Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 76: 310-311

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The Epistles Of Seneca

ubique horrenda, cum ad hunc pervenere, mansueta sunt. Vale.

LXXXVI. Seneca lvcilio svo salvtem

1In ipsa Scipionis Africani villa iacens haec tibi scribo adoratis manibus eius et ara, quam sepulchrum esse tanti viri suspicor. Animum quidem eius in caelum, ex quo erat, redisse persuadeo mihi, non quia magnos exercitus duxit, hos enim et Cambyses furiosus ac furore feliciter usus habuit, sed ob egregiam moderationem pietatemque, quam magis in illo admirabilem iudico, cum reliquit patriam, quam cum defendit; aut Scipio Romae esse debebat aut Roma 2in libertate. “Nihil,” inquit, “volo derogare legibus, nihil institutis. Aequum inter omnes cives ius sit. Utere sine me beneficio meo, patria. Causa tibi libertatis fui, ero et argumentum; exeo, si plus quam tibi expedit, crevi.”

3Quidni ego admirer hanc magnitudinem animi, qua in exilium voluntarium secessit et civitatem exoneravit? Eo perducta res erat, ut aut libertas Scipioni aut Scipio libertati faceret iniuriam. Neutrum fas erat. Itaque locum dedit legibus et se

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Epistle LXXXVI.

feared; but when they encounter the wise man, they are tamed. Farewell.

LXXXVI. On Scipio’s Villa

I am resting at the country-house which once belonged to Scipio Africanusa himself; and I write to you after doing reverence to his spirit and to an altar which I am inclined to think is the tombb of that great warrior. That his soul has indeed returned to the skies, whence it came, I am convinced, not because he commanded mighty armies—for Cambyses also had mighty armies, and Cambyses was a madmanc who made successful use of his madness—but because he showed moderation and a sense of duty to a marvellous extent. I regard this trait in him as more admirable after his withdrawal from his native land than while he was defending her; for there was the alternative: Scipio should remain in Rome, or Rome should remain free. “It is my wish,” said he, “not to infringe in the least upon our laws, or upon our customs; let all Roman citizens have equal rights. O my country, make the most of the good that I have done, but without me. I have been the cause of your freedom, and I shall also be its proof; I go into exile, if it is true that I have grown beyond what is to your advantage!”

What can I do but admire this magnanimity, which led him to withdraw into voluntary exile and to relieve the state of its burden? Matters had gone so far that either liberty must work harm to Scipio, or Scipio to liberty. Either of these things was wrong in the sight of heaven. So he gave way

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917