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AT Chaeronea, Diogenianus the Pergamenian being present, we had a long discourse at an entertainment about music; and we had a great deal of trouble to hold out against a great bearded sophister of the Stoic sect, who quoted Plato as blaming a company that admitted flute-girls and were not able to entertain one another with discourse. And Philip the Prusian, of the same sect, said: Those guests of Agatho, whose discourse was more sweet than the sound of any pipe in the world, were no good authority in this case; for it was no wonder that in their company the flute-girl was not regarded; but it is strange that, in the midst of the entertainment, the extreme pleasantness of the discourse had not made them forget their meat and drink. Yet Xenophon thought it not indecent to bring in to Socrates, Antisthenes, and the like the jester Philip; as Homer doth an onion to make the wine relish. And Plato [p. 388] brought in Aristophanes's discourse of love, as a comedy, into his entertainment; and at the last, as it were drawing all the curtains, he shows a scene of the greatest variety imaginable,—Alcibiades drunk, frolicking, and crowned. Then follows that pleasant raillery between him and Socrates concerning Agatho, and the encomium of Socrates; and when such discourse was going on, good Gods! had it not been allowable, if Apollo himself had come in with his harp ready, to desire the God to forbear till the argument was out? These men, having such a pleasant way of discoursing, used these arts and insinuating methods, and graced their entertainments by facetious raillery. But shall we, being mixed with tradesmen and merchants, and some (as it now and then happens) ignorants and rustics, banish out of our entertainments this ravishing delight, or fly the musicians, as if they were Sirens, as soon as we see them coming? Clitomachus the wrestler, rising and getting away when any one talked of love, was much wondered at; and should not a philosopher that banisheth music from a feast, and is afraid of a musician, and bids his linkboy presently light his link and be gone, be laughed at, since he seems to abominate the most innocent pleasures, as beetles do ointment? For, if at any time, certainly over a glass of wine, music should be allowed, and then chiefly the harmonious God should have the direction of our souls; so that Euripides, though I like him very well in other things, shall never persuade me that music, as he would have it, should be applied to melancholy and grief. For there sober and serious reason, like a physician, should take care of the diseased men; but those pleasures should be mixed with Bacchus, and serve to increase our mirth and frolic. Therefore it was a pleasant saying of that Spartan at Athens, who, when some new tragedians were to contend for the prize, seeing the preparations of the masters of the dances, the hurry and busy diligence of the [p. 389] instructors, said, the city was certainly mad which sported with so much pains. He that designs to sport should sport, and not buy his ease and pleasure with great expense, or the loss of that time which might be useful to other things; but whilst he is feasting and free from business, those should be enjoyed. And it is advisable to try amidst our mirth, whether any profit is to be gotten from our delights.
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