“Sit down and drink, and thus you shall
At once appreciate my character,
And learn to be my master in reality.”
(104) Shall we then say that he is the slave, or rather the master of his master, when he dares in this manner not only to accost him with such freedom, but even to impose injunctions on him who has purchased him, as if he would beat and insult him if he were to be stubborn and disobedient, and, if he introduced any one to assist him, as if he would destroy them all to a man? Therefore the writings which were delivered respecting this purchase must have been an utter absurdity and a mere joke, since they would be trampled upon by the more effectual power of the slave bought under them, being the less value than unwritten covenants, and being likely to be utterly destroyed by moths, or time, or mould and rust.
XVI. (105) But it is not right, some one will say, to bring forward the actions of heroes as proofs of the correctness of an argument, for that they were greater than the common run of human nature, and were more on a par with the heavenly beings themselves, as having been born of a sort of mixed generation, and having sprung from mortal and immortal seed at the same time, being correctly entitled demigods, the mortal part of their composition being tempered by the incorruptible part, so that there is nothing extraordinary in the fact of their having despised those mortals who designed to bring slavery upon them. (106) However, let it be so. Are then Anaxagoras and Zeno the Eleatic heroes, or descended from gods? And nevertheless they, when tortured with the most unprecedented devices of cruelty by savage tyrants, wholly pitiless by nature, and even more than usually exasperated against them, looking on their bodies as if they belonged to strangers, or even to enemies, disregarded and utterly disdained the formidable evils with which they were afflicted; (107) for through the love of knowledge having accustomed their souls from the very beginning to keep aloof from all participation with the passions, and to cling to education and wisdom, they easily endured the prospect of its emigrating from the body, and made it a dweller with prudence and courage, and other virtues. (108) Therefore, the one being hung up and violently stretched for the sake of making him divulge some secret, showed himself mightier than fire or iron, though they are the strongest things in nature, and biting off his tongue with his teeth, spit it at his torturer, that he might not involuntarily utter what he ought to bury in silence, under the influence of agony; (109) and the other said with great fortitude, “Beat Aristarchus’s skin, for you cannot beat Aristarchus himself.” These instances of brave fortitude, wholly full of daring, exceed in no slight degree the nobleness of those heroes, because the one class have a glory handed down to them by their ancestors without any actions of their own, while the fame of the others is founded on deeds of virtue deliberately performed, which very naturally make immortal those who practise them in a guileless spirit.