Glory & Anxiety

Petrarch, Epistles 4.4:

“I know that in human affairs, there is nothing solid. In a great part of our cares and actions, unless I am mistaken, we are deceived by mere shadows. Yet, as the mind of youth is more desirous of glory than of virtue, why – since you provide me with the audacity to brag to you – should I not think that this is as much a glory to me as Syphax, once the most powerful king of Africa, thought it for himself, that he was called to friendship with the two greatest cities in the world at one and the same time, namely Rome and Carthage?

To be sure, that was a tribute to his kingdom and his riches, but this is a tribute to me. And so, suppliants found him resting on a haughty throne among gold and gems, surrounded by a crowd of armed toadies, but my friends found me wandering alone in the woods in the morning, in the fields later on, walking along the banks of the Sorgue. Honor was offered to me where assistance was sought from him.

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Scio quidem in rebus humanis fere omnibus nichil solidi inesse; magna, ni fallor, in parte curarum actuumque nostrorum umbris eludimur; tamen ut est animus iuvenum glorie appetentior quam virtutis, cur non ego — quoniam apud te familiariter gloriandi prestas audaciam — tam hoc michi gloriosum rear quam sibi olim potentissimus Africe regum Siphax, quod uno eodemque tempore duarum toto orbe maximarum urbium, Rome atque Carthaginis, in amicitiam vocaretur?

Nimirum, id regno eius atque opibus tribuebatur, hoc michi; itaque illum inter aurum ac gemmas superbo solio subnixum et armatis stipatum satellitibus sui supplices repperere; me solivagum mane in silvis, sero autem in pratis, Sorgie ripis obambulantem invenerunt mei; michi honor offertur, ab illo auxilium poscebatur.

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