None can Harm the Wise

Seneca

 

Will there be no one who will try to do an injury to the wise man? Yes, some one will try, but the injury will not reach him; for he is separated from the contact of his inferiors by so wide a distance that no evil impulse can retain its power of harm until it reaches him. Even when powerful men, raised to positions of high authority, and strong in the obedience of their dependents, strive to injure him, all their darts fall as far short of his wisdom as those which are shot upwards by bow-strings or catapults, which, although they rise so high as to pass out of sight, yet fall back again without reaching the heavens.

Wisdom leaves no room for evil. To it, the only evil is baseness, which cannot enter into the place already occupied by virtue and honour. If, therefore, there can be no injury without evil, and no evil without baseness, and baseness cannot find any place with a man who is already filled with honour, it follows that no injury can reach the wise man. For if injury be the endurance of some evil, and the wise man can endure no evil, it follows that no injury takes effect upon the wise man. All injury implies making less of that which it affects, and no one can sustain an injury without some loss either of his dignity or of some part of his body, or of some of the things external to ourselves. But the wise man can lose nothing. He has invested everything in himself, has entrusted nothing to fortune, has his property in safety, and is content with virtue, which does not need casual accessories, and therefore can neither be increased or diminished; for virtue, as having attained to the highest position, has no room for addition to herself, and fortune can take nothing away save what she gave. Now fortune does not give virtue. Therefore she does not take it away. Virtue is free, inviolable, not to be moved, not to be shaken, and so hardened against misfortunes that she cannot be bent, let alone overcome by them.  The wise man therefore can lose nothing of whose loss he will be sensible, for he is the property of virtue alone, from whom he never can be taken away.

Consequently, no one can do either harm or good to the wise man. This is because divine things neither want help nor are capable of being hurt. And the wise man is near, indeed very near, to the Divine, being like a god in every respect save that he is mortal. As he presses forward and makes his way towards the life that is sublime, well-ordered, without fear, proceeding in a regular and harmonious course, tranquil, beneficent, made for the good of humankind, useful both to itself and to others, he will neither long nor weep for anything that is grovelling.

See then, that the perfect  man, full of human and divine virtues, can lose nothing. His goods are surrounded by strong and impassable walls. You cannot compare them with the walls of Babylon, which Alexander entered, not the fortifications of Carthage and Numantia, won by one of the same hand, nor the Capitol and citadel of Rome, which are branded with the marks of the victors’ assults. The ramparts which protect the wise man are safe from fire and hostile invasion. They afford no passage. They are lofty, impregnable, divine.


 

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, or Seneca the Younger was a renowned Spanish philosopher of the Roman period. He was born in  4 BCE, in what is now called Córdoba, Spain. He was a great speaker and also a author of tragedies. He lived during the reign of Nero, and was a famous thinker and advisor of his people. Seneca died in 65 CE I in Rome. This was one life which was controversial and not true to what it wrote or spoke.