More questions and answers. Note Verse 20 with its reference to flying through the air written in 150 B. C.
ON the following day they sat down to table again and continued the banquet according to the same arrangements.
2 When the king thought that a fitting opportunity had arrived to put inquiries to his guests, he proceeded to ask further questions of the men who sat next in order to those who had given answers on the previous day.
3 He began to open the conversation with the eleventh man, for there were ten who had been asked questions on the former occasion.
4 When silence was established, he asked how he could continue to be rich?
5 After a brief reflection, the man who had been asked the question replied--'If he did nothing unworthy of his position, never acted licentiously, never lavished expense on empty and vain pursuits, but by acts of benevolence made all his subjects well disposed towards himself. For it is God who is the author of all good things and Him man must needs obey.'
6 The king bestowed praise upon him and then asked another how he could maintain the truth?
7 In reply to the question he said, 'By recognizing that a lie brings great disgrace upon all men, and more especially upon kings. For since they have the power to do whatever they wish, why should they resort to lies? In addition to this you must always remember, O King, that God is a lover of the truth.
8 The king received the answer with great delight and looking at another said, 'What is the teaching of wisdom?'
9 And the other replied, 'As you wish that no evil should befall you, but to be a partaker of all good things, so you should act on the same principle towards your subjects and offenders, and you should mildly admonish the noble and good. For God draws all men to Himself by his benignity.'
10 The king praised him and asked the next in order how he could be the friend of men?
11 And he replied, 'By observing that the human race increases and is born with much trouble and great suffering: wherefore you must not lightly punish or inflict torments upon them, since you know that the life of men is made up of pains and penalties. For if you understood everything you would be filled with pity, for God also it pitiful!
12 The king received the answer with approbation and inquired of the next, 'What is the most essential qualification for ruling?'
13 'To keep oneself,' he answered, 'free from bribery and to practise sobriety during the greater part of one's life, to honour rightousness above all things, and to make friends of men of this type. For God, too, is a lover of justice!
13 Having signified his approval, the king said to another, 'What is the true mark of piety?'
14 And he replied, 'To perceive that God constantly works in the Universe and knows all things, and no man who acts unjustly and works wickedness can escape His notice. As God is the benefactor of the whole world, so you, too, must imitate Him and be void of offence!
15 The king signified his agreement and said to another, 'What is the essence of kingship?'
16 And he replied, 'To rule oneself well and not to be led astray by wealth or fame to immoderate or unseemly desires, this is the true way of ruling if you reason the matter well out. For all that you really need is yours, and God is free from need and benignant withal. Let your thoughts be such as become a man, and desire not many things but only such as are necessary for ruling!
17 The king praised him and asked another man, how his deliberations might be for the best?
18 And he replied, 'If he constantly set justice before him in everything and thought that injustice was equivalent to deprivation of life. For God always promises the highest blessings to the just!'
19 Having praised him, the king asked the next, how he could be free from disturbing thoughts in his sleep?
20 And he replied, 'You have asked me a. question which is very difficult to answer, for we cannot bring our true selves into play during the hours for sleep, but are held fast in these by imaginations that cannot be controlled by reason. For our souls possess the feeling that they actually see the things that enter into our consciousness during sleep. But we make a mistake if we suppose that we are actually sailing on the sea in boats or flying through the air 1 or travelling to other regions or anything else of the kind. And yet we actually do imagine such things to be taking place.
21 So far as it is possible for me to decide, I have reached the following conclusion. You must in every possible way, O King, govern your words and actions by the rule of piety that you may have the consciousness that you are maintaining virtue and that you never choose to gratify yourself at the expense of reason and never by abusing your power do despite to righteousness.
22 For the mind mostly busies itself in sleep with the same things with, which it occupies itself when awake. And he who has all his thoughts and actions set towards the noblest ends establishes himself in righteousness both when he is awake and when he is asleep. Wherefore. you must be steadfast in the constant discipline of self.
23 The king bestowed praise on the man and said to another--'Since you are the tenth to answer, when you have spoken, we will devote ourselves to the banquet.' And then he put the question, how can I avoid doing anything unworthy of myself?
