Exaggera

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Desine ergo philosophis pecunia interdicere: nemo sapientiam paupertate damnavit. habebit philosophus amplas opes, sed nulli detractas nec alieno sanguine cruentas, sine cuiusquam iniuria partas, sine sordidis quaestibus, quarum tam honestus sit exitus quam introitus, quibus nemo ingemescat nisi malignus. in quantum vis exaggera illas: honestae sunt in quibus, cum multa sint quae sua quisque dici velit, nihil est quod quisquam suum possit dicere. ille vero fortunae benignitatem a se non summovebit et patrimonio per honesta quaesito nec gloriabitur nec erubescet. habebit tamen etiam quo glorietur, si aperta domo et admissa in res suas civitate poterit dicere ‘quod quisque agnoverit tollat.’ o magnum virum, o optime divitem, si post hanc vocem tantundem habuerit! ita dico: si tuto et securus scrutationem populo praebuerit, si nihil quisquam apud illum invenerit cui manus iniciat, audaciter et propalam erit dives.
(Seneca Minor, De Vita Beata 23.1-2)

So stop forbidding philosophers to have money. No one has sentenced wisdom to poverty. The philosopher will have ample wealth, but not wrested from anyone or dripping with another’s blood, and acquired without any harm to anyone or any filthy profiteering. Its exit will be as morally good as its entry, and no one except a stingy person would mourn for it. Pile it up as much as you wish: that wealth is morally good in which, even when there are many things that each person might wish to be called his, there is nothing that anyone can rightly call his. In fact, the philosopher will not push fortune’s generosity away from him, and he will neither boast nor blush over an estate that was gained by morally acceptable methods. He will actually have something of which he can boast, however, if he can open up his house and admit the citizenry among his possessions and say: “What each recognizes, let him take.” What a great man he is, and wealthy in the best way, if he can say this and then retain exactly the same amount! What I mean is that if he can allow the people to scrutinize his things and not lose anything or feel anxious—if no one finds anything in his house to which he can lay claim—he will be wealthy boldly and publicly.

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