Saturday, August 9, 2014

Life is Short: The 21 Day Challenge - Day 0

The challenge doesn't actually start until tomorrow, but I wanted to prepare myself a little. On the Shortness of Life is part of a series of Senna's writings known as the Dialogues or Moral Essays. It is actually a letter to his father-in-law,

Though the time and circumstances of writing are not fully clear, a reliable guess is around 55 C.E., while Seneca was serving as Nero's tutor and adviser. Paulinus, the intended recipient, was late in years and serving as a mid-level bureaucrat in the Roman empire.

The political situation was, not unusually, tense and tricky. Part of the purpose in writing the letter may have been to try to convince Paulinus to gracefully retire in order to avoid the effects of expected political turmoil. Another, and one supported by the text of the letter, is to try to share with Paulinus the experiences and sense of waste and futility he witnesses in court on a daily basis. Though he himself, caught up in the intrigues of Nero's court, cannot take the leisure to study philosophy as much as he wishes, he nevertheless advises his father-in-law to do what he can not, a least not for another decade.

The theme is one that her carries through other essays and even into the letters he wrote in his retirement, and one which is actually very relevant to us today, in our day of distractions and devices. Looking forward to tomorrow morning!