on which our minds are intent; so that we from that conclude that divine nature to be happy and everlasting.

XXXVIII. What, in the name of those Deities concerning whom we are now disputing, is the meaning of all this? For if they exist only in thought, and have no solidity nor substance, what difference can there be between thinking of a Hippocentaur and thinking of a Deity? Other philosophers call every such conformation of the mind a vain motion; but you term it “the approach and entrance of images into the mind.” Thus, when I imagine that I behold T. Gracchus haranguing the people in the Capitol, and collecting their suffrages concerning M. Octavius, I call that a vain motion of the mind: but you affirm that the images of Gracchus and Octavius are present, which are only conveyed to my mind when they have arrived at the Capitol. The case is the same, you say, in regard to the Deity, with the frequent representation of which the mind is so affected that from thence it may be clearly understood that the Gods98 are happy and eternal.

Let it be granted that there are images by which the mind is affected, yet it is only a certain form that occurs; and why must that form be pronounced happy? why eternal? But what are those images you talk of, or whence do they proceed? This loose manner of arguing is taken from Democritus; but he is reproved by many people for it; nor can you derive any conclusions from it: the whole system is weak and imperfect. For what can be more improbable than that the images of Homer, Archilochus, Romulus, Numa, Pythagoras, and Plato should come into my mind, and yet not in the form in which they existed? How, therefore, can they be those persons? And whose images are they? Aristotle tells us that there never was such a person as Orpheus the poet;99 and it is said that the verse 248called Orphic verse was the invention of Cercops, a Pythagorean; yet Orpheus, that is to say, the image of him, as you will have it, often runs in my head. What is the reason that I entertain one idea of the figure of the same person, and you another? Why do we image to ourselves such things as never had any existence, and which never can have, such as Scyllas and Chimæras? Why do we frame ideas of men, countries, and cities which we never saw? How is it that the very first moment that I choose I can form representations of them in my mind? How is it that they come to me, even in my sleep, without being called or sought after?

XXXIX. The whole affair, Velleius, is ridiculous. You do not impose images on our eyes only, but on our minds. Such is the privilege which you have assumed of talking nonsense with impunity. But there is, you say, a transition of images flowing on in great crowds in such a way that out of many some one at least must be perceived! I should be ashamed of my incapacity to understand this if you, who assert it, could comprehend it yourselves; for how do you prove that these images are continued in uninterrupted motion? Or, if uninterrupted, still how do you prove them to be eternal? There is a constant supply, you say, of innumerable atoms. But must they, for that reason, be all eternal? To elude this, you have recourse to equilibration (for so, with your leave, I will call your Ἰσονομία),100 and say that as there is a sort of nature mortal, so there must also be a sort which is immortal. By the same rule, as there are men mortal, there are men immortal; and as some arise from the earth, some must arise from the water also; and as there are causes which destroy, there must likewise be causes which preserve. Be it as you say; but let those causes preserve which have existence themselves. I cannot conceive these your Gods to have any. But how does all this face of things arise from atomic corpuscles? Were there any such atoms (as there 249are not), they might perhaps impel one another, and be jumbled together in their motion; but they could never be able to impart form, or figure, or color, or animation, so that you by no means demonstrate the immortality of your Deity.

XL. Let us now inquire into his happiness. It is certain that without virtue there can be no happiness; but virtue consists in action: now your Deity does nothing; therefore he is void of virtue, and consequently cannot be happy. What sort of life does he lead? He has a constant supply, you say, of good things, without any intermixture of bad. What are those good things? Sensual pleasures, no doubt; for you know no delight of the mind but what arises from the body, and returns to it. I do not suppose, Velleius, that you are like some of the Epicureans, who are ashamed of those expressions of Epicurus,101 in which he openly avows that he has no idea of any good separate from wanton and obscene pleasures, which, without a blush, he names distinctly. What food, therefore, what drink, what variety of music or flowers, what kind of pleasures of touch, what odors, will you offer to the Gods to fill them with pleasures? The poets indeed provide them with banquets of nectar and ambrosia, and a Hebe or a Ganymede to serve up the cup. But what is it, Epicurus, that you do for them? For I do not see from whence your Deity should have those things, nor how he could use them. Therefore the nature of man is better constituted for a happy life than the nature of the Gods, because men enjoy various kinds of pleasures; but you look on all those pleasures as superficial which delight the senses only by a titillation, as Epicurus calls it. Where is to be the end of this trifling? Even Philo, who followed the Academy, could not bear to hear the soft and luscious delights of the Epicureans despised; for with his admirable memory he perfectly remembered and used to repeat many sentences of Epicurus in the very words in which they were written. He likewise used to quote many, 250which were more gross, from Metrodorus, the sage colleague of Epicurus, who blamed his brother Timocrates because he would not allow that everything which had any reference to a happy life was to be measured by the belly; nor has he said this once only, but often. You grant what I say, I perceive; for you know it to be true. I can produce the books, if you should deny it; but I am not now reproving you for referring all things to the standard of pleasure: that is another question. What I am now showing is, that your Gods are destitute of pleasure; and therefore, according to your own manner of reasoning, they are not happy.

XLI. But they are free from pain. Is that sufficient for beings who are supposed to enjoy all good things and the most supreme felicity? The Deity, they say, is constantly meditating on his own happiness, for he has no other idea which can possibly occupy his mind. Consider a little; reflect what a figure the Deity would make if he were to be idly thinking of nothing through all eternity but “It is very well with me, and I am happy;” nor do I see why this happy Deity should not fear being destroyed, since, without any intermission, he is driven and agitated by an everlasting incursion of atoms, and since images are constantly floating off from him. Your Deity, therefore, is neither happy nor eternal.

Epicurus, it seems, has written books concerning sanctity and piety towards the Gods. But how does he speak on these subjects? You would say that you were listening to Coruncanius or Scævola, the high-priests, and not to a man who tore up all religion by the roots, and who overthrew the temples and altars of the immortal Gods; not, indeed, with hands, like Xerxes, but with arguments; for what reason is there for your saying that men ought to worship the Gods, when the Gods not only do not regard men, but are entirely careless of everything, and absolutely do nothing at all?

But they are, you say, of so glorious and excellent a nature that a wise man is induced by their excellence to adore them. Can there be any glory or excellence in that nature which only contemplates its own happiness, and neither will do, nor does, nor ever did anything? Besides, 251what piety is due to a being from whom you receive nothing? Or how can you, or any one else, be indebted to him who bestows no benefits? For piety is only justice towards the Gods; but what right have they to it, when there is no communication whatever between the Gods and men? And sanctity is the knowledge of how we ought to worship them; but I do not understand why they are to be worshipped, if we are neither to receive nor expect any good from them.

XLII. And why should we worship them from an admiration only of that nature in which we can behold nothing excellent? and as for that freedom from superstition, which you are in the habit of boasting of so much, it is easy to be free from that feeling when you have renounced all belief in the power of the Gods; unless, indeed, you imagine that Diagoras or Theodorus, who absolutely denied the being of the Gods, could possibly be superstitious. I do not suppose that even Protagoras could, who doubted whether there were Gods or not. The opinions of these philosophers are not only destructive of superstition, which arises from a vain fear of the Gods, but of religion also, which consists in a pious adoration of them.

What think you of those who have asserted that the whole doctrine concerning the immortal Gods was the invention of politicians, whose view was to govern that part of the community by religion which reason could not influence? Are not their opinions subversive of all religion? Or what religion did Prodicus the Chian leave to men, who held that everything beneficial to human life should be numbered among the Gods? Were not they likewise void of religion who taught that the Deities, at present the object of our prayers and adoration, were valiant, illustrious, and mighty men who arose to divinity after death? Euhemerus, whom our Ennius translated, and followed more than other authors, has particularly advanced this doctrine, and treated of the deaths and burials of the Gods; can he, then, be said to have confirmed religion, or, rather, to have totally subverted it? I shall say nothing of that sacred and august Eleusina, into whose mysteries the most distant nations were initiated, 252nor of the solemnities in Samothrace, or in Lemnos, secretly resorted to by night, and surrounded by thick and shady groves; which, if they were properly explained, and reduced to reasonable principles, would rather explain the nature of things than discover the knowledge of the Gods.

XLIII. Even that great man Democritus, from whose fountains Epicurus watered his little garden, seems to me to be very inferior to his usual acuteness when speaking about the nature of the Gods. For at one time he thinks that there are images endowed with divinity, inherent in the universality of things; at another, that the principles and minds contained in the universe are Gods; then he attributes divinity to animated images, employing themselves in doing us good or harm; and, lastly, he speaks of certain images of such vast extent that they encompass the whole outside of the universe; all which opinions are more worthy of the country102 of Democritus than of Democritus himself; for who can frame in his mind any ideas of such images? who can admire them? who can think they merit a religious adoration?

But Epicurus, when he divests the Gods of the power of doing good, extirpates all religion from the minds of men; for though he says the divine nature is the best and the most excellent of all natures, he will not allow it to be susceptible of any benevolence, by which he destroys the chief and peculiar attribute of the most perfect being. For what is better and more excellent than goodness and beneficence? To refuse your Gods that quality is to say that no man is any object of their favor, and no Gods either; that they neither love nor esteem any one; in short, that they not only give themselves no trouble about us, but even look on each other with the greatest indifference.

XLIV. How much more reasonable is the doctrine of the Stoics, whom you censure? It is one of their maxims that the wise are friends to the wise, though unknown to each other; for as nothing is more amiable than virtue, he who possesses it is worthy our love, to whatever country 253he belongs. But what evils do your principles bring, when you make good actions and benevolence the marks of imbecility! For, not to mention the power and nature of the Gods, you hold that even men, if they had no need of mutual assistance, would be neither courteous nor beneficent. Is there no natural charity in the dispositions of good men? The very name of love, from which friendship is derived, is dear to men;103 and if friendship is to centre in our own advantage only, without regard to him whom we esteem a friend, it cannot be called friendship, but a sort of traffic for our own profit. Pastures, lands, and herds of cattle are valued in the same manner on account of the profit we gather from them; but charity and friendship expect no return. How much more reason have we to think that the Gods, who want nothing, should love each other, and employ themselves about us! If it were not so, why should we pray to or adore them? Why do the priests preside over the altars, and the augurs over the auspices? What have we to ask of the Gods, and why do we prefer our vows to them?

But Epicurus, you say, has written a book concerning sanctity. A trifling performance by a man whose wit is not so remarkable in it, as the unrestrained license of writing which he has permitted himself; for what sanctity can there be if the Gods take no care of human affairs? Or how can that nature be called animated which neither regards nor performs anything? Therefore our friend Posidonius has well observed, in his fifth book of the Nature of the Gods, that Epicurus believed there were no Gods, and that what he had said about the immortal Gods was only said from a desire to avoid unpopularity. He could not be so weak as to imagine that the Deity has only the outward features of a simple mortal, without any real solidity; that he has all the members of a man, without the least power to use them—a certain unsubstantial pellucid being, neither favorable nor beneficial to any one, neither regarding nor doing anything. There can be no such being in nature; and as Epicurus said this plainly, he allows 254the Gods in words, and destroys them in fact; and if the Deity is truly such a being that he shows no favor, no benevolence to mankind, away with him! For why should I entreat him to be propitious? He can be propitious to none, since, as you say, all his favor and benevolence are the effects of imbecility.


I. When Cotta had thus concluded, Velleius replied: I certainly was inconsiderate to engage in argument with an Academician who is likewise a rhetorician. I should not have feared an Academician without eloquence, nor a rhetorician without that philosophy, however eloquent he might be; for I am never puzzled by an empty flow of words, nor by the most subtle reasonings delivered without any grace of oratory. But you, Cotta, have excelled in both. You only wanted the assembly and the judges. However, enough of this at present. Now, let us hear what Lucilius has to say, if it is agreeable to him.

I had much rather, says Balbus, hear Cotta resume his discourse, and demonstrate the true Gods with the same eloquence which he made use of to explode the false; for, on such a subject, the loose, unsettled doctrine of the Academy does not become a philosopher, a priest, a Cotta, whose opinions should be, like those we hold, firm and certain. Epicurus has been more than sufficiently refuted; but I would willingly hear your own sentiments, Cotta.

Do you forget, replies Cotta, what I at first said—that it is easier for me, especially on this point, to explain what opinions those are which I do not hold, rather than what those are which I do? Nay, even if I did feel some certainty on any particular point, yet, after having been so diffuse myself already, I would prefer now hearing you speak in your turn. I submit, says Balbus, and will be as brief as I possibly can; for as you have confuted the errors of Epicurus, my part in the dispute will be the shorter. 255Our sect divide the whole question concerning the immortal Gods into four parts. First, they prove that there are Gods; secondly, of what character and nature they are; thirdly, that the universe is governed by them; and, lastly, that they exercise a superintendence over human affairs. But in this present discussion let us confine ourselves to the first two articles, and defer the third and fourth till another opportunity, as they require more time to discuss. By no means, says Cotta, for we have time enough on our hands; besides that, we are now discussing a subject which should be preferred even to serious business.

II. The first point, then, says Lucilius, I think needs no discourse to prove it; for what can be so plain and evident, when we behold the heavens and contemplate the celestial bodies, as the existence of some supreme, divine intelligence, by which all these things are governed? Were it otherwise, Ennius would not, with a universal approbation, have said,

Look up to the refulgent heaven above,

Which all men call, unanimously, Jove.

This is Jupiter, the governor of the world, who rules all things with his nod, and is, as the same Ennius adds,

——of Gods and men the sire,104

an omnipresent and omnipotent God. And if any one doubts this, I really do not understand why the same man may not also doubt whether there is a sun or not. For what can possibly be more evident than this? And if it were not a truth universally impressed on the minds of men, the belief in it would never have been so firm; nor would it have been, as it is, increased by length of years, nor would it have gathered strength and stability through every age. And, in truth, we see that other opinions, being false and groundless, have already fallen into oblivion by lapse of time. Who now believes in Hippocentaurs and 256Chimæras? Or what old woman is now to be found so weak and ignorant as to stand in fear of those infernal monsters which once so terrified mankind? For time destroys the fictions of error and opinion, while it confirms the determinations of nature and of truth. And therefore it is that, both among us and among other nations, sacred institutions and the divine worship of the Gods have been strengthened and improved from time to time. And this is not to be imputed to chance or folly, but to the frequent appearance of the Gods themselves. In the war with the Latins, when A. Posthumius, the dictator, attacked Octavius Mamilius, the Tusculan, at Regillus, Castor and Pollux were seen fighting in our army on horseback; and since that the same offspring of Tyndarus gave notice of the defeat of Perses; for as P. Vatienus, the grandfather of the present young man of that name, was coming in the night to Rome from his government of Reate, two young men on white horses appeared to him, and told him that King105 Perses was that day taken prisoner. This news he carried to the senate, who immediately threw him into prison for speaking inconsiderately on a state affair; but when it was confirmed by letters from Paullus, he was recompensed by the senate with land and immunities.106 Nor do we forget when the Locrians defeated the people of Crotone, in a great battle on the banks of the river Sagra, that it was known the same day at the Olympic Games. The voices of the Fauns have been often heard, and Deities have appeared in forms so visible that they have compelled every one who is not senseless, or hardened in impiety, to confess the presence of the Gods.

III. What do predictions and foreknowledge of future events indicate, but that such future events are shown, pointed out, portended, and foretold to men? From whence they are called omens, signs, portents, prodigies. But though we should esteem fabulous what is said of 257Mopsus,107 Tiresias,108 Amphiaraus,109 Calchas,110 and Helenus111 (who would not have been delivered down to us as augurs even in fable if their art had been despised), may we not be sufficiently apprised of the power of the Gods by domestic examples? Will not the temerity of P. Claudius, in the first Punic war, affect us? who, when the poultry were let out of the coop and would not feed, ordered them to be thrown into the water, and, joking even upon the Gods, said, with a sneer, “Let them drink, since they will not eat;” which piece of ridicule, being followed by a victory over his fleet, cost him many tears, and brought great calamity on the Roman people. Did not his colleague Junius, in the same war, lose his fleet in a tempest by disregarding the auspices? Claudius, therefore, was condemned by the people, and Junius killed himself. Cœlius says that P. Flaminius, from his neglect of religion, fell at Thrasimenus; a loss which the public severely felt. By these instances of calamity we may be assured that Rome owes her grandeur and success to the conduct of those who were tenacious of their religious duties; and if we compare ourselves to our neighbors, we shall find that we are infinitely distinguished above foreign nations by our zeal for religious ceremonies, though in other things we may be only equal to them, and in other respects even inferior to them.

Ought we to contemn Attius Navius’s staff, with which 258he divided the regions of the vine to find his sow?112 I should despise it, if I were not aware that King Hostilius had carried on most important wars in deference to his auguries; but by the negligence of our nobility the discipline of the augury is now omitted, the truth of the auspices despised, and only a mere form observed; so that the most important affairs of the commonwealth, even the wars, on which the public safety depends, are conducted without any auspices; the Peremnia113 are discussed; no part of the Acumina114 performed; no select men are called to witness to the military testaments;115 our generals now begin their wars as soon as they have arranged the Auspicia. The force of religion was so great among our ancestors that some of their commanders have, with their faces veiled, and with the solemn, formal expressions of religion, sacrificed themselves to the immortal Gods to save their country.116 I could mention many of the Sibylline prophecies, and many answers of the haruspices, to confirm those things, which ought not to be doubted.

IV. For example: our augurs and the Etrurian haruspices saw the truth of their art established when P. Scipio and C. Figulus were consuls; for as Tiberius Gracchus, who was a second time consul, wished to proceed to a 259fresh election, the first Rogator,117 as he was collecting the suffrages, fell down dead on the spot. Gracchus nevertheless went on with the assembly, but perceiving that this accident had a religious influence on the people, he brought the affair before the senate. The senate thought fit to refer it to those who usually took cognizance of such things. The haruspices were called, and declared that the man who had acted as Rogator of the assembly had no right to do so; to which, as I have heard my father say, he replied with great warmth, Have I no right, who am consul, and augur, and favored by the Auspicia? And shall you, who are Tuscans and Barbarians, pretend that you have authority over the Roman Auspicia, and a right to give judgment in matters respecting the formality of our assemblies? Therefore, he then commanded them to withdraw; but not long afterward he wrote from his province118 to the college of augurs, acknowledging that in reading the books119 he remembered that he had illegally chosen a place for his tent in the gardens of Scipio, and had afterward entered the Pomœrium, in order to hold a senate, but that in repassing the same Pomœrium he had forgotten to take the auspices; and that, therefore, the consuls had been created informally. The augurs laid the case before the senate. The senate decreed that they should resign their charge, and so they accordingly abdicated. What greater example need we seek for? The wisest, perhaps the most excellent of men, chose to confess his fault, which he might have concealed, rather than leave the public the least atom of religious guilt; and the consuls chose to quit the highest office in the State, rather than fill it for a moment in defiance of religion. How great is the reputation of the augurs!

And is not the art of the soothsayers divine? And must not every one who sees what innumerable instances of the same kind there are confess the existence of the 260Gods? For they who have interpreters must certainly exist themselves; now, there are interpreters of the Gods; therefore we must allow there are Gods. But it may be said, perhaps, that all predictions are not accomplished. We may as well conclude there is no art of physic, because all sick persons do not recover. The Gods show us signs of future events; if we are occasionally deceived in the results, it is not to be imputed to the nature of the Gods, but to the conjectures of men. All nations agree that there are Gods; the opinion is innate, and, as it were, engraved in the minds of all men. The only point in dispute among us is, what they are.

V. Their existence no one denies. Cleanthes, one of our sect, imputes the way in which the idea of the Gods is implanted in the minds of men to four causes. The first is that which I just now mentioned—the foreknowledge of future things. The second is the great advantages which we enjoy from the temperature of the air, the fertility of the earth, and the abundance of various benefits of other kinds. The third cause is deduced from the terror with which the mind is affected by thunder, tempests, storms, snow, hail, devastation, pestilence, earthquakes often attended with hideous noises, showers of stones, and rain like drops of blood; by rocks and sudden openings of the earth; by monstrous births of men and beasts; by meteors in the air, and blazing stars, by the Greeks called cometæ, by us crinitæ, the appearance of which, in the late Octavian war,120 were foreboders of great calamities; by two suns, which, as I have heard my father say, happened in the consulate of Tuditanus and Aquillius, and in which year also another sun (P. Africanus) was extinguished. These things terrified mankind, and raised in them a firm belief of the existence of some celestial and divine power.

His fourth cause, and that the strongest, is drawn from the regularity of the motion and revolution of the heavens, the distinctness, variety, beauty, and order of the sun, moon, and all the stars, the appearance only of which is sufficient to convince us they are not the effects of chance; as when we enter into a house, or school, or court, and observe the exact order, discipline, and method of it, we cannot suppose 261that it is so regulated without a cause, but must conclude that there is some one who commands, and to whom obedience is paid. It is quite impossible for us to avoid thinking that the wonderful motions, revolutions, and order of those many and great bodies, no part of which is impaired by the countless and infinite succession of ages, must be governed and directed by some supreme intelligent being.

VI. Chrysippus, indeed, had a very penetrating genius; yet such is the doctrine which he delivers, that he seems rather to have been instructed by nature than to owe it to any discovery of his own. “If,” says he, “there is anything in the universe which no human reason, ability, or power can make, the being who produced it must certainly be preferable to man. Now, celestial bodies, and all those things which proceed in any eternal order, cannot be made by man; the being who made them is therefore preferable to man. What, then, is that being but a God? If there be no such thing as a Deity, what is there better than man, since he only is possessed of reason, the most excellent of all things? But it is a foolish piece of vanity in man to think there is nothing preferable to him. There is, therefore, something preferable; consequently, there is certainly a God.”

When you behold a large and beautiful house, surely no one can persuade you it was built for mice and weasels, though you do not see the master; and would it not, therefore, be most manifest folly to imagine that a world so magnificently adorned, with such an immense variety of celestial bodies of such exquisite beauty, and that the vast sizes and magnitude of the sea and land were intended as the abode of man, and not as the mansion of the immortal Gods? Do we not also plainly see this, that all the most elevated regions are the best, and that the earth is the lowest region, and is surrounded with the grossest air? so that as we perceive that in some cities and countries the capacities of men are naturally duller, from the thickness of the climate, so mankind in general are affected by the heaviness of the air which surrounds the earth, the grossest region of the world.

Yet even from this inferior intelligence of man we may 262discover the existence of some intelligent agent that is divine, and wiser than ourselves; for, as Socrates says in Xenophon, from whence had man his portion of understanding? And, indeed, if any one were to push his inquiries about the moisture and heat which is diffused through the human body, and the earthy kind of solidity existing in our entrails, and that soul by which we breathe, and to ask whence we derived them, it would be plain that we have received one thing from the earth, another from liquid, another from fire, and another from that air which we inhale every time that we breathe.

VII. But where did we find that which excels all these things—I mean reason, or (if you please, in other terms) the mind, understanding, thought, prudence; and from whence did we receive it? Shall the world be possessed of every other perfection, and be destitute of this one, which is the most important and valuable of all? But certainly there is nothing better, or more excellent, or more beautiful than the world; and not only there is nothing better, but we cannot even conceive anything superior to it; and if reason and wisdom are the greatest of all perfections, they must necessarily be a part of what we all allow to be the most excellent.

Who is not compelled to admit the truth of what I assert by that agreeable, uniform, and continued agreement of things in the universe? Could the earth at one season be adorned with flowers, at another be covered with snow? Or, if such a number of things regulated their own changes, could the approach and retreat of the sun in the summer and winter solstices be so regularly known and calculated? Could the flux and reflux of the sea and the height of the tides be affected by the increase or wane of the moon? Could the different courses of the stars be preserved by the uniform movement of the whole heaven? Could these things subsist, I say, in such a harmony of all the parts of the universe without the continued influence of a divine spirit?

If these points are handled in a free and copious manner, as I purpose to do, they will be less liable to the cavils of the Academics; but the narrow, confined way in which Zeno reasoned upon them laid them more open to 263objection; for as running streams are seldom or never tainted, while standing waters easily grow corrupt, so a fluency of expression washes away the censures of the caviller, while the narrow limits of a discourse which is too concise is almost defenceless; for the arguments which I am enlarging upon are thus briefly laid down by Zeno:

VIII. “That which reasons is superior to that which does not; nothing is superior to the world; the world, therefore, reasons.” By the same rule the world may be proved to be wise, happy, and eternal; for the possession of all these qualities is superior to the want of them; and nothing is superior to the world; the inevitable consequence of which argument is, that the world, therefore, is a Deity. He goes on: “No part of anything void of sense is capable of perception; some parts of the world have perception; the world, therefore, has sense.” He proceeds, and pursues the argument closely. “Nothing,” says he, “that is destitute itself of life and reason can generate a being possessed of life and reason; but the world does generate beings possessed of life and reason; the world, therefore, is not itself destitute of life and reason.”

He concludes his argument in his usual manner with a simile: “If well-tuned pipes should spring out of the olive, would you have the slightest doubt that there was in the olive-tree itself some kind of skill and knowledge? Or if the plane-tree could produce harmonious lutes, surely you would infer, on the same principle, that music was contained in the plane-tree. Why, then, should we not believe the world is a living and wise being, since it produces living and wise beings out of itself?”

IX. But as I have been insensibly led into a length of discourse beyond my first design (for I said that, as the existence of the Gods was evident to all, there was no need of any long oration to prove it), I will demonstrate it by reasons deduced from the nature of things. For it is a fact that all beings which take nourishment and increase contain in themselves a power of natural heat, without which they could neither be nourished nor increase. For everything which is of a warm and fiery character is agitated and stirred up by its own motion. But that which is nourished and grows is influenced by a certain regular 264and equable motion. And as long as this motion remains in us, so long does sense and life remain; but the moment that it abates and is extinguished, we ourselves decay and perish.

By arguments like these, Cleanthes shows how great is the power of heat in all bodies. He observes that there is no food so gross as not to be digested in a night and a day; and that even in the excrementitious parts, which nature rejects, there remains a heat. The veins and arteries seem, by their continual quivering, to resemble the agitation of fire; and it has often been observed when the heart of an animal is just plucked from the body that it palpitates with such visible motion as to resemble the rapidity of fire. Everything, therefore, that has life, whether it be animal or vegetable, owes that life to the heat inherent in it; it is this nature of heat which contains in itself the vital power which extends throughout the whole world. This will appear more clearly on a more close explanation of this fiery quality, which pervades all things.

Every division, then, of the world (and I shall touch upon the most considerable) is sustained by heat; and first it may be observed in earthly substances that fire is produced from stones by striking or rubbing one against another; that “the warm earth smokes”121 when just turned up, and that water is drawn warm from well-springs; and this is most especially the case in the winter season, because there is a great quantity of heat contained in the caverns of the earth; and this becomes more dense in the winter, and on that account confines more closely the innate heat which is discoverable in the earth.

X. It would require a long dissertation, and many reasons would require to be adduced, to show that all the seeds which the earth conceives, and all those which it contains having been generated from itself, and fixed in roots and trunks, derive all their origin and increase from the temperature and regulation of heat. And that even every liquor has a mixture of heat in it is plainly demonstrated by the effusion of water; for it would not congeal by cold, nor become solid, as ice or snow, and return again 265to its natural state, if it were not that, when heat is applied to it, it again becomes liquefied and dissolved, and so diffuses itself. Therefore, by northern and other cold winds it is frozen and hardened, and in turn it dissolves and melts again by heat. The seas likewise, we find, when agitated by winds, grow warm, so that from this fact we may understand that there is heat included in that vast body of water; for we cannot imagine it to be external and adventitious heat, but such as is stirred up by agitation from the deep recesses of the seas; and the same thing takes place with respect to our bodies, which grow warm with motion and exercise.

And the very air itself, which indeed is the coldest element, is by no means void of heat; for there is a great quantity, arising from the exhalations of water, which appears to be a sort of steam occasioned by its internal heat, like that of boiling liquors. The fourth part of the universe is entirely fire, and is the source of the salutary and vital heat which is found in the rest. From hence we may conclude that, as all parts of the world are sustained by heat, the world itself also has such a great length of time subsisted from the same cause; and so much the more, because we ought to understand that that hot and fiery principle is so diffused over universal nature that there is contained in it a power and cause of generation and procreation, from which all animate beings, and all those creatures of the vegetable world, the roots of which are contained in the earth, must inevitably derive their origin and their increase.

XI. It is nature, consequently, that continues and preserves the world, and that, too, a nature which is not destitute of sense and reason; for in every essence that is not simple, but composed of several parts, there must be some predominant quality—as, for instance, the mind in man, and in beasts something resembling it, from which arise all the appetites and desires for anything. As for trees, and all the vegetable produce of the earth, it is thought to be in their roots. I call that the predominant quality,122 which 266the Greeks call ἡγεμονικόν; which must and ought to be the most excellent quality, wherever it is found. That, therefore, in which the prevailing quality of all nature resides must be the most excellent of all things, and most worthy of the power and pre-eminence over all things.

Now, we see that there is nothing in being that is not a part of the universe; and as there are sense and reason in the parts of it, there must therefore be these qualities, and these, too, in a more energetic and powerful degree, in that part in which the predominant quality of the world is found. The world, therefore, must necessarily be possessed of wisdom; and that element, which embraces all things, must excel in perfection of reason. The world, therefore, is a God, and the whole power of the world is contained in that divine element.

The heat also of the world is more pure, clear, and lively, and, consequently, better adapted to move the senses than the heat allotted to us; and it vivifies and preserves all things within the compass of our knowledge.

It is absurd, therefore, to say that the world, which is endued with a perfect, free, pure, spirituous, and active heat, is not sensitive, since by this heat men and beasts are preserved, and move, and think; more especially since this heat of the world is itself the sole principle of agitation, and has no external impulse, but is moved spontaneously; for what can be more powerful than the world, which moves and raises that heat by which it subsists?

XII. For let us listen to Plato, who is regarded as a God among philosophers. He says that there are two sorts of motion, one innate and the other external; and that that which is moved spontaneously is more divine than that which is moved by another power. This self-motion he places in the mind alone, and concludes that the first principle of motion is derived from the mind. Therefore, since all motion arises from the heat of the world, and that heat is not moved by the effect of any external impulse, but of its own accord, it must necessarily be a mind; from whence it follows that the world is animated.

On such reasoning is founded this opinion, that the world is possessed of understanding, because it certainly has more perfections in itself than any other nature; for 267as there is no part of our bodies so considerable as the whole of us, so it is clear that there is no particular portion of the universe equal in magnitude to the whole of it; from whence it follows that wisdom must be an attribute of the world; otherwise man, who is a part of it, and possessed of reason, would be superior to the entire world.

And thus, if we proceed from the first rude, unfinished natures to the most superior and perfect ones, we shall inevitably come at last to the nature of the Gods. For, in the first place, we observe that those vegetables which are produced out of the earth are supported by nature, and she gives them no further supply than is sufficient to preserve them by nourishing them and making them grow. To beasts she has given sense and motion, and a faculty which directs them to what is wholesome, and prompts them to shun what is noxious to them. On man she has conferred a greater portion of her favor; inasmuch as she has added reason, by which he is enabled to command his passions, to moderate some, and to subdue others.

XIII. In the fourth and highest degree are those beings which are naturally wise and good, who from the first moment of their existence are possessed of right and consistent reason, which we must consider superior to man and deserving to be attributed to a God; that is to say, to the world, in which it is inevitable that that perfect and complete reason should be inherent. Nor is it possible that it should be said with justice that there is any arrangement of things in which there cannot be something entire and perfect. For as in a vine or in beasts we see that nature, if not prevented by some superior violence, proceeds by her own appropriate path to her destined end; and as in painting, architecture, and the other arts there is a point of perfection which is attainable, and occasionally attained, so it is even much more necessary that in universal nature there must be some complete and perfect result arrived at. Many external accidents may happen to all other natures which may impede their progress to perfection, but nothing can hinder universal nature, because she is herself the ruler and governor of all other natures. That, therefore, must be the fourth and most elevated degree to which no other power can approach.

268But this degree is that on which the nature of all things is placed; and since she is possessed of this, and she presides over all things, and is subject to no possible impediment, the world must necessarily be an intelligent and even a wise being. But how marvellously great is the ignorance of those men who dispute the perfection of that nature which encircles all things; or who, allowing it to be infinitely perfect, yet deny it to be, in the first place, animated, then reasonable, and, lastly, prudent and wise! For how without these qualities could it be infinitely perfect? If it were like vegetables, or even like beasts, there would be no more reason for thinking it extremely good than extremely bad; and if it were possessed of reason, and had not wisdom from the beginning, the world would be in a worse condition than man; for man may grow wise, but the world, if it were destitute of wisdom through an infinite space of time past, could never acquire it. Thus it would be worse than man. But as that is absurd to imagine, the world must be esteemed wise from all eternity, and consequently a Deity: since there is nothing existing that is not defective, except the universe, which is well provided, and fully complete and perfect in all its numbers and parts.

XIV. For Chrysippus says, very acutely, that as the case is made for the buckler, and the scabbard for the sword, so all things, except the universe, were made for the sake of something else. As, for instance, all those crops and fruits which the earth produces were made for the sake of animals, and animals for man; as, the horse for carrying, the ox for the plough, the dog for hunting and for a guard. But man himself was born to contemplate and imitate the world, being in no wise perfect, but, if I may so express myself, a particle of perfection; but the world, as it comprehends all, and as nothing exists that is not contained in it, is entirely perfect. In what, therefore, can it be defective, since it is perfect? It cannot want understanding and reason, for they are the most desirable of all qualities. The same Chrysippus observes also, by the use of similitudes, that everything in its kind, when arrived at maturity and perfection, is superior to that which is not—as, a horse to a colt, a dog to a puppy, and a man to a boy—so whatever 269is best in the whole universe must exist in some complete and perfect being. But nothing is more perfect than the world, and nothing better than virtue. Virtue, therefore, is an attribute of the world. But human nature is not perfect, and nevertheless virtue is produced in it: with how much greater reason, then, do we conceive it to be inherent in the world! Therefore the world has virtue, and it is also wise, and consequently a Deity.

XV. The divinity of the world being now clearly perceived, we must acknowledge the same divinity to be likewise in the stars, which are formed from the lightest and purest part of the ether, without a mixture of any other matter; and, being altogether hot and transparent, we may justly say they have life, sense, and understanding. And Cleanthes thinks that it may be established by the evidence of two of our senses—feeling and seeing—that they are entirely fiery bodies; for the heat and brightness of the sun far exceed any other fire, inasmuch as it enlightens the whole universe, covering such a vast extent of space, and its power is such that we perceive that it not only warms, but often even burns: neither of which it could do if it were not of a fiery quality. Since, then, says he, the sun is a fiery body, and is nourished by the vapors of the ocean (for no fire can continue without some sustenance), it must be either like that fire which we use to warm us and dress our food, or like that which is contained in the bodies of animals.

And this fire, which the convenience of life requires, is the devourer and consumer of everything, and throws into confusion and destroys whatever it reaches. On the contrary, the corporeal heat is full of life, and salutary; and vivifies, preserves, cherishes, increases, and sustains all things, and is productive of sense; therefore, says he, there can be no doubt which of these fires the sun is like, since it causes all things in their respective kinds to flourish and arrive to maturity; and as the fire of the sun is like that which is contained in the bodies of animated beings, the sun itself must likewise be animated, and so must the other stars also, which arise out of the celestial ardor that we call the sky, or firmament.

As, then, some animals are generated in the earth, some 270in the water, and some in the air, Aristotle123 thinks it ridiculous to imagine that no animal is formed in that part of the universe which is the most capable to produce them. But the stars are situated in the ethereal space; and as this is an element the most subtle, whose motion is continual, and whose force does not decay, it follows, of necessity, that every animated being which is produced in it must be endowed with the quickest sense and the swiftest motion. The stars, therefore, being there generated, it is a natural inference to suppose them endued with such a degree of sense and understanding as places them in the rank of Gods.

XVI. For it may be observed that they who inhabit countries of a pure, clear air have a quicker apprehension and a readier genius than those who live in a thick, foggy climate. It is thought likewise that the nature of a man’s diet has an effect on the mind; therefore it is probable that the stars are possessed of an excellent understanding, inasmuch as they are situated in the ethereal part of the universe, and are nourished by the vapors of the earth and sea, which are purified by their long passage to the heavens. But the invariable order and regular motion of the stars plainly manifest their sense and understanding; for all motion which seems to be conducted with reason and harmony supposes an intelligent principle, that does not act blindly, or inconsistently, or at random. And this regularity and consistent course of the stars from all eternity indicates not any natural order, for it is pregnant with sound reason, not fortune (for fortune, being a friend to change, despises consistency). It follows, therefore, that they move spontaneously by their own sense and divinity.

Aristotle also deserves high commendation for his observation that everything that moves is either put in motion by natural impulse, or by some external force, or of its own accord; and that the sun, and moon, and all the stars move; but that those things which are moved by natural impulse are either borne downward by their weight, or upward by their lightness; neither of which things could be the case with the stars, because they move in a regular circle and orbit. Nor can it be said that 271there is some superior force which causes the stars to be moved in a manner contrary to nature. For what superior force can there be? It follows, therefore, that their motion must be voluntary. And whoever is convinced of this must discover not only great ignorance, but great impiety likewise, if he denies the existence of the Gods; nor is the difference great whether a man denies their existence, or deprives them of all design and action; for whatever is wholly inactive seems to me not to exist at all. Their existence, therefore, appears so plain that I can scarcely think that man in his senses who denies it.

XVII. It now remains that we consider what is the character of the Gods. Nothing is more difficult than to divert our thoughts and judgment from the information of our corporeal sight, and the view of objects which our eyes are accustomed to; and it is this difficulty which has had such an influence on the unlearned, and on philosophers124 also who resembled the unlearned multitude, that they have been unable to form any idea of the immortal Gods except under the clothing of the human figure; the weakness of which opinion Cotta has so well confuted that I need not add my thoughts upon it. But as the previous idea which we have of the Deity comprehends two things—first of all, that he is an animated being; secondly, that there is nothing in all nature superior to him—I do not see what can be more consistent with this idea and preconception than to attribute a mind and divinity to the world,125 the most excellent of all beings.

Epicurus may be as merry with this notion as he pleases; a man not the best qualified for a joker, as not having the wit and sense of his country.126 Let him say that a voluble round Deity is to him incomprehensible; yet he shall never dissuade me from a principle which he himself approves, for he is of opinion there are Gods when he allows that there must be a nature excellently perfect. But it is certain 272that the world is most excellently perfect: nor is it to be doubted that whatever has life, sense, reason, and understanding must excel that which is destitute of these things. It follows, then, that the world has life, sense, reason, and understanding, and is consequently a Deity. But this shall soon be made more manifest by the operation of these very things which the world causes.

XVIII. In the mean while, Velleius, let me entreat you not to be always saying that we are utterly destitute of every sort of learning. The cone, you say, the cylinder, and the pyramid, are more beautiful to you than the sphere. This is to have different eyes from other men. But suppose they are more beautiful to the sight only, which does not appear to me, for I can see nothing more beautiful than that figure which contains all others, and which has nothing rough in it, nothing offensive, nothing cut into angles, nothing broken, nothing swelling, and nothing hollow; yet as there are two forms most esteemed,127 the globe in solids (for so the Greek word σφαῖρα, I think, should be construed), and the circle, or orb, in planes (in Greek, κύκλος); and as they only have an exact similitude of parts in which every extreme is equally distant from the centre, what can we imagine in nature to be more just and proper? But if you have never raked into this learned dust128 to find out these things, surely, at all events, you natural philosophers must know that equality of motion and invariable order could not be preserved in any other figure. Nothing, therefore, can be more illiterate than to assert, as you are in the habit of doing, that it is doubtful whether the world is round or not, because it may possibly be of another shape, and that there are innumerable worlds of different forms; which Epicurus, if he ever had learned that two and two are equal to four, would not have said. But while he judges of what is best by his palate, he does not look up to the “palace of heaven,” as Ennius calls it.

XIX. For as there are two sorts of stars,129 one kind of 273which measure their journey from east to west by immutable stages, never in the least varying from their usual course, while the other completes a double revolution with an equally constant regularity; from each of these facts we demonstrate the volubility of the world (which could not possibly take place in any but a globular form) and the circular orbits of the stars. And first of all the sun, which has the chief rank among all the stars, is moved in such a manner that it fills the whole earth with its light, and illuminates alternately one part of the earth, while it leaves the other in darkness. The shadow of the earth interposing causes night; and the intervals of night are equal to those of day. And it is the regular approaches and retreats of the sun from which arise the regulated degrees of cold and heat. His annual circuit is in three hundred and sixty-five days, and nearly six hours more.130 At one time he bends his course to the north, at another to the south, and thus produces summer and winter, with the other two seasons, one of which succeeds the decline of winter, and the other that of summer. And so to these four changes of the seasons we attribute the origin and cause of all the productions both of sea and land.

The moon completes the same course every month which the sun does in a year. The nearer she approaches to the sun, the dimmer light does she yield, and when most remote from it she shines with the fullest brilliancy; nor are her figure and form only changed in her wane, but her situation likewise, which is sometimes in the north and sometimes in the south. By this course she has a sort of summer and winter solstices; and by her influence she contributes to the nourishment and increase of animated 274beings, and to the ripeness and maturity of all vegetables.

XX. But most worthy our admiration is the motion of those five stars which are falsely called wandering stars; for they cannot be said to wander which keep from all eternity their approaches and retreats, and have all the rest of their motions, in one regular constant and established order. What is yet more wonderful in these stars which we are speaking of is that sometimes they appear, and sometimes they disappear; sometimes they advance towards the sun, and sometimes they retreat; sometimes they precede him, and sometimes follow him; sometimes they move faster, sometimes slower, and sometimes they do not stir in the least, but for a while stand still. From these unequal motions of the planets, mathematicians have called that the “great year”131 in which the sun, moon, and five wandering stars, having finished their revolutions, are found in their original situation. In how long a time this is effected is much disputed, but it must be a certain and definite period. For the planet Saturn (called by the Greeks Φαίνον), which is farthest from the earth, finishes his course in about thirty years; and in his course there is something very singular, for sometimes he moves before the sun, sometimes he keeps behind it; at one time lying hidden in the night, at another again appearing in the morning; and ever performing the same motions in the same space of time without any alteration, so as to be for infinite ages regular in these courses. Beneath this planet, and nearer the earth, is Jupiter, called Φαέθων, which passes the same orbit of the twelve signs132 in twelve years, and goes through exactly the same variety in its course that the star of Saturn does. Next to Jupiter is the planet Mars (in Greek, Πυρόεις), which finishes its revolution through the same orbit as the two previously mentioned,133 in twenty-four months, wanting six days, as I 275imagine. Below this is Mercury (called by the Greeks Στίλβων), which performs the same course in little less than a year, and is never farther distant from the sun than the space of one sign, whether it precedes or follows it. The lowest of the five planets, and nearest the earth, is that of Venus (called in Greek Φωσφόρος). Before the rising of the sun, it is called the morning-star, and after the setting, the evening-star. It has the same revolution through the zodiac, both as to latitude and longitude, with the other planets, in a year, and never is more than two134 signs from the sun, whether it precedes or follows it.

