“Curved, well-turned, with a single ear on a long neck,
Slim-throated, speaking through lips close-kept,
You happy server of Bacchus, the Muses, and Aphrodite,
Our party’s delightful mistress, laughing sweetly.
Why are you drunk when I’m sober, but when I’m trashed,
You’re sober? You break the rules of the drinker’s pact.”
“For me, the intensity of the business I am now engaged in might give me some reason for a lack of correspondence. In addition, the smell I have contracted from excessive association with the idiotic mob makes me less at ease in addressing you sophisticates who will grow irritable and intolerant if you don’t hear anything worthy of your own wisdom.
But you, I guess, since you are readier to speak than all the Greeks I know, are accustomed to making your voice public on any pretext. And I think I know the most famous people in your ranks. There is no reason for your silence. And that is enough about that.”
I have offered you as briefly as possible what things I think are necessary for our nation and your glory. It does not seem any worse to say a few things now about what I have accomplished here.
Most mortals possess—or pretend to possess—enough intelligence to make judgments. But, in truth, everyone’s soul burns to criticize the words and deeds of others, even though their mouth and tongue are not large and quick enough to produces the words contemplated in their hearts.
It causes me no grief to be subject to these men—no, it would hurt more to stay quiet. For whether you persist on this path or another one, I have spoken and offered help in a manly way. All that is left is to hope that the immortal gods smile on what you do and allow it to turn out well.
Quae rei publicae necessaria tibique gloriosa ratus sum, quam paucissimis apsolvi. Non peius videtur pauca nunc de facto meo disserere. Plerique mortales ad iudicandum satis ingenii habent aut simulant; verum enim ad reprehendunda aliena facta aut dicta ardet omnibus animus, vix satis apertum os aut lingua prompta videtur quae meditata pectore evolvat. Quibus me subiectum haud paenitet, magis reticuisse pigeret. Nam sive hac seu meliore alia via perges, a me quidem pro virili parte dictum et adiutum fuerit. Relicuum est optare uti quae tibi placuerint ea di immortales adprobent beneque evenire sinant.
“Both habits, moreover, should be avoided. Don’t imitate bad people, because there are many of them, nor hate the many, because you aren’t like them. Take shelter in yourself, whenever you can. Spend time with people who will make you a better person. Embrace those whom you can make better. Such improvement is a partnership, for people learn while they teach.”
Utrumque autem devitandum est; neve similis malis fias, quia multi sunt, neve inimicus multis, quia dissimiles sunt. Recede in te ipsum, quantum potes. Cum his versare, qui te meliorem facturi sunt. Illos admitte, quos tu potes facere meliores. Mutuo ista fiunt, et homines, dum docent, discunt.
Seneca, De Beata Vita 17-18
“ ‘This is enough for me: to each day lose one of my vices and recognize my mistakes. I have not perfected my health, nor certainly will I. I hope to relieve my gout rather than cure it, happy if it comes less frequently and cause less pain. But when I compare myself to your feet, I am a sprinter even though crippled.’
I do not say these things for myself—since I am deep in every kind of vice—but for the person who has done something.
You say, “You talk one way but you live another.” This insult, most shameful and hateful friend, was thrown at Plato, tossed at Epicurus, and dropped on Zeno. For all these people were talking not about how they were living themselves but about how they should live. When it comes to virtue, I do not talk about myself, and my fight is with vices, but chiefly my own. When I can, I will live as I should.”
Hoc mihi satis est, cotidie aliquid ex vitiis meis demere et errores meos obiurgare. Non perveni ad sanitatem, ne perveniam quidem; delenimenta magis quam remedia podagrae meae compono, contentus, si rarius accedit et si minus verminatur; vestris quidem pedibus comparatus, debilis1 cursor sum.” Haec non pro me loquor—ego enim in alto vitiorum omnium sum—, sed pro illo, cui aliquid acti est.
“Aliter,” inquis, “loqueris, aliter vivis.” Hoc, malignissima capita et optimo cuique inimicissima, Platoni obiectum est, obiectum Epicuro, obiectum Zenoni; omnes enim isti dicebant non quemadmodum ipsi viverent, sed quemadmodum esset ipsis vivendum. De virtute, non de me loquor, et cum vitiis convicium facio, in primis meis facio. 2Cum potuero, vivam quomodo oportet.
