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In the judgment of Ofellus, a sordid way of living will differ widely from frugal simplicity. For it is to no purpose for you to shun that vice [of luxury]; if you perversely fly to the contrary extreme. Avidienus, to whom the nickname of Dog is applied with propriety, eats olives of five years old, and wild cornels, and can not bear to rack off his wine unless it be turned sour, and the smell of his oil you can not endure: which (though clothed in white he celebrates the wedding festival,1 his birth-day, or any other festal days) he pours out himself by little and little from a horn cruet, that holds two pounds, upon his cabbage, [but at the same time] is lavish enough of his old vinegar. What manner of living therefore shall the wise man put in practice, and which of these examples shall he copy? On one side the wolf presses on, and the dog on the other, as the saying is. A person will be accounted decent, if he offends not by sordidness, and is not despicable through either extreme of conduct. Such a man will not, after the example of old Albutius, be savage while he assigns to his servants their respective offices; nor, like simple Naevius, will he offer greasy water to his company: for this too is a great fault. Now learn what and how great benefits a temperate diet will bring along with it. In the first place, you will enjoy good health; for you may believe how detrimental a diversity of things is to any man, when you recollect that sort of food, which by its simplicity sat so well upon your stomach some time ago. But, when you have once mixed boiled and roast together, thrushes and shell-fish; the sweet juices will turn to bile, and the thick phlegm will bring a jarring upon the stomach. Do not you see, how pale each guest rises from a perplexing variety of dishes at an entertainment. Beside this, the body, overloaded with the debauch of yesterday, depresses the mind along with it, and dashes to the earth that portion of the divine spirit.2 Another man, as soon as he has taken a quick repast, and rendered up his limbs to repose, rises vigorous to the duties of his calling. However, he may sometimes have recourse to better cheer; whether the returning year shall bring on a festival, or if he have a mind to refresh his impaired body; and when years shall approach, and feeble age require to be used more tenderly. But as for you, if a troublesome habit of body, or creeping old age, should come upon you, what addition can be made to that soft indulgence, which you, now in youth and in health, anticipate?
1 “Repotia” was a festival the day after the nuptials, when they drank and ate whatever remained of yesterday's entertainment, quia iterum potaretur. The construction is remarkable, “alios dierum festos”, for alios qui ex diebus festi sunt. “Albatus”, white, was usually the color of the Roman robe even at funeral feasts. “Ipse” is a circumstance that strongly marks the avarice of Avidienus. Afraid that his guests or his servants should be too profuse of his oil, he pours it himself. The poet tells us, his bottle was of two pounds weight, as if it were his whole store, although he was extremely rich; and the vessel was of horn, that it might last a long time. All these particulars are in character.
2 “Divinae particulam aurae.” To raise the nobleness of the mind, Horace has borrowed the language of Plato; who says, that it is a portion of the universal soul of the world, that is, of the divinity himself.
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