It’s funny to me, most of the time when we’re reading your Letters, Seneca, they’re abridged, or it’s merely a selection of them. There is a decided selection bias in those Letters, as I’ve seen. Letters like the one of today are rarely included.
“… the remedies which are most helpful are those which are not interrupted. a You should not allow your quiet, or the oblivion to which you have consigned your former life, to be broken into. Give your eyes time to unlearn what they have seen, and your ears to grow accustomed to more wholesome words. Whenever you stir abroad you will meet, even as you pass from one place to another, things that will bring back your old cravings.”
How can one read these, and not see a decidedly ascetic, renounced tone to the practice of Stoicism? Letters like these are not outliers, but well in the standard of the School. Some like to point out Musonius and Epictetus as outliers, but it’s clearly not the case.
Training, and for the reasons you’ve stated here, are absolutely required of a Stoic practicing in accord with the school.
“Vices tempt you by the rewards which they offer; but in the life of which I speak, you must live without being paid. Scarcely will a whole life-time suffice to bring our vices into subjection and to make them accept the yoke, swollen as they are by long-continued indulgence; and still less, if we cut into our brief span by any interruptions. Even constant care and attention can scarcely bring any one undertaking to full completion.”
Thank you for the letter.