XXI. I cannot, therefore, conceive that this constant course of the planets, this just agreement in such various motions through all eternity, can be preserved without a mind, reason, and consideration; and since we may perceive these qualities in the stars, we cannot but place them in the rank of Gods. Those which are called the fixed stars have the same indications of reason and prudence. Their motion is daily, regular, and constant. They do not move with the sky, nor have they an adhesion to the firmament, as they who are ignorant of natural philosophy affirm. For the sky, which is thin, transparent, and suffused with an equal heat, does not seem by its nature to have power to whirl about the stars, or to be proper to contain them. The fixed stars, therefore, have their own sphere, separate and free from any conjunction with the sky. Their perpetual courses, with that admirable and incredible regularity of theirs, so plainly declare a divine power and mind to be in them, that he who cannot perceive that they are also endowed with divine power must be incapable of all perception whatever.

In the heavens, therefore, there is nothing fortuitous, unadvised, inconstant, or variable: all there is order, truth, reason, and constancy; and all the things which are destitute of these qualities are counterfeit, deceitful, and erroneous, and have their residence about the earth135 beneath the moon, the lowest of all the planets. He, therefore, 276who believes that this admirable order and almost incredible regularity of the heavenly bodies, by which the preservation and entire safety of all things is secured, is destitute of intelligence, must be considered to be himself wholly destitute of all intellect whatever.

I think, then, I shall not deceive myself in maintaining this dispute upon the principle of Zeno, who went the farthest in his search after truth.

XXII. Zeno, then, defines nature to be “an artificial fire, proceeding in a regular way to generation;” for he thinks that to create and beget are especial properties of art, and that whatever may be wrought by the hands of our artificers is much more skilfully performed by nature, that is, by this artificial fire, which is the master of all other arts.

According to this manner of reasoning, every particular nature is artificial, as it operates agreeably to a certain method peculiar to itself; but that universal nature which embraces all things is said by Zeno to be not only artificial, but absolutely the artificer, ever thinking and providing all things useful and proper; and as every particular nature owes its rise and increase to its own proper seed, so universal nature has all her motions voluntary, has affections and desires (by the Greeks called ὁρμὰς) productive of actions agreeable to them, like us, who have sense and understanding to direct us. Such, then, is the intelligence of the universe; for which reason it may be properly termed prudence or providence (in Greek, πρόνοια), since her chiefest care and employment is to provide all things fit for its duration, that it may want nothing, and, above all, that it may be adorned with all perfection of beauty and ornament.

XXIII. Thus far have I spoken concerning the universe, and also of the stars; from whence it is apparent that there is almost an infinite number of Gods, always in action, but without labor or fatigue; for they are not composed of veins, nerves, and bones; their food and drink are not such as cause humors too gross or too subtle; nor are their bodies such as to be subject to the fear of falls or blows, or in danger of diseases from a weariness of limbs. Epicurus, to secure his Gods from such accidents, 277has made them only outlines of Deities, void of action; but our Gods being of the most beautiful form, and situated in the purest region of the heavens, dispose and rule their course in such a manner that they seem to contribute to the support and preservation of all things.

Besides these, there are many other natures which have with reason been deified by the wisest Grecians, and by our ancestors, in consideration of the benefits derived from them; for they were persuaded that whatever was of great utility to human kind must proceed from divine goodness, and the name of the Deity was applied to that which the Deity produced, as when we call corn Ceres, and wine Bacchus; whence that saying of Terence,136

Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus starves.

And any quality, also, in which there was any singular virtue was nominated a Deity, such as Faith and Wisdom, which are placed among the divinities in the Capitol; the last by Æmilius Scaurus, but Faith was consecrated before by Atilius Calatinus. You see the temple of Virtue and that of Honor repaired by M. Marcellus, erected formerly, in the Ligurian war, by Q. Maximus. Need I mention those dedicated to Help, Safety, Concord, Liberty, and Victory, which have been called Deities, because their efficacy has been so great that it could not have proceeded from any but from some divine power? In like manner are the names of Cupid, Voluptas, and of Lubentine Venus consecrated, though they were things vicious and not natural, whatever Velleius may think to the contrary, for they frequently stimulate nature in too violent a manner. Everything, then, from which any great utility proceeded was deified; and, indeed, the names I have just now mentioned are declaratory of the particular virtue of each Deity.

XXIV. It has been a general custom likewise, that men who have done important service to the public should be exalted to heaven by fame and universal consent. Thus Hercules, Castor and Pollux, Æsculapius, and Liber became Gods (I mean Liber137 the son of Semele, and not him138 whom our ancestors consecrated in such state and 278solemnity with Ceres and Libera; the difference in which may be seen in our Mysteries.139 But because the offsprings of our bodies are called “Liberi” (children), therefore the offsprings of Ceres are called Liber and Libera (Libera140 is the feminine, and Liber the masculine); thus likewise Romulus, or Quirinus—for they are thought to be the same—became a God.

They are justly esteemed as Deities, since their souls subsist and enjoy eternity, from whence they are perfect and immortal beings.

There is another reason, too, and that founded on natural philosophy, which has greatly contributed to the number of Deities; namely, the custom of representing in human form a crowd of Gods who have supplied the poets with fables, and filled mankind with all sorts of superstition. Zeno has treated of this subject, but it has been discussed more at length by Cleanthes and Chrysippus. All Greece was of opinion that Cœlum was castrated by his son Saturn,141 and that Saturn was chained by his son Jupiter. In these impious fables, a physical and not inelegant meaning is contained; for they would denote that the celestial, most exalted, and ethereal nature—that is, the fiery nature, which produces all things by itself—is destitute of that part of the body which is necessary for the act of generation by conjunction with another.

XXV. By Saturn they mean that which comprehends the course and revolution of times and seasons; the Greek name for which Deity implies as much, for he is called 279Κρόνος, which is the same with Χρόνος, that is, a “space of time.” But he is called Saturn, because he is filled (saturatur) with years; and he is usually feigned to have devoured his children, because time, ever insatiable, consumes the rolling years; but to restrain him from immoderate haste, Jupiter has confined him to the course of the stars, which are as chains to him. Jupiter (that is, juvans pater) signifies a “helping father,” whom, by changing the cases, we call Jove,142 a juvando. The poets call him “father of Gods and men;”143 and our ancestors “the most good, the most great;” and as there is something more glorious in itself, and more agreeable to others, to be good (that is, beneficent) than to be great, the title of “most good” precedes that of “most great.” This, then, is he whom Ennius means in the following passage, before quoted—

Look up to the refulgent heaven above,

Which all men call, unanimously, Jove:

which is more plainly expressed than in this other passage144 of the same poet—

On whose account I’ll curse that flood of light,

Whate’er it is above that shines so bright.

Our augurs also mean the same, when, for the “thundering and lightning heaven,” they say the “thundering and lightning Jove.” Euripides, among many excellent things, has this:

The vast, expanded, boundless sky behold,

See it with soft embrace the earth enfold;

This own the chief of Deities above,

And this acknowledge by the name of Jove.

XXVI. The air, according to the Stoics, which is between the sea and the heaven, is consecrated by the name of Juno, and is called the sister and wife of Jove, because 280it resembles the sky, and is in close conjunction with it. They have made it feminine, because there is nothing softer. But I believe it is called Juno, a juvando (from helping).

To make three separate kingdoms, by fable, there remained yet the water and the earth. The dominion of the sea is given, therefore, to Neptune, a brother, as he is called, of Jove; whose name, Neptunus—as Portunus, a portu, from a port—is derived a nando (from swimming), the first letters being a little changed. The sovereignty and power over the earth is the portion of a God, to whom we, as well as the Greeks, have given a name that denotes riches (in Latin, Dis; in Greek, Πλούτων), because all things arise from the earth and return to it. He forced away Proserpine (in Greek called Περσεφόνη), by which the poets mean the “seed of corn,” from whence comes their fiction of Ceres, the mother of Proserpine, seeking for her daughter, who was hidden from her. She is called Ceres, which is the same as Geres—a gerendis frugibus145—“from bearing fruit,” the first letter of the word being altered after the manner of the Greeks, for by them she is called Δημήτηρ, the same as Γημήτηρ.146 Again, he (qui magna vorteret) “who brings about mighty changes” is called Mavors; and Minerva is so called because (minueret, or minaretur) she diminishes or menaces.

XXVII. And as the beginnings and endings of all things are of the greatest importance, therefore they would have their sacrifices to begin with Janus.147 His name is derived ab eundo, from passing; from whence thorough passages are called jani, and the outward doors of common houses are called januæ. The name of Vesta is, from the Greeks, the same with their Ἑστία. Her province is over altars and hearths; and in the name of this Goddess, who is the keeper of all things within, prayers and sacrifices are concluded. The Dii Penates, “household Gods,” have some affinity with this power, and are so called either from penus, 281“all kind of human provisions,” or because penitus insident (they reside within), from which, by the poets, they are called penetrales also. Apollo, a Greek name, is called Sol, the sun; and Diana, Luna, the moon. The sun (sol) is so named either because he is solus (alone), so eminent above all the stars; or because he obscures all the stars, and appears alone as soon as he rises. Luna, the moon, is so called a lucendo (from shining); she bears the name also of Lucina: and as in Greece the women in labor invoke Diana Lucifera, so here they invoke Juno Lucina. She is likewise called Diana omnivaga, not a venando (from hunting), but because she is reckoned one of the seven stars that seem to wander.148 She is called Diana because she makes a kind of day of the night;149 and presides over births, because the delivery is effected sometimes in seven, or at most in nine, courses of the moon; which, because they make mensa spatia (measured spaces), are called menses (months). This occasioned a pleasant observation of Timæus (as he has many). Having said in his history that “the same night in which Alexander was born, the temple of Diana at Ephesus was burned down,” he adds, “It is not in the least to be wondered at, because Diana, being willing to assist at the labor of Olympias,150 was absent from home.” But to this Goddess, because ad res omnes veniret—“she has an influence upon all things”—we have given the appellation of Venus,151 from whom the word venustas (beauty) is rather derived than Venus from venustas.

XXVIII. Do you not see, therefore, how, from the productions of nature and the useful inventions of men, have arisen fictitious and imaginary Deities, which have been the foundation of false opinions, pernicious errors, and wretched superstitions? For we know how the different forms of the Gods—their ages, apparel, ornaments; their 282pedigrees, marriages, relations, and everything belonging to them—are adapted to human weakness and represented with our passions; with lust, sorrow, and anger, according to fabulous history: they have had wars and combats, not only, as Homer relates, when they have interested themselves in two different armies, but when they have fought battles in their own defence against the Titans and giants. These stories, of the greatest weakness and levity, are related and believed with the most implicit folly.

But, rejecting these fables with contempt, a Deity is diffused in every part of nature; in earth under the name of Ceres, in the sea under the name of Neptune, in other parts under other names. Yet whatever they are, and whatever characters and dispositions they have, and whatever name custom has given them, we are bound to worship and adore them. The best, the chastest, the most sacred and pious worship of the Gods is to reverence them always with a pure, perfect, and unpolluted mind and voice; for our ancestors, as well as the philosophers, have separated superstition from religion. They who prayed whole days and sacrificed, that their children might survive them (ut superstites essent), were called superstitious, which word became afterward more general; but they who diligently perused, and, as we may say, read or practised over again, all the duties relating to the worship of the Gods, were called religiosi—religious, from relegendo—“reading over again, or practising;” as elegantes, elegant, ex eligendo, “from choosing, making a good choice;” diligentes, diligent, ex diligendo, “from attending on what we love;” intelligentes, intelligent, from understanding—for the signification is derived in the same manner. Thus are the words superstitious and religious understood; the one being a term of reproach, the other of commendation. I think I have now sufficiently demonstrated that there are Gods, and what they are.

XXIX. I am now to show that the world is governed by the providence of the Gods. This is an important point, which you Academics endeavor to confound; and, indeed, the whole contest is with you, Cotta; for your sect, Velleius, know very little of what is said on different subjects by other schools. You read and have a taste only for 283your own books, and condemn all others without examination. For instance, when you mentioned yesterday152 that prophetic old dame Πρόνοια, Providence, invented by the Stoics, you were led into that error by imagining that Providence was made by them to be a particular Deity that governs the whole universe, whereas it is only spoken in a short manner; as when it is said “The commonwealth of Athens is governed by the council,” it is meant “of the Areopagus;”153 so when we say “The world is governed by providence,” we mean “by the providence of the Gods.” To express ourselves, therefore, more fully and clearly, we say, “The world is governed by the providence of the Gods.” Be not, therefore, lavish of your railleries, of which your sect has little to spare: if I may advise you, do not attempt it. It does not become you, it is not your talent, nor is it in your power. This is not applied to you in particular who have the education and politeness of a Roman, but to all your sect in general, and especially to your leader154—a man unpolished, illiterate, insulting, without wit, without reputation, without elegance.

XXX. I assert, then, that the universe, with all its parts, was originally constituted, and has, without any cessation, been ever governed by the providence of the Gods. This argument we Stoics commonly divide into three parts; the first of which is, that the existence of the Gods being once known, it must follow that the world is governed by their wisdom; the second, that as everything is under the direction of an intelligent nature, which has produced that beautiful order in the world, it is evident that it is formed from animating principles; the third is deduced from those glorious works which we behold in the heavens and the earth.

First, then, we must either deny the existence of the Gods (as Democritus and Epicurus by their doctrine of images in some sort do), or, if we acknowledge that there 284are Gods, we must believe they are employed, and that, too, in something excellent. Now, nothing is so excellent as the administration of the universe. The universe, therefore, is governed by the wisdom of the Gods. Otherwise, we must imagine that there is some cause superior to the Deity, whether it be a nature inanimate, or a necessity agitated by a mighty force, that produces those beautiful works which we behold. The nature of the Gods would then be neither supreme nor excellent, if you subject it to that necessity or to that nature, by which you would make the heaven, the earth, and the seas to be governed. But there is nothing superior to the Deity; the world, therefore, must be governed by him: consequently, the Deity is under no obedience or subjection to nature, but does himself rule over all nature. In effect, if we allow the Gods have understanding, we allow also their providence, which regards the most important things; for, can they be ignorant of those important things, and how they are to be conducted and preserved, or do they want power to sustain and direct them? Ignorance is inconsistent with the nature of the Gods, and imbecility is repugnant to their majesty. From whence it follows, as we assert, that the world is governed by the providence of the Gods.

XXXI. But supposing, which is incontestable, that there are Gods, they must be animated, and not only animated, but endowed with reason—united, as we may say, in a civil agreement and society, and governing together one universe, as a republic or city. Thus the same reason, the same verity, the same law, which ordains good and prohibits evil, exists in the Gods as it does in men. From them, consequently, we have prudence and understanding, for which reason our ancestors erected temples to the Mind, Faith, Virtue, and Concord. Shall we not then allow the Gods to have these perfections, since we worship the sacred and august images of them? But if understanding, faith, virtue, and concord reside in human kind, how could they come on earth, unless from heaven? And if we are possessed of wisdom, reason, and prudence, the Gods must have the same qualities in a greater degree; and not only have them, but employ them in the best and greatest works. The universe is the best and greatest 285work; therefore it must be governed by the wisdom and providence of the Gods.

Lastly, as we have sufficiently shown that those glorious and luminous bodies which we behold are Deities—I mean the sun, the moon, the fixed and wandering stars, the firmament, and the world itself, and those other things also which have any singular virtue, and are of any great utility to human kind—it follows that all things are governed by providence and a divine mind. But enough has been said on the first part.

XXXII. It is now incumbent on me to prove that all things are subjected to nature, and most beautifully directed by her. But, first of all, it is proper to explain precisely what that nature is, in order to come to the more easy understanding of what I would demonstrate. Some think that nature is a certain irrational power exciting in bodies the necessary motions. Others, that it is an intelligent power, acting by order and method, designing some end in every cause, and always aiming at that end, whose works express such skill as no art, no hand, can imitate; for, they say, such is the virtue of its seed, that, however small it is, if it falls into a place proper for its reception, and meets with matter conducive to its nourishment and increase, it forms and produces everything in its respective kind; either vegetables, which receive their nourishment from their roots; or animals, endowed with motion, sense, appetite, and abilities to beget their likeness.

Some apply the word nature to everything; as Epicurus does, who acknowledges no cause, but atoms, a vacuum, and their accidents. But when we155 say that nature forms and governs the world, we do not apply it to a clod of earth, or piece of stone, or anything of that sort, whose parts have not the necessary cohesion,156 but to a tree, in 286which there is not the appearance of chance, but of order and a resemblance of art.

XXXIII. But if the art of nature gives life and increase to vegetables, without doubt it supports the earth itself; for, being impregnated with seeds, she produces every kind of vegetable, and embracing their roots, she nourishes and increases them; while, in her turn, she receives her nourishment from the other elements, and by her exhalations gives proper sustenance to the air, the sky, and all the superior bodies. If nature gives vigor and support to the earth, by the same reason she has an influence over the rest of the world; for as the earth gives nourishment to vegetables, so the air is the preservation of animals. The air sees with us, hears with us, and utters sounds with us; without it, there would be no seeing, hearing, or sounding. It even moves with us; for wherever we go, whatever motion we make, it seems to retire and give place to us.

That which inclines to the centre, that which rises from it to the surface, and that which rolls about the centre, constitute the universal world, and make one entire nature; and as there are four sorts of bodies, the continuance of nature is caused by their reciprocal changes; for the water arises from the earth, the air from the water, and the fire from the air; and, reversing this order, the air arises from fire, the water from the air, and from the water the earth, the lowest of the four elements, of which all beings are formed. Thus by their continual motions backward and forward, upward and downward, the conjunction of the several parts of the universe is preserved; a union which, in the beauty we now behold it, must be eternal, or at least of a very long duration, and almost for an infinite space of time; and, whichever it is, the universe must of consequence be governed by nature. For what art of navigating fleets, or of marshalling an army, and—to instance the produce of nature—what vine, what tree, what animated form and conformation of their members, give us so great an indication of skill as appears in the universe? Therefore we must either deny that there is the least trace of an intelligent nature, or acknowledge that the world is governed by it. But since the universe 287contains all particular beings, as well as their seeds, can we say that it is not itself governed by nature? That would be the same as saying that the teeth and the beard of man are the work of nature, but that the man himself is not. Thus the effect would be understood to be greater than the cause.

XXXIV. Now, the universe sows, as I may say, plants, produces, raises, nourishes, and preserves what nature administers, as members and parts of itself. If nature, therefore, governs them, she must also govern the universe. And, lastly, in nature’s administration there is nothing faulty. She produced the best possible effect out of those elements which existed. Let any one show how it could have been better. But that can never be; and whoever attempts to mend it will either make it worse, or aim at impossibilities.

But if all the parts of the universe are so constituted that nothing could be better for use or beauty, let us consider whether this is the effect of chance, or whether, in such a state they could possibly cohere, but by the direction of wisdom and divine providence. Nature, therefore, cannot be void of reason, if art can bring nothing to perfection without it, and if the works of nature exceed those of art. How is it consistent with common-sense that when you view an image or a picture, you imagine it is wrought by art; when you behold afar off a ship under sail, you judge it is steered by reason and art; when you see a dial or water-clock,157 you believe the hours are shown by art, and not by chance; and yet that you should imagine that the universe, which contains all arts and the artificers, can be void of reason and understanding?

But if that sphere which was lately made by our friend Posidonius, the regular revolutions of which show the course of the sun, moon, and five wandering stars, as it is every day and night performed, were carried into Scythia or Britain, who, in those barbarous countries, would doubt that that sphere had been made so perfect by the exertion of reason?

XXXV. Yet these people158 doubt whether the universe, 288from whence all things arise and are made, is not the effect of chance, or some necessity, rather than the work of reason and a divine mind. According to them, Archimedes shows more knowledge in representing the motions of the celestial globe than nature does in causing them, though the copy is so infinitely beneath the original. The shepherd in Attius,159 who had never seen a ship, when he perceived from a mountain afar off the divine vessel of the Argonauts, surprised and frighted at this new object, expressed himself in this manner:

What horrid bulk is that before my eyes,

Which o’er the deep with noise and vigor flies?

It turns the whirlpools up, its force so strong,

And drives the billows as it rolls along.

The ocean’s violence it fiercely braves;

Runs furious on, and throws about the waves.

Swiftly impetuous in its course, and loud,

Like the dire bursting of a show’ry cloud;

Or, like a rock, forced by the winds and rain,

Now whirl’d aloft, then plunged into the main.

But hold! perhaps the Earth and Neptune jar,

And fiercely wage an elemental war;

Or Triton with his trident has o’erthrown

His den, and loosen’d from the roots the stone;

The rocky fragment, from the bottom torn,

Is lifted up, and on the surface borne.

At first he is in suspense at the sight of this unknown object; but on seeing the young mariners, and hearing their singing, he says,

Like sportive dolphins, with their snouts they roar;160

and afterward goes on,

Loud in my ears methinks their voices ring,

As if I heard the God Sylvanus sing.

As at first view the shepherd thinks he sees something inanimate and insensible, but afterward, judging by more 289trustworthy indications, he begins to figure to himself what it is; so philosophers, if they are surprised at first at the sight of the universe, ought, when they have considered the regular, uniform, and immutable motions of it, to conceive that there is some Being that is not only an inhabitant of this celestial and divine mansion, but a ruler and a governor, as architect of this mighty fabric.

XXXVI. Now, in my opinion, they161 do not seem to have even the least suspicion that the heavens and earth afford anything marvellous. For, in the first place, the earth is situated in the middle part of the universe, and is surrounded on all sides by the air, which we breathe, and which is called “aer,”162 which, indeed, is a Greek word; but by constant use it is well understood by our countrymen, for, indeed, it is employed as a Latin word. The air is encompassed by the boundless ether (sky), which consists of the fires above. This word we borrow also, for we use æther in Latin as well as aer; though Pacuvius thus expresses it,

—This, of which I speak,

In Latin’s cœlum, æther call’d in Greek.

As though he were not a Greek into whose mouth he puts this sentence; but he is speaking in Latin, though we listen as if he were speaking Greek; for, as he says elsewhere,

His speech discovers him a Grecian born.

But to return to more important matters. In the sky innumerable fiery stars exist, of which the sun is the chief, enlightening all with his refulgent splendor, and being by many degrees larger than the whole earth; and this multitude of vast fires are so far from hurting the earth, and things terrestrial, that they are of benefit to them; whereas, if they were moved from their stations, we should inevitably be burned through the want of a proper moderation and temperature of heat.

XXXVII. Is it possible for any man to behold these things, and yet imagine that certain solid and individual bodies move by their natural force and gravitation, and that a world so beautifully adorned was made by their fortuitous concourse? He who believes this may as well 290believe that if a great quantity of the one-and-twenty letters, composed either of gold or any other matter, were thrown upon the ground, they would fall into such order as legibly to form the Annals of Ennius. I doubt whether fortune could make a single verse of them. How, therefore, can these people assert that the world was made by the fortuitous concourse of atoms, which have no color, no quality—which the Greeks call ποιότης, no sense? or that there are innumerable worlds, some rising and some perishing, in every moment of time? But if a concourse of atoms can make a world, why not a porch, a temple, a house, a city, which are works of less labor and difficulty?

Certainly those men talk so idly and inconsiderately concerning this lower world that they appear to me never to have contemplated the wonderful magnificence of the heavens; which is the next topic for our consideration.

Well, then, did Aristotle163 observe: “If there were men whose habitations had been always underground, in great and commodious houses, adorned with statues and pictures, furnished with everything which they who are reputed happy abound with; and if, without stirring from thence, they should be informed of a certain divine power and majesty, and, after some time, the earth should open, and they should quit their dark abode to come to us, where they should immediately behold the earth, the seas, the heavens; should consider the vast extent of the clouds and force of the winds; should see the sun, and observe his grandeur and beauty, and also his generative power, inasmuch as day is occasioned by the diffusion of his light through the sky; and when night has obscured the earth, they should contemplate the heavens bespangled and adorned with stars, the surprising variety of the moon in her increase and wane, the rising and setting of all the stars, and the inviolable regularity of their courses; when,” says he, “they should see these things, they would undoubtedly conclude that there are Gods, and that these are their mighty works.”

XXXVIII. Thus far Aristotle. Let us imagine, also, as great darkness as was formerly occasioned by the irruption of the fires of Mount Ætna, which are said to have obscured 291the adjacent countries for two days to such a degree that no man could recognize his fellow; but on the third, when the sun appeared, they seemed to be risen from the dead. Now, if we should be suddenly brought from a state of eternal darkness to see the light, how beautiful would the heavens seem! But our minds have become used to it from the daily practice and habituation of our eyes, nor do we take the trouble to search into the principles of what is always in view; as if the novelty, rather than the importance, of things ought to excite us to investigate their causes.

Is he worthy to be called a man who attributes to chance, not to an intelligent cause, the constant motion of the heavens, the regular courses of the stars, the agreeable proportion and connection of all things, conducted with so much reason that our intellect itself is unable to estimate it rightly? When we see machines move artificially, as a sphere, a clock, or the like, do we doubt whether they are the productions of reason? And when we behold the heavens moving with a prodigious celerity, and causing an annual succession of the different seasons of the year, which vivify and preserve all things, can we doubt that this world is directed, I will not say only by reason, but by reason most excellent and divine? For without troubling ourselves with too refined a subtlety of discussion, we may use our eyes to contemplate the beauty of those things which we assert have been arranged by divine providence.

XXXIX. First, let us examine the earth, whose situation is in the middle of the universe,164 solid, round, and conglobular by its natural tendency; clothed with flowers, herbs, trees, and fruits; the whole in multitudes incredible, and with a variety suitable to every taste: let us consider the ever-cool and running springs, the clear waters of the rivers, the verdure of their banks, the hollow depths of caves, the cragginess of rocks, the heights of impending mountains, and the boundless extent of plains, the hidden veins of gold and silver, and the infinite quarries of marble.

292What and how various are the kinds of animals, tame or wild? The flights and notes of birds? How do the beasts live in the fields and in the forests? What shall I say of men, who, being appointed, as we may say, to cultivate the earth, do not suffer its fertility to be choked with weeds, nor the ferocity of beasts to make it desolate; who, by the houses and cities which they build, adorn the fields, the isles, and the shores? If we could view these objects with the naked eye, as we can by the contemplation of the mind, nobody, at such a sight, would doubt there was a divine intelligence.

But how beautiful is the sea! How pleasant to see the extent of it! What a multitude and variety of islands! How delightful are the coasts! What numbers and what diversity of inhabitants does it contain; some within the bosom of it, some floating on the surface, and others by their shells cleaving to the rocks! While the sea itself, approaching to the land, sports so closely to its shores that those two elements appear to be but one.

Next above the sea is the air, diversified by day and night: when rarefied, it possesses the higher region; when condensed, it turns into clouds, and with the waters which it gathers enriches the earth by the rain. Its agitation produces the winds. It causes heat and cold according to the different seasons. It sustains birds in their flight; and, being inhaled, nourishes and preserves all animated beings.

XL. Add to these, which alone remaineth to be mentioned, the firmament of heaven, a region the farthest from our abodes, which surrounds and contains all things. It is likewise called ether, or sky, the extreme bounds and limits of the universe, in which the stars perform their appointed courses in a most wonderful manner; among which, the sun, whose magnitude far surpasses the earth, makes his revolution round it, and by his rising and setting causes day and night; sometimes coming near towards the earth, and sometimes going from it, he every year makes two contrary reversions165 from the extreme 293point of its course. In his retreat the earth seems locked up in sadness; in his return it appears exhilarated with the heavens. The moon, which, as mathematicians demonstrate, is bigger than half the earth, makes her revolutions through the same spaces166 as the sun; but at one time approaching, and at another receding from, the sun, she diffuses the light which she has borrowed from him over the whole earth, and has herself also many various changes in her appearance. When she is found under the sun, and opposite to it, the brightness of her rays is lost; but when the earth directly interposes between the moon and sun, the moon is totally eclipsed. The other wandering stars have their courses round the earth in the same spaces,167 and rise and set in the same manner; their motions are sometimes quick, sometimes slow, and often they stand still. There is nothing more wonderful, nothing more beautiful. There is a vast number of fixed stars, distinguished by the names of certain figures, to which we find they have some resemblance.

XLI. I will here, says Balbus, looking at me, make use of the verses which, when you were young, you translated from Aratus,168 and which, because they are in Latin, gave me so much delight that I have many of them still in my memory. As then, we daily see, without any change or variation,

—the rest169

Swiftly pursue the course to which they’re bound;

And with the heavens the days and nights go round;

the contemplation of which, to a mind desirous of observing the constancy of nature, is inexhaustible.

The extreme top of either point is call’d

The pole.170

294About this the two Ἄρκτοι are turned, which never set;

Of these, the Greeks one Cynosura call,

The other Helice.171

The brightest stars,172 indeed, of Helice are discernible all night,

Which are by us Septentriones call’d.

Cynosura moves about the same pole, with a like number of stars, and ranged in the same order:

This173 the Phœnicians choose to make their guide

When on the ocean in the night they ride.

Adorned with stars of more refulgent light,

The other174 shines, and first appears at night.

Though this is small, sailors its use have found;

More inward is its course, and short its round.

XLII. The aspect of those stars is the more admirable, because,

The Dragon grim between them bends his way,

As through the winding banks the currents stray,

And up and down in sinuous bending rolls.175

His whole form is excellent; but the shape of his head and the ardor of his eyes are most remarkable.

Various the stars which deck his glittering head;

His temples are with double glory spread;

From his fierce eyes two fervid lights afar

Flash, and his chin shines with one radiant star;

Bow’d is his head; and his round neck he bends,

And to the tail of Helice176 extends.

The rest of the Dragon’s body we see177 at every hour in the night.

295Here178 suddenly the head a little hides

Itself, where all its parts, which are in sight,

And those unseen in the same place unite.

Near to this head

Is placed the figure of a man that moves

Weary and sad,

which the Greeks

Engonasis do call, because he’s borne179

About with bended knee. Near him is placed

The crown with a refulgent lustre graced.

This indeed is at his back; but Anguitenens (the Snake-holder) is near his head:180

The Greeks him Ophiuchus call, renown’d

The name. He strongly grasps the serpent round

With both his hands; himself the serpent folds

Beneath his breast, and round his middle holds;

Yet gravely he, bright shining in the skies,

Moves on, and treads on Nepa’s181 breast and eyes.

The Septentriones182 are followed by—

Arctophylax,183 that’s said to be the same

Which we Boötes call, who has the name,

Because he drives the Greater Bear along

Yoked to a wain.

Besides, in Boötes,

A star of glittering rays about his waist,

Arcturus called, a name renown’d, is placed.184

296Beneath which is

The Virgin of illustrious form, whose hand

Holds a bright spike.

XLIII. And truly these signs are so regularly disposed that a divine wisdom evidently appears in them:

Beneath the Bear’s185 head have the Twins their seat,

Under his chest the Crab, beneath his feet

The mighty Lion darts a trembling flame.186

The Charioteer

On the left side of Gemini we see,187

And at his head behold fierce Helice;

On his left shoulder the bright Goat appears.

But to proceed—

This is indeed a great and glorious star,

On th’ other side the Kids, inferior far,

Yield but a slender light to mortal eyes.

Under his feet

The horned bull,188 with sturdy limbs, is placed:

his head is spangled with a number of stars;

These by the Greeks are called the Hyades,

from raining; for ὕειν is to rain: therefore they are injudiciously called Suculæ by our people, as if they had their name from ὗς, a sow, and not from ὕω.

Behind the Lesser Bear, Cepheus189 follows with extended hands,

For close behind the Lesser Bear he comes.

297Before him goes

Cassiopea190 with a faintish light;

But near her moves (fair and illustrious sight!)

Andromeda,191 who, with an eager pace,

Seems to avoid her parent’s mournful face.192

With glittering mane the Horse193 now seems to tread,

So near he comes, on her refulgent head;

With a fair star, that close to him appears,

A double form194 and but one light he wears;

By which he seems ambitious in the sky

An everlasting knot of stars to tie.

Near him the Ram, with wreathed horns, is placed;

by whom

The Fishes195 are; of which one seems to haste

Somewhat before the other, to the blast

Of the north wind exposed.

XLIV. Perseus is described as placed at the feet of Andromeda:

And him the sharp blasts of the north wind beat.

Near his left knee, but dim their light, their seat

The small Pleiades196 maintain. We find,

Not far from them, the Lyre197 but slightly join’d.

Next is the winged Bird,198 that seems to fly

Beneath the spacious covering of the sky.

298Near the head of the Horse199 lies the right hand of Aquarius, then all Aquarius himself.200

Then Capricorn, with half the form of beast,

Breathes chill and piercing colds from his strong breast,

And in a spacious circle takes his round;

When him, while in the winter solstice bound,

The sun has visited with constant light,

He turns his course, and shorter makes the night.201

Not far from hence is seen

The Scorpion202 rising lofty from below;

By him the Archer,203 with his bended bow;

Near him the Bird, with gaudy feathers spread;

And the fierce Eagle204 hovers o’er his head.

Next comes the Dolphin;205

Then bright Orion,206 who obliquely moves;

he is followed by

The fervent Dog,207 bright with refulgent stars:

next the Hare follows208

Unwearied in his course. At the Dog’s tail

Argo209 moves on, and moving seems to sail;

O’er her the Ram and Fishes have their place;210

The illustrious vessel touches, in her pace,

The river’s banks;211

which you may see winding and extending itself to a great length.

299The Fetters212 at the Fishes’ tails are hung.

By Nepa’s213 head behold the Altar stand,214

Which by the breath of southern winds is fann’d;

near which the Centaur215

Hastens his mingled parts to join beneath

The Serpent,216 there extending his right hand,

To where you see the monstrous Scorpion stand,

Which he at the bright Altar fiercely slays.

Here on her lower parts see Hydra217 raise


whose bulk is very far extended.

Amid the winding of her body’s placed

The shining Goblet;218 and the glossy Crow219

Plunges his beak into her parts below.

Antecanis beneath the Twins is seen,

Call’d Procyon by the Greeks.220

Can any one in his senses imagine that this disposition of the stars, and this heaven so beautifully adorned, could ever have been formed by a fortuitous concourse of atoms? Or what other nature, being destitute of intellect and reason, could possibly have produced these effects, which not only required reason to bring them about, but the very character of which could not be understood and appreciated without the most strenuous exertions of well-directed reason?

XLV. But our admiration is not limited to the objects here described. What is most wonderful is that the world is so durable, and so perfectly made for lasting that it is not to be impaired by time; for all its parts tend equally to the centre, and are bound together by a sort of chain, which surrounds the elements. This chain is nature, which 300being diffused through the universe, and performing all things with judgment and reason, attracts the extremities to the centre.

If, then, the world is round, and if on that account all its parts, being of equal dimensions and relative proportions, mutually support and are supported by one another, it must follow that as all the parts incline to the centre (for that is the lowest place of a globe) there is nothing whatever which can put a stop to that propensity in the case of such great weights. For the same reason, though the sea is higher than the earth, yet because it has the like tendency, it is collected everywhere, equally concentres, and never overflows, and is never wasted.

The air, which is contiguous, ascends by its lightness, but diffuses itself through the whole; therefore it is by nature joined and united to the sea, and at the same time borne by the same power towards the heaven, by the thinness and heat of which it is so tempered as to be made proper to supply life and wholesome air for the support of animated beings. This is encompassed by the highest region of the heavens, which is called the sky, which is joined to the extremity of the air, but retains its own heat pure and unmixed.

XLVI. The stars have their revolutions in the sky, and are continued by the tendency of all parts towards the centre. Their duration is perpetuated by their form and figure, for they are round; which form, as I think has been before observed, is the least liable to injury; and as they are composed of fire, they are fed by the vapors which are exhaled by the sun from the earth, the sea, and other waters; but when these vapors have nourished and refreshed the stars, and the whole sky, they are sent back to be exhaled again; so that very little is lost or consumed by the fire of the stars and the flame of the sky. Hence we Stoics conclude—which Panætius221 is said to have doubted of—that the whole world at last would be consumed by a general conflagration, when, all moisture being exhausted, neither the earth could have any nourishment, nor the air return again, since water, of which it is formed, would then be all consumed; so that only fire would subsist; and 301from this fire, which is an animating power and a Deity, a new world would arise and be re-established in the same beauty.

I should be sorry to appear to you to dwell too long upon this subject of the stars, and more especially upon that of the planets, whose motions, though different, make a very just agreement. Saturn, the highest, chills; Mars, placed in the middle, burns; while Jupiter, interposing, moderates their excess, both of light and heat. The two planets beneath Mars222 obey the sun. The sun himself fills the whole universe with his own genial light; and the moon, illuminated by him, influences conception, birth, and maturity. And who is there who is not moved by this union of things, and by this concurrence of nature agreeing together, as it were, for the safety of the world? And yet I feel sure that none of these reflections have ever been made by these men.

XLVII. Let us proceed from celestial to terrestrial things. What is there in them which does not prove the principle of an intelligent nature? First, as to vegetables; they have roots to sustain their stems, and to draw from the earth a nourishing moisture to support the vital principle which those roots contain. They are clothed with a rind or bark, to secure them more thoroughly from heat and cold. The vines we see take hold on props with their tendrils, as if with hands, and raise themselves as if they were animated; it is even said that they shun cabbages and coleworts, as noxious and pestilential to them, and, if planted by them, will not touch any part.

But what a vast variety is there of animals! and how wonderfully is every kind adapted to preserve itself! Some are covered with hides, some clothed with fleeces, and some guarded with bristles; some are sheltered with feathers, some with scales; some are armed with horns, and some are furnished with wings to escape from danger. Nature hath also liberally and plentifully provided for all animals their proper food. I could expatiate on the judicious and curious formation and disposition of their bodies for the reception and digestion of it, for all their interior parts are so framed and disposed that there is 302nothing superfluous, nothing that is not necessary for the preservation of life. Besides, nature has also given these beasts appetite and sense; in order that by the one they may be excited to procure sufficient sustenance, and by the other they may distinguish what is noxious from what is salutary. Some animals seek their food walking, some creeping, some flying, and some swimming; some take it with their mouth and teeth; some seize it with their claws, and some with their beaks; some suck, some graze, some bolt it whole, and some chew it. Some are so low that they can with ease take such food as is to be found on the ground; but the taller, as geese, swans, cranes, and camels, are assisted by a length of neck. To the elephant is given a hand,223 without which, from his unwieldiness of body, he would scarce have any means of attaining food.

XLVIII. But to those beasts which live by preying on others, nature has given either strength or swiftness. On some animals she has even bestowed artifice and cunning; as on spiders, some of which weave a sort of net to entrap and destroy whatever falls into it, others sit on the watch unobserved to fall on their prey and devour it. The naker—by the Greeks called Pinna—has a kind of confederacy with the prawn for procuring food. It has two large shells open, into which when the little fishes swim, the naker, having notice given by the bite of the prawn, closes them immediately. Thus, these little animals, though of different kinds, seek their food in common; in which it is matter of wonder whether they associate by any agreement, or are naturally joined together from their beginning.

There is some cause to admire also the provision of nature in the case of those aquatic animals which are generated on land, such as crocodiles, river-tortoises, and a certain kind of serpents, which seek the water as soon as they are able to drag themselves along. We frequently put duck-eggs under hens, by which, as by their true mothers, the ducklings are at first hatched and nourished; but when they see the water, they forsake them and run to it, as to 303their natural abode: so strong is the impression of nature in animals for their own preservation.

XLIX. I have read that there is a bird called Platalea (the shoveller), that lives by watching those fowls which dive into the sea for their prey, and when they return with it, he squeezes their heads with his beak till they drop it, and then seizes on it himself. It is said likewise that he is in the habit of filling his stomach with shell-fish, and when they are digested by the heat which exists in the stomach, they cast them up, and then pick out what is proper nourishment. The sea-frogs, they say, are wont to cover themselves with sand, and moving near the water, the fishes strike at them, as at a bait, and are themselves taken and devoured by the frogs. Between the kite and the crow there is a kind of natural war, and wherever the one finds the eggs of the other, he breaks them.

But who is there who can avoid being struck with wonder at that which has been noticed by Aristotle, who has enriched us with so many valuable remarks? When the cranes224 pass the sea in search of warmer climes, they fly in the form of a triangle. By the first angle they repel the resisting air; on each side, their wings serve as oars to facilitate their flight; and the basis of their triangle is assisted by the wind in their stern. Those which are behind rest their necks and heads on those which precede; and as the leader has not the same relief, because he has none to lean upon, he at length flies behind that he may also rest, while one of those which have been eased succeeds him, and through the whole flight each regularly takes his turn.

I could produce many instances of this kind; but these may suffice. Let us now proceed to things more familiar to us. The care of beasts for their own preservation, their circumspection while feeding, and their manner of taking rest in their lairs, are generally known, but still they are greatly to be admired.

L. Dogs cure themselves by a vomit, the Egyptian ibis by a purge; from whence physicians have lately—I mean but few ages since—greatly improved their art. It is reported 304that panthers, which in barbarous countries are taken with poisoned flesh, have a certain remedy225 that preserves them from dying; and that in Crete, the wild goats, when they are wounded with poisoned arrows, seek for an herb called dittany, which, when they have tasted, the arrows (they say) drop from their bodies. It is said also that deer, before they fawn, purge themselves with a little herb called hartswort.226 Beasts, when they receive any hurt, or fear it, have recourse to their natural arms: the bull to his horns, the boar to his tusks, and the lion to his teeth. Some take to flight, others hide themselves; the cuttle-fish vomits227 blood; the cramp-fish benumbs; and there are many animals that, by their intolerable stink, oblige their pursuers to retire.

