Marion Mills Miller.

The classics, Greek & Latin; the most celebrated works of Hellenic and Roman literatvre, embracing poetry, romance, history, oratory, science, and philosophy (Volume 13) online

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Online LibraryMarion Mills MillerThe classics, Greek & Latin; the most celebrated works of Hellenic and Roman literatvre, embracing poetry, romance, history, oratory, science, and philosophy (Volume 13) → online text (page 23 of 38)
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pain or not, is all one; it has nothing to do, say you, with a
happy life, for that consists of virtue alone; but yet' pain is
to be avoided. If I ask, why? it is disagreeable, against na-
ture, hard to bear, woeful and afflicting.

Here are many words to express that variously, -which we
call by the single word, evil. You are denning pain, instead
of removing it, when you say, it is disagreeable, unnatural,
scarce to be borne; nor are you wrong in saying so, but the
man who vaunts thus, and maintains nothing to be good but
what is honest, nothing evil but what is base, should not give
way to any pain. This would be wishing, not proving. This
is better, and has more truth in it, that all things which na-
ture abhors are to be looked on as evil ; what she approves of,
are to be considered as good: this admitted, and the dispute
about words removed, that what they with reason embrace,
and which we call honest, right, becoming, and sometimes in-
clude under the general name of virtue, would appear to such
advantage, that all other things which are looked on as the
gifts of fortune, or the good things of the body, would seem
trifling and insignificant: no evil, nor all the collective body
of evils together, would be comparable to the evil of infamy.
Wherefore, if, as you granted in the beginning, infamy is
worse than pain, pain is certainly nothing; for whilst it shall
appear to you base and unmanly to groan, cry out, lament,
or faint under pain, whilst you have any notion of probity,
dignity, honour, and keeping your eye on them, you refrain
yourself; pain will certainly yield to virtue, and by the in-
fluence of imagination, will lose its whole force. For you must
either give up virtue, or despise pain. Will you allow of such a
virtue as prudence, without which no virtue can indeed be
conceived ? What then ? will that suffer you to labour and take
pains to no purpose? Will temperance permit you to do any
thing to excess? Can justice be maintained by one, who
through the force of pain betrays secrets, one that discovers
his confederates, and relinquishes many duties of life?
will you act consistent with courage, and its attendants, great-
ness of soul, resolution, patience, a contempt for all worldly



244 CICERO

things? Can you hear yourself called a great man, when you
lie groveling, dejected, and deploring yourself, with a lament-
able voice; no one would call you a man, in such a condition:
therefore you must either quit all pretensions to courage, or
pain must be laid asleep.

You know very well, that though part of your Corinthian
furniture be gone, the remainder is safe without that; but if
you lose one virtue (though virtue cannot be lost) ; should
you, I say, acknowledge that you were short in one, you would
be stripped of all. Can you then call Prometheus a brave man,
of a great soul, endued with patience, and steadiness above
the frowns of fortune ? or Philoctetes, for I choose to instance
in him, rather than yourself, for he certainly, was not brave,
who lay in his bed, watered with his tears,

Whose groans, bewailings, and whose bitter cries,
With grief incessant rend the very skies.

I do not deny pain to be pain ; for were that the case, in what
would courage consist? but I say it should be assuaged by
patience, if there be such a thing as patience: if there be no
such thing, why do we speak so in praise of philosophy? or
why do we glory in its name? Pain vexes us, let it sting us
to the heart; if you have no defence, submit to it; but if you
are secured by Vulcanian armour, i.e. with resolution, oppose
it; should you fail to do so, that guardian of your honour,
your courage, would forsake and leave you. By the laws of
Lycurgus, and by those which were given to the Cretans by
Jupiter, or which Minos received from that god, as the poets
say, the youths are trained up to hunting, running, enduring
hunger and thirst, cold and heat. The boys at Sparta are
scourged so at the altars, that the blood follows the lash, nay,
sometimes, as I heard when I was there, they are whipped to
death; and not one of them was ever heard to cry out, or so
much as groan. What then? shall men not be able to bear
what boys do ? and shall custom have more force than reason ?
There is some difference betwixt labour and pain; they
border upon one another, but with a distinction. Labour is
a certain exercise of the mind or body, in some employ or
undertaking that requires pains; but pain is a sharp motion



