A striking thing about Seneca's letters is that Seneca constantly criticizes lengthy abstract philosophical analysis and yet frequently indulges in just that. This means that some of the letters, paradoxically, are quite challenging to read even for someone with formal training in philosophy. Brad Inwood is a towering pioneer in the Seneca-research and in this volume he has selected some of the most complex and interesting letters and added careful commentaries to each of them. On top of that there's a great introduction with lots of useful information about the letters and interesting thoughts on why Seneca wrote them in the first place. An indispensable book if you are up for a for a firmer grasp of Seneca's special brand of Stoicism.
According to popular opinion both in ancient Greece and today, happiness requires things such as wealth, good health, good looks, friends, family and good reputation. In Plato's dialogue Euthydemus Socrates challenges those beliefs by claiming that none of those things are good, if they are not used wisely. In fact, Socrates claims that a person who has wisdom doesn't need any of those things at all since he or she can turn any situation into something beneficial for him- or herself. "If wisdom is present, the one for whom it is present has no need of good fortune". - Socrates in Euthydemus, 279E In other words, Socrates claims that wisdom is a sufficient requirement for happiness (and a necessary requirement too, of course). Aristotle famously challenges that claim. But what exactly does he say? Let's have a look. "we suppose happiness is enduring and definitely not prone to fluctuate, but the same person’s fortunes often turn to and fro. For clearly