By Seneca, C. D. N. Costa
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Additional info for Dialogues and Letters
All his reading and reflections combined to form the amalgam of high moral principle and self-aware, practical common sense that is the essence of his teaching. We do not know how much Lucilius and Seneca’s other addressees needed the lessons, but they are among the most memorably formulated doctrines that have come down to us from the ancient world. LATER REPUTATION AND INFLUENCE As we have already seen, Seneca enjoyed great popularity and influence in later European literature through both his prose and his verse.
Pass on from those whose lovely and convenient position attracts large numbers, and review deserted places and rocky islands,2 Sciathus and Seriphus, Gyara and Cossura: you will find no place of exile where somebody does not linger because he wants to. What could be found so bare and with such a steep drop on every side as this rock? What more barren regarding its resources? What more savage regarding its people? What more rugged regarding its geography? What more intemperate regarding its climate?
Letter 57 takes an episode in Seneca’s own life, an unpleasant journey through a tunnel, as a trigger for reflections on the sorts of irrational shocks and fears which even the bravest people suffer, and these reflections lead on to a declaration of the soul’s immortality. Letter 79 shows us Lucilius making a tour of Sicily, and Seneca using this as an excuse to ask him for physical details of the fearsome whirlpool Charybdis. Seneca goes on to suggest that Lucilius might consider writing a poetic account of Mount Etna: this leads to a discussion of literary emulation, and that in turn to the question of rivalry in wisdom and virtue.