Monday, September 26, 2016



Seneca, On Tranquillity of Mind 2.13-15 (tr. John W. Basore):
[13] Hence men undertake wide-ranging travel, and wander over remote shores, and their fickleness, always discontented with the present, gives proof of itself now on land and now on sea. "Now let us head for Campania," they say. And now when soft living palls, "Let us see the wild parts," they say, "let us hunt out the passes of Bruttium and Lucania." And yet amid that wilderness something is missing—something pleasant wherein their pampered eyes may find relief from the lasting squalor of those rugged regions: "Let us head for Tarentum with its famous harbour and its mild winter climate, and a territory rich enough to have a horde of people even in antiquity." Too long have their ears missed the shouts and the din; it delights them by now even to enjoy human blood: [14] "Let us now turn our course toward the city." They undertake one journey after another and change spectacle for spectacle. As Lucretius [3.1068] says:
Thus ever from himself doth each man flee.
[15] But what does he gain if he does not escape from himself? He ever follows himself and weighs upon himself as his own most burdensome companion. And so we ought to understand that what we struggle with is the fault, not of the places, but of ourselves; when there is need of endurance, we are weak, and we cannot bear toil or pleasure or ourselves or anything very long. It is this that has driven some men to death, because by often altering their purpose they were always brought back to the same things and had left themselves no room for anything new. They began to be sick of life and the world itself, and from the self-indulgences that wasted them was born the thought: "How long shall I endure the same things?"

[13] Inde peregrinationes suscipiuntur vagae et invia litora pererrantur et modo mari se modo terra experitur semper praesentibus infesta levitas. "Nunc Campaniam petamus." Iam delicata fastidio sunt: "Inculta videantur, Bruttios et Lucaniae saltus persequamur." Aliquid tamen inter deserta amoeni requiritur, in quo luxuriosi oculi longo locorum horrentium squalore releventur: "Tarentum petatur laudatusque portus et hiberna caeli mitioris et regio vel antiquae satis opulenta turbae." Nimis diu a plausu et fragore aures vacaverunt, iuvat iam et humano sanguine frui: [14] "Iam flectamus cursum ad urbem." Aliud ex alio iter suscipitur et spectacula spectaculis mutantur. Ut ait Lucretius:
Hoc se quisque modo semper fugit.
[15] Sed quid prodest, si non effugit? Sequitur se ipse et urget gravissimus comes. Itaque scire debemus non locorum vitium esse quo laboramus, sed nostrum; infirmi sumus ad omne tolerandum, nec laboris patientes nec voluptatis nec nostri nec ullius rei diutius. Hoc quosdam egit ad mortem, quod proposita saepe mutando in eadem revolvebantur et non reliquerant novitati locum. Fastidio esse illis coepit vita et ipse mundus, et subît illud tabidarum deliciarum: "Quousque eadem?"
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