I have long dreaded reading Seneca beyond his Letters. I felt that Seneca was a hypocrite who reveled in the fortune he had made as a statesman while lecturing his fellow citizens on virtue. A shallow view grounded in my own unwillingness to commit to reading deeper than a 15 minute skim would allow.
That said I am now reading the Consolations to Marcia and I am enamored with his grasp on the human condition. I see in his work his application of Stoicism more than in the Letters. His application of spiritual exercises when it comes to grief is beautiful. Having recently dealt with a family death I am applying his recommendations to my own life. I had tried to do so when my brother died but my own use felt cold and uncaring. This wasn’t due to misapplication but due to my not having the reasoning to back up feeling the way I did. I thought that remaining firm of character was a matter of choice and not the result of logical application of true and false. If we act without reason then we act out of opinion. Acting out of opinion instead of what we know to be true is a path that leads in large part to the suffering we feel in the world. This has been the main lesson that I have received from Seneca and I am better for it.