1. Seneca, Epist. 8.8-10


Quam multi poetae dicunt quae philosophis aut dicta sunt aut dicenda! Non attingam tragicos nec togatas nostras (habent enim hae quoque aliquid severitatis et sunt inter comoedias ac tragoedias mediae): quantum disertissimorum versuum inter mimos iacet! quam multa Publilii non excalceatis sed coturnatis dicenda sunt! 9Unum versum eius, qui ad philosophiam pertinet et ad hanc partem quae modo fuit in manibus, referam, quo negat fortuita in nostro habenda: “alienum est omne quidquid optando evenit”. 10Hunc sensum a te dici non paulo melius et adstrictius memini: “non est tuum fortuna quod fecit tuum”. Illud etiamnunc melius dictum a te non praeteribo: “dari bonum quod potuit auferri potest”.

How many poets give forth ideas that have been uttered, or may be uttered, by philosophers!  I need not touch upon the tragedians and our writers of national drama; for these last are also somewhat serious, and stand half-way between comedy and tragedy.  What a quantity of sagacious verses lie buried in the mime!  How many of Publilius’s lines are worthy of being spoken by buskin-clad actors, as well as by wearers of the slipper! 9I shall quote one verse of his, which concerns philosophy, and particularly that phrase of it which we were discussing a moment ago, wherein he says that the gifts of Chance are not to be regarded as part of our possessions: “Still alien is whatever you have gained by coveting.”  10I recall that you yourself expressed this idea much more happily and concisely: “What Chance has made yors is not really yours.” And a third, spoken by you still more happily, shall not be omitted: “The good that could be given, can be removed.”

(trans. R.M. Gummere 1917)