Nil Posse Creari De Nilo! / Nothing Can Be Created From Nothing!

Cicero – On Ends – Book 3

Promoting the Study of the Philosophy of Epicurus

Cicero – On Ends – Book 3
My dear Brutus. — Were Pleasure to speak for herself, in default of such redoubtable advocates as she now has to defend her, my belief is that she would own defeat. Vanquished by the arguments of our preceding Book, she would yield the victory to true Worth. Indeed she would be lost to shame if she persisted any longer in the battle against Virtue, and rated what is pleasant above what is morally good, or maintained that bodily enjoyment or the mental gratification which springs from it is of higher value than firmness and dignity of character. Let us then give Pleasure her dismissal, and bid her keep within her own domains, lest her charms and blandishments put snares in the way of strict philosophical debate. The question before us is, where is that Chief Good, which is the object of our inquiry, to be found? Pleasure we have eliminated; the doctrine that the End of Goods consists in freedom from pain is open to almost identical objections; and in fact no Chief Good could be accepted that was without the element of Virtue, the most excellent thing that can exist.

Hence although in our debate with Torquatus we did not spare our strength, nevertheless a keener struggle now awaits us with the Stoics. For pleasure is a topic that does not lend itself to very subtle or profound discussion; its champions are little skilled in dialectic, and their adversaries have no difficult case to refute. In fact Epicurus himself declares that there is no occasion to argue about pleasure at all: its criterion resides in the senses, so that proof is entirely superfluous; a reminder of the facts is all that is needed. Therefore our preceding debate consisted of a simple statement of the case on either side. There was nothing abstruse or intricate in the discourse of Torquatus, and my own exposition was, I believe, as clear as daylight. But the Stoics, as you are aware, affect an exceedingly subtle or rather crabbed style of argument; and if the Greeks find it so, still more must we, who have actually to create a vocabulary, and to invent new terms to convey new ideas. This necessity will cause no surprise to anyone of moderate learning, when he reflects that in every branch of science lying outside the range of common everyday practice there must always be a large degree of novelty in the vocabulary, when it comes to fixing a terminology to denote the conceptions with which the science in question deals. Thus Logic and Natural Philosophy alike make use of terms unfamiliar even to Greece; Geometry, Music, Grammar also, have an idiom of their own. Even the manuals of Rhetoric, which belong entirely to the practical sphere and to the life of the world, nevertheless employ for purposes of instruction a sort of private and peculiar phraseology.

And to leave out of account these liberal arts and accomplishments, even artisans would be unable to preserve the tradition of their crafts if they did not make use of words unknown to us though familiar to themselves. Nay, agriculture itself, a subject entirely unsusceptible of literary refinement, has yet had to coin technical terms to denote the things with which it is occupied. All the more is the philosopher compelled to do likewise; for philosophy is the Science of Life, and cannot treat its subject in language taken from the street. Still of all the philosophers the Stoics have been the greatest innovators in this respect, and Zeno their founder was rather an inventor of new terms than a discoverer of new ideas. But if men so learned, using a language generally supposed to be more copious than our own, were allowed in handling recondite subjects to employ unfamiliar terms, how much more right have we to claim this licence who are venturing now to approach these topics for the first time? Moreover we have often declared, and this under some protest not from Greeks only but also from persons who would rather be considered Greeks than Romans, that in fullness of vocabulary we are not merely not surpassed by the Greeks but are actually their superiors. We are therefore bound to do our utmost to make good this claim not in our native arts only but also in those that belong to the Greeks themselves. However, words which the practice of past generations permits us to employ as Latin, e.g. the term ‘philosophy’ itself, or ‘rhetoric,’ ‘logic,’ ‘grammar,’ ‘geometry,’ ‘music’ we may consider as being our own; the ideas might it is true have been translated into Latin, but the Greek terms have been familiarized by use. So much for terminology.

As regards my subject, I often fear, Brutus, that I shall meet with censure for writing upon this topic to you, who are yourself so great an adept in philosophy, and in the highest branch of philosophy. Did I assume the attitude of an instructor, such censure would be deserved. But nothing could be farther from me. I dedicate my work to you, not to teach you what you know extremely well already, but because your name gives me a very comforting sense of support, and because I find in you a most impartial judge and critic of the studies which I share with yourself. You will therefore grant me, as always, your closest attention, and act as umpire of the debate which I held with that remarkable man of genius, your uncle.

I was down at my place at Tusculum, and wanted to consult some books from the library of the young Lucullus; so I went to his country-house, as I was in the habit of doing, to help myself to the volumes I needed. On my arrival, seated in the library I found Marcus Cato; I had not known he was there. He was surrounded by piles of books on Stoicism; for he possessed, as you are aware, a voracious appetite for reading, and could never have enough of it; indeed it was often his practice actually to brave the idle censure of the mob by reading in the senate-house itself, while waiting for the senate to assemble, — he did not steal any attention from public business. So it may well be believed that when I found him taking a complete holiday, with a vast supply of books at his command, he had the air of indulging in a literary debauch, if the term may be applied to so honourable an occupation. Upon this chance encounter, each of us being equally surprised to see the other, he at once rose, and we began to exchange the usual greetings. “What brings you here?” cried he; “You are from your country-seat, I suppose. Had I known you were there,” he continued, “I should have anticipated you with a visit.” “Yes,” I answered, “the games began yesterday, so I came pout of town, and arrived late in the afternoon. My reason for coming on here was to get some books from the library. By the way, Cato, it will soon be time for our friend Lucullus to make acquaintance with this fine collection; for I hope he will take more pleasure in his library than in all the other appointments of his country-house. I am extremely anxious (though of course the responsibility belongs especially to you) that he should have the kind of education that will turn him out after the same pattern as his father and our dear Caepio, and also yourself, to whom he is so closely related. I cherish the memory of his grandfather (and you are aware how highly I esteemed Caepio, who in my belief would to‑day be in the front rank, were he still alive). And also Lucullus is always present to my mind; he was a man of general eminence, and united to me in sentiment and opinion as well as by friendship.” “I commend you,” rejoined Cato, “for your loyalty to memory of men who both bequeathed their children to your care, as well as for your affectionate interest in the lad. My own responsibility, as you call it, I by no means disown, but I enlist you to share it with me. Moreover I may say that the youth already seems to me to show many signs both of modesty and talent; but you know how young he is.” “I do,” said I, “but all the same it is time for him to receive a tincture of studies which, if allowed to soak in at this impressionable age, will render him better equipped when he comes to the business of life.” “True, and we will discuss this matter again several times more fully and take common action. But let us sit down,” he said, “shall we?” So we sat down.

