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Philosophy Shows How Fortune May plead Her justification
“Now would I argue with you by these few words which Fortune herself might use: and do you consider whether her demands are fair.
“Why, O man,’ she might say, ‘do you daily accuse me with your complainings? What injustice have I wrought upon you? Of what good things have I robbed you?
Choose your judge whom you will, and before him strive with me for the right to hold your wealth and honors.
If you can prove that any one of these does truly belong to any mortal man, readily will I grant that these you seek to regain were yours?
When nature brought you forth from your mother’s womb, I received you in my arms naked and bare of all things;
I cherished you with my gifts, and I brought you up all too kindly with my favoring care, wherefore now you cannot bear with me, and I surrounded you with glory and all the abundance that was mine to give.
Now it pleases me to withdraw my hand: be thankful, as though you had lived upon my loans. You have no just cause of complaint, as though you had really lost what was once your own.
Why do you rail against me? I have wrought no violence towards you. Wealth, honors, and all such are within my rights.
They are my handmaids; they know their mistress; they come with me and go when I depart.
Boldly will I say that if these, of whose loss you complain, were ever yours, you would never have lost them at all.
Am I alone to be stayed from using my rightful power? The heavens may grant bright sunlit days, and hide the same beneath the shade of night.
The year may deck the earth’s countenance with flowers and fruits, and again wrap it with chilling clouds.
The sea may charm with its smoothed surface, but no less justly it may soon bristle in storms with rough waves.
Is the insatiate discontent of man to bind me to a constancy which belongs not to my ways? Herein lies my very strength; this is my unchanging sport.
I turn my wheel that spins its circle fairly; I delight to make the lowest turn to the top, the highest to the bottom.
Come you to the top if you will, but on this condition, that you think it no unfairness to sink when the rule of my game demands it.
Do you not know my ways? Have you not heard how Croesus, king of Lydia, who filled even Cyrus with fear but a little earlier, was miserably put upon a pyre of burning faggots, but was saved by rain sent down from heaven?
Have you forgotten how Paulus shed tears of respect for the miseries of his captive, King Perses?”
For what else are the crying and the weeping in tragedies but for the happiness of kings overturned by the random blow of fortune?
Have you never learned in your youth the ancient allegory that in the threshold of Jove’s hall there stand two vessels, one full of evil, and one of good?
What if you have received more richly of the good? What if I have not ever withheld myself from you?
What if my changing nature is itself a reason that you should hope.
The proverbially rich and happy king; was defeated and condemned to death by Cyrus, king of Media, in 546 B.C., but spared by him.
|No. of Pages||422|
|PDF Size||15.7 MB|
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