ESSAYS OF MONTAIGNE
much prefer to manage my affairs by the cast of the dice than by such dreams. (c) And, in truth, in all republics, a large share of authority has always been ascribed to the drawing of lots. Plato, in the laws of government which he makes as pleases him, entrusts to it the decision of numerous matters of importance, and decrees, among other things, that marriages between the good shall be arranged by lot; and he attributes so much weight to this chance selection, that he decrees that children born from it shall be brought up within the country, and that those born from ill-assorted unions shall be sent away; but if one of those banished should by any chance, as he grew up, manifest some hopeful indications of worth, let him be recalled; and also let any one of those originally retained be expelled who during his adolescence manifests little that is hopeful.
(b) I see some who study and annotate their almanacs, and hold them up to us as authority about things that are taking place. Saying so much, they must needs say what is truth and what falsehood. (c) Quis est enim, qui, totum diem jaculans, non aliquando collineet? (b) I think no better of them because I see them sometimes make a lucky hit. There would be more certainty and truth if it were the rule always to lie. (c) It may be added that no one keeps a record of their miscalculations, as they are of common occurrence and endless; and every one ranks their true prognostics as remarkable, incredible, and prodigious. Witness the answer of Diagoras, to whom, when he was in Samothrace, some one pointed out in the temple many votive offerings and pictures of those who had been rescued from shipwreck, saying: “Look, you who believe that the gods are indifferent to human affairs — what say you to so many men saved by their mercy?” — “I say this,” he replied: “those who have been drowned, a far greater number, have not been painted.”
- See the Timæus, and the Republic, book V.
- See the Republic, book V. Plato does not say “banished,” but “secretly dispersed among the other citizens.”
- Who can shoot all day and not sometimes hit the mark? — Cicero, De Divin., II, 59.
- Ce seroit plus de certitude, s’il y avoit regle et verité a mentir tousjours.
- Those of the almanac students.
- See Cicero, De Nat. Deor., I, 37.