The stoic philosopher Seneca was an adviser to the Roman emperor Nero. he was also a prolific writer of letters, some of which have survived to the modern day.
In one of his letters, Seneca writes:
“Suppose all the belongings of many rich men were piled upon you. Suppose that fortune were to advance you beyond the means of any private individual, …endowing you with luxury and riches, so much that you could cover the very ground with marble — wealth not only in your possession but even under your feet!… What will you learn from these things? Only how to desire more.”
As with many of the so called wise men of the ancient past, Seneca’s “wisdom” consists almost exclusively of cliched and tired (I am going to guess they were already cliched and tired even by Seneca’s time) observations about the way the world or people are or rather were, written down in story format. His reputation for wisdom springs not from the things he said but rather his position as the first person to say them and have them written down and preserved.
Essentially Seneca tells us that money doesn’t buy happiness. Thanks ancient wise one. You know what else money doesn’t buy? the kind of free publicity you get in the modern age because of your amazing knack for noticing the obvious, commenting on it in writing and story form, and doing so in such a way that thousands of years hence your words will be some of the few still available from the era of your lifetime. Money absolutely does not buy that.
Some more choice quotes from Johnny Wisdom, translated for the modern idiot.
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.
When you don’t know where you are going it is harder to get there.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
Dummies and the poor are more religious than philosophers and scientists, the rich are selfish bastards.
It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.
Do or do not, there is no try — Yoda
True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.
Live in the now, you can’t do anything about the future anyway.
I shall never be ashamed of citing a bad author if the line is good.
I am a snarky blogger.
Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.
Use it or lose it.
If you wished to be loved, love.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Wait a minute? the golden rule? that was seneca? No fucking way. Well I’ll be damned. He had to have stolen that from Jesus, right?
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.
Things are a much better than they seem.
Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
You make you own luck.