The Stoics Library
Essays Volume 3
On Benefits Book IV
by Seneca
Translated by John W. Basore

OF all the questions that we have discussed, Aebutius Liberalis, none can seem so essential, or to need, as Sallust puts it, such careful treatment, as the one that is now before us - whether to bestow a benefit and to return gratitude for it are in themselves desirable ends.

Some are to be found who cultivate honourable practices for the recompense, and care nothing for virtue that is unrewarded; whereas it has nothing glorious in it if it shows any element of profit. For what is more shameful than for anyone to calculate the value to a man of being good, since Virtue neither invites by the prospect of gain, nor deters by the prospect of loss, and, so far is she from bribing any man with hopes and promises, that, on the contrary, she bids him spend upon her, and is more often found in voluntary contributions. We must go to her, trampling under foot all self-interest; whithersoever she calls, whithersoever she sends us we must go, without any regard for our fortunes, sometimes even without sparing our own blood, and we must never refuse her demands. "And what shall I gain," you ask, "if I do this bravely, if I do it gladly?" Only the gain of having done it - she promises you nothing besides. If you should chance to encounter some profit, count it as something additional. The reward of virtuous acts lies in the acts themselves. If a virtuous act is in itself a desirable end, if, further, a benefit is a virtuous act, it follows that, since they bear the same nature, they cannot be subject to a different condition. But that the virtuous course is in itself a desirable end has been often and abundantly proved.

On this point we Stoics are in arms against the Epicureans, an effeminate, sheltered set, who philosophize over their cups, and hold that Virtue is but the handmaid of Pleasures, that she obeys them, that she is their slave, and sees them enthroned above herself. "There can be no pleasure," you say, "without virtue." But why does it come before virtue? Do you suppose that the question is one of mere precedence? The whole principle and power f virtue are thrown into doubt. Virtue does not exist if it is possible for her to follow; hers is the first place, she must lead, must command, must have the supreme position; you bid her ask for the watchword! "What difference," you say, "does it make? Even I affirm that there can be no happy life without virtue. The very pleasure at which I aim, to which I am enslaved,{freedom+} I disapprove of and condemn if she is banished. The only point in question is whether virtue is the cause of the highest good, or is itself the highest good." Do you suppose that the answer to this question turns upon merely making a shift in the order? It does indeed show confusion and obvious blindness to give preference to last things over first things. But what I protest against is, not that virtue is placed second to pleasure, but that virtue is associated with pleasure at all, for virtue despises pleasure, is its enemy, and recoils from it as far as it can, being more acquainted with labour and sorrow, which are manly ills, than with this womanish good of yours.

It has been needful, my Liberalis, to introduce these considerations here, because the bestowal of the kind of benefit that is now under discussion is a mark of virtue, and to bestow it for any reason other than the mere bestowing of it is a most shameful act. For, if we made contributions with the expectation of receiving a return, we should give, not to the most worthy, but to the richest, men; as it is, we prefer a poor man to an importunate rich man. That is not a benefit which has regard for the fortune of the recipient. Moreover, if it were only self- interest that moved us to help others, those who could most easily dispense benefits, such as the rich and powerful and kings, who need no help from others, would not be under the least obligation to bestow them; nor, indeed, would the gods bestow the countless gifts that, day and night, they unceasingly pour forth, for their own nature is sufficient to them for all their needs, and renders them fully provided and safe and inviolable; they will, therefore, give to no man a benefit if their only motive in bestowing it is a regard for themselves and their own advantage. To take thought, not where you can best place your benefit, but where you can derive the most gain, and from whom you can most readily collect, is to be, not a benefactor, but a money-lender. And, since the gods are far removed from such concern, it follows that they will not be liberal; for, if the only reason for giving a benefit is the advantage of the giver, and if God can hope for no advantage from us, then no motive is found for God's giving a benefit.

I know the answer that can be made to this: "Yes, and therefore God does not give benefits, but, free from all care and unconcerned about us, he turns his back on the world, and either does something else, or that which Epicurus counts supreme happiness - does nothing at all, and benefits no more concern him than injuries." But he who says this does not hearken to the voices of those who pray and of those who all around him, lifting their hands to heaven, offer vows for blessings public and private. Assuredly this would not be the case, assuredly all mortals would not have agreed upon this madness of addressing divinities that were deaf and gods that were ineffectual, unless we were conscious of their benefits that sometimes are presented unasked, sometimes are granted in answer to prayer - great and timely gifts, which by their coming remove grave menaces. And who is so wretched, so uncared for, who has been born to so cruel a destiny and punishment as never to have experienced the great bounty of the gods? Look at those who bemoan and deplore their lot - you will find that even these are not wholly excluded from heavenly benefits, that there is not one to whom some benefit has not trickled from that most bountiful spring. And the gift that at birth is dispensed equally to all - is this too small a thing? Though the fortunes to which we pass in later life are dispensed in unequal measure, was it too small a thing that Nature gave when she gave to us herself? "God gives no benefits," you say. Whence, then, comes all that you possess, all that you give, all that you withhold, all that you hoard, all that you steal? Whence come the countless things that delight your eyes, your ears, your mind? Whence the profusion that supplies even our luxury? For it is not merely our necessities that are provided - we are loved to the point of being spoiled! Whence all the trees yielding their varied fruits, all the healing plants, all the different sorts of foods distributed throughout the whole year, so that even the slothful find sustenance from the chance produce of the earth? Whence, too, the living creatures of every kind, some born upon dry and solid ground, others in the waves, others that descend through the air, in order that every part of Nature's domain might pay to us some tribute? Whence the rivers - these that encircle the fields in loveliest curves, those that, as they flow on in their vast and navigable courses, provide a channel for commerce, some of which in the days of summer undergo a wonderful increase in size in order that, by the sudden overflow of the summer torrent, they may water the parched lands that lie outstretched beneath a burning sky? And what of the springs of healing waters? What of the warm waters that bubble forth upon the very coast of the sea?

And thee, O lordly Larius, and, Benacus, thee,

Rising with a roar of billows like the sea?

If anyone had made vou a gift of but a few acres, you would say that you had received a benefit; and do you say that the illimitable stretches that the earth opens to you are not a benefit? If anyone has presented you with money, and, since this is a great thing in your eyes, has filled your coffer, you will call it a benefit. God has planted in the earth countless mines, has drawn forth from its depths countless rivers that over the lands where they flow carry down gold; silver and copper and iron in huge store have been buried in all places, and he has given to you the means of discovering them by placing upon the surface of the earth the signs of its hidden treasures yet do you say that you have received no benefit? If you should receive the gift of a house that was resplendent with marble and a ceiling gleaming with gold or decked out with colours, you would call it no commonplace gift. God has built for you a huge mansion that need not fear conflagration or ruin, a house in which you see, not flimsy veneers thinner than the very blade by which they are sawn, but virgin masses of most precious stone, whole masses of a substance with such a variety of markings that the tiniest fragments of it fill you with wonder, and a ceiling gleaming in one fashion by night, and in another by day - yet do you say that you have received no gift? And, though you prize greatly these blessings that you possess, do you act the part of an ungrateful man, and consider that you are indebted to no one for them? Whence do you have that breath which you draw? Whence that light by which you distribute and order the acts of your life? Whence the blood that by its circulation maintains the heat of life? Whence those dainties that by rare flavours excite your palate when it is already sated? Whence those provocatives of pleasure when it palls? Whence this repose in which you wither and rot? Will you not, if you are grateful, say i.e., of marble.

