But if Self-control too is a fair and noble possession, let us now consider whether he led men up to that virtue by discourse like the following:
“My friends, if we were at war and wanted to choose a leader most capable of helping us to save ourselves and conquer the enemy, should we choose one whom we knew to be the slave of the belly, or of wine, or lust, or sleep? How could we expect that such an one would either save us or defeat the enemy?
Or if at the end of our life we should wish to appoint a guardian to educate our boys or protect our girls or to take care of our goods, should we think a loose liver a trustworthy man to choose? Should we entrust live stock or storehouses or the management of works to a vicious slave? Should we be willing to take as a gift a page or an errandboy with such a character?
Surely then, if we should refuse a vicious slave, the master must look to it that he does not grow vicious himself? For whereas the covetous, by robbing other men of their goods, seem to enrich themselves, a vicious man reaps no advantage from the harm he does to others. If he is a worker of mischief to others, he brings much greater mischief on himself, if indeed the greatest mischief of all is to ruin not one's home merely, but the body and the soul.
In social intercourse what pleasure could you find in such a man, knowing that he prefers your sauces and your wines to your friends, and likes the women1
better than the company? Should not every man hold self-control to be the foundation of all virtue, and first lay this foundation firmly in his soul?
For who without this can learn any good or practise it worthily? Or what man that is the slave of his pleasures is not in an evil plight body and soul alike? From my heart I declare that every free man should pray not to have such a man among his slaves; and every man who is a slave to such pleasures should entreat the gods to give him good masters: thus, and only thus, may he find salvation.”
Such were his words; but his own self-control was shown yet more clearly by his deeds than by his words. For he kept in subjection not only the pleasures of the body, but those too that money brings, in the belief that he who takes money from any casual giver puts himself under a master and endures the basest form of slavery.