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Seneca ( double boiler in the Berlin Collection of Antiquities)

Lucius Annaeus Seneca , called Seneca the Younger (* around the year 1 in Corduba ; † 65 AD near Rome ), was a Roman philosopher , playwright , naturalist , politician and as a Stoic one of the most widely read writers of his time. His speeches that made him famous have been lost.

Although he recommended resignation and restraint in his philosophical writings, Seneca was one of the richest and most powerful men of his time. From the year 49 on he was the main educator and adviser to the future emperor Nero . Probably in order to prepare him for his future tasks, he wrote a memorandum on why it was wise to be lenient as a ruler (De clementia) . In the year 55 Seneca held a suffect consulate . His acting as a politician was partly in contradiction to the ethical principles represented by him in his philosophical writings, which was already criticized by his contemporaries.

Seneca's effort to influence Nero in his favor was not a lasting success. Most recently, the emperor accused him of participating in the Pisonian conspiracy and ordered him to commit suicide. Seneca was forced to comply with this order.

life and work

Explicit references to Seneca's own biography are extremely rare in his works, although he was convinced of the importance of his written legacy for posterity.

"What Epicurus could promise his friend, I promise you, Lucilius : I will have credit from posterity, I can take names with me so that they will survive with me."

Seneca's autobiographical silence results in considerable problems, especially with regard to the dating of his works, so that there are hardly any indications of the sequence of his tragedy poetry. Nevertheless, the more recent relevant Seneca biographies suggest a more or less close connection between his writings and his respective life situation. His philosophizing did not consist in the creation of a new conceptual system, but essentially in the application of the Stoic doctrine “according to the particular situation and necessity of life”. In his works, including the late writings, he emphasized his roots in Stoic philosophy. He rejected dogmatic stipulations.

Seneca's varied curriculum vitae has repeatedly demanded that he be prepared for a turn of fate; and he could approve of them in a stoic manner:

“People of value work hard, make sacrifices, and become victims, and do so of their own accord; they are not guided by fate, but follow it and keep pace; if they had known, they would have preceded it. "

The variety of experiences in political life and the different roles that he took on are processed in Seneca's philosophical writings. From them result - and Seneca was well aware of this - different options for morally responsible action depending on the particular personal and political situation.

"Depending on the state of the state and the fortunes of fate, we will either move forward or fall by the wayside, in any case we will be active and not succumb to fear and thereby become immobile. [...] But if you get into a less favorable position of the state, you have to withdraw into private life and occupy yourself with science, like calling at a port immediately on a dangerous seafaring, not waiting for your release, but resigning yourself. "

The assumption that Seneca's life and work formed a unit, that is, that Seneca as a politician and businessman followed his own philosophical teachings, has long been questioned in research. So judged u. a. the classical philologist Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff in 1931 in view of the deep involvement of the philosopher in the Nero regime: “As long as he participated in courtly and political life, he also hung up on morality, not just stoic, or at least only with his lips known, and he poses on his death bed, as he always did in his writings. "

Tacitus testifies that Seneca was already attacked by his contemporaries for the contradiction between his teachings and his actions. The senator Publius Suillius Rufus publicly accused him of exploiting his position of power at court to criminally gain wealth:

“What wisdom, what philosophical teachings did he (meaning: Seneca) owe it to the fact that he had acquired three hundred million sesterces within four years of imperial friendship? In Rome he stole wills of childless people like in a hunt, Italy and the provinces would be sucked out by enormous usury! "

Other researchers, however, take a contrary position and defend the unity of Seneca's life and teaching. The classical scholar Hildegard Cancik-Lindemaier advocated the thesis in 1967 that Seneca wanted to work as a philosopher less through his dialogues and treatises than through the positive and negative sides of himself portrayed in them: “Self-testimony as an example belongs in the center of Senecan philosophizing ; in it the unity of life and teaching is directly attested. ”In 2016, the Latinist Niklas Holzberg declared the existence of the malignant apocolocyntosis , which is poorly compatible with Seneca's stoic ethics, by saying that it was a later forgery.

Uncertain beginnings

Seneca's year of birth has not been passed down and cannot be determined with any certainty. More recent attempts at reconstruction speak for the year 1, but the year 1. Called BC. Spanish Corduba born, he arrived as an infant in the care of his aunt to Rome; Apparently his father Seneca the Elder wanted to see his son, named after him, grow up in the heart of world power from an early age, as a knight belonging to the rank of knight , and let him adopt the fine Roman tongue. With his wife Helvia he had two other sons. Seneca's older brother Novatus became proconsul in the province of Achaia under his adoptive name Gallio in 51/52 AD . a. a complaint by the Jews against the apostle Paul ; later he took over the post of consul . Seneca dedicated three of his writings to him, including De ira (On anger) and De vita beata (On the happy life) . His younger brother Mela took over the management of the family property in Corduba.

Seneca the Elder pursued intensive rhetorical studies and wrote a work about it in which he was very critical of the artificial contemporary rhetoric. The son of the same name was early on in this field. In connection with this, he was likely to have received excellent legal instruction that prepared him for a legal activity for which it was essential to master the rhetorical instruments.

The rhetorical style exercises were far less important to him than the philosophical principles that his teachers Sotion and Attalos imparted to him. Sotion, who represented Pythagorean as well as Stoic teachings, had a strong and lasting influence on Seneca. At times he induced him to eat only meat-free food according to the Pythagorean tradition . Seneca kept the recommended hard mattress for his bed into his old age. Before going to sleep, as he had learned from Sotion, he performed a daily recap of the day as a self-examination and a conscience research:

“When the light is removed from my sight and my wife is silent, knowing my habit, I review my whole day and go over my actions and words again; I don't hide anything from myself or ignore anything. "

Seneca's health was severely restricted from childhood and throughout his life due to asthma attacks and chronic bronchitis . Difficulty breathing and attacks of fever affected him so much at a young age that he was about to take his own life. A certain stabilization only occurred when, at the age of about 30, he sought out the more wholesome climate in Alexandria , Egypt , where he stayed with his aunt, who was married to the Roman prefect of Egypt . She stood up for him when, on his return to Rome, where he had already made a name for himself as a lawyer in the courts, he successfully applied for the bursary as entry into the Roman official career .

The first of his traditional philosophical writings in letter form also fell during this period. In the consolation to Marcia , the daughter of the historian Cremutius Cordus , whose child had died, he observed the development of her grief and made suggestions to help her over the loss of her son.

“Even now, Marcia, you still have immoderate sadness that seems to have hardened; in your grief you are no longer as excited as you were at the beginning, but rather stubborn and obstinate; Time will gradually free you from this too. As often as you are occupied with something else, you will find relaxation. "

He took up classic stoic ideas with even more emphasis in his three-part work De ira . This work dates from the 1940s and is dedicated to his brother. The problem of affect control is dealt with here in a variety of ways in a practical, historical, exemplary and political way.

“Dear Novatus, you have compelled me to write about how anger can be appeased, and it seems to me that you have a legitimate reason to fear this passion in particular, since it is the most hideous and devastating of all. Because all others still connect with a certain amount of calm and serenity; the latter, on the other hand, goes up completely in excitement and violent desire, it rages and longs inhumanly for wounds from weapons and the bloodbath of executions ... It is best to ignore the first emotion of anger immediately and to defend oneself against the beginnings . [...] For when anger has begun to lead us astray, the return to mental health is difficult because reason can no longer achieve anything as soon as passion has been drawn in and it has been granted a certain right through our will. From now on she will do everything she wants, not just what she is allowed to do. "

Since, according to Seneca, anger is a controllable impulse, he considered appropriate educational influence to be necessary. It was particularly important to him to closely observe individual development, because z. B. with the means of praise on the one hand strengthened the self-confidence of the protégé, on the other hand arrogance and irascibility could be promoted. Sometimes you have to brake, sometimes you have to cheer. His human dignity pedagogical approach is evident if he continues:

“You shouldn't expect the protégé to be humiliating or slavish. He should never be induced to humbly ask for anything, and he should not benefit from it either, but should only be rewarded for his own sake, based on previous achievements and future investments. "

Consolation writings from the Corsican exile

Born into the era of Augustus , adolescent when Tiberius came to power , established lawyer and Senate member when Caligula became Princeps : Seneca's first four decades of life can be related to the history of the early Principate . The Julio-Claudian dynasty only became decisive for his further career in 41, when Seneca was exiled to Corsica by his successor Claudius after the despotic Caligula had been eliminated .

This happened at the instigation of Messalina , with whom Claudius was married in third marriage and who wanted to eliminate Julia Livilla as a potential rival. So she denounced them for alleged adultery with Seneca. It was only thanks to the intercession of Emperor Claudius in the Senate that Seneca was sentenced to exile to Corsica instead of death. Because this took place in the form of a relegation (not deportation ), property and civil rights were retained.

The exile in Corsica lasted a total of eight years. Two consolation writings in particular have been preserved from this period in which Seneca expressed stoic obedience to fate on the one hand, but also the urgent desire to end his exile on the other. By giving consolation, he showed himself at the same time as a solace seeker in long-term tormenting isolation.

In the letter of consolation to his mother Helvia, who had been hard hit by his exile, Seneca assured him that he was not unhappy in Corsica and could not be so. Why shouldn't he be able to make his peace with a change of location, when so much is constantly in motion, from the heavenly stars to the human peoples. In the final section he wrote:

“Let me tell you how to imagine me: I'm happy and lively, as if everything were for the best. Everything is for the best, since my mind is relieved of any laborious occupation, has time for my own work and sometimes enjoys easier studies, sometimes rises to a philosophical consideration of its own being and the nature of the world. "

A clearly less optimistic description of his situation, on the other hand, is contained in the consolation for Polybius , who headed the department for petitions at court (a libellis) and to whom he probably offered himself above all with the aim of getting Emperor Claudius to resolve his exile. Seneca closed this letter apologetically after lamenting his own weak and jaded state of mind:

"If you feel that these explanations do not adequately correspond to your spiritual level or do not sufficiently relieve your pain, then remember that the one who has overcome his own unhappiness cannot have the thoughts free to comfort someone else and that Latin words it is not easy to fall to an unhappy person, who is surrounded by level and even relatively educated non-Romans with barbarian babble that is difficult to stir up. "

The painstakingly disguised selfishness of this unsuccessful consolation pamphlet and the self-pity that erupted at the end have earned Seneca a lot of ridicule and criticism. Manfred Fuhrmann stated in 1997: “Posterity has taken this kowtowing, the product of a depression, quite angry with Seneca. Cassius Dio writes that what he did contradicted his philosophical teachings in the sharpest possible way… ”. Ludwig Friedländer attested to Seneca in 1900 that Polybius had been overwhelmed with unworthy flattery and pointed out that Seneca was later said to have unsuccessfully destroyed this writing out of shame.

