Stewie the Stoic: In Review

For all who participated, we enjoyed thirty days of Stewie the Stoic’s take on Seneca’s philosophy of being a Stoic. Specifically, about fifty of Sececa’s letters to Lucilius, an acolyte and fellow, budding Stoic.

Death & Fortune

These were the two dominant topics that we found in nearly every writing example we analyzed. If we weren’t discussing the actual End, we were talking about our “awareness of self” along the way—to the End. That, in addition to how fortune (or misfortune) taunts us into betraying ourselves.

These will be the points with which I’ll be stumbling away, drunk on philosophy.

  1. I will die. When, matters little. How one manages the approach and final act will set the tone for one’s daily well-being.
  2. In the mean time, live in self awareness of the origin and intent of my desires: be not their slave, but neither their master.
  3. Fortune comes in many flavors: fame, riches, luck, comfort. Neither pursue its presence nor lament its absence. That which benefits, accept with humility; that which diminishes receive with fortitude.

That’s pretty much it, for now.

Thanks for tagging along.


Stewie the Stoic: Prosperity


[Quote courtesy of Seneca]

[Although Seneca was a rich old bastard, we’ll have to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to understanding how one might separate one’s fortune from one’s pursuit of what he calls philosophy. In order to develop a “love of wisdom”, money need not influence one’s progress. Although, I’d bet that being frickin’ rich makes it one hell of a lot easier to pretend to be poor than actually being poor.

On the flip side, having disdain for the finer things in life, that is, being poor, might jade one to believe they can attain their wisdom all the more readily as they have no bright, sparkly objects to distract them.

The one thing I find curious in reading all of these pontifications is, jeeze, they sure had a lot of time to pontificate over the smallest of topics. Yeah, I’m wasting a few minutes here and there on this endeavor. But, the effort these Stoics put into just being Stoic, from what I can tell, hell, I’d like to have a life like that.]

Stewie the Stoic: Begin


[Quotes courtesy of a proverb that Seneca in turn quotes]

[Seneca lays claim to Lucilius’ progress but reciprocates with the admission that merely beginning an undertaking, to become wise, good or content is far more important than one might think. Certainly, tenacity must see you through, especially in the face of adversity. But the most adverse condition we often encounter is our own reticence to get up and out the door.]

Stewie the Stoic: Originality


[Quotes courtesy of Seneca.]

[Wouldn’t you know it. This whole fiasco has just been dis’d by the one dude to whom it all was dedicated. Ungrateful prat! Ah, well, you can’t win ’em all. You win some you lose some. Beggars can’t be choosers. Don’t look this gift horse in the mouth because one in the hand is worth…

Oh, wait. That was his point. Quotes should not be quoted. Let your voice sing notes never heard. Let the twist of your perspective unravel my own. — Anonymole]

Stewie the Stoic: Advice


[Quotes courtesy of Seneca]

[Seneca advises Lucilius that were he to disseminate his wisdom en masse, that those he might affect would be barely help, than were he to single out a lone recipient and focus his persuasions upon them.

Generally, like posting a blog to the world, those one might influence cannot be considered counseled, enfolded beneath the wing, as chance, though possible, does not render one advised.]

Stewie the Stoic: Travel


[Quotes provided by Seneca]

[Those who travel to escape, Seneca would tell you, bring their prisons with them.

Traipsing  from place to place, tiring of one, yearning for the next, is evidence that one has not come to terms with one’s own understanding of peace within a place.

Only those who might travel, or stay put, can claim that the world is theirs to take or leave, as they will.]

Stewie the Stoic: I die a little


[Quotes, this time, by Lucilius, Seneca’s acolyte.]

[More momento mori thoughts, which we’ll end up seeing often, I’m afraid. But this one is not by Seneca. Seneca quotes his friend and confidant, Lucilius. Quote might be a strong word (as are all of these “quotes”) as I believe Seneca paraphrases the younger man’s words. Nonetheless, my time ticks ever onward: oh to stay that second hand, for a moment, for a lifetime.]


[Have you guys noticed the tags in all the Stewie the Stoic posts? They’re all names generated by my python name engine. Some are worthy of novels in their own rights : “Xboki”, “Nizix”, “Ooya”, “Wac”, “Iolen”, “Zuki”, “Moox”]

Stewie the Stoic: Joy


[Quotes by Seneca]

[Ode to Joy.


Seneca even puts constraints on feeling joy. He does relinquish some of his draconian control on this topic. But “joy” to him is more akin to absence of conflicting thoughts rather than that of a child’s-Christmas-morning joy.

What I find that tempers Seneca’s oppressive views is that he realizes how strict his doctrines must be viewed: “Do you think that I am now robbing you of many pleasures when I try to do away with the gifts of chance, when I counsel the avoidance of hope, the sweetest thing that gladdens our hearts? ” — Uh, YEAH!

And he continues… “Or can one thus open his door to poverty, or hold the curb on his pleasures, or contemplate the endurance of pain? He who ponders these things in his heart is indeed full of joy; but it is not a cheerful joy.” — WHAT? Then what kind of joy are you talking about?

Ah, it’s the resolved, almost acquiescent joy of the Buddha who surrenders the frivolous joys in favor of the placid, taciturn joys of self-sufficiency.]

