XXVII. (119) Therefore the Olympian contest is the only one that justly deserves to be called sacred; meaning by this, not that which the inhabitants of Elis celebrate, but that which is instituted for the acquisition of the divine, and Olympian, and genuine virtues. Now, as competitors in this contest, all those have their names inscribed who are very weak in their bodies, but very vigorous in their souls; and then, having stripped off their clothes, and smeared themselves in the dust, they do all those actions which belong to skill and to power, omitting nothing which may conduce to their gaining the victory. (120) These men, therefore, get the better of their adversaries: and then, again, they have a competition with one another for the prize of pre-eminence, for they are not all victorious in the same manner, but all are worthy of honour, having routed and overthrown most grievous and formidable enemies; (121) and he who shows himself superior to all the rest of these is most admirable, and we must not envy him, when he gets the first prize of all the wrestlers. And those who are thought worthy of the second or of the third place, must not be cast down; for these prizes are proposed for the acquisition of virtue. But to those who are unable to attain to the very highest eminence, even the acquisition of a moderate prize is serviceable. And it is even said that such is more stable, since it avoids the envy which always sticks to those who are excessively eminent. (122) Therefore it is said in a way to convey much instruction, “The horseman will fall,” that if any one falls from vice, he may be raised up by leaning on good things, and so may stand upright again. And in a still more instructive manner is that other expression used, which bids one not leap off in front, but “fall backwards,” since it is always advantageous to be behind-hand in vice and passion; (123) for it is always good to be beforehand in doing what is good, but to be slack in doing what is disgraceful: and, on the other hand, it is good to come close to the one, but to stand aloof from and to be as far as possible removed from the other. And that man is free from all disorder, to whom it happens to be removed at a distance from the errors of passion. Accordingly, Moses says that he is “awaiting the salvation which comes from God,”{15}{#ge 49:18.} in order that, as far as he is removed from committing iniquity, so far he may also advance in well-doing.