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THOSE, my Sossius Senecio, who throw philosophy out of entertainments do worse than those who take away a light. For the candle being removed, the temperate and sober guests will not become worse than they were before, being more concerned to reverence than to see one another. But if dulness and disregard to good learning wait upon the wine, Minerva's golden lamp itself could not make the entertainment pleasing and agreeable. For a company to sit silent and only cram themselves is, in good truth, swinish and almost impossible. But he that permits men to talk, yet doth not allow set and profitable discourses, is much more ridiculous than he who thinks that his guests should eat and drink, yet gives them foul wine, unsavory and nastily prepared meat. For no meat nor drink which is not prepared as it ought to be is so hurtful and unpleasant as discourse which is carried round in company insignificantly and out of season. The philosophers, when they would give drunkenness a vile name, call it doting by wine. Now doting is to use vain and trifling discourse; and when such babbling is accompanied by wine, it usually ends in most disagreeable and rude contumely and reproach. It is a good custom therefore of our women, who in their feasts called Agrionia seek after Bacchus as if he were run away, but in a little time give over the search, and cry that he is fled to the Muses and lurks with them; and some time after, when supper is done, put riddles and hard questions to one another. For this mystery teaches us, that midst our entertainments we should use learned and philosophical discourse, and such as hath a Muse in it; and that such discourse being applied to drunkenness, every thing that is brutish and outrageous in it is concealed, being pleasingly restrained by the Muses. [p. 400] This book, being the eighth of my Symposiacs, begins that discourse in which about a year ago, on Plato's birthday, I was concerned.
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