Whoever You Are, Whatever You’re Doing

The three most prominent stoics in Roman history led lives on opposite ends of the social spectrum. Epictetus was a slave, banished at one point from Rome by order of the Emperor Domitian. Marcus Aurelius, found himself suddenly ascended to the throne as Emperor of Rome—the most powerful man on earth. Seneca managed to experience both extremes: banished from the city by Emperor Claudius only to return eight years later to sit at the hand of Claudius’ adopted son, the young emperor Nero, as preeminent advisor.

Even among the lesser known Stoics: Zeno was a prosperous merchant. Cleanthes was a water carrier. Cato was a politician. Musonius Rufus was a teacher.

What they all had in common was that they loved wisdom and that they made the best of their individual situations. They played the hand they were dealt and they played it well.

They did nothing and were nothing that you are not capable of being either. It just takes work, inquiry and of course, Stoicism. What’s left to us, is as Seneca advised, “turn the words into works.”

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