And the whole is well worth thinking o’er when autumn comes

Robert Browning’s By the Fire-Side. It is very long but somehow not easily found online and deserves to be.

A useless personal aside – the premise of this one also reminds me a bit of a hike my wife and I did from Montalcino to the Abbey of Sant’Antimo – using a combination of a 30 year old guidebook and 15 year old forum posts, both of which I somehow thought would not have fallen out of date. There are some new roads in the Val d’Orcia and many old landmarks have disappeared.


How well I know what I mean to do
When the long dark autumn evenings come;
And where, my soul, is thy pleasant hue?
With the music of all thy voices, dumb
In life’s November too!

I shall be found by the fire, suppose,
O’er a great wise book as beseemeth age,
While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows,
And I turn the page, and I turn the page,
Not verse now, only prose!

Till the young ones whisper, finger on lip,
“There he is at it, deep in Greek:
Now then, or never, out we slip
To cut from the hazels by the creek
A mainmast for our ship!”

I shall be at it indeed, my friends!
Greek puts already on either side
Such a branch-work forth as soon extends
To a vista opening far and wide,
And I pass out where it ends.

The outside-frame, like your hazel-trees—
But the inside-archway widens fast,
And a rarer sort succeeds to these,
And we slope to Italy at last
And youth, by green degrees.

I follow wherever I am led,
Knowing so well the leader’s hand:
Oh woman-country, wooed not wed,
Loved all the more by earth’s male-lands,
Laid to their hearts instead!

Look at the ruined chapel again
Half-way up in the Alpine gorge!
Is that a tower, I point you plain,
Or is it a mill, or an iron forge
Breaks solitude in vain?

A turn, and we stand in the heart of things;
The woods are round us, heaped and dim;
From slab to slab how it slips and springs,
The thread of water single and slim,
Through the ravage some torrent brings!

Does it feed the little lake below?
That speck of white just on its marge
Is Pella; see, in the evening-glow,
How sharp the silver spear-heads charge
When Alp meets heaven in snow!

On our other side is the straight-up rock;
And a path is kept ‘twixt the gorge and it
By boulder-stones where lichens mock
The marks on a moth, and small ferns fit
Their teeth to the polished block.

Oh the sense of the yellow mountain-flowers,
And thorny halls, each three in one,
The chestnuts throw on our path in showers!
For the drop of the woodland fruit’s begun,
These early November hours,

That crimson the creeper’s leaf across
Like a splash of blood, intense, abrupt,
O’er a shield else gold from rim to boss,
And lay it for show on the fairy-cupped
Elf-needled mat of moss,

By the rose-flesh mushrooms, undivulged
Last evening—nay, in to-day’s first dew
Yon sudden coral nipple bulged,
Where a freaked fawn-colored flaky crew
Of toad-stools peep indulged.

And yonder, at foot of the fronting ridge
That takes the turn to a range beyond,
Is the chapel reached by the one-arched bridge
Where the water is stopped in a stagnant pond
Danced over by the midge.

The chapel and bridge are of stone alike,
Blackish-gray and mostly wet;
Cut hemp-stalks steep in the narrow dyke.
See here again, how the lichens fret
And the roots of the ivy strike!

Poor little place, where its one priest comes
On a festa-day, if he comes at all,
To the dozen folk from their scattered homes,
Gathered within that precinct small
By the dozen ways one roams—

To drop from the charcoal-burners’ huts,
Or climb from the hemp-dressers’ low shed,
Leave the grange where the woodman stores his nuts,
Or the wattled cote where the fowlers spread
Their gear on the rock’s bare juts.

It has some pretension too, this front,
With its bit of fresco half-moon-wise
Set over the porch, Art’s early wont:
‘T is John in the Desert, I surmise,
But has borne the weather’s brunt—

Not from the fault of the builder, though,
For a pent-house properly projects
Where three carved beams make a certain show,
Dating—good thought of our architect’s—
‘Five, six, nine, he lets you know.

