Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium Letters 1-15

I've written notes on this as I go. So far I've read 66/124 letters, so I've got a long long way to go. I'm gonna type up my notes here, mostly as motivation to finish the damn thing.

Letter 1
- Moments are torn from us, gently removed, or glide beyond our reach
- The worst kind of loss is due to carelessness.
- Majority of your life is spent ill, a large portion doing nothing, and the whole we are chasing the wrong thing.
- Is there anyone you know who places value on their time, who values every day, who understands they are dying daily?
- We shouldn't look forward to death
- The majority of death has already passed
- Hold every hour in your grasp
- Focus on the tasks of today, and do not postpone them until tomorrow, or your life will speed by.
- Nothing is ours except time
- We focus on the cheapest, useless, most replaceable things but forget the debt we pay for them- time
- Time is the one thing you can't ever repay
- I myself do not waste nothing, but at least I know what I am wasting, the cause of the loss and the reason why.
- I'm this way because nobody comes to my rescue, although everyone forgives me.
- A man is not poor if the little that remains is enough for him
- Keep what is yours - it is too late to spare when you reach the dregs of the cask

Letter 2: On Discursiveness in Reading

- You should be able to remain in one place and linger in your own company
- Be careful about reading too many different authors, all books of any sort, as this may cause you to become unsteady
- You should linger on a limited amount of master thinkers, digest their works and derive ideas which hold firmly in your mind.
- Everywhere means nowhere
- A person who spends all their time in foreign travel has many acquaintances but no friends
- The same is true for authors
- It is like food, which cannot be good if it leaves as soon as it is eaten
- Like medicine which is least effective when it is frequently changed
- There is nothing so effective that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about.
- The reading of many books is a distraction
- You cannot read all the books you possess, you can possess only as many books you can read.
- You want to dip into one book then into another - it is the sign of an overnice appetite to toy with many dishes - they do not nourish
- Always read standard authors, and read something you've read before if you want to read something different.
- Read what will fortify you against misfortune and select one thought to be thoroughly digested that day
- From the way things I've read I claim some part for myself
- Today my thought is from Epicurus: "Contented poverty is an honorable estate."
- I think it is not poverty at all, it is the man that craves more that is poor, not the man that has too little.
- The proper limit to wealth is to have what is necessary, and second to have what is enough

Letter 3: On True and False Friendship
- You told me of a "friend" of yours and yet you ask me not to tell him everything you said
- Us stoics place a special value on the word "friend"
- And someone who you refuse to share everything with is not a friend
- Maybe he is a friend in a popular sense, but a true friend involves someone you trust as you trust yourself.
- First you pass judgement, then we trust
- When you become friends, welcome them with all your heart and soul.
- Share everything with a friend.
- Regard them as loyal and they will be so.
- To fear one to deceive is letting one deceive- you give them the right to do wrong.
- I should regard myself as alone in his company.
- Some people tell random people everything - their annoyances, etc.
- Other people fear to confide in their closest friends.
- It is equally faulty to trust no one as to trust everyone.
- You should rebuke both these kinds
- For love of bustle is the restlessness of a haunted mind
- And true repose does not consist in condemning everything that moves as vexation. That is slackness, inertia.
- From Pompous (?) - "Some men shrink into dark corners, to such a degree that they see darkly (?) day"

Letter 4: On the Terrors of Death.

- Make possible haste so you may have an improved mind on that is at peace with itself
- You'll enjoy the process of this but you will enjoy even more when your mind is truly clear.
- Boyhood doesn't stay with us, boyishness does
- Boys fear trifles, children fear shadows, we fear both
- All you need to do is advance
- No evil is great, if it is also the last evil of all
- You say it is difficult to scorn life, but many men do for trifling reasons - they kill themselves because of mistresses, the treatment of their masters, to avoid arrest.
- Virtue is just as effective as excessive fear
- You can't live a peaceful life if you also think of lengthening it
- Rehearse this thought daily. That you may depart from life contently
- Most men live between the wretchedness of the fear of death, and the hardships of life
- Unwilling to live and yet they don't know how to die
- Make life agreeable to yourself by banishing all wrong about it
- No good thing makes you happy which would also make you sad when losing it
- Things don't last- you can't predict nature and fate.
- Every slave wields the power of life and death over you
- It doesn't matter how powerful someone is- for they all hold the same power of life and death over you
- Since the day you will be born you were being led hither (?)
- You must think about this if you desire to be calm as you die.
- My saying today is "Poverty brought into conformity with the law of nature, is great wealth." - from the Garden of Epicurus.
- Nature only wants us to avoid hunger, thirst and cold. That's it.
- Men sweat over the superfluous

