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The Reasons Why Seneca Was Our Seneca

1329 words - 6 pages

Seneca being the wise man that he was considered different views on topics, when gathering his own such as the styles of the Stoic and Epicureans, he was able to fuse the two together to create his own. In doing so Seneca attracted the attention of early Christian theologians who were fascinated by his philosophy. In this essay a comparison will be presented of Seneca and St. Augustine’s views on three specific topics friendship, social class, and death. Analyzing the differences and similarities in the two philosophies should help the reader better understand why early Christians may have found Seneca’s views rather intriguing and also why it seemed to align with Christianity’s perspective on ideas of friendship, social class and death. The two primary texts used to provide the information are Letters from a Stoic by Seneca, and Confessions by St. Augustine. Seneca being a philosopher during the late Roman Empire and St. Augustine being the church father who developed doctrine of the church, one would think they would have differing opinions but that is not always the case. The text will show that most of the time they build upon each other’s ideas.
While early Christians might have had differing opinions on friendship, that could have been result of Seneca and St. Augustine’s difference in views on the topic. Seneca, himself had thought of being in commune with others as an important topic as it is prominent in Letters from a Stoic but should be enjoyed in moderation according to the text. Seneca talks about moderation in the sense less is more as far as friends go “Associating with people in large numbers is actually harmful: there is not one of them that will not make some vice or other attractive to us, or leave us carrying the imprint of it or bedaubed all unawares with it.” (Seneca, pp. 41). He believed that as people the focus should to be around those who make you better and who you can also improve. Seneca also believed that it was important to have friends to learn from and better yourself, which could directly correlate with early Christians and how they supporting each other’s faith by worshiping together and caring for each other. “Retire into yourself as much as you can. Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those whom you are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one: men learn as they teach.”(Seneca pp.43). St. Augustine did not provide as much emphasis on friendship as Seneca did but did bring forth different points. St. Augustine believed that one could be friends with people even if beliefs were not shared, “we were comforting Verecundus with an assurance that conversion did not end our friendship, recommending to him the faith proper to his state of marriage; and anticipating that Nebridius would soon follow our lead, as he was close to doing. (St. Augustine loc. 2469)”. Augustine wanted to show if you demonstrated friendship in your beliefs, conversion is possible but not necessary. Then...

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