XIV. (79) Every passion is open to and deserving of blame, inasmuch as every immoderate and violent impulse, and every irrational and unnatural emotion of the soul is also faulty and blameable, for what is either of these things but an ancient passion spread over a wider extent? If any one, therefore, does not set limits to these feelings, nor put a bridle on them as on restive horses, he will be afflicted by an evil difficult to remedy, and then, without being aware of it, he will, because of their unrestrainable character, be carried away by them, as a charioteer sometimes is by a chariot, and hurried into ravines and pits from which it is difficult to rise up, and very hard to escape with safety. (80) But of all the passions there is not one so grievous as a covetous desire of what one has not got, of things which are in appearance good, but not in reality; a desire which produces grievous anxieties which are hard to satisfy; for such a passion puts the reason to flight, and banishes it to a great distance, involving the soul in great difficulties, while the object which is desired flies away contemptuously, retreating not with its back but with its face to one; (81) for when a person perceives this passion of covetousness after having started up rapidly, then resting for a short time, either with a view to spread out its alluring toils, or because it has learnt to entertain a hope of succeeding in its object, he then retires to a longer distance uttering reproaches against it; but the passion itself, being left behind and coming too late to succeed, struggles, bearing a Tantalus-like punishment in its miserable future; for it is said that Tantalus, when he desired to obtain any liquor to drink, was not able to do so, as the water retreated from his lips, {14}{the story of Tantalus is told in Homer, Od. 11.581 (as it is translated by Pope)–“There Tantalus along the Stygian bounds, / Pours out deep groans (with groans all hell resounds); / Ev’n in the circling floods refreshment craves, / And pines with thirst among a sea of waves; / When to the water he his lip applies, / Back from his lip the treacherous water flies. / Above, beneath, around his hapless head, / Trees of all kinds delicious fruitage spread; / There figs, sky-dyed, a purple hue disclose, / Green looks the olive, the pomegranate glows; / There dangling pears exalting scents unfold, / And yellow apples ripen into gold. / The first he strives to seize; but blasts arise, / Toss it on high, and whirl it to the skies.”} and if he wished to gather any fruit, it all disappeared, the productiveness of the trees becoming suddenly barren; (82) for as those implacable and inexorable mistresses of the body, thirst and hunger, do very often strain it more, or at all events not less, than those unhappy persons are strained who are racked by the torture even to death, unless when they have become violent some one appeases them with meat and drink; in like manner, covetous desire, having first rendered the soul empty through its forgetfulness of what is present and its recollection of what is removed to a great distance, fills it with impetuosity and madness, and introduces into it masters worse than even its former tyrants, but having the same names with them, namely, hunger and thirst, not, however, now of those things which conduce to the enjoyment of the belly, but of money, and glory, and authority, and beauty, and of innumerable other things which appear to be objects of desire and contention in human life. (83) And as the disease which the physicians call the herpes, {15}{so called from herpoµ, “to creep.”} does not stop in one part of the body, but moves about and overruns the skin, and, as its name shows, creeps about (dierpei), and becomes diffused in every direction, and spreading widely seizes hold of and infects with its contact the whole combination of the different parts of the body from the head to the feet, so in the same manner does covetous desire spread over the whole soul, and leave not even the smallest portion of it free from its inroads, imitating the power of fire when supplied with abundant fuel, for that spreads and burns away till it has devoured and destroyed everything with which it meets.