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Seneca's Epistles Volume I Source: Translated by Richard M. The Loeb Classical Library. Before using any portion of this text in any theme, essay, research paper, thesis, or dissertation, please read the disclaimer. Page numbers in angle brackets refer to the edition cited as the source. The Latin text, which appears on even-numbered pages, is not included here. Words or phrases singled out for indexing are marked by plus signs.
In the index, numbers in parentheses indicate how many times the item appears. A slash followed by a small letter or a number indicates a footnote at the bottom of the page. Only notes of historical, philosophical, or literary interest to a general reader have been included. I have allowed Greek passages to stand as the scanner read them, in unintelligible strings of characters. CONTINUE to act thus, my dear Lucilius - set yourself free for your own sake; gather and save your time, which till lately has been forced from you, or filched away, or has merely slipped from your hands.
Make yourself believe the truth of my words, - that certain moments are torn from us, that some are gently removed, and that others glide beyond our reach. The most disgraceful kind of loss, however, is that due to carelessness. Furthermore, if you will pay close heed to the problem, you will find that the largest portion of our life passes while we are doing ill, a goodly share while we are doing nothing, and the whole while we are doing that which is not to the purpose.
What man can you show me who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? Therefore, Lucilius, do as you write me that you are doing: Lay hold of to-day's task, and you will not need to depend so much upon to-morrow's. Nothing, Lucilius, is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession.
What fools these mortals be! They allow the cheapest and most useless things, which can easily be replaced, to be charged in the reckoning, after they have acquired them; but they never regard themselves as in debt when they have received some of that precious commodity, - time!
And yet time is the one loan which even a grateful recipient cannot repay. You may desire to know how I, who preach to you so freely, am practising. I cannot boast that I waste nothing, but I can at least tell you what I am wasting, and the cause and manner of the loss; I can give you the reasons why I am a poor man.
My situation, however, is the same as that of many who are reduced to slender means through no fault of their own: What is the state of things, then? I do not regard a man as poor, if the little which remains is enough for him. I advise you, however, to keep what is really yours; and you cannot begin too early. For, as our ancestors believed, it is too late to spare when you reach the dregs of the cask.
The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered maid is a man's ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of masterthinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends.
And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner. Food does no good and is not assimilated into the body if it leaves the stomach as soon as it is eaten; nothing hinders a cure so much as frequent change of medicine; no wound will heal when one salve is tried after another; a plant which is often moved can never grow strong.
There is nothing so efficacious that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about. And in reading of many books is distraction. Accordingly, since you cannot read all the books which you may possess, it is enough to possess only as many books as you can read.
So you should always read standard authors; and when you crave a change, fall back upon those whom you read before. Each day acquire something that will fortify you against poverty, against death, indeed against other misfortunes as well; and after you have run over many thoughts, select one to be thoroughly digested that day.
This is my own custom; from the many things which I have read, I claim some one part for myself. It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. What does it matter how much a man has laid up in his safe, or in his warehouse, how large are his flocks and how fat his dividends, if he covets his neighbour's property, and reckons, not his past gains, but his hopes of gains to come? Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth?
It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough. Indeed, I would have you discuss everything with a friend; but first of all discuss the man himself. When friendship is settled, you must trust; before friendship is formed, you must pass judgment.
Ponder for a long time whether you shall admit a given person to your friendship; but when you have decided to admit him, welcome him with all your heart and soul. Speak as boldly with him as with yourself As to yourself, although you should live in such a way that you trust your own self with nothing which you could not entrust even to your enemy, yet, since certain matters occur which convention keeps secret, you should share with a friend at least all your worries and reflections.
Regard him as loyal, and you will make him loyal. Why need I keep back any words in the presence of my friend? Why should I not regard myself as alone when in his company? There is a class of men who communicate, to anyone whom they meet, matters which should be revealed to friends alone, and unload upon the chance listener whatever irks them.
Others, again, fear to confide in their closest intimates; and if it were possible, they would not trust even themselves, burying their secrets deep in their hearts. But we should do neither. It is equally faulty to trust everyone and to trust no one. Yet the former fault is, I should say, the more ingenuous, the latter the more safe. In like manner you should rebuke these two kinds of men, - both those who always lack repose, and those who are always in repose. For love of bustle is not industry, - it is only the restlessness of a hunted mind.
