Of Hierocles, the author of the ETHICAL FRAGMENTS, something more is known than of the authors of the POLITICAL FRAGMENTS, through what is said of him by Suidas, Damascius, and Aeneas Gazaeus. For from the last of these we learn that he flourished about the end of the fifth century of the Christian era; and from the other two, that he was a Platonic philosopher of Alexandria: that his conceptions were magnificent, and his genius sublime; that he was very eloquent, astonished his auditors by the beauty and copiousness of his language, and contended with Plato himself in elegance of diction, and fertility of intellect. One of his auditors was Theosebius, a man of great penetration, who at different times twice heard Hierocles orally explaining the Gorgias of Plato; and though on comparing the latter with the former explanation, he found nothing in the one which might be said to be the same with what was in the other, yet each of them unfolded as much as possible the intention of Plato in that dialogue — which, as Damascius well observes, was a thing of a most singular nature, and clearly demonstrates the amplitude of his conceptions. We are informed, also, by the same Theosebius, that Hierocles once said, when expounding Plato, that the discourses of Socrates resembled cubes, because they remained firm wherever they might fall.
The following circumstance, says Suidas, evinces the fortitude and magnanimity of Hierocles. On coming to Byzantium, he offended the prevailers (προσεηρουσε τοις Κρατουσι) i.e. the Christians; and being brought into a court of justice by them was whipped. But while the blood was flowing, he took some of it in the hollow of his hand, and besprinkled with it the judge, at the same time exclaiming:
Cyclops, since human flesh is thy delight,
Now drink this wine.
Being banished, most probably in consequence of this magnanimous behavior, and returning some time after to Alexandria, he gave philosophical lectures to his auditors in his usual manner. Suidas adds, that the grandeur of the conceptions of Hierocles may be learnt from the perusal of his Commentaries On the Golden Verses of the Pythagoreans, and from his treatise On Providence; in which works it appears that he was sublimely wise in his life, but not accurate in his knowledge. Damascius also says, that Hierocles was not at all deficient in any thing pertaining to merely human science, but that he was by no means replete with blessed conceptions, i. e. with conceptions which are the offspring of an entheastic, or divinely inspired energy; and which are to be found in abundance in the writings of Plato, Plontinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, and Damascius himself. This, indeed, will be immediately evident to the man who has penetrated the depth of these writings, but to the merely verbal critic is a circumstance involved in Cimmerian darkness.
Such particulars, also, as the following, are to be previously assumed concerning the Gods, viz. that they are immutable, and firm in their decrees; so that they never change the conception of what appeared to them to be fit from the beginning. For there is one immutability and firmness of the virtues, which it is reasonable to suppose subsists transcendently with the Gods, and which imparts a never failing stability to their conceptions. From which it is evident, that there is no probability that the punishments which divinity thinks proper to inflict can be remitted. For it is easy to infer, that if the Gods change their decisions, and omit to punish him whom they had designed to punish, the world can neither be beautifully nor justly governed; nor can any probable reason for [the necessity of] repentance be assigned. Poetry also appears to have asserted such things as the following, rashly, and without any reason:
By incense and libation, gentle vows,
And sacrifice and prayer, men bend the Gods,
When they transgress, and stray from what is right.
For flexible are e’en the Gods themselves.
And in short whatever of a similar nature is to be found in poetry.
Nor must we omit to observe, that though the Gods are not the causes of evil, yet they connect certain persons with things of this kind, and surround those who deserve [to be afflicted] with corporeal and external detriments; not through any malignity, or because they think it requisite that men should struggle with difficulties, but for the sake of punishment. For as pestilence and drought, and besides these excessive rain, earthquakes, and every thing of this kind, are for the most part produced through certain other more physical causes, yet sometimes are effected by the Gods, when the times are such that the iniquity of the multitude, publicly, and in common, requires to be punished; after the same manner, also, the Gods sometimes afflict an individual with corporeal and external detriments, in order to punish him, and convert others to what is right.
