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[12arg] Of ignoble subjects, called by the Greeks ἄδοξοι, or “unexpected,” argued by Favorinus for the sake of practice.

NOT only the sophists of old, but the philosophers as well, took up ignoble subjects, 1 or if you prefer, unexpected ones, ἄδοξοι ὑποθέσεις, as the Greeks call them; and our friend Favorinus took a great deal of pleasure in descending to such subjects, 2 either thinking them suitable for stimulating his thoughts or exercising his cleverness or overcoming difficulties by practice. For example, when he attempted to praise Thersites and pronounced a eulogy upon the quartan ague, 3 he said many clever and ingenious things on both topics, which he has left written in his works.

But in his eulogy of fever he even produced Plato as a witness, declaring that the philosopher wrote 4 that one who after suffering from quartan ague got well and recovered his full strength, would afterwards enjoy surer and more constant health. And in that same eulogy he made this quip, which, of a truth, is not ungraceful: “The following lines,” he says, “have met with the approval of many generations of men: 5

Sometimes a day is like a stepmother,
And sometimes like a mother.
[p. 253] The meaning of the verses is that a man cannot fare well every day, but fares well on one day and ill on another. Since it is true,” he says, “that in human affairs things are in turn, now good, now bad, how much more fortunate is this fever which has an interval of two days, 6 since it has only one stepmother, but two mothers!”

1 See Pease, “Things without Honor,” Class. Phil. xxi. pp. 27 ff. An example is Erasmus' Praise of Folly.

2 Frag. 65, Marres.

3 See note 1, p. 252.

4 Tim. 10, p. 86 A.

5 Hesiod, Works and Days, 825.

6 Owing to the Roman method of inclusive reckoning, the quartan ague, occurring on every fourth day, had an interval of two days; see Class Phil. viii. 1 ff.

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