Correspondence Between (Pseudo-)Paul and (Pseudo-)Seneca

 

Latin Text

(Aussagen(b)logik)

 

English Translation

(M. R. James, Wesleyan Noncanonical)

The Correspondence of Paul and Seneca existed in the fourth century, for Jerome mentions it, says it was 'read by many', and is led by it to insert Seneca in his catalogue of Christian authors; Augustine also, quoting the genuine Seneca, says, 'of whom some letters to the apostle Paul are current read'. The Pseudo-Linus inserts a paragraph in his Passion of Paul telling how Seneca frequently conversed and corresponded with Paul, admired him much, and read some of his writings to Nero.

Manuscripts as old as the ninth century exist, and of the twelfth--fifteenth centuries there are many. The composition is of the poorest kind: only its celebrity induces me to translate it once again.

 

I.

Seneca Paulo salutem. Credo tibi, Paule, nuntiatum quod heri cum Lucilio nostro de apocrifis et aliis rebus habuerimus. Erant enim quidam disciplinarum tuarum comites mecum. Nam in hortos Sallustianos secesseramus, quo loco occasione nostri alio tendentes hi de quibus dixi visis nobis adiuncti sunt. Certe quod tui praesentiam optavimus, et hoc scias volo; libello tuo lecto, id est de plurimis aliquas litteras quas ad aliquam civitatem seu caput provinciae direxisti mira exhortatione vitam moralem continentes, usque refecti sumus. Quos sensus non puto ex te dictos, sed per te, certe aliquando ex te et per te. Tanta enim maiestas earum est rerum tantaque generositate clarent, ut vix suffecturas putem aetates hominum quae his institui perficique possint. Bene te valere, frater, cupio.

1. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

I believe, Paul, that you have been informed of the talk which I had yesterday with my Lucilius about the apocrypha (or possibly the secret mysteries) and other things; for certain sharers in your teaching were with me. For we had retired to the gardens of Sallust, where, because of us, those whom I speak of, going in another direction, saw and joined us. Certainly we wished for your presence, and I would have you know it. We were much refreshed by the reading of your book, by which I mean some of the many letters which you have addressed to some city or capital of a province, and which inculcate the moral life with admirable precepts. These thoughts, I take it, are not uttered by you but through you, but surely sometimes both by you and through you: for such is the greatness of them and they are instinct (warm) with such nobility, that I think whole generations (ages) of men could hardly suffice for the instilling and perfecting of them. I desire your good health, brother.

 

II.

Annaeo Senecae Paulus salutem. Litteras tuas hilaris heri accepi, ad quas rescribere statim potui, si praesentiam iuvenis quem ad te eram missurus habuissem. Scis enim quando et per quem et quo tempore et cui quid dari committique debeat. Rogo ergo non putes neglectum, dum personae qualitatem respicio. Sed quod litteris meis vos bene acceptos alicubi scribis, felicem me arbitror tanti viri iudicio. Nec enim hoc diceres, censor sophista magister tanti principis etiam omnium, nisi quia vere dicis. Opto te diu bene valere.

2. PAUL TO SENECA, greeting.

I received your letter yesterday with delight, and should have been able to answer it at once, had I had by me the youth I meant to send to you. For you know when, and by whom, and at what moment, and to whom things ought to be given and entrusted. I beg, therefore, that you will not think yourself neglected, when I am respecting the dignity of your person. Now in that you somewhere write that you are pleased with my letter (or, write that you are pleased with part of my letter) I think myself happy in the good opinion of such a man: for you would not say it, you, a critic, a sophist, the teacher of a great prince, and indeed of all -unless you spoke truth. I trust you may long be in health.

 

III.

Seneca Paulo salutem. Quaedam volumina ordinavi et divisionibus suis statum eis dedi. Ea quoque Caesari legere sum destinatus. Si modo fors prospere annuerit, ut novas aures adferat, eris forsitan et tu praesens; sin, alias reddam tibi diem, ut hoc opus invicem inspiciamus. Et possem non prius edere ei eam scripturam, nisi prius tecum conferrem, si modo impune hoc fieri potuisset, hoc ut scires, non te praeteriri. Vale Paule carissime.

3. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

I have arranged some writings in a volume, and given them their proper divisions: I am also resolved to read them to Caesar, if only fortune be kind, that he may bring a new (an interested) ear to the hearing. Perhaps you, too, will be there. If not, I will at another time fix you a day, that we may look over the work together: indeed, I could not produce this writing to him, without first conferring with you, if only that could be done without risk: that you may know that you are not being neglected. Farewell, dearest Paul.

 

IV.

