Seneca the Younger, De Beneficiis

LCL 310: 96-97



Iulii, viri egregii, quem C. Caesar occidit ob hoc unum, quod melior vir erat, quam esse quemquam tyranno expedit. Is cum ab amicis conferentibus ad impensam ludorum pecunias acciperet, magnam pecuniam a Fabio Persico missam non accepit et obiurgantibus iis, qui non aestimant mittentes, sed missa, quod repudiasset: “Ego,” inquit, “ab eo beneficium accipiam, a quo propinationem accepturus non sum?” 6 Cum illi Rebilus consularis, homo eiusdem infamiae, maiorem summam misisset instaretque, ut accipi iuberet: “Rogo,” inquit, “ignoscas; et a Persico non accepi.” Utrum hoc munera accipere est an senatum legere?

22. Cum accipiendum iudicaverimus, hilares accipiamus profitentes gaudium, et id danti manifestum sit, ut fructum praesentem capiat; iusta enim causa laetitiae est laetum amicum videre, iustior fecisse. Quam grate ad nos pervenisse indicemus effusis adfectibus, quos non ipso tantum audiente sed ubique testemur. Qui grate beneficium accipit, primam eius pensionem solvit.


23. Sunt quidam, qui nolint nisi secreto accipere; testem beneficii et conscium vitant; quos scias licet male cogitare. Quomodo danti in tantum producenda notitia est muneris sui, in quantum de­lectatura


On Benefits, II

us take the case of Julius Graecinus, a rare soul, whom Gaius Caesar killed simply because he was a better man than a tyrant found it profitable for anyone to be. This man, when he was receiving contributions from his friends to meet the expense of the public games, refused to accept a large sum of money that Fabius Persicus had sent; and, when those who were thinking, not of the senders, but of what was sent, reproached him because he had rejected the contribution, he replied: “Am I to accept a benefit from a man from whom I would not accept a toast to my health?” And, when a consular named Rebilus, a man of an equally bad reputation, had sent an even larger sum and insisted that he should order it to be accepted, he replied: “I beg your pardon; but I have already refused to accept money from Persicus.” Is this accepting a present or is it picking a senate?

When we have decided that we ought to accept, let us accept cheerfully, professing our pleasure and letting the giver have proof of it in order that he may reap instant reward; for, as it is a legitimate source of happiness to see a friend happy, it is a more legitimate one to have made him so. Let us show how grateful we are for the blessing that has come to us by pouring forth our feelings, and let us bear witness to them, not merely in the hearing of the giver, but everywhere. He who receives a benefit with gratitude repays the first instalment on his debt.

There are some who are not willing to receive a benefit unless it is privately bestowed; they dislike having a witness to the fact or anyone aware of it. But these, you may be sure, take a wrong view. As the giver should add to his gift only that measure of publicity which will please the one to whom he gives

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-de_beneficiis.1935