In letters from a stoic 26, Seneca talked about the frailty of his body. When he wrote the letters to Lucilius, he already retired from public office and devoted his life to inspiring younger generations through his writings. Though his body has tremendously declined, Seneca said he still has a very sharp mind. In letters 15, Seneca stressed how important it is to prioritize the mind over the body because the gain of the former is compounded with years while the latter is depreciative. Nonetheless, he embraced the wear and tear that comes with old age and prefers slow death than any kind of sudden death.
In the next part, Seneca talks about death as the ultimate test of courage. Of all the Stoics, Seneca is probably the one that talks about death the most. Most of which are very consoling. He said that all his talks and the maxims about death become useless if he whines when his time arrives. “Death will deliver the final judgment in your case. This is what I mean: your debates and learned talks, your maxims gathered from the teachings of the wise, your cultured conversation—all these afford no proof of the real strength of your soul. Even the most timid man can deliver a bold speech. What you have done in the past will be manifest only at the time when you draw your last breath.” We know from history that he did die courageously and calmly when Nero asked him to commit suicide in front of his family.
He asked Lucilius to prepare for death, as most Stoics did, even he is young. Quoting from Epicurus, “Think of death”. Seneca and Stoics constantly remind us to constantly reflect on death. As Seneca puts it beautifully, “He who has learned to die has unlearned slavery”. The whole point is to embrace it rather than fear it so that we will appreciate more the only currency that we own – this very moment.
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