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the condition of human nature as a subject of just lamentation : on the contrary, I am far from regretting that life was bestowed upon me, as I have the satisfaction to think that I have employed it in such a manner as not to have lived in vain. In short, I consider this world as a place which Nature never designed for my permanent abode; and I look upon my departure out of it, not' as being driven from my habitation, but as leaving my inn.

And, after all, should this my firm persuasion of the soul's immortality prove to be a mere delusion, it is at least a pleasing delusion, and I will cherish it to my latest breath. I have the satisfaction in the meantime to be assured that if death should utterly extinguish my existence, as some minute philosophers assert, the groundless hope I entertained of an after-life in some better state cannot expose me to the derision of these wonderful sages when they and I shall be no more. In all events, and even admitting that our expectations of immortality are utterly vain, there is a certain period, nevertheless, when death would be a consummation most earnestly to be desired : for Nature has appointed to the days of man, as to all things else, their proper limits, beyond which they are no longer of any value. In fine, old-age may be considered as the last scene in the great drama of life; and one would not, surely, wish to lengthen out our part till we sunk down in disgust and exhausted with fatigue.

1 From a translation, by W. Melmoth, of the essay De Senectute, which, it is believed, was written by Cicero a year or two before his death.



(95-51 B.c.) FOR TOR I, if still you are haunted by the fear

Of Hell, have one more secret for your ear. Hell is indeed no fable; but, my friends, Hell and its torments are not there, but here.

No Tantalus down below with craven head Cowers from the hovering rock: but here instead

A Tantalus lives in each fond wretch who fears An angry God, and views the heavens with dread.

No Tityos there lies prone, and lives to feel
The beak of the impossible vulture steal

Day after day out of his bleeding breast
The carrion of the unsatiable meal.

But you and I are Tityos, when the dire
Poison of passion turns our blood to fire;

For despised love is crueller than the pit,
And bitterer than the vulture's beak desire...

Oh forms of fear, oh sights and sounds of woe!
The shadowy road down which we all must go

Leads not to these, but from them. Hell is here, Here in the broad day. Peace is there below.

Brother and friend, this life brings joy and ease
And love to some, to some the lack of these

Only the lack; to others tears and pain ;
But at the last it brings to all the peace


This Life and the Mert

That passes understanding. Sweet, thrice sweet,
This healing Gospel of the unplumbed retreat,

Where, though not drinking, we shall no more thirst,
And meeting not, shall no more wish to meet.

Rest, rest, perturbéd bosom-heart forlorn,
With thoughts of ended joys, and evil borne,

And--worse-of evil done: for they, like thee,
Shall rest—those others thou hast made to mourn.

Even if there lurk behind some veil of sky
The fabled Maker, the immortal Spy,

Ready to torture each poor life he made,
Thou canst do more than God can-thou canst die.

Will not the thunders of thy God be dumb
When thou art deaf for ever ? Can the Sum

Of all things bruise what is not ? Nay-take heart; For where thou goest, thither no God can come.

Rest, brother, rest. Have you done ill or well,
Rest, rest. There is no God, no Gods, who dwell

Crowned with avenging righteousness on high,
Nor frowning ministers of their hate in Hell. .

Flakes of the water, on the waters cease!
Soul of the body, melt and sleep like these.

Atoms to atoms-weariness to rest.
Ashes to ashes-hopes and fears to peace !1

1 From Lucretius on Life and Death (trans. by W. H. Mallock). Parts vi. and vii.


(65–8 B.C.)


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EEK not to lift the veil forbidden,

Nor vainly scan the future hidden; Nor strive with Babylonian lore Our fate's dark secret to explore : Far wiser is it to endure Those ills of life we cannot cure. What though this winter, that exhausts The Tyrrhene surge on shattered coasts, Should be the last for thee and me? It matters not, Leuconoè! Fill high the goblet ! Envious Time Steals, as we speak, our fleeting prime. Away with hope! Away with sorrow! Snatch thou To-day, nor trust To-morrow.l

Be hoary Inachus thy sire,
Or be thou risen from the mire;
Be rich, or poor, it boots thee not:
Unpitying Orcus casts thy lot.
All, all, we drive to doom.

The urn
Discharges every Life in turn :
For every Life, or soon or late,
The boat, and endless exile, wait.2

1 Odes, Bk. i. ode xii., trans. by Sir Stephen de Vere.

2 Ibid. Bk. ii, ode iii., trans. by W. E. Gladstone.

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IFE is indifferent; the use of it not indifferent.1

If any one is unhappy, remember that he is so for himself; for God made all men to enjoy felicity and a settled good condition.

Was reason given us by the gods for the purpose of unhappiness and misery, to make us live wretched and lamenting? O, by all means, let every one be immortal! Let nobody go from home! Let us never go from home ourselves, but remain rooted to a spot like plants !

Who can be a good man who doth not know what he is? And who knows this and forgets that all things made are perishable, and that it is not possible for man and man always to live together? What then ? To desire impossibilities is base and foolish : it is the behaviour of a stranger [to the world]; of one who fights against God the only way he can-by his principles. .

Say that the fall of the leaf is ominous, and that a candied mass should be produced from figs, and raisins from grapes. For all these are changes from a former into another state; not a destruction, but a certain appointed economy and administration. Such is absence, a small change; such is death, a greater change; not from what now is nothing, but to what now is not.

What, then, shall I be no more?

1 From the Discourses, trans. by Elizabeth Carter, 1758 Bk. ii. chap. vi.

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