Tutor of the heir to the throne

The end of the exile finally came for Seneca without any action of her own, when Empress Messalina, the initiator of the proceedings against Julia Livilla and Seneca, overdone her sexually and power-politically motivated game and used an absence of Claudius of Rome to marry the consul-designate Gaius Silius which soon after cost both their lives. Now Agrippina the younger , Claudius' niece, who had also been banished alongside Julia Livilla, had a good chance of giving her son Nero from his first marriage opportunities to throne by marrying Emperor Claudius. But she had chosen Seneca as educational aid for Nero.

Seneca, who is said to have initially moved to Athens, could hardly deny himself this reputation. In accordance with the dynamism of power politics in the imperial family, favor could quickly and massively turn into disfavor. In 50 Seneca held the praetur - undoubtedly with significant support from the imperial family . As soon as Agrippina became empress, she arranged for Claudius, who in Britannicus already had an heir to the throne born by Messalina, to adopt Nero. As the three years older of the two, Nero could now claim the first qualification. Although there were no binding rules on the question of succession, in the past adoption had become a habitual means of dynastic legitimation in the succession of the principate . This was the constellation in which Seneca stepped at Nero's side.

To be back in Rome after eight years of exile was undoubtedly a sharp and deeply felt contrast for Seneca. It was during this time that his work “On the Briefness of Life”, in which Seneca subjected contemporary urban lifestyles to an exemplary critique:

“One is held captive by insatiable greed, another spends his busyness in superfluous efforts, one is drunk with wine, the other stunted by laziness; [...] many are addicted to another person's beauty or concern for their own; Very many who do not pursue a specific goal have been driven to constantly changing projects by the unstable, inconsistent and self-displeasing sloppiness; some make no decision whatsoever where to direct their life path, but their fate overtakes them while they are limp and yawning [...] "

His special focus was on people's contradicting handling of property on the one hand and their limited lifespan on the other:

“You can't find anyone who wants to share his money, but how many does everyone share his life with! They are captivated by keeping their inheritance together, but when it comes to wasting their time, they are most generous with what avarice alone is honorable. "

Those who postpone worthwhile projects to an age when they have no way of knowing whether they will even achieve it are also exploiting the given life span. To live, on the other hand, understand those who leave the everyday hustle and bustle behind and turn to philosophy. This opens up a rich past to man. Seneca advocates studying different philosophical paths:

"One can discuss with Socrates , doubt with Carneades , live withdrawn with Epicurus , overcome the essence of man with the Stoics , leave behind with the Cynics ."

It stands to reason that Seneca also conveyed his philosophical guiding principles to the growing Nero, who, according to Agrippina's ambitions, should mainly be prepared for his role as future emperor. Nero himself was more inclined to the fine arts, had some talent and a strong tendency to self-presentation. If Seneca began writing tragedies at this time, it may have strengthened his influence over the heir to the throne who emulated him in poetry.

In all of his tragedies, Seneca took up the classic material of the Greek myths following Aeschylus , Sophocles and Euripides . They were suitable to pass on his philosophical convictions partly in a drastic and horrific way, partly in a playful and unobtrusive way to the pupil. An example from the Thyestes :

“What frenzy drives you (kings) to alternate between giving your blood and seeking the scepter through crime? / [...] King is whoever has put aside fears / and the evils of a bad heart / the unrestrained ambition / and the never lasting favor / the careless crowd moves / [...] King is who fears nothing / is king, who desires nothing. / Everyone gives this kingdom to himself. "

Seneca worked as the prince's tutor for about five years until Claudius died in 54 - allegedly poisoned by his wife, who wanted to make Nero emperor and gain even more power herself.

Co-designer of Nero's beginning of rule

One of Nero's successors, Emperor Trajan , who ruled from 98 to 117 , is said to have described the first years of Nero's reign from 54 to 59 as the happy five-year-old (quinquennium) of the Roman Empire. When he was only sixteen, Nero came to power in the fall of 54; and the positive judgment over the first years of his principality is mainly due to the two excellent harmonious political masterminds and companions of Nero, the Prefect of the Guard Sextus Afranius Burrus and Seneca, who is still highly valued by Nero as a counterweight to his own mother and who received extensive donations. The sources are silent about Seneca's influence on political decisions in detail. Nothing concrete is known about his brief consulate 55 or his behavior in the Senate.

One of Nero's first official acts was the funeral speech for the adoptive father Claudius , which Seneca had prepared for him and which Nero delivered in a dignified manner. But when at one point Claudius' foresighted abilities and his wisdom were mentioned, general merriment spread against the occasion, because Claudius was considered limited by his contemporaries.

Senecas Apocolocyntosis in the St. Gallen manuscript, Stiftsbibliothek, 569, page 251 (9th century)

In the same year Seneca wrote the Ludus de morte Claudii Neronis , the "Game about the Death of Claudius Nero", which is mostly cited as "Apocolocyntosis" ("gourd" in the sense of kidding) with a title handed down from Cassius Dio . It is the only Menippeische , that is, partly in prose, partly in hexameters , that has come down to us from Seneca. He makes extensive fun of the alleged mental, moral and physical inadequacies of the late emperor. So he puts the last words in the mouth of the dying Claudius: “Vae me, puto, concacavi me!” (In German, for example: “Oh dear, I'm afraid I shit myself”) and then describes his path through the hereafter, where Emperor Claudius, instead of being worshiped as a god, finally had to work as a bailiff as a slave to a freedman . Gregor Maurach suspects that Seneca was later ashamed of this angry polemic, which so obviously contradicted his own ideal of philosophical serenity, and tried to prevent its further spread.

On the other hand, Seneca's programmatic warning Ad Neronem Caesarem de clementia (“To Emperor Nero on Mildness”) was entirely in line with his philosophical works , with which he changed his pupil at the beginning of his principle to mildness towards his fellow citizens and responsible administration wanted to stop. In Marion Giebel's opinion, Seneca laid the "long-needed foundation for the traditional Roman monarchy" with this font, which was primarily intended for the public. He was referring to the words of Zenon's disciple and Macedonian king Antigonus II Gonatas , according to which rule for the king was "an honorable and glorious bondage".

Nero assumed the role of a mild emperor for a time and again brought out the dignity of the Senate; However, due to his temperament, he has hardly seen himself in any serving function. When Manfred Fuhrmann states: "The monarchy is uncontrollable, the evidence of the resulting deficits are overcome by man himself alone: This elaborate doctrine of Seneca could just someone to impress that and capable of self-reflection of the experience of their own, limited subjectivity was penetrated. "

In securing his power, Nero did not rely on the leniency sworn towards him. As early as 55, tensions arose between Agrippina, who also showed her will to rule on official occasions, and Nero, which Seneca was only able to cover up. When the mother threatened the son with the unsettled claims to the throne of his stepbrother Britannicus, according to sources, Nero arranged for him to be poisoned at a meal in the presence of Agrippina and had it spread that Britannicus had died of an epileptic fit.

Downsides of power sharing

Seneca had not attended the meal, which was fatal for Britannicus. How he reacted to the murder is not known. He could do little anyway if he didn't want to lose his influence on Nero.

Whether and from when Seneca may have found the place at Nero's side to be problematic remains open. Although he writes in one of the letters to Lucilius that he only recognized the right path late, he gave on the other hand - as almost always without any explicit reference to his own actions - philosophical reasons for his continued participation in the center of Roman power. With the example of Socrates , who under the rule of thirty in Athens in 404/403 BC. Chr., Having exemplified an unadjusted-free demeanor for his fellow citizens, Seneca supported the thesis that a wise man could make a living in a difficult situation for the community and that it was important to weigh up when political engagement had opportunities and when it was hopeless .

Already within the quinquennium, which was later extremely positively recognized, Nero's impulsiveness and his tendency to debauchery made Seneca and Burru's business difficult, especially since Poppaea Sabina , the mistress and wife of the emperor from 59, gained more and more influence over him. Nevertheless, Seneca held out at his post at court, perhaps to prevent something worse. According to other researchers such as Ulrich Gotter , who do not want to defend the philosopher and who regard his philosophical self-portrayal as a facade, Seneca was primarily concerned with his own position of power:

“If you leave aside the man's philosophical treatises, about the originality of which one can, incidentally, be very divided, the picture of a thoughtless opportunist emerges. To ridicule his deceased patron, the recently deified Emperor Claudius, with a biting satire was just as much a service to the young Nero, who tried to distance himself from his adoptive father, as his involvement in Britannicus 'murder ... After Burrus' death he tried finally in the clear realization that the game for power was lost, with embarrassingly servile oaths of revelation to save at least his life and at least part of his fortune gathered in the fat years. "

Thanks to Nero's donations, Seneca had become one of the richest men in the Roman Empire - according to Tacitus , his fortune grew by 300 million sesterces in the four years between 54 and 58 alone . In the province of Britain he ruthlessly collected 40 million sesterces from canceled loans which he had previously forced on the debtors. When the former consul Publius Suillius Rufus , who had made himself hated as a prosecutor in majesty trials under Claudius , was brought to trial in 58, according to Tacitus, he attacked Seneca in front of the Senate as a seducer of youth and women, as well as a loaf and bag of money ruthlessly plunder the provinces, force childless Romans to appoint him as heir and “put on his greed also a philosophical cloak of needlessness.” Seneca, at this point still in Nero's favor, won the process and Suillius was sent into exile.

Seneca's writing About the Happy Life is often interpreted as a response to these attacks. In it he emphatically denied that there was any contradiction between the Stoic teaching and his personal wealth. The wise man must, however, be able to give up material goods and not make himself their slave. The following passage sounds like a reply to the allegations made in the Suillius trial:

“So stop banning the philosophers from money! Nobody condemned wisdom to poverty. The philosopher will have rich treasures that have not been snatched from anyone, are not dripping with foreign blood, have been acquired without injustice to anyone, without dirty origins. "

Seneca experts criticize that large parts of this work served to justify one's own wealth with the help of appropriately selected philosophemes . Richard Mellein speaks of Seneca's “hypocritical opportunism” in this context.

