Seneca's Essay 'On Grief For Lost Friends'

Better Essays
The philosopher Seneca is often misjudged because the statements he makes about friendship can be perceived as extreme. His statements are rigid and therefore appear to be blunt and harsh. Although some believe that Seneca is insensitive or uncaring, Seneca does value his friendships and, more generally, he is a caring person who values emotions. At the same time, he does believe that pain and pleasure and other emotions are “foolish” (Gill). In the end, Seneca creates a paradoxical philosophy because he understands that life is change but also that change is painful.
The reason Seneca is so heavily misjudged for his statements about grieving friends who have died is because of the presentation of his beliefs. For example, in his essay “On
…show more content…
In his essay, “On Grief for Lost Friends” Seneca addresses the statement, “No man reverts with pleasure to any subject which he will not be able to reflect upon without pain” (126). He disagrees with this statement by referencing what his teacher and friend Attalus had previously stated about pain or pleasure. Attalus said “the recollection of friends who have passed away gives a pleasure that is not without a touch of bitterness” (126). Seneca agrees with Attalus and feels passionately about his own point of view because he completely disagrees with the belief that no man would revert to something that is pleasurable if it brings any pain. He is strongly advocating for an opposite standpoint and uses his dead friend Serenus as his subject. Many of his essays were dedicated to Serenus which demonstrates that he is still an important component in Seneca’s life after he died. Seneca then establishes a positive twist on grieving a friend by arguing that after facing the small bitterness of remembering a dead friend, one is left with the pleasure that remains from a fond memory. Seneca concludes that he experiences something painful if the pleasure surpasses the
Get Access