Seneca's On the Firmness of the Wise Person

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A series of short audio meditations on Seneca’s take on the concept of the Stoic sage.

I: “But the way by which we are asked to climb is steep and uneven.” What then? Can heights be reached by a level path? Yet they are not so sheer and precipitous as some think.

II: “For Cato did not outlive freedom, nor did freedom outlive Cato.” On the Stoic conception of suicide.

III: Invulnerable is not that which is never struck, but that which is never wounded. In this class I will show you the wise person.

V: Fortune can take nothing away save what she gave. Now fortune does not give virtue; therefore she does not take it away.

VI: Bear adversity with calm and prosperity with moderation, neither yielding to the former nor trusting to the latter.

VII: Seneca argues that Cato the Younger was a sage, but a modern biography casts some doubt on that. Do sages ever walk the earth? Who would you put forth as your favorite candidate?

IX: Wise persons are without anger, which is caused by the appearance of injury. And they could not be free from anger unless they were also free from injury, which they know cannot be done to them.

XIII: The wise man will not admire himself even if many rich men admire him; for he knows that they differ in no respect from beggars — nay, are even more wretched than they; for beggars want but a little, whereas rich men want a great deal.

XIV: When insulted, Cato did not flare up and revenge the outrage, he did not even pardon it, but ignored it, showing more magnanimity in not acknowledging it than if he had forgiven it.

XVI: Do these things befall me deservedly or undeservedly? If deservedly, it is not an insult, but a judicial sentence; if undeservedly, then he who does injustice ought to blush, not I.

XVII: It is a sort of revenge to spoil a man’s enjoyment of the insult he has offered to us … the success of an insult lies in the sensitiveness and rage of the victim.

XIX: Freedom consists in raising one’s mind superior to injuries and becoming a person whose pleasures come from himself alone.

XIX: All things happen in a more endurable fashion to people who are prepared for them.