But it seems to me, that besides the fact of the riches of the Sybarites, the very natural character of their country,— since there are no harbours on their coasts, and since, in consequence, nearly all the produce of the land is consumed by the citizens themselves,—and to some extent also an oracle of the God, has excited them all to luxury, and has cased them to live in practices of most immoderate dissoluteness. But their city lies in a hollow, and in summer is liable to excess of cold both morning and evening, but in the middle of the day the heat is intolerable, so that the greater part of them believe that the rivers contribute a great deal to the health of the inhabitants; on which account it has been said, that “an man who, living at Sybaris, wishes not to die before his time, ought never to see the sun either rise or set.” And once they sent to the oracle to consult the God (and one of the ambassadors was named Amyris), and to ask how long their prosperity should last; and the priestess of Delphi answered them—
You shall be happy, Sybarite,—very happy,When they had heard this they thought the God had said to them that they should never have their luxury terminated; for that there was no chance of their ever honouring a man more than God. But in agreement with the oracle they experienced a change of fortune, when one of them flogging one of his slaves, continued to beat him after he had sought an asylum in a temple; but when at last he fled to the tomb of his father, he let him go, out of shame. But their whole revenues were dissipated by the way in which then rivalled one another in luxury. And the city also rivalled all other cities in luxury. And not long after this circumstance, when many omens of impending destruction, which it is not necessary to allude to further at present, had given them notice, they were destroyed.
And all your time in entertainments pass,
While you continue to th' immortal gods
The worship due: but when you come, at length,
To honour mortal man beyond the gods,
Then foreign war and intestine sedition
Shall come upon you, and shall crush your city.