Reading Seneca’s On Benefits brings me to smile. It is about giving and receiving benefits, otherwise known as gifts. The gift can be time, money, consolation, advice, etc.. Imagine if we were in Rome in the 1st century. What motivation, what consolation, would sustain you? Life is much different, may we say, difficult?
You might be reminded of Aesop’s fables, always reminding one through fairy-tales not to count one’s lot as the worst. It could be worse, Aesop reminds us, precisely when you try to better your lot. As we remember better days, how things use to be, we trap ourselves into rationalizing rather than understanding our present context.
So what benefits would you give or take?
It is soothing to hear Seneca methodically rhetor his way through a discourse on benefits. On who gives and takes benefits. In what circumstances we give or take benefits. When and where we give and take benefits…
A memorable quote on divvying out benefits is:
If thou at random doust thy bounties waste,
Much must be lost, for one that’s rightly placed
That is, without reflecting on giving out benefits, in general, then how lacking is one, by necessity, the one you thought more about. And again, if you give away pennies mindlessly, what will you do when someone asks for 50 cents?