CHAPTER 23

Against Epicurus

Even Epicurus perceives that we are by nature social, but having once placed our good in the husk he is no longer able to say anything else. For on the other hand he strongly maintains this, that we ought not to admire nor to accept anything which is detached from the nature of good; and he is right in maintaining this. How then are we [suspicious], if we have no natural affection to our children? Why do you advise the wise man not to bring up children? Why are you afraid that he may thus fall into trouble? For does he fall into trouble on account of the mouse which is nurtured in the house? What does he care if a little mouse in the house makes lamentation to him? But Epicurus knows that if once a child is born, it is no longer in our power not to love it nor care about it. For this reason, Epicurus says that a man who has any sense also does not engage in political matters; for he knows what a man must do who is engaged in such things; for, indeed, if you intend to behave among men as you do among a swarm of flies, what hinders you? But Epicurus, who knows this, ventures to say that we should not bring up children. But a sheep does not desert its own offspring, nor yet a wolf; and shall a man desert his child? What do you mean? that we should be as silly as sheep? but not even do they desert their offspring: or as savage as wolves, but not even do wolves desert their young. Well, who would follow your advice, if he saw his child weeping after falling on the ground? For my part I think that, even if your mother and your father had been told by an oracle that you would say what you have said, they would not have cast you away.