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Fifty Letters of a Roman Stoic

Lucius Annaeus Seneca Margaret Graver A a Long Margaret Graver



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Chicago University Press
03 December 2021
A selection of Seneca’s most significant letters that illuminate his philosophical and personal life.


In the year 62, citing health issues, the Roman philosopher Seneca withdrew from public service and devoted his time to writing. His letters from this period offer a window into his experience as a landowner, a traveler through Roman Italy, and a man coping with the onset of old age. They describe the roar of the arena, the festival of Saturnalia, and the perils of the Adriatic Sea, and they explain his thoughts about political power, the treatment of slaves, the origins of civilization, and the key points of Stoic philosophy.


This selection of fifty of his letters brings Seneca to readers in a fresh modern voice and shows how, as a philosopher, he speaks to our time. Above all, these letters explore the inner life of the individual: from the life of heedless vanity to the first interest in philosophy, to true friendship, self-determination, and personal excellence.

Introduction by:   ,
Translated by:   ,
Imprint:   Chicago University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 216mm,  Width: 140mm, 
ISBN:   9780226782935
ISBN 10:   022678293X
Pages:   320
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface Introduction Margaret Graver and A. A. Long Fifty Letters 1 Taking charge of your time 2 A beneficial reading program 3 Trusting one’s friends 6 Intimacy within friendship 7 Avoiding the crowd 8 Writing as a form of service 9 Friendship and self-sufficiency 11 Blushing 12 Visiting a childhood home 14 Safety in a dangerous world 15 Exercises for the body and the voice 16 Daily study and practice 18 The Saturnalia festival 20 Consistency 21 How reading can make you famous 23 Real joy is a serious matter 30 An Epicurean on his deathbed 31 Our mind’s godlike potential 33 The use of philosophical maxims 38 Fewer words achieve more 40 Oratory and the philosopher 41 God dwells within us 46 A book by Lucilius 47 The evils of slavery 49 Remembering old times 53 A bad experience at sea 54 A near-fatal asthma attack 56 Noisy lodgings above a bathhouse 57 A dark tunnel 58 A conversation about Plato 63 Consolation for the death of a friend 65 Some analyses of causation 70 Ending one’s own life 75 What it means to make progress 76 Only the honorable is good 79 A trip around Sicily brings thoughts of glory 83 Heavy drinking 84 The writer’s craft 86 The rustic villa of Scipio Africanus 90 The beginnings of civilization 91 A terrible fire at Lyon 97 A trial in the time of Cicero 104 Why travel cannot set you free 108 Vegetarianism and the use of literature 112 A difficult pupil 113 Is a virtue an animate creature? 116 The Stoic view of emotion 121 Self-awareness in animate creatures 123 Resisting external influences 124 The criterion for the human good Notes Textual Notes Bibliography Index

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4BCE-65CE) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, dramatist, and advisor to Emperor Nero. Margaret Graver is the Aaron Lawrence Professor in Classics at Dartmouth College. Her publications include Cicero on the Emotions: Tusculan Disputations 3 and 4; Stoicism and Emotion; and, in collaboration with A.A. Long, a complete translation of Seneca's Letters on Ethics. A.A. Long is chancellor's professor of classics emeritus and affiliated professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Greek Models of Mind and Self and Epictetus: How to be Free.

Reviews for Seneca: Fifty Letters of a Roman Stoic

The letters' intimate voice, their accessibility, and their focus on everyday challenges make the letters relevant for readers of all ages and academic levels. In addition, explanatory notes at the end of the book add depth and offer clarification for readers unfamiliar with Seneca or Stoic philosophy. A good representative sample of Seneca's letters, Fifty Letters is an approachable text and a good introduction to Roman Stoicism. . . . Recommended. * Choice * In 2015 Chicago did the great service of publishing G. and L.'s magisterial translation and commentary on all 124 surviving letters to Lucilius (Seneca: Letters on Ethics to Lucilius)... With this volume, G. and L. have now produced a very reasonably priced soft covered selection of slightly under half of the full corpus of Letters to Lucilius. * Classics for All *

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