p Cato then resumed: “But what pray are the books that you must come here for, when you have so large a library of your own?” “I have come to fetch some Note-books of Aristotle,” I replied, “which I knew were here. I wanted to read them during my holiday; I do not often get any leisure.” “How I wish,” said he, “that you had thrown in your lot with the Stoics! You of all men might have been expected to reckon virtue as the only good.” “Perhaps you might rather have been expected,” I answered, “to refrain from adopting a new terminology, when in substance you think as I do. Our principles agree; it is our language that is at variance.” “Indeed,” he rejoined, “they do not agree in the least. Once pronounce anything to be desirable, once reckon anything as a good, other than Moral Worth, and you have extinguished the very light of virtue, Moral Worth itself, and overthrown virtue entirely.” “That all sounds very fine, Cato,” I replied, “but are you aware that you share your lofty pretensions with Pyrrho and with Aristo, who make all things equal in value? I should like to know what your opinion is of them.” “My opinion?” he said. “You ask what my opinion is? that those good, brave, just and temperate men, of whom history tells us, or whom we have ourselves seen in our public life, who under the guidance of Nature herself, without the aid of any learning, did many glorious deeds, — that these men were better educated by nature than they could possibly have been by philosophy had they accepted any other system of philosophy than the one that counts Moral Worth the only good and Moral Baseness the only evil. All other philosophical systems — in varying pdegrees no doubt, but still all, — which reckon anything of which virtue is not an element either as a good or an evil, do not merely, as I hold, give us no assistance or support towards becoming better men, but are actually corrupting to the character. Either this point must be firmly maintained, that Moral Worth is the sole good, or it is absolutely impossible to prove that virtue constitutes happiness. And in that case I do not see why we should trouble to study philosophy. For if anyone who is wise could be miserable, why, I should not set much value on your vaunted and belauded virtue.”

“What you have said so far, Cato,” I answered, “might equally well be said by a follower of Pyrrho or of Aristo. They, as you are aware, think as you do, that this Moral Worth you speak of is not merely the chief but the only Good; and from this of necessity follows the proposition that I notice you maintain, namely, that the Wise are always happy. Do you then,” I asked, “commend these philosophers, and think that we ought to adopt this view of theirs?” “I certainly would not have you adopt their view,” he said; “for it is of the essence of virtue to exercise choice among the things in accordance with nature; so that philosophers who make all things absolutely equal, rendering them indistinguishable either as better or worse, and leaving no room for selection among them, have abolished virtue itself.” “Excellently put,” I rejoined; “but pray are not you committed to the same position, if you say that only what is right and moral is good, and abolish all distinction between everything else?” “Quite so,” said he, “if I did abolish all distinction, but I do not.” “How so?” I said. “If only virtue, only that pone thing which you call moral, right, praiseworthy, becoming (for its nature will be better understood if it is denoted by a number of synonyms), if then, I say, this is the sole good, what other object of pursuit will you have beside it? or, if there be nothing bad but what is base, dishonourable, disgraceful, evil, sinful, foul (to make this clear also by using a variety of terms), what else will you pronounce worthy to be avoided?” “You know quite well,” he retorted, “what I am going to say; but I suspect you want to catch up something in my answer if I put it shortly. So I won’t answer you point by point. Instead of that, as we are at leisure, I will expound, unless you think it out of place, the whole system of Zeno and the Stoics.” “Out of place?” I cried. “By no means. Your exposition will be of great assistance towards solving the questions we are asking.” “Then let us make the attempt,” said he, “albeit there is a considerable element of difficulty and obscurity in this Stoic system. For at one time even the terms employed in Greek for its novel conceptions seemed unendurable, when they were novel, though now daily use has made them familiar; what then to you think will be the case in Latin?” “Do not feel the least difficulty on that score,” said I. “If when Zeno invented some novel idea he was permitted to denote it by an equally unheard‑of word, why should not Cato be permitted to do so too? Though all the same it need not be a hard and fast rule that every word shall be represented by its exact counterpart, when there is a more familiar word conveying the same meaning. That is the way of a clumsy translator. Indeed my own practice is to use several words to give what is expressed pin Greek by one, if I cannot convey the sense other. At the same time I hold that we may fairly claim the licence to employ a Greek word when no Latin word is readily forthcoming. Why should this licence be granted to ephippia (saddles) and acratophora (jars for neat wine) more than to proēgmena and apoproēgmena? These latter however it is true may be correctly translated ‘preferred’ and ‘rejected.’ ” “Thanks for your assistance,” he said. “I certainly shall use for choice the Latin equivalents you have just given; and in other cases you shall come to my aid if you see me in difficulties.” “I’ll do my best,” I replied; “but fortune favours the bold, so pray make the venture. What sublimer occupation could we find?”

He began: “It is the view of those whose system I adopt, that immediately upon birth (for that is the proper point to start from) a living creature feels an attachment for itself, and an impulse to preserve itself and to feel affection for its own constitution and for those things which tend to preserve that constitution; while on the other hand it conceives an antipathy to destruction and to those things which appear to threaten destruction. In proof of this opinion they urge that infants desire things conducive to their health and reject things that are the opposite before they have ever felt pleasure or pain; this would not be the case, unless they felt an affection for their own constitution and were afraid of destruction. But it would be impossible that they should feel desire at all unless they possessed self-consciousness, and consequently felt affection for themselves. This leads to the conclusion that it is love of self which supplies the primary impulse to action. Pleasure on the contrary, according to most Stoics, is not to be reckoned among the primary objects of natural impulse; and I very strongly agree with them, for fear lest many immoral consequences would follow if we held that nature has placed pleasure among the earliest objects of desire. But the fact of our affection for the objects first adopted at nature’s prompting seems to require no further proof than this, that there is no one who, given the choice, would not prefer to have all the parts of his body sound and whole, rather than maimed or distorted although equally serviceable.

“Again, acts of cognition (which we may term comprehensions or perceptions, or, if these words are distasteful or obscure, katalēpseis), — these we consider meet to be adopted for their own sake, because they possess an element that so to speak embraces and contains the truth. This can be seen in the case of children, whom we may observe to take pleasure in finding something out for themselves by the use of reason, even though they gain nothing by it. The sciences also, we consider, are things to be chosen for their own sake, partly because there is in them something worthy of choice, partly because they consist of acts of cognition and contain an element of fact established by methodical reasoning. The mental assent to what is false, as the Stoics believe, is more repugnant to us than all the other things that are contrary to nature.