ON BEARING PAIN 245

in the body, disagreeable to our senses. Both these the Greeks,
whose language is more copious than ours, express by the com-
mon name of Ponos; therefore they call industrious men,
pains-taking, or rather fond of labour; we, more pertinently,
laborious; for there is a difference betwixt labour and pain.'
You see, O Greece, your barrenness of words, sometimes,
though you think you always abound. I say, then, there is a
difference betwixt labour and pain. When Marius was cut for
a swelling in his thigh, he felt pain ; when he headed his troops
in a very hot season, he laboured. Yet they bear some re-
semblance to one another; for the accustoming ourselves to
labour makes us support pain with more ease. On this reason
the founders of the Grecian form of government provided
that the bodies of their youth should be strengthened by
labour, which custom the Spartans transferred even to their
women, who in other cities are more delicately clothed, and
not exposed to the air : but it was otherwise with them.

The Spartan women, with a manly air,
Fatigues and dangers with their husbands share;
They in fantastic sports have no delight,
Partners with them in exercise and fight.

In these laborious exercises pain interferes sometimes, they
are thrown down, receive blows, have bad falls and are bruised,
and the labour itself hardens them against pain.

As to military service, (I speak of our own, not the Spar-
tans, for they marched slow to the sound of the flute, and
scarce a word of command was given without an anapest;)
you may see whence the very name of an army (Exercitus)
is derived ; great is the labour of an army on its march ; then
consider that they carry more than a fortnight's provision, and
whatever else they may want : then the burthen of the stakes,
for as to shield, sword, or helmet, they look on them as no
more incumbrance than their own limbs, for they say arms
are the limbs of a soldier, which they carry so commodiously,
that when there is occasion they throw down their burdens,
and use their arms as readily as their limbs. What are the
exercises of the legions? What labour in the running, en-
counters, shouts! Hence it is, that they make so slight of

XIII 17



246 CICERO

wounds in action. Take a soldier of equal bravery, but un-
exercised, and he will seem a woman ; but why should there be
this sensible difference betwixt a raw man, and an old soldier ?
It is true, the age of young soldiers is for the most part pre-
ferable, but it is practice that enables them to bear labour, and
despise wounds. Thus you see, when the wounded are carried
off the field, the raw untried soldier, though but slightly
wounded, cries out most shamefully, but the more brave ex-
perienced veteran only enquires for some one to dress his
wounds, and says,

Patroclus, to thy aid I must appeal,

Ere worse insue, my bleeding wounds to heal;

The sons of ^Lsculapius are employ'd,'

No room for me, so many are annoy'd.

This is certainly Eurypilus himself, experienced man!
Whilst his friend is continually enlarging on his sorrows, you
may observe that he is so far from weeping, that he assigns a
reason why he should bear his wounds with patience.

Who at his enemy a stroke directs,

His sword to light upon himself expects.

Patroclus, I imagine, were he a man, would lead him off
to his chamber to bind up his wounds ; but not a word of that,
for he enquires how it went.

Say how the Argives bear themselves in fight?

He could not express their toils so well by words, as what he
had suffered himself:

Peace! and my wounds bind up;
But though Eurypilus could not, ^sopus could.

Where Hector's fortune press'd our yielding troops,

and he explains the rest, though in pain ; so unbounded is mili-
tary glory in a brave man! Cannot a wise and learned man
achieve what this old soldier could ? yes, indeed ; and in a much
better way: but at present I confine myself to custom and prac-
tice. I am not yet come to speak of reason and philosophy.
You may often hear of diminutive old women living without



ON BEARING PAIN 247

victuals three or four days; but take away a wrestler's
provision but for one day, he will implore Jupiter Olympius,
the very god for whom he exercises himself: he will cry out
It is intolerable Great is the force of custom! Sportsmen
will continue whole nights in the snow: they will bear beimr
parched upon the mountains. By custom the boxers will not
so much as utter a groan, however bruised by the cestus
But what do you think of those who put a victory in the
Olympics on a footing with the Consulate formerly? What
wounds will the gladiators bear, who are either barbarians or
the dregs of men? How do they, who are trained to it, prefer
being wounded to the basely avoiding it? How often do they
appear to consider nothing but the giving satisfaction to their
masters or the people? for when covered with wounds, they
send to their masters to learn their pleasure; if it is their
will, they are ready to lie down and die. What ordinary
gladiator ever gave a sigh? Who ever turned pale? Who
ever disgraced himself either on his legs, or when down ? who
that was on the ground ever drew in his neck to avoid the
stroke ? so great is the force of practice, deliberation, and cus-
tom ! shall this then be done by

A Samnite rascal, worthy his employ?

