Ethical Erudition, Happiness, and Discipline

Archytas' Treatises

September 9, 2015

Treatise On Ethical Erudition

Virtue is sufficient to prevent infelicity. Vice leads to the non-attainment of felicity.

The bad man is always miserable whether he is in affluence, for he employs it badly; or whether he is in penury; just as the blind man, whether he has light, and the most splendid visible object before him, or whether he is in the dark [is always necessarily without sight].

But the good man is not always happy, for felicity does not consist in the possession, but in the use of virtue.

For neither does he who has sight always see; for he will not see, if he is without light. Life, however, is divided into two paths; one of which is more arduous, and in which the 243 patient Ulysses walked; but the other is more free from molestation, and is that in which Nestor proceeded.

Virtue desires the latter, but is able to proceed in the former of these paths.

The nature however of felicity proclaims it to be a desirable and stable life, because it gives perfection to the decision of the soul.

Hence, the virtuous man who does not obtain such a life as this, is not indeed happy, nor yet entirely miserable. No one therefore will dare to say that the good man should be exempt from disease, and pain, and sorrow. For as we leave certain painful things to the body, so likewise we must permit them to be present with the soul. The sorrows, however, of fools are most irrational; but those of wise men proceed only as far as reason, which gives limitation to things, permits.

Moreover, the boast of apathy dissolves the generosity of virtue, when it opposes itself to things of an indifferent nature, and not to evils such as death, and pain, and poverty. For things which are not evils are easily vanquished. We should therefore exercise ourselves in the mediocrity of the passions, as we shall then equally avoid insensibility, and too much passivity, and shall not speak higher of our nature than we ought.

Treatise On The Good And Happy Man

The good man is one who uses in a beautiful manner great things and opportunities.

He likewise is able to bear well both prosperity and adversity. In beautiful and honorable circumstances also, he becomes worthy of the condition in which he is placed; and when his fortune is changed, receives it in a proper manner.

In short, on all occasions, he contends well from contingencies that may arise. Nor does he only thus prepare himself [for whatever may happen], but likewise those who confide in and contend together with him.