A god for us this ease hath wrought. For he

Shall ever be a god indeed to me,

And many a firstling lamb his altar stain From out our flock. You see what boons I gain

My oxen by his bounty roam at will,

While I fond airs upon my pipe can trill?

But God is he who has set free, not a few oxen, but herds throughout the whole earth, who everywhere supplies food to the flocks as they range far and wide, who after pastures of summer has provided pastures of winter, who has not merely taught how to play upon the pipe and to fashion a tune that, rustic and artless as it is, yet shows some regard for form, but has invented countless arts, the countless variations of the voice, the countless tones that will produce melodies, some by the breath of our body, others by the breath of an instrument. For you must not say that whatever we have invented is our own any more than the fact of our growth, or the fact that the behaviour of our body corresponds with the fixed, periods of life; now comes the loss of childhood's teeth, now, as age gradually advances and passes into the hardier stage, puberty and the last tooth that marks the end of the progress of youth. In us are implanted the seeds of all ages, the seeds of all the arts, and it is God, our master, who draws forth from the secret depths of our being our various talents. "It is Nature," you say, "who supplies me with these things." But do you not understand that, when you say this, you merely give another name to to God? For what else is Natuure but God and the Divine Reason that pervades the whole universe and all its parts? {Wordsworth+} You may, as often as you like, address this being who is the author of this world of ours by different names; it will be right for you to call him Jupiter Best and Greatest, and the Thunderer and the Stayer, a title derived, not from the fact that, as the historians have related, the Roman battle-line stayed its flight in answer to prayer, but from the fact that all things are stayed by his benefits, that he is their Stayer and Stabilizer. If likewise you should call him Fate, it would be no falsehood; for, since Fate is nothing but a connected chain of causes, he is the first of all the causes on which the others depend. Any name that you choose will be properly applied to him if it connotes some force that operates in the domain of heaven - his titles may be as countless as are his benefits.

Our school regard him both as Father Liber and as Hercules and as Mercury -Father Liber, because he is the father of all things, he who first discovered the seminal power that is able to subserve life through pleasure; Hercules, because his power is invincible, and, whenever it shall have grown weary with fulfilling its works, shall return into primal fire; Mercury, because to him belong reason and number and order and knowledge. In whatever direction you turn, you will see God coming to meet you; nothing is void of him, he himself fills all his work. {Wordsworth+} For this reason, O most ungrateful of mortals, it is futile for you to say that you are indebted, not to God, but to Nature, for there is no Nature without God, nor God without Nature, but both are the same thing, they differ only in their function. If, having received a gift from Seneca, you were to say that you were indebted to Annaeus or to Lucius,c you would be changing, not your creditor, but his name, for, whether you designated him by his first, his second, or his third name, he would nevertheless be the same person. So, if you like, speak of Nature, Fate, Fortune, but all these are names of the same God, who uses his power in various ways. And justice, honesty, prudence, courage, temperance are the good qualities of only one mind; if you take pleasure in any of these, you take pleasure in that mind.

But, not to be drawn aside into further controversy, God bestows upon us very many and very great benefits, with no thought of any return, since he has no need of having anything bestowed, nor are we capable of bestowing anything on him; consequently, a benefit is something that is desirable in itself. It has in view only the advantage of the recipient; so, putting aside all interests of our own, let us aim solely at this. xxx"Yet you say," someone retorts, "that we ought to take care to select those to whom we would give benefits, since even the farmer does not commit his seeds to sand; but if this is true, then in giving benefits we are seeking our own advantage, just as surely as in ploughing and sowing; for sowing is not something that is desirable in itself. Moreover, you inquire where and how you should bestow a benefit, which there would be no need of doing if giving a benefit is something that is desirable in itself, since, in whatever place and in whatever fashion it was bestowed, it would still be a benefit." But we pursue honour solely for its own sake; yet, even if we should have no other reason for pursuing it, we do inquire what we should do and when and how we should do it; for it is just through these considerations that honour has its being. And so, when I select the person to whom I would give a benefit, I am thinking of this - how and when a gift is a benefit; for if it is given to one who is base, it can be neither an honourable act nor a benefit.

To restore a deposit is something that is desirable in itself; yet I shall not always restore it, nor at every time or in every place. Sometimes it is a matter of indifference whether I deny a deposit or restore it openly. I shall always regard the interest of the one to whom I am intending to restore a deposit, and shall refuse to do so if it will do him harm. I shall proceed in the same way in the matter of a benefit. I shall consider when to give it, to whom to give it, and how and why. For reason should be applied to everything we do and no gift can be a benefit unless it is given with reason, since every virtuous act is accompanied by reason. How often, when men are reproaching themselves for some thoughtless benefaction, do we hear the words : "I would rather have lost it than have given it to him"! Thoughtless benefaction is the most shameful sort of loss, and it is a much greater offence to have ill bestowed a benefit than to have received no return; for it is the fault of another if we have received no return, while, if we did not select the one to whom we were giving, the fault is our own. In making my choice no considerations will influence me so little as the one you suppose - who will be likely to make me some return; for I choose a person who will be grateful, not one who is likely to make a return, and it often happens that the grateful man is one who is not likely to make a return, while the ungrateful man is one who has made a return. It is to the heart that my estimate is directed; consequently I shall pass by the man who, though rich, is unworthy, and shall give to one who, though poor, is good; for he will be grateful in the midst of extreme poverty, and, when he lacks all else, this heart he will still have. It is not gain that I try to get from a benefit, nor pleasure, nor glory; content with giving pleasure to one human being, I shall give with the single purpose of doing what I ought. But I am not without choice in doing what I ought. Do you ask what the nature of this choice will be I shall choose a man who is upright, sincere, mindful, grateful, {integrum+} {simplicem+} {memorem+} {gratum+} keeps his hands from another man's property, who is not greedily attached to his own, who is kind to others; although Fortune may bestow upon him nothing with which be may repay my favour, I shall have accomplished my purpose when I have made choice of such a man. If I am made liberal by self-interest and mean calculation, if my only purpose in doing a service to a man is to have him in turn do a service to me, I shall not give a benefit to one who is setting out for distant and foreign countries, never to return; I shall not give to one who is so ill that he has no hope of recovery; I shall not give when my own health is failing, for I shall have no time to receive a return. And yet, that you may know that generous action is something desirable in itself, the foreigner who has just put into our harbour, and will straightway depart, receives our assistance; to a shipwrecked stranger, in order that he may sail back home, we both give a ship and equip it. He leaves us scarcely knowing who was the author of his salvation, and, expecting never more to see our faces again, he deputes the gods to be our debtors, and prays that they may repay the favour in his stead; meanwhile we rejoice in the consciousness of having given a benefit that will yield no fruit. And tell me, when we have reached the very end of life, and are drawing up our will, do we not dispense benefits that will yield us nothing? How much time is spent, how long do we debate with ourselves to whom and how much we shall give! For what difference does it make to whom we give since no one will make us any return? Yet never are we more careful in our giving, never do we wrestle more in making decisions than when, with all self-interest banished, only the ideal of good remains before our eyes; we are bad judges of our duties only so long as they are distorted by hope and fear and that most slothful of vices,{Hal+} pleasure. But when death has shut off all these, and has brought us to pronounce sentence as incorrupt judges, we search for those who are most worthy to inherit our possessions, and there is nothing that we arrange with more scrupulous care than this which is of no concern to ourselves. Yet, heavens! the great joy that comes to us as we think: "Through me this man will become richer, and I, by increasing his wealth, shall add new lustre to his high position." If we give only when we may expect some return, we ought to die intestate!

