THE author of the encomium upon Alcibiades for his victory in the chariot-race at Olympia,1
whether he was Euripides, as the prevailing report has it, or some other, says, Sosius,2
that the first requisite to a man's happiness is birth in
‘a famous city’; but in my opinion, for a man who would enjoy true happiness, which depends for the most part on character and disposition, it is no disadvantage to belong to an obscure and mean city, any more than it is to be born of a mother who is of little stature and without beauty.
For it were laughable to suppose that Iulis, which is a little part of the small island of Ceos, and Aegina, which a certain Athenian was urgent to have removed as an eye-sore of the Piraeus,3
should breed good actors and poets,4
but should never be able to produce a man who is just, independent, wise, and magnanimous.
The arts, indeed, since their object is to bring business or fame, naturally pine away in obscure and mean cities; but virtue, like a strong and hardy plant, takes root in any place, if she finds there a generous nature and a spirit that shuns no labour. Wherefore we also, if we fail to live and think as we ought, will justly attribute this, not to the smallness of our native city, but to ourselves.