Friday, December 23, 2011

Sissyness Vs Courage

There's a minor difference but an important difference. Both personalities are obsessed with Randomness, the only difference being, that sissies are afraid of randomness and someone with courage looks at randomness in the eye. Leaving political innuendos aside, it reminds me of the hanging of Saddam Hussein, who looked at fate in the eye and did not blink when he was hanged. What could be worse than to look at people abusing you when you are about to die, but he did not blink. There is something terribly attractive about such a death, it has the power to wash away your past sins and make you immortal.

Bhutto was another one of these anti-sissy souls. Who met his fate with courage and a sense of bravado. The man had committed many sins, but his death immortalized him. Three generations down the line, people still chant slogans like "zinda hae bhutto zinda hae" (translation: Bhutto still lives, Bhutto still lives).

Never live like a sissy and never be two faced. Their should be no contradiction between your private and your public life. You have the right to hide your private affairs and your private opinions, but you have no right to contradict your private affairs and opinions in you public life. That requires courage. 

Now some ideas on leadership. Business schools are obsessed with imparting skills to leaders, honing their presentation and personalities, failing to realize that leadership has nothing to with the outward or the apparent. It has everything to do with belief.

"A leader is someone who does not come up with a new idea, but he is the first one to believe in that idea, and whose belief is so strong and so blind, that he is the first one to suffer because of his belief"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seneca on Being FREE and WISE

A completely free man, prays in secret that which he prays openly, there is no difference between his private and his public life, he has nothing to hide, not even his innermost desires.

That which is given by chance, is not really yours. So approach good fortune with a lot of apprehension, and be very afraid of anything that is given serendipitously. For every good thing, hides with it an equal, if not greater, harm. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sheikh Saadi: The Poet and the Stoic

Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī (Persian: ابومحمد مصلح الدین بن عبدالله شیرازی) better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī (Persian: سعدی) or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources. He is recognized for the quality of his writings, and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts.



[edit] Biography

A native of Shiraz, his father died when he was an infant. Saadi experienced a youth of poverty and hardship, and left his native town at a young age for Baghdad to pursue a better education. As a young man he was inducted to study at the famous an-Nizzāmīya center of knowledge (1195–1226), where he excelled in Islamic Sciences, law, governance, history, Arabic literature and theology.
The unsettled conditions following the Mongol invasion of Khwarezm and Iran led him to wander for 30 years abroad through Anatolia (he visited the Port of Adana, and near Konya he met proud Ghazi landlords), Syria (he mentions the famine in Damascus), Egypt (of its music and Bazaars its clerics and elite class), and Iraq (the port of Basra and the Tigris river). He also refers in his work about his travels in Sindh (Pakistan across the Indus and Thar with a Turkic Amir named Tughral), India (especially Somnath where he encountered Brahmans) and Central Asia (where he meets the survivors of the Mongol invasion in Khwarezm).
He also performed the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and also visited Jerusalem.[1] Saadi traveled through war wrecked regions from 1271 to 1294. Due to Mongol invasions he lived in desolate areas and met caravans fearing for their lives on once lively silk trade routes. Saadi lived in isolated refugee camps where he met bandits, Imams, men who formerly owned great wealth or commanded armies, intellectuals, and ordinary people. While Mongol and European sources (such as Marco Polo) gravitated to the potentates and courtly life of Ilkhanate rule, Saadi mingled with the ordinary survivors of the war-torn region. He sat in remote teahouses late into the night and exchanged views with merchants, farmers, preachers, wayfarers, thieves, and Sufi mendicants. For twenty years or more, he continued the same schedule of preaching, advising, and learning, honing his sermons to reflect the wisdom and foibles of his people. Saadi's works reflects upon the lives of ordinary Iranians suffering displacement, plight, agony and conflict, during the turbulent times of Mongol invasion.
Saadi was also among those who witnessed first-hand accounts of Baghdad's destruction by Mongol Ilkhanate invaders led by Hulagu during the year 1258. Saadi was captured by Crusaders at Acre where he spent 7 years as a slave digging trenches outside its fortress. He was later released after the Mamluks paid ransom for Muslim prisoners being held in Crusader dungeons.
When he reappeared in his native Shiraz he was an elderly man. Shiraz, under Atabak Abubakr Sa'd ibn Zangy (1231–60) was enjoying an era of relative tranquility. Saadi was not only welcomed to the city but was respected highly by the ruler and enumerated among the greats of the province. In response, Saadi took his nom de plume from the name of the local prince, Sa'd ibn Zangi. Some of Saadi's most famous panegyrics were composed an initial gesture of gratitude in praise of the ruling house, and placed at the beginning of his Bustan. The remainder of Saadi's life seems to have been spent in Shiraz.

