The Olympics: Seneca on Coaches, Athletes, & Slavery

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The Olympics: Seneca on Coaches, Athletes, & Slavery

From Lucius Annaeus Seneca:

There are the exercise, in the first place, the toil involved in which drains the vitality and renders it unfit for concentration or the more demanding sort of studies. Next there is the heavy feeding, which dulls mental acuteness. Then there is the taking on as coaches of the worst brand of slave, persons who divide their time between putting on lotion and putting down liquor, whose idea of a well spent day consists of getting up a good sweat and then replacing the fluid lost with plenty of drink, all the better to be absorbed on a dry stomach. Drinking and perspiring—it’s the life of a dyspeptic! There are short and simple exercises which will tire the body without undue delay and save what needs especially close accounting for, time.

—Letter XV, pp. 60–61 in Letters from a Stoic (Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium). Translated by Robin Campbell. 1969. Penguin Classics.



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