Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Moral Essays of Seneca


AD LUCILIUM, DE PROVIDENTIA

All his adversities he counts mere training.

Omnia adversa exercitationes putat.

Not what you endure, but how you endure, is important.

Non quid sed quemadmodum feras interest.




To Marcia on Consolation (Ad Marciam De Consolatione)

Reflect, too, that it is no great thing to show one’s self brave in the midst of prosperity, when life glides on in a tranquil course; a quiet sea and a favoring wind do not show the skill of a pilot either—some hardship must be encountered that will test his soul.

Ne gubernatoris quidem artem tranquillum mare et obsequens ventus ostendit, adversi aliquid incurrat oportet, quod animum probet.

But he deserves praise, even amid shipwreck, whom the sea overwhelms still gripping the rudder and unyielding.

at ille vel in naufragio laudandus quem obruit mare clavum tenentem et obnixum.

Because we never anticipate any evil before it actually arrives, but, imagining that we ourselves are exempt and are traveling a less exposed path, we refuse to be taught by the mishaps of others that such are the lot of all. So many funerals pass our doors, yet we never think of death! So many deaths are untimely, yet we make plans for our own infants—how they will don the toga, serve in the army, and succeed to their father’s property.

Quod nihil nobis mali, antequam eveniat, proponimus, sed ut immunes ipsi et aliis pacatius ingressi iter alienis non admonemur casibus illos esse communes. Tot praeter domum nostram ducuntur exsequiae : de morte non cogitamus ; tot acerba funera : nos togam nostrorum infantium, nos militiam et paternae hereditatis successionem agitamus animo ;

[Blows] that are long foreseen fall less violently.

Quae multo ante provisa sunt, languidius incurrunt.

All these fortuitous things, Marcia, that glitter about us—children, honors, wealth, spacious halls and vestibules packed with a throng of unadmitted clients, a famous name, a high-born or beautiful wife, and all else that depends upon uncertain and fickle chance—these are not our own but borrowed trappings ; not one of them is given to us outright. The properties that adorn life’s stage have been lent, and must go back to their owners ; some of them will be returned on the first day, others on the second, only a few will endure until the end. We have, therefore, no reason to be puffed up as if we were surrounded with the things that belong to us ; we have received them merely as a loan. The use and the enjoyment are ours, but the dispenser of the gift determines the length of our tenure. On our part we ought always to keep in readiness the gifts that have been granted for a time not fixed, and, when called upon, to restore them withut complaint ;

Quicquid est hoc, Marcia, quod circa nos ex adventicio fulget, liberi, honores, opes, ampla atria et exclusorum clientium turba referta vestibula, clarum nomen, nobilis aut formosa coniux ceteraque ex incerta et mobili sorte pendentia alieni commodatique apparatus sunt ; nihil horum dono datur. Canlaticiis et ad dominos redituris instrumentis scaena adornatur ; alia ex his primo die, alia secundo referentur, pauca usque ad finem perseverabunt. Itaque non est quod nos suspiciamus tamquam inter nostra positi ; mutua accepimus. Usus fructusque noster est, cuius tempus ille arbiter muneris sui temperat ; nos oportet in promptu habere quae in incertum diem data sunt et appellatos querella reddere

Drain joy to the dregs without delay

Sine dilatione omne gadium haurite

We must hurry, the enemy presses upon our rear.

Festinandum est, instatur a tergo.

Nothing escapes the pillage : poor wretches, amid the rout ye know not how to live!

Rapina rerum omnium est ; miseri nescitis in fuga vivere!

For his death was proclaimed at his birth

Mors enim illi denuntiata nascenti est

What need is there to weep over parts of life? The whole of it calls for tears.

Quid opus est partes deflere? Tota flebilis vita est ;

Know thyself. What is man?

NOSCE TE. Quid est homo?

In having had him, in having loved him, lies your reward.

Ipsum quod habuisti, quod amasti, fructus est.

No man has escaped paying the penalty for being born.

