People - Lucio Anneo Seneca

PHILOSOPHER, WRITER, POLITICIAN (4 - 65AD)

Latin philosopher, playwright, politician and prominent writer, Lucio Anneo Seneca was born in Cordoba. He was the son of the Roman rhetorician Marco (Lucio) Anneo, better known as Seneca "El Viejo".

Lucio studied philosophy in Rome where he was deeply influenced by the teachings of the Stoics, whose doctrine he would later develop. In the year 49 AD he was elected as a magistrate and appointed as a tutor of Nero, the adopted child of the Emperor Claudio. When Claudio died, in 54 AD, Nero was elected Emperor.

Seneca was known for his honesty and moderation, which considerably influenced the first five years of the Emperor Nero's rule. However in the year 62 AD Seneca seemed to lose all his control over the Emperor. Apparently, the considerable fortune that the philosopher had accumulated aroused Nero's jealousy and the Emperor then tried to poison him - fortunately, unsuccessfully.

Retired from public life, Seneca dedicated all his time to writing and studying philosophy. In the year 65 AD he was involved in a failed conspiracy to murder Nero, led by the Plebeian Cayo Calpurnio Pison, who subsequently committed suicide.

Sadly many of Seneca's brilliant scientific works and discourses have been lost. Among the works that have been preserved are the "Cuestiones Naturales" (54AD), comprising a collection of seven books which analyse nature's phenomena from a Stoic point of view"; and "La Epistola a Lucilio" (63-64AD), 124 letters and several Stoic treaties on subjects such as anger and mental serenity.

Seneca's dialogues and moral treaties are more humane and persuasive than dogmatic and reflect his considerable humility. He also wrote nine tragedies in verse, all of which are free adaptations of ancient Greek legends, the first four being based on the work of Euripides. Seneca is among the most noteworthy Stoic philosophers of Rome and his tragedies in verse had a considerable influence on the subsequent evolution of classical theatre in Italy.

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