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LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON

THE PALE FACE OF DEATH:
FROM STOIC CONSTANCY AND LIBERTY
TO SUICIDE AND RUBENS’S DYING SENECA*
JAN PAPY

… and then, what’s brave, what’s noble,
Let’s do it after the high Roman fashion,
And make death proud to take us.
Shakespeare, Anthony and Cleopatra, Act IV, Scene XV.

One night, soon after completing the Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam, a
comprehensive explanatory introduction to his beloved Seneca, the Roman Stoic
author to whom he had already devoted more than thirty years of his scholarly
career, Justus Lipsius pondered his work and life in a Senecan meditatio. It
should not surprise us that Lipsius’s philosophical practice once again induced
him to write. As he explained to Joannes Woverius, his former student and
future literary executor,1 he was neither ill nor depressed; yet, he felt impelled
that night to compose his own epitaph.2 Just as he had done for many of his
deceased friends – Ogerius Giselinus Busbecquius, Nicolaus Micault, Franciscus
Sweertius’s relatives, Franciscus Verdugius, Franciscus Hovius and Daniel
Vander Baren – he produced an epitaph of nine lines in iambic trimeter3:
* An earlier version of this text has been presented at the XIVth Colloquium of the Institut Interuniversitaire pour l’Étude de l’Humanisme et de la Renaissance (Université Libre de Bruxelles – Vrije
Universiteit Brussel – Erasmushuis Anderlecht, 16-18 May 2002), on Les Fastes de la Mort dans les
Anciens Pays-Bas (XVIe-XVIIe siècle) / Celebrating Death in the Low Countries, 16th – 17th centuries).
I cordially thank Prof. Dr Jill Kraye (Warburg Institute, London) for all corrections and improvements.
My gratitude extends also to the two anonymous referees for valuable suggestions.
1
See Mark Morford, Stoics and Neostoics: Rubens and the Circle of Lipsius, Princeton,
1991, pp. 44 and 50.
2
See Iusti Lipsi Epistolae (hereafter: ILE) 04 02 11 (= J. Lipsius, Opera Omnia, Antwerp,
1637, I, p. VIII): ‘Non equidem aeger animi aut corporis sum, ne te percutiam, tamen nescio quis
impetus noctu incidit Epitaphium mihi carmen scribere, quod feci et hic habes, sed tibi adhuc uni.’
On Lipsius’s epitaph, its wide circulation in print and its various translations, see Jan Papy, ‘The
“neerduÿdse” Translation by Adriaan Marselaer (ca. 1540-1617) of Lipsius’ Epitaph’, LIAS, 22,
1995, pp. 157-162.
3
See Jan Papy, ‘La poésie de Juste Lipse. Esquisse d’une évaluation critique de sa technique
poétique’, in Christian Mouchel, ed., Juste Lipse (1547-1606) en son temps. Actes du colloque de
Strasbourg, 1994, Paris, 1996, pp. 163-214.
LIAS 37/1 (2010) 35-53. doi: 10.2143/LIAS.37.1.2056215
© 2010 by LIAS. All rights reserved.

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sustinent? Tota rerum natura umbra est aut inanis aut fallax. sustain us? The whole universe is then a vain or deceptive shadow’). 1). Constantia. Extremum hoc te alloquor. even though modelled on the literary conventions of Antiquity. Cui litterae dant nomen. NIHIL4. vanitas. Nuper locutus et stilo et lingua fui. with Seneca. Vis altiore voce me tecum loqui? HUMANA CUNCTA fumus. Whose fame has come from my writing and your favour. et tuus favor.’ (‘What are we then? What becomes of all these things that surround us. pp. Louvain. quod perennet. for instance.5 Scholars who study Lipsius have long debated whether he held a consistent philosophical position and also whether he himself was able to live up to the Neostoic principles which he so eloquently expressed. Epistulae ad Lucilium. 88. 5 The (slightly adapted) translation is Mark Morford’s (Morford. 6 See Toon Van Houdt and Jan Papy. therefore. 186-220. In the first place. Aeternum ut gaudeam. ipse abivi. quae nos circumstant.6 This epitaph. Europae lumen et columen. Jeanine De Landtsheer and Jan Papy. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. support us. abibit hoc quoque: Et nihil hic orbis. who is buried here? I myself will tell you. et. tu apprecare. Towards a Literary and Philosophical Interpretation of Lipsius’ In Calumniam Oratio’.indd 36 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . in a word: NOTHING. May I speak with you in a loftier tone? ALL HUMAN AFFAIRS are smoke. eds. Ego sum LIPSIUS.46: ‘Quid ergo nos sumus? Quid ista. PAPY Quis hic sepultus. it may reveal traces of his intense study of Seneca at this time. may be a rewarding starting-point for an inquiry into Lipsius’s shifting views on death. In the past I spoke with both pen and tongue. shadow. But I have gone. in Gilbert Tournoy. alunt. umbra. pp. Justus Lipsius. Et scaenae imago. 137-138). Sed nomen. 1999. and my fame too will go. the culmination of his humanist and philosophical endeavour to find a new philosophical synthesis between Christianity and Stoicism – a synthesis by means of 4 Compare. Fama. This world possesses nothing lasting. quaeris? Ipse edisseram. I am LIPSIUS. You ask. These are my final words to you: Pray that I may rejoice in eternity. verbo ut absolvam. and emptiness: A scene in a play and.36 J. Proceedings of the International Colloquium Leuven-Antwerp 17-20 September 1997. Now just one of these will be permitted. possidet. Nunc altero licebit. ‘Modestia. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy.

D. Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 37 which he tried to promote Seneca. See. Morford. clearly written with an eye to his posthumous reputation. 47-61. Physique des stoïciens (extraits). 8 José Ruysschaert.indd 37 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . Nevertheless. Étude et traduction des traités stoïciens De la Constance. Binghamton. s. as the foundation of a new secular ethics which could be regarded as a complement to Christian biblical morality. New York. Urbino. 9-11 ottobre 1978). we may be able to locate possible areas of disagreement with Lipsius’s Neostoic programme and with his former views about death. Göttingen. Classe di Lettere e Filosofia. see Alain Michel. allowing us to uncover some of the inherent tensions in Counter-Reformation Europe between theory and practice. pp. ‘Juste Lipse. Tours. Hommage au Professeur G. 1955. For the influence of Tacitus on Muretus and Lipsius. 69-105. 16. 371. 42 and 90. 1). ‘Literary and Philosophical Aspects of Lipsius’s De Constantia in Publicis Malis’. Radke. NY. the paene Christianus and princeps ethicorum. ‘Moral philosophy’. eds. Louvain. éditeur de Tacite’. Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Sanctandreani. Der Neustoizismus als politische Bewegung.8 It was Marc-Antoine Muret who first stimulated his interest in Seneca and Roman Stoicism. III. in I. in Charles B. 213-222. pp. 1986. Id. during his stay in Rome in 1569. eds. 1988. ed.10 In the sixth chapter of Book I. Paris. Juste Lipse et les Annales de Tacite: une méthode de critique textuelle au XVIe siècle. Atti del Colloquio La fortuna di Tacito dal sec. pp. 275282. ‘Tacite et la politique chez Juste Lipse et Muret’. Maria Isnardi Parente. 7 See Jacqueline Lagrée. we must keep in mind that this short document humain is a highly polished literary work. p. in Raymond Chevallier and Rémy Poignault. 119-121. Cambridge. pp. McFarlane. 143. St Andrews 24 August to 1 September 1982. the epitaph may be used to gain a glimpse of Lipsius’s personal attitude towards his own impending death. Gerhard Oestreich and Nicolette Mout. Jason Lewis Saunders. p. Présence de Tacite. 4-5.7 Second. XV ad oggi (Urbino.9 giving rise to a life-long obsession which would oscillate between philology and philosophy. Manuel de philosophie stoïcienne. pp. 1994. eds. 1992. Juste Lipse et la restauration du stoïcisme. Lipsius and Stoic doctrines on death The young Lipsius began his philological study of Seneca. If so. Quentin Skinner. in Franco Gori and Cesare Questa. Schrijvers. 1949. pp. Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies. Piet H. pp. 9 Jill Kraye. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. among others. 1. Antiker Geist und moderner Staat bei Justus Lipsius (1547-1606).. 45-64. 10 The literature on Lipsius’s De Constantia is abundant. The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy. 1986. Lipsius’s philosophical interest in Roman Stoicism resulted in the publication of his highly successful Senecan dialogue De constantia in publicis malis (1584) – his earliest attempt to combine Stoicism and Christianity to create a new philosophy which would help the individual to live through the difficult period of the religious wars that were tearing Northern Europe apart. Schmitt. ‘La storia della filosofia antica nella Manuductio in stoicam philosophiam di Giusto Lipsio’. 1989. Eckhard Kessler and Jill Kraye. like that of Tacitus. Karl 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. 1979.. Justus Lipsius: The Philosophy of Renaissance Stoicism.

14 Supera. Will you waver? It will sustain you. Juste Lipse et la restauration du stoïcisme (as in n. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. Will you hasten to a lake or to a rope? It will console you and bring you back from the threshold of death. Nijmegen and Utrecht. 608e-609a. bella. I. 59-63.’11 A closer look at Lipsius’s views on death in his first Neostoic work reveals that De Constantia was a creed intended to assuage his own troubled heart. 15-16. pp. Ita si mors iis necessaria. 13 Lipsius. From Seneca Lipsius takes the leitmotiv: ‘we are born into governance. Frankfurt am Main. PAPY Lipsius set up an opposition between the virtue of constancy and the desperate alternative of suicide: ‘Will you be down? Constancy will lift you up. Lipsius comes to necessity (necessitas). cities and kingdoms carry their own internal causes of annihilation. 14 Here Lipsius goes back to Plato. Atque ut flumina ad mare feruntur perpeti et prono cursu. 14: ‘In regno nati sumus: Deo parere libertas est. but to obey God is true liberty. De vita beata. so animals. Ad lacum properabis vel ad laqueum? Solabitur et reducet a limine mortis. 19. 7). opidis. 1997. Lagrée. 1946. the logical conclusion of the co-operation between the former three: necessario omnia fieri quae fato sunt.indd 38 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . The Counter-Reformation Prince: Anti-Machiavellianism or Catholic Statecraft in Early Modern Europe. or the vermin and rot to the wood they gnaw. 1584-1650. at the products of the hand or of the mind: they have always fallen into ruin and will continue to do so for eternity. De Constantia. 1990. Providence and Fate. 12 Lipsius. Vacillabis? Sustinebit. 76-77. sic animalibus. Republic. 64-66. denasci.’ See also the published doctoral dissertation by Albertine Maria van de Bilt. I. I. Constant Minds: Political Virtue and the Lipsian Paradigm in England. Eine philosophiegeschichtliche Untersuchung zur “Constantia” des Justus Lipsius.13 The most obvious example of this natural necessity. Lipsius continues in De Constantia. Toronto.’ Compare with Seneca. infera respice. 6: ‘Iacebis? Constantia te attollet. ligno exedens caries aut teredo. and Adriana McCrea. is the decay and destruction of all temporal things: Ut ferro consumens quaedam rubigo per naturam agnata est. Chapel Hill and London.’12 After defining God. sic res omnes humanae per hunc (ut sic dicam) cladium canalem labuntur ad suam metam. 78-79. grandia. 11 Lipsius. pp. aboriri. Robert Bireley. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. necessariae hoc respectu et clades […] Aeterna lex a principio dicta omni huic mundo: nasci. De Constantia.38 J. 15. Weisheit und Geistesstärke. Just as rust is by its nature related to the iron it erodes. regnis internae et suae caussae pereundi. pp. manu facta aut mente: ab omni aevo corruunt et corruent in omne aevum. pp. De Constantia. 1990. 1). Lipsius’ De Constantia en Seneca. pp. caedes administri et instrumenta.8. quibus pestis. I. at things great and small. parva. Meta autem ea mors et interitus. oriri. the manifesto of a humanist who was convinced that he had found in Seneca’s philosophy both a consolation and solution for the public calamities he was enduring. 3-24. And as rivers are led to the sea with a Beuth. Look at the heavenly bodies and the lower realms. Morford.

