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How A Man May Be Benefited By His Enemies
by [?]

Sec. I. I am well aware, Cornelius Pulcher, that you prefer the mildest manners in public life, by which you can be at once most useful to the community, and most agreeable in private life to those who have any dealings with you. But since it is difficult to find any region without wild beasts, though it is related of Crete;[497] and hitherto there has been no state that has not suffered from envy, rivalry, and strife, the most fruitful seeds of hostility; (for, even if nothing else does, our friendships involve us in enmities, as Chilo[498] the wise man perceived, who asked the man who told him he had no enemy, whether he had a friend either), it seems to me that a public man ought not only to examine the whole question of enemies in its various ramifications, but also to listen to the serious remark of Xenophon,[499] that a sensible man will receive profit even from his enemies. The ideas therefore that lately occurred to me to deliver, I have now put together nearly in the identical words and send them to you, with the exception of some matter also in “Political Precepts,”[500] a treatise which I have often noticed in your hands.

Sec. II. People in old times were well satisfied if they were not injured by strange and wild beasts, and that was the only motive of their fights with them, but those of later days have by now learnt to make use of them, for they feed on their flesh, and clothe themselves with their wool, and make medical use of their gall and beestings, and turn their hides into shields, so that we might reasonably fear, if beasts failed man, that his life would become brutish, and wild, and void of resources. Similarly since all others are satisfied with not being injured by their enemies, but the sensible will also (as Xenophon says) get profit out of them, we must not be incredulous, but seek a method and plan how to obtain this advantage, seeing that life without an enemy is impossible. The husbandman cannot cultivate every tree, nor can the hunter tame every kind of animal, so both seek means to derive profit according to their several necessities, the one from his barren trees, the other from his wild animals. Sea-water also is undrinkable and brackish, but it feeds fish, and is a sort of vehicle to convey and transport travellers anywhere. The Satyr, when he saw fire for the first time, wished to kiss it and embrace it, but Prometheus warned him,

“Goat, thou wilt surely mourn thy loss of beard.”[501]

For fire burns whoever touches it, but it also gives light and warmth, and is an instrument of art to all those who know how to use it.[502] Consider also in the case of the enemy, if he is in other respects injurious and intractable, he somehow or other gives us a handle to make use of him by, and so is serviceable. And many things are unpleasant and detestable and antagonistic to those to whom they happen, but you must have noticed that some use even illnesses as a period of rest for the body, and others by excessive toil have strengthened and trained their bodily vigour, and some have made exile and the loss of money a passage to leisure and philosophy, as did Diogenes and Crates. And Zeno, when he heard of the wreck of the ship which contained all his property, said, “Thou hast done well, Fortune, to confine me to my threadbare cloak.”[503]

For as those animals that have the strongest and healthiest stomachs eat and digest serpents and scorpions, and some even feed on stones and shells, which they convert into nourishment by the strength and heat of their stomachs, while fastidious people out of health almost vomit if offered bread and wine, so foolish people spoil even their friendships, while the wise know how to turn to account even their enmities.