Seneca, De otio

10.00 6.00

Duration: 31’ 55” (8 files)




De otio (On Leisure) is one of the 12 books composing the collection of Dialogues by the philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca (1st century a.D.).

Although the books are called dialogi, they are mostly not in the form of a dialogue between two persons. Rather, they are the exposition, in a conversational form, of the author’s philosophical theory. Each book covers a specific philosophical theme; for each of the themes, Seneca gives his own views, that are often derived and adapted from the teachings of the Greek philosophical schools of Epicurus, the Cynics and the Stoics.

In the De otio, dedicated to Serenus, Seneca demonstrates that it is not only legitimate, but even good to retire from the political life. What are the benefits that come with the choice of a retired life, and that we cannot experience while we are caught up in the everyday life? And what is the difference between the idea of otium as prescribed by Epicurus and by the Stoics?

The text of the Dialogues can be read on the Perseus Digital Library. In my reading, I followed the edition by John W. Basore, Heineman, London New York 1928, with some minor changes.

The short musical tracks at the beginning and at the end of each book are taken from the song Venus’ Birds, composed by John Bennet (1575-1614) and performed by Andreas Scholl.


Seneca, Dialogorum libri XII:

  • De providentia
  • De constantia sapientis
  • De ira (in 3 books)
  • Consolatio ad Marciam
  • De vita beata
  • De otio
  • De tranquillitate animi
  • De brevitate vitae
  • Consolatio ad Polybium
  • Consolatio ad Helviam matrem