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That I might not follow adulteresses, when I could enjoy a lawful amour: the character, cried he, of Trebonius, who was caught in the fact, is by no means creditable. The philosopher may tell you the reasons for what is better to be avoided, and what to be pursued. It is sufficient for me, if I can preserve the morality traditional from my forefathers, and keep your life and reputation inviolate, so long as you stand in need of a guardian: so soon as age shall have strengthened your limbs and mind, you will swim without cork. In this manner he formed me, as yet a boy: and whether he ordered me to do any particular thing: You have an authority for doing this: [then] he instanced some one out of the select magistrates:1 or did he forbid me [any thing]; can you doubt, [says he,] whether this thing be dishonorable, and against your interest to be done, when this person and the other is become such a burning shame for his bad character [on these accounts]? As a neighboring funeral dispirits sick gluttons, and through fear of death forces them to have mercy upon themselves; so other men's disgraces often deter tender minds from vices. From this [method of education] I am clear from all such vices, as bring destruction along with them: by lighter foibles, and such as you may excuse, I am possessed. And even from these, perhaps, a maturer age, the sincerity of a friend, or my own judgment, may make great reductions. For neither when I am in bed, or in the piazzas, am I wanting to myself: this way of proceeding is better; by doing such a thing I shall live more comfortably; by this means I shall render myself agreeable to my friends; such a transaction was not clever; what, shall I, at any time, imprudently commit any thing like it? These things I resolve in silence by myself. When I have any leisure, I amuse myself with my papers. This is one of those lighter foibles [I was speaking of]: to which if you do not grant your indulgence, a numerous band of poets shall come, which will take my part (for we are many more in number),2 and, like the Jews, we will force you to come over to our numerous party.
1 “Unum ex iudicibus selectis.” The most eminent, and of greatest authority, among the senatorial order; an order called Sanctissimus. Torrentius thinks the poet means the judges, whom the pretor chose out of all degrees of the magistracy, to relieve and assist him in his office. But this good father would probably have taken his examples out of a more numerous, yet not less venerable order.
2 See Orelli.
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