Then after a little while he proceeds to the praises of Laurentius, and says that he, being a man of a munificent spirit, and one who collected numbers of learned men about him, feasted them not only with other things, but also with conversation, at one time proposing questions deserving of investigation, and at another asking for information himself; not suggesting subjects without examination, or in any random manner, but as far as was possible with a critical and Socratic discernment; so that every one marvelled at the systematic character of his questions. And he says, too, that he was appointed superintendant of the temples and sacrifices by that best of all sovereigns Marcus;1 and that he was no less conversant with the literature of the Greeks than with that of [p. 4] his own countrymen. And he calls him a sort of Asteropæus,2 equally acquainted with both languages. And he says that he was well versed in all the religious ceremonies instituted by Romulus, who gave his name to the city, and by Numa Pompilius; and that he is learned in all the laws of politics; and that he has arrived at all this learning solely from the study of ancient decrees and resolutions; and from the collection of the laws which (as Eupolis, the comic writer, says of the poems of Pindar) are already reduced to silence by the disinclination of the multitude for elegant learning. He had also, says he, such a library of ancient Greek books, as to exceed in that respect all those who are remarkable for such collections; such as Polycrates of Samos, and Pisistratus who was tyrant of Athens, and Euclides who was himself also an Athenian, and Nicorrates the Samian, and even the kings of Pergamos, and Euripides the poet, and Aristotle the philosopher, and Nelius his librarian; from whom they say that our countryman Ptolemæus, surnamed Philadelphus, bought them all, and transported them with all those which he had collected at Athens and at Rhodes to his own beautiful Alexandria. So that a man may fairly quote the verses of Antiphanes and apply them to him:—
You court the heav'nly muse with ceaseless zeal,And as the Theban lyric poet3 says:—
And seek to open all the varied stores
Of high philosophy.
Nor less renown'd his hand essaysAnd when inviting people to his feasts, he causes Rome to be looked upon as the common country of all of them. For who can regret what he has left in his own country, while dwelling with a man who thus opens his house to all his friends. For as Apollodorus the comic poet says:—
To wake the muse's choicest lays,
Such as the social feast around
Full oft our tuneful band inspire.
Whene'er you cross the threshhold of a friend,
How welcome you may be needs no long time
To feel assured of; blithe the porter looks,
[p. 5] The house-dog wags his tail, and rubs his nose
Against your legs; and servants hasten quick,
Unbidden all, since their lord's secret wish
Is known full well, to place an easy chair
To rest your weary limbs.