"You say," someone retorts, "a benefit is a loan that cannot be repaid; but a loan is not something that is desirable in itself." {Polonius+} When I use the term "loan," I resort to a figure, a metaphor; for in the same way I can also say that a law is the measure of justice and injustice, and a measure is not something desirable in itself. We resort to such terms for the purpose of making something clear; when I say a "loan," a quasi-loan is understood. Do you wish to know the difference? I add the words "that cannot be repaid," whereas every true loan either can or ought to be repaid. So far from its being right for us to give a benefit from a motive of self-interest, often, as I have said, the giving of it must involve one's own loss and risk. For instance, I come to the rescue of a man who has been surrounded by robbers although I am at liberty to pass by in safety. By defending an accused man, who is battling with privilege, I turn against.myself a clique of powerful men, and shall be forced perhaps by the same accusers to put on the mourning that I have removed from him, although I might take the other side, and look on in safety at struggles that do not concern me; I go bail for a man who has been condemned, and, when a friend's goods are put up for sale, I quash the indictment, and shall probably make myself responsible for what he owes to his creditors; in order to save a proscribed person, I myself run the risk of proscription.

No one, when he wishes to acquire an estate at Tusculum or at Tibur because of their healthfulness and the retreat they afford in summer, stops to consider at how many years' purchase he is going to buy; when once he has bought it, he must look after it. In the case of a benefit the same principle applies; for, when you ask me what the return will be, I answer, "the reward of a good conscience." What return does one have from a benefit? Do you, pray, tell me what return one has from justice, from innocence, from greatness of soul, {magnitudo_animi+} from chastity, from temperance; if you seek for anything besides the virtues themselves, it is not the virtues themselves that you seek. To what end does heaven perform its revolutions? To what end does the sun lengthen and shorten the day? These are all benefits, for they take place in order to work good to us. Just as it is the office of heaven to perform its revolutions in the fixed order of Nature, and that of the sun to shift the points at which it rises and sets, and to do these things that are serviceable to us without any reward, so it is the duty of man, amongst other things, to give also benefits. Why, then, does he give? For fear that he should fail to give, for fear that he should lose an opportunity of doing good. {giving_motive+} You count it pleasure to surrender your miserable body to sluggish ease, to court a repose that differs not much from sleep, to lurk in a covert of thick shade and beguile the lethargy of a languid mind with the most delicate thoughts, which you call tranquillity, and in the secret retreats of your gardens to stuff with food and drink your bodies that are pallid from inaction; we count it pleasure to give benefits, even at the price of labour, if only they will lighten the labours of others, even at the price of danger, if only they will extricate others from dangers, even at the expense of burdening our budgets, if only they will relieve the needs and distresses of others. What difference does it make whether my benefits are returned? Even after they have been returned, they must be given again. A benefit views the interest, not of ourselves, but of the one upon whom it is bestowed; otherwise, it is to ourselves that we give it. And so many services that confer the utmost advantage on others lose claim to gratitude because they are paid for. The trader renders service to cities, the physician to the sick, the slave-monger to those he sells; but all these, because they arrive at the good of others through seeking their own, do not leave those whom they serve under any obligation. That which has gain as its object cannot be a benefit. "I shall give so much and get so much in return " is pure barter.

I should not call that woman chaste who repulses a lover in order to inflame him, who is afraid either of the law or of her husband. As Ovid puts it:

She who sinned not because she could not - sinned. A woman who owes her chastity, not to herself, but to fear, is very rightly put in the class of sinners. In the same way, he who has given a benefit in order that he may get something back has really not given it. At this rate, we also give a benefit to the animals that we rear in order that they may provide us either with service or with food! We give a benefit to the orchards that we tend in order that they may not suffer from drought or the hardness of untilled and neglected ground. But it is not justice nor goodness that moves anyone to cultivate a field, or to perform any act that involves some reward apart from the act itself. The motive that leads to the giving of a benefit is not greedy nor mean, but is humane and generous, a desire to give even when one has already given, and to add new and fresh gifts to old ones, having as its sole aim the working of as much good as it can for him upon whom it bestows; whereas it is a contemptible act, without praise and without glory, to do anyone a service because it is to our own interest. What nobleness is there in loving oneself, in sparing oneself, in getting gain for oneself? The true desire of giving a benefit summons us away from all these motives, and, laying hand upon us, forces us to put up with loss, and, forgoing self-interest, finds its greatest joy in the mere act of doing good.

