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Concerning a person who had grown immodest.

When you see another in power, set this against it, that you have the advantage of not needing power. When you see another rich, see what you have instead of riches; for if you have nothing in their stead, you are miserable. But if you [p. 2191] have the advantage of not needing riches, know that you have something more than he has, and of far greater value. Another possesses a handsome woman; you the happiness of not desiring a handsome woman. Do you think these are little matters? And what would not those very persons give, who are rich and powerful, and possess handsome women, if they were only able to despise riches and power, and those very women whom they love and whom they possess ! Do not you know of what nature the thirst of one in a fever is? It has no resemblance to that of a person in health. The latter drinks and is satisfied. But the other, after being delighted a very little while, is nauseated, the water becomes bile, he is sick at his stomach, and becomes more thirsty than ever. It is the same with avarice, ambition, lust. Presently comes jealousy, fear of loss, unbecoming words, designs, and actions.

"And what," say you, "do I lose?" You were modest, man, and are so no longer. Have you lost nothing? Instead of Chrysippus and Zeno, you read Aristides 1 and Euenus.2 Have you lost nothing, then? Instead of Socrates and Diogenes, you admire him who can corrupt and seduce most women. You would be handsome, by decking your person, when you are not really so. You love to appear in fine clothes, to attract female eyes; and if you anywhere [p. 2192] meet with a good perfumer, you esteem yourself a happy man. But formerly you did not so much as think of any of these things; but only where you might find a decent discourse, a worthy person, a noble design. For this reason, you used to appear like a man both at home and abroad; to wear a manly dress; to hold discourses worthy of a man. And after this, do you tell me you have lost nothing? What, then; do men lose nothing but money? Is not modesty to be lost? Is not decency to be lost? Or can he who loses these suffer no injury? You indeed perhaps no longer think anything of this sort to be an injury. But there was once a time when you accounted this to be the only injury and hurt; when you were anxiously afraid lest any one should shake your regard from such discourses and actions. See, it is not shaken by another, but by yourself. Fight against yourself, recover yourself to decency, to modesty, to freedom. If you had formerly been told any of these things of me, that one prevailed on me to commit adultery, to wear such a dress as yours, or to be perfumed, would you not have gone and laid violent hands on the man who thus abused me? And will you not now help yourself? For how much easier is that sort of assistance? You need not kill, or fetter, or affront, or go to law with any one; but merely talk with yourself, the person who will most readily be persuaded by you, and with whom no one has greater weight than you. And, in the first place, [p. 2193] condemn your actions; but when you have condemned them, do not despair of yourself, nor be like those poor-spirited people who, when they have once given way, abandon themselves entirely, and are carried along as by a torrent. Take example from the wrestling-masters. Has the boy fallen down? Get up again, they say; wrestle again, till you have acquired strength. Be you affected in the same manner. For be assured that there is nothing more tractable than the human mind. You need but will, and it is done, it is set right; as, on the contrary, you need but nod over the work, and it is ruined. For both ruin and recovery are from within.

" And, after all, what good will this do me? " What greater good do you seek? From being impudent, you will become modest; from indecent, decent; from dissolute, sober. But if you seek any greater things than these, do as you are doing. It is no longer in the power of any God to save you.


1 An indecent poet of Miletus. - C.

2 A writer of amorous verses.- C.

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