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.

XXV. (107) The due attention to sacred rites, and good faith in the matter of sacrifices, are the most excellent of trees; but along-side of them an evil grows up, namely, superstition, which it is desirable to eradicate before it has time to blossom. For some persons have fancied the sacrificing of oxen to be piety, and they assign a portion of all that they steal or obtain by denials, or by cheating their creditors, or by plundering, to the altars. Impious wretches that they are, thinking that thus they are paying a price to buy themselves off from suffering punishment for their offences. (108) But to such persons I would say, O ye men, the tribunal of God is not to be corrupted by bribes; so that those who have guilty minds will be rejected, even if they sacrifice a hundred oxen every day; and those who are innocent will be received, even if they never sacrifice at all. For God delights in altars on which no fire is burned, but which are frequented by virtues, and which do not blaze with great flame, such as those sacrifices do kindle which are offered by impious men, and which are no sacrifices at all, and which serve to remind one of the ignorances and wickedness of each of the sacrificers; for Moses has somewhere spoken of a sacrifice “reminding one of Sin.”{21}{#nu 5:15.} (109) All such things therefore, being the causes of great injury, it is necessary to cut off and eradicate, in obedience to the oracle in which it is enjoined “to remove the uncleanness of the tree which has been planted, bearing eatable Fruit.”{22}{#le 19:23.}