Her.Ha, ha! A parody, this time.—That is Polycrates, tyrant of Samos. He is extremely well pleased with his lot: yet that slave who now stands at his side will betray him to the satrap Oroetes, and he will be crucified. It will not take long to overturn his prosperity, poor man! This, too, I had from Clotho.
Ch. I like Clotho; she is a lady of spirit. Have at them, madam! Off with their heads! To the cross with them! Let them know that they are men. And let them be exalted in the meantime; the higher they mount, the heavier will be the fall. I shall have a merry time of it hereafter, identifying their naked shades, as they come aboard; no more purple robes then; no tiaras; no golden couches!
Her. So much for royalty; and now to the common herd. Do you see them, Charon;—on their ships and on the field of battle; crowding the law-courts and following the plough; usurers here, beggars there?
Ch. I see them. What a jostling life it is! What a world of ups and downs! Their cities remind me of bee-hives. Every man keeps a sting for his neighbour's service; and a few, like wasps, make spoil of their weaker brethren. But what are all these misty shapes that beset them on every side?
Her. Hopes, Fears, Follies, Pleasures, Greeds, Hates, Grudges, and such like. They differ in their habits. The Folly is a domestic creature, with vested rights of its own. The same with the Grudge, the Hate, the Envy, the Greed, the Know-not, and the What's-to-do. But the Fear and the Hope fly overhead. The Fear swoops on its prey from above; sometimes it is content with startling a man out of his wits, sometimes it frightens him in real earnest. The Hope hovers almost within reach, and just when a man thinks he is going to catch it, off it flies, and leaves him gaping—like Tantalus in the water, you know. Now look closely, and you will make out the Fates up aloft, spinning each man his spindle-full; from that spindle a man hangs by a narrow thread. Do you see what looks like a cobweb, coming down to each man from the spindles?
Ch. I see each has a very slight thread. They are mostly entangled, one with another, and that other with a third.
Her. Of course they are. Because the first man has got to be murdered by the second, and he by the third; or again, B is to be A's heir (A's thread being the shorter), and C is to be B's. That is what the entangling means. But you see what thin threads they all have to depend on. Now here is one drawn high up into the air; presently his thread will snap, when the weight becomes too much for it, and down he will come with a bang: whereas yonder fellow hangs so low that when he does fall it makes no noise; his next-door neighbours will scarcely hear him drop.
Ch. How absurd it all is!
Her. My dear Charon, there is no word for the absurdity of it. They do take it all so seriously, that is the best of it; and then, long before they have finished scheming, up comes good old Death, and whisks them off, and all is over! You observe that he has a fine staff of assistants at his command;—agues, consumptions, fevers, inflammations, swords, robbers, hemlock, juries, tyrants,—not one of which gives them a moment's concern so long as they are prosperous; but when they come to grief, then it is Alack! and Well-a-day! and Oh dear me! If only they would start with a clear understanding that they are mortal, that after a brief sojourn on the earth they will wake from the dream of life, and leave all behind them,—they would live more sensibly, and not mind dying so much. As it is, they get it into their heads that what they possess they possess for good and all; the consequence is, that when Death's officer calls for them, and claps on a fever or a consumption, they take it amiss; the parting is so wholly unexpected. Yonder is a man building his house, urging the workmen to use all dispatch. How would he take the news, that he was just to see the roof on and all complete, when he would have to take his departure, and leave all the enjoyment to his heir?—hard fate, not once to sup beneath it! There again is one rejoicing over the birth of a son; the child is to inherit his grandfather's name, and the father is celebrating the occasion with his friends. He would not be so pleased, if he knew that the boy was to die before he was eight years old! It is natural enough: he sees before him some happy father of an Olympian victor, and has no eyes for his neighbour there, who is burying a child; that thin-spun thread escapes his notice. Behold, too, the money-grubbers, whom the aforesaid Death's-officers will never permit to be money-spenders; and the noble army of litigant neighbours!
Ch. Yes! I see it all; and I ask myself, what is the satisfaction in life? What is it that men bewail the loss of? Take their kings; they seem to be best off, though, as you say, they have their happiness on a precarious tenure; but apart from that, we shall find their pleasures to be outweighed by the vexations inseparable from their position—worry and anxiety, flattery here, conspiracy there, enmity everywhere; to say nothing of the tyranny of Sorrow, Disease, and Passion, with whom there is confessedly no respect of persons. And if the king's lot is a hard one, we may make a pretty shrewd guess at that of the commoner. Come now, I will give you a similitude for the life of man. Have you ever stood at the foot of a waterfall, and marked the bubbles rising to the surface and gathering into foam? Some are quite small, and break as soon as they are born. Others last longer; new ones come to join them, and they swell up to a great size: yet in the end they burst, as surely as the rest; it cannot be otherwise. There you have human life. All men are bubbles, great or small, inflated with the breath of life. Some are destined to last for a brief space, others perish in the very moment of birth: but all must inevitably burst.
Her. Homer compares mankind to leaves. Your simile is full as good as his.
Ch. And being the things they are, they do—the things you see; squabbling among themselves, and contending for dominion and power and riches, all of which they will have to leave behind them, when they come down to us with their penny apiece. Now that we are up here, how would it be for me to cry out to them at the top of my voice, to abstain from their vain endeavours, and live with the prospect of Death before their eyes? 'Fools' (I might say), 'why so much in earnest? Rest from your toils. You will not live for ever. Nothing of the pomp of this world will endure; nor can any man take anything hence when he dies. He will go naked out of the world, and his house and his lands and his gold will be another's, and ever another's.' If I were to call out something of this sort, loud enough for them to hear, would it not do some good? Would not the world be the better for it?
Her. Ah, my poor friend, you know not what you say. Ignorance and deceit have done for them what Odysseus did for his crew when he was afraid of the Sirens; they have waxed men's ears up so effectually, that no drill would ever open them. How then should they hear you? You might shout till your lungs gave way. Ignorance is as potent here as the waters of Lethe are with you. There are a few, to be sure, who from a regard for Truth have refused the wax process; men whose eyes are open to discern good and evil.
Ch. Well then, we might call out to them?
Her. There again: where would be the use of telling them what they know already? See, they stand aloof from the rest of mankind, and scoff at all that goes on; nothing is as they would have it. Nay, they are evidently bent on giving life the slip, and joining you. Their condemnations of folly make them unpopular here.
Ch. Well done, my brave boys! There are not many of them, though, Hermes.
Her. These must serve. And now let us go down.
Ch. There is still one thing I had a fancy to see. Show me the receptacles into which they put the corpses, and your office will have been discharged.
Her. Ah, sepulchres, those are called, or tombs, or graves. Well, do you see those mounds, and columns, and pyramids, outside the various city walls? Those are the store-chambers of the dead.
Ch. Why, they are putting flowers on the stones, and pouring costly essences upon them. And in front of some of the mounds they have piled up faggots, and dug trenches. Look: there is a splendid banquet laid out, and they are burning it all; and pouring wine and mead, I suppose it is, into the trenches! What does it all mean?
Her. What satisfaction it affords to their friends in Hades, I am unable to say. But the idea is, that the shades come up, and get as close as they can, and feed upon the savoury steam of the meat, and drink the mead in the trench.
Ch. Eat and drink, when their skulls are dry bone? But I am wasting my breath: you bring them down every day;—you can say whether they are likely ever to get up again, once they are safely underground! That would be too much of a good thing! You would have your work cut out for you and no mistake, if you had not only to bring them down, but also to take them up again when they wanted a drink. Oh, fools and blockheads! You little know how we arrange matters, or what a gulf is set betwixt the living and the dead!
The buried and unburied, both are Death's. He ranks alike the beggar and the king; Thersites sits by fair-haired Thetis' son. Naked and withered roam the fleeting shades Together through the fields of asphodel.
Her. Bless me, what a deluge of Homer! And now I think of it, I must show you Achilles's tomb. There it is on the Trojan shore, at Sigeum. And across the water is Rhoeteum, where Ajax lies buried.
Ch. Rather small tombs, considering. Now show me the great cities, those that we hear talked about in Hades; Nineveh, Babylon, Mycenae, Cleonae, and Troy itself. I shipped numbers across from there, I remember. For ten years running I had no time to haul my boat up and clean it.
Her. Why, as to Nineveh, it is gone, friend, long ago, and has left no trace behind it; there is no saying whereabouts it may have been. But there is Babylon, with its fine battlements and its enormous wall. Before long it will be as hard to find as Nineveh. As to Mycenae and Cleonae, I am ashamed to show them to you, let alone Troy. You will throttle Homer, for certain, when you get back, for puffing them so. They were prosperous cities, too, in their day; but they have gone the way of all flesh. Cities, my friend, die, just like men; stranger still, so do rivers! Inachus is gone from Argos—not a puddle left.
Ch. Oh, Homer, Homer! You and your 'holy Troy,' and your 'city of broad streets,' and your 'strong-walled Cleonae'!—By the way, what is that battle going on over there? What are they murdering one another about?
Her. It is between the Argives and the Lacedaemonians. The general who lies there half-dead, writing an inscription on the trophy with his own blood, is Othryades.
Ch. And what were they fighting for?
Her. For the field of battle, neither more nor less.
Ch. The fools! Not to know that though each one of them should win to himself a whole Peloponnesus, he will get but a bare foot of ground from Aeacus! As to yonder plain, one nation will till it after another, and many a time will that trophy be turned up by the plough.
Her. Even so. And now let us get down, and put these mountains to rights again. After which, I must be off on my errand, and you back to your ferry. You will see me there before long, with the day's contingent of shades.
Ch. I am much obliged to you, Hermes; the service shall be perpetuated in my records. Thanks to you, my outing has been a success. Dear, dear, what a world it is!—And never a word of Charon!
