We ought to select abodes which are wholesome not only for the body but also for the character. Just as I do not care to live in a place of torture, neither do I care to live in a cafe.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca (Epistle LI)
Eegads!! What am I to think? This great Stoic hero of mine now looks down on the cafe as a place unfit for the philosopher to relax or reflect! I am at a loss and I can't even imagine how this excerpt must horrify and disturb my many theologically and philosophically minded friends.
Perhaps the vast gulf of time between Seneca and myself is enough to account for this horrifying revelation. Let's read a little more...
To witness persons wandering drunk along the beach, the riotous revelling of sailing parties, the lakes a-din with choral song, and all the other ways in which luxury, when it is, so to speak, released from the restraints of law not merely sins, but blazons its sins abroad, - why must I witness all this?
Oh thank God Almighty! The cafes in Seneca's days must have been quite different from our relatively harmless Starbucks, Strangebrews, and Kaldis.
Then again... $5 for a cup of coffee does seem a bit exorbitant. Maybe cafes are places where luxury is released from restraint and blazons its sins abroad. None of the SUV-driving hippies around me seems to blush as they hand over their money. I must reflect further on this.