torturers, and contrive branding-irons and other instru-
ments of torture to inspire fear^ in the brute soul, whereas
vice attacks the soul without any such apparatus, and
crushes and dejects it, and fills a man with sorrow, and
lamentation, and melancholy, and remorse.
Here is a
proof of what I say. Many are silent under mutilation, and
endure scourging or torture at the hand of despots or
tyrants without uttering a word, whenever their soul,
abating the pain by reason, forcibly as it were checks and
represses them : but you can never quiet anger or smother
grief, or persuade a timid person not to run away, or one
suffering from remorse not to cry out, nor tear his hair,
nor smite his thigh. Thus vice is stronger than fire and
§ III. You know of course that cities, when they desire
to publicly contract for the building of temples or
colossuses, listen to the estimates of the contractors who
compete for the job, and bring their plans and charges, and
finally select the contractor who will do the work at least
' ''Iliad," ii. 700, 701.
^ 'Tis ever so. Compare Horace, " Sat." i. i. 1-14.
^ Adopting Reiske's reading.
140 Plutarch's morals.
expense, and best, and quickest. Let us suppose then that
we publicly contract to make the life of man miserable,
and take the estimates of Fortune and Vice for this object.
Fortune shall come forward, provided with all sorts of in-
struments and costly apparatus to make life miserable and
wretched. She shall come with robberies and wars, and
the blood-guiltiness of tyrants, and storms at sea, and
lightning drawn down from the sky, she shall compound
hemlock, she shall bring swords, she shall levy an army
of informers, she shall cause fevers to break out, she shall
rattle fetters and build prisons. It is true that most of
these things are owing to Vice rather than Fortune, but let
us suppose them all to come from Fortune. And let Vice
stand by naked, without any external things against man,
and let her ask Fortune how she will make man un-
happy and dejected. Fortune, dost thou threaten poverty ?
Metrocles laughs at thee, who sleeps during winter among
the sheep, in summer in the vestibules of temples, and
challenges the king of the Persians,^ who winters at
Babylon, and summers in Media, to vie with him in hap-
piness. Dost thou bring slavery, and bondage, and sale ?
Diogenes despises thee, who cried out, as he was being
sold by some robbers, "Who will buy a master? " Dost
thou mix a cup of poison ? Didst not thou offer such
a one to Socrates ? And cheerfully, and mildly, without
fear, without changing colour or countenance, he calmly
drank it up : and when he was dead, all who survived
deemed him happy, as sure to have a divine lot in Hades.
And as to thy fire, did not Decius, the general of the
Romans, anticipate it for himself, having piled up a funeral
pyre between the two armies, and sacrificed himself to
Cronos, dedicating himself for the supremacy of his
country ? And the chaste and loving wives of the Indians
strive and contend with one another for the fire, and she
that wins the day and gets burnt with the body of her
husband, is pronounced happy by the rest, and her praises
sung. And of the wise men in that part of the world no
one is esteemed or pronounced happy, who does not in his
^ Proverbial for extreme good fortune. Cf. Horace, '* Odes," iii.
ix. 4, " Persarum vigui rege beatior."
WHETHER YICE IS SUFFICIENT TO CAUSE UNHAPPINESS. 141
lifetime, in good health and in full possession of all his
faculties, separate soul from body hy fire, and emerge pure
from flesh, having purged away his mortal part. Or wilt
thou reduce a man from a splendid property, and house,
and table, and sumptuous living, to a threadbare coat and
wallet, and begging of daily bread ? Such was the beginning
of happiness to Diogenes, of freedom and glory to Crates.
Or wilt thou nail a man on a cross, or impale him on a stake ?
What cares Theodoras whether he rots above ground or
below ? Such was the happy mode of burial amongst the
Scythians,^ and among the Hyrcanians dogs, among the
Bactrians birds, devour according to the laws the dead
bodies of those who have made a happy end.
§ IV. Who then are made unhappy by these things ?
Those who have no manliness or reason, the enervated and
untrained, who retain the opinions they had as children.
