facio. Invitus relinquo officia vitae, quibus fideliter et industrie fungor.” Quid? Tu nescis unum esse ex vitae officiis et mori? Nullum officium relinquis. Non enim certus numerus, quem debeas explere, 20finitur. Nulla vita est non brevis. Nam si ad naturam rerum respexeris, etiam Nestoris et Sattiae brevis est, quae inscribi monumento suo iussit annis se nonaginta novem vixisse. Vides aliquem gloriari senectute longa. Quis illam ferre potuisset, si contigisset centesimum implere? Quomodo fabula, sic vita non quam diu, sed quam bene acta sit, refert. Nihil ad rem pertinet, quo loco desinas. Quocumque voles desine; tantum bonam clausulam inpone. Vale.
LXXVIII. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem
1Vexari te destillationibus crebris ac febriculis, quae longas destillationes et in consuetudinem adductas secuntur, eo molestius mihi est, quia expertus sum hoc genus valetudinis, quod inter initia contempsi; poterat adhuc adulescentia iniurias ferre et se adversus morbos contumaciter gerere. Deinde succubui et eo perductus sum, ut ipse destillarem ad 2summam maciem deductus. Saepe impetum cepi abrumpendae vitae; patris me indulgentissimi senectus retinuit. Cogitavi enim non quam fortiter ego
honourable pursuits. I am loth to leave life’s duties, which I am fulfilling with loyalty and zeal.” Surely you are aware that dying is also one of life’s duties? You are deserting no duty; for there is no definite number established which you are bound to complete. There is no life that is not short. Compared with the world of nature, even Nestor’s life was a short one, or Sattia’s,a the woman who bade carve on her tombstone that she had lived ninety and nine years. Some persons, you see, boast of their long lives; but who could have endured the old lady if she had had the luck to complete her hundredth year? It is with life as it is with a play,—it matters not how long the action is spun out, but how good the acting is. It makes no difference at what point you stop. Stop whenever you choose; only see to it that the closing period is well turned.b Farewell.
LXXVIII. On the Healing Power of the Mind
That you are frequently troubled by the snuffling of catarrh and by short attacks of fever which follow after long and chronic catarrhal seizures, I am sorry to hear; particularly because I have experienced this sort of illness myself, and scorned it in its early stages. For when I was still young, I could put up with hardships and show a bold front to illness. But I finally succumbed, and arrived at such a state that I could do nothing but snuffle, reduced as I was to the extremity of thinness.c I often entertained the impulse of ending my life then and there; but the thought of my kind old father kept me back. For I reflected, not how bravely I
- aA traditional example of old age, mentioned by Martial and the elder Pliny.
- bCompare the last words of the Emperor Augustus: amicos percontatus ecquid iis videretur mimum vitae commode transegisse (Suet. Aug. 99).
- cTo such a degree that Seneca’s enemy Caligula refrained from executing him, on the ground that he would soon die.