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[39] But what greater punishment can be inflicted on man by the immortal gods than frenzy and madness? unless, perhaps, you think that those persons, whom in tragedies you see tortured and destroyed by wounds and agony of body, are enduring a more terrible form of the wrath of the immortal gods than those who are brought on the stage in a state of insanity. Those howlings and groans of Philoctetes are not so pitiable (sad though they be) as that exultation of Athamas, or that dream of those who have slain their mother. You, when you are uttering your frantic speeches to the assembly—when you are destroying the houses of the citizens—when you are driving virtuous men from the forum with stones—when you are hurling burning firebrands at your neighbours' houses—when you are setting fire to holy temples —when you are stirring up the slaves—when you are throwing the sacred rites and games into confusion—when you see no difference between your wife and your sister—when you do not perceive whose bed it is that you enter—when you go ranting and raging about—you are then suffering that punishment which is the only one appointed by the immortal gods for the wickedness of men. For the infirmity of our bodies is of itself liable to many accidents; moreover, the body itself is often destroyed by some very trivial cause; and the darts of the gods are fixed in the minds of impious men. Wherefore you are more miserable while you are hurried into every sort of wickedness by your eyes, than you would be if you had no eyes at all.


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