And shall a man born to glory have so soft a part in his soul
as not to be able to fortify himself by reason and reflection?
The sight of the gladiators' combats is by some looked on as
cruel and inhuman, and I do not know, as it is at present
managed, but it may be so; but when the guilty fought, we
might receive by our ears perhaps, by our eyes we could not,
better instructions to harden us against pain and death.

I have now done with exercise, custom, and a sense of
honour ; proceed we now to consider the force of reason, un-
less you have something to reply to what has been said. A.
That I should interrupt you ! by no means ; for your discourse
has brought me over to your opinion. It is the Stoics' business
then to determine if pain be an evil or not, who endeavour
to show by some strained and trifling conclusions, which are
nothing to the purpose, that pain is no evil. My opinion is,
that whatever it is, it is not so great as it appears ; and I say,



248 CICERO

that men are influenced more by some false representations and
appearance of it, and that all which is really felt is tolerable.
Where shall I begin then? shall I superficially go over what I
said before, that my discourse may have a greater scope?

This then is agreed on by all, both by the learned and un-
learned, that it becomes the brave and magnanimous, those
that have patience and a spirit above this world, not to give
way to pain; and every one commends a man who bears it
thus. Whatever then is expected from a brave man, and is
commendable in him, it would be base in any one to be afraid
of at its approach, or not to bear when it came. But I would
have you be aware, that all the right affections of the soul
come under the name of virtues ; this is not properly the name
of them all, but that they all have their name from some lead-
ing virtue: for virtue comes from vir the Latin name of a
man, and courage is the peculiar distinction of a man. Now
there are two distinct offices in this, a contempt of death, and
of pain. We must then provide ourselves with these; if we
would be men of virtue, or rather, if >e would be men, because
virtue takes its very name from vir, i.e. man.

You may enquire perhaps how? and such an enquiry is not
amiss, for philosophy is ready with her assistance. Epicurus
offers himself to you, far from a bad man, or rather a very
good one; he advises no more than he knows; Despise, saith
he, pain. Who is it saith this? the same who calls pain the
greatest of all evils, not very consistently indeed. Let us hear
him. If the pain is at the height, it must needs be short. I
must have that over again, for I do not apprehend what you mean
by at the height or short. That is at the height, than which
nothing is higher ; that is short, than which nothing is shorter.
I do not regard the greatness of any pain, from which, by the
shortness of its continuance, I shall be delivered almost before
it reaches me. But if the pain be as great as that of Philoctetes,
it will appear great indeed to me, but yet not the greatest I
am capable of ; for the pain is confined to my foot : but my
lye may pain me, I may have a pain in the head, sides, lungs,
every part of me. It is far then from being at the height;
therefore, says he, pain of a long continuance has more pleasure
in it than uneasiness. Now I cannot bring myself to say, so



OX BEARING PAIX 249

great a man talks nonsense, but I imagine he laughs at us.
My opinion is, that the greatest pain (I say, the greatest, though
it may be ten atoms less than another) is not therefore short
because acute ; I could name you a great many good men who
have been tormented many years with the acutest pains of the
gout. But this cautious man doth not determine the measure
of that greatness; nor, as I know, doth he fix what' he means
by great with regard to the pain, nor short with respect to its
continuance. Let us pass him by then as one who says just
nothing at all ; and let us force him to acknowledge, notwith-
standing he might behave himself somewhat boldly under his
colic and his strangury, that no remedy against pain can be
had from him who looks on pain as the greatest of all evils.
\Ye must apply then for relief elsewhere, and no where better
to all appearance than from those who place the chief good in
honesty, and the greatest evil in infamy. You dare not so much
as groan, or discover the least uneasiness in their company,
for virtue itself speaks to you through them.

