Seneca the Younger on Instability

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Don’t rush about or disturb yourself by moving from one place to another. All that knocking about is the sign of a sick mind; the first proof of a composed mind is that it can stay still and linger with itself. Be sure, too, that reading many authors and reading books of every type does not argue some quality of restlessness and instability. There are certain works of genius on which you ought to linger and nourish yourself if you want to take away from them something which will settle down faithfully in your mind. The man who is everywhere is nowhere. Those who spend their lives traveling about end by having many acquaintances to stay with but no real friends. The same is bound to happen if you do not attach yourself with real intimate knowledge to some one man of genius, but hurriedly scamper over everything at breakneck speed. Nothing does such harm to health as perpetual change of remedy; no wound comes to a scar if new kinds of dressings are frequently tried, and a plant never grows strong which if often transplanted. Nothing is so beneficial that it can profit you as it passes by.

* This excerpt is from Seneca’s letters to Lucilius, which were quoted in the book “The Romans” by R.H. Barrow


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