Fortune therefore does not produce perfect infelicity, un-
less Vice co-operate. For as a thread saws through a bone
that has been soaked in ashes and vinegar, and as people bend
and fashion ivory only when it has been made soft and
supple by beer, and cannot under any other circumstances,
so Fortune, lighting upon what is in itself faulty and soft
through Vice, hollows it out and wounds it. And as the
Parthian juice, though hurtful to no one else nor injurious
to those who touch it or carry it about, yet if it be com-
municated to a wounded man straightway kills him through
his previous susceptibility to receive its essence, so he who
will be upset in soul by Fortune must have some secret
internal ulcer or sore to make external things so piteous
§ V. Does then Vice need Fortune to bring about in-
felicity ? By no means. She lashes not up the rough and
stormy sea, she girds not lonely mountain passes with
robbers lying in wait by the way, she makes not clouds of
hail to burst on the fruitful plains, she suborns not Meletus
or Anytus or Callixenus as accusers, she takes not away
wealth, excludes not people from the praetorship to make
them wretched ; but she scares the rich, the well-to-do,
and great heirs ; by land and sea she insinuates herself and
* See Herodotus, iv. 72.
142 Plutarch's morals.
sticks to people, infusing lust, inflaming with anger,
afflicting them with superstitious fears, tearing them in
pieces with envj.
WHETHER THE DISORDERS OF MIND OR
BODY ARE WORSE.
§ I. Homer, looking at the mortality of all living
creatures, and comparing them with one another in their
lives and habits, gave vent to his thoughts in the words,
' ' Of all the things that on the earth do breathe,
Or creep, man is by far the wretchedest ; " *
assigning to man an unhappy pre-eminence in extreme mis-
fortune. But let us, assuming that man is, as thus publicly
declared, supreme in infelicity and the most wretched of all
living creatures, compare him with himself, in the estimate
of his misery dividing body and soul, not idly but in a very
necessary way, that we may learn whether our life is more
wretched owing to Fortune or through our own fault. For
disease is engendered in the body by nature, but vice and
depravity in the soul is first its own doing, then its settled
condition. And it is no slight aid to tranquillity of
mind if what is bad be capable of cure, and lighter and less
§ II. The fox in ^sop^ disputing with the leopard as to
their respective claims to variety, the latter showed its body
and appearance all bright and spotted, while the tawny
skin of the former was dirty and not pleasant to look at.
Then the fox said, " Look inside me, sir judge, and you will
see that I am more full of variety than my opponent," re-
ferring to his trickiness and versatility in shifts. Let us
similarly say to ourselves, Many diseases and disorders, good
sir, thy body naturally produces of itself, many also it re-
ceives from without; but if thou lookest at thyself within
thou wilt find, to borrow the language of Democritus, a
' Homer, " Iliad," xvii. 446, 447.
* See the Fable 'AXwttt/^ kuI ndpdaXig. No. 42, Ed. Halme.
WHETHER THE DISORDERS OF MIND OR BODY ARE WORSE. 143
varied and susceptible storehouse and treasury of what is
bad, not flowing in from without, but having as it were
innate and native springs, which vice, being exceedingly
rich and abundant in passion, produces. And if diseases
are detected in the body by the pulse and by pallors and
flushes,^ and are indicated by heats and sudden pains, while
the diseases of the nynd, bad as they are, escape the notice
of most people, the latter are worse because they deprive
the sufferer of the perception of them. For reason if it be
sound perceives the diseases of the body, but he that is
diseased in his mind cannot judge of his sufferings, for he
suffers in the very seat of judgement. We ought to account
therefore the first and greatest of the diseases of the mind
that ignorance,^ whereby vice is incurable for most people,
dwelling with them and living and dying with them. For
the beginning of getting rid of disease is the perception of
it, which leads the sufferer to the necessary relief, but he
who through not believing he is ill knows not what he re-
quires refuses the remedy even when it is close at hand.
For amongst the diseases of the body those are the worst
which are accompanied by stupor, as lethargies, headaches,
epilepsies, apoplexies, and those fevers which raise inflam-
mation to the pitch of madness, and disturb the brain as in
the case of a musical instrument,
"And move the mind's strings hitherto untouched." ^
§ III. And so doctors wish a man not to be ill, or if he is
ill to be ignorant of it, as is the case with all diseases of the
soul. For neither those who are out of their minds, nor the
licentious, nor the unjust think themselves faulty — some
even think themselves perfect. For no one ever yet called
a fever health, or consumption a good condition of body, or
gout swift-f ootedness, or paleness a good colour ; but many
call anger manliness, and love friendship, and envy compe-
^ Reading with Wyttenbach, wxptdcrfcri xrai kpvOrjfiaffi.
^ Foi'te ayvoiai/." — Wyttenbach. The oi'dinary reading is avoiav.
" E coelo descendit yv&Oi (reavrov,'^ says Juvenal truly, xi. 27.
