Seneca, Letters From a Stoic
The power and wealth which Seneca the Younger (c.4 B.C. – A.D. 65) acquired as Nero’s minister were in conflict with his Stoic beliefs. Nevertheless he was the outstanding figure of his age. The Stoic philosophy which Seneca professed in his writings, later supported by Marcus Aurelius, provided Rome with a passable bridge to Christianity. Seneca’s major contribution to Stoicism was to spiritualize and humanize a system which could appear cold and unrealistic.
Selected from the Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium, these letters illustrate the upright ideals admired by the Stoics and extol the good way of life as seen from their standpoint. They also reveal how far in advance of his time were many of Seneca’s ideas – his disgust at the shows in the arena or his criticism of the harsh treatment of slaves. Philosophical in tone and written in the ‘pointed’ style of the Latin Silver Age these ‘essays in disguise’ were clearly aimed by Seneca at posterity.