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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Theophrastus (c. 371–287 B.C.)

Of Vainglory

From “The Characters”

THE SORT of vainglory which is conversant with minute and frivolous matters may be called a vulgar and foolish affectation of honor. A person affected with this vice, when he is invited to a feast, strives to sit next him that gives the banquet. He takes his son to Delphos, where he cuts off his hair and consecrates it to some god. He loves to have a black for his footman. When he pays a sum, it is all in new money. When he has sacrificed an ox, he takes the fore part of the head, and, adorning it with ribbons and flowers, fixes it without doors at the entrance of his house, that every one may see and know what he has sacrificed. Upon returning from a cavalcade in which he and other citizens have taken part, he sends all his equipage home except his robe of state, in which he struts about all the rest of the day in the public places of the city. When his little dog dies, he has a formal burial, and erects a tomb for it, with this epitaph: “He was of the Malta breed.” He consecrates a brass ring to Æsculapius, to which he hangs garlands of all sorts of flowers. He perfumes himself all over every day. During the time of his magistracy he uses a great deal of caution and circumspection, and when he goes out of office he gives the people an account of his management of affairs, and how many and of what sort his sacrifices were. Being clad in a white robe, and having a garland of flowers on his head, he goes out and makes a speech to the people: “Oh, Athenians, we magistrates have sacrificed to the mother of the gods, and paid her all the solemn worship that is due to her! Therefore you may justly expect everything to proceed prosperously with you.” This done, he goes home and tells his wife that he has come off with great applause and approbation.