Presentation Title

The Deception of Time: Life and Death in Seneca’s Stoicism

Presenter Information

Donald WhittFollow

Document Type

Panel Presentation

Keywords

Time, Stoicism, Seneca

Biography

After spending several years in the U.S. Navy traveling all over the Mediterranean Sea, I developed a fascination with Ancient Rome. Being a student of Anthropology, I was interested in learning as much as I could about this ancient culture, and so delved into the study of the Latin language. I am now a senior with a primary major in Anthropology and a secondary major in Classical Latin.

Major

Anthropology ; Classical Latin

Advisor for this project

Dr. Christina Franzen

Start Date

20-4-2018 10:45 AM

End Date

20-4-2018 12:00 PM

Abstract

The Deception of Time: Life and Death in Seneca’s Stoicism

The purpose of this essay is to examine the Stoic philosophy of Lucius Annaeus Seneca concerning the beguiling nature of time, life, and death in his prose writing. By examining essays such as De Otio and De Brevitate Vitae, we can see how through the use of metaphor, example, and occasionally even reprimand, Seneca attempts to show how humanity is fooling itself with regards to time, and how well it is being spent. Stoic philosophers would tell us that our time is important to us because it is limited. It is precious to us precisely because it comes with no promise of constancy. Our only guarantee as mortal beings is that our time will indeed end, and so it is therefore important that we make the best possible use of what time we have available to us. We must not squander this time on trivial matters or uncontrollable external factors. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher has written much on this topic within his vast body of essays and published letters. It is within the contexts above that I believe Seneca is making the case that time (our lifetime) beguiles us into fallacious notions. We tend to believe that life is simply too short for such endeavors as the contemplation of virtue. We also tend to believe that a long life necessarily equates to a full life, that somehow the measure of how well one has lived is correlated to how long one has lived. Seneca, it seems, would disagree.

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Apr 20th, 10:45 AM Apr 20th, 12:00 PM

The Deception of Time: Life and Death in Seneca’s Stoicism

The Deception of Time: Life and Death in Seneca’s Stoicism

The purpose of this essay is to examine the Stoic philosophy of Lucius Annaeus Seneca concerning the beguiling nature of time, life, and death in his prose writing. By examining essays such as De Otio and De Brevitate Vitae, we can see how through the use of metaphor, example, and occasionally even reprimand, Seneca attempts to show how humanity is fooling itself with regards to time, and how well it is being spent. Stoic philosophers would tell us that our time is important to us because it is limited. It is precious to us precisely because it comes with no promise of constancy. Our only guarantee as mortal beings is that our time will indeed end, and so it is therefore important that we make the best possible use of what time we have available to us. We must not squander this time on trivial matters or uncontrollable external factors. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman Stoic philosopher has written much on this topic within his vast body of essays and published letters. It is within the contexts above that I believe Seneca is making the case that time (our lifetime) beguiles us into fallacious notions. We tend to believe that life is simply too short for such endeavors as the contemplation of virtue. We also tend to believe that a long life necessarily equates to a full life, that somehow the measure of how well one has lived is correlated to how long one has lived. Seneca, it seems, would disagree.