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looking about . Where has this man betaken himself out of doors from the house? LYSITELES
coming up to him . I am here, father; command me what you will, and I shall cause no delay to you, nor will I hide myself in any skulking-place out of your sight. PHILTO
You will be doing what is consonant to the rest of your conduct if you reverence your father. By your duty to me, my son, I wish you, for my sake, not to hold any converse with profligate men, either in the street or in the Forum. I know this age--what its manners are. The bad man wishes the good man to be bad, that he may be like himself. The wicked, the rapacious, the covetous, and the envious, disorder and confound the morals of the age: a crew gaping for gain, they hold the sacred thing as profane--the public advantage as the private emolument. At these things do I grieve, these are the matters that torment me. These things am I constantly repeating both day and night, that you may use due precaution against them. They only deem it right to keep their hands off that which they cannot touch with their hands; as to the rest, seize it, carry it off, keep it, be off and go hide, that is the word with them. These things, when I behold them, draw tears from me, because I have survived to see such a race of men. Why have I not rather descended to the dead1 ere this? For these men praise the manners of our ancestors, and defile those same persons whom they commend. With regard, then, to these pursuits, I enjoin you not to taint your disposition with them. Live after my fashion, and according to the ancient manners; what I am prescribing to you, the same do you remember and practise. I have no patience with these fashionable manners, upsetting preconceived notions, with which good men are now disgracing themselves. If you follow these my injunctions to you, many a good maxim will take root in your breast. LYSITELES
From my earliest youth, even up to this present age, I have always, father, paid all submission to the injunctions you have given. So far as my nature was concerned, I considered that I was free; so far as your injunctions were concerned, I deemed it proper that my mind should pay all submission to you. PHILTO
The man who is struggling with his inclination from his earliest age, whether he ought to prefer to be so, as his inclination thinks it proper that he should be, or whether, rather so as his parents and his relations wish him to be--if his inclination conquers that man, it is all over with him; he is the slave of his inclination and not of himself. But if he conquers his inclination, he truly lives and shall be famed as a conqueror of conquerors. If you have conquered your inclination rather than your inclination you, you have reason to rejoice. 'Tis better by far that you should be such as you ought to be, than such as pleases your inclination. Those who conquer the inclination will ever be esteemed better men than those whom the inclination subdues. LYSITELES
I have ever esteemed these maxims as the shield of my youthful age; never to betake myself to any place where vice was the order of the day2, never to go to stroll about at night, nor to take from another that which is his. I have taken all precautions, my father, that I might not cause you uneasiness; I have ever kept your precepts in due preservation3 by my own rule of conduct. PHILTO
And do you reproach me, because you have acted aright? For yourself have you done so, not for me: my life, indeed, is nearly past4; this matter principally concerns your own. Keep on overlaying5 good deeds with other good deeds, that the rain may not come through. He is the upright man who is not content with it, however upright and however honest he may chance to be. He who readily gives satisfaction to himself, is not the upright man, nor is he really honest: he who thinks but meanly of himself, in him is there a tendency to well-doing. LYSITELES
For this reason, father, I have thought that since there is a certain thing that I wish for, I would request it of you. PHILTO
What is it? I am already longing to give assent. LYSITELES
A young man here, of noble family, my friend and years' mate, who has managed his own affairs but heedlessly and unthinkingly--I wish, father, to do him a service, if you are not unwilling. PHILTO
From your own means, I suppose? LYSITELES
From my own means--for what is yours is mine, and all mine is yours. PHILTO
What is he doing? Is he in want? LYSITELES
He is in want. PHILTO
Had he property? LYSITELES
He had. PHILTO
How did he lose it? Was he connected with public business6, or with commercial matters? Had he merchandise or wares to sell, when he lost his property? LYSITELES
None of these. PHILTO
What then? LYSITELES
I' faith, my father, by his good-nature. Besides, to indulge his tastes, he wasted some part of it in luxury. PHILTO
By my troth now! a fellow spoken of boldly, and as on familiar terms;--one, indeed, who has never dissipated his fortune by any good means, and is now in want. I cannot brook that, with qualities of that description, he should be your friend. LYSITELES
'Tis because he is without any bad disposition that I wish to relieve his wants. PHILTO
He deserves ill of a beggar who gives him what to eat or to drink; for he both loses that which he gives and prolongs for the other a life of misery. I do not say this because I am unwilling and would not readily do what you desire; but when I apply these expressions to that same person, I am warning you beforehand, so to have compassion on others, that others may not have to pity you. LYSITELES
I am ashamed to desert him, and to deny him aid in his adversity. PHILTO
I' troth, shame is preferable to repentance by just as many letters7 as it consists of. LYSITELES
In good sooth, father, by the care of the Gods, and of my forefathers, and your own, I may say that we possess much property, honestly obtained. If you do a service to a friend, it ought not to make you repent that you have done so; it ought rather to cause you shame if you do not do it. PHILTO
If from great wealth you subtract something, does it become more or less? LYSITELES