“(Again, of the members or parts of the body, some appear to have been bestowed on us by nature for the sake of their use, for example the hands, legs, feet, and internal organs, as to the degree of whose utility even physicians are not agreed; while others serve no useful purpose, but appear to be intended for ornament: for instance the peacock’s tail, the plumage of the dove with its shifting colours, and the breasts and beard of the male human being.) All this is perhaps somewhat baldly expressed; for it deals with what may be called the primary elements of nature, to which any embellishment of style can scarcely be applied, nor am I for my part concerned to attempt it. On the other hand, when one is treating of more majestic topics the style instinctively rises with the subject, and the brilliance of the language increases with the dignity of the theme.” “True,” I rejoined; “but to my mind, any clear statement of an important topic possesses excellence of style. It would be childish to desire an ornate style in subjects of the kind with which you are dealing. A man of sense and education will be content to be able to express his meaning plainly and clearly.”

“To proceed then,” he continued, “for we have been digressing from the primary impulses of nature; and with these the later stages must be in harmony. The next step is the following fundamental classification: That which is in itself in accordance with nature, or which produces something else that is so, and which therefore is deserving of choice as possessing a certain amount of positive value — axia as the Stoics call it — this they pronounce to be ‘valuable’ (for so I suppose we may translate it); and on the other hand that which is the contrary of the former they term ‘valueless.’ The initial principle being thus established that things in accordance with nature are ‘things to be taken’ for their own sake, and their opposites similarly ‘things to be rejected,’ the first ‘appropriate act’ (for so I render the Greek kathēkon) is to preserve oneself in one’s natural constitution; the next is to retain those things which are in accordance with nature and to repel those that are the contrary; then when this principle of choice and also of rejection has been discovered, there follows next in order choice conditioned by ‘appropriate action’; then, such choice become a fixed habit; and finally, choice fully rationalized and in harmony with nature. It is at this final stage that the Good properly so called first emerges and comes to be understood in its true nature. Man’s first attraction is towards the things in accordance with nature; but as soon as he has understanding, or rather become capable of ‘conception’ — in Stoic phraseology ennoia — and has discerned the order and so to speak harmony that governs conduct, he thereupon esteems this harmony far more highly than all the things for which he originally felt an affection, and by exercise of intelligence and reason infers the conclusion that herein resides the Chief Good of man, the thing that is praiseworthy and desirable for its own sake; and that inasmuch as this consists in what the Stoics term homologia and we with your approval may call ‘conformity’ — inasmuch I say as in this resides that Good which is the End to which all else is a means, moral conduct and Moral Worth itself, which alone is counted as a good, although of subsequent development, is nevertheless the sole thing that is for its pown efficacy and value desirable, whereas none of the primary objects of nature is desirable for its own sake. But since those actions which I have termed ‘appropriate acts’ are based on the primary natural objects, it follows that the former are means to the latter. Hence it may correctly be said that all ‘appropriate acts’ are means to the end of attaining the primary needs of nature. Yet it must not be inferred that their attainment is the ultimate Good, inasmuch as moral action is not one of the primary natural attractions, but is an outgrowth of these, a later development, as I have said. At the same time moral action is in accordance with nature, and stimulates our desire far more strongly than all the objects that attracted us earlier. But at this point a caution is necessary at the outset. It will be an error to infer that this view implies two Ultimate Goods. For though if a man were to make it his purpose to take a true aim with a spear or arrow at some mark, his ultimate end, corresponding to the ultimate good as we pronounce it, would be to do all he could to aim straight: the man in this illustration would have to do everything to aim straight, you yet, although he did everything to attain his purpose, his ‘ultimate End,’ so to speak, would be what corresponded to what we call the Chief Good in the conduct of life, whereas the actual hitting of the mark would be in our phrase ‘to be chosen’ but not ‘to be desired.’

“Again, as all ‘appropriate acts’ are based on the primary impulses of nature, it follows that Wisdom itself is based on them also. But as it often happens that a man who is introduced to another values this new friend more highly than he does the person who gave him the introduction, so in like manner it is by no means surprising that though we are first commended to Wisdom by the primary natural instincts, afterwards Wisdom itself becomes dearer to us than are the instincts from which we came to her. And just as our limbs are so fashioned that it is clear that they were bestowed upon us with a view to a certain mode of life, so our faculty of appetition, in Greek hormē, was obviously designed not for any kind of life one may choose, but for a particular mode of living; and the same is true of Reason and of perfected Reason. For just as an actor or dancer has assigned to him not any but a certain particular part or dance, so life has to be conducted in a certain fixed way, and not in any way we like. This fixed way we speak of as ‘conformable’ and suitable. In fact we do not consider Wisdom to be like seamanship or medicine, but rather like the arts of acting and of dancing just mentioned; its End, being the actual exercise of the art, is contained within the art itself, and is not something extraneous to it. At the same time there is also another point which marks a dissimilarity between Wisdom and these arts as well. In the latter a movement perfectly executed nevertheless does not involve all the various motions which together constitute the subject matter of the art; whereas in the sphere of conduct, what we may call, if you approve, ‘right actions,’ or ‘rightly performed actions,’ in Stoic phraseology katorthōmata, contain all the factors of virtue. For Wisdom alone is entirely self-contained, which is not the case with the other arts. It is erroneous, however, to place the End of medicine or of navigation exactly on a par with the End of Wisdom. For Wisdom includes also magnanimity and justice and a sense of superiority to all the accidents of man’s estate, but this is not the case with the other arts. Again, even the very virtues I have just mentioned cannot be attained by anyone unless he has realized that all things are indifferent and indistinguishable except moral worth and baseness.

“We may now observe how strikingly the principles I have established support the following corollaries. Inasmuch as the final aim — (and you have observed, no doubt, that I have all along been translating the Greek term telos either by ‘final’ or ‘ultimate aim,’ or ‘chief Good,’ and for ‘final or ultimate aim’ we may also substitute ‘End’) — inasmuch then as the final aim is to live in agreement and harmony with nature, it necessarily follows that all wise men at all times enjoy a happy, perfect and fortunate life, free from all hindrance, interference or want. The essential principle not merely of the system of philosophy I am discussing but also of our life and destinies is, that we should believe Moral Worth to be the only good. This principle might be amplified and elaborated in the rhetorical manner, with great length and fullness and with all the resources of choice diction and impressive argument; but for my own part I like the concise and pointed ‘consequences’ of the Stoics.

