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2010-05-18 09:27:48|  分类: 我的翻译 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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 When I consider my life, I am appalled to find it a shapeless mass. A hero's existence, such as is described to us, is simple;it goes straight to the mark, like an arrow. Most men like to reduce their  lives to a formula,whether in boast or lament, but almost always in recrimination;their memories obligingly construct for them a clear and comprehensible past. My life has contours less firm. As is commonly the case, it is what I have not been which defines me, perhaps, most aptly:a good soldier, but not a great warrior;a lover of art, but not the artist which Nero thought himself to be at his death;capable of crime, but not laden with it. I have come to think that great men are characterized precisely by the extreme position which they take, and that their heroism consists in holding to that extremity throughout their lives. They are our poles, or our antipodes. I have occupied each of the extremes in turn, but have not kept to any one of them;life has always drawn me away. And nevertheless neither can I boast, like some plowman or worthy carter, of a middle-of-the-road existence.



 From time to time, in an encounter or an omen, or in a particular series of happenings, I think that I recognize the working of fate, but too many paths lead nowhere at all, and too many sums add up to nothing.To be sure, I perceive in this diversity and disorder the presence of a person;but his form seems nearly always to be shaped by the pressure of circumstances;his features are blurred, like a face reflected in water. I am not of those who say that their actions bear no resemblance to them. Indeed, actions must do so, since they alone give my measure, and are the sole means of engraving me upon the memory of men, or even upon my own memory(and since perhaps the very possibility of continuing to express and modify oneself by action may constitute the real difference between the state of the living and of the dead).But there is between me and these acts which compose me an indefinable hiatus, and the proof of this separation is that I feel constantly the necessity of weighing and explaining what I do,and of giving account of it to myself.




It is not that I despise men. If I did I should have no right, and no reason, to try to govern. I know them to be vain, ignorant,greedy, and timorous, capable of almost anything for the sake of success, or for raising themselves in esteem(even in their own eyes), or simply for avoidance of suffering. I know, for I am like them, at least from time to time, or could have been. Between another and myself the differences which I can recognize are too slight to count for much in the final total; I try therefore to maintain a position as far removed from the cold superiority of the philosopher as from the arrogance of a ruling Caesar. The most benighted of men are not without some glimmerings of the divine: that murderer plays passing well upon the flute; this overseer flaying the backs of his slaves is perhaps a dutiful son; this simpleton would share with me his last crust of bread. And there are few who cannot be made to learn at least something reasonably well. Our great mistake is to try to exact from each person virtues which he does not possess, and to neglect the cultivation of those which he has. I might apply here to the search for these partial virtues what I was saying earlier, in sensuous terms, about the search for beauty. I have known men infinitely nobler and more perfect than myself, like your father Antoninus, and have come across many a hero, and even a few sages. In most men I have found little consistency in adhering to the good, but no steadier adherence to evil;their mistrust and indifference, usually more or less hostile, gave way almost too soon, almost in shame, changing too readily into gratitude and respect, which in trun were equally short-lived;even their selfishness could be bent to useful ends. I am always surprised that so few have hated me; I have had only one or two bitter enemies, for whom I was, as is always the case, in part responsible. Some few have loved me: they have given me far more than I had the right to demand, or to hope for: their deaths, and sometimes their lives. And the god whom they bear within them is often revealed when they die.


There is but one thing in which I feel superior to most men: I am freer, and at the same time more compliant, than they dare to be. Nearly all of them fail to recognize their due liberty, and likewise their true servitude. They curse their fetters, but seem sometimes to find them matter for pride. Yet they pass their days in vain license, and do not know how to fashion for themselves the lightest yoke. For my part I have sought liberty more than power, and power only because it can lead to freedom. What interested me was not a philosophy of the free man(all who try that have proved tiresome), but a technique: I hoped to discover the hinge where our will meets and moves with destiny, and where discipline strengthens, instead of restraining, our nature.......只是在一点上我自己觉得比大多数人要高:我整个儿比他们更加自由,更加顺从,而他们则肯定不敢如此。几乎所有的人都同样没有认识到自己正当的自由和真正的顺从。他们诅咒束缚他们的锁链,有时候,他们似乎又为有这种锁链而自豪。另一方面,他们放纵自己,虚度光阴。他们不会替自己编织最轻巧的枷锁。而我,我则追求自由甚于追求权力,而且我之所以追求权力,那仅只是因为权力部分地有利于自由。我感兴趣的不是自由人的一种哲学(所有企图这样做的人都让我讨厌),而是自由人的一种诀窍:我想找到把我们的意志与命运结合起来的连接点,在这个连接点上,纪律有助于本性的发展,而非阻碍它。........

