Seneca - Moral and Political Essays (Cambridge, 1995).pdf - CAMBRIDGE TEXTS IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT SENECA Moral and Political Essays The

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Unformatted text preview: CAMBRIDGE TEXTS IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT SENECA Moral and Political Essays The writings of Lucius Annaeus Seneca, tutor and political advbor to the young emperor Nero, are among our most important sources for Stoic philosophy. This volume offers, in clear and forceful contemporary translations, four of Seneca'� most interesting 'Moral Essays': Private Lift and the first four On Anger, On Merry, On the books of On Fm.!ours. They provide an attractive insight into the social and moral oudook of a Stoic thinker at the centre of power in the Roman empire of the mid first century AD. A General Introduction on Sene­ ca's life and work explains the fundamental ideas in the philos­ ophy that informs the essays. Individual introductions place the works in their specific historical and intellectual contexts. Biographical Notes, based on up-to-date scholarship, provide the infonnation necessary for a full understanding of the texts. To assist the student further, section headings have been insened into the translations to mark the principal transitions in the argument and reveal the organization of these writings. CAMBRIDGE TEXTS IN THE HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT Sen'es editors RAYMOND GEUSS Lecturer m Philosophy, UniverSity of Camhn'dge Quo/TIS SK!SNER Regius Professor ofModern History in the University o( Cambridge Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought is now firmly established as the major student textbook series in political thoory. It aims to make available to students all the most important texts in the history of western political thought, from ancient Greece to the early twentieth century. All the familiar classic texts will be included, but the series seeks at the same time to enlarge the conventional canon by incorporating an extensive range of less well-known works, many of them never before available in a modern English edition. Wherever possible, texts are published in complete and unabridged form, and translations are specially commissioned for the Series. Each volume contains a critical introduction together with chronologies, biographical sketches, a guide to further reading and any necessary glossaries and textual apparatus. When completed the series will aim to offer an out­ line of the entire evolution of western political thought. For a list of titles published in 1he series, please sa end of hook Contents Editors' notes General Introduction Synopsis Lilt ofAbbreviations On On On On page viii � ""'" =ix Anger Mercy the Private Life Favours Biographical notes bukx J09 3'4 Editors' Notes The initial work on this volume was divided as follows. The General Imroduo.:tion (apart from the pages on 'Style and Composition'), the Special Introductions and the notes to On the Private Life and On Fa..Jours were first drafted by J M. Cooper. The translations (with the addition of section headings to clarif}· the course of Seneca's argument), the Biographical Notes and the annotations to On Anger and On Merry began as the work of J. F. ProcopC. But each author has re\ised and amplified the work of the other 10 the point where neither can be held solely responsible, or escape responsibility, for any part of the book. Numerous debts have to be acknowledged. J. M. Cooper would like to thank Kathleen ,\luch, Alexander Nehamas and J B. Schneev.ind. J. F. ProcopC would like to thank Robert Coleman, John Crook, Richard Duncan-Jones, Brad Inwood, Caroline ,\1oore, Michad Ree,e, Malcolm Schofield and Edward Shils. J. M. Cooper would also like to acknowledge the hospitality of the Center for Ad,;anccd Study in the Beha,·ioural Sciences and the financial support, while he was a Fellow there, of the Andrew lV!l. Mellon Foundation. Note on the text The manuscript transmission of the works in this volume is varied. For a good summary, see L D. Re}nolds ed., Texts and Trans­ mission: A Survey riflhe l.alin ClassifS (Oxford 1983), pp. 363-9. Our principal manuscript fur On Anger and the other Dialogi is the Editors' Notes -·-·-- ------ Ambro.1iana (A), written at 1\Iontecassino near Naples between AD 1058 and w87 and preserved in the Ambrosian Library in .\ti!an; lOr (1\;) On .Merry and On Fm'rmrs lhe main tcJ-.1 is the mdex written in north Italy around Library. The trammission of than that AU .Vo:;an(mus 8oo and now in the Vatican On .-\.Jerry has been notably worse of the oilier essays translated here. Except where stated in dJe footnotes, our tran�lutions of On On the Pn"vate Liji: are of the text in Se•1aa.