Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 75: 160-161

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The Epistles Of Seneca

proritat, licet ad manum sit, licet non ex difficili petatur, licet numquam illum sperata deceperint. 3Hoc ante omnia fac, mi Lucili: disce gaudere.

Existimas nunc me detrahere tibi multas voluptates, qui fortuita summoveo, qui spes, dulcissima oblectamenta, devitandas existimo? Immo contra nolo tibi umquam deesse laetitiam. Volo illam tibi domi nasci; nascitur, si modo intra te ipsum sit. Ceterae hilaritates non implent pectus, frontem remittunt, leves sunt, nisi forte tu iudicas eum gaudere, qui ridet. Animus esse debet alacer et fidens et super omnia erectus.

4Mihi crede, verum gaudium res severa est. An tu existimas quemquam soluto vultu et, ut isti delicati locuntur, hilariculo mortem contemnere, paupertati domum aperire, voluptates tenere sub freno, meditari dolorum patientiam? Haec qui apud se versat, in magno gaudio est, sed parum blando. In huius gaudii possessione esse te volo; numquam deficiet, 5cum semel unde petatur inveneris. Levium metallorum fructus in summo est; illa opulentissima sunt, quorum in alto latet vena adsidue plenius responsura fodienti. Haec, quibus delectatur vulgus, tenuem habent ac perfusoriam voluptatem, et quodcumque invecticium gaudium est, fundamento caret. Hoc, de quo loquor, ad quod te conor perducere, solidum est


Epistle XXIII.

within reach, though it be easy of access, and though his ambitions have never played him false, is troubled and unsure of himself. Above all, my dear Lucilius, make this your business: learn how to feel joy.

Do you think that I am now robbing you of many pleasures when I try co do away with the gifts of chance, when I counsel the avoidance of hope, the sweetest thing that gladdens our hearts? Quite the contrary; I do not wish you ever to be deprived of gladness. I would have it born in your house; and it is born there, if only it be inside of you. Other objects of cheer do not fill a man’s bosom; they merely smooth his brow and are inconstant,—unless perhaps you believe that he who laughs has joy. The very soul must be happy and confident, lifted above every circumstance.

Real joy, believe me, is a stern matter. Can one, do you think, despise death with a care-free countenance, or with a “blithe and gay” expression, as our young dandies are accustomed to say? Or can one thus open his door to poverty, or hold the curb on his pleasures, or contemplate the endurance of pain? He who ponders these thingsa in his heart is indeed full of joy; but it is not a cheerful joy. It is just this joy, however, of which I would have you become the owner; for it will never fail you when once you have found its source. The yield of poor mines is on the surface; those are really rich whose veins lurk deep, and they will make more bountiful returns to him who delves unceasingly. So too those baubles which delight the common crowd afford but a thin pleasure, laid on as a coating, and every joy that is only plated lacks a real basis. But the joy of which I speak, that to which I am endeavouring to lead you, is something solid, disclosing

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917