Travel and reading by Séneca

He is nowhere who is everywhere. This is what happens to those who spend their lives travelling: they have many homes and no friends. The same thing must happen to those who do not apply themselves to the familiar treatment of any ingenuity, but who deal with everything in a hurried and hasty manner.

The body does not use or assimilate the food it expels as soon as it is ingested; nothing hinders healing so much as frequent changes of remedies; the wound on which medicines are tested does not heal; the plant that is often moved from place to place does not take root; there is nothing so useful that I can use by changing. Dispel the multitude of books; therefore, if you cannot read as many as you have at hand, it is enough to have as many as you can read. “But,” you will argue, “first I want to look at this book, and then at that one.

It is characteristic of an over-fed stomach that it tastes many delicacies, which, if they are too varied, cause indigestion and are not nourishing. Therefore, always read the same authors, and if at any time you wish to turn to others, return to the first. Find for yourself every day some remedy against poverty, some against death, no less than against other calamities, and when you have examined many, choose one to meditate on that day. This is what I do myself; of the many passages I have read, I appropriate some.

Today I discovered this in Epicurus, for I usually go into the enemy’s camp not as a traitor, but as an explorer: “Poverty is an honest thing to be borne with joy.” It is not poverty that is joyful. Those who have little are not poor, but those who want more. What does it matter how much wealth he locks up in his coffers, how much in his barns, how many cattle he grazes or how many loans he takes out, if he covets what belongs to others, if he calculates not what he has acquired but what he still has to acquire? Do you ask what is the proper limit of wealth? First have what you need, then have enough.

Seneca. Letters to Lucilius