While you have been studying law at Rome, Lollius, I have been here at Palestrina, rereading the author of the Trojan War. Homer describes better, and more plainly, what is proper conduct, what is morally debased, what expeditious, and what is not than does either the Stoic or the Academic philosopher. Listen to why I have come to believe what I've just said, unless something else has your attention.
That story, in which is pictured the mobilization of Greece and the long war caused by the adultery of Paris, that story reveals the heated passions of the unlearned (both kings and commoners alike). Antenor suggests cutting away the very cause of the war. But how does Paris react? He says that he cannot be forced to give up Helen, even on the promise of securing peace and happiness! Meanwhile Nestor works to settle the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon, each of them burning: one in anger and the other in lust. Whatever acts the leaders commit in their delirium are in turn visited on the troops as a whole. Sedition, deceit, dishonor, in addition to lust and anger --all are practiced both within and without the walls of Troy.
In his second tale Homer sets forth Odysseus as an exemplar to illustrate the power of virtue and wisdom. It was Odysseus who conquered Troy and then saw many cities, investigating the customs of men far and wide. In navigating his men (and himself) homeward he suffered much adversity yet remained unsinkable despite the opposition of the waves and of fate. You know the voices of the Sirens and the magic potions of Circe. If he had been unmindful and incontinent enough to drink them in with his cohorts, he would have become crazy and devoid of reason, living as would a filthy dog or a pig covered in mud, under the power of a duplicitous mistress.
We today, however, are a of different sort. We are the unproductive suitors to Penelope, born only to consume the fruits of the earth. We are the Phaecacians, engaged in nothing so much as our manicures, for whom right conduct is sleeping until noon and forgetting our duties while the music plays and then softly fades away....
"All words are, from a semantic point of view, more or less ambiguous. The dictionary provides a semantic analysis of the possibilities. The choice is made in the light of what appears to be the optimal probability in the light of the probable meaning of the sentence as a whole."
"The great principle for the resolution of ambiguity is the following: Every ambiguity of whatsoever sort is caused to disappear by some specific word or phrase subsequent to the ambiguous word but within the sentence. If this is not true, the ambiguity in question is not verbal ambiguity but sentence‑ambiguity and is, therefore, pathological, i.e., it is a fault of style."