7. gaudium.’16 The mother of this constancy is patience. so too. VIII. De Constantia. is destruction… From the beginning an eternal law has been imposed on this world: to be born and to die. strength. in Gábor Boros. Together with pain. while realizing ‘that man’. so described because they are independent of moral character: it is only virtue or vice which makes them good or evil. Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. It is this internal transformation – based on the essential Stoic attributes of reason.indd 39 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . non elati externis aut fortuitis. metus and dolor – and false opinions by means of reason (ratio).13-14. ‘enveloped by the mist and clouds of opinion’. 82. Reason – as opposed to false opinions – is nothing other than a true judgement concerning things human and divine. II. I. ‘O Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam (1604) de Lipsius e a Recepção do Estoicismo e da Tradição Estóica no Início da Europa Moderna’.’ 18 Lipsius. titles. ill health. New York. in Pindar’s phrase. 58. wars and massacres are the servants and instruments. Lipsius devoted a chapter to these ‘indifferent things’ (indifferentia). Lipsius. 839.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 39 continuous and swift course. 370-371. 17. If death is inevitable for them. nebulae et nubeculae sunt a fumo Opinionum.18 Twenty years later.95. freedom from the emotions. 1978. 9). exile and poverty. Epistulae ad Lucilium.15 he should show disdain for this course of events by cultivating steadfastness. Pythian Odes. n.19 The failure to 15 Lipsius. Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia. 24. in this respect. and subjection to God’s will – which makes it possible to live contentedly amid the eternal decay and turmoil of the world. 19 Lipsius. Compare also with Aeschylus. Lipsi. which is neither lifted up nor depressed by external or accidental circumstances.. see Jan Papy. 2002.’ The translation is taken from Kraye. ‘Neostoizismus und Humanismus: Lipsius’ neue Lektüre von Seneca in der Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam (1604)’. just as riches. pp. 2: ‘Nam hae. In truth. Skrine. quoting Seneca.. I. De Constantia. in his Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. Id. rectum et immotum animi robur. 4: ‘Constantiam hic appello. On Lipsius’ Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam in general and its philosophical programme. Der Einfluß des Hellenismus 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. Agamemnon. 144-163. So man. so all human affairs slide down to their end by this (so to speak) channel of destruction. 17 Cf. death is commonly regarded as something bad. The theme that life is but a dream was a widely spread topos in Baroque culture. all these things are falsa mala. ed. De Constantia. 859-872. The Baroque: Literature and Culture in SeventeenthCentury Europe. see Peter N.17 must never stop attempting to conquer the passions (adfectus) – cupiditas. quoting Pindar. the constantia which is ‘the upright and immovable mental strength. I. pp. to come into being and to pass away. quae te involvunt. non depressi. I. The truly wise man is expected to accept this lex necessitatis with constancy and patience. which is governed by reason. however. patience in adversity. beauty. of which plague. De Constantia. 408. This end is death and ruin. Moreover. 16 Lipsius. pp. ‘Moral philosophy’ (as in n. ‘is but a dream of a shadow’. power and good health are falsa bona.

in Susanna Morton Braund and Christopher Gill. auf die Philosophie der frühen Neuzeit. Wiesbaden. 53-80.. he recognized that ethics and physics were inseparable aspects of Stoic philosophy: to live one’s life in accordance with nature required knowledge of nature.40 J. Ead. Geert Roskam and Toon Van Houdt. ‘The Subjugation of Grief in Seneca’s Epistles’. Martha C. 8-9. The Passions in Roman Thought and Literature. On the use of the medical metaphor in consolatory literature. in which he recounts their differing views on the parts and definitions of philosophy. Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. the sole good and that the other so-called goods (health. pp. eds. II. following Panaetius. Taking his cue from Aristotle’s Metaphysics. 507-527. Cushman. for Lipsius. 2005. followed by a discussion of the origin and later development of the Stoic school. Nussbaum. following Platonic epistemology. Contrary to the Stoic doctrine that both God and Nature need to be comprehended by means of reason. Though wisdom can be taught and learned in this way. 20 On this therapeutic aspect. Lipsius elaborates on the Stoic doctrine of living according to Nature (naturam sequi) as the only reliable guide to the good life. 23 Lipsius. p.’22 The wise man – who.21 Crucially. Cambridge. Exercices spirituels et philosophie antique. 21 Lipsius. see Robert E. must be ‘cured’ by means of a therapeutic philosophy – the ‘medicine of the psyche’. 48-67.O. learning the laws of nature and their relationship to the rules of conduct in order to discover the nature of good and evil.. 1997. PAPY see that virtue is. 1958. can only be discovered by following the rules of conduct laid down by Nature. 1990. 10. the moral precepts must be reinforced by general doctrines and moral training. is an ideal man in a state of progress (proficiens)23 – will therefore study the physical phenomena and their causes. pp. 1987. eds. 30-31). see Mark P. His Manuductio starts with a general account of the most important philosophical schools of antiquity. 2004. Lipsius. Paris. II. ‘for he knows in a sense all the instances that fall under the universal. wealth. pp. Louvain. nonetheless. 26-36 (esp.24 The road to wisdom. ‘Sanctifying Stoic Virtues? Justus Lipsius’s Use of Clement of Alexandria in the Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam (1604)’. Edmonton. Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. Virtutis Imago: The Conceptualization and Transformation of an Ancient Ideal. power and other external things) are ‘matters of indifference’. Pierre Hadot. Id. pp. sees the understanding of God and his works as a gift. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. 1973. Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. Chapel Hill. Metaphysics. 94. and Marcus Wilson. finally arriving at the Stoic conception of the truly wise man. American Journal of Philology. in reality. 8. 11-14. The Poetics of Therapy: Hellenistic Ethics in its Rhetorical and Literary Context. Lipsius asserts that the main characteristic of the wise man is a form of universal knowledge. 24 Lipsius. 22 See Lipsius. II. Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam.indd 40 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . Princeton. ‘Juvenal’s Thirteenth Satire’. Morford. Therapeia: Plato’s Conception of Philosophy. referring to Aristotle. 982a. in Gert Partoens.20 In addition. II. 1994. The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics.

quid sunt? Punctistitium et vix mereantur hoc nomen. Consolatio ad Polybium. I. ‘Time in Seneca: Past. 24. letter to Otho Hartius: ‘Triginta. the question remains as to how Lipsius envisages this afterlife. Will the soul.’ On Lipsius’ indebtness to Seneca’s view on time.indd 41 22-09-2010 15:34:17 .’ 32 Ibid. 55.27 Life and death are two aspects of one universal law marked by transience and mortality: we are all born to die. Anna L.31 Death is no more than a name to us. the only reason for our existence. 92-109. 26 ILE V. III. 27 See Lipsius’s commentary (his note 55) to Seneca’s Consolatio ad Polybium. 92 01 30 (= Cent. 5). Compared to the Sun of Being. So. centum anni. sexaginta. letter to Joannes Woverius: ‘Quid est haec vita? Nihil nisi ad illam aditus et praeparatio. Consolatio ad Marciam. 70.26 is not our possession: echoing Lucretius and Seneca. 29). Clark. pp. 1968. Motto and John R. illam aeternam. the statements on life and death which Lipsius scattered throughout his treatises. V. it is an unstoppable current. which is. which is like a little bird held in the fragile hand of a small boy.. 26. which door will it open? Interpreting Seneca in a Christian way. Future’. misc. 29 See Lipsius’s commentary (his note 10) to Seneca’s Epistles to Lucilius.6: ‘Ex illo quo primum lucem vidit iter mortis ingressus est accessitque fato propior et illi ipsi qui adiciebantur adulescentiae anni vitae detrahebantur. Emerita. at the end of his life. ‘Place et rôle du temps dans la philosophie de Sénèque’.. and it is only to be feared by those who do not hold hope for the afterlife.: ‘Itaque mors nomen tantum est nobis. Lipsius insists that it has only been lent to us to make use of as if we were visitors passing through. et cui uni vita haec vivit. 86). finally separated from the body – a prison in Plato’s words – attain personal immortality? It is striking that. misc. 21. his commentary on Seneca’s philosophical works and his various consolations to his friends are often fully in line with ancient Stoic thinking. 11. he adds.29 not an abode (mansio) but a road (via).. if life and death are merely a passage. human life is but an empty shadow. V. and if our life is nothing but a pathway to death. but he does so partly in order to orient the doctrine of revelation 25 ILE 97 09 02 (= Cent. 28 See Lipsius’s commentary (his note 17) to Seneca’s Epistles to Lucilius. letter to Ioannes Vivianus. Revue des Etudes Anciennes.2: ‘tota vita nihil aliud quam ad mortem iter est’..28 But. 86). every day brings us nearer to the end of our existence. 30 Compare with Seneca. et illam timeat qui non sperat vivere post mortem. letter to Joannes Woverius. beatam. pp. it is smaller than the tiniest of points (punctistitium). Lipsius follows Seneca’s rationality.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 41 Consequently. and Seneca.25 Our life. where does death lead us. Lipsius defines our worldly existence as an entrance to and preparation for an eternal and blessed life.30 the value of life and death must lie not in themselves but in their end goal. misc. see Pierre Grimal. Belg. compared to eternity. 31-41. 1987.32 Still.’ 31 ILE 05 12 13 W (= Cent. and every hour. Present. in which one’s personal life is transcended and inserted into the rational order of the universe. si cum volumine illo aevi et caeli comparentur.’ 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. and ILE 05 12 13 W (= Cent.

