Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 75: 8-9

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The Epistles Of Seneca

varia sunt et diversa, inquinant, non alunt. Probatos itaque semper lege, et si quando ad alios deverti libuerit, ad priores redi. Aliquid cotidie adversus paupertatem, aliquid adversus mortem auxilii compara, nec minus adversus ceteras pestes: et cum multa percurreris, unum excerpe, quod illo die concoquas. 5Hoc ipse quoque facio; ex pluribus, quae legi, aliquid adprehendo.

Hodiernum hoc est, quod apud Epicurum nanctus sum; soleo enim et in aliena castra transire, non 6tamquam transfuga, sed tamquam explorator. “Honesta,” inquit, “res est laeta paupertas.” Illa vero non est paupertas, si laeta est. Non qui parum habet, sed qui plus cupit, pauper est. Quid enim refert, quantum illi in arca, quantum in horreis iaceat, quantum pascat aut feneret, si alieno inminet, si non adquisita sed adquirenda computat? Quis sit divitiarum modus, quaeris? Primus habere quod necesse est, proximus quod sat est. Vale.

III. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem

1Epistulas ad me perferendas tradidisti, ut scribis, amico tuo: deinde admones me, ne omnia cum eo ad te pertinentia communicem, quia non soleas ne ipse quidem id facere; ita in1 eadem epistula illum et

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Epistle III.

they are manifold and varied, they cloy but do not nourish. So you should always read standard authors; and when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before. Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day. This is my own custom; from the many things which I have read, I claim some one part for myself.

The thought for to-day is one which I discovered in Epicurusa; for I am wont to cross over even into the enemy’s camp,—not as a deserter, but as a scout. He says: “Contented poverty is an honourable estate.” Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. What does it matter how much a man has laid up in his safe, or in his warehouse, how large are his flocks and how fat his dividends, if he covets his neighbour’s property, and reckons, not his past gains, but his hopes of gains to come? Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth? It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough. Farewell.

III. On True and False Friendship

You have sent a letter to me through the hand of a “friend” of yours, as you call him. And in your very next sentence you warn me not to discuss with him all the matters that concern you, saying that even you yourself are not accustomed to do this; in other words, you have in the same letter affirmed

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917