Brother AACOOLDRE : The Stoic Seneca's Lukewarm Plays

Discussion in 'AACOOLDRE' started by AACOOLDRE, Nov 10, 2016.


    AACOOLDRE Well-Known Member MEMBER

    United States
    Jul 26, 2001
    Likes Received:

    By Andre Austin

    Seneca (4bc-65AD) studied intensively the Stoic and Pythagorean philosophies and resided in Egypt studying meteorology (Temperature of the earth’s atmosphere).According to Cicero: “You Stoics then say that fire is the universal principle of all things; that all living bodies cease to live on extinction of that heat…that bodies should perish for want of heat, rather than for want of moisture or air, especially as they even die through excess of heat” (Of the Nature of the Gods Book 14). Lukewarm would be the temperature of avoiding excess of heat.” . Bruno Bauer had already detected the Stoics influence on Christianity in his book Christ and he Caesar’s way back in the 1870’s.

    The stoics believed in controlling the Hot and cold passions of man. In Seneca’s play Phaedra (or Hippolytus) he makes several metaphors of hot & cold which alerted me to Rev 3:14-22 to the similar terminology of calling people Lukewarm who were neither Hot or Cold. Excerpts of Seneca states in his play:

    “By the accursed lust for gain, Blind hate

    And all the reckless passions which ignite” (p.119)

    [ It is my thesis that Lukewarm is a pun for Look (Luke) being in correct vision avoiding heat or cold. The quote above helps support my theory].

    “As if to avoid our eyes, an accident

    Cannot stain innocence, without intention” ( p.127)

    “Light of the world, making night beautiful

    With thy recurrent beams…ay, with us now

    To bless our work! Bend the hard heart

    Of that stern youth. Let him relent and hear us

    Soften his iron soul; teach him to love;

    Let him too feel that flame; capture his heart;

    Let love’s law win again that silent, cold”

    Reluctant man. For this let all thy powers

    Work with us-as we pray thy face may shine”

    [having first a pure heart protects you from having a Hot-heart or Cold-heart, a perquisite to having protective eyes from the heat and cold].

    The Penguin classics edition of Seneca play was translated by E.F. Watling. He provided an Appendix of Elizabethan translations and imitations. He provided excerpt of Phaedra (Hippoytus) by John Studley (c.1567 p.713-18:

    Avaunt, avaunt, preserve thy lyfe, at my hand nothing crave,

    This filed swaord that thou hast toucht no longer will I have.

    What bathing Lukewarme Tanais may I defiled obtaine,

    Whose clensing watry channel pure may wash me cleane againe?...

    With all his Ocean foulding floud can purge and wash away

    This dunghill foule of stane: O woode, O salvage beast I say”.

    The word lukewarm doesn’t appear in the translation of E.F. Watling:

    Rather than that, go, live, obtain no boon

    From me…Let this contaminated sword

    Never again come near my spotless side!...

    Will Tanais wash me clean, will the wild waves

    Of fat maeotis, feedng the Pontic sea?

    No; nor great Neptune in his whole wide ocean”.

    The Christians were incorrect in teaching that lukewarm was referring to not being able to take a hot bath in Laodicea or to drink cold water which are not deeds. It would be more correct to introduce another Stoic for the proper interpretation. What did the Stoic historian Pliny the Elder mean when he said “Nature has provided the eye with many thin membranes and hard outside coverings as a protection against cold and heat she cleans the eyes with moisture....” (Natural History Book 11:147). If you consider Luke a pun for Look then you can solve the puzzle for the correct meaning of Lukewarm which was the opposite of the people who were needing salve for their eyes in the third chapter of revelations. I’m curious why a Christian wanted to associate a Stoic with the term Lukewarm in the wrong context? Plutarch applies the crocodile eyes with Justice because “It has a thin and transparent membrane extending down from his forehead to cover up his eyes, so that he can see without being seen; and this prerogative belongs also unto the first god” Isis & Osiris p.175). This may be the reason why Egyptians anointed their kings with the fat of the crocodile. The croc was known as messeh and from the Hebrew term “messiah” the anointed one or Christ.

    In Seneca view an excess of heat on a heart was torment:

    “Chorus: Nurse, have yoy news? How is it with the queen?

    Does she yet find relief from her great torment?

    Nurse: There is no hope; there can be no relief

    From suffering such as hers; the rabid fire

    Will never end. The fever silently

    Burns in her heart; only her face betrays

    The inner anquish which she tries to hide

    Her eyes are bright as flame, while her wan face

    She hides from daylight…”

    Compare with . Having a Cold or Hot heart was viewed very negatively in ancient Egypt in throughout the Bible (see 2 Cor 11:28-29 & Matthew 24:12).

    Seneca had the same view of the Egyptians that to eat the heart was to loose your temper:

    “No rage of avarice eats out the heart”. Compare with the Egyptian:

    “I have not eaten my heart (i.e. lost my temper and become Hot-angry” (Egyptian Ideas of the afterlife By E.A. Wallis Budge p.131)

    Seneca never used the term lukewarm to taking a bath he used heat to compare to the conditions of the eyes and heart just like the Egyptians did.


    “Madness is in my heart;

    It is consumed by love, a wild fire raging

    Secretly in my body, in the my blood,

    Like flames that lick across a roof of timber” (p.123) Seneca reminds me of St. Augustine (The City of God), notes on baptism of fire. He viewed consumption of fire that can be negative or positive.

    “Hippolytus: Can you Marry fire to water

    Nurse: It has been known for love to put a bridle on fractious tempers, and to cast out hate” (p.120). When speaking of Ptah who helps God create through his heart & tongue Miriam Lichtheim states when speaking of Ptah “Thus justice is done to him who does what is loved, and punishment to him who does what is hated” (Ancient Egyptian Lit Volume 1 p.54-55). The crocodile brings punishment when he eat all the hot & cold hearts who unbalanced in excess or deficiency on the scales to the feather of Tefnut-maat.

    If we jump to his play in Octavia we can get at the real temperature of Love:

    It is the error of mankind that makes

    The airy sprite of love a ruthless god,

    The son of Venus, by the seed of Vulcan, (Ptah discover of Fire)

    As they suppose, a god with bow and arrows

    Grasped in immortal hands. Love is not that;

    It is a powerful motive in the mind [heart]

    A pleasant warmth of soul” (p.279) Stoics and Egyptians called the breath of the soul warm.

    If we apply the spit of Lukewarm to the equilibrium or emotional balance between the opposing elements of Hot & Cold then we have a form of justice.

    Justice by reason of its equality (Balance/Equilibrium) intervenes between the two: Deficiency and Excess" (Isis & Osiris by Plutarch 75.381-382 p.179) Just like Lukewarm intervenes between hot and cold Rev 3:16. Recall what Cicero said about the Stoics about not being in the excess of heat.

    Andre Austin is the author of Lukewarm: the Temperature of Justice
Similar Threads - Stoic Seneca's Lukewarm