IN HIS TREATISE
CONCERNING HUMAN LIFE.
The perfect life of man falls short indeed of the life of God, because it is not self-perfect, but surpasses that of irrational animals, because it participates of virtue and felicity. For neither is God in want of external causes; since being naturally good and happy, he is perfect from himself; nor any irrational animal. For brutes being destitute of reason, they are also destitute of the sciences pertaining to actions. But the nature of man partly consists of his own proper deliberate choice, and partly is in want of the assistance derived from divinity. For that which is capable of being fashioned by reason, which has an intellectual perception of things beautiful and base, can erectly extend itself from earth, and look to heaven, and can perceive with the eye of intellect the highest Gods,—that which is capable of all this, participates likewise of assistance from the Gods. But in consequence of possessing will, deliberate choice, and a principle of such a kind in itself as enables it to study virtue, and to be agitated by the storms of vice, to follow, and also to apostatize from the Gods,—it is likewise able to be moved by itself. Hence it is a partaker of praise and blame, honor and ignominy, partly from the Gods and partly from men, according as it zealously applies itself either to virtue or vice. For the whole reason of the thing is as follows: Divinity introduced man into the world as a most exquisite animal, to be reciprocally honored with himself, and as the eye of the orderly distribution of things. Hence also man gave names to things, becoming himself the character of them. He likewise invented letters, procuring through these a treasury of memory. And he imitated the established order of the universe, co-harmonizing by judicial proceedings and laws the communion of cities. For no work is performed by men more decorous to the world, or more worthy of the notice of the Gods, than the apt constitution of a city governed by good laws, and an orderly distribution of laws and a polity. For though each man himself by himself is nothing, and is not himself by himself sufficient to lead a life conformable to the common concord, and apt composition of a polity, yet he is well adapted to the whole and to the perfect system of society. For the life of man is the image of a lyre accurately [harmonized,] and in every respect perfect. For every lyre requires these three things, apparatus, apt composition, and a certain musical contrectation. And apparatus indeed, is a preparation of all the appropriate parts; viz. of the chords, and of the instruments which co-operate with the well-sounding and striking of the lyre. But the apt composition of the commixture of the sounds with each other. And the musical contrectation is the motion of these conformably to the apt composition. Thus also human life requires these same three things. Apparatus, indeed, which is the completion of the parts of life. But the parts of life are the goods of the body, of riches, renown, and friends. The apt composition is the co-arrangement of these according to virtue and the laws. And the musical contrectation is the commixture of these conformably to virtue and the laws; virtue sailing with a prosperous wind, and having nothing externally resisting it. For felicity does not consist in being driven from the purpose of voluntary intentions, but in obtaining them; nor in virtue being without attendants and ministrant aids; but in completely possessing its own proper powers which are adapted to actions. For man is not self-perfect, but imperfect. And he becomes perfect, partly from himself, and partly from an external cause. He is likewise perfect, either according to nature, or according to life. And he is perfect indeed according to nature, if he becomes a good man. For the virtue of each thing is the summit and perfection of the nature of that thing. Thus the virtue1 of the eyes is the summit and perfection of the nature of the eyes; and this is also true of the virtue of the ears. Thus too, the virtue of man is the summit and perfection of the nature of man. But man is perfect according to life, when he becomes happy. For felicity is the perfection and completion of human goods. Hence, again, virtue and prosperity become the parts of the life of man. And virtue, indeed, is a part of him so far as he is soul, but prosperity so far as he is connected with body. But both are parts of him so far as he is an animal. For it is the province of virtue to use in a becoming manner the goods which are conformable to nature; but of prosperity to impart the use of them. And the former, indeed, imparts deliberate choice and right reason; but the latter, energies and actions. For to wish what is beautiful in conduct and to endure things of a dreadful nature, is the proper business of virtue. But it is the work of prosperity to render deliberate choice successful, and to cause actions to arrive at the [desired] end. For the general conquers in conjunction with virtue and good fortune. The pilot sails well in conjunction with art and prosperous winds. The eye sees well in conjunction with acuteness of vision2 and light. And the life of man becomes most excellent through virtue itself, and prosperity.
1. Gale says in his notes, that after ὀφθαλμων he adds φύσιος, but he should evidently have added ἀρετα, as in the above translation.
2. In the original σύν τᾳ ὀξυδορκίᾳ, which Canter very defectively translates, videndi facultate.