Seneca: biography of the famous Stoic philosopher

Lucio Anneo Seneca is one of the most representative philosophers of the school of Stoicism, Especially from its later stage of development. He was one of the most important figures in philosophy under the Roman Empire and is repeated to this day in the studies of Greek philosophy and contemporary ethics.

Although it is not an autobiographical writing, throughout his work, Sénèque maintains a strong link between his daily experiences and the philosophical reflections they evoke. The above has survived to the present day thanks to the written documents that Seneca himself made.

In this article you will find a biography of Lucio Anneo Seneca as well as some of the main features of his work.

    Lucio Anneo Seneca: biography of a Stoic philosopher

    Lucio Anneo Seneca was born in Cordoba, Spain approximately in the year 4 a, Expanding the Roman Empire in the province of Hispania. He came from a distinguished family and high society.

    His father, Marc Anneu Seneca, was a Roman orator and writer who conducted important studies on the history of the oratory. Many of his works have been attributed to Lucius Anneus in the Middle Ages, a time when Seneca’s son was widely recognized. To differentiate himself, Seneca the Orator or Seneca the Elder was called to him.

    Seneca the Younger’s life has gone through different moments that have allowed him to reflect deeply on emotions, ambition, the healing power of philosophy and death, among other topics. In fact, much of his writing is often interpreted in the light of his biography. She studied rhetoric and philosophy in Rome and her career is known to be successful, somewhat dramatic and also political.

    For example, he was accused of adultery and exiled to Corsica. He was also one of Emperor Nero’s advisers at politically complicated times and was ultimately charged with complicity in the Pisonian plot to assassinate Nero. For this reason, he was forced to commit suicide in Rome in 65.

    Stoicism and the writings of Seneca

    Stoicism is a philosophical school founded by Zeno of Cition and is based on the mastery of passions and a life based on the search for happiness. by reasoning. During the imperial period, this school had a great influence in literary works.

    Especially the tragedies of Seneca, of an important philosophical content, were of great relevance. Likewise, Seneca is considered both a philosopher and a poet. Although this differentiation has been a controversial issue among scholars.

    In the past, in fact, it was thought that there had been “two Senecas”: a philosopher and a tragic (or poet). Today, it is accepted that Seneca’s interest in ethics and psychology (especially the destructive effects of excessive emotionality) is present throughout his literary work, both in verse and prose. .

    In any case, his tragedies are recognized as darker writings than those performed in prose. This is the case, for example, with the subject of death, who in his prose writings appears as a liberation; in fact, he justified suicide as an ethical way of dying. However, in tragedies, death is often presented as the transition to great suffering.

    Seneca agreed with a psychological monism, inasmuch as it does not distinguish between a rational or an irrational component of the soul (like the earlier Stoics either). For these, knowledge is based on action, there is no distinction between a practical reason and a theoretical reason. In this sense, theorizing and reflecting on the ethical and moral aspects of daily life is a way to produce knowledge, to achieve happiness and virtue.

    subsequent influence

    Some of Seneca’s stoicism is recognized as one of the most important antecedents of modern concerns about shaping ourselves and our lives. On the one hand, Seneca’s work emphasizes the previous Stoic philosophy and adds some details to it. On the other hand, his work is characterized by the absence of technicality and to emphasize the therapeutic properties and practical qualities of philosophy.

    He defended the idea of ​​the equality of men and of a way of life based on moderation. The latter represented the path to happiness and was to be accompanied by a rejection of superstitions. This part of his work was taken up in an important way by the currents of the Renaissance and by various philosophical schools of modernity.

    representative works

    In his writings he tackles some questions related to moral issues in everyday life. Among the most notable works are, for example, Letters to Licilius, The Moral Letters, The Moral Essays, The Ambrosian Codex and The Natural Questions. Along with La Consolation à sa mother Helvia and La Consolation à Polybius, La Consolation de Marcia is the oldest work known to date.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Vogt, K. (2015). Seneca. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Accessed August 13, 2018.Available at

    Leave a Comment