XXIII. (100) These duties which are as it were in the middle, appear to me to be properly looked upon in the same light as those trees, which admit of being cultivated and used for food; for each of them bears most useful fruits, the one for the body, and the other for the soul. But in the middle there must necessarily be many injurious plants springing up with and growing along-side of them, which must be removed in order that the better sorts may not be injured. (101) May I not call the restoration of a deposit a useful plant of the soul? But still this plant requires purification and exceeding attention. What then is the purification? This. Having taken a deposit from a man while he is sober, you must not restore it to him while he is drunk, or intemperate, or mad; for in such a case though he may have received the advantage of having his own back again, he will have no opportunity of being benefited by it. Again. You must not restore a deposit to debtors or to slaves while their creditors or their masters are present; for that is betraying, and not a restoration of a deposit. Nor must you keep faith in small things in the hope merely of gaining confidence, so as to have greater things entrusted to you. (102) For those who fish, and who let down small baits into the sea, with the view of catching larger fish, are not very much to be blamed, as they say that they are providing for the good supply of the market, and in order that they may supply men with unlimited food for every day. (103) But no one should use as a bait, the restoration of a deposit of small value by way of obtaining a larger one, holding forth in his hands, and displaying the deposit of one individual, and that a trifling one, and in his intention appropriating the deposits of every body, and those too of unspeakable value. If, therefore, you remove the uncleanness of your deposit, as of these trees, namely, the inquiries threatened by plotters, the evils arising from want of opportunity and treachery, and all things of similar kinds; you will bring into a state of cultivation and usefulness, that which was on the point of becoming wild.
XXIV. (104) And in the case of the tree of friendship, it is necessary to cut down and eradicate these things which shoot up by the side of it for the sake of preserving the more valuable plant. And the evil plants which spring up alongside are these: the tricky blandishments of courtesans towards their lovers, and the deceitfulness of parasites to those whom they flatter. (105) For one may see those who make a traffic of their personal beauty, clinging to their lovers as if they were excessively fond of them; but they love not them but themselves, and they are eager only for their daily gains. And as for flatterers, sometimes they conceal unspeakable hatred towards those whom they flatter; but still, being slaves to gluttony and intemperance, they are on that account induced to pay court to those who can supply their immoderate appetites. (106) But the tree of science and unadulterated friendship having rejected and discarded these things, will bear fruit of the greatest possible service to those who use it, namely, incorruptible good faith. For good-will is a desire that one’s neighbour should enjoy good things for his own sake. But courtesans and flatterers are anxious solely for their own advantage, which is the only motive why they should confer pleasure, the first on their lovers, and the latter on the objects of their flatteries. We must therefore cut down all trickeries and flatteries as evil plants growing up near the tree of friendship.