XXIII. And are not all the other things, relating to the body, dreams? Is not beauty an ephemeral thing, wasting away almost before it comes to its prime? And is not health an unsure thing by reason of the weaknesses which lie in wait to upset it? Again, is not strength a thing easily destroyed by diseases arising from innumerable causes? and is not the accuracy of all our outward senses easily overturned by the entrance of any vicious humour? As to external things, who is there who is ignorant of the uncertainty of them? In one day vast riches have often come absolutely to nothing? Numbers of persons who have been of the highest consideration, and who have enjoyed the highest honours that the earth affords, have come into disrepute from causes which they neglected or despised. The most mighty powers and authority of kings have been overthrown, and have disappeared in a very brief moment of time. There is an example to testify to the truth of my argument in Dionysius, who lived at Corinth, who had been tyrant of Sicily, and who, after he was expelled from his dominions, took refuge in Corinth; and though he had been so mighty a sovereign, became a schoolmaster. There is another witness to the same point in Croesus, the king of Lydia, the wealthiest of all monarchs, who, having conceived the hope of destroying the kingdom of the Persians, not only lost all his men, but was taken prisoner, and was at the point of being burnt alive. And there are witnesses of dreams not only among men, but also among cities, and nations, and countries; Greece is such, and the region of the barbarians, and inhabitants of continents, and islanders, and Europe and Asia, and the west, and the east; for absolutely nothing whatever has ever remained in its original condition; but everything has in every particular been subject to change. Egypt had once the supreme authority over many nations, but now it is a slave. The Macedonians at one time were so nourishing and powerful that they had obtained the supreme dominion over the whole world; but now they pay yearly tribute, which is levied on them by their masters, to the collectors of the revenue. Where is the house of the Ptolemies, and the glory of all the individual successors of Alexander which at one time shone over all the bounds both of earth and sea? Where is the liberty of so many independent nations and cities? On the other hand, where is the slavery of those which were subject to them? Did not the Persians at one time reign over the Parthians? and do not the Parthians now, through the changes of human affairs, and through the extraordinary and total alterations which are continually taking place, rule over the Persians? Some persons natter themselves with ideas of long and interminable prosperity; but they find that their good fortune is only the beginning of great calamities; and hastening forward as if to an inheritance of good things, they find instead, terrible reverses; and on the contrary it has often happened, that when they have expected evil fortune they have met with good. Athletes, who have prided themselves on their personal good condition, and power, and vigour of body, and who have hoped to obtain an indisputable victory, have often been either refused permission to contend for the prize at all, not having been approved of, or else, after they have descended into the arena, they have been defeated; while others who have despaired of arriving even at the second honours, have been crowned with the garland of victory, and have carried off the first prize. Again, some persons setting sail in the summer (for that is the season for fair voyages) have been shipwrecked; while others, who have expected to be overwhelmed by reason of being forced to put to sea, have reached their harbour uninjured, without having even incurred any danger. As some merchants hasten forward as if to confessed gain, being ignorant of the losses which are awaiting them; while others who have anticipated losses, have in effect met with great profits—so very uncertain is fortune on either side, whether for good or evil; and human affairs are as it were, weighed in a scale, being lightened or depressed according as the weights in each scale are unequal. And a terrible indistinctness and dense darkness is spread over human affairs. And we wander about as if in a deep sleep, without being able to arrive at anything with perfect accuracy of reasoning, or to seize hold of anything with a firm and retentive grasp; for all things are like shadows and phantoms. And as in processions, what comes first passes by quickly and escapes the sight; and as in torrents, the stream which is hurried by outruns, by its swiftness and rapidity, the comprehension of man, so likewise do the affairs of life, being rapidly borne onwards, and passing by swiftly, appear indeed, to be stationary, but in fact, do not stand still a moment, but are continually being dragged onwards. And men awake too, who, as far as the uncertain character of their comprehensions goes, are in no respect different from people asleep, deceiving themselves, think themselves competent to contemplate the nature of things with reasoning powers which cannot err; in whose case every one of their external senses is a hindrance to knowledge, being hurried by spectacles, and by peculiarities of flavours or odours, to which they incline, and by which they are perverted, and in consequence of which they prevent any part of the soul from being in a sound state, and from advancing without stumbling as if along a level road. And humble pride, and great littleness, and all other similar states which are made up of inequality and anomaly, compel men to walk in a sort of giddiness, and create great dizziness and perplexity.