6).. Halkin. LéonE. Moreover. that of a baby still in the womb. it is Strabo’s account of the Brahman belief ‘that life here is. true philosophy is based on a meditatio mortis. censebant Vitam habendam esse. protrita sunt. ed. 268-291. in J. in Tournoy et al. 1: ‘At. ‘Érasme et la mort’.39 and the general views which he expressed on suicide.. si non Stoicorum..’ Lipsius refers to Strabo.’ 38 ILE II. Europae lumen et columen (as in n.’ 35 See. 17-33. 39 See Jeanine De Landtsheer. pp.’38 True philosophy and true consolation are to be found in the contemplation of Nature. as both Petrarch and Erasmus had already eloquently proclaimed. ‘Lipsius’s Letters of Comfort: A Tribute to consolatio in Cicero and Seneca’.1.36 This philosophical reflection is intended to free man from ‘that exaggerated love of life’ which acts as ‘the guard of our prison’. is birth into the true life. 33 Ibid. Pellendus est et. 1: ‘Sed et est alia definitio. Phil. init. Antwerp. tristis haec cogitatio super morte. ‘Erasmus en de dood’. Margolin.42 J. Amsterdam.. quasi conceptorum in utero statum. as is clear from his consolatory letters to friends like Balthasar and Johannes Moretus. that is. in Albert van der Zeijden. nisi custos teneat. Falleris: sapiens cum tranquillitate de ea cogitat… Sed revera ut ii qui in carcere sunt. 1983. elabi velint et possint.34 Yet. among others. pp. But. 34 Ibid. 200. 1990.: ‘Sacra tibi non ingero. Justus Lipsius. 63-83. ut ultima et posthuma meditemur. and that death.35 an acceptance of inevitable death awakens man to the meaning of life itself.: De Placit. vol. 1.’ 37 Lipsius. Ernst W. to those who have devoted themselves to philosophy. PAPY towards a Platonic mysticism. 1972. 85 03 01 (= Cent misc. 61). mortem autem partum in veram vitam et felicem quidem iis qui recte sint philosophati. letter to Theodorus Leeuwius. II. et vivamus morituri iterumque victuri. which in some way constitutes Lipsius’s philosophical testament. the happy life’33 which opens up the way to a cosmic mysticism: already in the womb.19. 36 Lipsius. sed Brachmanes illi Indi. I. and Jan Brandt.indd 42 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. saepe cogitandum quod semel faciendum est. pp. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. allowing us to ‘illuminate the shadows of our sorrows and pains with the Sun of Reason. Paris. ut possit.: ‘Quid haec vita? velut formamur in utero et praeparamur ad illam aeternam. as it were.37 It also enables us to throw off the chains of opinion and passion. Physiologiae Stoicorum libri tres. and of Reason. that age-old symbol of the universe. that temple of the cosmic God. ‘Meditatio mortis chez Pétrarque et Érasme’. digna ipsis: “Philosophiam esse… meditationem mortis” {in marg. 1604. In the second chapter of Book II of the Manuductio ad Stoicam philosophiam. inquies. II. 15.} … et ideo existimandum philosophiam esse mortis affectationem consuetudinemque moriendi… O salutaris haec definitio et monitio! etiam illo sensu. veteris philosophiae. Histoire des Religions. sic in hac vita nos sistit ille velut commentariensis amor vitae. Jan Van Hout. we are destined for a new birth and for eternity. De cultuurgeschiedenis van de dood. and Manuel Stoffers. Colloquia Erasmiana Turonensia. et ipsam adducit. Geography.-C. 303-311. Kohls. pp. ed.

Epistulae ad Lucilium.’ 41 The metaphor of the harbor (portus) als symbol of death is frequently used by Seneca. due to its classical origins. it needs to be emphasized that. endeavours to lift his correspondents to the extra-cosmic God of Christianity via the cosmic God of Stoicism. 70. 592. committed suicide in the presence of his son-in-law Helvidius Priscus and the Cynic philosopher Demetrius. rational and materialistic Stoic universe. it is rewarding to investigate whether similar observations can be made with regard to Lipsius’s views on suicide. beginning with his philological work on Tacitus in the 1570s. Hercules Oetaeus. 636. By quoting Thrasea’s final words. Saint-Étienne. in his consolatory letters. I.43 The symbolic connection first occurs in his commentary on Tacitus’s account of Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus. imo nec sectae districte adhaerendum… Una Secta est in quam me iudice tuto nomen demus. 1131. See. 1021. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. It is not difficult to perceive how Lipsius. who. 1976. 632-635. p. 150-151. however. e.indd 43 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . he continued to link suicide with the theme of tyranny. Jehasse. 1).42 In this context. 2. Seneca. La Renaissance de la critique (as in n. 42 See Jean Jehasse. Agamemnon. pp. p. Hercules furens.g. after cutting open his veins and offering his blood to Jupiter the Liberator. 42). condemned by Nero in AD 66. thus deliberately placing suicide in both an individual and political context. Lipsius’s admiration for this most prominent of the Stoic critics of Nero was expressed in the letter of dedication to his Tacitus edition addressed to Emperor Maximilian II. Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam. primarily anthropocentric and naturalistic.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 43 Lipsius’s Neostoic philosophy – which he characterized as eclectic40 – is not built solely on the foundation of Stoic philosophy. But though he attempts to instil constancy and piety in his grieving correspondents. 5: ‘Volui nec homini uni. 54 and pp. asking them to open their hearts to Reason and to God’s eternal law and salutary decree – he adopts the Senecan image of God leading us ultimately to the blessed harbour41 – the genre of the consolatio remains.. Lipsius and the question of suicide Before focusing on Lipsius’s changing views on suicide. spoken to Helvidius Priscus. Faced with the question of how man’s individual soul is to be saved in this cold.3. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. Lipsius intends them to serve as a lesson for his own time: 40 Lipsius. Lipsius turns once again to Seneca in order to connect the ancient philosophical tradition and Christian thought. 43 Morford. La Renaissance de la critique: l’essor de l’Humanisme érudit de 1560 à 1614. Ea est ˆEklektikß.

