1. In prioribus libris videbar consummasse propositum, cum tractassem, quemadmodum dandum esset beneficium, quemadmodum accipiendum; hi enim sunt huius officii fines. Quidquid ultra moror, non servio materiae, sed indulgeo, quae, quo ducit, sequenda est, non quo invitat; subinde enim nascetur, quo lacessat aliqua dulcedine animum, magis 2 non supervacuum quam necessarium. Verum, quia ita vis, perseveremus peractis, quae rem continebant, scrutari etiam ea, quae, si vis verum, conexa sunt, non cohaerentia; quae quisquis diligenter inspicit, nec facit operae pretium nec tamen perdit operam.3
Tibi autem, homini natura optimo et ad beneficia propenso, Liberalis Aebuti, nulla eorum laudatio satis facit. Neminem umquam vidi tam benignum etiam levissimorum officiorum aestimatorem; iam bonitas tua eo usque prolapsa est, ut tibi dari putes beneficium, quod ulli datur; paratus es, ne quem 4 beneficii paeniteat, pro ingratis dependere. Ipse
I thought that I had finished my task in the preceding books, having discussed there how a benefit ought to be given, and how it ought to be received; for these two points are the boundary marks of this particular service. In any further inquiry, I shall be, not serving, but indulging, my subject, the only demand of which is that I follow whither it leads, not whither it allures; for now and then a suggestion will be born that challenges the mind by a certain charm, yet remains, if not a useless, an unnecessary addition. Since, however, such is your wish, having finished with the matters that bound the subject, let us continue to examine further those that, if I must tell the truth, are associated with it, yet are not actually connected; whoever examines these carefully will neither be repaid for his pains nor yet wholly waste his pains.
To you, however, Aebutius Liberalis, who are naturally the best of men and prone to benefits, no laudation of them seems to be adequate. Never have I seen anyone who was so generous in his estimate of even the most trivial services; your goodness has reached such a degree that, when any man is given a benefit, you count it as given to yourself; in order that no one may regret the bestowal of a benefit, you are ready to pay the debts of the