Seneca (Roman Philosopher)

SENECA, Lucius Annaeus, noted philosopher, born in Cordova, Spain, in the year 3 B. C. ; died in 66 A. D. He was the son of Marcus Annaeus Seneca (61 B. c.-37 A. D. ), a celebrated rhetorician, who taught rhetoric with success in Rome in the time of Augustus. Seneca the Philosopher, as the younger was called, was taken to Rome at an early age, where he studied eloquence, philosophy, and law, but left the bar because Emperor Caligula threatened his life. He entered public life soon after, and in filling the office of quaestor rose to high favor with Emperor Claudius, but he was banished in 41 A. D. on a charge of intimacy with Julia, a niece of the emperor. In 49 he was called to the Roman capital, where he became praetor and afterward tutor to Nero, who, on ascending the throne, made him a consul in 57. It may be said that the influence of Seneca was highly potent in the bright years of Emperor Nero's reign, but when the emperor became tainted with crime and corruption he came to dislike his former tutor.

Seneca vainly petitioned the emperor to allow him to retire from office, offering at the same time to bestow upon him his large fortune, but the emperor had planned to cause his death. An attempt to poison him failed, but he soon after caused him to be charged with being implicated in the conspiracy of Pisa, and was condemned to put himself to death. Seneca chose to die by bleeding and accordingly cut several veins of his arms and legs. He is the author of many excellent works, among them treatises on "Anger," "Steadfastness of the Wise Man," "Providence," "Tranquility of Mind," and "Clemency." The last mentioned was addressed to Nero. Other writings include "Consolatio ad Helviam," a letter of consolation addressed to his mother ; "Consolatio ad Polybium," a letter consoling Polybius on the loss of his brother ; seven books on "Investigations of Nature ;" seven books on "Benefits" and eighteen books of moral letters. Many tragedies are attributed to him, all of which are remarkable for beauty of style, but they are inferior as productions for the stage.

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