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Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) by…

Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) (edition 1969)

by Seneca

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Title:Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics)
Info:Penguin Classics (1969), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:philosophy, stoicism

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Letters from a Stoic by Lucius Annaeus Seneca



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Letters from a Stoic contains 40 of Seneca's 124 epistles to Lucilius, translated by Robin Campbell. I spent quite a bit of time comparing Campbell's translation to Richard Mott Gummere's translation from the 1920s (which is now in the public domain). Reading the rest of Seneca's epistles not included in the Penguin edition, I wish that this book was a comprehensive compilation rather than just a sampling. However, Campbell's introduction points readers who want to read all 124 letters to Gummere's three volume edition. Final summary on this Penguin Classic edition: there is much context, background, and perspective in the other 84 epistles omitted from this book. On the plus side, Campbell's translation much more modern than Gunnmere's. On these grounds, I'd recommend this book as an introduction to the epistles. But if you are at all intrigued by what you find here, be prepared venture into Gummere's translation later. (I have yet to compare Elaine Fantham's translation in the Oxford Classics edition.)
2 vote jamesshelley | Nov 22, 2015 |
This book might be an interesting read for a neophyte exploring stoic philosophy and it's definitely an acceptable introduction to rhetoric. However, I think it is far more enlightening from a social and historical perspective. Seneca has a rather sardonic sense of humour and talks at length about societal phenomenons that were present in his time, yet they seem like new realities today. Indeed, King Solomon was right when he wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes,"There is nothing new under the sun." It's just great to witness it first hand from the past! ( )
  GPMacD | Jul 12, 2015 |
Series of letters from an ageing Stoic philosopher, writing in 64AD on topics from travel to disease to death. Enjoyable stuff, I'm fond of the Stoics as a rare variety of philosopher I find useful as well as interesting, although my engagement did vary from letter to letter. No Marcus Aurelius, but one I would return to. ( )
  roblong | Nov 7, 2013 |
Brilliant. I love letters because they provide such an authentic voice which the historian cannot provide. I love the indignance of Seneca when he is staying above the bath house in Pompeii and telling his student about the massage parlour downstairs. Oh the horror!! ( )
  notmyrealname | Sep 17, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Seneca, Lucius Annaeusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Campbell, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Judging from what you tell me and from what I hear, I feel that you show great promise.
Are you really surprised, as if it were something unprecedented, that so long a tour and such diversity of scene have not enabled you to throw off this melancholy and this feeling of depression? A change of character, not a change of air, is what you need.
I have been speaking about liberal studies. Yet look at the amount of useless and superfluous matter to be found in the philosophers. Even they have descended to the level of drawing distinctions between the uses of different syllables and discussing the proper meanings of prepositions and conjunctions. They have come to envy the philologist and the mathematician, and they have taken over all the inessential elements in those studies -- with the result that they know more about devoting care and attention to their speech than about devoting such attention to their lives. Letter LXXXVIII
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Selected letters from Seneca's epistles to Lucilius. Please do not combine with complete editions of the letters, with different selections, or with classical language versions.
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The power and wealth which Seneca the Younger (C.4 B.C.- A.D. 65) acquired as Nero's minister were in conflict with his Stoic beliefs. Nevertheless he was the outstanding figure of his age. The Stoic philosophy which Seneca professed in his writings, later supported by Marcus Aurelius, provided Rome with a passable bridge to Christianity. Seneca's major contribution to Stoicism was to spiritualize and humanize a system which could appear cold and unrealistic.… (more)

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