Letter 5: On the Philosophers' Mean

- I beg you to continue with your studies but do not try to rouse comments about your appearance
- Inwardly you should be different in all respects
- But outwardly you should conform to society
- Do not wear too fine, do not alienate others as those are who we wish to improve
- The first thing of philosophy is to have sympathy and sociability with all men
- Live according to nature- and it is not according to nature to torture ourselves and eat disgusting food and to be dirty
- Philosophy calls for living plainly, but not avoiding anything - we can be both plain and neat
- We should be admired but understood, too
- We should be different from others if they look closely
- Today's quote is from Hecato (?) - "Cease to hope, and you will cease to fear".
- Fear follows hope
- They both belong to a mind that is in suspense- one looking towards the future
- We should instead adapt ourselves to the present, so foresight is not perverted
- The present alone can not make you wretched.

Letter 6: On Sharing Knowledge
- I can see that I am becoming better, because I am recognizing my own thoughts I have ignored before.
- I will trust you more in our friendship.
- You lack not a friend, but a friendship
- I will not be content unless I share my knowledge
- I refuse wisdom if I must contain it to myself
- I will show you which books to read.
- It is more beautiful to watch them than to only read.
- Hecato (?) - "What progress, you ask, have I made? I have begun to be a friend to myself."

Letter 7: On Crowds
- Avoid crowds especially - can't trust yourself with them
- When I visit crowds, I come back with a different character - undoes what I forced to be calm- foes return.
- It is like sickness, you can't go outside without relapsing.
- Consorting with the crowd is harmful
- Vices become attractive to us- unconsciously tainted
- Greater the mob, greater the danger.
- The most dangerous is games.
- You become more greedy, ambitious, voluptuous, cruel, inhuman
- Pure murder (?)
- Gladiator and spar fights- always results in death.
- You say he deserved it for robbing but you don't deserve to watch
- Thankfully, you are not cruel and you cannot be taught to be cruel
- The young must be rescued from the mob
- Just one indulgence can do a lot of harm
- Bad people rub off on us. Imagine the effect on us when the world at large assaults it
- You must imitate or loathe the world.
- Both cases avoided - don't hate the many or copy the many
- Retreat into yourself
- Associate with those who will make you a better man.
- And welcome those you can improve - you learn when you teach.
- In the public not one man will understand you.
- But maybe a few will come your way - and you can train them to understand you.
- Three sayings - Democritus "One man means as much to me as a multitude, and a multitude only as much as one man."
- "I am content with few, content with one, content with none at all".
- Epicurus - "I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us us enough of an audience for the other."
- You should scorn the pleasure which comes from the applause of the majority.
- Those who are praised by the many have no reason to be pleased with themselves - if you are a person most can understand.

Letter 8: On the Philosopher's Seclusion
- I shut myself in to help a greater number - I study all day and sleep only when I must.
- I withdraw from both men and affairs.
- I am helping people through my writing
- I point others to the right path
- Avoid the deception of hopes
- Life on such heights ends in a fall
- The body should be treated more rigorously - eat and drink only what is enough
- Nothing but the soul is worthy of wonder
- Those who seem idle are the most busy - with both mortal and immortal affairs
- Today's quote, from Epicurus "If you would enjoy real freedom, you must be the slave of philosophy."
- The very service of philosophy is freedom.
- These sayings of Epicurus should be regarded as common property.
- Publilius- "Still alien is whatever you gained by coveting."
- You said "what chance has made yours is not really yours" - and "the good that could be given can be removed."

