Friend of Seneca the Younger and the recipient of the De providentia, Quaestiones naturales, and Epistulae morales; was born in Campania, perhaps at Pompeii or Naples (Sen. Ep. 49. 1, 53. 1, 70. 1), without wealth or prospects (QNat. 4. pref. 14–15; Ep. 19. 5). He was some years younger than Seneca (Ep. 26. 7). Talent, literary style, and distinguished connections brought him into prominence (Ep. 19.3). His own energy made him an eques Romanus (Roman knight, Ep. 44. 2). He was loyal to the memory and to friends or relatives of Gnaeus Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus after the latter's execution under Gaius (1), and to victims of Messalina or Narcissus under Claudius (QNat. 4. pref. 15). Under Claudius and Nero he held procuratorships in Alpes Graiae, Epirus, or Macedonia, Africa, and Sicily (Ep. 31. 9, 45. 2, 79. 1; QNat. 4. pref. 1). The date of his death is unknown.
Seneca uses Lucilius as a sounding-board for the philosophical progression of the Epistles. Many of them start from some question Lucilius has supposedly put—generally philosophical, but sometimes literary, linguistic, or social (Ep. 9, 29, 39, 43, 71, 72, 106, 108, 109, 111, 113, 114, 117). In spite of business (Ep. 17, 19, 22, 24), travel (Ep. 69, 84, 104), ill health (Ep. 78, 96), and a tendency to grumble (Ep. 21, 28, 44, 45, 60, 96, 103), he is depicted as a philosopher, perhaps an ex-Epicurean Stoic (see EPICURUS). On one occasion Seneca says to him ‘meum opus es’, ‘you are my work’ (Ep. 34. 2) which may also be read as testimony to Seneca's (re-)construction of his friend into the ideal philosophical neophtye and didactic addressee (cf. Griffin (see bibliog. below), 347–53). Seneca also warmly praises Lucilius' own philosophical work (Ep. 46).
Lucilius was also a poet (QNat. 4. pref. 14 and ch. 2. 2). Four Latin lines (two iambics and two hexameters) are preserved by Seneca (Ep. 8. 10, 24. 21; QNat. 3. 1.1). It is unlikely that he is the same as the Lucillius of the Greek Anthology; but one Greek epigram of twelve lines (IG 14. 889 = Epigr. Gr. 810) inscribed on stone in Sinuessa with the genitive heading Iounioros may well be his. From the passage Sen. Ep. 79. 5–7 Wernsdorf and others have attributed the pseudo-Virgilian Aetna to Lucilius; but the wording suggests a poem including a description of Aetna rather than one devoted to Aetna per se.
Arnold Mackay Duff; Peta G. Fowler, Don P. Fowler
Subjects: Classical Studies.