In this series of blog posts I attempt to translate the Moral letters to Lucilius by Seneca into modern English.
Letter 3. What is means to be a friend
It’s important to know what a true friend is. For example, in life there are important choices, worrying events, and other activities which you should be comfortable to talk over with a friend. Friends are people you should be able to trust and confide in.
Of course, you have to speak to different people about different things. You may choose to ask one person for their advice on your career, but you wouldn’t ask this same person their opinion on your relationships. And friends may choose to discuss some of their activities with you, but not others; it’s just the way it is with friends. You not only have to help them if you can, but you have to stick up for them and try to stay in touch too.
Some people may be fortunate to know one person who can fulfil all aspects of what is means to be a friend, but this would be unusual. So you have use your judgement about the different people you choose to have faith in, in a variety of situations. Everybody can’t help with everything, thinking this is the case will lead to frustration. You also shouldn’t say that unless a person is perfectly qualified then you will not seek advice from them. This will mean that you end up with no friends at all.
Read the original text here.
I recommend you read all of the most influential Letters in this new Penguin Classic book. It is the best translation, in my opinion, because it captures Seneca’s humour and style. It is also the easiest to read. My copy is full of highlighted lines, margin notes and tabs. A treasure chest of profound, practical advice which you can apply immediately.
Warning: this is not an academic text; it describes a hands-on philosophy of life. Discover powerful, instantly helpful wisdom. The complete guide to a improving your day-to-day activities, thoughts and actions.