It is unclear whether Seneca was still concerned with his tragedies at the time; What is known, however, is that he did not write one of the tragedies originally ascribed to him, which was the only one that directly related to contemporary events at the court of Nero. The heroine of the title was Nero's first wife Octavia (like Britannicus a child of Claudius), who had underpinned Nero's claim to the throne in marriage. If Octavia was already exposed to the resettlement by her mother-in-law Agrippina, she was now more and more pushed out of her position by Poppaea and later had to leave Rome when Seneca had already largely withdrawn from political life. She had been accused of adultery according to the tried and tested pattern, but this was generally not taken at face value. Since she was still very popular among the people as an exile, and Nero and Poppaea, who had meanwhile married, appeared to be a threat, she was finally killed in 65.

According to Tacitus , Seneca was directly involved in Nero's completed matricide in 59. A first attack on Agrippina, who had been able to save herself from a ship prepared for sinking, had failed. Then Nero is said to have taken advice from Seneca and Burrus. The completion of the murder was then done by Nero's close confidante, the Greek freedman Anicetus. In a communication to the Senate, written as usual by Seneca, it was stated that a messenger from Agrippina had supposedly murdered Nero; after thwarting the crime, she had given herself to death.

Withdrawal from politics and later work at leisure

After the murder of Agrippina, Nero had sole power and no longer needed Senecas as a mediating guardian of his claims against his mother. Nevertheless, the external position of Seneca, the most important political advisor to the Princeps alongside Burrus , initially and in the following years did not change anything. Both served Nero by political directing, while the emperor increasingly pursued his passions in chariot races and realized his artistic inclinations as a musician and tragedy mime as well as the founder and central figure of musical festivals and competitions such as the Juvenalia and the Neronia .

According to the report of Tacitus, Seneca asked when Burrus died in 62 - rather hostile by his successor Tigellinus - to be released from civil service. At the same time he expressed the wish that Nero should take the majority of the assets he had acquired back into his own administration. The emperor replied that he could not do without Seneca and that he could not accept the transfer of property without damage to his own reputation; Beyond the rhetorical recognition phrases, Seneca's departure from the center of power was sealed. He dismissed the entourage that had surrounded him according to his political importance, and withdrew more and more into private life, mostly to Nomentum on a winery northeast of Rome.

Seneca philosophically reflected on his retirement from political life and from his shared responsibility for the community of the ancient world power in his work On Leisure . He has an unknown interlocutor ask:

“What are you talking about, Seneca? Are you withdrawing from the political parties? Surely you know that stoics like you say: 'We will be active until the end of life, will not cease to work for the common good, to support the individual, even to help our enemies with decrepit hands. We are the ones who do not allow years of free time [...] in which there is no rest until death, so that if the opportunity is given, not even death itself occurs in peace. '"

The answer to this rhetorical objection is:

“I will divide my reply into two parts: first, that from early youth one can devote oneself entirely to contemplating the truth, seeking the art of living and practicing it in seclusion; Secondly, especially when one has been honorably discharged from his service at an advanced age, one can do this with very good justification [...] The following reason is particularly obvious: when the state is too depraved than helping it if he sinks into evils, the wise will not intervene without prospect and will not sacrifice himself if he cannot help. "

In any case, Seneca as a stoic saw himself not only committed to the state community of the Roman Empire, but also to that comprehensive "state" as which he viewed nature and cosmos together with all people and gods. This state, which is to be measured with the sun, is also at leisure to serve with various investigations:

“... whether the matter from which everything arises is particleless and complete or divided and a void mixed with solid matter; what the dwelling place of God is, whether he only looks at his work or also influences it; whether it surrounds it from the outside or is contained in its whole; whether the world is immortal or whether it has to be counted as something that is frail and something created for time. "

Letters of Seneca in a manuscript from 1458. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana , Plut. 45.33, fol. 1r

He concluded:

"We say that the greatest good is to live according to nature: nature made us both to contemplate the world and to act."

In the “leisure” time he had left from AD 62 to 65 after his politically active life, Seneca realized two other major projects with Über Wohltaten (De beneficiis) in addition to other subject-related philosophical works : writing aimed at natural phenomena and cosmic relationships Scientific investigations (Quaestiones naturales) , which he had already begun in Corsica, as well as the collection of letters to Lucilius , conceived as a practical, philosophical-ethical guide, 124 of which have survived. This extensive work is his main philosophical work. Otto Apelt pointed out in 1924 that after quoting from the Noctes Atticae by Gellius , other letters originally existed.

Expectation of death in a stoic way

Seneca's life ended in Nero's commanded suicide. The political background was the Pisonian conspiracy against Nero's increasingly despotic regiment. Fuhrmann sees Seneca not directly involved, but in the role of the spiritual pioneer.

Seneca's death in the Schedel world chronicle

The widespread political dissatisfaction with Emperor Nero, including among the senators, was expressed by Seneca in his work On Charities . There it says, alluding to Nero:

"If he is not racing out of anger, but in a certain frenzy, if he strangles children in front of his parents, if he is not satisfied with simply killing, if he uses torture, [...] if his castle is always oozing fresh blood, then that's enough it is not enough not to repay this person for a favor. Whatever had connected him to me, the abolished commonality of human legal principles separated. "

The long-planned and repeatedly postponed assassination attempt on Nero was betrayed shortly before its execution. By assuring impunity for those willing to cooperate, the emperor succeeded in unleashing a broad wave of denunciation, of which Seneca was one of the numerous victims. The situation he got into as a result, however, did not take him unprepared, as preparation for one's own death is a central theme of the Stoic art of living:

“There is only one chain that keeps us chained, namely the love of life. We are not allowed to reject them, but we have to reduce their pressure so that nothing holds us back under the pressure of the circumstances and prevents us from being ready to do what has to happen immediately. "

Seneca's fragile health had brought him close to death from a young age. About his shortness of breath he said: “The attack […] is a struggle with death. That is why doctors call the ailment 'a preparatory exercise for dying'. ”His stoic philosophical orientation had shown him the way to deal with it:“ Let me tell you: I won't tremble before the last moment, I'm ready, I'll do the math never with a whole day that I still have to live. "

Death and the fight against the fear of death had recently become a particularly important and recurring theme in the letters to Lucilius. It was probably the last practical test for Seneca, which was deliberately placed in the center: "Before I entered old age, it was my aim to live in honor, now that it is here to die in honor."

As early as in the fourth letter to Lucilius, Seneca had taken a rigorous stance: He did not regard life as a good, but only morally pure life. Of the sage who suffered from persistent severe disturbances of calmness, he wrote:

“Then he throws the fetter off himself, and he doesn't just do this in extreme need; but as soon as fate begins to suspect him, he conscientiously consults with himself whether he should put an end to it immediately. "

Seneca dealt in detail with this problem in his 70th letter to Lucilius. a. criticized those philosophers who made suicide a sin: “He who speaks like this does not see that he is blocking the way to freedom. How could the eternal law have proceeded better than giving us only one entrance into life, but many exits? ”One could not give a general answer as to whether death should be expected in individual cases or whether it should be brought about:“ Because there are many Reasons that can lead us to one of two possible decisions. If one way of death involves torture and the other is simple and easy, why shouldn't I stick to the latter? "

Seneca's conclusion in this 70th letter to Lucilius, which was obtained from frequent and intensive preoccupations with dying and death, read:

“For life everyone must also take into account the approval of others, death he determines entirely at his own discretion; the more according to our inclination, the better. "

El suicidio de Séneca , historical painting from 1871 by Manuel Domínguez Sánchez , now in the Museo del Prado

Nero staged the accounting with his mentor as a two-stage process. After Seneca was denounced, the emperor sent a senior officer to tell him about his relationship with Piso . Seneca did not confirm the suspicion that had been expressed, but a little later he received the request to kill himself by another messenger. He wanted to have tablets brought to him in order to write his will. However, this was denied him. Thereupon he bequeathed his friends the only, but at the same time most beautiful - as he put it - the "picture of his life" (imago vitae) .

The philosopher was aware that death is present anytime and anywhere.

“Fate has not so uplifted anyone that it would not have shown itself to him in its threatening form as often as in its favor. Do not trust this calm: a moment is enough to stir the sea. The same day that the ships were still racing, they were engulfed in the waves. Be prepared for a robber, or an enemy, to put a sword on your throat. "

In his annals, Tacitus describes the death of Seneca as the death of a sage modeled on Socrates, whose death is depicted in Plato's Phaedo . According to this, Seneca is said to have only succeeded in suicide on the third attempt: First, he opened his wrists and other arteries on his legs, then, like Socrates, he was said to have drunk a hemlock and finally suffocated in a steam bath. His wife, Pompeia Paulina , who, in the course of the torturous process, had herself taken to another room at Seneca's request, also made an attempt at suicide. But Nero allegedly had the wrists that were already open connected again, so that she survived her husband for a few years.

The philosopher

Drawing of a bust by
Lucas Vorsterman held at the time for Seneca

Seneca saw himself as a philosopher who carried on the teachings of the Stoa , formulated his own philosophical knowledge on this soil in a contemporary way and pleaded for lifelong learning . When writing his works, he usually had specific people as recipients in mind, on whose behavior and life he wanted to influence. B. his friend Annaeus Serenus , who suffered from life doubts.

From a modern perspective, it has sometimes been questioned whether Seneca should be considered a philosopher at all. Due to his easy readability and his concentration on everyday questions of ethics - he did not deal with the problems of logic at all, natural philosophy only in the Naturales quaestiones without connecting to the philosophical traditions - he is often referred to as a popular philosopher.

