CHAPTER VII. SOCRATES SHOWETH ARISTARCHUS HOW TO GET RID OF POVERTY.
Socrates had an extreme tenderness for his friends, and if through imprudence they fell into any misfortune, he endeavoured to comfort them by his good counsels; if they laboured under poverty he did all he could to relieve them, teaching all men that they ought mutually to assist one another in necessity. I will set down some examples of his behaviour in these occasions.
Meeting Aristarchus, who looked very dejected, he said to him, “I see, Aristarchus, that something troubles you, but impart the cause of your grief to your friends, and perhaps we may comfort you.” “Indeed,” said he, “I am in great affliction; for since the late troubles, many persons having fled for shelter to the Piraeus, it has so fallen out that my sisters, nieces, and cousins have all thrown themselves upon me, so that I have no less than fourteen of them to maintain. You know very well that we receive no profit of our lands, the enemies being masters of the open country; our houses in the city are uninhabited, there being at present very little company in Athens; nobody will buy any goods; no man will lend money upon any interest whatever, and I believe we may as soon take it up in the middle of the streets as find where to borrow it. And I am much concerned that I shall not be able to assist my relations whom I see ready to perish, while it is impossible for me to maintain them in the present scarcity of all things.” Socrates having heard him patiently, said to him, “How comes it to pass that Ceramon, who has so many persons in his family, finds means not only to maintain them, but likewise to enrich himself by the profit he makes of them, and that you are afraid of starving to death, because you have a great many in your family?” “The reason,” answered Aristarchus, “is this, Ceramon has none but slaves to take care of, and I am to provide for persons who are free.” Socrates went on: “For which have you most esteem, for Ceramon’s slaves, or for the persons who are at your house?” “There is no comparison between them,” said Aristarchus. “Is it not then a shameful thing,” replied Socrates, “that Ceramon should grow rich by means of those whom you acknowledge to be of less value, and that you should grow poor and be reduced to straits, though you keep men of condition in your house, whom you value more?” “By no means,” said Aristarchus, “there is a wide difference betwixt the two; the slaves that Ceramon keeps follow