Seneca, Moral Epistle 19.11-12
“I might be able use this saying of Maecenas to settle up my account with you But, if I know you, you will lodge a complaint against me that you don’t want to accept what I owe in this rough and debased form. Whatever happens, I have to give you these words from Epicurus:
“You must examine who you eat and drink with rather than what you eat and drink. For a barbeque without a friend is the life of a lion or wolf.” Well this won’t be your situation unless you retire; until then you will have whomever your head of household invites from the crowd of visitors. Someone makes a mistake, however, who seeks a friend in the dining hall or examines them over dinner. A person overwhelmed by their own possessions has no greater evil than believing they have friends in people they don’t actually like and thinking that their own gifts actually create friendships, when there are people who hate more because they owe more. A small loan makes someone a debtor; a big one makes them your enemy.
“What then? Gifts don’t help with friendship?” They help, if you can choose who accepts them, if they are carefully placed and not just tossed around.
So, while you are beginning to be of your own mind, use this advice from the wise: see that it is who gets something that matters more than what they receive.”
Poteram tecum hac Maecenatis sententia parem facere rationem. Sed movebis mihi controversiam, si novi te, nec voles quod debeo in aspero et inprobo accipere. Ut se res habet, ab Epicuro versura facienda est. “Ante,” inquit, “circumspiciendum est, cum quibus edas et bibas, quam quid edas e bibas. Nam sine amico visceratio leonis ac lupi vita est.” Hoc non continget tibi, nisi secesseris; alioqui habebis convivas, quos ex turba salutantium nomenclator digesserit. Errat autem, qui amicum in atrio quaerit, in convivio probat. Nullum habet maius malum occupatus homo et bonis suis obsessus, quam quod amicos sibi putat, quibus ipse non est, quod beneficia sua efficacia iudicat ad conciliandos amicos, cum quidam, quo plus debent, magis oderint. Leve aes alienum debitorem facit, grave inimicum. “Quid ergo? Beneficia non parant amicitias?” Parant, si accepturos licuit eligere, si conlocata, non sparsa sunt.
Itaque dum incipis esse mentis tuae, interim hoc consilio sapientium utere, ut magis ad rem existimes pertinere, quis, quam quid acceperit. Vale.