Suave, mari magno turbantibus aequora ventis
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem
Lucretius says it’s sweet to watch another person’s toiling, whether on land or at sea. These opening lines may leave a bad taste in modern readers' mouths, both because they seem lazy in their disdain for hard labor (“magnum … laborem”), and because they seem callous, coming close as they do to expressing Schadenfreude.
But the poet will go on to complicate, if not to sweeten, these lines, linking his praise of spectatorship here—his taking pleasure in watching another’s toil—to the Epicurean definition of pleasure as the feeling of not-feeling pain.
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