SLRP: VII. On Crowds, Part 2

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Seneca,
The point I take most from the second part of your letter is one I noted yesterday, with a twist.  Yesterday, I said, “Indulgence trains our moral will,”  and today you mention, what effect on our character does witnessing such spectacles have?

The question might at first seem a strange one.  These men, thieves and murders though they be, are tortured.  Whether their treatment be just or unjust, the operative questions is, what is the effect on our souls?

This is a question which more and more seems relevant to me, but it is shortly followed up with another.  What is the effect on our souls should we hide away from it?  Should we rather not face it down and seek to change the thing which is so damaging to ourselves?  It must surely be at least if not more damaging to the fellow who is under the lash?  And the other spectators, are their souls not worth the saving?

Epicurus retreated to his Garden, and surrounded himself with a few.  But let us not forget, that for the Epicurean hedone and tranquility are goods.  For us:  not at all.  Only virtue.

Can it be virtuous to hide away and protect our lily white souls while the murderous games go unchallenged?

If it’s the case that our social roles and our obligations to others are a part of an excellent character:  should we not assist?  If we must not assist, how can it be said that our roles and obligations are a part of our excellent character?

It seems it must be one or the other.

Farewell, and thank you for the letter.

 


Part of Michel Daw’s Reading Plan of Seneca’s Letters.

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