To this topic you ought to devote yourself before every other, how, namely, you may avoid ever being so intimately associated with some one of your acquaintances or friends as to descend to the same level with him; otherwise you will ruin yourself. But if there slips into your mind the thought, "He will think me unmannerly and will not be as friendly as he used to be," remember that nothing is done without paying for it, and that it is impossible for a man to remain the same person that he used to be, if he does not do the same things. Choose, therefore, which you prefer; either to be loved just as much as you used to be by the same persons, remaining like your former self, or else, by being superior to your former self, to lose the same affection. Because if this latter alternative is the better choice, turn forthwith in that direction, and let not the other considerations draw you away; for no man is able to make progress when he is facing both ways. But if you have preferred this course to every other, if you wish to devote yourself to this alone, and labour to perfect it, give up everything else. Otherwise this facing both ways will bring about a double result: You will neither make progress as you ought, nor will you get what you used to get before. For before, when you frankly aimed at nothing worth while, you made a pleasant companion. You cannot achieve distinction along both lines, but you must needs fall short in the one to the degree in which you take part in the other. If you do not drink with those you used to drink with, you cannot in their eyes be as pleasant a companion as you used to be; choose, therefore, whether you wish to be a hard drinker and pleasant to those persons, or a sober man and unpleasant. If you do not sing with those you used to sing with, you cannot be loved by them as you used to be; choose, therefore, here also, which you wish. For if it is better to be a man of respectful and modest behaviour than for someone to say of you, "He is a pleasant fellow," give up all other considerations, renounce them, turn your back upon them, have nothing to do with them.