Seneca on Saturday: On the provocations of vice

Dionysius (the Roman god Bacchus) riding on the back of a lion, accompanied by satyrs. Ancient Roman mosaic, 2nd-3rd century CE. El Djem Museum, Tunisia. Image from Theoi Greek Mythology. 

XLI: On Baiae and morals

“Just as I do not care to live in a place of torture, neither do I care to live in a café. To witness persons wandering drunk along the beach, the riotous revelling of sailing parties, the lakes a-din with choral song, and all the other ways in which luxury, when it is, so to speak, released from the restraints of law not merely sins, but blazons its sins abroad, — why must I witness this? We ought to see to it that we flee to the greatest possible distance from provocations to vice. We should toughen our minds, and remove them far from the allurements of pleasure. A single winter relaxed Hannibal’s fibre; his pampering in Campania took the vigour out of that hero who had triumphed over Alpine snows. He conquered with his weapons, but was conquered with his vices.” 

Seneca Epistles 1-65, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

 

 

Seneca on Saturday (on Tuesday)

A cast of the tombstone of the centurion M Favonius Facilis from Colchester, United Kingdom, 43-50 CE.

XLIX: On the shortness of life

“Why do you torment yourself and lose weight over some problem which it is more clever t o have scorned than to solve? When a soldier is undisturbed and traveling at his ease, he can hunt for trifles along his way; but when the enemy is closing in on the rear, and a command is given to quicken the pace, necessity makes him throw away everything which he picked up in moments of peace and leisure. I have no time to investigate disputed inflections of words, or to try my cunning upon them.” 

Seneca Epistles 1-65, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

 

Photo by Brownie Bear on flickr·

Seneca on Sunday: Everything depends on opinion

Mosaic from the Villa Romana del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily. Third century CE.

LXXVIII — On the healing power of the mind

But do not of your own accord make your troubles heavier to bear and burden yourself with complaining. Pain is slight if opinion has added nothing to it; but if, on the other hand, you begin to encourage yourself and say, “It is nothing, – a trifling matter at most; keep a stout heart and it will soon cease”; then in thinking it slight, you will make it slight. Everything depends on opinion; ambition, luxury, greed, hark back to opinion. It is according to opinion that we suffer. A man is as wretched as he has convinced himself that he is. 

Seneca Epistles 66-92, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Seneca on Saturday: A Good Conscience Welcomes the Crowd

Brass replica of bronze hand mirror found in Pompeii. From the Object Lessons Blog.

XLIII. On the Relativity of Fame.

I shall mention a fact by which you may weigh the worth of a man’s character: you will scarcely find anyone who can live with his door wide open. It is our conscience, not our pride, that has put doorkeepers at our doors; we live in such a fashion that being suddenly disclosed to view is equivalent to being caught in the act. What profits it, however, to hide ourselves away, and to avoid the eyes and ears of men? A good conscience welcomes the crowd, but a bad conscience, even in solitude, is disturbed and troubled.  If your deeds are honourable, let everybody know them; if base, what matters it that no one knows them, as long as you yourself know them?  How wretched you are if you despise such a witness!  

Seneca Epistles 1-65, by Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. Translation by Richard Gummere. Loeb Classical Library.

Late October Word of Mouth

 

Fiction: My Sister, the Serial Killer — Oyinkan Braithwaite

Podcast episode: Say Yes to Rebuilding Post- Trump — Trumpcast (Slate)

Podcast episode: The Family Business — Trump, Inc. (WNYC Studios/ ProPublica)

Non-Fiction: Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-starved World — Seth M. Siegel

 

Ancient Inspiration:

“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive.” 

— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 8. 51

 

Not-so-Ancient Inspiration: 

“The work is the work, regardless of whether you decide to be ground down by it.”

Seth Godin

 

 

Fall Word of Mouth

Kids’ TV: Carmen Sandiego — Duane Capizzi (Netflix)

Fiction: A Murder of Magpies — Judith Flanders

Non-Fiction: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup — John Carreyrou

Science: The Ghost Map — Steven Johnson

More Kids’ TV: Beat Bugs — Josh Wakely (Netflix)

Ancient Inspiration:

“If a person gave your body to any stranger he met on his way, you would certainly be angry. And do you feel no shame in handing over your own mind to be confused and mystified by anyone who happens to verbally attack you?”

— Epictetus — Enchiridion 28, translated by Elizabeth Carter

Not-so-Ancient Inspiration: 

“The faith that led Magellan to attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1519 is why we remember him. But few remember that he was not among the eighteen survivors who completed the journey.”