Seneca on Saturday — how to avoid envy II

5-1_2

Mosaic in front of a fish monger’s shop in the Piazza of Corporations, Ostia Antica, 3rd century CE. The image is of a dolphin with a fish and an octopus in its jaws. “IMBIDE CALCO TE” means “Envious one, I tread on you.” Photo credit: Eric Taylor, from http://www.ostia-antica.org.

CV. On Facing the World with Confidence

Contempt remains to be discussed. He who has made this quality an adjunct of his own personality, who is despised because he wishes to be despised and not because he must be despised, has the measure of contempt under control. Any inconveniences in this respect can be dispelled by honourable occupations and by friendships with men who have influence with an influential person; with these men it will profit you to engage but not to entangle yourself, lest the cure may cost you more than the risk.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Advertisements

Seneca on Saturday — how to avoid envy

5-1_2

Mosaic in front of a fish monger’s shop in the Piazza of Corporations, Ostia Antica, 3rd century CE. The image is of a dolphin with a fish and an octopus in its jaws. “IMBIDE CALCO TE” means “Envious one, I tread on you.” Photo credit: Eric Taylor, from http://www.ostia-antica.org.

CV. On Facing the World with Confidence

Reflect on the things which goad man into destroying man: you will find that they are hope, envy, hatred, fear, and contempt. Now, of all these, contempt is the least harmful, so much so that many have skulked behind it as a sort of cure. When a man despises you, he works you injury, to be sure, but he passes on; and no one persistently or of set purpose does hurt to a person whom he despises. Even in battle, prostrate soldiers are neglected: men fight with those who stand their ground. And you can avoid the envious hopes of the wicked so long as you have nothing which can stir the evil desire of others, and so long as you possess nothing remarkable. For people crave even little things, if these catch the attention or of rare occurrence.

You will escape envy if you do not force yourself on the public view, if you do not boast your possessions, if you understand how to enjoy things privately. Hatred comes either from running foul of others: and this can be avoided by never provoking anyone; or else it is uncalled for: and common-sense will keep you safe from it. Yet it has been dangerous to many; some people have been hated without having had an enemy. As to not being feared, a moderate fortune and an easy disposition will guarantee you that; men should know that you are the sort of person who can be offended without danger; and your reconciliation should be easy and sure. Moreover, it is as troublesome to be feared at home as abroad; it is as bad to be feared by a slave as by a gentleman. For everyone has strength enough to do you some harm. Besides, he who is feared, fears also; no one has been able to arouse terror and live with peace of mind.

Seneca Epistles 93-124, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Seneca on Saturday — on what is enough

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger,

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger in Cordoba, Spain, by Amadeo Ruiz Olmos

EPISTLE IV: On the terrors of death

…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.

Seneca Epistles 1-65, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Photo credit: Gunnar Bach Pedersen, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Seneca on Saturday: ancient Roman caution

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger,

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger in Cordoba, Spain, by Amadeo Ruiz Olmos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Macaulay once said that Seneca the Younger was easily quotable, but reading him straight through would be like “dining on nothing but anchovy sauce.”

I agree! Thus I present some of the condensed wit and wisdom of Seneca, every Saturday.

On Anger

When you are about to rejoice most, you will have most to fear. When everything seems to you to be peaceful, the forces that will harm are not nonexistent, but inactive. Always believe that there will come some blow to strike you.

Moral Essays, Volume I, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger, translated by John W. Basore. Loeb Library.

Photo credit: Gunnar Bach Pedersen, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Seneca on Saturday — fear and hope

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger,

Statue of Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger in Cordoba, Spain, by Amadeo Ruiz Olmos

Lord Macaulay once said that Seneca the Younger was easily quotable, but reading him straight through would be like “dining on nothing but anchovy sauce.” I agree! Thus I present some of the condensed wit and wisdom of Seneca, every Saturday.

 

EPISTLE  V. The philosopher’s mean, Part II.

Just as the same chain fastens the prisoner and the soldier who guards him, so hope and fear, dissimilar as they are, keep step together; fear follows hope. I am not surprised that they proceed in this way; each alike belongs to a mind that is in suspense, a mind that is fretted by looking forward to the future. But the chief cause of both these ills is that we do not adapt ourselves to the present, but send our thoughts a long way ahead. … The present alone can make no man wretched.

Seneca Epistles 1-65, Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Photo credit: Gunnar Bach Pedersen, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.