Letters from a Stoic 48 – Summary and Key Takeaways

               In letters from a stoic 48, Seneca reminds Lucilius about the mutuality of Stoic friendship. In his third letter, he discussed what it means to be a real friend. “But the fact is, the same thing is advantageous to me which is advantageous to you; for I am not your friend unless whatever is at issue concerning you is my concern also. Friendship produces between us a partnership in all our interests.” Epicureans, in contrast, get into friendships so they can benefits themselves more, Seneca said. 

              Another Stoic attitude that can be seen in the letter is the sense of obligation Stoics had to their fellow men “And no one can live happily who has regard to himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility; you must live for your neighbor, if you would live for yourself.”  The ancient Stoics were highly involved in the community as evident in their professions. Seneca is tutor and advisor to Emperor Nero, Epictetus and Musonius Rufus runs schools of philosophy, and Marcus Aurelius himself an emperor. Seneca can also be seen in the letter advising Lucilius in helping a troubling friend.” Men are stretching out imploring hands to you on all sides; lives ruined and in danger of ruin are begging for some assistance; men’s hopes, men’s resources, depend upon you. “Probably the biggest misconception in the philosophy is that Stoics are a bunch of passive individuals. On the contrary, one of the central tenets of Stoicism doctrine is that we are social animals and our main function, other than to use our reasons, is that we look out for the welfare of other people. 

*****   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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