“If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?”
“Difficulties are things that show what men are. For the future, in case of any difficulty, remember that God, like a gymnastic trainer, has pitted you against a rough antagonist. For what end? That you may be an Olympic conqueror; and this cannot be without toil. No man, in my opinion, has a more profitable difficulty on his hands than you have, provided you will but use it, as an athletic champion uses his antagonist.”
Third Century CE mosaic of a baker, from a series of scenes from the agricultural calendar at St. Romain-en-Gal, exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of France, in Saint German-en-Laye. Photo courtesy of M. Fuller.
CVIII. On the conflict between pleasure and virtue
It is necessary that one grow accustomed to slender fare: because there are many problems of time and place which will cross the path of even of the rich man and one equipped for pleasure, and bring him up with a round turn. To have whatsoever he wishes is in no man’s power; it is in his power not to wish for what he has not, but cheerfully to employ what comes to him. A great step towards independence is a good-humoured stomach, one that is willing to endure rough treatment.
Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.