Peregrinationes

american tourists

Inde peregrinationes suscipiuntur vagae et invia litora pererrantur et modo mari se modo terra experitur semper praesentibus infesta levitas. “nunc Campaniam petamus.” iam delicata fastidio sunt: “inculta videantur, Bruttios et Lucaniae saltus persequamur.” aliquid tamen inter deserta amoeni requiritur, in quo luxuriosi oculi longo locorum horrentium squalore releventur: “Tarentum petatur laudatusque portus et hiberna caeli mitioris et regio vel antiquae satis opulenta turbae.” nimis diu a plausu et fragore aures vacaverunt, iuvat iam et humano sanguine frui: “iam flectamus cursum ad urbem.” aliud ex alio iter suscipitur et spectacula spectaculis mutantur. ut ait Lucretius: “hoc se quisque modo semper fugit.” sed quid prodest, si non effugit? sequitur se ipse et urget gravissimus comes. itaque scire debemus non locorum vitium esse quo laboramus, sed nostrum; infirmi sumus ad omne tolerandum, nec laboris patientes nec voluptatis nec nostri nec ullius rei diutius. hoc quosdam egit ad mortem, quod proposita saepe mutando in eadem revolvebantur et non reliquerant novitati locum. fastidio esse illis coepit vita et ipse mundus, et subit illud tabidarum deliciarum: “quousque eadem?”
(Seneca, De Tranquillitate Animi 2.13-15)

This is why men go touring on their travels and wander around the beach resorts; and their restlessness, ever hostile to present circumstances, tests itself now by sea, now on land. “Let’s make for Campania now.” Soon they are sated with fancy resorts. “Let’s go and see wild country, making for the moorland of Bruttium and Lucania.” But even in uninhabited places they miss some charm to give their pampered eyes relief from the stretches of neglect of rough terrain. “Let’s make for Tarentum, with its much-praised harbor and milder winter weather, and a hinterland wealthy enough even for a crowd of long ago.” “Now let’s turn about toward the city”: their ears have been deprived for too long of the din of applause, and now they are eager to enjoy human bloodshed. They embark on one journey after another and exchange one show for another. As Lucretius says: “This is how each man constantly is fleeing himself”, but what is the point of fleeing if he doesn’t escape himself? He is his own escort and drives himself on, the most burdensome of companions. So we ought to realize that we are suffering, not the fault of our surroundings, but our own fault; we are too weak to bear anything, enduring neither toil nor pleasure nor ourselves nor any thing for long. This condition has driven some people to death, because when they constantly changed their purpose, they returned to the same setup and had left no room for any novelty; they began to be sated with life and the world itself, and that old lament of spoiled indulgence came over them: “How long will we experience the same things?” (tr. John W. Basore)

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