“They put their arguments in the following syllogistic form: Whatever is good is praiseworthy; but whatever is praiseworthy is morally honourable: therefore that which is good is morally honourable. Does this seem to you a valid deduction? Surely it must: you can see that the conclusion consists in what necessarily resulted from the two premises. The usual line of reply is to deny the major premise, and say that not everything good is praiseworthy; for there is no denying that what is praiseworthy is morally honourable. But it would be paradoxical to maintain that there is something good which is not desirable; or desirable that is not pleasing; or if pleasing, not also esteemed; and therefore approved as well; and so also praiseworthy. But the praiseworthy is the morally honourable. Hence it follows that what is good is also morally honourable.

“Next I ask, who can be proud of a life that is miserable or not happy? It follows that one can only be proud of one’s lot when it is a happy one. This proves that the happy life is a thing that deserves (so to put it) that one should be proud of it; and this cannot rightly be said of any life but one morally honourable. Therefore the moral life is the happy life. And the man who deserves and wins praise has exceptional cause for pride and self-satisfaction; but these things count for so much that he can justly be pronounced happy; therefore the life of such a man can with full correctness be described as happy also. Thus if Moral Worth is the criterion of happiness, Moral Worth must be deemed the only Good.

“Once more; could it be denied that it is impossible for there ever to exist a man of steadfast, firm and lofty mind, such a one as we call a brave man, unless it be established that pain is not an evil? For just as it is impossible for one who counts death as an evil not to fear death, so in no case can a man disregard and despise a thing that he decides to be evil. This being laid down as generally admitted, we take as our minor premise that the brave and high-minded man despises and holds of no account all the accidents to which mankind is liable. The conclusion follows that nothing is evil that is not base. Also, your lofty, distinguished, magnanimous and truly brave man, who thinks all human vicissitudes beneath him, I mean, the character we desire to produce, our ideal man, must unquestionably have faith in himself and in his own character both past and future, and think well of himself, holding that no ill can befall the wise man. Here then is another proof of the same position, that Moral Worth alone is good, and that to live honourably, that is virtually, is to live happily.

“I am well aware, it is true, that varieties of opinion have existed among philosophers, I mean among those of them who have placed the Chief Good, the ultimate aim as I call it, in the mind. Some of those who adopted this view fell into error; but nevertheless I rank all those, of whatever type, who have placed the Chief Good in the mind and in virtue, not merely above the three philosophers who dissociate the Chief Good from virtue altogether and identified it either with pleasure or freedom from pain or the primary impulses of nature, but also above the other three, who held that virtue would be incomplete without some enhancement, and therefore added to it one or other respectively of the three things I have just enumerated. But still those thinkers are quite beside the mark who pronounced the ultimate Good to be a life devoted to knowledge; and those who declared that all things are indifferent, and that the Wise Man will secure happiness by not preferring any one thing in the least degree to any other; and those again who said, pas some members of the Academy are said to have maintained, that the final Good and supreme duty of the Wise Man is to resist appearances and resolutely withhold his assent to the reality of sense-impressions. It is customary to take these doctrines severally and reply to them at length. But there is really no need to labour what is self-evident; and what could be more obvious than that, if we can exercise no choice as between things consonant with and things contrary to nature, the much-prized and belauded virtue of Prudence is abolished altogether? Eliminating therefore the views just enumerated and any others that resemble them, we are left with the conclusion that the Chief Good consists in applying to the conduct of life a knowledge of the working of natural causes, choosing what is in accordance with nature and rejecting what is contrary to it; in other words, the Chief Good is to live in agreement and in harmony with nature.

“But in the other arts when we speak of an ‘artistic’ performance, this quality must be considered as in a sense subsequent to and a result of the action; it is what the Stoics term epigennēmatikon (in the nature of an after-growth). Whereas in conduct, when we speak of an act as ‘wise,’ the term is applied with full correctness from the first inception of the act. For every action that the Wise Man initiates must necessarily be complete forthwith in all its parts; since the thing desirable, as we term it, consists in his activity. As it is a sin to betray one’s country, to use violence to one’s parents, to rob a temple, where the offence lies in the result of the act, so the passions of fear, grief and lust are sins, even when no extraneous result ensues. The platter are sins not in their subsequent effects, but immediately upon their inception; similarly, actions springing from virtue are to be judged right from their first inception, and not in their successful completion.

“Again, the term ‘Good,’ which has been employed so frequently in this discourse, is also explained by definition. The Stoic definitions do indeed differ from one another in a very minute degree, but they all point in the same direction. Personally I agree with Diogenes in defining the Good as that which is by nature perfect. He was led by this also to pronounce the ‘beneficial’ (for so let us render the Greek ōphelēma) to be a motion or state in accordance with that which is by nature perfect. Now notions of things are produced in the mind when something has become known either by experience or combination of ideas or analogy or logical inference. The mind ascends by inference from the things in accordance with nature till finally it arrives at the notion of Good. At the same time Goodness is absolute, and is not a question of degree; the Good is recognized and pronounced to be good from its own inherent properties and not by comparison with other things. Just as honey, though extremely sweet, is yet perceived to be sweet by its own peculiar kind of flavour and not by being compared with something else, so this Good which we are discussing is indeed superlatively valuable, yet its value depends on kind and not on quantity. Value, in Greek axiā, is not counted as a Good nor yet as an Evil; so that however much you increase it in amount, it will still remain the same pin kind. The value of Virtue is therefore peculiar and distinct; it depends on kind and not on degree.

“Moreover the emotions of the mind, which harass and embitter the life of the foolish (the Greek term for these is pathos, and I might have rendered this literally and styled them ‘diseases,’ but the word ‘disease’ would not suit all instances; for example, no one speaks of pity, nor yet anger, as a disease, though the Greeks term these pathos. Let us then accept the term ’emotion,’ the very sound of which seems to denote something vicious, and these emotions are not excited by any natural influence. The list of the emotions is divided into four classes, with numerous subdivisions, namely sorrow, fear, lust, and that mental emotion which the Stoics call by a name that also denotes a bodily feeling, hēdonē ‘pleasure,’ but which I prefer to style ‘delight,’ meaning the sensuous elation of the mind when in a state of exaltation), these emotions, I say, are not excited by any influence of nature; they are all of them mere fancies and frivolous opinions. Therefore the Wise Man will always be free from them.

“The view that all Moral Worth is intrinsically desirable is one that we hold in common with many other systems of philosophy. Excepting three schools that shut out Virtue from the Chief Good altogether, all the remaining philosophers are committed to this opinion, and most of all the Stoics, with whom we are now concerned, and who hold that nothing else but Moral Worth is to be counted as a good at all. But this position is one that is extremely simple and easy to defend. For who is there, or who ever was there, of avarice so consuming and appetites so unbridled, that, even though willing to commit any crime to achieve his end, and even though absolutely secure of impunity, yet would not a hundred times rather attain the same object by innocent than by guilty means?

