Wednesday, July 11, 2007


A Community of Wild Beasts

Seneca, On Anger 2.8.1-3 (tr. John W. Basore):
[1] Whenever you see the forum with its thronging multitude, and the polling-places filled with all the gathered concourse, and the great Circus where the largest part of the populace displays itself, you may be sure that just as many vices are gathered there as men.

[2] Among those whom you see in civilian garb there is no peace; for a slight reward any one of them can be led to compass the destruction of another; no one makes gain save by another's loss; the prosperous they hate, the unprosperous they despise; superiors they loathe, and to inferiors are loathsome; they are goaded on by opposite desires; they desire for the sake of some little pleasure or plunder to see the whole world lost. They live as though they were in a gladiatorial school - those with whom they eat, they likewise fight.

[3] It is a community of wild beasts, only that beasts are gentle toward each other and refrain from tearing their own kind, while men glut themselves with rending one another. They differ from the dumb animals in this alone - that animals grow gentle toward those who feed them, while men in their madness prey upon the very persons by whom they are nurtured.

[1] Cum videris forum multitudine refertum et saepta concursu omnis frequentiae plena et illum circum in quo maximam sui partem populus ostendit, hoc scito, istic tantundem esse vitiorum quantum hominum.

[2] Inter istos quos togatos vides nulla pax est: alter in alterius exitium levi compendio ducitur; nulli nisi ex alterius iniuria quaestus est; felicem oderunt, infelicem contemnunt; maiorem gravantur, minori graves sunt; diversis stimulantur cupiditatibus; omnia perdita ob levem voluptatem praedamque cupiunt. Non alia quam in ludo gladiatorio vita est cum isdem viventium pugnantiumque.

[3] Ferarum iste conventus est, nisi quod illae inter se placidae sunt morsuque similium abstinent, hi mutua laceratione satiantur. Hoc uno ab animalibus mutis differunt, quod illa mansuescunt alentibus, horum rabies ipsos a quibus est nutrita depascitur.

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