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[5] For we shall hunt in vain among sponsions1 and interdicts for magicians and plagues and oracles and stepmothers more cruel than any in tragedy, and other [p. 275] subjects still more unreal than these.2 What then? are we never to permit young men to handle unreal or, to be more accurate, poetic themes that they may run riot and exult in their strength and display their full stature?

1 sponsio (= a wager) was a form of lawsuit in which the litigant promised to pay a certain sum of money if he lost his case. The interdict was an order issued by the praetor commanding or prohibiting certain action. It occurred chiefly in disputes about property.

2 The themes of the controversiae often turned on the supernatural and on crimes and incidents such as rarely or never occur in actual life.

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