Can there be any doubt that the opposite of a benefit is an injury? Just as doing an injury is something that in itself must be avoided and shunned, so giving a benefit is something that is desirable in itself. In one case, the baseness of the action outweighs all the rewards that urge us to the crime, in the other, we are incited to the action by the idea of virtue, which is in itself a powerful incentive. I shall not be guilty of misstatement if I say that everyone takes delight in the benefits he does, that everyone is so disposed that he is made more happy by seeing the one upon whom he has heaped benefits, that everyone finds in the fact of having given one benefit a reason for giving a second one. And this would not happen if the benefits themselves were not the source of his pleasure. How often will you hear a man say: "I cannot bear to desert him, for I have given him his life, I have rescued him from peril. He now begs me to plead his cause against men of influence; I do not want to, but what can I do? I have already helped him once, no, twice." Do you not see that there is, inherent in the thing itself, some peculiar power that compels us to give benefits, first, because we ought, then, because we have already given them? Though in the beginning we may have had no reason for bestowing anything upon a man, we continue to bestow because we have already bestowed; and so untrue is it that we are moved to give benefits from a motive of profit, that we persist in maintaining and cherishing those that are unprofitable, solely from an affection for the benefit, to which, even though it has been unfortunately placed, we show indulgence as naturally as we might to children who misbehave. These same opponents a admit that they themselves return gratitude, yet not because it is right, but because it is expedient. But to prove that this is false is an easier task, because the same arguments by which we have established that to give a benefit is something that is desirable in itself establish this also. The one fixed principle from which we proceed to the proof of other points is that the honourable is cherished for no other reason than because it is honourable+. Who, therefore, will dare to raise the question whether it is honourable to be grateful? Who does not loathe the ungrateful man, a person who is unprofitable even to himself? And tell me, when you hear it said of someone: "He is ungrateful for very great benefits," what are your feelings? Is it as though he had done something base, or as though he had omitted to do something that was expedient and likely to be profitable to himself? I imagine you count him a worthless fellow, who should have, not a guardian, but punishment; but this would not be the case unless to be grateful were something that is desirable in itself and honourable. Other qualities, perhaps, manifest their worth less clearly, and, in order to decide whether they are honourable, we need an interpreter. This one is open to the view, and is too beautiful to have its glory dimmed or obscured. What is so praiseworthy, upon what are all our minds so uniformly agreed, as the repayment of good services with gratitude? Tell me, what is the motive that leads to this? Gain? But he who does not scorn gain is ungrateful. Vainglory? And what is there to boast about in having paid what you owe? Fear? The ungrateful man has none; for this is the only crime for which we have provided no law, on the theory that Nature has taken sufficient precautions against it. Just as there is no law that bids us love our parents or indulge our children, for it is useless to push us in the direction in which we are already going, just as no one needs to be urged to self- love, which seizes him even while he is being born, so, too, there is none for this, no law that bids us seek the honourable in and for itself; it pleases us by its very nature, and so attractive is virtue that even the wicked instinctively approve of the better course. Who is there who does not wish to seem beneficent? who,even in the midst of his crimes and injuries, does not aspire to a reputation for goodness? who does not clothe even his most violent acts with some semblance of righteousness, and wish to have the appearance of having given a benefit even to those whom he has injured? {evilasgood+} And so men suffer those whom they have ruined to render them thanks, and they make a pretence of being good and generous because they are not able to, prove themselves so. But they would not do this unless the love of what is right and desirable in itself forced them to seek a reputation at variance with their characters, and conceal the wickedness, which they regard with hatred and shame, while they covet its fruits; no one has ever so far revolted from Nature's law and put aside humanity as to be evil for the pleasure of it. {Iago+} For ask any of the men who live by robbery whether they would not prefer to attain by honourable means the things that they get by brigandage and theft. The man who gets his living by highway robbery and by murdering travellers will desire rather to find his booty than to snatch it; you will discover no one who would not prefer to enjoy the rewards of wickedness without the wickedness. Of all the benefits that we have from Nature this is the greatest, the fact that Virtue causes her light to penetrate into the minds of all; even those who do not follow her see her.

To prove to you that the sentiment of gratitude is something to be desired in itself, ingratitude is something to be avoided in itself because there is nothing that so effectually disrupts and destroys the harmony of the human race as this vice. For how else do we live in security if it is not that we help each other by an exchange of good offices? It is only through the interchange of benefits that life becomes in some measure equipped and fortified against sudden disasters. Take us singly, and what are we? The prey of all creatures, their victims, whose blood is most delectable and most easily secured. For, while other creatures possess a strength that is adequate for their self-protection, and those that are born to be wanderers and to lead an isolated life have been given weapons, the covering of man is a frail skin; no might of claws or of teeth makes him a terror to others, naked and weak as he is, his safety lies in fellowship. {social_animal+}

God has given to him two things, reason and fellowship, which, from being a creature at the mercy of others, make him the most powerful of all; and so he who, if he were isolated, could be a match for none is the master of the world. Fellowship has given to him dominion over all creatures; fellowship, though he was begotten upon the land, has extended his sovereignty to an element not his own, and has bidden him be lord even upon the sea; it is this that has checked the assaults of disease, has made ready supports for old age, has provided solace for sorrow; it is this that makes us brave, this that we may invoke as a help against Fortune. Take away this fellowship, and you will sever the unity of the human race on which its very existence depends; yet you will take it away if you succeed in proving that ingratitude is to be avoided, not because of itself, but because it has something to fear; for how many there are who might safely be ungrateful! In fine, any man who is made grateful by fear I call ungrateful.

No sane man fears the gods; for it is madness to fear what is beneficial, and no one loves those whom he fears. You, Epicurus, in the end leave God unarmed, you have stripped him of all his weapons, of all his power, and, in order that no one may have need to fear him, you have thrust him beyond the range of fear. Surrounded, therefore, as he is, by a vast and impassable wall, and removed beyond the reach and sight of mortals, you have no reason to stand in awe of him; he has no means of bestowing either blessing or injury; in the space that separates our own from some other heaven a he dwells alone, without a living creature, without a human being, without a possession, and avoids the destruction of the worlds that crash around and above him, having no ear for our prayers and no concern for us. And yet you wish to seem to worship this being, from a feeling of gratitude, I suppose, as if he were a father; or, if you do not wish to seem grateful, because you have from him not a single benefit, but are yourself merely a combination of atoms and of those mites of yours that have met blindly and by chance, why do you worship him? "Because of his glorious majesty," you say and his exceptional nature." Granting that you do this, you clearly do it without the inducement of any reward, of any expectation; there is, therefore, something that is desirable in itself, whose very worth induces you, that is, the honourable. {honestum+} But what is more honourable than gratitude? The opportunity for this virtue is limited only by life. "Bnbsp; "But this good," you say, "has in it also some element of profit." What virtue, indeed, has not? But that is said to be desired because of itself which, although it possesses some outside advantages, still pleases even when these have been stripped of and removed. There is advantage in being grateful; yet I shall be grateful even if it harms me. And what is the aim of one who is grateful? Is it that his gratitude may win for him more friends, more benefits? What, then, if a man is likely to arouse disfavour by it, if a man knows that, so far from being likely to gain anything by it, he must lose much from the store that he has already acquired, does he not gladly submit to his losses? He is ungrateful who in the act of repaying gratitude has an eye on a second gift -who hopes while he repays. I call him ungrateful who sits at the bedside of a sick man because he is going to make his will, who finds room for an thought of an inheritance or a legacy. Though he should do everything that a good and thoughtful friend ought to do, if his mind is haunted by the hope of gain, he is only a fisher for legacies an is just dropping his hook. As birds of prey that feed upon carcasses keep watch near by the flocks that are spent with disease and are ready to drop, so such a man gloats over a death-bed and hovers about the corpse.

