Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm

Rating: 6/10

Read More on AmazonRead the OriginalGet My Searchable Collection of 200+ Book Notes

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm

Rating: 6/10

Read More on AmazonSubscribe to get future book notes & reviews

High-Level Thoughts

An interesting story about the life of Seneca, though it made me realize that I care much more about his ideas than him as a person.

Summary Notes

“If you put up with the crimes of a friend, you make them your own. —ROMAN PROVERB”

For the Stoics, reason, god, and nature were meant to be in harmony and were in many ways synonyms.

Seneca’s aim, as was many of the stoics, was to change how we think about our journey towards death.

“Every night before bed, Seneca confides to his readers, he sat quietly beside his wife and took stock of his day, reviewing moments when he gave in to his passions. Perhaps he grew too hot during a dispute, or spoke more sharply to an underling than the man could handle. In each case, he tells himself: “See that you don’t do that again, but now I forgive you.””

“Wherever Seneca went in these years, he carried on work on his magnum opus, a remarkable set of short moral essays framed as letters. Ostensibly addressed to Lucilius, these letters were in fact aimed at a wide audience. But the fiction of an intimate correspondence gave Seneca latitude in the structure of the essays, as well as unusual freedom to vary voice, tone, and technique.”

“How useless to fear or dread death, still more useless to flee it! We panic over natural disasters, though the smallest things— a gangrenous cut, an accumulation of phlegm— can do us in just as easily. We fret over oncoming floods, when a drink of water that goes down the wrong way can be every bit as lethal.”

Nero was a fucked up dude: kills his mother, many of his peers, goes on a rampage, and eventually has Seneca commit suicide after a failed attempt to overthrow Nero that Seneca may or may not have been a part of. Also Nero kicks his wife during pregnancy so hard that it kills her and the baby.

Enjoyed this? Be sure to subscribe!