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Pages of laws (books 1 - 6)

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laws (books 1 - 6)   

stand in the way. There are also minor precepts which are often
repeated, and are quite as useful; a man should recollect them and
remind himself of them. For when a stream is flowing out, there should
be water flowing in too; and recollection flows in while wisdom is
departing. Therefore I say that a man should refrain from excess
either of laughter or tears, and should exhort his neighbour to do the
same; he should veil his immoderate sorrow or joy, and seek to
behave with propriety, whether the genius of his good fortune
remains with him, or whether at the crisis of his fate, when he
seems to be mounting high and steep places, the Gods oppose him in
some of his enterprises. Still he may ever hope, in the case of good
men, that whatever afflictions are to befall them in the future God
will lessen, and that present evils he will change for the better; and
as to the goods which are the opposite of these evils, he will not
doubt that they will be added to them, and that they will be
fortunate. Such should be men's hopes, and such should be the
exhortations with which they admonish one another, never losing an
opportunity, but on every occasion distinctly reminding themselves and
others of all these things, both in jest and earnest.
Enough has now been said of divine matters, both as touching the
practices which men ought to follow, and as to the sort of persons who
they ought severally to be. But of human things we have not as yet
spoken, and we must; for to men we are discoursing and not to Gods.
Pleasures and pains and desires are a part of human nature, and on
them every mortal being must of necessity hang and depend with the
most eager interest. And therefore we must praise the noblest life,
not only as the fairest in appearance, but as being one which, if a
man will only taste, and not, while still in his youth, desert for
another, he will find to surpass also in the very thing which we all
of us desire-I mean in having a greater amount of pleasure and less of
pain during the whole of life. And this will be plain, if a man has
a true taste of them, as will be quickly and clearly seen. But what is
a true taste? That we have to learn from the argument-the point
being what is according to nature, and what is not according to
nature. One life must be compared with another, the more pleasurable
with the more painful, after this manner:-We desire to have
pleasure, but we neither desire nor choose pain; and the neutral state
we are ready to take in exchange, not for pleasure but for pain; and
we also wish for less pain and greater pleasure, but less pleasure and
greater pain we do not wish for; and an equal balance of either we
cannot venture to assert that we should desire. And all these differ
or do not differ severally in number and magnitude and intensity and
equality, and in the opposites of these when regarded as objects of
choice, in relation to desire. And such being the necessary order of
things, we wish for that life in which there are many great and
intense elements of pleasure and pain, and in which the pleasures
are in excess, and do not wish for that in which the opposites exceed;
nor, again, do we wish for that in which the clements of either are
small and few and feeble, and the pains exceed. And when, as I said
before, there is a balance of pleasure and pain in life, this is to be
regarded by us as the balanced life; while other lives are preferred
by us because they exceed in what we like, or are rejected by us
because they exceed in what we dislike. All the lives of men may be
regarded by us as bound up in these, and we must also consider what
sort of lives we by nature desire. And if we wish for any others, I
say that we desire them only through some ignorance and inexperience
of the lives which actually exist.
Now, what lives are they, and how many in which, having searched out
and beheld the objects of will and desire and their opposites, and
making of them a law, choosing, I say, the dear and the pleasant and
the best and noblest, a man may live in the happiest way possible? Let
us say that the temperate life is one kind of life, and the rational
another, and the courageous another, and the healthful another; and to
these four let us oppose four other lives-the foolish, the cowardly,

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