Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 75: 158-159

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The Epistles Of Seneca

16Percepit sapientiam, si quis tam securus morietur quam nascitur; nunc vero trepidamus, cum periculum accessit, non animus nobis, non color constat; lacrimae nihil profuturae cadunt. Quid est turpius quam in ipso limine securitatis esse sollicitum? 17Causa autem haec est, quod inanes omnium bonorum sumus, vitae iactura1 laboramus. Non enim apud nos pars eius ulla subsedit; transmissa est et effluxit. Nemo quam bene vivat, sed quam diu, curat, cum omnibus possit contingere, ut bene vivant, ut diu, nulli. Vale.

XXIII. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem

1Putas me tibi scripturum, quam humane nobiscum hiemps egerit, quae et remissa fuit et brevis, quam malignum ver sit, quam praeposterum frigus, et alias ineptias verba quaerentium? Ego vero aliquid, quod et mihi et tibi prodesse possit, scribam. Quid autem id erit, nisi ut te exhorter ad bonam mentem? Huius fundamentum quod sit quaeris? Ne gaudeas vanis. Fundamentum hoc esse dixi; culmen est. 2Ad summa pervenit, qui scit, quo gaudeat, qui felicitatem suam in aliena potestate non posuit; sollicitus est et incertus sui, quem spes aliqua


Epistle XXIII.

A man has caught the message of wisdom, if he can die as free from care as he was at birth; but as it is, we are all a-flutter at the approach of the dreaded end. Our courage fails us, our cheeks blanch; our tears fall, though they are unavailing. But what is baser than to fret at the very threshold of peace? The reason, however, is, that we are stripped of all our goods, we have jettisoned our cargo of life and are in distress; for no part of it has been packed in the hold; it has all been heaved overboard and has drifted away. Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man’s power to live long. Farewell.

XXIII. On the True Joy Which Comes from Philosophy

Do you suppose that I shall write you how kindly the winter season has dealt with us,—a short season and a mild one,—or what a nasty spring we are having,—cold weather out of season,—and all the other trivialities which people write when they are at a loss for topics of conversation? No; I shall communicate something which may help both you and myself. And what shall this “something” be, if not an exhortation to soundness of mind? Do you ask what is the foundation of a sound mind? It is, not to find joy in useless things. I said that it was the foundation; it is really the pinnacle. We have reached the heights if we know what it is that we find joy in and if we have not placed our happiness in the control of externals. The man who is goaded ahead by hope of anything, though it be

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917