Will you, when you may observe children at Lacedaemon,
young men at Olympia, Barbarians in the amphitheatre, re-
ceive deep wounds, and never once open their mouths; will
you, I say, when any pain twitches you, cry out like a woman?
should you not rather bear it with resolution and constancy?
and not cry, It is intolerable, nature cannot bear it. I hear
what you say, boys bear this, led thereto by glory : some bear
it through shame, many through fear; and do we imagine
that nature cannot bear what is borne by many, and in such
different circumstances? nature not only bears it, but chal-
lenges it, for there is nothing with her preferable to it, nothing
she desires more than credit and reputation, than praise, than
honour, and glory. I was desirous of describing this under
many names, and I have used many, that you may have the
clearer idea of it; for I meant to say, that whatever is de-
sirable of itself, proceeding from virtue, or placed in virtue,
and commendable on its own account (which I should sooner
call the only good than the chief good) is what men shoul
prefer above all things. As we declare thus of honesty, t
contrary is due to infamy: nothing is so odious, so detestable
nothing so unworthy a man, vrhich if you are convinced



250 CICERO

( for at the beginning of this discourse you allowed, that there
appeared to you more evil in infamy than in pain) what re-
mains is, that you have the command over yourself.

Though the expression may not seem justifiable to bid you
divide yourself, assign to one part of man command, to the
other submission, yet it is not without its elegancy. For the soul
admits of a two-fold division, one of which partakes of reason,
the other is without it ; when therefore we are ordered to give
a law to ourselves, the meaning is, that reason should restrain
our rashness. Every soul of man has naturally something soft,
low, enervated in a manner, and languid. Were there nothing
besides this, men would be the greatest of monsters ; but there
is present to every man reason, which presides and gives law
to all, which by improving itself, and making continual ad-
vances, becomes perfect virtue. It behoves a man then to take
care, that reason has the command over that part to which
obedience is assigned ; as a master over his slave, a general over
his army, a father over his son. If that part of the soul mis-
behaves, which I call soft, if it gives itself up to lamentations,
and womanish tears, it should be restrained, and committed
to the care of friends and relations, for we often see those
brought to order by shame, whom no reasons can affect. There-
fore we should confine those like our servants, in safe custody,
with chains. But those who have more resolution, yet are
not so stout as they should be ; we should encourage with our
advice, to behave as good soldiers, recollecting themselves to
maintain their honour. That wise man at Greece, in the Nip-
tra% doth not lament too much over his wounds, or rather he
is moderate in his grief.

Move slow, my friends, your hasty speed refrain,
Lest by your motion you increase my pain.

Pacuvius is better in this than Sophocles, for with him
Ulysses bemoans his wounds too lamentably; for the very
people who carried him after he was wounded, though his
grief was moderate, yet considering the dignity of the man,
did not scruple to say,

E'en thou. Ulysses, long to war inur'd,

Thy wounds, though great, too feebly hast endued



ON BEARING PAIN 251

The wise poet understood that custom was no contemptible
instructor how to bear pain. But the same complains with
more decency, though in great pain,

Assist, support me, never leave me so;
Unbind my wounds, oh ! execrable woe !

He begins to give way, but instantly checks himsejf.

Away, begone, but cover first the sore;

For your rude bands but make my pains the more.

Do you observe how he constrains himself, not that his
bodily pains were less, but he corrects the sense of them?
Therefore in the conclusion of the Niptrae he blames others,
even when he was dying.

Complaint on fortune may become the man,
None but a woman will thus weeping stand.

That soft place in his soul obeys his reason, as an abashed
soldier doth his stern commander.

Whenever a completely wise man shall appear (such in-
deed, we have never as yet seen, but the philosophers have
described, in their writings, what sort of man he is to be, if
ever he is) ; such an one, or at least his perfect reason, will
have the same authority over the inferior part as a good parent
has over his dutiful children, he will bring it to obey his nod.
without any trouble or pains. He will rouse himself, prepare
and arm himself to oppose pain as he would an enemy. If you
enquire what arms he will provide himself with ; he will strug-
gle with his pain, assume a resolution, will reason with him-
self; he will say thus to himself, Take care that you are guilty
of nothing base, languid, or unmanly. He win turn over in
his mind all the different kinds of honesty. Zeno of Elea will
be presented to him, who suffered every thing rather than be-
tray his confederates in the design of putting an end to the
tyranny. He will reflect on Anaxarchus, the Democritian,
who having fallen into the hands of Nicocreon king of Cy-
prus, without the least entreaty or refusal submitted to every
kind of torture. Calanus, the Indian, will occur to him, an
ignorant man, and a barbarian, born at the foot of Mount



