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[24] It is said, at any rate, that a certain learned man of Agrigentum1 sang in inspired strain in Greek verse that in nature and the entire universe whatever things are at rest and whatever are in motion are united by friendship and scattered by discord. And indeed this is a statement which all men not only understand but also approve. Whenever, therefore, there comes to light some signal service in undergoing or sharing the dangers of a friend, who does not proclaim it with the loudest praise? What shouts recently rang through the entire theatre during the performance of the new play, written by my guest and friend, Marcus Pacuvius,2 at the scene where, the king being ignorant which of the two was Orestes, Pylades, who wished to be put to death instead of his friend, declared, “I am Orestes,” while Orestes continued steadfastly to assert, as was the fact, “I am Orestes!” The people in the audience rose to their feet and cheered this incident in fiction; what, think we, would they have done had it occurred in real life? In this case Nature easily asserted her own power, inasmuch as men approved in another as well done that which they could not do themselves.

[p. 137] Within the foregoing limits I have, I think, been able to state my estimate of friendship; if there is anything more to be said—and I believe there is a great deal—inquire, if you please, of those who make a business of such discussions.

1 Empedocles, according to whom φιλότης (friendship) and νεῖκος (strife) are perpetually at war, causing the four elements to unite or disperse,

ἄλλοτε μὲν φιλότητι συνερχόμεν᾽ εἰς ἓν ἅπαντα,
ἄλλοτε δ᾽ αὖ δίχ᾽ ἕκαστα φορεύμενα νείκεος ἔχθει.

2 The title is uncertain, but the subject was that of Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris.

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