Trolling with Seneca on Twitter?

A twitter follower alerted me to the following:

One need not look far in Senator Rubio’s TL for the passage

The passage with our translation: Seneca, Moral Epistles 114.23-4

“Our mind is a king—if it is temperate, the rest of its duties remain functional and obey it; but when it is just a little sick, they are uncertain too. When the mind has given in to pleasure, its faculties and skills are limited and it attempts everything weakly and without conviction. I will persist in using this simile: our mind is sometimes a king and sometimes a tyrant. It is a king when it defends the honorable and cares for the body which is trusted to it, it orders nothing ignoble or dirty. But an undisciplined mind, filled with avarice, given to pleasure, changes into that hateful and harsh title, tyrant. Uncurtailed emotions rule it—at the beginning they delight, but soon like a people solicited with a largess that will bring them ruin, it corrupts whatever it cannot consume.”

Rex noster est animus. Hoc incolumi cetera manent in officio, parent, optemperant; cum ille paulum vaccillavit, simul dubitant. Cum vero cessit voluptati, artes quoque eius actusque marcent et omnis ex languido fluidoque conatus es. [24] Quoniam hac similitudine usus sum, perseverabo: animus noster modo rex est, modo tyrannus. Rex, cum honesta intuetur, salutem commissi sibi corporis curat, et illi nihil imperat turpe, nihil sordidum. Ubi vero inpotens, cupidus, delicatus est, transit in nomen detestabile ac dirum et fit tyrannus; tunc illum excipiunt adfectus inpotentes et instant, qui initio quidem gaudent, ut solet populus largitione nocitura frustra plenus, et quae non potest haurire, contrectat.


Trolling a president using Latin? The Senator from Florida is stealing my game. Now, who thinks he translated this himself?

For more on tyrants and the art of classical subtweeting, we can consider “Why Democracies Vote for Tyrants” or “The Difference between Tyrants and Kings” or the “Tricks One Plays to become a Tyrant” or simply investigate the origins of the word.

[Update, April 2, 2018: To complete a virtuous circle, this post was linked in an opinion piece for the “failing New York Times“.]

8 thoughts on “Trolling with Seneca on Twitter?

Leave a Reply