[edit] The Journey of Saadi Shirazi

Due to the Mongol Empire invasion of the Muslim World, especially Khwarizm and Iran, Saadi like many other Muslims was displaced by the ensuing conflict thus beginning a 30 year journey. He first took refuge at Damascus and witnessed the famine in one of the most efficient cities of the world. After the frightful Sack of Baghdad in 1258 by Hulegu and the Ilkhanate Horde, Saadi visited Jerusalem and then set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.
Saadi then visits Mamluk Egypt, of Sultan Baibars. He mentions the Qadis, Muftis of Al-Azhar, the grand Bazaar, music and art. At Halab Saadi joins a group of Sufis who had fought arduous battles with the Crusaders. Further Saadi travels to Turkey first the mentions the port city of Adana and the wealthy Ghazi landowners in Anatolia.
Saadi mentions Honey-gatherers in Azerbaijan, fearful of Mongol plunder. Saadi finally returns to Iran where he meets his childhood companions in Isfahan and other cities. At Khorasan Saadi befriends a Turkic Emir named Tughral. Saadi joins him and his men on their journey to Sindh there he met Pir Puttur a follower of the Persian Sufi grand master Shaikh Usman Marvandvi (1117–1274)[2], Saadi then traveled across the Indus River and when they reach the Thar Desert, Tughral hires Hindu sentinels. Tughral later enters service of the wealthy Delhi Sultanate and Saadi is invited to Delhi and later visits the Vizier of Gujarat. During his stay in Gujarat Saadi learns more of the Hindus and visits the large temple of Somnath; Saadi flees the temple due to an unpleasant encounter with the Brahmans.
Soon after Saadi returns to his native Shiraz and earns the patronage of its leaders.

