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Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Seneca , Robin Campbell
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Kurzbeschreibung

30. August 2012
Selected from the Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, Seneca's Letters from a Stoic are a set of 'essays in disguise' from one of the most insightful philosophers of the Silver Age of Roman literature. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Latin with an introduction by Robin Campbell. A philosophy that saw self-possession as the key to an existence lived 'in accordance with nature', Stoicism called for the restraint of animal instincts and the severing of emotional ties. These beliefs were formulated by the Athenian followers of Zeno in the fourth century BC, but it was in Seneca that the Stoics found their most eloquent advocate. Stoicism, as expressed in the Letters, helped ease pagan Rome's transition to Christianity, for it upholds upright ethical ideals and extols virtuous living, as well as expressing disgust for the harsh treatment of slaves and the inhumane slaughters witnessed in the Roman arenas. Seneca's major contribution to a seemingly unsympathetic creed was to transform it into a powerfully moving and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind. Robin Campbell's lucid translation captures Seneca's humour and tautly aphoristic style. In his introduction, he discusses the tensions between Seneca's philosophy and his turbulent career as adviser to the tyrannical emperor Nero. Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.4BC - AD65) was born in Spain but was raised according to the traditional values of the republic of Rome. In AD48 he became tutor to the future emperor Nero and became his principal civil advisor when he took power. His death was eventually ordered by Nero in AD65, but Seneca anticipated the emperor's decree and committed suicide. If you enjoyed Letters from a Stoic, you might like Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, also available in Penguin Classics.

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Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium + Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library Classics) + On the Shortness of Life (Penguin Great Ideas)
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A philosophy that saw self-possession as the key to an existence lived 'in accordance with nature', Stoicism called for the restraint of animal instincts and the severing of emotional ties. These beliefs were formulated by the Athenian followers of Zeno in the fourth century BC, but it was in Seneca (c. 4 BC - AD 65) that the Stoics found their most eloquent advocate. Stoicism, as expressed in the Letters, helped ease pagan Rome's transition to Christianity, for it upholds upright ethical ideals and extols virtuous living, as well as expressing disgust for the harsh treatment of slaves and the inhumane slaughters witnessed in the Roman arenas. Seneca's major contribution to a seemingly unsympathetic creed was to transform it into a powerfully moving and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind.

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c.4BC - AD65) was born in Spain but was raised according to the traditional values of the republic of Rome. In AD48 he became tutor to the future emperor Nero and became his principal civil advisor when he took power. His death was eventually ordered by Nero in AD65, but Seneca anticipated the emperor's decree and committed suicide.Robin Campbell is a well-known translator.

