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Reason is the best remedy for the cure of grief, reason and the preparedness through reason for all the changes of life. For one ought to realize, not merely that he himself is mortal by nature, but also that he is allotted to a life that is mortal and to conditions which readily reverse themselves. For men's bodies are indeed mortal, lasting but a day, and mortal is all that they experience and suffer, and, in a word, everything in life ; and all this
May not be escaped nor avoided by mortals1
at all, but
The depths of unseen Tartarus hold you fast by hardforged necessities,
as Pindar 2 says. Whence Demetrius of Phalerum was quite right when, in reference to a saying of Euripides 3:
Wealth is inconstant, lasting but a day,
and also :
Small things may cause an overthrow ; one day Puts down the mighty and exalts the low,4
he said that it was almost all admirably put, but it would have been better if he had said not ‘one day,’ but ‘one second of time.’ [p. 121]
Alike the cycle of earth's fruitful plants And mortal men. For some life grows apace, While others perish and are gathered home.5
And elsewhere Pindar 6 says : Somebody? Nobody? Which is which ? A dream of a shadow is man. Very vividly and skilfully did he use this extravagance of expression in making clear the life of mankind. For what is feebler than a shadow ? And a dream of it!—that is something which defies any clear description. In similar strain Crantor, 7 endeavouring to comfort Hippocles upon the death of his children, says : ‘All our ancient philosophy states this and urges it upon us ; and though there be therein other things which we do not accept, yet at any rate the statement that life is oftentimes toilsome and hard is only too true. For even if it is not so by nature, yet through our own selves it has reached this state of corruption. From a distant time, yes from the beginning, this uncertain fortune has attended us and to no good end, and even at our birth there is conjoined with us a portion of evil in everything. For the very seed of our life, since it is mortal, participates in this causation, and from this there steal upon us defectiveness of soul, diseases of body, loss of friends by death, and the common portion of mortals.’ For what reason have we turned our thoughts in this direction? It is that we may know that misfortune is nothing novel for man, but that we all have [p. 123] had the same experience of it. For Theophrastus 8 says : ‘Fortune is heedless, and she has a wonderful power to take away the fruits of our labours and to overturn our seeming tranquillity, and for doing this she has no fixed season.’ These matters, and others like them, it is easy for each man to reason out for himself, and to learn them from wise men of old besides ; of whom the first is the divine Homer, who said 9:
Nothing more wretched than man doth the earth support on its bosom, Never, he says to himself, shall he suffer from evil hereafter, Never, so long as the gods give him strength and his knees are still nimble; Then when the blessed gods bring upon him grievous affliction, Still he endures his misfortune, reluctant but steadfast in spirit.
Such is the mood of the men who here on the earth are abiding, E'en as the day which the father of men and of gods brings upon them.10
And in another place :
Great-hearted son of Tydeus, why do you ask of my fathers ? As is the race of the leaves, such too is that of all mortals. Some of the leaves doth the wind scatter earthward, and others the forest Budding puts forth in profusion, and springtime is coming upon us. Thus is man's race: one enters on life, and another's life ceases.11
That he has admirably made use of this image of human life is clear from what he says in another place, in these words : [p. 125] To fight for the sake of mortals
Wretched, who like to the leaves, at the one time all ardent Come to their fitting perfection, and eat of the fruit of their acres; Then again helpless they perish, nor is there aught that can help them.12

Pausanias, king of the Lacedaemonians, who persistently boasted of his own exploits, mockingly urged the lyric poet Simonides to rehearse for him some wise saying, whereupon the poet, being fully cognizant of his conceit, advised him to remember that he was only human.13

Philip, the king of the Macedonians, happened to have three pieces of good news reported to him all at once : the first, that he was victor at the Olympic games in the race of the four-horse chariots ; the second, that Parmenio, his general, had vanquished the Dardanians in battle, and the third, that Olympias had borne him a male child ; whereupon, stretching out his hands toward the heavens, he said: ‘O God, offset all this by some moderate misfortune !’ For he well knew that in cases of great prosperity fortune is wont to be jealous.14

While Theramenes, who afterwards became one of the Thirty Tyrants at Athens, was dining with several others, the house, in which they were, collapsed, and he was the only one to escape death ; but as he was being congratulated by everybody, he raised his voice and exclaimed in a loud tone, ‘O Fortune, for what occasion are you reserving me ?’ And not long afterward he came to his end by torture at the hands of his fellow tyrants.15 [p. 127]

1 Homer, Il. xii. 326.

2 Pindar, Frag. 207 (ed. Christ).

3 Phoenissae, 558.

4 See note a on next page.

5 Both this and the preceding quotation are from the Ino of Euripides; cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. Euripides, Nos. 420 and 415, where additional lines are given.

6 Pyth. viii. 135.

7 Cf. Mullach, Frag. Philos. Graec. iii. p. 147.

8 Frag. 73 (ed. Wimmer).

9 Od. xviii. 130.

10 Od. xviii. 136.

11 Il. vi. 145.

12 Il. xxi. 463.

13 Cf. Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 21.

14 Cf. Moralia 177 C and Plutarch's Life of Alexander, chap. iii. (p. 666 A).

15 He was condemned to drink hemlock, according to the usual tradition; cf. Xenophon, Hellenica, ii. 3. 54-56, and Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 21.

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