Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 76: 200-201

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The Epistles Of Seneca

LXXIX. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem

1Expecto epistulas tuas, quibus mihi indices, circuitus Siciliae totius quid tibi novi ostenderit, et ante1 omnia de ipsa Charybdi certiora. Nam Scyllam saxum esse et quidem non terribile navigantibus optime scio; Charybdis an respondeat fabulis, perscribi mihi desidero et, si forte observaveris, dignum est autem quod observes, fac nos certiores, utrum uno tantum vento agatur in vertices an omnis tempestas aeque mare illud contorqueat, et an verum sit, quicquid illo freti turbine abreptum est, per multa milia trahi conditum et circa Tauromenitanum litus 2emergere. Si haec mihi perscripseris, tunc tibi audebo mandare, ut in honorem meum Aetnam quoque ascendas, quam consumi et sensim subsidere ex hoc colligunt quidam, quod aliquando longius navigantibus solebat ostendi. Potest hoc accidere, non quia montis altitudo descendit, sed quia ignis evanuit et minus vehemens ac largus effertur, ob eandem causam fumo quoque per diem segniore.2 Neutrum autem incredibile est, nec montem, qui


Epistle LXXIX.

LXXIX. On the Rewards of Scientific Discovery

I have been awaiting a letter from you, that you might inform me what new matter was revealed to you during your trip round Sicily,a and especially that you might give me further information regarding Charybdis itself.b I know very well that Scylla is a rock—and indeed a rock not dreaded by mariners; but with regard to Charybdis I should like to have a full description, in order to see whether it agrees with the accounts in mythology; and, if you have by chance investigated it (for it is indeed worthy of your investigation), please enlighten me concerning the following: Is it lashed into a whirlpool by a wind from only one direction, or do all storms alike serve to disturb its depths? Is it true that objects snatched downwards by the whirlpool in that strait are carried for many miles under water, and then come to the surface on the beach near Tauromeniumc? If you will write me a full account of these matters, I shall then have the boldness to ask you to perform another task,—also to climb Aetna at my special request. Certain naturalists have inferred that the mountain is wasting away and gradually settling, because sailors used to be able to see it from a greater distance. The reason for this may be, not that the height of the mountain is decreasing, but because the flames have become dim and the eruptions less strong and less copious, and because for the same reason the smoke also is less active by day. However, either of these two things is possible to believe: that on the one hand the mountain is

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917