But to be persuaded that the Gods are never the cause of any evil, contributes greatly, as it appears to me, to proper conduct toward the Gods. For evils proceed from vice alone, but the Gods are of themselves the causes of good, and of whatever is advantageous; while, in the meantime, we do not admit their beneficence, but surround ourselves with voluntary evils. Hence, on this occasion, it appears to me that it is well said by the poet:
— that mortals blame the Gods,
as if they were the causes of their evils!
— though not from Fate,
But for their crimes they suffer pain and woe.
For that God is never in any way the cause of evil may be proved by many arguments; but at present we shall only adduce what Plato says: viz.
that as it is not the province of what is hot to refrigerate, but the contrary; so neither is it the province of that which is beneficent to be noxious, but the contrary. Moreover, God being good, and immediately replete from the beginning with every virtue, cannot be noxious, or the cause to any one of evil; but on the contrary, must impart every good to those who are willing to receive it; bestowing on us, also, such media as are according to nature, and which are effective of what is conformable to nature. But there is only one cause of evil.
After speaking of the Gods, it is most reasonable to show, in the next place, how we should conduct ourselves toward our country. For, by Jupiter, our country is as it were a certain secondary God, and our first and greatest parent. Hence he who gave a name to the thing did not rashly denominate it patris; this word being derived from pater, a father; but pronounced with a feminine termination, in order that it might be as it were a mixture of father and mother. This reason, also, proclaims that our country is to be honored equally with our two parents; so that we ought to prefer it to either of them taken separately, and not to honor the two more than it; but to pay an equal portion of respect to each. There is, likewise, another reason, which exhorts us to honor it more than our two parents conjointly; and not only to honor it beyond these, but also to prefer it to our wife, children, and friends; and, in short, after the Gods, to all other things.
As, therefore, he is stupid who esteems one finger more than the five, but he is most reasonable who prefers the five to one; for the former despises what is more eligible, but the latter, in the five, preserves also the one finger: after the same manner, he who wishes to save himself rather than his country, in addition to acting unlawfully, desires impossibilities. But he who prefers his country to himself is dear to divinity; and reasons fitly and firmly. At the same time it has been observed, that though some one should not be connumerated with the system [or the cooperating combination of the many], but should be considered apart from it, yet it is fit that he should prefer the safety of the system to his own preservation.
For the destruction of the city will evince that the safety of the citizen entirely depends on its existence, just as the abscission of the hand is attended with the destruction of one finger, as a part of the hand. We may, therefore, summarily conclude, that general is not to be separated from private utility: but is to be considered as one and the same with it. For that which is advantageous to the country is common to each of the parts of it; since the whole without the parts is nothing. And vice versa, that which is advantageous to the citizen extends also to the city, if it is assumed as beneficial to the citizen. For that which is useful to a dancer, so far as he is a dancer, will also be advantageous to the whole choir. Depositing, therefore, all this reasoning in the discursive power of the soul, we shall receive much light from it in particulars, so that we shall never omit to perform what is due from us to our country.
Hence, I say, it is necessary that every passion and disease of the soul should be removed from him who intends to act well by his country. It is likewise requisite that a citizen should observe the laws of his country as certain secondary Gods, and should render himself perfect conformably to their mandate. But he who endeavors either to transgress, or to make any innovation in the laws, should be with all possible diligence prevented from doing so, and in every way opposed. For a contempt of the existing laws, and preferring new to ancient laws, are things by no means beneficial to a city. Hence it is requisite that those should be restrained from giving their votes, and from precipitate innovation, who are pertinaciously disposed to act in this manner. I therefore commend Zaleucus, the Locrian legislator, who ordained, that he who intended to introduce a new law, should do it with a rope about his neck, in order that he might be immediately strangled, unless he could change the ancient constitution of the polity, to the very great advantage of the community. But customs, which are truly those of the country, and which, perhaps, are more ancient than the laws themselves, are to be preserved no less than the laws. The present customs, however, which are but of yesterday, and which have been so very recently introduced into every city, are not to be considered as the customs of the country, [or as the institutes of ancestors]; and, perhaps, neither are they at all to be regarded as customs. In the next place, because custom is an unwritten law, having for its inscription a good legislator, viz. the approbation of all those that use it; perhaps, on this account, it is proximate to things which are naturally just.
