SLRP: LXXXV. On Some Vain Syllogisms (Part 5: 33 – 41)



” … [The Sage] is always in action, and is greatest in performance at the very time when fortune has blocked his way.”

It can be easy to delude one’s self about equanimity when life is calm and easy.  Quite another thing when it is tempestuous.  But it is on the stormy seas that the pilot excels.

The ship and sailing metaphors in the letter have me remembering Zeno today, how his ship crashed and he lost all his worldly goods.  In that “tragedy” of commerce, however, he gained so much.  He gained the pathway to wisdom, and the light of philosophy.

Maybe it takes a shipwreck to get most of us paying attention to such things as in which we are now interested.

“[Like the trainer is of lions, tigers, and elephants,] the wise man is a skilled hand at taming evils. Pain, want, disgrace, imprisonment, exile, – these are universally to be feared; but when they encounter the wise man, they are tamed.”

This paragraph is poetic and I quite like the imagery of it, but it might also shade things in a less-than-ideal hue for the philosopher.  The Sage has no need of taming these wild beasts of things, for she recognizes that they are in fact not vicious (philosophical pun thoroughly intended) at all.

I find myself thinking on the Sage more and more lately.  In the beginning of my study of Stoicism, I was a touch put off my the use of the Sage as a tool.  Probably some baggage from the system in which I was raised, but it has lately fallen by the wayside.

Either way, this was an interesting read.


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

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