These things, my friend, and such like we say and
sing to those who, by being banished into an island, have
no correspondence or commerce with other people,
Hindered by waves of the surrounding deep,
Which many 'gainst their mind close prisoners keep.
But as for thee, who art not assigned to one place only,
but forbidden only to live in one, the prohibiting thee one
is the giving thee leave to dwell anywhere else besides.
If on one hand it is urged thus against you: You are in
no office, you are not of the senate, nor preside as moderator at the public games, you may oppose on the other
hand thus: We head no factions, we make no expensive
treats, nor give long attendance at the governor's gates;
we care not at all who is chosen into our province, though
he be choleric or unsufferably vexatious.
But just as Archilochus disparaged the island of Thasos
because of its asperity and inequality in some places,
overlooking its fruitful fields and vineyards, saying thus
Like ridge of ass's back it stood,
Full of wild plants, for nothing good;
so we, whilst we pore upon one part of banishment which
is ignominious, overlook its vacancy from business, and
that leisure and freedom it affords us.
Men admired the happiness of the Persian kings, that
passed their winter in Babylon, their summer in Media,
and the pleasant spring-time at Susa. And he that is an
exile may, if he pleases, when the mysteries of Ceres are
celebrated, go and live at Eleusis; and he may keep the
feasts of Bacchus at Argos; at the time of the Pythian
games, he may pass over to Delphi, and of the Isthmian,
to Corinth, if public spectacles and shows are the things
he admires; if not, then he may be idle, or walk, or read,
or sleep quietly; and you may add that privilege Diogenes
bragged of when he said, ‘Aristotle dines when it seems
good to King Philip, but Diogenes when he himself pleases,’
having no business, no magistrate, no prefect to interrupt
and disturb his customary way of living.