Plutarch, Moralia. Virtue and Vice

LCL 222: 98-99

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Plutarch’s Moralia

ὅταν δὲ νυστάζοντά μ᾿ ἡ λύπη λάβῃ, ἀπόλλυμ᾿ ὑπὸ τῶν ἐνυπνίων

φησί τις· οὕτω δὲ καὶ φθόνος καὶ φόβος καὶ θυμὸς καὶ ἀκολασία διατίθησι. μεθ᾿ ἡμέραν μὲν γὰρ ἔξω βλέπουσα καὶ συσχηματιζομένη πρὸς 101ἑτέρους ἡ κακία δυσωπεῖται καὶ παρακαλύπτει τὰ πάθη, καὶ οὐ παντάπασι ταῖς ὁρμαῖς ἐκδίδωσιν ἑαυτὴν ἀλλ᾿ ἀντιτείνει καὶ μάχεται πολλάκις· ἐν δὲ τοῖς ὕπνοις ἀποφυγοῦσα δόξας καὶ νόμους καὶ πορρωτάτω γενομένη τοῦ δεδιέναι τε καὶ αἰδεῖσθαι, πᾶσαν ἐπιθυμίαν κινεῖ καὶ ἐπανεγείρει τὸ κακόηθες καὶ ἀκόλαστον. “μητρί τε γὰρ ἐπιχειρεῖ μίγνυσθαι,” ὥς φησιν ὁ Πλάτων, καὶ βρώσεις ἀθέσμους προσφέρεται καὶ πράξεως οὐδεμιᾶς ἀπέχεται, ἀπολαύουσα τοῦ παρανομεῖν ὡς ἀνυστόν ἐστιν εἰδώλοις καὶ φάσμασιν εἰς οὐδεμίαν ἡδονὴν οὐδὲ τελείωσιν τοῦ ἐπιθυμοῦντος τελευτῶσιν, Bἀλλὰ κινεῖν μόνον καὶ διαγριαίνειν τὰ πάθη καὶ τὰ νοσήματα δυναμένοις.

3. Ποῦ τοίνυν τὸ ἡδὺ τῆς κακίας ἐστίν, εἰ μηδαμοῦ τὸ ἀμέριμνον καὶ τὸ ἄλυπον μηδ᾿ αὐτάρκεια μηδ᾿ ἀταραξία μηδ᾿ ἡσυχία; ταῖς μὲν γὰρ τῆς σαρκὸς ἡδοναῖς ἡ τοῦ σώματος εὐκρασία καὶ ὑγίεια χώραν καὶ γένεσιν δίδωσι· τῇ δὲ ψυχῇ οὐκ ἔστιν ἐγγενέσθαι γῆθος οὐδὲ χαρὰν βέβαιον, ἂν μὴ τὸ εὔθυμον καὶ ἄφοβον καὶ θαρραλέον ὥσπερ ἕδραν ἢ γαλήνην ἄκλυστον ὑποβάληται, ἀλλὰ κἂν ὑπομειδιάσῃ τις ἐλπὶς ἢ τέρψις, αὕτη ταχὺ φροντίδος

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Virtue and Vice,

When grief o’ertakes me as I close my eyes, I’m murdered by my dreams.a

says one man. In such a state do envy, fear, temper, and licentiousness put a man. For by day vice, looking outside of itself and conforming its attitude to others, is abashed and veils its emotions, and does not give itself up completely to its impulses, but oftentimes resists them and struggles against them; but in the hours of slumber, when it has escaped from opinion and law, and got away as far as possible from feeling fear or shame, it sets every desire stirring, and awakens its depravity and licentiousness. It “attempts incest,” as Platob says, partakes of forbidden meats, abstains from nothing which it wishes to do, but revels in lawlessness so far as it can, with images and visions which end in no pleasure or accomplishment of desire, but have only the power to stir to fierce activity the emotional and morbid propensities.c

3. Where, then, is the pleasure in vice, if in no part of it is to be found freedom from care and grief, or contentment or tranquillity or calm? For a well-balanced and healthy condition of the body gives room for engendering the pleasures of the flesh; but in the soul lasting joy and gladness cannot possibly be engendered, unless it provide itself first with cheerfulness, fearlessness, and courageousness as a basis to rest upon, or as a calm tranquillity that no billows disturb; otherwise, even though some hope or delectation lure us with a smile, anxiety suddenly breaks

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_virtue_vice.1928