By C. Kavin Rowe
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Extra info for One True Life: The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions
What gives Fortuna the power to make even the gifts into snares? Seneca’s answer here is Time. Time is Fortuna’s real strength, the medium through which she exercises her power, and the way she exploits the chief epistemological condition of human finitude—the utter impenetrability of the future. Precisely because Fortuna’s actions are always hidden behind the veil of time, they are never open to anticipation. Were we to know that her “gifts” were permanent, we would neither fear their loss nor have the ability to experience their absence.
12). Like any good psychoanalyst, therefore, Seneca knows that distraction from that which worries us only increases our anxieties,6 while facing directly their deepest source can (paradoxically) release them. 7 Caring philosophically for Lucilius in the midst of illness thus requires the treatment of anxiety by the redirection of the soul toward death. “No man,” says Seneca, “can have a peaceful life who thinks about lengthening it” (Ep. 4). No less does our ability to die daily depend upon a rigorous contemplation of death’s consequences.
Seneca 31 Seneca’s acceptance of the body’s appetites, however, is not predicated on a strict division between body and soul (or mind) that would allow him to locate the passions in one place rather than another. . like wrath, love, sternness; unless you doubt whether they change our features, knot our foreheads, relax the countenance, spread blushes, or drive away the blood? . Do you think that such evident marks of the body are stamped upon us by anything else than the body? ” Moreover, he continues, virtues are corporally manifested in discrete “symptoms” that indicate their presence: “Do you not see how a spirit of bravery makes the eye flash?