— Julian (emperor) Roman Emperor, philosopher and writer 331 - 363
The Caesars (c. 361)
Kontext: Hermes addressed Marcus and said, "and you, Verus, what did you think the noblest ambition in life?" In a low voice he answered modestly, "To imitate the gods." This answer they at once agreed was highly noble and in fact the best possible. And even Hermes did not wish to cross-examine him further, since he was convinced that Marcus would answer every question equally well.
The other gods were of the same mind; only Silenus cried "By Dionysus I shall not let this sophist off so easily. Why then did you eat bread and drink wine and not ambrosia and nectar like us?" "Nay," he replied "it was not in the fashion of my meat and drink that I thought to imitate the gods. But I nourished my body because I believed, though perhaps falsely, that even your bodies require to be nourished by the fumes of sacrifice. Not that I supposed I ought to imitate you in that respect, but rather your minds."
For the moment Silenus was at a loss as though he had been hit by a good boxer, then he said: "There is perhaps something in what you say; but now tell me what did you think was really meant by 'imitating the gods.'"
"Having the fewest possible needs, and doing good to the greatest possible number."