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But if the ancients were deficient on these topics, they were not so in what may be considered as the basis of useful knowledge, in morals, and an acquaintance with the human heart. Though I confess I do not find much of ethical science in Plato, which is deserving of attention; yet in the Arondwyra of Socrates, and some other of the dialogues, there occur some beautiful reflections. The morals of Aristotle are a dull common-place book, chiefly consisting, like the rest of his philosophy, in definitions. In the writings of the stoics, however, some admirable precepts are to be found; indeed we may go further, we may venture to say there is something of principle in the doctrines of these philosophers; they mould ethics into a kind of science, and distinguish with accuracy the different stages of human perfection.
Απαιδευίε εργον, το αλλοις εγκαλείν, εφ' οις
Epict. Enchirid. c. 10.
“ It is the act of an uneducated and ignorant person to blame others for the evils he has brought on himself; of one beginning to be wise to blame himself; of the really wise to blame neither the one nor the other."
Ιδιωθε σασις και χαρακλης εδεποτε εξ εαυτε προσδοκαν ωφέλειαν και βλαβην, αλλ' απο των εξω. φιλοσοφε βασις και χαρακλης πασαν ωφέλειαν και βλαβην, εξ εαυθε προσδοκαν.
Ib. c. 71.
6 It is the state and character of a vulgar mind, never to look for profit or injury from himself, but from some external cause. It is the character of a philosopher to look on himself for whatever may be profitable or injurious."
Without the rage for definition so obvious in Aristotle, their distinctions were happier, more accurate and more agreeably to nature.
Ουτοι δε οι λογοι ασυνακλοι, εγω σε πλεσιώτερος ειμι,εγω σε αρα κρίσσων. εγω σε λογιωτερος, εγω σε αρα κρείσσων. εκεινοι δε μάλλον συνακλοι εγω σε πλεσιωτερος ειμι, και μη αρα κλησις της ψης κρισσων. εγω λογιωτερG, και εμη αρα λεξις της σης κρείσσων. συ δε γε ετε κλησις ει, ε1ε λεξις.
Epict. Enchir. č. 66.
These expressions are not just...." I am richer than thou, therefore I am better. I am more eloquent, and therefore better.” It would be more correct to say I am richer than thou, therefore my property is better. I am more eloquent, therefore my language is better. For thou thyself art neither money nor language.
I shall select a few specimens from another of the same school, and characterised by the same peculiarity of expression. .
θανα/G δε γε και ζωη, δοξα και αδοξια πονος και ηδονη, πλε/G και πενία, παντα επισης συμβαινη ανθρωπων τοις 7ε αγαθους και τους κακούς ετε καλα ονλι είε αισχρά.
Anton. lib. ii. c. 11.
“ Death and life, honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, riches and poverty, these alike happen to the good and the bad, and the reason is, that they are in themselves neither good nor dishonourable.”
Τα ανθρωπινα Ειε ο μεν χρoν, σιγμη η δε δρια, ρεεςα· η δε αισθησις αμυδρα. ή δε όλα τα σωμα/συγκρισις, ευσηπτος και δε ψυχη ρομβος και δε τυχη δυς εκμοχλον και δε φημη ακρίλον (υνελονι δε ειπειν πανlα τα μεν τα σωμα/G πόθαμε: τα δε 7ης ψυχης, όνειρος και τυφος. ο δε Ειος πολεμG και ξενε επιδημια και υγεροφημία δε ληθη, τι αν το παραπεμψαι δυναμενον; εν και μονον φιλοσοφία, τέλο δε, εν τω τηρειν τον ένδον δαιμονα ανυβριςον και ασινη, ήδονων και πονων κρείσσονα μηδεν έικη ποιανία μηδε διεψευσμενως και μεθ' υποκρισεως ανενδοη σε άλλον ποιησαι τι,
Anton. lib. ii. c. 17.
“ The extent of human life is but a point; existence is constantly flowing away ; perception dark and obscure ; the body delicate and allied to corruption ; the 'soul a vapour; fortune difficult to foretel ; fame injudi. ciously distributed. In a word, what belongs to the body flows away like a river; what belongs to the soul is a dream or a bubble. Life is a warfare or a pilgrimage; and posthumous fame is, with respect to ourselves, oblivion. "What then is permanent and satisfactory? Philosophy alone ; and this consists in keeping the soul free from injury and disgrace, superior to pleasure and pain, without dissembling, falschood or hypocrisy, and as to happiness independent of the motions of another.”
εδαμε γαρ ελε ήσυχιωθερον, έ7ε απραγμoνεςερον ανθρωπος αναχωρειή εις την αυλα ψυχην μαγιςθόσις έχει ένδον τοιαυτα εις α εγκυψος εν παση ευμάρεια tuous govételt
Anton. lib. iv. c. 3.
