Letters from a Stoic - Deepstash

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SENECA

Nothing […] is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.

SENECA

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1.01K reads

SENECA

You ask: what is the proper limit to a person’s wealth?

First, having what is essential, and second, having what is enough.

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68

900 reads

SENECA

Certainly you should discuss everything with a friend; but before you do so, discuss in your mind the man himself.

After friendship is formed you must trust, but before that you must judge.

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61

770 reads

SENECA

[P]eople who never relax and people who are invariably in a relaxed state merit your disapproval - the former as much as the latter. For a delight in bustling about is not industry - it is only the restless energy of a hunted mind. And the state of mind that looks on all activity as tiresome is not true repose, but a spineless inertia.

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60

601 reads

SENECA

Let our aim be a way of life not diametrically opposed to, but better than that of the mob. Otherwise we shall repel and alienate the very people whose reform we desire; we shall make them, moreover, reluctant to imitate us in anything, for fear they may have to imitate us in everything.

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450 reads

SENECA

Philosophy calls for simple living, not for doing penance, and the simple way of life need not be a crude one […] One’s life should be a compromise between the ideal and the popular morality.

People should admire our way of life but they should at the same time find it understandable.

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57

388 reads

SENECA

Cease to hope, and you will cease to fear […] Fear keeps pace with hope […] both belong to a mind in suspense, to a mind in a state of anxiety through looking into the future. Both are mainly due to projecting our thoughts far ahead of us instead of adapting ourselves to the present.

Wild animals run from the dangers they actually see, and once they have escaped them they worry no more.

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285 reads

SENECA

You ask me to say what you should consider particularly important to avoid. My answer is this: a mass crowd […] When a mind is impressionable and has none too firm a hold on what is right, it must be rescued from the crowd: it is so easy for it to go over to the majority.

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228 reads

SENECA

A single example of extravagance or greed does a lot of harm […] what then do you imagine the effect on a person’s character is when the assault comes from the world at large? You must inevitably either hate or imitate the world. But the right thing is to shun both courses: you should neither become like the bad because they are many, nor be an enemy of the many because they are unlike you.

Retire into yourself as much as you can. Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those whom you are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one: men learn as they teach.

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Cling […] to this sound and wholesome plan of life: indulge the body just so far as suffices for good health. It needs to be treated somewhat strictly to prevent it from being disobedient to the spirit […] Reflect that nothing merits admiration except the spirit, the impressiveness of which prevents it from being impressed by anything.

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178 reads

SENECA

We are bound to involve ourselves in ambiguity if we try to express in a single word the meaning of the Greek term “apatheia” by transferring it straight into our word “impatientia”. For it may be understood in the opposite sense to the one we wish, with people taking it to signify the man who is unable to endure anything that goes badly for him, instead of what we mean by it, the man who refuses to allow anything that goes badly for him to affect him.

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163 reads

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The ending inevitably matches the beginning: a person who starts being friends with you because it pays him will similarly cease to be friends because it pays him to do so.

If there is anything in a particular friendship that attracts a man other than the friendship itself, the attraction of some reward or other will counterbalance that of the friendship.

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60 reads

SENECA

The wise man, Chrysippus said, lacks nothing but needs a great number of things, whereas the fool, on the other hand, needs nothing (for he does not know how to use anything) but lacks everything.

The wise man needs hands and eyes and a great number of things that are required for the purposes of day-to-day life; but he lacks nothing, for lacking something implies that it is a necessity and nothing, to the wise man, is a necessity.

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52 reads

SENECA

One’s physical make-up and the attributes that were one’s lot at birth remain settled no matter how much or how long the personality may strive after perfect adjustment. One cannot ban these things any more than one can call them up.

The tokens used to portray embarrassment by professional actors […] are a hanging of the head, a dropping of the voice, a casting down of the eyes […]; a blush is something they can never manage to reproduce; it is something that will neither be summoned up not be told to stay away.

[These things] are quite independent; they come unbidden, they go unbidden.

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41 reads

SENECA

Epicurus said ‘We need to set our affections on some good man and keep him constantly before our eyes, so that we may live as if he were watching us and do everything as if he saw what we were doing’.

So choose someone whose way of life as well as words […] have won your approval. Be always pointing him out to yourself either as your guardian or as your model. There is a need, in my view, for someone as a standard against which our characters can measure themselves.

Without a ruler to do it against [we] won’t make the crooked straight.

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52 reads

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CURATOR'S NOTE

Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium

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