see now also Jeanine De Landtsheer. Opes delibant aut diripiunt? Pereunt eaedem absenti. Moralia. Lipsius’ De Constantia en Seneca (as in n. Moreover. pp. young man. praeterque leges). Why should I be upset about what some Cotta or some Carus endeavours to do at court? Do they use force against others? Not yet against me. mi Falkenburgi. Seneca and Helvidius – all of whom confronted tyranny by committing suicide – remained for years Lipsius’s ideal of constancy and individual liberty: Ego qui status patriae huius sit. non timere propter quod timentur. 16. Humanismo y pervivencia del mundo clásico. La Renaissance de la critique (as in n. Tív êstì doÕlov toÕ qane⁄n ãfrontiv æn.44 J. sic Helvidius. 1283-1288. Moreover. PAPY Specta. qui sub Nerone. Sic Socrates adfectus. p. 11). nec nego. Ad impium aliquid adigunt? Numquam.2. My dear Falkenburgius.44 Observe. fearing attacks from both Catholics and Protestants. 15 refers to an incomplete autograph manuscript of the planned dialogue Thraseas: Leiden. sic Thraseas et magna illa sapientium manus. Letters to Atticus. p. 34B and Cicero. (Aspera in eo multa fateor. qui meus. as a sequel to his De Constantia Lipsius planned to write a dialogue entitled Thrasea sive de contemptu mortis. But I also know what concerns me. 79. and I do not deny it. ms.46 Quis servus est. eds. in José María Maestre Maestre – Joaquín Pascual Barea – Luis Charlo Brea. 636. 9. cur angar quid Cotta aliquis aut Carus moliantur in aula? Vim aliis inferunt? Nondum mihi. 2002. n. together with Socrates. ‘Justus Lipsius (1547-1606) and Publius Clodius Thraseas Paetus’. Alcañiz-Madrid. lines 45-47. 74 07 00 M. qui Athenas non deseruit.1. sic Seneca. nec ignoro. 11). Morford. 1). A. Mentem enim istam liberam quis tyrannus mihi artat? Internam sententiam quis cogit? Cultum metumque divinum e pectore isto quis eripit? Et si velint. I know what the situation of this country is. Annals. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. Lipsius’ De Constantia en Seneca (as in n. 950 (ed.35.9. ceterum in ea tempora natus es ut firmare animum expediat constantibus exemplis. perire modo qui non timet? Hoc enim firmum adversus externa omnia telum. imo cum Nerone vixit. 45 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. intenta. In fact Lipsius quotes Tacitus. Van de Bilt. 79. p. and may the gods keep the omen at bay. but you are born in times like these that make it expedient to strengthen one’s resolve with examples of steadfastness. et omen quidem dii prohibeant. ecce sacram ancoram. University Library.indd 44 22-09-2010 15:34:17 . insessas non uno sed triginta tyrannis. violent and harsh things which are contrary to morality and contrary to the law. I admit that there are many bitter. p. Apud me ecce et in rusculo meo vivo. iuvenis. 19. Do they nibble away at riches or steal them? These perish anyhow for 44 ILE I. Lips. Nauck). 46 Euripides. I live by myself in my small farmhouse.45 Thrasea Paetus. Fragm. 42). Although he never plucked up the courage to publish this dialogue. praeter mores. Sed hoc quoque scio. quoted in Plutarch. 54 and Jehasse. rigida. In addition to Van de Bilt. Look.

1984. 51 L. was already sent to this journal. and fiery’. 4). This was the attitude of Helvidius. London and New York. when he is scornful of death? This is a powerful weapon against everything external: not to fear things because they are feared. Salmon.47 In accordance with the precepts of the Stoa and of his own Neostoic dialogue De Constantia.indd 45 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . or rather with. Annaei Senecae philosophi Opera quae exstant omnia. who lived under. Paris. ‘Stoicism and Roman Example: Seneca and Tacitus in Jacobean England’. 49 The ideological linking of Seneca and Tacitus had important consequences for the Neostoic cult of both authors in Jacobean England.L. Similem insculptam reperiri in gemmis etiam aiunt. so that I can not offer a in-depth dialogue with his views.’ 48 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. Journal of the History of Ideas. I.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 45 someone who is absent. See. forceful. Thraseas and that great band of wise men. where further bibliographical references are offered. 202-203. What tyrant constrains this free mind of mine? Who restricts my internal thoughts? Who rips the worship and fear of God from this breast? And if they should want to do so. Lipsius depicts suicide as the affirmation par excellence of liberty and the expression of the firmest resistance to tyranny and oppression. 199-225. his consistent attempt to forge an ideological link between Tacitus and Seneca49 reached its culmination in his 1605 edition of Seneca.48 In addition. Yolande Grisé. 1605. 1989. Nero. and Gilles D. for instance.. p.50 framed by a Latin inscription which emphasized that the portrait expressed ‘something vigorous.51 Because Lipsius had not been satisfied with Theodore Galle’s representation of Seneca. an elaboration of a paper delivered in 2002. Le suicide dans la Rome antique. 50 See the recently published volume by James Ker. though it was inhabited not by one but by thirty tyrants. pp. Senecae Imago. This was the attitude of Seneca. This was the attitude of Socrates. pp. acre. in balneo animam iam exhalantis et in verbis monitisque aureis deficientis. 1990. 50. Anton J. a Iusto Lipsio emendata et scholiis illutrata. Antwerp. 1982. John H. engraved by Cornelis Galle. Thomas Lodge’s 1614 English translation of Seneca’s prose works is regarded as both the heir of Lipsius’s 1605 Seneca and a monument of the Neostoicism in Jacobean literature. Light from the Porch: Stoicism and English Renaissance Literature. van Hooff. He not only quoted Tacitus’s gruesome narrative of the philosopher’s death at length in the introduction but also inserted an engraving portraying the ‘dying Seneca’ in profile. Exstat Romae in marmore. who did not flee from Athens. Ker’s study appeared only when my article. 191.M. The Deaths of Seneca (Oxford. misc. 75 08 01 (= Cent. igneum aliquid refert. look at this sacred anchor: Who is a slave. for the posthumous 1615 edition: a portrait-bust made 47 ILE I. 2009) in which it is argued alike that Lipsius and Rubens have been pivotal in the visual image of the dying Seneca. Balthasar Moretus and Peter Paul Rubens co-operated on the production of two new illustrations. Montréal and Paris. Vividum. Do they force you to commit a sacrilege? They never can. Plate opposite page i: ‘L. From Authanasia to Suicide: Self-killing in Classical Antiquity. ut videtur. et est effigies. See. Monsarrat. among others.

