Page:Plutarch - Moralia, translator Holland, 1911.djvu/47

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
25
Of Moral Virtue

him the source and primitive cause of passions, as a thing necessary for him, neither doth it enter into him from without: in which regard it ought not to be extirped utterly, but hath need only of ordering and government: whereupon reason dealeth not after the Thracian manner, nor like King Lycurgus, who commanded all vines without exception to be cut down, because wine caused drunkenness: it rooteth not out (I say) all affections indifferently one with another, the profitable as well as the hurtful: but (like unto the good gods Phytalmius and Homerides, who teach us to order plants that they may fructify, and to make them gentle which were savage) to cut away that which groweth wild and rank, to save all the rest and so to order and manage the same that it may serve for good use. For neither do they shed and spill their wine upon the floor who are afraid to be drunk, but delay the same with water: nor those who fear the violence of a passion do take it quite away, but rather temper and qualify the same: like as folk use to break horses and oxen from their flinging out with their heels, their stiffness and curstness of the head and stubbornness in receiving the bridle or the yoke, but do not restrain them of other motions in going about their work and doing their deed. And even so verily, reason maketh good use of these passions, when they be well tamed and brought (as it were) to hand: without over weakening or rooting out clean that part of the soul which is made for to second reason, and do it good service: For as Pindarus saith:

The horse doth serve in chariot at the thill,
The ox at plough doth labour hard in field,
Who list in chase the wild boar for to kill,
The hardy hound he must provide with skill.

And I assure you, the entertainment of these passions and their breed serve in far better stead when they do assist reason and give an edge (as it were) and vigour unto virtues, than the beasts above named in their kind. Thus moderate ire doth second valour and fortitude: hatred of wicked persons helpeth the execution of justice: and indignation is just and due unto those who without any merit or desert enjoy the felicity of this life: who also for that their heart is puffed up with foolish arrogancy, and enflamed with disdainful pride and insolence in regard of their prosperity, have need to be taken down and cooled. Neither is a man able by any means (would he never so fain) to separate from true friendship, natural indulgence, and kind affection: nor from humanity, commiseration and pity;