Letters from a Stoic 37 – Summary and Key Takeaways

            In letters from a stoic 37, Seneca reminded Lucilius about his oath to be a good man. From the Stoic perspective, to be a good person means to practice virtues. He then reminded his friend about an important Stoic concept – embracing fate. One inevitable fate Seneca talked about in the letter is death. “You cannot escape necessities, but you can overcome them” He used the analogy about gladiators who lowers their swords to ask pity for the crowd to spare them from death. Seneca said that when our time arrives we should not beg for our lives. “You must die erect and unyielding. Moreover, what profit is it to gain a few days or a few years? There is no discharge for us from the moment we are born.”

            In the next part of the letter, Seneca emphasized that the only way to achieve real freedom, including freeing us from the fear of the inevitable death, is to study philosophy. “Betake yourself therefore to philosophy if you would be safe, untroubled, happy, in fine, if you wish to be—and that is most important—free. There is no other way to attain this end.” 

            In the last part of the letter, Seneca talks briefly about self-control. According to him, the way we control our impulses is through reason. “Proceed with steady step, and if you would have all things under your control, put yourself under the control of reason; if reason becomes your ruler, you will become ruler over many. “Self-control or temperance is one of the four cardinal virtues of the ancient Stoics that are essential if we want to achieve long-lasting happiness and peace.

*****   Letters from a Stoic Key Takeaways is a collection of short key takeaways from the letters sent by Seneca to Lucilius. Read each letter’s key takeways here .

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