After speaking of the Gods and our country, what person deserves to be mentioned more than, or prior to our parents? Hence it is requisite that we should discourse about them. He, therefore, will not err who says, that they are certain secondary and terrestrial Gods; since on account of their proximity to us, they are, if it be lawful so to speak, more to be honored by us than the Gods themselves. But it is necessary, previously, to assume, that the only measure of gratitude toward them is a perpetual and unremitting promptitude to repay the benefits we have received from them; since, though we should perform many things for their sake, yet they will be far less than what they deserve. At the same time, also, it may be said, that these our deeds are nearly theirs, because they produced us by whom they are performed. As therefore, if the works of Phidias and of other artists should themselves produce certain other things, we should not hesitate to say that these latter, also, were the works of the artists; thus, likewise, it may be justly said, that our performances are the deeds of our parents; through whom we likewise derived our existence. Hence, in order that we may easily apprehend the duties which we owe them, it will be requisite to have this sentence perpetually at hand, that our parents should be considered by us as the images of the Gods; and by Jupiter, as domestic Gods, our benefactors, kindred, creditors, lords, and most stable friends. For they are most stable images of the Gods, possessing a similitude to them beyond the power of art to effect. For they are the guardian Gods of the house, and live with us; and besides this, they are our greatest benefactors, imparting to us things of the greatest consequence; and, by Jupiter, bestowing on us not only what we possess, but also such things as they wish to give us, and for which they themselves pray. Farther still, they are likewise our nearest kindred, and the causes of our alliance with others. They are, also, creditors of things of the most honorable nature, and only repay themselves by taking what we shall be benefited by returning. For what gain can be so great to a child as piety and gratitude to his parents? They are most justly, too, our lords: for of what can we be in a greater degree the possession, than of those through whom we exist? Moreover, they are perpetual and spontaneous friends and auxiliaries; at all times, and in every circumstance, affording us assistance. Since, however, the name of parent is the most excellent of all the beforementioned appellations, according to which we also denominate the Gods themselves; something else must also be added to this conception; viz. that children should be persuaded that they dwell in their father’s house, as if they were certain ministers and priests in a temple, appointed and consecrated for this purpose by nature herself; who entrusted a reverential attention to their parents to their care. Since of attentive regard, therefore, one kind pertains to the body, but another to the soul, we shall readily perform what each of these requires, if we are willing to do that which reason persuades us to do. But reason persuades us to pay less attention to the body than to the soul; though attention to the former is necessary. We should, therefore, procure for our parents liberal food, and such as is adapted to the imbecility of old age; and besides this, a bed, sleep, unction, a bath, garments; and in short, all the necessaries which the body requires, that they may never at any time experience the want of any of these; in thus acting, imitating their care about our nurture, when we were infants. Hence, we should compel ourselves to employ a certain prophetic attention to them, in order to discover what they particularly desire of things pertaining to the body, though they should not indicate the object of their wish. For they divined many things respecting us, when we frequently signified by inarticulate and mournful sounds, that we were in want of certain things, but were unable to indicate clearly the subjects of our wants. So that our parents, by the benefits which they formerly conferred upon us, become the preceptors to us of what we ought to bestow on them.
With respect to the souls of our parents, we should, in the first place, procure for them hilarity; which will be especially obtained, if we are conversant with them by night and by day, unless something prevents us, walking, being anointed, and living together with them. For as to those who are undertaking a long journey, the converse of their families and friends is most delightful, after the manner of those that accompany a solemn procession; thus, also, to parents who are now verging to the grave, the sedulous and unremitting attention of their children is most acceptable, and most dear. Moreover, if at any time they should act wrong, which frequently happens to be the case with many, and especially with those who have been educated in a more vulgar manner; they should be corrected indeed, yet not by Jupiter with reprehension, as we are accustomed to do to our inferiors or equals, but as it were, with exhortation; and not as if they had erred through ignorance, but as if they had committed an oversight, through inattention; and that if they had attended, they would by no means have erred. For admonitions, and especially if they are vehement, are grievous to those that are old. Hence, it is necessary, that the remedy of their oversight should be accompanied by mild exhortation, and a certain elegant artifice. Children, likewise, increase the joy of their parents, by performing for them servile offices, such as washing their feet, making their bed, and waiting on them after the manner of servants. For they are not a little delighted, when they receive nesessary servile attentions from the most dear hands of their children, and make use of their ministrant works. But parents will be especially gratified when their children are seen to honor those whom they love and very much esteem. On which account, it is fit that children should affectionately love the kindred of their parents, and pay a proper attention to then, and in a similar manner should love the friends of, and all those that are dear to their parents. And this being admitted, we shall be enabled to collect many other duties of children to their parents, which are neither small nor casual. For since our parents are gratified by the attention which we pay to those whom they love, but we are in a most eminent degree beloved by our parents, it is evident that we shall very much please them, by paying a proper attention to ourselves.