- IJiaf,gi, ed. L. D. Reynolds (Oxford 1977). Those of On Mm)' and On Fm.'ours follow that of C. Hosius' Teubner edition (Leipzig Jl)q), reprinted Anger and by J. \V. Basore in his Loeb Classical Librarv edition of Senna: t'Y1oral Essays 1 (1928) and IJT (i!;JJj), and arc indebted further to the BudC editions of F. PrCchat: (SinhJUe: De Ia ct.fmrnce �rd edn (Paris 1967), and Sin(qu e: Des hicnfilits 3rd edn (Paris HJ72)). These modem editions rest on the work of numerous earlier scholars, from Erasmus onwards, some of whose readings and comments are mentioned in our fOotnotes. For the most part, a variant reading will simply be attributed to its author (e.g. Cironovius, Vahlen, Gertz, Koch, Sonntag, Kronenberg) "ithout further reference.'>. Special mention should, however, be made here to three st:ho!ars whose work will be cited repeatedly: W. H. Alexander (Seneca's De Bnujiciis Libri HI (University of California Press, Cia�sit:al Philology 1950), a monograph which continues dJe work of two earlier articles, 'Notes on the De Quarter{)' 28 (1934) pp. 54 hmefiai"s of Senet:a' (Classical f.) and 'Further Notes on the TcJ-.1 of Seneca's De benejiciis' (Classical Quarterly 31 (1937) pp. 55-9;. Cahin ('Cahin's commentary on Seneca's De Clementia', with Introduction, Translation and Notes by F. L. Banles and A. M. Hugo (Leiden 1969)); and]. Lipsius (cited from L. Annaei Senecae opera q�UJC extant, integris ]usti Lipsii, J. Fred. Gronrn·ii, et selectis Variornm Commentariis i/fustrata (Amsterdam 1672)). General introduction Seneca: life, public career and authorship Seneca is the principal ancient proponent in Latin of Stoic philos­ ophy. His suniving Moral Essays, the more political of which have been selened for this volume, are the most important body of more or less complete Stoic writings to survive from antiquity. He was born Lucius Annaeus Seneca between about 4 and I BC in southern Spain, at Corduba (modem Cordoba), a leading provincial centre of Roman culture. His parents had also been born in Spain, though their families were of Italian origin. They belonged to the equestrian order, a section of the Roman upper class that, unlike the senatorial families, had traditionally avoided political careers in favour of commerce and the pursuit of wealth. Seneca's father, likewise named Lucius Annaeus Seneca, had spent much of his adult life in Rome. As a young man he had interested himself in oratory, attending the disputations and rhetorical exercises of the leading declaimers there. Leaving his wife in charge of his estates in Spain, he later returned to Rome to oversee the education and subsequent careers of his three sons. As we!l as a history of Rome from the civil wars of the mid first century BC down to the 30s AD, which has not sunived and may never have been published, the elder Seneca produced reports and commentaries on the per­ formances he had witnessed in the rhetorical schools of Rome as a youth. Written near the end of his life at his sons' request, these have partly sunived, as the so-called Controvmiae and SU4Soriac. 1 ' Available in the Loeb Classical Library in translations by M. Winterbonom. For more about the elder Seneca's life, see Griffin, pp. zor-H· Genera/Introduction We have little information about the younger Seneca's life until he was well into his thirties. He wa-; brought up and educated in Rome. His father, intending that he, like his older brother Annaeus Novatus, should pur�lll: a political career, put him into contact '.vith the leading practitioners of oratory at Rome. The effects of this training arc much in e\"idcncc in his Essl{)'.\. Philosophical in subject�matter, they are a product in style and composition of Roman rhetoric. But the younger Seneca also received extensive instna.:tion in philosophy, again at Rome; he never went tu Athens to study it. Sewral times in his Jf()ral Letters to Lurilius/ written in the last years of his life, he refers with feeling to his early teachers of philosophy and their profound efTect upon him: Sotion, a Greek from Alexandria, of uncertain philosophical allegiance; Analus, a Stoic perhaps from Pergamum in Asia .'\1inor; and Papir� ius Fabianus, formerly an orator, who had studied in the school of the famous and ''cry Roman philosopher Quintus Scxtius.J Regrettably, Seneca tells us little about what he heard in their lectures or read under their guidance, but it must have been at this time that he formed his life�long attachment to Stoic philosophy and began to acquire the extensive knowledge of Stoic writings that he was to display in his own works. Seneca speaks often in the Letters of his frail health in youth and later on. He seems to have spent some time, in his twenties or early thirties, recuperating from rubercu!osis in Egypt, under the care of his mother's sister (her husband was 'prefect' or admin� istrativc head of the Roman military go\Trnment there). :"Jot till some time after his return from E�n'Pt in the year 3 1 (when he was between thirty-t\vo and thirty�six years old) did he take firm steps towards the political career his father had intended for him. Thanks to his a,���nt's influence, he was appointed to his first magistracy, that of quaestor or financial officer, and was enrolled in the Senate, probably under the emperor Tiberius (who died in 37). By the end of the decade he was well known and highly regarded at Rome as an orator. Tiberius' successor, Caligula (emperor from 37 to 41), is reported by Suetonius (Life of Caligula 1 3 See especially Lmers 100 (on Papiriu� Fabianus) and 108 (on Sotion and Attalus). Seneca wa> deep!)" impres;ed b} Seuius' writing:s which were in Greek (l>e know almost nothing about them), describing him as in effe<:t a Swic, though he says Sntms hnmelf demed it (Len•r 64. 