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Concerning those who waver in their purpose.

Consider which of your undertakings you have fulfilled, which not, and wherefore; which give you pleasure, which pain, in the reflection; and, if possible, recover yourself where you have failed. For the champions in this greatest of combats must not grow weary, but should even contentedly bear chastisement. For this is no combat of wrestling or boxing, where both he who succeeds and he who fails may possibly be of very great worth or of little, indeed may be very fortunate or very miserable, but this combat is for good fortune and happiness itself. What is the case, then? Here, even if we have renounced the contest, no one restrains us from renewing it, nor need we wait for another four years for the return of another Olympiad; but recollecting [p. 2110] and recovering yourself, and returning with the same zeal, you may renew it immediately; and even if you should again yield, you may again begin; and if you once get the victory, you become like one who has never yielded. Only do not begin by forming the habit of this, to do it with pleasure, and then, like quails that have fled the fighting-pit, go about as if you were a brave champion, although you have been conquered throughout all the games. "I am conquered in presence of a girl. But what of it? I have been thus conquered before." "I am excited to wrath against some one. But I have been in anger before." You talk to us just as if you had come off unhurt. As if one should say to his physician, who had forbidden him to bathe, " Why, did not I bathe before?" Suppose the physician should answer him, "< Well, and what was the consequence of your bathing? Were you not feverish? Had you not the headache? " So, when you before railed at somebody, did you not act like an ill-natured person; like an impertinent one? Have not you fed this habit of yours by corresponding actions? When you were conquered by a pretty girl, did you come off with impunity? Why, then, do you talk of what you have done before? You ought to remember it, I think, as slaves do whipping, so as to refrain from the same faults. "But the case is unlike; for there it is pain that causes the remembrance. But what is the pain, what the punishment, of my committing these faults? For when was [p. 2111] I ever thus trained to the avoidance of bad actions? " Yet the pains of experience, whether we will or not, have their beneficial influence.


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