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Conscia conditio.

Conscious conditions

Est homines inter proprium discrimen honoris,
Hic herus imperitat, servus at ille iacet.
Hanc natura tulit legem mortalibus aequam,
Ingenio magnos ut colat inferior.
Et metus, occulta & cohibet reverentia servos,
His offensa dolet, nec temerant dominos.
Quosque Scythae reduces armis superare nequibant,
Fustes, lora fugant, verberibusque domant.[1]
Sic volucres aquilam, quadrupes timet usque leonem.
Maiestas animis ingerit obsequium.

There is a natural distinction of respectability between men: here the heir commands, and there the slave lies prone. Nature has made this equitable law for humankind, so that the lesser man should honour those great in character, and fear and hidden respect should restrain the servant classes. Offence is painful to them, nor do they desecrate their rulers. And those whom the Scythians, returning, could not vanquish with weapons, they tame with blows, for they flee the scourge and the strap. Thus birds fear the eagle, and fourlegged beasts the lion: majesty brings obedience to the soul.


1.  The anecdote is related by Herodotus, The Histories, book three.

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