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GRYLLUS. Rather what virtues do they not partake of in a higher degree than the wisest of men? Look upon fortitude in the first place, of which you vaunt and brag to have such a terrible share, being not ashamed of the magnificent titles of Ulysses the bold and city-stormer, when indeed, like a pitiful knave as thou art, thou dost only circumvent by tricks and artifices men that understand only the simple and generous way of making war, ignorant altogether of fraud and faith-breaking, and by that means coverest thy deceit with the name of virtue, which never admits of any such coney-catching devices. But do you observe the combats and warfare of beasts, as well one against another as against yourselves, how free from craft and deceit they are, and how with an open and naked courage they defend themselves by mere strength of body; and how, neither afraid of the law that calls them forth to battle nor the severe edicts against deserters, but only out of scorn to be overcome, they fight with obstinacy to the last for conquest and victory. For they are not vanquished when their bodies are worsted, neither does despair cowardize them, but they die upon the spot. And you shall see many times that the strength of many, while they are expiring, being retired and crowded together in some part of the body, still makes resistance against the victor, and pants and fumes till at length it fails like extinguished fire that goes out for want of fuel. But there is no crying for quarter, no begging of mercy, no acknowledgment of being beaten; nor will the lion be a slave to the lion, nor the horse to the horse, as one man is a slave to another, willingly and patiently embracing servitude, which derives its name (δουλεία) from that of cowardice (δειλία). On the other side, such beasts as men by nets and treacherous snares get into their power, if fully grown, rather choose to die than serve, refusing nourishment and suffering extremity of drought. But as for their young [p. 223] ones,—being tractable and supple by reason of their age, and fed with the deceitful mixtures and food that men provide for them, their inbred fierceness languishing through the taste of preternatural delights,—they suffer that which is called domestication, which is only an effeminating of their natural fury.

Whence it is apparent that beasts are naturally inclined to be courageous and daring, but that the martial confidence of men is preternatural. Which, most noble Ulysses, you may chiefly observe from hence; for that in beasts Nature keeps an equal balance of strength; so that the female, being but little inferior to the male, undergoes all necessary toils, and fights in defence of her young ones. And thus you hear of a certain Cromyonian sow, which, though a female, held Theseus tack, and found him work sufficient. Neither had the wisdom of that same female Sphinx that sat on Phicium, with all her riddles and enigmas, availed her, had she not far excelled the Cadmeans in strength and fortitude. Not far from whence the Telmesian fox had his den, a great propounder of questions also; not to omit the female serpent that fought with Apollo for his oracle at Delphi. Your king also took the mare Aetha from the Sicyonian, as a bribe to discharge him from going to the wars; and he did well, thereby showing how much he esteemed a valiant and generous mare above a timorous coward. You yourself have also seen female panthers and lionesses little inferior to the males in strength and courage; when your own wife, though a Lacedaemonian, when you were hectoring and blustering abroad, sat at home in the chimney-corner, not daring to do so much as the very swallows in encountering those who plagued both her and her family. Why need I still speak of the Carian and Maeonian women? Whence it is apparent that fortitude is not natural to men, for then the women would partake of the same strength with men. [p. 224] So that the fortitude which you exercise is only constrained by law, not natural and voluntary, but subservient to the manners of the place and enslaved to reproach, a thing made up only of glorious words and adventitious opinion. And you undergo labor and throw yourself into danger, not out of real valor and boldness, but because ye are more afraid of other things. Therefore, as among thy own companions he that first makes haste to snatch up the light oar does it not because he contemns it, but because he is loath to be troubled with the more heavy; so he that endures a blow to avoid a wound, and defends himself against an enemy to preserve himself from wounds and death, does it not out of daring courage against the one, but out of fear of the other. Thus your fortitude is only a prudent fear; and your courage a knowing timidity, which understandingly does one thing to avoid another.

In short, if you believe yourselves superior to the beasts in fortitude, why do your poets call those that behave themselves most valiantly against their enemies wolf-breasted, lion-hearted, and compare them to wild boars; but never call the courage of lions man-like, or resemble the strength of a wild boar to that of a man? But as they call the swift wind-footed, and the beautiful Godlike-formed, hyperbolizing in their similes; so when they extol the gallantry of the stout in battle, they derive their comparisons from the superior in bravery. The reason is, because courage is as it were the tincture and edge of fortitude; which the beasts make use of unmixed in their combats, but in you being mixed with reason, like wine diluted with water, it gives way to danger and loses the opportunity. And some of you there are who deny that courage is requisite in battle, and therefore laying it aside make use of sober reason; which they do well for their preservation, but are shamefully beside the cushion, in point of strength and revenge. How absurd is it therefore [p. 225] for you to complain of Nature, because she did not furnish your bodies with goads and teeth and crooked claws to defend yourselves, when at the same time you would disarm the soul of her natural weapons?

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