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Salvete Amicī (Greetings friends),

It is Latin Tuesday, and Publius Syrus has wandered into our halls to speak on avarice:

“Pecūnia avārum irrītat, nōn satiat.”
Money exasperates the avaricious, not satiate him/her.
El dinero exaspera al avaricioso, en vez de saciarlo.

Hui (Ah)! What an interesting concept. To Syrus, no amount of money (which derives from the Latin word for ‘cow,’ showing Rome’s agrarian beginnings – many cows, much money) can really make a man or woman feel satisfied when the motivation is avarice.

Romans thought of ambition and avarice as good as long as they did not become the reason for your existence. For example, to be avaricious and ambitious in order to reach a position of power was ok, because the aim was not to be of such qualities, but to reach higher office in order to serve others. When one was avaricious for the sake of avarice alone, then one was suffering from ‘superstition’ (overreaching). In other words, you can seek to have money in order to better help others, suggests Syrus, for when you start helping others, you will no longer need to become richer. But if you seek money for the sole purpose of having more money, hui! You have overreached, and you will never feel satiated, no matter how much pecūniae you have.

The thought permeated religion quite thoroughly, for you can always hear that one should “seek first the kingdom of God.” The idea being that if your version of God is your aim (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc), you will become rich for the purpose of servicing said deity, and not with the idea to enrich yourself just for the sake of it.