Less, father. But do you know what is wont to be repeated to the niggardly citizen8? "That which thou hast mayst thou not have, and mayst thou have that misfortune which thou hast not; since thou canst neither endure it to be enjoyed by thyself nor by another." PHILTO
I know, indeed, that so it usually is: but, my son, he is the truly niggardly man9 that has nought with which to pay his dues. LYSITELES
By the care of the Gods, we have, father, both enough for us to enjoy ourselves, and with which to do kind offices to kind-hearted men. PHILTO
Troth, I am not able to refuse you anything that you; ask of me. Whose poverty do you wish to relieve? Speak out boldly to your father. LYSITELES
That of this young man Lesbonicus, the son of Charmides, who lives there. He points to the house of CHARMIDES. PHILTO
Why, hasn't he devoured both what he had, and what he had not10? LYSITELES
Censure him not, my father: many things happen to a man which he likes, many, too, which he does not like. PHILTO
Troth, you say falsely, son; and you are doing so now not according to your usual wont. For the prudent man, i' faith, really frames his own fortunes for himself: many things, therefore, do not happen which he does not like, unless he is a bungling workman. LYSITELES
Much labour is requisite for this workmanship in him who seeks to be a clever workman in fashioning his life--but he is still very young. PHILTO
Not by years but by disposition is wisdom acquired. Age is the relish of wisdom--wisdom is the nutriment of old age. However, come, say what you wish now to give him. LYSITELES
Nothing at all, father. Do you only not hinder me from accepting it if he should give anything to me. PHILTO
And will you be relieving his poverty by that, if you shall accept anything of him? LYSITELES
By that very means, my father. PHILTO
Faith, I wish that you would instruct me in that method. LYSITELES
Certainly. Do you know of what family he is born? PHILTO
I know--of an extremely honourable one. LYSITELES
He has a sister--a fine young woman now grown up: I wish, father, to take her without a portion for my wife. PHILTO
A wife without a portion? LYSITELES
Just so--your riches saved as well. By these means you will be conferring an extreme favour on him, and in no way could you help him to greater advantage. PHILTO
Am I to suffer you to take a wife without a portion? LYSITELES
You must suffer it, father; and by these means you will be giving an estimable character to our family. PHILTO
I could give utterance to many a learned saying, and very fluently too: this old age of mine retains stories of old and ancient times. But, since I see that you are courting friendship and esteem for our family, although I have been opposed to you, I thus give my decision--I will permit you; ask for the girl, and marry her. LYSITELES
May the Gods preserve you to me. But, to this favour add one thing. PHILTO
But what is this one thing? LYSITELES
I will tell you. Do you go to him, do you solicit him, and do you ask for her yourself. PHILTO
Think of that now. LYSITELES
You will transact it much more speedily: all will be made sure of that you do. One word of yours in this matter will be of more consequence than a hundred of mine. PHILTO
See, now, how, in my kindness, I have undertaken this matter. My assistance shall be given. LYSITELES
You really are a kind father. This is the house here he dwells. He points to the house of CHARMIDES. Lesbonicus is his name. Mind and attend to the business; I will await you at home. (Exit.)
1 To the dead: "Ad plures," "to the many," signifies "the dead, inasmuch as they are more in number than the living. It was probably used as a euphemism, as to make mention of death was considered ominous of ill. Homen in the Odyssey, uses τους πη ειονὰς in a similar sense
2 Where vice was the order of the day: "Damni conciliabulum." Literally, "the place of counsel for wickedness."
3 In due preservation: Buildings were said to be "sarta tecta," "in good repair," when the roof was proof against rain. The expression is here used figuratively, to signify, "I have punctually observed your injunctions."
4 Is nearly past: It is worthy of remark that this line is quoted by Cicero in his second Epistle to Brutus: "Sed de hoc tu videris. De me possum dicere idem quod Plautinus pater in Trinummo, 'mihi quidem ætas acta ferme est.'" "As for that matter, it is your concern. For my own part, I may say with the father in the Trinummus of Plautus, 'my life is nearly past'"
5 Keep on overlaying: Philto is most probably alluding to the metaphorical expression, "sarta tecta," used just before by his son; and he tells him that the only way to keep rain from coming in at the roof (that is, to keep evil thoughts out of the mind) is to overlay one good deed with another, just as tile is laid upon tile.
6 With public business: He means by this expression, "has he been farming the taxes or the public lands?" which of course would be a pursuit attended with considerable risk.
7 By just as many letters: Commentators differ as to the meaning of this passage, which is somewhat obscure. Philto seems to say that shame before doing an unwise action is every way preferable to repentance after having done it; preferable, indeed, by each individual letter it is composed of, or, as we should say in common parlance, "every inch of it."
8 Niggardly citizen: "Immunis" means one that does not bear his share in the taxes and tribute of the state, or, in other words, pay his scot and lot. Hence, with an extended signification, it means one that will not out of his abundance assist the distress of others, and who is, consequently, a niggardly and covetous person.
9 Truly niggardly man: Philto here alludes to the primary meaning of the word "immunis;" and hints that it may be more properly applied to Lesbonicus, who has reduced himself to poverty by his extravagance, than to himself; inasmuch as he is now perforce 'immunis," not having wherewithal to pay the public dues and taxes.
10 What he had not: That is, by the dishonest expedient of running to debt for it.
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