Liz Truss in her farewell speech quotes Seneca, Epistulae Morales 104.26: ‘It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare them that they are difficult'. (Non quia difficilia sunt, non audemus; sed quid non audemus, difficilia sunt.)
— Tim Whitmarsh (@Twhittermarsh) October 25, 2022
Steal Quotes from Other people
“Whatever someone else says well, that’s mine.”
quidquid bene dictum est ab ullo, meum est, Seneca, EM 16
From Earlier in the Same Epistle? Seneca, Moral Epistle 104.12
“You will consider losing any of the people you love the worst evil , even though it is as inappropriate as crying because the leaves of the charming trees that decorate your home have fallen. Treat everything that pleases you like those growing plants: while they live, use them, since different plants wilt and die on different days. Just as the the fall of some leaves is a minor affair because they grow back again, so it is with those come you love and you believe are your life’s happiness–they can be replaced even though they are not reborn.
‘New friends won’t be the same!” one objects. Nope, and you won’t be the same either. Every day, every hour changes you. What time takes is easier to see in others, it is hidden in yourself because it doesn’t happen obviously. Others disappear, but we are stolen from ourselves secretly. You will not consider these problems or find any treatment for the wounds. But you will raise up reasons for anxiety by hoping some days, despairing others. If you are smart, you will mix these two. Don’t hope without despairing or despair without hope.”
Gravissimum iudicabis malum, aliquem ex his, quos amabis, amittere, cum interim hoc tam ineptum erit quam flere, quod arboribus amoenis et domum tuam ornantibus decidant folia. Quicquid te delectat, aeque vide ut flores virides; dum virent, utere; alium alio die casus excutiet. Sed quemadmodum frondium iactura facilis est, quia renascuntur, sic istorum, quos amas quosque oblectamenta vitae putas esse, damnum, quia reparantur, etiam si non renascuntur.
“Sed non erunt idem.” Ne tu quidem idem eris. Omnis dies, omnis hora te mutat; sed in aliis rapina facilius apparet, hic latet, quia non ex aperto fiet. Alii auferuntur, at ipsi nobis furto subducimur. Horum nihil cogitabis nec remedia vulneribus oppones, sed ipse tibi seres sollicitudinum causas alia sperando, alia desperando. Si sapis, alterum alteri misce: nec speraveris sine desperatione nec desperaveris sine spe.
Are you even alive? Seneca, De Brevitate Vitae 7
“Therefore, it is not right to think that anyone has lived long because of grey hair or wrinkles. They have not lived a while, but they have existed for a time. Certainly, what if you thought that the person had traveled far whom a terrible storm grabbed in the harbor and dragged here and there in turns of winds raging from different directions over the same space in a circle? They did not travel far, but were tossed around a lot.”
Non est itaque quod quemquam propter canos aut rugas putes diu vixisse; non ille diu vixit, sed diu fuit. Quid enim si illum multum putes navigasse, quem saeva tempestas a portu exceptum huc et illuc tulit ac vicibus ventorum ex diverso furentium per eadem spatia in orbem egit? Non ille multum navigavit, sed multum iactatus est.
Are you even awake? Seneca Moral Epistle 83. 5-7
“Not much of my strength remains for a bath. Then, after I do bathe, I have some dry bread, breakfast without a table. Hands don’t need to be washed after such a meal. After that, I nap for a bit. You are familiar with my custom: I take the shortest bit of sleep, as if just releasing myself from the yoke. It is enough for me to stop staying awake. At times, I know I have slept; at others, I only suspect it.”
Non multum mihi balneum superest. Panis deinde siccus et sine mensa prandium, post quod non sunt lavandae manus. Dormio minimum. Consuetudinem meam nosti: brevissimo somno utor et quasi interiungo. Satis est mihi vigilare desisse. Aliquando dormisse me scio, aliquando suspicor.
Let’s Talk about Death, baby: Seneca, Moral Epistle 30.17-18
“If we want to clarify the causes of our fear, we will discover that some are there and others only seem to exist. We do not fear death, but the thought of death. For we are always distant by some degree from death. Thus, if death must be feared, it should always be feared. For what portion of our time is free from death?