Letter 9: On Philosophy & Friendship
- The Supreme Good is not a soul insensible to feeling.
- We mean a soul which rejects sensation of evil, not a soul that can endure no evil- "a soul entirely beyond the realm of suffering".
- Our ideal wise man feels his trouble, but overcomes them
- He is self sufficient- yet he desires friends no  matter how sufficient.
- He's satisfied with what he has
- He does not pine the parts that are missing, but he prefers not to lose them
- The self sufficient man can do without friends - but not that he desires to do without them
- There is great pleasure in beginning new friendships - just as an artist likes to begin new paintings, but not as much to complete them.
- The reason for wanting a friend shouldn't be so you can use them - to get you out of trouble or any other good deed
- Anyone who befriends you for a purpose will leave as soon as you fulfill that purpose.
- To make a friend in order to have someone with you when you die also isn't a friendship, it is a bargain.
- Love - like friendship - nobody loves for the sake of gain
- Your life will be like Jupiter - you'll be alright when alone
- Natural promptings draw you into friendships
- Friendship is innately attractive
- Nature draws men towards one another.

Letter 10: On Living to Oneself
- Avoid the many, the few, the individual
- People in mourning/fear, loneliness, shouldn't be left alone- they'll cause trouble.
- Only benefit of solitude is trusting no men, which is lost to him, for he betrays himself.

Letter 11: On the Blush of Modesty
- We all blush no matter how young or old - no amount of wisdom can prevent it - just as much as it cannot be summoned.
- And a person should make others happy
- Choose somebody to model your character after.

Letter 12. On old age
- Life is divided into many circles.
- From birth to death
- Childhood
- And every year, every month, every day
- Heraclitus - "One day is equal to every day"
- Pacuvius - "I have lived; the course which Fortune set me is finished."

Letter 13. On groundless Fears
- We suffer more often in imagination than reality.
- Do not be unhappy before the crisis comes - they may not come at all.
- We are in the habit of exaggerating, imagining, anticipating sorrow.
- Do they derive their power from their own strength, or our weaknesses?
- Always consider what you yourself feel and not only what others want you to believe you feel.
- How do you know whether your suffering is imaginary or not?
- We are tormented by things present, and or by things to come
- As for the present, look to whether you enjoy freedom and health
- For the future we shall see later on.
- We often agree too quickly, we don't analyze what we fear.
- The mind makes up evil where there is none
- Weigh your hopes and fears and believe what you prefer. "Perhaps the worst will not happen."
- "The fool, with all his other faults, has this also - he is always getting ready to live."

Letter 14. On the Reason for Withdrawing from the World
- We all have an innate affection for our bodies
- We should indulge the body, but not become slaves to it
- We should conduct ourselves not as if we ought to live for the body but as if we could not live without it.
- Virtue is held too cheap by the man who counts his body as dear.
- We should avoid discomforts and dangers
- We fear want, sickness, troubles, violence
- The worst is dread.
- We should try to protect ourselves from the mob.
- We shouldn't have cravings like theirs
- If you are empty handed, you'll be more likely to be left alone
- We should especially avoid hatred, jealousy, scorn
- Philosophy should be practiced with moderation
- The wise man should not upset the customs of the people or attract attention with novel ways of living
- "He who needs riches least enjoys riches most" - Epicurus or Metodous (?)

Letter 15. On brawn and brains
- Studying philosophy = I am well
- Without philosophy -> mind is sickly. Body is too although it may be strong
- This mental health is most important.
- The other health comes second.
- It is foolish to work hard developing muscles, broadening shoulders, strengthening lungs - because no matter what you'll never be as strong or heavy as a first class bull
- Overloading the body with food = strangling the soul - it becomes less active.
- Accordingly - limit the flesh and embrace the spirit.
- Inconveniences of the strongman/bodybuilder:
- Exercises - work and waste their life
- Heavy eating dulls their mind
- Alcoholism- drinking & sweating - dyspeptic
- There are short and simple exercises however
- Running
- Brandishing weights
- Jumping
- Practice any one of these
- Always come back soon from body to mind
- Mind must be exercised day and night
- But don't read and write always - sometimes you need a break
- You can: read, dictate, converse, listen to another, walk
- "Voice culture"
- I forbid you practice raising/lowering your voice in scales and intonations
- It is like taking lessons in walking
- It is stupid to regulate every single thing of your life.
- Follow your natural spirit for the contours and tone of your voice
- A Greek proverb - "The fool's life is empty of gratitude and full of fears; its course lies wholly toward the future."
- Remind yourself of all you've received and achieved.
- If you desire strength find a limit which you shall not pass.
- They look better to those without it than to those who have attained them
- And about the future - I should not demand fortune for what she gives, but I should demand myself to not crave.

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