Seneca Commentary: Letter LXXXIV

Commentary by J. Bailly

Text:


SENECA LVCILIO SVO SALVTEM

[1] Itinera ista quae segnitiam mihi excutiunt et valetudini meae prodesse iudico et studiis. Quare valetudinem adiuvent vides: cum pigrum me et neglegentem corporis litterarum amor faciat, aliena opera exerceor. Studio quare prosint indicabo: a lectionibus <non> 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. [2] 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 quidquid lectione collectum est stilus redigat in corpus. [3] Apes, ut aiunt, debemus imitari, quae vagantur et flores ad mel faciendum idoneos carpunt, deinde quidquid attulere disponunt ac per favos digerunt et, ut Vergilius noster ait,

 liquentia mella
 stipant et dulci distendunt nectare cellas.

 [4] 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 arundinum foliis, quod aut ros illius caeli aut ipsius arundinis umor dulcis et pinguior gignat; in nostris quoque 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.

[5] 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 [6] (alimenta quae accepimus, quamdiu in sua qualitate perdurant et solida innatant stomacho, onera sunt; at cum ex eo quod erant mutata sunt, tunc demum in vires et in sanguinem transeunt), idem in his quibus aluntur ingenia praestemus, ut quaecumque hausimus non patiamur integra esse, ne aliena sint. [7] 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 conputatio una conprendit. Hoc faciat animus noster: omnia quibus est adiutus abscondat, ipsum tantum ostendat quod effecit. [8] 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 magni vir ingenii omnibus quae ex quo voluit exemplari traxit formam suam inpressit, ut in unitatem illa conpetant. [9] 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. [10] 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 aeneatoribus cincta est et ex pulpito omne tibiarum genus organorumque consonuit, fit concentus ex dissonis. Talem animum esse nostrum volo: multae in illo artes, multa praecepta sint, multarum aetatum exempla, sed in unum conspirata.

[11] 'Quomodo' inquis 'hoc effici poterit?' Adsidua intentione:si nihil egerimus nisi ratione suadente, nihil vitaverimus 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 res est, vana, ventosa, nullum habet terminum, tam sollicita est ne quem ante se videat quam ne secum, laborat invidia et quidem duplici. Vides autem quam miser sit si is cui invidetur et invidet. [12] Intueris illas potentium domos, illa tumultuosa rixa salutantium limina? multum habent contumeliarum ut intres, plus cum intraveris. Praeteri istos gradus divitum et magno adgestu suspensa vestibula: non in praerupto tantum istic stabis sed in lubrico. Huc potius te ad sapientiam derige, tranquillissimasque res eius et simul amplissimas pete. [13] Quaecumque videntur eminere in rebus humanis, quamvis pusilla sint et comparatione humillimorum exstent, 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 aspicies, sed tamen venies ad summa per planum. Vale.

Text from www.thelatinlibrary.com as submitted by Hansulrich Guhl (Frauenfeld, Switzerland) from an unidentified edition and (the later books) by Sally Winchester from the Reynolds edition. Typographical errors may have been corrected by J Bailly.

Commentary (under construction: i.e. incomplete and in draft form)

[1] Journeying aids one's studies. Seneca speaks of "knocking" laziness out of himself (excutiunt): this probably refers to the jouncing from being carried in a litter (aliena opera), which Seneca considered exercise.

On exercise and being carried in a litter, cf. 1) Letter 156, where he says Gestatio et corpus concutit et studio non officit: possis legere, possis dictare, possis loqui, possis audire, quorum nihil ne ambulatio quidem vetat fieri., from which we learn that being carried in a litter (gestatio) is healthy, because it shakes the body (corpus concutit), and does not interfere with studies: not even walking interferes). 2) Letter 55, which begins A gestatione cum maxime venio, non minus fatigatus quam si tantum ambulassem quantum sedi; labor est enim et diu ferri, ac nescio an eo maior quia contra naturam est, quae pedes dedit ut per nos ambularemus, oculos ut per nos videremus, from which we learn that being carried in a litter exhausted Seneca about as much as walking (the whole idea of being carried around and the slaves' exercise is another topic).

[1] Itinera ista quae segnitiam mihi excutiunt et valetudini meae prodesse iudico et studiis. Quare valetudinem adiuvent vides: cum pigrum me et neglegentem corporis litterarum amor faciat, aliena opera exerceor. Studio quare prosint indicabo: a lectionibus <non> 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.

