Letters from a Stoic Key Takeways

This is a collection of short key takeaways (less than 500 words) from the letters sent by Seneca to Lucilius. Seneca’s letters are one of our favorite stoic reflections so we put into a collection some of the most important stoic concepts that Seneca discussed in the letters and the most beautiful pieces of advice he gave to Lucilius.  We recommend using Letters from a Stoic by Robert Mott Gummere as a reference as it is the most complete with all the 124 letters. Other books have missing letters. Free free to BOOKMARK this page so you can go back to it later as you read through the letters.

There are three ways to use these key takeaways:

(1) You can use it as a preview before you read a letter so you get a sneak peek of the most important concepts
(2) You can use it as a review after you read a letter to wrap  up things up
(3) Or if you have read all the letters before you can use these to refresh your memory

Regardless of how you use it, we hope you find values in these key takeaways.

Letters from a Stoic Summary 
Click on a letter (violet text)

Letter 1 :
              (1) The importance of valuing time
              (2) Live each day as if it is the last

Letter 2 :
              (1) Productivity and the well-ordered thinking man
              (2) Defining what it means to be a poor

Letter 3 :
             Choosing friends and what means to be real friends

Letter 4 :
             (1) Nourishing the mind
             (2) Fear on life challenges and death

Letter 5 :
              (1) Living a higher standard with the majority
              (2) The chain that binds hope and fear

Letter 6 :
              (1) The joy of sharing possession (knowledge)
              (2) walk the talk

Letter 7 :
              (1) Avoiding the crowd
              (2) Empathy for crowd

Letter 8 :
              (1) Retirement and writing ideas to inspire younger generation
              (2) Learning philosophy over chasing wealth and possessions

Letter 9 :
             (1) what it means to be self-sufficient
             (2) fair-weather friendships

Letter 10:
             (1) reiterating avoidance from the crowd
             (2) trusting oneself

Letter 11:
            (1) About physiological changes that we cannot fully eliminate
            (2) Importance of finding good role models

Letter 12:
            (1) Embracing old age
           (2) We only have one day to live
           (3) Celebrating life by celebrating burial (Pacuvius)

Letter 13:
        Part 1:
            (1) Fortifying oneself against life challenges
            (2) Understanding anxiety 
        Part 2:
            Dealing with anxiety

Letter 14:
           (1) Controlling our pleasure-seeking and pain-avoidant behaviors
           (2) Respecting people in power

Letter 15:
           (1) Why nourish the mind over the body
           (2) Gratitude: Appreciating what we have

Letter 16:
           (1) Importance of philosophy – guide for life
           (2) Living in accordance with nature

Letter 17:
           (1) Studying philosophy regardless of financial status
           (2) Philosophy can makes us rich

Letter 18:
           (1) Temperance and self-control on indulgences
           (2) Preparing setbacks by simulating the worst
           (3) How to combat anger

Letter 19:
           (1) Insatiable desires and the benefits of retirement
           (2) Power and wealth do not guarantee real friends
           (3) Choosing people to help with

Letter 20:
           (1) Practicing what you preach
           (2) Consistency with actions
           (3) Poverty can reveal true friends

Letter 21:
             (1) Lasting happiness can only be found within
             (2) To add more of anything, decrease desire

Letter 22:
             (1) Complete withdrawal from strong desires
             (2) Leaving the world free from care as it is with birth

Letter 23:
             (1) Defining true joy
             (2) Reflecting death and beginning to live

Letter 24:
             (1) Dealing with anxiety
             (2) Death as a process: We have been dying every day

Letter 25:
             (1) Difficulty of changing an old’s man habits
             (2) Limiting desires means never getting poor
             (3) Finding guardians and role models to regulate one’s character

Letter 26:
             (1) Sound mind with a frail body from old age
             (2) Death – the ultimate test of courage
             (3) Epicurus: Think on Death

Lesson 27:
               (1) Virtue is the only good
               (2) A sound mind cannot be bought

Lesson 28:
               (1) Real change can only be found within
               (2) Recognizing fault is the beginning of change

Lesson 29:
              (1) How to correct a friend’s fault
              (2) The pointless of winning social approval

Lesson 30:
               (1) Embracing old age and nearing death
               (2) Why death should not be feared

