Stoicism (I got past the gloom. Happy now. This is about reading, not suicide.)

Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, Juan van der Hamen, 17th century (Instituto Valencia de Don Juan)

Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, Juan van der Hamen, 17th century (Instituto Valencia de Don Juan)

[Domestic strife can cause one to seek comfort in odd places. During a time of gloom and stress I found relief by delving into some writings about the Stoics. I was retail advertising manager for the local newspaper, a highly deadline-driven job of long hours and many responsibilities. The home front offered little respite. In my prior abortive career as a scholar I had been interested in the polymath Spaniard Francisco de Quevedo, a prominent representative of the Stoic school of thought in his day. I wrote my
mother about my reading.]
Another area that I grope toward in my thoughts, in this fortyish second-thought time of life, is Stoicism. I wanted to develop this as a research area when at ***, and actually found some time to read two or three books about it when I was working at the Advocate. Needless to say, I didn’t find the time to do it when I was a professional academic. That reading is largely lost on me now, but the little I recall is that its roots go back to Greece; Seneca is a leading exponent in Roman times; Francisco de Quevedo is an important 17th-century Spanish Stoic; and I think I still have in a box a Xeroxed copy of a work in Latin by an English representative of Stoicism from the 17th or 18th century. What Stoicism is, or was, as a philosophy I can’t even say. There is the popular association of resignation in the face of adversity, but I know it involved much more. I know it sanctioned suicide in certain conditions; I believe Seneca did kill himself.

[Correspondence, 1987. Copyright (c) 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.]

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day, and watch Netflix and Prime Video for entertainment. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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3 Responses to Stoicism (I got past the gloom. Happy now. This is about reading, not suicide.)

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Yes.
    Stoicism is interesting in that it is born from those who suffer, and somehow learn to minimize the impact.
    It is mysterious.
    Why does suffering make some people a bit stronger?
    Neonates, like my daughter, for example, are stoical.
    They suffered pain at birth.
    They have greater stoicism in life,
    ongoing,
    meaning they can handle pain better than other people.

    • JMN says:

      Very good points. I like your comments. The mysterious aspect is quite true. I’d still like to delve more into what it means to be stoic. Thank you always for your input.

  2. Eric Wayne says:

    Probably requires a belief in free will as well. Hmmm. I bet one could make pretty good money having a Stoicism Camp where people go to live minimally. The expenses would be low and the profits high.

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