Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic is a collection of letters about morality from Roman philosopher and senator Seneca (c. 4 BC – AD65) to his friend Lucilius. Stoic philosophy holds that our inner life matters more than outward circumstances, and that we ought to seek wisdom, justice, and virtue while practicing moderation, discipline, and self-control – and that to do so would make one “self-sufficient, immune to suffering, superior to the wounds and upsets of life.” Which, for a school of Hellenistic philosophy, sounds really fucking useful right now, right?
If you’ve ever been interested in reading books about stoicism, developing a more stoic personality, or just learning how to practice stoicism in general – or just found yourself taken in by occasional stoic philosophy quotes and wondered, “Just WTF, ancient Rome?” – consider this a goddamn motherfucking introduction. Or honestly, if you just don’t like being around people because frankly we are always surrounded by assholes, well – introverts unite, motherfucker, people have been antisocial since well before ancient Rome.
We’ve adapted several of Seneca’s letters into modern vernacular, R-rated English. Did we translate this from the original Latin? Fucking no. Why did we do this? Why the fuck not, motherfucker, we want you to read this shit.
by Jennifer Dziura
Fuck the Crowd, They’re Dicks
You ask me what you should stay the fuck away from, it’s crowds. You, my friend, are not wise enough to go messing around with a bunch of random-ass people without fucking your shit up. Even I have to watch myself, and I’m motherfucking Seneca.
Every time I go out and deal with a goddamn bunch of people, it fucks up my shit. Like I thought I got over something, but now it’s fucking back, bothering me again. I thought I was all calm and content and shit, but after dealing with a bunch of assholes, that’s all fucked too.
You and me, we’re like people who are so sick they can’t go outdoors or they get even sicker. When we go mingle with a bunch of assholes, they tempt us with stupid shit. Even if they don’t tempt us, it still affects us. Constantly deal with assholes, don’t be surprised if you get covered in shit. The more assholes, the more shit.
Here’s a kind of extreme example. Where I’m from, we have arena fights that you can just pop in and watch during your fucking lunch hour. And by arena fights, I mean men who are forced to murder each other with weapons, so assholes like you and me can watch. Literally, two guys with spears just fucking stabbing each other, but they’re not allowed helmets or armor, so there’s blood everywhere and one guy dies pretty quick, and then the other one has to fight the next guy. That winner fights the next guy, so on and so forth, until finally the “winner” gets eaten by a lion or some other shit they saved up for him. When there’s halftime, the crowd shouts for some throat-cutting just to keep up the motherfucking energy. Motherfucking Rome, motherfuckers. You spend time with these people, it rubs off on you.
Wherever you are, there are a bunch of assholes. And when your grasp of right and wrong is a little bit shaky, you can get sucked in by the fucking dark side. Even just one fucked up lazy-ass asshole friend can fuck you up. Your luxury-loving friend who doesn’t do shit? Makes you weak. Your rich friend? Makes you want more than you need. Just being around one serious asshole can make anyone a little bit of an asshole. So now imagine that it’s millions of motherfucking assholes.
But what’s the alternative? Shut yourself away forever? No, motherfucker. The middle path. Don’t become an asshole just because there are a lot of assholes. But don’t hate everybody just because they’re not like you.
Spend time alone. Spend time with people who will make you a better person. And be cool to people who could use your help to become better people. When you help somebody become better, you become better too, motherfucker.
But seriously, don’t start giving lectures about this shit in big lecture halls. Again, most people are assholes. You start shouting wisdom at them, most won’t get it. People need a lot of training and preparation before they can receive wisdom. The best shit is wasted on crowds.
If you’ve got wisdom but no one is ready to hear about it, that’s cool, man. A great craftsman makes the very best fucking tapestry or reclaimed barnwood table or whatever even if they’re the only person who will ever see it. That’s just what you do. That’s motherfucking stoic.
Besides, if a bunch of assholes like you, that makes you the kind of person assholes approve of, and trust me, buddy, you don’t want that.
Update: Hear a dramatic reading of the post!
Hey bitches, that was some fucking Seneca, basically. Everyone else is an asshole and always has been. I don’t like being around people when they’re assholes, which is often. You may not be tempted by a literal murder arena, but sometimes being antisocial is a fucking path to wisdom. Not like assholes will ever want to hear it. Want more stoicism? Here’s the goddamn book. Peaceful words abound. And make sure you read the other installments in Letters from a Motherfucking Stoic.
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