Seneca the Younger, De Beneficiis

LCL 310: 50-51

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1. Inspiciamus, Liberalis virorum optime, id quod ex priore parte adhuc superest, quemadmodum dandum sit beneficium; cuius rei expeditissimam videor monstraturus viam: sic demus, quomodo 2 vellemus accipere. Ante omnia libenter, cito, sine ulla dubitatione.

Ingratum est beneficium, quod diu inter dantis manus haesit, quod quis aegre dimittere visus est et sic dare, tamquam sibi eriperet. Etiam si quid intervenit morae, evitemus omni modo, ne deliberasse videamur; proximus est a negante, qui dubitavit, nullamque iniit gratiam. Nam cum in beneficio iucundissima sit tribuentis voluntas, quia nolentem se tribuisse ipsa cunctatione testatus est, non dedit sed adversus ducentem male retinuit; multi autem sunt, quos liberales facit frontis infirmitas. Gratissima sunt 3 beneficia parata, facilia, occurrentia, ubi nulla mora fuit nisi in accipientis verecundia. Optimum est


On Benefits, II


Now let us examine, most excellent Liberalis, what still remains from the first part of the subject—the question of the way in which a benefit should be given. And in this matter I think that I can point out a very easy course—let us give in the manner that would have been acceptable if we were receiving. Above all let us give willingly, promptly, and without any hesitation.

No gratitude is felt for a benefit when it has lingered long in the hands of him who gives it, when the giver has seemed sorry to let it go, and has given it with the air of one who was robbing himself. Even though some delay should intervene, let us avoid in every way the appearance of having deliberately delayed; hesitation is the next thing to refusing, and gains no gratitude. For, since in the case of a benefit the chief pleasure of it comes from the intention of the bestower, he who by his very hesitation has shown that he made his bestowal unwillingly has not “given,” but has failed to withstand the effort to extract it; there are many indeed who become generous only from a lack of courage. The benefits that stir most gratitude are those which are readily and easily obtainable and rush to our hands, where, if there is any delay, it has come only from the delicacy of the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-de_beneficiis.1935