Epictetus vs. Seneca “a Comparison in the Writings of Two Stoic Philosophers.”

957 Words Apr 18th, 2011 4 Pages
Born of different stations, languages and creeds, Epictetus and Seneca are Roman philosophers who externally appear to be very different. Epictetus was born to a slave mother, sold as a slave himself and spent the majority of his youth as a slave in Rome. Seneca was born into money; he became tutor to a boy named Nero who later acquired position of Emperor of Rome in 54 A.D. Though these two men seem to be from very different worlds, they have a shared purpose in studying philosophy. The purpose of their writings was to teach people how to live well. Though they had a shared purpose, they suggested its achievement through different means. Epictetus professed an ‘expect the worst so you wont be disappointed when it happens’ …show more content…
This, to me, is completely asinine. To me, that’s like saying to your child, “hey, driving you to school is going to make me late to work and I don’t want to be late to work, so what I’m going to do is throw you out of the car on the freeway. It’s better for me that way.” Well, that’s completely rational. Epictetus suggests that family has value only when it’s convenient and that it’s better not to love your wife or child, but to simply not be offended by their presence. “In the case of anything attractive or useful or that you are fond of, remember to say just what sort of thing it is… If you are fond of a jug, say ‘I am fond of a jug!’. For when it is broken you will not be upset. If you kiss your child or wife, say that you are kissing a human being; for when it dies you will not be upset.” (3) Now, I elect to give Epictetus the benefit of the doubt here and suggest that what he means by this is that a person is more then a body and the body is what is lost when a human being dies, not the person itself. Yet, this too proves itself a bit perplexing. When a person dies, that person is gone. A dead person will never come back to life, you can’t seek physical comfort from a dead person, have a conversation with a dead person, be in a relationship with a dead person and because of these things, you can not
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