Friday, June 17, 2011

Quote of the Day: Seneca

As I wrote in a previous post, I've been reading a little bit of Seneca's Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, and today, I wanted to quote him on one function that letters seemed to play during his time.

"Thank you for writing so often. By doing so you give me a glimpse of yourself in the only way you can. I never get a letter from you without instantly feeling we're together. If pictures of absent friends are a source of pleasure to us, refreshing the memory and relieving the sense of void with a solace however insubstantial and unreal, how much more so are letters, which carry marks and signs of the absent friend that are real. For the handwriting of a friend affords us what is so delightful about seeing him again, the sense of recognition (agnoscere)."
- Seneca, Letter 40.1

In our modern age of easy travel, texting, phone calls, and even video chatting (FaceTime, Skype, etc!?), it might be difficult for us at times to imagine how letters might have been perceived and accepted by their recipients. Consequently, when we come across letters in the NT, we are prone to search out possible universal apothegms that we would like to apply in our current situations. However, a quote like above shows the tender and personal (also in some ways private?) nature of letters that insists on our more careful attention to particular situations, expressions of friendship (or enmity?), etc., that exist in the NT epistles.

No comments: