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12.

With the practical side of hunting I have finished. But the advantages that those who have been attracted by this pursuit will gain are many. For it makes the body healthy, improves the sight and hearing, and keeps men from growing old; and it affords the best training for war. [2] In the first place, when marching over rough roads under arms, they will not tire: accustomed to carry arms for capturing wild beasts, they will bear up under their tasks. Again, they will be capable of sleeping on a hard bed and of guarding well the place assigned to them. [3] In an attack1 on the enemy they will be able to go for him and at the same time to carry out the orders that are passed along, because they are used to do the same things on their own account when capturing the game. If their post is in the van they will not desert it, because they can endure. [4] In the rout of the enemy they will make straight for the foe without a slip over any kind of ground, through habit. If part of their own army has met with disaster in ground rendered difficult by woods and defiles or what not, they will manage to save themselves without loss of honour and to save others. For their familiarity with the business will give them knowledge that others lack. [5] Indeed, it has happened before now, when a great host of allies has been put to flight, that a little band of such men, through their fitness and confidence, has renewed the battle and routed the victorious enemy when he has blundered owing to difficulties in the ground. For men who are sound in body and mind may always stand on the threshold of success. [6] It was because they knew that they owed their successes against the enemy to such qualities that our ancestors looked after the young men. For in spite of the scarcity of corn it was their custom from the earliest times not to prevent hunters from hunting over any growing crops; and, in addition, not to permit hunting at [7] night within a radius of many furlongs from the city, so that the masters of that art might not rob the young men of their game. In fact they saw that this is the only one among the pleasures of the younger men that produces a rich crop of blessings. For it makes sober and upright men of them, because they are trained in the school of truth2 (and they perceived [8] that to these men they owed their success in war, as in other matters); and it does not keep them from any other honourable occupation they wish to follow, like other and evil pleasures that they ought not to learn. Of such men, therefore, are good soldiers and good generals made. [9] For they whose toils root out whatever is base and froward from mind and body and make desire for virtue to flourish in their place—they are the best, since they will not brook injustice to their own city nor injury to its soil. [10]

Some say that it is not right to love hunting, because it may lead to neglect of one's domestic affairs. They are not aware that all who benefit their cities and their friends are more attentive to their domestic affairs than other men. [11] Therefore, if keen sportsmen fit themselves to be useful to their country in matters of vital moment, neither will they be remiss in their private affairs: for the state is necessarily concerned both in the safety and in the ruin of the individual's domestic fortunes. Consequently such men as these save the fortunes of every other individual as well as their own. [12] But many of those who talk in this way, blinded by jealousy, choose to be ruined through their own evil rather than be saved by other men's virtue. For most pleasures are evil, and by yielding to these they are encouraged either to say or to do what is wrong. [13] Then by their frivolous words they make enemies, and by their evil deeds bring diseases and losses and death on themselves, their children and their friends, being without perception of the evils, but more perceptive than others of the pleasures. Who would employ these to save a state? [14] From these evils, however, everyone who loves that which I recommend will hold aloof, since a good education teaches a man to observe laws, to talk of righteousness and hear of it. [15] Those, then, who have given themselves up to continual toil and learning hold for their own portion laborious lessons and exercises, but they hold safety for their cities. But if any decline to receive instruction because of the labour and prefer to live among untimely pleasures, they are by nature utterly evil. [16] For they obey neither laws nor good words, for because they toil not, they do not discover what a good man ought to be, so that they cannot be pious or wise men; and being without education they constantly find fault with the educated. [17] In these men's hands, therefore, nothing can prosper. All discoveries that have benefited mankind are due to the better sort.3 Now the better sort are those who are willing to toil. And this has been proved by a great example. [18] For among the ancients the companions of Cheiron to whom I referred learnt many noble lessons in their youth, beginning with hunting; from these lessons there sprang in them great virtue, for which they are admired even today. That all desire Virtue is obvious, but because they must toil if they are to gain her, the many fall away. [19] For the achievement of her is hidden in obscurity, whereas the toils inseparable from her4 are manifest.

It may be that, if her body were visible, men would be less careless of virtue, knowing that she sees them as clearly as they see her. [20] For when he is seen by his beloved every man rises above himself and shrinks from what is ugly and evil in word or deed, for fear of being seen by him. [21] But in the presence of Virtue men do many evil and ugly things, supposing that they are not regarded by her because they do not see her. Yet she is present everywhere because she is immortal, and she honours those who are good to her, but casts off the bad. Therefore, if men knew that she is watching them, they would be impatient to undergo the toils and the discipline by which she is hardly to be captured, and would achieve her.


1 The word πρόσοδος in this sense is a hunters' term.

2 i.e., a training that really builds up the character. There is an implied contrast with the imposture of the education given by sophists.

3 The argument, such as it is, would be better with “the toilers,” for “the better sort,” and the next words would then be “those who are willing to toil, therefore, are the better men.”

4 ἁυτͅω, “it,” i.e., the achievement, would be an improvement.

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