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Sophocles being asked by one whether he was able yet to company with a woman; Heavens defend, said he, I have got my liberty, and by means of my old age have escaped those mad and furious masters. For it is very fit and becoming that, when our pleasures leave us, those desires should do so too, which, as Alcaeus says,
'Twas never any man's good hap
Nor woman's wholly to escape.

But it is otherwise in the love of wealth, which, like a hard and severe mistress, compels us to get what it forbids us to enjoy, and excites an appetite but denies the pleasure of its gratification. Stratonicus wittily abused the Rhodians for their profuseness, when he said that they builded their houses as if they were immortal, but provided for their tables as if they were to live but a little while. So covetous men seem to be profuse by what they possess, when they are sordid wretches if you consider what they use and enjoy; for they endure labor, but taste no pleasure.

Demades once came to Phocion's house and surprised him as he was at dinner; and when he saw his frugal and slender diet, I much wonder, Phocion, says he, that you should manage state affairs, and can dine as you do. For this orator himself pleaded causes and harangued the people only for his gut; and looking upon Athens as affording too little a supply for his luxury, he fetched his provisions from Macedonia. For which cause Antipater, seeing him when he was an old man, compared him to a sacrifice when all was over and there remained nothing of the beast but only the tongue and the stomach. But who would not wonder at thee, O wretched man, who, being able to live as thou dost,—so sordidly, so unlike a man, [p. 299] bestowing nothing on anybody, being currish to thy friends, and without any ambition to serve the public,— yet afflictest thyself and watchest whole nights, hirest out thy labors, liest at catch for inheritances, crouchest to every one, when thou art so well provided by thy sordid parsimony to live at ease?

It is reported of a certain Byzantine, that, surprising a whoremaster with his wife that was very hard-favored, he cried out, O wretch, what compelled thee to do this?—for her dowry is my solace. It is necessary for kings, for procurators under them, for those that covet pre-eminence and rule over cities, that they should heap up treasure; they are forced through ambition, pride, and vain-glory to make feasts, to gratify friends, to maintain a retinue, to send presents, to feed armies, to purchase gladiators. But thou hast so much business lying upon thy hand, tormentest thyself, tumblest up and down, and all this while livest the life of a snail in thy shell through parsimony, and endurest all hardships, receiving no advantage at all; just like the bath-keeper's ass, that carries the wood and fuel for the fires and is always filled with the smoke and ashes of the stove, but itself is neither bathed nor warmed, washed nor cleansed there.

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