LI. But that the beauty of the world might be eternal, great care has been taken by the providence of the Gods to perpetuate the different kinds of animals, and vegetables, and trees, and all those things which sink deep into the earth, and are contained in it by their roots and trunks; in order to which every individual has within itself such fertile seed that many are generated from one; and in vegetables this seed is enclosed in the heart of their fruit, but in such abundance that men may plentifully feed on it, and the earth be always replanted.

With regard to animals, do we not see how aptly they are formed for the propagation of their species? Nature for this end created some males and some females. Their parts are perfectly framed for generation, and they have a wonderful propensity to copulation. When the seed has fallen on the matrix, it draws almost all the nourishment to itself, by which the fœtus is formed; but as soon as it is discharged from thence, if it is an animal that is nourished by milk, almost all the food of the mother turns into milk, and the animal, without any direction but by the pure instinct of nature, immediately hunts for the 305teat, and is there fed with plenty. What makes it evidently appear that there is nothing in this fortuitous, but the work of a wise and foreseeing nature, is, that those females which bring forth many young, as sows and bitches, have many teats, and those which bear a small number have but few. What tenderness do beasts show in preserving and raising up their young till they are able to defend themselves! They say, indeed, that fish, when they have spawned, leave their eggs; but the water easily supports them, and produces the young fry in abundance.

LII. It is said, likewise, that tortoises and crocodiles, when they have laid their eggs on the land, only cover them with earth, and then leave them, so that their young are hatched and brought up without assistance; but fowls and other birds seek for quiet places to lay in, where they build their nests in the softest manner, for the surest preservation of their eggs; which, when they have hatched, they defend from the cold by the warmth of their wings, or screen them from the sultry heat of the sun. When their young begin to be able to use their wings, they attend and instruct them; and then their cares are at an end.

Human art and industry are indeed necessary towards the preservation and improvement of certain animals and vegetables; for there are several of both kinds which would perish without that assistance. There are likewise innumerable facilities (being different in different places) supplied to man to aid him in his civilization, and in procuring abundantly what he requires. The Nile waters Egypt, and after having overflowed and covered it the whole summer, it retires, and leaves the fields softened and manured for the reception of seed. The Euphrates fertilizes Mesopotamia, into which, as we may say, it carries yearly new fields.228 The Indus, which is the largest of all rivers,229 not only improves and cultivates the ground, 306but sows it also; for it is said to carry with it a great quantity of grain. I could mention many other countries remarkable for something singular, and many fields, which are, in their own natures, exceedingly fertile.

LIII. But how bountiful is nature that has provided for us such an abundance of various and delicious food; and this varying with the different seasons, so that we may be constantly pleased with change, and satisfied with abundance! How seasonable and useful to man, to beasts, and even to vegetables, are the Etesian winds230 she has bestowed, which moderate intemperate heat, and render navigation more sure and speedy! Many things must be omitted on a subject so copious—and still a great deal must be said—for it is impossible to relate the great utility of rivers, the flux and reflux of the sea, the mountains clothed with grass and trees, the salt-pits remote from the sea-coasts, the earth replete with salutary medicines, or, in short, the innumerable designs of nature necessary for sustenance and the enjoyment of life. We must not forget the vicissitudes of day and night, ordained for the health of animated beings, giving them a time to labor and a time to rest. Thus, if we every way examine the universe, it is apparent, from the greatest reason, that the whole is admirably governed by a divine providence for the safety and preservation of all beings.

If it should be asked for whose sake this mighty fabric was raised, shall we say for trees and other vegetables, which, though destitute of sense, are supported by nature? That would be absurd. Is it for beasts? Nothing can be less probable than that the Gods should have taken such pains for beings void of speech and understanding. For whom, then, will any one presume to say that the world was made? Undoubtedly for reasonable beings; these are the Gods and men, who are certainly the most perfect of all beings, as nothing is equal to reason. It is therefore credible that the universe, and all things in it, were made for the Gods and for men.

But we may yet more easily comprehend that the Gods have taken great care of the interests and welfare of men, 307if we examine thoroughly into the structure of the body, and the form and perfection of human nature. There are three things absolutely necessary for the support of life—to eat, to drink, and to breathe. For these operations the mouth is most aptly framed, which, by the assistance of the nostrils, draws in the more air.

LIV. The teeth are there placed to divide and grind the food.231 The fore-teeth, being sharp and opposite to each other, cut it asunder, and the hind-teeth (called the grinders) chew it, in which office the tongue seems to assist. At the root of the tongue is the gullet, which receives whatever is swallowed: it touches the tonsils on each side, and terminates at the interior extremity of the palate. When, by the motions of the tongue, the food is forced into this passage, it descends, and those parts of the gullet which are below it are dilated, and those above are contracted. There is another passage, called by physicians the rough artery,232 which reaches to the lungs, for the entrance and return of the air we breathe; and as its orifice is joined to the roots of the tongue a little above the part to which the gullet is annexed, it is furnished with a sort of coverlid,233 lest, by the accidental falling of any food into it, the respiration should be stopped.

As the stomach, which is beneath the gullet, receives the meat and drink, so the lungs and the heart draw in the air from without. The stomach is wonderfully composed, consisting almost wholly of nerves; it abounds with membranes and fibres, and detains what it receives, whether solid or liquid, till it is altered and digested. It sometimes contracts, sometimes dilates. It blends and mixes the food together, so that it is easily concocted and digested by its force of heat, and by the animal spirits is distributed into the other parts of the body.

LV. As to the lungs, they are of a soft and spongy substance, which renders them the most commodious for respiration; 308they alternately dilate and contract to receive and return the air, that what is the chief animal sustenance may be always fresh. The juice,234 by which we are nourished, being separated from the rest of the food, passes the stomach and intestines to the liver, through open and direct passages, which lead from the mesentery to the gates of the liver (for so they call those vessels at the entrance of it). There are other passages from thence, through which the food has its course when it has passed the liver. When the bile, and those humors which proceed from the kidneys, are separated from the food, the remaining part turns to blood, and flows to those vessels at the entrance of the liver to which all the passages adjoin. The chyle, being conveyed from this place through them into the vessel called the hollow vein, is mixed together, and, being already digested and distilled, passes into the heart; and from the heart it is communicated through a great number of veins to every part of the body.

It is not difficult to describe how the gross remains are detruded by the motion of the intestines, which contract and dilate; but that must be declined, as too indelicate for discourse. Let us rather explain that other wonder of nature, the air, which is drawn into the lungs, receives heat both by that already in and by the coagitation of the lungs; one part is turned back by respiration, and the other is received into a place called the ventricle of the heart.235 There is another ventricle like it annexed to the heart, into which the blood flows from the liver through the hollow vein. Thus by one ventricle the blood is diffused to the extremities through the veins, and by the other the breath is communicated through the arteries; and there are such numbers of both dispersed through the whole body that they manifest a divine art.

Why need I speak of the bones, those supports of the body, whose joints are so wonderfully contrived for stability, and to render the limbs complete with regard to motion and to every action of the body? Or need I mention 309the nerves, by which the limbs are governed—their many interweavings, and their proceeding from the heart,236 from whence, like the veins and arteries, they have their origin, and are distributed through the whole corporeal frame?

LVI. To this skill of nature, and this care of providence, so diligent and so ingenious, many reflections may be added, which show what valuable things the Deity has bestowed on man. He has made us of a stature tall and upright, in order that we might behold the heavens, and so arrive at the knowledge of the Gods; for men are not simply to dwell here as inhabitants of the earth, but to be, as it were, spectators of the heavens and the stars, which is a privilege not granted to any other kind of animated beings. The senses, which are the interpreters and messengers of things, are placed in the head, as in a tower, and wonderfully situated for their proper uses; for the eyes, being in the highest part, have the office of sentinels, in discovering to us objects; and the ears are conveniently placed in a high part of the person, being appointed to receive sound, which naturally ascends. The nostrils have the like situation, because all scent likewise ascends; and they have, with great reason, a near vicinity to the mouth, because they assist us in judging of meat and drink. The taste, which is to distinguish the quality of what we take; is in that part of the mouth where nature has laid open a passage for what we eat and drink. But the touch is equally diffused through the whole body, that we may not receive any blows, or the too rigid attacks of cold and heat, without feeling them. And as in building the architect averts from the eyes and nose of the master those things which must necessarily be offensive, so has nature removed far from our senses what is of the same kind in the human body.

LVII. What artificer but nature, whose direction is incomparable, could have exhibited so much ingenuity in the formation of the senses? In the first place, she has covered and invested the eyes with the finest membranes, which she hath made transparent, that we may see through 310them, and firm in their texture, to preserve the eyes. She has made them slippery and movable, that they might avoid what would offend them, and easily direct the sight wherever they will. The actual organ of sight, which is called the pupil, is so small that it can easily shun whatever might be hurtful to it. The eyelids, which are their coverings, are soft and smooth, that they may not injure the eyes; and are made to shut at the apprehension of any accident, or to open at pleasure; and these movements nature has ordained to be made in an instant: they are fortified with a sort of palisade of hairs, to keep off what may be noxious to them when open, and to be a fence to their repose when sleep closes them, and allows them to rest as if they were wrapped up in a case. Besides, they are commodiously hidden and defended by eminences on every side; for on the upper part the eyebrows turn aside the perspiration which falls from the head and forehead; the cheeks beneath rise a little, so as to protect them on the lower side; and the nose is placed between them as a wall of separation.

The hearing is always open, for that is a sense of which we are in need even while we are sleeping; and the moment that any sound is admitted by it we are awakened even from sleep. It has a winding passage, lest anything should slip into it, as it might if it were straight and simple. Nature also hath taken the same precaution in making there a viscous humor, that if any little creatures should endeavor to creep in, they might stick in it as in bird-lime. The ears (by which we mean the outward part) are made prominent, to cover and preserve the hearing, lest the sound should be dissipated and escape before the sense is affected. Their entrances are hard and horny, and their form winding, because bodies of this kind better return and increase the sound. This appears in the harp, lute, or horn;237 and from all tortuous and enclosed places sounds are returned stronger.

The nostrils, in like manner, are ever open, because we have a continual use for them; and their entrances also are rather narrow, lest anything noxious should enter 311them; and they have always a humidity necessary for the repelling dust and many other extraneous bodies. The taste, having the mouth for an enclosure, is admirably situated, both in regard to the use we make of it and to its security.

LVIII. Besides, every human sense is much more exquisite than those of brutes; for our eyes, in those arts which come under their judgment, distinguish with great nicety; as in painting, sculpture, engraving, and in the gesture and motion of bodies. They understand the beauty, proportion, and, as I may so term it, the becomingness of colors and figures; they distinguish things of greater importance, even virtues and vices; they know whether a man is angry or calm, cheerful or sad, courageous or cowardly, bold or timorous.

The judgment of the ears is not less admirably and scientifically contrived with regard to vocal and instrumental music. They distinguish the variety of sounds, the measure, the stops, the different sorts of voices, the treble and the base, the soft and the harsh, the sharp and the flat, of which human ears only are capable to judge. There is likewise great judgment in the smell, the taste, and the touch; to indulge and gratify which senses more arts have been invented than I could wish: it is apparent to what excess we have arrived in the composition of our perfumes, the preparation of our food, and the enjoyment of corporeal pleasures.

LIX. Again, he who does not perceive the soul and mind of man, his reason, prudence, and discernment, to be the work of a divine providence, seems himself to be destitute of those faculties. While I am on this subject, Cotta, I wish I had your eloquence: how would you illustrate so fine a subject! You would show the great extent of the understanding; how we collect our ideas, and join those which follow to those which precede; establish principles, draw consequences, define things separately, and comprehend them with accuracy; from whence you demonstrate how great is the power of intelligence and knowledge, which is such that even God himself has no qualities more admirable. How valuable (though you Academics despise and even deny that we have it) is our 312knowledge of exterior objects, from the perception of the senses joined to the application of the mind; by which we see in what relation one thing stands to another, and by the aid of which we have invented those arts which are necessary for the support and pleasure of life. How charming is eloquence! How divine that mistress of the universe, as you call it! It teaches us what we were ignorant of, and makes us capable of teaching what we have learned. By this we exhort others; by this we persuade them; by this we comfort the afflicted; by this we deliver the affrighted from their fear; by this we moderate excessive joy; by this we assuage the passions of lust and anger. This it is which bound men by the chains of right and law, formed the bonds of civil society, and made us quit a wild and savage life.

And it will appear incredible, unless you carefully observe the facts, how complete the work of nature is in giving us the use of speech; for, first of all, there is an artery from the lungs to the bottom of the mouth, through which the voice, having its original principle in the mind, is transmitted. Then the tongue is placed in the mouth, bounded by the teeth. It softens and modulates the voice, which would otherwise be confusedly uttered; and, by pushing it to the teeth and other parts of the mouth, makes the sound distinct and articulate. We Stoics, therefore, compare the tongue to the bow of an instrument, the teeth to the strings, and the nostrils to the sounding-board.

LX. But how commodious are the hands which nature has given to man, and how beautifully do they minister to many arts! For, such is the flexibility of the joints, that our fingers are closed and opened without any difficulty. With their help, the hand is formed for painting, carving, and engraving; for playing on stringed instruments, and on the pipe. These are matters of pleasure. There are also works of necessity, such as tilling the ground, building houses, making cloth and habits, and working in brass and iron. It is the business of the mind to invent, the senses to perceive, and the hands to execute; so that if we have buildings, if we are clothed, if we live in safety, if we have cities, walls, habitations, and temples, it is to the hands we owe them.

313By our labor, that is, by our hands, variety and plenty of food are provided; for, without culture, many fruits, which serve either for present or future consumption, would not be produced; besides, we feed on flesh, fish, and fowl, catching some, and bringing up others. We subdue four-footed beasts for our carriage, whose speed and strength supply our slowness and inability. On some we put burdens, on others yokes. We convert the sagacity of the elephant and the quick scent of the dog to our own advantage. Out of the caverns of the earth we dig iron, a thing entirely necessary for the cultivation of the ground. We discover the hidden veins of copper, silver, and gold, advantageous for our use and beautiful as ornaments. We cut down trees, and use every kind of wild and cultivated timber, not only to make fire to warm us and dress our meat, but also for building, that we may have houses to defend us from the heat and cold. With timber likewise we build ships, which bring us from all parts every commodity of life. We are the only animals who, from our knowledge of navigation, can manage what nature has made the most violent—the sea and the winds. Thus we obtain from the ocean great numbers of profitable things. We are the absolute masters of what the earth produces. We enjoy the mountains and the plains. The rivers and the lakes are ours. We sow the seed, and plant the trees. We fertilize the earth by overflowing it. We stop, direct, and turn the rivers: in short, by our hands we endeavor, by our various operations in this world, to make, as it were, another nature.

LXI. But what shall I say of human reason? Has it not even entered the heavens? Man alone of all animals has observed the courses of the stars, their risings and settings. By man the day, the month, the year, is determined. He foresees the eclipses of the sun and moon, and foretells them to futurity, marking their greatness, duration, and precise time. >From the contemplation of these things the mind extracts the knowledge of the Gods—a knowledge which produces piety, with which is connected justice, and all the other virtues; from which arises a life of felicity, inferior to that of the Gods in no single particular, except in immortality, which is not absolutely necessary 314to happy living. In explaining these things, I think that I have sufficiently demonstrated the superiority of man to other animated beings; from whence we should infer that neither the form and position of his limbs nor that strength of mind and understanding could possibly be the effect of chance.

LXII. I am now to prove, by way of conclusion, that every thing in this world of use to us was made designedly for us.

First of all, the universe was made for the Gods and men, and all things therein were prepared and provided for our service. For the world is the common habitation or city of the Gods and men; for they are the only reasonable beings: they alone live by justice and law. As, therefore, it must be presumed the cities of Athens and Lacedæmon were built for the Athenians and Lacedæmonians, and as everything there is said to belong to those people, so everything in the universe may with propriety be said to belong to the Gods and men, and to them alone.

In the next place, though the revolutions of the sun, moon, and all the stars are necessary for the cohesion of the universe, yet may they be considered also as objects designed for the view and contemplation of man. There is no sight less apt to satiate the eye, none more beautiful, or more worthy to employ our reason and penetration. By measuring their courses we find the different seasons, their durations and vicissitudes, which, if they are known to men alone, we must believe were made only for their sake.

Does the earth bring forth fruit and grain in such excessive abundance and variety for men or for brutes? The plentiful and exhilarating fruit of the vine and the olive-tree are entirely useless to beasts. They know not the time for sowing, tilling, or for reaping in season and gathering in the fruits of the earth, or for laying up and preserving their stores. Man alone has the care and advantage of these things.

LXIII. Thus, as the lute and the pipe were made for those, and those only, who are capable of playing on them, so it must be allowed that the produce of the earth was designed for those only who make use of them; and 315though some beasts may rob us of a small part, it does not follow that the earth produced it also for them. Men do not store up corn for mice and ants, but for their wives, their children, and their families. Beasts, therefore, as I said before, possess it by stealth, but their masters openly and freely. It is for us, therefore, that nature hath provided this abundance. Can there be any doubt that this plenty and variety of fruit, which delight not only the taste, but the smell and sight, was by nature intended for men only? Beasts are so far from being partakers of this design, that we see that even they themselves were made for man; for of what utility would sheep be, unless for their wool, which, when dressed and woven, serves us for clothing? For they are not capable of anything, not even of procuring their own food, without the care and assistance of man. The fidelity of the dog, his affectionate fawning on his master, his aversion to strangers, his sagacity in finding game, and his vivacity in pursuit of it, what do these qualities denote but that he was created for our use? Why need I mention oxen? We perceive that their backs were not formed for carrying burdens, but their necks were naturally made for the yoke, and their strong broad shoulders to draw the plough. In the Golden Age, which poets speak of, they were so greatly beneficial to the husbandman in tilling the fallow ground that no violence was ever offered them, and it was even thought a crime to eat them:

The Iron Age began the fatal trade

Of blood, and hammer’d the destructive blade;

Then men began to make the ox to bleed,

And on the tamed and docile beast to feed238.

LXIV. It would take a long time to relate the advantages which we receive from mules and asses, which undoubtedly were designed for our use. What is the swine good for but to eat? whose life, Chrysippus says, was given it but as salt239 to keep it from putrefying; and as it 316is proper food for man, nature hath made no animal more fruitful. What a multitude of birds and fishes are taken by the art and contrivance of man only, and which are so delicious to our taste that one would be tempted sometimes to believe that this Providence which watches over us was an Epicurean! Though we think there are some birds—the alites and oscines240, as our augurs call them—which were made merely to foretell events.

The large savage beasts we take by hunting, partly for food, partly to exercise ourselves in imitation of martial discipline, and to use those we can tame and instruct, as elephants, or to extract remedies for our diseases and wounds, as we do from certain roots and herbs, the virtues of which are known by long use and experience. Represent to yourself the whole earth and seas as if before your eyes. You will see the vast and fertile plains, the thick, shady mountains, the immense pasturage for cattle, and ships sailing over the deep with incredible celerity; nor are our discoveries only on the face of the earth, but in its secret recesses there are many useful things, which being made for man, by man alone are discovered.

LXV. Another, and in my opinion the strongest, proof that the providence of the Gods takes care of us is divination, which both of you, perhaps, will attack; you, Cotta, because Carneades took pleasure in inveighing against the Stoics; and you, Velleius, because there is nothing Epicurus ridicules so much as the prediction of events. Yet the truth of divination appears in many places, on many occasions, often in private, but particularly in public concerns. We receive many intimations from the foresight and presages of augurs and auspices; from oracles, prophecies, dreams, and prodigies; and it often happens that by these means events have proved happy to men, and imminent dangers have been avoided. This knowledge, therefore—call it either a kind of transport, or an art, or a natural faculty—is certainly found only in men, and is a gift from the immortal Gods. If these proofs, when taken 317separately, should make no impression upon your mind, yet, when collected together, they must certainly affect you.

Besides, the Gods not only provide for mankind universally, but for particular men. You may bring this universality to gradually a smaller number, and again you may reduce that smaller number to individuals.

LXVI. For if the reasons which I have given prove to all of us that the Gods take care of all men, in every country, in every part of the world separate from our continent, they take care of those who dwell on the same land with us, from east to west; and if they regard those who inhabit this kind of great island, which we call the globe of the earth, they have the like regard for those who possess the parts of this island—Europe, Asia, and Africa; and therefore they favor the parts of these parts, as Rome, Athens, Sparta, and Rhodes; and particular men of these cities, separate from the whole; as Curius, Fabricius, Coruncanius, in the war with Pyrrhus; in the first Punic war, Calatinus, Duillius, Metellus, Lutatius; in the second, Maximus, Marcellus, Africanus; after these, Paullus, Gracchus, Cato; and in our fathers’ times, Scipio, Lælius. Rome also and Greece have produced many illustrious men, who we cannot believe were so without the assistance of the Deity; which is the reason that the poets, Homer in particular, joined their chief heroes—Ulysses, Agamemnon, Diomedes, Achilles—to certain Deities, as companions in their adventures and dangers. Besides, the frequent appearances of the Gods, as I have before mentioned, demonstrate their regard for cities and particular men. This is also apparent indeed from the foreknowledge of events, which we receive either sleeping or waking. We are likewise forewarned of many things by the entrails of victims, by presages, and many other means, which have been long observed with such exactness as to produce an art of divination.

There never, therefore, was a great man without divine inspiration. If a storm should damage the corn or vineyard of a person, or any accident should deprive him of some conveniences of life, we should not judge from thence that the Deity hates or neglects him. The Gods take care 318of great things, and disregard the small. But to truly great men all things ever happen prosperously; as has been sufficiently asserted and proved by us Stoics, as well as by Socrates, the prince of philosophers, in his discourses on the infinite advantages arising from virtue.

LXVII. This is almost the whole that hath occurred to my mind on the nature of the Gods, and what I thought proper to advance. Do you, Cotta, if I may advise, defend the same cause. Remember that in Rome you keep the first rank; remember that you are Pontifex; and as your school is at liberty to argue on which side you please241, do you rather take mine, and reason on it with that eloquence which you acquired by your rhetorical exercises, and which the Academy improved; for it is a pernicious and impious custom to argue against the Gods, whether it be done seriously, or only in pretence and out of sport.


I. When Balbus had ended this discourse, then Cotta, with a smile, rejoined, You direct me too late which side to defend; for during the course of your argument I was revolving in my mind what objections to make to what you were saying, not so much for the sake of opposition, as of obliging you to explain what I did not perfectly comprehend; and as every one may use his own judgment, it is scarcely possible for me to think in every instance exactly what you wish.

You have no idea, O Cotta, said Velleius, how impatient I am to hear what you have to say. For since our friend Balbus was highly delighted with your discourse against Epicurus, I ought in my turn to be solicitous to hear what you can say against the Stoics; and I therefore will give you my best attention, for I believe you are, as usual, well prepared for the engagement.

I wish, by Hercules! I were, replies Cotta; for it is more difficult to dispute with Lucilius than it was with you. 319Why so? says Velleius. Because, replies Cotta, your Epicurus, in my opinion, does not contend strongly for the Gods: he only, for the sake of avoiding any unpopularity or punishment, is afraid to deny their existence; for when he asserts that the Gods are wholly inactive and regardless of everything, and that they have limbs like ours, but make no use of them, he seems to jest with us, and to think it sufficient if he allows that there are beings of any kind happy and eternal. But with regard to Balbus, I suppose you observed how many things were said by him, which, however false they may be, yet have a perfect coherence and connection; therefore, my design, as I said, in opposing him, is not so much to confute his principles as to induce him to explain what I do not clearly understand: for which reason, Balbus, I will give you the choice, either to answer me every particular as I go on, or permit me to proceed without interruption. If you want any explanation, replies Balbus, I would rather you would propose your doubts singly; but if your intention is rather to confute me than to seek instruction for yourself, it shall be as you please; I will either answer you immediately on every point, or stay till you have finished your discourse.

II. Very well, says Cotta; then let us proceed as our conversation shall direct. But before I enter on the subject, I have a word to say concerning myself; for I am greatly influenced by your authority, and your exhortation at the conclusion of your discourse, when you desired me to remember that I was Cotta and Pontifex; by which I presume you intimated that I should defend the sacred rites and religion and ceremonies which we received from our ancestors. Most undoubtedly I always have, and always shall defend them, nor shall the arguments either of the learned or unlearned ever remove the opinions which I have imbibed from them concerning the worship of the immortal Gods. In matters of religion I submit to the rules of the high-priests, T. Coruncanius, P. Scipio, and P. Scævola; not to the sentiments of Zeno, Cleanthes, or Chrysippus; and I pay a greater regard to what C. Lælius, one of our augurs and wise men, has written concerning religion, in that noble oration of his, than to the most eminent of the Stoics: and as the whole religion of the Romans at 320first consisted in sacrifices and divination by birds, to which have since been added predictions, if the interpreters242 of the Sibylline oracle or the aruspices have foretold any event from portents and prodigies, I have ever thought that there was no point of all these holy things which deserved to be despised. I have been even persuaded that Romulus, by instituting divination, and Numa, by establishing sacrifices, laid the foundation of Rome, which undoubtedly would never have risen to such a height of grandeur if the Gods had not been made propitious by this worship. These, Balbus, are my sentiments both as a priest and as Cotta. But you must bring me to your opinion by the force of your reason: for I have a right to demand from you, as a philosopher, a reason for the religion which you would have me embrace. But I must believe the religion of our ancestors without any proof.

III. What proof, says Balbus, do you require of me? You have proposed, says Cotta, four articles. First of all, you undertook to prove that there “are Gods;” secondly, “of what kind and character they are;” thirdly, that “the universe is governed by them;” lastly, that “they provide for the welfare of mankind in particular.” Thus, if I remember rightly, you divided your discourse. Exactly so, replies Balbus; but let us see what you require.

Let us examine, says Cotta, every proposition. The first one—that there are Gods—is never contested but by the most impious of men; nay, though it can never be rooted out of my mind, yet I believe it on the authority of our ancestors, and not on the proofs which you have brought. Why do you expect a proof from me, says Balbus, if you thoroughly believe it? Because, says Cotta, I come to this discussion as if I had never thought of the Gods, or heard anything concerning them. Take me as a disciple wholly ignorant and unbiassed, and prove to me all the points which I ask.

Begin, then, replies Balbus. I would first know, says Cotta, why you have been so long in proving the existence of the Gods, which you said was a point so very evident to all, that there was no need of any proof? In that, answers 321Balbus, I have followed your example, whom I have often observed, when pleading in the Forum, to load the judge with all the arguments which the nature of your cause would permit. This also is the practice of philosophers, and I have a right to follow it. Besides, you may as well ask me why I look upon you with two eyes, since I can see you with one.

IV. You shall judge, then, yourself, says Cotta, if this is a very just comparison; for, when I plead, I do not dwell upon any point agreed to be self-evident, because long reasoning only serves to confound the clearest matters; besides, though I might take this method in pleading, yet I should not make use of it in such a discourse as this, which requires the nicest distinction. And with regard to your making use of one eye only when you look on me, there is no reason for it, since together they have the same view; and since nature, to which you attribute wisdom, has been pleased to give us two passages by which we receive light. But the truth is, that it was because you did not think that the existence of the Gods was so evident as you could wish that you therefore brought so many proofs. It was sufficient for me to believe it on the tradition of our ancestors; and since you disregard authorities, and appeal to reason, permit my reason to defend them against yours. The proofs on which you found the existence of the Gods tend only to render a proposition doubtful that, in my opinion, is not so; I have not only retained in my memory the whole of these proofs, but even the order in which you proposed them. The first was, that when we lift up our eyes towards the heavens, we immediately conceive that there is some divinity that governs those celestial bodies; on which you quoted this passage—

Look up to the refulgent heaven above,

Which all men call, unanimously, Jove;

intimating that we should invoke that as Jupiter, rather than our Capitoline Jove243, or that it is evident to the whole world that those bodies are Gods which Velleius and many others do not place even in the rank of animated beings.

322Another strong proof, in your opinion, was that the belief of the existence of the Gods was universal, and that mankind was daily more and more convinced of it. What! should an affair of such importance be left to the decision of fools, who, by your sect especially, are called madmen?

V. But the Gods have appeared to us, as to Posthumius at the Lake Regillus, and to Vatienus in the Salarian Way: something you mentioned, too, I know not what, of a battle of the Locrians at Sagra. Do you believe that the Tyndaridæ, as you called them; that is, men sprung from men, and who were buried in Lacedæmon, as we learn from Homer, who lived in the next age—do you believe, I say, that they appeared to Vatienus on the road mounted on white horses, without any servant to attend them, to tell the victory of the Romans to a country fellow rather than to M. Cato, who was at that time the chief person of the senate? Do you take that print of a horse’s hoof which is now to be seen on a stone at Regillus to be made by Castor’s horse? Should you not believe, what is probable, that the souls of eminent men, such as the Tyndaridæ, are divine and immortal, rather than that those bodies which had been reduced to ashes should mount on horses, and fight in an army? If you say that was possible, you ought to show how it is so, and not amuse us with fabulous old women’s stories.

Do you take these for fabulous stories? says Balbus. Is not the temple, built by Posthumius in honor of Castor and Pollux, to be seen in the Forum? Is not the decree of the senate concerning Vatienus still subsisting? As to the affair of Sagra, it is a common proverb among the Greeks; when they would affirm anything strongly, they say “It is as certain as what passed at Sagra.” Ought not such authorities to move you? You oppose me, replies Cotta, with stories, but I ask reasons of you244. * * *

VI. We are now to speak of predictions. No one can avoid what is to come, and, indeed, it is commonly useless to know it; for it is a miserable case to be afflicted to no purpose, and not to have even the last, the common comfort, 323hope, which, according to your principles, none can have; for you say that fate governs all things, and call that fate which has been true from all eternity. What advantage, then, is the knowledge of futurity to us, or how does it assist us to guard against impending evils, since it will come inevitably?

But whence comes that divination? To whom is owing that knowledge from the entrails of beasts? Who first made observations from the voice of the crow? Who invented the Lots?245 Not that I give no credit to these things, or that I despise Attius Navius’s staff, which you mentioned; but I ought to be informed how these things are understood by philosophers, especially as the diviners are often wrong in their conjectures. But physicians, you say, are likewise often mistaken. What comparison can there be between divination, of the origin of which we are ignorant, and physic, which proceeds on principles intelligible to every one? You believe that the Decii,246 in devoting themselves to death, appeased the Gods. How great, then, was the iniquity of the Gods that they could not be appeased but at the price of such noble blood! That was the stratagem of generals such as the Greeks call στρατήγημα, and it was a stratagem worthy such illustrious leaders, who consulted the public good even at the expense of their lives: they conceived rightly, what indeed happened, that if the general rode furiously upon the enemy, the whole army would follow his example. As to the voice of the Fauns, I never heard it. If you assure me that you have, I shall believe you, though I really know not what a Faun is.

VII. I do not, then, O Balbus, from anything that you have said, perceive as yet that it is proved that there are Gods. I believe it, indeed, but not from any arguments of the Stoics. Cleanthes, you have said, attributes the idea that men have of the Gods to four causes. In the first place (as I have already sufficiently mentioned), to a foreknowledge 324of future events; secondly, to tempests, and other shocks of nature; thirdly, to the utility and plenty of things we enjoy; fourthly, to the invariable order of the stars and the heavens. The arguments drawn from foreknowledge I have already answered. With regard to tempests in the air, the sea, and the earth, I own that many people are affrighted by them, and imagine that the immortal Gods are the authors of them.

But the question is, not whether there are people who believe that there are Gods, but whether there are Gods or not. As to the two other causes of Cleanthes, one of which is derived from the great abundance of desirable things which we enjoy, the other from the invariable order of the seasons and the heavens, I shall treat on them when I answer your discourse concerning the providence of the Gods—a point, Balbus, upon which you have spoken at great length. I shall likewise defer till then examining the argument which you attribute to Chrysippus, that “if there is in nature anything which surpasses the power of man to produce, there must consequently be some being better than man.” I shall also postpone, till we come to that part of my argument, your comparison of the world to a fine house, your observations on the proportion and harmony of the universe, and those smart, short reasons of Zeno which you quote; and I shall examine at the same time your reasons drawn from natural philosophy, concerning that fiery force and that vital heat which you regard as the principle of all things; and I will investigate, in its proper place, all that you advanced the other day on the existence of the Gods, and on the sense and understanding which you attributed to the sun, the moon, and all the stars; and I shall ask you this question over and over again, By what proofs are you convinced yourself there are Gods?

VIII. I thought, says Balbus, that I had brought ample proofs to establish this point. But such is your manner of opposing, that, when you seem on the point of interrogating me, and when I am preparing to answer, you suddenly divert the discourse, and give me no opportunity to reply to you; and thus those most important points concerning divination and fate are neglected which we Stoics 325have thoroughly examined, but which your school has only slightly touched upon. But they are not thought essential to the question in hand; therefore, if you think proper, do not confuse them together, that we in this discussion may come to a clear explanation of the subject of our present inquiry.

Very well, says Cotta. Since, then, you have divided the whole question into four parts, and I have said all that I had to say on the first, I will take the second into consideration; in which, when you attempted to show what the character of the Gods was, you seemed to me rather to prove that there are none; for you said that it was the greatest difficulty to draw our minds from the prepossessions of the eyes; but that as nothing is more excellent than the Deity, you did not doubt that the world was God, because there is nothing better in nature than the world, and so we may reasonably think it animated, or, rather, perceive it in our minds as clearly as if it were obvious to our eyes.

Now, in what sense do you say there is nothing better than the world? If you mean that there is nothing more beautiful, I agree with you; that there is nothing more adapted to our wants, I likewise agree with you: but if you mean that nothing is wiser than the world, I am by no means of your opinion. Not that I find it difficult to conceive anything in my mind independent of my eyes; on the contrary, the more I separate my mind from my eyes, the less I am able to comprehend your opinion.

IX. Nothing is better than the world, you say. Nor is there, indeed, anything on earth better than the city of Rome; do you think, therefore, that our city has a mind; that it thinks and reasons; or that this most beautiful city, being void of sense, is not preferable to an ant, because an ant has sense, understanding, reason, and memory? You should consider, Balbus, what ought to be allowed you, and not advance things because they please you.

For that old, concise, and, as it seemed to you, acute syllogism of Zeno has been all which you have so much enlarged upon in handling this topic: “That which reasons is superior to that which does not; nothing is superior to the world; therefore the world reasons.” If you would 326prove also that the world can very well read a book, follow the example of Zeno, and say, “That which can read is better than that which cannot; nothing is better than the world; the world therefore can read.” After the same manner you may prove the world to be an orator, a mathematician, a musician—that it possesses all sciences, and, in short, is a philosopher. You have often said that God made all things, and that no cause can produce an effect unlike itself. From hence it will follow, not only that the world is animated, and is wise, but also plays upon the fiddle and the flute, because it produces men who play on those instruments. Zeno, therefore, the chief of your sect, advances no argument sufficient to induce us to think that the world reasons, or, indeed, that it is animated at all, and consequently none to think it a Deity; though it may be said that there is nothing superior to it, as there is nothing more beautiful, nothing more useful to us, nothing more adorned, and nothing more regular in its motions. But if the world, considered as one great whole, is not God, you should not surely deify, as you have done, that infinite multitude of stars which only form a part of it, and which so delight you with the regularity of their eternal courses; not but that there is something truly wonderful and incredible in their regularity; but this regularity of motion, Balbus, may as well be ascribed to a natural as to a divine cause.

X. What can be more regular than the flux and reflux of the Euripus at Chalcis, the Sicilian sea, and the violence of the ocean in those parts247

where the rapid tide

Does Europe from the Libyan coast divide?

The same appears on the Spanish and British coasts. Must we conclude that some Deity appoints and directs these ebbings and flowings to certain fixed times? Consider, I pray, if everything which is regular in its motion is deemed divine, whether it will not follow that tertian and quartan agues must likewise be so, as their returns have the greatest regularity. These effects are to be explained by reason; but, because you are unable to assign any, you have recourse to a Deity as your last refuge.

327The arguments of Chrysippus appeared to you of great weight; a man undoubtedly of great quickness and subtlety (I call those quick who have a sprightly turn of thought, and those subtle whose minds are seasoned by use as their hands are by labor): “If,” says he, “there is anything which is beyond the power of man to produce, the being who produces it is better than man. Man is unable to make what is in the world; the being, therefore, that could do it is superior to man. What being is there but a God superior to man? Therefore there is a God.”

These arguments are founded on the same erroneous principles as Zeno’s, for he does not define what is meant by being better or more excellent, or distinguish between an intelligent cause and a natural cause. Chrysippus adds, “If there are no Gods, there is nothing better than man; but we cannot, without the highest arrogance, have this idea of ourselves.” Let us grant that it is arrogance in man to think himself better than the world; but to comprehend that he has understanding and reason, and that in Orion and Canicula there is neither, is no arrogance, but an indication of good sense. “Since we suppose,” continues he, “when we see a beautiful house, that it was built for the master, and not for mice, we should likewise judge that the world is the mansion of the Gods.” Yes, if I believed that the Gods built the world; but not if, as I believe, and intend to prove, it is the work of nature.

XI. Socrates, in Xenophon, asks, “Whence had man his understanding, if there was none in the world?” And I ask, Whence had we speech, harmony, singing; unless we think it is the sun conversing with the moon when she approaches near it, or that the world forms an harmonious concert, as Pythagoras imagines? This, Balbus, is the effect of nature; not of that nature which proceeds artificially, as Zeno says, and the character of which I shall presently examine into, but a nature which, by its own proper motions and mutations, modifies everything.

For I readily agree to what you said about the harmony and general agreement of nature, which you pronounced to be firmly bound and united together, as it were, by ties of blood; but I do not approve of what you added, that “it could not possibly be so, unless it were so united by 328one divine spirit.” On the contrary, the whole subsists by the power of nature, independently of the Gods, and there is a kind of sympathy (as the Greeks call it) which joins together all the parts of the universe; and the greater that is in its own power, the less is it necessary to have recourse to a divine intelligence.

XII. But how will you get rid of the objections which Carneades made? “If,” says he, “there is no body immortal, there is none eternal; but there is no body immortal, nor even indivisible, or that cannot be separated and disunited; and as every animal is in its nature passive, so there is not one which is not subject to the impressions of extraneous bodies; none, that is to say, which can avoid the necessity of enduring and suffering: and if every animal is mortal, there is none immortal; so, likewise, if every animal may be cut up and divided, there is none indivisible, none eternal, but all are liable to be affected by, and compelled to submit to, external power. Every animal, therefore, is necessarily mortal, dissoluble, and divisible.”

For as there is no wax, no silver, no brass which cannot be converted into something else, whatever is composed of wax, or silver, or brass may cease to be what it is. By the same reason, if all the elements are mutable, every body is mutable.

Now, according to your doctrine, all the elements are mutable; all bodies, therefore, are mutable. But if there were any body immortal, then all bodies would not be mutable. Every body, then, is mortal; for every body is either water, air, fire, or earth, or composed of the four elements together, or of some of them. Now, there is not one of all these elements that does not perish; for earthly bodies are fragile: water is so soft that the least shock will separate its parts, and fire and air yield to the least impulse, and are subject to dissolution; besides, any of these elements perish when converted into another nature, as when water is formed from earth, the air from water, and the sky from air, and when they change in the same manner back again. Therefore, if there is nothing but what is perishable in the composition of all animals, there is no animal eternal.

XIII. But, not to insist on these arguments, there is no 329animal to be found that had not a beginning, and will not have an end; for every animal being sensitive, they are consequently all sensible of cold and heat, sweet and bitter; nor can they have pleasing sensations without being subject to the contrary. As, therefore, they receive pleasure, they likewise receive pain; and whatever being is subject to pain must necessarily be subject to death. It must be allowed, therefore, that every animal is mortal.

Besides, a being that is not sensible of pleasure or pain cannot have the essence of an animal; if, then, on the one hand, every animal must be sensible of pleasure and pain, and if, on the other, every being that has these sensations cannot be immortal, we may conclude that as there is no animal insensible, there is none immortal. Besides, there is no animal without inclination and aversion—an inclination to that which is agreeable to nature, and an aversion to the contrary: there are in the case of every animal some things which they covet, and others they reject. What they reject are repugnant to their nature, and consequently would destroy them. Every animal, therefore, is inevitably subject to be destroyed. There are innumerable arguments to prove that whatever is sensitive is perishable; for cold, heat, pleasure, pain, and all that affects the sense, when they become excessive, cause destruction. Since, then, there is no animal that is not sensitive, there is none immortal.

XIV. The substance of an animal is either simple or compound; simple, if it is composed only of earth, of fire, of air, or of water (and of such a sort of being we can form no idea); compound, if it is formed of different elements, which have each their proper situation, and have a natural tendency to it—this element tending towards the highest parts, that towards the lowest, and another towards the middle. This conjunction may for some time subsist, but not forever; for every element must return to its first situation. No animal, therefore, is eternal.

But your school, Balbus, allows fire only to be the sole active principle; an opinion which I believe you derive from Heraclitus, whom some men understand in one sense, some in another: but since he seems unwilling to be understood, we will pass him by. You Stoics, then, say that 330fire is the universal principle of all things; that all living bodies cease to live on the extinction of that heat; and that throughout all nature whatever is sensible of that heat lives and flourishes. Now, I cannot conceive that bodies should perish for want of heat, rather than for want of moisture or air, especially as they even die through excess of heat; so that the life of animals does not depend more on fire than on the other elements.

However, air and water have this quality in common with fire and heat. But let us see to what this tends. If I am not mistaken, you believe that in all nature there is nothing but fire, which is self-animated. Why fire rather than air, of which the life of animals consists, and which is called from thence anima,248 the soul? But how is it that you take it for granted that life is nothing but fire? It seems more probable that it is a compound of fire and air. But if fire is self-animated, unmixed with any other element, it must be sensitive, because it renders our bodies sensitive; and the same objection which I just now made will arise, that whatever is sensitive must necessarily be susceptible of pleasure and pain, and whatever is sensible of pain is likewise subject to the approach of death; therefore you cannot prove fire to be eternal.

You Stoics hold that all fire has need of nourishment, without which it cannot possibly subsist; that the sun, moon, and all the stars are fed either with fresh or salt waters; and the reason that Cleanthes gives why the sun is retrograde, and does not go beyond the tropics in the summer or winter, is that he may not be too far from his sustenance. This I shall fully examine hereafter; but at present we may conclude that whatever may cease to be cannot of its own nature be eternal; that if fire wants sustenance, it will cease to be, and that, therefore, fire is not of its own nature eternal.

