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Other titles in the Penguin Classics series:
Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales Ad Lucilium (Penguin Classics)by Seneca
Synopses & Reviews
The Roman statesman and philosopher Seneca (4 BCE–65 CE) made innovative use of the letter format to record both his moral philosophy and his personal experiences. In Letters on Ethics, rich descriptions of city and country life in Nero’s Italy mix with discussions of Roman poetry and oratory and with personal advice to Seneca’s friend Lucilius. The first complete English translation of this work in nearly a century, Letters on Ethics presents Seneca’s fascinating reflections on daily life, education, and philosophical thought at Rome and elucidates these topics for modern readers.
Written as much for a general audience as for Lucilius, these engaging letters offer advice on how to deal with everything from nosy neighbors to sickness, pain, and death. Above all, Seneca uses the relaxed form of the letter to introduce many major issues in Stoicism, for centuries the most influential philosophical system in the Mediterranean world. His lively and at times humorous explanations have made the Letters his most popular work and an enduring classic. Featuring an astute introduction and explanatory notes, this new edition by Margaret Graver and A. A. Long resituates the Letters on Ethics in the front ranks of world literature.
In this volume we find Seneca at his best, and over the centuries countless readers have found his letters on ethics edifying. They range in subject from how to live a Stoic life and retain one's humanity in a cold, impersonal society to why slavery is wrong to the foibles of debauchery. Seneca makes his cases in a sensible, even witty, fashion, usually without a censorious tone. This may well prove the most important volume in the series.
A new series of beautiful hardcover nonfiction classics, with covers designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith
World-changing ideas meet eye-catching design: the best titles of the extraordinarily successful Great Ideas series are now packaged in Coralie Bickford-Smiths distinctive, award-winning covers. Whether on a well-curated shelf or in your back pocket, these timeless works of philosophical, political, and psychological thought are absolute musthaves for book collectors as well as design enthusiasts.
About the Author
Lucius Annaeus Seneca, statesman, philosopher, advocate and man of letters, was born at Cordoba in Spain around 4 BCE. He rose to prominence in Rome, pursuing a career in the courts and political life, for which he had been trained, while also acquiring celebrity as an author of tragedies and essays. Falling foul of successive emperors (Caligula in 39 CE and Claudius in 41 CE), he spent eight years in exile, allegedly for an affair with Caligulas sister. Recalled in 49 CE, he was made praetor and was appointed tutor to the boy who was to become, in 54 CE, the emperor Nero. On Neros succession, Seneca acted for some eight years as an unofficial chief minister. The early part of this reign was remembered as a period of sound government, for which the main credit seems due to Seneca. His control over Nero declined as enemies turned the emperor against him with representations that his popularity made him a danger, or with accusations of immorality or excessive wealth. Retiring from public life he devoted his last three years to philosophy and writing, particularly the Letters to Lucilius. In 65 CE following the discovery of a plot against the emperor, in which he was thought to be implicated, he and many others were compelled by Nero to commit suicide. His fame as an essayist and dramatist lasted until two or three centuries ago, when he passed into literary oblivion, from which the twentieth century has seen a considerable and immensely valuable recovery.
Robin Campbell is a well-known translator.
Table of Contents
Seneca and Philosophy
Seneca and Literature: His letters and other writings; his style; his influence and appeal
Note on translation and text
Appendix: Tactitus' account of Seneca's death
Index of persons and places
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