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Whenever then any thing is spoken against you that is not true, do not pass it by or despise it because it is false, but forthwith examine yourself, and consider what you have said or done, what you have ever undertaken, or what converse you have ever had that may have given likelihood to the slander; and when this is discovered, decline for the future all things that may provoke any reproachful or foul language from others.

For if troubles and difficulties, into which some men fall either by chance or through their own inadvertency and rashness, may teach others what is fit and safe for them to do,—as Merope says,

Fortune hath taken for her salary
My dearest goods, but wisdom she hath given;1
why should not we take an enemy for our tutor, who will instruct us gratis in those things we knew not before? For an enemy sees and understands more in matters relating to us than our friends do; because love is blind, as Plato2 says, in discerning the imperfections of the thing beloved. But spite, malice, ill-will, wrath, and contempt talk much, are very inquisitive and quick-sighted. When Hiero was upbraided by his enemy for having a stinking breath, he returned home and demanded of his wife why she had not acquainted him with it. The innocent good woman makes this answer: I thought all men's breath had that smell. For those things in men that are conspicuous to all are sooner understood from the information of enemies than from that of friends and acquaintance.

1 From Euripides.

2 Laws, V. p. 731 E

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