^ Compare the image in Shakspere, "Hamlet," A. iii. Sc. 1. 165, 166.
" Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
Like sweet bells jangled, out of tune and harsh."
144 Plutarch's morals.
tition, and cowardice prudence. Then again those that are
ill in body send for doctors, for thej are conscious of what
they need to counteract their ailments ; bat those who are
ill in mind avoid philosophers, for they think themselves
excellent in the very matters in which they come short.
And it is on this account that we maintain that ophthalmia
is a lesser evil than madness, and gout than frenzy. For
the person ill in body is aware of it and calls loudly for the
doctor, and when he comes allows him to anoint his eye,
to open a vein, or to plaster up his head ; but you hear mad
Agave in her frenzy not knowing her dearest ones, but
crying out, " We bring from the mountain to the halls a
young stag recently torn limb from limb, a fortunate cap-
ture."^ Again he who is ill in body straightway gives up
and goes to bed and remains there quietly till he is well,
and if he toss and tumble about a little when the fit is on
him, any of the people who are by saying to him,
Stay in the bed, poor wretch, and take your ease," ^
restrain him and check him. But those who suffer from a
diseased brain are then most active and least at rest, for
impulses bring about action, and the passions are vehement
impulses. And so they do not let the mind rest, but when
the man most requires quiet and silence and retirement,
then is he dragged into the open air, and becomes the victim
of anger, contentiousness, lust, and grief, and is compelled
to do and say many lawless things unsuitable to the
§ IV. As therefore the storm which prevents one's putting
into harbour is more dangerous than the storm which will
not let one sail, so those storms of the soul are more for-
midable which do not allow a man to take in sail, or to calm
his reason when it is disturbed, but without a pilot and
without ballast, in perplexity and uncertainty through
contrary and confusing courses, he rushes headlong and
falls into woeful shipwreck, and shatters his life. So that
' Euripides, " Bacchse," 1170-1172. Agave's treatment of her son
Pentheus was a stock philosophical comparison. See for example
Horace, ii. " Sat." iii. 303, 304, and context.
2 Euripides, " Orestes," 258.
ON ABUNDANCE OF FRIENDS. 145
from these points of view it is worse to be diseased in mind
than body, for the latter only suffer, but the former do ill
as well as suffer ill. But why need I speak of our various
passions ? The very times bring them to our mind. Do
you see yon great and promiscuous crowd jostling against
one another and surging round the rostrum and forum ?
They have not assembled here to sacrifice to their country's
gods, nor to share in one another's rites ; they are not
bringing to Ascraean Zeus the firstfruits of Lydian pro-
duce,^ nor are they celebrating in honour of Dionysus the
Bacchic orgies on festival nights with common revellings ;
but a mighty plague stirring up Asia in annual cycles
drives them here for litigation and suits at law at stated
times : and the mass of business, like the confluence of
mighty rivers, has inundated one forum, and festers and
teems with miners and ruined. What fevers, what agues,
do not these things cause ? What obstructions, what
irruptions of blood into the air-vessels, what distempera-
ture of heat, what overflow of humours, do not result ? If
you examine every suit at law, as if it were a person, as to
where it originated, where it came from, you will find that
one was produced by obstinate temper, another by frantic
love of strife, a third by some sordid desire.*'^
ON ABUNDANCE OF FRIENDS.
§ I. Menon the Thessalian, who thought he was a per-
fect adept in discourse, and, to borrow the language of
Empedocles, "had attained the heights of wisdom," was
asked by Socrates, what virtue was, and upon his answering
quickly and glibly, that virtue was a different thing in boy
and old man, and in man and woman, and in magistrate
and private person, and in master and servant, " Capital,"
said Socrates, "you were asked about one virtue, but you
^ '^ Anrwm -pvLta. Pactolus enim aurum fert. Videturdictio e Pindaro
desumta esse." — Reiske.
- " Libellus hie fine carere videtur. Quare autem opuseulum hoc
Plutareho indignum atque suppositum visum Xylandro fuerit, non in-
telligo.'' — Reiske.
146 Plutarch's morals.
have raised up a whole swarm of them," ^ conjecturing not
amiss that the man named many because he knew not one.
Might not someone jeer at us in the same way, as being
afraid, when we have not yet one firm friendship, that we
shall without knowing it fall upon an abundance of friends ?
It is very much the same as if a man maimed and blind
should be afraid of becoming hundred-handed like Briareus
or all eyes like Argus. And yet we wonderfully praise the
young man in Menander, who said that he thought anyone
wonderfully good, if he had even the shadow of a friend."