XV. After all, what kind of a Deity must that be who 331is not graced with one single virtue, if we should succeed in forming this idea of such a one? Must we not attribute prudence to a Deity? a virtue which consists in the knowledge of things good, bad, and indifferent. Yet what need has a being for the discernment of good and ill who neither has nor can have any ill? Of what use is reason to him? of what use is understanding? We men, indeed, find them useful to aid us in finding out things which are obscure by those which are clear to us; but nothing can be obscure to a Deity. As to justice, which gives to every one his own, it is not the concern of the Gods; since that virtue, according to your doctrine, received its birth from men and from civil society. Temperance consists in abstinence from corporeal pleasures, and if such abstinence hath a place in heaven, so also must the pleasures abstained from. Lastly, if fortitude is ascribed to the Deity, how does it appear? In afflictions, in labor, in danger? None of these things can affect a God. How, then, can we conceive this to be a Deity that makes no use of reason, and is not endowed with any virtue?

However, when I consider what is advanced by the Stoics, my contempt for the ignorant multitude vanishes. For these are their divinities. The Syrians worshipped a fish. The Egyptians consecrated beasts of almost every kind. The Greeks deified many men; as Alabandus249 at Alabandæ, Tenes at Tenedos; and all Greece pay divine honors to Leucothea (who was before called Ino), to her son Palæmon, to Hercules, to Æsculapius, and to the Tyndaridæ; our own people to Romulus, and to many others, who, as citizens newly admitted into the ancient body, they imagine have been received into heaven.

These are the Gods of the illiterate.

XVI. What are the notions of you philosophers? In what respect are they superior to these ideas? I shall pass them over; for they are certainly very admirable. Let the world, then, be a Deity, for that, I conceive, is what you mean by

The refulgent heaven above,

Which all men call, unanimously, Jove.

332But why are we to add many more Gods? What a multitude of them there is! At least, it seems so to me; for every constellation, according to you, is a Deity: to some you give the name of beasts, as the goat, the scorpion, the bull, the lion; to others the names of inanimate things, as the ship, the altar, the crown.

But supposing these were to be allowed, how can the rest be granted, or even so much as understood? When we call corn Ceres, and wine Bacchus, we make use of the common manner of speaking; but do you think any one so mad as to believe that his food is a Deity? With regard to those who, you say, from having been men became Gods, I should be very willing to learn of you, either how it was possible formerly, or, if it had ever been, why is it not so now? I do not conceive, as things are at present, how Hercules,

Burn’d with fiery torches on Mount Œta,

as Accius says, should rise, with the flames,

To the eternal mansions of his father.

Besides, Homer also says that Ulysses250 met him in the shades below, among the other dead.

But yet I should be glad to know which Hercules we should chiefly worship; for they who have searched into those histories, which are but little known, tell us of several. The most ancient is he who fought with Apollo about the Tripos of Delphi, and is son of Jupiter and Lisyto; and of the most ancient Jupiters too, for we find many Jupiters also in the Grecian chronicles. The second is the Egyptian Hercules, and is believed to be the son of Nilus, and to be the author of the Phrygian characters. The third, to whom they offered sacrifices, is one of the 333Idæi Dactyli.251 The fourth is the son of Jupiter and Asteria, the sister of Latona, chiefly honored by the Tyrians, who pretend that Carthago252 is his daughter. The fifth, called Belus, is worshipped in India. The sixth is the son of Alcmena by Jupiter; but by the third Jupiter, for there are many Jupiters, as you shall soon see.

XVII. Since this examination has led me so far, I will convince you that in matters of religion I have learned more from the pontifical rites, the customs of our ancestors, and the vessels of Numa,253 which Lælius mentions in his little Golden Oration, than from all the learning of the Stoics; for tell me, if I were a disciple of your school, what answer could I make to these questions? If there are Gods, are nymphs also Goddesses? If they are Goddesses, are Pans and Satyrs in the same rank? But they are not; consequently, nymphs are not Goddesses. Yet they have temples publicly dedicated to them. What do you conclude from thence? Others who have temples are not therefore Gods. But let us go on. You call Jupiter and Neptune Gods; their brother Pluto, then, is one; and if so, those rivers also are Deities which they say flow in the infernal regions—Acheron, Cocytus, Pyriphlegethon; Charon also, and Cerberus, are Gods; but that cannot be allowed; nor can Pluto be placed among the Deities. What, then, will you say of his brothers?

Thus reasons Carneades; not with any design to destroy the existence of the Gods (for what would less become a philosopher?), but to convince us that on that matter the Stoics have said nothing plausible. If, then, Jupiter and Neptune are Gods, adds he, can that divinity be denied to their father Saturn, who is principally worshipped throughout the West? If Saturn is a God, then must his father, Cœlus, be one too, and so must the parents of Cœlus, which are the Sky and Day, as also their brothers and sisters, which by ancient genealogists are 334thus named: Love, Deceit, Fear, Labor, Envy, Fate, Old Age, Death, Darkness, Misery, Lamentation, Favor, Fraud, Obstinacy, the Destinies, the Hesperides, and Dreams; all which are the offspring of Erebus and Night. These monstrous Deities, therefore, must be received, or else those from whom they sprung must be disallowed.

XVIII. If you say that Apollo, Vulcan, Mercury, and the rest of that sort are Gods, can you doubt the divinity of Hercules and Æsculapius, Bacchus, Castor and Pollux? These are worshipped as much as those, and even more in some places. Therefore they must be numbered among the Gods, though on the mother’s side they are only of mortal race. Aristæus, who is said to have been the son of Apollo, and to have found out the art of making oil from the olive; Theseus, the son of Neptune; and the rest whose fathers were Deities, shall they not be placed in the number of the Gods? But what think you of those whose mothers were Goddesses? They surely have a better title to divinity; for, in the civil law, as he is a freeman who is born of a freewoman, so, in the law of nature, he whose mother is a Goddess must be a God. The isle Astypalæa religiously honor Achilles; and if he is a Deity, Orpheus and Rhesus are so, who were born of one of the Muses; unless, perhaps, there may be a privilege belonging to sea marriages which land marriages have not. Orpheus and Rhesus are nowhere worshipped; and if they are therefore not Gods, because they are nowhere worshipped as such, how can the others be Deities? You, Balbus, seemed to agree with me that the honors which they received were not from their being regarded as immortals, but as men richly endued with virtue.

But if you think Latona a Goddess, how can you avoid admitting Hecate to be one also, who was the daughter of Asteria, Latona’s sister? Certainly she is one, if we may judge by the altars erected to her in Greece. And if Hecate is a Goddess, how can you refuse that rank to the Eumenides? for they also have a temple at Athens, and, if I understand right, the Romans have consecrated a grove to them. The Furies, too, whom we look upon as the inspectors into and scourges of impiety, I suppose, must have their divinity too. As you hold that there is some divinity 335presides over every human affair, there is one who presides over the travail of matrons, whose name, Natio, is derived a nascentibus, from nativities, and to whom we used to sacrifice in our processions in the fields of Ardæa; but if she is a Deity, we must likewise acknowledge all those you mentioned, Honor, Faith, Intellect, Concord; by the same rule also, Hope, Juno, Moneta,254 and every idle phantom, every child of our imagination, are Deities. But as this consequence is quite inadmissible, do not you either defend the cause from which it flows.

XIX. What say you to this? If these are Deities, which we worship and regard as such, why are not Serapis and Isis255 placed in the same rank? And if they are admitted, what reason have we to reject the Gods of the barbarians? Thus we should deify oxen, horses, the ibis, hawks, asps, crocodiles, fishes, dogs, wolves, cats, and many other beasts. If we go back to the source of this superstition, we must equally condemn all the Deities from which they proceed. Shall Ino, whom the Greeks call Leucothea, and we Matuta, be reputed a Goddess, because she was the daughter of Cadmus, and shall that title be refused to Circe and Pasiphae,256 who had the sun for their father, and Perseis, daughter of the Ocean, for their mother? It is true, Circe has divine honors paid her by our colony of Circæum; therefore you call her a Goddess; but what will you say of Medea, the granddaughter of the Sun and the Ocean, and daughter of Æetes and Idyia? What will you say of her brother Absyrtus, whom Pacuvius calls Ægialeus, though the other name is more frequent in the writings of the ancients? If you did not deify one as well as the other, what will become of Ino? for all these Deities have the same origin.

Shall Amphiaraus and Tryphonius be called Gods? Our publicans, when some lands in Bœotia were exempted from the tax, as belonging to the immortal Gods, denied that 336any were immortal who had been men. But if you deify these, Erechtheus surely is a God, whose temple and priest we have seen at Athens. And can you, then, refuse to acknowledge also Codrus, and many others who shed their blood for the preservation of their country? And if it is not allowable to consider all these men as Gods, then, certainly, probabilities are not in favor of our acknowledging the Divinity of those previously mentioned beings from whom these have proceeded.

It is easy to observe, likewise, that if in many countries people have paid divine honors to the memory of those who have signalized their courage, it was done in order to animate others to practise virtue, and to expose themselves the more willingly to dangers in their country’s cause. From this motive the Athenians have deified Erechtheus and his daughters, and have erected also a temple, called Leocorion, to the daughters of Leus.257 Alabandus is more honored in the city which he founded than any of the more illustrious Deities; from thence Stratonicus had a pleasant turn—as he had many—when he was troubled with an impertinent fellow who insisted that Alabandus was a God, but that Hercules was not; “Very well,” says he, “then let the anger of Alabandus fall upon me, and that of Hercules upon you.”

XX. Do you not consider, Balbus, to what lengths your arguments for the divinity of the heaven and the stars will carry you? You deify the sun and the moon, which the Greeks take to be Apollo and Diana. If the moon is a Deity, the morning-star, the other planets, and all the fixed stars are also Deities; and why shall not the rainbow be placed in that number? for it is so wonderfully beautiful that it is justly said to be the daughter of Thaumas.258 But if you deify the rainbow, what regard will you pay to the clouds? for the colors which appear in the bow are only formed of the clouds, one of which is said to have brought forth the Centaurs; and if you deify the clouds, you cannot pay less regard to the seasons, which the Roman people have really consecrated. Tempests, showers, 337storms, and whirlwinds must then be Deities. It is certain, at least, that our captains used to sacrifice a victim to the waves before they embarked on any voyage.

As you deify the earth under the name of Ceres,259 because, as you said, she bears fruits (a gerendo), and the ocean under that of Neptune, rivers and fountains have the same right. Thus we see that Maso, the conqueror of Corsica, dedicated a temple to a fountain, and the names of the Tiber, Spino, Almo, Nodinus, and other neighboring rivers are in the prayers260 of the augurs. Therefore, either the number of such Deities will be infinite, or we must admit none of them, and wholly disapprove of such an endless series of superstition.

XXI. None of all these assertions, then, are to be admitted. I must proceed now, Balbus, to answer those who say that, with regard to those deified mortals, so religiously and devoutly reverenced, the public opinion should have the force of reality. To begin, then: they who are called theologists say that there are three Jupiters; the first and second of whom were born in Arcadia; one of whom was the son of Æther, and father of Proserpine and Bacchus; the other the son of Cœlus, and father of Minerva, who is called the Goddess and inventress of war; the third one born of Saturn in the isle of Crete,261 where his sepulchre is shown. The sons of Jupiter (Διόσκουροι) also, among the Greeks, have many names; first, the three who at Athens have the title of Anactes,262 Tritopatreus, Eubuleus, and Dionysus, sons of the most ancient king Jupiter and Proserpine; the next are Castor and Pollux, sons of the third Jupiter and Leda; and, lastly, three others, by some called Alco,263 Melampus, and Tmolus, sons of Atreus, the son of Pelops.

338As to the Muses, there were at first four—Thelxiope, Aœde, Arche, and Melete—daughters of the second Jupiter; afterward there were nine, daughters of the third Jupiter and Mnemosyne; there were also nine others, having the same appellations, born of Pierus and Antiopa, by the poets usually called Pierides and Pieriæ. Though Sol (the sun) is so called, you say, because he is solus (single); yet how many suns do theologists mention? There is one, the son of Jupiter and grandson of Æther; another, the son of Hyperion; a third, who, the Egyptians say, was of the city Heliopolis, sprung from Vulcan, the son of Nilus; a fourth is said to have been born at Rhodes of Acantho, in the times of the heroes, and was the grandfather of Jalysus, Camirus, and Lindus; a fifth, of whom, it is pretended, Aretes and Circe were born at Colchis.

XXII. There are likewise several Vulcans. The first (who had of Minerva that Apollo whom the ancient historians call the tutelary God of Athens) was the son of Cœlus; the second, whom the Egyptians call Opas,264 and whom they looked upon as the protector of Egypt, is the son of Nilus; the third, who is said to have been the master of the forges at Lemnos, was the son of the third Jupiter and of Juno; the fourth, who possessed the islands near Sicily called Vulcaniæ,265 was the son of Menalius. One Mercury had Cœlus for his father and Dies for his mother; another, who is said to dwell in a cavern, and is the same as Trophonius, is the son of Valens and Phoronis. A third, of whom, and of Penelope, Pan was the offspring, is the son of the third Jupiter and Maia. A fourth, whom the Egyptians think it a crime to name, is the son of Nilus. A fifth, whom we call, in their language, Thoth, as with them the first month of the year is called, is he whom the people of Pheneum266 worship, and who is said to have killed Argus, to have fled for it into Egypt, and to have given laws and learning to the Egyptians. The first of the Æsculapii, the God of Arcadia, who is said to have invented the probe and to have been the first person who taught men to use bandages for wounds, is the son of 339Apollo. The second, who was killed with thunder, and is said to be buried in Cynosura,267 is the brother of the second Mercury. The third, who is said to have found out the art of purging the stomach, and of drawing teeth, is the son of Arsippus and Arsinoe; and in Arcadia there is shown his tomb, and the wood which is consecrated to him, near the river Lusium.

XXIII. I have already spoken of the most ancient of the Apollos, who is the son of Vulcan, and tutelar God of Athens. There is another, son of Corybas, and native of Crete, for which island he is said to have contended with Jupiter himself. A third, who came from the regions of the Hyperborei268 to Delphi, is the son of the third Jupiter and of Latona. A fourth was of Arcadia, whom the Arcadians called Nomio,269 because they regarded him as their legislator. There are likewise many Dianas. The first, who is thought to be the mother of the winged Cupid, is the daughter of Jupiter and Proserpine. The second, who is more known, is daughter of the third Jupiter and of Latona. The third, whom the Greeks often call by her father’s name, is the daughter of Upis270 and Glauce. There are many also of the Dionysi. The first was the son of Jupiter and Proserpine. The second, who is said to have killed Nysa, was the son of Nilus. The third, who reigned in Asia, and for whom the Sabazia271 were instituted, was the son of Caprius. The fourth, for whom they celebrate the Orphic festivals, sprung from Jupiter and Luna. The fifth, who is supposed to have instituted the Trieterides, was the son of Nysus and Thyone.

The first Venus, who has a temple at Elis, was the daughter of Cœlus and Dies. The second arose out of the froth of the sea, and became, by Mercury, the mother of the second Cupid. The third, the daughter of Jupiter and Diana, was married to Vulcan, but is said to have had Anteros by Mars. The fourth was a Syrian, born of Tyro, who is called Astarte, and is said to have been married to 340Adonis. I have already mentioned one Minerva, mother of Apollo. Another, who is worshipped at Sais, a city in Egypt, sprung from Nilus. The third, whom I have also mentioned, was daughter of Jupiter. The fourth, sprung from Jupiter and Coryphe, the daughter of the Ocean; the Arcadians call her Coria, and make her the inventress of chariots. A fifth, whom they paint with wings at her heels, was daughter of Pallas, and is said to have killed her father for endeavoring to violate her chastity. The first Cupid is said to be the son of Mercury and the first Diana; the second, of Mercury and the second Venus; the third, who is the same as Anteros, of Mars and the third Venus.

All these opinions arise from old stories that were spread in Greece; the belief in which, Balbus, you well know, ought to be stopped, lest religion should suffer. But you Stoics, so far from refuting them, even give them authority by the mysterious sense which you pretend to find in them. Can you, then, think, after this plain refutation, that there is need to employ more subtle reasonings? But to return from this digression.

XXIV. We see that the mind, faith, hope, virtue, honor, victory, health, concord, and things of such kind, are purely natural, and have nothing of divinity in them; for either they are inherent in us, as the mind, faith, hope, virtue, and concord are; or else they are to be desired, as honor, health, and victory. I know indeed that they are useful to us, and see that statues have been religiously erected for them; but as to their divinity, I shall begin to believe it when you have proved it for certain. Of this kind I may particularly mention Fortune, which is allowed to be ever inseparable from inconstancy and temerity, which are certainly qualities unworthy of a divine being.

But what delight do you take in the explication of fables, and in the etymology of names?—that Cœlus was castrated by his son, and that Saturn was bound in chains by his son! By your defence of these and such like fictions you would make the authors of them appear not only not to be madmen, but to have been even very wise. But the pains which you take with your etymologies deserve our pity. That Saturn is so called because se saturat annis, he is full of years; Mavors, Mars, because magna 341vortit, he brings about mighty changes; Minerva, because minuit, she diminishes, or because minatur, she threatens; Venus, because venit ad omnia, she comes to all; Ceres, a gerendo, from bearing. How dangerous is this method! for there are many names would puzzle you. >From what would you derive Vejupiter and Vulcan? Though, indeed, if you can derive Neptune a nando, from swimming, in which you seem to me to flounder about yourself more than Neptune, you may easily find the origin of all names, since it is founded only upon the conformity of some one letter. Zeno first, and after him Cleanthes and Chrysippus, are put to the unnecessary trouble of explaining mere fables, and giving reasons for the several appellations of every Deity; which is really owning that those whom we call Gods are not the representations of deities, but natural things, and that to judge otherwise is an error.

XXV. Yet this error has so much prevailed that even pernicious things have not only the title of divinity ascribed to them, but have also sacrifices offered to them; for Fever has a temple on the Palatine hill, and Orbona another near that of the Lares, and we see on the Esquiline hill an altar consecrated to Ill-fortune. Let all such errors be banished from philosophy, if we would advance, in our dispute concerning the immortal Gods, nothing unworthy of immortal beings. I know myself what I ought to believe; which is far different from what you have said. You take Neptune for an intelligence pervading the sea. You have the same opinion of Ceres with regard to the earth. I cannot, I own, find out, or in the least conjecture, what that intelligence of the sea or the earth is. To learn, therefore, the existence of the Gods, and of what description and character they are, I must apply elsewhere, not to the Stoics.

Let us proceed to the two other parts of our dispute: first, “whether there is a divine providence which governs the world;” and lastly, “whether that providence particularly regards mankind;” for these are the remaining propositions of your discourse; and I think that, if you approve of it, we should examine these more accurately. With all my heart, says Velleius, for I readily agree to what you have hitherto said, and expect still greater things from you.

I am unwilling to interrupt you, says Balbus to Cotta, 342but we shall take another opportunity, and I shall effectually convince you. But272 * * *


Shall I adore, and bend the suppliant knee,

Who scorn their power and doubt their deity?

Does not Niobe here seem to reason, and by that reasoning to bring all her misfortunes upon herself? But what a subtle expression is the following!

On strength of will alone depends success;

a maxim capable of leading us into all that is bad.

Though I’m confined, his malice yet is vain,

His tortured heart shall answer pain for pain;

His ruin soothe my soul with soft content,

Lighten my chains, and welcome banishment!

This, now, is reason; that reason which you say the divine goodness has denied to the brute creation, kindly to bestow it on men alone. How great, how immense the favor! Observe the same Medea flying from her father and her country:

The guilty wretch from her pursuer flies.

By her own hands the young Absyrtus slain,

His mangled limbs she scatters o’er the plain,

That the fond sire might sink beneath his woe,

And she to parricide her safety owe.

Reflection, as well as wickedness, must have been necessary to the preparation of such a fact; and did he too, who prepared that fatal repast for his brother, do it without reflection?

Revenge as great as Atreus’ injury

Shall sink his soul and crown his misery.

XXVII. Did not Thyestes himself, not content with having defiled his brother’s bed (of which Atreus with great justice thus complains,

When faithless comforts, in the lewd embrace,

With vile adultery stain a royal race,

The blood thus mix’d in fouler currents flows,

Taints the rich soil, and breeds unnumber’d woes)—

343did he not, I say, by that adultery, aim at the possession of the crown? Atreus thus continues:

A lamb, fair gift of heaven, with golden fleece,

Promised in vain to fix my crown in peace;

But base Thyestes, eager for the prey,

Crept to my bed, and stole the gem away.

Do you not perceive that Thyestes must have had a share of reason proportionable to the greatness of his crimes—such crimes as are not only represented to us on the stage, but such as we see committed, nay, often exceeded, in the common course of life? The private houses of individual citizens, the public courts, the senate, the camp, our allies, our provinces, all agree that reason is the author of all the ill, as well as of all the good, which is done; that it makes few act well, and that but seldom, but many act ill, and that frequently; and that, in short, the Gods would have shown greater benevolence in denying us any reason at all than in sending us that which is accompanied with so much mischief; for as wine is seldom wholesome, but often hurtful in diseases, we think it more prudent to deny it to the patient than to run the risk of so uncertain a remedy; so I do not know whether it would not be better for mankind to be deprived of wit, thought, and penetration, or what we call reason, since it is a thing pernicious to many and very useful to few, than to have it bestowed upon them with so much liberality and in such abundance. But if the divine will has really consulted the good of man in this gift of reason, the good of those men only was consulted on whom a well-regulated one is bestowed: how few those are, if any, is very apparent. We cannot admit, therefore, that the Gods consulted the good of a few only; the conclusion must be that they consulted the good of none.

XXVIII. You answer that the ill use which a great part of mankind make of reason no more takes away the goodness of the Gods, who bestow it as a present of the greatest benefit to them, than the ill use which children make of their patrimony diminishes the obligation which they have to their parents for it. We grant you this; but where is the similitude? It was far from Deianira’s design to injure Hercules when she made him a present 344of the shirt dipped in the blood of the Centaurs. Nor was it a regard to the welfare of Jason of Pheræ that influenced the man who with his sword opened his imposthume, which the physicians had in vain attempted to cure. For it has often happened that people have served a man whom they intended to injure, and have injured one whom they designed to serve; so that the effect of the gift is by no means always a proof of the intention of the giver; neither does the benefit which may accrue from it prove that it came from the hands of a benefactor. For, in short, what debauchery, what avarice, what crime among men is there which does not owe its birth to thought and reflection, that is, to reason? For all opinion is reason: right reason, if men’s thoughts are conformable to truth; wrong reason, if they are not. The Gods only give us the mere faculty of reason, if we have any; the use or abuse of it depends entirely upon ourselves; so that the comparison is not just between the present of reason given us by the Gods, and a patrimony left to a son by his father; for, after all, if the injury of mankind had been the end proposed by the Gods, what could they have given them more pernicious than reason? for what seed could there be of injustice, intemperance, and cowardice, if reason were not laid as the foundation of these vices?

XXIX. I mentioned just now Medea and Atreus, persons celebrated in heroic poems, who had used this reason only for the contrivance and practice of the most flagitious crimes; but even the trifling characters which appear in comedies supply us with the like instances of this reasoning faculty; for example, does not he, in the Eunuch, reason with some subtlety?—

What, then, must I resolve upon?

She turn’d me out-of-doors; she sends for me back again;

Shall I go? no, not if she were to beg it of me.

Another, in the Twins, making no scruple of opposing a received maxim, after the manner of the Academics, asserts that when a man is in love and in want, it is pleasant

To have a father covetous, crabbed, and passionate,

Who has no love or affection for his children.

345This unaccountable opinion he strengthens thus:

You may defraud him of his profits, or forge letters in his name,

Or fright him by your servant into compliance;

And what you take from such an old hunks,

How much more pleasantly do you spend it!

On the contrary, he says that an easy, generous father is an inconvenience to a son in love; for, says he,

I can’t tell how to abuse so good, so prudent a parent,

Who always foreruns my desires, and meets me purse in hand,

To support me in my pleasures: this easy goodness and generosity

Quite defeat all my frauds, tricks, and stratagems.273

What are these frauds, tricks, and stratagems but the effects of reason? O excellent gift of the Gods! Without this Phormio could not have said,

Find me out the old man: I have something hatching for him in my head.

XXX. But let us pass from the stage to the bar. The prætor274 takes his seat. To judge whom? The man who set fire to our archives. How secretly was that villany conducted! Q. Sosius, an illustrious Roman knight, of the Picene field,275 confessed the fact. Who else is to be tried? He who forged the public registers—Alenus, an artful fellow, who counterfeited the handwriting of the six officers.276 Let us call to mind other trials: that on the subject of the gold of Tolosa, or the conspiracy of Jugurtha. Let us trace back the informations laid against Tubulus for bribery in his judicial office; and, since that, the proceedings of the tribune Peduceus concerning the 346incest of the vestals. Let us reflect upon the trials which daily happen for assassinations, poisonings, embezzlement of public money, frauds in wills, against which we have a new law; then that action against the advisers or assisters of any theft; the many laws concerning frauds in guardianship, breaches of trust in partnerships and commissions in trade, and other violations of faith in buying, selling, borrowing, or lending; the public decree on a private affair by the Lætorian Law;277 and, lastly, that scourge of all dishonesty, the law against fraud, proposed by our friend Aquillius; that sort of fraud, he says, by which one thing is pretended and another done. Can we, then, think that this plentiful fountain of evil sprung from the immortal Gods? If they have given reason to man, they have likewise given him subtlety, for subtlety is only a deceitful manner of applying reason to do mischief. To them likewise we must owe deceit, and every other crime, which, without the help of reason, would neither have been thought of nor committed. As the old woman wished

That to the fir which on Mount Pelion grew

The axe had ne’er been laid,278

so we should wish that the Gods had never bestowed this ability on man, the abuse of which is so general that the small number of those who make a good use of it are often oppressed by those who make a bad use of it; so that it seems to be given rather to help vice than to promote virtue among us.

XXXI. This, you insist on it, is the fault of man, and not of the Gods. But should we not laugh at a physician or pilot, though they are weak mortals, if they were to lay the blame of their ill success on the violence of the disease or the fury of the tempest? Had there not been danger, 347we should say, who would have applied to you? This reasoning has still greater force against the Deity. The fault, you say, is in man, if he commits crimes. But why was not man endued with a reason incapable of producing any crimes? How could the Gods err? When we leave our effects to our children, it is in hopes that they may be well bestowed; in which we may be deceived, but how can the Deity be deceived? As Phœbus when he trusted his chariot to his son Phaëthon, or as Neptune when he indulged his son Theseus in granting him three wishes, the consequence of which was the destruction of Hippolitus? These are poetical fictions; but truth, and not fables, ought to proceed from philosophers. Yet if those poetical Deities had foreseen that their indulgence would have proved fatal to their sons, they must have been thought blamable for it.

Aristo of Chios used often to say that the philosophers do hurt to such of their disciples as take their good doctrine in a wrong sense; thus the lectures of Aristippus might produce debauchees, and those of Zeno pedants. If this be true, it were better that philosophers should be silent than that their disciples should be corrupted by a misapprehension of their master’s meaning; so if reason, which was bestowed on mankind by the Gods with a good design, tends only to make men more subtle and fraudulent, it had been better for them never to have received it. There could be no excuse for a physician who prescribes wine to a patient, knowing that he will drink it and immediately expire. Your Providence is no less blamable in giving reason to man, who, it foresaw, would make a bad use of it. Will you say that it did not foresee it? Nothing could please me more than such an acknowledgment. But you dare not. I know what a sublime idea you entertain of her.

XXXII. But to conclude. If folly, by the unanimous consent of philosophers, is allowed to be the greatest of all evils, and if no one ever attained to true wisdom, we, whom they say the immortal Gods take care of, are consequently in a state of the utmost misery. For that nobody is well, or that nobody can be well, is in effect the same thing; and, in my opinion, that no man is truly wise, or that no 348man can be truly wise, is likewise the same thing. But I will insist no further on so self-evident a point. Telamon in one verse decides the question. If, says he, there is a Divine Providence,

Good men would be happy, bad men miserable.

But it is not so. If the Gods had regarded mankind, they should have made them all virtuous; but if they did not regard the welfare of all mankind, at least they ought to have provided for the happiness of the virtuous. Why, therefore, was the Carthaginian in Spain suffered to destroy those best and bravest men, the two Scipios? Why did Maximus279 lose his son, the consul? Why did Hannibal kill Marcellus? Why did Cannæ deprive us of Paulus? Why was the body of Regulus delivered up to the cruelty of the Carthaginians? Why was not Africanus protected from violence in his own house? To these, and many more ancient instances, let us add some of later date. Why is Rutilius, my uncle, a man of the greatest virtue and learning, now in banishment? Why was my own friend and companion Drusus assassinated in his own house? Why was Scævola, the high-priest, that pattern of moderation and prudence, massacred before the statue of Vesta? Why, before that, were so many illustrious citizens put to death by Cinna? Why had Marius, the most perfidious of men, the power to cause the death of Catulus, a man of the greatest dignity? But there would be no end of enumerating examples of good men made miserable and wicked men prosperous. Why did that Marius live to an old age, and die so happily at his own house in his seventh consulship? Why was that inhuman wretch Cinna permitted to enjoy so long a reign?

XXXIII. He, indeed, met with deserved punishment at last. But would it not have been better that these inhumanities had been prevented than that the author of them should be punished afterward? Varius, a most impious wretch, was tortured and put to death. If this was his punishment for the murdering Drusus by the sword, and Metellus by poison, would it not have been better to have preserved their lives than to have their deaths avenged on 349Varius? Dionysius was thirty-eight years a tyrant over the most opulent and flourishing city; and, before him, how many years did Pisistratus tyrannize in the very flower of Greece! Phalaris and Apollodorus met with the fate they deserved, but not till after they had tortured and put to death multitudes. Many robbers have been executed; but the number of those who have suffered for their crimes is short of those whom they have robbed and murdered. Anaxarchus,280 a scholar of Democritus, was cut to pieces by command of the tyrant of Cyprus; and Zeno of Elea281 ended his life in tortures. What shall I say of Socrates,282 whose death, as often as I read of it in Plato, draws fresh tears from my eyes? If, therefore, the Gods really see everything that happens to men, you must acknowledge they make no distinction between the good and the bad.

XXXIV. Diogenes the Cynic used to say of Harpalus, one of the most fortunate villains of his time, that the constant prosperity of such a man was a kind of witness against the Gods. Dionysius, of whom we have before spoken, after he had pillaged the temple of Proserpine at Locris, set sail for Syracuse, and, having a fair wind during his voyage, said, with a smile, “See, my friends, what favorable winds the immortal Gods bestow upon church-robbers.” Encouraged by this prosperous event, he proceeded in his impiety. When he landed at Peloponnesus, he went into the temple of Jupiter Olympius, and disrobed his statue of a golden mantle of great weight, an ornament which the tyrant Gelo283 had given out of the spoils of the Carthaginians, and at the same time, in a jesting manner, he said “that a golden mantle was too heavy in summer and too cold in winter;” and then, throwing a woollen cloak over the statue, added, “This will serve for all seasons.” At another time, he ordered the golden beard of Æsculapius of Epidaurus to be taken away, saying that “it 350was absurd for the son to have a beard, when his father had none.” He likewise robbed the temples of the silver tables, which, according to the ancient custom of Greece, bore this inscription, “To the good Gods,” saying “he was willing to make use of their goodness;” and, without the least scruple, took away the little golden emblems of victory, the cups and coronets, which were in the stretched-out hands of the statues, saying “he did not take, but receive them; for it would be folly not to accept good things from the Gods, to whom we are constantly praying for favors, when they stretch out their hands towards us.” And, last of all, all the things which he had thus pillaged from the temples were, by his order, brought to the market-place and sold by the common crier; and, after he had received the money for them, he commanded every purchaser to restore what he had bought, within a limited time, to the temples from whence they came. Thus to his impiety towards the Gods he added injustice to man.

XXXV. Yet neither did Olympian Jove strike him with his thunder, nor did Æsculapius cause him to die by tedious diseases and a lingering death. He died in his bed, had funeral honors284 paid to him, and left his power, which he had wickedly obtained, as a just and lawful inheritance to his son.

It is not without concern that I maintain a doctrine which seems to authorize evil, and which might probably give a sanction to it, if conscience, without any divine assistance, did not point out, in the clearest manner, the difference between virtue and vice. Without conscience man is contemptible. For as no family or state can be supposed to be formed with any reason or discipline if there are no rewards for good actions nor punishment for crimes, so we cannot believe that a Divine Providence regulates the world if there is no distinction between the honest and the wicked.

351But the Gods, you say, neglect trifling things: the little fields or vineyards of particular men are not worthy their attention; and if blasts or hail destroy their product, Jupiter does not regard it, nor do kings extend their care to the lower offices of government. This argument might have some weight if, in bringing Rutilius as an instance, I had only complained of the loss of his farm at Formiæ; but I spoke of a personal misfortune, his banishment.285

XXXVI. All men agree that external benefits, such as vineyards, corn, olives, plenty of fruit and grain, and, in short, every convenience and property of life, are derived from the Gods; and, indeed, with reason, since by our virtue we claim applause, and in virtue we justly glory, which we could have no right to do if it was the gift of the Gods, and not a personal merit. When we are honored with new dignities, or blessed with increase of riches; when we are favored by fortune beyond our expectation, or luckily delivered from any approaching evil, we return thanks for it to the Gods, and assume no praise to ourselves. But who ever thanked the Gods that he was a good man? We thank them, indeed, for riches, health, and honor. For these we invoke the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter; but not for wisdom, temperance, and justice. No one ever offered a tenth of his estate to Hercules to be made wise. It is reported, indeed, of Pythagoras that he sacrificed an ox to the Muses upon having made some new discovery in geometry;286 but, for my part, I cannot believe it, because he refused to sacrifice even to Apollo at Delos, lest he should defile the altar with blood. But to return. It is universally agreed that good fortune we must ask of the Gods, but wisdom must arise from ourselves; and though temples have been consecrated to the Mind, to Virtue, and to Faith, yet that does not contradict their being 352inherent in us. In regard to hope, safety, assistance, and victory, we must rely upon the Gods for them; from whence it follows, as Diogenes said, that the prosperity of the wicked destroys the idea of a Divine Providence.

XXXVII. But good men have sometimes success. They have so; but we cannot, with any show of reason, attribute that success to the Gods. Diagoras, who is called the atheist, being at Samothrace, one of his friends showed him several pictures287 of people who had endured very dangerous storms; “See,” says he, “you who deny a providence, how many have been saved by their prayers to the Gods.” “Ay,” says Diagoras, “I see those who were saved, but where are those painted who were shipwrecked?” At another time, he himself was in a storm, when the sailors, being greatly alarmed, told him they justly deserved that misfortune for admitting him into their ship; when he, pointing to others under the like distress, asked them “if they believed Diagoras was also aboard those ships?” In short, with regard to good or bad fortune, it matters not what you are, or how you have lived. The Gods, like kings, regard not everything. What similitude is there between them? If kings neglect anything, want of knowledge may be pleaded in their defence; but ignorance cannot be brought as an excuse for the Gods.

XXXVIII. Your manner of justifying them is somewhat extraordinary, when you say that if a wicked man dies without suffering for his crimes, the Gods inflict a punishment on his children, his children’s children, and all his posterity. O wonderful equity of the Gods! What city would endure the maker of a law which should condemn a son or a grandson for a crime committed by the father or the grandfather?

Shall Tantalus’ unhappy offspring know

No end, no close, of this long scene of woe?

When will the dire reward of guilt be o’er,

And Myrtilus demand revenge no more?288

Whether the poets have corrupted the Stoics, or the Stoics given authority to the poets, I cannot easily determine. Both alike are to be condemned. If those persons 353whose names have been branded in the satires of Hipponax or Archilochus289 were driven to despair, it did not proceed from the Gods, but had its origin in their own minds. When we see Ægistus and Paris lost in the heat of an impure passion, why are we to attribute it to a Deity, when the crime, as it were, speaks for itself? I believe that those who recover from illness are more indebted to the care of Hippocrates than to the power of Æsculapius; that Sparta received her laws from Lycurgus290 rather than from Apollo; that those eyes of the maritime coast, Corinth and Carthage, were plucked out, the one by Critolaus, the other by Hasdrubal, without the assistance of any divine anger, since you yourselves confess that a Deity cannot possibly be angry on any provocation.

XXXIX. But could not the Deity have assisted and preserved those eminent cities? Undoubtedly he could; for, according to your doctrine, his power is infinite, and without the least labor; and as nothing but the will is necessary to the motion of our bodies, so the divine will of the Gods, with the like ease, can create, move, and change all things. This you hold, not from a mere phantom of superstition, but on natural and settled principles of reason; for matter, you say, of which all things are composed and consist, is susceptible of all forms and changes, and there is nothing which cannot be, or cease to be, in an instant; and that Divine Providence has the command and disposal of this universal matter, and consequently can, in any part of the universe, do whatever she pleases: from whence I conclude that this Providence either knows not the extent of her power, or neglects human affairs, or cannot judge what is best for us. Providence, you say, does not extend her care to particular men; there 354is no wonder in that, since she does not extend it to cities, or even to nations, or people. If, therefore, she neglects whole nations, is it not very probable that she neglects all mankind? But how can you assert that the Gods do not enter into all the little circumstances of life, and yet hold that they distribute dreams among men? Since you believe in dreams, it is your part to solve this difficulty. Besides, you say we ought to call upon the Gods. Those who call upon the Gods are individuals. Divine Providence, therefore, regards individuals, which consequently proves that they are more at leisure than you imagine. Let us suppose the Divine Providence to be greatly busied; that it causes the revolutions of the heavens, supports the earth, and rules the seas; why does it suffer so many Gods to be unemployed? Why is not the superintendence of human affairs given to some of those idle Deities which you say are innumerable?

This is the purport of what I had to say concerning “the Nature of the Gods;” not with a design to destroy their existence, but merely to show what an obscure point it is, and with what difficulties an explanation of it is attended.

XL. Balbus, observing that Cotta had finished his discourse—You have been very severe, says he, against a Divine Providence, a doctrine established by the Stoics with piety and wisdom; but, as it grows too late, I shall defer my answer to another day. Our argument is of the greatest importance; it concerns our altars,291 our hearths, our temples, nay, even the walls of our city, which you priests hold sacred; you, who by religion defend Rome better than she is defended by her ramparts. This is a cause which, while I have life, I think I cannot abandon without impiety.

There is nothing, replied Cotta, which I desire more than to be confuted. I have not pretended to decide this point, but to give you my private sentiments upon it; and am very sensible of your great superiority in argument. 355No doubt of it, says Velleius; we have much to fear from one who believes that our dreams are sent from Jupiter, which, though they are of little weight, are yet of more importance than the discourse of the Stoics concerning the nature of the Gods. The conversation ended here, and we parted. Velleius judged that the arguments of Cotta were truest; but those of Balbus seemed to me to have the greater probability.292



This work was one of Cicero’s earlier treatises, though one of those which was most admired by his contemporaries, and one of which he himself was most proud. It was composed 54 b.c. It was originally in two books: then it was altered and enlarged into nine, and finally reduced to six. With the exception of the dream of Scipio, in the last book, the whole treatise was lost till the year 1822, when the librarian of the Vatican discovered a portion of them among the palimpsests in that library. What he discovered is translated here; but it is in a most imperfect and mutilated state.

The form selected was that of a dialogue, in imitation of those of Plato; and the several conferences were supposed to have taken place during the Latin holidays, 129 b.c., in the consulship of Caius Sempronius, Tuditanus, and Marcus Aquilius. The speakers are Scipio Africanus the younger, in whose garden the scene is laid; Caius Lælius; Lucius Furius Philus; Marcus Manilius; Spurius Mummius, the brother of the taker of Corinth, a Stoic; Quintus Ælius Tubero, a nephew of Africanus; Publius Rutilius Rufus; Quintus Mucius Scævola, the tutor of Cicero; and Caius Fannius, who was absent, however, on the second day of the conference.

In the first book, the first thirty-three pages are wanting, and there are chasms amounting to thirty-eight pages more. In this book Scipio asserts the superiority of an active over a speculative career; and after analyzing and comparing the monarchical, aristocratic, and democratic forms of government, gives a preference to the first; although 358his idea of a perfect constitution would be one compounded of three kinds in due proportion.

There are a few chasms in the earlier part of the second book, and the latter part of it is wholly lost. In it Scipio was led on to give an account of the rise and progress of the Roman Constitution, from which he passed on to the examination of the great moral obligations which are the foundations of all political union.

Of the remaining books we have only a few disjointed fragments, with the exception, as has been before mentioned, of the dream of Scipio in the sixth.



Cicero introduces his subject by showing that men were not born for the mere abstract study of philosophy, but that the study of philosophic truth should always be made as practical as possible, and applicable to the great interests of philanthropy and patriotism. Cicero endeavors to show the benefit of mingling the contemplative or philosophic with the political and active life, according to that maxim of Plato—“Happy is the nation whose philosophers are kings, and whose kings are philosophers.”

This kind of introduction was the more necessary because many of the ancient philosophers, too warmly attached to transcendental metaphysics and sequestered speculations, had affirmed that true philosophers ought not to interest themselves in the management of public affairs. Thus, as M. Villemain observes, it was a maxim of the Epicureans, “Sapiens ne accedat ad rempublicam” (Let no wise man meddle in politics). The Pythagoreans had enforced the same principle with more gravity. Aristotle examines the question on both sides, and concludes in favor of active life. Among Aristotle’s disciples, a writer, singularly elegant and pure, had maintained the pre-eminence of the contemplative life over the political or active one, in a work which Cicero cites with admiration, and to which he seems to have applied for relief whenever he felt harassed and discouraged in public business. But here this great man was interested by the subject he discusses, and by the whole course of his experience and conduct, to refute the dogmas of that pusillanimous sophistry and selfish indulgence by bringing forward the most glorious examples and achievements of patriotism. In this strain he had doubtless commenced his exordium, and in this strain we find him continuing it at the point in which the palimpsest becomes legible. He then proceeds to introduce his illustrious interlocutors, and leads them at first to discourse on the astronomical laws that regulate the revolutions of our planet. From this, by a very graceful and beautiful transition, he passes on to the consideration of the best forms of political constitutions that had prevailed in different nations, and those modes of government which had produced the greatest benefits in the commonwealths of antiquity.

This first book is, in fact, a splendid epitome of the political science of the age of Cicero, and probably the most eloquent plea in favor of mixed monarchy to be found in all literature.