93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. The Dying Seneca. 305. Oil.indd 46 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . Munich. Saal VII. Rubens.P.46 J.7 cm. PAPY P. 185 ≈ 154. Inv.-Nr. Alte Pinakothek.

54 Lipsius explicitly connected Seneca’s suicide and Stoic liberty as models for those condemned to execution for their resistance to religious or political tyranny.53 Seneca’s last words and heroic death. ‘Tacitus und Rubens. 517-525. pp. XIII (I-II). 121). pp. pp. Elizabeth McGrath. 1). intended as a tribute to the deceased teacher of his brother Philip. see Patricia Eichel-Lojkine. L’histoire distribuée en exemples. Leiden. Christian Humanism: Essays in Honour of Arjo Vanderjagt. pp.e. 282-294. whose moral writings were full of valuable lessons for sixteenth-century Christians and whose supposed correspondence with St Paul was never categorically rejected by Lipsius – is depicted as a true Christian martyr “meeting an authentically stoical end” with his eyes turned heavenwards. 56 McGrath. were intended to serve as a pattern of his life (imago vitae suae): his friends and his wife Paulina were meant to be fortified by ‘the contemplation of a life lived out in virtue’. 1990. 53). as Tacitus testifies. 7-9. which he later used for his famous painting of the Death of Seneca. ‘The First Christian Defender of Stoic Virtue? Justus Lipsius and Cicero’s Paradoxa stoicorum’. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. Lipsius’s crypto-Christian Seneca – a virtuous Stoic philosopher who is paene Christianus. it became an exemplum of obedience to one’s father. 1). since Seneca’s heroic quality and his sanctitas. Rubens: Subjects from History (as in n. 57 See now Jan Papy.52 and the ‘dying Seneca’ in the act of speaking his final words as he stands in a bathtub. 54 Gregor Maurach. 19.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 47 by Rubens from a marble original which he brought with him from Rome. 55 The ‘grandeur morale’ of Seneca’s suicide inspired other interpretations as well: for instance. Suicide in the Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam In the third book of the Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam Lipsius devotes twenty chapters (i. London. 107-147 (esp.56 This brings us to the final and most intriguing question: does this contemporary representation of Lipsius’s Neostoic and Christian ideals offer a new clue to the interpretation of his account of Stoic views on suicide? 3. pp. In line with Tacitus’s emphasis on Seneca’s constantia and his association of Seneca with Socrates. Rubens: Subjects from History (Corpus Rubenianum Ludwig Burchard. 284-285. 139-153. 2009. p. MacDonald et al. Nouvelle Revue du Seizième Siècle. ‘Seneca se necans. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. pp. eulogized more than once by Lipsius..57 His aim was apparently to show that these ‘Paradoxes’ were merely a typically Stoic attempt to illustrate the absolute distinction between good – which exists 52 Morford. based on a design made by Rubens in Rome. Morford. eds. 184-185. 2001. in Alastair A. is not a representation of suicide as such. emblèmes et “lieux communs” par Boissard et Thevet’.55 Elizabeth McGrath has pointed out that Rubens’s painting. chapters 3-23) to an analysis of the Stoic ‘Paradoxes’. Gymnasium. Zwei Bilder von Senecas Tod’. 97. pp. 53 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy.indd 47 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . 1997.. are given prominence.

1963. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy.’62 After recalling Epictetus’s famous description of life as a smoke-filled room which one is free to leave by an open door. Earl of Leicester. writes Lipsius quoting Seneca: ‘his way out is clear. presented in a letter to Petrus Regemorterus in January 1589. pp. Robert Wyllie.58 It is worth examining Lipsius’s discussion of this issue in the Manuductio of 1604. stunted. II. II. 5. 15-32. ‘The person who has learned to die has unlearned slavery’.60 Epictetus also compared life to a game: we can refuse to play if the rules change. where he counsels actual methods of making one’s exit: In whatever direction you turn your eyes. is at liberty to take his own life. L’Antiquité Classique. I. servire dedidicit… Liberum ostium habet. even when enslaved. that he is always happy. [89] 01 24 (= Cent. 59 ILE III. pp.indd 48 22-09-2010 15:34:18 .61 To live the life of Reason.43-45 and Discourses. there lies the means to end your troubles. he begins. At the end. The wise man is not only allowed to do this. blighted and barren? Yet 58 For discussions of the Stoic view on suicide see R. a few months after the death of Robert Dudley. there are circumstances in which it is incumbent on him to commit suicide rather than take part in some disgraceful action.63 Lipsius quotes one of the most dramatic passages in Seneca.. See that sea. see Nicole Tadic-Gilloteaux. 1969. Prudentia. Lipsius tackles the Stoic paradox that the wise man. are matters of indifference.59 Life and death. misc. 233-255. that the Stoic sapiens is rich. 34. even when faced with the greatest of calamities. according to Stoic orthodoxy. Discourses.33. Lipsius can readily argue that the wise man is a king. 243-284. 61 Epictetus.25. See that tree. ‘Views on Suicide and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy and Some Related Contemporary Points of View’. and so on.7-11. and 417-476.24. that well? There sits liberty – at the bottom. pp. pp. it does not make much difference when we do so. I.10: ‘Qui mori didicit. 62 Seneca. by his own decision. 2004.23. Discourses. 32.’ On Seneca and his views on suicide in general. Rist. 11. and Willy Evenepoel. ‘Sénèque face au suicide’. the Stoic must retain full control over his life by means of his individual actions.22. pp. ‘Der Selbstmord’. 1973. ‘The Philosopher Seneca on Suicide’. 26. 541-551. even when poverty-stricken. that river. but. Archiv für Religionswissenschaft. 1908. 217-243. John M. 75-104.25.48 J. III. Epictetus compared life to an inn at which we are guests: since we must anyway leave at some time. Hirzel. Ancient Society. PAPY only in the mind – and evil.20 and I. Discourses.18. 22) 60 Epictetus. Epistulae ad Lucilium. Stoic Philosophy. Cambridge. 63 Epictetus. See that precipice? Down that is the way to liberty. In light of the Stoic cultivation of a strong individual conscience which is indifferent to external stresses and strains and which enables us to make decisions on the basis of the laws of nature or Divine Providence. for he elaborates in extenso earlier arguments concerning the conditions under which suicide is permitted.

