SLRP: LXX. On The Proper Time (Part 3: 19b – 28)



I enjoyed the sections today, if such a thing can be said, of common (or I think as you might have meant, “lowly”) who embraced death willingly.  That we need not be a Cato or a Socrates to meet the inevitable on a level footing.

“Reason, too, advises us to die, if we may, according to our taste; if this cannot be, she advises us to die according to our ability, and to seize upon whatever means shall offer itself for doing violence to ourselves. It is criminal to “live by robbery;” but, on the other hand, it is most noble to “die by robbery.” “

This letter had me doing a lot of thinking on the issue, and some reading besides.  I noticed that when I was looking up the specific… methodologies, let’s say, that I found the topic uncomfortable.  I’ve read about the general practice of suicide, and of a “voluntary exist” as it were.  I didn’t any of these things stressful.  I’d even written some about it.  No problems.

Yet, when I was looking at the brass tacks of the issue, I discovered a deep-seated discomfort,  the result of which was to a slightly sick feeling to the stomach, even a back pain.  This took me quite by surprise, and it did not seem so far off to ponder the how as the what, but the former resulted in my judgments which yielded discomfort.

All of that being said, the thing that I am no considering is that for the past two years I’ve been doing memento mori incorrectly.  Well, not the whole time, but much of it.  At the outset, the thought of my own eventual death was disquieting.  Now, there’s a sufficient callous built up so that such is not the case.  However, I know see how shallowly I was attempting to swim, a mere splashing on the stairs.

Maybe the Buddhists are closer to correct with their meditations on death, of sitting in a charnel house, or cemetery and watching a body decompose.  That seems pretty morbid, there might be some happy medium there, I’ll have to ponder that a bit more.


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

2 thoughts on “SLRP: LXX. On The Proper Time (Part 3: 19b – 28)

  1. In another group someone said that there has never been a society that approves of suicide. (To say that Socrates chose to drink hemlock is like saying a prisoner chose to be electrocuted). What do you think of this universal prohibition?
    My interpretation of the Stoic discussion of the “open door” is that it is a spiritual exercise to make us aware of the pervasiveness of choice in everything we do or don’t do. It is not a doctrinal statement advising us to violently interfere with the course of nature. It seems especially odd considering the Stoic insistence that pain is not an evil. Renounce and Endure.

    • Hmm, without doing some more research, my first thought is to say that’s not the case.

      First, Socrates had an out, some rescuers came and offered him an escape and subsequent exile. He denies that. So he really did choose the hemlock.

      The Japanese have seppuku and harakiri.

      I would says that there is a human universal position against unregulated suicide, meaning it’s generally unacceptable, but there are excstions where it is. The Japanese example, for instance, if honor requires it.

      But I would need to do so more investigation before I could make a firmer claim.

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