The Morals of Seneca: Selections of its prose Free PDF book (1888)

The Morals of Seneca: Selections of its prose Free PDF book Translated by Roger L'Estrange

This book contains a collection of best Seneca Letters 
The Morals of Seneca

Excerpt from the introduction:
LUCIUS  SENECA was the second three sons born lo Marcus Annaeus Seneca, a native of Spain, rich, and of equestrian rank, by his wife Helvia, a Spanish lady. The date of bis birth is assij^ned to the year n.C. 3, when Corduba, the modern Cordova, where he was born, and where his father then lived as a professor of rhetoric.

While Lucius was still an infant he was sent to Rome and placed under the care of his mother’s sister; subsequently, his fattier followed with the rest of his family, and so prospered that at his death, about A.D. 37, he left his family in possession of ample means. Lucius, though of a feeble constitution, early applied himself, under his father, to the study of rhetoric, and under Papirius Fabianus, Attains, and Sotion the Stoic to philosophy.

His own strong inclination was towards philosophy, which he embraced with great ardor, and practiced the regimen of Stoicism with the greatest austerity, even to abandon the use of animal food from a belief in the doctrine of transmigration of souls; but in deference to his father’s wishes he renounced this mode of life, and turned to the bar, where he rapidly gained reputation as an advocate by his independence and brilliant eloquence, insomuch that Caligula the emperor, jealous of his own reputation as an orator, and displeased with the freedom with which he handled a cause before him, formed designs upon Seneca’s life, but was persuaded to forego them on being assured by one of his mistresses


that disease would soon carry off so sickly a subject. However, the situation was such that Seneca was forced to retire from the bar, but he found solace in the renewal of his philosophic studies, to which he devoted himself afresh with his characteristic ardor and energy. He had previously been elected quaestor, but in a.D. 41, the first year of the reign of the next emperor, Claudius, Seneca’s career was again thwarted. It is difficult to follow the intricacies of the social and political machinations which led to this result, but the main facts appear to be as follows: — Mcssifiina, the notorious wife of Claudius, a woman whose character even in a dissolute age was regarded as infamous, jealous of the influence which the emperor’s niece Julia, whom he had but recently recalled from banishment, exercised over him, persuaded Claudius to banish her a second time.


Seneca was a friend of Julia; whether the friendship had degenerated into an intrigue, or whether Seneca had made himself too zealous on Julia’s behalf, it is certain that the graver charge was preferred against him by Messalina. She succeeded in obtaining a decree of banishment against him also, and he remained eight years an exile on the island of Corsica. Two works can be traced to this period, both entitled ‘‘ On Consolation,” one addressed to his mother Helvia; the other to Polybius, the reigning palace favorite, containing a good deal of unworthy adulation of Claudius, composed, no doubt, for the royal ear, in the hope of obtaining a reversal of his sentence. These two works have, besides, a certain biographical interest, since we learn from them that Seneca, who was married, though to whom is unknown, at the date of his treatise “ On Anger,” was now a widower with a family of one son, Marcus, and one daughter, Novatilla, having lost a second son a few days before setting out for Corsica.





Author: Seneca
Editor: Walter Clode
Publication Date:1888

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