Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 75: 72-73

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The Epistles Of Seneca

viae multae breves, faciles. Agamus deo gratias, quod nemo in vita teneri potest. Calcare ipsas 11necessitates licet. “Epicurus,” inquis, “dixit. Quid tibi cum alieno?” Quod verum est, meum est. Perseverabo Epicurum tibi ingerere, ut isti, qui in verba iurant, nec quid dicatur aestimant, sed a quo, sciant, quae optima sunt, esse communia. Vale.

XIII. Seneca Lvcilio svo Salvtem

1Multum tibi esse animi scio. Nam etiam antequam instrueres te praeceptis salutaribus et dura vincentibus, satis adversus fortunam placebas tibi, et multo magis, postquam cum illa manum conseruisti viresque expertus es tuas, quae numquam certam dare fiduciam sui possunt, nisi cum multae difficultates hinc et illinc apparuerunt, aliquando vero et propius accesserunt; sic verus ille animus et in alienum non venturus arbitrium probatur. 2Haec eius obrussa est: non potest athleta magnos spiritus ad certamen adferre, qui numquam suggillatus est; ille, qui sanguinem suum vidit, cuius dentes crepuere sub pugno, ille, qui subplantatus


Epistle XIII.

many short and simple paths to freedom; and let us thank God that no man can be kept in life. We may spurn the very constraints that hold us. “Epicurus,” you reply, “uttered these words; what are you doing with another’s property?” Any truth, I maintain, is my own property. And I shall continue to heap quotations from Epicurus upon you, so that all persons who swear by the words of another, and put a value upon the speaker and not upon the thing spoken, may understand that the best ideas are common property. Farewell.

XIII. On Groundless Fears

I know that you have plenty of spirit; for even before you began to equip yourself with maxims which were wholesome and potent to overcome obstacles, you were taking pride in your contest with Fortune; and this is all the more true, now that you have grappled with Fortune and tested your powers. For our powers can never in spire in us implicit faith in ourselves except when many difficulties have confronted us on this side and on that, and have occasionally even come to close quarters with us. It is only in this way that the true spirit can be tested,—the spirit that will never consent to come under the jurisdiction of things external to ourselves. This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prizefighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue; the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent’s fist, who has

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917