Thursday, July 09, 2009


In A.D. 64 the Stoic philosopher Seneca pondered friendship. The Stoics’ intellectual adversaries, the Epicureans, had claimed that a man sought friends for purely instrumental reasons, “for the purpose of having someone to come and sit beside his bed when he is ill or come to his rescue when he is hard up or thrown into chains.” But Seneca knew better. A wise man wanted friends “so that he may have someone by whose sickbed he himself may sit, or whom he may himself release when that person is held prisoner by hostile hands.” Kindness was man’s duty but also his joy: “No one can live a happy life if he turns everything to his own purposes. Live for others if you want to live for yourself.”

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