XXI. (147) We must take care, therefore, never to catch a beast of that character which, being formidable not only in respect of its strength but also in its appearance, displays an almost invincible power, which is far from deserving to be despised. (148) It often happens that places which serve as asylums for fugitives and slaves give them complete freedom from fear and perfect security, as if they were in possession of equal honours and privileges with their masters, and sometimes one may see those who are slaves of old standing, as descended from grandfathers, and even more remote ancestors still, who have all been slaves by a kind of hereditary succession, yet, when once they have taken refuge in temples as suppliants, speaking freely and fearlessly in perfect security. (149) There are some too, who even argue about their own rights and just claims with those who are their owners, not merely on equal terms, but actually as if they were far superior to them, replying to them with great energy and even contemptuously; for the one party is enslaved by the conviction which their consciences force upon them, however nobly born they may be; while the others feel in perfect security as to their persons, from the general recognition of the place in which they are as an asylum, and therefore they display the free and noble disposition of soul, which God has made of such a nature as never to be subdued by any external circumstances, (150) unless indeed any one is so utterly destitute of reason as to fancy that it is the place itself which is the cause of their confidence and freedom of speech, and that that most god-like of all things, virtue, has nothing to do with it, though it is owing to virtue alone that sanctity attaches either to the places or to anything which is endowed with sense. (151) And, indeed, in the case of those who take refuge in places which are looked upon as asylums, seeking security only in the places themselves, it constantly happens to such persons to be much influenced by a great variety of other circumstances, by the corruption of their wives, the loss of reputation by their children, and the deceitfulness of love, while those who take refuge in virtue, as in a strong and indestructible and invincible fortification, disregard all attacks which the treachery of the passions aims and directs against them. (152) Now any one who is defended by this power may naturally say with all freedom, that other persons indeed are taken captive by all kinds of accidental things, but, as the tragic poet has it,

“I am well skilled both to obey myself

And rule myself: well weighing all events

By virtue’s Standard.”{20}{this again is from the Syleus of Euripides.}

(153) Accordingly also Bias, of Priene, is said, when Croesus threatened him, to have threatened him in return, in a most contemptuous manner, bidding him eat onions, by which figurative expression he meant that he should weep, since the eating of onions excites tears. (154) Thus wise men, looking upon nothing as more royal than virtue, which is the regulator of the whole of their lives, do not fear the authority of other men, whom they look upon rather as subject to themselves; in reference to which idea, they are all accustomed to consider double-minded and treacherous people illiberal and slavish; (155) on which account also there is a good deal of propriety in the expression–