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[98] I grant that Virtue loves herself; for she best knows herself and realizes how lovable she is; but [p. 205] it is not virtue I am talking about but a reputation for virtue. For many wish not so much to be, as to seem to be, endowed with real virtue. Such men delight in flattery, and when a complimentary speech is fashioned to suit their fancy they think the empty phrase is proof of their own merits. There is nothing, therefore, in a friendship in which one of the parties to it does not wish to hear the truth and the other is ready to lie. Nor should we see any humour in the fawning parasites in comedies if there were no braggart soldiers.1
In truth did Thais send me many thanks?
It would have been enough to answer, “Many.” “Millions of them,” said the parasite. The flatterer always magnifies that which the one for whose gratification he speaks wishes to be large.

1 Laelius has in mind Thraso in the Eunuch of Terence, from which (ii. 1. 1) the following line is taken, and Pyrgopolinices, the braggart soldier in Plautus' Miles Gloriosus. The disgust Laelius feels at the fawning of the parasite is relieved by the humour of the soldier.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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