But Heraclides of Pontus, in his treatise on Pleasure, speaks as follows—“Tyrants and kings, having all kinds of good things in their power, and having had experience of all things, place pleasure in the first rank, on the ground that pleasure makes the nature of man more magnanimous. Accordingly, all those who have honoured pleasure above everything, and who have deliberately chosen to live a life of luxury, have been magnanimous and magnificent people, as, [p. 821] for instance, the Medes and the Persians. For they, of all men, are those who hold pleasure and luxury in the highest honour; and they, at the same time, are the most valiant and magnanimous of all the barbarians. For to indulge in pleasure and luxury is the conduct of freeborn men and of a liberal disposition. For pleasure relaxes the soul and invigorates it. But labour belongs to slaves and to mean men; on which account they are contracted in their natural dispositions. And the city of the Athenians, while it indulged in luxury, was a very great city, and bred very magnanimous men. For they wore purple garments, and were clad in embroidered tunics; and they bound up their hair in knots, and wore golden grasshoppers over their foreheads and in their hair: and their slaves followed them, bearing folding chairs for them, in order that, if they wished to sit down, they might not be without some proper seat, and forced to put up with any chance seat. And these men were such heroes, that they conquered in the battle of Marathon, and they alone worsted the power of combined Asia. And all those who are the wisest of men, and who have the greatest reputation for wisdom, think pleasure the greatest good, Simonides certainly does when he says—
For what kind of human lifeAnd Pindar, giving advice to Hiero the tyrant of Syracuse, says—
Can be worth desiring,
If pleasure be denied to it?
What kingly power even?
Without pleasure e'en the gods
Have nothing to be envied for.
Never obscure fair pleasure in your life;And Homer, too, speaks of pleasure and indulgence in the following terms—
A life of pleasure is the best for man.
How sweet the products of a peaceful reign,—[p. 822] And again, he calls the gods “living at ease.” And “at ease” certainly means “without labour;” as if he meant to show by this expression, that the greatest of all evils is labour and trouble in life.
The heaven-taught poet and enchanting strain,
The well-fill'd palace, the perpetual feast,
A loud rejoicing, and a people blest!
How goodly seems it ever to employ
Man's social days in union and in joy;
The plenteous board high heap'd with cates divine,
And o'er the foaming bowl the laughing wine.