<Lemma> his beauty in reputation was not of a kind with his family; Achilles, however, was adorned in both ways. Because [the poet] was a philhellene, he was trying to make everyone worthy of memory and used to praise everyone as far as he might be believed and so that we might imagine the Greeks to be differentiated in their manliness, or their body, or their beauty.”
“Diplai have been applied to question these three lines because Zenodotus athetized two of them, although he did not mark the middle one, (674) because Homer always strove to have Achilles stand out far in front of the rest.”
“And because of that, Homer mentioned [Nireus] only once and in the Catalog Of Ships, as it seems to me, to make a demonstration of the uselessness of the most beautiful men, when they have none of the other things that are useful for life.”
A super fat dog and a wolf once met
Who was asking him where he was fed
To become a dog so big and filled with grease.
“It is a rich man” he said, “who is feeding me”.
“But,” asked the wolf, “why is your neck so bare?”
“there’s an iron collar which wears my skin there,
A collar which my feeder forged and placed.”
The wolf laughed at him and said to his face:
“I say this kind of luxury can go to heck,
The kind of life where iron wears down my neck.”
“I’m doing well because you are! You have your wife, and you have your son. You enjoy the sea, the streams, the forest, the fields and your most charming home. I cannot doubt that it must be truly charming when it’s the place where a man stays who was already lucky before he became the luckiest!
I am hunting and studying in Tuscany, either taking turns between them or trying them at the same time. I am not able right now to tell you whether it is more difficult to catch something or write about it. Be well!”
C. Plinius Calpurnio Macro Suo S.
1Bene est mihi quia tibi bene est. Habes uxorem tecum, habes filium; frueris mari fontibus viridibus agro villa amoenissima. Neque enim dubito esse amoenissimam, in qua se composuerat homo felicior, 2ante quam felicissimus fieret. Ego in Tuscis et venor et studeo, quae interdum alternis, interdum simul facio; nec tamen adhuc possum pronuntiare, utrum sit difficilius capere aliquid an scribere. Vale.
After dinner when they were drinking together, the Persian next to him asked [Thersander] in Greek what country was his and Thersander said Orkhomenos. Then he responded “Since you are my dinner companion and have had a drink with me I want to leave a memorial of my belief so that you may understand and be able to make some advantageous plans.
Do you see these Persians dining and the army we left in camp by the river? In a short time you will see that few of these men remain.” The Persian stopped saying these things and cried a lot.
After he was surprised at this confession, he responded, “Isn’t it right to tell these things to Mardonios and those noble Persians around him?”
Then he responded, “Friend, whatever a god decrees is impossible for humans to change: for they say that no one wants to believe what is true. Many of us Persians know this and follow because we are bound by necessity. This is most hateful pain for human beings: when someone knows a lot but has no power.”
I heard these things from Thersander of Orkhomnos and he also told me that he said them to people before the battle occurred at Plataea.”
“What does someone gain from the work of their toil?
I have seen the weight which God gives to burden the children of the human race.
He made everything beautiful in its own season.
But he also put time in the human heart
so that no person can discover creation, what god made, from the beginning to its end.
I know that there is nothing good for people
except from being happy and doing good in life.
So it is God’s gift
that every person eats and drinks and sees the good in their own toil.
I know that everything which god has done will last this lifetime.
It is not possible to add anything to it,
It is not possible to take anything away.
God did this so we might turn from his face.
What is, has happened already.
All that may happen, has happened before.
God will find the place where they meet.”
9 [Quid habet amplius homo de labore suo?
10 Vidi afflictionem quam dedit Deus filiis hominum,
ut distendantur in ea.
11 Cuncta fecit bona in tempore suo,
et mundum tradidit disputationi eorum,
ut non inveniat homo opus
quod operatus est Deus ab initio usque ad finem.
12 Et cognovi quod non esset melius nisi lætari,
et facere bene in vita sua;
13 omnis enim homo qui comedit et bibit,
et videt bonum de labore suo,
hoc donum Dei est.
14 Didici quod omnia opera quæ fecit Deus perseverent in perpetuum;
non possumus eis quidquam addere, nec auferre,
quæ fecit Deus ut timeatur.
15 Quod factum est, ipsum permanet;
quæ futura sunt iam fuerunt,
et Deus instaurat quod abiit.