Seneca, Epistulae ad Lucilium 14.1

It was the habit of the ancients, preserved up to my time even, to add to the first part of a letter: ‘If you’re doing well, that’s great – I’m doing well!’ We, however, say more appropriately: ‘If you’re a philosopher, that’s great!’ For this, precisely, is what it means to “do well”.

mos antiquis fuit usque ad meam servatus aetatem, primis epistulae verbis adicere: ‘si vales bene est, ego valeo.’ recte nos dicimus: ‘si philosopharis, bene est.’ valere enim hoc demum est.

It should perhaps be noted that anyone inclined to follow Seneca’s advice on this point and apply it even to matters of career selection may later find himself in need of further maxims from Seneca, which amply praise the virtues of poverty.

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