Never afflict yourself with such reflections as I shall live without honor and never be anybody anywhere. For if to live without hon our be really a misfortune, know that it is not possible for you to fall into misfortune, any more than into vice, through anything that another can do. Is it then of your own doing that you are appointed to the magistracy or invited to feasts? By no means, How then is this to be without hon our? and how do you say that you shall never be anybody, whose part it is to be somebody in those things only which depend upon yourself, and in which it is in your power to be of the highest worth?
But then I can be of no service to my friends. How say you? of no service? Certainly they shall not have money from you, nor will you be able to get them made Roman citizens. But who told you that these things were of those that depend upon ourselves, and were not alien to us? And who is able to give that which be himself has not?
Acquire then, they say, in order that we may possess, Well, if I am able to acquire, without a loss of modesty, or faith, or high-mindedness, show me the way, and I will do it. But if you require me to sacrifice that which I have, which is really good, in order that you may compass what is no good at all, behold how unjust and inconsiderate you are! And is it not better than money, to have faith and modesty in a friend? Then rather help me on my way, and take part with me, than require me to do anything which would compel me to renounce these things.
But, you say, I shall not be bearing my part in the service of my country! Again, what do you take service to consist in? Your country will not be enriched through you with porticos and public baths. And what then? The smith does not supply her with shoes, nor the shoemaker with weapons, but it is enough that every man fulfil his own work, And if you have made one faithful and modest citizen for her, are you then of no service? Wherefore neither shall you be useless to your country.
What place then, you say, shall I hold in the State? Whatever place you are able to hold, guarding still your modesty and faith. But if you cast away these things in order to be of service to the State, of what service do you think you will be to her then, when you are perfected in the contrary qualities?