On the Good which Abides
What say you, are you giving me advice?, Indeed, have you already advised yourself, already corrected your own faults?, Is this the reason why you have leisure to reform other people?
No, I am not so shameless as to undertake to cure my fellowships when I am ill myself; I am however discussing with you troubles which concern us both, & sharing the remedy, with you just as if we were lying ill in the same hospital.
Listen to me, as you would if I were talking to myself; I am admitting you to my inmost thoughts, & am having it out with myself, merely making use of you as my pretext.
I keep crying out to myself: Count your years, & you will be ashamed to desire & pursue the same things you desired in your childhood days; Of this one thing make sure against your dying day, – let your faults die before you die.
Away with those disordered pleasures, which must be dearly paid for; it is not only those which are to come that harm me, but also those which have come & gone.
Just as crimes, even if they have not been detected when they were committed, do not allow anxiety to end with them; so with guilty pleasures, regret remains even after the pleasures are over; They are not substantial, they are not trustworthy; even if they do not harm us, they are fleeting.
Virtue alone affords everlasting & peace-giving joy; even if some obstacle arise, it is but like an intervening cloud, which floats beneath the sun but never prevails against it.
When will it be your lot to attain this joy?, Thus far, you have indeed not been sluggish, but you must quicken your pace; Much toil remains; to confront it, you must yourself lavish all your waking hours, & all your efforts.
Within our own time there was a certain rich man named Sabinus; he had the bank-account & the brains of a freedman; His memory was so faulty that he would sometimes forget the name of Ulysses, or Achilles; But none the less did he desire to appear learned.
So he devised this short cut to learning: he paid fabulous prices for servants, – one to know Homer by heart & another to know Hesiod; After collecting this retinue, he began to make life miserable for his guests; he would keep these fellows at the foot of his couch, & ask them from time to time for verses which he might repeat.
Satellius, a feeder & consequently a fawner, upon addle-pated millionaires, & also a flouter of them, suggested to Sabinus that he should have philologists to gather up the bits.
Sabinus remarked that each slave cost him one hundred thousand sesterces; Satellius replied: “You might have bought as many book-cases for a smaller sum.”, But Sabinus held to the opinion that what any member of his household knew, he himself knew also.
No person is able to borrow or buy a sound mind; in fact, as it seems to me even though sound minds were for sale, they would not find buyers; Depraved minds, however are bought & sold every day.
Epicurus has this saying in various ways ; For some people the remedy should be merely prescribed; in the case of others, it should be forced down their throats.
Farewell, Seneca, StoicTaoist.