1. Falso queritur de natura sua genus humanum, quod inbecilla atque aevi brevis forte potius quam virtute regatur. 2Nam contra reputando neque maius aliud neque praestabilius invenias magisque naturae industriam hominum quam vim aut tempus deesse. 3Sed dux atque imperator vitae mortalium animus est. Qui ubi ad gloriam virtutis via grassatur, abunde pollens potensque et clarus est neque fortuna eget, quippe quae1 probitatem, industriam, aliasque artis bonas neque dare neque eripere quoiquam potest. 4Sin captus pravis cupidinibus ad inertiam et voluptates corporis pessum datus est, perniciosa lubidine paulisper usus, ubi per socordiam vires, tempus, ingenium diffluxere, naturae infirmitas accusatur; suam quisque culpam auctores2 ad negotia transferunt.
5Quod si hominibus bonarum rerum tanta cura esset, quanto studio aliena ac nihil profutura multaque etiam periculosa <ac perniciosa>3 petunt, neque regerentur magis quam regerent casus et eo magnitudinis procederent, ubi pro mortalibus gloria aeterni fierent.
THE WAR WITH JUGURTHA
1. It is wrong for mankind to find fault with its nature on the ground that being weak and of short duration it is controlled more by chance than by virtue. On the contrary, one may discover, on reflection, that nothing is greater or more outstanding, and that it is diligence that human nature lacks rather than strength or longevity. But the leader and commander of mortals’ life is the mind. And when it advances to glory by the path of virtue, it is abundantly powerful and potent, as well as illustrious; and it has no need for good luck, since luck can neither give to nor take away from any man honesty, diligence, and other good qualities. But if the mind has been captivated by depraved desires and has sunk to sloth and sensual pleasures—after it has enjoyed ruinous indulgence for a bit, when strength, time, and talents have wasted away through indolence—the weakness of human nature stands accused; each, though they brought it on themselves, shifts the blame to his troubles.
But if men had as much concern for honorable enterprises as they have eagerness for pursuing what is foreign to their interests and bound to be unprofitable and often even dangerous and destructive, they would control events rather than be controlled by them, and would advance to that degree of greatness where glory would make them eternal instead of mortal.