Methinks that man must lie sore stricken under the hand of sorrow, who has not a smile left for the folly of his superstitious brethren, when he sees them at work on sacrifice and festival and worship of the gods, hears the subject of their prayers, and marks the nature of their creed. Nor, I fancy, will a smile be all. He will first have a question to ask himself: Is he to call them devout worshippers or very outcasts, who think so meanly of God as to suppose that he can require anything at the hand of man, can take pleasure in their flattery, or be wounded by their neglect? Thus the afflictions of the Calydonians, that long tale of misery and violence, ending with the death of Meleager—all is attributed to the resentment of Artemis, at Oeneus's neglect in not inviting her to a feast. She must have taken the disappointment very much to heart. I fancy I see her, poor Goddess, left all alone in Heaven, after the rest have set out for Calydon, brooding darkly over the fine spread at which she will not be present. Those Ethiopians, too; privileged, thrice-happy mortals! Zeus, one supposes, is not unmindful of the handsome manner in which they entertained him and all his family for twelve days running. With the Gods, clearly, nothing goes for nothing. Each blessing has its price. Health is to be had, say, for a calf; wealth, for a couple of yoke of oxen; a kingdom, for a hecatomb. A safe conduct from Troy to Pylos has fetched as much as nine bulls, and a passage from Aulis to Troy has been quoted at a princess. For six yoke of oxen and a robe, Athene sold Hecuba a reprieve for Troy; and it is to be presumed that a cock, a garland, a handful of frankincense, will each buy something.
Chryses, that experienced divine and eminent theologian, seems to have realized this principle. Returning from his fruitless visit to Agamemnon, he approaches Apollo with the air of a creditor, and demands repayment of his loan. His attitude is one of remonstrance, almost, 'Good Apollo,' he cries, 'here have I been garlanding your temple, where never garland hung before, and burning unlimited thigh- pieces of bulls and goats upon your altars: yet when I suffer wrong, you take no heed; you count my benefactions as nothing worth.' The God is quite put out of countenance: he seizes his bow, settles down in the harbour and smites the Achaeans with shafts of pestilence, them and their mules and their dogs.
And now that I have mentioned Apollo, I cannot refrain from an allusion to certain other passages in his life, which are recorded by the sages. With his unfortunate love affairs—the sad end of Hyacinth, and the cruelty of Daphne—we are not concerned. But when that vote of censure was passed on him for the slaughter of the Cyclopes, he was dismissed from Heaven, and condemned to share the fortunes of men upon earth. It was then that he served Admetus in Thessaly, and Laomedon in Phrygia; and in the latter service he was not alone. He and Posidon together, since better might not be, made bricks and built the walls of Troy; and did not even get their full wages;—the Phrygian, it is said, remained their debtor for no less a sum than five-and-twenty shillings Trojan, and odd pence. These, and yet holier mysteries than these, are the high themes of our poets. They tell of Hephaestus and of Prometheus; of Cronus and Rhea, and well-nigh all the family of Zeus. And as they never commence their poems without bespeaking the assistance of the Muses, we must conclude that it is under that divine inspiration that they sing, how Cronus unmanned his father Uranus, and was king in his room; and how, like Argive Thyestes, he swallowed his own children; and how thereafter Rhea saved Zeus by the fraud of the stone, and the child was exposed in Crete, and suckled by a goat, as Telephus was by a hind, and Cyrus the Great by a bitch; and how he dethroned his father, and threw him into prison, and was king; and of his many wives, and how finally (like a Persian or an Assyrian) he married his own sister Hera; and of his love adventures, and how he peopled the Heaven with gods, ay, and with demi-gods, the rogued for he wooed the daughters of earth, appearing to them now in a shower of gold, now in the form of a bull or a swan or an eagle; a very Proteus for versatility. Once, and only once, he conceived within his own brain, and gave birth to Athene. For Dionysus, they say, he tore from the womb of Semele before the fire had yet consumed her, and hid the child within his thigh, till the time of travail was come.
Similarly, we find Hera conceiving without external assistance, and giving birth to Hephaestus; no child of fortune he, but a base mechanic, living all his life at the forge, soot-begrimed as any stoker. He is not even sound of limb; he has been lame ever since Zeus threw him down from Heaven. Fortunately for us the Lemnians broke his fall, or there would have been an end of him, as surely as there was of Astyanax when he was flung from the battlements. But Hephaestus is nothing to Prometheus. Who knows not the sorrows of that officious philanthropist? How he too fell a victim to the wrath of Zeus, and was carried into Scythia, and nailed up on Caucasus, with an eagle to keep him company and make daily havoc of his liver? However, there was a reckoning settled, at any rate. But Rhea, now! We cannot, I think, pass over her conduct unnoticed. It is surely most discreditable;—a lady of her venerable years, the mother of such a family, still feeling the pangs of love and jealousy, and carrying her beloved Attis about with her in the lion-drawn car,—and he so ill qualified to play the lover's part! After that, we can but wink, if we find Aphrodite making a slip, or Selene time after time pulling up in mid-career to pay a visit to Endymion.
But enough of scandal. Borne on the wings of poesy, let us take flight for Heaven itself, as Homer and Hesiod have done before us, and see how all is disposed up there. The vault is of brass on the under side, as we know from Homer. But climb over the edge, and take a peep up. You are now actually in Heaven. Observe the increase of light; here is a purer Sun, and brighter stars; daylight is everywhere, and the floor is of gold. We arrive first at the abode of the Seasons; they are the fortresses of Heaven. Then we have Iris and Hermes, the servants and messengers of Zeus; and next Hephaestus's smithy, which is stocked with all manner of cunning contrivances. Last come the dwellings of the Gods, and the palace of Zeus. All are the work of Hephaestus; and noble work it is.
Hard by the throne of Zeus
(I suppose we must adapt our language to our altitude)
sit all the gods.
Their eyes are turned downwards; intently they search every corner of the earth; is there nowhere a fire to be seen, or the steam of burnt- offerings
... in eddying clouds upborne?
If a sacrifice is going forward, all mouths are open to feast upon the smoke; like flies they settle on the altar to drink up the trickling streams of blood. If they are dining at home, nectar and ambrosia is the bill of fare. In ancient days, mortals have eaten and drunk at their table. Such were Ixion and Tantalus; but they forgot their manners, and talked too much. They are paying the penalty for it to this day; and since then mortals have been excluded from Heaven.
The life of the Gods being such as I have described, our religious ordinances are in admirable harmony with the divine requirements. Our first care has been to supply each God with his sacred grove, his holy hill, and his own peculiar bird or plant. The next step was to assign them their various sacred cities. Apollo has the freedom of Delphi and Delos, Athene that of Athens (there is no disputing her nationality); Hera is an Argive, Rhea a Mygdonian, Aphrodite a Paphian. As for Zeus, he is a Cretan born and bred—and buried, as any native of that island will show you. It was a mistake of ours to suppose that Zeus was dispensing the thunder and the rain and the rest of it;—he has been lying snugly underground in Crete all this time. As it would never have done to leave the Gods without a hearth and home, temples were now erected, and the services of Phidias, Polyclitus, and Praxiteles were called in to create images in their likeness. Chance glimpses of their originals (but where obtained I know not) enabled these artists to do justice to the beard of Zeus, the perpetual youth of Apollo, the down on Hermes's cheek, Posidon's sea-green hair, and Athene's flashing eyes; with the result that on entering the temple of Zeus men believe that they see before them, not Indian ivory, nor gold from a Thracian mine, but the veritable son of Cronus and Rhea, translated to earth by the hand of Phidias, with instructions to keep watch over the deserted plains of Pisa, and content with his lot, if, once in four years, a spectator of the games can snatch a moment to pay him sacrifice.
And now the altars stand ready; proclamation has been made, and lustration duly performed. The victims are accordingly brought forward—an ox from the plough, a ram or a goat, according as the worshipper is a farmer, a shepherd, or a goatherd; sometimes it is only frankincense or a honey cake; nay, a poor man may conciliate the God by merely kissing his hand. But it is with the priests that we are concerned. They first make sure that the victim is without blemish, and worthy of the sacrificial knife; then they crown him with garlands and lead him to the altar, where he is slaughtered before the God's eyes, to the broken accompaniment of his own sanctimonious bellowings, most musical, most melancholy. The delight of the Gods at such a spectacle, who can doubt?
According to the proclamation, no man shall approach the holy ground with unclean hands. Yet there stands the priest himself, wallowing in gore; handling his knife like a very Cyclops, drawing out entrails and heart, sprinkling the altar with blood,—in short, omitting no detail of his holy office. Finally, he kindles fire, and sets the victim bodily thereon, sheep or goat, unfleeced, unflayed. A godly steam, and fit for godly nostrils, rises heavenwards, and drifts to each quarter of the sky. The Scythian, by the way, will have nothing to do with paltry cattle: he offers men to Artemis; and the offering is appreciated.
But all this, and all that Assyria, Phrygia, and Lydia can show, amounts to nothing much. If you would see the Gods in their glory, fit denizens of Heaven, you must go to Egypt. There you will find that Zeus has sprouted ram's horns, our old friend Hermes has the muzzle of a dog, and Pan is perfect goat; ibis, crocodile, ape,—each is a God in disguise.
And wouldst thou know the truth that lurks herein?
If so, you will find no lack of sages and scribes and shaven priests to inform you (after expulsion of the profanum vulgus) how, when the Giants and their other enemies rose against them, the Gods fled to Egypt to hide themselves, and there took the form of goat and ram, of bird and reptile, which forms they preserve to this day. Of all this they have documentary evidence, dating from thousands of years back, stored up in their temples. Their sacrifices differ from others only in this respect, that they go into mourning for the victim, slaying him first, and beating their breasts for grief afterwards, and (in some parts) burying him as soon as he is killed. When their great god Apis dies, off comes every man's hair, however much he values himself on it; though he had the purple lock of Nisus, it would make no difference: he must show a sad crown on the occasion, if he die for it. It is as the result of an election that each succeeding Apis leaves his pasture for the temple; his superior beauty and majestic bearing prove that he is something more than bull.
On such absurdities as these, such vulgar credulity, remonstrance would be thrown away; a Heraclitus would best meet the case, or a Democritus; for the ignorance of these men is as laughable as their folly is deplorable.
SALE OF CREEDS
[Footnote: The distinction between the personified creeds or philosophies here offered for sale, and their various founders or principal exponents, is but loosely kept up. Not only do most of the creeds bear the names of their founders, but some are even credited with their physical peculiarities and their personal experiences.]
Zeus. Hermes. Several Dealers. Creeds.
Zeus. Now get those benches straight there, and make the place fit to be seen. Bring up the lots, one of you, and put them in line. Give them a rub up first, though; we must have them looking their best, to attract bidders. Hermes, you can declare the sale-room open, and a welcome to all comers.—For Sale! A varied assortment of Live Creeds. Tenets of every description.—Cash on delivery; or credit allowed on suitable security.
Hermes. Here they come, swarming in. No time to lose; we must not keep them waiting.