Itinera ista ... iudico et studiis: iudico is the entire main clause. The rest is indirect speech dependent on iudico. | prodesse: takes the datives valetudini meae and studiis. | mihi excutiunt: mihi is a dative of separation dependent on excutiunt. | et ... et ... : "both .... and ..." linking valetudini and studiis. | et studiis: the last position in the sentence is given to this rather than the verb, because it is the most important thought, as what follows indicates. | adiuvent: subjunctive in indirect question. | cum ... faciat: cum concessive takes subjunctive. | aliena opera: aliena "belonging to another," refers to the work of the bearers of Seneca's litter. | prosint: why subjunctive? | <non>: the "pointy" brackets indicate that non is a modern editor's emendation that the editor considered necessary for the text to make sense. | ut existimo: parenthetical remark having no effect on the sentence's syntax. | primum ... deinde ... : explicit marking of two reasons for Seneca's claim. | ne ... ut ...: purpose clauses. iudicem and cogitem are verbs of the ut clause. | cum ... tum .... : temporal cum clauses referring to present or future time are indicative. Cum ... tum ... = "once ..., then ..." (rather than the more common "both ... and ..."). | inveniendis: a gerundive used as a noun: cf. "agenda" or "memorandum" in English. | Alit lectio ingenium et studio fatigatum, non sine studio tamen, reficit: Seneca is given to such aphoristic diction: the apparent paradox might make the thought more memorable. | fatigatum: modifies an understood ingenium (from the first clause of the sentence).

[2] We should both read things and write things: the one complements the other.

[2] 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 quidquid lectione collectum est stilus redigat in corpus.

altera res ... altera... : "the one ... the other ... ." | hoc et illo(c): "this way and that way." | alterum altero temperandum: a gerundive phrase. | ut ... redigat: it is hard to decide between result or purpose. | quidquid lectione collectum est: this indefinite relative clause as a whole is the object of redigat.

[3] We should be like bees, who wander and collect the material for honey and then produce and distibute honey into honeycombs.

[3] Apes, ut aiunt, debemus imitari, quae vagantur et flores ad mel faciendum idoneos carpunt, deinde quidquid attulere disponunt ac per favos digerunt et, ut Vergilius noster ait, liquentia mella stipant et dulci distendunt nectare cellas.

apes ... : This section consists of one single sentence that is a short main clause (Apes debemus imitari) and a long multi-part relative clause (quae 1) vagantur, 2) carpunt, 3) disponunt, ac 4) digerunt, et 5) stipant et distendunt).| ad mel faciendum: prepositional phrase dependent on idoneos. mel faciendum is a gerundive phrase expressing purpose. | carpunt: the several senses of carpo all imply that bees somehow gather or eat flowers or parts of flowers. Clearly bees do not harvest or eat flowers, but perhaps Seneca thinks they do, or perhaps carpo has an appropriate ad hoc sense here. | quidquid attulere: an indefinite relative clause that functions as the direct object of disponunt and digerunt. attulere is an alternate form of 3rd person plural perf. active indicative. | ut aiunt and ut Vergilius noster ait: parenthetical clauses which are discrete from the syntax of the sentence. The lines are Aeneid I.432-3.

[4] A paraphrase of this section is as follows: The details about bees' activities in honey-making are disputed. Bees either gather honey directly from flowers, or they put whatever they gather from flowers through a process to produce honey. "Some people" (quibusdam) think that there is an Indian reed that has honey on its leaves, either from dew or the plant's juice, that plants in the Roman world have the same property in a less obvious way, and that the bee finds and condenses the dew or juice into honey. "Certain" other people (quidam) think that bees season (conditura) and ferment (fermentum) what they gather gather from plants to make it honey.
Seneca does not identify the two groups, which fits a pattern in Seneca: "quidam" serve as a sort of once-removed participant in Seneca's prose, typically by offering a claim that contributes either as a foil for or as a more constructive part of Seneca's argument. Cf. Letter 118.8 and 9.

[4] 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 arundinum foliis, quod aut ros illius caeli aut ipsius arundinis umor dulcis et pinguior gignat; in nostris quoque 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.

de illis ...: the sentence's structure is as follows:
in hunc saporem: in + acc. = "into." | faciendi and colligendi: gerundives. | illis: predicate dative (as mihi in mihi gladium est means "There is a spear to me," or in better English, "I have a spear"). | gignat: subordinate clauses within indirect speech take subjunctive. | poni: infinitive in indirect speech continued from the preceding clause. | persequatur et contrahat: subjunctive in subordinate clause within indirect speech. | huic rei: dative of purpose.  | in hanc qualitatem: in + acc. = "into." | verti: infinitive in indirect speech dependent on existimant. The subject is the unexpressed antecedent of quae in this sentence. | quae ... decerpserint: what is the subject of decerpserint? Fetch it from the preceding passage. | non sine quodam, ut ita dicam, fermento, quo in unum diversa coalescunt: indirect speech has ceased (hence indicative coalescunt) and Seneca is providing his own redescription of the preceding theory. quodam modifies fermento, which is the antecedent of quo, and ablative of means.

