Today’s letter begins a discussion on suicide, a perennial topic in your Letters, dear Seneca. I do rather like the description that ‘philosophy is training to die,’ and this fits well in that vein. A few things stuck out at me.
“Do not torment yourself, my dear Marcellinus, as if the question which you are weighing were a matter of importance. It is not an important matter to live; all your slaves live, and so do all animals; but it is important to die honourably, sensibly, bravely. Reflect how long you have been doing the same thing: food, sleep, lust, – this is one’s daily round. The desire to die may be felt, not only by the sensible man or the brave or unhappy man, but even by the man who is merely surfeited.”
Especially this: Reflect how long you have been doing the same thing: food, sleep, lust, – this is one’s daily round.
It’s an interesting tact to take to help frame the question for Marcellinus.
No one is so ignorant as not to know that we must at some time die; nevertheless, when one draws near death, one turns to flight, trembles, and laments.
Well, many have this fret long before the time comes, but still, point well taken.
You were born to be subject to this law; this fate befell your father, your mother, your ancestors, all who came before you; and it will befall all who shall come after you. A sequence which cannot be broken or altered by any power binds all things together and draws all things in its course.