[p. 563] Reason urges us with fresh ideas and fresh zeal to attack again our yesterday's discourse1 on the eating of flesh. It is indeed difficult, as Cato2 remarked, to talk to bellies which have no ears. And the potion of familiarity has been drunk, like that of Circe3
Commingling pains and pangs, tricks and tears4;
nor is it easy to extract the hook of flesh-eating, entangled as it is and embedded in the love of pleasure. And, like the Egyptians e who extract the viscera of the dead and cut them open in view of the sun, then throw them away as being the cause of every single sin that the man had committed, it would be well for us to excise our own gluttony and lust to kill and become pure for the remainder of our lives, since it is not so much our belly that drives us to the pollution [p. 565] of slaughter ; it is itself polluted by our incontinence. Yet if, for heaven's sake, it is really impossible for us to be free from error because we are on such terms of familiarity with it, let us at least be ashamed of our ill doing and resort to it only in reason. We shall eat flesh, but from hunger, not as a luxury. We shall kill an animal, but in pity and sorrow, not degrading or torturing it - which is the current practice in many cases, some thrusting red-hot spits into the throats of swine so that by the plunging in of the iron the blood may be emulsified and, as it circulates through the body, may make the flesh tender and delicate. Others jump upon the udders of sows5 about to give birth and kick them so that, when they have blended together blood and milk and gore (Zeus the Purifier I) and the unborn young have at the same time been destroyed at the moment of birth, they may eat the most inflamed part of the creature. Still others sew up the eyes of cranes6 and swans,7 shut them up in darkness and fatten them, making the flesh appetizing with strange compounds and spicy mixtures.

1 Cf. Plutarch's introduction to the second essay on the Fortune of Alexander (Mor. 333 d).

2 Cf. Mor. 131 d, 198 d; Life of Cato Major, 8 (340 a).

3 Odyssey, x. 236.

4 Perhaps a verse of Empedocles: Diels-Kranz, Frag. der Vorsok. i, p. 372, frag. 154 a; cf. Wilamowitz, Hermes, xl, p. 165. (Andrews prefers to adopt the reading κυκεών, ‘potion,’ assuming a verbal form, ‘dulls’ or ‘blunts,’ in the preceding or following line.)

5 Pliny, Nat. Hist. xi. 210-211 is not quite so gruesome.

6 Pliny, Nat. Hist. x. 60.

7 Wyttenbach reasonably suggested ‘geese,’ but see Athenaeus, 131 f; 393 c-d.

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