Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Hodges Finds the Emersonian Passage in Seneca

In a previous post on the travails of travel, I quoted a line from Emerson's "Self-Reliance,": "Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places." I claimed that the thought was Seneca's before it was Emerson's. In the meantime Horace Jeffery Hodges, that veritable spider man of the Web, has located the passage here.

This site must be used with caution inasmuch as a cursory check turned up a serious error. At the beginning of the FAQ page, we find Plato classified as a Stoic, which is simply false. In any case, here is an excerpt which I am reproducing not from the above website, but from my hardcopy of the Loeb Classical Library, no. 75 (Seneca IV, Epistle XXVIII ad Lucilium, trans. R. M. Gummere, p. 199):

Though you may cross vast spaces of sea, and though, as our Vergil (Aeneid, iii. 72) remarks,
Lands and cities are left astern,
your faults will follow you whithersoever you travel. Socrates made the same remark to one who complained; he said: "Why do you wonder that globe-trotting does not help you, seeing that you always take yourself with you? The reason that set you wandering is ever at your heels."

Licet vastum traieceris mare, licet, ut ait Vergilius noster,
Terraeque urbesque recedant,
sequentur te, quocumque perveneris, vitia. Hoc videm quaerenti cuidam Socrates ait: "Quid miraris nihil tibi peregrinationes prodesse, cum te circumferas? Premit te eadem causa, quae expulit."