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Thus the little ant (for she may serve for an example) of great industry, carries with her mouth whatever she is able, and adds to her heap, which she piles up, by no means ignorant of, and not improvident for, the future.
Which ant, nevertheless, as soon as Aquarius saddens the inverted year, never creeps abroad, but wisely makes use of those stores, which were provided beforehand: while neither sultry summer, nor winter, fire, ocean, sword, can drive you from the pursuit of gain. You surmount every obstacle that no other man may be richer than yourself. But what pleasure is it for you, anxious to deposit an immense weight of silver and gold in the earth, dug up by stealth, to hide it?
But if you should lessen it, it may be reduced, in time, to a paltry farthing
But unless that be the case, what beauty has an accumulated hoard? Though your threshing-floor should yield a hundred thousand bushels of corn, your belly will not on that account contain more than mine; just as if it was your lot to carry on your loaded shoulder the basket of bread amongst slaves, you would receive no more for your own share than he who bore no part of the burden. Or tell me, what is it to the purpose of that man, who lives within the compass of nature, whether he plough a hundred or a thousand acres?
But it is still delightful to take out of a great hoard.
While you leave us as much to take out of a moderate store, why should you extol your great granaries more than our smaller repositories; as if you had occasion for no more than a pitcher or Quàm ex hoc fonticulo tantundem sumere: eo fit,
56 Plenior ut si quos delectet copia justo, Cum ripâ simul avulsos ferat Aufidus acer. At qui tantulo eget, quanto est opus, is neque limo Turbatam haurit aquam, neque vitam amittit in undis.
60 At bona pars hominum, decepta cupidine falso, Nil satis est, inquit; quia tanti, quantum habeas,
sis. Quid facias illi? jubeas miserum esse, libenter* Quatenus id facit: ut quidam memoratur Athenis Sordidus ac dives, populi contemnere voces
65 Sic solitus: Populus me sibilat; at mihi plaudo Ipse domi, simul ac nummos contemplor in arcâ. Tantalus à labris sitiens fugientia captat Flumina. Quid rides? mutato nomine, de te Fabula narratur. Congestis undique saccis
70 Indormis inhians, et tanquam parcere sacris Cogeris, aut pictis tanquam gaudere tabellis. Nescis quò valeat nummus? quem præbeat usum? Panis ematur, olus, vini sextarius; adde, Queis humana sibi doleat natura negatis. 75 An vigilare metu exanimem, noctesque diesque Formidare malos fures, incendia, servos, Ne te compilent fugientes; hoc juvat? horum Semper ego optârim pauperrimus esse bonorum, glass of water? and should say, I had rather draw 80 much from a great river, than the same quantity from this little fountain. Hence it comes, that the rapid Aufidus carries away, together with the bank, such as an abundance more copious than what is just delights. But he who desires only so much as is sufficient, neither drinks his water fouled with the mud, nor loses his life in the waves. But a great majority of mankind, misled by depraved desire, cry, No sum is enough; because you are esteemed in proportion to what you possess. What can one do to such a tribe as this? why, bid them be wretched, since their inclination prompts them to it. As a certain person is recorded to have lived at Athens, covetous and rich, who was wont to despise the talk of the people in this manner: The crowd hiss me abroad; but I applaud myself at home, as soon as I contemplate my money in my chest. The thirsty Tantalus catches at the streams that elude his lips. Why do you laugh? The name changed, and the tale is told of you. You sleep upon your bags heaped up on every side, avidiously gaping over them, and are obliged to abstain from them, as if they were consecrated things, or to amuse yourself with them, as you would with pictures. Are you ignorant of what real value money is, what use it can afford? Bread, herbs, a * bottle of wine, may be purchased with it; to which necessaries add such others as being withheld, human nature would be uneasy with itself. What, to watch, half dead with terror, night and day, to dread profligate thieves, fire,
* Jubeas miseram esse libenter, Bentl,
At si condoluit tentatum frigore corpus; 80
* Lecto te afflixit."
+ An si cognatus.
and your slaves, lest they should run away and plunder you; is this delightful? As for me, I should always wish to be very poor in possessions held upon these terms.
But if your body should be disordered by being seized with a cold, or any other casualty should confine you to your bed, have you one that will abide by you, prepare medicines, entreat the physician that he would raise you to your feet, and restore you to your children and dear relations?
Nor your wife, nor your son, desires your recovery; all your neighbours, acquaintance, nay the very boys and girls, hate you. And do you wonder that no one tenders you the affection, which you by no means merit, since you prefer your money to every thing else? But, if you think to retain, and preserve for your friends the relations which nature gives you, without taking any pains; wretch that you are, you lose your labour equally, as if any one should train an ass to be obedient to the rein, and run in the Campus Martius. At last, let there be some end to your searching after riches: and since you have more than enough, be in less dread of poverty; and begin to cease from your toil, that being acquired which you coveted: nor do as did one Umidius, it is no tedious story, who was so rich, he measured his money, but so sordid, that he never clothed himself any better than a slave; and, even to his last moments, was in dread lest want of bread should starve him: but his freedwoman, the* bravest of all the daughters of Tyndarus, cut him in two with a hatchet.
* Helen and Clytemnestra, the daughters of Tyndarus, killed their husbands, Deiphobus and Agamemnon, with this weapon.