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Finding Contentment through Understanding Mortality: Selections from the Works of Pierre Gassendi (vegetarian), Part 2 of 2

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“‘This life,’ said Seneca, is ‘but a point, how can we extend this point?’ ‘Know,’ said Lucretius, ‘That by the prolonging of our days we diminish nothing from the time and long continuance of death;’ and that he who dies today, shall not be dead a less time than he who died a thousand years ago. What though a thousand years prolong thy breath, How can this shorten the long state of death? For though thy life shall numerous ages fill, The state of death shall be eternal still; And he that dies today, shall be no more, As long as those who perished long before.

If Nature, said he again, should in anger speak to us in this manner? What cause has thou, O mortal to weep, and to complain of death? If thy former life had been easy and pleasant, and if thou had known how to make use of the good things and delights that I have afforded thee, why do thou not as a guest, depart when thou are full, and satisfied with life? and why do thou not accept, fond creature, of the agreeable repose that is offered thee? But if otherwise, thy life had been to thee a burden, and if thou had suffered my bounties to perish, why desire thou more to misspend them after the same manner? For I can give thee no new thing. And if thou should live thousands of years, thou will but still see the same things repeated over again.”

“Why do thou not then like a thankful guest, Rise cheerfully from life’s abundant feast, And with a quiet mind go take thy rest? But if all those delights are lost and gone, Spent idly all, and life a burden grown; Then why, fond mortal, do thou ask for more? Why still desire to increase thy wretched store? And wish for what must waste like those before?”

“At least we must acknowledge that a wise man who has lived long enough to consider the world, ought of his own accord to submit himself to the course of nature, when he perceives that his time is come, and cannot but suppose that his race is run, and that the circle that he has finished is complete; and if this circle is not to be compared to eternity, it is however with the continuance of the world.”

“From whence we may conclude, that a wise man ought not to fancy his life short; for by casting his eye upon the time past, and foreseeing the time to come, he may extend it to as great a length as the duration of the universe.”
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