Zeus. Well, let us begin.
Her. What are we to put up first?
Zeus. The Ionic fellow, with the long hair. He seems a showy piece of goods.
Her. Step up, Pythagoreanism, and show yourself.
Zeus. Go ahead.
Her. Now here is a creed of the first water. Who bids for this handsome article? What gentleman says Superhumanity? Harmony of the Universe! Transmigration of souls! Who bids?
First Dealer. He looks all right. And what can he do?
Her. Magic, music, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, jugglery. Prophecy in all its branches.
First D. Can I ask him some questions?
Her. Ask away, and welcome.
First D. Where do you come from?
First D. Where did you get your schooling?
Py. From the sophists in Egypt.
First D. If I buy you, what will you teach me?
Py. Nothing. I will remind you.
First D. Remind me?
Py. But first I shall have to cleanse your soul of its filth.
First D. Well, suppose the cleansing process complete. How is the reminding done?
Py. We shall begin with a long course of silent contemplation. Not a word to be spoken for five years.
First D. You would have been just the creed for Croesus's son! But I have a tongue in my head; I have no ambition to be a statue. And after the five years' silence?
Py. You will study music and geometry.
First D. A charming recipe! The way to be wise: learn the guitar.
Py. Next you will learn to count.
First D. I can do that already.
Py. Let me hear you.
First D. One, two, three, four,—
Py. There you are, you see. Four (as you call it) is ten. Four the perfect triangle. Four the oath of our school.
First D. Now by Four, most potent Four!—higher and holier mysteries than these I never heard.
Py. Then you will learn of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water; their action, their movement, their shapes.
First D. Have Fire and Air and Water shapes?
Py. Clearly. That cannot move which lacks shape and form You will also find that God is a number; an intelligence; a harmony.
First D. You surprise me.
Py. More than this, you have to learn that you yourself are not the person you appear to be.
First D. What, I am some one else, not the I who am speaking to you?
Py. You are that you now: but you have formerly inhabited another body, and borne another name. And in course of time you will change once more.
First D. Why then I shall be immortal, and take one shape after another? But enough of this. And now what is your diet?
Py. Of living things I eat none. All else I eat, except beans.
First D. And why no beans? Do you dislike them?
Py. No. But they are sacred things. Their nature is a mystery. Consider them first in their generative aspect; take a green one and peel it, and you will see what I mean. Again, boil one and expose it to moonlight for a proper number of nights, and you have—blood. What is more, the Athenians use beans to vote with.
First D. Admirable! A very feast of reason. Now just strip, and let me see what you are like. Bless me, here is a creed with a golden thigh! He is no mortal, he is a God. I must have him at any price. What do you start him at?
Her. Forty pounds.
First D. He is mine for forty pounds.
Zeus. Take the gentleman's name and address.
Her. He must come from Italy, I should think; Croton or Tarentum, or one of the Greek towns in those parts. But he is not the only buyer. Some three hundred of them have clubbed together.
Zeus. They are welcome to him. Now up with the next.
Her. What about yonder grubby Pontian? [Footnote: See Diogenes in Notes.]
Zeus. Yes, he will do.
Her. You there with the wallet and cloak; come along, walk round the room. Lot No. 2. A most sturdy and valiant creed, free-born. What offers?
Second D. Hullo, Mr. Auctioneer, are you going to sell a free man?
Her. That was the idea.
Second D. Take care, he may have you up for kidnapping. This might be matter for the Areopagus.
Her. Oh, he would as soon be sold as not. He feels just as free as ever.
Second D. But what is one to do with such a dirty fellow? He is a pitiable sight. One might put him to dig perhaps, or to carry water.
Her. That he can do and more. Set him to guard your house, and you will find him better than any watch-dog.—They call him Dog for short.
Second D. Where does he come from? and what is his method?
Her. He can best tell you that himself.
Second D. I don't like his looks. He will probably snarl if I go near him, or take a snap at me, for all I know. See how he lifts his stick, and scowls; an awkward-looking customer!
Her. Don't be afraid. He is quite tame.
Second D. Tell me, good fellow, where do you come from?
Dio. Everywhere. Second D. What does that mean?
Dio. It means that I am a citizen of the world.
Second D. And your model?
Second D. Then why no lion's-skin? You have the orthodox club.
Dio. My cloak is my lion's-skin. Like Heracles, I live in a state of warfare, and my enemy is Pleasure; but unlike him I am a volunteer. My purpose is to purify humanity.
Second D. A noble purpose. Now what do I understand to be your strong subject? What is your profession?
Dio. The liberation of humanity, and the treatment of the passions. In short, I am the prophet of Truth and Candour.
Second D. Well, prophet; and if I buy you, how shall you handle my case?
Dio. I shall commence operations by stripping off yours superfluities, putting you into fustian, and leaving you closeted with Necessity. Then I shall give you a course of hard labour. You will sleep on the ground, drink water, and fill your belly as best you can. Have you money? Take my advice and throw it into the sea. With wife and children and country you will not concern yourself; there will be no more of that nonsense. You will exchange your present home for a sepulchre, a ruin, or a tub. What with lupines and close-written tomes, your knapsack will never be empty; and you will vote yourself happier than any king. Nor will you esteem it any inconvenience, if a flogging or a turn of the rack should fall to your lot.
Second D. How! Am I a tortoise, a lobster, that I should be flogged and feel it not?
Dio. You will take your cue from Hippolytus; mutates mutandis.
Second D. How so?
Dio. 'The heart may burn, the tongue knows nought thereof'. [Footnote: Hippolytus (in Euripides's play of that name) is reproached with having broken an oath, and thus defends himself: 'The tongue hath sworn: the heart knew nought thereof.'] Above all, be bold, be impudent; distribute your abuse impartially to king and commoner. They will admire your spirit. You will talk the Cynic jargon with the true Cynic snarl, scowling as you walk, and walking as one should who scowls; an epitome of brutality. Away with modesty, good-nature, and forbearance. Wipe the blush from your cheek for ever. Your hunting-ground will be the crowded city. You will live alone in its midst, holding communion with none, admitting neither friend nor guest; for such would undermine your power. Scruple not to perform the deeds of darkness in broad daylight: select your love-adventures with a view to the public entertainment: and finally, when the fancy takes you, swallow a raw cuttle-fish, and die. Such are the delights of Cynicism.
Second D. Oh, vile creed! Monstrous creed! Avaunt!
Dio. But look you, it is all so easy; it is within every man's reach. No education is necessary, no nonsensical argumentation. I offer you a short cut to Glory. You may be the merest clown—cobbler, fishmonger, carpenter, money-changer; yet there is nothing to prevent your becoming famous. Given brass and boldness, you have only to learn to wag your tongue with dexterity.
Second D. All this is of no use to me. But I might make a sailor or a gardener of you at a pinch; that is, if you are to be had cheap. Three-pence is the most I can give.
Her. He is yours, to have and to hold. And good riddance to the brawling foul-mouthed bully. He is a slanderer by wholesale.
Zeus. Now for the Cyrenaic, the crowned and purple-robed.
Her. Attend please, gentlemen all. A most valuable article, this, and calls for a long purse. Look at him. A sweet thing in creeds. A creed for a king. Has any gentleman a use for the Lap of Luxury? Who bids?
Third D. Come and tell me what you know. If you are a practical creed, I will have you.
Her. Please not to worry him with questions, sir. He is drunk, and cannot answer; his tongue plays him tricks, as you see.
Third D. And who in his senses would buy such an abandoned reprobate? How he smells of scent! And how he slips and staggers about! Well, you must speak for him, Hermes. What can he do? What is his line?
Her. Well, for any gentleman who is not strait-laced, who loves a pretty girl, a bottle, and a jolly companion, he is the very thing. He is also a past master in gastronomy, and a connoisseur in voluptuousness generally. He was educated at Athens, and has served royalty in Sicily [Footnote: See Aristippus in Notes.], where he had a very good character. Here are his principles in a nutshell: Think the worst of things: make the most of things: get all possible pleasure out of things.
Third D. You must look for wealthier purchasers. My purse is not equal to such a festive creed.
Her. Zeus, this lot seems likely to remain on our hands.
Zeus. Put it aside, and up with another. Stay, take the pair from Abdera and Ephesus; the creeds of Smiles and Tears. They shall make one lot.
Her. Come forward, you two. Lot No. 4. A superlative pair. The smartest brace of creeds on our catalogue.
Fourth D. Zeus! What a difference is here! One of them does nothing but laugh, and the other might be at a funeral; he is all tears.—You there! what is the joke?
Democr. You ask? You and your affairs are all one vast joke.
Fourth D. So! You laugh at us? Our business is a toy?
Democr. It is. There is no taking it seriously. All is vanity. Mere interchange of atoms in an infinite void.
Fourth D. Your vanity is infinite, if you like. Stop that laughing, you rascal.—And you, my poor fellow, what are you crying for? I must see what I can make of you.
Heracl. I am thinking, friend, upon human affairs; and well may I weep and lament, for the doom of all is sealed. Hence my compassion and my sorrow. For the present, I think not of it; but the future!— the future is all bitterness. Conflagration and destruction of the world. I weep to think that nothing abides. All things are whirled together in confusion. Pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, great and small; up and down they go, the playthings of Time.
Fourth D. And what is Time?
Heracl. A child; and plays at draughts and blindman's-bluff.
Fourth D. And men?
Heracl. Are mortal Gods.
Fourth D. And Gods?
Heracl. Immortal men.
Fourth D. So! Conundrums, fellow? Nuts to crack? You are a very oracle for obscurity.
Heracl. Your affairs do not interest me.
Fourth D. No one will be fool enough to bid for you at that rate.
Heracl. Young and old, him that bids and him that bids not, a murrain seize you all!
Fourth D. A sad case. He will be melancholy mad before long. Neither of these is the creed for my money.
Her. No one bids.
Zeus. Next lot.
Her. The Athenian there? Old Chatterbox?
Zeus. By all means.
Her. Come forward!—A good sensible creed this. Who buys Holiness?
Fifth D. Let me see. What are you good for?
Soc. I teach the art of love.
Fifth D. A likely bargain for me! I want a tutor for my young Adonis.
Soc. And could he have a better? The love I teach is of, the spirit, not of the flesh. Under my roof, be sure, a boy will come to no harm.
Fifth D. Very unconvincing that. A teacher of the art of love, and never meddle with anything but the spirit? Never use the opportunities your office gives you?
Soc. Now by Dog and Plane-tree, it is as I say!
Fifth D. Heracles! What strange Gods are these?
Soc. Why, the Dog is a God, I suppose? Is not Anubis made much of in Egypt? Is there not a Dog-star in Heaven, and a Cerberus in the lower world?
Fifth D. Quite so. My mistake. Now what is your manner of life?
Soc. I live in a city of my own building; I make my own laws, and have a novel constitution of my own.
_Fifth D. I should like to hear some of your statutes.
Soc. You shall hear the greatest of them all. No woman shall be restricted to one husband. Every man who likes is her husband.
Fifth D. What! Then the laws of adultery are clean swept away?
Soc. I should think they were! and a world of hair-splitting with them.
Fifth D. And what do you do with the handsome boys?
Soc. Their kisses are the reward of merit, of noble and spirited actions.
Fifth D. Unparalleled generosity!—And now, what are the main features of your philosophy?
Soc. Ideas and types of things. All things that you see, the earth and all that is upon it, the sea, the sky,—each has its counterpart in the invisible world.
Fifth D. And where are they?
Soc. Nowhere. Were they anywhere, they were not what they are.
Fifth D. I see no signs of these 'types' of yours.
Soc. Of course not; because you are spiritually blind. I see the counterparts of all things; an invisible you, an invisible me; everything is in duplicate.
Fifth D. Come, such a shrewd and lynx-eyed creed is worth a bid. Let me see. What do you want for him?
Her. Five hundred.
Fifth D. Done with you. Only I must settle the bill another day.
Her. What name?
Fifth D. Dion; of Syracuse.
Her. Take him, and much good may he do you. Now I want Epicureanism. Who offers for Epicureanism? He is a disciple of the laughing creed and the drunken creed, whom we were offering just now. But he has one extra accomplishment—impiety. For the rest, a dainty, lickerish creed.
Sixth D. What price?
Her. Eight pounds.
Sixth D. Here you are. By the way, you might let me know what he likes to eat.
Her. Anything sweet. Anything with honey in it. Dried figs are his favourite dish.
Sixth D. That is all right. We will get in a supply of Carian fig-cakes.
Zeus. Call the next lot. Stoicism; the creed of the sorrowful countenance, the close-cropped creed.
Her. Ah yes, several customers, I fancy, are on the look-out for him. Virtue incarnate! The very quintessence of creeds! Who is for universal monopoly?
Seventh D. How are we to understand that?
Her. Why, here is monopoly of wisdom, monopoly of beauty, monopoly of courage, monopoly of justice. Sole king, sole orator, sole legislator, sole millionaire.
Seventh D. And I suppose sole cook, sole tanner, sole carpenter, and all that?
Seventh D. Regard me as your purchaser, good fellow, and tell me all about yourself. I dare say you think it rather hard to be sold for a slave?
Chrys. Not at all. These things are beyond our control. And what is beyond our control is indifferent.
Seventh D. I don't see how you make that out.
Chrys. What! Have you yet to learn that of indifferentia some are praeposita and others rejecta?
Seventh D. Still I don't quite see.
Chrys. No; how should you? You are not familiar with our terms. You lack the comprehensio visi. The earnest student of logic knows this and more than this. He understands the nature of subject, predicate, and contingent, and the distinctions between them.
Seventh D. Now in Wisdom's name, tell me, pray, what is a predicate? what is a contingent? There is a ring about those words that takes my fancy.
Chrys. With all my heart. A man lame in one foot knocks that foot accidentally against a stone, and gets a cut. Now the man is subject to lameness; which is the predicate. And the cut is a contingency.
Seventh D. Oh, subtle! What else can you tell me?
Chrys. I have verbal involutions, for the better hampering, crippling, and muzzling of my antagonists. This is performed by the use of the far-famed syllogism.
Seventh D. Syllogism! I warrant him a tough customer.
Chrys. Take a case. You have a child?
Seventh D. Well, and what if I have?
Chrys. A crocodile catches him as he wanders along the bank of a river, and promises to restore him to you, if you will first guess correctly whether he means to restore him or not. Which are you going to say?
Seventh D. A difficult question. I don't know which way I should get him back soonest. In Heaven's name, answer for me, and save the child before he is eaten up.
Chrys. Ha, ha. I will teach you far other things than that.
Seventh D. For instance?
Chrys. There is the 'Reaper.' There is the 'Rightful Owner.' Better still, there is the 'Electra' and the 'Man in the Hood.'
Seventh D. Who was he? and who was Electra?
Chrys. She was the Electra, the daughter of Agamemnon, to whom the same thing was known and unknown at the same time. She knew that Orestes was her brother: yet when he stood before her she did not know (until he revealed himself) that her brother was Orestes. As to the Man in the Hood, he will surprise you considerably. Answer me now: do you know your own father?
Seventh D. Yes.
Chrys. Well now, if I present to you a man in a hood, shall you know him? eh?
Seventh D. Of course not.
Chrys. Well, but the Man in the Hood is your father. You don't know the Man in the Hood. Therefore you don't know your own father.
Seventh D. Why, no. But if I take his hood off, I shall get at the facts. Now tell me, what is the end of your philosophy? What happens when you reach the goal of virtue?
Chrys. In regard to things external, health, wealth, and the like, I am then all that Nature intended me to be. But there is much previous toil to be undergone. You will first sharpen your eyes on minute manuscripts, amass commentaries, and get your bellyful of outlandish terms. Last but not least, it is forbidden to be wise without repeated doses of hellebore.
Seventh D. All this is exalted and magnanimous to a degree. But what am I to think when I find that you are also the creed of cent-per-cent, the creed of the usurer? Has he swallowed his hellebore? is he made perfect in virtue?
Chrys. Assuredly. On none but the wise man does usury sit well. Consider. His is the art of putting two and two together, and usury is the art of putting interest together. The two are evidently connected, and one as much as the other is the prerogative of the true believer; who, not content, like common men, with simple interest, will also take interest upon interest. For interest, as you are probably aware, is of two kinds. There is simple interest, and there is its offspring, compound interest. Hear Syllogism on the subject. 'If I take simple interest, I shall also take compound. But I shall take simple interest: therefore I shall take compound.'
Seventh D. And the same applies to the fees you take from your youthful pupils? None but the true believer sells virtue for a fee?
Chrys. Quite right. I take the fee in my pupil's interest, not because I want it. The world is made up of diffusion and accumulation. I accordingly practise my pupil in the former, and myself in the latter.
Seventh D. But it ought to be the other way. The pupil ought to accumulate, and you, 'sole millionaire,' ought to diffuse.
Chrys. Ha! you jest with me? Beware of the shaft of insoluble syllogism.
Seventh D. What harm can that do?
Chrys. It cripples; it ties the tongue, and turns the brain. Nay, I have but to will it, and you are stone this instant.
Seventh D. Stone! You are no Perseus, friend?
Chrys. See here. A stone is a body?
Seventh D. Yes.
Chrys. Well, and an animal is a body?
Seventh D. Yes.
Chrys. And you are an animal?
Seventh D. I suppose I am.
Chrys. Therefore you are a body. Therefore a stone.
Seventh D. Mercy, in Heaven's name! Unstone me, and let me be flesh as heretofore.
Chrys. That is soon done. Back with you into flesh! Thus: Is every body animate?
Seventh D. No.
Chrys. Is a stone animate?
Seventh D. No.
Chrys. Now, you are a body?
Seventh D. Yes.
Chrys. And an animate body?
Seventh D. Yes.
Chrys. Then being animate, you cannot be a stone.
Seventh D. Ah! thank you, thank you. I was beginning to feel my limbs growing numb and solidifying like Niobe's. Oh, I must have you. What's to pay?
Her. Fifty pounds.
Seventh D. Here it is.
Her. Are you sole purchaser?
Seventh D. Not I. All these gentlemen here are going shares.
Her. A fine strapping lot of fellows, and will do the 'Reaper' credit.
Zeus. Don't waste time. Next lot,—the Peripatetic!
Her. Now, my beauty, now, Affluence! Gentlemen, if you want Wisdom for your money, here is a creed that comprises all knowledge.
Eighth D. What is he like?
Her. He is temperate, good-natured, easy to get on with; and his strong point is, that he is twins.
Eighth D. How can that be?
Her. Why, he is one creed outside, and another inside. So remember, if you buy him, one of him is called Esoteric, and the other Exoteric.
Eighth D. And what has he to say for himself?
Her. He has to say that there are three kinds of good: spiritual, corporeal, circumstantial.
Eighth D. There's something a man can understand. How much is he?
Her. Eighty pounds.
Eighth D. Eighty pounds is a long price.
Her. Not at all, my dear sir, not at all. You see, there is some money with him, to all appearance. Snap him up before it is too late. Why, from him you will find out in no time how long a gnat lives, to how many fathoms' depth the sunlight penetrates the sea, and what an oyster's soul is like.
Eighth D. Heracles! Nothing escapes him.
Her. Ah, these are trifles. You should hear some of his more abstruse speculations, concerning generation and birth and the development of the embryo; and his distinction between man, the laughing creature, and the ass, which is neither a laughing nor a carpentering nor a shipping creature.
Eighth D. Such knowledge is as useful as it is ornamental. Eighty pounds be it, then.
Her. He is yours.
Zeus. What have we left?
Her. There is Scepticism. Come along, Pyrrhias, and be put up. Quick's the word. The attendance is dwindling; there will be small competition. Well, who buys Lot 9?
Ninth D. I. Tell me first, though, what do you know?
Ninth D. But how's that?
Sc. There does not appear to me to be anything.
Ninth D. Are not we something?
Sc. How do I know that?
Ninth D. And you yourself?
Sc. Of that I am still more doubtful.
Ninth D. Well, you are in a fix! And what have you got those scales for?
Sc. I use them to weigh arguments in, and get them evenly balanced, They must be absolutely equal—not a feather-weight to choose between them; then, and not till then, can I make uncertain which is right. Ninth D. What else can you turn your hand to?
Sc. Anything; except catching a runaway.
Ninth D. And why not that?
Sc. Because, friend, everything eludes my grasp.
Ninth D. I believe you. A slow, lumpish fellow you seem to be. And what is the end of your knowledge?
Sc. Ignorance. Deafness. Blindness.
Ninth D. What! sight and hearing both gone?