And all day long a bird sings there,
And a stray sheep drinks at the pond at times;
The place is silent and aware;
It has had its scenes, its joys and crimes,
But that is its own affair.

My perfect wife, my Leonor,
Oh heart, my own, oh eyes, mine too,
Whom else could I dare look backward for,
With whom beside should I dare pursue
The path gray heads abhor?

For it leads to a crag’s sheer edge with them;
Youth, flowery all the way, there stops—
Not they; age threatens and they contemn,
Till they reach the gulf wherein youth drops,
One inch from life’s safe hem!

With me, youth led … I will speak now,
No longer watch you as you sit
Reading by fire-light, that great brow
And the spirit-small hand propping it,
Mutely, my heart knows how—

When, if I think but deep enough,
You are wont to answer, prompt as rhyme;
And you, too, find without rebuff
Response your soul seeks many a time
Piercing its fine flesh-stuff.

My own, confirm me! If I tread
This path back, is it not in pride
To think how little I dreamed it led
To an age so blest that, by its side,
Youth seems the waste instead?

My own, see where the years conduct!
At first, ‘t was something our two souls
Should mix as mists do; each is sucked
In each now: on, the new stream rolls,
Whatever rocks obstruct.

Think, when our one soul understands
The great Word which makes all things new.
When earth breaks up and heaven expands,
How will the change strike me and you
In the house not made with hands?

Oh, I must feel your brain prompt mine,
Your heart anticipate my heart,
You must be just before, in fine,
See and make me see, for your part,
New depths of the divine!

But who could have expected this
When we two drew together first
Just for the obvious human bliss,
To satisfy life’s daily thirst
With a thing men seldom miss?

Come back with me to the first of all,
Let us lean and love it over again,
Let us now forget and now recall,
Break the rosary in a pearly rain
And gather what we let fall!

What did I say?—that a small bird sings
All day long, save when a brown pair
Of hawks from the wood float with wide wings
Strained to a bell: ‘gainst noonday glare
You count the streaks and rings.

But at afternoon or almost eve
‘T is better; then the silence grows
To that degree, you half believe
It must get rid of what it knows,
Its bosom does so heave.

Hither we walked then, side by side,
Arm in arm and cheek to cheek,
And still I questioned or replied,
While my heart, convulsed to really speak,
Lay choking in its pride.

Silent the crumbling bridge we cross,
And pity and praise the chapel sweet,
And care about the fresco’s loss,
And wish for our souls a like retreat,
And wonder at the moss.

Stoop and kneel on the settle under,
Look through the window’s grated square:
Nothing to see! For fear of plunder,
The cross is down and the altar bare,
As if thieves don’t fear thunder.

We stoop and look in through the grate,
See the little porch and rustic door,
Read duly the dead builder’s date;
Then cross the bridge that we crossed before,
Take the path again—but wait!

Oh moment, one and infinite!
The water slips o’er stock and stone;
The West is tender, hardly bright:
How gray at once is the evening grown—
One star, its chrysolite!

We two stood there with never a third,
But each by each, as each knew well:
The sights we saw and the sounds we heard,
The lights and the shades made up a spell
Till the trouble grew and stirred.

Oh, the little more, and how much it is!
And the little less, and what worlds away!
How a sound shall quicken content to bliss,
Or a breath suspend the blood’s best play,
And life be a proof of this!

Had she willed it, still had stood the screen
So slight, so sure, ‘twixt my love and her:
I could fix her face with a guard between,
And find her soul as when friends confer,
Friends—lovers that might have been.

For my heart had a touch of the woodland-time,
Wanting to sleep now over its best.
Shake the whole tree in the summer-prime,
But bring to the last leaf no such test!
“Hold the last fast!” runs the rhyme.

For a chance to make your little much,
To gain a lover and lose a friend,
Venture the tree and a myriad such,
When nothing you mar but the year can mend:
But a last leaf—fear to touch!

Yet should it unfasten itself and fall
Eddying down till it find your face
At some slight wind—best chance of all!
Be your heart henceforth its dwelling-place
You trembled to forestall!

