Avoiding The Elections of Fortune

Seneca, Moral Epistle 118.1-3

“You’re pressing me for more frequent letters. Let’s compare the count: You will end up owing! Surely, there was an agreement that yours came first,–you would write and I would respond. But I won’t be difficult; I know well you can be trusted. I will give you an advance and not do what Cicero, that very refined man, ordered Atticus to do: “If he has no business to report, to write whatever comes to his lips!”

It is impossible for me not to have something to write, enough so that I can skip all the kinds of things filling up Cicero’s letters: which candidate is having trouble; who is fighting on his own dime and who’s relying on other’s; who stands for the consulship with Caesar’s support, who with Pompey; and who uses his own cash; how harsh a lender Caecilius is, a man from whom even his friends can’t budge a cent at less than 1 percent interest.

It is better to manage your own problems rather than someone else’s, to examine yourself and see how many mistakes you’re a candidate for and not to be voting for them. My Lucilius,, this is an outstanding thing, this is safety and freedom: to seek nothing and to walk right past luck’s elections.”

Exigis a me frequentiores epistulas. Rationes conferamus; solvendo non eris. Convenerat quidem, ut tua priora essent, tu scriberes, ego rescriberem. Sed non ero difficilis; bene credi tibi scio. Itaque in anticessum dabo nec faciam, quod Cicero, vir disertissimus, facere Atticum iubet, ut etiam “si rem nullam habebit, quod in buccam venerit scribat.”

Numquam potest deesse, quod scribam, ut omnia illa, quae Ciceronis implent epistulas, transeam: quis candidatus laboret; quis alienis, quis suis viribus pugnet; quis consulatum fiducia Caesaris, quis Pompei, quis arcae petat; quam durus sit faenerator Caecilius, a quo minoris centesimis propinqui nummum movere non possint.

Sua satius est mala quam aliena tractare, se excutere et videre, quam multarum rerum candidatus 3sit, et non suffragari. Hoc est, mi Lucili, egregium, hoc securum ac liberum, nihil petere et tota fortunae comitia transire.

Color picture of man from 2000 examining a ballot in Florida during the recount of the presidential election
scouring for the truth of the votes inside our minds

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