SLRP: LXXI. On The Supreme Good (Part 2: 11 – 16a)



Two sections of today’s letter stick out at me:

“He was conquered in spite of it all!” Well, you may include this among Cato’s “failures”; Cato will bear with an equally stout heart anything that thwarts him of his victory, as he bore that which thwarted him of his praetorship. The day whereon he failed of election, he spent in play; the night wherein he intended to die, he spent in reading. He regarded in the same light both the loss of his praetorship and the loss of his life; he had convinced himself that he ought to endure anything which might happen.

“Why should he not suffer, bravely and calmly, a change in the government? For what is free from the risk of change? Neither earth, nor sky, nor the whole fabric of our universe, though it be controlled by the hand of God. It will not always preserve its present order; it will be thrown from its course in days to come.”

I have not read as much about Cato as perhaps I ought to do.  I’ve read selections from Plutarch’s Lives, but not much else.  It seems that you hold him in the highest regard, maybe even a Sage of your own time.  I need to make an effort to look into that.

“Let great souls comply with God’s wishes, and suffer unhesitatingly whatever fate the law of the universe ordains; for the soul at death is either sent forth into a better life, destined to dwell with deity amid greater radiance and calm, or else, at least, without suffering any harm to itself, it will be mingled with nature again, and will return to the universe.”

The is reminiscent of the oft-misunderstood disjunction of Marcus, “either Gods or atoms.”  It is not necessarily and expression of doubt in the divine order, but a reminder that even if our assumptions are wrong, the practice is the same.  That’s a useful comfort.


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

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