252 CICERO

Caucasus, who committed himself to the flames by a free
voluntary act. But we, if we have the tooth-ach, or a pain
in the foot, or if the body be any ways affected, cannot bear
it. Our sentiments of pain, as well as pleasure, are so trifling
and effeminate, we are so enervated and dissolved, that we
cannot bear the sting of a bee without crying out. But C.
Marius, a plain countryman, but of a manly soul, when he
was cut, as I mentioned above, at first refused to be tied down,
and he is the first instance of any one's being cut without tying
down ; why did others bear this afterwards from the force of
example? You see then pain is more in opinion than nature,
and yet the same Marius is a proof that there is something
very sharp in pain, for he would not submit to have the other
thigh cut. So that he bore his pain with resolution; but as a
man. he was not willing to undergo any greater without evi-
dent cause. The whole then consists in this, to have the com-
mand over yourself: I have already told you what kind of
command this is, and by considering what is most consistent
with patience, fortitude, and greatness of soul, a man not only
refrains himself, but by some means or other even mitigates
pain itself.

Even as in a battle, the dastardly and timorous soldier
throws away his shield on the first appearance of an enemy,
and runs as fast as he can, and on that account loses his life
sometimes, though his body is never touched, when he who
stands his ground meets with nothing like this : so, they who
cannot bear the appearances of pain, throw themselves away,
and give themselves up to affliction and dismay. But they that
oppose it, are often more than a match for it. For the body
has a certain resemblance to the soul : as burdens are the easier
borne the more the body is exerted, and they crush us if we
give way ; so the soul by exerting itself resists the whole weight
that would oppress it; but if it yields, it is so pressed, that it
cannot support itself. And if we consider things truly, the
soul should exert itself in every pursuit, for that is the only
security for its doing its duty. But this should be principally
regarded in pain, not to do an) r thing timidly, dastardly, basely,
or slavishly, or effeminately, and above all things we should
dismiss and discharge that Philoctetean clamour. A man is



ON BEARING PAIN 253

allowed sometimes to groan, but yet seldom, but it is not suf-
f erable even in a woman to howl ; and this is the very funeral
lamentation which is forbidden by the twelve tables. Nor
doth a wise or brave man ever groan, unless when he exerts
himself to give his resolution greater force, as they that run
in the stadium, make as much noise as they can. It is the
same with the wrestlers; but the boxers, when they aim a
blow with the cestus at their adversary, give a groan, not be-
cause they are in pain, or from a sinking of their spirits, but
because their whole body is upon the stretch when they throw
out these groans, and the blow comes the stronger.

What! they who would speak louder than ordinary, are
they satisfied with working their jaws, sides, or tongue, or
stretching the common organs of speech? the whole body is
at full stretch, if I may be allowed the expression, every nerve
is exerted to assist their voice. I have actually seen M. An-
tony's knee touch the ground when he was speaking with ve-
hemence for himself, with relation to the Varian law. As the
engines you throw stones or darts with, throw them out with
the greater force the more they are strained and drawn back, so
it is in speaking, running, or boxing, the more people strain
themselves, the greater their force. Since therefore this ex-
ertion has so much attributed to it, we should apply it in pain,
if it helps to strengthen the mind. But if it is a groan of
lamentation, if it is weakness or abjectness; I should scarce
call him a man who complied with it. For even supposing that
such groaning give any ease, it should be considered, whether
it was consistent with a brave and resolute man. But, if it
doth not ease our pain, why should we debase ourselves to no
purpose? for what is more unbecoming in a man than to cry
like a woman? But this precept about pain is not confined
to that; we should apply this exertion of the soul to every
thing else. Doth anger, rage, or lust prevail ? We should have
recourse to the same magazine, and apply to the same arms;
but since our subject is pain, we will let the others alone. To
bear pain then sedately and calmly, it is of great use to con-
sider with all our soul, as the saying is, how noble it is to do
so, for we are naturally desirous (as I said before, nor can
it be too often repeated) and very much inclined to what is



254 CICERO

honest, of which if we discover but the least glimpse, there is



Online LibraryMarion Mills MillerThe classics, Greek & Latin; the most celebrated works of Hellenic and Roman literatvre, embracing poetry, romance, history, oratory, science, and philosophy (Volume 13) → online text (page 23 of 38)