Sc. And with them judgement and perception, and all, in short, that distinguishes man from a worm.
Ninth D. You are worth money!—What shall we say for him?
Her. Four pounds.
Ninth D. Here it is. Well, fellow; so you are mine?
Sc. I doubt it.
Ninth D. Nay, doubt it not! You are bought and paid for.
Sc. It is a difficult case.... I reserve my decision.
Ninth D. Now, come along with me, like a good slave.
Sc. But how am I to know whether what you say is true?
Ninth D. Ask the auctioneer. Ask my money. Ask the spectators.
Sc. Spectators? But can we be sure there are any?
Ninth D. Oh, I'll send you to the treadmill. That will convince you with a vengeance that I am your master.
Sc. Reserve your decision.
Ninth D. Too late. It is given.
Her. Stop that wrangling and go with your purchaser. Gentlemen, we hope to see you here again to-morrow, when we shall be offering some lots suitable for plain men, artisans, and shopkeepers.
A RESURRECTION PIECE
Lucian or Parrhesiades. Socrates, Empedocles. Plato. Chrysippus. Diogenes. Aristotle. Other Philosophers. Platonists. Pythagoreans. Stoics. Peripatetics. Epicureans. Academics. Philosophy. Truth. Temperance. Virtue. Syllogism. Exposure. Priestess of Athene.
Soc. Stone the miscreant; stone him with many stones; clod him with clods; pot him with pots; let the culprit feel your sticks; leave him no way out. At him, Plato! come, Chrysippus, let him have it! Shoulder to shoulder, close the ranks;
Let wallet succour wallet, staff aid staff!
We are all parties in this war; not one of us but he has assailed. You, Diogenes, now if ever is the time for that stick of yours; stand firm, all of you. Let him reap the fruits of his reveling. What, Epicurus, Aristippus, tired already? 'tis too soon; ye sages,
Be men; relume that erstwhile furious wrath!
Aristotle, one more sprint. There! the brute is caught; we have you, villain. You shall soon know a little more about the characters you have assailed. Now, what shall we do with him? it must be rather an elaborate execution, to meet all our claims upon him; he owes a separate death to every one of us.
First Phil. Impale him, say I.
Second Phil. Yes, but scourge him first.
Third Phil. Tear out his eyes.
Fourth Phil. Ah, but first out with the offending tongue.
Soc. What say you, Empedocles?
Emp. Oh, fling him into a crater; that will teach him to vilify his betters.
Pl. 'Twere best for him, Orpheus or Pentheus like, to
Find death, dashed all to pieces on the rock;
so each might have taken a piece home with him.
Lu. Forbear; spare me; I appeal to the God of suppliants.
Soc. Too late; no loophole is left you now. And you know your Homer:
'Twixt men and lions, covenants are null.'
Lu. Why, it is in Homer's name that I ask my boon. You will perhaps pay reverence to his lines, and listen to a selection from him:
Slay not; no churl is he; a ransom take Of bronze and gold, whereof wise hearts are fain.
Pl. Why, two can play at that game; exempli gratia,
Reviler, babble not of gold, nor nurse Hope of escape from these our hands that hold thee.
Lu. Ah me, ah me! my best hopes dashed, with Homer! Let me fly to Euripides; it may be he will protect me:
Leave him his life; the suppliant's life is sacred.
Pl. Does this happen to be Euripides too—
Evil men evil treated is no evil?
Lu. And will you slay me now for nought but words?
Pl. Most certainly; our author has something on that point too:
Unbridled lips And folly's slips Invite Fate's whips.
Lu. Oh, very well; as you are all set on murdering me, and escape is impossible, do at least tell me who you are, and what harm I have done you; it must be something irreparable, to judge by your relentless murderous pursuit.
Pl. What harm you have done us, vile fellow? your own conscience and your fine dialogues will tell you; you have called Philosophy herself bad names, and as for us, you have subjected us to the indignity of a public auction, and put up wise men—ay, and free men, which is more— for sale. We have reason to be angry; we have got a short leave of absence from Hades, and come up against you—Chrysippus here, Epicurus and myself, Aristotle yonder, the taciturn Pythagoras, Diogenes and all of us that your dialogues have made so free with.
Lu. Ah, I breathe again. Once hear the truth about my conduct to you, and you will never put me to death. You can throw away those stones. Or, no, keep them; you shall have a better mark for them presently.
Pl. This is trifling. This day thou diest; nay, even now,
A suit of stones shalt don, thy livery due.
Lu. Believe me, good gentlemen, I have been at much pains on your behalf to slay me is to slay one who should rather be selected for commendation a kindred spirit, a well-wisher, a man after your own heart, a promoter, if I may be bold to say it, of your pursuits. See to it that you catch not the tone of our latter-day philosophers, and be thankless, petulant, and hard of heart, to him that deserves better of you.
Pl. Talk of a brazen front! So to abuse us is to oblige us. I believe you are under the delusion that you are really talking to slaves; after the insolent excesses of your tongue, do you propose to chop gratitude with us?
Lu. How or when was I ever insolent to you? I have always been an admirer of philosophy, your panegyrist, and a student of the writings you left. All that comes from my pen is but what you give me; I deflower you, like a bee, for the behoof of mankind; and then there is praise and recognition; they know the flowers, whence and whose the honey was, and the manner of my gathering; their surface feeling is for my selective art, but deeper down it is for you and your meadow, where you put forth such bright blooms and myriad dyes, if one knows but how to sort and mix and match, that one be not in discord with another. Could he that had found you such have the heart to abuse those benefactors to whom his little fame was due? then he must be a Thamyris or Eurytus, defying the Muses who gave his gift of song, or challenging Apollo with the bow, forgetful from whom he had his marksmanship.
Pl. All this, good sir, is quite according to the principles of rhetoric; that is to say, it is clean contrary to the facts; your unscrupulousness is only emphasized by this adding of insult to injury; you confess that your arrows are from our quiver, and you use them against us; your one aim is to abuse us. This is our reward for showing you that meadow, letting you pluck freely, fill your bosom, and depart. For this alone you richly deserve death.
Lu. There; your ears are partial; they are deaf to the right. Why, I would never have believed that personal feeling could affect a Plato, a Chrysippus, an Aristotle; with you, of all men, I thought there was dry light. But, dear sirs, do not condemn me unheard; give me trial first. Was not the principle of your establishing—that the law of the stronger was not the law of the State, and that differences should be settled in court after due hearing of both sides? Appoint a judge, then; be you my accusers, by your own mouths or by your chosen representative; and let me defend my own case; then if I be convicted of wrong, and that be the court's decision, I shall get my deserts, and you will have no violence upon your consciences. But if examination shows me spotless and irreproachable, the court will acquit me, and then turn you your wrath upon the deceivers who have excited you against me.
Pl. Ah, every cock to his own dunghill! You think you will hoodwink the jury and get off. I hear you are a lawyer, an advocate, an old hand at a speech. Have you any judge to suggest who will be proof against such an experienced corrupter as you?
Lu. Oh, be reassured. The official I think of proposing is no suspicious, dubious character likely to sell a verdict. What say you to forming the court yourselves, with Philosophy for your President?
Pl. Who is to prosecute, if we are the jury?
Lu. Oh, you can do both; I am not in the least afraid; so much stronger is my case; the defence wins, hands down.
Pl. Pythagoras, Socrates, what do you think? perhaps the I man's appeal to law is not unreasonable.
Soc. No; come along, form the court, fetch Philosophy, and see what he has to say for himself. To condemn unheard is a sadly crude proceeding, not for us; leave that to the hasty people with whom might is right. We shall give occasion to the enemy to blaspheme if we stone a man without a hearing, professed lovers of justice as we are. We shall have to keep quiet about Anytus and Meletus, my accusers, and the jury on that occasion, if we cannot spare an hour to hear this fellow before he suffers. Pl. Very true, Socrates. We will go and fetch Philosophy. The decision shall be hers, and we will accept it, whatever it is.
Lu. Why, now, my masters, you are in a better and more law-abiding mood. However, keep those stones, as I said; you will need them in court. But where is Philosophy to be found? I do not know where she lives, myself. I once spent a long time wandering about in search of her house, wishing to make her acquaintance. Several times I met some long-bearded people in threadbare cloaks who professed to be fresh from her presence; I took their word for it, and asked them the way; but they knew considerably less about it than I, and either declined to answer, by way of concealing their ignorance, or else pointed to one door after another. I have never been able to find the right one to this day.
Many a time, upon some inward prompting or external offer of guidance, I have come to a door with the confident hope that this time I really was right; there was such a crowd flowing in and out, all of solemn persons decently habited and thoughtful-faced; I would insinuate myself into the press and go in too. What I found would be a woman who was not really natural, however skillfully she played at beauty unadorned; I could see at once that the apparent neglige of her hair was studied for effect, and the folds of her dress not so careless as they looked. One could tell that nature was a scheme of decoration with her, and artlessness an artistic device. The white lead and the rouge did not absolutely defy detection, and her talk betrayed her real vocation; she liked her lovers to appreciate her beauty, had a ready hand for presents, made room by her side for the rich, and hardly vouchsafed her poorer lovers a distant glance. Now and then, when her dress came a little open by accident, I saw that she had on a massive gold necklace heavier than a penal collar. That was enough for me; I would retrace my steps, sincerely pitying the unfortunates whom she led by the—beard, and their Ixion embracings of a phantom.
Pl. You are right there; the door is not conspicuous, nor generally known. However, we need not go to her house; we will wait for her here in the Ceramicus. I should think it is near her hour for coming back from the Academy, and taking her walk in the Poecile; she is very regular; to be sure, here she comes. Do you see the orderly, rather prim lady there, with the kindly look in her eyes, and the slow meditative walk?
Lu. I see several answering the description so far as looks and walk and clothes go. Yet among them all the real lady Philosophy can be but one.
Pl. True; but as soon as she opens her lips you will know.
Philos. Dear me, what are Plato and Chrysippus and Aristotle doing up here, and the rest of them—a living dictionary of my teachings? Alive again? how is this? have things been going wrong down there? you look angry. And who is your prisoner? a rifler of tombs? A murderer? a temple-robber?
Pl. Worse yet, Philosophy. He has dared to slander your most sacred self, and all of us who have been privileged to impart anything from you to posterity.
