Let us compare with his some few acts of those who are by all allowed to be philosophers. Socrates yielded to the lustful embraces of Alcibiades. Alexander, when Philoxenus, governor of the sea-coasts, wrote to him concerning an Ionian lad that had not his equal for youthful beauty, and desired to know whether he should e sent to him or not, returned him this nipping answer: Vilest of men, when wast thou ever privy to any desires of mine, [p. 490] that thou shouldst think to flatter me with such abhorred allurements? We admire the abstinency of Xenocrates for refusing the gift of fifty talents which Alexander sent him; but do we take no notice of the munificence of the giver? Or is the bountiful person not to be thought as much a contemner of money as he that refuses it? Xenocrates needed not riches, by reason of his philosophy; but Alexander wanted wealth, by reason of the same philosophy, that he might be more liberal to such persons. . . . How often has Alexander borne witness to this in the midst of a thousand dangers? It is true, we believe that it is in the power of all men to judge rightly of things; for nature guides us of herself to virtue and bravery. But herein philosophers excel all others, that they have by education acquired a fixed and solid judgment to encounter whatever dangers they meet with. For most men have no such maxims to defend them as this in Homer,—
Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,And that other of Demosthenes,—
And needs no omen but his country's cause.
Death is the certain end of all mankind.But sudden apparitions of imminent danger many times break our resolutions; and the fancy troubled with the imagination of approaching peril chases away true judgment from her seat. For fear not only astonishes the memory, according to the saying of Thucydides,3 but it dissipates all manner of consideration, sense of honor, and resolution; while philosophy binds and keeps them together. . . . 4