But I ought to fear that you fear the length of this letter more than death. So, I will bring it to an end. Nevertheless, think about death always so that you may not fear it. Farewell.
Si distinguere voluerimus causas metus nostri, inveniemus alias esse, alias videri. Non mortem timemus, sed cogitationem mortis. Ab ipsa enim semper tantundem absumus. Ita si timenda mors est, semper timenda est. Quod enim morti tempus exemptum est?
Sed vereri debeo, ne tam longas epistulas peius quam mortem oderis. Itaque finem faciam. Tu tamen mortem ut numquam timeas, semper cogita. Vale.
Better Off Dead? Seneca, Moral Epistle 22.12-13
“And look, here is something that comes to my mind which I don’t know if it is truer or more well-put. “Whose saying?” you ask? It is Epicurus, for I am still sewing my quilt from other people’s fragments. “Everyone leaves from life just as if they just had entered it”.
Grab anyone suddenly—a youth, an old man, someone in the middle—and you will find them equally afraid of death and without understanding of life. No one has finished anything, because we keep postponing everything we do to tomorrow. Nothing makes me happier in that quotation than the fact that it calls old men out for being babies.
“No one”, he says, “leaves the world differently from the way in which they were born.” This is false! We are worse when we die than when we are born. This is our fault, not nature’s. Nature ought to criticize us, saying, “What is this? I produced you without desires, without fear, without superstition, without treachery and these diseases! Leave as you were when you got here!”
et occurrit mihi ecce nescio utrum verior an eloquentior. “Cuius?” inquis; Epicuri, adhuc enim alienas sarcinas adsero; “Nemo non ita exit e vita, tamquam modo intraverit.” Quemcumque vis occupa, adulescentem senem medium; invenies aeque timidum mortis, aeque inscium vitae. Nemo quicquam habet facti, in futurum enim nostra distulimus. Nihil me magis in ista voce delectat quam quod exprobratur senibus infantia. “Nemo,” inquit, “aliter quam qui modo natus est exit e vita.” Falsum est; peiores morimur quam nascimur. Nostrum istud, non naturae vitium est. Illa nobiscum queri debet et dicere: “Quid hoc est? Sine cupiditatibus vos genui, sine timoribus, sine superstitione, sine perfidia ceterisque pestibus; quales intrastis exite.”
You’re faking it, I’m Faking It. Hurray: Seneca, Moral Epistles 120, 21-22
“Those people I describe are like this, that kind of man Horace talks about, someone who is never the same or even really like himself. That’s how far he walks in the opposite direction. Did I mention that many are like this? It is the same way with most people. Everyone changes their plans and prayers daily. Someone wants a spouse, then only a bit of fun on the side. Someone wants to rule, then they act more officious than an enslaved person. One day, someone flexes to the point of derision, only to withdraw and shrink into more humility than those who are truly without pretense. They throw money about and then hoard it!
This is how a silly mind exposes itself. It takes this form and then another and then never looks like itself. This is, for me, the worst way to be. I do understand, it is hard to take the shape of one person alone. No one can truly be singular except for the wise person, so the rest of us try on different masks in turn. We seem sober and serious one moment and then wasteful and silly the next. We often change our roles and play a part against where we started.
For this reason, try to play the same character to the end of life’s game that you started at the beginning. Try to make people praise you. If you can’t, at least let them recognize you. Otherwise, when it comes to someone you saw yesterday, they can ask, “who is this person?” That’s how much change you allow. Goodbye!”
Homines isti tales sunt, qualem hunc describit Horatius Flaccus, numquam eundem, ne similem quidem sibi; adeo in diversum aberrat. Multos dixi? Prope est, ut omnes sint. Nemo non cotidie et consilium mutat et votum. Modo uxorem vult habere, modo amicam, modo regnare vult, modo id agit, ne quis sit officiosior servus, modo dilatat se usque ad invidiam, modo subsidit et contrahitur infra humilitatem vere iacentium, nunc pecuniam spargit, nunc rapit.