“Again, what desire for profit or advantage underlies our curiosity to learn the secrets of nature, the mode and the causes of the movements of the heavenly bodies? Who lives in such a boorish state, or who has become so rigidly insensible to natural impulses, as to feel a repugnance for these lofty studies and eschew them as valueless apart from any pleasure or profit they may bring? Or who is there who feels no sense of pleasure when he hears of the wise words and brave deeds of our forefathers, — of the Africani, or my great-grandfather whose name is always on your lips, and the other heroes of valour and of virtue? On the other hand, what man of honourable family and good breeding and education is not shocked by moral baseness as such, even when it is not calculated to do him personally any harm? who can view without disgust a person whom he believes to be dissolute and an evil liver? who does not hate the mean, the empty, the frivolous, the worthless? Moreover, if we decide that baseness is not a thing to be avoided for its own sake, what arguments can be urged against men’s indulging in every sort of unseemliness in privacy and under cover of darkness, unless they are deterred by the essential and intrinsic ugliness of what is base? Endless reasons could be given in support of this view, but they are not necessary. For nothing is less open to doubt than that what is morally good is to be desired for its own sake, and similarly what is morally bad is to be avoided for its own sake. Again, the principle already discussed, that Moral Worth is the sole Good, involves the corollary that it is of more value than those neutral things which it procures. On the other hand when we say that folly, cowardice, injustice and intemperance are to be avoided because of the consequences they entail, this dictum must not be so construed as to appear inconsistent with the principle already laid down, that moral baseness alone is evil; for the reason that the consequences referred to are not a matter of bodily harm but of the base conduct to which vices give rise (the term ‘vice’ I prefer to ‘badness’ as a translation of the Greek kakiā).”

“Indeed, Cato,” said I, “your language is lucidity itself; it conveys your meaning exactly. In fact I feel you are teaching philosophy to speak Latin, and naturalizing her as a Roman citizen. Hitherto she has seemed a foreigner at Rome, and shy of conversing in our language; and this is especially so with your Stoic system because of its precision and subtlety alike of thought and language. (There are some philosophers, I know, who could express their ideas in any language; for they ignore Division and Definition altogether, and themselves profess that they only seek to commend doctrines to which nature assents without argument. Hence, their ideas being so far from recondite, they spend small pains on logical exposition.) So I am following you attentively, and am committing to memory all the terms you use to denote the conceptions we are discussing; for very likely I shall soon have to employ the same terms myself. Well, I think you are quite correct in calling the opposite of the virtues ‘vices.’ This is in conformity with the usage of our language. The word ‘vice’ denotes, I believe, that which is in its own nature ‘vituperable’; or else ‘vituperable’ is derived from ‘vice.’ Whereas if you had rendered kakiā by ‘badness’ (‘malice’), Latin usage would point us to another meaning, that of a single particular vice. As it is, we make ‘vice’ the opposite term to ‘virtue’ in general.”

“Well, then,” resumed Cato, “these principles established there follows a great dispute, which on the side of the Peripatetics was carried on with no great pertinacity (in fact their ignorance of logic renders their habitual style of discourse somewhat deficient in cogency); but your leader Carneades with his exceptional proficiency in logic and his consummate eloquence brought the controversy to a head. Carneades never ceased to contend that on the whole so‑called ‘problem of good and evil,’ there was no disagreement as to facts between the Stoics and the Peripatetics, but only as to terms. For my part, however, nothing seems to me more manifest than that there is more of a real than a verbal difference of opinion between those philosophers on these points. I maintain that there is a far greater discrepancy between the Stoics and the Peripatetics as to facts than as to words. The Peripatetics say that all the things which under their system are called goods contribute to happiness; whereas our school does not believe that total happiness comprises everything that deserves to have a certain amount of value attached to it.

“Again, can anything be more certain than that on the theory of the school that counts pain as an evil, the Wise Man cannot be happy when he is being tortured on the rack? Whereas the system that considers pain no evil clearly proves that the Wise Man retains his happiness amidst the worst torments. The mere fact that men endure the same pain more easily when they voluntarily undergo it for the sake of their country than when they suffer it for some lesser cause, shows that the intensity of the pain depends on the state of mind of the sufferer, not on its own intrinsic nature. Further, on the Peripatetic theory that there are three kinds of goods, the more abundantly supplied a man is with bodily or external goods, the happier he is; but it does not follow that we Stoics can accept the same position, and say that the more a man has of those bodily things that are highly valued the happier he is. For the Peripatetics hold that the sum of happiness includes bodily advantages, but we deny this altogether. We hold that the multiplication even of those goods that in our view are truly so called does not render life happier or more desirable or of higher value; even less therefore is happiness affected by the accumulation of bodily advantages. Clearly if wisdom and health be both desirable, a combination of the two would be more desirable than wisdom alone; but it is not the case that if both be deserving of value, wisdom plus health is worth more than wisdom by itself separately. We deem health to be deserving of a certain value, but we do not reckon it a good; at the same time we rate no value so highly as to place it above virtue. This is not the view of the Peripatetics, who are bound to say that an action which is both morally good and not attended by pain is more desirable than the same action if accompanied by pain. We think otherwise — whether rightly or wrongly, I will consider later; but how could there be a wider or more real difference of opinion?

p “The light of a lamp is eclipsed and overpowered by the rays of the sun; a drop of honey is lost in the vastness of the Aegean sea; an additional sixpence is nothing amid the wealth of Croesus, or a single step in the journey from here to India. Similarly if the Stoic definition of the End of Goods be accepted, it follows that all the value you set on bodily advantages must be absolutely eclipsed and annihilated by the brilliance and the majesty of virtue. And just as opportuneness (for so let us translate eukairia) is not increased by prolongation in time (since things we call opportune have attained their proper measure), so right conduct (for thus I translate katorthōsis, since katorthōma is a single right action), right conduct, I say, and also propriety, and lastly Good itself, which consists in harmony with nature, are not capable of increase or addition. For these things that I speak of, like opportuneness before mentioned, are not made greater by prolongation. And on this ground the Stoics do not deem happiness to be any more attractive or desirable if it be lasting than if it be brief; and they use this illustration: Just as, supposing the merit of a shoe were to fit the foot, many shoes would not be superior to few shoes nor bigger shoes to smaller ones, so, in the case of things the good of which consists solely and entirely in propriety and opportuneness, a larger number of these things will not be rated higher than a smaller number nor those lasting longer to those of shorter duration. No is there much point in the argument that, if good health is more valuable when lasting than when brief, therefore the exercise of wisdom also is worth most when it continues longest. This ignores the fact that, whereas the value of health is estimated by duration, that of virtue is measured by opportuneness; so that those who use the argument in question might equally be expected to say that an easy death or an easy child-birth would be better if protracted than if speedy. They fail to see that some things are rendered more valuable by brevity as others by prolongation. So it would be consistent with the principles already stated that on the theory of those who deem the End of Goods, that which we term the extreme or ultimate Good, to be capable of degree, they should also hold that one man can be wiser than another, and similarly that one can commit a more sinful or more righteous action than another; which it is not open for us to say, who do not think that the end of Goods can vary in degree. For just as a drowning man is no more able to breathe if he be not far from the surface of the water, so that he might at any moment emerge, than if he were actually at the bottom already, and just as a puppy on the point of opening its eyes is no less blind than one just born, similarly a man that has made some progress towards the state of virtue is none the less in misery than he that has made no progress at all.

