Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.1
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HERE BEGINS THE AUREA GEMMA

[1.1] Glory, which is born from noble deeds, exhorts the minds of men to the exercise of virtue. Virtue would inwardly wither away if it should leave no memorial of itself to posterity. Indeed the mind established by nature rejoices to be useful to many and to obtain the favor of many. It is a blessing to imitate by deeds or words the traces of the greatest men. For there is this efficacy of virtue, that it prepares an eternal memorial1 for its followers. Virtue rightfully obtains the preeminence of excellent things. For it only befits each to ascend, lest he be placed among the lowly. I consider one thing should be sought above all others, namely honor, which I assert to be the highest good. For it pleases great men, who put honor before all other matters.2 And so we undertake a compendious treatise3 on a subject of the greatest possible utility.


1 cf. Sallust Bellum Catalinae 1.1-4.5, 8.2-5; Bellum Iugurthinum 1.1-4.9. On memory, see also below: Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.1, 1.6, 2.3,42,5,10,312,413,42,45, 3a.132,33,35,49.

2 Section I of the Aurea Gemma <Gallica> continues to accent glory, see below 1.1,3,95,23,582,65,70,77 and also 2.5; 'to glory': 3a.422. For fama, see below 2.42, 3a.52. For some classical parallels, cf. Cicero Tusc. 1.2.4: Honos alit artes omnesque incenduntur ad studia gloria, iacentque ea semper, quae apud quosque inprobantur; 45.109: ... gloria...virtutem tamquam umbra sequitur.; Seneca, Ep. 79.13: Gloria umbra virtutis est, etiam invitam comitabitur.

3 For the self-designation 'treatise', see also below, Aurea Gemma <Gallica> 1.52, 1.782.

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© Steven M. Wight, Los Angeles 1998
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