Agricola, Georgius, De re metallica, 1912/1950

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Insane indeed is he who makes more of riches than of virtue. Insane
also is he who rejects them and considers them as worth nothing, instead of
using them with reason.
Yet as to the gold which Aristippus on another
occasion flung into the sea from a boat, this he did with a wise and prudent
mind.
For learning that it was a pirate boat in which he was sailing, and
fearing for his life, he counted his gold and then throwing it of his own will
into the sea, he groaned as if he had done it unwillingly.
But afterward,
when he escaped the peril, he said: “It is better that this gold itself should
be lost than that I should have perished because of it.” Let it be granted
that some philosophers, as well as Anacreon of Teos, despised gold and
silver.
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae also gave up his sheep-farms and
became a shepherd.
Crates the Theban too, being annoyed that his
estate and other kinds of wealth caused him worry, and that in his con-
templations his mind was thereby distracted, resigned a property valued at
ten talents, and taking a cloak and wallet, in poverty devoted all his
thought and efforts to philosophy.
Is it true that because these philo-
sophers despised money, all others declined wealth in cattle?
Did they
refuse to cultivate lands or to dwell in houses?
There were certainly many,
on the other hand, who, though affluent, became famous in the pursuit of
learning and in the knowledge of divine and human laws, such as Aristotle,
Cicero, and Seneca.
As for Phocion, he did not deem it honest to accept the
gold sent to him by Alexander.
For if he had consented to use it, the
king as much as himself would have incurred the hatred and aversion of
the Athenians, and these very people were afterward so ungrateful toward
this excellent man that they compelled him to drink hemlock.
For what
would have been less becoming to Marcus Curius and Fabricius Luscinus
than to accept gold from their enemies, who hoped that by these means
those leaders could be corrupted or would become odious to their fellow
citizens, their purpose being to cause dissentions among the Romans and
destroy the Republic utterly.
Lycurgus, however, ought to have given
instructions to the Spartans as to the use of gold and silver, instead of
abolishing things good in themselves.
As to the Babytacenses, who does
not see that they were senseless and envious?
For with their gold they might
have bought things of which they were in need, or even given it to neigh-
bouring peoples to bind them more closely to themselves with gifts and
favours.
Finally, the Scythians, by condemning the use of gold and silver

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