Can a stoic be happy

Summary of From the happy life

Oratory in the Roman Empire

The rhetoric, the oratory, was in ancient Rome as one of the most important disciplines. In the times of the republic, political speech in the Senate and legal speech in the forum were a fine art. Accordingly, it was a central part of upbringing. Great role model for speakers in the late republic wasCicerowho established the long, artful sentence period as a stylistic ideal. After the destruction of the Roman Republic byCaesarAutonomous rule, after his death in 44 BC. BC and the civil war that followed, the function of rhetoric changed considerably. Caesar's successor Octavian (the future emperor Augustus) did not appear as a dictator, but as a “princeeps”, ie as the first among equals, but de facto he was sole ruler. The influence of rhetorically trained lawyers and senators was only minor compared to the republic. Octavian largely determined the framework of politics and jurisdiction himself. Instead of elaborate speeches in Senate meetings, the modest arena of rhetoric was now to be found in theory. The rhetorical schools put their skills to the test by formulating and playing through fictitious criminal processes. Seneca's father,Seneca the Elder, wrote a rhetorical that dealt critically with the escalating style and content of this practice - at the request and for the instruction of his sons.


When he got the letterFrom the happy lifewrote around AD 58/59, Seneca was the young emperor's confidante and teacher Nero and one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Rome. Nero's mother Agrippina had installed Seneca as a mentor for her son, among other things, to maintain her own influence on the youthful emperor. Like the previously written script About the goodnessthat was addressed to Nero is alsoFrom the happy lifepartly to be understood as an attempt to moderate the student Nero with regard to his dissolute lifestyle. Seneca himself had a diatribe on Nero's predecessor Claudius - who had possibly been poisoned by Agrippina - Nero's coming emperor was announced in advance praise as a golden time.

Another starting point is Seneca's endeavor to define his own position in the canon of the stoic school. His portrayal of the teachings of the Epicurus should make it clear that the two camps did not have to face each other irreconcilably. The central motivation for the font, however, must be assumed that Seneca wanted to justify its own elevated position to its envious and critics - including its immense wealth. Because already during his lifetime, many Romans complained about the contradiction between the teaching and life of Seneca.

Impact history

The historianCassius Dioreported in the third century AD on the so-called Suillius-Process. Said Suillius had very publicly accused Seneca of the contradiction between life and work. In some cases, right up to the current Seneca reception, the specific accusation of a Roman contemporary was the central reason for writing downFrom the happy lifeviewed. However, that did not change the effect of the work. Seneca's writings found their way into the early Christian canons of important books. The basic stoic principles - the pursuit of virtue, the insignificance of wealth and external influences, devotion to fate - fit together very well with parts of the early Christian doctrine.

The style of Seneca, the sentence and the form of letters were also taken up in Christianity in the form of sermons and apostolic letters. So the work of Seneca got throughJeromeincluded in the catalog of Christian writers. Through a forged correspondence between Seneca and the apostle Paul Seneca's remaining in the Christian canon was legitimized throughout the Middle Ages.Erasmus from Rotterdampublished new editions of Seneca's works. Erasmus also made the statement about Seneca that it was "absolutely clear that he was serious about what he taught." With this he took a clear position on the allegations with which Seneca was involvedFrom the happy lifehad busy.

Senecas found in GermanyFrom the happy lifefirst in the 17th century Martin OpitzMention. The letter form used by Seneca can be used as a model for the essays byJohann Gottfried HerderandFriedrich Schillerbe valid. Since the late 20th century, the stoic idea of ​​frugality and concentration on the inside has been found in popular philosophical guides that often contain passagesFrom the happy lifequote.