Itenera ista quae segnitiam mihi excutiunt et valitudini meae prodesse iudico et studiis. Quare valitudinem adiuvent vides: cum pigrum me et neglegentem corporis litterarum amor faciat, aliena opera exerceor; studio quare prosint indicabo: a lectionisbus nihil recessi. Sunt autem, ut existimo, necessariae, primum ne sim me uno contentus, deinde ut, cum ab aliis quaesita cognovero, tum et de inventis iudicem et cogitem de inveniendis. Alit lectio ingenium et studio fatigatum, non sine studio tamen, reficit. Nec scribere tantum nec tantum legere debemus; altera res contristabit vires et exhauriet (de stilo dico), altera solvet ac diluet. Invicem hoc et illo commeandum est et alterum altero temperandum, ut quicquid lectione collectum est stilus redigat in corpus. Apes, ut aiunt, debemus imitari, quae vagantur et flores ad mel faciendum idoneos carpunt, deinde quickquid attulere, disponunt ac per favos digerunt et, ut Vergilius noster ait,
. . . liquentia mella
stipant et dulci distendunt nectare cellas.
De illis non satis constat utrum sucum ex floribus ducant qui protinus mel sit, an quae collegerunt, in hunc saporem mixtura quadam et proprietate spiritus sui mutent. Quibusdam enim placet non faciendi mellis scientiam esse illis sed colligendi. Aiunt inveniri apud Indos mel in harundinum foliis, quod aut ros illius caeli aut ipsius harundinis unor dulcis et pinguior gignat. In nostris quodque herbis vim eandem sed minus manifestam et notabilem poni, quam persequatur et contrahat animal huic rei genitum. Quidam existimant conditura et dispositione in hanc qualitatem verti quae ex tenerrimis virentium florentiumque decerpserint, non sine quodam, ut ita dicam, fermento quo in unum diversa coalescunt.
Sed ne ad aliud quam de quo agitur abducar, nos quoque has apes debemus imitari et quaecumque ex diversa lectione congessimus separare (melius enim distincta servantur), deinde adhibita ingenii nostri cura et facultate in unum saporem varia illa libamenta confundere, ut etiam si apparuerit unde sumptum sit, aliud tamen esse quam unde sumptum est appareat. Quod in corpore nostro videmus sine ulla opera nostra facere naturam (alimenta, quae accepimus, quamdiu in sua qualitate perdurant et solida innatant stomacho, onera sunt; at cum ex eo quod erant, mutata sunt, tum demum in vires et in sanguinem transeunt), idem in his quibus aluntur ingenia praestemus, ut quecumque hausimus non patiamur integra esse, ne aliena sint. Concoquamus illa; alioqui in memoriam ibunt, non in ingenium. Adsentiamur illis fideliter et nostra faciamus, ut unum quiddam fiat ex multis, sicut unus numerus fit ex singulis, cum minores summas et dissidentes computatio una comprendit. Hoc faciat animus noster: omnia quibus est adiutus, abscondat; ipsum tantum ostendat quod effecit. Etiam si cuius in te comparebit similitudo quem admiratio tibi altius fixerit, similem esse te volo quomodo filium, non quomodo imaginem. Imago res mortua est.
"Quid ergo? Non intellegetur cuius imiteris orationem, cuius argumentationem, cuius sententias?" Puto aliquando ne intellegi quidem posse, si imago vera sit; haec enim omnibus quae ex quo velut exemplari traxit formam suam impressit, ut in unitatem illa competant. Non vides quam multorum vocibus chorus constet? Unus tamen ex omnibus redditur; aliqua illic acuta est, aliqua gravis, aliqua media. Accedunt viris feminae; interponuntur tibiae. Singulorum illic latent voces, omnium apparent. De choro dico quem veteres philosophi noverant; in commissionibus nostris plus cantorum est quam in theatris olim spectatorum fuit. cum omnes vias ordo canentium implevit et cavea aenatoribus cincta est et ex pulpito omne tibiarum genus organorumque consonuit, fit concentus ex dissionis. Talem animum nostrum esse volo: multae in illo artes, multa praecepta sint, multarum aetatum exempla, sed in unum conspirata.
"Quomodo," inquis, "hoc effici poterit?" Adsidua intentione; si nihil egerimus nisi ratione suadente. Hanc si audire volueris, dicet tibi: Relinque ista iamdudum ad quae discurritur. Relinque divitias, aut periculum possidentium aut onus. Relinque corporis atque animi voluptates; molliunt et enervant. Relinque ambitum; tumida rest est, vana, ventosa; nullum habet terminum, tam sollicita est ne quem ante se videat quam ne quem post se. Laborat invidia et quidem duplici; vides autem, quam miser sit, si is cui invidetur et invidet.
