A Pleasing Word for Any Audience

Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, de Educatione Liberorum XXXII:

“There is however a pestilential class of humanity, who will praise those things which they hear praised, and will censure when they hear someone else doing it. They deny if someone else denies, and they affirm when they hear someone else affirm. Just as the octopus changes its color to match the appearance of the soil beneath it, so do these people alter their thoughts to please their audience; they are prepared to swear against justice and even against God if they should think it pleasing to the listener. Let this plague be banished from your house! You should keep true and chaste boys with you, cultivators of modesty and sanctity; not those false, lying, wine-drinking, unjust debauchees.”

Est autem pestiferum genus hominum, qui laudant quaecumque audiunt laudari, et rursus cum vituperante vituperant: negant si quis mehat, et affirmant ubi audiunt affirmantem; atque ut polypus ad speciem subiecti soli colorem mutat, ita et isti ad voluptatem audientium sententias variant, parati et adversus iustitiam et adversus Deum testificari, si placitum esse putarint audienti. Abigatur ex tuis aedibus haec pestis! Sint veraces tecum pueri, verecundi, pudici, modestiae cultores et sanctitatis; non ficti, non fallaces, non pertinaces, non vinolenti, non crapulosi, non iniurii.

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