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

SUPPOSE however that your life has become full of trouble, and that without knowing what you were doing, you have fallen into some snare which either public or private fortune has set for you, and that you can neither untie it nor break it: then remember that fettered men suffer much at first from the burdens and clogs upon their legs; afterwards, when they have made up their minds not to fret themselves about them, but to endure them, necessity teaches them to bear them bravely, and habit to bear them easily. In every station of life you will find amusements, relaxations, and enjoyments; that is, provided you be willing to make light of evils rather than to hate them. Knowing to what sorrows we were born, there is nothing for which Nature more deserves our thanks than for having invented habit as an alleviation of misfortune, which soon accustoms us to the severest evils. No one could hold out against misfortune if it permanently exercised the same force as at its first onset. We are all chained to fortune: some men’s chain is loose and made of gold, that of others is tight and of meaner metal; but what difference does this make? We are all included in the same captivity; and even those who have bound us are bound themselves, unless you think that a chain on the left side is lighter to bear. One man may be bound by public office, another by wealth; some have to bear the weight of illustrious, some of humble birth; some are subject to the commands of others, some only to their own; some are kept in one place by being banished thither, others by being elected to the priesthood. All life is slavery; let each man therefore reconcile himself to his lot, complain of it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good lies within his reach. No condition can be so wretched that an impartial mind can find no compensations in it. Small sites, if ingeniously divided, may be made use of for many different purposes; and arrangement will render ever so narrow a room habitable. Call good sense to your aid against difficulties: it is possible to soften what is harsh, to widen what is too narrow, and to make heavy burdens press less severely upon one who bears them skillfully.  1

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