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The Moral Epistles

124 Letters to Lucilius
Narrated by: James Cameron Stewart
Length: 23 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Philosophy
5 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Towards the end of his life, Seneca the Younger (c4 BCE-65 CE) began a correspondence with a friend in Sicily, later collected under the title The Moral Epistles.

In these 124 letters, Seneca expresses, in a wise, steady and calm manner, the philosophy by which he lived - derived essentially from the Stoics. The letters deal with a variety of specific topics - often eminently practical - such as 'On Saving Time', 'On the Terrors of Death', 'On True and False Friendships', 'On Brawn and Brains' and 'On Old Age and Death'.

His views are as relevant to us today as in his own time. He remarks on how we waste our time through lack of clarity of purpose, how we jump from one attraction to another and how fleeting life is. But these are letters to a friend, so the tone is not grandly didactic but friendly, personal and direct and speak to us across the centuries.

Though not so well known as Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, The Moral Epistles are approachable, memorable and immensely rich in content - and especially so in this sympathetic reading by James Cameron Stewart.

Translation Richard Gummere.

Public Domain (P)2016 Ukemi Audiobooks

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Hard read

It's a can be challenging to stay focused but it well worth the insight it provides.

Great addition to other Stoic books.

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Not as good as other of Seneca but still worth lis

Not as good, as other books of Seneca but still worth listening too in quest of stoic perfection.

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Must Listen!

The Roman philosopher and politician Seneca provides outstanding guidance and support in this chaotic world, his analogy of the storm of life is fitting. These letters not only serve as a great source of philosophy and emotional training but vividly describe Roman and the author’s life, the narrator conveys Seneca’s intelligence, energy, craft and wisdom in every sentence he speaks. This is the best audiobook I have ever purchased.

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  • zen cowboy
  • 31-01-2016

Outstanding!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Moral Epistles to be better than the print version?

I love audiobooks because I can listen to them on the go. In this case, I would like to get the print version as well.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The narrator is absolutely outstanding! Seneca has these awesome one-liners, and it is easy to miss the punch line if the text is not read properly. James Cameron Stewart does a masterful job of helping me "get" it, even if I'm not paying 100% attention.

If you could give The Moral Epistles a new subtitle, what would it be?

The things Seneca knew 2000 years ago that everyone should know now.

Any additional comments?

I love Tim Ferris, but this reading of Seneca is soo much better!

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  • Howard Crawford
  • 04-03-2016

This is THE reading of Seneca's Moral Epistles.

What made the experience of listening to The Moral Epistles the most enjoyable?

James Cameron Stewart reads Seneca's Moral Epistles to Lucilius as though he was born to read these letters of the great Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman and dramatist.

What does James Cameron Stewart bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I really can't imagine anyone else who could read these letters with such authority and understanding. These letters are of a unique historical value that give us insights into Roman life in the years 64-65 CE. One of the greatest works on the philosophy of Stoicism that has come down through the centuries.
The only other reading that I can even compare with it is Jeremy Irons amazing reading of Nabokov's "Lolita" which is also a masterpiece. The reader as a medium for the author.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Written in the first century CE.
Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca Letter 47. "On Master and Slave"

"I am glad to learn, through those who come from you, that you live on friendly terms with your slaves. This befits a sensible and well-educated man like yourself. "They are slaves," people declare Nay, rather they are men. "Slaves!" No, comrades. "Slaves!" No, they are unpretentious friends. "Slaves!" No, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike."

"I shall pass over other cruel and inhuman conduct towards them; for we maltreat them, not as if they were men, but as if they were beasts of burden.'

"Kindly remember that he whom you call your slave sprang from the same stock, is smiled upon by the same skies, and on equal terms with yourself breathes, lives, and dies."
"Do you mean to say," comes the retort, "that I must seat all my slaves at my own table?" No, not any more than that you should invite all free men to it. You are mistaken if you think that I would bar from my table certain slaves whose duties are more humble, as, for example, yonder muleteer or yonder herdsman; I propose to value them according to their character, and not according to their duties. (echoes of MLK) Each man acquires his character for himself, but accident assigns his duties. Invite some to your table because they deserve the honor, and others that they may come to deserve it.

You need not, my dear Lucilius, hunt for friends only in the forum or in the Senate-house; if you are careful and attentive, you will find them at home also. Good material often stands idle for want of an artist; make the experiment, and you will find it so. As he is a fool who, when purchasing a horse, does not consider the animal's points, but merely his saddle and bridle; so he is doubly a fool who values a man from his clothes or from his rank, which indeed is only a robe that clothes us.

"He is a slave." His soul, however, may be that of a freeman. "He is a slave." But shall that stand in his way? Show me a man who is not a slave; one is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, and all men are slaves to fear. I will name you an ex-consul who is slave to an old hag, a millionaire who is slave to a serving-maid; I will show you youths of the noblest birth in serfdom to pantomime players! No servitude is more disgraceful than that which is self-imposed.

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  • Dave from Florida
  • 05-02-2016

Fantastic reading of the Epistles.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Moral Epistles to be better than the print version?

James Cameron Stewart did a fantastic job narrating the Epistles. I enjoy reading the Epistles but being able to listen to them on the way to work is a true blessing. I really do hope that Mr. Stewart will take on the task of narrating the Dialogues and Epictetus's discourses as well.

Audible, please help make it happen!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Seneca!

Which scene was your favorite?

Every scene that Seneca advises his friend to weather hardships, rethink his priorities, value the present, ext. This book is full of excellent advice delivered in a no nonsense manner.

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  • Ron Peters
  • 10-03-2017

Accessible, practical Stoic philosophical practice

What made the experience of listening to The Moral Epistles the most enjoyable?

Excellent narrator, and the material itself focuses on practical application of Stoic philosophy in daily life - nothing dry or theoretical about it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daddy Moe
  • 26-01-2020

meticulous attention needed

it takes a few times over a single chapter to get the meaning but well worth the buy. epicurus is next..

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  • Paul H Aube
  • 02-11-2019

For the one seeking Stoic wisdom

This is a must for the avid student of Stoicism. It provides instructions and insights to build excellence.

Adequate for morning routines and break sessions and recurrent listening through time.

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  • Mike
  • 07-04-2019

Great base line for Stoicism

Familiar for years with Epictetus. His stoic mantra revolves around pain without flinching. This 124 letters dives into many topics and at a minimum gives the reader pause to consider other perspectives. Ryan Holiday kept referencing in a book I have so took the plunge. You should too.

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  • Lior Gerson
  • 26-12-2018

A delightful book

I didn't get into this book with any expectations. It was long and hard to listen to. However i enjoyed it very much. It is remarkebly relevant and contemporary and is filled with amazing jewels of wisdom.

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  • A. McGrath
  • 13-02-2018

Could Have Been Written Yesterday

Amazingly, all this wisdom is still super relevant today. Even my 16 year son agreed. And he doesn't like much besides hip-hop.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 18-04-2018

enlightening and could not have been read better.

narrator was amazing.enlightening boom.highly recommended. felt add though seneca himself were reading to me. farewell.

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  • Miss F E Campbell
  • 19-07-2019

Superb Epistles, Great Narration

Fascinating and while these letters were written so long ago amazing how relevant they are to life today.
EXCELLENT narration from James Cameron Stewart. Perfectly paced, lovely to listen to and while it might seem LONG at 23 hours 18 minutes great to dip in to from time to time.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-07-2017

A long listen

its a very long listen but totally worth it. its well narrated throughout. I'd highly recommend...

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