Black and white image of Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca the Younger.

Seneca the Younger

(4 BC - 65)

Seneca the Younger led a tumultuous life in politics: the emperor Caligula desired to kill the “mere textbook orator,” and Caligula’s successor, Claudius, exiled him to Corsica in 41. Recalled to Rome in 49, he was made the tutor of Nero, whom he later served as an imperial political adviser. In 65 Nero demanded that Seneca commit suicide for purported involvement in a conspiracy. “After murdering his mother and brother,” Seneca announced, “it only remained for him to kill his teacher and tutor.” He slit his veins, dictated a dissertation, drank hemlock, and died in a vapor bath.

All Writing


“For me,” the Roman philosopher Seneca recalled a friend saying, “the talk of ignorant men is like the rumblings that issue from the belly. For what difference does it make to me whether such rumblings come from above or from below?”

Voices In Time

58 | Rome

Soul Asylum

Seneca asks, “What is the happy life?”More


Seneca the Younger tells of Hostius Quadra, who installed mirrors in his bedroom to reflect distorted images. “He relished the exaggerated endowment of his own organ as much as if it were real,” Seneca complained. Quadra confirmed: “If I could,” he said, “I’d have that size in the flesh; since I can’t, I’ll feast on the fantasy.”

To hold a throne is luck; to bestow it, virtue.

—Seneca the Younger, c. 45

Voices In Time

c. 65 | Rome

Superfluous Torment

“It is likely that some troubles will befall us, but it is not a present fact.”More

Voices In Time

c. 60 | Rome

Benefits Plan

“Where other men give cups, you give cities.”More

There is no crime without precedent. 

—Seneca the Younger, c. 60

Voices In Time

c. 63 | Rome

Hither and Yon

Seneca advises that you change your soul not your climate.More

A great step toward independence is a good-humored stomach, one that is willing to endure rough treatment.

—Seneca the Younger, c. 60

A bull contents himself with one meadow, and one forest is enough for a thousand elephants; but the little body of a man devours more than all other living creatures.

—Seneca the Younger, c. 64

The young man must store up, the old man must use.

—Seneca the Younger, c. 63

Issues Contributed