Daily Touch of Inspirations

September 8th: Do not be deceived by fortune

Ryan Holiday, The 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

No one is crushed by Fortune, unless they are first deceived by her... those who aren't pompous in good times, don't have their bubbles burst with change. Against either circumstance, the stable person keeps their rational soul invincible, for it's precisely in the good times they prove their strength against adversity. — Seneca, On Consolation to Helvia, 5.4b,5b-6

In 41 AD, Seneca was exiled from Rome to Corsica — for what exactly, we are not sure, but the rumors were that he had an affair with the sister of emperor. Shortly afterward, he sent a letter to his mother seeking to reassure her and comfort her in her grief. But in many ways, he must have been speaking to himself as well — scolding himself a little for this unexpected twist he was taking pretty hard.

He'd managed to achieve some measure of political and social success. He might have chased some pleasures of the flesh. Now he and his family were dealing with consequences — as we all must bear for our behavior and for the risks we take.

How would he respond? How would he deal with it? Well, at the very least, his instincts were to comfort his mother instead of simply bemoaning his own suffering. Though some other letters show that Seneca begged and lobbied for his return to Rome and power (a request eventually granted), he seems to have borne the pain and disgrace of exile fairly well. The philosophy that he'd long studied prepared him for this kind of adversity and gave him the determination and patience he needed to wait it out. When he found his fortune restored as he returned to power, philosophy prevented him from taking it for granted or becoming dependent on it. This was good because fortune had another turn in store for him. When he new emperor turned his wrath on Seneca, philosophy found him ready and prepare once again.

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom Perseverance and Art of Living

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