Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 76: 394-395

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The Epistles Of Seneca

ut dum scribis, legas, omnia ad mores et ad sedandam rabiem adfectuum referens. Stude, non ut plus aliquid scias, sed ut melius. Vale.

XC. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem

1Quis dubitare, mi Lucili, potest, quin deorum immortalium munus sit quod vivimus, philosophiae quod bene vivimus? Itaque tanto plus huic nos debere quam dis, quanto maius beneficium est bona vita quam vita, pro certo haberetur, nisi ipsam philosophiam di tribuissent. Cuius scientiam nulli1 dederunt, 2facultatem omnibus. Nam si hanc quoque bonum vulgare fecissent2 et prudentes nasceremur, sapientia quod in se optimum habet, perdidisset: inter fortuita non esse.3 Nunc enim hoc in illa pretiosum atque magnificum est, quod non obvenit, quod illam sibi quisque debet, quod non ab alio petitur.

Quid haberes quod in philosophia suspiceres, si 3beneficiaria res esset? Huius opus unum est de divinis humanisque verum invenire.4 Ab hac numquam recedit religio, pietas, iustitia et omnis alius comitatus virtutum consertarum et inter se cohaerentium.


Epistle XC.

way,—provided that while you write you read, remembering that everythinga you hear or read, is to be applied to conduct, and to the alleviation of passion’s fury. Study, not in order to add anything to your knowledge, but to make your knowledge better. Farewell.

XC. On the Part Played by Philosophy in the Progress of Man

Who can doubt, my dear Lucilius, that life is the gift of the immortal gods, but that living wellb is the gift of philosophy? Hence the idea that our debt to philosophy is greater than our debt to the gods, in proportion as a good life is more of a benefit than mere life, would be regarded as correct, were not philosophy itself a boon which the gods have bestowed upon us. They have given the knowledge thereof to none, but the faculty of acquiring it they have given to all. For if they had made philosophy also a general good, and if we were gifted with understanding at our birth, wisdom would have lost her best attribute—that she is not one of the gifts of fortune. For as it is, the precious and noble characteristic of wisdom is that she does not advance to meet us, that each man is indebted to himself for her, and that we do not seek her at the hands of others.

What would there be in philosophy worthy of your respect, if she were a thing that came by bounty? Her sole function is to discover the truth about things divine and things human. From her side religion never departs, nor duty, nor justice, nor any of the whole company of virtues which cling

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917