In AD 65, Seneca the Younger was ordered to take his own life by the Roman Emperor Nero. Seneca followed tradition by severing several veins in order to bleed to death, while also ingesting poison.
This order was a response to Seneca’s supposed involvement in a conspiracy to assassinate Nero. Former consul and advisor to the emperor and one of the richest and most powerful men in Rome, Seneca decided to embody the stoic philosophy to the very end. He accepted his fate with calm, even though those around him urged him to beg for his life.
While Seneca’s words of wisdom touched on countless aspects of life, he is perhaps best remembered for his piercing thoughts on the value of time.
This wisdom is relevant to this day, or maybe even more so, as we live in a world that makes it easy to lose track of time as we immerse ourselves in countless micro-distractions.
Carpe diem, as the Romans used to say, is an art that needs tinkering with as we do our best to seize time rather than waste it.
During the Roman Republic, the river Rubicon acted as a sort of frontier line between the Roman province of Cisalpine Gaul to the northeast and Italy proper, controlled directly by Rome, to the south.
In 49 BC, perhaps on January 10, Julius Caesar led a single legion, Legio XIII Gemina, south over the Rubicon from Cisalpine Gaul into Italy. In doing so, he deliberately broke the law limiting his imperium, his authority to control his army.
As he led his army across the Rubicon river into Central Italy, Julius Caesar is credited to having said the following words, “Alea iacta est”.
Some two and a half millennia ago, in what is now Southern Italy, there lived a legendary wrestler by the name of Milo of Croton.
A six-time Olympic Champion, Milo’s career spanned 24 years, during which he was undoubtedly the best wrestler of his generation. He is said to have been able to carry a bull on his shoulders and to have burst a band about his brow by simply inflating the veins on his temples.