The Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium (Latin for "Moral Letters to Lucilius"), also known as the Moral Epistles and Letters from a Stoic, is a collection of 124 letters that Seneca the Younger wrote at the end of his life, during his retirement, after he had worked for the Emperor Nero for more than ten years. They are addressed to Lucilius Junior, the then procurator of Sicily, who is known only through Seneca's writings. Regardless of how Seneca and Lucilius actually corresponded, it is clear that Seneca crafted the letters with a broad readership in mind.
The letters all start with the phrase "Seneca Lucilio suo salutem" ("Seneca greets his Lucilius") and end with the word "Vale" ("Farewell"). In these letters, Seneca gives Lucilius advice on how to become a more devoted Stoic. Some of the letters include "On Noise" and "Asthma". Others include letters on "the influence of the masses" and "how to deal with one's slaves". Although they deal with Seneca's personal style of Stoic philosophy, they also give us valuable insights into daily life in ancient Rome.
There is a general tendency throughout the letters to open proceedings with an observation of a specific (and usually rather minor) incident, which then digresses to a far wider exploration of an issue or principle that is abstracted from it. In one letter (letter 7), for instance, Seneca begins by discussing a chance visit to an arena where a gladiatorial combat to the death is being held; Seneca then questions the morality and ethics of such a spectacle, in what is the first record (to our current knowledge) of a pre-Christian writer bringing up such a debate on that particular matter.
Seneca frequently quotes Latin poets, especially Virgil, but also Ovid, Horace, and Lucretius. Seneca also quotes Publilius Syrus, such as during the eighth letter, "On the Philosopher's Seclusion".
- Moral Letters, Vol. I by Seneca
- Moral Letters, Vol. II by Seneca
Published In65 AD
Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger usually known as Seneca, was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work, satirist, from the post-Augustan age of Latin literature. Seneca...More about Seneca
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