Some brilliant lines from one of the greatest figures in Western letters–the philosopher/poet Lucretius:
Lucretius The Nature of Things [The A.E. Stallings Translation]
[Book V] (lines on the value of the philosopher)
…But if you think the deeds of Hercules compare somehow, [to the work of the philosopher]
You stray from truth and common sense. For what harm could come now
To us from the gaping jaws of the Nemean lion? And what more
Have we to fear now from that bristly brute, the Arcadian boar? [and several other monsters slain by Hercules]
…And yet what dangers threaten if the mind is not washed clear,
What battles we unwillingly invite into the heart!
How biting are desire’s cares that worry man apart,
How menacing the fears! And then consider Pride and Wrath
And Lust—and the catastrophes which are their aftermath—
And Gluttony and Sloth. And he who’s conquered all these, then,
And banished them from the mind—not by the sword, but by the pen—
Shouldn’t he be numbered with the gods and not with men?
[lines 22-24, 42-52]