Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 75: 116-117

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The Epistles Of Seneca

aeger animus in divitiis an in paupertate ponatur. Malum illum suum sequitur. Vale.

XVIII. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem

1December est mensis; cum maxime civitas sudat. Ius luxuriae publicae datum est. Ingenti apparatu sonant omnia, tamquam quicquam inter Saturnalia intersit et dies rerum agendarum. Adeo nihil interest, ut non videatur1 mihi errasse, qui dixit olim rnensem Decembrem fuisse, nunc annum.

2Si te hic haberem, libenter tecum conferrem, quid existimares esse faciendum: utrum nihil ex cotidiana consuetudine movendum an, ne dissidere videremur cum publicis moribus, et hilarius cenandum et exuendam togam. Nam quod fieri nisi in tumultu et tristi tempore civitatis non solebat, voluptatis causa 3ac festorum dierum vestem mutavimus. Si te bene novi, arbitri partibus functus nec per omnia nos similes esse pilleatae turbae voluisses nec per omnia dissimiles; nisi forte his maxime diebus animo imperandum est, ut tunc voluptatibus solus abstineat, cum in illas omnis turba procubuit; certissimum enim argumentum firmitatis suae capit, si ad blanda et in 4luxuriam trahentia nec it nec abducitur. Hoc multo

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Epistle XVIII.

upon riches or upon poverty. His malady goes with the man. Farewell.

XVIII. On Festivals and Fasting

It is the month of December, and yet the city is at this very moment in a sweat. Licence is given to the general merrymaking. Everything resounds with mighty preparations,—as if the Saturnalia differed at all from the usual business day! So true it is that the difference is nil, that I regard as correct the remark of the man who said: “Once December was a month; now it is a year.”a

If I had you with me, I should be glad to consult you and find out what you think should be done,—whether we ought to make no change in our daily routine, or whether, in order not to be out of sympathy with the ways of the public, we should dine in gayer fashion and doff the toga.b As it is now, we Romans have changed our dress for the sake of pleasure and holiday-making, though in former times that was only customary when the State was disturbed and had fallen on evil days. I am sure that, if I know you aright, playing the part of an umpire you would have wished that we should be neither like the liberty-cappedc throng in all ways, nor in all ways unlike them; unless, perhaps, this is just the season when we ought to lay down the law to the soul, and bid it be alone in refraining from pleasures just when the whole mob has let itself go in pleasures; for this is the surest proof which a man can get of his own constancy, if he neither seeks the things which are seductive and allure him to luxury, nor is led into them. It shows much

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917