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LUCIUS ANNAEUS SENECA was born at Cordoba, then the leading town in Roman Spain, at about the same time as Christ. Lesen Sie die erste Seite
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Format:Taschenbuch
The first time I read this book I was amazed and excited, and entering middle age. Seneca's thoughts on the human condition seemed like they could have been written today. Except for some dated Roman references, here is a man trying to define how to live, in what we today would call "the secular society." The series of letters reads like a personal guidebook to ethics. It still speaks to us across the centuries. Seneca was priveleged, ego centric, and all too aware of the fleeting nature of life. He was also a tutor of Nero, a dramatist, philosopher, slave owner, etc. But his essay-like letters - by turns glib and medatative - reveal a man struggling to make sense of a world of power, wealth and abundance, oestensibly ruled by reason, suffused with uncertainty and enveloped in paganism. He was also no doubt polishing his image for future generations. Nonetheless, he talks of god and spirituality, and the early Christians were said to have valued his wisdom. I've read this two or three times. Each time I've given it away to a friend. Once you read it, you'll go back to it again and again. His maxims are famous. His commonsense advice still rings true.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A fine balance between idealism and pragmatism. 26. Juni 2000
Von Ein Kunde
Format:Taschenbuch
In this great book Seneca answers several of the questions we face in todays world. His answers seem to be as revelant today as they were in the 4th Century B.C. The reviews on the back cover are perfectly accurate in suggesting the Seneca can be credited with "... spiritualizing and humanising..." a system that can be sometimes viewed as harsh. A must read, to help resolve some of the inevitable conflicts that modern man/society are faced with.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen If you haven't read Seneca... 15. Dezember 2013
Von Kai
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
An introduction to stoicism through the eyes of Seneca. This book opened my eyes to an alternative way of perceiving the world and living with accepting what comes along (not every thing, but you learn how much one can really bear if one just stops complaining). This book is about philosophy and life. I would recommend it.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  59 Rezensionen
168 von 172 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Common Sense, Roman Decadence, and the Meaning of Life 28. Juli 1999
Von jroszak@kqed.org - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
The first time I read this book I was amazed and excited, and entering middle age. Seneca's thoughts on the human condition seemed like they could have been written today. Except for some dated Roman references, here is a man trying to define how to live, in what we today would call "the secular society." The series of letters reads like a personal guidebook to ethics. It still speaks to us across the centuries. Seneca was priveleged, ego centric, and all too aware of the fleeting nature of life. He was also a tutor of Nero, a dramatist, philosopher, slave owner, etc. But his essay-like letters - by turns glib and medatative - reveal a man struggling to make sense of a world of power, wealth and abundance, oestensibly ruled by reason, suffused with uncertainty and enveloped in paganism. He was also no doubt polishing his image for future generations. Nonetheless, he talks of god and spirituality, and the early Christians were said to have valued his wisdom. I've read this two or three times. Each time I've given it away to a friend. Once you read it, you'll go back to it again and again. His maxims are famous. His commonsense advice still rings true.
166 von 173 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen The unmannerly guest or Penguin butchers a classic author once again. 8. August 2010
Von greg taylor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
This will not be a review about Seneca. I suppose I will attempt that one day once I manage to go thru my library's Loeb Classical Library edition of Seneca's Epistles.
The purpose of this review is to bellyache about the Penguin Classics' edition of this work. I come not to criticize this translation. I have no Latin. For all I know it is brilliant.
What I am here to criticize is the decision to edit Seneca's work all to Tartarus and back. There are 124 Letters in Seneca's Epistles. Campbell gives you 40. Or just over 32%! Campbell's criteria as to which letters to present is a personal one. He evaluated their interest and whether or not they were repetitive. His is admittedly charming in his own defense on this issue. He quotes Roger L'Estrange (another anthologist of Seneca's) from 1673 to the effect that anyone who complains about the selection is an unmannerly guest who eats at his host's table and then critiques the meal. I embrace this description. I may well use The Unmannerly Guest as my nom de plume for my reviews from now on.
Here is my problem. All too often the editors or translators of the Penguin Classic editions decide that they know better than the ancient author what is valuable about the work for today's reader. Their Plutarch is one such travesty. Their edition of Polybius is another. What makes it more confusing is they can get it right sometime, as with their edition of Livy.
I think they are really missing their chance here. The Penguin Classics series is the perfect publishing series for modern and complete editions of ancient authors presented in their original form as much as is possible.
Let us look at how personal Campbell's choice is. I happen to be reading The Roman Stoics: Self, Responsibility, and Affection by Gretchen Reydams-Schils. She happens to cite 185 passages from Seneca's Epistles during the course of her book. Because I am The Unmannerly Guest, I took it upon myself to count up how many of those passages were not in Campbell's selection. 122 of the 185 or just over 65%. In other words, she made as much use of the letters Campbell did not publish as those he did. His choices were no more representative of Seneca's thought to Reydams-Schils than the letters he rejected.
Here's another way to look at it. Seneca was writing about a philosophy to be lived. Not a system of thought but a guide to behavior. It is inevitable that such a guide would be repetitive. The same sort of issues, of temptations, of annoyances come up again day after day with slight variations (e.g.,anyone trying to raise courteous children knows what I mean). Repetition in an author dealing with such a guide is to be expected; indeed, it is to be appreciated as helpful. It takes time to learn how to live.
I think we ought to take old Seneca and Plato and Augustine and Machiavelli and Locke and so on seriously. When we read them we should try to sink into their way of living not just their way of thinking about that life. Only then can we evaluate how much they speak to us.
The Penguin Classics, accordingly to this Unmannerly Guest, do not help us in this endeavor. And the fact that they have chosen to present us with a highlighted tour of ancients like Seneca and Polybius is a betrayal of the original mission of the series which was to make the classics easily available to the masses. I speak for those masses as much as anyone. And I say, give me the whole da*@ book. Let me be the one to make the editing decisions.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Stoicism - - a modern philosophy 25. Februar 2006
Von Martin H. Dickinson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
Stoicism has been much misunderstood, and the adjective "stoic," which loosely can be taken to mean bearing up under duress, is partly correct but does not do justice to one of the world's great philosophies. This Penguin volume presents a great selection from the letters of Seneca, which hits all the high points of the philosophy and captures Seneca's remarkable personality, which has made him a hit with the cognoscenti for 2,000 years. Few perhaps realize that the Stoics postulated a great commonwealth governed by law, or that they idealized democracy. Seneca mentions Solon the lawgiver as the creator of democracy and refers numerous times to the Roman Stoic saint, Cato, who strove mightily (and unsuccessfully) to preserve the Roman Republic.

