But the ancients, who represented the gods under the form of men, arranged all their festivals on a similar principle; for, seeing that it is not possible to divert men from an eagerness for pleasure, but that it is useful and expedient to accustom them to enjoy themselves with moderation and in an orderly manner, they set apart certain times, and, sacrificing first to the gods, they in this way permitted them relaxation and enjoyment, in order that every one, thinking that the gods had come among them, and were present at the [p. 573] firstfruits and libations, might enjoy himself with order and decency. Accordingly Homer says—
There, too, was Pallas to partake the feast:and Neptune, too, is represented thus—
The monarch of the main, a heavenly guest,and of Jupiter he says—
In Ethiopia graced the genial feast,
There on the world's extremest verge, revered
With hecatombs and prayer in pomp preferr'd,
Distant he lay:1—
The sire of gods and all the ethereal trainAnd if a man of more mature age, and devoted to wise and virtuous pursuits, is present, they are ashamed to say or do anything indecorous; as also Epicharmus says, somewhere or other:—
On the warm limits of the furthest main
Now mix with mortals, nor disdain to grace
The feast of Ethiopia's blameless race.2
But when their aged superiors are present,Therefore, considering that the gods were near to them, they celebrated their festivals in an orderly and temperate man- ner; on which account it was not the fashion of the ancients to lie at their meals, but, as Homer says,—
Young men should silent be.
Feasting they sate;nor were they accustomed to drink to the extent of drunkenness—
But when they'd eaten thus, and drank their fill,
Each to his room retired, not dreaming ill.