LII. For what advantage is there, from the hearing of the sacred scriptures, to a man who is destitute of wisdom, whose faith has been eradicated, and who is unable to preserve that deposit of doctrines most advantageous to all human life? (214) Now, there are three persons who contribute to the conviviality of the human race, –the chief baker, the cup-bearer, and the maker of delicacies: very naturally, since we desire the use and enjoyment of three things–meat, confections, and drink. But some men only desire that indispensable food which we use of necessity for the sake of our health, and in order to avoid living in an illiberal manner. Others again desire immoderate and exceedingly extravagant luxuries, which, breaking through the appetites, and weighing down, and overwhelming the channels of the body by their number, usually become the parents of all sorts of terrible diseases. (215) Those, therefore, who are inexperienced in
pleasure and the indulgence of the appetites and diseases, like the common people in cities, living a life free alike from hatred and from annoyances, as frugal people, have no need of all kinds of various ministers of refined skill, being contented with ordinary cooks, and cup-bearers, and confectioners. (216) But they who think that the most important and royal object of life is to live pleasantly, and who refer everything, whether of great or small importance, to this object, desire to avail themselves of the services of chief cooks and chief cupbearers, and chief confectioners, that is to say, of men possessed of the highest degree of skill in the arts which they profess. (217) For those who are skilful in the making of confections and luxuries invent the most various possible kinds of cheese-cakes, and honey cakes, and of innumerable other sweetmeats, varying from one another, not merely in the difference of their material, but also in the manner in which they are made, and in their shape, in such a way as not only to please the taste, but also to beguile the eye. (218) And again, the contrivances displayed in the examination of different kinds of wine to produce some, the effect of which shall speedily go off, and which shall not produce headache, but, on the contrary, shall be devoid of any tendency to heat the blood, and shall be very fragrant, admitting either a copious or a scanty admixture with water, according as the object is to have a strong and powerful draught, or a gentle and imperceptible one. And all the other devices and inventions of cup-bearers all come to the same end of art. (219) And to cook up and prepare fish, and birds, and similar viands, in every variety of manner, and to make all other kinds of sweetmeats and delicacies, we have plausible confectioners of exceeding skill; and there are thousands of other luxuries which they are clever at contriving, besides those which they have heard of or seen made by others, having devised them themselves out of their continued care and attention to be the object of making life luxurious, and effeminate, and not worth living.