L. Annaei Senecae Dialogorvm
1. Nisi te, Marcia, scirem tam longe ab infirmitate muliebris animi quam a ceteris vitiis recessisse et mores tuos velut aliquod antiquum exemplar aspici, non auderem obviam ire dolori tuo, cui viri quoque libenter haerent et incubant, nec spem concepissem tam iniquo tempore, tam inimico iudice, tam invidioso crimine posse me efficere, ut fortunam tuam absolveres. Fiduciam mihi dedit exploratum iam robur animi et magno experimento approbata virtus tua.2
Non est ignotum, qualem te in persona patris tui gesseris, quem non minus quam liberos dilexisti, excepto eo quod non optabas superstitem. Nec scio an et optaveris; permittit enim sibi quaedam contra bonum morem magna pietas. Mortem A. Cremuti
The Dialogues of Lucius Annaeus Seneca
If I did not know, Marcia,a that you were as far removed from womanish weakness of mind as from all other vices, and that your character was looked upon as a model of ancient virtue, I should not dare to assail your grief—the grief that even men are prone to nurse and brood upon—nor should I have conceived the hope of being able to induce you to acquit Fortune of your complaint, at a time so unfavourable, with her judge so hostile, after a charge so hateful. But your strength of mind has been already so tested and your courage, after a severe trial, so approved that they have given me confidence.
How you bore yourself in relation to your father is common knowledge; for you loved him not less dearly than your children, save only that you did not wish him to outlive you. And yet I am not sure that you did not wish even that; for great affection sometimes ventures to break the natural law. The death of your
- aThe particulars of Marcia’s loss are known only from this dialogue. She was an intimate friend of the empress Livia (ch. 4), and the mother of four children, two sons and two daughters, of whom only the daughters survived (ch. 16). Her protracted mourning for a son Metilius (ch. 16) calls forth this effort of Seneca. In the opening chapters elaborate reference is made to an earlier loss, when her father, the historian, A. Cremutius Cordus, accused of treason under Tiberius (a.d. 25), committed suicide.