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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Seneca's Old Age


But my current situation is the same as what happens to many who are reduced to poverty through no fault of their own: everyone forgives them, but nobody comes to their rescue.
                                                     Epistle 1

     In the previous post, Seneca in humility admits (through use of financial metaphor) that he is, in a word, not perfect, but he has at least made progress in that he can recognize his moral losses and shortcomings. These losses are of course due to his own failures. There is no contradiction here where Seneca writes that his "current situation is the same as what happens to many who are reduced to poverty through no fault of their own." 
     Seneca, at the time that he was writing these epistles, was a very old man. The overall subject of this epistle is time, and more specifically, the wasting of time versus the proper use of time. Seneca here is simply adding a personal note pertaining to his own situation. He is continuing with the poverty metaphor, but he is applying it now not to his own moral progress, but to the amount of time an old man like himself has left in life. 
     But this is not the mournful complaint of an old man over the shortness of his remaining life. As we shall see in the next post, Seneca is contented in this "poverty."