Page:1888 Cicero's Tusculan Disputations.djvu/86

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

80 THE TUSCULAN DISPUTATIONS.

able to bear pain better, and in no small degree either. At present, however, I am confining myself to what is engen dered by practice and discipline. I am not yet come to speak of reason and philosophy. You may often hear of old women living without victuals for three or four days ; but take away a wrestler's provisions but for one day, and he will implore the aid of Jupiter Olympius, the very God for whom he exercises himself: he will cry out that he cannot endure it. Great is the force of custom ! Sportsmen will continue whole nights in the snow ; they will bear being almost frozen upon the mountains. From practice boxers will not so much as utter a groan, however bruised by the cestus. But what do you think of those to whom a vic tory in the Olympic games seemed almost on a par with the ancient consulships of the Roman people? What wounds will the gladiators bear, who are either barbarians, or the very dregs of mankind ! How do they, who are trained to it, prefer being wounded to basely avoiding it ! How often do they prove that they consider nothing but the giving satisfaction to their masters or to the people! for when covered with wounds, they send to their masters to learn their pleasure : if it is their will, they are ready to lie down and die. What gladiator, of even moderate rep utation, ever gave a sigh? who ever turned pale? who ever disgraced himself either in the actual combat, or even when about to die ? who that had been defeated ever drew in his neck to avoid the stroke of death ? So great is the force of practice, deliberation, and custom ! Shall this, then, be done by A Samnite rascal, worthy of his trade ; and shall a man born to glory have so soft a part in his soul as not to be able to fortify it by reason and reflection? The sight of the gladiators' combats is by some looked on as cruel and inhuman, and I do not know, as it is at present managed, but it may be so ; but when the guilty fought, we might receive by our ears perhaps (but certainly by our eyes we could not) better training to harden us against pain and death. XVIII. I have now said enough about the effects of ex

ercise, custom, and careful meditation. Proceed we now