On today’s edition of the Italian newspaper La Repubblica there was a top sellers’ list of books in Italy in this week, and what a surprise, Seneca, (c. 4 B.C – A.D 65) the Roman philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and humorist is top. What’s happened? There has been a new series, called Live by Newton Campton, which is offering a number of titles of classics at 0,99 euro only! As a result, authors like Seneca, Freud, E.A. Poe Dostoevskij have entered the top list too.
Anyway, if not considering these 0,99€ titles, the top ten list would present at the top a new entry: A. Camilleri’s new book: “La rivoluzione della luna”.
I have been pleased to see the name of Seneca, an author who has marked my classical studies. I like Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Moral Letters to Lucilius) especially . In those 124 brilliant essays Seneca treats a range of moral problems and he speaks very directly to his readers, his examples grip us modern readers as much as they gripped his contemporaries. They are addressed to Lucilius , the then procurator of Sicily – although he is known only through Seneca’s writings – to whom the philosopher gives advice.
The letters I ‘ve read again recently were related to the theme of time and true friendship. I’m just leaving you here some quotations to induce you to read these special letters by Seneca:
Withdraw into yourself, as far as you can. Associate with those who will make a better man of you. Welcome those whom you yourself can improve. The process is mutual; for men learn while they teach.
Men do not care how nobly they live, but only how long, although it is within the reach of every man to live nobly, but within no man’s power to live long.
Everywhere means nowhere. When a person spends all his time in foreign travel, he ends by having many acquaintances, but no friends. And the same thing must hold true of men who seek intimate acquaintance with no single author, but visit them all in a hasty and hurried manner.
About Seneca’s life:
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 1 BCE – CE 65) was born in Corduba (Spain) and educated—in rhetoric and philosophy—in Rome. Seneca had a highly successful, and quite dramatic, political career. He was accused of adultery with the Emperor Caligula’s sister and therefore exiled to Corsica in 41; having been Nero’s “tutor” in his adolescent years, he was among Nero’s advisors after his accession in 54; Seneca continued to be an advisor in times that became increasingly difficult for anyone in the close proximity of Nero. He was charged with complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to murder Nero, and compelled to commit suicide in 65.