Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.
― Seneca the Younger
It’s easy to think of travel as a modern convenience. Indeed, it’s only been a widespread privilege for the last 100 years. Traveling, however, was a privilege the ancient Romans took seriously.
The Romans also took philosophy seriously; so much so that it seems to have been a common job description. “Philosopher” was one of many skills attributed to Seneca the Younger, who was also a statesman, dramatist, and satirist.
Among other things, Seneca gave us great motivation and reason to pack our belongings and hit the road: It’s good for the ol’ noggin! “Travel and change of place,” he said, “impart new vigor to the mind.” Even today, this is true! Studies show that workers who take time off are more productive and, importantly, happier.
Seneca realized that, not only do you return to your tasks refreshed and rejuvenated, you often return with “new eyes.” A fresh perspective or new experience can improve your performance. Sometimes, being away from work allows you to contemplate, without actually working on a problem. It lets epiphanies happen.
So take that time off! You’ll feel better while you’re away, and will return with new vigor.
Seneca the Who?
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was born in Cordoba, Spain, around 4 BC. He was raised in Rome, and trained in rhetoric and Stoic philosophy. He was Nero’s tutor, and at one time an advisor. However, he was also accused of complicity in the conspiracy to assassinate Nero, and the Emperor compelled him to take his own life.
As a playwright during the Silver Age of Roman Literature, Seneca was a tragedist, and is best known for the plays Medea and Thyestes. Even if you don’t know Seneca or his works, you may recognize some other quotes attributed to him:
- Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
- Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.
- The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately!
He is referred to as Seneca the Younger to avoid confusion with his father, also Lucius Annaeus Seneca, or Seneca the Elder. Dad was a Roman knight born in Cordoba, who was famous as a writer, teacher, and rhetorician. The family gained fame and wealth across the Empire as a breeders and trainers of fine horses. Apparently, the moniker “Junior” was not in favor in the Roman Empire, so the father and son duo came to be known as Elder and Younger.
About the Picture
One of our favorite changes of place is the Emerald Isle of Ireland! This photograph is of the Irish countryside near the town of Dingle, on the island’s west coast. It’s easy to recharge in the quiet air, flavored by a salty breeze and fields of green.
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