Drunkenness and philosophical enthusiasm in Seneca's De Tranquillitate Animi

Eva Anagnostou-Laoutides, Bart van Wassenhove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The paper revisits Seneca's endorsement of wine-drinking as a remedy for mental anxiety in De Tranquillitate Animi (17.4-12). Although the locus has been often interpreted as Seneca's endorsement of Platonic enthusiasm, we argue that Seneca does not deviate from the Stoic rejection of drunkenness (e.g. Ep. 83.9). Furthermore, a close reading of Platonic texts suggests that Plato opposed physical drunkenness as much as the Stoics. According to Plato, the philosopher may appear but can never be drunk, a notion especially explored in the Symposium (e.g. 220a). In his footsteps, Seneca, appreciates the correct use of wine as a means of inducing or maintaining a higher state of consciousness, a state of hyper-reality that is crucial for achieving philosophical breakthroughs. Seneca's De Otio offers additional evidence towards this understanding of the role of wine in achieving philosophical enthusiasm.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-33
Number of pages19
JournalScripta Classica Israelica
Volume39
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Seneca
  • inebriation
  • mania

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