Seneca the Younger, De Otio

LCL 254: 180-181

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Liber VIII

Ad Serenvm

De Otio

4

1. [28.] … … cit, nobis magno consensu vitia commendant. Licet nihil aliud, quod sit salutare, temptemus, proderit tamen per se ipsum secedere; meliores erimus singuli. Quid, quod secedere ad optimos viros et aliquod exemplum eligere, ad quod vitam derigamus, licet? Quod nisi1 in otio non fit. Tunc potest obtineri quod semel placuit, ubi nemo intervenit, qui iudicium adhuc imbecillum populo adiutore detorqueat; tunc potest vita aequali et uno tenore procedere, quam propositis 2 diversissimis scindimus. Nam inter cetera mala illud pessimum est, quod vitia ipsa mutamus. Sic ne hoc quidem nobis contingit permanere in malo iam familiari. Aliud ex alio placet vexatque nos hoc quoque, quod iudicia nostra non tantum prava, sed etiam levia sunt. Fluctuamur aliudque ex alio comprendimums,

180

Book VIII

To Serenus

On Leisure

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

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-de_otio.1932