[5-6] In the previous section, one theory suggests a two stage process: that bees gather things and then mix and process  the gathered ingredients (mixtura, dispositione, and diversa) into honey. Now, ostensibly applying the metaphor, Seneca suggests a three stage process: gathering and then separating and then mixing in such a way that the original source may still be evident but the thing has been changed. Adding a stage does not jibe perfectly with the bee side of the metaphor. When metaphors are extended and applied, it is frequently difficult to say where the extension and application stops. It may be relevant that Aristotle (see n. above) believed that bees do not in the same flight mix what they gather from one type of flower with what they gather from other types of flower. All of these possibilities are richly suggestive in terms of what reading involves or should involve.
One thing that is not examined is why we need to change what we read and whether we necessarily improve it: Seneca speaks as though we should change it and it will be better because of that. Both may be good ideas, but neither is undeniably so.

[5-6] 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 [6] (alimenta quae accepimus, quamdiu in sua qualitate perdurant et solida innatant stomacho, onera sunt; at cum ex eo quod erant mutata sunt, tunc demum in vires et in sanguinem transeunt), idem in his quibus aluntur ingenia praestemus, ut quaecumque hausimus non patiamur integra esse, ne aliena sint.

aliud: namely, some other topic. | quam de quo: quam = "than." The antecedent of quo is omitted, but would have been id (vel sim.). | agitur: "is at issue," "is being treated." Ago has several figurative meanings and idiomatic usages such as this. | abducar: subj. of purpose clause. Note that there is a mild anacoluthon here. Namely, the purpose clause does not  have a logically perfect fit with the rest of the sentence: it is not the case that we should imitate bees in order that Seneca not be led astray.  | nos quoque: emphatic. | separare: 2nd infinitive dependent on debemus. | adhibita ingenii nostri cura et facultate: ablative absolute. | confundere: 3rd infinitive dependent on debemus. | ut ... appareat: a complex result clause:
apparuerit: fut. perf. indicative as the protasis of what looks to be a future more vivid conditional, but the apodosis is in a result clause, which makes the apodosis subjunctive. | quam unde: equivalent to quam de quo which was used at the beginning of this section: presumably varety is the reason Seneca did not use the same phrase.  Quod: linking relative referring to the previous thought. | videmus sine ulla opera nostra facere naturam: videmus, when used as a verb of thinking, can take indirect statement. | et solida innatant stomacho: et means "i.e.," because solida expresses the same thought as in sua qualitate perdurant. Solida is a predicate adjective modifying alimenta. Stomacho is dative with in- of innatant. | in vires et in sanguinem transeunt: in + acc. = "into." | idem: object of praestemus. | ingenia: subject of aluntur. | praestemus: hortatory subjunctive. | patiamur: purpose clause subjunctive. | esse: infinitive dependent on patiamur. quaecumque hausimus is the subject of esse, and integre is a predicate adjective agreeing with quaecumque. | sint: purpose clause subjunctive.

[7] A simple bit of a psychology: things we take in are processed, and depending on whether we simply store them or change them, they go into memoria or ingenium (Cicero de Finibus 5.6 has a similar distinction with memoria reserved for mere storage and ingenium for processed things).
The metaphor of numbers added to make one new number from which one cannot deduce the original numbers added, is interestingly simple: it is unclear, however why the numbers to be added are described as dissidentes, "differing."
Of this section, the cynical reader will say that Seneca is advocating plagiarism (omnia quibus est adiutus abscondat). The charitable reader will say that purposefully hiding the components and sources of one's ideas is not the point and is not being praised here: synthesizing, analyzing, and recomposing them and adopting them into one's thoughts so that they become one's own is. Even Seneca gives sources often, but he wants to present "his own" ideas. The next section bears this out.

[7] 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 conputatio una conprendit. Hoc faciat animus noster: omnia quibus est adiutus abscondat, ipsum tantum ostendat quod effecit.

Concoquamus, Adsentiamur, and faciamus: hortatory subjunctives. | nostra: agrees with the neuter plural things (illa, illis) that precede. Facere is a factitive verb, which means it takes two accusatives, just as in English "I make them mine" has two object terms ("them" and "mine"). Other English factitive examples: "I paint the wall red," "I find you beautiful," "I elect you president." | fiat: result clause subjunctive. | faciat ..., abscondat, ... ostendat: jussive subjunctives.
 
[8] Imitate others, but by keeping what you owe to them alive, not by slavish exact copying.