[edit] His works

The first page of Bostan, from an Indian manuscript.
His best known works are Bostan ("The Orchard") completed in 1257 and Gulistan ("The Rose Garden") in 1258. Bostan is entirely in verse (epic metre) and consists of stories aptly illustrating the standard virtues recommended to Muslims (justice, liberality, modesty, contentment) as well as of reflections on the behaviour of dervishes and their ecstatic practices. Gulistan is mainly in prose and contains stories and personal anecdotes. The text is interspersed with a variety of short poems, containing aphorisms, advice, and humorous reflections. Saadi demonstrates a profound awareness of the absurdity of human existence. The fate of those who depend on the changeable moods of kings is contrasted with the freedom of the dervishes.
Saadi is also remembered as a panegyrist and lyricist, the author of a number of odes portraying human experience, and also of particular odes such as the lament on the fall of Baghdad after the Mongol invasion in 1258. His lyrics are found in Ghazaliyat ("Lyrics") and his odes in Qasa'id ("Odes"). He is also known for a number of works in Arabic.
Of the Mongols he writes:
In Isfahan I had a friend who was warlike, spirited, and shrewd. His hands and dagger were forever stained with blood. The hearts of his enemies were consumed by fear of him; even the tigers stood in awe of him. In battle he was like a sparrow among locusts; but in combat,
"after long I met him: O tiger-seizer!" I exclaimed, "what has made thee decrepit like an old fox?"
He laughed and said: "Since the days of war against the Mongols, I have expelled the thoughts of fighting from my head. Then did I see the earth arrayed with spears like a forest of reeds. I raised like smoke the dust of conflict; but when Fortune does not favour, of what avail is fury? I am one who, in combat, could take with a spear a ring from the palm of the hand; but, as my star did not befriend me, they encircled me as with a ring. I seized the opportunity of flight, for only a fool strives with Fate. How could my helmet and cuirass aid me when my bright star favoured me not? When the key of victory is not in the hand, no one can break open the door of conquest with his arms.[3]
"The enemy were a pack of leopards, and as strong as elephants. The heads of the heroes were encased in iron, as were also the hoofs of the horses. We urged on our Arab steeds like a cloud, and when the two armies encountered each other thou wouldst have said they had struck the sky down to the earth. From the raining of arrows, that descended like hail, the storm of death arose in every corner. Not one of our troops came out of the battle but his cuirass was soaked with blood. Not that our swords were blunt—it was the vengeance of stars of ill fortune. Overpowered, we surrendered, like a fish which, though protected by scales, is caught by the hook in the bait. Since Fortune averted her face, useless was our shield against the arrows of Fate."[4]
Alexander Pushkin, one of Russia's most celebrated poets, quotes Saadi in his masterpiece Eugene Onegin:[5]
as Saadi sang in earlier ages,
"some are far distant, some are dead".
Saadi distinguished between the spiritual and the practical or mundane aspects of life. In his Bostan, for example, spiritual Saadi uses the mundane world as a spring board to propel himself beyond the earthly realms. The images in Bostan are delicate in nature and soothing. In the Gulistan, on the other hand, mundane Saadi lowers the spiritual to touch the heart of his fellow wayfarers. Here the images are graphic and, thanks to Saadi's dexterity, remain concrete in the reader's mind. Realistically, too, there is a ring of truth in the division. The Sheikh preaching in the Khanqah experiences a totally different world than the merchant passing through a town. The unique thing about Saadi is that he embodies both the Sufi Sheikh and the travelling merchant. They are, as he himself puts it, two almond kernels in the same shell.
Saadi's prose style, described as "simple but impossible to imitate" flows quite naturally and effortlessly. Its simplicity, however, is grounded in a semantic web consisting of synonymy, homophony, and oxymoron buttressed by internal rhythm and external rhyme something that Dr. Iraj Bashiri quite skillfully captures in his translation of the Prologue of the work:

"In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Laudation is due the most High, the most Glorious, Whose worship bridges the Gap and Whose recognition breeds beneficence. Each breath inhaled sustains life, exhaled imparts rejuvenation. Two blessings in every breath, each due a separate salutation.
Whose hand properly offers and whose tongue,
The salutation due Him, and not be wrong?
Says He: "Ingratiate yourself, O family of David,
Unlike the unthankful, that I thee bid!"
Subjects proper, best admit to all transgression,
At His threshold, with contrite expression;
How otherwise could mortal creatures ever,
Make themselves worthy of His discretion?
The shower of His merciful bounty gratifies all, and His banquet of limitless generosity recognizes no fall. The inner secrets of His subjects, He does not divulge, nor does He, for a rogue's slight frailty, in injustice indulge.
O generosity personified!
To the Christian and the Magi,
You bestow with pleasure,
From Your invisible treasure.
O ardent benefactor!
You will lift Your friends high,
There is solid proof of that,
Not abandoning enemies to die!
He has ordered the zephyr to cover, with the emerald carpet of spring, the earth; and He has instructed the maternal vernal clouds to nourish the seeds of autumn to birth. In foliage green, He has clothed the trees, and through beautiful blossoms of many hues, has perfumed the breeze. He has allowed the life-imparting sap to percolate and its delicious honey to circulate. His power is hidden in the tiny seed that sires the lofty palm.
The clouds, the wind, the moon, and the sun,
For your comfort, and at your behest, run;
They toil continuously for your satisfaction,
Should not you halt, monitor your action?"

