Seneca the Younger, De Ira

LCL 214: 218-219

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Seneca

apparuerit, obiurgemus credulitatem; haec enim castigatio consuetudinem efficiet non facile credendi.

125. Inde et illud sequitur, ut minimis sordidissimisque rebus non exacerbemur. Parum agilis est puer aut tepidior aqua poturo aut turbatus torus aut mensa neglegentius posita—ad ista concitari insania est. Aeger et infelicis valetudinis est quem levis aura contraxit, adfecti oculi quos Candida vestis obturbat, dissolutus deliciis cuius latus alieno labore 2 condoluit. Mindyriden aiunt fuisse ex Sybaritarum civitate, qui cum vidisset fodientem et altius rastrum adlevantem, lassum se fieri questus vetuit illum opus in conspectu suo facere; idem habere se peius questus est, quod foliis rosae duplicatis incubuisset. 3 Ubi animum simul et corpus voluptates corrupere, nihil tolerabile videtur, non quia dura, sed quia mollis patitur. Quid est enim, cur tussis alicuius aut sternutamentum aut musca parum curiose fugata in rabiem agat aut obversatus canis aut clavis neglegentis 4 servi manibus elapsa? Feret iste aequo animo civile convicium et ingesta in contione curiave maledicta, cuius aures tracti subsellii stridor offendit? Perpetietur hic famem et aestivae expeditionis sitim, qui puero male diluenti nivem irascitur?

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On Anger

proves to be groundless we should chide our credulity; for this self-reproof will develop the habit of being slow to believe.

Next, too, comes this—that we should not be exasperated by trifling and paltry incidents. A slave is too slow, or the water for the winea is lukewarm, or the couch-cushion disarranged, or the table too carelessly set—it is madness to be incensed by such things. The man is ill or in a poor state of health who shrinks from a slight draught; something is wrong with a man’s eyes if they are offended by white clothing; the man is enfeebled by soft living who gets a pain in his side from seeing somebody else at work! The story is that there was once a citizen of Sybaris, a certain Mindyrides, who, seeing a man digging and swinging his mattock on high, complained that it made him weary and ordered the man not to do such work in his sight; the same man complained that he felt worse because the rose-leaves upon which he had lain were crumpled! When pleasures have corrupted both mind and body, nothing seems to be tolerable, not because the suffering is hard, but because the sufferer is soft. For why is it that we are thrown into a rage by somebody’s cough or sneeze, by negligence in chasing a fly away, by a dog’s hanging around, or by the dropping of a key that has slipped from the hands of a careless servant? The poor wretch whose ears are hurt by the grating of a bench dragged across the floor—will he be able to bear with equanimity the strife of public life and the abuse rained down upon him in the assembly or in the senate-house? Will he be able to endure the hunger and the thirst of a summer campaign who gets angry at his slave for being careless in mixing

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-de_ira.1928