But the grateful heart is attracted by the very excellence of its purpose. Do you wish proof that this is so, and that it is not corrupted by the idea of profit? There are two classes of grateful men. One man is said to be grateful because he has made return for something that he received; he, perhaps,is able to make himself conspicuous, has something to boast about, something to publish. He, too, is said to be grateful who has accepted a benefit in good spirit, who owes in good spirit; this man keeps his gratitude shut up in his heart. What profit can he gain from this hidden feeling? Yet such a man, even if he is able to do no more than this, is grateful. He loves, is conscious of his debt, desires to repay the favour; whatever else you may find wanting, nothing is wanting in the man himself. A man may be an artist even if he does not have at hand the tools for practising his craft, nor is one less a trained singer if the noise of those who are crying him down does not permit his voice to be heard. I wish to repay a favour: after this something is left for me to do, not in order to become grateful, but in order to become free; for it often happens that he who has repaid a favour is ungrateful, and he who has not repaid it is grateful. For, as in the case of all the others, the true estimate of this virtue is concerned wholly with the heart; if this does its duty, whatever else is lacking is the fault of Fortune. Just as a man can be fluent in speech even if he is silent, brave even if his hands are folded, or even tied, just as a man can be a pilot even when he is on dry land, since there is no deficiency in the completeness of his knowledge even though something prevents him from using it, so also a man is grateful who only wishes to be so, and has none besides himself to bear witness to this desire. And I will go even further than this - sometimes a man is grateful even when he appears to be ungrateful, when rumour with its evil tongue has given the opposite report of him. What guide has this man but his own conscience? Crushed though it be, this gives him cheer, this cries out against the mob and hearsay, and relies wholly upon itself, and, when it sees the vast crowd of those on the other side who think differently, it does not take trouble to count votes, but wins the victory by its single vote. If it sees its own loyalty subjected to the chastisements reserved for treachery, it does not descend from its pinnacle, but abides there superior to its punishment. "I have," it says, "what I wished, what I strove for; I do not regret it, nor shall I ever regret it, and no injustice of Fortune shall ever bring me to such a pass that she will hear me say: 'What was it I wished? What profit have I now from my good intention?'" I have profit even on the rack, I have profit even in the fire; though fire should devour my limbs one by one, and gradually encircle my living body, though my very heart, brimming with conscious virtue, should drip with blood, it will delight in the flame through which its loyalty will shine forth.

The following argument also, although it has already been used, may be reapplied here: why is it that we wish to be grateful at the hour of death, that we carefully weigh the services of each one, that, with memory as judge of the whole of our life, we try to avoid the appearance of having forgotten the service of any? Nothing then is left for us to hope for; nevertheless, as we pause upon the threshwold, e wish to appear as grateful as possible at the time of our departure from human affairs. It is evident that the great reward for an action lies in the deed itself, and that virtue has great power in influencing the minds of men, for souls are flooded with its beauty, and, marvelling at the brilliance and splendour of it, are transported with enchantment. "But there are many advantages," you say, "that spring from it; good men live in greater security, and have the love and respect of good men, and existence is less troubled when accompanied by innocence and gratitude." Nature would, indeed, have been most unjust if she had made so great a good an unhappy and uncertain and unfruitful thing. But the point to consider is whether you would turn your steps toward this virtue, which often is reached by a safe and easy way, even though the path lay over rocks and precipices, and was beset with wild beasts and serpents. It is not true, therefore, that that which has also some extraneous profit closely attached to it is not something to be desired in itself; for in most cases the things that are most beautiful are accompanied by many accessory advantages, but they follow in the train of beauty while she leads the way. Does anyone doubt that the sun and the moon in their periodic revolutions exercise an influence upon this abiding-place of the human race? That the heat of the one gives life to our bodies, loosens the hard earth, reduces excessive moisture, and breaks off the bonds of gloomy winter that enchains all things, while the warmth of the other with its efficacious and pervasive power dtermines the ripening of the crops? That there is some relation between human fecundity and the course of the moon? That the one by its circuit marks out the year, and the other, moving in a smaller orbit, the month? Yet, although these advantages should be removed, would not the sun itself form a fitting spectacle for our eyes, and be worthy of our adoration if it merely passed across the sky? Would not the moon be a sight worthy of our eyes even if it traversed heaven as idly as a star? And the firmament itself - who is not held spellbound by it whenever it pours forth its fires by night and glitters with its horde of countless stars? Who, when he marvels at them, stops to think of their utility to himself? Behold the mighty company as it glides by overhead, how, under the appearance of an organism that is immovable and at rest, its members conceal from us their speed. How much takes place in that night of which we take note only for the purpose of numbering and distinguishing the days! What a multitude of events is being unrolled beneath this silence! What a chain of destiny is being traced by their unerring path! These bodies, which you imagine have been strewn about for no other purpose than for ornament, are one and all at work. For there is no reason why you should suppose that there are only seven wandering stars, and that all the others are fixed; there are a few whose movements we apprehend, but, farther removed from our sight, are countless divinities a that go their rounds, and very many of those that our eyes can reach proceed at an imperceptible pace and veil their movements. Tell me, would you not be captivated by the sight of such a mighty structure even if it did not cover you, guard you, cherish you and give vou birth, and permeate you with its spirit? As the heavenly bodies have primarily their use, and are necessary and vital to us, while it is their majesty that wholly occupies our minds, so virtue in general, and particularly that of gratitude, while it does indeed bestow much upon us, does not wish to be cherished because of this; it has in it something more, and he who counts it merely among the useful things has not properly comprehended it. Is a man grateful because it is to his advantage? Accordingly, also,to the extent that it is to his advantage? But Virtue does not open her door to a niggardly lover; he must come to her with an open purse. It is the ungrateful man who thinks: "I should have liked to return gratitude, but I fear the expense, I fear the danger, I shrink from giving offence; I would rather consult my own interest." It is not possible to render men grateful and ungrateful by the same line of reasoning; as their actions are different, their intentions are different. The one is ungrateful, although he ought not to be, because it is to his interest; the other is grateful, although it is not to his interest, because he ought to be. It is our aim to live according to Nature, and to follow the example of the gods. Yet, in all their acts, what inducement have the gods other than the very principle of action? Unless perchance you suppose that they obtain a reward for their deeds from the smoke of burnt offerings and the odour of incense! See the gigantic efforts they make every day, the great largesses they dispense; with what wealth of crops they fill the land, with what favourable winds that bear us to all shores they ruffle the seas, with what mighty rains, suddenly hurled down, they soften the soil, renew the dried sources of springs, and, flooding them with secret nourishment, give them new life! They do all these things without any reward, without attaining any advantage for themselves. Our rule also, if it would not depart from its model, should observe this principle of never proceeding to virtuous acts for pay. We should be ashamed to set a price on any benefit whatsoever - the gods are ours for nothing! {natureaccordingto}

