Elaine Fantham (ed.), Oxford World's Classics: Seneca: Selected Letters
1Let us stop wanting what we used to want. I at least make it my purpose not to wish for the same things as an old man which I wished for as a boy. My days are spent on this one goal, as are my nights: this is my task and my meditation, to put an end to the old evils. I am aiming to make a day the equivalent of my whole life, nor am I snatching it as if it were my last, but I look on it as if it could be my last. 2This is the spirit in which I am writing you this letter, as if death might summon me in this very moment as I write: I am ready to go, and so I am enjoying my life because I do not pay attention to how long it will last. Before my old age I took care to live well: in old age, to die well, for to die well is to die willingly. 3Take pains never to do anything against your will; whatever is compulsory for the man who resists is not compulsory for him if he is willing. This is what I mean. The man who willingly obeys commands has escaped the most bitter part of slavery, that is, acting against his will. A person is not wretched for acting on orders, but if he is acting against his will. Then let us order our minds so that we wish for whatever circumstances demand, and especially let us think about our end without sadness. 4We need to be prepared for death before we are prepared for life. Life is quite well enough equipped, but we are greedy for its trappings; there always seems to us to be something lacking, and will always seem so. It is not years and days that make sure we have lived enough, but our state of mind. I have lived enough, dear Lucilius: I am sated, and wait for death. Keep well.