Seneca on Blushing

Seneca Epistles 1-65I used to have a blushing problem.  The solution:  makeup.

Except I’m allergic to makeup.

I am slightly less allergic to makeup than sunscreen, so I slap on foundation before I go out on my bike.

And I no longer blush, except from food allergies.  No Kung Pao Tofu for me.

Seneca, the Stoic philosopher, doesn’t concern himself with makeup and sunscreen.  In Letter XI to his friend Lucilius, he does, however, talk about blushing.

Seneca meets a bright, talented, eloquent young friend of Lucilius’ whose face is suffused with redness as he speaks.

In other words, he blushes.

Seneca does not think this is a bad thing.

This blushing, I suspect,will follow him, even after he has strengthened himself and stripped himself of weakness–even when he is a wise man.  For the natural weaknesses of the body or the spirit are not subdued by wisdom:  whatever is implanted and inborn is attenuated by art, not conquered.”

Even some of the strongest, most powerful Romans have blushed, says Seneca.  He claims Sulla was at his most violent when “the blood had invaded his face,” that Pompey always turned red when he addressed the assembly, and Fabianus modestly blushed when he appeared as a witness before the Senate.

Seneca thinks you should accept blushing.  It is natural.

Too bad it’s such a pain.  Thank God for hypoallergenic makeup.

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