A Decision to Leave

CW: Suicide, self-harm

Tacitus, Histories 4.11

“Julus Priscus, prefect of the praetorians under Vitellius, committed suicide because of shame more than necessity.”

Iulius Priscus praetoriarum sub Vitellio cohortium praefectus se ipse interfecit, pudore magis quam necessitate.

Dio Roman History 19. = Zonaras 9.21

“He learned this beforehand and killed himself because he was not able to escape.”

προμαθὼν τοῦτ᾿ ἐκεῖνος καὶ διαδρᾶναι μὴ οἷός τε ὢν ἑαυτὸν διεχρήσατο.

Aristotle, Eudemian Ethics 1230e

“Those kinds of people who escape trouble by killing themselves as many do are not brave.”

οὔτ᾿ εἰ φεύγοντες τὸ πονεῖν, ὅπερ πολλοὶ ποιοῦσιν, οὐδὲ τῶν τοιούτων οὐθεὶς ἀνδρεῖος

Seneca, De Vita Beata 19

“They deny that Diodorus, the Epicurean philosopher who in the last few days ended his life with his own hand was acting according to the law of Epicurus when he cut his own throat. Some want his deed to be seen as insanity; others consider it impulsive.

But at the time he was happy and filled with good cheer and made his own testimony as he left life. He praised the hears he spent in port and at anchor and pronounced those words which you would have heard unwillingly as if you must do the same thing: “I have lived and I have completed the journey life gave to me.”

Diodorum, Epicureum philosophum, qui intra paucos dies finem vitae suae manu sua imposuit, negant ex decreto Epicuri fecisse, quod sibi gulam praesecuit. Alii dementiam videri volunt factum hoc eius, alii temeritatem; ille interim beatus ac plenus bona conscientia reddidit sibi testimonium vita excedens laudavitque aetatis in portu et ad ancoram actae quietem et dixit, quod vos inviti audistis, quasi vobis quoque faciendum sit:

Vixi et quem dederat cursum fortuna peregi.

Plutarch’s Moralia 1042D Stoic Self Contradictions

“But they say that Chrysippus claims that the decision for leaving should be based not on how many good things or bad things there are in life but whether the things in between the extremes are natural—this is why it happens sometimes that happy people commit suicide and the unlucky decide to remain alive.”

ἀλλ᾿ οὐδὲ ὅλως, φασίν, οἴεται δεῖν Χρύσιππος οὔτε μονὴν ἐν τῷ βίῳ τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς οὔτ᾿ ἐξαγωγὴν τοῖς κακοῖς παραμετρεῖν ἀλλὰ τοῖς μέσοις κατὰ φύσιν· διὸ καὶ τοῖς εὐδαιμονοῦσι γίγνεταί ποτε καθῆκον ἐξάγειν ἑαυτοὺς καὶ μένειν αὖθις ἐν τῷ ζῆν τοῖς κακοδαιμονοῦσιν.

We have posted about suicide before and do not do it lightly.

If you or someone you know feel alone, uncertain, depressed or for any reason cannot find enough joy and hope to think life is worth it, please reach out to someone. The suicide prevention hotline has a website, a phone number (1-800-273-8255), and a chat line. And if we can help you find some tether to the continuity of human experience through the Classics or a word, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Sisyphus depicted on a black-figure amphora vase
Persephone and Sisyphus

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