previous next
But if there be such things to be found as moderation, justice, and fortitude, how can it stand with reason [p. 476] there should not be such a thing as wisdom also? And if there be wisdom, how can it be but there must be good counsel? For moderation is (as they are used to say) a certain sort of wisdom; and justice cannot subsist without wisdom. Certainly we call that good counsel and wisdom that render us manful in pleasures continence and moderation; in dangers and hardships, endurance and resolution; and in communities and public business, equality and justice. And therefore if we will needs have it that the effects of conduct belong to Fortune, let then both the effects of justice and moderation belong to Fortune also. Nay, by Jove, let stealing be ascribed to Fortune too, and cutting of purses, and a lustful lewd life ; and let us quit our reasoning quite, and turn ourselves loose to Fortune, to be carried and driven, like filth and dust, be fore an impetuous wind. If there be no such thing as conduct, it must of necessity follow, that there should be no such thing as advising about our affairs, nor any consultation or enquiry about utility; and that Sophocles did talk idly when he said:
Whate'er is sought,
It may be caught;
But what we shun
Will from us run;

and when elsewhere he made this distribution of things.

I learn what's to be taught,
I seek what's to be sought;
I beg the rest of Heaven.

For what is to be sought or what is to be learned by mortals, if all things go by Fortune ? And what senate of a republic is not overthrown, or what council of a prince is not dissolved, if all things are subject to Fortune?—which we use to upbraid with blindness because we blindly fall into it. And indeed how can we [p. 477] otherwise choose, when we first pluck good counsel like our eves out of our heads, and then take us a blind guide of our lives ?

1 Soph. Oed. Tyr. 110.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: