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SENECA: Moral Epistles

Translated by Richard M Gummere


In the Classical world ‘epistles’ or letters constituted a regular philosophic source and in the case of Paul became pivotal to the Christian religion. Seneca’s epistles below are some of the clearest expositions on Stoic ethics available: each may be understood in isolation.


On True and False Friendship
On the Terrors of Death
On Crowds
On The Philosopher's Seclusion
Philosophy and Friendship
On Old Age
On Groundless Fears
On The Reasons For Withdrawing From The World
Philosophy, the Guide of Life
On Festivals and Fasting
On Worldliness and Retirement
On Practicing What You Preach
On the Futility of Half-Way Measures
On Despising Death
On Siren Songs
On the Friendship of Kindred Minds
On Allegiance to Virtue
On the God within Us
On Choosing Our Teachers
On Asthma and Death
On Grief for Lost Friends
On Rest and Restlessness
On the Proper Time to Slip the Cable
On Virtue as a Refuge from Worldly Distractions
On the Diseases of the Soul
On Learning Wisdom in Old Age

On Taking One's Own Life: Suicide
On the Healing Power of the Mind
On the Natural Fear of Death
On Scipio's Villa
Some Arguments in Favour of the Simple Life
On Consolation to the Bereaved
On Facing Hardships
On the Fickleness of Fortune
On Consolation to the Bereaved
On the Dangers of Association with our Fellow Men
On Obedience to the Universal Will
On True and False Riches
   



On True and False Friendship

     You have sent a letter to me through the hand of a "friend" of yours, as you call him.  And in your very next sentence you warn me not to discuss with him all the matters that concern you, saying that even you yourself are not accustomed to do this; in other words, you have in the same letter affirmed and denied that he is your friend.  Now is you used this word of ours in the popular sense, and called him "friend" in the same way in which we speak of all candidates for election as "honourable gentlemen," and as we greet all men whom we meet casually, if their names slip us for the moment, with the salutation "my dear sir,"-so be it.  But if you consider any ma a friend whom you do not trust as you trust yourself, you are mightily mistaken and you d not sufficiently understand what true friendship means.  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.  Those persons indeed put last first and confound their duties, who, violating the rules of Theophrastus, judge a man after they have made him their friend, instead of making him their friend after they have judged him.  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 will make him loyal.  Some, for example, fearing to be deceived, have taught men to deceive; by their suspicions they have given their friend the right to do wrong.  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 seep in their hearts.  But we should do neither.  It is equally faulty to trust every one 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.  Therefore, you should note the following saying, taken from my reading in Pomponius : "Some men shrink into dark corners, to such a degree that they see darkly  by day."  No, men should combine these tendencies, and he who reposes should act and he who acts should take repose.  Discuss the problem with Nature; she will tell you that he has created both day and night.  Farewell.



On the Terrors of Death

     Keep on as you have begun, and make all possible haste, so that you may have longer enjoyment of an improved mind, one that is at peace with itself.  Doubtless you will derive enjoyment during the time when you are improving your mind and setting it at peace with itself; but quite different is the pleasure which comes from contemplation when one's mind is so cleansed from every stain that it shines.  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, and 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 u 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.

    "It is difficult, however," you say, " to bring the mind to a point where is can scorn life."  But do you not see what trifling reasons impel men to scorn life?  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 not suppose that virtue will be as efficacious as excessive fear?  No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it, or believes that living through many consulships is a great blessing.  Rehearse this thought every day, that you may be able to depart from life contentedly; for many 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 professor 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 throat to Chaerea.  No man has ever been so far advanced by Fortune that she did not threaten him as greatly as she had previously indulged him.  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: he is lord of your life that scorns his own.  Think of those who have perished through plots in their own homes, slain either openly or by guile; you will then understand that just as many have killed by angry slaves as by angry kings.  What matter, therefore, how powerful he be whom you fear, when every one possesses the power which inspires your fear?  "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.  Why do you voluntarily deceive yourself and require to be told now for the first time what fate it is that you have long been labouring under?  Take my word for it:  since the day you were born you are being led thither.  We must ponder this thought, and thoughts of the like nature, if we desire to be calm as we await the 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.  It, too, is culled from another man's Garden:  "Poverty, brought into conformity with the law of nature, is brought into conformity with the law of nature, is great wealth."  Do you know what limits that law of nature ordains for us?  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.  Farewell.


On Crowds

     Do you ask me what you should regard as especially to be avoided?  I say, crowds; for as yet you cannot trust yourself to them with safety.  I shall admit my own weakness, at any rate; for I never bring back home the same character that I took abroad with me.  Something of that which I have forced to be calm within me is disturbed; some of the foes that I have routed return again.  Just as the sick man, who had been weak for a long time, is in such a condition that he cannot be taken out of the house without suffering a relapse, so we ourselves are affected when our souls are recovering from a lingering disease.  To consort with the crowd is harmful; there is no person who does not make some vice attractive to us, or stamp it upon us, or taint us unconsciously therewith.  Certainly, the greater the mob with which we mingle, the greater the danger. 

    But nothing is so damaging to good character as the habit of lounging at the games; for then it is that vice steals subtly upon one through the avenue of pleasure.  What do you think I mean?  I mean that I come home more greedy, more ambitious, more voluptuous, and even more cruel and inhuman,-because I have been among human beings.  By chance I attended a mid-day exhibition, expecting some fun, wit, and relaxation,-and exhibition at which men's eyes have respite from the slaughter of their fellow-men.  But is was quite the reverse.  The previous combats were the essence of compassion; but now all the trifling is put aside and it is pure murder.  The men have no defensive armour.  They are exposed to blows at all points, and no one ever strikes in vain.  Many persons prefer this programme to the usual pairs and to the bouts "by request."  Of course they do; there is no helmet or shield to deflect the weapon.  What is the need of defensive armour, or of skill?  All these mean delaying death.  In the morning they throw men to the lions and the bears; at noon, they throw them to the spectators.  The spectators demand that the slayer shall face the man who is to slay him in his turn; and they always reserve the latest conqueror for another butchering.  The outcome of every fight is death, and the means are fire and sword.  This sort of things goes on while the arena is empty.  You may retort:  "But he was a highway robber; he killed a man!"  And what of it?  Granted that, as a murderer, he deserved this punishment, what crime have you committed, poor fellow, that you should deserve to sit and see this show?  In the morning they cried "Kill him! Lash him! Burn him! Why does he meet the sword in so cowardly, a way?  Why does he strike so feebly?  Why doesn't he die game?  Whip him to meet his wounds!  Let them receive blow for blow, with chests bare and exposed to the stroke!"  And when the games stop for the intermission, they announce:  "A little throat-cutting in the meantime, so that there may still be something going on!"

    Come now; do you not understand even this truth, that a bad example reacts on the agent?  Thank the immortal gods that you are teaching cruelty to a person who cannot learn to be cruel.  The young character, which cannot hold fast to righteousness, must be rescued from the mob; it is too easy to side with the majority.  Even Socrates, Cato, and Laelius might have been shaken in their moral strength by a crowd that was unlike them; so true is it that none of us, no matter how much he cultivates his abilities, can withstand the shock of faults that approach, as it were, with so great a retinue.  Much harm is done by a single case of indulgence or greed; the familiar friend, if he be luxurious, weakens and softens us imperceptibly; the neighbour; if he be rich, rouses our covetousness; the companion, if he be slanderous, rubs off some of his rust upon us, even though we be spotless and sincere.  What then do you think the effect will be on character, when the world at large assaults it!  You must either imitate or loathe the world.

    But both courses are to be avoided; you should not copy the bad simply because they are many, nor should you hate the many because they are many, nor should you hate the many because they are unlike you.  Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can.  Associate with those who will make a better man of you.  Welcome those whom you yourself can improve.  The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.  There is no reason why pride is advertising your abilities should lure you into publicity, so that you should desire to recite or harangue before the general public. Of course I should be willing for you to do so if you had a stock-in-trade that suited such a mob; as it is, there is not a man of them who understand you.  You may say: so that they will have to be moulded and trained by you so that they will understand you.  You may say:  "For what purpose did I learn all these things?"  But you need not fear that you have wasted your efforts; it was for yourself that you learned them.

    In order, however, that I may not to-day have learned exclusively for myself, I shall share with you three excellent sayings, of the same general purport, which have come to my attention.  This letter will hive you one of them as payment of my debt; the other two you may accept as a contribution in advance.  Democritus says:  "One man means so much to me as a multitude, and a multitude only as much as one man."  The following also was nobly spoken by someone or other, for it is doubtful who the author was; they asked him what was the object of all this study applied to an art that would reach buy very few.  He replied:  "I am content with few, content with one, content with none at all."  The third saying-and a noteworthy one, too-is by Epicurus, written to one of the partners of his studies:  "I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other."  Lay these words to hear, Lucilius, that you may scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority.  Many men praise you; but have you any reason for being pleased with yourself, if you are a person whom the many can understand?  Your good qualities should face inwards.  Farewell.
  
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On the Philosopher's Seclusion

     "Do you bid me," you say, "shun the throng, and withdraw from men, and be content with my own conscience?  Where are the counsels of your school, which order a man to die in the midst of active work?"  As to the course which I seem to you to be urging on you now and then, my object in shutting myself up and locking the door is to be able to help a greater number.  I never spend a day in idleness; I appropriate even a part of the night for study.  I do not allow time for sleep but yield to it when I must, and when my eyes are wearied with waking and ready to fall shut, I keep them at their task.  I have withdrawn not only from men, but from affairs, especially from my own affairs; I am working for later generations, writing down some ideas that may be of assistance to them.  There are certain wholesome counsels, which may be compared to prescriptions of useful drugs; these I am putting into writing; for I have found them helpful in ministering to my own sores, which, if not wholly cured, have at any rate ceased to spread.

    I point other men to the right path, which I have found late in life, when wearied with wandering.  I cry out to them:  "Avoid whatever pleases the throng:  avoid the gifts of Chance!  Halt before every good which Chance brings to you, in spirit of doubt and fear; for it is the dumb animals and fish that are deceived by tempting hopes.  Do you call these things the 'gifts' of Fortune?  They are snares.  And any man among you who wishes to live a life of safety will avoid, to the utmost his power, these limed twigs of her favour, by which we mortals, most wretched in this respect also, are deceived; for we think that we hold them in our grasp, but they hold us in theirs.  Such a career leads us into precipitous ways, and life on such heights ends in a fall.  Moreover, we cannot even stand up against prosperity when she begins to drive us to leeward; nor can we go down, either, 'with the ship at least on her course', or once for all; Fortune does not capsize us,-she plunges our bows under and dashes us on the rocks.

    "Hold fast, then, to this sound and wholesome rule of life; that you indulge the body only so far as is needed for good health.  The body should be treated more rigorously, that it may not be disobedient to the mind.  Eat merely to relieve your hunger; drink merely to quench you thirst; dress merely to keep out of cold; house yourself merely as a protection against personal discomfort.  It matter little whether the house be built of turf, or of variously coloured imported marble; understand that a man is sheltered just as well by a thatch as by a roof of gold.  Despise everything that useless toil creates as an ornament and an object of beauty.  And reflect that nothing except the soul is worthy of wonder; for to the soul if it be great, naught is great."

    When I commune in such terms with myself and with future generations, do you not think that I am doing more good than when I appear as a counsel in court, or stamp my seal upon a will, or lend my assistance in the senate, by word or action, to a candidate?  Believe me, those who seem to be busied with nothing are busied with the greater tasks; they are dealing at the same time with things mortal and things immortal.

    But I must stop, and pay my customary contribution, to balance this letter.  The payment shall not be made from my own property; for  I am still conning Epicurus.  I read to-day, in his works, the following sentence: "If you would enjoy real freedom, you must be the slave of Philosophy."  The man who submits and surrenders himself to her is not kept waiting; he is emancipated on the spot.  For the very service of Philosophy is freedom.

    It is likely that you will ask me why I quote so many of Epicurus' noble words instead of words taken from our own school.  But is there any reason why you should regard them as sayings of Epicurus and not common property?  How many poets give forth ideas that have been uttered, or may be uttered, by philosophers!  I need not touch upon the tragedians and our writers of national drama; for these last are also somewhat serious, and stand half-way between comedy and tragedy.  What a quantity of sagacious verses lie buried in the mime!  How many of Publilius's lines are worthy of being spoken by buskin-clad actors, as well as by wearers of the slipper!  I shall quote one verse of his, which concerns philosophy, and particularly that phase of it which we were discussing a moment ago, wherein he says that the gifts of Chance are not to be regarded as part of our possessions.  Still alien is whatever you have gained by coveting.  I recall that you yourself expressed this idea much more happily and concisely: And a third, spoken by you still more happily, shall not be omitted: The good that could be given, can be removed.

    I shall not charge this up to the expense account, I because I have given it to you from your own stock.  Farewell.


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Philosophy and Friendship

    You desire to know whether Epicurus is right when, in one of his letters, he rebukes those who hold that the wise man is self-sufficient and for that reason does not stand in need of friendships.  This is the objection raised by Epicurus against Stilbo and those who believe that the Supreme Good is a soul which is insensible to feeling.

    We are bound to meet with a double meaning if we try to express the Greek term "lack of feeling" summarily, in a single word, rendering it by the Latin word impatientia.  For it may be understood in the meaning the opposite to that which we wish it to have.  What we mean to express is, a soul which rejects any sensation of evil; but people will interpret the idea as that of a soul which can endure no evil.  Consider, therefore, whether it is not better to say "a soul that cannot be harmed," or "a soul entirely beyond the realm of suffering."  There is this difference between us and the other school: our ideal wise man feels his troubles, but overcomes them; their wise man does not even feel them.  But we and they alike hold this idea,-that the wise man is self-sufficient.  Nevertheless, he desires friends, neighbours, and associates, no matter how much he is sufficient unto himself.  And mark how self-sufficient he is; for on occasion he can be content with a part of himself.  If he lose a hand through disease or war, or if some accident puts out one or both of his eyes, he will be satisfied with what is left, taking as much pleasure in his impaired and maimed body as he took when it was sound.  But while he does not pine for these parts if they are missing, he prefers not to lose them.  In this sense the wise man is self-sufficient, that he can do without friends, not that he desires to do without them.  When I say "can," I mean this: he endures the loss of a friend with equanimity.

    But he need never lack friends, for it lies in his own control how soon he shall make good a loss.  Just as Phidias, if he lose a statue, can straightway carve another, even so our master in the art of making friendship's can fill the place of a friend he has lost.  If you ask how one can make oneself a friend quickly, I will tell you, provided we are agreed that I may pay my debt at once and square the account, so far as this letter is concerned.  Hecato says: "I can show you a philtre, compounded without drugs, herbs, or any witch's incantation: 'If you would be loved, love.'"  Now there is great pleasure, not only in maintaining old and established friendships, but also in beginning and acquiring new ones.  There is the same difference between winning a new friend and having already won him, as there is between the farmer who sows and the farmer who reaps.  The philosopher Attalus used to say: "It is more pleasant to make than to keep a friend, as it is more pleasant to the artist to paint than to have finished painting."  When one is busy and absorbed in one's work, the very absorption affords great delight; but when one has withdrawn one's hand from the completed masterpiece, the pleasure is not so keen.  Henceforth it is the fruits of his art that he enjoys; it was the art itself that he enjoyed while he was painting.  In the case of our children, their young manhood yields the more abundant fruits, but their infancy was sweeter.

    Let us now return to the question.  The wise man, I say, self-sufficient though he be, nevertheless desires friends if only for the purpose of practicing friendships, in order that his noble qualities may not lie dormant.  Not, however, for the purpose mentioned by Epicurus in the letter quoted above:  "That there may be someone to sit by him when he is ill, to help him when he is in prison or in what;" but that he may have someone by whose sick-bed he himself only, and enters upon friendships for this reason, reckons wrongly.  The end wills one who might assist him out of bondage; at the first rattle of the chain such a friend will desert him.  These are the so-called "fair-weather" friendship; one who is hose for the sake of utility will be satisfactory only so long as he is useful.  Hence prosperous men are blockaded by troops of friends; but those who have failed stand amid vast crisis which is to test their worth.  Hence, also, we notice those many shameful cases of persons who, through fear, desert or betray.  The beginning and the end cannot but harmonize.  He who begins to be your friend because it pays will also cease because it pays.  A man will be attracted by some reward offered in exchange for his friendship, if he be attracted by aught in friendship other than friendship itself.

    For what purpose, then, do I make a man my friend?  In order to have someone for whom I may die, whom I may follow into exile, against whose death I may stake my own life, and pay the pledge, too.  The friendship which you portray is a bargain and not a friendship run mad.  But, though this is true, does anyone love for the sake of gain, or promotion, or renown?  Pure love, careless of all other things, kindles the soul with desire for the beautiful object, not without the hope of a return of the affection.  What then?  Can a cause which is more honourable produce a passion that is base?  You may retort:  "We are not now discussing the question whether friendship is to be cultivated for urgently requires demonstration; for if friendship is to be sought for it won sake, he may seek it who is self-sufficient.  "How, then," you ask, “does he seek it?"  Precisely as he seeks an object of great beauty, not attracted to it by desire for gain, nor yet frightened y the instability of Fortune.  One, who seeks friendships for favourable occasions, strips it of all its nobility.

    "The wise man is self-sufficient."  This   phrase, my dear Lucilius, is incorrectly explained by many; for they withdraw the wise man from the world, and force him to dwell within his own skin.  But we must mark with car what this sentence signifies and how far it applies; the wise man is sufficient unto him for a happy existence, but not for mere existence.  For he needs many helps towards mere existence; but for a happy existence he needs only a sound and upright soul, one that despises he needs only a sound and upright soul, one that despises Fortune. 

    I should like also the state to you one of the distinctions of Chrysippus, who declares that the wise man is in want of nothing, and yet needs many things.  "On the other hand,'" he says, "nothing is needed by the fool, for he does not understand how to use anything, but he is in want of everything."  The wise man needs hands, eyes, and many things that are necessary for his daily use; but he is in want of nothing.  For want implies a necessity, and nothing is necessary to the wise man.  Therefore, although  he is self-sufficient, yet he has need of friends.  He craves as many friends.  The Supreme Good calls for no practical aids from outside; it is developed at home, and arises entirely within itself.  If the good seeks any portion of itself from without, it begins to be subject to the play of Fortune.

    People may say:  "But what sort of existence will the wise man have, if he be left friendless when thrown into prison, or when stranded in some foreign nation, or when delayed on a long voyage, or when cast upon a lonely shore?"  His life will be like that of Jupiter, who, amid the dissolution of the world, when the gods are  confounded together and Nature rests for a space from her work, can retire into himself and give himself over to his own thoughts.  In some such way as this the sage will act; he will retreat into himself, and live with himself.  As long as he is allowed to order his affairs according to his judgment, he is self-sufficient-and brings up children; he is self-sufficient-and yet could not live if he had to live without the society of man.  Natural promptings, and not his own selfish needs, draw him into friendships.  For just as other things have for us an inherent attractiveness, though the sage may love his friends dearly, often comparing them with himself, and putting then ahead of himself, yet all the good will be limited to his own being, and he will speak the words which were spoken by the very Stilbo, after his country was captured  and his children and his wise lost, as he emerged from the general desolation alone and yet happy, spoke as follows to Demetrius, called Sacker of Cities because of the destruction he brought upon them, in answer to the question whether he had lost anything :  "I have all my goods with me!"  There enemy conquered, but Stilbo conquered his conqueror.  "I have lost nothing!" Aye, he forced Demetrius to wonder whether he himself had conquered after all.  "My goods are all with me!"  In other words, he deemed nothing that might be taken from him to be a good.

    We marvel at certain animals because they can pass through fire and suffer no bodily harm; but how much more marvellous is a man who has marched forth unhurt and unscathed through fire and sword and devastation!  Do you understand now how much easier it is to conquer a whole tribe than to conquer one man?  This saying of Stilbo makes common ground with Stoicism; the Stoic also can carry his goods unimpaired through cities that have been burned to ashes; for he is self-sufficient.  Such are the bounds which he sets to his own happiness.

    But you must not think that our school alone can utter noble words; Epicurus himself, the reviler of Stilbo, spoke similar language; put it down to my credit, though I have already wiped out my debt for the present day.  He says:  "Whoever does not regard what he has as most ample wealth, is unhappy, though he be master of the whole world."  Or, if the following seems to you a more suitable phrase,- for we must try to render the meaning and not the mere words : "A man may rule the world and still be unhappy, if he does not feel that he is supremely happy."  In order, however, that you may know that these sentiments are universal, suggested, of course, by Nature, you will find in one of the comic poets this verse:  "Unblest is he who thinks himself unblest."  For what does your condition matter, if it is bad in your own eyes?  You may say:  "What then?  If yonder man, rich by base means, and yonder man, lord of many but slave of more, shall  call themselves happy, will their own opinion make them happy?"  It matters not what one says, but what one feels; also, not how one feels on one particular day, but how one feels at all times.  There is no reason, however, why you should fear that this great privilege will fall into unworthy hands; only the wise man is pleased with his own.  Folly is ever troubled with weariness of itself.  Farewell.

On Old Age

     Wherever I turn, I see evidences of my advancing years.  I visited lately my country-place, and protested against the money which was spent on the tumble-down building.   My bailiff maintained that the flaws were not due to his own carelessness; "he was doing everything possible, but the house was old."  And this was the house which grew under my own hands!  What has the future in store for speak, on the edge of the roof, possesses pleasures of its own.  Or else the very fact of our not wanting pleasures has taken the place of the pleasures themselves.  How comforting it is to have tired out one's appetites, and to have done with them!  "But," you say, "it is a nuisance to be looking death in the face!"  Death, however, should be looked in the face by young and old alike.  We are not summoned according to our rating on the censor's list.  Moreover, no one is so old that it would be improper for him to hope for another day of existence.  And one day, mind you, is a stage on life's journey.

    Our span of life is divided into parts: it consists of large circles enclosing smaller.  One circle embraces and bounds the rest; it reaches from birth to the last day of existence.  The next circle limits the period of our young manhood.  The third confines all of childhood in its circumference.  Again, there is, in a class by itself, the year; it contains within itself all the divisions of time by multiplication of which we get the total of life.  The month is bounded by a narrower ring.  The smallest circle of all is the day; but even a day has its beginning and its ending, its sunrise and its sunset.  Hence Heraclitus, whose obscure style gave him his surname, remarked:  "One day is equal to every day."  Different persons have interpreted the saying in different ways.  Some had that days are equal in number of hours, and this is true; for if by "day" we mean twenty-four hours' time, all days must be equal, inasmuch as the nigh acquires what the day loses.  But others maintain that one day is equal to all days through resemblance, because the very longest space of time possesses no element which cannot be found in a single day, - namely, light and darkness, - and even to eternity day makes these alternations more numerous, not different when it is shorter and different again when it is longer.  Hence, every day ought to be regulated as if it closed the series, as if it rounded out and completed our existence.

    Pacuvius, who by long occupancy made Syria his own, used to hold a regular burial sacrifice in his own honour, with wine and the usual funeral feasting, and then would have him carried from the dining-room to his chamber, while eunuchs applauded and sang in Greek to a musical accompaniment:  "He has lived his life, he has lived his life!"  Thus Pacuvius had himself carried out to burial every day.  Let us, however, do from a good motive what he used to do from a debased motive; let us go to our sleep with joy and gladness; let us say:  "I have lived; the course which Fortune set for me Is finished."   And is God is pleased to add another day, we should welcome it with glad hearts an is happiest, and is secure in his own possession of himself, who can await the morrow without apprehension.  When a man has said:  "I have lived!” every morning he arises he receives a bonus.

    But now I ought to close my letter.  "What?" you say; "shall it come to me without any little offering?"  Be not afraid; it brings something,- nay, more than something, a great deal.  For what is more noble that he following saying, of which I make this letter the bearer:  "It is wrong to live under constraint; but no man is constrained to live under constraint."  Of course not.  On all sides lie many short and simple paths to freedom; and let us thank God that no man can be kept in life. We may spurn the very constraints that hold us.  "Epicurus," you reply, "Uttered these words; what are you doing with another's property?"  Any truth, I maintain, is my own property.  All I shall continue to heap quotations from Epicurus upon you, so that all persons who swear by the words of another, and put a value upon the speaker and not upon the thing spoken, may understand that the best ideas are common property.  Farwell.

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On Groundless Fears

       I know that you have plenty of spirit; for even before you began to equip yourself with maxims which were wholesome and potent to overcome obstacles, you were taking pride in your contest with Fortune; and this is all the more true, now that you have grappled with Fortune and tested your powers.  For our powers can never inspire in us implicit faith in ourselves except when many difficulties have confronted us on this side and on that, and have occasionally even come to close quarters with us.  It is only in this way that the true spirit can be tested,-the spirit that will never consent to come under the jurisdiction of things external to ourselves.  This is the touchstone of such a spirit; no prize-fighter can go with high spirits into the strife if he has never been beaten black and blue; the only contestant who can confidently enter the lists is the man who has seen his own blood, who has felt his teeth rattle beneath his opponent's fist, who has been tripped and felt the full force of his adversary's charge, who had been downed in body but not in spirit, one who, as often as he falls, rises again with greater defiance than ever.  So then, to keep up my figure, Fortune had often in the past got the upper hand of you, and yet you have not surrendered, but have leaped up and stood your ground still more eagerly.  For manliness gains much strength by being challenged; nevertheless, if you approve, all me to offer some additional safeguards by which you may fortify yourself.

       There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.  I am not speaking with you in the Stoic strain but in my milder style.  For it is our Stoic fashion to speak of all those things, which provoke cries and groans, as unimportant and beneath notice; but you and I must drop such great sounding words, although, Heaven knows, they are true enough.  What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers, before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come.  Accordingly, some things torment us more than they ought; some torment us before they ought; and some torment us then they ought not to torment us at all.  We are in the habit of exaggerating, or imagining, or anticipating, sorrow.

       The first of these three faults may be postponed for the present, because the subject is under discussion for the present, because the subject is under discussion and the case is still in court, so to speak.  That which I should call trifling, you will maintain to be most serious; for of course I know that some men laugh while being flogged, and that others wince at a box on the ear.  We shall consider later whether these evils derive their power from their own strength, or from our own weakness.

       Do me the favour, when men surround you and try to talk you into believing that you are unhappy, to consider not what you hear but what you yourself feel, and to take counsel with your feelings and question yourself independently, because you know your own affairs better than anyone else does.  Ask: "Is there any reason why these persons should condole with me?  Why should they be worried or even fear some infection from me, as if troubles could be transmitted?  Is there any evil involved, or is it a matter merely of ill report, rather than an evil?"  Put the question voluntarily to yourself: "Am I tormented without sufficient reason, am I morose, and do I convert what is not an evil into what is an evil?"  You may retort with the question: "How am I to know whether my sufferings are real or imaginary?"  Here is the rule for such matters: We are tormented either by things present, or by things to come, or by both.  As to things present, the decision is easy.  Suppose that your person enjoys freedom and health, and that you do not suffer from any external injury.  As to what may happen to it in the future, we shall see later on.  To-day there is nothing wrong with it.  "But," you say, "Something will happen to it."  First of all, consider whether your proofs to future trouble are sure.  For it is more often the case that we are mocked by that mocker, rumour, which is wont to settle wars, but much more often settles individuals.  Yes, my dear Lucilius; we agree too quickly with what people say.  We do not put to the test those things which cause our fear; we do not examine into them; we blench and retreat just like soldiers who are forced to abandon their camp because of a dust-cloud raised by stampeding cattle, or are thrown into a panic by the spreading of some unauthenticated rumour.  And somehow or other it is the idle report that disturbs us most.  For truth has its own definite boundaries, but that which arises from uncertainty is delivered over to guesswork and the irresponsible license of a frightened mind.  That is why no fear is so ruinous and so uncontrollable as panic fear.  For other fears are groundless, but this fear is witless.

       Let us, then, look carefully into the matter.  It is likely that some troubles will befall us; but it is not a present fact.  How often has the unexpected happened!  How often has the unexpected to pass!   And even thought it is ordained to be, what does it avail to run out to meet your suffering?  You will suffer soon enough, when it arrives; so look forward meanwhile which will serve to postpone, or end, or pass on to another person, the trials which are near or even in your very presence.  A fire has opened the way to flight.  Men have been let down softly by a catastrophe.  Sometimes the sword has been checked even at the victim's throat.  Men have survived their own executioners.  Even bad fortune is fickle.  Perhaps it will come, perhaps not; in the meantime it is not.  So look forward to better things.

       The mind at times fashions for itself false shapes of evil when there are no signs that point to any evil; it twists into the worst construction some word of doubtful meaning; or it fancies some person's grudge to be more serious than it really is, considering not how angry the enemy is, but to what lengths he may go if he is angry.  But life is not worth living, and there is not limit to our sorrows, if we indulge our fears to the greatest possible extent; in this matter, let prudence help you, and contemn fear with a resolute spirits even when it is in plain sight.  If you cannot do this, counter one weakness with another, and temper your fear with hope.  There is nothing so certain among these objects of fear that it is not more certain still that things we dread sink into nothing and those things we hope for a mock us.

       Accordingly, weigh carefully your hopes as well as your fears, and whenever all the elements are in doubt, decide in your own favour; believe what you prefer.  And if fear wins a majority of the votes, incline in the other direction anyhow, and cease to harass you soul, reflecting continually that most mortals, even when no troubles are actually at hand or are certainly to be expected in the future, become excited and disquieted.  No one calls a halt on himself, when he begins to be urged ahead; nor does he regulate his alarm according to the truth.  No one says:  "The author of the story is a fool, and he who has believed it is a fool, as well as he who fabricated it."  We let ourselves drift with every breeze; we are frightened at uncertainties, just as if they were certain.  We observe no moderation.  The slightest thing turns the scales and throws us forthwith into a panic.

       But I am ashamed either to admonish you sternly or to try to beguile you with such mild remedies.  Let another say:  "Perhaps the worst will not happen."  You yourself must say:  "Well, what if it does happen?  Let us see who wins!  Perhaps it happens for my best interests; it may be that such a death will shed credit upon my life."  Socrates was ennobled by the hemlock draught.  Wretch from Cato's hand his sword, the vindicator of liberty, and you deprive him of the greatest share of his glory.  I am exhorting you far too long, since you need reminding rather than exhortation.  The path on which your nature leads you; you were born to such conduct as I describe.  Hence there is all the more reason why you should increase and beautify the good that is in you.

       But now, to close my letter, I have only to stamp the usual seal upon it, in other words, to commit thereto some noble message to be delivered to you:  "The fool, with all his other faults, has this also,-he is always getting ready to live."  Reflect, my esteemed Lucilius, what this saying means, and you will see how revolting is the fickleness of men who lay down every day new foundations of life, and begin to build up fresh hopes even at the brink of the grave.  Look within your own mind for individual instances; you will think of old men who are preparing themselves at that very hour for a political career, or for travel, or for business.  And what is baser, than getting ready to live when you are already old?  I should not name the author of this motto, except that it is somewhat unknown of fame and is not one of those popular sayings of Epicurus which I have allowed myself to praise and to appropriate.  Farewell.
  
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On the Reasons for Withdrawing From the World

 
    I confess that we all have an inborn affection for our body; I confess that we are entrusted with its guardianship.  I do not maintain that the body is not to be indulged at all; but I maintain that we must not be slaves to it.  He will have many masters who makes his body his master, who is over-fearful in its behalf, who judges everything according to the body. We should contact ourselves not as if we ought to live without it.  Our too great love for it makes us restless with fears, burdens us with cares, and exposes us to insults.  Virtue is held too cheap by the man who counts his body with the greatest care; but we should also be prepared, when reason, self-respect, and duty demand the sacrifice, to deliver it even to the flames.

    Let us, however, in so far as we can, avoid discomforts as well as dangers, and withdraw to safe ground, by thinking continually how we may repel all objects of fear.  If I am not mistaken, there are three main classes of these:  we fear want, we fear sickness, and we fear the troubles which result from the violence of the stronger.  And of all these, that which shakes us most is the dread which hangs over us from our neighbour's ascendancy; for it is accompanied by great outcry and uproar.  But the natural evils which I have mentioned,-want and sickness, -steal upon us silently with no shock of terror to the eye or to the ear.  The other kind of evil comes, so to speak, in the form of a huge parade.  Surrounding it is a retinue of swords and fire and chains and a mob of beasts to be let loose upon the disembowelled entrails of men.  Picture to yourself under his head the prison, the cross, the rack, the hook, and the stake which they drive straight through a man until it protrudes from his throat.  Think of human limbs torn apart by chariots driven in opposite directions, of the terrible shirt smeared and interwoven with inflammable materials, and of all the other contrivances devised by cruelty, in addition to those which I have mentioned!  It is not surprising, then, if our greatest terror is of such a fate; for it comes in many shapes and its paraphernalia are terrifying.  For just as the torturer accomplishes more in proportion to the number of instruments which he displays,-indeed, the spectacle overcomes those who would have patiently withstood the suffering,-similarly, of all the agencies which coerce and master our minds, the most effective are those which can make a display.  Those other troubles are of course not less serious; I mean hunger, thirst, ulcers of the stomach, and fever that parches our very bowels.  They are, however, secret; they have no bluster and no heralding; but these, like huge arrays of war, prevail by virtue of their display and their equipment.

    Let us, therefore, see to it that we abstain from giving offence.  It is sometimes that people that we ought to fear; or sometimes a body of influential oligarchs in the Senate, if the method of governing the State in such that most of the business is done by that body; and sometimes individuals equipped with power by the people and against the people.  It is burdensome to keep the friendship of all such persons; it is enough not to make enemies of them.  So the wise man will never provoke the anger of those in power; nay, he will even turn his course, precisely as he would turn from a storm if he were steering a ship.  When you travelled to Sicily, you crossed the Straits.  The reckless pilot scorned the blustering South Wind,-the wind which roughens the Sicilian Sea and forces it into choppy currents; he sought not the shore on the left, but the strand hard by the place where Charybdis throws the seas into confusion.  Your more careful pilot, however, questions those who know the locality as the tides and the meaning of the clouds; he holds his course far from that region notorious for its swirling waters.  Our wise man does the same; he shuns a strong man who may be injurious to him, because an important part of one's safety lies in not seeking safety openly; for what one avoids, one condemns.

    We should therefore look about us, and see how we may protect ourselves from the mob.  And first of all, we should have no cravings like theirs; for rivalry results in strife.  Again, let us possess nothing that can be snatched from us to the great profit of a plotting foe.  Let there be as little booty as possible on your person.  No one sets out to shed the blood of his fellow-men for the sake of bloodshed,-at any rate very few.  More murderers speculate on their profits than give vent to hatred.  If you are empty-handed, the highwayman passes you by; even along an infested road, the poor may travel in peace.  Next, we must follow the old adage and avoid three things with special care: hatred, jealousy, and scorn.   And wisdom alone can show you how this may be done.  It is hard to observe a mean; we must be chary of letting the fear of jealousy lead us into becoming objects of scorn, lest, when we choose not to stamp others down, we let them think that they can stamp us down.  The power to inspire fear has caused many men to be in fear.  Let us withdraw ourselves in every way; for it is as harmful to be scorned as to be admired.

    One must therefore take refuge in philosophy; this pursuit, not only in the eyes of good men, but also in the eyes of those who are even moderately bad, is a sort of protecting emblem.  For speechmaking at the bar, or any other pursuit that claims the people's attention, wins enemies for a man; but philosophy is peaceful and minds her own business.  Men cannot scorn her; she is honoured by every profession, even the vilest among them.  Evil can never grow so strong, and nobility of character can never be so plotted against, that the name of philosophy shall cease to be worshipful and sacred.

    Philosophy itself, however, should be practised with calmness and moderations.  "Very well, then," you retort, "Do you regard the philosophy of Marcus Cato as moderate?  Cato's voice strove to check a civil war.  Cato parted the swords of maddened chieftains.  When some fell foul of Pompey and others fell foul of Caser, Cato defied both parties at once!"  Nevertheless, one may well question whether, in those days, a wise man ought to have taken any part in public affairs, and ask: "What do you mean, Marcus Cato?  It is not now a question of freedom; long since has freedom gone to rack and ruin.  The question is, whether it is Caesar or Pompey who controls the State.  Why, Cato, should you take sides in that dispute?  It is no business of yours; a tyrant is being selected.  What does it concern you who conquerors?  The better man may win; but the winner is bound to be the worse man."  I have referred to Cato's final role.  But even in previous years the wise man was not permitted to intervene in such plundering of the state; for what could Cato do but raise his voice and utter unavailing words?  At one time he was "hustled" by the mob and spat upon and forcibly removed from the forum an marked for exile; at another, he was taken straight to prison from the senate-chamber.

    However, we shall consider later whether the wise man ought to give his attention to politics; meanwhile, I beg you to consider those Stoics who, shut out from public life, have withdrawn into privacy for the purpose of improving men's existence and framing laws for the human race without incurring the displeasure of those in power.  The wise man will not upset the customs of the people, nor will he invite the attention of the populace by any novel ways of living.

    "What then?  Can one who follows out this plan be safe in any case?"  I cannot guarantee you this any more than I can guarantee good health in the case of a man who observes moderation; although, as a matter of fact, good health results from such moderation.  Sometimes a vessel perishes in harbour; but what do you think happens on the open sea?  And how much more beset with danger that man would be who even in his leisure is not secure, if he were busily working at many things!  Innocent persons sometimes perish more frequently.  A soldier's skill is not at fault if he receives the death-blow through his armour.  And finally, the wise man regards the reason for all his actions, but not the results.  The beginning is in our own power; fortune decides the issue, but I do not allow her to pass sentence upon myself.  You may say: "But she can inflict a measure of suffering and of trouble."  The highwayman does not pass sentence when he slays.

    Now you re stretching forth your hand for the daily gift.  Golden indeed will be the gift with which I shall load you; and, inasmuch as we have mentioned gold, let me tell you how its use and enjoyment may bring you greater pleasure.  "He, who needs riches least, enjoys riches most."  "Author's name, please!" you say.  Now, to show you how generous I am, it is my intent to praise the dicta of other schools.  The phrase belongs to Epicurus, or Metrodorus, or some one of that particular thinking-shop.  But what difference does it make who spoke the words?  They were uttered for the world.  He who craves riches feels fear on their account.  No man, however, enjoys a blessing that brings anxiety; he is always trying to add a little more.  While he puzzles over increasing his wealth, he forgets how to use it.  He collects his accounts, he wears out the pavement in the forum, he turns over his ledger,-and in short he ceases to be master and becomes a steward.  Farewell.
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Philosophy, the Guide of Life

 
    It is clear to you, I am sure, Lucilius, that no man can live a happy life, or even a supportable life, without the study of wisdom; you know also that a happy life is reached when our wisdom is brought to completion, but that life is at least endurable even when our wisdom is only begun. This idea, however, clear though it is, must be strengthened and implanted more deeply by daily reflection; it is more important for you to keep the resolutions you have already made than to go on and make noble ones. You must persevere, must develop new strength by continuous study, until that which is only a good inclination becomes a good settled purpose. Hence you no longer need to come to me with much talk and protestations; I know that you have made great progress. I understand the feelings which prompt your words; they are not feigned or specious words. Nevertheless I shall tell you what I think, - that at present I have hopes for you, but not yet perfect trust. And I wish that you would adopt the same attitude towards yourself; there is no reason why you should put confidence in yourself too quickly and readily.

     Examine yourself; scrutinize and observe yourself in divers ways; but mark, before all else, whether it is in philosophy or merely in life itself that you have made progress. Philosophy is no trick to catch the public; it is not devised for show. It is a matter, not of words, but of facts. It is not pursued in order that the day may yield some amusement before it is spent, or that our leisure may be relieved of a tedium that irks us. It moulds and constructs the soul; it orders our life, guides our conduct, shows us what we should do and what we should leave undone; it sits at the helm and directs our course as we waver amid uncertainties. Without it, no one can live fearlessly or in peace of mind. Countless things that happen every hour call for advice; and such advice is to be sought in philosophy.

     Perhaps someone will say: "How can philosophy help me, if Fate exists? Of what avail is philosophy, if God rules the universe? Of what avail is it, if Chance governs everything? For not only is it impossible to change things that are determined, but it is also impossible to plan beforehand against what is undetermined; either God has forestalled my plans, and decided what I am to do, or else Fortune gives no free play to my plans." Whether the truth, Lucilius, lies in one or in all of these views, we must be philosophers; whether Fate binds us down by an inexorable law, or whether God as arbiter if the universe has arranged everything, or whether Chance drives and tosses human affairs without method, philosophy ought to be our defence. She will encourage is to obey God, cheerfully, but Fortune defiantly; she will teach us to follow God and endure Chance.  But it is not my purpose now to be led into a discussion as to what is within our own control,-if foreknowledge is supreme, or if a chain of fated events drags us along in its clutches, or if the sudden and the unexpected play the tyrant over us; I return now to my warning and my exhortation, that you should not allow the impulse of your spirit to weaken and grow cold. Hold fast to it and establish it firmly, in order that what is now impulse may become a habit of the mind.

     If I know you well, you have already been trying to find out, from the very beginning of my letter, what little contribution it brings to you. Sift the letter, and you will find it. You need not wonder at any genius of mine; for as yet I am lavish only with other men’s property.-But why did I say "other men"? Whatever is well said by anyone is mine.- This also is a saying of Epicurus : "If you live according to nature, you will never be poor ; if you live according to opinion, you will never to rich," Nature’s wants are slight; the demands of opinion are boundless. Suppose that the property of many millionaires is heaped up in your possession. Assume that fortune carries you far beyond the limits of a private income, decks you to such a degree of luxury and wealth that you can bury the earth under your marble floors; that you may not only possess, but tread upon, riches. And statues, paintings, and whatever any art has devised for the satisfaction of luxury; you will only learn from such things to crave still greater.

     Natural desires are limited; but those which spring from false opinion can have no stopping-point. The false has no limits. When you are travelling on a road, there must be an end; but when astray, your wanderings are limitless. Recall your steps, therefore, from idle things, and when you would know whether that which you seek is based upon a natural or upon a misleading desire, consider whether it can stop at any definite point. If you find, after having travelled far, that there is a more distant goal always in view, you may be sure that this condition is contrary to nature. Farewell.


On Festivals and Fasting
 
     It is the month of December, and yet the city is at this very moment in a sweat.  Licence is given to the general merrymaking.  Everything resounds with mightily preparations,-as if the Saturnalia differed at all from the usual business day!  So true it is that the difference is nil, that I regard as correct the remark of the man who said:  "Once December was a month; now it is a year."

    If I had you with me, I should be glad to consult you and find out what you think should be done,- whether we ought to make no change in our daily routine, or whether, in order not to be out of sympathy with the ways of the public, we should dine in gayer fashion and doff the toga.  As it is now, we Romans have changed our dress for the sake of pleasure and holiday-making, though in former disturbed and had fallen on evil days.  I am sure that, if I know you aright, playing the part of an umpire you would have wished that we should be neither like the liberty-capped throng in all ways, not in all ways unlike them; unless, perhaps, that is just the season when we ought to lay down the law to the soul, and bid it be alone in refraining from pleasures just when the whole mob has let itself go in pleasures; for this is the surest proof which a man can get of his own constancy, if he neither seeks the things which are seductive and allure him to luxury, nor is led into them.  It shows much more courage to remain dry and sober when the mob is drunk and vomiting; but it shows greater self-control to refuse to withdraw oneself and to do what the crowd does, but in a different way,-thus neither making oneself conspicuous nor becoming one of the crowd.  For one may keep holiday without extravagance.

    I am so firmly determined, however, to test the constancy of your mind that, drawing from the teachings of great men, I shall give you also a lesson:  Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while:  "Is this the condition that I feared?"  It is precisely in times of immunity from care that the soul should toughen itself beforehand for occasions of greater stress, and it is while Fortune is kind that it should fortify itself against her violence.  In days of peace the soldier performs manoeuvres, throws up earthworks with no enemy in sight, and wearies himself by gratuitous toil, in order that he may be equal to unavoidable toil, in order that he may be equal to unavoidable toil.  If you would not have a man flinch when the crisis comes, train him before it comes.  Such is the course which those men have followed who, in their imitation of poverty, have every month come almost to want, that they might never recoil from what they had so often rehearsed.

    You need not suppose that I mean meals like Timon's or "paupers' huts," or any other device with luxurious millionaires use to beguile the tedium of their lives.  Let the pallet be a real one, and the coarse cloak; let the bread e hard and grimy.  Endure all this for three or four days at a time, sometimes for sometimes for more, so that it may be a test of yourself instead of a mere hobby.  Then, I assure you, my dear Lucilius, you will leap for joy when filled with a pennyworth of food, and you will understand that a man's peace of mind does not depend upon Fortune; for, even when angry she grants enough for our needs.

    There is no reason, however, why you should think that you are doing anything great; for you will merely be doing what many thousands of poor men are doing every day.  But you may credit. yourself with this item,- that you will not be doing it wonder compulsion, and that it will be as easy for you to endure it permanently as to make the experiment form time to time.  Let t us practice our guard.  We shall be rich with all the more comfort, if we once learn how far poverty is from being a burden.

    Even Epicurus, the teacher of pleasure, used to observe stated intervals, during which he satisfies his hunger in niggardly fashion;   he wished to see whether he thereby feel short of full and complete happiness, and, if so, by what amount he feel short, and whether this amount was worth purchasing at the price of great effort.  At any rate, he makes such a statement in the well known letter written to Polyaenus in the archonship of Charinus.  Indeed, he boasts that he himself lived on less than a penny, but that Metrodorus, whose progress was not yet that there can be fullness on such fare?  Yes, and there is pleasure also,-not that shifty and fleeting pleasure which needs a fillip now and then, but a pleasure is steadfast and sure.   For though water, barley-meal, and crusts of barley-bread, are not a cheerful diet, yet is is the highest kind of pleasure to be able to derive pleasure from this sort of food, and to have reduced one's needs to that modicum which no unfairness of Fortune can snatch away.  Even prison fare is more generous; and those who have been set apart for capital punishment are not so meanly fed by the man who is to execute them.  Therefore, what a noble should must one have, to descend of one's own free will to a diet which even those who have been sentenced to death have into to fear!  This is indeed forestalling the spear thrust of Fortune.

    So begin, my dear Lucilius, to follow the custom of these men, and set apart certain days on which you shall withdraw from your business and make yourself at home with the scantiest fare. Establish business relations with poverty.

    Dare, O my friend, to scorn the sight of wealth, and mould thyself to kinship with thy God: for he alone is in kinship with God who has scorned wealth.  Of course I do not forbid you to possess it, but I would have you reach the point at which you possess it dauntlessly;  this can be accomplished only be persuading yourself that you can live happily without it as well as with it, and by regarding riches always as likely to elude you.

    But   now I must begin to fold up my letter.  "Settle your debts first," you cry.  Here is a draft on Epicurus; he will pay down the sum:  "Ungoverned anger begets madness."  You cannot help knowing the truth of these words, since you have had not only slaves, but also enemies.  But indeed this emotion blazes out against all sorts of persons; it springs from love as much as from hate, and shows itself not less in serious matters than in jest and sport.  And it makes no difference how important the provocation may be, but into what kind of soul it penetrates.  Similarly with fire; it does not matter how great is the flame, but what it falls upon.  For solid timbers have repelled a very great fire; conversely, dry and easily inflammable stuff nourished the slightest spark into a conflagration.  So it is with anger, my dear Lucilius; the outcome of a mighty anger is merely that we may escape excess, but that we may have a healthy mind.  Farewell.

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On Worldliness and Retirement


     I leap for joy whenever I receive letters from you.  For they fill me with hope; they are now not mere assurances concerning you, but guarantees.  And I beg and pray you to proceed in this course; for what better request could I make of a friend than one which is to be made for his own sake?  If possible, withdraw yourself from all the business of which you speak; and if you cannot do this, tear yourself away.  We have dissipated enough of our time already; let us die in harbour.  Not that I would advise you to try to win fame by your retirement; one's retirement should neither be paraded nor concealed.  Not concealed, I say, for I shall not go so far in urging you as to expect you to condemn all men as mad and then seek out for yourself a hiding-place and oblivion; rather this your business, that your retirement be no conspicuous, though it should be obvious.  In the second place, while those whose choice is unhampered from the start will deliberate on that other question, whether they wish to pass their lives in obscurity, in your case there is not a free choice.  Your ability and energy have thrust you into the work of the world; so have the charm of your writings and the friendships you have made with famous and notable men.  Renown has already taken you by storm. You may sink yourself into the depths of obscurity and utterly hide yourself; yet your earlier acts will reveal you.  You cannot keep lurking in the dark; much of the old gleam will follow you wherever you fly.

    Peace you can claim for yourself without being disliked by anyone, without any sense of loss, and without any pangs of spirit.  For what will you leave behind you that you can imagine yourself reluctant to leave?  Your clients?  But none of these men courts you for yourself; they merely court something from you.  People used to hunt friends, but now they hunt pelf; if a lonely old man changes his will, the morning-caller transfers himself to another door.  Great things cannot be bought for small sums; so reckon up whether it is preferable to leave your own true self, or merely some of your belongings.  Would that you had had the privilege of growing old amid the limited circumstances of your origin, and that fortune had not raised you to such heights!  You were removed far from the sight of wholesome living by your swift rise to prosperity, by your province, by your position as procurator, and by all that such things promise; you will next acquire more important duties and after them still more.  And what will be the result?  Why wait until there is nothing left for you to crave?  That time will never come.  We hold that there is a succession of causes, from which fate is woven; similarly, you may be sure, there is a succession in our desires; for one begins where its predecessor ends.  You have been thrust into an existence which will never of itself put and end to your wretchedness and your slavery.  Withdraw your chafed neck from the yoke; it is better that it should be cut off once for all, than galled for ever.  If you retreat to privacy, everything will be on a smaller scale, but you will be satisfied abundantly; in your present condition, however, there is no satisfaction in the plenty which is heaped upon you on all sides.  Would you rather be poor and sated, or rich and hungry?  Prosperity is not only greedy, but it also lies exposed to the greed of others.  And as long as nothing satisfies you, you yourself cannot satisfy others.

    "But", you say, "How can I take my leave?"  Any way you please.  Reflect how many hazards you have ventured for the sake of money, and how much toil you have undertaken for a title!  You must dare something to gain leisure, also,-or else grow old amid the worries of procuratorships abroad and subsequently of civil duties at home, living which no man has ever succeeded in avoiding by unobtrusiveness or by seclusion of life.  For what bearing on the case has your personal desire for a secluded life?  Your position in the world desires the opposite!  What if, even now, you allow that position to grow greater?  But all that is added to your successes will be added to your fears.  At this point I should like to quote a saying of Maecenas, who spoke the truth when he stood on the very summit: "There's thunder even on the loftiest peaks."  If you ask me in what book these words are found, they occur in the volume entitled Prometheus.  He simply meant to say that these lofty peaks have their tops surrounded with thunder-storms.  But is any power worth so high a price that a man like you would ever, in order to obtain it, adopt a style so debauched as that?  Maecenas was indeed a man of parts, who would have left a great pattern for Roman oratory to follow, had his good fortune not made him effeminate,-nay, had it not emasculated him!  An end like his awaits you also, unless you forthwith shorten said and,-as Maecenas was not willing to do until it was too late,-hug the shore!

    This saying of Maecnas's might have squared my account with you; but I feel sure, knowing you, that you will get out an injunction against me, and that you will be unwilling to accept payment of my debt in such crude and debased currency.  However, that may be, I shall draw on the account of Epicurus.  He says:  "You must reflect carefully beforehand with whom you are to eat and drink, rather than what you eat and drink.  For a dinner of meats without the company of a friend is like the life of a lion or a wolf."  This privilege will not be yours unless withdraw from the world; otherwise, you will have as guests only those whom your slave-secretary sorts out from the throng of callers.  it is, however, a mistake to select your friend in the reception-hall or to test him at the dinner-table.  The most serious misfortune for a busy man who is overwhelmed by his possessions is, that he believes men to be his friends when he himself is not a friend to them, and that he deems his favours to be effective in winning friends, although, in the case of certain men, the more they owe, the more they hate.  A trifling debt makes a man your debtor; a large one make him an enemy.  "What," you say, "do not kindness establish friendships?"  They do, if one had had the privilege of choosing those who are to receive them, and if they are placed judiciously, instead of being scattered broadcast.

    Therefore, while you are beginning to call your mind your own, meantime apply this maxim of the wise: consider that it is more important who receives a thing, than what it is he receives.  Farewell.


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On Practicing What You Preach

   If you are in good health and if you think yourself worthy of becoming at last your own master, I am glad.  For the credit will be mine, if I can drag you from the floods in which you are being buffeted without hope of emerging.  This, however, my dear Lucilius, I ask and beg of you, on your part, that you  let wisdom sink into your soul, and test your progress, not by mere speech or writings, but by stoutness of heart and decrease of desire.  Prove your words by your deeds.

   Far different is the purpose of those who are speech-making and trying to win the approbation of a throng of hearers, far different that of those who allure the ears of young men and idlers by many-sided or fluent argumentation; philosophy teaches us to act, not to speak; it exacts of every man that he should live according to his own standards that his life should not be out of harmony with his words, and that, further, his inner life should be of one hue and not out of harmony with all his activities.  This, I say, is the highest duty and the highest proof of wisdom,--that deed and word should be in accord, that a man should be equal to himself under all conditions, and always the same.

   "But," you reply, "Who can maintain this standard?"  Very few, to be sure, but there are some.  It is indeed a hard undertaking, and I do not say that the philosopher can always keep the same pace.  But he can always travel the same path.  Observe yourself, then, and see whether your dress and your house are inconsistent, whether you treat yourself lavishly and your family  meanly, whether you eat frugal dinners and yet build luxurious houses.  You should lay hold, once for all, upon a single norm to live by, and should regulate your whole life according to this norm.  Some men restrict themselves lat home, but strut with swelling port before the public; such discordance is a fault, and it indicates a wavering mind which cannot yet keep its balance.  And I can tell you, further, whence arise this unsteadiness and disagreement of action and purpose; it is because no man resolves upon what he wishes, and, even if he has done so, he does not persist in it, but jumps the track; not only does he change, but he returns and slips back to the conduct which he has abandoned and abjured.  Therefore, to omit the ancient definitions of wisdom and to include the whole manner of human life, I can be satisfied with the following:  "What is wisdom?  Always desiring the same things, and always refusing the same things."  You may be excused from adding the little proviso,--that what you wish should be right; since no man can always be satisfied with the same thing unless it is right.

   For this reason men do not know what they wish, except at the actual moment of wishing; no man ever decided once and for all to desire or to refuse.  Judgment varies from day to day, and changes to the opposite, making many a man pass his life in a kind of game.  Press on, therefore, as you have begun; perhaps you will be led to perfection, or to a point which you alone understand is still short of perfection

   "But what," you say, "will become of my crowded household without a household income?"  If you stop supporting that crowd, it will support itself; or perhaps you will learn by the bounty of poverty what you cannot learn by your own bounty.  Poverty will keep for you your true and tried friends; you will be rid of the men who were not seeking you for yourself, but for something which you have.  Is it not true, however, that you should love poverty, if only for this single reason,--that it will show you those by whom you are loved?  O when will that time come, when no one shall tell lies to compliment you!  Accordingly, let your thoughts, your efforts, your desires, help to make you content with your own self and with the goods that spring from yourself; and commit all your other prayers to God's keeping!  What happiness could come closer home to you?  Bring yourself down to humble conditions, from which you cannot be ejected; and in order that you may do so with greater alacrity, the contribution contained in this letter shall refer to that subject; I shall bestow it upon you forthwith.

   Although you may look askance, Epicurus will once again be glad to settle my indebtedness:  "Believe me, your words will be more imposing if you sleep on a cot and wear rags.  For in that case you will not be merely saying them; you will be demonstrating their truth."  I, at any rate, listen in a different spirit to the utterances of our friend Demetrius, after I have seen him reclining without even a cloak to cover him, and, more than this, without rugs to lie upon.  He is not only a teacher of the truth, but a witness to the truth.  "May not a man, however, despise wealth when it lies in his very pocket?"  Of course, he also is great-souled, who sees riches heaped up round him and, after wondering long and deeply because they have come into his possession, smiles, and hears rather than feels that they are his.  It means much not to be spoiled by intimacy with riches; and he is truly great who is poor amidst riches.  "Yes, but I do not know," you say, "How the man you speak of will endure poverty, if he falls into it suddenly."  Nor do I, Epicurus, know whether the poor man you speak of will despise riches, should he suddenly fall into them; accordingly, in the case of both, it is the mind that must be appraised, and we must investigate whether your man is pleased with his poverty, and whether my man is displeased with his riches.  Otherwise, the cot-bed and the rags are slight proof of his good intentions; if it has not been made clear that the person concerned endures these trials not from necessity but from preference.

   It is the mark, however, of a noble spirit not to precipitate oneself into such things on the ground that they are better, but to practise for them on the ground that they are thus easy to endure.  And they are easy to endure, Lucilius; when, however, you come to them after long rehearsal; they are even pleasant; for they contain a sense of freedom from care,--and without this nothing is pleasant.  I hold it essential, therefore, to do as I have told you in a letter that great men have often done:  to reserve a few days in which we may prepare ourselves for real poverty by means of fancied poverty.  There is all the more reason for doing this because we have been steeped in luxury and regard all duties as hard and onerous.  Rather let the soul be roused from its sleep and be prodded, and let it be reminded that nature has prescribed very little for us.  No man is born rich.  Every man, when he first sees light, is commanded to be content with milk and rags.  Such is our beginning, and yet kingdoms are all too small for us!  Farewell.       


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On the Futility of Half-Way Measures

       You understand by this time that you must withdraw yourself from those showy and depraved pursuits; but you still wish to know how this may be accomplished.  There are certain things which can be pointed out only by someone who is present.  The physician cannot prescribe by letter the proper time for eating or bathing; he must feel the pulse.  There is an old adage about gladiators,- that they plan their fight in the ring; as they intently watch, something in the adversary's glance, some movement of his hand, even some slight bending of his body, gives a warning.  We can formulate general rules and commit them to writing, as to what is usually done, or ought to be done; such advice may be given, not only to our absent friends, but also to succeeding generations.  In regard, however, to that second "question,-when or how your plan is to be carried out,-no one will advise at long range; we must take counsel in the presence of the actual situation.  You must be not only present in the body, but watchful in mind, if you would avail yourself of the fleeting opportunity.  Accordingly, look about you for the opportunity; if you see it, grasp it, and with all your energy and with all your strength devote yourself to this task,-to rid yourself of those business duties.
 
       Now listen carefully to the opinion which I shall offer; it is my opinion that you should withdraw either from that kind of existence, or else from existence all together.  But I likewise maintain that you should take a gentle path, that you may loosen rather than cut the knot which you have bungled so badly in tying,-provided that if there shall be no other way of loosening it, you may actually cut it.  No man is so faint-hearted that he would rather hang in suspense for ever than drop once for all.  Meanwhile,-and this is of first importance,-do not hamper yourself; be content with the business into which you have lowered yourself, or, as you prefer to have people think, have tumbled.  There is no reason why you should be struggling on to something further; if you do, you will lose all grounds of excuse, and men will see that it was not a tumble.  The usual explanation which men offer is wrong: "I was compelled to do it."  But no one is compelled to pursue prosperity at top speed; it means something to call a halt,-even if one does not offer resistance,-instead of pressing eagerly after favouring fortune.  Shall you then be put out with me, if I not only come to advise you, but also call in others to advise you,-wiser heads than my own, men before whom I am wont to lay any problem upon which I am pondering?  Read the letter of Epicurus which bears on this matter; it is addressed to Idomeneus.  The writer asks him to hasten as fast as he can, and beat a retreat before some stronger influence comes between and takes from him the liberty to withdraw.  But he also adds that one should attempt nothing except at the time when it can be attempted suitably and seasonably.  Then, when the long-sought occasion comes, let him be up and doing.  Epicurus forbids us to doze when we are not in too great a hurry before the time, nor too dilatory when the time arrives.
       Now, I suppose, you are looking for a Stoic motto also.  There is really no reason why anyone should slander that school to you on the ground of its rashness; as a matter of fact, its caution is greater than its courage.  You are perhaps expecting the sect to utter such words as these: "It is base to flinch under a burden.  Wrestle with the duties which you have once undertaken.  No man is brave and earnest if he avoids danger, if his spirit does not grow with the very difficulty of his task."  Words like these will indeed be spoken to you, if only your perseverance shall have an object that is worth while, if only you will not have to do or to suffer anything unworthy of a good man; besides, a good man will not waste himself upon mean and discreditable work or be busy merely for the sake of being busy.  Neither will he, as you imagine, become so involved in ambitious schemes that he will have continually to endure their ebb and flow.  Nay, when he sees the dangers, uncertainties, and hazards in which he was formerly tossed about, he will withdraw,-not turning his back to the foe, but falling back little by little to a safe position.  From business, however, my dear Lucilius, it is easy to escape, if only you will despise the rewards of business.  We are held back and kept from escaping by thoughts like these: "What then?  Shall I leave behind me these great prospects?  Shall I have no slaves at my side?  No retinue for my litter?  No crowd in my reception-room?"
       Hence men leave such advantages as these with reluctance; they love the reward of their hardships, but curse the hardships themselves.  Men complain about their ambitions as they complain about their mistresses; in other words, if you penetrate their real feelings, you will find, not hatred, but bickering.  Search the minds of those who cry down what they have desired, who talk about escaping from things which they are unable to do without; you will comprehend that they are lingering of their own free will in a situation which they declare they find it hard and wretched to endure.  It is so, my dear Lucilius; there are a few men whom slavery holds fast, but there are many more who hold fast to slavery.
       If, however, you intend to be rid of this slavery; if freedom is genuinely pleasing in your eyes; and if you seek counsel for this one purpose,-that you may have the good fortune to accomplish this purpose without perpetual annoyance,-how can the whole company of Stoic thinkers fail to approve your course?  Zeno, Chrysippus, and all their kind will give you advice that is temperate, honourable, and suitable.  But is you keep turning round and looking about, in order to see how much you may carry away with you, and how much money you may keep to equip yourself for the life of leisure, you will never find a way out.  No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him.  Rise to a higher life, with the favour of the gods; but let it not be favour of such a kind as the gods give to men when with kind and genial faces they bestow magnificent ills, justified in so doing by the one fact that the things which irritate and torture have been bestowed in answer to prayer.
       I was just putting the seal upon this letter; but it must be broken again, in order that it may go to you with its customary contribution, bearing with it some noble word.  And lo, here is one that occurs to my mind; I do not know whether its truth or its nobility of utterance is the greater.  "Spoken by whom?"  You ask.  By Epicurus; for I am still appropriating other men's belongings.  The words are:  "Everyone goes out of life just as if he had but lately entered it."  Take anyone off his guard, - young, old, or middle-aged; you will find that all are equally afraid of death, and equally ignorant of life.  No thought in the quotation given above pleases me more than that it taunts old men with being infants.  "No one," he says, "leaves this world in a different manner from one who has just been born."  That is not true; for we are worse when we die than when we were born; but it is our fault, and not what of Nature.  Nature should scold us, saying: "What does this mean?  I brought you into the world without desires or fears, free from superstition, treachery and the other curses.  Go forth as you were when you entered!"
       A man has caught the message of wisdom, if he can die as free from care as he was at birth; but as it is, we are all a-flutter at the approach of the dreaded end.  Our fails us, our cheeks blanch; our tears fall, though they are unavailing.  But what is baser than to fret at the very threshold of peace?  The reason, however, is, that we are stripped of all our goods, we have jettisoned our cargo of life and are in distress; for no part of it has been packed in the hold; it has been heaved overboard and has drifted away.  Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man's power to live long.  Farewell.
  

On Despising Death

        You write me that you are anxious about the result of a lawsuit, with which an angry opponent is threatening you; and you expect me to advise you to picture to yourself a happier issue, and to rest in the allurements of hope.  Why, indeed, is it necessary to summon trouble,-which must be endured soon enough when it has once arrived,-or to anticipate trouble and ruin the present through fear of the future? It is indeed foolish to be unhappy now because you may be unhappy at some future time.  But I shall conduct you to peace of mind by another route: if you would put off all worry, assume that what you fear may happen will certainly happen in any event; whatever the trouble may be, measure it in your own mind, and estimate the amount of your fear.  You will thus understand that what you fear is either insignificant or short-lived. And you need not spend a long time in gathering illustrations which will strengthen you; every epoch has produced them.  Let your thoughts travel into any era of Roman or foreign history, and there will throng before you notable examples of high achievement or of high endeavour.

       If you lose this case, can anything more severe happen to you than being sent into exile or led to prison?  Is there a worse fate that any man may fear than being burned or being killed?  Name such penalties one by one, and mention the men who have scorned them; one does not need to hunt for them,-it is simply a matter of selection.  Sentence of conviction was borne by Rutilius as if the injustice of the decision were the only thing which annoyed him.  Exile was endured by Metellus with courage, by Rutilius even with gladness; for the former consented to come back only because his country called him; the latter refused to return when Sulla summoned him,-and nobody in those days said "No" to Sulla!  Socrates in prison discoursed, and declined to flee when certain persons gave him the opportunity; he remained there, in order to free mankind from the fear of two most grievous things, death and imprisonment.  Mucius put his hand into the fire.  It is painful to be burned; but how much more painful to inflict such suffering upon oneself!  Here was a man of no learning, not primed to face death and pain by any words of wisdom, and equipped only with the courage of a soldier, who punished himself for his fruitless daring; he stood and watched his own right hand falling away piecemeal on the enemy's brazier, nor did he withdraw the dissolving limb, with its uncovered bones, until his foe removed the fire.  He might have accomplished something more successful in that camp, but never anything more brave.  See how keener a brave man is to lay hold of danger than a cruel man is to inflict it:  Porsenna was more ready to pardon Mucius for wishing to slay him than Mucius to pardon himself for failing to slay Porsenna!

       "Oh,” say you, "those stories have been droned to death in all the schools; pretty soon, when you reach the topic 'On Despising Death,' you will be telling me about Cato."  But why should I not tell you about Cato, how he read Plato's book on that last glorious night, with a sword laid at his pillow?  He had provided these two requisites for his last moments,-the first, that he might have the will to die, and the second, that he might have the means.  So he put his affairs in order,- as well as one could put in order that which was ruined and near its end, -and thought that he ought to see to it that no one should have the power to slay or the good fortune to save Cato.  Drawing the sword,-which he had kept unstained from all bloodshed against the final day,- he cried : "Fortune, you have accomplished nothing by resisting all my endeavours.  I have fought, till now, for my country's freedom, and not for my own;   I did not strive so doggedly to be free, but only to live among the free. Now, since the affairs of mankind are beyond hope, let Cato be withdrawn to safety."  So saying, he inflicted a mortal wound upon his body.  After the physicians had bound it up, Cato had less blood and less strength, but no less courage; angered now not only at Caesar but also at himself, he rallied his unarmed hands against his wound, and expelled, rather than dismissed, that noble soul which had been so defiant of all worldly power.

       I am not now heaping up these illustrations for the purpose of exercising my wit, but for the purpose of encouraging you to face that which is thought to be most terrible.  And I shall encourage you all the more easily by showing that not only resolute men have despised that moment when the soul breaths its last, but that certain persons, who were craven in other respects, have quelled in this regard the courage of the bravest.  Take, for example, Scipio, the father-in-law of Gnaeus Pompeius : he was driven back upon the African coast by a head-wind and saw his ship in the power of the enemy.  He therefore pierced his body with a sword; and when they asked where the commander was, he replied: "All is well with the commander."  These words brought him up to the level of his ancestors and suffered not the glory with fate gave to the Scorpios in Africa to lose its continuity.  It was a great deed to conquer Carthage, but a greater deed to conquer death.  "All is well with the commander!"  Ought a general to die otherwise, especially one of Cato's generals?  I shall not refer you to history, or collect examples of those men who throughout the ages have despised death; for they are very many.  Consider these times of ours, whose enervation and over refinement call forth our complaints; they never the less will include men of ever rank, of every lot in life, and of every age, who have cut short their misfortunes by death.

       Believe me, Lucilius; death is so little to be feared that through its good  offices nothing is to be feared.  Therefore, when your enemy threatens, listen unconcernedly.  Although your conscience makes you confident, yet, since many things have weight which are outside your case, both hope for that which is utterly just, and prepare yourself against that which is utterly unjust.  Remember, however, before all else, to strip things of all that disturbs and confuses, and to see what each is at bottom; you will then comprehend that they contain nothing fearful except the actual fear.  What you see happening to boys happens also to ourselves, who are only slightly bigger boys:  when those whom they love, with whom they daily associate, with whom  they play, appear with masks on, the boys are frightened out of their wits.  We should strip the mask, not only from men, but from things, and restore to each object its own aspect.

       "Why dost thou hold up before my eyes swords, fires, and a throng of executioners raging about thee?  Take away all that vain show, behind which thou lurkest and scarest fools!  Ah!  Thou art naught but Death, whom only yesterday a manservant of mine and a maid-servant did despise!  Why dost  thou  again unfold and spread before me, with all that great display, the whip and the rack?  Why are those engines of torture made ready, one for each several member of the body, and all the other innumerable machines for tearing a man apart piecemeal?  Away with all such stuff, which makes us numb with terror!  And thou, silence the groans, the cries, and the bitter shrieks ground out of the victim as he is torn on the rack!  Forsooth thou are naught but Pain, scorned by yonder gout-ridden wretch, endured by yonder dyspeptic in the midst  of his dainties, borne bravely by the girl in travail.  Slight thou art, if I can bear thee; short thou art if I cannot bear thee!"

       Ponder these words which you have often heard and often uttered.  Moreover, prove by the result whether that which you have heard and uttered is true.  For there is a very disgraceful charge often brought against our school,-that we deal with the words, and not with the deeds, of philosophy. 

       What, have you only at this moment learned that death is hanging over your head, at this moment exile, at this moment grief?  You were born to these perils.  Let us think of everything that can happen as something which will happen.  I know that you have really done what I advise you to do; I now warn you not to drown your soul in these petty anxieties of yours; if you do, the soul in these petty anxieties of yours; if you do, the soul will be dulled and will have too little vigour left when the time comes for it to arise.  Remove the mind from this case of yours to the case of men in general.  Say to yourself that our petty bodies are mortal and frail; pain can reach them from other sources than from wrong or the might of the stronger.  Our pleasures themselves become torments; banquets bring indigestion, carousals paralysis of the muscles and palsy, sensual habits affect the feet, the hands, and every joint of the body.

       I may become a poor man; I shall then be one among many.  I may be exiled; I shall then regard myself as born in the place to which I shall be sent.  They may put me in chains.  What then?  Am I free from bonds now?  Behold this clogging burden of a body, to which nature has fettered me!  "I shall die,"  you say, you mean  to say; "I shall cease to run the risk of sickness; I shall cease to run the risk of imprisonment; I shall cease to run the risk of death."  I am not so foolish as to go through at this juncture the arguments which Epicurus harps upon, and say that the terrors of the world below are idle,-that Ixion does not whirl round on his wheel, that Sisyphus does not shoulder his stone uphill, that a man's entrails cannot be restored and devoured everyday; no one is so childish as to fear  Cerberus, or the shadows, or the spectral garb of those who are held together by naught but their unfleshed bones.  Death either annihilates us or strips us bare.  If we are then released, there remains the better part, after the burden has been withdrawn; if we are annihilated, nothing remains; good and bad are alike removed.

       Allow me at this point to quote a verse of yours, first suggesting that, when you wrote it, you meant it for yourself no less than for others.  It is ignoble to say one thing and mean another; and how much more ignoble to write one thing and mean another!  I remember one day you were handling the well-known commonplace,-that we do not suddenly fall on death, but advance towards it by slight degrees; we die every day.  For ever day a little of our life is taken from us; even when we are growing; our life is on the wane.  We lose our childhood, then our boyhood, and then our youth.  Counting even yesterday, all past time is lost time; the very day which we are now spending is shared between ourselves and death.  It is not the last drop that empties the water-clock, but all that which previously has flowed out; similarly, the final hour when we cease to exist does not of itself bring death; it merely of itself completes the death-process.  We reach death at that moment, but we have been a long time on the way.  In describing this situation, you said in your customary style (for you are always impressive, but near more pungent than when you are putting the truth in appropriate 4 words):   "Not single is the death which comes; the death.  Which takes us off is but the last of all."   I prefer that you should read your own words rather than my letter; for then it will be clear to you that this death, of which we are afraid, is the last but not the only death.

       I see what you are looking for; you are asking what I have packed into my letter, what inspiriting saying from some master-mind, what useful precept.  So I shall send you something dealing with this very subject which has been under discussion.  Epicurus upbraids those who crave, as much as those who shrink from, death: "It is absurd,” he says, "to run towards death because you are tired of life, when it is your manner of life that has made you run towards death."  And in another passage:  "What is so absurd as to seek death, when it is through fear of death that you have robbed your life of peace?"  And you may add a third statement, of the same stamp:  "Men are so thoughtless, nay, so mad, that some, through fear of death, force themselves to die."

       Whichever of these ideas you ponder, you will strengthen your mind for the endurance alike of death and of life.  For we need to be warned and strengthened in both directions,-not to love or to hate life overmuch; even when reason advises us to make an end of it, the impulse is not to be adopted without reflection or  at headlong speed.  The brave and wise man should not beat a hasty retreat from life; he should make a becoming exit.  And above all, he should avoid the weakness which has taken possession of so many,-the lust of death.  For just as there is an unreflecting tendency of the mind towards other things, so, my dear Lucilius, there is an unreflecting tendency towards death; this often seizes upon the noblest and most spirited men, as well as upon the craven and the abject.  The former despise life; the latter find it irksome.

       Others also are moved by satiety of doing and seeing the same things, and not so much by a hatred of life as because they are cloyed with it.  We slip into this condition, while philosophy itself pushes us on, and we say: "How long must I endure the same things?  Shall I continue to wake and sleep, be hungry and be cloyed, shiver and perspire?  There is an end to nothing; all things are connected in a sort of circle; they flee and they are pursued.  Night is close at the heels of day, day at the heels of night; summer ends in autumn, winter rushes after autumn, and winder softens into spring; all nature in this way passes, only to return.  I do nothing new; I see nothing new; sooner or later one sickens of this, also."  There are many who thing that living is not painful, but superfluous.  Farewell.

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On Siren Songs

       Now I recognize my Lucilius!  He is beginning to reveal the character of which he gave promise.  Follow up the impulse which prompted you to make for all that is best, treading under your feet that which is approved by the crowd.  I would not have you greater or better than you planned; for in your case the mere foundations have covered a large extent of ground; only finish all that you have laid out, and take in hand the plans which you have had in mind.  In short, you will be a wise man, if you stop up your ears; nor is it enough to close them with wax; you need a denser stopple than that which they say Ulysses used for his comrades.  The song which he feared was alluring, but came not from every side; the song, however, which you have to fear, echoes round you not from a single headland, but from every quarter of the world.  Sail, therefore, not past one region which you mistrust because of its treacherous delights, but past every city.  Be deaf to those who love you most of all; they pray for bad things with good intentions.  And, if you would be happy, entreat the gods that none of their fond desires for you may be brought to pass.  What they wish to have heaped upon you are not really good things; there is only one good, the cause and the support of a happy life,-trust in oneself.  But this cannot be attained, unless one had learned to despise toil and to reckon it among the things which are neither good nor bad.  For it is not possible that a single thing should be bad at one time and good at another, at times light and to be endured, and at times a cause of dread.  Work is not a good.  Then what is a good?  I say the scorning of work.  That is why I should rebuke men who toil to no purpose.  But when, on the other hand, a man is struggling towards honourable things, in proportion as he applies himself more and more, and allows himself  less and less to be beaten or to halt, I shall recommend his conduct and shout my encouragement, saying: "By so much you are better!  Rise, draw a fresh breath, and surmount that hill, if possible, at a single spurt!"

       Work is the sustenance of noble minds.  There is, then, no reason why, in accordance with that old vow of your parents, you should pick and choose what fortune you wish should fall to your lot, or what you should pray for; besides, it is base for a man who has already travelled the whole round of highest honours to be still importuning the gods.  What need is there of vows?  Make yourself happy through your own efforts; you can do this, if once you comprehend that whatever is joined to vice is bad.  Just as nothing gleams if it has no light blended with it, and nothing is black unless it contains darkness or draws to itself something of dimness, and as nothing is hot without the aid of fire, and nothing is cold without air; so it is the association of virtue and vice that makes things honourable or base.

       What then is good?  The knowledge of things.  What is evil?  The lack of knowledge of things.  Your wise man, who is also a craftsman, will reject or choose in each case as it suits the occasion; but he does not fear that which he rejects, nor does he admire that which he chooses, if only he has a stout and unconquerable soul.  I forbid you to be cast down or depressed.  It is not enough if you do not shrink from work; ask for it.  "But," you say, "is not trifling and superfluous work and work that has been inspired by ignoble causes, as bad sort of work?"  No; no more than that which is expected upon noble endeavours, since the very quality that endures toil and rouses itself to hard and uphill effort, is of the spirit, which says: "Why do you grow slack?  It is not the part of a man to fear sweat."  And besides this, in order that virtue may be perfect, there should be and even temperament and a scheme of life that is consistent with itself throughout; and this result cannot be attained without knowledge of things, and without the art which enables us to understand things human and things divine.  That is the greatest good.  If you seize this good, you begin to be the associate of the gods, and not their suppliant.

       "But how," you ask, "does one attain that goal?"  You do not need to cross the Pennine or Graian hills, or traverse the Candavian waste, or face the Syrtes, or Scylla, or Charybdis, although you have travelled through all these places for the bribe of a petty governorship; the journey for which nature has equipped you is safe and pleasant.  She has given you such gifts that you may, if you do not prove false to them, rise level with God.  Your money, however, will not place you on a level with God; for God has no property.  Your bordered robe will not do this; for God is not clad in raiment; nor knowledge of your name wide-spread throughout the world; for no one has knowledge of God; many even hold him in low esteem, and do not suffer for so doing.  The throng of slaves which carries your litter along the city streets and in foreign places will not help you; for this God of whom I speak, though the highest and most powerful of beings, carries all things on his own shoulders.  Neither can beauty or strength make you blessed; for none of these qualities can withstand old age.

       What we have to seek for, then is that which does not each day pass more and more under the control of some power which cannot be withstood.  And what is this?  It is the soul,-but the soul that is upright, good, and great.  What else could you call such a soul than a god dwelling as a guest in a human body?  A soul like this may descend into a Roman knight just as well as into a freedman's son or a slave.  For what is a Roman knight, or a freedman's son, or a slave?  They are mere titles, born of ambition or of wrong.  One may leap to heaven from the very slums.  Only rise " And mould thyself to kinship with thy God."  This moulding will not be done in gold or silver; an image that is to be in the likeness of God cannot be fashioned of such materials; remember that the gods, when they were kind unto men, were moulded in clay.  Farewell.

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On the Friendship of Kindred Minds

    When I urge you so strongly to your studies, it is my own interest which I am consulting; I want your friendship, and it cannot fall to my lot unless you proceed, as you have begun, with the task of developing yourself.  For now, although you love me, you are not yet my friend.  "But," you reply, "Are these words of different meaning?"  Nay, more, they are totally unlike in meaning.  A friend loves you, of course; but one who loves you is not in every case your friend.  Friendship, accordingly, is always helpful, but love sometimes even does harm, Try to perfect yourself, if for no other reason, in order that you may learn how to love.

    Hasten, therefore, in order that, while thus perfecting yourself for my benefit, you may not have learned perfection for the benefit of another.  To be sure, I am already deriving some profit by imagining that we two shall be of one mind, and that whatever portion of my strength has yielded to age will return to me from your strength, although there is not so very much difference in our ages.  But yet I wish to rejoice in the accomplished fact.  We feel a joy over those whom we love, even when separated from them, but such a joy is light and fleeting; the sight of a man, and his presence, and communion with him, afford something of living pleasure; this is true, at any rate, if one not only sees the man one desires, but the sort of man one desires. 

    Give yourself to me, therefore, as a gift of great price, and, that you may strive the more, reflect that you yourself are mortal, and that I am old.  Hasten to find me, but hasten to find yourself first.  Make progress, and, before all else, endeavour to be consistent with yourself.  And when you would find out whether you have accomplished anything, consider whether you desire the same things to-day that you desired yesterday.  A shifting of the will indicates that the mind is at sea, heading in various directions, according to the course of the wind.  But that which is settled and solid does not wander from its place.  This is the blessed lot of the completely wise man, and also, to a certain extent, of him who is progressing and has made some headway.  Now what is the difference between these two classes of men?  The one is in motion, to be sure, but does not change its position; it merely tosses up and down where it is; the other is not in motion at all.  Farewell.


On Allegiance to Virtue
 
    You have promised to be a good man; you have enlisted under oath; that is the strongest chain which will hold you to a strongest understanding.  Any man will be but mocking you, if he declares that this is an effeminate and easy kind of soldiering.  I will not have you deceived.  The words of this most honourable compact are the same as the words of that most disgraceful one, to wit:  "through burning, imprisonment, or death by the sword.  From the men who hire out their strength for the arena, who eat and drink what they must pay for with their blood, security is taken that they will endure such trials even though they be unwilling; from you, that you will endure them willingly and with alacrity.  The gladiator may lower his weapon and test the pity of the people; but you will neither lower your weapon nor beg for life.  You must die erect and unyielding.  Moreover, what profit is it to gain a few days or a few years?  There is no discharge for us from the moment we are born.

  "Then how can I free myself?"  You ask.  You cannot escape necessities, but you can overcome them.  By force a way is made.

   And this way will be afforded you by philosophy.  Betake yourself therefore to philosophy is you would be save, untroubled, happy, in fine, if you wish to be, -and that is most important,-free.  There is no other way to attain this end.  Folly is low, abject, mean, slavish, and exposed to many of the cruellest passions.  The passions, which are heavy task-masters, sometimes ruling by turns, and sometimes together, can be banished from you by wisdom, which is the only real freedom.  There is but one path leading there, and it is a straight path; you will not go astray.  Proceed with steady step, and if you would have all things under your control, put yourself under the control of reason; if reason becomes your ruler, you will become ruler over many.  You will earn from her what you should undertake, and how it should be done; you will not blunder into things. You can show me no man who knows how he began to crave that which he craves.  He has not been led to that pass by forethought; he has been driven to it by impulse.  Fortune attacks us as often as we attack Fortune.  It is disgraceful, instead of proceeding ahead, to be carried along, and then suddenly, amid the whirlpool of events, to ask in a dazed way:  "How did I get into this condition?"  Farewell. 

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On the God within Us

   You are doing an excellent thing, one which will be wholesome for you, if, as you write me, you are persisting in your effort to attain sound understanding; it is foolish to pray for this when you can acquire it from yourself.  We do not need to uplift our hands towards heaven, or to beg the keeper of a temple to let us approach his idol's ear, as if in this way our prayers were more likely to be heard.  God is near you, he is with you, he is within you.  This is what I mean, Lucilius:  a holy spirit indwells within us, one who marks our good and bad deeds, and is our guardian.  As we treat this spirit, so are we treated by it!  Indeed, no man can be good without the help of God.  Can one rise superior to fortune unless God helps him to rise?  He it is that gives noble and upright counsel.  In each good man "a god doth dwell, but what god know we not."

   If ever you have come upon a grove that is full of ancient trees which have grown to an unusual height, shutting out a view of the sky by a veil of bleached and intertwining branches, then the loftiness of the forest, the seclusion of the spot, and your marvel at the thick unbroken shade in the midst of the open spaces, will prove to you the presence of deity.  Or if a cave, made by the deep crumbling of the rocks, holds up a mountain on its arch a place not built with hands but hollowed out into such spaciousness by natural causes, your soul will be deeply moved by a certain intimation of the existence of God.  We worship the sources of mighty rivers; we erect altars a place where great streams burst suddenly from hidden sources; we adore springs of hot water as divine, and consecrate certain pools because of their dark waters or their immeasurable depth.  If you see a man who is un-terrified in the midst of dangers, untouched by desires, happy in adversity, peaceful amid the storm, who looks down upon men from a higher plane, and views the gods on a footing of equality, will not a feeling of reverence for him steal over you?  Will you not say:  "This quality is too great and too lofty to be regarded as resembling this petty body in which it dwells?  A divine power has descended upon that man."  When a soul rises superior to other souls, when it is under control, when it passes through every experience as if it were of small account, when it smiles at our fears and at our prayers, it is stirred by a force from heaven.  A thing like this cannot stand upright unless it be propped by the divine.  Therefore, a greater part of it abides in that place from whence it came down to earth.  Just as the rays of the sun do indeed touch the earth, but still abide at the source from which they are sent,; even so the great and hallowed soul, which has come down in order that we may have a nearer knowledge of divinity, does indeed associate with us, but still cleaves to its origin; on that source it depends, thither it turns its gaze and strives to go, and it concerns itself with our doings only as a being superior to ourselves.

   What, then, is such a soul?  One which is resplendent with no external good, but only with its own.  For what is more foolish than to praise in a man the qualities which come from without?  And what is more insane than to marvel at characteristics which may at the next instant be passed on to someone else?  A golden bit does not make a better horse.  The lion with gilded mane, in process of being trained and forced by weariness to endure the decoration, is sent into the arena in quite a different way from the wild lion whose spirit is unbroken, the latter, indeed, bold in his attack, as nature wished him to be, impressive because of his wild appearance,--and it is his glory that none can look upon him without fear,--is favoured in preference to the other lion, that languid and gilded brute.

   No man ought to glory except in that which is his own.  We praise a vine if it makes the shoots teem with increase, if by its weight it bends to the ground the very poles which hold its fruit, would any man prefer to this vine one from which golden grapes and golden leaves hang down?  In a vine the virtue peculiarly its own is fertility; in man also we should praise that which is his own.  Suppose that he has a retinue of comely slaves and a beautiful house, that his farm is large and large his income; none of these things is in the man himself; they are all on the outside.  Praise the quality in him which cannot be given or snatched away, that which is the peculiar property of the man.  Do you ask what this is?  It is soul, and reason brought to perfection in the soul.  For man is a reasoning animal.  Therefore, man's highest good is attained, if he has fulfilled the good for which nature designed him at birth.  And what is it which this reason demands of him?  The easiest thing in the world, --to live in accordance with his own nature.  But this is turned into a hard task by the general madness of mankind; we push one another into vice.  And how can a man be recalled to salvation, when he has none to restrain him, and all mankind to urge him on?  Farewell.


On Choosing Our Teachers

        What is this force, Lucilius, that drags us in one direction when we are aiming in another, urging us on to the exact place from which we long to withdraw?  What is it that wrestles with our spirit, and does not allow us to desire anything once for all?  We veer from plan to plan.  None of our wishes is free, none is unqualified, and none is lasting.  "But it is the fool," you say, "who is inconsistent; nothing suits him for long."  But how or when can we tear ourselves away from this folly?  No man by himself has sufficient strength to rise above it; he needs a helping hand, and someone to extricate him.

   Epicurus remarks that certain men have worked their way to the truth without anyone's assistance, carving out their own passage.  And he gives special praise to these, for their impulse has come from within, and they have forged to the front by themselves.  Again, he says, there are others who need outside help, who will not proceed unless someone leads the way, but who will follow faithfully.  Of these, he says, Metrodorus was one; this type of man is also excellent, but belongs to the second grade.  We ourselves are not of that first class, either; we shall be well treated if we are admitted into the second.  Nor need you despise a man who can gain salvation only with the assistance of another; the will to be saved means a great deal, too.

   You will find still another class of man,--and a class not to be despised,--who can be forced and driven into righteousness, who do not need a guide as much as they require someone to encourage and, as it were, to force them along.  This is the third variety.  If you ask me for a man of this pattern also, Epicurus tells us that Hermarchus was such.  And of the two last-named classes, he is more ready to congratulate the one, but he feels more respect for the other; for although both have reached the same goal, it is a greater credit to have brought about the same result with the more difficult material upon which to work.

   Suppose that two buildings have been erected, unlike as to their foundations, but equal in height and in grandeur.  One is built on faultless ground, and the process of erection goes right ahead.  In the other case, the foundations have exhausted the building materials, for they have been sunk into soft and shifting ground and much labour has been wasted in reaching the solid rock.  As one looks at both of them, one sees clearly what progress the former has made, but the larger and more difficult part of the latter is hidden.  So with men's dispositions; some are pliable and easy to manage, but others have to be laboriously wrought out by hand, so to speak, and are wholly employed in the making of their own foundations.  I should accordingly deem more fortunate the man who has never had any trouble with himself; but the other, I feel, has deserved better of him, who has won a victory over the meanness of his own nature, and has not gently led himself, but has wrestled his way, to wisdom.

   You may be sure that this refractory nature, which demands much toil, has been implanted in us.  There are obstacles in our path; so let us fight, and call to our assistance some helpers.  "Whom," you say, "shall I call upon?  Shall it be this man or that?"  There is another choice also open to you; you may go to the ancients; for they have the time to help you.  We can get assistance not only from the living, but from those of the past.  Let us choose, however, from among the living, not men who pour forth their words with the greatest glibness, turning out commonplaces, and holding, as it were, their own little private exhibitions,--not these, I say, but men who teach us by their lives, men who tell us what we ought to do and then prove it by practice, who show us what we should avoid, and then are never caught doing that which they have ordered us to avoid.

   Choose as a guide one whom you will admire more when you see him act than when you hear him speak.  Of course I would not prevent you from listening also to those philosophers who are wont to hold public meetings and discussions, provided they appear before the people for the express purpose of improving themselves and others, and do not practise their profession for the sake of self-seeking.  For what is baser than philosophy courting applause?  Does the sick man praise the surgeon while he is operating?  In silence and with reverent awe submit to the cure.  Even though you cry applause, I shall listen to your cries as if you were groaning when your sores were touched.  Do you wish to bear witness that you are attentive, that you are stirred by the grandeur of the subject'  You may do this at the proper time; I shall of course allow you to pass judgment and cast a vote as to the better course.  Pythagoras made his pupils keep silence for five years; do you think that they had the right on that account to break out immediately into applause?

   How mad is he who leaves the lecture-room in a happy frame of mind simply because of applause from the ignorant!  Why do you take pleasure in being praised by men whom you yourself cannot praise?  Febianus used to give popular talks, but his audience listened with self-control.  Occasionally a loud shout of praise would burst forth, but it was prompted by the greatness of his subject, and not by the sound of oratory that slipped forth pleasantly and softly.  There should be a difference between the applause of the theatre and the applause of the school; and there is a certain decency even in bestowing praise.  If you mark them carefully, all acts are always significant, and you can gauge character by even the most trifling signs.  The lecherous man is revealed by his gait, by a movement of the hand, sometimes by a single answer, by his touching his head with a finger, by the shifting of his eye.  The scamp is shown up by his laugh; the madman by his face and general appearance.  These qualities become known by certain marks; but you can tell the character of every man when you see how he gives and receives praise.  The philosopher's audience, from this corner and that, stretch forth admiring hands, and sometimes the adoring crowd almost hang over the lecturer's head.  But, if you really understand, that is not praise; it is merely applause.  These outcries should be left for the arts which aim to please the crowd; let philosophy be worshipped in silence.  Young men, indeed, must sometimes have free play to follow their impulses, but it should only be at times when they act from impulse, and when they cannot force themselves to be silent.  Such praise as that gives a certain kind of encouragement to the hearers themselves, and acts as a spur to the youthful mind.  But let them be roused to the matter, and not to the style; otherwise, eloquence does them harm, making them enamoured of itself, and not of the subject.

   I shall postpone this topic for the present; it demands a long and special investigation, to show how the public should be addressed, what indulgences should be allowed to a speaker on a public occasion, and what should be allowed to the crowd itself in the presence of the speaker.  There can be no doubt that philosophy6 has suffered a loss, now that she has exposed her charms for sale.  But she can still be viewed in her sanctuary, if her exhibitor is a priest and not a peddler.  Farewell.

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On Asthma and Death

    My ill-health had allowed me a long furlough, when suddenly it resumed the attack.  "When kind of ill-health?"  You say.  And you surely have a right to ask; for it is true that no kind is unknown to me.  But I have been consigned, so to speak, to one special ailment.  I do not know why I should call it by its Greek name; for it is well enough described as "shortness of breath."  Its attack is of very brief duration, like that of a squall at sea; it usually ends within an hour. Who indeed could breathe his last for long?  I have passed through all the ills and dangers of the flesh; but nothing seems to me more troublesome than this.  And naturally so; for anything else may be called illness; but this is a sort of continued "last gasp."  Hence physicians call it "practicing how to die."  For some day the breath will succeed in doing what it has so often essayed.  Do you think I am writing this letter in a merry spirit, just because I have escaped?  It would be absurd to take delight in such supposed restoration to health, as it would be for a defendant to imagine that the has won his case when he had succeeded in postponing his trial.  Yet in the midst of my difficult breathing I never ceased to rest secure in cheerful and brave thoughts.

    "What?"  I say to myself; "does death so often test me?  Let it do so; I myself have for a long time tested death."  "When?"  you ask.  Before I was born.  Death is non-existence, and I know already what that means.  What was before me will happen again after me.  If there is any suffering in this state, there must have been such suffering also in the past, before we entered the light of day.  As a matter of fact, however, we felt no discomfort then.  And I ask you, would you not say that one was the greatest of fools who believed that a lamp was worse off when it was extinguished than before it was lighted?  We mortals also are lighted and extinguished; the period of suffering comes in between, but on either side there is a deep peace.  For, unless I am very much mistaken, my dear Lucilius, we go astray in thinking that death o9nly follows, when in reality it has both preceded us and will in turn follow us.  Whatever condition existed before our birth, is death.  For what does it matter whether you do not begin at all, or whether you leave off, inasmuch as the result of both these status is non-existence?

    I have never ceased to encourage myself with cheering counsel of this kind, silently, of course, since I had not the power to speak; reduced to a sort of panting, came on at greater intervals, and then slowed down and finally stopped.  Even by this time, although the gasping has ceased, the breath does not come and go normally; I still feel a sort of hesitation and delay in breathing.  Let it be as it pleases, provided there be no sigh from the soul.  Accept this assurance from me:  I shall never be frightened when the last hour comes; I am already prepared and do not plan a whole day ahead.  But do you praise and imitate the man whom it does not irk to die, though he takes pleasure in living.  For what virtue is there in going away when you are thrust out?  And yet there is virtue even in this:  I am indeed thrust out, but it is as if I were going away willingly.  For that reason the wise man can never be thrust out, because that would mean removal from a place which he unwilling to leave; and the wise man does nothing unwillingly.  He escapes necessity, because he wills to do what necessity is about to force upon him.  Farewell



On Grief for Lost Friends


     I am grieved to hear that your friend Flaccus is dead, but I would not have you sorrow more than is fitting.  That you should not mourn at all I shall hardly dare to insist; and yet I know that it is the better way.  But what man will ever be so blessed with that ideal steadfastness of soul, unless he has already risen far above the reach of Fortune?  Even such a man will be stung by an even like thins, but it will be only a sting.  We, however , may be forgiven for bursting into tears, if only our tears have not flowed to excess, and if we have checked them by our own efforts.  Let not the eyes be dry when we have lost a friend, nor let them overflow.  We may weep, but we must not wail.

    Do you think that the law which I lay down for you is harsh, when the greatest of Greek poets has extended the privilege of weeping to one day only, in the lines where he tells us that even Nioble took though of food?  Do you wish to know the reason for lamentations and excessive weeping?  It is because we seek the proofs of our bereavement in our tears, and do not give way to sorrow, but merely parade it.  No man goes into mourning for his own sake.  Shame on our ill-timed folly!  There is an element of self-seeking even in our sorrow.

    "What," you say," am I to forget my friend?"  It is surely a short-lived memory that you vouchsafe to him, if it is to endure only as long as your grief; presently that brow of yours will be smoothed out in laughter by some circumstance, however casual.  It is to a time no more distant than this that I put off the soothing of every regret, the quitting of even the bitterest grief.  As soon as you cease to observe yourself, the picture of sorrow which you have contemplated will fade any away; at present you are keeping watch over your own suffering.  But even while you deep watch it slips away from you, and the sharper it is, the more speedily it comes to an end.

    Let us see to it that the recollection of those whom we have lost becomes a pleasant memory to us.  No man reverts with pleasure to any subject which he will not be able to reflect upon without pain.  So too it cannot but be that the names of those whom we have loved and lost come back to us with a sort of string; but there is a pleasure even in this sting.  For, as my friend Attalus used to say: "The remembrance of lost friends is pleasant in the same way that certain fruits have an agreeably acid taste, or as in extremely old wines it is their very bitterness that pleases us.  Indeed, after a certain lapse of time, every though that gave pain is quenched, and the pleasure comes to us unalloyed."  If we take the word of Attalus for it, "to think of friends who are alive and well is like enjoying a meal of cakes and honey; the recollection of friends who have passed away gives a pleasure that is not without a touch of bitterness.  Yet who will deny that even these things, which are bitter and contain an element of sourness, do serve to arouse the stomach?"  For my part, I do not agree with him.  To me, the though of my dead friends is sweet and appealing.  For I have had them as if I should one day lose them; I have lost them as if I have them still.

    Therefore, Lucilius, act as befits your own serenity of mind, and cease to put a wrong interpretation on the gifts of Fortune.  Fortune has taken away, but Fortune has given.   Let us greedily enjoy our friends, because we do not know how long this privilege will be ours.  Let us think how often we shall leave them when we go upon distant journeys, and how often we shall fall to see them when we tarry together in the same place; we shall thus understand that we have lost too much of their time while they are alive.  But will you tolerate men who are most careless of their friends, and then mourn them most abjectly, and do not love anyone unless they have lost him?  The reason why they lament too unrestrainedly at such times it that they are afraid lest men doubt whether they really have loved; all too late they seek for proofs of their emotions.  If we have other friends, we surely deserve ill at their hands and think ill of them, if they are of so little account that they fail to console us for the loss of one.  If, on the other hand, we have no other friends, we have injured ourselves more than Fortune has injured us; since Fortune has robbed us for one friend, but we have robbed ourselves of ever friend whom we have failed to make.  Again, he who has been unable to love more than one has had none too much love even for that one.  If a man who has lost his one and only tunic through robbery chooses to bewail his plight rather than look about him for some way to escape the cold, or for something with which to cover his shoulders, would you not think him an utter fool?

    You have buried one whom you loved; look about for someone to love.  It is better to replace your friend than to weep for him.  What I am about to add is, I know, a very hackneyed remark, but I shall not omit it simply because it is a common phrase:  A man ends his grief by the mere passing of time, even if he has not ended it of his own accord.  But, the most shameful cure for sorrow, in the case of a sensible man, is to grow weary of sorrowing.  I should prefer you to abandon grief, rather than have grief abandon you; and you should stop grieving s soon as possible, since, even if you wish to do so, it is impossible to keep it up for a long time.  Our forefathers have enacted that, in the case of women, a needed to mourn for so long,   In the case of men, no rules are laid down, because to mourn at all is not regarded as honourable.  For all that, what women can you show me, of all the pathetic females that could scarcely be dragged away from the funeral-pile or torn from the corpse, whose tears have lasted a whole month?  Nothing becomes offensive so quickly as grief; when fresh, it finds someone to console it and attracts one or another to itself; but after becoming chronic, it is ridiculed, and rightly.  For it is either assumed or foolish.

    He who writes these words to you is no other than I, who wept so excessively for my dear friend Annaeus Serenus that, in spite of my wishes, I must be included among the examples of men who have been overcome by grief.  To-day, however, I condemn this act of mine, and I understand that the reason why I lamented so greatly was chiefly that I had never imagined it possible for his death to precede mine.  The only thought which occurred to my mind was that he was the younger, and much younger, too,-as if the Fates kept to the order of our ages!

    Therefore let us continually think as much about our own mortality as about that of all those we love.  In former days I ought to have said:  "My friend Serenus is younger than I; but what does that matter?  He would naturally die after me, but he may precede me."  It was just because I did not do the sudden blow.  Now is the time for you to reflect, not only that all things are mortal, but also that their mortality is subject to no fixed law.  Whatever can happen at any time can happen to-day!  Let us therefore reflect, my beloved Lucilius, that we shall soon come to the goal which this friend, to our own sorrow, has reached.  And perhaps, if only the tale told by wise men is true and there is a Bourne to welcome us, then he whom we think we have lost has only been sent on ahead.  Farewell.

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On Rest and Restlessness

    I do not like to change headquarters and scurry about from place to another. My reasons are,-first, that such frequent flitting means an unsteady spirit. And the spirit cannot through retirement grow into unity unless it has ceased from its inquisitiveness and its wanderings. To be able to hold your spirit in check, you must first stop the runaway flight of the body. My second reason is that the remedies which are most helpful are those which are not interrupted. You should not allow your quiet, or the oblivion to which you have consigned your former life, to be broken into. Give your eyes time to learn what they have seen, and your ears to grow accustomed to more wholesome words. Whenever you stir abroad you will meet, even as you pass from one place to another, things that will bring back your old cravings.

    Just as he who tries to be rid of an old love must avoid every reminder of the person once held dear (for nothing grows so easily as love), similarly, he who would lay aside his desire for all the things which he used to crave  so passionately, must turn away both eyes and ears from the objects which he has abandoned. The emotions soon return to the attack; at every turn they will notice before their eyes an object worth their attention. There is no evil that does not offer inducements. Avarice promises money; luxury, a varied assortment of pleasures; ambition, a purple robe and applause, and the influence which results from applause, and all that influence can do. Vices tempt you by rewards which they offer; but in the life of which I speak, you must live without being paid. Scarcely will a whole life-time suffice to bring our vices into subjection and to make them accept the yoke, swollen as they are by long-continued indulgence; and still less, if we cut into our brief span by any interruptions. Even constant care and attention can scarcely bring any one undertaking to full completion.

    If you will give ear to my advice, ponder and practice this: - how to welcome death, or even, if circumstances commend that course, to invite it. There is no difference whether death comes to us, or whether we go to death. Make yourself believe that all ignorant men are wrong when they say: "It is a beautiful thing to die one's own death." But thee is no man who does not die his own death. What is more, you may reflect on this thought: No one dies except on his own day. You are throwing away none of your own time; for what you leave behind does not belong to you. Farewell.



On the Proper Time to Slip the Cable


      After a long space of time I have seen your beloved Pompeii. I was thus brought again face to face with the days of my youth. And it seemed to me that I could still do, nay, had only done a short time ago, all the things which I did there when a young man. We have sailed past life, Lucilius, as if we were on a voyage, and just as when at sea, to quote from our poet Vergil, “Land and towns are left astern,” even so, on this journey where time flies with the greatest speed, we put below the horizon first our boyhood and then our youth, and then the space which lies between young manhood and middle age and borders on both, and next, the best years of old age itself. Last of all, we begin to sight the general borne of the race of man. Fools that we are, we believe this borne to be a dangerous reef; but it is the harbour in his early years, he has no more right to complain than a sailor who has made a quick voyage. For some sailors, as you know, are tricked and held back by sluggish winds, and grow weary and sick of the slow-moving calm; while others are carried quickly home by steady gales.

    You may consider that the same thing happens to us: life has carried some men with the greatest rapidity to the harbour, the harbour they were bound to reach even if they tarried on the way, while others it has fretted and harassed. To such a life, as you are aware, one should not always cling. For mere living is not a good, but living well. Accordingly, the wise man will live as long as he ought, not as long as he can. He will mark in what place, with whom, and how he is to conduct his existence, and what he is about to do. He always reflects concerning the quality not the quantity, of his life. As soon as there are many events in his life that give him trouble and disturb his peace of mind, he sets himself free. And this privilege is his, not only when the crisis is upon him, but as soon as Fortune seems to be playing him false; then he looks about carefully and sees whether he ought, or ought not, to end his life on that account. He holds that it makes no difference to him whether his taking-off be natural or self-inflicted, whether it comes later or earlier. he does not regard it with fear, as if it were a great loss; for no man can lose very much when but a driblet remains. It is not a question of dying earlier or later, but of dying well or ill. And dying well means escape from the danger of living ill.

   That is why I regard the words of the well-known Rhodian as most unmanly. This person was thrown into a cage by his tyrant, and fed here like some wild animal. And when a certain man advised him to end his life by fasting, he replied; "A man may hope for anything while he has life." This may be true; but life is not to be purchased at any price. No matter how great or how well-assured certain rewards may be, I shall not strive to attain them at the price of a shameful confession of weakness. Shall I reflect that Fortune has all power over one who lives, rather than reflect that she has no power over one who knows how to die? There are times nevertheless, when a man, even though certain death impends and he knows that torture in store for him, will refrain from lending a hand to his own punishment; to himself, however, he would lend a hand. It is folly to die through fear of dying. The executioner is upon you; wait for him. Why anticipate him?  Why assume the management of a cruel task that belongs to another? Do you grudge your executioner his privilege, or do you merely relieve him of his task? Socrates might have ended his life by fasting; he might have died by starvation rather than poison. But instead of this he spent thirty days in prison awaiting death, not with the idea "everything may happen," or "so long an interval has room for many a hope" but in order that he might show himself submissive to the laws and make the last moments of Socrates an edification to his friends. What would have been more foolish than to scorn death, and yet fear poison?

    Scribonia, a woman of the stern old type, was an aunt of Drusus Libo. This young man was as stupid as he was well born, with higher ambitions than anyone could have been expected to entertain in that epoch, or a man like himself in any epoch at all.  When Libo had been carried away ill from the senate-house in his litter, though certainly with a very scanty train of followers,-for all his kinsfolk undutifully deserted him, when he was no longer a criminal but a corpse,-he began to consider whether he should commit suicide, or await for death. Scribonia said to him: "What pleasure do you find in doing another man's work?" But he did not follow her advice; he laid violent hands upon himself. And he was right, after all; for when a man is doomed to die in two or three days at his enemy's pleasure, he is really "doing another man's work" if he continues to live.

    No general statement can be made, therefore, with regard to the question whether, when a power beyond our control threatens us with death, we should anticipate death, or await it. For there are many arguments to pull us in either direction. If one death is accompanied by torture, and the other is simple and easy, why not snatch the latter? Just as I shall select my ship when I am about to go on a voyage, or my house when I propose to take a residence, so I shall choose death when I am about to depart from life. Moreover, just as a long-drawn-out life does not necessarily mean a better one, so a long-drawn-out death necessarily means a worse one. There is no occasion when the soul should be humoured more than at the moment of death. Let the soul depart as it feels itself impelled to go; whether it seeks the sword, or the halter, or some draught that attacks the veins, let it proceed and burst the bonds of its slavery. Every man ought to make his life acceptable to others besides himself alone. The best form of death is one we like. Men are foolish who reflect thus: "One person will say that my conduct was not brave enough; another, that I was too headstrong; a third that a particular kind of death would have betokened more spirit." What you should really reflect is: " I have under consideration a purpose with which the talk of men has no concern!" Your sole aim should be to escape from Fortune as speedily as possible; otherwise, there will be no lack of persons who will think ill of what you have done.

   You can find men who have gone so far as to profess wisdom and yet maintain that one should not offer violence to one's own life, and hold it accursed for a man to be the means of his own destruction; we should wait, say they, for the end decreed by nature. But one who says this does not see that he is shutting off the path to freedom. The best thing which eternal law ever ordained was that it allowed to us one entrance into life, but many exits. Must I await the cruelty either of disease or of man, when I can depart through the midst of torture, and shake off my troubles? This is the one reason why we cannot complain of life: it keeps no one against his will. Humanity is well situated, because no man is unhappy except by his own fault. Live, if you so desire; if not, you may return to the place whence you came. You have often been cupped in order to relieve headaches. You have had veins cut for the purpose of reducing your weight. If you would pierce your heart, a gaping wound is not necessary; a lancet will open the way to that great freedom, and tranquillity can be purchased at the cost of a pin-prick.

  What, then, is it which makes us lazy and sluggish? None of us reflects that some day he must depart from his house of life; just so old tenants are kept from moving by fondness for a particular place and by custom, even in spite of ill-treatment. Would you be free from the restraint of your body? Live in it as if you were about to leave it. Keep thinking of the fact that some day you will be deprived of this tenure; then you will be braver against the necessity of departing. But how will a man take though of his own end, if he craves all things without end?  And yet there is nothing so essential for us to consider. For our training in other things is perhaps superfluous. Our souls have been made ready to meet poverty; but our riches have held out. We have armed ourselves to scorn pain; but we have had good fortune to possess sound and healthy bodies, and so have never been forced to put this virtue to the test. We have taught ourselves to endure bravely the loss of those we love; but Fortune has preserved to us all whom we loved. It is in this one matter only that the day will come which will require us to test our training.

   You need not think that none but great men have had the strength to burst the bonds of human servitude; you need not believe that this cannot be done except by a Cato,-Cato, who with his hand dragged forth the spirit which he had succeeded in freeing by the sword. Nay, men of the meanest lot in life have by a mighty impulse escaped to safety, and when they were not allowed to die at their own convenience, or to suit themselves in their choice of the instruments of death, they have snatched up whatever was lying ready to hand, and by sheer strength have turned objects which were by nature harmless into weapons of their own. For example, there was lately in a training-school for the wild-beast gladiators a German, who was making ready for the morning exhibition; he withdrew in order to relieve himself,-the only thing which he was allowed to do in secret and without the presence of a guard. While so engaged, he seized the stick of wood, tipped with a sponge, which was devoted to the vilest uses, and stuffed it, just as it was, down his throat; thus he blocked up his windpipe, and choked the breath from his body. That was truly to insult death! Yes, indeed; it was not a very elegant or becoming way to die; but was it more foolish than to be over-nice about dying? What a brave fellow! He surely deserved to be allowed to choose his fate! How bravely he would have wielded a sword! With what courage he would have hurled himself into the depths of the sea, or down a precipice! Cut off from resources on every hand, he yet found a way to furnish himself with death and with a weapon for death. Hence you can understand that nothing but the will need postpone death. Let each man judge the deed of this most zealous fellow as he likes, provided we agree on this point,-that the foulest death is preferable to the fairest slavery.

    Inasmuch as I began with an illustration taken from humble life, I shall keep on with that sort. For men will make greater demands upon themselves, if they see that death can be despised even by the most despised class of men. The Catos, the Scipios, and the others whose names we are wont to hear with admiration, we regard as beyond the sphere of imitation; but I shall now prove to you that the virtue of which I speak is found as frequently in the gladiators' training-school as among the leaders in a civil war. Lately a gladiator, who had been sent forth to the morning exhibition, was being conveyed in a cart along with the other prisoners; nodding as if he were heavy with sleep, he let his head fall over so far that it was caught in the spokes; then he kept his body in position long enough to break his neck by the revolution of the wheel. So he made his escape by means of the very wagon which was carrying him to his punishment.

   When a man desires to burst forth and take his departure, nothing stands in his way. It is an open space in which Nature guards us. When our plight is such as to permit it, we may look about us for an easy exit. If you have many opportunities ready to hand, by means of which you may liberate yourself, you may make a selection and think over the best way of gaining freedom; but if a chance is hard to find, instead of the best, snatch the next best, even though it be something unheard of, something new. If you do not lack the courage, you will not lack the cleverness, to die. See how even the lowest class of slave, when suffering goads him on, is aroused and discovers a way to deceive even the most watchful guards! He is truly great who not only has given himself the order to die, but has also found the means.

   I have promised you, however, some more illustration drawn from the same games. During the second event in a sham sea-flight one of the barbarians sank deep into his own throat a spear which had been given him use against his foe. "Why, oh why," he said, "have I not long ago escaped from all this torture and all this mockery? Why should I be armed and yet wait for death to come?" This exhibition was all the more striking because of the lesson men learn from it that dying is more honourable than killing.

   What, then? If such a spirit is possessed by abandoned and dangerous men, shall it not be possessed also by those who have trained themselves to meet such contingencies by long meditation, and by reason, the mistress of all things? It is reason which teaches us that fate has various ways of approach, but the same end, and that it makes no difference at what point the inevitable event begins. Reason, too, advises us to die, if we may, according to our taste; if this cannot be, she advises us to die according to our ability, and to seize upon whatever means shall offer itself for doing violence to ourselves. It is criminal to "love by robbery"; but, on the other hand, it is most noble to "die by robbery." Farewell.
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On Virtue as a Refuge from Worldly Distractions


        Your letter has given me pleasure, and has roused me from sluggishness.  It has also prompted my memory, which has been for some time slack and nerveless.

        You are right, of course, my dear Lucilius, in deeming the chief means of attaining the happy life to consist in the belief that the only good lies in that which is honourable.  For anyone who deems other things to be good, puts himself in the power of Fortune, and goes under the control of another; but he who has in every case defined the good by the honourable, is happy with an inward happiness.

        One man is saddened when his children die; another is anxious when they become ill; a third is embittered when they do something disgraceful, or suffer a taint in their reputation.  One man, you will observe, is tortured by passion for his neighbour’s wife, another by passion for his own.  You will find men who are completely upset by failure to win an election, and others who are actually plagued by the offices which they have won.  But the largest throng of unhappy men among the host of mortals are those whom the expectation of death, which threatens them on every hand, drives to despair: for there is no quarter from which death may not approach.  Hence, like soldiers scouting in the enemy's country, they must look about in all directions and turn their heads at every sound; unless the breast is rid of this fear, one life with a palpitating heart.  You will readily recall those who have been driven into exile and dispossessed of their property.  You will also recall (and this is the most serious kind of destitution) those who are poor in the midst of their riches.  You will recall men who have suffered shipwreck, or those whose sufferings resemble shipwreck; for they were untroubled and at ease, when the anger or perhaps the envy of the populace,--a missile most deadly to those in high places,--dismantled them like a storm which is wont to rise when one is most confident of continued calm, or like a sudden stroke of lightening which even causes the region round about it to tremble.  For just as anyone who stands near the bolt is stunned and resembles one who is struck, so in these sudden and violent mishaps, although but one person is overwhelmed by the disaster, the rest are overwhelmed by fear, and the possibility that they may suffer makes them as downcast as the actual sufferer.

        Every man is troubled in spirit by evils that come suddenly upon his neighbour.  Like birds, who cower even at the whirr of an empty sling, we are distracted by mere sounds as well as by blows.  No man therefore can be happy if he yields himself up to such foolish fancies.  For nothing brings happiness unless it also brings calm; it is a bad sort of existence that is spent in apprehension.  Whoever has largely surrendered himself to the power of Fortune has made for him a huge web of disquietude, from which he cannot get free; if one would win a way to safety, there is but one road,--to despise externals and to be contented with that which is honourable.  For those who regard anything as better than virtue, or believe that there is any good except virtue, are spreading their arms to gather in that which Fortune tosses abroad, and are anxiously awaiting her favours.  Picture now to yourself that Fortune is holding a festival, and is showering down honours, riches, and influence upon this mob of mortals; some of these gifts have already been torn to pieces in the hands of those who try to snatch them, others have been divided up by treacherous partnerships, and still others have been seized to the great detriment of those into whose possession they have come.  Certain of these favours have fallen to men while they were absent-minded; others have been lost to their seekers because they were snatching too eagerly for them, and, just because they are greedily seized upon, have been knocked from their hands.  There is not a man among them all, however,--even he who has been lucky in the booty which has fallen to him,--whose joy in his spoil has lasted until the morrow.

        The most sensible man, therefore, as soon as he sees the dole being brought in, runs from the theatre; for he knows that one pays a high price for small favours.  No one will grapple with him on the way out, or strike him as he departs; the quarrelling takes place where the prizes are.  Similarly with the gifts which Fortune tosses down to us; wretches that we are, we become excited, we are torn asunder, we wish that we had many hands, we look back now in this direction and now in that.  All too slowly, as it seems, are the gifts thrown in our direction; they merely excite our cravings, since they can reach but few and are awaited by all. l We are keen to intercept them as they fall down.  We rejoice if we have laid hold of anything; and some have been mocked by the idle hope of laying hold; we have either paid a high price for worthless plunder with some disadvantage to ourselves, or else have been defrauded and are left in the lurch.  Let us therefore withdraw from a game like this, and give way to the greedy rabble; let them gaze after such "goods," which hang suspended above them, and be themselves still more in suspense.

        Whoever makes up his mind to be happy should conclude that the good consists only in that which is honourable.  For if he regards anything else as good, he is, in the first place, passing an unfavourable judgment upon Providence because of the fact that upright men often suffer misfortunes, and that the time which is allotted to us is but short and scanty, if you compare it with the eternity which is allotted to the universe.

        It is a result of complaints like these that we are unappreciative in our comments upon the gifts of heaven; we complain because they are not always granted to us, because they are few and unsure and fleeting.  Hence we have not the will either to live or to die; we are possessed by hatred of life, by fear of death.  Our plans are all at sea, and no amount of prosperity can satisfy us.  And the reason for all this is that we have not yet attained to that good which is immeasurable and unsurpassable, in which all wishing on our part must cease, because there is no place beyond the highest.  Do you ask why virtue needs nothing?  Because it is pleased with what is has, and does not lust after that which it has not.  Whatever is enough is abundant in the eyes of virtue.

        Dissent from this judgment, and duty and loyalty will not abide. k For one who desires to exhibit these two qualities must endure much that the world calls evil; we must sacrifice many things to which we are addicted, thinking them to be goods.  Gone is courage, which should be continually testing itself; gone is greatness of soul, which cannot stand out clearly unless it has learned to scorn as trivial everything that the crowd covets as supremely important; and gone is kindness and the repaying of kindness, if we fear toil, if we have acknowledged anything to be more precious than loyalty, if our eyes are fixed upon anything except the best.

        But to pass these questions by:  either these so-called goods are not goods, or else man is more fortunate than God, because God has no enjoyment of the things which are given to us.  For lust pertains not to God, nor do elegant banquets, nor wealth, nor any of the things that allure mankind and lead him on through the influence of degrading pleasure.  Therefore, it is either not incredible that there are goods which God does not possess, or else the very fact that God does not possess them is in itself a proof that these things are not goods.  Besides, many things which are wont to be regarded as goods are granted to animals in fuller measure than to men.  Animals eat their food with better appetite, are not in the same degree weakened by sexual indulgence, and have a greater and more uniform constancy in their strength.  Consequently they are much more fortunate than man.  For there is no wickedness, no injury to themselves, in their way of living.  They enjoy their pleasures and they take them more often and more easily, without any of the fear that results from shame or regret.

        This being so, you should consider whether one has a right to call anything good in which God is outdone by man.  Let us limit the Supreme Good to the soul; it loses its meaning if it is taken from the best part of us and applied to the worst, that is, if it is transferred to the senses; for the senses are more active in dumb beasts.  The sum total of our happiness must not be placed in the flesh; the true goods are those which reason bestows substantial and eternal; they cannot fall away, neither can they grow less or be diminished.  Other things are goods according to opinion, and though they are called by the same name as the true goods, the essence of goodness is not in them.  Let us therefore call them "advantages," and, to use our technical term, "preferred" things.  Let us, however, recognize that they are our chattels, not parts of ourselves; and let us have them in our possession, but take heed to remember that they are outside us.  Even though they are in our possession, they are to be reckoned as things subordinate and poor, the possession of which gives no man a right to plume himself.  For what is more foolish than being self-complacent about something which one has not accomplished by one's own efforts?  Let everything of this nature be added to us, and not stick fast to us, so that, if it is withdrawn, it may come away without tearing off any part of us.  Let us use these things, but not boast of them, and let us use them sparingly, as if they were given for safe-keeping and will be withdrawn.  Anyone who does not employ reason in his possession of them never keeps them long; for prosperity of itself, if uncontrolled by reason, overwhelms itself.  If anyone has put his trust in goods that are most fleeting, he is soon bereft of them, and, to avoid being bereft, he suffers distress.  Few men have been permitted to lay aside prosperity gently.  The rest all fall, together with the things amid which they have come into eminence, and they are weighted down by the very things which had before exalted them.  For this reason foresight must be brought into play, to insist upon a limit or upon frugality in the use of these things, since license overthrows and destroys its own abundance.  That which has no limit has never endured, unless reason, which sets limits, has held it in check.  The fate of many cities will prove the truth of this; their sway has ceased at the very prime because they were given to luxury, and excess has ruined all that had been won by virtue.  We should fortify ourselves against such calamities.  But no wall can be erected against Fortune which she cannot take by storm; let us strengthen our inner defences.  If the inner part be safe, man can be attacked, but never captured.

        Do you wish to know what this weapon of defence is?  It is the ability to refrain from chafing over whatever happens to one, of knowing that the very agencies which seem to bring harm are working for the preservation of the world, and are a part of the scheme for bringing to fulfilment the order of the universe and its functions.  Let man be pleased with whatever has pleased God; let him marvel at himself and his own resources for this very reason, that he cannot be overcome, that he has the very powers of evil subject to his control, and that he brings into subjection chance and pain and wrong by means of that strongest of powers--reason.  Love reason!  The love of reason will arm you against the greatest hardships.  Wild beasts dash against the hunter's spear through love of their young, and it is their wildness and their unpremeditated onrush that keep them from being tamed; often a desire for glory has stirred the mind of youth to despise both sword and stake; the mere vision and semblance of virtue impel certain men to a self-imposed death.  In proportion as reason is stouter and steadier than any of these emotions, so much the more forcefully will she make her way through the midst of utter terrors and dangers.

        Men say to us:  "You are mistaken if you maintain that nothing is a good except that which is honourable; a defence like this will not make you safe from Fortune and free from her assaults.  For you maintain that dutiful children, and a well-governed country, and good parents, are to be reckoned as goods; but you cannot see these dear objects in danger and be yourself as ease.  Your calm will be disturbed by a siege conducted against your country, by the death of your children, or by the enslaving of your parents."  I will first state what we Stoics usually reply to these objectors, and then will add what additional answer should, in my opinion, be given.

        The situation is entirely different in the case of goods whose loss entails some hardship substituted in their place; for example, when good health is impaired there is a change to ill-health; when the eye is put out, we are visited with blindness; we not only lose our speed when our leg-muscles are cut, but infirmity takes the place of speed.  But no such danger is involved in the case of the goods to which we referred a moment ago.  And why?  If I have lost a good friend, I have no false friend whom I must endure in his place; nor if I have buried a dutiful son, must I face in exchange un-filial conduct.  In the second place, this does not mean to me the taking-off of a friend or of a child; it is the mere taking-off of their bodies.  But a good can be lost in only one way, by changing into what is bad; and this is impossible according to the law of nature, because every virtue, and every work of virtue, abides uncorrupted.  Again, even if friends have perished, or children of approved goodness who fulfil their father's prayers for them, there is something that can fill their place.  Do you ask what this is?  It is that which had made them good in the first place, namely, virtue.  Virtue suffers no space in us to be unoccupied; it takes possession of the whole soul and removes all sense of loss.  It alone is sufficient; for the strength and beginnings of all goods exist in virtue herself.  What does it matter if running water is cut off and flows away, as long as the fountain from which it has flowed is unharmed?  You will not maintain that a man's life is more just if his children are unharmed than if they have passed away, nor yet better appointed, nor more intelligent, nor more honourable; therefore, no better, either.  The addition of friends does not make one wiser, nor does their taking away make one more foolish; therefore, not happier or more wretched, either.  As long as your virtue is unharmed, you will not feel the loss of anything that has been withdrawn from you.  You may say:  "Come now; is not a man happier when girt about with a large company of friends and children?"  Why should this be so?  For the Supreme Good is neither impaired nor increased thereby; it abides within its own limits, no matter how Fortune has conducted herself.  Whether a long old age falls to one's lot, or whether the end comes on this side of old age--the measure of the Supreme Good is unvaried, in spite of the difference in years.

        Whether you draw a larger or a smaller circle, its size affects its area, not its shape.  One circle may remain as it is for a long time, while you my contract the other forthwith or even merge it completely with the sand in which it was drawn; yet each circle has had the same shape.  That which is straight is not judged by its size, or by its number, or by its duration; it can no more be made longer than it can be made shorter.  Scale down the honourable life as much as you like from the full hundred years, and reduce it to a single day; it is equally honourable.  Sometimes virtue is wide-spread, governing kingdoms, cities, and provinces, creating laws, developing friendships, and regulating the duties that hold good between relatives and children; at other times it is limited by the narrow bounds of poverty, exile, or bereavement.  But it is no smaller when it is reduced from prouder heights to a private station, from a royal palace to a humble dwelling, or when from a general and broad jurisdiction it is gathered into the narrow limits of a private house or a tiny corner.  Virtue is just as great, even when it has retreated within itself and is shut in on all sides.  For its spirit is no less great and upright, its sagacity no less complete, its justice no less inflexible.  It is, therefore, equally happy.  For happiness has its abode in one place only, namely, in the mind itself, and is noble, steadfast, and calm; and this state cannot be attained without a knowledge of things divine and human.

