Perfection and the Unhappiest Minds

Seneca, Moral Epistles 124.23-24

“What is this state? A refined and pure mind, a god’s rival, elevating itself beyond human matters and putting nothing of itself beyond itself. You are a rational animal. What, then, is the good in you? Complete reason. Can you  call this to its very limit, to make it grow as far as possible?

Judge yourself to be happy when every part of your joy arises from this and when you discover nothing you want–I did not say prefer–after examining all the things that men grab for, pray for, and guard. I give you a short phrase by which you may text yourself, by which you may see that you are finished: you will possess your own when you understand that happy people are the most unhappy of all. BYE”

Quod est hoc? Animus scilicet emendatus ac purus, aemulator dei, super humana se extollens, nihil extra se sui ponens. Rationale animal es. Quod ergo in te bonum est? Perfecta ratio. An tu ad suum finem hanc evocas, in quantum potest plurimum crescere? Tunc beatum esse te iudica, cum tibi ex ea gaudium omne nascetur, cum visis, quae homines eripiunt, optant, custodiunt, nihil inveneris, non dico quod malis, sed quod velis. Brevem tibi formulam dabo, qua te metiaris, qua perfectum esse iam sentias: tunc habebis tuum, cum intelleges infelicissimos esse felices. Vale.

picture of a monkey about to hit a sleeping lion with a stick. There is a latin title "Rationale animal es" which means "you are a rational animal"

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