Hie Folly of Human Desires

Manilius AstronĂ³mica 4.1-22

Why do we spend [our] lives in such anxious years and torture ourselves with fear and blind desire for possessions and, [made] old (lit., old men) by ceaseless worries, lose life while we are seeking [it] and, satisfied with no end of [our] desires, always play the part of those [who are] going to live but we never really live, and [why] is each [person] poorer through [his] possessions because he wants more and does not count up what he has, [but] only desires what he does not have, and'although nature demands minor needs for herself, [why] do we put together material for a great downfall through [our] desires and buy luxury with [our] gains and plunderings with [our] luxury, and [why] is the greatest reward of wealth to squander wealth?

Mortals, free [your] minds and lighten [your] cares and rid [your] lives of so many pointless complaints. Fate rules the world, everything stands fixed by unchangeable law, and the long ages are stamped with an unchangeable [series of] events. We die as we are being born, and [our] end results from [our] beginning. From this [source] wealth and kingdoms come, and poverty, which occurs more often; and [from this source] skills and characters are given to [people when] born, as well as (lit., and) faults and virtues, losses and gains of property. No one will [ever] be able to be exempt from [what is] assigned [to him] or to have [what is] denied [to him], or with his prayers to take hold of Fortune [if she is] unwilling or to escape [her] when she approaches (lit., approaching); everyone must endure his own destiny.

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