’66 It is important to bear in mind that. you ask. it is time to depart from life.14-16 and 19-21. ibi malorum finis est. for the Stoic.5: ‘Itaque sapiens vivit. is a matter of seizing the right moment. He does not decide to commit suicide on account of misery or depression in the usual sense. Nimis tibi operosos exitus monstro et multum animi ac roboris exigentes? Quaeris quod sit ad libertatem iter? Quaelibet in corpore tuo vena!’ It should be noticed that Seneca constantly referred to suicide as the road to freedom. Lipsius writes. is nonetheless surprising: he cites Plato’s comments on suicide in the Laws. 2. not as long as he can’. Vides illum praecipitem locum? Illac ad libertatem descenditur. De ira. VII. is the highway to liberty? Any vein in your body!64 As in his letter to Regemorterus. Lipsius’s conclusion. ‘it is appropriate for the wise man to abandon life at a moment when he is enjoying supreme happiness… For the Stoic view is that happiness.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 49 from its branches hangs liberty.130. Lipsius explains in the Manuductio that it is the wise man’s task to deliberate about the reasons for suicide. 67 Cicero.3-4: ‘Quocumque respexeris. quoting Cicero. 26. ‘The wise man will therefore live as long as he ought. See that throat of yours. Epistulae ad Lucilium. De finibus bonorum et malorum. 65 Seneca. Lipsius follows Diogenes Laertius’s account of Zeno’s decree that ‘the wise man will for reasonable cause make his own exit from life. mutilation. your heart? There are ways to escape from servitude. infelicem? Pendet inde libertas. says Lipsius. non quantum potest. If circumstances are such that this becomes very difficult or impossible. cor tuum? Effugia servitutis sunt. 66. Vides iugulum tuum. 70.60. quantum debet. or incurable disease. on his country’s behalf or for the sake of his friends.’ 66 Diogenes Laertius. illud flumen. Mere living is not a good. Vides illud mare. which means a life in harmony with nature.14-15. It makes no difference to the wise man’s deliberations whether or not he is materially comfortable or satisfied: ‘very often’. illum puteum? Libertas illic in imo sedet. Are the exits which I show you too difficult.65 In explaining the ‘reasonable causes’ for suicide. Epistulae ad Lucilium. a wise and virtuous man’s happiness does not depend on the possession of material goods. 12. where he condemns ‘the man that slays himself – violently robbing himself of his Fategiven share of life. when this is not legally ordered by the State. your gullet. echoing Seneca.10. and 77. and when he 64 Seneca. it is ‘living well’ which is the proper and sole concern of the truly good man. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy.’67 If it is not possible to live according to nature. Vides illam arborem brevem. do they require too much courage and strength? What. His sole criterion is what is most conducive to the moral life. see De providentia. 3.15.10. 70.indd 49 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . Lives of Eminent Philosophers. retorridam.13. though in line with his Neostoic ambitions. guttur tuum. 3.5. then it is time for him to make an exit.10. or if he suffers intolerable pain. since happiness is synonymous with virtue.

‘Thou shalt not kill’ (Deuteronomy 5:17). De Senectute. Euripides and Quintus Curtius.’. Before calling on Augustine. Lipsius seems to defend (this time with Plato) the moral actions ‘under necessity’ of Socrates and Seneca: not only did they accept a death sentence. Lipsius wants to demonstrate that some Stoic philosophers. Manuductio ad Stoicam Philosophiam. that the issue of suicide is in itself unworthy of the founding fathers of Stoicism. is one of the indifferentia and is therefore to be rejected. an non aliquid inclinas?” – Lipsius: “Absit. cruelty. 23: ‘Auditor: “Heus tu. Plato. Aristotle. Ecce enim omnes istos aliosque colores una veritatis spongia iam ibo detersum”. quia vincere constitui. II. Quod accuratius dixerim. among them the ‘divine’ Epictetus. Laws. duty to take his own life is rejected in the following chapter of the Manuductio. Laws (Loeb Classical Library.’ 70 Lipsius quotes Cicero. 209). when circumstances warrant such a step. the Platonists. injustice or stupidity. Bury. 873 C. non circumscribere. English translation taken from R. Compare also with Plato. who deny that any external things or events are evil and yet maintain that the wise man may commit suicide. Lipsius demonstrates. however. Virgil (‘platonissans’). that is. plene et libere. in certain cases.G. candide et magno a me animo factum. where Lipsius states that his defence of the paradox was only a sham and that he now intends to argue against it. respuo. moreover.’68 Again. and III. suicide is an indication of cowardice. 62C. III. where Socrates states that it is wrong to depart from life and to forsake our post in the world. nor by falling into some disgrace that is beyond remedy or endurance – but merely inflicting upon himself this iniquitous penalty owing to sloth and unmanly cowardice. PAPY is not compelled to it by the occurence of some intolerable and inevitable misfortune. Caussae praevaricari numquid debui? et pleraque omnia igitur attuli. Phaedo. London and Cambridge.50 J. Lipsius once again builds his case on the Bible. Apuleius. MA. since the question of whether the choice of death. Lipsius cites the ancient pagan witnesses who condemned suicide: Homer. nec dicta iis subduxi. Plato. sed pro illorum. The Stoic paradox of the wise man’s freedom or. For these thinkers. In addition. At this point Lipsius invokes Augustine’s critique of the Stoics. 265-267. 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy.’ Death.69 Just as he referred to the decrees of Christian religion in his letter to Regemorterus. 1961 [= 1926]. they turned it into an emblem of their rational freedom. like life. 22 in fine: ‘Haec pro Stoicorum sensu dicta sunto. he writes: 68 Plato.indd 50 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . now adding St Augustine’s influential discussion of the sixth commandment. of God’70). 69 Lipsius. Addressing the Greek Stoic philosopher. is in accordance with Nature has been answered by Zeno: ‘death belongs to those things which Nature rejects and to which it is opposed. pp. unless God commands us to do so. Pythagoras (who ‘forbids us to abandon our guard and post of life without the orders of our commander. 73. spoke with ‘wiser and more modest voices’ and can thus be read in a more Christian way.