Seneca himself has left a large number of explanatory notes on his intentions in his writings. B. in the 64th letter of the Epistulae morales to Lucilius :

“Hence I adore the results of wisdom and its discoverers. I am happy to approach them as the legacy of many people. They were acquired for me and worked out for me. But we should act as a good family man and multiply what we have received. A greater inheritance should pass from me to my successors. There is still a lot of work to be done, and it will always be so, and even those who are born after countless generations are not deprived of the opportunity to add anything else. But even if everything has already been found by previous people, one thing will always be new, namely the concrete application and contemporary use of what others have found. "

In his 90th letter, Seneca described the meaning and use of his philosophizing as follows:

“Our life, my Lucilius, is undoubtedly a gift from the gods , the honorable life a gift from philosophy . It could therefore be taken as proven that we owe it more than the gods, just as honorable life is of higher value than life itself if philosophy itself were not bestowed on us by the gods. [...] Your only task is to find the truth in the divine and human realm . At their side are always worship of the gods, fulfillment of duty and justice as well as the rest of the suite of virtues , which are closely connected with one another. It teaches to worship the divine and to love the human world; that the gods rule and people are connected in fate . "

“Philosophy”, it says in the 16th letter, “is our duty and must protect us, regardless of whether fate determines us through its inexorable law, whether a god has ordered the whole of the world out of his will or whether chance has arranged the actions of people chaotically in constant motion. "

The emphasis in Seneca is often on the practical virtuous lifestyle that not everyone can achieve. In many cases, he contrasts philosophizing in this sense with the striving and activity of the mass of the people and underlines the value of his own arguments precisely through this demarcation. His book On the Briefness of Life is an example of this. Not well-placed words, but deeds are therefore decisive:

“Philosophy is not a skill that is presented to the people or that is even suitable for showing, it is not based on words, but on deeds. Nor does one turn to it in order to spend the day with pleasant entertainment, in order to free the leisure time from the stigma of boredom. It shapes and forms the spirit, it orders life, determines our actions; it shows what to do and what not to do. "

Shortly before the end of his life, he made this point of view clear again:

“I take lectures from a philosopher. I've been going to his school for five days and have been listening to his lecture from the eighth hour onwards. [...] You have to learn as long as you are ignorant - that is, for a lifetime, if we believe the proverb. This leads to the following thought: You have to learn for a lifetime how to shape life. [...] I show through my example that you still have to learn in old age. As you know, my way to the house of the Metronax leads past the Theater of Naples. It is overwhelmingly crowded there, and opinions about the quality of a flute player are discussed with loud enthusiasm: Greek trumpeters and criminals are also very popular. But in the space in which one researches human ethics […] only a few have taken up space…. "

He also wrote the phrase Non vitae sed scholae discimus (“We do not learn for life, but for school”), which later became particularly famous in its reversal and in reality a criticism of what, in his opinion, is too little practical orientation should convey philosophy taught at the time.

Stoics of his own kind

Alongside Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, Seneca is one of the most important representatives of the younger Stoa . When Seneca was born, the teachings of this Athens school of philosophy had existed for 300 years. From the 2nd century BC In BC they had increasingly found their way into leading circles of the Roman Republic , as they proved to be well compatible with their elitist ties to the common good. In addition, other philosophical schools and popular piety also had their followers.

Seneca was open to influences from other philosophical schools and adopted some of them in his thinking without allowing any doubts about his basic attitude. In expressly differentiating it from other philosophical directions, which he said was soft, he emphasized that the Stoics did not care that the path was pleasant and pleasant, “but that it set us free as soon as possible and lead us to a high summit that was far enough is out of the reach of spears to have escaped fate. "

At the summit meant by Seneca, the one who has ascended with tenacious determination achieves the unshakable peace of mind, which is at the same time a peace with nature and cosmic order. “The highest good is the harmony of the soul .” Only reason , which Seneca describes as “part of the divine spirit immersed in the human body”, can lead to peace of mind.

Only reason can control the affects , the mastery of which, according to Stoic teaching, paves the way to the highest good. Only this can lead the philosopher to the realization that the life span is limited, that all people are equal before death and that the wise man should spend his short time in serenity and peace with the increase of the common good and philosophical knowledge.

Seneca's early philosophical examination of anger , which is seen as the greatest emotional challenge, aims at this connection:

“What are you angry with your slave, master, king or client ? Just wait a little and, see, death will come, which will equalize you. [...] We should rather spend the little time we have in peace and quiet. Nobody should hate our corpses. "

Likewise, other affects and passions such as pleasure , displeasure, desire and fear must be overcome. Reasonable serenity is therefore the supreme virtue of the Stoic. Seneca repeatedly acknowledges the philosophical tradition in which he stands. Adapting their teachings to changed circumstances is an important task for him.

“Shouldn't I follow in the footsteps of my predecessors? Verily I will take the old way; But if I find a more suitable and level one, I will stick to it. The people who brought up these teachings before us are not our masters, but our guides. The truth is open to all, it is not forgiven. A large part of their research will be left to future generations. "

Teacher of individual virtue, community service and cosmopolitan orientation

Like the late Stoa in general, Seneca dealt primarily with questions of right living, especially with ethics . For him, too, virtue was the highest good, the indispensable basis and accompaniment of cheerful serenity and peace of mind, the stoic epitome of human happiness .

“You can say: the highest good is ethical action. [...] But virtue cannot become greater or lesser; it is always of the same shape. "

Happiness has nothing to do with wealth or the judgment of people, but is of a spiritual nature. The lucky man despises what is generally admired, “does not know anyone with whom he would like to trade” and “judges a person only according to his human worth”. People should lead a life according to the laws of nature and distinguish between that which is inevitable and the things that humans can influence. Seneca also called on people to take an active part in political life, selflessly take on social responsibilities and cultivate friendships:

“Nobody can live in an ethically responsible manner who only thinks about himself and subordinates everything to his personal advantage. You have to live for the other if you want to live for yourself. If this connection is cultivated conscientiously and as a holy good - which joins us as human beings and which shows that there is a common human right - then it contributes in particular to promoting the said covenant, i.e. friendship. "

On the other hand, he also emphasized the duality of human disposition: “You still have to combine and alternate both - loneliness and sociability. The former causes a longing in us for people, the latter for ourselves, and it should be one of the other remedies: hating the crowd heals loneliness, the displeasure of loneliness heals the crowd. "

Seneca put an original concept of human rights equality alongside the social status differences :

“All people have the same beginnings, the same origin; no one is more distinguished than another, unless he is characterized by an upright disposition and, due to good character traits, a better disposition. "

Appealing to Plato , he emphasized the coincidence of social position and the importance of one's own spiritual endeavors.

“Plato says there is no king who is not descended from slaves and no slave who is not descended from kings. The change of time has mixed up all of this and fate has reversed everything several times. [...] The intellect confers the noble rank and it can rise above fate from any situation in life. "

Seneca between Plato and Aristotle , book illumination in a manuscript of selected philosophical texts from the 14th century

A happy life, said Seneca, can only be lived by those who do not only think of themselves and subordinate everything to their advantage. Happiness gives the ability to be friends with oneself and others. However, Seneca also reprimanded friends for wrongdoing and lack of insight. In a letter to Lucilius about his mutual friend Marcellinus, he said: “He rarely visits us because he does not want to hear the truth. However, this danger no longer exists for him. Because one should only talk about it with those who are willing to listen. ”In the same letter he continues:“ I am not yet giving our mutual friend Marcellinus completely lost. He can still be saved, but only if you shake hands with him quickly. In doing so, however, it could happen that he pulls away those who hold out his hand. He has great spiritual gifts, unfortunately associated with a tendency towards bad ... "

Seneca emphasizes the importance of generosity: "Let us give as we ourselves would like to receive: above all with pleasure, quickly and without any hesitation." As a benefactor, one could end up with the wrong people with his fellow men, but at other times it will hit the right people :

“Life would soon freeze into boring idleness if you quickly withdrew your hand from anything that displeases you. [...] Because one does not practice with regard to possible advantages: acting correctly is reward in itself. "

In doing so, however, he did not advocate an ethic of compassion such as that which the early Christians spread at the same time . He explicitly rejected pity as being "close to suffering", since it only interferes with the goal of his philosophizing, the serene peace of mind:

“Compassion is an emotional suffering because of the sight of someone else's misery or grief because of someone else's misfortune. [...] But soul suffering does not affect a wise man. "

The stoic manner , after Seneca others are not hindered in its sovereign peace of mind by the behavior is so to speak invulnerable in this regard:

“Only bad people do injustice to good people. The good have peace with one another . "

In the 90th letter to Lucilius, Seneca differentiates between a kind of natural state and the existing developmental state of society: “The bond between people remained intact for a while, until greed tore the bond and also those whom it enriched became the cause of their poverty has been. Because people no longer own the whole as long as they regard parts of it as their property . The first humans and their descendants, on the other hand, followed nature unspoiled . ”Accordingly, the management functions also naturally fell to those who were most suitable because of their spiritual significance. Because unassailable authority is only possessed by “those who put their power entirely at the service of duty ”.

In historical times, Seneca directs the gaze to the individual by underlining with regard to the four cardinal virtues : “In the people of the past there was no justice , insight , moderation or bravery . Her still uneducated life showed certain similarities to all these virtues; but virtue itself is only given to an instructed and learned mind that has attained the highest insight through constant practice . "That golden age of mankind under the undisputed rule of the wise, which Seneca partially traced the ideas of Poseidonius in his 90th letter , According to this notion, finally led to the historical process of antiquity , which Seneca was familiar with up to the beginnings of the Principate : “But when vices slowly crept in and the monarchy turned into tyranny , laws were necessary for the first time, which were initially still from the Wise men were given. ”In this connection he mentions Solon for Athens' legislature and Lycurgus for Sparta .

Seneca viewed the relationship of the philosopher to the political rulers as someone who had got to know this field in both a creative and a suffering role:

“It seems to me to be wrong who thinks that loyal followers of philosophy are conceited cross-heads, they despise authorities, rulers and the administrators of the state. On the contrary, philosophers are grateful to them like no one else, and rightly so. The guardians of the state do no one more service than those who can pursue intellectual activity undisturbed. "

According to Seneca, the benevolence of peace through the ruler's political leadership extends to all people, "but is felt more deeply by those who make laudable use of it." Citizens should participate in political life, even if they have little influence on it the results can take. "The commitment of a committed citizen is never useless: He is useful if you listen to him or even see him, through his facial expression, his gestures, his silent sympathy, even just through his appearance." He did not just refer on his own state, but described himself in the sense of the Stoa as a citizen of the world with the task of spreading virtue worldwide.

"That is why we Stoics [...] are not limited to the walls of a single city, but are in exchange with the entire world and recognize our fatherland all over the world: We want to gain a larger field of activity for our moral endeavors."

