Seneca, Moral Epistle 112
“By god, I do want your friend to be shaped and trained as you want, but he has been taken up already hardened, or, really–and this is worse–soft and ground down by constant bad habits.
I want to provide you an example from my own technique. Not every vine will submit to grafting–if it is old and starting to rot or too thin and weak, the fine won’t take a shoot or it will refuse to feed it and integrate and it will not accept the quality and the nature of the transplant. So, we typically sever the vine above the ground, so if it does not respond at first, a second attempt is possible. Then the second graft is made below the ground.
This person you are writing and worried about,has no strength and indulges their weaknesses. They have somehow become fat and hard at once. They can neither accept reason nor feed it. You say, “But they want to”. I am not saying that they are lying to you, they want to desire this. But excess has ruined their stomach. Soon they’ll turn back again.
“Yet, they claim their own life offends them!” I don’t deny this. Who is not upset with their own life? People love and hate their own faults at the same time. We will form an opinion about them when they have shown us some proof that they truly hate luxury. Now? They’re just in an argument. BYE.”
Cupio mehercules amicum tuum formari, ut desideras, et institui; sed valde durus capitur, immo, quod est molestius, valde mollis capitur et consuetudine mala ac diutina fractus.
Volo tibi ex nostro artificio exemplum referre. Non quaelibet insitionem vitis patitur; si vetus et exesa est, si infirma gracilisque, aut non recipiet surculum aut non alet nec adplicabit sibi nec in qualitatem eius naturamque transibit. Itaque solemus supra terram praecidere, ut si non respondit, temptari possit secunda fortuna, et iterum repetita infra terram inseratur.
Hic, de quo scribis et mandas, non habet vires; indulsit vitiis. Simul et emarcuit et induruit. Non potest recipere rationem, non potest nutrire. “At cupit ipse.” Noli credere. Non dico illum mentiri tibi; putat se cupere. Stomachum illi fecit luxuria; cito cum illa redibit in gratiam. “Sed dicit se offendi vita sua.“Non negaverim. Quis enim non offenditur? Homines vitia sua et amant simul et oderunt. Tunc itaque de illo feremus sententiam, cum fidem nobis fecerit invisam iam sibi esse luxuriam; nunc illis male convenit. Vale.