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Roman Philosopher - Seneca

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Photo by Calidius

Photo by Calidius

4 BC to 65 AD

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Latin Stoic philosopher, son of Marcus Annaeus Seneca, born at Cordoba, Spain in 65 AD. He was brought to Rome when still a child, and early on devoted himself to the study of rhetoric.

Seneca achieved great wealth and power and exerted, as far as he was able, a humane influence on the administration of the empire.

Seneca was one of the first Roman exponents of Greek Stoicism, a philosophy advocating peaceful acceptance of both the pleasure and the pain imposed on man by fate.

He wrote many works on ethics, including Letters to Lucilius and On Tranquillity. He also wrote nine highly ornate tragic plays depicting the extreme limits of human passion, which influenced Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare.

Later he acquired a reputation at the Bar, aroused the jealousy of Caligula, and in the first year of Claudius (AD 41) was banished to Corsica on account of intimacy with the emperor's niece Julia. He was recalled in 49 through the influence of Agrippina, who had married Claudius, and was appointed tutor to her son, the future emperor Nero. On the accession of Nero (54) Seneca's authority increased, and he shared the administration of affairs with Burrus, the praetorian prefect. But his restraining hand soon made him irksome to Nero, whose greed was excited by the wealth of his minister.

As advisor to the young emperor, Seneca became implicated in Nero's murder of Agrippina. Feeling his own influence waning, Seneca retired to private life. In 65 AD he was accused of conspiracy against the throne, and on Nero's orders he committed suicide with his wife Pompeia Paulina.

Comments

TrahnTheMan from Asia, Oceania & between on January 19, 2012:

Thanks for this concise bite-sized piece. More would be great!

nikky on September 27, 2011:

wounderfull history.....

Coach Tim from Los Angeles, CA on June 09, 2009:

"on Nero's orders he committed suicide with his wife Pompeia Paulina"...sure makes an intriguing death, wondered if they ever thought there was foul play about his "untimely" demise...

Nancy's Niche on June 06, 2009:

Roman history is very interesting and this is an excellent article...

Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on June 06, 2009:

Sad ending to a brilliant life. Enjoyed the history lesson. Thanks

Kidgas from Indianapolis on June 06, 2009:

Nice review.

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