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§8. To Nicobulus.

(See the introduction to the first letter to Sophronius above.)

Ep. XII.  (About a.d. 365).

You joke me about Alypiana as being little and unworthy of your size, you tall and immense and monstrous fellow both in form and strength.  For now I understand that soul is a matter of measure, and virtue of weight, and that rocks are more valuable than pearls, and crows more respectable than nightingales.  Well, well! rejoice in your bigness and your cubits, and be in no respect inferior to the famed sons of Aloeus.47774777    Otus and Ephialtes, the two Homeric Giants, who piled Pelion on Ossa and Olympus on Pelion in the vain endeavour to reach heaven and dethrone Zeus, but were slain by Apollo.  (See Hom., Odyss., xi., 305–320.)  You ride a horse, and shake a spear, and concern yourself with wild beasts.  But she has no such work; and no great strength is needed to carry a comb,47784778    An instrument used in weaving to make the web firm and close. or to handle a distaff, or to sit by a loom, “For such is the glory of woman.”47794779    From his own Poem against women who take too much pains about adorning themselves (i., 267).  And if you add this, that she has become fixed to the ground on account of prayer, and by the great movement of her mind has constant communion with God, what is there here to boast of in your bigness or the stature of your body?  Take heed to seasonable silence:  listen to her voice:  mark her unadornment, her womanly virility, her usefulness at home, her love of her husband.  Then you will say with the Laconian, that verily soul is not a subject for measure, and the outer must look to the inner man.  If you look at the things in this way you will leave off joking and deriding her as little, and you will congratulate yourself on your marriage.

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