Seneca, like other Stoics, has a doctrine of nature that is remarkably close to that of Emerson or modern American environmentalists. The wise man (sapiens) will never be bored when contemplating the simple things of nature. The natural beauty of the countryside and the healthful action of the waves can have a calming effect (although there's a memorable passage in which a storm causes terrible sea sickness). He also believed in the simple and strenuous life and the avoidance of luxury and decadence, and there are numerous passages in these letters to his disciple, Lucilius, which decry the ostentatious, self indulgent practices of his contemporaries. These are sentiments and ideas adopted by many in the modern world, including President Theodore Roosevelt. Seneca has no patience for philosophy as a word game or a practice of engaging in hair-splitting arguments for their own sake. He rather sees it as a practice or way of life that all those who seek the good should investigate and adopt. While the Stoics believed in democracy and republicanism, their doctrine of freedom is different from the modern idea of Liberty. Freedom was the ability to endure and pursue the good even under tyranny. While that may be admirable, modern commentators on liberty (such as Isaiah Berlin) have pointed out that defining down the range of one's actions is not a satisfactory solution to the problem of the absence of liberty in society or the world.

No stranger to power himself, Seneca virtually ruled Rome as tutor of the boy Nero--and yet he adopts a quite believable stance of simplicity and humility. It's a good bet these letters will still be found absorbing by readers for another 2,000 years.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A VERY MODERN VERY OLD AND SAGE STOIC 1. März 2002
Von Luciano Lupini - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This book is the fundamental vademecum for every day life. No person that I know has left this book suffer the dust and the quiet tranquillity that any other philosophy book enjoy in a library. This letters contain all the wisdom and the poise to enable any inquisitive soul to aquire selfcontrol, to endure with dignity the burdens of misfortune, to take success and fame with humbleness and cynicism, to prepare with serenity to die. Finally, to consider the end of life with the detachment of someone who has used well a precious object, without contracting the disease of jealousy.
This is a very easily readable book, and it was written by Seneca in the last four years of his life (62-65 A.D.). In my opinion is the masterpiece of his moral philosophy.
Seneca's literary style was criticized by his contemporaries for its fragmentary and non-classic hues, and it is truly very modern. Caligula defined it as "sand without lime". St. Augustine in his City of God, in a reference to his contradictions, criticized the fact that this man who almost achieved real freedom through philosophy, pursued what he criticized, did what he loathed and inculpated what he adored. AND WHAT DOES MODERN MAN DO? Maybe we must admit that Seneca lived a life full of contradictions, triumphs and failures but he never truly believed in the roles that he had to play and he was always ready to detach himself from material things, devoid of illusions but also of bitterness.
That is why his work has survived the ages and has been celebrated for his modernity. I would say that his teachings are atemporal, and this is the best tribute to him. Maybe this is why
his letters were the bedside book of Montaigne. And mine.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Seneca, the Stoic Saint 24. Februar 2009
Von Ryan C. Holiday - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
I tore this book to pieces. My copy is overflowing with tabbed pages and highlighted lines and notes in the margins. Seneca of course, is a fascinating figure. Gregory Hays once said about Marcus Aurelius that "not being a tyrant was something he had to work at one day at a time" and often, Seneca lost that battle. He was the Cardinal Richelieu behind Nero. He sat back and enjoyed the spoils of his student who had clearly lost his way--at least Aristotle didn't profit from Alexander's lust for power. However, there is some interesting evidence put forth in a paper titled - Seneca: The Case of the Opulent Stoic in which Lydia Motto presents that what we know of Seneca's reputation comes almost entirely from a single, less than objective source. And in fact, if we can trust the way in which Seneca faced his forced suicide there was not much difference between practice and philosophy.

The book is profoundly insightful, it calls you to action, and it has that 'quit your whining--this is life' attitude that so defines the Roman Stoics. This is by no means an all inclusive list but is Seneca on some important topics:

On doing more than consuming:
He should be delivering himself of such sayings, not memorizing them. It is disgraceful that a man who is old or in sight of old age should have wisdom deriving solely from his notebook. 'Zeno said this.' And what have you said? 'Cleanthes said that.' What have you said? How much longer are you going to serve under others? Assume authority over yourself and utter something that may be handed down to posterity. Produce something from your own resources.

On endurance:
Life's no soft affair. It's a long road you've started on: you can't but expect to have slips and knocks and falls, and get tired and openly wish--a lie--for death.

On freedom from perturbation:
Show me a man who isn't a slave; one who is a slave to sex, another to money, another to ambition; all are slaves to hope or fear. I could show you a man who has been a Consul who is a slave to his 'little old woman', a millionaire who is the slave of a little girl in domestic service. And there is no state of slavery more disgraceful than one which is self-imposed.

On quoting what you read:
There is no enjoying the possession of anything valuable unless one has someone to share it with. I shall send you, accordingly, the actual books themselves, and to save you a lot of trouble hunting all over the place for passages likely to be of use to you, I shall mark the passages so that you can turn straight away to the words I approve and admire."
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