Philosophers Love the Rise and Grind

Seneca, Moral Epistles 122.1-3

“The day has already felt shortening. It has lost a good deal but there may still be enough space left if one gets up, as they say, with the day itself. Anyone who anticipates the day and precedes the dawn itself is more effective and better. But someone who is still dozing when the sun is high or who begins their day at noon is gross. And, yet, to many of these, noon seems like it is before the dawn.

There are those who have exchanged the duties of night and day–they don’t open eyes damp with yesterday’s hangover until night begins to take the sky. This is like the condition of those people whom nature, as Vergil claims, has set opposite to us: “When Dawn turns his gasping horses towards us / then red Evening kindles her late burning fires for them”

It’s not so much the region of these men as their life that’s opposed to ours. There are those “antipodean” folks in this city who, as Marcus Cato used to say, never see the run rising or setting. Can you believe that these people who don’t know when to live can know how they must live? Do you think these people who have covered themselves while still alive fear death?

They are as odd as nocturnal birds. While they spend their life in shadows amid wine and perfume and all their perverse hours at banquets cooked in countless courses, they don’t dine as much as they attend their own funeral feasts! At least the dead are celebrated in the daytime.

By god, the day is not long for anyone who stays active! Let us extend our life–the duty and test of living is in what we do. Let’s draw a line around the night and move some of it to day.”

Detrimentum iam dies sensit. Resiluit aliquantum, ita tamen ut liberale adhuc spatium sit, si quis cum ipso, ut ita dicam, die surgat. Officiosior meliorque, si quis illum exspectat et lucem primam excipit; turpis, qui alto sole semisomnus iacet, cuius vigilia medio die incipit; et adhuc multis hoc antelucanum est. Sunt qui officia lucis noctisque perverterint nec ante diducant oculos hesterna graves crapula quam adpetere nox coepit. Qualis illorum condicio dicitur, quos natura, ut ait Vergilius, sedibus nostris subditos e contrario posuit,

​Nosque ubi primus equis Oriens adflavit anhelis,
Illis sera rubens accendit lumina Vesper

talis horum contraria omnibus non regio, sed vita est. Sunt quidam in eadem urbe antipodes, qui, ut M. Cato ait, nec orientem umquam solem viderunt nec occidentem. Hos tu existimas scire quemadmodum vivendum sit, qui nesciunt quando? Et hi mortem timent, in quam se vivi condiderunt? Tam infausti quam nocturnae aves sunt. Licet in vino unguentoque tenebras suas exigant, licet epulis et quidem in multa fericula discoctis totum perversae vigiliae tempus educant, non convivantur, sed iusta sibi faciunt. Mortuis certe interdiu parentatur.

At mehercules nullus agenti dies longus est. Extendamus vitam; huius et officium et argumentum actus est. Circumscribatur nox, et aliquid ex illa in diem transferatur.

picture of an ocean beach at dawn with the Latin "circumscribitur nox et aliquid ex illa in diem transferatur" which means "let's circumscribe the night and transfer part of it to the day"

Seneca never got to listen to Morphine “Early to bed and early to rise / Makes a man or woman miss out on the night life”

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