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And my brother said: I am not so much wiser than Bias, that, since he refused to be arbitrator between two only of his friends, I should pretend to be a judge between so many strangers and acquaintance; especially since it is not a money matter, but about precedence and dignity, as if I invited my friends not to treat them kindly, but to abuse them. Menelaus is accounted absurd and passed into a proverb, for pretending to advise when unasked; and sure he would be more ridiculous that instead of an entertainer should set up for a judge, when nobody requests him or submits to his determination which is the best and which the worst man in the company; for the guests do not come to contend about precedency, but to feast and be merry. Besides, it is no easy task for him to distinguish; for some claim respect by reason of their age, others from their familiarity and acquaintance; and, like those that make declamations consisting of comparisons, he must have Aristotle's τόποι and Thrasymachus's ὑπερβάλλοντες (books that furnish him with heads of argument) at his fingers' end; and all this to no good purpose or profitable effect, but to bring vanity from the bar and the theatre into our feasts and entertainments, and, whilst by good fellowship we endeavor to remit all other passions, to intend pride and arrogance, from which, in my opinion, we should be more careful to cleanse our souls than to wash our feet from dirt, that our conversation may be free, simple, and fill of mirth. And while by such meetings we strive to end all differences that have at any time risen amongst the [p. 206] invited, we should make them flame anew, and kindle them again by emulation, by thus debasing some and puffing up others. And if, according as we seat them, we should drink oftener and discourse more with some than others, and set daintier dishes before them, instead of being friendly we should be lordly in our feasts. And if in other things we treat them all equally, why should we not begin at the first part, and bring it into fashion for all to take their seats promiscuously, without ceremony or pride, and to let them see, as soon as they enter, that they are invited to a dinner whose order is free and democratical, and not as particular chosen men to the government of a city where aristocracy is the form; since the richest and the poorest sit promiscuously together.
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