"If you are imitating the gods," you say, "then bestow benefits also upon the ungrateful; for the sun rises also upon the wicked, and the sea lies open also to pirates." This point raises the question whether a good man would bestow a benefit upon one who was ungrateful, knowing that he was ungrateful. Permit me here to put in a brief remark for fear that we may be trapped by the tricky question. Understand that, according to the system of the Stoics, there are two classes of ungrateful persons. One man is ungrateful because he is a fool+; a fool is also a bad man a because he is a bad man, he possesses every vice: therefore he is also ungrateful. Thus we say that all bad men are intemperate, greedy, voluptuous, and spiteful, not because every individual has all these vices in a great or marked degree, but because he is capable of having them; and he does have them even if they are not visible. Another man is ungrateful, and this is the common meaning of the term, because he has a natural tendency to this vice. To an ingrate of the first type, the man who possesses this fault for the reason that there is no fault that he does not possess, a good man will give his benefit; for, if he were to eliminate all such men, there would be no one to whom he could give. To the ingrate of the second type, the man who in the matter of benefits shows himself a cheat, and has a natural bent in this direction, he will no more give a benefit than he will lend money to a spendthrift, or entrust a deposit to a man whom many have already found false. There is the man who is called timid because he is a fool; and because of this he is classed with the bad men who are beset by all vices without distinction and without exception. But, strictly speaking, a timid man is one who because of a natural weakness grows alarmed even at unmeaning noises. The fool possesses all vices, but he is not inclined by nature to all; one man inclines to greed, another to luxury, another to insolence. Therefore it is a mistake for persons to put such questions as these to the Stoics: "Tell me, is Achilles timid? Tell me, is Aristides, whose name stood for justice, unjust? Tell me, is even Fabius, who retrieved the situation by his delays," rash? Tell me, is Decius afraid of death? Mucius a traitor? Camillus a deserter?" We do not say that all men possess all vices in the same way in which certain men display particular vices, but that the bad and foolish man is not exempt from any vice; we do not acquit even the bold man of fear, nor absolve even the spendthrift from avarice. Just as a man has all the five senses, and yet all men do not for that reason have as keen sight as Lynceus so, if a man is a fool, he does not possess all the vices in the same active and vigorous form in which some persons possess some of them. All the vices exist in all men, yet not all are equally prominent in each individual. This man's nature impels him to greed; this one is a victim of wine, this one of lust, or, if he is not yet a victim, he is so constituted that his natural impulses lead him in this direction.

And so, to return to my original proposition, everyone who is bad is ungrateful, for he has in him all the seeds of wrongdoing; yet, strictly speaking, the man who is termed ungrateful is one who has a bent toward this vice. To such a man, consequently, I shall not give a benefit. As a father who betroths his daughter to an overbearing man who has been often divorced will disregard her best interests, as he who entrusts the care of his patrimony to one who has been condemned for the bad management of his affairs will be considered a poor head of a household, as it will be the veriest madness for a man to make a will naming as the guardian of his son one who is known to be a robber of wards, so he will be counted the worst of benefactors who chooses ungrateful persons in order to bestow upon them gifts that are doomed to perish. "Even the gods," you say, "confer many blessings upon the ungrateful." But they designed them for the good; yet the bad also share in them because they cannot be separated from the others. It is better, too, to benefit also the bad for the sake of the good than to fail the good for the sake of the bad. So the blessings you cite - the day, the sun, the succession of summer and winter and the intermediate seasons of spring and autumn with their milder temperature, rains and springs to drink from, and winds that blow in fixed season - these the gods have devised for the good of all; they could not make an exception of individuals. A king gives honours to the worthy, but largesses even to the unworthy; the thief no less than the perjurer and the adulterer and everyone, without distinction of character, whose name appears on the register receives grain from the state; whatever else a man may be, he gets his dole, not because he is good; but because he is a citizen, and the good and the bad share alike. God also has given certain gifts to the whole human race, and from these no man is shut out. For, while it was to the common good that traffic in the sea should be open to all, and that the kingdom of mankind should be enlarged, it was impossible to cause the same wind to be favourable for the good and adverse for the bad; nor was it possible to appoint a law for the fall of the rains in order that they might not descend upon the fields of wicked and dishonest men. Certain blessings are offered to all. Cities are founded as much for the bad as for the good; works of genius, even if they will fall into the hands of the unworthy, are published for everybody; medicine points out its healing power even to criminals; no one has banned the compounding of wholesome remedies for fear that they may heal the unworthy. In the case of the gifts that are specifically bestowed because the recipient is worthy, apply the rule of censorship and of rating the person, but not so in the case of those that are open to the mob. There is a great difference between not excluding a man and choosing him. Justice is vouchsafed even to the thief; even murderers taste the blessings of peace; those who have stolen the property of others even recover their own; assassins and those who ply their swords on the city streets are protected from the public enemy by the city wall; the laws shield with their protection those who have sinned most against them. There are certain blessings that could not have fallen to a few unless they were given to all; there is no need, therefore, for you to argue about the benefits to which we have received a public invitation. But that which must go to a beneficiary of my own choosing will not be given to a man whom I know to be ungrateful. xxx"Will vou, then," you ask, "neither give counsel to an ungratefull man when he is perplexed, nor permit him to have a drink of water, nor point out the path to him if he has lost his way? Or will you do all these services, and yet not be making a gift?" Here I shall draw a distinction, or at least endeavour to do so. A benefit is a useful service, but not every useful service is a benefit; for some services are too small to have the right to be called benefits. In order to produce a benefit, there must be a combination of two conditions. The first is the importance of the service; for there are some that fall short of the dignity of the claim. Who ever called a morsel of bread a benefit, or tossing anyone a copper, or enabling, him to get a light? And sometimes these are more helpful than very large gifts; yet, for all that, their cheapness detracts from their value even when the necessity of the moment has made them necessities. A second condition, which is most important, that must supplement the other, is that the motive of my action must be the interest of the one for whom the benefit is destined, that I should deem him worthy of it, should bestow it willingly and derive pleasure from my gift; but none of those services of which we were just speaking bears any of these marks, for we bestow them, not with the thought that the recipients are worthy, but carelessly and as mere trifles, and our gift is made, not so much to a man, as to humanity. I shall not deny that sometimes I shall give even to the unworthy in order to do honour to others; as, for instance, in the competition for public office some of the most disreputable men are preferred to others who are industrious, but of no family, by reason of their noble birth, and not without reason. For sacred is the memory of great virtues, and more people find pleasure in being good, if the influence of good men does not end with their lives. To what did Cicero's son owe the consulship if not to his father? What recently took Cinna from the camp of the enemy, and raised him to the consulship, what Sextus Pompeius and the other Pompeii, unless it was the greatness of one man, who once reached such a height that even his downfall sufficed to exalt all his descendants? What recently made Fabius Persicus a priest in more than one college, a man whose kiss even the shameless counted an insult? What but a Verrucosus and an Allobrogicus and the famous three hundred, who, to save their country, blocked the invasion of the enemy with their single family? This is the duty we owe to the virtuous - to honour them, not only when they are present with us, but even when they have been taken from our sight; as they have made it their aim, not to confine their services to one age alone, but to leave behind their benefits even after they themselves have passed away, so let us not confine our gratitude to one age alone. So-and-so was the father of great men: whatever he may be, he is worthy of our benefits; he has given us worthy sons. So-and-so is descended from glorious ancestors: whatever he may be, let him find refuge under the shadow of his ancestry. As filthy places become bright from the radiance of the sun, so let the degenerate shine in the light of their forefathers.

