SLRP: LXX. On The Proper Time (Part 2: 10 – 19a)



One of the things which the mob occasionally grasps hold of is Stoicism’s position on suicide.  It’s a difficult thing to handle for our culture today.  Suicide is seen either as a selfish and indulgent act, or the result of severe mental illness, and therefore a tragedy.

It might be that Stoicism is one of the last rational schools on the subject.  We have some irrational schools of thought on the issue, however, from suicide cults, UFOs cults, and The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.

The East has preserved this, especially in traditions like Jainism.  The final ethical vow of the Jains is one which I can see Zeno approving of.  Generally, the report is that Zeno died after a fall, but I’ve seen in a few places that he may have fasted until death.  If that’s the case, then I can see a reasonable analogue.

While you, Seneca, note that the manner is basically irrelevant, citing Cato’s sword, or poision, or even hanging, it seems to me that if the ideal sort of ‘rational exit’ were possible, it would be this one:  the removing of food and water until the body dies.

“Every man ought to make his life acceptable to others besides himself, but his death to himself alone.

Keep thinking of the fact that some day you will be deprived of this tenure; then you will be more brave against the necessity of departing.”

Stoicism’s memento mori is a hard thing for the average fellow to grok, but it’s one I’ve come to appreciate more and more in my studies.


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

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