Philos. And did you lose your tempers over abusive words? Did you forget how Comedy handled me at the Dionysia, and how I yet counted her a friend? Did I ever sue her, or go and remonstrate? Or did I let her enjoy her holidays in the harmless old-fashioned way? I know very well that a jest spoils no real beauty, but rather improves it; so gold is polished by hard rubs, and shines all the brighter for it. But you seem to have grown passionate and censorious. Come, why are you strangling him like that?
Pl. We have got this one day's leave, and come after him to give him his deserts. Rumours had reached us of the things he used to say about us in his lectures.
Philos. And are you going to kill him without a trial or a hearing? I can see he wishes to say something.
Pl. No; we decided to refer it all to you. If you will accept the task, the decision shall be yours.
Philos. Sir, what is your wish?
Lu. The same, dear Mistress; for none but you can find the truth. It cost me much entreaty to get the case reserved for you.
Pl. You call her Mistress now, scoundrel; the other day you were making out Philosophy the meanest of things, when before that great audience you let her several doctrines go for a pitiful threepence apiece.
Philos. It may be that it was not Ourself he then reviled, but some impostors who practised vile arts in our name.
Pl. The truth will soon come to light, if you will hear his defence.
Philos. Come we to the Areopagus—or better, to the Acropolis, where the panorama of Athens will be before us.
Ladies, will you stroll in the Poecile meanwhile? I will join you when I have given judgement.
Lu. Who are these, Philosophy? methinks their appearance is seemly as your own.
Philos. This with the masculine features is Virtue; then there is Temperance, and Justice by her side. In front is Culture; and this shadowy creature with the indefinite complexion is Truth.
Lu. I do not see which you mean.
Philos. Not see her? over there, all naked and unadorned, shrinking from observation, and always slipping out of sight.
Lu. Now I just discern her. But why not bring them all with you? there would be a fullness and completeness about that commission. Ah yes, and I should like to brief Truth on my behalf.
Philos. Well thought of; come, all of you; you will not mind sitting through a single case—in which we have a personal interest, too?
Truth. Go on, the rest of you; it is superfluous for me to hear what I know all about before.
Philos. But, Truth dear, your presence will be useful to us; you will show us what to think.
Truth. May I bring my two favourite maids, then?
Philos. And as many more as you like.
Truth. Come with me, Freedom and Frankness; this poor little adorer of ours is in trouble without any real reason; we shall be able to get him out of it. Exposure, my man, we shall not want you.
Lu. Ah yes, Mistress, let us have him, of all others; my opponents are no ordinary ruffians; they are people who make a fine show and are hard to expose; they have always some back way out of a difficulty; we must have Exposure.
Philos. Yes, we must, indeed; and you had better bring Demonstration too.
Truth. Come all of you, as you are such important legal persons.
Ar. What is this? Philosophy, he is employing Truth against us!
Philos. And are Plato and Chrysippus and Aristotle afraid of her lying on his behalf, being who she is?
Pl. Oh, well, no; only he is a sad plausible rogue; he will take her in.
Philos. Never fear; no wrong will be done, with madam Justice on the bench by us. Let us go up.
Prisoner, your name?
Lu. Parrhesiades, son of Alethion, son of Elanxicles. [Footnote: i e Free-speaker, son of Truthful, son of Exposure.]
Philos. And your country?
Lu. I am a Syrian from the Euphrates, my lady. But is the question relevant? Some of my accusers I know to be as much barbarians by blood as myself; but character and culture do not vary as a man comes from Soli or Cyprus, Babylon or Stagira. However, even one who could not talk Greek would be none the worse in your eyes, so long as his sentiments were right and just.
Philos. True, the question was unnecessary.
But what is your profession? that at least is essential.
Lu. I profess hatred of pretension and imposture, lying, and pride; the whole loathsome tribe of them I hate; and you know how numerous they are.
Philos. Upon my word, you must have your hands full at this profession!
Lu. I have; you see what general dislike and danger it brings upon me. However, I do not neglect the complementary branch, in which love takes the place of hate; it includes love of truth and beauty and simplicity and all that is akin to love. But the subjects for this branch of the profession are sadly few; those of the other, for whom hatred is the right treatment, are reckoned by the thousand. Indeed there is some danger of the one feeling being atrophied, while the other is over-developed.
Philos. That should not be; they run in couples, you know. Do not separate your two branches; they should have unity in diversity.
Lu. You know better than I, Philosophy. My way is just to hate a villain, and love and praise the good.
Philos. Well, well. Here we are at the appointed place. We will hold the trial in the forecourt of Athene Polias. Priestess, arrange our seats, while we salute the Goddess.
Lu. Polias, come to my aid against these pretenders, mindful of the daily perjuries thou hearest from them. Their deeds too are revealed to thee alone, in virtue of thy charge. Thou hast now thine hour of vengeance. If thou see me in evil case, if blacks be more than whites, then cast thou thy vote and save me!
Philos. So. Now we are seated, ready to hear your words. Choose one of your number, the best accuser you may, make your charge, and bring your proofs. Were all to speak, there would be no end. And you, Parrhesiades, shall afterwards make your defence.
Ch. Plato, none of us will conduct the prosecution better than you. Your thoughts are heaven-high, your style the perfect Attic; grace and persuasion, insight and subtlety, the cogency of well-ordered proof— all these are gathered in you. Take the spokesman's office and say what is fitting on our behalf. Call to memory and roll in one all that ever you said against Gorgias, Polus, Hippias, Prodicus; you have now to do with a worse than them. Let him taste your irony; ply him with your keen incessant questions; and if you will, perorate with the mighty Zeus charioting his winged car through Heaven, and grudging if this fellow get not his deserts.
Pl. Nay, nay; choose one of more strenuous temper—Diogenes, Antisthenes, Crates, or yourself, Chrysippus. It is no time now for beauty or literary skill; controversial and forensic resource is what we want. This Parrhesiades is an orator.
Diog. Let me be accuser; no need for long speeches here. Moreover, I was the worst treated of all; threepence was my price the other day.
Pl. Philosophy, Diogenes will speak for us. But mind, friend, you are not to represent yourself alone, but think of us all. If we have any private differences of doctrine, do not go into that; never mind now which of us is right, but keep your indignation for Philosophy's wrongs and the names he has called her. Leave alone the principles we differ about, and maintain what is common to us all. Now mark, you stand for us all; on you our whole fame depends; shall it come out majestic, or in the semblance he has given it?
Diog. Never fear; nothing shall be omitted; I speak for all. Philosophy may be softened by his words—she was ever gentle and forgiving—she may be minded to acquit him; but the fault shall not be mine; I will show him that our staves are more than ornaments.
Philos. Nay, take not that way; words, not bludgeons; 'tis better so. But no delay now; your time-allowance has begun; and the court is all attention.
Lu. Philosophy, let the rest take their seats and vote with you, leaving Diogenes as sole accuser.
Philos. Have you no fears of their condemning you?
Lu. None whatever; I wish to increase my majority, that is all.
Philos. I commend your spirit. Gentlemen, take your seats. Now, Diogenes.
Diog. With our lives on earth, Philosophy, you are acquainted; I need not dwell long upon them. Of myself I say nothing; but Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Chrysippus, and the rest—who knows not the benefits that they conferred on mankind? I will come at once, then, to the insults to which we have been subjected by the thrice accursed Parrhesiades. He was, by his own account, an advocate; but he has left the courts and the fame there to be won, and has availed himself of all the verbal skill and proficiency so acquired for a campaign of abuse against us. We are impostors and deceivers; his audiences must ridicule and scorn us for nobodies. Did I say 'nobodies'? he has made us an abomination, rather, in the eyes of the vulgar, and yourself with us, Philosophy. Your teachings are balderdash and rubbish; the noblest of your precepts to us he parodies, winning for himself applause and approval, and for us humiliation. For so it is with the great public; it loves a master of flouts and jeers, and loves him in proportion to the grandeur of what he assails; you know how it delighted long ago in Aristophanes and Eupolis, when they caricatured our Socrates on the stage, and wove farcical comedies around him. But they at least confined themselves to a single victim, and they had the charter of Dionysus; a jest might pass at holiday time, and the laughing God might be well pleased.
But this fellow gets together an upper-class audience, gives long thought to his preparations, writes down his slanders in a thick notebook, and uplifts his voice in vituperation of Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Chrysippus, and in short all of us; he cannot plead holiday time, nor yet any private grievance; he might perhaps be forgiven if he had done it in self-defence; but it was he that opened hostilities. Worst of all, Philosophy, he shelters himself under your name, entices Dialogue from our company to be his ally and mouthpiece, and induces our good comrade Menippus to collaborate constantly with him; Menippus, more by token, is the one deserter and absentee on this occasion.
Does he not then abundantly deserve his fate? What conceivable defence is open to him, after his public defamation of all that is noblest? On the public which listened to him, too, the spectacle of his condign punishment will have a healthy effect; we shall see no more ridicule of Philosophy. Tame submission to insult would naturally enough be taken, not for moderation, but for insensibility and want of spirit. Who could be expected to put up with his last performance? He brought us to market like a gang of slaves, and handed us over to the auctioneer. Some, I believe, fetched high prices; but others went for four or five pounds, and as for me—confound his impudence, threepence! And fine fun the audience had out of it! We did well to be angry; we have come from Hades; and we ask you to give us satisfaction for this abominable outrage.
Resurgents. Hear, hear! well spoken, Diogenes; well and loyally.
Philos. Silence in court! Time the defence. Parrhesiades, it is now your turn; they are timing you; so proceed.
Par. Philosophy, Diogenes has been far indeed from exhausting his material; the greater part of it, and the more strongly expressed, he has passed by, for reasons best known to himself. I refer to statements of mine which I am as far from denying that I made as from having provided myself with any elaborate defence of them. Any of these that have been omitted by him, and not previously emphasized by myself, I propose now to quote; this will be the best way to show you who were the persons that I sold by auction and inveighed against as pretenders and impostors; please to concentrate your vigilance on the truth or falsehood of my descriptions. If what I say is injurious or severe, your censure will be more fairly directed at the perpetrators than at the discoverer of such iniquities. I had no sooner realized the odious practices which his profession imposes on an advocate—the deceit, falsehood, bluster, clamour, pushing, and all the long hateful list, than I fled as a matter of course from these, betook myself to your dear service, Philosophy, and pleased myself with the thought of a remainder of life spent far from the tossing waves in a calm haven beneath your shadow.
