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Today's Stichomancy for Ho Chi Minh

The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Protagoras by Plato:

'The good are sometimes good and sometimes bad.'

But the bad does not become bad; he is always bad. So that when the force of circumstances overpowers the man of resources and skill and virtue, then he cannot help being bad. And you, Pittacus, are saying, 'Hard is it to be good.' Now there is a difficulty in becoming good; and yet this is possible: but to be good is an impossibility--

'For he who does well is the good man, and he who does ill is the bad.'

But what sort of doing is good in letters? and what sort of doing makes a man good in letters? Clearly the knowing of them. And what sort of well- doing makes a man a good physician? Clearly the knowledge of the art of healing the sick. 'But he who does ill is the bad.' Now who becomes a bad

The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Eryxias by Platonic Imitator:

and the possessors of it are the wealthy, whereas in some other place it is not money, and the ownership of it does not confer wealth; just as the standard of morals varies, and what is honourable to some men is dishonourable to others. And if we wish to enquire why a house is valuable to us but not to the Scythians, or why the Carthaginians value leather which is worthless to us, or the Lacedaemonians find wealth in iron and we do not, can we not get an answer in some such way as this: Would an Athenian, who had a thousand talents weight of the stones which lie about in the Agora and which we do not employ for any purpose, be thought to be any the richer?

ERASISTRATUS: He certainly would not appear so to me.

The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Hiero by Xenophon:

festivals,[18] seeing it is not safe for him to go where he will find himself at the mercy of the assembled crowds;[19] nor are his home affairs in such security that he can leave them to the guardianship of others, whilst he visits foreign parts. A twofold apprehension haunts him:[20] he will be robbed of his throne, and at the same time be powerless to take vengeance on his wrongdoer.[21]

[13] {logizomenos}, "to apply my moral algebra."

[14] {en tois dia tes opseos theamasi}. See Hartman, "An. Xen. Nova," p. 246. {theamasi} = "spectacular effects," is perhaps a gloss on "all objects apprehensible through vision." Holden (crit. app.) would rather omit {dia tes opseos} with Schneid.

The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens:

'--Or that,' returned John Grueby, beating down his guard with his whip, and striking him on the head with its butt end. 'Yes, I played a little once. You wear your hair too long; I should have cracked your crown if it had been a little shorter.'

It was a pretty smart, loud-sounding rap, as it was, and evidently astonished Hugh; who, for the moment, seemed disposed to drag his new acquaintance from his saddle. But his face betokening neither malice, triumph, rage, nor any lingering idea that he had given him offence; his eyes gazing steadily in the old direction, and his manner being as careless and composed as if he had merely brushed away a fly; Hugh was so puzzled, and so disposed to look upon him


Barnaby Rudge