Seneca, Lucius Annaeus, born at Corduba (Cordova) ca. 4 BCE, of a prominent and wealthy family, spent an ailing childhood and youth at Rome in an aunt's care. He became famous in rhetoric, philosophy, money-making, and imperial service. After some disgrace during Claudius' reign he became tutor and then, in 54 CE, advising minister to Nero, some of whose worst misdeeds he did not prevent. Involved (innocently?) in a conspiracy, he killed himself by order in 65. Wealthy, he preached indifference to wealth; evader of pain and death, he preached scorn of both; and there were other contrasts between practice and principle.
We have Seneca's philosophical or moral essays (ten of them traditionally called Dialogues)on providence, steadfastness, the happy life, anger, leisure, tranquility, the brevity of life, gift-giving, forgivenessand treatises on natural phenomena. Also extant are 124 epistles, in which he writes in a relaxed style about moral and ethical questions, relating them to personal experiences; a skit on the official deification of Claudius, Apocolocyntosis (in Loeb number 15); and nine rhetorical tragedies on ancient Greek themes. Many epistles and all his speeches are lost.
The 124 epistles are collected in Volumes IVVI of the Loeb Classical Library's ten-volume edition of Seneca.
Table of Contents
XCIII. On the Quality, as Contrasted with the Length, of Life
XCIV. On the Value of Advice
XCV. On the Usefulness of Basic Principles
XCVI. On Facing Hardships
XCVII. On the Degeneracy of the Age
XCVIII. On the Fickleness of Fortune
XCIV. On Consolation to the Bereaved
C. On the Writings of Fabianus
CI. On the Futility of Planning Ahead
CII. On the Intimations of Our Immortality
CIII. On the Dangers of Association with Our Fellow Men
CIV. On Care of Health and Peace of Mind
CV. On Facing the World with Confidence
CVI. On the Corporeality of Virtue
CVII. On the Obedience to the Universal Will
CVIII. On the Approaches to Philosophy
CIX. On the Fellowship of Wise Men
CX. On True and False Riches
CXI. On the Vanity of Mental Gymnastics
CXII. On Reforming Hardened Sinners
CXIII. On the Vitality of the Soul and Its Attributes
CXIV. On Style as a Mirror Of Character
CXV. On the Superficial Blessings
CXVI. On Self-Control
CXVII. On Real Ethics as Superior to Syllogistic Subtleties
CXVIII. On the Vanity of Place-Seeking
CXIX. On Nature as Our Best Provider
CXX. More about Virtue
CXXI. On Instinct in Animals
CXXII. On Darkness as a Veil for Wickedness
CXXIII. On the Conflict Between Pleasure and Virtue
CXXIV. On the True Good as Attained by Reason
Index of Proper Names
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
The first time I read this book I was amazed and excited, and entering middle age. Seneca's thoughts on the human condition seemed like they could have been written today. Except for some dated Roman references, here is a man trying to define how to live, in what we today would call "the secular society." The series of letters reads like a personal guidebook to ethics. It still speaks to us across the centuries. Seneca was priveleged, ego centric, and all too aware of the fleeting nature of life. He was also a tutor of Nero, a dramatist, philosopher, slave owner, etc. But his essay-like letters - by turns glib and medatative - reveal a man struggling to make sense of a world of power, wealth and abundance, oestensibly ruled by reason, suffused with uncertainty and enveloped in paganism. He was also no doubt polishing his image for future generations. Nonetheless, he talks of god and spirituality, and the early Christians were said to have valued his wisdom. I've read this two or three times. Each time I've given it away to a friend. Once you read it, you'll go back to it again and again. His maxims are famous. His commonsense advice still rings true.
I bought this book after countless recommendations from two blogs I frequent (Tim Ferris's 4HWW blog and The Art of Manliness). This book, along with stoicism in general is great for any entrepreneur, leader, or anyone who finds themselves oftentimes facing difficult decisions. The sections I personally got the most from had to do with developing unbiased thinking and self control. At the end of the day its never a bad thing to read a little philosophy and see how you can apply it to your life.
This was recommended by author Tim Ferris as a way to get started in studying stoicism. I took his advice and found these letters to be great.