360BOOK I.

I. [Without the virtue of patriotism], neither Caius Duilius, nor Aulus Atilius,293 nor Lucius Metellus, could have delivered Rome by their courage from the terror of Carthage; nor could the two Scipios, when the fire of the second Punic War was kindled, have quenched it in their blood; nor, when it revived in greater force, could either Quintus Maximus294 have enervated it, or Marcus Marcellus have crushed it; nor, when it was repulsed from the gates of our own city, would Scipio have confined it within the walls of our enemies.

But Cato, at first a new and unknown man, whom all we who aspire to the same honors consider as a pattern to lead us on to industry and virtue, was undoubtedly at liberty to enjoy his repose at Tusculum, a most salubrious and convenient retreat. But he, mad as some people think him, though no necessity compelled him, preferred being tossed about amidst the tempestuous waves of politics, even till extreme old age, to living with all imaginable luxury in that tranquillity and relaxation. I omit innumerable men who have separately devoted themselves to the protection of our Commonwealth; and those whose lives are within the memory of the present generation I will not mention, lest any one should complain that I had invidiously forgotten himself or some one of his family. This only I insist on—that so great is the necessity of this virtue which nature has implanted in man, and so great is the desire to defend the common safety of our country, that its energy has continually overcome all the blandishments of pleasure and repose.

II. Nor is it sufficient to possess this virtue as if it were some kind of art, unless we put it in practice. An art, indeed, though not exercised, may still be retained in knowledge; but virtue consists wholly in its proper use 361and action. Now, the noblest use of virtue is the government of the Commonwealth, and the carrying-out in real action, not in words only, of all those identical theories which those philosophers discuss at every corner. For nothing is spoken by philosophers, so far as they speak correctly and honorably, which has not been discovered and confirmed by those persons who have been the founders of the laws of states. For whence comes piety, or from whom has religion been derived? Whence comes law, either that of nations, or that which is called the civil law? Whence comes justice, faith, equity? Whence modesty, continence, the horror of baseness, the desire of praise and renown? Whence fortitude in labors and perils? Doubtless, from those who have instilled some of these moral principles into men by education, and confirmed others by custom, and sanctioned others by laws.

Moreover, it is reported of Xenocrates, one of the sublimest philosophers, that when some one asked him what his disciples learned, he replied, “To do that of their own accord which they might be compelled to do by law.” That citizen, therefore, who obliges all men to those virtuous actions, by the authority of laws and penalties, to which the philosophers can scarcely persuade a few by the force of their eloquence, is certainly to be preferred to the sagest of the doctors who spend their lives in such discussions. For which of their exquisite orations is so admirable as to be entitled to be preferred to a well-constituted government, public justice, and good customs? Certainly, just as I think that magnificent and imperious cities (as Ennius says) are superior to castles and villages, so I imagine that those who regulate such cities by their counsel and authority are far preferable, with respect to real wisdom, to men who are unacquainted with any kind of political knowledge. And since we are strongly prompted to augment the prosperity of the human race, and since we do endeavor by our counsels and exertions to render the life of man safer and wealthier, and since we are incited to this blessing by the spur of nature herself, let us hold on that course which has always been pursued by all the best men, and not listen for a moment to the signals of those who sound a retreat so loudly that they 362sometimes call back even those who have made considerable progress.

III. These reasons, so certain and so evident, are opposed by those who, on the other side, argue that the labors which must necessarily be sustained in maintaining the Commonwealth form but a slight impediment to the vigilant and industrious, and are only a contemptible obstacle in such important affairs, and even in common studies, offices, and employments. They add the peril of life, that base fear of death, which has ever been opposed by brave men, to whom it appears far more miserable to die by the decay of nature and old age than to be allowed an opportunity of gallantly sacrificing that life for their country which must otherwise be yielded up to nature.

On this point, however, our antagonists esteem themselves copious and eloquent when they collect all the calamities of heroic men, and the injuries inflicted on them by their ungrateful countrymen. For on this subject they bring forward those notable examples among the Greeks; and tell us that Miltiades, the vanquisher and conqueror of the Persians, before even those wounds were healed which he had received in that most glorious victory, wasted away in the chains of his fellow-citizens that life which had been preserved from the weapons of the enemy. They cite Themistocles, expelled and proscribed by the country which he had rescued, and forced to flee, not to the Grecian ports which he had preserved, but to the bosom of the barbarous power which he had defeated. There is, indeed, no deficiency of examples to illustrate the levity and cruelty of the Athenians to their noblest citizens—examples which, originating and multiplying among them, are said at different times to have abounded in our own most august empire. For we are told: of the exile of Camillus, the disgrace of Ahala, the unpopularity of Nasica, the expulsion of Lænas,295 the condemnation of 363Opimius, the flight of Metellus, the cruel destruction of Caius Marius, the massacre of our chieftains, and the many atrocious crimes which followed. My own history is by no means free from such calamities; and I imagine that when they recollect that by my counsel and perils they were preserved in life and liberty, they are led by that consideration to bewail my misfortunes more deeply and affectionately. But I cannot tell why those who sail over the seas for the sake of knowledge and experience [should wonder at seeing still greater hazards braved in the service of the Commonwealth].

IV. [Since], on my quitting the consulship, I swore in the assembly of the Roman people, who re-echoed my words, that I had saved the Commonwealth, I console myself with this remembrance for all my cares, troubles, and injuries. Although my misfortune had more of honor than misfortune, and more of glory than disaster; and I derive greater pleasure from the regrets of good men than sorrow from the exultation of the worthless. But even if it had happened otherwise, how could I have complained, as nothing befell me which was either unforeseen, or more painful than I expected, as a return for my illustrious actions? For I was one who, though it was in my power to reap more profit from leisure than most men, on account of the diversified sweetness of my studies, in which I had lived from boyhood—or, if any public calamity had happened, to have borne no more than an equal share with the rest of my countrymen in the misfortune—I nevertheless did not hesitate to oppose myself to the most formidable tempests and torrents of sedition, for the sake of saving my countrymen, and at my own proper danger to secure the common safety of all the rest. For our country did not beget and educate us with the expectation of receiving no support, as I may call it, from us; nor for the purpose of consulting nothing but our convenience, to supply us with a secure refuge for idleness and a tranquil spot for rest; but rather with a view of turning to her own advantage the nobler portion of our genius, heart, and counsel; giving us back for our private service only what she can spare from the public interests.

V. Those apologies, therefore, in which men take refuge 364as an excuse for their devoting themselves with more plausibility to mere inactivity do certainly not deserve to be listened to; when, for instance, they tell us that those who meddle with public affairs are generally good-for-nothing men, with whom it is discreditable to be compared, and miserable and dangerous to contend, especially when the multitude is in an excited state. On which account it is not the part of a wise man to take the reins, since he cannot restrain the insane and unregulated movements of the common people. Nor is it becoming to a man of liberal birth, say they, thus to contend with such vile and unrefined antagonists, or to subject one’s self to the lashings of contumely, or to put one’s self in the way of injuries which ought not to be borne by a wise man. As if to a virtuous, brave, and magnanimous man there could be a juster reason for seeking the government than this—to avoid being subjected to worthless men, and to prevent the Commonwealth from being torn to pieces by them; when, even if they were then desirous to save her, they would not have the power.

VI. But this restriction who can approve, which would interdict the wise man from taking any share in the government beyond such as the occasion and necessity may compel him to? As if any greater necessity could possibly happen to any man than happened to me. In which, how could I have acted if I had not been consul at the time? and how could I have been a consul unless I had maintained that course of life from my childhood which raised me from the order of knights, in which I was born, to the very highest station? You cannot produce extempore, and just when you please, the power of assisting a commonwealth, although it may be severely pressed by dangers, unless you have attained the position which enables you legally to do so. And what most surprises me in the discourses of learned men, is to hear those persons who confess themselves incapable of steering the vessel of the State in smooth seas (which, indeed, they never learned, and never cared to know) profess themselves ready to assume the helm amidst the fiercest tempests. For those men are accustomed to say openly, and indeed to boast greatly, that they have never learned, and have never taken 365the least pains to explain, the principles of either establishing or maintaining a commonwealth; and they look on this practical science as one which belongs not to men of learning and wisdom, but to those who have made it their especial study. How, then, can it be reasonable for such men to promise their assistance to the State, when they shall be compelled to it by necessity, while they are ignorant how to govern the republic when no necessity presses upon it, which is a much more easy task? Indeed, though it were true that the wise man loves not to thrust himself of his own accord into the administration of public affairs, but that if circumstances oblige him to it, then he does not refuse the office, yet I think that this science of civil legislation should in no wise be neglected by the philosopher, because all resources ought to be ready to his hand, which he knows not how soon he may be called on to use.

VII. I have spoken thus at large for this reason, because in this work I have proposed to myself and undertaken a discussion on the government of a state; and in order to render it useful, I was bound, in the first place, to do away with this pusillanimous hesitation to mingle in public affairs. If there be any, therefore, who are too much influenced by the authority of the philosophers, let them consider the subject for a moment, and be guided by the opinions of those men whose authority and credit are greatest among learned men; whom I look upon, though some of them have not personally governed any state, as men who have nevertheless discharged a kind of office in the republic, inasmuch as they have made many investigations into, and left many writings concerning, state affairs. As to those whom the Greeks entitle the Seven Wise Men, I find that they almost all lived in the middle of public business. Nor, indeed, is there anything in which human virtue can more closely resemble the divine powers than in establishing new states, or in preserving those already established.

VIII. And concerning these affairs, since it has been our good fortune to achieve something worthy of memorial in the government of our country, and also to have acquired some facility of explaining the powers and resources of politics, we can treat of this subject with the weight of 366personal experience and the habit of instruction and illustration. Whereas before us many have been skilful in theory, though no exploits of theirs are recorded; and many others have been men of consideration in action, but unfamiliar with the arts of exposition. Nor, indeed, is it at all our intention to establish a new and self-invented system of government; but our purpose is rather to recall to memory a discussion of the most illustrious men of their age in our Commonwealth, which you and I, in our youth, when at Smyrna, heard mentioned by Publius Rutilius Rufus, who reported to us a conference of many days in which, in my opinion, there was nothing omitted that could throw light on political affairs.

IX. For when, in the year of the consulship of Tuditanus and Aquilius, Scipio Africanus, the son of Paulus Æmilius, formed the project of spending the Latin holidays at his country-seat, where his most intimate friends had promised him frequent visits during this season of relaxation, on the first morning of the festival, his nephew, Quintus Tubero, made his appearance; and when Scipio had greeted him heartily and embraced him—How is it, my dear Tubero, said he, that I see you so early? For these holidays must afford you a capital opportunity of pursuing your favorite studies. Ah! replied Tubero, I can study my books at any time, for they are always disengaged; but it is a great privilege, my Scipio, to find you at leisure, especially in this restless period of public affairs. You certainly have found me so, said Scipio, but, to speak truth, I am rather relaxing from business than from study. Nay, said Tubero, you must try to relax from your studies too, for here are several of us, as we have appointed, all ready, if it suits your convenience, to aid you in getting through this leisure time of yours. I am very willing to consent, answered Scipio, and we may be able to compare notes respecting the several topics that interest us.

X. Be it so, said Tubero; and since you invite me to discussion, and present the opportunity, let us first examine, before any one else arrives, what can be the nature of the parhelion, or double sun, which was mentioned in the senate. Those that affirm they witnessed this prodigy 367are neither few nor unworthy of credit, so that there is more reason for investigation than incredulity.296

Ah! said Scipio, I wish we had our friend Panætius with us, who is fond of investigating all things of this kind, but especially all celestial phenomena. As for my opinion, Tubero, for I always tell you just what I think, I hardly agree in these subjects with that friend of mine, since, respecting things of which we can scarcely form a conjecture as to their character, he is as positive as if he had seen them with his own eyes and felt them with his own hands. And I cannot but the more admire the wisdom of Socrates, who discarded all anxiety respecting things of this kind, and affirmed that these inquiries concerning the secrets of nature were either above the efforts of human reason, or were absolutely of no consequence at all to human life.

But, then, my Africanus, replied Tubero, of what credit is the tradition which states that Socrates rejected all these physical investigations, and confined his whole attention to men and manners? For, with respect to him what better authority can we cite than Plato? in many passages of whose works Socrates speaks in such a manner that even when he is discussing morals, and virtues, and even public affairs and politics, he endeavors to interweave, after the fashion of Pythagoras, the doctrines of arithmetic, geometry, and harmonic proportions with them.

That is true, replied Scipio; but you are aware, I believe, that Plato, after the death of Socrates, was induced to visit Egypt by his love of science, and that after that he proceeded to Italy and Sicily, from his desire of understanding the Pythagorean dogmas; that he conversed much with Archytas of Tarentum and Timæus of Locris; 368that he collected the works of Philolaus; and that, finding in these places the renown of Pythagoras flourishing, he addicted himself exceedingly to the disciples of Pythagoras, and their studies; therefore, as he loved Socrates with his whole heart, and wished to attribute all great discoveries to him, he interwove the Socratic elegance and subtlety of eloquence with somewhat of the obscurity of Pythagoras, and with that notorious gravity of his diversified arts.

XI. When Scipio had spoken thus, he suddenly saw Lucius Furius approaching, and saluting him, and embracing him most affectionately, he gave him a seat on his own couch. And as soon as Publius Rutilius, the worthy reporter of the conference to us, had arrived, when we had saluted him, he placed him by the side of Tubero. Then said Furius, What is it that you are about? Has our entrance at all interrupted any conversation of yours? By no means, said Scipio, for you yourself too are in the habit of investigating carefully the subject which Tubero was a little before proposing to examine; and our friend Rutilius, even under the walls of Numantia, was in the habit at times of conversing with me on questions of the same kind. What, then, was the subject of your discussion? said Philus. We were talking, said Scipio, of the double suns that recently appeared, and I wish, Philus, to hear what you think of them.

XII. Just as he was speaking, a boy announced that Lælius was coming to call on him, and that he had already left his house. Then Scipio, putting on his sandals and robes, immediately went forth from his chamber, and when he had walked a little time in the portico, he met Lælius, and welcomed him and those that accompanied him, namely, Spurius Mummius, to whom he was greatly attached, and C. Fannius and Quintus Scævola, sons-in-law of Lælius, two very intelligent young men, and now of the quæstorian age.297

When he had saluted them all, he returned through the portico, placing Lælius in the middle; for there was in their friendship a sort of law of reciprocal courtesy, so 369that in the camp Lælius paid Scipio almost divine honors, on account of his eminent renown in war and in private life; in his turn Scipio reverenced Lælius, even as a father, because he was older than himself.

Then after they had exchanged a few words, as they walked up and down, Scipio, to whom their visit was extremely welcome and agreeable, wished to assemble them in a sunny corner of the gardens, because it was still winter; and when they had agreed to this, there came in another friend, a learned man, much beloved and esteemed by all of them, M. Manilius, who, after having been most warmly welcomed by Scipio and the rest, seated himself next to Lælius.

XIII. Then Philus, commencing the conversation, said: It does not appear to me that the presence of our new guests need alter the subject of our discussion, but only that it should induce us to treat it more philosophically, and in a manner more worthy of our increased audience. What do you allude to? said Lælius; or what was the discussion we broke in upon? Scipio was asking me, replied Philus, what I thought of the parhelion, or mock sun, whose recent apparition was so strongly attested.

Lælius. Do you say then, my Philus, that we have sufficiently examined those questions which concern our own houses and the Commonwealth, that we begin to investigate the celestial mysteries?

And Philus replied: Do you think, then, that it does not concern our houses to know what happens in that vast home which is not included in walls of human fabrication, but which embraces the entire universe—a home which the Gods share with us, as the common country of all intelligent beings? Especially when, if we are ignorant of these things, there are also many great practical truths which result from them, and which bear directly on the welfare of our race, of which we must be also ignorant. And here I can speak for myself, as well as for you, Lælius, and all men who are ambitious of wisdom, that the knowledge and consideration of the facts of nature are by themselves very delightful.

Lælius. I have no objection to the discussion, especially as it is holiday-time with us. But cannot we have the 370pleasure of hearing you resume it, or are we come too late?

Philus. We have not yet commenced the discussion, and since the question remains entire and unbroken, I shall have the greatest pleasure, my Lælius, in handing over the argument to you.

Lælius. No, I had much rather hear you, unless, indeed, Manilius thinks himself able to compromise the suit between the two suns, that they may possess heaven as joint sovereigns without intruding on each other’s empire.

Then Manilius said: Are you going, Lælius, to ridicule a science in which, in the first place, I myself excel; and, secondly, without which no one can distinguish what is his own, and what is another’s? But to return to the point. Let us now at present listen to Philus, who seems to me to have started a greater question than any of those that have engaged the attention of either Publius Mucius or myself.

XIV. Then Philus said: I am not about to bring you anything new, or anything which has been thought over or discovered by me myself. But I recollect that Caius Sulpicius Gallus, who was a man of profound learning, as you are aware, when this same thing was reported to have taken place in his time, while he was staying in the house of Marcus Marcellus, who had been his colleague in the consulship, asked to see a celestial globe which Marcellus’s grandfather had saved after the capture of Syracuse from that magnificent and opulent city, without bringing to his own home any other memorial out of so great a booty; which I had often heard mentioned on account of the great fame of Archimedes; but its appearance, however, did not seem to me particularly striking. For that other is more elegant in form, and more generally known, which was made by the same Archimedes, and deposited by the same Marcellus in the Temple of Virtue at Rome. But as soon as Gallus had begun to explain, in a most scientific manner, the principle of this machine, I felt that the Sicilian geometrician must have possessed a genius superior to anything we usually conceive to belong to our nature. For Gallus assured us that that other solid and compact globe was a very ancient invention, and that the first 371model had been originally made by Thales of Miletus. That afterward Eudoxus of Cnidus, a disciple of Plato, had traced on its surface the stars that appear in the sky, and that many years subsequently, borrowing from Eudoxus this beautiful design and representation, Aratus had illustrated it in his verses, not by any science of astronomy, but by the ornament of poetic description. He added that the figure of the globe, which displayed the motions of the sun and moon, and the five planets, or wandering stars, could not be represented by the primitive solid globe; and that in this the invention of Archimedes was admirable, because he had calculated how a single revolution should maintain unequal and diversified progressions in dissimilar motions. In fact, when Gallus moved this globe, we observed that the moon succeeded the sun by as many turns of the wheel in the machine as days in the heavens. From whence it resulted that the progress of the sun was marked as in the heavens, and that the moon touched the point where she is obscured by the earth’s shadow at the instant the sun appears opposite.298 * * *

XV. * * *299 I had myself a great affection for this Gallus, and I know that he was very much beloved and esteemed by my father Paulus. I recollect that when I was very young, when my father, as consul, commanded in Macedonia, and we were in the camp, our army was seized with a pious terror, because suddenly, in a clear night, the bright and full moon became eclipsed. And Gallus, who was then our lieutenant, the year before that in which he was elected consul, hesitated not, next morning, to state in the camp that it was no prodigy, and that the phenomenon which had then appeared would always appear at certain periods, when the sun was so placed that he could not affect the moon with his light.

372But do you mean, said Tubero, that he dared to speak thus to men almost entirely uneducated and ignorant?

Scipio. He did, and with great * * * for his opinion was no result of insolent ostentation, nor was his language unbecoming the dignity of so wise a man: indeed, he performed a very noble action in thus freeing his countrymen from the terrors of an idle superstition.

XVI. And they relate that in a similar way, in the great war in which the Athenians and Lacedæmonians contended with such violent resentment, the famous Pericles, the first man of his country in credit, eloquence, and political genius, observing the Athenians overwhelmed with an excessive alarm during an eclipse of the sun which caused a sudden darkness, told them, what he had learned in the school of Anaxagoras, that these phenomena necessarily happened at precise and regular periods when the body of the moon was interposed between the sun and the earth, and that if they happened not before every new moon, still they could not possibly happen except at the exact time of the new moon. And when he had proved this truth by his reasonings, he freed the people from their alarms; for at that period the doctrine was new and unfamiliar that the sun was accustomed to be eclipsed by the interposition of the moon, which fact they say that Thales of Miletus was the first to discover. Afterward my friend Ennius appears to have been acquainted with the same theory, who, writing about 350300 years after the foundation of Rome, says, “In the nones of June the sun was covered by the moon and night.” The calculations in the astronomical art have attained such perfection that from that day, thus described to us by Ennius and recorded in the pontifical registers, the anterior eclipses of the sun have been computed as far back as the nones of July in the reign of Romulus, when that eclipse took place, in the obscurity of which it was affirmed that Virtue bore Romulus to heaven, in spite of the perishable nature which carried him off by the common fate of humanity.

373XVII. Then said Tubero: Do not you think, Scipio, that this astronomical science, which every day proves so useful, just now appeared in a different light to you,301 * * * which the rest may see. Moreover, who can think anything in human affairs of brilliant importance who has penetrated this starry empire of the gods? Or who can think anything connected with mankind long who has learned to estimate the nature of eternity? or glorious who is aware of the insignificance of the size of the earth, even in its whole extent, and especially in the portion which men inhabit? And when we consider that almost imperceptible point which we ourselves occupy unknown to the majority of nations, can we still hope that our name and reputation can be widely circulated? And then our estates and edifices, our cattle, and the enormous treasures of our gold and silver, can they be esteemed or denominated as desirable goods by him who observes their perishable profit, and their contemptible use, and their uncertain domination, often falling into the possession of the very worst men? How happy, then, ought we to esteem that man who alone has it in his power, not by the law of the Romans, but by the privilege of philosophers, to enjoy all things as his own; not by any civil bond, but by the common right of nature, which denies that anything can really be possessed by any one but him who understands its true nature and use; who reckons our dictatorships and consulships rather in the rank of necessary offices than desirable employments, and thinks they must be endured rather as acquittances of our debt to our country than sought for the sake of emolument or glory—the man, in short, who can apply to himself the sentence which Cato tells us my ancestor Africanus loved to repeat, “that he was never so busy as when he did nothing, and never less solitary than when alone.”

For who can believe that Dionysius, when after every possible effort he ravished from his fellow-citizens their liberty, had performed a nobler work than Archimedes, when, without appearing to be doing anything, he manufactured the globe which we have just been describing? 374Who does not see that those men are in reality more solitary who, in the midst of a crowd, find no one with whom they can converse congenially than those who, without witnesses, hold communion with themselves, and enter into the secret counsels of the sagest philosophers, while they delight themselves in their writings and discoveries? And who would think any one richer than the man who is in want of nothing which nature requires; or more powerful than he who has attained all that she has need of; or happier than he who is free from all mental perturbation; or more secure in future than he who carries all his property in himself, which is thus secured from shipwreck? And what power, what magistracy, what royalty, can be preferred to a wisdom which, looking down on all terrestrial objects as low and transitory things, incessantly directs its attention to eternal and immutable verities, and which is persuaded that though others are called men, none are really so but those who are refined by the appropriate acts of humanity?

In this sense an expression of Plato or some other philosopher appears to me exceedingly elegant, who, when a tempest had driven his ship on an unknown country and a desolate shore, during the alarms with which their ignorance of the region inspired his companions, observed, they say, geometrical figures traced in the sand, on which he immediately told them to be of good cheer, for he had observed the indications of Man. A conjecture he deduced, not from the cultivation of the soil which he beheld, but from the symbols of science. For this reason, Tubero, learning and learned men, and these your favorite studies, have always particularly pleased me.

XVIII. Then Lælius replied: I cannot venture, Scipio, to answer your arguments, or to [maintain the discussion either against] you, Philus, or Manilius.302 * * *

We had a friend in Tubero’s father’s family, who in these respects may serve him as a model.

Sextus so wise, and ever on his guard.

Wise and cautious indeed he was, as Ennius justly describes him—not because he searched for what he could 375never find, but because he knew how to answer those who prayed for deliverance from cares and difficulties. It is he who, reasoning against the astronomical studies of Gallus, used frequently to repeat these words of Achilles in the Iphigenia303:

They note the astrologic signs of heaven,

Whene’er the goats or scorpions of great Jove,

Or other monstrous names of brutal forms,

Rise in the zodiac; but not one regards

The sensible facts of earth, on which we tread,

While gazing on the starry prodigies.

He used, however, to say (and I have often listened to him with pleasure) that for his part he thought that Zethus, in the piece of Pacuvius, was too inimical to learning. He much preferred the Neoptolemus of Ennius, who professes himself desirous of philosophizing only in moderation; for that he did not think it right to be wholly devoted to it. But though the studies of the Greeks have so many charms for you, there are others, perhaps, nobler and more extensive, which we may be better able to apply to the service of real life, and even to political affairs. As to these abstract sciences, their utility, if they possess any, lies principally in exciting and stimulating the abilities of youth, so that they more easily acquire more important accomplishments.

XIX. Then Tubero said: I do not mean to disagree with you, Lælius; but, pray, what do you call more important studies?

Lælius. I will tell you frankly, though perhaps you will think lightly of my opinion, since you appeared so eager in interrogating Scipio respecting the celestial phenomena; but I happen to think that those things which are every day before our eyes are more particularly deserving of our attention. Why should the child of Paulus Æmilius, the nephew of Æmilius, the descendant of such a noble family and so glorious a republic, inquire how there can be two suns in heaven, and not ask how there can be two senates in one Commonwealth, and, as it were, two distinct peoples? 376For, as you see, the death of Tiberius Gracchus, and the whole system of his tribuneship, has divided one people into two parties. But the slanderers and the enemies of Scipio, encouraged by P. Crassus and Appius Claudius, maintained, after the death of these two chiefs, a division of nearly half the senate, under the influence of Metellus and Mucius. Nor would they permit the man304 who alone could have been of service to help us out of our difficulties during the movement of the Latins and their allies towards rebellion, violating all our treaties in the presence of factious triumvirs, and creating every day some fresh intrigue, to the disturbance of the worthier and wealthier citizens. This is the reason, young men, if you will listen to me, why you should regard this new sun with less alarm; for, whether it does exist, or whether it does not exist, it is, as you see, quite harmless to us. As to the manner of its existence, we can know little or nothing; and even if we obtained the most perfect understanding of it, this knowledge would make us but little wiser or happier. But that there should exist a united people and a united senate is a thing which actually may be brought about, and it will be a great evil if it is not; and that it does not exist at present we are aware; and we see that if it can be effected, our lives will be both better and happier.

XX. Then Mucius said: What, then, do you consider, my Lælius, should be our best arguments in endeavoring to bring about the object of your wishes?

Lælius. Those sciences and arts which teach us how we may be most useful to the State; for I consider that the most glorious office of wisdom, and the noblest proof and business of virtue. In order, therefore, that we may consecrate these holidays as much as possible to conversations which may be profitable to the Commonwealth, let us beg Scipio to explain to us what in his estimation appears to be the best form of government. Then let us pass on to other points, the knowledge of which may lead us, as I hope, to sound political views, and unfold the causes of the dangers which now threaten us.

XXI. When Philus, Manilius, and Mummius had all expressed 377their great approbation of this idea305 * * * I have ventured [to open our discussion] in this way, not only because it is but just that on State politics the chief man in the State should be the principal speaker, but also because I recollect that you, Scipio, were formerly very much in the habit of conversing with Panætius and Polybius, two Greeks, exceedingly learned in political questions, and that you are master of many arguments by which you prove that by far the best condition of government is that which our ancestors have handed down to us. And as you, therefore, are familiar with this subject, if you will explain to us your views respecting the general principles of a state (I speak for my friends as well as myself), we shall feel exceedingly obliged to you.

XXII. Then Scipio said: I must acknowledge that there is no subject of meditation to which my mind naturally turns with more ardor and intensity than this very one which Lælius has proposed to us. And, indeed, as I see that in every profession, every artist who would distinguish himself, thinks of, and aims at, and labors for no other object but that of attaining perfection in his art, should not I, whose main business, according to the example of my father and my ancestors, is the advancement and right administration of government, be confessing myself more indolent than any common mechanic if I were to bestow on this noblest of sciences less attention and labor than they devote to their insignificant trades? However, I am neither entirely satisfied with the decisions which the greatest and wisest men of Greece have left us; nor, on the other hand, do I venture to prefer my own opinions to theirs. Therefore, I must request you not to consider me either entirely ignorant of the Grecian literature, nor yet disposed, especially in political questions, to yield it the pre-eminence over our own; but rather to regard me as a true-born Roman, not illiberally instructed by the care of my father, and inflamed with the desire of knowledge, even from my boyhood, but still even more familiar with domestic precepts and practices than the literature of books.

XXIII. On this Philus said: I have no doubt, my Scipio, that no one is superior to you in natural genius, 378and that you are very far superior to every one in the practical experience of national government and of important business. We are also acquainted with the course which your studies have at all times taken; and if, as you say, you have given so much attention to this science and art of politics, we cannot be too much obliged to Lælius for introducing the subject: for I trust that what we shall hear from you will be far more useful and available than all the writings put together which the Greeks have written for us.

Then Scipio replied: You are raising a very high expectation of my discourse, such as is a most oppressive burden to a man who is required to discuss grave subjects.

And Philus said: Although that may be a difficulty, my Scipio, still you will be sure to conquer it, as you always do; nor is there any danger of eloquence failing you, when you begin to speak on the affairs of a commonwealth.

XXIV. Then Scipio proceeded: I will do what you wish, as far as I can; and I shall enter into the discussion under favor of that rule which, I think, should be adopted by all persons in disputations of this kind, if they wish to avoid being misunderstood; namely, that when men have agreed respecting the proper name of the matter under discussion, it should be stated what that name exactly means, and what it legitimately includes. And when that point is settled, then it is fit to enter on the discussion; for it will never be possible to arrive at an understanding of what the character of the subject of the discussion is, unless one first understands exactly what it is. Since, then, our investigations relate to a commonwealth, we must first examine what this name properly signifies.

And when Lælius had intimated his approbation of this course, Scipio continued:

I shall not adopt, said he, in so clear and simple a manner that system of discussion which goes back to first principles; as learned men often do in this sort of discussion, so as to go back to the first meeting of male and female, and then to the first birth and formation of the first family, and define over and over again what there is in words, and in how many manners each thing is stated. 379For, as I am speaking to men of prudence, who have acted with the greatest glory in the Commonwealth, both in peace and war, I will take care not to allow the subject of the discussion itself to be clearer than my explanation of it. Nor have I undertaken this task with the design of examining all its minuter points, like a school-master; nor will I promise you in the following discourse not to omit any single particular.

Then Lælius said: For my part, I am impatient for exactly that kind of disquisition which you promise us.

XXV. Well, then, said Africanus, a commonwealth is a constitution of the entire people. But the people is not every association of men, however congregated, but the association of the entire number, bound together by the compact of justice, and the communication of utility. The first cause of this association is not so much the weakness of man as a certain spirit of congregation which naturally belongs to him. For the human race is not a race of isolated individuals, wandering and solitary; but it is so constituted that even in the affluence of all things [and without any need of reciprocal assistance, it spontaneously seeks society].

XXVI. [It is necessary to presuppose] these original seeds, as it were, since we cannot discover any primary establishment of the other virtues, or even of a commonwealth itself. These unions, then, formed by the principle which I have mentioned, established their headquarters originally in certain central positions, for the convenience of the whole population; and having fortified them by natural and artificial means, they called this collection of houses a city or town, distinguished by temples and public squares. Every people, therefore, which consists of such an association of the entire multitude as I have described, every city which consists of an assemblage of the people, and every commonwealth which embraces every member of these associations, must be regulated by a certain authority, in order to be permanent.

This intelligent authority should always refer itself to that grand first principle which established the Commonwealth. It must be deposited in the hands of one supreme person, or intrusted to the administration of certain delegated 380rulers, or undertaken by the whole multitude. When the direction of all depends on one person, we call this individual a king, and this form of political constitution a kingdom. When it is in the power of privileged delegates, the State is said to be ruled by an aristocracy; and when the people are all in all, they call it a democracy, or popular constitution. And if the tie of social affection, which originally united men in political associations for the sake of public interest, maintains its force, each of these forms of government is, I will not say perfect, nor, in my opinion, essentially good, but tolerable, and such that one may accidentally be better than another: either a just and wise king, or a selection of the most eminent citizens, or even the populace itself (though this is the least commendable form), may, if there be no interference of crime and cupidity, form a constitution sufficiently secure.

XXVII. But in a monarchy the other members of the State are often too much deprived of public counsel and jurisdiction; and under the rule of an aristocracy the multitude can hardly possess its due share of liberty, since it is allowed no share in the public deliberation, and no power. And when all things are carried by a democracy, although it be just and moderate, yet its very equality is a culpable levelling, inasmuch as it allows no gradations of rank. Therefore, even if Cyrus, the King of the Persians, was a most righteous and wise monarch, I should still think that the interest of the people (for this is, as I have said before, the same as the Commonwealth) could not be very effectually promoted when all things depended on the beck and nod of one individual. And though at present the people of Marseilles, our clients, are governed with the greatest justice by elected magistrates of the highest rank, still there is always in this condition of the people a certain appearance of servitude; and when the Athenians, at a certain period, having demolished their Areopagus, conducted all public affairs by the acts and decrees of the democracy alone, their State, as it no longer contained a distinct gradation of ranks, was no longer able to retain its original fair appearance.

XXVIII. I have reasoned thus on the three forms of government, not looking on them in their disorganized 381and confused conditions, but in their proper and regular administration. These three particular forms, however, contained in themselves, from the first, the faults and defects I have mentioned; but they have also other dangerous vices, for there is not one of these three forms of government which has not a precipitous and slippery passage down to some proximate abuse. For, after thinking of that endurable, or, as you will have it, most amiable king, Cyrus—to name him in preference to any one else—then, to produce a change in our minds, we behold the barbarous Phalaris, that model of tyranny, to which the monarchical authority is easily abused by a facile and natural inclination. And, in like manner, along-side of the wise aristocracy of Marseilles, we might exhibit the oligarchical faction of the thirty tyrants which once existed at Athens. And, not to seek for other instances, among the same Athenians, we can show you that when unlimited power was cast into the hands of the people, it inflamed the fury of the multitude, and aggravated that universal license which ruined their State.306 * * *

XXIX. The worst condition of things sometimes results from a confusion of those factious tyrannies into which kings, aristocrats, and democrats are apt to degenerate. For thus, from these diverse elements, there occasionally arises (as I have said before) a new kind of government. And wonderful indeed are the revolutions and periodical returns in natural constitutions of such alternations and vicissitudes, which it is the part of the wise politician to investigate with the closest attention. But to calculate their approach, and to join to this foresight the skill which moderates the course of events, and retains in a steady hand the reins of that authority which safely conducts the people through all the dangers to which they expose themselves, is the work of a most illustrious citizen, and of almost divine genius.

There is a fourth kind of government, therefore, which, in my opinion, is preferable to all these: it is that mixed and moderate government which is composed of the three particular forms which I have already noticed.

XXX. Lælius. I am not ignorant, Scipio, that such is 382your opinion, for I have often heard you say so. But I do not the less desire, if it is not giving you too much trouble, to hear which you consider the best of these three forms of commonwealths. For it may be of some use in considering307 * * *

XXXI. * * * And each commonwealth corresponds to the nature and will of him who governs it. Therefore, in no other constitution than that in which the people exercise sovereign power has liberty any sure abode, than which there certainly is no more desirable blessing. And if it be not equally established for every one, it is not even liberty at all. And how can there be this character of equality, I do not say under a monarchy, where slavery is least disguised or doubtful, but even in those constitutions in which the people are free indeed in words, for they give their suffrages, they elect officers, they are canvassed and solicited for magistracies; but yet they only grant those things which they are obliged to grant whether they will or not, and which are not really in their free power, though others ask them for them? For they are not themselves admitted to the government, to the exercise of public authority, or to offices of select judges, which are permitted to those only of ancient families and large fortunes. But in a free people, as among the Rhodians and Athenians, there is no citizen who308 * * *

XXXII. * * * No sooner is one man, or several, elevated by wealth and power, than they say that * * * arise from their pride and arrogance, when the idle and the timid give way, and bow down to the insolence of riches. But if the people knew how to maintain its rights, then they say that nothing could be more glorious and prosperous than democracy; inasmuch as they themselves would be the sovereign dispensers of laws, judgments, war, peace, public treaties, and, finally, of the fortune and life of each individual citizen; and this condition of things is the only one which, in their opinion, can be really called a commonwealth, that is to say, a constitution of the people. It is on this principle that, according to them, a people often vindicates its liberty from the domination of kings and 383nobles; while, on the other hand, kings are not sought for among free peoples, nor are the power and wealth of aristocracies. They deny, moreover, that it is fair to reject this general constitution of freemen, on account of the vices of the unbridled populace; but that if the people be united and inclined, and directs all its efforts to the safety and freedom of the community, nothing can be stronger or more unchangeable; and they assert that this necessary union is easily obtained in a republic so constituted that the good of all classes is the same; while the conflicting interests that prevail in other constitutions inevitably produce dissensions; therefore, say they, when the senate had the ascendency, the republic had no stability; and when kings possess the power, this blessing is still more rare, since, as Ennius expresses it,

In kingdoms there’s no faith, and little love.

Wherefore, since the law is the bond of civil society, and the justice of the law equal, by what rule can the association of citizens be held together, if the condition of the citizens be not equal? For if the fortunes of men cannot be reduced to this equality—if genius cannot be equally the property of all—rights, at least, should be equal among those who are citizens of the same republic. For what is a republic but an association of rights?309 * * *

XXXIII. But as to the other political constitutions, these democratical advocates do not think they are worthy of being distinguished by the name which they claim. For why, say they, should we apply the name of king, the title of Jupiter the Beneficent, and not rather the title of tyrant, to a man ambitious of sole authority and power, lording it over a degraded multitude? For a tyrant may be as merciful as a king may be oppressive; so that the whole difference to the people is, whether they serve an indulgent master or a cruel one, since serve some one they must. But how could Sparta, at the period of the boasted superiority of her political institution, obtain a constant enjoyment of just and virtuous kings, when they necessarily received an hereditary monarch, good, bad, or indifferent, because he happened to be of the blood royal? As to 384aristocrats, Who will endure, say they, that men should distinguish themselves by such a title, and that not by the voice of the people, but by their own votes? For how is such a one judged to be best either in learning, sciences, or arts?310 * * *

XXXIV. * * * If it does so by hap-hazard, it will be as easily upset as a vessel if the pilot were chosen by lot from among the passengers. But if a people, being free, chooses those to whom it can trust itself—and, if it desires its own preservation, it will always choose the noblest—then certainly it is in the counsels of the aristocracy that the safety of the State consists, especially as nature has not only appointed that these superior men should excel the inferior sort in high virtue and courage, but has inspired the people also with the desire of obedience towards these, their natural lords. But they say this aristocratical State is destroyed by the depraved opinions of men, who, through ignorance of virtue (which, as it belongs to few, can be discerned and appreciated by few), imagine that not only rich and powerful men, but also those who are nobly born, are necessarily the best. And so when, through this popular error, the riches, and not the virtue, of a few men has taken possession of the State, these chiefs obstinately retain the title of nobles, though they want the essence of nobility. For riches, fame, and power, without wisdom and a just method of regulating ourselves and commanding others, are full of discredit and insolent arrogance; nor is there any kind of government more deformed than that in which the wealthiest are regarded as the noblest.

But when virtue governs the Commonwealth, what can be more glorious? When he who commands the rest is himself enslaved by no lust or passion; when he himself exhibits all the virtues to which he incites and educates the citizens; when he imposes no law on the people which he does not himself observe, but presents his life as a living law to his fellow-countrymen; if a single individual could thus suffice for all, there would be no need of more; and if the community could find a chief ruler thus worthy of all their suffrages, none would require elected magistrates.

385It was the difficulty of forming plans which transferred the government from a king into the hands of many; and the error and temerity of the people likewise transferred it from the hands of the many into those of the few. Thus, between the weakness of the monarch and the rashness of the multitude, the aristocrats have occupied the middle place, than which nothing can be better arranged; and while they superintend the public interest, the people necessarily enjoy the greatest possible prosperity, being free from all care and anxiety, having intrusted their security to others, who ought sedulously to defend it, and not allow the people to suspect that their advantage is neglected by their rulers.

For as to that equality of rights which democracies so loudly boast of, it can never be maintained; for the people themselves, so dissolute and so unbridled, are always inclined to flatter a number of demagogues; and there is in them a very great partiality for certain men and dignities, so that their equality, so called, becomes most unfair and iniquitous. For as equal honor is given to the most noble and the most infamous, some of whom must exist in every State, then the equity which they eulogize becomes most inequitable—an evil which never can happen in those states which are governed by aristocracies. These reasonings, my Lælius, and some others of the same kind, are usually brought forward by those that so highly extol this form of political constitution.

XXXV. Then Lælius said: But you have not told us, Scipio, which of these three forms of government you yourself most approve.

Scipio. You are right to shape your question, which of the three I most approve, for there is not one of them which I approve at all by itself, since, as I told you, I prefer that government which is mixed and composed of all these forms, to any one of them taken separately. But if I must confine myself to one of these particular forms simply and exclusively, I must confess I prefer the royal one, and praise that as the first and best. In this, which I here choose to call the primitive form of government, I find the title of father attached to that of king, to express that he watches over the citizens as over his children, and endeavors 386rather to preserve them in freedom than reduce them to slavery. So that it is more advantageous for those who are insignificant in property and capacity to be supported by the care of one excellent and eminently powerful man. The nobles here present themselves, who profess that they can do all this in much better style; for they say that there is much more wisdom in many than in one, and at least as much faith and equity. And, last of all, come the people, who cry with a loud voice that they will render obedience neither to the one nor the few; that even to brute beasts nothing is so dear as liberty; and that all men who serve either kings or nobles are deprived of it. Thus, the kings attract us by affection, the nobles by talent, the people by liberty; and in the comparison it is hard to choose the best.

Lælius. I think so too, but yet it is impossible to despatch the other branches of the question, if you leave this primary point undetermined.

XXXVI. Scipio. We must then, I suppose, imitate Aratus, who, when he prepared himself to treat of great things, thought himself in duty bound to begin with Jupiter.

Lælius. Wherefore Jupiter? and what is there in this discussion which resembles that poem?

Scipio. Why, it serves to teach us that we cannot better commence our investigations than by invoking him whom, with one voice, both learned and unlearned extol as the universal king of all gods and men.

How so? said Lælius.

