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Enter PHILOLACHES, from the house of THEUROPIDES.
to himself . I've often thought and long reflected on it, and in my breast have held many a debate, and in my heart (if any heart I have) have revolved this matter, and long discussed it, to what thing I'm to consider man as like, and what form he has when he is born? I've now discovered this likeness. I think a man is like unto a new house when he is born. I'll give my proofs of this fact. To the AUDIENCE. And does not this seem to you like the truth? But so I'll manage that you shall think it is so. Beyond a doubt I'll convince you that it is true what I say. And this yourselves, I'm sure, when you have heard my words, will say is no otherwise than just as I now affirm that it is. Listen while I repeat my proofs of this fact; I want you to be equally knowing with myself upon this matter. As soon as ever a house is built up, nicely polished off1, carefully erected, and according to rule, people praise the architect and approve of the house, they take from it each one a model for himself. Each one has something similar, quite at his own expense; they do not spare their pains. But when a worthless, lazy, dirty, negligent fellow betakes himself thither with an idle family, then is it imputed as a fault to the house, while a good house is being kept in bad repair. And this is often the case; a storm comes on and breaks the tiles and gutters; then a careless owner takes no heed to put up others. A shower comes on and streams down the walls; the rafters admit the rain; the weather rots the labours of the builder; then the utility of the house becomes diminished; and yet this is not the fault of the builder. But a great part of mankind have contracted this habit of delay; if anything can be repaired by means of money, they are always still putting it off, and don't * * * do it until the walls come tumbling down2; then the whole house has to be built anew. These instances from buildings I've mentioned; and now I wish to inform you how you are to suppose that men are like houses. In the first place then, the parents are the builders-up of the children, and lay the foundation for the children; they raise them up, they carefully train them to strength, and that they may be good both for service and for view before the public. They spare not either their own pains or their cost, nor do they deem expense in that to be an expense. They refine them, teach them literature, the ordinances, the laws; at their own cost and labour they struggle, that others may wish for their own children to be like to them. When they repair to the army, they then find them some relation3 of theirs as a protector. At that moment they pass out of the builder's hands. One year's pay has now been earned; at that period, then, a sample is on view how the building will turn out. But I was always discreet and virtuous, just as long as I was under the management of the builder. After I had left him to follow the bent of my own inclinations, at once I entirely spoiled the labours of the builders. Idleness came on; that was my storm; on its arrival, upon me it brought down hail and showers, which overthrew my modesty and the bounds of virtue, and untiled them for me in an instant. After that I was neglectful to cover in again; at once passion like a torrent entered my heart; it flowed down even unto my breast, and soaked through my heart. Now both property, credit, fair fame, virtue, and honor have forsaken me; by usage have I become much worse, and, i' faith (so rotten are these rafters of mine with moisture), I do not seem to myself to be able possibly to patch up my house to prevent it from falling down totally once for all, from perishing from the foundation, and from no one being able to assist me. My heart pains me, when I reflect how I now am and how I once was, than whom in youthful age not one there was more active in the arts of exercise4, with the quoit, the javelin, the ball, racing, arms, and horses. I then lived a joyous life5; in frugality and hardihood I was an example to others; all, even the most deserving, took a lesson from me for themselves. Now that I'm become worthless, to that, indeed, have I hastened through the bent of my inclinations. He stands apart.
1 Polished off: From this passage it would seem that pains were taken to give the houses a smooth and polished appearance on the outside.
2 Walls come tumbling down: Warner remarks that a sentiment not unlike this is found in Scripture, Ecclesiastes, x. 18: "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through." It may be also observed that the passage is very similar to the words of the parable of the foolish man who built his house upon sand, St. Matthew, vii. 26: "And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall thereof."
3 Find them some relation: In the first year of military service the Roman youths were placed under the tutelage of some relation or friend.
4 In the arts of exercise: "Arte gymnasticâ." Literally, "in the gymnastic art."
5 Lived a joyous life: "Victitabam volup." Lambinus suggests that the true reading here is "haud volup," "not voluptuously."
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