Stewie the Stoic: Memento Mori


[Quotes courtesy of Seneca]

[Just when we thought we’d never get to the tasty parts of Seneca…

In this letter Seneca alludes, finally, to a noble death. Pleasantly, in getting to it, he gives us a few useful tidbits. The first is that the things we cherish, involve ourselves with, obsess over, can become chains: ” … there are a few men whom slavery holds fast, but there are many more who hold fast to slavery.” Consider our addictions. Are we compelled to be pawns of our social life? For we certainly relinquish control, submitting and embracing our digital masters.

When it comes to aging gracefully: surrendering our treasures, gifting those things we find dear, rather than chasing down the last morsel of profit or acquisition: “No man can swim ashore and take his baggage with him.”

Lastly, the title Memento Mori: Remember that you will die. This, among all themes in the Stoic’s philosophical arsenal, is the most powerful. The cares to which we grasp as we die have no bearing on our place in the universe. You had nothing coming in — you will have nothing going out.
“Free yourself of the fear of loss for the final loss negates them all.” – Anonymole



Stewie the Stoic: Appetites


[Quotes by Seneca]

[Seneca quotes Epicurus incessantly. For contrast perhaps? Or maybe Seneca is a closet Epicurian? Here we examine just what we should allow in our indulgences and whether they verge on the extreme. Our bellies, Seneca would tell us, can be filled with gruel, and we should accept it. How often did Seneca eat gruel, I wonder?]


Stewie the Stoic: Inner turmoil


[Quotes provided by Seneca]

[Here, again, we enter into a discussion of “To thine own self be true.” Two things strike me as I continue to read Seneca’s letters to Lucilius 1) Seneca was acutely aware of his wealth and its affects on those he thought his friends and equals. 2) He continuously questioned the intents of those around him, almost as if he doubted his own mind and his own adherence to his Stoic ideals.

His preaching was done, not to those in receipt of his teachings, but to himself, as reinforcement.]

Stewie the Stoic: Debt


[Quotes by Seneca]

[Lucilius is retiring — a wealthy man. Whom he chooses and befriends in retirement, what he may give them as he whittles down is possessions is spoken of. Seneca then speaks of how gifts should be bequeathed: “…consider that it is more important who receives a thing, than what it is he receives.” Someone who might owe you a large debt may no longer be your friend. In turn, you owing another great sums would be considered an affront, perhaps you yourself would be considered the villain.]

Stewie the Stoic: Holiday


[Quotes offered by Seneca]

[This sentiment arrives during the Saturnalia when the throngs have abandoned propriety and surrendered themselves to indulgences. Which, Seneca does not expressly  condemn. More than that, he embarks on explaining that there is much to be learned with living on little. Learning to accept and embrace frugality prepares one for when Fortune lavishes her bounty wherein you might enjoy her gifts all the more. Yet, of course, never depend upon them.]

Stewie the Stoic: Priorities


[Quotes by Seneca]

[This quote comes from the thought that cowardice may spring from placing too high a value on one’s continued existence. There may come a time when courage is called for and sacrifice required. Holding one’s physical self in such high regard, cheapens the Stoic. Reduces him or her to petty concerns of self-preservation.]

Stewie the Stoic: Fortune

Stewie as Seneca exposes one of the core tenets of Stoicism here: It is not the world in control of you at your core—your self-realization; rather, it is you, yourself and how you receive and handle the world’s slings and arrows that determines your fate, your fortune.


More importantly, the Stoic realizes that it is they and they alone who grasps the reins of reality.

We choose who we are.

Foolish or wisely, it makes no difference. It is the knowledge of the choosing that is the key.

“For our powers can never inspire in us implicit faith in ourselves except when many difficulties have confronted us on this side and on that, and have occasionally even come to close quarters with us. It is only in this way that the true spirit can be tested, – the spirit that will never consent to come under the jurisdiction of things external to ourselves.” — Seneca

Prosperity teaches nothing. Adversity alone instructs the Stoic. — Anonymole

[Quotes by Seneca. Interpretation by Anonymole]

[More… Once again, “God” here is more along the lines of a cosmic consciousness, not a deity….

“Perhaps someone will say: “How can philosophy help me, if Fate exists? Of what avail is philosophy, if God rules the universe? Of what avail is it, if Chance governs everything? For not only is it impossible to change things that are determined, but it is also impossible to plan beforehand against what is undetermined; either God has forestalled my plans, and decided what I am to do, or else Fortune gives no free play to my plans.” 5 Whether the truth, Lucilius, lies in one or in all of these views, we must be philosophers; whether Fate binds us down by an inexorable law, or whether God as arbiter of the universe has arranged everything, or whether Chance drives and tosses human affairs without method, philosophy ought to be our defence. She will encourage us to obey God cheerfully, but Fortune defiantly; she will teach us to follow God and endure Chance. 6 But it is not my purpose now to be led into a discussion as to what is within our own control, – if foreknowledge is supreme, or if a chain of fated events drags us along in its clutches, or if the sudden and the unexpected play the tyrant over us; I return now to my warning and my exhortation, that you should not allow the impulse of your spirit to weaken and grow cold. Hold fast to it and establish it firmly, in order that what is now impulse may become a habit of the mind.”