Anacharsis after all this discourse spake to this purpose: Since Thales has asserted the being of a soul in all the principal and most noble parts of the universe, it is no wonder that the most commendable acts are governed by an over-ruling Power; for, as the body is the organ of the soul, so the soul is an instrument in the hand of God. Now as the body has many motions of its own proceeding from itself, but the best and most from the soul, so the soul acts some things by its own power, but in most things it is subordinate to the will and power of God, whose glorious instrument it is. To me it seems highly unreasonable—and I should be but too apt to censure the wisdom of the Gods, if I were convinced.—that they use fire, and water, and wind, and clouds, and rain for the preservation and welfare of some and for the detriment and destruction of others, while at the same time they make no use of living creatures that are doubtless more serviceable to their ends than bows are to the Scythians or harps or pipes to the Greeks.

Chersias the poet broke off this discourse, and told the company of divers that were miraculously preserved to his [p. 40] certain knowledge, and more particularly of Cypselus, Periander's father, who being newly born, his adversary sent a party of bloody fellows to murder him. They found the child in his nurse's arms, and seeing him smile innocently upon them, they had not the heart to hurt him, and so departed; but presently recalling themselves and considering the peremptoriness of their orders, they returned and searched for him, but could not find him, for his mother had hid him very carefully in a chest.1 When he came to years of discretion, and understood the greatness of his former danger and deliverance, he consecrated a chapel at Delphi to Apollo, by whose care he conceived himself preserved from crying in that critical time, and by his cries from betraying his own life. Pittacus, addressing his discourse to Periander, said: It is well done of Chersias to make mention of that chapel, for this brings to my mind a question I several times purposed to ask you but still forgot, namely,—To what intent all those frogs were carved upon the palm-tree before the door, and how they affect either the Deity or the dedicator? Periander remitted him to Chersias for answer, as a person better versed in these matters, for he was present when Cypselus consecrated the chapel. But Chersias smiling would not satisfy them, until they resolved him the meaning of these aphorisms; ‘Do not overdo,’ ‘Know thyself,’ but particularly and principally this,—which had scared divers from wedlock and others from suretyship and others from speaking at all,—‘Promise, and you are ruined.’ What need we to explain to you these, when you yourself have so mightily magnified E sop's comment upon each of them. Esop replied: When Chersias is disposed to jest with me upon these subjects, and to jest in earnest, he is pleased to father such sayings and sentences upon Homer, who, bringing in Hector furiously flying upon others, yet at another time represents him as flying [p. 41] from Ajax son of Telamon,2—an argument that Hector knew himself. And Homer made Ulysses approve the saying ‘Do not overdo,’ when he besought his friend Diomedes not to commend him too much nor yet to censure him too much. And for suretyship he exposes it as a matter unsafe, nay highly dangerous, saying that to be bound for idle and wicked men is full of hazard.3 To confirm this, Chersias reported how Jupiter had thrown Ate headlong out of heaven, because she was by when he made the promise about the birth of Hercules whereby he was circumvented.

Here Solon interrupted: I am of this mind, that we now give ear to the most wise Homer,—

But now the night extends her awful shade:
The Goddess parts you: be the night obeyed.

If it please the company then, let us sacrifice to the Muses, to Neptune, and to Amphitrite, and so bid each adieu for this night.

This was the conclusion of that meeting, my dear Nicarchus.

1 Called κυψέλη in Greek, whence the child was named Cypselus. (G.)

2 Il. XI. 542.

3 Il. X. 249; Odyss. VIII. 351.

4 Il. VII. 282.

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