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Section 7

7. Then why are these conditions sought and their contraries repelled by the man established in happiness?

Here is our answer:

These more pleasant conditions cannot, it is true, add any particle towards the Sage's felicity: but they do serve towards the integrity of his being, while the presence of the contraries tends against his Being or complicates the Term: it is not that the Sage can be so easily deprived of the Term achieved but simply that he that holds the highest good desires to have that alone, not something else at the same time, something which, though it cannot banish the Good by its incoming, does yet take place by its side.

In any case if the man that has attained felicity meets some turn of fortune that he would not have chosen, there is not the slightest lessening of his happiness for that. If there were, his felicity would be veering or falling from day to day; the death of a child would bring him down, or the loss of some trivial possession. No: a thousand mischances and disappointments may befall him and leave him still in the tranquil possession of the Term.

But, they cry, great disasters, not the petty daily chances!

What human thing, then, is great, so as not to be despised by one who has mounted above all we know here, and is bound now no longer to anything below?

If the Sage thinks all fortunate events, however momentous, to be no great matter- kingdom and the rule over cities and peoples, colonisations and the founding of states, even though all be his own handiwork- how can he take any great account of the vacillations of power or the ruin of his fatherland? Certainly if he thought any such event a great disaster, or any disaster at all, he must be of a very strange way of thinking. One that sets great store by wood and stones, or... Zeus... by mortality among mortals cannot yet be the Sage, whose estimate of death, we hold, must be that it is better than life in the body.

But suppose that he himself is offered a victim in sacrifice?

Can he think it an evil to die beside the altars?

But if he go unburied?

Wheresoever it lie, under earth or over earth, his body will always rot.

But if he has been hidden away, not with costly ceremony but in an unnamed grave, not counted worthy of a towering monument?

The littleness of it!

But if he falls into his enemies' hands, into prison?

There is always the way towards escape, if none towards well-being.

But if his nearest be taken from him, his sons and daughters dragged away to captivity?

What then, we ask, if he had died without witnessing the wrong? Could he have quitted the world in the calm conviction that nothing of all this could happen? He must be very shallow. Can he fail to see that it is possible for such calamities to overtake his household, and does he cease to be a happy man for the knowledge of what may occur? In the knowledge of the possibility he may be at ease; so, too, when the evil has come about.

He would reflect that the nature of this All is such as brings these things to pass and man must bow the head.

Besides in many cases captivity will certainly prove an advantage; and those that suffer have their freedom in their hands: if they stay, either there is reason in their staying, and then they have no real grievance, or they stay against reason, when they should not, and then they have themselves to blame. Clearly the absurdities of his neighbours, however near, cannot plunge the Sage into evil: his state cannot hang upon the fortunes good or bad of any other men.

Next: Section 8