1999.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 51 Epictetus. 2000. 125-152. who is the sole proprietor of the life which is given to us. in Allan D. Suicide in the Middle Ages. pp. Volume II: The Curse on Self-Murder. van der Horst. Epistulae ad Lucilium. Bibliothèque augustinienne. finally. or those who cheerfully and tranquilly await it – for the first attitude is sometimes inspired by madness and sudden anger. Discourses. and having to associate with these people and those on account of it. 147-180.9. p. John C. Lipsius’s Seneca also offers various similar Christian-sounding sentiments. since Christian doctrine can be summarized in one brief sentence: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. 282-288.. both of 71 Lipsius quotes Epictetus.72 All this playful arguing for and against. while the second is the calm which results from fixed judgement. On St Augustine and the problem of suicide see Alexander Murray. Besides. Bauerschmidt. To which Epictetus replies: Men.. eds. ‘L’opinion de Saint Augustin sur le suicide’. and easy for those of your convictions to bear. After citing some famous examples of endurance (patientia) and dutiful conduct towards God (pietas) found in the Scriptures. Gustave Bardy.20-21. giving it food and drink. pp. from these chains which encumber us and weigh us down.71 Though in reality a staunch advocate of the merits of suicide.73 Lipsius applies this doctrine to suicide by adding the words ‘yourself or your neighbour’. in Patric Ranson. pp. Augustine through the Ages: An Encyclopedia. then you are free to return to him. But for now be content to remain in the place where he has stationed you. Lipsius quotes Seneca. 820. ‘La mort volontaire dans l’oeuvre de saint Augustin’. ‘A Pagan Platonist and a Christian Platonist on Suicide’. When he gives the sign and frees you from this service. And I do not know which men give us greater courage – those who request death. 773-775. Patrick Baudet. Are not such things indifferent. Indeed. Augustine. 1988. 33. MI and Cambridge. 1975. Revue d’Histoire des Religions. 25. City of God. Vigiliae christianae. Grand Rapids. pp. 1971. 101-121.12-14 and 16-17. resting and cleaning it. suicide is contrary to the purpose of our Creator. 1959. Bels. allow us be freed. however shrewd. Following Augustine’s interpretation. and have we not come from him? Allow us return to the place from which we came. 287. Pieter W. we can no longer endure being tied to this poor body. Lipsius points out two embarrassing exceptions to the prohibition against killing. Oxford. I. 73 Viz. 72 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. Saint Augustin. wait upon god. ‘La Question du suicide’. and nothing to us? And is not death no evil? Are we not akin to god.12. I. J. Lausanne. only one of which Lipsius quotes: You may observe certain men who crave death even more earnestly than others are accustomed to beg for life. pp. 30. ed. ‘Suicide’. Fitzgerald et al. the time of your sojourn is short.indd 51 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . is entirely superfluous.

only justified either by a legal procedure or by a special intimation from God Himself. I. is implicated in the act of murder. at least as described by his Catholic friends. in his dialogue the Phaedo. Surrounded by three Jesuits. 64-77 and 192-202 (esp.52 J. either himself or another. 73). 59. I. See L. ‘Philosophy. in Seneca. to endure death?’ Once again. PAPY which were mentioned and commented on by Augustine. who died for liberty. Moreover. The first is Samson. City of God. ‘Saint Augustin et le suicide des vierges consacrées’.74 The second exception refers to chaste Christian women. Cato and Roman Suicide’. 1987. for which Plato. gave him the opportunity to bring up the well-known Stoic ‘martyrs’: Lucretia. pp. fulfilled both his life and his philosophy in the most worthy and dramatic way – a re-enactment of the death of Socrates. also had ‘quelque chose de théâtral’. such as Sophronia and Pelagia. Volume II: The Curse on Self-Murder (as in n. in particular. Lipsius had no desire to get involved in theological casuistry. Suicide in the Middle Ages. he betrayed the Stoic doctrines of De Constantia and Manuductio? For Lipsius’s deathbed scene. 110-113 and 139. 88. who killed themselves to avoid being violated. n. The examples of Sophronia and Pelagia. Greece & Rome. 66). 323-28. condemned by Nero in 65 AD. 33. who had maintained that killing oneself in order to escape the tyrant’s mad desire for power was the most noble example of legitimate suicide. 75 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. 77 See Miriam Griffin. pp. and Cato. both for himself and for those of his contemporaries suffering political and religious oppression. however. had not Seneca himself. he stuck to Augustine’s general conclusion that ‘with some exceptions.17. while at the same time offering his friends an imago vitae suae? But what about Lipsius? Is his epitaph a sort of verbal and philosophical imago vitae suae? Or did he instead offer ‘the pattern of his life’ when.’76 There was. pp. the fountain of all justice. Murray.indd 52 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . had provided the script77 – thus creating an atmosphere of dignity and wisdom. 1986. City of God.75 Since. p. would I not be obliged. 76 Lipsius quotes Augustine. Menaut.21. leaving theology deliberately aside. so that his so-called ‘suicide’ took precedence over the more general law. who died for chastity. he looked for an answer. a reason why Lipsius chose to include this digression on the exceptions mentioned by Augustine. Lipsius’s final question is revealing and also reinforces the connection which he was keen to make between suicide and politics: ‘If then a magistrate or a prince sentences me to death. Bulletin de Littérature Ecclésiastique. however. would I not be able. facing his own death. These two suicides gave the highest conceivable endorsement to the ideals for which they died. Lipsius displayed 74 Augustine. whoever kills a man. who received a divine command to destroy himself and his enemies.

PhD thesis. 47-72. unlike most of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment. Seidler. University of California. 115-122. 132-133. ‘Kant and the Stoics on Suicide’. despite his Neostoic ambitions. 172-184 and Mark Sacharoff. 33. Stoics and Neostoics (as in n. 1). 1964. as well as the symbolic and propagandistic uses to which it was put.LIPSIUS’S NEOSTOIC REFLECTIONS ON THE PALE FACE OF DEATH 53 ‘the constancy of Christian strength’ (Christiani roboris constantia). Los Angeles.kuleuven. 1983. repeatedly and forcefully expressed throughout his life in his many writings. ‘Suicide and Brutus’ Philosophy in Julius Caesar’. cf. pp. pp. 429-453. Yet it might also show that Lipsius.81 Even if this was so. 79 93503_Lias_2010/1_03_Papy. 44. Kant’s chief argument against the Stoic belief in the permissibility of suicide was rooted in his concept of the free rational personality as the autonomous basis of all moral obligation and worth.indd 53 22-09-2010 15:34:18 . Melvyn Donald Faber. he was and remained. Journal of the History of Ideas. Lipsius’s reputed deathbed renunciation of Stoicism. and when encouraged to remember the consolations of Stoicism. 80 See Lester G. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Neo-Latin Studies Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 B-3000 Leuven Belgium E-mail: jan. Crocker. he never stopped encouraging himself and others to respect true freedom and to preserve their virtue whatever the individual or political circumstances in which they found themselves embroiled. pp. 1972.79 was well aware of incompatibilities between ancient Stoicism and Christian belief and that. did not diminish the power of this imago vitae suae. he replied that ‘those things were vain… this [pointing to a crucifix] is true endurance’ (illa sunt vana… haec est vera patientia).be 78 Morford. ‘The Discussion of Suicide in the Eighteenth Century’. Suicide in Shakespeare. Journal of the History of Ideas. 13. pp. 81 One might compare Lipsius’s position with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. like Immanuel Kant in the mid-1770s. in which Stoic patientia was transformed into the passio Christi.78 This shift reveals the consequences of Lipsius’s return in 1591 to the Counter-Reformation Catholic Church. where there appears to be a contradiction between Brutus’s elaborate statement on suicide and his later words and actions. Journal of the History of Ideas. 1952. see Michael J. pp.80 a Christian before he was Stoic.papy@arts.