(Text as at 13/08/2007 19:46:34)
Seneca’s aim is to advise Paulinus, who seems to be in charge of Rome’s corn supply, on how to use the remainder of his life.
The main point seems to be that men (focussing on the patrician class) are so preoccupied with their duties and pleasures, that life passes them by. They bewail the shortness of their lives while, if they meditated on its lessons a bit more, their allotted span would be sufficient. He shows just how reluctant men are to part with any of their material possessions, but are willing for anyone to steal their time, and indeed give it us willingly. If they studied the philosophers, and became philosophers themselves, they would be part of an eternal inheritance not subject to the effects of time.
The philosophy itself (being metaphysical speculation) seems somewhat unsound, and the focus on guarding time for oneself might appear rather selfish, as Seneca argues not just against pleasure-seekers, but also against those who seek high office – so Plato would have disagreed with him, as might Marcus Aurelius.
The Latin original can be obtained by following the link under “Comments” in the “Papers” database by following this link ("Seneca (Lucius Annaeus), Costa (C.D.N.) - On the Shortness of Life").
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