At this point, Liberalis, I wish to offer a defence of the gods. For sometimes we are moved to say: "What could Providence mean by putting on the throne an Arrhidaeus?" Was it to him, think you, that the honour was accorded? It was accorded to his father and to his brother. "Why did it make Gaius Caesar the ruler of the world? - a man so greedy of human blood that he ordered it to be shed in his presence as freely as if he intended to catch the stream in his mouth!" But tell me, do you think that it was to him this was accorded? It was accorded to his father Germanicus, to his grandfather and to his great- grandfather, and to others before them, men who were no less glorious, even if they passed their lives as private citizens on a footing of equality with others. Why, when you yourself were supporting Mamercus Scaurus for the consulship, were you not aware that he would try to catch in his open mouth the menstrual discharge of his own maidservants? Did he himself make any mystery of it? Did he wish to appear to be decent? I will repeat to you a story that he told on himself - it went the rounds, I recall, and was recounted in his presence. To Annius Pollio who was lying down he had proposed, using an obscene word, an act that he was more ready to submit to, and when he saw Pollio frown, he added; "If there is anything bad in what I have said, may it fall upon me and my head!" This story he used to tell against himself. Is it this man, so openly obscene, that you have admitted to the fasces and the tribunal? Of course it was while you were thinking of the great old Scaurus, who was president of the senate, and chafing to see his offspring obscure!

The gods, it is probable, act in the same manner–some are treated with more indulgence because of their parents and ancestors, others because of their grandchildren and great- grandchildren and the long line of their descendants, whose qualities are as yet unrevealed; for the gods know well the complete evolution of their work, and the knowledge of all that will hereafter pass through their hands is always to them clearly revealed. The events that appear suddenly to us out of the unkdown, and all that we count unexpected are to them familiar happenings, long foreseen. {Pope+}

God says Let these men be kings {Divine_Right+} because their forefathers have not been, because they have regarded justice and unselfishness as their highest authority, because, instead of sacrificing the state to themselves, they have sacrificed themselves to the state.{Civic_Duty+} Let these others reign, because some one of their grandsires before them was a good man who displayed a soul superior to Fortune, who, in times of civil strife, preferred to be conquered than to conquer, because in this way he could serve the interest of the state. Despite the long lapse of time, it has not been possible to pay to him the debt of gratitude; out of regard for him, now let this other rule over the people, not because he has the knowledge or the ability, but because another has served in his place. This one is deformed in body, hideous in aspect, and will bring ridicule upon the insignia of his office; then men will blame me, they will say that I am blind and rash, that I little know what disposition I am making of honours that are due to none but the greatest and loftiest of men; yet I am well aware that I am making this gift to one man, and thereby paying an ancient debt to another. How can these critics know that hero of old, who persistently fled from the glory that followed him, who, going into danger, had the air that others show when they return from danger, who never separated his own interest from that of the state? 'Where,' you ask, 'is this man, or who is he?' But how could you know these things? It is for me to balance the debits and credits of such accounts, I know what and to whom I owe. Some I repay after a long term, others in advance, and according as opportunity and the resources of my governance permit." Consequently, I, too, shall sometimes bestow certain gifts on an ungrateful man, but not because of the man himself.

"Tell me," you say, "if you do not know whether a man is grateful or ungrateful, will you wait until you do know, or will you refuse to lose the opportunity of giving a benefit? To wait is a long matter, - for, as Plato says, the human heart is hard to divine, - not to wait hazardous." Our answer to this will be that we never wait for absolute certainty, since the discovery of truth is difficult, but follow the path that probable truth shows. All the business of life proceeds in this way. It is thus that we sow, that we sail the sea, that we serve in the army, that we take wives, that we rear children ; since in all these actions the issue is uncertain, we follow the course that we believe offers the hope of success. For who will promise to the sower a harvest, to the sailor a port, to the soldier a victory, to a husband a chaste wife, to a father dutiful children? We follow, not where truth, but where reason, directs us. If you wait to do only what is assured of success and to have only the knowledge that comes from ascertained truth, all activity is given up, and life comes to a halt. Since it is, not truth, but the probable truth, that impels me in one direction or another, I shall give my benefit to the man who in all probability will be grateful.

"Many circumstances," you say, "will arise that will enable a bad man to steal into the place of a good one, and the good man will lose favour instead of the bad one; for appearances are deceptive, and it is these we trust." Who denies it? Yet I find nothing else from which to form an opinion. These are the footprints I must follow in my search for truth, I have nothing that is more trustworthy; I shall take pains to consider these with all possible care, and shall not be hasty in granting my assent. For the same thing may happen in battle, and my hand, deceived by some mistake, may direct my weapon against a comrade, and spare an enemy as though he were a friend; but this will happen but rarely, and from no fault of my own, for my intention is to smite the enemy, and to defend my countryman. If I know that a man is ungrateful, I shall not give him a benefit. Yet if he has tricked me, if he has imposed upon me, no blame attaches to the giver because I made the gift supposing that the man would be grateful.

"Suppose," you say, "that you have promised to give a benefit, and later have discovered that the man is ungrateful, will you or will you not bestow it? If you do so knowinlylv you do wrong, for you give to one to whom vou ought not to give; if you refuse, you likewise do wrong - you do not give to one to whom you promised to give. This case would upset your conscience and your proud assurance that the wise man never regrets his action, or amends what he has done, or changes his purpose." The wise man does not change his purpose if the situation remains as it was when he formed it; he is never filled with regret because at the time nothing better could have been done than was done, no better decision could have been made than was made; yet all that he undertakes is subject to the reservation: "If nothing happens to prevent." If we say that all his plans prosper, and that nothing happens contrary to his expectation, it is because he has presupposed that something might happen to thwart his designs. It is the imprudent man who is confident that Fortune is plighted to himself; the wise man envisages her in both of her aspects; he knows how great is the chance of mistake, how uncertain are human affairs, how many obstacles block the success of our plans; he follows alert the doubtful and slippery course of chance, weighs uncertain outcome against his certainty of purpose. But the reservation without which he makes no plan, undertakes nothing, protects him here also. I have promised a benefit in case nothing occurs to show that I ought not to give it. For what if my country should bid me give to her what I have promised to another? What if a law should be passed, forbidding anyone to do what I had promised that I would do for my friend? Suppose I have promised you my daughter in marriage, but find out later that you are not a citizen; I have no right to contract a marriage with a foreigner; the same circumstance that forbids it provides my defence. Only then shall I be breaking faith, only then shall I listen to a charge of inconstancy, if I fail to fulfil a promise though all the circumstances remain the same as they were when I made my promise; otherwise, any chance that takes place gives me the liberty of revising my decision, and frees me from my pledge. Suppose I have promised my legal assistance, but afterwards discover that a precedent was being sought from that case to harm my father; suppose I have promised that I will go abroad, but word is brought that the way is beset with robbers; suppose I was about to go to keep an appointment, but am detained by the illness of my son or by my wife's confinement. If you are to hold me to the fulfilment of my promise+ all the circumstances must remain the same as they were when I promised; but what greater change can there be than my discovery that you are a bad and ungrateful man? I shall refuse to an unworthy man what I was willing to give to him supposing him to be worthy, and I shall even have reason to be angry because I was deceived.

