Seneca, Consolatio ad Marciam 25

 

1. Proinde non est quod ad sepulcrum fili tui curras; pessima eius et ipsi molestissima istic iacent, ossa cineresque, non magis illius partes quam uestes aliaque tegimenta corporum. Integer ille nihilque in terris relinquens sui fugit et totus excessit; paulumque supra nos commoratus, dum expurgatur et inhaerentia uitia situmque omnem mortalis aeui excutit, deinde ad excelsa sublatus inter felices currit animas. Excepit illum coetus sacer, Scipiones Catonesque, interque contemptores uitae et beneficio [suo] liberos parens tuus, Marcia. 2. Ille nepotem suum — quamquam illic omnibus omne cognatum est — applicat sibi noua luce gaudentem et uicinorum siderum meatus docet, nec ex coniectura sed omnium ex uero peritus in arcana naturae libens ducit; utque ignotarum urbium monstrator hospiti gratus est, ita sciscitanti caelestium causas domesticus interpres. Et in profunda terrarum permittere aciem iubet; iuuat enim ex alto relicta respicere. 3. Sic itaque te, Marcia, gere, tamquam sub oculis patris filique posita, non illorum, quos noueras, sed tanto excelsiorum et in summo locatorum. Erubesce quicquam humile aut uolgare cogitare et mutatos in melius tuos flere! Aeternarum rerum per libera et uasta spatia dimissi sunt; non illos interfusa maria discludunt nec altitudo montium aut inuiae ualles aut incertarum uada Syrtium: omnia ibi plana et ex facili mobiles et expediti et in uicem peruii sunt intermixtique sideribus.

You need not, therefore, hasten to the burial-place of your son: that which lies there is but the worst part of him and that which gave him most trouble, only bones and ashes, which are no more parts of him than clothes or other coverings of his body. He is complete, and without leaving any part of himself behind on earth has taken wing and gone away altogether: he has tarried a brief space above us while his soul was being cleansed and purified from the vices and rust which all mortal lives must contract, and from thence he will rise to the high heavens and join the souls of the blessed: a sacred company will welcome him there, the Scipios and Catos; and among the rest of those who despised life and set themselves free by their own hand, is your father, Marcia. He will embrace his grandson as he rejoices in the novel light and will teach him the motion of the stars which are so near to them, and introduce him with joy into all the secrets of nature, not by guesswork but by real knowledge. Even as a stranger is grateful to one who shows him the way about an unknown city, so is a searcher after the causes of what he sees in the heavens to one of his own family who can explain them to him. He will delight in gazing deep down upon the earth, for it is a delight to look from aloft at what one has left below. Bear yourself, therefore, Marcia, as though you were placed before the eyes of your father and your son, yet not such as you knew them, but far loftier beings, placed in a higher sphere. Blush, then, to do any mean or common action, or to weep for those your relatives who have been changed for the better. Free to roam through the open, boundless realms of the ever-living universe, they are not hindered in their course by intervening seas, lofty mountains, impassable valleys, or the treacherous flats of the Syrtes: they find a level path everywhere, are swift and ready of motion, and are permeated in their turn by the stars and dwell together with them.

 

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