previous next

Diogenianus, either designedly or for want of breath, [p. 392] ended thus. And when the sophister came upon him again, and contended that some of Aristophanes's verses should be recited, Philip speaking to me said: Diogenianus hath had his wish in praising his beloved Menander, and seems not to care for any of the rest. There are a great many sorts which we have not at all considered, concerning which I should be very glad to have your opinion; and the prize for carvers we will set up to-morrow, when we are sober, if Diogenianus and this stranger think fit. Of representations, said I, some are mythical, and some are farces; neither of these are fit for an entertainment; the first by reason of their length and cost, and the latter being so full of filthy discourse and lewd actions, that they are not fit to be seen by the foot-boys that wait on civil masters. Yet the rabble, even with their wives and young sons, sit quietly to be spectators of such representations as are apt to disturb the soul more than the greatest debauch in drink. The harp ever since Homer's time was well acquainted with feasts and entertainments, and therefore it is not fitting to dissolve such an ancient friendship and acquaintance; but we should only desire the harpers to forbear their sad notes and melancholy tunes, and play only those that are delighting, and fit for such as are making merry. The pipe, if we would, we cannot reject, for the libation in the beginning of the entertainment requires that as well as the garland. Then it insinuates and passeth through the ears, spreading even to the very soul a pleasant sound, which produceth serenity and calmness; so that, if the wine hath not quite dissolved or driven away all vexing solicitous anxiety, this, by the softness and delightful agreeableness of its sound, smooths and calms the spirits, if so be that it keeps within due bounds, and doth not elevate too much, and, by its numerous surprising divisions, raise an ecstasy in the soul which wine hath weakened and made easy to be perverted. For as brutes do [p. 393] not understand a rational discourse, yet lie down or rise up at the sound of a shell or whistle, or of a chirp or clap; so the brutish part of the soul, which is incapable either of understanding or obeying reason, men conquer by songs and tunes, and by music reduce it to tolerable order. But to speak freely what I think, no pipe nor harp simply played upon, and without a song with it, can be very fit for an entertainment. For we should still accustom ourselves to take our chiefest pleasure from discourse, and spend our leisure time in profitable talk, and use tunes and airs as a sauce for the discourse, and not singly by themselves, to please the unreasonable delicacy of our palate. For as nobody is against pleasure that ariseth from sauce or wine going in with our necessary food, but Socrates flouts and refuseth to admit that superfluous and vain pleasure which we take in perfumes and odors at a feast; thus the sound of a pipe or harp, when singly applied to our ears, we utterly reject, but if it accompanies words, and together with an ode feasts and delights our reason, we gladly introduce it. And we believe the famed Marsyas was punished by Apollo for pretending, when he had nothing but his single pipe, and his muzzle to secure his lips, to contend with the harp and song of the God. Let us only take care that, when we have such guests as are able to cheer one another with philosophy and good discourse, we do not introduce any thing that may rather prove an uneasy hindrance to the conversation than promote it. For not only are those fools, who, as Euripides says, having safety at home and in their own power, yet would hire some from abroad; but those too who, having pleasantness enough within, are eager after some external pastimes to comfort and delight them. That extraordinary piece of honor which the Persian king showed Antalcidas the Spartan seemed rude and uncivil, when he dipped a garland composed of crocus and roses in ointment, and sent it him to [p. 394] wear, by that dipping putting a slight upon and spoiling the natural sweetness and beauty of the flowers. He doth as bad, who having a Muse in his own breast, and all the pleasantness that would fit an entertainment, will have pipes and harps play, and by that external adventitious noise destroy all the sweetness that was proper and his own. But in short, all ear-delights are fittest then, when the company begins to be disturbed, fall out, and quarrel, for then they may prevent raillery and reproach, and stop the dispute that is running on to sophistical and unpleasant wrangling, and bridle all babbling declamatory altercations, so that the company maybe freed of noise and quietly composed.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1892)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: