Page:Ten Tragedies of Seneca (1902).djvu/131

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Lines 434—470]

THY. Yes! When I am on the death-roll!

PLIS. Thy power, as a king, omnipotent.

THY. None at all to one, to whom it is a matter of indifference.

PLIS. Thou canst transmit it to thy sons.

THY. A throne only requires one occupant.

PLIS. He who thinks he cannot be happy, would prefer to be wretched then, dost thou mean?

THY. Rely on me, grand things only tickle the imagination under the assumed proportions of imposingness; poverty, after all, is not so distressing as it is represented; when I sat on the throne, I was in a perpetual state of dread, and feared that a sword was continually about to enter my side, Oh! what a desirable thing it is, to be able to take things as they come—for a man to enjoy his food in security, even when lying on the ground! Great crimes do not usually abound in the humble cot, and one's food is appreciated, and although served on a small table, there is security with it. Poison is drunk out of the golden goblet! I speak from experience, it is a more acceptable choice, to prefer an indifferent lot—before a favorable one uncertain in its duration. The humble low-lying hamlet, exists in much greater serenity than the denizens of a mansion, with all Its majesty erected on the summit of some lofty mountain! Neither does the chaste ivory shine on the lofty ceilings for me, nor does a watchful sentry mount guard, to protect me during my slumber! I do not use entire fleets, for the purpose of catching fish, nor do I endeavour to keep the sea back, by constructing piers, or driving enormous piles. I do not fill my voracious stomach at the expense of the people. No land is at my disposal beyond what the Getæ and Parthians make use of. I am not worshipped with incense, nor are my altars adorned, and Jupiter disregarded! No forest trees are planted on my elevated terraces, waving to and fro; nor many dried up lakes, set on fire with great labor by the hand of man! I do not give up my entire day to sleep, nor are my nights spent in protracted Bacchanalian carousals! But I am, nevertheless, free from inquietude, my house is safe without defensive weapons, and quiet of the most desirable kind extends to all the smaller details of my life! To be able to bear life contentedly without a kingdom, represents to my mind a kingdom vast indeed!