IV. (17) These then are the professions and promises made by the husbandry of the soul, “I will cut down all the trees of folly, and intemperance, and injustice, and cowardice; and I will eradicate all the plants of pleasure, and appetite, and anger, and passion, and of all similar affections, even if they have raised their heads as high as heaven. And I will burn out their roots, darting down the attack of flame to the very foundations of the earth, so that no portion, nay, no trace, or shadow whatever, of such things shall be left; (18) and I will destroy these things, and I will implant in those souls which are of a childlike age, young shoots, whose fruit shall nourish them. And those shoots are as follows: the practice of writing and reading with facility; an accurate study and investigation of the works of wise poets; geometry, and a careful study of rhetorical speeches, and the whole course of encyclical education. And in those souls which have arrived at the age of puberty or of manhood, I will implant things which are even better and more perfect, namely, the tree of prudence, the tree of courage, the tree of temperance, the tree of justice, the tree of every respective virtue. (19) And if there be any tree belonging to what is called the wild class, which does not bear eatable fruit, but which is able to be a fence to and a protector of that which is eatable, that also I will manage, not for its own sake, but because it is calculated by nature to be of use to what is necessary and very useful.
V. (20) Therefore, the allwise Moses attributes to the just man a knowledge of the husbandry of the soul, as an act consistent with his character, and thoroughly suited to him, saying, “Noah began to be a husbandman.” But to the unjust man he attributes the task of tilling the ground, which is an employment bearing the heaviest burdens without any knowledge. (21) For “Cain,” says he, “was a tiller of the ground;” and a little afterwards, when he is detected in having contracted the pollution of fratricide, it is said, “Cursed art thou by the earth, which opened her mouth to receive the word of thy brother from thy hand, with which thou tillest the earth, and it shall not put forth its strength to give unto thee.” (22) How then could any one show more manifestly, that the lawgiver looks upon the wicked man as a tiller of the earth, and not as a husbandman, than by such language as we here see used? We must not indeed suppose that what is here said, is said of a man who is able to work by his hands or by his feet, or by any other of the powers of his body, or of any mountain land, or of any champaign country, but that is applicable to the powers existing in every one of us; for it happens that the soul of the wicked man is not concerned about any thing else except about his earthly body, and about all the pleasures of that body. (23) Moreover, the general crowd of men, travelling over the different climates of the earth and penetrating to its furthest boundaries, and traversing the seas, and investigating the things that lie hid in the recesses of the ocean, and leaving no single part of the whole universe unexplored, is continually providing from every quarter the means by which it can increase pleasure. (24) For as fishermen let down their nets at times to the most extraordinary depths, comprehending a vast surface of the sea in their circle, in order to catch the greatest possible number of fish enclosed within their nets, like people shut up within the walls of a besieged city; so in the same manner the greatest part of men having extended their universal nets to take everything, as the poets somewhere say, not only over the parts of the sea, but also over the whole nature of earth, and air, and water, seek to catch everything from every quarter for the enjoyment and attainment of pleasure. (25) For they dig mines in the earth, and they sail across the seas, and they achieve every other work both of peace and war, providing unbounded materials for pleasure, as for their queen, being utterly uninitiated in that husbandry of the soul which sows and plants the virtues and reaps their fruit, which is a happy life. But they labouring to procure, and reducing to a system those things which are pleasant to the flesh, cultivate with all imaginable care that composite mass, that carefully fashioned statue, the narrow house of the soul, which, from its birth to its death it can never lay aside, but which it is compelled to bear till the day of its death, burdensome as it is.