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Lucius Annaeus Seneca

They are addressed to Lucilius , the then procurator of Sicily , who is known only through Seneca's writings. Regardless of how Seneca and Lucilius actually corresponded, it is clear that Seneca crafted the letters with a broad readership in mind. The letters often begin with an observation on daily life, and then proceed to an issue or principle abstracted from that observation. The result is like a diary, or handbook of philosophical meditations. The letters focus on many traditional themes of Stoic philosophy such as the contempt of death, the stout-heartedness of the sage, and virtue as the supreme good.

The Letters were probably written in the last three years of Seneca's life. Scholars generally agree that the letters are arranged in the order in which Seneca wrote them. Letter 23 refers to a cold spring, presumably in The letters are arranged in twenty manuscript volumes, but the collection is not complete.

Collectively the letters constitute Seneca's longest work.

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These letters all start with the phrase " Seneca Lucilio suo salutem " "Seneca greets his Lucilius" and end with the word " Vale " "Farewell". In these letters, Seneca gives Lucilius advice on how to become a more devoted Stoic. Some of the letters include "On Noise" and "Asthma". Others include letters on "the influence of the masses" and "how to deal with one's slaves".


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Although they deal with Seneca's personal style of Stoic philosophy, they also give us valuable insights into daily life in ancient Rome. There is a general tendency throughout the letters to open proceedings with an observation of a specific and usually rather minor incident, which then digresses to a far wider exploration of an issue or principle that is abstracted from it.

Seneca's letters are focused on the inner-life, and the joy that comes from wisdom. Underlying a large number of the letters is a concern with death on the one hand a central topic of Stoic philosophy, and one embodied in Seneca's observation that we are "dying every day" and suicide on the other, a key consideration given Seneca's deteriorating political position and the common use of forced suicide as a method of elimination of figures deemed oppositional to the Emperor's power and rule.

Early letters often conclude with a maxim to meditate on, although this strategy is over by the thirtieth letter. The language and style of the letters is quite varied, and this reflects the fact that they are a mixture of private conversation and literary fiction. As an example, there is a mix of different vocabulary, incorporating technical terms in fields such as medicine, law and navigation as well as colloquial terms and philosophical ones.

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In addition there are neologisms and hapax legomena. Search Publications Pages Publications Pages. Advanced Search Help.

Moral letters to Lucilius

Print Bookmark Email Share. Saving Time 2 2. Discursiveness In Reading 6 3. True And False Friendship 8 4. The Terrors Of Death 12 5. Sharing Knowledge 24 7.


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  8. Crowds 28 8. Philosophy And Friendship 42 Living to Oneself 56 The Blush of Modesty 60 Old Age 64 Groundless Fears 72 Withdrawing from the World 84 Brawn and Brains 94 Philosophy, The Guide of Life Philosophy and Riches Festivals and Fasting Worldliness and Retirement Practising What You Preach The Futility of Half-Way Measures The Joy Which Comes from Philosophy Despising Death Reformation Old Age and Death The Good Which Abides Travel as a Cure for Discontent Conquering the Conqueror Siren Songs Progress The Futility of Learning Maxims A Promising Pupil The Friendship of Kindred Minds The Value of Retirement Allegiance to Virtue Quiet Conversation