        The other answer, which I promised to make to your objection, follows from this reasoning.  The wise man is not distressed by the loss of children or of friends.  For he endures their death in the same spirit in which he awaits his own.  And he fears the one as little as he grieves for the other.  For the underlying principle of virtue is conformity; all the works of virtue are in harmony and agreement with virtue itself.  But this harmony is lost if the soul, which ought to be uplifted, is cast down by grief or a sense of loss. It is ever a dishonour for a man to be troubled and fretted, to be numbed when there is any call for activity.  For that which is honourable is free from care and untrammelled, is unafraid, and stands girt for action.  "What," you ask, "will the wise man experience no emotion like disturbance of spirit?  Will not his features change colour, his countenance be agitated, and his limbs grow cold?  And there are other things which we do, not under the influence of the will, but unconsciously and as the result of a sort of natural impulse."  I admit that this is true; but the sage will retain the firm belief that none of these things is evil, or important enough to make a healthy mind break down.  Whatever shall remain to be done virtue can do with courage and readiness.  For anyone would admit that it is a mark of folly to do in a slothful and rebellious spirit whatever one has to do, or to direct the body in one direction and the mind in another, and thus to be torn between utterly conflicting emotions.  For folly is despised precisely because of the things for which she vaunts and admires herself, and she does not do gladly even those things in which she prides herself.  But if folly fears some evil, she is burdened by it in the very moment of awaiting it, just as if it had actually come,--already suffering in apprehension whatever she fears she may suffer.  Just as in the body symptoms of latent ill-health precede the disease--there is, for example, a certain weak sluggishness, a lassitude which is not the result of any work, a trembling, and a shivering that pervades the limbs,--so the feeble spirit is shaken by its ills a long time before it is overcome by them.  It anticipates them, and totters before its time.

        But what is greater madness than to be tortured by the future and not to save your strength for the actual suffering but to invite and bring on wretchedness?  If you cannot be rid of it, you ought at least to postpone it.  Will you not understand that no man should be tormented by the future?  The man who has been told that he will have to endure torture fifty years from now is not disturbed thereby, unless he has leaped over the intervening years, and has projected himself into the trouble that is destined to arrive a generation later.  In the same way, souls that enjoy being sick and that seize upon excuses for sorrow is saddened by events long past and effaced from the records.  Past and future are both absent; we feel neither of them.  But there can be no pain except as the result of what you feel.  Farewell.

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On the Diseases of the Soul
 
        You have been complaining that my letters to you are rather carelessly written.  Now who talks carefully unless he also desires to talk affectedly?  I prefer that my letters should be just what my conversation would be if you and I were sitting in one another's company or taking walks together,--spontaneous and easy; for my letters have nothing strained or artificial about them.  If it were possible, I should prefer to show, rather than speak, my feelings.  Even if I were arguing a point, I should not stamp my foot, or toss my arms about, or raise my voice; but I should leave that sort of thing to the orator, and should be content to have conveyed my feelings to you without having either embellished them or lowered their dignity.  I should like to convince you entirely of this one fact,--that I feel whatever I say, that I not only feel it, but am wedded to it.  It is one sort of kiss which a man gives his mistress, and another which he gives his children; yet in the father's embrace also, holy and restrained as it is, plenty of affection is disclosed.

        I prefer, however, that our conversation on matters so important should not be meagre and dry; for even philosophy does not renounce the company of cleverness.  One should not, however, bestow very much attention upon mere words.  Let this be the kernel of my idea:  let us say what we feel, and feel what we say; let speech harmonize with life.  That man has fulfilled his promise who is the same person both when you see him and when you hear him.  We shall not fail to see what sort of man he is and how large a man he is, if only he is one and the same.  Our words should aim not to please, but to help.  If, however, you can attain eloquence without painstaking, and if you either are naturally gifted or can gain eloquence at slight cost, make the most of it and apply it to the noblest uses.  But let it be of such a kind that it displays facts rather than itself.  It and the other arts are wholly concerned with cleverness; but our business here is the soul.

        A sick man does not call in a physician who is eloquent; but if it so happens that the physician who can cure him likewise discourses elegantly about the treatment which is to be followed, the patient will take it in good part.  For all that, he will not find any reason to congratulate himself on having discovered a physician who is eloquent.  For the case is no different from that of a skilled pilot who is also handsome.  Why do you tickle my ears?  Why do you entertain me?  There is other business at hand; I am to be cauterized, operated upon, or put on a diet.  That is why you were summoned to treat me!

        You are required to cure a disease that is chronic and serious,--one which affects the general weal.  You have as serious a business on hand as a physician has during a plague.  Are you concerned about words?  Rejoice this instant if you can cope with things.  When shall you learn all that there is to learn?  When shall you so plant in your mind that which you have learned, that it cannot escape?  When shall you put it all into practice?  For it is not sufficient merely to commit these things to memory, like other matters; they must be practically tested.  He is not happy who only knows them, but he who does them.  You reply:  "What?  Are there no degrees of happiness below your 'happy' man?  Is there a sheer descent immediately below wisdom?"  I think not.  For though he who makes progress is still numbered with the fools, yet he is separated from them by a long interval.  Among the very persons who are making progress there are also great spaces intervening.  They fall into three classes, as certain philosophers believe.  First come those who have not yet attained wisdom but have already gained a place near by.  Yet even that which is not far away is still outside.  These, if you ask me, are men who have already laid aside all passions and vices, who have learned what things are to be embraced; but their assurance is not yet tested.  They have not yet put their good into practice, yet from now on they cannot slip back into the faults which they have escaped.  They have already arrived at a point from which there is no slipping back, but they are not yet aware of the fact; as I remember writing in another letter,  "They are ignorant of their knowledge."  It has not been vouchsafed to them to enjoy their good, but not yet to be sure of it.  Some define this class, of which I have been speaking,--a class of men who are making progress,--as having escaped the diseases of the mind,  but not yet the passions, and as still standing upon slippery ground; because no one is beyond the dangers of evil except him who has cleared himself of it wholly.  But no one has so cleared himself except the man who has adopted wisdom in its stead.

        I have often before explained the difference between the diseases of the mind and its passions.  And I shall remind you once more:  the diseases are hardened and chronic vices, such as greed and ambition; they have enfolded the mind in too close a grip, and have begun to be permanent evils thereof.  To give a brief definition:  by "disease" we mean a persistent perversion of the judgment, so that things which are mildly desirable are thought to be highly desirable.  Or, if you prefer, we may define it thus:  to be too zealous in striving for things which are only mildly desirable or not desirable at all, or to value highly things which ought to be valued but slightly or valued not at all.  "Passions" are objectionable impulses of the spirit, sudden and vehement; they have come so often, and so little attention has been paid to them, that they have caused a state of disease; just as a catarrh, when there has been but a single attack and the catarrh has not yet become habitual, produces a cough, but causes consumption when it has become regular and chronic.  Therefore we may say that those who have made most progress are beyond the reach of the "diseases"; but they still feel the "passions" even when very near perfection.  

        The second class is composed of those who have laid aside both the greatest ills of the mind and its passions, but yet are not in assured  possession of immunity.  For they can still slip back into their former state.  The third class are beyond the reach of many of the vices and particularly of the great vices, but not beyond the reach of all.  They have escaped avarice, for example, but still feel anger; they no longer are troubled by lust, but are still troubled by ambition; they no longer have desire, but they still have fear.  And just because they fear, although they are strong enough to withstand certain things, there are certain things to which they yield; they scorn death, but are in terror of pain.

        Let us reflect a moment on this topic.  It will be well with us if we are admitted to this class.  The second stage is gained by great good fortune with regard to our natural gifts and by great and unceasing application to study.  But not even the third type is to be despised.  Think of the host of evils which you see about you; behold how there is no crime that is not exemplified, how far wickedness advances every day, and how prevalent are sins in home and commonwealth.  You will see, therefore, that we are making a considerable gain, if we are not numbered among the basest.

        "But as for me," you say, "I hope that it is in me to rise to a higher rank than that!"  I should pray, rather than promise, that we may attain this; we have been forestalled.  We hasten towards virtue while hampered by vices.  I am ashamed to say it; but we worship that which is honourable only in so far as we have time to spare.  But what a rich reward awaits us if only we break off the affairs which forestall us and the evils that cling to us with utter tenacity!  Then neither desire nor fear shall rout us.  Undisturbed by fears, unspoiled by pleasures, we shall be afraid neither of death nor of the gods; we shall know that death is no evil and that the gods are not powers of evil.  That which harms has no greater power than that which receives harm, and things which are utterly good have no power at all to harm.  There await us, if ever we escape from these low dregs to that sublime and lofty height, peace of mind and, when all error has been driven out, perfect liberty.  You ask what this freedom is?  It means not fearing either men or gods; it means not craving wickedness or excess; it means possessing supreme power over oneself.  And it is a priceless good to be master of one.  Farewell.

On Learning Wisdom in Old Age
 
        You have been threatening me with your enmity, if I do not keep you informed about all my daily actions.  But see, now, upon what frank terms you and I live:  for I shall confide even the following fact to your ears.  I have been hearing the lectures of a philosopher; four days have already passed since I have been attending his school and listening to the harangue, which begins at two o'clock.  "A fine time of life for that!" you say.  Yes, fine indeed!  Now what is more foolish than refusing to learn, simply because one has not been learning for a long time?  "What do you mean?  Must I follow the fashion set by the fops and youngsters?"  But I am pretty well off if this is the only thing that discredits my declining years.  Men of all ages are admitted to this class-room.  You retort:  "Do we grow old merely in order to tag after the youngsters?"  But if I, an old man, go to the theatre, and am carried to the races, and allow no duel in the arena to be fought to a finish without my presence, shall I blush to attend a philosopher's lecture?

        You should keep learning as long as you are ignorant,--even to the end of your life, if there is anything in the proverb.  And the proverb suits the present case as well as any:  "As long as you live, keep learning how to live."  For all that, there is also something which I can teach in that school.  You ask, do you, what I can teach?  That even an old man should keep learning.  But I am ashamed of mankind, as often as I enter the lecture-hall.  On my way to the house of Metronax I am compelled to go, as you know, right past the Neapolitan Theatre.  The building is jammed; men are deciding, with tremendous zeal, who is entitled to be called a good flute-player; even the Greek piper and the herald draw their crowds.  But in the other place, where the question discussed is:  "What is a good man?" and the lesson which we learn is, "How to be a good man," very few are in attendance, and the majority think that even these few are engaged in no good business; they have the name of being empty-headed idlers.  I hope I may be blessed with that kind of mockery; for one should listen in an unruffled spirit to the railings of the ignorant; when one is marching toward the goal of honour, one should scorn itself.

        Proceed, then, Lucilius, and hasten, lest you yourself be compelled to learn in your old age, as is the case with me.  Nay, you must hasten all the more, because for a long time you have not approached the subject, which is one that you can scarcely learn thoroughly when you are old.  "How much progress shall I make?"  You ask. Just as much as you try to make.  Why do you wait?  Wisdom comes haphazard to no man.  Money will come of its own accord; titles will be given to you; influence and authority will perhaps be thrust upon you; but virtue will not fall upon you by chance.  Neither is knowledge thereof to be won by light effort or small toil; but toiling is worth while when one is about to win all goods at a single stroke.  For there is but a single good,--namely that which is honourable; in all those other things of which the general opinion approves, you will find no truth or certainty.  Why it is, however, that there is but one good, namely, that which is honourable, I shall now tell you, inasmuch as you judge that in my earlier letter I did not carry the discussion far enough, and think that this theory was commended to you rather than proved.  I shall also compress the remarks of other authors into narrow compass.

        Everything is estimated by the standard of its own good.  The vine is valued for its productiveness and the flavour of its wine, the stag for his speed.  We ask, with regard to beasts of burden, how sturdy of back they are; for their only use is to bear burdens.  If a dog is to find the trail of a wild beast, keenness of scent is of first importance; if to catch his quarry, swiftness of foot; if to attack and harry it, courage.  In each thing that quality should be best for which the thing is brought into being and by which it is judged.  And what quality is best in man?  It is reason; by virtue of reason he surpasses the animals, and is surpassed only by the gods.  Perfect reason is therefore the good peculiar to man; all other qualities he shares in some degree with animals and plants.  Man is strong; so is the lion.  Man is comely, so is the peacock.  Man is surpassed in all these qualities.......Man has body; so also have trees.  Man has the power to act and to move at will; so have beasts and worms.  Man has a voice; but how much louder is the voice of the dog, how much shriller that of the eagle, how much deeper that of the bull, how much sweeter and more melodious that of the nightingale!  What then is peculiar to man?  Reason.  When this is right and has reached perfection, man's felicity is complete.  Hence, if everything is praiseworthy and has arrived at the end intended by its nature, when it has brought its peculiar good to perfection, and if man's peculiar good is reason; then, if a man has brought his reason to perfection, he is praiseworthy and has reached the end suited to his nature.  This perfect reason is called virtue, and is likewise that which is honourable.

        Hence that in man alone a good which alone belongs to man.  For we are not now seeking to discover what is a good, but what good is man's.  And if there is no other attribute which belongs peculiarly to man except reason, then reason will be his one peculiar good, but a good that is worth all the rest put together.  If any man is bad, he will, I suppose, be regarded with disapproval; if good, I suppose he will be regarded with approval.  Therefore, that attribute of man whereby he is approved or disapproved is his chief and only good.  You do not doubt whether is is a good; you merely doubt whether it is the sole good.  If a man possess all other things, such as health, riches, pedigree, a crowded reception-hall, but is confessedly bad, you will disapprove of him.  Likewise, if a man possess none of the things which I have mentioned, and lacks money, or an escort of clients, or rank and a line of grandfathers and great-grandfathers, but is confessedly good, you will approve of him.  Hence, this is man's one peculiar good, and the possessor of it is to be praised even if he lacks other things; but he who does not possess it, though he possess everything else in abundance, is condemned andrejected.  The same thing holds good regarding men as regarding things.  A ship is said to be good not when it is decorated with costly colours, nor when its prow is covered with silver or gold or its figure-head embossed in ivory, nor when it is laden with the imperial revenues or with the wealth of kings, but when it is steady and staunch and taut, with seams that keep out the water, stout enough to endure the buffeting of the waves, obedient to its helm, swift and caring naught for the winds.  You will speak of a sword as good, not when its sword-belt is of gold, or its scabbard studded with gems, but when its edge is fine for cutting and its point will pierce any armour.  Take the carpenter's rule:  we do not ask how beautiful it is, but how straight it is.  Each thing is praised in regard to that attribute which is taken as its standard, in regard to that which is its peculiar quality.

        Therefore, in the case of man also, it is not pertinent to the question of how many acres he ploughs, how much money he has out at interest, how many callers attend his receptions, how costly is the couch on which he lies, how transparent are the cups from which he drinks, but how good he is.  He is good, however, if his reason is well-ordered and right and adapted to that which is nature has willed.  It is this that is called virtue; this is what we mean by "honourable"; it is man's unique good.  For since reason alone brings man to perfection, reason alone, when perfected, makes man happy.  This, moreover, is man's only good, the only means by which he is made happy.  We do indeed say that those things also are goods which are furthered and brought together by virtue,--that is, all the works of virtue; but virtue itself is for this reason the only good, because there is no good without virtue.  If every good is in the soul, then whatever strengthens, uplifts, and enlarges the soul, is a good; virtue, however, does make the soul stronger, loftier, and larger.  For all other things, which arouse our desires, depress the soul and weaken it, and when we think that they are uplifting the soul, they are merely puffing it up and cheating it with much emptiness.  Therefore, that alone is good which will make the soul better.

        All the actions of life, taken as a whole, are controlled by the consideration of what is honourable or base, it is with reference to these two things that our reason is governed in doing or not doing a particular thing.  I shall explain what I mean:  A good man will do what he thinks it will be honourable for him to do, even if it involves toil; he will do it even if it involves harm to him; he will do it even if it involves peril; again, he will not do that which will be base, even if it brings him money, or pleasure, or power.  Nothing will deter him from that which is honourable, and nothing will tempt him into baseness.  Therefore, if he is determined invariably to follow that which is honourable, invariably to avoid baseness, and in every act of his life to have regard for these two things, deeming nothing else good except that which is honourable, and nothing else bad except that which is base; if virtue  alone is un-perverted in him and by itself keeps its even course, then virtue is that man's only good, and nothing can thenceforth happen to it which may make it anything else than good.  It has escaped all risk of change; folly may creep upwards towards wisdom, but wisdom never slips back into folly.

        You may perhaps remember my saying that the things which have been generally desired and feared have been trampled down by many a man in moments of sudden passion.  There have been found men who would place their hands in the flames, men whose smiles could not be stopped by the torturer, men who would shed not a tear at the funeral of their children, men who would meet death unflinchingly.  It is love, for example, anger, lust, which has challenged dangers.  If a momentary stubbornness can accomplish all this  when roused by some goad that pricks the spirit, how much more can be accomplished by virtue, which does not act impulsively or suddenly, but uniformly and with a strength that is lasting!  It follows that the things which are often scorned by the men who are moved with a sudden passion, and are always scorned by the wise, are neither goods nor evils.  Virtue itself is therefore the only good; she marches proudly between the two extremes of fortune, with great scorn for both.

        If, however, you accept the view that there is anything good besides that which is honourable, all the virtues will suffer.  For it will never be possible for any virtue to be won and held, if there is anything outside itself which virtue must take into consideration.  If there is any such thing, then it is at variance with reason, from which the virtues spring, and with truth also, which cannot exist without reason.  Any opinion, however, which is at variance with truth, is wrong.  A good man, you will admit, must have the highest sense of duty towards the gods.  Hence he will endure with an unruffled spirit whatever happens to him; for he will know that is has happened as a result of the divine law, by which the whole creation moves. This being so, there will be for him one good, and only one, namely, that which is honourable; for one of its dictates is that we shall obey the gods and not blaze forth in anger at sudden misfortunes or deplore our lot, but rather patiently accept fate and obey its commands.  If anything except the honourable is good, we shall be hounded by greed for life, and by greed for the things which provide life with its furnishings,--an intolerable state, and subject to no limits, unstable.  The only good therefore, is that which is honourable, that which is subject to bounds.

        I have declared that a man's life would be more blest than that of the gods, if those things which the gods do not enjoy are goods,--such as money and offices of dignity.  There is this further consideration:  if only it is true that our souls, when released from the body, still abide, a happier condition is in store for them than is theirs while they dwell in the body.  And yet, if those things are goods which we make use of for our bodies' sake, our souls will be worse off when set free; and that is contrary to our belief, to say that the soul is happier when it is cabined and confined than when it is free and has betaken itself to the universe.  I also said that if those things which dumb animals possess equally with man are goods, then dumb animals also will lead a happy life; which is of course impossible.  One must endure all things in defence of that which is honourable; but this would not be necessary if there existed any other good besides that which is honourable.

        Although this question was discussed by me pretty extensively in a previous letter, I have discussed it summarily and briefly run through the argument.  But an opinion of this kind will never seem true to you unless you exalt your mind and ask yourself whether, at the call of duty, you would be willing to die for your country, and buy the safety of all your fellow-citizens at the price of your own whether you would offer your neck not only with patience, but also with gladness.  If you would do this, there is no other good in your eyes.  For you are giving up everything in order to acquire this good.   Consider how great is the power of that which is honourable:  you will die for your country, even at a moment's notice, when you know that you ought to do so.  Sometimes, as a result of noble conduct, one wins great joy even in a very short and fleeting space of time; and though none of the fruits of a deed that has been done will accrue to the doer after he is dead and removed from the sphere of human affairs, yet the mere contemplation of a deed that is to be done is a delight, and the brave and upright man, picturing to himself the guerdons of his death,--guerdons such as the freedom of his country and the deliverance of all those for whom he is paying out his life,--partakes of the greatest pleasure and enjoys the fruit of his own peril.  But that man also who is deprived of this joy, the joy which is afforded by the contemplation of some last noble effort, will leap to his death without a moment's hesitation, content to act rightly and dutifully.  Moreover, you may confront him with many discouragements; you may say:  "Your deed will speedily be forgotten," or "Your fellow-citizens will offer you scant thanks."  He will answer:  "All these matters lie outside my task.  My thoughts are on the deed itself.  I know that this is honourable.   Therefore, whithersoever I am led and summoned by honour, I will go."

        This, therefore, is the only good, and not only is every soul that has reached perfection aware of it, but also every soul that is by nature noble and of right instincts; all other goods are trivial and mutable.  For this reason we are harassed if we possess them.  Even though, by the kindness of Fortune, they have been heaped together, they weigh heavily upon their owners, always pressing them down and sometimes crushing them.  None of those whom you behold clad in purple is happy, any more than one of these actors upon whom the play bestows a sceptre and a cloak while on the stage; they strut their hour before a crowded house, with swelling port and buskined foot; but when once they make their exit the foot-gear is removed and they return to their proper stature.  None of those who have been raised to a loftier height by riches and honours is really great.  Why then does he seem great to you?  It is because you are measuring the pedestal along with the man.  A dwarf is not tall, though he stand upon a mountain-top; a colossal statue will still be tall, though you place it in a well.  This is the error under which we labour; this is the reason why we are imposed upon:  we value no man at what he is, but add to the man himself the trappings in which he is clothed.  But when you wish to inquire into a man's true worth, and to know what manner of man he is, look at him when he is naked; make him lay aside his inherited estate, his titles, and the other deceptions of fortune; let him even strip off his body.  Consider his soul, its quality and its stature, and thus learn whether its greatness is borrowed, or its own.

        If a man can behold with unflinching eyes the flash of a sword, if he knows that it makes no difference to him whether his soul takes flight through his mouth or through a wound in his throat, you may call him happy; you may also call him happy if, when he is threatened with bodily torture, whether it be the result of accident or of the might of the stronger, he can without concern hear talk of chains, or of exile, or of all the idle fears that stir men's minds, and can say:

O maiden, no new sudden form of toil
Springs up before my eyes; within my soul
I have forestalled and surveyed everything.

        Today it is you who threaten me with these terrors; but I have always threatened myself with them, and have prepared myself as a man to meet man's destiny."  If an evil has been pondered beforehand, the blow is gentle when it comes.  To the fool, however, and to him who trusts in fortune, each event as it arrives "comes in a new and sudden form," and a large part of evil, to the inexperienced, consists in its novelty.  This is proved by the fact that men endure with greater courage, when they have once become accustomed to them, the things which they had at first regarded as hardships.  Hence, the wise man accustoms him to coming trouble, lightening by long reflection the evils which others lighten by long endurance.  We sometimes hear the inexperienced say:  "I knew that this was in store for me."  But the wise man knows that all things are in store for him.  Whatever happens, he says:  "I knew it."  Farewell.

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On Taking One's Own Life: Suicide


 
    Suddenly there came into our view today the "Alexandrian" ships--I mean those which are usually sent ahead to announce the coming of the fleet; they are called "mail-boats." The Companions are glad to see them; all the rabble of Puteoli stand on the docks, and can recognize the "Alexandrian" boats, no matter how great the crowd of vessels, by the very trim of their sails. For they alone may keep spread their topsails, which all ships use when out to sea, because nothing sends a ship alone so well as its upper canvas; that is where most of the speed is obtained. So when the breeze has stiffened and becomes stronger than is comfortable, they se their yards lower; for the wind has less force near the surface of the water. Accordingly, when they have made Capreae and the headland whence all other vessels are bidden to be content with the mainsail and the topsail stands out conspicuously on the "Alexandrian" mail-boats.

    While everybody was bustling about and hurrying to the water-front, I felt great pleasure in my laziness, because, although I was soon to receive letters from my friends, I was in no hurry to know how my affairs were progressing abroad, or what news the letters were bringing; for some time now I have had no losses, nor gains either. Even if I were not an old man, I could not have helped feeling pleasure at this; but as it is, my pleasure was far greater. For, however small my possessions might be, I should still have left over more travelling-money than journey to travel, especially since this journey upon which we have set out is one which  need not be followed to the end. An expedition will be incomplete if one stops half-way, or anywhere on this side of one's destination; but life is not incomplete if it is honourable. At whatever point you leave off living, provided you leave off nobly, your life is a whole. Often, however, one must leave off bravely, and our reasons therefore need not be momentous; for neither are the reasons momentous which hold us here.

    Tullius Marcellinus, a man whom you knew very well, who in youth was a quiet soul and became old prematurely, fell ill of a disease which was by no means hopeless; but it was protracted and troublesome, and it demanded much attention; hence he began to think about dying. He called many of his friends together. Each one of them gave Marcellinus advice,-- the timid friend  urging him to do what he had made up his mind to do; the flattering and wheedling friend giving counsel which he supposed would be more pleasing to Macellinus when he came to think of the matter over; but our Stoic friend, a rare man, and, to praise him in language which he deserves, a man of courage and vigor, admonished him best of all, as it seems to me. For he began as follows: "Do not torment yourself, my dear Marcellinus, as if the question which you are weighing were a matter of importance. It is not an important matter to live; all your slaves live, and so do all animals; but it is important to die honourably, sensibly, bravely. Reflect how long you have been doing the same thing: food, sleep, lust,-- this is one's daily round. The desire to die may be felt, not only by the sensible man or the brave or unhappy man, but even by the man who is merely surfeited."

    Marcellinus did not someone to urge him to, but rather someone to help him; his slaves refused to do his bidding. The Stoic therefore removed their fears, showing them that there was no risk involved for the household except when it was uncertain whether the master's death was self-sought or not; besides, it was to prevent him forcibly from killing himself. Then he suggested to Marcellinus himself  that it would be a kindly act to distribute gifts to those who had attended him throughout his whole life, when that life was finished, just as, when a banquet is finished, the remaining portion is divided among the attendants who stand about the table. Marcellius was of a compliant and generous disposition, even when it was a question of his own property; so he distributed little sums among his sorrowing slaves, and comforted them besides. No need had he of sword or of bloodshed; for three days he fasted and had a tent put up in his very bedroom. Then a tub was brought in; he lay in it for a long time, and, as the hot water was continually poured over him, he gradually passed away, not without a feeling of pleasure, as he himself remarked, -- such a feeling as a slow dissolution is wont to give. Those of us who have ever fainted know from experience what this feeling is.

    This little anecdote into which I have digressed will not be displeasing to you. For you will see that your friend departed neither with difficulty nor with suffering. Though he committed suicide, yet he withdrew most gently, gliding out of life. The anecdote may also be of some use; for often a crisis demands just such examples. There are times when we ought to die and are unwilling; sometimes we die and are unwilling. No one is so ignorant as not to know that we must at some time die; nevertheless, when one draws near death, one turns to flight, trembles, and laments. Would you not think him an utter fool who wept because he was not alive a thousand years ago? And is he not just as much of a fool who weeps because he will not be alive a thousand years from now? It is all the same; you will not be, and were not. Neither of these periods of time belongs to you. You have been cast upon this point of time; if you would make it longer, how much longer shall you make it? Why weep? Why pray? You are taking pains to no purpose.  "Give over thinking that your prayers can bend / Divine decrees from their predestined end."  These decrees are unalterable and fixed; they are governed by a mighty and everlasting compulsion. Your goal will be the goal of all things. What is there strange in this to you? You were born to be subject to this law; this fate befell your father, your mother, your ancestors, all who came before you; and it will befall all who shall come after you. A sequence which cannot be broken or altered by any power binds all things together and draws all things in its course. Think of the multitudes of men doomed to death who will come after you, of the multitudes who will go with you! You would die more bravely, I suppose, in the company of many thousands, both of men and animals, who at this very moment, while you are irresolute about death, are breathing their last, in their several ways. But you,-- did you believe that you would not some day reach the goal towards which you have travelling? No journey but has its end.

    You think, I suppose, that it is now in order for me to cite some examples of great men. No, I shall cite rather the case of a boy. The story of the Spartan lad has been preserved: taken captive while still a stripling, he kept in his Doric dialect, "I will not be a slave!" and he made good his word; for the very first time he was ordered to perform a menial and degrading service,-- and the command was to fetch a chamber-spot,--he dashed out his brain against the wall. So near at hand is freedom, and is anyone still a slave? Would you not rather have your own son die thus than reach old age by weakly yielding? Why therefore are you distressed, when even a boy can die so bravely? Suppose that you refuse to follow him; you will be led. Take into your own control that which is now under the control of another. Will you not borrow that boy's courage, and say: "I am no slave!"? Unhappy fellow, you are a slave to men, you are a slave to your business; you are a slave to life. For life, if courage to die be lacking, is slavery.

   Have you anything worth waiting for? Your very pleasures, which cause you to tarry and hold you back, have already been exhausted by you. None of them is a novelty to you, and there is none that has not already become hateful because you are cloyed with it. You know the taste of wine and cordials. It makes no difference whether a hundred or a thousand measures pass through your bladder; you are nothing but a wine-strainer. You are a connoisseur in the flavour of the oyster and of the mullet; your luxury has not left you anything un-tasted for the years that are to come; and yet these are the things from which you are to come; and yet these are the things from which you are torn away unwillingly. What else is there which you would regret to have taken from you? Friends? but who can be a friend to you? Country? What? Do you think enough of your country to be late to dinner? The light of the sun? You would extinguish it, if you could; for what have you ever done that was fit to be seen in the light? Confess the truth; it is not because you long for the senate chamber or the forum, or even for the world of nature, that you would fain put off dying; it is because you are loath to leave the fish-market, though you have exhausted its stores.

   You are afraid of death; but how can you scorn it in the midst of a mushroom supper? You wish to live; well, do you know how to live? You are afraid to die. But come now: is this life yours anything but death? Gaius Caesar was passing along the Via Latina, when a man stepped out from the ranks of the prisoners, his grey beard hanging down even to his breast, and begged to be put to death. "What!" said Caesar, "are you alive now?" That is the answer which should be given to men to whom death would come as a relief. "You are afraid to die; what! Are you alive now?" "But." says one, "I wish to live, for I am engaged in many honourable pursuits. I am loath to leave life's duties, which I am fulfilling with loyalty and zeal." Surely you are aware that dying is also one of life's duties? You are deserted no duty; for there is no definite number established which you are bound to complete. There is no life that is not short. Compared with the world of nature, even Nestor's life was a short one, or Sattia's, the woman who bade carve on her tombstone that she had lived ninety and nine years. Some persons, you see, boast of their long lives; but who could have endured the old lady if she had had the luck to complete her hundredth year? It is with life as it is with a play,--it maters not how long the action is spun out, but how good the acting is. It makes no difference at what point you stop. Stop whenever you choose; only see it that the closing period is well turned. Farewell.