§ II. But among many other things what stands chiefly
in the way of getting a friend is the desire for many friends,
like a licentious woman who, through giving her favours
indiscriminately, cannot retain her old lovers, who are
neglected and drop off ; ^ or rather like the foster-child of
Hypsipyle, " sitting in the meadow and plucking flower
after flower, snatching at each prize with gladsome heart,
insatiable in its childish delight,"^ so in the case of each of
us, owing to our love of novelty and fickleness, the recent
flower ever attracts, and makes us inconstant, frequently
laying the foundations of many friendships and intimacies
that come to nothing, neglecting in love of what we
eagerly pursue what we have already possession of. To
begin therefore with the domestic hearth,^ as the saying
is, with the traditions of life that time has handed down to us
about constant friends, let us take the witness and counsel
of antiquity, according to which friendships go in pairs, as
in the cases of Theseus and Pirithous, Achilles and Patroclus,
Orestes and Pylades, Phintias and Damon, Epaminondas
and Pelopidas. For friendship is a creature that goes in
pairs, and is not gregarious, or crow-like,'^ and to think a
1 Plato, "Men." p. 71 E.
^ Quoted more fully by our author, " De Fraterno Amere," § iii.
3 *' Eadem comparatione utitur Lucianus in Toxari T. ii. p. .351 :
offTig av TToXixpiKoQ y ofioiog yfxlv doKtl toxq Koivalq ravraiQ Kai /xoixfi'O-
fikvaig -Yvvai^i' koI oiofxtB^ oiiKkff bfioioiQ i(rxvpdv rijv fiXiav avrov dvai
TcpoQ TToXXdg Evi'oiag diaipeOtlaav." — Wyttenhach.
* From the " Hypsipyle " of Euripides.
° A well-known proverb for beginning at the beginning. Aristophanes,
" Vespte." 846 ; Plato, " Euthyphro," 3 A ; Strabo, 9.
^ An allusion to the well-known proverb, KoXoibg tvotI koXolov. See
Erasmus, '^Adagia," p. 1644.
ON ABUNDANCE OF FRIENDS. 147
friend a second self, and to call him companion as it were
second one/ shows that friendship is a dual relation. For
we can get neither many slaves nor many friends at small
expense. What then is the purchase-money of friendship ?
Benevolence and complaisance conjoined with virtue, and
yet nature has nothing more rare than these. And so to
love or be loved very much cannot find place with many
persons ; for as rivers that have many channels and
cuttings have a weak and thin stream, so excessive love in
the soul if divided out among many is weakened. Thus
love for their young is most strongly implanted in those
that bear only one, as Homer calls a beloved son " the only
one, the child of old age," ^ that is, when the parents
neither have nor are likely to have another child.
§ III. Not that we insist on only one friend, but among
the rest there should be one eminently so, like a child of
old age, who according to that well-known proverb
has eaten a bushel of salt with one,^ not as nowadays
many so-called friends contract friendship from drinking
together once, or playing at ball together, or playing to-
gether with dice, or passing the night together at some inn,
or meeting at the wrestling- school or in the market. And
in the houses of rich and leading men people congratulate
them on their many friends, when they see the large and
bustling crowd of visitors and handshakers and retainers :
and yet they see more flies in their kitchens, and as the
flies only come for the dainties, so they only dance atten-
dance for what they can get. And since true friendship has
three main requirements, virtue, as a thing good ; and fami-
liarity, as a thing pleasant ; and use, as a thing serviceable;
for we ought to choose a friend with judgement, and rejoice
in his company, and make use of him in need ; and all
these things are prejudicial to abundance of friends, espe-
cially judgement, which is the most important point ; we
must first consider, if it is impossible in a short time to test
dancers who are to form a chorus, or rowers who are to
pull together, or slaves who are to act as stewards of estates,
^ The paronomasia is on halpoQ, srepog.
2 " Iliad," ix. 482; " Odyssey," xvi. 19.
^ Cf. Cicero, "De Amicitia," xix.
148 Plutarch's morals.
or as tutors of one's sons, far more difficult is it to meet
with many friends who will take off their coats to aid you in
every fortune, each of whom " offers his services to you in
prosperity, and does not object to share your adversity."
