It is clever how Montaigne works his way through an idea: the horse that is not rightly judged on its tack, the merit of the hawk not measured by its jesses. After making the common comparison with the judgement of humanity (why judge a man by his clothes?), he turns it around and points out that the horse does not value its bridle nor the dog its collar – why then should a person give any weight to the trappings of comfort or luxury.
It also reminded of the story about Aristippus, recounted in Diogenes Laertius (II.8.75), who was being shown around the finely appointed palace of the tyrant Dionysius by a steward. Looking around, the philosopher spat in the steward’s face; incensed, the man asked why Aristippus had done so: ‘Because it was the only place in sight that wasn’t too fancy to spit on.’1
- The same source also includes an anecdote in which Dionysius spits on Aristippus (II.8.67). [↩]