Interim temeritas est damnare, quod nescias. At illud scis, quam multis utilis sit, quam multos liberet tormentis, egestate, querellis, suppliciis, taedio. Non sumus in ullius potestate, cum mors in nostra potestate sit. Vale.
XCII. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem
1Puto, inter me teque conveniet externa corpori adquiri, corpus in honorem animi coli, in animo esse partes ministras, per quas movemur alimurque, propter ipsum principale nobis datas. In hoc principali est aliquid inrationale, est et rationale. Illud huic servit, hoc unum est, quod alio non refertur, sed omnia ad se refert.1 Nam illa quoque divina ratio omnibus praeposita est, ipsa sub nullo est; et haec autem nostra eadem est, quia2 ex illa 2est. Si de hoc inter nos convenit, sequitur ut de illo quoque conveniat, in hoc uno positam esse beatam vitam, ut in nobis ratio perfecta sit. Haec enim sola non submittit animum, stat contra fortunam; in quolibet rerum habitu securos3 servat. Id autem unum bonum est, quod numquam defringitur. Is est, inquam, beatus quem nulla res minorem facit;
Meanwhile it is foolhardy to condemn that of which you are ignorant. This one thing, however, you do know—that death is helpful to many, that it sets many free from tortures, want, ailments, sufferings, and weariness. We are in the power of nothing when once we have death in our own power! Farewell.
XCII. On the Happy Lifea
You and I will agree, I think, that outward things are sought for the satisfaction of the body, that the body is cherished out of regard for the soul, and that in the soul there are certain parts which minister to us, enabling us to move and to sustain life, bestowed upon us just for the sake of the primary part of us.b In this primary part there is something irrational, and something rational. The former obeys the latter, while the latter is the only thing that is not referred back to another, but rather refers all things to itself. For the divine reason also is set in supreme command over all things, and is itself subject to none; and even this reason which we possess is the same, because it is derived from the divine reason. Now if we are agreed on this point, it is natural that we shall be agreed on the following also—namely, that the happy life depends upon this and this alone: our attainment of perfect reason. For it is naught but this that keeps the soul from being bowed down, that stands its ground against Fortune; whatever the condition of their affairs may be, it keeps men untroubled. And that alone is a good which is never subject to impairment. That man, I declare, is happy whom nothing makes
- aThe reader will find this topic treated at greater length in Seneca’s De Vita Beata.
- bi.e., the soul. See Aristotle, Eth. i. 13: “It is stated that the soul has two parts, one irrational and the other possessing reason.” Aristotle further subdivides the irrational part into (l) that which makes for growth and increase, and (2) desire (which will, however, obey reason). In this passage Seneca uses “soul” in its widest sense.