The first admonition, therefore, is very clear, easily obtained, and is common to all men. For it is a sane assertion, which every man will consider as evident. And it is this: Act by every one, in the same manner as if you supposed yourself to be him, and him to be you. For he will use a servant well who considers with himself, how he would think it proper to be used by him, if he indeed was the master, and himself the servant. The same thing also must be said of parents with respect to children, and of children with respect to parents; and, in short, of all men with respect to all. This admonition, however, is transcendently adapted to the alliance of brothers to each other; since nothing else is necessary for him to admit previously, who considers how he ought to conduct himself toward his brother, than promptly to assume the natural sameness of the person of each of them. This, therefore, is the first admonition, that a man should act toward his brother in the same way in which he would think it proper that his brother should act toward him. But, by Jupiter, some one may say, I do not exceed propriety in my manners and am equitable, but my brother’s manners are rough and without affability. Such a one, however, does not speak rightly. For, in the first place, perhaps he does not speak the truth; since an excessive love of self is sufficient [to induce a man] to magnify and extol what pertains to himself, but to diminish and vilify what pertains to others. Frequently, therefore, men of inferior worth, prefer themselves to others who are far more excellent characters. And, in the next place, though the brother should be in reality such a person [as above described], I should say, prove yourself to be a better man than he is, and you will vanquish his rusticity by your beneficence. For no great thanks are due to those who conduct themselves moderately toward worthy and benignant men; but to render him more mild who is stupid, and whose manners are rough, is the work of a man [properly so called], and deserves great applause. Nor is it at all impossible for the exhortation to take effect. For in men of the most absurd manners, there are the seeds of a mutation to a better condition, and of honor and love for their benefactors. For are not even savage animals, and such as are naturally most hostile to our race, and who are taken away by violence, and at first are detained by chains, and confined in iron cages, are rot these afterwards rendered mild by a certain mode of treatment, and by daily supplying them with food? And will not the man who is a brother, or even any casual person, who deserves attention in a much greater degree than a brute, be changed to milder manners by proper treatment, though he should not entirely forsake his rusticity? In our behaviour, therefore, toward every man, and in a much greater degree toward a brother, we should imitate the reply of Socrates to one who said to him,
May I die unless I am revenged on you. For his answer was,
May I die, if I do not make yon my friend. And thus much concerning these particulars.
In the next place, a man should consider that after a manner his brothers are parts of him, just as my eyes are parts of me; and likewise my legs, my hands, and the remaining members of my body. For brothers have the same relation to a family considered as one thing [as the parts to the whole of the body]. As, therefore, the eyes and the hands, if each of them should receive a peculiar soul and intellect, would, by every possible contrivance, pay a guardian attention to the remaining parts of the body, on account of the beforementioned communion, because they could not perform their proper office well without the presence of the other members; thus also it is requisite that we who are men, and who acknowledge that we have a soul, should omit no offices which it becomes us to perform to our brothers. For again, brothers are more naturally adapted to assist each other, than are the parts of the body. For the eyes, indeed, being present with each other, see what is before them, and one hand cooperates with the other which is present; but the mutual works of brothers are, in a certain respect, much more multifarious. For they perform things which are profitable in common, though they should be at the greatest distance from each other; and they greatly benefit each other, though the interval which separates them should be immeasurable. In short, it must be considered, that our life appears to be a certain long war continued to the extent of many years; and this partly through the nature of the things themselves which possess a certain opposition; and partly through the sudden and unexpected occurrences of fortune; but most of all through vice itself, which neither abstains from any violence, nor from any fraud and evil stratagems. Hence nature, as not being ignorant of the purpose for which she generated us, produced each of us accompanied, after a certain manner, by an auxiliary. No one, therefore, is alone, nor does he derive his origin from an oak or a rock, but from parents, and in conjunction with brothers, and kindred, and other familiars. But reason affords us great assistance, conciliating to us strangers, and those who have no connection with us by blood, and procuring for us an abundance of auxiliars. On this account we naturally endeavor to allure and make every one our friend. Hence it is a thing perfectly insane to wish to be united to those who have not any thing from nature which is capable of procuring our love, and voluntarily to become familiar with them in the most extended degree; and yet neglect those prompt anxiliars and associates which are supplied by nature herself, such as brothers happen to be.