Worth how well, those dark gray eyes,
That hair so dark and dear, how worth
That a man should strive and agonize,
And taste a veriest hell on earth
For the hope of such a prize!

You might have turned and tried a man,
Set him a space to weary and wear,
And prove which suited more your plan,
His best of hope or his worst despair,
Yet end as he began.

But you spared me this, like the heart you are,
And filled my empty heart at a word.
If two lives join, there is oft a scar,
They are one and one, with a shadowy third;
One near one is too far.

A moment after, and hands unseen
Were hanging the night around us fast;
But we knew that a bar was broken between
Life and life: we were mixed at last
In spite of the mortal screen.

The forests had done it; there they stood;
We caught for a moment the powers at play;
They had mingled us so, for once and good,
Their work was done—we might go or stay,
They relapsed to their ancient mood.

How the world is made for each of us!
How all we perceive and know in it
Tends to some moment’s product thus,
When a soul declares itself—to wit,
By its fruit, the thing it does!

Be hate that fruit or love that fruit,
It forwards the general deed of man,
And each of the Many helps to recruit
The life of the race by a general plan;
Each living his own, to boot.

I am named and known by that moment’s feat;
There took my station and degree;
So grew my own small life complete,
As nature obtained her best of me—
One born to love you, sweet!

And to watch you sink by the fireside now
Back again, as you mutely sit
Musing by fire-light, that great brow
And the spirit-small hand propping it,
Yonder, my heart knows how!

So, earth has gained by one man the more,
And the gain of earth must be heaven’s gain too;
And the whole is well worth thinking o’er
When autumn comes: which I mean to do
One day, as I said before.

The wolf, the fox, and the ailing lion

One of Aesop’s fables (205 in Chambry, 258 in Perry), found in Erasmus’ Adage 114 concerning Malum Consilium (Bad Advice) and the proverb malum consilium consultori pessimum (bad advice is especially bad for the adviser) where he describes it as non invenustus nec omnino indignus (not uncharming and not altogether unworthy). The full text is here but too long for me to translate. This translation is the Oxford Classics by Laura Gibbs.

The wolf, the fox, and the ailing lion.

The lion had grown old and sick and was lying in his cave. All the animals, except for the fox, had come to visit their king. The wolf seized this opportunity to denounce the fox in front of the lion, complaining that the fox showed no respect for the lion, who was the common master of them all. Indeed, the fox had not even come to pay the ailing lion a visit! The fox arrived just in time to hear the end of the wolf’s speech. The lion roared at the fox, but the fox asked for a chance to explain herself. ‘After all,’ said the fox, ‘which one of all the animals assembled here has helped you as I have, travelling all over the world in order to seek out and discover from the doctors a remedy for your illness?’ The lion ordered the fox to describe the remedy immediately, and the fox replied, ‘You must flay a living wolf and wrap yourself in his skin while it is still warm.’ When the wolf had been killed, the fox laughed and said, ‘It is better to put your master in a good mood, not a bad one.’
The story shows that someone who plots against others falls into his own trap.

Λέων καὶ λύκος καὶ ἀλώπηξ.

Λέων γηράσας ἐνόσει κατακεκλιμένος ἐν ἄντρῳ. Παρῆσαν δ’ ἐπισκεψόμενα τὸν βασιλέα, πλὴν ἀλώπεκος, τἄλλα τῶν ζώων. Ὁ τοίνυν λύκος λαβόνενος εὐκαιρίας κατηγόρει παρὰ τῷ λέοντι τῆς ἀλώπεκος, ἅτε δὴ παρ’ οὐδὲν τιθέμενης τὸν πάντων αὐτῶν κρατοῦντα, καὶ διὰ ταῦτα μηδ’ εἰς ἐπίσκεψιν ἀφιγμένης. Ἐν τοσούτῳ δὲ παρῆν καὶ ἡ ἀλώπηξ, καὶ τῶν τελευταίων ἠκροάσατο τοῦ λύκου ῥημάτων.Ὁ μὲν οὖν λέων κατ’ αὐτῆς ἐβρυχᾶτο. Ἡ δ’ ἀπολογίας καιρὸν αἰτήσασα· “Καὶ τίς σε, ἐφη, τῶν συνελθόντων τοσοῦτον ὠφέλησεν ὅσον ἐγώ, πανταχόσε περινοστήσασα, καὶ θεραπείαν ὑπὲρ σοῦ παρ’ ἰατρῶν ζητήσασα καὶ μαθοῦσα;” Τοῦ δὲ λέοντος εὐθὺς τὴν θεραπείαν εἰπεῖν κελεύσαντος, ἐκείνη φησίν· .”Εἰ λύκον ζῶντα ἐκδείρας τὴν αὐτοῦ δορὰν θερμὴν ἀμφιέσῃ.” Καὶ τοῦ λύκου αὐτίκα νεκροῦ κειμένου, ἡ ἀλώπηξ γελῶσα εἶπεν οὕτως· “Οὐ χρὴ τὸν δεσπότην πρὸς δυσμένειαν παρακινεῖν, ἀλλὰ πρὸς εὐμένειαν.” Ὁ μῦθος δηλοῖ ὅτι ὁ καθ’ ἑτέρου μηχανώμενος καθ’ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν μηχανὴν περιτρέπει.

Forth flies the South-wind with dripping wings

Ovid’s portrait of Notus at Metamorphoses 1.265, for an always rainy March (though I think Notus is technically for the storms of late summer into aututmn):

Forth flies the South-wind with dripping wings, his awful face shrouded in pitchy darkness. His beard is heavy with rain; water flows in streams down his hoary locks; dark clouds rest upon his brow; while his wings and garments drip with dew. And, when he presses the low-hanging clouds with his broad hands, a crashing sound goes forth; and next the dense clouds pour forth their rain.

madidis Notus evolat alis,
terribilem picea tectus caligine vultum;
barba gravis nimbis, canis fluit unda capillis;
fronte sedent nebulae, rorant pennaeque sinusque.
utque manu lata pendentia nubila pressit,
fit fragor: hinc densi funduntur ab aethere nimbi;

And a bonus – Notos on the Tower of the Winds in Athens. He is holding a water jar for the downpours he brings.

Dumezil’s comic tones

From Georges Dumezil’s The Destiny of a King (part 3 of vol. 2 of Mythe et Epopee, translated by fellow scholar Alf Hiltebeitel). Mythe et Epopee just got a reprint in Gallimard’s Quarto series and I’m discovering – which I never did when reading for research – the frequently comedic tone he adopts with some of his material. Here’s his summary of the story of Vasu Uparicara – and kudos to the translator for keeping the tone.

So it is that, through Satyavati, Vasu Uparicara turns out to be the ancestor, and a recent one at that, of the Pandavas and the Dhartarastras: excited by the thought of the twin daughter of a river and a mountain, he discharges his semen, which is swallowed by a nymph-turned-fish; and the fully human daughter, a twin again, who is drawn from the latter’s stomach, gives birth, in two successive states of virginity, to the real grandfather, and then to the putative grandfather, of the two groups of cousins.

τῶν δ᾽ ἀκάματος ῥέει αὐδὴ ἐκ στομάτων ἡδεῖα

Of the Muses, from Hesiod’s Theogony (39-43), with two translations since I don’t care for either:

….. τῶν δ᾽ ἀκάματος ῥέει αὐδὴ
ἐκ στομάτων ἡδεῖα: γελᾷ δέ τε δώματα πατρὸς
Ζηνὸς ἐριγδούποιο θεᾶν ὀπὶ λειριοέσσῃ
σκιδναμένῃ: ἠχεῖ δὲ κάρη νιφόεντος Ὀλύμπου
δώματά τ᾽ ἀθανάτων…..

The new Loeb translation (Most):

Their tireless voice flows sweet from their mouths; and the house of their father, loud-thundering Zeus, rejoices at the goddesses’ lily-like voice as it spreads out, and snowy Olympus’ peak resounds, and the mansions of the immortals.

The old Loeb (Evelyn-White):

Unwearying flows the sweet sound from their lips, and the house of their father Zeus the loud-thunderer is glad at the lily-like voice of the goddesses as it spreads abroad, and the peaks of snowy Olympus resound, and the homes of the immortals.

I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand

Ian Curtis’ (Joy Division’s) Disorder: There are elements that can point to his epilepsy but I can’t see how you’d privilege those over the links to depression – itself of course partly caused by the epilepsy.

I’ve been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
Lose sensations, spare the insults, leave them for another day
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling
Take the shock away

It’s getting faster, moving faster now
It’s getting out of hand
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs
It’s a no man’s land
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing
Getting frequent now
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling
Let it out somehow

What means to you, what means to me
And we will meet again
I’m watching you, I’m watching
Oh I’ll take no pity from your friends
Who is right? Who can tell?
And who gives a damn right now?
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold
Then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold
Then you know
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold
Then you know

I’ve got the spirit
But lose the feeling
I’ve got the spirit
But lose the feeling
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling

I can’t find a proper video performance so here’s from one of their best live albums:

And the more they laid hold on reason the more they laid aside their self-opinion and conceit

From Plutarch’s How a Man May Became Aware of his Progress in Virtue (vol. 1 of the Loeb Moralia)

Just as persons who are being initiated into the Mysteries throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting, and jostle against one another, but when the holy rites are being performed and disclosed the people are immediately attentive in awe and silence, so too at the beginning of philosophy: about its portals also you will see great tumult and talking and boldness, as some boorishly and violently try to jostle their way towards the repute it bestows: but he who has succeeded in getting inside, and has seen a great light, as though a shrine were opened, adopts another bearing of silence and amazement, and “humble and orderly attends upon” reason as upon a god. To these the humorous remark of Menedemus may, as it seems, be nicely applied; for he said that the multitudes who came to Athens to school were, at the outset, wise; later they became lovers of wisdom, later still orators, and, as time went on, just ordinary persons, and the more they laid hold on reason the more they laid aside their self-opinion and conceit.

ὥσπερ γὰρ οἱ τελούμενοι κατ᾿ ἀρχὰς μὲν ἐν θορύβῳ καὶ βοῇ συνίασι πρὸς Eἀλλήλους ὠθούμενοι, δρωμένων δὲ καὶ δεικνυμένων τῶν ἱερῶν προσέχουσιν ἤδη μετὰ φόβου καὶ σιωπῆς, οὕτω καὶ φιλοσοφίας ἐν ἀρχῇ καὶ περὶ θύρας πολὺν θόρυβον ὄψει καὶ λαλιὰν καὶ θρασύτητα, ὠθουμένων πρὸς τὴν δόξαν ἐνίων ἀγροίκως τε καὶ βιαίως· ὁ δ᾿ ἐντὸς γενόμενος καὶ μέγα φῶς ἰδών, οἷον ἀνακτόρων ἀνοιγομένων, ἕτερον λαβὼν σχῆμα καὶ σιωπὴν καὶ θαμβος ὥσπερ θεῷ τῷ λόγῳ “ταπεινὸς συνέπεται καὶ κεκοσμημένος.” εἰς δὲ τούτους ἔοικε καὶ τὸ Μενεδήμῳ πεπαιγμένον καλῶς λέγεσθαι· καταπλεῖν γὰρ ἔφη τοὺς πολλοὺς ἐπὶ σχολὴν Ἀθήναζε, σοφοὺς τὸ πρῶτον, εἶτα γίγνεσθαι φιλοσόφους, εἶτα ῥήτορας, τοῦ χρόνου δὲ προϊόντος ἰδιώτας, ὅσῳ μᾶλλον ἅπτονται τοῦ λόγου, μᾶλλον τὸ οἴημα καὶ τὸν τῦφον κατατιθεμένους.

This world’s no blot for us, nor blank; it means intensely, and means good: To find its meaning is my meat and drink.

