Seasick Seneca

Not sure why this is in the Guardian‘s weather pages, actually … perhaps it’s a sidebar to something:

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, mentor to the boy emperor Nero, had let himself be persuaded to travel by sea. "The sea was quite calm when we set off. The sky was certainly heavily overcast, with the kind of dark clouds that generally break into a squall or downpour," he writes in Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics 1969).

"I thought it would be perfectly feasible to make it across the few miles from your Parthenope to Puteoli. And so, with the object of getting the crossing over quicker, I headed straight for Nesis over the open water to cut out all the intervening curves of coastline. Now when I had got so far across that it made no odds whether I went on or turned back, first of all the smoothness which had tempted me to my undoing disappeared. There was no storm as yet, but a heavy swell was running by then and the waves were steadily getting rougher. I began asking the helmsman to put me ashore somewhere. He kept saying the coast was a rugged one without a haven anywhere and that there was nothing he feared quite so much in a storm as a lee shore. I was in far too bad a way, though, for any thought of possible danger to enter my head, as I was suffering the torments of that sluggish brand of seasickness that will not bring one relief, the kind that upsets the stomach without clearing it." The great Stoic settled his queasiness by diving overboard and swimming across the squally waters to the shore.

The letter is Epistulae Morales 6.53, for those of you scoring at home. It actually goes beyond what is quoted above and includes some snippets from the Aeneid

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