Cicero, in Pisonem (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Pis.].
<<Cic. Pis. 62 Cic. Pis. 68 (Latin) >>Cic. Pis. 73

65 Make experiment of this excessive and universal hatred if you dare. The most carefully prepared and magnificent games within the memory of man are just at hand, games such as not only never have been exhibited, but such that we cannot form a conception how it will he possible for any like them ever to be exhibited for the future. Trust yourself to the people, venture on attending these games. Are you afraid of hisses? Where are all the precepts of your schools? Are you afraid that there will be no acclamations raised in your honour? Surely it does not become a philosopher to regard even such a thing as that. You are

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afraid that violent hands may be laid on you. For pain is an evil, as you assert. The opinion which men entertain of you, disgrace, infamy, baseness,—these are all empty words, mere trifles. But about this I have no question. He will never dare to come near the games. He will attend the public banquet not out of regard for his dignity, (unless, perchance, for the purpose of supping with the conscript fathers, [Note] that is to say, with those men who love him,) but merely for the sake of gratifying his appetite.

66 The games he will leave to us idiots, as he calls us. For he is in the habit, in all his arguments, of preferring the pleasures of his stomach to all delight of his eyes and ears.

For though you have perhaps considered him previously only dishonest, cruel, and a bit of a thief, and though he now appears to you also voracious, and sordid, and obstinate, and haughty, and deceitful, and perfidious, and imprudent, and audacious, know, too, that there is also nothing which is more licentious, nothing more lustful, nothing more base, nothing more wicked than this man. But do not think that it is mere luxury to which he is devoted.

67 For there is a species of luxury, though it is all vicious and unbecoming, which is still not wholly unworthy of a well-born and a free man. But in this man there is nothing refined, nothing elegant nothing exquisite; I will do justice even to an enemy,—there is nothing which is even very extravagant, except his lusts. There is no expense for works of carving. There are immense goblets, and those (in order that he may not appear to despise his countrymen) made at Placentia. His table is piled up, not with shell-fish and other fish, but with heaps of half-spoilt meat. He is waited on by a lot of dirty slaves, many of them old men. His cook is the same; his butler and porter the same. He has no baker at home, no cellar. His bread and his wine came from some huckster and some low wine-vault. His attendants are Greeks, five on a couch, often more. He is used to sit by himself, and to drink as long as there was anything in the cask. [Note] When he hears the cock crow, then, thinking that his grandfather has come to life again, he orders the table to be cleared.

ch. 28

68

Some one will say, “How did you find out all

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this?” I will not indeed, describe any one in such a manner as to insult him, especially if he be an ingenious and learned man, a class with whom I could not be angry, even if I wished it. There is a certain Greek who lives with him, a man, to tell the truth, (I speak as I have found him,) of good manners, at least as long as he is in other company than Piso's, or while he is by himself. He, when he had met that man, as a young man, though even then he had an expression of countenance as if he were angry with the gods, did not disdain his friendship, as the other sought for it with great eagerness; he gave himself up to intimacy with him, so as indeed to live wholly with him, and I may almost say, never to depart from him. I am speaking not before illiterate men, but, as I imagine, in a company of the most learned and highly accomplished men possible. You have no doubt heard it said, that the Epicurean philosophers measure everything which a man ought to desire by pleasure;—whether that is truly said or not is nothing to us, or if it be anything to us, it certainly has no bearing on the present subject; but still it is a tempting sort of argument for a young man, and one always dangerous to a person of no great intelligence.

69 Therefore, that profligate fellow, the moment that he heard that pleasure was so exceedingly praised by a philosopher, inquired nothing further; he so excited all his own senses which could be affected by pleasure, he neighed so on hearing this statement, that it was plain he thought that he had discovered not a teacher of virtue, but a pander to his lust. The Greek first began to distinguish between those precepts, and to separate them from one another, and to show in what sense they are uttered; but that cripple held the ball, as they say; he was determined to retain what he had got; he would have witnesses, and would have all the papers sealed up; he said, that Epicurus was an eloquent man. And so he is; he says, as I conceive, that he cannot understand the existence of any good when all the pleasures of the body are taken away. Why need I say much on such a topic?

70 The Greek is an easy man, and very complaisant; he had no idea of being too contradictory to an “Imperator” of the Roman people.

ch. 29

But the man of whom I am speaking is excessively accomplished, not in philosophy alone, but also in general

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literature, which they say that the rest of the Epicureans commonly neglect. He composes a poem, so witty, so neat, so elegant, that nothing can be cleverer. In respect of which any one may find fault with him who pleases, provided he does so good-humouredly, treating him not as a profligate, or a rascal, or a desperado, but merely as a Greekling, as a flatterer, as a poet. He comes to, or rather, I should say, he falls in with him, deceived by the same rigid brow of his (being, too, a Greek and a stranger) as this wise and great city was beguiled by. He could not withdraw when he had once become entangled in his intimacy, and he was afraid also of getting the character of being fickle. Being entreated, and invited, and compelled, he wrote so many things which he addressed to him, so many things too about him, that he has described in the most delicate poetry possible all the lusts of the man, all his debaucheries, all his different suppers and revels, and even all his adulteries.



Cicero, in Pisonem (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Pis.].
<<Cic. Pis. 62 Cic. Pis. 68 (Latin) >>Cic. Pis. 73

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