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.
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.