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But when they mourn over those who die so untimely, do they do it upon their own account, or upon that of the deceased? If upon their own, because they have lost that pleasure they thought they should have enjoyed in them, or are deprived of that profit they expectedor that relief they flattered themselves they should receive from them in their old age, then self-love and personal interest prescribe the measures of their sorrow; so that upon the result they do net love the dead so much as themselves and their own interest. But if they lament upon the account of the deceased, that is a grief easily to be shaken off, if they only consider that by their very death they will be out of the sphere of any evil that can reach them, and believe the wise and ancient saying, that we should always augment what is good, and extenuate the evil. Therefore if grief is a good thing, let us enlarge and make it as great as we can; but if it is numbered amongst the evils, as in truth it ought to be, let us endeavor all we can to suppress it, make it as inconsiderable as we can, and at last utterly efface it. How easy this is to be done, I will make appear by an illustrious example of consolation. They say that an ancient philcsopher came to the Queen Arsinoe, who was then sorrowful for the death of her son, and discoursed her after this manner: ‘At the time that Jupiter distributed honors amongst his under-deities, it happened that Grief was absent; but he came at last when all the dignities were disposed of, and then desired that he might have some share in the promotions. Jupiter, having no better vacancies left, bestowed upon him sorrow and funeral tears.’ He [p. 320] made this inference from the story: ‘Therefore,’ saith he, ‘as other daemons love and frequent those who give them hospitable reception, so sadness will never come near you, if you do not give it encouragement; but if you caress it with those particular honors which it challengeth as its due, which are sighs and tears, it will have an unlucky affection for you, and will always supply you with fresh occasion that the observance may be continued.’ By this plausible speech he seems in a wonderful manner to have buoyed this great woman out of her tears, and to have made her cast off her veil.

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load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
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