Nulli contigit impune nasci

To all of us Nature says : “I deceive no one. . . “

Dicit omnibus nobis natura : “Neminem decipio, . . .”

Death is neither a good nor an evil

Mors nec bonum nec malum est

Death frees the slave though his master is unwilling ; it lightens the captive’s chains

Haec servitutem invito domino remittit ; heac captivorum catenas levat ;

All things human are short-lived and perishable, and fill no part at all of infinite time.

Omnia humana brevia et caduca sunt et infiniti temporis nullam partem occupantia.

This vesture of the body which we see, bones and sinews and the skin that covers us, this face and the hands that serve us and the rest of our human wrapping—these are but chians and darkness to our souls.

Haec quae vides circumdata nobis, ossa nervos et obductam cutem vultumque et ministras manus et cetera quibus involuti sumus, vincula animorum tenebraeque sunt.

ON THE HAPPY LIFE (Ad Gallionem de vita beata)

Nothing, therefore, needs to be more emphasized than the warning that we should not, like sheep, follow the lead of the throng in front of us, travelling, thus, the way that all go and not the way that we ought to go.

Nihil ergo magis praestandum est, quam ne pecorum ritu sequamur antecedentum gregem, pergentes non quo eundum est, sed quo itur.

Therefore let us find out what is best to do, not what is most commonly done—what will establish our claim to lasting happiness, not what finds favor with the rabble, who are the worts possible exponents of the truth.

Quaeramus ergo, quid optimum factu sit, non quid usitatissimum, et quid nos in possessione felicitatis aeternae constituat, non wuid vulgo, veritatis pessimo interpreti, probatum sit.

In rating a man I do not rely upon eyesight

Occulis de homine non credo

That this is so I grant ;

Quod ita esse concedo ;

For he hears first that pleasure cannot be seaparated from virtue, then dubs his vices wisdom, and parades what ought to be concealed. And so it is not Epicurus who has driven them to debauchery, but they, having surrendered themselves to vice, hide their debauchery in the lap of philosophy and flock to the place where they may hear the praise of pleasure, and they do not consider how sober and abstemious the ‘pleasure’ of Epicurus really is—for so, in all truth, I thin it—but they fly to a mere name seeking some justification and screen for their lust.

Audit enim voluptatem separari a virtute non posse, deinde vitiis suis sapientiam inscribit et abscondenda profitetur. Itaque non ab Epicuro impulsi luxuriantur, sed vitiis dediti luxuriam suam in philosophiae sinu abscondunt et eo concurrunt, ubi audiant laudari voluptatem. Nec aestimant, voluptas illa Epicuri—ita enim me hercules sentio—quam sobria ac sicca sit, sed ad nomen ipsum advolant quaerentes libidinibus suis patrocimium aliquod ac velamentum.

He [Epicurus] bids that it [pleasure] pbey Nature!

: iubet illam parere naturae.

Whoever applies the term ‘happiness’ to slothful idleness and the alternate indulgence in gluttony and lust, looks for a good sponsor for his evil course, and when, led on by an attractive name, hes has found this one, the pleasure he pursues is not the form that he is taught, but the form that he has brought, and when he begins to think that his vices accord with the teacher’s maxims, he indulges in them no longer timidly, and riots in them, not now covertly, but from this time on in broad daylight.

Ille, quisquis desidiosum otium et gulae ac libidinis vices felicitatem vocat, bonum malae rei quaerit auctorem et, cum illo venit blando nomine inductus, sequitur voluptatem non quam audit, sed quam attulit, et vitia sua cum coepit putare similia praeceptis, indulget illis non timide, nec obscure luxuriatur sed iam inde aperto capite.

As for me, I shall always live as if I were aware that I had been born for service to others, and on this account I shall render my thanks to Nature ;

Ego sic vivam quasi sciam aliis esse me natum et naturae rerum hoc nomine gratias agam ;

Nature bids me do good to all mankind . . . Wherever there is a human being there is the opportunity for a kindness.

