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Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius are the ripest work of this author, the most perfect mirror of his rich mind, his experiences of life and his deep knowledge of men, his resolute struggle for moral sincerity and inner freedom.
The collection of 124 „Letters to Lucilius“ starts in a subtle didactic leadership from the ‚minor virtues’, for example friendship, modesty, social togetherness and private humanity – one letter became famous because of Seneca’s plea for human treatment of the slaves,  who are said by him to be humans, not machines.  Then follow more extensive letters, about the art of dying and the merits of education and demerits of philological pedantry; whatever has no relationship to the conduct of life, is a harmful  waste of time. At the end of the collection stand the letters expanding to essays on questions of hellenistic philosophy, e.g. the cardinal virtues, the true rhetoric and poetry, and the Stoic definition of good.
Seneca is one of the greatest masters of Latin language. Continuous self-observation enabled him to express  the slightest emotions of inner life by subtle distinctions. His style is rich with figures and metaphors, brilliant, not seldom satirical, sometimes even to the point of wounding sarcasm. His sense of humor often appears in the lovely  form of self-mocking. His contemporaries admired him, above all, as a writer, the Church Fathers and the medieval readers, as a moralist. 
Seneca’s philosophical letters rank as one of the best works of Roman literature in general, whoever appreciates excellent Latin phrasing, here can find what he seeks. Again and again the reader encounters phrases which can be taken out from the text as brilliant and timeless aphorisms. No wonder, that there seems no end to publishing Seneca anthologies which are recently very fashionable, e.g. one can find titles like „Seneca for Manager“, „Seneca’s ways to inner freedom“, „Seneca for Distressed Persons“, „Seneca for Contemporaries“.
Rome, one says, has borne only two philosophers. Cicero brought philosophy to the Romans, Seneca raised Roman philosophy to life. The influence of both authors on the development of the western  mind is immeasurable.

First book: SEN.epist.I 

Letter 1: Seneca begins his collection with a demand to Lucilius: Set yourself free for your own sake! His friend and disciple should free himself  from unimportant businesses in order to gain time for philosophy. The time, says he, is the only one true possession of a human, and just that he handles thoughtlessly. Every day brings one nearer to death, so Seneca means the whole life is dieing. Therefore one should to be sparing with time, every day without philosophy is a lost day. – Letter 2:  If you are reading, Seneca means, you should know: Not many, but much!  Lucilius shouldn’t read indiscriminately, but should restrict himself to the best authors, and read them often. – Letter 3: How should one choose friends, and what may one entrust to them? Seneca advices: First test them , first be cautious and distrustful, then trust them, not vice versa. Nobody can be a true friend, to whom you cannot entrust everything. – Letter 4: How can I achieve calmness, how can I live without fear? Seneca’s answer: by not over-esteeming the importance of your life. – Letter 5:  To philosophize is not to be unworldly. The philosopher shouldn’t become alienated from his neighbours by his appearance and his manners. He should win other people for philosophy, not to deter from it. – Letter 6:  One can learn philosophy more by examples than by instructions. The great philosophers all have had more effect by their personality, by their exemplary life than by their teaching. Beside of that, Lucilius should not only learn from Seneca, he should also help him to get knowledges: they should one annother lead to philosophical recognitions. – letter 7: „Flee the crowd!“ Seneca describes very insistently the mood of spectators during a gladiator’s contest. The nerves of most modern spectators would not stand the sight of such games. It is really shocking by which cheers the public spurred the gladiators: "Kill him! Lash him! Burn him! Why does he meet the sword so timidly? Why doesn't he kill boldly? Why doesn't he die game?“ -  The discussions about the brutalization of modern sports and the dangers of violence in the modern mass media show that Seneca’s thoughts in this regard are timeless and of topical interest. He, anyway, didn’t doubt that violent shows are harmful: „I have experienced a gladiator’s contest...So I returned more cruel and more inhuman“. – Letter 8:  The eigth letter explains that the secluded, all superfluous renouncing life of the philosopher is the only true life. „Believe me, (the philosopher) seems to do nothing, but he does higher things: he carries on the matter of both the gods and the humans“, - and he cites Epicurus – he had no philosophical arch enemies, provided that they taught well: „You must be of service to philosophy in order to get the true freedom“. – Letter 9: Does the wise man need friends, asks Lucilius his teacher. The wise man, Seneca answers, enjoys friendship, he seeks it, but he can abstain from it, if he has lost it by fate. The true and only values cannot be taken from him: his virtues. – Letter 10:  The unexperienced men should not be leaved alone with their thoughts. But Lucilius is an advanced student, he may philosophize lonely. – Letter 11:  No human can overcome the nature, even the wise man can’t do that. Seneca demonstrates that by the example of blushing because of shyness and embarrassment. The changing of face colour cannot be controlled by the will, neither it can be effected nor prevented.- Letter 12: The burden of old age. A humorous transition to the subject: Seneca visits his country house, notices some damages on the building and the trees, sees a very weak slave unable to work, first reproaches the manager of his estate of being negligent, until he realizes that the cause of all the observed damages is the age of his country house, of the trees and of the slave. The country house got old with Seneca himself, he gets conscious of his own age by considering the house. Seneca describes humorously his own  helplessness and lack of understanding. Then he  advises Lucilius to win from the age some positive aspects, even, to like it, because it can make the humans calmer. Every evening an old man should be happy about the past day as about a gain, and to see coming the next day intrepidly. –
2 CDs audio-file, 88 min.
ISBN 3-938905-26-3
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