Attitude to women and slaves in Roman society

According to Villy Sørensen, some of Seneca's philosophical writings fit the horizon of contemporary urban western civilization. On the other hand, his utterances often reveal the specific characteristics of the ancient culture to which he belonged: “We erase freak births, and children, even if they were born weak and misshapen, we drown; and it is not anger but reason to separate what is unfit from what is healthy. "

Seneca's attitude towards the opposite sex was ambivalent. In keeping with the main intellectual trend of his time, Seneca described women as inferior. He went so far as to put them - if they were without education - on the same level as animals. “Some are so insane that they think a woman can put them down. What does it matter how beautiful she is, how many litter carriers she has, what kind of earrings she has or how comfortable her lounger is? She is always an equally unreasonable creature, and if she does not have knowledge and education, nothing but a wild animal, not capable of its desires. ”From this point of view, anger is also classified as an“ effeminate and childish weakness ” men are also infested: "Because men also have a childish and effeminate disposition."

While the depreciating tendency towards women clearly predominates at this point, Seneca assumes in his consolation writings on women familiar to him that both sexes have common traits. In these consolation writings, which he wrote for Marcia and for his mother, he is clearly less misogynous . So he wrote to Marcia:

“Who would have said that nature was viciously done with the mental endowment of women and narrowly restricted their merits? Believe me, they have the same strength, the same ability for the moral good, if only they will; They can bear pain and exertion just as well if they are used to it. "

And in the consolation for his mother Helvia he explicitly took a stand against the conventional image of women represented by his father and enforced within the family:

“I wish that my father, the fine man, had less adhered to the tradition of his ancestors and rather wished that you had been thoroughly trained in the teachings of philosophy, not just briefly introduced. Then you don't need to laboriously build up the aids to endure your fate now, but just bring them out. He has given you less freedom for studies, since there are women who do it not with the aim of wisdom but only for the satisfaction of their vanity. "

With this, Seneca recognizes his father's power as a pater familias to make decisions about his mother, but criticizes the fact that he made it difficult for her to access education and forbade her to do scientific work. In doing so, he indirectly supports the demand for women's education and, in turn, proves to be a philosopher who abandons traditional thought patterns.

Like the subordinate position of women, slavery and slavery were among the characteristic features of the ancient social order. Legally, slaves were equated with property that the owner could dispose of at will. Seneca's attitude towards these almost unlawful even in his day was determined by humane care.

“I don't want to get into an inexhaustible subject and discuss the treatment of the slaves against whom we are so arrogant, cruel and condescending. But in a nutshell, my teaching is as follows: You should live with your subordinate as you wish your superior to live with you. [...] Be kind and polite to your slave, include him in the conversation, give him access to your meetings and feasts. [...] Some may be your table companions because they are worthy of it, but others should still be. Because if they still show the behavior of slaves due to their rough handling, the table talk with more educated people will make them abandon this behavior. It is not true, dear Lucilius, that you can only look for a friend on the forum or in the curia ; if you are careful and attentive, you will find him in your home too. Good material often goes unused because the artist is missing. Try and you will experience it. "

With this view, Seneca was one of the few thinkers of antiquity who took a critical look at slavery. This attitude was probably not shared by the Roman elite.

Thought leader of wisdom

The explicit affirmation of fate and the individual claim to freedom go together in a peculiar way in Seneca's thinking. He regards any kind of dependency that threatens inner freedom as an evil : "Freedom perishes if we do not despise everything that tries to bend us under a yoke." In contrast, happiness in life results from an apparently simple formula:

“He who has insight is also measured ; who is measured, also indifferent ; he who is indifferent cannot be disturbed; he who does not allow himself to be disturbed is without sorrow; he who is without sorrow is happy: therefore the one who has insight is happy, and insight is sufficient for a happy life! "

That the formula seldom works out completely in everyday life and that humans have a problematic constitution in this respect is made clear in other places:

“I do not assume that the wise man is superhuman, I do not claim that he fends off pain like a rock without emotion. I know that it consists of two parts: One is irrational and can therefore be offended, burned, and tormented; the other is sensible, he has unshakable principles , he is fearless and free. Man's greatest good rests on him. As long as it is not perfect , the mind is unsteady and restless, but if it is perfect, the mind can no longer be shaken. "

Seneca struggles with his own imperfection: “So let's stick with it and don't let anything dissuade us from our project! What we have left to do is more than what we already have behind us; but much of progress relies on having the will to progress. But I am certain of that: that I want, and with all my soul. "

Such endeavors include the independence of thought from the opinion of the people . At this point he quotes Epicurus : “I have never wanted to please the people. Because what I know is not for the people, and what is for the people is of no interest to me. ”Seneca emphasizes that all the major philosophical schools agree, whether Epicureans , Peripatetics , academics , Stoics or Cynics ; and he makes a sharp demarcation from any populism :

“They are reprehensible means by which one wins the favor of the people. You have to conform to these people. They only like what they know. [...] The affection of the worthless can only be obtained through worthless means. So what will the much-vaunted philosophy, superior to all the arts, show us? Certainly that you would rather stand before yourself than before the people, that you measure your standards of judgment according to their worth and not base them on the general approval rating, that you live without fear of gods and people, that you overcome or put an end to evils do. "

What ultimately matters to Seneca in the course of life is approaching the goal of regaining the innocence of the newborn by the means of reason and insight:

“We are worse when we die than we are when we are born. The fault is us, not nature; nature has to complain about us and say: 'What is this about? I made you without desires , without fear, without superstition , without dishonesty and without the other vices : as you enter life, so you should go out. ' He has acquired the wisdom that is just as carefree at death as at birth. "

Concept of God and view of death

Seneca's concept of God is complex. Depending on the context, he speaks of "gods", the "divine" or the "god". Regarding the development of the individual, he writes:

“Believe me, Lucilius, there is a holy spirit within us who observes and monitors our bad and good qualities. This treats us just as we do with him. Nobody is a really good person without God. Or could someone rise above fate without his help? To him we owe all our great and lofty resolutions. [...] Just as the sun's rays reach the earth, but still belong to their starting point, so there is a great, holy soul, which was sent down to allow us to better understand the divine, in exchange with us, but remains in its place of origin arrested: from there she goes out, here she looks and exerts influence, among us she acts, as it were, as a higher being. "

Finally, for Seneca, the wise is closely related to the divine:

“For the wise, as for the deity, his lifespan is eternity. In one point the wise surpasses the deity: if this is free from fear, it owes it to nature; the wise owes it to himself. Truly it means something to connect the weakness of man with the indolence of the deity. Philosophy has an incredible power to absorb all violence of chance. "

About death , which ultimately makes a striking difference between the wise in Seneca's sense of the word and the divine, Seneca has speculated or left room for it in accordance with the philosophical tradition with which he is familiar: “Death, what is it? The end or a transition. I am not afraid of either. ”And in his 70th letter to Lucilius he again emphasizes the individual right of self-disposal with regard to one's own life up to and including its termination:

“It is a consolation for us humans that no one is unhappy except through our own fault. If you like it, live; if you don't like it, you can go back to where you came from. "

The playwright

The dramas ascribed to Seneca are the only surviving tragedies of ancient Latin. In contrast to the classic Greek tragedies, these are not plot dramas, but psychological dramas. The link to the philosophical writings is, according to Maurach Senecas, the overriding goal of "soul guidance", which in the tragedies makes him the "pursuer" of vice, madness and self-arrogance with theatrical means: "As such, he creates the horrible, All-destructive, wants to shake and terrify what man is capable of doing to man ”. Änne Bäumer writes: “For the poet-philosopher, theater opens up an opportunity for broad impact; the audience is influenced by well-formulated sentences and skillful stage psychology to fight their own affects. ”The focus was on fighting anger as a psychological disposition that is inherent in human nature through aggressiveness. Another main theme of Seneca's tragedies is the condemnation of the destructive tyrant . The tragedies Medea , Agamemnon , Phoenissae , Oedipus , Troades , Hercules furens , Phaedra and Thyestes are relatively certain to be attributed to him . In the case of individual persons in these tragedies - most impressively in Clytaemnestra, the main character of the Agamemno tragedy - it can be clearly observed how precisely Seneca depicts the genesis of the furor , the decision to crime that can no longer be influenced by rationality, in accordance with the psychological views of the Stoa .

Most researchers today believe that Seneca is out of the question as the author of the Octavia that is traditionally attributed to him. It is the only completely preserved praetexta , a variation of Greek tragedy in a contemporary Roman context. The plot revolves around the repudiation of Nero's wife Octavia in favor of Poppaea . It seems impossible that this unmistakably Nero-critical text could be published during Seneca's lifetime. Seneca himself appears as a role figure and is portrayed from the perspective of his later opposition to Nero. In addition to the Octavia , the Hercules Oetaeus is also considered to be fake.

It is mostly assumed that the mythological tragedies allude to events and especially intrigues at the imperial court, presumably during the Nero period, such as matricide. A connection to Seneca's philosophy can also be seen in the fact that the classification of death into indifferentia (the indifferent things that, according to the Stoic reading, do not matter) is a prominent motif. Contemporary writings by senatorial circles on heroic depictions of death were also dedicated to this . In the tragedies it is taught that the rejection of suicide can be worse to endure than this itself. Thus the hero of the tragedy Hercules Furen refuses to commit suicide as a punishment that does not adequately atone for the crime after a frenzy and gruesome killing of relatives. Since the depiction of extreme violence, which is almost unprecedented in world literature, is partly similar to the description of rulership in Seneca's book On Anger , some experts have suggested dating to the time of exile under Claudius .

Whether the pieces were actually performed - the classical philologist Manfred Fuhrmann believes it is possible that Nero and Seneca appeared as actors in front of invited guests - or whether they were mere reading and recitation dramas is disputed in research. Seneca's plays had a major impact on the tragic dramas of the Renaissance , especially in 16th century Elizabethan England .

Seneca tragedies are rarely staged on stage at the present time. The Thyestes tragedy, which stands out due to its particular cruelty - the focus is on Thyestes' eating of his own children - has recently attracted increasing attention as an example of breaking aesthetic taboos. In 2002, for example, the Stuttgart Schauspielhaus staged the tyrant material. In the same year, Durs Grünbein published an update.

