LS ep 070 : On Baiae and Morals


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According to Wikipedia Baiae was an ancient Roman town situated on the northwest shore of the Gulf of Naples, and now in the vicinity of Bacoli.

It was a fashionable resort for centuries in antiquity, particularly towards the end of the Roman Republic, when it was reckoned as superior to Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Capri by the super-rich who built luxurious villas here from 100 BC to 500 AD.

As you can tell by the writings of Seneca, It was notorious for its hedonistic offerings and there were numerous rumors of corruption and scandal.

Baiae had the reputation for being the setting for the self-indulgent lifestyle of its residents and guests. In 56 bc, the prominent socialite Clodia was condemned by the defence at the trial of Marcus Caelius Rufus as living as a harlot in Rome and at the “crowded resort of Baiae”, indulging in beach parties and long drinking sessions.

Baiae was sacked during the barbarian invasions and again by Muslim raiders in the 8th century. Maybe they heard it as the party place to be. It was deserted due to continued issues with malaria.

Today there is a common phrase for the city of Las Vegas that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. I ancient Rome it must have been whatever happens in Baiae stays in Baiae.

Seneca further writes that pleasure and overindulgence is Fortune working against us. Through these we become complacent and even dependent on activities of pleasure and vice. If you take for example people facing chemical dependency issues they become dependent on alcohol or drugs.

This has an impact on other aspects of li9fe when it takes over.

Fortune is fighting against me, and I shall not carry out her commands. I refuse to submit to the yoke; nay rather, I shake off the yoke that is upon me, – an act which demands even greater courage. The soul is not to be pampered; surrendering to pleasure means also surrendering to pain, surrendering to toil, surrendering to poverty.

Resilience and persistence strengthen the individual to deal with hardship and challenges thrown at them. Those who are used to luxury and comfort may not have the inner strength to deal with hardship. Instead they develop the proverbial comfort zone that they are contained in.

Animals whose hoofs are hardened on rough ground can travel any road; but when they are fattened on soft marshy meadows their hoofs are soon worn out. The bravest soldier comes from rock-ribbed regions; but the town-bred and the home-bred are sluggish in action. The hand which turns from the plough to the sword never objects to toil; but your sleek and well-dressed dandy quails at the first cloud of dust. Being trained in a rugged country strengthens the character and fits it for great undertakings.

Seneca uses the example of Cato in his writings.

Do you suppose that Cato would ever have dwelt in a pleasure-palace, that he might count the lewd women as they sailed past, the many kinds of barges painted in all sorts of colours, the roses which were wafted about the lake, or that he might listen to the nocturnal brawls of serenaders? Would he not have preferred to remain in the shelter of a trench thrown up by his own hands to serve for a single night?

Inner strength and resilience can make a difference instead of relying on pleasure luxury and instant gratification. Sometimes it takes effort hard work and persistence to be free and have clarity of mind.

The post LS ep 070 : On Baiae and Morals appeared first on Live Stoic.

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