Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 76: 214-215

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The Epistles Of Seneca

diem ducat; quanto facilius animus conroborari possit, ut fortunae ictus invictus excipiat, ut proiectus, ut conculcatus exsurgat.

Corpus enim multis eget rebus, ut valeat; animus ex se crescit, se ipse alit, se exercet. Illis multo cibo, multa potione opus est, multo oleo, longa denique opera; tibi continget virtus sine apparatu, sine inpensa. Quicquid facere te potest bonum, 4tecum est. Quid tibi opus est, ut sis bonus? Velle. Quid autem melius potes velle quam eripere te huic servituti, quae omnes premit, quam mancipia quoque condicionis extremae et in his sordibus nata omni modo exuere conantur? Peculium suum, quod conparaverunt ventre fraudato, pro capite numerant; tu non concupisces quanticumque ad libertatem 5pervenire, qui te in illa putas natum? Quid ad arcam tuam respicis? Emi non potest. Itaque in tabulas vanum coicitur nomen libertatis, quam nec qui emerunt, habent nec qui vendiderunt. Tibi des oportet istud bonum, a te petas.

Libera te primum metu mortis: illa nobis iugum 6inponit; deinde metu paupertatis. Si vis scire, quam nihil in illa mali sit, compara inter se pauperum et divitum vultus; saepius pauper et fidelius ridet;


Epistle LXXX.

with his own blood,—if this can be done, how much more easily might the mind be toughened so that it could receive the blows of Fortune and not be conquered, so that it might struggle to its feet again after it has been laid low, after it has been trampled under foot?

For although the body needs many things in order to be strong, yet the mind grows from within, giving to itself nourishment and exercise. Yonder athletes must have copious food, copious drink, copious quantities of oil, and long training besides; but you can acquire virtue without equipment and without expense. All that goes to make you a good man lies within yourself. And what do you need in order to become good? To wish it. But what better thing could you wish for than to break away from this slavery,—a slavery that oppresses us all, a slavery which even chattels of the lowest estate, born amid such degradation, strive in every possible way to strip off? In exchange for freedom they pay out the savings which they have scraped together by cheating their own bellies; shall you not be eager to attain liberty at any price, seeing that you claim it as your birthright? Why cast glances toward your strong-box? Liberty cannot be bought. It is therefore useless to enter in your ledgera the item of “Freedom,” for freedom is possessed neither by those who have bought it nor by those who have sold it. You must give this good to yourself, and seek it from yourself.

First of all, free yourself from the fear of death, for death puts the yoke about our necks; then free yourself from the fear of poverty. If you would know how little evil there is in poverty, compare the faces of the poor with those of the rich; the poor

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917