“Stoicism is the refuge for the individual in an indifferent or hostile world too big for him…”
In 1927 T. S. Eliot sought in an essay to explain the connection between Shakespeare and the Roman playwright and man of letters Seneca. Or rather, by pre-empting the idea that Shakespeare could be explained by Seneca, Eliot mocks the growing number of voices in literary history seeking to explain Shakespeare’s thought in terms of one thinker or another. (Recent attempts had been made to explain him in terms of Montaigne and Machiavelli).
In the midst of the essay Eliot passingly defines stoicism:
“Stoicism is the refuge for the individual in an indifferent or hostile world too big for him; it is the permanent substratum of a number of versions of cheering oneself up. Nietzsche is the most conspicuous modern instance of cheering oneself up. The stoical attitude is the reverse of Christian humility.”
“I think it quite unlikely that Shakespeare knew anything of that extraordinarily dull and uninteresting body of Seneca’s prose, which was translated by Loge and printed in 1612.”