Article

Seneca's Tragedies

Susanna Braund

in Classics

ISBN: 9780195389661
Published online May 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0062
Seneca's Tragedies

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Lucius Annaeus Seneca (b. c. 4 bce–d. 65 ce), also known as Seneca the Younger to distinguish him from his father, the rhetorician, was born into an elite Spanish family and educated at Rome. He was renowned for his oratory and writings and as a senator gained enormous power, influence, and wealth. In 39 ce he narrowly escaped being executed by the emperor Gaius, and in 41 he was exiled by Claudius. Claudius’s wife, Agrippina, had him recalled in 49 to be tutor to her son, the future emperor Nero. Seneca was one of Nero’s closest political advisers when the young man came to power in 54. After a few years Seneca’s influence waned, and in 62 he in effect retired from public life to devote himself to philosophy. He was implicated in the unsuccessful conspiracy against Nero in 65 and took his own life. His prose works were voluminous. Those that survive include a number of essays on important aspects of Stoic philosophy and Roman life as well as twenty books of letters from the last years of his life, which also deal with life and death from a Stoic perspective. Of his poetic output there survive eight tragedies as well as a play of doubtful authenticity, Hercules Oetaeus. A further play, Octavia, on a Roman historical theme and including Seneca as one of its characters, is transmitted in one of the two branches of transmission of Senecan tragedies but is rarely regarded as genuine (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies Online article for Latin Drama).

Article.  11263 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Art and Architecture ; Classical History ; Classical Literature ; Classical Philosophy

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