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Letters from a Stoic 36 – Summary and Key Takeaways

          In letters from a stoic 36, Seneca talks about Lucilius’ friend who seemed to be getting a lot of criticism about his decision to retire from office. Being retired himself, Seneca understood the difficulty of leaving the spotlight. There are pros and cons to which he talked in letter 19. He said that his friend should stay grounded with his decision to be able to retire and live in tranquility. 

          In the next part of the letter, Seneca talks about virtue. The Stoics define virtue as the only true good and that it is sufficient to make a person happy. It is accessible at any time and cannot be taken away in contrast to what we define in modern-day as “good” such as fame, wealth, and power which are fleeting. “Fortune has no jurisdiction over character.” If there is one thing that the gods cannot take away from us that is our goodwill, as the Stoics say repeatedly. 


“Fortune has no jurisdiction over character.”

     In the last part of the letter, Seneca makes an argument about why we should not fear death. “In death there is nothing harmful; for there must exist something to which it is harmful.” The argument is that for death to be harmful, death must co-exist with us. The fact is while we are living death cannot exist. The moment we die, we can no longer exist. So either way, death cannot harm us.

*****   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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