Seneca on books and wealth

Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote this in one of his letters to his friend Lucilius:

Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere.

The idea is to not be in perpetual locomotion and jump from one book or author to another…but to sit back, contemplate, and relate the facts you read to each other. But start reading if you haven’t already, and start now, or you would miss out on the huge compounding benefits of the same as years pass.

At the end of this very letter, Seneca also shared his thoughts on the limits of one’s wealth.

He says: “Contented poverty is an honorable estate.” Indeed, if it be contented, it is not poverty at all.

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

What does it matter how much a man has laid up in his safe, or in his warehouse, how large are his flocks and how fat his dividends, if he covets his neighbors property, and reckons, not his past gains, but his hopes of gains to come?

Do you ask what is the proper limit to wealth?

It is, first, to have what is necessary, and, second, to have what is enough.

Source: Letter 2: On Discursiveness in Reading

Following is the link to complete collection of letters from archive.org:

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