And true repose does not consist in condemning all motion as merely vexation; that kind of repose is slackness and inertia. Discuss the problem with Nature; she will tell you that she has created both day and night. You remember, of course, what joy you felt when you laid aside the garments of boyhood and donned the man's toga, and were escorted to the forum; nevertheless, you may look for a still greater joy when you have laid aside the mind of boyhood and when wisdom has enrolled you among men.
For it is not boyhood that still stays with us, but something worse, - boyishness. And this condition is all the more serious because we possess the authority of old age, together with the follies of boyhood, yea, even the follies of infancy. Boys fear trifles, children fear shadows, we fear both.
All you need to do is to advance; you will thus understand that some things are less to be dreaded, precisely because they inspire us with great fear.
No evil is great which is the last evil of all. Death arrives; it would be a thing to dread, if it could remain with you. But death must either not come at all, or else must come and pass away. One hangs himself before the door of his mistress; another hurls himself from the house-top that he may no longer be compelled to bear the taunts of a bad- tempered master; a third, to be saved from arrest after running away, drives a sword into his vitals.
Do you not suppose that virtue will be as efficacious as excessive fear? Rehearse this thought every day, that you may be able to depart from life contentedly; for man men clutch and cling to life, even as those who are carried down a rushing stream clutch and cling to briars and sharp rocks. Most men ebb and flow in wretchedness between the fear of death and the hardships of life; they are unwilling to live, and yet they do not know how to die.
For this reason, make life as a whole agreeable to yourself by banishing all worry about it. No good thing renders its possessor happy, unless his mind is reconciled to the possibility of loss; nothing, however, is lost with less discomfort than that which, when lost, cannot be missed. Therefore, encourage and toughen your spirit against the mishaps that afflict even the most powerful. For example, the fate of Pompey was settled by a boy and a eunuch, that of Crassus by a cruel and insolent Parthian.
Gaius Caesar ordered Lepidus to bare his neck for the axe of the tribune Dexter; and he himself offered his own throat to Chaerea. Do not trust her seeming calm; in a moment the sea is moved to its depths. The very day the ships have made a brave show in the games, they are engulfed.
Reflect that a highwayman or an enemy may cut your throat; and, though he is not your master, every slave wields the power of life and death over you. Therefore I declare to you: Think of those who have perished through plots in their own home, slain either openly or by guile; you will that just as many have been killed by angry slaves as by angry kings.
But," you will say, "if you should chance to fall into the hands of the enemy, the conqueror will command that you be led away," - yes, whither you are already being led. Take my word for it: We must ponder this thought, and thoughts of the like nature, if we desire to be calm as we await that last hour, the fear of which makes all previous hours uneasy.
But I must end my letter. Let me share with you the saying which pleased me to-day. Merely to avert hunger, thirst, and cold. In order to banish hunger and thirst, it is not necessary for you to pay court at the doors of the purse-proud, or to submit to the stern frown, or to the kindness that humiliates; nor is it necessary for you to scour the seas, or go campaigning; nature's needs are easily provided and ready to hand.
It is the superfluous things for which men sweat, - the superfluous things that wear our togas threadbare, that force us to grow old in camp, that dash us upon foreign shores. That which is enough is ready to our hands. He who has made a fair compact with poverty is rich. I do not merely exhort you to keep at it; I actually beg you to do so. I warn you, however, not to act after the fashion of those who desire to be conspicuous rather than to improve, by doing things which will rouse comment as regards your dress or general way of living.
Repellent attire, unkempt hair, slovenly beard, open scorn of silver dishes, a couch on the bare earth, and any other perverted forms of self-display, are to be avoided. The mere name of philosophy, however quietly pursued, is an object of sufficient scorn; and what would happen if we should begin to separate ourselves from the customs of our fellow-men? Inwardly, we ought to be different in all respects, but our exterior should conform to society.
They give us total freedom to be who we really are. We should be grateful to people who make us happy. A true friend is one of the most precious possessions that one can have in his life. Main body Friendship is essential for the successful wellbeing of every person. Conclusion A good friendship is very difficult to come across. Place an order right now and get VIP customer service for free!
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How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live 'em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give 'em. I'm glad for that. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over. Friends are all we have to get us through this life-and they are the only things from this world that we could hope to see in the next.
regarded as a negative trait, maybe there is some benefit to having a friendship circle that you could fit in a VW Beetle. Let's count the ways. Do you think it is a good idea to borrow money from a friend? Why or why not? Do you make friends easily? Has a friend ever let you down? What are the advantages and disadvantages of these types of friendships. What do you like best about your best friend(s)?; What are some ways your best friend has influenced. On this Friendship Day let's read about a few quotes that depicts this relationship "One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to.