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On Talkativeness
by [?]

Sec. III. And yet nature has fenced and barricaded in us nothing so much as the tongue, having put the teeth before it as a barrier, so that if, when reason holds tight her “glossy reins,”[547] it hearken not, nor keep within bounds, we may check its intemperance, biting it till the blood comes. For Euripides tells us that, not from unbolted houses or store-rooms, but “from unbridled mouths the end is misfortune.”[548] But those persons who think that houses without doors and open purses are no good to their possessors, and yet keep their mouths open and unshut, and allow their speech to flow continually like the waves of the Euxine,[549] seem to regard speech as of less value than anything. And so they never get believed, though credit is the aim of every speech; for to inspire belief in one’s hearers is the proper end of speech, but praters are disbelieved even when they tell the truth. For as corn stowed away in a granary is found to be larger in quantity but inferior in quality, so the speech of a talkative man is increased by a large addition of falsehood, which destroys his credit.

Sec. IV. Then again every man of modesty and propriety would avoid drunkenness, for anger is next door neighbour to madness as some think,[550] but drunkenness lives in the same house: or rather drunkenness is madness, more short-lived indeed, but more potent also through volition, for it is self-chosen. Nor is drunkenness censured for anything so much as its intemperate and endless talk.

“Wine makes a prudent man begin to sing,
And gently laugh, and even makes him dance.”[551]

And yet there is no harm in all this, in singing and laughing and dancing. But the poet adds–

“And it compels to say what’s best unsaid.”[552]

This is indeed dreadful and dangerous. And perhaps the poet in this passage has solved that problem of the philosophers, and stated the difference between being under the influence of wine and being drunk, mirth being the condition of the former, foolish talk of the latter. For as the proverb tells us, “What is in the heart of the sober is on the tongue of the drunken.”[553] And so Bias, being silent at a drinking bout, and jeered at by some young man in the company as stupid, replied, “What fool could hold his tongue in liquor?” And at Athens a certain person gave an entertainment to the king’s ambassadors, and at their desire contrived to get the philosophers there too, and as they were all talking together and comparing ideas, and Zeno alone was silent, the strangers greeted him and pledged him, and said, “What are we to tell the king about you, Zeno?” And he replied, “Nothing, but that there is an old man at Athens that can hold his tongue at a drinking bout.” So profound and mysterious and sober is silence, while drunkenness is talkative: for it is void of sense and understanding, and so is loquacious. And so the philosophers define drunkenness to be silly talk in wine. Drinking therefore is not censured, if silence go with it, but foolish prating turns being under the influence of wine into drunkenness. And the drunken man prates only in his cups; but the talkative man prates everywhere, in the market-place, in the theatre, out walking, by night and by day. If he is your doctor, he is more trouble to you than your disease: if he is on board ship with you, he disgusts you more than sea-sickness; if he praises you, he is more fulsome than blame. It is more pleasure associating with bad men who have tact than with good men who prate. Nestor indeed in Sophocles’ Play, trying by his words to soothe exasperated Ajax, said to him mildly,