Corrupere

rose petals

Inde et illud sequitur, ut minimis sordidissimisque rebus non exacerbemur. parum agilis est puer aut tepidior aqua poturo aut turbatus torus aut mensa neglegentius posita: ad ista concitari insania est. aeger et infelicis valetudinis est quem levis aura contraxit, affecti oculi quos candida vestis obturbat, dissolutus deliciis cuius latus alieno labore condoluit. Mindyriden aiunt fuisse ex Sybaritarum civitate qui, cum vidisset fodientem et altius rastrum adlevantem, lassum se fieri questus vetuit illum opus in conspectu suo facere; idem habere se peius questus est, quod foliis rosae duplicatis incubuisset. ubi animum simul et corpus voluptates corrupere, nihil tolerabile videtur, non quia dura sed quia mollis patitur. quid est enim cur tussis alicuius aut sternutamentum aut musca parum curiose fugata in rabiem agat aut obversatus canis aut clavis neglegentis servi manibus elapsa? feret iste aequo animo civile convicium et ingesta in contione curiave maledicta cuius aures tracti subsellii stridor offendit? perpetietur hic famem et aestivae expeditionis sitim qui puero male diluenti nivem irascitur? nulla itaque res magis iracundiam alit quam luxuria intemperans et impatiens: dure tractandus animus est ut ictum non sentiat nisi gravem.
(Seneca Minor, De Ira 2.25)

From this it also follows that very trivial and petty matters will not aggravate us. The slave is not quick enough, the water’s too hot to drink, the bed has been mussed, the table’s been carelessly set: to get riled at such things is crazy. Someone whom a slight breeze has made shiver is weak and sickly; eyes that a bright white garment offends aren’t healthy; a person whose own back feels pain at another’s toil has been made effete by luxury. They say that Mindyrides, from the city of the Sybarites, complained that he was becoming exhausted when he saw someone digging and lifting his hoe too high, and he forbade him to work in his sight; the same man complained that he felt worse when he lay down on rose petals that were creased. When pleasures have corrupted mind and body at once, nothing seems bearable, not because things are hard but because the person experiencing them is soft. For why should someone’s cough or a sneeze send you into a frenzy, or a fly chased too negligently, or a dog that has got underfoot, or a key that slipped from the hands of a careless slave? Will someone whose ears are bruised by the scraping of a bench being dragged bear with equanimity the abuse of public life and the curses heaped on him in an assembly or the Senate? Will someone who becomes angry when a slave does a bad job of melting the snow endure hunger and the thirst of a summer campaign? That’s why I say that nothing feeds anger more than luxury that’s out of control and incapable of forbearance: the mind must be treated roughly so it feels only a serious blow. (tr. Robert A. Kaster)

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