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But because thou believest me to be a sophister, I shall observe a certain order in my discourse, first giving thee the definition of temperance, and then dividing desire [p. 226] according to the several kinds of it. Temperance then is the contracting and well governing our desires, pruning off those that are superfluous and encroaching upon our wills, and ruling those that are necessary by the standards of reason and moderation. Now in desires you observe a vast number of distinctions. For it is both natural and necessary to drink; but as for venereal desires, which derive their originals from Nature, there is a time when they may be restrained without any inconvenience; these are therefore called natural but not necessary. But there is another sort, which are neither natural nor necessary, but infused from without by vain opinion through the mistake of right and true; and it is these that want but very little of ruining all your natural desires with their number, like a multitude of foreigners outnumbering the natives and expelling them from their habitations. But the beasts, having their souls unmixed and not to be overcome by these adventitious passions, and living lives as distant from vain opinion as from the sea, are inferior to you in living elegantly and superfluously, but they are extremely wary in preserving temperance and the right government of their desires, as being neither troubled with many, nor those foreign to their natures. And therefore formerly I was no less smitten with the glister of gold than thou art now, as believing nothing else that a man could possess to be comparable to it. Silver also and ivory inveigled me with the same desires; and he that enjoyed these things in the greatest measure seemed to be a man most happy and beloved of God, whether a Phrygian or a Carian, whether more meanly descended than Dolon or more miserable than Priam. From thenceforward being altogether swayed by my desires, I reaped no other pleasure nor delight in any other blessings of my life, with which I abounded, believing that I wanted still and missed my share of those that were the chiefest and the greatest. Therefore, I remember, [p. 227] when I beheld thee in Crete, at some solemnity, most pompously attired, I neither envied thy wisdom nor thy virtue; but the extraordinary fineness and exquisite workmanship of thy tunic, and the glistering of thy purple upper garment, and the beauty of the ornaments struck me with admiration. And the golden clasp, methought, was a pretty toy that had something of extraordinary graving in it; and bewitched with these baubles, I followed thee as the women did. But now being altogether estranged from those vain opinions, and having my understanding purified, I tread both gold and silver under my feet as I do the common stones; nor did I ever sleep more soundly upon thy carpets and tapestries, than now I do, rolled over head and ears in the deep and soft mud. None of those adventitious desires reside in our souls, but for the most part our manner of living is accustomed to necessary pleasures and desires; and as for those pleasures which are not necessary but only natural, we make such a use of them as is neither without order nor moderation.

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load focus English (Harold Cherniss and William C. Helmbold, 1957)
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