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For let us look back to ancient times, to those who first brought forth and who first saw a child born. Upon them certainly no law enjoined any necessity of rearing their offspring, nor could expectation of thanks oblige them to feed their infants, as if it were for usury. Nay, [p. 195] rather, they were angry with their children, and long remembered the injuries they had received from them, as authors of so many dangers and of so much pain and travail to them.
As when keen darts the fierce Ilithyiae send;
the powers that cause the teeming matron's throes,
Sad mothers of unutterable woes!

These verses, some say, were not written by Homer, but by some Homeress, who either had been or was then in travail, and felt the very pangs in her bowels. Yet the love implanted by Nature melts and sways the childbed woman. While she is still in a sweat and trembling for pain, she is not averse to her infant; but turns it to her, smiles on it, hugs and kisses it. Though she finds no true sweetness, nor yet profit, however, ‘she sometimes rocks it in a warm cradle, sometimes she dances it in the cool air, turning one toil into another, resting neither night nor day.’

For what reward or gain was all this? For as little then as now; for the hopes are uncertain and far off. He that plants a vine in the vernal equinox gathers grapes upon it in the autumnal. He that sows wheat at the setting of the Pleiades reaps it at their rising. Cows, mares, and birds bring forth young ready for use. Man's education is laborious, his increase slow, his virtue lies at a distance; so that most parents die before their children show their virtue. Neocles never saw Themistocles's victory at Salamis, nor Miltiades the valor of Cimon at Eurymedon; Xanthippus never heard Pericles pleading; nor Aristo Plato philosophizing; nor did the fathers of Euripides and Sophocles know the victories their sons won, though they heard them indeed stammering and learning to talk. It is the mishap of fathers to see the revelling, drinking, and love intrigues of their children; to which purpose that of Evenus is memorable, [p. 196]

Terror or grief unto his father's heart
A son must ever be.

And yet men find no end of rearing of children; they especially who have no need of them. For it is ridiculous to think that rich men, when they have children born to them, sacrifice and rejoice that they may have some to maintain and to bury them. Or is it perhaps that they bring up children for want of heirs, because, forsooth, men cannot be found to accept of another man's estate? ‘Sand, dust, and the feathers of all the birds in the world, are not so numerous’ as heirs are to other men's estates. Danaus was the father of fifty daughters; but if he had wanted issue, he might have had many more heirs. The case is far otherwise with children; they make not acknowledgments nor curry favor nor pay their devotions, as expecting the inheritance of due. But you may hear strangers who hang about them that have no heirs, talking like the comedian:

O Demos, having after judgment bathed,
Drink, eat a morsel, take three oboli.

And what Euripides said,

'Tis money that procures us friends to choose,
And mightiest power o'er all things that men use,

does not universally hold true, but of such only as have no children. To such the rich give banquets, such great men honor, and for such only lawyers plead gratis. ‘A rich man who has no known heir can do great matters.’ Many a man who has had a great number of friends and followers, as soon as he has had a child, has been divested of all his alliances and power. So that children do not augment a man's power; but their whole power over their parents' affection is due to Nature, and is shown no less in men than in beasts.

1 Il. XI. 269.

2 Aristoph. Knights, 50.

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