Saadi's mausoleum in Shiraz
Tomb of Saadi in his mausoleum
Chief among these works is Goethe's West-Oestlicher Divan. Andre du Ryer was the first European to present Saadi to the West, by means of a partial French translation of Gulistan in 1634. Adam Olearius followed soon with a complete translation of the Bustan and the Gulistan into German in 1654.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was also an avid fan of Sadi's writings, contributing to some translated editions himself. Emerson, who read Saadi only in translation, compared his writing to the Bible in terms of its wisdom and the beauty of its narrative.[6]
Saadi is well known for his aphorisms, the most famous of which, Bani Adam, calls for breaking all barriers:[7]

بنى آدم اعضای یک پیکرند[8][9][10] که در آفرینش ز یک گوهرند
چو عضوى به درد آورد روزگار دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
تو کز محنت دیگران بی غمی نشاید که نامت نهند آدمی
The poem is translated by M. Aryanpoor as:
Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you've no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain!
by H. Vahid Dastjerdi as:[11]
Adam's sons are body limbs, to say;
For they're created of the same clay.
Should one organ be troubled by pain,
Others would suffer severe strain.
Thou, careless of people's suffering,
Deserve not the name, "human being".
and the last translation by Dr. Iraj Bashiri:[12]
Of One Essence is the Human Race,
Thusly has Creation put the Base.
One Limb impacted is sufficient,
For all Others to feel the Mace.
The Unconcern'd with Others' Plight,
Are but Brutes with Human Face.
The translations above are attempts to preserve the rhyme scheme of the original while translating into English, but may distort the meaning. What follows is an attempt at a more literal translation of the original Persian:
"Human beings (children of Adam) are the parts of a body,
They are from the same species,
When one of these parties is reached and suffering,
Others can not find neither peace nor tranquility,
If the misery of others leaves you indifferent,
And without any trouble! Then:
It is unthinkable to call yourself a human being[13]. "

[edit] More about Saadi

In his reference article entitled as Moments with Poet Saadai, Dr Saadat Noury wrote that, "Saadi died in his hometown of Shiraz. Even from the very early days after the poet's death, the tomb of Saadi in Shiraz became a place of pilgrimage to lovers of poetry and literature. The tomb was firstly renovated during Karim Khan Zand (1750-1779), and it was then greatly elaborated in 1952 during Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1941-1979). "The tomb of Saadi of Shiraz will scent of love, even a thousand years after his death". That line of poetry composed by Saadi, inscribed on the gate leading into the garden surrounding the tomb, welcomes all those who enter to pay homage to this master of the Persian Poetry and Literature".

[edit] Obama and Saadi

U.S. President Barack Obama quoted Saadi's Gulistan in a videotaped Nowruz (New Year's) greeting to the Iranian people in March 2009: "There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences. But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago: 'The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence.'"[14]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Full text of Eugene Onegin is available here.
  6. ^ Milani, A. Lost Wisdom. 2004. Washington. ISBN 0934211906 p.39
  7. ^ From Gulistan Saadi. chapter 1, story 10
  8. ^ گلستان سعدی، باب اول، تصحیح محمدعلی فروغی
  9. ^ گلستان سعدی، باب اول، تصحیح محمدعلی فروغی
  10. ^ گلستان سعدی، باب اول
  11. ^ [Vahid Dastjerdi, H. 2006, East of Sophia (Mashriq-e-Ma'rifat). Qom: Ansariyan.]
  12. ^ [1] Iraj Bashiri's A Brief Note on the Life of Shaykh Muslih al-Din Sa'di Shirazi
  13. ^ M. A. Oraizi, La Culpabilité Américaine : Assault contre l'Empire du Droit International Public, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2005, p. 8.
  14. ^ Cowell, Alan (2009-03-20). "Obama and Israeli Leader Make Taped Appeals to Iran". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-20. 

