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Be careful to avoid the anger of the deathless gods. Do not make a friend equal to a brother; but if you do, do not wrong him first, and do not lie to please the tongue. But if he wrongs you first, [710] offending either in word or in deed, remember to repay him double; but if he asks you to be his friend again and be ready to give you satisfaction, welcome him. He is a worthless man who makes now one and now another his friend; but as for you, do not let your face put your heart to shame.1 [715] Do not get a name either as lavish or as churlish, as a friend of rogues, or as a slanderer of good men. Never dare to taunt a man with deadly poverty which eats out the heart; it is sent by the deathless gods. [720] The best treasure a man can have is a sparing tongue, and the greatest pleasure, one that moves orderly; for if you speak evil, you yourself will soon be worse spoken of. Do not be boorish at a common feast where there are many guests; the pleasure is greatest and the expense is least.2 Never pour a libation of sparkling wine to Zeus after dawn [725] with unwashed hands, nor to others of the deathless gods; otherwise they do not hear your prayers but spit them back. Do not stand upright facing the sun when you make water, but remember to do this when he has set and towards his rising. And do not make water as you go, whether on the road or off the road, [730] and do not uncover yourself: the nights belong to the blessed gods. A scrupulous man who has a wise heart sits down or goes to the wall of an enclosed court. Do not expose yourself befouled by the fireside in your house, but avoid this. [735] Do not beget children when you are come back from ill-omened burial, but after a festival of the gods.

1 The thought is parallel to that of “O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath.”

2 The “common feast” is one to which all present subscribe. Theognis (line 495) says that one of the chief pleasures of a banquet is the general conversation. Hence the present passage means that such a feast naturally costs little, while the many present will make pleasurable conversation.

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    • Thomas W. Allen, E. E. Sikes, Commentary on the Homeric Hymns, HYMN TO HERMES
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