Seneca on Saturday: On the provocations of vice

Dionysius (the Roman god Bacchus) riding on the back of a lion, accompanied by satyrs. Ancient Roman mosaic, 2nd-3rd century CE. El Djem Museum, Tunisia. Image from Theoi Greek Mythology. 

XLI: On Baiae and morals

“Just as I do not care to live in a place of torture, neither do I care to live in a café. To witness persons wandering drunk along the beach, the riotous revelling of sailing parties, the lakes a-din with choral song, and all the other ways in which luxury, when it is, so to speak, released from the restraints of law not merely sins, but blazons its sins abroad, — why must I witness this? We ought to see to it that we flee to the greatest possible distance from provocations to vice. We should toughen our minds, and remove them far from the allurements of pleasure. A single winter relaxed Hannibal’s fibre; his pampering in Campania took the vigour out of that hero who had triumphed over Alpine snows. He conquered with his weapons, but was conquered with his vices.” 

Seneca Epistles 1-65, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

 

 

Seneca on Saturday (on Tuesday)

A cast of the tombstone of the centurion M Favonius Facilis from Colchester, United Kingdom, 43-50 CE.

XLIX: On the shortness of life

“Why do you torment yourself and lose weight over some problem which it is more clever t o have scorned than to solve? When a soldier is undisturbed and traveling at his ease, he can hunt for trifles along his way; but when the enemy is closing in on the rear, and a command is given to quicken the pace, necessity makes him throw away everything which he picked up in moments of peace and leisure. I have no time to investigate disputed inflections of words, or to try my cunning upon them.” 

Seneca Epistles 1-65, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

 

Photo by Brownie Bear on flickr·

Seneca on Sunday: Everything depends on opinion

Mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Third century CE.

LXXVIII — On the healing power of the mind

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. 

Seneca Epistles 66-92, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Let’s hope so

 

The Curia Julia, meeting place of the Roman Senate, begun by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, finished by Augustus in 29 BCE, restored under Domitian in 81-96 CE, and rebuilt under Diocletian, 284-385 CE. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

The Curia Julia, meeting place of the Roman Senate, begun by Julius Caesar in 44 BCE, finished by Augustus in 29 BCE, restored under Domitian in 81-96 CE, and rebuilt under Diocletian, 284-385 CE. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

 

“It is no easy thing to overthrow a democracy, and harder yet to replace it with an autocracy. The social institutions of any society possess a massive inertia which, unlike governments, cannot be changed overnight.”

The Sons of Caesar, by Philip Matyszak.