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Roman Republic: Res publica Romana • View topic - [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

[ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

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[ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Fri Dec 15, 2017 1:32 am

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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:46 am

Salvete!

Since there has been no comment on Seneca's letter so far, I would like to add my thoughts to it.

Seneca's reminder to be conscious of what we do in the present and not to waste the time that we have is very similar to the Buddhist teaching of "mindfulness". The philosopher Alan Watts explained this concept quite nicely for Westerners. People always plan for future goals, and when they reach them, they have already new future goals. So the life passes without us ever being mindful of the present. And when we look back we are shocked that so much lifetime has already passed and we never actually did what we really wanted to do.
It is interesting that Eastern and Western philosophy have independently come up with similar ideas.

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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Lucius Livius Seneca » Sat Dec 23, 2017 11:49 pm

L. Livius v. c. G. Florio et omnibus philosophis sal.

I find this letter so very relevant for our current age. Digital television, streaming music, and the internet all provide us with unlimited access to any sort of frivolous entertainment we desire. This kind of perpetual and liberal stimulation can become dangerously addictive, and as a result, an immense waste of time. For myself, I know that far too often I come home from work, tired and looking for something relaxing to do before getting on with the evening, and end up watching an endless series of inane videos, or reading pages and pages worth of titillating Reddit posts until I suddenly realize that hours have passed. We now that the peddlers of such media are purposefully designing their platforms to encourage this sort of behaviour (e.g. "recommended for you" sidebars, automatic playlists, etc.) in order to maximize their advertising revenue, and so we the consumers must be particularly vigilant—as Seneca says in his letter—to not let others steal away our precious store of time.

To this end I've been purposefully trying to make all my activities, be they otium or negotium, more deliberate, engaged, or (as C. Florius puts it) mindful on my part.

Tempus fugit, memento mori!
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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Publius Sextius Laevus » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:58 am

Salvete

Like many I suppose, I can feel dragged through days by what has to be done at home and at work. The days fill themselves up with tasks to be done (and there are more that present themselves than can possible be done in a day). It is easy to spend the few free moments with idle internet wandering, 'educational' or otherwise, or less, when those moments seem too short or unexpected to put to advanage. To take advantage of these moments takes planning and forethought and setting limits. Having life goals that with planning can be fragmented into bitesize pieces (I carry my Collins Gem Latin Dictionary in my shirt pocket) allow us to turn these collected odd moments over time into a whole. Having a vision of those goals can be one force that allows you take back those moments.

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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Publius Sextius Laevus » Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:02 am

'Fiat Lux! Fiat Vita!'
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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:31 pm

Salve Laeve!

I actually use this translation too, whenever the Latin text gets too difficult or it touches a tedious subject that I am not that much interested in. Usually I try to read them in Latin.
Since I read either the Latin or the English text and do not compare them, I cannot tell how good or bad the translation is. But in the few occasions that I read both, I have to agree with you. I found the translation sometimes to miss the point of the text. But I assumed that this was because I read the Latin text more thoroughly and with all minor details while rushing through the English translation.

What surprised me is how often Seneca quoted from Epicurus almost always agreeing with him. But Seneca was probably not the typical Stoic considering his life style (see letter V).

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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Publius Sextius Laevus » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:28 am

Salve Lupe,

My Latin is not as advanced as yours. Although I have 'read ahead' quite a bit in the English, I am focusing on the Latin one letter at a time, rereading aloud if the surroundings permit, adding vocabulary etc. You are correct in your assessment, first two-thirds light weight with the last 'paying' the way of the rest.

My skype quot at work this past week is in fact from his fifth letter: "infirmi animi est pati non posse divitias.", "It is the sign of an unstable mind not to be able to endure riches." A bon mot to be sure which only serves to entice interest. (see Letter 33. On the futility of learning maxims)

Of the Latin Classic Stoic canon, what else is there aside from Cicero, Seneca and M. Aurelius?

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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Gaius Florius Lupus » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:19 pm

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Re: [ΣΤΟΑ] Discussion of Seneca's Letters

Postby Spurius Iuventius Catulus » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:20 pm

I'm in agreement with Lupus re: the comparison with mindfulness, though I think there's a distinction to be made in the sense that Stoic thinking is ultimately very attached to outcomes in a way that is different from what we find in Buddhist and other Eastern practices.

To me, Seneca seems to be advising not just being mindful in the moment, but being strategic: know your goals and priorities, reflect and revise them as necessary, focus on what you truly value, and do not use life as a waiting room.
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