Following on from their examination of Ovid last year, members of the Year 10 Athenaeum returned to a classical theme in a session on Stoicism led by Ms Miriam Cogni. I say returned to a classical theme, but the list of prominent stoics referred to by Miss Cogni contained Arnold Schwarzenegger along with Marcus Aurelius and Seneca.

That was one of the central features of the talk, that stoicism was not some moribund philosophy consigned to the past, but a view of life and in fact dealing with life that has seen a revival of interest in recent times. The students were invited to think about why this might be the case and offered many sensible ideas including the growing uncertainties in the world and the rise of secularism.

Miss Cogni skilfully explained the nature and origin of stoical thinking focussing in particular on the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and his work Meditations. What was particularly interesting were his views on what constituted a valuable life and the fact that it was open to all as Epictetus a stoic philosopher born into slavery would testify.

As in so many ways the Ancients have much to teach us and this lesson clearly showed us why that is the case and why stoicism is much more than just “putting up with it.”