II. (8) Again, how can it be anything but a most unreasonable assertion, one full of complete shamelessness of insanity, (or I really know not what to call it, for the preposterousness of such a saying is so great that it is not easy to find a proper name for it), to call those men rich who are in a state of complete indigence, and destitute of even necessaries, living hardly and miserably, scarcely procuring enough for their daily subsistence, exposed to famine, as their own peculiar lot among the general plenty and abundance of others, feeding only on the breath of virtue, as they say that grasshoppers feed on air; (9) and then, on the other hand, to call those men poor who are surrounded on all sides by silver and gold, and abundance of possessions and revenues, and an inexhaustible supply of endless good things of every sort, the wealth of which has not only advantaged all their relations and friends, but has even proceeded beyond the family, and been of benefit to great crowds of persons of the same borough, or of the same tribe as the owners; aye, and going further still, it even supplies the city itself with everything which is needful in either peace or war. (10) Moreover, those who speak thus have, in obedience to the same dream, ventured to speak of slavery as the real condition of men of the greatest importance and genuine nobility of birth, men who can refer not only to their immediate parents, but to their grandfathers and remote ancestors up to the very first founders of their race, as having been in the highest esteem both among men and women; while, on the other hand, they speak of men, whose last three generations have been branded as slaves, born of slaves, who have never been anything but slaves, as free. (11) But all these things are, as I have said before, the inventions of men whose intellects are obscured, and who are slaves to opinions utterly under the influence of the outward senses, whose judgment is continually corrupted by those who are brought before its tribunal, and as such is unstable. (12) But they ought, if they had really been at all anxious for the truth, not to show themselves, in respect of their minds, inferior to those who have been diseased in their bodies; for such invalids, out of their desire for good health, commit themselves to the physicians. But these other men hesitate to get rid of that disease of the soul, ignorance, by becoming the associates of wise men; from whom they might not only learn to escape ignorance, but they might also acquire that peculiar possession of man, namely, knowledge. (13) And since, as that sweetest of all writers, Plato, says, envy is removed far from the divine company, but wisdom, that most divine and communicative of all things, never closes its school, but is continually open to receive all who thirst for salutary doctrines, to whom she pours forth the inexhaustible stream of unalloyed instruction and wisdom, and persuades them to yield to the intoxication of the soberest of all drunkenness. (14) And her disciples, like persons who have been initiated into the sacred and holy mysteries, when they are at last entirely filled with the knowledge proffered to them, reproach themselves bitterly for their previous neglect, as not having taken proper care of their time, but having lived a life which was hardly deserving to be called life, in which they have been utterly destitute of wisdom. (15) Those men, therefore, act worthily who, in every case and everywhere, have resolved to dedicate the whole of their youth as the first fruits of their earliest vigour to nothing in preference to education, in which it is well for a man to spend both his youth and his age; for as they say that vessels even when empty do nevertheless retain the odour of whatever was originally poured into them, {1}{compare Moore–“You may break, you may shatter the vase if you will, / But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.”} so also are the souls of the young deeply impressed with the indelible character of those conceptions which were the first to be offered to their minds, which cannot be at all washed away by the torrent of any ideas which flow over the mind afterwards, but they to the last show the character originally given to them.