The Things You Love

Seneca Moral Epistles 66.24-26

“The fact is that friendship among people is like what is sought in things. I think that you would not love a good man who is rich more than a poor one, nor a strong and broad one more than someone with a slight, thin frame; so I don’t think that you will seek or love something that is funny and calming more than something distracting and complex.

Well, if this is the case, then  from two equally good and wise men you are tending more to the one who is clean and well-kempt rather than the dirty, unshaven one. Then you’d proceed so far as to care more about the man with strong limbs and clean skin than one who is weak or nearly blind. If you did this, your attention would eventually get to the point that you would prefer a man with curly hair from two equally just and wise choices.

Whenever the virtue is equal in both, there’s no clear inequality in other characteristics. All the other things are no parts, but additions. For who would judge their children so unequally as to prefer to care more for a healthy child than a sick one, or a tall, huge one over someone who is short or average in height. Wild animals show no favor to their children and nourish them the same. Birds distribute their their food equally.

Odysseus hurries back to the rocks of Ithaca as quickly as Agamemnon rushes home to the walls of Mycenae. No one loves their homeland because it is great, but because it is their own.”

Quod amicitia in hominibus est, hoc in rebus adpetitio. Non, puto, magis amares virum bonum locupletem quam pauperem, nec robustum et lacertosum quam gracilem et languidi corporis; ergo ne rem quidem magis adpetes aut amabis hilarem ac pacatamquam distractam et operosam.

Aut si hoc est, magis diliges ex duobus aeque bonis viris nitidum et unctum quam pulverulentum et horrentem. Deinde hoc usque pervenies, ut magis diligas integrum omnibus membris et inlaesum quam debilem aut luscum. Paulatim fastidium tuum illo usque procedet, ut ex duobus aeque iustis ac prudentibus comatum et crispulum malis. Ubi par in utroque virtus est, non conparet aliarum rerum inaequalitas. Omnia enim alia non partes, sed accessiones sunt. Num quis tam iniquam censuram inter suos agit, ut sanum filium quam aegrum magis diligat, procerumve et excelsum quam brevem aut modicum? Fetus suos non distinguunt ferae et se in alimentum pariter omnium sternunt; aves ex aequo partiuntur cibos. Vlixes ad Ithacae suae saxa sic properat, quemadmodum Agamemnon ad Mycenarum nobiles muros. Nemo enim patriam quia magna est amat, sed quia sua.

Heart shape from hands around sunset near the ocean with text in latin saying "Nemo enim patriam quia magna est amat, sed quia sua." This means: "No one loves their homeland because it is great, but because it is their own."

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