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134

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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134 ROMAN DA YS.
Seneca’s last words lead our thoughts to certain lines
in one of his writings :
" Ay, thanks to death, to be born
is no punishment ; thanks to that, I can keep myself
calm and resolute against the threats of misfortune. I
have a port. It is not hard to serve, when one, tired of
his master, may by a single step secure freedom."
If these lines prophesied his own fate, there are others
which foreboded that of Nero. " God tries, disciplines
and hardens the one He loves. But the weak who seem
to be his favorites and to be guarded by His hand against
misfortunes, them he spares for coming anguish."
Seneca’s faults were well known to his contemporaries
:
when Subrius Flavus, in spite of this fact, called him a
spotless man, he used the standard of the time, and com-
pared him with others. The defects of his nature were
described and exaggerated, once, from the very orator’s
chair on the Forum, by one of Rome’s most voluble
backbiters. But the respect his contemporaries gave
him, (the more readily, the better they themselves were,)
ought to weigh more in the balance of posterity than the
scurrility of a venal advocate, and the sallies, equally
angry and barren of criticism, of Dio Cassius. Philoso-
pher, in the accepted meaning of the word in our time,
he was not : he lacked sharpness of logic to be this, al-
though he uttered amazing prophecies concerning the
future of human research. He was a man of the world
and a statesman, and wished to be an artist in the Stoic
manner of life. Every man who in a time like his, had
his gaze fastened upon a higher aim, and exhorted the
young to strive to reach it. is for this alone, worthy our
respect, and has not forfeited our sympathy because, in
the struggle between the spirit and the flesh he gave,
like us all, his tribute to weakness.

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