O wonder, how much milder has it grown!3Yet this mildness has brought about no inactivity or feebleness in you, but, like the earth when it has been subdued by cultivation, it has received a smoothness and depth conducive to fruitful action in place of that impetuousness of yours and quickness of temper. For that reason it is evident that the spirited part of your soul is not withering away through any abatement of vigour caused by age, nor yet spontaneously, but that it is receiving the skilful treatment of some excellent precepts. And yet - for I shall tell you the plain truth - when our friend Eros4 told me all this, I suspected that he was bearing witness, by reason of his goodwill, to qualities that were not actually present in you, yet should be so in men of breeding, although, as you know, he is by no means the sort of man to surrender his own opinion as a favour to anyone. But as things are, Eros stands acquitted of the charge of bearing false witness, and do you, since our journey5 gives us leisure for conversation, tell me, as though you were recounting some medical treatment, what remedy you used that you have made your temper so obedient to the rein and tender-mouthed, so mild and subservient to reason. Fundanus. Well, what about you, my generous friend Sulla? Are you careful not to let your [p. 97] goodwill and friendship for me make you overlook some of my real qualities? For since on many occasions not even Eros himself can keep his temper in its place in that Homeric6 obedience, but when it becomes too exasperated through hatred of evil, it is reasonable to suppose that I appear more gentle to him, just as in changes of key certain high notes assume the position of low notes in contrast with other high notes. Sulla. Neither of these suppositions is true, Fundanus. Please do as I ask.
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1 Sextius Sulla, a friend of Plutarch (cf. Moralia, 636 a, and Prosopographia Imperii Romani, iii. p. 239).
2 C. Minicius Fundanus, a friend of Pliny (Epp., v. 16); cf. Pros. Imp. Rom., ii. p. 377.
3 Homer, Il., xxii. 373.
4 This friend of Plutarch is mentioned again in connexion with Fundanus in 464 e, infra.
5 See Hirzel, Der Dialog, ii. p. 168, note 4.
6 Od., xx. 23, cited in full 506 b, infra.