Nevertheless I shall also examine into the value of the gift in question; for the amount of the sum promised will help my decision. If it is a trifle, I shall give it to you, not because you deserve it, but because I have promised, and I shall not count it as a gift, but shall keep my word, and give my ear a twitch. I shall punish my rashness in promising by suffering loss: "You see how sorry you are for yourself; next time take more care before you speak!" As the saying is, I shall pay for my tongue. If the amount is a larger one, "I shall not," as Maecenas puts it, "let my punishment cost me ten million sesterces." For I shall match the two sides of the question one against the other. There is something in abiding by what you have promised; on the other hand, there is much in the principle of not bestowing a benefit on one who is unworthy. Yet how great is this benefit? If it is a slight one, let us wink at it; if, however, it is likely to cause me either great loss or shame, should rather excuse myself once for having refused it than ever afterward for having given it. It all depends, I say, upon how much value I attach to the letter of my promise. I shall not only keep back what I have rashly promised, but shall demand back what I have wrongly given. The man is mad who keeps a promise that was a mistake.

Philip, king of the Macedonians, had a soldier who was a valiant fighter, and, having found his services useful in many campaigns, he had from time to time presented him with some of the booty as a reward for his prowess, and, by his repeated bounties, was exciting the venal spirit of the man. Once after being shipwrecked he was cast ashore upon the estate of a certain Macedonian; this one, when he heard the news, rushed to his help, resuscitated his breath, brought him to his farmhouse, surrendered to him his bed, restored him from a weak and half- dead condition to new life, cared for him for thirty days at his own expense, put him upon his feet, provided him with money for his journey, and heard him say over and over: "I will; how you my gratitude if only I have the good fortune to see my commander." To Philip he gave an account of his shipwreck, but said nothing of the help he had received, and promptly asked Philip to present him with a certain man's estate. The man was, in fact, his host, the very one who had rescued him, who had restored him to health. Kings sometimes, especially in time of war, make many gifts with their eyes closed. "One just man is no match for so many armed men fired with greed, it is not possible for any mortal to be a good man and a good general at the same time. How will he satiate so many thousands of insatiable men? What will they have if every man has only what is his own? So Philip communed with himself as he gave order that the soldier should be put in possession of the property he asked for. The other, however, when he was expelled from his property, did not, like a peasant, endure his wrong in silence, thankful that he himself had not been included in the present, but wrote a concise and outspoken letter to Philip. Upon receiving this, Philip was so enraged that he immediately ordered Pausanias to restore the property to its former owner, and, besides, to brand that most dishonourable of soldiers, most ungrateful of guests, most greedy of shipwrecked men with letters showing him to be an ungrateful person. He, indeed, deserved, not merely to be branded with those letters, but to have them carved in his flesh - a man who had cast out his own host to lie like a naked and shipwrecked sailor upon that shore on which he himself had lain. But we shall heed within what limits the punishment ought to be kept; he had, in any case, to be deprived of what he had seized with the utmost villainy. Yet who would be moved by his punishment? He had committed a crime which could stir no pitiful heart to pity him.

Will a Philip give to you because he promised, even at the price of sacrificing duty, even at the price of committing an injustice, even at the price of committing a crime, even at the price of closing all shores to the shipwrecked by this one act? There is no fickleness in leaving a wrong course when it has been recognized as such and condemned, and we must confess frankly: "I thought it was different, I have been deceived." It is but the stubbornness of foolish pride to declare: "What I have once said, be it what it may, shall remain fixed and unaltered." There is nothing wrong in changing a plan when the situation is changed. Tell me, if Philip had left the soldier in possession of the shores that he had obtained by shipwreck, is it not true that he would thereby have cut off all unfortunates from fire and water? "Rather do you," he said, "within the bounds of my kingdom carry everywhere upon your most brazen brow these letters that ought to be stamped upon all men's eyes. Go, show how sacred a thing is the table of hospitality; display upon your countenance that decree, for all to read, which keeps it from being a capital crime to shelter the unfortunate beneath one's roof! This ordinance will thus have more authority than if I had engraved it upon bronze." "Why, then," you say, "did your master Zeno, when he had promised a loan of five hundred denarii to a man, and had himself discovered that he was an altogether unsuitable person, persist in making the loan because he had promised it, although his friends advised him not to give it?" In the first place, one set of terms applies to a loan, another to a benefit. It is possible to recall money even if it has been badly placed; I can summon a debtor to pay on a given date, and, if he has gone bankrupt, I shall get my share; but a benefit is lost wholly and immediately. Besides, the one is the act of a bad man, the other of a bad manager. Again, if the sum had been a larger one, not even Zeno would have persisted in lending it. It was only five hundred denarii, an amount, as we say, "one can spend on an illness," - and not to break his promise+ was worth that much. I will go out to dinner because I have promised, even if the weather is cold; but not so if there is a snowstorm. I will rise from my table because I have promised to attend a betrothal, although I have not digested my food; but not so if I shall have a fever. I will go down to the forum in order to go bail for you because I have promised; but not so if you ask me to go bail for an uncertain amount, if you place me under obligation to the treasury. There is understood, I say, the unexpressed reservations: "If I can, if I ought,if things remain so-and- so." When you exact fulfilment, see to it that the situation is the same as it was when I promised; then, if I fail, I shall be guilty of fickleness. If something new has happened, why are you surprised that my intention has changed, since conditions have changed since I promised? Put everything back as it was, and I shall be as I was. We promise to appear in court, yet not all are liable to prosecution if they default - a major necessity excuses the defaulter. {promises+}

To the further question of whether in every case we ought to show gratitude, and whether a benefit ought in all cases to be returned, consider that I make the same reply. It is my duty to show a grateful heart, but sometimes my own ill fortune, sometimes the good fortune of the one to whom I am indebted, will not permit me to show gratitude. For what return can I make to a king, what to a rich man if I am poor, particularly since some men regard it as an ijustice to have their benefit returned, and are continually piling benefits upon benefits? In the case of such persons, what more can I do than have the desire? Nor, indeed, ought I to refuse a fresh benefit simply because I have not yet repaid an earlier one. I shall accept it as willingly as it is given, and I shall allow my friend to find in me an ample opportunity for exercising his goodness. He who is unwilling to accept new benefits must resent those already received. I may not testify my gratitude - but what does it matter? I am not responsible for the delay if I lack either the opportunity or the means. He of course, had both the opportunity and the means when he bestowed his benefit upon me. Is he a good man or a bad man? Before a good judge I have a good case; before a bad one I do not plead my case. Nor do I think that we ought to do this either - to hasten to show gratitude even against the will of those to whom we show it, and to press it upon them although they draw back. It is not displaying gratitude to repay something that you have willingly accepted to someone who is unwilling to accept it. Some people, when a trifling gift has been sent to them, forthwith, quite unseasonably, send back another, and then declare that they are under no obligation; but to send something back at once, and to wipe out a gift with a gift is almost a repulse. Sometimes, too, I shall not return a benefit although I am able. When? When I myself shall lose more than the other will gain, when he will not be aware of any increase of his store in taking back that which will cause me great loss by being returned. He who hastens at all odds to make return shows the feeling, not of a person that is grateful, but of a debtor. And, to put it briefly, he who is too eager to pay his debt is unwilling to be indebted, and he who is unwilling to be indebted is ungrateful.