…a with great accord commend to us the vices. Although we attempt nothing else that would be beneficial, nevertheless retirement in itself will do us good; we shall be better by ourselves. And what of the opportunity to retire to the society of the best men,b and to select some model by which we may direct our own lives? But we can do this only in leisure. Only then is it possible for us to maintain what we have once resolved upon, when there is no one who can interfere and with the help of the crowd turn aside our decision while it is still weak; only then is it possible for life, in which we are now distracted by the most diverse aims, to progress along an even and single course. For among all the rest of our ills this is the worst—the habit of changing our very vices. So we do not have even the good fortune to persist in an evil that we already know. We find pleasure first in one and then in another, and the trouble is that our choices are not only wrong, but also fickle. We are tossed about and clutch at one
- This fragment appears in the mss. as a continuation of the De Vita Beata. Both essays have suffered loss. In its extant form the De Otio begins abruptly in the midst of a plea for the life of retirement. The theme, apparently, was part of the introduction of the essay, since the formal division of the subject is preserved at the end of Chapter 2.
- bi.e., the company of the best books.