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Letters from a Stoic Unknown Binding – 1977

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Unknown Binding, 1977
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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B001G2N6U2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,803,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
LUCIUS ANNAEUS SENECA was born at Cordoba, then the leading town in Roman Spain, at about the same time as Christ. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Luciano Lupini on 4 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
A review by Luciano Lupini. This book is the fundamental vademecum for every day life. No person that I know has left this book suffer the dust and the quiet tranquillity that any other philosophy book enjoy in a library. This letters contain all the wisdom and the poise to enable any inquisitive soul to aquire selfcontrol, to endure with dignity the burdens of misfortune, to take success and fame with humbleness and cynicism, to prepare with serenity to die. Finally, to consider the end of life with the detachment of someone who has used well a precious object, without contracting the disease of jealousy.
This is a very easily readable book, and it was written by Seneca in the last four years of his life (62-65 A.D.). In my opinion is the masterpiece of his moral philosophy.
Seneca's literary style was criticized by his contemporaries for its fragmentary and non-classic hues, and it is truly very modern. Caligula defined it as "sand without lime". St. Augustine in his City of God, in a reference to his contradictions, criticized the fact that this man who almost achieved real freedom through philosophy, pursued what he criticized, did what he loathed and inculpated what he adored. AND WHAT DOES MODERN MAN DO? Maybe we must admit that Seneca lived a life full of contradictions, triumphs and failures but he never truly believed in the roles that he had to play and he was always ready to detach himself from material things, devoid of illusions but also of bitterness.
That is why his work has survived the ages and has been celebrated for his modernity. I would say that his teachings are atemporal, and this is the best tribute to him. Maybe this is why
his letters were the bedside book of Montaigne. And mine.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 3 April 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this is an excellent book but I also like these Penguin pocket hardbacks and hope it is a range they plan to expand upon, the volumes are small enough for a large coat pocket or the side pocket of some cargo pants, there is attached to the spine a ribbon book mark and the binding is good, it holds fast and provides a sturdy book but is not stiff and there is no difficulty with the pages turning.

This edition has a great introduction which provides biographical information at the writer and some comment and context to the work itself, including suggestion that while Seneca was a great writer and very wise in print he was not always the best at applying his own philosophy in his own life, although as the author states in the introduction he succeeded in humanising what had been and can be otherwise a very harsh philosophy (indeed another stoic's shame at shedding a tear at bereavement gets a mention in contrast). Like I mentioned in a review of another from this series, I get the feeling having read the book and then reading the introduction once more than it would have been a better idea to have read the book itself first and then read the introduction. I do share the view expressed in the introduction that Seneca probably did compose the letters with a thought that they would be published or collected, the detail in the introduction supports this alone but reading the letters I cant help but believe they are second or third drafts as opposed to spontaneous single compositions.

The letters themselves are not long, it would be possible to choose to read one each day like those treasury books which are divide so as to permit a different reading for each day of a year or seasons of a year.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brownbear101 on 22 April 2011
Format: Paperback
There must be something about the way Latin is structured that causes it to be easy and straightforward when written down. Seneca's Letters From a Stoic are a case in point and these missives to a young follower are a model of simplicity, clarity and good writing; they are also a master lesson in political and ideological trimming.

Seneca was a follower of the cult of stoicism first put forward by Zeno in 300 BC (Seneca was living nearly 300 years later between 4 BC and 65 AD). Roman stoicism was a three bladed philosophy. The first part was logic, which here essentially means looking at the universe and paying attention to what you see and taking conclusions from it. The second leg was physics, which has nothing to do with our modern concept but was more like the idea of the force in Star Wars - in other words that there is a real force of nature that human beings can make use of in their daily lives. Thirdly, there was ethics, which to the Stoics meant that the prime aim of human life was happiness and that the way of achieving this objective was to live in accordance with nature or the ethical force.

To many Stoics these threefold principles meant living a simple, almost monastic, life. But Seneca was one of the richest men in Rome and, from his position as tutor to the emperor Nero, effectively ran the Roman Empire for a period of some five years. He was thus a real-world politician and there are certainly records of him being complicit in acts and foul deeds that would be difficult to reconcile with a traditional view of the stoic philosophy.

What comes across in these letters is precisely this ambiguity in Seneca's make-up.
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