John of Salisbury on Pride and Death

“Pride is truly the root of all the evils that feed mortality.  Streams become dry if the source of the flow is cut off; a tree will not thrive with severed roots.  Vices languish if passion banished; yet if manure is piled upon the roots, the tree will become fertile and the sterility of the desert will recede.  If the source of the liquid overflows, then the increase turns into streams; if fuel is added to the fire, then the blaze of the wood is renewed.  So if one fosters the poisonous vice of pride inherent in nature, not even if one wishes can one impede that virus of mortification from infecting the vital organs.  Love of self is not as much akin to man as inherent in him.  If someone exceeds the mean, he veers toward error.  All virtues are limited in their proper ends and consist in the mean; if one is excessive, one is off the path, not on the path.” John of Salisbury, Policraticus III. 3., ed. and trans. Cary J. Nederman (Cambridge 1990), p. 17.


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