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To the General Zeno.
To be smitten by human ills is the common lot of all men; to endure them bravely and rise superior to their attack is no longer common. The former is of human nature; the latter depends upon resolution. It is on this account that we wonder how the philosophers resolved on the noblest course of life and conquered their calamities by wisdom. And philosophy is produced by our reason's power, which rules our passions and is not led to and fro by them. Now one of human ills is grief, and it is this which we exhort your excellency to overcome, and it will not be difficult for you to rise victorious over this feeling, if you consider human nature, and take to heart the uselessness of sorrow. For what gain will it be to the departed that we should wail and lament? When, however, we reflect upon the common birth, the long years of intercourse, the splendid service in the field, and the far-famed achievements, let us reflect that he who was adorned by them was a man subject to the law of death; that moreover all things are ordained by God, who guides the affairs of men in accordance with His sacred knowledge of what will be for their good. Thus have I written so far as the limits of a letter would allow me, beseeching your eminence for all our sakes to preserve your health, which is wont to be maintained by cheerfulness and ruined by despondency. Wherefore in my care for the advantage of us all I have penned this letter.
Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2707065.htm>.
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