Monday, January 07, 2019

The Pancratiast

I have already once observed in a contest of pancratiasts how one of the combatants inflicted blows with hands and feet, all well aimed, and omitted nothing that could lead to his victory, but then exhausted and weakened ultimately quit the arena without the crown, whereas the one receiving the blows, a firm mass of compact flesh, dour, solid, full of the elasticity of the true athlete, all muscle, hard as rock or iron, gave no ground in the face of the blows, but by his patient and steadfast endurance reduced the strength of his adversary until he had attained complete victory. Much the same, it seems to me, is the situation of the virtuous man; his soul well fortified through firm reasoning, he compels the one who acts with violence to sink in exhaustion, sooner than himself submit to do anything contrary to his judgment.

[Philo of Alexandria, Quod Omnis Probis Liber Sit 26-27, as translated in Philo of Alexandria, The Contemplative Life, the Giants, and Selections, Winston, tr., Paulist Press (Ramsey, NJ: 1981), p. 77. A different translation of the same passage is available here.]

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