Do you, then, asked Scipio, believe in nothing which is not before your eyes? whether these ideas have been established by the chiefs of states for the benefit of society, that there might be believed to exist one Universal Monarch in heaven, at whose nod (as Homer expresses it) all Olympus trembles, and that he might be accounted both king and father of all creatures; for there is great authority, and there are many witnesses, if you choose to call all many, who attest that all nations have unanimously recognized, by the decrees of their chiefs, that nothing is better than a king, since they think that all the Gods are governed by the divine power of one sovereign; or if we suspect 387that this opinion rests on the error of the ignorant, and should be classed among the fables, let us listen to those universal testimonies of erudite men, who have, as it were, seen with their eyes those things to the knowledge of which we can hardly attain by report.

What men do you mean? said Lælius.

Those, replied Scipio, who, by the investigation of nature, have arrived at the opinion that the whole universe [is animated] by a single Mind311. * * *

XXXVII. But if you please, my Lælius, I will bring forward evidences which are neither too ancient nor in any respect barbarous.

Those, said Lælius, are what I want.

Scipio. You are aware that it is now not four centuries since this city of ours has been without kings.

Lælius. You are correct; it is less than four centuries.

Scipio. Well, then, what are four centuries in the age of a state or city? is it a long time?

Lælius. It hardly amounts to the age of maturity.

Scipio. You say truly; and yet not four centuries have elapsed since there was a king in Rome.

Lælius. And he was a proud king.

Scipio. But who was his predecessor?

Lælius. He was an admirably just one; and, indeed, we must bestow the same praise on all his predecessors as far back as Romulus, who reigned about six centuries ago.

Scipio. Even he, then, is not very ancient.

Lælius. No; he reigned when Greece was already becoming old.

Scipio. Agreed. Was Romulus, then, think you, king of a barbarous people?

Lælius. Why, as to that, if we were to follow the example of the Greeks, who say that all people are either Greeks or barbarians, I am afraid that we must confess that he was a king of barbarians; but if this name belongs rather to manners than to languages, then I believe the Greeks were just as barbarous as the Romans.

Then Scipio said: But with respect to the present question, we do not so much need to inquire into the nation as into the disposition. For if intelligent men, at a period so 388little remote, desired the government of kings, you will confess that I am producing authorities that are neither antiquated, rude, nor insignificant.

XXXVIII. Then Lælius said: I see, Scipio, that you are very sufficiently provided with authorities; but with me, as with every fair judge, authorities are worth less than arguments.

Scipio replied: Then, Lælius, you shall yourself make use of an argument derived from your own senses.

Lælius. What senses do you mean?

Scipio. The feelings which you experience when at any time you happen to feel angry with any one.

Lælius. That happens rather oftener than I could wish.

Scipio. Well, then, when you are angry, do you permit your anger to triumph over your judgment?

No, by Hercules! said Lælius; I imitate the famous Archytas of Tarentum, who, when he came to his villa, and found all its arrangements were contrary to his orders, said to his steward, “Ah! you unlucky scoundrel, I would flog you to death, if it were not that I am in a rage with you.”

Capital, said Scipio. Archytas, then, regarded unreasonable anger as a kind of sedition and rebellion of nature which he sought to appease by reflection. And so, if we examine avarice, the ambition of power or of glory, or the lusts of concupiscence and licentiousness, we shall find a certain conscience in the mind of man, which, like a king, sways by the force of counsel all the inferior faculties and propensities; and this, in truth, is the noblest portion of our nature; for when conscience reigns, it allows no resting-place to lust, violence, or temerity.

Lælius. You have spoken the truth.

Scipio. Well, then, does a mind thus governed and regulated meet your approbation?

Lælius. More than anything upon earth.

Scipio. Then you would not approve that the evil passions, which are innumerable, should expel conscience, and that lusts and animal propensities should assume an ascendency over us?

Lælius. For my part, I can conceive nothing more wretched than a mind thus degraded, or a man animated by a soul so licentious.

389Scipio. You desire, then, that all the faculties of the mind should submit to a ruling power, and that conscience should reign over them all?

Lælius. Certainly, that is my wish.

Scipio. How, then, can you doubt what opinion to form on the subject of the Commonwealth? in which, if the State is thrown into many hands, it is very plain that there will be no presiding authority; for if power be not united, it soon comes to nothing.

XXXIX. Then Lælius asked: But what difference is there, I should like to know, between the one and the many, if justice exists equally in many?

And Scipio said: Since I see, my Lælius, that the authorities I have adduced have no great influence on you, I must continue to employ you yourself as my witness in proof of what I am saying.

In what way, said Lælius, are you going to make me again support your argument?

Scipio. Why, thus: I recollect, when we were lately at Formiæ, that you told your servants repeatedly to obey the orders of more than one master only.

Lælius. To be sure, those of my steward.

Scipio. What do you at home? Do you commit your affairs to the hands of many persons?

Lælius. No, I trust them to myself alone.

Scipio. Well, in your whole establishment, is there any other master but yourself?

Lælius. Not one.

Scipio. Then I think you must grant me that, as respects the State, the government of single individuals, provided they are just, is superior to any other.

Lælius. You have conducted me to this conclusion, and I entertain very nearly that opinion.

XL. And Scipio said: You would still further agree with me, my Lælius, if, omitting the common comparisons, that one pilot is better fitted to steer a ship, and a physician to treat an invalid, provided they be competent men in their respective professions, than many could be, I should come at once to more illustrious examples.

Lælius. What examples do you mean?

Scipio. Do not you observe that it was the cruelty and 390pride of one single Tarquin only that made the title of king unpopular among the Romans?

Lælius. Yes, I acknowledge that.

Scipio. You are also aware of this fact, on which I think I shall debate in the course of the coming discussion, that after the expulsion of King Tarquin, the people was transported by a wonderful excess of liberty. Then innocent men were driven into banishment; then the estates of many individuals were pillaged, consulships were made annual, public authorities were overawed by mobs, popular appeals took place in all cases imaginable; then secessions of the lower orders ensued, and, lastly, those proceedings which tended to place all powers in the hands of the populace.

Lælius. I must confess this is all too true.

All these things now, said Scipio, happened during periods of peace and tranquillity, for license is wont to prevail when there is little to fear, as in a calm voyage or a trifling disease. But as we observe the voyager and the invalid implore the aid of some one competent director, as soon as the sea grows stormy and the disease alarming, so our nation in peace and security commands, threatens, resists, appeals from, and insults its magistrates, but in war obeys them as strictly as kings; for public safety is, after all, rather more valuable than popular license. And in the most serious wars, our countrymen have even chosen the entire command to be deposited in the hands of some single chief, without a colleague; the very name of which magistrate indicates the absolute character of his power. For though he is evidently called dictator because he is appointed (dicitur), yet do we still observe him, my Lælius, in our sacred books entitled Magister Populi (the master of the people).

This is certainly the case, said Lælius.

Our ancestors, therefore, said Scipio, acted wisely.312 * * *

XLI. When the people is deprived of a just king, as Ennius says, after the death of one of the best of monarchs,

They hold his memory dear, and, in the warmth

Of their discourse, they cry, O Romulus!

O prince divine, sprung from the might of Mars

To be thy country’s guardian! O our sire!

Be our protector still, O heaven-begot!

391Not heroes, nor lords alone, did they call those whom they lawfully obeyed; nor merely as kings did they proclaim them; but they pronounced them their country’s guardians, their fathers, and their Gods. Nor, indeed, without cause, for they added,

Thou, Prince, hast brought us to the gates of light.

And truly they believed that life and honor and glory had arisen to them from the justice of their king. The same good-will would doubtless have remained in their descendants, if the same virtues had been preserved on the throne; but, as you see, by the injustice of one man the whole of that kind of constitution fell into ruin.

I see it indeed, said Lælius, and I long to know the history of these political revolutions both in our own Commonwealth and in every other.

XLII. And Scipio said: When I shall have explained my opinion respecting the form of government which I prefer, I shall be able to speak to you more accurately respecting the revolutions of states, though I think that such will not take place so easily in the mixed form of government which I recommend. With respect, however, to absolute monarchy, it presents an inherent and invincible tendency to revolution. No sooner does a king begin to be unjust than this entire form of government is demolished, and he at once becomes a tyrant, which is the worst of all governments, and one very closely related to monarchy. If this State falls into the hands of the nobles, which is the usual course of events, it becomes an aristocracy, or the second of the three kinds of constitutions which I have described; for it is, as it were, a royal—that is to say, a paternal—council of the chief men of the State consulting for the public benefit. Or if the people by itself has expelled or slain a tyrant, it is moderate in its conduct as long as it has sense and wisdom, and while it rejoices in its exploit, and applies itself to maintaining the constitution which it has established. But if ever the people has raised its forces against a just king and robbed him of his throne, or, as has frequently happened, has tasted the blood of its legitimate nobles, and subjected the whole Commonwealth to its own license, you can imagine 392no flood or conflagration so terrible, or any whose violence is harder to appease than this unbridled insolence of the populace.

XLIII. Then we see realized that which Plato so vividly describes, if I can but express it in our language. It is by no means easy to do it justice in translation: however, I will try.

When, says Plato, the insatiate jaws of the populace are fired with the thirst of liberty, and when the people, urged on by evil ministers, drains in its thirst the cup, not of tempered liberty, but unmitigated license, then the magistrates and chiefs, if they are not utterly subservient and remiss, and shameless promoters of the popular licentiousness, are pursued, incriminated, accused, and cried down under the title of despots and tyrants. I dare say you recollect the passage.

Yes, said Lælius, it is familiar to me.

Scipio. Plato thus proceeds: Then those who feel in duty bound to obey the chiefs of the State are persecuted by the insensate populace, who call them voluntary slaves. But those who, though invested with magistracies, wish to be considered on an equality with private individuals, and those private individuals who labor to abolish all distinctions between their own class and the magistrates, are extolled with acclamations and overwhelmed with honors, so that it inevitably happens in a commonwealth thus revolutionized that liberalism abounds in all directions, due authority is found wanting even in private families, and misrule seems to extend even to the animals that witness it. Then the father fears the son, and the son neglects the father. All modesty is banished; they become far too liberal for that. No difference is made between the citizen and the alien; the master dreads and cajoles his scholars, and the scholars despise their masters. The young men assume the gravity of sages, and sages must stoop to the follies of children, lest they should be hated and oppressed by them. The very slaves even are under but little restraint; wives boast the same rights as their husbands; dogs, horses, and asses are emancipated in this outrageous excess of freedom, and run about so violently that they frighten the passengers from the road. At length 393the termination of all this infinite licentiousness is, that the minds of the citizens become so fastidious and effeminate, that when they observe even the slightest exertion of authority they grow angry and seditious, and thus the laws begin to be neglected, so that the people are absolutely without any master at all.

Then Lælius said: You have very accurately rendered the opinions which he expressed.

XLIV. Scipio. Now, to return to the argument of my discourse. It appears that this extreme license, which is the only liberty in the eyes of the vulgar, is, according to Plato, such that from it as a sort of root tyrants naturally arise and spring up. For as the excessive power of an aristocracy occasions the destruction of the nobles, so this excessive liberalism of democracies brings after it the slavery of the people. Thus we find in the weather, the soil, and the animal constitution the most favorable conditions are sometimes suddenly converted by their excess into the contrary, and this fact is especially observable in political governments; and this excessive liberty soon brings the people collectively and individually to an excessive servitude. For, as I said, this extreme liberty easily introduces the reign of tyranny, the severest of all unjust slaveries. In fact, from the midst of this unbridled and capricious populace, they elect some one as a leader in opposition to their afflicted and expelled nobles: some new chief, forsooth, audacious and impure, often insolently persecuting those who have deserved well of the State, and ready to gratify the populace at his neighbor’s expense as well as his own. Then, since the private condition is naturally exposed to fears and alarms, the people invest him with many powers, and these are continued in his hands. Such men, like Pisistratus of Athens, will soon find an excuse for surrounding themselves with body-guards, and they will conclude by becoming tyrants over the very persons who raised them to dignity. If such despots perish by the vengeance of the better citizens, as is generally the case, the constitution is re-established; but if they fall by the hands of bold insurgents, then the same faction succeeds them, which is only another species of tyranny. And the same revolution arises 394from the fair system of aristocracy when any corruption has betrayed the nobles from the path of rectitude. Thus the power is like the ball which is flung from hand to hand: it passes from kings to tyrants, from tyrants to the aristocracy, from them to democracy, and from these back again to tyrants and to factions; and thus the same kind of government is seldom long maintained.

XLV. Since these are the facts of experience, royalty is, in my opinion, very far preferable to the three other kinds of political constitutions. But it is itself inferior to that which is composed of an equal mixture of the three best forms of government, united and modified by one another. I wish to establish in a commonwealth a royal and pre-eminent chief. Another portion of power should be deposited in the hands of the aristocracy, and certain things should be reserved to the judgment and wish of the multitude. This constitution, in the first place, possesses that great equality without which men cannot long maintain their freedom; secondly, it offers a great stability, while the particular separate and isolated forms easily fall into their contraries; so that a king is succeeded by a despot, an aristocracy by a faction, a democracy by a mob and confusion; and all these forms are frequently sacrificed to new revolutions. In this united and mixed constitution, however, similar disasters cannot happen without the greatest vices in public men. For there can be little to occasion revolution in a state in which every person is firmly established in his appropriate rank, and there are but few modes of corruption into which we can fall.

XLVI. But I fear, Lælius, and you, my amiable and learned friends, that if I were to dwell any longer on this argument, my words would seem rather like the lessons of a master, and not like the free conversation of one who is uniting with you in the consideration of truth. I shall therefore pass on to those things which are familiar to all, and which I have long studied. And in these matters I believe, I feel, and I affirm that of all governments there is none which, either in its entire constitution or the distribution of its parts, or in the discipline of its manners, is comparable to that which our fathers received from our earliest ancestors, and which they have handed down to 395us. And since you wish to hear from me a development of this constitution, with which you are all acquainted, I shall endeavor to explain its true character and excellence. Thus keeping my eye fixed on the model of our Roman Commonwealth, I shall endeavor to accommodate to it all that I have to say on the best form of government. And by treating the subject in this way, I think I shall be able to accomplish most satisfactorily the task which Lælius has imposed on me.

XLVII. Lælius. It is a task most properly and peculiarly your own, my Scipio; for who can speak so well as you either on the subject of the institutions of our ancestors, since you yourself are descended from most illustrious ancestors, or on that of the best form of a constitution which, if we possess (though at this moment we do not, still), when we do possess such a thing, who will be more flourishing in it than you? or on that of providing counsels for the future, as you, who, by dispelling two mighty perils from our city, have provided for its safety forever?


XLVIII. As our country is the source of the greatest benefits, and is a parent dearer than those who have given us life, we owe her still warmer gratitude than belongs to our human relations. * * *

Nor would Carthage have continued to flourish during six centuries without wisdom and good institutions. * * *

In truth, says Cicero, although the reasonings of those men may contain most abundant fountains of science and virtue; still, if we compare them with the achievements and complete actions of statesmen, they will seem not to have been of so much service in the actual business of men as of amusement for their leisure.



In this second book of his Commonwealth, Cicero gives us a spirited and eloquent review of the history and successive developments of the Roman constitution. He bestows the warmest praises on its early kings, points out the great advantages which had resulted from its primitive monarchical system, and explains how that system had been gradually broken up. In order to prove the importance of reviving it, he gives a glowing picture of the evils and disasters that had befallen the Roman State in consequence of that overcharge of democratic folly and violence which had gradually gained an alarming preponderance, and describes, with a kind of prophetic sagacity, the fruit of his political experience, the subsequent revolutions of the Roman State, which such a state of things would necessarily bring about.


I. [When, therefore, he observed all his friends kindled with the de]sire of hearing him, Scipio thus opened the discussion. I will commence, said Scipio, with a sentiment of old Cato, whom, as you know, I singularly loved and exceedingly admired, and to whom, in compliance with the judgment of both my parents, and also by my own desire, I was entirely devoted during my youth; of whose discourse, indeed, I could never have enough, so much experience did he possess as a statesman respecting the republic which he had so long governed, both in peace and war, with so much success. There was also an admirable propriety in his style of conversation, in which wit was tempered with gravity; a wonderful aptitude for acquiring, and at the same time communicating, information; and his life was in perfect correspondence and unison with his language. He used to say that the government of Rome was superior to that of other states for this reason, because in nearly all of them there had been single individuals, each of whom had regulated their commonwealth 397according to their own laws and their own ordinances. So Minos had done in Crete, and Lycurgus in Sparta; and in Athens, which experienced so many revolutions, first Theseus, then Draco, then Solon, then Clisthenes, afterward many others; and, lastly, when it was almost lifeless and quite prostrate, that great and wise man, Demetrius Phalereus, supported it. But our Roman constitution, on the contrary, did not spring from the genius of one individual, but from that of many; and it was established, not in the lifetime of one man, but in the course of several ages and centuries. For, added he, there never yet existed any genius so vast and comprehensive as to allow nothing at any time to escape its attention; and all the geniuses in the world united in a single mind could never, within the limits of a single life, exert a foresight sufficiently extensive to embrace and harmonize all, without the aid of experience and practice.

Thus, according to Cato’s usual habit, I now ascend in my discourse to the “origin of the people,” for I like to adopt the expression of Cato. I shall also more easily execute my proposed task if I thus exhibit to you our political constitution in its infancy, progress, and maturity, now so firm and fully established, than if, after the example of Socrates in the books of Plato, I were to delineate a mere imaginary republic.

II. When all had signified their approbation, Scipio resumed: What commencement of a political constitution can we conceive more brilliant, or more universally known, than the foundation of Rome by the hand of Romulus? And he was the son of Mars: for we may grant this much to the common report existing among men, especially as it is not merely ancient, but one also which has been wisely maintained by our ancestors, in order that those who have done great service to communities may enjoy the reputation of having received from the Gods, not only their genius, but their very birth.

It is related, then, that soon after the birth of Romulus and his brother Remus, Amulius, King of Alba, fearing that they might one day undermine his authority, ordered that they should be exposed on the banks of the Tiber; and that in this situation the infant Romulus was suckled 398by a wild beast; that he was afterward educated by the shepherds, and brought up in the rough way of living and labors of the countrymen; and that he acquired, when he grew up, such superiority over the rest by the vigor of his body and the courage of his soul, that all the people who at that time inhabited the plains in the midst of which Rome now stands, tranquilly and willingly submitted to his government. And when he had made himself the chief of those bands, to come from fables to facts, he took Alba Longa, a powerful and strong city at that time, and slew its king, Amulius.

III. Having acquired this glory, he conceived the design (as they tell us) of founding a new city and establishing a new state. As respected the site of his new city, a point which requires the greatest foresight in him who would lay the foundation of a durable commonwealth, he chose the most convenient possible position. For he did not advance too near the sea, which he might easily have done with the forces under his command, either by entering the territory of the Rutuli and Aborigines, or by founding his citadel at the mouth of the Tiber, where many years after Ancus Martius established a colony. But Romulus, with admirable genius and foresight, observed and perceived that sites very near the sea are not the most favorable positions for cities which would attain a durable prosperity and dominion. And this, first, because maritime cities are always exposed, not only to many attacks, but to perils they cannot provide against. For the continued land gives notice, by many indications, not only of any regular approaches, but also of any sudden surprises of an enemy, and announces them beforehand by the mere sound. There is no adversary who, on an inland territory, can arrive so swiftly as to prevent our knowing not only his existence, but his character too, and where he comes from. But a maritime and naval enemy can fall upon a town on the sea-coast before any one suspects that he is about to come; and when he does come, nothing exterior indicates who he is, or whence he comes, or what he wishes; nor can it even be determined and distinguished on all occasions whether he is a friend or a foe.

IV. But maritime cities are likewise naturally exposed 399to corrupt influences, and revolutions of manners. Their civilization is more or less adulterated by new languages and customs, and they import not only foreign merchandise, but foreign fashions, to such a degree that nothing can continue unalloyed in the national institutions. Those who inhabit these maritime towns do not remain in their native place, but are urged afar from their homes by winged hope and speculation. And even when they do not desert their country in person, still their minds are always expatiating and voyaging round the world.

Nor, indeed, was there any cause which more deeply undermined Corinth and Carthage, and at last overthrew them both, than this wandering and dispersion of their citizens, whom the passion of commerce and navigation had induced to abandon the cultivation of their lands and their attention to military pursuits.

The proximity of the sea likewise administers to maritime cities a multitude of pernicious incentives to luxury, which are either acquired by victory or imported by commerce; and the very agreeableness of their position nourishes many expensive and deceitful gratifications of the passions. And what I have spoken of Corinth may be applied, for aught I know, without incorrectness to the whole of Greece. For the Peloponnesus itself is almost wholly on the sea-coast; nor, besides the Phliasians, are there any whose lands do not touch the sea; and beyond the Peloponnesus, the Ænianes, the Dorians, and the Dolopes are the only inland people. Why should I speak of the Grecian islands, which, girded by the waves, seem all afloat, as it were, together with the institutions and manners of their cities? And these things, I have before noticed, do not respect ancient Greece only; for which of all those colonies which have been led from Greece into Asia, Thracia, Italy, Sicily, and Africa, with the single exception of Magnesia, is there that is not washed by the sea? Thus it seems as if a sort of Grecian coast had been annexed to territories of the barbarians. For among the barbarians themselves none were heretofore a maritime people, if we except the Carthaginians and Etruscans; one for the sake of commerce, the other of pillage. And this is one evident reason of the calamities and revolutions of Greece, 400because she became infected with the vices which belong to maritime cities, which I just now briefly enumerated. But yet, notwithstanding these vices, they have one great advantage, and one which is of universal application, namely, that there is a great facility for new inhabitants flocking to them. And, again, that the inhabitants are enabled to export and send abroad the produce of their native lands to any nation they please, which offers them a market for their goods.

V. By what divine wisdom, then, could Romulus embrace all the benefits that could belong to maritime cities, and at the same time avoid the dangers to which they are exposed, except, as he did, by building his city on the bank of an inexhaustible river, whose equal current discharges itself into the sea by a vast mouth, so that the city could receive all it wanted from the sea, and discharge its superabundant commodities by the same channel? And in the same river a communication is found by which it not only receives from the sea all the productions necessary to the conveniences and elegances of life, but those also which are brought from the inland districts. So that Romulus seems to me to have divined and anticipated that this city would one day become the centre and abode of a powerful and opulent empire; for there is no other part of Italy in which a city could be situated so as to be able to maintain so wide a dominion with so much ease.

VI. As to the natural fortifications of Rome, who is so negligent and unobservant as not to have them depicted and deeply stamped on his memory? Such is the plan and direction of the walls, which, by the prudence of Romulus and his royal successors, are bounded on all sides by steep and rugged hills; and the only aperture between the Esquiline and Quirinal mountains is enclosed by a formidable rampart, and surrounded by an immense fosse. And as for our fortified citadel, it is so secured by a precipitous barrier and enclosure of rocks, that, even in that horrible attack and invasion of the Gauls, it remained impregnable and inviolable. Moreover, the site which he selected had also an abundance of fountains, and was healthy, though it was in the midst of a pestilential region; for there are hills which at once create a current 401of fresh air, and fling an agreeable shade over the valleys.

VII. These things he effected with wonderful rapidity, and thus established the city, which, from his own name Romulus, he determined to call Rome. And in order to strengthen his new city, he conceived a design, singular enough, and even a little rude, yet worthy of a great man, and of a genius which discerned far away in futurity the means of strengthening his power and his people. The young Sabine females of honorable birth who had come to Rome, attracted by the public games and spectacles which Romulus then, for the first time, established as annual games in the circus, were suddenly carried off at the feast of Consus313 by his orders, and were given in marriage to the men of the noblest families in Rome. And when, on this account, the Sabines had declared war against Rome, the issue of the battle being doubtful and undecided, Romulus made an alliance with Tatius, King of the Sabines, at the intercession of the matrons themselves who had been carried off. By this compact he admitted the Sabines into the city, gave them a participation in the religious ceremonies, and divided his power with their king.

VIII. But after the death of Tatius, the entire government was again vested in the hands of Romulus, although, besides making Tatius his own partner, he had also elected some of the chiefs of the Sabines into the royal council, who on account of their affectionate regard for the people were called patres, or fathers. He also divided the people into three tribes, called after the name of Tatius, and his own name, and that of Locumo, who had fallen as his ally in the Sabine war; and also into thirty curiæ, designated by the names of those Sabine virgins, who, after being carried off at the festivals, generously offered themselves as the mediators of peace and coalition.

But though these orders were established in the life of Tatius, yet, after his death, Romulus reigned with still greater power by the counsel and authority of the senate.

IX. In this respect he approved and adopted the principle which Lycurgus but little before had applied to the government of Lacedæmon; namely, that the monarchical 402authority and the royal power operate best in the government of states when to this supreme authority is joined the influence of the noblest of the citizens.

Therefore, thus supported, and, as it were, propped up by this council or senate, Romulus conducted many wars with the neighboring nations in a most successful manner; and while he refused to take any portion of the booty to his own palace, he did not cease to enrich the citizens. He also cherished the greatest respect for that institution of hierarchical and ecclesiastical ordinances which we still retain to the great benefit of the Commonwealth; for in the very commencement of his government he founded the city with religious rites, and in the institution of all public establishments he was equally careful in attending to these sacred ceremonials, and associated with himself on these occasions priests that were selected from each of the tribes. He also enacted that the nobles should act as patrons and protectors to the inferior citizens, their natural clients and dependants, in their respective districts, a measure the utility of which I shall afterward notice.—The judicial punishments were mostly fines of sheep and oxen; for the property of the people at that time consisted in their fields and cattle, and this circumstance has given rise to the expressions which still designate real and personal wealth. Thus the people were kept in order rather by mulctations than by bodily inflictions.

X. After Romulus had thus reigned thirty-seven years, and established these two great supports of government, the hierarchy and the senate, having disappeared in a sudden eclipse of the sun, he was thought worthy of being added to the number of the Gods—an honor which no mortal man ever was able to attain to but by a glorious pre-eminence of virtue. And this circumstance was the more to be admired in the case of Romulus because most of the great men that have been deified were so exalted to celestial dignities by the people, in periods very little enlightened, when fiction was easy and ignorance went hand-in-hand with credulity. But with respect to Romulus we know that he lived less than six centuries ago, at a time when science and literature were already advanced, and had got rid of many of the ancient errors that had 403prevailed among less civilized peoples. For if, as we consider proved by the Grecian annals, Rome was founded in the seventh Olympiad, the life of Romulus was contemporary with that period in which Greece already abounded in poets and musicians—an age when fables, except those concerning ancient matters, received little credit.

For, one hundred and eight years after the promulgation of the laws of Lycurgus, the first Olympiad was established, which indeed, through a mistake of names, some authors have supposed constituted, by Lycurgus likewise. And Homer himself, according to the best computation, lived about thirty years before the time of Lycurgus. We must conclude, therefore, that Homer flourished very many years before the date of Romulus. So that, as men had now become learned, and as the times themselves were not destitute of knowledge, there was not much room left for the success of mere fictions. Antiquity indeed has received fables that have at times been sufficiently improbable: but this epoch, which was already so cultivated, disdaining every fiction that was impossible, rejected314 * * * We may therefore, perhaps, attach some credit to this story of Romulus’s immortality, since human life was at that time experienced, cultivated, and instructed. And doubtless there was in him such energy of genius and virtue that it is not altogether impossible to believe the report of Proculus Julius, the husbandman, of that glorification having befallen Romulus which for many ages we have denied to less illustrious men. At all events, Proculus is reported to have stated in the council, at the instigation of the senators, who wished to free themselves from all suspicion of having been accessaries to the death of Romulus, that he had seen him on that hill which is now called the Quirinal, and that he had commanded him to inform the people that they should build him a temple on that same hill, and offer him sacrifices under the name of Quirinus.

XI. You see, therefore, that the genius of this great man did not merely establish the constitution of a new people, and then leave them, as it were, crying in their cradle; but he still continued to superintend their education 404till they had arrived at an adult and wellnigh a mature age.

Then Lælius said: We now see, my Scipio, what you meant when you said that you would adopt a new method of discussing the science of government, different from any found in the writings of the Greeks. For that prime master of philosophy, whom none ever surpassed in eloquence, I mean Plato, chose an open plain on which to build an imaginary city after his own taste—a city admirably conceived, as none can deny, but remote enough from the real life and manners of men. Others, without proposing to themselves any model or type of government whatever, have argued on the constitutions and forms of states. You, on the contrary, appear to be about to unite these two methods; for, as far as you have gone, you seem to prefer attributing to others your discoveries, rather than start new theories under your own name and authority, as Socrates has done in the writings of Plato. Thus, in speaking of the site of Rome, you refer to a systematic policy, to the acts of Romulus, which were many of them the result of necessity or chance; and you do not allow your discourse to run riot over many states, but you fix and concentrate it on our own Commonwealth. Proceed, then, in the course you have adopted; for I see that you intend to examine our other kings, in your pursuit of a perfect republic, as it were.

XII. Therefore, said Scipio, when that senate of Romulus which was composed of the nobles, whom the king himself respected so highly that he designated them patres, or fathers, and their children patricians, attempted after the death of Romulus to conduct the government without a king, the people would not suffer it, but, amidst their regret for Romulus, desisted not from demanding a fresh monarch. The nobles then prudently resolved to establish an interregnum—a new political form, unknown to other nations. It was not without its use, however, since, during the interval which elapsed before the definitive nomination of the new king, the State was not left without a ruler, nor subjected too long to the same governor, nor exposed to the fear lest some one, in consequence of the prolonged enjoyment of power, should become more unwilling 405to lay it aside, or more powerful if he wished to secure it permanently for himself. At which time this new nation discovered a political provision which had escaped the Spartan Lycurgus, who conceived that the monarch ought not to be elective—if indeed it is true that this depended on Lycurgus—but that it was better for the Lacedæmonians to acknowledge as their sovereign the next heir of the race of Hercules, whoever he might be: but our Romans, rude as they were, saw the importance of appointing a king, not for his family, but for his virtue and experience.

XIII. And fame having recognized these eminent qualities in Numa Pompilius, the Roman people, without partiality for their own citizens, committed itself, by the counsel of the senators, to a king of foreign origin, and summoned this Sabine from the city of Cures to Rome, that he might reign over them. Numa, although the people had proclaimed him king in their Comitia Curiata, did nevertheless himself pass a Lex Curiata respecting his own authority; and observing that the institutions of Romulus had too much excited the military propensities of the people, he judged it expedient to recall them from this habit of warfare by other employments.

XIV. And, in the first place, he divided severally among the citizens the lands which Romulus had conquered, and taught them that even without the aid of pillage and devastation they could, by the cultivation of their own territories, procure themselves all kinds of commodities. And he inspired them with the love of peace and tranquillity, in which faith and justice are likeliest to flourish, and extended the most powerful protection to the people in the cultivation of their fields and the enjoyment of their produce. Pompilius likewise having created hierarchical institutions of the highest class, added two augurs to the old number. He intrusted the superintendence of the sacred rites to five pontiffs, selected from the body of the nobles; and by those laws which we still preserve on our monuments he mitigated, by religious ceremonials, the minds that had been too long inflamed by military enthusiasm and enterprise.

He also established the Flamines and the Salian priests 406and the Vestal Virgins, and regulated all departments of our ecclesiastical policy with the most pious care. In the ordinance of sacrifices, he wished that the ceremonial should be very arduous and the expenditure very light. He thus appointed many observances, whose knowledge is extremely important, and whose expense far from burdensome. Thus in religious worship he added devotion and removed costliness. He was also the first to introduce markets, games, and the other usual methods of assembling and uniting men. By these establishments, he inclined to benevolence and amiability spirits whom the passion for war had rendered savage and ferocious. Having thus reigned in the greatest peace and concord thirty-nine years—for in dates we mainly follow our Polybius, than whom no one ever gave more attention to the investigation of the history of the times—he departed this life, having corroborated the two grand principles of political stability, religion and clemency.

XV. When Scipio had concluded these remarks, Is it not, said Manilius, a true tradition which is current, that our king Numa was a disciple of Pythagoras himself, or that at least he was a Pythagorean in his doctrines? For I have often heard this from my elders, and we know that it is the popular opinion; but it does not seem to be clearly proved by the testimony of our public annals.

Then Scipio replied: The supposition is false, my Manilius; it is not merely a fiction, but a ridiculous and bungling one too; and we should not tolerate those statements, even in fiction, relating to facts which not only did not happen, but which never could have happened. For it was not till the fourth year of the reign of Tarquinius Superbus that Pythagoras is ascertained to have come to Sybaris, Crotona, and this part of Italy. And the sixty-second Olympiad is the common date of the elevation of Tarquin to the throne, and of the arrival of Pythagoras. >From which it appears, when we calculate the duration of the reigns of the kings, that about one hundred and forty years must have elapsed after the death of Numa before Pythagoras first arrived in Italy. And this fact, in the minds of men who have carefully studied the annals of time, has never been at all doubted.

407O ye immortal Gods! said Manilius, how deep and how inveterate is this error in the minds of men! However, it costs me no effort to concede that our Roman sciences were not imported from beyond the seas, but that they sprung from our own indigenous and domestic virtues.

XVI. You will become still more convinced of this fact, said Africanus, when tracing the progress of our Commonwealth as it became gradually developed to its best and maturest condition. And you will find yet further occasion to admire the wisdom of our ancestors on this very account, since you will perceive, that even those things which they borrowed from foreigners received a much higher improvement among us than they possessed in the countries from whence they were imported among us; and you will learn that the Roman people was aggrandized, not by chance or hazard, but rather by counsel and discipline, to which fortune indeed was by no means unfavorable.

XVII. After the death of King Pompilius, the people, after a short period of interregnum, chose Tullus Hostilius for their king, in the Comitia Curiata; and Tullus, after Numa’s example, consulted the people in their curias to procure a sanction for his government. His excellence chiefly appeared in his military glory and great achievements in war. He likewise, out of his military spoils, constructed and decorated the House of Comitia and the Senate-house. He also settled the ceremonies of the proclamation of hostilities, and consecrated their righteous institution by the religious sanction of the Fetial priests, so that every war which was not duly announced and declared might be adjudged illegal, unjust, and impious. And observe how wisely our kings at that time perceived that certain rights ought to be allowed to the people, of which we shall have a good deal to say hereafter. Tullus did not even assume the ensigns of royalty without the approbation of the people; and when he appointed twelve lictors, with their axes to go before him315 * * *

XVIII. * * * [Manilius.] This Commonwealth of Rome, which you are so eloquently describing, did not creep towards perfection; it rather flew at once to the maturity of its grandeur.

408[Scipio.] After Tullus, Ancus Martius, a descendant of Numa by his daughter, was appointed king by the people. He also procured the passing of a law316 through the Comitia Curiata respecting his government. This king having conquered the Latins, admitted them to the rights of citizens of Rome. He added to the city the Aventine and Cælian hills; he distributed the lands he had taken in war; he bestowed on the public all the maritime forests he had acquired; and he built the city Ostia, at the mouth of the Tiber, and colonized it. When he had thus reigned twenty-three years, he died.

Then said Lælius: Doubtless this king deserves our praises, but the Roman history is obscure. We possess, indeed, the name of this monarch’s mother, but we know nothing of his father.

It is so, said Scipio; but in those ages little more than the names of the kings were recorded.

XIX. For the first time at this period, Rome appears to have become more learned by the study of foreign literature; for it was no longer a little rivulet, flowing from Greece towards the walls of our city, but an overflowing river of Grecian sciences and arts. This is generally attributed to Demaratus, a Corinthian, the first man of his country in reputation, honor, and wealth; who, not being able to bear the despotism of Cypselus, tyrant of Corinth, fled with large treasures, and arrived at Tarquinii, the most flourishing city in Etruria. There, understanding that the domination of Cypselus was thoroughly established, he, like a free and bold-hearted man, renounced his country, and was admitted into the number of the citizens of Tarquinii, and fixed his residence in that city. And having married a woman of the city, he instructed his two sons, according to the method of Greek education, in all kinds of sciences and arts.317 * * *

XX. * * * [One of these sons] was easily admitted to 409the rights of citizenship at Rome; and on account of his accomplished manners and learning, he became a favorite of our king Ancus to such a degree that he was a partner in all his counsels, and was looked upon almost as his associate in the government. He, besides, possessed wonderful affability, and was very kind in assistance, support, protection, and even gifts of money, to the citizens.

When, therefore, Ancus died, the people by their unanimous suffrages chose for their king this Lucius Tarquinius (for he had thus transformed the Greek name of his family, that he might seem in all respects to imitate the customs of his adopted countrymen). And when he, too, had procured the passing of a law respecting his authority, he commenced his reign by doubling the original number of the senators. The ancient senators he called patricians of the major families (patres majorum gentium), and he asked their votes first; and those new senators whom he himself had added, he entitled patricians of minor families. After this, he established the order of knights, on the plan which we maintain to this day. He would not, however, change the denomination of the Tatian, Rhamnensian, and Lucerian orders, though he wished to do so, because Attus Nævius, an augur of the highest reputation, would not sanction it. And, indeed, I am aware that the Corinthians were remarkably attentive to provide for the maintenance and good condition of their cavalry by taxes levied on the inheritance of widows and orphans. To the first equestrian orders Lucius also added new ones, composing a body of three hundred knights. And this number he doubled, after having conquered the Æquicoli, a large and ferocious people, and dangerous enemies of the Roman State. Having likewise repulsed from our walls an invasion of the Sabines, he routed them by the aid of his cavalry, and subdued them. He also was the first person who instituted the grand games which are now called the Roman Games. He fulfilled his vow to build a temple to the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter in the Capitol—a vow which he made during a battle in the Sabine war—and died after a reign of thirty-eight years.

XXI. Then Lælius said: All that you have been relating corroborates the saying of Cato, that the constitution 410of the Roman Commonwealth is not the work of one man, or one age; for we can clearly see what a great progress in excellent and useful institutions was continued under each successive king. But we are now arrived at the reign of a monarch who appears to me to have been of all our kings he who had the greatest foresight in matters of political government.

So it appears to me, said Scipio; for after Tarquinius Priscus comes Servius Sulpicius, who was the first who is reported to have reigned without an order from the people. He is supposed to have been the son of a female slave at Tarquinii, by one of the soldiers or clients of King Priscus; and as he was educated among the servants of this prince, and waiting on him at table, the king soon observed the fire of his genius, which shone forth even from his childhood, so skilful was he in all his words and actions. Therefore, Tarquin, whose own children were then very young, so loved Servius that he was very commonly believed to be his own son, and he instructed him with the greatest care in all the sciences with which he was acquainted, according to the most exact discipline of the Greeks.

But when Tarquin had perished by the plots of the sons of Ancus, and Servius (as I have said) had begun to reign, not by the order, but yet with the good-will and consent, of the citizens—because, as it was falsely reported that Priscus was recovering from his wounds, Servius, arrayed in the royal robes, delivered judgment, freed the debtors at his own expense, and, exhibiting the greatest affability, announced that he delivered judgment at the command of Priscus—he did not commit himself to the senate; but, after Priscus was buried, he consulted the people respecting his authority, and, being authorized by them to assume the dominion, he procured a law to be passed through the Comitia Curiata, confirming his government.

He then, in the first place, avenged the injuries of the Etruscans by arms. After which318 * * *

XXII. * * * he enrolled eighteen centuries of knights of the first order. Afterward, having created a great number of knights from the common mass of the people, he 411divided the rest of the people into five classes, distinguishing between the seniors and the juniors. These he so constituted as to place the suffrages, not in the hands of the multitude, but in the power of the men of property. And he took care to make it a rule of ours, as it ought to be in every government, that the greatest number should not have the greatest weight. You are well acquainted with this institution, otherwise I would explain it to you; but you are familiar with the whole system, and know how the centuries of knights, with six suffrages, and the first class, comprising eighty centuries, besides one other century which was allotted to the artificers, on account of their utility to the State, produce eighty-nine centuries. If to these there are added twelve centuries—for that is the number of the centuries of the knights which remain319—the entire force of the State is summed up; and the arrangement is such that the remaining and far more numerous multitude, which is distributed through the ninety-six last centuries, is not deprived of a right of suffrage, which would be an arrogant measure; nor, on the other hand, permitted to exert too great a preponderance in the government, which would be dangerous.

In this arrangement, Servius was very cautious in his choice of terms and denominations. He called the rich assidui, because they afforded pecuniary succor320 to the State. As to those whoso fortune did not exceed 1500 pence, or those who had nothing but their labor, he called them proletarii classes, as if the State should expect from them a hardy progeny321 and population.

Even a single one of the ninety-six last centuries contained numerically more citizens than the entire first class. Thus, no one was excluded from his right of voting, yet the preponderance of votes was secured to those who had the deepest stake in the welfare of the State. Moreover, with reference to the accensi, velati, trumpeters, hornblowers, proletarii322 * * *

XXIII. * * * That that republic is arranged in the best manner which, being composed in due proportions of those 412three elements, the monarchical, the aristocratical, and the democratic, does not by punishment irritate a fierce and savage mind. * * * [A similar institution prevailed at Carthage], which was sixty-five years more ancient than Rome, since it was founded thirty-nine years before the first Olympiad; and that most ancient law-giver Lycurgus made nearly the same arrangements. Thus the system of regular subordination, and this mixture of the three principal forms of government, appear to me common alike to us and them. But there is a peculiar advantage in our Commonwealth, than which nothing can be more excellent, which I shall endeavor to describe as accurately as possible, because it is of such a character that nothing analogous can be discovered in ancient states; for these political elements which I have noticed were so united in the constitutions of Rome, of Sparta, and of Carthage, that they were not counterbalanced by any modifying power. For in a state in which one man is invested with a perpetual domination, especially of the monarchical character, although there be a senate in it, as there was in Rome under the kings, and in Sparta, by the laws of Lycurgus, or even where the people exercise a sort of jurisdiction, as they used in the days of our monarchy, the title of king must still be pre-eminent; nor can such a state avoid being, and being called, a kingdom. And this kind of government is especially subject to frequent revolutions, because the fault of a single individual is sufficient to precipitate it into the most pernicious disasters.

