TeacherMrLoria's Reviews > The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters

The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca by Seneca
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Jul 19, 12

Read in April, 2008


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 you to tears. I understand trying to downplay negative emotions and not living your life as captive to them, but there is an element of the emotions that I think gives life more meaning and deserves more attention that the stoics give to it. Either way, it’s interesting, very cool quotes to extract and a bit inspiring.

Quotes:
How much of your life has been pilfered by others without your being aware of it, how much of it you have lost, how much was dispensed on groundless regret, foolish gladness, greedy desire, polite society – and then realize that your death will be premature….Are you not ashamed to reserve for yourself only the tail end of your life and to allot to serious thought only such time as cannot be applied to business? How late an hour to begin to live when you must depart from life! 51
It takes a great man, believe me, and one who rises high above human frailty, to allow none of his time to be frittered away; such a man’s life is very long because he devotes every available minute of it to himself. 55
Everything future is uncertain; live now! 58
Raise above the crowd…leave the ground, won’t you, and turn your mind to these things! 72
It is harder for men to obtain release from themselves than from the law. 73
Have faith in yourself and believe that you are traveling the right road and not being led astray by the zigzag tracks of hurrying wayfarers, many of whom go astray at the very roadside. 79
Subjoin those who are immutable not by excess of constancy but of indolence; they live not as they choose but as they have begun. The malady has countless symptoms but its effect is uniform – dissatisfaction with self. This arises from an imbalance of the mind. 80
The best course, as Athenodorus says, is to be employed in some active career, in political activity and civic functions…for when a man’s declared object is to make himself useful to his fellow citizens and to all mankind, he will exercise and improve his abilities by participating fully in demanding activities, serving both public and private interests as best he can…even in private life a large mind has ample scope for development. Man is not like lions and other creatures whose energies are restricted by being caged; man’s greatest achievements are carried out in private. 83
Whenever chance impediments or the political situation make our active career impossible, far the best course is to season your leisure with activity; for never can all pursuits be so blocked off that there is no room left for honorable action. 86
We must learn to strengthen self-restraint, curb luxury, temper ambition, moderate anger, view poverty calmly, cultivate frugality. 91
We are all chained to Fortune. Some chains are golden and loose, some tight and of base metal; but what difference does it make…All life is bondage. Man must therefore habituate himself to his condition, complain of it as little as possible, and grasp whatever good lies within his reach. No situation is so harsh that a dispassionate mind cannot find some consolation in it. 93
We ought to take the lighter view of things and cultivate tolerance; it is more civilized to laugh at life than to lament over it. 102
It is important to withdraw into one’s self…But the two ought to be combined and alternated, some solitude, some society. 104

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