Annaeo Senecae Paulus salutem. Quotienscumque litteras tuas audio, praesentiam tui cogito nec aliud existimo quam omni tempore te nobiscum esse. Cum primum itaque venire coeperis, invicem nos et de proximo videbimus. Bene te valere opto.

4. PAUL TO ANNAEUS SENECA, greeting.

Whenever I hear your letters read, I think of you as present, and imagine nothing else but that you are always with us. As soon, then, as you begin to come, we shall see each other at close quarters. I desire your good health.

 

V.

Seneca Paulo salutem, Nimio tuo secessu angimur. Quid est? Quae te res remotum facient? Si indignatio dominae, quod a ritu et secta veteri recesseris et aliorsum converteris, erit postulandi locus, ut ratione factum non levitate hoc existimet. Bene vale.

5. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

We are much pained by your retirement. What is it? what causes keep you away? if it be the anger of the lady (Poppaea) because you have left the old rite and sect, and have converted others, there will be a possibility of pleading with her, that she may consider it as done on due reflection and not lightly.

 

VI.

Senecae et Lucilio Paulus salutem. De his quae mihi scripsistis non licet arundine et atramento eloqui, quarum altera res notat et designat aliquid, altera evidenter ostendit, praecipue cum sciam inter vos esse, hoc est apud vos et in vobis, qui me intellegant. Honor omnibus habendus est, tanto magis quanto indignandi occasionem captant. Quibus si patientiam demus, omni modo eos et quaqua parte vincemus, si modo hi sunt qui poenitentiam sui gerant. Bene valete.

6. PAUL TO SENECA AND LUCILIUS, greeting.

Of the subject on which you have written I must not speak with pen and ink, of which the former marks out and draws somewhat, and the latter shows it clearly, especially as I know that among you -that is, in your homes and in you- there are those who understand me. Honour is to be paid to all, and so much the more because men catch at opportunities of being offended. If we are patient with them, we shall certainly over-come them at every point, provided they be men who can be sorry for their actions. Farewell.

 

VII.

Annaeus Seneca Paulo et Theophilo salutem. Profiteor bene me acceptum lectione litterarum tuarum quas Galatis Corinthiis Achaeis misisti, et ita invicem vivamus, ut etiam cum horrore divino eas exhibes. Spiritus enim sanctus in te et super excelsos sublimi ore satis venerabiles sensus exprimit. Vellem itaque, cum res eximias proferas, ut maiestati earum cultus sermonis non desit. Et ne quid tibi, frater, subripiam aut conscientiae meae debeam, confiteor Augustum sensibus tuis motum. Cui perlecto virtutis in te exordio, ista vox fuit: mirari eum posse ut qui non legitime imbutus sit taliter sentiat. Cui ego respondi solere deos ore innocentium effari, haut eorum qui praevaricare doctrina sua quid possint. Et dato ei exemplo Vatieni hominis rusticuli, cui viri duo adparuerunt in agro Reatino, qui postea Castor et Pollux sunt nominati, satis instructus videtur. Valete.

7. ANNAEUS SENECA TO PAUL AND THEOPHILUS, greeting.

I profess myself well content with the reading of your letters which you sent to the Galatians, Corinthians, and Achaeans; and may we so live together as you show yourself to be inspired with the divine frenzy (horror). For it is the holy spirit which is in you and high above you which expresses these exalted and adorable thoughts. I would therefore have you careful of other points, that the polish of the style may not be wanting to the majesty of the thought. And, brother, not to conceal anything from you, and have it on my conscience, I confess to you that the Augustus was moved by your views. When I read to him the beginning of the power (virtue) that is in you (perhaps he meant your exordium about virtue) his words were these: that he could wonder that a man not regularly educated could think thus. I replied that the gods often speak by the mouths of the simple (innocent), not of those who try deceitfully to show what they can do by their learning. And when I cited him the example of Vatienus the rustic, to whom two men appeared in the territory of Reate, who afterwards were recognized as Castor and Pollux, he appeared fully convinced. Farewell.

 

VIII.

Senecae Paulus salutem. Licet non ignorem Caesarem nostrum rerum admirandarum, si quando deficiet, amatorem esse, permittit tamen se non laedi, sed admoneri. Puto enim te graviter fecisse, quod ei in notitiam perferre voluisti quod ritui et disciplinae eius sit contrarium. Cum enim ille gentium deos colat, quid tibi visum sit ut hoc scire eum velles non video, nisi nimio amore meo facere te hoc existimo. Rogo de futuro ne id agas. Cavendum est enim ne, dum me diligis, offensum dominae facias, cuius quidem offensa neque oberit, si perseveraverit, neque, si non sit, proderit; si est regina, non indignabitur, si mulier est, offendetur. Bene vale.