24 And he replied, 'Look always to your own fame and your own supreme position, that you may speak and think only such things as are consistent therewith, knowing that all your subjects think and talk about you. For you must not appear to be worse than the actors, who study carefully the rôle, which it is necessary for them to play, and shape all their actions in accordance with it. You are not acting a part, but are really a king, since God has bestowed upon
you a royal authority in keeping with your character.'
25 When the king had applauded loud and long in the most, gracious way, the guests were urged to seek repose. So when the conversation ceased, they devoted themselves to the next course of the feast.
26 On the following day, the same arrangement was observed, and when the king found an opportunity of putting questions to the men, he questioned the first of those who had been left over for the next interrogation, What is the highest form of government?
27 And he replied, 'To rule oneself and not to be carried away by impulses. For all men possess a certain natural bent of mind. It is probable that most men have an inclination towards food and drink and pleasure, and kings a bent towards the acquisition of territory and great renown. But it is good that there should be moderation in all things.
28 What God gives, that you must take and keep, but never yearn for things that are beyond your reach.'
29 Pleased with these words, the king asked the next, how he could be free from envy?
30 And he after a brief pause replied, 'If you consider first of all that it is God who bestows on all kings glory and great wealth and no one is king by his own power. All men wish to share this glory but cannot, since it is the gift of God!
31 The king praised the man in a long speech and then asked another, how he could despise his enemies?
32 And he replied, 'if you show kindness to all men and win their friendship, you need fear no one. To be popular with all men is the best of good gifts to receive from God!
33 Having praised this answer the king ordered the next man to reply to the question, how he could maintain his great renown?
34 And he replied that 'If you are generous and large-hearted in bestowing kindness and acts of grace upon others, you will never lose your renown, but if you wish the aforesaid graces to continue yours, you must call upon God continually.'
35 The king expressed his approval and asked the next, To whom ought a man to show liberality?
36 And he replied, 'All men acknowledge that we ought to show liberality to those who are well disposed towards us, but I think that we ought to show the same keen spirit of generosity to those who are opposed to us that by this means we may win them over to the right and to what is advantageous to ourselves. But we must pray to God that this may be accomplished, for he rules the minds of all men.'
37 Having expressed his agreement with the answer, the king asked the sixth to reply to the question, to whom ought we to exhibit gratitude?
38 And he replied, 'To our parents continually, for God has given us a most important commandment with regard to the honour due to parents. In the next place He reckons the attitude of friend towards friend for He speaks of "a friend which is as thine own soul." You do well in trying to bring all men into friendship with yourself.'
39 The king spoke kindly to him and then asked the next, What is it that resembles beauty in value?
40 And he said, 'Piety, for it is the pre-eminent form of beauty, and its power lies in love, which is the gift of God. This you have already acquired and with it all the blessings of life.'
41 The king in the most
gracious way applauded the answer and asked another, how, if he were to fail, he could regain his reputation again in the same degree?
42 And he said, 'It is not possible for you to fail, for you have sown in all men the seeds of gratitude which produce a harvest of goodwill, and this is mightier than the strongest weapons and guarantees the greatest security. But if any man does fail, he must never again do those things which caused his failure, but he must form friendships and act justly. For it is the gift of God to be able to do good actions and not the contrary.'
43 Delighted with these words, the king asked another, how he could be free from grief?
44 And he replied, 'If he never injured any one, but did good to everybody and followed the pathway of righteousness, for its fruits bring freedom from grief. But we must pray to God that unexpected evils such as death or disease or pain or anything of this kind may not come upon us and injure us. But since you are devoted to piety, no such misfortune will ever come upon you.'
45 The king bestowed great praise upon him and asked the tenth, What is the highest form of glory?
46 And he said, 'To honour God, and this is done not with gifts and sacrifices but with purity of soul and holy conviction, since all things are fashioned and governed by God in accordance with His will. Of this purpose you are in constant possession as all men can she from your achievements in the past and in the present.'
47 With loud voice the king greeted them all and spoke kindly to them, and all those who were present expressed their approval, especially the philosophers. For they were far superior to them [i. e. the philosophers] both in conduct and in argument, since they always made God their starting-point.
48 After this the king to show his good feeling proceeded to drink the health of his guests.
165:1 Written about 150 B. C.!