XXXV. (115) But I am speaking here, not of the virtues but of the arts of intermediate character, and of other necessary studies which are conversant about the attention due to the body, and about the abundance of external goods. But since the labour which is applied to what is perfectly good and excellent, even if it fall short of attaining its object, is nevertheless of such a character that it by itself does good to those who exert it, while the things which are unconnected with virtue unless their aim is attained, are entirely unprofitable. For as in the case of animals, if you take away the head there is an end of the whole animal, but he head of actions is their end, as they in a manner live if the end is arrived at, but if you cut off their end and mutilate them they die. (116) So too let those athletes who are not able to gain the victory but who are invariably defeated, condemn their trade; and if any merchant or captain of a ship in all his voyages meets with incessant disasters, let him turn away from the business and rest. And those men who, having devoted themselves to the intermediate arts, have nevertheless through the ruggedness of their nature been unable to acquire any learning, are to be praised for abandoning them: for such studies are not practised for the sake of the practice, but for the sake of the object towards which the labourer is borne. (117) If therefore nature hinders one’s improvement for the better, let us not strive against her in an unprofitable way, but if she co-operates with us then let us honour the Deity with the first fruits and honours, which are the ransom of our soul, emancipating it from subjection to cruel masters, and elevating it to freedom.