But Ulysses, in Homer, appears to have been the original guide to Epicurus, in the matter of that pleasure which he has always in his mouth; for Ulysses says to Alcinous—
. . . . . . . . Thou whom first in sway,But Megaclides says that Ulysses is here adapting himself to the times, for the sake of appearing to be of the same disposition as the Phæacians; and that with that view he embraces their luxurious habits, as he had already heard from Alcinous, speaking of his whole nation—
As first in virtue, these thy realms obey,
How goodly seems it ever to employ
Man's social days in union and in joy I
The plenteous board high heap'd with cates divine,
And o'er the foaming bowl the laughing wine,
[p. 823] The well-fill'd palace, the perpetual feast,
Are of all joys most lasting and the best.
To dress, to dance, to sing, our sole delight,for he thought that that would be the only way by which he could avoid failing in the hopes he cherished. And a similar man is he who recommends Amphilochus his son—
The feast or bath by day, and love by night;
Remember thou, my son, to always dwellAnd Sophocles speaks in a like spirit, in the Iphigenia—
In every city cherishing a mind
Like to the skin of a rock-haunting fish;
And always with the present company
Agree, but when away you can change your mind.
As the wise polypus doth quickly changeAnd Theognis says—
His hue according to the rocks he's near,
So change your mind and your apparent feelings.
Imitate the wary cunning of the polypus.And some say that Homer was of this mind, when he often prefers the voluptuous life to the virtuous one, saying—
And now Olympus' shining gates unfold;And the same poet represents Menelaus as saying—
The Gods with Jove assume their thrones of gold;
Immortal Hebe, fresh with bloom divine,
The golden goblet crowns with purple wine;
While the full bowl flows round the Powers employ
Their careful eyes on long-contended Troy.
Nor then should aught but death have torn apartAnd in another place—
From me so loving and so glad a heart.
We sat secure, while fast around did rollAnd in the same spirit Ulysses, at the court of Alcinous, represents luxury and wantonness as the main end of life.
The dance, and jest, and ever-flowing bowl.