Seneca - Roman Philosophy - Stoicism answers questions


Lucius Annaeus Seneca was one of the great writers of the Julio-Claudian period in Rome. He was born in the Roman province of Spain about 3 BC. But his aunt took him to Rome during the reign of the emperor Claudius, so Seneca could get a good education. Seneca's father was a well-known teacher in Rome, so people called him Seneca the Older (Seneca Maior) and Lucius got called Seneca the Younger (Seneca Minor).

When he grew up, Seneca the Younger became the teacher of Nero, when Nero was a little boy (little sons of the emperor didn't go to school; they were homeschooled with private teachers of their own). When Nero grew up, though, he didn't like having his old teacher still hanging around telling him what to do. In the end he made Seneca kill himself. Seneca got in a warm bath and slashed open his own wrists and bled to death, with his friends around him, discussing philosophy.

In addition to being Nero's teacher, Seneca was also a famous philosopher and writer. He wrote Latin versions of many Greek plays, including for instance the stories of Medea and Phaedra. But he is best known for his Latin versions of Stoic philosophy. Seneca's Stoicism took the form of saying that the reason the Roman Republic had collapsed was that people indulged in too much pleasure, and too much politics, and they failed to keep a peaceful and serene mind. You can see from this that he probably did not like Nero's parties much!

Learn by doing: how might Stoicism change your life?
More about Nero
More about the Stoics

Bibliography and further reading about Seneca and Stoicism:

More Roman philosophy
More Roman literature
Ancient Rome home

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support! (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

For the US election, check out' page on the Constitution. From the Revolution on, people have fought for the right to vote. In the 1800s, Andrew Jackson got poor white men the vote; the Civil War and Lincoln brought the vote to African-American men. In the 1900s, women got the vote, and Martin Luther King Jr. fought to force white people to actually let black people vote.