On The Healing Power of the Mind

 
    That you are frequently troubled by the snuffling of catarrh and by short attacks of fever which follow after long and chronic catarrhal seizures, I am sorry to hear; particularly because I have experienced this sort of illness myself, and scorned it in its early stages. For when I was still young, I could put up with hardships and show a bold front to illness. But I finally succumbed, and arrived at such state that I could do nothing but snuffle, reduced as I was to the extremity of thinness. I often entertained the impulse of ending my life then and there; but the thought of my kind old father kept me back. For I reflected, not how bravely I had the power to die, but how little power he had to bear bravely the loss of me. And so I commanded myself to live. For sometimes it is an act of bravery  even to live.                                                                                                      

    Now I shall tell you what consoled me during those days, stating at the outset that these very aids to my peace of mind were as efficacious as medicine. Honourable consolation results in a cure; and whatever has uplifted the soul helps the body also. My studies were my salvation. I place it to the credit of philosophy that I recovered and regained my strength. I owe my life to philosophy, and that is the least of my obligations! My friends, too, helped me greatly toward good health; I used to be comforted by their cheering words, by the hours they spent at my bedside, and by their conversation. Nothing, my excellent Lucilius, refreshes and aids a sick man so much as the affection of his friends; nothing so steals away the expectation and the fear of death. In fact, I could not believe that, if they survived me, I should be dying at all. Yes, I repeat, it seemed to me that I should continue to live, not with them, but through them. I imagined myself not to be yielding up my soul, but to be making it over to them.

   All these things gave me the inclination to succour myself and to endure any torture; besides, it is a most miserable state to have lost one's zest for dying, and to have no zest for living. These, then, are the remedies to which you should have recourse. The physician will prescribe your walks and your exercise; he will warn you not to become addicted to idleness, as is the tendency of the inactive invalid; he will order you to read in a louder voice and to exercise your lungs, the passages and cavity of which are affected; or to sail and shake up your bowels by a little mild emotion; he will recommend the proper food, and the suitable time for aiding your strength with wine or refraining from it in order to keep your cough from being irritated and hacking. But as for me, my counsel to you is this,--and it is a cure, not merely of this disease of yours, but of your whole life,--"Despise death." There is no sorrow in the world, when we have escaped form the fear of death.  There are these three serious elements in every disease: fear of death, bodily pain, and interruption of pleasures. Concerning death enough has been said, and I shall add only a word: this fear is not a fear of disease, but a fear of nature. Disease has often postponed death, and a vision of dying has been many a man's salvation. You will die, not because you are ill, but because you are alive; even when you have been cured, the same end awaits you; when you have recovered, it will be not death, but ill-death, that you have escaped.  

     Let us now return to the consideration of the characteristics disadvantage of disease: it is accompanied by great suffering. The suffering, however, is rendered endurable by interruptions; for the strain of extreme pain must come to an end. No man can suffer both severely and for a long time; Nature, who loves us most tenderly, has so constituted us as to make pain either endurable or short. The severest pains have their seat in the most slender part of our body; nerves, joints, and any other of the narrow passages, hurt most cruelly when they have developed trouble within their contracted spaces. But these parts soon become numb, and by reason of the pain itself lose the sensation of pain, whether because the life-force, when checked in its natural course and changed for the worse, loses the peculiar power through which it thrives and through which it warns us, or because the diseased humours of the body, when they cease to have a place into which they may flow, are thrown back upon themselves, and deprive of sensation the parts where they have caused congestion. So ought, both in the feet and in the hands, and all pain in the vertebrae and in the nerves, have their intervals of the rest at the times when they have dulled the parts which they before had tortured; the first twinges, in all such cases, are what cause the distress, and their onset is checked by lapse of time, so that there is an end of pain when numbness has set in. Pain in the teeth, eyes and ears is most acute for the very reason that it begins among the narrow spaces of the body,-no less acute, indeed, than in the head it self. But if it is more violent than usual, it turns to delirium and stupor. This is, accordingly, a consolation for excessive pain,-that you cannot help ceasing to feel it if  you feel it to excess.  The reason, however, why the inexperienced are impatient when their bodies suffer is, that they have not accustomed themselves to be contented in spirit. They have been closely associated with the body. Therefore a high-minded and sensible man divorces soul from body, and dwells much with the better or divine part, and only as far as he must with this complaining and frail portion.

    "But it is a hardship," men say, "to do without our customary pleasures,-to fast, to feel thirst and hunger." These are indeed serious when one first abstains from them. Later the desire dies down, because the appetites themselves which lead to desire are wearied and forsake us; then the stomach becomes petulant, then the food which we craved before becomes hateful. Our very wants die away. But there is no bitterness in doing without that which you have ceased to desire. Moreover, every pain sometimes stops, or at any rate slackens; moreover, one may take precautions against its return, and, when it threatens, may check it by means of remedies. Every variety of pain has its premonitory symptoms; this is true, at any rate, of pain that is habitual and recurrent. One can endure the suffering which disease entails, if one has come to regard its results with scorn. But do not of your own accord make your troubles heavier to bear and burden yourself with complaining. Pain is slight if opinion has added nothing to it; but if, on the other hand, you begin to encourage yourself and say, "It is nothing,- a trifling matter at most; keep a stout heart and it will soon cease"; then in  thinking it slight, you will make it slight. Everything depends on opinion; ambition, luxury, greed, hark back to opinion. It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. I hold that we should do away with complaint about past sufferings and with all language like this: "None has ever been worse off than I. What sufferings, what evils have I endured! No one has thought that I shall recover. How often have my family bewailed me, and the physicians given me over! Men who are placed on the rack are not torn asunder with such agony!" However, even if all this is true, it is over and gone. What benefit is there in reviewing past sufferings, and in being unhappy, just because once you were unhappy? Besides, every one adds much to his own ills, and tells lies to himself. And that which was bitter to bear is pleasant to have borne; it is natural to rejoice at the ending of one's ills.    

   Two elements must therefore be rooted out once for all,-the fear of future suffering, and the recollection of past suffering, since the latter no longer concerns me, and the former concerns me not yet. But when set in the very midst of troubles one should say:  "Perchance some day the memory of his sorrow will even bring delight."   Let such man fight against them with all his might: if he once gives way, he will be vanquished; but if he strives against his sufferings, he will conquer. As it is, however, what most men do is to drag down upon their own heads a falling ruin which they ought to try to support. If you begin to withdraw your support from that which thrusts toward you and totters and is ready to plunge, it will follow you and lean more heavily upon you; but if you hold your ground and make up your mind to push against it, it will be forced back. What blows do athletes receive on their faces and all over their bodies! Nevertheless, through their desire for fame they endure every torture, and they undergo these things not only because they are fighting but in order to be able to fight. Their very training means torture. So let us also win the way to victory in all our struggles,-for the reward is not a garland or a palm or a trumpeter who calls for silence at the proclamation of our names, but rather virtue, steadfastness of soul, and a peace that is won for all time, if fortune has once been utterly vanquished in any combat. You say, "I feel severe pain." What then; are you relieved from feeling it, if you endure it like a woman? Just as an enemy is more dangerous to a retreating army, so every trouble that fortune brings attacks us all the harder if we yield and turn our backs. "But the trouble is serious." What? Is it for this purpose that we are strong,-that we may have light burdens to bear? Would you have your illness long-drawn-out, or would you have it quick and short? If it is long, it means a respite, allows you a period for resting yourself, and bestows upon you the boon of time in plenty; as it arises, so it must also subside. A short and rapid illness will do one of two things: it will quench or be quenched. And what difference does it make whether it is not or I am not? In either case there is an end of pain.

   This, too, will help-to turn the mind aside to thoughts of other things and thus to depart from pain. Call to mind what honourable or brave deeds you have done; consider the good side of your own life. Run over in your memory those things which you have particularly admired. Then think of all the brave men who have conquered pain: of him who continued to read his book as he allowed the cutting out of varicose veins; of him who did not cease to smile, though that very smile so enraged his torturers that they tried upon him every instrument of their cruelty. If pain can be conquered by a smile, will it not be conquered by reason? You may tell me now of whatever you like-of colds, hard coughing-spells that bring up parts of our entrails, fever that parches our very vitals, thirst, limbs so twisted  that the joints protrude in different directions; yet worse than these are the stake, the rack, the red-hot plates, the instrument that reopens wounds while the wounds themselves are still swollen  and that drives their imprint still deeper. Nevertheless there have been men who have not uttered a moan amid these tortures. "More yet!" says the torturer; but the victim has not begged for release. "More yet!" he says again; but no answer has come. "More yet!" the victim has smiled, and heartily, too. Can you not bring yourself, after an example like this, to make a mock at pain?                                                                                                                   

    "But," you object, "my illness does not allow me to be doing anything; it has withdrawn me from all my duties."  It is your body that is hampered by ill-health and not your soul as well. It is for this reason that it clogs the feet of the runner and will hinder the handiwork of the cobbler or the artisan; but if your soul be habitually in practice, you will plead and teach, listen and learn, investigate and meditate. What more is necessary? Do you think that you are doing nothing if you possess self-control in your illness? You will be showing that a disease can be overcome, or at any rate endured. There is, I assure you, a place for virtue even upon a bed of sickness. It is not only the sword and the battle-line that prove the soul alert and unconquered by fear; a man can display bravery even when wrapped in his bed-clothes. You have something to do: wrestle bravely with disease. If it shall compel you to nothing, beguile you to nothing, it is a notable example that you display. O what ample matter was there for renown, if we could have spectators of our sickness! Be your own spectator; seek your own applause.  

     Again, there are two kinds of pleasures. Disease checks the pleasures of the body, but does not do away with them. Nay, if the truth is to be considered, it serves to excite them; for the thirstier a man is, the more he enjoys a drink; the hungrier he is, the more pleasure he takes in food. Whatever falls to one's lot after a period of abstinence is welcomed with great zest. The other kind, however, the pleasures of the mind, which are higher and less uncertain, no physician can refuse to the sick man. Whoever seeks these and knows well what they are, scorns all the blandishments of the senses. Men say, "Poor sick fellow!" But why? Is it because it he does not mix snow with his wine, or because he does not revive the chill of his drink-mixed as it is in a good-sized bowl-by chipping ice into it? Or because he does not have Lucrine oysters opened fresh at his table? Or because there is no din of cooks about his dining-hall, as they bring in their very cooking apparatus along with their viands? For luxury has already   devised this fashion-of having the kitchen accompany the dinner, so that food may not grow luke-warm, or fail to be hot enough for a palate which has already  become hardened. "Poor sick fellow!"-he will eat as much as he can digest. There will be no boar lying before his eyes, banished from the table as if it were a common meat; and on his sideboard there will be heaped together no breast-meat of birds, because it sickens him to see birds served whole. But what evil has been done to you? You will dine like a sick man, nay, sometimes like a sound man.

     All these things, however, can be easily endured-gruel, warm water, and anything else that seems insupportable to a fastidious man, to one who is wallowing in luxury, sick in soul rather than in body-if only we cease to shudder at death. And we shall cease, if once we have gained a knowledge of the limits of good and evil; then, and then only, life will not weary us, neither will death make us afraid. For surfeit of self can never seize upon a life that surveys all the things which are manifold, great, divine; only idle leisure is wont to make men hate their lives.  To one who roams through the universe, the truth can pall; it will be the untruths that will cloy. And, on the other hand, if death comes near with its summons, even though it be untimely in its arrival, though it cut one off in one's prime, a man has had a taste of all that the longest life can give. Such a man has in great measure to understand the universe. He knows that honourable things do not depend on time for their growth; but any life must seem short to those who measure its length by pleasures which are empty and for that reason unbounded.

    Refresh yourself with such thoughts as these, and meanwhile reserve some hours for our letters. There will come a time when we shall be united again and brought together; however short this time may be, we shall make it long by knowing how to employ it. For, as Posidonius says: "A single day among the learned lasts longer than the longest life among the ignorant." Meanwhile, hold fast to this thought, and grip it close: yield not to adversity; trust not to prosperity; keep before your eyes the full scope of Fortune's power, as if she would surely do whatever is in her power to do. That which has been long expected comes more gently. Farewell.   

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On the Natural Fear of Death

     I have already ceased to be anxious about you.  "Whom then of the gods," you ask, "have you found as your voucher?"  A god, let me tell you, who deceives no one,-a soul in love with that which is upright and good.  The better part of you is on safe ground.  Fortune can inflict injury upon you; what is more pertinent is that I have no fears lest you do injury to yourself.  Proceed as you have begun, and settle yourself in this way of living, not luxuriously, but calmly.  I prefer to be in trouble rather than in luxury; and you had better interpret the term "in trouble" as popular usage is wont to interpret it: living a "hard," "rough," "toilsome life.  We are wont to hear the lives of certain men praised as follows, when they are objects of unpopularity:  "So-and-So lives luxuriously"; but by this they mean: "He is softened by luxury."  For the soul is made womanish by degrees, and is weakened until it matches the ease and laziness in which it lies.  Lo, is it not better for one who is really a man even to become hardened?  Next, these same dandies fear that which they have made their own lives resemble.  Much difference is there between lying idle and lying buried!  "But," you say, "is it not better even to lie idle than to whirl round in these eddies of business distraction?"  Both extremes are to be deprecated-both tension and sluggishness.  I hold that he who lies on a perfumed couch is no less dead than he who is dragged along by the executioner's hook.

    Leisure without study is death; it is a tomb for the living man.  What then is the advantage of retirement?  As if the real causes of our anxieties did not follow us across the seas!  What hiding-place is there, where the fear of death does not enter?  What peaceful haunts are there, so fortified and so far withdrawn that pain does not fill them with fear?  Wherever you hide yourself, human ills will make uproar all around.  There are many external thins which compass us about, to deceive us or to weigh upon us; there are many things within which, even amid solitude, fret and ferment.

    Therefore, grid yourself about with philosophy an impregnable wall.  Though it be assaulted by many engines, Fortune can find no passage into it.  The soul stands on unassailable ground, if it has abandoned external things; it is independent in its own fortress; and every weapon that is hurled falls short of the mark.  Fortune has not the long reach with which we credit her; she can seize none except him that clings to her.  Let us then recoil from her as far as we are able.  This will be possible for us only through knowledge of self and the world of Nature.  The soul should know  whither it is going and whence it came, what is good for it and what is evil, what it seeks and what it avoids, and what is that Reason which distinguishes between the desirable and the undesirable, and thereby tames the madness of our desires and calms the violence of our fears.

    Some men flatter themselves that they have checked these evils by themselves even without the aid of philosophy; but when some accident catches them off their guard, a tardy confession of error is wrung from.  Their boastful words perish from their tips when the torturers command them to stretch forth their hands, and when death draws nearer!  You might say to such a man: "It was easy for you to challenge evils that were not   near-by; but here comes pain, which you declared you could endure; here comes death, against which you uttered many a courageous boast! The whip cracks, the sword flashes:   "Ah now, Aeneas, thou must needs be stout and strong of heart!"  This strength of heart, however, will come from constant study, provided that you practice, not with the tongue but with the soul, and provided that you prepare yourself to meet death.  To enable yourself to meet death, you may expect no encouragement or cheer from those who try to make you believe, by means of their hair splitting logic, that death is no evil.  For I take pleasure, excellent Lucilius, in poking fun at the absurdities of the Greeks, of which, to my continual surprise, I have not yet succeeded in ridding myself.  Our master Zeno uses a syllogism like this: "No evil is glorious; but death is glorious; therefore death is no evil.'  A cure, Zeno!  I have been freed from fear; henceforth I shall not hesitate to bare my neck on the scaffold.  Will you not utter sterner words instead of rousing a dying man to laughter?  Indeed, Lucilius, I could not easily tell you whether he who thought that he was quenching the fear of death by setting up this syllogism was the more foolish, or he who attempted to refute it, just as if it had anything to do with the matter!  For the refuter himself proposed a counter-syllogism, based upon proposition that we regard death as "indifferent," - one of the things which the Greeks call      ."Nothing," he says,  "that is indifferent can be glorious; death is glorious; therefore death is not indifferent."  You comprehend the tricky fallacy which is contained in this syllogism: mere death is, in fact, not glorious; but a brave death is glorious.  And when you say:  "nothing that is indifferent is glorious," I grant you this much and declare that nothing is glorious except as it deals with indifferent  things.  I classify as "indifferent," -that is, neither good nor evil,- sickness, pain, poverty, exile, death.  None if these things is intrinsically glorious; but nothing can be glorious apart from them.  For it is not poverty that we praise, it is the man whom poverty cannot humble or bend.  Nor is it exile that we praise it is the man who withdraws into exile in the spirit in which he would have sent another into exile.  It is not pain that we praise, it is the man whom pain has not coerced.  One praises not death, but the man whose soul death takes away before it can confound it.  All these things are in themselves neither honourable nor glorious; but any one of them that virtue has visited and touched is made honourable and glorious by virtue; they merely lie in between, and the decisive question is only whether wickedness or virtue has laid hold upon them.  For instance, the death which in Cato's case is glorious is in the case of Brutus forthwith base and disgraceful.  For this Brutus forthwith base and disgraceful.  For this Brutus, condemned to death, was trying to obtain postponement; he withdrew a moment in order to ease himself; when summoned to die and ordered to bare his throat.  he exclaimed:  "I will bare my throat, if only I may live!"  What madness it is to run away, when it is impossible to turn back!  “I will bare my throat if only I may live!"  He came very near saying also: "even under Antony!"  This fellow deserved indeed to be consigned to life!

    But, as I was going on to remark, you see that death in itself is neither an evil nor a good;  Cato experienced death most honourably, Brutus most basely.  Everything, if you add virtue, assumes a glory which it did not possess before.  We speak of a sunny room, even though the same room is pitch-dark at night.  It is the day which fills it with light, and the night which steals the light away; this it is with the things which we call indifferent and "middle," like riches, strength, beauty, titles, kingship, and their opposites,-death, exile, ill-health, pain, and all such evils, the fear of which upsets us to a greater or less extent; it is the wickedness or the virtue that bestows the name of good or evil. An object is not by its own essence either hot or cold; it is heated when thrown into a furnace, and chilled when dropped into water.  Death is honourable when related to that which is honourable; by this I mean virtue and a soul that despises the worst hardships.

    Furthermore, there are vast distractions among these qualities which we call "middle." For example, death is not as indifferent as the question whether your hair should be worn evenly or unevenly.  Death belongs among those things which are not indeed evils, but still have in them a semblance of evil; for there are implanted in us love of self, a desire for existence and self-preservation, and also an abhorrence of dissolution, because death seems to rob us of many goods and to withdraw us from the abundance to which we have become accustomed.  And there is another element which estranges us from death: we are already familiar with the present, but are ignorant of the future into which we shall transfer ourselves, and we shrink from the unknown.  Moreover, it is natural to fear the world of shades, whither death is supposed to lead.  Therefore, although death is something indifferent, it is nevertheless not a thing which we can easily ignore.  The soul must be hardened by long practice, so that it may learn to endure the sight and the approach of death. 

    Death ought to be despised more than it is wont to be despised.  For we believe too many of the stories about death.  Many thinkers have striven hard to increase its ill repute; they have portrayed the prison in the world below and the land over-whelmed by everlasting night, where  "Within his bloodstained cave Hell's wander huge /  Doth sprawl his ugly length on half-crunched bones, / And terrifies the disembodied ghosts With never-ceasing bark."   Even if you can win your point and prove that these are mere stories and that noting is left for the dead to fear, another fear steals upon you.  For the fear of going to the underworld is equally by the fear of going nowhere.

    In the face of these notions, which long-standing opinion has dinned in our ears, how can brave endurance of death be anything else than glorious, and fit to rank among the greatest accomplishments of the human mind?  For the mind will never rise to virtue if it believes that death is an evil; but it will so rise if it holds that death is a matter of indifference.  It is not in the order of nature that a man shall proceed with a great heart to a destiny which he believes to be evil; he will go sluggishly and with reluctance.  But nothing glorious can result from unwillingness and cowardice; virtue does nothing under compulsion.  Besides, no deed that a man does is honourable unless he has devoted himself thereto and attended to it with all his heart, rebelling against it with no portion of his being.  When, however, a man goes to face an evil, either through fear of worse evils or in the hope of goods whose attainment is of sufficient moment to him that he can swallow the one evil which he must endure,-in that case the judgment of the agent is drawn in two directions.  On the one side is the motive which bids him carry out his purpose; on the other, the motive which restrains him and makes him flee from something which has aroused his apprehension or leads to danger.  Hence hi is torn in different directions; and if this happens, the glory of his act is gone.  For virtue accomplishes its plans only  when the spirit is in harmony with itself.  There is no element of fear in any of its actions.   "Yield not to evils, but, still braver, go where'er thy fortune shall allow."  You cannot "still braver go," if you are persuaded that those things are the real evils.  Root out this idea from your soul; otherwise your apprehensions will remain undecided and will thus check the impulse to action.  You will be pushed into that towards which you ought to advance like a soldier.

    Those of our school, it is true, would have men of these men did not grow lumpy in their mouths, or stick in their throats, or slip from their fingers; eagerly did they accept the invitation to breakfast, and to supper also!  Think, too, of the famous Roman general; his soldiers had been dispatched to seize a position, and when they were about to make their way through a huge army of the enemy, he addressed them with the words:  "You must go now, fellow-soldiers, to yonder place, whence there is no 'must' about your returning!"

    You see, then, how straightforward and peremptory virtue is; but what man on earth can your deceptive logic make more courageous or more upright?  Rather does it break the spirit, which should never be less straitened or forced to deal with petty and thorny problems than when some great work is being planned.  It is not the Three Hundred; -it is all mankind that should be relieved of the fear of death.  But how can you prove to all those men that death is no evil?  How can you overcome the notions of all our past life,-notions with which we are tinged from our infancy?  What succour can you discover for man's helplessness?  What can you say that will make men rush, burning with zeal, into the midst of danger?  By what persuasive speech can you turn aside this universal feeling of fear, by  what strength of wit can you turn aside the conviction of the human race which steadfastly opposes you?  Do you propose to construct catchwords for me, or to string together petty syllogisms?  It takes great weapons to strike down great monsters.  You recall the fierce serpent in Africa, more frightful to the Roman legions than the war itself, and assailed in vain by arrows and slings; it could not be wounded even by "Pythius," since its huge size, and the toughness which matched its bulk, made spears, or any weapon hurled by the hand of man, glance off.  It was finally destroyed by rocks equal in size to millstones.  Are you, then, hurling petty weapons like yours even against death?  Can you stop a lion's charge by an awl?  Your arguments are indeed sharp; but there is nothing sharper than a stalk of grain.  And certain arguments are rendered useless and unavailing by their very subtlety.  Farewell.

On Scipio's Villa

     I am resting at the country-house which once belonged to Scipio Africanus himself; and I write to you after doing reverence to his spirit and to an altar which I am incline to think is the tomb of that great warrior.  That his soul has indeed returned to the skies, whence it came, I am convinced, not because he commanded mighty armies-from Cambyses also had mighty armies, and Cambyses was a mad-man who made successful use of his madness-but because he showed moderation and a sense of duty to a marvellous extent.  I regard this trait in him as more admirable after his withdrawal from his native land than while he was defending her; for there was the alternative:  Scipio should remain in Rome, or Rome should remain free.  "It is my wish," said he, "not to infringe in the least upon our laws, or upon our customs, let all Roman citizens have equal rights.  O my country makes the most of the good that I have done, but without me.  I have been the cause of your freedom, and I shall also be its proof; I go into exile, if it is true that I have grown beyond what is to your advantage!" 

    What can i do but admire this magnanimity, which led him to withdraw into voluntary exile and to relieve the stat of its burden?  Matters had gone so far that either liberty must work harm to Scipio, or Scipio to liberty.  Either of these things was wrong in the sight of heaven.  So he gave way to the laws and withdrew to Liternum, thinking to make the state a debtor for his own exile no less than for the exile of Hannibal.\    I have inspected the house, which is constructed of hewn stone; the wall which encloses a forest; the towers also, buttressed out on both sides for the purpose of defending the house; the well, concealed among buildings and shrubbery, large enough to keep a whole army supplied; and  the small bath, buried in darkness according to the old style, for our ancestors did not think that one could have a hot bath except in darkness.  It was therefore a great pleasure to me to contrast Scipio's ways with our own.  Think, in this tiny recess the "terror of Carthage," to whom Rome should offer thanks because she was not captured more than once, used to bathe a body wearied with work in the fields!  For he was accustomed to keep himself busy and to cultivate the soil with his own hands, as the good old Romans were wont to do.  Beneath this dingy roof he stood; and this floor, mean as it is, bore his weight.

    But who in these days could bear to bathe in such a fashion?  We think ourselves poor and mean if our walls are not resplendent with large and costly mirrors; if our marbles from Alexandria are not set off by mosaics of Numidian stone, if their borders are not faced over on all sides with difficult patterns, arranged in may colours like paintings; if our vaulted ceilings are not buried in glass;  if our swimming-pools are not line with Thasian marble, once a rare and wonderful sight in any temple-pools into which we let down our bodies after they have been drained weak by abundant perspiration; and finally, if the water has not poured from silver spigots.  I have so far been speaking of the ordinary bathing-establishments; what shall I say when I come to those of the freemen?  What a vast number of statues, of columns that support nothing, but are built for decoration, merely in order to spend money!  And what masses of water that fall crashing from level to level!  We have become so luxurious that we will have nothing but precious stones to walk upon.

    In this bath of Scipio's there are tiny chinks-you cannot call them windows-cut out of the stone wall in such a way as to admit light without weakening the fortifications; nowadays, however, people regard baths as fit only for moths if they have not been arranged that they receive the sun all day long through the widest of windows, if men cannot bathe and get a coat of tan at the same time, and if they cannot look out from their bath-tubs over stretches of land and sea.  So it goes; the establishments which had drawn crowds and had won admiration when thy were first opened are avoided and put back in the category of venerable antiques as soon as luxury has worked out some new device, to her own ultimate undoing.  In the early days, however, there were few baths, and they were not fitted out with any display.  For why should men elaborately fit out that which costs a penny only, and was invented for use, not merely for delight?  The bathers of those days did not have water poured over them, nor did it always run fresh as if from a hot spring; and they did not believe that it mattered at all how perfectly pure was the water into which they were to leave their dirt.  Ye gods, what a pleasure it is to enter that dark bath, covered with a common sort of roof, knowing that therein your hero Cato, as aedile, or Fabius Maximus, or one of the Cornelii, has warmed the water with his own hands!  For this also used to be the duty of the noblest aediles -to enter these places to which the populace resorted, and to demand that they be cleaned and warmed to a heat required by considerations of use and health, not the heat that men have recently mad fashionable, as great as a conflagration-so much so, indeed, that a slave condemned for some criminal offence now ought to be bathed alive!  It seems to me that nowadays there is no difference between "the bath is on fire." and 'the bath is warm."

    How some persons nowadays condemn Scipio as a boor because he did not let daylight into his perspiring-room through wide windows or because he did not roast in the strong sunlight and dawdle about until he could stew in the hot water!  "Poor fool," they say, "He did not know how to live!  He did not bathe in filtered water; it was often turbid, and after heavy rains almost muddy!"  But it did not matter much to Scipio if he had to bathe in that way; he went there to wash off sweat, not ointment.  And how do you suppose certain persons will answer me?  They will say:  "I don't envy Scipio; that was truly an exile's life-to put up with baths like those!"  Friend, if you were wiser, you would know that Scipio did not bathe every day.  It is stated by those who have reported to us the old-time ways of Rome that the Romans washed only their arms and legs daily-because those were the members which gathered dirt in their daily toil-and bathed all over only once a week.  Here someone will retort:  "Yes; pretty dirty fellows they evidently were!  How they mist have smelled!"  But they smelled of the camp, the farm, and heroism.  Now that spick-and-span bathing establishments have been devised, men are really fouler than of yore.  What says Horatius Flaccus, when he wishes to describe a scoundrel, one who is notorious for his extreme luxury?  He says: "Buccillus smells of perfume."  Show me a Buccillus in these days; his smell would be the veritable goat-smell-he would take the place of the Gargonius with whom Horace in the same passage contrasted him.  It is nowadays not enough to use ointment, unless you put on a fresh coat two or three times a day, to keep it from evaporating on the body.  But why should a man boast of this perfume as if it were his own?

    If what I am saying shall seem to you too pessimistic, charge it up against Scipio's country-house, where I have learned a lesson from Aegialus, a most careful householder and now the owner of this estate; he taught me that a tree can be transplanted, no matter how far gone in years.  We old men must learn this precept; for there is none of us who is not planting an olive-yard for his successor.  I have seen them bearing fruit in due season after three or four years of unproductiveness.  And you too shall be shaded by the tree which "is slow to grow, but bringeth shade to cheer your grandsons in the far-off years," as our poet Vergil says.  Vergil sought, however, not what was nearest to the truth, but what was most appropriate, and aimed, not to teach the farmer, but to please the reader.  For example, omitting all other errors of his, I will quote the passage in which it was incumbent upon me to-day to detect a fault:  "In spring sow beans; then too, O clover plant, thou’rt welcomed by the crumbling furrows; and the millet calls for yearly care."  You may judge by the following incident whether those plants should be set out at the same time, or whether both should be sowed in the spring.  It is June at the present writing, and we are well on towards July; and I have seen on this very day farmers harvesting beans and sowing millet....

    I do not intend to tell you any more of these precepts, lest as Aegialus did with me, I may be training you up to be my competitor.  Farewell.

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Some Arguments in Favour of the Simple Life
 
    "I was shipwrecked before I got aboard."  I shall not add how that happened, lest you may reckon this also as another of the Stoic paradoxes; and yet I shall, whenever you are willing to listen, nay, even though you be unwilling, prove to you that these words are by no means untrue, nor so surprising as one at first sight would think.  Meantime, the journey showed me this: how easily we can make up our minds to do away with things whose loss, whenever it is necessary to part with them, we do not feel.

    My friend Maximus and I have been spending a most happy period of two days, taking with us very few slaves-one carriage-load-and no paraphernalia except what we wore on our persons.  The mattress lies on the ground, and I upon the mattress.  There are two rugs-one to spread beneath us and one to cover us.  Nothing could have been subtracted from our luncheon; it took not more than an hour to prepare, and we were nowhere without dried figs, never without writing tablets.  If I have bread, I used figs as a relish; if not, I regard figs as a substitute for bread.  Hence they bring me a New Year feast every day, good thoughts and greatness of soul; for the soul is never greater than when it has laid aside all extraneous things, and has secured peace for itself by fearing nothing, and riches by craving no riches.  The vehicle in which I have taken my seat is a farmer's cart.  Only by walking do the mules show that they are alive.  The driver is barefoot, and not because it is summer either.  I can scarcely force myself to wish that others shall think this cart mine.  My false embarrassment about the truth still holds out, you see; and whenever we meet a more sumptuous party I blush in spite of myself-proof that this conduct which I approve and applaud has not yet gained a firm and steadfast dwelling-place within me.  He who blushes at riding in a rattle-trap will boast when he rides in style.

    So my progress is still insufficient.  I have not yet the courage openly to acknowledge my thriftiness.  Even yet I am bothered by what other travellers think of me.  But instead of this, I should really have uttered an opinion counter to that in which mankind believe, saying, "You are mad, you are misled, your admiration devotes itself to superfluous things!  You estimate no man at his real worth.  When property is concerned, you reckon up in this way with most scrupulous calculation those to whom you shall lend either money or benefits; for by now you enter benefits also as payments in your ledger.  You say: 'His estates are wide, but his debts are large.'  'He has a fine house, but he has built it on borrowed capital.'  'No man will display a more brilliant retinue on short notice, but he cannot meet his debts.'  'If he pays off his creditors, he will have nothing left.'"  So you will feel bound to do in all other case as well,-to find out by elimination the amount of every man's actual possessions.