The writer as a stylist

Seneca made an epoch not only as a renewer of a stoic ethics directed towards practical life, but also as a linguistic stylist. According to Fuhrmann, the most striking feature of the new style he coined , the so-called Silver Latinity , was the punchline aimed at the effect :

“In Seneca's diction, pathos triumphs ; There it reigns in varying degrees of intensity, it fluctuates in constant crescendos and decrescendos [...] All psychic forces, the understanding as well as the intuition and the emotions, should be mobilized so that they unanimously realize the one thing that matters, that Lives dedicated to the knowledge of philosophy. "

Emperor Caligula has criticized Seneca's speech as "sand without lime" because it lacked the period structure characteristic of Cicero . Quintilian calls his style “predominantly bad and particularly dubious because it is puffed up with pomposity”, but clearly attests to Seneca's fame and appreciates his erudition. Tacitus, on the other hand, has certified Seneca to have met the taste of the young.

According to Maurach, the sentence is Seneca's “stylistic primordial cell” and not the sentence period as with Cicero. This indicates a changed sense of value and life: "Concentration on oneself, isolation, loss of broad classification." Seneca turns to the intellect with the means of exposition, clarification and awareness, as well as to the emotion . a. using motivation, shaming, affirming or correcting up to enthusiasm and excitement.

Seneca himself, however, by no means saw himself in sharp contrast to Cicero, but expressly expressed his appreciation: “Read Cicero,” he recommended to Lucilius, “his style is uniform and elegant in the rhythm of the sentence.” He rejected content-empty showmanship and manipulation of the masses:

“A lecture that is about the truth must be natural and simple; a lecture that speaks to the people has nothing to do with truth. His goal is to influence the masses and to drag uneducated listeners away in a storm, he evades any testing assessment, gets lost in all the winds. "

Elsewhere, he criticizes the cluttered expressions of those who indulge in fashion debauchery and stresses the need for clear and simple speech as an expression of a simple, dignified life. He quotes a Greek proverb according to which man's speech is like his life and relates it to the moral decline of the community:

“But just as each individual's way of acting is similar to his or her way of expression, so the rhetorical genre approximates general mores when the morality of a city suffers and the addiction to pleasure falls. Dissolute rhetoric is then an expression of general licentiousness. "

Seneca's style-forming effect did not last long, although a groundbreaking innovation did not come about. Rather, in the generation after Seneca, a return to the classical period based on the model of Cicero began, and decades later even the revival of the pre-classical period between 240 and 80 BC. Chr. Aulus Gellius , for antiquity is its argument. The last one with Seneca's style in the 2nd century. Chr traditional, described him as "silly and foolish men" (Noctes Atticae 12, 2). "These are the last words", says Fuhrmann, "which ancient Rome allowed to reach posterity through one of its greatest."


In the 4th century, as is known today, a fake correspondence with the apostle Paul emerged , which led Jerome to include Seneca as the only pagan Roman in his collection of biographies De viris illustribus . His philosophy, too, was brought closer to Christianity, since it z. B. with regard to obedience to fate or surrender to the divine will as an individual test and probation showed parallels, as well as with regard to conscience research and interpersonal relationships. Not only Hieronymus, but also the early church writers Tertullian and Laktanz have shown Seneca great esteem.

Bust of Seneca in Ulm Minster, around 1470

So far, there have only been studies, compilations of the scattered literature or related summary considerations on Seneca's aftermath since antiquity. In the Middle Ages he came into use as a moral philosopher because of his proximity to some Christian doctrines. Dante called him Seneca morale in the Divine Comedy , since in the Middle Ages the works of Seneca were attributed to two authors, the moral philosopher Seneca and a tragedy poet of the same name. His scientific investigations (Quaestiones naturales) were also studied, for example by Roger Bacon . There is also a medieval bust in the choir stalls of Ulm Minster .

Marble bust of Seneca, anonymous sculpture of the 17th century, Museo del Prado
Modern statue of Seneca in his birthplace Cordoba

During the Renaissance, it was mainly Dutch humanists who turned their attention to Seneca. Erasmus of Rotterdam published the first text-critical edition of Seneca's philosophical writings; Justus Lipsius became the center of neoicism with the De constantia font aimed at Seneca . His friend Peter Paul Rubens paid tribute to Seneca a. a. with the picture The dying Seneca . Seneca was also an authority for the Swiss reformers Zwingli and Calvin . Montaigne's essays are essentially inspired by Seneca's letters to Lucilius. The founders of modern international and natural law, Hugo Grotius and Samuel von Pufendorf , also referred to Seneca's writings.

Seneca has always been particularly valued in France. Corneille adopted the rhetorical character of language and the dialectic of dialogue from his tragedies, and Racine even inserted entire scenes from them into some of his plays. Diderot , too , became the eulogist of Seneca in his later years, saying that if he had accepted Seneca's principles earlier, he could have saved himself a lot of grief.

The representatives of the neo-humanist German classicism, with their high esteem for the Greeks at the expense of the Romans, mostly also valued Seneca's philosophy as merely derived . Hegel finally found in Seneca "more brast and bombast of moral reflection than true solidity", while on the other hand Schopenhauer was very close to Seneca. Friedrich Nietzsche despised Seneca, to whom he assumed that the philosophical content was secondary to the pointed formulation, which is why he dismissed his writings in the gay science as "obnoxiously wise Larifari".

After his critical examination of the more recent Seneca reception, Sørensen comes to the conclusion that Seneca “was one of the first to advocate a dedicated human right that considers not only the crime but the entire situation. This presupposes the knowledge that man is not naturally depraved, and it also presupposes that one is sovereign: in short, the affect can excuse the actions of others, but one cannot excuse them if one is to oneself is in the affect. You can only understand the actions of others in terms of their assumptions, but if you understand your own actions only in terms of the circumstances, then you have given yourself up. "

Sørensen refers to a large number of aspects in Seneca's philosophical writings that are close to the horizon of experience and imagination, especially of a city dweller of contemporary western civilization.

“Rome with its gigantomania, its lack of common spiritual values, its wealth and poverty, its enjoyment of life and its weariness, its desire for entertainment and redemption, its individualism and its mass psychosis , this Rome is the precedent of our own big city civilization. That is why one can understand Seneca in terms of our own time, but perhaps we understand it better in terms of his. With the differences, the similarities between then and now become clearer. "

Fonts (selection)

Seneca, Dialoge (7th book) in the manuscript Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana , C 90 inf., Fol. 57r (11th / 12th century)
  • Apocolocyntosis (other titles: Divi Claudii apotheosis or Iudus de morte Claudii ) -attributed tothe “gourding” (peeling) by Emperor Claudius , Seneca
  • Naturales quaestiones ("Scientific investigations")
  • Dialogues (traditional counting according to tradition in Codex Ambrosianus C 90, not chronological)
    • 1: De Providentia ("Providence")
    • 2: De Constantia Sapientis ("The unshakable wise man")
    • 3–5: De Ira (three books) ("The Wrath")
    • 6: De Consolatione ad Marciam (also: Ad Marciam de consolatione) ("Consolation for Marcia")
    • 7: De Vita Beata ("About the happy life" / "The happy life")
    • 8: De otio ("The seclusion")
    • 9: De Tranquillitate Animi ("On the balance of the soul" / "The calm of the soul")
    • 10: De Brevitate Vitae (“On the brevity of life” / “The brevity of life”) - essay that states that one should live in today and not tomorrow, and that the goal of life is more leisure, not more work is
    • 11: De Consolatione ad Polybium (" Consolation for Polybius")
    • 12: De Consolatione ad Helviam matrem (" Consolation for Mother Helvia")
  • De Clementia ("On goodness", to Nero)
  • De Beneficiis ("About Charities")
  • Epistulae morales ad Lucilium - Collection of 124 letters to Lucilius on (late Stoic ) ethics
  • Eight tragedies
    • Hercules Furens (The Frenzied Hercules)
    • Troades (The Trojans)
    • Medea
    • Phoenissae (The Phoenician Women)
    • Phaedra
    • Agamemnon
    • Thyestes
    • Oedipus
  • Two tragedies (wrongly) ascribed to him
    • Hercules Oetaeus (Hercules on the Oeta, probably fake)
    • Octavia (surely fake)

Text editions and translations

  • L. Annaei Senecae Philosophi Opera Omnia. Ad optimorum librorum fidem accurate edita. Ed. stereotype. C. Tauchnitiana. 4 volumes. Lipsiae Holtze 1911.
  • Philosophical writings. Latin and German. Dialogues I-VI. Latin text by A. Bourgery and R. Waltz. Edited by Manfred Rosenbach. First volume. Special edition after the 5th edition from 1995. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1999, ISBN 3-534-14165-2 .
  • Philosophical writings. Edited by Manfred Rosenbach. Second volume. 4th edition Darmstadt 1993
  • Philosophical writings. First volume. Dialogues. Dialogues I – VI. Translated, with introductions and notes by Otto Apelt . Meiner, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-7873-1129-7 .
  • Philosophical writings. Second volume. Dialogues. Dialogues VII – XII. Translated, with introductions and notes by Otto Apelt. Meiner, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-7873-1129-7 .
  • Philosophical writings. Third volume. Dialogues. Letters to Lucilius. First part: Letters 1-81. Translated, with introductions and notes by Otto Apelt. Meiner, Hamburg 1993, ISBN 3-7873-1129-7 .
  • Seneca Breviary. Translated and edited by Ursula Blank-Sangmeister . Reclam, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-15-040032-5 .
  • All the tragedies. Latin and German. Volume 1: Hercules furens, Trojan women, Medea, Phaedra, Octavia. Translated and explained by Theodor Thomann. Zurich u. a., 1978 (2.A.)
  • All the tragedies. Latin and German. Volume 2: Oedipus, Thyestes, Agamemnon, Hercules on the Öta, Phoenissen. Translated and explained by Theodor Thomann. Zurich u. a., 1969
  • Writings on ethics: the little dialogues; Latin-German. Ed. And transl. by Gerhard Fink. Artemis & Winkler, Düsseldorf 2008 (Tusculum Collection), ISBN 978-3-538-03509-6 .
  • Handbook of happy life. Transl. And ed. by Heinz Berthold , Anaconda, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-938484-44-6 .
  • De vita beata. About the happy life. Latin / German. Transl. And ed. by Fritz-Heiner Mutschler , Reclam, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-15-001849-8 .
  • De tranquillitate animi. About the balance of the soul. Latin / German. Transl. And ed. by Heinz Gunermann , Reclam, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-15-001846-3 .
  • Moral letters . Translated into German and selected by Hermann Martin Endres , Goldmann, Munich 1960 (Goldmann's yellow paperbacks 614).
  • The happy life - De vita beata , Latin German, translated and edited by Gerhard Fink , Albatros Verlagsgruppe Mannheim 2010, ISBN 978-3-538-07606-8 .
  • Seneca From a happy life . Translated from the Latin by Otto Apelt, Anaconda Verlag GmbH, Cologne, 2016, ISBN 978-3-7306-0415-1 .
  • Seneca, luck and destiny. Edited by Marion Giebel, Reclam, Stuttgart, 2017, ISBN 978-3-15-011105-5 . (Anniversary edition)
  • L. Annaeus Seneca: Naturales quaestiones - Natural science studies , Latin / German, Philipp Reclam jun., Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-15-009644-8 .


