[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.]