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • W.M. Thackston. The Gulistan of Sa'di. (Bilingual. English translation, Persian text on facing page). 2008. ISBN 978-1-58814058-6
  • Homa Katouzian, Sa'di, the Poet of Life, Love and Compassion (A comprehensive study of Sa'di and his works). 2006. ISBN 1851684735
  • G.M Wikens, The Bustan of Sheikh Moslehedin Saadi Shirarzi (English translation and the Persian original). 1985. Iranian National Commission for Unesco, No. 46
  • E.G. Browne. Literary History of Persia. (Four volumes, 2,256 pages, and twenty-five years in the writing). 1998. ISBN 0-7007-0406-X
  • Jan Rypka, History of Iranian Literature. Reidel Publishing Company. 1968 OCLC 460598. ISBN 90-277-0143-1
  • Persian Language & Literature: Saadi Shirazi

[edit] External links

  • The Bustan of Saadi, English translation, 74 p., Iran Chamber Society (PDF).
  • The Golestan of Saadi, translated by Richard Francis Burton, 213 p., Iran Chamber Society (PDF).
  • Golestan Saadi, the complete work, in Persian (ParsTech). This work can be freely downloaded (File size, compiled in pdf format: 485 KB).

Seneca and Anger

Seneca The Younger: The Ultimate Stoic

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca) (ca. 4 BC – 65 AD) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was later forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, the last of the Julio-Claudian emperors, he may have been innocent.[1][2] His father was Seneca the Elder and his elder brother was Gallio.



[edit] Biography

Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born in Cordoba, in the Baetica, the southern highly romanized province of Spain. One of his revisionist modern biographers, however, Miriam Griffin says in her biography of Seneca[3] that "the evidence for Seneca's life before his exile in 41 is so slight, and the potential interest of these years, for social history as well as for biography, is so great that few writers on Seneca have resisted the temptation to eke out knowledge with imagination." Griffin also states, apparently inferring from ancient sources, that Seneca was born in either 8, 4, or 1 BC. She thinks he was born between 4 and 1 BC and was resident in Rome by 5 AD. Seneca says that he was carried to Rome in the arms of his mother's stepsister.[4] Griffin says that, allowing for rhetorical exaggeration, means "it is fair to conclude that Seneca was in Rome as a very small boy." Be that as it may, it is clear that he was in Rome at a relatively early stage in his life.
His family was from Cordoba in Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) and, like his father, Lucius Annaeus Seneca "the elder," he was born there. According to Griffin, the family originally probably came from Etruria or the "area further east towards Illyria."
He was the second son of Helvia and Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the wealthy rhetorician known as Seneca the Elder. His older brother, Gallio, became proconsul in the Roman province of Achaea. His younger brother Annaeus Mela's son was Marcus Annaeus Lucanus.
At Rome he was trained in rhetoric and was introduced to Hellenistic Stoic philosophy by Attalus and Sotion. Seneca's own writings describe his poor health. At some stage he was nursed by his aunt; as she was in Egypt from 16 to 31 AD, he must have at least visited and perhaps lived there for a period.
Seneca and his aunt returned to Rome in 31, and she helped him in his campaign for his first magistracy.
Caligula began his first year as emperor in 38, and there was a severe conflict between him and Seneca; the emperor is said to have spared his life only because he expected Seneca's natural life to be near its end.
In 41, Claudius succeeded Caligula, and then, at the behest of his third wife Valeria Messalina, banished Seneca to Corsica on a charge of adultery with Caligula's sister Julia Livilla. Seneca spent his exile in philosophical and natural study (a life counseled by Roman Stoic thought) and wrote the Consolations, fulfilling a request for the text made by his sons for the sake of posterity. In 49, Claudius' fourth wife Agrippina the Younger had Seneca recalled to Rome to tutor her son Nero, then 12 years old; on Claudius' death in 54, she secured recognition of Nero, rather than Claudius' son Britannicus, as emperor.
From 54 to 62, Seneca acted as Nero's advisor, together with the praetorian prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus. Seneca's influence was said to be especially strong in the first year.[5] Many historians consider Nero's early rule with Seneca and Burrus to be quite competent. However, over time, Seneca and Burrus lost their influence over Nero. In 59 they had reluctantly agreed to Agrippina's murder, and afterward Seneca wrote a dishonest[vague] exculpation of Nero to the Senate.[6] With the death of Burrus in 62 and accusations[vague] of embezzlement, Seneca retired and devoted his time again to study and writing.
There is also speculation in Peter Salway's History of Roman Britain that Seneca had been involved in forcing large loans on the indigenous British aristocracy in the aftermath of Claudius's Roman conquest of Britain, and then calling them in suddenly and aggressively. The suggestion is that this contributed to Boudica's rebellion, and so possibly to his own fall.
Luca Giordano, The death of Seneca (1684)
In 65, Seneca was caught up in the aftermath of the Pisonian conspiracy, a plot to kill Nero. Although it is unlikely that he conspired, he was ordered by Nero to kill himself. He followed tradition by severing several veins in order to bleed to death, and his wife Pompeia Paulina attempted to share his fate. Tacitus (writing in Book XV, Chapters 60 through 64 of his Annals of Imperial Rome, a generation later, after the Julio-Claudian emperors) gives an account of the suicide, perhaps, in light of Tacitus's Republican sympathies, somewhat romanticized. According to it, Nero ordered Seneca's wife to be saved. Her wounds were bound up and she made no further attempt to kill herself. As for Seneca himself, his age and diet were blamed for slow loss of blood, and extended pain rather than a quick death; taking poison was also not fatal. After dictating his last words to a scribe, and with a circle of friends attending him in his home, he immersed himself in a warm bath, which was expected to speed blood flow and ease his pain. Tacitus writes: “He was then carried into a bath, with the steam of which he was suffocated, and he was burnt without any of the usual funeral rites. So he had directed in a codicil of his will, even when in the height of his wealth and power he was thinking of life’s close.”[7]