[8] 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 magni vir ingenii omnibus quae ex quo voluit exemplari traxit formam suam inpressit, ut in unitatem illa conpetant.

si cuius: cuius = alicuius. Genitive dependent on similitudo. | comparebit: from compareo, comparere, comparui. | altius: comparative adverb, "quite deeply." | quomodo filium, non quomodo imaginem: much has to be understood from the previous clause. The whole thought, if spelled out explicitly, might be: volo te esse similem quomodo volo filium esse similem, non quomodo volo imaginem esse similem. | res mortua: predicate nominative. | intellegetur ... intellegi: "discern," "distinguish." | imiteris: "generic" you referring to no one in particular, indirect question subjunctive. | Puto ... conpetant: a complex sentence with the following structure:
Textual Note: there are different versions of the underlined words in Puto aliquando ne intellegi quidem posse, si magni vir ingenii omnibus... and most manuscripts' version make little sense. Madvig suggested that that the text should read Puto aliquando ne intellegi quidem posse, si imago vera sit: haec enim omnibus, which would make good sense, except that Seneca has just condemned imagines as res mortuae. But perhaps Madvig thinks that Seneca is simply distinguishing between a mere imago and a vera imago, which is not slavish and exact, but rather an adoption/adaptation of the original that retains something essential/important/central, but not its details: paradoxically, a true copy is not recognizable as a copy. That might fit with Seneca's penchant for paradox. Reynold's Oxford Classical Text does not, however, see fit to even report Madvig's emendation: it may make sense, but it departs too far from the manuscript seems to be the proper conclusion. This particular textual problem is reported here because it was noticed that the Loeb has a different text. There are many other textual issues: see the apparatus criticus of a critical edition (such as the Oxford Classical Text of Seneca by Reynolds) for more information. The apparatus criticus is the notes at the bottom of the page of a critical edition: it takes practice and help to read it if you are a tyro to such things.

[9] Just as in music, where multiple voices in harmony make one sound, so with the subject matter at hand: several strands unite together into one.

[9] 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.

constet: subjunctive in indirect question. | unus ... aliqua ... aliqua ... aliqua ... : sc. vox. | omnium apparent: sc. voces.

[10] 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 aeneatoribus cincta est et ex pulpito omne tibiarum genus organorumque consonuit, fit concentus ex dissonis. Talem animum esse nostrum volo: multae in illo artes, multa praecepta sint, multarum aetatum exempla, sed in unum conspirata.

sint: jussive subjunctive.

[11] Constant attention to the urgings of reason is the key to accomplishing the goal and avoiding what is to be avoided. The goal, from section 7, is to cook together (concoquamus) what we read and make it part of our character. What is to be avoided is attachment to possessions and pleasures and ambition. The reason is that there is no point at which we can say we have accomplished the goal if we pursue such things: more pleasure or wealth or ambition is always possible and so one can never be satisfied. It feeds on itself. For some people (moderate people who only enjoy moderate physical pleasure, moderate wealth, etc.) that would not be a deterrent: for Seneca and the stoics, that such things have no logical point at which we can say we have attained them is a reason to reject those things as viable goals.
On one particular point, the "pleasures of the soul" (animi voluptates), it is not clear that stoics thought we should abandon them, but Seneca nonetheless says relinque animi voluptates. One way to explain Seneca's meaning is that he does not mean the real pleasures of the soul (the soul's attraction to and pleasure in truth, consistency, and its wonder at nature), but rather only those which molliunt et enervant (perhaps things like schadenfreude, vengeance, gloating, etc.).

[11] 'Quomodo' inquis 'hoc effici poterit?' Adsidua intentione:si nihil egerimus nisi ratione suadente, nihil vitaverimus 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 res est, vana, ventosa, nullum habet terminum, tam sollicita est ne quem ante se videat quam ne secum, laborat invidia et quidem duplici. Vides autem quam miser sit si is cui invidetur et invidet.

effici: pass. inf. | hanc: sc. rationem. | egerimus ... vitaverimus: future perfects in a future more vivid conditional. The "we" is Seneca and Lucilius, but also perhaps the "generic" we that includes even us, the wider audience. | nisi ratione suadente: nisi applies only to the ablative abs. ratione suadente. This sentence is a clever double conditional with parallel structure: Seneca enjoys the architecture of sentences. | relinque ... relinque ... relinque ... : anaphoric repetition of initial element. The structure here is a tricolon crescendo: three parts, each larger than the last. | discurritur: an impersonal. curritur means something like "there is a running," but shouldbe translated as "people run" or the like. | aut periculum possidentium aut onus: in apposition to divitias. | possidentium: where Latin uses a genitive with periculum, English uses "to" with "danger" as in "a danger to the owner." | tumida res est, vana, ventosa, nullum habet terminum..., laborat invidia ... : note the asyndeton. | tam sollicita est ... quam (sc. sollicita est) ... : note how tam ... quam ... tells the structure of the thought and helps the reader. | ne quem ante se videat: fearing clause dependent on sollicita est. quem = aliquem. | quam ne secum: sc. quem videat. Another fearing clause dependent on sollicita est. | sit: indirect question. The subject of sit is the same person as is in the next clause. | si is cui invidetur et invidet: typical Senecan pithy formulation. invideo takes dat. Note that when a verb that takes the dative is put in the passive, the dative remains dative: invideo tibi "I envy you" becomes tibi invidetur "you are envied."

