Sunday, August 01, 2004
Seneca, Epistulae Morales
Do you think you're the only one this has happened to? Do you wonder at it as though it's something surprising, that despite your long trip and change of scenery you didn't shake off your sadness and heaviness of mind? You need to change your soul, not the sky overhead. Although you cross the wide sea, although (as our Vergil says) "lands and cities disappear into the distance," your faults will accompany you wherever you go. To someone who was whining about this very thing Socrates said, "Why does it surprise you that your travels do you no good, when you carry yourself around with you? The same cause that drove you to travel still oppresses you." How do strange lands help? And acquaintance with cities and tourist spots? This restlessness of yours has been in vain. You ask why your flight doesn't help you? You're fleeing in company with yourself. Your soul's burden must be cast off: until this happens, no other spot will please you.
Hoc tibi soli putas accidisse et admiraris quasi rem novam quod peregrinatione tam longa et tot locorum varietatibus non discussisti tristitiam gravitatemque mentis? Animum debes mutare, non caelum. Licet vastum traieceris mare, licet, ut ait Vergilius noster, 'terraeque urbesque recedant', sequentur te quocumque perveneris vitia. Hoc idem querenti cuidam Socrates ait, 'quid miraris nihil tibi peregrinationes prodesse, cum te circumferas? premit te eadem causa quae expulit'. Quid terrarum iuvare novitas potest? quid cognitio urbium aut locorum? in irritum cedit ista iactatio. Quaeris quare te fuga ista non adiuvet? tecum fugis. Onus animi deponendum est: non ante tibi ullus placebit locus.