Intueris illas potentium domos, illa tumultuosa rixa salutantium limina? Multum habent constumeliarum ut intres, plus cum intraveris. Praeteri istos gradus divitum et magno adgestu suspensa vestibula; non in parerupto tantum istic stabis, sed in lubrico. Huc potius te ad sapientiam derige tranquillissimasque res eius et simul amplissimas pete. Quaecumque videntur eminere in rebus humanis, quamvis pusilla sint et comparatione humillimorum extent, per difficiles tamen et arduos tramites adeuntur. Confragosa in fastigium dignitatis via est; at si conscendere hunc verticem libet, cui se fortuna summisit, omnia quidem sub te quae pro excelsissimis habentur, aaspicies, sed tamen venies ad summa per planum. VALE.
SENECA GIVES GREETING TO HIS LUCILIUS:
These journeys, which cast out the sluggishness from me, I judge to be useful for my health and studies. You see how they help my health: since the love of literature makes me lazy and neglectful of my body, I am worked-out by the labor of someone else; I will reveal how they are useful for study: I will recede not at all from the readings. They are, however, as I think, necessary, first lest I am not content with myself alone, then in order that, when I will have thought about the things sought out by others, then may I judge the discoveries and think about the things that will be discovered. The reading nourishes the talents and restores the fatigued from study, not without study. We ought not to only write nor only read; one thing depresses and drains men (I speak about writing), the other will loosen and refresh. Alternatively, it must be gone back and forth from this to that in turns, so that whatever is collected by reading, the stylus may render in form. We should imitate the bees, as they say, which wander and pluck suitable flowers to make honey, then carry whatever, they arrange and distribute through the honeycomb, just as our Virgil said:
. . . they pack close the
liquid honey and fill the storehouse
with sweet nectar.
It is not well established concerning the bees whether they make the juice from the flowers which becomes honey at once, or whether they change anything they have collected into this flavor by means of a certain mixture and the property of their breath. For it is pleasing to the writers that knowledge of honey-making does not belong to the bees, but the knowledge of collecting does. They say that honey is found among the Indians in the leaves of reeds, which either the dew of that sky or the moisture of the sweet, rather rich reed itself produces. Likewise, they say that the same force is in our grass but less manifested and notable, which an animal born for this purpose collects and certain people maintain that the things which bees pluck from the most tender of the greens and flowers are changed into this state by means of arrangement and preservation, not without a certain fermentation, as I might say, by means of which the bees put together different things in one thing.
But let me not be led away to something other than what was being discussed, we should imitate these bees and also separate whatever we have collected from different readings (for things that are separated are preserved better), then to combine with the care and ability of our mind having been applied these various offerings into one flavor, so that even now if it is apparent from where it was acquired, yet it is apparent that it is something other than from where it came. That which we see nature doing in our body without any of our labor (nourishments, which we accept, as long as they endure in their own state and swim as a solid in the stomach, they are burdens; and when they have been changed from that which they were, then at last they cross into energies and into the blood), may we maintain the same thing in these by which our minds are nourished, with the result that we not permit whatever we have taken in to be whole lest they be not part of us. May we consider this well; otherwise they will go into memory, no into the mind. May we welcome these faithfully and may we make them ours, so that something becomes one from many, just as one number is made from each, when one calculation bind together the lesser and differing sums. Let our minds do this: let it hide everything by which it is helped and let it show only that which it has produced. Even if a likeness will be evident in you of someone whom admiration will have fixed rather highly for you, then I wish that you are similar just as a song, not just as an image. An image is a thing for the dead.
"What then? Will it not be understood whose speech, whose argument, whose thoughts you will imitate?" I think that sometimes it cannot be understood, if the copy is real; indeed, this impressed its own form on all from which the image drew just as from some copy, so that these meet in unity. Do you not see how the chorus consists of the voices of many? Nevertheless one chorus is rendered from all the voices; there a certain voice is high, another is low, another is in the middle. Women are added to men; the flutes are introduced. There the voices of each person escape notice, the voices of all are evident. I speak about the chorus which the old philosophers knew; in our celebrations there are more singers than there were spectators in theaters at one time. When the row of singers filled up all the aisles and the arena was surrounded by trumpeters and from the stage sounded every kind of flute and instrument, harmony results from dissonance. I wish our mind was such: many skills in this, much having been taught, many examples from the ages, but many plots in one.
. . .