IX. (39) Those, then, who permit the flock committed to their charge to satiate themselves all at once with all the things that they desire, we must call keepers of sheep; but those, on the contrary, we should entitle shepherds, who supply their flocks with only so much as is necessary and proper for them; cutting off and utterly rejecting all superfluous and useless extravagance and abundance, which is not less injurious than want and deficiency, and who guard with great prudence against the possibility of the flock becoming diseased through their want of care and indolence, praying that those diseases, which at times are liable to attack flocks from external causes, may not visit theirs. (40) And they take equal care that it may not straggle about at random and get scattered, holding out to them as an object of fear one who will chastise those who never obey reason, and inflicting continual punishment, moderate when applied to those who err only in such a degree as admits of a remedy, but very severe when laid upon those whose wickedness is uncurable; for though in its essence it may appear an abominable thing, nevertheless punishment is the greatest good to foolish persons, great as the remedies of the physician are to those who are ill in the body.

X. (41) These, then, are the occupations of shepherds who prefer those things which are useful, though mixed with unpleasantness, to those which are pleasant but pernicious. Thus, at all events, the occupation of a shepherd has come to be considered a respectable and profitable employment, so that the race of poets has been accustomed to call kings the shepherds of the people; but the law giver gives this title to the wise, who are the only real kings, for he represents them as rulers of all men of irrational passions, as of a flock of sheep. (42) On this account he has attributed to Jacob, the man who was made perfect by practice, a skill in the science of a shepherd, saying: “For he is the shepherd of Laban’s Sheep.”{3}{#ge 30:36.} That is, of the sheep of the foolish soul, which thinks only those things good which are the objects of the outward senses and apparent to them, being deceived and enslaved by colours and shadows; for the name, Laban, being interpreted, means “whitening.” (43) He also attributes the same skill to the all-wise Moses, {4}{#ex 3:1.} for he also is represented as the shepherd of the mind which embraces pride in preference to truth, and which receives appearance rather than reality; for the interpretation of the name Jethro is “superfluous,” and superfluity is pride adopted for the purpose of introducing error into correct life; which is the cause why different things are looked upon as right in different cities, and not those principles which ought to be looked upon as just everywhere, inasmuch as it never sees, not even in a dream, the common and immovable principles of the justice of nature. For, it is said, that “Moses was the shepherd of the sheep of Jethro, the priest of Midian.” (44) And this man himself prays that the flock may not be left without a shepherd, meaning by the flock the whole multitude of the parts of the soul; but that they may meet with a good shepherd, who will lead them away from the nets of folly, and injustice, and all wickedness, and conduct them to the doctrines of learning and all other virtue; for, says Moses, “Let the Lord the God of spirits and of all flesh look down upon man and upon this Assembly.”{5}{#nu 27:16.} And then, a little further on, he adds, “And the assembly of the Lord shall not be like sheep who have no shepherd.”