Not much is known of Hermas (150c). In his story The Shepherd, he states that he was originally a slave. He eventually gained his freedom, married, started a business, lost nearly everything, watched his children stray, and finally reunited his family. The Ten Similitudes describe principles by which the Christian virtues may be attained. The similitudes consider such topics as Christians as strangers, the rich and the poor, the sinners and the righteous, blossoming and withered trees, the purpose of the commandments, fasting, and punishment. They also include long parables about branches, a tower, maidens, and mountains. The longest of these (Similitude 9) is an elaboration of the parable of the building of a tower, which had formed the matter of the third vision. The tower is the Church, and the stones of which it is built are the faithful. The tenth similitude is not a parable but a concluding chapter to summarize the work of the Shepherd.