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And of these ‘helpful pieces of teaching’ the letters are chock-full. Very applicable in our modern world; although, chances are we will not be banished to another country, many of us will one day be banished to a nursing home.
Seneca, as a ‘reformed sinner’, and a man of public office, has seen that the strict ideals of self-sufficiency and apathetic restraint will never be embraced by the common people. Philosophy is good advice; and no one can give advice at the top of his lungs. What I am saying is to take away what is good and take not what is not.
His thoughts on slaves and slavery were years of head of their time, maybe hundreds of years. But, whatever the case, Seneca was open to other philosophical influences besides just the Stoical, and Epicurus is a notable secondary, if not a primary, influence.
The annoying parts are Seneca’s old-people-opinions, some of which are: Epictetus, on the other hand, was born and raised a slave, legally born with absolutely no rights or property. He sat back and enjoyed the spoils of his student who had clearly lost his way–at least Aristotle didn’t profit from Alexander’s lust for power.
But of course he always claimed that wealth meant nothing to him—that he could readily give it up and still be as happy.
Seneca Carta a Lucilio CVII
Lucklio were also sections about suicide, dealing with servants and treating your inferiors equally, pleasure and its indubitable association with vices all of which were fascinating and very lucili to me. I don’t buy the criticism you see about Seneca not practicing what he preached. Seneca sets his views apart from mere knowledge-acquisition or philosophy for the sake of itself, by explicitly saying the end is about putting into practice decisions that make for a happy life.
Pliny first, because he is down-to-earth and describes rather than preaches he gives a splendid description, for example, of the Vesuvial destruction of Pompei. Along with his tragedies, treatises and longer dialogues, the philosopher Seneca wrote letters addressed to his friend Lucilius.
To be feared is to fear: He preached simple cartad and a rejection of luxury in his writings, but Seneca was one of the most powerful men in Rome and one of the wealthiest in the Western world during his lifetime. Natural desires are limited; those which spring from false opinions have nowhere to stop, for falsity has no point of termination.
And in fact, if we can trust the way in which Seneca faced his forced suicide there was not much difference between practice and philosophy.
Modern philosophy largely concerns itself with a variety of theoretical problems. Like Marcus Aurelius, a prominent statesman in troubled times, Seneca is very concerned with how to be happy in spite of circumstances.
Cartas a Lucilio by Seneca
You must rather become content with yourself, luculio pleasure in life whether fortune smiles or frowns: He does comment on Plato a bit, and at the end lhcilio this work, he even provides some discussion relating to physics and metaphysics. I also think that they epitomise the Stoic doctrine. These letters of Roman philosopher Seneca are a treasure chest for anybody wishing to incorporate philosophic wisdom into their day-to-day living. Seneca of course, is a fascinating figure.
They are more expansive than Marcus Aurelius’ Meditationsand cover a wider range of topics than Epictetus’ lectures. Inwardly everything should be different but our outward face should conform with the crowd. You are emulating your parents. You get some of that same thematic stuff as in Seneca’s letter about Rome’s decadence. Let our aim be a way of life not diametrically opposed to, but better than that of the mob. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.
You want to live—but do you know how to live? Produce something from your own resources. Often these letters come across as highly aphoristic.