“ A man cannot retire into any place more quiet, or less disturbed, than into the recesses of his own soul, especially if he has treasured up such things there as he can contemplate with satisfaction.”
Nor is there wanting a higher philosophy for a basis to these reflections : speaking of death....
Το δε εξ ανθρωτων απελθειν ει μεν θεοι ειςιν εδεν δεινον κακω γαρσι εκ αν περι ζαλοιεν· η δε ει τι εκ εισιν ή και μελειαυλοις των ανθρωπείων, τιμοι ζων εν κοσμω κενω θεων και προνοιας κενω; Ολλα και εισι και μελει αυλοις των ανθρω
Ib. lib ii. c. 11.
" To depart from earthly things is no calamity. If there are gods they will suffer no evil to befal thee ; if there are none, or if they totally disregard human affairs, what advantage is it to live in a world without gods, or without a Providence. But that there are superior beings, and that they regard human events, is beyond dispute.”
Τα των θεων προνοιας μεςα τα της τυχης εκ άνευ φυσεως ή Cυγκλασεως και επιπλοκης των προνοια διοικείμεναν.
Anton. lib. iii. c. 3.
“ All is full of the Divine Providence. What is call-ed fortune or chance is not without nature at the bot
tom, and that connection and chain of causes which is ordered by Providence.”
It must, however, be confessed of the Stoic morality, that much of it is extravagant, and some of it trifling; that it is founded upon too few principles, abounds with repetition, and, perhaps, justly incurs the censure of (I think) Lactantius; that it was calculated for actors on the theatre, and not for men in the world.
The most regular and methodical tract upon ethics, which is contained in the whole scope of classical literature, is the offices of Tully; this valuable fragment contains much excellent reasoning, and much sound observation ; but, still it appears to me but a fragment. Whether the lively and desultory genius of Cicero revolted against the toil of a laboured, methodical, scientific production, or whether he was interrupted in the progress of his task, the work is certainly imperfect; there are several useful topics entirely omitted, and even the system itself is left in an unfinished state.
In the other beautiful rhapsodies of Tully, in vain shall we look for any thing like system or method. No man, however, can read his Cato Major, his De Amicitia, his Tusculan Disputations, without moral improvement; his Letters, and all bis writings, abound in animating and interesting reflections, in excellent maxims. There is a point, a force, a climax, too, in his observations, which cannot be too greatly admired, and carries the mind along with it, and which gives a novelty even to what is common-place in itself :
“ Et nomen pacis dulce est, et ipsa res salutaris ; sed inter pacem et servitutem plurimum interest : Pax est tranquilla libertas, servitus postremum malorum omnium, non modò bello, sed morte etiam repellendum.” ....Cic. in M. Ant.
“ The very name of peace is delightful, and the possession most salutary; but there is a wide difference between peace and slavery. Peace is the tranquil enjoyment of liberty; slavery is the extreme of evils, no: only to be repelled by war, but even by death."
“Sin aliquando necessitas nos ad ea detruserit, quæ nostri ingenii non erunt: omnis adhibenda erit cura, meditatio, diligentia, ut ea si non decorè at quam minimum indecore facere possimus."....Cic. de Off.,
“If sometimes necessity should compel us to what is contrary to our minds, we must exert our utmost . care, attention and diligence, that if we cannot do them decorously, we shall at all events do them as little indecorously as possible."
In the writings of the poets, the most useful and beautiful reflections are expressed with a simplicity which delights, or a force which penetrates the heart; the former is chiefly the characteristic of the Greek, the latter of the Roman muse.
If HISTORY is classed among the sciences, in this the ancients cannot be too warmly commended. To their admirable writings we are indebted, not only for the most important facts in the history of mankind, but for the most perfect models in that species of composition. The ancients have indeed scarcely been equalled in this line, and I think I can venture to say, that I have not seen the sweet simplicity of Herodotus....the dignity of Thucydides, the harmony and elegance of Sallust, or the pointed and forcible expression of Tacitus, transferred into any modern language, by their most learned translators.
VII. But whatever was wanting to the ancients in science, is amply compensated in taste. Homer and Virgil are still unrivalled, and the latter of them is certainly still untranslated. The pastorals of Theocritus, and perhaps the odes of Pindar, have nothing exactly resembling them in modern languages. The satires of Horace and Juvenal have only been imitated. In every department of prose composition also, we find among the ancients excellent models. Without deprecating the merit of our contemporaries, we may truly say that the clear and energetic reasoning of Demosthenes, the full, harmonious, and ornamental periods of Cicero, and the sententious neatness of Sallust,