The Tabula Cebetes was written by the philosopher Cebes around 450 BC. Cebes was a disciple of Socrates and his particular type of moral philosophy. The Tabula Cebetes belongs to the first area of Socrates’ philosophy – the divine system – that represents a neat compartmentalised interpretation of life (the house of life) which nevertheless tries to accommodate the random and unpredictable nature of things.
The works (low relief drawings shallow frames) in this collection follow the story, chapter by chapter, and attempt to give a very old piece of writing some contemporary relevance.
Then don’t you see above, round the hill, a rock that is of great extent, high and a precipice all round? I see it said I. You see then two women standing upon this rock, who are in good plight, robust and healthy, and hold out there hands in great earnestness – they are called abstinence and the other patience and they are sisters. And who do they hold out their hands with such earnestness? They exhort those that approach the place, said he, to take courage and not to sink under their difficulties, telling them they ought to bear up yet a little while and that then they will get into a very fair and beautiful way. And when they get up to the rock how do they ascend it? For I see no way that leads up to it. These women descend from the rocks toward them, and draw them up to themselves. Then they bid them rest themselves and after a little time they give them strength and courage, they promise to place them with true learning, and they show them the way, how fair it is how smooth, how easily passable and how free from all the defects as you see. Indeed it appears so.