SLRP: LXXVI. On Learning Wisdom In Old Age (Part 4: 26b–35)



I finished your last letter today, and it had several morsels on which I could chew.

“None of those whom you behold clad in purple is happy… None of those who have been raised to a loftier height by riches and honours is really great. Why then does he seem great to you? It is because you are measuring the pedestal along with the man.”

Despite the fact that we intellectually know what’s valuable, what’s admirable, what’s honorable, and what’s virtuous we make incorrect judgments.  We have decades of habit, in action, thought, and intention to overcome.  It requires a constant reminder and training to undo what we’ve done thoughtlessly.  Whether by accident or intentional volition, we train ourselves and our judgments.  It’s far better to train intentionally that thoughtlessly.

“Today it is you who threaten me with these terrors; but I have always threatened myself with them, and have prepared myself as a man to meet man’s destiny.”

Our training in part inoculates us against the loss of apparent-goods.  When we know that we can do without the varied and multiple indifferents in life, we’re better able to choose virtue.  Choosing virtue when it’s easy is one thing, but when it’s hard, when it puts us at risk, when it goes against our lusting-desires… that’s another thing entirely.

‘We sometimes hear the inexperienced say: “I knew that this was in store for me.” But the wise man knows that all things are in store for him. Whatever happens, he says: “I knew it.” ‘


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

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