In itself, however, royalty is not only not a reprehensible form of government, but I do not know whether it is not far preferable to all other simple constitutions, if I approved of any simple constitution whatever. But this preference applies to royalty so long only as it maintains its appropriate character; and this character provides that one individual’s perpetual power, and justice, and universal wisdom should regulate the safety, equality, and tranquillity of the whole people. But many privileges must be wanting to communities that live under a king; and, in the first place, liberty, which does not consist in slavery to a just master, but in slavery to no master at all323 * * *

413XXIV. * * * [Let us now pass on to the reign of the seventh and last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus.] And even this unjust and cruel master had good fortune for his companion for some time in all his enterprises. For he subdued all Latium; he captured Suessa Pometia, a powerful and wealthy city, and, becoming possessed of an immense spoil of gold and silver, he accomplished his father’s vow by the building of the Capitol. He established colonies, and, faithful to the institutions of those from whom he sprung, he sent magnificent presents, as tokens of gratitude for his victories, to Apollo at Delphi.

XXV. Here begins the revolution of our political system of government, and I must beg your attention to its natural course and progression. For the grand point of political science, the object of our discourses, is to know the march and the deviations of governments, that when we are acquainted with the particular courses and inclinations of constitutions, we may be able to restrain them from their fatal tendencies, or to oppose adequate obstacles to their decline and fall.

For this Tarquinius Superbus, of whom I am speaking, being first of all stained with the blood of his admirable predecessor on the throne, could not be a man of sound conscience and mind; and as he feared himself the severest punishment for his enormous crime, he sought his protection in making himself feared. Then, in the glory of his victories and his treasures, he exulted in insolent pride, and could neither regulate his own manners nor the passions of the members of his family.

When, therefore, his eldest son had offered violence to Lucretia, daughter of Tricipitinus and wife of Collatinus, and this chaste and noble lady had stabbed herself to death on account of the injury she could not survive—then a man eminent for his genius and virtue, Lucius Brutus, dashed from his fellow-citizens this unjust yoke of odious servitude; and though he was but a private man, he sustained the government of the entire Commonwealth, and was the first that taught the people in this State that no one was a private man when the preservation of our liberties was concerned. Beneath his authority and command our city rose against tyranny, and, stirred by the recent 414grief of the father and relatives of Lucretia, and with the recollections of Tarquin’s haughtiness, and the numberless crimes of himself and his sons, they pronounced sentence of banishment against him and his children, and the whole race of the Tarquins.

XXVI. Do you not observe, then, how the king sometimes degenerates into the despot, and how, by the fault of one individual, a form of government originally good is abused to the worst of purposes? Here is a specimen of that despot over the people whom the Greeks denominate a tyrant. For, according to them, a king is he who, like a father, consults the interests of his people, and who preserves those whom he is set over in the very best condition of life. This indeed is, as I have said, an excellent form of government, yet still liable, and, as it were, inclined, to a pernicious abuse. For as soon as a king assumes an unjust and despotic power, he instantly becomes a tyrant, than which nothing baser or fouler, than which no imaginable animal can be more detestable to gods or men; for though in form a man, he surpasses the most savage monsters in ferocious cruelty. For who can justly call him a human being, who admits not between himself and his fellow-countrymen, between himself and the whole human race, any communication of justice, any association of kindness? But we shall find some fitter occasion of speaking of the evils of tyranny when the subject itself prompts us to declare against them who, even in a state already liberated, have affected these despotic insolencies.

XXVII. Such is the first origin and rise of a tyrant. For this was the name by which the Greeks choose to designate an unjust king; and by the title king our Romans universally understand every man who exercises over the people a perpetual and undivided domination. Thus Spurius Cassius, and Marcus Manlius, and Spurius Mælius, are said to have wished to seize upon the kingly power, and lately [Tiberius Gracchus incurred the same accusation].324 * * *

XXVIII. * * * [Lycurgus, in Sparta, formed, under the name of Elders,] a small council consisting of twenty-eight members only; to these he allotted the supreme legislative 415authority, while the king held the supreme executive authority. Our Romans, emulating his example, and translating his terms, entitled those whom he had called Elders, Senators, which, as we have said, was done by Romulus in reference to the elect patricians. In this constitution, however, the power, the influence, and name of the king is still pre-eminent. You may distribute, indeed, some show of power to the people, as Lycurgus and Romulus did, but you inflame them, with the thirst of liberty by allowing them even the slightest taste of its sweetness; and still their hearts will be overcast with alarm lest their king, as often happens, should become unjust. The prosperity of the people, therefore, can be little better than fragile, when placed at the disposal of any one individual, and subjected to his will and caprices.

XXIX. Thus the first example, prototype, and original of tyranny has been discovered by us in the history of our own Roman State, religiously founded by Romulus, without applying to the theoretical Commonwealth which, according to Plato’s recital, Socrates was accustomed to describe in his peripatetic dialogues. We have observed Tarquin, not by the usurpation of any new power, but by the unjust abuse of the power which he already possessed, overturn the whole system of our monarchical constitution.

Let us oppose to this example of the tyrant another, a virtuous king—wise, experienced, and well informed respecting the true interest and dignity of the citizens—a guardian, as it were, and superintendent of the Commonwealth; for that is a proper name for every ruler and governor of a state. And take you care to recognize such a man when you meet him, for he is the man who, by counsel and exertion, can best protect the nation. And as the name of this man has not yet been often mentioned in our discourse, and as the character of such a man must be often alluded to in our future conversations, [I shall take an early opportunity of describing it.]325 * * *

XXX. * * * [Plato has chosen to suppose a territory and establishments of citizens, whose fortunes] were precisely equal. And he has given us a description of a city, rather to be desired than expected; and he has made out 416not such a one as can really exist, but one in which the principles of political affairs may be discerned. But for me, if I can in any way accomplish it, while I adopt the same general principles as Plato, I am seeking to reduce them to experience and practice, not in the shadow and picture of a state, but in a real and actual Commonwealth, of unrivalled amplitude and power; in order to be able to point out, with the most graphic precision, the causes of every political good and social evil.

For after Rome had flourished more than two hundred and forty years under her kings and interreges, and after Tarquin was sent into banishment, the Roman people conceived as much detestation of the name of king as they had once experienced regret at the death, or rather disappearance, of Romulus. Therefore, as in the first instance they could hardly bear the idea of losing a king, so in the latter, after the expulsion of Tarquin, they could not endure to hear the name of a king.326 * * *

XXXI. * * * Therefore, when that admirable constitution of Romulus had lasted steadily about two hundred and forty years. * * * The whole of that law was abolished. In this humor, our ancestors banished Collatinus, in spite of his innocence, because of the suspicion that attached to his family, and all the rest of the Tarquins, on account of the unpopularity of their name. In the same humor, Valerius Publicola was the first to lower the fasces before the people, when he spoke in the assembly of the people. He also had the materials of his house conveyed to the foot of Mount Velia, having observed that the commencement of his edifice on the summit of this hill, where King Tullius had once dwelt, excited the suspicions of the people.

It was the same man, who in this respect pre-eminently deserved the name of Publicola, who carried in favor of the people the first law received in the Comitia Centuriata, that no magistrate should sentence to death or scourging a Roman citizen who appealed from his authority to the people. And the pontifical books attest that the right of appeal had existed, even against the decision of the kings. Our augural books affirm the same thing. And the Twelve 417Tables prove, by a multitude of laws, that there was a right of appeal from every judgment and penalty. Besides, the historical fact that the decemviri who compiled the laws were created with the privilege of judging without appeal, sufficiently proves that the other magistrates had not the same power. And a consular law, passed by Lucius Valerius Politus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus, men justly popular for promoting union and concord, enacted that no magistrate should thenceforth be appointed with authority to judge without appeal; and the Portian laws, the work of three citizens of the name of Portius, as you are aware, added nothing new to this edict but a penal sanction.

Therefore Publicola, having promulgated this law in favor of appeal to the people, immediately ordered the axes to be removed from the fasces, which the lictors carried before the consuls, and the next day appointed Spurius Lucretius for his colleague. And as the new consul was the oldest of the two, Publicola ordered his lictors to pass over to him; and he was the first to establish the rule, that each of the consuls should be preceded by the lictors in alternate months, that there should be no greater appearance of imperial insignia among the free people than they had witnessed in the days of their kings. Thus, in my opinion, he proved himself no ordinary man, as, by so granting the people a moderate degree of liberty, he more easily maintained the authority of the nobles.

Nor is it without reason that I have related to you these ancient and almost obsolete events; but I wished to adduce my instances of men and circumstances from illustrious persons and times, as it is to such events that the rest of my discourse will be directed.

XXXII. At that period, then, the senate preserved the Commonwealth in such a condition that though the people were really free, yet few acts were passed by the people, but almost all, on the contrary, by the authority, customs, and traditions of the senate. And over all the consuls exercised a power—in time, indeed, only annual, but in nature and prerogative completely royal.

The consuls maintained, with the greatest energy, that rule which so much conduces to the power of our nobles and great men, that the acts of the commons of the people 418shall not be binding, unless the authority of the patricians has approved them. About the same period, and scarcely ten years after the first consuls, we find the appointment of the dictator in the person of Titus Lartius. And this new kind of power—namely, the dictatorship—appears exceedingly similar to the monarchical royalty. All his power, however, was vested in the supreme authority of the senate, to which the people deferred; and in these times great exploits were performed in war by brave men invested with the supreme command, whether dictators or consuls.

XXXIII. But as the nature of things necessarily brought it to pass that the people, once freed from its kings, should arrogate to itself more and more authority, we observe that after a short interval of only sixteen years, in the consulship of Postumus Cominius and Spurius Cassius, they attained their object; an event explicable, perhaps, on no distinct principle, but, nevertheless, in a manner independent of any distinct principle. For recollect what I said in commencing our discourse, that if there exists not in the State a just distribution and subordination of rights, offices, and prerogatives, so as to give sufficient domination to the chiefs, sufficient authority to the counsel of the senators, and sufficient liberty to the people, this form of the government cannot be durable.

For when the excessive debts of the citizens had thrown the State into disorder, the people first retired to Mount Sacer, and next occupied Mount Aventine. And even the rigid discipline of Lycurgus could not maintain those restraints in the case of the Greeks. For in Sparta itself, under the reign of Theopompus, the five magistrates whom they term Ephori, and in Crete ten whom they entitle Cosmi, were established in opposition to the royal power, just as tribunes were added among us to counterbalance the consular authority.

XXXIV. There might have been a method, indeed, by which our ancestors could have been relieved from the pressure of debt, a method with which Solon the Athenian, who lived at no very distant period before, was acquainted, and which our senate did not neglect when, in the indignation which the odious avarice of one individual excited, 419all the bonds of the citizens were cancelled, and the right of arrest for a while suspended. In the same way, when the plebeians were oppressed by the weight of the expenses occasioned by public misfortunes, a cure and remedy were sought for the sake of public security. The senate, however, having forgotten their former decision, gave an advantage to the democracy; for, by the creation of two tribunes to appease the sedition of the people, the power and authority of the senate were diminished; which, however, still remained dignified and august, inasmuch as it was still composed of the wisest and bravest men, who protected their country both with their arms and with their counsels; whose authority was exceedingly strong and flourishing, because in honor they were as much before their fellow-citizens as they were inferior in luxuriousness, and, as a general rule, not superior to them in wealth. And their public virtues were the more agreeable to the people, because even in private matters they were ready to serve every citizen, by their exertions, their counsels, and their liberality.

XXXV. Such was the situation of the Commonwealth when the quæstor impeached Spurius Cassius of being so much emboldened by the excessive favor of the people as to endeavor to make himself master of monarchical power. And, as you have heard, his own father, having said that he had found that his son was really guilty of this crime, condemned him to death at the instance of the people. About fifty-four years after the first consulate, Spurius Tarpeius and Aulus Aternius very much gratified the people by proposing, in the Comitia Centuriata, the substitution of fines instead of corporal punishments. Twenty years afterward, Lucius Papirius and Publius Pinarius, the censors, having by a strict levy of fines confiscated to the State the entire flocks and herds of many private individuals, a light tax on the cattle was substituted for the law of fines in the consulship of Caius Julius and Publius Papirius.

XXXVI. But, some years previous to this, at a period when the senate possessed the supreme influence, and the people were submissive and obedient, a new system was adopted. At that time both the consuls and tribunes of 420the people abdicated their magistracies, and the decemviri were appointed, who were invested with great authority, from which there was no appeal whatever, so as to exercise the chief domination, and to compile the laws. After having composed, with much wisdom and equity, the Ten Tables of laws, they nominated as their successors in the ensuing year other decemviri, whose good faith and justice do not deserve equal praise. One member of this college, however, merits our highest commendation. I allude to Caius Julius, who declared respecting the nobleman Lucius Sestius, in whose chamber a dead body had been exhumed under his own eyes, that though as decemvir he held the highest power without appeal, he still required bail, because he was unwilling to neglect that admirable law which permitted no court but the Comitia Centuriata to pronounce final sentence on the life of a Roman citizen.

XXXVII. A third year followed under the authority of the same decemvirs, and still they were not disposed to appoint their successors. In a situation of the Commonwealth like this, which, as I have often repeated, could not be durable, because it had not an equal operation with respect to all the ranks of the citizens, the whole public power was lodged in the hands of the chiefs and decemvirs of the highest nobility, without the counterbalancing authority of the tribunes of the people, without the sanction of any other magistracies, and without appeal to the people in the case of a sentence of death or scourging.

Thus, out of the injustice of these men, there was suddenly produced a great revolution, which changed the entire condition of the government, or they added two tables of very tyrannical laws, and though matrimonial alliances had always been permitted, even with foreigners, they forbade, by the most abominable and inhuman edict, that any marriages should take place between the nobles and the commons—an order which was afterward abrogated by the decree of Canuleius. Besides, they introduced into all their political measures corruption, cruelty, and avarice. And indeed the story is well known, and celebrated in many literary compositions, that a certain Decimus Virginius was obliged, on account of the libidinous violence of one of these decemvirs, to stab his virgin daughter 421in the midst of the forum. Then, when he in his desperation had fled to the Roman army which was encamped on Mount Algidum, the soldiers abandoned the war in which they were engaged, and took possession of the Sacred Mount, as they had done before on a similar occasion, and next invested Mount Aventine in their arms.327 Our ancestors knew how to prove most thoroughly, and to retain most wisely. * * *

XXXVIII. And when Scipio had spoken in this manner, and all his friends were awaiting in silence the rest of his discourse, then said Tubero: Since these men who are older than I, my Scipio, make no fresh demands on you, I shall take the liberty to tell you what I particularly wish you would explain in your subsequent remarks.

Do so, said Scipio, and I shall be glad to hear.

Then Tubero said: You appear to me to have spoken a panegyric on our Commonwealth of Rome exclusively, though Lælius requested your views not only of the government of our own State, but of the policy of states in general. I have not, therefore, yet sufficiently learned from your discourse, with respect to that mixed form of government you most approve, by what discipline, moral and legal, we may be best able to establish and maintain it.

XXXIX. Africanus replied: I think that we shall soon find an occasion better adapted to the discussion you have proposed, respecting the constitution and conservatism of states. As to the best form of government, I think on this point I have sufficiently answered the question of Lælius. For in answering him, I, in the first place, specifically noticed the three simple forms of government—monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy; and the three vicious constitutions contrary to them, into which they often degenerate; and I said that none of these forms, taken separately, was absolutely good; but I described as preferable to either of them that mixed government which is composed of a proper amalgamation of these simple ingredients. If I have since depicted our own Roman constitution as an example, it was not in order to define the very best form of government, for that may be understood without an example; but I wished, in the exhibition of a 422mighty commonwealth actually in existence, to render distinct and visible what reason and discourse would vainly attempt to display without the assistance of experimental illustration. Yet, if you still require me to describe the best form of government, independent of all particular examples, we must consult that exactly proportioned and graduated image of government which nature herself presents to her investigators. Since you * * * this model of a city and people328 * * *

XL. * * * which I also am searching for, and which I am anxious to arrive at.

Lælius. You mean the model that would be approved by the truly accomplished politician?

Scipio. The same.

Lælius. You have plenty of fair patterns even now before you, if you would but begin with yourself.

Then Scipio said: I wish I could find even one such, even in the entire senate. For he is really a wise politician who, as we have often seen in Africa, while seated on a huge and unsightly elephant, can guide and rule the monster, and turn him whichever way he likes by a slight admonition, without any actual exertion.

Lælius. I recollect, and when I was your lieutenant I often saw, one of these drivers.

Scipio. Thus an Indian or Carthaginian regulates one of these huge animals, and renders him docile and familiar with human manners. But the genius which resides in the mind of man, by whatever name it may be called, is required to rein and tame a monster far more multiform and intractable, whenever it can accomplish it, which indeed is seldom. It is necessary to hold in with a strong hand that ferocious329 * * *

XLI. * * * [beast, denominated the mob, which thirsts after blood] to such a degree that it can scarcely be sated with the most hideous massacres of men. * * *

But to a man who is greedy, and grasping, and lustful, and fond of wallowing in voluptuousness.

423The fourth kind of anxiety is that which is prone to mourning and melancholy, and which is constantly worrying itself.

[The next paragraph, “Esse autem angores,” etc., is wholly unintelligible without the context.]

As an unskilful charioteer is dragged from his chariot, covered with dirt, bruised, and lacerated.

The excitements of men’s minds are like a chariot, with horses harnessed to it; in the proper management of which, the chief duty of the driver consists in knowing his road: and if he keeps the road, then, however rapidly he proceeds, he will encounter no obstacles; but if he quits the proper track, then, although he may be going gently and slowly, he will either be perplexed on rugged ground, or fall over some steep place, or at least he will be carried where he has no need to go.330

XLII. * * * can be said.

Then Lælius said: I now see the sort of politician you require, on whom you would impose the office and task of government, which is what I wished to understand.

He must be an almost unique specimen, said Africanus, for the task which I set him comprises all others. He must never cease from cultivating and studying himself, that he may excite others to imitate him, and become, through the splendor of his talents and enterprises, a living mirror to his countrymen. For as in flutes and harps, and in all vocal performances, a certain unison and harmony must be preserved amidst the distinctive tones, which cannot be broken or violated without offending experienced ears; and as this concord and delicious harmony is produced by the exact gradation and modulation of dissimilar notes; even so, by means of the just apportionment of the highest, middle, and lower classes, the State is maintained in concord and peace by the harmonic subordination of its discordant elements: and thus, that which is by musicians called harmony in song answers and corresponds to what we call concord in the State—concord, the strongest and loveliest bond of security in every commonwealth, being always accompanied by justice and equity.

XLIII. And after this, when Scipio had discussed with considerable breadth of principle and felicity of illustration the great advantage that justice is to a state, and the great injury which would arise if it were 424wanting, Pilus, one of those who were present at the discussion, took up the matter and demanded that this question should be argued more carefully, and that something more should be said about justice, on account of a sentiment that was now obtaining among people in general, that political affairs could not be wholly carried on without some disregard of justice.

XLIV. * * * to be full of justice.

Then Scipio replied: I certainly think so. And I declare to you that I consider that all I have spoken respecting the government of the State is worth nothing, and that it will be useless to proceed further, unless I can prove that it is a false assertion that political business cannot be conducted without injustice and corruption; and, on the other hand, establish as a most indisputable fact that without the strictest justice no government whatever can last long.

But, with your permission, we have had discussion enough for the day. The rest—and much remains for our consideration—we will defer till to-morrow. When they had all agreed to this, the debate of the day was closed.



Cicero here enters on the grand question of Political Justice, and endeavors to evince throughout the absolute verity of that inestimable proverb, “Honesty is the best policy,” in all public as well as in all private affairs. St. Augustine, in his City of God, has given the following analysis of this magnificent disquisition:

“In the third book of Cicero’s Commonwealth” (says he) “the question of Political Justice is most earnestly discussed. Philus is appointed to support, as well as he can, the sophistical arguments of those who think that political government cannot be carried on without the aid of injustice and chicanery. He denies holding any such opinion himself; yet, in order to exhibit the truth more vividly through the force of contrast, he pleads with the utmost ingenuity the cause of injustice against justice; and endeavors to show, by plausible examples and specious dialectics, that injustice is as useful to a statesman as justice would be injurious. Then Lælius, at the general request, takes up the plea for justice, and maintains with all his eloquence that nothing could be so ruinous to states as injustice and dishonesty, and that 425without a supreme justice, no political government could expect a long duration. This point being sufficiently proved, Scipio returns to the principal discussion. He reproduces and enforces the short definition that he had given of a commonwealth—that it consisted in the welfare of the entire people, by which word ‘people’ he does not mean the mob, but the community, bound together by the sense of common rights and mutual benefits. He notices how important such just definitions are in all debates whatever, and draws this conclusion from the preceding arguments—that the Commonwealth is the common welfare whenever it is swayed with justice and wisdom, whether it be subordinated to a king, an aristocracy, or a democracy. But if the king be unjust, and so becomes a tyrant; and the aristocracy unjust, which makes them a faction; or the democrats unjust, and so degenerate into revolutionists and destructives—then not only the Commonwealth is corrupted, but in fact annihilated. For it can be no longer the common welfare when a tyrant or a faction abuse it; and the people itself is no longer the people when it becomes unjust, since it is no longer a community associated by a sense of right and utility, according to the definition.”—Aug. Civ. Dei. 3-21.

This book is of the utmost importance to statesmen, as it serves to neutralize the sophistries of Machiavelli, which are still repeated in many cabinets.


I. * * *331 Cicero, in the third book of his treatise On a Commonwealth, says that nature has treated man less like a mother than a step-dame, for she has cast him into mortal life with a body naked, fragile, and infirm, and with a mind agitated by troubles, depressed by fears, broken by labors, and exposed to passions. In this mind, however, there lies hidden, and, as it were, buried, a certain divine spark of genius and intellect.

Though man is born a frail and powerless being, nevertheless he is safe from all animals destitute of voice; and at the same time those other animals of greater strength, although they bravely endure the violence of weather, cannot be safe from man. And the result is, that reason does more for man than nature does for brutes; since, in the latter, neither the greatness of their strength nor the firmness of their bodies can save them from being oppressed by us, and made subject to our power. * * *

426Plato returned thanks to nature that he had been born a man.

II. * * * aiding our slowness by carriages, and when it had taught men to utter the elementary and confused sounds of unpolished expression, articulated and distinguished them into their proper classes, and, as their appropriate signs, attached certain words to certain things, and thus associated, by the most delightful bond of speech, the once divided races of men.

And by a similar intelligence, the inflections of the voice, which appeared infinite, are, by the discovery of a few alphabetic characters, all designated and expressed; by which we maintain converse with our absent friends, by which also indications of our wishes and monuments of past events are preserved. Then came the use of numbers—a thing necessary to human life, and at the same time immutable and eternal; a science which first urged us to raise our views to heaven, and not gaze without an object on the motions of the stars, and the distribution of days and nights.

III. * * *332 [Then appeared the sages of philosophy], whose minds took a higher flight, and who were able to conceive and to execute designs worthy of the gifts of the Gods. Wherefore let those men who have left us sublime essays on the principles of living be regarded as great men—which indeed they are—as learned men, as masters of truth and virtue; provided that these principles of civil government, this system of governing people, whether it be a thing discovered by men who have lived amidst a variety of political events, or one discussed amidst their opportunities of literary tranquillity, is remembered to be, as indeed it is, a thing by no means to be despised, being one which causes in first-rate minds, as we not unfrequently see, an incredible and almost divine virtue. And when to these high faculties of soul, received from nature and expanded by social institutions, a politician adds learning and extensive information concerning things in general, like those illustrious personages who conduct the dialogue in the present treatise, none will refuse to confess the superiority of such persons to all others; for, in fact, what 427can be more admirable than the study and practice of the grand affairs of state, united to a literary taste and a familiarity with the liberal arts? or what can we imagine more perfect than a Scipio, a Lælius, or a Philus, who, not to omit anything which belonged to the most perfect excellence of the greatest men, joined to the examples of our ancestors and the traditions of our countrymen the foreign philosophy of Socrates?

Wherefore he who had both the desire and the power to acquaint himself thoroughly both with the customs and the learning of his ancestors appears to me to have attained to the very highest glory and honor. But if we cannot combine both, and are compelled to select one of these two paths to wisdom—though to some people the tranquil life spent in the research of literature and arts may appear to be the most happy and delectable—yet, doubtless, the science of politics is more laudable and illustrious, for in this political field of exertion our greatest men have reaped their honors, like the invincible Curius,

Whom neither gold nor iron could subdue.

IV. * * *333 that wisdom existed still. There existed this general difference between these two classes, that among the one the development of the principles of nature is the subject of their study and eloquence, and among the other national laws and institutions form the principal topics of investigation.

In honor of our country, we may assert that she has produced within herself a great number, I will not say of sages (since philosophy is so jealous of this name), but of men worthy of the highest celebrity, because by them the precepts and discoveries of the sages have been carried out into actual practice. And, moreover, though there have existed, and still do exist, many great and glorious empires, yet since the noblest masterpiece of genius in the world is the establishment of a state and commonwealth which shall be a lasting one, even if we reckon but a single legislator for each empire, the number of these excellent men will appear very numerous. To be convinced of this, we have only to turn our eyes on any nation of Italy, Latium, the 428Sabines, the Volscians, the Samnites, or the Etrurians, and then direct our attention to that mighty nation of the Greeks, and then to the Assyrians, Persians, and Carthaginians, and334 * * *

V. * * * [Scipio and his friends having again assembled, Scipio spoke as follows: In our last conversation, I promised to prove that honesty is the best policy in all states and commonwealths whatsoever. But if I am to plead in favor of strict honesty and justice in all public affairs, no less than in private, I must request Philus, or some one else, to take up the advocacy of the other side; the truth will then become more manifest, from the collision of opposite arguments, as we see every day exemplified at the Bar.]

And Philus replied: In good truth, you have allotted me a very creditable cause when you wish me to undertake the defence of vice.

Perhaps, said Lælius, you are afraid, lest, in reproducing the ordinary objections made to justice in politics, you should seem to express your own sentiments; though you are universally respected as an almost unique example of the ancient probity and good faith; nor is it unknown how familiar you are with the lawyer-like habit of disputing on both sides of a question, because you think that this is the best way of getting at the truth.

And Philus said: Very well; I obey you, and wilfully, with my eyes open, I will undertake this dirty business; because, since those who seek for gold do not flinch at the sight of the mud, so we who are searching for justice, which is far more precious than gold, are bound to shrink from no annoyance. And I wish, as I am about to make use of the antagonist arguments of a foreigner, I might also employ a foreign language. The pleas, therefore, now to be urged by Lucius Furius Philus are those [once employed by] the Greek Carneades, a man who was accustomed to express whatever [served his turn].335 * * *336429Let it be understood, therefore, that I by no means express my own sentiments, but those of Carneades, in order that you may refute this philosopher, who was wont to turn the best causes into joke, through the mere wantonness of wit.

VI. He was a philosopher of the Academic School; and if any one is ignorant of his great power, and eloquence, and acuteness in arguing, he may learn it from the mention made of him by Cicero or by Lucilius, when Neptune, discoursing on a very difficult subject, declares that it cannot be explained, not even if hell were to restore Carneades himself for the purpose. This philosopher, having been sent by the Athenians to Rome as an ambassador, discussed the subject of justice very amply in the hearing of Galba and Cato the Censor, who were the greatest orators of the day. And the next day he overturned all his arguments by others of a contrary tendency, and disparaged justice, which the day before he had extolled; speaking not indeed with the gravity of a philosopher whose wisdom ought to be steady, and whose opinions unchangeable, but in a kind of rhetorical exercise of arguing on each side—a practice which he was accustomed to adopt, in order to be able to refute others who were asserting anything. The arguments by which he disparaged justice are mentioned by Lucius Furius in Cicero; I suppose, since he was discussing the Commonwealth, in order to introduce a defence and panegyric of that quality without which he did not think a commonwealth could be administered. But Carneades, in order to refute Aristotle and Plato, the advocates of justice, collected in his first argument everything that was in the habit of being advanced on behalf of justice, in order afterward to be able to overturn it, as he did.

VII. Many philosophers indeed, and especially Plato and Aristotle, have spoken a great deal of justice, inculcating that virtue, and extolling it with the highest praise, as giving to every one what belongs to him, as preserving equity in all things, and urging that while the other virtues are, as it were, silent and shut up, justice is the only one which 430is not absorbed in considerations of self-interest, and which is not secret, but finds its whole field for exercise out-of-doors, and is desirous of doing good and serving as many people as possible; as if, forsooth, justice ought to exist in judges only, and in men invested with a certain authority, and not in every one! But there is no one, not even a man of the lowest class, or a beggar, who is destitute of opportunities of displaying justice. But because these philosophers knew not what its essence was, or whence it proceeded, or what its employment was, they attributed that first of all virtues, which is the common good of all men, to a few only, and asserted that it aimed at no advantage of its own, but was anxious only for that of others. So it was well that Carneades, a man of the greatest genius and acuteness, refuted their assertions, and overthrew that justice which had no firm foundation; not because he thought justice itself deserving of blame, but in order to show that those its defenders had brought forward no trustworthy or strong arguments in its behalf.

Justice looks out-of-doors, and is prominent and conspicuous in its whole essence.

Which virtue, beyond all others, wholly devotes and dedicates itself to the advantage of others.

VIII. * * * Both to discover and maintain. While the other, Aristotle, has filled four large volumes with a discussion on abstract justice. For I did not expect anything grand or magnificent from Chrysippus, who, after his usual fashion, examines everything rather by the signification of words than the reality of things. But it was surely worthy of those heroes of philosophy to ennoble by their genius a virtue so eminently beneficent and liberal, which everywhere exalts the social interests above the selfish, and teaches us to love others rather than ourselves. It was worthy of their genius, we say, to elevate this virtue to a divine throne, not far from that of Wisdom. And certainly they neither wanted the will to accomplish this (for what else could be the cause of their writing on the subject, or what could have been their design?) nor the genius, in which they excelled all men. But the weakness of their cause was too great for either their intention or their eloquence to make it popular. In fact, this justice on which we reason is a civil right, but no natural one; for if it were natural and universal, then justice and injustice would be recognized similarly by all men, just as the heat and cold, sweetness and bitterness.

IX. Now, if any one, carried in that chariot of winged serpents of which the poet Pacuvius makes mention, could 431take his flight over all nations and cities, and accurately observe their proceedings, he would see that the sense of justice and right varies in different regions. In the first place, he would behold among the unchangeable people of Egypt, which preserves in its archives the memory of so many ages and events, a bull adored as a Deity, under the name of Apis, and a multitude of other monsters, and all kinds of animals admitted by the same nation into the number of the Gods.

In the next place, he would see in Greece, as among ourselves, magnificent temples consecrated by images in human form, which the Persians regarded as impious; and it is affirmed that the sole motive of Xerxes for commanding the conflagration of the Athenian temples was the belief that it was a superstitious sacrilege to keep confined within narrow walls the Gods, whose proper home was the entire universe. But afterward Philip, in his hostile projects against the Persians, and Alexander, who carried them into execution, alleged this plea for war, that they were desirous to avenge the temples of Greece, which the Greeks had thought proper never to rebuild, that this monument of the impiety of the Persians might always remain before the eyes of their posterity.

How many—such as the inhabitants of Taurica along the Euxine Sea; as the King of Egypt, Busiris; as the Gauls and the Carthaginians—have thought it exceedingly pious and agreeable to the Gods to sacrifice men! And, besides, the customs of life are so various that the Cretans and Ætolians regard robbery as honorable. And the Lacedæmonians say that their territory extends to all places which they can touch with a lance. The Athenians had a custom of swearing, by a public proclamation, that all the lands which produced olives and corn were their own. The Gauls consider it a base employment to raise corn by agricultural labor, and go with arms in their hands, and mow down the harvests of neighboring peoples. But we ourselves, the most equitable of all nations, who, in order to raise the value of our vines and olives, do not permit the races beyond the Alps to cultivate either vineyards or oliveyards, are said in this matter to act with prudence, but not with justice. You see, then, that wisdom 432and policy are not always the same as equity. And Lycurgus, that famous inventor of a most admirable jurisprudence and most wholesome laws, gave the lands of the rich to be cultivated by the common people, who were reduced to slavery.

X. If I were to describe the diverse kinds of laws, institutions, manners, and customs, not only as they vary in the numerous nations, but as they vary likewise in single cities—in this one of ours, for example—I could prove that they have had a thousand revolutions. For instance, that eminent expositor of our laws who sits in the present company—I mean Manilius—if you were to consult him relative to the legacies and inheritances of women, he would tell you that the present law is quite different from that he was accustomed to plead in his youth, before the Voconian enactment came into force—an edict which was passed in favor of the interests of the men, but which is evidently full of injustice with regard to women. For why should a woman be disabled from inheriting property? Why can a vestal virgin become an heir, while her mother cannot? And why, admitting that it is necessary to set some limit to the wealth of women, should Crassus’s daughter, if she be his only child, inherit thousands without offending the law, while my daughter can only receive a small share in a bequest.337 * * *

XI. * * * [If this justice were natural, innate, and universal, all men would admit the same] law and right, and the same men would not enact different laws at different times. If a just man and a virtuous man is bound to obey the laws, I ask, what laws do you mean? Do you intend all the laws indifferently? But neither does virtue permit this inconstancy in moral obligation, nor is such a variation compatible with natural conscience. The laws are, therefore, based not on our sense of justice, but on our fear of punishment. There is, therefore, no natural justice; and hence it follows that men cannot be just by nature.

Are men, then, to say that variations indeed do exist in the laws, but that men who are virtuous through natural conscience follow that which is really justice, and not a mere semblance and disguise, and that it is the distinguishing 433characteristic of the truly just and virtuous man to render every one his due rights? Are we, then, to attribute the first of these characteristics to animals? For not only men of moderate abilities, but even first-rate sages and philosophers, as Pythagoras and Empedocles, declare that all kinds of living creatures have a right to the same justice. They declare that inexpiable penalties impend over those who have done violence to any animal whatsoever. It is, therefore, a crime to injure an animal, and the perpetrator of such crime338 * * *

XII. For when he339 inquired of a pirate by what right he dared to infest the sea with his little brigantine: “By the same right,” he replied, “which is your warrant for conquering the world.” * * *

Wisdom and prudence instruct us by all means to increase our power, riches, and estates. For by what means could this same Alexander, that illustrious general, who extended his empire over all Asia, without violating the property of other men, have acquired such universal dominion, enjoyed so many pleasures, such great power, and reigned without bound or limit?

But justice commands us to have mercy upon all men, to consult the interests of the whole human race, to give to every one his due, and injure no sacred, public, or foreign rights, and to forbear touching what does not belong to us. What is the result, then? If you obey the dictates of wisdom, then wealth, power, riches, honors, provinces, and kingdoms, from all classes, peoples, and nations, are to be aimed at.

However, as we are discussing public matters, those examples are more illustrious which refer to what is done publicly. And since the question between justice and policy applies equally to private and public affairs, I think it well to speak of the wisdom of the people. I will not, however, mention other nations, but come at once to our own Roman people, whom Africanus, in his discourse yesterday, traced from the cradle, and whose empire now embraces the whole world. Justice is340 * * *

434XIII. How far utility is at variance with justice we may learn from the Roman people itself, which, declaring war by means of the fecials, and committing injustice with all legal formality, always coveting and laying violent hands on the property of others, acquired the possession of the whole world.

What is the advantage of one’s own country but the disadvantage of another state or nation, by extending one’s dominions by territories evidently wrested from others, increasing one’s power, improving one’s revenues, etc.? Therefore, whoever has obtained these advantages for his country—that is to say, whoever has overthrown cities, subdued nations, and by these means filled the treasury with money, taken lands, and enriched his fellow-citizens—such a man is extolled to the skies; is believed to be endowed with consummate and perfect virtue; and this mistake is fallen into not only by the populace and the ignorant, but by philosophers, who even give rules for injustice.

XIV. * * * For all those who have the right of life and death over the people are in fact tyrants; but they prefer being called by the title of king, which belongs to the all-good Jupiter. But when certain men, by favor of wealth, birth, or any other means, get possession of the entire government, it is a faction; but they choose to denominate themselves an aristocracy. If the people gets the upper hand, and rules everything after its capricious will, they call it liberty, but it is in fact license. And when every man is a guard upon his neighbor, and every class is a guard upon every other class, then because no one trusts in his own strength, a kind of compact is formed between the great and the little, from whence arises that mixed kind of government which Scipio has been commending. Thus justice, according to these facts, is not the daughter of nature or conscience, but of human imbecility. For when it becomes necessary to choose between these three predicaments, either to do wrong without retribution, or to do wrong with retribution, or to do no wrong at all, it is best to do wrong with impunity; next, neither to do wrong nor to suffer for it; but nothing is more wretched than to struggle incessantly between the wrong we inflict and that we receive. Therefore, he who attains to that first end341 * * *

XV. This was the sum of the argument of Carneades: that men had established laws among themselves from considerations of advantage, 435varying them according to their different customs, and altering them often so as to adapt them to the times; but that there was no such thing as natural law; that all men and all other animals are led to their own advantage by the guidance of nature; that there is no such thing as justice, or, if there be, that it is extreme folly, since a man would injure himself while consulting the interests of others. And he added these arguments, that all nations who were flourishing and dominant, and even the Romans themselves, who were the masters of the whole world, if they wished to be just—that is to say, if they restored all that belonged to others—would have to return to their cottages, and to lie down in want and misery.

Except, perhaps, of the Arcadians and Athenians, who, I presume, dreading that this great act of retribution might one day arrive, pretend that they were sprung from the earth, like so many field-mice.

XVI. In reply to these statements, the following arguments are often adduced by those who are not unskilful in discussions, and who, in this question, have all the greater weight of authority, because, when we inquire, Who is a good man?—understanding by that term a frank and single-minded man—we have little need of captious casuists, quibblers, and slanderers. For those men assert that the wise man does not seek virtue because of the personal gratification which the practice of justice and beneficence procures him, but rather because the life of the good man is free from fear, care, solicitude, and peril; while, on the other hand, the wicked always feel in their souls a certain suspicion, and always behold before their eyes images of judgment and punishment. Do not you think, therefore, that there is any benefit, or that there is any advantage which can be procured by injustice, precious enough to counterbalance the constant pressure of remorse, and the haunting consciousness that retribution awaits the sinner, and hangs over his devoted head.342 * * *

XVII. [Our philosophers, therefore, put a case. Suppose, say they, two men, one of whom is an excellent and admirable person, of high honor and remarkable integrity; the latter is distinguished by nothing but his vice and audacity. And suppose that their city has so mistaken their characters as to imagine the good man to be a scandalous, impious, and audacious criminal, and to esteem the wicked 436man, on the contrary, as a pattern of probity and fidelity. On account of this error of their fellow-citizens, the good man is arrested and tormented, his hands are cut off, his eyes are plucked out, he is condemned, bound, burned, exterminated, reduced to want, and to the last appears to all men to be most deservedly the most miserable of men. On the other hand, the flagitious wretch is exalted, worshipped, loved by all, and honors, offices, riches, and emoluments are all conferred on him, and he shall be reckoned by his fellow-citizens the best and worthiest of mortals, and in the highest degree deserving of all manner of prosperity. Yet, for all this, who is so mad as to doubt which of these two men he would rather be?

XVIII. What happens among individuals happens also among nations. There is no state so absurd and ridiculous as not to prefer unjust dominion to just subordination. I need not go far for examples. During my own consulship, when you were my fellow-counsellors, we consulted respecting the treaty of Numantia. No one was ignorant that Quintus Pompey had signed a treaty, and that Mancinus had done the same. The latter, being a virtuous man, supported the proposition which I laid before the people, after the decree of the senate. The former, on the other side, opposed it vehemently. If modesty, probity, or faith had been regarded, Mancinus would have carried his point; but in reason, counsel, and prudence, Pompey surpassed him. Whether343 * * *

XIX. If a man should have a faithless slave, or an unwholesome house, with whose defect he alone was acquainted, and he advertised them for sale, would he state the fact that his servant was infected with knavery, and his house with malaria, or would he conceal these objections from the buyer? If he stated those facts, he would be honest, no doubt, because he would deceive nobody; but still he would be thought a fool, because he would either get very little for his property, or else fail to sell it at all. By concealing these defects, on the other hand, he will be called a shrewd man—as one who has taken care of his own interest; but he will be a rogue, notwithstanding, because he will be deceiving his neighbors. Again, 437let us suppose that one man meets another, who sells gold and silver, conceiving them to be copper or lead; shall he hold his peace that he may make a capital bargain, or correct the mistake, and purchase at a fair rate? He would evidently be a fool in the world’s opinion if he preferred the latter.

XX. It is justice, beyond all question, neither to commit murder nor robbery. What, then, would your just man do, if, in a case of shipwreck, he saw a weaker man than himself get possession of a plank? Would he not thrust him off, get hold of the timber himself, and escape by his exertions, especially as no human witness could be present in the mid-sea? If he acted like a wise man of the world, he would certainly do so, for to act in any other way would cost him his life. If, on the other hand, he prefers death to inflicting unjustifiable injury on his neighbor, he will be an eminently honorable and just man, but not the less a fool, because he saved another’s life at the expense of his own. Again, if in case of a defeat and rout, when the enemy were pressing in the rear, this just man should find a wounded comrade mounted on a horse, shall he respect his right at the risk of being killed himself, or shall he fling him from the horse in order to preserve his own life from the pursuers? If he does so, he is a wise man, but at the same time a wicked one; if he does not, he is admirably just, but at the same time stupid.

XXI. Scipio. I might reply at great length to these sophistical objections of Philus, if it were not, my Lælius, that all our friends are no less anxious than myself to hear you take a leading part in the present debate, especially as you promised yesterday that you would plead at large on my side of the argument. If you cannot spare time for this, at any rate do not desert us; we all ask it of you.

Lælius. This Carneades ought not to be even listened to by our young men. I think all the while that I am hearing him that he must be a very impure person; if he be not, as I would fain believe, his discourse is not less pernicious.

XXII.344 True law is right reason conformable to nature, 438universal, unchangeable, eternal, whose commands urge us to duty, and whose prohibitions restrain us from evil. Whether it enjoins or forbids, the good respect its injunctions, and the wicked treat them with indifference. This law cannot be contradicted by any other law, and is not liable either to derogation or abrogation. Neither the senate nor the people can give us any dispensation for not obeying this universal law of justice. It needs no other expositor and interpreter than our own conscience. It is not one thing at Rome, and another at Athens; one thing to-day, and another to-morrow; but in all times and nations this universal law must forever reign, eternal and imperishable. It is the sovereign master and emperor of all beings. God himself is its author, its promulgator, its enforcer. And he who does not obey it flies from himself, and does violence to the very nature of man. And by so doing he will endure the severest penalties even if he avoid the other evils which are usually accounted punishments.

