Petrarch Gets Advice on Living His Best Life

Petrarch, Secretum 2.6:

“You ought on the other hand to confess that nothing is sweeter or more pleasant than such a life as long as you live by your own laws and not those of the raging mob. Why then do you torture yourself? If you measure yourself by your own nature, you were rich long ago; if you measure yourself by popular applause, you will never be rich, but something will always remain. You will pursue it and be snatched away through the steep precipices of desire. Do you remember with how much pleasure you used to wander around the distant countryside, and how you were at one time drinking in the murmur of the plashing water as you lay in the grassy meadows? How at another time you were measuring out the field below with a free glance? How at one time you were enjoying longed-for tranquility as you were seized by sleep lying in a shady spot of the sunny valley; how you were never totally idle, but always revolving something lofty in your mind, and never alone in the company of the Muses? Then, you followed the example of the old man in Vergil who

“was equaling the riches of kings in his mind, and returning home late at night was loading his table with a meal which he did not buy”

as you returned to your home at sunset content with your own goods. Did you not then seem to be by far the richest and clearly the most fortunate of all mortals?”

petrarch1

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