Get Rich With this One Simple Trick

Seneca, Moral Epistles 119.1-2

“Whenever I find something, I don’t wait until you say, “What’s yours is mine!” No. I say it myself.  You want to know what I found? Open your pocket, the profit is clear. I am going to show you how you can become rich as fast as possible.

Oh, you’re just burning up to hear it! And you’re not wrong–I’ll will show you the shortcut to the greatest riches. Still, you will need to get a loan. You need to take out debt to make money, but I don’t want you to use a broker. I will show you a lender ready and waiting, that famous one of Cato’s, who says “Take out a mortgage with yourself!” However little you get, it will be enough, if we can make up what’s missing from our own savings.

My Lucilius, it makes no difference whether you desire nothing or you have it. The biggest deal in either situation is the same: you shouldn’t be tortured by it.”

Quotiens aliquid inveni, non expecto, donec dicas “in commune.” Ipse mihi dico. Quid sit, quod invenerim quaeris; sinum laxa, merum lucrum est. Docebo, quomodo fieri dives celerrime possis. Quam valde cupis audire! nec inmerito; ad maximas te divitias conpendiaria ducam. Opus erit tamen tibi creditore; ut negotiari possis, aes alienum facias oportet, sed nolo per intercessorem mutueris, nolo proxenetae nomen tuum iactent. Paratum tibi creditorem dabo Catonianum illum, a te mutuum sumes. Quantulumcumque est, satis erit, si, quidquid deerit, id a nobis petierimus. Nihil enim, mi Lucili, interest, utrum non desideres an habeas. Summa rei in utroque eadem est: non torqueberis.

Meme of oil painting with man at money lender's table. the latin says "a te mutuum sumes" whihc means "borrow money for yourself"

Keep Screwing Up, It’s Never Enough!

Seneca, Moral Epistles 89.18-21

“Restrain these passions–energize what is lazy in you; constrain what has gotten loose, put down what is annoying;  target your own desires and everyone else’s as much as you can. And when people say, “How long must we endure these things?” respond, “I should be asking you, “How long will you keep screwing these things up?”

Do you want the treatment to stop before the symptoms do? In fact, I am going to talk on more because you’re objecting. Medicine starts to work at the point when merely a touch from someone else causes pain. I will offer helpful words even to the unwilling. Sometimes a voice that’s not mere compliment will reach you. Hear this publicly since you’re unwilling in truth to listen alone.

Just how far will you expand your property lines? A plot of land that used to hold a whole people is now too small for a single lord. How far will you extend your plowed lands–when you aren’t happy to keep the boundary of your farms within the provinces’ borders? Famous rivers have their course through your private garden and  impressive streams–once the borders of powerful nations–belong to you from their source to the sea.

Yet this is also too small for you unless you bind up the seas with your corporate farms, unless your butler rules across the Adriatic, the Ionian, and the Aegean sea, unless those island homes of great leaders are counted among your most minor possessions. Take them as far as you want to, so that your farm is what once was named a kingdom. Make your own whatever you can, just as long as it is more than anyone else has!”

Illos conpesce, marcentia in te excita, soluta constringe, contumacia doma, cupiditates tuas publicasque quantum potes vexa; et istis dicentibus “quo usque eadem?” responde: “ego debebam dicere ‘quo usque eadem peccabitis?’” Remedia ante vultis quam vitia desinere? Ego vero eo magis dicam et, quia recusatis, perseverabo. Tunc incipit medicina proficere, ubi in corpore alienato dolorem tactus expressit. Dicam etiam invitis profutura. Aliquando aliqua ad vos non blanda vox veniat, et quia verum singuli audire non vultis, publice audite.

Quo usque fines possessionum propagabitis? Ager uni domino, qui populum cepit, angustus est. Quo usque arationes vestras porrigetis, ne provinciarum quidem spatio contenti circumscribere praediorum modum? Inlustrium fluminum per privatum decursus est et amnes magni magnarumque gentium termini usque ad ostium a fonte vestri sunt. Hoc quoque parum est, nisi latifundiis vestris maria cinxistis, nisi trans Hadriam et Ionium Aegaeumque vester vilicus regnat, nisi insulae, ducum domicilia magnorum, inter vilissima rerum numerantur. Quam vultis late possidete, sit fundus quod aliquando imperium vocabatur; facite vestrum quicquid potestis, dum plus sit alieno.

image of cartoon triceratops from Land before Time with Latin quotations "facite vestrum quicquid potestis, dum plus sit alieno." which means "make whatever you can yours, provided it is more than someone else has"

The More You Have, The More You Want

Attic Nights, IX, 7

“On the fact that it is necessary that a man who has much requires much and a brief, elegant saying on the subject from the philosopher Favorinus.

Absolutely true is the fact which wise men have recited from both observation and experience, namely that a man who has much has great needs and that these needs come not from an overwhelming poverty but from great abundance—many things are required to maintain the many things you have. Whoever, then, has much and wishes to be on guard or to plan that he may not lose or lack anything, must not acquire more, but must instead possess less so that he may lose less. I remember this line from Favorinus, obscured among a great applause and expressed in these fewest words:

“It is impossible for someone who has fifteen thousand cloaks not to want more. Should I desire more in addition to what I have, once I have lost some of it, I will be satisfied with what I retain.” [Favorinus fr. 104]

Necessum esse, qui multa habeat, multis indigere; deque ea re Favorini philosophi cum brevitate eleganti sententia.

1 Verum est profecto, quod observato rerum usu sapientes viri dixere, multis egere, qui multa habeat, magnamque indigentiam nasci non ex inopia magna, sed ex magna copia: multa enim desiderari ad multa, quae habeas, tuenda. 2 Quisquis igitur multa habens cavere atque prospicere velit, ne quid egeat neve quid desit, iactura opus esse, non quaestu, et minus habendum esse, ut minus desit. 3 Hanc sententiam memini a Favorino inter ingentes omnium clamores detornatam inclusamque verbis his paucissimis: τὸν γὰρ μυρίων καὶ πεντακισχιλίων χλαμύδων δεόμενον οὐκ ἔστι μὴ πλειόνων δεῖσθαι· οἷς γὰρ ἔχω προσδεόμενος, ἀφελὼν ὧν ἔχω, ἀρκοῦμαι οἷς ἔχω.

The sentiment is not identical, but it is not altogether that different either:

Xenophon, Memorabilia 1.6.10

“You appear to think that happiness comes from delicacy and abundance. But I think that wanting nothing is godlike,  that wanting as little as possible is next-best, that the divine is the highest goal and next-best the closest thing.”

[10] ἔοικας, ὦ Ἀντιφῶν, τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν οἰομένῳ τρυφὴν καὶ πολυτέλειαν εἶναι: ἐγὼ δὲ νομίζω τὸ μὲν μηδενὸς δεῖσθαι θεῖον εἶναι, τὸ δ᾽ ὡς ἐλαχίστων ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ θείου, καὶ τὸ μὲν θεῖον κράτιστον, τὸ δ᾽ ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ θείου ἐγγυτάτω τοῦ κρατίστου.

 The full text.