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Book Review & Discussion : Letters from a Stoic

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Letters from a Stoic

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In this event, you’ll learn

How philosophy helps us live in accordance with nature

What kind of books you should read

Why living well is similar to your dreams

How you can prepare for the worst

What you can learn about death from Pacuvius’s lavish parties

About the Author

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.4BC-AD65) was born in Cordoba, Spain, where he was brought up studying the traditional virtues of republican Roman life. He became a teacher of rhetoric but attracted attention for his incisive style of writing. Closely linked to Nero, his death was ordered by the emperor in AD65. Seneca committed suicide.

Overview

Seneca was a prominent Roman philosopher and playwright who published several essential works about Stoicism. He is considered one of the three key Stoic philosophers (alongside Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus), counseled Emperor Nero, and is often credited with rendering Stoicism more accessible to a larger audience than his counterparts. You can read a longer profile about Seneca here.

In basic terms, Stoicism teaches us that if we have the essentials and a strong inner spirit, we can radically accept and endure whatever circumstances the universe throws at us. Letters from a Stoic, which Seneca wrote toward the end of his life from approximately 63 AD to 65 AD, expands upon these lessons.

Letters from a Stoic is presumably a collection of 124 letters Seneca sent to his friend Lucilius – then the procurator of Sicily (essentially an official in Ancient Rome) — advising him on how to become a better Stoic.

“Presumably” because many scholars have hypothesized that Seneca’s letters were “essays in disguise” – there is no evidence of Lucilius writing back to Seneca, and the letters’ style suggests that they were meant to be published rather than read by a friend. The first recorded full translation of these letters to English was by Thomas Lodge in 1614, and they have been translated many times since.

Letters from a Stoic contains a selection of these letters and key lessons about Stoicism, such as making the most with what we have in the time we have. We have broken down the central lessons from the book below.

TAKEAWAYS:

Find wisdom by living in harmony with nature

To achieve true happiness, seek truth in philosophy

Studying philosophy must be more than just a surface exercise

Feed your mind to feed your soul

Devote your mind to seeking truth instead of temptation and vices

Face your fears and prepare for them

Create and sustain valuable friendships to live a fulfilling life

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