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The perfect friendship I speak of is indivisible; each one gives himself so entirely to his friend that he has nothing left to distribute to others. Common friendships will admit of division; one may love the beauty of this person, the good-humor of that, the liberality of a third, and so of the rest; but this friendship that possesses the whole soul, and there rules and sways with an absolute sovereignty, cannot possibly admit of a rival. If two at the same time were to call to you for succor, to which of them would you run? Should they require of you contrary offices, how could you serve them both? A unique and particular friendship dissolves all other obligations whatsoever: the secret I have sworn not to reveal to any other, I may without
I perjury communicate to him who is not another but myself.
Eudamidas a Corinthian had two friends, Charixenus and Areteus; coming to die, being poor and his two friends rich, he made his will after this manner: “I bequeath to Areteus the maintenance of my mother, to support and provide for her in her old age; and to Charixenus I bequeath the care of marrying my daughter and to give her as good a portion as he is able; and in case one of these chance to die I hereby substitute the survivor in his place.” They who first saw this will made themselves very merry at the contents: but the legatees, being made acquainted with it, accepted it with very great content; and one of them, Charixenus, dying within five days after and Areteus by that means having the charge of both duties devolved solely to him, he nourished the old woman with great care and tenderness, and of five talents he had in estate, he gave two and a half in marriage with his only daughter and two and a half in marriage with the daughter of Eudamidas.
There are two elements that go to the composition of friendship, each so sovereign that I can detect no superiority in either, no reason why either should be first named. One is truth. A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I
Before him I may think aloud. I am arrived at last in the presence of a man so real and equal that I may deal with him with the simplicity and wholeness with which one atom meets another. Almost every man we meet requires some civility-requires to be humored; he has some fame, some talent, some whim of religion or philanthropy in his head that is not to be questioned and which spoils all conversation with him. But a friend is a sane man who exercises not my ingenuity, but me. My friend gives me entertainment without requiring any stipulation on my part. A friend therefore is a sort of paradox in nature.
The other element of friendship is tenderness. We are holden to men by every sort of tie, by blood, by pride, by fear, by hope, by hate, by admiration, by every circumstance and badge and trifle—but we can scarce believe that so much character can subsist in another as to draw us by love. We chide the citizen because he makes love a commodity. It is an exchange of gifts, of useful loans. The end of friendship is a commerce the most strict and homely that can be joined. It is for aid and comfort through all the relations and passages of life and death. It is fit for serene days and graceful gifts and country ram bles, but also for rough roads and hard fare, shipwreck, poverty and persecution. We are to dignify to each other the daily needs and offices of man's life and embellish it by courage, wisdom and unity.
The most attractive feature in the character of Catullus is the warmth of his affection. No ancient poet has left so pleasant a record of the intercourse of friends or has given such proof of his own dependence on human attachment and of his readiness to meet all the claims which others have on such attachment. In his gayest hours and his greatest sorrow, amid his pleasures and his studies, he shows his thoughtful regard for others, his grateful recollection of past kindness and his own extreme need of sympathy. But if he expected much from the sympathy of his associates, he possessed in no ordinary measure the capacity of heartily loving and admiring them in return. He often expresses honest and delicate appreciation of the wit, taste and genius of his friends. Fastidious in his judgments, he was without a single touch of literary jealousy and felt a generous pride in the fame of men of established reputation as well as of his own younger com peers.
W. Y. Sellar