For neither does a ship encounter so many storms at sea,
nor do they fortify places with walls, or harbours with
defences and earthworks, in the expectation of so many
and great dangers, as friendship tested well and soundly
promises defence and refuge from. But if friends slip in
without being tested, like money proved to be bad,
" Those who shall lose such friends may well be glad,
And those who have such pray that they may lose them."^
Yet is it difficult and by no means easy to avoid and bring
to a close an unpleasant friendship : as in the case of food
which is injurious and harmful, we cannot retain it on the
stomach without damage and hurt, nor can we expel it as
it was taken into the mouth, but only in a putrid mixed
up and changed form, so a bad friend is troublesome both
to others and himself if retained, and if he be got rid of
forcibly it is with hostility and hatred, and like the voiding
§ IV. We ought not, therefore, lightly to welcome or
strike up an intimate friendship with any chance comers,
or love those who attach themselves to us, but attach our-
selves to those who are worthy of our friendship. For
what is easily got is not always desirable : and we pass
over and trample upon heather and brambles that stick to
us^ on our road to the olive and vine : so also is it good
not always to make a friend of the person who is expert in
twining himself around us, but after testing them to attach
ourselves to those who are worthy of our affection and
likely to be serviceable to us.
§ V. As therefore Zeuxis, when some people accused
him of painting slowly, replied, " I admit that I do, but
then I paint to last," so ought we to test for a long time
the friendship and intimacy that we take up and mean to
' Sophocles, Fragm. 741. Quoted again by our author, " On Love,"
2 For the image compare Lucio's speech, Shakspere, " Measure for
Measure," A. iv. So. iii. 189, 190 : " Nay, friar, I am a kind of burr;
I shall stick,"
ON ABUNDANCE OF FRIENDS. 149
keep. Is it not easy then to put to the test many friends,
and to associate with many friends at the same time, or is
this impossible ? For intimacy is the full enjoyment of
friendship, and most pleasant is companying with and
spending the day with a friend. " ]!^ever again shall we
alive, apart from dear friends, sit and take counsel alone
together."^ And Menelaus said about Odysseus, "Nor
did anything ever divide or separate us, who loved and
delighted in one another, till death's black cloud over-
shadowed us."^ The contrary effect seems to be produced by
abundance of friends. For the friendship of a pair of friends
draws them together and puts them together and holds
them together, and is heightened by intercourse and kindli-
ness, " as when the juice of the fig curdles and binds the
white milk,"^ as Empedocles says, such unity and com-
plete union will such a friendship produce. Whereas
having many friends puts people apart and severs and dis-
unites them, by transferring and shifting the tie of friend-
ship too frequently, and does not admit of a mixture and
welding of goodwill by the diffusing and compacting of
intimacy. And this causes at once an inequality and diffi-
culty in respect of acts of kindness, for the uses of friend-
ship become inoperative by being dispersed over too wide
an area. "One man is acted upon by his character, another
by his reflection." * For neither do our natures and impulses
always incline in the same directions, nor are our fortunes
in life identical, for opportunities of action are, like the
winds, favourable to some, unfavourable to others.
§ VI. Moreover, if all our friends want to do the same
things at the same time, it will be difficult to satisfy them
all, whether they desire to deliberate, or to act in state
affairs, or wish for office, or are going to entertain guests.
If again at the same time they chance to be engaged in
different occupations and interests and ask you all together,
one who is going on a voyage that you will sail with him,
another who is going to law that you will be his advocate,
another who is going to try a case that you will try it with
him, another who is selling or buying that you will go into
^ " Iliad," xxiii. 77, 78. 2 « Odyssey," iv. 178-180.
* " Iliad," V. 902, altered somewhat. * Bergk. p. 1344^.
150 plutaech's morals.
partnership with him, another who is going to marry that
yon will join him in the sacrifice, another who is going to
bnry a relation that yon will be one of the monrners,
" The town is full of incense, and at once
Kesounds with triumph-songs and bitter wailing,"^
that is the frnit of many friends ; to oblige all is impossible,
to oblige none is absnrd, and to help one and offend many
" No lover ever yet fancied neglect."^
And yet people bear patiently and without anger the care-
lessness and neglect of friends, if they get from them such
excuses as " I forgot," " I did it unwittingly." But he
who says, " I did not assist you in your lawsuit, for I was
assisting another friend," or " I did not visit you when you
had your fever, for I was helping so-and-so who was
entertaining his friends," excusing himself for his inatten-
tion to one by his attention to another, so far from making
the oifence less, even adds jealousy to his neglect. But
most people in friendship regard only, it seems, what can