Seneca the Younger, De Consolatione ad Marciam

LCL 254: 28-29

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respuat et in capita inimicorum aut ipsius intempestivi monitoris abire illa iubeat? “Non 5 putavi futurum.” Quicquam tu putas non futurum, quod scis1 posse fieri, quod multis vides evenisse? Egregium versum et dignum qui non e pulpito exiret:

Cuivis potest accidere quod cuiquam potest!

Ille amisit liberos; et tu amittere potes. Ille damnatus est; et tua innocentia sub ictu est. Error decipit hic, effeminat, dum patimur quae numquam pati nos posse providimus. Aufert vim praesentibus malis qui futura prospexit.


10. Quicquid est hoc, Marcia, quod circa nos ex adventicio fulget, liberi, honores, opes, ampla atria et exclusorum clientium turba referta vestibula, clarum nomen,2 nobilis aut formosa coniux ceteraque ex incerta et mobili sorte pendentia alieni commodatique apparatus sunt; nihil horum dono datur. Conlaticiis et ad dominos redituris instrumentis scaena adornatur; alia ex his primo die, alia secundo referentur, pauca 2 usque ad finem perseverabunt. Itaque non est quod nos suspiciamus tamquam inter nostra positi; mutua accepimus. Usus fructusque noster est, cuius tempus ille arbiter muneris sui temperat; nos oportet in promptu habere quae in incertum diem data sunt et


To Marcia On Consolation

pass over to the head of an enemy or even to that of his untimely adviser? You say: “I did not think it would happen.” Do you think there is anything that will not happen, when you know that it is possible to happen, when you see that it has already happened to many? A striking verse this—too good to have come from the stage:

Whatever can one man befall can happen just as well to all!a

That man lost his children; you also may lose yours. That man was condemned to death; your innocence also is in imminent peril. Such is the delusion that deceives and weakens us while we suffer misfortunes which we never foresaw that we ourselves could possibly suffer. He robs present ills of their power who has perceived their coming beforehand.

All these fortuitous things, Marcia, that glitter about us—children, honours, wealth, spacious halls and vestibules packed with a throng of unadmitted clients, a famous name, a high-born or beautiful wife, and all else that depends upon uncertain and fickle chance—these are not our own but borrowed trappings; not one of them is given to us outright. The properties that adorn life’s stage have been lent, and must go back to their owners; some of them will be returned on the first day, others on the second, only a few will endure until the end. We have, therefore, no reason to be puffed up as if we were surrounded with the things that belong to us; we have received them merely as a loan. The use and the enjoyment are ours, but the dispenser of the gift determines the length of our tenure. On our part we ought always to keep in readiness the gifts that have been granted

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-de_consolatione_ad_marciam.1932