SLRP: IX. On Philosophy and Friendship (Part 1)


“The wise man, I say, self-sufficient though he be, nevertheless desires friends if only for the purpose of practising friendship, in order that his noble qualities may not lie dormant. Not, however, for the purpose mentioned by Epicurus b in the letter quoted above: “That there may be someone to sit by him when he is ill, to help him when he is in prison or in want;” but that he may have someone by whose sick-bed he himself may sit, someone a prisoner in hostile hands whom he himself may set free.

For what purpose, then, do I make a man my friend? In order to have someone for whom I may die, whom I may follow into exile, against whose death I may stake my own life, and pay the pledge, too.”


I very much enjoyed this section of today’s letter.  The term ἀπάθεια (apatheia) is indeed a tricky critter, esp. when we have the English decedent ‘apathy’ thrown into the mix.  Since we seem to be touching up on Epicureanism, the ideas of ἀταραξία (ataraxia) muddies the waters as well.

I note that you say that a Stoic who loses his sight, or a limb, would take whatever pleasure is left in his remaining faculties.  This strikes me, however, as a more Epicurean position.

Is not the Stoic position that the mere possession of such organs is a moral indifferent?  It seems to me, that their loss is simply not a factor, rather than the remnant being factor enough.

I suppose we can chalk up the bits of Epicureanism here as a pedagogical technique.  (;


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

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