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And therefore let us consider these in the first place. The pleasure then that affects the sense of smelling with sweet odors and fragrant exhalations, besides that it has something in it which is pure in itself, and as it were bestowed upon us gratis, contributes also in some measure to the distinction of nourishment. For the tongue is said to be the judge of sweet, sour, and tart, only when the juices have come to be mingled and concorporate with the tasting faculty, and not before. But our smell, before the taste, becoming sensible of the virtue and qualities of every thing, and being more accurate than the tasters attending upon princes, admits what is familiar to Nature, and expels whatever is disagreeable to it; neither will it suffer it to touch or molest the taste, but accuses and declares the offensiveness of the thing smelt, before it do any harm. As to other things, it troubles us not at all as it does you, [p. 228] whom it constrains for the sake of the sweet scents of cinnamon, nard, malobathrum, and Arabian reed, to seek out for things dissimilar, and to jumble them together with a kind of apothecary's or perfumer's art, and at vast expense to purchase an unmanly and effeminate delight, for nothing profitable or useful. Now being such, this sense of smelling has not only corrupted all the female sex but the greatest part of men, insomuch that they care not to converse with their own wives, unless perfumed with precious ointments and odoriferous compositions. Whereas sows, she-goats, and other females attract the boars, he-goats, and the males of their own kind, by their own proper scents; and smelling of the pure dew, the meadows, and the fresh grass, they are incited to copulation out of common affection; the females without the coynesses of women, or the practice of little frauds and fascinations, to inflame the lust of their mates; and the males, not with amorous rage and frenzy stimulated, and enforced to purchase the act of generation with expensive hire or servile assiduity, but enjoying their seasonable amours without deceit or purchase of the satisfaction of their venery. For Nature in the spring-time, even as she puts forth the buds of plants, likewise awakens the desires of animals, but presently quenches them again, neither the female admitting the male nor the male attempting the female after conception. And thus pleasure has but a small and slender esteem among us; but Nature is all in all. So that even to this very day, we beasts were never yet tainted with coupling male with male, and female with female. Of which nevertheless there are many examples to be produced among the greatest and most celebrated persons; for I pass by those not worth remembrance.

Agamemnon hunted all Boeotia in pursuit of Argynnus, who fled his embraces; and after he had falsely accused the sea and winds, bravely flung himself into the lake Copais, [p. 229] to quench his love and free himself from the ardor of his lust.

Hercules in like manner pursuing his beardless friend, forsook his choicest associates and abandoned the fleet.

In the vaulted room belonging to Apollo surnamed Ptous, one of you men secretly wrote this inscription, Achilles the fair; when Achilles at that time had a son. [And I hear the inscription is still remaining.]1 Yet if a cock tread a cock in the absence of the hen, he is burned alive, upon the signification of the soothsayer that it portends some fatal calamity. This is a plain confession in men themselves, that the beasts excel them in chastity, and that force is not to be put upon Nature for the sake of pleasure. But your incontinence is such, that Nature, though she have the law to assist her, is not able to keep it within bounds; insomuch that, like a rapid inundation, those inordinate desires overwhelm Nature with continual violence, trouble, and confusion. For men have copulated with she-goats, sows, and mares; and women have run mad after male beasts. And from such copulations sprang the Minotaurs and Silvans, and, as I am apt to believe, the Sphinxes and Centaurs. It is true, that sometimes, constrained by hunger, a dog or a bird has fed upon human flesh; but never yet did any beast attempt to couple with human kind. But men constrain and force the beasts to these and many other unlawful pleasures.

1 It seems incredible that Plutarch could have put this into the mouth of Gryllus, even by carelessness. (G.)

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