Symposium of Stoics in Lockdown
Epictetus (50-135 A.D.)

Our Symposium’s at half past three
Beneath our gold laburnum tree
Just Epictetus, Ken and me.

The Stoics wanted to propound
A cosmic Providence profound.
They’re not as Stoic as they sound.

Reason and Ethics equals Right,
And Humans must endure their plight...
Well, we’re enduring here alright!

So here we are, in mild debate
How best to ‘Man Up’ to our fate.
We’ll just endure our gin and wait.

Zeno, Cleanthes, Chrysippus too,
Penaetius, Posodonius, (just to name a few)-
Let’s sit this out… pull up a pew!

Rise Marcus Aurelius! Rise
Meditatively, before our eyes:
‘Exhort’, ‘Inspire’ our Stoic enterprise.

We must not rush like Seneca,
To take a Bath… a step too far!
Instead of Death, enjoy a spa.

The Stoics always got it right.
In darkest days and dimmest night,
Do F**k all, till the end's in sight!

Mary Lister

Note: In AD 65, in the aftermath of the Pisonian conspiracy, Nero ordered Seneca to kill himself.  He did so in the traditional manner, by severing several veins in order to bleed to death, and then entering a  warm bath, to speed the flow of blood. Tacitus wrote, "He was then carried into a bath, with the steam of which he was suffocated, and he was burnt without any of the usual funeral rites." His wife Pompeia Paulina attempted to share his fate, but by order of Nero she was saved, and her wounds bound up.

 death of seneca
The Death of Seneca, as imagined by
Manuel Domínguez Sánchez (1871)

If you have any thoughts on this poem, Mary Lister
would be pleased to hear them.