Is some one preferred before you at a feast or in salutation, or in being invited to give counsel? Then if these things be good, you should rejoice that he has gained them; but if evil, why grieve that you have not? But remember that if you do not do as other men, in order to gain the things that depend not upon ourselves, neither shall you be rewarded as they.
For how is it possible for you to have an equal share with him who hangs about other men’s doors, and attends upon them, and flatters them, when you yourself will do none of these things? You are unjust then, and insatiable, if you wish to gain the things that depend not upon ourselves, for nothing, and without paying the price for which they are sold.
But how much is your head of lettuce sold for? A penny perchance. Go to, then: if one will lay out a penny he may have a head of lettuce; but you who do not choose to lay out your penny shall not have your lettuce. But you must not suppose that you will be therefore worse off than he. For he has the lettuce, but you the penny which you did not choose to part with.
And in this matter also the same principle holds good. You are not invited to somebody’s banquet? That is because you did not give the entertainer the price that banquets are sold for — and they are sold for flattery, they are sold for attendance. Pay then the price if you think you will profit by the exchange. But if you are determined not to lay out these things, and at the same time to gain the others—surely you are a greedy man, and an infatuated.
Shall you have nothing then instead of the banquet which you give up? Yea verily, you shall have this — not to have praised one whom you did not care to praise, nor to have endured the insolence of a rich man’s doorkeepers.