The discussion of wedlock is a thing most necessary. For the whole of our race is naturally adapted to society. But the first and most elementary of all associations is that which is effected by marriage. For cities could not exist without a household; but the household of an unmarried man is truly imperfect; while, on the contrary, of him who is married, it is perfect and full. Hence we have shown in our treatise On Families, that a life accompanied by wedlock is to be precedaneously chosen by the wise man; but a single life is not to be chosen, except particular circumstances require it. So that as it is requisite we should imitate the man of intellect where we can, but marriage is with him an object of precedaneous choice; it is evident that it will also be proper for us, unless some circumstance occurs to prevent it from taking place. And this is the first reason why wedlock is most necessary.
But it seems that Nature herself, prior to the wise man, incites us to this, who also exhorts the wise man to marry. For she not only made us gregarious, but likewise adapted to copulation, and proposed the procreation of children and stability of life, as the one and common work of wedlock. But Nature justly teaches us, that a choice of such things as are fit should be made so as to accord with what she has procured for us. Every animal, therefore, lives conformably to its natural constitution, and, by Jupiter, in a similar manner every plant lives agreeably to the life which is imparted to it. Only there is this difference between the two, that the latter do not employ any reasoning, or a certain enumeration, in the selection of things which they explore; as they make use of nature alone, because they do not participate of soul; but animals are led to investigate what is proper for them by imaginations and exciting desires. To us, however, Nature gave reason, in order that it might survey every thing else, and, together with all things, or rather prior to all things, might direct its attention to Nature herself, so as in an orderly manner to tend to her as to a very splendid and stable mark, and choosing every thing which is consonant to her, might cause us to live in a becoming manner. Hence he will not err, who says that a family is imperfect without wedlock. For it is not possible to conceive of a governor without the governed, nor of the governed without a governor. And this reason appears to me to be very well calculated to make those ashamed who are adverse to marriage.
I say, therefore, that marriage is likewise advantageous. In the first place, indeed, because it produces a truly divine fruit, the procreation of children, since they will be assistants to us in all our actions (as partaking of our nature), while our strength is yet entire; and they will be good auxiliars, when we are worn out, and oppressed with old age. They will also be the familiar associates of our joy in prosperity, and sympathizing participants of our sorrows in adversity. Farther still, besides the procreation of children, the association with a wife is advantageous. For, in the first place, when we are wearied with labours out of the house, she receives us with officious kindness, and recreates us by every possible attention. In the next place, she produces in us an oblivion of our molestations. For those sorrowful circumstances of life which take place in the forum, or the gymnasium, or the country, and, in short, all the cares and solicitudes occasioned by converse with our friends and familiars, do not so obviously molest us, being obscured by our necessary occupations; but when we are liberated from these, return home, and our mind becomes, as it were, at leisure, then these cares and solicitudes approach, availing themselves of this occasion, in order to torment us, at the time when life is destitute of benevolence, and is solitary. Then, however, the wife being present becomes a great solace on this occasion, by making some inquiries about external affairs, or by referring to, and considering, together with her husband, something about domestic concerns, and thus, by her unfeigned alacrity, affords him a certain exuberance of pleasure and delight. But it would be too prolix to enumerate particularly the benefit of a wife in festivals, for the purpose of procuring sacrifices and victims; in the journeys of her husband, by preserving the family in a stable condition, and not suffering it to be entirely without a ruler; in paying proper attention to the domestics; and in the aid which she affords her husband when he is afflicted with disease. For it is sufficient summarily to say, that two things are necessary to all men, in order to pass through life in a becoming manner, viz. the aid of kindred and sympathetic benevolence. But we cannot find any thing more sympathetic than a wife, nor any thing more kindred than children. Both these, however, marriage affords. How is it possible, therefore, that it should not be most advantageous to us?
