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Chapter XXXIX.

One must show fortitude in fighting against all vices, especially against avarice. Holy Job teaches this lesson.

202. Fortitude of soul, then, is not an unimportant thing, nor is it cut off from the other virtues, for it wages war in conjunction with the virtues, and alone defends the beauty of all the virtues, and guards their powers of discernment, and fights against all vices with implacable hate. It is unconquerable as regards labours, brave to endure dangers, stern as against pleasures, hardened against allurements, to which it knows not how to lend an ear, nor, so to speak, to give a greeting. It cares not for money, and flies from avarice as from a plague that destroys all virtue.295295    Cic. de Off. I. 20, § 68. For nothing is so much opposed to fortitude as when one allows oneself to be overcome by gain. Often when the enemy is repulsed and the hosts of the foe are turned to flight, has the warrior died miserably among those whom he has laid low, whilst he is busy with the spoils of the fallen; and the legions, whilst busy with their booty, have called back upon them the enemy that had fled, and so have been robbed of their triumph.

203. Fortitude, then, must repulse so foul a plague and crush it down. It must not let itself be tempted by desires, nor shaken by fear. Virtue stands true to itself and bravely pursues all vices as though they were the poison of virtue. It must repel anger as it were with arms, for it removes counsel far off. It must avoid it as though it were some severe sickness.296296    There is a considerable variation of text here. The original of the translation is: “iracundiam velut quibusdam propulset armis, quæ tollat consilium, et tanquam ægritudinem vitet.” Cod. Dresd. reads: “iracundiam…propulset arietibus armisque tollat et convicia tanquam ægritudinem vitet.” It must further be on its guard against a desire for glory, which often has done harm when sought for too anxiously, and always when it has been once attained.

204. What of all this was wanting in holy Job, or in his virtue, or what came upon him in the way of vice? How did he bear the distress of sickness or cold or hunger? How did he look upon the dangers which menaced his safety? Were the riches from which so much went to the poor gathered together by plunder? Did he ever allow greed for wealth, or the desire for pleasures, or lusts to rise in his heart? Did ever the unkind disputes of the three princes, or the insults of the slaves, rouse him to anger? Did glory carry him away like some fickle person when he called down vengeance on himself if ever he had hidden even an involuntary fault, or had feared the multitude of the people so as not to confess it in the sight of all? His virtues had no point of contact with any vices, but stood firm on their own ground. Who, then, was so brave as holy Job? How can he be put second to any, on whose level hardly one like himself can be placed?


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