quoque, antequam erudias, virtutis materia, non virtus est. Valk.
XCI. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem
1Liberalis noster nunc tristis est nuntiato incendio, quo Lugdunensis colonia exusta est. Movere hic casus quemlibet posset, nedum hominem patriae suae amantissimum. Quae res effecit, ut firmitatem animi sui quaerat, quam videlicet ad ea, quae timeri posse putabat, exercuit. Hoc vero tam inopinatum malum et paene inauditum non miror si sine metu fuit, cum esset sine exemplo. Multas enim civitates incendium vexavit, nullam abstulit. Nam etiam ubi hostili manu in tecta1 ignis inmissus est, multis locis deficit,2 et quamvis subinde excitetur, raro tamen sic cuncta depascitur, ut nihil ferro relinquat. Terrarum quoque vix umquam tam gravis et perniciosus fuit motus, ut tota oppida everteret. Numquam denique tam infestum ulli exarsit incendium, ut nihil alteri 2superesset incendio. Tot pulcherrima opera, quae singula inlustrare urbes singulas possent, una nox stravit, et in tanta pace quantum ne bello quidem timeri potest accidit. Quis hoc credat? Ubique
and even in the best of men, before you refine them by instruction, there is but the stuff of virtue, not virtue itself. Farewell.
XCI. On the Lesson to Be Drawn from the Burning of Lyonsa
Our friend Liberalisb is now downcast; for he has just heard of the fire which has wiped out the colony of Lyons. Such a calamity might upset anyone at all, not to speak of a man who dearly loves his country. But this incident has served to make him inquire about the strength of his own character, which he has trained, I suppose, just to meet situations that he thought might cause him fear. I do not wonder, however, that he was free from apprehension touching an evil so unexpected and practically unheard of as this, since it is without precedent. For fire has damaged many a city, but has annihilated none. Even when fire has been hurled against the walls by the hand of a foe, the flame dies out in many places, and although continually renewed, rarely devours so wholly as to leave nothing for the sword. Even an earthquake has scarcely ever been so violent and destructive as to overthrow whole cities. Finally, no conflagration has ever before blazed forth so savagely in any town that nothing was left for a second. So many beautiful buildings, any single one of which would make a single town famous, were wrecked in one night. In time of such deep peace an event has taken place worse than men can possibly fear even in time of war. Who can believe
- aIn spite of the centesimus annus of § 14 (q.v.), the most probable date of this letter, based on Tac. Ann. xvi. 13 and other general evidence, is July-September 64 a.d. 58 a.d. would be too early for many reasons—among them that “peace all over the world” would not be a true statement until January of 62 (See the monographs of Jonas, O. Binder, Peiper, and Schultess.)
- bProbably Aebutius Liberalis, to whom the treatise De Beneficiis was dedicated.