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“We cannot, I maintain, no matter how we try, pick out anything from so great a multitude of things equally good—‘Only the poor man counts his flock.’ Whenever you direct your gaze, you will meet with something that might stand out from the rest, if the context in which you read it were not equally notable. For this reason, give over hoping that you can skim, by means of epitomes, the wisdom of distinguished men. Look into their wisdom as a whole; study it as a whole. They are working out a plan and weaving it together, line upon line, a masterpiece, from which nothing can be taken away without injury to the whole. Examine the separate parts, if you like, provided you examine them as parts of the man himself. She is not a beautiful woman whose ankle or arm is praised, but she whose general appearance makes you forget to admire her single attributes.”

“On the Futility of Learning Maxims,” Epistle XXXIII, in Seneca in Ten Volumes (Freeman Press, 2008), reissue of classic texts, 235–237.
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