Anger, mercy, revenge by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

By Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) was once a Roman Stoic thinker, dramatist, statesman, and adviser to the emperor Nero, all in the course of the Silver Age of Latin literature. the whole Works of Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a clean and compelling sequence of latest English-language translations of his works in 8 available volumes. Edited via world-renowned classicists Elizabeth Asmis, Shadi Bartsch, and Martha C. Nussbaum, this attractive assortment restores Seneca—whose works were hugely praised by way of glossy authors from Desiderius Erasmus to Ralph Waldo Emerson—to his rightful position one of the classical writers most generally studied within the humanities.

Anger, Mercy, Revenge comprises 3 key writings: the ethical essays On Anger and On Clemency—which have been penned as suggestion for the then younger emperor, Nero—and the Apocolocyntosis, an excellent satire lampooning the tip of the reign of Claudius. good friend and teach, in addition to thinker, Seneca welcomed the age of Nero in tones alternately severe, poetic, and comic—making Anger, Mercy, Revenge a piece simply as complex, astute, and bold as its author.

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Esp. 1–2), or useful. Much of the time he prefers to take “you” by the shoulders and give a good shake. Selected Reading Martha Nussbaum. 1994. The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 316–401. Tad Brennan. 2005. The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, and Fate. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Margaret Graver. 2007. Stoicism and Emotion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 30 And if we take Seneca to mean what he says, he had to regard the need to reach that audience as a moral imperative no less urgent than the obligation to rescue a man drowning an arm’s length away.

Within the Stoic tradition that Seneca followed, the great philosopher Chrysippus (ca. 2 The idea that our affective responses to life might require “therapy” will not seem odd in our own therapy-conscious culture, nor was it unique to the Stoics in antiquity: for example, the Epicurean Philodemus, in the first century BCE, included a therapeutic section in his own On Anger, and Plutarch, an adherent of Plato, wrote On Controlling Anger two generations after Seneca. But the Stoics took up the topic with special urgency, because alone among all ancient philosophical sects they believed (for reasons we will consider below) that the passions as we commonly know them are an evil per se.

To be sure, we can appropriately prefer health to sickness and do what we reasonably can to acquire what we prefer. But we must never mistake what we prefer for what is good in itself, or seek what we prefer as though it were an end in itself. That the unique good is also uniquely in our control is fundamentally good news, and in that respect Stoicism is fundamentally optimistic. But for virtually all of us there is, as I have noted, a difficulty: because our intellectual development is incomplete, and because that development tends to be debased or misdirected by our upbringing and by broader cultural influences, we almost certainly on anger 6 will misidentify external objects as genuine goods or evils, and we will therefore make choices—at least very regularly, and in most cases almost always—unmindful of what is truly good.

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