I also think that a married life is beautiful. For what other thing can be such an ornament to a family, as is the association of husband and wife? For it must not be said that sumptuous edifices, walls covered with marble plaster, and piazzas adorned with stones, which are admired by those who are ignorant of true good, nor yet paintings and arched myrtle walks, nor any thing else which is the subject of astonishment to the stupid, is the ornament of a family. But the beauty of a household consists in the conjunction of man and wife, who are united to each other by destiny, and are consecrated to the Gods who preside over nuptials, births, and houses, and who accord, indeed, with each other, and have all things in common, as far as to their bodies, or rather their souls themselves; who likewise exercise a becoming authority over their house and servants; are properly solicitous about the education of their children; and pay an attention to the necessaries of life, which is neither excessive nor negligent, but moderate and appropriate. For what can be better and more excellent, as the most admirable Homer says,
Than when at home the husband and the wife
On which account I have frequently wondered at those who conceive that the life with a woman is burdensome and grievous. For a wife is not by Jupiter either a burden or a molestation, as to them she appears to be; but, on the contrary, she is something light and easy to be borne, or rather, she possesses the power of exonerating her husband from things truly troublesome and weighty. For there is not any thing so troublesome which will not be easily borne by a husband and wife when they are concordant, and are willing to endure it in common. But imprudence is truly burdensome, and difficult to be borne by its possessors: for through it things naturally light, and among others a wife, become heavy. In reality, indeed, marriage to many is intolerable, not from itself, or because such an association as this with a woman is naturally insufferable; but when we marry those whom we ought not, and, together with this, are ourselves entirely ignorant of life, and unprepared to take a wife in such a way as a free and ingenuous woman ought to be taken, then it happens that this association with her becomes difficult and intolerable. It is certain, indeed, that marriage is effected by the vulgar after this manner. For they do not take a wife for the sake of the procreation of children, and the association of life; but some are induced to marry through the magnitude of the portion, others through transcendency of form, and others through other such like causes; and by employing these bad counsellors, they pay no attention to the disposition and manners of the bride, but celebrate nuptials to their own destruction, and with their doors crowned introduce to themselves a tyrant instead of a wife, whom they cannot resist, and with whom they are unable to contend for the chief authority. It is evident, therefore, that marriage through these causes, and not through itself, becomes burdensome and intolerable to many. It is proper, however, as it is said, neither to blame things which are innoxious, nor to make our imbecility in the use of things the cause of complaint against them. Besides, it is also in other respects most absurd, to investigate on all sides the auxiliaries of friendship, and procure certain friends and associates, as those who will aid and defend us in the difficulties of life, and yet not explore and endeavor to obtain that relief, defense, and assistance which are afforded us by nature, by the laws, and by the Gods, through a wife and children.
