CHAPTER 5

Against the Quarrelsome and Ferocious
The wise and good man neither himself fights with any person, nor does he allow another, so far as he can prevent it. And an example of this as well as of all other things is proposed to us in the life of Socrates, who not only himself on all occasions avoided fights, but would not allow even others to quarrel. See in Xenophon's Symposium how many quarrels he settled; how further he endured Thrasymachus and Polus and Callicles; how he tolerated his wife, and how he tolerated his son who attempted to confute him aid to cavil with him. For he remembered well that no man has in his power another man's ruling principle. He wished, therefore nothing else than that which was his own. And what is this? Not that this or that man may act according to nature; for that is a thing which belongs to another; but that while others are doing their own acts, as they choose, he may never the less be in a condition conformable to nature and live in it, only doing what is his own to the end that others also may be in a state conformable to nature. For this is the object always set before him by the wise and good man. Is it to be commander of an army? No: but if it is permitted him, his object is in this matter to maintain his own ruling principle. Is it to marry? No; but if marriage is allowed to him, in this matter his object is to maintain himself in a condition conformable to nature. But if he would have his son not to do wrong, or his wife, he would have what belongs to another not to belong to another; and to he instructed is this: to learn what things are a man's own and what belongs to another.

How, then, is there left any place for fighting, to a man who has this opinion? Is he surprised at anything which happens, and does it appear new to him? Does he not expect that which comes from the bad to be worse and more grievous than what actually befalls him? And does he not reckon as pure gain whatever they may do which falls short of extreme wickedness? "Such a person has reviled you." Great thanks to him for not having, struck you. "But he has struck me also." Great thanks that he did not wound you "But he wounded me also." Great thanks that he did not kill you. For when did he learn or in what school that man is a tame animal, that men love one another, that an act of injustice is a great harm to him who does it. Since then he has not to him who does it. Since then he has not learned this and is not convinced of it, why shall he not follow that which seems to be for his own "Your neighbour has thrown stones." Have you then done anything wrong? "But the things in the house have been broken." Are you then a utensil? No; but a free power of will. What, then, is given to you in answer to this? If you are like a wolf, you must bite in return, and throw more stones. But if you consider what is proper for a man, examine your store-house, see with at faculties you came into the world. Have you the disposition of a wild beast, Have you the disposition of revenge for an injury? When is a horse wretched? When he is deprived of his natural faculties; not when he cannot crow like a cock, but when he cannot run. When is a dog wretched? Not when he cannot fly, but when he cannot track his game. Is, then, a man also unhappy in this way, not because he cannot strangle lions or embrace statues, for he did not come into the world in the possession of certain powers from nature for this purpose, but because he has lost his probity and his fidelity? People ought to meet and lament such a man for the misfortunes into which he has fallen; not indeed to lament because a man his been born or has died, but because it has happened to him in his lifetime to have lost the things which are his own, not that which he received from his father, not his land and house, and his inn, and his slaves; for not one of these things is a man's own, but all belong to others, are servile and subject to account, at different times given to different persons by those who have them in their power: but I mean the things which belong to him as a man, the marks in his mind with which he came into the world, such as we seek also on coins, and if we find them, we approve of the coins, and if we do not find the marks, we reject them. What is the stamp on this Sestertius? "The stamp of Trajan." Present it. "It is the stamp of Nero." Throw it away: it cannot be accepted, it is counterfeit. So also in this case. What is the stamp of his opinions? "It is gentleness, a sociable disposition, a tolerant temper, a disposition to mutual affection." Produce these qualities. I accept them: I consider this man a citizen, I accept him as a neighbour, a companion in my voyages. Only see that he has not Nero's stamp. Is he passionate, is he full of resentment, is he faultfinding? If the whim seizes him, does he break the heads of those who come in his way? Why, then did you say that he is a man? Is everything judged by the bare form? If that is so, say that the form in wax is all apple and has the smell and the taste of an apple. But the external figure is not enough: neither then is the nose enough and the eyes to make the man, but he must have the opinions of a man. Here is a man who does not listen to reason, who does not know when he is refuted: he is an ass: in another man the sense of shame is become dead: he is good for nothing, he is anything rather than a man. This man seeks whom he may meet and kick or bite, so that he is not even a sheep or an ass, but a kind of wild beast.

"What then would you have me to be despised?" By whom? by those who know you? and how and how shall those who know you despise a man who is gentle and modest? Perhaps you mean by those who do not know you? What is that to you? For no other artisan cares for the opinion of those who know not his art. "But they will be more hostile to me for this reason." Why do you say "me"? Can any man injure your will, or prevent you from using in a natural way the appearances which are presented to you, "In no way can he." Why, then, are still disturbed and why do you choose to show yourself afraid? And why do you not come forth and proclaim that you are at peace with all men whatever they may do, and laugh at those chiefly who think that they can harm you? "These slaves," you can say, "know not either who I am nor where lies my good or my evil, because they have no access to the things which are mine."

In this way, also, those who occupy a strong city mock the besiegers; "What trouble these men are now taking for nothing: our wall is secure, we have food for a very long time, and all other resources." These are the things which make a city strong and impregnable: but nothing else than his opinions makes a man's soul impregnable. For what wall is so strong, or what body is so hard, or what possession is so safe, or what honour so free from assault? All things everywhere are perishable, easily taken by assault, and, if any man in any way is attached to them, he must be disturbed, expect what is bad, he must fear, lament, find his desires disappointed, and fall into things which he would avoid. Then do we not choose to make secure the only means of safety which are offered to us, and do we not choose to withdraw ourselves from that which is perishable and servile and to labour at the things, which are imperishable and by nature free; and do we not remember that no man either hurts another or does good to another, but that a man's opinion about each thing is that which hurts him, is that which overturns him; this is fighting, this is civil discord, this is war? That which made Eteocles and Polynices enemies was nothing else than this opinion which they had about royal power, their opinion about exile, that the one is the extreme of evils, the other the greatest good. Now this is the nature of every man to seek the good, to avoid the bad; to consider him who deprives us of the one and involves us in the other an enemy and treacherous, even if he be a brother, or a son or a father. For nothing is more akin to us than the good: therefore if these things are good and evil, neither is a father a friend to sons, nor a brother to a brother, but all the world is everywhere full of enemies, treacherous men, and sycophants. But if the will, being what it ought to be, is the only good; and if the will, being such as it ought not to be, is the only evil, where is there any strife, where is there reviling? about what? about the things which do not concern us? and strife with whom? with the ignorant, the unhappy, with those who are deceived about the chief things?

Remembering this Socrates managed his own house and endured a very ill-tempered wife and a foolish son. For in what did she show her bad temper? In pouring water on his head as much as she liked, and in trampling on the cake. And what is this to me, if I think that these things are nothing to me? But this is my business; and neither tyrant shall check my will nor a master; nor shall the many check me who am only one, nor shall the stronger check me who am the weaker; for this power of being free from check is given by God to every man. For these opinions make love in a house, concord in a state, among nations peace, and gratitude to God; they make a man in all things cheerful in externals as about things which belong to others, as about things which are of no value. We indeed are able to write and to read these things, and to praise them when they are read, but we do not even come near to being convinced of them. Therefore what is said of the Lacedaemonians, "Lions at home, but in Ephesus foxes," will fit in our case also, "Lions in the school, but out of it foxes."