8. PAUL TO SENECA, greeting.

Though I am aware that Caesar, even if he sometimes lapses, is a lover of our wonders, you will suffer yourself to be, not wounded but admonished. For I think that you took a very serious step in bringing to his notice a matter alien to his religion and training. For since he is a worshipper of the gods of the nations, I do not see why you thought you would wish him to know this matter, unless I am to think that you did it out of excessive attachment to me. I beg you not to do so in future; For you must be careful not to offend the empress in your love for me: yet her anger will not hurt us if it lasts, nor do good if it does not [this is nonsense]. As a queen, she will not be angry: as a woman, she will be offended. Farewell.

 

IX.

Seneca Paulo salutem. Scio te non tam tui causa commotum litteris quas ad te de editione epistolarum mearum Caesari feci quam natura rerum, quae ita mentes hominum ab omnibus artibus et moribus rectis revocat, ut non hodie admirer, quippe ut is qui multis documentis hoc iam notissimum habeam. Igitur nove agamus, et si quid facile in praeteritum factum est, veniam inrogabis. Misi tibi librum de verborum copia. Vale Paule carissime.

9. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

I know that you are not so much disturbed on your own account by my letter to you on the showing of your letters to Caesar, as by the nature of things, which so calls away the minds of men from all right learning and conduct -so that I am not surprised, for I have learnt this for certain by many examples. Let us then act differently, and if in the past anything has been done carelessly, you will pardon it. I have sent you a book on elegance of expression (store of words). Farewell, dearest Paul.

 

X.

Senecae Paulus salutem. Quotienscumque tibi scribo et nomen meum subsecundo, gravem sectae meae et incongruentem rem facio. Debeo enim, ut saepe professus sum, cum omnibus omnia esse et id observare in tuam personam quod lex Romana honori senatus concessit, perlecta epistola ultimum locum eligere, ne cum aporia et dedecore cupiam efficere quod mei arbitrii fuerit. Vale devotissime magister. Data V Kal. Iul. Nerone III et Messala consulibus.

10. TO SENECA, PAUL, greeting.

Whenever I write to you and do not place my name after yours (see the heading) I do a serious thing and one unbefitting my persuasion (sect). For I ought, as I have often declared, to be all things to all men, and to observe in your person that which the Roman law has granted to the honour of the senate, and choose the last place in writing (text, reading) a letter, not striving to do as I please in a confused and disgraceful way. Farewell, most devoted of masters. Given on the 5th of the kalends of July; Nero the fourth time, and Messala, consuls (A. D. 58).

 

XI.

Seneca Paulo salutem. Ave mi Paule carissime. Si mihi nominique meo vir tantus et a Deo dilectus omnibus modis, non dico fueris iunctus, sed necessario mixtus, optime actum erit de Seneca tuo. Cum sis igitur vertex et altissimorum omnium montium cacumen, non ergo vis laeter, si ita sim tibi proximus ut alter similis tui deputer? Haut itaque te indignum prima facie epistolarum nominandum censeas, ne temptare me quam laudare videaris, quippe cum scias te civem esse Romanum. Nam qui meus tuus apud te locus, qui tuus velim ut meus. Vale mi Paule carissime. Data X Kal. Apr. Aproniano et Capitone consulibus.

11. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

Hail, my dearest Paul. If you, so great a man, so beloved in all ways, be -I say not joined- but intimately associated with me and my name, it will indeed be well with your Seneca. Since then, you are the summit and topmost peak of all people, would you not have me glad that I am so near you as to be counted a second self of yours ? Do not, then, think that you are unworthy to be named first on the heading of letters, lest you make me think you are testing me rather than playing with me -especially as you know yourself to be a Roman citizen. For the rank that is mine, I would it were yours, and yours I would were mine. Farewell, dearest Paul. Given on the 10th of the kalends of April; Apronianus and Capito consuls (59).

 

XII.

Seneca Paulo salutem. Ave mi Paule carissime. Putasne me haut contristari et non luctuosum esse quod de innocentia vestra subinde supplicium sumatur? Dehinc quod tam duros tamque obnoxios vos reatui omnis populus iudicet, putans a vobis effici quicquid in urbe contrarium fit? Sed feramus aequo animo et utamur foro quod sors concessit, donec invicta felicitas finem malis imponat. Tulit et priscorum aetas Macedonem, Philippi filium, Cyros Darium Dionysium, nostra quoque Gaium Caesarem, quibus quicquid libuit licuit. Incendium urbs Romana manifeste saepe unde patiatur constat. Sed si effari humilitas humana potuisset quid causae sit et impune in his tenebris loqui liceret, iam omnes omnia viderent. Christiani et Iudaei quasi machinatores incendii - pro! - supplicio adfecti, quod fieri solet. Grassator iste quisquis est, cui voluptas carnificina est et mendacium velamentum, tempori suo destinatus est, et ut optimus quisque unum pro multis datum est caput, ita et hic devotus pro omnibus igni cremabitur, Centum triginta duae domus, insulae quattuor milia sex diebus arsere; septimus pausam dedit. Bene te valere, frater, opto. Data V Kal. Apr. Frugi et Basso consulibus.

12. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

Hail, my dearest Paul. Think you that I am not in sadness and grief, that your innocent people are so often condemned to suffer? And next, that the whole people thinks you so callous and so prone to crime, that you are supposed to be the authors of every misfortune in the city? Yet let us bear it patiently and content ourselves with what fortune brings, until supreme happiness puts an end to our troubles. Former ages had to bear the Macedonian, Philip's son, and, after Darius, Dionysius, and our own times endured Gaius Caesar: to all of whom their will was law. The source of the many fires which Rome suffers plain. But if humble men could speak out what the reason is, and if it were possible to speak without risk in this dark time, all would be plain to all. Christians and Jews are commonly executed as contrivers of the fire. Whoever the criminal is whose pleasure is that of a butcher, and who veils himself with a lie, he is reserved for his due season: and as the best of men is sacrificed, the one for the many, so he, vowed to death for all, will be burned with fire. A hundred and thirty-two houses and four blocks have been burnt in six days, the seventh brought a pause. I pray you may be well, brother. Given the 5th of the kalends of April; Frugi and Bassus consuls (64).

 

XIII.

Seneca Paulo salutem. Allegorice et aenigmatice multa a te usquequaque opera colliduntur et ideo rerum tanta vis et muneris tibi tributa non ornamento verborum, sed cultu quodam decoranda est. Nec vereare, quod saepius dixisse retineo, multos qui talia adfectent sensus corrumpere, rerum virtutes evirare. Certum mihi velim concedas latinitati morem gerere, honestis vocibus et speciem adhibere, ut generosi muneris concessio digne a te possit expediri. Bene vale. Data pridie Non. Iul. Lurcone et Sabino consulibus.

13. SENECA TO PAUL, greeting.

Much in every part of your works is enclosed in allegory and enigma, and therefore the great force that is given you of matter and talent (?) should be beautified, I do not say with elegance of words, but with a certain care. Nor should you fear what I remember you have often said; that many who affect such things vitiate the thought and emasculate the strength of the matter. But I wish you would yield to me and humour the genius of Latin, and give beauty to your noble words, that the great gift that has been granted you may be worthily treated by you. Farewell. Given on the day before the nones of June; Leo and Sabinus consuls (non-existent).

 

XIV.

Paulus Senecae salutem, Perpendenti tibi ea sunt revelata quae paucis divinitas concessit Certus igitur ego in agro iam fertili semen fortissimum sero, non quidem materiam quae corrumpi videtur, sed verbum stabile Dei, derivamentum crescentis et manentis in aeternum, Quod prudentia tua adsecuta indeficiens fore debebit, ethnicorum Israhelitarumque observationes censere vitandas. Novum te auctorem feceris Christi Iesu, praeconiis ostendendo rethoricis inreprehensibilem sophiam, quam propemodum adeptus regi temporali eiusque domesticis atque fidis amicis insinuabis, quibus aspera et incapabilis erit persuasio cum plerique illorum minime flectuntur insinuationibus tuis, Quibus vitale commodum sermo Dei instillatus novum hominem sine corruptela perpetuum animal parit ad Deum istinc properantem. Vale Seneca carissime nobis. Data Kal. Aug. Lurcone et Sabino consulibus.

14. PAUL TO SENECA, greeting.

To your meditations have been revealed those things which the Godhead has granted to few. With confidence, therefore, I sow in a field already fertile a most prolific seed, not such matter as is liable to corruption, but the abiding word, an emanation from God who grows and abides for ever. This your wisdom has attained and you will see that it is unfailing -so as to judge that the laws of heathens and Israelites are to be shunned. You may become a new author, by showing forth with the graces of rhetoric the unblameable wisdom of Jesus Christ, which you, having well nigh attained it, will instil into the temporal monarch, his servants, and his intimate friends, yet the persuading of them will be a rough and difficult task, for many of them will hardly incline to your admonitions. Yet the word of God, if it be instilled into them, will be a vital gain, producing a new man, incorrupt, and an everlasting soul that shall hasten from hence to God. Farewell, Seneca, most dear to me. Given on the kalends of August; Leo and Sabinus consuls.