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THE first question is, Whether at table it is allowable to philosophize? For I remember at a supper at Athens this doubt was started, whether at a merry meeting it was fit to use philosophical discourse, and how far it might be used? And Aristo presently cried out: What then, for heaven's sake, are there any that banish philosophy from company and wine? And I replied: Yes, sir, there are, and such as with a grave scoff tell us that philosophy, like the matron of the house, should never be heard at a merry entertainment; and commend the custom of the Persians, who never let their wives appear, but drink, dance, and wanton with their whores. This they propose for us to imitate; they permit us to have mimics and music at our feasts, but forbid philosophy; she, forsooth, being very unfit to be wanton with us, and we in a bad condition to be serious. Isocrates the rhetorician, when at a drinking bout some begged him to make a speech, only returned: With those things in which I have skill the time doth not suit; and in those things with which the time suits I have no skill.
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