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When we discuss Virtue we debate the question whether Prudence, Justice, and the Good Life can be taught; then we are surprised that the achievements of orators, pilots, musicians, architects, and farmers are past counting, whereas ‘good men’ is only a name and a mere term, like ‘Centaurs,’ ‘Giants,’ or ‘Cyclopes’! And it is impossible to find any deed that is faultless as regards its virtue, or any character undefiled by passion, or any life untouched by dishonour ; but even if Nature does spontaneously produce something that is excellent, this excellence is obscured by much that is foreign to it, like wheat mixed with wild and impure stuff.1 Men learn to play the harp, to dance and to read, to farm and to ride the horse ; they learn to put on shoes and to don garments, they are taught to pour wine and to bake meat. All these things it is impossible to do properly without instruction ; but shall that for the attainment of which all these things are done, that is, the Good Life, be unteachable, irrational, requiring no skill, and fortuitous?
1 i.e. tares; cf. Moralia, 51 a.