Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 76: 96-97

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The Epistles Of Seneca

LXXII. Seneca Lvcilio svo salvtem

1Quod quaeris a me, liquebat mihi, sic rem edidiceram, per se. Sed diu non retemptavi memoriam meam, itaque non facile me sequitur. Quod evenit libris situ cohaerentibus, hoc evenisse mihi sentio; explicandus est animus et quaecumque apud illum deposita sunt, subinde excuti debent, ut parata sint, quotiens usus exegerit. Ergo hoc in praesentia differamus; multum enim operae, multum diligentiae poscit. Cum primum longiorem eodem loco speravero 2moram, tunc istud in manus sumam. Quaedam enim sunt, quae possis et in cisio scribere. Quaedam lectum et otium et secretum desiderant. Nihilominus his quoque occupatis diebus agatur aliquid et quidem totis. Numquam enim non succedent occupationes novae; serimus illas, itaque ex una exeunt plures. Deinde ipsi nobis dilationem damus: “cum hoc peregero, toto animo incumbam “et” si hanc rem molestam composuero, studio me dabo.”

3Non cum vacaveris, philosophandum est; omnia alia neglegenda, ut huic adsideamus, cui nullum

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Epistle LXXII.

LXXII. On Business as the Enemy of Philosophy

The subjecta concerning which you question me was once clear to my mind, and required no thought, so thoroughly had I mastered it. But I have not tested my memory of it for some time, and therefore it does not readily come back to me. I feel that I have suffered the fate of a book whose rolls have stuck together by disuse; my mind needs to be unrolled, and whatever has been stored away there ought to be examined from time to time, so that it may be ready for use when occasion demands. Let us therefore put this subject off for the present; for it demands much labour and much care. As soon as I can hope to stay for any length of time in the same place, I shall then take your question in hand. For there are certain subjects about which you can write even while travelling in a gig, and there are also subjects which need a study-chair, and quiet, and seclusion. Nevertheless I ought to accomplish something even on days like these,—days which are fully employed, and indeed from morning till night. For there is never a moment when fresh employments will not come along; we sow them, and for this reason several spring up from one. Then, too, we keep adjourning our own cases,b saying: “As soon as I am done with this, I shall settle down to hard work,” or: “If I ever set this troublesome matter in order, I shall devote myself to study.”

But the study of philosophy is not to be postponed until you have leisure;c everything else is to be neglected in order that we may attend to philosophy,

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917