Letter 31:
              (1) What is good and bad?
              (2) Seek virtues

Letter 32:
             (1) Crowd can hinder progress
             (2) True good can only be found within

Letter 33:
             (1) Maxims on a bigger picture
             (2) Creating Your Own Maxims – Mental Independence
             (3) Perpetually Seeking the Truth

Letter 34:
             (1) Fulfillment of a teacher
             (2) Consistency with words and actions

Letter 35:
             (1) Hasten your self-improvement
             (2) Will and Consistency

Letter 36:
            (1) Sticking with retirement – leaving the spotlight
            (2) The gods has no jurisdiction with virtues
            (3) Life and death cannot co-exist

Letter 37:
             (1) Embracing fate and the inevitable death
             (2) Philosophy – the only way to be free
             (3) Control through reason

Letter 38:
             (1) Preference on conversation
             (2) The power of words

Letter 39: 
             The quality of a good soul (Will to be good, contentment, self-control)

Letter 40:
             How a philosopher’s discourse should be

Letter 41:
             (1) God within us; Stoic affinity to nature
             (2) Soul: the only thing that cannot be taken from us
             (3) To use reason is to live in accordance with nature

Letter 42:
             (1) Good people don’t know their good
             (2) Understand our values
             (3) Loss is a matter of perception

Letter 43:
             (1) Relativity of fame
             (2) Conscience: a measure of man’s character

Letter 44:
             (1) Philosophy does not care about ancestry
             (2) Means of producing happiness is not happiness itself

Letter 45:
             (1) Quality not quantity of books
             (2) Take any work with a grain of salt
             (3) Friendship built around flattery
             (4) What makes a man happy?
             (5) Pursue only good things in life

Lesson 46:
               A critique on the book by Lucilius

Letter 47:
             (1) How slaves are maltreated
             (2) Slaves are equal and deserve respect

Letter 48:
               (1) Mutuality of Stoic friendship
               (2) Stoics’ sense of obligation to his fellow men

Letter 49:
             (1) Places brings memories back
             (2) Good life is not a function of time spent
             (3) Death is always near us

Letter 50:
             (1) Fault is not external
             (2) We can be blinded by our vices
             (3) Virtues will stay long

Letter 51:
            (1) Selecting the right place to live in
            (2) The danger of pleasures and vices

Letter 52:
            (1) Two types of men seeking self-improvement
            (2) Choosing the right mentor
            (3) Evaluating people’s praise

Letter 53:
            (1) Diseases of the body vs soul
            (2) Philosophy as a cure to the diseases of the soul
            (3) Sage vs god

Letter 54:
            (1) Courage on critical illness
            (2) On Facing death

Letter 55:
            (1) Luxuries and leisure
            (2) A wise man regardless of wealth

Letter 56:
            (1) Finding tranquility on external noise
            (2) Habit of testing oneself

Letter 57:
            (1) Travel and Introspection
            (2) Courage is not all the time

Letter 58:
            (1) On being

Letter 59:
             (1) Pleasure is a vice
             (2) Real vs Fleeting Joy
             (3) Be cautious with flattery

Letter 60:
             (1) On “Harmful Prayers”
             (2) Contentment is internal
             (3) Living in service to other people

Letter 61:
            (1) On Meeting Death Cheerfully
            (2) Living each day as it is a complete life

Letter 62:
            (1) Excuse to learning philosophy
            (2) Despising riches

Letter 63:
            (1) On grieving over a friend’s death
            (2) Treasure a friend as though they are dead

Letter 64:
            (1) How philosophy enriches one’s life
            (2) Learning from previous philosophers

Letter 65:
            (1) Philosophy contemplation despite ill health
            (2) Stoic’s view of causation

Letter 66:
            (1) Nature of virtue
            (2) Category of goods

Letter 67:
            (1) Seneca on Ill-health and enduring suffering
            (2) The importance of virtue during trials

Letter 68:
            (1) Seneca on retirement
            (2) Advertising retirement draws crowd

Letter 69:
            (1) Importance of stability and the dangers of frequent movement
            (2) Welcoming death if it comes to us

Letter 70:
            (1) Life’s journey is like sailing on a ship
            (2) Seneca’s controversial take on suicide