Like everyone else I have at my disposal only three means of evaluating human existence: the study of self which is the most difficult and most dangerous method, but also the most fruitful; the observation of our fellowmen, who usually arrange to hide their secrets from us, or to make us believe that they have secrets where none exist; and books, with the particular errors of perspective to which they inevitably give rise. I have read nearly everything that our historians and poets have written, and even our story-tellers, although the latter are considered frivolous; and to such reading I owe perhaps more instruction than I have gathered in the somewhat varied of my own life. The written word has taught me to listen to the human voice, much as the great unchanging statues have taught me to appreciate bodily motions. On the other hand, but more slowly, life has thrown light for me on the meaning of books.


 But books lie, even those that are most sincere. The less adroit, for lack of words and phrases wherein they can enclose life, retain of it but a flat and feeble likeness. Some, like Lucan, make it heavy, and encumber it with a solemnity which it does not possess; others, on the contrary, like Petronius, make life lighter than it is, like a hollow, bouncing ball, easy to toss to and fro in a universe without weight. The poets transport us into a world which is vaster and more beautuful than our own, with more ardor and sweetness, different therefore, and in practice almost uninhabitable. The philosophers, in order to study reality pure, subject it to about the same transformations as fire or pestle make substance undego: nothing that we have known of a person or of a fact seems to subsist in those ashes or those those crystals to which they are reduced. Historians propose to us systems too perfect for explaining the past, with sequence of cause and effect much too exact and clear to have been ever entirel true; they rearrange what is dead, unresisting material, and I know that even Plutarch will never recapture Alexande. The story-tellers and spinners of erotic tales are hardly more than butchers who hang up for sale morsels of meat attractive to flies. I should take little comfort in a world without books, but reality is not to be found in them because it is not there whole.然而书本也说谎,即使最真挚的那些也不例外。不够机敏的,其言辞匮乏不足以囊括人生,因此把人生弄成一幅平板苍白的样子。有些人,比如吕根,赋予人生一种它本不具有的庄严,使人生变得沉重滞塞;另一些,比如佩特罗尼乌斯,把人生弄得轻巧如空心球,在一个失重的世界里轻易地翻来滚去。诗人把我们幻化至一个更辽阔更美丽的世界,有更炽热的激情与更多醉人的甜蜜,那世界与我们所拥有的世界不同,因此实际上也几乎不适合我们居住。哲学家们,为了研究纯粹事实,把事实淬火锤炼,经此一番,在他们精炼出的粉末或结晶中,我们已知的事物已全然认不出来,我们只会发现自己对人事原来一无所知。历史学家用整套的体系完美地解释过去,其前因后果如此清晰,如此精确,以至于那不可能全是真的;他们重新编排整理那些死去的,毫无意志的材料,而据我所知,甚至普卢塔克都会不愿想起亚历山大。至于小说作者和胡编乱造色情故事的人,其所作所为和屠夫相差无几,他们挂卖的只是一块块吸引苍蝇的肉。假如没有书籍,我能获得的安慰将少得可怜,但事实不会在书本中被找到,因为事实并不整个地寄寓其中。