XXIII. I am aware that in the third book of Cicero’s treatise on the Commonwealth (unless I am mistaken) it is argued that no war is ever undertaken by a well-regulated commonwealth unless it be one either for the sake of keeping faith, or for safety; and what he means by a war for safety, and what safety he wishes us to understand, he points out in another passage, where he says, “But private men often escape from these penalties, which even the most stupid persons feel—want, exile, imprisonment, and stripes—by embracing the opportunity of a speedy death; but to states death itself is a penalty, though it appears to deliver individuals from punishment. For a state ought to be established so as to be eternal: therefore, there is no natural decease for a state, as there is for a man, in whose case death is not only inevitable, but often even desirable; but when a state is put an end to, it is destroyed, extinguished. It is in some degree, to compare small things with great, as if this whole world were to perish and fall to pieces.”

In his treatise on the Commonwealth, Cicero says those wars are unjust which are undertaken without reason. Again, after a few sentences, he adds, No war is considered just unless it be formally announced and declared, and unless it be to obtain restitution of what has been taken away.

But our nation, by defending its allies, has now become the master of all the whole world.

XXIV. Also, in that same treatise on the Commonwealth, he argues most strenuously and vigorously in the cause of justice against injustice. And since, when a little time before the part of injustice was upheld against justice, and the doctrine was urged that a republic could not 439prosper and flourish except by injustice, this was put forward as the strongest argument, that it was unjust for men to serve other men as their masters; but that unless a dominant state, such as a great republic, acted on this injustice, it could not govern its provinces; answer was made on behalf of justice, that it was just that it should be so, because slavery is advantageous to such men, and their interests are consulted by a right course of conduct—that is, by the license of doing injury being taken from the wicked—and they will fare better when subjugated, because when not subjugated they fared worse: and to confirm this reasoning, a noble instance, taken, as it were, from nature, was added, and it was said, Why, then, does God govern man, and why does the mind govern the body, and reason govern lust, and the other vicious parts of the mind?

XXV. Hear what Tully says more plainly still in the third book of his treatise on the Commonwealth, when discussing the reasons for government. Do we not, says he, see that nature herself has given the power of dominion to everything that is best, to the extreme advantage of what is subjected to it? Why, then, does God govern man, and why does the mind govern the body, and reason govern lust and passion and the other vicious parts of the same mind? Listen thus far; for presently he adds, But still there are dissimilarities to be recognized in governing and in obeying. For as the mind is said to govern the body, and also to govern lust, still it governs the body as a king governs his subjects, or a parent his children; but it governs lust as a master governs his slaves, because it restrains and breaks it. The authority of kings, of generals, of magistrates, of fathers, and of nations, rules their subjects and allies as the mind rules bodies; but masters control their slaves, as the best part of the mind—that is to say, wisdom—controls the vicious and weak parts of itself, such as lust, passion, and the other perturbations.

For there is a kind of unjust slavery when those belong to some one else who might be their own masters; but when those are slaves who cannot govern themselves, there is no injury done.

XXVI. If, says Carneades, you were to know that an asp was lying hidden anywhere, and that some one who did not know it was going to sit upon it, whose death would be a gain to you, you would act wickedly if you did not warn him not to sit down. Still, you would not be liable to punishment; for who could prove that you had known? But we are bringing forward too many instances; for it is plain that unless equity, good faith, and justice proceed from nature, and if all these things are referred to interest, a good man cannot be found. And on these topics a great deal is said by Lælius in our treatise on the Republic.

If, as we are reminded by you, we have spoken well in that treatise, when we said that nothing is good excepting what is honorable, and nothing bad excepting what is disgraceful. * * *

XXVII. I am glad that you approve of the doctrine that the affection borne to our children is implanted by nature; indeed, if it be not, there can be no conection between man and man which has its origin in nature. And if there be not, then there is an end of all society in life. May it turn out well, says Carneades, speaking shamelessly, but still 440more sensibly than my friend Lucius or Patro: for, as they refer everything to themselves, do they think that anything is ever done for the sake of another? And when they say that a man ought to be good, in order to avoid misfortune, not because it is right by nature, they do not perceive that they are speaking of a cunning man, not of a good one. But these arguments are argued, I think, in those books by praising which you have given me spirits.

In which I agree that an anxious and hazardous justice is not that of a wise man.

XXVIII. And again, in Cicero, that same advocate of justice, Lælius, says, Virtue is clearly eager for honor, nor has she any other reward; which, however, she accepts easily, and exacts without bitterness. And in another place the same Lælius says:

When a man is inspired by virtue such as this, what bribes can you offer him, what treasures, what thrones, what empires? He considers these but mortal goods, and esteems his own divine. And if the ingratitude of the people, and the envy of his competitors, or the violence of powerful enemies, despoil his virtue of its earthly recompense, he still enjoys a thousand consolations in the approbation of conscience, and sustains himself by contemplating the beauty of moral rectitude.

XXIX. * * * This virtue, in order to be true, must be universal. Tiberius Gracchus continued faithful to his fellow-citizens, but he violated the rights and treaties guaranteed to our allies and the Latin peoples. But if this habit of arbitrary violence begins to extend itself further, and perverts our authority, leading it from right to violence, so that those who had voluntarily obeyed us are only restrained by fear, then, although we, during our days, may escape the peril, yet am I solicitous respecting the safety of our posterity and the immortality of the Commonwealth itself, which, doubtless, might become perpetual and invincible if our people would maintain their ancient institutions and manners.

XXX. When Lælius had ceased to speak, all those that were present expressed the extreme pleasure they found in his discourse. But Scipio, more affected than the rest, and ravished with the delight of sympathy, exclaimed: You have pleaded, my Lælius, many causes with an eloquence superior to that of Servius Galba, our colleague, whom you used during his life to prefer to all others, even to the Attic orators [and never did I hear you speak with 441more energy than to-day, while pleading the cause of justice]345 * * *

* * * That two things were wanting to enable him to speak in public and in the forum, confidence and voice.

XXXI. * * * This justice, continued Scipio, is the very foundation of lawful government in political constitutions. Can we call the State of Agrigentum a commonwealth, where all men are oppressed by the cruelty of a single tyrant—where there is no universal bond of right, nor social consent and fellowship, which should belong to every people, properly so named? It is the same in Syracuse—that illustrious city which Timæus calls the greatest of the Grecian towns. It was indeed a most beautiful city; and its admirable citadel, its canals distributed through all its districts, its broad streets, its porticoes, its temples, and its walls, gave Syracuse the appearance of a most flourishing state. But while Dionysius its tyrant reigned there, nothing of all its wealth belonged to the people, and the people were nothing better than the slaves of one master. Thus, wherever I behold a tyrant, I know that the social constitution must be not merely vicious and corrupt, as I stated yesterday, but in strict truth no social constitution at all.

XXXII. Lælius. You have spoken admirably, my Scipio, and I see the point of your observations.

Scipio. You grant, then, that a state which is entirely in the power of a faction cannot justly be entitled a political community?

Lælius. That is evident.

Scipio. You judge most correctly. For what was the State of Athens when, during the great Peloponnesian war, she fell under the unjust domination of the thirty tyrants? The antique glory of that city, the imposing aspect of its edifices, its theatre, its gymnasium, its porticoes, its temples, its citadel, the admirable sculptures of Phidias, and the magnificent harbor of Piræus—did they constitute it a commonwealth?

Lælius. Certainly not, because these did not constitute the real welfare of the community.

442Scipio. And at Rome, when the decemvirs ruled without appeal from their decisions, in the third year of their power, had not liberty lost all its securities and all its blessings?

Lælius. Yes; the welfare of the community was no longer consulted, and the people soon roused themselves, and recovered their appropriate rights.

XXXIII. Scipio. I now come to the third, or democratical, form of government, in which a considerable difficulty presents itself, because all things are there said to lie at the disposition of the people, and are carried into execution just as they please. Here the populace inflict punishments at their pleasure, and act, and seize, and keep possession, and distribute property, without let or hinderance. Can you deny, my Lælius, that this is a fair definition of a democracy, where the people are all in all, and where the people constitute the State?

Lælius. There is no political constitution to which I more absolutely deny the name of a commonwealth than that in which all things lie in the power of the multitude. If a commonwealth, which implies the welfare of the entire community, could not exist in Agrigentum, Syracuse, or Athens when tyrants reigned over them—if it could not exist in Rome when under the oligarchy of the decemvirs—neither do I see how this sacred name of commonwealth can be applied to a democracy and the sway of the mob; because, in the first place, my Scipio, I build on your own admirable definition, that there can be no community, properly so called, unless it be regulated by a combination of rights. And, by this definition, it appears that a multitude of men may be just as tyrannical as a single despot; and it is so much the worse, since no monster can be more barbarous than the mob, which assumes the name and appearance of the people. Nor is it at all reasonable, since the laws place the property of madmen in the hands of their sane relations, that we should do the [very reverse in politics, and throw the property of the sane into the hands of the mad multitude]346 * * *

XXXIV. * * * [It is far more rational] to assert that a wise and virtuous aristocratical government deserves 443the title of a commonwealth, as it approaches to the nature of a kingdom.

And much more so in my opinion, said Mummius. For the unity of power often exposes a king to become a despot; but when an aristocracy, consisting of many virtuous men, exercise power, that is the most fortunate circumstance possible for any state. However this be, I much prefer royalty to democracy; for that is the third kind of government which you have remaining, and a most vicious one it is.

XXXV. Scipio replied: I am well acquainted, my Mummius, with your decided antipathy to the democratical system. And, although, we may speak of it with rather more indulgence than you are accustomed to accord it, I must certainly agree with you, that of all the three particular forms of government, none is less commendable than democracy.

I do not agree with you, however, when you would imply that aristocracy is preferable to royalty. If you suppose that wisdom governs the State, is it not as well that this wisdom should reside in one monarch as in many nobles?

But we are led away by a certain incorrectness of terms in a discussion like the present. When we pronounce the word “aristocracy,” which, in Greek, signifies the government of the best men, what can be conceived more excellent? For what can be thought better than the best? But when, on the other hand, the title “king” is mentioned, we begin to imagine a tyrant; as if a king must be necessarily unjust. But we are not speaking of an unjust king when we are examining the true nature of royal authority. To this name of king, therefore, do but attach the idea of a Romulus, a Numa, a Tullus, and perhaps you will be less severe to the monarchical form of constitution.

Mummius. Have you, then, no commendation at all for any kind of democratical government?

Scipio. Why, I think some democratical forms less objectionable than others; and, by way of illustration, I will ask you what you thought of the government in the isle of Rhodes, where we were lately together; did it appear to you a legitimate and rational constitution?

444Mummius. It did, and not much liable to abuse.

Scipio. You say truly. But, if you recollect, it was a very extraordinary experiment. All the inhabitants were alternately senators and citizens. Some months they spent in their senatorial functions, and some months they spent in their civil employments. In both they exercised judicial powers; and in the theatre and the court, the same men judged all causes, capital and not capital. And they had as much influence, and were of as much importance as * * *


XXXVI. There is therefore some unquiet feeling in individuals, which either exults in pleasure or is crushed by annoyance.

[The next is an incomplete sentence, and, as such, unintelligible.]

The Phœnicians were the first who by their commerce, and by the merchandise which they carried, brought avarice and magnificence and insatiable degrees of everything into Greece.

Sardanapalus, the luxurious king of Assyria, of whom Tully, in the third book of his treatise on the Republic, says, “The notorious Sardanapalus, far more deformed by his vices than even by his name.”

What is the meaning, then, of this absurd acceptation, unless some one wishes to make the whole of Athos a monument? For what is Athos or the vast Olympus? * * *

XXXVII. I will endeavor in the proper place to show it, according to the definitions of Cicero himself, in which, putting forth Scipio as the speaker, he has briefly explained what a commonwealth and what a republic is; adducing also many assertions of his own, and of those whom he has represented as taking part in that discussion, to the effect that the State of Rome was not such a commonwealth, because there has never been genuine justice in it. However, according to definitions which are more reasonable, it was a commonwealth in some degree, and it was better regulated by the more ancient than by the later Romans.

It is now fitting that I should explain, as briefly and as clearly as I can, what, in the second book of this work, I promised to prove, according to the definitions which Cicero, in his books on the Commonwealth, puts into the mouth of Scipio, arguing that the Roman State was never a commonwealth; for he briefly defines a commonwealth as a state of the people; the people as an assembly of the multitude, united by a common feeling of right, and a community of interests. What he calls a common feeling of right he explains by discussion, showing in this way that a commonwealth cannot proceed without justice. Where, therefore, there is no genuine justice, there can be no right, for that which is done according to right is done justly; and what is done unjustly cannot 445be done according to right, for the unjust regulations of men are not to be called or thought rights; since they themselves call that right (jus) which flows from the source of justice: and they say that that assertion which is often made by some persons of erroneous sentiments, namely, that that is right which is advantageous to the most powerful, is false. Wherefore, where there is no true justice there can be no company of men united by a common feeling of right; therefore there can be no people (populus), according to that definition of Scipio or Cicero: and if there be no people, there can be no state of the people, but only of a mob such as it may be, which is not worthy of the name of a people. And thus, if a commonwealth is a state of a people, and if that is not a people which is not united by a common feeling of right, and if there is no right where there is no justice, then the undoubted inference is, that where there is no justice there is no commonwealth. Moreover, justice is that virtue which gives every one his own.

No war can be undertaken by a just and wise state unless for faith or self-defence. This self-defence of the State is enough to insure its perpetuity, and this perpetuity is what all patriots desire. Those afflictions which even the hardiest spirits smart under—poverty, exile, prison, and torment—private individuals seek to escape from by an instantaneous death. But for states, the greatest calamity of all is that of death, which to individuals appears a refuge. A state should be so constituted as to live forever. For a commonwealth there is no natural dissolution as there is for a man, to whom death not only becomes necessary, but often desirable. And when a state once decays and falls, it is so utterly revolutionized, that, if we may compare great things with small, it resembles the final wreck of the universe.

All wars undertaken without a proper motive are unjust. And no war can be reputed just unless it be duly announced and proclaimed, and if it be not preceded by a rational demand for restitution.

Our Roman Commonwealth, by defending its allies, has got possession of the world.



In this fourth book Cicero treats of morals and education, and the use and abuse of stage entertainments. We retain nothing of this important book save a few scattered fragments, the beauty of which fills us with the greater regret for the passages we have lost.



I. * * * Since mention has been made of the body and of the mind, I will endeavor to explain the theory of each as well as the weakness of my understanding is able to comprehend it—a duty which I think it the more becoming in me to undertake, because Marcus Tullius, a man of singular genius, after having attempted to perform it in the fourth book of his treatise on the Commonwealth, compressed a subject of wide extent within narrow limits, only touching lightly on all the principal points. And that there might be no excuse alleged for his not having followed out this topic, he himself has assured us that he was not wanting either in inclination or in anxiety to do so; for, in the first book of his treatise on Laws, when he was touching briefly on the same subject, he speaks thus: “This topic Scipio, in my opinion, has sufficiently discussed in those books which you have read.”

And the mind itself, which sees the future, remembers the past.

Well did Marcus Tullius say, In truth, if there is no one who would not prefer death to being changed into the form of some beast, although he were still to retain the mind of a man, how much more wretched is it to have the mind of a beast in the form of a man! To me this fate appears as much worse than the other as the mind is superior to the body.

Tullius says somewhere that he does not think the good of a ram and of Publius Africanus identical.

And also by its being interposed, it causes shade and night, which is adapted both to the numbering of days and to rest from labor.

And as in the autumn he has opened the earth to receive seeds, in winter relaxed it that it may digest them, and by the ripening powers of summer softened some and burned up others.

When the shepherds use * * * for cattle.

Cicero, in the fourth book of his Commonwealth, uses the word “armentum,” and “armentarius,” derived from it.

447II. The great law of just and regular subordination is the basis of political prosperity. There is much advantage in the harmonious succession of ranks and orders and classes, in which the suffrages of the knights and the senators have their due weight. Too many have foolishly desired to destroy this institution, in the vain hope of receiving some new largess, by a public decree, out of a distribution of the property of the nobility.

III. Consider, now, how wisely the other provisions have been adopted, in order to secure to the citizens the benefits of an honest and happy life; for that is, indeed, the grand object of all political association, and that which every government should endeavor to procure for the people, partly by its institutions, and partly by its laws.

Consider, in the first place, the national education of the people—a matter on which the Greeks have expended much labor in vain, and which is the only point on which Polybius, who settled among us, accuses the negligence of our institutions. For our countrymen have thought that education ought not to be fixed, nor regulated by laws, nor be given publicly and uniformly to all classes of society. For347 * * *

According to Tully, who says that men going to serve in the army have guardians assigned to them, by whom they are governed the first year.

IV. [In our ancient laws, young men were prohibited from appearing] naked in the public baths, so far back were the principles of modesty traced by our ancestors. Among the Greeks, on the contrary, what an absurd system of training youth is exhibited in their gymnasia! What a frivolous preparation for the labors and hazards of war! what indecent spectacles, what impure and licentious amours are permitted! I do not speak only of the Eleans and Thebans, among whom, in all love affairs, passion is allowed to run into shameless excesses; but the Spartans, while they permit every kind of license to their young men, save that of violation, fence off, by a very slight wall, the very exception on which they insist, besides other crimes which I will not mention.

448Then Lælius said: I see, my Scipio, that on the subject of the Greek institutions, which you censure, you prefer attacking the customs of the most renowned peoples to contending with your favorite Plato, whose name you have avoided citing, especially as * * *

V. So that Cicero, in his treatise on the Commonwealth, says that it was a reproach to young men if they had no lovers.

Not only as at Sparta, where boys learn to steal and plunder.

And our master Plato, even more than Lycurgus, who would have everything to be common, so that no one should be able to call anything his own property.

I would send him to the same place whither he sends Homer, crowned with chaplets and anointed with perfumes, banishing him from the city which he is describing.

VI. The judgment of the censor inflicts scarcely anything more than a blush on the man whom he condemns. Therefore as all that adjudication turns solely on the name (nomen), the punishment is called ignominy.

Nor should a prefect be set over women, an officer who is created among the Greeks; but there should be a censor to teach husbands to manage their wives.

So the discipline of modesty has great power. All women abstain from wine.

And also if any woman was of bad character, her relations used not to kiss her.

So petulance is derived from asking (petendo); wantonness (procacitas) from procando, that is, from demanding.

VII. For I do not approve of the same nation being the ruler and the farmer of lands. But both in private families and in the affairs of the Commonwealth I look upon economy as a revenue.

Faith (fides) appears to me to derive its name from that being done (fit) which is said.

In a citizen of rank and noble birth, caressing manners, display, and ambition are marks of levity.

Examine for a while the books on the Republic, and learn that good men know no bound or limit in consulting the interests of their country. See in that treatise with what praises frugality, and continency, and fidelity to the marriage tie, and chaste, honorable, and virtuous manners are extolled.

VIII. I marvel at the elegant choice, not only of the facts, but of the language. If they dispute (jurgant). It is a contest between well-wishers, not a quarrel between enemies, that is called a dispute (jurgium),

Therefore the law considers that neighbors dispute (jurgare) rather than quarrel (litigare) with one another.

The bounds of man’s care and of man’s life are the same; so by the pontifical law the sanctity of burial * * *

They put them to death, though innocent, because they had left those men unburied whom they could not rescue from the sea because of the violence of the storm.

449Nor in this discussion have I advocated the cause of the populace, but of the good.

For one cannot easily resist a powerful people if one gives them either no rights at all or very little.

In which case I wish I could augur first with truth and fidelity * * *

IX. Cicero saying this in vain, when speaking of poets, “And when the shouts and approval of the people, as of some great and wise teacher, has reached them, what darkness do they bring on! what alarms do they cause! what desires do they excite!”

Cicero says that if his life were extended to twice its length, he should not have time to read the lyric poets.

X. As Scipio says in Cicero, “As they thought the whole histrionic art, and everything connected with the theatre, discreditable, they thought fit that all men of that description should not only be deprived of the honors belonging to the rest of the citizens, but should also be deprived of their franchise by the sentence of the censors.”

And what the ancient Romans thought on this subject Cicero informs us, in those books which he wrote on the Commonwealth, where Scipio argues and says * * *

Comedies could never (if it had not been authorized by the common customs of life) have made theatres approve of their scandalous exhibitions. And the more ancient Greeks provided a certain correction for the vicious taste of the people, by making a law that it should be expressly defined by a censorship what subjects comedy should treat, and how she should treat them.

Whom has it not attacked? or, rather, whom has it not wounded? and whom has it spared? In this, no doubt, it sometimes took the right side, and lashed the popular demagogues and seditious agitators, such as Cleon, Cleophon, and Hyperbolus. We may tolerate that; though indeed the censure of the magistrate would, in these cases, have been more efficacious than the satire of the poet. But when Pericles, who governed the Athenian Commonwealth for so many years with the highest authority, both in peace and war, was outraged by verses, and these were acted on the stage, it was hardly more decent than if, among us, Plautus and Nævius had attacked Publius and Cnæus, or Cæcilius had ventured to revile Marcus Cato.

Our laws of the Twelve Tables, on the contrary—so careful to attach capital punishment to a very few crimes only—have included in this class of capital offences the offence of composing or publicly reciting verses of libel, slander, and defamation, in order to cast dishonor and infamy 450on a fellow-citizen. And they have decided wisely; for our life and character should, if suspected, be submitted to the sentence of judicial tribunals and the legal investigations of our magistrates, and not to the whims and fancies of poets. Nor should we be exposed to any charge of disgrace which we cannot meet by legal process, and openly refute at the bar.

In our laws, I admire the justice of their expressions, as well as their decisions. Thus the word pleading signifies rather an amicable suit between friends than a quarrel between enemies.

It is not easy to resist a powerful people, if you allow them no rights, or next to none.

The old Romans would not allow any living man to be either praised or blamed on the stage.

XI. Cicero says that comedy is an imitation of life; a mirror of customs, an image of truth.

Since, as is mentioned in that book on the Commonwealth, not only did Æschines the Athenian, a man of the greatest eloquence, who, when a young man, had been an actor of tragedies, concern himself in public affairs, but the Athenians often sent Aristodemus, who was also a tragic actor, to Philip as an ambassador, to treat of the most important affairs of peace and war.



In this fifth book Cicero explains and enforces the duties of magistrates, and the importance of practical experience to all who undertake their important functions. Only a few fragments have survived the wreck of ages and descended to us.



I. Ennius has told us—

Of men and customs mighty Rome consists;

which verse, both for its precision and its verity, appears to me as if it had issued from an oracle; for neither the 451men, unless the State had adopted a certain system of manners—nor the manners, unless they had been illustrated by the men—could ever have established or maintained for so many ages so vast a republic, or one of such righteous and extensive sway.

Thus, long before our own times, the force of hereditary manners of itself moulded most eminent men; and admirable citizens, in return, gave new weight to the ancient customs and institutions of our ancestors. But our age, on the contrary, having received the Commonwealth as a finished picture of another century, but one already beginning to fade through the lapse of years, has not only neglected to renew the colors of the original painting, but has not even cared to preserve its general form and prominent lineaments.

For what now remains of those antique manners, of which the poet said that our Commonwealth consisted? They have now become so obsolete and forgotten that they are not only not cultivated, but they are not even known. And as to the men, what shall I say? For the manners themselves have only perished through a scarcity of men; of which great misfortune we are not only called to give an account, but even, as men accused of capital offences, to a certain degree to plead our own cause in connection with it. For it is owing to our vices, rather than to any accident, that we have retained the name of republic when we have long since lost the reality.

II. * * * There is no employment so essentially royal as the exposition of equity, which comprises the true interpretation of all laws. This justice subjects used generally to expect from their kings. For this reason, lands, fields, woods, and pastures were reserved as the property of kings, and cultivated for them, without any labor on their part, in order that no anxiety on account of their personal interests might distract their attention from the welfare of the State. Nor was any private man allowed to be the judge or arbitrator in any suit; but all disputes were terminated by the royal sentence.

And of all our Roman monarchs, Numa appears to me to have best preserved this ancient custom of the kings of Greece. For the others, though they also discharged this 452duty, were for the main part employed in conducting military enterprises, and in attending to those rights which belonged to war. But the long peace of Numa’s reign was the mother of law and religion in this city. And he was himself the author of those admirable laws which, as you are aware, are still extant. And this character is precisely what belongs to the man of whom we are speaking. * * *

III. [Scipio. Ought not a farmer] to be acquainted with the nature of plants and seeds?

Manilius. Certainly, provided he attends to his practical business also.

Scipio. Do you think that knowledge only fit for a steward?

Manilius. Certainly not, inasmuch as the cultivation of land often fails for want of agricultural labor.

Scipio. Therefore, as the steward knows the nature of a field, and the scribe knows penmanship, and as both of them seek, in their respective sciences, not mere amusement only, but practical utility, so this statesman of ours should have studied the science of jurisprudence and legislation; he should have investigated their original sources; but he should not embarrass himself in debating and arguing, reading and scribbling. He should rather employ himself in the actual administration of government, and become a sort of steward of it, being perfectly conversant with the principles of universal law and equity, without which no man can be just: not unfamiliar with the civil laws of states; but he will use them for practical purposes, even as a pilot uses astronomy, and a physician natural philosophy. For both these men bring their theoretical science to bear on the practice of their arts; and our statesman [should do the same with the science of politics, and make it subservient to the actual interests of philanthropy and patriotism]. * * *

IV. * * * In states in which good men desire glory and approbation, and shun disgrace and ignominy. Nor are such men so much alarmed by the threats and penalties of the law as by that sentiment of shame with which nature has endowed man, which is nothing else than a certain fear of deserved censure. The wise director of a government 453strengthens this natural instinct by the force of public opinion, and perfects it by education and manners. And thus the citizens are preserved from vice and corruption rather by honor and shame than by fear of punishment. But this argument will be better illustrated when we treat of the love of glory and praise, which we shall discuss on another occasion.

V. As respects the private life and the manners of the citizens, they are intimately connected with the laws that constitute just marriages and legitimate offspring, under the protection of the guardian deities around the domestic hearths. By these laws, all men should be maintained in their rights of public and private property. It is only under a good government like this that men can live happily—for nothing can be more delightful than a well-constituted state.

On which account it appears to me a very strange thing what this * * *

VI. I therefore consume all my time in considering what is the power of that man, whom, as you think, we have described carefully enough in our books. Do you, then, admit our idea of that governor of a commonwealth to whom we wish to refer everything? For thus, I imagine, does Scipio speak in the fifth book: “For as a fair voyage is the object of the master of a ship, the health of his patient the aim of a physician, and victory that of a general, so the happiness of his fellow-citizens is the proper study of the ruler of a commonwealth; that they may be stable in power, rich in resources, widely known in reputation, and honorable through their virtue. For a ruler ought to be one who can perfect this, which is the best and most important employment among mankind.”

And works in your literature rightly praise that ruler of a country who consults the welfare of his people more than their inclinations.

VII. Tully, in those books which he wrote upon the Commonwealth, could not conceal his opinions, when he speaks of appointing a chief of the State, who, he says, must be maintained by glory; and afterward he relates that his ancestors did many admirable and noble actions from a desire of glory.

Tully, in his treatise on the Commonwealth, wrote that the chief of a state must be maintained by glory, and that a commonwealth would last as long as honor was paid by every one to the chief.

[The next paragraph is unintelligible.]

Which virtue is called fortitude, which consists of magnanimity, and a great contempt of death and pain.

VIII. As Marcellus was fierce, and eager to fight, Maximus prudent and cautious.

454Who discovered his violence and unbridled ferocity.

Which has often happened not only to individuals, but also to most powerful nations.

In the whole world.

Because he inflicted the annoyances of his old age on your families.

IX. Cicero, in his treatise on the Commonwealth, says, “As Menelaus of Lacedæmon had a certain agreeable sweetness of eloquence.” And in another place he says, “Let him cultivate brevity in speaking.”

By the evidence of which arts, as Tully says, it is a shame for the conscience of the judge to be misled. For he says, “And as nothing in a commonwealth ought to be so uncorrupt as a suffrage and a sentence, I do not see why the man who perverts them by money is worthy of punishment, while he who does so by eloquence is even praised. Indeed, I myself think that he who corrupts the judge by his speech does more harm than he who does so by money, because no one can corrupt a sensible man by money, though he may by speaking.”

And when Scipio had said this, Mummius praised him greatly, for he was extravagantly imbued with a hatred of orators.


In this last book of his Commonwealth, Cicero labors to show that truly pious philanthropical and patriotic statesmen will not only be rewarded on earth by the approval of conscience and the applause of all good citizens, but that they may expect hereafter immortal glory in new forms of being. To illustrate this, he introduces the “Dream of Scipio,” in which he explains the resplendent doctrines of Plato respecting the immortality of the soul with inimitable dignity and elegance. This Somnium Scipionis, for which we are indebted to the citation of Macrobius, is the most beautiful thing of the kind ever written. It has been intensely admired by all European scholars, and will be still more so. There are two translations of it in our language; one attached to Oliver’s edition of Cicero’s Thoughts, the other by Mr. Danby, published in 1829. Of these we have freely availed ourselves, and as freely we express our acknowledgments.



I. Therefore you rely upon all the prudence of this rule, which has derived its very name (prudentia) from foreseeing (a providendo). Wherefore the citizen must so prepare himself as to be always armed against those things which trouble the constitution of a state. And that 455dissension of the citizens, when one party separates from and attacks another, is called sedition.

And in truth in civil dissensions, as the good are of more importance than the many, I think that we should regard the weight of the citizens, and not their number.

For the lusts, being severe mistresses of the thoughts, command and compel many an unbridled action. And as they cannot be satisfied or appeased by any means, they urge those whom they have inflamed with their allurements to every kind of atrocity.

II. Which indeed was so much the greater in him because though the cause of the colleagues was identical, not only was their unpopularity not equal, but the influence of Gracchus was employed in mitigating the hatred borne to Claudius.

Who encountered the number of the chiefs and nobles with these words, and left behind him that mournful and dignified expression of his gravity and influence.

That, as he writes, a thousand men might every day descend into the forum with cloaks dyed in purple.

[The next paragraph is unintelligible.]

For our ancestors wished marriages to be firmly established.

There is a speech extant of Lælius with which we are all acquainted, expressing how pleasing to the immortal gods are the * * * and * * * of the priests.

III. Cicero, writing about the Commonwealth, in imitation of Plato, has related the story of the return of Er the Pamphylian to life; who, as he says, had come to life again after he had been placed on the funeral pile, and related many secrets about the shades below; not speaking, like Plato, in a fabulous imitation of truth, but using a certain reasonable invention of an ingenious dream, cleverly intimating that these things which were uttered about the immortality of the soul, and about heaven, are not the inventions of dreaming philosophers, nor the incredible fables which the Epicureans ridicule, but the conjectures of wise men. He insinuates that that Scipio who by the subjugation of Carthage obtained Africanus as a surname for his family, gave notice to Scipio the son of Paulus of the treachery which threatened him from his relations, and the course of fate, because by the necessity of numbers he was confined in the period of a perfect life, and he says that he in the fifty-sixth year of his age * * *

IV. Some of our religion who love Plato, on account of his admirable kind of eloquence, and of some correct opinions which he held, say that he had some opinions similar to my own touching the resurrection of the dead, which subject Tully touches on in his treatise on the Commonwealth, and says that he was rather jesting than intending to say that was true. For he asserts that a man returned to life, and related some stories which harmonized with the discussions of the Platonists.

V. In this point the imitation has especially preserved the likeness of the work, because, as Plato, in the conclusion of his volume, represents a certain person who had returned to life, which he appeared to have quitted, as indicating what is the condition of souls when stripped of the 456body, with the addition of a certain not unnecessary description of the spheres and stars, an appearance of circumstances indicating things of the same kind is related by the Scipio of Cicero, as having been brought before him in sleep.

VI. Tully is found to have preserved this arrangement with no less judgment than genius. After, in every condition of the Commonwealth, whether of leisure or business, he has given the palm to justice, he has placed the sacred abodes of the immortal souls, and the secrets of the heavenly regions, on the very summit of his completed work, indicating whither they must come, or rather return, who have managed the republic with prudence, justice, fortitude, and moderation. But that Platonic relater of secrets was a man of the name of Er, a Pamphylian by nation, a soldier by profession, who, after he appeared to have died from wounds received in battle, and twelve days afterward was about to receive the honors of the funeral pile with the others who were slain at the same time, suddenly either recovering his life, or else never having lost it, as if he were giving a public testimony, related to all men all that he had done or seen in the days that he had thus passed between life and death. Although Cicero, as if himself conscious of the truth, grieves that this story has been ridiculed by the ignorant, still, avoiding giving an example of foolish reproach, he preferred speaking of the relater as of one awakened from a swoon rather than restored to life.

VII. And before we look at the words of the dream we must explain what kind of persons they are by whom Cicero says that even the account of Plato was ridiculed, who are not apprehensive that the same thing may happen to them. Nor by this expression does he wish the ignorant mob to be understood, but a kind of men who are ignorant of the truth, though pretending to be philosophers with a display of learning, who, it was notorious, had read such things, and were eager to find faults. We will say, therefore, who they are whom he reports as having levelled light reproaches against so great a philosopher, and who of them has even left an accusation of him committed to writing, etc. The whole faction of the Epicureans, always wandering at an equal distance from truth, and thinking everything ridiculous which they do not understand, has ridiculed the sacred volume, and the most venerable mysteries of nature. But Colotes, who is somewhat celebrated and remarkable for his loquacity among the pupils of Epicurus, has even recorded in a book the bitter reproaches which he aims at him. But since the other arguments which he foolishly urges have no connection with the dream of which we are now talking, we will pass them over at present, and attend only to the calumny which will stick both to Cicero and Plato, unless it is silenced. He says that a fable ought not to have been invented by a philosopher, since no kind of falsehood is suitable to professors of truth. For why, says he, if you wish to give us a notion of heavenly things and to teach us the nature of souls, did you not do so by a simple and plain explanation? Why was a character invented, and circumstances, and strange events, and a scene of cunningly adduced falsehood arranged, to pollute the very door of the investigation of truth by a lie? Since these things, though they are said of the Platonic Er, do also attack the rest of our dreaming Africanus.

457VIII. This occasion incited Scipio to relate his dream, which he declares that he had buried in silence for a long time. For when Lælius was complaining that there were no statues of Nasica erected in any public place, as a reward for his having slain the tyrant, Scipio replied in these words: “But although the consciousness itself of great deeds is to wise men the most ample reward of virtue, yet that divine nature ought to have, not statues fixed in lead, nor triumphs with withering laurels, but some more stable and lasting kinds of rewards.” “What are they?” said Lælius. “Then,” said Scipio, “suffer me, since we have now been keeping holiday for three days, * * * etc.” By which preface he came to the relation of his dream; pointing out that those were the more stable and lasting kinds of rewards which he himself had seen in heaven reserved for good governors of commonwealths.

IX. When I had arrived in Africa, where I was, as you are aware, military tribune of the fourth legion under the consul Manilius, there was nothing of which I was more earnestly desirous than to see King Masinissa, who, for very just reasons, had been always the especial friend of our family. When I was introduced to him, the old man embraced me, shed tears, and then, looking up to heaven, exclaimed—I thank thee, O supreme Sun, and ye also, ye other celestial beings, that before I depart from this life I behold in my kingdom, and in this my palace, Publius Cornelius Scipio, by whose mere name I seem to be reanimated; so completely and indelibly is the recollection of that best and most invincible of men, Africanus, imprinted in my mind.

After this, I inquired of him concerning the affairs of his kingdom. He, on the other hand, questioned me about the condition of our Commonwealth, and in this mutual interchange of conversation we passed the whole of that day.

X. In the evening we were entertained in a manner worthy the magnificence of a king, and carried on our discourse for a considerable part of the night. And during all this time the old man spoke of nothing but Africanus, all whose actions, and even remarkable sayings, he remembered distinctly. At last, when we retired to bed, I fell into a more profound sleep than usual, both because I was fatigued with my journey, and because I had sat up the greatest part of the night.

Here I had the following dream, occasioned, as I verily believe, by our preceding conversation; for it frequently happens that the thoughts and discourses which have employed us in the daytime produce in our sleep an effect somewhat similar to that which Ennius writes happened to him about Homer, of whom, in his waking hours, he used frequently 458to think and speak.

Africanus, I thought, appeared to me in that shape, with which I was better acquainted from his picture than from any personal knowledge of him. When I perceived it was he, I confess I trembled with consternation; but he addressed me, saying, Take courage, my Scipio; be not afraid, and carefully remember what I shall say to you.

XI. Do you see that city Carthage, which, though brought under the Roman yoke by me, is now renewing former wars, and cannot live in peace? (and he pointed to Carthage from a lofty spot, full of stars, and brilliant, and glittering)—to attack which city you are this day arrived in a station not much superior to that of a private soldier. Before two years, however, are elapsed, you shall be consul, and complete its overthrow; and you shall obtain, by your own merit, the surname of Africanus, which as yet belongs to you no otherwise than as derived from me. And when you have destroyed Carthage, and received the honor of a triumph, and been made censor, and, in quality of ambassador, visited Egypt, Syria, Asia, and Greece, you shall be elected a second time consul in your absence, and, by utterly destroying Numantia, put an end to a most dangerous war.

But when you have entered the Capitol in your triumphal car, you shall find the Roman Commonwealth all in a ferment, through the intrigues of my grandson Tiberius Gracchus.

XII. It is on this occasion, my dear Africanus, that you show your country the greatness of your understanding, capacity, and prudence. But I see that the destiny, however, of that time is, as it were, uncertain; for when your age shall have accomplished seven times eight revolutions of the sun, and your fatal hours shall be marked put by the natural product of these two numbers, each of which is esteemed a perfect one, but for different reasons, then shall the whole city have recourse to you alone, and place its hopes in your auspicious name. On you the senate, 459all good citizens, the allies, the people of Latium, shall cast their eyes; on you the preservation of the State shall entirely depend. In a word, if you escape the impious machinations of your relatives, you will, in quality of dictator, establish order and tranquillity in the Commonwealth.

When on this Lælius made an exclamation, and the rest of the company groaned loudly, Scipio, with a gentle smile, said, I entreat you, do not wake me out of my dream, but have patience, and hear the rest.

XIII. Now, in order to encourage you, my dear Africanus, continued the shade of my ancestor, to defend the State with the greater cheerfulness, be assured that, for all those who have in any way conduced to the preservation, defence, and enlargement of their native country, there is a certain place in heaven where they shall enjoy an eternity of happiness. For nothing on earth is more agreeable to God, the Supreme Governor of the universe, than the assemblies and societies of men united together by laws, which are called states. It is from heaven their rulers and preservers came, and thither they return.

XIV. Though at these words I was extremely troubled, not so much at the fear of death as at the perfidy of my own relations, yet I recollected myself enough to inquire whether he himself, my father Paulus, and others whom we look upon as dead, were really living.

Yes, truly, replied he, they all enjoy life who have escaped from the chains of the body as from a prison. But as to what you call life on earth, that is no more than one form of death. But see; here comes your father Paulus towards you! And as soon as I observed him, my eyes burst out into a flood of tears; but he took me in his arms, embraced me, and bade me not weep.

XV. When my first transports subsided, and I regained the liberty of speech, I addressed my father thus: Thou best and most venerable of parents, since this, as I am informed by Africanus, is the only substantial life, why do I linger on earth, and not rather haste to come hither where you are?

That, replied he, is impossible: unless that God, whose temple is all that vast expanse you behold, shall free you 460from the fetters of the body, you can have no admission into this place. Mankind have received their being on this very condition, that they should labor for the preservation of that globe which is situated, as you see, in the midst of this temple, and is called earth.

Men are likewise endowed with a soul, which is a portion of the eternal fires which you call stars and constellations; and which, being round, spherical bodies, animated by divine intelligences, perform their cycles and revolutions with amazing rapidity. It is your duty, therefore, my Publius, and that of all who have any veneration for the Gods, to preserve this wonderful union of soul and body; nor without the express command of Him who gave you a soul should the least thought be entertained of quitting human life, lest you seem to desert the post assigned you by God himself.

But rather follow the examples of your grandfather here, and of me, your father, in paying a strict regard to justice and piety; which is due in a great degree to parents and relations, but most of all to our country. Such a life as this is the true way to heaven, and to the company of those, who, after having lived on earth and escaped from the body, inhabit the place which you now behold.

XVI. This was the shining circle, or zone, whose remarkable brightness distinguishes it among the constellations, and which, after the Greeks, you call the Milky Way.

From thence, as I took a view of the universe, everything appeared beautiful and admirable; for there those stars are to be seen that are never visible from our globe, and everything appears of such magnitude as we could not have imagined. The least of all the stars was that removed farthest from heaven, and situated next to the earth; I mean our moon, which shines with a borrowed light. Now, the globes of the stars far surpass the magnitude of our earth, which at that distance appeared so exceedingly small that I could not but be sensibly affected on seeing our whole empire no larger than if we touched the earth, as it were, at a single point.

XVII. And as I continued to observe the earth with great attention, How long, I pray you, said Africanus, 461will your mind be fixed on that object? why don’t you rather take a view of the magnificent temples among which you have arrived? The universe is composed of nine circles, or rather spheres, one of which is the heavenly one, and is exterior to all the rest, which it embraces; being itself the Supreme God, and bounding and containing the whole. In it are fixed those stars which revolve with never-varying courses. Below this are seven other spheres, which revolve in a contrary direction to that of the heavens. One of these is occupied by the globe which on earth they call Saturn. Next to that is the star of Jupiter, so benign and salutary to mankind. The third in order is that fiery and terrible planet called Mars. Below this, again, almost in the middle region, is the sun—the leader, governor, and prince of the other luminaries; the soul of the world, which it regulates and illumines; being of such vast size that it pervades and gives light to all places. Then follow Venus and Mercury, which attend, as it were, on the sun. Lastly, the moon, which shines only in the reflected beams of the sun, moves in the lowest sphere of all. Below this, if we except that gift of the Gods, the soul, which has been given by the liberality of the Gods to the human race, everything is mortal, and tends to dissolution; but above the moon all is eternal. For the earth, which is the ninth globe, and occupies the centre, is immovable, and, being the lowest, all others gravitate towards it.

XVIII. When I had recovered myself from the astonishment occasioned by such a wonderful prospect, I thus addressed Africanus: Pray what is this sound that strikes my ears in so loud and agreeable a manner? To which he replied: It is that which is called the music of the spheres, being produced by their motion and impulse; and being formed by unequal intervals, but such as a