“I am aware that all this seems paradoxical; but as our previous conclusions are undoubtedly true and well established, and as these are the logical inferences from them, the truth of these inferences also cannot be called in question. Yet although the Stoics deny that either virtues or vices can be increased in degree, they nevertheless believe that each of them can be in a sense expanded and widened in scope. Wealth again, in the opinion of pDiogenes, though so important for pleasure and health as to be not merely conducive but actually essential to them, yet has not the same effect in relation to virtue, nor yet in the case of the other arts; for money may be a guide to these, but cannot form an essential factor in them; therefore although if pleasure or if good health be a good, wealth also must be counted a good, yet if wisdom is a good, it does not follow that we must also pronounce wealth to be a good. Nor can thing which is not a good be essential to a thing that is a good; and hence, because acts of cognition and of comprehension, which form the raw material of the arts, excite desire, since wealth is not a good, wealth cannot be essential to any art. But even if we allowed wealth to be essential to the arts, the same argument nevertheless could not be applied to virtue, because virtue (as Diogenes argues) requires a great amount of thought and practice, which is not the case to the same extent with the arts, and because virtue involves life-long steadfastness, strength and consistency, whereas these qualities are not equally manifested in the arts.

“Next follows an exposition of the difference between things; for if we maintained that all things were absolutely indifferent, the whole of life would be thrown into confusion, as it is by Aristo, and no function or task could be found for wisdom, since there would be absolutely no distinction between the things that pertain to the conduct of life, and no choice need be exercised among them. Accordingly after conclusively proving that morality alone is good and baseness alone evil, the Stoics went on to affirm that among those things which were of no importance for happiness or misery, there was nevertheless an element of difference, making some of them of positive and others of negative value, and others neutral. Again among things valuable — e.g. health, unimpaired senses, freedom from pain, fame, wealth and the like — they said that some afford us adequate grounds for preferring them to other things, while others are not of this nature; and similarly among those things which are of negative value some afford adequate grounds for our rejecting them, such as pain, disease, loss of the senses, poverty, disgrace, and the like; others not so. Hence arose the distinction, in Zeno’s terminology, between proēgmena and the opposite, apoproēgmena — for Zeno using the copious Greek language still employed novel words coined for the occasion, a licence not allowed to us with the poor vocabulary of Latin; though you are fond of saying that Latin is actually more copious than Greek. However, to make it easier to understand the meaning of this term it will not be out of place to explain the method which Zeno pursued in coining it.

“In a royal court, Zeno remarks, no one speaks of the king himself as ‘promoted’ to honour (for that is the meaning of proēgmenon), but the term is applied to those holding some office of state whose rank most nearly approaches, though it is second to, the royal pre‑eminence; similarly in the conduct of life the title proēgmenon, that is, ‘promoted,’ is to be given not to those things which are in the first rank, but to those which hold the second place; for these we may use either the term suggested (for that will be a literal translation) or ‘advanced’ and ‘degraded,’ or the term we have been using all along, ‘preferred’ or ‘superior,’ and for the opposite ‘rejected.’ If the meaning is intelligible we need not be punctilious about the use of words. But since we declare that everything that is good occupies the first rank, it follows that this which we entitle preferred or superior is neither good nor evil; and accordingly we define it as being indifferent but possessed of a moderate value — since it has occurred to me that I may use the word ‘indifferent’ to represent their term adiaphoron. For in fact, it was inevitable that the class of intermediate things should contain some things that were either in accordance with nature, or the reverse, and this being so, that this class should include some things which possessed moderate value, and, granting this, that some things of this class should be ‘preferred.’ There were good grounds therefore for making this distinction; and furthermore, to elucidate the matter still more clearly they put forward the following illustration: Just as, supposing we were to assume that our end and aim is to throw a knuckle-bone in such a way that it may stand upright, a bone that is thrown so as to fall upright will be in some measure ‘preferred’ or advanced’ in relation to the proposed end, and one that falls otherwise the reverse, and yet that ‘advance’ on the part of the knuckle-bone will not be a constituent part of the end indicated, so those things which are ‘preferred’ are it is true means to the End but are in no sense constituents of its essential nature.

“Next comes the division of goods into three classes, first those which are ‘constituents’ of the final end (for so I represent the term telika, this being a case of an idea which we may decide, as we agreed, to express in several words as we cannot do so in one, in order to make the meaning clear), secondly those which are ‘productive’ of the End, the Greek poiētika; and thirdly those which are both. The only instances of goods of the ‘constituent’ class are moral action; the only instance of a ‘productive’ good is a friend. Wisdom, according to the Stoics, is both constituent and productive; for as being itself an appropriate activity it comes under what I called the constituent class; as causing and producing moral actions, it can be called productive.

“These things which we call ‘preferred’ are in some cases preferred for their own sake, in others because they produce a certain result, and in others for both reasons; for their own sake, as a certain cast of features and of countenance, or a certain pose or movement, things which may be in themselves either preferable or to be rejected; others will be called preferred because they produce a certain result, for example, money; others again for both reasons, like sound senses and good health. About good fame (that term being a better translation in this context than ‘glory’ of the Stoic expression eudoxiā) Chrysippus and Diogenes used to aver that, apart from any practical value it may possess, it is not worth stretching out a finger for; and I strongly agree with them. On the other hand their successors, finding themselves unable to resist the attacks of Carneades, declared that good fame, as I have called it, was preferred and desirable for its own sake, and that a man of good breeding and liberal education would desire to have the good opinion of his parents and relatives, and of good men in general, and that for its own sake and not for any practical advantage; and they argue that just as we desire the welfare of our children, even of such as may be born after we are dead, for their own sake, so a man ought to study his reputation even after death, for itself, even apart from any advantage.