[edit] Legacy

[edit] As a humanist saint

Plato, Seneca, and Aristotle in a medieval manuscript illustration (c. 1325–35)
The early Christian Church was very favorably disposed towards Seneca and his writings, and the church leader Tertullian called him "our Seneca".[8]
Medieval writers and works (such as the Golden Legend, which erroneously has Nero as a witness to his suicide) believed Seneca had been converted to the Christian faith by Saint Paul, and early humanists regarded his fatal bath as a kind of disguised baptism. However, this seems unlikely as Seneca always professed to be Stoic.
Dante placed Seneca in the First Circle of Hell, or Limbo, a place of perfect natural happiness where virtuous non-Christians such as the ancient philosophers had to stay for eternity, due to their lack of the justifying grace (given only by Christ) required to go to heaven. Seneca makes an appearance as a character in Monteverdi's opera L'incoronazione di Poppea.

[edit] An improving reputation

Seneca remains one of the few popular Roman philosophers from the period. He appears not only in Dante, but also in Chaucer and to a large degree in Petrarch, who adopted his style in his own essays and who quotes him more than any other authority except Virgil. In the Renaissance, printed editions and translations of his works became common, including an edition by Erasmus and a commentary by John Calvin.[9] Ralph Waldo Emerson, John of Salisbury, Erasmus and others celebrated his works. French essayist Montaigne, who claimed not to have studied on Seneca and Plutarch,[9] was himself considered by Pasquier a "French Seneca"; similarly, Thomas Fuller praised Joseph Hall as "our English Seneca". Many who have considered his ideas not to be particularly original, still argued he was important in making the Greek philosophers presentable and intelligible.[10]
Even with the admiration of an earlier group of intellectual stalwarts, Seneca is not without his detractors. In his own time, he was widely considered to be a hypocrite or, at least, less than "stoic" in his lifestyle. His tendency to engage in illicit affairs with married women and close ties to Nero's excess test the limits of his teachings on restraint and self-discipline. While banished to Corsica, he wrote pleas for restoration rather incompatible with his advocacy of a simple life and the acceptance of fate. In his Pumpkinification (54) he ridiculed several behaviors and policies of Claudius that every Stoic should have applauded; a reading of the text shows it was also an attempt to gain Nero's favor by flattery—such as proclaiming that Nero would live longer and be wiser than the legendary Nestor. Suilius claims that Seneca acquired some "three hundred million sesterces within the space of four years" through Nero's favor.[11] Robin Campbell, a translator of Seneca's letters, writes that the "stock criticism of Seneca right down the centuries [has been]...the apparent contrast between his philosophical teachings and his practice."[11]
According to Tacitus however, Suilius's accusations did not hold up under scrutiny.[12] It would make sense that Seneca's position of power would make him vulnerable to trumped-up charges, as many public figures were at the time.[13]
In 1966 scholar Anna Lydia Motto also challenged this view of Seneca, arguing that his image has been based almost entirely on Suilius's account, while many others who might have lauded him have been lost.[14]
"We are therefore left with no contemporary record of Seneca's life, save for the desperate opinion of Publius Suilius. Think of the barren image we should have of Socrates, had the works of Plato and Xenophon not come down to us and were we wholly dependent upon Aristophanes' description of this Athenian philosopher. To be sure, we should have a highly distorted, misconstrued view. Such is the view left to us of Seneca, if we were to rely upon Suilius alone."[15]