    I suppose you call a man rich just because his gold plate goes with him even on his travels: because he farms land in all the provinces, because he unrolls a large account-book, because he owns estates near the city so great that men would grudge his holding them in the waste lands of Apulia.  But after you have mentioned all these facts, he is poor.  And why?  He is in debt. "To what extent?" you ask.  For all that he has.  Or perchance you think it matters whether one has borrowed from another man or from Fortune.  What good is there in mules caparisoned in uniform livery?  Or in decorated chariots and “Steeds decked with purple and with tapestry, / With golden harness hanging from their necks,  /  Champing their yellow bits, all clothed in gold?  / Neither master nor mule is improved by such trappings."

    Marcus Cato the Censor, whose existence helped the stat as much as die Scipio's - for while Scipio fought against our enemies, Cato fought against bad morals,-used to ride a donkey, and a donkey, at that, which carried saddle-bags containing the master's necessaries.  O how I should love to see him meet to-day on the road one of our coxcombs, with his outriders and Numidians, and a great cloud of dust before him!  Your dandy would no doubt seem refined and well-attended in comparison with Marcus Cato, - your dandy, who, in the midst of all his luxurious paraphernalia, is chiefly concerned whether to turn his hand to the sword or to the hunting-knife.  O what a glory to the times in which he lived, for a general who had celebrated a triumph, a censor, and what is most noteworthy of all, a Cato, to be content with a single nag, and with less than a whole nag at that!  For part of the animal was pre-empted by the baggage that hung down on either flank.  Would you not therefore prefer Cato's steed, that single steed, saddle-worn by Cato himself, to the coxcomb's whole retinue of plump ponies, Spanish cobs, and trotters?  I see that there will be no end in dealing with such a theme unless I make an end myself.  So I shall now become silent, at least with reference to superfluous things like these; doubtless the man who first called them "hindrances" had a prophetic inkling that they would be the very sort of thing they now are.  At present I should like to deliver to you the syllogisms, as yet very few, belonging to our school and bearing upon the question of virtue, which, in our opinion, is sufficient for the happy life.

    "That which is good makes men good.  For example, that which is good in the art of music makes the musician.  But chance events do not make a good man; therefore, chance events are not goods."  The Peripatetics reply to this by saying that the premise is false; that men do not in every case become good by means of that which is good; that in music there is something good, like a flute, a harp, or an organ suited to accompany singing; but  that none of these instruments makes the musician.  We shall then reply:  "You do not understand in what sense we have used the phrase 'that which is good in music.'  For we do not mean that which equips the musician, but that which makes the musician; you, however, are referring to the instruments of the art, and not to the art itself.  If, however, anything in the art of music is good, that will in every case make the musician."  And I should like to put this idea still more clearly.  We define the good in the art of music in two ways: first, that by which the performance of the musician is assisted, and second, that by which his art is assisted.  Now the musical instruments have to do with his performance,-such as flutes and organs and harps; but they do not have to do with the musician's art itself.  For he is an artist even without them; he may perhaps be lacking in the ability to practice his art.  But the good in man is not in the same way twofold; for the good of man and the good of life are the same.

    "That which can fall to the lot of any man, no matter how base or despised he may be, is not a good.  But wealth falls to the lot of the pander and the trainer of gladiators; therefore wealth is not a good."  "Another wrong premise," they say, "for we notice that goods fall to the lot of the very lowest sort of men, not only in the scholar's art, but also in the art of healing or in the art of navigating."  These arts, however, make no profession of greatness of soul; they do not rise to any heights nor do they frown upon what fortune may bring.  It is virtue that uplifts man and places him superior to what mortals hold dear; virtue neither craves overmuch nor fears to excess that which is called good or that which is called bad.  Chelidon, one of Cleopatra's eunuchs, possessed great wealth; and recently Natalis -a man whose tongue was a shameless as it was dirty, a man whose mouth used to perform the vilest offices-was the heir of many, and also made many his heirs.  What then?  Was it his money that made him unclean, or did he himself besmirch his money? Money tumbles into the hands of certain men as a shilling tumbles down a sewer.  Virtue stands above all such things.  It is appraised in coin of its own minting; and it deems none of these random wind-falls to be good.  But medicine and navigation do not forbid themselves and their followers to marvel at such things.  One who is not a good man can nevertheless be a physician, or a pilot, or a scholar,-yes, just as well as he can be a cook!  He to whose lot it falls to possess something which is not of a random sort, cannot be called a random sort of man; a person is of the same sort as that which he possesses.  A strong-box is worth just what it holds; or rather, it is a mere accessory of that which it holds.  Who ever sets any price upon a full purse except the price established by the count of the money deposited therein?  This also applies to the owners of great estates: they are only accessories and incidentals to their possessions.

    Why, then, is the wise man great?  Because he has a great soul.  Accordingly, it is true that that which falls to the lot even of the most despicable person is not a good. Thus, I should never regard inactivity as a good; for even the tree-frog and the flea possess this quality.  Nor should I regard rest and freedom from trouble as a good; for what is more at leisure than a worm?  Do you ask what it is that produces the wise man?  That which produces a god.  You must grant that the wise man has an element of godliness, heavenliness, grandeur.  The good does not come to every one, nor does it allow any random person to possess it.  Behold:  "What fruits each country bears, or will not bear; / here corn, and there the vine grow richly. / And elsewhere still the tender tree and grass /   Unbidden clothe themselves in green.  Seest thou / How Tmolus ships its saffron perfumes forth, / and ivory comes from India; soft Sheba sends / its incense, and the unclad Chalybes / their iron."   These products are apportioned to separate countries in order that human beings may be constrained to traffic among themselves, each seeking something from his neighbour in his turn.  So the Supreme Good has also its own abode.  It does not grow where ivory grows, or iron.  Do you ask where the Supreme Good dwells?  In the soul:  and unless the soul be pure and holy, there is no room in it for God.

    "Good does not result from evil.  But riches result from greed; therefore riches are not a good."  "It is not true," they say, "that good does not result from evil.  For money comes from sacrilege and theft.  Accordingly, although sacrilege and theft are evil, yet they are evil only because they work more evil than good.  For they bring gain; but the gain is accompanied by fear, anxiety, and torture of mind and body."  Whoever says this must perforce admit that sacrilege, though it is an evil because it works much evil, is yet partly good because it accomplishes a certain amount of good.  What can be more monstrous than this, we have, to be sure, actually convinced the world that sacrilege, theft, and adultery are to be regarded as among the goods.  How many men there are who do not blush at theft, how many who boast of having committed adultery!  For petty sacrilege is punished, but sacrilege on a grand scale is honoured by a triumphal procession.  Besides, sacrilege, if it is wholly good in some respect, will also be honourable and will be called right conduct; for it is conduct which concerns us.  But no human being, on a serious consideration, admits this idea.

    Therefore, goods cannot spring from evil.  For if, as you object sacrilege is an evil for the single reason that it brings on much evil, if you but absolve sacrilege of its punishment and pledge it immunity, sacrilege will be wholly good.  And yet the worse punishment for crimes lies in the crime itself.  You are mistaken, I maintain, if you propose to reserve your punishments for the hangman or the prison; the crime is punished immediately after it is committed; nay, rather, at the moment when it is committed.  Hence, good does not spring from evil, any more than figs grow from olive-trees.  Things which grow correspond to their seed; and goods cannot depart from their class.  As that which is honourable does not grow from that which is base, so neither does good grow from evil.    For the honourable and the good are identical.

    Certain of our school oppose this statement as follows:  "Let us suppose that money taken from any source whatsoever is a good; even though it is taken by an act of sacrilege, the money does not on that account derive its origin from sacrilege.  You may get my meaning through the following illustration:  In the same jar there is a piece of gold and there is a serpent.  If you take the gold from the jar, it is not just because the serpent is there too, I say, that the jar yields me the gold-because it contains the serpent as well,-but it yields the gold in spite of containing the serpent also.  Similarly, gain results from sacrilege, not just because sacrilege is a base and accursed act, but because it contains gain also.  As the serpent in the jar is an evil, and not the gold which lies there beside the serpent; so in an act of sacrilege it is the crime, not the profit that is evil."  But I differ from these men; for the conditions in each case are not at all the same.  In the one instance I can take the gold without the serpent, in the other I cannot make the profit without committing the sacrilege.  The gain in the latter case does not lie side by side with the crime; it is blended with the crime.

    "That which, while we desire to attain it, involves us in many evils, is not a good.  But while we desire to attain riches, we become involved in many evils; therefore, riches are not a good."  "You first premise," they say, "contains two meanings; one is: we become involved in many evils while we desire to attain riches.  But we also become involved in many evils while we desire to attain virtue.  One man, while travelling in order to prosecute his studies, suffers shipwreck, and another is taken captive.  The second meaning is as follows: that through which we become involved in evils is not a good.  And it will not logically follow from our proposition that we become involved in evils through riches or through pleasure; otherwise, if it is through riches that we become involved in many evils, riches are not only not a good, but they are positively an evil.  You, however, maintain merely that they are not a good.  Moreover," the objector says, "you grant that riches are of some use.  You reckon them among the advantages: and yet on this basis they cannot even be an advantage, for it is through the pursuit of riches that we suffer much disadvantage."  Certain men answer this objection as follows:  "You are mistaken if you ascribe disadvantages to riches.  Riches injure no one; it is a man's own folly, or his neighbour’s wickedness that harms him in each case, just as a sword by itself does not slay; it is merely the weapon used by the slayer.  Riches themselves do not harm you, just because it is merely the weapon used by the slayer.  Riches themselves do not harm you, just because it is on account of riches that you suffer harm."

    I think that the reasoning of Posidonius is better: he holds that riches are a cause of evil, not because, of themselves, they do any evil, but because they goad men on so that they are ready to do evil.  For the efficient cause, which necessarily produces harm at once, is one thing, and the antecedent cause is another.  It is this antecedent cause which inheres in riches; they puff up the spirit and beget pride, they bring on unpopularity and unsettle the mind to such an extent that the mere reputation of having wealth, though it is bound to harm us, nevertheless affords delight.  All goods, however, ought properly to be free from blame; they are pure, they do not corrupt the spirit, and they do not tempt us.  They do indeed, uplift and broaden the spirit, but without puffing it up.  Those things which are goods produce confidence, but riches produce shamelessness.   The things which are goods give us greatness of soul, but riches give us arrogance.  And arrogance is nothing else than a false show of greatness.

    "According to that argument," the objector says, 'riches are not only not a good, but are a positive evil."  Now they would be an evil if they did harm of themselves, and if as I remarked, it were the efficient cause which inheres in them; in fact, however, it is the antecedent cause which inheres in  riches, and indeed it is that cause which, so far from merely arousing the spirit, actually drags it along by force.  Yes, riches shower upon us a semblance of the good, which is like the reality and wins credence in the eyes of many men.  The antecedent cause inheres in virtue also, it is this which brings on envy-for many men become unpopular because of their wisdom, and many men because of their justice.  But this cause, though it inheres in virtue, is not the result of virtue itself, nor is it a mere semblance of the reality: nay on the contrary, far more like the reality is that vision which is flashed by virtue upon the spirits of men, summoning them to love it and marvel thereat.

      Posidonius thinks that the syllogism should be framed a follows:  "Things which bestow upon the soul no greatness or confidence or freedom from care are not goods.  But riches and health and similar conditions do none of these things; therefore, riches and health are not goods."  This syllogism he then goes on to extend still further in the following way:  "Things which bestow upon the soul no greatness or confidence or freedom from care, but on the other hand create in it arrogance, vanity, and insolence, are evils.  But things which are the gift of Fortune drive us into these evil ways.  Therefore these things are not goods."  "But," says the objector, "by such reasoning, things which are the gift of Fortune will not even be advantages."  No, advantages and goods stand each in a different situation.  An advantage is that which contains more of usefulness than of annoyance: but a good to be unmixed and with no element in it of harmfulness.  A thing is not good if it contains more benefit.  Besides, advantages may be predicated of animals, of men who are less than perfect, and of fools.  Hence the advantageous may have an element of disadvantage mingled with it, but the word "advantageous" is used of the compound because it is judged by its predominant element.  The good, however, can be predicated of the wise man alone; it is bound to be without alloy.

    Be a good cheer; there is only one knot left for you to untangle, though it is a knot for a Hercules:  "Good does not result from evil.  But riches result from numerous cases of poverty; therefore, riches are not a good."  This syllogism is not recognized by our school, but the Peripatetics both concoct it and give its solution.  Posidonius, however, remarks that this fallacy, which has been bandied about among all the schools of dialectic, is refuted by Antipater as follows:  "The work 'Poverty' is used to denote, not the possession of something, but the non-possession or, as the ancients have put it deprivation, (for the Greeks use the phrase 'by deprivation,' meaning 'negatively').  'Poverty' states not what a man has, but what he has not.  Consequently there can be no fullness resulting from a multitude of voids; many positive things, and many deficiencies, make up riches.  You have," says he, "a wrong notion of the meaning of what poverty is.  For poverty does not mean the possession of little, but the non -possession of much; it is used, therefore, not of what a man has, but of what he lacks.  "I could express my meaning more easily if there were a Latin word which could translate the Greek word which means "not-possessing."  Antipater assigns this quality too poverty, but for my part I cannot see what else poverty is than the possession of little.  If ever we have plenty of leisure, we shall investigate the question; What is the essence of riches, and what the essence of poverty; but when the time comes, we shall also consider whether it is not better to try to mitigate poverty, and to relieve wealth of its arrogance, than to quibble about the words as if the question of the things were already decided.

    Let us suppose that we have been summoned to an assembly; an act dealing with the abolition of riches has been brought before the meeting.  Shall we be supporting it, or opposing it, if we use these syllogisms?  Will these syllogisms help us to bring it about that the Roman people shall demand poverty and praise it-poverty, the foundation and cause of their empire,-and, on the other hand, shall shrink in fear from their present wealth, reflecting that they have found it among the victims of their conquests, that wealth is the source from which office-seeking and bribery and disorder have burst into a city once characterized by the utmost scrupulousness and sobriety, and that because of wealth an exhibition all too lavish is made of the spoils of conquered nations; reflecting, finally, that whatever one people has snatched away from all the rest may still more easily be snatched by all away from one?  Nay, it was better to support this law by our conduct and to subdue our desires by direct assault rather than to circumvent them by logic.  If we can, let us speak more boldly; if not, let us speak more frankly.

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On Consolation to the Bereaved


     I enclose a copy of the letter which I wrote to Marullus at the time when he had lost his little son and was reported to be rather womanish in his grief--a letter in which I have not observed the usual form of condolence:  for I did not believe that he should be handled gently, since in my opinion he deserved criticism rather than consolation.  When a man is stricken and is finding it most difficult to endure a grievous wound, one must humour him for a while; let him satisfy his grief or at any rate work off the first shock; but those who have assumed an indulgence in grief should be rebuked forthwith, and should learn that there are certain follies even in tears.

    "Is it solace that you look for?  Let me give you a scolding instead!  You are like a woman in the way you take your son's death; what would you do if you had lost an intimate friend?  A son, a little child of unknown promise, is dead; a fragment of time has been lost.  We hunt out excuses for grief; we would even utter unfair complaints about Fortune, as if Fortune would never give us just reason for complaining!  But I had really thought that you possessed spirit enough to deal with concrete troubles, to say nothing of the shadowy troubles over which men make moan through force of habit.  Had you lost a friend (which is the greatest blow of all), you would have had to endeavour rather to rejoice because you had possessed him than to mourn because you had lost him.

    "But many men fail to count up how manifold their gains have been, how great their rejoicings.  Grief like yours has this among other evils:  it is not only useless, but thankless.  Has it then all been for nothing that you have had such a friend?  During so many years, amid such close associations, after such intimate communion of personal interests, has nothing been accomplished?  Do you bury friendship along with a friend?  And why lament having lost him, if it be of no avail to have possessed him?  Believe me, a great part of those we have loved, though chance has removed their persons, still abides with us.  The past is ours, and there is nothing more secure for us than that which has been.  We are ungrateful for past gains, because we hope for the future, as if the future--if so be that any future is ours--will not be quickly blended with the past.  People set a narrow limit to their enjoyments if they take pleasure only in the present; both the future and the past serve for our delight--the one with anticipation, and the other with memories--but the one is contingent and may not come to pass, while the other must have been.

    "What madness it is, therefore, to lose our grip on that which is the surest thing of all?  Let us rest content with the pleasures we have quaffed in past days, if only, while we quaffed them, the soul was not pierced like a sieve, only to lose again whatever it had received.  There are countless cases of men who have without tears buried sons in the prime of manhood--men who have returned from the funeral pyre to the Senate chamber, or to any other official duties, and have straightway busied themselves with something else.  And rightly; for in the first place it is idle to grieve if you get no help from grief.  In the second place, it is unfair to complain about what has happened to one man but is in store for all.  Again, it is foolish to lament one's loss, when there is such a slight interval between the lost and the loser.  Hence we should be more resigned in spirit, because we follow closely those whom we have lost.

    "Note the rapidity of Time--that swiftest of things; consider the shortness of the course along which we hasten at top speed; mark this throng of humanity, all straining toward the same point with briefest intervals between them--even when they seem longest; he whom you count as passed away has simply posted on ahead.  And what is more irrational than to bewail your predecessor, when you yourself must ravel on the same journey?  Does a man bewail an event which he knew would take place?  Or, if he did not think of death as man's lot, he has but cheated himself.  Does a man bewail an event which he has been admitting to be unavoidable?  Whoever complains about the death of anyone is complaining that he was a man.  Everyone is bound by the same terms:  he who is privileged to be born, is destined to die.  Periods of time separate us, but death levels us.  The period which lie between our first day and our last is shifting and uncertain:  if you reckon it by its troubles, it is long even to a lad, if by its speed, it is scanty even to a greybeard.  Everything is slippery, treacherous, and more shifting than any weather.  All things are tossed about and shift into their opposites at the bidding of Fortune; amid such a turmoil of mortal affairs nothing but death is surely in store for anyone.  And yet all men complain about the one thing wherein none of them is deceived.  'But he died in boyhood.'  I am not yet prepared to say that he who quickly comes to the end of his life has the better of the bargain; let us turn to consider the case of him who has grown to old age.  How very little is he superior to the child!  Place before your mind's eye the vast spread of time's abyss, and consider the universe; and then contrast our so-called human life with infinity:  you will then see how scant is that for which we pray, and which we seek to lengthen.  How much of this time is taken up with weeping, how much with worry!  How much with prayers for death before death arrives, how much with our health, how much with our fears!  How much is occupied by our years of inexperience or of useless endeavour!  And half of all this time is wasted in sleeping.  Add, besides, our toils, our grief, our dangers--and you will comprehend that even in the longest life real living is the least portion thereof.  Nevertheless, who will make such an admission as:  'A man is not better off who is allowed to return home quickly, whose journey is accomplished before he is wearied out'?  Life is neither a Good nor an Evil; it is simply the place where good and evil exist.  Hence this little boy has lost nothing except a hazard where loss was more assured than gain.  He might have turned out temperate and prudent; he might, with our fostering care, have been moulded to a better standard; but (and this fear is more reasonable) he might have become just like the many.  Note the youths of the noblest lineage whose extravagance has flung them into the arena; note those men who cater to the passions of themselves and others in mutual lust, whose days never pass without drunkenness or some signal act of shame; it will thus be clear to you that there was more to fear than to hope for.

    "For this reason you ought not to invite excuses for grief or aggravate slight burdens by getting indignant.  I am not exhorting you to make an effort and rise to great heights; for my opinion of you is not so low as to make me think that it is necessary for you to summon every bit of your virtue to face this trouble.  Yours is not pain; it is a mere sting--and it is you yourself who are turning it into pain.

    "Of a surety philosophy has done you much service if you can bear courageously the loss of a boy who was as yet better known to his nurse than to his father!  And what, then?  Now, at this time, am I advising you to be hard-hearted, desiring you to keep your countenance unmoved at the very funeral ceremony, and not allowing your soul even to feel the pinch of pain?  By no means: that would mean lack of feeling rather than virtue--to behold the burial ceremonies of those near and dear to you with the same expression as you beheld their living forms, and to show no emotion over the first bereavement in your family.  But suppose that I forbade you to show emotion; there are certain feelings which claim their own rights.  Tears fall, no matter how we try to check them, and by being shed they ease the soul what, then, shall we do?  Let us allow them to tall, but let us not command them do so; let us weep according as emotion floods our eyes, but not as much as mere imitation shall demand.  Let us, indeed, add nothing to natural grief, nor augment it by following the example of others.  The display of grief makes more demands than grief itself:  how few men are sad in their own company!  They lament the louder for being heard; persons who are reserved and silent when alone are stirred to new paroxysms of tears when they behold others near them!  At such times they lay violent hands upon their own persons,--though they might have done this more easily if no one were present to check them; at such times they pray for death; at such times they toss themselves from their couches.  But their grief slackens with the departure of onlookers.  In this matter, as in others also, we are obsessed by this fault--conforming to the pattern of the many, and regarding convention rather than duty.  We abandon nature and surrender to the mobs--who are never good advisers in anything, and in this respect as in all others are most inconsistent.  People see a man who bears his grief bravely:  they call him undutiful and savage-hearted; they see a man who collapses and clings to his dead:  they call him womanish and weak.  Everything, therefore, should be referred to reason.  But nothing is more foolish than to court a reputation for sadness and to sanction tears; for I hold that with a wise man some tears fall by consent, others by their own force.

    "I shall explain the difference as follows:  When the first news of some bitter loss has shocked us, when we embrace the form that will soon pass from our arms to the funeral flames--then tears are wrung from us by the necessity of Nature, and the life-force, smitten by the stroke of grief shakes both the whole body, and the eyes also, from which it presses out and causes to flow the moisture that lies within.  Tears like these fall by a forcing-out process, against our will; but different are the tears which we allow to escape when we muse in memory upon those whom we have lost.  And there is in them a certain sweet sadness when we remember the sound of a pleasant voice, a genial conversation, and the busy duties of yore; at such a time the eyes are loosened, as it were, with joy.  This sort of weeping we indulge; the former sort overcomes us.

    "There is, then, no reason why, just because a group of persons is standing in your presence or sitting at your side, you should either check or pour forth your tears; whether restrained or outpoured, they are never as disgraceful as when feigned.  Let them flow naturally.  But it is possible for tears to flow from the eyes of those who are quiet and at peace.  They often flow without impairing the influence of the wise man--with such restraint that they show no want either of feeling or of self-respect.  We may, I assure you, obey Nature and yet maintain our dignity.  I have seen men worthy of reverence, during the burial of those near and dear, with countenances upon which love was written clear even after the whole apparatus of mourning was removed, and who showed no other conduct than that which was allowed to genuine emotion.  There is comeliness even in grief.  This should be cultivated by the wise man; even in tears, just as in other matters also, there is a certain sufficiency; it is with the unwise that sorrows, like joys, gush over.

    "Accept in an unruffled spirit that which is inevitable.  What can happen that is beyond belief?  Or what that is new?  How many men at this very moment are making arrangements for funerals!  How many are purchasing grave-clothes!  How many are mourning, when you yourself have finished mourning!  As often as you reflect that your boy has ceased to be, reflect also upon man, who has no sure promise of anything, whom Fortune does not inevitably escort to the confines of old age, but lets him go at whatever point she sees fit.  You may, however, speak often concerning the departed, and cherish his memory to the extent of your power.  This memory will return to you all the more often if you welcome its coming without bitterness; for no man enjoys converse with one who is sorrowful, much less with sorrow itself.  And whatever words, whatever jests of his, no matter how much of a child he was, may have given you pleasure to hear--these I would have you recall again and  again; assure yourself confidently that he might have fulfilled the hopes which you, his father, had entertained.  Indeed, to forget the beloved dead, to bury their memory along with their bodies, to bewail them bounteously and afterwards think of them but scantily--this is the mark of a soul below that of man.  For that is the way in which birds and beasts love their young; their affection is quickly roused and almost reaches madness, but it cools away entirely when its object dies.  This quality does not befit a man of sense; he should continue to remember, but should cease to mourn.  And in no wise do I approve of the remark of Metrodorus--that there is a certain pleasure akin to sadness, and that one should give chase thereto at such times as these.  I am quoting the actual words of Metrodorus.  I have no doubt what your feelings will be in these maters; for what is baser than to 'chase after' pleasure in the very midst of mourning--nay rather by means of mourning--and even amid one's tears to hunt out that which will give pleasure?  These are the men who accuse us of too great strictness, slandering our precepts because of supposed harshness--because (say they) we declare that grief should either not be given place in the soul at all, or else should be driven out forthwith.  But which is the more incredible or inhuman--to feel no grief at the loss of one's friend, or to go a-hawking after pleasure in the midst of grief?  That which we Stoics advise, is honourable; when emotion has prompted a moderate flow of tears, and has, so to speak, ceased to effervesce, the soul should not be surrendered to grief  But what do you mean, Metrodorus,  by saying  that with our very grief there should be a blending of pleasure?  That is the sweetmeat method of pacifying children; that is the way we still the cries of infants by pouring milk down their throats!

    "Even at the moment when your son's body is on the pyre, or your friend breathing his last, will you not suffer your pleasure to cease, rather than tickle your very grief with pleasure?  Which is the more honourable--to remove grief from your soul, or to admit pleasure even into the company of grief?  Did I say 'admit'?  Nay, I mean 'chase after,' and from the hands, too, of grief itself.  Metrodorus says:  'There is a certain pleasure which is related to sadness.'  We Stoics may say that, but you may not.  The only Good which you recognize, is pleasure, and the only Evil, pain; and what relationship can there be between a Good and an Evil?  But suppose that such a relationship does exist; now, of all times, is it to be rooted out?  Shall we examine grief also, and see with what elements of delight and pleasure it is surrounded?  Certain remedies, which are beneficial for some parts of the body, cannot be applied to other parts because these are, in a way revolting and unfit; and that which in certain cases would work to a good purpose without any loss to one's self=respect, may become unseemly because of the situation of the wound.  Are you not, similarly, ashamed to cure sorrow by pleasure?  No, this sore spot must be treated in a more drastic way.  This is what you should preferably advise:  that no sensation of evil can reach one who is dead; for if it can reach him, he is not dead.  And I say that nothing can hurt him who is a naught; for if a man can be hurt, he is alive.  Do you think him to be badly off because he is no more, or because he still exists as somebody?  And  yet no torment can come to him from the fact that he is no more--for what feeling can belong to one who does not exist?--nor from the fact that he exists; for he has escaped the greatest disadvantage that death has in it--namely, non-existence.

    "Let us say this also to him who mourns and misses the untimely dead:  that all of  us, whether young or old, live, in comparison with eternity, on the same level as regards our shortness of life.  For out of all time there comes to us less than what anyone could call least, since 'least' is at any rate some part; but this life of ours is next to nothing, and yet (fools that we are!) , we marshal it in broad array!

    "These words I have written to you, not with the idea that you should expect a cure from me at such a late date--for it is clear to me that you have told yourself everything that you will read in my letter--but with the idea that I should rebuke you even for the slight delay during which you lapsed from your true self, and should encourage you for the future, to rouse your spirit against Fortune and to be on the watch for all her missiles, not as if  they might possibly come, but as if they were bound to come."   Farewell.

On Facing Hardships
 
    Spite of all do you still chafe and complain, not understanding that, in all the evils to which you refer, there is really only one--the fact that you do chafe and complain?  If you ask me, I think that for a man there is no misery unless there is something in the universe which he thinks miserable.  I shall not endure myself on that day when I find anything unendurable.

    I am ill; but that is a part of my lot.  My slaves have fallen sick, my income has gone off, my house is rickety, I have been assailed by losses, accidents, toil, and fear; this is a common thing.  Nay, that was an understatement; it was an inevitable thing.  Such affairs come by order, and not by accident.  If you will believe me, it is my inmost emotions that I am just now disclosing to you when everything seems to go hard and uphill, I have trained myself not merely to obey God, but to agree with His decisions.  I follow Him because my soul wills it, and not because I must.  Nothing will ever happen to me that I shall receive with ill humour or with a wry face.  I shall pay up all my taxes willingly.  Now all the things which cause us to groan or recoil are part of the tax of life--things, my dear Lucilius, which you should never hope and never seek to escape.                 

    It was disease of the bladder that made you apprehensive; downcast letters came from you, you were continually getting worse; I will touch the truth more closely, and say that you feared for your life.  But come, did you not know, when you prayed for long life, that this was what you were praying for?  A long life that includes all these troubles, just as a long journey includes dust and mud and rain.  "But," you cry, "I wished to live, and at the same time to be immune from all ills."  Such a womanish cry does no credit to a man.  Consider in what attitude you shall receive this prayer of mine (I offer it not only in a good, but in a noble spirit):  "May gods and goddesses alike forbid that Fortune keep you in luxury!"  Ask yourself voluntarily which you would choose if some god gave you the choice--life in a cafe or life in a camp.

    And yet life, Lucilius, is really a battle.  For this reason those who are tossed about at sea, who proceed uphill and downhill over toilsome crags and heights, who go on campaigns that bring the greatest danger, are heroes and front-rank fighters; but persons who live in rotten luxury and ease while others toil, are mere turtle-doves--safe only because men despise them.  Farewell.

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On the Fickleness of Fortune

     You need never believe that anyone who depends upon happiness is happy!  It is a fragile support--this delight in adventitious things; the joy which entered from without will some day depart.  But that joy which springs wholly from oneself is real and sound; it increases and attends us to the last; while all other things which provoke the admiration of the crowd are but temporary Goods.  You may reply:  "What do you mean?  Cannot such things serve both for utility and for delight?"  Of course.  But only if they depend on us, and not we on them.  All things that Fortune looks upon become productive and pleasant, only if he who possesses them is in possession also of himself, and is not in the power of that which belongs to him.  For men make a mistake, my dear Lucilius, if they hold that anything good, or evil either, is bestowed upon us by Fortune; it is simply the raw material of Goods and Ills that she gives to us--the sources of things which, in our keeping, will develop into good or ill.  For the soul is more powerful than any sort of Fortune; by its own agency it guides its affairs in either direction, and of its own power it can produce a happy life, or a wretched one.

    A bad man makes everything bad--even things which had come with the appearance of what is best; but the upright and honest man corrects the wrongs of Fortune; and softens hardship and bitterness because he knows how to endure them; he likewise accepts prosperity with appreciation and moderation, and stands up against trouble with steadiness and courage.  Though a man be prudent, though he conduct all his interests with well-balanced judgment, though he attempt nothing beyond his strength, he will not attain the Good which is unalloyed and beyond the reach of threats, unless he is sure in dealing with that which is unsure.  For whether you prefer to observe other men (and it is easier to make up one's mind when judging the affairs of others), or whether you observe yourself, with all prejudice laid aside, you will perceive and acknowledge that there is no utility in all these desirable and beloved things, unless you equip yourself in opposition to the fickleness of chance and its consequences, and unless you repeat to yourself often and uncomplainingly, at every mishap, the words:  "Heaven decreed it otherwise!"  Nay rather, to adopt a phrase which is braver and nearer the truth--one on which you may more safely prop your spirit--say to yourself, whenever things turn out contrary to your expectation:  "Heaven decreed better!"

