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THE second book of the philosopher Panaetius On Duties was being read to us, being one of those three celebrated books which Marcus Tullius emulated with great care and very great labour. In it there was written, in addition to many other incentives to virtue, one especially which ought to be kept fixed in the mind. And it is to this general purport: 1 “The life of men,” he says, “who pass their time in the midst of affairs, and who wish to be helpful to themselves and to others, is exposed to constant and almost daily troubles and sudden dangers. To guard against and avoid these one needs a mind that is always ready and alert, such as the athletes have who are called 'pancratists.' For just as they, when called to the contest, stand with their arms raised and stretched out, and protect their head and face by opposing their hands as a rampart; and as all their limbs, before the battle [p. 507] has begun, are ready to avoid or to deal blows—so the spirit and mind of the wise man, on the watch everywhere and at all times against violence and wanton injuries, ought to be alert, ready, strongly protected, prepared in time of trouble, never flagging in attention, never relaxing its watchfulness, opposing judgment and forethought like arms and hands to the strokes of fortune and the snares of the wicked, lest in any way a hostile and sudden onslaught be made upon us when we are unprepared and unprotected.”
1 Fr. 8, Fowler.
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