Teach Me by Seneca

Teach me my duty to my country,

To my father, to my wife,  to mankind

Teach me to know  how to be honest myself

And to live  according to that knowledge

Teach me to  tune my affections,

And to hold constant to myself

Teach me to measure my appetite

And to know when I have had enough

Teach me to divide with my brother

And to rejoice in the prosperity of my neighbour

You teach me how I may hold my own

And keep my estate but I would rather learn

How I may loose it all

And yet be contented

We must ask the mathematician, geometry, music

To teach us to master our hopes and fears

All the rest is to little  purpose

We take a great deal of  pains to trace

Ulysses in his wanderings; but

Where it not time well spent to look to oneself

That we may not wander at all?

Are we not ourselves tossed with tempestuous passions

And assaulted by terrible monsters in the one hand

And tempted by sirens on the other

Where is time for fooleries?

Let me fortify myself against death

And inevitable necessities

Let me understand that the good of life

Does nor consist in length or space

But in the use of it.

***

_from “The wisdom of Stoics” Edited by France and Henry Hazlitt, University Press of America

 

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