From Robert Browning’s Fra Lippo Lippi – with the full text here

You speak no Latin more than I, belike;
However, you’re my man, you’ve seen the world
—The beauty and the wonder and the power,
The shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades,
Changes, surprises,—and God made it all!
—For what? Do you feel thankful, ay or no,
For this fair town’s face, yonder river’s line,
The mountain round it and the sky above,
Much more the figures of man, woman, child,
These are the frame to? What’s it all about?
To be passed over, despised? or dwelt upon,
Wondered at? oh, this last of course!—you say.
But why not do as well as say,—paint these
Just as they are, careless what comes of it?
God’s works—paint any one, and count it crime
To let a truth slip. Don’t object, “His works
Are here already; nature is complete:
Suppose you reproduce her—(which you can’t)
There’s no advantage! you must beat her, then.”
For, don’t you mark? we’re made so that we love
First when we see them painted, things we have passed
Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see;
And so they are better, painted—better to us,
Which is the same thing. Art was given for that;
God uses us to help each other so,
Lending our minds out. Have you noticed, now,
Your cullion’s hanging face? A bit of chalk,
And trust me but you should, though! How much more,
If I drew higher things with the same truth!
That were to take the Prior’s pulpit-place,
Interpret God to all of you! Oh, oh,
It makes me mad to see what men shall do
And we in our graves! This world’s no blot for us,
Nor blank; it means intensely, and means good:
To find its meaning is my meat and drink.
“Ay, but you don’t so instigate to prayer!”
Strikes in the Prior: “when your meaning’s plain
It does not say to folk—remember matins,
Or, mind you fast next Friday!” Why, for this
What need of art at all? A skull and bones,
Two bits of stick nailed crosswise, or, what’s best,
A bell to chime the hour with, does as well.
I painted a Saint Laurence six months since
At Prato, splashed the fresco in fine style:
“How looks my painting, now the scaffold’s down?”
I ask a brother: “Hugely,” he returns—
“Already not one phiz of your three slaves
Who turn the Deacon off his toasted side,
But’s scratched and prodded to our heart’s content,
The pious people have so eased their own
With coming to say prayers there in a rage:
We get on fast to see the bricks beneath.
Expect another job this time next year,
For pity and religion grow i’ the crowd—
Your painting serves its purpose!” Hang the fools!

A god can do it. But tell me how a man is to follow through the narrow lyre?

From Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebman’s The Essential Rilke – 1.3 from their selection of The Sonnets to Orpheus

A god can do it. But tell me how a man
is to follow through the narrow lyre?
His mind is cleft. No temple for Apollo
stands where two heart-ways cross.

Song, as you teach it, is not desire,
not suing for a thing at last attained;
song is existence. Easy, for the god.
But when do we exist? And when will he

turn toward us the earth and the stars?
It’s not, young man, when you’re in love, even if
then your voice thrusts open your mouth, – learn

to forget you once lifted yourself in a song. That doesn’t last.
True singing is a different kind of breath.
A breath about nothing. A blowing in the god. A wind.

Ein Gott vermags. Wie aber, sag mir, soll
ein Mann ihm folgen durch die schmale Leier?
Sein Sinn ist Zwiespalt. An der Kreuzung zweier
Herzwege steht kein Tempel für Apoll.

Gesang, wie du ihn lehrst, ist nicht Begehr,
nicht Werbung um ein endlich noch Erreichtes;
Gesang ist Dasein. Für den Gott ein Leichtes.
Wann aber sind wir? Und wann wendet er

an unser Sein die Erde und die Sterne?
Dies ists nicht, Jüngling, Daß du liebst, wenn auch
die Stimme dann den Mund dir aufstößt, – lerne

vergessen, daß du aufsangst. Das verrinnt.
In Wahrheit singen, ist ein andrer Hauch.
Ein Hauch um nichts. Ein Wehn im Gott. Ein Wind.

For the greater the acquisition from philosophy is, the more annoyance there is in being cut off from it

From Plutarch’s How a Man May Become Aware of his Progress in Virtue – volume 1 of the Loeb Moralia (pg 409).

 If therefore you follow the advice given by the god in the oracle, to “fight the Cirrhaeans all days and all nights,” and are conscious that you likewise in the daytime and the nighttime have always carried on an unrelenting warfare against vice, or at least that you have not often relaxed your vigilance nor constantly granted admission to divers pleasures, recreations, and pastimes, which are, as it were, envoys sent by vice to treat for a truce, it is then quite probable that you may go on with good courage and confidence to what still remains.

However, even though it be that intermissions occur in one’s philosophical studies, yet if the later periods of study are more constant and long-continued than they were earlier, this is no slight indication that the spirit of indifference is being expelled through industry and practice; but there is something pernicious in the opposite condition, when numerous and continued set-backs occur after no long time, as if the spirit of eagerness were withering away. We may compare a reed, the growth of which at its beginning has a very great impetus, which results in an even and continuous length, at first in long sections, since it meets with few obstacles and repulses, but later, as though for lack of breath as it gets higher up, it grows weak and weary, and is gathered up in the many frequent nodules, when the life-giving spirit meets with buffets and shocks; so with philosophy, those who at the outset engage in long excursions into its realms and later meet with a long series of obstacles and distractions without becoming aware of any change toward the better, finally get wearied out, and give up. But a man of the other type “is again given wings” by the help he gets as he is carried onward, and by the strength and eagerness born of successful accomplishment brushes aside pretences as though they were a hindering crowd in his path. In the same way that an indication of the beginning of love is to be found, not in the taking delight in the presence of the loved one (for this is usual), but in feeling a sting of pain when separated; just so are many allured by philosophy and seem to take hold of the task of learning with high aspirations, but if they are forced by other business and occupations to leave it, all that excitement of theirs subsides and they no longer care. But he in whose heart the prick of youthful love is planted may appear to you moderate and mild while present at philosophical discussions; but when he is separated and apart from them, behold him ardent and troubled, and dissatisfied with all business and occupations, and, cherishing the mere recollection, he is driven about like an irrational being by his yearning towards philosophy. For we ought not to enjoy being present at discussions as we enjoy the presence of perfumes, and then when we are removed from them not seek after them or even feel uneasy; but we ought in our periods of separation to experience a sensation akin in a way to hunger and thirst, and so be led to cleave to what makes for real progress, whether it chance to be a wedding or wealth or the duties of friendship or military service that causes the temporary parting. For the greater the acquisition from philosophy is, the more annoyance there is in being cut off from it.

ἂν οὖν κατὰ τὸν δοθέντα χρησμὸν ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ “Κιρραίοις πάντ᾿ ἤματα καὶ πάσας νύκτας πολεμεῖν” οὕτω συνειδῇς σεαυτὸν ἡμέρας τε καὶ νύκτωρ ἀεὶ τῇ κακίᾳ διαμεμαχημένον, ἢ μὴ πολλάκις γε τὴν φρουρὰν ἀνεικότα μηδὲ συνεχῶς παρ᾿ αὐτῆς οἱονεὶ κήρυκας ἡδονάς τινας ἢ ῥᾳστώνας ἢ ἀσχολίας ἐπὶ σπονδαῖς προσδεδεγμένον, εἰκότως ἂν εὐθαρσὴς καὶ πρόθυμος βαδίζοις ἐπὶ τὸ λειπόμενον.

Οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ κἂν ᾖ διαλείμματα γιγνόμενα τοῦ φιλοσοφεῖν, τὰ δ᾿ ὕστερα τῶν πρότερον ἑδραιότερα καὶ μακρότερα, σημεῖον οὐ φαῦλόν ἐστιν ἐκθλιβομένης πόνῳ καὶ ἀσκήσει τῆς ῥᾳθυμίας· τὸ δ᾿ ἐναντίον πονηρόν, αἱ μετ᾿ οὐ πολὺν χρόνον πολλαὶ καὶ συνεχεῖς ἀνακοπαί, τῆς προθυμίας οἷον ἀπομαραινομένης. ὡς γὰρ ἡ τοῦ καλάμου βλάστησις, 77ὁρμὴν ἔχουσα πλείστην ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς εἰς μῆκος ὁμαλὸν καὶ συνεχές, τὸ πρῶτον ἐν διαστήμασι μεγάλοις ὀλίγας λαμβάνουσα προσκρούσεις καὶ ἀντικοπάς, εῖθ᾿ οἷον ὑπ᾿ ἄσθματος ἄνω δι᾿ ἀσθένειαν ἀπαγορεύουσα πολλοῖς ἐνίσχεται καὶ πυκνοῖς τοῖς γόνασι, τοῦ πνεύματος πληγὰς καὶ τρόμους λαμβάνοντος, οὕτως ὅσοι τὸ πρῶτον μεγάλαις ἐκδρομαῖς ἐχρήσαντο πρὸς φιλοσοφίαν, εἶτα πολλὰ καὶ συνεχῆ προσκρούματα καὶ διασπάσματα λαμβάνουσι μηδενὸς Bδιαφόρου πρὸς τὸ βέλτιον ἐπαισθανόμενοι, τελευτῶντες ἐξέκαμον καὶ ἀπηγόρευσαν. “τῷ δ᾿ αὖτε πτερὰ γίγνετο” δι᾿ ὠφέλειαν φερομένῳ καὶ διακόπτοντι τὰς προφάσεις ὥσπερ ὄχλον ἐμποδὼν ὄντα ῥώμῃ καὶ προθυμίᾳ τῆς ἀνύσεως. καθάπερ οὖν ἔρωτος ἀρχομένου σημεῖόν ἐστιν οὐ τὸ χαίρειν τῷ καλῷ παρόντι (τοῦτο γὰρ κοινόν) ἀλλὰ τὸ δάκνεσθαι καὶ ἀλγεῖν ἀποσπώμενον, οὕτως ἄγονται μὲν ὑπὸ φιλοσοφίας πολλοὶ καὶ σφόδρα γε φιλοτίμως ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι τοῦ μανθάνειν δοκοῦσιν, ἂν δ᾿ ἀπελαθῶσι ὑπὸ πραγμάτων ἄλλων καὶ ἀσχολιῶν, ἐξερρύη τὸ πάθος αὐτῶν ἐκεῖνο, καὶ ῥᾳδίως φέρουσιν.

ὅτῳ δ᾿ ἔρωτος δῆγμα παιδικῶν

πρόσεστι, μέτριος μὲν ἄν σοι φανείη καὶ πρᾶος ἐν τῷ παρεῖναι καὶ συμφιλοσοφεῖν ὅταν δ᾿ ἀποσπασθῇ καὶ χωρὶς γένηται, θεῶ φλεγόμενον καὶ ἀδημονοῦντα καὶ δυσκολαίνοντα πᾶσι πράγμασι καὶ ἀσχολίαις, μνήμην δὲ φιλῶν ὧσπερ ἄλογος ἐλαύνεται πόθῳ τῷ πρὸς φιλοσοφίαν. οὐ γὰρ δεῖ τοῖς λογοις εὐφραίνεσθαι μὲν παρόντας ὥσπερ τοῖς μύροις, ἀποστάντας δὲ μὴ ζητεῖν μηδ᾿ ἀσχάλλειν, ἀλλὰ πείνῃ τινὶ καὶ δίψῃ πάθος ὅμοιον ἐν τοῖς ἀποσπασμοῖς πάσχοντας ἔχεσθαι τοῦ προκόπτοντος ἀληθῶς, ἄν τε γάμος ἄν τε πλοῦτος ἄν τε φιλία τις ἄν τε στρατεία Dπροσπεσοῦσα ποιήσῃ τὸν χωρισμόν. ὅσῳ γὰρ πλέον ἐστὶ τὸ προσειλημμένον ἐκ φιλοσοφίας, τοσούτῳ πλέον ἐνοχλεῖ τὸ ἀπολειπόμενον.