XXI. (2.145) As these unexpected events, which no one could ever have anticipated, do frequently happen in this manner and overthrow people, so also do they often drive the powers of the soul in a contrary direction to the proper one, and drag it in an opposite way, according to their power, and compel it to change its course: for what man, who has ever descended into the arena of life, has come off without a fall? (2.146) And who is there who has never been tripped up in that contest? He is happy who has not often been so. And for whom has not fortune laid snares, blowing upon him at intervals, and collecting its strength, that it may twine itself around him, and speedily carry him off before its adversary is ready for the contest? (2.147) Do we not know, that some persons have come from infancy to old age who have never been sensible of any irregularity, whether it be from the happy condition of their nature, or from the care of those who brought them up and educated them, or owing to both circumstances? But then, being filled with profound peace in themselves, which is real peace, and the archetypal model of that which exists in cities, and being considered happy on that account, because they have never had a notion, not even in a dream, of the intestine war which arises from the violence of the passions, and which is the most piteous of all wars, have at last, at the very close of their lives, run on shore and made shipwreck, either through some intemperance of language or some insatiable gluttony, or some incontinent licentiousness of the parts below the belly. (2.148) For some, while–

“Still on the threshold of extreme old age,”

have admired the youthful, unhonoured, detestable, and disgraceful life of debauches; and others have given in to the cunning, and wicked, and calumnious, and desperate way of life of others, pursuing the first fruits of quarrelsome curiosity, when they ought rather to have discarded such habits now, even if they had been familiar to them. (2.149) For which reason one ought to propitiate God, and to supplicate him perseveringly, that he will not pass by our miserable race, but that he will allow his saving mercy to be everlastingly shown towards us; for it is difficult for those who have tasted unalloyed peace to be prevented from glutting themselves with it.