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Seneca The Elder


  Male      Roman      Writer



About Author

Marcus Annaeus Seneca, known as Seneca the Elder and Seneca the Rhetorician (54 BC – c. 39 AD), was a Roman rhetorician and writer, born of a wealthy equestrian family of Cordoba, Hispania. Seneca lived through the reigns of three significant emperors; Augustus (ruled 27 BC – 14 AD), Tiberius (ruled 14 AD – 37 AD) and Caligula (ruled 37 AD – 41 AD). He was the father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger (Lucius) who was tutor of Nero.

Seneca the Elder is the first of the gens Annaea of whom there is definite knowledge. His praenomen is uncertain, but in any case Marcus is an arbitrary conjecture of Raphael of Volterra. During a lengthy stay on two occasions at Rome, Seneca attended the lectures of famous orators and rhetoricians, to prepare for an official career as an advocate. His 'ideal' orator was Cicero, and Seneca disapproved of the florid tendencies of the oratory of his time. A passage in Controversiae expresses a critique of the Asiatic style of Arellius Fuscus, calling "his ornament too contrived, his word arrangement more effeminate than could be tolerated by a mind in training for such chaste and rigorous precepts" (2 pr. 1). Yet Seneca's own writing for fictitious speakers and situations aims above all at a striking effect on the audience and is characterized by "mannerism", "exaggerated use of the colores" and "use of a brilliant, precious style, one that has recourse to all the artifices of Asianism, from the accumulation of the rhetorical figures to densely epigrammatic expression to care over the rhythm of the period."

During the civil wars, his sympathies, like those of his native place, were probably with Pompey. By his wife Helvia of Corduba, he had three sons: the eldest was Lucius Annaeus Novatus - later known as Lucius Iunius Gallio Annaeanus - who was a Roman politician and rhetorician; the middle was Seneca the Younger, the tutor of the Emperor Nero and a Stoic philosopher; and the youngest was Marcus Annaeus Mela, a philosopher, who was the father of the poet Lucan...


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