Friday, July 05, 2013


Philosophy and Poverty

Apuleius, Apology 18 (tr. H.E. Butler):
For poverty has long been the handmaid of philosophy; frugal and sober, she is strong in her weakness and is greedy for naught save honour; the possession of her is a prophylactic against wealth, her mien is free from care, and her adornment simple; her counsels are beneficent, she puffs no man up with pride, she corrupts no man with passions beyond his control, she maddens no man with the lust for power, she neither desires nor can indulge in the pleasures of feasting and of love.

enim paupertas olim philosophiae vernacula est, frugi, sobria, parvo potens, aemula laudis, adversum divitias possessa, habitu secura, cultu simplex, consilio benesuada, neminem umquam superbia inflavt, neminem inpotentia depravavit, neminem tyrannide efferavit, delicias ventris et inguinum neque vult ullas neque potest.
Id., 20:
I might even engage with you in controversy over the word poverty, urging that no man is poor who rejects the superfluous and has at his command all the necessities of life, which nature has ordained should be exceedingly small. For he who desires least will possess most, inasmuch as he who wants but little will have all he wants. The measure of wealth ought therefore not to be the possession of lands and investments, but the very soul of man. For if avarice make him continually in need of some fresh acquisition and insatiable in his lust for gain, not even mountains of gold will bring him satisfaction, but he will always be begging for more that he may increase what he already possesses. That is the genuine admission of poverty. For every desire for fresh acquisition springs from the consciousness of want, and it matters little how large your possessions are if they are too small for you.

possum equidem tibi et ipsius nominis controversiam facere, neminem nostrum pauperem esse qui supervacanea nolit, possit necessaria, quae natura oppido pauca sunt. namque is plurimum habebit, qui minimum desiderabit; habebit enim quantum volet qui volet minimum. et idcirco divitiae non melius in fundis et in fenore quam in ipso hominis animo aestimantur, qui si est avaritia egenus et ad omne lucrum inexplebilis, nec montibus auri satiabitur, sed semper aliquid, ante parta ut augeat, mendicabit. quae quidem vera confessio est paupertatis; omnis enim cupido acquirendi ex opinione inopiae venit, nec refert, quam magnum sit quod tibi minus est.
Id., 21:
Must you then reproach me, not for any scandalous word or deed, but simply because I live in a small house, possess an unusually small number of slaves, subsist on unusually light diet, wear unusually light clothing, and make unusually small purchases of food? Yet however scanty my service, food, and raiment may seem to you, I on the contrary regard them as ample and even excessive. Indeed I am desirous of still further reducing them, since the less I have to distract me the happier I shall be. For the soul, like the body, goes lightly clad when in good health; weakness wraps itself up, and it is a sure sign of infirmity to have many wants. We live, just as we swim, all the better for being but lightly burdened. For in this stormy life as on the stormy ocean heavy things sink us and light things buoy us up. It is in this respect, I find, that the gods more especially surpass men, namely that they lack nothing: wherefore he of mankind whose needs are smallest is most like unto the gods.

tu mihi vitio dabis non facti uel dicti alicuius pravitatem, sed quod vivo gracili lare, quod paucioris habeo, parcius pasco, levius vestio, minus obsono? atqui ego contra, quantulacumque tibi haec videntur, multa etiam et nimia arbitror et cupio ad pauciora me coercere, tanto beatior futurus quanto collectior. namque animi ita ut corporis sanitas expedita, imbecillitas laciniosa est, certumque signum est infirmitatis pluribus indigere. prorsus ad vivendum velut ad natandum is melior, qui onere liberior; sunt enim similiter etiam in ista vitae humanae tempestates levia sustentui, gravia demersui. equidem didici ea re praecedere maxime deos hominibus, quod nulla re ad usum sui indigeant, igitur ex nobis cui quam minimis opus sit, eum esse deo similiorem.
H.E. Butler and A.S. Owen, Apulei Apologia sive Pro Se De Magia Liber: With Introduction and Commentary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1914), p. 59:
paucioris habeo. Sc. seruos. This seems to be the meaning. Cp. 17 paucioris seruos habuit. Apuleius is not averse to the omission of substantives that can be easily understood. Cp. 103 dotalis accipe. Some editors (e.g. Fulvius) emend to habito, 'I live more economically'; or with Pricaeus hold that habeo has here the meaning of habito as in ante-classical Latin, e. g. Plaut. Men. 69 qui Syracusis habet; Trin. 193. Cp. our use of 'keep' Merch. Ven. iii.3: 'It is the most impenetrable cur | that ever kept with men.' But paucioris as a genitive of price needs illustration.

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