Seneca on Saturday — a good-humoured stomach

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.

Advertisements

Seneca on Saturday — life is like a bathing establishment

Mosaic from Villa Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily, 3rd century. Image from Greek and Roman Mosaics,

Women playing ball. Mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale, in Piazza Armerina, Sicily, 4th century CE. Image from Greek and Roman Mosaics, by Umberto Pappalardo and Rosario Ciardello.

 

 

CVII. On obedience to the universal will

Where is that common sense of yours? …Have you come to be tormented by a trifle?… None of these things is unusual or unexpected. It is as nonsensical to be put out by such events as it is to complain of being spattered in the street or at getting befouled in the mud. The program 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.

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

Seneca on Sunday — on ripe fruit

still-life-with-skull-1898.jpg!Blog

Still Life With Skull, by Paul Cezanne. Image courtesy of WikiArt

Epistle XII. On Old Age

Let us cherish and love old age; for it is full of pleasure if one knows how to use it. Fruits are most welcome when almost over; youth is most charming at its close; the last drink delights the toper,– the glass which souses him and puts the finishing touch on his drunkenness. Each pleasure reserves to the end the greatest delights which it contains. Life is most delightful when it is on the downward slope, but has not yet reached the abrupt decline… Or else the very fact of our not wanting pleasures has taken the place 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.

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