Seneca, Moral Epistles 52.5-6
“Imagine that two buildings have been built. They are different at the foundation, but the same in height and beauty. One has a perfect plot and the labor proceeds without delay. But the other takes forever at the foundations as the building materials are spent in the soft, moving ground and labor is exhausted to make it to something solid.
You can look at both of them and see clearly how far the first building has come, while the greater, more difficult part of the other one lies hidden. It is the same way with people’s characters: some are easily handled while others, as they say, must be carefully worked by hand and are completely occupied working on their own foundations.
I would call someone who has never had any problem with themselves lucky, but the other has earned better for themselves because they have defeated the rot of their own nature and haven’t merely led themselves to wisdom, but dragged themselves there.”
Puta enim duo aedificia excitata esse, ab imo disparia, aeque excelsa atque magnifica. Alterum puram aream accepit; illic protinus opus crevit. Alterum fundamenta lassarunt in mollem et fluvidam humum missa multumque laboris exhaustum est, dum pervenitur ad solidum. Intuenti ambo quicquid fecit alter in aperto est, alteriusmagna pars et difficilior latet. Quaedam ingenia facilia, expedita, quaedam manu, quod aiunt, facienda sunt et in fundamentis suis occupata. Itaque illum ego feliciorem dixerim, qui nihil negotii secum habuit, hunc quidem melius de se meruisse, qui malignitatem naturae suae vicit et ad sapientiam se non perduxit, sed extraxit.