Envy and Oswald 4.6.729
Envy steers a course of its own. King Aeolus, for example, takes pity on poor Odysseus and equips that great tactician with a bag full of the world’s winds. This gift is sufficient to sail Odysseus home over the wine-dark sea but even the power of kings is wanting in comparison to the reign of envy in the minds of men. No sooner does Odysseus disembark for home than his thoughtless crew rips open King Aeolus’s bag in hopes of sharing gifts of gold. They find instead a trove of gales that blows them irreparably off course.
These same jaundiced winds push Petya towards his untimely demise today. Petya, however, does not seek gold. He seeks glory. Envious of renown, his mind a clattery of senseless ambition, he disregards Denisov’s orders to stay put and charges directly into the thick of battle where he finds not the enduring glory of heroism but the terminal weep of death.
Nothing is certain, least of all in war, but perhaps Petya’s fate would have been different had he placed his priorities in something more enduring than the envious chasing after transient fame. He could have pacified his mind with the calm currents of virtue rather than rattled it with the vicious torrents of envy. Virtue could have guided him home. Instead he followed a disturbed and invidious lust to a bloodstained and mud-splattered end.
Virtue alone is lofty and sublime, and nothing is great that is not at the same time tranquil.
Seneca, On Anger I