3“Quid aliud?” inquis; “adhuc volo.” In hoc plurimum est, non sic quomodo principia totius operis dimidium occupare dicuntur; ista1 res animo constat. Itaque pars magna bonitatis est velle fieri bonum. Scis quem bonum dicam? Perfectum, absolutum, quem malum facere nulla vis, nulla necessitas possit. 4Hunc te prospicio, si perseveraveris et incubueris et id egeris, ut omnia facta dictaque tua inter se congruant ac respondeant sibi et una forma percussa sint. Non est huius animus in recto, cuius acta discordant. Vale.
XXXV. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem
1Cum te tam valde rogo, ut studeas, meum negotium ago; habere te2 amicum volo, quod contingere mihi, nisi pergis ut coepisti excolere te, non potest. Nunc enim amas me, amicus non es. “Quid ergo? Haec inter se diversa sunt?” Immo dissimilia. Qui amicus est, amat; qui amat, non utique amicus est. Itaque amicitia semper prodest, amor aliquando etiam nocet. Si nihil aliud, ob hoc profice, ut amare discas.
2Festina ergo, dum mihi proficis, ne istuc alteri
“What else do you want of me, then?” you ask: “the will is still mine.” Well, the will in this case is almost everything, and not merely the half, as in the proverb “A task once begun is half done.” It is more than half, for the matter of which we speak is determined by the soul.a Hence it is that the larger part of goodness is the will to become good. You know what I mean by a good man? One who is complete, finished,—whom no constraint or need can render bad. I see such a person in you, if only you go steadily on and bend to your task, and see to it that all your actions and words harmonize and correspond with each other and are stamped in the same mould. If a man’s acts are out of harmony, his soul is crooked. Farewell.
XXXV. On the Friendship of Kindred Minds
When I urge you so strongly to your studies, it is my own interest which I am consulting; I want your friendship, and it cannot fall to my lot unless you proceed, as you have begun, with the task of developing yourself. For now, although you love me, you are not yet my friend. “But,” you reply, “are these words of different meaning?” Nay, more, they are totally unlike in meaning.b A friend loves you, of course: but one who loves you is not in every case your friend. Friendship, accordingly, is always helpful, but love sometimes even does harm. Try to perfect yourself, if for no other reason, in order that you may learn how to love.
Hasten, therefore, in order that, while thus perfecting yourself for my benefit, you may not have
- ai.e., the proverb may apply to tasks which a man performs with his hands, but it is an understatement when applied to the tasks of the soul.
- bThe question of Lucilius represents the popular view, which regards love as including friendship. But according to Seneca it is only the perfect love, from which all selfishness has been removed, that becomes identical with friendship.