More recent work is changing the dominant perception of Seneca as a mere conduit for pre-existing ideas showing originality in Seneca's contribution to the history of ideas. Examination of Seneca's life and thought in relation to contemporary education and to the psychology of emotions is revealing a relevance of his thought. For example, Martha Nussbaum in her discussion of desire and emotion includes Seneca among the Stoics who offered important insights and perspectives on emotions and their role in our lives.[16] Specifically devoting a chapter to his treatment of anger and its management she shows Seneca's appreciation of the damaging role of uncontrolled anger, and its pathological connections. Nussbaum later extended her examination to Seneca's contribution to political philosophy[17] showing considerable subtlety and richness in his thoughts about politics, education and notions of global citizenship and finding a basis for reform minded education in Seneca's ideas that allows her to propose a mode of modern education which steers clear of both narrow traditionalism and total rejection of tradition.
Some writers regard Seneca as the first great western thinker on the complex nature and role of gratitude in human relationships[18] There has also been a recent theory presented that there were in fact two Senecas. While the evidence seems marginal at best, a small number of doctorate works have noted stylistic discrepancies across the corpus of Senecan work. The theory, though a published dissertation, has been roundly viewed as incorrect.

[edit] Works

Works attributed to Seneca include a dozen philosophical essays, one hundred and twenty-four letters dealing with moral issues, nine tragedies, a satire, and a meteorological essay. One of the tragedies attributed to him, Octavia, has been argued as having been written by another.[19] His authorship of Hercules on Oeta has also been questioned.
Seneca generally employed a pointed rhetorical style. His writings expose traditional themes of Stoic philosophy: the universe is governed for the best by a rational providence; contentment is achieved through a simple, unperturbed life in accordance with nature and duty to the state; human suffering should be accepted and has a beneficial effect on the soul; study and learning are important. He emphasized practical steps by which the reader might confront life's problems. In particular, he considered it important to confront one's own mortality. The discussion of how to approach death dominates many of his letters.

[edit] Seneca's Tragedies

Many scholars have thought, following the ideas of the 19th century German scholar Leo, that Seneca's tragedies were written for recitation only. Other scholars think that they were written for performance and that it is possible that actual performance had taken place in Seneca's lifetime.[20] Ultimately, this issue cannot be resolved on the basis of our existing knowledge.
The tragedies of Seneca have been successfully staged in modern times. The dating of the tragedies is highly problematic in the absence of any ancient references. A relative chronology has been suggested on metrical grounds but scholars remain divided. It is inconceivable that they were written in the same year. They are not all based on Greek tragedies, they have a five act form and differ in many respects from extant Attic drama, and whilst the influence of Euripides on some of these works is considerable, so is the influence of Virgil and Ovid.
Seneca's plays were widely read in medieval and Renaissance European universities and strongly influenced tragic drama in that time, such as Elizabethan England (Shakespeare and other playwrights), France (Corneille and Racine), and the Netherlands (Joost van den Vondel). He is regarded as the source and inspiration for what is known as 'Revenge Tragedy', starting with Thomas Kyd's 'The Spanish Tragedy' and continuing well into the Jacobean Period.
  • Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules)
  • Troades (The Trojan Women)
  • Phoenissae (The Phoenician Women)
  • Phaedra
  • Thyestes
  • Hercules Oetaeus (Hercules on Oeta): there is doubt by some scholars whether this tragedy was written by Seneca.
  • Agamemnon
  • Oedipus
  • Medea
  • Octavia: closely resemble Seneca's plays in style, but is written by someone with a keen knowledge of Seneca's plays and philosophical works, a short time after Seneca's death, perhaps in the 70s of the 1st century AD.

