What Did Seneca Know About Babies?

Not much, to judge by E. M. 22.15, where Natura addresses those dying old:

‘Sine cupiditatibus uos genui, sine timoribus, sine superstitione, sine perfidia ceterisque pestibus; quales intrastis exite.’

“I engendered you without desires, without fears, without superstition, without treachery and the other curses; go out as you were when you came in.”

Very eloquent, but since when are babies born sine cupiditatibus? They have very little else in mind except a few basic desires: to be fed, held, kept clean and warm, and allowed to sleep, all with very little notice and the expectation of immediate obedience. What was Seneca thinking when he wrote this?

I’ve been leafing through the Epistulae Morales, rereading the two dozen or so I’ve read before and dipping into others. Time to read them through? Perhaps not: there are an awful lot of them.

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