Lying By Habit? Seneca Writes a Reader’s Report

Seneca, Moral Epistle 46

I received your book that you promised me, although I opened it with the intention of reading it later, since I wanted just a taste.  But then I found it so charming that I lingered on it a bit longer. You can see from this how fluid it is–it struck me as smoothly written even though it seemed to come from neither my flesh nor yours. No,  at first glance it could remind of Livy or Epicurus. It gripped me  and carried me along so much with its phrasing that I read it without a moment of delay. The sun beckoned to me; hunger lingered over me;  clouds threatened, but I consumed that whole book still.

I wasn’t just happy, no, I was elated. It was so full of genius and spirit. I would have added something about its power too, if the book had any time for rest or if it rose to crescendo from time to time. But there were no sudden flourishes–instead, it presents a steady pace, a cadence that was both strong and safe. Still, there were moments here of sweetness, of softness from place to place. Your writing is elevated yet direct. I hope you keep to this, that you continue in this way. Your topic added something too–this is why you should keep selecting powerful subjects–they seize the wit and excite it.

I will write more about the book when I reread it. For now, my sense of it is a little shifting, as if I had listened to the book, not read it. Let me peruse it more. You don’t need to be wary, you will hear the truth.  What a lucky guy! You have given no chance for someone to lie to you from a distance. Unless the fact is that when the reasons for lying are removed, we continue to lie by habit. Bye.”

Librum tuum, quem mihi promiseras, accepi et tamquam lecturus ex commodo adaperui ac tantum degustare volui. Deinde blanditus est ipse, ut procederem longius. Qui quam disertus fuerit, ex hoc intellegas licet; levis mihi visus est, cum esset nec mei nec tui corporis, sed qui primo aspectu aut Titi Livii aut Epicuri posset videri. Tanta autem dulcedine me tenuit et traxit, ut illum sine ull adilatione perlegerim. Sol me invitabat, fames ad monebat, nubes minabantur; tamen exhausi totum.

Non tantum delectatus, sed gavisus sum. Quid ingenii iste habuit, quid animi! Dicerem, quid inpetus, si interquievisset, si ex intervallo surrexisset; nunc non fuit inpetus, sed tenor, conpositio virilis et sancta; nihilominus interveniebat dulce illud et loco lene. Grandis, erectus es; hoc te volo tenere, sic ire. Fecit aliquid et materia; ideo eligenda est fertilis, quae capiat ingenium, quae incitet.

De libro plura scribam cum illum retractavero; nunc parum mihi sedet iudicium, tamquam audierim illa, non legerim. Sine me et inquirere. Non est quod verearis; verum audies. O te hominem felicem, quod nihil habes, propter quod quisquam tibi tam longe mentiatur! Nisi quod iam etiam ubi causa sublata est, mentimur consuetudinis causa. Vale.

Bradd Pitt and Edward Norton from Fight Club looking straight forwarad with latin text that says "cum esset nec mei nec tui corporis" which means "it seemed to come from neither my body nor yours"

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