At my first peep into your realm, how could I but admire yourself and all these your disciples? there they were, legislating for the perfect life, holding out hands of help to those that would reach it, commending all that was fairest and best; fairest and best—but a man must keep straight on for it and never slip, must set his eyes unwaveringly on the laws that you have laid down, must tune and test his life thereby; and that, Zeus be my witness, there are few enough in these days of ours to do.
So I saw how many were in love, not with Philosophy, but with the credit it brings; in the vulgar externals, so easy for any one to ape, they showed a striking resemblance to the real article, perfect in beard and walk and attire; but in life and conduct they belied their looks, read your lessons backwards, and degraded their profession. Then I was wroth; methought it was as though some soft womanish actor on the tragic stage should give us Achilles or Theseus or Heracles himself; he cannot stride nor speak out as a Hero should, but minces along under his enormous mask; Helen or Polyxena would find him too realistically feminine to pass for them; and what shall an invincible Heracles say? Will he not swiftly pound man and mask together into nothingness with his club, for womanizing and disgracing him?
Well, these people were about as fit to represent you, and the degradation of it all was too much for me. Apes daring to masquerade as heroes! emulators of the ass at Cyme! The Cymeans, you know, had never seen ass or lion; so the ass came the lion over them, with the aid of a borrowed skin and his most awe-inspiring bray; however, a stranger who had often seen both brought the truth to light with a stick. But what most distressed me, Philosophy, was this: when one of these people was detected in rascality, impropriety, or immorality, every one put it down to philosophy, and to the particular philosopher whose name the delinquent took in vain without ever acting on his principles; the living rascal disgraced you, the long dead; for you were not there in the flesh to point the contrast; so, as it was clear enough that his life was vile and disgusting, your case was given away by association with his, and you had to share his disgrace.
This spectacle, I say, was too much for me; I began exposing them, and distinguishing between them and you; and for this good work you now arraign me. So then, if I find one of the Initiated betraying and parodying the Mysteries of the two Goddesses, and if I protest and denounce him, the transgression will be mine? There is something wrong there; why, at the Games, if an actor who has to present Athene or Posidon or Zeus plays his part badly, derogating from the divine dignity, the stewards have him whipped; well, the Gods are not angry with them for having the officers whip the man who wears their mask and their attire; I imagine they approve of the punishment. To play a slave or a messenger badly is a trifling offence, but to represent Zeus or Heracles to the spectators in an unworthy manner—that is a crime and a sacrilege.
I can indeed conceive nothing more extraordinary than that so many of them should get themselves absolutely perfect in your words, and then live precisely as if the sole object of reading and studying them had been to reverse them in practice. All their professions of despising wealth and appearances, of admiring nothing but what is noble, of superiority to passion, of being proof against splendour, and associating with its owners only on equal terms—how fair and wise and laudable they all are! But they take pay for imparting them, they are abashed in presence of the rich, their lips water at sight of coin; they are dogs for temper, hares for cowardice, apes for imitativeness, asses for lust, cats for thievery, cocks for jealousy. They are a perfect laughing-stock with their strivings after vile ends, their jostling of each other at rich men's doors, their attendance at crowded dinners, and their vulgar obsequiousness at table. They swill more than they should and would like to swill more than they do, they spoil the wine with unwelcome and untimely disquisitions, and they cannot carry their liquor. The ordinary people who are present naturally flout them, and are revolted by the philosophy which breeds such brutes.
What is so monstrous is that every man of them says he has no needs, proclaims aloud that wisdom is the only wealth, and directly afterwards comes begging and makes a fuss if he is refused; it would hardly be stranger to see one in kingly attire, with tall tiara, crown, and all the attributes of royalty, asking his inferiors for a little something more. When they want to get something, we hear a great deal, to be sure, about community of goods—how wealth is a thing indifferent—and what is gold and silver?—neither more nor less worth than pebbles on the beach. But when an old comrade and tried friend needs help and comes to them with his modest requirements, ah, then there is silence and searchings of heart, unlearning of tenets and flat renunciation of doctrines. All their fine talk of friendship, with Virtue and The Good, have vanished and flown, who knows whither? they were winged words in sad truth, empty phantoms, only meant for daily conversational use.
These men are excellent friends so long as there is no gold or silver for them to dispute the possession of; exhibit but a copper or two, and peace is broken, truce void, armistice ended; their books are blank, their Virtue fled, and they so many dogs; some one has flung a bone into the pack, and up they spring to bite each other and snarl at the one which has pounced successfully. There is a story of an Egyptian king who taught some apes the sword-dance; the imitative creatures very soon picked it up, and used to perform in purple robes and masks; for some time the show was a great success, till at last an ingenious spectator brought some nuts in with him and threw them down. The apes forgot their dancing at the sight, dropped their humanity, resumed their apehood, and, smashing masks and tearing dresses, had a free fight for the provender. Alas for the corps de ballet and the gravity of the audience!
These people are just those apes; it is they that I reviled; and I shall never cease exposing and ridiculing them; but about you and your like—for there are, in spite of all, some true lovers of philosophy and keepers of your laws—about you or them may I never be mad enough to utter an injurious or rude word! Why, what could I find to say? what is there in your lives that lends itself to such treatment? but those pretenders deserve my detestation, as they have that of heaven. Why, tell me, all of you, what have such creatures to do with you? Is there a trace in their lives of kindred and affinity? Does oil mix with water? If they grow their beards and call themselves philosophers and look solemn, do these things make them like you? I could have contained myself if there had been any touch of plausibility in their acting; but the vulture is more like the nightingale than they like philosophers. And now I have pleaded my cause to the best of my ability. Truth, I rely upon you to confirm my words.
Philos. Parrhesiades, retire to a further distance. Well, and our verdict? How think you the man has spoken?
Truth. Ah, Philosophy, while he was speaking I was ready to sink through the ground; it was all so true. As I listened, I could identify every offender, and I was fitting caps all the time—this is so-and-so, that is the other man, all over. I tell you they were all as plain as in a picture—speaking likenesses not of their bodies only, but of their very souls.
Tem. Yes, Truth, I could not help blushing at it.
Philos. What say you, gentlemen?
Res. Why, of course, that he is acquitted of the charge, and stands recorded as our friend and benefactor. Our case is just that of the Trojans, who entertained the tragic actor only to find him reciting their own calamities. Well, recite away, our tragedian, with these pests of ours for dramatis personae.
Diog. I too, Philosophy, give him my need of praise; I withdraw my charges, and count him a worthy friend.
Philos. I congratulate you, Parrhesiades; you are unanimously acquitted, and are henceforth one of us.
Par. Your humble servant. Or no, I must find more tragic words to fit the solemnity of the occasion:
Victorious might My life's path light, And ever strew with garlands bright!
Vir. Well, now we come to our second course; let us have in the other people and try them for their insults. Parrhesiades shall accuse them each in turn.
Par. Well said, Virtue. Syllogism, my boy, put your head out over the city and summon the philosophers.
Syl. Oyez, oyez! All philosophers to the Acropolis to make their defence before Virtue, Philosophy, and Justice.
Par. The proclamation does not bring them in flocks, does it? They have their reasons for keeping clear of Justice. And a good many of them are too busy with their rich friends. If you want them all to come, Syllogism, I will tell you what to say.
Philos. No, no; call them yourself, Parrhesiades, in your own way.
Par. Quite a simple matter. Oyez, oyez! All who profess philosophy and hold themselves entitled to the name of philosopher shall appear on the Acropolis for largesse; 8 pounds, with a sesame cake, to each. A long beard shall qualify for a square of compressed figs, in addition. Every applicant to have with him, of temperance, justice, and self-control, any that he is in possession of, it being clearly understood that these are not indispensable, and, of syllogisms, a complete set of five, these being the condition precedent of wisdom.
Two golden talents in the midst are set, His prize who wrangles best amongst his peers.
Just look! the ascent packed with a pushing crowd, at the very first sound of my 8 pounds. More of them along the Pelasgicum, more by the temple of Asclepius, a bigger crowd still over the Areopagus. Why, positively there are a few at the tomb of Talos; and see those putting ladders against the temple of Castor and Pollux; up they climb, buzzing and clustering like a swarm of bees. In Homeric phrase, on this side are exceeding many, and on that
Ten thousand, thick as leaves and flowers in spring.
Noisily they settle, the Acropolis is covered with them in a trice; everywhere wallet and beard, flattery and effrontery, staves and greed, logic and avarice. The little company which came up at the first proclamation is swamped beyond recovery, swallowed up in these later crowds; it is hopeless to find them, because of the external resemblance. That is the worst of it, Philosophy; you are really open to censure for not marking and labelling them; these impostors are often more convincing than the true philosophers.
Philos. It shall be done before long; at present let us receive them.
Platon. Platonists first!
Pyth. No, no; Pythagoreans first; our master is senior.
Stoics. Rubbish! the Porch is the best.
Peri. Now, now, this is a question of money; Peripatetics first there!
Epic. Hand over those cakes and fig-squares; as to the money, Epicureans will not mind waiting till the last.
Acad. Where are the two talents? none can touch the Academy at a wrangle; we will soon show you that.
Stoics. Not if we know it.
Philos. Cease your strife. Cynics there, no more pushing! And keep those sticks quiet. You have mistaken the nature of this summons. We three, Philosophy, Virtue, and Truth, are about to decide which are the true philosophers; that done, those whose lives are found to be in accord with our pleasure will be made happy by our award; but the impostors who are not truly of our kin we shall crush as they deserve, that they may no more make vain claims to what is too high for them. Ha! you fly? In good truth they do, jumping down the crags, most of them. Why, the Acropolis is deserted, except for—yes, a few have stood their ground and are not afraid of the judgement.
Attendants, pick up the wallet which yonder flying Cynic has dropped. Let us see what it contains—beans? a book? some coarse crust?
Par. Oh dear no. Here is gold; some scent; a mirror; dice.
Philos. Ah, good honest man! such were his little necessaries for the philosophic life, such his title to indulge in general abuse and instruct his neighbours.
Par. There you have them. The problem before you is, how the general ignorance is to be dispersed, and other people enabled to discriminate between the genuine and the other sort. Find the solution, Truth; for indeed it concerns you; Falsehood must not prevail; shall Ignorance shield the base while they counterfeit the good, and you never know it?
