Three Huge Volumes of Stoic Writings by Seneca Now Free Online, Thanks to Tim Ferriss

“The great­est obsta­cle to liv­ing is expectan­cy, which hangs upon tomor­row and los­es today,” wrote Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger. “You are arrang­ing what is in For­tune’s con­trol and aban­don­ing what lies in yours.” That still much-quot­ed obser­va­tion from the first-cen­tu­ry Roman philoso­pher and states­man, best known sim­ply as Seneca, has a place in a much larg­er body of work. Seneca’s writ­ings stand, along with those of Zeno, Epicte­tus, and Mar­cus Aure­lius, as a pil­lar of Sto­ic phi­los­o­phy, a sys­tem of think­ing which empha­sizes the pri­ma­cy of per­son­al virtue and the impor­tance of observ­ing one­self objec­tive­ly and mas­ter­ing, instead of being mas­tered by, one’s own emo­tions.

The Sto­ics found their way of life ben­e­fi­cial indeed in the harsh real­i­ty of more than 2,000 years ago, but Sto­icism los­es none of its val­ue when prac­ticed by those of us liv­ing today.

“At its core, it teach­es you how to sep­a­rate what you can con­trol from what you can­not, and it trains you to focus exclu­sive­ly on the for­mer,” writes self-improve­ment maven Tim Fer­riss in his intro­duc­tion to The Tao of Seneca, the three-vol­ume col­lec­tion of Seneca’s let­ters, illus­tra­tion and lined mod­ern com­men­tary, that he’s just pub­lished free on the inter­net. (For instruc­tions on how to upload them to your Kin­dle, see this page.)

Of all the Sto­ics, he con­tin­ues, “Seneca stands out as easy to read, mem­o­rable, and sur­pris­ing­ly prac­ti­cal. He cov­ers specifics rang­ing from han­dling slan­der and back­stab­bing, to fast­ing, exer­cise, wealth, and death.” (Fer­riss has also cre­at­ed audio­book ver­sions of the texts, which you can buy through Audi­ble. Or get a cou­ple for free by sign­ing up for Audi­ble’s 30-day free tri­al pro­gram.)

Fer­ris sug­gests mak­ing Seneca “part of your dai­ly rou­tine. Set aside 10–15 min­utes a day and read one let­ter. Whether over cof­fee in the morn­ing, right before bed, or some­where in between, digest one let­ter.” He also adds that “Sto­icism has spread like wild­fire through­out Sil­i­con Val­ley and the NFL in the last five years, becom­ing a men­tal tough­ness train­ing sys­tem for CEOs, founders, coach­es, and play­ers alike,” evi­denc­ing a results-ori­ent­ed approach that may divide Sto­icism enthu­si­asts, many of whom believe that the true Sto­ic should nev­er con­sid­er the prod­uct, which will always lie out­side one’s realm of con­trol, but only the process. But even the ancients would sure­ly agree that any prompt to action is worth tak­ing, espe­cial­ly when it asks the cost of not a sin­gle coin — drach­ma, denar­ius, pen­ny, or bit.

The Tao of Seneca will be added to our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

(via /r/stoicism)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Sto­icism, the Ancient Greek Phi­los­o­phy That Lets You Lead a Hap­py, Ful­fill­ing Life

Alain de Botton’s School of Life Presents Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tions to Hei­deg­ger, The Sto­ics & Epi­cu­rus

A Guide to Hap­pi­ness: Alain de Botton’s Doc­u­men­tary Shows How Niet­zsche, Socrates & 4 Oth­er Philoso­phers Can Change Your Life

1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free

135 Free Phi­los­o­phy eBooks

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (4) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (4)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Ronny says:

    Will look for­ward to read­ing these.

  • Terry Walsh says:

    This is all to the good, of course, if it brings Seneca to a wider read­er­ship and the mod­ern addi­tions, while infor­ma­tive, are not real­ly nec­es­sary. How­ev­er, I can find nowhere that the trans­la­tion used dif­fers lit­tle, if at all, from Richard M. Gum­mere’s Loeb of 1920. This even extends to a typo, faith­ful­ly repro­duced on p. 227 of vol­ume one, ‘Hecate’ (for ‘Hecale’).

    Sure­ly, a nod to a fine trans­la­tor might have been to the point, Mr Fer­riss?

  • john says:

    For­get it! These pdfs are HORRID. Not read­able. Can we get this in EMOBI / Kin­dle for­mat?

  • AudioBB says:


Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.