But it was still to the liberty of submission, the most difficult of all, that I applied myself most strenuously.I determined to make the best of whatever situation I was in;during my years of dependence my subjection lost its portion of bitterness, and even ignominy, if I learned to accept it as a useful exercise. Whatever I had I chose to have, obliging myself only to possess it totally, and to taste the experience to the full.Thus the most dreary tasks were accomplished with ease as long as I was willing to give myself to them.Whenever an object repelled me, I made it a subject of study, ingeniously compelling myself to extract from it a motive for enjoyment. If faced with something unforeseen or near cause for despair, like an ambush or a storm at sea, after all measures for the safety of others had been taken, I strove to welcome this hazard, to rejoice in whatever it brought me of the new and unexpected, and thus without shock the ambush or the tempest was incorporated into my plans, or my thoughts. Even in the throes of my worst disaster, I have seen a moment when sheer exhaustion reduced some part of the horror of the experience,and when I made the defeat a thing of my own in being willing to accept it. If ever I am to undergo torture(and illness will doubtless see to that) I cannot be sure of maintaining the impassiveness of a Thrasea, but I shall at least have the resource of resigning myself to my cries. And it is in such a way, with a mixture of reserve and of daring,of submission and revolt carefully concerted, of extreme demand and prudent concession, that I have finally learned to accept myself.然而,我最孜孜不倦致力以求的是一切自由中最困难的一种----自由地去顺从。我决心无论身处怎样的境地,我都要尽力而为;在我不能自主的岁月里,如果我学着把受支配当作一种有用的锻炼,那么它便会不那么苦涩,甚至也不那么屈辱了。我随遇而安,只迫使自己去掌握遇到的一切,去品尝其全部的滋味。这样一来,只要我选择去做,最沉闷乏味的任务也可以比较容易地完成。不管什么时候,当一件事情使我反感,我便把它变成一个研究的目标,迫使自己创造性地从中找出某种快乐的由头。如果面对无法预料的事情或者某种几近绝望的情形,比如伏击或者海上的风暴,在为别人做好一切安全措施后,我便一心一意去欢迎这种冒险,为它带来的新奇和意外而感到欣喜。这样,伏击或者暴风雨便纳入我的思考和安排,而不会令我震惊。甚至在我挣扎于最致命的不幸中时,我也看到有那么一刻,筋疲力尽使得体验到的恐怖被减轻;看到有那么一刻,我心甘情愿想接受失败。如果我将遭受折磨(疾病的折磨看来是无疑的了),我不能保证我会维持像拉塞亚斯那样的镇定,但我至少有办法顺应自己的哭泣。就这样,混合了审慎与大胆,结合极端的要求和明智的让步,小心地协调顺从与反抗,最终,我学会接受自己。


 Peace was my aim,but not at all my idol;even to call it my ideal would displease me as too remote from reality.I had considered going so far in my refusal of conquests as to abandon Dacia, and would have done so had it been prudent to break openly with the policy of my predecessor;but it was better to utilize as wisely as possible those gains acquired before my accession and already recorded by history.The admirable Julius Bassus, first governor of that newly organized province, had died in his labors there, as I my self had almost succumbed in my year on the Sarmatian frontiers, exhausted by the thankless task of endless pacification in a country which had supposedly been subdued. I ordered a funeral triumph for him in Rome, an honor reserved ordinarily only for emperors; this homage to a good servitor sacrificed in obscurity was my last, and indirect, protest against the policy of conquest; nor had I need to denounce it publicly from the time that I was empowered to cut it short.



Attianus had been right in his conjectures: the virgin gold of respect would be too soft without some alloy of fear. The murder of four men of consular rank was received as was the story of the forged will:the honest and pure of heart refused to believe that I was implicated;the cynics supposed the worst, but admired me only the more. As soon as it was known that my resentment had suddenly come to an end Rome grew calm;each person's joy in his own security caused the dead to be promptly forgotten. My clemency was matter for astonishment because it was deemed deliberate and voluntary, chosen each morning in preference to a violence which would have been equally natural to me;my simplicity was praised because it was thought that calculation figured therein. Trajan had had most of the virtues of the average man, but my qualities were more unexpected;one step further and they would have been regarded as a refinement of vice itself. I was the same man as before, but what had previously been despised now passed for sublime:my extreme courtesy, considered by the unsubtle a form of weakness, or even of cowardice,seemed now the smooth and polished sheath of force. They extolled my patience with petitioners, my frequent visits to the sick in the military hospitals, and my friendly familiarity with the discharged veterans. Nothing in all that differed from the manner in which I had treated my servants and tenant farmers my whole life long. Each of us has more virtues than he is credited with, but success aline brings them to view, perhaps because then we may be expected to cease practicing them. Human beings betray their worst failings when they marvel to find that a world ruler is neither foolishly indolent, presumptuous, nor cruel.



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