Seneca the Younger, Epistles

LCL 77: 266-267

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The Epistles Of Seneca

quicquam gravius, quam si inprecatus fueris, ut se habeat iratum.

Sed non est quare cuiquam, quem poena putaveris dignum, optes, ut infestos deos habeat; habet, inquam, etiam si videtur eorum favore produci. 3Adhibe diligentiam tuam et intuere, quid sint res nostrae, non quid vocentur; et scies plura mala contingere nobis quam accidere. Quotiens enim felicitatis et1 causa et initium fuit, quod calamitas vocabatur? Quotiens magna gratulatione excepta res gradum sibi struxit in praeceps et aliquem iam eminentem adlevavit etiamnunc, tamquam adhuc ibi 4staret, unde tuto cadunt? Sed ipsum illud cadere non habet in se mali quidquam, si exitum spectes, ultra quem natura neminem deiecit. Prope est rerum omnium terminus, prope est, inquam, et illud, unde felix eicitur, et illud, unde infelix emittitur; nos utraque extendimus et longa spe ac metu facimus.

Sed si sapis, omnia humana condicione metire; simul et quod gaudes et quod times, contrahe. Est autem tanti nihil diu gaudere, ne quid diu timeas. 5Sed quare istuc malum adstringo? Non est quod quicquam timendum putes. Vana sunt ista, quae nos movent, quae attonitos habent. Nemo nostrum quid veri esset, excussit, sed metum alter alteri tradidit; nemo ausus est ad id, quo perturbabatur,


Epistles CX.

curse than to pray that he may be at enmity with himself.

There is no reason, however, why you should ask the gods to be hostile to anyone whom you regard as deserving of punishment; they are hostile to such a person, I maintain, even though he seems to be advanced by their favour. Apply careful investigation, considering how our affairs actually stand, and not what men say of them; you will then understand that evils are more likely to help us than to harm us. For how often has so-called affliction been the source and the beginning of happiness! How often have privileges which we welcomed with deep thanksgiving built steps for themselves to the top of a precipice, still uplifting men who were already distinguished—just as if they had previously stood in a position whence they could fall in safety! But this very fall has in it nothing evil, if you consider the end,a after which nature lays no man lower. The universal limit is near; yes, there is near us the point where the prosperous man is upset, and the point where the unfortunate is set free. It is we ourselves that extend both these limits, lengthening them by our hopes and by our fears.

If, however, you are wise, measure all things according to the state of man; restrict at the same time both your joys and your fears. Moreover, it is worth while not to rejoice at anything for long, so that you may not fear anything for long. But why do I confine the scope of this evil? There is no reason why you should suppose that anything is to be feared. All these things which stir us and keep us a-flutter, are empty things. None of us has sifted out the truth; we have passed fear on to one another; none has dared to approach the object which

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-epistles.1917