To Polybius, on Consolation IV

We might go on blaming fate much longer, but we cannot alter it: it stands harsh and inexorable: no one can move it by reproaches, by tears, or by justice.

Fate never spares anyone, never makes allowances to anyone.

Let us, then, refrain from unprofitable tears: for our grief will carry us away to join him sooner than it will bring him back to us: and if it tortures us without helping us, we ought to lay it aside as soon as possible, and restore the tone of our minds after their indulgence in that vain solace and the bitter luxury of woe: for unless reason puts an end to our tears, fortune will not do so.

Look around, I pray you, upon all mortals: everywhere there is ample and constant reason for weeping: one man is driven to daily labour by toilsome poverty, another is tormented by never-resting ambition, another fears the very riches that he once wished for, and suffers from the granting of his own prayer: one man is made wretched by loneliness, another by labour, another by the crowds which always besiege his antechamber.

This man mourns because he has children, that one because he has lost them.

Tears will fail us sooner than causes for shedding them.

Do you not see what sort of a life it must be that Nature has promised to us men when she makes us weep as soon as we are born?

We begin life in this fashion, and all the chain of years that follow it is in harmony with it.

Thus we pass our lives, and consequently we ought to be sparing in doing what we have to do so often, and when we look back upon the mass of sorrows that hangs over us, we ought, if not to end our tears, at any rate to reserve them.

There is nothing that we ought to husband more carefully than this, which we are so often obliged to expend.