SLRP: LVIII. On Being (Part 3: 20 – 27a)



“None of us is the same man in old age that he was in youth; nor the same on the morrow as on the day preceding. Our bodies are burned along like flowing waters; every visible object accompanies time in its flight; of the things which we see, nothing is fixed.”

This brings to mind the Heraclitus Fragment:

ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμβαίνουσιν ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ.
“On those who enter the same rivers, ever different waters flow.”

Heh, that will teach me to start writing a blog post before finishing the letter!  This same quote is the next line!

“We are weak, watery beings standing in the midst of unrealities; therefore let us turn our minds to the things that are everlasting. Let us look up to the ideal outlines of all things, that flit about on high, and to the God who moves among them and plans how he may defend from death that which he could not make imperishable because its substance forbade, and so by reason may overcome the defects of the body.”

So far, I’ve really enjoyed these days’ readings of the letter.  It’s excellent food for thought.  The lesson that even something as hypothetical as Platonic forms can be turned, like someone would do a sermon, into a message that we can use to better ourselves is a poignant one.

Early on in my study, I began to notice “Stoic messages” in things that I saw.  Whether it was Man of La Mancha (wow, was that really two years ago?), or some other bit of entertainment.  Of course, the authors probably did not mean to make such allusions as I was plucking from their works, but in looking back, I now see that as a crucial step to internalizing the teachings we’re working with.

It’s like “blue car syndrome”  but rather than simply noticing something we now have a greater affinity for, our minds are beginning to filter our sense-impressions, and even our memories through a Stoic lens.


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

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