With respect to a numerous offspring, it is after a certain manner, according to nature and consentaneous to marriage, that all, or the greatest part of those that are born, should be nurtured. Many, however, appear to be unpersuaded by this admonition, through a cause not very decorous: for they are thus affected through a love of riches, and because they think poverty to be a transcendently great evil. In the first place, therefore, it must be considered, that in procreating children, we not only beget assistants for ourselves, nourishers of our old age, and participants with us of every fortune and every circumstance that may occur in life I say, we do not beget them for ourselves alone, but in many things also for our parents. For the procreation of children is gratifying to them; because, if we should suffer any thing of a calamitous nature prior to their decease, we shall leave our children instead of ourselves, as the support of their old age. But it is a beautiful thing for a grandfather to be conducted by the hands of his grandchildren, and to be considered by them as deserving of every other attention. Hence, in the first place, we shall gratify our own parents, by paying attention to the procreation of children. And, in the next place, we shall cooperate with the prayers and ardent wishes of those that begot us. For they from the first were solicitous about our birth, conceiving that through it there would be a very extended succession of themselves, and that they shall leave behind them children of children, and have to pay attention to our marriage, our procreation, and nurture. Hence, by marrying and begetting children, we shall accomplish, as it were, a part of their prayers; but, by being of a contrary opinion, we shall cut off the object of their deliberate choice. Moreover, it appears that every one who voluntarily, and without some prohibiting circumstance, avoids marriage, and the procreation of children, accuses his parents of madness, as not having engaged in wedlock with right conceptions of things. It is easy also to see, that such a one forms an incongruous opinion. For how is it possible that he should not be full of dissension, who finds a pleasure in living, and willingly continues in life as one who was produced into existence in a becoming manner by his parents, and yet conceives that for him to procreate others is one among the number of things which are to be rejected? In the first place, however, as we have before observed, it is requisite to consider, that we do not beget children for our own sakes alone, but for those also through whom we ourselves were begotten; and, in the next place, for the sake of our friends and kindred. For it is gratifying to these to see children which are our offspring, both on account of benevolence and propinquity, and on account of security. For the life of those to whom these pertain, is established as in a port by a thing of this kind, analogously to ships, which, though greatly agitated by the waves of the sea, are firmly secured by many anchors. On this account, the man who is a lover of his kindred, and a lover of his associates, will earnestly desire to marry and procreate children. We are likewise loudly called upon by our country to do so. For we do not beget children so much for ourselves as for our country, procuring a race that may follow us, and supplying the community with our successors. Hence the priest should know that he owes priests to his city; the ruler that he owes rulers; the public orator public orators; and, in short, the citizen that he owes citizens to it. As, therefore, to a choir the perennial continuance of those that compose it is gratifying, and to an army the duration of the soldiers, so to a city is the lastingness of the citizens. If, indeed, a city was a certain system of a short duration, and the life of it was commensurate with the life of man, it would not be in want of succession. But since it is extended to many generations, and if it employs a more fortunate daemon endures for many ages, it is evident that it is not only necessary to direct our attention to the present, but also to the future time, and not despise our natal soil, and leave it desolate, but establish it in good hopes from our posterity.
The consideration of the duties pertaining to [our other] kindred is consequent to the discussion of those that pertain to parents, brothers, wives, and children; for the same things may, in a certain respect, be said of the former as of the latter; and on this account may be concisely explained. For, in short, each of us is, as it were, circumscribed by many circles; some of which are less, but others larger, and some comprehend, but others are comprehended, according to the different and unequal habitudes with respect to each other. For the first, indeed, and most proximate circle is that which every one describes about his own mind as a center, in which circle the body, and whatever is assumed for the sake of the body, are comprehended. For this is nearly the smallest circle, and almost touches the center itself. The second from this, and which is at a greater distance from the center, but comprehends the first circle, is that in which parents, brothers, wife, and children are arranged. The third circle from the center is that which contains uncles and aunts, grandfathers and grandmothers, and the children of brothers and sisters. After this is the circle which comprehends the remaining relatives. Next to this is that which contains the common people, then that which comprehends those of the same tribe, afterwards that which contains the citizens; and then two other circles follow, one being the circle of those that dwell in the vicinity of the city, and the other, of those of the same province. But the outermost and greatest circle, and which comprehends all the other circles, is that of the whole human race.
These things being thus considered, it is the province of him who strives to conduct himself properly in each of these connections to collect, in a certain respect, the circles, as it were, to one center, and always to endeavor earnestly to transfer himself from the comprehending circles to the several particulars which they comprehend. It pertains, therefore, to the man who is a lover of kindred [to conduct himself in a becoming manner] toward his parents and brothers; also, according to the same analogy, toward the more elderly of his relatives of both sexes, such as grandfathers, uncles and aunts; toward those of the same age with himself, as his cousins; and toward his juniors, as the children of his cousins. Hence we have summarily shown how we ought to conduct ourselves toward our kindred, having before taught how we should act toward ourselves, our parents, and brothers; and besides these, toward our wife and children. To which it must be added, that those who belong to the third circle must be honored similarly to these; and again, kindred similarly to those that belong to the third circle. For something of benevolence must be taken away from those who are more distant from us by blood; though at the same time we should endeavor that an assimilation may take place between us and them. For this distance will become moderate, if, through the diligent attention which we pay to them, we cut off the length of the habitude toward each individual of these. We have unfolded, therefore, that which is most comprehensive and important in the duties pertaining to kindred.