Sic maxime coarguitur animus inprudens; alius prodit atque alius et, quo turpius nihil iudico, impar sibi est. Magnam rem puta unum hominem agere. Praeter sapientem autem nemo unum agit, ceteri multiformes sumus. Modo frugi tibi videbimur et graves, modo prodigi et vani. Mutamus subinde personam et contrariam ei sumimus, quam exuimus. Hoc ergo a te exige, ut, qualem institueris praestare te, talem usque ad exitum serves. Effice ut possis laudari, si minus, ut adgnosci. De aliquo, quem here vidisti, merito dici potest: “hic qui est?” Tanta mutatio est. Vale.
We’re All CraZy aNYwaY: Seneca, Moral Epistles 94.17
“This part of precepts should be tossed away because it can’t give to everyone what it guarantees to a small few. Wisdom, however, welcomes all. There’s no difference, really, between the popular madness in general and the kind that requires medical treatment except that the individual suffers from a disease and the masses are afflicted by false opinions. For one, the symptoms of insanity develop from poor health, the other arises from sick minds.
If one offers maxims to a madman about how to speak, or walk, or how to act in public and private, they’d prove to be crazier than the one they’re advising. Someone really needs to treat their black bile and remove the initial cause of the affliction. This is what is required for a diseased mind too. The madness needs to be shed first, otherwise all your words of warning are useless.”
“Ergo ista praeceptiva pars summovenda est, quia quod paucis promittit, praestare omnibus non potest; sapientia autem omnes tenet. Inter insaniam publicamet hanc, quae medicis traditur, nihil interest nisi quod haec morbo laborat, illa opinionibus falsis. Altera causas furoris traxit ex valitudine, altera animi mala valitudo est. Si quis furioso praecepta det, quomodo loqui debeat, quomodo procedere, quomodo in publico se gerere, quomodo in privato, erit ipso, quem monebit, insanior. Ei bilis1 nigra curanda est et ipsa furoris causa removenda. Idem in hoc alio animi furore faciendum est. Ipse discuti debet; alioqui abibunt in vanum monentium verba.”
IDK, Maybe Seneca Sucks: Fronto to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (“On Speeches”, Ambr. 382)
“…I am not ignorant that Seneca is a person fully stuffed and overflowing with ideas, but to be honest I see his sentences as trotting around, announcing their course with a full gallop, but stopping to fight nowhere and never striking the sublime. Like Laberius, he plays at wit-darts, or really just assembling sounds, rather than composing words worth repeating.
Do you believe that you would uncover graver sentiments on the same ideas in your Annaeus than in Sergius*? Ah, Sergius’ words don’t have the same rhythm or the same speed as Seneca’s, I admit. The sounds don’t sing the same, I won’t deny it.
But what if the same meal is offered to two people and the first picks up the olives on the table with his fingers, brings them to his mouth, puts them between his teeth to chew them in the right and proper way, while the other throws them up high and catches them with his mouth open and then shows them off once caught with his lips like a juggler? Really, children at school would applaud at what was done and the guest would be entertained, but one will have eaten lunch properly while the other did tricks with his lips.
So you say that some things are expressed cleverly and some with weight. But sometimes little silver coins are found in the sewer. Should we take over the job of cleaning the sewers too?”
Neque ignoro copiosum sententiis et redundantem hominem esse: verum sententias eius tolutares video nusquam quadripedo concitas cursu ten<d>ere, nusquam pugnare, nusquam maiestatem studere; ut Laberius dictabolaria, immo dicteria, potius eum quam dicta confingere.
Itane existimas graviores sententias et eadem de re apud Annaeum istum reperturum te quam apud Sergium? Sed non modulatas aeque: fateor; neque ita| cordaces: ita est; neque ita tinnulas: non nego. Quid vero, si prandium utrique adponatur, adpositas oleas alter digitis prendat, ad os adferat, ut manducandi ius fasque est ita dentibus subiciat, alter autem oleas suas in altum iaciat, ore aperto excipiat, ut calculos praestigiator, primoribus labris ostentet? Ea re profecto pueri laudent, convivae delectentur; sed alter pudice pranderit, alter labellis gesticulatus erit.
At enim sunt quaedam in libris eius scite dicta, graviter quoque nonnulla. Etiam laminae interdum argentiolae cloacis inveniuntur; eane re cloacas purgandas redimemus?