Ah, Death Sorts it All Out in The End

Seneca, Moral Epistles 110.3-5

“But there’s no reason why you should pray for the gods to be hateful to someone you think deserves punishment. I say they are being punished, even if the person seems to be lucky. Put your own attention to this and examine how our lives actually go and not what they are said to be. Then you will see that evils change us more than just happen.

How many times has something first called a disaster turned out to be the cause and beginning of good fortune? How many times have advantages built steps for themselves with great thanks straight up, lifting someone who was already doing well, as if they were standing in place they could fall safely from!

Well, that guy falling has no real evil in it, if you see the way out, beyond which nature can kick no one lower! That shared end of all things is near–that’s the place where the successful person is thrown out, where the unlucky is released. We expand both boundaries, we create them with great hope and fear.

Yet, if you are wise, measure everything by the human condition. Keep both what you fear and what you take joy in reasonable. Truly, don’t take joy in anything too long so that you may not fear too long either.”

Sed non est quare cuiquam, quem poena putaveris dignum, optes, ut infestos deos habeat; habet, inquam, etiam si videtur eorum favore produci. Adhibe diligentiam tuam et intuere, quid sint res nostrae, non quid vocentur; et scies plura mala contingere nobis quam accidere. Quotiens enim felicitatis et1 causa et initium fuit, quod calamitas vocabatur? Quotiens magna gratulatione excepta res gradum sibi struxit in praeceps et aliquem iam eminentem adlevavit etiamnunc, tamquam adhuc ibi staret, unde tuto cadunt? Sed ipsum illud cadere non habet in se mali quidquam, si exitum spectes, ultra quem natura neminem deiecit. Prope est rerum omnium terminus, prope est, inquam, et illud, unde felix eicitur, et illud, unde infelix emittitur; nos utraque extendimus et longa spe ac metu facimus.

Sed si sapis, omnia humana condicione metire; simul et quod gaudes et quod times, contrahe. Est autem tanti nihil diu gaudere, ne quid diu timeas.

black and white photograph of a skull

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