That which is given with pride…

That which is given with pride and ostentation is rather an ambition than a bounty. – Seneca

"A small token of my appreciation..."

What does that mean?
This is a cautionary warning regarding the receiving of gifts. If they are given to you by someone who is prideful and it is given with great fanfare and flourish, you are most likely being “buttered up” (to put it kindly). A gift, when given in this manner, isn’t really a bounty (a gift to you), but a statement of ambition (a bribe or attempt to influence) by the giver.

Why is caution important?
Caution is one of those “guard rail” feelings. Caution differs from fear in that you aren’t afraid, but simply being prudent (sometimes overly so).

Caution helps keep us from doing things without thinking first. Caution is what keeps you relatively safe in an unfamiliar situation. If you had never done rock climbing, caution would keep you fairly close to the ground and in relatively easy terrain.

With experience, your caution point moves. When you have been climbing for a while, you start taking on more challenging routes. But caution will keep you from trying to free-climb El Capitan for a while longer.

Caution can be over done, but most of us are not too bad about it. If one has to err, erring on the side of caution is probably the best, wouldn’t you think?

Where can I apply this in my life?
Caution is probably already in your life, especially in new and unfamiliar situations. This saying urges you to use caution in an area you may already be fairly comfortable, the giving and receiving of gifts.

For family gatherings and exchanges, it’s probably not as likely a place for caution as work, but there are always exceptions. Caution might be warranted in blended families if the ex is giving lavish gifts to the kids. Explanations might be appropriate to the kids, and a discussion with the ex as well (good luck with that).

My guess is that this quote was more for the benefit of young aristocrats, new to power and easily swayed by lavish gifts and grand presentations of presents. Seneca was warning them of the hook that goes with the yummy worm or tasty looking fly (to use fishing as an analogy). The giver is looking to get something in exchange, so be careful about what you accept. You might not want to be owing a favor to some of the people who might give gifts.

This cautionary saying is just as prudent today as ever. In many industries, ‘gifts’ are heavily regulated. In the defense industries, any gift valued over $10 is to be declined. A coffee cup is often on the border. Tickets to a ball game are not permitted (you have to pay for them), even to AA ball games. In the medical field, there are limits on what a drug company representative can give (or even accidentally leave behind). In some cases, even pens aren’t allowed any more. An ounce of prevention here might be a little much, but it tends to keep the lawyers at bay.

Have you ever been in a situation where an inappropriate gift was presented to you? If not, you’re lucky. It’s never easy to decline a gift, but if you have made the decision that you *will* refuse overly lavish gifts, then it’s a little easier to say no. Take some time now to determine where you would draw the line, it just might save you some trouble down the line.

To me, that is the true test of wisdom. When it’s just as applicable today as two millennia ago, it has truly passed the test of time.

From: Twitter, @philo_quotes
confirmed at :
Photo by cliff1066™

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3 Responses to That which is given with pride…

  1. hermes bag uk 26 May 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Your article That which is given with pride… | philosiblog write very well, thank you share!

    • philosiblog 27 May 2013 at 1:11 am #

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad you liked the post.


  1. A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer. | philosiblog - 2 February 2013

    […] that mean? This is similar to other quotes that urge us to look beyond the gift, and consider the motive or motivation of the giver. Was the gift given to place you under a presumed obligation to the giver, that they might take […]

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