[12] Intueris illas potentium domos, illa tumultuosa rixa salutantium limina? multum habent contumeliarum ut intres, plus cum intraveris. Praeteri istos gradus divitum et magno adgestu suspensa vestibula: non in praerupto tantum istic stabis sed in lubrico. Huc potius te ad sapientiam derige, tranquillissimasque res eius et simul amplissimas pete.

salutantium limina: limina is here used figuratively. It refers to the habit of attending upon one's patron by gathering at his doorway. | habent: subject to be supplied from previous sentence. | multum contumeliarum: multum takes the genitive. | ut intres: ut meaning "when, as" usually takes the indicative, but here it takes the subjunctive because this is a generalizing clause with an ideal "you." In other words, this "you" does not refer to Lucilius or anyone in particular, but rather it refers perfectly generally to anyone who enters. Think of a recipe in English which says, "First, you take some onions... " here the "you" is perfectly general. | cum intraveris: perfect subjunctive referring to past time with cum temporal. | praeteri: imperative. | istos gradus: namely, the steps to their houses. | tantum: adverbial | eius: refers to sapientia.

[13] Pursuing the goals Seneca suggests, he claims, allows us to look down on what other people think of as exalted things, and yet our approach to the goal is paradoxically not a steep path.

[13] Quaecumque videntur eminere in rebus humanis, quamvis pusilla sint et comparatione humillimorum exstent, 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 aspicies, sed tamen venies ad summa per planum. Vale.

sint ... exstent: quamvis takes the subjunctive. | comparatione humillimorum: where English has "comparison with/to," Latin has comparatio + objective genitive. | conscendere: inf. with libet. | cui: antecedent is verticem. | omnia: obj. of aspicies. | quae pro excelsissimis habentur: namely by those who hold wealth and pleasure and offices and promotions dear.

Bees in Antiquity:
Greeks and Romans both domesticated bees. Theories about them were varied. Aristotle held that they make their honey (Historia Animalium 623b ff.), although he was unsure of the exact substance which they gather up to make it or what process they subject it to. Elsewhere, however, he says honey falls from the air and is not made by bees but gathered from what falls as a deposit from the air (Historia Animalium 553b f.: Dittmeyer's 1907 Teubner edition, however, would omit that passage). Aristotle also thought that bees do not breathe (Historia Animalium 487a32). At Historia Animalium 554a, he says bees vomit the honey into the cells (which means they must produce it or swallow and disgorge it, changed or unchanged). He thought that they collect whatever they collect from one type of flower per flight, never mixing the stuff of one type of flower with that of another in the same flight (624b).
Pliny the Elder, apparently depending on Aristotle, in his Natural History, says bees contrahunt mella (11.4) and that honey and wax come ex floribus (11.5), but later explains that honey comes from the sky and is corrupted by the process it goes through before becoming honey in a bee hive:
Venit hoc ex are et maxime siderum exortu, praecipueque ipso sirio expendescente, nec omnino prius vergiliarum exortu, sublucanis temporibus. itaque tum prima aurora folia arborum melle roscida inveniuntur ac, si qui matutino sub diu fuere, unctas liquore vestes capillumque concretum sentiunt, sive ille est caeli sudor sive quaedam siderum saliva sive purgantis se aris sucus;  utinamque esset purus ac liquidus et suae naturae, qualis defluit primo!
nunc vero e tanta cadens altitudine multumque, dum venit, sordescens et obvio terrae halitu infectus, praeterea e fronde ac pabulis potus et in utriculos congestus apium ore enim eum vomunt , ad hoc suco florum corruptus et alvis vitiis maceratus totiensque mutatus, magnam tamen caelestis naturae voluptatem adfert (11.12)