Overview representations :

  • Michael von Albrecht : History of Roman literature from Andronicus to Boethius and its continued effect . Volume 2. 3rd, improved and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-11-026525-5 , pp. 979-1021.
  • Mireille Armisen-Marchetti, Jörn Lang: Seneca (Lucius Annaeus). In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques. Volume 6, CNRS Éditions, Paris 2016, ISBN 978-2-271-08989-2 , pp. 177–202.
  • Gregor Maurach : Lucius Annaeus Seneca. In: Maurach: History of Roman Philosophy. 3rd edition, Darmstadt 2006, ISBN 3-534-19129-3 , pp. 105–129.

Introductions and overall presentations :

Tragedies :

Philosophy :

  • Gregor Maurach (ed.): Seneca as a philosopher. 2nd edition, Darmstadt 1987 (collection of articles).
  • Paul Veyne : Wisdom and Altruism. An introduction to Seneca's philosophy. Frankfurt am Main 1993, ISBN 3-596-11473-X .

Reception :

Web links

Wikisource: Lucius Annaeus Seneca  - Sources and full texts (Latin)
Wikisource: Seneca  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Lucius Annaeus Seneca  - collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Epistulae morales 21.5; quoted from Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Kaiser Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 299; see. Maurach 2005, p. 174, Giebel, p. 112.
  2. Maurach 2005, p. 1.
  3. "We Stoics do not claim (negant nostri) that the wise man will take over an activity in any political system ..." (On Leisure VIII 1; quoted in Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th ed. 1993, 2nd vol., P. 97).
  4. “I want to prove that the Stoics think that way; not as if I had made it my law not to allow myself anything that offends a word of Zeno or Chrysippus, but because the matter itself allows me to support their opinion ... ”(Von der Muße III 1; quoted n. Apelt (Ed.) 1993, Vol. 2, p. 51).
  5. ^ De Providentia V 4.
  6. De tranquillitate animi V 4-5.
  7. Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, The Faith of the Hellenes, 2nd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1955, Vol. 2, p. 439; similar to the judgments in Ethelbert Stauffer, Christ and the Caesars, 3rd edition, Friedrich Wittig, Hamburg 1952, p. 150 f; Gérard Walter, Nero , Atlantis, Zurich / Freiburg 1956, p. 143.
  8. ^ Tacitus, Annalen 13:42.
  9. Hildegard Cancik: Investigations on Senecas epistulae morales. Hildesheim 1967, p. 78.
  10. Niklas Holzberg: Act of revenge and “negative prince mirror” or literary masquerade? New approach to an interpretation of the apocolocyntosis . In: Gymnasium 123 (2016), pp. 321–339.
  11. So already Karlhans Abel : On Seneca's date of birth. In: Hermes . Volume 109, 1981, pp. 123-126, here p. 125; see also Maurach 2005, p. 16; see. Fuhrmann, p. 10, Giebel, p. 7.
  12. Albrecht, p. 979.
  13. Maurach 2005, p. 18.
  14. Fuhrmann, p. 20, points out that Helvia came from the same sex of the Helvier as Cicero's mother.
  15. Acts 18 : 12-16
  16. ^ Giebel, p. 10 and Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Kaiser Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 22 f. Mela had the poet Lucan as a son.
  17. ↑ In detail: Fuhrmann, pp. 25–42.
  18. Maurach 2005, p. 19 f.
  19. Seneca, Epistulae morales ad Lucilium 108, 17-21.
  20. Vom Zorn III XXXVI 3; quoted n. Apelt (Ed.) 1993, 1st vol., p. 193.
  21. Fuhrmann, p. 45 f.
  22. There is no secure date for this either; Maurach 2005, p. 28, suggests that Seneca could not have held the Quaestur before the year 35.
  23. Consolatio ad Marciam VIII 2.
  24. De Ira I, I 1.
  25. De Ira I, VIII 1.
  26. Vom Zorn II, I 4–5, p. 149.
  27. […] nec prosit rogasse, potius causae suae et prioribus factis et bonis in futuram promissis donetur. ( De Ira II, XXI 3).
  28. Cassius Dio (59, 19, 7 f.) Reports u. a. that Caligula wanted to sanction Seneca's rhetorically brilliant pleading in the Senate with his death sentence, not tolerating that anyone besides himself knew how to shine. One of his concubines had talked him out of this because Seneca's death was already imminent due to illness; on historicity cf. Miriam Griffin: Seneca. Oxford 1976, pp. 53-57.
  29. This is about Julia Livilla the younger in contrast to Livilla .
  30. After Caligula's death, Julia Livilla returned to the court from the exile into which her brother had sent her, where she was sentenced to death that same year with the signature of Claudius, her uncle (Giebel, p. 51) .
  31. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 92 f.
  32. Consolation to mother Helvia III 2-3; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th edition 1993, 2nd vol., p. 303.
  33. Consolation to Mother Helvia VI 7 - VII 7; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th edition 1993, 2nd vol., p. 311.
  34. ^ Consolatio ad Helviam matrem XX 1.
  35. Maurach 2005, p. 75; The reason for the consolation was that Polybius had probably lost his younger brother in 43.
  36. Consolatio ad Polybium XVIII 9.
  37. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 103.
  38. Ludwig Friedländer: The philosopher Seneca (1900). In: Maurach (Ed.), 2nd ed. 1987, p. 106
  39. Sørensen, p. 122.
  40. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 163 f.
  41. See Sørensen, p. 116.
  42. De brevitate vitae II 1 f.
  43. De brevitate vitae III 1.
  44. On the brevity of life III 1; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th ed. 1993, 2nd vol., p. 185.
  45. De brevitate vitae XIV 2.
  46. Fuhrmann, p. 170; on the tragedies p. 197 ff .; on the question of dating a good and up-to-date summary in S. Grewe: The political significance of the Senecatragödien . Würzburg 2001, p. 8 f .; for attribution by Ch. Walde: Herculeus labor . Frankfurt am Main 1992, p. 1 f.
  47. Quotation from Fuhrmann, p. 212.
  48. Louis Lewin, The Poisons in World History. Toxicological, generally understandable studies of historical sources. Berlin 1920, p. 193 f.
  49. ^ Aurelius Victor , Liber de Caesaribus V 2.
  50. See Maurach 2005, p. 40; Gable, p. 60.
  51. For the dating of the consulate see G. Camodeca: I consoli del 55–56 e un nuovo collega di Seneca nel consolato: P. Cornelius Dolabella . In: Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 63 (1986), pp. 201-215.
  52. ^ Tacitus, Annals XIII 3, 1.
  53. Cassius Dio LX 35, 3.
  54. Apocolocyntosis, 5; Gable, p. 50
  55. see: Roman religion
  56. ^ Hans W. Schmidt, Apocolocyntosis, in: Kindlers Literatur Lexikon , Kindler Verlag, Zurich 1964, p. 1092
  57. ^ Gregor Maurach, Introduction , in: ders. (Ed.), Seneca als Philosopher , (= Paths of Research, Vol. CCCCXIV), Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1975, p. 4.
  58. ^ Gable, p. 55.
  59. Giebel, p. 57.
  60. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 194. See also Sørensen, pp. 130-132.
  61. Louis Lewin, The Poisons in World History. Toxicological, generally understandable studies of historical sources , J. Springer, Berlin 1920, 195; Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 182 f.
  62. See Fuhrmann, p. 185.
  63. 8, 2 f.
  64. […] desperantes de re publica exhortabantur […], cum inter triginta dominos liber incederet. ( De tranquillitate animi V 2).
  65. On Peace of Mind V 2-4; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th ed. 1993, 2nd vol., p. 127 f.
  66. ^ Gregor Maurach, introduction . In: ders. (Ed.), Seneca als Philosopher , (= Ways of Research, Vol. CCCCXIV), Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1975, p. 8.
  67. Ulrich Gotter: The tyrant with his back to the wall. Nero's artistic self-expansion . In: Albrecht Koschorke (ed.), Despoten poetry. Language art and violence , KUP, Konstanz 2011, pp. 27–64, here: p. 60.
  68. See .
  69. According to Cassius Dio (62.2), this was one of the reasons for the revolt of the Boudicca 60-61.
  70. Tacitus, Annals 13:42. Quoted in Fuhrmann, p. 231.
  71. De vita beata XXIII 1.
  72. Richard Mellein, De vita beata , in: Kindler literature encyclopedia , Kindler Verlag, Zurich 1964, p 2613. The classicist Vasily Rudich concludes that Seneca in this document does not the pursuit of intellectual clarify the tension between verba and acta , was guided by “words” and “deeds”, but was guided by his self-interest. He also objects that Seneca limited the investigation to ethics, ignoring the psychological and political implications. Therefore, an impartial statement was impossible for him. (Vasily Rudich, Dissidence and Literature Under Nero. The Price of Rhetoricization , Routledge, 1997, pp. 88-96)
  73. Cf. Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Kaiser Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, pp. 183, 252, 307 f .; Sørensen, p. 172.
  74. Louis Lewin, The Poisons in World History. Toxicological, generally understandable studies of historical sources , J. Springer, Berlin 1920, p. 195 f; cf., also on the following, Fuhrmann, p. 243 ff.
  75. See Sørensen, p. 172.
  76. For details on the events surrounding Seneca's dismissal: Fuhrmann, p. 266 ff .; see. Giebel, p. 101 ff.
  77. About leisure I 4; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th ed. 1993, 2nd vol., p. 83.
  78. ^ De otio II 1-III 3.
  79. De otio IV 2.
  80. […] Solemus dicere summum bonum esse secundum naturam uiuere: natura nos ad utrumque genuit, et contemplationi rerum et actioni. (De otio IV 2).
