Roman philosophy, anyone? Let’s talk about fear


I was reading through an old essay that I wrote for one of my college writing classes and I came across this quote from the philosopher, Seneca. While it is unnecessarily long to include in a six page paper, I remember not being able to pick just a portion of it because it lost its beauty and its meaning when I tried shortening it. Also, and more importantly for my paper, it illustrated my point so well (my paper analyzed the idea of fear). Take a minute to read through this paragraph nice and slow. Not many people write with such beauty and grace. If Seneca’s paragraph was a person, I think it would be floating with perfection. I don’t know why, but I still find it to be amazingly profound. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I do!

“Your mind can rise superior to the accidents of life, if it can raise itself above fears and not greedily covet boundless wealth, but has learned to seek for riches within itself; if it has cast out the fear of men and gods, and has learned that it has not much to fear from man, and nothing to fear from God; if by scorning all those things which make life miserable while they adorn it, the mind can soar to such a height as to see clearly that death cannot be the beginning of any trouble, though it is the end of many; if it can dedicate itself to righteousness and think any path easy which leads to it; if, being a gregarious creature, and born for the common good, it regards the world as the universal home, if it keeps its conscience clear towards God and lives always as though in public, fearing itself more than other men, then it avoids all storms, it stands on firm ground in fair daylight, and has brought to perfection its knowledge of all that is useful and essential.”

From L. Annaeus Seneca On Benefits, Book VII

To me, Seneca is saying that if you are honest and true, you have no reason to fear men, God, or death. By fearing only yourself, you can lead a happy life.

xxx Jedidiah


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