Vocabulary

abduco, abducere, abduxi, abductus, distract, turn aside
abscondo, abscondere, abscondi, absconditum, hide, conceal
accedo, accedere, accessi, accessum, be added to, join (+dat.)
accipio, accipere, acccepi, acceptum, receive
acutus, -a, -um, high-pitched
adeo, adire, adii, aditus, approach
adg-, see agg-
adhibeo, adhibere, adhibui, adhibitum, apply, bring to bear
adiuvo, adiuvare, adiuvi, adiutum, help
admiratio, -onis, f., admiration, regard
adp-, see app-
ads-, see ass-
aeneator, -oris, m., trumpeter
aetas, aetatis, f., age, era
affero, afferre, attuli, allatum, bring, fetch
aggestus, -us, m., terrace
ago, agere, egi, actus, drive; do; turn one's attention to; speak about, discuss
aio (has only present forms aio, ais, ait, aiunt and imperfect forms aiebam, etc.), say
alienus, -a, -um, belonging to another, foreign
alimentum, -i, n., food
alioqui(n), otherwise
aliquando, adv., sometimes
aliquis, aliqua, aliquid, pron., someone, anyone
alo, alere, alui, altum/alitum, nourish
altus, -a, -um, deep; high
ambitus, -us, m., canvassing for votes; courting; ambition; ostentation
amor, amoris, m., love
amplus, -a, -um, ample, large, great, extensive
an, whether
animus, -i, m., mind
ante, prep., + acc., before, in front of
apis, apis, f., bee
appareo, apparere, apparui, apparitum, appear, be visible; become evident, be clear
apud, prep., + acc., among; in the land of; at the home of
arduus, -a, -um, uphill; tall; difficult
argumentatio, -onis, f., a line of argument; way of arguing
ars, artis, f., skill, knowledge of how to do or make
arundo, arundinis (also harundo, harundinis), f., reed
aspicio, aspicere, aspexi, aspectum, see, behold
assentior, assentiri, assensus, agree with (+dat.)
assiduus, -a, -um, constant, unremitting
attuli, see affero
audio, audire, audivi, auditum, listen to (+acc.)
caelum, caeli, n., sky
cano, canere, cecini, cantum, sing
cantor, -oris, m., singer
carpo, carpere, carpsi, carptum, graze on; harvest; seize, pluck at, pick
cavea, -ae, f., the auditorium of a theater (where the spectators usually sit)
cella, -ae, f., chamber, small room
chorus, -i, m.,  chorus
cingo, cingere, cinxi, cinctum, encircle, gird
coalesco, coalescere, coalui, coalitum, combine, grow or join together, unite
cogito (1), think
cognovi, cognitum, know
colligo, colligere, collegi, collectum, gather together, collect, assemble
commeo (1), travel, come and go, journey
commissio, -onis, f., commencement, holding of (an event, specifically the games)
comparatio, -onis, f., comparison
compareo, comparere, comparui, appear, show oneself; be able to be found
competo, competere, competivi, competitum, come together, meet; coincide
comprehendo, comprehendere, comprehensi, comprehensum, cover, deal with; include
comprendo, see comprehendo
computatio, -onis, f., calculation
concentus, -us, m., a singing together, a playing together
concoquamus, concoquere, concoxi, concoctum, digest; cook together
conditura, -ae, f., a method of flavoring, preserving, or pickling
confragosus, -a, -um, uneven, rough; difficult
confundo, confundere, confudi, confusum, mingle, mix
congero, congerere, congessi, congestum, collect, amass, bring together
conp-, see comp-
conscendo, conscendere, conscendi, conscensum, climb, scale
consono, consonare, consonui, sound together, resound
conspiro (1), act or be in harmony, agree
constat, impersonal of next: it is know, it is established
consto, constare, constiti, consist of (+ abl.)
contentus, -a, -um, (+abl.) satisfied
contraho, contrahere, contraxi, contractus, draw together, collect
contristo (1), sadden, depress
contumelia, -ae, f., insult, affront
corpus, corporis, n., body
cura, -ae, f., care, concern, carefulness
debeo, debere, debui, debitus, owe, ought
decerpo, decerpere, decerpsi, decerptum, pluck, pick
deinde, then, next
demum, adv., finally
derigo, see dirigo
difficilis, -e, adj., hard, difficult
digero, digerere, digessi, digestum, distribute
dignitas, -atis, f., worthiness
diluo, diluere, dilui, dilutum, dissipate, weaken, diminish
dirigo, dirigere, direxi, directum, guide, steer
discurro, discurrere, discursi, discursum, run around; (of the mind) branch out over, range over
dispono, disponere, disposui, dispositum, distribute
dispositio, -onis, f., arrangement
dissideo, dissidere, dissedi, differ
dissonus, -a, -um, different sounding, diverse sounding; heterogeneous
distendo, distendere, distendi, distentum, stretch out, spread; fill to bursting
