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To what purpose, said Solon, should I trouble him or myself to make enquiry in a matter so plain? For if it be a blessing next to the greatest to need little victuals, then it is the greatest felicity to need none at all. If I may have leave to deliver my opinion, quoth Cleodemus, I must profess myself of a different judgment, especially now we sit at table; for as soon as the meat is taken away, we have removed what belongs to those Gods that are the patrons of friendship and hospitality. As upon the removal of the earth, quoth Thales, there must needs follow an universal confusion of all things, so in forbidding men meat, there must needs follow the dispersion and dissolution of the family, the sacred fire, the cups, the feasts and entertainments, which are the principal and most innocent diversions of mankind; and so all the comforts of society are at end. For to men of business some recreation is necessary, and the preparation and use of victuals conduces much thereunto. Again, to be without victuals would tend to the destruction of husbandry, for want whereof the earth would soon be overgrown with weeds, and through the sloth of men overflowed with waters. And together with this, all arts would fail which are supported and encouraged hereby; nay, more, take away hospitality and the use of victuals, and the worship and honor of the Gods will sink and perish; the sun will have but small and the moon yet smaller reverence, if they afford men only light and heat. And who will build an altar or offer sacrifice to Jupiter Pluvius, or to Ceres the patroness of husbandmen, or to Neptune the preserver of plants and trees? Or how can [p. 29] Bacchus be any longer termed the donor of all good things, if men make no further use of the good things he gives? What shall men sacrifice? What first-fruits shall they offer? In short, the subversion and confusion of the greatest blessings attend this opinion. Promiscuously and indefatigably to pursue all sorts of pleasures I own to be brutish, and to avoid all with a suitable aversion equally blockish; let the mind then freely enjoy such pleasures as are agree able to its nature and temper. But for the body, there is certainly no pleasure more harmless and commendable and fitting than that which springs from a plentiful table,— which is granted by all men; for, placing this in the mid die, men converse with one another and share in the provision. As to the pleasures of the bed, men use these in the dark, reputing the use thereof no less shameful and beastly than the total disuse of the pleasures of the table.

Cleodemus having finished this long harangue, I began to this effect. You omit one thing, my friend, how they that decry food decry sleep too, and they that declaim against sleep declaim against dreams in the same breath, and so destroy the primitive and ancient way of divination. Add to this, that our whole life will be of one form and fashion, and our soul enclosed in a body to no purpose; many and those the principal parts thereof are naturally so formed and fashioned as to be organs of nutriment; so the tongue, the teeth, the stomach, and the liver, whereof none are idle, none flamed for other use. so that whosoever hath no need of nutriment has no need of his body; that is, in other words, no man hath any need of himself, for every man hath a body of his own. This I have thought fit to offer in vindication of our bellies; if Solon or any other has any thing to object to what I have said, I am willing to hear him.

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