2). "' General Introduction ------- ··--- 53) to haYc been oflended by his successes, so much so that, accordin!! to a somewhat improbable story told by the third-century historian Dio Cassius, only Seneca's tubercular condition saved him from a death-sentence. (He was going to die soon anyway, it was said.) \Vc have unfortunately no evidence about Seneca's literary or philosophical work before or at this time: with the sole exception of the Consolation to .Harda, all the surviving works seem certainly to date from after Seneca's banishment to Corsica in 4-1.4 In January 41, Caligtlla was murdered. His uncle Claudius ascended the throne. Later that year, probably in the autumn, Seneca was accused of adultery with one of Caligula's sisters, tried before the Senate in the presence of the emperor, convicted and acrually sentenced to death. The emperor spared his life, banishing him instead to the dismal island of Corsica,' where he languished for eight years. In 49, Claudius married Caligula's only surviving sister, Agrippina, who promptly arranged to have Seneca recalled and even appointed to a praetorship, the office immediate!)' below that of consul. He was then between fifty and fifty-four years old. According to the historian Tacitus (Annals XII 8), Agrippina thought that Seneca's rehabilitation would have popular appeal, on account of his literary eminence. He was already known as an outstanding orator, poet and writer of philosophical treatises." But Agrippina had other motives. She hoped to insert her nve\ve­ year-old son, the future emperor Nero, into the line of succession above Claudius' own son, Britannieus, who was �everal vears younger. (Her plans came to fruition when, in the following year, Claudius adopted 1\'ero, making him thus his eldest son.) In return ' The precedin!l: rwo paragraphs ar� based, in the main. on the account in Griffin, pp. H-59 an d 397, " hich may be consulted for de tails and documentation. ' In his Col!so�lli<m 10 his Mother Helma (6. ;. 7· 8--1), 9- t), l'rinen to con'!Ole his mother tn her grief for the di sgrace and deprivations of his exile, Seneca describes th.e island as a 'barren and thorny rock' (7. 9), afflicted by a harsh dimate Jnd provided neither with rivers nor harbours by the sea. ' He seems to have devoted his extle hi; Cm!lo!alion Jo h" .Hotha Hdvia, a thtrd consolation, the Consolation to literary pursuits, He claims as much in (1. 2, 20. t-�). In Cor.ica, he also published /o Polyb��<s (a disguised petition to be allowed home), as "ell as writing much. perhaps all, of On Anxer. It ;eems reasonable 10 suppose that his (lost) Life of hts father was also wrinen then, and rhat some of' his poetry (epigrams. concei\·abl_y some of his trag:edies) had appeared b}· the time of hi; recall. So Tacitus' account of _o\g:rippina's motives ha; wmething to be said for it, though he bulk of Seneca's surviving philosophical writing:,; wert: written after his return from exile. • • Xlll General Introduction for her help in arranging his recall, Seneca accepted overall responsibility for Nero's education. Thus began a long and fateful involvement in the imperial household. Seneca's responsibilities as 'tutor' did not include instruction in philosophy: according to Sue­ tonius (Life ofNw 52), Agrippina thought this an unsuitable subject for an intended emperor and forbade its inclusion in the curriculum. Even in later years, when the ban no longer applied, Nero found other instructors in philosophy, and did not turn - at least, not formally - to him for tuition. It was as a teacher of rhetoric that Seneca contributed directly to the prince's formal education. But f r moral instruction and generaJ guidance he was also expected to ofe in practical politics, and here his Stoic outlook would come into prominence. It was in this capacity that, shortly after l\lero's accession to the throne in 54, Seneca addressed to him a Stoic 'mirror of princes', his On Merq. Nero became emperor at the age of not quite seventeen. For a number of years, Seneca was his principal adviser behind the scenes, writing his speeches and exercising influence in imperial appointments.7 He and his ally Burrus, the able and upright prefect of the Pretorian Guard, are given the credit by Tacitus XIII 2 (Annals 4-5) for the decent restraint and efe f ctiveness of the imperial government in the early years of Nero's reign. But Seneca's func­ tions were not formal or official, and it is very difficult to give any detailed account of how the official acts