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Educação / 22/07/2020

' the eternity of the soul' – Seneca

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' the eternity of the soul' – Seneca


Of the eternity of the soul

Seneca greets friend Lucílio

Teach, rightly, to raise your thinking to immensity. A very large and generous thing is the human soul. It does not tolerate more limits than those that are common to divinity. In principle, it does not accept a homeland in the strict sense of the term, Ephesus or Alexandria, or any other place, if any, with a larger population or larger buildings. Your homeland comprises everything that is surrounded by the universe to the most distant ends, it is everything that is found under the celestial vault, the seas and the lands, the air separates and unites at the same time the world of gods and men, the deities, each in their own post, fulfill a specific mission.

Furthermore, it does not allow them to restrict its duration. “Every year is mine,” she says, “there is no time forbidden to great spirits; there is no age unreachable for thought. When the day comes that divides what is human and divine, this body will be right there it was found and I will join the gods. Even now I am not far them; I am still only held by terrestrial existence. ”

Such hopes of mortal life are just a prelude to another, better and more durable existence. In the same way that for nine months we are sheltered and prepared by the mother's womb not for you, but you should launch us when we are already able to breathe and live outdoors, so, during this period that goes childhood to old age, we mature to another birth.

Another birth awaits us, another order of things. We cannot endure the sky yet afar, so we courageously anticipate the decisive hour not for the soul, but for the body. Everything that surrounds you, looks like furniture in a guest room, as you are passing by. Nature strips both those who enter and those who leave.

You are not allowed to take more than you have, and even what you brought to life when you were born here should be left. You will lose your skin, the most superficial of your wraps; you will lose the flesh and blood that flows through your body; you will lose bones and nerves, that which sustains the formless and flabby parts of your body.

That day you fear as the last will be your birth for eternity. Put your burden. Why do you hesitate, as if you are no longer outside a body in which you were hidden? Hesitate, resist. You were also expelled with great force your mother's body. Gemes, cry like when you were born. Crying is typical of those who are born, but at the time, you were inexperienced and ignorant, you could be forgiven. When you left the cozy hiding place of the mother's womb, fresh air blew over you, then you felt the contact of a rough hand and, still tender and inexperienced, you felt the stupor of the unknown.

Now, it is no longer news for you to depart what you were part of before. Quietly abandon these members who no longer serve you and leave this body that you have lived in for so long. It will be destroyed, it will disappear, it will end. Why are you sad? Thus, the membrane that covers the newborn is also removed. Why do you cling to these things as much as yours? You're just covered by them. The day will come when they will be taken, and then you will be free that disgusting and infected womb.

now on, get rid of that wrapper and, free of everything that holds you and that is not necessary, think, now on, higher and more sublime plans. One day, the secrets of nature will be revealed to you, the fog that covers you will be removed and you will be illuminated by a bright light. Imagine the glow of the lights of countless stars together in a single beam. No shadow will shake such serenity. The sky will shine as a whole. Day and night only occur in our lower atmosphere. Then you will be able to say that you lived in darkness, when, in all its fullness, you can contemplate the totality of the light that now only peeps through the cracks in your eyes. What to say when you realize that what now enchants you is not even close to the divine light that you will be contemplating instead.

Such thinking does not allow you to deposit any baseness or cruelty in the depths of your soul. He makes us realize that the gods are witnesses to everything. It allows us to deserve your approval, it prepares us for your future presence and so that we do not lose sight of eternity. He who has established this purpose in his soul fears no army, no threat makes him uneasy. Whoever expects death fears nothing.

Even the one who thinks that the soul exists only while attached to the body and that when it dissolves, it disappears together does everything to be useful even after death. And this is because, although it has been removed everyone's view, "the great virtue of the man and the great honor of his race continue to live in our spirit". [1] Think of how useful good examples are to us and you will know that equally useful are the presence and memory of great men. Take care!

[1] Virgílio, Aeneida, IV, 3-4. (N.T.)

- Seneca, in the book ‘Learning to live - letters to Lucílio 'by Lúcio Anneo Sêneca. [Latin translation by Lúcia Sá Rebello and Ellen Itanajara Neves Vranas]. Porto Alegre: L&PM Pocket, 2010.


Of the work

Seneca's letters to Lucílio (Epistolae morales ad Lucilium) are considered the great masterpiece of the Latin philosopher. Learning to live is a ion of 29 texts these 124 that Seneca wrote in his final years, between 63 A.D. and 65 A.D., and presents a synthesis of the principles of wisdom, virtue and freedom that the thinker pursued in life.

Influenced by the Stoic school and also by Epicurean ideals, Seneca reflected on the most profound contradictions of the human condition, universal questions, which have accompanied society the beginning of the Christian Era to the present. Its philosophy addresses the pursuit of happiness, fear of death, disappointments, friendship and raises one of the main questions of our day: how to combine quality of life and scarce time. 21st century readers will be surprised by lessons such as: “The length of my life does not depend on me. What depends is that you do not go through the phases of that life in a noble way; I must govern it, and not because it is taken. ”; "The biggest defect in life is that it has nothing complete and finished, and the fact that we always leave something for later." Or: “Let's not leave anything for later. Let us settle our accounts with life day after day ”.

Seneca's letters are part of a long tradition of the epistolary genre, and are distinguished ordinary letters in that they are not intended for communication of a personal or family nature, getting closer to the historical chronicle. It is common for the genre to have an interlocutor to develop philosophy through dialogue. In the case of Lucílio, there is no confirmation that he existed.

- by Lúcia Sá Rebello in “Seneca and the reflection on the contradictions of the human condition” | in the book ‘Learning to live - letters to Lucílio’ by Lúcio Anneo Sêneca. [Latin translation by Lúcia Sá Rebello and Ellen Itanajara Neves Vranas]. Porto Alegre: L&PM Pocket, 2010.

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