distinctus, -a, -um, distinct, different
diversus, -a, -um, varied
divitiae, divitiarum, f. pl., riches
dives, divitis, adj., rich
dulcis, dulcis, dulce, sweet
duplex, duplicis, adj., twofold
efficio, efficere, effeci, effectum, bring about, effect
emineo, eminere, eminui, stand out, excel
enervo (1), weaken
ergo, therefore
excelsus, -a, -um, sublime, noble, lofty
excutio, excutere, excussi, excussum, shake off, knock off
exemplum, -i, n., example, instance
exemplar, -is, n., example, pattern, model
exerceo, exercere, exercui, exercitum, exercise, train
exhaurio, exhaurire, exhausi, exhaustum, use up, exhaust
existimo (1), think, suppose, judge
ex(s)to, ex(s)tare, ex(s)titi, stand out, be conspicuous
facultas, -atis, f., capability
fastigium, -i, n., apex, summit
fatigo (1), tire out, weary, exhaust
favus, -i, m., honeycomb
femina, -ae, f., woman
fermentum, -i, n., fermentation
fideliter, adv., in good faith; with certainly
filius, -i, m., son
fio, fieri, factus sum, become, be made; happen
figo, figere, fixi, fixum, drive in, run through, fasten
florens, florentis, flowering, blooming
flos, floris, m., flower
folium, -i, n., leaf
forma, -ae, f., shape, form, mode, character
genitum, see gigno
genus, generis, n., sort, type, kind
gigno, gignere, genui, genitum, bring into being, create; produce
gradus, -us, m., step, stair
gravis, grave, low-pitched, deep
habeo, habere, habui, habitum, have, hold; consider, deem; habeo + acc. + pro + abl, consider (the acc. thing) to be/as (the abl. thing)
harundo, see arundo
haurio, haurire, hausi, haustum, swallow; drink
herba, -ae, f., plant, herb, grass
huc, adv., to here
humilis, humile, adj., lowly
humor, see umor
iamdudum, adv., already
idem, eadem, idem, same
idem, adv., likewise
idoneus, -a, -um, suitable
illic, there
imago, imaginis, f., likeness, image
imitor (1), imitate
impleo, implere, implevi, impletum, fill
imprimo, imprimere, impressi, impressum, stamp, imprint
indico (1), say, reveal, make known
Indus, -i, m., Indian
ingenium, -i, n., intellect, mental powers
innato (1), swim in, swim into
inp-, see imp-
inquis, you say (a defective verb that has only a few forms)
integer, integra, integrum, whole
intellego, intellegere, intellexi, intellectum, understand
intentio, -onis, f., attention, concentration
interpono, interponere, interposui, interpositum, insert, interpose
intro (1), enter
intueor, intueri, intuitus sum, watch, look at
invenio, invenire, inveni, inventum, discover, find
invicem, by turns, in turn
invideo, invidere, invidi, invisum, (+ dat.) look askance at, envy, hate
invidia, -ae, f., hatred; envy, jealousy
istic, adv., there
ita, adv., thus
iter, itineris, n., journey; march; road
iudex, iudicis, m., judge
iudico (1), judge, think
laboro (1), labor, toil; suffer, feel distress; be anxious, be worried
lateo, latere, latui, lie hidden, lie out of sight, escape notice
lectio, -onis, f., a reading
lego, legere, legi, lectum, read
libamentum, -i, n., sacrificial offering, first fruits; taste
libet, libere, libuit, one wants, it is pleasing
limen, liminis, n., threshold
liqueo, liquere, liqui/licui, be liquid
littera, -ae, f., letter (of the alphabet); pl. letter, epistle; pl. literature, writings
lubricus, -a, -um, slippery
manifestus, -a, -um, evident, obvious, unmistakable
medius, -a, -um, in between
mel, mellis, n., honey
melior, melius, comparative adj., better
memoria, -ae, f. memory
minus, adv., less
minus, minorisn., a smaller number/amount of
miser, misera, miserum, wretched, miserable
mixtura, -ae, f., mixture
mollio, mollire, mollivi, mollitum, soften, relax, weaken
mortuus, -a, -um, dead
muto (1), change
natura, -ae, f., the natural course of events
necessarius, -a, -um, necessary, needed
nectar, nectaris, n., a sweet liquid (as ambrosia, honey, wine, milk)
neglego, neglegere, neglexi, neglectum, not pay attention to, ignore
nosco, noscere, novi, notum, get to know, study (in the present system); know (in the perfect system)
notabilis, -is, -e, conspicuous, easily observed
numerus, -i, m., number
olim, at one time
onus, oneris, n., burden
opera, -ae, f., work, toil, effort
oratio, -onis, f., speech
ordo, ordinis, row, line, rank
organum, -i, n., musical instrument
ostendo, ostendere, ostendi, ostensum, show
patior, pati, passus sum, allow
per, prep., + acc., through
perduro (1), continue, persist
periculum, -i, n., peril, danger