“But although we pronounce Moral Worth to be the sole good, it is nevertheless consistent to perform an appropriate act, in spite of the fact that we count appropriate action neither a good nor an evil. For in the sphere of these neutral things there is an element of reasonableness, in the sense that an account can be rendered of it, and therefore in the sense that an account can also be rendered of its performance; and this proves that an appropriate act is an intermediate thing, to be reckoned neither as a good nor as the opposite. And since those things which are neither to be counted among virtues nor vices nevertheless contain a factor which can be useful, their element of utility is worth preserving. Again, this neutral class also includes action of a certain kind, viz. such that reason calls upon us to do or to produce some one of these neutral things; but an action reasonably performed we call an appropriate act; appropriate action therefore is included in the class which is reckoned neither as good nor the opposite.

“It is also clear that some actions are performed by the Wise Man in the sphere of these neutral things. Well then, when he does such an action he judges it to be an appropriate act. And as his judgment on this point never errs, therefore appropriate action will exist in the sphere of these neutral things. The same thing is also proved by the following argument: We observe that something exists which we call right action; but this is an appropriate act perfectly performed; therefore there will also be such a thing as an imperfect appropriate act; so that, if to restore a trust as a matter of principle is a right act, to restore a trust must be counted as an appropriate act; the addition of the qualification ‘on principle’ makes it a right action: the mere restitution in itself is counted an appropriate act. Again, since there can be no question but that class of things we call neutral includes some things worthy to be chosen and others to be rejected; therefore whatever is done or described in this manner is entirely included under the term appropriate action. This shows that since love of self is implanted by nature in all men, both the foolish and the wise alike will choose what is in accordance with nature and reject the contrary. Thus there is a region of appropriate action which is common to the wise and the unwise; and this proves that appropriate action deals with the things we call neutral. But since these neutral things form the basis of all appropriate acts, there is good ground for the dictum that it is with these things that all our practical deliberations deal, including the will to live and the will to quit this life. When a man’s circumstances contain a preponderance of things in accordance with nature, it is appropriate for him to remain alive; when he possesses or sees in prospect a majority of the contrary things, it is appropriate for him to depart from life. This makes it plain that it is on occasion appropriate for the Wise Man to quit life although he is happy, and also pof the Foolish Man to remain in life although he is miserable. For with the Stoics good and evil, as has repeatedly been said already, are a subsequent outgrowth; whereas the primary things of nature, whether favourable or the reverse, fall under the judgment and choice of the Wise Man, and form so to speak the subject-matter, the given material with which wisdom deals. Therefore the reasons both for remaining in life and for departing from it are to be measured entirely by the primary things of nature aforesaid. For the virtuous man is not necessarily retained in life by virtue, and also those who are devoid of virtue need not necessarily seek death. And very often it is appropriate for the Wise Man to abandon life at a moment when he is enjoying supreme happiness, if an opportunity offers for making a timely exit. For the Stoic view is that happiness, which means life in harmony with nature, is a matter of seizing the right moment. So that Wisdom her very self upon occasion bids the Wise Man to leave her. Hence, as vice does not possess the power of furnishing a reason for suicide, it is clear that even for the foolish, who are also miserable, it is appropriate to remain alive if they possess a predominance of those things which we pronounce to be in accordance with nature. And since the fool is equally miserable when departing from life and when remaining in it, and the undesirability of his life is not increased by its prolongation, there is good ground for saying that those who are in a position to enjoy a preponderance of things that are natural ought to remain in life.

“Again, it is held by the Stoics to be important to understand that nature creates in parents pan affection for their children; and parental affection is the source to which we trace the origin of the association of the human race in communities. This cannot but be clear in the first place from the conformation of the body and its members, which by themselves are enough to show that nature’s scheme included the procreation of offspring. Yet it could not be consistent that nature should at once intend offspring to be born and make no provision for that offspring when born to be loved and cherished. Even in the lower animals nature’s operation can be clearly discerned; when we observe the labour that they spend on bearing and rearing their young, we seem to be listening to the actual voice of nature. Hence as it is manifest that it is natural for us to shrink from pain, so it is clear that we derive from nature herself the impulse to love those to whom we have given birth. From this impulse is developed the sense of mutual attraction which unites human beings as such; this also is bestowed by nature. The mere fact of their common humanity requires that one man should feel another man to be akin to him. For just as some of the parts of the body, such as the eyes and the ears, are created as it were for their own sakes, while others like the legs or the hands also subserve the utility of the rest of the members, so some very large animals are born for themselves alone; whereas the sea‑pen, as it is called, in its roomy shell, and the creature named the ‘pinoteres’ because it keeps watch over the sea‑pen, which swims out of the sea‑pen’s shell, then retires back into it and is shut up inside, thus appearing to have warned its host to be on its guard — these creatures, and also the ant, the bee, the stork, do certain actions for the sake of others besides themselves. With human beings this bond of mutual aid is far more intimate. It follows that we are by nature fitted to form unions, societies and states.

“Again, they hold that the universe is governed by divine will; it is a city or state of which both men and gods are members, and each one of us is a part of this universe; from which it is a natural consequence that we should prefer the common advantage to our own. For just as the laws set the safety of all above the safety of individuals, so a good, wise and law‑abiding man, conscious of his duty to the state, studies the advantage of all more than that of himself or of any single individual. The traitor to his country does not deserve greater reprobation than the man who betrays the common advantage or security for the sake of his own advantage or security. This explains why praise is owed to one who dies for the commonwealth, because it becomes us to love our country more than ourselves. And as we feel it wicked and inhuman for men to declare (the saying is usually expressed in a familiar Greek line) that they care not if, when they themselves are dead, the universal conflagration ensues, it is undoubtedly true that we are bound to study the interest of posterity also for its own sake.

