Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the Younger (Corduba – present Cordoba–, 4 BC – Rome, year 65) was a major figure of culture and politics in the Roman Empire during the mandates of four emperors, that is, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius and Nero.
His great influence as a philosopher, intellectual and orator earned him prestige, but also enemies, especially in the political field. Changes of government marked his personal life and the place of residence, because sometimes he fell into disgrace before the emperor.
So, being a quaestor in Rome and known for his brilliant dialectic, Caesar ordered his execution out of jealousy. He managed to escape from death thanks to the emperor being convinced on Seneca’s weak health. Years later, a similar situation led him into exile in Corsica, where he remained for eight years until he was called back in Rome, being appointed a praetor and the tutor of Nero. In this context, he ruled de facto for a long time, until the intrigues led to his retirement from public life. Seneca was devoted to travel and continued writing. However, his reputation continued causing him grudges and he was continually pointed to lack of loyalty to the governors. Knowing they were to kill him, and after overcoming an attempted poisoning, Seneca commited suicide by cutting his veins and taking hemlock; to his dismay, it did not wotk out, so he dipped in hot water and, curiously, the steam choked him, because he suffered from asthma.
Seneca is the epitome of Roman Stoicism. He advocated a return to basics so as to fight the loss of values due to interest in the material and unethical. His work has notoriously influenced the humanist authors, as it focuses on how to find happiness in simplicity and from our inner selves, away from all superstition.
His writings appear as moral dialogues, letters, tragedies and epigrams, and his comments are a seminal type of essay, a great reference for Montaigne, the creator of this genre in its modern version. We can highlight ‘To Helvia, On Consolation’, ‘On Anger’, ‘On the Happy Life’, ‘On Providence’ or tragedies like ‘Hercules on Oeta’. Here you are a few sentences on his thought:
The biggest obstacle in life is waiting for the morning and loss today.
What you think about yourself is much more important than what others think of you.
It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.
The language of truth should be, without a doubt, simple and without artifice.
Long is the way of teaching through theories; shortest and effective by examples.
Sadness, although it is always justified, it is often just laziness. Nothing requires less effort than to be sad.
Nature has given us the seeds of knowledge, not knowledge itself.
So great is the pleasure experienced in finding a grateful man that it is worth risking doing a thankless.
Say what we feel, feel what we say, match the words with the mind.
It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.
The most powerful man is the one who is master of himself.
The wishes of our life form a chain whose links are hope.
If you wish to be loved, just love.
I wish you a very happy week,