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The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  344 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
In The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, representative selections from Seneca's writings offer the reader an excellent introduction to the range of his work.


The selections are drawn from the essays, or dialogues, and the "Consolations;" from the treatises, of which "On Clemency," addressed to the young Nero, is included here; and from the Letters to Lucilius, which have to do n
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Paperback, 261 pages
Published September 17th 1968 by W.W. Norton & Company
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JS Found
Mar 15, 2013 JS Found rated it it was amazing
I was going to just list the quotes from this book, but I have thirteen three by five pages of notes which are really all the lines of wisdom from all the essays and letters in this book. They are valuable. They say that life is not judged by externals--by what you have or don't have, by what you do or don't do, by what happens to you or what doesn't happen to, by fortune or fate--but by you yourself and your clear, free mind--a mind that practices the high and sole and perfect good of reason, a ...more
Michael
Dec 30, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Couldn't read much of this one after learning from the introduction what a vast disparity existed between Seneca's words and his deeds. His "philosophy" seems to me nothing more than a fraud, given how oppositely he lived his life. Of what I did read, the letter "On The Shortness of Life" was the most striking. Seneca spoke of how much of our limited time alive we fritter away in worthless pursuits, as though we had an infinite amount to our lifespans; and especially how much of our time we allo ...more
Missy
May 24, 2007 Missy rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics
One of my favorite reads from Hum. 110. I picked up a copy of it last time I was at Powell's, as my freshman year copy has gone AWOL; can't wait to read it again.
Vanessa
Jan 02, 2015 Vanessa rated it really liked it
A highly readable collection of Seneca's thoughts on subjects ranging from slavery (treat your slaves like human beings, treat them as you would like to be treated) to balding vanity (Seneca describes his impatience with men who combed hair from one side of the head to the other to hide their balding pates). Who knew that the "comb-over" had such a long history?
SJ Loria
Jul 19, 2012 SJ Loria rated it liked it

It’s refreshing to read the Stoics. Their perspective on life is interesting and in many ways admirable. Don’t complain, appreciate what you have, build your character through study yet also through friendship, choose a good career, serve. It’s inspiring and I can see how some existentialists borrowed elements from this philosophy. However, it’s a bit reactionary this lifestyle and it neglects the emotions. If you have achieved the perfect stoic mindset, the death of a loved one wouldn’t move y
...more
Bob Wilson
Feb 05, 2013 Bob Wilson rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites. Along with Marcus Aurelius "Meditations" and Epictetus' "The Enchiridion" they are worth looking into and read at least once. I can pick up any one of these three books and dip in anywhere and damn if the Stoics didn't know what they were talking about. They were an influence on early Christianity of all things. (See Everett Ferguson's "Backgrounds of Early Christianity" --not 100% read yet, but it looks interesting. Also highly recommended for a terrific explanatio ...more
Scott
Sep 01, 2014 Scott rated it liked it
As an interested reader of Stoicism, Seneca should be one of the "required authors" right up there with Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. The three have very different writing styles, even in translation. It is clear that Aurelius wrote "Meditations" in stolen moments on his military campaigns, when he could muster some time for reflection beyond dealing with the cares of his empire. Epictetus writes with a distance and remove, as if he talks about a worldly situation which he can observe entirely ...more
Heather
Jun 20, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Regardless of the bleak rigor that Stoic philosophy itself often embraces, Seneca's essays and letters are engaging and thought-provoking. His training in rhetoric is evident, and he is a master of pithy, quotable lines. Historical context makes essays such as "On Clemency"--written from Seneca the tutor and adviser to an 18-year-old Nero--even more interesting. Moses Hadas has made wise selections and offers very readable translations.
Nika
Apr 10, 2016 Nika rated it really liked it
"A victory devoid of danger is a victory devoid of glory."

For virtue is not nature's gift; to become good is an art.
Letter 90: Philosophy and Progress
- Seneca
Ryan
Jul 31, 2014 Ryan rated it it was ok
Almost uniformly repetitive, formulaic, and dull -- a hard and tiresome slog. Never approaches the concision, directness, or power found in Epictetus or Marcus Aurelius; read them instead. If you're recommending stoic philosophy to a friend, keep this book as far from him as possible.
Yuriy
Jun 19, 2014 Yuriy rated it really liked it
It's a good collection of Seneca's writing with a good introduction. "On Clemency", though it may be interesting historically, could be skipped because it is fairly repetitive and not as relevant as the Letters.
Shawn
May 23, 2011 Shawn rated it it was ok
I've read some stoic philosophy in the past that I really enjoyed. This not so much though.
Each chapter of the book covered a different philosophical area. But he went off on too many tangents and seemed to get off topic quite easily.
Gilbert Wesley Purdy
Jun 14, 2016 Gilbert Wesley Purdy rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature-latin
I've actually read most of this in other Seneca volumes and use it to compare notes and translations. Mosesx Hadas is an excellent translator and Norton an even better publisher.
Rob Mclean
Dec 18, 2015 Rob Mclean rated it it was amazing
Philosophy is often out of the reach of the common reader, it's too complex and convoluted. But Seneca brings the highest philosophic precepts down to where they are accessible to the common man. A must read.
treus
May 11, 2016 treus rated it really liked it
An excellent place to start for those interested in the stoics. Seneca's ethics seem more virile than Aurelius'.
Nathan Modlin
Aug 07, 2016 Nathan Modlin rated it really liked it
Read: On Providence, On Tranquility of Mind, Letter 47: Slaves, and Letter 70: Suicide.
Olivia
Aug 22, 2007 Olivia rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: the suicidal.
Shelves: read-for-class
This *will* drive you over the edge.
Zach
Apr 06, 2013 Zach rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely incredible.
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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca) (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was later forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he may ...more
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“It is the power of the mind to be unconquerable.” 264 likes
“For what prevents us from saying that the happy life is to have a mind that is free, lofty, fearless and steadfast - a mind that is placed beyond the reach of fear, beyond the reach of desire, that counts virtue the only good, baseness the only evil, and all else but a worthless mass of things, which come and go without increasing or diminishing the highest good, and neither subtract any part from the happy life nor add any part to it?
A man thus grounded must, whether he wills or not, necessarily be attended by constant cheerfulness and a joy that is deep and issues from deep within, since he finds delight in his own resources, and desires no joys greater than his inner joys.”
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