Roman Fears: Cicero’s and Seneca’s Remedies

  • Sergio Starkstein


Cicero’s concept and therapy of fear and distress are mainly conveyed in the Tusculan Disputations, a text with strong Stoic influences. In this work, Cicero’s therapeutic aim is to empower individuals to become their own therapists and to enable them to master their emotions. He argued that words have the potential for curing, or at least soothing, teaching and consoling. Cicero created a Stoic-Platonic therapy consisting in a thorough investigation of the roots of fear, complemented by applying techniques of self-mastery, memorization of philosophical maxims, and meditation. A century later, Seneca provided, in his Letters on Ethics, an in-depth analysis of fear and anxiety-producing situations, and considered fear to be the greatest scourge of the human mind. Seneca’s Letters offer an engaging approach to the problem of fear, beginning a tradition of more personally directed, curative philosophical dialogues between philosopher and patient, the reader his or herself.


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western AustraliaFremantleAustralia

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