book hack

How to Keep Your Cool

Seneca, James S. Romm

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

Written roughly around 53 BCE, Seneca's essay offers a timeless musing on anger, perhaps the most potent and dangerous of human emotions.

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How to Keep Your Cool

How to Keep Your Cool

by Seneca

Overview

Roman statesman and philosopher Seneca the Younger spent much of his life contemplating how we might live peaceably with our emotions. A student of the Stoics, Seneca believed that our emotions should never be afforded domination or control of us. His long-form work of prose, On Anger, or 'De Ira' in Latin, addresses politicians and citizens alike and seeks to define this vast and tenebrous emotion. From Seneca's definition of anger comes an insightful and pragmatic series of instructions on how we might eradicate the emotion from our lives.

Professor of Classics at Bard College, James Romm renders Seneca's rhetorical Latin into a lucid English translation.

Romm's prefatory material offers a broad and engaging overview of Seneca's stance and situates the millennia-old text within our modern era. The clarity of Romm's preface is carried on throughout the book in the form of dispersed commentaries and summaries.

Favorite quote

If the angry mind could be revealed and could shine out in some concrete form, it would astonish those who saw it – black, spotted, roiling, twisted, swollen. As things are, its ugliness is so extreme, as it seeps through bones and flesh and so many things in its path.

- Seneca

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