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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Praises of the Rival School in Philosophy
By Seneca (c. 4 B.C.–65 A.D.)
 
Translation of Aubrey Stewart

MEN are not encouraged by Epicurus to run riot; but the vicious hide their excesses in the lap of philosophy, and flock to the schools in which they hear the praises of pleasure. They do not consider how sober and temperate—for so, by Hercules, I believe it to be—that “pleasure” of Epicurus is; but they rush at his mere name, seeking to obtain some protection and cloak for their vices. They lose, therefore, the one virtue which their evil life possessed,—that of being ashamed of doing wrong; for they praise what they used to blush at, and boast of their vices. Thus modesty can never reassert itself, when shameful idleness is dignified with an honorable name. The reason why that praise which your school lavishes upon pleasure is so hurtful, is because the honorable part of its teaching passes unnoticed, but the degrading part is seen by all.  1
  I myself believe, though my Stoic comrades would be unwilling to hear me say so, that the teaching of Epicurus was upright and holy, and even, if you examine it narrowly, stern; for this much-talked-of pleasure is reduced to a very narrow compass, and he bids pleasure submit to the same law which we bid virtue do,—I mean, to obey nature. Luxury, however, is not satisfied with what is enough for nature. What is the consequence? Whoever thinks that happiness consists in lazy sloth and alternations of gluttony and profligacy, requires a good patron for a bad action; and when he has become an Epicurean, having been led to do so by the attractive name of that school, he follows, not the pleasure which he there hears spoken of, but that which he brought thither with him; and having learned to think that his vices coincide with the maxims of that philosophy, he indulges in them no longer timidly and in dark corners, but boldly in the face of day. I will not, therefore, like most of our school, say that the sect of Epicurus is the teacher of crime; but what I say is, it is ill spoken of, it has a bad reputation, and yet it does not deserve it.  2
 
 
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