This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.
“Ceterum homines superbissimi procul errant. maiores eorum omnia quae licebat illis reliquere, divitias, imagines, memoriam sui praeclaram; virtutem non reliquere, neque poterant: ea sola neque datur dono neque accipitur. sordidum me et incultis moribus aiunt, quia parum scite convivium exorno neque histrionem ullum neque pluris preti coquom quam vilicum habeo. quae mihi lubet confiteri, Quirites; nam ex parente meo et ex aliis sanctis viris ita accepi, munditias mulieribus, viris laborem convenire, omnibusque bonis oportere plus gloriae quam divitiarum esse; arma, non supellectilem decori esse. quin ergo, quod iuvat, quod carum aestumant, id semper faciant: ament, potent; ubi adulescentiam habuere, ibi senectutem agant, in conviviis, dediti ventri et turpissumae parti corporis; sudorem, pulverem et alia talia relinquant nobis, quibus illa epulis iucundiora sunt. verum non ita est. nam ubi se flagitiis dedecoravere turpissimi viri, bonorum praemia ereptum eunt. ita iniustissume luxuria et ignavia, pessumae artes, illis qui coluere eas nihil officiunt, rei publicae innoxiae cladi sunt.”
(Sallust, Bell. Iug. 85.38-43)
But these men are filled with arrogance and they are very wrong. Their ancestors left them all that they could leave: wealth, family portraits, the glorious memory of their own actions; they did not leave them virtue, nor could they. That is the only thing that cannot be given or received as a gift. They say I am vulgar and uneducated because I do know how to set an elegant dinner table and I do not have an actor or a cook worth more than my foreman. But I’m pleased to confess that this is true, citizens. For I have learned from my parents and other righteous men that elegance is for women, labour is for men; that good men ought to have more glory than wealth; that armour is the true ornament, not furniture. Well, then, let them always do what they enjoy, what they consider valuable: let them fall in love, get drunk, continue to do in old age what they did as young men—attend banquets, remain dedicated to their belly and the shameful parts of their body. Let them leave to us the sweat and the dust and other such things; to us these things are sweeter than banquets. But, it doesn’t happen like that. For when these most disgraceful men have debased themselves with their own dereliction, they set out to steal the rewards due to good men. And so it is most unjust that these most wicked practices, extravagant wastefulness and cowardly indolence, do no damage to those who adopt
them, but they are the ruin of the innocent Republic. (tr. William W. Batstone)
2 thoughts on “Virtutem”