And though I could repeat to you now a great deal of nonsense which the medicine-seller talked, I forbear to do so, although I know that Epicurus, that most truthful of men, said of him in his letter about Institutions, that he devoted himself to a military life after having squandered his patrimony in gluttony; and that, turning out an indifferent soldier, he then took to selling medicines. Then, when the school of Plato was opened, he says, he changed again, and applied himself to philosophical discussions, and as he was not a man destitute of ability, by little and little he became a speculative philosopher. I know, too, that Epicurus is the only person who ever said this of him; for neither did Eubulides nor Cephisodorus venture to say anything of the kind against the Stagirite, and that, too, though they did write books against him. But in that same letter Epicurus says, that Protagoras also, who became a philosopher from having been a porter and a wood-carrier, was first promoted to be an amanuensis of Democritus; who, wondering at the admirable way in which he used to put the wood together, took him under his eye in consequence of this beginning; and then he began to teach the rudiments of learning in some village, and after that he proceeded on to the study of philosophy. And I now, O fellow feasters, after all this conversation, feel a great desire for something to eat. And when some one said that the cooks were already preparing something, and taking care that the dishes should not be served up cold, on account of the excessive length to which the “feast of words” had been carried, for that no one could eat cold dishes, Cynulcus said,—But I, like the Milcon of Alexis, the comic poet, can eat them even if they are not served up warm—
For Plato teaches us that what is good,[p. 559] And it was not without some cleverness that Sphærus, who was a fellow-pupil with Chrysippus in the school of Cleanthes, when he had been sent for to Alexandria by king Ptolemy; when on one occasion birds made of wax were served up at a banquet, and he was putting out his hand to take some, but was stopped by the king, who told him that he was assenting to a sham; very appropriately answered,—'That he did not agree that they were birds at all, but only that it was probable that they might be birds; and that an opinion which could be confirmed by the perception, is superior to that which is merely probable; for that the one cannot be incorrect, but that what is probable may turn out Contrary to what was expected." And so it could not be a bad thing if some waxen dishes were brought round to us too, according to our perceptive opinions, so that we might be beguiled at least by the sight of them, and so escape talking on for ever.
Is everywhere on all occasions good;
Can you deny this? and that what is sweet
Is always sweet, here, there, and ev'rywhere.