Hominibus prodesse natura me iubet . . . Ubicumque homo est, ibi benefici locus est.

I deny that riches are a godd ; for if they were, they wouyld make men good.

Divitias nego bonum esse ; nam si essent, bonos facerent.

I admit that they [riches] are desireable, that they are useful, and that they add great comforts to living.

Ceterum et habendas esse et utiles et magna commoda vitae adferentis fateor.

I prefer to temper my joys [in riches], rather than to stifle my sorrows.

Malo gaudia temperare, quam dolores compescere.

The whole domain of Fortune I shall despise, but, if the choice be offered, I shalll choose the better part of it.

Totum fortunae regnum despiciam, sed ex illo, si dabitur electio, meliora sumam.

Leap upon me, make your assault ; I shall conquer you [those who assail his virtue] by enduring.

Adsilite, facite impetum ; ferendo vos vincam.

AD PAULINUM DE BREVITATE VITAE

It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested.

Non exiguum temporis habemus, sed multum perdimus. Satis longa vita et in maximarum rerum consummationem large data est, si tota bene collocaretur

; life, if you know how to use it, is long .

vita, si uti scias, longa est.

live straightway!

Protinus vive!

To think that there is anyone who is so lost in luxury that he takes another’s word as to whether he is sitting down! This man, then, is not at leisure, you must apply to him a different term—he is sick, nay, he is dead . . . how can he be the master of any of his time?

Esse aliquem, qui usque eo deliciis interierit ut an sedeat alteri credat! Non est ergo hic otiosus, aliud illi nomen imponas ; aeger est, immo mortuus est . . . quomodo potest hic ullius temporis dominus esse?

O, what blindness does great prosperity cast upon our minds!

O quantum caliginis mentibus nostris obicit magna felicitas!

All mortals can meet with them [great persons of the past] by night or day.

; nocte conveniri, interdiu ab omnibus martalibus possunt.

; yet we may be the sons of whomsoever we will.

Nobis vero ad nostrum arbitrium nasci licet.

These [great persons of the pat] will open to you the path to immortality, and will raise you to a height from which no one is cast down. This is the only way of prolonging mortality—nay, of turning it into immortality. Honors, monuments, all that ambition has commanded by decress or reared in works of stone, quickly sink to ruin ; there is nothing that the lapse of time does not tear down and remove. But the works which philosophy has consecrated cannot be harmed ; no age will destroy them, no age reduce them ; the following and each suceeding age will but increase the reverence for them, since envy works upon what is close at hand, and things that are far off we are more free to admire. The lifde of the philosopher, therefore, has wide range, and he is not confined by the same bounds that shut others in. He alone is freed from the limitations of the human race ; all ages serve him as if a god. Has some time passed by? This he embraces by recollection. Is time present? This he uses. Is it still to come? This he anticipates. He makes his life long by combining all times into one.

Hi tibi dabunt ad aeternitatem iter et te in illum locum, ex quo nemo deicitur, sublevabunt. Haec una ratio est extendendae mortalitatis, immo in immortalitatem vertendae. Honores, monimenta, quidquid aut decretis ambitio iussit aut operibus extruxit, cito subruitus ; nihil non longa demolitur vetustas et movet. At iis, quae consecravit sapientia, nocere non potest ; nulla abolebit aetas, nulla deminuet ; sequens ac deinde semper ulterior aliquid ad venerationem conferet, quoniam quidem in vicino versatur invidia, simplicius longe posita miramus. Sapientis ergo multum patet vita, non idem illum qui ceteros terminus cludit. Solus generis humani legibus solvitur ; omnia illi saecula ut deo serviunt. Transit tempus aliquod? Hoc recordatione comprendit. Instat? Hoc utitur. Venturum est? Hoc praecipit. Longam illi vitam facit omnium temporum in unum conlatio.

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1 Comments:

At 11:05 AM , Blogger DR. HATE said...

AMOR FATI.

 

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