Seneca the Younger, De Consolatione ad Marciam

LCL 254: 30-31

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appellatos sine querella reddere: pessimi debitoris est 3 creditori facere convicium. Omnes ergo nostros, et quos superstites lege nascendi optamus et quos praecedere iustissimum ipsorum votum est, sic amare debemus, tamquam nihil nobis de perpetuitate, immo nihil de diuturnitate eorum promissum sit. Saepe admonendus est animus, amet ut recessura, immo tamquam recedentia. Quicquid a fortuna datum est, 4 tamquam exempto auctore1 possideas. Rapite ex liberis voluptates, fruendos vos in vicem liberis date et sine dilatione omne gaudium haurite; nihil de hodierna nocte promittitur—nimis magnam advocationem dedi—, nihil de hac hora. Festinandum est, instatur a tergo. Iam disicietur iste comitatus, iam contubernia ista sublato clamore solventur. Rapina verum omnium est; miseri nescitis in fuga vivere!

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Si mortuum tibi filium doles, eius temporis quo natus est crimen est; mors enim illi denuntiata nascenti est; in hanc legem erat satus,2 hoc illum fatum 6 ab utero statim prosequebatur. In regnum fortunae et quidem durum atque invictum pervenimus, illius arbitrio digna atque indigna passuri. Corporibus nostris impotenter, contumeliose, crudeliter abutetur. Alios ignibus peruret vel in poenam admotis vel in remedium; alios vinciet: id nunc hosti licebit, nunc civi; alios

  • 1exempto auctore Madvig: exemplum auctore A: exemplum ab auctore F: exemptum auctore Waltz: exempturo auctore Favez after Pichon.
  • 2satus Schultess (adding erat): datus A.
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for a time not fixed, and, when called upon, to restore them without complaint; it is a very mean debtor that reviles his creditor. And so we should love all of our dear ones, both those whom, by the condition of birth, we hope will survive us, and those whose own most just prayer is to pass on before us, but always with the thought that we have no promise that we may keep them forever—nay, no promise even that we may keep them for long. Often must the heart be reminded—it must remember that loved objects will surely leave, nay, are already leaving. Take whatever Fortune gives, remembering that it has no voucher.a Snatch the pleasures your children bring, let your children in turn find delight in you, and drain joy to the dregs without delay; no promise has been given you for this night—nay, I have offered too long a respite!—no promise has been given even for this hour. We must hurry, the enemy presses upon our rear. Soon these companions will all be scattered, soon the battle-cry will be raised, and these comrade ties sundered. Nothing escapes the pillage; poor wretches, amid the rout ye know not how to live!b

If you grieve for the death of your son, the blame must go back to the time when he was born; for his death was proclaimed at his birth; into. this condition was he begotten, this fate attended him straightway from the womb. We have come into the realm of Fortune, and harsh and invincible is her power; things deserved and undeserved must we suffer just as she wills. With violence, insult, and cruelty she will maltreat our bodies. Some she will burn with fire, applied, it may be, to punish, it may be, to heal; some she will bind with chains, committing the power now to an enemy, now to a fellow-countryman; some

  • ai.e., the tenure of Fortune’s gifts is insecure.
  • bi.e., death threatens all; only the philosopher learns not to fear it—he only knows how really to live.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-de_consolatione_ad_marciam.1932