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How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of Life

by Seneca Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
02/2018
ISBN:
9780691175577
Format:
Hbk 256 pages
Price:
AU$33.99 NZ$34.77
Product Status: In Stock Now
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“It takes an entire lifetime to learn how to die,” wrote the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC–65 AD). He counselled readers to “study death always,” and took his own advice, returning to the subject again and again in all his writings, yet he never treated it in a complete work.


 


How to Die gathers in one volume, for the first time, Seneca’s remarkable meditations on death and dying. Edited and translated by James Romm, How to Die reveals a provocative thinker and dazzling writer who speaks with a startling frankness about the need to accept death or even, under certain conditions, to seek it out. Seneca believed that life is only a journey toward death and that one must rehearse for death throughout life. Here, he tells us how to practice for death, how to die well, and how to understand the role of a good death in a good life. He stresses the universality of death, its importance as life’s final rite of passage, and its ability to liberate us from pain, slavery, or political oppression. Featuring beautifully rendered new translations, How to Die also includes an enlightening introduction, notes, the original Latin texts, and an epilogue presenting Tacitus’s description of Seneca’s grim suicide.


Introduction ix
How to Die xxi
I Prepare Yourself 1
II Have No Fear 12
III Have No Regrets 34
IV Set Yourself Free 59
V Become a Part of the Whole 92
Epilogue: Practice What You Preach 117
Latin Texts 123
Notes 217


“James Romm takes us up close
to death with Seneca for his guide.
Don’t be afraid, be prepared - be
very prepared.”
- Mary Beard, author of SPQR:
A History of Ancient Rome
“Beautifully translated by James
Romm, Seneca speaks to us so directly
about the fraught and difficult subject
of death that we may find ourselves
forgetting to breathe.”
- Francine Prose
James Romm is the author of Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero and Ghost on the Throne: The Death of Alexander the Great and the War for Crown and Empire (both Knopf). He has written essays and reviews for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Review of Books, and Newyorker.com, among other publications. He is the James H. Ottaway Jr. Professor of Classics at Bard College and lives in Barrytown, New York.