[edit] Dialogues

[edit] Other

[edit] Quotations

  • A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
  • A great fortune is a great slavery.
  • A large part of mankind is angry not with the sins, but with the sinners.
  • A man who suffers before it is necessary, suffers more than is necessary.
  • A person's fears are lighter when the danger is at hand.
  • A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two.
  • A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand.
  • As long as you live, keep learning how to live.
  • We all sorely complain of the shortness of time, and yet have much more than we know what to do with. Our lives are either spent in doing nothing at all, or in doing nothing to the purpose, or in doing nothing that we ought to do. We are always complaining that our days are few, and acting as though there would be no end of them.
  • The greatest loss of time is delay and expectation, which depend upon the future. We let go the present, which we have in our power, and look forward to that which depends upon chance, and so relinquish a certainty for an uncertainty.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Bunson, Matthew, A Dictionary of the Roman Empire page 382. Oxford University Press, 1991
  2. ^ Fitch, John (2008). Seneca. City: Oxford University Press, USA. p. 32. ISBN 9780199282081. 
  3. ^ Miriam T. Griffin. Seneca: A Philosopher in Politics, Oxford 1976. 34.
  4. ^ Cons Helv. 19.2
  5. ^ Cassius Dio claims Seneca and Burrus "took the rule entirely into their own hands," but "after the death of Britannicus, Seneca and Burrus no longer gave any careful attention to the public business" in 55 (Cassius Dio, Roman History, LXI.3–7)
  6. ^ Moses Hadas. The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, 1958. 7.
  7. ^ Tacitus, (Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb), The Annals of Imperial Rome Book XV (New York, Barnes and Noble 2007) p 341
  8. ^ Moses Hadas. The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, 1958. 1.
  9. ^ a b Richard Mott Gummere, Seneca the philosopher, and his modern message, p.97.
  10. ^ Moses Hadas. The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, 1958. 3.
  11. ^ a b Campbell, Robin Letters from a Stoic (London 1998) 11.
  12. ^ Tacitus The Annals (New York 2003) 267.
  13. ^ Tacitus The Annals (New York 2003) All.
  14. ^ Lydia Motto,Anna Seneca on Trial: The Case of the Opulent Stoic The Classic Journal, Vol. 61, No. 6 (1966) pp. 254–258
  15. ^ Lydia Motto,Anna Seneca on Trial: The Case of the Opulent Stoic The Classic Journal, Vol. 61, No. 6 (1966) pp. 257
  16. ^ Nussbaum, M. (1996), The Therapy of Desire. Princeton University Press
  17. ^ Nussbaum, M. (1999) Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defence of Reform in Liberal Education. Harvard University Press
  18. ^ Harpham, E. (2004) Gratitude in the History of Ideas,19–37 in M. A. Emmons and M. E. McCulloch, editors, The Psychology of Gratitude, Oxford University Press.
  19. ^ Brockett, O. (2003), History of the Theatre: Ninth Ed. Allyn and Bacon. p. 50
  20. ^ George W.M. Harrison (ed.), Seneca in performance, London: Duckworth, 2000.
  21. ^ "Seneca: On Clemency". Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  22. ^ "Apocryphal epistles". 2006-02-02. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  23. ^[dead link]
  24. ^ "Wikiquote - Seneca the Younger". 

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links