Lessons for the heart: loving reason and embracing loss (Letter 74)


  • Catharine Edwards Birkbeck, University of London




The arguments Seneca articulates in Letter 74, in support of his claim that only the honestum is to be regarded as good and that this is the key to a happy life, are for the most part highly exhortatory. In particular, Seneca urges the reader to love reason: ama rationem. This instruction, pairing love and reason, might seem paradoxical. Amor in Stoic thought is generally classified as one of the emotions, adfectus, apt to disturb and distract us from the achievement of Stoic calm. What kind of love might be at stake here? Seneca seems to suggest in this letter that an attachment to reason is analogous to and indeed can take the place of our attachment to friends and family members. Can we really hope to refocus the feelings we might have developed for our fellow humans onto the abstract ideas of virtue or reason? This letter, on my reading, makes a bold attempt to harness the emotion embedded in human interdependence (where love is always precarious, alert to the threat of loss) and to refocus it on a secure and lasting object.




Come citare

Edwards, C. (2022). Lessons for the heart: loving reason and embracing loss (Letter 74) . Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 2, 103–126. https://doi.org/10.13133/2785-2849/2401