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Chapter IV.

And leaving all these reflections, I considered and turned in aversion from all the forms of oppression5757    συκοφαντιων. which are done among men; whence some receiving injury weep and lament, who are struck down by violence in utter default of those who protect them, or who should by all means comfort them in their trouble.5858    The text is, βίᾳ καταβλημένοι τῶν ἐπαμυνόντων ἢ ὅλως παραμυθησομένων αὐτοὺς πάσης πανταχόθεν κατεχούσης ἀπορίας. The sense is not clear. It may be: who are struck down in spite of those who protect them, and who should by all means comfort them when all manner of trouble presses them on all sides. And the men who make might their right5959    χειροδικαι. are exalted to an eminence, from which, however, they shall also fall. Yea, of the unrighteous and audacious, those who are dead fare better than those who are still alive. And better than both these is he who, being destined to be like them, has not yet come into being, since he has not yet touched the wickedness which prevails among men. And it became clear to me also how great is the envy which follows a man from his neighbours, like the sting of a wicked spirit; and I saw that he who receives it, and takes it as it were into his breast, has nothing else but to eat his own heart, and tear it, and consume both soul and body, finding inconsolable vexation in the good fortune of others.6060    Following the reading of Cod. Medic., which puts τιθέμενος for τιθέμενον. [See Cyprian, vol. v. p. 493, note 7, this series.] And a wise man would choose to have one of his hands full, if it were with ease and quietness, rather than both of them with travail and with the villany of a treacherous spirit. Moreover, there is yet another thing which I know to happen contrary to what is fit12ting, by reason of the evil will of man. He who is left entirely alone, having neither brother nor son, but prospered with large possessions, lives on in the spirit of insatiable avarice, and refuses to give himself in any way whatever to goodness. Gladly, therefore, would I ask such an one for what reason he labours thus, fleeing with headlong speed6161    προτροπάδην. from the doing of anything good, and distracted by the many various passions for making gain.6262    χρηματίσασθαι. Far better than such are those who have taken up an order of life in common,6363    κοινωνίαν ἅμα βίου ἐστείλαντο. from which they may reap the best blessings. For when two men devote themselves in the right spirit to the same objects, though some mischance befalls the one, he has still at least no slight alleviation in having his companion by him. And the greatest of all calamities to a man in evil fortune is the want of a friend to help and cheer him.6464    ἀνακτησομένου. And those who live together both double the good fortune that befalls them, and lessen the pressure of the storm of disagreeable events; so that in the day they are distinguished for their frank confidence in each other, and in the night they appear notable for their cheerfulness.6565    The text is, καὶ νύκτωρ σεμνότητι σεμνύνεσθαι, for which certain codices read σεμνότητι φαιδρύνεσθαι, and others φαιδρότητι σεμνυνεσθαι. But he who leads a solitary life passes a species of existence full of terror to himself; not perceiving that if one should fall upon men welded closely together, he adopts a rash and perilous course, and that it is not easy to snap the threefold cord.6666    Jerome cites the passage in his Commentary on Ecclesiastes [iv. 12]. Moreover, I put a poor youth, if he be wise, before an aged prince devoid of wisdom, to whose thoughts it has never occured that it is possible that a man may be raised from the prison to the throne, and that the very man who has exercised his power unrighteously shall at a later period be righteously cast out. For it may happen that those who are subject to a youth, who is at the same time sensible, shall be free from trouble,—those, I mean, who are his elders.6767    Τοὺς ὅσοι προγενέστεροι. The sense is incomplete, and some words seem missing in the text. Jerome, in rendering this passage in his Commentary on Ecclesiastes, turns it thus: ita autem ut sub sene rege versati sint; either having lighted on a better manuscript, or adding something of his own authority to make out the meaning. Moreover, they who are born later cannot praise another, of whom they have had no experience,6868    δία τὸ ἑτέρου ἀπειράτως ἔχειν. and are led by an unreasoning judgment, and by the impulse of a contrary spirit. But in exercising the preacher’s office, keep thou this before thine eyes, that thine own life be rightly directed, and that thou prayest in behalf of the foolish, that they may get understanding, and know how to shun the doings of the wicked.


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