Truth. I think we had better give Parrhesiades this commission; he has been shown an honest man, our friend and your true admirer, Philosophy. Let him take Exposure with him and have interviews with all who profess philosophy; any genuine scion that he finds let him crown with olive and entertain in the Banqueting Hall; and for the rascals—ah, how many!—who are only costume philosophers, let him pull their cloaks off them, clip their beards short with a pair of common goatshears, and mark their foreheads or brand them between the eyebrows; the design on the branding iron to be a fox or an ape.
Philos. Well planned, Truth. And, Parrhesiades, here is a test for you; you know how young eagles are supposed to be tested by the sun; well, our candidates have not got to satisfy us that they can look at light, of course; but put gold, fame, and pleasure before their eyes; when you see one remain unconscious and unattracted, there is your man for the olive; but when one looks hard that way, with a motion of his hand in the direction of the gold, first off with his beard, and then off with him to the brander.
Par. I will follow your instructions, Philosophy; you will soon find a large majority ornamented with fox or ape, and very few with olive. If you like, though, I will get some of them up here for you to see.
Philos. What do you mean? bring them back after that stampede?
Par. Oh yes, if the priestess will lend me the line I see there and the Piraean fisherman's votive hook; I will not keep them long.
Priestess. You can have them; and the rod to complete the equipment.
Par. Thanks; now quickly, please, a few dried figs and a handful of gold.
Philos. What is all this about?
Priestess. He has baited his hook with the figs and gold, and is sitting on the parapet dangling it over the city.
Philos. What are you doing, Parrhesiades? do you think you are going to fish up stones from the Pelasgicum?
Par. Hush! I wait till I get a bite. Posidon, the fisherman's friend, and you, dear Amphitrite, send me good fishing!
Ah, a fine bass; no, it is not; it is a gilthead.
Expo. A shark, you mean; there, see, he is getting near the hook, open-mouthed too. He scents the gold; now he is close—touching—he has it; up with him!
Par. Give me a hand with the line, Exposure; here he is. Now, my best of fishes, what do we make of you? Salmo Cynicus, that is what you are. Good gracious, what teeth! Aha, my brave fish, caught snapping up trifles in the rocks, where you thought you could lurk unobserved? But now you shall hang by the gills for every one to look at you. Pull out hook and bait. Why, the hook is bare; he has not been long assimilating the figs, eh? and the gold has gone down too.
Diog. Make him disgorge; we want the bait for some more.
Par. There, then. Now, Diogenes, do you know who it is? has the fellow anything to do with you?
Diog. Nothing whatever.
Par. Well, what do you put him at? threepence was the price fixed the other day.
Diog. Too much. His flavour and his looks are intolerable—a coarse worthless brute. Drop him head first over the rock, and catch another. But take care your rod does not bend to breaking point.
Par. No fear; they are quite light—about the weight of a gudgeon.
Diog. About the weight and about the wit. However, up with them.
Par. Look; what is this one? a sole? flat as a plate, thin as one of his own fillets; he gapes for the hook; down it goes; we have him; up he comes.
Diog. What is he?
Expo. His plateship would be a Platonist.
Pl. You too after the gold, villain?
Par. Well, Plato? what shall we do with him?
Pl. Off with him from the same rock.
Diog. Try again.
Par. Ah, here is a lovely one coming, as far as one can judge in deep water, all the colours of the rainbow, with gold bars across the back. Do you see, Exposure? this is the sham Aristotle. There he is; no, he has shied. He is having a good look round; here he comes again; his jaws open; caught! haul up.
Ar. You need not apply to me; I do not know him.
Par. Very well, Aristotle; over he goes.
Hullo! I see a whole school of them together, all one colour, and covered with spines and horny scales, as tempting to handle as a hedgehog. We want a net for these; but we have not got one. Well, it will do if we pull up one out of the lot. The boldest of them will no doubt try the hook.
Expo. You had better sheathe a good bit of the line before you let it down; else he will gorge the gold and then saw the line through.
Par. There it goes. Posidon grant me a quick catch! There now! they are fighting for the bait, a lot of them together nibbling at the figs, and others with their teeth well in the gold. That is right; one soundly hooked. Now let me see, what do you call yourself? And yet how absurd to try and make a fish speak; they are dumb. Exposure, tell us who is his master,
Par. Ah, he must have a master with gold in his name, must he? Chrysippus, tell me seriously, do you know these men? are you responsible for the way they live?
Ch. My dear Parrhesiades, I take it ill that you should suggest any connexion between me and such creatures.
Par. Quite right, and like you. Over he goes head first like the others; if one tried to eat him, those spines might stick in one's throat.
Philos. You have fished long enough, Parrhesiades; there are so many of them, one might get away with gold, hook and all, and you have the priestess to pay. Let us go for our usual stroll; and for all you it is time to be getting back to your place, if you are not to outstay your leave. Parrhesiades, you and Exposure can go the rounds now, and crown or brand as I told you.
Par. Good, Philosophy. Farewell, ye best of men. Come, Exposure, to our commission. Where shall we go first? the Academy, do you think, or the Porch?
Expo. We will begin with the Lyceum.
Par. Well, it makes no difference. I know well enough that wherever we go there will be few crowns wanted, and a good deal of branding.
VOYAGE TO THE LOWER WORLD
Charon. Clotho. Hermes. Shades. Rhadamanthus. Tisiphone. Lamp. Bed
Cha. You see how it is, Clotho; here has all been ship-shape and ready for a start this long time; the hold baled out, the mast stepped, the sail hoisted, every oar in its rowlock; it is no fault of mine that we don't weigh anchor and sail. 'Tis Hermes keeps us; he should have been here long ago. Not a passenger on board, as you may see; and we might have made the trip three times over by this. Evening is coming on now; and never a penny taken all day! I know how it will be: Pluto will think I have been wanting to my work. It is not I that am to blame, but our fine gentleman of a supercargo. He is just like any mortal: he has taken a drink of their Lethe up there, and forgotten to come back to us. He'll be wrestling with the lads, or playing on his lyre, or giving his precious gift of the gab a good airing; or he's off after plunder, the rascal, for what I know: 'tis all in the day's work with him. He is getting too independent: he ought to remember that he belongs to us, one half of him.
Clo. Well, well, Charon; perhaps he has been busy: Zeus may have had some particular occasion for his services in the upper world; he has the use of him too, remember.
Cha. That doesn't say that he should make use of him beyond what's reasonable. Hermes is common property. We have never kept him here when he was due to go. No, I know what it is. In these parts of ours all is mist and gloom and darkness, and nothing to be had but asphodel and libations and sacrificial cakes and meats. Yonder in Heaven, all's bright, with plenty of ambrosia, and no end of nectar. Small wonder that he likes to loiter there. When he leaves us, 'tis on wings; it is as though he escaped from prison. But when the time comes for return, he tramps it on foot, and has much ado to get here at all.
Clo. Well, never mind now; here he comes, look, and a fine host of passengers with him; a fine flock, rather; he hustles them along with his staff like so many goats. But what's this? One of them is bound, and another enjoying the joke; and there is one with a wallet slung beside him, and a stick in his hand; a cantankerous-looking fellow; he keeps the rest moving. And just look at Hermes! Bathed in perspiration, and his feet covered with dust! See how he pants; he is quite out of breath. What is the matter, Hermes? Tell us all about it; you seem disturbed.
Her. The matter is that this rascal ran away; I had to go after him, and had well nigh played you false for this trip, I can tell you.
Clo. Why, who is he? What did he want to run away for?
Her. His motive is sufficiently clear: he had a preference for remaining alive. He is some king or tyrant, as I gather from his piteous allusions to blessedness no longer his.
Clo. And the fool actually tried to run away, and thought to prolong his life when the thread of Fate was exhausted?
Her. Tried! He would have got clean away, but for that capital fellow there with the club; he gave me a hand, and we caught and bound him. The whole way along, from the moment that Atropus handed him over to me, he dragged and hung back, and dug his heels into the ground: it was no easy work getting him along. Every now and then he would take to prayers and entreaties: Would I let him go just for a few minutes? he would make it worth my while. Of course I was not going to do that; it was out of the question.—Well, we had actually got to the very pit's mouth, when somehow or other this double-dyed knave managed to slip off, whilst I was telling over the Shades to Aeacus, as usual, and he checking them by your sister's invoice. The consequence was, we were one short of tally. Aeacus raised his eyebrows. 'Hermes,' he said, 'everything in its right place: no larcenous work here, please. You play enough of those tricks in Heaven. We keep strict accounts here: nothing escapes us. The invoice says 1,004; there it is in black and white. You have brought me one short, unless you say that Atropus was too clever for you.' I coloured up at that; and then all at once I remembered what had happened on the way, and when I looked round and this fellow was nowhere to be seen, I knew that he must have made off, and I set off after him along the road to the upper world, as fast as I could go. My worthy friend here volunteered for the service; so we made a race of it, and caught the runaway just as he got to Taenarum! It was a near thing.
Clo. There now, Charon! And we were beginning to accuse Hermes of neglect.
Cha. Well, and why are we waiting here, as if there had not been enough delay already?
Clo. True. Let them come aboard. I'll to my post by the gangway, with my notebook, and take their names and countries as they come up, and details of their deaths; and you can stow them away as you get them.—Hermes, let us have those babies in first; I shall get nothing out of them.
Her. Here, skipper. Three hundred of them, including those that were exposed.
Cha. A precious haul, on my word!-These are but green grapes, Hermes.
Her. Who next, Clotho? The Unwept?
Clo. Ah! I take you.—Yes, up with the old fellows. I have no time to-day for prehistoric research. All over sixty, pass on! What's the matter with them? They don't hear me; they are deaf with age. I think you will have to pick them up, like the babies, and get them along that way.
Her. Here they are; fine well-matured fruit, gathered in due season; three hundred and ninety-eight of them.
Cha. Nay, nay; these are no better than raisins.
Clo. Bring up the wounded next, Hermes. Now I can get to work. Tell me how you were killed. Or no; I had better look at my notes, and call you over. Eighty-four due to be killed in battle yesterday, in Mysia, These to include Gobares, son of Oxyartes.
Clo. The seven who killed themselves for love. Also Theagenes, the philosopher, for love of the Megarian courtesan.
Her. Here they are, look.
Clo. And the rival claimants to thrones, who slew one another?
Clo. And the one murdered by his wife and her paramour?
Her. Straight in front of you.
Clo. Now the victims of the law,—the cudgelled and the crucified. And where are those sixteen who were killed by robbers?