of the emperor reflected his policies or advice. With the death of Agrippina in 59 (she was murdered on Nero's orders), his influence and that of Burrus declined sharply ; it soon became dear that Nero had relied on them largely in order to resist his mother's attempts at domination. With Agrippina out of the way, his wilfulness, self-indulgence and murderous inclinations came rapidly to the fore. No one was any longer in a position to check him, or even to moderate his excesses. Already in 55, when the influence of Seneca and Burrus was at its height, he had arranged for the thirteen-year-old Britannicus, whom he feared as a threat to his throne, to be poisoned at a family banquet before his very eyes. By the time Burrus himself died in 62, it was clear to Seneca that he had no further useful ' Seneca himoelf was suffect consul (a consul appointed for a couple of montm to fill out the term of one of the 'ordina•y' consuls) in 55 or 56. His brother Annaeus :-Jovatus had received the same honour in the year before. General Introduction role to play, and no efe f ctive power. He asked for leave to retire. The emperor refused - it would look bad if Seneca distanced himself. But though appearances were kept up, from that time onwards he no longer functioned as Nero's adviser and agent. He absented himself from the ciry much of the time. Two years later, he renewed his request. Nero granted it, accepting back from him much of the vast wealth which Seneca had amassed in his service. In the following year, however, in 65, Seneca was denounced for involvement in a widely spread plot - his nephew, the poet Lucan, seems in fact to have been one of the principal co-conspirators. Seneca was questioned, and then given the emperor's order to commit suicide, which he did by opening his veins.K The bulk of Seneca's surviving philosophical writings were written after his return from exile in 49,9 in the period of his association with the imperial household and in the relatively brief retirement (6z-s) that followed it. The 124 so-called Moral Letters to Luci/ius and the seven books of 'Investigations into Nature' (Naturales Qutustiones), also addressed to Lucilius, 10 date from this final retire­ ment. Of the texts translated in this volume, On Fm..10urs had not been completed by then. Against that, On Anger, most of it probably written during or even before Seneca's exile, was finished before sz; On Merry was composed in 55 or 56, early in the reign of Nero to whom it is dedicated; while On the Private Lift, though its date is uncertain, must be later than 48 and is almost certainly ' In Tacitus' extended account of Seneca's accusation �nd death (t!lm�ls X\" 00-4), his manner of dying was dearly modelled on that of Socrates as portrayed by Plat<> in the Phatdo. Seneca even took a supplementary dose <>f hemlock, but too late for it to have any effe.:t (64. J). Acconting to T""itus, Nero had no proof of Seneca's camplidty in th e plot, and had already attempted to poiwn him a year earlier (XV 45). A judicious and complete discus5ion of this and the <>!her ancient evidence for Seneca's 6nal years can be f<>und in Griffin, pp. 66-118. ' Many scholars suppose that his tragedies belong to this same time, having mostly been written during the decade of the sos. Tacitus (Annals XIV p) <:<>nne.:ts Seneca's writing of tragedies with !\lero's interest in the genre. See discussion and references in M. Schanz and C. H()Sius, Gnrlrichtr dn Riimisdrm Litffa/ur (Munich, 1935), pt 1, pp. 456-59. Otller sch<>lars maintain that the tragedies were largely e<>mposed during the Corsican exile, 41-9; see P. Grima], Sinfque (Paris 1981, in the colleetion Qur sais-jt?), p. 4l7. 10 This Ludlius was an old friend of Seneca's, about the same age, <>f the C([Uestrian order from Pompeii near �aples. He wrote p<>etry and phi!OS<>phical prose, wllile also 1010rking in the imperial government in Sicily and elsewhere. See Grillin, p. 91, f<>r details and references. General Introduction earlier than 63, the year in which its presumed dedicatee, Serenus, probably died. Works of Stoic philosophical theory, the four texts presented here reflect in places their author's familiarity ar the highest level with the politics of imperial Rome. How far this familiarity affected what he has to say m them, his readers must judge for themselves. Seneca and Stoic philosophy The Stoic school of philosophy had been founded in Athens, three centuries before Seneca's birth, by Zeno of Citium (335-263 ac). Zeno's teachings were refined and elaborated by his successors, most notabl:,.· by Chrysippus of Soli (c. zSo-207 ac). Indeed, 'Stoicism' was genera!!y understood as the system bequeathed by Chrysippus. Thoroughly absorbed by Seneca, it lie� at the heart of the essays in this ''olume. Seneca counts as a late, Roman Stoic. Scholars customarily dis­ tinguish three principal periods in the history of the school. To the 'Old Stoa' at Athens belongs the original format...
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