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And especially self-love and morosity, together with luxury and effeminacy, breed in us long and frequent fits of anger, which by little and little are gathered together into our souls, like a swarm of bees or wasps. Wherefore there is nothing more conducing to a gentle behavior towards our wife and servants and friends than contentedness and simplicity, if we can be satisfied with what we have, and not stand in need of many superfluities. Whereas the man described in the poet,—
Who never is content with boiled or roast,
Nor likes his meat, what way soever drest,—
who can never drink unless he have snow by him, or eat bread if it be bought in the market, or taste victuals out of a mean or earthen vessel, or sleep on a bed unless it be swelled and puffed up with feathers, like to the sea when it is heaved up from the bottom; but who with cudgels and blows, with running, calling, and sweating doth hasten his servitors that wait at table, as if they were sent for plasters for some inflamed ulcer, he being slave to a weak, morose, and fault-finding style of life,—doth, as it were by a continual cough or many buffetings, breed in himself, before he is aware, an ulcerous and defluxive disposition unto anger. And therefore the body is to be accustomed to contentment by frugality, and so be made sufficient for itself. For they who need but few things are not disappointed of many; and it is no hard matter, beginning with our food, to accept quietly whatever is sent to us, and not by being angry and querulous at every thing, to entertain ourselves and our friends with the most unpleasant dish of all, which is anger. And surely
Than that supper nought can more unpleasant be,
[p. 53] where the servants are beaten and the wife railed at, because something is burnt or smoked or not salt enough, or because the bread is too cold. Arcesilaus was once entertaining his friends and some strangers at a feast; the supper was set on the board, but there wanted bread, the servants having, it seems, neglected to buy any. Now, on such an occasion, which of us would not have rent the very walls with outcries? But he smiling said only: What a fine thing it is for a philosopher to be a jolly feaster! Once also when Socrates took Euthydemus from the wrestling-house home with him to supper, his wife Xanthippe fell upon him in a pelting chase, scolding him, and in conclusion overthrew the table. Whereupon Euthydemus rose up and went his way, being very much troubled at what had happened. But Socrates said to him: Did not a hen at your house the other day come flying in, and do the like? and yet I was not troubled at it. For friends are to be entertained by good-nature, by smiles, and by a hospitable welcome; not by knitting brows, or by striking horror and trembling into those that serve.

We must also accustom ourselves to the use of any cups indifferently, and not to use one rather than another, as some are wont to single some one cup out of many (as they say Marius used to do) or else a drinking-horn, and to drink out of none but that; and they do the same with oil-glasses and brushes, affecting one above all the rest, and when any one of these chances to be broken or lost, then they take it heinously, and punish severely those that did it. And therefore he that is prone to be angry should refrain from such things as are rare and curiously wrought, such as cups and seals and precious stones; for such things distract a man by their loss more than cheap and ordinary things are apt to do. Wherefore when Nero had made an octagonal tent, a wonderful spectacle for cost and beauty, Seneca said to him: You have proved yourself to be a [p. 54] poor man; for if you chance to lose this, you cannot tell where to get such another. And indeed it so fell out that the ship was sunk, and this tent was lost with it. But Nero, remembering the words of Seneca, bore the loss of it with greater moderation.

But this contentedness in other matters doth make a man good-tempered and gentle towards his servants; and if towards servants, then doubtless towards friends and subjects also. We see also that newly bought servants enquire concerning him that bought them, not whether he be superstitious or envious, but whether he be an angry man or not; and that universally, neither men can endure their wives, though chaste, nor women their husbands, though kind, if they be ill-tempered withal; nor friends the conversation of one another. And so neither wedlock nor friendship with anger is to be endured; but if anger be away, even drunkenness itself is counted a light matter. For the ferule of Bacchus is a sufficient chastiser of a drunken man, if the addition of anger do not change the God of wine from Lyaeus and Choraeus (the looser of cares and the leader of dances) to the savage and furious deity. And Anticyra (with its hellebore) is of itself able to cure simple madness; but madness mixed with anger furnishes matter for tragedies and dismal stories.

1 Odyss. XX. 892.

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