Letter 24: On Despising Death

You write me that you are anxious about the result of a lawsuit, with which an angry opponent is threatening you; and you expect me to advise you to picture to yourself a happier issue, and to rest in the allurements of hope. Why, indeed, is it necessary to summon trouble, – which must be […]

Letter 23: On the True Joy Which Comes from Philosophy

Do you suppose that I shall write you how kindly the winter season has dealt with us, – a short season and a mild one, – or what a nasty spring we are having, – cold weather out of season, – and all the other trivialities which people write when they are at a loss […]

Letter 22: On the Futility of Half-Way Measures


You understand by this time that you must withdraw yourself from those showy and depraved pursuits; but you still wish to know how this may be accomplished. There are certain things which can be pointed out only by someone who is present. The physician cannot prescribe by letter the proper time for eating or bathing; […]

Letter 21: On the Renown Which My Writings Will Bring You

Letter 21- On the Renown Which my Writings will Bring You

Do you conclude that you are having difficulties with those men about whom you wrote to me? Your greatest difficulty is with yourself; for you are your own stumbling-block. You do not know what you want. You are better at approving the right course than at following it out. You see where the true happiness […]

Letter 20: On Practicing What you Preach

If you are in good health and if you think yourself worthy of becoming at last your own master, I am glad. For the credit will be mine, if I can drag you from the floods in which you are being buffeted without hope of emerging. This, however, my dear Lucilius, I ask and beg […]

Letter 19: On Worldliness and Retirement

I leap for joy whenever I receive letters from you. For they fill me with hope; they are now not mere assurances concerning you, but guarantees. And I beg and pray you to proceed in this course; for what better request could I make of a friend than one which is to be made for […]

Letter 18: On Festivals and Fasting

It is the month of December, and yet the city is at this very moment in a sweat. License is given to the general merrymaking. Everything resounds with mighty preparations, – as if the Saturnalia differed at all from the usual business day! So true it is that the difference is nil, that I regard […]

Letter 17: On Philosophy and Riches

Cast away everything of that sort, if you are wise. Nay, rather that you may be wise. Strive toward a sound mind at top speed and with your whole strength. If any bond holds you back, untie it, or sever it. “But,” you say, “my estate delays me; I wish to make such disposition of […]

Letter 16: On Philosophy, the Guide of Life

It is clear to you, I am sure, Lucilius, That no man can live a happy life, or even a supportable life, without the study of wisdom. You know also that a happy life is reached when our wisdom is brought to completion, but that life is at least endurable even when our wisdom is […]

Letter 15: On Brawn and Brains

The old Romans had a custom which survived even into my lifetime. They would add to the opening words of a letter: “If you are well, it is well; I also am well.” Persons like ourselves would do well to say. “If you are studying philosophy, it is well.” For this is just what “being […]