persequor, persequi, persecutus sum, pursue, chase; search after, find
peto, petere, petivi, petitum, seek
philosophus, -i, m., philosopher
piger, pigra, pigrum, sluggish, torpid
pinguis, pinguis, pingue, rich, fatty, thick
placeo, placere, placui, placitus, be pleasing; placet + X in the dat. = X decides, X thinks
planus, -a, -um, even (ground), flat
plus, pluris, n., more
pono, ponere, posui, positum, place, put
possideo, possidere, possedi, possessum, own, hold, possess
potens, potentis, adj., powerful, influential
potius, adv., rather
praeceptum, -i, n., rule, principle
praeruptus, -a, -um, on the edge of a cliff, hazardous
praesto, praestare, praestiti, praestitum, render, bring about
praetereo, praeterire, praeterii, preateritum, go past, bypass
primum, firstly
pro, prep., + abl., as (with habeo, puto, etc.)
prosum, prodesse, profui, (+dat.) do good to, help
proprietas, proprietatis, f., special property
prosum, prodesse, profui, be advantageous, be beneficial
protinus, immediately
pulpitum, -i, n., performance platform
pusillus, -a, -um, petty, tiny
quaero, quaerere, quaesivi, quaesitum, seek, investigate
qualitas, -atis, f., character, essential quality
quamdiu, as long as
quamvis, although
quare, why, for what reason
quicumque, quaecumque, quodcumque, whoever, whatever
quidam, quaedam, quiddam, certain
quidem, indeed
quisquis, quidquid/quicquid, whoever, whatever, anyone who, anything which
quomodo, in the way in which, in the same way as; how, in what way
quoque, adv., also
ratio, rationis, f., reason, thought
recedo, recedere, recessi, recessum, withdraw, move away from
reddo, reddere, reddidi, redditum, return; cause to appear, render
redigo, redigere, redegi, redactum, bring back, recall; reduce, limit
reficio, reficere, refeci, refectum, refresh
relinquo, relinquere, reliqui, relictum, leave, abandon, forsake
rixa, -ae, f., quarrel, brawl, rhubarb
ros, roris, m., dew
saluto (1), greet
sanguis, sanguinis, m., blood
sapientia, -ae, f., wisdom
sapor, saporis, m., flavor, taste
satis, enough
scientia, -ae, f., knowledge
segnitia, -ae, f., sloth, sluggishness
sententia, -ae, f., opinion
separo (1), separate, divide; keep separate
servo (1), preserve
sicut, just as, as
similis, similis, simile, similar, like
similitudo, similitudinis, f., likeness, similarity
simul,  at the same time
singulus, -a, -um, individual
solidus, -a, -um, unbroken, whole, entire
sollicitus, -a, -um, restless, troubled, anxious
solvo, solvere, solui, solutum, loosen, relax
spectator, -oris, m., spectator
spiritus, -us, m., breath
sto, stare, steti, status, stand
stilus, -i, m., stylus (a pointed instrument used for incising letters in wax, etc.), pen
stipo (1), compress, compact; surround closely
stomachus, -i, m., stomach
studium, -i, n., pursuit, study
suadeo, suadere, suasi, suasum, urge, advocate, suggest
submitto, submittere, submisi, submissum, make subject to
sucus, -i, m., sap, juice, vital fluid
summa, -ae, f., sum
summus, -a, -um, highest
summ-, see subm-
sumo, sumere, sumpsi, sumptum, take
suspendo, suspendere, suspendi, suspensum, hang, suspend
talis, talis, tale, such, of that sort
tam, as (often with a later 'quam,' which means 'as')
tamen, nonetheless, however
tantum, only
tempero (1), moderate, temper, adjust
tener, tenera, tenerum, tender, delicate
terminus, -i, m., limit, bound
theatrum, -i, n., theater
tibia, -ae, f., flute
traho, trahere, traxi, tractum, draw, take
trames, tramitis, m., path
tranquillus, -a, -um, peaceful, calm
transeo, transire, transii, transitum, go over, transition
tum, then, at the time
tumidus, -a, -um, presumptuous, overweening, affected, overly confident
tumultuosus, -a, -um, unruly, turbulent, uproarious
tunc, then, at the time
umor, umoris (also humor), m., moisture, fluid
unde, whence, from where
unitas, -atis, f., unity
utrum, whether
vagor (1), wander
valetudo, -inis, f., health, state of health
vanus, -a, -u, vain, insubstantial, empty
varius, -a, -um, varied
velut, as
venio, venire, veni, ventum, arrive, come
ventosus, -a, -um, windy; fickle, ephemeral, insubstantial
verto, vertere, verti, versum, turn, convert
vertex, verticis, m., summit, peak
verus, vera, verum, true, accurate
vestibulum, -i, n., forecourt; entranceway
vetus, veteris, adj., old
via, -ae, f., path, way, entranceway
vireo, virere, virui, show green growth, be verdant
vires, virium, f. pl., strength
vis, vis, force, power
vito (1), avoid
vox, vocis, f., voice
voluptas, -atis, f., pleasure