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Variety Is Pleasing

I AM fully aware that some will be found to criticise my
A defence of the historian's method of parallel histories of several countries, each kept up to date.
work, on the ground that my narrative of events is incomplete and disconnected; beginning, for instance, the story of the siege of Carthage, and then leaving it half told, and interrupting the stream of my history, I pass over to Greek affairs, and from them to Macedonian or Syrian, or some other history; whereas students require continuity, and desire to hear the end of a subject; for the combination of pleasure and profit is thus more completely secured. But I do not think this: I hold exactly the reverse. And as a witness to the correctness of my opinion I might appeal to nature herself, who is never satisfied with the same things continuously in any of the senses, but is ever inclined to change; and, even if she is satisfied with the same things, wishes to have them at intervals and in diversity of circumstance. This may be illustrated first by the sense of hearing, which is never gratified either in music or recitations by a continuance of the same strains or subjects; it is the varied style, and, in a word, whatever is broken up into intervals and has the most marked and frequent changes, that gives it pleasurable excitement. Similarly one may notice that the palate can never remain gratified by the same meats, however costly, but grows to feel a loathing for them, and delights in changes of diet, and often prefers plain to rich food merely for the sake of variety. The same may be noticed as to the sight: it is quite incapable of remaining fixed on the same object, but it is a variety and change of objects that excites it. And this is more than all the case with the mind; for changes in the objects of attention and study act as rests to laborious men.

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