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But lastly, if death be the entire dissipation of soul and body (which was the third part of Socrates's comparison), [p. 315] even then it cannot be an evil. For this would produce a privation of sense, and consequently a complete freedom from all solicitude and care; and if no good, so no evil would befall us. For good and evil alike must by nature inhere in that which has existence and essence; but to that which is nothing, and wholly abolished out of the nature of things, neither of the two can belong. Therefore, when men die, they return to the same condition they were in before they were born. For as, before we came into the world, we were neither sensible of good nor afflicted with evil, so it will be when we leave it; and as those things which preceded our birth did not concern us, so neither will those things which are subsequent to our death:—
The dead secure from sorrow safe do lie,
'Tis the same thing not to be born and die.1

For it is the same state of existence after death as it was before we were born. Unless perhaps you will make a difference between having no being at all and the utter extinction of it, after the same manner that you make a distinction between an house and a garment after they are ruined and worn out, and at the time before the one was built and the other made. And if in this case there is no difference, it is plain that there is none between the state before we were born and that after we are dead. It is elegantly said by Arcesilaus, that death, which is called an evil, hath this peculiarly distinct from all that are thought so, that when it is present it gives us no disturbance, but when remote and in expectation only, it is then that it afflicts us. And indeed many out of the poorness of their spirit, having entertained most injurious opinions of it, have died even to prevent death. Epicharmus hath said excellently to this purpose: ‘It was united, it is now dissolved; it returns back whence it came,—earth to earth, the spirit to regions [p. 316] above. What in all this is grievous Nothing at all.’ But that which Cresphontes in Euripides saith of Hercules,—

For if he dwells below, beneath the earth,
With those whose life is gone, his strength is nought,
I would have changed into these words,—
For if he dwells below, beneath the earth,
With those whose life is gone, his woes are o'er.
This Laconic too is very noble:— Others before and after us will be, Whose age we're not permitted e'er to see. And again:—
These neither did live handsomely nor die,
Though both should have been done with decency.
But Euripides hath spoken incomparably well of those who labor under daily indispositions:—
I hate the man who studies to defeat
The power of death with artificial meat,
To baffle and prevent his fate does think,
And lengthens out his life with magic drink.
Whereas, when he a burden doth become,
Then he should die, because lie's troublesome.
Old age in modesty should then give place,
And so make way unto a brisker race.
But Merope moved the passion of the theatre with these masculine expressions:—
My sons by death are ravished from my side,
And I'm a widow, who was once a bride.
I am not thus selected to be crossed,
Others their sons and husbands too have lost.2
And we may not incongruously add these:—
What is become of that magnificence?
Where is King Croesus with his opulence?
Or where is Xerxes with his mighty pride,
Who with a bridge did curb the raging tide?
Inhabitants of darkness they became,
And now are living only in their fame.
Their riches have perished with their bodies.

[p. 317]

1 From Aeschylus.

2 From the Cresphontes of Euripides.

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