15 February 2010

Monday Quote Frenzy - Advice from Seneca

Times are tough. Seneca's usual response: 'Buck up!' But sometimes he gives a sense of how it's possible to keep going. This is from his letter to his mother, Helvia, sent after he was exiled. (Always a bad idea to have sex with the emperor's family.) The translation is by Moses Hadas.
[W]herever we stir the two resources which are the fairest of all attend us – nature, which is universal, and virtue, which is our own. Such was the design, believe me, of whatever force fashioned the universe, whether an omnipotent god, or impersonal Reason as artificer of vast creations, or divine Spirit permeating all things great and small with uniform tension, or Fate with its immutable nexus of interrelated causes – the design, I say, was that none but the paltriest of a man’s possessions should fall under the sway of another. Whatever is excellent in man lies outside man’s power; it can neither be given nor taken away. This world, than which Nature has wrought nothing greater or handsomer, and the human mind, its most magnificent portion, which contemplates the world and admires it, are our own forever, and will abide with us as long as we ourselves endure.


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