Seneca to Lucilius: old age and death

The 26th letter written by Seneca to his friend Lucilius begins in this fashion: “I give thanks to myself, in your presence, that I do not sense any impairment in my mind, even though I do in my body. Only my faults have grown old, and those parts of me that pay service to my […]

Seneca to Lucilius: the effective teaching of virtue

Is it possible to teach virtue? Opinions differed among the Greco-Roman philosophers, as I have discussed in an earlier post. The Stoics, of course, answered in the positive, but they were not blind to the difficulties inherent in the task, as is clear from letter XXV from Seneca to Lucilius, which in the wonderful Chicago […]

Seneca to Lucilius: on festivals and fasting

As part of my running commentary on Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius, a very extensive collection of Stoic philosophical precepts, let me say a few words on Letter XVIII, about festivals and fasting, as it deals with the recurring issue — very much relevant still today — of how to comport ourselves on special occasions in […]

Seneca to Lucilius: on groundless fears

The 13th letter to Lucilius, in the translation by Richard Mott Gummere published in the Delphi Classics edition of Seneca’s Complete Works, concerns the sort of things of which people are afraid without cause. Seneca begins by arguing that we have to experience certain things in order to build our character and develop resistance against […]