Seneca -4 - 65 (69)

As long as you live, keep learning how to live.


Letters to Lucilius

On the Terrors

of Death

On Old Age

Lucius Seneca (ca. 4 BC - 65 AD) was a Roman statesman, orator, dramatist and Stoic philosopher, born in the Roman province of Cordoba in Spain. He was the second son of a wealthy rhetorician known as Seneca the Elder. He traveled when young to Rome, where he was taught rhetoric and Stoic philosophy and then in Roman Egypt. Eventually he settled in Rome and began to practice law and unreel in government offices. In 38 AD, Caligula became Emperor of Rome and had a great fight with Seneca. He let Seneca live only because he considered him dying as he was gravely ill. In 41 AD Claudius succeeded Caligula and Seneca were banished for eight years in Corsica, as the third wife of Claudius, the notorious of nymphomania Messalina, accused him of adultery. Returning from Corsica, Seneca resumed working in the public service and also became the teacher of the future emperor Nero. When Nero ascended to the throne, Seneca actively influenced the governance for about five years with positive results. However, Nero eventually imposed a tyrannical regime of terrorism and stopped all communication with him. At that time rumors began to spread all over Rome for the hypocrisy and venality of Seneca, that his life was completely contrary to his teachings: he cursed the tyranny but was the teacher of a tyrant, he railed against flatterers but he never stayed away from the palace, he praised austerity but he was very rich.

In 62 AD he decided to retire from public life and went to his cottage away from Rome to live quietly, philosophizing and writing. In 65 however, after a failed attempt against Nero, he was accused of involvement in the conspiracy, he was arrested and ordered by Nero to commit suicide. Seneca couldn;t avoid it so he did as he was ordered among friends at home. Because of his age and maybe of his nutrition, the blood flow was very slow and instead of a quick death he experienced a prolonged and painful agony. Eventually, after he dictated his last words to a scribe, he entered the bath where the blood flow was accelerated offering him the eternal peace. Seneca except his rhetorical work, to which he owed his early fame, he had developed a prolific writing activity on issues such as kindness, charity, fortitude, happy life. Overlying the stoicism with a veil of humanism , which is summarized in the phrase: "man is sacred for man". He served the stoic ideal of the wise man that care for the others from a position of responsibility, considering that the rich and the rulers are obliged to help the weak and poor.