Page:The Emperor Marcus Antoninus - His Conversation with Himself.djvu/423

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of Cebes the Theban.

talked at a strange significant rate; And as for this Picture, I have heard him expound the Emblem, and read upon the Argument very frequently. Sir, said I, unless you are very busy, I beg of you to instruct us a little in this Matter, for we are strangely desirous to know the meaning of this Fable in Colours. Gentlemen, says he, I’m very ready to serve you, but then I must tell you, there is some Danger in hearing the Story. Danger! As how? Why, says he, if you mind what you are about, and understand what's delivered, you’l grow unexpectedly Wise and Happy upon the Discourse, but otherwise to be free with you, you’l turn Ignorant, and Ill-natur’d, and be the most Unfortunate Blockheads imaginable. For the Explaining this Mythology is as touchy a Business to the Audience, as the Sphinx’s Riddle was formerly: If a Man was an Oedipus at it, he found his Account in the Undertaking, but if the Mystery prov’d too hard for him, he was lost, and murther’d by the Monster upon the spot. The Consequence of the present Case is much the same: For Folly is a sort of Sphinx to Mankind in general; and gives an obscure Intimation of what’s good and bad, or indifferent for us: If a Man can’t look through her, and untie her Riddle, tho’

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