Saturday, April 2, 2022


SENECA (Roman, c. 4 BCE-65 CE)

The Roman writer Lucius Annaeus Seneca, also called "Seneca the Younger" or simply "Seneca," was wrapped up with the imperial family: he was tutor and advisor to Nero, who later ordered him to kill himself. (The Younger's father, the Elder, wrote books on rhetoric and history.) Seneca was so versatile a writer that until the 16th century it was normal to think of him as two separate people: Seneca the moral philosopher and Seneca the dramatist. His Stoic writings, such as the Naturales Quaestiones, are orthodox, but his plays are filled with intense emotions and have a grim overall tone--the antithesis of Stoicism. Tradition attributes 10 plays to Seneca; it seems likely only eight are actually from his hand.

  • His best-known plays are about Medea, who killed her own children; Thyestes, who unknowingly ate his own children; and Phaedra, who lusted after her stepson. Talk about family drama.


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