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Thou dotard, hateful to the gods, dost thou guard [these possessions], for fear of wanting .thyself: to the end that thy son, or even the freedman thy heir, should guzzle it all up For how little will each day deduct from your capital, if you begin to pour better oil upon your greens and your head, filthy with scurf not combed out? If any thing be a sufficiency, wherefore are you guilty of perjury [wherefore] do you rob, and plunder from all quarters? Are you in your senses? If you were to begin to pelt the populace with stones, and the slaves, which you purchased with your money; all the very boys and girls will cry out that you are a madman. When you dispatch your wife with a rope, and your mother with poison, are you right in your head? Why not? You neither did this at Argos, nor slew your mother with the sword as the mad Orestes did. What, do you imagine that he ran mad after lie had murdered his parent; and that he was not driven mad by the wicked Furies, before he warmed his sharp steel in his mother's throat? Nay, from the time that Orestes is deemed to have been of a dangerous disposition, he did nothing in fact that you can blame; he did not dare to offer violence with his sword to Pylades, nor to his sister Electra; he only gave ill language to both of them, by calling her a Fury, and him some other [opprobrious name], which his violent choler suggested. Opimius, poor amid silver and gold hoarded up within, who used to drink out of Campanian ware Veientine1 wine on holidays, and mere dregs on common days, was some time ago taken with a prodigious lethargy; insomuch that his heir was already scouring about his coffers and keys, in joy and triumph. His physician, a man of much dispatch and fidelity, raises him in this manner: he orders a table to be brought, and the bags of money to be poured out, and several persons to approach in order to count it: by this method he sets the man upon his legs again. And at the same time he addresses him to this effect. Unless you guard your money your ravenous heir will even now carry off these [treasures] of yours. What, while I am alive? That you may live, therefore, awake; do this. What would you have me do? Why your blood will fail you that are so much reduced, unless food and some great restorative be administered to your decaying stomach. Do you hesitate? come on; take this ptisan2 made of rice. How much did it cost? A trifle. How much then? Eight asses. Alas! what does it matter, whether I die of a disease, or by theft and rapine? Who then is sound? He, who is not a fool. What is the covetous man? Both a fool and a madman. What — if a man be not covetous, is he immediately [to be deemed] sound? By no means. Why so, Stoic? I will tell you. Such a patient (suppose Craterus [the physician] said this) is not sick at the heart. Is he therefore well, and shall he get up? No, he will forbid that; because his side or his reins are harassed with an acute disease. [In like manner], such a man is not perjured, nor sordid; let him then sacrifice a hog to his propitious3 household gods. But he is ambitious and assuming. Let him make a voyage [then] to Anticyra. For what is the difference, whether you fling whatever you have into a gulf, or make no use of your acquisitions?
1 This wine was of a very poor kind. See Lamb and Orelli.
2 “Ptisanarium.” The diminutive from ptsana, unhusked barley or rice, from πτίσσω, tundo, tundendo decortico. Here it means a decoction, a kind of gruel made of oryza, rice. Rice was not then cultivated in Italy, but brought from Egypt. The physician purposely uses the diminutive ptisanarium, lest he should terrify the patient.
3 All the good and bad accidents that happened in families were generally attributed to the domestic gods, and as these gods were the sons of the goddess of madness, they were particularly worshiped by persons disordered in their understanding. Stertinius therefore advises the man, who, by the favor of these gods, is neither perjured nor a miser, gratefully to sacrifice a swine to them, which was their usual sacrifice. “Fruge Lares, avidaque porca.” Od. xxiii. lib. ii.
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