If any man seeks for success in stern art and
applies his mind to great tasks, let him first perfect his character by the rigid
law of frugality. Nor must he care for the lofty frown of the tyrant's palace, or
scheme for suppers with prodigals like a client, or drown the fires of his wit with
wine in the company[p. 9]
of the wicked, or sit before the stage applauding
an actor's grimaces for a price.
“But whether the fortress of armoured Tritonis smiles upon him, or the land
where the Spartan farmer lives, or the home of the Sirens, let him give the
years of youth to poetry, and let his fortunate soul drink of the Maeonian
fount. Later, when he is full of the learning of the Socratic school, let him
loose the reins, and shake the weapons of mighty Demosthenes like a free man.
Then let the company of Roman writers pour about him, and, newly unburdened from
the music of Greece, steep his soul and transform his taste. Meanwhile, let him
withdraw from the courts and suffer his pages to run free, and in secret make
ringing strains in swift rhythm; then let him proudly tell tales of feasts, and
wars recorded in fierce chant, and lofty words such as undaunted Cicero uttered.
Gird up thy soul for these noble ends; so shalt thou be fully inspired, and
shalt pour out words in swelling torrent from a heart the Muses love.”