    If you are thus poised, nothing will affect you; and a man will be thus poised if he reflects on the possible ups and downs in human affairs before he feels their force, and if he comes to regard children, or wife, or property, with the idea that he will not necessarily possess them always and that he will not be any more wretched just because he ceases to possess them.  It is tragic for the soul to be apprehensive of the future and wretched in anticipation of wretchedness, consumed with an anxious desire that the objects which give pleasure may remain in its possession to the very end.  For such a soul will never be at rest; in waiting for the future it will lose the present blessings which it might enjoy.  And  there is no difference between grief for something lost and the fear of losing it.

    But I do not for this reason advise you to be indifferent.  Rather do you turn aside from you whatever may cause fear.  Be sure to foresee whatever can be foreseen by planning.  Observe and avoid, long before it happens, anything that is likely to do you harm.  To effect this your best assistance will be a spirit of confidence and a mind strongly resolved to endure all things.  He who can bear Fortune, can also beware of Fortune.  At any rate, there is no dashing of billows when the sea is calm.  And there is nothing more wretched or foolish than premature fear.  What madness it is to anticipate one's troubles!  In fine, to express my thoughts in brief compass land portray to you those busybodies and self-tormentors--they are as uncontrolled in the midst of their troubles as they are before them.  He suffers more than is necessary, who suffers before it is necessary; such men do not weigh the amount of their suffering, by reason of the same failing which prevents them from being ready for it; and with the same lack of restraint they fondly imagine that their luck will last forever, and fondly imagine that their gains are bound to increase as well as merely continue.  They forget this spring-board on which mortal things are tossed, and they guarantee for themselves exclusively a steady continuance of the gifts of chance.

    For this very reason I regard as excellent the saying of Metrodorus, in a letter of consolation to his sister on the loss of her son, a lad of great promise:  "All of Good of mortals is mortal."  He is referring to those Goods towards which men rush in shoals.  For the real Good does not perish; it is certain and lasting, and it consists of wisdom and virtue; it is the only immortal thing that falls to mortal lot.  But men are so wayward, and so forgetful of their goal and of the point toward which every day jostles them, that they are surprised at losing anything, although some day they are bound to lose everything.  Anything of which you are entitled the owner is in your possession but is not your own; for there is no strength in that which is weak, nor anything lasting and invincible in that which is frail.  We must lose our lives as surely as we lose our property, and this, if we understand the truth, is itself a consolation.  Lose it with equanimity; for you must lose your life also.

    What resource do we find, then, in the face of these losses?  Simply this--to keep in memory the things we have lost, and not to suffer the enjoyment which we have derived from them to pass away along with them.  To have may be taken from us, to have had, never.  A man is thankless in the highest degree if, after losing something, he feels no obligation for having received it.  Chance robs us of the thing, but leaves us its use and its enjoyment--and we have lost this if we are so unfair as to regret.  Just say to you:  "Of all these experiences that seem so frightful, none is insuperable.  Separate trials have been overcome by many:  fire by Mucius, crucifixion by Regulus, poison by Socrates, exile by Rutilius, and a sword-inflicted death by Cato; therefore, let us also overcome something."  Again, those objects which attract the crowd under the appearance of beauty and happiness, have been scorned by many men and on many occasions.  Fabricius when he was general refused riches, and when he was censor branded them with disapproval.  Tubero deemed poverty worthy both of himself and of the deity on the Capitol when, by the use of earthenware dishes at a public festival, he showed that man should be satisfied with that which the gods could still use.  The elder Sextius rejected the honours of office; he was born with an obligation to take part in public affairs, and yet would not accept the broad stripe even when the deified Julius offered it to him.  For he understood that what can be given can also be taken away.

    Let us also, therefore, carry out some courageous act of our own accord; let us be included among the ideal types of history.  Why have we been slack?  Why do we lose heart?  That which could be done can be done, if only we purify our souls and follow Nature; for when one strays away from Nature one is compelled to crave, and fear, and be a slave to the things of chance.  We may return to the true path; we may be restored to our proper state; let us therefore be so, in order that we may be able to endure pain, in whatever form it attacks our bodies, and say to Fortune:  "You have to deal with a man; seek someone whom you can conquer!"

    By these words, and words of a like kind the malignity of the ulcer is quieted down; and I hope indeed that it can be reduced, and either cured or brought to a stop, and grow old along with the patient himself.  I am, however, comfortable in my mind regarding him; what we are now discussing is our own loss--the taking-off of a most excellent old man.  For he himself has lived a full life, and anything additional may be craved by him, not for his own sake, but for the sake of those who need his services.  In continuing to live, he deals generously.  Some other person might have put an end to these sufferings; but our friend considers it no less base to flee from death than to flee towards death.  "But," comes the answer, "if circumstances warrant, shall he not take his departure?  Of course, if he can no longer be of service to anyone, if all his business will be to deal with pain.  This, my dear Lucilius, is what we mean by studying philosophy while applying it, by practising it on truth--to note what courage a prudent man possesses against death, or against pain, when the one approaches and the other weighs heavily.  What ought to be done must be learned from one who does it.  Up to now we have dealt with arguments--whether any man can resist pain, or whether the approach of death can cast down even great souls.  Why discuss it further?  Here is an immediate fact for us to tackle--death does not make our friend braver to face pain, nor pain to face death.  Rather does he trust himself in the face of both; he does not suffer with resignation because he hopes for death, nor does he die gladly because he is tired of suffering.  Pain he endures, death he awaits.  Farewell.

On Consolation to the Bereaved

     I enclose a copy of the letter which I wrote to Marullus at the time when he had lost his little son and was reported to be rather womanish in his grief--a letter in which I have not observed the usual form of condolence:  for I did not believe that he should be handled gently, since in my opinion he deserved criticism rather than consolation.  When a man is stricken and is finding it most difficult to endure a grievous wound, one must humour him for a while;  let him satisfy his grief or at any rate work off the first shock; but those who have assumed an indulgence in grief should be rebuked forthwith, and should learn that there are certain follies even in tears.

    "Is it solace that you look for?  Let me give you a scolding instead!  You are like a woman in the way you take your son's death; what would you do if you had lost an intimate friend?  A son, a little child of unknown promise, is dead; a fragment of time has been lost.  We hunt out excuses for grief; we would even utter unfair complaints about Fortune, as if Fortune would never give us just reason for complaining!  But I had really thought that you possessed spirit enough to deal with concrete troubles, to say nothing of the shadowy troubles over which men make moan through force of habit.  Had you lost a friend (which is the greatest blow of all), you would have had to endeavour rather to rejoice because you had possessed him than to mourn because you had lost him.

    "But many men fail to count up how manifold their gains have been, how great their rejoicings.  Grief like yours has this among other evils:  it is not only useless, but thankless.  Has it then all been for nothing that you have had such a friend?  During so many years, amid such close associations, after such intimate communion of personal interests, has nothing been accomplished?  Do you bury friendship along with a friend?  And why lament having lost him, if it be of no avail to have possessed him?  Believe me, a great part of those we have loved, though chance has removed their persons, still abides with us.  The past is ours, and there is nothing more secure for us than that which has been.  We are ungrateful for past gains, because we hope for the future, as if the future--if so be that any future is ours--will not be quickly blended with the past.  People set a narrow limit to their enjoyments if they take pleasure only in the present; both the future and the past serve for our delight--the one with anticipation, and the other with memories--but the one is contingent and may not come to pass, while the other must have been.

    "What madness it is, therefore, to lose our grip on that which is the surest thing of all?  Let us rest content with the pleasures we have quaffed in past days, if only, while we quaffed them, the soul was not pierced like a sieve, only to lose again whatever it had received.  There are countless cases of men who have without tears buried sons in the prime of manhood--men who have returned from the funeral pyre to the Senate chamber, or to any other official duties, and have straightway busied themselves with something else.  And rightly; for in the first place it is idle to grieve if you get no help from grief.  In the second place, it is unfair to complain about what has happened to one man but is in store for all.  Again, it is foolish to lament one's loss, when there is such a slight interval between the lost and the loser.  Hence we should be more resigned in spirit, because we follow closely those whom we have lost.

    "Note the rapidity of Time--that swiftest of things; consider the shortness of the course along which we hasten at top speed; mark this throng of humanity, all straining toward the same point with briefest intervals between them--even when they seem longest; he whom you count as passed away has simply posted on ahead.  And what is more irrational than to bewail your predecessor, when you yourself must ravel on the same journey?  Does a man bewail an event which he knew would take place?  Or, if he did not think of death as man's lot, he has but cheated himself.  Does a man bewail an event which he has been admitting to be unavoidable?  Whoever complains about the death of anyone is complaining that he was a man.  Everyone is bound by the same terms:  he who is privileged to be born, is destined to die.  Periods of time separate us, but death levels us.  The period which lies between our first day and our last is shifting and uncertain:  if you reckon it by its troubles, it is long even to a lad, if by its speed, it is scanty even to a greybeard.  Everything is slippery, treacherous, and more shifting than any weather.  All things are tossed about and shift into their opposites at the bidding of Fortune; amid such a turmoil of mortal affairs nothing but death is surely in store for anyone.  And yet all men complain about the one thing wherein none of them is deceived.  'But he died in boyhood.'  I am not yet prepared to say that he who quickly comes to the end of his life has the better of the bargain; let us turn to consider the case of him who has grown to old age.  How very little is he superior to the child!  Place before your mind's eye the vast spread of time's abyss, and consider the universe; and then contrast our so-called human life with infinity:  you will then see how scant is that for which we pray, and which we seek to lengthen.  How much of this time is taken up with weeping, how much with worry!  How much with prayers for death before death arrives, how much with our health, how much with our fears!  How much is occupied by our years of inexperience or of useless endeavour!  And half of all this time is wasted in sleeping.  Add, besides, our toils, our griefs, our dangers--and you will comprehend that even in the longest life real living is the least portion thereof.  Nevertheless, who will make such an admission as:  'A man is not better off who is allowed to return home quickly, whose journey is accomplished before he is wearied out'?  Life is neither a Good nor an Evil; it is simply the place where good and evil exist.  Hence this little boy has lost nothing except a hazard where loss was more assured than gain.  He might have turned out temperate and prudent; he might, with our fostering care, have been moulded to a better standard; but (and this fear is more reasonable) he might have become just like the many.  Note the youths of the noblest lineage whose extravagance has flung them into the arena; note those men who cater to the passions of themselves and others in mutual lust, whose days never pass without drunkenness or some signal act of shame; it will thus be clear to you that there was more to fear than to hope for.

    "For this reason you ought not to invite excuses for grief or aggravate slight burdens by getting indignant.  I am not exhorting you to make an effort and rise to great heights; for my opinion of you is not so low as to make me think that it is necessary for you to summon every bit of your virtue to face this trouble.  Yours is not pain; it is a mere sting--and it is you yourself who are turning it into pain.

    "Of a surety philosophy has done you much service if you can bear courageously the loss of a boy who was as yet better known to his nurse than to his father!  And what, then?  Now, at this time, am I advising you to be hard-hearted, desiring you to keep your countenance unmoved at the very funeral ceremony, and not allowing your soul even to feel the pinch of pain?  By no means.  That would mean lack of feeling rather than virtue--to behold the burial ceremonies of those near and dear to you with the same expression as you beheld their living forms, and to show no emotion over the first bereavement in your family.  But suppose that I forbade you to show emotion; there are certain feelings which claim their own rights.  Tears fall, no matter how we try to check them, and by being shed they ease the soul what, then, shall we do?  Let us allow them to tall, but let us not command them do so; let us weep according as emotion floods our eyes, but not as much as mere imitation shall demand.  Let us, indeed, add nothing to natural grief, nor augment it by following the example of others.  The display of grief makes more demands than grief itself:  how few men are sad in their own company!  They lament the louder for being heard; persons who are reserved and silent when alone are stirred to new paroxysms of tears when they behold others near them!  At such times they lay violent hands upon their own persons,--though they might have done this more easily if no one were present to check them; at such times they pray for death; at such times they toss themselves from their couches.  But their grief slackens with the departure of onlookers.  In this matter, as in others also, we are obsessed by this fault--conforming to the pattern of the many, and regarding convention rather than duty.  We abandon nature and surrender to the mob--who are never good advisers in anything, and in this respect as in all others are most inconsistent.  People see a man who bears his grief bravely:  they call him undutiful and savage-hearted; they see a man who collapses and clings to his dead:  they call him womanish and weak.  Everything, therefore, should be referred to reason.  But nothing is more foolish than to court a reputation for sadness and to sanction tears; for I hold that with a wise man some tears fall by consent, others by their own force.

    "I shall explain the difference as follows:  When the first news of some bitter loss has shocked us, when we embrace the form that will soon pass from our arms to the funeral flames--then tears are wrung from us by the necessity of Nature, and the life-force, smitten by the stroke of grief shakes both the whole body, and the eyes also, from which it presses out and causes to flow the moisture that lies within.  Tears like these fall by a forcing-out process, against our will; but different are the tears which we allow to escape when we muse in memory upon those whom we have lost.  And there is in them a certain sweet sadness when we remember the sound of a pleasant voice, a genial conversation, and the busy duties of yore; at such a time the eyes are loosened, as it were, with joy.  This sort of weeping we indulge; the former sort overcomes us.

    "There is, then, no reason why, just because a group of persons is standing in your presence or sitting at your side, you should either check or pour forth your tears; whether restrained or outpoured, they are never so disgraceful as when feigned.  Let them flow naturally.  But it is possible for tears to flow from the eyes of those who are quiet and at peace.  They often flow without impairing the influence of the wise man--with such restraint that they show no want either of feeling or of self-respect.  We may, I assure you, obey Nature and yet maintain our dignity.  I have seen men worthy of reverence, during the burial of those near and dear, with countenances upon which love was written clear even after the whole apparatus of mourning was removed, and who showed no other conduct than that which was allowed to genuine emotion.  There is comeliness even in grief.  This should be cultivated by the wise man; even in tears, just as in other matters also, there is a certain sufficiency; it is with the unwise that sorrows, like joys, gush over.

    "Accept in an unruffled spirit that which is inevitable.  What can happen that is beyond belief?  Or what that is new?  How many men at this very moment are making arrangements for funerals!  How many are purchasing grave-clothes!  How many are mourning, when you yourself have finished mourning!  As often as you reflect that your boy has ceased to be, reflect also upon man, who has no sure promise of anything, whom Fortune does not inevitably escort to the confines of old age, but lets him go at whatever point she sees fit.  You may, however, speak often concerning the departed, and cherish his memory to the extent of your power.  This memory will return to you all the more often if you welcome its coming without bitterness; for no man enjoys converse with one who is sorrowful, much less with sorrow itself.  And whatever words, whatever jests of his, no matter how much of a child he was, may have given you pleasure to hear--these I would have you recall again and  again; assure yourself confidently that he might have fulfilled the hopes which you, his father, had entertained.  Indeed, to forget the beloved dead, to bury their memory along with their bodies, to bewail them bounteously and afterwards think of them but scantily--this is the mark of a soul below that of man.  For that is the way in which birds and beasts love their young; their affection is quickly roused and almost reaches madness, but it cools away entirely when its object dies.  This quality does not befit a man of sense; he should continue to remember, but should cease to mourn.  And in no wise do I approve of the remark of Metrodorus--that there is a certain pleasure akin to sadness, and that one should give chase thereto at such times as these.  I am quoting the actual words of Metrodorus.  I have no doubt what your feelings will be in these maters; for what is baser than to 'chase after' pleasure in the very midst of mourning--nay rather by means of mourning--and even amid one's tears to hunt out that which will give pleasure?  These are the men who accuse us of too great strictness, slandering our precepts because of supposed harshness--because (say they) we declare that grief should either not be given place in the soul at all, or else should be driven out forthwith.  But which is the more incredible or inhuman--to feel no grief at the loss of one's friend, or to go a-hawking after pleasure in the midst of grief?  That which we Stoics advise, is honourable; when emotion has prompted a moderate flow of tears, and has, so to speak, ceased to effervesce, the soul should not be surrendered to grief  But what do you mean, Metrodorus,  by saying  that with our very grief there should be a blending of pleasure?  That is the sweetmeat method of pacifying children; that is the way we still the cries of infants by pouring milk down their throats!

    "Even at the moment when your son's body is on the pyre, or your friend breathing his last, will you not suffer your pleasure to cease, rather than tickle your very grief with pleasure?  Which is the more honourable--to remove grief from your soul, or to admit pleasure even into the company of grief?  Did I say 'admit'?  Nay, I mean 'chase after,' and from the hands, too, of grief itself.  Metrodorus says:  'There is a certain pleasure which is related to sadness.'  We Stoics may say that, but you may not.  The only Good which you recognize, is pleasure, and the only Evil, pain; and what relationship can there be between a Good and an Evil?  But suppose that such a relationship does exist; now, of all times, is it to be rooted out?  Shall we examine grief also, and see with what elements of delight and pleasure it is surrounded?  Certain remedies, which are beneficial for some parts of the body, cannot be applied to other parts because these are, in a way revolting and unfit; and that which in certain cases would work to a good purpose without any loss to one's self=respect, may become unseemly because of the situation of the wound.  Are you not, similarly, ashamed to cure sorrow by pleasure?  No, this sore spot must be treated in a more drastic way.  This is what you should preferably advise:  that no sensation of evil can reach one who is dead; for if it can reach him, he is not dead.  And I say that nothing can hurt him who is a naught; for if a man can be hurt, he is alive.  Do you think him to be badly off because he is no more, or because he still exists as somebody?  And  yet no torment can come to him from the fact that he is no more--for what feeling can belong to one who does not exist?--nor from the fact that he exists; for he has escaped the greatest disadvantage that death has in it--namely, non-existence.

    "Let us say this also to him who mourns and misses the untimely dead:  that all of  us, whether young or old, live, in comparison with eternity, on the same level as regards our shortness of life.  For out of all time there comes to us less than what anyone could call least, since 'least' is at any rate some part; but this life of ours is next to nothing, and yet (fools that we are!) , we marshal it in broad array!

    "These words I have written to you, not with the idea that you should expect a cure from me at such a late date--for it is clear to me that you have told yourself everything that you will read in my letter--but with the idea that I should rebuke you even for the slight delay during which you lapsed from your true self, and should encourage you for the future, to rouse your spirit against Fortune and to be on the watch for all her missiles, not as if  they might possibly come, but as if they were bound to come."   Farewell.
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On the Dangers of Association with our Fellow Men

     Why are you looking about for troubles which may perhaps come your way, but which may indeed not come your way at all?  I mean fires, falling buildings, and other accidents of the sort that are mere events rather than plots against us.  Rather beware and shun those troubles which dog our steps and reach out their hands against us.  Accidents, though they may be serious, are few--such as being shipwrecked or thrown from one's carriage; but it is from his fellow-man that a man's everyday danger comes.  Equip yourself against that; watch that with an attentive eye.  There is no evil more frequent, no evil more persistent, and no evil more insinuating.  Even the storm, before it gathers, gives a warning:  houses crack before they crash; and smoke is the forerunner of fire.  But damage from man is instantaneous, and the nearer it comes the more carefully it is concealed.

    You must, however, reflect thus what danger you run at the hands of man, in order that you may deduce what is the duty of man.  Try, in your dealings with others, to harm not, in order that you be not harmed.  You should rejoice with all in their joys and sympathize with them in their troubles, remembering what you should offer and what you should withhold: and what may you attain by living such a life?  Not necessarily freedom from harm at their hands, but at least freedom from deceit.  Insofar, however, as you are able, take refuge with philosophy:  she will cherish you in her bosom, and in her sanctuary you shall be safe, or at any rate, safer than before.  People collide only when they are travelling the same path.  But this very philosophy must never be vaunted by you; for philosophy when employed with insolence and arrogance has been perilous to many.  Let her strip off your faults, rather than assist you to decry the faults of others.  Let her not hold aloof from the customs of mankind, nor make it her business to condemn whatever she herself does not do.  A man may be wise without parade and without arousing enmity.  Farewell.



On Obedience to the Universal Will

     Where is that common-sense of yours?  Where that deftness in examining things?  That greatness of soul?  Have you come to be tormented by a trifle?  Your slaves regarded your absorption in business as an opportunity for them to run away.  Well, if your friends deceived you (for by all means let them have the name which we mistakenly bestowed upon them, and so call them, that they may incur more shame by not being such friends)--if your friends, I repeat, deceived you, all your affairs would lack something; as it is, you merely lack men who damaged your own endeavours and considered you burdensome to your neighbours.  None of these things is unusual or unexpected.  It is as nonsensical to be put out by such events as to complain of being spattered in the street or at getting befouled in the mud.  The programme of life is the same as that of a bathing establishment, a crowd, or a journey:  sometimes things will be thrown at you, and sometimes they will strike you by accident.  Life is not a dainty business.  You have started on a long journey; you are bound to slip, collide, fall, become weary, and cry out:  "O for Death!"--or in other words, tell lies.  At one stage you will leave a comrade behind you, at another you will bury someone, at another you will be apprehensive.  It is amid stumbling of this sort that you must travel out this rugged journey.

    Does one wish to die?  Let the mind be prepared to meet everything; let it know that it has reached the heights round which the thunder plays.  Let it know that it has arrived where--

Grief and avenging Care have set their couch,
And pallid sickness dwells, and drear Old Age.   

With such messmates must you spend your days?  Avoid them you cannot, but despise them you can.  And you will despise them, if you often take thought and anticipate the future.  Everyone approaches courageously a danger which he has prepared himself to meet long before, and withstands even hardships if he has previously practised how to meet them. But, contrariwise, the unprepared are panic-stricken even at the most trifling things.  We must see to it that nothing shall come upon us unforeseen.  And since things are all the more serious when they are unfamiliar, continual reflection will give you the power, no matter what the evil may be, not to play the unschooled boy.

    "My slaves have run away from me!"  Yes, other men have been robbed, blackmailed, slain, betrayed, stamped under foot, attacked by poison or by slander; no matter what trouble you mention, it has happened to many.  Again, there are manifold kinds of missiles which are hurled at us.  Some are planted in us; some are being brandished and at this very moment are on the way, some which were destined for other men graze us instead.  We should not manifest surprise at any sort of condition into which we are born, and which should be lamented by no one, simply because it is equally ordained for all.  Yes, I say, equally ordained; for a man might have experienced even that which he has escaped.  And an equal law consists, not of that which all have experienced, but of that which is laid down for all.  Be sure to prescribe for your mind this sense of equity; we should pay without complaint the tax of our mortality.

    Winter brings on cold weather; and we must shiver.  Summer returns, with its heat; and we must sweat.  Unseasonable weather upsets the health; and we must fall ill.  In certain places we may meet with wild beasts, or with men who are more destructive than any beasts.  Floods, or fires, will cause us loss.  And we cannot change this order of things; but what we can do is to acquire stout hearts, worthy of good men, thereby courageously enduring change and placing ourselves in harmony with Nature:  and Nature moderates this world-kingdom which you see, by her changing seasons:  clear weather follows cloudy; after a calm comes the storm; the winds blow by turns; day succeeds night, some of the heavenly bodies rise, and some set.  Eternity consists of opposites.

    It is to this law that our souls must adjust themselves, this they should follow, and this they should obey.  Whatever happens, assume that it was bound to happen, and do not be willing to rail at Nature.  That which you cannot reform, it is best to endure,  and to attend uncomplainingly upon the God under whose guidance everything progresses; for it is a bad soldier who grumbles when following his commander.  For this reason we should welcome our orders with energy and vigour, nor should we cease to follow the natural course of this most beautiful universe, into which all our future sufferings are woven.

    Let us address Jupiter, the pilot of this world-mass, as did our great Cleanthes in those most eloquent lines--lines which I shall allow myself to render in Latin, after the example of the eloquent Cicero.  If you like them make the most of them/ if they displease you, you will understand that I have simply been following the practice of Cicero:

Lead me, O Master of the lofty heavens,
My Father, whithersoever thou shalt wish.
I shall not falter, but obey with speed.
And though I would not, I shall go, and suffer,
In sin and sorrow what I might have done
In noble virtue.  Aye, the willing soul
Fate leads, but the unwilling drags along.

    Let us live thus, and speak thus; let Fate find us ready and alert.  Here is your great soul--the man who has given himself over to Fate; on the other hand, that man is a weakling and a degenerate who struggles and maligns the order of the universe and would rather reform the gods than reform himself.  Farewell.

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On True and False Riches

    From my villa at Nomentum, I send you greeting and bid you keep a sound spirit within you--in other words, gain the blessing of all the gods, for he is assured of their grace and favour who has become a blessing to himself.  Lay aside for the present the belief of certain persons--that a god is assigned to each one of us as a sort of attendant--not a god of regular rank but one of a lower grade--one of those whom Ovid calls "plebeian gods."  Yet, while laying aside this belief, I would have you remember that our ancestors, who followed such a creed, have become Stoics; for they have assigned a Genius or a Juno to every individual.  Later on we shall investigate whether the gods have enough time on their hands to care for the concerns of private individuals; in the meantime, you must know that whether we are allotted to special guardians, or whether we are neglected and consigned to Fortune, you can curse a man with no heavier 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, 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 caused his dread, and to understand the nature of his fear--aye, the good behind it.  That is why falsehood and vanity still gain credit--because they are not refuted.  Let us account it worth while to look closely at the matter; then it will be clear how fleeting, how unsure, and how harmless are the things which we fear.  The disturbance in our spirits is similar to that which Lucretius detected:

Like boys who cover frightened in the dark,
So grown-ups in the light of day feel fear.

What, then?  Are we not more foolish than any child, we who "in the light of day feel fear"?  But you were wrong, Lucretius; we are not afraid in the daylight; we have turned everything into a state of darkness.  We see neither what injures nor what profits us; all our lives through we blunder along,  neither stopping nor treading more carefully on this account.  But you see what madness it is to rush ahead in the dark.  Indeed, we are bent on getting ourselves called back from a greater distance; and though we do not know our goal, yet we hasten with wild speed in the direction whither we are straining.

    The light, however, may begin to shine, provided we are willing.  But such a result can come about only in one way--if we acquire by knowledge this familiarity with things divine and human, if we not only flood ourselves but steep ourselves therein, if a man reviews the same principles even though he understands them and applies them again and again to himself, if he has investigated what is good, what is evil, and what has falsely been so entitled; and, finally, if he has investigated honour and baseness, and Providence.  The range of the human intelligence is not confined within these limits; it may also explore outside the universe--its destination and its source, and the ruin towards which all nature hastens so rapidly.  We have withdrawn the soul from this divine contemplation and dragged it into mean and lowly tasks, so that it might be a slave to greed, so that it might forsake the universe and its confines, and, under the command of masters who try all possible schemes, pry beneath the earth and seek what evil it can dig up there from--discontented with that which was freely offered to it.

    Now God, who is the Father of us all, has placed ready to our hands those things which he intended for our own good; he did not wait for any search on our part, and he gave them to us voluntarily.  But that which would be injurious, he buried deep in the earth.  We can complain of nothing but ourselves; for we have brought to light the materials for our destruction, against the will of Nature, who hid them from us.  We have bound over our souls to pleasure, whose service is the source of all evil; we have surrendered ourselves to self-seeking and reputation, and to other aims which are equally idle and useless.

    What, then, do I now encourage you to do?  Nothing new--we are not trying to find cures for new evils--but this first of all:  namely, to see clearly for you what is necessary and what is superfluous.  What is necessary will meet you everywhere; what is superfluous has always to be hunted out--and with great endeavour.  But there is no reason why you should flatter yourself over-much if you despise gilded couches and jewelled furniture.  For what virtue lies in despising useless things:  The time to admire your own conduct is when you have come to despise the necessities.  You are doing no great thing if you can live without royal pomp, if you feel no craving for boars which weigh a thousand pounds, or for flamingo tongues, or for the other absurdities of a luxury that already wearies of game cooked whole, and chooses different bits from separate animals; I shall admire you only when you have learned to scorn even the common sort of bread, when you have made yourself believe that grass grows for the needs of men as well as of cattle, when you have found out that food from the treetop can fill the belly--into which we cram things of value as if it could keep what it has received.  We should satisfy our stomachs without being overnice.  How does it matter what the stomach receives, since it must lose whatever it has received?  You enjoy the carefully arranged dainties which are caught on land and sea; some are more pleasing if they are brought fresh to the table, others, if after long feeding and forced fattening they almost melt and can hardly retain their own grease.  You like the subtly devised flavour of these dishes.  But I assure you that such carefully chosen and variously seasoned dishes, once they have entered the belly, will be overtaken alike by one and the same corruption.  Would you despise the pleasures of eating?  Then consider its result!  I remember some words of Attalus, which elicited general applause:

    "Riches long deceived me.  I used to be dazed when I caught some gleam of them here and there.  I used to think that their hidden influence matched their visible show.  But once, at a certain elaborate entertainment, I saw embossed work in silver and gold equalling the wealth of la whole city, and colours and tapestry devised to match objects which surpassed the value of gold or of silver--brought not only from beyond our own borders, but from beyond the borders of   our enemies; on one side were slave-boys notable for their training and beauty, on the other were throngs of slave-women, and all the other resources that a prosperous and mighty empire  could offer after reviewing its possessions.  What else is this, I said to myself, than a stirring-up of man's cravings, which are in themselves provocative of lust?  What is the meaning of all this display of money?  Did we gather merely to learn what greed was?  For my own part I left the place with less craving than I had when I entered.  I came to despise riches, not because of their uselessness, but because of their pettiness.  Have you noticed how, inside a few hours, that programme, however, slow-moving and carefully arranged, was over and done?  Has a business filled up this whole life of ours, which could not fill up a whole day?

    "I had another thought also:  the riches seemed to me to be as useless to the possessors as they were to the onlookers.  Accordingly, I say to myself, whenever a show of that sort dazzles my eyes, whenever I see a splendid palace with a well-groomed corps of attendants and beautiful bearers carrying a litter:  Why wonder?  Why gape in astonishment?  It is all show; such things are displayed, not possessed; while they please they pass away. Turn thyself rather to the true riches.  Learn to be content with little, and cry out with courage and with greatness of soul:  'We have water, we have porridge; let us compete in happiness with Jupiter himself.'  And why note, I pray thee, make this challenge even without porridge and water?   For it is base to make the happy life depend upon silver and gold, and just as base to make it depend upon water and porridge.  'But,' some will say, 'what could I do without such things?'  Do you ask what is the cure for want?  It is to make hunger satisfy hunger; for, all else being equal, what difference is there is the smallness or the largeness of the tings that force you to be a slave?  What matter how little it is that Fortune can refuse to you?  Your very porridge and water can fall under another's jurisdiction; and besides, freedom comes, not to him over whom Fortune has slight power, but to him over whom she has no power at all.  This is what I mean:  you must crave nothing, if you would vie with Jupiter; for Jupiter craves nothing."

    This is what Attalus told us.  If you are willing to think often of these things, you will strive not to seem happy, but to be happy, and, in addition, to seem happy to yourself rather than to others. 

Farewell.
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