Wealth is able to buy the pleasures of eating,
drinking and other sensual pursuits —
yet can never afford
a cheerful spirit or freedom from sorrow.
— Musonius Rufus
[From ‘On Furnishings’]: In general, one would rightly judge what is good and bad in furnishings by these three criteria: acquisition, use and preservation. Whatever is difficult to obtain or not convenient to use or not easy to protect is to be judged inferior, but what we acquire with no difficulty and use with satisfaction and find easy to keep is superior.
For this reason earthenware and iron and similar vessels are much better than those of silver or gold because their acquisition is less trouble since they are cheaper, their usefulness is greater since we can safely expose them to heat and fire (which cannot be done with others), and guarding them is less of a problem, for the inexpensive ones are less likely to be stolen than the expensive ones. No small part of preserving them too is keeping them clean, which is a more expensive matter with costly ones.
Just as a horse who is bought for a small price but is able to fulfill many needs is more desirable than one who does little although he was bought for a great price, so in the matter of furnishings, the cheaper and more serviceable are better than the more costly and less serviceable ones.
Why is it, then, that the rare and expensive pieces are sought after rather than those which are available and cheap? It is because the things which are really good and fine are not recognised, and in place of them those which only seem good are eagerly sought by the foolish. As madmen often think that black is white, so foolishness is next of kin to madness.
That One Should Disdain Hardships: The Teachings Of A Roman Stoic
Translated By Cora E. Lutz