  81. Seneca: Philosophische Schriften, four volumes, Leipzig 1923–1924, here: Vol. IV, p. VII.
  82. Fuhrmann, p. 315.
  83. On Charities VII, 19, 7; quoted n. Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 314.
  84. Ernst Benz: The problem of death in the stoic philosophy , Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 1929, p. 87 fu ö.
  85. Epistulae morales 26, 10.
  86. Epistulae morales 54, 1 f.
  87. Epistulae morales 54, 7.
  88. Otto Apelt in the introduction to Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, p. VI.
  89. Letters to Lucilius 61, 2; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, p. 220.
  90. Letters to Lucilius 70, 4 f .; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, p. 264.
  91. Epistulae morales 70, 14.
  92. Epistulae morales 70, 11.
  93. Letters to Lucilius 70, 11-12; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, p. 266 f.
  94. Letters to Lucilius 4, 7 f .; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, p. 8.
  95. ^ Tacitus, Annals XV 60–64.
  96. ^ A. Ronconi, Exitus Illustrium Virorum, in: Reallexikon für Antike und Christianentum , Verlag Anton Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1996, p. 1259 f .: Manuel Vogel: Commentatio mortis. 2 Cor 5: 1–10 on the background of ancient ars moriendi. Göttingen 2006, pp. 113–116.
  97. So Maurach introduced his depiction of Seneca with the question - which was intended rather rhetorically -: “Was Seneca a philosopher?” Cf. Maurach 2005, p. 1.
  98. ^ Ulrich Huttner:  Seneca. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 9, Bautz, Herzberg 1995, ISBN 3-88309-058-1 , Sp. 1383-1385. On the ancient division of philosophy into philosophia naturalis ( physics ), philosophia rationalis ( logic ) and philosophia moralis ( ethics ) s. Epistulae morales 89.4 ff .; Heinrich Niehues-Pröbsting: The ancient philosophy. Scripture, school, way of life. Frankfurt am Main 2004, p. 135
  99. Epistulae morales 64, 7 f.
  100. Epistulae morales 90, 1-3.
  101. Epistulae morales 16, 5.
  102. Letters to Lucilius 16: 3. In: Seneca-Brevier p. 29.
  103. Epistulae morales 76, 1-4.
  104. Epistulae morales 106.12
  105. ^ De constantia I, 1.
  106. […] summum bonum esse animi concordiam. ( De vita beata VIII 6).
  107. Letters to Lucilius 66:12. In: Seneca-Brevier, p. 238.
  108. De ira III, XLIII, 1 f.
  109. Epistulae morales 33, 11.
  110. Epistulae morales 71, 4/8.
  111. Epistulae ad Lucillium 45.9; quoted n. Ursula Blank-Sangmeister: Seneca-Breviary. Stuttgart 1996 p. 244.
  112. Epistulae morales 48, 3.
  113. On Peace of Mind XVII 3; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 4th ed. 1993, 2nd vol., p. 167 ff.
  114. De beneficiis 2.28.1; quoted n. U. Blank-Sangmeister: Seneca-Breviary . Stuttgart 1996, p. 67.
  115. Epistulae morales 44, 4 f.
  116. Epistulae morales 29, 1
  117. Epistulae morales 29, 4
  118. Letters to Lucilius 81, 2; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, Hamburg 1993, p. 346 f.
  119. Epistulae morales 81, 19.
  120. On Mildness, 2 / III and IV; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.), 4th ed. 1993, 5th vol., p. 21 ff.
  121. On the steadfastness of the sage 7, 2.
  122. a b Epistulae morales 90, 3 f.
  123. Epistulae morales 90, 46.
  124. a b Epistulae morales 90, 5 f.
  125. Letters to Lucilius 73, 1
  126. Letters to Lucilius 73, 2; together with the immediately preceding quotation in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, Hamburg 1993, p. 288 f.
  127. ^ De tranquillitate animi IV 6.
  128. De tranquilitate animi 4; quoted n. Ursula Blank-Sangmeister: Seneca-Breviary. Stuttgart 1996 p. 112.
  129. a b Sørensen, p. 11.
  130. On Wrath I, XV 2 .; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 5th edition 1995, 1st volume, p. 129.
  131. On the imperturbability of the sage XIV 1; quoted n. Apelt (ed.) 1993, 1st volume, p. 50 f.
  132. On Wrath I, XX 3 .; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 5th edition 1995, 1st volume, p. 143.
  133. consolation to Marcia XVI 1; quoted n. Apelt (Hrsg.) 1993, 1st vol., p. 228. The Latin text: “Quis autem dixerit naturam maligne cum mulierum ingeniis egisse ut virtutes illarum in artum retraxisse? Par illis, mihi crede, vigor, par ad honesta, dum libeat, facultas est; dolorem laboremque ex aequo, si consuevere, patiuntur. “Consolation to Marcia XVI 1; quoted n. Rosenbach (Ed.) 1999, 1st vol., p. 354
  134. Consolation to mother Helvia XVII 4; quoted n. Apelt (Ed.) 1993, 2nd vol.
  135. Epistulae morales 47, 11 ff.
  136. See Keith Bradley: Slavery and Society at Rome. Cambridge 1994, pp. 132-145.
  137. Epistulae morales 85, 28.
  138. Epistulae morales 85, 2.
  139. Epistulae morales 71, 27.
  140. Letters to Lucilius 71, 36; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, Hamburg 1993, p. 283.
  141. Epistulae morales 29, 10.
  142. Epistulae morales 29, 11 f.
  143. Epistulae morales 22, 10.
  144. Epistulae morales 41, 2 and 5.
  145. Epistulae morales 53, 11 f.
  146. Cf. Fuhrmann, p. 318 f .: "Basically Seneca was as reluctant to make a decision as Cicero."
  147. Letters to Lucilius 65:24; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. III, Hamburg 1993, p. 237.
  148. Epistulae morales 70, 15.
  149. Änne Bäumer: The human beast. Seneca's theory of aggression, its philosophical preliminary stages and its literary effects. Frankfurt a. M. and Bern 1982, p. 15.
  150. See Maurach 2005, pp. 1 and 198.
  151. Änne Bäumer: The human beast. Seneca's theory of aggression, its philosophical preliminary stages and its literary effects. Frankfurt am Main u. a. 1982, p. 15 and P. 218.
  152. Compare to: Karlheinz Trabert: Studies on the representation of the pathological in the tragedies of Seneca. Ansbach 1954, p. 15.
  153. Fuhrmann, pp. 183, 252, 307 f .; Sørensen, p. 172; Rolando Ferri (Ed.): Octavia. A play attributed to Seneca . Ed. with introd. and commentary. Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge 2003.
  154. ^ Augustin Speyer: Communication structures in Seneca's dramas. A pragmatic-linguistic analysis with statistical evaluation as the basis for new approaches to interpretation. Göttingen 2003, p. 302.
  155. See Hubert Cancik , in: Manfred Fuhrmann (Ed.), Römische Literatur , Frankfurt a. M. 1974, pp. 251-260; E. Lefevère, in: Rise and Decline of the Roman World II 32.2 (1985), pp. 1242-1262.
  156. AFC Rose, in: Classical Outlook 60 (1983), pp. 109-111.
  157. For a discussion of the dating of the tragedies see: Stefanie Grewe, The political meaning of the Senecatragedies. Würzburg 2001, p. 8 f.
  158. ^ Fuhrmann, p. 222.
  159. ^ Otto Zwierlein : The recitation dramas Seneca , Meisenheim 1966; D. Sutton, Seneca on the Stage. Leiden 1986; Christoph Kugelmeier : The inner visualization of the stage play in Seneca's tragedies. Munich 2007; Overview of the older research discussion by J. Fitch, in: G. Harrison (Ed.), Seneca in Performance , London 2000, pp. 1–12.
  160. ^ Durs Grünbein : Seneca. Thyestes (German translation), Frankfurt am Main 2002.
  161. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 129 f.
  162. Quintilian, Institutio oratoria 10,1,125-131, here: 129.
  163. Giebel, p. 127.
  164. Maurach 2005, p. 188.
  165. Maurach 2005, p. 190.
  166. Epistulae morales 100, 7.
  167. Epistulae morales 40, 4.
  168. Letters to Lucilius 114, 2 f .; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. IV, Hamburg 1993, p. 273. In Letter 115, 2 it says: “You know the young fashion monkeys, with shiny beards and hair, as if they were taken from the jewelry box: nothing man-like, nothing dignified You expect from them. The speech reflects the state of soul formation ”(Letters to Lucilius 115, 2 f .; in Seneca, Philosophische Schriften, Vol. IV, Hamburg 1993, p. 283).
  169. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 335 f.
  170. ^ Manfred Fuhrmann: Seneca and Emperor Nero. A biography. Berlin 1997, p. 337.
  171. Maurach 2005, p. 225: “A detailed account of Seneca has not yet been written […]; Such a presentation would have to go far and reveal the intellectual historical reasons for the respective after-effects, which requires extensive studies. "
  172. Dante, Divine Comedy 4,141
  173. ^ Dante Alighieri, La Divina Commedia, Commentata da A. Momigliano . Sansoni Firenze 1951. p. 35: "[…] nel medioevo si credeva che fossero esistiti un Seneca autore delle tragedie e uno autore delle opere filosofiche."
  174. See Giebel, p. 128 ff.
  175. Sørensen, p. 289 f.
  176. Ludwig Friedländer: The philosopher Seneca (1900). In: Maurach (Ed.), 2nd ed. 1987, p. 126 f.
  177. Ludwig Friedländer: The philosopher Seneca (1900). In: Maurach (Ed.), 2nd ed. 1987, p. 124.
  178. See Sørensen, p. 290; Gable, p. 132.
  179. ^ Friedrich Nietzsche: The happy science. Leipzig 1887, Seneca et hoc genus omne, Vorspiel, 34, p. 12 ( Seneca et hoc genus omne  - Internet Archive and Digital Critical Complete Edition ). Quoted from Christoph Horn, Antike Lebenskunst. Happiness and morals from Socrates to the Neoplatonists. Munich 1998, p. 46.
  180. Sørensen, p. 300.
  181. Review. In: Der Spiegel , January 17, 2015
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on June 16, 2007 in this version .