“This is the feeling that has given rise to the practice of making a will and appointing guardians for one’s children when one is dying. And the fact that no one would care to pass his life alone in a desert, even though supplied with pleasures in unbounded profusion, readily shows that we are born for society and intercourse, and for a natural partnership with our fellow men. Moreover nature inspires us with the desire to benefit as many people as we can, and especially by imparting information and the principles of wisdom. Hence it would be hard to discover anyone who will not impart to another any knowledge that he may himself possess; so strong is our propensity not only to learn but also to teach. And just as bulls have a natural instinct to fight with all their strength and force in defending their calves against lions, so men of exceptional gifts and capacity for service, like Hercules and Liber in the legends, feel a natural impulse to be the protectors of the human race. Also when we confer upon Jove the titles of Most Good and Most Great, of Saviour, Lord of Guests, Rallier of Battles, what we mean to imply is that the safety of mankind lies in his keeping. But how inconsistent it would be for us to expect the immortal gods to love and cherish us, when we ourselves despise and neglect one another! Therefore just as we actually use our limbs before we have learnt for what particular useful purpose they were bestowed upon us, so we are united and allied by nature in the common society of the state. Were this not so, there would be no room either for justice or benevolence.

“But just as they hold that man is united with man by the bonds of right, so they consider that no right exists as between man and beast. For Chrysippus well said, that all other things were created for the sake of men and gods, but that these exist for their own mutual fellowship and society, so that men can make use of beasts for their own purposes without injustice. And the nature of man, he said, is such, that as it were a code of law subsists between the individual and the human race, so that he who upholds this code will be just and he who departs from it, unjust. But just as, though the theatre is a public place, yet it is correct to say that the particular seat a man has taken belongs to him, so in the state or in the universe, though these are common to all, no principle of justice militates against the possession of private property. Again, since we see that man is designed by nature to safeguard and protect his fellows, it follows from this natural disposition, that the Wise Man should desire to engage in politics and government, and also to live in accordance with nature by taking to himself a wife and desiring to have children by her. Even the passion of love when pure is not thought incompatible with the character of the Stoic sage. As for the principles and habits of the Cynics, some say that these befit the Wise Man, if circumstances should happen to indicate this course of action; but other Stoics reject the Cynic rule unconditionally.

“To safeguard the universal alliance, solidarity and affection that subsist between man and man, the Stoics held that both ‘benefits’ and ‘injuries’ (in their terminology, ōphelēmata and blammata) are common, the former doing good and the latter harm; and they pronounce them to be not only ‘common’ but also ‘equal.’ ‘Disadvantages’ and ‘advantages’ (for so I render euchrēstēmata and duschrēstēmata) they held to be ‘common’ but not ‘equal.’ For things ‘beneficial’ and ‘injurious’ are goods and evils respectively, and these must needs be equal; but ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ belong to the class we speak of as ‘preferred’ and ‘rejected,’ and these may differ in degree. But whereas ‘benefits’ and ‘injuries’ are pronounced to be ‘common,’ righteous and sinful acts are not considered ‘common.’

“They recommend the cultivation of friendship, classing it among ‘things beneficial.’ In friendship some profess that the Wise Man will hold his friends’ interests as dear as his own, while others say that a man’s own interests must necessarily be dearer to him; at the same time the latter admit that to enrich oneself by another’s loss is an action repugnant to that justice towards which we seem to possess a natural propensity. But the school I am discussing emphatically rejects the view that we adopt or approve either justice or friendship for the sake of their utility. For if it were so, the same claims of utility would be able to undermine and overthrow them. In fact the very existence of both justice and friendship will be impossible if they are not desired for their own sake. Right moreover, properly so styled and entitled, exists (they aver) by nature; and it is foreign to the nature of the Wise Man not only to wrong but even to hurt anyone. Nor again is it righteous to enter into a partnership in wrongdoing with one’s friends or benefactors; and it is most truly and cogently maintained that honesty is always the best policy, and that whatever is fair and just is also honourable, and conversely whatever is honourable will also be just and fair.

p “To the virtues we have discussed they also add Dialectic and Natural Philosophy. Both of these they entitle by the name of virtue; the former because it conveys a method that guards us for giving assent to any falsehood or ever being deceived by specious probability, and enables us to retain and to defend the truths that we have learned about good and evil; for without the art of Dialectic they hold that any man may be seduced from truth into error. If therefore rashness and ignorance are in all matters fraught with mischief, the art which removes them is correctly entitled a virtue.

“The same honour is also bestowed with good reason upon Natural Philosophy, because he who is to live in accordance with nature must base his principles upon the system and government of the entire world. Nor again can anyone judge truly of things good and evil, save by a knowledge of the whole plan of nature and also of the life of the gods, and of the answer to the question whether the nature of man is or is not in harmony with that of the universe. And no one without Natural Philosophy can discern the value (and their value is very great) of the ancient maxims and precepts of the Wise Men, such as to ‘obey occasion,’ ‘follow God,’ ‘know thyself,’ and ‘moderation in all things.’ Also this science alone can impart a conception of the power of nature in fostering justice and maintaining friendship and the rest of the affections; nor again without unfolding nature’s secrets can we understand the sentiment of piety towards the gods or the degree of gratitude that we owe to them.

“However I begin to perceive that I have let myself be carried beyond the requirements of the plan that I set before me. The fact is that I have been led on by the marvellous structure of the Stoic system and the miraculous sequence of its topics; pray tell me seriously, does it not fill you with admiration? Nothing is more finished, more nicely ordered, than nature; but what has nature, what have the products of handicraft to show that is so well constructed, so firmly jointed and welded into one? Where do you find a conclusion inconsistent with its premise, or a discrepancy between an earlier and a later statement? Where is lacking such close interconnexion of the parts that, if you alter a single letter, you shake the whole structure? Though indeed there is nothing that it would be possible to alter.

“Then, how dignified, how lofty, how consistent is the character of the Wise Man as they depict it! Since reason has proved that moral worth is the sole good, it follows that he must always be happy, and that all those titles which the ignorant are so fond of deriding do in very truth belong to him. For he will have a better claim to the title of King than Tarquin, who could not rule either himself or his subjects; a better right to the name of ‘Master of the People’ (for that is what a dictator is) than Sulla, who was a master of three pestilential vices, licentiousness, avarice and cruelty; a better right to be called rich than Crassus, who had he lacked nothing could never have been induced to cross the Euphrates with no pretext for war. Rightly will he be said to own all things, who alone knows how to use all things; rightly also will he be styled beautiful, for the features of the soul are fairer than those of the body; rightly the one and only free man, as subject pto no man’s authority, and slave of no appetite; rightly unconquerable, for though his body be thrown into fetters, no bondage can enchain his soul. Nor need he wait for any period of time, that the decision whether he has been happy or not may be finally pronounced only when he has rounded off his life’s last day in death, — the famous warning so unwisely given to Croesus by old Solon, one of the seven Wise Men; for had Croesus ever been happy, he would have carried his happiness uninterrupted to the pyre raised for him by Cyrus. If then it be true that all the good and none but the good are happy, what possession is more precious than philosophy, what more divine than virtue?”