Zeno’s Conscience: quotes (22)

A reputation for cleverness was very useful. For one thing, many came to seek his counsel, bringing him the latest news, while he gave them the most helpful advice, confirmed by experience accumulated ever since the Middle Ages. At times he happened to gain, along with the news, the possibility of selling some merchandise. Finally – and here he started shouting because he felt he had at last hit upon the argument that should convince me – to sell or to buy profitably, everyone seeks out the most clever man. From the fool they could hope for nothing, except perhaps to persuade him to sacrifice his own interest, but his goods always cost more than the clever man’s, because he has already been swindled at the moment of purchase.