It is requisite, likewise, to add a proper measure conformably to the general use of appellations, calling indeed cousins, uncles and aunts, by the name of brothers, fathers and mothers; but of other kindred, to denominate some uncles, others the children of brothers or sisters, and others cousins, according to the difference of age, for the sake of the abundant extension which there is in names. For this mode of appellation will be no obscure indication of our sedulous attention to each of these relatives; and at the same time will incite, and extend us in a greater degree, to the contraction as it were of the above mentioned circles. But as we have proceeded thus far in our discussion, it will not be unseasonable to recall to our memory the distinction with respect to parents, which we before made. For in that place in which we compared mother with father, we said that it was requisite to attribute more of love to a mother, and more of honor to a father; and conformably to this, we shall here add, that it is fit to have more love for those who are connected with us by a maternal alliance, but to pay more honor to those who are related to us by a paternal affinity.
Prior to all things, it is requisite to speak of the works through which the union of a family is preserved. These, therefore, are to be divided after the accustomed manner; viz. rural, forensic, and political works are to be attributed to the husband; but to the wife, such works as pertain to spinning wool, making of bread, cooking, and, in short, every thing of a domestic nature. Nevertheless, it is not fit that the one should be entirely exempt from the works of the other. For sometimes it will be proper when the wife is in the country that she should superintend the laborers, and perform the office of the master of the house; and that the husband should sometimes convert his attention to domestic affairs; and partly inquire about, and partly inspect what is doing in the house. For thus, what pertains to the mutual association of both will be more firmly connected by their joint participation of necessary cares. Since, however, our discussion has extended thus far, it appears to me that I ought not to omit to mention manual operations; for it will not be incongruous to add this also to what has been said about works.
What occasion, therefore, is there to say, that it is fit the man should meddle with agricultural labors? For there are not many by whom this will not be admitted. But though so much luxury and idleness occupies the life of men of the present day, yet it is rare to find one who is not willing to engage in the labor of sowing and planting; and to be employed in other works which pertain to agriculture. Perhaps, however, the arguments will be much less persuasive, which call on the man to engage in those other works which belong to the woman. For such men as pay great attention to neatness and cleanliness will not conceive the spinning of wool to be their business: since, for the most part, vile diminutive men, and the tribe of such as are delicate and effeminate apply themselves to the elaboration of wool, through an emulation of feminine softness. But it does not become a man, who is truly so called, to apply himself to things of this kind; so that neither shall I, perhaps, advise those to engage in such employments, who have not given perfectly credible indications of their virility and modesty. What, therefore, should hinder the man from partaking of the works which pertain to a woman, whose past life has been such as to free him from all suspicion of absurd and effeminate conduct? For in other domestic works, is it not thought that more of them pertain to men than to women? For they are more laborious, and require corporeal strength, such as to grind, to knead meal, to cut wood, to draw water from a well, to transfer large vessels from one place to another; to shake coverlets and carpets, and every other work similar to these. And it will be sufficient, indeed, for these things to be performed by men. But it is also fit that some addition should be made to the legitimate work of a woman, so that she may not only engage with her maid servants in the spinning of wool, but may also apply herself to other more virile works. For it appears to me that the making of bread, the drawing of water [from a well], the lighting of fires, the making of beds, and every other work similar to these are the proper employments of a freeborn woman. But a wife will seem much more beautiful to her husband, and especially if she is young, and not yet worn out by the bearing of children, if she becomes his associate in gathering grapes, and collecting olives; and if he is verging to old age, she will render herself more pleasing to him, by partaking with him of the labor of sowing and ploughing, and extending to him, while he is digging or planting, the instruments proper for such works. For when a family is governed after this manner by the husband and wife, so far as pertains to necessary works, it appears to me that it will be conducted in this respect in the best manner.
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