New Year’s Resolution Advice from Macrobius and Friends

Macrobius, 1.11.8-11

“Some are slaves to desire, others to greed, others to ambition; all are enthralled to hope, all to fear. To be sure, there is no slavery more base than one voluntarily undertaken. But we walk all over the man subjected to the yoke imposed by fortune as though he were a wretched and worthless character, but we do not suffer the yoke which we place upon our own necks to be jeered at. You will find among servants one with a deeper purse than the others, you will even find a lord himself kissing the hands of another man’s servants in the hope of financial gain; I do not, therefore, form my opinion of people based on their fortune, but on their character. Chance assigns you a condition, but you give yourself a character.”

alius libidini servit, alius avaritiae, alius ambitioni, omnes spei, omnes timori. et certe nulla servitus turpior quam voluntaria. at nos iugo a fortuna imposito subiacentem tamquam miserum vilemque calcamus, quod vero nos nostris cervicibus inserimus non patimur reprehendi. invenies inter servos aliquem pecunia fortiorem, invenies dominum spe lucri oscula alienorum servorum manibus infigentem: non ergo fortuna homines aestimabo sed moribus. sibi quisque dat mores, condicionem casus adsignat.

Or, you could start a new workout routine like Socrates:

 

Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights, 1.1

The way that Socrates developed the endurance of his body; and also on the temperance of that man.

“Among the voluntary actions and bodily exercises for enhancing his endurance against any possible event, we have heard that Socrates used to do this regularly: it is reported that Socrates was in that habit of standing all day long in one position, from the first shine of light one day until the next sunrise, without moving from the same footprints, keeping his eyes directed in a single place and in deep thought, as if his mind and spirit were separated from his body. This is why, when Favorinus was mentioning the strength of that man and his other qualities, he added: “He often stood from sunrise to sunrise, more solid than tree-trunks” (fr. 97.1).
His temperance was so great, as it is reported, that he lived his entire life with uncompromised health. Even during the ruin of that plague, which at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war destroyed the Athenian state with an unknown type of disease, he is said to have avoided the dangers of pleasure and to have maintained the health of his body with his habits of abstention and moderation to such a degree that he was not at all afflicted by the disaster touching everyone else.”

Quo genere solitus sit philosophus Socrates exercere patientiam corporis; deque eiusdem viri temperantia.

1 Inter labores voluntarios et exercitia corporis ad fortuitas patientiae vices firmandi id quoque accepimus Socraten facere insuevisse: 2 stare solitus Socrates dicitur pertinaci statu perdius atque pernox a summo lucis ortu ad solem alterum orientem inconivens, immobilis, isdem in vestigiis et ore atque oculis eundem in locum directis cogitabundus tamquam quodam secessu mentis atque animi facto a corpore. 3 Quam rem cum Favorinus de fortitudine eius viri ut pleraque disserens attigisset: πολλάκις ἐξ ἡλίου εἰς ἥλιον εἱστήκει ἀστραβέστερος τῶν πρέμνων (Fav. Fr. 97.1).

4 Temperantia quoque fuisse eum tanta traditum est, ut omnia fere vitae suae tempora valitudine inoffensa vixerit. 5 In illius etiam pestilentiae vastitate, quae in belli Peloponnesiaci principis Atheniensium civitatem internecivo genere morbi depopulata est, is parcendi moderandique rationibus dicitur et a voluptatum labe cavisse et salubritates corporis retinuisse, ut nequaquam fuerit communi omnium cladi obnoxius.

Earlier in the Attic Nights Aulus reports a difference type of exercise to keep the philosopher sharp.

roman-death-mosaic

Also, get rich and work less, like Seneca:

“Labor is not a good thing. What then is a good thing? The contempt of labor.”

labor bonum non est. quid ergo est bonum? laboris contemptio.

Seneca, Epistles to Lucilius 4.2 (31)

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