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[5] One who is deficient in resistance to pains that most men withstand with success, is soft or luxurious (for Luxury is a kind of Softness) : such a man lets his cloak trail on the ground to escape the fatigue and trouble of lifting it, or feigns sickness, not seeing that to counterfeit misery is to be miserable. [6] The same holds good of Self-restraint and Unrestraint. It is not surprising that a man should be overcome by violent and excessive pleasures or pains: indeed it is excusable if he succumbs after a struggle, like Philoctetes in Theodectes when bitten by the viper, or Kerkyon in the Alope of Karkinos, or as men who try to restrain their laughter explode in one great guffaw, as happened to Xenophantus.1 But we are surprised when a man is overcome by pleasures and pains which most men are able to withstand, except when his failure to resist is due to some innate tendency, or to disease: instances of the former being the hereditary effeminacy2 of the royal family of Scythia, and the inferior endurance of the female sex as compared with the male. [7]

People too fond of amusement are thought to be profligate, but really they are soft; for amusement is rest, and therefore a slackening of effort, and addiction to amusement is a form of excessive slackness.3 [8]

But there are two forms of Unrestraint, Impetuousness and Weakness. The weak deliberate, but then are prevented by passion from keeping to their resolution; the impetuous are led by passion because they do not stop to deliberate: since some people withstand the attacks of passion, whether pleasant or painful, by feeling or seeing them coming, and rousing themselves, that is, their reasoning faculty, in advance, just as one is proof against tickling if one has just been tickled already.4 It is the quick and the excitable who are most liable to the impetuous form of Unrestraint, because the former are too hasty and the latter too vehement to wait for reason, being prone to follow their imagination.8.

The profligate, as we said,5 does not feel remorse, for he abides by his choice; the unrestrained man on the other hand invariably repents his excesses afterwards. Hence the objection that we stated6 does not hold good; on the contrary, it is the profligate who cannot be cured, whereas the unrestrained man can; for Vice resembles diseases like dropsy and consumption, whereas Unrestraint is like epilepsy, Vice being a chronic, Unrestraint an intermittent evil. Indeed Unrestraint and Vice are entirely different in kind, for Vice is unconscious, whereas the unrestrained man is aware of his infirmity.

1 Seneca, De ira, 2.2, says that Xenophantus's martial music made Alexander put out his hand to grasp his weapons (the story is told by Suidas of a Theban flute-player Timotheus, cf. Dryden, Alexander's Feast) ; apparently Alexander's music had a different effect on Xenophantus!

2 Hdt. 1.105, says that certain Scythians who robbed the temple of Uranian Aphrodite at Askalon were smitten with the ‘feminine disease,’ which affected their descendants ever after; but Hippocrates, Περὶ ἀέρων22, describes effeminate symptoms prevalent among wealthy and high-born Scythians, due to being too much on horseback.

3 i.e., it is not an excessive proneness to pursue pleasure, and therefore is not profligacy.

4 The variant ‘can avoid being tickled by tickling the other person first’ seems less likely, but either reading may be doubted: see critical note. Aristotle elsewhere (Aristot. Prob. 965a 11) remarks that one is less sensitive to tickling if one is not taken unawares, and that is why one cannot tickle oneself.

5 7.2.

6 2.10.

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