What did Stoics in Ancient Rome believe could make a good life ? Neeley Delamata

Source 1: On the Shortness of Life (Seneca)

“Why do we complain of Nature? She has shown herself kindly; life if you know how to use it, is long.”

Seneca, On the Shortness of Life. Trans. John W. Basore. London: William Heinemann. 1932. Accessed 16 Apr. 2017. <http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/seneca_younger/brev_e.html>

Seneca the Younger was a Roman Stoic philosopher, and he wrote this essay in 49 AD. Part of Stoicism is that become happy, one would need to have a life that was full of human virtue and living in accordance to nature. Instead of being under the impression that one has the power to control everything in his or her life, Stoicism says the world happens around you, and one needs to be able to go along with it. Stoics didn’t believe that people were a part of nature and life happened to them, rather than vice versa. If you learn how to live with nature, instead of trying to change it, you will be able to live a long and happy life. Stoicism was taught to many Romans, so this shows that the people learned to embrace their surroundings in order to be happy.

Word Count: 145

Source 2: Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)

"Nature of any kind thrives on forward progress. And progress for a rational mind means not accepting falsehood or uncertainty in its perceptions, making unselfish actions its only aim, seeking and shunning only the things it has control over, embracing what nature demands of it-the nature in which it participates, as the leaf’s nature does in the tree’s."

Aurelius. Marcus, The Meditations. Trans. Gregory Hays. Random House, Inc., 2002.

In the 170s, Marcus Aurelius wrote private notes about his ideas about stoicism, and this was known as “The Meditations.” One of the most important ideas in Stoicism is that the world is organized in a rational and coherent way; humans are responsible for their actions, but they are anticipated by logos. Marcus’s perspective on living a good and progressive life is that you need to always seek truth, worry about what one can control, and abide to what nature wants. This, along with many other writings of Stoicism, talks about the importance and control nature has in the lives of all. Perception is everything, which is why one needs to search for and accept the truth. The Romans who followed Stoicism could focus on learning the truth, because there was not a need to worry about everything since nature has the overall power of what happens.

Word Count: 147

Source 3: The Enchiridion (Epictetus)

"If you want to improve, reject such reasonings as these: 'If I neglect my affairs, I'll have no income; if I don't correct my servant, he will be bad.' For it is better to die with hunger, exempt from grief and fear, than to live in affluence with perturbation; and it is better your servant should be bad, than you unhappy. Begin therefore from little things. Is a little oil spilt? A little wine stolen? Say to yourself, 'This is the price paid for apathy, for tranquillity, and nothing is to be had for nothing.' When you call your servant, it is possible that he may not come; or, if he does, he may not do what you want. But he is by no means of such importance that it should be in his power to give you any disturbance."

Epictetus, The Enchiridion. Trans. Elizabeth Carter. Thomas Bushnell. Accessed 5 May 2017 <http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html>

Epictetus was a Greek speaking Stoic philosopher who wrote “The Enchiridion” in 135 AD. In order to live a good life, one would need to focus on himself or herself and not cater to lesser peoples’ needs. It is about putting responsibility where it is due, so no one can blame himself or herself for someone else’s actions. Not everything in life needs to go perfectly, and nothing in life will. People need to accept that fact to live freely and happily. Anything that happens should not have to power over you and you decide what you react to. In order to have a good and calm life, you need to learn the power of not letting everything disturb you and focus on yourself. Stoics believed there was importance of not being influenced by others and there is growth to be made if you worry about your life.

Word Count: 148

Conclusion

All Stoic literature allows the reader to further understand the morals and lifestyles of the philosophers. Source one exemplifies that when one embraces their surrounding, they will be happier and more free. Source two displays that Stoics focused on the truth, since they were not focused on their surroundings. With source three, Stoics concentrated on their personal growth, because they did not worry about other's actions. Considering what I have researched, Stoics believed that in order to grow, one needs to search for the truth and look for progress in himself or herself. Everything else should be left to nature.

Word Count: 100

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